Saturday, July 31, 2010

Still River Cafe Review

I grew up in the Northeast corner of Connecticut.  As a kid I really hated it and thought it was so boring (aka so rural) but now it's like a little gem of an area to me.  There are great restaurants, great little shops and so on.  I have heard about this restaurant for a long time that I am going to tell you about, and in fact it's been around long enough that I know my mom (who was a successful restauranter herself) went there when it first opened.  It's a farm to table restaurant - in the sense that they grow their own stuff.  I don't think they have any animals though. Still River Cafe is a rehabed barn, which I think is exactly who I am as a person - a rehabed barn, haha! I really loved the space.  It is located in Eastford, CT. 

I was really really excited about this dining experience, because I am learning to really love fresh food, or "real" food as they say.  I really got into this mind set when I went to Italy three years ago and they didn't eat anything processed there, it blew me away and after being there for three weeks my entire body felt better, it was unreal. But anyway I was really looking forward to eating vegetables that had been grown right in their yard.  I had real trouble deciding what I was going to eat because there were so many things I wanted! The table was started off with a trio of things to taste.  We had pea soup, which was the most pea tasting soup I've ever had.  This is not your grandmother's pea soup.  It was fresh and light and the flavor really hit you like a ton of bricks!  We also had a carrot marshmallow, which only had a tiny hint of carrot taste, it was intersting, and a miso ravioli which is the weirdest thing I've ever put in my mouth.  I come from the school of taste when cooking, but I know some cultures come from the school of texture when cooking, and that is where this falls.  It was a little tiny bit of miso encased in this thin layer or something, when it went in your mouth it popped and the miso came flowing out.  Bizarre really!

I started off with the gnocchi. It was really yummy, a little on the heavy side, it could have used a little less cream fraiche but the brown sauce was lovely. 

House Made Gnocchi
House made gnocchi, polenta encrusted sweetbreads, porcini cream fraiche and crispy sage leaves 14 

As my entree I got lobster.  I was really torn between lobster and duck, two of my favorites! But I figured I can come back for duck in the fall! All of the entrees come done in three various forms.  I had lobster bisque, a lobster tail, and a lobster croquette.  I was excited about the lobster tail because it was done in leeks, and I really love leeks and they are so underused!   The lobster bisque was to die for.  It had am amazing hearty flavor to it.  I wanted to lick the bowl.  The lobster tail was really great with the leeks and the beats, and just had a very fresh flavor to it.  The flavor of the lobster just really came through.  I wasn't crazy about the croquette - it just lacked flavor I think especially next to the bisque and the tail, but I did eat it. 

Maine Lobster
Lightly smoked lobster tail with caramelized leeks and Parisienne beets, lobster bisque and lobster croquette 34

Other guests at my table had scallops, which were fresh and lovely.   I stole one of this plate.  The ceviche was exactly what you want ceviche to be, and the whole scallops were perfectly cooked. 

Tasting of Scallops 
Pan seared Nantucket scallops with farm onions and scallop jus, scallop ceviche and almond encrusted scallop 34

We all got dessert too.  I was torn between creme brulee because it was tea flavored! And the "coffee and doughnuts" dessert I ended up with.  The table agreed mine was the best.  The donut was a little salty which I loved, it brought out the chocolate flavor so well.   

“Coffee and Doughnuts”
Flourless chocolate cake, coffee crème anglais, crispy molten chocolate ganache “donut” 9

SRC “Evening Tea” Crème Brulee
Earl Grey crème brulee and lemon and honey crème brulee, lemon-poppyseed madeleine cookie 9 

Overall I really loved my dining experience here.  Some of the desserts fell flat, but the meals were really the shining star.  And the ambiance I found really charming and lovely.  I can't wait to go back in the fall when their menu will change with the seasons. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010


A family member sent me these pictures today:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lemon Meringue

I made lemon meringue pie over the weekend with a super easy recipe.  I really just wanted the meringue part, but felt it necessary to put the meringue on top of something.

You will need for the filling
1 can of sweetended condesned milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
some lemon zest
3 egg yolks (save the whites)

You put this all together and put it in a pie shell of your choice. 

For the meringue you will need
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

You beat the whites and the COT together until soft peaks form and then slowly beat in the sugar.  You put this meringue on top of the filling. 

Now the recipe says to cook for 12 - 15 minutes at 325, but this did not do it for my pie.  It came out really watery and did not set properly.  Then I went back and read the reviews and a lot of people had this complaint.  They suggested cooking the filling first, and then putting the meringue on top and cooking it all again.  And also then putting it in the fridge to set.   I would like to try this again cooking the filling first on its own, because it was super easy and the flavor is good, it just didn't set properly. I know most lemon meringue uses corn starch though or something for it to set....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Peaches and Pazzo

I made a peach gazpacho last week, it was good and super easy.

You will need:
6 ripe peaches
1 medium cucumber
a few splashes of champagne vinager
1 clove of garlic
olive oii
2 tspn of parsley

Basically cut all of these things up and put them in a food processor with 1/2 cup of water and gently puree.  You don't want it to be like baby food, you want it a little chunky and refrigerate.  This is also good for a marinade I think. 

On another domestic note I gave Pazzo a haircut at home.  Choppy but cute.

Friday, July 16, 2010

awesome things

Something else I love: honey.  But not the honey you get in a squeeze jar shaped like a bear, like real true raw and authentic (and sometimes flavored honey).  I was initially drawn to this brand - Bee Raw - because I really just loved the jar it was in.  It was sleek and modern and I had to have it for the awesome jar.  I have since tried a few varieties of their honey and I am hooked! The flavor is just amazing.

I have since stumbled upon their website Bee Raw Honey and have found something amazing! Flights of honey! You know when you have a flight of wine? You get a little sample of a bunch of different wines.  It is just like that, but with honey and they come in great such great packs.  My favorite is the one meant for cheese! But I need to eventually buy this:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mini Cupcakes

If you know me, you know I love everything mini.  I'm not sure why, maybe it's because I am mini? But I like tiny things.  I saw these mini tiny cupcakes in Real Simple magazine.  I mean tiny, like the size of a quarter tiny.  And right away I had to have them! I was really into cupcakes like 3 years ago but that sort of dwindled, but since they were so tiny and so cute I wanted to try them.  They are from bakedbymelissa.  I placed an order for 37 mini cupcakes.  They are reasonably priced but the shipping is crazy! Well they arrived within a few days.  They were packed really nicely in this cute little container.  I ate a few and honestly I was let down.  I mean they are good, but they weren't great, and they weren't worth the 20 dollars it cost to ship them.  They are almost so tiny that it's impossible for them to be truly moist I think.  Or maybe it's the fact that they were shipped to me that I found them a little dry.  And the flavors are unique but they were not memorable in my mouth at all.  Maybe if I was walking by this store I would pick up one little mini cupcake, but I would not go through the process of ordering them again.  Sorry Melissa. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perspective and Patty

Growing up I only ever had one friend that had CF, her name was Katelyn and she died when we were kids.  I still think about her a lot actually.  They kind of don't want one CF kid hanging out with another CF kid because you're commingling germs.  Well, after I got my first transplant my old middle school teacher, Gerry Teja, contacted me that her son was dating someone with CF and she was on the transplant list and she thought it would be really neat to pair us up.  She felt we were really similar and would really hit it off and maybe I could help Patty (her name) with the transplant process.  Soon after I met Patty and we hit it off right away.  I've really never met someone who I could just instantly relate to so easily and we became fast friends.  Well I've known Patty now for maybe 5 years and I haven't seen her in a good year which is tragic - so yesterday we spent the day together.  She has not had a transplant and is still puttering along with her CF lungs quite well, but it's rather interesting to me because we have the same exactly lung function right now.  And to her, she is doing really well, and to me I feel like such crap.  I thought about it a lot on the way home last night.  How she herself will tell you that she is doing so well and she feels so great! And as she says this to me yesterday I think in my head how awesome that is, but then I also think, you only feel that way because it's all you know.  Having 35% of your lung function working is as horrible as it sounds, it sucks! And I can't explain to her what it is like to go through an entire day and never once think about your breathing.  I mean I just can't explain to anyone that hasn't been there, what it's like to go from not being able to breathe, to being normal and I just really cannot wait for that day to come for her.  I hope she stays at her 35% for a long time and won't need a transplant, but I really cannot wait for that day when I can sit with her and she has healthy lungs and I can see her not struggle, even though she doesn't think she is struggling, I can say she is because I've been to both sides.  She just so deserves to know what its like to be normal and really live.  Don't get me wrong she is living, and she is living well, but it's only as well as she can with sick lungs, it's NOTHING like being able to breathe, nothing.  In a way I wish everyone could just feel a few minutes of what it's like to have really shitty lungs, it would just give you this perspective that I can't find the words to explain.  I mean it must be like how someone who can't see feels when they can see again, or something like that.  I read this story about this lady that went blind after taking a medication that she had a bad reaction to and she was blind for 33 years and then doctors were able to restore her site, she must go through her days knowing this little secret no one else knows, having this little perspective no one else really has (expect for those that have experienced the same thing)  That is how I feel, I just have this little perspective in my head I really wish I could explain to everyone.  But in any event, what I really wish is that one day Patty knows what it is like to walk out the door and spend an entire day thinking about everything else besides her lungs.  There is truly nothing like it. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lung Update

I'm going to try to update now every time I go for a check up during this retransplant process.  I go every 2 - 3 weeks now.  Yesterday it was hot as an African safari in Manhattan! 108 degrees! One of my best friends Lindsey came with me, which was really nice.  There were not a lot of people around for any of my tests so we didn't really wait much.  I have the same routine every time I go.  I do: blood work, chest x-ray, pulmonary function tests, and then bring all of those test results (well not blood work) to my transplant doctor and we discuss where I am in my decline.   We waited awhile once we got to the transplant floor and seriously the AC was not working on the floor and it was hot as anything! All of my numbers had pretty much stayed the same from two weeks prior.  My lung function is 36% and my weight is 83 lbs, so we didn't really have that much to discuss, since that has stayed pretty constant all month.  It seems like I generally take a dip once a month in lung function.  In my head I think I'd feel comfortable going back on the transplant list when I am in the high 20's, by then my fear of dying I think will trump my fear of another transplant, which is sort of what I am waiting for before I go back on the list. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rum Raisin Pudding - A Cook's Dessert

This requires no baking! Yippee.  I love rice pudding but have never made it myself, until I saw an episode with my favorite Ina making it and I was inspired. 

Here is her recipe (here)

I followed it exactly and it came out perfect:

It was super simple.  It takes a lot of stirring and a lot of little steps but it was so worth it.  This will be my snack for the entire week!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peach Pie

I really love homemade fruit pies.  This is one of the reasons I really love the south, because it reminds me of things like cherry pie.  Now you all know I don't bake.  If I make a dessert it is what one calls a chef's dessert - i.e. no baking! Well I love peaches and I went out on a limb and baked a peach pie last week.  I even made my own crust!

I followed this Georgia Peach Pie recipe (here) 
I followed the crust to a T, but I did my own version of what was inside.

Here is the dough.  I was worried about it at first, but once I put it in the fridge for 30 minutes it made a big difference.

For the inside of the pie I sliced up 8 peaches, I drizzled over them with olive oil, some salt, a little honey, juice from half a lemon, a teaspoon of vanilla, a dusting of ginger and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  I mixed it all together.

Then I sliced up some butter (obviously)

I spread the dough out and put it in the pie shell and filled it with the peach mix and topped it with butter slices

I then put the top on the pie and baked it!

Oh it came out sooooo yummy, and the crust was sooooo good! Here is a close up of the inside