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Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: The Lonely Polygamist

This book was essentially Big Love in novel form.  That works for me because I am a Big Love fan...well I was while I still had HBO.  Being extremely intrigued by polygamous culture, I enjoyed reading the fictional account of a family straining to manage the inevitable stress that comes with being a part of such a large family.  As one of only two children, I never had to beg and plead for love and attention, but that is what every character in this book is doing.  Yes, you're talking about a man with four wives, but don't expect anything racy - it is more of a description of the day-to-day lives and emotions of a larger-than-normal family.  At 600 pages, it was not an incredibly quick read, but everything seemed to come together in the end.  I give it a 5.5 - 6 out of 10: interesting but didn't blow me away.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Egg-celent Day

After a couple days of being extremely lazy, yesterday was certainly a turn of events.  I headed to Brooklyn to meet Jen for lunch.  Jen let me pick the restaurant, so I chose one I have heard a lot about.  egg is constantly written up for their breakfast sandwich and Southern-style cuisine, but the brunch line on weekends is too long to make the trip from Manhattan worth it.  A Tuesday brunch seemed like the perfect way to avoid the crowds and see what the fuss is all about.

We only waited about 10-15 minutes before being seated at a table with white butcher paper and a fully stocked bowl of crayons.  Points go to egg for giving the good colors - I hate when it's just a jar of brown cayons.  No good doodling comes from brown crayons.  I quickly ordered a coffee to warm up and it arrived in its own adorable single serving french press.  I've never used a french press and was unsure how to pump and pour the contraption (remember, I'm a country mouse), but I eventually managed to get the java into my mug and found it to be a particularly smooth and delicious cup of coffee.

When a restaurant is named egg, you pretty much know what you're going to order.  I figured it would be blasphemous to order anything other than the restaurants namesake, so I chose the eggs rothko (easy-cooked egg in brioche, topped with grafton cheddar, served with broiled tomatoes and a side of meat).  Sounds good, right?  Too bad they were out of brioche and regular bread just didn't sound as special.  If I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it right so I scratched the eggs and went down the completely opposite road: lunch fare.  I told you they specialize in Southern food and I saw my favorite Southern item on the menu: pimento cheese.  I ordered the ham and pimento cheese sandwich, served on grilled baguette.  The ham was more like prosciutto and was salty enough to stand up to the slightly spicy pimento cheese.  Jen ordered an egg and chorizo biscuit whose filling was spilling all over the plate.  Yums all around.

egg is extremely easy to get to.  It's steps away from the Bedford stop in Williamsburg, which means it only takes about 5 minutes from Union square.  I suggest going on off-hours to beat the crowds, but go you must because this is brunch done right.
With the boys away (or should I say boy, since Jen is the only one of us with a mate), the girls will play so after lunch we got our nails done.  With a full belly and fresh fingernails, it was time to head back to the city so I could do something I dread: shoe shopping.  I was desperate to find shoes for Greg and Susan's wedding and could not put it off any longer.  Knowing me, I probably would have tried to put it off just a little while longer, but my Mom has been calling and emailing twice a day to make sure I found new heels and would not be disappointing her/shaming the family by showing up to the wedding in ratty shoes.  Thankfully, I found a suitable pair...if you listen closely, you can probably hear my Mommy sighing with relief right now.  

Errand complete, I was free to do something fun like see a movie with Raych.  With the hopes of crossing all potential Oscar nominees of our list, we chose The King's Speech for our viewing pleasure.  Loved it.  Though it doesn't seem like there would be enough meat to sustain a film about a king overcoming his stammer, the movie was utterly enjoyable.  Both funny (British quip style) and very sweet, this movie is Academy Award worthy, particularly Colin Firth's performance.

Today isn't as exciting, but it's not over yet!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowed In Success

It's a very good thing I stocked up at the grocery store yesterday because there was no way I was going to head out in the three feet of snow now covering New York City.  Since the almond pasta I wrote about in the previous post didn't turn out as perfectly as I had hoped, I thought it was time to try again.

When I was at Eataly yesterday, I picked up some fresh ravioli, filled with butternut squash and amaretto cookies.  I tossed it with cremini mushrooms and, instead of a sauce, browned some butter with cinnamon and nutmeg to compliment the sweet filling.  It can't all be sweet - this is lunch after all - so a little freshly grated parmesan on the top rounded out the dish.

The almond pasta was ok.  This was truly toothsome.  I'm glad the dish was successful because it is literally the only thing I did all day.

Competing with Giada

Between Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner, I've been enjoying other people's cooking a lot of late.  Time for me to pony up to the stove and do some cooking of my own.  A while ago, I saw Giada making pasta with almond sauce on the Food Network and I said, "huh, I could do that."  The pasta looked creamy and easy, and her boobs always look so perfect while she's cooking.  What can I say, I was inspired.  Before the blizzard got too bad yesterday, I headed to the store to get the ingredients (and a push-up bra) so I could see if there was any way I could compete with Giada.

I made a few adjustments: Giada used penne; I substituted fresh squid ink fettucini from Eataly.  Giada used peas and rotisserie chicken; I thought cremini mushrooms and rotisserie chicken went better.  The flavor was on target and the nutty sauce was a new (and welcome) flavor profile for me, though I don't think my almonds were chopped as finely as Giada's were and the sauce didn't combine quite as well.  Plus, even with the help of Victoria's Secret, I don't think my boobs were as perky as hers.  You win this round, Giada.  My dish may not have been as perfect as it was on tv, but it was still tasty.  Good thing I think so because after eating three portions of the pasta, there is still enough leftover sauce to feed an army, which will come in handy when I don't want to head out in the snow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas...or Should I Say, "Feliz Navidad"

Last night, while other Jews were eating Chinese food and going to the movies, I went to Karina's apartment to enjoy a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas dinner.  Karina already had apps ready to go when I arrived, so I stuffed my face with two types of crostini (one with portobella mushrooms, the other with shrimp) while waiting for the rest of the meal to finish cooking.

While the main course was sittin' pretty in the oven, we chit chatted and poured ourselves a couple drinks.  The wine was good (what could be bad?), but my favorite was the coquito, Puerto Rican egg nog.  It tasted like a pina colada with cinnamon and filled me with Christmas spirit.
The main meal was unlike any Christmas dinner I have ever seen.  Instead of a spiral ham, we had tender pernil (roast pork).  Instead of mashed potatoes, we had potato salad and arroz con gandules (yellow rice with pigeon peas).  And instead of figgy pudding, we had pineapple flan.  I love flan.  It's like if my favorite dessert, creme brulee, decided to take up Spanish as a hobby.  The meal was an unexpected take (well, unexpected for me, the white girl) on holiday favorites.  
After dinner, we let our food digest a bit (and let the coquito wear off) by watching The Town.  I should have made time to watch this movie sooner.  It was great and Jeremy Renner's performance was impressive.  He was thug-tastic.  Blake Lively's performance was also applaudable, but I still found her to be a little too pretty to be believable as a strung out baby mama.  After the movie, Matt and I revved ourselves up again by playing a game of Scrabble.  I am proud to say I won by a seven point margin and, feeling victorious, was ready to head out to the bars.

You may find it hard to believe, but on Christmas, much of the city that never sleeps does, in fact, snooze.  It wasn't easy to find an open bar, but my cousin Aaron had just arrived in town so we were determined to find a place to booze.  After driving around the LES we settled on Spitzer's Corner.  The picnic-style tables, extensive beer list, and tasty bar snacks (like hand cut fries and truffle mac) make it a great day drinking spot, but it worked just as perfectly as a laid back evening venue.

I hope your Christmas was as holly jolly as mine!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Eve Event

I write this Christmas Eve recap from the comfort of my bed with 24 hours of A Christmas Story playing in the background.  Life is good.

I didn't know what to expect for my first NYC Xmas (usually I am with my fam, either skiing or in Savannah/Hilton Head), and I was a tad nervous to be left in New York while everyone else went home.  Thankfully, not everyone fled the city because Wendy had a nice little group of us over to her house for Christmas Eve dinner.

While waiting for the other guests to arrive, we worked on the apps and drinks: pigs in a blanket, spinach artichoke dip, hot spiced cider with rum, and eggnog.  Apparently, Sam doesn't own a watch because he arrived an hour and a half late.  Anger melted away, however, once I saw that he came bearing gifts.  How nice to bring me a present!...until I opened it and realized I had just been ICED.  Allow me to take the time to explain this little game to my Mommy who is likely reading this and scratching her head.  Surprise someone with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice and they have to get down on one knee and chug - the more creative you when Icing someone, the better.  I didn't expect to be Iced at Xmas Eve dinner, so I was certainly taken aback.  I applaud you, Sam.

Once everyone had arrived, it was time for the main course.  Inspired by the Feast of Seven Fishes, Wendy prepared shrimp fra diavlo with the perfect amount of spice.  Then it was my turn.  When I asked Wendy what I could bring, she said I could take care of the dessert.  Now, most desserts require baking - not my strength - so I had to figure out how to make something sweet that I wouldn't ruin.  I landed on chocolate bark, a no-bake treat.  I made two different types: candycane and marshmallows (very festive) and cashews and craisins.  I managed to make a dessert and not screw it up!  It was a Christmas miracle!

After a game of charades, it was time to leave the apartment, so at 12:45 we headed to Pine Tree Lodge.  I have never heard of this place, which is a shame because it's great.  It feels way more East Village than its Murray Hill location.  Tucked away on 35th between 1st and 2nd, it is hard to believe you're in the same zipcode as Tonic, Joshua Tree, and those other Murray Hill bars.  The only downside is the bathroom situation.  There is only one and it is small and smelly.  Other than that, no complaints from me.  You feel like you're in a deer stand while waiting for a drink.  With life jackets swung over deer heads, it's the perfect place for lumberjacks with a sense of humor and with all the red plaid, it was the perfect place to celebrate Xmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

No. 7 is #1

Since my two-week Xmas break started today, I wanted to make the most of it by trying a new restaurant.  Then there was the problem of deciding where I wanted to go.  The Ace Hotel (a new-ish boutique hotel on the random corner of 29th and Broadway) has one of the greatest lobbies in New York.  It is a combination coffee house and dim lounge so I thought it would be the perfect place to weigh my restaurant options while catching up on some reading.

I'm sure that it would have been a great place to figure things out but instead, it led me to the restaurant itself.  Located at the base of the hotel (though it must be entered through a separate door) is No. 7 Sub.  I have never been to No. 7 restaurant (hello, it's in Fort Greene, Brooklyn - too far for this Manhattan gal), but it must be good because it has spawned this brilliant sandwich shop (which, thankfully, is in the proper borough).

There are 10 very inventive sandwiches on the menu, all for $9.  All are served on crispity, toasted French bread that is not so thick it takes over the fillings, which are extremely original.  You wouldn't dream of finding fried mussels with cheese, pickled beets, and frisee at Blimpie.  And don't think you need to settle for plain roasted veggies and goat cheese if you're a vegetarian.  The meat-free options include brussels sprouts (with french dressing and potato chips) and broccoli (with cheese, soy bacon, and shallots).  I, myself, decided to go with the braised short ribs with red wine vinaigrette, sweet potato, and marshmallow.  Good choice, self.

There is no place to sit so I took my sandwich to the ledge by the window where the passerby could peer in the window and watch me hunker down.  They looked jealous, probably because they already knew what was inside the small shop.  When you see the list of ingredients you think it's just a little too out there.  It's like Willy Wonka decided to abandon the chocolate factory and devote all his energy to sandwiches.  I loved my sandwich (the salty, juicy, shredded meat couldn't ask for a better match than the sweet potato and marshmallows), but I'll be sad to see it leave.  Like all good things, this, too, shall eventually pass.  While this sandwich is perfect for winter, it will have to make way for new favorites once Springtime arrives.  I'll miss my short rib, but I'm sure the newbies will be equally lip-smacking.

Book Review: Dracula

It's about time I read this classic, so I was happy that it was my book club's latest pick.  Had I not been given that push, I probably never would have picked it up.  I am particularly glad I read Bram Stoker's Dracula now, in the height of vampire frenzy (Twilight, True Blood, etc), to best understand the origin of the phenomenon.  I also liked that the entire story is written as journal entries or letters by the story's characters.  It was an interesting way to expose information and kept the story moving.

That said, it was not my favorite read.  I was expecting a book that would make me scared to turn my light off at night, considering most consider this title the authority on the horror genre.  The beginning was interesting, but it seemed to slow down in the second half.  It just was not as exciting as I would have liked and I found it difficult to relate to the characters.  The letter/journal perspective should have given the reader a stronger connection to the characters but by the end of the novel, I didn't feel like I knew them as well as I should have after 444 pages.  Now I can say I've read it.  Moving on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan

Loved Black Swan.  Natalie Portman is pretty much the bomb diggity.  Her acting is phenomenal and the Oscar mumblings are merited.  Let's not forget, she lost 20 lbs for the role, making her about 17 lbs.  That's dedication.  I thought they were kinda beating us over the head with the symbolism (ahem, Mila Kunis' back tattoo), but I'll overlook it because the movie was that good.  Plus, the symbolism was obvious enough that I was able to figure it out, which made me feel smart.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flushing Field Trip

Matt texted me this morning that he and Jen just got a car and they were planning to go on an adventure to Flushing for Korean food.  Would I like to join?  Um, yes.

Matt and Jen heard from a Korean friend that Ham Ji Bak was legit.  As we drove up, I had a feeling we were in for a genuine Korean feast based solely on the surroundings.  Not a word of English in sight and I saw some mini pigs curing on the front terrace of an apartment.  The people who live in this neighborhood mean business.  

I'm not at all picky so I let Matt do all the ordering.  The waitress was very impressed with Matt's Korean pronunciation and appreciated our willingness to go with a spicy dish.  We may have only ordered four dishes, but we may as well have ordered 40 with the amount of food they placed in front of us.  There were about 15 dishes of [free!] banchan including pickled cucumbers, bean sprouts, tofu, broccoli, fish, kimchi, and much much more.  Next came our main courses.  I couldn't tell you what their real names were or exactly what was in them since there was little English on the menu. 

We ordered beef cooked on a hot plate, pork belly (prepared the same way), a seafood pancake, and squid with noodles in a sweet and spicy sauce.  It was all amazing.  I love DIY food, so I was happy to assemble mini wraps with the beef and pork belly (beef in lettuce, pork belly in pickled radish, both with scallions and sauces) as the waitress instructed.  If I had to choose favorites, I would probably say the pork belly and squid were the two best things we tried, but it seems like you can't really go wrong at this place.  To finish the meal, the waitress brought out a complimentary beef soup followed by complimentary pumpkin slush and pineapple slices.

It was an incredible meal and now that Matt and Jen are equipped with an automobile, I have a feeling we'll be enjoying plenty more adventures.  Bring it.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Modern Love

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I am newly obsessed with Modern Family.  Don't worry, like How I Met Your Mother, it will not invade the recap portion of the blog.  (I think GG and Glee are enough to keep me busy when there's no food to talk about.)

Modern Family is funny and, unlike most, it is a true situational comedy (that's where the term sitcom comes from, brainiacs).  You don't need to see any other episode to follow the story.  Each episode is its own little unit.  The best part is that it's clean.  You will have absolutely no problem watching this show with your parents.  And take it from the girl who had to sit through all of Unfaithful (including the sex scene by the stairs) with her parents, it is good to avoid those awkward moments whenever possible.

If you're smart, you won't wait forever to watch this show like I did.  It's time to hit up your Netflix queue and play catch-up.

A Wright Night

If you're a chef, receiving the James Beard award is pretty much as good as it gets.  I may think I'm a foodie, but I am nothing compared to Mr. Beard.  His love of food led to the James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Awards, aka the pinnacle of the chef/restaurant pyramid.  I was lucky enough to snag an invite to one of the James Beard House dinners on Monday night with some co-workers.  The menu was as follows:

  • Hors d’Oeuvres:
    • Pork Belly with Apple Cider Jus: The only one I didn't try.  Sad face.
    • Tuna Sashimi with Cucumbers, Scallions, and Ponzu
    • Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seed Mousse: The pumpkin made this much better than the other squash soups I see on every single menu this time of year.
    • Short Ribs with Carrots and Citrus: Good, but difficult to eat standing up, clutching a glass of wine.
    • Paired with: Hermann Wiemer Dry Riesling 2008 or Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2007
  • Dinner (each course paired with wine):
    • Lightly Smoked King Salmon with Warm Apples and Vanilla: I thought this was a good first course, although the portion was a little large.  Mine was a perfect medium rare and it worked with the apples, though I never would have thought to put them together.
      • Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 2006
    • Maine Lobster with Matsutake Mushrooms and Arugula: Solid dish.
      • Far Niente Chardonnay 2008
    • Gently Cooked Veal Loin with Golden Potatoes and White Truffles: A tad overcooked and the truffles didn't really shine.  This was probably my least favorite course - I could have done without it.
      • Etude Carneros Pinot Noir 2007
    • 28-Day Dry-Aged Beef Sirloin with Port, Marrow, and Shallot Marmalade: The sauce wasn't very thick but still packed tons of rich flavor.
      • No Limit Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Syrah 2008
  • Dessert
    • Winter Citrus Fruit with Spiced Red Wine Gelée, Yuzu, and Greek Yogurt Sorbet: the fruit and gelee were tasty and refreshing, but the yuzu was a tad bland for me
    • Dark Chocolate–Chestnut Mousse with Roasted Pear Sorbet
    • Paired with: Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria 2007
I ate everything.  Our meal was compliments of Chef Rodolfo Contreras of The Wright in the Guggenheim museum.  I have not been to the restaurant, but I have to imagine this was better because it was a more personal experience.  When the chef walked around to each table at the end of the meal, I was like a giddy school girl.  Before I could stop myself, I was asking if I could take a picture with him.  He happily obliged.  In case the meal wasn't enough, as we walked out, the chef handed us each our own loaf of cherry bread (like banana bread or pound cake studded with fresh, juicy cherries).  It has made a wonderful breakfast all week long and acts as a reminder of my great meal.  [I was unable to rotate some of the pics.  My apologies.]

Call Me an Idiot...

...but I am on the fence when it comes to how much I enjoyed American Idiot.  As a Broadway fanatic, I was overjoyed to receive a free ticket to the show last weekend.  I had heard mixed reviews, so I was happy to formulate an opinion of my own.  Unfortunately, my thoughts are just as mixed as everyone else's.

  • Downside: 
    • Zero plot.  It's basically just Green Day songs that aren't clearly strung together.  They could have done much more with the album's material since all songs were inspired by 9/11, but it fell short.  
    • The ending was depressing.  So basically, you're telling me life sucks and there's no hope for it to get better?  Cool, I'm psyched.
    • It was trying to be the new Rent (love gone awry, drugs, punk).  Don't try.  There can only be one.
  • Upside: 
    • True, it was basically just a concert and that's not what I expected when I went to see a Tony nominated musical, but it was a good concert.  Their renditions of the Green Day songs we are all so familiar with were great. 
    • I got to see not one, not two, but three of the boys from Spring Awakening (aka one of the best musicals of ALL TIME).  
    • The show is only 90 minutes with no intermission, making it a fun Sunday night activity that doesn't eat up your entire day/night.
In the end, I realized I loved the performances but wasn't blown away by the show itself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shower Power

On Sunday, Greg, Susan, and I threw a baby shower for Matt and Jen because we are all so excited there will soon be a baby girl added to our group.  And because we live to throw parties and will take just about any excuse to do so.  I am sorry to report there were no games played.  The shower was co-ed and we didn't want to subject boys to what they would consider the torturous activities of measuring Jen's belly or guessing what melted candy bar is in the diaper.  The fact that the shower was game-free meant we had more time to mingle, ogle at Jen's growing belly, and EAT.  I split the cooking responsibilities with Greg and Susan, so we wound up with a ton of food:

  • Cheese and chive turnovers
  • Sundried tomato dip
  • Deviled eggs
  • Biscuits
  • Chick-fil-A (That's right, we made it happen by sneaking into the NYU building and everyone now thinks we're gods.)
  • Grits casserole (grits and cheese in cake form that I could eat for days)
  • Brownie bites with cream cheese icing and butterfinger topping
  • Chocolate covered red velvet cake balls (Haven't you heard?  Cake balls are the new it thing.  Susan made these from scratch and they were incredible.)
  • Carrots and a fruit plate (we had to have something healthy on the table)
We had a house full of almost 30 people - many of them Southerners whose palates we had to appease, hence the Chick-fil-A, grits, biscuits, and deviled eggs.  I like to think these transplanted Southerners don't get to enjoy their favorite foods from home very often so we made sure to give them a little taste of Savannah.

Am I really old enough to have friends with babies?  Apparently.  I now know what a Boppy is.  For those in the dark (as I was), it's a pillow thingy that is THE item for new parents.  I also now know I am totally unequipped to have a baby.  I suppose I'll have to learn how to change a diaper fast because I plan to be the best Aunt EVER.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harry Hotness

A big thanks to Sasha for sending this video my way.  She knows I was one of those losers dedicated fans who went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I.  Yes, I liked the movie and no, I did not dress up.  (I have to save something special for the final movie.)  If you love Harry Potter as much as me, this is a must-see:

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 12/7/10 Episode

I was surprisingly very happy with this week's episode of Glee.  I thought a Christmas episode would be too cheesy for my taste, but it was all warm and fuzzy with some funky Glee-ness mixed in.

  • The one rule for this episode was that every song had to be a Christmas song and somehow they made all of them seem plot-relevant.  I'm not sure how they managed to do that, but I think it's deserving of a +2.
  • When Emma sits down with Will in the teachers' lounge, he's eating a cookie...again.  Why is he always bringing a small ziplock baggy of cookies from home?  -1 because it gives me the heebie jeebies for some reason.
  • Other Asian's wish to Santa is for Channing Tatum to stop being in stuff.  +1 because I know this is a reference to Harry Shum Jr's role in Step Up 2: The Streets.
  • Kurt: "I'm in love with him and he's actually gay.  I call that progress."  So do we, Porcelain.  +1 for your realization that straight guys are not the best object for your affections.  
  • Sam worked so hard on that cord blood explanation.  I award it a +1 because it was just bizarre enough for me.
  • When the Glee club girls are going to chop off their hair, Santana explains, "Oh it's cool, most of this isn't mine anyway." +1 for this reminder that Santana is the ghetto one of the group.
  • Sue gives Mr. Shuster a razor - I think the ensuing hair joke was my own personal gift from Santa.  +2 
  • Rachel seems way too into Christmas for someone who is always talking about how she's a Jew.  -1
  • +1 for the Ricki Lake reference when Beiste is telling Brittany about a girl who put being husky to good use and why Santa can't help Artie walk.  I've missed Ricki.
  • My only regret about this episode is that "All I Want for Christmas" wasn't used.  -1 (I would have subtracted more, but I'm hoping the only reason they didn't use it is because they're saving it for next year).
Total: 6--> This week's episode is the diva equivalent of the Jonas brothers.  Squeaky clean guys that everyone can agree are fun for the whole family.  Perhaps I awarded extra points because I was in the Christmas spirit and because I may have gotten a little choked up when I saw the Christmas miracle of Artie walking.  In the end though, I was happy with the episode and am now super sad we have to wait through a break before the second half of the season begins.  I suppose reruns will have to hold me over.

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 12/6/10 Episode

Finally!  It's about time we learned why Ben was in jail and Juliet has been out for Serena's soul all season. So many secrets were let out of the bag this week!  It was almost too much to handle...almost.

  • Has Dan finally caught on that it's weird he is in love with his sister?  When he and Blair are trying to see Serena at the Ostroff Center, I sense a tinge of shame as he says "I'm her brother."
  • Why is there a neighborly postman that knows her by name when Juliet steps off the bus?  It's Connecticut, not Pleasantville.
  • While we're talking about Juliet getting off the bus, why is she wearing 2010's sparkly dress but carrying 1920's suitcase?
  • When Serena lets Juliet off the hook for trying to ruin her life, Juliet looks a tad too smug.  You do realize you drugged the wrong girl, right?
  • How is the captain allowed to use Vanderbilt money to lease a house without his wife's consent?  Wouldn't her lawyers be a tad suspicious since he's in JAIL?
  • Lily, from where do you summon the power to keep all these secrets locked away?  Sending an innocent man to jail and selling Chuck's company behind his back: those are a couple of bombshells you just dropped on us, my chignon-loving friend.  Private school is great (trust me, I'm a private school kid, myself), but framing a man for statutory rape just so your daughter can get into one is a tad excessive.
  • Also, not really a question, but I think I noticed a couple of goofs this episode...
    • I don't think you're allowed to join an inmate for tv time.  It's not like visiting a friend at a hotel - they're prisoners.
    • It looks like the picture behind the couch (when Rufus calls Lily out for selling the company) is of Lily from that night - same dress and hair.  Considering I haven't heard anything about time travel suddenly becoming possible and Lily would never wear the same outfit twice, I think somebody messed up here.
So this was a pretty major episode and I have no idea where it will go from here...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blown Away

For the uninitiated, a blow out is when you go to the salon to get your hair washed, blown dry, and styled - no cut.  Apparently there's a ton of women in New York who do this - and not just for proms and weddings.  Enough people that there are several salons dedicated to the blow dry practice.  Last night, I went to one such establishment, Blow, to get my hair did.  It's a blow dry bar.  Seriously.  They have a whole task force of people employed there who do nothing by blow dry your hair.

I don't really get the point of doing this on a Monday night.  Why get my hair pumped full of hairspray just so I can go home, go to sleep, and wash it all out in the morning?  So, to make it worthwhile, we made sure to get a few drinks afterwards to show off our new 'dos.

While it may not be something you want to do on a random weeknight, I may be into it before big events.  I am not very talented with a hairdryer but by the time these ladies were done with my locks, I was looking all sorts of va va voom.  "Who's that movie star?" I asked as I looked in the mirror.  Oh!  It's me!  I could get used to this sort of pampering.

It'll cost you $40-$100 to get your hair blown dry, which seems steep next to the free ConAir I have stashed under my sink.  However, next time you have a big event to go to, save money on the dress.  Use something you already have in your closet and spend the money on some Serena Van der Woodsen hair.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pick the Burger When You Go for Pizza

When I visited Pulino's, I was not overly impressed with the pizza.  That can be a problem since it's a pizza place.  However, after the one and only time I ever went to Pulino's, I ended up meeting someone out at a bar who worked in the restaurant scene.  He seemed pretty in-the-know, so when he told me the only thing worth eating there is the burger, I filed it away in my rolodex of foodie facts.

Last night, Steph and I went with Gav and some of his friends to Bowery Electric for a birthday but it wasn't long before we remembered we don't really like that bar that much.  There's no way to move and it's certainly not worth the crowds of 23-24 year olds.  It's fine if you're wasted, but I only had one drink under my belt so it was a little much.  Steph and I decided to leave to sit at the bar at Pulino's since we knew it would be calm and spacious.  After two carafes of wine, we deemed it appropriate to order food and this is when I pulled out my burger knowledge.  They didn't even ask us how we wanted it cooked, but it came out a perfect medium rare - just how I like it - with cheese and tons of caramelized onions.  I know it's a pizza place, but the burger is the best thing on the menu.

So Pulino's may be trying to establish itself in the pizza community of New York, but don't bother yourself with going for the pies.  Instead, here are the reasons to check it out:

  1. The weird bathrooms
  2. See for yourself what caused so much controversy (after New York Magazine gave it a poor review, owner Keith McNally fired back with a letter to the reviewer - research the childlike behavior for yourself)
  3. The burger

New York Chanukah

As I briefly mentioned in the last post, I didn't know it was Chanukah until after it started.  That got me feeling like the worst Jew ever.  Large amounts of self-inflicted Jewish guilt ensued.  So on Friday night, I set out to redeem myself by making a Chanukah meal just like my Grandma and invited Matt and Karina over to help me celebrate.

Every year, my grandma cooks the same meal for Chanukah: fried chicken, ribs, gumbo, biscuits, and latkes.  Being a New York City career woman, there was no way I would be able to cook all that before Matt and Karina arrived so I did was most NYC women do: I assembled.  You know the girls I'm talking about - the ones who only use their stove to store extra clothes.  I followed their lead and instead of cooking everything I picked up from a bunch of places and just served it on real dinnerware.  It turned out great.  Let it be known that Whole Foods makes some bangin latkes that are made with spaghetti squash and zucchini.  It looked great, tasted better, and took hardly any time to make.  Of course it wasn't as good as my Grandma's meal, but it was a great substitute in a crunch.  And meant fewer dishes.

In New York, everything either delivers or pre-prepares for pick-up.  Everything.  There's no excuse to not throw a little dinner party and I now know there's no shame in taking a little help from the store.  Less time in the kitchen means more time drinking wine.

Mexican Chanukah

It's been almost two years since I've seen Heather, which is way too long to go without seeing one of your best friends from college.  Thankfully, my friends are not just cool, they're smart, too, which is why I had the opportunity to see Heather while she was here interviewing for a residency program.  It was a very short visit (about 18 hours), so we only had enough time to do dinner, but at least that gave us more face-to-face catch-up time than we've had in a while.

We did not want to stray far from her hotel since Heather had to be up early for her interview, so we went to Toloache.  Not only did I pick Toloache because it's a tried and true Midtown Mexican spot, I picked it because I had heard about their special Chanukah menu.  Apparently, the Hispanic chef's wife is Jewish so he developed a special menu to celebrate their combined cultures.  We didn't go with the full menu, but we couldn't pass up the latke trio:
  • Potato Jalapeno with Horseradish Crema
  • Zucchini with Tomatillo Apple Salsa
  • Mexican Ricotta with Chipotle and Agave
The horseradish crema was so yummy we ended up putting it on all of the latkes, including the ricotta (a creamy, fried ball of cheese - not super latke-like but delish).  It was a fun way to celebrate the 2nd night of Chanukah, which I needed to do since I actually didn't know it was Chanukah until it had already begun.  Oops.  They're also doing the menu at their sister restaurant, Yerba Buena (which I actually prefer to Toloache), so no matter where you live in the city, you don't have much of an excuse to miss out on this fun Chanukah menu (through 12/9).
Now all you blog readers need to start crossing your fingers and toes so Heather chooses NYU for her residency and moves here because one of these dinners every two years is not enough for me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lemon Love

After eating like crazy and only working out a little over Thanksgiving, it was time to tone it down (in the burgers and fried food area) and step it up (in the exercise department).  I haven't quite made it to the exercise reform part of my plan, but Tuesday night I made sure my dinner was a tad healthier so I made a big salad, pistachio crusted salmon, and, best of all, lemon pasta.  The pasta was so simple: just add a little cream to the pasta (and I mean just a touch), salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan.  It had so much flavor and took minutes to make.

A very well-rounded meal, non?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 11/30/10 Episode

Good songs!  Drama!  Last night's episode was everything we could have hoped for from our Glee divas.
  • What Emma says to Will about how he runs glee club was everything every blogger has been writing for over a year. +1 because it seems like, finally, someone's been listening.  Perhaps the writers follow this blog?  Not likely, but a girl can dream.
  • Santana dropped a huge bomb on Rachel by telling her she slept with Finn.  +1 because she called her Yentl when she did it.
  • Although I just gave Santana a point, I would now like to deduct one some because now she's just being mean telling Rachel Finn brought her dinner and the whole situation in her face.  -1
  • Rachel's Dads almost broke up over wallpaper.  +1 because for some reason of love any mention of Rachel's gay Dads.  Maybe one day - if we're lucky - we'll actually get to see them.
  • +1 to Artie for knowing that the only way to deal with Brittany is the same way you would deal with a 5 year old.  Though, I'm pretty sure he got the idea from watching Big Daddy.  
  • "Don't Cry for Me Argentina": Yes the song fit and the transition between Rachel and Kurt was great, but the real points are awarded to Blaine having to hold his hand down to keep it from rising to the the sky like a diva during Kurt's performance. +1
  • Brittany has motocross practice: +1
Total: 5--> This episode is the diva equivalent of Tina Turner who can put on a fab performance, just like each of the performing choirs at sectionals.  Also, Tina went through some serious relationship dramz, much like most of the couples in this episode.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcoming Winter

Now that it's basically Winter, I wanted to get in the spirit of the season with some Winter-y food so I opened up a cookbook and tried to find something easy.  I decided to go with cremini mushroom dumplings.  All I did was sautee chopped mushrooms, garlic, and scallions and then mixed it with cream cheese, salt, and pepper.  That was stuffed into some wonton wrappers and plopped into boiling water for about three minutes.  I set them afloat in a broth-y soup I already had in the house to make it a full dish.  I was able to make the whole thing during the first two Gossip Girl commercial breaks, which means it had to be pretty simple.  Few things feel more like Winter than soup, so I consider this mission accomplished.

I Win!

Our latest office throwdown was hummus and I emerged the winner!  True, I won by default as my two competitors failed to bring anything in after the Thanksgiving holiday but a W is a W.  Instead of the expected chickpeas, I made my "hummus" by mixing edamame and tofu and adding lemon, garlic, and spices.  Did everyone like it?  Not sure.  Does it matter?  Nope.  I'll take the win any way I can get it.

I had some of it as an appetizer last night and I deem it "not bad".  It could use a little olive oil, but I think it's a different, healthy thing to snack on.  Congrats to me.  Sadly, there's no trophy for the winner, but I'll take the respect I am now due.

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/29/10 Episode

I was terribly worried when I thought they skipped the annual Thanksgiving episode.  It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the obligatory annual mention of Blair's old "problem".  Onto the questionable bits of the episode:

  • Was that sarcasm I just heard from Dorota?  Somebody grew some cojones!  I was rather shocked when I heard her say "yes, I want you to freeze" to Blair.
  • When there were two other girls involved in her scheme, did Juliet really think she could get away with the drugging/kidnapping part of her plan?  You're not dealing with amateurs, honey.
  • Who is that girl in the last scene at the Ostroff Center?  Is that Serena?  I didn't recognize her in that baggy sweater and full pair of pants.  I don't think we've ever seen her this covered up.  
  • Seriously, how many times is Jenny going to flee to Hudson before any of the lessons stick?  After reading a post on, I think this time it's the real deal since she has apparently been put on "indefinite hiatus" from the show.
  • Juiliet, if you're going to skip town, why would you get rid of everything in your apartment except the two bags of evidence (ie: mask)?
  • The convicted felon thinks Juliet crossed the line?  His orange jumpsuit makes me think he wouldn't really care how far Juliet took things.
  • Did anyone care about Nate's mini plotline where he's trying to get his parents back together?  Didn't think so.
And that about wraps it up!  Looks like next week will be a juicy revenge-filled episodek - can't wait!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Brindle Burger

Today I traded the New York Times for a couple of magazines during my Sunday coffee house ritual.  While catching up on this week's Time Out, I came across their feature on the city's best new burgers.  We all know about Burger Joint and Minetta, but apparently some newbies are tearing up the scene.  Of the 5 burgers featured in the magazine, one was easy enough for me to get to so I finished my java and headed to The Brindle Room in the East Village.

I arrived at just after 5, so there weren't many people in the dark, skinny restaurant.  Table for one!  A little weird/sad to eat by myself, but a delicious burger sounded better than take-out in my apartment and I had a good book to keep me company.  Everything looked good, but I was there for important burger research so I quickly shut the menu to avoid any distractions and ordered the burger.  Usually the burger isn't available for dinner but since it recently received all this press, it has remained a dinner special.

The chef brought the plate to my table himself and I couldn't wait to dig in.  The burger is the perfect size.  Large enough to satisfy, not so big you can't handle eating the whole thing.  The burger is made with bits of dry-aged rib eye so it tastes like a steak on a bun.  It's pan seared, so it acquires a nice, salty crust, which is balanced by the cheese of your choice and sweet caramelized onions.  It's served with a pile of thick, skin-on fries that are topped with a little sea salt.

For $13 including tax, this burger can't be beat.  I give it an A+.  Like I said, the rest of the menu looked great, but it will be hard to order anything else because I agree with Time Out; this is absolutely one of the best burgers in the city.

Gobble Gobble 2010

And now for the post you know has been coming: Thanksgiving!  This year put all others to shame since Mark and Allison welcomed a record 18 people into their home.  More people means more food so there was a lot going on in that kitchen.  Before I tell you about the food, please take a look at Allison's beautiful out-of-a-magazine tablescape:
For the third year in a row, my assignment was the appetizer.  As always, I took this as an opportunity to try out some new recipes.  I went with stuffed mushrooms (with hot Italian sausage and cheese) and a goat cheese, arugula, roasted pear, and candied walnut crostini.  They were both very well received!  Stuffed mushrooms and crostini are easy to pick up and always crowd pleasers, so I think they were good choices though the pics don't do them justice:

After some schmoozing, it was time for the big meal.  We had some old favorites as well as some new hits:
  • Butternut squash soup: a new addition from Matt and Jen.  It had a great curry flavor that made it stand apart from all those butternut squash soups you see this time of year.
  • Cranberry relish: Allison adds strawberries to make it a little sweeter - way better than that canned stuff.
  • Ratatouille: Jen's dad brought this to give the meal a little European flair
  • Kasha and bowties: Another new dish from Jen's dad that rounded out the meal
  • 3 dressings (as my big bro pointed out, it's only stuffing if it's stuffed inside the turkey):
    • Rosemary and wild mushroom
    • Fig and pine nut: sweet and a little fancier)
    • Cornbread oyster: my brother actually got into the kitchen and made this one all by himself - after trying it, I am very proud to say we're related
  • Spinach casserole
  • Corn Souffle
  • Carrot Souffle
  • Green Beans
  • Brine Turkey
  • Fried Turkey
  • Dessert: 
    • Khalua Chocolate Pecan Pie
    • Fudge Pie
    • Pecan Pie
    • Praline Cake
    • Caramel Apple Cake
Turkey carving showdown

Everything came out so well that there were not as many leftovers as you would think.  When Konters see a spread like that they attack.  It was a great family gathering, but the real star of the show was Jen's belly.  I may live in NYC with her, but the rest of the fam hadn't had the opportunity to see her growing tum tum up close and personal.  All the food was so good, I'm sure Jen had no problem eating for two.

After that much food, I'm sure you can understand why I could barely move after dinner.  I went home, watched a movie with my parents, and fell asleep early so I could wake up and take on Black Friday like a champ.  

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 11/23/10 Episode

Last week's Gwyneth Paltrow episode may not have been my fave, but I think the show was close to redeemed this week with the Glee Wedding.  The song's all fit with the plot and we got a few good one liners.  I just wish there was one additional song, but you can't win 'em all.  And now for the Diva-meter!

  • Kurt [after Finn raises concerns that releasing 50 doves in the auditorium will be messy]: "That's why we feed them glitter, Finn."  +1 because that's problem solving at its best.
  • One of Sue's interests on her e-dating profile is tantric yelling.  +1 for this new oxymoron.
  • I didn't mention this in the last 2 recaps, but I am compelled to bring it up now.  It can not go unnoticed that Kurt has a picture of Blaine in his locker with a "courage" collage.  -2 because that's just weird and stalker-ish.
  • I would have picked porcelain for my nickname, too.  +1.
  • I started to get a little choked up when everyone is walking down the aisle. +1 for old people dancing.
  • Is Artie waving a Ribbon Dancer?  +1
  • Kurt should never have allowed his parents to give up all their savings and honeymoon money so he can go to Dalton Academy.  Though it's diva behavior, -2 because it's too selfish for my taste.
Total --> 0.  So this week's episode was just even in the diva department and I'm going to make it the diva equivalent of Alicia Keys.  She doesn't exhibit any absurd diva behavior, but you can't deny there's real talent there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/16/10 Episode

TV still broken and had computer playback problems so I'm just now getting to the recaps.  Without further ado...

  • Serena actually knows what a Venn diagram is? 
  • Do university Deans actually hold parent teacher conferences like this?  And would they really turn down Lily's offer to donate a building?  
  • Does it seem that Blair has a moral problem with Big Love style polygamy or is it that she's more disappointed at the sexist nature of only men being allowed to have multiple spouses and she can't participate?
  • Did the costume people take note that Jenny looked so much better in Serena's hair and make-up? 
  • Is everyone making out at the Saints and Sinners party?  Aren't these supposed to be the classy people of New York?  It looks like the middle of the dance floor at a fraternity band party in there.
  • Why are Dan and Nate so happy to treat Serena like the Park Place property of Monopoly?  It doesn't seem like either cares if they win or lose; they just want to play the game, which is kind of gross considering the game is a person.
My heart melted at Chuck's romantic "I love you" speech and the cliffhanger was juicy enough to get me counting down the day's til Monday's new episode.

Keep on Truckin'

The night before Thanksgiving is usually a crazy night.  Everyone comes back in town and a debauchery-filled, unofficial high school reunion ensues.  While I had prepared myself for this evening, all of my friends decided not to get back in town til it was too late to go out.  Don't you worry, readers.  I got plenty of partying in when all former Country Day students decided to take downtown Savannah by storm on Friday night.  Yes, this was the night right before my 5:30 AM Saturday flight.  And yes, I was convinced it would be imprudent to miss out on the fun just because of a silly flight so I joined in, got an hour and a half of sleep, and can attest it was worth every missing wink.  But back to Wednesday night...

Even though we were not going out, we made sure the evening wasn't a total waste by trying Savannah's hot new restaurant, Green Truck.  Green Truck is not actually green, but the entire restaurant is probably the size of an F150.  The size is slightly problematic because it means ::gasp:: a nice line forms outside.  In New York, we're very familiar with waiting in line for a table, but that is just not done in Savannah.  Typically there aren't enough people to form a line.  We were in luck because the people in front of us grew tired of waiting and left, moving us up in line.  I'm glad we stuck it out because the burgers were great.  Allison and I shared one topped with goat cheese and sauteed onions (The Rustica) and then split the salad version of The Jefe, which had avocado, black beans, cheese, and a light but flavorful dressing.

The best part of the meal was definitely the appetizer of pimento cheese.  I love love love this Southern specialty and their home-made version was sharp and delicious.  It came with house-made pickles that were sweet and spicy.  Mark loved the pimento cheese so much, he ordered it on his burger.  Burgers are nothing without beer and Green Truck has a great selection at low prices.

My Grandmas tried to go last weekend but were deterred by the line.  Don't be discouraged, fair readers!  Just go around 8:30 (a little late by Savannah standards) and you should be good to go.

Gold Star to Starland

One restaurant in Savannah has continued to elude me.  For the two or so years it has been open, I have heard all my family and friends talk about Starland Cafe (with location #2 under different name in the Telfair museum).  Lamentably, every time I have tried to go either the line has been too long or it was randomly closed.  Finally, I made it on Wednesday and it was as good as I had heard.  I started with a cup of the tomato thai soup, which is made with squash, spices, and coconut milk.  The flavor was not overly Thai, but the spices made it more exciting than a regular tomato basil soup.  I followed that with my huge panini.  Usually, I don't consider it a meal without some sort of meat, but I didn't even miss it in my greek asparagus panini.  It was stuffed with asparagus, hummus, feta, pesto, artichokes, onion, fire roasted tomato, and creamy herb spread.  It was by far the best sandwich I have had in months.

The cafe is in an old townhouse that has been painted in all sorts of bright and cheerful colors.  The full structure of the house has remained in tact, which makes for a laid back meal.  We were eating in the "living room" and it felt just like we were in a friends house.  Sandwiches and salads may not sound exciting, but these have some pizazz so I would make sure you stop by.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Meal

When Mark and Allison moved back to Savannah, they decided to take on Thanksgiving as their holiday.  It made sense: no more arguing over where to go and no more hurt feelings when one family gets picked over the other.  Everybody comes together in one place and it is a beautiful thing.  However, with combined families comes combined traditions.  Two families worth of food traditions is just too much to fit on any Thanksgiving table so a few things had to fall by the wayside.

My family always had a fried turkey and a ham, but when we combined the fam, we wound up with a regular turkey, a fried turkey, and a ham and we decided that was a little too much meat.  (No way was I going to give up my fried bird and Allison is partial to her Dad's brined gobbler that he makes particularly well.)  So, Porky got the old heave-ho.  Our new tradition has become a smaller pre-Thanksgiving dinner where the honey baked ham gets center stage and it was goooood.

In addition to the ham (which I am still eating in sandwich form with good Swiss cheese), we ate Allison's trial batch of stuffing (a good indication that today's real thing will be great), some broccoli, and soup (my contribution to the meal).  I found a soup recipe in the most unlikely of places: In Style magazine.  A fashion mag is the last place I would think to look for recipes, but there it was: a rich cauliflower soup right next to all the super skinny models.  The soup (cauliflower, bacon, onion, celery, garlic, and broth - all pureed) was smokey and autumny but the best part was the garnish of crisp bacon and a drizzle of truffle oil.  It was easy and definitely helped give Pre-Thanksgiving (which I am deeming a holiday all its own) a wow factor (thank you, truffle oil). 

The dessert also contributed to the "wow" portion of the evening.  As I may have mentioned, I am not much of a baker.  Thankfully, the same can not be said about my Mommy who churns out scrumdilliumptious baked goods all the time.  Her chocolate cake with fudgy glaze topped off the meal perfectly.

The whole meal was good prep for the eating orgy we about to embark on a little later today.  I'm already loosening my belt. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Awoooga Tortuga's

The Thunderbolt area of Savannah is, by definition, laid-back.  We usually take our boat there for some casual seafood in places where shirt and shoes are required, but not much else.  Like me, my Grandma doesn't need anything fancy, so I decided to take her there for some one-on-one time at Tortuga's. 

Tortuga's specializes in Carribean fare, but it's more like Carribean/Southern fusion.  My Grandma had the shrimp panini (filled with mozzerella cheese and a sundried tomato pesto) and I had the Puerto Rican fish and eggs.  Here's where the fusion comes in.  My jerk salmon and sweet plantains were sitting on a plate next to some AMAZING grits and a huge Southern biscuit.  I usually only eat cheese grits, but these grits were cheese-free and I couldn't get enough of them.  I didn't even need the eggs after all that food, but it was nice to have them. 

In Savannah, there are plenty of lunch places and enough breakfast places, but we are a little short on places to brunch.  Tortuga's is the perfect solution.  If you have only ever been there for lunch/dinner, don't overlook Sunday brunch where they offer the perfect mix of breakfast and lunch food.  Plus, you get to stare at the river while you eat without going all the way downtown.


I'm in Savannah!!!  I hit the ground running the moment my plane landed and I am ready to tell you all about it.  For lunch on Saturday, my parents decided to take me to Tybee (the beach in Savannah) for some "tacos" at Social.  Social is an open air, white-washed, rustic building that serves food with paper towels and has fancy artwork on the walls.  None of that seems to go together, but when you're eating there, you don't really care. 

I put tacos in quotes because they are served in grilled flatbread instead of the typical tortilla or shell and the fillings are anything but ordinary.  My Mom ordered the vegetarian, which had squash, almonds, and a red pepper pesto.  My Daddy and I split three tacos: the soft shell crab (with goat cheese, black cherry, and tomatoes), the short rib (with a red wine bbq sauce and onions), and the orange pork (with caramelized onion, raisins, and aioli).  They were all great, but my favorite was the orange pork because it was just the right amount of sweet.  We also ordered a side of collards because I so rarely get to enjoy them in New York.  They were some of the best of had in a long time.  The most interesting thing we ate had to be the roasted peach and blue cheese soup.  It was sweet from the peach and creamy and a little salty from the blue cheese.  I sat at the table trying to disect all ingredients so I can try to replicate it at home.  Although peaches usually scream Summer, the blue cheese made this the perfect transition to Fall.

If that lunch didn't get you jealous that you're not here with me, how's this: it's the last week in November and it's 80 degrees.  Gotta love the South.

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 11/16 Episode

So once again, I'm a week late in the recap department, but I think the Holidays make everything a little wacky.  Here we go:
  • Holly Holiday?  The cheesiness of that name earns it a -1
  • Sue wants to turn Will's hair into a full length shearling coat for only the most fashionable of premature babies.  +2 because it's so good to have the hair jokes back.
  • I could not help but wonder how all the water was contained on the stage in the last number.  Not a terrible mashup, but those were some serious special effects for high schoolers so I give it a -1.
  • Gwyneth's acting was good (sister's won an Oscar so I wasn't surprised that her portrayal of the wacky people-pleasing sub that every student loves was on the mark) but a singer she's not.  Though much better than anticipated, it was pretty clear she was only on the show to convince people she is a good enough singer to play one in a new movie that's "coincidentally" opening around now.  Throw her a bone with a song, not four of them.  I didn't hate her, but there's no way she can compete with the powerhouse guest stars of Glees past (i.e.: Kristen Chenowith). -1
  • The rest of the songs were pretty irrelevant to the plot.  -1
  • Brittany confuses M and N... +1 because I can see how that can happen.
  • +1 for the name of Cameo, Gwyneth Paltrow's former problem student.
  • Does anyone else think Kurt is going to fall in love with Blaine and get hurt/rejected?  No points, just thinking about it...
Total --> 0 making this the diva equivalent of...well...Gwyneth Paltrow.  Still a diva, but not the triple threat we have come to love on this show.  I know everyone loved Gwyneth and this episode in general, so my recap may be a bit of a disappointment, but I just didn't think (mostly due to song choice) that this was the best we've seen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Milk Bar: It's Not Just for Dessert

I have not been shy about my love for Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar.  For a girl who is not wild about desserts, I am obsessed as can be about that place.  Now I have one more reason to be: breakfast.

Today, someone sent two boxes of goodies to the office.  In box number one: the Bagel Bomb, a dome shaped onion roll filled with bacon, scallion, cheese.  Box number two contained black sesame croissants filled with tristar jam and cream cheese.  This was a new way of doing breakfast.  I usually go for a good 'ol bacon egg and cheese sandwich, but these treats have made me reconsider my normal routine.  The new Midtown location is open at 8 so it would be feasible for me to make a pit stop on my way to work.  I imagine if I did that and brought extra for my office friends, I would become very popular.  But in reality, I realize we're talking about Momofuku.  And I don't like to share Momofuku.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belated Brussels Sprouts

I ate a very late supper last night.  I was at work until 8:30; but while most people would go home and get take out, I headed to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner.  As I'm sure you can guess but my departure time, work is busy and when it gets crazy like this, I like to relax by cooking.  Furthermore, I have after-work plans every day this week before leaving for Thanksgiving on Friday so I needed to make sure I had one normal meal this week.

I made Israeli cous cous with turkey meatballs and mushrooms, which was all very good but nothing new.  The experimentation came with the side dish.  I managed to make a vegetable totally unhealthy but entirely delicious by preparing brussels sprouts in lemon cream sauce with bacon.  It was delicious!  The lemon zest made this very Fall dish seem lighter and the bacon added the necessary salt.  In a first for me, I boiled and then sauteed the brussels sprouts (because that's what the recipe told me to do) when I have only ever roasted them.  They didn't get that browned, crispy goodness like they do when they're in the oven, but they came out bright green, which looked great on the plate (and still tasted great).  I may have eaten late, but it was worth the wait.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BYO in 'Boken

As sad as I am that Steph no longer lives a short trip on the 6 away, her new Hoboken home gives us a good reason to hold a monthly girls night, last night being installment number one.  Steph greeted Marcy and I at her apartment with a plate of cheese and crackers and cocktails ready to go.  She moves to Jerz and gets all domesticated on us!  She even told us she made brussels sprouts last week - we're talkin' about a new woman!  After drinks, we headed to Robongi for some sushi, one of Hoboken's many BYOB restaurants.

Robongi looks like a seafood restaurant but more like the fried seafood kinda restaurant with fish nets on the walls and plastic fish jumping out all over the place - not the typical bamboo decor often seen in sushi restaurants.  The sushi was fresh enough (not the best ever, but still tasty) but the cheap price and BYOB made it a huge hit.

After dinner we headed to one of the bajillion bars lining Washington Street.  After one drink, however, we realized we were way too tired to stay out any longer so we said goodbye to the new friends we met at the bar (who Steph has decided will go by the names Brutus and Brutus Jr.) and headed back to the apartment for a sleepover.  I thought it must have been super late, but apparently we were passed out by midnight considering we each consumed two drinks and bottle of wine.  Next month, we'll try to stay out a little later but no promises.

Livin It Up at Lavo

Thursday night, we went to the hottest spot in town, Lavo.  Although it can be found on 58th street, you would swear you were in the Meatpacking District.  It was so packed, I managed to hit someone standing inside with the revolving door (didn't even know that was possible) and by the time we were finished with our supper at 9 PM, they had already set up the red carpet and velvet rope outside.  We were clearly in the presence of the Beautiful People.  

The restaurant looks very European, but our friends overseas are much more relaxed than anyone at Lavo.  They have it down to a science.  Our waiter was nice and attentive and brought our food out promptly.  They warned us we would have to give up our table in two hours, but we figured they would let us stay as long as we continued to order food and spend money.  Not so.  Exactly two hours later, our attentive waiter and an even more attentive manager came over to kick us out (despite the fact that I still had a nearly full glass of wine).  In all fairness, they had warned us, were very nice when telling us to leave, and we had finished eating, so we had no problem leaving.

The food was mediocre, but truth be told, I probably wouldn't have noticed if it had been spectacular because I was too busy looking for celebrities.  Unfortunately, I didn't see anyone famous (which I think is a first at this place), but that could be because we didn't head to the downstairs lounge which is where the action really is (I'll be going there this Thursday, so I'll let you know if the nightclub is worth all the raves).  Although everything is portioned normally, we decided to order a little from each category and share it all.  We started with the baked clams, tuna tartar, kobe beef stuffed rice balls, and lobster potato pizza.  The rice balls were dry and nothing special - don't bother.  The pizza was probably my favorite, followed by the clams.  For the entree course, we ordered two filets, shrimp scampi, crispy chicken, eggplant parm, and asparagus, broccoli, and polenta fries for sides.  The eggplant parmesan was easily my favorite.  It was by no means fancy, but it was saucy, cheesy, and [thankfully] massive so everyone was able to eat a large piece.  The polenta fries and crispy chicken came in at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

It just so happened that the day before we went, Sam Sifton's review of Lavo graced the pages of the New York Times.  As a restaurant critic, I love Sam Sifton.  There is a sarcastic humor captured in his writing and his reviews are pretty dead-on.  His review guided us through the menu - we knew exactly what to order and what to avoid.  Everything he wrote - from the waiters pushing the meatball (thanks to Mr. Sifton, we knew to pass) to the meathead clientele rang true.  These are not Jersey Shore-type meatheads.  They are a new breed: the Meatpacking Meathead.  The finance boys looking for whatever tight dress-wearing lady they can pick up because she could just be the woman of their dreams (though she most certainly isn't).  Also present: the old men looking to pick up the exact same women.  Good luck to both of them.
Shrimp Scampi
Crispy Chicken
Eggplant Parm
Polenta Fries


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