Archive for October, 2011

Dilmun Hill Student Farm

There are many hidden gems at Cornell.  The many gardens, naked statues, toaster ovens in secret kitchens etc.

Dilmun Hill is definitely a hidden gem that everyone should check out.  The farm is organic and entirely run by students.  There are ‘work parties’ a few times a week where anyone is invited to come help out with farming duties like harvesting, weeding, washing veggies, and laying out compost.  It does not come with out rewards.  Volunteers can take home a bag of veggies for their time.

They look nice and clean now but that leek got the entire sink dirty.  Roughly left to right is green kale, leek, lettuce, bok choi, bell peppers, tomato, kale, dinosaur kale, purple kale, and paw paws in the front.  I literally was walking down the planted rows snapping off kale and uprooting leeks.  It is probably the freshest food I have ever gotten.

Who knew paw paws could grow in upstate NY??  Heck, who knew what a paw paw was?!  It is in the Jungle Book but who as actually seen a real paw paw?  Apparently, one of those green things Baloo was throwing around during Bear Necessities was a paw paw.  If you’d like to know, paw paws are in the custard apple family like cherimoyas which I tried to buy and eat a few weeks ago and utterly failed by the way.  The taste of pawpaws were described to me as a cross between mangoes and bananas but after actually eating one it was more like a creamy bananay persimmon.

You get to try all sorts of new stuff on the farm.  Introducing a hardy kiwi:


It about the size of a grape but the inside is a kiwi! Except there’s no brown fuzzy skin and it’s bite size. You just kinda pluck them off the vine and bite into a mini smooth kiwi.

Basically everyone should come help out at Dilmun.  You will be able to 1) try cool exotic tropical fruit grown right in Ithaca! 2) take home lots o veggies 3) get some exercise 4) spend some time outdoors 5) escape from campus.  The students who run the farm work hard and it’s cool to see where food comes from.  (oh, THAT’s what a kale plant looks like, bok choi kinda looks like a cabbage in the ground etc.)  It really makes me want to have a garden and try and grow some food!  For now I can always come to Dilmun.

Bok Choi!

Carrot in the Cake

A rustic bday carrot cake.

I kinda like the no frosted sides and like the way the frosting oozes between the layers.  Plus I don’t think I had enough cream cheese frosting anyways.

Process of making carrot cake:

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Something new ~ Sea Pearl

This weekend was the dad’s birthday which calls for special dinner out. For special occasions our go-to restaurant is Peking Gourmet Inn for possibly the world’s best peking duck. We wanted to try something new and of course I was landed with the task to scope out a new restaurant. In about 30 seconds I found ‘100 best restaurants in DC’ lists but most of the ones on those type of lists are uber expensive like The Inn at Little Washington, L’Auberge Chez Francois, 2941 etc. For the record, I haven’t been to any of those fine establishments but I will before I die. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely wanted to go somewhere nice but also not spend $300 on dinner for 4. After we had already made reservations at Peking Duck, we decided to go for Sea Pearl in Merrifield.

from sea pearl website

It was a large space with bar, lounge, and dining areas. The walls were a oceany teal with mahogany tables and chairs and straight-backed booths. there were a few ‘center pieces’ of iridescent, creamy discs strung from the ceiling in a rectangle that flowed down to the backs of a benches used for seating. It was reminiscent of bubbles or strings of pearls. On the table were plastic, orange, meshy table runners or place settings that popped off the dark wood and had a seaweed kind of feel. I remember speedo used to make sandals with a similar material for the soles but it was much classier than that.

Now for the real good stuff. The food. My family is definitely a bread eating bunch. When the first basket of garlicy, oniony focaccia type bread was down it was gone in about 2 minutes. When we asked for more the server returned with about three times as much bread stuffed in the same basket. The other appetizer was classic calamari. I believe Sea Pearl’s version was corn meal crusted but it was like every other delicious calamari I’ve ever had.

For the mains, the table was laden with the Akaushi Beef Burger, Spicy Crab Pasta, Panko Crusted Crab Cake, and the Japanese Kabayaki Salmon Salad. The burger was pretty substantial with some perfect little skinny fries.

The crab pasta had plenty of crab and my dad said might have been a little too much on the spicy side. I had just a bite and I liked it a lot but I could see eating a whole plateful becoming overwhelming.

My crab cake was the size of a baseball and it was accompanied with a shaved asparagus, arugala salad, a grilled corn relish, and piquillo pepper aioli. The plate looked a little off balance with the crab cake in the middle and the salad off to the side. Asthetics aside, it was delicious and was pretty much all crab the whole way through. The salad was dressed perfectly and balanced it out with some nice acidity.

The salmon salad was big and well dressed and colorful.

No meal is complete without dessert so we ordered two. The Florentian Tower and the Pumpkin Brioche Bread Pudding.

The tower was a huge florentine cookie molded into a cylinder that had caramel cream, bananas, and whipped cream in the center. Initially, we thought it was a little over priced at $12 dollars but we concluded that the technical skill required for the dessert warranted the price. We always make these florentine chocolate sandwhich cookies at Christmas that are always a bit tempermental. The Florentine cookie tower really complemented the creamy interior very nicely plus a spring of fresh mint. I’ve found I really like fresh mint. It has such a different flavor than the peppermint candy vibe. It’s fresher tasting more smooth sort of mint taste. Whenever there is a mint garnish I find myself eating it! I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do that or not.

The pumpkin bread pudding was warm and rich with maple syrup, candied walnuts, dollop of vanilla creme anglaise, and a spring of mint. Bread pudding is one of the most warm, rich, fabulous desserts. I don’t think I’ve ever met a bread pudding I haven’t liked. This was was delicious but I’m not sure I tasted too much pumpkin in it.

It was a fabulous dinner that was satisfying start through finish. The portions were satisfying without being grossly stuffed or hungry by the end. As an expensive restaurant prices were reasonable from the salad at $17 to my more pricey jumbo crab cake at $27. The mood and ambiance was perfectly complimentary and I left really glad that we had tried a new restuarant.

Sea Pearl gets: 0 0 0 0 0     5 pearly pearls

Pretty bouquet to close. ;D