Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Style: Wabisabi Green Pillows Provide Easy Comfort

Taking in the last art fair of summer, I once again walked amongst the endless rows of homemade soaps, lawn art, and kettle corn booths. The sweaty masses, redundant offerings, and oil-laden air don’t deter me from showing up. I continue to return for the same reason everyone does—endlessly searching for the best-in-show artisan. The honor this visit was delivered to artist Jolee Pink’s Wabisabi Green—a line of throw pillows that brilliantly combine the fashionable, the affordable, and the eco-friendly.

Wabisabi, the Japanese idea of finding natural beauty in all things including the imperfect and incomplete, is the inspiration behind each design. Her three collections, Shore, Zen, and Leaf, showcase the Wabisabi concept beautifully. Pink’s pillows display a quiet perspective, exhibiting simple, natural patterns. Each piece is hand-printed on organic cotton using rich and deep, non-toxic inks. Designs include such favorites as papyrus, sea fan, and cherry blossom. For only $45 per cover (and an additional $20-$25 for organic kapok fiber or ecofiber inserts), these little beauties can easily transform any room in your home. Like discovering the finest artisan at a summer fair, Wabisabi Green pillows can transform the same ol’, same ol’ into a thing of beauty. Details: www.wabisabigreen.com

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Gastronomy: Top Chef’s Top Banana (Fritter)

The MCMs have been a long-time fan of Bravo’s Top Chef. Although this season took off with a slower-than-usual start, Ed Cotton’s banana fritter creation finally made us excited to try a Season 7 recipe at home. The perfect blend of sweet and spicy, this Asian-inspired delicacy is as easy to impress your guests as it is to make. Serve it with a dollop of coconut ice cream or simply dusted with some powdered sugar for the perfect ending to an evening with family or friends.

Ed Cotton’s Banana Fritters

1 c flour
1 T sesame seeds
½ t baking powder
1 ½ T sugar
½ t salt
½ T honey
1 egg
1 c beer
Chili paste or sauce
Sugar/cinnamon blend (2 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon; just enough to dust fritters)
Powdered sugar
4 c vegetable oil

In mixing bowl, hand mix the first 5 dry ingredients. Once blended, add honey, egg, and beer; mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix batter; set aside.

In a 2 quart sauce pan, add vegetable oil and begin to heat over high heat. While oil is heating, peel bananas and cut into 1 ½ - 2 inch rounds. Brush each round with a thin-layer of chili paste. (Plan on serving 2-3 fritters per person.)

Once oil is heated to 350 degrees, dip chili-covered banana rounds, one at a time, into batter and drop gently into oil; repeat. After 1 - 2 minutes or until golden brown, remove each banana fritter from oil using a slotted spoon. Drain on a paper towel-covered plate to remove excess oil.

While fritters are still warm, roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, dust with powdered sugar, and serve immediately. The lightly crisp outside married to the tender, heat-kissed inside is a taste sensation truly worthy of top chef.

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Adventure Chicago: The Vintage Bazaar, Cool Vintage Finds Despite the Heat

The Vintage Bazaar is a Chicago-based modern, urban flea market produced by two local designers, Katherine Raz and Libby Alexander. Most of the vendors are local vintage boutique owners and collectors from all around the region.There is a little something for everyone—vintage clothing, art, jewelry, glassware, and countless other oddities.

It only happens twice a year—summer and winter. The summer edition of the Vintage Bazaar is during the month of August—a time we refer to as the dog days. It also takes place at the old Congress Theater on Milwaukee Avenue without the aid of air conditioning. Let me be the first to tell you, it’s hot in there. Blistering would be more accurate; my skin was melting like the Wicked Witch of the West. The funny thing was, I didn’t mind. And neither did the hundreds of sweaty, happy-go-lucky devotees combing through booths of one-of-a-kind, funky finds at remarkable prices.

Don’t let me worry you too much about the heat because after all, there is beer—ice-cold beer. For the kiddies, there is pie being sold by Hoosier Mama Pie Company. What could better than cheap, eclectic finds, ice cold beer, and homemade pie? A hipster D.J. spinning really great tunes while you peruse the vendors, you say? Well, there is one of those, too.

Most items are ticketed at extremely reasonable prices, but if you have your eye on something that is a little more than you may want to spend, vendors are also willing to negotiate prices. Admission to the Bazaar is free. Details and updates for where and when it will be popping up next are available at www.thevintagebazaar.com.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adventure Philadelphia: Villa Di Roma, Kickin' It Ol' Style

In recent years, Philly has grown up—streets bustling with cozy cafés, funky shops, gastro pubs, and galleries. Since I haven't lived in the vicinity for a few years, it was fun to soak in the next-generation haunts. These new businesses are sprinkled throughout many-a-neighborhood, but it's important to note that Philly's somewhat gritty charm still lurks around every corner.

South Philly's Italian Market is unsurpassed for rewinding the present and Villa Di Roma remains the best restaurant to showcase Philadelphia, old school Italian-style. From the crass yet lovable waitresses to the would-be Wiseguys sharing an order of "Meatballs and Gravy," the Villa Di Roma offers a wide assortment of American Italian classics, deep glasses of house wine, and a changeable menu boards posted on the wall.

Family-owned and operated, the extended family takes part in each piece of the business, including bartending, waiting tables, and most importantly, the kitchen. The fresh meats and veggies that are featured in their dishes are purchased from the local market, seven days a week. Whether you’re in the mood for fettuccini ricotta, eggplant parm, or a homemade pasta, make sure to order Uncle Sammy De Luca's famous meatballs. These meatballs are simply THE BEST MEATBALLS we have ever tasted. Pan-fried lovingly each morning, these little balls of goodness hold in their flavor and natural juices, smooth and succulantly tender. Just like their meatball recipe, the Villa Di Roma's offerings, patrons, and staff stand as true mid-century beacons, untouched, unhindered, and uncomplicated by time. Details: (215) 592-1295, 936 S 9th St., Philadelphia, PA

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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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