The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Bread and pizza, part of an unbalanced diet

8 PM. Sitting at my table. Chomping down sweet, creamy, dairy-gasmic spoonfuls of flan flavored Palapa Azul ice cream. And then I hear a soft thud.



Lotus (Jo Jo's feline baby) suddenly appears to the right side of my table, either out of thin air or due to self-propellation through the small opening in my door—which one, I'm not sure. In the span of a split second my table goes from being cat-less to being cat-full.

It's not just the ice cream; Lotus will eat tissues if they're not carefully hidden. While I may have been uneasy with the idea of picking up Lotus (or any cat) a month ago, I'm now more used to looping my arm under her fluffy belly, feeling her tiny muscles squirm because she is probably not fond of being tossed out of a room with glorious ice cream tissues, and letting her hop out of my grasp in disgruntled defeat.

And then the cycle repeats...about once every day.

Cats are funneh.

I cook? Not really.

My trip back home to Jersey last weekend was rewarded with a mucus-laden cough and abdominal pain. Jersey luvs me!

According to my mum, driving uses abdominal muscles that otherwise lay stagnant and flabby as I spend the bulk of my NYC existence sitting and...shifting my butt between different sitting positions. She just got a new spiffy Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS Navigator, which is one of those handy devices that once you have makes you wonder how you ever felt like life was fulfilling and worthwhile without it. (Seriously, I would think that in the near future every car will have GPS built in, like door locks and glass windows, once such novel ideas that are standard in most cars, if they're legal. GPS knows everything. Everything..) We excitedly tested it on the wild roads of North Jersey, going point two miles and taking the left ramp whenever instructed by the computerized British female voice (British or Australian sounds nicer than American to us).

Apparently all that driving I did (which was actually very little, as GPS knows the fastest route to anywhere, even distant planets) disrupted the sleepy state of my abdominal muscles. Combined with the mucusy cough I developed in my dry, not well heated home, every time my body attempts to release a glob of bacteria-laden phlegm, a somehow dull and sharp pain erupts from my belly. My coughing isn't powerful enough to actually release the phlegm from its respiratory prison, meaning that the lovely glob just slithers back down as I put pressure on my abdomen as a post-cough remedy so that it feels less like someone just hurled a baby hippopotamus at my stomach.

Ah, it's not that bad. I'm just saying that New Jersey hates me.

But who cares. IT GREW!

dough, it's aliiive!

..."It" being my yeasted bread dough, not a nonexistent tumor or my equally nonexistent self-esteem. This weekend I went home partially because I wanted to bake bread and our kitchen is well equipped, despite that not much cooking goes on in it. I found a baguette recipe from a book I just impulsively purchased, Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie, and decided I could probably manage the simple combination of flour, salt, water and yeast. But of course, it's not that simple. If it were, we'd all be making delicious, chewy, thickly crusted breads in our home kitchens, which just ain't happening.

baked innards
Bread! Innards! Duh!

Instead, my bread came out...mediocre. The innards weren't that chewy nor were they filled with holes and the thin crust provided no crispy, shattering awesomeness. Of course, I wouldn't expect anything very baguette-like to come from my first attempt at making bread (well, my first attempt that actually worked) especially since I could tell after I first mixed the flour and water that my dough was probably too dry (most likely because I didn't measure very well after halving the recipe) and I don't really know how to knead bread, but the directions probably could've been more specific. Or have a photo with the caption, "YOUR DOUGH SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS. IF IT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS, YOU WILL FAIL." I need explicit instructions written in caps.

But I didn't buy the book for the recipes—I just wanted the photos of Parisian boulangeries and patisseries. Which there are plenty of.


A mano...A Mano...A. Mano? ovens
A Mano

Earlier that day my mum and I ate at A Mano, a new pizzeria in Ridgewood. I can't recall what used to be in that location, but judging from the high, two-story ceiling of the restaurant, I'd assume...a business that needed a buttload of space. A car dealership? The red and white walls are lined with large artfully taken black and white photos of ...well, I mainly recall is the series of photos where someone is shaping pizza dough, but I know there are other ones. Lesser ones. Sans dough.

sampler appetizer thing

My mum and I started with the chef's assortment appetizer, a platter of various spreadable things (except for the olives) made of peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetable matter I can't remember, and puffy, slightly charred strips of what I assumed was un-topped pizza bread. Our waitress told us what was in all the spreads, but I couldn't remember them all because my cerebrum seems to only have space for about five ingredients before it forgets the end of the list and replaces it with the new information. (By the way, I will never be a waitress). I remember the tuna and artichoke spread for being the only non-vegetarian friendly spread and that one of the other ones had pine nuts in it. Overall it was a good appetizer for two people. Not too filling or deathly.

regina margherita

If my mum had her way, she wouldn't have ordered pizza. Because she is crazy and thinks little of this foodstuff loved by about a gazillion people around the world, and maybe some aliens outside of our universe. Thankfully, I—the loving daughter—was there to shove mozzerella and tomato sauce topped flatbread into her belly. I picked my favorite, regina margherita, topped with blops of bufala mozzarella, plum tomatoes, tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and basil leaves. (Actually my favorite pizza would probably just have tomatoes and no tomato sauce, but this was close enough.)

upskirt action

I don't think it blew me away as much as Tommy, but I can't think of anything wrong with it. The crust was very thin, slighty chewy, lightly charred, and not too soggy, although a little floppy. There was just the right amount of toppings to proved a good balance between "crust" and "stuff on the crust", in my opinion. (It's the same balance I like to see in sammiches.) Whatever that means. I'm very far from being any kind of pizza expert. (But to comment on Sandra's comment, when I was in Rome—granted, not Naples—all the pizza I ate came unsliced. Same in Paris. Not that Paris is exactly pizza-city.)

I think it'd be more fun if I could go with a bunch of people so that we could taste four pies at once. Right? I am right. Unfortunately, I don't know many people back home. If you live in NYC, Ridgewood is an easy train or bus ride away, although it'll take you about an hour to get there. And when you do get there, there isn't much else to do besides eat. Not that that should bother you too much. ;)

When the waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, my mum started to say no...until I interjected with, "HELL NO, WE'RE GETTING DESSERT." Except that's not what I said so much as thought. (Trust me, much screaming goes on in my wee little brain that never verbally shows itself. People wonder when I'll crack and explode in expletive-filled rage. I dunno man, I just don't know. Let's not think about it.) Whatever I said, it resulted in the waitress bringing us the dessert menu and my mum and I getting our favorite respective Italian sweetstuffs.


My mum has been obsessed with tiramisu for as long as I can recall. A decade, let's say. Although I don't dislike tiramisu, I can't imagine being obsessed with it to the point that I'd have to order it every time I got the chance. However, my mum doesn't understand why anyone would like chocolate chip cookies. Poor misguided soul that she is. It's kind of funny how we're obsessed with different things so that each other's stash of guilty pleasures is never at risk of being raided by the other female in the household.

Ah, so the tiramisu...I tried a bite and thought it was good, but I don't know how to judge tiramisu. Besides, I was concentrating on my gelato.


I would say that I really liked this gelato, but my tastebuds were distracted by the freakishly small portion that was dwarfed by the medium-sized cup. I'm used to gelato coming in the form of a dairy-laden mountain, not in three walnut-sized blobs. The size of the serving possibly made it the most expensive gelato I've ever eaten, which makes Otto look very appealing. Out of the flavors I chose—zuppa inglese, coconut, and stracciatella—I liked zuppa inglese the most. I can't really recommend ordering the gelato though since the small portion isn't worth the $5 price tag. Also, I don't think I could accurately judge it based on the bite-sized portions of each flavor.

Overall, I'd go back to A Mano for pizza action. But no gelato. Unless they serve it in generous slabs. The service is very attentive (I forgot how many times our waitress asked us if everything was going well) and Roberto, the pizza man himself, seemed to be asking every table (including us) what we thought of our pizza. I overheard this conversation he had with another table:

Mother: Are you the chef?
Roberto: Oh no, chef is too big of a word. I just make pizza!


As though my posts weren't random enough already...

grocery shopping
1000000 calories!

I decided to take a photo of my latest Whole Foods purchase so you can see how doomed I am when it comes to grocery shopping on my own. I started off thinking that I just want some bread and oranges, but then, oh look, a muffin! That would be good for tomorrow morning's snack. And hey, I don't need chips, but those blue corn sesame chips look tasty and I've never had them before. And I like sardines, but maybe I'll try a different canned fish...oo, salmon! What the hell am I going to use that for, I don't know, but into the basket it goes. Yogurt's good too right? Yes, that's going into the basket too, even though I don't even feel like eating yogurt right now. And god knows I don't need ice cream in sub-zero weather, but if it's good enough for Ed Levine, it's good enough to enter my digestive system as well. And I like flan.


Actually, I could kind of go for those chips right now.

I got a new lens!

Per Youngna's recommendation, I bought a new lens for my Rebel XT and got to test it out during today's "Techniques of Regional Cuisine" class (or, more simply, "cooking" class).

a lentil and okra stew thing curried cauliflower some yummy chewy bread DIG IN I forgot what this was plate o stuff

The course is based around flatbreads and stuff to accompany the flatbreads. (That's not exactly how it's described in the syllabus, but you know me; I aim low on the scale of eloquence.) This week we concentrated on India. God knows how "authentic" our food tasted, but it wasn't bad. Probably could've used more sodium.


A Mano
24 Franklin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Whole Foods
40 E 14th St


Jeanne / February 7, 2007 12:11 AM

I'm jealous of your new lens. Most of my friends have it, but because of my ridiculous textbooks this semester ($600 worth so far) I have not succumbed to the temptation...

I shop impulsively too...that's how I discovered that baked Doritos taste pretty much like regular. You know, if you ever need a Dorito.

Great. Now I want to go to Whole Foods...or as my old co-worker called it, "Whole Paycheck." (The macaroni & cheese in the deli is pretty yummy.)

Piperita / February 7, 2007 1:16 AM

Your baguette looks FANTASTIC: bread, especially baguette, is a very difficult task an you managed incredibly well for a first timer!!!

And I think you just have to move back to Paris and leave New Jersey for ever!;-D

a. / February 7, 2007 5:34 AM parents got a gps thing with their new suv last fall and seriously, i dunno how they managed without it all those dozens of driving years. my mom even turns it on when she's driving locally, to places she can get to blindfolded. then she gets some sort of sick rebellious satisfaction by purposely taking shortcuts and defying the gps. it's like her crazy way of saying "up yours, gps!" followed by scary evil laughter. oh god.

oooh, i had tiramisu too last week. yum.

Tina / February 7, 2007 6:38 AM

I just can't believe your mom actually doesn't like chocolate chip cookies! *gasp!* I don't think I'll be able to cope with life without them. I must have at least one cookie a day before I'll have a nervous breakdown. Or some chocolate will do. ^^

Edyta / February 7, 2007 8:37 AM

i just commented some minutes ago on flickr that i love your latest pics, and they look like they were taken with your new lens :D
i heart 50mm!!
oh god! that pizza killes me! i have to try it out!
poor Lotus, can't have ice cream ..

Brenda / February 7, 2007 9:38 AM

Even when your life is all mish-mashed, I still enjoy the reads you put out!

And-order your pizza sauceless if you want. My Eye-tal-yan friend does it all the time and no one ever bats an eye. And it's good--but me? I'm all about lovin' the sauce.

kathryn / February 7, 2007 9:48 AM

Yeah, the 50mm f1.8 is pretty awesome for a lens that cheap!

Although I found that its minimum focusing distance isn't that great for food shots in a restaurant.

Auntjone / February 7, 2007 9:50 AM

Damn you urbanites and your access to Whole Foods! I think the closest one is 3hrs away. I love food, but not enough to drive 3hrs one way to purchase it. To eat it, yes (like Gino's pizza, or anything at Pappasito's in TX, which is waaaay farther than 3hrs but totally worth the trip) but not just to shop.

As always, your pix are divine.

maria~ / February 7, 2007 10:25 AM

Mmm... lens looks good and wow! Flan ice cream? Sounds really yummy! Also, what were the gelato flavors? They don't look like they would taste well together. I'm guessing stracciatella, vanilla and mango?

tommy / February 7, 2007 12:20 PM

When i was in Rome, the pizza was sold by the slice. By length, IIRC. Or maybe that was Florence. Perhaps there's no right or wrong way, as suggested by "sandra".

I too, am no pizza expert. Nor am I a photographer. But how on earth do your pictures look soooo much better than mine!?!? :(

dani / February 7, 2007 12:30 PM

Great pics! I could only wish mine were half as delish looking on my site! Maybe you can offer some tips for us bad photographers out there!

Cat / February 7, 2007 1:08 PM

Don't worry, bread (especially french baguettes) take time to master. Going at bread by trying a french baguette first is like someone never singing going for a Puccini Aria, think Twinkle Twinkle, Think Pullman Loaf. I make A LOT of homemade bread. My Aunt is from San Fran. and I fell in love with bread there as a child. Oh and pink salmon in a can is great for pasta and/or salmon cakes. (Like crab cakes, only healthier and in my opinion tastier.) But I would suggest for speed, to sautee them with fresh pasta, basil, lemon, EVOO, capers, garlic, salt and pepper, and if you are feeling randy, a little white wine. YUM.

Kathy / February 7, 2007 1:13 PM

ay, so cool! you got the flan ice cream, I've been wanting to try that! :)you must let us know how it is. I would sure have loved to be Ed Levine, sitting there with tubs of ice cream, just tasting, sigh, what a job! speaking of pizza, my dad's coming to vist at the end of the month, and we're headed over to batali's and silverton's Mozza...can't wait for some real good pizza, or even bread. so deprived of good bread in LA!

The Home Cook / February 7, 2007 2:46 PM

I don't think I've ever met a cat who eats tissues. That's a new one. Dogs, sure, but never a cat.

I'm sorry your bread making was less than stellar. That's something I haven't felt courageous enough to conquer.

That is some tasty-looking pizza. When you have good ingredients it pays to keep things simple. And I love that you're taking a cooking class where you made Indian food - yum!

lashes457 / February 7, 2007 5:24 PM

aww, pets are fun. houses aren't the same to me without something furry running around.

there was a weird period of time where I didn't eat pizza, becuase I didn't really get the chance for a few months, and then I had it and I was like HOLY SHIT why haven't I eaten this in so long?!?!

Pizza is the food of the gods, for sure. Especially if you're a vegetarian like me who craves only bread, cheese, and chocolate.

roboppy / February 7, 2007 8:15 PM

Jeanne: Jebus, that's a lot of textbooks...or a lot of expensive ones. My books definitely didn't cost that much. Not that I'm saving money in any way by going to NYU. Eeuh.

I haven't had a Dorito in AGES! I think I'll be fine. :)

Sara: Thanks! I guess it's okay for a first time. Like a baby's first wobbly steps.

YES I should move back to Paris! After I learn french. Uh.

Adelyn: My mum was like, "Hey we know how to get home but let's use the GPS directions for FUN!"

We know how to have fun in NJ.

Tina: She's not that into cookies for whatever reason. :( Except shortbread. Which i like too...but...I also like chewy cookies. She's also obsessed with rugelach, which I don't care a helluva lot for (although I do like em).

Edyta: You need to find a good pizza!

And it's probably for the best that Lotus can't eat ice cream. Or a lot of things. She won't be as unhealthy as humans!

Brenda: Oh, I didn't think about ordering it without sauce. But I dunno if they'd make up for it with tomatoes. Maybe it would just look like flatbread with some cheese....(alright, I guess that's what pizza is anyway).

Kathryn: I've discovered that too. ERGH. I will just hold all the dishes a few feet away from me. :P

Auntjone: 3 hours?! That's how long it would take me to drive through NJ! Haha. Ah. Texas is too big. I feel like falling asleep after a 90 minute drive!

Maria: The gelato flavors were zuppa inglese, coconut, and stracciatella (bwahaha, you failed the "Did you read the whole entry" test!...that's okay). They went together well enough, or at least didn't clash horribly. I just needed MORE OF ALL THE FLAVORS.

Mary Sue: Oh my god, that article is awesome, thanks! After reading it I found about 20 mistakes I made. Or more. Woo!

Tommy: Maybe mine came in pie form because I was eating in restaurants most of the time? They didn't sell by the slice, hehe.

The prettiness of my photos come from the camera, the lens, and photoshop. Otherwise they probably wouldn't look good. :[

Dani: Like I told tommy, it's the camera/lens/Photoshop combination. And lots of time to burn on editing photos..(sigh) Not very helpful tips, eh?

Cat: I only just fell in love with bread a year or two ago. Dooh, I AM SO LATE. Oh well, gotta start somewhere. I should just start with pancakes; those are easy to make. :) As for the salmon, I was planning to eat it out of the jar, but your idea is better.

Kathy: The ice cream = YUMMY!

Oo, Ed loves that pizza to death. I await your review. :D

Toni: Ahhhhheeeuh I have no good reason for not having tried the no-knead bread yet, but it's been on my mind. Gnawing! I'll have to ask my mum if we even have a pot to bake it in. :[

The Home Cook: This cat likes to eat EVERYTHIIIING.

Now that I know I can make edible bread, I shall continue in my quest to make bread that is both edible and delicious.

Susannah: I've never grown up with pets, so I guess...I don't know what I'm missing out on. Baby bunnies are cute though! I WANT A BUNNEH.

I don't eat pizza that often. I think I just started...last year? I mean in NYC. During my sophomore year I barely ate any pizza, and certainly not for years before than while dieting. HOORAH.

Sukwoon: Here's my mommy!

redrhino / February 7, 2007 10:39 PM

I just impulsed purchased a pint of Häagen-Dazs
limited edition "Sticky Toffee Pudding".

[quote=Hagen Daz] A tribute to the popular English dessert, our rich vanilla ice cream is swirled with a sticky toffee sauce and morsels of moist, brown sugar cake.Sticky toffee pudding won our national flavor search in 2006.[/quote]

"HOLY COW!" the words of Apu from the Simpson

"Shiva H. Vishnu!"

That's some damn good solidified cow juice with sugary carb bits sMOOshed into it!


p.s. The picture of Lotus is gorgeous. I am using it as my new wallpaper.

Vanessa / February 8, 2007 10:56 AM

Best thing at Whole Foods, and worth a trip JUST to buy it: The fresh ground peanut butter made with HONEY ROASTED peanuts!!! Delish!

Tina / February 8, 2007 2:37 PM

I just saw the photo of your mom...she's adorable! And like you said, skinny. Actually, when I really look at that photo, she kinda looks like you. :)

roboppy / February 8, 2007 11:02 PM

redrhino: Ahhh, I haven't tried that flavor!...okay, puttin that on my list.

Dude, you should use FOOD as your wallpaper! But ok.

Sara: Cats and flan go together like butter and thumbtacks. DUUURRHH...uh...

Oo, I went to Puerto Vallarta! In 2003 during my Febuary vacation...during which it was snowing like crazy in NJ. I was kind of sad that I missed out on that. Got TOTALLY SUNBURNED.

Edyta: omg buns. [blink] I totally want a bunny.

Vanessa: American expats in paris would kill for that, maybe. People were always like "OMG I WANT PEANUT BUTTER" (okay, maybe not like that). If I really liked peanuit butter I'd just buy one of those peanut smooshing machines. ...I wonder how much they cost. Hm.

Tina: I look eerily like my mum's grandmother! My mum was chubbier when she was my age, but I dunno if she was as chubby as me. Chubbs. OH WELL, I AM AMERICAN AFTER ALL!

redrhino / February 9, 2007 1:26 AM

In response to your response to my comment, I do use FOOD as wallpaper. As a matter of fact, my last wallpaper was a painting of jelly donuts by Artist: Emily Eveleth @

In the guttural groanings of Homer Simpson...hmmmm,*drool,donuts

annie / February 10, 2007 4:23 PM

Did you use your canned salmon to make onogiri? Mix salmon with Kewpie mayonnaise, therebye making it luscious and wonderful. Follow and recipe for onogiri, or maybe you don't need one. Eat. Of course, I am in love with rice balls, so maybe this sounds better to me than it would to anyone else...BTW Lotus the cat is beautiful. As to Bunnies, you were in Paris when i had to find another home for my rabbit Coco, otherwise I would have offerd her to you.

roboppy / February 11, 2007 2:20 AM

redrhino: Whoa those are some....fat...donuts...

Rich: Hi tired!

Annie: Ooh, I haven't used it yet. And I don't have mayo...don't think I should buy it just to mix with the salmon. But that does sound good. Hm.

Oh no, I shouldn't have a pet. It would PROBABLY DIE ON ME. :|

redrhino / February 11, 2007 2:07 PM

[quote=Robyn] Oh no, I shouldn't have a pet. It would PROBABLY DIE ON ME.:l [/quote]

*chew...Better...*chew,chew...on you...*chew...than in...*chew,*swallow...YOU!

HAW! HAW! As Nelson Munch from the Simpson's would scoff.


roboppy / February 16, 2007 12:57 AM

Sukwoon: That book sounds awesome, thanks! It is now on my wishlist.

Garrett: Your comment made me laff because I don't think I've ever read, "That cute so so cute!" before. I hope that was the intention. :)

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