How I Spent My Birthday, Part I: BLT Steak

I want to first say a big, gargantuan THANK YOU to everyone for your kind words and Tweets on Friday for my birthday. It made the day so special and had me smiling like a creep all day long :)

On Friday evening, Shaun made reservations for us at BLT Steak. I was so excited for this! I have long been a fan of BLT Burger and had been wanting so badly to try out some of the other BLT restaurants. I will tell you this...it did not disappoint! Not only was the food fantastic, but I loved the atmosphere, a factor that can completely make or break a dining experience if you ask me. Though this was a steakhouse, it didn't feel like a stuffy gentlemen's club. Instead, it was trendy but chill and not too pretentious. Perfection.

We started our meal with the house specialties, duck mousse on toast and popovers. Though I could have taken or left the duck mousse, the popovers...Oh the popovers. I don't even really have words for these. They are giant, buttery breadlike baked goods. We tore them apart and spread butter and sea salt on top. Yum.

 

Shaun ordered a beer and I had a glass of Malbec. We ordered salads to kick off our meal. Shaun got a caesar salad (perhaps one of the best we've ever had...you know I snuck some of that for myself), while I enjoyed a beet and gorgonzola salad. I will admit, my salad was my least favorite item of the night. The beets were delicious, but overall, the salad was just too vinegary!

For the main attraction, we decided to share a steak and a seafood dish to keep things a bit lighter. Friends, I am SO glad we did this. If we had gone for 2 steaks, then I would have missed out on the best fish dish I've ever eaten. Yes, you heard that right. We enjoyed dover sole, crisped and coated with capers and a light sauce on the side.  The fish was flaky and not 'fishy' (I hate that) and the sauce. Oooooh the sauce. I do not know what was in it, but it had a capery taste. It was ah-mazing.

On the side, we ordered the potato gratin. Luckily it was a tiny portion because it was so rich, yet wonderful.

For our steak, we shared the bone-in rib eye. Though I usually like my meat done 'medium', Shaun loves medium rare, so I obliged. It was definitely a bit pink (red?!), but I grinned and beared it...and it was so tender and tasty. When at BLT...

Here's a shot of my very full plate:

Oh and I should also mention that I crossed something off my 30 by 30 list...I tried bone marrow! We had no idea that a bit of it was coming along side our steak. Shaun spread some of the marrow onto a piece of popover. It was glorious. Oily, salty, and fatty, I was instantly smitten with this rich deliciousness. It was all I hoped it would be :)

We were stuffed by the end of the meal. We decided to skip dessert (until later) and do a little walking outside first. (Not to mention that what I really wanted was a cupcake!). After dinner, we strolled down Park Avenue hand-in-hand. It was a perfect New York evening.

We strolled down to Rockefellar Center. I rejoiced that we could actually walk around and enjoy the sites without a giant crowd, like during Christmas time. Near Rock Center is one of my favorite bakeries...Magnolia Bakery!

We picked up a couple of cupcakes and some banana pudding to go. We headed home and enjoyed these on the couch while watching Breaking Bad.

Not too shabby for my 29th birthday if you ask me!

So what do you think? Are you a steak eater? Or do you prefer meals of the seafood variety?

Our 3rd Anniversary: Lobsters, SkinnyGirl & Light Horse Tavern

Yesterday Shaun and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary, after marrying on a beach in Aruba in 2008. Thank you all for your kind words :)

We actually started our anniversary celebration on Saturday evening, since Mondays are not exactly known for being the biggest celebratory night of the week. To make things a bit special, we decided to go a little bit out of the box for our dinner at home. We wanted seafood...so that's what we made. And by we, I mean Shaun prepared everything while I sat on the couch. It was heavenly.

We started the evening with grilled shrimp. Tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, these shrimp were tender with a tiny crispiness on the outside. A little homemade cocktail sauce took these to perfection.

For the main attraction, we wanted lobster. We haven't made lobster in a very long time and we were both so excited for this dinner! This is the part that I especially sat on the couch for - I'm not into doing the deed when it comes to lobster, so Shaun dutifully took over. With a little bit of clarified butter on the side, the lobster were sweet and tender and oh-so-delicious.

It's hard to top such a fantastic, cozy dinner at home (my favorite kind), but when Monday rolled around, we realized that we did not want to cook at home. Shaun first greeted me with a SkinnyGirl Margarita as soon as I arrived home from work. I'm pretty sure he's a keeper, that one :) He made them fancy by shaking it over ice first, adding a lime slice and coating the top in salt. Happiness.

We enjoyed these out on our terrace while we exchanged gifts. I gave Shaun a framed vintage map of the world (circa 1922) since he is a history buff and we are both big travelers. I thought it would be a great addition to our gallery wall, or even the beginning of a new wall in our office. Since the 3rd anniversary is leather, Shaun thoughtfully gifted me with a leather journal, complete with handmade pages - the perfect gift for me since I always carry around a notebook for blog ideas, to-do lists and any other ideas that I want to record. Now I can do that in style :)

As for our dinner, we chose Light Horse Tavern in Jersey City, one of our all time favorite restaurants. You may also see our delicious Valentine's brunch at Light Horse Tavern post from a few months ago. Yum.

We started our meal with a glass of wine for me and a beer for Shaun. To kick off the goods, we ordered a raw bar platter, complete with oysters, 2 types of clams and mussels. I've never seen Shaun so happy - he adores seafood!

We also ordered a cheese plate, which I absolutely adore. Manchego, Blue and Talleggio graced the plate, topped with fig chutney (swoon), carmelized nuts and lavendar honey.

For my main course, I chose the barbecued skirt steak with grilled onions and jalapeno polenta. This meal was really so wonderful. The steak was sweet and savory while the polenta added a bit of spice. I want this everyday.

Shaun chose a roasted duck breast. Now, I'm typically not a big fan of duck since I find it a bit greasy. But Oh.My.Word. This duck was amazing! It had a crispy layer of fat over the breast which just melted in the mouth. It was truly fantastic.

If you can believe it, we chose to skip dessert. I was SO stuffed after this dinner! Not to worry. Since my birthday is quickly approaching, I've already informed Shaun that clearly cupcakes will be necessary.

So there you have it. Our multi-day anniversary celebration. So what do you think? Are you a seafood eater? Of the raw variety? What's your favorite special meal?

What to Eat: The Meatpacking District

I get a lot of requests for restaurant recommendations in New York City. Though I am very far from an expert, I have certainly sampled my fair share of restaurants (though nowhere near as many as I'd like!). I'd love to share some of my favorite places in New York with you. Though I know a lot of you are not necessarily from this area, think of it as a travelogue...and when you get to NYC someday, you can simply consult my neighborhood restaurant listing, mmmm kay?

Pop Burger. You may recognize it from Bethenny Ever After when she and Jason made an emergency stop for food. It's high class fast food and it rocks the house. When I went in the fall, I got 2 sliders and they were fresh and fantastic. Oh and don't let the whole 'fast food' thing fool you...the ambience is cool and modern, with no signs of Ronald McDonald.

Fig + Olive. This is one of my favorite restaurants. It's pricey, so Shaun and I made sure to go during restaurant week last year. With trendy decor and Mediterranean-style food, delicious is an understatement here. They are known for their crostini, so be 100% sure to sample some of it...it was my favorite part of the meal! Especially the dessert version...mascarpone cream, bing cherries and pistachios...I'm still dreaming about it.

 

Chelsea Market. I hope you saved room because you do NOT want to miss Chelsea Market. The market stretches between 9th and 10th avenues and is one of my favorite places in NYC. With bakeries, seafood shops, restaurants, espresso bars and gourmet Italian stores, you could spend the afternoon wandering and eating. And you should.

Ruthy's Bakery. This is one of my favorite NYC bakeries, also in Chelsea Market. The rugelach  is authentic, the macarons are perfectly light, the apple crumb cake is moist and fresh, and the cupcakes are perfectly sweet and not-too-dense. Not that I've sampled all that...I'm just guessing...

The Park. I went here with my mom, sister, aunt and cousins over Easter weekend. While the food was not particularly fantastic (though it was good!), the ambience is great. The whole inside is designed to look like a Park...and it's cool.

675 Bar. This quaint, underground bar almost feels like a cave. It's got multiple rooms with different activities...like billiards, board games, arcade games and even a library. It's fun. Try it.

Jacques Torres. Also in Chelsea Market and the perfect spot for chocolate fiends. Not for the weak of heart. Christine and I shared a small hot chocolate and it was the perfect amount for both of us. It's the richest hot cocoa I've ever had...almost like straight melted chocolate in a cup. And I like it.

Artichoke Pizza. Located on 10th avenue, I have not actually gotten to this Artichoke Pizza location just yet. I've only been to the teeny one in the East Village, but the pizza is fantastic, and this is definitely on the Pizza Tour list!

The last thing on my list to do is visit the High Line, a park along a raised railroad track that runs through and over the Meatpacking District and beyond. I haven't gotten there yet, but as the weather is getting nicer, I plan to make it happen!

So there you have it. My favorite places in the Meatpacking District. What do you think? Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots, in NYC or beyond?