Around Town: Mary’s Milk Bar – Edinburgh, Scotland

Marys 10

There’s no better way to conclude a castle exploration than with creamy, delicious gelato. After roaming around Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, I descended the hundreds of stairs to the historic market place (Grassmarket) where Mary’s Milk Bar welcomes visitors with open doors.

Marsy 9

Marys 6

Mary’s Milk Bar is incredibly cozy and old-fashioned. Milk Bars, which promoted wholesome milky products, were popular in Britain between the 20s and 60s. Mary, who trained at Carpigiani Gelato University, makes sure all of her products are fresh. The chocolate she sells have a shelf life of no more than six months, and each week she offers new gelato flavors.

Marys 1

Marys 3

I loved the Dark Chocolate gelato. It’s smooth and rich and tastes even better in a crunchy waffle cone. The best part about indulging in gelato at Mary’s Milk Bar? The insane view of Edinburgh Castle (which you can see in the background of the first photo).

Marys 2

Marys 4

Marys 5

There are only a few tables at Mary’s Milk Bar, so if there isn’t room to sit, take your gelato to go and explore Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, and the other many winding streets in Edinburgh. It’s a gorgeous and historic city.

Marys 7

Marys 8

Mary’s Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS, United Kingdom

Images by Lauren Jessen

Everything Bagels

Bagel C

When I say this Everything Bagel is everything, I mean it. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good bagel, and I figured since I wasn’t finding anything tasty in cafes or restaurants that I’d try making my own homemade bagels. Though intimidating at first, breaking down how to make bagels step-by-step is helpful and reassuring.

Interestingly, you boil bagels before you bake them. I wanted my bagels to be soft and chewy on the inside so I only boiled them for 45 seconds on each side. Use a timer when doing this so you don’t over-boil.  I found making homemade bagels to be fairly manageable, which works out nicely since I’m tempted to make these every weekend.

Bagel J

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 package of active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Sesame seeds (white and/or black)
Poppy seeds
Caraway seeds
Dried garlic (minced or flaked)
Dried onion (minced or flaked)
Coarse grain sea salt
1 egg

Method

1. In a bowl, combine the water and sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour in the yeast and allow to sit for 6-8 minutes.
2. In a larger bowl, whisk together the bread flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3. Once the yeast mixture has had time to activate, pour it into the flour mixture until a crumbly dough forms.
4. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be pretty firm. You can knead by hand or in a stand mixer.
5. Place the dough in  a lightly olive oiled bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.
6. Turn the dough out a few times on a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
7. Shape each piece into a ball and press your thumb through the center to create a hole. Make this hole a little bigger so that when it boils and bakes it will be visible.
8. Once you have shaped the bagels, let them rest for 10 minutes with a damp paper towel covering them.
9. While the bagels are resting, boil a pot of water. After 10 minutes of resting, pop the bagels into the water (one by one or two at a time). The bagels should float in boiling water.
10. Let each bagel boil for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. If you boil the bagels for a shorter amount of time, the bagels will rise in the oven and have a softer texture. If you boil them for longer, the bagel will have a denser interior. Remove bagels onto prepared baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
11. Whisk the egg plus one teaspoon of water together in a small bowl and brush mixture over each bagel. The egg wash will help the seeds stick and give them a nice brown sheen.
12. Add the seeds and salt! My order: caraway seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt. Be generous with how many seeds you put on each bagel.
13. Bake bagels for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.
14. Serve bagels warm with whipped cream cheese. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Bagel I

The dough will be firm – at first I was worried that I had added too much flour or messed up the yeast ratio, but bagel dough is actually supposed to be less elastic than other breads. This makes it harder to knead, so focus less on working with your dough and more on making sure the ingredients are combined.

Bagel H

Using an egg wash (1 egg and 1 teaspoon of water) helps the goodies stick to the bagels. Don’t skimp on the seeds – the more the yummier!

Bagel G

Bagel F

Bake only for 20 minutes – for my bagels this was the perfect amount of time to ensure a crisp exterior and chewy interior.

Bagel E

Bagel D

Bagel B

Bagel A

Serve the bagels warm with whipped cream cheese and enjoy!

What type of bagel is your favorite?

Images and recipe by Lauren Jessen

Around Town: Treat House – New York City

THH

If you’re a Rice Krispie treat lover, then Treat House will be dessert heaven for you. Inspired by a successful bake sale, the Russell family expanded into a store when their gourmet treats were a huge success. Treat House is a flavorful twist on a childhood favorite treat.

While I normally can’t get enough of good ol’ marshmallow and crisp rice cereal, the flavors here are fun and creative. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, there are a variety of options to choose from. With flavors ranging from Birthday Cake to Watermelon to Pina Colada to Cotton Candy to S’mores, there’s something for everyone. An entire store dedicated to sweet rice crisp and marshmallow treats with unique flavors – yum! Visit with a friend and share a few so you can try a bunch of these sweet treats.

THD

THE

THB

THA

THC

THF

THG

Images by Lauren

What I Watched: July 2015

What I Watched July

There were more homemade meals this month than actual movie-watching, though I did manage to start off the month with a couple of new ones. If you haven’t already seen Saving Private Ryan, you absolutely must. During the second half of the month I gravitated toward movies I love but haven’t seen in a while. It’s fun to revisit a movie you haven’t watched in years – it either makes you remember why you loved it so much, or you question why you liked it at all and analyze how your movie preferences have changed.

What movies did you watch this July?

Images: {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

7 Must-See Exhibitions in New York City

There are always so many great things happening in New York City that it can be a challenge to filter through them all to find the gems. One thing I like to keep an eye out for are unique exhibitions happening around the city and surrounding areas. Here are the seven exhibitions I’m looking forward to – most of them end in the next couple of months, so be sure to check them out soon!

1. China: Through the Looking Glass

china through the looking glass -2

This incredible exhibit is set to break the popular Alexander McQueen exhibit that took place at The Met in 2011. Because of its popularity, the exhibit has been extended through Labor Day weekend. This exhibition houses some of the most beautiful haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear pieces of clothing alongside Chinese art and screens featuring Chinese movies. I visited once, but I’m very tempted to go again. Until September 7, 2015.

2. Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition

exhibit1
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the pop cultural phenomenon that transformed television. Check out and interact with props, costumes, and sets that you’ve seen on your T.V. every Saturday night for the past 40 years. Maybe you’ll see a prop from one of your favorite sketches!

3. Sinatra: An American Icon

exhibit23

This incredible exhibit gives you an up-close-and-personal look at Frank Sinatra’s life, from his time on the silver screen to when his voice captured the hearts of America. You can see his clothes, recording studio, Oscar trophy, and read all about his life and how he came to be an icon. Until September 4, 2015.

4. Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television

exhibit5This is the first exhibition to explore how avant-garde art influenced and shaped the look and content of network television from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Having majored in media studies, this exhibit looks intriguing. Until September 27, 2015.

5. Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men

mad men notes - 2

I saw this exhibit a couple of months ago, but since it’s still running for another two months, I’d recommend all Mad Men fans go see it. You get to see the costumes and scripts, but the coolest part of the exhibit for me was stepping into Betty and Don’s kitchen and looking around Don’s office. It all comes to life – a true step back into the 1960s. Until September 6, 2015.

6. Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life

exhibit6

I can’t wait to see this gorgeous looking exhibit of Frida Kahlo – it’s the first exhibition to examine the artist’s appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. Until November 1, 2015.

7. Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland

exhibit7

Love Lewis Carroll’s classic tale? For the first time in 30 years, the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland will be on display along with original drawings and letters, photographs, and objects. Until October 11, 2015.

Which exhibits are you looking forward to seeing?

Images {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}

The Best of Billy Wilder

billy

There are few movies that make me repeatedly cry-laugh. The Birdcage is one of those movies. Some Like It Hot is another. The director of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, is one of American cinema’s premiere writer-directors. With gorgeous films such as Sabrina, The Apartment, and The Seven Year Itch, to name a few, Wilder has demonstrated his talent for writing and directing time and time again.

Billy Wilder was born in Austria in 1906 and became a screenwriter in the 1920s. He originally studied law, but shortly after he obtained a newspaper writing job where he conducted interviews and covered stories on crime and personal profiles. Wilder eventually made his way to the United States, and ultimately to Hollywood, after escaping the rise of the Nazis in Germany. This fantastic interview in The Paris Review gives a thorough look at Wilder’s background and provides insight into his life and work.

Whether you are a big Billy Wilder fan, have seen one of his movies, or are just starting to learn about his work (if you’re new to Wilder’s films, Sabrina is a great starting point), these films are absolutely must-see.

Best of Billy WilderWhat are your favorite Billy Wilder movies?

Images: {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

That’s a Wrap!

heart pizza

This week was all about homemade meals. From clam linguine to an improvised Farmers Market meal to a heart pizza, there was no shortage of trying new recipes and experimenting with fresh ingredients. On my radar movie theater-wise: Trainwreck and Irrational Man. After being on the verge of a cold for more than half the week, I’m looking forward to getting some extra sleep this weekend. For now, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

GET INVITED BACK: A variety of gifts to bring every type of host/hostess.

CROSSING AMERICA: Routes from some of the greatest literary road trips.

PART II: Oh, the good ol’ Hollywood sequel.

DON’T WASTE: Use this handy chart to avoid food waste.

PARTY TIME: Throw an oyster bash.

THIRD PLACE: Jurassic World is now the third highest-grossing film in history, behind Titanic and Avatar. 

TERMS TO KNOW: A useful glossary of wine-tasting terms.

PRO TIPS: Baking tips from pastry chefs around the country.

Have a great weekend!

Image by Lauren