Something's cooking in Apartment 205.

Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

On our to-cook list: Smitten Kitchen

In by Katherine, The Internets on October 16 at 6:14 pm

It’s embarrassing how little I cook these days; I’m lucky if I can whip up a batch of pasta and have time to add a few bay leaves to the Trader Joe’s sauce.  Who knew that doing all the reading for all my classes this semester would take up so much time?

It certainly doesn’t help that Deb of Smitten Kitchen has been on a hot streak lately, posting a series of hearty fall dishes for my eyes to feast on while my tummy rumbles.  As a result, I’ve built up quite a backlog of recipes to try:

Apple and Cheddar scones

Mushroom lasagna

This one’s raving review had my mouth watering.

Roasted eggplant soup

Perfect blueberry muffins

Beef chili + sour cream and cheddar biscuits

Damn her gorgeous photography and appeal to comfort food!  I will have to leave the books to go grocery shopping soon.

(Click on the photos for links to each of  her posts.)

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Learn to Pair Beer with Food (and other links)

In by Katherine, Teetotalers No More, The Internets on October 16 at 5:21 pm

Apologies for the gap between posts.  We’ve been going through a dry spell (in both the literary and alcoholic sense) due to midterms.  Yet we’ve had a few bright spots here and there: A Sierra Nevada hefeweizen, consumed with sunny side up eggs on toast and hash browns after a late night finance problem set, comes to mind.

But for the most part, we were quaffing more caffeinated tea than anything else, wistfully dreaming of the end of midterms and the beginning of a regular circadian rhythm.

Here are a few related links that (in surreptitiously minimized windows) kept us entertained during long study nights:

Learn to Pair Beer with Food — Lifehacker

Beer Brownies — Tastespotting via The Kitchy Kitchen

The San Francisco Bar Experiment: One Woman’s Mission to Drink at Every Bar in San Francisco (complete with reviews!)

There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand

In by Katherine, The Internets on September 27 at 8:10 pm

Ingenious.  I have been doing this incorrectly for years.  via Ahmed.

Meanwhile, when I was in preschool, this is how my dad used to prepare bananas for my morning bowl of Life cereal, if I woke up on time and was really really good:

How to Slice a Banana Before it is Peeled (Wikihow)

Arrested Development Top Banana

And finally, you know you want to watch this again — hurry, because Hulu is scheduled to take it down at the end of the week.

Genius Pizza Box

In by Katherine, The Internets, Uncategorized on September 26 at 9:49 pm

Where has this been all my life?

See the video in full size here. Via Reddit.

September Wine Tastings

In by Katherine, Teetotalers No More on September 26 at 9:26 pm

Our first month of Monday night wine tastings is over and Apt. 205 is ready to share our findings*.  If you didn’t read our first wine post, the tl;dr of it is that we are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed wine novices who are determined to learn as much as we can about wines on a modest student budget.

Students that we are, we developed a rating system based on an A through F scale; any grade of D or F (not passing) means that we would not purchase the bottle again.

The runaway winner this month was a 2008 Riesling by Dr. Loosen (Germany) that retails for $10.99.  Trader Joe’s describes it as “low in alcohol content.  Fruity and crisp.  Pair with spicy foods.”  We paired it with lime and chile mixed nuts and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese. The bleu d’Auvergne was a HUGE winner — creamy and bold with the slightest spicy aftertaste that complimented the Riesling perfectly.  Rooting around in our pantries, we found that the cheese paired best with a wheaty vegetable cracker, but the it was so good that from water crackers to Ok-Mok Ak-Mak, we couldn’t go wrong.  The Riesling itself was light, not too dry, and the perfect price-quality ratio to bring to a dinner party with college friends.  Amy and I bought 3 more bottles between us to keep on hand for company.  We rate Dr. L’s Riesling a B+/A-.

205 also enjoyed this 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander & Fitch (Sonoma), which retails for something like $6.99.  I was shocked to discover while writing this post that Alexander & Fitch is a label owned by the same man behind the Charles Shaw label (better known as 2-buck chuck) and, I am a little ashamed to say, Franzia boxed wines.  In our defense, let me say that (1) we are as yet far from being experts, (2) the Alexander & Fitch label is intended to be a a step up from its brothers, and (3) even you have to admit that 2-buck chuck is pretty good for the price.  Trader Joe’s called our bottle “a big red with full, round aromas of coffee, black plum, and leather, followed by good tannins and hints of chocolate.”  We paired it with dark chocolate covered ginger and dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds (which it appears Deanne enjoyed greatly this week in our absence).  It is worth noting that Amy thinks this bottle was too mellow, and prefers her reds bolder and warmer.  We rate it a B-/B.

Pretend this label says sauvignon blanc, okay?

Close behind was a 2009 Sauvignon blanc from Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve, grown from organic grapes, which retails for $4.99.  I had my doubts after hearing that organic wines are generally considered not as good as their counterparts, but will have to withhold judgement until we gain more experience.  Trader Joe’s described the bottle as “deliciously complex [with] ripe melon [and] lemon zest flavors.”  This was my weakest pairing of the month — double cream brie, which was tasty but did not particularly add anything to the wine, and chile spiced pineapple, which Amy compared unfavorably to the salted plums of her Asian upbringing.  Nonetheless, the general consensus was that the Sauvignon blanc was reasonably enjoyable — though I thought it merely inoffensive — and it garnered an overall C+/B- score.

Our least favorite wine of the month was this 2008 Syrah Rose from Josefina, which retails for $4.99.  Trader Joe’s called it “a great wine for BBQs, grilled veggies, and salads!” but we found it astonishingly dry, a little bitter, and with an aftertaste reminiscent of rubbing alcohol, which I presume is the mark of a not-very-good wine.  The Trader Joe’s French-style flatbread with mushrooms, Emmental, and Parmesan cheese, however, was delicious, even with the rose, which to me indicates that it would really shine next to a proper dry wine.  We rated the Josefina a D/D+, meaning we would not buy it again.

*I guess we got a little carried away, because we didn’t take any photos and skipped straight to the toasting each week!  We will try to be more conscientious in the future.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the Internet and ignore the vintages on the labels.

We’re looking forward to trying the next round of wines for October; in the meantime, if you have experience with wine, we would welcome any suggestions for budget-friendly (under $20) bottles to try in the comments.  We are humbly building our experience and palates, one Monday at a time!

Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook

In by Katherine, The Internets on September 18 at 6:44 pm

The latest pair of posts from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook demonstrate, in a nutshell, why I love this blog  so much.

Hank Shaw is, as the name of his blog would suggest, a man of many talents.  When describing him to Jim and Dennis, I called him “the Bear Grylls of the culinary world”.  From fishing for leopard sharks in San Francisco Bay to making venison sausages to sipping cider brewed from manzanita berries he picked himself, he is a badass in every sense of the word.

“My name is Hank Shaw. I write. I fish. I dig earth, raise plants, live for food and kill wild animals. I drink bourbon, Barolo or Budweiser with equal relish and wish I owned a farm. But most of all I think daily about new ways to cook and eat anything that walks, flies, swims, crawls, skitters, jumps – or grows. I am the omnivore who has solved his dilemma. This is my story.”

Hank Shaw

Mr. Shaw is one of the only food enthusiasts I know that can legitimately say he is involved with all stages of the food that comes to his table, from start to finish.  Yet his posts are incredibly down to earth, and he’s never preachy or pretentious:

And the photographs of his culinary experiences, shot by his partner Holly A. Heyser, are g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.  What a perfect pair.  Here are a few from his two most recent posts, one on his recent dove hunts and the next on dishes that feature dove.

Subscribe to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook on your RSS reader or follow Mr. Shaw on Twitter.

Jamba Juice BOGO Coupon

In by Katherine, The Internets on September 18 at 12:06 pm

Offer valid September 13-22, 2010.  Thanks for the tip, Ajay!

Nutella Snack & Drink

In by Katherine, The Internets on September 2 at 6:04 pm

Saw this on Reddit yesterday and my mind was blown.  Apparently they have them in Italy and New York City.  Color me jealous.

P.S.  Amy maintains that this is just an Italian ripoff of Yan Yan.  To which I say, hey Yan Yan, where’s my pearl milk tea?

A Rose Water by Any Other Name…

In by Katherine, The Internets on September 2 at 5:28 pm

When I saw the New York Times’ article “Rose Water Adds a Subtle Kick,” I was dubious.  Rose water?  Wouldn’t it make all of my food taste overpoweringly perfumy, or like an old person’s house?  Where would I even buy such a thing?  But hey, it’s the Dining & Wine section of the New York Times.  They know a thing or two.  So I kept reading.  And then I saw this:

"Poundcake and peach compote, both infused with rose water."

And read this:

“Taking a cue from 18th-century bakers, substitute rose water for the vanilla in cupcakes, puddings or scones. Or add a teaspoon or so to your next batch of French toast batter. Put a drop or two in a glass of lemonade for a remarkably refreshing summer drink — or make a rose martini in the same manner.”

John Willoughby, “Rose Water Adds a Subtle Kick”

Rosewater cupcakes at a springtime picnic, decorated with pink icing and little delicate sugared flowers?  All right, Mr. Willoughby, sign me up.

Based on the article, my best bet for finding rose water in Berkeley is probably an ethnic grocery store like Milan International or Indus (which, as a bonus, has very reasonably priced lamb, which rose water apparently flatters as well.)  For convenience, I’ll be checking at Berkeley Bowl’s fairly impressive international foods aisle first, and post back with what I find (or don’t find).

Not convinced yet?  Read the New York Times’ original article, and you might find yourself a convert too.

Happy Birthday to Us

In by Katherine, Teetotalers No More on August 31 at 11:19 am

The writers behind Foodie Friday turned 21 this August, so you’ll be seeing  reviews of wines (and beers) on our blog this school year, in addition to the culinary experiments and restaurant recommendations  you’re used to.

We begin our foray into oenology with a humble budget and a grand aspiration:  learn the grapes, learn how to pair with them, learn what we like, and, in short, elevate ourselves from noobs to pros.

We have a few resources to help us along the way:

Deb Harkness, Blogger, Good Wine Under $20

Named “Best Wine Blog 2010” by none other than Saveur, Good Wine Under $20 has so far been an invaluable compass in navigating the choppy and sometimes treacherous waters of budget wines.  We love the pairing suggestions Deb gives, as well as the fact that she rates every wine by QPR (quality-price ratio), rather than some snooty 100-point system.

John Cleese, Actor-Writer-Producer-Wine Aficionado, Wine for the Confused

This excellent 45-minute film, introduced to us by Ahmed and available on Hulu, is John Cleese’s lovingly crafted primer on wine for novices.  Like most of Cleese’s projects, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet it’s chock-full of useful terminology and will leave the viewer feeling much more confident about exploring wine for themselves.

Sideways, 2004

Credit also goes to Ahmed for this one. Sideways is much more than an award-winning comedy with several critically-acclaimed performances to its name — it’s also a great  supplement for basic wine knowledge.  Listen carefully between the lines of banter, and you’ll pick up bits of information — for instance, why pinot noirs, despite their name, are sometimes white wines.  Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, the release of Sideways was accompanied by a drop in sales of merlot in the United States.

Up next: A review of Josefina’s 2008 Syrah Rose.  Cheers!  And while Foodie Friday isn’t writing off merlots any time soon, we’ll certainly try our first with a dose of skepticism that would make Miles proud.