Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Foodie Stuff

Sorry team...I've been slacking off this week for posting. I did make some great meals this week and will be posting an exorbitant amount of recipes next week.

These babies (mozzarella-stuffed meatballs) will be making an appearance...

I've had a really hectic week at work, but I have managed to do a few fun foodie things that I want to share:

1. I've joined a CSA! For those of you that don't know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It's a great way to buy local, seasonal food and support local farmers at the same time--you sign up for a "share" and each week pick up a box of seasonal food. I joined the Roxbury Farm CSA and am SO LOOKING FORWARD to six months of fabulous food. I signed up for the vegetable share and also added on a fruit one. They have meat, lamb, and poultry shares, but I don't eat enough meat for those to be worthwhile. If you're interested, find a CSA in your's a great way to eat healthy, be green AND support local farmers.

2. I'm a foodie pen pal! I joined Lindsay's (the fabulous blogger behind Lean Green Bean) pen pal group. Each month, Lindsay sends those of us participating the name and email of another foodie, either a blogger or a reader, and we each spend $15 getting great foodie gifts to send to one another along with something written--a recipe, an explanation of the box, whatever. Readers can also send guest posts if their penpal that month is a blogger! It sounds super fun and I'm looking forward to April 5th when I get my pen pal's name. I already have some pretty fun ideas of things to send. 

3. Well number three isn't exactly a straight foodie thing, but I'm very excited about it, so I want to share! On Sunday, Uplift Studios opens! Uplift studios is the brick and mortar location for the wonderful Rogue Female Fitness trainers, a workout group for all women that, following the workouts, would go out for drinks! On April 10th, Daily Candy is sponsoring a Workout & Wine session, and I already signed up! It's only $25 and you get a workout and get to meet other women who are also interested in a healthy lifestyle. It's basically a win-win and I can't wait. 

That's all for today! Keep an eye out next week for a ton of new posts, especially since Saturday I'll be going home to Philly for an eye doc appt and will be cooking a fab dinner for my fam...and testing out a new recipe for homemade ricotta! Can't wait to share my results...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Addition: Menu Planning Sunday!

Another new addition to Sea Salt n Pepa! That's two in just one week. I'm on a roll! Or finally just buckling down to be the blogger I've always wanted to be. Either one.

Anyway, every week I plan my week's meals, what I'm going to blog that week, etc. prior to going foodshopping. Foodshopping is pretty much my favorite thing ever, so having a list of what I am getting stops me from buying EVERYTHING in the grocery store. I just, exactly 5 seconds ago, decided I need to take pictures of my amazing grocery store, Fairway...
Sorry, distracted myself thinking about Fairway. Back to the topic! I like to plan out my meals, at least my weekday meals, ahead of time so that I can go foodshopping for all the ingredients I need in one fell swoop. I do the majority of my shopping on Sunday's so I have time to wander around and don't feel like I'm in a rush. Then if there's something that could go bad (i.e. fish for Thursday that would be stinky way before then) I just have to run in and out to grab that.

Menu planning also lets me plan meals that have similar ingredients, which is really important since most of the time I'm cooking for only one! If I had entirely different ingredients for seven different dinners, my grocery bill would go through the roof.

From now on, I'm going to let you in on that process with a little something I am calling Menu Planning Sunday. I even made that cute logo for it! Very exciting, I know. 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 

So my mum came to NYC this weekend to look at property with my brother in the Catskills, and I had the lovely responsibility of taking care of my dog Kodi (no sarcasm at all, Kodi is probably one of my favorite people in the world, and she's a dog...)

who wouldn't love this little nugget? And by little I mean 65 lbs so...biggish nugget?

Anyway, this little look into my weekend has a point for Menu Planning Monday--my mum, to thank me for caring for Bear so she didnt have to drag Kod with her to all the properties, went to the Ardmore Farmer's Market near my parents' house and got meat for me for next week! One of the reasons I don't eat that much meat is cause, to be completely honest, it's super expensive in New York! I think everything at Fairway is extremely reasonably priced, minus the meat--which causes me to not buy it, which is actually not a bad thing. But sometimes I just need a little iron in my diet.

So my fabulous mum stopped and picked me up red snapper, a NY strip steak, a pork loin, 2 chicken breasts, a lb of ground meat and my favorite eggplant lasagna from DiBruno's. So this makes my menu planning a bit easier since I don't need to decide what I'm in the mood for since I already have all of my proteins! So here goes...

Sunday (already made, will blog about later): Steamed Red Snapper Packets

Monday: Take out since I will be working late

Tuesday: Steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus
While I'm waiting for this to cook, I'm going to make mozzarella stuffed meatballs with the lb. of mixed meat (pork, veal and beef) my mom got me for dinner later this week. Because it can take a while and I did not have time on Sunday, I would be WAY too hungry to make and eat the meatballs the same night. Also, I have a happy hour on Thursday so will be eating after that and a birthday party on Friday that I need to eat before, so pre-cooking my food is super convenient.

WednesdaySpinach and ricotta stuffed chicken breast
While I'm waiting for the chicken to cook, I'll cook the pork tenderloin as it takes a while to roast.

Thursday: Pork tenderloin with sauteed apples and leeks

Friday: Mozzarella-stuffed meatballs

Saturday: Marinated salmon with broccoli and corn

And there you have it! With this list, I can easily go to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients I need. This week is especially easy since I have all my proteins, so I have a bit of leeway as to how I want to prepare since my spending will be low without buying meat/fish. Next week you'll see how my meals use similar ingredients to keep my food shopping bill down.

Friday, March 23, 2012

New addition! Friday's Quick Pics

So, in case you haven't seen, I am officially revamping Sea Salt n Pepa. I deleted a ton of old posts that I didn't like and added a new background, larger photos and now I'll be introducing some posts that I'll do weekly. I got positive feedback for my first "Quick Pics" at the end of February, so I will be doing this weekly in an edition called "Friday's Quick Pics".

As I explained in that post, I don't eat fancy food like what I post on my blog every single night. Number one, that would be a pain in the butt to photograph everything with my SLR! Number two, I like having simple meals! Too much fancy food makes for an unhappy Andie.

I'm sure you all do the same--have a family meal that you spend time preparing, or a dinner for a special occasion, or just feel like cooking one night and need a great recipe. Fabulous, that's what my posts are for! But you also have nights you come home late from work, or your kid has a game, or you're just exhausted and really don't feel like cooking but don't really feel like take out either.

That's what Quick Pics is for--to give you ideas for meals that are a bit basic, a bit simple and a lot fast. I hope my everyday meals help you change up your rotation of recipes and throw in a couple of new ones. It's also a chance for me to share more of myself with my lovely readers. Today is the start of that, as I share a few secrets with all of you...

This, my darling readers, is my breakfast! I know, it's not the normal breakfast of champions. But...

Secret #1: I don't like breakfast foods. 

Like at all. I don't like cereal, I barely like eggs, I don't even eat french toast! The only breakfast I do eat is an omelet when I go to brunch or I'm out, but I don't even like that enough to make it everyday.

Secret #2: I'm not a morning person. 

Well...I kind of am (don't hate me) as in, I pop right out of bed and it doesn't take me a while to wake up. But wake up earlier than absolutely necessary? Hell to the no.

So every morning, while some people eat cereal or a waffle or whatever else normal people eat, I have fruit and cheese. It's very European of me. At least that's what I tell myself...

Secret #3: I'm a wino. 
A serious, honest-to-goodness, dont-get-in-the-way-of-my-wine-glass, might-have-a-problem wino. The work day isn't over until my glass of wine is poured. Thank god for wine.

Here is an example of the less-than-blogworthy (which makes no sense since surprise! it's on my blog) dinners I make. This is baked orange roughy with a butter beurre blanc sauce, mashed potatoes (out of the refrigerated packs, obviously) and roasted asparagus. The orange roughy and roasted asparagus were put onto a tin-foil lined baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil and baked at 350F. The buerre blanc was made on the stove top and is just some butter and some white wine, no specific measurements needed. All done in 30 minutes, including eating.

This is the wonderful DiBruno Bros. eggplant lasagna. Row after row of eggplant with gooey ricotta/mozzarella mixture and tomato sauce. YUM!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seared Scallops with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I'm happy to say that the photos for this post are in--you guessed it!--color. I double checked all camera settings  prior to taking any pictures. Victory!!!

Back to seafood. Apparently, meat doesnt agree with me. Or at least it doesnt agree with my camera. While all of my seafood pictures are in bright vibrant colors, the meat is in gray. If that doesn't say something about my preferences, I'm not sure what does!

As you may have seen in my mussels post, I love scallops. Like LOVE scallops. And am very particular about them. Scallops are the only meal I have ever sent back in my entire life (yes, believe that or not. My thought is that unless something is awful, its not worth getting a different dish. I have, however, barely eaten meals and had fabulous waiters remove the cost from my bill since I clearly didnt like it. But I've seen the movie Waiting..., I'm not sending food back unless so bad I'd rather get food with THAT in it.) They were rubbery and chewy and pretty gross.

I may not have very many people who agree with me, but I think scallops are pretty darn easy to cook. At home. In your kitchen. Without paying $30 (why do scallops dishes ALL cost like $30! They're not that expensive! Sheesh). So get on that. I promise, it's easier than you think.

Seared Scallops with Roasted Brussel Sprouts


4 DRY sea scallops per person (make sure they're dry, otherwise they end up being disgusting)
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Brussel sprouts, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced


1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Start with the brussel sprouts, as they take longer. After quartering the brussel sprouts, put them on a baking dish or in a dish wish higher walls and add the minced garlic and shallots. Pour balsamic vinegar over them and toss. Put in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The smell will be AMAZING as the balsamic caramelizes.

3. Clean your scallops and remove any feet (the little bit that may stick out on one side that looks like it doesnt belong). Rinse the scallops and dry thoroughly. Salt and pepper both sides.

unplanned for Glad product shot. please ignore. If you're from Glad, please send more. #justsaying

4. Add the butter and oil to a saute pan on high heat. Once this begins to smoke, add the scallops to the pan, making very sure the scallops are not touching (if the scallops are too close, they will steam rather than sear, and that makes for very unpleasant scallops.) Sear for about 1 1/2 minute per side. A correctly cooked scallops should have a thin golden crust on both sides and be translucent in the middle.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

#PhotoFail...Stuffed Flank Steak

This blog is titled #photofail. As some of you know, my christmas gift from my fabulous aunt was a brand new Nikon D5100 SLR. Since then, I've been testing out all of my settings (and sometimes screwing up the settings and causing myself to need to trek to B&H to have them correct it...) as I learn how to use my fancy new camera. Well, over the weekend I was taking photos in black and white to test out my effects and, of course, forgot to put the settings back to the ones I use for my food photos.

Thus, my fabulously colorful stuffed flank steak is, instead...gray. Many shades of gray at least but, alas, gray food is not the most appetizing thing ever. You'll just have to trust me that this flank steak was a brilliant (and bloody) red, my roasted red peppers mix was a melange of colors, and the red wine was, of course, red. I guess there was a lot of red ingredients which I've noticed for the first time since my pictures are GRAY. ugh. #blogfail

Stuffed Flank Steak

see? Gray. Gray food is NOT appetizing. Ugh. But this is one of the few meat recipes I've made so...tough.


1 1/2 lb of flank steak (or bracciole meat, top round, etc.--thin and roll-able is the name of the game)
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped
Basil, chopped
Olive oil
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
Salt and black pepper


1. Lay your flank steak on your cutting board and tenderize. Salt and pepper both sides.

more gray. graygraygray.

2. Mix your red peppers, mozzarella, basil and a bit of olive oil in a bowl. Spoon mixture over the flank steak.

Gray is one of my two favorite colors to wear (the other, obvi, being black) I dont think I like to eat it.

3. Because I used flank steak, it is thick, so I piled my mixture in the middle and simply rolled the ends together and use toothpicks to hold. If you're using a thinner cut, like braciole, roll the meat like a rug and use kitchen twine or string to keep it together.

Seriously, I apologize for these awful pictures. 

4. In a pot on the stove over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the flank steak to brown slightly. Then add the red wine and chicken stock. If you'd like to make this a whole meal, prior to adding the steak, add onion, carrot, potatoes, or whatever vegetable strikes your fancy. Then it will all cook down in the liquid together. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through to your liking.

So I officially hate the color gray. I must say, however, that I love this meal. Don't let the unappetizingly boring pictures turn you off of trying this.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Slow Cooked Salmon with Shredded Brussel Sprouts

Wow that's a long title for a meal that was pretty darn easy to make.

A few weeks ago my mum and I had our second annual girl's weekend (does it count as annual if we've only done it twice?), where my mum comes up to NYC to attend the New York Wine Expo, which, by the by, I highly recommend attending. If you're interested, I did a short blog on the expo after that weekend.

After the expo, and our subsequent and much-needed nap, we trekked down to Soho to go to Mercer Kitchen, a wonderful Jean Georges restaurant located at the corner of Mercer and Prince. It is my new favorite restaurant, and it was helped along by our delicious entrees, including my mom's of slowly cooked salmon with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. You see where I'm going here? Well the brussel sprouts were not served on the side, as expected, but rather shredded and served on top of the salmon and man, let me tell you, it was SO GOOD.

So this week I set about replicating (or just using a few of the same ingredients since I don't pretend to be as good as the head chef at Mercer Kitchen) this fabulous dinner. While it may not have been the same, it certainly was delicious. This is a great way to trick someone who isn't a brussel sprout fan to try again the vegetable that oh so many people hate on sight...since they're shredded, you can't even tell what they are!

Slow Cooked Salmon with Shredded Brussel Sprouts


6 oz. piece of salmon for each individual
Olive oil
10 brussel sprouts or so
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp shallot (I used about 1/4 of one that was roughly the length of my thumb)


1. The day before, while I was cooking my mussels, I sliced the brussel sprouts so I could complete this meal as quickly as possible. Imagine making the sprouts into confetti--long, thin strips is the goal. Slice all of your brussel sprouts to that size.

2. Marinate your salmon in olive oil for about 30 minutes. This helps with the slow cooking process--if you're not slow cooking, the marinade is unnecessary. For slow cooking, preheat your oven to 200F. This increases the cooking time of your salmon, but keeps the salmon extremely moist. The color, when cooked completely, will be slightly darker than normal. If cooking normally, heat your oven to 375F and cook for 10 minutes or so.

3. Mince your garlic and shallot. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan and saute. Add brussel sprouts and continue to saute, stirring constantly.

Serve your salmon with the shredded brussel sprouts on top. As you can see, I served mine with asparagus (surprise!) on the side.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beer Steamed Mussels

Those of you that also read my restaurant review blog (, you're already well aware that mussels are one of my favorite food groups. For those of you who only read this blog, I'm sure this fact doesn't surprise you since I think it's pretty clear that I adore me some seafood...and why should mussels be any different?

Mussels are indeed one of my favorite food groups...if the food pyramid still existed, rather than the very snazzy new food plate (nice work Mama Obama!), shellfish would be in the second tier. I eat shellfish a lot. Mussels, shrimp, scallops, clams, I'm not very particular. And I like cooking these at home because they are SO fast and easy to make, it's pretty unbelievable. I'm big into quick meals since I often come home from work late and I just want something delicious in my mouth and filling my belly, and mussels are exactly that. From start to finish, this meal took me 10 minutes. It might have taken a bit longer, but I asked my fish monger to debeard the mussels...which I highly recommend cause, lets be honest, that stuff is gross.

On another note, while I was waiting for the mussels to steam, I sliced my brussel sprouts for tonight's meal, which I'll also be blogging about...slow cooked salmon topped with shredded brussel sprouts, based on a delish entree my mom get at Mercer Kitchen

Beer-Steamed Mussels

prior to steaming


1 lb. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup of pale ale or wheat beer
3 tbsp butter
1 tbps chopped parlsey



1. Scrub and debeard (if your fish monger hasnt) your mussels. Throw out any with open shells or that are broken. 

2. Heat a pot (that you have a lid for) over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil in the pan; add the shallots and garlic and saute. Add mussels and beer and stir. Put the top on the pot and let steam for about 2 minutes--open, stir again so that all the mussels will be flavored, and put the top back on. Steam for another 2-3 minutes, until the shells open.

3. Transfer mussels to serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Continue to simmer liquid; add butter and parsley, stir once and remove from heat. Continue to stir in butter. Pour over mussels and serve immediately.

I served my mussels with toasted french bread to sop up all of the delicious broth. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gray Sole with Tomato-Olive Relish

I'm proud to say that I am successfully still on my health food kick! And my cooking kick...aka Lent is still going on, so sushi is off the menu. Although someone (my aunt) finally decided to tell me that Sundays don't actually count as I can eat sushi on Sundays! I'm not sure if that was actually a good thing to share with me or not, but I feel like this is going to get SO MUCH EASIER. 

Anyway, so I'm still on my seafood cooking kick. But I'm starting to get bored of salmon, which isnt very surprising, since I eat it 3 days a week now. I never got tired of sushi though...hmmm.... Digressing again! Back to the topic...what was the topic? Not raw fish? Cooked fish? Right. I remember now.

So I've been trying to think of recipes for white fish that are still a bit interesting. Unlike with salmon, which you can marinate for 30 minutes and change the flavor of the fish a bit, light white fish is completely overwhelmed by marinades. And who really wants that? But to just cook the fish is a bit...boring. Delicious, but not very thrilling. So I've been thinking of how I can spice up plain white fish and I came up with...tomato and olive relish! Who doesn't love tomatoes? And I'm not even a HUGE olive fan--which is odd since I love olive oil with a passion rivaled only by sushi--but when it's mixed in, I really enjoy the flavor it gives. The problem then was figuring out what to put in the relish with the tomatoes and olives. The answer was, unsurprisingly...garlic. And a couple of other things. That are all delicious. So make this. It's really good.

Gray Sole with Tomato-Olive Relish


Light white fish fillets (I used gray sole; dover sole, lemon sole, tilapia, etc. would all be good also)
2 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced olives, without pits...obviously
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp chopped parsley
4 tsp chopped oregano
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Olive oil!


1. Make your relish. You can either chop the ingredients, mix, and let sit for an hour (like this recipe) OR (this is what I did), saute the garlic and tomatoes in olive oil on the stove top. Throw in the rest of the ingredients for about 15 seconds and pull off the heat. Put aside and let marinate all together for 10 minutes or so.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place fish fillets on a baking tray covered in tin foil (to ease the removal) and drizzle olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice over the fillets. Place in the oven and bake until cooked through--the fillets will flake easily with a fork.

3. Once the fillet is cooked, serve with the relish over top. I like the relish when it is warm, but serve however you like.

Simple, easy and delicious! Perfect week day recipe :-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Basil Pesto

As you saw in my Quick Pics, my favorite sauce for pasta is basil pesto. Mainly because, with absolutely no cream, and the positives of olive oil's healthy fats, I tell myself eating a giant bowl of pasta is healthy. Translation--pesto makes me lie to myself. Well that may be a loose translation (kind of like my attempting to translate what my office's Spanish cleaning lady mutters about me--by the by, I dont speak a lick of Spanish), but I'm fairly certain that's what I just said.

Well, now that my health food kick is sufficiently underway, a bowl of pasta sounds pretty good! Except...I don't really want it. Shocking, I know. After weeks of not eating starches (ok, I eat SOME, I'm not a martyr), I just don't really want a big bowl of them. But what about my love for pesto? I determined I would start using pesto as a topping for some of my favorite proteins. Enter...salmon and pork chops. It was, to be honest, a bit more successful on the salmon, but both were absolutely delicious!

Basil pesto


2 cups of fresh basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
Cup of extra virgin olive oil (use your eye to when it's the perfect amount for the amount of basil you use)
1/2 cup greated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino
Salt and pepper


1. Combine the basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil slowly through the top of the processor and incorporate. Stop adding oil when the pesto reaches the texture you prefer (I like mine a bit oily, so use less if you don't!) Season with salt and pepper.

That's it! One direction! How easy is that. Pesto freezes very well too--I like to put pesto in snack size bags in individual portions so I can pull it out and use when I'm feeling lazy. So it's good to make a ton! And now, I'm using it on all kinds of things, including the salmon above and the pork below.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Restaurant Review: Pub and Kitchen - Philadelphia

Last weekend I came home to pack some things that need to come back to NYC and had a date with K at a restaurant he used to work at, Pub and Kitchen. This was the second time I've been there, but the only time I ate--the first time I went when he still worked there for the free drinks. What?! I'm no sucker.

Anyway, I've been looking forward to trying P&K since he's been raving about it for over two years. Seriously. No food is so good you talk about it for TWO years. Well, almost none.

Anyway, I digress. As many of you have most likely gathered, we're fatasses. And although we're not boyfriend and girlfriend now, we've dated for so long we still act like we are...and share food. So of course the first question was what appetizers we were sharing! K was having some serious decision difficulties for both apps and his main--he kept going back and forth between the salmon and the mussels. So...duh!...I ordered the mussels for an appetizer. This is a trick that my uncle (RIP, I miss you everyday) taught my family in St. Maarten. Every single time we got to a restaurant, my uncle would order a full-size pizza (it's a french island and wood burning ovens cranking out margherita pizzas were literally everywhere) as a "taste". So I come by ordering main courses as appetizers by genetics. Kind of. We werent actually blood since he was married to my mum's sister, but whatever. Genetics. Count it.

The mussels were awesome. Although K gave up liquor for Lent and apparently forgot that the mussels are cooked in beer...I was hoping that meant that I'd get them all (muhaha) but, alas, it didnt. Anyway, the mussels were Blue Bays steamed in a lager with spiced lamb sausage and served with fries. The fries were pretty banging too, but the mussels were amazing. I'm a sucker for a good mussel.

I let K order for me and he ordered "The Churchill". The Churchill is a Pat LaFrieda burger, which is custom blended for P&K, served with sauteed onions and (more) fries. It was...good. I'll be honest, it was probably better than I think, but I live in NYC and don't think Pat LaFrieda burgers are anything special since every Tom Dick and Harry restaurant has them. Also, I'm not the biggest fan of burgers...or meat in general, since I was a pescetarian for years and have only recently started to re-eat meat, and only when I'm at restaurants. I wanted to love it...but I didnt. If you're a burger guru though, I'd place the bet that you would really like it.

K's meal, on the other hand, was banging. Should have ordered the fish...*sigh*. He ordered that night's special, which was pan seared striped bass with crispy skin over mashed potatoes. It was awesome. I would have forced him to trade, as I often do, except he's more religious than I am and couldn't eat meat since it was a Friday. Instead, I'm sure he went home starving, but my selfish instincts were kicking in (that and he ordered the burger for me, so it was his own fault!)

Overall, I really liked pub & kitchen. If he were to ask me on a date, I would go again. I don't think I would go by myself or with my fam though. You wouldnt have to twist my arm to get me to return though. But, if I do, I'm going to stick with the fish...

To learn more about Pub & Kitchen, and the famous pabbit in their logo, visit [however, the website is USELESS, which makes me dislike the restaurant a little bit to start...if you'd like a menu, check out the philadelphia menupages, it's on there.] If you're a Philadelphian, you can find the restaurant at 1946 Lombard Street.

Monday, March 5, 2012

NY Wine Expo

This weekend was girls weekend with my mum, which of course!!! We went to the NY Wine Expo for the second year in a row. I highly recommend attending next year--it is always the last weekend in February or the first in March. It brings wines from all over the world (France, Italy, Greece, Crete, South Africa, New Zealand, and on and on) and brings thousands!!!

This year was much better than last. It was in a different area of the Javit Convention Center which was much more conducive to the expo, and also offered food! Last year there was only an avocado trucks serving amuse bouches and I felt bad for the workers--each time a tray came out they were bum rushed! This year they had tastings besides wine, including olive oil (got some of that! It will be highlighted on in my Fave Products post this week), cheeses, foie gras, etc. and had things on sale like knives, wine accessories, and kitchen supplies.

The Grand Tastings, which we attend, are four hours. I highly recommend the Saturday mid-afternoon one. Although I recommend taking a nap afterwards!!!

Below are the labels I took pictures of while there...aka my favorites!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Restaurant Review: Crema

Last week my best friend from high school came to NYC for the weekend. She works at ESPN (yeah boys, jealous?) and was working a game at Madison Square Garden in the morning, so me, her and her friend from college all met up to have dinner. Since she was staying near MSG and I work in the flatiron, we made reservations at Crema, a Mexican restaurant on W 17th.

K and J got to the restaurant about an early and sat at the bar and had some margaritas. I arrived about 20 minutes later and had a glass of wine. We had 9 p.m. reservations and we were sat at literally 9:00 on the dot. Now we all know how much I adore restaurants that seat you on time, but when we're there an hour early, I'd think they could have sat us a little before 9:00. BUT I was very happy that we were sat on time.

Obviously the first thing we got was guacamole. We were at a mexican cucina. It's pretty much law that you get guac. And it was a very good rendition, although being the snob that I am, I much prefer when they make the guacamole tableside. But the kitchen is open so that offset the lack of tableside creations. And the place was pretty packed. If someone was making guac tableside, I feel like they would have gotten bumped ALOT. But I still like it better when they do that.

Since it was a Friday during Lent, none of us could eat meat. K got the massive creation that is shown above, called the Plato Vegetarian, or basically the chef's choice of vegetarian items. It came with rice, beans, a salad and two vegetarian enchiladas.

J and I both ordered the "Callo de Hacha con Chile Morita y Mango". I don't speak Spanish though, so translation being dry scallops pan seared in chile morita, sweet corn cake, avocado mousse, mango pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. The scallops were bay scallops when I expected sea, and were a little overcooked and rubbery but the corn cakes were amazing. And the chipotle aioli was also delicious. If I went again would I order it? No. But I didn't hate that it was in front of me and I did some damage to the corn cakes and mango salsa.

All in all, it was a fabulous dinner, but much of that was the company I was in. Sometimes you leave dinners thinking OMG that was a great dinner, the food was so good. This time I left thinking that was a great dinner, I had so much fun...what did I eat again?

With that in mind...Crema is a great option since I work about 8 blocks away. I'd go back again. If I suddenly switched jobs and didnt work so close would I ever go to it again? Absolutely not. In fact, I probably wouldnt even remember it was there...

If you want to try your hand at some crema, which is a Mexican fresh cream, head over to 111 W 17th St, between sixth and seventh aves, and find it online at