Sunday was unbearable hot & humid here in NYC. It was a perfect day to spend at a craft fair(not). It was held in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is a very funky, cutting edge part of town. One had to take pity on the crafters from all over the US, as they sat in the steamy sun with very little protecting them from the elements. They didn't let the heat get them down. Most were very upbeat, & why not? They were all so talented, displaying lots of interesting & innovative goods. I was secretly hoping that some of the booths would be by fellow crafty bloggers. How cool would that have been? Alas, I didn't know anyone there, but still appreciated all of the creative energy that was flowing. I do hope that they do it again next year, but maybe move it to the fall for a higher turn out. Summer weekends are pretty deserted in the city. People take off for Fire Island or The Hamptons. And they were also competing with the Gay Pride parade. I felt for them!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Can also be placed on a grill. In a lrg bowl combine vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, oregano, salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Add mushrooms & coat both sides. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate. In small bowl combine cheese, mayo & remaining pepper. Mix until creamy & smooth. Place mushrooms on ungreased baking sheet. Cook each side for 7 minutes. Spread the top of each roll with cheese mixture. Add arugula & onion to bottom half & place mushroom on top.
I promise that I will not bore you with all the wedding details, but this I must share. I found a dress!! Michele Roth's sample sale was today. It was a bit hectic with lots of grabbing & a bit of shoving. Girls stepping on dresses & trains. No one was shy. Women stripped naked right in the middle of the showroom. I tried on about 5 dresses & while 2 were ok, neither were "the one". I was just about to leave when something caught my eye. I took it into the dressing room, put it on & a very nice girl zipped me up & pulled the dress from behind, so I could see what it will look like once it's altered. I actually got giddy over the sight of me in the gown. I wish I could describe it in detail to you all, but Tom reads this site daily & I want him to be surprised. I will tell you that it's sleek, sexy & truly resembles a winter wonderland dress. Something about the beading sparkles like snowflakes. And what a bargain! The dress retailed for $3500 & it was purchased today by me for $600. That's still a bit more than I wanted to spend, but wait till you see it! The beading, buttons & material & lining are so worth it.
By George I think I got it!! The almond biscotti that is. They were made again & finally, the recipe worked. Auntie Maria told me to bake, slice, wrap tightly & place in refrigerator overnight. The next morning they were crunchy (not too hard, not too soft) & great for breakfast. I think I'm going to test out Momma's eggplant Parmesan next. Oh, how I wish I had some growing in a garden. Homegrown eggplant, tomatoes & cucumbers - does it get any better than that?
In other news, today I took a class called How to Get Your Cookbook Published. Food author/historian Andrew J. Smith was the teacher. It was very informative & it confirmed one thing for me - self publishing is the way to go. I don't want to deal with the rejection that goes along with trying to get a publisher & I don't want to wait 2 years before the book goes into print. I do feel newly inspired & shall be cooking & writing up a storm.
Wedding update: The date has been set; March 11th. Hopefully it will be a winter wonderland & not a blizzard. We made a budget(scary) & will have to be pretty creative, crafty & thrifty to pull off this elegant affair. I'll be going to a designer bridal gown sample sale on Tuesday. I have no idea what to expect. I heard these thing can get a bit vicious. There are some advantages to have a wedding in the winter in New England. I can wear a fabulous white, furry, cape & boots over my gown! The boots have already been taken care of. $19 on eBay. I'd like to make the cape & my mom has been raving about one she saw on TV. It was on an episode of Will & Grace called Marry Me a Little. Debra Messings' character wore it to her wedding. I searched the internet & have not been able to find a picture of it. Does anyone remember it? Any suggestions on how to find a pic?
Is it hot out or what? The last few days have been unbearably sticky & icky here in the city. Tuesday was 90 degrees, but with the humidity it was 105. The subways were suffocating. I decided to stay in my air conditioned apartment & bake. I tested out Auntie Maria's almond biscotti recipe. It wasn't my first attempt. I made them over a year ago for Tom's family as Xmas gifts. They came out great that first time, but needed to be tested again for the cookbook. The first batch was too soft & lacked that crunch that biscotti needs, so I let them cool a bit before slicing. Then I placed them back in the oven to toast. They did more than just "toast", they became as hard as rocks. I wish I could tell you what that batch tasted like, but, I was too afraid to break my teeth on them. Instead, I tossed those hockey pucks & started anew. The second try was a bit better, but my dough didn't rise, it spread. I called Auntie M and she said the heat may have something to do with it. Yea! Let's blame it on the damn heat!! "Check the expiration date on your baking powder." she said. AHHH! It had expired, so that's why it didn't rise. Anyway, my extra long almond biscotti sure did taste good. They were not as soft as the first batch, & only needed a bit more crunch to be great. So I'll try them again next Monday. And just so you know, I'm not getting discouraged. There's light at the end of the cookbook tunnel. I can see it!!
I hope everyone had a good weekend. We went to a BBQ on Saturday! I know that for many of you this is a regular occurrence (lucky dogs). You can step out into your yard & fire up the grill at any time, but, for us it's a big event. We headed to Jersey City, which is a town on the rise. I was pleasantly surprised by the cute little cafes & funky shops. The streets are tree lined with rows of beautifully restored brownstones. Is it me or does everything taste better grilled in the warm months? Portabella mushrooms, asparagus & eggplant - YUM. Shrimp on the bar-bie. Ribs drenched in a bourbon sauce - to die for! Our host Bryant said he grills almost every weekend so we can drop by anytime. Yes, we'll take him up on his offer. On the way back to the train I had a little mishap. My sandal broke. I wasn't walking around in cheap little flip flops, either. They were brown, wooden, wedge-heeled Steve Maddens. The straps were leather & suede & they totally snapped apart. Could not be salvaged. I tried to hobble along with one shoe but, Tom took pity on me. He took off his Tevas & strapped them on my tootsies & journeyed barefoot. He said his calloused feet could withstand the elements. "If there's a sliver of glass to be found", he said, "your foot will find it." This is true. I must admit that I got quite a kick out of him walking around the subways in Jersey, Manhattan & Queens without shoes. And did we get some strange looks from people. First they stared at Tom's footsies in disbelief & then looked over at me with shoes so big they resembled flippers. To walk I had to lift my knees high, flick my toes forward & slap my foot down. HA! What a sight!
Our RI weekend wasn't just about food. We visited locations for our wedding ceremony & reception with my mom, her man & my nephew(so cute). The old governor's mansion (Sprague) will be the site of the nuptials. Tom requested that we not marry in a church or anything that resembles one. He was not raised Catholic & though I was, I'm not practicing anymore. It would seem as if this request could easily be granted, but I put in hours of research. RI is full of Irish, Italian & Portuguese Catholics, so churches are everywhere. We are getting hitched in March, so that rules out all beaches & parks since it could be blizzard weather. Here's the funny thing about the Sprague mansion (other than the fact that locals say it's haunted), it's two blocks away from my grandparents house. Growing up, I must have driven by it at least a thousand times. We loved the space where the ceremony will take place. It's long & somewhat narrow with a marble fireplace on the short wall. Large windows are on one end of the room & the other features beveled glass French doors & a baby grand piano. Visible from the doors is the dining room which features the original crystal chandelier. There's lots of mahogany & deep reds in the room. There's also a dramatic staircase for me to walk down, but I'm not sure if I will because upstairs is where the ghost supposedly lives. I'll do some investigating to see if the spirit is friendly.
The reception/party will be at a local hotel(also good if there's a blizzard). The room is an atrium & most of it is enclosed in glass. We'll be able to see the stars! It has lots of fancy spotlights, as well as equipment to add more specialty lighting. This is very important to Tom. He wants to hire a lighting designer & work personally with him. It may sound a bit weird, but this is his thing. He truly wants the space to have a certain feel to it right when the guests enter.
So, at least the locations have been chosen. We have two dates on hold - March 11th & 25th. We want the latter, but there's a luncheon booked until 4pm & that doesn't give Tom & the AV man enough time to set up the fabulous light show (I'm not kidding). The hotel is trying to talk the luncheon into ending earlier for us so we should have a date soon. I'll be asking you all for creative/crafty ideas since we are on a very strict budget. Can we pull off an elegant, funky shindig for 75 people for under $12,000(the national average is $28,000)? We shall see.
I had to include this picture of my nephew cause it's too cute! He was wiped out by the end of our weekend.
You all read about my bitching about the restaurant biz, but, there are some good things that come from it. Tonight was one example. One of the owners of my place is opening a new space in Times Square. It's right near the theater that features Spamelot. Tom & I were invited to a mock service. Basically, we got to eat & drink whatever we wanted for free. All that's asked of us in return is to fill out a detailed questionnaire about our experience. The restaurant is called Bolzano. Yup, Italian. We started with a warm mushroom salad & yellowtail with a fennel pesto. Both were good, but needed some slight improvements. Entrees, however, rocked! We had cavatelli with short ribs & a shrimp scampi. On the side we got meatballs (great, but mine are better) & escarole & white beans. Dessert was a molten chocolate cake accompanied by frangelico whip cream & hazelnut ice cream. It was to die for! Specialty drinks included pomergranite martinis, white peach cosmos & to finish it off - espresso martinis(love it!). I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the city. It was so good & they're not even opened yet, so with a little time, they will only improve. O.K. starting tomorrow, I'm officially on another diet.
My weekend trip to RI involved food. Lots of it. Saturday we had lunch at an Italian deli/cafe. I had grilled balsamic chicken with broccoli rabe - known in RI as robbies. Everyone else had sandwiches made with fresh tomato, basil, mozzarella & prosciutto. Later that night we celebrated my brother's BDay at a Japanese, Chinese & Thai restaurant. My family & I shared dumplings, spicy calamari, fried oysters, sushi, lemongrass shrimp, a pu pu platter & various rice & noodles. WHOO was I full!
Sunday we headed to the quaint, sea town of Wickford. My crafting friends would love it here. The shops include everything from hand-blown glass, galleries featuring local painters & photographers, handmade stationery & jewelry & lots of antiques. We went to a small, family, outdoor cafe & had a RI staple - clamcakes & New England clam chowder(milk & cream based). Clamcakes are basically dough balls that are loaded with the local clam variety - Quahogs. They are deep fried till the outside is extra crispy, but the center stays soft & flaky. Sunday late afternoon, there was my cousin's 2nd BDay party & we had BBQ, pizza, spinach pies, sausage & peppers. Tom & I probably gained 5 pounds in two days. If I lived with my family in RI I'd be huge!!!!
There was lots of eating but, not any cooking. I was suppose to have a recipe day with Momma, but she just wasn't up to it. She was a little under the weather & man was she grouchy! We were going to make escarole & beans soup & stuffed artichokes. I do have her recipe for the artichokes, but you all know that it does not mean a thing. It could be 100% incorrect. I'm going to give it a whirl anyway & go back in for a visit in July. O.k. I'm off to exercise & work some of the weekend food off of my hips!
Or maybe a king. I returned home from a work dirty double to a wonderful surprise. The apartment was all aglow from candlelight & sweet smells of incense. Happy medieval festival music was playing. Tom, looking very charming sat me down, placed a crown upon my head & asked me to marry him. It was so theatrical, silly & beautiful all at once. I said yes! We toasted with my fav champagne (Perrier Jouet) in silver goblets that belonged to my grandparents. They sound like ringing bells when clanged together. He slipped a pretty ring upon my finger, though it's not the real one. It will follow soon & I'm told that I'll get another proposal at that time. Two proposals from my adorable man? What more can a girl ask for? I would love to share all of the pictures, but some things just have to be kept private, so here's a little peek.