0

Smoke in Homestead (fancy taco joint. YUM.)

I have a special place in my heart for Reyna’s tacos, but with all the buzz about Smoke in Homestead, and with it just being a short roll down the hill from my house, we had to try it out. Smoke is the taco joint for people who are serious about slow cooked meat. I still like Reyna’s better, because I prefer sour cream, queso fresco, and lime on my tacos. Tacos at Smoke, however, are generously portioned and focus on the meat over the toppings.

20120531-210711.jpg

The tacos are priced between $4-6. Smoke is cash only, and we actually ha to get more money out of the ATM, because the $30 I brought for this take out dinner for 3 wasn’t enough. Granted Mr. Beez and I each ordered 3 tacos, and we got mac & cheese for the little one, so we got a LOT of food, but it was a little pricier than I had estimated for a taco place. The tacos are large, and 3 tacos each was MUCH more than appropriate for dinner. We should have just gotten 2 each, but we were feeling gluttonous.

20120531-210722.jpg

I ordered the Wagyu brisket, the pork, and the chorizo. Each of them have a kick of spice. They were a little spicier than I’m used to (I usually order a spice level of “2 out of 10″ when there is an option) but not so spicy as to be distracting. The tortillas were homemade and fluffy and delicious. Yummm homemade tortillas. There’s nothing like them. My favorite of the tacos was the pork. Each of the meats had vibrant flavor, but the pork was so succulent and flavorful. Although the Wagyu brisket was full of flavor, it was also a little dry. The chorizo tacos were also delicious. But those other two just didn’t compare to the slow cooked pork.

20120531-210739.jpg

Smoke is BYOB, and there are tables and a bar area for dining in, but there aren’t that many tables and they’re somewhat awkwardly positioned. With ample on street parking, and plenty of outdoor dining options a short distance away (Schenley Park! Frick Park!) take out is a great option.

20120531-210753.jpg

1

Grilled Veggies, Yummy Yummy

I LOVE the summer because it means it’s time for GRILLING! When Mr. Beez and I first bought our house, we had a charcoal grill. We had no money, and a charcoal grill was cheaper. We had never owned a gas grill, so we didn’t know what we were missing. Then Mr. Beez’ parents bought us a gas grill as a gift. Yes, there are some charcoal purists who prefer the taste of charcoal grilled food (when I’m at a charcoal grill, though, most of the food ends up tasting like lighter fluid), but it takes forever to heat up and cool down the grill. For us, a gas grill has meant fast, easy, and healthy summertime dinners.

20120529-203018.jpg

Although I eat meat now, I was a vegetarian for over 10 years (I started eating meat again when I was pregnant with Baby Beez, and had unending cravings for Uncle Sam’s subs). Winter time can be tough for vegetarians, because comfort food is so often full of meat. In the summer time, grilling means easy veggie friendly recipes. And if you want something more substantial than veggies, grilled tofu or seitan is delicious. (Check out The Veganomicon for a cheap, easy, and excellent seitan recipe.)

Especially when our farmshare deliveries are in full swing, grilled veggies are a meal staple. In the morning, I’ll slice up some veggies and throw together a marinade, let it all marinate in the fridge during the day, and when I get home, I just toss the veggies on the grill, and voila! Dinner!  This weekend, I even managed to make dessert on the grill! Just spritz your favorite fruit with a small amount of olive oil and toss it on the grill. We had grilled mango. YUM.

20120529-203006.jpg

I have a super secret marinade recipe. It’s so secret, even I don’t know it. Ok, the secret is that isn’t really a recipe, I just mix up everything in the fridge and cabinet that seems appropriate for a marinade. Usually the marinade has olive oil, one or more different kinds of vinegars, garlic and onion, whatever oil-based dressings I have in the fridge, sometimes other spices and herbs, and whatever else I see that looks good. It hasn’t turned out badly yet.

20120529-203027.jpg

YUM grilled mango!

0

Hot Times, Summer in the City

This Memorial Day Weekend has been a scorcher! Mr. Beez and I were fools when we were house shopping (ages ago), and bought a house without central air. We thought we’d get it installed right away. Now, on the 5th anniversary of our closing on this house, we still don’t have central air. We have window units in the bedroom and in the den, but that doesn’t help when you need to be elsewhere in the house. Baby Beez doesn’t have an AC unit in her room, so she’s been sleeping in a pack & play in our room. Someday, I swear, we’ll get air installed.

Mr. Beez has been at work all weekend long, so Baby Beez and I have been hanging out. It was HOT, and we decided we needed an ice cream break. We strolled on down to the South Side for some sweet treats at the Milk Shake Factory.

20120528-090608.jpg

Everyone else must have had the same idea, because the place was bumpin!

20120528-090550.jpg

I think they remodeled sometime in the last few years. I know I’ve been there before (probably about 7 years ago), and I don’t remember it looking nice like this. It’s got a clean, retro soda fountain feel. I was stuffed with my Toasted Almond Java Chip milkshake, but next time I need to leave some room for chocolates!

20120528-090601.jpg

Baby Beez enjoying her vanilla ice cream cone.

20120528-090534.jpg

Afterward Baby Beez and I visited the South Side Works for a splash in the fountain. She is not a shy kid at all, but when we’re in a new place she can sometimes get clingy. She approached the fountain a few times, but didn’t get in like the other kids. We’ll keep visiting over the summer, and I’m sure she’ll be splashing in no time.

20120528-090615.jpg
The Milk Shake Factory on Urbanspoon

3

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

We Need to Talk About Kevin is an exceptional film.  We Need to Talk About Kevin follows Eva Khatchadourian, mother to sociopath, Kevin.  Kevin spent his childhood slowly destroying his mother’s life, and tops it off with a school massacre.  There are so many competing emotions and drives, so artfully captured.  The conflicts are enthralling– the tension between a mother who hates her son but wants to love him, a wife who loves her husband but can’t communicate with him, and a husband who is convinced that his son is fine and that his wife has some kind of vendetta against him.

Tilda Swinton is, as always, amazing.  Her demeanor is usually cold, but she shows a much greater range of emotion in this film.  John C. Reilly tones down the goofball antics, and comes across as a dad who really cares, but is oblivious.

Eva’s not a “good person” or a “bad person.”  She’s just a person struggling to get through her daily life.  At times you want to scream at her for not being more aggressive on her own behalf, other times you just want to hug her.  You know this film is tragedy from the very beginning, but there was one twist that makes everything so much more tragic that I just didn’t expect.

This isn’t a “Good Son” style horror flick.  But it is frightening how in some of young Kevin’s aggression, I can see flickers of people I know.  With the exception of his television monologue, Kevin doesn’t feel like a caricature, he feels real, which makes it all the more chilling.

0

Coffee and Sandwiches

Last Saturday I was in the mood for a REALLY good cup of coffee. Not the run of the mill Brueggers or Dunkin Donuts coffee, but something delicious and made with care. I took a little drive into the Squill, and stopped at Commonplace Coffeehouse. I can’t say it enough– I love Commonplace. They brew coffee by the individual cup, and ground their beans fresh for each cup. And these people know their beans. Their coffee is a little pricy, but it is SO worth it. What I love most about Commonplace is that even though they are coffee geniuses, they don’t expect you to be. They’re totally unpretentious and welcoming. Having being scolded about my insistence on adding cream to my coffee at another local serious-business coffee shop, I asked the Commonplace barista if he would scold me for asking for cream. The barista said, jokingly “Lady, you just paid $3.65 for a cup of coffee. You put anything in there you want!” I LOVE this place. I think I need to go back there again today!

20120526-130659.jpg

The Commonplace Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

Last Monday, my friend Jill and I took a visit to the newly opened Bluebird Kitchen.

20120526-130645.jpg

I’ve been staring longingly into the construction-filled storefront for months now, and finally on May 14 they opened their doors. Bluebird is a bakery/sandwich shop, and is great for a high quality quick bite Downtown. Their prices are similar to Au Bon Pain, but the quality is much much higher. I had the Croque Monsieur sandwich, which was like a fancy grilled cheese with ham. I also had the quinoa salad, which would have tasted better if it were a little colder, but was still pretty darn good. The food there is all high quality, and the service was pretty quick. I’m surprised that this is the first independently owned bakery type lunch place that has sprung up downtown. I’d imagine that this kind of business will be a big hit with the lunch crowd. They also have a nice selection of cookies, pastries, and other baked goods, that I will have to return to sample!
Bluebird Kitchen on Urbanspoon