Category Archives: Favorite Finds

This Year In Review

Move over twenty-ten, we’re heading into the new year at full speed!  There are just a few days left to say our goodbyes and there’s no better time than the last week of an extra fabulous year to reflect on all the good that took place.  Although this year will most definitely be a hard one to beat, I’m so incredibly eager for the next chapter to unfold.

So, without further ado, a few of my favorite highlights from 2010:

I Got Hitched!

First and foremost, I turned in my singlehood this year for an adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jersey boy.  Also known as my husband, Grant.  As many of you know, we were married this September in Charleston, SC –and it was nothing short of perfect.

 

El Bulli Hacienda Benazuza

Eating at El Bulli Hacienda Benazuza, Ferran Adria’s restaurant outside of Seville, Spain was without doubt one of my top restaurant experiences.  Previously named the world’s best chef, Adria is known for his wacky, scientific style.  His take on food is that “Cuisine is not something to be had, but a state to be in”….and that state swept me away to a playful world of spherical olives, mimic peanuts and disappearing desserts.

Noma Named Best Restaurant in World

Taking over El Bulli’s number one spot this year for world’s best restaurant is René Redzepi’s Noma  in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Opening the door for Scandinavian cuisine, you will find on Chef Redzepi’s Nordic menu, items that have been foraged straight from the wilderness (so I hear).   This is likely something we’ll be seeing much more of in 2011 as many chefs are finding new ingredients the oldest kind of way — seeking out pure, natural foods like wild greens, nuts and even tree bark.  You can read more here in The New York Times where they recently highlighted some of the many new ingredients being foraged.

The Cherpumple Was Born 

Ok, I don’t know if I would classify this as a highlight, but it was entertaining nonetheless!  For those of you who unfortunately missed this gargantuan creation, writer Charles Phoenix developed the “turducken of desserts” – the cherpumple.  An outrageous creation consisting of three pies baked inside three cakes and glued together by heaps of cream cheese frosting.  Holy sweet tooth!

Eataly Opens in NYC

I have yet to go, but when I do I am going hungry, thirsty and wearing  the stretchiest pant I own.   Some of our favorite Italian chefs opened a celebration of Italian cuisine in Manhattan, comprised of markets, restaurants and shops with the the nations best Italian foods.

Avocado Ice Cream

One of the first recipes posted here on Daily Crave and one of my favorites.  If you’ve never had it, try it.  You’ll love it.  I promise.

I Got A New Camera

Not just any camera, but my first SLR!  Give it up for the Canon EOS Rebel T2i.

Ninety Acres at Natirar

Although Ninety Acres actually opened in December of 09′, it wasn’t until 2010 that I finally got to indulge in the new restaurants “farm to table” experience.  If you live in the surrounding area, and you’ve not yet been — go!  (And then thank me later.)   Even a non-foodie will appreciate the gorgeous setting in the heart of New Jersey’s countryside.  The 491-estate set against green rolling hills, previously owned my the King of Morocco, has now been transformed into an elegant spa and an amazing restaurant based on local ingredients sourced directly from the Natirar property.

Chef Natalie Lewis: Open for Business!

Lastly, in 2010 I announced the opening of Chef Natalie Lewis, a personal chef and catering service.  A lot of fun was had in the process of creating the new biz, so I thought I’d share with you a couple of photos that didn’t make the cut…

Take two:   (There are very few things more fun than doing a photo shoot in the woods with a bottle of wine and a baguette!) 

Ok, one more time:

So, here it is — just a few of the delicious happenings of this spectacular year!  Happy New Year to you all and here’s to an even more flavor-filled 2011 — Salut!

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Filed under All Posts, Favorite Finds, Holidays - Christmas, Personal, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Carolina Red Rice

I am no history guru — but I do know Charleston receives much attention for being the starting point of the infamous Rebels and Yankees, Civil War.  But what everyone doesn’t realize is that in the 18 century the city served as a major shipping port for rice, which was cultivated in the surrounding plantations — including Middleton Place, where we said our “I do’s”!  (And that’s how you turn history into food talk, folks!)  But I truly never realized how delicious rice in the Low Country region is until I was introduced to: Carolina Plantation Rice.  Mildly sweet and slightly nutty flavors make this aromatic rice distinctively pleasing to the palate.  

One of the best pieces of advice I will ever give you:  always ensure you have plenty of southern confederates on hand who keep your rice commodities fully stocked — because trust me when I tell you that once you ally with Carolina rice, you will never turn back!  Until then, you can find it  Here (along with some great recipes)! 

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 – 1/2 cup stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper

Cook bacon in sauté pan until browned, but not too crisp.  Remove and drain on paper towel. Add onions and bell pepper to the pan and cook in the bacon grease until soft.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, Tabasco, salt, pepper.  Add bacon back to the pan with the rice.  Ensure rice is emerged completely in liquid (you may have to add water if not) and bring to a boil.  Once the rice begins to boil cover and turn heat down. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until rice is cooked.

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Filed under All Posts, Charleston, Favorite Finds, Side Dishes, Southern Specialties, Uncategorized

Sea Biscuit Cafe

Well, it’s official; I am a Mrs! Every second of this wonderful weekend was filled to the brim with good food, great friends and family, and a lot of love and laughter! 

Our wedding took place in Charleston, SC — the culinary Mecca of the South.  For those of you who have not had the chance to visit this charming city — well, let’s just say even a soon-to-be-suited-up-in-a-snug-white-dress bride couldn’t resist filling up on creamy Shrimp and Grits, tasty Fried Green Tomatoes, and the classic Charleston She Crab Soup (recipes to come!).  This part of the South truly knows how to do it right. 

My first day started off at Sea Biscuit Cafe with a homespun breakfast that was powerful enough to turn any Yankee into a grit-loving southerner within one bite.  Veering off from my normal shrimp gravy and biscuits I savored each bite of their perfectly poached eggs benedict while sneaking mouthfuls of a cinnamon crumb cake in between. 

I wish I could tell you it ended at breakfast, but this was just the beginning. I may possibly be the only bride ever known who actually gained weight on the days leading up to the big day.  But as my bridesmaid Kristi would say: when in Rome! 

Stay tuned for some of my favorite Lowcountry recipes!

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Another one bites the dust

Hello lovely Friday, we meet again.  It’s funny how some weeks are ended by a screeching halt leaving me in question of where all those hours disappeared to, and others I’m counting down bottles of beer on the wall with sheer anticipation for five o’clock.  Regardless, in the big picture of life, they all go by in a pinch.  So, if that’s not reason enough for you, then I don’t know what is!  Splurge.  Go ahead…you deserve it!

 

Chorci Custom Chocolate Bars

Make your own chocolate bar! These are delicious and fun (this is great for those of you whose sweet tooths have multi-personalities)!

Sweeteeth

Add a little funk to your Friday. Artisan chocolate with outrageous twists — blue cheese and black peppercorn dark chocolate?  Don’t let the ingredients alarm you, they are DELICIOUS!  My personal favorites: Pineapple-braised jalapeno white chocolate and  Salted Caramel

Jeni’s Ice Cream

The BEST ice cream ever.  And yes — they ship!  Although this isn’t exactly budget-friendly, this ice cream is made from seasonal and local farm fresh ingredients (from Ohio!) and there is truly no other like it. With flavors like Riesling Poached Pear and Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries, you’ll be dreaming of this all year-long.

Better Bit of Butter

These cookies are almost too pretty to eat.  And they taste just as delightful as they look.  They make great favors, hostess gifts or just a pure Saturday indulgence.

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Fried Chicken and Pancakes

Happy Monday, Y’all!  Over the weekend some of my best gal friends and I set off for Nashville, TN for some good country music and cowboy hat-wearing fun. No girls weekend would be complete without digging into some local good eats (especially when you’re in the south). So, that’s just what we did.

My friend, Kristi, introduced us to this southern-style hotspot, called Monell’s.  It’s nestled away in a neighborhood of the historical “Germantown” district in a big old house, full of character.  This is the type of place where you leave the glitz and the glamour at the door and bring with you an appetite the size of Memphis.

When we arrived we were escorted to our table where we sat with seven other folks – mostly Nashville natives.  We began to chat away while we were served an all you can eat, familly-style breakfast.  There were no menus, no choices to make – we just ate what they were cooking up for the day – which included (you may want to sit down for this): warm cinnamon rolls; biscuits and gravy; cheesy grits; potatoes; corn pudding; eggs; bacon-sausage-ham; spiced apples; fried chicken; and pancakes.  And wow, was it good (with extra emphasis on the oo)!

If you are ever in the area, check this place out.  You’ll leave with new friends, unbuttoned pants, and a grin from ear to ear.

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Filed under All Posts, Favorite Finds, Restaurants, Tennessee

My Last Supper

 

I am in love with this book.  When I say in love, I mean I want to immerse myself into every mouth-watering, gratifying, indulgent detail.  Famed chefs from around the world reveal the most unadulterated expressions of what they would eat if it were their last meal on earth.   It’s full of heartfelt details such as where they would be eating, with whom, what they would be drinking, music that would be playing.

For me, my last meal on earth would definitely be breakfast inspired. I think this would be it:

A char grilled filet topped with a perfectly fried egg and dollop of béarnaise sauce, all sitting on thick toasted brioche.   Accompanied by classic country home frieswith ketchup.  Eeek, sorry, I know I totally just killed the mood, but I really love ketchup with my home fries.

As I share the quotes from some of my favorite culinary geniuses sit back and envision what you would choose to eat if it were your last supper.

Anthony Bourdain:  Roast bone marrow with parsley and caper salad, with a few toasted slices of baguette and some good sea salt”

Eric Ripert: “It would be a simple dish, a slice of toasted country bread, some olive oil, shaved black truffle, rock salt, and black pepper”

Thomas Keller:  “I would begin with a half kilo of osetra caviar, followed by some otoro. I would then have a quesadilla, followed by a roast chicken, and finally, brie with truffles.  For dessert I would choose to have either profiteroles or a lemon tart”

Lidia Bastianich:  “My last meal would consist of sliced San Daniele prosciutto with some ripe black fig; linguini with white clam sauce; a plate of Grana Padano; and perfectly ripe, juicy pears”

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Herb roasted chicken topped with a black cherry balsamic, molasses and crispy bacon sauce

Last summer, while vacationing in Maine, I came across this little gem called Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars.   Located in Bar Harbor, they specialize in high quality,  specialty olive oils and vinegars that are TO DIE FOR.  I was sure to snatch up several bottles from their wide selection which includes flavors such as:  Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Honey Ginger White Balsamic, Cinnamon Pear Balsamic, Herbs de Provence Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Dark Chocolate Balsamic…stop me now, I could go on! 

Lucky for us they have an online store too! http://stores.fioreoliveoils.com/

I made this dish, for two, with the Fiore Black Cherry Balsamic (which can be substituted for regular balsamic if necessary) and it was absolutely delicious.

  • 2 chicken breasts halves
  • 1/2 tbs fresh Thyme
  • 2 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3-4 strips of bacon chopped
  • 1/3 cup Fiore Black Cherry Balsamic
  • 1 tbs dark molasses
  • 1 shallot finely diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and begin to prepare chicken.  With a mortar and pestle grind together thyme, rosemary and garlic into a paste.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cover with the herb paste completely.   Place in a roasting dish and top with butter.  Bake until chicken is cooked through or for about 25-30 minutes.   Once chicken is baked place under the broiler to crisp the skin.

While the chicken is baking begin to prepare the sauce.   Sauté bacon in pan until crisp.  Remove from pan and discard most of the grease, but leaving just enough to coat the pan.  Add the shallots to the pan and scrape all of the brown bits left on the bottom.  Cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar.  Reduce the vinegar down until it begins to slightly thicken and then add the molasses (you may have to add a splash of vinegar to adjust the acidity to your liking).  Add bacon back to the pan stir into sauce just until coated.  Pour sauce over the herbed chicken breasts and serve with rice.

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Filed under All Posts, Favorite Finds, Maine, Recipes - Chicken