Pistachio Pesto Flatbread

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What it is: Pistachio Pesto Flatbread

Where is it: Garces Trading Company, Philadelphia, PA

Price: $10

What’s in it: Thin cracker-y flatbread with pistachio pesto and mozzarella, topped with arugula and (who would have guessed?) horseradish

Why you need it: you can choose between vegetarian pizza dough or dough made with duck fat. The vegetarian dough is perhaps too matzo-like but the toppings are what made this delicious. A hint of zing! from the horseradish sealed the deal.

The Simple Things: Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter. I’m at a point in my life (i.e. one year until I graduate from college) where suddenly it seems like the “big things” take precedence. And then I take a step back and I see this:

…a still pond on a perfect summer’s day…

…a surprise thunderstorm…

…Robin’s egg blue nail polish…

…and a fabulous, fresh, seasonal, and simple dinner.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus is a new favorite of mine, despite the fact that my pee smells after eating asparagus. Nonetheless, roasting fresh asparagus with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a spritz of balsamic vinegar is a way to showcase this vegetable.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup  balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place asparagus in a Ziploc bag and pour olive oil into bag. Shake until the asparagus is coated. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle the cheese on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for minutes 12-15 minutes until asparagus is tender but crisp. Remove from oven and drizzle vinegar before serving.

Blueberry Corn Salad

Before I knew much about food, I figured the category “Fruits and Vegetables” should be two categories, “Fruit” and “Vegetables.” But after tasting salads such as arugula and watermelon or even mango salsa, I have realized that fruits and vegetables complement each other. Maybe you are saying “Duh” or maybe you have not ventured into this world of fruit/vegetable hybridity, but nonetheless I can’t wait to continue experimenting. A good rule of thumb is that if the fruit or vegetable grows at the same time of the year, the produce will likely go well together. Think: tomatoes and cucumbers (drizzle with olive oil and vinegar). Simple, but delicious, flavors.

In the case of this Blueberry Corn Salad, evidently blueberries and corn are showcased. The spice of the jalapenos, which stung my hands for twenty-four hours, and the sweetness of corn, plus the tang of blueberries is fantastic. I used a white onion, despite the recipe calling for a red onion. Other than that, I followed this recipe.

Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.

Poolville Country Store, NY

As mentioned many times before, going to school in upstate New York leaves much to be desired in terms of culinary experiences. On the one hand, I save a considerable amount of money. On the other hand, it’s easy to see how students can subsist on Ramen noodles.

However, I got a chance to visit the Poolville Country Store, a bed and breakfast that serves way more than just breakfast. As a birthday treat, my parents came to visit and took me to this quaint spot for lunch. They specialize in locally-sourced foods, and most of the menu items were vegetarian or pescetarian, both plusses in my book. (Although, it does make one wonder how you get fresh “local” seafood when you are hundreds of miles from the ocean.)

We were first served a few squares of blueberry crumb cake. Buttery, rich goodness.

Unsure of whether or not it was lunch time or breakfast time, I settled on savory tastes despite my two cups of coffee and this blueberry treat. We ordered polenta fries, smothered in gorgonzola cheese on a bed of mixed greens. Salty but so fabulous, this dish makes me want to experiment more with polenta. The shrimp and vegetable rolls were also fabulous, with a smattering of wasabi aioli that was flavorful. My only complaint was that the menu spelled “shrimp” incorrectly.My caesar salad was standard, though the (single) anchovy on top was appreciated. It’s unfortunate there weren’t more anchovies to really bring out the flavor. I had a large bowlful of lobster bisque which was delicious, though salty. Lastly, a taste of this crab cake made our meal complete. Moist, tasty rounds of crab served with lemon aioli were fantastic. All in all, a pleasant, filling, delicious experience…particularly for upstate New York.

 

Puerto Vallarta (and some unbelievable food)

ImageAs you may already know, I spent the past week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The trip, my first to Mexico, exceeded my expectations. Of course, my boyfriend and I were constantly comparing the place to other trips we’ve been on to Nicaragua and Bali. Each and every place has a beauty of its own, both in terms of landscape, people, and food culture. Thus, it’s impossible to compare the trips. Once again, I ate my way through the vacation and boy was it worth it.ImageImage

The best meal we ate was at El Andariego. Steps from the city center, this restaurant certainly gives patrons both quantity and quality. The mural walls are funky, but the best part, other than the food, was the incredible service. Our server, Jesus, made us guacamole at the table. He also served us a free taste (or two) of Mexico’s famous tequila…

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I ordered the Fish Tacos, which were flavorful thanks to the addition of pineapple. Pickled onions, rice, a delicious sweet corn bread, beans, and avocado crème were served on the side. My stomach was in heaven.

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My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Fajitas, which in his words were “the best fajitas” he’s ever had.

Evidence of this claim are shown by the demolition he did to his meal:

After a week filled with deep-fried cheese enchiladas, mounds of tortilla chips, fruity drinks and lounging on the beach, I am thankful that I am training for a marathon…