Link of the Week: Chantal: LiveStrong

Good Morning All!  I am excited to present to you this week’s featured link, Chantal: LiveStrong.  This is a line of signature yellow products benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  The line of serveware includes everything from travel mugs to tea pots and five to ten percent of all proceeds go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

My favorite items from this line are the LiveStrong Extra Large Plate, which is perfect for use as a platter at parties, and the LiveStrong Snack Plates, which coordinate perfectly along side the LiveStrong Extra Large Plate so that your guests may put their tasty nibbles on something other than a cocktail napkin.

Here are some images from the website:

Can’t you just imagine how strikingly lovely deviled eggs would look on this platter and these plates?

If you’d like your serveware to make a statement while also benefiting a very important cause, check out Chantal: LiveStrong today!

Link of the Week: Taylor Maid Farms

Good Morning All!  Before you read this post, grab a cup of coffee or tea and make yourself comfortable.  I suggest some coffee or tea from this week’s Link of the Week, Taylor Maid Farms, a purveyor of organic coffee and tea, located in Sonoma County.  I first learned of Taylor Maid Farms while my husband and I were  honeymooning in Sonoma a couple of years ago.  The inn we stayed at served Taylor Maid Farms coffee with breakfast and we thought it was some of the best coffee we had ever tasted.  It was so lovely to sit on the inn’s terrace in the cool morning mist and sip our hot coffee and let it warm us from the inside out.  We loved this coffee so much I even surprised my husband with a huge bag of their Sonoma Roast blend for our 1 year anniversary.

Besides roasting some of the best organic coffee I have ever tasted, I appreciate the fact that most of Taylor Maid Farms’ coffees are shade-grown and fair-trade certified.  Additionally, Taylor Maid Farms is dedicated to supporting small family farms.

If you are a tea drinker, I recommend their Herbal Gardens blend.  This is the tea I drink when I’m soaking my feet in my foot spa.  Too much information, perhaps, but I wanted to convey the relaxed feeling this tea gives me.  It is so floral and aromatic, it is perfect for your own personal “spa day”.  It’s like aromatherapy in a teacup!

If you are looking to improve your coffee or tea experience, I highly recommend you give Taylor Maid Farms a try.  I simply love them!

Local vs. Organic

I have a question… Which is the best way to buy: Local or Organic?

There are many ways to debate this question and tons of research to support each side, I’m sure. Buying local products reduces the amount of fossil fuel burned in transporting the products to us, thereby reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (which have their own snowball effect of global disaster) into the atmosphere. Buying organic products reduces the amount of chemical pesticides and fertilizers (which can cause a variety of medical problems) we ingest.

If we had to choose one or the other, which would be the best option? Obviously, I would like to always be able to choose local and organic. I am, after all, a girl who wants to have her cake and eat it too (as long as it’s local and organic). Unfortunately, this is not always possible. One source of comfort for me is that buying a product that is either local or organic has to be better than buying a product that is neither.

So I ask you, Dear Reader, to offer your advice on this matter. Please leave me your comments and if you have friends who might be able to impart some wisdom on this subject, please send them over. I appreciate any and all opinions.

Thank you!

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien NY

My husband and I had a very light brunch today which left us craving something “bad” at 3:00PM.  We thought about going to Gray’s Papaya for a couple of hot dogs until I thought, why don’t we give Burger Joint a try?  We have tried to get in this place twice before but the line has always been out the door so we’ve never stuck around.  I thought, given the odd time of day, we’d be able to get in and get a seat.  I was right; we got in, placed our order and found a seat just before our order was ready for pick-up.  We each ordered a cheeseburger with our choice of toppings, shared an order of fries and we each had a chocolate milkshake.  Hey, I said we were craving something bad!

The burgers were good.  They are grilled, which I very much appreciate.  The cheese is a nice combination of melty cheddar and monterey jack.  The buns are toasted (a nice touch), the red onions are thinly sliced and they put the perfect amount of mustard, ketchup and mayo.  My only complaint about the burgers is that they were served well-done although we had ordered them medium.  Also, they are somewhat on the small side.  The fries were similar to McDonald’s except not as good.  The milkshake was quite nearly perfect.  The thickness was great and the chocolate flavor was great considering they use vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.

The place only accepts cash so bring plenty of it.  We managed to rack up a $32 tab with just 2 burgers, 2 shakes and an order of fries.  My advice would be not to go when you are extremely hungry as you will most likely have a wait and the smell of grilled burgers might drive you crazy.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Lederhosen

As you may recall, this past weekend was Foreign Food Night and it was my turn to choose which cuisine we would enjoy – – I chose German. Based on a recommendation from a friend of mine, we went to Lederhosen in the Village. The restaurant is located in the middle of a quiet block on Grove Street. We could have easily missed the place except for a small chalk board on the sidewalk. We were led to our table by a very nice, very smiley woman. Our table was in the back of the restaurant in a windowless room that had been painted to look as though we were sitting in the middle of a sunny bier garten (beer garden) in Germany. As such, we started our evening with a round of biers (beers). I ordered one my favorite beers, a hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer. My husband ordered a Hofbrau, a beer that reminds him of the time he went to Oktoberfest when he was studying abroad.

We shared a couple of appetizers, German potato salad and potato pancakes (our server’s recommendation). The potato salad had good flavor with lots of chopped pickle, mustard and dill. It was served cold although I am used to warm German salad. The potato pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream, were also good if a bit greasy.

My husband’s entree was a wurst platter with 3 wursts of his choice (bratwurst, bauerwurst, and a weinerwurst) and included an assortment of vegetable salads, red and white sauerkrauts and German fried potatoes. He liked his meal although he said it was nothing particularly special. My entree was a wiener schnitzel, a breaded and pan-fried veal cutlet. It was served with the same side dishes as my husband’s entree. The schnitzel was okay. I can’t say for sure if it was me, as I am not much of a meat eater, or the schnitzel, but I was underwhelmed by this dish. It seemed to lack any seasoning and was therefore very bland.

The service was very friendly and efficient.

While we weren’t blown away by the food, I would return to this restaurant. It is a great place for groups as they have picnic tables that fit 8 adults comfortably. It seems like a fun place to drink and have a nice time with your friends.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Red Sangria

The heat is officially on here in New York City (Saturday and Sunday will be in the 90’s!), which means it’s a great time to make sangria.  I enjoy both the red and the white, but today I’m feeling a bit more traditional so I am going to make red sangria. 

I once made a batch of this sangria and gave a Mason jar of it to my favorite deli guy, Mr. Frank.  He drank it right on the spot, at work, and then proceeded to give everybody kisses and tell them that he loved them.   So, maybe this stuff is a love potion too…    

Red Sangria

2 750ml bottles Spanish red wine
3/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup simple syrup*
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup triple sec
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
2 oranges, thinly sliced into rounds

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stir, cover and refrigerate for 2 days.  Serve over ice.

*Simple Syrup is equal parts granulated sugar and water.  To make it, add boiling water to sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Cool before use.

 Salud!

Sunday Brunch

My husband and I had our friends Ana and Drew over for Sunday Brunch today. We kicked off the occasion with a round of Bellinis (the peach nectar and Prosecco cocktail made famous at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy) and a toast to friendship. Today’s menu consisted of Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Pecorino Romano, Sausage Links and a Mixed Greens Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. My husband, the barista that he is, made the coffee and helped me with plating and attending to our guests. We all had a great time and the food and beverages were delicious!

Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Pecorino Romano

Email me for the recipe!

Bellini

Dovetail NYC

My husband took me to Dovetail this week to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This was a highly anticipated meal as this restaurant has received very good reviews in numerous publications as well as in foodie chat rooms. Here is my review:

First Impressions: The space has lovely design features and atmosphere. However, the first thing you smell upon stepping in the door is fish. Also distracting, the air temperature was much too warm. This leads us to the WINE…

Due to the very warm temperature of the restaurant, my husband and I decided to go with a cool white wine for this evening’s meal. We chose a 2005 white Burgundy as it would be the most versatile white to complement both of our yet-to-be-determined meals. The wine was perfectly refreshing: fruity/floral aroma, crisp acidity, nice fruit, not oaky at all, subdued alcohol, medium body. The wait staff kept the bottle on ice for us and refilled appropriately.

The Amuse Bouche(s) for the evening were a vodka gelee garnished with fried capers and salmon roe served in a sterling silver spoon and a patty pan squash quarter garnished with grated turnip (I think that’s what the guy said), pesto and paprika served on a bamboo stick. My husband and I agreed, we liked the squash better than the gelee.

The evening’s bread selection was a delightfully salty corn bread.

First Courses: I had the Maine sea scallops with banana-curry sauce garnished with cashews and crispy fried okra. The scallops were humongous and perfectly cooked and the sauce was deliciously flavorful yet delicate and complimented the scallops nicely. My husband had the lamb’s tongue served with muffalatta presse, olives and capers. He said it was the highlight of his meal and my bite of the tongue was melt-in-your-mouth-tender and very rich.

Main Courses: I had the poached lobster served with dilled potatoes and garlicky greens. It was really good with fresh herb flavors and buttery, perfectly cooked lobster. The only issue I had was that some of the perfectly cut dices of potato were not fully cooked. My husband had the roasted sirloin and beef cheek lasagna garnished with wild mushrooms and red and white pearl onions. He loved the beef cheek lasagna but said that the roasted sirloin was nothing special.

Desserts: I had the cheese plate. Honestly, I do not remember what cheeses they were (there were 3) but they were very good. They were served with 2 types of bread and a handful of accompaniments. My husband had the peanut butter tart served with beer ice cream and pretzels.

Service: The service was very good and everybody was friendly. There was never a lag in clearing our plates and little wait between courses. The captain was very good with the up-sell; asking if we’d like to start the evening with a glass of Champagne or if I’d like a glass of dessert wine to go with my cheese plate.

With our check, we each received a macadamia nut truffle and a to-go sample of peanut butter granola which tastes awesome in yogurt.

We left Dovetail quite pleased with our evening. We may or may not return. It’s difficult to return to the same restaurant when there are so many others to try. But, I would highly recommend Dovetail to a friend.

My Rating (out of a possible 5):

Welcome!

Welcome to my brand new blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Tracy Chin and I currently work in the wine industry in NYC. As a formally trained chef, I also freelance as a Personal Chef, Food Stylist and Recipe Developer. Food and wine are my passion and I am very lucky to be able to make a living doing both. Please feel free to visit me at my website: www.tracychin.com

You may be wondering the meaning of my blog’s name: Pinot & Pineapple.  While I enjoy all wines, Pinot Noir is my favorite red varietal and the pineapple is a symbol of southern hospitality.  I fancy myself a southern belle at heart as my beloved family is from Georgia and I have always enjoyed playing the part of hostess and making my guests feel welcome.

If you have a culinary question, please feel free to email me at info@tracychin.com

If you are in NYC and would like to hire me to help you in a culinary capacity, by all means email me at tracy@tracychin.com

Now, let the good times roll!