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Well, I’m back in Georgia and attempting to conquer my many to-do lists. I arrived home from the airport in the late afternoon and immediately went into the kitchen and go tot work cooking dinner. The produce from our garden is fantastic! During my first full day at home yesterday I cooked from 3 pm to 7:30 pm. I started by making some tomato sauce using the tomatoes from our garden, which I later used for an eggplant parmesan. Then I used my great grandma’s recipe for zucchini for dinner along with citrus ginger tilapia and a cherry tomato salad. Oh, and I also made a tomato pie in the morning for my mom’s office. Today I’m baking some banana bread. Yum!

For the sauce I blanched all the excess tomatoes we had laying around the house. I then peeled of the skin and put them aside while I sauteed onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in a large pot. Once the veggies were tender, I added some white wine until it evaporated. Next, I added the tomatoes, herbs, and a pinch of sugar. The mixture cooked down for several hours, which made it so sweet. I can’t wait to try it in the eggplant parmesan tonight. I’ll post the picture in my next post.

My great grandma’s zucchini starts with some finely sliced onions and garlic being caramelized. Ten I add thinly sliced zucchini and let it cook down. Later I add the spices chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and eggs. You can also add a little cheese in the end too.

 

For the tilapia, I simply layered some orange and lemon slices on the bottom, then laid the fish on top. I sprinkled it with salt oregano, pepper, and a mixed spice grinder. For moisture I added ginger miso dressing, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Lastly, I used the remaining slices to top the fish. I covered the pan in foil and baked on 350 for about 25 minutes.

 

For the cherry tomatoes I simply sliced them in half, added salt, pepper, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Garden tomatoes are the best.

 

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Pure Crazy

That’s the only way to describe the day. Forgive me for this post because it was really and truly my only bad day this summer. With that said, please allow me to rant a bit. It all started off this morning when my dad and brother were supposed to catch the 8:45 am flight to NYC. Well, Air Tran cancelled it despite the fact that the weather was fine, the prior flight took off, and the later flight took off. What the heck, Air Tran?! They didn’t even compensate for parking, the lost hotel room (it was too late to cancel it), and the 6 hours my dad and brother spent at the airport. Never flying with them again!

I also woke up with a sore throat and ear ache, so it just wasn’t my day. Such a funk. There were some high points, though. I saw Neil Patrick Harris in the office today and walked through the Law & Order set while they were filming on my way home from work. As an attempt to cheer myself up I finally gave into my cravings and bought myself a Mr. Softee. While in Rome….. And it was delicious btw.

Now, let’s backtrack to yesterday- a wonderful day! The department was supposed to all go to Morimoto for lunch, but people got caught in meetings, so it was just four of us which ended up really fun. My coworkers are fantastic people who I will miss like crazy. Back to the restaurant- the inside was very modern and chic, and the food was spectacular. We started off with two appetizers, the crispy rock shrimp tempura and the tuna pizza.

As you probably know I normally don’t eat fried foods, but I had to try these. The shrimp closest to the foreground was covered in a wasabi sauce, but I can’t remember what the red sauce is. Anyway, the batter was light and airy, not heavy like typical fried shrimp. Very good.

The tuna pizza was freaking awesome. The fish was so incredibly fresh, you could tell just by looking at the bright red color. The fresh tomatoes were refreshing while the salty olives added a nice bite. By far my favorite of the appetizers. Next up: my sushi!

I ordered a California roll, yellowtail roll, and salmon sashimi. The california roll was so different from the typical version because they used fresh crab meat instead of imitation crab. The flavor was out-of-this-world. The yellowtail roll was simply yellowtail and scallions. Lastly, the salmon was so incredibly fresh that it practically melted in my mouth. So tender and satisfying. What a perfect lunch.

I’ll leave you with a shot of the Law & Order set- literally half a block away from my place.

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Alton, Justin, and the Kitchen

My last week is here, but it still hasn’t sunk in yet. Monday flew by because work was a blast. We first celebrated a birthday in our marketing “meeting” with delicious candies and fun conversation. Throughout the day I ended up going up to the kitchen at least 3 times for errands, and I ran into my favorite, Alton Brown. He held the door open for me, so I replied by saying “go dawgs”. I think I caught him off guard, so he burst out laughing when he realized what I had said. Such a cool guy! I also ran into the latest winner of Food Network Star. Let me say, he’s so cute in person! When I get back home I’m definitely going to try out some of his recipes- they’re so unique.

After work I went for my usual run. Today was pretty ordinary at work, but I’m super excited for tomorrow. They’re taking me to lunch at Morimoto since it’s my last week. This restaurant has been on my restaurant bucket list for quite some time now. Hopefully Morimoto will be there to grace us with his presence. I saw him at the studio a few weeks ago, but it’s different when they’re actually at their own restaurant. I’m curious to see what everyone orders.

My dad and brother arrive Thursday to help me pack up and move back home this weekend, so it will be a bittersweet rest of the week. I’ve never gone this long without seeing my dad, so I can’t wait for that, but I’m not ready to go back to school. Luckily this is my last semester, so I won’t be in Athens much longer. I respect the fact that people love that town, but it’s just not for me. The more I experience other places, the more I realize that I’m meant to live somewhere else. Applying for jobs will be scary, but it’s always fun to see what the future brings.

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More Visitors

Another week flew by in a New York minute. Things have been slowing down at the office, so I had time to explore and visit the kitchens quite a bit. Also, food was EVERYWHERE- in the kitchens, in the break rooms, leftover from meetings. Thank goodness I’ve been running almost everyday.

Last night I was able to leave work a bit early to meet up with some family friends from home at Haru for a pre-show dinner. I ordered the lemongrass soup and shared some sushi, which was delicious. I can’t believe it was my first time having sushi all summer. Then we walked over to see “The Best Man“, which was absolutely fantastic. I got so sucked into the story by the end of the last act that I wanted it to keep going. It was about two candidates running for their party’s presidential nomination during the 1960s. The cast was freaking amazing- James Earl Jones, Sybill Shepherd, Angela Lansbury, John Stamos, Kristin Davis, and more. I even got to meet them after the show when they exited the theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

I met up with the family again this morning for a run in Central Park. Matt and I ran 6 miles together, then I did a solo mile to bring my total to 7. I swear, a long run has turned into one of my favorite things. It’s so refreshing, just like pressing a reset button. I then did some farmers market shopping and showered off, and am about to head out to meet back up with them to do some shopping. Dinner tonight with one of my favorite teachers from high school!

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A Visit from Mom

My mom spent the weekend with me here in NYC! She flew in on Thursday afternoon and just now got on the plane back to Georgia. She stayed in my dorm on the extra bed so she got the true experience. Here’s a quick recap of everything:

Thursday

I took her to dinner at Mancora after I got off work. Luckily, I was able to show her around the office and the test kitchens when she first arrived at Chelsea Market from the airport. Of course, I ordered the delicious ceviche.

It was still a bit light outside, so we walked into Stuyvesant Town and sat by the fountain. It was so weird having my mom in the city with me. I’m so used to telling her about all these places instead of actually being able to show her. On the way home, we stopped for a Mr. Softee. Only the best for us.

Friday

My mom explored the city while I worked, but she met me for lunch on the High Line. We picked up some soups at Hale and Hearty and found a table with a gorgeous view of the Hudson River. We explored the area, then I went back to work.

I found a super cute place for dinner, Pepe Giallo, where the food was delicious and the atmosphere was one-of-a-kind. The front of the restaurant looked like a typical Italian place, but we asked for a table in the garden. The hostess led us to a back part of the restaurant that was uncovered and surrounded by European decor.

Mom ordered the eggplant parmesan while I got the salad with grilled shrimp. Both delicious!

The New York Philharmonic held a free concert in Central Park on the Great Lawn so we quickly made our way over to join the crowds. There were thousands of people there so we settled in a spot near the back. The music was beautiful and made me wish I still played the violin.

Saturday

I always wake up hungry so we started the day with a filling breakfast at Stage Restaurant. The food was delicious and the people were so friendly. The diner is literally a hole in the wall with only a few seats at the bar, so we became quite friendly with the diners around us. It was fun getting to ask the locals about their lives in the city and receiving advice from them. My mom ordered the Challah French toast (Gigantic portion) and I ordered a vegetable omelet with egg whites.

Then we strolled around the Green Market so I could pick up some veggies for the week. My mom loved the fairy tale eggplant.

The rest of the day was dedicated to shopping. I ended up with some new shoes, jewelry, and a hat. Not bad. We also scored some great student tickets to Mamma Mia for the 8 pm show, so we made dinner reservations at Otto for 6 pm. I would definitely recommend Otto (one of Mario Batali’s restaurants) because it’s a fancy dinner without fancy prices. We each got a salad for 8 dollars and split a pizza for only $11. We ordered the margherita which was right up my ally- thin crust and lots of tomato sauce. It made me realize how much I miss fresh basil from home.

Mamma Mia was fantastic! The music was upbeat and the characters were all very likable. In fact, I would go see it again if I had the chance.

Sunday

Since yesterday’s breakfast kept us so full for way too long (no lunch yesterday) we wanted something lighter today. We ordered some items to go at Veselka (She got a cranberry muffin, I got oatmeal, and we both ordered coffee) and ate on a bench in a nearby park. It only cost us $6 and was delicious. In fact, I could only eat half the oatmeal so I know what I’ll be eating tomorrow before work.

Then I took her walking down the East River towards Chinatown so we could explore. Even though she was exhausted the markets were fun enough to keep her walking. We took a little break in Little Italy then walked to lunch at Congee Village. She stepped out of her comfort zone and ordered the vegetable congee like me. I also ordered some pork buns for us to split. Luckily, she loved the soup and wants to find a place at home that makes it so we can eat it in the winter when it’s actually cold outside.

The weekend was busy, but so much fun! I loved being able to show my mom the many places that I tell her about on a daily basis. But, I’ll be seeing her again in two weeks when I return home. I can’t believe my time here is almost at an end. Tears are coming, I just know it. I love New York more than any other city I’ve lived in. How am I supposed to return back to school after this?

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Day at the Beach

So I already told you about my action-packed Saturday, which means I was more than ready for a relaxing Sunday. I woke up early (6 am!) to catch the 8:07 train at Penn Station, which brought me to Middletown to meet my cousins. We went back to one of their houses for coffee, then headed out to the beach. By 11:15 am, the blankets were out, the picnic was being nibbled, and I felt like I was on a mini vacation. Later on, another cousin and three friends joined us so we had a small group to hang out with. The water was pretty chilly, so we alternated between laying in the hot sun and dipping ourselves in the refreshing water. It was my first time at a beach in almost 4 years, so I thoroughly savored it.

By 5:30 we were all pretty tired from the sun so we made our way back to one of their houses for a family cookout. I love how every Sunday with the cousins turns into such a family affair. I’m going to miss it when I go back home! We swam in the pool, pigged out, then played some intense games of volleyball. I think I’m improving! I took a late train back, so I didn’t get home until 11 pm. Luckily, I was able to snag a cab right away and practically ran into my bed.

I’m definitely excited for this week because I get to attend something special on Wednesday and my mom is coming on Thursday! Also, my office is having an intern social tomorrow at John’s Pizzeria, so I’m treating myself to a slice. All the walking in the city makes me feel not as guilty about indulging every now and then. I have to enjoy it before heading back to boring old Georgia. But, mark my words, I’m moving here after Christmas!

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Two Celebs, One Day

I started the morning with a 3 miler along the East River, then immediately set out for the Green Market. As I was browsing and enjoying the numerous samples I spotted a TV crew. Michael Symon was filming for Symon’s Suppers!

I got to see him while in the studio and he also attended our event last weekend, but I still hadn’t actually met him yet. So, I waited until they finished filming and introduced myself. Such a nice guy! I soon headed back home with my veggies and took my sweet time to get showered and dressed. I love treating myself to frozen yogurt every now and then, so I got a cup for lunch. They didn’t have the graham cracker flavor, though. Bummer, but still tasty.

Then I went on a mission to shop. I took the subway to H&M, but had no luck. I started to head downtown to visit a friend, but he got called into work so I hopped off the subway to switch directions. To my surprise, there was a street fair right at the subway stop, so I browsed through and ended up with two cool bracelets and a scarf. I also stopped by Forever21, but had no luck there either.

I wasn’t quite ready to call it a day, so I decided to drop by Eataly for a bit. The food there looks incredible. The atmosphere is a bit odd to me since the tables are out in the open where it’s almost always crowded, but I would still eat there. I took my time walking back home and discovered that Julia Stiles is my next door neighbor. I don’t get crazy around celebrities, but I definitely had to do a second take to make sure it was her. We definitely made eye contact, lol.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the beach with my cousins for a picnic! Can’t wait!

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Whirlwind Week

This week has been nonstop. I’m so grateful to finally have a night in to relax with a movie and prop my feet up. To make this post more manageable to read and create, I’m going to leave you with a fun photo recap of each day.

Tuesday

In search of antique stores with my roommate

Congee Round 2: Still delicious!

Wednesday

7 Mile run in Central Park, then fireworks with friends.

Thursday

Mets game with my cousin, Chris. I got free tickets from work!

Friday

My Uncle met me for lunch on the High Line.

 Of course, I went for a run after work and am ready to relax with a movie. My weekend plans are up in the air, but I’m sure I’ll have an adventure no matter what.

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Congee for Me

The day started with a bowl of cornflakes and a run along the East River. I will never get used to the beauty of the city next to the sparkling water. The scenery amazes me every time. After a much-needed shower, I stocked up on food at Trader Joe’s and made lunch plans with a friend from school. I’ve heard about congee and wanted to try it, so today was the day! My friend, Robin, is Chinese, so it was the perfect opportunity for her to teach me all about the culture. Around noon I walked down to Congee Village where we met up with each other and ordered our congees. The soup only cost $4, so we decided to have some fun and order dim sum. I ordered the boiled buns and Robin ordered scallion pancakes. Of course, we shared everything. Originally, I had my eye set on the vegetable congee, but Robin informed me that I needed to try one with preserved egg involved. So, I was able to modify and ended up with the vegetable congee with preserved egg. It was so different from any other food I’ve ever had before. They served the dish in a sturdy, clay pot that was just taken out of the oven. Congee is made from rice that has been cooked so long that it breaks down and becomes almost like a porridge. My bowl also contained carrots, green beans, scallions, ginkgo nuts, preserved egg, mushroom, and more.

The congee was comforting and so delicious! I especially loved it because it’s such a light dish, unlike the usual greasy stir fry. No guilt here!

The boiled bread was tasty too. They’re basically soft pillows of sweet bread that you dip into condensed milk. They were good, but I’m going to try something else next time.

The scallion pancakes were savory and tasted almost cheesy, but were a little on the greasy side for my taste. It was fun trying so many dishes though.

Afterwards, Robin gave me a wonderful tour of Chinatown and taught me all about her culture. I absolutely love learning about this stuff! We stopped along the way to pick up Korean melon, fresh tofu, and bakery goodies. Once we were finished, we ran some errands on 5th Avenue and rested for a bit at the Plaza. I swear, Sunday afternoon is my time to crash. I cleaned the dorm a bit and made myself a pretty tasty dorm room dinner. The carrots were dipped in tomato basil hummus, and the cucumber, squash, zucchini, and radishes were all bought at the Green Market in Union Square. So fresh and tasty! Just my style!

Here’s to Week #6!

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