4.27.2011

MB Post.

Just when I couldn't love Manhattan Beach any more, the Simmzy's guys opened up a new restaurant on our anniversary (what a treat!) last week. It made for one lovely and yummy evening.
The Manhattan Beach Post, or MB Post for short, is the town's newest gem, and it's unlike anything else we have. It's not just a restaurant. It's an experience. A Social House, if you will, that's the vision of the Simms' brothers and chef - South Bay local - David LeFevre.

Erected in the original Manhattan Beach Post Office from back in the day, the restaurant stands with the same flooring, ceiling, beams, walls and windows of the Post Office. There's even a drink named for the Postman's dog, Old George. Just two blocks from the sand, the facade of the restaurant is dressed with sliding doors, which slide completely open so you can enjoy the sunset and an ocean breeze while you dine.

Filled with antique-this and vintage-that, it's a feast for all the senses, and before you can even sit down, you're enamored by the rustic warmth and communal vibe of this totally hip place - that doesn't even care if it's hip. It's that cool.

Now... onto the food. It's small plates. Tapas is not the right description, because it's so much more than Mediterranean-style bites; it's bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter; grilled romaine and radicchio; slow steamed tai snapper and so much more. A new menu is customized for each day, and if you make a reservation, well, you get to take home a little piece of mail, addressed especially for you.
Served on acacia wood platters, in Staub cast iron cookware and wire-bale jars, your napkin looks like it was cut from a grain sack, and you're greeted by flickering blue mason jars at each table. You had me at hello.
From top to bottom, we enjoyed fleur de sel pretzel bites; beluga lentil, shrimp and chorizo soup; pomegranate couscous; blistering green beans; and buttermilk marinated organic fried chicken.

The grand finale was the three point tart with macerated strawberries and rhubarb and buttermilk panna cotta, which, I'm sorry to say, went unphotographed because I could not help myself. I will never go there and not order this dessert. I mean, there's cream cheese blended into the dough.
 
I cannot wait to go back. Like, maybe this weekend, and especially, in a few months when I can sample and report back on booze... seriously salivating over their unique and creative cocktails, hand-crafted beers and wine list.

Go check it out for yourself. There's a bar area and communal tables to share. If you're hungry for a table for two (or more), call to make reservations. The neighborhood loves this place. And it's only been a week.

4.26.2011

new wknd recipe: panko-crusted salmon.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and a happy Easter. Growing up, it wasn't the candy, but it was the bunny thing that really sparked my love for this holiday. Even more than Christmas. I really loved bunnies back in the day.

Years later, it's about the start of a new season, the passage of Lent, a celebration of our anniversary and the hope for another wonderful year. In 2012, with a little one all our own, I'm sure the meaning of Easter will quickly revert to bunnies and candy. But I'm totally okay - and yes, excited - for that. Because, when you see the Easter glow of your nephew and niece as they hunt eggs, it just really can't be beat.

For the last fish Friday of the season, we actually made a new weekend recipe. That makes two in April (remember the scones?). Things are getting crazy around here!

Inspired by Annie Eats' post on this BC recipe, I finally tried something from How Easy Is That? And yes, it's easy and yes, a keeper.

To try it for yourself, you can find the full recipe on Annie Eats, or you can flip to page 152 of the newest Barefoot Contessa. Besides getting your hands on some beautiful wild salmon, I think the secret to this dish is really good dijon mustard - this is our favorite.

If you've never used Panko, and aren't sure where to find it, try your local Trader Joe's. If you're a Panko fan, and want another excuse to cook with it, try this.

We paired the salmon with two favorite go-to's: balsamic-marinated cucumber, tomato and red onion chopped salad and baked sweet potato fries. It made for one good, cozy Friday night in.

PS: Thanks to The Chic Line for introducing me to Annie Eats. This is another recipe I have flagged for follow up. Yowza.

4.22.2011

happy easter-y weekend!

I wish you and yours a wonderful weekend, and if you are celebrating Easter, I hope it involves lots of eggs. Last year, we hosted a post-church brunch and it was so much fun. It was our first official holiday-hosting gig for the family.

Easter is a special time of year for us; in 2009, when we were married, our wedding day was one week after the holiday and going to church once the season of Lent has passed, with wedding memories in tow, means so much to us.

I dug up some photos from last year's family get together to share as we head into the weekend (btw: these pics are obv. pre-blog and pre-knowing-anything-at-all-about-my-camera). Our menu was really simple and make-ahead friendly. I highly recommend two of my all-time favorite BC recipes if you're still working on yours:

+ Orzo with roasted vegetables
+ Maple-oatmeal scones

We also served fruit and two tartines; one topped with egg salad and the other with cream cheese, smoked salmon, onions, capers and dill. And, of course, a honey-baked ham (with Eddie's favorite mustard-y dip on the side).



One year later, our little egg hunters are so grown up. And, in the past year, we got another nephew and now the three of them have a cousin on the way. Actually, two! Big news: amazing sis-in-law no. 1 - Whitney - is expecting, too!

We are so blessed. Happy Easter, all!

4.21.2011

loving la jolla.

We Southern Californians are just spoiled. Think about it... two hours to the north: Santa Barbara; two hours to the east: Palm Desert; two hours to the south: San Diego. And, there's a load of other options in between.

We are not totally impulsive people, but we took our time planning our anniversary weekend. Actually, we just procrastinated for no good reason other than indecision. In fact, on Friday morning, we woke up without a plan and a hotel reservation. But, by about 1 p.m., we were headed south with to-go snack packs packed. Here's a quick snapshot of our lovely weekend in La Jolla.
Hotel to put on your list: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. I stayed there three years ago for Krisa's bachelorette party, and it's a great retreat-type hotel with beautiful grounds, friendly staff and affordable rates (really affordable if you check some of the discount travel sites). Oh, and I should mention: the food is really excellent (live Spanish guitarist in the evenings!), and there's a wine library.
Brides: the Estancia is a must see for those considering wedding venues in the Southern California area (while we were there, we saw two real brides and one faux for a wedding photography workshop). We have friends who were married there almost two years ago, and for that, I'm so envious!

The La Jolla village and coastline is a short 4 miles from the Estancia, and we spent Sunday eating, walking and gawking. It was just beautiful.
Must-eat in La Jolla: The Cottage. Highly recommend the brioche french toast and a floater dish to share. Eddie picked eggs benedict. BTW: his egg-white breakfast burrito was yum-o.

I love that once a year, we stop, celebrate and remember special life moments, like getting married. It doesn't always mean a weekend getaway, but when it does, I feel so blessed. Especially when the sun is shining. And it involves maple syrup and powdered sugar.

4.20.2011

thank you!

Thank you for all the anniversary good wishes! I just love this special time of year. We celebrated over the weekend with a little trip south to La Jolla, quite possibly my favorite seaside town in San Diego.

All that is good, and sweet, and true has come to me because of you. Brenda Walton Peckham
(from a Papyrus anniversary card)
I'll be back with more pics to share tomorrow!

4.18.2011

monday super special.

Today is our second anniversary. Before I give up my newlywed-title, which I've extended well past the first year mark (note to self: update blog profile), I want to feel a little of the day's magic. It's also nice to remind myself of what I looked like two years ago. The 2011 version is so different.

Thanks for indulging me, friends!
I love you, Eddie. Happy anniversary. PS: our wedding was a freaking blast, wasn't it?!

All photos by Amy & Stuart.

4.15.2011

happy weekend!

Earlier this week, we had our first baby prep-type class. Admittedly, while excited to talk baby with others, the thought of doing it for 2.5 hours in a cold, hospital conference room during the bump's preferred dinner hour was not exactly how I'd choose to spend my Wednesday night.

But, it was actually great. I felt better after it. I think a lot of it has to do with the delivery (pun intended) of our entertaining instructor, who will keep us coming back for more. It kind of reminded me of the church/prep classes we took before we tied the knot; you meet couples who are going through the same ups and downs in a condensed period of time, you can relate and a little bonus: you make some new friends in the neighborhood.

It feels good to talk to people who are going through similar life changes, doesn't it? It makes me feel supported, and in the best case, I feel like I get some answers to those questions that scramble through my head, even if it's just a smile and a head nod, "yes, I affirm that I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm going through the same thing."

That affirmation feels good when so much seems in flux. Constants also feel good too. One constant that I've been looking forward to since the calendar flipped to 2011 is April 18; our anniversary, which, in the last two years, has become my favorite day of the year. So, I'm especially excited for this weekend, and for Monday, and reliving some of that beautiful, happy time.
{photo by Amy & Stuart}
Before I go, here are a few links that made me smile this week:

+ A perfectly spring-y bridal shower shoot from 100 Layer Cake.
+ Love this DIY fiesta-inspired cake stand from Camille Styles.
+ Pancakes? With quinoa and honey? Yes, please. Thank you, Five O'Clock Food.
+ A Lovey Morning reading my mind. I'm so thankful for bloggers like Kristina.
+ A beautiful farm wedding from Snippet & Ink.
+ Note to self: The Haystack Needle's latest baby purchases. My eyes are on the diaper bag.

I'll see you back here, bright and early on Monday with a special anniversary tribute post. Should be a lovely, celebratory weekend; hope yours is as well!

4.14.2011

mmm... gelato.

Can you believe that there's an ice cream shop in our neighborhood that's almost three years old that we just visited for the first time? It's a gelato shop, to be exact and it. is. good.

I'm in love with Pacuigo Gelato Caffe in Hermosa. We've been told by so many how yummy it is, and on a spur-of-the-moment mid-week date night, we finally tasted, and we agree. Made fresh everyday, with milk (vs. butter or cream or ... anything else), this gelato is at least 70% less fat than regular ice cream, and some fruity flavors are even fat free.

Have you heard of this gelato shop? I discovered it has several locations all over the U.S. (and Mexico!).
Don't mind if I do... Amarena Black Cherry Swirl (with a side of Cookie Dough - it's nearly impossible for me to resist cookie dough, of any kind).

This sweet treat reminded me a little bit of Kilauea Ice Cream. Brittny at Pacuigo promised she'd have some Lychee in one of these days.

PS: Date night started here. Highly recommend, especially on Two-for-One Tuesdays and especially during happy hour.

4.12.2011

new wknd recipe: lemon, ginger and white chocolate scones

Yay; finally, a new weekend recipe. On Saturday, I finally tended to my scone craving that's been lingering ever since our Scottsdale visit to Olive & Ivy. I can still taste that crumbly, moist scone with a tint of lemon that was absolute perfection.
When scone baking, I don't venture far. The BC has never let me down, but I found this Pithy & Cleaver recipe that looked too good to pass up. After a delicious experience baking with ginger, I had a feeling this would not disappoint, and it didn't. Scone fans, rejoice.

Lemon-ginger-white chocolate Scones from Pithy and Cleaver (with a few notes)
Yield: 24(ish) small/medium scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3 sticks butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
3/4 cups buttermilk
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Extras:
1 egg + water for eggwash
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients and mix lightly: flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and powdered ginger.

Add the butter and mix until the butter is broken down into the size of small peas or coarse bread crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and lemon zest, and slowly add to the butter mixture. The dough will be sticky.

Add the white chocolate and crystallized ginger and mix until just blended.

Dump the dough out to a lightly floured surface or pastry board, and shape or roll out the dough to about 3/4-to-1 inch thick. It helps to flour your hands and rolling pin. You want to see lumps of butter in the dough. That's the good stuff.

Cut by hand or with a cookie cutter (I used a fluted square cutter and halved into triangles) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Lightly brush the tops of each scone with the egg wash mixture: beat one egg with a drizzle of water. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 25-30 minutes, until scones are golden brown.
A few scone baking notes:
+ On butter: before you do anything, cube the butter and put it back into the frig, cubed, to keep it nice and cold until you are ready to use it.
+ I used a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to do all my mixing; Pithy & Cleaver used a pastry cutter and some elbow grease. I love a pastry cutter, but I love my stand mixer more.
+ I let my rolling pin hang out in the freezer while I prep and mix, so it's nice and cold when I'm ready to use it. This random tip came from a nice lady at Williams-Sonoma a few years ago, when I attempted my first pie crust.
+ Buttermilk trick reminder: here. I just hate buying it and wasting it.

4.08.2011

some pretty, good reads.

Have you read Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life? It is such a wonderful cookbook / memoir, and I was reminded of it a couple of weeks ago by The Chic Line (thank you!). I read it last year, on loan from my sweet friend, Lisa, and I loved it so much, I bought myself a copy. It sits, well-read, and covered in post-it notes, on my nightstand to this day.

So, this week, when I read that Molly's second book is on the way, I was tickled. I was so happy. If you've never visited her blog, go... get lost and enjoy her stories and her food and mark your calendars for Spring 2013 when [fingers-crossed], Delancey will be on bookstands. YAY!

Elsewhere in blog land, I came across a few other posts, worthy of sharing:

+ In its own category: the wedding of Ryan and Kathryn, of Snippet & Ink. You don't want to miss anything, so follow these links for: Kathryn's favorite photos; the video (of all videos); her wedding story; about the San Francisco venue; the flowers; prep details; the invitations; extra details; their wedding portraits. Now, for my favorite posts - about their ceremony: part I; part II; and part III.

+ Malted Milk Butterscotch Blondies from Pithy and Cleaver. I'm so in. I'm such a sucker for Whoppers.

+ Save-the-Dates that I'd save in the forever folder, from Oh So Beautiful Paper.

I wish you a wonderful weekend. I hope I to get some cooking in so we can talk food next week.

As for this week's end: more ranunculus. Because, why not? And, because, on an average Tuesday, when you come home to a bunch like this and a homemade dinner, your whole week gets turned around (oh, and alstroemeria is my absolute favorite filler that is so much more than filler).
Cheers!

4.07.2011

rugs, anyone?

I'm not making any decisions, yet, but, on the brain lately are rugs. Specifically, for the office / nursette.

We currently have a black-and-white striped 5'x8' Ballard Designs rug occupying the space (a great sale find, two years ago), but since I'm leaning more towards whites and grays, we'll store what we have, for now, in favor of finding something more neutral.

Size doesn't really matter, at this point, because I'm a big believer in taking time in design. I want to see what the room looks like with some new pieces before we go nuts with rugs. I'm also okay using a few small rugs, rather than one large one. All TBD, but, for the record, here's what I'm crushing on.
{Farrah Rug from Ballard; Isola Bella Bathmat from Anthropologie; Diamond Khaki Rug from Dash & Albert}
{Coventry Jute Rug from Ballard; Coqo Floral Rug from Anthropologie; Lighthouse Rug from Dash & Albert}