Feb 28, 2013

Pho Sho!

I am a huge fan of Asian cuisine; Japanese, Chinese, Thai - you name it, I love it! So, when I heard from a friend about her experience with pho, which is Vietnamese, I knew I had to try it. I did a bit of Google-ing and realized there was a pho restaurant in just one town over - Pho Vietnam! It was fate!!

The restaurant itself is in a small shopping strip in Danbury. If I wasn't looking for it, I would have missed it! The outside of the restaurant struck me as "blah" but I stepped inside I was pleasantly surprised. The restaurant is TINY! I'm pretty sure they can't sit more than 40 people at the same time. But I loved that aspect - made the room feel so cozy and more like home. Also, I loved the ceiling inside (don't tell me I'm the only one who looks at the ceilings of places??).

The restaurant does not serve alcohol, but they do allow you to bring your own! And luckily there is a package store about 10 feet away from the front door! 

What's a dinner out without a couple appetizers? First, my date and I tried the Vietnamese Egg Rolls, also known as Cha Gio. They consisted of ground pork, crab meat, and wood eared mushrooms. They were served with a nuoc mam dipping sauce (which, to me, was like a sweet vinegar). They were delicious! They were super crispy and served piping hot! 

We then decided to try a "lighter" appetizer, and went for the Spring Rolls, or Goi Cuon. Which were stuffed with poached shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, mint, cilantro, carrots, rice noodles, and lettuce. These were just as yummy, and were devoured in minutes.

Onto the main entree! Up first - The Pho Shore! It consisted of shrimp, calamari, and fish balls! I'm not exactly sure what fish balls are, but they were mighty tasty!  There was so much seafood in that bowl! It was all cooked perfectly. The flavors were amazing. I love the herbs they used in the pho, and the broth (plus the few squirts of Sriracha) warmed me right up! 

My date and I also ordered The Pho Sizzle, which was marinated grilled steak on top of pho. I'm not a huge fan of red meat, but I still found this one so delicious, which I think says a lot! 

[Pho looking good in a close-up]
Every bowl of pho is served with some fresh bean sprouts, Vietnamese basil, and lime on the side - so you can jazz up your pho! Of course, I added it ALL. I love how these fresh ingredients gave some crunch and sweetness to the pho. 

[Don't worry - you get a spoon along with the chopsticks]
Of course I had to try a main course other than pho, so my date and I went with the Vietnamese Pork Chop  also known as Com Heo Nuong. It was a grilled lemongrass pork chop over jasmine rice and fried eggs. 

The pork chop was cooked to perfection and the sauce that they used over it was seriously addicting. I must have more!! And who doesn't love fried eggs over their meat?? If you haven't tried it - you're missing out. 

Overall, it was a great experience and I will definitely be making regular appearances at Pho Vietnam

Have you ever tried pho?

Feb 27, 2013

Carnevale di Viareggio

Carnevale came early this year and wound down this past weekend. We didn’t have a chance to venture over to the seaside city of Viareggio (actually, it’s just been really cold), but last year it was later (and thus warmer) and we got lucky with a beautiful day for an adventure. So 11 months late, consider this my ode to the spectacle that is Carnevale.

What is Carnevale, you eagerly ask? (Or maybe not, just go with it).

It’s when people walk around dressed like this.

And create papier-mâché floats like this.

[We be like "wait, what?"]
And onlookers stand around staring like this. 

[Even B made an appearance]
And the caricature floats poke fun at politicians and famous people and give us all a little comic relief.

In Viareggio, in particular, the parade route runs along the seaside avenue, parallel to the beach and spectators weave in and out, becoming a part of the parade. (...especially with so many people dressed like it's Halloween -- don't they know that's in October??)

[A happy little family of Teletubbies]
There is a contest to be the best, and in this case, bigger can oftentimes mean better. The largest floats weigh in around 40 tons each, decked out in lights and electrical movements and music and people dancing.

There's even choreography for large groups of dancers that lead the floats.

And people throw confetti to their hearts content, on the street, in the bars and stores, from balconies...

And after a long, eventful, entertaining day, it happily ends with a trip to the beach...

Have you ever been to Carnevale?? Was it in Italy or somewhere else in Europe?? Did you love it?

Feb 26, 2013

DIY: Pore Strips

I am a huge fan of the Biore pore strips - ya know those little white strips that you let dry on your face, slowly peel off, and clean out your dirty little pores? Well, I'm NOT a huge fan of the price! Especially since I would love to be able to use them on the reg without going broke! 

Well, after perusing the internets, I found out that I could make these little miracles happen in my own kitchen! For a fraction of the cost! All you need is some unflavored gelatin and some milk! 

Take a spoon full of gelatin and throw it in a microwave-safe glass. 

Then, add a spoonful of milk. I used 1%, but I don't really think that it matters!

Mix those two ingredients together. The end result should be a chunky paste.

Microwave the mixture for 10 seconds. After, the mixture should be gooey.

Grab an old makeup brush, and apply the mixture to wherever your pores need a little TLC.

Let dry for about 10 minutes, then peel it off SLOWLY! Just like you would with a store-brand pore strip! 

This concoction works just as well as the Biore pore strips (yay)! My skin and wallet will now be at peace.

Do you love the pore strips as well? What homemade beauty remedies do you use regularly? Please share!

Feb 25, 2013

Like A Big Pizza Pie, That's Amore

Growing up as a New Yorker, loving pizza just comes naturally to me. It's like...a skill. But it wasn't until I arrived in Italy that my full appreciation for the food really blossomed. It was then that I was introduced to Sunday night dinners with the family and real, homemade, magnificent, light pizza. 

Whip up the dough a couple hours in advance. You'll need:
  • 1 KG (2.2 lbs) flour
  • 50 grams of yeast
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2.5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • A pinch of salt & a pinch of sugar

Throw the flour into a bowl. Add the yeast to one of the cups of water and stir until it dissolves. Then create a hole in the center of the flour and pour the yeast/water in. Add the remaining cup of water, olive oil, milk, salt and sugar and mix. Then cover and place into the oven (which should be turned off) for two hours. If it's winter and super cold, you can turn on the oven for 10 minutes, turn it off and THEN put in the dough to sit.

Last night, we had some extra time before dinner so we made zonzelle for an appetizer. Roll out the dough, throw it into a pan with olive oil and let it sit for a few minutes.

Voila! Add some proscuitto, stracchino and rucola and you've got one of my favorite snacks!

Now for the pizza!! Roll out the dough, sprinkle some flour onto your pizza shovel (or whatever you're using to transport) and then carefully scoop that pizza up!

Evenly add tomato sauce, for which you'll need:
  • 700 grams of peeled tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A pinch of sugar
Mix it all together - easy peasy!

Pop that baby in the oven!

[Where the magic happens]
Make sure you have all your toppings ready beforehand so you can make whatever personal pizza you might like!

After about 5 minutes, take the pizza out and add the mozzarella. Then throw it back in! (There's a lot of throwing going on in this recipe).

Drizzle some olive oil on top of the pizza, grab a beer to pair with your deliciously awesome pizza and enjoy!

Have you ever made homemade pizza? Can't you just taste the difference?!