georgia aquarium

atlaqua1

On my recent trip back home, my family and I stopped by the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. As someone who complains about the summer heat a lot, I find aquariums ideal. Pretty, colorful animals that don’t smell in a contained cool space… perfect!

Apparently everyone else thought so too because this place was packed on a Tuesday afternoon. Nonetheless, I managed to snap a few gems that captured some of the beauty of these creatures.

There’s no Momofuku Milk Bar Exam today, but don’t worry, I have something lined up very soon! And remember: FISH ARE FRIENDS, NOT FOOD.

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an apple a day

Last weekend I went apple picking for the first time! Being from the South, I’ve been berry picking a couple times– fresh summer blueberries and strawberries are absolutely the best. But fall has now officially begun and I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to kick it off than driving to upstate New York, picking apples while sipping wine and spiced cider. I just love Fall!

{dedicated apple pickers}

My friends and I decided on Applewood Orchards and Winery as our apple destination. It was only an hour and a half north of Manhattan but felt like a lifetime away from the bustle of the city. Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from the noise of everything and just immerse yourself completely in nature. I would really recommend this orchard as it’s HUGE! I don’t think we even explored a fraction of the grounds yet managed to pick plenty of apples.

{crackle finish apple}

Another plus is that there is a winery on the grounds as well. For $6 you can sample 5 different wines/hard ciders. They were all delicious but the pumpkin spiced cider was my favorite. It tasted just like (tipsy) pumpkin pie in a bottle!

{delicious apple sampling}

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{gang of Johnny Appleseeds}

Applewood Orchards and Winery
82 Four Corners Road, Warwick NY 
(845) 986.1684

The Spence

{pork belly}

For most of this week I will be in Georgia visiting my family: catching up on So You Think You Can Dance, eating my mom’s cooking, and soaking up the last few days of summer. September is also a nice time to celebrate birthdays as both mine and my sister Christine’s fall within the month.

As an early birthday celebration, our whole family had dinner at The Spence last night. I’ve previously talked about what a HUGE fan my whole family is of Richard Blais and he certainly does not disappoint with his new restaurant! He was actually at the restaurant last night and was super nice and welcoming. I genuinely loved every dish we ordered (and we ordered A LOT) but my favorites were the lobster knuckle sandwich, the bone marrow and tuna tartare, and the pork belly entree (my first time having bone marrow or pork belly… I’m SOLD!).

{oysters and pearls}

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{bone marrow and tuna tartare with fried quail eggs}

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beach week: savannah & tybee island

The only bad part about a vacation is coming back after it’s over. After spending the past week with my family in Tybee Island and Savannah GA, I wasn’t quite ready to come back to New York. Even though our trip began with some rainy weather, it cleared up just enough for us to soak up some rays, stroll Savannah, and even take a fishing boat out to catch our dinner!

correction: my dad and brother Ben caught our dinner (17 fish total!) as my mom, sister, and I were much too busy getting seasick…

We had a great time on Tybee Island! But I’ll let the pictures do the talking as I know that’s the only part I really pay attention to these days on blogs.

{our catch of the day}

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DC weekend: Easter edition

So how’ve you been?? No really, I feel like it’s been ages since I wrote a proper post (although I hope you did enjoy my Broadway tips). I’ve been busy, I’ve been lazy, I’ve been plain neglectful. But I’m back! And ready to unload not just any post but a travel post!

This Easter weekend I visited my friends Lisa and Meghan who live in the DC area. We all met while studying abroad in Siena, Italy and have stayed in touch throughout the years. They’re two amazing gals. I’ve traipsed around Paris with these two and the last time we spent Easter together was in 2009 when we spent the day in Pompeii and then feasted on Neapolitan pizza and Sri Lankan food for Easter dinner. I love traveling with them because we travel “by sense” meaning there’s no itinerary, no real plan, just relaxed fun and always amazing food. But you should know by now that’s a given with me.

{Lisa and I at Lyon Hall}

Friday evening started with dinner near Meghan’s place in Arlington, VA at a really nice bistro, Lyon Hall. They have some excellent wine and even after we could eat no more, we ordered the crème brûlée for dessert. It was marvelous. At night, we went down toward Georgetown, which is so adorable, and danced til we could no more… well more like til Meghan and I could dance no more cause Lisa will dance you under/over/around a table.

[Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Mousse}

Saturday was ‘DC tourist day for Margaret.’ The last time I was in DC was my 8th grade field trip and honestly all I remember about that trip was sneaking off to dip my toes in the Washington Monument reflection pool while yelling ‘Jennnyyy!’ à la Forest Gump. I was due for a second impression.

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so American, so delicious

I rarely talk about my work on this blog which is a shame as I really do adore where I work and what I do. I suppose most of the time I think it would bore people which, to be honest, it probably would. At certain times, however, I can’t help but contain my excitement about something new happening at the Met!

This past Thursday was the press preview for the new American Painting Galleries (which opens to the public, Monday January 16!). It’s really such a classic space, with natural wood floors and open sky lights– very American indeed. The paintings, however, are really what glow. Iconic ones like Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emauel Leutze (above) as well as works by other American artists such as Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins and…

this absolutely beautiful painting by John Singer Sargent. Reminds me of my favorite show, Downton Abbey. In fact, the makeup artist of the show said that she was greatly influenced by Sargent paintings… I like to think this one in particular.

Madame X also by Sargent. Stunning.

The New York Times has even posted this interactive tour of the galleries which gives you an amazingly realistic sense of walking through the space. I’d really recommend you check it out… as your duty as an American.

Now, when I think of America one of the foods I think of is macaroni and cheese. And when I think of macaroni and cheese, I immediately think of Thomas Jefferson. Although the dish most likely existed centuries before in Italy, he can certainly be credited for popularizing the dish in America. In fact, “Thomas Jefferson is known to have had a pasta maker as early as 1793 and to have served a macaroni pie at the White House in 1802.” Are you thinking what I’m thinking… what is a MACARONI PIE and where can I get some?

Below is a recipe for stovetop mac & cheese, you know, like the kind that comes in the blue box (only much better). I remember my mom used to slice hotdogs into our mac & cheese when we were younger… I thought she was a genius.

 

  

This version has been lightened up a bit and incorporates broccoli, but still remains very classic, very American, and of course very delicious.

Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese (lower fat)
adapted from skinnytaste.com

  • 12 ounces high fiber elbow or shell noodles (I used Barilla)
  • 12 ounces fresh broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

(1)  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente (or slightly under cook 2 minutes). In the last 1 minute of cooking the pasta, add the broccoli. Drain in a colander once done.
(2)  While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent. 
(3)  Whisk in flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. 
(4)  Whisk in the milk, vegetable broth and Dijon mustard, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a bubble.
(5)  Cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
(6)  Once the sauce is thick, turn heat to low, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted.
(7)  Add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. 

Makes 8 servings