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First Dates and Fancy Grilled Cheese

Good morning and happy Thursday! Hope you had a fabulous day yesterday. Thanks to everyone who tweeted and commented about The Tonight Show yesterday… Vanessa Carlton ended up performing last (around 12:30), so in case you missed the show, you can watch it here! (I’m a proud girlfriend :-) .)

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Yesterday started off very early. My math final (sayonara, Pre-Calculus!) was scheduled for 7:30 AM, so I got up around 5 for a little last-minute studying.

On my way to campus, I picked up an apple for pre-exam fuel. And on my way from school to work, I picked up a soy misto to reward myself for another completed semester. (If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably encountered several of my angry rants against trigonometry and double-angle formulas… so I’m so glad that’s over with!)
apple.JPG misto.JPG <— the room at the restaurant where the staff eat is a little chaotic right now…

Breakfast was a winner! We have a lot of cute stone fruit (they’re teeny!) from the CSA, so I layered apricots, honey-flavored Greek yogurt, and almond butter on a slice of banana bread. I tried a similar version last weekend and I’m in love!

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Lunch was kept light (leftover salmon salad, a grapefruit)…

leftovers.JPG grapefruit.JPG

… because I had early dinner plans with Danielle at The Queens Kickshaw! Danielle and I have been out many times in group settings, but we thought it was high-time, in our 2+ years of friendship, to go out solo. And I’ve been hearing such great things about Kickshaw that I knew it was the best spot for our “first date.”

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The restaurant boasts a large craft beer list. It was a little overwhelming, actually, so we both adopted a “when in doubt, try everything!” attitude and chose a flight with Victory Prima Pils, Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan (my favorite), Mikkeller Tettnanger Single Hop, and Allagash Black.

beer list.JPG kickshaw beer flight.JPG

The grilled cheese list was also long and interesting, so we decided to split two. Fontina Val d’Aosta with marinated mushrooms and basil pesto, open-faced on ciabatta, with green salad and toasted pine nuts:

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Manchego & Ricotta with minted eggplant and capers on multigrain with green salad and pickled golden raisins.

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We were in grilled cheese heaven. The manchego/ricotta combination was our favorite, but both were delicious! There’s a black bean hummus/gouda/guava jam combination I’m dying to go back and try, too.

We followed our meal up with cocktails at Sweet Afton, and old-timey space with exposed beams and a wiry Irish bartender. I chose a “new version” of a Manhattan (he burnt my orange rind in the candle!) while Danielle went with a refreshing strawberry-cucumber-elderberry martini. I’m all for Manhattans in the cold months, but I much preferred Danielle’s drink to mine.

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We capped the night with an ice cream quest… slim pickings, unfortunately, but we ended up at Carvel for soft-serve. Not bad for a a joint that shares its space with a Subway sandwich shop.

carvel.JPG

I think our first date went well ;-) . I’m really proud of myself for making more time to socialize this summer… things will probably be a little crazy again once the fall semester starts, but I’m going to relish these last few weeks.

Better late than never!

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

Week 30: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts

What’s the craziest grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had? I can’t get last night’s meal off my brain!

As a reminder, today’s your last chance to enter the Stonyfield Organic Activia giveaway. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow morning.

27 comments to First Dates and Fancy Grilled Cheese

  • grilled cheese, DANIELLE, and soft serve?! good gracious, I am jealous of your night!!!

  • Oof, I look rough in that picture. Long day, I guess ;) . Thanks for showing me such a fabulous time in Astoria! It was the first of many, many of our dates.

  • The apricot topped banana bread looks delicious! I’d like that for my breakfast, please :)

    And I’ve heard such good things about The Queen Rickshaw, I think I need to make a trip to Astoria!

  • I love grilled cheese sandwiches or toasties as we call them here, especially with coleslaw on the side. You’ve reminded me I need to make myself one with a vegan cheese alternative :-)

  • Oh my goodness! So great, you must be so proud! And grilled cheese = my favourite!

  • avery

    oooh my. All those grilled cheeses looked and sound fantastic. Its not too crazy, but I’m a big fan of a dark rye bread with turkey, a sharp cheddar and some lingonberry spread!

  • mmmmmmmmmmm! I love fancy grilled cheese! We have a goat/mozzarella combo at a restaurant nearby that comes with tomato and spinach? Amazing. Glad your exam is over (hoooooray!) and stone fruit is just perfect right now.

  • Congrats to Ari! That’s so amazing :)

    I always forget how delicious fresh apricots are…I hope I can remember to pick some up at our farmer’s market on Sunday!

    Not sure this is crazy but there is something called a “Grownup Grilled Cheese” at a local sandwich place that has cheddar, swiss, tomatoes and avocado on wheatberry bread. So delicious!

  • Yin

    The Queens Kickshaw looks so good! Too bad it’s so far from me :(

  • ilena

    Do you ever go to Red Mango? It’s not too far from Sweet Afton. You forgot to mention you ran into meeee :D

  • Those are some serious grilled cheese sandwiches. My kinda eating! :)

  • I once made a blue cheese and fig grilled cheese–it turned out pretty well!

  • I adore making gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. My favorite I’ve made to date is goat cheese, mango chutney, sliced peaches, and coconut. It’s amazing!

  • oh my god that song is AMAZING! and is that ari on the guitar on the right!? so cool!!! you should be so proud lady!

    congrats on being done! #winningggggggg. hahahaha i can’t beleive i just hastagged it!

  • dear god. that grilled cheese makes me want to hop on a subway to queens stat. let’s plan this outing for real!

  • what if we got all of we blogging ladies to come to astoria, and then we could order every grilled cheese on the menu and try them all. just a thought.

    i’m glad you and danielle had a successful first date – food, drink, and ice cream basically define date night perfection, so i’m sure it wasn’t too tough. :)

  • Those grilled cheeses look so good!!! Please tell me you’re going to try to replicate them in your own kitchen and then post the recipe. :)

  • i can’t even explain how much i want to go out to eat with you in NYC. some day, some day…

  • buenas noches, chief blog on greasy loss. comparable helped.

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