weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Weeknight Gourmet is Back from Spain!

Tim and I arrived home from our wonderful trip to northern Spain on Wednesday.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed each stop on the trip — Bilbao, Rioja, and San Sebastian.  Beautiful scenery as well as good food and wine were enjoyed in each location.

The culinary highlight of our trip was our once-in-a-lifetime dinner at the 3-star Michelin restaurant Martin Bersategui in Lasarte, outside of San Sebastian.  For those of you not familiar with the Michelin rankings, a 3-star rating is reserved for the finest restaurants across the globe.  San Sebastian actually has the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants of anywhere in the world.

We enjoyed a 13-course tasting menu on a gorgeous terrace filled with orchids.  The food was incredibly inventive.  The chef used emulsions and foams in several dishes which are common in molecular gastronomy.  Each course was small.  But it was truly incredible how much flavor could be packed into each bite.  Some highlights include peach gazpacho, eel with foie gras and topped with caramelized onion, and fennel three ways — as a risotto, emulsion, and puree.  The service was impeccable and the amazing chef introduced himself to us as the end of the meal.  It was truly unforgettable!

The other culinary highlight was quite different from the indulgent meal at Martin Bersategui — it was wandering the streets in the old town of San Sebastian eating pintxos — or the Basque form of tapas.  We would move from bar to bar and order a drink and pick up a couple of pintxos — most of which are served on bread.  We enjoyed jamon Iberico, peppers stuffed with cod, tortilla de patata and many others!  It was a wonderful way to explore and have a fun dinner.

Overall we had a great trip!  We both loved Spain and hope to go back at some point!

¡Vamos a Espana!

spanish flag

Tim and I off to Spain tonight.  It is our first real vacation since starting AdBuyer.com.  The trip is also in honor of our anniversary — hard to believe 5 years ago at this time we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii and Northern California!

We’re flying into Bilbao.  We’re staying directly across from the Guggenheim — should be a great location.  Sometime on Wednesday, we’ll drive down to Rioja.  We’ll be staying at the Hotel Marques de Riscal which is a Frank Gehry-designed hotel on the grounds of a vineyard.  Looks like an amazing place!  We’re there for a few days and then head up to the coast.  We’ll be staying in San Sebastian.  Finally, we head back to Bilbao for one last night before flying home.

We’re excited to relax, tour around, and experience the cuisine!  We have a couple of nice dinners booked near San Sebastian — the Basque region is a real culinary hotbed.  Other than that I think we’ll be happy to wander the street trying different tapas and pintxos (tapas in the Basque region).

Not sure I will update the blog from abroad but look forward to a culinary recap when we return in early September!

The Weeknight Gourmet's 100th Post!

I started this cooking blog one night in late January and really wasn’t sure how it would be received or if I’d enjoy writing it.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception from my readers and how much I enjoy communicating my culinary adventures.  I love when one of my posts inspires someone to cook a homemade meal.  I love noticing certain trends in what I cook and what ingredients I use.  I always knew I used a lot of garlic but never realized how many of my recipes rely on cumin!  I love checking my blog stats to see which recipes draw the most interest.  Based on my page views, people love curry and turkey burgers.

Most of all, I hope that, in some small way, the recipes I post can help create for others the special moments and conversations I experienced around the dinner table as a child with my mom, dad, and brother and as an adult with Tim, our friends, and extended family.

Here are my top 10 favorite posts (in no particular order). Would love to hear from you — please tell me your favorite recipes that you’ve cooked from the blog!

1) Summer Kickoff BBQ…RIBS

2) The Super Bowl Cake

3) Birthday Dinner for Angus

4) Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole Salad

5) A Must Make Dish: Mahi Mahi in Tomato Olive Sauce

6) My Gastronomical Discoveries in Northern CA

7) First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

8) Dinner for Kaylin’s Parents: Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

9) Tribute to Domino

10) Spice Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Cream

Where is the Weeknight Gourmet?

Tim and I moved to a new apartment on Thursday.  So, between packing and unpacking there hasn’t been much time for cooking.  The new kitchen is a touch bigger, and has better cabinets and nicer appliances!  Definitely will be an improvement for the Weeknight Gourmet.  Overall, the apartment is much bigger.  Plus it has a patch of outdoor space (a rarity in NYC) which will allow me to provide more BBQ recipes!

While we’ve been settling in, we’ve enjoyed some yummy food in the West Village.  Here are some of our favorites….

Los Dados: Los Dados is our neighborhood Mexican place.  We love the guacamole, the mahi mahi tacos, and the steak quesadilla.  We usually order all three and split the dishes.  We washed the delicious food down with some Pacifico – my favorite beer!

A Salt & Battery: Authentic fish & chips in the heart of the West Village.  I think the fish is much better than the chips but it’s all quite yummy.  On Thursday night, Tim indulged in their fried Mars Bar after dinner!

Pasita: Our local “pizza” place.  The restaurant actually has Venezuelan roots but serves delicious pizza!  We love the Ropa Vieja and Champinon pizzas.  We usually order a pizza and a salad for a delicious dinner.  The restaurant also has a wonderful and well-priced South American wine list!

Sea: This restaurant recently opened where a pan-Asian restaurant called Highline used to be.  Sea is the Meatpacking / West Village outpost of a Brooklyn Thai restaurant.  We ordered off of their specials but all the dishes were delicious.  Sea is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Barbuto: Barbuto is a wonderful Italian restaurant a couple blocks from our apartment.  The menu changes each day and changes more dramatically with the seasons.  The roast chicken is the only constant on the menu.  The seasonal bruschettas and pastas are my favorites!  Last night I had a wonderful tagliatelle with peaky toe crab.  Yum!

Jarnac: Jarnac might be my favorite neighborhood restaurant of all time!  It’s a wonderful French restaurant with an incredibly friendly staff that emphasizes local ingredients.  Like Barbuto, the menu changes nightly with more significant changes seasonally.  Tonight I enjoyed some wondeful grilled ramps as an appetizer and an amazing seafood stew for my entree.  Tim enjoyed the pre fixe which included a delicious cheddar cheese plate for dessert.

I hope to cook in my new kitchen on Monday.  Look for some new recipes this week!

My Gastronomical Discoveries in Northern CA

Tim & I spent the weekend in Sonoma, CA and then exhibited at the Ad:Tech San Francisco conference.

Vineyard Near Jack London State Park
Vineyard Near Jack London State Park

We had a relaxing weekend filled with good wine and food.  There was a local event going on called April in Carneros which allowed us to visit lots of small vineyards not always open to the public.

And, Ad:Tech was good for us and hopefully will translate to lots of new leads for AdBuyer.com!

Here are my top 10 food & wine discoveries from the trip (in chronological order)!

1.  Jack in the Box

I never eat fast food but I always try to find time for some In-N-Out when I am in California.  We arrived in Sonoma late on Friday.  Neither Tim nor I had eaten dinner and we were both starving but restaurants had already stopped serving.  There wasn’t an In-N-Out in sight but we found a Jack in the Box, which I had never tried.  I ordered the Sirloin Cheeseburger.  It hit the spot and was far more reminiscent of In-N-Out than of any other fast food chain.

2. Gloria Ferrer’s Blanc de Noir

Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling wine house in the Sonoma Carneros region.  Tim and I both love the “champers” so it wasn’t a surprise I enjoyed this stop on our winery tour.  The Blanc de Noir champaign – made primarily with Pinot Noir grapes – was my favorite.

April in Carneros Glass
April in Carneros Glass

3. the girl & the fig

Tim and I had an amazing dinner at this “French-inspired country food” restaurant.  I started with a delicious cheese and cured meat plate and had the perfect spring fish dish for my entree — sautéed Pacific rock cod with asparagus, hen of the woods mushrooms, green garlic ragout with meyer lemon-herb oil.  So fresh!  Tim had a wonderful braised pork cheek dish.  We both enjoyed a syrah wine flight with our appetizers and then I had viognier flight with my cod.  The three wine tastes came in mismatched vintage glasses that made drinking the wine even more fun!

The Baby Goat at Truchard
The Baby Goat at Truchard

4. Truchard Vineyard

This family-owned vineyard not only had great wines but had such a wonderful vibe.  Their land was stunning with the most glorious oak trees Tim and I have ever seen.  Friends and family milled about as well as the family’s adorable baby goat (who oddly reminded me of my dog!) giving the place an intimate feeling.  They served delicious Mexican hors d’oeuvres to accompany the wines which was a wonderful bonus!

5. Harvest Moon Cafe

Tim and I had a delicious dinner in their back garden.  It was a warm evening so Tim and I indulged in one of our favorite summertime drinks – a cool, crisp rose.  The most memorable part of the meal were the delicious mascarpone crepes with strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream.  A great spot in downtown Sonoma.

6. Peet’s Caffè Freddo Extra Bold

During college, I would frequent a coffee and bookshop called Atticus.  I loved their cappuccino granitas — a delicious crushed ice and coffee combo.  Atticus no longer serves granitas and I have never found a frozen coffee concoction that compared util trying Peet’s Caffe Freddo Extra Bold on Monday.  It was nearly 90 degrees in San Francisco so it not only tasted good but helped cool me off!

7. Delfina Restaurant

We met our friends Wayee and Ethan at one of their favorite restaurants — a neighborhood trattoria in San Francisco’s Mission District called Delfina. It was great to catch up with our friends and the food was wonderful.  Tim and I shared a spectacular grilled calamari dish to start and then I had the paccheri and blue-nosed seabass all’ Amalfitana – a pasta dish with small pieces of seabass in a very light tomato sauce.

8. Bi-Rite Creamery

After dinner at Delfina we walk a block to try Bi-Rite Creamery, a local ice cream shop.  Judging by the long line on an unusually hot San Francisco evening, we were pretty sure the ice cream would be yummy.  We were not disappointed – I had a cone with Coffee Toffee and Tim enjoyed Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate Pieces.  Both flavors were super fresh tasting with real bits of toffee, brittle and chocolate.  A delicious end to the day!

9. Alexandria Cafe (785 Market Street, San Francisco)

I discovered this little streetside cafe – you order into a window on Market Street – when searching for a quick lunch spot near the Moscone Center in San Francisco.  Delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wraps!  I had the falafel wrap one day and the roasted eggplant the other.  Both were delicious – on real lavash with wonderful tahini and hummus.

10. Water Bar

Our investors hosted an event at the Water Bar on Tuesday night.  The setting was spectacular — cocktails were on a deck overlooking the Bay Bridge.  Typically you don’t expect too much from the food at events with 30 people and often restaurants with such wonderful views get away with less than stellar cuisine.  But the food was delicious!  I had a wonderful sole for my entree and everyone at the table seemed to enjoy the creme brulee for dessert.

We enjoyed the California sun and hope spring will be upon us in the New York and the Berkshires this weekend!

California here I come….

Tim and I have meetings and a conference starting on Monday in San Francisco. Tim is already on the west coast so I am meeting him at SFO tonight and we’re going to drive up to Sonoma, CA – one of my favorite culinary destinations – for the weekend!

Tim and I spent our anniversary last August in Sonoma (there was a conference in San Jose the following week). We stayed at the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA. The inn was beautiful and charming with the most spectacular breakfasts I have ever had in my life!  Tim and I still talk about the fresh fruit and berries served each morning.  They were literally picked across the street and just packed with flavor from the Sonoma sun.  The inn also boasts a Michelin rated restaurant that was just out of this world.

Not wanting splurge as much this weekend, I found a great deal at the MacArthur Place (if you prepaid, there was a huge discount).  The inn is in a different part of Sonoma county so we’re excited to explore a new area.

No cooking for the next week but hopefully some good eating I can share!