Holiday Treats

Let’s all breathe a deep sigh of relief. Exams are over. Of course, this time next year I’ll be flying back to Vermont and using my vacation days from work (crazy to think), but for right now, I am very, very relaxed and happy that the semester is over.

I have, however, lost many of my foodie pics.

In the middle of a week where I submitted over 120 pages of academic writing, my new MacBook Pro decided to get its hardware all corrupted and put me in a position where I had to choose between my photos and spending another 4 hours in the Apple Store. I opted to save my GPA, and thus, all my documentation of platters of Ethiopian in Washington DC were lost. Alas.

But! All is not lost! It is the holiday season and good cheer must be baked. Here is what I’ve been up to in the last week. Don’t dismiss these recipes by their simplicity – the marshmallow pops, for instance, were the only holiday treats entirely devoured when present in my mom’s office.

1) Chocolate Marshmallow Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 35 lollipop sticks
  • 10 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp shortening (or a bit of butter)
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes
  • 1/2 cup crushed Heath or Skor bars (2 bars)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Voila!

Voila!

Instructions:

  1. Insert lollipop sticks into marshmallows, taking care not to poke them through the other side.
  2. Place chocolate and shortening in a medium-sized microwave-proof bowl. Microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.
  3. Dip marshmallow into the chocolate until three-quarters of the marshmallow is coated. Tap the stick while holding the marshmallow over the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate.
  4. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate coating with candy cane, Heath Bar, or shredded coconut (Oreos are also another delicious option).
  5. Poke the sticks into a piece of florist’s styrofoam. Let the chocolate dry. Then enjoy!

2) Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. high-quality bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperatur, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
In my mind, the more sea salt, the better.

In my mind, the more sea salt, the better.

Instructions:

  1. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8 inch baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overlap on the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate chips, Nutella, and butter.
  3. Form a double-boiler by setting the bowl on a medium pot of gently simmering water. The water level should be low enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Scape the mixture into the prepared pan, spread the top smooth with a spatula, and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours.
  5. Cut the fudge into 3/4-inch squares. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil. Sprinkle again with more sea salt if desired.

3) Peppermint Meltaways: 

My mom makes these every year and they’re divine. Found these fun recipe cards from Savvy Eats and attached them to the Christmas cards I sent out.

Mmm mmm.

Mmm mmm.

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Parker & Otis and Parlour Pints

Had a pimento cheese, avocado, sprouts, tomato, and mayo sandwich from Parker & Otis today and consequently forgot to take a picture of it. I did, however, snap this.

Couldn’t handle all that pimento…#lactoseproblems

Also, even though The Parlour has closed their school bus doors until springtime, you should know Yoni and Vanessa are still making the out-of-this-world ice cream we’ve all come to love and cherish. You can pick up pints at Parker & Otis, Bull Street Gourmet and Market, and Bean Traders on Ninth Street. Here are the current flavors available at Parker & Otis. Unfortunately, salted caramel is not one of them. Fig Honey looks really tasty though.

Iris – NC Museum of Art

Last I night I decided to head over to the NC Museum of Art. I hadn’t been since sophomore year and really wanted to walk through the sculpture park (which I later learned is much more expansive than I had originally thought). If you’re a Duke student and haven’t been to the Museum yet, please do – it boasts a wonderful collection with some impressive special exhibits (Edward Munch is there now and Still Life Masterpieces from the MFA in Boston opens tomorrow). And it’s also free, so you really have no excuse.

View of the Museum from the Sculpture Park trail.

Meals, however, are unfortunately not free. In my impromptu decision to visit the Museum, I totally forgot I have the appetite of a sixteen-year-old boy, meaning my stomach is essentially a bottomless pit. For example, after my lunch yesterday, I preceded to go back and buy a second lunch. And then a snack. You think that’d be enough to hold a reasonable person over for 3 hours, right? Yes, but then again, you’re just assuming I am a reasonable person.

So, I show up to the Museum, ravenous, and proceed to skip all the fine art and head straight to the Museum Cafe (or should I say, Iris). The menu looks fantastic, but my heart dropped when I realized a salad would put me out $14. It was a damn good salad though. Spinach, dried cherries, apples, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese with this awesome maple dressing. Now that I’m looking on their online menu though I’m seeing that they’ve got “seared scallops, light red curry lemongrass broth, coconut milk, fresh ginger, shiitakes, sesame seeds, and forbidden black rice” for $15. Forbidden black rice?!?! I’m pretty sure I need that right now. I swear I didn’t see that on the menu last night or else I would have ordered that in all of 0.0001 seconds. Did enjoy the salad though, all $14 of it.

See that tiny biscotti in the back? It’s unbelievably good. And they gave me two of them (fist pump).

Birds nests…or the dreadlocks in my hair I wake up to every morning.

I didn’t just drive half an hour for the food though, although who am I kidding, that’s definitely something I’d do. I did end up walking the sculpture park and it is beautiful! So nice to do at sunset. Inside the Museum, there was live music, drinks, and a lot of people much older than myself. I enjoyed it though, and altogether, had a very relaxing evening.

Art.

And some more art.

Grilled Cheese Deliciousness

There’s nothing like homemade grilled cheese on a crisp New England fall day. On Monday afternoon, I had a need-you-in-my-mouth-right-now kind of hankering for greasy comfort food, but was looking for something a bit more unique than some halfheartedly thrown slabs of American cheese on Wonder bread. Now, I want to preface this by saying I don’t do much shopping at Whole Foods, but in my intense tunnel vision for nom, my stomach made an overriding decision that good grilled cheese was something worth irrationally splurging on. [Side note: I now feel compelled to vent about Whole Foods. Um, have you seen their elaborate cheese counter? I was so curious by some of their options, until I realized one goddamn ounce of cheese would cost me $17.50. How does anyone justify that purchase?? Okay, had to get that out of my system…moving on.]

I picked up a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread (really flaky and left a mess on the counter later, but all in all delicious) with three types of cheese: brie, extra sharp cheddar, and gruyere.

Like I said a couple posts ago, I really am a sucker for anything salty and sweet at the same time, so I picked up some fig jam for sandwich spreading. Guacamole then caught my eye and anyone who knows me understands my inability to resist avocados in any shape or form.

Got home and voila! A really good lunch.

The perfect pair isn’t a PB&J, it’s GC&TS. You know what I’m talking about.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta – Somerville, MA

I should really cook more often. There are weeks when I’m good with it and head to Trader Joe’s or Kroger on Sunday night and pick up some staples that will get me through the week (chicken sausage and Israeli couscous form my two main food groups). But then there are the weeks where I just fail…and miserably at that. I get back to my apartment and find myself either ordering takeout or microwaving plain oatmeal, a choice entirely dependent on how guilty I feel about my rapidly diminishing food points. Needless to say, these weeks are bleak.

So, with it being fall break and all, I wanted some of my spare time to be spent near a stove or an oven, perhaps making something seasonal and Octoberish like pumpkin bread. I didn’t actually get to this, but isn’t the thought of warm, freshly-baked pumpkin bread so wonderful? What I did make, however, was pasta. Dave’s Fresh Pasta. It’s this awesome store in Davis Square that offers huge sandwiches and homemade pasta and sauces. Deciding that this was my opportunity to spend some quality time in the kitchen (and by quality time I mean approximately 12 minutes), I picked up a pound each of pumpkin/sage and butternut squash/toasted almond ravioli with nutmeg cream sauce to top it off.

I shudder to think what my pants size would be if I ate pasta every day.

The ravioli was good, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected. I guess the fantasy of freshly-baked pumpkin bread was far too incepted in my mind, but when I hear pumpkin or butternut squash, I’m expecting something creamy and rich. Pumpkin puree, basically. Dave’s take on pumpkin ravioli was much, much different. I have a hunch they use green pumpkins (given the color of the ravioli…I don’t have superhero heightened tastebuds), which may have a totally different consistency than their more traditionally orange cousins. Prior to the first bite, I was really looking forward to the sweetness of the pumpkin and butternut squash, but if anything, it was bitter. Still good, just not what I’d been anticipating. What I did absolutely LOVE though was just the overall freshness of the pasta itself. The dough smelled unbelievably good, even before I started cooking the ravioli.

Nine different types of ravioli…changing my attitude towards this whole “Eat Pasta Every Day” philosophy.

About to go into the pot.

Even though my first take with Dave’s wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, I was still floored by their pasta. There’s no question I’ll be back (probably many times), just to experiment with their different pastas and sauces. I’d also like to finish by saying that I’m pretty sure Dave’s helped prove to my parents that I am capable of making something other than plain oatmeal. Does this make me a responsible adult?

Oh yeah, and Dave’s legendary sandwiches will keep me coming back for more.

City Feed and Supply – JP, Boston

Duke has an odd habit of not celebrating traditional American holidays that happen to take place on Monday (Labor Day, Columbus Day, National Kazoo Day…none of that). Maybe they don’t want to give us the 3-day weekend, maybe they’ve forgotten that everyone else in the country recognizes these holidays, or maybe they like the idea of Duke being a bit hipster and shunning Columbus Day altogether. I don’t know the exact reason, but to make up for all these Mondays spent in class, Duke gives its undergraduate student body a “Fall Break.”

Fall Break typically takes place the second weekend of October, and we get the following Monday and Tuesday (huzzah!) off of class. When scheduling classes last spring, I made sure to have Fridays off as well, so took the opportunity to fly home to Boston for a nice five day vacation in the fall foliage. I got in early at 9 AM and spent the day in Jamaica Plain. JP has an incredibly interesting history and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Boston. It’s seen a lot of changes in the last few years alone – lot of ongoing gentrification, for better or worse depending on how you feel about ongoing gentrification – but when walking around it’s clear JP has an affinity for good food. One of these places is City Feed and Supply, a local neighborhood grocery store that’s got a cool vibe and sells quirky yet overpriced food products and craft beer (Can you believe it? Hipsters live in JP).

Oh look, quirky food products! Side note: If I had a farm, I’d absolutely name it Fat Toad Farm.

At the end of the day though, the heart of City Feed is really a sandwich/coffee shop. They’ve got a great list of options listed on a chalkboard behind the cash register, and being the sucker that I am for everything simultaneously salty and sweet, I ordered the turkey and brie panini with granny smith apple slices on focaccia bread. It was sooo good, the brie was perfectly gooey and the crispness of the apples was spot on. It immediately put me in that “Fall in New England” state of mind and made me be a bit more understanding of Duke’s oddball policy of substituting Monday holidays for Fall Break.

Ze ambiance.

Just look at the brie oozing out, oh my god.

Let’s See Just How Much I Can Fit Into One Post

Wow, long time no see everybody. It’s obviously been quite some time since I last goalie-spooned, and needless to say, much, much food has been consumed in my absence. Over the last few months I’ve been hanging out here in Durham, interning in San Francisco, and exploring Bostonian neighborhoods. Although I’d say it’s near impossible to describe each and every encounter I’ve had with blogworthy meals, I can’t help but share some of my favorite spots from across the country (and out – bonjour, Montreal) that I’ve eaten at since we last spoke.

Let’s begin with San Francisco:

1) La TaqueriaMission, SF

Both the best burrito and the best taco I’ve ever eaten in my young life have been at La Taqueria. Lucky for me this hole-in-the-wall place was located three short blocks from my apartment in Mission, and I’m pretty sure the number of times I went there borderline called for an intervention. No matter what you do, you MUST order the carnitas. Oh…you’re a vegan you say? I could care less. Order the carnitas, and you will be welcomed back with open arms to the world of carnivorous, taco-eating revelry.

La Taqueria has also reached the profound revelation that rice in a burrito is simply uncalled for. At this very moment, you may be standing up and shouting, “Blasphemy!” but trust me, this is a very good thing and it saves your stomach from extending four inches over your pants an hour after your meal. Also, you must get the mango fruit drink – it is literally pureed mango and all the goodness that comes with that statement. I give full credit to this concoction for curing me of a miserable fever I came down with in my third week in SF. Finally, this place is dirt cheap, perfect for poor college kids and everyone else in San Francisco who is fiscally impaled by the absurdity of their monthly rent bill.

Oh, and one last thing I swear, order extra avocado.

The beginning of a long and potentially fatal love affair.

2) 21st Amendment SOMA, SF

I’ll keep this short and sweet – 21st Amendment brews super good beer that I eventually realized you can buy at the Durham Whole Foods Market. I highly recommend Hell or High Watermelon.

3) That’s It MarketMission, SF

On the outside, That’s It Market looks like a small, run-down liquor store. But on the inside…oh, on the inside it is a sandwich haven. Surprising, right? And it doesn’t just sell any sandwich, no, it sells a monster, feed-you-for-weeks sandwich on steroids called the Cubana. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain, the Cubana’s got everything you thought you may ever want between two slices of bread…and so much more. It’s filled with chicken, pork, sausage, ham, beef, bacon, scrambled eggs, lettuce, tomato, avocado, mayonnaise, and cheese. I ordered this twice while I was in SF and was never able to eat more than a quarter of it, yet still felt as if I may undergo cardiac arrest by day’s end.

Heart attack on a plate. Mm, yum!

4) Humphrey SlocombeMission, SF

Just look at their flavors. I’ve had ‘Secret Breakfast.’ Can anyone guess what that may be?

Bourbon and cornflakes. A winning combination if I may say so myself.

Obviously most of these places are from my ‘home’ neighborhood where I spent my eight weeks in SF: the Mission District. Mission is a really interesting place, for a complete lack of better words, and if you are ever in San Francisco, I urge you to take the BART to 16th or 24th Street and explore. Fantastic food, Dolores Park, amazing murals ’round every corner you turn…Mission’s a cool place.

Now onto Boston, from which I’ll probably just post more restaurant escapades at a later date in time:

5) GrassfedJamaica Plain, Boston

I mean, c’mon, just look at this place’s website and you know Grassfed is…hipster. Don’t let that confuse you though, this is a burger place (for the vegans who have since tried a carnitas taco). It’s just that these burgers are outfitted in super obscure toppings like oysters and aioli. Honestly, get any burger from here and I betcha it’s going to be downright delectable. For fries, order the truffle-parm and no matter what time of day it is, you better get an adult milkshake (Hint: Salted Caramel).

Finally, from my brief hiatus in Montreal:

6) CommunionOld Montreal

The online reviews for Communion are subpar, but I thought my dinner there was absolutely divine. A few friends and I came here to celebrate the end of a wonderful summer, and Communion had the perfect ambiance in which to do so (outdoor seating right at the edge of Old Montreal). Before going, you should prepare to share as you order dishes for the table, not just yourself, and everything comes in a cast-iron skillet of sorts that you then serve yourself from. The menu is constantly changing, but Communion was a congenial place to convene before a night out and enjoy soulful, hearty food with great company.

The cozy atmosphere at Communion leaves you feeling comfortable enough to do things like this…

Cutty’s Sandwiches (Boston, MA)

Welcome to Cutty’s! The sandwiches you are about to see have been rated the best in Boston in 2011.

My brother Harrison and I enjoyed this here meal together.

Feast your eyes on the Roast Beef 1000. Slow-roasted beef, crispy shallots, 1000 Island dressing and sharp cheddar on brioche. This is the restaurant’s most popular sandwich, and the one I assume Guy Fieri from The Food Network ate when he visited in May, 2012, not long ago!

The other sandwich we tried was the daily special: a beef and cheddar melt with pickled onions, panini’d to perfection. It was absolutely delicious. Coupled with tomato soup, these sandwiches were incredibly good.

Cutty’s gets everything they make their sandwiches with from very specific places. Most of them are local, but some ingredients come as far as the Netharlands and Italy.

If you’re rolling through the Boston area, this is hands down the place to go for a world class sandwich.

Yours always,

Goalie Spoon

Hot & Cold (Nashville, TN)

After four long yet amazing days in Manchester, TN where I attended the annual Bonnaroo music festival, I stayed with a friend in Nashville, TN before my journey back to Massachusetts. Check out this delicious “Hot & Cold,” the famous dish which shares the name of this lovely Café.

Two shots of expresso poured over one scoop of vanilla bean ice cream make for a perfect Hot & Cold dish. If you’re looking for ice cream next time you roll through Nashville, Hot & Cold is definitely the place to go. They offer a great menu of tea and coffee drinks as well as many decadent ice cream flavors.

Love,

Goalie Spoon

Magnolia Grill… IS CLOSING?

Magnolia Grill in Durham is currently ranked #11 nationally by Gourmet Magazine. Unfortunately, the owners of Magnolia Grill have decided to hang it up. They’re looking to relocate to start an amazing new establishment elsewhere. Heartbreaking, I know.

I was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy these gorgeous dishes with one of by best friends, Amanda and her family. Thank you Jones’!

I’ll let these incredible dishes speak for themselves.

Don’t forget dessert!

Before Magnolia Grill closes (this is happening very soon), Goalie Spoon HIGHLY recommends that you try to visit for a walk in meal, ASAP!

Love always,

Goalie Spoon