Around Town: Empire Diner – New York City

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Sometimes there are days when all you want to eat is diner food. This craving hit late one night so I decided to make my way to the iconic Empire Diner in Chelsea for breakfast the next morning. Empire Diner was built in 1946 and was recently renovated to give the restaurant a more modern feel while maintaining its classic look. Empire Diner has been seen in many television shows and movies over the years, including Manhattan, Home Alone 2, Men in Black II, and Law and Order.

Also, today is Star Wars day (May the fourth be with you), and the Galactic Empire is referred to as ‘the Empire,’ so you see how it all comes full circle.

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I love the painted EAT sign above the diner and the retro look with the silver and old-fashioned interior. The space isn’t too big, so it feels cozy and laid back.

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Empire Pop Tarts were an obvious choice, because who can resist homemade pastry puffs with jelly on the inside and icing on top? The flaky edges were perfect for the first bite of the day. The Buttermilk Pancakes were fluffy while maintaining a crispier edge, and the Chilaquiles, though spicy, tasted fresh and was loaded with cilantro. Next time I’m going for lunch and trying the Classic Grilled Cheese with a Cookies ‘n’ Creme milkshake.

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Images by Lauren

That’s a Wrap!

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Happy May! I’m back from last week’s adventure where I experienced very warm and humid weather (photo above). However, I most definitely prefer rain to humidity and admittedly missed the April showers. I crossed a few movies off my list in April, and I’m excited to watch a few new ones this month. I will get myself to the theaters. It’s been way too long since I watched a movie in a big dark room with complete strangers. In disappointing T.V. news, Revenge has been canceled – if anything I feel old because I remember watching the show when it first started when I was in college. On a positive note, there are still a lot of great shows to watch. It’s all about turning lemons into lemonade. Now, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

INTERVIEW: Cinematographer Alexander Chinnici discusses what it’s like being a Director of Photography and shares the films that shaped him.

HEAL YOURSELF: Bone broth is great for doing just that – it has nutrients that rebuild and rejuvenate your system. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

PUNNY FOOD: This father and son created an awesome way to teach geography with food. So clever!

WRITE: These sushi memo blocks are an adorable addition to any desk.

EAT: 10 famous foods from Seinfeld and where to eat them in New York City.

BAKE: Homemade pretzels aren’t the easiest to make, but I’m willing to try (again!).

KEEP STOCK: 20 foods you should always have in your kitchen.

ICE CREAM: Thanks to this guide, I’ll be eating ice cream sandwiches all season (okay, all year) long.

Enjoy your weekend!

Image by Lauren

8 Books for Spring 2015

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My reading list for spring has grown significantly in the past couple of weeks. I thought I was set, but then a few more stood out to me when browsing the bookstore. These are the food and film books I can’t wait to read this season.

1. Lesser Beasts by Mark Essig – As valuable as they may be for food, pigs are also intelligent and self-sufficient. Essig’s book explores the history of a creature we typically think of as dirty and lazy. A fascinating read!

2. Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme – Young love and old movies? Sold! A young woman moves to NYC and discovers that her neighbor may have starred in a forgotten silent film. As she tracks down the film, her life changes. I’m looking forward to being charmed with this read.

3. How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng – If you’re not a math person, maybe this book will change your mind. There’s food involved, after all. Cheng offers a new way of looking at math – I’m very interested to know why “making a good custard proves that math is easy but life is hard.”

4. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman – Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer and business journalist Charles Fishman wrote this book about “curiosity conversations” that have inspired Grazer to create some of the beloved television shows and movies in history (24! Apollo 13! Arrested Development!). Grazer has had weekly “curiosity conversations” with accomplished strangers for decades, and in this book the power of inquisitiveness is explored. As a curious being, this sounds right up my alley.

5. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe: A Novel with Recipes by Jenny Colgan – A sweet novel about a woman who opens her own cafe when she’s laid off from her desk job. Challenges and adventures await, but when there are cupcakes involved, it might not be so bad after all. Colgan has several books like this, including The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, The Little Beach Street Bakery, and Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe.

6. Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg – When Molly Wizenberg’s husband Brandon decides to open a pizza restaurant, their young marriage changed. This book recounts their adventures.

7. Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl – A young woman takes a job at an iconic food magazine in New York. When the magazine is shut down, she discovers letters written to the legendary chef James Beard. I’ve heard great things about this book.

8. Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann – A true Hollywood tale of ambition, scandal, and murder. Recreated with the suspense of a novel, this story sounds like a thrilling bedtime read.

What books are you reading this spring?

Around Town: Clinton Street Baking Company

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On any given weekend, you could be in line for two hours waiting for a table at Clinton St. Baking Company. Go on a weekday, however, and you only have to wait 20 minutes. I kept hearing great things about the pancakes at Clinton St., so I decided to finally try it for myself. The verdict? They are pretty darn good. Fluffy, thick, melt-in-your mouth pancakes, that’s for sure. And the side of warm maple butter doesn’t hurt. Major perk: you can enjoy their pancakes after dark. Breakfast for dinner is a cure-all.

I ordered the Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes, along with the Country Breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, I enjoy having meat, egg, potatoes, and something that goes well with syrup. This combo was perfect. Add a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and you’ve got yourself one delightful morning.

Clinton St. Baking Company
4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton)
New York

P.S. If you’re in Seattle, the pancake (yes, singular – a literal pan cake) here is out of this world.

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Images by Lauren

That’s a Wrap!

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I usually have some sort of sweet every day, but my treat of the moment are these chocolate covered grahams from Russ & Daughters. The chocolate is decadent, the grahams are crunchy…it’s the perfect combination. Needless to say, I’ll be going back for a whole lot more than .27 lbs worth (about 4 grahams). This week involved a lot of catching up on work and sleep due to last week’s major deadlines, and this weekend I look forward to escaping NYC for a short while (follow me here for behind-the-scenes of all things food and film). Until then, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

* In honor of the Tribeca Film Festival kicking off on Wednesday (and film festival season starting!), here are 15 travel-worthy film festivals around the world.

Orange is the New Black has (already) been renewed for Season 4!

* Even astronauts need espresso.

* 10 wedding cake trends.

* The state of ramen.

* I love that there’s going to be a Wonder Woman movie. A new director was just announced for the film.

* Ice cream innovations for spring. Yum!

* HBO to Netflix: bring it on. Oh boy.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Photo by Lauren

Eat & Watch: ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad & Into the Woods

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I’m not one to immediately think of using giant Lima beans in recipes, but I was inspired when I watched Into the Woods and saw how powerful the magic white beans were. These beans made the Witch quickly age and a beanstalk grow high into the sky where giants live. Though the cast was stellar, I didn’t love the movie. I did, however, love this salad.

While these beans won’t grow you a beanstalk to climb, Lima beans have some impressive health benefits. They’re high in fiber, packed with protein, and rich in magnesium. Also, they’re a fantastic source of energy.

There are a variety of ways to use Lima beans, but I thought they’d go well in a salad with some dark greens, nuts, and cheese. Simple, quick, and tasty. This ‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad is a great appetizer when you’re watching Into the Woods or Jack and the Beanstalk

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‘Magic’ Lima Bean and Kale Salad

Ingredients

4-5 lacinato kale leaves
2 cups of spinach
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 ½ cups of cooked large white Lima beans
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of walnuts (lightly toasted and chopped)
1/3 cup of almonds (lightly toasted and chopped)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to Prepare

1. Wash the kale and spinach and let dry. Chop the walnuts and almonds.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the cooked large white Lima beans. Stir the beans – about 3 minutes on each side – until they’re golden and a little bit crunchy.

3. Add the kale, spinach, and salt to the saucepan. Stir until kale softens.

4. Add the garlic, walnuts, and almonds. Stir until everything is mixed together.

5. Add the lemon juice and give all of the ingredients one last good mixing.

6. Remove from heat and serve onto plates. Add Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

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Images: Food photos by Lauren; movie shots from ‘Into the Woods