Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And the fish rolled by.

The fair isle of Maui boasted loads of delicious food, as well as some quirky new eats that I cannot necessarily describe as fine dining, but I can certainly describe as entertaining. One of these was the Genki Sushi we stumbled upon in a Maui outdoor shopping mall, in a time of immense hunger. We were originally aiming for Maui's #1 rated Thai restaurant (also located in said outdoor shopping mall), but missed their lunch service by about 15 minutes. Despondent and starving, we rounded the corner to find the Genki Sushi, a quirky little place that looked much like a diner, except that every vinyl-seated booth was next to a conveyor belt that cruised by slowly with plates of sushi and other Asian-inspired delicacies.

As I mentioned, we were starving, and never have I seen so many hands flying around the table whipping little plates of California rolls and tuna poke rolls and fried calamari from the moving sushi bar. Almost as quickly as the plates hit the table, the tiny treats were shoveled into mouths via wooden chopsticks, and multi-colored plates stacked to make room for more conveyor belt fair. You see, each plate's color indicated the price of the dish, anywhere from $1.50 to $4. At the end of the meal our table's refuse was tallied for the final bill. The variety was impressive, even if the knife skills and culinary creativity was not. There were little fried ebis (shrimp), deep fried apple slices with dipping sauce, and even rolls of rice and corn wrapped in seaweed. In fact, I am pretty sure I saw a mayonnaise and macaroni salad roll glide past me, which I suppose makes sense, as macaroni salad is a Hawaiian staple served alongside the kalua pig at traditional beach side barbecue joints. While I did not see the mythological Spam sushi Hawaii is known for, I nonetheless believe it exists somewhere in the backrooms of the Genki Sushi, waiting for a conveyor belt convert to grab it from the line.

As you can see from the images, event the wasabi trolled around the room on the conveyor belt, waiting for the next hungry group to rescue it from under the sneeze guard and stabilize it's position on a table for a short time. Eventually the wasabi would rejoin the untouched plates on the moving belt and resume its transient journey from booth to booth on its way to the next hungry eaters. Genki Sushi was a sight to behold, even if the sushi itself may not have been memorable, the "service" certainly was.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dear Maui...

Dear Maui,

I miss you already. So much so that tonight, upon arriving home from the airport, I ate a dinner of pineapple mango salsa with tortilla chips, pizza with pineapple and pepperoni, and a coconut frozen fruit bar for dessert. But it wasn't the same away from you. I long for the day we meet again, so I can feel your gentle sea breeze in my hair, caress you warm sandy beaches with my toes, and gaze out endlessly at your deep blue seas. We are meant for each other.

Until we meet again, I am yours.

Sincerely yours,

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Strawberry Shortcake tradition lives.

Growing up, once every spring my sisters and I would be called to dinner to find heaping plates of strawberry shortcake being served... and it was DINNER. Not a snack, not dessert, but a whole heaping plate of strawberry shortcake as the entree of the night. It was the best night of the year!

Now, Sam and I keep the tradition alive in our own house. I brought the tradition back shortly after college, first with Sam and our friend Will, when years ago we each ate a strawberry shortcake the size of dinner plates until we were so full we all laid on the apartment floor moaning. Now, we serve the sweet treat dinner once a year to our faithful dinner club. Of course, Casey is deathly allergic to strawberries, so she usually gets blackberry shortcake.

I won't lie, shortcake for dinner is not for the faint of heart (or rather faint of stomach), but only for the hearty who can handle a large quantity of sweet, fatty, tastiness the size of a doubled patty hamburger, but without any meat and potatoes as a starting act. In my earlier years I used the great Bisquick boxed shortbread mix, but these days I have found an even better from scratch alternative. This recipe is sweet but not cloying, and the citrus really perks up the berries. For six dinner portions, I doubled the recipe and formed teh dough into six large, handformed biscuits. They took about 30 minuts to bake, and they were so big nobody could finish. But of course the gluttenous excess is part of the charm of this dinner, so don't decrease the biscuit size too much!

I also douse my strawberries with some Grand Marnier for extra citrus flavor. A little liquor really emboldens the flavor of the berries and makes the juicy and sweet. And of course the whipped cream must be only lightly sugared, adn always, ALWAYS the real deal. No canned or tubbed whipped cream will do.

Since strawberry season is in full force, with berries on special at every market for only a few bucks per clam shell, I highly recommend you surprise your families with your own shortcake dinner this evening. I promise it will become a tradtion you want to carry forth.

Lemon Shortcake - for Strawberry Shortcakes
Epicurious | August 2006

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into chunks
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream, plus more for brushing
  • Finely grated zest from one lemon
  • Finely grated zest from one orange

In large bowl, sift together all-purpose and cake flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use pastry cutter or fork to blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk and cream, then whisk in lemon zest. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture, stirring with fork just until dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently just until dough holds together, about 10 turns. Place dough on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On floured work surface, pat out dough to 1/2-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch cutter, cut out biscuits. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet, brush lightly with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More napkins, mostly Vera.

I am a napkin purchasing fiend. Of course, it is all in the name of true love and a lovely wedding-to-be. As you may remember from a few weeks ago, I am in need of 150+ Vera Neumann napkins for my friend Sarah's wedding. Over the past few months I purchased a good 50+ of them off of eBay, but the cost of shipping is killing me. In an attempt to be more frugal, I have taken to scouring the local thrift and second hand stores for some of these pretties. They are much harder to find, but so much more affordable (.$50 verses $2.50). In the rush of the thrift store hunt, I must admit that I strayed away from the Vera Neumann name for a few pieces. Some you might not even be able to tell a difference, but some you will. I suppose I figured that we could round out our $3 per napkin Vera collection with some more generic .50 cent beauties from the thrift store, in order to preserve the wallet. Most guests won't know the difference.

The image below is a tablecloth. That is my next order of business. I want to tie the whole look together by using Vera (and Vera-esque) linens on the tables in the cocktail area, the cake table, the guestbook table, the bars, and any other major decor areas at the wedding. After all, if we are going to have 150 Vera napkins, we need some anchoring decor.

I continue to be on the lookout for the best way to integrate all of these vintage linens into the decor. If you have good ideas or links to inspiring event images, please share. And of course if you have access to hoards of attractive Vera linens, do let me know. I am in the market to buy them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Target's Liberty of London dress modification.

Liberty of London partnered with Target and launched a big line of limited edition products a couple of weeks ago. I won't lie, upon hearing the news, I rushed to a spending spree on my lunch break and purchased nearly one of everything in the line, including a dessert tray, rain boot galoshes, several various women's tops, a gardening sheers set, and some melamine plate ware. My conservative and rational husband has wisely talked me into returning most of these impulse buys (even though they are super cute). But there are a few key items I want to keep, mainly clothing. And weirdly enough, mainly clothing from the girl's department.

Target designer collaborations can be great successes, and this Liberty collaboration has some high points. However, the most disappointing part of the Liberty/Target collection is that most of the woman's stuff is icky polyester. The most exciting part of the collection was the little girl's section, but alas I do not have any little girls to dress. But still, I am attracted to the Liberty girl's dresses. All of the children's clothing is adorable cotton, with linings, pockets, ruching and other high-end design details. I spent a good portion of my lunch break shopping spree in this section, fawning over tiny bloomers in vibrant Liberty florals and teired sundresses for 6-year olds. I can't say what prompted me other than glutinous consumerism and a drive to own all things Liberty, but during my Liberty spending binge, I actually took a gamble and picked up a few girls XL dresses into the dressing room with me, not sure what to expect. But there in the mirror of the Target dressing room a little miracle occurred. Lo and behold, the cotton maxi dresses from the girl's section (mostly) fit!

How I fit into a little girls XL is beyond me, as I often do not fit into the adult woman's XL's, but I am not complaining. And at $16.99, I can't beat shopping in the kid's section. So I purchased several of the most adorable girl's dresses, seen above. The only issue is the bust coverage. I guess most little girls do not have triple D's to contend with, despite all the bovine growth hormone in today's milk (thank goodness!).

Thinking ahead, I figured I might want to fashion a new top, with more coverage, to add to the existing dress. So I purchased two of each dress - one to wear and one to cut up and create a better top. So, here is my current dilemma... how do I add more bust coverage to the top of the dress (in the simplest, easiest, most stable and flattering manner possible)? I have been brainstorming, and I even broke out my duck tape dress form for this project.

Do stay tuned. I am very optimistic about this little reinvention.