Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Girl on the Other Coast: October 27, 2012


Time for the next installment of the blog project with my friend, G! This time, a little fill-in-the-blank, G's choice. The last part of her Number Four answer? Could have come right out of *my* mouth!

Curious what my answers were? (Humor me. Pretend you're curious.) Take a virtual voyage to Little Italy and find out!
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1.  One thing I plan on doing to relax this weekend is  ... catch up on some reading and tv watching. I'm getting better at the "relax" part and shortening my to-do list so my body can actually get a break.

2.  A big pet peeve of mine is  ... hearing people chew gum. It honestly sends me over the edge. I should not be able to hear your spit moving around your mouth. And God help you if you actually start popping bubbles incessantly  Do you know what I mean? I believe they call it "cracking" your gum. I call it the sound of the devil. And once you hear it? Ya, you can't stop.

3.  I am really loving ... the honey crisp apples at Trader Joes. Best. Apples. Ever. (I'm eating one as I type this!)

4. The rain is  ... will be on it's way soon. I don't mind it...I just don't like it at school. There is virtually no drainage system and it makes for a miserable day for the kids. Which makes for a miserable day for me. Actually, it unexpectedly rained a couple of weeks ago. And then it began to hail. You would've thought it was the Apocalypse if you had seen their reactions! My commentary? "Good Lord! Have you never experienced weather before?"

5. My favorite girly indulgence is  ... pedicures. I like cute little toes. Currently? Fuchsia with white zebra stripes. ;)

6. A song I always get stuck in my head is  ... Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here's my number, So call me, maybe? I don't know any of the other words. It's true. But that line of the song is now stuck in  your head too, isn't it??

7.  The best cure for stress is ... making lists. Writing things down calms me. Crossing them off makes me feel productive and less anxious. If all else fails...wine always does the trick!

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(edit to add mine)

1. One thing I plan on doing to relax this weekend is  ... see where my husband grew up, while we visit Pennsylvania.

2. A big pet peeve of mine is  ... people who think they are above the law when they get behind the wheel of their car. Use your turn signals. Turn into your own lane. Stop when the light is red. Get off my butt when I am going the "allowed" five miles over the speed limit.

3. I am really loving ... Food and Wine Fest at EPCOT.

4. The rain is  ... winding down for us now in Florida. I am ready for things to dry out some. Well, relatively speaking.

5. My favorite girly indulgence is  ... fresh highlights. Every other hair appointment.

6. A song I always get stuck in my head is  ... the tune they play in my local cable provider's tv commercial. I hear that music one time and I will whistle it, like they do in the commercial, for days.

7. The best cure for stress is ... (on a weeknight) a handful of peanut butter M&Ms and some quality time with a couple of favorite television shows or (on the weekends) a spontaneous trip to Disney World, where it is impossible for me to be anything but happy.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Food and Wine Fest 2012: Round Three

Round Three was a bit more comfortable on the weather front, but with better weather come throngs of locals. I was glad to have my list pre-planned so I could hit my targets and get back out again. It was challenging to find a good place to sit and eat and get some photos. I hit the ground running and went straight to...

IRELAND

Lobster and Seafood Fisherman's Pie.

For as long as I have been attending Food and Wine Fest, Ireland's menu has not changed. Of course, when you have food that tastes this good, I guess the fallout and riots from changing might outweigh the benefits of offering new dishes? The Fisherman's Pie is delicious. Creamy mashed potatoes over veggies and seafood swimming in lobster bisque. It's satisfying but not heavy. And since I was starving when I arrived, it was fortuitous that this is where I was slated to start the day.


The edge taken off my hunger, I made my way to...

FRANCE

Creme Brulee au Chocolat au Lait (chocolate milk creme brulee topped with caramelized sugar).

Creme brulee is creme brulee, for the most part, other than whatever flavor it happens to be. In this case, the chocolate is subtle and the texture was a bit lighter than the typical custard-y gelatinousness (yep, it's now a word). There's nothing quite like tapping the glass-like layer of caramelized sugar to get into the cremy goodness below. I've had this very creme brulee in the past, for other Food and Wine Fests, but I skipped it last year, so I was ready to revisit this old friend.


Since I was already "eating out of order" (a meal-type dish, followed by a dessert, on my first two stops of the day), I kept with the trend in...

JAPAN

Sukiyaki Beef Pan (marinated thinly sliced rib eye with sauteed onions and teriyaki sauce served in a bun).

A new dish for the Fest, I had been looking forward to this one. The beef had a nice flavor from the onions and teriyaki, and the bun was nice and fresh. However, I kind of ruined this one for myself. The sauce and juices from the meat make for a soggy bun when you spend five minutes searching for a spot to sit and another five minutes taking photos, looking for the right one. I ended up eating the parts of the bun you can see in the photo and the meat with a fork.


I tossed the soggy mess remaining and set out for...

FLORIDA LOCAL

White Corn Arepa with Pork Rillette and Sweet Corn Salad. Florida Orange Groves Key Limen.

Since this booth is a newcomer to Food and Wine Fest, all its offerings were new as well! I had tried the ceviche here in Round One, which had me mildly concerned going into this one. I didn't need to be worried though! The arepa was a crispy-on-the-outside, light-on-the-inside corn cake with shredded pork filling. I took a tentative nibble...and then you would have had to move quickly to snag a bite! I loved the way the flavors and textures paired. And the sweet corn salad? Excellent! This whole dish tasted just like summer. But even after all that... It was the wine that blew my mind! I had *no* idea what to expect. There was a heavy crowd at the Florida Local booth, so I didn't have the opportunity to read the big sign explaining more about the local wine selections (at least not without being inconsiderate and in the way). One sip made me do a double take. I've never tasted anything like it. It was like key lime pie in a glass! Slightly-sweet-but-more-tart lime was the clear flavor. And I have been thinking about ever since!


Just next door waited my next tasty treat at...

HOPS and BARLEY

Linda Bean's Maine Home Style Clam Chowder.

First of all, whatever this "Manhattan clam chowder" nonsense is I hear of? I won't even acknowledge it. New England clam chowder is the one and only way to go. This one was nice, if a little more salty than T makes ours, and the potatoes were perfect creamy perfection. Did I mention the potatoes were perfect? Because the melted right there in your mouth. The one thing this chowdah was lacking, at least in my little bowl, was a reasonable amount of clams. It is, after all, starring right there in the name of the dish. There should be more than the two little pieces you see there on my spoon.


I was starting to get full but I powered on. Next up...

GERMANY

Schinken Nudel (pasta gratin with ham and cheese). JH Selbach Riesling Classic.

I was excited to try another new dish. Sadly, this one was kind of a bust. It tasted all right, like macaroni and cheese with bits of ham, but the consistency was all wrong for me. The noodles were exactly as my beloved Gram would have made (one of the few dishes she served that I didn't care for was macaroni and cheese, for this same reason): overcooked and mooshy. I don't like nearly-crunchy pasta, but I do like it to have a little firmness to it when I take a bite. This had none. I washed down about two-thirds of it with my wine, a surprisingly dry(ish) (for a Riesling) Riesling. It was crisp and almost had a little "bite" to it. Citrus-y perhaps? It was nice, just not the sweetness I was expecting to roll over my tongue.


Due to my partially uneaten last course from Germany, I had a little bit of room left and I wanted something sweet from...

AUSTRALIA

Lamington.

I really enjoyed this last year and this was just the way to end this round. A nice moist yellow cake with a rich fudgy chocolate frosting and a generous coating of shredded coconut. Delicious! Coconut is, in my experience, a love it or hate it food. I happen to fall into the former camp. You really can't taste the coconut with all that chocolate frosting, but it creates a little textural interest to each bite.


Ending this round with a known "thumbs up" dessert was the way to go. Especially since it will be two weeks til I get back for the next spin around the world.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Want Wednesday: October 17, 2012

**I Want this Round Double Wall Hurricane. I think it's the sort of decorative item that can be used over and over, with contents for the current season or holiday. It can sit on a shelf in the entertainment center or become a centerpiece. So versatile and rather inexpensive. Right up my alley!


**Nichole loaned me her bottle of OPI Jewelry Top Coat in Traffic Stopper Copper to use for my wedding manicure. I. fell. in. love. I Want a bottle for myself. I wear coppery tones well, in general, and I have a great idea for Halloween...


**I Want to try See's Pumpkin Pie Truffles!


**After a couple of trips to Food and Wine Fest under my belt (ahem, quite literally), I have decided that I am not crazy about the color of this year's t-shirt. I Want to get the coaster set (good, high quality coasters in a design that can be used year round) and this year's poster, which I would like to frame and hang in the dining room.

**Now that we will have a dining room table--finally!--I am thinking about making it pretty. I Want this Market Stripe Dhurrie Table Runner. I think it would pretty for the whole autumn season, with those warm colors.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Food and Wine Fest 2012: Round Two

Round Two was another warm, clear day. I woke up my appetite and  turned my car toward Disney World for more tasty treats. I have to admit, I'm a bit of a planner when it comes to Food and Wine Fest. There are so many things to try, only a certain number of weeks to get there, and just a limited amount of room in my stomach, so to get them all in requires a plan.

Once again, I started with one of last year's favorites, this time in...

MEXICO

Taco de Camaron (crispy shrimp taco with chipotle-lime mayo and cabbage on a flour tortilla).

This was the perfect way to begin: a dish I know I will love and nice, bright flavors to get my taste buds warmed up. There is just the perfect amount of contract between the crispy shrimp, the soft tortilla and the crunchy shredded cabbage. The flavors are amazing together, none overpowering the others, despite the fact that none of them are shy about making their presence known. Plus, this dish is crazy photogenic! How do you go wrong? (Hint: You don't.)


And then it was onward, for another favorite, this one several years over...

SOUTH KOREA

Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw.

I remember the first time I tried this, I wasn't too sure how "kimchi slaw" would be, but this remains a dish I look forward to enjoying now. The pork is moist and flavorful. The kimchi slaw is not "too much." The biggest trouble with this is how messy it is to eat. That does not deter me. I just know to grab several napkins and head to my favorite spot, tucked out of the way. (What? You didn't think I would explicitly tell you where it is, did you? I don't know who might happen upon this post and suddenly my guaranteed open spot will become common knowledge and I will need to seek a new one.)


I was getting into my groove now. Time for something the same...yet different!

CHEESE

Trio of Artisan Cheeses. Sterling Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Every year, there is a trio of cheeses at the cheese booth. However, each year brings a new trio! See? The same, yet different! Unfortunately, I found this trio underwhelming. (from left to right) Beecher's Flagship Reserve Cheddar was my favorite. It was drizzled in honey and the sweet and sharp was a good contrast of flavors. But it's a cheddar. Rogue River Creamery Echo Mountain Blue Cheese was interesting. I don't know if it's a trait of this cheese or just the lovely Florida humidity, but every blue cheese I am familiar with crumbles and this one was almost...soft and spreadable on the little crispy whole grain cracker-toast thing with dried cranberry. It was a strong blue, not bad, but a little strong for my palette. La Bonne Vie Goat Brie. Perhaps the most boring brie I have ever had. It was certainly the most forgettable. Merely a vehicle for the cherry relish. As for the wine, at first, I was tricked into thinking it had some flavor to it...until I realized it tasted exactly like whatever sweet flavor I had most recently tasted. In reality, it was a simple, dry white that played nicely with the various flavors I was eating.


Time for something of substance. Time for...

ITALY

Ravioli di Formaggio all'Emiliana (baked cheese ravioli with creamy beef bolognese sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella).

This had more substance, no question about it. In the Florida heat, it was almost too heavy. There were layers of ravioli and cheese with a tasty meat sauce. My only complaint was they went skimpy on the sauce. I know many prefer it that way, but I tend to opt for more sauce on my pasta, and this was just enough to qualify as a teaser.


It was time to do some walking. I was full and there wasn't room for much more. But there is *always * room for...

DESSERTS and CHAMPAGNE

Dessert Trio. Moet & Chanson Rose Imperial.

The champagne was champagne: dry and bubbly. Just the way it should be. Let's just get something straight: there was no way this Libra could pick just one of these desserts to go with it. They are sold in a trio, probably for people just like me. I was intrigued by all three selections. I anticipated liking the chocolate one best, but the only way to know is to grab a spoon and dig in!

Lemon Custard Verrine with Blueberry Compote.
Wow. Sweet and tart and spicy. It explodes in your mouth (not literally). The lemon custard is creamy, which plays off the firm but juicy berries and the crunchy cinnamon crumble topping.

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange Cake, Raspberries and Pomegranate.
I'll be honest, I didn't expect to like this one. I am picky about orange in my sweets. However, the orange was a mild taste, especially when tempered by the creaminess of the panna cotta, and really, it was the raspberry puree and the crunchy (not really, but I can never figure out how to describe it) pomegranate that took center stage.

Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel.
I've had all kinds of mousse. This one was a little more dense than airy, closer to the consistency of...Cool Whip maybe? It was rich and slightly bittersweet. Nice but nothing extraordinary. It was the salted caramel that stole the show and the chili that baffled the senses by leaving the tongue warm after eating an otherwise cool dessert.


By the time I had finished my bubbles and desserts, I had drawn the conclusion that, while they were all very yummy, the Lemon Custard was my favorite. I wouldn't be shocked if the trio found its way into my final-round-for-favorites this year though. It may have all been too good to have just once.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Girl on the Other Coast: October 13, 2012

About a month ago, my friend, G, and I kicked off a new blog series in which we planned to trade off coming up with a blog prompt we'd both do and then each post what the other had composed, linking to our own corresponding post on the other's blog. It was a ton of fun and we meant to do this every other Saturday. But then I went and got married, which made me super busy, so we postponed and postponed, but we're back again!

It was my turn to suggest a prompt for our collaborative blog project. I was looking for some inspiration and, while wandering the internet, I happened upon the blog by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History where they had just done post about an activity called "Who are you? In 5 objects." I immediately wanted to do one for myself and realized it would be a lot of fun to use this as my suggestion for our "Girl on the Other Coast" series!

Are you ready for G in 5 objects?
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So here we go!
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Why?
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I sang for 8 years. As I got better, I auditioned and successfully made it into progressively harder choir groups. I've done small groups, duets, solos. I've sung at school, in church, and on stage. I've been led by choir teachers and famous directors. I've sung with full orchestras, small instrumental groups, piano, and a cappella (which is my very favorite). Now I sing in the shower. When I began teaching I didn't have time to devote to singing. (Prior to a performance we would rehearse 9+ hours a week.) I truly miss it and would love to get into it again. 

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I {used to} scrapbook. This is another favorite hobby that has fallen by the wayside since I started teaching. I vow to get back into this because I used to really enjoy it. There's something about putting pictures on pretty paper and recording your thoughts that is therapeutic and gratifying. And really? How cute are the supplies?! (Thank you Amy Tangerine!)

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Although there are good days and bad days, I couldn't imagine myself doing anything other than teaching. Even if I won the lottery and didn't have to have a job I would still teach. It's a part of me and I take great pride in my profession. I work incredibly hard to be the very best I can be for my students. I teach biology, but it's so much more than that. I listen to them when they are upset. I am their confidant. I support them. I attend their games. I help plan their events. I laugh with them and I cry with them. And then I lead them into their graduation ceremony and applaud their achievements and all that their future has to hold. I want to be the one they remember. The one who helped them on their journey...and taught them some science along the way.

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He helps make me who I am. I don't know where I'd be without his love and support. When our friends introduced us they knew that we would help each other grow. He builds me up and makes me want to be a better person. And I do the same for him. (And he would tell you if he could!)

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Well...I'm Italian! And this is my favorite pasta. Cliche? Possibly. But it's true.
I absolutely love my heritage. Being Italian is who I am. And Italy is my home. It's in my heart, always. The country is gorgeous, the people are passionate, and the food is amazing. I only wish my family didn't live so far away.

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Curious what my objects were? (Humor me. Pretend you're curious.) Take a virtual voyage to Little Italy and find out!
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(edit to add mine)


Dawn in five objects, huh? This took some consideration. I know who I am in nouns and adjectives, but I don't think I've ever tried to define myself in objects. Which five objects can encapsulate who I am?

1. My engagement and wedding rings. (Ok, so, I suppose that's two objects, but I wear them together and they symbolize the same thing, so we're counting them as one.) Two weeks ago, I made promises to an amazing man. Those rings are visual reminders of those promises, of our love and commitment, of emotional safety and the source of great joy. They remind me of the road I took to get to this place, and like both the promises made and the man I made them to, they are precious to me. They define me as a wife, his chosen.

2. A Boston Red Sox ticket. What now? A ticket to a baseball game? Let's just say that from mid-February through late September (sometimes even longer, when I'm extra lucky), there is rarely a Red Sox game that I miss, whether I am watching on television, listening to a radio broadcast online, or begging friends for game updates via text. I have formed friendships through our common fandom. And I have had the amazing opportunity to visit Fenway Park, the cathedral of my "other love," with a couple of my dearest friends a couple of years ago. I saved that ticket. I use it as a bookmark. Every time I see it, I have great memories of that day, but more than that, I smile at the fact that I am a third generation Sox fan.

3. My camera. I am by no means a professional nor do I wish to be. But I love my camera. I love playing with it, learning about it, and, most of all, capturing people I love and memories I make. Some of my most prized possessions came from cameras. Not just this one, but ones I've grown out of, ones that were held in the hands of my father, my grandparents, and long ago relatives I never had the chance to meet. I get the gift of seeing through their eyes. No one is ever surprised to see me pull out my camera.

4. Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." This one is multi-faceted symbol. I am a reader. I taught myself to read before I started kindergarten. I enjoy reading: books, magazines, blogs. I read every day. This is also my favorite book. I read it last year and it...taught what I already knew about myself, but never had the words to articulate. It is also a political and financial ideology I personally embrace. Yes, this book captures many pieces of who I am.

5. My Disney World Annual Pass. When I moved to Florida not quite eleven years ago, I had never been to any Disney park. Not long afterward, I had my introduction to the magic. I got my first annual pass and I've never not had one since. I've easily been in the parks somewhere in the ballpark of 200 times since that first day. I never tire of it. It is my happy place. When all else fails, when I am sad or discouraged or can't shake myself out of a funk, I can escape into the "Disney bubble, " and somehow I can sort myself back out.

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