Archives for November 2013

Restaurant Review: Nomad Roman Pizza

After Little B was born, everyone told us that the newborn stage was the best time to take a child to a restaurant. This is why most of our Saturday outings now revolve around lunch or brunch. For now, Little B will generally sleep for at least an hour or two after she has been fed and settled in her car seat/stroller, which gives us plenty of time to enjoy a meal and a walk around the city.

We stick to casual places (B has been to Sabrina’s so many times that she already has a regular table) and try to go when it’s not too crowded (i.e. early in the day), just in case B decides to have a meltdown. When it was warmer, we sought out places with outdoor seating; it’s just a lot easier when you don’t have to steer a bulky car seat/stroller combination through narrow restaurant aisles.

This past Saturday was a bit too cold for dining al fresco, so we decided to check out Nomad Roman Pizza in Midtown Village. I have been on the hunt for a pizza like those that I fell in love with on my first trip to Rome nine years ago, so I was hoping that this much closer to home location would fit the bill.

Nomad Roman is the second Philadelphia restaurant from the team behind the Nomad Pizza truck. Its focus on hand rolled, thin-crust style pizza sets it apart from other restaurants in the a neighborhood that specialize in the thicker Neopolitan style.

The menu consists of twelve kinds of pizza that run the gamut from traditional (such as the Margherita to fancy (like the Truffle Pecorino). Each one is made to order in a copper faced, wood-fired brick oven, using ingredients from local farms.

Our server noted that each pizza generally serves one person, but that one could be sufficient for both of us if we also opted to order a salad. Since the salads sounded pretty basic (house, Caesar, arugula, etc.) we decided each order a pizza so that we could sample both the red and white varieties.

In terms of style, Nomad hits the nail on the head. The crust was thin and crispy and the center of the dough was paper thin. Somehow though, it managed to stand up to the ample amount of toppings that went all the way to the edge of the crust. The red sauce on my arugula pizza struck the perfect balance between sweet and acidic. Chester’s Truffle Pecorino pizza was quite rich, due in part of the perfectly poached egg that oozed over the entire pie.

nomad roman pizza

The only thing that was a bit different was that the server sliced the pies as they were delivered to the table, whereas pizzerias in Rome serve pies unsliced and they are eaten with a knife and fork. In this case, though, I was happy to be able to eat with one hand, as Little B woke up from her nap and I ended up holding her in my other arm throughout lunch.

b pizza

Pizzas ranges in price from $11 to $19. This is a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the area (such as Barbuzzo and Zavino) that have pizza on the menu, but the pies are a bit larger and the ingredients, although very simple for the most part, are of the highest quality. Homemade dark chocolate from Nomad’s Hopewell, NJ location was a welcome surprise at the end of the meal.

Although nothing can replace the experience of enjoying pizza in Rome itself, Nomad’s pies come pretty close to replicating the flavors of one of my favorite cities. I’m glad to have it close by, because it might be awhile before I make it to Italy again!

2013 Thanksgiving Menu

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It’s hard to believe that we are just one week away from Thanksgiving (Although, if you have driven around South Philly lately, you’ll see that people have jumped the gun as usual and have already put out their Christmas inflatables. I hate those things.)!

I always feel like there is a lot of pressure and stress that comes with being in charge of one of the most important meals of the year. Which is why I have never volunteered to host a Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, my mom does most of the cooking and I pitch in to the best of my ability in helping to plan the menu and prepare the side dishes and desserts.

A couple of weeks ago, we sat down and came up with the following menu for this year:

Appetizers

Pumpkin dip and Onion dip with veggies

Cornbread bites

Dinner

Turkey (obviously)

Sausage stuffing (we make this up as we go along every year, but this recipe provides a good starting point)

Butternut Squash with Sage

Green Beans with Vinagrette

Regular and Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider

Dessert

Apple Crisp

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Cream Cheese Pound Cake 

If you haven’t started planning yet, time is ticking! This is a great time of year to go through the cookbooks collecting dust on your shelves, revisit ideas you have bookmarked or pinned and to draw on traditional family recipes.

Of course, you will find no shortage of inspiration on the interwebs. As you can see from clicking around on our menu, much of it comes from Martha Stewart.  We were looking for simple recipes that required just a few ingredients each crazy and that had at least some elements that could be prepared a couple of days in advance. Martha just so happened to have a bunch of recipes that fit the bill, but we spent time browsing Cooking Light, Real Simple, the Food Network and countless blogs. One of my favorite resources comes from a blog that I recently discovered called The Bitten Word. Each year, it features an index of all of the Thanksgiving recipes from the top food magazines. This year’s installment is the biggest yet, with 304 recipes from 11 different publications.

What will be on your Thanksgiving table this year?

Life, Lately

I have plenty of ideas for things to write about, but finding the time and energy to actually put real posts together is a bit challenging at the moment.

I have, however, been taking a lot of photos. So, here is a glimpse of what I have been up to lately, according to my Instagram feed (spoiler alert: there’s a lot of Little B ahead):

It’s finally starting to feel like fall (and, on some days, winter) in Philly. It’s the perfect time of year to people watch in Rittenhouse Square park with a cup of coffee (hooray for the return of the Starbucks red cup!).

red cup

Since Little B can’t fight with me yet, I take advantage of every opportunity I can to dress her in silly clothes. Apparently, the makers of baby clothes also recognize that this is one of the highlights of parenthood, too, because about a large percentage of outfits have animal ears.

 Polar bear

Lately, Little B wants me to hold her all. the. time. Lucky for her, though, cuddling a baby is pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in life. Plus, I am happy to get in all of the snuggles that I can, since my maternity leave ends in just under two weeks (major sadness).

needy

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend. 31. Yikes. Little B got dressed up for the occasion.

birthday baby

And, Chester spoiled me as always, with presents and flowers.

 birthday flowers

My mom babysat so that Chester and I could go out on our first date since Little B’s arrival. It felt just like the good old days, except we were home and settled on the couch catching up on shows by 5 p.m. Our first stop was brunch at Garces Trading Company. The restaurant offers a three-course brunch menu for $28, which includes dessert (Brunch should always include dessert, if you ask me. The pumpkin spice macaron was particularly amazing.

 Macarons

After stuffing ourselves silly, we went to see Once at the Academy of Music. Although the show’s Philadelphia run has concluded, if you have a chance to see the show elsewhere, I highly recommend it. The movie translated very well to the stage and, of course, the music is wonderful.

 ONCE

So, what have you been up to?

Little B: Two Months

2_Month-2

We celebrated Little B’s two month birthday last Wednesday! Sometimes, I feel like she was just born yesterday and other times, I feel like she has been around forever.

I am relieved to have made it past the very early newborn stage, in which we had no idea what we were doing and we felt like we were just trying to survive from one day to the next. Although there are still some stressful moments from time to time, we are really starting to have a great time together as a family.

At two months, Little B:

Is growing like a weed! At her two month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 11.1 pounds and measured 22.3 inches long. She has also left her newborn clothes and diapers behind. The sadness that I felt as I packed them away was tempered by the fact that she has a ton of adorable clothing in larger sizes, thanks to our generous family and friends. During the early days, she mostly wore footed pajamas since we weren’t going out too much. They were easy, but got a bit boring. Now, I spend more time than I probably should sorting through her collection of onesies, pants and cardigans to decide what she will be wearing each day. She has made it known that she doesn’t like shirts being put over her head or wearing hats, but other than that, she doesn’t seem to mind when I treat her like a little doll.

Lauren and B squared

Looking particularly fashionable in jeans, boots and layered onesies for a visit with Auntie Bridget

Loves to be on the move. I attribute this to the fact that I didn’t stop moving for most of my pregnancy. After hanging out at home for most of her first month, she has now logged quite a few miles in her car seat/stroller. We fill our days by taking walks, going out for brunch, hanging out with my mom and aunt and meeting up with other mom/baby friends. She usually sleeps the entire time while we are out and about (I’m enjoying this phase while it lasts). When we are at home, she likes to be carried around the house, preferably looking over our shoulders so that she can see everything that’s going on. When we set her down, it’s pretty much impossible for her to keep her arms and legs still, which makes diaper changes a bit of a battle.

continental brunch

First family outing at five weeks old, brunch at the Continental in Old City, where Chester and I had our first date

Is very expressive. I think her Auntie Bridget put it best when she said that Little B’s natural facial expression is “sweet and inquisitive.” You can really tell that she is taking everyone and everything around her in. I previously mentioned that she is a champion pouter, but she flashed her first real grin around six weeks and hasn’t stopped showing it since. Her other favorite expressions include furrowing her brow, widening her eyes and blowing bubbles with her excessive drool. I’ve read conflicting reports that the latter is a sign of teething and considering that I have been able to see the outline of her bottom front teeth since she was born, I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be making their appearance soon.

Along the same lines, she has become pretty noisy. She makes weird little grunts in her sleep and sweet little coos (that make her sound like a Teletubby) when she is awake. We love talking to her and hearing her talk back!

little smile

Just a little smile in the morning

Has crazy hair! Whenever people meet her or I post a picture of her on Facebook, that is her most commented on feature. She has a good bit of it, especially at the back where it is starting to look kind of like a mullet. No matter how much we try to brush it down, she has these little points that stick up around her head like the Statue of Liberty’s crown. I love it, and I’m going to be sad when it stops behaving like that.

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Continues to amaze us with her physical strength. She has excellent head and neck control and and quite a grip (which can be particularly painful for me if I forget to put my hair in a ponytail). She is just starting to actively grab for her toys, so maybe I need to start hiding the breakables around the house sooner than I thought.

holding up head

She can also track objects with her eyes, particularly if they are brightly colored and/or make noise. This month, she has been spending more time in her sea-themed Baby Einstein activity gym, and is particularly fond of the blue stuffed octopus and the light/music box.

octopus

Now observes an evening “witching hour” (or two). During this time, she cries for no apparent reason at all and fights her clear desire to sleep. Unfortunately, no amount of rocking, shushing or pacifier sucking can soothe her. It’s so much fun. Fortunately, she usually settles down after her last feeding and then sleeps between 7 and 8 hours after that.

In spite of these challenging moments, we just can’t get enough of our little girl. We are pretty excited about the next couple of months, as we get ready for her first holiday season (even though she still won’t be “with it” enough to know what is going on)!