Archive for July, 2011

CSA2 Week #6

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by virginia

Josh was in charge of picking up our CSA share this week, which was good because there was A LOT of stuff. I guess the warm weather has really rushed the ripening of a lot of the vegetables. Even so, I was pretty happy to see so much variety in addition to the quantity. This week our share included:

Squash – 2.75 lbs
Cucumbers – 2 lbs
Peppers – 0.8 lbs
Eggplant – 0.8 lbs
Basil – 0.5 lbs
Lettuce – 1 each
Greens – 1 lb
Purslane – 0.33 lbs
Beans – 0.6 lbs
Pole Beans – 0.75 lbs
Parsley – 0.15 lbs

Cucumbers, basil, string beans, collards, pole beans, peppers, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, purslane, squash

It’s the first time that we’ve received purslane, and I’m curious about it. I’ll have to do some research on how it should be prepared – anyone have any ideas? I’m also intrigued by the purple string beans, though I suspect they probably taste like regular string beans.  Supposedly they turn green when cooked; that seems pretty cool.

I plan on turning the cucumbers into Chinese style garlic pickles, which are delicious and super quick to make. As for the squash, I foresee some zucchini pancakes with smoked salmon and sous vide eggs – one of my favorite brunch dishes.

I was disappointed again that we didn’t get kale for greens, but collards make good chips as well. I’m not sure how to prepare the eggplants though, which are the thin Japanese style. Maybe in some sort of garlic sauce? So many possibilities, too little time. We’ll have to make a good dent in the veggies this week though, as Josh will be on a business trip next week and then we’re off to Hilton Head for a long weekend. We did a decent job cleaning out the fridge last week so we’re almost all caught up on our veggie shares, finally!

Grand Cayman Day 3 – The Main Event

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 by virginia

Our third day in Grand Cayman was the whole reason for our trip – Claire and Sean’s wedding! I have to admit, when I woke up that morning, I was nursing a bit of a hangover from the previous night. Too many Cayman Blues, I think. Claire was smart about insisting on going to bed at 10 pm the previous night, precisely to avoid how I was feeling!

I ended up skipping breakfast because I was running a bit late but Josh thoughtfully brought me back some english muffins so that I could eat something to help settle my stomach. I was supposed to be at Claire’s hotel room by 11:30 so I quickly showered and gathered the stuff I needed for the wedding. In the process, I managed to stain my bridesmaid dress with some sunscreen. Oy! Fortunately it wasn’t too noticeable, and we were able to get some of it out later with Shout wipes.

I made my way to Claire’s room at the Beach Suites, and that’s when all of the fun began. Gathered in the room was Claire’s mother, Sean’s mother, and the three bridesmaids, Sara, Lauren and me. Claire’s sister Jill, the matron of honor, was unable to make the trip to Grand Cayman because she is due very soon, so she joined us for the festivities via Skype, which was so sweet. It was a total girly day, with Claire getting a mani/pedi and each of us getting taking turns to get our hair and makeup done. We spent the whole time chatting and laughing. We also snacked on the spread that Claire put out, an assortment of cheese, crackers, salami, fruit, crudite, hummus, and sun-dried tomato pesto.

Claire getting her makeup done with her cute bridal robe on the back of the chair

The bridal bouquet

From Claire’s balcony, we watched them set up the ceremony site on the beach. The view was just gorgeous, and although the weather would turn later that evening, the sun was shining and the lighting was perfect for the ceremony.

The arch in the lower middle of the picture is where they set up the ceremony site

Gorgeous view

When the photographer came, we had a lot of fun taking all kinds of pictures, both serious and silly. At one point, we bridesmaids ended up on Claire’s balcony wearing only white towels. I’m not sure what people thought if they looked up and saw us, but I think it made for a nice, whimsical photo. Finally, we got Claire into her dress and all buttoned up, and she was ready to roll. I have to say, she did make a stunning bride. After one more set of photos of Claire with the ocean as the backdrop, we headed downstairs for the ceremony.

I have to say, the wedding planner at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites was definitely on top of her game. She gave us our cue, and off we went, all down a straight line until we hit the beach and to the ceremony site. Claire and Sean were both beaming the whole ceremony, and it was really just a lovely, wonderful occasion. Both Silva’s and Josh’s readings went off without a hitch, the marriage licenses were signed, and soon Sean and Claire were proclaimed husband and wife.

The cocktail hour was next, up on the roof terrace of the Beach Suites. The reception was originally scheduled to take place there, but the incoming rain scheduled for later in the evening meant moving the reception indoors down the road at the Britannia Golf Club. The cocktail hour featured passed canapes, a seafood table, a cheese table, and a table of assorted dips and spreads. My favorite canapes were a beef carpaccio flavored with truffle oil and a shooter glass with fresh mozzarella and tomato. We watched the sun start to set from the roof, and then we piled onto buses that took us over to the golf club.

At the golf club, dinner was held on a covered porch that overlooked a pond on the golf course (which was good because it started pouring rain while we were eating). There were about 50 people altogether attending the wedding, so it was the perfect setting for such an intimate gathering. First we watched Claire and Sean do their first dance (which included a dramatic dip at the end), and then we were seated and they cut the cake (so that it wouldn’t get ruined in the heat). Dinner was served, and each course was pretty fabulous. Claire and Sean are both food lovers, and they planned a great menu.

The appetizer was fire roasted shrimp on snow peas and cucumber noodles, served with a curry yogurt sauce.

Fire roasted shrimp on snow peas and cucumber noodles

The first course was Florida greens with grilled zucchini, goat cheese, toasted walnuts and crisp shallots, served with a lemon vinaigrette.

Florida greens with grilled zucchini, goat cheese, toasted walnuts and crisp shallots

For the entree, we had a choice of grilled tenderloin of beef with red wine reduction and wild mushroom ragu, pan seared mahi mahi with cumin spiced plum tomatoes, herb crusted chicken breast with exotic mushroom stuffing, or a vegetarian option. Each entree was served with buttery mashed potatoes and veggies. Josh and I split the grilled beef tenderloin and the pan seared mahi mahi.

Grilled beef tenderloin with red wine reduction and wild mushroom ragout

Pan seared mahi mahi with cumin spiced plum tomatoes

Dessert was an assortment of sweets, featuring a slice of chocolate fudge cake, a passion fruit coconut tartlet, and dobos torte (a Hungarian layer cake).

Dobos torte, passion fruit coconut tartlet, chocolate fudge slice

There was wedding cake as well, a vanilla cake layered with chocolate creme, but my camera battery died before I could get a shot of it. We were all bursting at the seams by the time dinner was over, which meant that we had to hit the dance floor to burn off all those calories. What followed might not have been the most graceful scene (and it was pretty awkward at some parts – funky chicken anyone?), but we had a blast dancing our hearts out. Claire got so into the action that the bustle on her dress broke, but Sara, who apparently is a home ec genius (earlier in the day she ironed Claire’s veil without a hitch and helped me fix the stain on my dress), managed to sew it back together while we were standing in the bathroom.

We were pretty much all sweaty messes by the time the last dance was finished, but everyone was happy and still pumped up. We continued the party back at the Beach Suites, visiting our Canadian bartender friend at Bamboo. Felipe, Silva, Josh and I called it a night around 1 am when Bamboo closed, but apparently the party continued up on the roof after we left. While we were sad to find out the next day what we missed, our walk back to the Comfort Suites was pretty spectacular. We took the beach route once again, and there were brilliant flashes of lightening in the distance over the ocean. It was a little scary for me (since I hate looking at dark bodies of water at night), but an impressive sight nonetheless. It was a dazzling end to a wonderful day.

CSA2 Week #5

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by virginia

Wednesday is upon us once again, which means it’s CSA time! This week, Josh and I picked up our share together, which made things go a bit more quickly. We were pretty excited that we got a few new items this time. Our share contents included:

Beets – 1 lb
Napa Cabbage – 1 each
Fennel – 1 each
Greens – 1 lb
Peppers – 3 each
Squash – 3 lbs
Cucumber – 1 lb
Broccoli – 3/4 lbs

Chard, peppers, cucumbers, fennel, napa, broccoli, squash, beets

I was a bit disappointed that we only had chard for our greens, as I was looking forward to getting some more kale. Nevertheless, the chard is gorgeous as usual, and I made a gratin last week using the chard stems. It was a big hit with Josh and a great way to use up the stems we would otherwise throw away.

For the squash, we picked out a big, round green squash and a flat UFO squash. I’ll probably end up roasting those and making a soup out of them. The beets will also be roasted, and perhaps the fennel.

I’m hoping to make a lion’s head meatball stew with the napa cabbage. I made some last year but never posted about it, and I think it’s a delicious recipe worth sharing. I know I keep saying that I want to post recipes, and I promise I’ll get around to it eventually!

Grand Cayman Day 2 – Seven Mile Beach Bar and Deckers

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by virginia

Our second day in Grand Cayman was full of fun and action. We didn’t get a super early start but we dragged ourselves out of bed to meet up with the Comfort Suite contingent in the lobby area for breakfast. Breakfast was included as part of our stay and while it wasn’t anything exciting, it did the trick. There was cereal, breads, fruit, yogurt, and, best of all, make your own waffles. We loaded up on some carbs, then took a quick walk to the nearby Texaco station to pick up some waters and snacks at the convenience store.

Our next stop? The beach! It was only a short walk from our hotel to the beach, maybe about 50 yards down a narrow path. I would say the hotel is pretty much on the beach. We frolicked in the water for a short while and then we had to bid half the group goodbye, as a few of us were scheduled to participate in the rehearsal event for Claire and Sean’s wedding and had to make our way toward their hotel, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites.

Rather than taking the scary sidewalk route on West Bay Road, we decided to walk along the beach down to their hotel. It was a MUCH better option, and we enjoyed the lovely views along Seven Mile Beach. The rehearsal event started at one o’clock and we got to the Beach Suites a little after noon so we decided to grab a quick lunch by the pool, at the Seven Mile Beach Bar. We got a round of frozen drinks to start and quickly placed our order, since we didn’t have much time.

I saw conch fritters on the menu and really wanted to try them. I’ve never eaten conch, and it’s supposed to be the local specialty. Josh, Mike, and I split an order to start. The fritters were made of ground up conch mixed with breading, spices, and diced vegetables. They reminded me of mini crab cakes, though I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t really taste or detect conch in the mix. The fritters were tasty, but they could have been made from any kind of seafood. I also wished that they were slightly crispier.

Blurry conch fritters

For our mains, Josh and I split an order of fish and chips and a blackened fish sandwich. Again, I wished that the fish in the fish and chips dish were crispier, but I liked that they were big, meaty pieces of fish. I dipped them in jerk-flavored tartar sauce while Josh used malt vinegar (Claire would approve!).

Fish and chips

The blackened fish sandwich was a bit of a disappointment, as it was nowhere near as flavorful as the jerk fish sandwich we had at Stingers. The fish was also a bit too flaky and fell apart when we picked up the sandwich. The bread didn’t help either, as it was slightly stale and crumbly in texture. I did like the fries though, which were on the thinner side.

Blackened fish sandwich

While we weren’t crazy about the food at the Beach Bar, the drinks were really good. In addition, the views were pretty nice and service was great. We told our waiter that we were in a rush and he made sure to get our food to us quickly. We found that the service at the Beach Suites was always great, since we ended up seeing some of the same waiters and bartenders for most of the wedding events.

After we finished eating, we met up with the rehearsal group in the hotel lobby. Claire and Sean made a few quick speeches thanking the people involved with the wedding, and then off we went on the rehearsal adventure. Instead of having a traditional rehearsal dinner, Claire and Sean organized a boat excursion for us where we would get to snorkel at a coral reef and visit the stingrays at Stingray City. I had been researching a boat trip before we went to Grand Cayman, so I was super excited that this was what they had planned.

We were picked up in vans by people from Red Sail Sports, the company that ran our boating excursion. We drove a little ways to a dock on the bay side of the island which was the launching point for the boat.  After we signed our waivers (which always makes me a bit nervous!), we boarded the ship. It took about 45 minutes to get to our first destination, a coral reef where we could snorkel for a bit. The boat ride itself was pretty relaxing – we enjoyed the breeze and took in the views. It was a bit overcast when we set off, but the sun started peeking out more when we got to our destination. The water there was crystal blue and just gorgeous.

Boats along the way right after we set sail

The blue water as we approached our destination

Other boats letting their passengers off to snorkel

Another red sail boat similar to the one we were on

We donned our snorkeling gear (masks, snorkels, and flippers, plus a snorkeling vest for me) and went into the water. The waves were a bit rougher than I expected, considering how calm the water on the beach had been, so it took me a little while to get used to snorkeling again. We haven’t snorkeled since we were in the Galapagos, and I was a little rusty. I was also having trouble getting a good seal with the snorkel, and ended up with mouthfuls of salt water – blech! But once I got in the groove, I could see some of the coral formations and lots of cool plant life. There weren’t too many fish swimming around but we did see a few schools of small, colorful fish.

A coral formation

Close up on the coral

Bubbles! (and I think Claire's arm?)


Little blue fish

Cool plants

I have to admit, I got a little seasick from bobbing on the waves. We didn’t snorkel for too long though, about 20-30 minutes, and then we got back on the boat to head off to our next destination, Stingray City. The area is located on a sandbar so even though it looked like we were in the middle of the ocean, the water was only about waist deep. It was also crystal clear, and there were lots of stingrays swimming around our legs. It was a bit freaky at first, but then we got used to them brushing past us. The sand underneath our feet was super soft, and we were happy just standing there watching all the stingrays. Some of them were just enormous, and some of them were cute itty bitty ones.

Stingray popping into view

One of the larger stingrays

Top side view

One of the smaller ones being chased by a larger one. You can see how close they were to us as they were swimming around.

Some of the tour operators would “catch” a stingray and hold them up for us so that we could pet them and take a few pictures. The stingrays felt like wet, bumpy portobello mushrooms. Some of the braver folks (Mike, Sean) actually held the stingrays as well, propping them up with their arms underneath.

One of the guys holding up a stingray

Stingray waving its wing

Close up of the stingray skin

Soon it was time to say goodbye to the stingrays, and we were on our way back to shore. We all gathered at the front of the boat and relaxed with some Caybrews, enjoying the breeze once again. Once we were back on dry land, we returned to the Beach Suites to do the actual rehearsal. I practiced walking in a straight line, Silva and Josh learned their marks for their readings, Felipe thought about his signature, and Mike rehearsed his best Casey Kasem voice.

The start of the "aisle" for the ceremony, a long walk down to the beach

Claire and Sean had organized some welcome drinks for the wedding guests later that evening, so after the rehearsal we rushed back to the Comfort Suites to shower and get ready. Actually, we didn’t really rush, since we took the beach route back and stopped to take a few photos of the gorgeous late afternoon light on the water.

Back at the Comfort Suites, we cleaned ourselves up and met up with the rest of the crew for dinner. We decided to go to Deckers, a seafood restaurant across the street from the Beach Suites.

The restaurant has a large outdoor and indoor sitting area, and while we sat inside to seek some relief from the heat, the open air concept meant it was still pretty warm inside. Nevertheless, we were glad to be seated immediately and quickly ordered a round of drinks to start. I got a blood orange mojito, which was a nice reddish color and pretty refreshing.

Blood orange mojito

The menu had lots of interesting dishes, but I zeroed in on the Caribbean lobster mac n’ cheese. It featured a mascarpone, havarti, and grana padano cream sauce and was topped with bread crumbs and cheddar. There were lots of little chunks of lobster mixed throughout, though it wasn’t heavy on lobster flavor. I still really enjoyed the dish though, as the sauce was creamy, cheesy, and well seasoned. It was a whole lot of comfort in one big bowl.

Caribbean lobster mac n' cheese

The mac n’ cheese was pretty rich so Josh and I went halfsies on his entree, the catch of the day, which was escolar. It was served on an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, warm potatoes, pine nuts, and a passion fruit dressing. There were also a few pieces of coconut shrimp on the plate. The fish was delicious – well seasoned and meaty. The dressing was sweet and tangy, and I’m always a huge fan of arugula salad.

Catch of the day - escolar

Overall we were all very pleased with our meal at Deckers. The food was well prepared and everything tasted great. In addition, service was really fast and efficient. We told our waitress that we were in a bit of a rush, and everything was delivered right away. Coincidentally, Claire’s family was there for dinner as well, and they liked it so much that they went back the next day, for an all you can eat lobster special. The restaurant was definitely one of my favorites on the trip. It wasn’t cheap but it also wasn’t so expensive compared to a lot of restaurants in Grand Cayman. As I said previously, the island is pricey in general. The lobster mac n’ cheese was C$18 and the catch of the day was C$26. The ambiance was slightly more upscale but it still had a low key vibe. I’d definitely recommend it for a nice but not overly fancy meal.

After dinner we crossed the street to the Beach Suites where Claire and Sean was hosting welcome drinks at the pool bar. Their signature drink was the Cayman Blue, which featured Bacardi Razz, Blue Curacao, and 7-Up. It was candy sweet and deceptively alcoholic. I was definitely feeling it after a few of those drinks! We had a great time that night, drinking and chatting with everyone who was attending the wedding. We got to know Claire and Sean’s families a bit better, and learned that Sean once fed his little sister pennies and dimes. All in all it was fun and exciting day, filled with good food, lots of drinks, and plenty of stingray.

Seven Mile Beach Bar
At Grand Cayman Beach Suites, West Bay Rd.
Grand Cayman

Next to Hyatt Regency, West Bay Rd.
Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman Day 1 – Stingers and Cimboco

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by virginia

We had a long morning of traveling to get to Grand Cayman from New York, but our trip was a breeze compared to the people who were coming in from Ireland and California. After an early flight to Charlotte and a three hour layover where we met up with a few other friends, we were finally headed to the island. Unfortunately, it was gray and rainy when we landed, but our spirits were still high. We were on vacation after all!

After clearing immigration and customs, we headed outside the airport to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. To our surprise, Claire and Sean were standing there, waiting to greet some of their family who had arrived on the same flight. We exchanged a few hugs and made plans to meet up at their hotel bar at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites later on in the evening. Then we all piled into a huge taxi van that took us to our own hotel, the Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach, which was about a mile down the road from the Beach Suites.

Checking in was a breeze and we made plans to meet up at the bar, Stingers, for drinks and food. We dropped our bags in our room, which was perfectly fine but nothing too fancy. It was an alcove studio with a little sitting area and a small kitchenette area with a nice breakfast bar, a sink, microwave, toaster, and mini fridge. Our only complaint was that the air conditioner sounded like a jet engine, but at least it did its job in keeping the air cold.

Stingers is located out the back of the hotel, next to the pool. It’s open air but covered, so we were safe from the rain. Josh and I started off our island vacation with some appropriate frozen drinks – a strawberry daiquiri for me and a pina colada for him. We also split a jerk fish sandwich, our first taste of the Caribbean. The sandwich was really flavorful, with lots of spice on the fish. The fish was perfectly cooked, moist and flaky, and we enjoyed the burn from the jerk seasoning. The fries were good as well, thin cut and crispy.

Jerk fish sandwich and fries

Even though it was still raining after our late lunch, we decided to head to the beach anyway. We figured that we would be getting wet regardless, so a little rain wouldn’t hurt us. It was actually quite nice, since the beach was nearly deserted due to the weather. We were a little chilly when we first got into the water, but we warmed up pretty quickly. We had fun bobbing in the water and hitting a beach ball around. There were also some fake coral formations in the water so there were lots of fish swimming around. We donned some goggles and watched the fish dart in and out of the formations, and we did our best to avoid the spiny sea urchins.

When the air got a bit colder, we finished off our afternoon with a dip in the hotel pool, which was quite warm. It was also convenient since it was located right next to Stingers, so we enjoyed a few beers and cocktails while we were in the water.

After we retired to our rooms for a bit to shower and clean ourselves up, we rallied the troops and headed to Cimboco for dinner. It was billed as a Caribbean cafe, and the menu looked pretty good. Plus it was close to our hotel and in the direction of the Beach Suites, where we were going to meet up with Claire and Sean for drinks afterward.

The restaurant was pretty casual and had a nice colorful decor. The menu has a mix of Caribbean style dishes as well as pizzas and pastas. Josh and I both ordered a Caybrew to drink, which is the local Cayman beer. It was pretty light but perfectly drinkable, and refreshing in the heat.

Cayman Caybrew

To start, Josh and I split the plantain wrapped callaloo for our appetizer. Callaloo is like the local version of spinach, and it was rolled into fried strips of plantain. The rolls were served on a spicy Cayman style sauce that tasted like pureed tomatoes and peppers. The plantains were the savory kind but still had the banana flavor, and it worked well with the sweet and spicy sauce. I wished there was a bit more callaloo in each roll, but otherwise, it was a nicely composed dish.

Plantain wrapped callaloo

For our main course, Josh and I shared the banana leaf roasted snapper and the Carribean roti. The snapper was a perfectly roasted filet served with okra, carrots, zucchini, and a stuffed tomato. There were also pieces of creamy coconut infused cassava, or yuca, underneath the fish that had a great starchy texture to it and good flavor. The star of the plate was definitely the snapper though, with its flaky meat and well seasoned outer crust.

Banana leaf roasted snapper

The Caribbean roti was a wrap featuring curried vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, onions, and chickpeas. I was expecting more of an Indian style roti, which has many flaky layers, but this seemed to be an ordinary flour sandwich wrap. Nevertheless, the curried vegetables were very tasty, and there was a yogurt raita sauce and a tangy chutney on the side for dipping.

Caribbean roti with curried vegetables

Overall we all enjoyed the food at Cimboco, as well as the laid back atmosphere. We didn’t have a reservation but we didn’t have to wait too long for a table for eight of us. Service was pretty efficient, and I liked how the menu tried to incorporate local flavors wherever possible. Prices were pretty reasonable as well, with entrees topping out at about C$20, but most items were about C$15 (the fixed exchange rate is US$1.25 to C$1). Food in Grand Cayman was generally on the more expensive side compared to NYC, but they do have to import a lot of items. Plus the exchange rate doesn’t work in our favor. Nevertheless, I thought the restaurant was pretty good and would definitely recommend it to someone looking for something casual but still with a nice atmosphere.

After dinner, we continued walking down West Bay Road towards the Beach Suites. It was a bit scary because the sidewalks were narrow and there weren’t really any shoulders on the road, so cars would pass by us very closely. At the Beach Suites, we met up with Claire and Sean and their families for a few drinks, first at Hemingways, and then at Bamboo, which closed later. We ended up going to Bamboo most nights during our trip, so we made friends with the bartender there who was originally from Canada. All in all it was a great first day in Grand Cayman despite the rainy weather, and the best parts of our trip were still yet to come!

P.O. Box 30725, Behind Comfort Suites, West Bay Rd.
Grand Cayman

P.O. Box 30786, Marquee Plaza
Grand Cayman

Two Fat Bellies Hit the Road – Grand Cayman

Sunday, July 17th, 2011 by virginia

We were recently in the beautiful Cayman Islands to celebrate the wedding of our good friends, Claire and Sean. It was my first time in the Caribbean, and the beaches and water were as gorgeous as I expected them to be, maybe even more so. We had a great time hanging out with old friends and new friends who all made the trip out to witness the nuptials.

It was a long weekend of celebration, full of good food, multiple drinks, and lots of laughter and joy. Claire’s family traveled all the way from Ireland, and much to my delight, I discovered that the blog has an Irish following (hi Aine!). It was really lovely to see two families come together, as well as close friends from all over the country, to wish the happy couple well.

The bride looked stunning, of course, and the groom couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. It was a great trip, and one that we’ll always have great memories of. Slainte!

A gorgeous stretch of Seven Mile Beach - who wouldn't want to get married in paradise?

The Frying Pan

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 by virginia

The Frying Pan is a historic ship that is docked next to a pier off the Westside Highway near 26th St. The pier features a seasonal bar and grill that opens when the weather is nice, generally from May to mid-October. It’s an extremely popular space, as the views along the Hudson are fantastic, and everyone enjoys the outdoor atmosphere on the pier.

The view from the end of the pier

An old fashioned style ship on the Hudson

Josh and I have been to the Frying Pan several times for drinks, but we never actually had a meal there. I’ve been itching to try their famed burgers and garlic fries, which I’ve heard so many great things about. The burger patty is made from a Pat LaFrieda blend, and Pat LaFrieda is probably the foremost meat purveyor when it comes to burger blends.

We got to the Frying Pan around 1 pm on a sunny Saturday. I was surprised to see that while most of the tables were full, the place wasn’t packed like it usually is. Fortunately that meant less of a crowd to maneuver through, and a short line to place our drink and food orders. They have some pretty good beers on tap (ie., Brooklyn Lager, Captain Lawrence IPA, SixPoint Sweet Action) so we got a pitcher of IPA to share. After you place your food order, they give you a number and you wait for it to show up on the board, indicating that your food is ready. It’s a pretty efficient system, and there are lots of boards around so you can keep an eye out even while you sit and chat with your friends.

After a short while, our number appeared on the board so Josh and his dad went to pick up the food. We had all gotten the burger, though Josh added cheese to his. My burger certainly looked promising, with a huge, thick patty that was slightly charred on the outside, served with a puffy toasted bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles.

First look at the burger

Josh burger looked pretty similar, with the addition of a thick draping of melted cheddar cheese.

Josh's cheeseburger

One bite into the burger though, and I was extremely disappointed. This was not the thick, juicy burger that I had been hoping for. It was a hockey puck. The burger was completely cooked through, beyond well done (impressive, considering just how thick the patty was). The meat was crumbly and coarse, and I felt like I was chewing on rubber. Flavor wise it was ok, pretty well seasoned and tasting of the grill, but I couldn’t get over how overcooked it was. I had to drown it with ketchup just to get enough moisture to eat it.

Autopsy shot of the completely overcooked and dried out burger

All of our burgers were cooked the same way. Even though Josh’s had the cheese, he said it didn’t help and failed to add more flavor or moisture. To add insult to injury, the old bay garlic fries were a disappointment as well. There was no garlic flavor at all, and just a light sprinkling of old bay seasoning. The fries were also not very crispy.

Not very flavorful old bay garlic fries

The plain fries also lacked crispiness, but I preferred them to the old bay fries. They just needed a bit of salt to perk up the flavor a bit.

Regular french fries

Overall we were all pretty disappointed with the food at the Frying Pan. The burger was one of the worst ones I’ve ever eaten, simply because it was so overcooked. It had potential though, and I wonder if next time I could request it to be medium rare. Or at least just not well done. I’ve also seen on previous visits that the old bay garlic fries usually have more old bay and garlic on them. Maybe the kitchen was just having an off day? I don’t know. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the Frying Pan is nice, casual but upbeat. It’s a great place to sit back with a few beers and enjoy the views and the breeze. It does get pretty crowded though, so go early to nab a table. By the time we left, the place was packed shoulder to shoulder, and it was hard to even get from our table to the restroom. I’m sure I’ll be back, though I won’t be as eager to eat the food. They do have other things on the menu, however, like sandwiches and salads and even some seafood items. I’ll probably just stick with the drinks.

The Frying Pan
Pier 66 Maritime at 26th St.
New York, NY

CSA2 Week #4

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 by virginia

We were in Grand Cayman last Wednesday for the wedding of our friends Sean and Claire (more on that soon!) so we missed out on last week’s CSA share. No worries, the veggies didn’t go to waste as our Aussie friends L & R took our share for the week. I hope they enjoyed everything!

According to the report we got from the farm this week, the heat has caused a lot of the veggies to ripen quickly, meaning that they had to be harvested sooner than expected. While that translated into a large share for us this week, it may also mean that shares later on in the season will be smaller. I just feel bad for the farm workers who have to be in the heat all day, and we definitely appreciate their efforts.

This week our share contents included:

Garlic Scapes  – .25 lbs
Cucumbers – 1.1 lbs
Red Kale – .25 lbs
Swiss Chard – .65 lbs
Dandelion – .25 lbs
Turnips – .5 lbs
Fava Beans – 1 lb
Lettuce – 1 each
Squash – 2.3 lbs
Beans – .5 lbs

Kale, squash, fava beans, turnips, lettuce, pole beans, cucumbers, dandelion, swiss chard, garlic scapes

I was happy to see that we were getting both kale and swiss chard this week, so that I wouldn’t have to choose between the two again. Sadly, we only got 1/4 pound of the kale, which isn’t very much once you account for the inedible thick stems. Hmm.. Josh is currently out of town on business.. maybe I can make kale chips for one? Just kidding – he’d be upset with me if I did that!

I was glad that we got a lot of fava beans – I’m still trying to decide if we should make more Egyptian falafel with them, or if we should try something new. I’m also not sure how to prepare the turnips, dandelions, or the pole beans. Usually we just roast the turnips, but I’d be interested in doing something different. The pole beans we typically just saute with garlic and olive oil. The dandelion greens are tough to prepare because they can be extremely bitter. I’ll need to do some recipe research!

We didn’t get enough cucumbers for me to make pickles, so I think we’ll just eat them fresh with the lettuce. Josh made a great curry vinaigrette yesterday for the red leaf lettuce we got two weeks ago (yes, it was still good!) using a recipe by Thomas Keller. He forgot to half the recipe so we still have lots of dressing left, which I think will go nicely with the young head of romaine we got this week.

The squash will either go into a ratatouille or a pureed squash soup. Both are some of my favorite recipes, and I’m glad that we always get a lot of squash each week. As for the garlic scapes, we have quite a stock pile right now. I tweaked a garlic scape pesto recipe that I liked a lot better than my first attempt at scape pesto, so I’ll need to write a post about that.

I definitely have a lot of catching up to do, post wise. I’ve got so much to write about and not enough time. I’m happy to report though that we’ve been sticking to our workout regiment. Having the CSA share has only made it easier for us to eat more healthfully, and more importantly, everything is fresh and delicious. I may finally be starting to see some results from all of our hard work!!