Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: It's GREEK to Me!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

One of my favorite things about food is that with one bite, it can magically transport you to any time or place or memory in your life. Fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, vine-ripened tomatoes, and a drizzle of hand pressed olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar always brings me back to The Jazz Club (a hidden, little restaurant that I was fond of) in Venice, Italy.

Greek food always reminds me of when I lived in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Yes, kind of a weird jump....who thinks Greek when you're in Eastern Europe?  The Akropolis was the most amazing Greek restaurant and a nice change from all of the pizza and pasta offered everywhere. The atmosphere was fun, the service was good, and the food was always delicious.  I have some very fond memories of celebrations at the little white and blue corner eatery.

The Akropolis Restaurant in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

My time in Romania was years ago at this point, and I'm still on the search for another memorable Greek meal.  Reno has some decent options for "one-the-go" Greek. I love Nick's Greek Deli (keep an eye out for an upcoming review). They do a mean gyro and Greek salad.  But Nick's doesn't offer that sit-down meal atmosphere, with linen tablecloths, plates with patterns of gods and goddesses, souvlaki that comes to your table in a fiery blaze, and an owner who will serenade you with Greek love songs.  You can't find that anywhere in Reno...that I know of.

So when I was craving Greek food the other day, I was THRILLED to stumble across this recipe in one of my cookbooks:

Greek-Style Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

I found this recipe not only quick and easy (it was in my 20 minute cook-book after all), it was also way yummier then I had expected.  The lemon juice and oregano really brightened up the whole dish.

For the most part, I followed the recipe. I did add some extra veggies to the salad mixture -- had some extra carrots, peppers, and a few olives sitting around from a previous recipe.  I also opted to use a "spring mix" of greens instead of the called-for romaine lettuce.

Lettuce/salad mixture, tzatziki sauce, wild rice, and garlic-oregano chicken.

One of the biggest changes I would make to this recipe would be the tzatziki/yogurt sauce. 

I thought all of the flavors were spot on, but the combination of the non-fat plain yogurt and the wet cucumber made for a liquidy end result.  When I make this again I will "drain" the yogurt before adding the other ingredients.  This is done by putting the yogurt in some cheese cloth, which allows for some the extra liquid come out.  I will also remove some of the cucumber's extra moisture by blotting with paper towels. Taking those two extra steps, will result in a thicker and creamier sauce.

This meal easily serves four people.  Since I am just one, it made for one great dinner and three grab-and-go lunches.  Two of the days I opted to leave the rice out.  I felt the vegetable packed salad, chicken, and cucumber/yogurt "dressing" was plenty for my mid-day meal.

While this dish doesn't come close to that served at The Akropolis, it most definitely curbed my craving for Greek!

Rediscovering Reno: The Eatery Built on Granite

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Do you ever get stuck in an "eating" rut?  You feel uninspired.  You're sick of your usual places.

Last week one of my friends and I decided to catch-up and chit-chat over a nice meal.  After throwing around several ideas, and vetoing the "usual suspects" we both decided on Old Granite Street Eatery in downtown Reno.  We had enjoyed a memorable meal at this cute restaurant when it had first opened, and decided it was time to give it another go.

We were not disappointed this time either!

Old Granite Street Eatery: 243 S. Sierra Street, Reno

One of my favorite things about Old Granite Street is the location itself; a brick building on Sierra Street that was erected in 1940, formally housed a wedding chapel. The inside is now simple:  a large chalk-board advertising the daily specials, black and white checkered floors, high-backed wooden booths.  The staff are cute, personable, hipster-type, with a great knowledge about the food they make and serve.  The cocktails are handcrafted (and strong). And the menu, while not extensive;  is complex, well thought out, and has all of your basis (and cravings) covered.

On this night my friend and I started with cocktails.  She had a Dark n' Stormy (rum and ginger beer) while I sipped on a Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white & soda).  Both of these classic cocktails were delicious, but not at all what I expected.  The Sloe Gin Fizz was pink, frothy, tart...and DELICIOUS!  I would without a doubt order this again.  We split an order of creamy, smooth deviled eggs as we decided on our main course.

Classic Cocktails: a Sloe Gin Fizz and a Dark n' Stormy

Our patient waiter took our order after we spent much time deliberating.  Bless his heart for checking back so many times to see if we were ready, darn girl-talk was getting in the way!

We both started with a salad (she ordered the Lentil, I ordered the Summer).  Each were equally delicious and unique.  My favorite part of the Summer Salad was bed of couscous the salad was piled on top off.  We shared a bottle of wine as our main course came out. 

My friend ordered the Wood Grilled Burger with aged white cheddar and shoestring potatoes.  If you are craving a REAL hamburger, you definitely want to go to this.  It's big, juicy, and so simple that the quality of the ingredients really have a chance to shine. 

I opted for the Pan Seared Salmon with barely risotto, seasonal veggies, and preserved lemons.  I LOVED this dish!  The preserved lemons added a sweet, citrusy zing to the perfectly cooked salmon.  The barely risotto was not what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised with the dish. The barely added an extra "toothiness" that you don't find in a rice-based version.  The creamy risotto paired with the light salmon made for the perfect bite.

I had planned to take some home, but it was all too good.  We both cleared our plates. Filled to the brim with delicious food, and a bit sleepy from the libations, we ventured out into the beginnings of a beautiful Autumn Evening in Reno.

An after-thought....Old Granite Street Eatery may have one of the best hidden secret Happy Hours in town. I need to remember this when my co-workers and I are looking for a place to enjoy our end-of-the-week-cocktail!

Heart-Mind-Body-Soul: What's In a Number?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We all have a Number.

No, I'm not talking about your phone number.  Not your street number.  Not your weight.
It's that one number that most of us don't talk about.  The one we keep in the closet with our secrets. The number we take with us into each new physical relationship we embark on....

...the number of people we've have had sex with.

Some of my friends know their Number, some don't.  While I know exactly what my Number is, I don't disclose it to anyone (besides my doctor).  My best friends know round-about where it is.  Guys have asked before, but I'm not forthcoming with the requested info. It reminds me of a Sex and the City quote by Carrie:

If you're a thirty something woman living in Manhattan, and you refuse to settle and you're sexually active, it's inevitable that you'll rack up a certain number of partners, but how many men is too many men? Are we simply romantically challenged, or, are we sluts?

This brings me back to a previous blog I wrote.  A few of my guy friends boast that their number is in the triple digits.  First off...can we say EWWW?  But the saying goes that whatever Number a guy tells you, divide it in half. Whatever a woman says, double it. So, when is a woman's Number TOO high? 

A new movie coming out at the end of the month, staring the hilarious Anna Faris, titled "What's Your Number?" reintroduces the topic. 

After reading in a magazine that "In America 96% of women
who have been with 20 or more lovers can't find a husband,"
Ana's character Ally looks back at the past twenty men she's had relationships with in her life
and wonders if one of them might be her one true love.

Twenty is the "magic" number in this movie. Do you find Ally's Number high?  I thought it was a pretty accurate assumption for a sexually active, single woman, in her 30s.  But really....does it even matter? 

One of my favorite male bloggers, Tom Miller, seems to think that the actual number doesn't matter, it's your sexual history that DOES. It's what (and who) you did, that counts. A guy cares more about knowing if you've hooked up with one of his boys or that you have a clean medical history.

Tom also mentions that a man and woman's perspective of what is "number worthy" differs.  Your boyfriend's Number may be higher because he considers any "crossing the threshold" to be sex.  I know I only "chalk another one up" if we went all the way. you know what your Number is? Have you ever lied about it (by either adding to it, or taking a few away)? Is it important to disclose your actual Number to someone you're in a relationship with?  Weigh in.  COMMENT.  I want to hear from you! 

I'm ending this post with a montage of some of the men our Sex and the City girls have been with.  Seems to me their Number didn't phase them!  Have fun, and be safe Loves.

Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: Bangkok Meets Bear

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I LOVE THAI FOOD!  I mean, how could you not?  The vibrant spices, the complex flavors, the creamy sweetness of coconut milk.  Every time I eat a Thai Curry, I dream that I'm in Bangkok or along the water in Phuket (both locations I've yet to travel to, but are HIGH on my list).

What I don't love about Thai food is how calor-ific it is.  Lucky for me (and now you too) I found this awesome recipe in one of my Weight Watcher's cookbooks.  It's quick, and surprisingly easy.  You too can make amazing Thai Curry at home!

Chicken and Coconut Curry
Click on recipe to enlarge.

When I ate it for dinner, I served it with wild rice. For lunch, I just ate the curry as is.  The curry paste I used was a bit spicy (weird that something was too spicy...I like it HOT!) so I also ate this dish with a little non-fat plain yogurt.  SO YUMMY!

I would without a doubt make this recipe again. Because I bulked up the curry a bit by adding extra carrots and cauliflower, I had plenty of leftovers.  Enough leftovers actually for two days of lunch for me, and dinner for two for my mom and one of her friends while they went camping.  

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we all did!!!


My Little Piece of ZEN

Friday, September 16, 2011
I previously mentioned that over the summer I purged my plethora of crap and remodeled my loft.  Over the years, this little space in my house had become a catch-all for just about everything.  It was originally intended to be a place for me to do my homework and for out-of-town guests to stay.

Six years later, my vision finally came to fruition. 
It is now my perfect writing/studying/meditation/inspiration/ZEN space. 

One of the things I'm most proud of is that I didn't spend much money to do all of this.  In total, I spent only about $120.  Most of the items I already owned and just found a new home for in the loft.  Most of the artwork I had invested in framing when I first moved into my house. Other things I have picked up throughout my world travels (the hamsa for example) or have acquired as gifts through other's travels (the tapestry came from my mom's most recent trip to Cambodia). 

Newly purchased items include:
   * Cube Shelving Structure (Staples - under $50)
   * Wall Decals and Circle Mirrors (Kohl's - about $10-$15 each)
   * Type Writer Art (ROSS - $7)
   * Whiteboard Planner (TJ Maxx - $20)
   * Inspiration Board (Aaron Brothers - ONE part of a promotion)

I'm thrilled with how this space turned out. It feels almost zen-like now, and I am inspired every time I walk up the stairs to my writing area.  I look forward to posting many blogs from here. 
Hope you look forward to reading....

A Birthday Worth Celebrating

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Put one candle on a cupcake.... little blog is ONE YEAR OLD!

I have been working on Bear-ing It All for a whole year now now, and couldn't be happier with the growth and response it has received. Blogging has been a true learning experience. I feel that I've grown, and so has my writing. And that's thrilling to me. (CLICK HERE to read my first post)

What started as something only my family and friends read has grown to a world-wide audience. While my "hit numbers" are not worth bragging about (yet) I am thankful to each and every one of my readers. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!!!

I'm excited about what the next year has in store. Be on the look out for give-aways and a plethora of new content (my writing schedule is filling up quickly).

Lastly...if you like it...INTERACT.
Post a comment. Share with a friend. Like me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter. You get the idea. ;-)

Tons of love from Bear-ing It All, all around the world!

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