Pizza in my Heart

May 3, 2012 at 7:35 am | Posted in Playing with Food | Leave a comment
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pizzaThis past week, my favorite local pizzeria closed down.  The owner decided after 20 years to move the business to a larger space about 2 miles away.  For him, he was moving on to bigger and better things. To me, it was the end of an era.  I was happy to get my last slice on the last day.

As a New Yorker, born and raised, I have always had a strong connection to my neighborhood pizzerias.  I had birthday parties at my local pizzeria growing up, and when I was old enough to drive, I spent my school lunch breaks at the pizzeria.  I became very close to the owners of several pizzerias and made a lot of friends just by hanging out there.  I even called out to the pizzeria in my high school yearbook senior year.  The pizzeria was the center of much of my social activity, and when I went off to college, it was hard to adjust to not having that (and for those Western Mass college folk, Antonio’s just doesn’t do the trick.)

But the pizza runs deep in my blood, so when I came back to New York and moved into my apartment, it didn’t take long for me to connect with yet another local pizzeria and its owner.  I remember walking in there for the first time.  I had been recovering from an injury, unable to drive or walk well and had no food in the house. I came in with the dog to this small take out place and was welcomed immediately by the owner.  From that day on, I would never go to another pizzeria in the neighborhood.  It wouldn’t seem right.  He would always allow me in with the dog, and to top it off, he’d always give him a treat.  It got to a point where the dog would drag me to the pizzeria just so he could get his daily treat.  I still have yet to figure out how I’m going to explain to the dog that the freebies are over.

But good things have a way of coming to an end and forcing you to face what’s next.  The same time the pizzeria closed, our neighbors moved out.  We have known them for many years, and it made me realize how long I have been a part of this community.  I never thought I’d be here this long, and I have promised myself that after the wedding, we would be on the apartment hunt.  I hope to move on to bigger and better things.

But just like driving through my hometown, I will always remember this era in my life, this community, and the people who helped make me feel a part of it.

Life Without Beer

February 28, 2012 at 7:37 am | Posted in Fashion, Fitness and Beauty, Life and Living, Playing with Food | 2 Comments
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one of my last beers for the next few months

Following my 29th birthday, I decided to stop drinking beer, at least until after my wedding. I am just finding that it is too much effort to drink beer if I am trying to get intoxicated and the empty calorie intake was overwhelming.  I know that in order to fit into my wedding dress, I need to start getting my diet under control, and that might possibly mean removing items from it that I normally ingest.  I’m not getting too crazy about my diet just yet, but I wanted to take at least one step towards getting ready to fit into my dress, and quitting beer was a fairly easy thing to cut out…kind of.

You see, me and beer have a long-standing relationship.  Ever since the first time I got drunk off of scotch whiskey as a teen and got so unbelievably sick that liquor didn’t seem like the best first choice for drinking.  In high school, the drink of choice was typically a 40-ounce of Budweiser or some Old English (there was that Mike’s Hard Lemonade phase but we won’t get into that dark period).  When I started to get into the bar/clubbing scene, I added Long Island Iced Teas to my repertoire of go-to drinks.

I started to become more interested in higher quality beer when I got to college.  When I wasn’t drinking from a keg, I was at a local brewery sampling fresh brewed beers or at a bar with 30+ beers on tap ready for taste testing.  I really liked the raspberry wheat beer that I would regularly sample.  I would eventually come up with the beers that I really liked, and for very different reasons.  Today, I enjoy a good Stella, Yueng-ling or Blue Moon if I’m looking to get a little tipsy on good beer.  Every so often I’ll enjoy a good Boddington’s if it’s on tap.  But often, I’ll stick to some basics: Corona and Pabst are always good friends.

But all of that will have to wait.  Now I am consciously switching my drink of choice to wine (red or white), and will probably start carefully adding in some liquor drinks for the real rough nights.  I will miss the casual brew after a hard day’s work, but I have to make the sacrifice, and hopefully I’ll see some results in the form of getting some weight off.

A Butcher, a Baker???

December 29, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Career Moves, Playing with Food | 2 Comments
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I hear it all the time.  If you like to prepare food, you are either a cook or a baker.  For some reason, there is a separation between the meal and the dessert that is prevalent in the cooking world.  Pastry chefs are different than “regular” chefs.  People who like to cook typically lean towards one side or the other.

I guess I’m an outcast in this respect.  I love to cook, but I do not lean towards dinner or dessert.  Instead, I lean towards recipes and techniques that I am familiar with, or that don’t seem too hard to learn, but I’m always experimenting…and watching the Food Network.

I’ve been a food fanatic since I was young, when several of my friends can recall spending days blending weird ingredients together with me.  I even remember making meatballs with my Girl Scout Troop once — I think it was the first time I had ever cut onions, and I have a vivid memory of it.

And I’m still learning a lot.  There are so many techniques I want to learn, and so many ingredients I have never worked with.  And there is only so much you can learn from the Food Network and cook books.

Part of what will help me is buying the right tools to make certain dishes.  This is where my wedding registry will play a huge role in making me a good homemaker.  But it’s more than that that I crave.  I want to be really good.  I am driven to get better for myself, not because I plan on ever becoming a professional chef, but because I am interested in preparing good food.

So looking into the New Year, I am thinking of taking my experiments a few
steps further and taking some classes. I’ve started to do some research and there are a lot of options for non-credit, affordable courses to learn techniques.  Once I find a good one that is cost-effective and fits into my schedule, I think I’ll give it a shot.

So plan on hearing from Chef Pushing Thirtyy in the New Year. More food adventures to come. Until then…peace out 2011!

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