About Me

My Photo
Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Still eating in England

Like I told you a few days ago, the boyfriend and I ate some fabulous meals in England. However, our last two days in the country were head and shoulders above the rest.

We spent Monday in London and had a late dinner at the Prince Bonaparte in Notting Hill. Before our trip I'd pored over some of my favorite blogs (especially this one) and struck gold when I found this restaurant. The bistro reminded me so viscerally of my time spent in France, which I look back on with nothing but the fondest of memories, and I had an almost emotional reaction when I discovered that our waitress was French.

I continued my trip down memory lane with a classic steak frites. I had a flat iron steak, rare, with anchovy butter, fries, and a small watercress, arugula, and tomato salad dressed with vinaigrette. As much as I love to stuff my face, it's uncommon that I clean my plate at a restaurant. But this flavor-packed, beautifully prepared, salty and savory and juicy meal didn't stand a chance.

I couldn't recommend the Prince Bonaparte more highly. My sticky toffee pudding took second place to the one I'd had the week prior, but it still gave a sweet ending to a whirlwind day spent in London with two of my favorite men.

Incidentally, if any of you Americans know how to make or where to find sticky toffee pudding, I'm willing to barter my services. (My services, of course, are cooking and baking, or legal advice if you want it but ugh gross who wants that.)

PS that is a JOKE, bar association! Just a joke.

The next morning we returned to Huddersfield to spend our last 24 hours with the newlyweds. We had a coffee, lounged a bit, and headed to the farm close to their home where they buy their meat. My friends are such thoughtful, conscious eaters, and it inspired me to be better about where I buy my meat. Last week I bought bacon from Ham Sweet Farm and I think their meat CSA is genius.

The boyfriend positively needed another full English before we left the country, and he wasn't disappointed.

He even ate black pudding, which he liked more than he wants to admit. I myself could have done with another scone or ten, but I didn't leave hungry.

We spent the rest of the day debriefing on the wedding, packing my food souvenirs (see below), and us girls took a little snooze as the boys set out for a bike ride on the route of the upcoming Tour de France.
As a country, we should eat more hot cross buns.
For dinner that night, my brilliant and beautiful girlfriend made roasted pork belly with cracklings, mashed cauliflower, broccoli, baby fennel, and a carrot and turnip dish that had a British name, which slips my mind. The boyfriend and I agreed during our discussion of everything we ate in England that the pork belly was one of the best things we ate.

When Luke took his first bite of Miriam's pork belly, he quietly said "Miriam, you've done it."

We couldn't have had a better trip. We enjoyed the hell out of ourselves and everyone we met, from our incredible generous host and hostess in Sheffield to the sweetly nervous mother and father of the bride to the gregarious wedding guests who came from all over Europe and Australia.

We feel a little more cosmopolitan ourselves, which we did our best to extinguish when we gorged on Fuddrucker's at the Dulles airport.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eating England


Tea at Harrod's. Be still my fat heart.
A few short (and frantically busy) weeks ago, the boyfriend and I packed our bags and headed to Manchester, England, to attend the wedding of a girlfriend of mine.

The new passports are much fancier than my old one.
Miriam and I met in France in 2005, when we both lived in a small French town where there wasn't much to do other than eat, cook, and grocery shop. I was a complete food novice, but thankfully Miriam knew what she was doing. She taught me how to make prawn and pea risotto, and upwards of three times a week we would spend the evening in her flat, eating fresh fish, sauteed zucchini, fresh slices of baguette with French butter, and, more frequently than not, we would nip down to the bakery and pick up a little cake.

As I always say, she taught me everything I know. It was only fitting that on our first night in England, as her then fiancee (now husband) whipped up a chicken curry, Miriam took the boyfriend and me to her neighborhood naan bakery.
This is my kind of travel. I go to experience how people live in other places and I am tickled that Miriam and Luke drive a few blocks, spend a few pounds, and have fresh, garlic naan whenever they want. (I buy naan at the grocery store. It's awful.)

After the curry, we sunk our teeth into one of the most heavenly desserts I've ever had. Sticky toffee pudding is quintessentially British, and the closest comparison I can draw is that it is similar to gingerbread, but topped with a sticky caramel sauce that you will want to pour into a tub and bathe in.
Sticky toffee pudding with creme fraiche.
I could rhapsodize about our week spent in England, but here are some highlights:
Cadbury, one of my favorite things in England.

Afternoon snack- mine is a flat white and half the granola bar.

Flat white in Sheffield.
 The rehearsal dinner was at The York in Sheffield, where the bride and groom went to university.
I started with ox fritters.

And then I ate a whole roasted mackerel.

He had fish n chips with mushy peas.

The morning of the wedding, we had our first full English.

Yes, that's a fascinator on my head. Yes, that's the most gorgeous bride since Kate Middleton.

Handmade French raspberry jam as wedding favors.

Cock-a-leekie tart for our starter.

Roasted lamb. I'd expect nothing less at the wedding reception of my favorite gourmands.

In between the band's sets, we had coffee and truffles.
 The day after the wedding we traveled to Cambridge to see another great friend, who is an American naval officer. We ate our weight in tapas.
 On Monday we jumped on a train and went to London for a whirlwind day. I walked into Harrod's and was in heaven.
 We had afternoon tea at the Georgian Tea Room, which I had heavily researched and which was my favorite money spent in all of England. I had Earl Grey, he had green tea.
The scones.

Those scones are slathered in clotted cream and jam.

Save your money. Get on an airplane.

There is also a Laduree in Harrod's.
I have more to tell you about England, things about two of the best dinners I've had this year. One of them was at a restaurant that I will tell you the name of so you can visit too. The other one was at my newlywed friend's house, so you can't go there. I have to keep her to myself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mike's Village Restaurant for City Pulse

Read it here.

If you're not convinced to eat the doughnuts, read my cohort's article here.

Save your allowance this week and head to Dimondale.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Common Grill, Chelsea

For a few years, I'd been hearing about this restaurant in Chelsea- a little town near Ann Arbor that doesn't house much other than the Purple Rose Theatre and a bunch of University of Michigan fans. Rumor has it that the hot spot in town is the Common Grill, and I'd never heard a bad word about the place. A few weeks ago I spent the day working in Ann Arbor and the boyfriend and I proposed meeting for dinner to his mother, who had celebrated her birthday that week. We all met at the Common Grill on Ash Wednesday and I broke my day-long fast with a vengeance.

Our server brought out a bread basket, which I normally try to ignore because I'd rather spend my calories on dessert. This was no ordinary bread. I grilled the waiter about it after scarfing down several warm slices, slathered in butter. It is a doctored-up pizza dough, he said. The bread had hints of tarragon, which is one of my favorite herbs (and is prominently featured in my favorite slow-roasted filet of beef.)

I started with a house salad, studded with pine nuts and full of crisp hearts of romaine. The raspberry-maple vinaigrette was flavorful and light and gave me an excuse to grab another slice of bread and drag it across my salad plate, mopping up the dressing.

On the advice of the waiter, I ordered the Parmesan Crusted Lake Superior Whitefish.
The pieces of fish were big- I had enough to share- and well prepared. The breading was light (I hate when all you taste is fry), the orzo pilaf was al dente, the spinach gave me the squeak between my teeth that I love. The CHUNK of lobster took me by surprise and melted in my mouth. I gave the boyfriend some taste of fish but the lobster, she was all mine.

We ordered dessert, as we are wont to do. I had to have the Warm Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding.
It was what a chocolatey bread pudding should be- soft, syrupy bread flavored with caramel and cream, but while these photos are impressive, the taste was nothing remarkable.
The birthday girl had the White Chocolate Banana Cream Tart.
Again, a gorgeous dessert, but I'd have been more satisfied with another slice of bread or two.
The restaurant has a bistro feel, cosmopolitan decor and a languid pace to service. I don't spend much time in the Chelsea neck of the woods, but the next time I have occasion to be there I'll head back to the Common Grill for more carb loading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fork in the Road for City Pulse

Read it here.

And read about a previous visit here
And try the biscuits and gravy, because you're going to be hard-pressed to find a better B&G in fair Lansing.

What do you think about FITR? What's your favorite Lansing diner?

Sunday, March 9, 2014


A few weeks ago, I decided that it was high time I learn how to make lasagna. Although it's been one of my food goals since the beginning of the year, I kept putting it off- I didn't have the time, I'd eaten too heavy all week and couldn't justify another caloric meal, there weren't going to be enough people at dinner to put a dent in a full lasagna. But when Saturday rolled around, I told the boyfriend to invite his friends over for dinner and I got into the kitchen.

Per a recommendation from a friend in Georgia, I made Paula Deen's Lots O Meat Lasagna. There was indeed lots o meat- two kinds of it. Ground beef and ground Italian sausage. This went over like gangbusters.

Putting the dish together took a few hours, but I wasn't chained to the kitchen. The most confusing part (maybe because I'm not a very experienced lasagna eater) was how to order the layers. I started with a layer of meat sauce, then cheese, then noodles, but eventually I started layering them however I thought it looked best. None of my eaters seemed to mind.
I served it alongside a simple spinach salad with vinaigrette and store-bought frozen breadsticks.
For dessert, we had these peanut butter cookies and vanilla gelato with a little drizzle of butterscotch sauce.
After my brother positively hoovered the leftovers, he told me that he wasn't that impressed because I didn't make my own pasta. Maybe next time. . .