Healthy and Hip X-Country Trip: Day 5 – Jackson

We are half way through our trip. Just about the time when it’s getting old telling everyone the trip story, when the nails are chipping, the cooler is warming, the lotions are spilling, and the dirty laundry bag is filling.
We were hoping Jackson would be the dark horse in our trip. We were originally going to go through Little Rock, but when I realized there was no way to avoid me hitting New Orleans, we decided to break up the drive to Memphis was a stop in Jackson. It was pretty sleepy, but we did stay at a quaint little hotel, Old Capitol Inn, and we did see a charity walk in the morning. Moving on.
We’re done with my left hand of the trip. Now we are outbound!
Liza and Jordan at Parlor

The Healthy and Hip X-Country Trip: Day 1 – Phoenix, AZ

I could get down with Arizona. They all do 80 here. Even on side streets.
Also, the first successful Zucker family trip was in this very city. What’s my measure of success? No one cried! I don’t even think any if us fought. Me, Betti and Jim went to the Phoenician in Scottsdale over thanks g my senior year in college. If only spa, hikes, food, and golf could do the trick still….
I met up with a friend from Penn who grew up here and he took me to a Coyotes game and taught me how to drive stick in the parking lot after. (Literally, keep it clean people!)
Thanks Phoenix for the good memories 5 years and counting. *
* 17 years, but who’s counting?
Anyway, Hula and I made it to the hotel in a little over five hours with one gas/pit stop.
The Palomar was lovely, right across the street from Chase Field and US Airways Stadium, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, respectively. One of my favorite bits in their “welcome greeting” was being informed that the room keys use radio waves, so putting it next to a credit card or cellphone will do nothing to deactivate it. Now what excuse will I have for needing to sleep in someone else’s room?!?!
We made it to our only “post-drive” Pure Barre right on time, which is great because we couldn’t have made it a minute sooner!
Great start to the trip!
1 down. 9 to go!

Hula, Jordan, and Jasmine at Pure Barre Phoenix

Virtu. Menu. Ice Queen. Burratta. Octopus. Scallops.  Corvina Blend. Mascarpone Gelato. Hulita.

Virtu. Menu. Ice Queen. Burratta. Octopus. Scallops. Corvina Blend. Mascarpone Gelato. Hulita.

Voicemail Station at Bar Boulud Post NYC Ballet

On Wednesday, Betti, Jim, and I went to the ballet at Lincoln Center. Thankfully Carolina Herrera’s seemingly 9 year old granddaughter was with her two rows in front of us, thus preventing me from being the youngest in attendance. It was a great evening at NYC Ballet with four pieces: Plainspoken, Valse-Fantaisie, Square Dance, and Glass Pieces. I enjoyed the whole thing but Benjamin Millepied‘s Plainspoken, and Jerome Robbins’s Glass Pieces were fantastic.
After, we scurried across the street to grab a late-ish bite at Bar Boulud. We were seated at the communal horseshoe table in the back and loved everything we ordered.
My mom and I shared the following:
salade de calamars – poached calamari, pine nuts, radish, baby romaine, gaeta olives, buttermilk dressing
tagine dagneau – terrine of slow cooked spiced leg of lamb, eggplant, and sweet potato
lotte aux choux rouge – montauk monkfish, smoked bacon, lambic braised red cabbage, turnips
spanish makerel – chick pea friters, tomato coulis, eggplant puree

My mother always gets the La Poire cocktail: grey goose pear, pom, lime
My dad got the Figue Old Fashioned: knob creek bourbon, ruby port, fig puree, angostura
I got whatever was tequila based. Turned out to be a good choice.
As I was sucking down my kumquat/basil/tequila/light on the agave concoction, my dad takes a break from “checking his messages” and says that we HAVE to hear this voicemail he got. So I listened to it. A winner! Here’s the transcription:

Hey Aamer, It’s Christy, um.
Listen, I just talked to Jenny and found out what happened…that you’re not at KTR blah blah blah [some radio station] anymore and I’m sorry, but that’s just a bunch of bullshit!
I can’t even believe it, I’m beside myself because, how short sighted and incredibly stupid of them.
Um, I loved the new format, I mean it was different but it was such a breath of fresh air. And, you know, you brought a levity and a fun quality to it. And I thought that it was great. Again, you knew I hated the afternoon show and I so much more enjoyed it listening to you and I didn’t hear you for a couple of days and I thought “Oh, he must have been out of town” and then finally today I’m like, “what the fuck” so.
Anyway, I just wanted to call and if you’d like to call back I’m around. So call me, otherwise I’ll see you soon but I’m SO disappointed. They’re such a great station and they’re just so horribly run and just, I’m really sorry.
Um, so call me if you need anything and I will, I’ll hopefully see you soon.
OK, bye.

After the three of us took turns listening and howling with laughter, I turned to my dad and said, “Dad, you need to tell her that she had the wrong number and that msg never got to him.”
“Yeah, Jim, you have to,” agreed Mom.
“Do you want me to send a text for you?” I offered.
“OK, here’s the phone,” he acquiesced.
So I went to text the number from the voicemail, and the iphone, as we know, brings up the string of text history, and low and behold, up came a text from her from Jan 31st!!!
I squealed, “DAD?!?! She’s tried to contact you before! Did you not get this text a few weeks ago?!?”
My mother and I were cracking up.
“Oh, yeah, I got it but didn’t understand it so I just ignored it.”
It’s all squared away now:

P.S. Who thinks Christy wanted a piece of Aamer?

Super Bowl Meal – Packers vs. Steelers

O.K. The big day is near!
I’m packing up and heading to Dallas for a relaxing getaway to visit my Texas cousins. And maybe for some sports thing… And snow angels.
Here’s what’s on the menu for the SU PA BO!!!!!

B.J. Rahi Tuna Sliders with Wasabi Chris Creamoeatu
The “Big Guy” Dish!

Chris Kemoeatu - G PIT

B.J. Raji - NT GB

Hot Chicken Greg Jennwings Balls with Cool Mike Cabrallace Blue Cheese Dressing
The “Go Long” Dish!

Mike Wallace - WR PIT

Greg Jennings - WR GB

Figgy Hood Bruschetta
Well now I know what school yard nicknames my future son has to look forward to. All good. Ziggy Zucker is going to be a bad-ass.

Ziggy Hood - DE PIT

RaChardonnay Mendenhall Poached Peaaron Rodgers
I know, I know, my east coast friends are screaming and twitching. See, back in New York we give vowels distinct pronunciations. Aaron nor Erin rhyme with Pear-in where I come from. But I’m doing it! The Pearon Rogers is on the menu! Raise your hand in the “air” if you “care” what rhymes with “pear.”

Aaron Rodgers - QB GB

Rashard Mendenhall - RB PIT

LaMarrgarita Woodley
I’m making it as woody as possible.

LaMarr Woodley - OLB PIT

B.J. Rahi Tuna Sliders with Wasabi Chris Creamoeatu

Serves 4-6
Tuna Balls
1 lb ahi tuna, ground or finely chopped
¼ t lemon zest
¼ t lime zest
¼ t blood orange zest
1 T lemon juice
1 T lime juice
1 T blood orange juice
¼ c scallions, finely chopped
1 T ginger, finely chopped
1 T black sesame seeds
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 t chili sesame oil
1 t chili paste
1 T panko breadcrumbs
olive oil

Combine the tuna, citrus juices and zests, scallions, ginger, sesame seeds and oil, chili paste and oil, panko, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, using your hands or a fork.

Heat some olive oil in a pan on medium high. Scoop out a small handful of the tuna mixture and form it into a mini burger patty shape. Cook the patties in the oil for a minute on each side. Flip to cook the other side.

After another minute, transfer the patties to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. They should just be cooked through.

Wasabi Cream
½ c mayonnaise
½ c plain yogurt, greek style
1 T wasabi paste
½ lime, juiced
1 t garlic, chopped
1 avocado

In a blender, combine the mayonnaise and the yogurt until smooth. Add the wasabi, lime juice, salt, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add the meat of the avocado, cut into small chunks. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender in between pulses to incorporate everything.

Now I’m still working to lose those damn 10 pounds from last year. (Who knew the 10 in 2010 was going to be so prophetic?) So I’m still limiting my carbs. You can go ahead and shmear some of the wasabi cream onto a mini dinner roll and sandwich a tuna burger in there to make a slider, but I’m just going to dip and eat. I don’t miss the bun, really. (though I clearly missed my weekly manicure…)

Hot Chicken Greg Jennwings Balls with Cool Mike Cabrallace Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4-6
I admit it. I’m not a huge chicken person. Telling me something “tastes like chicken” is not a hard sell. Sure, I’ll eat it, and there are certain places where I’ll always order it (e.g. Quatorze Bis on 79th and 1st), it’s just not my favorite. Largely because I’m not that into… wait for it… the bones. So while I love the taste of chicken wings and quite enjoy getting all messy in a bar, I wanted to find a way to do this sans bones. Behold the Chicken Wings Balls!

Chicken Balls
1 lb of chicken, ground
¼ c hot wing sauce (if you can’t find some, mix together equal parts (2 T) hot sauce and (2 T) melted butter)
1 T garlic, minced
1 T flour
3 scallions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Combine the chicken, hot sauce, garlic, flour, scallions, salt and pepper in a bowl. Form the mixture into little meatballs, coat with olive oil, and place on a foil-lined tray. Bake the chicken balls until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Blue Cheese Dressing
1 c Cabrales blue cheese, chopped finely (thank you Bobby Flay for introducing it to me!)
½ c plain yogurt, greek style
1 T lemon juice
1 T chives, chopped

Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend, blend, blend until smooth. Transfer to a dipping bowl.

Figgy Hood Bruschetta

Serves 8-10
1 baguette, sliced into ½” pieces
1 ½ c fresh ricotta cheese
2 T honey
¼ lb prosciutto
1 c figs
1 c water
1 c sugar
½ c brandy
¼ c mint, chopped
2 T c chives, chopped
1 T heavy cream
1 lemon zested
olive oil

In a small pot over medium high heat, combine the water, sugar, and brandy. When it starts to boil, reduce the head to low and add the figs. Simmer the figs for at least 30 min. Transfer the figs and enough liquid to cover them to a sealed container and refrigerate. Let stew overnight.
Combine the ricotta, cream, zest, honey, mint, and chives in a bowl and mix until well blended.
Brush the bread slices with olive oil and grill them until slightly browned.

Spread some of the ricotta mixture onto each slice. Then fold a piece of prosciutto on top. Slice the figs in half lengthwise and place some of them on next. Finish off with a light SWOOPS.*
*SWOOPS = Season With Olive Oil, Pepper, and Salt

RaChardonnay Mendenhall Poached Peaaron Rodgers

Serves: 3

1 btl (750) Chardonnay white wine
1 c water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 t peppercorns
1 T cloves
2 star anise
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 orange, juiced
1 orange, peel
3 pears, peeled

Pour the white wine and water into a pot on high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cloves, star anise, sugar, vanilla, vinegar, and orange. Stir. Once it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the pears. Simmer the pears in the poaching liquid for at least an hour, turning occasionally to make sure all sides of the pear gets bath time. Once the pears have started to soften, transfer them to a bowl and pour the liquid through a strainer to cover them. Cool, and serve.

LaMarrgarita Woodley

2 oz. tequila
1 oz. woody water*
1 lime, juiced
1 oz. pear (or orange) liquor
shake of salt
* To make the woody water, boil 1 c water, ½ c sugar, 4 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs oregano, and 4 sage leaves in a pot. Simmer for 2-4 min. Strain and cool.

Throw all contents into a shaker with some ice. Shake it up. Pour into a glass and down.


Annual Goals Dinner with Matthew at Eveleigh

As you know, I have a tradition with my lifelong friend where we go to a nice dinner each year and do goals. We open a sealed envelope from last year’s dinner and mark off what goals we’ve achieved. Then we write new ones for the current year and seal them up for next year’s dinner.
This was our 13th year of maintaining the tradition.
We went to Eveleigh on Sunset in West Hollywood. It’s indisputably a gorgeous space. The lighting is super dim, (I moved a candle a bit to check out what our dishes looked like before diving in.), and the seating is a little annoying as the booths are slightly unsecured so you can feel the guy five tables down shift his leg since it’s technically the same piece of padded wood you’re sitting on. But the cocktails were killer, the decor is beautiful, and the food was not bad.
Here’s what we had (I would have ordered more fish, but Matt was in an anti-seafood mood and mama likes to share):
Cocktails –
Chanel No 5 mezcal, jalapeno, lemon, pom – Dear LORD this is mama’s kind of cocktail. Smoky, spicy, a little tangy. Perfection.
The other mezcal cocktail was OK, but not after this one.
The Good Prick – bourbon based, loved the pine in there – really interesting.

Crispy Season Squid with a lemon mayo – Not bad, small portion.
Rainbow Chard – Good, but I could make it too.
Rib-Eye Cap with beets, chantrelles, and pinot noir sauce – the fresh horseradish was the key to this dish.

Orecchiette with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and chilies – could barely detect the tomatoes and found no trace of chilies but it was OK.

Mac and Cheese – I liked it; could have used a few less bread crumb cubes but other than that, well done.

Donuts – if you’re into dessert you’ll be happy.

We always talk to the table next to us as they’re usually intrigued by all of our envelopes, rituals, etc. (This is kind of a load of shit, I always talk to my neighbors even without the goals excuse…) This time, right before we ripped open our envelopes, neighbor Pamela asked if we were in relationships. Matt obviously said “yes.” They looked at me. “Nope, I’m single… Well that’s ONE I won’t be checking off again this year! Starting off strong. Thanks, Pamela!”
I actually fared better than I had thought, I got 9 out of 20. Sometimes I give myself freebies like “Scan goals into computer in case of flood.” Crap, I better do that now. Don’t want to miss the freebie next year…

Red Medicine – No Codeine Required

My girlfriend Haryn and I decided to go out for an impromptu dinner out.
Sometimes we like to wait for new openings to get a chance to “grow their legs” before checking them out.
We didn’t feel like granting this place the leeway. They didn’t really need it, despite the scalding yelp reviews I discovered after the fact.
After almost needing a nap because clearly there was some indica that snuck in to my “try to be strictly sativa” nug jar, and Haryn needing me to get the jaws of life out because her necklace got caught on the seatbelt and she was stuck behind the wheel in the drivers seat for a good five minutes before I figured out to stop standing on the sidewalk and just go rescue her, we made it to the Wilshire hot spot.
Forget about the fact that not one thing at the Vietnamese inspired place couldn’t be made with out cilantro, not one thing was less than awesome.
Here are my favorite dishes in order:
Chicken Dumplings – self assembly with a lettuce wrap.
Brussles Sprouts – fried with shrimp rice crisps and purple basil.
Crab Spring Roll – with chervil and yuzu.
Scallops – tiny little guys wading in a bath of light almost Bernaise-esque sauce with a quince/apricot like “sea-buckthorn” paste.
Amberjack – my least exciting dish but it was light and not overly pickled.
The Cocktails – #18 was the one to go for but we’re glad we tried #38 just to know it’s tartness beneath coconut frothiness exists.
The Desserts were even better and I’m not a dessert girl (literally, we almost got an egg dish and a sweet potato dish instead, but the waiter made us get these two desserts…)
The lime was rad.
But the coconut made me cry. That take a minute, eyes closed, head posed, sit in silence type of moments.
I don’t normally dream of desserts and I’d go back for this shit.
Red Medicine: NOT the Robitussin (i.e. Blech!) kind!

Week 15 Wrap Up and Monday Night Matchup Menus: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

It’s a Brett Chevre running theme:

Brett Favre - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters

Matt Forte - RB CHI

Johnny Knox - WR CHI

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese and Tomato Salad

Visanthe Schiancoe - TE MIN

and a Guavaris Jaiquirison for the cocktail

Tavaris Jackson - QB MIN

Johnny Lox and Goat Cheese Stuffed Matt ForTaters

4 oz. smoked salmon, finely chopped (Yes, technically this is not lox, it’s nova; lox is cured and nova is cold-smoked, but I like it better.)
4 oz. soft goat cheese
3 T dill, finely chopped
2 T tarragon, finely chopped
2 T chives, finely chopped
3 T scallions, finely chopped
1 T lemon zest (1 small lemon)
2 T lemon juice (1 small lemon)
12 small potatoes (new or creamers work well)
1 c black sesame seeds
olive oil

Boil the potatoes until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Slice them in half and scoop out the middle using a melon baller or a paring knife, making them into tiny little bowls. Discard the center (or save for mashed potatoes!). Dip the shells into some olive oil and place skin side down on a foil lined tray. Broil the hollowed potatoes until brown and crisping, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and drain on paper towel lined platter.
In a bowl, combine the smoked salmon, chevre, dill, tarragon, chives, scallions, lemon juice and zest until well incorporated. Scoop a little of the salmon mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the black sesame seeds on a plate. Roll the salmon filling ball in the sesame seeds until nicely covered. Pop the sesame coated salmon ball into a potato shell. Repeat with the rest. Aren’t they cute?!?!

Visanthe Panko Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

2 oz. chevre log
2 Roma tomatoes, slow roasted
1 Persian cucumber
½ avocado
2 T pea sprouts
1 head frisee
1 T dressing of choice
1 c panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with parley, salt and pepper
1 egg
½ c flour
olive oil

Using unflavored dental floss, cut the goat cheese log into discs ½” thick. Place flour in a bowl. Beat egg with a t of water in another bowl. Place seasoned panko in a third bowl. (You can toast the panko in the oven at 425 for five minutes beforehand to bring out the flavor.) Dip each goat cheese disc into the flour bowl and fully cover. Then dredge it in the egg and then the panko to fully coat. Place coated cheese on a wax paper lined tray. Repeat until all of the goat cheese is coated in the breadcrumbs. Place the wax tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to make the salad, heat some oil in a pan on high heat. Cook the frozen cheese in the oil until browning. Flip and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Throw some washed frisee in a bowl. Coat with dressing of choice. Add a few halved roasted tomatoes, sliced and salted cucumber, avocado, and pea shoots. Place the panko coated goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

Guavaris Jaiquirison

2 oz light rum
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz guava, muddled

Muddle guava in shaker. Add rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Pour over ice.

Week 15 Wrap Up

And then there was one. Smack and Cheese made it to the GG2FF Su Pa Bo! (Thank you Vick, Nicks, Marshall, and Jets D!)
Fat Sweaters got knocked out by Eat Prey Destroy. (Like I’d have started Garrard over Brady…)