When my sister and brother-in-law first moved to Athens, OH a few years ago for my sister’s new job, they were less than thrilled about the dining options in town. But while the food options were somewhat limited and the number of non-chain restaurants were even more limited, they managed to find some really great gems in town ranging from an awesome hotdog dive to a great Middle Eastern restaurant. My favorite though, is Avalanche Pizza.
Avalanche sells bread at the farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summer that makes me want to cry it’s so good. As great as their bread is, it’s no surprise that their real focus, pizza, is no disappointment. The first time I visited, my brother-in-law pulled out their menu and we all gathered around to pick out a couple of pizzas. They were excited about the pesto chicken pizza, which they had had and really liked, but frankly it sounded a little weird to me because it had cashews. They really wanted to get it though, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of my hosts getting what they wanted, so we ordered the pesto chicken pizza and they let me pick another one. I have no memory of what the other one – the one I picked – was. My skepticism of the pesto chicken pizza vanished the second I took a bite. After that, all other pizzas paled in comparison.
I first made this apple butternut squash gratin for my sister’s baby shower last year and it was completely devoured. Not a crumb was left. I was a little sad because once I had had a taste of it, I was already dreaming about leftovers. I’ve been meaning to make it again every since, but it somehow slipped from my mind and then the next thing I knew, it was spring. When a good friend and his mother made the trip up to have dinner with us earlier this fall, this gratin instantly came to mind. It just seemed like the perfect dish. Warm and satisfying, while being perfectly seasonal with roasted butternut squash, sautéed apple, fresh rosemary, nutty gruyere, and a dash of cream, all topped with crunchy, garlicky breadcrumbs, this gratin is both deliciously sweet and savory. It is also guaranteed to make your house smell absolutely amazing.
The dish is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, pairing beautifully with a harvest salad of pear or apple, walnuts, and gorgonzola, but it would work equally well as a side to any fall meal. It would be an especially nice accompaniment to a Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you are looking for something that will work for both your vegetarian and meat-eating guests alike.
April was an unusually rough month for me. Some personal things came up that were pretty hard to deal with, followed closely by the bombings at the Boston marathon, and then a shootout and a manhunt for the bombing suspect in my normally very quiet neighborhood. It was all a lot to take in and I had been desperate to get out of town for a little bit and get some much needed R&R.
The opportunity finally came when my wonderful aunt and uncle offered up their beautiful house on the pond while they were visiting my cousin in Texas. Joseph and I spent the weekend taking it easy, sipping Champagne and eating cheese, reading, napping, and watching the birds on the pond.
A favorite part of the weekend was when the lighting hit the house just right and suddenly became an amateur photographer’s dream come true. I got so lost in the excitement of taking photos that nothing else mattered. All in all, it was a perfect weekend where the toughest decision faced was whether to sip on beer or wine while sitting on the porch with my feet up.
The other big highlight of the weekend was without a doubt this salad. Joseph and I both concluded that it was the most amazing salad that we had ever had. With the creamy avocado, luscious broiled pineapple, peppery watercress, and a hint of cumin in the tangy dressing, this salad has it all. While each component brings so much to the recipe, the sweet and tangy pineapple is particularly outstanding.
Last week I shared my favorite vegetarian game day food, the roasted vegetable enchiladas. It’s packed with smokey, roasted veggies and is utterly delicious. But if you’re looking for something a little on the guilty pleasure side, well, you’ve come to the right place.
I was vegetarian for a while, so I don’t think I had ever had buffalo chicken wings until after I had graduated from college. My first job was in the heart of Georgetown, and I was young and had so few responsibilities. My friends and I used to to trek over to McFaddins for beer after work and it was there that I had my first wing. Someone else had ordered them and I took one red, sticky wing with some skepticism, and then instantly fell in love. I began to crave their super spicy wings. I was crushed when our new hangout spot slowly gravitated back towards Georgetown, to Mr. Smith’s. Sure, it was more convenient and more laid back, but they just didn’t have the wings!