Tuesday, September 27, 2011

High Tea at Lady Mendl's

Few things make me feel more sophisticated and lady-like than high tea.  As such, on a gorgeous late-summer day, mom and I visited Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon for a little indulgence. 
Located at the Inn at Irving Place – a landmark townhouse built in 1834 – the salon has an air of refinement, without the pretense.  As the site states (which couldn’t be more true), “the Victorian style architecture and furnishings recreate a time of sublime elegance. Guests can easily envision Edith Wharton or Elsie De Wolfe entertaining friends at the turn of the century.”
 We arrived promptly for our noon seating and were quickly escorted to our table – a lovely one for two, right next to a window, with a gorgeous fresh flower arrangement displayed there on.   
 We first ordered a mimosa and then were presented with our tea selections (of which there were many). I opted for the jasmine tea, which was light, fragrant and just lovely.  
Upon taking our tea order, we were offered the first of our five courses, which was a min-butternut squash tart. With a heart shaped dollop of crème fraiche.  

The second course was tea sandwiches and our selection included: smoked salmon with dill cream cheese on pumpernickel; cucumber with mint crème fraiche on brioche; classic egg salad on rye (which was my absolute favorite, enough to take a second helping) and smoked turkey and cranberry on seven grain. 
 We were then offered our third course, consisting of scones (a plain and cranberry) with Devonshire clotted cream and house made preserves (raspberry). 
The dessert course was “Lady Mendl’s Signature Cake” which is a tissue paper thin, twenty-Layer Crepe Cake filled with French pastry cream. It was light, delicious and obvious why it’s their signature dish. While we were quite full at this point, we couldn’t say no to this amazing cake. 
 And finally, we were presented with the fifth course of assorted cookies and chocolate covered strawberries (which we merely picked at, as we were far from hungry). 
Overall, the service was excellent, white gloved and very attentive. It was clear that the servers understood the ritual of high tea and took pride in their job. The room was gorgeous with beautiful high ceilings (and wonderful crown molding) with a floral and feminine feel. 
While high tea at The Plaza is still my favorite experience, this was a close second and I would quickly recommend this to anyone looking for a nice, indulgent girl’s day out.
I’m always on the hunt for new tea places to try….any NYC suggestions?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yankees Game (and Museum)

I love baseball – on the radio, on T.V., but especially at the stadium. Over Labor Day weekend, Rob and I hopped the train to the Bronx for some good American fun!
We got there with time to spare, so waited in line to check out the Yankees Museum and were impressed with the history and relics they were able to fit into the relatively small space. 
All the memorabilia tells a great tale of the game – the history, its place in the country’s culture and the fan adoration, and beyond.  I was impressed with the quality of preservation and enjoyed seeing some very old pieces (like Babe Ruth’s uniform) intact.  
Of course, being a newer fan, I also enjoyed some recent items, like the jersey from Jeter’s 3,000 hit. 
And being a lady who enjoys some bling, I marveled at the vast collection of World Series rings, which varied in style as the years progressed.  The rings have certainly got more showy and ostentatious, but I think it’s safe to surmise that that’s just keeping pace with our society in general. 
I enjoyed the museum much more than expected, but my favorite was the model of the new stadium. As a doll-house collector, growing up, I am still drawn to miniatures and the detail and precision of this one was very impressive. 

Beyond the museum, we had a great day at the game and enjoyed walking around, having ball park treats (Nathan’s hot dog and fries- yum!) and being part of the excitement. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Corn Chowder

A big fan of soups, especially corn chowder, I decided to take advantage of the late-summer sweet corn and make a batch on a quiet evening. While it requires a good deal of veggies, it’s very simple to make (aren’t most soups?) and consistently treats my taste buds.
First, I started out with my veggies: corn (6 ears), 4 stalks of celery, 2 potatoes, a red bell pepper, an onion and 2 jalapenos. 
 I cut them all up into uniform little pieces and got them ready for the pot. 
 Meantime, I simmered the corn cobs in store-bought veggie stock to give it a deeper corn flavor and that did the trick. 
Next, I sautéed bacon in the soup pot and drained off the excess grease (yuck!). 
 Then, added the veggies – everything but the corn and potatoes – and let that soften for about 5-7 minutes. After they were simmering and soft, I added the corn and potatoes, in addition to a clove of garlic, a bay leaf, rosemary and thyme (and of course, salt & pepper).
After the flavors had a chance to marry, I poured in the broth (corn cob and all) and let that simmer for about a half hour (with the top on). I also added a pinch of cayenne, as a little bite is nice with this soup. 
 Once it was all simmered up, I removed the corn cobs and herbs. 
 Then, I went to work with the immersion blender and brought the soup to a nice, velvety texture. 
 The result was a sweet and spicy soup, as the corn lends a great, fresh, summery taste and the jalapeno (and cayenne) provides that fun and unexpected kick. 
 It’s been a much enjoyed lunch for work this week and I may have to make an extra batch before the summer comes to a close. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Parked! South Street Seaport

A few weeks back, I had perky ears upon hearing of an impending food truck festival, right in my ‘hood, at the South Street Seaport.  Parked! – a gathering of food trucks from around the city – boasted more than 25 food vendors all in one convenient location and boy, was I excited.
We arrived relatively early on a bright, sunny Saturday and I was immediately overwhelmed with the choices. There was a little something for everyone and options ranged from burgers to waffles to schnitzel and beyond. 
As I already checked out the participants prior to arriving, I had a plan in mind and headed right for Red Hook Lobster Pound. I had heard great things about their lobster roll and was eager to make a judgment.  It certainly didn’t disappoint and they large chunks of claw meat were lightly dressed in mayo, tender and delicious. Some chips and a root-beer were the perfect compliments. 

After a post-meal stroll, I was ready for more and enjoyed a simple scoop of strawberry ice cream from Van Leeuwens, while Rob got a slush from Kelvin. 

It was really nice to see all the trucks in one location and further illustrated how the food truck craze has taken hold. I particularly enjoyed the truck art and branding/marketing that went into each. It’s clear to see how some have fully embraced this venture and how some have merely jumped on the bandwagon, trying to make a quick buck from the trend. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fantasy Football Draft Party

As if the snackadium weren't enough, I had to throw in a few extra treats for the big Fantasy Football draft day.
First, as any good student would do, I made my “super important Fantasy Football materials folder” which attractively housed my studying/drafting materials. 

 Then, as I’m wont to do, I made some hand painted wine glasses for the evening’s festivities. Being that they take so long to make, I only crafted one for me and one for Nicole, but after a couple requests, it looks as if I’ll be making my largest batch ever – one for each member of our Christmas Bingo Party (but that’s a blog post for another day). 

 The draft was a really good time and I enjoyed having the first pick (which went for Adrian Peterson). I’m pleased with my team and have some good guys including – Steven Jackson, Mark Ingram (who wasn't that impressive last night), Calvin Johnson, Daren Sproles (my favorite, the “little lightening bug”- who I sadly had on my bench for the first game) and another fave, Jason Witten.  I hope this team pulls it off and I get some cash money!
 Overall, we all had a fun time – laboring over who next to pick, what drink to make and which part of the snackadium to eat. Not a bad life in the least!