Monthly Archives: September 2008


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about our apartment renovations. Things have gone downhill very fast. Our contractor left the country because “his brother was sick and dying.” He left his employees in charge of finishing the work, and his phone has been off for 3 weeks now. We were very upset with the fact that we couldn’t get in touch with our contractor, but we were at least happy his employees continued to come to work. They took plenty of days off and we had to watch them like hawks to fix multiple mistakes, but they continued working. Finally, last night they decided they couldn’t work anymore without receiving more money from either their boss or us. We have already paid for the work to be completed – especially since they are 2 weeks over schedule. We refused to pay them again, so they walked out last night. Luckily, there is very little to be finished now, but I am beyond angry about the situation. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and I am waiting to see if the contractor ever comes back and contacts us.

In the meantime, we are lucky we didn’t pay the final payment and we will use that money to finish the work with another contractor.

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La Pizza Fresca

My mom is in town visiting and MM and I wanted to take her to have some good Italian pizza. Our favorite to order in is Luzzo’s, but to go sit in Luzzo’s is not the most relaxing and company-enjoying environment (aka loud and very Naples). So, we decided the next best pizza is La Pizza Fresca.

After a long time of struggling with all of the pizza options, my mom got the Asparagi (Grilled asparagus with robiola cheese and pancetta (Italian bacon)). I got the speciali de giorno – tonno pizza – with black olives, capers, San Maranzano tomatoes and basil. MM got the Margherita – as always. We all exchanged one piece each to have a sample of everything. It was heaven.

The atmosphere is also very pleasant – nice service, good wine, and nice lighting. The prices weren’t too bad – with an appetizer and pizza each and a bottle of wine, it was about $50 each.

Recommended for pizza lovers…

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Zucchini Fusilli

Another yummy and easy pasta recipe that incorporates one of my favorites: zucchini!


1 box de Cecco fusilli
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion
4 Tblsp olive oil
2 zucchini (sliced thinly)
handful of coarse sea salt
1 Tblsp black olive paste


boil water for pasta – add handful of salt just before adding pasta
sautee chopped garlic and onions – do not burn garlic
add black olive paste
when onions are translucent, add chopped zucchini
sautee zucchini till translucent
when pasta is al dente, strain, and add to sauce
add olive oil as needed to keep from burning
turn up heat and let flavors mix
serve with parmigiano cheese on top, if desired

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Terra Blues

MM and I love blues joints. When we first began dating, one of the things I fell in love with was MM’s passion about listening to some good blues. It’s so old world New York, and I love that.

We have a few favorites places, but one I would recommend is Terra Blues. Its more upbeat and energetic than a few of the low key and laid back blues joints. It’s also less touristy than the Blue Note. We’re going to take my mom there this weekend – she’s visiting from Pittsburgh, and she loves the blues!

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Chino’s & Chow Bar

MM and I love to decompress over a lychee martini and saketini a couple nights a week after work. It gives us a great chance to enjoy chatting with one another to learn how the other’s day went. The martinis don’t hurt either!

MM currently lives in the West Village until we’re married and I live in Gramercy. It just so happens that one restaurateur must have had us in mind when he created Chow Bar in the West Village and a sister restaurant, Chino’s, in Gramercy. Both have the best lychee martinis and saketinis!

I highly recommend stopping in – either east side or west side!

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Autumn Sandwich

If you’re like me and the cooler air and blue skies have you craving for Thanksgiving a little bit early, try this sandwich recipe. It will keep you satisfied and excited for turkey day all autumn long…

fresh oven roasted turkey
cranberry sauce
brie cheese
on ciabatta
Add bacon or spicy mustard to add even more diverse flavor! Yummm

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Korean BBQ

Being from Pittsburgh (aka “da burgh”), I had never had Korean BBQ before living in NYC. I also feel as though I am one of the privileged in NYC to know just how amazing this “other Asian” food is. I work with primarily Koreans and our offices are near KTown, so I tend to get my fix pretty often. MM and I have decided that Don’s Bogum is by far our favorite – not only for the food but for the more modern decor and the manager who always pours over us when we walk in.

When we’re not in the mood to venture all the way up to 32nd Street on the weekends, we head to Do Hwa on Carmine. It’s a great restaurant with good drinks, nice atmosphere, and nice service. But, something is still missing from the KTown experience. It seems that the restaurants uptown never have an issue with how many of the small plates your table can devour – they always bring more. On Carmine, the service is slightly more “West Village” and they don’t give so freely.

Being a patron on 32nd Street is definitely more spoiling, but I would recommend Korean BBQ over most restaurants any day.

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Insalata Caprese

I think it is important for Americans to have an idea of the standard dishes that are typically referred to with their Italian names on menus. One standard is the insalata caprese – this is not a typical salad in American terms, but it is delicious!

Insalata Caprese is a salad in the style of Capri. It comes from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil. It is seasoned with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Ideally, the mozzarella is di bufala campana, the olive oil is extra virgin from the peninsula of Sorrento and the tomatoes and basil are grown in the full sun of the mezzogiorno (half day). The dish reproduces the colors of the flag of Italy – red, white & green.

MM and I create a slightly different version with sliced mozzarella di bufala and sliced plum tomatoes sprinkled with course sea salt and oregano and drizzled with olive oil (not extra virgin).

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Black Olive Paste

MM and I tend to go to our default pasta quite often…last night, for instance. We love San Marenzano tomatoes with onion and garlic and olive oil as a sauce with any type of pasta. To add a little flavor to the typical when you want to switch it up a bit, add some black olive paste when you’re cooking the garlic in the olive oil at the beginning. You won’t believe the difference it makes! If you like black olives (even a little bit), this will definitely work in almost any pasta sauce.

We find pre-made black olive pasta at Gracefully supermarket, but I am sure you can find something at almost any gourmet grocery store…

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Gnocchi con Gamberetti e Pomodori – Italian Farmhouse Dinner

While in Italy, the day of Saint Mary was on Thursday. MM’s entire family has the middle name “Maria” which is the Italian name for Mary. The day of the saint of your name is a celebration in Italy – similar to a birthday. Since it was the day of everyone’s middle name, we went out for a big celebration dinner.

We went to an old farmhouse with a restaurant outside of Milano – about 30 minutes. It was amazing – the old farmhouse and barn have been completely renovated and turned into a classic and elegant restaurant with a warm and cozy feel.

The menu could only be found in Italy and it made it very difficult to choose – they are known for their carne (meat), but I had been wanting to have some real Italian gnocchi all week. I thought “where better to get gnocchi than in a cozy old farmhouse?” AND the gnocchi came with gamberetti and pomodori – too good to pass up. I went with an antipasto to share with MM, the gnocchi and ended the dinner with tonno carpaccio (raw tuna).

Oh – I almost forgot…I also had crepes with strawberries and vanilla creme for dessert…YUM!

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