... and mostly I was working. It was a very busy time at work this past week. But on Friday, I cut out a little early to meet Tracey, Mike, and Matt at La Boîte.
I had wanted to take M&M to La Boîte when they visited in November, but that visit didn't happen because the only weekend they were free was two weekends after Sandy, and after having been without power and living with friends for many days, Tracey wanted to keep everyone around to relax and enjoy being at home again. It didn't look like we'd be able to get there before Christmas, until Tracey remembered the guys had a half day on Friday.
I had read a few articles about LB and its owner, Lior Lev Sercarz, and somewhere along the way, I had convinced myself it might be possible for the 'phews to make their own custom blend. That was really too ambitious. They're not so experienced at cooking yet (and neither am I) that they need their own spice mix. And it takes months for Sercarz to craft a blend for an individual chef client, so the cost of his time would have been prohibitive. Maybe one day, when they're both celebrity chefs, they'll get their own spice mix named after themselves.
We had fun sniffing the samples of Sercarz's spice blends. Sercarz's book, The Art of Blending, and a large-postcard-sized listing of the selections were there to offer suggestions on what to use each blend in. The book also had some recipes for every blend. I asked the guys if they wanted to get the book, but they didn't think it was necessary. I like that the guys don't want to get things just to get things; they want them to be useful.
I bought M&M four blends: Ararat, Cataluna, Orchidea, and Reims. And I bought Tracey a chocolate bar containing Reims. I didn't buy any spices for Tony and me because Sercarz confirmed what I had anticipated: He doesn't put anything containing gluten in his mixes, but he can't guarantee they don't contain gluten because he bakes in the same location where he mixes the spices.
Here are Bug and the boys posing in the store.
And here are the boys posing with me at the store.
Tracey treated Tony and me to dinner at Druids. Well, Tony, who met up with us at the restaurant, got only wine after eating something at home because he didn't think he could get something GF at Druids. Tracey and I had both tried to find a GF place, but La Boîte is pretty far out of the way in Hell's Kitchen, on 11th Avenue, so we couldn't find anything promising relatively close by that wasn't booked up for the theater crowd. Tony had said not to worry about finding a place; he was content to have just a glass of wine or a glass of wine and a salad.
The 'phews both got the soup special, Chicken Corn Chowder, to start. I tried some of Matt's, and it was delicious. Tracey and Matt split a steak, and Mike had a caesar salad for his main course. I had a salad starter and the pasta special, spinach fettuccine with chicken in tomato sauce. All of our dishes were quite good. Druids exceeded my expectations regarding the quality of the food, and I liked the ambiance. It felt like a cozy neighborhood bar where you would feel equally comfortable having a drink and bringing your family for dinner.
The bakery I pass on the way to my gym had a Grinch-themed cake on a rotating stand in its window yesterday.
This week's flowers from the Greenmarket are anemones, in blues and purples.
Last night, Tony made Ginger Beef with white rice and romanesco roasted in lemon juice. I dug it all. Except for the wine, which I've cropped out of the photo. It was a big fat nothing.
For lunch today, I made chicken roasted with leeks and Penzeys Spices' Sunny Paris blend, which contains purple shallots, chives, green peppercorn, basil, tarragon, chervil, bay leaf, and dill; mashed potatoes and Gold Ball turnips; and roasted parsnips in pumpkin seed oil. Tony had really liked the parsnips cooked that way when I made them a few weeks ago.
This morning, I made two batches of the Spiced Marble Donuts to take down to South Jersey for Christmas. I halved the amount of salt in both the chocolate sauce and the donut batter. Everything went off without a hitch, although I came very close to using ground mustard instead of ginger in the batter.
I also made—for dinner and to take to South Jersey—Thai-Spiced Sweet Potato Soup patterned on the side dish I mentioned in my previous post, where I also mentioned the donuts. I started with vegetable broth that Tony made and froze last week. Everything else was like that side dish. I sprinkled a little more of the Bangkok Blend in my bowl tonight.
I used the juice of eight limes and a whole sinkful of sweet potatoes that I bought from the BodhitreeFarm stand at the Abingdon Square Greenmarket yesterday.