Six to Start

1. Crazy about this new bamboo tea strainer from Lisa. It’s so elegant and carefully crafted. Designed with aesthetics and not necessarily function in mind ;)

2. Can never resist the Earl Grey gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. It’s not often they have this flavor in stock, so when they do, a scoop (or pint!) is a must.

3. Oro Bakery and Bar. Forgot about this Broome St spot, but we went for sandwiches last weekend, and now I remember why I liked it here so much in the first place.

4. Sign me up for Coconut Eggnog at Donatella, yes please. There bourbon, rum, and coconut cream in this frothy elixir. Makes me all cozy inside, I love holiday drinks.

5. DavidsTea opened on Bleecker Street last week. This chain of tea shops come from Canada and it’s one of the few places in NYC that stock milk oolong.

6. Steeping Earl Grey tea leaves into hot apple cider. Simple to assemble and a decidedly addictive combination. Will be drinking this all winter.

Tuesday Giveaway!

[Update: The lucky winner is K! Thanks for playing, hope to be doing another giveaway next week :)]

I’m excited to announce a giveaway from the girls at Aperio Natural today!

They recently sent over beauty products to try – think sugar scrubs, hand creams, and shower gels. Scents like Green Tea, Peony, and a fragrant Cherry Blossom. Aperio is based in Saratoga, California and create completely natural products…no parabens, mineral oil, animal ingredients or alcohol. They’re popular in Asia – where they’ve been featured in Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, and are expanding in the US. I’ve worked my way (tough job, eh? ;) though all the products, and Green Tea Sugar Body Scrub is easily my favorite of the collection. The tea scent is clear, relaxing and there’s olive oil blended directly into the sugar so that it’s silky in all the right ways. Slather on your skin, massage gently, and wash off. Ahhh, just one more reason to pamper yourself.

Leave a comment below noting which scent you like best: Green Tea, Peony, or Cherry Blossom. Enter by 12/1. Winner will be chosen at random and will receive a line of products (the one you pick!) from Aperio Natural. Good luck ^_^


Time for lunch.

There must be a million types of baby lettuce at the Union Square Greenmarket. Curly, straight, flat. Wild things. Earthy green, soft shades and darker colors. $10/pound. Don’t settle on one type, mix and match five types. Just enough for lunch.

Two stalls down on Union Square West, you’ll find PE & DD Seafood with fresh scallops. $17.95/pound. Eight pieces come out to just over a third of a pound. I take them home and pat the scallops dry. The three smallest scallops, I eat raw. Slice against the grain, two slices to a scallop. Squeeze a cut of lemon, then sprinkle on a bit salt. Eat standing up in the kitchen, best bites of the day.

The five larger ones I quickly sear. Melt butter, high heat, cook just 30 seconds on one side, maybe even less. 20 seconds? Plate with the lettuce. One crank of the pepper mill, a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Slice and devour. Only the outside is cooked, inside the scallops are rare and cool to the touch. Hope to be cooking lunches like this more often.


Remember when I got my hair cut like this? That was back in the winter of 2008. I went from all plain long hair to short bob and blunt bangs. It was so much fun but far from low maintenance and impossible to take care of. All flat when you don’t blow dry, and all puffy with wild frizz in summer heat. Hilarious. And then maintenance! Get it trimmed every three weeks or…

…risk bangs that dare to literally clip away at your vision!

After that cut, I grew both hair and bangs out. It got longer and longer. At my shoulders, past my shoulders. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror last week and realized that it was now elbow length. Time for a cut! I go to Sei-Tomoko on W4th St (Pierre goes to Sei-Tomoko on 13th St, but I like the W4th one better). I wanted a crazy cut, something adventurous like that bob. Let’s do it! Shampoo and condition is included in the cut ($50), plus hot tea and shoulder massage. Heaven. The hairdresser took out scissors and just as she was about to make that first snip, I chickened out:

“Maybe just a trim instead?”

We compromised. She knocked off a good three inches. And now I feel a little less like a shaggy dog. The only problem is that it’s too short to put in a proper bun! Ponytails and hair down for now. Perhaps we’ll bob it back the next time around ;)

Magret de Canard

Pierre was ready to attack this plate this minute it reached the table, so no pretty plating for today. A bit messy, but one of the best lunch dishes I’ve made in a while. I’ve been craving duck in all forms recently – legs, foie gras, gizzards, breast. Anything duck! These cravings get particularly expensive so I figured I better learn how to cook a few dishes myself. First up, Magret de Canard. We rarely cook anything fancy at home…so if I can do it, you sure can. Three components to this dish:

1. Sautéed Pears
2. Haricot Verts
2. Magret de Canard

1. For the Sautéed Pears, peel and core a bosc pear. Cut into 8 pieces. Melt a pat of butter over medium heat and cook the pears for five minutes, until golden brown on both sides. I like to add a bit of sugar while cooking to caramelize it just a bit.

2. Trim the Haricot Verts. Blanch in boiling water 3 minutes. Drain and shock in cold water. Sauté with olive oil and salt for a few minutes. Add a handful of slivered almonds. Continue cooking until the almonds turn light brown, remove from heat.

3. I bought the Magret de Canard from our neighborhood Citarella on 9th Street and 6th Avenue. It’s $12.99/pound, and each breast piece is approximately a pound, give or take a few ounces. The duck comes from Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Duck Products – top notch products. They also sell all their products online, very convenient.

Using a sharp knife, make a tight crosshatch pattern going across the entire skin/fat side of the duck breast. Salt and pepper both sides.

Place skin side down, medium-high heat, and start cooking off all that fat. A ton of fat will start to pool at the bottom of the pan. Keep a bowl on the side so you can drain or spoon off the fat every few minutes. Continue cooking like this for about 10 minutes until the bulk of the fat has rendered off, and the remaining fat is crisp, golden.

Note: some people save this duck fat for cooking, but I dump it out. The fat has essentially ‘burned’ off and won’t be nearly as good as “clean” duck fat. Hudson Valley Foie Gras also carried duck fat by the 2-pound bucket for $12.50.

Then turn over and cook meat side down for a minute – it should be rare at the center. Remove to a cutting board. Pierre usually comes to the kitchen after around this time and takes care of the slicing. And I use that bonus time (always helpful!) to finish the haricot verts and plate it with the sautéed pears.

30-minutes, start to finish. Perfect timing, and a pretty balanced meal ;) Bon appétit!