Now Playing- You & Me – Penny and the Quarters
I have never kept a new year’s resolution. Over the years, I’ve made plenty – stop biting my nails, exercise, cut out sweets & junk food, exercise, exercise, and yeah, exercise. Well, it’s never happened. I don’t think I’ve even lasted a week, which is very (!) pathetic – but, if you know me, I’m sure you know I can’t stop biting my nails and as much as I love playing tennis and spending a whole thirty minutes on the elliptical, I love to eat more.
But, thanks to my dad and his genes (“just be glad you didn’t inherit my nose,” he always tells me – and actually, thank god), I’ve been blessed with the ability to inhale large quantities of food and not put on much weight. However, that’s far from my point today. This year, I decided to make a new & reasonable new year’s resolution – to eat good food. Does that necessairly mean healthy food? Maybe on some days when I’m feeling like a closet fatty, but most days, probably not. I want to eat damn good food – and eat it often. Chicago is the mecca of good food & restaurants and I want to start taking advantage of that! I want to dine at Sprout, Dale from Top Chef’s restaurant, I want to receive 1,000 open table points for booking a table (probably 3 months in advance) at The Girl & and the Goat, previous Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s new restaurant and I’m dying to make it to Hot Doug’s, the gourmet, out of the box, hot dog shop.
Alongside my list of restaurants with “damn good food,” I also made a list of “damn good movies” over the past few months that looked particularly appealing. It began simply with 127 Hours. Yes, I’m talking about the movie where James Franco cuts his arm off. With my core group of friends, I began to obsess about this movie, talking about it non-stop and sharing the trailer over facebook. I almost contemplated seeing it alone – everyone refused to see it with me because of the “cutting-his-own-arm-off-and-they-show-it-all” fact, but eventually, I squirmed and squinted my way through the movie with my mom and brother. Well, then came Black Swan. I had been exceptionally obsessed with this one, so much so that I betrayed a friend when I originally told her I would see it with her first. Unfortunately, my eagerly excited self could not wait and I saw it opening day (sorry Allison, I love you like crazy!). As much as I enjoyed 90 minutes of James Franco and Natalie Portman’s lesbian love scene, none of those compared to Blue Valentine.
Is it a love story? Yes. Is it sad, very heavy, depressing at times, and so heartbreakingly realistic? – hell yes. Is it damn good? The movie is damn great. It is real and honest and that’s why I loved it so much. (Sidenote : that’s also why I loved 500 days of summer – so if you haven’t seen that either, you can come over and we will watch, because I of course own it on dvd) For months, I’ve been hearing the oscar buzz surrounding Ryan Gosling’s performance in Blue Valentine, and yet two days later, I’m still thinking about it. Michelle Williams was great as well, but Gosling knocked it out of the park. Since I’m such a big fan of sharing, I share with you a short clip from the movie where I (and I’m sure many girls) simply melt when Gosling smiles and snaps those beautiful fingers.
If you can’t already tell, seeing Blue Valentine was absolutely the highlight of my week. Second runner up, though? My cherry tomato pasta sauce. This recipe, my friends, is all allanabytes. Lending a hand from the classics, Ina and Giada, I came up with this recipe two summers ago and it has been a staple in my house ever since, especially in the summertime when cherry tomatoes are at their peak. However, since I have the patience of a doornail, I did have to tweak the recipe for the fall and winter seasons but it is still, absolutely delicious and incredibly simple.
Lets be real here – my middle name may as well be parmesan. Screw the fact that I am lactose intolerant, I love damn good parmesan cheese. I especially love at restaurants, when waiters grate parmesan over the table. After grating the usual, preferred amount of cheese on the plate, they always stop and look at me. “More?,” they ask, cautioned and on alert. My response is always yes. I will always have more parmesan cheese.
Recipe Ingredients : 1 can (or if their in season, 1 box of fresh) cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper, dried or fresh oregano, tomato paste, dry red white, heavy whipping cream, nutmeg, parmesan cheese & salt and pepper to taste
TO DO : Add the canned or fresh cherry tomatoes to a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Stir around with a wooden spoon, to distribute the juices and tomatoes evenly and let cook/simmer for about ten minutes. If the tomatoes seem dry (usually in the case with the fresh tomatoes), add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1/4 of a teaspoon (I like spicy – so I add more) of crushed red pepper to the sauce, alongside about 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano. Continue to let simmer and add a little less than a tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken up the sauce (with the canned tomatoes – I usually don’t need to add tomato paste because it thickens up quite nicely by itself). Then, add a cup of dry red wine, continually stir the sauce, until reduced about 5-7 minutes. Finally, add about 1/2 cup (or more, depending on what you’re feeling like) of heavy whipping cream to turn that beautiful sauce a wonderful shade of pink (creamy tomato sauce, is there anything better?) At this point, add a few drops of nutmeg to the sauce and stir well. And to make myself feel healthy, I used whole wheat spaghetti, which fares incredibly well with the sauce if I do say so myself. Add the cheese, however much you want, and salt and pepper to taste.
Do not forget to TASTE AS YOU GO. If my I.S. (senior thesis, for non-wooster-ites reading this blog) taught me anything, it is to always taste as you go.
So – go ahead, enjoy! And don’t forget to go see Blue Valentine.