I can't do without coffee, I can't.  I get up in the morning, go to the bathroom, wash my face, and then get started on the coffee.  Which means that a mere 15-20 minutes after I wake up, I have a cup of coffee in hand.

But I can't say that I chase the good stuff.  I've had outstanding coffee: Ninth Street Espresso, Blue Bottle Coffee at the Ferry Building, Philz Coffee (my favorite ever).  I know it's good and I appreciate it's good. Ultimately, though, when it comes down to it, I buy Starbuck's and pretty much subsist on that.  It's easy, it's accessible.

Adam was just on a business trip in the Bay Area and came back with a bag of Blue Bottle:

The difference between this bag and my usual Starbuck's was marked.  Which won't be a surprise to you coffee aficionados.  But it has certainly inspired me to make more of an effort to get the good stuff. I mean, I live in NYC, for heaven's sake.  It shouldn't be that hard.

I insist on quality in so much that I put in my body - why not coffee?

What about you, fellow coffee drinkers?  What do you drink?  How do you brew it?

Eat, drink, and seek out quality.

For more about coffee, check out these links:

Where to Find Me: Social Media

While I'm waiting for my technical kinks to get worked out, there are a few other places you can find me:
  • I recently started a Facebook fan page: Pinot and Prose.  Come on over there, "like" me, and we can keep talking over there.
  • Hopefully you know that I'm on Twitter (@foodandbooks) - you can follow me there.
  • I'm addicted to Pinterest.  Seriously.  Just love it.  If you're on Pinterest, say hi to me there as well (though I have to confess I seem to be pinning fashion more than anything!).
  • I started a Tumblr blog but, honestly, I'm not quite sure what to do with it yet.  Nevertheless, I'm there too. 
Also, I'm still working on my blog redesign - my awesomely talented friend, Shannon of War Admiral Press, is helping me out.  So stay tuned!

Eat, drink, and be social with me on social media!



The computer saga goes on.  Here's a brief update: haven't had time (who has any time, really?) to take my ticking bomb of a laptop to the repair guy.  Adam said to just go buy a new laptop and be done with it.  I'm tempted to just go to the Apple Store with my iPad, iPod, camera, and credit card in hand and tell them to FIX MY LIFE.

So still no photos.

In the meantime, though, I've been catching up on some reading.  In addition to finally reading my first Libba Bray book (BEAUTY QUEENS - loving it!), I'm also reading REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PARIS: SIXTY YEARS OF WRITING FROM GOURMET, edited by Ruth Reichl.  So far, it's been a bit a slog with some stories really dragging down the others.  Nevertheless, there are absolute gems within the pages (or within my iPad fake pages, anyway).  I have two excerpts that I'd love to share with you.  Here's the first:

"According to French bistro belief, a wicked worm lurks in every man's intestines: Unless held in check by regular applications of wine, it may grow to enormous proportions.  Thus the more you drink, the more you feel the virtuous righteousness of Saint George conquering a homemade dragon."

~ George Bijur ("Chicken Demi-Deuil," August 1941)

On one hand, ew.  But then I love the idea that I'm slaying dragons with every glass of wine drunk.  Only the French can get away with advocating wine-drinking as heroic!

The other excerpt I want to share is lengthier so stick with me.  It's the recipe for oeufs Reine-Amelie (translation: eggs Queen Amelia), which is something that the writer, Louis Diat, learned how to make in culinary school but will surely never make again.  This dish was created in honor of the Queen of Portugal:

"Pieces of butter were cut and shaped to resemble hen's eggs. Each butter egg was rolled in flour, beaten egg, and in fine white bread crumbs.  This process was repeated to obtain two coats ä l'anglaise.  A sharp cutter cut out a small plug at the end of each egg, and the eggs were put away to be chilled thoroughly.  They were then fried in deep hot fat.  The heat melted the butter, which was then emptied out of the hole in the end of the egg.  The simulated shells were filled with eggs scrambled to a delicate creaminess with finely chopped truffles.

In the meantime, the nests for the eggs were being made.  Shoestring potatoes were used to line thickly the bottom and sides of a wire frying basket.  A smaller frying basket set inside held the potatoes firmly until they were fried.  When the baskets were separated, the crisp nest slipped out.  The nests were apt to roll on the serving dish, so a supporting bed was made to hold them steady.  This was done by forming a support from noodle dough shaped to look like part of a tree.  It had to be baked in the oven right on the platter to give it sufficient rigidity to hold the nest.  Then, some cooked noodles, colored green and yellow and cut in fancy shapes, were arranged on the dish."

~ Louis Diat ("Cuisine Parisienne," July 1951)

Wow.  And double wow.  I can't imagine eating that dish.  I'd be alternately impressed by the detail and annoyed at the preciousness.  One thing I do love is that Louis Diat mentions that he's putting this recipe into print for posterity so that we have a historic record that this was made once for the Queen of Portugal.

Which makes me wonder about the lucky person who works as an archivist for such collections as Gourmet.  Because I'd love that job*!

Eat, drink, and tell me about the books you're reading - I need recs!

* Cooked Books (who hasn't blogged in a few months, I'm afraid) has that job, actually: she is in charge of the culinary archives at the New York Public Library  


Technical Difficulties

Hi all,

It's been an eventful few days here at Pinot and Prose.  Between a weekend of not one but two parties where I, um, overindulged and my laptop going up in flames (not literally but damn near), it's been busy.  And now I've got a sick Bug on my hands and Adam is out of town.  Which of course means that I'm feeling my own sniffles coming on...which probably could have been avoided had I not weakened my immune system this weekend.  It's all so cruel and self-inflicted.

Well, except for the laptop.  Thanks to the meltdown, I have no way to upload any photos from my camera to my blog posts.  So I'm taking a bit of a break to work this out.  Back soon with loverly photos!  Promise!

Eat and drink in my absence!


My Idea of Heaven

Today was a Red Letter Day.

Why?  Because I was able to do something I have never been able to do: today I ran a dress rehearsal for a dinner I'm hosting tomorrow night for a few friends.

After the amuse-bouches I'm serving while Bug is still awake, this is the first course we'll be enjoying after she goes to bed: Fig and Walnut Salad with Manchego Crisps (inspired by The Improvisational Cook).  And since I've never tried it before, I worked on perfecting it at lunch today.

And truth be known, I also forced it on Adam last night too.

I know you what you guys are thinking: "Wednesday night rehearsal, Thursday lunch final dress, and then Friday night performance?  Aren't you tired of that thing yet?!"  And the answer is "Hell, no."  To have the time to do this is nothing short of pure decadence.

Eat, drink, and thank heavens for part-time work!

(NOTE: Enormous apologies for the lack of a photo - and, believe me, I took a gorgeous one - but my laptop crashed and my temporary replacement won't allow me to download photos...drama, drama, drama...but you'll have photos soon!)


Opening Day Nachos

I know, it's another football post.  I swear, this will be my last for 2011!

Like last year, I made the traditional NFL Opening Day dish in our home: Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Dip (from Cooking Light).

To be quite frank, one of the reasons we make it is because we can munch on it nearly all day and do so relatively guilt-free.  And it's one of the few ways we can get Bug to eat vegetables...lots of them.

Also, like last year, I did a cheese dish because that's the kind of people we are; no meal seems complete without some kind of cheese involved.  While still at my HarperCollins job, I attended the Texas Library Association conference in Austin this past April.  As a thank you from TLA's Children's Round Table, we received a lovely nacho plate from Holman Pottery (specifically, it was the nacho plate in Blue Earth, if you're interested in ordering one).  When Sally gave the dish to me, it came with instructions for nachos which I have long since lost so I had to make it up.  Here's how it turned out*:

Created by Laura Lutz

1/2 lb. jack cheese, grated
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tbsp. pickled jalapenos, chopped
1/2 c.chorizo, chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 lime, quartered

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  Spread grated cheese in the dish (you don't need a Holman dish for this - you can use Pyrex or Le Creuset, anything oven-safe) and then sprinkle garlic slivers evenly over the cheese.  Spread jalapenos and chorizo in the dish.  Place dish in oven and bake for about 15 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly (note: you might want to bake it longer if you want the edges to get crispy).  Remove from oven and sprinkle cilantro on top.  Serve with lime slices and tortilla chips. (Serves 2...because we eat a lot on Opening Day)

Note: all the ingredients above are to taste; feel free to add or omit as much as you want.

Do you have any sports-related traditions in your home?  And what is it with sports and munching?

Speaking of which, I abandoned my old friend Wine for this meal and switched to Beer.  The Magic Hat #9 paired perfectly:

Eat, drink, and celebrate family rituals.

* Note: the Holman nacho dish is the round one only.  The big plate underneath it was one I owned previously.


New York

I hesitated saying anything about the 9/11 anniversary on my blog.  As you can see, I even posted a wine shop post earlier...which, I argue, is a major tribute to New York, given that I was throwing money at my local neighborhood businesses yesterday.  I really wanted to just move on and not talk about it publicly.

But it also just doesn't feel right not to say anything.

So I'll say this: ten years ago, I had a 2-month-old daughter and I was house-shopping with Adam in Phoenix (we were living in Olympia, WA at the time).  My mother was with us.  As we got dressed to meet our real estate agent, we watched the towers fall.  All I could think was that I had done the worst thing ever, bringing a child into the world.  I looked at Isabell (yes, Bug is named Isabell for those of you who don't know) and couldn't believe she had to live in this world.  That day, September 11, 2001, we signed the papers for our house in Phoenix.

And if you had told me then that I would eventually live in New York City, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy.  I had never even been to NYC ten years ago.  Yet here I am today.  And there's nowhere else I'd rather be.  I love it here.  It's part of me.  It's part of my family.

I have gone from a place where I didn't know how to raise a loving, open child in this world...to where I'm so happy to be experiencing all this - by which I mean New York - with her.  With Adam.  And now with the family we have here: Brian, Andrea, Phil, Jenn, Laura, and so many others close to our hearts.  We're in New York with them and I'm so full of love that my cup runneth over.

And that's all I want to say about 9/11.  I consider myself so lucky, and I'm counting my blessings.  I'm celebrating today, actually.  I'm celebrating love, laughter, friends, and family.  I'm celebrating food, the table, lovely wines, and my local market.  And that's how, in the end, I hope that we've won.

Eat and drink with those you love.

Why Wine Shop Owners Are Like Librarians

My local wine shop is Wine Heaven on 3rd Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets:

Sadly, they do need to play to the neighborhood a bit so there's an overabundance of Yellow Tail and Barefoot but, that said, there are some absolute hidden gems there as well.  And isn't that a sign of a really lovely place?  Not to mention that the two women who run the shop are sweetness personified.  One of the little touches I love is that, without fail, they use a razor and shave the price sticker off every bottle, as if they think I'm always off to some fabulous dinner party where the price sticker on the wine would be utterly tacky.  Likewise, they always offer to chill any white or bubbly wine I might have...because I might want to sip it as soon as I get to my destination. It's this attention to detail that keeps me going back.

To make sure you're all up to speed before I start my story, I want to make sure that you know I'm a former children's librarian*.  You all know that, right?  If not, you do now.

So how is running a wine shop like being a librarian?  Well, a couple months ago, shortly after moving down the street from Wine Heaven, I bought this bottle of blanc de blancs:

What is blanc de blancs, you ask?  Well, I'm still learning but my understanding is that it is Champagne made with 100% Chardonnay grapes (as opposed to Champagne-champagne, which is made with 75% red grapes)**.  Did you know that traditional Champagne is made with mostly red grapes?  Neither did I!

So I picked out this bottle of Paul de Coste blanc de blancs, blindly.  I asked the woman at the counter if she recommended it and I received an emphatic "yes".  Well, she was right.  It was sublime: super-dry and very food-friendly.  And it cost a fraction of what a bottle of Veuve Clicquot would cost.  I loved it so much that I've been hanging on to the bottle for two months to help me remember to buy another bottle!

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon and I stopped by Wine Heaven for a replenishment of supplies.  While I was buying one of my go-to bottles (Kris Pinot Grigio), I asked about the blanc de blancs.  The trouble was that I couldn't remember the name!  Only that it was a blanc de blancs!

The two purveyors couldn't remember the bottle I was talking about.  I said, "No problem.  I have the bottle at home, and I'll just come back later with the name."  Then I laughed and said, "I can describe the label, though!  I just can't remember the name! It's a black label with gold lettering.  No graphics or prettiness."  Sure enough, they said, "The Paul de Coste!"  I replied, "YES!"  And then was denied because they were out for the moment.

Those of you librarians who read my blog, you know what I'm talking about: "I can't remember the title or author, but I remember that the cover was blue and it was about a dog.  And I read it about 20 years ago."   And we have to figure out what the heck they're talking about.  And I realized I did the same thing to Wine Heaven!  Blessedly, I remembered that it was a blanc de blancs, which is way more detail than we normally get in a library.

So I raise a glass to all you wine shop owners and librarians: I salute you!

* I feel odd referring to myself as a "former librarian".  While I don't work in a library anymore, I do subscribe to the idea that "once a librarian, always a librarian".

** Here's my source: thanks, Bon Appétit!


Fantasy Football Draft Night

I have been a long-time, regular competitor in two fantasy football leagues: one for the last 12 years and another for the last 10.  My team name changes each year and it often has something to do with food or wine - a couple of years ago, I was "Vino Vixens".  This year?  I'm "Pinot She Daaaan't!"  Clever, if I do say so myself!
Adam, Brian, and me - I think I just picked a WINNER!

Highlighters and spreadsheets are de rigeur.

Draft Night is always an event, but even more so this year since Andrea and Brian (aka the Soul Twin and My Other Husband) live just across the river from us now.  My Other Husband, of course, is a player in one of my leagues...and the Soul Twin...well, the Soul Twin came over to drink rosé and heckle us, of course.  And dance to James Brown while we were trash-talking...

Adam and My Other Husband

What?  You didn't think I'd drink a beer while drafting, did you?

So I made BLTs.  I wanted to enjoy the heirloom tomatoes at the market while they're still around, and I figured that we could eat while we were drafting, if needed.  But it was also important to me to punch up the flavor so I created my own Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise that I thought was just incredible.

Serves 4


Lemon- Garlic Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp each)
  • 8 slices brioche (I like the counterbalance of the sweet bread with the salty bacon, but any bread of your choice will do)
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced (ideally, different colors)
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 4 large leaves of romaine lettuce
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Lay bacon flat on the sheet and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until browned and crisp (doing it in the oven keeps the bacon flat).

While bacon is cooking, heat a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil and garlic to the pan.  Keeping a close eye on the garlic to avoid burning, saute garlic for about 2 minutes until softened but not browned.  Set pan aside.

When bacon is done, set aside to cool.  Once cooled, halve each slice crosswide, making 16 half-strips of bacon.

In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic (and the oil from the pan), salt and pepper.  Stir.  Taste for seasoning.  Set aside.

Spread 8 slices of bread with the mayonnaise.  Place 4 half-slices of bacon on top of the mayonnaise.  Add tomato slices, then lettuce.  Put the top slice of bread on.  (NOTE: the point of constructing the sandwich like this is that the tomato is the wettest part so you want it in the middle.  That way, your bread won't get soggy as fast.)

Lastly, a note on the mayonnaise: this recipe creates A LOT of mayonnaise.  In fact, you could halve it and quite easily have enough for your BLTs.  But I made extra because you can use this for so many meals.  Here are some ideas:
  1. Loosen the mayo with a tablespoon or so of olive oil to make more of a sauce.  Add on top of grilled fish.
  2. Boil some new potatoes.  Add some finely chopped rosemary to the mayo and dollop on top of the potatoes as a side dish to eggs for breakfast or roast chicken for dinner.
  3. Steam broccoli and use this mayo as a dipping sauce.
The possibilities are endless.  So halve it for the BLTs if you'd like...but I'm predicting you'll want to keep using this for a few days afterward.

So the sandwiches were a success.  But what about the draft?  Well, we'll have to see.  Bring it on!



It's getting REAL...

I'm not sure how many of you have seen this but, if you haven't, it's a MUST:

Aside from being straight-up hilarious, it also puts my own pretentiousness into perspective.  And thank goodness for that...


Praise Cheeses!

You know, to each their own.  Pray to God, Allah, Christopher Hitchens, whatever.

But, with the exception of the lactose intolerant, of course, I think we can agree on at least one thing:

My new t-shirt!

Eat, drink, and PRAISE CHEESES!