Saturday, February 27, 2010

Way Way South of the Border

We are going very south of the border, to Chile. It's winter here, but summer there, and will help us channel warm, sunny thoughts.

It's time for the Chacarero (it's cha-kah-re-ro). My love affair started over 10 years ago in Boston. Every now and then the team would make the decision that it was "Chacarero Day" and we'd rally for a trip to the chacarero at Downtown Crossing. The line was always long, there was no dilly dallying when it was your turn, and if you asked very nicely, you could get some extra roasted red peppers (thanks, Tim, for this hidden secret).

The Chacarero is a traditional Chilean sandwich on a circular bread (there is something special about this bread, I can't put my finger on it). Between the rounds are chicken (or steak), avocado spread, muenster cheese, tomato, steamed green beans, and special spices.

I was afraid I would never have another again (not really, but I hadn't found a spot to go in NYC)...

But then cam Barros Luco on E 52nd Street. I put it on my "must get to" list, and the day came when I was in that neighborhood.

I know it looks messy, but it is oh so good. Barros Luco adds a special tangy mayo sauce, and while I typically pass on anything mayo-ish, I heard it was lemony and tasty.

This is a sign that it must have been good. Lots of napkins and a clean plate:

Update: Just heard there was a big quake off the coast of Chile, as I write this post. It's all Chile today. Hope everyone is safe!

Barros Luco
300 1/2 East 52nd Street
NY NY 10022

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snow Hurricane?

More snow! This does not capture how wet, windy and miserable it is out there tonight. When the streets are covered in New York, you know it's bad. We were troopers thought and made the trek to the gym. The snow boots saved us, the street corners had about 3 inches of slush and water in some places.

Stay warm and dry out there!

Friday morning update: The snow never stopped! The streets are fully covered, which I never expect to see in NYC. Have snow boots, will travel!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Models and Dogs

We had a lot going on here in New York this weekend. Between Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, President's Day, you would think we had enough. But oh, no! It is New York Fashion Week and the Westminster Dog Show. I have to admit, the dogs are cuter. The models actually look twiggy and scary in person.

First to Fashion Week. I was on a mission to get my mom's birthday present. Thus, the walking sneakers. It was a sprint up to 47th street and I was all about comfort:

I didn't fit in with the black and heels at Bryant Park, but had to stand long enough to get one shot. I did decide smokey purple eyes are in this year. Fashion tip from Jill, right there for you. This is the last year Fashion Week will be held at Bryant Park. It will be moving to Lincoln Center, after a 2 year search for a new venue. Apparently, it's grown too big for the park and will have more space further uptown. And additional underground parking, and 13,000 square feet of additional space.

I did see a few shows being set up in the larger galleries in Chelsea, which provide some interesting spaces.

If you are lucky, you'll get a peak of the dogs that compete in the Westminster Dog show around Madison Square Garden. This dog was following it's owner down the street (no leash even). I actually had to run a few blocks to catch up with them to get this shot. I have no idea what kind of dog this is, either.

It's a great mix here in New York, this weekend was no exception.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crumb to Cake Ratio

The perfect crumb cake has an generous topping of crumbs and just the right amount of cake. I haven't found anything better than Zabar's Crumb Cake. Too much cake and it's just cake, and I'd rather have frosting.

I love crumb topping, streusel topping, all kinds of buttery crumbs. Zabar's has a firm crumb, but it's not so firm that you can't take a bite and get the perfect combination of crumb and cake.

It was so good we decided we really should have gotten two pieces. Early that afternoon I swore I only wanted a bit or two. Lesson learned!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

O&Co - Fresh is Best!

It's nice to explore Grand Central Market on a Saturday afternoon. It's almost peaceful compared to the commotion after work during the week. We stopped in to get a sweet treat after a tasty lunch (that post to come this week). We decided on a cream cheese brownie before walking down to Penzy's for spices.

The next stop was O&Co (which is actually Oliviers and Co). I will admit that I'm a tad skeptical of this store. Do they really know olive oil? Is it all a gimmick to make me spend more money on expensive olive oil? So we casually asked the salesperson what's good and what oil he buys. And I was quite surprised when he said he goes to Tuscany once a year to crush olives and brings all of his oil back with him.

Nick is a "sommelier" of oil, if there is such a designation, and he gave a full lesson on olive oil. I have to admit, it was fascinating. Olive oil should be consumed when it is "young" and only a few months after the olives have been crushed. That's where you get the fresh, bright peppery flavor you may have tasted. Older oil is much more mellow and bland.

And olives from different regions impart different flavors. Mediterranean olives are fruity, oil from France is more buttery, and Italian oil is greener and peppery. O&Co gets oil from hundreds of places and then chooses which they will sell in their stores. And you can put in a call to them and they'll let you know when the fresh oil has arrived.

Nick is looking to go out to California where olive oil is in its infancy, almost like wine in the 70s. Over 99.9% of oil in the US is imported, so there is clearly room to grow American olive oil. Since it takes so long to grow the plants, the idea is to transplant them from Italy. Trees over 70 years start to produce quality oil, but over 1500 years old and the trees are past their prime.

Nick is working to get his certification in olive oil in Italy, after a series of tests and tastings. I will let you all know how my next olive oil purchase from O&Co goes! The Affiorato is in stores now, but we were told that the fresher oil is coming. Sadly, it won't be fresher than 1 1/2 months due to the shipping, but that might be just fine for our house.


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