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Friday, January 29, 2010

Rey of Sunshine

Today is Fat Friday.  Not only did I sample decadent macarons from Macaron Cafe (I'm not sure what flavor I tried, unless there's a flavor called super sweet and yummy), I ate my weight in Mexican food. 

Today, Midtown West became Midtown Best as El Rey del Sabor opened another permanent location at 49th and B'way, conveniently near my office.  El Rey del Sabor is one of my favorite street carts and one of the few serving Mexican in the city.  You would think I'd love that the original location is situated by Bloomingdales, so close to my apartment, but since it is only around during the week, I never get to take advantage of it.  Now that I can, I went crazy. 

Mexican food is supposed to be down and dirty.  If it's wrapped up in a pretty bow, I don't trust it.  There's something about watching two sweaty guys crammed in a cart that makes the food taste better.  Though hot dogs and gyros are the norm in street food, the fact that this necessitates a knife and fork does not make it exempt.  My food was delicious and I only mildly regret the amount I consumed.  I couldn't decide what I wanted, so I just kept ordering.  A tamale, small side of guac, and 3 tacos later (beef, spicy pork, and chorizo), my tummy is sooo happy.  These fellas know their way around a spice cabinet.   I also got a glimpse of the burrito my friend Pat ordered.  It was no smaller than my calf and was apparently quite tasty.  If you happen to live work in the area, make it a point to stop here for a cheap, filling, and flavorful lunch.

In The Year 3000

Wednesday was a big day in my world, aka the print advertising community.  With the introduction of the iPad, is this the future of the publishing realm?  I think so.  The Kindle was close, but Steve Jobs just took it five steps closer.  I, myself, am not a big fan of the e-reader.  I love my books and magazines in their original forms.  I love the smell, the textures, and the proud feeling I get when displaying their spines in my overstuffed bookshelf.  However, while slightly averse to change, I understand that times are a changin.  What's next?  A chip in my brain tat will automatically upload info?  Maybe.  For now, I'll continue to flip the actual pages of Oprah's latest book club pick.

iPad is a shiny new toy.  Though I do not plan on spending $500 on what is basically a flat-style computer, I think it's cool...or at least I did until someone made me realize the name sounds like a feminine hygene product.

Two other things that were cool about Wednesday: 1) Queen Latifa opened up my company's State of the Union event and 2) on my way there I spotted Matthew Settle (aka: Rufus Humphrew on Gossip Girl).  Though we both attended Us Weekly's Hot Hollywood party last year, he didn't seem to remember me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's On - Groupon

Gather 'round the computer screen kiddies as I tell you all about a fantastic program called Groupon.  Here's how it works: each day, the site features an amazing deal that you only get if enough people sign up (ergo GROUPon).  I've thought this was a great idea ever since hearing Matt Lauer and The Today Show hailing it several months ago as a great way to save money in tough economic times.

While they feature incredible, too-hard-to-pass-up kind of deals each day, I have limited funds so I waited - like a tiger stalking its prey - for the perfect deal.  Finally, last Thursday, I found it.  $25 for a $50 gift certificate to Poco.  Check out the menu.  I would go here with or without a coupon; but now when I go, I can FEAST.  Stay tuned for the restaurant recap.

Most importantly, I urge you to sign up for your local Groupon update.  The deals are awesome and there's a new one each day.  Everyone's a winner eventually!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let The Games Begin

I consider myself a sort of trivia buff.  I know scads (yes, scads) of random factoids and I'm usually the ringer at any bar's trivia night (if anyone wants to start a monthly or bi-weekly game, let me know).  So when two girls who sit near me at work were trying to figure out as many fast food chains as possible in a time crunch, I felt obligated to lend my expertise.

Only after completing the challenge did I ask why we were doing this.  They then opened my eyes to Sporcle, a website filled with quiz games on every topic imaginable.  Start off easy by trying to name all your 3 lettered body parts; then move on to naming European cities or Famous Simons.  I concede, it seems a little stupid at first, but as an obscure knowledge junkie, I was soon captivated.

If you're bored at work, this just may be the site for you.  I also have no doubt that multiple drinking games could be based around these games - enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Soup for Haiti

I just picked up a great piece of news.  Since mobile cuisine has gained widespread popularity in NYC, as part of 2010 Winter Restaurant Week, the city has commissioned a Restaurant Week Truck, featuring daily soup selections from 24 Restaurant Week participants.  Week 1 just happens to be right next to my office (B'way between 50th and 51st), and since next week the truck will be parked too far from me (5th between 18th and 19th for the first half of the week and Greenwich between Warren and Murray for the second half), I plan on taking advantage of all the truck has to offer while I can.  How can I pass up gingered sweet potato and lobster bisque from The Sea Grill on Thursday?  Today I plan to grab some of City Crab's famous New England Clam Chowder.  Yum.

For only $6 including bread from Tom Cat Bakery, it is nearly impossibly to pass up.  This foodie event combines two of my favorite things: Restaurant Week and food from a truck/cart.  I have no problem eating something sold on the side of the road.  In fact, I believe it usually tastes better that way, and I have no problem eating street meat even when I'm not drunk.  But the best part is that $1 from each sale is donated to Haiti relief.  That kind of soup will warm your belly and your heart.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Twice a year, New York City organizes a wonderful event: Restaurant Week.  Don't let the name fool you, Restaurant Week is actually two weeks long, and I consider it a major holiday.  Beginning yesterday, for a short window of time, us little people are able to see how the other half lives by dining at the city's swankiest restaurants at discounted prices.  Since I work and am not fortunate enough to be one of those ladies who lunch, I am usually unable to take advantage of the $24.07 lunch and instead focus on the $35, 3 course, prix fixe dinner.  Then again, if I was a lady who lunched, I prob wouldn't have to wait til Restaurant Week to check out these places.

Since these 2 weeks of bliss will fly by, choose your restaurants strategically.  A few tips:

  • Get the most bang for your buck.  I'm poor.  To me, $35 can still be a lot of money to drop, so choose wisely.  Let's think about this.  Some types of ethnic food don't lend themselves to desserts.  Asian food doesn't typically excel in this area.  You don't want to feel screwed by enjoying 2 courses and winding up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Boring - and nothing I couldn't do in my own kitchen with the help of my friends Ben and Jerry.  Stick to Italian, Continental, and French cuisines and you won't be disappointed with any of your courses.
  • Check out the menu first (most participating restaurants will post them on their websites).  It may seem like the stars have aligned when you see the nicest restaurant in all of NYC on the list.  But some restaurants put more effort than others into their Restaurant Week menu and you don't want to feel like you got the shaft when a fancy restaurant slapped a couple of boring dishes on the plate and clearly returned to focus on the high-paying customers.  
  • Grab a drink first.  Take advantage of happy hour at a nearby bar before going to the restaurant.  You don't want to psych yourself up for a cheap dinner only to get an expensive bill after tacking three $14 martinis onto the check.

There's a slew of newcomers this year, including my top choices of SD26, Braeburn, and A Voce.  If anyone's looking for a buddy with whom to check out any of the Restaurant Week offerings, consider my hand raised.

Friday, January 22, 2010

When in Rome...

Last night I had the privilege of seeing an advance screening of "When In Rome", the new film starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel.  Let me take that back; it would only have been a privilege had I enjoyed the movie.  Of course I wasn't expecting anything mind-blowing, but I usually enjoy a light rom-com - this one just didn't really do anything for me.  The acting was fine and the first half of the movie was sort of cute, but after that, it was just kinda blahhh.  I spent most of the film admiring Kristen Bell's wardrobe and commenting on how pretty she is.  The flick hits theaters one week from today, but allow me to save you $12.50 by listening to me when I tell you to wait til you can rent it on Netflix.  Another downside to the movie: while watching it, I ate an entire bag of popcorn myself - probably not a good idea.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stopping by the Italian Countryside

Two nights ago, I headed to Nolita with my co-workers for an Italian feast.  From the moment we walked inside Il Buco, we were transported to a small home in the Italian countryside.  This place has charm.  Each corner is its own nook.  No two lighting fixtures are the same and instead of paintings, the walls are covered with collections of plates and cutting boards.  So authentic was the decor, that by the end of dinner I was convinced the owners had actually gone to Italy, saw a quaint home they liked, picked it up in one piece, and flew it to New York City.  Since that idea seemed a tad far fetched, I headed to the website to uncover the true story behind the decor.  There I learned that when owner and independent filmmaker Donna Lennard opened the restaurant in 1994 with her Italian boy toy, it was actually a modern day trading post - a craft/antique exchange.  The store had a tiny kitchen in the back and patrons were often treated to a snackypoo.  The kitchen soon took over, which suits me perfectly because I have no antiques to trade.

The chef prepared a menu for us and the sommelier paired each course with wine.  We started with a slew of appetizers including skate, cured meats, prawns, and grapefruit with nuts.  The star of this course was easily the polenta.  Those Italians know what they're doing because that was the best bowl of cheese grits I've ever eaten.  We had a choice for each of the next two courses, but I loved my picks so much that I can't even remember the other options.  For the pasta course I ate the pillow-y soft gnocci with pork sausage and kale and for my entrĂ©e I devoured the wreckfish with faro, pickled onions, and golden beets.  The dessert plate featured biscotti, an apple quince tart, flourless chocolate cake, panna cotta topped with aged balsamic (the house specialty), and chocolate chip ice cream.  Normally I would say to leave out the ice cream, but there was a surprising hint of salt that woke up my taste buds. 

The restaurant was a hit with everyone at the table, but then again I think wine pairing is always successful.  If I was impossibly rich, I would have someone pair wine with my dinner every night.  I would also hire a personal back scratcher to go everwhere with me, but that's probably beside the point.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Taco Bell Update

Per my previous post, I am a lover of all things Taco Bell, which makes today a sad day.  I just learned that Taco Bell founder, Mr. Glen W. Bell, Jr. died Sunday in his California home at the age of 86.  This man has done so much for me and my waistline.  He will be missed, but I'm sure he's enjoying that big drive thru in the sky.  I hope this wasn't a result of adhering to The Taco Bell diet.  That would be really bad press.

Tooms vs. Food

While most of my friends decided to jet away to warm weather and all inclusive resorts over the Xmas break, my friend Tooms decided to stay in his native, cold Brooklyn.  Not content to simply relax at home, enjoying his Italian mama's pampering, Toom Raider decided to make a Man vs. Food challenge his own.  John Toomey tried his luck at Buffalo Cantina's hot wings challenge.  Stupid?  Immensely.  That's why it's awesome.
The challenge was originally called the Suicide 6 Wings (which is what Adam Richman does on Man vs. Food), but too many people were completing the challenge, so they created a hotter sauce, "seppuku", aptly named for the ceremony in which the Japanese samurai would kill themselves because they had committed a dishonorable deed.  Interesting fact.  I didn't expect to learn anything new when writing this post, but what do ya know, I did - bonus.

The rules:
  • 12 Suppuku wings in 3 minutes
  • No drinks
  • No napkins
  • Must sign a waiver
  • Must be 18 or older
  • Must be sober
Toomstone hates disappointing me, so he made sure to win.  His prize: free wings, his picture now graces the wall of the restaurant, a commemorative t-shirt, and eternal glory.  (Had he lost, he would have been responsible for paying the $10.95 cost of the wings; but more importantly, he would have felt the shame of letting me down.)

Tooms, I'm proud of you.  Even more so because you didn't ralph afterward.

Readers, for your enjoyment, please view the below videos of Tooms accomplishing this feat:

A video of Tooms eating the wings  Please note the surgical gloves worn to protect his hands from extreme spice.
A video of Tooms suffering afterwards

Monday, January 18, 2010


I've been wanting to see The Blind Side for a while but never got around to it.  However, after watching Sandra Bullock accept a Golden Globe for her performance in a beautiful amethyst frock (seriously, if I can look like her when I'm 45 I would be beyond happy), I knew it was time to buy a ticket.  I'm certainly glad I did because it was a wonderful feel-good film and Bullock's performance was wonderful.  She nailed the behavior, mannerisms, and speech of the feisty Southern mothers who have surrounded me my entire life.  Tim McGraw deserves a pat on the back too for being much more than the guy who fills half my iPod.  Good job.

My one complaint is that UGA was not prominently featured throughout the film.  During Oher's recruitment, they paraded SEC coaches across the screen.  My heart leaped at the brief glimpse of the Georgia G on a no-named assistant coach.  Perhaps it's true that Oher was not really considering The University of Georgia, but how 'bout a little of that creative license I've heard so much about?  Just about every major SEC coach was featured with the exception of Mark Richt.  As well as this movie has done at the box office, I can only imagine ticket purchases and reviews would soar if Coach Richt was included.  Sandra Bullock's character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, calls Nick Saban "a very attractive man".  Clearly, she never met Mark Richt.  And on another note, I didn't know it was possible for Lou Holtz to appear on tv without throwing his clipboard and/or hat on the ground.  UGA was featured in the background on tv in the scene where Tim McGraw's character is explaining a poem to the Oher character.  Unfortunately, they showed a Georgia/Georgia Tech basketball game.  Basketball is not our sport.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

After a long work week, Friday night was time for the gals to let loose, so Steph, Nicole, and I met up for a little girls' night.  Steph picked the place, and I must give her props for her great restaurant choice, Akane.

Akane is a cute little sushi joint located on 39th between 2nd and 3rd.  Is it anything special?  Yes.  Akane doesn't stand out because the sushi is far superior (though it is very very tasty).  What makes Akane a great way to start any evening is the fact that it's BYO.  Combine that with the reasonable prices and you've got a place that screams to the ladies.  In fact, an approximate 75% of the restaurant patrons was comprised of groups of girls.  We each came armed with our own bottle of wine and then attacked the menu.  We were surprised to discover a list of inventive special rolls all $13 and under and happy to report that all apps and rolls were yummy.

It can be difficult to find BYO restaurants outside of the LES and even harder to unearth one that doesn't charge a corkage fee.  Akane solves both problems and does so with a very friendly wait staff.  Another great deal: during happy hour (which lasts until 10:30 PM), Akane offers free sake with a $15 food purchase.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with my girls at fun restaurants, but I really love being able to do so without emptying my wallet.  Akane was a pleasant surprise and a return trip with my best gal pals  is already on my To Do list.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stumble In

I have a new favorite website.

I debated long and hard over whether or not I should encourage navigation away from my own blog (please don't leave me!), but eventually I decided the public must know about this.  In all likelihood, the public already knows, but I didn't, so tough noogies if you're reading old news.

In an attempt to expand our horizons, my office wisely organized "Digital Illumination Week" to get us traditional media planners into the digital mindset.  My head is now crammed with information concerning the world wide web and how to best use it to market our clients.  While I found the sessions involving online capabilities and metrics informative, the biggest takeaway was a brief mention at the end of yesterday's session.  Our instructor charged us to check out one new website a day.  This seems like a daunting task.  Where do I start?!  Our instructor then provided us with a helpful hint:

Intrigued?  You should be.  Bored at work?  Say hello to your savior.

When you enter the site, you provide your interests, click "start stumbling", and wait to get lucky as it sends you to a random site.  My first "stumble" was a usage chart on Spice Advice.  What do ya know?!  I love to cook but never know what to do with the spices in my cabinet.  How handy!  Thanks, Stumble Upon!

Once a day?  I think I'll be checking out new sites once a minute, thanks to this nifty tool.

And no, when providing your interests there is no checkbox for porn, so don't think you're gonna get lucky like that...and get your mind out of the gutter!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yo Mama

I have recently begun watching How I Met Your Mother via Netflix after hearing everyone in my pod (we don't say cubicles at my office - we're such trendsetters) sing its praises.  I was sick of feeling excluded from the inside joke as they laughed at specific scenes, so I decided it was time to jump on the bandwagon.  Given there are 5 seasons and I am only half-way through with Season 2, I have a long way to go, but here are my thoughts thus far:
  • I believe this 30 minute sitcom is far funnier without the commercials.  I'm not sure if the time-space continuum has anything to do with this phenomenon, but the one-liners become funnier when the show is crunched into a 22 minute format.
  • Alyson Hannigan is more than the naughty band geek from American Pie.  There was a time when I thought I'd never hear the end of "this one time at band camp", but she has managed to escape that role (surprising, considering the majority of her career is comprised of American Pie sequels).  However, the real star of the show is NPH.
  • Doogie Howser, MD is awesome.  Since the character basically says different variations of the same joke throughout every episode, one would think it would get old, but it doesn't.  As much as the mature 24 year-old in me hates to admit it, 14 year-old teenage boy humor is hilarious.
  • If, like me, you put off watching the show, I encourage you to give it a test drive.
Please feel free to post your best "Yo Mama" jokes in the comments.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ride 'Em Cowboy

Over the weekend, Dave and I decided it was time to get out of the cold and do something fun, so we shuffled ourselves over to MSG to enjoy the PBR.  Who am I kidding - we've had this planned for months, and I have been counting down the days, anxiously anticipating the time for beer and bulls. 
First of all, let me point out that PBR does not stand for Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Well, it does - but not in this instance.  PBR is the acronym for Professional Bull Riding - three amazing words, even better when strung together.  After spending my senior year at UGA working with the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo, the only student-run, professionally sanctioned rodeo event in the country, I was infinitely glad to have a little bit of Southern fun up here in NYC.

Allow me to set the scene.  The cowboy boot wearing crowd turned out in droves to watch each rider attempt to last 8 seconds on animals with names like Chicken on a Chain and Lacey Balls.  Please note, unlike rodeos in the South, I think only about .5% of this crowd actually dresses like this on a normal basis.   The rest came from Murray Hill and purchased their flannel shirts at Urban Outfitters specifically for the occasion.  Posers.  Nonetheless, it looked like everyone walked straight out of a Field & Stream catalog and made for some good ambiance.

For all those who laughed when I told them what I was doing over the weekend, I will have you know it was a solid evening and you should seriously consider joining us next year.  The night was even better when combined with some of my homemade pulled pork sandwiches (my new favorite thing to cook) pre-PBR and a stop for some mac & cheese, fried pickles, and spinach-artichoke dip at Brother Jimmy's after (not like the Southern food at home, but it'll do in a pinch).  I plan to throw more things like this onto the event roster in the near future.  Next up: monster trucks in March.  Who's with me?

Friday, January 8, 2010


For those of you readers who doubt my authority, I would like to submit a review from my latest satisfied customer, Avery Budman.

My dear friend Aves was traveling to NYC from her current home in the Nation's Capital for a couple days over X-mas.  Although I was to be home in GA and therefore unable to enjoy her company, she asked me to provide a list of my fave (but not overly pricey) NYC restaurants with veggie options so she could test out my food-finding skills.  I gave her an exhaustive list, but unfortunately, she only made it to one.  Lucky for her, she picked a goodie: Pommes Frites.

Pommes Frites is a tiny, dark nook on 2nd Ave and 8th that serves only belgian fries and an array of sauces - 32 to be exact.  Who doesn't love fries?  Fried potatoes are amazing on their own, but both delicious and fun when paired with dips and served in a giant cone.  I haven't yet made it through all the sauces, but so far my top choices are the smoked eggplant mayo, rosemary garlic mayo, sundried tomato mayo, and peanut satay.  Next on my list is the pomegranate teriyaki mayo.  They're tasty any time of the day, but they're open late so if you happen to have spent an evening around the East Village bar scene, this makes for some great drunk food.

If reading about this place isn't enough to convince you to go, just take it from Avery.  Immediately after snacking there, I received a text saying the place was amazing, so I asked her to elaborate: "Pommes Frites was well worth the subway ride we took just to go there. If you're going to have a restaurant devoted to just one item, they better be good -- and pommes frites was the ultimate. Each potato was perfectly crisp, the sauce selection is unrivaled and each bite brings a little bit more happiness to your life. French fries at their best."

Thanks, Aves - glad you enjoyed!  Next time, I plan to be around so we can explore the NYC food scene together.

So there.  See Mom, I do know what I'm talking about!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Embrace the Fat

Taco Bell is my favorite fast food establishment.  I love it.  I once ate $10.73 worth of food there.  Do you realize how much that is when the cost of an item hovers around $.89?!  That said, I must comment on those awful new Taco Bell Diet commercials.

If you're really trying to lose weight, how's this for a Taco Bell Diet - don't go to Taco Bell!  While it pains me to say such a thing (I dare say it's darn near blasphemous), we can all admit that it's not the healthiest option.  If you really want to lose a whopping 54 lbs like the gal in the commercial, it may be time to skip the drive thru altogether. 

Taco Bell, you are fast food, and great fast food at that. In fact, I would go as far as to say that you have become a master of speedy cuisine. Own it. Don't try to be something you're not. When I roll up to The Bell, I don't want to be reminded of the fact that I could be eating something healthier. Of course I could; I'm just trying to forget it, and throwing such a reminder in my face is sure to ruin the taste of my Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

The Rising Professionalista

My friend and former colleague Nikki Nash has one of those great full names that just rolls off the tongue, mandating both first and last names be used at all times, kinda like Ricky Bobby.  In addition to having a great name, Ms. Nash is quite the go-getter.  While pursuing her MBA, she has decided to create a blog aimed at helping young women succeed in the workforce.  Check out her great work-related insights at The Rising Professionalista

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oscar Buzzzzzz

The hype is much deserved.  Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire is a truly exceptional film.  Mo'Nique deserves an Academy Award as her performance was nothing short of stunning.  If you have not yet seen this film, get thee to the nearest movie theater as soon as possible.  And if you manage to sit through the entire movie without bawling your eyes out...well I just don't know what say to you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

We are only a few days into 2010 and it's already a good year.  I firmly believe this is because I rang in the new year by singing karaoke at Japas 27.  Karaoke is indubitably Japan's biggest contribution to pop culture.  I can think of nothing better than sharing a room and a bunch of pitchers with my best friends, singing the kind of monster ballads advertised in infomercials.  Follow that up by watching the ball drop from the top floor of a building on 42nd street and eating pizza.  Done.  There is no way 2010 can be bad when it begins like that.

If you have not embraced the karaoke phenomenon, I ask you where you live - under a rock?  Even if your city doesn't have special bars devoted to the practice of tearing apart songs, I'm pretty sure you can buy your very own machine at Radio Shack.  If, on the other hand, you do recognize the numerous benefits of embarrassing yourself in public to your own personally developed soundtrack, I suggest you consider this activity when planning your next new years bash.

Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bowl Game + Bowls of Food

While UGA did not play in what would be considered by most standards to be an important bowl game, we did manage to seriously damage the Texas A&M Aggies in the Independence Bowl with a record 44 points.  That would be the 13th consecutive bowl game appearance and 45th overall, in case you weren't counting. The Konter/Sand fam gathered to celebrate the occasion with a very yummy tailgating spread:

  • Matt and Jen prepared brisket sliders.  Kinda spicy, kinda sweet, all delish.  
  • Matt also came to the table with some kick-ass guac.  There was a definite bite to it, but not so much that a beer didn't wash it down perfectly.
  • Allison prepared a serious tuna ceviche dish, tossed with avocado, peppers, and an amazing sauce.
  • My mommy made her highly addictive artichoke heart dip.  She made a double recipe since I single handedly ate the regular portion.
  • I made a portobello mushroom and goat cheese crustini - tasty and easy
  • 2 kinds of chicken wings, courtesy of Fresh Market
  • We finished it all off with brownies from Matt and Allison's grandma, who happens to be a baker extraordinaire - her mandel bread was even featured in the paper...ok it was in the Savannah Jewish News, but that is technically a paper even if it is only two pages long and pretty much consists of articles about people related to me since my family comprises just about the entire Jewish population of Savannah.


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