Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reversible Type

I was reading this month's issue of Wired with a friend when we came across a small piece on Ambigrams, a new trend in typography that involves lettering which can be flipped and reversed while maintaining its message. Here's an example that I really like:

As cool a concept as this is, Ambigrams have been largely contained within the graffiti style, sticking to street lettering (perhaps a bit more flexible to work with). I'm looking forward to seeing how Ambigrams are used creatively for design purposes--and in different styles, perhaps more modern and glam. I can see restaurants using them creatively on interesting menus, and this site has started combining couples' names into a single Ambigram which has some interesting potential as well. Call it an early trend-spot, but I have a feeling these will become a bit more mainstream in the months ahead.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Budget Finds: Scarpetta Special

It takes a special occasion for me to break the Budget Finds $25 budget, but today that occasion takes the shape of Scarpetta's 1 Year Anniversary. For those of you who don't spend your whole day reading food news, Scarpetta is one of NYC's biggest, most recognized, most sought-after restaurants of 2008--and even a year later, its tables are often fully booked a month in advance. However, it seems a few lucky diners may be able to score a table next week, from May 4-8, when Scarpetta will be celebrating its first birthday with a special $50 4-course menu with wine pairings. If Restaurant Week is supposed to be a budget find, think about it this way: for $15 extra, you get an extra full course and four glasses of wine. I'm thinking that in itself is good cause for celebration.

Make your reservation (with an open mind for late dinners, of course) by calling 212-691-0555. (Ask nicely and make sweet conversation as I did to shoot for better seatings!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Link of the Day

There may have been confusion recently about why Ruth Reichl (personal hero and editrex of Gourmet) had been dressed up as Gene Simmons at the Four Seasons a few weeks ago, but all that was cleared up today when the eds at the glorified food pub released this quirky little video. Whether they're trying to appeal to a younger crowd or simply trying to get a few laughs, I'm not sure. But this is too great not to share with all you!

I'm not able to embed the video here, but hit this little link to see the 2 minute clip--it's a good laugh, foodie or not.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recipe Lust -- Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Didja miss me? It's been a few days... and I'm sorry! Coming down with nasty head colds really takes away Red's appetite. But thankfully that's been restored over the short little break. Given the weather (topping 90 before May??), I think everyone's thinking about ice cream, but I'm thinking about something a little different--Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes! No recipe here, just a pretty picture and some tasty ideas for you to play with this beautiful spring week...

To make your own, whip up your favorite cake batter and pour it into flat-bottomed cones. Bake as usual, and frost! I'm thinking red velvet with raspberry-laced creamcheese icing and dusting of cocoa or vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream and sprinkles. What can I say? I've got berries on my mind. But be warned--you won't want to fill those cones all the way or they'll spill over!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Budget Finds: Eco-Friendly Aluminum Water Bottles

Every day, one of the first things I do when I get to the office is refill my 1L Poland Springs water bottle and plop it on my desk, with every intention of finishing it by noon. While my coworkers tend to buy new bottles on a near daily basis, mine is reused over and over again--up until the point that the label starts falling off and the poor thing can no longer withstand my constant use. Seeing as that it's Earth Day, I'm thinking about taking my recycling to the next step--eliminating the damn plastic thing for once and for all (and hopefully convincing my coworkers to do the same).

These aluminum bottles from SIGG are designed with both aesthetic and functionality in mind, but they're at the very top of my Budget Finds price range, clocking in at 21.99 for 0.6L bottles and $24.99 for 1L ones.

Though the SIGG ones are really quite beautiful, this one from Muji does the trick just fine at a far cheaper price--just under $6.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Stuff!

Good morning, readers! I wanted to get to you bright and early today to make sure you could take advantage of two treats that spring is bearing! Starting at noon at most locations today, Ben and Jerry's will be giving away a free scoop of ice cream! Dunkin Donuts, too, is in on the fun, with 50-cent iced coffee day! Notice the exclamation marks people, this is big news. Enjoy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recipe Lust -- Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou

With the sudden arrival (and equally sudden, albeit fleeting, disappearing) of Spring, the food media has bombarded me with things that I should be excited about: RAMPS! RAMPS! RAMPS!

But there's something else I'm really eager to play with--something I've been thinking about since Carla's highest moment of accomplishment on Top Chef last season--fresh peas.

This recipe makes great use of our newly arrived spring vegetable du jour, and seeing as that I still haven't eaten pasta since Passover, this may be due its turn in my kitchen sometime real soon.

Click here for a beautiful springy recipe for Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou and Sweet Peas, but be warned--you might end up hungry!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Design Porn: Treeprints by Bryan Nash

I'm absolutely head over heels in crazy love with these prints by artist Bryan Nash. With a huge respect for printmaking cultivated by years in the shop, I'm fascinated by Nash's ability to preserve a dead tree through art--and such striking art at that. The connection between the rings of the tree and fingerprints and printmaking--never two of the same, all intricate lines--are absolutely fascinating to me and are exactly the kinds of traits that I think make pieces most special. It's a steep price ($4,000) for one of 12 prints (a very limited edition indeed!) but if I had the money to throw around, I'd do it in a heartbeat. After all, every single ring of the tree needs to be imprinted by hand--and getting a print this complicated to look this clean is no small feat.

On that note, enjoy the beautifully springy weekend! I sure will!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dining in the Sky

If you remember, I blogged about treetop dining a few months ago--those treehouse-style dining rooms were pretty fantastic, but similar as this new concept is, this is downright weird. An international "chain" concept currently making its US debut in Las Vegas and FL, Dinner in the Sky isn't about airplane food--it's about eating a meal while suspended in mid air. Strapped into your seat, which is connected to the table, you're whisked up to an altitude of 150 ft. by a standard crane, where you're meant to enjoy your meal (and whatever sights may surround you). How this works for the kitchen, I don't know, but I'm guessing that this isn't really meant to be a culinary experience as much as it is meant to be a bragging right. If you ask me, it looks like a pretty strange gimmick, but it's definitely something different for the food world.

See more here, and leave me your thoughts!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Budget Finds: New Kam Man Dumplings

As Passover nears its end, I'm thinking about all the starches that I'm missing and craving. With a friend coming into town this weekend, it's the perfect time to plan a trip for some quality dim sum. Needless to say, I've got dumplings on my mind. That's why today's Budget Finds is all about cheap, cheap Chinese. Because, of course, sometimes the cheap stuff is the best stuff!

I've been hearing particularly good things about the frozen dumplings over at New Kam Man Food, a fairly prominent Asian grocer in Chinatown located at 200 Canal St. (at Mulberry). For just $9.95 you get 50 dumplings, and if you have a normally sized appetite then you should be able to get 5 meals out of that for $2 apiece. Is that a budget find or what?

PS. Thank you, NYMag, for supplying images in times of need!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Geek or Chic? Calendar Tape

My most recent Geek or Chic--the twittering plants--came to some very mixed reviews, with many writing in to express simultaneous amusement of the concept and dismay at the exceedingly ridiculous $100 pricetag. However, today's Geek or Chic rings in at a budget friendly $12 for ultra organizational power!

A rather clever little invention, this calendar tape comes in two rolls--one for days and one for dates. Aligned to create an accurate calendar, they can be stuck onto basically any surface, such as notebooks, planners, refrigerators, recipe books, or even perishable goods. $12 buys both rolls of tape and a smudge-proof marker, which definitely isn't bad, but I'm not 100% sold on the aesthetic here. A customizable color palette (I'm thinking neon pink or turquoise) would be a nice future feature, but for now, what do you say? Geek or Chic?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Enough to Eat... Again! -- Mom's Cauliflower Cake

When I hosted a small Passover Seder in my apartment last week, I had a last minute mixup that I really should have expected. No matter how much you plan (even if you have a schedule set up three weeks in advance!) it's impossible to cater an event without a hitch. Mine was a general lack of kosher for passover egg noodles, which threw off my attempt to make Passover kugel, a yearly favorite. But at the end of the day, kugel without noodles is, well, nothing, so I had to resort to a quick and easy alternative. After a quick call to my ever resourceful mom, I decided to make what's known in my family as "Cauliflower Cake." It was a great decision--it was ready in no time, cost hardly anything, and disappeared before I could remember to take a photo. Had there been leftovers, I gladly would have eaten them again and again.

Mom's Cauliflower Cake

What You'll Need

1 head of cauliflower (or 1 large bag frozen)......... $2.00
1 block of mozzarella cheese, shredded................. $3.00
1/4 fresh paremsan................................................ $1.50
2 eggs...................................................................... $0.50
Salt and pepper to taste
Total Cost.................................................. $7.00
Note: This fed eight as a side dish, but it would easily make two to three full vegetarian meals!
Total Cost per Meal................................... $2.33

What You Do

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using fresh cauliflower, cut stems and discard, leaving just the little florets. Place florets, frozen or fresh, in boiling water until they are soft, about 8 minutes.

2. Strain and transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and add two eggs. Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray, and use about half the cauliflower to create a first layer. Cover with half the shredded mozzarella, and repeat. Top with parmesan and place in preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes or until golden on top. Enjoy!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Food Porn

Before I go too far, let me explain: I'd gotten real sick of the whole pork belly/bacon overload in food media for a while, and then, all of the sudden, it all came back to me. I realized the reason why I'd initially been part of the bacon afficionados club, and why it's still going strong--bacon is freaking tasty. And cheap. Especially the Niman Applewood Smoked Bacon that I had for dinner with eggs last night (don't judge me--it's Passover!). And the more you eat it, the more you want it. Beware--it's dangerous.

Anyhow, today's food porn is courtesy of Apartment Therapy--these bacon wrapped potato bites make optimal use of several ingredients that are waiting in my fridge, and I think it's in good order that I try these myself. For some extra fun, check out this article on new Ikea kitchen treats--it's like a budget find and decor porn thrown into one!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Link of the Day

After yesterday's Seder, Red is feeling le tired. To keep it brief today, I found this fun little link for those of you interested in dining deals around the city. $30 all you can eat BBQ and $35 omakases and four course meals abound, so look closely! There's something for nearly everyone and the list can be found here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Budget Finds: Inflatable Art

Since last fall, I've been really craving some artwork to go on my one white wall. I'll clarify--I don't actually want artwork. I want frames. I want empty, beautiful frames. But in an effort to conserve funds, I decided to buy some brown mural paper that I could draw on, cut out, and put up in interesting arrangements. A constant fan of paper art (shock? I think not.), it seemed like the ideal route. Here's another idea from Fred Flare, though. This inflatable frame/masterpiece screams silly summer chic, and at just $4.99, I'm totally digging it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

DIY Madness--Seder Plate

I promised you a late post tonight, but I didn't think it would be this late! Anyhow, I've spent the last few days cooking tirelessly for what I hope will be a beautiful Passover Seder tomorrow, and it occurred to me early on that I couldn't cook up some specific Passover essentials--namely, the Seder Plate and Elijah's Cup. One of those is being solved in a comical way (who said Elijah can't drink out of a Tiki Cup?) but the other required a real simple DIY project.

Cut up a cardboard box, wrap it in some foil, and glue on some cutouts, and you've got a basic Seder Plate. The aluminum tart trays finish it off at a mere $0.29 apiece, and I'm pretty happy with the final product, even if it reminds me of a grade school project!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recipe Lust -- Carb Overload

I'm back and in full motion, and thinking a whole lot about Passover as I'm throwing a Seder this Wednesday. With so much matzo-infused thinking, I can't help but overload on carbs to prepare for the week of flourless eating ahead. I have lots of pasta to kill, and this is a pretty ideal way to do just that:

This recipe from Bon Appetit for Pasta with Favas, Tomato, and Sausage hits the carb-happy notes as well as the springy and hearty ones. Get the recipe right here. Happy pre-Passover!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

From the Management

Dear Readers,

Red is away attending to a family emergency and is unable to post until Monday. Please forgive her, and keep her family in your thoughts. Thanks!

Until Monday,
Your Neighborhood Blogger

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Budget Finds: Three Buck Bites

As much as I'm not a huge fan of Citysearch's layout and functionality, they recently debuted a sister site that I'm digging on all accounts--design definitely included. It's called Three Buck Bites, and it's devoted to scouring the cheapest eats around the country--all under $3.99. The things people find are pretty impressive, such as today's homepage hit of 16 dumplings for$3.99 in Texas, or four ribs and a side salad for just as much in CA. No matter where in the country you might be, there's likely something you can try--if you're up for it, of course!

Click here to explore the site and contribute your own cheap eats.

Link of the Day -- April Fools?

I stumbled upon this article this morning and got quite the laugh. Then I made a double take--is this for real? April Fools? I'm not sure, actually! Either way, I thought it would provide some quality humor to kick off the day.

Headline: Mothers Against Drunkenly Driving a Motorized Barstool

PS. Stay posted for a fun foodie-related Budget Finds coming up later today!