Friday, April 27, 2007

Fire, Wine and Sunshine

Outside it is pouring rain again in Brooklyn, as I am sorting through my recent vacation photos. Over the past few weeks/months design business has been good. Steadily increasing and so good in fact, that I am moving my little operation out of the house and into a studio/office here in Brooklyn in just a few weeks. I can't wait! But that's a topic for another time. Business has been so good that I desperately needed a vacation.

Brad and I headed out to San Fransisco, home of Amanda, for a camping, wine drinking, sunny, adventure filled week. We also marked out 2 year wedding anniversary while we were there, but that too is a conversation for another time. We flew out Thursday night and on Friday morning, after stocking up with more food, beer and wine than we would ever consume, we headed to Big Sur with Amanda and her gang of friends. Over the next three days a music festival took place at the Fernwood camp ground where we stayed, but we didn't pay much attention to that. We were too busy playing, feasting, drinking, hanging by the fire, doing yoga on the beach, hiking and enjoying the epic scenery of Big Sur to stop and listen to the music. It was a fantastic weekend.

After we returned to San Francisco on Sunday night, Brad and I unpacked, repacked and headed out the next morning to wine county. But not before loading up on pastries and espresso at Tartin, mmmmmmmmm. Over the next two days as we traveled through beautiful, sunny Napa and Sonoma valleys, the stress of my Brooklyn life could not have been farther away. We spent the days going from vineyard to winery to vineyard, having a blast collecting a case, bottle by bottle, of our favorite wines to bring home. In between the drinking, we ate! The first day we had lunch at Mustard's Grill and then dinner at Cyrus (thanks to a reservation from John Holdredge, who also entertained us and shared his delicious wines earlier that evening) before falling asleep with very full bellies at a bed and breakfast in Healdsburg. The second day we picnicked on deliciously local, gourmet sandwiches while looking out over Lake Sonoma as we made our way through Dry Creek and the Russian River Valley on the recommendations of our new wine country friends. We hit a farmer's market in Sonoma and treated ourselves to some Tamales en route back to the city. That night we gathered Amanda and headed to Berkeley for a wonderful dinner at Chez Panisse. A most memorable finale for a really great trip.

Did I mention we had breakfast at Tartin AGAIN, before heading to the airport Wednesday morning? (WATCH THIS VIDEO!) Yes we ate a scone.

We finally returned to find this article in the Times, after trying to spotlight Organic and Biodynamic wine makers for out own collection. Fantastic!

You can view all the trip photos on my flickr stream HERE!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

HRIDE: Week 10/11 Training Report

My apologies to any of you who may have been waiting for an update over the past two weeks. Unfortunately I had nothing to report. Week 10 fell victim to yet more bad weather! Spring might be here, but warm temperatures don't prevent rain storms and my team rides were canceled. And then...Brad and I ran off to California for a MUCH needed week-long vacation.

It's a little scary how much I've been "out of the saddle" this month with the event fast approaching. I am planning to get back into the swing of things, I'll be attending a team ride in Central Park this evening, with as much enthusiasm and energy as I can muster. Tahoe, here I come!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

HRIDE: Week 8/9 Training Report

Sorry to keep you all waiting on an update, but with these darned winter temperatures that just don't seem to want to warm and the Passover/Easter holidays, training slowed again over the past two weeks. However, there were a few milestones to report on.

Two Saturdays ago the team hit the open road. After meeting in Central Park, we cycled in pace groups over the George Washington Bridge and into North Jersey. This first time out was a little hairy, with riders of varied levels of experience being lumped together with traffic and city streets to navigate, but it was a welcome change from the park. Each weekend from now on we will ride out of the city, increasing our mileage by the week.

Another thing of note is that my bike has finally been fitted to me, thanks to my coach, Felix. What this means is that Felix, who knows a heck of a lot more than I do made a ton of miniature adjustments to the bike and components, so it is the perfect size for me and the way I ride. I am feeling more comfortable on my bike now and will be even more grateful for this following the lengthy rides to come.

The highlight of weeks 8/9 was my alternative training ride in New Jersey last weekend. My friend and teammate Lauren has been on leave from her job and, sadly, weekday training rides for some time now. She has been spending time with her dad, Al (for who we ride), as he is undergoing some massive treatments for his leukemia and is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant in the coming weeks. So I joined Lauren for a 25 mile NJ ride over the holiday weekend, that had just enough hills to make us complain (look out Tahoe!) and more scenery then we could have asked for.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Finger Lickin'

Yesterday Brad and I celebrated Easter with friends by hosting yet another BBQ dinner party. Armed once again with the recipes from last year's New School class, we called on our food-loving friends and organized a pot-luck style feast. As the menu pulled itself together over the coarse of the last week, my excitement grew. I worked up the biggest appetite I could, but none of us were prepared for the belly buster this meal turned out to be.

•Green Salad
•Roasted Veggies
•Deviled Eggs
•Buttermilk Biscuits
•Fried Chicken
•Collard Greens
•Mac and Cheese
•Barbecue Brisket
•Souffléed Cheese Grits
•Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
à la mode
•Peeps and chocolate bunnies and things

Can you believe anyone ate all that? Neither could we and some of us even had seconds! We washed it down with plenty of beer then laid back and watched a Brooklyn-lovin' screening of The Warriors on our digital projector. What a day, Happy Easter!

Oven Barbecued Brisket
serves 8-10

for the barbecue sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup tomato purée
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic

for the brisket
5 pounds "thin cut" beef brisket in 1 or 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚ and make the sauce: Mix the dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients, and simmer slowly until slightly thickened - about 20 minutes.

2. Dry the brisket thoroughly with paper towels and salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Brown the meat about 3 minutes on each side.

3. Tear a piece of aluminum foil 3x the length of the brisket and lay it on a baking sheet. Spoon 1/2 the sauce onto the center of the foil then lay 1/2 the onions on top. Lay the brisket on the foil and then top with the remaining onions and sauce. Fold the foil over the brisket and crimp the edges closed to prevent leakage. Cut a second sheet of foil and wrap a second time.

4. Bake 2 1/2 hours. Let rest briefly then carefully open the packet and let the sauce run onto the baking sheet. Slice the brisket thinly across the grain and transfer to a platter. Spoon the sauce and juices to cover and serve. (I like to make a little extra BBQ sauce and serve on the side like gravy!)

*Brisket can be prepared up to 4 days in advance. Reheat in a heavy covered pot in a 300˚ oven, adding a bit of water if the mixture looks dry.