Monday, September 28, 2009

New York City

The beach bums are back from our mini vacation, a weekend in New York City for a friend's wedding! We traded in shorts and t shirts for dresses and suits (when is the last time I saw T in one of those?!)

My grungy flip flops suddenly
became killer heels!
(My feet still are not happy!)

We didn't have enough time to do too many touristy things, but we did have time to EAT! Our first night, Thursday, we went to a Russian restaurant -the Firebird- in the theater district that was recommended by some friends. We started with cold beet soup (I make borscht frequently, but this was different), a selection of cheeses with candied plums, and a plate of pickled herring and eggs. A passionfruit sorbet followed, then the entrees: T had venison with raspberry sauce, and I had a tea smoked duck breast. The duck was the best I've ever had, and I really enjoyed the venison, too. Never had it before, and assumed it was gamey, but not at all! Dessert was port wine and chocolate truffles, then off to check out Times Square!

This was my first time in NYC, and Times Square was a bit overwhelming. You could actually feel all the heat coming off the many, many lights!

Friday, I had to try some New York Pizza, so we headed to Famous Ray's in the Village. Pretty tasty, a close second to my favorite Chicago style pizza. Later we had hot dogs from Papaya Dogs...when was the last time I ate anything out that only cost $1.50?!

Friday evening we headed to Brooklyn to catch up with other wedding guests, but first we had dinner at the Black Mountain Wine House- I had caught a review on the Travel Channel and it looked really good. It was fantastic. The menu is all small plates, and each cost $10. We tried a plate of salamis with olives and apples, a warm beet/potato/goat cheese tart, a selection of cheeses, and a macaroni and cheese dish made with Gruyere, mushrooms, and truffle oil. Wow. Spent a few hours enjoying the cozy atmosphere, good food and good wine. Highly recommended!

Saturday lunch was burgers and fries from Five Brothers -greasy heaven-, and the wedding was in the evening. The chicken served for dinner was suspiciously -but deliciously- moist. I would love to know how it was prepared.

Sunday morning we were on our way back to the island! It was a great weekend, and a nice sampling of sit down food and street food. Of course, vacation fund is now empty, but it did get a nice boost beforehand by sticking to our budget ($15/day) for the last few months. If I go under budget I put the remainder in vacation fund. Time to start over! So, back to island food for dinner, tonight is avocado tacos with black beans and rice ($5.63). Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Birth Week

Earlier this week was my husband's birthday (37), and our tradition is to celebrate Birth Week: for a week before the birthday you get to be ridiculously pampered, then on the actual birthday you have to celebrate by doing something you've never done before.

During Birth Week you don't have to walk the dog, or run any errands, you get to have whatever you want for dinner (but not cook it), and the other has to oblige with a smile.

Me: (All the way in the other room) "T, can you look in the freezer and tell me how long I'll have to cook those french fries?"
Him: (Standing by the freezer) "But it's my Birth Week!"
Me: Oh, yes dear, sorry! Let me look!

On the birthday, the "thing you've never done before doesn't have to be anything extraordinary, just something you've never done before! My first year on island I celebrated the day by bar hopping in bare feet, another year we went horseback riding on the beach. For T's birthday, he wanted to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant and have one of every taco on the menu: shrim taco, fish taco, pork taco, chicken taco, ground beef taco, shredded beef taco, and oh yes, veggie taco. I think he doubled up on some...don't know where he puts it all!

Because of Birth Week, I went WAY over budget, which is $105 for the week. Normally if we eat out, he pays, but not on Birth Week! I spent a little over $200 this week. In addition to Taco Night, we had pizza out twice, and I made some of his favorites at home: Veggie burgers in the style of a Big Mac (which if we had real ones would cost about $10, but to get everything to make them at home cost $25. Not right!), Veggie Lasagne, Split Pea Soup, and the absolute favorite- Pierogis!

Since we live on a boat with a very small galley, there is not enough room to stretch out and make these, so I only do when we are house sitting or dog sitting like we are right now. I am 100% Polish, and have made pierogis a million times, but this time I tried Josephine aka Spitfire's recipe for the dough. Everyone at the dinner party agreed they were fabulous! Thank you thank you Josephine!! I made three fillings, potato and onion, sauerkraut, and sweet cheese. It took about 5 hours to make them all, which is another reason I don't do it often!

At the end of the week, T thanked me for an excellent Birth Week, and I agreed he doesn't look a day over 25.

Yes Dear.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tropical Storms

We are a couple days into our 2 weeks of dog sitting, and this was a good week to not be on the boat...Tropical Storm Erika passed over us and we got a lot of rain- we get a few leaks on the boat when it rains hard and continuously. Of course, the tourists hate it, but those who live here actually love the rain. Since we are surrounded by salt water, all of our usable water comes from the sky. Rain is collected on every rooftop and stored in a cistern, usually under the building, then filtered as it comes out of the faucets. Everyone is very careful not to waste water- we turn the tap off while lathering in the shower, washing our hands, brushing our teeth, doing the dishes, etc. If you do run out of water you can buy it from the water truck, but it's very expensive.
Here's the view of a whole lotta rain!
One of my meals this week was Grape Stuffed Meatballs on Flat Bread with a warm broccoli salad, feta cheese, and Greek dressing. Husband tasted it and fell in love!
Quote: "If I died and could come back as a sandwich, this would be it!!"
I don't know. It was pretty good, but if I could come back as a sandwich it would probably be a Monte Cristo.

I also made a White Gazpacho this week (green grapes, cucumbers, garlic, onions, almonds, and cilantro). I keep running across recipes for it, so I thought I'd give it a try. Really good, perfect for a hot day.
Other meals this week were veggie lasagne ($0), broccoli quiche with lamb chops ($21), pesto pasta ($0) with wine ($12), carrot soup with cheese quesadillas ($13), and steak and baked potato ($0). We also went to a dinner party and brought a dip and beer ($15). So the total for the week was $61...that means $44 into vacation fund! I do admit we got lucky because the friends left a lot of food in the fridge.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crab Dinner!

Two gigantic crabs that will become dinner!

The claws were so big that we had to use a hammer and a rolling pin to open them...and they were delicious!
The dog agrees!
We ate lots of delicious meals this week, though we went slightly over budget ($105) for the week. Somehow we ended up with three dinner parties, and the wine/beer portion always breaks the budget. In addition to the crab dinner, which was served with a pork tenderloin that friends brought over, we had vegetable coconut curry one night, spinach salad with home made focaccia bread the next. I also made fried chicken with mashed potatoes, ch