dinner

EATALY – A little Italy in the USA

EATALY – A little Italy in the USA

 

Have you been to an EATALY yet?  If not, and you live within 50 miles of one, you need to plan a field trip after you read this.  I promise it will be worth the drive.

I had never heard of EATALY until last weekend.  We were in Boston, visiting our daughter who goes to college in the city.   We literally stumbled across it, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  I was honestly SO excited about this place that after wandering around for nearly a half-hour taking it all in, I told my husband I had to go back through and take pictures, because I knew I needed to share this with fellow “foodies” who have not yet experienced it. (I put as many as I could in this post.)

EATALY is a bit hard to categorize.  Yes, it’s a store.  You can browse and purchase things, but you can also eat there, enjoy happy hour, take a class, or just enjoy the environment they’ve created.  I would have to call it more of a “shopping experience”.   Think Disney World/Epcot for Italian food crossed with a Whole Foods store.  Very cool!

EATALY is an Italian company whose name was created by combining the words EAT and ITALY. Their first location in Turin, Italy was opened in 2007 and they now have 13 “shops” across the country.   There are currently five EATALY shops in the United States one each in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago and two in New York City – Flat Iron and Downtown.  The company currently has plans to open a sixth location in Las Vegas later this year.  Their tag line is “Eat Better.  Live Better”  and their goal really seems to be to bring the experience of Italian food and the Italian way of life to the rest of the world.

EATALY Boston is located in the Shops at the Prudential Shopping Center located on Boylston Street  and it is H-U-G-E.  They have created smaller shops within the larger store for fresh produce, meat, fish, pasta, salad, wine, desserts and more.  In addition they have take away counters so you can grab prepared food and find a small table to eat it in store or take it with you.  Finally, they have at least five restaurants where you can sit down and be served some of the freshest Italian food you have ever had.   It’s great for lunch, happy hour and dinner with the family, friends or large groups.

Now, all that being said, as someone who grew up in Boston, I would still have to go to the North End in Boston if I wanted to have a romantic Italian dinner and some much needed authenticity.  EATALY and the North End are totally different.  EATALY is a bit upscale, modern and a great place to visit.  There were far too many people there when we went back around dinner time for it to be a romantic dining spot (although it was the weekend before the Boston Marathon, so it may have been extra busy because of that.)  The location, which is about 1.5 -2 miles away from the North End gives folks who work and live in Back Bay and South Boston a great local option for great Italian food and authentic Italian ingredients and groceries.

Since we were only in Boston for the weekend I didn’t have the need to buy groceries, but the foodie in me had a GREAT time looking at everything they offered. I spoke with a baker who told me the flour they use in their bread comes directly from a flour mill in Italy.  The bread is prepared with the same materials and in the same way as they do it in Italy.  That connection, and the thought that the bite I take here tastes exactly like it does in Italy, without having to take the trip, was a real lure for me. (Someone is a marketing genius in this operation!)  I asked what the rustic chocolate bread they offered was like as I had never heard of a bread like that before.  He promptly cut one open and gave us a sample…swoon.  It was amazing!  I immediately bought a loaf.  We left it with our daughter to share with her friends.  I’m sure if he put the rest out as samples everyone who tasted it bought a loaf.  I wish I had some right now.

I took the pictures of some of the restaurants below at about 10AM Saturday when we wandered through.  When I tell you it was packed when we came back at 5:30 PM I mean you could hardly move.  The wait for most of the restaurants was an hour.  Again, it was Marathon weekend, so a regular weekend might not be as bad.  Call ahead and check on the wait.

 

  

 

 

In addition to groceries, wine, take away food and happy hour they also host daily events.  A quick look at the EATALY BOSTON CALENDAR finds things like “Sip and Savor” a wine and cheese event, “How to make spring Risotto” and “Wine and Dine”.  Each event gives an overview and the cost associated with it.  I can tell you that this week’s events are already sold out.   If you want to attend something at EATALY check their calendar early and plan ahead.

I hope someone at EATALY Corporate is planning an EATALY shop for Atlanta;)  Maybe Atlantic Station? Or Avalon?  It would really add to either of these destinations and provide some new Italian dining experiences for the south.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of EATALY – sorry couldn’t resist;)  Check out one of their locations if you find yourself within driving distance or staying in a city that has one. I really think you’ll love it!

 

 

Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines for 2017 Under $20

What’s better than sharing a good glass of wine with great friends over a delicious meal? It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

We all have our favorites – red, white, sparkling – and we probably have a “go to” bottle.  But what do we buy when we’re going to dinner, the host likes Chardonnay, and all we drink is Cabernet?  How do we choose a wine we know is going to be a hit?  Sometimes I get great advice at my local liquor store, but I’ve also taken advice and bought some real snoozers! And how about buying a great bottle of wine without breaking the bank? Now there’s a conundrum – and I don’t mean the wine;)

My goal last month was to find a top rated Sauvignon Blanc (my current favorite) that was inexpensive enough that I felt comfortable, monetarily speaking, buying a case.  My target price point was $20 a bottle or less.  I picked up a copy of Wine Spectator and got to work.

Below you’ll find a list of wines, that were highly rated, and came in at or below $20 a bottle.  They were all included in  the December 2017 issue of “Wine Spectator’s Top 100”.  They’re listed below by rank (out of 100), brand, wine, total points scored and release price.

(Note:  Some wines may have gone up in price slightly due to customer demand, but they’re still a great buy!)

Rank      Wine                                                                                                                   Total Points      Price

#17          Volver Alicante Tarima Hill Old Vines 2015                                                          92 points            $17

#28         Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay California Vinter’s Reserve 2015                         91 points            $17

#29         Viña Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Reserva 2015                      91 points            $15

#30         Hijos De Rainera Perez Marin Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda La Guita NV    91 points    $15

#31         Forge Riesling Finger Lakes Classique 2015                                                             92 points           $19

#32         Sidebar Sauvignon Blanc High Valley 2015                                                              91 points           $20

#33         Jim Barry  Riesling Clare Valley The Lodge Hill Dry 2016                                     91 points            $20

#38         Luigi Einaudi  Dogliani 2015                                                                                     92 points           $16

#40         Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016                                                              90 points            $12

#41         Bodega Garzón Tannat Uruguay Reserva 2015                                                       90 points           $17

#47         Bodegas Palacios Remondo Rioja La Vendimia 2015                                         90 points            $17

#48         Penley Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Pheonix 2015                                          90 points            $20

#51         Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez Mencía Bierzo Ultreia St.-Jacques 2015          91 points            $20

#52        Domaine De Mouron Cōtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret Tradition 2014             90 points            $20

#54         Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2016                                               90 points             $20

#56        Domaines Dominique Piron Morgon La Chanaise 2015                                   91 points              $20

#57         Mason Sauvignon Blanc Nappy Valley Yount Mill Vineyard 2016                       90 points             $19

#71         Donnachiara  Aglianico Irpinia 2015                                                                      90 points             $18

#72         Domaine Petroni Corse 2015                                                                                   90 points            $20

#73         Powell & Son     Riverside Barossa 2015                                                                 93 points            $20

#84      Simone Santini Vernaccia di San Gimignano Tenuta Le Calcinaie 2015             90 points             $18

 

I hope you find a wine on this list from Wine Spectator and give it a try!  I can vouch for both the Matua and the Mason Sauvignon Blanc.  I’m dying to try the Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir – the name alone makes it a conversation starter.   There are lots more great wines on the market for under $20 a bottle.  As I discover ones I like I will add to this post.

I hope you will share what you discover by posting the name of the wine and the price in the comment section.  Let’s share some great wine!

Cheers!

Holiday Cornbread Apple Sausage Stuffing (Caroline’s Favorite)

It honestly isn’t a holiday at our house without this incredible holiday apple sausage stuffing.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas.  If you’re planning to serve turkey – you’ve gotta try this!

 

The week before Thanksgiving my daughter always says,  “You’re going to make your stuffing again this year… right Mom?”  Well, I don’t know.  Hmmm…of course;)   My family knows this recipe is a little time consuming and holidays are always hectic, so they make sure to tell me how much they love it every year so I won’t leave it off the menu.  (I think they love it so much one of them would probably learn to make it if I didn’t.)

This recipe is actually very simple.  It’s honestly just making the corn bread the day before, (I use a “Honey Corn Bread” mix by Krusteaz so it’s super easy) and chopping up the breads and vegetables that takes a little extra time.    The way the apples, sausage, herbs and butter flavor the breads in this recipe is nothing short of amazing!  I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

Caroline's Favorite Stuffing
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 12-14
Ingredients
  • 16 Tablespoons butter - (2 sticks)
  • 2 Large Yellow Onions - peeled and diced small
  • 2 Green Apples - cored and chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Honey Crisp Apples - cored and chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1lb of Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage
  • 3 cups of wheat bread - cut into ½-1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups of French bread - cut into ½-1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups of Honey Corn Bread - cut into ½-1 inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Cup of chicken broth
  • ½ cup of chopped italian parsley for serving
Instructions
  1. Make one box of Krusteze Honey Corn Bread the day before and let it cool.
  2. Cut up the corn bread, wheat bread and French bread the night before you plan to make the stuffing and leave it in a bowl uncovered. (You can also do this in the morning if you will be making it at night.)
  3. Chop up onions and apples as indicated above and put in separate bowls.
  4. Melt 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add onions to skillet and stir. Put cover on and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stirring every few minutes. Do not brown onions, just cook them until they are translucent, and butter is absorbed. Transfer the onions back to their bowl.
  6. Melt the second 8 Tablespoons of butter into the same skillet. Place apples in skillet and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Do not over cook apples. They will become mushy. Transfer apples back to their bowl.
  7. Put the Jimmy Dean Sage sausage into skillet and cook over medium heat. Mashing and stirring with a potato masher makes it easy to cook the sausage into small crumbles - which is what you want. Once the sausage is cooked turn off the heat.
  8. Put the cooked onions and butter, the cooked apples and butter and the cooked sausage into a large serving dish that is oven safe. Toss them together until they are well combined.
  9. Now put the French bread cubes, the whole wheat bread cubes and the corn bread cubes into the large dish with the onions, apples and sausage. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of dried rubbed sage and 2 teaspoons of herbs de provence.
  10. Combine all ingredients by tossing gently - you want some of the corn bread to stay in chunks. Don't worry if it starts to crumble. That's supposed to happen.
  11. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of chicken or turkey broth over the stuffing, making sure to get a little over all evenly. It should not be very wet. The broth will provide moisture so that when you put it in the oven it will steam just a bit.
  12. Cover with oven safe dish with all the stuffing with tin foil and place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

 

Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

As soon as the leaves and the temperature start dropping I love to break out the soup recipes!  A  warm, hearty soup, with a big piece of fresh French bread and a slice of Havarti cheese, yum!  Well, it’s November in Atlanta. Soup should definitely be in my meal rotation by now, but, it was still 75 degrees and muggy this past week, so soup is still on hold.  Instead, I’m going to make Thai Chicken Noodle bowls this week – close to soup – but lighter in taste.

I started making this recipe when College Inn sold something called  “Culinary Broths” at our local store.  My favorite was  “Thai Coconut Curry”.  You can still get it by ordering it online at Walmart for pickup.  It’s inconvenient.  So, now I just make my own broth -the flavors are fairly easy to recreate with a few ingredients.  Today I was pressed for time, so instead of cooking chicken to put in the noodle bowls I picked up a rotisserie chicken at Publix and just added some of the cooked chicken as noted below before serving.

Feel free to play around with the amount of spice, sweet and saltiness. I make this fairly “mild” and I know everyone’s tastes are a little different.  An easy way to do this is to let your family “tweak” their noodle bowls to their own taste at the table. Just make the noodle bowls as directed below.  When you serve, put red pepper flakes, honey and salt on the table for them if they would like to add a little something.  It’s a great way for kids of all ages to get to “play with their food at the table”:) Just watch those crushed red pepper flakes!  In my house…if you tweak it…you eat it;)

For a printable version scroll to the bottom.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 large carrots peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
3 large celery stalks, washed and diced very small
1 medium to large yellow (or sweet) onion diced very small
1 Tablespoons of minced garlic from a jar
6 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (you can substitute 1 Tablespoon of ground ginger)
1 can of low fat coconut milk
1 Tablespoon of curry powder
1/2 package of angel hair pasta, broken in half
1 chicken breast – cooked and diced (or chicken from a cooked rotisserie chicken- see note above)
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup cilantro

1/4-1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of kosher salt and additional kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

NOTE: You can skip most of step 1 if you buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and just chop it up as noted at the end of  step 1.

1. Spray a small pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken breast on the pan and sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper. Bake in an oven set at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes – or until juices in the chicken run clear.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Then chop the chicken into small pieces and put it aside. OR, as noted above, buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and cut up the already cooked meat from the chicken and put it in a bowl and put it aside.

While the chicken is in the oven cooking make the rest of the soup.  It will be done by the time the chicken is cooked and you can put the chicken into the pan and be ready to serve;)

2. Cut up the three peeled carrots, washed celery and 1/2 an onion directed.

 

3. Put 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, Add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan and sautė over medium heat until the vegetables are soft – about 5 minutes. (Do not brown them.)

4. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic from a jar, the grated fresh ginger or ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 1 Tablespoon of curry powder, stir to combine with the vegetables and saute for one minute.

5. Add 6 cups of chicken broth, stir and bring mixture to a boil. Then turn your heat down to simmer and put a lid on the mixture for 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to combine.

 

6. Now add the angel hair pasta – Take approximately 1/3 – 1/2 of the noodles in the box and break in half with your hands and drop them into the pot. Stir to combine the noodles into the mixture.  Put the lid on and cook for approximately 3 mins (Angel hair past cooks ULTRA fast! So don’t leave it past 3-4 minutes.)

7. Now shut the heat off. Add the cooked chicken, the can of light coconut milk, the juice of one lime (or 1/4 cup juice), 1/4 cup cilantro chopped, 2 TBSP of brown sugar OR honey (NOT both) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir for one minute to combine well and make sure brown sugar is melted.

Once all the ingredients have been combined and are hot serve immediately topped with a few extra pieces of chopped cilantro and a slice of lime.  I actually serve this with a fork and a spoon because the fork makes it easy to eat the noodles…but you will want a spoon so can make sure to get all the the delicious sauce!

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Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Noodle Bowl
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 large carrots peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 3 large celery stalks, washed and diced very small
  • 1 medium to large yellow or sweet onion diced very small
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic from a jar
  • 6 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (more to taste) (Can substitute 1 Tablespoon of ground ginger if you need to)
  • 1 can of low fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of curry powder
  • ½ package of angel hair pasta, broken in half
  • 1 full chicken breast - cooked and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or honey)
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • additional kosher salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. NOTE: You can skip step 1 if you buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and just chop up the cooked chicken from that into small pieces to be added at the end of the recipe as noted.
  2. Spray a small pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken breast on the pan and sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper. Bake in an oven set at 350 for approximately 35 minutes or until juices in the chicken run clear. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Then chop the chicken into small pieces and put it aside. OR, as noted above, buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and cut up the already cooked meat from the chicken and put it in a bowl and put it aside.
  3. Cut up three peeled carrots, washed celery and ½ an onion as directed above.
  4. Put 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, Add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan and sautė over medium heat until the vegetables are soft - about 5 minutes. Do not brown them.
  5. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of kosher salt over the veggies and stir
  6. Add 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic, the grated fresh ginger (or ground ginger), ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 1 Tablespoon of curry powder, stir to combine with the vegetables and saute for one minute.
  7. Add 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth, stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Then turn your heat down to simmer or low and put a lid on the mixture for 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to combine.
  8. Now add the angel hair pasta. Take approximately ⅓ - ½ of the noodles in the box and break in half with your hands and drop them into the pot. Stir them into the mixture, then put the lid on and cook on medium/high, so it is boiling/bubbling, for approximately 3-4 mins (Angel hair past cooks ULTRA fast! So don't leave it past 3-4 minutes.
  9. Now shut the heat off. Add the cooked chicken, the can of light coconut milk, the juice of one lime (or approximately ¼ cup of lime juice), ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, 2 TBSP of brown sugar OR honey (NOT both) and any additional kosher salt and pepper to taste. Stir for one minute to combine well and make sure brown sugar is melted.
  10. Once all the ingredients have been combined serve immediately with a little extra chopped cilantro and a slice of lime on top. Serve with a spoon and a fork or a pair of chopsticks;)
  11. NOTE: If you have leftovers store them in a covered microwaveable dish in the fridge. When you are ready to heat and eat add more plain chicken broth to the mixture because the noodles will have sucked up some of the delicious sauce.

 

A Farmhouse Table & Outdoor Dinner Party

A few months ago I started thinking about hosting and outdoor dinner party. Fall is my favorite time of year, and although the color in Atlanta is not what it is in my native New England, the weather can be beautiful well into November. Why not take advantage of it?  We get together often for dinner with friends and I wanted to change things up (I know…so not like me! LOL!)  We always start by hanging out in the kitchen and move to the dining room to eat because it’s the only table that can fit six or more. I started pinning photos to my Pinterest board to get ideas.

First, we needed to figure out what to use as a table. We’ve had this outdoor set for about 12 years.

It’s super heavy and durable, and it’s perfect for 4 people, but a little tight for 6 adults. (The table top also squeaks like crazy because it’s a little broken;). I also had more of a “farmhouse” theme in mind. But, what could we use?  I didn’t want to buy a new table.  Time to get creative!  We had this a 45 inch wide rectangular table in the basement that I refinished years ago, and now use to hold my painting supplies.

We knew we needed something a little bigger (to fit 6-8 people).  We decided we could use the table as a base and just make a larger table top.  Love it!  Lee found this post on my DIY Woodworking board on Pinterest to make the table.  He tweaked the plans to be the size we wanted. Here is a picture of us (aka: him) figuring things out in Home Depot.) I love this guy<3

We spent about an hour looking through boards they had in stock. They needed to be straight, not warped, and the idea girl wanted some character – knots and wood grain.

We probably went through 50 boards before we settled on the ones above. (Bless my patient husband!) We laid them out to get a sense of what it would look like.

Once we got home I spent some time laying the pieces out the way I wanted them put together for the final table top and then my hubby got to work cutting the boards and making the pocket holes with his Kreg jig. He put gorilla glue over all of the edges of the wood that would be connected with screws and then screwed the wood together.

This is the underside of the table. If I haven’t mentioned it before, my husband is an engineer. I realize there are an awful lot of pocket holes here:)…and we ran out of screws at one point…but this table top is NOT going to coming apart on ust;)

Since we were using a soft wood (pine) I decided to use a water based wood conditioner first.  It prepares the wood so that it doesn’t suck the stain in so quickly and end up being “blotchy” looking.  I did some test strips on some scrap pieces first.  Based on those tests, I was actually afraid it would resist the water based stain I selected a little too much, but it honestly didn’t. It worked out great! I would highly recommend using a wood conditioner before you stain pine, and I will absolutely use it going forward.

My husband gave the whole table top a good sanding with the orbital sander and then wiped it down really well.  This is a picture of the top of the table with the one coat of the water based wood conditioner we used in natural.

I wanted the table to have a light grayish-brown, weathered look – kind of like Restoration Hardware. Below is a picture of the table with one coat of the water based wood stain we used in Walnut.  There were two areas that didn’t come out the way I wanted, so I got the orbital sander and sanded the top of the table very lightly and very randomly. Then I wiped off the dust with a dry cloth and wiped over the whole table again with the (very) wet rag I used to wipe off the initial coat of stain.

Here is what the table looked like after it dried.

Sidebar – I’ve been painting some “whimsical chairs” when I have the time, and often drop into GoodWill or a local flea market to see if they have anything. The week of our dinner I found these 4 chairs at Goodwill for $26.92. (Can you believe I hemmed and hawed about them for about a half hour before I decided to buy them? Yeah…sometimes I think too much!) Although they are missing a few pieces, they were fairly sturdy. (I’ll figure out a way to fix them at some point in the future.) I figured I could wipe them down and sand the seat a little and we could use them for our dinner.

Here is a picture of the table with chairs I found at Goodwill to see if it would look ok for dinner. (I like it!)

The picture below provides a good view of how the new table top  sits on top of the old table. It is attached with blocks of wood and screws so it wouldn’t move if people lean on it – meaning all our dishes wouldn’t go crashing onto the deck;)  The engineer gets all the credit:)  I had one old chair and added the chairs from the GoodWill.  I just sanded the seats a bit so that they didn’t have the splotches of old paint on them like they did when I bought them.

We added a final chair from the kitchen to the other end of the table. (I am actually really liking this mismatched chair look!)

Here is the table set for company, including a few blankets to use in case it got cold. (In Atlanta that’s anything below 70 degrees:))

We had a lot of fun making the table together and we had a great night with friends whom we adore!  I hope there will be LOTS more opportunities to use this table!

 

 

 

 

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