Final Day In The Rockies & Dinner at The Kitchen (Boulder, CO)

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With our Paleo seminar duties out of the way, we drove to the nearest watering hole in Estes Park to guzzle gallons of NorCal Margaritas. Okay — not exactly. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the Paleo Police spied a half-dozen of us decompressing over plates of greasy Mexican food and sugary piña coladas. Even after Mel, Holly, and I had talked our heads off all day, we happily babbled away until we shut down the cantina.

After catching some Zs, we were ready to tackle our last full day in Colorado. We had grand plans for Henry's birthday: Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, blending in with the camera-wielding tourists at Elk Fest, eating our way through Boulder, and exploring the haunted hallways of the Stanley Hotel — the inspiration for the spooky Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

But we lost track of time at breakfast with Mel, Dave, and Holly (it was totally their fault for being so damned funny and interesting), and with only a few hours left to cram everything in, it was up to the birthday boy to pick the day’s activity.

What won out?

Ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel with the gang!

Although Henry’s been a fan of “The Shining” since he read it as a kid, the real reason he wanted to visit the Stanley Hotel is so he could impress our seven-year-old with “real-life” stories of hauntings. 

As you may recall, Big-O is obsessed with two things at the moment: Weird Al Yankovic and the macabre. (Remember the ghost tour he took in Seattle?) It’s truly heartwarming that he’s evolving into a weird little pop-culture-spouting nerd, just like his mom and pop.

Henry and I are the two of the biggest skeptics around — we know how Photoshop works — but we made like tape recorders ‘cause we knew our pint-sized ghostbuster would demand a complete debriefing. 

Besides, the hotel is genuinely creepy and unsettling, and I didn’t want to spoil the mood with open mockery. See? I’m not even smirking very much in this photo. I kept on my poker face Polka Face.

To make sure that no ghoul floated past our untrained mortal eyes, we took a zillion photos. From multiple angles. With flash. You know — just in case an orb could be captured in a shot. (In case you didn’t know, “orbs” are evidence of ghostly activity. They’re more commonly referred to as “lens flare” or “dust particles on the camera lens.”)

I think I see one, don’t you? I guess we gotta get our camera cleaned…

(By the way, the photo above shows the door to Room 217, where Stephen King stayed when he dreamt up “The Shining” — and the same room where the characters in the book encounter…something.)

After our spooky tour, we fiercely bear-hugged Holly goodbye as she dashed off to the airport. Ghost stories make me hungry, so Mel, Dave, and Henry, and I hoofed it over to the nearby Mountain Home Cafe for a hearty brunch. Yes, we had breakfast here just the other morning, but Mel and I intently studied the menu again as we waited to be seated. Food nerd habits are hard to break.

My lunch? A bunless grass fed cheeseburger topped with avocado and crisp bacon, accompanied by a side of crunchy sweet potato fries.

The four of us gabbed until the friendly staff gently nudged us out of their restaurant — which was already closed for the day. I love Mel and Dave. For some reason, I just can’t shut up when I’m with them.

So it was with great sadness that we parted ways after brunch. Henry and I had early dinner reservations at The Kitchen in Boulder — an hour’s drive away! — but we wanted to explore the Pearl Street Mall beforehand.

One of the coolest shops we wandered into was Peppercorn. How do I describe this place? It’s kind of like a Bed Bath and Beyond curated by your tasteful-but-crazy foodie hoarder aunt. As we browsed through the immense cookbook section (crammed with tons of Paleo books!), we unexpectedly bumped into Holly, who had taken an impromptu pitstop on the way to the airport. It was like finding another piece of chocolate at the bottom of your purse after thinking you’d eaten ‘em all — the best kind of kismet.

Of course, this meant we had to part ways again — more hugging ensued — before Henry and I headed to his birthday dinner at The Kitchen.

When I’d put out an APB on this blog for a great dining establishment in Boulder, the overwhelming vote was for The Kitchen. It’s a casual farm-to-table neighborhood restaurant with a world-class pedigree.

We were the first ones seated for dinner service, but as the sun sank in the sky, the place quickly filled up.

Look at my handsome birthday buddy!

The Kitchen’s all about feeding the community with fresh ingredients from local farms. 

For our meal, we decided to split a bunch of nibbles and starters and one entrée. We started with Devils on Horseback (balsamic-drizzled seared dates stuffed with cheese and wrapped in crispy speck)…

..prosciutto with cornichons and a tangy mustard…

…duck rillettes topped with a plum and cognac gelée…

…melon salad with lime, Fresno chili, basil, olive oil & black sea salt…

…grilled shrimp with tomatillo sauce and corn relish…

…roasted vegetables with spicy greens and harissa…

…and a grilled pork chop with wood-roasted plums and sprouts.

Throughout dinner, we did our best to hew close to the Paleo straight-and-narrow — until dessert.

We capped off Henry’s birthday dinner with a celebratory affogato and a flourless chocolate cake …

…that we filled with heavy whipping cream.

As we drove the winding mountain road back to Estes Park, a full moon peeked through the clouds, signaling an end to a fun and memorable weekend.

No lie: I’m already planning a return trip to Colorado next year.

Paleo Eats: 9/22/12

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Before I recap my chow for the day, I want to wish my dad a happy, happy birthday. I hope my two sons grow up to be just as righteous as my dad. Rock on, pops!

Plus, he has such a snappy sense of style — something that I sadly failed to inherit.

Back at the hospital, chaos reigned. I was almost too busy to eat my leftovers: meat from my beefy bone broth with Leon’s Miracle Sauce, cherry tomatoes, roasted eggplant, and broccoli.

As soon as I got home, I tumbled into bed. As much as I wish I could’ve attended Big-O’s blue belt ceremony in the morning, my eyes simply wouldn’t stay open.

While I snoozed the day away, the boys pinballed around Palo Alto with their dad, running errands and pretending the Arizona Cactus Garden on the Stanford campus was a hostile planet populated by aliens with sinus problems.

When I finally emerged from my bedroom in the early evening, we drove to Shalizaar — one of my parents’ favorite Persian joints — to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

As you can see from the photo above, Lil-O is a master procrastinator just like his mommy — he didn’t get around to making a birthday card for his grandpa until he was seated RIGHT NEXT TO THE BIRTHDAY BOY at the restaurant. Slick. 

The six of us started with a big salad with tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, feta, and dried dates (hold the croutons!)…

…and puréed grilled eggplant and garlic (kashk-e-bademjan).

After our appetites had been properly whetted, the meat parade began. Shalizaar is popular ‘round these parts among my meat-loving peoples (a.k.a. Asians) — so much so that Lil-O looked around at the other patrons and asked if we were at a Chinese restaurant.

We dug into a big braised lamb shank…

…and divvied up a couple of platters of combo meat platters.

Our plates were piled with grilled lamb chops and Cornish game hens…

…marinated prawns…

…and koobideh (seasoned ground beef kabobs).

We enjoyed everything with generous dollops of mast-o-khiar — yogurt mixed with dried mint and pepper, and topped with diced cucumber.

It would’ve been a perfect Saturday night…if I hadn’t had to pack up and drive off into the night for another graveyard shift. But hey — the bacon doesn’t pay for itself.

Dining Out: Pok Pok Noi (Portland, OR)

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I love filling my head with information about food writing, the business of blogging, and the intricacies of e-publishing as much as the next blogger…

…but being confined in a stuffy conference room for two days straight is making me downright batty.

A small pack of us happily broke away at lunchtime to chow at Pok Pok Noi (the smaller, abridged version of the original Pok Pok), located in a tree-lined nabe in Northeast Portland. Okay, who am I kidding? Every neighborhood here resembles a forest.

But when the five of us arrived at the restaurant, it turned out that only three of us were itching to eat at Pok Pok Noi; the other two wanted to dine at Grain & Gristle next door instead. Since food trumps friendship, we opted to split up and regroup post-meal. (Kidding — but not about spitting up to hit two different restaurants.)

Pok Pok Noi serves a dozen or so of the greatest hits from the regular Pok Pok menu, which was just fine by us. (As much as we love to eat, we weren’t likely to order more than 12 dishes.) By the way, Pok Pok is not Paleo AT ALL — the menu clearly states, “we use peanuts, shrimp, meat, eggs, sugar, salt, wheat & dairy products in our preparations” and makes clear that no substitutions are allowed. But this was one of those rare meals where I figured the indulgence would be worth any gastrointestinal consequences.

The three of us unanimously agreed that we wouldn’t be satisfied unless we ordered half the menu. While I sipped on a can of coconut water, the dishes came out in quick succession.

We shared Papaya Pok Pok — spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, tamarind, fish sauce, and peanuts (and yes, Paleo Police, I left the peanuts on the plate)…

…Muu Paa Kham Waan (grilled boar collar with a spicy chili lime garlic sauce), Neua Naam Tok (spicy flank steak “salad”)…

…and a platter of Ike’s Vietnamese Spicy Fish Sauce Wings.

These wings are legendary — and with good reason: crunchy, juicy, sweet, savory, and tangy. Again, not Paleo whatsoever, but sooooo worth it.

I had a terrific time sharing plates with my lunch companions, Lia (of Nourish Network fame) and Kat (author of the terrific and essential The Kitchen Counter Cooking School). When not immersed in conversation, we fed ourselves with our hands, murmuring about the amazing food. As Lia dumped her cleaned bones on the platter, she declared that the food at Pok Pok must be Paleo because we were all grunting like cavemen.

We were so caught up in licking our fingers and picking every last morsel of the platters that Kat was almost late for the writing workshop she was leading at IFBC.

The rest of my day was spent cooped up indoors as I absorbed as much as possible about improving the quality of my writing. My mission is to maximize the pithiness of my blog ramblings, yo. By the way, for a shining example of kickass food writing, check out my pal Cheryl’s prose on her award-winning blog. She’s my hero.

Me write pretty someday…hopefully!

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop (8/24/12)

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With limited time in Portland, I knew I had to start working my way through my gastronomic to-do list before the International Food Bloggers Conference began in earnest. 

First thing in the morning, Cheryl and I made a pilgrimage to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the coffee mecca of the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, my inability to read a map properly made our path to java nirvana more circuitous than anticipated. “SE” and “SW”? Greek to me. Maps confuse me with all their wiggly lines. I’d never flinch at eating scorpions or beef testicles, but I’m the kind of gal who’d finish last in The Amazing Race ’cause I can’t navigate worth a damn.

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Lynne was already waiting for us when we arrived. The smell of coffee at Stumptown was intoxicating — I perked up even before I spied the impressive array of coffee drinks and magazines available to all the hipster caffeine junkies who wander in.

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I ordered an espresso con panna, not realizing that the “panna” — cream — came in the form of canned whipped cream rather than as a splash of heavy cream. My bad. But it was still a fantastic cup of coffee.

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After properly caffeinating ourselves, we strolled around the neighborhood and quickly spotted a long line of people jonesin’ for fried sugary gluten at Voodoo Doughnut.

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I swear: if I’d been here just a couple of years ago, I would’ve totally camped out in line for a chance to munch on a few (dozen) doughnuts. Now? Not so much.

Lynne and Cheryl had to return to the hotel for their book signings, so I picked up my new friend Shaun to accompany me to the Cultured Caveman food cart. This was to be Shaun’s first foray into Paleo eating, and I had a feeling I’d picked the perfect spot.

In fact, I’d been eager to visit Joe and Heather, the owners of Cultured Caveman, for months — ever since I got wind of their Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of their business. Their video was charming and funny, and I was thrilled to participate in their fundraising efforts and spread the word about Portland’s very first Paleo food cart. I couldn’t wait to come to Portland so I could drop by for a meal. 

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Joe and Heather didn’t disappoint. The dynamic duo behind Cultured Caveman are exactly who I’d imagined them to be: warm, genuine, charismatic, smart, intrepid entrepreneurs. (Besides, they mentioned that a few of their menu items are actually based on my recipes, so how could I not love them? With me, flattery’ll get you everywhere!)

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Waiting at the food cart to join us for lunch was Kyra Bussanich, the beautiful and talented Paleo-eating, CrossFitting, gluten-free baker from Crave Bake Shop — and winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! How awesome was it that she hand-delivered a box of award-winning gluten-free treats for me to take home? (Honestly, I hope I can resist the urge to eat all the goodies before I return to the Bay Area.)

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And, of course, when my good buddy Diane Sanfilippo showed up, it was a super-Paleo party in Portland! (I think Oregon marks the fourth or fifth state in which I’ve hung out with Diane. Only forty-five left to go!)

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I was delighted to meet a number Joe’s and Heather’s fans, too. Clearly, the Cultured Caveman food cart is THE place to be if you’re a Paleo eater.

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And with good reason. The eats are superb.

I sampled as much food as I could cram into my mouth. I started with the crisp, flavorful coconut flour crusted chicken tenders fried in tallow…

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…the hearty bone broth…

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…the sweet and savory bacon wrapped dates and almonds…

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…(which, by the way, make perfect Paleo “croutons” for the colorful kale salad)…

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…and a side of rainbow fries served with homemade ketchup.

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For dessert, I inhaled a hot chocolate cupcake from Kyra. When I bit into this beauty, I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled into the back of my head.

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Even after two solid hours of food, laughter, and conversation, I didn’t want to leave. 

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But alas, it was time for me to head back to the conference, so we said our reluctant goodbyes.

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I really ought to have taken more photos of the remainder of my day. I should’ve taken snapshots at the presentations I attended, or at dinner with my new IFBC buddies. But I was tired, the lighting was dim, and our dinner was at Ned Ludd, where I’d just eaten and snapped a whole bunch of images the night before. So I decided to put the camera away for once, and just soaked it all in.

I did manage to take one more photo, though. To cap off a day of super Paleo power, here’s a shot of me and Chef Gregory Goudret at the Taste of Oregon and Gourmet Fair at IFBC: 

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He’s not just an award-winning chef. Chef Gourdet also happens to be a Paleo-eating, ultra-marathoning CrossFitter.

AND he’s been named Portland’s Hottest Chef of 2012.

Whoa.

Portlandia & Dinner at Ned Ludd (8/23/12)

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I should be elated to jet off to a food mecca like Portland, but the guilt is gnawing at me. The night before my solo trip, my normally stoic little boys went to bed with big tears rolling down their cheeks. Between choked sobs, they turned their puppy-dog eyes to me and demanded that I stay home. Ai-ya.

"Weird. They don’t seem to mind when I leave on business trips," my husband noted.

Heh-heh.

In the morning, I packed Big-O’s lunch for the last time this week and walked him to school. When the bell rang, I gave him a fierce mama bear hug and glumly trudged back home.

To make myself feel better, I reheated leftover pressure cooker kale and topped it with two fried eggs. Runny yolks and melt-in-your-mouth kale make the world a better place.

After Henry left for work, I tossed some clean laundry into a bag and caught a ride to the airport with my pops.

It’s been a while since I traveled all by my lonesome, and I have to say that getting through TSA lines and onto an airplane is sooooo much easier sans kids. Once I settled into my seat, I napped and ate a sampler pack of TX Bar Organics' new jerky. (Not at the same time, obviously.) I give it a big thumbs-up — it's savory, slightly-fruity, and sliced super-thin. Before I knew it, the plane had touched down.

Portland is just how I pictured it: a funkier, more hipster version of Seattle. As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I met up with Cheryl, my pal and author of one of my favorite cookbooks. We strolled around our hotel and came across…nothing. Sadly, our hotel appears to be located in a culture-free zone; there’s no local flavor or interesting spots to hit — unless you’re a big fan of Quizno’s or Sears. No matter — Cheryl and I had a fine time chitchatting and catching up.

At dinnertime, we ventured to Ned Ludd, an “American Craft Kitchen” owned by the super-smiley, heavily-tatted Jason French. (Seriously: I love that his arms are covered with food-related ink, including an artichoke and a meat grinder.) What’s amazing about Ned Ludd is that Jason turns out remarkable meals equipped with just a two-burner hot plate, a steam table, a small alto-shaam, and a wood-fired oven. That takes some mad skills.

The dinner was hosted by Cheryl and Lynne Curry (author of Pure Beef), and we were joined by a group of gals well-versed in the Portland food scene: Ivy ManningMartha Holmberg, Lisa Hill, and Brittany Wilmes.

Chef Jason sent out a complimentary starter of carpaccio in Lynne’s honor. Her cookbook is a fantastic resource on how to tackle EVERY cut of grass fed beef.

Then, we each picked a dish from the Bits menu that we shared family-style. My two favorites included the spicy charred brassicas with chili conserve and boquerones…

…and the pork “noodles” with bacon, chanterelles, tomatoes, and parmesan. Yes folks, these were silky and soft “noodles” made from pork skin. Amazingly tender and unctuous.

For my main dish, I ordered the whole roasted trout with Walla Walla onions, cucumbers, and salad greens.

Throughout the dinner, Chef Jason came out to chat and even brought over a tin of locally-sourced Jacobsen Salt when one of the ladies requested salt.

Lots of lively conversation and advice. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to get to know these ladies, and to learn from their experiences as food writers and professionals.

Can’t wait for the rest of the weekend!

Last Day in Massachusetts & Neptune Oyster (8/12/12)

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Our last day at Clark Farm started just like the others, with an egg-ceptional breakfast! (Punny, right? RIGHT?!? Actually, I hate puns.)

I already miss my daily meal of farm-fresh eggs, kraut, and sausages.

We begrudgingly crammed our belongings into our luggage while wistfully peeking out the windows at the peaceful tableau outside.

Meanwhile, the kids conspired to hide the Double-Os. Our boys had no qualms about missing our flight home. “I’m going to stay here forever,” Lil-O insisted. And he meant it. Hence the uncooperative face in this farewell photo:

But it was time to go. With heavy hearts, we piled into the car and headed for Boston to spend our final afternoon in the big city. We arrived in the North End at noon…

…and made a beeline over to Neptune Oyster for lunch.

This tiny, unassuming raw bar and seafood restaurant was a welcome oasis in a cluster of kitschy Italian tourist traps. 

I know we should’ve slurped up a bunch of shooters, but instead, we shared a “Tuna Ribbons” salad with raw ahi, potato aioli, olives, capers, boiled egg, and green beans…

…a lobster, mozzarella, and tomato salad…

…and seared striped bass over ratatouille.

Everything was fresh and meticulously prepared. Definitely one of my favorite meals in Massachusetts.

After lunch, we acted like typical bumbling camera-toting tourists (which we are) as we meandered along the Freedom Trail

…and wandered over to Faneuil Hall

…to witness America’s NEXT! MILLION! DOLLAR! ACT! 

Every time the Double-Os spot a street performer, they mercilessly judge the act like mini Howard Sterns on America’s Got Talent. (My heart bursts with pride.) According to my boys, this fellow was entertaining, but he did not have what it takes to fill a Vegas theater with clambering fans. “It was good, but was it a million dollar act?” asked Big-O. He answered his own question with a firm “No.”

In the late afternoon, we finally arrived at Logan Airport where the boys downed some sushi for dinner before we boarded the plane.

And that, my friends, is the end of my interminable presentation of What I Did On Summer Vacation. You can wake up now.

Tomorrow, it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming of daily eats — which means it’s back to cold food for me. Have I told you how nice it’s been not to have to take photos of everything that goes in my mouth this week? But for you, I’ll dust off the camera again — at least until I get sick of blogging.

A Day at the Beach & Dinner at Woodman’s of Essex, MA)

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Oh, how I miss being in the country. The beauty of Clark Farm is unparalleled, don’t you think?

Last Sunday started at the crack of dawn, when the roosters started crowing and the boys barreled down the stairs like a herd of buffalo.With AHS ‘12 in the books, Henry and I finally had time to hang out on the farm with the Rodgers family. 

We were expecting Bill, Hayley, and Diane to pop by for brunch later in the morning, but I was too hungry to wait four hours to eat. For my first meal of the day, I fixed myself a rolled omelet with farm-fresh eggs, sauerkraut, sautéed greens, and a slice of cantaloupe. 

(Now that I’m back home, none of the “farm-fresh” pastured eggs I’ve purchased locally come even CLOSE to holding a candle to the pert bright orange yolks and thick albumen of Clark Farm eggs.)

By the time our pals arrived mid-morning, I was ready to eat again. Breakfast Part Two!

Diana baked trays of wild boar bacon…

…fried venison sausage…

…and sizzled some eggs in butter.

She also picked some Japanese eggplant from their garden…

…that were tossed in coconut oil before spending a short stint in a hot oven.

Mmm…mmm…good.

Once our bellies were full, we all trudged outdoors for a guided tour of the grounds and the animals.

Bill got up close and personal with the piggies that foraged in the shrubs.

Farmer Andrew spent his day off teaching a bunch of city slickers how he raises the food we eat.

Before heading back to the farmhouse…

 …we stopped by the mobile hen coop to gather more eggs.

Before long, it was time for Bill, Hayley, and Diane to head home, so we said our goodbyes.

Our plan for the rest of the day was to soak up some rays at Crane Beach. First, we stopped at a local Whole Foods…

…and picked up some meat and vegetables at the deli counter.

And then it was off to the beach to splash in the surf for hours.

The weather was gorgeous and the waves were gentle. At the end of the day, we managed to haul back a haf-dozen pails of seaweed and sea shells for the farm animals. Andrew told us that the hens peck the calcium-packed shells, which makes their egg shells harder. And the seaweed provides a natural source of iodine for the animals. Who’da thunk it?

The farmer’s walks (for realz!) on the beach made me hungry. For dinner, we drove over to Essex to inhale platters of seafood at a local spot called Woodman’s — the birthplace of the fried claim! — that’s been in business for almost a century.

A big plus: With just a few exceptions, all the menu items are gluten free.

Yes, I know that “gluten free” doesn’t mean “Paleo-compliant,” but I never said I was Paleo perfect. Besides, you know the saying: When in Essex, get the “Down River Combo” — a pile of crunchy fried clams, shrimp, scallops, and fish.

The gigantic plate of fried seafood also comes with a side of cole slaw and your choice of fries or onion rings. I opted to sub sweet potato fries for a small upcharge.

Crunchy, moist, and tasting of the sea.

We also shared some steamers…

…and Diana showed us the proper way to devour ‘em.

Butter makes everything taste better, no matter how ugly or phallic.

It was the perfect end to an exhausting, fun-filled day at the beach.

Only one more day of East Coast eats remaining!

AHS ‘12 Day Three & Dinner at Bondir (8/11/12)

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The one awesome thing about being totally behind on my daily posts? I can take a breather from photographing my eats this week. And that means I can eat quick, ugly, hot meals! Huzzah!

Now, let’s climb into the DeLorean and activate the flux capacitor.

Last Saturday in Carlisle, Massachusetts, we all woke up groggy, having stayed up waaay past our bedtimes frolicking at the previous night’s Sustainable Dish Farm Dinner. Nothing that a big mug of java and a plate of sausage and homemade ‘kraut couldn’t fix, though.

We zoomed in from the ‘burbs with our new friend Hilary to catch the tail end of Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson's Paleo Q & A…

…but not before stopping by the reception area to snag a box of truffles and a steaming latte from Bolt Coffee Company.

A few sessions later, we headed over to another building for a catered lunch from B. Good Burger, a local chain offering grass fed burgers. We piled our plates with meat patties, greens, tomatoes, sweet potato fries, pickles, and guacamole.

I pleasantly surprised by the quality of the catered conference eats, but everyone I spoke with at AHS who’s been to a Weston A. Price conference told me that I ain’t seen nothing yet. Is it wrong that I’m attending the 2012 Wise Traditions conference this fall mostly so I can pig out at the promised smorgasbord?

After lunch, we attended the afternoon sessions and tweeted until our thumbs went numb.

Eventually, I took a breather in the vendor area and hung out with some of my favorite Paleo foodies, including Cindy and Dusty, Diane, Bill and Hayley, Sean (the Bacon Pizza guy!) and Suzanne, Laura, Diana, and Charissa.

We wandered back into the lecture hall to soak in Denise Minger's funny and informative presentation about meat. Her slide depicting a baby-eating bunny rabbit will haunt my dreams for years to come.

Once we’d bid our friends adieu…

Diana, Henry, and I hightailed it to Bondir, a cozy Cambridge restaurant that features sustainable modern American cuisine.

After spending the day working on his farm, minding the kids, and herding them all to Kimball Farm for an afternoon of bumper-boat rides, Andrew met us at the restaurant. I’d been eagerly anticipating this meal — it’s a rare treat to be able to indulge in adult eats and conversation.

Each of the items on Bondir’s menu can be ordered either as a small appetizer or a full-sized entrée. Because I’m a piggy, I chose three small dishes and forced Henry to do the same so we could try a bunch of items. 

We shared handmade burrata served with field tomato, melon terrine and sumac granité, purslane, pickled green cucumber, garden cucumber, and confit lemon vinaigrette…

…Scituate lobster bisque filled with butter-poached lobster, potatoes Lyonnais, and chili oil…

…Maine sardine and Manila clam escabechen with kombu, cured olives, fingerling potatoes, and roasted clamato purée…

…and Scituate scallops accompanied by baby squash, fairytale eggplant, and cipollini onions, smoked Mangalitsa pancetta, and burnt eggplant purée.

For our last dish, we all ordered his ‘n hers Vermont Wagyu beef shank accompanied by carrots Salardaises, pea greens, and red wine glaze.

Diana and I split the desserts: lychee sorbet, maple almond ice cream, and juniper sorbet…

…and lemongrass chocolate panna cotta, bitter orange mostarda, Angelica gel, cocoa nibs and pistachio.

Sure, the desserts weren’t exactly Paleo, but it was a sweet end to a busy day.

Paleo Eats: 8/7/12 (One Lucky Duck, Shake Shack, & Birreria in NYC)

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Since arriving in NYC, we’ve had meal after meal after meal after meal of meat, so we woke up craving vegetables somethin’ fierce. After researching nearby options, we trudged over to One Lucky Duck, a shoebox-sized raw vegan take-out place just a block from our hotel. 

You read that right: RAW VEGAN. Hear me out before you run away screaming.

We split an enormous pumpkin seed and herb salad (greens, kale, parsley, cilantro, mint, hemp seeds, pumpkin seed macadamia parmesan, pumpkin seed lemon dressing)…

 

…and a zucchini and tomato lasagna which was layered with sun-dried tomato sauce, pistachio basil pesto, and pumpkin seed macadamia ricotta.

We closed out the meal by sharing a couple of raw, vegan “Oreo” cookies.

Yes, I know about the whole cooked-versus-raw debate, and the price tag at One Lucky Duck was kinda hefty, but we loved the fresh, organic, well-seasoned vegetables and treats. I’ll admit that I was kind of nervous that the servers would smell the charred meat emanating from my pores, but all in all, it was a great meal packed with loads of nutrients.

Next, we hopped in a taxi that took us to the American Museum of Natural History.

In all my visits to NYC (without kids), I never even considered visiting this museum, but it was suggested by many parents as THE best place to take the kiddos, so we happily sacrificed an entire day roaming the halls. The museum’s HUGE and the taxidermic animal displays are both kitschy and awesome.

Both kids were dashing from exhibit to exhibit and wildly gesturing for us to come look at EVERYTHING.

Before we knew it, our stomachs started grumbling. Lunchtime!

We weren’t in the mood for subpar, over-priced sandwiches and chips in the museum café, so we hoofed it across the street to Shake Shack.

I love this location on the Upper West Side — efficient lines and lots of indoor seating.

My husband and I each ordered a bunless double hamburger with extra bacon while the kids ate hot dogs.

Cheap, quick, and tasty. Dare I say that I prefer it to In-N-Out? 

We wandered back to the museum in the afternoon and spent time chilling in the IMAX theater and planetarium. (I may have even caught some shuteye during the shows.)

By dinnertime, we were ready to go outside and enjoy a meal al fresco. Lucky for us, my cousin Jennifer had made us reservations at Eataly's rooftop beer garden, Birreria.

I’d asked Jennifer to pick a place that offered a good balance of meat and vegetables, and she told me Birreria fit the bill. She even pointed out that the menu has a subheading for “Funghi” that would appeal to the mushroom-lover in me.

For appetizers, we all split a plate of coppa (cured pork shoulder)…

…and three ‘shroom-centric starters: Pleuroti (seared King Oyster mushrooms with spigarello broccoli, soft poached egg and truffle vinaigrette)…

…Maitake con Pecorino sardo (whole roasted Maitake mushrooms with sugar snap peas, pea greens and lemon vinaigrette)…

…and grilled portobello mushrooms with nectarines, balsamic onions and local greens.

Umami cubed.

Then, we split the Cotechino, an Emilia Romagna inspired pork sausage served with local kraut and mustard seed…

…and grilled lamb chops over a bed of fried artichokes and green beans.

We were still making up for lost vegetables, so we also shared two contorni: spicy broccoli…

…and roasted baby carrots.

After dinner, we meandered up and down the aisles of Eataly…

…admiring all the unusual and hard-to-find Italian delicacies.

And because it was our last night in NYC and I wanted a treat, I forced everyone to track down the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

I’m a sucker for soft serve and I wouldn’t leave New York before trying a cone-less Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip).

A tad sweet for my Paleo taste buds, but I polished it off lickety-split as the sun went down.

Back at the hotel, I balled up my clothes and threw them in the luggage while humming Empire State of Mind to myself, and thinking of all the restaurants I didn’t have time to hit this time. Bareburger, I’ll see you when I’m next back in Gotham.

Watch out, Boston — I’m coming to eat you up!

Paleo Eats: 8/6/12 (The Breslin & Minetta Tavern in NYC)

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This morning, we woke up late and headed over to The Breslin to devour another meat-centric meal.

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We’ve eaten in this dimly-lit, saloon-like restaurant in the Ace Hotel before, and from past experience, we’ve detected some surliness from the staffers. Nonetheless, the breakfast at the Breslin may be my favorite in the city.

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If you order the full English breakfast (fried eggs, blood sausage, bacon, pork sausage, roasted mushrooms, and tomato)…

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…and fried eggs and skirt steak with tomatillo sauce…

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…no substitutions are needed to make it Paleo.  

The kiddos ate a side of scrambled eggs (which are whipped with milk)…

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…and thinly-sliced, house-cured bacon.

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After we stuffed our bellies with protein and fat, we spent the rest of our day waddling around lower Manhattan.

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The one spot I had to check out was Korin, a restaurant supply store that specializes in Japanese knives.

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A while back, one of my readers (Hello, Randall!) offered constructive feedback on my knife collection:

As someone who has a lot of really cool cooking tools (you, not me), allow me to tell you how appalled I am that your kitchen tools section purports you as using Wustof knives. Ewww, yuck. There is a store here in Gotham that you may or may not have heard of: Korin.

Randall’s right. I have a couple of Japanese knives, but overall, my collection does suck — or at least could use some enhancements — and I was more than happy to wander around Korin and drool over each and every Japanese-made blade.

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After consulting with one of the experts at Korin, I settled on this Western-style knife.

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I decided against getting a pure carbon blade because I’m too busy to give it the TLC it would require, without which it would rust. It’s not like I have a knife master at the ready to mend my knives, so I settled for a blade made with a steel alloy. (My apologies, Randall.)

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Afterwards, we took a peek at the construction zone surrounding One World Trade Center…

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and wandered back up to SoHo.

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In the evening, the four of us stopped at Minetta Tavern for dinner.

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I’ve been dying to try the restaurant’s Black Label burger, which is famous for both its price tag and the secret blend of dry-aged Angus delivered daily by Pat LaFrieda. You can read about how the chefs lovingly prepare this burger here.

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We started off with sardines, pickled ramps, and egg salad…

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…and a tomato, cucumber, and feta salad.

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We ended with burger and fries.

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Don’t fret! I didn’t eat the bun and I left most of the fries (which are fried in peanut oil).

How was it? Soooo beefy and juicy, with just the perfect accent of sweetened grilled onions.

We walked back to our hotel, stopping only once at the Strand to check out books…

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…and pose as super heroes.

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Oof. Three days in NYC and I’ve already overdosed on meat. I’ve been such a Paleo cliché, eating meal after meal of meat, meat, meat. Regular readers know that I normally ingest lots of vegetables, but if you only started tuning in a few days ago, you’d think that my diet consists of nothing but animal flesh. I really need to get back to eating my veggies…starting tomorrow.