Restaurant and a Recipe

Most work days are spent visiting job sites or doing paperwork from the office.  Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit a particularly stunning job site; The Mayflower Grace Hotel in Washington, CT.

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About two hours or so from NYC, this hotel seems like it would be a great oasis from anyone’s hectic life.  While I was there for work, the general manager was gracious enough to offer me a comped lunch.  I’m sure she had some ulterior motives of lowering my quote, but I’ve never been one to say no to a free lunch (especially such a fancy free lunch).

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I propped my paperwork all over the bar of The Taproom, and was treated to a really lovely lunch. The atmosphere of the entire hotel property is very classic, New England elegance; above and beyond historic charm.  This may look like a simple salad, but it had such a level of savoriness I’ve never experienced in a light salad.

Upon the General Manager’s recommendation, I chose The Mayflower Bibb salad, “Maytag Blue cheese, crispy shallots, tomato truffle vinaigrette.”  Perfection.  (Sidenote: I did not pay for this meal, but left a hefty tip.  I’ll admit I’m young and not familiar with the professional prototypical here; what would you recommend?)

After work, I went straight to the kitchen to whip up a dessert to bring to the first night of Passover at my Aunt’s house.  Through the King Arthur Flour website, I found what looked like the perfect recipe to try out, Almond Cloud Cookies.  For those of you whom celebrate Passover, I’m sure you can agree there are only so many times you can make or eat macaroons or chocolate covered matzo.

The recipe is available through that link above, so I won’t go into too much detail.  I did make 1.5 of the recipe, because it called for 10 oz of almond paste and I could only find it in 7 oz packages.  I figured two packages equaling 14 oz was close to 15 oz, or 1 and a half times what the recipe was calling for, so I just multiplied the other ingredients accordingly.

Sugar and almond paste go in the stand mixer to get crumbly.

Whisk egg whites until frothy and add to the crumbly stuff in the mixer.  025.JPGAdd chocolate chips and almond extract. [the recipe calls for bitter almond oil….I’m not a huge baker so I didn’t want to go nuts looking for something so specific]

027.JPGThis is where things got really exciting for me.

I was doing all of this baking in my Mom’s kitchen; which meant I was using all of her gadgets etc.  I have never actually owned one of these cookie scoopers, but there was one in Mom’s drawer!  I felt very fancy following the recipe pictures so perfectly that I had to take a picture.  Take joy in the little things people.

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Scoop out cookie dough onto baking sheets.  030.JPG

Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Press three fingers into each to sort of mash them down. Then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Oh man.  I cannot express how wonderful these are; imagine a really good chewy chocolate chip cookie that has a deep almond flavor that hugs your tastebuds.  These are cookies I would eat even when its not Passover, the fact that they are okay for the holiday is just a bonus.  Enjoy!

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The Iron Tomato, White Plains

Yesterday morning Mister had an appointment in White Plains, so I made plans to meet him for lunch.  Looking online, there were a ton of options, so I consulted Yelp and found great reviews for The Iron Tomato.

It fit all of the criteria: (1) walking distance from Mister’s appointment (2) quick/not too fancy (3) good reviews

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Walking in can be a little over whelming, with the shop set up more like a market or cafeteria than a standard restaurant or deli.  The shop has a great flow to it, just make sure you go to the right when you first enter to prevent fighting the procedure.

To the right of the entrance is a bakery, continuing straight there is a salad station, cold prepared foods, and some refrigerated desserts. Once you make your next right (the layout is a rectangle, more or less), there is a smoothie counter.  The next section has the deli counter, lastly a pizza counter and you’ll then return to the register area across from the front doors.

We ordered a sandwich to share, neither of us being too hungry.  You grab a number from the dispenser, and wait to order.  It was organized and efficient, even with the crowds waiting for food.  Menus are clearly displayed in several spots, so there wasn’t that moment of dread waiting to be able to see the menu and hoping that happened before it was your turn to order.

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Splitting the Iron Tomato Special was the perfect amount of food.  Crusty bread with a fluffy, oil drenched interior.  Cold chicken cutlet, savory roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella.  You can see the line of balsamic soaking into the bread on the lower half.  It wasn’t the best sandwich in the world, but it hit all the good flavor and texture points for sure.  I would definitely try an italian mix next time.

There is a seating area in the front corner, and we were given a plate at the register to help us share more neatly.  Its clearly a place that’s popular for lunch, with quick turnover.

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After the sandwich, we couldn’t resist the glowing bakery case.

We walked for a bit and ate our dessert outside, an eclair for Mister and a nutella tart for me.  It was like a melty hershey bar atop a crumbly crust, but in a way that’s way better than that awkward description.

 

A Miss and a Makeup

This past weekend in Albany, Mister and I didn’t have any real plans but we wanted to get out of the apartment.  I think we were both a little restless, and I’m always up to finding something to do.

Unfortunately, the cold weather put a damper on most activities, but on Saturday we were able to start with the Troy farmer’s market.  Sadly, I had made the mistake of bulking up on a huge breakfast at home, so Mister and I were having a hard time getting excited about any of the usual farmer’s market treats.

After walking around a bit, we mustered up enough of an appetite to try out Nibble Inc.  just a few blocks away from the Atrium.

Since we were nowhere near starving, we decided to split a doughnut an an almond milk latte.  (Yay lactose intolerance!)  After one bite each, we were so thankful we only ordered one doughnut.  This was a big ol’ nope for us.

I tried really hard here.  Hey its a cute place, and local, and small business, and quality ingredients.  I just hated what this tasted like.  It solidly reminded me of those first few, horrible attempts at using a bread machine. This mint chocolate doughnut was like when I try to pretend my protein pancakes (protein powder/egg whites/bananas) taste just like pancakes, cause for real they don’t.

The issue here; Nibble Inc uses a potato base for their baked goods.  Which can be great if you’re into that sort of thing.  I might very well be the only Jew from Westchester that hates knishes.  These are the doughnut version of a knish.  Mister gave up, I picked off the toppings.074.JPG

 

We tried to be sneaky about throwing away the rest of the sad snack.

I did not regret, however, following this up with a visit to Cheesecake Machismo for some sweet redemption. This place is always so good.

I didn’t hold back at all; ordered three slices and we split one per night for the three days I was in Albany.  That’s portion control, right?

Chocolate chip fasciana, s’mores, and peanut butter cookie.  We ate them in that order too. I love the thick bottom on the chocolate chip, the chocolate torte topping on the s’mores, and the peanut butter cookie crust on the third.  Those were all the things Mister didn’t like for each slice so we’re super awesome at sharing things.  Win Win Win.

While a lot of people are gearing up for Thanksgiving, I started indulging a little earlier.

This past weekend Mister came down to Westchester so of course there were the requisite downstate bagels and pizza; there was also cheese, cupcakes, cake, and a list of snacks.

Saturday morning, we went to Mount Kisco Bagel Co. pretty early.  The last time we went closer to the afternoon, the line was out the door and lets just say Mister and I aren’t exactly patient people.

We are huge fans of black and white cookies, so when we saw a black and white cupcake on display, I eagerly added that to our order.

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Oh yea, we ate that thing of beauty in the car within minutes of leaving the parking lot.  Moist, buttery cake topped with thick icing.  [then we went home and ate bagels, no regrets]

Saturday afternoon, we ran some errands and found ourselves hungry enough to navigate Stew Leonard’s for some food to take home.  Thankfully, this wasn’t Mister’s first trip to Stew’s, because seriously that place is overwhelming on my fiftieth time going there; there is a lot going on.

We picked up some really good food from their hot bar, and a bowl of fruit for good measure.

Saturday night, we headed to Stamford for a birthday party.  Mister’s brother had ordered Dinosaur BBQ, and we were responsible for providing the cake.

I’ll admit, I panicked a bit; I wasn’t familiar with any bakeries in the northern Westchester or CT area.  The last thing anyone wants to do is bring a bad cake to a party.  Everyone remembers bad cake.

Thankfully, I read a ton of yelp reviews and settled on The Pastry Corner in Mt. Kisco.

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Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It was really great, and the staff of the Pastry Corner were all genuinely nice to deal with.  Highly recommend.

Sunday, I was a sleepy monster.  All the carbs, and lots of barking dogs running around made me feel like a bloated sweat pants monster.  But we pushed through that for some pizza before Mister headed back to Albany.

We went to Pelham Pizzeria, which is my favorite for slices near Mom’s house.  This was the first time, however, that I ordered something other than pizza [well I mean, I addition to the pizza I scarfed down, don’t worry. ]

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I got Escarole and Bean soup to go, and ate it for a late dinner last night.  They packed it with some Italian brea, and I added some Parmesan on top.  This was really good stuff, with little chunks of pancetta and a surprisingly complex broth.

I could have easily eaten the entire quart, but thankfully I forced myself to save half for lunch today.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to focus a little more on healthy eating before the gluttony of Thanksgiving.

Hype

Trader Joes Cookie Butter.
People love that stuff, like really love it. I’m a fan of Fall and Holiday season flavors; I love all the pumpkin, gingerbread, maple conceptions that appear. So it wasn’t difficult for a Trader Joes employee to talk me into a jar of Cookie Butter.

That was a year ago and I finally finished that stupid jar this morning. I know Trader Joes has a great return policy, but I just kept thinking I just hadn’t figured out what to do with the stuff yet. I put it on toast, pancakes, with jelly, etc.

This stuff is thick. With an almost gritty texture that always reminds me of lard.

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Several types of sugar and margarine seem to be the basis for this off conception. While its marketed similar to peanut butter, it should really be sold as more of an actual butter. Except it doesn’t melt.

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This morning I finally used up the last of the stupid jar by making my morning oatmeal in it. I microwaved the oats with almond milk right on the jar. The cookie butter didn’t even mix with the oatmeal after a stir. But it’s settling nicely in every artery and pore of my body. I feel lethargic and greasy, from a mere two-ish tablespoons of this awful stuff. But I’m a stubborn, determined person and felt some sick satisfaction in finishing off the jar that has been lingering for way too long.