Sunday, November 27, 2011

welcome to brighton beach

Hi bento pals! A highlight of our Thanksgiving visit to New York was a visit to Brooklyn's Brighton Beach--a sensory odyssey into Old World flavors, cooking traditions, gourmet shopping...wonderfully deposited in a gritty, vivid neighborhood located under the subway tracks.

Amid the rumble of the trains, this area offers an intact tradition of such savory, salty brightness. We were lucky enough to enjoy a unseasonably warm day for our explorations which included a sidelong glimpse of Coney Island as well.

 We had a long lunch at Cafe Glechik on Coney Island Avenue, a restaurant I cannot recommend highly enough! This cozy spot hit the mark with its warm and helpful service, diverse menu, and incredible skill and care with which each dish we ordered was prepared...and we ordered many dishes. Just a stunning experience.

The flavor spectrum managed to be both subtle and very exciting...foresty, earthy flavors highlighted with hints of vinegar, the tang of excellent sour cream, and bright green herbs.

The stuffed cabbage completely revised my sense of what this dish can offer with its tender, herby filling, the cabbage leaves braised with rich tomato vinegar amazing start to our feast. Note the lavish sour cream garnish and delicate dill:

Eggplant and peppers salad--another "wow" dish with wonderful sweetness, brightness:

Tender chicken pelmeni with onion, sour cream:

"Chanahi": sauteed leg of lamb with tender vegetables in broth. So simple, so perfectly done. The broth conveyed both bright vegetable flavors and a hint of meaty depth...

Country style potato salad with peas and carrots, topped with rich mayonnaise (almost "a la mode" style)...yummy!

White radish salad with spiced chicken livers--so interesting and good. Everyone enjoyed this!

Cold green borscht...refreshing and full of that quiet, characteristic umami we were coming to love in this Ukranian feast...

Shrimp in a delicate cream sauce...luscious!

And more dumplings, these with minced meat and white pepper (Jamison's pic):

Happy and full, we emerged from lunch to walk off some its considerable calories while checking out the offerings of area markets and shops:

We found several wonderful gourmet markets on Brighton Beach Avenue with so many types of sausage, cheese, cured fish, beautifully and joyously presented...a real sense of the serious pleasure of shopping European style here!

As Jamison points out, Eastern squirrels really do have ears like this!

Loved the rich architectural details all around, happily featuring two of my favorite styles: Art Deco and Gothic Romanesque revival--expressive, jazzy, full of joie de vivre:

Many textures, indications of rich cultural/religious traditions in this community...I'd love to return and explore these layers with much more time to do so.

Keeping time with the rest of the world--I liked the contrasting fonts used for London, Brooklyn and Israel...

We walked down to the beach as twilight arrived: streaks of glowing and intensifying apricot, purple, vermilion against a soft blue violet sky...

I think this photo of Jamison captures the buoyant fun of the day:

Next stop, Coney Island, closed for season and quiet yet full of interesting neon signs, tokens of summers past, beautiful on this unseasonably warm November night...

Thanks for coming along!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

chili verde bento

Hi bento pals! Whew, its been a busy day of cooking, photography and room staging was your weekend?

Gorgeous mild day today, so enjoying the continued persistence of mild days against the coming, inevitable deep chill. This morning offered delicate grey skies against which the remaining ruby and rust colored leaves, deep violet and soft pink flowers glowed in contrast...

Camellias in the foreground, beautiful golden hydrangeas behind them. I planted these for our neigborhood a few years ago, so happy to see them flourishing and waving with blossoms today...

...the rich, rippled textures of native oakleaf hydrangeas

I'm doing food photography for my employer's monthly magazine...this month, our featured recipe was Turkey Chile Verde from the always informative World's Healthiest Foods site. A hearty version of chili with a dark green undertow from fresh herbs, kale. The fresh oregano adds a wonderful herbal depth to the chili...

My photo:

And I thought, why not continue on with a bento for Monday with this dish...adding grape tomatoes, baby carrot slices, sugar snap peas and sweet green grapes. Love the golden ginkgo leaves that are just starting to fall to the ground, decorating it with such  graceful golden fan shapes...

Also worked on staging the bedroom today...paring down to a hopefully inviting neutrality!

Time to chill with a glass of wine as I contemplate and plan for holiday travels this week. It may be a little while till I post again....wishing a peaceful, warm and happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!