Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 966 : Cheese Selections at Union Market

Dean and Deluca for the 21st century?

How about Union Market? With locations in Brooklyn and one recently opened location on Avenue A and Houston in Manhattan, this upmarket neighborhoody grocery shop celebrates local small purveyors and fresh seasonal produce. Walking into the location on Houston street, one is greeted with a colorful and sumptuous display of vegetables and fruits, continuing through the market, one encounters the cheese counter -- full of local greats from East Coast creameries and well curated European superstars. And past the cheese, which I might have dawdled at for quite a while, is your prepared foods, meats, fish, pastas, rice and baked goods and more. 

So what to get at the cheese counter?

How about a block of Plymouth Artisan Cheese Company's Hunter hailing from Plymouth, Vermont. Crafted in one of the oldest creameries in Vermont in a factory built by none other than Calvin Coolidge's father. Hunter is a two year aged cow's milk granular curd cheese that is round and crumbly, nutty and buttery, honest and rustic and the perfect companion to a nice glass of medium bodied red wine!

What else to get?

How about one of Vermont Creamery's Bijou?

This miniature roundelle of pasteurized goat cheese is modeled on the classic Loire Valley goat's milk cheese, Crottin, but is quintessentially Vermont in flavor and infused with the local terroir. Tangy, chalky, citrusy, and bright with a milky, grassy round yet light finish. Fun and fanciful, this is approachable yet dynamic with a fabulous depth.

These are just two of the wonderful selections available, there are plenty more for all of us to discover. But in the meantime, stop into Union Market for your neighborhood local grocer -- I guarantee you'll discover fantastic new cheeses, produce, and products. Whether you stop into the Houston Street location or one of the markets in Brooklyn, its worth a trip.

Union Market
240 East Houston Street

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 965 : Brunch at Dressler

Seems like we're on a bit of a whirlwind tour of outer borough brunches as of late continuing with today's trip to Dressler in South Williamsburg. Located on Broadway right off of Bedford a quick five minute walk from the Marcy Avenue stop and across the street from Peter Luger sits arguably one of Williamsburg's, and Brooklyn itself's, best restaurants, offering a wide array of contemporary American food and well curated cocktails. Having earned a Michelin star yearly since 2008, it was definitely worth a trip on the C train followed by the F train followed by the J train, lots of trains for a Sunday morning after a half marathon.

Walking into Dressler, the first thing one notices is the absolutely totally and completely fantastic metal work done by Brooklyn Navy Yard sculptors around the room and even including the chandeliers. An open yet intimate, light and airy space that has one foot in the contemporary dining world and one foot in the fabulous cocktail salons of the 40s and 50s.

What attracted me to their brunch menu was the sense of ingenuity and inventiveness of their brunch offerings. Brunch is always a difficult meal -- some restaurants blow it out of the park and impress their diners with creative interpretations of classics and well some restaurants just play it safe.

So how did Dressler do?

I had their Pecorino Frittata, but with eggs whites -- egg whites, fried cauliflower and brussel sprouts served with a lemon aioli and topped with arugula and pecorino. Wow, was this a dish that had my name written all over it -- a few of my favorite things and done well in a rustic yet elevated manner, aromatic and herbaceous yet not too fussy, the perfect brunch dish after a half marathon on a cold January day.

I look forward to returning for dinner in the near future.

149 Broadway

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 964 : Dreaming of Sunshine and Flowers and Warmth

Are you dreaming of days spent lounging around in Sheep's Meadow, drinking fabulous cocktails complete with that paper umbrella that just screams summertime, live concerts outdoors and more? On days like today when the temperature was 12 degrees while running, one's mind surely does wander to warmer and brighter times of year. A morsel of Hudson Flower and a glass of light Pinot Noir will transport you right through to Springtime months, if not all the way to Summer!

Hudson Flower is a new creation brought to you by Old Chatham Shepherding Company and Murray's Cheese. Hudson Flower starts with the base of Old Chatham's Kinderhook Creek, a pasteurized 100% sheep's milk soft ripened roundelle of soft, creamy, cheesy goodness. This fresh, honest cheese is then coated in a special blend of  rosemary, lemon thyme, elderberries, marjoram, and hop flowers, and consequently aged for approximately a month. Modeled on the fabulous Corsican cheese, Fleur du Maquis, Hudson Flower takes the infused, aromatic, herbaceous cheese to a whole new level. Rich and dense, yet light and creamy, rustic and alive, this cheese will just awaken your senses. I like to enjoy this with a light Pinot Noir, take for example McCall's Pinot Noir from the North Fork of Long Island.

Image courtesy of www.murrayscheese.com

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 963 : Brrr, it's cold outside!

It is officially the coldest day of the year thus far -- this morning when I was running, it was 11 degrees but with the windchill it felt like -4 degrees. I know your first thought is, "Gosh, she is totally crazy to be running in this weather!" But it is truly invigorating and you feel great when you are finished. Granted after the fact, I most certainly do not want to spend any time outside, it feels like we are living in the Midwestern Tundra, but nope we are living in the Big Apple, my friends.

In honor of it being the coldest day of the year, I thought we would suggest an American Fondue recipe:

2 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 cups of grated Reading - Spring Brook Farm's semi-soft buttery and round American interpretation of the classic French melting superstar, Raclette. This three month aged cheese is sweet and honest with a rustic  nuttiness and a grassy round finish. Warming and comforting, this is the perfect start to our American fondue.

1 1/2 cups of grated Tarentaise -  Crafted also by Spring Brook Farm and Thistle Hill Farm as well, both located in Vermont, this is an organic raw cow's milk cheese aged for at least six months, traditionally more like twelve to eighteen months. Rich and round, full of nutty, caramelly, butterscotchy notes and a grassy, rustic, barnyardy-ness, this cheese is the perfect next addition in flavor profile for your fondue -- bold and dynamic yet delicate and refined.

1 1/2 cups of grated Pleasant Ridge Reserve -- Modeled on the European great, Beaufort, this Wisconsin native is the last cheese needed in our American fondue. An aged raw cow's milk cheese that is roasty and round, buttery and butterscotchy with a fantastic rustic Alpine style nuttiness.

3 tablespoons of flour - it helps to combine the flour with the grated cheese before as it will disperse throughout the fondue and help thicken it.

Dash of sea salt, black pepper, and fresh rosemary to cut through the creamy cheesy-ness. Depending you can add a touch of nutmeg as well for a homey aromatic bent. But definitely choose either the rosemary or the nutmeg, the combination of both will be totally overwhelming.

1 1/2 cups of dry white wine - something that will give the cheese combination a nice minerality and create a nice balanced lightness.

I like to add a few tablespoons of brandy to enhance the depth of flavor profile of the fondue.

Super simple to prepare, you will be warmed from the inside out on this frigid eve!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 962 : Maison Premiere Brunch

Located on Bedford Avenue between Grand Avenue and South 1st streets sits the fantastic oyster and cocktail joint Maison Premiere. Known for their awesome oyster happy hour where their extensive list of oysters are just $1 a piece and an experimental yet inventive cocktail list, this sexy and old timey place is always packed to the gills. Boasting the largest Absinthe list in New York City, Maison Premiere is inspired by the cocktail dens of an earlier era, think F Scott Fitzgerald meets the mansions of Newport meets the jazz age meets Coco Channel's Paris of the 1920s.

Towards the end of 2012, Maison Premiere launched a chef tasting's menu along with a la carte selections in the evenings and a brunch menu on the weekends.

Expecting the small space to be absolutely packed at brunch, in the same way it is during happy hour and in the evenings, I called before we arrived yesterday to make sure there was space. I was informed that there was plenty of space, do not worry. Well it turns out we were in fact the only table in the place when we first walked in at 12:30 yesterday. I guess Maison Premiere brunch has yet to catch on in the way that their cocktails and oyster happy hour have.

A glass of bubbles and a French Press coffee to start, this was definitely going to be a lovely meal. My dining companions tried some of their brunch cocktails which ranged from the Coat of Arms crafted with Absinthe, lime, white grapes, lemon bitters, egg whites and fennel pollen to the Channel Coast with Cinnamon Mezcal, Nux Alpina, Cider and Demerara to a Breakfast Julep. Each cocktail was truly inventive and unique yet brunchy and fabulous -- no straight forward mimosas here.

And what of the food? Yes we knew that the oysters were to die for and just absolutely fabulous, but this was about trying their brunch. And try their brunch we did.

I had their Eggs & Black Truffle dish which was composed of a petite round wrought iron pot full of scrambled eggs infused with black truffle shavings and topped with a decadent and melt in your mouth parmesan mousse. Rustic yet elevated, dynamic yet simple, this egg dish was paired with pickled cauliflower topped paremsan shavings and a few mache leaves to brighten up the round warmth of your eggs. Just the way a brunch dish should be -- inventive yet paired down, comforting yet elegant and the perfect way to start off your Sunday.

Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 961 : Great Right Now at Murray's

What should you get to kick off your 3 day weekend at Murray's?

Well I recommend :

Von Trapp Farmstead's Oma -- Crafted by the real live Von Trapp family, of the Sound of Music fame, this is a raw cow's milk washed rind cheese aged for between two and three months at the fantastic Cellars at Jasper Hill. Oma, meaning grandmother is named for Erica von Trapp, the grandmother of the siblings that currently run the Vermont cheese, beer, and inn operation in Stowe. Oma walks the most perfect line of earthy, rustic, farmsteady, washed rind stink and silky smooth buttery milky sweetness. This unique washed rind Vermont creation has the most fabulously dynamic depth and breadth of flavor nuances and is absolutely totally and completely perfect right now! I would enjoy it with a local cider, perhaps one of Farnum Hill Ciders  -- think of the classic Normandy style pairing of Pont L'Eveque and local cider.

Image courtesy of www.cellarsatjasperhill.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 960 : Fast, Easy, Fresh Meals

I recognize that its been a while since we've done some cooking together my Fromagical friends! So how about my favorite raw kale salad?

What is in this fantastic salad?

1 bunch of raw kale
1 avocado
Handful of Roasted Almonds
Grated Parmesan
Dash of lemon
2 diced kumato tomatoes
1/4 of a fennel bulb diced
Fresh Thyme
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper

Yes I know you are thinking, gosh that is a lot of ingredients for a raw kale salad but trust me it works all together. First off, for the kale, tear into small pieces, drizzle with olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, sea salt and mashed avocado. Then with your hands, blend and massage the kale until each leaf of kale is equally coated with olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, and avocado. Top with roasted almonds, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Let the kale soak everything up for ten to fifteen minutes -- it will give each morsel more of a depth of flavor.

Meanwhile dice up your tomatoes, fennel, and mozzarella in a separate bowl, drizzle some olive oil and fresh thyme over the mixture, and then combine. Add sea salt and pepper.

Combine both bowls and serve with a nice Cotes du Rhone.
Simple, flavorful, light and delightful -- it will brighten your dreary Wednesday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 959 : M Wells Brunch

Late in 2011, Long Island City lost one of its new found treasures -- M Wells Diner -- helmed by Canadian chef, Hugue Dufour. This diner had quickly gained popularity by crafting and serving a blend of inventive and decadent dishes, sure there was quite a focus on offal but it truly was a dining window into the unique mind of Dufour.

Fast forward to the end of 2012, M Wells reappears! Where? As a dinette housed inside of PS 1 MOMA also in Long Island City. Inspired by the museum building's history, M Wells Version 2.0 modeled itself on the melange of a cafeteria and a classroom. Long desks with tables attached like the ones you sat in during those awkward adolescent years along with long tables with cubby holes for your notepads and pencils and a paired down aesthetic fill the room. The menu came in the form of chalk on a clipboard.

So what did we try at M Wells Dinette?

The Broccoli Caesar which was composed of crunchy broccoli florets, smoked herring, a generous amount of grated Parmesan and baguette crisp crumbles. Arriving at the table like broccoli with cheese "snow," this was a simple and rustic yet flavorful and aromatic take on a classic.

Next up was the Potato and Uni which was one poached egg surrounded by a wreath of purple potatoes, morsels of Uni and a tarragon sabayon. A play on a traditional poached egg dialing up the decadence in an understated yet rich manner. However the dish needed something to cut through the richness of the egg, sabayon, and Uni -- providing a flavor and texture contrast. As is, it was a dish full of roundness and weight, designed to comfort.

Next up was the Razor Clam Ceviche -- not your every day ingredient featured in ceviche and boy did it wow! Delicate and decadent, aromatic and herbaceous - this was an elegant ceviche, perfect with a glass of bubbles.

Next up was the Eggs and Tomato Pot which was a classic, homey bowl of tomato sauce with a poached egg, pesto and of course Parmesan. One of my all time favorite simple dishes -- you just cannot go wrong here at brunch on a wintertime morning! It is all comfort, all the time!

Although I did not partake, I had to include a photo of the Tarragon Tongue as it was the one offal dish ordered.

Overall, a lovely reincarnation of an immediate foodie favorite. I love that the menu gets a complete overhaul on a weekly basis and look forward to returning and trying new dishes. I must say that there is something quite fabulous about dining on decadent food as an adult in a chair that brings back memories of childhood.

M Wells Dinette

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 958 : Brunch at Baracca

Located on the corner of Greenwich and Bank is Barraca, a Valencian joint opened by Jesus Nunez, originally of Graffit / Gastroarte. Opened approximately three months ago, it is a lovely new addition to the Greenwich Avenue dining options.

Walking through the door, one is greeted with a bright rustic yet sleek farmhouse room complete with Spanish pop playing in the background. The brunch menu was a lovely mix of classic egg dishes, salads, tapas, copas or Spanish style flatbreads, sandwiches, entrees and more. On Saturdays and Sundays for brunch, they offer $3 mimosas and bloody mary's to go along with their brunch offerings.

So what did we have?

Well I decided to go more lunch than brunch and we started by splitting their grilled octopus served with baby potatoes and apples in a roasted red pepper and tomato sauce with pimenton de la vera. Rustic with hints of spice yet light and flavorful, this was a lovely yet simple preparation of one of my favorite shellfish. Not at all heavy handed this dish was a celebration of the warmth of the octopus and tomato sauce -- perfect for a grey January day,

Up next I had their grilled kale salad served with grilled zucchini, Manchego cheese, apricot compote, and roasted pumpkin seeds. This sweet and savory melange of flavors highlighted the best qualities of each of the ingredients and created a perfect flavor dance on one's palate. Vegetal and green yet sweet and round, this salad was a unique combination of flavors that totally worked.

Overall, a lovely meal and a great addition to the neighborhood. I look forward to returning and exploring other dishes on the menu.

81 Greenwich Avenue

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 957 : Conch, conch, and more conch -- Dining adventures in and around Key West

Billed as the Southernmost Isle in the Continental US, Key West is part beach-town oasis, part funky artsy getaway, part party central, part laid back melting pot of sailors, fishers, runners, bikers, and more. Stunning vistas of the water and palm trees abound, warm temperatures, and brightly colored little houses make up this final Key in the chain of Florida Keys.

Curious about the dining options?

We had the pleasure of staying in a Hyatt Residence Club so that we had access our own kitchen along with having the choice to dine out. Let me tell you there is nothing quite as fabulous as a warm home cooked meal and a luxurious bath after spending twenty-four hours in a van running a 197 mile relay race.

However if you weren't interested in home cooked food, there was a wide variety of options -- of course your straight forward Italian joints, your bar food, classic American dishes, Caribbean dives, Cuban and other Central and South American cuisine, and of course fish shacks abound. Sure there were your fancier restaurants with a selection of Continental cuisine and cocktails but we did not venture to any of them. Of course we had to try conch and key lime pie and the grilled fish and their best Caribbean/Cuban/Central American joints. Unfortunately Key West is not particularly well known for their cheese selections so I wouldn't plan on finding unique cheeses on offer at the restaurants and markets on this Southernmost Isle. 

Where to go for Caribbean food?

Mo's Restaurant - Caribbean soul food done excellently well in a no nonsense, no frills joint. If you are looking for a dive-y homey meal that will warm you from the inside out. 
1116 White Street, Key West

Where to go because you're in Key West and you simply cannot miss it?

The Green Parrot - The first and last bar on US 1, this casual local's joint boasts awesome live music on weekends and a chill beachy vibe. Flipflops and a laidback attitude a must! 
601 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida

Where to go for some live music, openair seating, fun people watching and local specialties along the water?

The Conch Republic Seafood Company - Order the smoked fish dip, grab a stool at the bar and a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and watch the people pass you by.
631 Greene Street, Key West, Florida

Stunning views, classic American food done well on a private island?

Well then head to Latitudes. Located on Sunset Key, this restaurant that is part of the Westin Sunset Key Cottages offers breathtaking ocean views, great cocktails and good food. You must take the boat from Mainland Key West to arrive there. 

Where's the best key lime pie?

200 Elizabeth Street, Key West

What about if you are in need of a bite on the road between Key West and Miami? 

Located just removed from Overseas Highway in Islamorada is Lazy Days. Situated right on the beach, this simple restaurant offered the freshest fish and the most flavorful conch ceviche of the trip. Definitely do not miss the view, it is guaranteed to melt away all of your problems. 
Lazy Days 79867 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL

Overall - a great time was had by all on the Southernmost Isle. Sun, fun, relaxing and more!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 956: Ragnar

My dear friends, I apologize for the break in my Fromagical musings the past few days but we are back on track now with a bit of a break from cheese and a recap of my first Ragnar Relay series.

First off, what is a Ragnar Relay?

Named after a 9th century Norse Viking commander, Ragnar Lodbrok, who was an adventure seeker, living life to its fullest, taking risks, and really pushing himself to conquer each and every obstacle placed in his path. Ragnar's founders were inspired by this limit-pushing Viking to create a series of overnight relay races across the United States. Meant to bring people together through a shared love of running, adventure, challenges and more -- Ragnar relays have taken off in the past few years. Whether its twelve people in two vans running the approximately 200 miles of the relay or six people in one van running an ultra, it sure is an experience.

Now that you know what a Ragnar relay is, lets get to telling you about my personal experience participating in Ragnar Key West - starting in Miami on January 4th and ending in Key West on January 5th. Prior to arriving in Florida, I had been assigned leg #4 which meant I would be running legs #4, #16, and #28 out of 36 legs divided into different mileage amounts. Pause for freakout when I learned that I would be running over a series of bridges leaving main land Florida and arriving in Key Largo. Second freakout moment, learn that I would be running these legs after sundown. Prepare self and get down to Miami on January 3rd to begin 2013 off right with an adventure of a totally unique sort.

4:30am, January 4th, ding ding, my alarm was going off letting me know it was time to get dressed and get in our van to drive to the starting line located at Historic Virginia Key Park Trust just a short drive over Rickenbacker Causeway from South Beach. Yes it was still definitely dark out after we received our safety briefing and we were waiting to send off our first runner to kick off our Ragnar race!

6:30am and our first runner was off! Adrenaline pumping, lets get going, the other four of us (yes we only had five in our van) had to get to our first exchange so that runner number two could be ready for the handoff. Getting in our van, we sped through the sleepy streets of Miami to arrive at Exchange number one with time to spare. Runner number one arrived and handed off the snap bracelet / baton to runner number two. Ok, I think we got the hang of this, we would send our runner off, hop in the van, drive to the next exchange and await our next runner. Three runners down and it was time for me to start running, I had a four mile leg that took me through the streets of South Miami starting at Fellowship Church and ending at Tropical Park. As the race had waved starts of the 500 teams involved, I was never really running with more than a handful of people at a time but that didn't matter, my race mentality kicked in the second that orange snap bracelet was placed on my wrist.

Running next to the large expanses of road in Miami, I got to thinking how lucky I was to have the opportunity to participate in this amazing experience, definitely a once in a life time moment. Pausing to recognize how running truly makes me who I am and that this relay race was a great way to start 2013 off right as a runner.

By 9am, I had finished my first Ragnar leg; thoughts buzzing through my head about how I would just be getting ready to go into the office if I were home in New York City. But no, I was hopping back into our white van to speed off to the next exchange.

Two more legs down and van one of Team 476 had finished our first round of running and it was just 10:15am. What were we supposed to do till we started running again in the town of Homestead, Florida? 

How about breakfast - lunch - dinner all rolled into one?

Egg whites with spinach, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, caramelized onions and Gruyere and a green salad. 

Now what? With over another three hours to kill before we started again we decided to head to Exchange 12 where we would start our second legs hours later. Van number two was running behind giving us extra time to explore the ins and outs of the Homestead Raceway track (exchange 12). The race provided you with s'mores, water, and free massages at this stop should you feel the desire to fuel yourself or loosen up your muscles. Sitting and waiting at this race track in small-town Florida, you really had the time to think about what's come before and what was next to come -- both in the race and in life.

4:15pm, close to twelve hours since we woke up, the first runner in our van started running again. Reflective vests on, headlamps perched atop our heads and flashing butt lights for safety purposes were put on by the entire team. Time to resume our running and our van travelling, this time it was going to be in gator country and it was going to get dark before we knew it! Southern Glades Park was coming up -- runners two and three had the pleasure of running on a dirt trail alongside a canal populated apparently with gators and well nothing really to see.

8pm, close to two hours after I was supposed to start my second leg I started running at the base of the South Glades Canal trail, up a ramp and onto US 1, the highway stretching from one snowy end of the East coast to the sunny beachy other end of the coast. I was to run on the shoulder of the highway with cars coming towards me, with my headlamp, reflective vest, butt lamp and of course my tunes on full blast. Originally I had been worried about going over the bridges that connected mainland Florida with the keys but I did not have to worry remotely about that as I could not see much of anything besides the on-coming lights of cars, and when there were no cars, it was just me and the stars and of course the smells of low tide, not particularly pleasant when you are doing an 11.8 mile run at night. Water station one passed, symbolizing I was a third finished with my run, then came water station number two symbolizing I was half done. A quick stop and removal of my head lamp to pour water over my head and whoops the head lamp strap broke, fifteen minutes of frustrated fiddling later I was back on the road. Focusing on getting to Key Largo, I zoned out and started meditating to get through the remainder of my run. A whirlwind of one foot in front of another, I had arrived in Key Largo and was not far from the exchange. Minutes later I had handed off my snap bracelet to the next runner, it was past 9pm and we had two more runners to go before a quick respite at a hotel in Marathon, Florida, somewhat apropos of a town to stop in, right?

It was past midnight by the time we entered our hotel room, all of us exhausted and ready for a shower and a bed for a few hours of shut-eye.

Ding, ding, it was 4:30am and time to get moving to the nearby exchange. Our first runner started running just past 6am when our original projection was 3am, whoops, we were behind schedule! Runner one checked off the rest of Marathon, Florida and it was time for runner two to cross seven mile bridge, the bridge made famous by True Lies and truly the beginning of the keys! Sunrise running on a bridge, check! Runner three finished up his last leg and it was time for me to run 3.5 miles starting in Big Pine Key and finishing in Mariposa at National Key Deer Refuge. How was I going to do on so little sleep and over twenty four hours in a van? Time would only tell! 21 minutes later, I had finished my last 3.5 miles to conclude my three legs and my portion of the Ragnar Relay.

Wow! What a whirlwind! I had done it! I had decided to take on the challenge of an overnight relay of 200 miles stretching from Miami to the Florida Keys and had done better than I expected on each of my legs. People told me I was crazy for doing this and that it was a ridiculous way to spend a vacation but it was one of the best and most unusual and unique experiences of my life. A great way to start off 2013 on the right foot by a challenge unlike anything other -- pushing myself to my limits in more ways than one. Here's to a year of eye-opening experiences, unbelievable adventures, crazy challenges, and lots of laughter!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 955: Here's to 2013!

Fromagical hopes that everyone had a very healthy and happy New Year and is starting off 2013 on the right foot! A few days late but better late than never!

2013 was started off surrounded by good friends, good times, good food and good drinks.

New Year's Day brunch was spent at the new Blue Ribbon Izakaya on the LES. A lively, warm and inviting space full of families enjoying their first meal of the year together, groups of friends exploring the restaurant's new brunch offerings and couples starting the new year off with a bite and a drink. Here for $40 you had your choice of a buffet composed of fresh sushi, cured meats and cheeses, yogurt, granola and fruit, bagels, cream cheese and lox and prawns. But that was not all! You could order any of the dishes off the a la carte menu as well. And order off the menu we did! Of the dishes I had the pleasure of trying my favorite was the Cheesy Rice an Lump Crabmeat scramble with tomatillo and fresh herbs -- Asian interpretation of risotto -- creamy, warm, and comforting. There was also the LEO scramble composed of fried rice, scrambled eggs, onions and lox that was satisfying and filling on a chilly first day of the New Year. Sure there were many other dishes ordered that I didn't participate in but each of which was a fun and inventive take on East meets West brunch and at $40 for this wide array of dishes, you really couldn't do better! A great way to kick off the New Year!

Fast forward approximately thirty six hours - it was time to get on a plane for warmth and a 200 mile relay race, called Ragnar, from Miami to the Florida Keys. Checking two things off my list that I have always wanted to do - go to the Florida Keys and do one of these relay races. So stay tuned for a full recap of the race starting tomorrow morning at 6:30am. Here's to following your passions, expanding your horizons, and exploring new opportunities in a new year!

Fromagical wishes each and everyone of you a happy, healthy, and absolutely fabulous 2013!!

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