Archive for the ‘Food Adventures’ Category

Brunch at PS 450-New York City

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

By: Jemile Bata

A couple of weeks ago a friend, my daughter and I went to the city to visit Build a Bear.  Since we were already in Manhattan, we decided to go to brunch beforehand.  My boyfriend suggested a place called PS 450.  They have a brunch special for $12, with choice of coffee or tea, Mimosa, Bellini or Bloody Mary and an entrée.

The restaurant itself was gorgeous and trendy, autumn colors and sleek décor were soothing.  We only had to wait a short ten minutes for a table, the exclusiveness was exciting.  It is not often that I have the opportunity to take my daughter to a place that she will feel comfortable and I will feel like a grownup.  No placemats with crayons was refreshing!

They began by bringing out a basket full of miniature corn muffins, buttery biscuits and fresh strawberry jam.  The choices on the menu were fun to explore, ranging from eggs benedict to burgers.  All included interesting twists and special additions to the usual breakfast fare.  We made our choices and chatted for awhile, my daughter felt very grownup.  Our drinks came and it was nice to feel the bubbly champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice in the Mimosa.  The little one had orange juice alone, of course.

We ordered scrumptious Monkey bread and crispy seasoned homefries for the table to share.  The Monkey bread was gooey and not too sweet, in a cute little rectangle garnished with a mint leaf.  The ketchup came in tiny little ramekins, which my daughter marveled at.  The brunch experience was amazing so far and a good time was in full swing.  The staff was wonderful, attending our every need even with a large crowd filling every available seat.

Next came our entrée, my friend had ordered breakfast sliders, eggs and bacon or sausage.  My daughter ordered French toast with berries and bananas, powdered sugar sprinkled over it.  She was in heaven, although it was definitely too large for her tiny stomach, she was able to finish only a third of it.  The bread was thick and fluffy, not greasy at all and the berries were fresh and sweet.  I had ordered, at my boyfriend’s suggestion, the crab cake eggs benedict and salad and I was not disappointed.  The crab cakes were light and delicious, the poached eggs lay upon a bed of spinach, the hollandaise sauce was very good but not too rich.  My friend tried a bite and was impressed as well.  The salad and homefries on the side complimented the eggs and crab cakes well.  Overall, our meals were exciting, interesting and delicious. 

After our friend treated us, we exited with full intention of returning soon.  Our stomachs full and our senses satisfied.  Even my daughter was happy with the detour to her main objective, getting to Build a Bear!  We took a nice stroll down Fifth Avenue, the autumn air filling our lungs and the recent fond memory of a yummy brunch at PS 450.  Sunday couldn’t have been any better at that moment!

PS 450 is located at 450 Park Avenue South between 30th and 31st Streets on the west side of the street.

http://www.ps450.com/

Old Town Alexandria-Day Trip

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

With Fall here, a part of me longs for trips up north to Vermont.  My mother lived there before she passed away and the crisp breeze calls to me.  However, with an insane school schedule and lack of funds, it is not an option.  While I remember my love of travel, I think of one of my other favorite places to visit here in the Northeast.  Old Town Alexandria, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Last Memorial Day Weekend, my kids and I, visited Old Town Alexandria. I have been there previously a few times, and every time I go back I am even more enchanted. There are tons of things to do while there. I wish I could say that we visited all the amazing art galleries, museums, or even trekked down to the famous Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Which was frequented by George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. However, we didn’t.

We actually took the Metro in from our hotel, L’Enfant Plaza to the Kings Street stop . Since we had spent the better part of three days making our way through the amazing, yet vast Smithsonian Museums we decided a simpler day was in order. So, the following are not the best of Old Town Alexandria, but they are fun little things to try not to miss when visiting (especially with kids):

·           Historic Alexandria is just a quaint, serene, beautiful little town. Cobblestones, pretty flowers hanging from the street lamps, a free old-fashioned trolley that runs through town, and a beautiful dock surrounded by a grassy field. Sitting on rocks by the water, a boat house, and a giant anchor that no child can keep from climbing.

•Historic Alexandria (Virginia) Visitor’s Center 

This is the best place to start before wondering around the town. There is so much information, extremely helpful and polite people to help with questions, a rest room, a sweet garden and a great place to find out if any special events are happening that day.

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMXZG

• Historic Alexander History Center & Museum Store

We didn’t actually make it to the Museum; however there was a very nice center with a coloring corner, Revolutionary dress up corner, a Civil War tent and other interesting information wagons.  My daughter had a fun time here; despite ourselves the adults did as well.  To be honest my teenage son wished he was anywhere else and he was starving!!!!! So whether or not you make it to the museum (we plan on it next time), don’t miss this little hidden “play place”!

http://oha.alexandriava.gov/oha-main/oha-historycenter.html

Shopping

We weaved in and out of such cute shops!  There were folk art, book shops, wine shops, cheese chops, fancy shops, toy stores, antique stores, and artisan shops.  We found a particularly adorable toy store where we picked up old fashioned small toys, like tops and things.  They even had little grab bags for $1 in paper lunch bags…which delighted my daughter with little treasures.

Eats

This by far was the most exciting thing.  After a sunny afternoon walk and hours of wandering around we were all famished.  Especially the previously mentioned, teenage boy!  The one problem we had in Washington D.C. was figuring out where to eat with kids.  Old Town Alexandria was the first place that we had options.  We finally decided on a fascinating chili place called: Hard Times Café.  Not only did it have an amazing history, lots of cowhides and vintage cowboy stuff, but it had amazing chili.  They even bring out a sampling platter of their four chilis!  The cornbread was so good. Family friendly and the waiters were extremely polite and helpful.  In fact this was one of my favorite parts of our visit.  The homemade root beer was so decadent and rich it was practically dessert, the best root beer any of us have ever had.

http://www.hardtimes.com/

Overall, we had a wonderful day, I think we all returned to the Metro (on the free trolley of course!) wishing we had some more time to look around.  We also spent very little and got the most from what we did spend, in this tight economy that was a plus! Next time we visit Washington, D.C., I have every intention of staying in Old Town Alexandria instead of by the National Mall.  Waking up in such a pretty place, taking a morning stroll with coffee along the City docks sounds like a great way to start a day full of museum visits with kids in tow!

Hidden Sugars and …

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I am currently reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food. I am not sure what my collected thoughts are about the information I have read so far, but I can say it is riveting and I keep going back for more.

In addition to this I saved Jamie Oliver’s new show Food Revolution.  I have been watching Jamie since he was The Naked Chef.  Although I have an impressive collection of cookbooks lining a shelf in my kitchen bookshelf, I have to say that I use his cookbooks most often while the others collect dust.  His recipes are always simple, down-to-earth and yummy.  The fact that he is a hottie is something else indeed.

The message Jamie is trying to send,  is similiar to the message Pollan is stating in his book.  Most of the food we eat isn’t healthy, and the reason it’s unhealthy is we really don’t really understand what it is made up of.  Even food that we consider healthy, turns out not to be. I thought if I was drinking Vitamin water and granola bars I was being healthier, perhaps not.