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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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weird Weight

Recently, I was tasked at work to put our campaign success metrics into "fun" terms.  For example: our ad reaches about as many people as Christmas trees are sold each year.  The project was interesting enough; however, I would have found it much more enjoyable had I known about  Similar to a currency converter, it compares weight, length/height, and volume to completely random things.  I could play around with this for hours.

Fun fact: I am roughly equivalent to .11 testicles of a Right Whale.

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 11/9/10 Episode

Loved this episode.  I found the Rocky Horror episode a tad pointless, but it looks like they took a week off and came back with a great show.  Let's get right down to business:

  • Quinn goes to Sue for advice?  -1 for two reasons: 1) Quinn would never trust Sue after getting kicked off of the Cheerios last year and 2) she was specifically looking for boy advice...not Sue's area of expertise
  • Puck and Artie go on a double date at "The Stix" (aka Breadstix).  +1 because it reminds me of my high school days when we called our fave Mexican restaurant, Jalapeno's, by the endearing nickname "Jalops" (and yes, we actually pronounced the J).  *sigh* memories.
  • Quinn argues that becoming Prom King and Queen will feel even better than "a little somethin' somethin".  -1 because I'm pretty sure every high school boy would disagree.
  • Sue says the Glee kids sing about "that nonsense about how awesome it is to be alive or ugly or whatever the point is you guys are always trying to make".  +1 because...yea, that's pretty much spot on.
  • -1 for Mr. Shue kissing Bieste.  She's talking about a kiss being the doorway to hope and a future and he plants one on her with absolutely no intention of following through.  Did he just give her false hope?  A pro-bono kiss is not the way to do your charity work...unless you're a prostitute.
  • +1 to Kurt's reaction to the locker room kiss.  He didn't forget that the football player has been making his life hell for years just because he got his first kiss.
  • Song review:
    • "One Love": not bad, good harmonies, but not the most special performance of the episode.  No points added or subtracted.
    • "Teenage Dream": Incredible.  +2 for the fact that it was a capella.  Not every glee club is magically followed everywhere by a full jazz band like our McKinley High friends.  An additional +1 because all those Dalton boys were impossibly good looking.
    • Mashups: The girls' "Start Me Up/Livin on a Prayer" combo was better than their "Halo/Walkin on Sunshine" number from Season 1.  The girls rocked it.  They looked badass and sounded like it, too.  The guys did just as great with their "Stop! In the Name of Love/Free Your Mind" mashup.  +3 because both groups combined the songs perfectly and I simply can't choose which I liked better.
Total --> 6: This episode is the diva equivalent of Pat Benatar.  Not a diva in the traditional sense, but she can still do whatever she wants because she's a badass and that's kind of how I felt about all the songs in this episode.  True, "One Love" is not rock and roll, but Puck certainly is.  The all boys school then somehow managed to make glee the most badass group at school and everyone came together for some serious mashups.  Now that I've said the word badass way more than should be alotted to any recap, it's time for me to sign off!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tilapia Tuesday

I am exhausted just thinking about how busy I have been/am for the next week and a half.  You've read about most of the running around I've been doing, but little do you know that my life is even crazier for the next two weeks.  Since I actually had an evening free to myself, I decided I needed to make the most of it by preparing a nice, home-cooked meal.  I love eating out, but I need to do a little cooking of my own to stay sane.

I started with a salad of butter lettuce with pear, stilton, pancetta, and an orange champagne vinaigrette.  It was simple but delicious - a classic combination of flavors.  I followed that up with fried tilapia (with orange/ginger seasoning) and mushroom risotto (from Trader Joe's).  The fish fried up perfectly and had a pleasant zing thanks to the orange zest and ginger in the coating.  It was so nice to get back into the kitchen.  I'll be eating at a lot at work events leading up to Thanksgiving, so I'm glad this meal came out well - it'll have to satiate my cooking desires for a while.

I followed it all up with a dessert of Skittles.  After preparing a meal like that, I shouldn't be penalized for not coming up with a dessert, right?

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/8/10 Episode

I promised I would be better in posting this recap, so here I am, writing another one in the same day:

  • How is Serena able to get under the covers and not notice that there is actually another person in the bed?
  • Serena convinces Colin to give up his job and they still don't have sex?  This is highly unlikely.  Serena is never the tease; she always follows through. she blind?  Colin is gorgeous.
  • Aaand Serena is stuck deciding between Nate and Dan.  Again.  Is this a rerun?  Because I'm pretty sure we already went through this in the beginning of the season.
  • Juliet is ashamed people know she shops at Woodbury Commons.  I'm sorry, isn't that the high end outlet that sells Prada?  Wow.  She sounds destitute.
  • How was Vanessa able to just walk into the ballet event?  Those gatherings are invite only and she certainly did not get an invitation in her mailbox at the commune.
At the end of this episode, we saw the misfits unite to take down the rich kids.  I'm sure that means there will be plenty in question next episode...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Potluck.  It may sound like an outdated concept, evoking images of 1960s block parties, but I am here to tell you that the idea is awesome and should never be put to rest.  A few co-workers and I decided to organize a quarterly potluck, and last night was our first gathering.  Ira hosted our first event and, therefore, was in charge of the entree and the theme.  He chose the very appropriate Fall theme and the rest of us fell into step nicely.

I was in charge of the appetizer and went with a ricotta, fig, and honey crostini.  I also made one with pears instead of figs, just in case the figs were not as tasty as we hoped.  Note: they were as good as I hoped they would be, but it was nice to have two options.  This was the easiest 5 minute, 4 ingredient appetizer ever.

It was a good thing we were able to get that out of the way quickly because Ira was spazzing a little about his entree.  He made chicken stuffed with goat cheese, onion, and basil, and topped with a mushroom wine sauce.  He needed Elyse's help in the kitchen, but it turned out to be delicious.  It went perfectly with Emily's contribution of her great grandmother's 100 year old stuffing recipe.  The secrets of this recipe were not divulged, but I did gather that it included homemade cornbread and biscuits as a base.  As you can imagine, it's hard to go wrong when you start with those ingredients.  I see why Emily's family has been using the same recipe for so many years.  Dessert was supposed to be provided by our fourth attendee, but she called in sick.  Elyse was a last minute replacement so she didn't have time to make dessert.  Instead, she came with good gossip and we finished the meal with Ben and Jerry's that Ira already had in his freezer.

My advice: dinner parties are fun and much less stressful when you only have to worry about one piece of it, which is why I am now a big potluck advocate.
Ira bought latex gloves so he wouldn't touch raw chicken.  We made fun of him, naturally.

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 11/1/10 Episode

Ok so I know I'm a week late recapping last week's episode, and I haven't even watched last night's ep (gasp!), but my tv has been broken so I'm adjusting.  It's a little late, but the recap is here, and I'll be more timely with this week's recap.  The fact that I've had a full week to think about it only means there are extra unanswered questions rolling around in my head:
  • How do Nate and Serena know to invite a stenographer to the contract signing?  I'm pretty sure neither of them even know how to spell or define stenographer.  
  • There were too many celebrities at Blair's birthday and not enough friends.  Wouldn't a real 20 year old care more about getting wasted than having the Dean in attendance?  And really, would the dean ever come to something like this?
  • Did Blair have all her guests color coordinate?  Even Chuck, with his crazy boutonniere, matched the Autumn color scheme.
  • Why was Blair more worried about that video getting out than she was about everyone learning how she lost her v card?
  • Didn't Blair's Mom just go to her room a few feet away?  It's a big apartment but not so big that you can have loud, top-of-piano sex without getting caught.
  • Who thinks there is a better name for Jenny than Blair's aptly coined "gothic Barbie"?  Not this recapper.
  • How in the world does Gossip Girl have a tracker on Serena that places her on Google Maps as she walks?  This is completely out of the realm of possibility. 
  • Is it just me or does Eric seem to be morphing into Dan?  His hair is getting darker and the shirts are getting plaid-er.  One Dan Humphrey is plenty; Eric should focus on being the group's token gay.
Hopefully, this recap, though late, is satisfying.  Next time, I'll report a little faster.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Surprise Sunday Supper

    After all the marathon mayhem, I was planning to be lazy last night.  But then I got a text from Andrew that he was planning to cook and had extra food and invited Dan (who is visiting from LA) and I over to help him eat it.  What a nice surprise!  Not only was it nice to have somewhere to go on Sunday night, but I know that Andrew knows his way around the kitchen, so I had a feeling I was in for a good meal.

    Andrew had cooked sticky rice with black sesame seeds, snow peas in an peanut sauce, and grilled red snapper in a chile sauce.  My Mommy taught me to never arrive empty handed, so we brought a bottle of wine and some dumplings from a nearby restaurant since Andrew had told us the menu would have a Thai theme.  When fish is presented whole - head, tail, and all - I am impressed.  Very restaurant quality.  The food was incredible and much better than the leftovers that typically make up my Sunday meals, which makes me grateful to have received an invite.  I'll be replicating most of this meal in my own apartment, especially the snow peas because I was eating them like potato chips.  All I can say to Andrew is wow.

    Marathon Madness

    Yesterday was one of those great days to be a New Yorker - it was Marathon Sunday!  The New York City Marathon is a great way for runners to test their endurance and a great way for the rest of us to cheer them on and drink.

    We started with mimosas at my apartment and then headed to Sessions 73 to join about a million other 20-somethings who were drinking and pretending to watch the race.  Since my old apartment was on 73rd (and my new one is just about 10 blocks away), I am very familiar with Sessions.  I am most accustomed to going there late night to dance drunkenly to live music; but on race day, the vibe is much crazier.  It gets PACKED.  Shoulder to shoulder, sloppy drunks in droves, and I loved every minute of it...until I realized I couldn't move and I was sufficiently tipsy for a Sunday afternoon so we headed back to the apartment for naptime.

    I know it may be tempting to go crazy on Saturday night and sleep the day away on Sunday.  For one weekend a year, though, I recommend taking it easy on Saturday night so you can wake up and enjoy the Marathon and all the fun that comes with it.
    Not my best picture, but it's the only one I took

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Class is in Session

    "You're alone?  It's just you?  Hmm ooh ahh I don't know what to do..."

    That was the response I got when I checked in at my beer and cheese pairing class at Murray's on Thursday evening.  How dare I try to better myself with an interesting class without a buddy in tow?!  I should have walked in with a sticker on my forhead that read "Newly Single."  Let me explain that you must pre-register for this class so they knew I was coming even if I wasn't part of one of the bigger groups in attendance.  It finally dawned on them that they could seat me between a group and a couple so I shrugged it off, sat down, and got ready to sample some brews and cheese.

    The class was taught by a hippy and a hipster so there was a fun, laid-back atmosphere.  Before this class, I didn't know much about beer so I was a blank slate, ready for the brewmaster (the hippy)'s tutelage.  Not only do I now know what types of beers I like best, I can taste it like a proper beer snob and match it with cheese.  The class was very well organized and came with a course packet that I used to take notes of my faves for future reference.

    I fell in love with some new beers and cheeses.  I also fell in love with this form of higher education.  I may have been the only one who came alone, but that didn't make the beer or cheese taste any less delicious.  They have classes for all sorts of cheese pairing (wine, sherry, etc) that are taught by experts in their respective fields.  In this case, I learned all about beer from the head brewmaster from Chicago-based Goose Island Brewery.

    Like the assiduous student I am, I finished all my beers and cheeses.  A big thanks goes out to my Mommy who treated me to this great class because she knew it would be the perfect way to brighten my spirits.  I highly recommend a Murray's class to just about anyone.  Unless you don't like which case, we're probably not friends.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Better Bread

    If the name of your establishment is Amy's Bread, you better be able to do some amazing things with yeast.  Amy's Bread has always been suggested to me for dessert, but the cupcakes in the case never screamed at me, so I always walked by.  This evening, however, I had some time to kill before attending a cheese class at next door Murray's in the village, so I stopped in to read my book.

    I knew I would get all sorts of menacing looks if I sat down with my book without buying anything, so I ordered a cheddar biscuit.  It was fluffy but still dense, buttery, and every nook was infused with cheese.  I also sampled the three cheese sourdough by the register and had to tell myself the sign said "take one".

    They have so many different types and flavors of bread, and I could make a case for each one to be on my dinner table.  Stop touting this place as a dessert destination.  It's called Amy's BREAD for a reason.

    We Met at Kitchenette

    I met Susan for lunch today so we could discuss the baby shower we're planning for Jen.  Of course, most people don't take random Thursdays off like me, so I met her in TriBeCa near her office.  Since I am completely unfamiliar with the area, I had her pick the place and she chose the perfect spot with Kitchenette.

    First of all, it's adorable.  All the tables are made from old doors that have been painted bright colors.  The whole place was cheery with antiques adorning the walls and tiny black and white tiles coating the floor.  The look may be girly, but there is something for everyone on the menu.

    There are burgers, a huge list of sandwiches, and comfort food like biscuits and meatloaf.  I ordered the tandoori chicken salad which was a plate of greens topped with tomato, cucumber, lentils, nicely spiced chicken, and a tangy yogurt dressing.  I couldn't resist adding a side of mac and cheese to my order.  Although it cancelled out my very healthy salad, I needed some comfort food to warm me up in today's dreary weather.

    I know it will be rare that I trek down to Kitchenette from the UES - it's good but I don't know if it's that special.  But it really made me wish I had a place like this right near my apartment.  It would be the perfect go-to.

    Movie Review x2: Get Him to the Greek AND Life as We Know It

    Get Him to the Greek
    Last night's Netflix was better than expected.  It didn't look like it would have much meat, but within the first few minutes, it became clear that this was from the same guys behind I Love You, Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  P. Diddy is turning into something of an actor.  A real actor.  I mean, the guy was good - probably the best part of the movie.  I still don't think he's been around long enough to have won the honor of being the focus of the "Inside the Actor's Studio" episode I recently watched, but there is big potential there.

    Life as We Know It
    Today on my day off, I decided to pop into a matinee.  It was gross and rainy literally all day, so a chick flick was practically mandatory.  Once again, this film exceeded my expectations.  It fulfilled all rainy day girly requirements: funny, sad, and romantic all rolled into one.

    Tres at Dos Tacos

    I was in the Union Square area for a UGA Alumni board meeting last night, so I decided to grab dinner from Dos Toros on my way home.  With the crazy long line, I knew there had to be something good about the food.

    The menu is small.  Basically you choose your meat (pork, chicken, or steak) and your style (burrito, quesadilla, or taco).  I didn't know which way to go in the way of meat, so I tried all three in taco form.  I got the medium heat sauce on all three, sour cream on one, and guac on two of them.  They also already come with cheese and pico.

    The tortilla is small, but I was amazed at their ability to stuff it full of so much meat.  My favorite was the carnitas (pork), but they were all satisfying.  There was almost too much guac. (I honestly can't believe I just typed that.)  I recommend ordering it on one taco and then split the supply between all of them.  You don't want it to overtake the meat.  They were good but not the best I've ever had (surprising considering the line).  However, at just over $3.50 a pop, they'll work.

    Peels Schpiel

    As much as I've wanted to, I have not yet tried Freeman's Alley.  However, that did not stop me from trying their new sister restaurant, Peels on Tuesday night.  Peels is bringing the South to the Bowery, but it's a fancier, trendier South.  This two story restaurant is all white paint and wood with large lighting fixtures, sort of like a fancy farm.  Take it from me, the South is not so glamorous, but I'll take the added glitz to enjoy this food.

    Instead of bread, we were treated to a small ramekin of pickled veggies (mostly carrots) with crispy flatbread.  The vegetables were very lightly pickled so they would not be overpowering to the pickle haters out there.  It was a welcome change from the bread basket.

    For my entree, I couldn't help but order the fried chicken.  True, fried chicken is the new, fashionable food item of the moment but until recently, it was difficult to track down so I still grab it when I can.  This particular fried foul was extra extra crispy with a good bit of spice in the batter, just the way I like it.  It was served with honey for dipping, which is something they got right - Southerners love honey with their fried chicken.  I'm glad they didn't skip that important detail.

    My entree came with creamed collards, something I've never had before.  It's like if creamed spinach and collards got married.  I am now proud to say I am a big supporter of greens' marriage rights.  Yum.  It also came with squash that was sweet and very smokey.  It was a healthier alternative to the squash casserole my Mom makes, though I can't really talk about being healthy when I'm picking at every bit of fried skin I could find.  I only wish my meal came with a biscuit.  That would have rounded it out perfectly and made it just like home.

    The rest of the menu is not overly Southern.  A few dishes (e.g.: shrimp and grits) are, but don't worry if you're not a soul food person.  There is plenty on the menu you'll the desserts.  I was sad I didn't save room for the over-the-top desserts.  I think next time, I'll take a tip from a girl I saw sitting at the bar who came just for a drink and a massive ice cream concoction.

    Sadly, I didn't get any pics so you'll just have to use your imagination.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Blue Ribbon to Blue Ribbon

    Yesterday, my co-workers and I decided to try a new sushi spot for lunch.  Well, it wouldn't be considered new to anyone other than us who have consistently eaten at the same sushi place for quite some time.  Our office is so close to Blue Ribbon that it's a shame we haven't tried it sooner.

    The high price tag was a deterrent, but I can now say that sometimes it's worth it.  I ordered the sashimi because I feel it's the best way to get an idea of the fish quality.  No bells and whistles.  No tempura or spicy mayo to camouflage what may not be the best fish.  It was great.  I even loved the salmon, which is not usually my first choice when I go for sushi.  I now believe that every once in a while it's nice to splurge because this blew my usual sashimi platter out of the water.

    We ordered a couple appetizers like shumai and edamame, but the best app was the black cod.  Miso had soaked into the crispy top and the flesh melted in my mouth.  The price was a tad prohibitive so we didn't order everything on the menu like we would have at our other go-to sushi place, but it was worth it to me to eat a little less to get so much more in quality.  Not a place to go every day, but I'm glad we could sneak Blue Ribbon into our lunch schedule this week.


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