Friday, March 25, 2011

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

Like many people, I love my morning coffee. I crave perfection in my coffee. Electric drip machine coffee in heated glass pots and huge steel canisters of brewed coffee at the office cafeteria don't really cut it for me. I've taken a long time to try and perfect my morning cup (or cups!), and today I'm going to share my formula. The keys are the actual beans, the grinding process, and the brewing method. I've put my steps together based on tips from around the internet, conversations with other coffee drinkers, and regular old trial and error. Everyone has a different taste for coffee, so I'm sure you can modify some of my steps to create your own perfect cup!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Las Vegas - gluttony was maybe our only sin in Sin City!

Tricia and I poolside at the Mandalay Bay where we stayed
In October of 2009, Tricia and I took our first vacation together to Las Vegas. We went over Halloween weekend, when Sin City was perhaps at its most saturated point in terms of debauchery and excess (excess might be a misnomer, because you wouldn't believe what some girls wear out there!). However, Tricia and I refrained from the club scene for the most part in favor of hitting up some of the fine restaurants along the strip. We were treated to some of the most fabulous culinary delights that either of us has ever encountered. The highlights from 3 of the most memorable below:

Boston, MA: Insert "that's what she said" comment anywhere

I was in Boston for business and I was having dinner with my old friend Kevin who I have not seen since freshman year. He now works at Blue Ginger, a coveted restaurant on my list. For dinner, he took me to the Metropolitan Club in Chestnut Hill, MA. This restaurant is your typical dark and intimate restaurant for couples but upscale and professional enough for big bankers to take their clients for drinks. Their cocktail menu was quite interesting with a big emphasis on their martinis and any liqueur you can think of. But I was too hungry to try any alcohol that night.

Once I opened up the menu, I immediately ordered the duck confit spring rolls to share. Those were AMAZING. The duck fat was not heavy at all and occasionally you would have some drip out of the spring roll, a sign of its richness. The wonton wrapping was so crispy and light and loosely wrapped a mixture of vegetables and duck meat. Each spring roll had about 4 chunks of duck meat with crispy skin and a bit of duck sauce in the middle. It was a cross between Peking duck and Mooshu pork (but without the pork, obviously). I had 3 spring rolls which took me a while to eat because of the richness of it. But no worries, I still had my appetite for my entree, the XL Kobe beef hot dog. I confess, I love hot dogs. I love them more than hamburgers, more than pizza, and definitely more than some pastries. Something about savory, juicy meat wrapped in a soft and carby bun that you can eat with one hand. When this dish arrived at my table, I was actually flabbergasted at the length of this hot dog. They were not kidding about being XL! If I had to estimate, it would be more than a foot long (like 3 Ballparks). Our waiter and his fellow waiters watched as I eyed the specimen on my plate to figure out how to eat the damn thing in the most lady-like fashion. I picked up a knife and fork to start, but Kevin forced me to eat it the way Americans should eat it, hold with two hands and mouth wide. And so I did. The casing was crisp and taut and the beef itself was savory, hint of sweetness with a ton of smokey flavor. On the side was the Met's homemade mustard relish which was equally delicious. I typically don't like mustard at all on my hot dog, just plain ketchup will do. But this mustard really kicked any ketchup's ass, even if it was homemade. The mustard was chunky, with a mixture of pickles, onions and something resembling red peppers. The relish was sweet, not too spicy and an excellent addition to my XL hot dog.

You're probably asking whether I finished it or not. I could never let that hot dog go to waste. It took me awhile to chow down, especially with the side of fries, but I trooped it out and enjoyed every single juicy bite. I'm salivating just thinking about the savoriness of the beef.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Trish and I love to eat fancy food and prepared feasts... but sometimes, when you get home from work, it's more about what you can whip up in under an hour. Here's an easy recipe for a Mexican-inspired soup that takes less than half an hour and turns out to be delicious and nutritious.

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Cream Glaze

For St. Patty's day, Tricia attempted to incorporate some Irish into her cupcakes. After some trial and error with baking times and temperatures, she managed to create these delicious, super-dense white chocolate cupcakes. To "Irish" it up, she dyed them green and glazed them with a thing Irish Cream-flavored ganache. The dinosaurs? I don't know - you'd have to ask Tricia! See the recipe on the next page...


Trying this out for the first time!