Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rangers, 2 vs. Devils, 3: Lamb Chops with cilantro-mint herb sauce

Like many hockey fans, I was elated, overjoyed and just plain relieved that the lockout ended this summer. Growing up in a family that was not much for athletics, I never had much of an interest in most sports except hockey. Watching baseball or basketball bored me, but I was always ready to watch a hockey game. I'm sure my interest is in large part due to the fact that I figure skated for many years--just being around pucks, sticks and of course cute hockey players had a big influence. So, the New Yorker that I am, I grew up an avid Rangers fan. And, of course, like any good Rangers fan, I DESPISE the New Jersey Devils.

So this year, after all the hoopla of actually having a season, I proposed my first ever sports bet to my friend Y.O./J.C. (he has two names--it's a long story involving a fengshui master, his parents and his supposed future), a New Jerseyian now living in Manhattan who has a misguided love for the Devils. As they are in the same division, the two teams play each other eight times during the regular season. I felt that this was equal to eight dinners and therefore made a bet with him.

Alas, the first game was a loss by my beloved Rangers to those evil ones across the Hudson River. That meant I had a dinner to cook. What to make, what to make.

I decided to center the meal on lamb chops. I must tell you, dear reader, I LOVE lamb chops. It's just one of those foods that gets my mouth salivating at the mere thought. I have terrific memories of Mama Rose using the toaster oven to gently cook the individual chops and I would wait patiently by that square little machine watching the meat sizzle and brown, ready to grab one as soon as I saw my mother's look of approval.

Normally I roast the chops "naked." No, I do not cook without wearing clothing. What I mean is that I just don't usually marinate my chops before they go into the oven--I cook them plain. Other than in restaurants, I hardly ever eat lamb chops that have been pre-marinated. Therefore, I decided I should try to marinate them this time and settled on a cilantro-mint mixture. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Why? Well, I forgot to do it the night before. Doh!

So instead, I roasted the chops "naked" in the oven and made the mixture into a sauce.

Lamb is a meat with a sometimes overpowering earthy flavor and therefore I like it paired with simple veggies, like green beans. So I steamed a bunch I picked up from Fairway on my way home from class.

To round out the meal I made a simple dish of wheat pasta (which I found very rough and dry--I don't think I'm going to buy it again) topped with Victoria Marinara Sauce.

To finish, I opened up my last bottle of wine from my trip to Venice two years ago. The bottle of Domini Veneti Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1999 was a perfect match--this slightly light bodied variety with some floral hints complemented the deep earth flavors of the lamb.

We both enjoyed the meal (although I'm sure he was gloating over his win) and I was able to prepare it in less than an hour. Afterwards, Y.O/J.C. and I went to 44 and ½, though I can only recall one of our desserts, the lemon tart. My memory of our time there is a bit fuzzy--I had just consumed a half bottle of wine.

Since our meal, the Rangers have won 3 games against the Devils! Y.O./J.C. doesn't cook so he'll be taking me out to eat to keep up his end of the bet. First up: L'Impero in Tudor City. Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Buddhists eat matzo too!

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a lovely Sunday morning with my friend C.K., her boyfriend J., and her adorable grandmother at a Buddhist temple in Chinatown. Every Sunday her grandmother goes to this temple to pray and have lunch with her fellow congregants.

We arrived around the end of the morning service and joined her for a vegetarian lunch served in the basement of the temple. All around us you could hear the slurping of noodles and clicking of chopsticks as people of all ages chattered away in several dialects of Chinese.

After our meal, C.K.'s grandmother escorted us around the main hall of the temple pointing out pictures of Buddhist masters as well as the sutra scripture books she reads during the service. On our way out, I noticed (what I thought were) offerings of treats such as fortune cookies and candies placed next to the Buddhist statue by the front door. Hmmm...why was a box of matzo amongst the offerings to Buddha?

As it turns out, the matzo is actually food for congregants to nibble on if they are hungry during the Buddhist services, which can be quite long. But it was funny to see it placed next to a Buddhist statue.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

I might like one of those...

A new appliance has come to my attention.

It's called a Thermomix and was featured in the NYTimes Magazine this weekend. Sold through direct marketing (Anyone ever been invited to a Cutco demonstration? Someone comes to your home, demonstrates the product and prodes you to buy it), it's a blender, mixer, grinder that can weigh your ingredients, saute and steam them too.


The reviewer seemed to be pleased with the machine, though at $945 (plus shipping and handling), my first reaction was "are you kidding?"

But after thinking about the machine for a while I realized that the average NYC kitchen is quite small and that it only takes up the space of one of those aforementioned items, so actually, you're saving a lot of room in your "closet" for other equally important things, like an ice cream maker!

The other advantage with the Thermomix, which the author pointed out, is that you are essentially paying for quite a number of kitchen appliances and tools in one machine, so you're saving yourself some "dough" in the process.

That said, it's out of my price range for now. Another item for my "wish list" (which seems to grow daily).

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

For the love of Asian Food

I noticed this icon while on the Asia Society webpage.

It's a link to a website that is devoted to all things about Asian food.

It's divided into sections with recipes, features on different aspects of Asia food, links to other online Asian food sources, a glossary of terms, an easy navigable list of NYC Asian food restaurants and even a listing of cooking schools that feature Asian themed classes both here in the US and around the world.

I'm impressed with the recipe search engine, which allows you to search by regions and types of dishes. I haven't yet tried any of the recipes, which seem to be mostly pulled from Charmaine Solomon's Encyclopedia of Asian Food as well as a few from the Korea National Tourism Organization.

The restaurant listing (granted it is only for the NYC area, but if you've ever been here, you know just how many Asian food restaurants exist here and how daunting the decision can be to pick one) is quite an extensive compilation. It's divided by region and country and then the neighborhoods of NYC. Judging from the Thai restaurants they have listed in my area, they have a very well rounded listing (you can also send them the name of a restaurant that is not on the list).

The glossary of terms on the main page is also pretty impressive. I've had a few experiences with Asian food recipes that mention ingredients that I can't even pronounce much less figure out what they may taste like or be used for, so I can see myself using this helpful online source.

I'm glad I websurfed my way to this website. It's a helpful and insightful source of the varied tastes that exist in Asian cultures.

* Graphic courtesy of Asia Society

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

But the question is does it taste good?

Check this out.

I'll take the hand, you take the face :-)

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