Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

Foodie Friday: Penelope

It’s cold out. The streets are covered in slush. You’ve had a long day at work. Heck, you’ve had a long week at work. You want need to exhale, relax, embrace the weekend. Well, happy Friday! If you’re life has taken on this black-and-white-movie-sad-scene lately, then I suggest stepping into the warm embrace of Penelope.

I found Penelope on such a dreary night. Chris’s sister, Carrie, was visiting and despite the chilly December night and the slush on the streets in the City that just never goes away, we were out exploring some wonderful Christmas Markets. But now we were cold, wet-footed, and hungry. Thankfully my boyfriend is at times a huge nerd and pulled his trusty Zagat out of his coat pocket. Yes, he keeps a Zagat in his nice coat pocket. Boy loves his guidebooks.

We wanted a cozy place to accommodate our many needs. I’m a pescatarian. Carrie is a vegan. Etc. Flipping through the Zagat, Penelope caught my eye. It’s described as a cozy New England-style restaurant with many vegetarian and vegan options. Perfect.

Penelope did not disappoint. The restaurant is adorable and reminiscent of a New England beach town. The walls are painted a pale blue, and there is even a white picket fence lining the waiting room. The sitting area is full of hardwood benches, chalk boards listing the daily specials, and a low-light that warms the room. Cozy is the perfect word to describe the place.

We started with the Joel, Abundio, & Patricio’s Guacamole. It was a huge serving size. Though I’m partial to my own guacamole (a recipe I’ll share later), it was still very good, and I appreciated the novelty of leaving the pits in the bowl. It came with delicious chips to dip with that were very appreciated.

For dinner, I ordered a salad called When Veggie Met Sally. It is described on the menu as chopped greens with red onion, grilled veggie burger, and green apple tossed with goat cheese in a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette. It was served with wonderful fruit filled bread – I believe cranberry and pecans. The salad was so good. I’m often hesitant about mixing hot and cold together in a salad, but this just worked. I am also pretty picking about my veggie burgers and this one was an excellent, clearly homemade one. I gobbled up my salad and got a warm belly feeling that salads often cannot provide.

So, Penelope is awesome. The saddest thing about my experience there was that I didn’t leave room for one of their many homemade desserts. Everyone else enjoyed their meals, expect Chris who was disappointed in his Spinach Pie. I would recommend skipping the entrees here and sticking with the apps, salads, and sandwiches. There are more than enough options to choose from on the menu. If you go, please let me know how their milk and cookies taste. They looked so good.

The Cheesiest

Tonight I am hosting book club. It’s actually a book, wine, and supper club. We tend to focus on the book by reading it before the meeting and spend most of our time focusing on the wine and supper at the actual meeting. This is just fine with me.

I have prepared for my book club, by reading this excellent post on how to host a book club after work. I will be taking many of these steps, in addition to cleaning my apartment in a frenzy and closing my eyes and willing my apartment to grow in size to accommodate all my guests.

Every month we have a dinner theme that matches the book. Since this month we read The Art of Racing in the Rain (my choice and I really recommend it), and no one wanted to eat dog food besides Hadley, we went with bite-sized food as the theme.  Everyone brings a dish that goes along with the theme and a bottle of wine. Sometimes people bring the book, too.

For tonight’s meeting, I am making mini-grilled cheese sandwiches. Basically, I am making three different versions of grilled cheese and then slicing the sandwiches in fours or more so that they are miniature. I didn’t want to just make plain grilled cheese (even though I love it, I think it’s fun to experiment with book club dishes), so I have been researching ways to mix up a classic. Here’s what I’m making:

Traditional Grilled Cheese: We all know how to do this one. Whole wheat bread, cheddar cheese, and a nice slice of tomato all grilled together to yummy perfection.

Green Apple Grilled Cheese: Cheddar and green apple? Good. Cheddar and green apple grilled together on whole wheat bread? Even better. I’ll be slicing green apples, layering them on top of the cheddar, then sprinkling with cinnamon and toasting it all up.

Stinky Grilled Cheese: Havarti cheese, slices of red onion, and garlic powder toasted to perfection. Guests may need to brush their teeth after this one.

How do you enjoy your grilled cheese?