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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Street Fighter Sustenance

Last night, I went to one of my favorite gym classes, Street Fighter.  If that makes me sound like a badass, it’s only because I am one.  Anyway, because the class ended late and I knew I would have to make a stop to fill my empty fridge, I knew I would be eating a very late dinner so I needed it to be an easy one.

I was able to grab a variety of veggies from the bodega (squash, zucchini, broccoli, and bell peppers – basically, I made sure it was colorful).  I drizzled some olive oil and seasoning on top and roasted with a clove of garlic while the couscous did its thing in the rice cooker and I hopped in the shower.  By the time I was out of the shower and settled in comfy clothes, the veggies and couscous were both ready.  I took a couple of the roasted bell pepper pieces and the roasted garlic clove and put them in a blender with 0% Greek yogurt to make a nice little sauce. 

I was surprised how flavorful this dish was, considering how easy it was to prepare and how few ingredients I used.  I must admit, I added some goat cheese at the last minute.  I know that decreases the health factor slightly, but I figured I was entitled after my hard workout and otherwise healthy dish.  I took a pic of both versions.  Do with that what you will; but in my experience, there is nothing that isn't made better with cheese.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential

I had read bits and pieces of Anthony Bourdain's memoir before, so I knew what I was getting into. There are so many "does this really happen?!" moments that I believe actually ring true. Does the rampant drug use behind the kitchen doors of the finest restaurants bother me? A bit, yes. Did I still love learning about it? Absolutely.

Since everyone is into food nowadays, restaurants are viewed as glamorous enterprises where every aspiring foodie deserves a role. Bourdain makes sure everyone knows that is not true. He is blunt and funny and put my views on the restaurant industry into perspective. Sure, I still consider myself the type of foodie that annoys Bourdain, but at least now I understand how he feels about me.

Points deducted because the book was mostly chronological. That means the parts where he skipped around in time were a little bothersome. I also wish there was a little more background on his life outside of the kitchen, mostly because I have zero clue how his wife put up with him.

7 out of 10 stars

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cool as a Cucumber

When I finally got the chance to cook this week, I wanted to make something to remind me of the warm weather we should be experiencing.  Unfortunately, it's been cool and rainy lately so I needed to create springtime in my kitchen.

For the main course, I made the sorts of things that are easy to throw together quickly: meatloaf and cous cous.  Don't laugh, but I love meat loaf and I don't really get why so many people hate on it.  I made both of the items more interesting by changing up the ingredients so I would wind up with more/different flavor without spending any additional time on the meal.  For the meatloaf, I used lamb instead of beef, added goat cheese to the mix, and topped with a mediterranean red pepper spread instead of the usual ketchup/brown sugar.  Simple swaps, but I wound up with a completely new dish.  For the cous cous, I tossed in dried cranberries and pine nuts just as it finished cooking.  I'm not usually a fan of fruit mixed in with the savory items, but I'm really starting to warm to it - this, in particular, was very good.

The appetizer is where I was really going for the Springtime vibe.  Knowing I wanted to make this appetizer is the reason I went to the grocery store in the first place.  The rest of the meal, though good, was just filler.  I know that's how people usually think about cucumber - as filler, a mere flavorless crunch on top of their salad or in their sushi.  I, on the other hand, happen to love cucumber.  Is refreshing a flavor?  Because cucumber just screams refreshing.  I put a bunch of cucumber in a blender with a little avocado and greek yogurt and pureed til smooth.  The pastel green looked gorgeous and calming against the white bowl.  I garnished with very thinly sliced radishes and a few shrimp.  This is a great way to start any Spring/Summer meal and can be made in less than the time it takes waiting for the main course to finish cooking.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Domo Arigato Mr. Robata

A new restaurant recently opened across the street from my office, right next to the strip club.  The fact that you could easily walk into Flashdancers by mistake should not discourage you from trying Mr. Robata.  The sushi is supposed to be wonderful since the restaurant is the work of a Sushi Yasuda protege; however, I decided to go with the robata.  I figured it was worth trying since it's part of the restaurant name.

We started with edamame for the table that I would highly recommend for edamame lovers.  Edamame is always good to munch on if other people want to order it, but this was better than normal - it was grilled after it had been boiled, so it had a nice smokey char and a cajun-type spice.  For my entree, I had the seafood set, which included salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, onion, and asparagus - all prepared on the robata charcoal grill.  Everything was grilled perfectly and came with five different dipping sauces (my favorite!). I can't remember all the dips, but I recall there was a wasabi cream, a very tasty passionfruit ponzu, and a teriyaki ginger.  At first I thought $26 was rather expensive, but it came with a particularly good salad (the fennel made it stand out) and miso soup.  If I had gone out for sushi, I would have easily spent that much.  It may be a lot for lunch, but a great place to keep in mind for dinner since it's slim pickins in the Theater District...unless you still want to hit up Flashdancers.  Hey, I heard they make some mean chicken fingers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ipp Ipp Hooray

Ippudo may be a prevalent chain in Japan, but in the US there is but one location - a beacon in the East Village.  Critics don't usually review chain restaurants, so when the Frank Bruni of the Times not only visited Ippudo in 2009 but gave it a star, I knew there must be something special.

I don't usually go out on Monday nights but made the exception for this ramen.  Since there is always a super long wait, we all went home after work, with Sasha stopping by the restaurant at 6:45 (she lives nearby) so that we could eat at 8:15.  Yes, there is an hour and a half wait even on a Monday night.  Don't let that discourage you; just prepare for it.  It's worth putting your name on the list and running errands/getting coffee nearby and they'll call your cell when your table is ready.

We started with the Japanese cucumber mixed with sesame oil dressing.  Doesn't sound special, but it was. The cucumber was crisp and the spices were yum yum yummy.  Next up we got the steamed buns (pork, chicken, and shrimp).  Pork buns are probably my favorite Japanese appetizer and these were made with a well balanced sauce and light sticky buns.  We also got one of the appetizer specials - yellowtail carpaccio with broccoli rabe, lemon, and oil.  I was nervous about the broccoli rabe.  I thought it would be too bitter and firm to work with the light fish, but after having been marinated, it stood back and let the yellowtail take center stage.

The appetizers are good, but the ramen is the star.  If you don't want to get ramen, don't go - you don't deserve to take up space in the restaurant.  There are several different options, but I went with the Modern.  It was similar to the original but had a miso paste on the top.  I added a boiled egg and side of spicy paste that the waitress suggested would be a better, more flavorful option than getting the spicy ramen.  I am a big fan of Hide-Chan Ramen.  They probably beat Ippudo in the pork department; however, the broth at Ippudo was slurp-worthy. I usually think soup has to be creamy to be good, but there is something special about this broth. The miso and spicy pastes take it to a whole new place.  I'm already thinking of errands I need to run near Astor Place so I have an excuse to go back.

Poco Party

Last weekend I celebrated Lindsay's birthday with a boozy brunch at Poco in the East Village.  For $25, you get your choice of entree + three drinks.  Since I had gone out pretty hard both Friday and Saturday nights, I decided to go with just the entree.  That was probably a bad idea because I probably would have enjoyed the food a little more if I had a drink.

Don't get me wrong; the food was good...but it wasn't great.  I ordered the salmon blt that came with apple instead of the avocado advertised on the menu and needed a little extra sauce.  I did, however, like the plantain chips on the side.  It was a fine sandwich, but not worth the $15 I paid.

I have been looking to try Poco for a long time, so even though it did not live up to my expectation, I'm glad I could cross it off my list and - most importantly - share a fun brunch with friends.  Then again, maybe my expectations were unrealistic because everyone I have talked to is shocked I didn't leave the restaurant absolutely obsessed.  What do I know.

A Classic Party

This past weekend, I participated in the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, an annual festival celebrating cocktail culture.  As you can see by the logo below, they have already announce next year's date, and I am counting down.

I heard about the event through Emily, who was planning to go with her roommates and friends.  There are plenty of events over a 5-day time period, but the event I went with was the 80s Bash at Skylight West, a loft event space.  Basically, it was a bunch of fun-loving New Yorkers getting together to have some hors d'ouvres and drinks - in 80s gear (which I now know is alarmingly prevalent at H&M).  The $50 event lasted four hours, which gave me plenty of time to mingle and take advantage of the open bar.

The best part of the event was when we realized we had access to the roof, which had a breathtaking view of Manhattan.  Emily and a few others had participated in the opening night, black tie gala at the New York Public Library and after looking at their pictures and hearing their stories, I have decided it's worth it to add this pricier event to my agenda next year.

There are so many events like this around the city, and it is my new goal to participate as often as possible, like a true New Yorker.  It's great going to your local dive bar, but attending an event like this will cost you about the same amount and will shake (not stir) your weekend up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tacos at Tehuitzingo

Everyone loves a good secret and Tehuitzingo is one of the best.  At first glance, Tehuitzingo is nothing more than a bodega on 10th Avenue stocking Mexican grocery items, but if you walk to the back, there is suddenly a rocking restaurant that has managed to squeeze in everything but a mariachi band into about 30 square feet.  

When someone prefaces a restaurant recommendation with "this place is pretty sketchy but...," it does not inspire confidence in the food.  On our way over to the "restaurant"we formed our Plan B for lunch in case we were just too scared of the food that came out of this place.  When we got inside, it seemed harmless enough and the mix of Mexican and banker clientele seemed to indicate that the food had proven itself.     

There are plenty of different tacos to choose from, but we went with beef and chicken and then poured on all of the different hot sauces available and pickled peppers and carrots.  The flavor of the meat was great, especially the chicken, and the corn tortillas were moist.  Three tacos did the trick for me (and at only $2.50 per taco, it's a relatively cheap lunch.  Every item in this bodega is authentic Mexican, even in the non-restaurant, grocery section, so we each tried a different Mexican drink (I went with guava juice mmm).  We decided the only thing the tacos needed would be a little sour cream.  Maybe "needed" isn't the right word because they were seriously good already, but it would have been nice.  

This place is legit.  Next time someone tells me about a sketchy place, I'm just gonna go for it, no questions asked.  I debated not telling y'all about it because I wanted to keep it a secret, but I figured you deserved to know.  Now if you don't take advantage of this knowledge, I'll be very disappointed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 5/10/11 Episode

I wish my prom was as good as Glee prom.  At 25, I am jealous of a fake high school prom.  Lame?  Moving on to the recap…

  •          +1 to Blaine and Mr. Hummel for being upfront and realistic with Kurt while discussing his prom outfit.  I respect that Kurt is now out and proud, but it does seem like he’s trying to create unnecessary dramz.
  •         Instead of jumping at the opportunity to work the prom, Will says the glee club needs to prep for Nationals – they still have a ton of taffy to sell.  -1 because he still hasn’t realized that selling taffy will never earn enough money to cover 12 kids’ travel and accommodations.
  •         Sue tells Will he should apologize to America for “Run Joey Run” +1+1 again for Rachel requesting to sing it at Prom.      
  • I’ve said it plenty of times in these recaps, but the worst episodes are the ones with forced themes.  +1 for having Sam echo our sentiments when he sees Will scroll “prom” on the board and fears for an assignment of prom-themed songs.
  •         Kurt asks Blaine to prom by addressing him as Blaine Warbler, like Warbler is his last name.  +1
  •       Karofsky on Bully Whip patrol: “No burning Liberace mannequins, over.” +1 for that and his touching apology to Kurt/tortured soul
  •        Santana plans to move to a lesbian colony or Tribeca when they get to New York.  Tribeca?  -1 because she would definitely move to Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen, duh.   
  •         +2 for songs.  All were good and fitting.  Bravo. 

Total: 6 --> This episode was the diva equivalent of Barbara Streisand because she epitomizes the sad underdog.  Between the Carrie-esque prom queen scene with Kurt, Karofsky's tearful apology, and all the lovelorn folks of this episode, there was a lot of sad in this episode.  Only Barbara (and Glee) can make those tragic underdogs so endearing.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mastering with the Microwave

It had been a long time since I'd cooked a full meal for myself so I made sure there was some cookin' going on in my kitchen on Sunday night.  One of the culinary skills that has eluded me is poaching an egg. I've ruined many eggs in my attempt to make those cloud-like sauce pockets.  I even tried watching a video on You Tube, but nothing helped.  How are so many people working in diners across the country unable to speak English but can make perfect eggs to order?

I figured out their secret: the microwave.  All you do is gently crack an egg into 1/2 cup of water, cover the bowl with a saucer and microwave on high for 1 minute.  I'll admit, I was leery.  I assumed there was no possible way an egg would cook properly in the microwave and not give me salmonella.  But after I learned this was how they did it in restaurants, I gave it a shot.  It worked.  I still cant believe it, but I created two perfectly cooked poached eggs in the microwave.  This just opened my eyes to all the brunch possibilities I can make in my very own kitchen.

We'll save brunch for next time.  For Sunday night's dinner, I went with a frisee salad, topped with bacon, shrimp, and a quick dijon vinaigrette.  I kept the vinaigrette light because the broken poached eggs serve as the dressing.  In addition to learning how to poach eggs, I learned frisee is not my favorite lettuce.  Sure, it looks fancy and fun, but it's just not my fave.  The firm texture and bitter taste stood up to the rich egg, but it's still not the best lettuce in the bunch in my humble, less evolved opinion.  This is unfortunate, because I have a huge carton of it leftover.  Lettuce aside, this was a dang good salad.  And let's be honest - you eat a salad for the toppings anyway.

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 5/9/11 Episode

I have to say, Gossip Girl sucked me back in last night - and not just because of Cyrus Rose's return.  Since I'm so happy about liking a GG episode again, let's jump right into the recap:

  • Why would Charlie spill out all pills and the bottle in plain sight?  At least cover it with kleenex or something in a vain attempt to cover your tracks.  More importantly, if you're going to throw away the bottle anyway, what was the point of spilling out the pills first?  That seems unnecessary.
  • Blair knows her princess status is shaky at best so why is she meeting up with Chuck when Louis' mother is still in town?  After getting engaged is one thing, but why did she need to warn him about his Uncle Jack in person?  It seems like a text would have sufficed.
  • Did anyone else catch Wallace Shaun's princess bride reference?  Aaah I loved it.
  • I know Nate wants to be a good guy by telling Raina the truth about her Dad.  I also think he couldn't think of a good enough lie in time.  But does he really think it's a good idea to tell the deep dark secret of a man who has now been proven to be a murderer?
  • NYC private schools may have formal fundraising events, but I've never seen one with a red carpet.  Am I shattering anyone's perception of the UES?
  • Is it just me, or for a split second did it seem like Dan was going to ignore Charlie's single white female-esque "call me Serena" request and keep trying to have sex with her?
Well it looks like next week will be a doozy - can't wait!

I'll Go Back to Brooklyn

I am so happy the Brooklyn Flea decided to make Williamsburg its new home for the Sunday flea market.  I love a good adventure, but I love it even more when it's an easy subway ride away.  There were so many great vendors - food and otherwise.  I stayed until I ran out of cash, which brings me to my next point: Rachael Ray can suck it.

As some of you may recall, Rachael Ray used to have a show on Food Network called $40 A Day, where she would travel to some city and show you all the fun you could have with just forty bucks.  I walked into the flea with two 20s in my pocket, and I'm pretty sure I did more with it than that E.V.O.O.-loving gal could have ever done.

I started by browsing the non-food vendors while I worked up an appetite.  I walked away with a switchplate cover made out of a record and a cameo ring.  That took up exactly half of my funds.  That would have been a meal and a half for Rach and I'll have these trinkets forever.  Round one goes to me.

Once I had my new home decor and jewelry, it was time to eat.  There were a ton of food vendors so I had to make some tough decisions.  There was a huge line for Red Hook Lobster Pound and their $15, good but tiny lobster rolls.  Amateurs.  I decided to start with a pupusa from Solber Pupusas.  Pupusas are stuffed, grilled tortillas (I chose pork and cheese) that are served with pickled cabbage, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa ($4, with a discount for combos).  This was the first time I had heard of the El Salvadorian street food and I loved it, particularly all the fixins.  I can already tell you I'll be dragging my brother to the Brooklyn Flea next time he visits just so he can taste this because I know it would be right up his alley.
There was a long line for Asia Dog, one of this season's breakout stars, but I was holding on to my pupusa so I didn't want to wait in a line.  I know I'll have to try Asia Dog soon, but I'm not a major hot dog girl anyway [gasp!] so I wasn't devastated that Sunday wasn't the day.  I think sausages are hot dogs that have grown into themselves, so when I saw Brooklyn Bangers - a vendor I had never heard of - I decided to make it course number two.  I got the seasonal rampwurst ($8) and could tell it was a very well made sausage; however, I wish it had a little more spice.  I know not all sausages are supposed to be spicy, but that's how I like them.  
I needed a little dessert, and although Dough (purveyor of uniquely flavored doughnuts) was calling my name, they were too big for me.  Even though they were only $2 each, I decided to resist until I can share one with someone.  Instead, I found the Liddabit Sweets stand.  They had homemade candy bars in all sorts of flavors, jellies, and various caramels.  Everything looked good, especially the King candy bar and beer-pretzel caramels, but I decided to go with sea salt caramels because that's one treat that's just too darn hard for me to pass up.  I got six caramels for $5.25, ate one as my dessert and brought the rest home.  Well, I brought the rest on the subway and finished them off before I made it back to my apartment.

If you're keeping track, I had spent $17.25 on food, which meant there was only $2.75 left in my pocket and I was thirsty.  Why settle for a coke when you can quench your thirst with something even more fun?  The popsicles from People's Pops may be $3.50, but the shaved to order ice is only $2.50.  Their flavors are somewhat uncommon and always refreshing.  I went with bartlett pear.  It was the perfect end to my meal and I slurped it up North 6th while thinking about how much better I am at spending $40 than Rachael Ray.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sandwich Heaven

I have written about No. 7 Subs before.  Usually, I don't repeat restaurant reviews, but No. 7 deserves it.  In my opinion, No. 7 Subs should be in charge of making all sandwiches in the world from here on out.  Everything they make is amazing and as long as they keep changing the menu to keep up with the seasons, I'll keep spreading the gospel.

Yesterday seemed like a good park day so I packed a blanket and headed to Central Park.  No. 7 Subs is not on the way, but it's good enough that I don't mind taking the subway a few stops in the opposite direction.  I couldn't decide which sandwich to get so I gave the cashier my top three options and he told me to go with the asparagus.  Of the three, this seemed like it was the least exciting/funky sandwich but I was anxious to get to the park so I went with the recommendation without giving it a second thought.

When I got to the park, I realized I needed some extra reading material so I stopped by The Strand to pick up some books.  Though I do love the actual storefront and all 18 miles of books that can be found there, the tables they set up at the bottom of the park were much more convenient.  I picked up four books at 1/2 price (which made me feel better about not going to Barnes & Noble, where I am a member) and a tote.  I have seen people walking around with these totes that sport their iconic logo for four years, so now I feel like a true New Yorker.

I found a great spot in the park that was only mildly tainted by the trashy parents lounging next to me who kept yelling at their kids.  Once settled, I opened up my sandwich and hunkered down.  Inside the crispy french bread was asparagus, granny smith apple, cashews, cilantro, and mayo.  If all meat-free food tasted this good, I would become a vegetarian.  The roasted asparagus was sturdy enough to take the place of the meat and the tart apples brought the sandwich into funville.  Amazing.

A fantastic sandwich, a stack of books, perfect weather, and the beauty of Central Park - THK's perfect Saturday.


Friday was a glorious Spring day, made even more glorious by my early departure from work.  We all finished our work fast enough to leave at 5:00, which meant I had over two and a half hours to kill before babysitting.  Since my babysitting job was on the UWS, it made most sense not to go home so I strolled Columbus Ave and checked out the neighborhood while looking for a place to eat.  

The area was full of cute restaurants, but I needed to find just the right place where it wouldn't be weird to eat alone.  I didn't feel the right chemistry until I circled back to nearly where I started.  I had heard good things about Ed's Chowder House in the Empire Hotel (and for those Gossip Girl watchers out there, yes, it's the same Empire Hotel), but I was reluctant to pay those hotel restaurant prices for easy-going seafood.

The food is the beach food you love and expect from summer on the East Coast but served on real plates.  I walked in without a reservation, which would have posed a problem had I not been dining alone, amenable to eating at the bar.  So I saddled up at to the bar and started scanning the menu.  Everyone was sipping on some sort of cocktail, so I figured I would do the same.  The $15 cocktail is what drove up my bill, but the pineapple ginger mojito was very good (and thankfully downed with enough time to metabolize before I had to care for an infant).  I knew I couldn't go to a chowder house without sampling the chowder, so I was happy to see that I could get a little taste with my main course for only $3.  It was a small, teacup-sized portion, but it was just enough.  It was not the chunky, ocean flavored chowder I was expecting, but it was still tasty enough.  For my entree, I ordered the crab cake sandwich and was pleased with the result, especially the bowl of spicy pickled veggies on the side.

Everything was very good, but I wasn't all too happy to be spending $36 (pre-tip) for what I usually find being sold out of a pile of boards on the beach.  True, a large portion of that bill was due to my cocktail, but still, not fun to shell out that kinda money for simple food.  However, that's why I babysit.  If I wasn't making a little extra mad money, I would have stuck with a sure thing - but that's not any fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 5/3/11 Episode

I was a little leery of a Fleetwood Mac episode.  I was sorely disappointed by the Britney episode, but this was much better than I expected.

  • Though I thought the songs actually fit well (much better than other themed episodes), I thought it was a little odd to use Fleetwood Mac when "Landslide" was just featured, like, two episodes ago.  -1 for lack of forethought, but +1 because they acknowledged it.  Wash.
  • +2 for "Fondue for Two", mostly because of Brittany's logical conclusion that Lord Tubbington can eat scalding hot cheese because he's on Atkins.  
  • Sue pays for her mocha powder with Euros: +1.
  • I'm glad Quinn is keeping Sam's secret, but after cheating on two boyfriends in a row, why does she think she deserves trust, no questions asked?  +1 because that's exactly how high school divas think.
  • This offer to be in April Rhodes' show should not be tearing up Shu.  -1.  Can't he just go to Broadway after he takes New Directions to nationals?  Plus, aren't Nationals in know, where Broadway is?
  • There were two close-up shots of tots in this episode.  +1 to the writers for sneaking in this reference to a past episode.
Total: 4--> This week's episode is the diva equivalent of Lauren Hill.  I'm pretty sure there was some major dramz within the Fugees, but once she/they start singing, it seems to fade away because the music is full of such good emotion.

Unanswered Questions: Gossip Girl Recap - 5/2/11 Episode

Because I lapped up every moment of the royal wedding, I was happy to extend my royal dream as far as possible with this week's GG episode.  As unlikely it may be that a real prince is bouncing around the UES with a 20 year old and giving her a honking ring, there are other questions we need to tackle:

  • When Serena walks in on Blair and Louis, she says it's 2:00 so she started her day hours ago.  Why does she say this like it's a given?  Serena does absolutely nothing all day.  She doesn't go to class (unless she's hot for teacher) so I'm pretty sure she doesn't usually get out of bed until it's time to get dressed for whatever party is going down at the end of the respective episode.
  • Nate makes the distinction between a smoking jacket and robe to Chuck...aren't those basically the same thing?
  • Why did Blair choose that kinky hairstyle when she goes to meet Louis' royal parents?  Not her best and will definitely not impress the Grimaldis.
  • Why is Blair still wearing her heels long after leaving the party?  After being shamed in front of royalty, I would have at least put on fuzzy slippers.
  • Is Serena's gossip radar down?  The Serena who attended Constance would have already realized Charlie's life is the one that needs ruining, not Blair's.  
  • Why is Raina so mad at Chuck?  She seems to be overreacting a bit and her anger is way misdirected.  
  • Why did Charlie think it was ok to swipe Lily's credit card and charge thousands of dollars on Per Se caviar, catering, and crystal?  More importantly, after realizing how much [of somebody else's money] Charlie just spent, how could Rufus just waste that amazing , top-rated Zagat food and take the band out to a restaurant?

Book Review: Something Borrowed/Something Blue

My idea of a beach read is a collection of raunchy essays.  Unlike most girls, I'm not one for chick lit, but I had heard enough raves about these books that I figured I would pick them up before going to an advanced screening of the film adaptation I had RSVP'd to (which I thought was a cute rom-com and now love John Krasinski who is free to leave his wife for me any day).

I thought the books were cute enough and definitely improved after the first 50 pages.  They are mindless reads that thankfully had a somewhat realistic ending (I'm thinking more of the first one, here).  The second one was more predictable and included too much label-dropping.  (After the first 17 mentions of Prada, I figured it out - you're hot to trot.)

I don't see myself devouring other books in the girly girl category, but it was a nice break from all the serious things I've been doing/reading lately.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Modern PB&J

A couple weeks ago, I was watching one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, and was struck with inspiration.  In this particular episode, flamboyantly gay Cam is hijacking a middle school musical and his boyfriend, Mitchell, brings him a pb&j in an attempt to be supportive.  Of course, a crazy gay man won't eat peanut butter and jelly, and we soon learn the sandwich is actually pear, brie, and jambon.

I thought the sandwich sounded so delicious, so when I was at the Union Square Green Market yesterday, I picked up some fresh sourdough and the other ingredients to re-create the sandwich.  So simple and yet such a perfect meal.  Sweet, juicy, salty, creamy - all rolled into one.

It was so good, I made it again today.  Get on this one - you'll love it.

In at 'inoteca

Friday night started innocently enough with a happy hour at Verlaine with the girls.  I've been to Verlaine plenty at night, as it is located in the middle of a prime LES strip, but I always forget they have a pretty solid happy hour deal.  The happy hour crowd is not as good as the nighttime crew, but I didn't really care when I had my gals and my choice of $5 lychee martinis and bloody marys and $3 Yeunglings.

After a couple drinks, we decided to head to dinner.  We hadn't made reservations but there are so many restaurants in the area and it was early so we knew we wouldn't have a problem.  We decided on 'inoteca, which is a Lower East Side favorite for Italian small plates where I had shamefully never eaten.  We ordered a bottle of wine from the extensive menu and then set about deciding what food to order.  When we walked in, we saw a list of 28 cheeses so we knew we would have to start with a cheese plate.  You can order three, five, seven, or nine cheeses and guess which plate size we went with...if you were thinking anything less than nine, you have not read nearly enough of my blog entries.  There were so many to choose from so we let the waiter do the picking and he did a wonderful job.  We also ordered a plate of prosciutto; a salad of watercress and grapefruit; beets with orange, pecorino, mint, and hazelnuts; and rabbit canneloni.  Everything was delicious, but I think my favorites had to be the cheese and the beets.

After dinner, we still wanted to get another drink so we started wandering around the Lower East Side.  This is the point of the evening when we walked into Babeland, a sex toy shop.  I couldn't even tell you what possessed us to walk in, but I'm blaming it on the wine.  I was like a fish out of water.  There were so many colorful things to look at and I had no idea what any of them were supposed to be used for.  That was good for a nice chuckle and distraction before we stumbled into the next locale, Epstein's.  After a drink and an attempted pick-up by a bearded man, it was time for Steph and Marcy to call it a night.  But I wasn't done yet, oh no.  I headed over to 200 Orchard to meet Wendy for her co-workers birthday where I downed a shot and another drink or two.  The bar was perfectly set up for a birthday party, so if you're looking for a place to turn a year older, this is a good one to keep in mind.

Considering I started my evening at about 5:45, I was completely done by 1:00 AM.  Friday, I OWNED you.

Passover Play-by-Play: Day 8

I think the reason it took me so long to recap my final day of Passover is because the second it was over, I was ready to forget about it.  I have already forgotten what I had for lunch that day, but I'm betting it was something along the salad line.  Dinner, however, I can not forget.

It is Konter tradition to break Passover with pizza.  It is the easiest way to break all the rules in one bite.  You finally get to eat bread with the crust, mix milk and meat together, and it pork with the pepperoni.  This year, I found myself without a buddy to break bread with, so I went to the gym and brought pizza back to my apartment.  Since I was all alone, I decided to up the ante.  I didn't just go to the pizza joint around the corner, I went to Tiella for the namesake appetizer cast-iron pan pizza-esque creations.  Normal toppings just wouldn't do, so I got one with mussels and buffalo mozzarella and another with stracciatella, prosciutto, and black truffle.  The seafood one was good, but the black truffle was pungently delicious.  It was better than my usual post-Passover pizza.  For dessert, I cooked up mango sticky rice from Trader Joe's.  It's pretty ridiculous that this treat came from a frozen box.

I am so happy I don't have to think about this holiday for another year.  It was tough, but I'm glad I stuck with it.  As expected, I was able to get creative with my cooking; but most importantly, it was a test of tenacity that I passed.

Gleecap: Diva-meter - 4/26/11 Episode

Last week's Glee was an hour and a half which means an extra 30 minutes of awesomeness.  So much good stuff goin on in the latest episode so let's get to it:
  • Great line off the bat from Santana: "I hear Rachel's got a bit of a schnoz.  I wouldn't know because like Medusa I try to avoid eye contact with her." That in addition to her diatribe on Finn's custard filled nipples earns a +1.
  • I'm glad Emma accepts her ginger heritage, especially because it means we get to hear all sorts of interesting ginger facts like they "smell like copper" and "can get a sunburn indoors at night." +1
  • Quinn is SO happy to be helping Rachel with her nose job "I'm surprised more girls haven't asked me.  My nose is awesome!"  Bitchy, self-involved Quinn is the best!  +1
  • Karofsky: "I was just seeing what jeans he was wearing" Santana: "Like that's any less gay."  Very true, Santana: +1
  • Auntie 'Tana tells Karofsky she's not ready to "start eating jicama or get a flattop...maybe in junior college."  +1 not so much for the line, but because she already knows she's only going to junior college.
  • Bully Whips outfits include berets. +1  Additionally, it seems like Karofsky is starting to get a little nicer - I don't think it's all an act.  I'm hoping this is paving the way for him to come back to glee club because I liked him in the Thriller episode.
  • Karofsky's dad called homosexuals "The Gays." +1
  • "Somewhere Only We Know" sort of fit, but not nearly as well as the other songs this episode.  It was very well sung by the Warblers; however, I'm giving a -2 because Blaine randomly starts playing the piano.  He doesn't do a great job faking it and why is there a piano outside anyway?
  • Is it bad that I agree with Quinn.  She was dealt a bad lot, was extremely unhappy so she did something about it.  Not gonna lie, I've been there so I see nothing wrong with what she did.  -1 to Glee writers for making it seem wrong to tweak your appearance.  It's only wrong if you're ugly on the inside.
  • Overall, song choice gets a +1 for performance and relevance, but the mash-up of "Unpretty" and "I Feel Pretty" was particularly poignant and earned an additional +1.
  • Best shirt: Puck's "I'm with Stupid [arrow pointing to penis]" +1
Total --> 7: This week's episode was the diva equivalent of Jessie J.  Sure, she's new to the scene, but her sound is unique and her songs' messages are usually uplifting, much like this episode.  


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