Social interaction is my personal battery while solitude is the outlet I recharge it with
I am and have for the most part always been an outgoing social being; I thrive and extract most of my inspiration and joie de vivre through the company of those I cherish; and whenever I feel a brooding state of mind coming on, I know it’s time to get off the computer and out of the house
However, like many people I need alone time every day; there are times I prefer to be by myself- most notably in the mornings and right before going to sleep. I have always been an early riser, a habit seemingly rare amongst those I keep company with which allows me to calmly ease into my day, to absorb the silence of the morning and invest it’s tranquility into the coming hours.
Despite not having a job or school to tend to; I have been immensely stressed out as of late between the moving/unpacking transition into my new home, tending to several commitments on behalf of my alma mater, job-searching/networking/scheduling appointments, finding time to write/read/grocery-shop/reply to e-mails, I almost feel asphyxiated by my exponentially lengthening to-do list. For goodness sake, I haven’t even had the time to view the new collections from NEW YORK FASHION WEEK!
However, no matter how busy I get, eating well is always a top priority…even if I am home by my lonesome:
And don’t you adore the the basil plant? I was feeling quite domestic and in need of a fragrant edible plant to add a little life into my new kitchen
-1 Trader Joe’s whole wheat Middle Eastern flatbread
-TJ Spicy hummus topped with fresh thyme
-TJ chili sauce
-lemon-marinated grilled chicken
-heirloom cherry tomatoes
-grana parmigiano, chili flakes, black pepper, basil
Put in the toaster oven for 8 minutes at 425 F; and absolutely delicious. If there is five things you will always find in my fridge: Herbs (currently with thyme, basil, mint, italian parsley), kefir, 2% greek yoghurt, Upper Crust Bread double chocolate cake, and gourmet mustard.
Then on Wednesday, Nora and I headed over to the alphabet district for her second inking- a self designed panther head; and since it was around time for an early dinner by the time she finished, I called my good friend Alia and she suggested we meet at Java Vivace, a quaint cafe and creperie on the corner of NW 23rd and Pettygrove
Naturally, a crepe was in order (and Nora’s first time trying savory crepes):
Hearty and satiating (especially with the introduction of my essential dining companion, Sir Sriracha), but a contrast to most crepes in my dining history. For one, the crepe itself was chewy and doughy in texture as opposed to the tissue-thin crunch I am used to. The fillings were all fresh and generous in quantity, but I admit I did find it a tad bland pre-sriracha, and it’s not because I have fried my tastebuds off from over-seasoning/stimulation, it just needed a little pizzazz to wake up the ingredients
Later in the evening, Nazneen and Yurop came over to my humble abode for a hang out sesh involving the three M’s: Macbooks, Moscato, and Margherita (pizza)
And it was also an opportunity for Naz and I to figure out how to use my new entirely-too-high-tech for me oven:
Cool, now with the combination of high tech appliances, the boxes of kitchenware/utensils my mother donated to me, and a spacious dining area I am officially inspired to start throwing classy dinner soirees…where I actually cook though, despite the fact that Trader Joes makes an economical and flavorful frozen pie.
In continuation of the Italian trend (and in accordance with Nora’s craving for good Italian food), Thursday night was a jaunt over to A Cena, a warm and atmospheric neighbourhood restaurant on SE 13th in Sellwood
After being wholeheartedly welcomed by the very hospitable waitstaff, we decided to start with a shared Caprese as we mulled over the rest of the enticing menu
Absolutely delightful! The mozzarella was freshly pulled, stretchy and cognizant of the light basil olive oil- and the heirloom tomatoes accented with nothing more than a tinge of sea salt and basil did not desire anything more considering how robust in flavour they already were
And of course, a bread basket was brought over to soak up the remainder of the basil oil:
As for the main course, I chose to go with the Saltimboca, which ironic to my teasing of Yurop’s main dish at Paragon the other day was composed of chicken cutlets, rainbow carrots, roasted new potatoes, and a sauce fragrant of sage and featuring a whole lotta garlic:
Nora, on the other hand decided to try the La Ratte potato gnocchi with pine nuts, grana padano, and basil pesto:
I’ve never been a fan of the doughy pillows that are gnocchi, but these were fabulous; tasted in fact just like the pesto gnocchi we had at our neighbourhood trattoria in Liguria a couple of years back
Post-entree, Nora (successfully) attempted to entice me into a little dolce; contrary to myself Nora is NOT a frozen yogurt fan in the slightest, but gelato, that’s a whole other story.
Call me strange, but I always thought of gelato as possessing an ‘eggy’ taste, which might be partially psychological due to my mother’s proclamation in my childhood of some she was eating in Florence as tasting eggy
However, once the dessert menu came, gelato sounded like the perfect meal-cap; and it was between three enticing flavours: vanilla bean, sea salt caramel, and Sicilian pistachio
Since neither of us were looking for anything gargantuan in portion, we decided to split the sea salt caramel just to appease our lingering sweet teeth (and for Nora to put to rest my gelatic stereotypes):
Exquisite. Have you ever had sea salt caramel? It is quite incredible what a dash of this mineral can do to enhance a dessert; I know our beloved pie-purveyor, Pizzeria Picco back in Marin does it perfectly with their famous Straus soft serve ice cream topped with olive oil and sea salt.
Such a wonderful way to conclude a light yet sumptious supper! The service at A Cena is impeccable and personal, the food comes out fast and fresh, and everything is prepared with care and it shows. I’ll definitely be back!
Any relatively quick, creative and balanced lunch ideas?
Crepes: Sweet or savory?
Have you ever thrown a dinner party? Dish with me your secrets; I’m thinking of having one with my nears and dears sometime in the coming future.