Friday, September 27, 2013

Carbo Loading: Runner & Stone

Don't go to Runner & Stone if you are gluten-free.

The restaurant, in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, might be able to accommodate this dietary restriction, but to dine here without eating the fabulous breads would be criminal.

During the day, the restaurant operates as a bakery, and at night, you get a basket of bread, with fresh butter, after you order. The sourdough baguette is to die for, but any of the breads is deeply satisfying.

The limited menu presented challenges for our party of 2 vegetarians and 2 kosher eaters. Was the lone fish kosher (tilefish - yes!). Could we leave the prosciutto out of the special salad? Of course.

The bar specializes in creative cocktails, with homemade bitters and infusions, and local spirits. A sage bourbon drink with apricot bitters and a lemon sage simple syrup was perfectly balanced. I also loved the spin on a Manhattan, called a South Brooklyn and made with Old Overholt rye, dry vermouth, maraschino, Saint Germain and bitters.

The escarole salad with fried cannellini beans was reat for fall, as was the baby beet salad with yogurt dressing. 

We also had a pasta with roasted eggplant, tomato and smoked fontina and another with lobster and corn. Unfortunately, the thick, long pasta clumped together.

But that was the only mistake in this friendly, ingeniously designed space (flour sacks, hardened with cement, make up the walls, and skylights brighten the subterranean main dining space.

Now, more vegetarian choices so we can return and try something else!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thai Basil Martinis

I grew a variety of basil plants this year, all of which thrived. But how much pesto do you really need.

The Thai basil inspired me to cook a few vegetarian Thai curries, but I still had an overabundance of basil. I decided to create a cocktail using it.

First, I made a simple syrup, with a fistful of basil, a cup of water and half a cup of sugar. I like to underplay the sweetness.

I cooked the syrup for about 10 minutes, strained it and refrigerated it.

The cocktail

I used a shot of simple syrup, about a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lime juice and 2 shots of vodka.

I shook this with ice, strained into a martini glass and garnished with a fresh Thai basil leaf. Delish.

Oh, the Gin

Even with a dinner party, we still had simple syrup left over. I tried the martini with Bombay Sapphire Gin and it was even better. The herbaceous gin complemented the Thai basil beautifully.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Fitness Challenge: Mud Run and Kale

The night before a big run, I usually make a simple kale salad that was in Runner's World years ago. Essentially, it is a lot of kale, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and currants.

But I was having a dinner party the night before the first Muddarella, so I wanted to make something more elaborate. And we'd just gotten a gift basket with gorgeous pears, so I had to include them.

 Kale and Pear Salad

1 bunch Lacinato kale, cut in very thin slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil, diced
2 T mint, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 T butter
3 T olive oil
2 T truffle honey
2 pears, diced
juice of 1 lemon
3 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Put kale, garlic, and herbs in a large salad bowl.

Cook onion with butter and 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add 1 T honey and continue cooking until caramelized, 10-15 minutes.

Place cooked onion in bowl with kale. In the same pan, saute diced pear until tender but still firm. Add a dash of cinnamon and 1 T honey to the pears. Add to the kale and mix. 

Add remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Let the salad sit for at least 2 hours to tenderize the kale.

The salad may not have given me strength (and the Thai basil cocktails probably sapped it anyway) but it was a delicious and healthy start to the meal.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fitness Challenge: Cycle Bar

Although real estate prices in Park Slope, Brooklyn, have almost reached Manhattan levels, many Slope residents are still reluctant to pay Manhattan prices at restaurants, bars and boutiques.

I had avoided Cycle Bar, a Soul Cycle type boutique spin studio basically because I'm cheap, but I jumped all over a Living Social deal that offered 5 spin classes for $25.

Cycle Bar has one spin studio, with Schwinn AC Sport bikes. You have to add resistance by feel, not a number, which can be frustrating or liberating, depending on how OCD you are.

Shoe rental is included in the class price, and an instructor helps you set up your bike the first time. Like Soul Cycle, rides are full body work outs, with small hand weights used for about 10 minutes of a 45 minute class.

The studio is fairly bare bones; there is a water cooler, a bathroom and lavender face wipes for freshening up for the walk home, but that's pretty much it. Forget a hair tie at your own peril.

The 25 bikes have a good amount of space between them, so there is little danger of your neighbor's flying sweat hitting you, and you can move your arms without smacking another bike.

Now if only they charged lower prices..

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mia Mariu Make Up Giveaway

When I first started wearing make up, I chose organic and natural products because they weren’t tested on animals.

As I grew older, and more sophisticated, I transitioned to mainstream cosmetics – but then I got pregnant and switched back to organic and natural make up again. I figured that if I was eating organic and natural food, what I put on my body was as important as what I put in it.

Then I had my first daughter, and I had to wear organic nail polish. I didn’t want my baby putting her mouth on chemical enamels.

I sort of fell off the organic make up bandwagon over the years, but then my youngest child, the one with the most sensitive skin, began developing rashes from drugstore cosmetics. Plus I read that lipstick contains small amounts of lead.

In other words, it was time for a make-up make over.

Mia Mariu hydrating lipsticks are made with vitamins A, C and E, minerals and anti-oxidants. As a bonus, they also taste better than chemical lipsticks.

And as another bonus, Mia Mariu is offering a Colors For Your Every Mood package to one reader. The package comes with three lipsticks, a uniquely you touch up kit, with mineral powder, mineral blush and three mineral eye shadows, and a make up brush. 

The touch up kit is great for travel, or even just a night out, and the mineral products provide long lasting color.

The retail value of the makeup package is $109.

To find out more about Mia Mariu:

To enter the giveaway, leave your name and email in the comments.

Disclaimer: Mia Mariu provided me with a sample Colors For Your Every Mood to review. Opinions are my own.