Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food for Thought

I'm getting worse and worse at this blog thing. I don't know if it's my new job that's keeping me so busy, or the fact that when I do get a chance to play on my Mac, I'm on Pinterest all night (which I'm obsessed with btw). So where have I been the past the month? Branding. My company just went through a large rebrand project and what was formerly called Mondial Assistance, is now Allianz Global Assistance. I worked on the project for 18 months, overseeing the HR division's rebranding efforts. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. We launched on February 1.

After the brand project, I treated myself to a trip to NYC. John was in Denver for work so he flew into the big city from there. My best friend Brian and I took the train Friday morning and got into town that afternoon. We attended my high school's (Collegiate) alumni reunion at the 21 Club that night and then went to the Hurricane Club for dinner and drinks. Saturday included all day shopping and walking around, but also a trip to the 9/11 Memorial downtown, which was bittersweet. 9/11 was a very influential event for me - I was a senior in high school and while I was already into international history and politics, I ended up majoring in foreign affairs at UVA too.

After the memorial, we went to a place called 10 Degrees for cheese tray and drinks. The cheese was delicious and the sparkling wine I ordered paired perfectly. Then that evening we went to another amazing dinner at Alta. This place had the most amazing Spanish tapas food I've ever had. Fried goat cheese, pork belly, black squid ink paella, and so much more. I got to see my college roommate and close friend Jen, who took us out on the town. It was really a great trip - Can't wait to visit again.

So to continue with the food theme for this post, I'll move on to a few new recipes and restaurants. My next post will be about this spring's race season, but for now, the winter season brings about food for thought:

I found an easy recipe for chicken tacos, and of course changed it up to chicken fajitas instead. The recipe calls for 1 package of chicken breasts (1lb), 1 16-oz jar of salsa and a packet of taco seasoning. My recipe was similar except I used a packet of fajita seasoning instead, and I added chopped onion and red/green peppers plus a can of black beans. Throw it all in a crockpot for 6-8 hours on low or medium, and viola - Chicken Fajitas! It's SO easy, the chicken just shreds apart perfectly after cooking all day, and you just dump the mixture in tortilla shells for an easy meal.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I recently made a steak salad recipe that I have been wanting to try after my trip to Florida last November. At the club restaurant in Gulf Harbour, they have this steak salad with walnuts, gorgonzola, mushrooms, etc that is absolutely to-die for. I order it every time I go. I've been looking for something similar here in RVA, and I've had luck at both Brio and Delux (both have great steak salads), but also decided to re-create it from scratch the other night. I pan-seared a ny strip steak with salt/pepper, and then re-created the salad with spring mix lettuce, chopped asparagus, portobello mushrooms cooked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and of course fresh crumbled gorgonzola. I forgot glazed walnuts, which I will definitely add next time for crunch and sweetness. It was so easy to make and pretty healthy considering I used no dressing other than the olive oil/balsamic vinegar I cooked the mushrooms in. Toss the steak on top and dinner is ready!

And moving on to my last food expedition... I recently went to Peter Chang's new restaurant here in the west end of Richmond. This guy is talked about as a food legend and almost god-like. I felt inclined to go after all the talk. It was excellent Sichuan food too! We had to try the fried pork belly basket to start, which as you can see, presentation was excellent. Everything was tasty and service was super friendly. I'll definitely be back to try the hot pots for dinner.

Now that I've ranted about my last 4 weeks, maybe I'll try to write more often and less content... too much goes on when you are having fun!