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Taking Time

This past weekend was an exercise in losing a sense of time ticking away, items checked off lists, places to be, ways to be more productive. As much as I long for more hours in the day in which to pack more math homework, recipes to make, posts to blog, and creative ways to bring home more bacon, sometimes it’s nice to spend hours with friends, watch movies in bed, make a PB&J sandwich for dinner and call it a day. And if we can’t do this in the height of July, taking long strolls outside and eating ice cream on the sidewalks, when can we?

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On Friday evening after work, I met Anna, Danielle, and Leslie for dinner at Balade, a new-to-me Lebanese spot in the East Village. We arrived when the restaurant was near-empty and flooded with daylight, and left with a dark sky and not a free table in sight. (“Balade” means fresh, local; used when describing produce of high quality in Lebanese.)

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Before we ordered, we were brought a bowl of warm pita-like puffs to dip in Zaatar sauce: olive oil, wild thyme, sesame seeds & sumac.

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We shared an order of Fatayir with spinach & feta. We were expecting these little pies to be more flaky, like Greek-style spinach-feta pies made with phyllo dough. Instead, these were more like soft stuffed pockets, sort of like empanadas and made with the same dough as our bread basket.

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There were so many tempting items on the menu, so we ultimately each decided to order our own sampler plates and try four different things. I chose grilled haloumi, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, and baba ghanouj.

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Everything was so delicious! I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu, like the pitza that is featured on a significant portion of the list. It would be a great first date spot, a good place to bring vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

After dinner, we headed to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, a dairy-free ice cream shop that is so old timey and charming that even if the dessert was terrible, I’d still have a hard time giving it a bad review.

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Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that.

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This was literally some of the best ice cream- be it dairy-, soy-, coconut-, fruit-, goat-based- I’ve ever had. The Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor even gives Oink’s a run for its money! The line was long but worth the wait, and I’m glad to have another place to get my fix.

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On Sunday morning, Ari and I had a morning date we’ve been planning since before I went to Michigan. To put myself in the festive mood, I wore my Coney Island dress, which always makes me happy. As do these shoes.

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We got to Pachanga Patterson right as they opened… I’d already been wide awake for the past two hours, heart palpitating with thoughts of their “Mexican Breakfast.”

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When Ari was in college, he lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A few blocks from his apartment was a restaurant called Bonita, which, according to Bon Appétit magazine, thought it had the best fish tacos east of San Diego. I’ve never been to San Diego (or Mexico, for that matter), but Bonita’s fish tacos will forever be the gold standard to which every fish taco will forever be held to until the day I die. Sadly Bonita has since closed, but Pachanga Patterson may very well be our new substitute.

The Mexican Breakfast was not, as we’d pictured, a rendition of huevos rancheros (a combination of eggs, hot salsa and cheese served over corn tortillas, often with black or refried beans) we were familiar with. Still, it was fresh, delicious, and filling. It’s scrambled eggs with potatoes, tomatoes, and jalepeños, served with fresh (and warm!) corn tortillas and a side salad with butter lettuce, cabbage, and roasted corn.

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And best of all? The “Brunch Completo” (served with cocktail) is ten dollars. Ten! We’ve only been to the restaurant twice, but it’s already reached favorite status.

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After breakfast, to celebrate leisure time and the hard work that preceded the days before it, we watched several hours of television and movies. And we did so guilt-freely.

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Goal for 2011 update: Cook One New Recipe A Week

Week 1: Lemony Spaghetti with Bitter Greens & Chickpeas

Week 2: Lentil Chili

Week 3: Chickpeas in Star Anise & Date Masala

Week 4: Thai-Style Black Beans w/ Mango & Cilantro

Week 5: Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus & Brown Rice, Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cheddar and Toasted Almonds, Warm Red Lentil Salad, Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad.

Week 6: Beets, Spiced Quinoa & Yogurt, Sesame-Cooked Eggs Over Rice

Week 7: Curried Parsnip Fries

Week 8: Curried Lentils & Sweet Potatoes

Week 9: Rutabagas with Buckwheat, Black Beans & Kale, Garlicky Mushroom Greens

Week 10: Tamarind Lentils, The Double-Shift Scramble

Week 11: Spicy Chickpea Salad, Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze, Spicy Red Lentil, Peanut & Pumpkin Soup

Week 12: Sunday Night Supper Salad, Peanut Butter Banana-Berry French Toast Sandwich

Week 13: Grilled Cheddar-Mushroom Sandwich

Week 14: Black Bean Soup, Sweet Pumpkin Pudding

Week 15: Green Rice

Week 16: Matzoh Buttercrunch Candy,  Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

Week 17: Truffled Turnip Soup, Nutty Lemon Brussels Sprouts, Cookie Dough Smoothie

Week 18: Raw Chocolate Fudge Cake, Spring Pasta

Week 19: Chopped Kale w/ Hot Pepper Vinegar

Week 20: Ultimate Veggie Burgers, Mmm Sauce

Week 21: Ribbed Asparagus Salad with Lemon, Spinach & Chickpeas, Chocolate-Chip Blondies, Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes, Leek Zucchini Pasta Salad

Week 22: Sesame Ginger Kale Salad, Hoisin Ginger Tofu with Smoky Tahini Slaw  

Week 23: Pan-Seared Asparagus Salad with Frisée and Fried Egg, Baked Ziti, Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread, Green Bowl   

Week 24: Quinoa Cookies, Chocolate Mousse

Week 26: Sweet Potato Stuffed with Caramelized Tempeh and Sautéed Kale, Shaved Fennel Salad, Summer Pesto

Week 27: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Week 28: Choco-holic Pancakes

Week 29: Green Israeli Couscous Salad

What have you taken time for recently?

12 comments to Taking Time

  • Your outfit is adorable!!

    jealous of your bloggy dinner!!

    you also inspire me to make MORE recipes!! :)

  • avery

    breakfast looks glorious! So did the Lebanese place! This weekend I skipped a triathlon I had already registered for. I never do that! But I was cranky all night the night before, and just had a “blah” feeling about it, plus a busy afternoon and evening to follow, so I just gave myself permission to skip it. I had a great (albeit, hot) workout by myself in the morning instead. Sometimes you really do just have to let go of the guilt!

  • I feel the same way about Lulu’s. I think it might be my favorite in NYC, and I’m not even a vegan.

  • What a fun weekend! Those little pita puffs look super yummy. I haven’t been out to ice cream in ages (dairy or non dairy)…we seem to always go for frozen yogurt instead! I have been trying to take more time to get out of the house and just DO things…with the peanut on the way- we know getting out will be tougher

  • This weekend was ALL about zero-guilt for me… not worrying about job applications, spending too much money, excess culinary indulgence. And it was divine! Glad to have shared it with you.

  • Ada

    That looks like such a fun weekend! Lula’s is totally awesome:) We definitely need a dinner date soon!

  • I am pretty sure haloumi, falafel, and hummus (aka middle-eastern food) is my favorite cuisine. I could eat it every day! Balade looks really yummy.

    I’m glad you were able to give Lula’s a try – the PB&J flavor there is my favorite. Sometimes I buy it by the pint.

    See you Thursday!! :)

  • what an adorable dress i love it! mmm lebanese food is terribly tasty! my version of mexican breakfast is eggs with tons of salsa on top ha. that looks far far better!

  • I love zaatar! I first had it when I lived in Israel, and adored buying these delicious, hot pieces of pita bread covered in olive oil and zaatar. Such a treat!

    That no dairy ice cream place looks really good too.

  • you and i both share the SAME love for leisurely summer weekends! i just love the lazy but so non lazy vibe of summer, where you just want to be out and about doing fun leisurely things and then back at home in the coolness relaxing, i just think summer screams relaaaax so i’m glad we’re both finding time to do that :) we also neeed to find time for a date!

  • sad i missed dinner! balade looks delicious. and lula’s too! love leslie’s ice creamgasm face. priceless.

    this pachanga patterson place sounds more awesome every time you blog about it. i just looked at the menu and feel like i need a veggie jenga in my life. queens brunch??

  • Oh my I adore that outfit and desperately want that ice cream! There’a a Lebanese cafe in my town that I’ve been dying to try out and you may have just convinced me! As I had a week off last week and spend time in Brighton (on the south coast of the Uk – a wonderful seaside town with a very boho vibe) I indulged in a lot of time spent by myself taking long runs, yoga, eating and shopping!

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