*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Sarah W.
I have much food stuff to write, but first: we've moved from downstate NY back to Western NY. where we had lived for years. Long story short, it's where we belong.
Enjoying our return means checking out all the places we didn't check out before. Today my mom and I kicked that off by hitting many food stores. Of course I have goodies!
We started our trip with Penzey's Spices, as it came highly recommended to mom. They had a lot of spices, though I'd still go to an Indian grocery for curry. Too many spices smelled like taco seasoning, and I prefer differentiation. We both bought a few things, as most prices were reasonable, though I am not 100% sure if their spices were "more fresh" than the grocery store. I mean, it's all dried spices with no dates. I did like that they had many options and I hope what I did buy lives up to the hype. I think hype of anywhere ends up making me more critical. At Penzey's I bought Vanilla Sugar, suggested uses: coffee and fruit; Dill Weed, because I am out of this; and Medium Hot Crushed Red Pepper. I love the idea of medium hot, because I enjoy crushed red pepper but I don't always want my food super hot.
It all started in the mid-90s when that crazy dude in Scotland decided to serve his customers a deep-fried Mars bar as a joke... little did he know that he would start a deep-fried trend that would move beyond the basic candy bar and expand to some seemingly unthinkable combinations (deep-fried Kool-Aid balls!?).
As I'm sure you've all figured out by now, I am a total nerd... I have a serious love for the written word, I constantly quote Heathers, and I'm a sucker for a good Ren Faire. While I typically don't go in costume, it's only because my hatred of spending a long day soaked in sweat (as it's always hot as hell whenever I go to the Faire) outweighs my desire to walk around in a corset and heavy dress. However, I do usually don some random plumage and I always bring plenty of cleavage. :-)
I joined Barb and her family for our first trek of the summer up to the Faire two weeks ago and it was as awesome as always. One of the cool things about the Bristol Ren Faire in particular is that although it's only open for about two months during the summer, the buildings are all permanent and many of the amazingly talented artists live above their shops. You can tell that owners put an incredible amount of time and effort into both their shops and the merchandise. There are so many intricately detailed handmade items for sale, ranging from titanium chainmail bras to mini marshmallow catapults (so much fun!) - I've amassed quite a stunning jewelry collection over the years.
Of course, the Ren Faire isn't just about costumes and shopping - there's also the fairies, the shows, and (arguably the most important part) the food!
Happy Monday! I don't know about you, but it was sooo hard to drag myself into work this morning. The combination of an incredibly busy week, along with too much indulgent food over the weekend, and the return of the extreme heat has left me feeling extra tired and blah. Thankfully, that craziness pretty much all consisted of fun stuff (well, minus the small altercation I had with an insane driver on Monday that left me sans passenger side mirror & the day that was filled with painful dental work) - Barb and I sang our hearts out at an amazing Fiona Apple concert; Mario and I had a delicious meal at La Gondola and attended a late night play; and I met up with a friend from high school (I hadn't seen him in 17 years!) for a fun night of conversation and Ethiopian.
The return of the extreme heat has also led to the return of my mini-cooking hiatus, so I've busted out all of my favorite no cook (or microwave only) recipes once again. Today's Meatless Monday dish is a simple recipe that highlights my two favorite fruits: avocados and apples. This is right up there with my other favorite sandwich (I go back and forth between which is my favorite, but really, they're both totally delicious) - it's flavorful, easy to assemble, and perfect for those hot weather days in which you don't want to turn on the oven. :-)
I hate raisins. I think they are one of the most horrid things you can eat - it doesn't matter if they're freshly plumped, buried in baked goods, or straight out of the box. They are ALL disgusting. They don't taste like the sweet delicious grape, nor do they taste like wine... they're just chewy balls of ickiness.
I am of the firm belief that raisins should not be in anything. If there are raisins, the dish is automatically ruined - and don't tell me to just pick them out because the raisin essence never completely goes away (especially if they're warm - that's when they're at their peak of disgustingness). There are far too many crazy people in the world who think it's a good idea to to add raisins to places where they don't belong (namely cookies, carrot cake, muffins, cinnamon bread, oatmeal, and trail mix). If the crazies want to eat those nasty little pellets on their own, then so be it, but don't ruin my food!
Hanging out with our friends' dog, Bonnie - she is such an adorable little cuddlebug!
I hope everyone had a fun Fourth! Raise your hand if you're one of the unlucky souls at work today who is hungover, dehydrated, and/or sleep deprived. Whew. My school is so quiet and empty (yes, we do have classes scheduled) and the people who are here (students and staff alike) all look a little rough around the edges (myself included). Mario & I had a low-key, but very fun holiday - really, it was just too bloody hot to do anything too strenuous! We spent the afternoon & evening with some friends, eating and drinking until we were about to burst. My favorite part of the meal was definitely the grilled salmon burgers topped with kimchi... and of course, the fruity frozen cocktails! :-)
In case you haven't heard (or seen via one of the thousands of Facebook photos of car thermometers), we're in the middle of a nasty heatwave. The city is is hazy and stinky and everyone is moving at a much slower pace than usual. We all have that crazed look in our eyes - we know that if we walk any faster, we're going to end up in a puddle of sweat, but we also know that the faster we move, the sooner we get into the AC. Needless to say, the heat is also making everyone very cranky... Thirsty Thursday is definitely a must this week!
I typically avoid drinks that resemble windshield wiper fluid, but after a friend in Indianapolis introduced me to this cocktail last summer, I've slightly modified my stance. Yes, it is bright blue and showy, but it's also damn good. If you're a fan of fruity cocktails, I highly recommend you give this a try!
Pre-Cirque dinner at Andies!
Happy July! Wow, June really flew by... can you believe that we're rolling up on the 4th already?! Oy. June was crazy busy, but super fun - the month started with my last minute trip to Madison and ended with an unexpected ticket to Cirque Du Soleil (and there were so many birthdays & festivals in between!). My awesome friend, Jen, won a ticket package (complete with Cirque goodie bags for everyone!) and generously invited me to come along. It was my first Cirque show... and yes, it was amazing! I was even pulled out of the audience and
forced into treated to a whirlwind wedding to Giovanni the clown (the little one on the left). ;-)
July is already shaping up to be just as fun with more birthday celebrations, a few backyard BBQs and visits to some awesome restaurants, and two amazing concerts (Fiona Apple and Seal/Macy Gray). I also have some very! exciting! life changing! news, but unfortunately, I can't say anything about it quite yet. Trust me - it's a very, very good thing. :-)
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