Nonexistent Balance

The work-life balance has been a bit, um, unbalanced lately. Between leaving for ALA tomorrow and a flu-ridden sick kid, I'm being pulled a bajillion directions and feeling like nothing is ever going to get done. And certainly won't get done to the standards to which I hold myself and my performance.

But I'm sitting at home today, working from home, and just made myself a snack/lunch. I had buffalo mozzarella in the fridge, some crackers, and a half-drunk bottle of rose. I sprinkled the mozzarella with salt and pepper, grated some lemon zest over it, and drizzled balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top. For the finishing touch, I cut basil from my balcony herb garden and julienned it. Here are the results:

So I once had someone ask me to put into words why I love food so much. Well, this is why. In the midst of insanity comes simplicity and nourishment. No matter what goes down at ALA (there's a certain author/illustrator I'm FREAKING out about!), I can still come home to this. Food gives me the balance that work and family certainly don't allow and forces me to take a moment for myself.

Eat, drink, and seek out meaningful experiences to you.


Weird Weekend

Like the post title says, it was a weird weekend. First, it was Saturday at NY Brewfest on Governor's Island (Kelso of Brooklyn was very good and Keegan's Mother's Milk was by far the best I tried) .
But we weren't fans of the event and probably wouldn't go again. The pictures from the ferry to the island were the best part. The company was great - me, Adam, our friend Josh (my friend-in-food, particularly the inspiration for Bacon Fest), and his friend Justin - but the thousands of other people at the Brewfest? Not so cool. Even in one of the best foodie cities in the world, you still get jerks that just want to slam beers and get drunk. Ugh.

Then Adam and I had squash blossoms on Sunday night that were unreal:

If you tell me that this is all namby-pamby fancy food, I'll dispute it 'til I'm red in the face. This was So Easy. First you mix fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary), salt, and pepper into ricotta. Then you stuff it into squash blossoms. Where does one find such fancy food? Either at your local farmers' market or, in this case, from Fresh Direct. Stuff the blossoms with the ricotta. Dredge in beaten eggs. Roll around in panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs. You could also use finely ground cornmeal or even regular bread crumbs). I seasoned my panko with lots of salt and pepper. Fry in vegetable oil until browned. Out of this world, melt in your mouth goodness. And paired with a flute of cava (or prosecco or Champagne)? Even better.

But we enjoyed it while Bug was in bed with a 103 fever. Weird, right?

Add to all this that I'm leaving for ALA in tomorrow. Even weirder.

So you'll probably get radio silence from me for awhile. I'm back from ALA for one day and then off to Hawaii and Oregon for two weeks after that. I'd love to blog from there...but I make no promises.

Eat, drink, and cheers to the end of the tunnel that is ALA...


Virginia, Photographically

Oh, Virginia. It was amazing. I can't express it in words other than to show you:

Vintage Cellar wine and beer shop in Blacksburg. An amazing selection. And wine tastings that left us...um...happy.

The Soul Twin's husband (and my second husband) grilling pizza. If I ever leave NYC, it will be because I miss outdoor living like this.

I was flipping through the Soul Twin's cookbooks...and found this great Post-It with menu ideas for our weekend together.


Peanut butter cookies...only made with almond butter and chopped raw almonds. Unreal. Soul Twin and I thought that smoked, salted almonds would elevate it even more.

But the highlight of the trip was most definitely visiting Villa Appalaccia, a local winery. I've never been to Italy but I imagine that it's a lot like this winery. It was difficult to convince myself that I was actually on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. And - bonus! - the wines were excellent. Check out this gorgeousness:

The entrance to the tasting room

The entrance to a lovely sitting area

They had a bocce court!

The winery has a goat cheese (local, of course) plate. We shared this while sipping wine next to the bocce court. Idyllic indeed.

I can hardly believe we fit so much into three days. But we did and it was marvelous. Food, wine, and friends. Add books - which I did - and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Eat, drink, and explore new places.



I'm off to Blacksburg, Virginia this weekend! I've never been there before - I'm expecting a quiet town, quaint shops, and farmers' markets. Am I destined for disappointment? Maybe it's too close to the end of the school year and I'm going to get a college town with rivers of jungle juice flowing?

I'll be visiting the Soul Twin. You remember our trip to Florida, right?

But I'm a working girl so, naturally, I'm bringing a half-ton of books with me. Here's the stack:

The Bright Young Things you see is a sampler of Anna Godbersen's new series* (my love of The Luxe is well-documented here, here, and here). Naturally, this isn't for me (I read it already) - I'm bringing this one for the Soul Twin. I got her hooked on Anna Godbersen's stuff ages ago and now I'm her pusher.

All the other kids' books? That's my reading for work. When you all stop by our booth at ALA Annual and ask me what's good I need to have read the books, right? So this is all for you.

I bought A Time for Gifts after reading "Frugal Europe, on Foot" in the New York Times. I'm about halfway through and I just adore it. The writing is lyrical but not overwrought - he doesn't try too hard. It also has that wonderful aspect where Fermor clearly wrote the book post-trip, bringing all those memories back to the surface, so that the characters and details are a little fuzzy. He may not remember their names or faces but, ah, he remembers how he felt when he was with them.

Naturally, it has lots of food in it. And there's a huge focus on the idea of food as community - it brings Fermor and strangers together as only communal dining can. I loved this:
Beer, carraway seed, beeswax, coffee, pine-logs and melting snow combined with the smoke of thick, short cigars in a benign aroma across which ever so often the ghost of sauerkraut would float.
I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "'The ghost of sauerkraut'? What the hell?" But just stop and think about it...isn't that a gorgeous way to describe the acidic tang that interrupts all those warm, smoky scents? I just thought it was a beautiful passage.

Off I go! See you next week!

Eat, drink, and savor great writing.

* Read The Compulsive Reader's discussion on the cover.