Friday, November 21, 2008

Gastronomy: Beef Short Rib

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that autumn is my favorite season—the crisp smell that lingers in the air, leaves crunching beneath your feet, pumpkins, heavy ales, cozy sweaters and one-pot-meals. Today was the first day that the air changed, indicating that fall has finally arrived. It is the kind of day when the rain lingers, the air is visibly colder, and for the first time in months, you need a sweater. I thought it would be the perfect night to make my family one of my favorite one-pot-meals, beef short rib.

Growing up, I always thought marbleized fat in meat was horrible. It turns out, when you are making a slow cooked, one-pot-meal, “fatty” cuts of meat like a pork shoulder or beef short rib actually make incredibly savory, tender dishes. It’s the kind of food that is perfect for a fall day, incredibly easy, and truly has the ability to warm the soul. Cheers to autumn!

Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib Recipe

4 lbs beef short rib
2 c red wine
2 c beef stock
2 c sliced, button mushrooms
4 T flat leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Season short rib with salt and pepper. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook 2 more minutes. Add short rib, 2 T parsley, mushrooms, wine, and stock. Bring to simmer on stove top. Cover and move to oven. Cook for about 6 hours or until tender. Remove from oven and skim fat. Plate and ladle sauce and remaining 2 T parsley over the top.

Serve with warm, crusty bread and a terrific ale. I recommend a domestic Blue Moon Harvest or a mouth-watering Belgian brew for fall.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obsession: Belgian Beer

The Belgian brewmasters have a rich tradition of producing some of the most acclaimed and diverse collections of beers on the planet. No beer compliments the crispness of autumn better than a Belgian brew. Some of our favorites include Delirium Tremens, Leffe Blonde, and Duchesse de Bourgeogne. Alongside your favorite comfort food, pour one of these beauties into a glass and savor an obsession that has been handed down since the Middle Ages.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Style: Right at Home

Upon moving to our new home in a strange and foreign place, we received a lovely housewarming gift from our familiar and very comfortable friends. The package contained a linen pillow with a single bent tulip insignia. The simplicity of the design was perfectly representative of our relationship with the benefactors—down-to-earth and oh-so-natural.

Three Sheets 2 the Wind has created a line that celebrates restrained organic beauty at its best. A design and manufacturing studio, Three Sheets produces handmade accessories that not only include pillows, but bedding and textile wall prints, as well. Patterns are screen printed using hand-dyed colors on rich linens and cottons. Both fabric and pattern dyes are offered in a variety of lush and nature-inspired colors, using names like squash, moss, twig, and robins egg. Even the pattern name offerings are minimally poetic—choose from single bud, vessel, and blossom tree. With over a dozen designs and colors to choose from, the possibilities for unique and motivating ideas are limitless. Or, if you’re in need of customizing a gift for that-special-someone, a Three Sheets’ design is guaranteed to delight, inspire, and make the recipient feel very much at home. Details:

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Obsession: Design For Obama

Longing to offer creative give-aways for my Obama-celebratory party, I stumbled upon A group of graphic artists, spear-headed by Rhode Island School of Design students Aaron Perry-Zucker and Adam Meyer, came together to support Barack Obama in a creative way. The result includes page after page of poster art available for download. Some are funny, others thoughtful, but all incredibly inspirational.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adventure Napa: Don’t Balk—Take Your Kids to Napa

Many of us have visited Napa for a romantic get-away, or, at least, have short-listed it as an enviable retreat. After dreaming about vacationing in the northern California countryside for, oh, about 20 years or so, my husband and I were lucky enough to finally visit. For our 18th anniversary, my in-laws volunteered to stay with our sons for a gloriously long weekend.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our time away. Napa, after all, is an adult’s playground—the best restaurants run by some of the world’s top chefs, rich wines and cheeses at every stop, and quaint and charming bed and breakfasts on each corner. For an entire weekend we were not limited to bedtimes, child-friendly fare, or frequent visits to the bathroom—an enormous gift for any weary-eyed parent. It was during this trip, however, that Napa not only exceeded our romantic expectations, but opened our eyes to just how much our sons would enjoy a trip to Napa, too.

Round Pond: Round Pond not only makes wine, but also grows olives. Lucky for us, the proprietors of Round Pond have built their very own olive oil stone and hammer mills. If you are premeditated in your planning, you can actually experience the harvesting and pressing of the olives that occurs some time in the fall. But, during any season, visitors can call ahead to tour the mill and taste Round Pond’s bounty.

Learn to recognize the difference between Italian, Spanish, Meyer Lemon, and Blood Orange olive oils. Some are smooth and buttery, others are hearty and full-bodied, but all are delicious when served with crusty breads, grassy or earthy cheeses, and fresh, organic produce—some directly picked from their very own vineyards. Details: 886 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, California,

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park: This Napa State Park offers ten miles of hiking trails and is home to coyotes, bobcats, fox, deer, and over 100 types of birds. Grab a snack or lunch from Dean & Deluca or the Oakville Grocery, and spend the afternoon meandering the picturesque countryside. Details: 3801 St. Helena Highway, North Calistoga, California,; Dean & Deluca, 607 S. Highway 29, St. Helena, California,; Oakville Grocery, 7856 Highway 29, Oakville, California,

Quixote Winery: This winery organically farms from a small, family vineyard and, as a result, produces a limited quantity of red wine (really yummy Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon). But, what this winery does on a large-scale, is the design of their home-base. Friedensreich Hundertwasser, artist, philosopher, architect, and all-around eccentric, designed Quioxte Winery as his last project. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to tour a Hundertwasser wonder, stop by the Quioxte Winery or call ahead for a tour.

In Hundertwasser designs, there are no straight lines—even the floors are often sloped. Roofs are adorned with trees and grass, structures are supported with rich, multi-colored tiles, and winding pathways lead to colorful onion domes around every corner. Spending time in a Hundertwasser is like spending time in Oz. Details: 6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, California,

Taylor’s Automatic: For lunch, you can almost get away with eating at any great Napa restaurant with kids. If you’re spending a couple of days in Napa, take advantage of these great culinary giants. However, if you’re only spending a day and need a good and relaxed place for dinner, stop by Taylor’s Automatic. With a reputation far and wide for some of the best all-natural California beef burgers topped with mouth-watering cheeses and fresh veggie accents, Taylor’s delivers. Grab some burgers, garlic fries, beers, and malts and belly-up to one of the picnic tables that sit in the shadow of this timeless drive-in-style beauty. Details: 933 Main St., St. Helena, California,

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Obsession: Cameron Hughes--'Lots' of Good Wine

Cameron Hughes Wine Company rescues super premium wines that are not going to be bottled—sometimes, they creatively blend wines and others are a single variety. Each wine is given a “lot” number and sold to consumers at a terrific price—almost all are under 20 dollars. The wines come from many regions of the world including Australia, Spain, and Napa. We have tried a Malbec, a couple Cabs, and a Merlot—all of which were superlicious!

They also offer wine clubs where you can get the latest lot delivered and receive additional discounts on your purchases. Check out Cameron Hughes wine online at

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Adventure (26) Gastronomy (38) Obsession (39) Style (26)

About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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