Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spumoni Gardens

Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn, NY is a magical place. While there isn't really a garden, there is spumoni and lot's of it. My family went there two weekends ago to celebrate my Grandpa's 71st birthday and for the occasion we ordered the Chef's Table. The Chef's Table involves carafes of wine, appetizers, salad, pasta, a main meat with vegetables and dessert. The menu is created by the table and the servers there know the restaurant's offerings like the back of their hand. For our appetizers we ordered: shrimp cocktail (which came with plain and fried shrimp), calamari, baked clams, seared and stuffed artichokes and mozzarella in corrozza (triangle-shaped fried mozzarella). The latter two were my favorite picks with the artichokes being especially delicious and less-sweet-than-usual due to the some lovely caramelization and added salt.

After the appetizers came a simple salad with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and mozzarella, which was then followed by the two pasta dishes we had chosen for the table; spaghetti with fresh white clam sauce and fusilli bolognese. I had the spaghetti and it was absolutely delicious and perfectly al dente. Here is a picture of the fusilli (imagine two of these enormous platters for just 10 people!):

After we had our pasta our server came over with a frozen Frangelico and coconut beverage to cleanse the palate and then the main dishes came. We ordered chicken francese and veal dish which came with garlicy-swiss chard and mashed potatoes:

I was pretty full at this point so I just stuck with the eggplant from the francese and a small heap of the swiss chard. The eggplant was incredibly soft and lemon-y while the chard was spicy with a bit of crunch from the stem. When you order the Chef's Table food comes out non-stop for two or so hours and we had literally almost forgotten that dessert was coming post-dinner. Well it did in a very big way:

We got TWO of these dessert platters filled with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams, whipped cream, chocolate covered strawberries, tartufo, cheesecake, chocolate cake and last but not least, spumoni. This was all drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. A dessert such as this should not be legal. I dug in with the rest of my family and scored a serious scoop of spumoni along with a chocolate covered strawberry and called it a meal... and a good one at that. Here are my grandparents with one of the platters:

The keys to this meal were nibbles, pacing, splitting, tasting and a lot (a LOT) of take-home containers. I am definitely going to try to come back over the summer for a simple slice of pizza and serving of spumoni.

Sticking with the Italian theme, my roommate Tina made this incredible bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola by Ina Garten. Her tip? Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to your pan along with the sugar for some tang. Crunchy bread and a soft, warm topping are always winners in my book:

With health,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Veggie Bites Season 3, Episode 4!

In true final's week fashion I decided to update the blog last night around 3a.m. only to find that my internet wasn't working. But my internet is working now (yay!) and will hopefully not cut out on me before finishing this post. The past three weeks have been legitimate insanity. The new brothers in my fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi) got initiated and I planned our formal with the help of these lovely people:

I spent a week in the editing lab tweeking these photographs for my final series (the model is my friend Christina Bartol, how amazing is she?). I have been having a ton of fun at Ping Pong doing a bunch of media and promotional planning and all of my final tests and most of my final presentations happened over the last three weeks. The great thing about all of this is that I've only got three projects left to complete this week and now that my photography class has ended and my AKPsi duties are over I have time to blog again!

The most recent episode of Veggie Bites to go up on YouTube is Barcelona! My friends Rebs, Jeff and I went to Barcelona directly from Paris during our winter break and we had an incredible time. Check out my London blog to read more about it! In this episode Jeff helps me make vegetable paella and we have a special guest to toast with us at the end!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Vegetable Paella


· 2 cups long grain white rice

· 26 oz. can crushed tomato

· 4 cloves garlic

· 1 white onion

· ½ cup green peas

· 1/3 cup artichokes, chopped

· 3 carrots, cut into thin disks

· ½ lemon

· 2 cups vegetable stock

· Tbsp tumeric

· 21/2 tbsp paprika

· Salt and pepper


Add crushed tomato, onion, garlic and rice to your largest pan on a medium-low heat. After 10 minutes or so add in peas, artichokes and carrots along with tumeric, paprika, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Gradually add vegetable stock for rice to absorb until all of the vegetable stock is used. While cooking be sure to let the rice at the bottom of the pan brown and harden. After about 40 minutes or so, serve paella onto plates using a spatula, being careful not to break the bottom rice crust (that’s where all of the flavor is!).

Serves 6

Non-alcoholic sangria


· One gala apple

· ½ orange

· White grape juice

· Pomegranate juice


Cut gala apple and orange into small cubes. Add fruit to a pitcher or carafe and fill 2/3 of the way with white grape juice. Add a few splashes of pomegranate juice, stir and pour over ice.

My hair looks crazy in this picture, but this is the picture of us in the speedboat with the woman who lives in the same town as me, small world!

Us with our bracelets which are all a very dark shade of brown now! We had lunch that day about half a block away from the Sagrada Familia!

I think I am going to wait just one more day for my Spumoni Gardens re-cap and I will also give you an incredible bruschetta recipe courtesy of Ina Garten/my roommate Tina!

With health,


Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Back!

After a long blogging hiatus, I am back in action! Classes ended today and with only three projects left to complete for the semester I now have time to write again, yay! Over the past two weeks or so I've totally detached myself from the blogging world and I'm clicking my mouse all over the web to catch up on my favorite blogs (this might take me a while haha).

I have been up to a lot and I've been eating a lot and I will update you all on all of these things starting tomorrow. For those of you who follow me on Twitter you'll know that I ate an enormous meal last weekend at Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn for my Grandpa's 71st birthday. You will not want to miss the pictures of this food tomorrow!

With health,


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hitting the Gym + Rowing Machine

Every semester of my college career other than this semester I've worked out in a gym. Freshman and sophomore year's it was in the Jacob's Fitness Center at American University and in the fall of junior year it was at Club Kensington in London. This semester things have changed a bit what with a photography class that is like a part-time job, an internship with Ping Pong and an executive board position on my fraternity (plus Veggie Bites!!), so I've tended to workout in my apartment.

Working out sans "proper" machinery is no issue for me-- I make use of chairs, large cans of crushed tomato as weights and my yoga mat for carpet burn-free exercise. My apartment building has a gym at the first floor but it's pretty awkward; people can see you as they are entering the building due to its glass wall and people can also see you while walking by on the first floor. In addition to that, the gym is teeny tiny and makes me feel pretty strange when it's just me and one other person and we're both eying each other for the same silly gossip magazine.

I know I don't post a lot about exercise (my mind is usually on the food!), but I do get in physical activity everyday. This can range from dancing at a club, to walking back and forth between my apartment and campus two times because I forgot my photo printing paper, to doing side planks and push-ups in my living room while my roommates are in class. I have definitely maintained the same weight throughout the semester through my atypical exercises but it's almost summertime so I have a new focus; my arms.

After a full day of classes the absolute last thing I want to do is to stay on campus longer to go to the gym (I'd rather blast Lady Gaga in my room and do squats and lunges), but the problem about my apartment versus a real gym is the equipment. Other than my cans of garbanzo beans and bottles of sparkling water, I have no real weights in my possession. During my stay in London I got really into the rowing machine at the gym because it worked my core, legs and arms at the same time, while especially making my arms look toned. Today I made myself go to the gym on campus after class so that I could hop onto that machine again and see what it would do for me across the pond.

The Jacob's Fitness Center has Concept 2 rowing machines, so I decided to check out their website to learn more about what the machine can do for me. Here they identify which muscles are used while rowing, which I think is really great because I am all about visuals! They've also got tabs such as "Technique" and "Training Programs" which can show you how to row correctly and do so effectively to meet your weight and fitness goals.

Today I did a 15 minute sprint on the elliptical with a resistance increase at least at every 2 minutes 30 seconds (starting at a 5 resistance), 10 minutes rowing and 30 minutes of strength including box squatting with weights, torso twists with weights and also vertical crunches but reaching my arms straight up to the ceiling instead of having my hands behind my back (you can see what a vertical crunch looks like here).While I have been doing a lot of strength training in the comfort of my apartment this semester, it is nice to be able to add additional, non-edible weights to my workout via the gym at school.

Does anyone workout at home? Do you find that there is a difference between working out in a home setting or at a gym?

With health,


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ben's Chili Bowl and Matzah Brei

Last year I tried to go to Ben's Chili Bowl around Inauguration time but the line was so crazy that I ended up going somewhere else to eat instead. Both of my roommates went recently and since I was going to an event near there Friday night for my internship with Ping Pong, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to go.

Will came to visit for the weekend and he was all about going, too! The line wasn't too bad-- we waited for about 15 minutes or so-- and the atmosphere was energized. You order your food while waiting on a snaked line and receive it as it's ready, even if that mean's passing chili cheese fries down the line to the person who ordered it. This, in addition to the Jazz and Funk music blasting from a jukebox, is what I think makes eating at Ben's Chili Bowl more of an attraction than a food experience.

I ordered a small Veggie Chili Bowl and coleslaw and fries for Will and I to split:

Will (who got a chili cheeseburger) and I both agreed; the food was not that great. We've both had better chili before and the fries could have easily come from any roller skating rink's eating area. While I'm not sure that I would go back again for the food, if you haven't gone I would definitely check it out to see the behind-the-counter hustle, hear the music first-hand and appreciate the relatively cheap prices.

On another note, this afternoon I made matzah brei for Will and I for brunch. The dish is egg-coated matzah that people either eat with sweet or savory toppings (my family is all about the sweet!).

To start, break three pieces of matzah and add to a bowl with a bit of warm water to soften. Once the matzah has absorbed the water, add two eggs and combine everything with your hands (rings off!):

Once the matzah is coated in egg, add the bowl's contents into a pan that's been heated with 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil on a medium heat. Turn over matzah to cook the egg and top with cinnamon and agave nectar while it's on the stove. Let the matzah cook in the pan for 7-10 minutes and serve with a peanut butter-filled chocolate egg if your boyfriend is Catholic and it's Easter :)

You can also top it with sugar or brown sugar instead of the agave, and we even ended up adding some of the pumpkin butter I blogged about yesterday. Delicious.

With health,


Saturday, April 3, 2010


Matzah is pretty "blah" by itself and you can only eat "matzah pizza" so many times (perhaps I am speaking for myself on that one though haha). You can spice up your plain matzah with some goodies such as McCutcheon's Pumpkin Butter:

Or Organic Adriatic Fig Spread with Marcona almonds and that d'Affinois cheese I was raving about a few posts ago:

Both spreads are so delicious, so tantalizing, so interesting in texture that they will make any piece of matzah stand out in a crowd.

As my roommate, Tina, says about the pumpkin butter "It tastes like Fall." Indeed.The cheese, almonds and fig spread are courtesy of my Aunt Barbara who usually pairs a variation of the three on family gatherings (she doesn't mess around when it comes to food). This week I challenge you to find an interesting spread to put on an otherwise boring cracker!

With health,