Showing posts with label Date Night. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Date Night. Show all posts

Friday, November 21, 2014

chef after dark

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"taking a cooking class with your husband."  it sounds like a fun date night, right?  while it was a blast to go to, it was hardly a date night.  i guess the point of "date night" though, is to force ourselves out of the house and do something fun together.  so last night "technically" still fit our requirements.  it just happened to be with people we "know" (more on that later) and ended in a hangover the next morning.

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jersey city is a funny place.  people are so welcoming and interested in meeting new people that we all start following each other on instagram and social media before we meet in person.  before you know it, 6 months (or more) go by, and you still haven't met each other in person.  when you finally do it's like
"hey i'm jenn" 
"yes i know, nice to finally meet you in person, i'm renee"
"yes i know, nice to meet you too"
"i love your blue sofa!"
in a round about way, that's pretty much the conversation we had last night.  maybe we never met in person yet, and maybe we've been stalking following each other on instagram for quite some time, but we felt like we already knew each other!  it's sort of weird, right? when i talk about it, it's weird.  but it doesn't feel weird. that's the cool part about it.  social media is a wonderful thing.

anyways, about this cooking class we took! it was hosted by bambino chef and lourdes of the vine.  lou lou from lourdes of the vine provided the wine (and the awesome wine tasting lessons!), while renee of bambino chef provided the rest with the help of chef joyce.  the night started off with some sparkling wine to help us through getting to know one another.  once everyone arrived and suited up, we were split into 2 groups.  hung's group made cheesy savory cookies, and my group made garlic sausage with puff pastry (i forget what each item was called, i'm terrible with my french food!!) once everything went into the oven, both groups started assembling the figs with blue cheese! since it's not fig season, chef joyce rehydrated dried figs with port wine, red wine, and water so we could stuff them with blue cheese, bake, and drizzle with a port wine reduction.

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guys.  it.  was.  so.  good.

the cheesy cookies were amazing (how could you not enjoy it when 2 of the 3 main ingredients were butter and parmesan!?)  the garlic sausage with puff pastry tasted like "pigs in a blanket" to me, but with the nicer meat (i.e. NOT hotdogs) and puff pastry instead of croissants. served sliced with mustard, they were the perfect little one-bite snack.  lastly the figs.  omg the figs.  not a new flavor to us, we've been making pizzas with dried fruit and blue cheese for a while, but when it was in one-bite form with the sticky delicious port wine reduction, i could have eaten the entire plate.

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each dish we made was paired with a french wine.  i've always read about how to pair wine with food, and i've read about how to properly do a wine tasting, but i've never actually done it.  i had never been taught to do it.  last night i learned that swirling the wine in the glass, indeed, does make the smell come out better, and slurping the wine, indeed, does bring out the flavors.  (i felt so fancy doing all those fancy wine things and actually understanding why instead of doing it because that's what i see people do when they get a bottle of wine in a restaurant).

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what a great group of chefs after dark last night!! we were all basically best friends by the end of the night.  maybe the wine helped.  but this is why i love doing things like this.  lou lou and renee weren't exactly strangers to us, but the rest of the group definitely were strangers to us when they walked in the door at the beginning of the night.  by the end of the night we hugged goodbye like best friends.

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while bambino chef focuses on children's cooking classes, kids birthday parties, and occasionally a private party for adults and families, i have to say the first adult class open to the public was quite the success!! 

just wait.... you're gonna see those savory cookies again soon.  like, maybe, on that holiday coming up, that one where it's ok to indulge in butter and cheese.... and nearly everything else.

cheers.
jenn

p.s. can you tell we had a great time? i'm posting this literally hours after the event when i haven't posted in, well, almost 2 weeks! i'm a terrible blogger....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

september date night - morgan fish market, jersey city

a belated post for sure, but not without merit.  this place was so good, we plan to go back again soon (after we recover from another gluttonous weekend, WHY do we love food so much!?!?).

just a short walk from the journal square train, in nearly any direction, you will find food that originates from all the far corners of the world.  go a few blocks north and you're in little india.  go a few blocks west and you've got filipino food.  go a few blocks west and you've got morgan fish market, an egyptian fish restaurant! 

morgan fish market was our destination for september date night.  i wasn't quite sure what to expect when i walked in early, waiting for hung to arrive off of the train.  the atmosphere doesn't exactly say "date night" but i was up for an adventure. from the moment i stepped in i knew that THEY knew that i was new there, but that's ok.  i just sat down at a table while i "waited for my husband" (still weird to say)

once he arrived, went to the counter to order.  not knowing exactly what to do (and clearly showing it on our faces too), a man sitting at a table with what looked like his family asked us if we needed help. "yes! we would like to order, but we don't know what."  he recommended the striped sea bass and the branzino.  they will cook it any way you like, so we said we wanted one fried and one grilled.  the order comes with hummus, pita bread, rice, and salad.  we really could have ordered just 1 order for the both of us and split it and would have been satisfied, but after tasting the food we were glad we ordered two.

morgan fish market jersey city

morgan fish market jersey city morgan fish market jersey city

morgan fish market jersey city

i've got 3 words for that fried striped sea bass:  BEST. FISH. EVER.  maybe it's the seasonings, maybe it's the fact that they cook and serve the WHOLE fish, maybe it's the fact that it's in a place that doesn't quite look like it should be serving food that good, or maybe it was because it was date night.  really though, i think it was really just because it tasted that good.

we don't eat mediterranean food often enough.  this dinner at morgan fish market was our first time eating egyptian food.  although the hummus, tahini, and salad seemed like your standard (always good) middle-eastern fare, the fish stole the show.  i'm not sure what other type of food is served in egypt, but i can say this small taste inside the world of egyptian food was enough to make us come back for more.

high five for another successful date night, our first as husband and wife!
(and high five for discovering more hidden gems in jersey city!)

cheers.
jenn

Monday, October 20, 2014

minimoon in the catskills

refreshed doesn't even begin to explain how hung and i felt after spending the weekend in the catskills on our minimoon.  living in the city, you don't realize how busy and how much stimulation you have when you're so used to being on-the-go nonstop.  normally when we decide we need a break and spend a weekend night at home, we're still cooking, we're still on our phones, we're playing video games, and we're watching gilmore girls marathons.  it's not a break.  we're still "connected" and feel like we're missing out if we spend too much time away from instagram that we miss something that someone posted.  i'm such a sucker for instagram, but our weekend away made me really realize that it's a time-passer for me.  spending the weekend with just my husband, with no tv, no video games, no cell phone service (for most of the time anyways) was a step away to truly relax.

after a friend told me about table on ten, i knew we had to go.  i've wanted to do a staycation in NYC for a long time, but we keep putting it off because of the high price of hotels.  i knew it was for us when i found out that we could stay in a likely-better-designed minimalist bed and breakfast for half the price in a place where we would be forced to live without distractions.  i booked the trip through airbnb and decided that we could piggy back the trip as being our october date, even though it was supposed to be our minimoon (hey, we still have a reception to pay for, we can't go too crazy with the vacations yet).

on the way to bloomville, we stopped at warwick valley winery.  expecting your average winery with lots of wine to taste and buy, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that this is the place that makes doc's apple cider! while my taste buds have grown more "mature" since my days of loving every cider on a bar's menu, i still enjoy doc's.  the cider was included on the tasting menu, giving us a quick taste of a cider that never makes it to the draft list at our local bars: pumpkin cider.  i know, i know, everything has a pumpkin flavor nowadays, but this one was really good.  they know what they're doing when they say it's "seasonal" and "when it's out, it's out".  so, we packed our car full of booze, and continued driving to our destination in the catskills.

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at table on ten, we were greeted by the smell of brick oven pizza and a friendly staff.  we were shown our rooms, and just laid on the bed in awe of our weekend ahead.  you know you married the right one when you're excited for a room with no shower (just a hand held shower head and a tub, freestanding in the middle of the suite) and no door on the toilet area, just a curtain. the attic above table on ten is romantic.  it's minimalist. and the SMELL.  gosh i couldn't get over the smell.  it was fresh, it was cozy, and it made the place feel like home.  we spent the night eating pizza from the café at table on ten (their friday and saturday night specials), had a hot bath with the rest of our wine from dinner, and were ready for bed by 9:30pm. 

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i can't tell you how long it's been since i woke up on a saturday at 6:15am feeling 100% awake and refreshed.  we actually had to waste time before breakfast started to be served.  although Inez recommended a nearby café for breakfast, the smell of coffee and all things breakfasty told us we needed to stay.  after breakfast we planned to go to plattekill mountain, which has ski slopes in the winter that double as mountain biking and hiking trails in the non-winter months.  i like hiking, but it's not really hung's thing.  so this was a happy medium.  we rode the chair lift to the top of the mountain, and hiked our way down.  the hard part was done FOR us, AND we got views of the mountains unachievable from any spot on the ground.  worth every penny of that $7 ticket to the top.

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afterwards we ended up going to the café that inez referred us to for brunch.  it's called russell's, and it's the cutest little store in bovina.  it's a no frills place, where everyone seems to know everyone.  but as newcomers, we were treated with the same hospitality.  the place is filled with general store goods, bakery items, nostalgic candies, and, again, that delicious smell of bacon.  we ordered sammiches and devoured them.  end of story.  we were, again, referred to another local restaurant for dinner, and decided that these recommendations are a good thing (because they all actually ARE good recommendations).

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we spent the afternoon drinking ommegang beer at the taste of the catskills event in delhi before heading back to table on ten to relax before dinner.  i never would have thought that a place that seems so desolate would require reservations for dinner, but as we walked into brushland eating house, we realized why.  the well-designed space was dimly lit with just the right amount of cozy, not too many tables that makes you feel like you're packed in like sardines (ahem, like every restaurant in manhattan), but enough to fill the space with friendly conversations to make it feel lively.  when there's a place in town that serves food that's THAT good for reasonable prices, it gets packed.  fortunately for us, we are pretty low key and those bar stools at the ledge near the front windows that face the street are totally fine with us! we ordered the recommended roasted carrots, fell in love with turnips, and for once i think we each ordered entrees that was equally as awesome as the other (hung ALWAYS orders the better dish)

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another bubble bath and bottle of wine, and we were destined for another early night.  our final morning was reserved for a farm tour at a local animal farm called stone and thistle, where the owners served brunch at their home at a huge communal table after the farm tour.  after seeing a real family farm in action, it makes us appreciate meat that comes from these kinds of places.  although we have almost unintentionally reduced our meat intake to just a few servings a week, it makes use realize that maybe the "cheapest chicken breast we can find" might not be the most sustainable, the most ethical, or the most healthy.  although this mindset is in our faces everyday in the media, it wasn't until we actually visited a small family farm that we truly knew what it meant to choose ethically-raised, quality meat.

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although we only took a half day off of work on friday, being away from distractions for just the 2 nights made our weekend feel so long (in a good way), and it was such a nice treat for us newlyweds.  now i know why people take honeymoons ;)

we fell in love with the catskills, and we will certainly be back again.

cheers.
jenn