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Showing posts from 2016

Book Review: Cooking for Jeffrey, A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

This month, the cookbook discussion and dinner party group that I lead met to enjoy and discuss selections we cooked from Ina Garten's 2016 cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (Clarkson Potter publishers).

(Menu)

Butternut Squash Hummus
Herbed Fromage Blanc

Lentil and Kielbasa Salad
Asparagus and Fennel Soup

Brisket with Leeks and Onions
Roasted Italian Meatballs
Roasted Ratatouille
Creamy Parmesan Polenta
Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Bourbon Honey Cake

I've flipped through many a Barefoot Contessa cookbook in my bookstore adventuring, but I'd never found a volume to be so compelling as to demand a purchase. I decided to go out on a limb and picked up Ina's newest release to give it a fair review, thinking with this many successful cookbooks under her belt there must be something to her recipes right? No publisher is going to keep giving you book contract after contract if your recipes fall flat.

I'm very glad I took the gamble; Cooking f…

Board Game Review: Brew Crafters

I'm already familiar with Dice Hate Me Games as I own a few games in their catalog. I hadn't yet played Brew Crafters and when it was suggested for me at Gen Con this year I wasn't sure after reading the box summary it would be a game for me because I don't know anything about beer. I don't drink it, I don't buy it, and nothing about processing beer sounded fun to me. But I have a reputation as an objective and thorough reviewer so I wasn't going to let a little thing like total lack of interest stand in my way.

I'm so glad I made that decision because you guys, YOU GUYS, this game is pretty nifty. It's not really about beer per se, it's about business and entrepreneurship. And I love doing business. I mean, sure, if you know a lot about beer, there's a rich layer of context here that you'll appreciate the way adults sitting beside their kids watching the Simpsons get all the jokes the kids can't possibly understand.  And I'm hap…

Board Game Review: Islebound

Ryan Laukat has been designing board games since he was a teenager. He's the principal artist at Red Raven Games and his artwork is phenomenal. I had a chance to chat with Ryan at Gen Con 2016 and pick up a copy of his latest game - Islebound.

Even the box is gorgeous!

In Islebound, up to four players compete for renown (i.e. victory points) obtained through taking over ports through diplomacy or warfare, constructing or buying buildings, amassing cash, and completing in-game actions such as visiting ports or completing events. Our storyline is that each player is a seafaring captain, managing a crew aboard their ship and interacting with various port communities. It's a lovely theme.

The mechanics of the game are fairly straightforward and make sense within the constraints of Islebound's plotlines. They're well detailed in the accompanying rulebook and player summary cards are provided for easy reference during game play. I've played the game on two different eve…

Board Game Review: Cosmic Pioneers

After chatting with the Vesuvius Media team at Gen Con 2016, Christopher and I selected Cosmic Pioneers as our first foray into this publisher’s game catalog. The artwork on the box is cute and cartoonish and it made me feel good about opening up the game to get a closer look at its components. 

The game pieces are a mix of cardboard cutouts (player boards, round track, planets), cards (for scenarios and alien events), and sturdy wooden objects (cubes – for place markers and to represent colonists; and figures – to represent aliens). These components are visually appealing and they tie into the game’s theme very well.





The plotlines and game objectives for Cosmic Pioneers are simple and entertaining: all players are in a race to colonize the selected planets of the Tau Ceti system, accumulating victory points (by settling and controlling planets as well as hoarding cash reserves) along the way. Hostile alien species as well as our fellow players seek to thwart our goal. At the end of 12 …

Board Game Review: Legends of Andor

The man was very excited to bring home Legends of Andor for us to play. So excited in fact that he went ahead and purchased the Star Shield expansion before we’d even had a chance to play the base game. The plotlines for Andor go something like this: the security of your kingdom relies on you cooperatively completing quests as you move throughout the land (i.e. around the board) and encounter creatures hell bent on invading the castle. You’ll never be able to stop all of the creatures from invading the castle but you must keep your eye on how many you allow through, because any more than the maximum permitted and you lose the game immediately. Fending off the creatures involves rolling dice to score higher than they do to defeat them (you also roll dice on behalf of the creatures). I’m all about kings and queens and defending noble castles so as we unpacked the game I held high hopes for the potential levels of joy Andor would bring me.
The artwork for this game is well drawn and quit…

Apartment Tour

It's been a few months since I moved into my new apartment in Alexandria. I put together a little tour of the place for my friends and family who are far flung across the globe. 
https://www.facebook.com/jenniparks/videos/10154216725089740/

Cookbook Review: Modern Flavors of Arabia

I’ve started a cookbook discussion and dinner party groupthat meets regularly (1x a month or so) at my apartment in Alexandria to discuss cookbooks and enjoy a shared meal cooked by the members from recipes published in the monthly selected cookbook. 

Each year we work our way through an eclectic mix of cookbooks, including time honored classics, rare finds from every corner of the globe, and current up and coming advanced evaluation copies.

For our July cookbook discussion and dinner party, we reviewed Suzanne Husseini's 2012 cookbookModern Flavors of Arabia(Random House).
قائمة طعام (Menu)
Halloumi & Feta Cheese Bread Rolls Labneh Three Ways Shamandar (Beet Dip) Hummus Beet & Purslane Salad with Citrus Dressing Kofta with Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce Roasted Cauliflower with Citrus Tahini Sauce Lemony Braised Stuffed Vine Leaves Shish Barak (Lamb Ravioli in Herbed Yogurt Sauce) A Thousand and One Nights Pistachio Ice Cream Arabic Shortbread (Ghraybe) Rice Pudding with Date Compote Mint…

Trip Report: Turkey 2012

To round out my 2012 travels and push my Delta miles beyond the Diamond threshold, I dashed off on a quick weekend mistake fare trip to Madrid (where I stayed in the hotel nearly the entire time ordering room service while I was bogged down with work and studying), enjoyed another weekend spa getaway to Las Vegas (lounged by the pool most of the time and sampled some of the high end restaurants on the strip), and then ventured into Turkey for a long weekend. 

This was my second trip to Turkey and so on the first day, I set about revisiting all the spots in Istanbul I'd fallen in love with on the last trip.  That meant, of course, a visit to Cemberlitas Hamami on the European side of Istanbul (not far from the Blue Mosque) for a relaxing scrub and massage. This little slice of heaven is, hands down, my favorite place in Istanbul to recharge after a long flight from the Americas. I also spent some quality time in the spice market, picking up more Turkish Delight than is probably nece…