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Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYC: Great Place, Missing 2 Great Restaurants

There are many things NYC lacks, but the two I find most significant are Chick-fil-A and Heiwa's.

Yes, I have heard there is a Chick-fil-A in the NYU dorms, but I think it's an urban myth and even if it's not, I don't feel like bribing a student.  I made it three days before taking control of my mother's car and heading to Truett Cathy's phenomenal establishment while I was home for the holidays.  Please note, I did not take my Daddy's car because he recently signed a lease on a new Z4 convertible.  While this on its own is neither new nor significant, the fact that he got this automobile in black with red interior is.  He claims he wound up with that color palette because it was the only one available in a stick shift.  I maintain he's going through a midlife crisis.  What's next?  Leaving my Mom for a cocktail waitress à la Tiger Woods?  Or worse - heaven forbid he loses the 'stache!  So anyhoo, I commandeered my Mom's more suitable vehicle and headed to the drive thru for the truest breakfast of champions there ever was: the chicken biscuit.  Now, I know that "drive thru" connotes fast food, but it is much, much more.  A perfectly seasoned piece of fried chicken sandwiched between a buttery biscuit is, hands down, the best way to start the day.  I happen to know there is a Chick-fil-A in the dirty Jerz and a couple in Maryland.  I know this because Dave and I stopped there on the way to and from a family trip to DC and consumed more food than I previously thought humanly possible.

On the other side of the spectrum, Heiwa's is speedy hibachi.  There are several restaurants in GA that do this (Heiwa's being my fave), but I have yet to find one in the Northeast.  It's like one of those cook-in-front-of-you places, but they cook off to the side, resulting in the same amazing food for a fraction of the price.  All I should really have to say about this place is "shrimp sauce".  I'm not sure what's in it, but I'm most certain it's bad for you, which is probably why I love it so much.  Don't let the name fool you, you don't need shrimp to enjoy this sauce.  It tastes good when smothering every item on the plate.  

So there you have it NYC.  I have made your mission perfectly clear.  I don't care how you do it, but get these restaurants up here PRONTO.  Thanks.

Merry Movies

To me, Christmas break is primarily about sitting around in pjs and going through my list of must-see movies.  While I was home I had to take advantage of the low movie ticket prices ($7.50 compared to $12.50 in NYC).

First stop: Sherlock Holmes with the rents for some good old family bonding.  The story was a tad slow to develop, but Guy Ritchie the former Mr. Madonna did a great job directing.  The blue/gray color scheme and slow-mo moments were perfectly timed and executed.  The film exhibited a good mix of humor and mystery and while there was a small romantic storyline, cheesiness was kept to a minimum and it didn't water down the plot.

The second movie I saw while home in the SAV was Up In The Air.  Great movie.  Last year, Dave and I began a tradition to jam in all Oscar noms pre-awards.  This one was definitely on the list this year due to recent buzz.  Unfortunately for Mr. Smiles, I had to see this one with Mark, Allison, Matt, and Jen as he did not make the trip to the South.  No worries, I still have to cross Precious and Brothers off my list before heading back to work.  The movie was incredibly realistic.  I will refrain from much further discussion as I do not want to give anything away, but I think it was very well done.  The film exposes insecurities we don't even know we have.  You won't leave happy.  You won't leave sad.  You leave going "Ok, there ya go."  Congrats to American Airlines and Hilton Hotels for the prominent and frequent product placement.  As someone in the advertising field, I recognize and respect that you either got incredibly lucky or sold your soul to achieve this.  Either way, well done.  On the advertising subject, I must say I love the HSBC ads that show the same picture and 3 different interpretations of value.  Like the one showing the back of a bald head where one picture says style, the other soldier, the third, survivor.  Genius.  It actually makes the walk to the plane more enjoyable since they're always in the jetway.  Can't wait to see the next one.

Back to movies.  While home, I also caught up on some movies from the comfort of my couch.  First up was Obsessed.  Somehow it was the only film my whole family could agree on from the On Demand menu.  Beyonce surprised me as being not bad, particularly during the fight scene when she yells "come here bitch" and drags a half-clothed Ali Larter through the house by her leg.  While home, I also used my Best Buy gift card to purchase The Hangover and Mystic River.  It had been a long time since I'd seen the latter flick and forgot how great it was.  If you haven't seen it, put it on your list now, it's worthy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Egg-celent Idea

I am not what you would call skilled with eggs...yet.  Sure, I can scramble with the best of 'em, but when it comes to more advanced techniques like poaching or flipping to the perfect over-easy without breaking the yolk, I tend to flounder a bit.  I had pretty much given up and decided I would stick to comfortably scrambling at home and heading to the diner next door for any other egg dish I may desire.  But then last night I had a dinner interesting enough to renew my inspiration for preparing those trickier egg meals. 

Let me backtrack.  I went to dinner at Bocca di Bacco last night with some co-workers.  I enjoyed the dinner, but must admit my favorite part was the warm and cozy atmosphere (exposed brick, rustic wooden tables, and likely-gay but oh-so-cute waiter walking around in a santa hat and super tight jeans) that felt perfect on a frigid NYC evening.  We orderd an antipasti meat platter and a cheese plate (usually my fave, but I've had better) for the table, and then I had a ceasar salad to start.  The salad was quite tasty, but hey, it's a ceasar salad, I'm sure I could find it elsewhere. 

What I would be hard-pressed to find would be a replication of my entrée.  The plate was lined with prosciutto, which was then topped with white asparagus and brown butter, and then - wait for it - a poached egg.  Never before have I seen such a combination and loved slicing open the egg and allowing it to mix with the brown butter to create a unique sauce for the dish. 

There are tons of wonderful Italian restaurants in New York City, and while this one was very good it didn't stand out overall.  However, that one dish was enough to inspire my imagination and renew my drive to properly execute multiple egg preparations.  Whoever happens to be the next dinner guest chez moi will be one eggs-tremely lucky person.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


My friend Big Brad has been campaigning for a shout-out on this blog for quite some time, but thankfully he understands this sort of thing must be organic.  I'm not gonna holla just for the hell of it; it has to make sense.  Well, the day has arrived.

Just before disappearing from Gchat, Big Brad mentioned having an "unreal" meal this weekend in LA (his current city of residence).  After reading his description of a Wowshi, I realized I had to find the menu for this Bella Pita place.  The website was not super informative, but I managed to learn the following:
  • Wowshi: a stuffed pita (filled with chicken/herbs or beef/cheese/onions, among other choices).  The pita is then folded over like a pie, baked, cut in half, and then you just pile in whatever you want.  Big Brad prefers the chick wowshi stuffed with yogurt sauce, hot sauce, tomatoes, red onion, cabbage, and peppercini.
  • Best part: it's only $5.25
  • The bonus: it's open til 2 AM
  • I wasn't quite sure this was as amazing as Bradley said it was...until I saw the picture

A big thanks to Big Brad for bringing this Cali find to my attention.  Though I have not tried it myself and, therefore, can not provide my official stamp of approval, it is definitely on my list next time I hit up the West Coast.
    As if that wasn't enough of a blog contribution, Brad sent me to this sorta food related site.  I like both bacon and beer, so I enjoyed it.  Big Brad, I am proud to say you've earned your blog shout-out.  Congrats.

    Oh and ladies, he's single.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    An Engaging Experience

    Many of you may know I am ridiculously close with some of my cousins.  My first cousin, Matt, also happens to be my very best friend in the world.  His brother, Greg, was the best man at my brother's wedding, and now it's his turn.  Just before Thanksgiving, Greg proposed to the amazing Susan Silbert future Mrs. Greenberg in an incredibly adorable manner (just ask if you want the full story).  An equally adorable engagement party was befitting such a fab couple.  Which brings us to Jackson Heights, Queens on Sunday, after the Blizzard of 2009 for an intimate gathering of friends and food.

    The spread:
    • Bunuellos - huge balls of sweet fried dough.  Like an oversided Puerto Rican version of my treasured Southern hush puppies.
    • Empanadas - beef, chicken, and cheese varieties
    • Churros - some of them were filled with dulce de leche.  A revelation.  Why are all churros not made this way?  I now think the people who make them the regular way are stupid.
    • A cheese plate.  4 types.  Served fancy-like with grapes and melba toast.  Booyakasha.
    • And now for my contributions:
      • Stuffed cremini mushrooms - some with sausage, some with spinach and cheese.  I can't take credit and must thank the phenomenal Stew Leonard for his help when the snow forced a change in menu.
      • Panzanella salad - this is a bread salad.  Yes I know, bread in a salad instead of lettuce - I must be crazy.  Maybe so, but not because I prepared this dish.  It's an Italian specialty, but I made it with Greek flavors (chopped kalmatta olives, bell pepper, tomato, feta).  Greek ingredients in a traditionally Italian dish?  I'm such a rebel.
      • Proscuitto-wrapped cornichons - cornichons are miniature, salty, French pickles.  Next time I'll add roasted bell pepper but it was still tasty, as evidenced by the empty serving dish.
      • Spicy shrimp and avocado on cucumber
    Sadly, I remembered to take pictures after all the food was gone, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Burgers on B

    After watching Invictus, we decided it was time to refuel with some burgers.  There are so many amazing burgers in the city, and I am set on determining which one is best.  I am happy to participate in all necessary research.  The latest burger joint to make it on my list, thanks to Jen's suggestion, was Black Iron Burger at 5th and Ave B.  My first thought was this: their monogram is BIB, and that's about as perfect as you can get for a restaurant.  Keep reading for the rest of my review:
    • A downside may be the location.  5th and B is pretty far over so the subway's not a great choice and I'm not happy about taking a cab to get a burger.  However, it's right across from Ace Bar and all their fun games (ie: skee ball).  This one's a wash.
    • The bun was not great (a tad stale), but the burger itself was good.  I got mine topped with horseradish cheddar and grilled onions.  I would have been happier if there were more onions, but the cheese was great.
    • Best part of dinner: the appetizer of fried pickled tomatoes.  This combines two of my favorite apps, fried pickles and fried tomatoes.  The resulting hybrid is incredibly tasty when dipped in the accompanying tangy sauce.
    • Overall, Black Iron Burger was tasty but doesn't hold a candle to burger stars like J.G. Melon or Shake Shack.  I'd be very happy to return if I happen to be in the area, but probably won't be making a special trip in the near future.

    Inside Invictus

    Dave and I managed to duck out of the rain on Sunday and meet Matt and Jen at the Kips Bay movie theater to see Invictus.  Definitely not bad, but not the Best Picture Oscar winner I was hoping for.  Thoughts below:
    • In typical Clint Eastwood fashion, this movie was looong.  They could have cut out a solid 45 minutes and nothing would have been lost.
    • Not much happens.  You're going into this movie knowing that South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup and Nelson Mandela is not assassinated.  Sorry to ruin the ending.  Because there's no major action, they should have capitalized on the areas open for development, like Mandela's family life or the changing dynamic of the security detail (who were my favorite characters).
    • Morgan Freeman did a great job; I was very impressed - he clearly did his homework.
    • Though not central to the plot or quality of the film, there was one very good looking rugby player on the screen.  It probably doesn't matter, but this blogger found him to be great eye candy.
    • Fun Fact #2: This former Abercrombie model mentioned above is actually the son of Clint Eastwood and his flight attendant mistress.  He can also be seen briefly in Eastwood's film Gran Torino (he was the white, quasi-thug, sorta-boyfriend of Sue, seen only for a moment before Eastwood's character shoos him away).
    • Overall, it was an enjoyable film, but not as great as the last 3 Eastwood films I've seen.  Check it out, but maybe wait for it to pop up on Netflix.
    • Fun Fact #2: Thanks to my Colombian-born boyfriend who only knows how to speak Latin, I know that the title of this movie is pronounced "inWictus".  Knew that studying a dead language would come in handy one day.

    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 12/7 Episode

    Yes, I know, it took me a full week to recap this episode, but it was a busy week and that's that.  Since I'm sure you've waited so long to see just what left me scratching my head after last week's episode, I'll jump right in...
    • Wolves?  I know they're driving from a country home, but it's Nassau County, NY; a pack of wolves does not seem like a plausible choice of animal road blocks.
    • Drama kids are now preppy, closeted skanks?  When did this happen?  In my day, they were just weird.
    • Jenny's into dealing drugs now?  Really?  Hopefully this will turn into me asking "Jenny's into taking drugs" in an episode or two.  It would probably be super hard to stay on top of the scheming and be Queen if you're high out of your mind...but really fun for me to watch.
    • Did that woman at the co-op meeting really think it was appropriate to provide the details of her husband's infidelity while she was still shaking Rufus' hand upon their first meeting?  Slow your roll and wait for the appetizers to arrive, lady.
    • What was up with the hats this episode?  Tripp and Maureen were sporting some crazy chapeaux.  I wasn't aware this getaway to Nassau county required Trip to hop in a time capsule and return to his days as a Newsie in the 1920s.
    • How many cabs did Serena think there would be in the middle of nowhere? 
    • Who else was hoping that when Serena pulled The Old Man and the Sea off the bookshelf it would open a secret passageway, not Nate's 3 year old pot stash?
    • "I'm Jackie and you're Marilyn": did the worlds of GG and Legally Blonde just collide?
    • Chuck's Mom...WTF?
    • And the biggest question of all...MARCH?!  Why are they making us wait that long for new episodes?!
    See if you contain your sadness for the next couple months because I'll be back in Springtime with more Unanswered Questions.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    The Scoop on Poop

    Getting pooped on by a bird is not - I repeat, NOT - good luck.  Much like rain on your wedding day (I now have Alanis Morrisette stuck in my head), the luck theory behind this unfortunate occurrence has been completely fabricated to make us feel better about the fact that we were just pelted by a load of feces from one of our avian friends.  How do I know?  Because it happened to me yesterday and to test my luck, I bought a lottery ticket.  Suffice it to say I am not a millionaire. 

    I was walking to Chipotle for lunch yesterday when I felt something strike my leg.  I worried that I was maybe hit by a rude New Yorker's cigarette and immediately looked down to survey the damage.  It was then that I saw a half liquid, half solid mass on my ankle.  A loogie from a nearby bum?  Nope.  Upon further inspection I realized it was, in fact, bird dookie. 

    I immediately abandoned the lunch trip and ran to the nearest Strawberry to purchase new legwear.  I then threw away the damaged tights and proceeded to sanitize in the office bathroom.  Physically, I walked away unscathed; mentally, I will never be the same.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Schoolhouse Rocks

    For Dave's birthday, he wanted to celebrate at "the best restaurant in Fairfield county": Schoolhouse Restaurant.  Now, I'm not fully familiar with the Connecticut area, but I'm no dummy and smart enough to know that a county encompasses multiple cities, making this a mighty bold statement.  Well Mr. Smiles, I am here to say that you were right...but don't get used to hearing that phrase.
    • I probably shouldn't have to explain this, but this small and adorable restaurant is a former schoolhouse, located in an unassuming area just over the Wilton train tracks.  
    • We started with what may just be the best soup I have ever eaten.  Jerusalem Artichoke Soup doesn't sound like anything special, but the creamy concoction tasted like Fall in a bowl, topped with toasted pine nuts.  I wish this soup would come out of my showerhead instead of water.
    • We also shared a cheese plate.  If you have ever gone to a nice restaurant with me, you may know that getting a cheese plate is my absolute favorite thing to do.  I love trying each cheese with the recommended pairing of quince paste, wine macerated cherries, honeycomb, or whatever other combo they come up with.  Our server was very knowledgeable and was able to tell us about each cheese as  well as provide a recommendation for the order in which we should try them.
    • For the entrées, Dave ordered a NY strip with potato purée and kale, and I ordered the duck with barley, golden beets, and beet leaves.  It was at this point, for the 3rd time over the course of the meal, I had to remind Dave it is inapporpriate to lick your plate in a nice restaurant.
    • For dessert, we had the honey panna cotta that was served with some sort of fig paste, goat cheese, shortbread, and fresh grape sorbet.  The waiter must have overheard us talking about Dave's birthday, so they presented the dessert with a candle - nice touch.
    • It wouldn't be a birthday celebration (who am I kidding; it wouldn't be dinner) without a bottle of wine.  The restaurant had a nice list with a good mix of medium to high priced glasses and bottles.
    • Don't be fooled by the sample menu on the website.  Yes, the menu is small, but it changes frequently to accomodate seasonally fresh ingredients.  They also support local Connecticut farmers, so everything served is not only delicious and seasonally relevant; it's home-grown.
    • Dinner is not the only thing they do well - the brunch menu looked yummy and apparently they have a $40, 4-course dinner on Thursdays that may actually get me to ::gasp:: go to CT during the week.
    If you're looking for a great, low-key fine dining restaurant in the Connecticut area, Schoolhouse is pretty money.

    The bday boy enjoying scotch and dessert

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    "If you're tired you take a napa; you don't move to Napa": Top Chef Semifinals

    I actually didn't want to watch last week's episode of Top Chef.  In fact, i allowed the show to sit in my DVR lineup for a full 24 hours before I decided to get it over with.  Why did I refuse to watch one of my all-time favorite shows?  I couldn't bear to see any of the top 4 contestants leave.  The judges seemed to be as torn about the decision as I was, as they were scrounging for complaints about each contestant.  In the end, it was Jennifer's turn to pack her knives, and I was a little sad.  Some of my thoughts from the episode are as follows: 
    • Eric Ripert's mentee was immensely talented and was the only lady left.  Now that she's out of the competition, will she allow a romance to blossom with Michael Voltaggio?  Their lovechild would probably have seasoned his own amniotic fluid.  That was probably a gross thing to say.  Sorry.
    • Kevin had motion sickness on the train during the Quickfire.  I kinda wish we got to see him blow chunks all over Padma's baby bump.
    • Michael needs to get over this whole "Kevin's food is simple and, therefore, not as good as mine" thing.  It's tasty.  Deal with it.  I think he's just jealous there's no facebook group for his soulpatch and Kevin is the only one with facial hair facebook love.
    • Kevin continues to surprise me.  First we find out this carnivore gives up meat for lent; now we learn his restaurant serves all sustainable protein.  Did I mention he's a Southerner?  Rock on, dude.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    What's On Second

    Perhaps I was not very globally aware during middle school, but I did not know much about the Second Sudanese Civil War.  I had heard of the Lost Boys of Sudan, but knew nothing more than the fact that they were orhphaned boys in Africa escaping some sort of turmoil.  "What Is The What", Valentino Achak Deng's story of survival taught me about the conflict itself and provided deeply personal insight to how it affected these Lost Boys. 

    I am always captivated by a story that sheds light on a history with which I was not previously familiar; and when the history is as remarkable as this, it is difficult to put the book down.  It is hard to believe such events took place in the very recent past.  Deng has lived through more terror than most can imagine and still emerged with the desire to help others.

    How do I feel about a "memoir" being penned by someone other than the person whom the story is about?  I don't mind.  Deng worked hand in hand with Dave Eggers and gives his full blessing - can't really argue with that one.  I also can't complain about Eggers' writing style.  He may have typed the words, but Deng's voice shines through, particularly during the transitions between the past and present day when Deng addresses a tertiary character.  It is a reminder that this is not a faceless story, it is his life - and an incredible one at that.

    Overall Rating: 8 out of 10


    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/30 Episode

    The drama has returned!  The annual Thanksgiving episode did not disappoint.  Some secrets were revealed and others were left dangling in front of our faces, urging us to come back for more juicy episodes.

    • What was that face Nate was making when discussing Dan's girl troubles on the phone?  After concluding "it must have been the threesome talking," he gave an eye roll and head shake.  Does he realize he is on the phone and Dan can't actually pick up on this non-verbal sarcasm?
    • Was Serena wearing a cat suit?
    • Does anyone care about the Dorota/Vanya storyline?  I certainly don't.  GG writers, please kindly remove this plotline from future episodes.  Thanks.
    • Why wouldn't Serena tell Lily that Maureen is a crazy lady who orchestrated a political scandal?  I'm sure with this bit of info, Lily would be less likely to kick her daughter out.
    • How big do we think this Dr. Van der Woodsen secret is?  It has the potential to be huge, but it could also be a big let down, like when Serena reveals the real reason she went to boarding school is because she "killed someone" when really she just watched someone do a line of coke.
    • Is everyone deaf?  When Rufus is telling his joke, there are about 5 different side conversations happening but nobody outside of the 2 people in a given convo seem to notice.  The table wasn't that long.  Everyone would have heard everybody else's business.
    • What breed is that high horse on which Vanessa's mother seems to be permanently perched?  We get it; you like helping people, but in doing so, you seem to piss more of them off.
    • Shouldn't Nate hate Maureen a little more? He may want Serena all to himself, but that skank allowed him to take the fall for the biggest thing to happen to the Hudson since Sully.

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Gobble Gobble

    It has been a week since my last post, but that is because it was Thanksgiving, and eating/intense family time trumps blogging.  Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays.  No gifts here; it's all about the food.  And food is something my family does very well.  The Konters have been known to botch gifts on occasion and give an ugly sweater or two, but we NEVER mess up when it comes to food. 

    As always on Thanksgiving, it is my goal to stay in pajamas as much as possible, but after watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade it was time to prepare my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast, the appetizers.  I made caprese skewers and spicy shrimp boats (pictured below), which seemed to go over well with the brood of hungry Konters.  All the usual suspects were present on the table: pie, stuffing, soufflé, and of course, the turkey.  We were lucky enough to have 2 16 lb turkeys grace our table, a brine turkey and my Daddy's fried turkey.  The night before, my father and I inject the bird with a cajun spice marinade and cover with a dry rub.  Though I was not thilled to perform this tradition at 1:30 AM after a day of plane delays, it had to be done, and the resulting crispy fried goodness is always my favorite part of the meal.  A close second is the cranberry sauce.  Usually relegated to the condiment section of the table, I could make a full meal out of the quasi-side dish.  In fact, I would be happy to swim around in the mixture of cranberries, strawberies, pineapples, and nuts.

    Kudos to Allison for once again hosting the fabulous event.  Snaps also go out to Allison for making that delicious cranberry sauce.  Bravo.  After loosening my belt a couple notches, I finished the evening by curling up in a blanket and watching "I Love You Man" with my family.  Perfect Thanksgiving?  Totes m'goats.

    The biggest shock of the weekend was learning my brother and sister-in-law have not yet seen The Hangover.  These two are usually on the ball when it comes to movies.  Equally disappointing: hearing that they actually enjoyed watching the 12 hours of awfulness known as Australia.

    After having continued to stuff my face for the remaining three days, it will be nice to get back to normal eating/exercising habits.  My thighs thank me.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Team Tess

    It's such a cliché: the controlling girlfriend drags her boyfriend to a romantic chick flick.  I pride myself on not being an offender of this heinous crime; however, my boyfriend can no longer claim innocence because this Sunday, I was the one being dragged to the movie theater.  Was it an action/adventure film that he forced me to see?  No.  The movie my boyfriend was dying to watch was The Twilight Saga: New Moon.  Dave adores Kristen Stewart, and being the supportive girlfriend that I am, I chose to indulge his fantasies.  He was the only man in the theater, minus the fathers bringing their daughters who were too young to even have babysitting money with which buy the ticket.

    I will admit, it was not as awful as I thought it would be.  That said, there are a couple of things I need to pick on.  It takes place in the middle of winter in rainy Washington state.  Everyone is wearing down jackets and Taylor Lautner is running around in cutoff jorts and no shirt.  I get it; he's got a ripped bod now and they want to show it off to the tweens who are supporting this franchise, but it just seemed a little ridiculous.  Also, what is it about Kristin Stewart's character that makes her the object of every male character's affection?  She's broody and pretty much seems allergic to fun, yet it seems every boy is falling all over her, be it vampire, warewolf, or run-of-the-mill high schooler (which should be a monster category of it's own in my opinion).  The movie is full of boys vying for her attention and they all end up in a tight embrace with contorted faces and heavy breathing.  Such drama queens.

    Needless to say, Dave loved it and is Team Jacob all the way.

    On another note, I have to admit that the little commercial thingy telling the audience to be quiet before the movie with people talking, babies crying, and a cell phone ringing gets me EVERY time.  Never fails.  Inevitably, I will turn around, wondering (sometimes aloud) who brought their infant to the movies.

    MXco is Go

    As a foodie, it's always exciting when a new and potentially amazing restaurant opens.  It's even more exciting when that new restaurant opens in your neighborhood.  I was anxiously awaiting the day when MXco would open its doors ever since I saw the slip of paper on the window announcing the impending arrival of a Mexican restaurant in the recently shuttered Vynl on 78th and 2nd.

    I didn't want to miss the opportunity to try a trendy restaurant on its opening weekend so Dave and I made sure to wrangle Dana and Simon out of their Upper West apartment this Saturday.  We weren't too hungry, so when they told us it could be an hour wait, we walked into a bar across the street for a drink.  Thankfully, the hour wait was actually only about 25 minutes and we were soon seated in our booth amidst a graffiti covered wall and neon liquor bottle chandeliers.  The decor sounds cheesy, but it was tastefully done and I was thankful to have a funkier restaurant in the more conservative UES 'hood.

    While the margaritas looked amazing and massive, we decided to take the more cost effective sangria approach and were happy to find that it was delicious (the strawberries were a nice touch).  Even more delish was the food.  From the moment they put the chips and salsa on the table, I knew I was in for a good meal.  I know you must be thinking that every Mexican restaurant places a complimentary basket of chips and salsa on the table so this is no big deal, but this salsa had a touch of cream and was ultra-yummy.  We devoured our basket in under 2 minutes.  We decided to share a plate of chorizo nachos for the table.  Wonderful.  Ample amounts of melty cheese and meat.  They also topped the dish with jalapenos to add a little spice, but they were pickled and, therefore, not too overpowering.  For the main courses, Dave tried a carnitas burrito, Dana and Simon got fajitas (shrimp and steak, respectively), and I got 2 orders of tacos (Grilled Mahi-Mahi with aioli, cheese, and salsa and chicken with guac and pineapple salsa).  As I re-read that sentence, I realize I sound like a Fatty Boom Batty, but let me warn you, the taco portions are small.  Although the tacos come two to an order, they are tiny, and I was right to order 2.  The other entrees are definitely of adequate size.  In fact, the burrito came with enough rice and beans to serve as a meal in itself.

    One downside: the dessert.  The dessert selection at Mexican restaurants is usually pretty sparse and non-varied, so we were excited to see some inventive after-dinner options.  We ordered both the chocolate cake and the flan.  The chocolate cake was a bad decision.  It should be stricken from the menu and we told the waitress so.  The flan had a great flavor but was not actually flan.  In a dessert identity crisis, it couldn't decide if it was a flan, creme brulee, or cheesecake.  I loved the taste, but I know that Dave - a true flan fan - was disappointed that he didn't get the flubber-like substance he expected.

    Overall, I recommend MXco.  It may not be in the super hip LES area, but it is situated in the middle of a great UES strip of bars on 2nd Ave.  It's also a less expensive and probably tastier alternative to Rosa Mexicana or Dos Caminos.  Though the portions are not huge (except for the margaritas), the amount of food is satisfying and for once I left a Mexican restaurant without feeling like a forklift was required to get me out the door.

    In the Lions' Den

    Once again, we decided to head to 218th St. to watch the Columbia Lions attempt to play football.  We used the grills provided in the tailgating area to cook up some burgers with alpine cheddar and hot sausage.  We brought our own pre-mixed Firefly and lemonades but before cracking those open, we made sure to take full advantage of the free beer provided in the tailgating section.

    The stadium was surprisingly packed for the last game of the season.  Of course we bring our own fun wherever we go, but it always helps to have a good crowd.  Pumping up the crowd once again was the band.  This time, many of the boys in the band decided to come in their best clothes...their best girls' clothes.  I can't say why there was cross dressing, but it certainly kept things interesting.  Again, the band decided to entertain us with their own cheers, my favorite being "Kill kill hate hate murder murder mutilate."

    I still maintain that if more New Yorkers knew about this surprisingly fun activity in their own backyard, they would be flocking to the stadium.  Don't worry kids, the 2010 season is only about 9 months away!

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Welcome Back

    This week, Padma broke her stone face during the elimination challenge and welcomed Jennifer back to the big time after a stint of mediocre food.  It was a ballsy departure from the typical "thank you chef" response.

    While Jennifer rejoined the competion metaphorically, we did have one physical return: Gail!  If Toby never judged another episode, I would be satisfied.  He tries a little too hard to be Simon Cowell and all of his comments seem forced.  Gail's critiques, on the other hand, are the appropriate mix of saucy and sweet.  It's good to have you back, Gail.

    I would also like to point out that I called the final 4 contestants in the very first episode.  You may not be able to see it right now, but I'm giving myself a pat on the back.  I'll miss Eli and his pinchable cheeks, but it was his time to go.  Of course, I'm pulling for the lone Southerner left in the game - team Kevin all the way!

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/16 Episode

    This week, we got to watch all of our GG friends flock to Nate as he dispensed all the wisdom in his arsenal of experience in affairs and threesome shenanigans.  More than anything, I was glad to see Mr. Archibald contribute something other than his perfectly symmetrical bone structure.  Onto our unanswered questions of the week...
    • Was it opposite day?  In trying to keep her from making the mistake of sleeping with a married man, Nate decides to get Serena liquored up.  Getting wasted usually leads to drunk dials and bad decisions...this was his plan?
    • Is Chuck's season 1 attraction to Jenny resurfacing or is this just a protective big brother thing?  Not sure if I'm a fan of this right now.  I like Chuck and love Chuck + Blair.  (Can that become Bluck...or Chair?)  Jenny shouldn't bring her nor'easter of trouble their way.
    • Was it weird that the play reminded me of the Saved By The Bell cast's production of Snow White and the Seven Dorks when Zach tries to sort out feelings for best gal pal Jessie Spano vs. girlfriend Kelly Kapowski by kissing Jessie during the show?  I'm so excited!  I'm so excited!  I'm so...scared!
    • I thought tights were not pants?!?!  This brings Blair's non-dress/skirt count to 2 (the first being her shorts at Georgina's rooftop party earlier this season).
    • When Jenny was reading Nylon on the couch and discussing STD infected prep schoolers with her stepmom, was she conspicuously concealing the cover because it was the recent issue featuring Blake Lively?
    • Why is Olivia so cool about her boyfriend and roommate/best friend being secretly in love with each other?  Not even a tear?  I guess in the grand scheme of things, their little love triangle doesn't matter compared to the buckets of money she's about to make doing a movie that's "like Heathers with witches."  And yes, I do think it sounds like an awesome movie that would bring in tons of cash.
    • How was Blair able to tell Dan his script was "actually good" 2 seconds after he placed it in her hands?  Has she beat out Howard Stephen Berg as the fastest reader ever?
    The above combined with Lady Gaga and the song that will inevitably be all anyone hears for the next 3 months (it was actually playing on my radio alarm clock this morning...that didn't take long) made this a thoroughly satisfying episode.  Can't wait til next week's annual Thanksgiving episode!

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Lotsa Luzzo's

    Virtually every New Yorker is on the same quest to find the best pizza in NYC.  While this is an impossible task, it doesn't stop me from trying.  There are two distinct pizza styles in The Big Apple: brick oven and New York slice.  Let's table the slice convo for a moment as it is a tad more difficult to tackle and most New Yorkers have a personal bias for whatever pizza place can be found around the corner from their first apartment (hello Little Vincent's on 73rd and 2nd).  The brick oven pizza debate is tricky but one that can be tackled.

    While watching UGA beat Auburn this weekend, we decided to order some pizza because...well because it's football - kind of a no-brainer.  After hearing Gabe and Rocio claim that Luzzo's (on 1st between 12th and 13th) made Lombardi's taste like Domino's, I knew it was a place I had to try.  I later remembered I had read about Luzzo's in New York Magazine's Eat Cheap 2009 Guide.  This is where I learned that owner Michele Iuliano uses a coal and wood oven, making him an outlaw in the wood-only world of Neopolitan pizza.  Pizza and a man who breaks the rules?  Now you've got my attention.

    The crust was thin (just how I like it).  It wasn't super crispy, but I suspect that was due to the nearly 20 block delivery distance.  Remarkably, it made the trip and still managed to arrive without being overly soggy.  I may agree that it is, in fact, better than Lombardi's.  How can this be?  The toppings, my friend.  The toppings.  Mushrooms are a MUST.  That may sound boring, but Luzzo's sweet tomato sauce is perfectly paired with the woodsy little buttons.  It is the perfect flavor on a cool fall evening and probably the best accoutrement on the menu.  We also tried a pie topped with arugula and prosciutto.  The cured meat was the perfect compliment to the peppery arugula. 

    I think a trip to the East Village is in order so that I may fully appreciate Luzzo's in all its glory.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    The Alchemist: Not Quite Golden

    While blog-reading is great, it does not come close to the feeling of picking up and getting lost in a good book.  As a voracious reader I know that the sheer number of books out there can make choosing a title a daunting experience.  I am happy to help by lending my thoughts via book reviews to make your selection process easier.  For a more extensive list of my likes, dislikes, and past reviews, feel free to check me out on Goodreads.  I also hope this will satisfy my desire to participate in a book club, so please post your comments to facilitate a sort of virtual book club experience.

    And now onto the book du jour: The Alchemist...

    After hearing about this book for ages by just about anyone and everyone, I figured it was time I lent my discerning eye to the novel.  I had to see what all the fuss was about!  Was the book good?  Yes.  Was it as amazing as everyone told me it would be?  No. 

    I found The Alchemist to be a great allegory showing the powerful nature of destiny and the importance of following one's heart.  However, I found the message came across as a tad trite.  The ideas are important, but I feel that at age 24, after having experienced high school, college, and [some] of the real world, I had already absorbed many of the lessons prior to reading.  While it was nice to have those lessons reinforced through this very quick read, the book did not surprise me in any way - and surprise is a key element taken into account on my likeability meter.  I wish I had read this book earlier, when I was less sure of myself, which is why I would make this required reading for high school or college students.

    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/9 Episode

    Once again, it is Cotillion time for our GG social butterflies.  While this ball did not quite live up to those of years past, it was a fun, drama-filled evening.  But don't think the grads are going to let their mini-mes have all the fun.  Now that they have gone to college, they are partaking in even more grown up debaucherous behavior.  And now, onto the recap of this week's Unanswered Questions...
    • Could it be?!  Are the GG writers reading my blog and taking my thoughts into consideration?  They must be because after my complaining, Jenny appeared last night with makeup of normal proportions.
    • Speaking of Little J, if she's supposed to be the new Blair, who's her Serena?  Blair, while a tad Mussolini-esque, was always grounded by her true best friend.  Now that Eric's not taking the job, all Jenny has is her tribe of lackeys.
    • A kiss?!  That's all we get from the big, controversial, parental outrage-feuling threesome?!  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was a little more than that.
    • Who else noticed that Kyra was the daughter from Spanglish?
    • Have any of the wardrobe stylists ever been to a deb ball?  The girls wear WHITE ball gowns, not jewel toned, mermaid cut frocks. 
    • A low, messy chignon and a draped dress...has Serena actually turned into her mother?
    • It is well into the evening when Serena decides she "must" tell Tripp she was quitting. Does she even believe that lie she's telling herself?
    • What makes Jenny immune to the whole uniform thing? At least show us some semblance of a plaid skirt.
    • ANSWERED QUESTION ALERT:  Camp Suisse is real!  When it came up during the whole Aaron Rose mistake, I was slamming GG writers for such an awful, cheesy, unimaginative fake name for a camp.  But after hearing about it again in this episode, I decided to do a little research, which led me right to their homepage.
    • I just went to the Kandinsky exhibit and found it nowhere near sexy.  Did I miss a wing at the Guggenheim?
    • When do we get to see some Queen vs. Queen catfight action?  Now that we have confirmation that hierarchies exist at the other private schools, I want to see the claws come out.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Move Over Disney World - Stew Leonard's is the Most Magical Place on Earth

    Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to a truly magical place.  You see, I already visit grocery stores and get lost roaming the aisles with recipe ideas streaming through my head like ticker tape.  Combine a supermarket with singing and dancing animals, and I can be entertained for hours.  Not only does Stew Leonard's have amazing private label brands and any food imaginable at great prices and even better quality ($5 lobster rolls anyone?), throughout the store you can be entertained by vegetable bands, wishing wells, and moving/talking animals of all sorts (see below for a pic of me pulling a rope to make a cow moo).

    AND if you spend $100, you get a free yogurt (though you may already be full from the samples they give out around the store).  Sure, you could buy your own yogurt or fresh gelato and save a little money, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.  And let's face it, when it comes to food, it's not that difficult for me to spend a hundred smackaroos.

    Another bonus: all meat and dairy products are acquired from their own nearby farm, so you get to support the locals.  If interested, you can watch live video feed of the beautiful bovine at various places in the store.

    A friend once told me she went to Stew's on a first date, and I found myself jealous.

    Upon my return to this wonderland, I was on a mission to pick up the ingredients for a fabulous, fresh Sunday supper.  We started with an appetizer of lamb chops (a Mama Smiles fave) and a salad.  Next up was the main course of stuffed mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and island teriyaki pork tenderloin.  Unfortunately, we did not have dessert as I am operating under the pretense of trying to be healthy...but it's ok because I satisfied my sweet tooth with some of the yummy, free frozen yogurt at the end of the shopping trip (caramel and pumpkin flavors).

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Din Din with Daniel Vinn

    Now I know what you're thinking, "Tess has a blog.  She must be sooo cool!"  True, but I must concede that my blogging is nothing compared to what one of my dearest friends is doing.  You see, I write "musings" (as my Mommy so lovingly puts it) online, but Dan is an entrepreneur.  He has quit the rat race and started a company - Pushing Beyond - whose goal is to motivate Gen Yers to do the same in order to follow their passions.  The idea is simple: do what you love and success will follow. 

    Well, one thing I love is hanging out with Dan.  Usually this is not possible due to the GA/NY divide, but this week, Dan has been in NYC interviewing fellows who have followed their passions and been wildly successful (and happy with their jobs/life, go fig!).  We decided to meet at a UES favorite, Beyoglu, for a late mediterranean supper.

    Now onto the food, because if you're anything like me that's the real reason you're reading this.  Because we were both exhausted (and I knew how big the portions are), we opted against an appetizer.  However, had we gone with apps I would have suggested the Vegetarian Platter.  Doesn't sound like something I'd be interested in as a carnivore to the core, but this delicious plate of spreads always hits the spot and starts the meal off right.  The warm, fluffy pita/flatbread they bring to each table is the perfect dipper. 

    Dan heeded my advice on the entrée and we both ordered my favorite dish on the menu: The Iskender Kebab.  Gyro style lamb served over pita cubes that have soaked up all of the yogurt and tomato sauce that has been poured over the top.  I visit Beyoglu often and the fish is always wonderful - as are the meat and rice dishes - but the smoky, creamy, hearty flavor of the Iskender Kebab is impossible for me to refuse.  For only $14.50, you have enough for dinner and lunch the next day.  I will be the envy of all my co-workers.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/2 Episode

    As always, this week's episode left me scratching my head a bit.  The biggest unanswered question, of course, was posed during the sneak peak of next week's episode: who will the threesome be?!  But before we even begin to wrap our heads around that doozy, let's focus on this week's politically scandalous episode...
    • What was supposed to be embarrassing about the Bathroom Boy story?  It's definitely not something I'd go to great lengths to hide from my boyfriend.  Come on GG writers!  You excel at scandal and intrigue and this was all you could come up with?!
    • What was it about Jenny that looked so good in this episode?  Ohhh I get it, she came down with swine flu and is therefore not wearing all that makeup.
    • Are we supposed to believe that Olivia went on Jimmy Fallon again 2 days later?  No celeb is that in-demand.  Or maybe Jimmy Fallon's show is just that bad...hmm this one's a toughie.
    • Glad Serena got wise and realized what she was doing was not a job but instead could be classified as just being someone's bitch.  But what will she do with her non-college educated life now?
    • Is it really that hard to make friends that Blair considers sticking with Brandeis after confirming her hooker status? 
    • How cute and family-like are Rufus and Lily?!  Once almost repulsed, I now find them adorable.  They're turning into the Walshes from 90210.
    • Has there been a single episode this season that didn't end with some big event? We've had a wedding, movie premier, Halloween soiree, and now...a political celebration? Doesn't exactly seem like the kind of event a bunch of 18 year olds would be dying to attend.
    • As Chuck helped resolve Blair and Serena's squabble, it occurred to me that he has become the sage of the show...but I secretly miss the old, sleezy Chuck who deep down had a heart. Am I alone?
    • Does anyone else find Tripp cute? Hopefully this flirtation with Serena progresses so we can see a little more of him...preferably shirtless.
    • Why would Tripp's wife just give herself up like that?  Doesn't she realize a man as powerful as Grandfather will simply bide his time and take her down?
    • On that note, why does Nate call him Grandfather?  It's creepy.
    • And finally, the most perplexing of all: outside of middle school, does anyone actually celebrate their one month anniversary?

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Costumes Make Everything Better: THK's 2nd Annual Halloween Party

    I love to entertain.  Give me an excuse to don my ultra cute apron and have people over for food and fun and I'll throw a shindig together.  This Saturday was Halloween, which is by far my favorite reason to throw a partay.  I'm a firm believer that music sounds better, people look hotter, and food tastes yummier when experienced in costume.  Maybe I'm just nostalgic for my sorority days filled with socials date nights, but I LOVE a good costume party, making Halloween one of my favorite nights of the year.  Should you wish to experience the evening vicariously through my blog, keep reading.

    • Before I dive into the food, I should first go into costume detail.  We had Rainbow Brite, Ring Toss, Condom Queens, Steve Urkle, Catholic School Girl, a lame-o who didn't dress up (next year I will deny entry), and me, a Mail Order Bride, complete with bubble wrap veil, ring pop, stamps on the shirt, and FedEx skirt.
    • I served a witches' brew filled with gummy spiders.  Next time I'll know to drink a little less of my lethal concoctions...
    • It wouldn't be a party without some apps:
      • Warm brie topped with apples and honey
      • Dumplings
      • Spicy shrimp and avocado in endive boats
    • I also had a bowl of candy available for the taking filled with some of my tasty faves.  I wound up with tons of leftovers and now realize the dual nature of picking candy I like.  On the one hand, I don't have a pile of stuff I don't like but feel guilty about throwing away.  On the other hand, I'm left with massive amounts of treats I like and will probably be drawn to at 2 AM.  In 3 days you'll probably be able to come to my wrapper strewn apartment to find an empty candy bowl and a 20 lb heavier Tess.
    I deem the party a success and am already beyond excited for next year's 3rd Annual Halloween Extravaganza!

    Columbia Football - Who Knew?!

    This past Saturday, I decided to do something a little different.  I had some time before I needed to begin prepping for my annual Halloween party, so Dave and I decided to hop on the 1 train and head to 218th St. for the Columbia/Yale football game.  I'm not gonna lie; I was a little leery - I'm used to tailgating UGA-style and thought an Ivy League university could never compare.  I was right.  You can't compare the two.  That's like comparing steak and spam.  Yes they're both edible, but I'm not even sure they can both be considered meat.  It doesn't come close to an SEC experience; nevertheless, I had a great time at the game.

    Let's start with the best part: the sweetest deal in Manhattan.  A $10 ticket  buys you a great seat on the 50 yard line and 4 free beers in the tailgating area.  In case you're not a beer drinker, there's also complimentary water and coke so you can still feel like you're getting a deal.  They're basically paying you to go to the game.  Football and beer is a classic combination.  Football and FREE beer is an even better combination.  This is quite the hidden gem.

    Once you get into the stadium, you'll notice a few other differences.  For a college stadium, it's not very big, but that's ok because it didn't fill up anyway.  The spectators are not big football people, and their M.O. is pretty much to cheer when they see other people cheering.

    And finally, the band is a sight to see.  They were dressed casually in rugby shirts and had no adult supervision.  During the halftime show they presented a skit in which they made fun of the other Ivy League schools; however, in true Ivy League fashion, their trash talk was limited to "we're smarter than you", "Brown is full of hippies" and "There's no Ivy in Ithica hahaha".  I was hoping they would at least throw in a "yo mama", but alas, those Ivy Leaguers are just too highbrow.  The band also took it upon themselves to act as the unofficial cheerleaders of the game (even though there were already cheerleaders there).  They spent the game yelling obscene phrases from their section such as:

    • Proctologist!  Proctologist!  Ram it in the hole!

    • Hold her hand ::clap clap:: Tell her lies ::clap clap:: Hold her hand!  Tell her lies!  Let's score!

    • I also heard one that ended with "make my nipples hard"

    All in all, it was a fun experience and one I'll definitely have to repeat.  Although I was unable to replicate the true UGA tailgating experience, this was a great way to tide me over.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Mullet Mania is Almost Here!

    I feel like it's Christmas Eve and on Saturday I'll be able to run downstairs and open my presents. Topping my wish list: a Bulldawg victory over the Florida Gators. The Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party takes place this weekend in Jacksonville, and to get everyone else as excited as I am I have included a link to a short but very sweet video. Enjoy and GO DAWGS!

    Gators Wear Jean Shorts

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    A Visit from the Fam = A Visit to New Restaurants

    This weekend, my very special and amazing parents came to visit me! When you move from Savannah, GA to NYC, a visit from your family is usually long awaited and always wonderful. We played all around the city (tip: the Lower East Side Tenement Museum is a great activity if you want to see just how different the hip section of town used to be), but of course, my favorite thing about New York is the FOOD.

    On Friday night, Dave organized a true feast for my parents, La La, Uncle Skip, and Cousin Rachel (who all also came to visit). We went to Paul and Jimmy's, a family owned and operated Italian restaurant in Gramercy. Dave's family has been frequenting the establishment for 3 generations so he called in a favor. We started with bruschetta, followed by calamari and fried zucchini. After a pasta course, it was onto the main courses: chicken with sausage and peppers, veal with portobella mushrooms, shrimp, green beans and carrots, and potato puffs. We finished it off with 4 desserts, the best of which were the rum cake and tiramisu. The limoncelo was the perfect end to the meal. I was a little under the weather, but that definitely helped clear out my sinuses!

    Saturday night was my chance to pick a new restaurant. There is always immense pressure when choosing a restaurant like this. After all, my parents expect big things coming all the way to the big city from small town Georgia! After careful consideration (and several attempts at making reservations for some of the restaurants on my list to no avail), I landed a reservation at The Orchard.

    • I was a little worried when we arrived to find the place empty, but that was clearly only because we made an early reservation. 15 minutes after we sat down, the place was packed.
    • The restaurant had a good wine and cocktail list. Restaurant goers note, they only serve 2 beers: Bass and Stella. Bottles only.
    • Flatbreads are a must to start. They reminded me of a French dish: tarte flambee. We ordered the artichoke & goat cheese and braised short rib. Both were delicious - the short rib melted on my tongue.
    • We also ordered the drunken goat cheese salad. Romain hearts with a goat cheese that was made with wine. The cheese had a firmer texture than expected and the salad was light and refreshing.
    • The main courses were huge. I (along with Dave and his Mom) ordered the lamb. Seared on the outside, rare on the inside - perfect. It was served with a creme-fraiche orzo that was smooth and rich - of course, I ate the whole thing. It was also served with a pepper jam that was a nice substitute for mint jelly. Sweet at first but spicy at the back of the throat.
    • I couldn't pass up a taste of my Daddy's duck. That almost sounded dirty. Ew. With that idea hopefully out of our heads, the dish was wonderful. I wasn't crazy about the apple-raisin risotto as I always prefer savory, but he loved it.
    • My Mom seemed to enjoy her sole and Dave's Dad looked like he was happy with his veal ragu (as was Dave, who ate 1/2).
    • We couldn't say no to dessert, so we decided to order 3: Dave picked a cheesecake. You'll have to ask him how it was as I'm not a cheesecake fan. Daddy chose a chocolate-covered ice cream ball that the waitress described as "fun" along with an excited hand gesture. Good, I'm sure, but I couldn't even look in that direction as it paled in comparison to the flourless chocolate cake I ordered. It was sinful.
    • The crowd was young - nary a soul over 30. It made me feel hip and trendy (even though we all know I'm not).
    • Overall, The Orchard was a good pick: relaxed atmosphere, solid food, great LES location.

    Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 10/26 Episode

    I have a dirty little secret: I love Gossip Girl.  I love the salacious plots, the juicy one-liners, and recognizing the NYC hot-spots.  I've noticed that after watching an episode, I have several unanswered questions.  I've learned it's best to talk it out; therefore,  I will devote my weekly recap of this amazing show to venting about these more confusing tidbits.

    This week was Halloween for the Gossip Gals and Pals.  In my opinion, costumes just make things all the more confusing on this show:
    • How is throwing eggs at Jonathan a "plan"?  Did Jenny really spend time coming up with that?  And how is that something they can't get caught doing?  It was clear who threw them and obvious who the mastermind was.
    • Is there any of the old Rufus left?  In the old days he would have been much more an Economy Candy guy.  Now he buys his trick-or-treating candy at Dylan's.  Nothing against Dylan's - in fact, it's a block away from my apartment and I am there once a week, but it's still sad to see Rufus transform.
    • Why does Jenny see no gray area?  If the rule was that the boys could sit wherever, that would be that because she's Queen.  No need to throw away your sewing machine.
    • Does Lily seem to secretly enjoy giving motherly lectures to Jenny?  This blogger thinks she sees it as a way to fix all the mistakes she made with her real daughter.
    • Does anyone else notice that Rufus has exactly 1 outfit?  At least now we know Eric recognizes his penchant for hobo couture ("Rufus asked for my measurements - am I finally getting a flannel?").  Yes, this seems accurate - the gay teenage would be the only one to notice (or at least point it out), natch.
    • Why does KC talk about delivering James Franco's underwear like that's a bad job?  An 18 year old would be thrilled to do that.
    • Why does Serena forget her power as list keeper?  When Nate taunts her for working the door, she should have removed him from the list.  He's not one of KC's celeb clients - no one would have missed him or his bangs.
    • Do we think we'll learn how awful Patrick Roberts is as a boyfriend as soon as the next episode, per KC's warning?  That was some nice foreshadowing, GG writers, kudos.
    • Is anyone else disturbed that some 6 year old is dressed as Lady Gaga?

    California Dreaming: In-N-Out

    I recently vacationed in San Diego and LA, and while there are many benefits to living in California (beach and sunshine at all times come to mind), one thing outshines the others: In-N-Out Burger.  Below is my review/thoughts:

    • Animal Style: sounds naughty and it certainly is.  The sauce!  Those onions!  I actually just smacked my lips just thinking about it.  Make sure to order your double double this way.
    • The menu is tiny and consists of burger, cheeseburger, fries, and shakes.  I applaud In-N-Out for their simplicity.  There is no need to try to please all people by putting salads on the menu.  They make one thing and they make it well.
    • What's stopping them from bringing this phenomenal establishment to NYC?  Do we think a petition would help?
    • Yes, I realize I just wrote "we" when there is quite possibly no one reading this.
    • My only recommendation: bacon...though that might be too much good on one plate


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