Category Archives: Restaurants

Brussel Sprout Salad

Brussel sprouts are such a touchy subject.  They are the vegetable everyone loves to hate.  I too was once a brusselbasher but I vividly remember the moment my feelings changed.   There is a well-known restaurant in Cincinnati, called Boca (if you are ever in the ‘nati you must go), and on the menu are caramelized brussels sprouts.  When I dined at Boca for the first time this was an appetizer on the menu (that’s how good it was).   They were soft and tender, yet still had a slight bite with the perfect amount of warm brown butter and sweet caramelization.   I ate them like candy.

Needless to say, since that experience I have gained a new appreciation for the little black sheeps.   It also taught me a valuable lesson in that butter makes everything better with the right preparation you can bring out different sides of foods that no one has ever seen!

(Measurements are to taste)

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of toasted pecans
  • shaved red onion
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese

Cut ends off of brussel sprouts and slice thin.  In a large saute pan heat olive oil to med-high and add shredded brussel sprouts.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until they begin to brown and are slightly wilted.

Remove from heat and toss with cranberries, pecans, red onion, splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Top with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Filed under Appetizers and the likes, Ohio, Restaurants, Scrumpdidily Salads, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetables

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

The Good, The Bad, and The Hungry – And the World’s Best Foam

Continued from The Good, The Bad, and The Hungry    

We reluctantly drug our feet (and our Port-filled bellies) out the door of our Portuguese oasis clinging onto only the hope that our next destination would welcome us with seafood paella, Iberian ham, sweetened churros, and the smokey chorizo that Spain is famed for.  And it did just that.  We delighted over all the local eateries that delectably served up classic Spanish cuisine, satisfying our much anticipated hunger.     

    

In addition to the classics, we also had some dishes that were — well, not so classic.  Prior to our trip abroad I researched, read, studied, and salivated over all the suggested spots a die-hard food-lover should try.  337 year old tapas restaurants here, famous seafood restaurants there – we never skipped a beat.   We even made reservations at La Alqueria — a restaurant of one of the world’s best chefs, Ferran Adria.  Chef Adria is known for his highly acclaimed restaurant in Barcelona, El Bulli, in which he pushes the limits of cooking with mind-boggling, wacky food science  (aka molecular gastronomy).   Last year, he was named S.Pellegrino’s world’s best chef, as well as receiving the best chef of the decade award.  So, who wouldn’t want to eat at his sister restaurant in the suburbs of Sevilla?!    

    

After finagling our way into the packed out reservation list we set off for the restaurant which is housed in a luxurious hotel just on the outskirts of the city.  We didn’t let the unassuming outside fool us, as we knew the inside was littered with perfectly mannered maitre d’s, knowledgable sommeliers, and gracefully dressed servers in pristine, crisp jackets and sharp white gloves.  After being escorted to our table with an apéritif in hand, Grant was presented with the water menu.  Not just any water menu, but a menu that was neatly coiled inside of a frozen glass tube which misted fog into the air as it was pulled out.  Waters from around the world, flat vs still, expensive vs more expensive — they had more water than most places have wine.     

We began sipping on our posh H2O, as our first course of 15 was presented – spherical olives.  For those of you top chef watchers, you’ll know that a spherical olive is a soft outer shell encapsulating an olive-ey liquid center that bursts into your mouth within contact.  Followed by the olives were “mimic peanuts” and mojito soaked sugar cane for a twist on a traditional liquid cocktail.    

Oyster and Marrow Tartare

Dish after dish continued pouring out as we ate each bite with total astonishment, pondering the intelligence behind the fine-tuned components.  Razar Clams with Citrus Foam, Oyster and Marrow Tartare, Asparagus and Grapefruit with Mayonnaise Foam, and a frozen dessert that completely disappeared within 10 seconds of being placed on the table. “Eat this fast!” the server shouted to us.    

Asparagus and Grapefruit with Mayonnaise Foam

As I sat there utterly enjoying each astounding  bite, I began to fear that my dining partner was not.  It was somewhere around the 11th course when I regretfully asked my husband what he thought.  “Foam? You made me come to a restaurant where the water cost more than this trip itself,  just to eat Foam?”  I answered his question with a smirk as I knew he was finding just as much enjoyment out of the experience as I was.  (Grant, deniably, loves to eat just like myself, and he has an enormous appetite to prove it.)   

   

   

We wrapped up the night by oo-ing and ah-ing over the last few courses of a blood orange sorbet with sponge cake and freeze-dried chocolate and raspberry crackle pop (the spotty english translations led me to creating that title myself).  We munched on the crackle pop while Grant continued to ask what we were really having for dinner.  Although he complained for the entire cab ride home that 15 courses of foam did nothing but leave him starving, and has repeatedly replaced the word foam with anything associated with that night, I know that he secretly had one of the most amazing dining experiences that will never be forgotten, just as I did.

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Filed under All Posts, Personal, Restaurants, Spain, Uncategorized

A Taste of Charleston

There are two essential things you must always bring with you when visiting Charleston: sunblock and an eat-all-you-can-eat-until-you-can’t-eat-anymore attitude.  Charleston is without doubt my all-time favorite food city.  When friends asked me for suggestions on what to do and where to go, I couldn’t help but ramble off every possible dining room within a twenty-mile radius (while completely skipping over all of the beautiful history, shopping and beaches that also make this place so wonderful).  What really gets me excited is how you can dine with southern sophistication at restaurants serving up lavish interpretations of Lowcountry cuisine, or just as easily be seduced by a classic home cooked meal in a small inconspicuous kitchen.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find on some of the menus:

Slightly North of Broad’s

Shrimp Bisque with Thai Curry & Blue Crab Claw Meat

  • 2 (medium) yellow onions, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 head fennel bulb (or 1/2 head celery), diced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 qts strong shrimp stock
  • 1 lb blue crab claw meat, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3/4 lb butter
  • 1 tbsp red Thai curry
  • 1 qt cream
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco
  • 1 cup Madeira
  • 1 tsp white pepper

Melt butter in sauté pan, add salt and all vegetables. Sweat until tender. Add curry and stir.  Add flour to vegetables to create a roux and stir well. Whisk in shrimp stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Whisk in cream and simmer 5 minutes.  Saute crab meat in butter, and then add to bisque.  Add Tabasco, Madeira and white pepper – stirring to mix.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

 

Middleton Place Plantation’s

Corn Pudding

  • 2 cups yellow corn
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3/4 qt heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Place yellow corn in a greased casserole pan. Mix all other ingredients together. Pour mixture over corn and bake for 45 minutes at 350 F or until golden brown.

 

Boone Hall Plantation’s

Fried Green Tomatoes with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes

  •  5-8 large green tomatoes
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • garlic salt, cayenne and pepper to taste

Egg wash

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • dash of salt

Slice tomatoes. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, flour, cornmeal and spices in large bowl.  Make egg wash in separate bowl and prepare a third bowl with the cup of flour.  Dip each tomato into the flour, egg wash and finally the breadcrumb mixture. Fry in vegetable oil at 350 F, about 2-4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and serve with sour cream dill sauce.

Sour Cream Dill Sauce

  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Dukes mayo
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh dill
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • garlic, salt and pepper to taste

 

Sea Biscuit Cafe’s

Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup over-ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Mix wet together, and blend in the dry ingredients. Bake in a well-greased loaf pan at 400 F for 10 minutes. Then turn oven to 350 F and bake for another 45 minutes.

 

Ashley Inn’s

Peaches & Cream Stuffed Waffles & Praline Sauce

Waffle Batter

  • 4 cups waffle mix
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp orange extract

Mix all together. Prepare waffles and spread 1/2 tbsp filling on waffle. Top with peach slices and fold over. Top with praline sauce and garnish with dollop of sour cream, more peach slices and sprig of mint.

Filling

  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Spring of mint (optional)

Whip together with electric mixer.

Praline Sauce

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup water (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Combine ingredients and melt in saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water(or maple syrup) to thin and 1 cup whole pecans.

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Filed under All Posts, Charleston, Recipes, Restaurants, 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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A Culinary Cornucopia

The combination of living in New Jersey and residing 20 miles outside of The Big Apple, has expectedly resulted in an overwhelmingly large restaurant wish list.  One place specifically that has long been on my mind (ever since the talented Anne Constance snapped our engagement photos) is Ninety Acres.  Ninety Acres is a new restaurant that has opened in the 491-acre Natirar estate, which was once home to the King of Morocco.       

Photo by Anne Constance: http://anneconstance.com/

     

Set against rolling acres the King’s old mansion sits high in the center of one of the most serene and peaceful places in New Jersey.  The moment your feet hit the entrance, you begin to feel alive as earth’s unparalleled nature consumes you with plush greenery and innate beauty.   A perfect reminder of the true meaning of beauty.  

    

Adjacent to the house (which will soon be a spa and fitness club) is the restored carriage house and garage which is where Ninety Acres lives.  Complete with a restaurant, bar and cooking school, the culinary center also supplies their own fresh and local products from the surrounding  farm land.  Boy does this make me giddy!  Gardens and greenhouses are out the window to your left. Barns and stables are down the road to your right.  Just as they say — farm to table is one thing, but this is a table at the farm.   

Our first experience at the culinary cornucopia was for an ideal morning brunch.     

    

A Homemade Terrine and Pate, Fresh Picked Berries and Yogurt, Natirar Poached Eggs with Chicken Hash and Chocolate Bread French Toast with Corn Flake Crust and Bourbon Maple Syrup.  So rich with freshness, exquisitely pure in taste and the most dreamy Chocolate French Toast my stomach’s ever laid eyes on.  Good thing the cute guy sitting across the table proposed first!   

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The Best of New England

Sometimes, when I am vacationing in an unfamiliar land, I like to roll up my sleeves and pretend I am Anthony Bourdain’s fearless sidekick, diving head first into whatever is put in front of me — while my sweetheart, Grant, grudgingly documents. 

Over the fourth we stayed at Grant’s family’s lake house in Maine, and while he knows the area all too well, I am still an eager little girl trying to discover every nook and cranny of the region. From fields of fresh wild blueberries to the finest lobstah in the world – Down East is where it’s at.

First stop on the culinary map – The Lobster Pot in Ellsworth, Maine.

The name describes it all – the king of crustaceans, the tenderloin of the sea, the most succulent Homarus in all of our existence.  Lobster, fresh out of the cold Atlantic waters, steamed in oversized pots of nothing but salted water –  where the magic does its work.

What I love most about this delicate indulgence is – while you can find it on the menus of many five-star restaurants, and turned into any type of stuffed, baked or fussed-with dish –  it is best when enjoyed straight from shell to mouth, celebrating its luxurious simplicity with our God-given hands…and while wearing a plastic bib covered by a giant lobster. 

 …and finally, my most adorable partner in crime and avid camera man – Grant!

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Filed under Maine, Personal, Restaurants