Tag Archives: moving

Fried Chicken: A Valentine’s Gift to Myself

Valentine’s Day is kind of a crock, right?

Listen. That’s not some jaded/single/lonely perspective.

Though I am single. And truthfully, a little lonely. (Moving is hard.) But I’m not jaded.

I love love (particularly more than LP or Stowe will ever love love). But Valentine’s Day is a bit of a crock. Why celebrate your love on just one day? Is your love so wimpy that it can be contained to just one day?

And as someone on the internet said, in elementary school, the whole class was your Valentine. Why limit yourself to just one Valentine?

I’m a huge fan of the Galentine’s Day, made popular by my fictional best friend, Leslie Knope. A date with your best gal pals. Nothing bad about that!

Only the best day of the year!

Only the best day of the year!

But because moving is hard, I’m flying solo this Valentine’s Day.

I saw this Bon Appetit article yesterday on what their staff is cooking this Valentine’s Day. I’ll be honest, they all sound delicious. Fancy steak? Manhattans? Mac and Cheese? Macaroni and cheese is my spirit animal.

But this Valentine’s Day, I’m going to practice a little bit of self-love.

Ew. Not like that, sickos.

I’m going to make something that I love. Something special. A gift to myself.

My most favorite food in the whole world is fried chicken. So, fry chicken I will. I’ve only ever done it once and it was only ok. But if at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right?

I’ve got a few days to find the right recipe and the right accompaniments. Off the top of my head: mac and cheese, biscuits with honey butter, green beans. Accompanied by some bourbon. And some sort of dessert. But that’s just off the top of my head. Or whatever.

Valentine’s Day might be a crock but I’m down to celebrate love and fried chicken. I’ll happily share the love. But I’m not going to share the fried chicken.

As they always say, all is fair in love and chicken.

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Richmond Restaurant Wars: Graffiato

I’ve been on a real Top Chef binge lately.

All of the seasons are on Hulu and it’s the perfect background show. Drama! Suspense! Foie gras! I’d already seen most of seasons, but it’s been fun to go back and watch from the beginning. It’s shocking how dated the hair, clothes and food are back in the early seasons.

Since I’m a stranger in a strange land and I don’t have many friends yet, Padma and Tom have kinda sorta been my friends. (Oh my god, that sounds so sad.) (How do people make friends as adults?) (Seriously, though…how do you do it?)

My favorite season by far was season 8, Top Chef All-Stars. It was Top Chef turnt up. All your favorite competitors who didn’t win vying for the title! Bigger challenges! Tears! Family connections! Cookie Monster! Hoodie hoos! It was everything and everyone you wanted to watch.

Including the one and only Mike Isabella. I actually hadn’t seen his original season ’til recently, but Mike is one of the best people to watch. His food always looks stupendous–typically Mediterraean inspired, but he’s Italian American and his Italian dishes got him some high praise. Also, he’s got the best laugh–just seems like a really fun, happy dude. So you’ll have to imagine my excitement when I found out he has a restaurant here in Richmond. Mike opened the first Graffiato in DC in 2011 and the Richmond chapter just a month ago. And with my friends Emily and Paul coming up to town for a wedding last weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to try it.

I just watched an episode of Restaurant Wars and something that my best friend Tom said was sticking in my head. “People come to a restaurant for the food, but they return for the service.” It’s very true. And unfortunately, that quote speaks to my experience at Graffiato.

The dishes ranged from ok (American pie pizza) to extraordinary (kabocha squash casonsei). The concept is family/tapas style with Italian and mediterranean influences. Dishes are meant to be shared, and that part is pretty successful.

Casonsei WHAT?!

Casonsei WHAT?!

But the service. Oy, the service. Our waitress had a good attitude, but ordering was difficult.

Emily: I’d like the Hoptober.*

Waitress: Oh, I actually think we’re out of that.

Emily: Ok, I’ll have the 8 Point IPA.*

Waitress: Oh. We’re actually out of that too.

::Emily looks at menu to make another decision.::

Me: I’d like the ‘Put Me in the Mix’ cocktail.

Waitress: …I’m sorry…we’re actually out of that, too. Sorry, we’re actually switching over our menus right now.

Me: Ok, do you have a glass of sauvignon blanc?

Waitress: Yes, we do.

Me: Great, I’ll have that. Anything else you’re out of?

Waitress: No, I think that’s it.

*The names of the beer have been changed because I forgot what they were.

I understand that restaurants change their menus, but I’d find it a much more tolerable offense if we’d been warned in advance. That plus the fact that one of our drinks came out after we’d gotten the check meant I walked away disappointed with the experience.

I’m sad to say that in this episode of Restaurant Wars of Bethany’s Life (registered trademark of no one), Graffiato would not come out on top. The food was altogether good, but the service left a lot to be desired.

Padma?

::Dramatic Pause::

::Dramatic Pause::

::Looks up with really wide eyes::

Graffiato. Please pack your knives and go.

::Tear::

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And on the 15th day, I moved.

A brief respite from my humble bragging about Barcelona and #ham to tell you that in between my trip to Barcelona and my upcoming production, I moved. (Oh, you didn’t know that I went to Barcelona? WELL, I DID)

I didn’t move because I wanted to. Well, I did want to. But I also had to. My landlady decided to sell the condo I’d been renting. So, I had to find a new place. 

My parents came up last week and frankly, I could not have done it without them. Literally. If I’d done it alone, it would’ve gotten done. Like, all the stuff would be at my house. But I would’ve been living in a fort of boxes because I would’ve gotten overwhelmed and instead of unpacking the boxes, I would’ve come up with something new to do with them. Like make a fort. 

I’m living in a house now, which is exciting. And kind of scary. I think I might set up a tar and feather station, a la Home Alone. Just for some extra security. Bless this highly nutritious, microwavable meal and the people who sold it on sale. (Sorry, Sarah. Home Alone sin, quoting it out of season.)

Here are some pics. 

Naturally, the thing I’m most excited about is my new kitchen. And one thing in particular.  

IT. HAS. AN. ACTUAL. OVEN. For the last 5 years, everything I’ve baked was made in THIS monstrosity. 

Although, to be fair, it didn't usually have other racks in it.

Although, to be fair, it didn’t usually have other racks in it.

I know, it’s worse than Portia di Rossi’s new face. But, seriously folks…

This was really hard for someone who loves to bake. To make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, it would take me over 2 hours. I could fit 4 cookies on a sheet tray. I had to buy special sheet trays to fit the oven. It was just dumb. 

My dad, whose passion is model railroading (I know…we’re a really cool family), compared my love of baking to model railroading. And he said “you’re probably just as excited to bake something as I was to get out there and put cracks on the sidewalks on my model railroad!”

Again, VERY cool family. Welcome to the family, fake future husband!!

So, he asked what the first thing I was going to bake was. And I said: coconut tres leeches cake.

Much like the patatas bravas, I haven’t had a chance to make this yet. But it’s from Food 52, so I feel like it’s gonna be delicious. It’s going to be the first thing I bake. I mean, I may throw a piece of salmon in the oven. But this will be the first cake-ular thing that happens. Because man should not live on bread alone. And let them eat cake. And I’m out of phraseology, but now I’m hungry for cake.

Fuck.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake from Food 52

Serves one 9×13 cake

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • One 13 1/2 ounce can coconut milk
  • One ounces 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Heat the oven to 350. Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Melt the butter and honey together and set aside.
Whisk the flours, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.
Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a larger bowl until everything lightens in color and is nice and smooth. Now on lower speed or with a gentler arm, beat in the flour in 2 additions until the batter is just smooth. Fold in the butter and mix until it is just fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 25-30 minutes, rotating cake once halfway through, until it is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. This is going to look like a sort of shallow cake. Don’t worry.
While the cake bakes, mix the three milks (tres leches) together and also spread the coconut out on a baking sheet. When the cake comes out, pop the coconut into the oven to toast. Check and stir every 3-4 minutes. It should only take 8-9 minutes to get golden brown.
Use a toothpick to poke little holes all over the warm cake. Now pour the milk over it — slowly. It is going to look like a LOT of milk and you are going to want to panic. Don’t. My cake actually floated up like a raft briefly! But pour it all on and wait — 95% of that milk is going to adsorb into the cake and the rest is that lake you are looking for. Allow the cake to cool completely, and the toasted coconut as well.
Now whip the cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and lime zest together until stiff peaks form. Spread the cream over the cake, then sprinkle the coconut over top. You can dig in right now, our keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days, though I doubt it’ll last that long.
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