Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pinterest - my new addiction

If you haven't been over to Pinterest.com yet, I almost hesitate to tell you about it. For a list-making, project- and recipe-collecting, (slightly?) OCD person like myself, it's the web version of crack cocaine.

You see, Pinterest allows you to save photos and bookmarks of the things you find on the web. All kinds of things - products, project ideas, recipes, funny quotes. And it lets you organize these things on "boards" any way you wish. So, I have a "Spooktacular!" board where I've pinned fun Halloween ideas - foods, costumes, decorating schemes, links to products I want to buy.

And the site just keeps that information there for you, organized in your intuitive way. AND THEN you can see what your friends on Facebook are pinning. Or just browse what everyone's pinning, to see if there's anything there you like.

You can see how this is dangerous for me, no? I've already had to get ruthless about what I pin. If it doesn't look fairly cheap, pretty easy, quick, and fabulous, I won't pin it. Otherwise, you end up with something like 3,000 pins. Like some of my friends. (I am sooooo not kidding.)

The process is completely addictive and a huge time sink.

However, if you decide to click on over there despite my warnings, welcome to the dark side! Be sure to look me up!

Scrutinized

For years, it's been on my personal "to do" list to attain APR accreditation. The process to do so is rather lengthy:

1.) Submit an application and a readiness review questionnaire. On the basis of these documents, you are allowed (or not) to go to the next step.
2.) Sit for a readiness review. You put together a professional portfolio, then you present it to a panel of 3 APRs. They ask questions to determine your professional areas of strength/weakness. Based on this review, you are allowed (or not) to go to the next step.
3.) A computer-based examination of 187 questions that tests your knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of topics necessary to the field. You must pass the exam to achieve accreditation.

After a little more than 6 months to get through all the steps, I think I can safely say I've done it at last. I took the exam on Saturday and got a B! Woo hoo! It's not technically official until I hear from the Public Relations Society of America, but it's looking like I can FINALLY mark this one DONE!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Table 100

There's a new restaurant in town! Table 100 is located on Lakeland Drive in Flowood, right next to Lowe's. I've been there twice now, so I thought I'd weigh in.

On my first visit, I popped in for lunch one weekend. After settling myself at the bar, I ordered the macaroni and cheese gratin (small plate) and the farm to table vegetable plate. First - the macaroni and cheese. It comes out in a small iron skillet, which I think makes for a wonderful presentation. It's also quite a large portion, so I think it would make a great appetizer to share. Secondly, the dish has a nice, crunchy breadcrumb topping. (YUM!) The macaroni is flavored with Parmesan cheese and ham, which is a great combination. My only regret? I wanted MORE HAM. Bites with a piece of ham in them were perfectly seasoned, owing to the saltiness of the meat. Bites without a piece of ham, however, were undersalted to my taste. (Plus, I love ham. More ham equals more love.)

Then, my vegetable plate came. It featured a delicious, buttery ear of Silver Queen corn, a gorgeous cornbread muffin, a tender pile of creamy lady peas, a nice heap of mashed potatoes studded with sauteed onions, and a divine bowl of black eyed peas. Each vegetable was absolutely delicious. (Particularly the black-eyed peas. I'm not sure what they were cooked with, but they came in almost a light brown sauce that was rich and full of flavor.) I do have one small gripe, though. The vegetables on this plate rotate according to what's in season, available, looks good, etc. But the combination of vegetables that ended up on my plate were very starchy. Beans, corn, potatoes, and bread. I longed for something greener (green beans, perhaps?), or something just raw and fresh (a bit of sliced, dressed fresh tomato?) to balance the plate and provide color. Other than that, though, I had no problems with this dish. Each vegetable was delicious and expertly cooked.

I returned for dinner last week. I started with the watermelon mojito. Dear LORD, it was good. I could have easily drank two or three of them. Delicious. I followed it with the duck confit spring rolls, which were yummy and served with a kicky sauce. My friend chose the crabcake, and I found myself stealing bites form her plate. (When I return, that will be the first thing I order.)

For an entree, I selected the pasta bolognese. I was surprised to see that they were putting the hearty sauce on angel hair noodles. While the taste was excellent, I am used to seeing bolognese served on a much more robust noodle, such as a penne. At any rate, it was very tasty, and the sauce held a hint of sweetness that I still haven't been able to pin down. I finished with a nice, creamy peach melba that was entirely satisfying. My friend got the cheesecake, infused with some sort of tropical flavor that I can't seem to recall at the moment. (Must be the mojitos. Heh.)

At any rate, I highly recommend this place. Prices are spendy, but the food is made with care and the service is outstanding. I enjoyed both of my visits there, and I'll definitely be returning!

Nose in a book

I've had my nose in a book for a while now. Because hubs and I are planning to go to Italy in the spring, I've been gravitating towards books involving travel and/or Italy in some way. Thought I'd weigh in and report on some of the pages I've devoured.

Lady in the Palazzo is written by Marlena de Blasi, she of A Thousand Days in Venice fame. In the autobiographical book, de Blasi relates how she and her husband relocate to Orvieto, a charming hill town in Umbria. The couple finds an apartment, contracts to renovate it, and settles into a new life of friends and food in the town. It's not much of a plot, but de Blasi writes evocatively of food and the Italian way of life. (And there are some recipes at the end! Woo hoo!) This is a great armchair traveling book for those who love either or both.

Eat My Globe, by Simon Majumdar, has alot more action. Upon turning 40, the author realizes that he has some unaccomplished goals. Namely, to go everywhere and eat everything. To whit, he quits his job and schedules a 14-month jaunt around the world, basing his itinerary on the best dishes the world has to offer. Majumdar really does cover quite a bit of territory during his trip, and he honestly evaluates both the places he visits and the foodstuffs he consumes. Plus, he's both a gifted write and a funny guy. Highly recommended! (P.S. Majumdar and his brother run a food blog - Dos Hermanos - that's updated regularly. Worth checking out, even if the photos and text layout rather oddly on screen.)

Lastly, I just finished Passion on the Vine, by Sergio Esposito. A native Italian and a devotee of both wine and food, Esposito runs Italian Wine Merchants in New York City. His book describes how he fell in love with Italian wines, got to know their producers, and developed a market for them in the United States. Readers follow him as he rambles across Italy, meeting winemakers and tasting delicious dishes. I learned alot about Italian wines by reading this book, knowledge I plan to put to good use when we visit Rome!

All three were great books for vicarious traveling. Hmmmm . . . what will I read next?