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Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. I have no problem eating meat or wearing leather as long as the animal's population is not in danger and it is actually going to good use.  Killing tigers for social status, however, is not something I'm cool with.
  2. There is a science to flirting and nailing it will go further than looking hot.
  3. For those who complain they're just too busy to volunteer, here are some out of the box ideas.
  4. Say hello to Anne Hidalgo, Paris' first ever female mayor.

Book Review: The Silent Wife

This book is very upfront about the fact that Jodi kills her husband.  It tells you right from the outset.  The rest of the book alternates between his and her perspectives to determine if the killing was warranted.  Todd cheats on Jodi all the time so Jodi seems in the right...but she knows he cheats and is ok with it as long as it's in a don't ask don't tell manner so does she really have a right to get upset?

While the book starts off as a poor man's Gone Girl.  A murder cuts through a seemingly perfect marriage and the story is told in alternating points of view.  That sounds familiar.  But while Gone Girl thrives on shocking twists and turns, The Silent Wife focuses more on the "why" of it all.  What makes Jodi decide that she suddenly needs to take action against her husband?  Why does Todd feel the need to cheat?  Will he ever feel happy?  Will she feel remorse?

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Breslin

I was a big fan of The Spotted Pig so I walked into The Breslin expecting a good meal.  A good meal is just what I got.  Don't you just hate when things turn out just as you'd hoped?  

I liked the vibe from the moment I walked inside.  Even though it's located in the swanky Ace Hotel (a trendy hotel that thrives in a less than trendy neighborhood), The Breslin is anything but modern in appearance.  The paint on the tall ceilings is almost all chipped off and an old armoire has been re-purposed as the bar.  Though I'm sure every one of those details has been well planned, it seems off the cuff like they're not trying too hard.  The same goes for the food.  I understand the feeling because I, too, am awesome.  I was born that way.

As with The Spotted Pig, I had heard a lot about The Breslin's burger.  Though they already have an established recipe that draws people to The Spotted Pig daily, they challenged themselves to do the same thing but with a completely different flavor profile.  Instead of beef and roquefort, The Breslin's burger is made with lamb and feta.  It is fabulous.  It's served with plump fries and cumin mayo.  Eating it was truly a delightful experience.  We also tried the scotch egg, which was as good as I expected knowing chef April Bloomfield's skew toward fatty and fried foods.  I liked the flavor of the bombay mix snack but didn't like that it was basically fish food in terms of size and shape.  Not easy to eat.  I would skip it, though I think it would be nice to have it at home to sprinkle on top of salad or mashed potatoes.  You may see caesar salads everywhere, but I strongly recommend eating this one.  It has fried herbs and anchovy croutons.  It was probably the best caesar salad I've ever had.  We also tried the burrata salad and though I love burrata I would still go with the caesar.  Not that it was a bad salad, but the caesar can't be missed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3 on Thursday

Who's got fun plans for the weekend?!  I don't yet have my weekend planned, but I'm looking forward to figuring it out on the fly.
Background: Shout out to my 'hood!

  1. My Uncle Skip was in town last weekend and while he was here we went to City Winery to see Paula Poundstone.  I had watched Paula Poundstone on HBO Comedy Central when I was young and loved to see her - even in 2014 - walk on stage wearing her trademark tie, high waisted pants, and suspenders.  Comedy shows are always a good change of pace, but it was particularly nice to see one at City Winery where the food and drink is a step (or 3) above that of comedy clubs.
  2. It may be immature, but I found this delineation of shufflepuck teams amusing.
  3. Last week I went to Fogo de Chao.  It's one of those Brazilian steakhouses where they just bring you meat as long as your coaster is showing the green side.  I tried all 16 cuts of meat plus two trips to the salad bar.  The next morning I was meat sick.  That's an actual feeling.  This kind of overindulgence can only happen every 15 years or so. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chicken Sausage with Grilled Veggies

One of the things I love most about Trader Joe's is their sample station.  It's rare to find samples in grocery stores in the first place so it's a nice treat mid-shop.  At the Union Square location, the store is so packed that you actually shop the outside ring of the store while you're waiting in the checkout line, which snakes all the way to the front door.  The sample station is at the 3/4 point, which means it brings you back to life.  It's like the people who hand out little cups of Gatorade to marathon runners.  "You can do it!  You're almost to the register!" they cheer from the sidelines. 

The other reason I like the sample station is because they show you how to best use the Trader Joe's products.  Their demonstration usually combines multiple products so you can see how to make a real meal out of them.  If you use one product alone, you're just heating up something frozen.  Anyone can do that.  But combining two items takes it to a whole new level.  Suddenly, you did more than just reheat.  You cooked...sort of. 

The latest combo I discovered at the sample station was chicken sausage with the frozen marinated grilled eggplant and zucchini.  You could make the veggies yourself by covering them with olive oil and some season-all (like salt, pepper,  garlic, oregano) and grilling/roasting them. It's a healthy, low-carb meal. Did I mention it took exactly 6 minutes to throw together? (Even if you do the veggies yourself you'll be ready to eat in less than 30.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tortellini with Goat Cheese Sauce

I had been snacking on my latest cheese purchase, a goat cheese rolled in smoked paprika (I think) but decided I wanted to do something more with it than put it on crackers.  The paprika gave it such a unique smoky flavor (one I don't associate with the tang of goat cheese) that I thought it would be put to good use as a sauce over pasta.

Because goat cheese has a pretty strong flavor, I wanted to make sure the sauce was very light so I just blended the cheese in a saucepan with milk.  Using milk instead of cream will keep the sauce thin enough to just keep the pasta from sticking together and evenly distribute the flavor.  Just heat it over medium with some salt til it starts to reduce a bit.  I used Trader Joe's perline pasta with prosciutto, which look like little purses so the fashionista in me was happy.  I really wanted to wilt some arugula in there (spinach just seemed so been there done that) but because of arugula's strong peppery flavor I also wanted some small, sweet peas for balance so I warmed those in the sauce as well.  The arugula was still very strong (I may recommend watercress if you think it's too much) but I liked that there was a clear green flavor in this dish.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. Nobody wants to give the "useful" gift when creative and sentimental presents get all the oohs and ahhs.  It may not be flashy, but practical gifts are what people really want to receive.
  2. The BRCA gene has helped identify those at high risk for breast cancer, but now it may also help diagnose those who could later develop an extremely aggressive type of uterine cancer.
  3. Who cares about window vs. aisle seat when you could be next to your mentor on a plane?
  4. You may learn something new about your favorite brands.

Sweetwater Social

I get what they're trying to do at Sweetwater Social.  They want to give you the best of both worlds.  In one place you can have high end cocktails and low end games.  It may be the only place with a shufflepuck table and drinks fancy enough to be served with those giant ice cubes.  I really appreciate the attempt to combine two different vibes.  Just because you enjoy bar games doesn't mean you can't also enjoy a well crafted cocktail.  But is everybody as well rounded as me?

In an effort to be all things to all people, the shufflepuck table is about half the size it's supposed to be and the tvs seem like an afterthought.  But then small touches like patterned paper straws reflect the extra attention devoted to the bar menu.  Our crowd ended up a bit confused, not sure where to fit in between the dive/sports bar games and the elegant cocktails.  I anticipate, however, that the bar will be adored by 25 year olds who want a fancier night out but aren't ready to move to quiet wine bars.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

3 on Thursday

It's been the kind of busy week where I am awoken by nightmares about work.  Not fun.  At least the weekend is just around the corner!
Background: Yacht Rock last Friday - a great time as always

  1. By some crazy miracle I found a brand new Le Creuset dish on Craig's List for $39.  The sellers were only about 3 blocks from my office so I was able to grab it on my lunch break.  Perhaps because of how my Mom always spoke of the brand, I have long regarded Le Creuset as the best of the best in cookware.  Always out of my price range, I ended up just staring at the colorful dishes, hoping I would one day receive them as a wedding gift or something.  Thanks to good timing and my new favorite tumblr,, I was able to add a bright orange Le Creuset to my kitchen.  This weekend, I took it for a spin (making the chicken cordon bleu casserole from yesterday's post) and was very pleased with the results.  It was everything my Mom said it would be.
  2. I may not have personally run in the NYC Half Marathon, but I used it as an excuse to do some day drinking and cheer on some friends.  I think cheering on others may pump me up even more than them.
  3. When my parents came to visit a few weeks ago, the main task was building me a wall.  When I embarked upon the home ownership process one of my main requirements was having a bedroom.  The apartment I was moving from was a true one bedroom and although the bedroom could accommodate no more than a bed, I loved being able to close a door and didn't want to backtrack when moving into a new place.  I purchased this apartment because it was set up as an alcove studio with a very clear division where a wall could be built (and lucky for me, I am the daughter of a great builder).  Unfortunately, after I moved in I learned that the building's architect would make it nearly impossible to get my wall built.  I was disappointed but made do with screens and strategic decorating choices.  Until now.  My father and his colleague, Paul (pictured), designed and built the most amazing wall for me.  Technically, it can be taken down so it's really just a piece of furniture if my co-op board asks.  I managed to not break any rules and now have a true division of sleeping and living space.  Best of all, one side of the wall is bookshelves so I now have tons more storage.  And it doesn't go all the way to the ceiling which will be a blessing during the hot summer months since my AC unit is only in the living room.  And I have a door again.  It's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Since we went out on Friday night and were waking up very early (7:30 AM) on Sunday to start watching/celebrating the half marathon, Albert and I decided to make Saturday night date night.  We lined up some quality tv programming and I cooked a meal.  Albert can be tough to cook for.  I wouldn't exactly call him picky, he's just more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  Funky sauces: not his his thing.  He'll at least try anything, but I know I have some limitations.  It has become my personal challenge to find meals that play within his preferences while still allowing me to try new things.  Through Pinterest I discovered this recipe for chicken cordon bleu casserole and thought it would be a great place to experiment.

The basic flavors of this dish are chicken, ham, and cheese so I figured Albert would be happy.  I, on the other hand, would enjoy teaching myself a new technique with the sauce.  The sauce is a bechemel, also known as the mother of all French sauces.  It is a cream sauce made by melting butter, adding flour to form a roux, and then whisking in milk, stirring until the whole thing thickens.  I had tried making a roux before and let's just say it did not go well.  So not well, in fact, that I had to throw the whole thing away.  A sauce like this needs to be coddled.  You need to whisk it constantly, never taking your eye away for a moment.  Though I failed miserably last time, I actually mastered it this time.  Just like anything else, once you do it properly the first time, you realize it was never that hard to begin with and will be able to successfully produce the same result again and again.  I pretty much leaped for joy once it worked out for me.  Like a little leprechaun.  

Traditionally, chicken cordon bleu is chicken stuffed with ham and swiss cheese that is then breaded and pan fried.  This casserole takes away the trouble of stuffing and watching the pan by having the ingredients layered in a dish.  Though chicken cordon bleu is a pretty European meal, turning it into a casserole makes it feel very Middle America.  A thick creamy sauce makes this comfort food to the max.  Speaking of that sauce, I recommend using about half of what the recipe calls for.  After pouring half the sauce over the casserole it seemed like any more would be too much for anyone to handle and poured the rest down the drain.  I like rich foods but more sauce than that would put me over the edge.  If you do use all the sauce and like it, I may have an idea where this country's obesity epidemic is coming from.  Also, I didn't have white pepper or dried parsley and it still tasted amazing.  Leaving out the dijon mustard, on the other hand, would be a mistake.

This dish was the perfect one to please both Albert and myself.  For the first time since I've started using him as a guinea pig cooking for him like a caring girlfriend, he fully cleared his plate.  I also got to perfect my technique when it came to the scary roux.  Everyone was full and happy, and we were able to be in bed at a reasonable hour so our early wake up call wasn't so bad.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Greek Salad Skewers

I remembered on Monday night that I had book club on Tuesday.  (That's the day after in case you've been working the kind of hours I have resulting in days that bleed together.)  I was right near Whole Foods so I cruised Pinterest for an easy appetizer while I walked to the store.  I found this pic for mini Greek salad skewers and loved that it was so simple I didn't even need to look at a recipe.  I bought all the ingredients and set my alarm 15 minutes early so I had time to assemble the dish before work.

The night before, I was telling my Mom about my brilliant app idea and she questioned how I would skewer the feta without it crumbling.  "Ugh, Mooom.  Clearly it works if you use good feta.  How else would they have a picture of it?"  Can you guess what happened next?  My Mom was right.  As usual.

No matter.  The toothpicks I was using were a bit tiny anyway so I just skewered the tomatoes, cucumbers, and pitted kalamata olives.  Then I crumbled some feta on top.  I figure when people pick up their toothpicks there will inevitably be some feta clinging on.  If I was doing this at home and presenting on a large platter, one update I would probably make would be to drizzle the skewers with some olive oil and sprinkle a few crushed red pepper flakes over the top.  I only remembered to snap a pic after they were almost all gone and had been sitting out for a while, pooling in their own juices.  It's not the most appetizing shot, but it's better than nothing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. While men are immediately praised after helping out around the workplace, people rarely feel they owe the same debt to women.  Don't worry about not receiving credit right away, gals; evidence shows lending a hand will greatly help your career in the long run.
  2. After 250 years, Crimea has broken up with Ukraine and become part of Russia.  The US is nyet happy.
  3. Happy St. Patty's Day!  If you're going to get silly drunk in his name, you might as well know what the guy known as St. Patrick was all about.
  4. Since I loved the Color Run, I'm pretty sure I would go nuts celebrating Holi, the Hindu festival of colors denoting the beginning of spring.

Parker & Quinn

When I realized my parents would be staying right by Albert's new office, I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out the bar/restaurant he discovered during his first week on the job.  Parker and Quinn is a gastropub which basically means it's elevated bar food with fancier drinks.  The vibe is a tad more upscale, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it swanky.  The place is divided into a bar area and restaurant area, but the bar itself is in a circle so half of the bar is in the restaurant space.  The setup made the place feel more communal...which is exactly why I would steer your attention towards the many share-able items on the menu.

The octopus was good, but I thought the pimento cheese was the real winner.  Another cheese based dish, the broc and cheese (mac and cheese with broccoli) was also very nice.  My caesar salad was good (nice and crunchy, good amount of dressing) but I thought the scallops were a little flat (physically - as in squished down) and a bit over-seasoned.  I saw some pizzas (flatbread style) pass by and thought they looked pretty tasty.  It's exactly the kind of food and drink you want when it's time to unwind after work.  The kind where you can nibble and share but still feel like you ate something real (I don't get that feeling from potato you?).
The Dardanella cocktail

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Dare Me

Megan Abbott's "Dare Me" allows you to perch on the bleachers to view the dark inner world of high school cheerleading.  This is "Heathers" kind of dark.  Addy has always been happy to play second fiddle to her best friend Beth.  Beth rules the school and has a knack for crafting the perfect insult, the kind that cuts into the soul of her prey, making them doubt themselves, and securing her spot as top dog.  When a new coach joins the school, Beth sees her as pathetic but all the other girls on the squad are mesmerized by her.  As Coach gathers her minions, Beth's position as most popular and most feared becomes shaky and it looks like she will go to any length to regain her status.  At the height of the season a death tests Addy and Beth's loyalty.  Yes, there is death in a book about cheerleading.

3 out of 5 stars  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 on Thursday

Now that Jet Blue started flying to Savannah, there is a second flight option for Savannah/NYC travel.  Hip hip hooray!  When they announced the new route, they set up some inexpensive flights, which my parents immediately booked.  They were only here for a short while but it was a nice boost for my soul.  I start to go a little crazy if I go too long without seeing them and this was our first face-to-face contact since X-mas.
Background: Edison light bulbs at Craft give the restaurant a masculine feel
  1. My parents and I saw Kinky Boots on Broadway.  I was a fan of the 2005 British film and thought it only got better as a musical.  Billy Porter definitely deserved his best actor Tony for portraying drag queen Lola, but I thought Annaleigh Ashford's performance as a quirky love interest was wonderful as well.  In case you're interested in taking in a show, I highly recommend this one.  The plot revolves around Charlie who has inherited his family's failing shoe factory.  In an effort to renew business he goes after a niche market: drag queens.  The book is written by Harvey Fierstein and the music and lyrics are by Cyndi Lauper.  Those are two writers/performers known for having fun with what they do and that is exactly what this show is.  This pic shows the inside of the Al Hirshfield Theater.  I love how theaters remain mostly unchanged over the years.  I only wish people liked to dress up more when they go.
  2. The Morgan Library may not be as well known as the Met or the MoMA, but it actually has a great group of exhibits in a beautiful space.  We went to The Little Prince: A New York Story exhibition.  Though awareness of Le Petit Prince goes beyond the French classroom, most people don't know that it was actually written in New York.  Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry lived in New York during WWII and it was there that the book was first published.  Just before leaving to re-join the war, he dropped his manuscript along with first drafts at the door of a dear friend.  These papers, including a crumpled drawing that appears to have been dug from the trash are currently on display for the next month.  It is interesting to see the book's style progress as well as to understand the wartime backdrop that seeped into the work.  I urge you to check it out if you can.
  3. While walking around SoHo my Mom spotted a shady door and swore she heard about "this place".  As we climbed through an area that was more graffiti than stairwell, there were rain forest sounds playing.  We made a right at the top of the stairs to find that my Mom was right and there was a store there.  Kiosk is a tiny room with an assembled collection of trinkets from a given country (we hit upon Greece).  I wouldn't make it a destination, but if you're by the Spring Street subway stop, check it out for your daily dose of quirk.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


The mushrooms!  Oh, the mushrooms!  That's all I have heard for years as people have told me time and again how great Craft is.  I think people are just so delighted that a restaurant known for meat prepares a vegetarian dish so well.  I agree, the mushrooms were delicious, as were the simply roasted butterball potatoes.  Neither are items that should jump off the menu, but they were both elegant in their simplicity.  That said, the meat is as good as should be expected of a meat-centric restaurant.

I went to craft with a group of six for a work event so we took down a large chunk of the menu.  I did not realize the dishes were meant to be served family style, but once the waitress told us so, we decided our family's style was to try as much as possible.  For starters we had some oysters, scallops, the pork trotter with farm egg, and crispy bacon with yogurt.  The bacon and yogurt was my favorite of the bunch.  I was concerned it would be Greek yogurt topped with bacon bits but was happy to have pork belly with a creamy sauce.  For the main courses we had the striped bass, duck, short ribs, bacon wrapped venison (my favorite - if I could eat that once a week, my demeanor would likely improve immensely).  In addition to the mushrooms and potatoes, we also had the cauliflower, kale, and garlic risotto.  I found the risotto, so creamy and rich, to be the perfect complement to the meat entrées.  We ended the meal with the doughnuts, which came with a fudge and a coffee sauce.  The waiter pushed us to get two orders and when we saw the size of the dessert we were upset.  We had warned him we were already full and just wanted a bite of something sweet but he seemed to just want us to spend spend spend.  After complaining around the table that he sold us more than we needed, we ate both desserts in full.  I tip my hat to you, dear waiter, you recognized the pigs in us.

As we were leaving, the hostess handed us a chocolate chip scone for tomorrow's breakfast.  It's a touch I rarely see but one I love.  The food managed to be different without being revolutionary, all perfectly executed.  When I'm going for meat, I don't want anything crazy, I just want it to be cooked really really well.  There were a few unique touches (like the yogurt with the pork belly), but for the most part, the food was basic but rich.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crunchy Salad with Turkey Cutlets

While I was at Trader Joe's last week, I saw a new bag peeking out among the lettuces.  The Cruciferous Crunch Collection is a melange of greens like kale, broccoli slaw, red and green cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.  Cruciferous reminds me Crucifictorious, Landry's band in Friday Night Lights, and that is a major reason why I purchased this salad mix.  Being the base of my quick and healthy dinner was more of a bonus.

What you'll notice about all those veggies is that they're all super crunchy.  You'll really be working the chompers as you go through that stuff.  Like with all other raw, crunchy salad bases I knew I would need a heavier, acid based dressing to break down the greens.  I went with Trader Joe's pear champagne vinaigrette partly because it was right next to the lettuce but also because it sounded yummy.  A sweet and tangy dressing always goes well with blue cheese so I picked up some gorgonzola as well.  To build out the rest of the salad I decided to stick with the crunchy theme.  I decided to add different types of crunch.  Not all crunch is created equal and you shouldn't go on cooking thinking it is.  I added a red bell pepper because it's crunchy but also juicy in a way.  I also added pumpkin seeds for the kind of crunch that shatters a bit when you bite down.

I topped the whole thing with turkey cutlets that I covered first with egg and then with seasoned panko (I used paprika and garlic powder) and then pan fried.  The turkey was already pounded super thin so it took just a moment to cook.  Being able to add fresh cooked protein to my salad in "a moment" is a real win, especially since I mostly decided to make salad for dinner because I only first got to the grocery store at 8 pm.  Turkey is not chicken (duh).  Chicken is the usual quick-cooking protein so it was nice to mix it up a bit.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. The blood of horseshoe crabs is a beautiful shade of periwinkle.  Scientists are harvesting this pretty blue blood and it's miraculous property of being able to identify and trap contamination in a given solution.  Considering these solutions could come in contact with human blood (as an injection, for instance) being able to confirm that solution is clean is a breakthrough. 
  2. There has been a lot in the news lately about the long term effects of football injuries on the brain.  Now, the King-Devick test can be administered on the sidelines to determine if a tackle has resulted in a concussion.  It's even available as an app!
  3. Read about the New York Times v. Sullivan case that, 50 years ago, molded the First Amendment as we know it today.
  4. After only a few years at the 2400 point format, the SAT is reverting back to a 1600 point scoring system.  As part of the change, they are removing all those big fancy words.  True, we no longer commonly use "punctilious" when chatting with friends, but perhaps the reason language has dumbed down in general is because we don't stress its importance.  It seems like this change is saying we're ok with people who "talk stupid."

Melt Shop

An entire restaurant devoted to grilled cheese sounds heavenly.  And now it exists.  Actually, it has existed for over a year, but now it conveniently exists near my office.  I can't go too often because my grilled cheese came to almost $10 - a crazy markup - and of course it didn't keep me full all day.  But dang was it delicious.  So much butter on the bread.  So much gooey cheese.  Because I got the Shroom sandwich, mine was filled goat cheese, havarti, portobellos, and parsley pesto.  As the restaurant name, Melt Shop, implies, this sandwich is full meltiness between two pieces of bread.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review: One Last Thing Before I Go

Silver is a washed up musician.  After making it big as part of a one-hit-wonder band, he now lives in the only apartment building in his suburban town along with other sad, middle aged, divorced men.  He has made a mess of his life with no dating prospects and no relationship with his 18-year old daughter, who has just told him she is pregnant.  Why tell him?  Because he's not valuable enough to disappoint.  Just as he's wrapping his mind around the situation, he is rushed to the hospital and told that he will die without emergency surgery.  In a shock to the family who still loves him despite everything he has put them through, he decides to forgo the surgery and focus on being a better man and repairing his relationship with his daughter.  

Considering this is the third book I've read by Jonathan Tropper, I'd say I'm a fan.  I found this one a bit existential and did not enjoy it as much as This Is Where I Leave You or The Book of Joe; however it was still an enjoyable read as Tropper always injects sadness and humor into his writing in the perfect balance.

2.75 out of 5 stars (points deducted simply because I didn't like it as much as Tropper's other novels)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

3 on Thursday

My trip to Philly gave me enough to fill up almost two "3 on Thursday" posts.  You may not want to hear any more about my trip, but during a week as busy as mine, I like to be reminded of my recent relaxation.  The background of this week's post shows off what was probably the most relaxing moment of the trip.  This was the view we stared at from the Rocky steps at the art museum while we people-watched.

  1. I loved the food at National Mechanics, but I also really loved that the restaurant is inside an old bank.  It just reminds me of how historical Philly is.
  2. We stayed at the Renaissance Blu hotel after Albert found a deal on Living Social.  Not only did the hotel have the swanky lobby pictured (I loved the graphic walls), our deal got us any two drinks we wanted.  
  3. The only non-Philly picture of the bunch, I loved spotting this car on Park Ave. over the weekend.  I don't need a car in NYC, but I wouldn't mind seeing this vintage baby parked in front of my building.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

National Mechanics

For my last Philly foodie post, I want to focus on a great brunch find.  If you are one of those people who judges a brunch spot by their bloodies, you will love National Mechanics thanks to their bloody mary bar.  You pick the type of vodka (I went with bacon vodka) and the rim (I chose Old Bay) and then you take your glass up to the bar where you can add their homemade mix, any number of their hot sauces (I lost count at around 30), olives, capers, celery, horseradish, and Slim Jims.  I am pretty sure I crafted the perfect bloody.

For my meal I ordered the veggie skillet.  I was concerned that my cast iron pan would not have ample cheese, but there it was.  The perfect amount of oaxaca cheese covered the mound of potatoes, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, and poached eggs.  It was all good and stretchy, pulling against the weight of my fork as I shoveled bite after bite into my mouth.

As the name would suggest, there are some savvy mechanics behind the decor who have designed lighting fixtures and faucets out of old pipes, wire, and exposed bulbs.  The real decor, however, is found simply in the building itself, which was constructed over 150 years ago and previously housed a bank.


After dinner with Brooke, Albert and I decided to stay out for just two more drinks.  When you're only in the city for 34 hours, the goal should be to pack as much in as possible.  We had passed Tria while walking around during the day and decided it was worthy of our nightcap.

We may have just eaten but, as I said, the goal was to pack in as much as possible and I needed to do my part...especially when I saw the cheese list.  I took charge of assembling the meat and cheese platter while Albert focused on the craft beers.  The server then helped me pick a wine that would work well with our selection.

It's rare that a wine and cheese bar has such a good beer selection but more should follow suit.  It means everyone gets what they want because beer swigging guys don't feel like they're compromising by going to a girly wine bar.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Corner

I took my weekend getaway to Philly as an opportunity to catch up with an old friend.  Brooke and I haven't really seen each other in a few years, but after living in a sorority house together you kinda bond with a chick.  We decided to meet for dinner which of course really just means gossiping about our sorority sisters while people served us food.  I haven't had a real trash talking sesh in a while due to the fact that I'm trying to behave like a mature adult...but it was nice to feel like a gossipy college girl again.

The Corner was the perfect restaurant for us to re-connect.  The food was great and by sitting at the chef's bar, we had a first look at the food so we knew just what to order.  Plus, it kind of felt like we were sitting around the kitchen table, which is where all good gossip sessions take place and reminded us of when we used to sneak into the sorority house kitchen after hours to steal food.

I started with the mushroom soup and was happy to see that not only was the bowl large, it came with ricotta toast points.  The toast wasn't just topped with a light layer of ricotta, it was given the NYC bagel shmear treatment.  Going heavy on the ricotta was fine because the soup had been strained to a thinner consistency.  I also ordered the kale caesar.  I know it appears on many menus nowadays so it's not exactly special, but I thought it was prepared well.  It was too much food for me and yet the whole meal came to $14.  This is the kind of restaurant you would find in SoHo or the West Village...except all the food would be double the price.  Even the cocktails were $2-$4 less than they would have been in the city.  Those prices reeeeally make me like Philly.


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