I ventured with some friends last week to a terrific new bar in South Bethlehem called The Bookstore Speakeasy. It turns out it’s run by the same people who brought the Tap and Table Gastropub and their enormous Belgian beer list to Emmaus. I won’t spoil the fun, but I can tell you that stepping inside is like stepping back in time. They serve signature vintage cocktails, but one of the real treats in the small plates list and the cheese plates. The Crispy Pork Belly was sinful and melts in your mouth and the S.O.S. (local dried beef, maitake mushrooms on sourdough) is an upscale take on the classic chipped beef on toast. But by far my favorite treat of the night was the Red Hawk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. I did a little research and Cowgirl turns out to be a pretty nifty company with a cool name to boot. Based in California, Cowgirl makes artisan organic cheeses. I’m sorry I missed their retail store in The Ferry Plaza in San Fran, but it turns out they have another little outpost in (semi) nearby Washington D.C. on F Street NW. Until I make the drive, I’ll just have to keep returning to The Bookstore for the Red Hawk – and a Champagne Cocktail of course.
I have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. As a huge proponent of buying local, I prefer the independent coffee shops. But they do a few things that make it hard to hate them altogether – they use Fairtrade coffee, they support the community, and they let me spend hours on end doing my homework even if I only bought a single cup of coffee. Besides, who doesn’t love a pumpkin spice latte? Today I came across some images of the newly redesigned Starbucks in London. It has a warmer, more natural feel to it. And, they’ve returned to their “heritage” logo.
If Julie and Julia gave me a hunger to get back to the kitchen, Food, Inc. gave me a stern reminder of what exactly I should be cooking in that kitchen. The movie exposes some of the undesirable truths of how and why we eat what we do. For the most part, our entire food system is controlled by a few corporate entities which are more concerned with their financial well-being than the well-being of the American consumer’s health. In many cases, these corporate giants have the backing of the FDA and the USDA.
If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re in luck. It’s surprisingly playing at a number of larger movie chains (Regal Saucon Valley) and also at Allentown’s 19th Street Theater (which I highly recommend). At times, the movie is tough to stomach, but stick with it. And if you can’t catch the film, try reading some of the intriguing related books by Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan. If there was one thing I walked away with, it’s that supporting the local farmer is by far and away one of the best things you can do for you and your family. Oh, and never, ever support Monsanto.
I had the pleasure of seeing Julie and Julia over the weekend. Julia Childs is such a refreshing change from today’s celebrity chefs who spend more time pitching pots and pans and building a brand than they spend in the kitchen. I admire her zest for life, her loving and supportive marriage, and her ability to find something she simply enjoys doing. I’ve decided that despite a sweltering kitchen I will make it a point to return to my own tiny kitchen to cook, to bake, and to cultivate my own love of food. I spend far too much time and money in restaurants than I do in my own kitchen. I couldn’t wait to see the movie, but my friends and I are planning an outing to view it again. This time we will each create one of Julia’s dishes to enjoy as a pre-movie treat.
I’m also eager to return to Washington, DC to visit Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian. Imagine, a kitchen that values function over aesthetics – all with a 60s mod decor. Love it!
It doesn’t take much for me to find an excuse to get into New York City. Just a hop, skip and bus ride away, New York is a great way to get a good dose of city when the Lehigh Valley starts to feel, well, small.
As a former resident of one of the five boroughs that is not Manhattan, I’m well aware of all the outer boroughs have to offer. One such gem is the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
I came across The Edible Garden in one of my magazines and am eager to get up to the NYBG before it wraps up on September 13. I’m most intrigued by Martha Stewart’s Culinary Herb Garden and the culinary festivals. Perhaps Martha can tell me why my thyme has shriveled up and died…
In an attempt to try and find great artwork on the cheap I’ve relied on Domino (RIP) and a few other blogs to find unique pieces. Here are two of my favorites that have made their way into my living room. Both came in under $30!
The first, taps my inner anglophile. It’s a great piece of WWII propoganda that, let’s face it, is always a good little reminder. The second, from Ork Posters, reminds me of my favorite haunts in Beantown. They have lots of great cities to choose from, including Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago and Brooklyn.
I like organic produce. My budget does not. But we worked out a compromise. Those great folks at the Environmental Working Group came up with a list of produce with the highest pesticide residues. Using the list you can determine when to buy organic produce and when you can save a few dollars by purchasing conventionally grown produce. And, if you have an iPhone, they even have a great new app to use when you’re shopping. (http://www.foodnews.org/)
Here’s the low-down on the down and dirty:
12 Most Contaminated (buy organic)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)
12 Least Contaminated (buy conventionally grown)
- Sweet Corn (Frozen)
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
Having lived in teeny city apartments without a single patch of green, I’m excited to have a little yard to call my own. This summer I’m hoping to cultivate an herb and vegetable garden. I’m starting with lemon verbena, English thyme, rosemary, spearmint, cilantro, tomatoes, and of course some cat grass for my feisty feline. Have a recipe to recommend? I also stumbled upon these begonias – did someone say cocktails?