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Friday, October 31, 2014

Inspiration Station: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

The Dish:

Dating a vegetarian could be a deal breaker for a guy (it may even be one for me) so Andie tells Ben she doesn't eat meat to scare him away...and then scarfs a hot dog in the back of the hippy restaurant after crying to the waitress that her boyfriend thinks she's fat.  It's enough to drive away any dude. I always hope I come off as the cool girl Andi really is - the one who can take down a burger and likes sports but can wear the heck out of a dress.  But just in case you have a ::gasp:: vegetarian friend, you, like Andie, should pretend to like the meat-free meals.  Thankfully, you won't have to fake liking this farro bowl, inspired by Andi and Ben's meal but looking and tasting much better than the gruel they eat.

Start with farro as your base (I found a quick cooking kind at Trader Joe's - only took 10 minutes!).  In a pan, saute portobello or cremini mushrooms, garlic, fresh spinach (or kale), and shredded/julienned carrots.  I also wanted to add zucchini but the store was out and it turns out I didn't need it.  Top it all off with a drizzle of avocado crema (avocado, sour cream, and cayenne, blended) and some salt and pepper.  I was a slave to bad lighting and a faulty piping bag so my bowl doesn't look picture perfect, but it tasted great.

The Doodads:

  1. You'll need an easy to care for plant so your love fern doesn't die.  If you're like me and don't have a green thumb, check out Apartment Therapy's list of hard to kill plants.  My fave is the ZZ plant.
  2. Get a fun deck of cards for family games of B.S like these by Jonathan Adler.
  3. Ben loves that Andie likes the Knicks and she looks pretty killer rocking a jersey instead of a slinky dress for their date.  Nowadays, the Nets are a hot NYC team and that black jersey would look pretty good.
  4. Andie makes sure puppy Krull the Warrior King is decked out in bling ("just a little frosting").  It's always good to give your dog a fun collar but I would gravitate towards a bow tie instead of diamonds, like this one I found on Etsy

Thursday, October 30, 2014

3 on Thursday

There is a ton of work being piled on my plate right now, and my stress level is definitely creeping up there.  I'm actually welcoming my over-booked weekend because I think all the people and activities will offer a nice distraction.  Now if I can only figure out my Halloween costume...nothing like waiting til the last minute, right?!

  1. On a recent Tuesday night stay-in date night, I switched my usual wine for beer so Albert and I could toast with his monogrammed mugs.
  2. One of the best parts about going apple picking was the crisp I made afterwards.
  3. Last weekend I attended my first ever professional football team.  I am by no means a Jets fan and would typically align myself with other teams, but I loved getting into the spirit.  Yankees are big pro football tailgaters - crazy to me, considering how cold it gets up here! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Boulton and Watt

After Pickle Day Albert and I wandered til we found a good brunch spot, with the goal being bottomless brunch.  Nothing jumped out at us until we got to the edge of the LES and saw Boulton and Watt, a spot we had each been to a couple times and enjoyed as a bar.  But now we were in broad daylight and unsure if it would work as a place to eat.

Not only did they have food, they had a large, thoughtfull menu and were doing a booming business.  What I thought was a bar first and restaurant second may actually be the other way around.  It also kept with the pickle theme as they feature tons of pickled veggies as snacks and a few different pickleback versions.  We'd been pickling it up all day so we decided to chill and just order normal brunch.  Albert ordered the full English breakfast, which came with two eggs, house-made pork sausage, bacon, stewed beans, wild mushrooms, and a hash brown cake.  Tons of food for $16.  I ordered the braised short rib and bone marrow benedict, which was served on a hunk of country bread instead of english muffins.  It was delicious.  Though I was feeling carnivorous that day, I was still impressed to see plenty of inventive vegetarian options on the menu like a cauliflower souffle, fried oyster omelette, and frittata with goat cheese, braised leeks, and wild mushrooms.  We didn't end up finding a bottomless brunch deal, but the cocktails were only $5.  Typically a bottomless deal may work out to $10-$15 on top of the entree price and though you may end up drinking more than two or three, they won't be as strong as the drinks here.  The mimosa, for instance, includes gin so your $5 will get you pretty far.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

LES Pickle Day

When the whole weekend is busy, why stop at Sunday?  That was kind of how we ended up at Pickle Day two weekends ago.  Unsure of how to spend the day, I went to Time Out New York to see if there were any events.  When I saw the listing for Pickle Day I figured it would likely end up being something small like three stalls but didn't care because it would at least get us moving.  We could check it out and if it turned out to be nothing special we would just hit up brunch.

When we arrived in the Lower East Side we found way more than three stalls.  There were actually about three blocks of stalls.  In addition to booths of pickle purveyors like Divine Brine and Pickle Me Pete (15 picklers in total), plenty of the neighborhood restaurants set up booths where they sold snacks featuring pickled ingredients.

I started with a hand roll from Blue Ribbon Sushi.  There were four versions, each with a different type of picked veggie.  I went with the mustard green version.  Because the ingredients were simple, the seaweed flavor really came through and I thought it paired well with the pickle taste.  Next up was Black Tree where Albert got a pickle pot that included pickled fruit in addition to the typical pickled cucumbers.  I've never had a pickled blueberry but I didn't hate it.  You got to choose what type of fruit infused brine to drizzle on top and we went with apple.  It added a hint of sweet to the vinegar base.  The third stop was Krupa Grocery which made the strangest sounding concoction that I had to say I tried it.  It was a beet stained pickled egg that was filled (like if it had been deviled) with chicken liver pate and topped with cocoa nibs.  The brine was a little sweet and the filling was somewhat salty and rich.  I was so nervous to try this one but I was impressed to find it kinda worked.  Since we were still planning to go to brunch we limited ourselves to only one more stop at Sour Puss Pickles where we got a large garlic dill pickle to gnaw on.  They were stronger than half dones but the garlic and dill flavors were still subtle - no puckering when you eat these.

I can't wait to go back to Pickle Day 2015 because there are so many more vendors I want to try.  I love that the Lower East Side is celebrating its Eastern European heritage...even though most pickle production seems to have moved to Brooklyn and is done by hipsters instead of old Jewish folks.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. The majority of people do not negotiate for a better salary.  When you think you're worth more than the offer, here are the 5 things that will get you the better deal.
  2. With Ebola research being fast tracked, why do we still not have an HIV vaccine?
  3. What's in the mind of a school shooter?  A man who almost committed such a crime lets us know what he was thinking.  Though published just before the latest shooting in Washington, the timing is now particularly relevant.
  4. By the time you finish reading this article, you'll be sitting up straight.

30 Before 30: #12 - Go Apple or Berry Picking

Apple picking is not much of a thing where I'm from.  As you creep closer to North Georgia you may find corn fields and hay rides, but in the Lowcountry that stuff is a bit harder to come by and apples are not one of our major crops...which would make picking them nearly impossible for a weekend activity.  But here in the Northeast it's all anyone does in the Fall.  I have become so jealous of all the cute Instagram pics that invade my feed in September/October.  All the girls look so great in their cozy flannel and I can't resist a small child standing next to an oversized pumpkin.  I had to get in on the action.  At this point the activity has become cliché but I don't care; I had a blast.

On a cool autum Saturday I headed to New Paltz, NY with some girls from book club.  I was a bit hungover but I could not miss my last chance to go apple picking before my 30th birthday so I grabbed a large iced coffee and a bacon egg and cheese and headed to Port Authority for the hour and a half ride upstate.  Side note: this was the first time I've ever gotten to use the phrase "I'm going Upstate" and I liked how it sounded.

A short cab ride from the bus station took us to Jenkins & Lueken Orchards and dropped us off at their general store.  Here, you can buy apples and pumpkins that you didn't pick yourself (but...why?) as well as local goodies like homemade peanut butter (I picked up some of the chunky monkey variety with chocolate chips for Matt), apple butter (got a jar of this for Matt's bday as well), jams, pies, sausages, and ciders.  We immediately grabbed some apple cider doughnuts (a specialty) to share.  Like everything else there, they were very inexpensive, just $1.25 for three.  They are the airiest cake doughnuts covered in cinnamon sugar.  We held of on the rest of the shopping until after the other activities.  Most people must drive up there on their own (vs. the bus/taxi method we used) because there were no paths to get to the orchards and fields.  We looked like silly city girls trying to cross the small highway.  We first walked through the corn maze (not much of a maze...more like...just...corn, but cool, nonetheless) and then took a little hayride.  It was finally time for the main event!  We went back to the store to pick up our apple bags and pickers and were warned that it was the end of the season so there wouldn't be much left on the trees.  We were not deterred.  We were mostly in it for the experience and only needed a couple bags to make a few pies.  It's not like we were stocking up for the winter.

After getting enough apples and some extra items from the store we had a taxi (that we called in advance) take us back into town.  New Paltz looked like a town right out of an ABC Family tv show.  Very quaint with a hippy skew.  I would definitely recommend an apple picking excursion combined with a bed and breakfast stay and a tour of a nearby vineyard.

Apple picking was a success and definitely something I would do again next fall!

Date of Completion: 10/18/14

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hibachi Heaven

A major hole has been filled.  If you wanted hibachi in NYC your only option was Benihana.  Yummy, but it's a whole sit down process and definitely on the more expensive side.  And if you wanted takeout style hibachi (like my beloved Hiawa's in Savannah or Inoko Express in Athens), you were completely out of luck.  Thankfully a food truck has arrived on the scene to save us all.

Hibachi Heaven makes perfect fried rice, veggie, and protein bowls in about two minutes for an average of about $9.  And while they have the typical ginger and pink sauces (sometimes referred to as steak sauce and shrimp sauce), they also have a creamy wasabi sauce and sriracha on hand.

It's hard to believe Hibachi Heaven is the first (and at this point the only one) to recognize that NYC was in need of a speedy hibachi meal.  I'm just glad somebody finally gets it!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

3 on Thursday

I made it through a very busy weekend only to realize I have plenty of plans lined up for the upcoming weekends.  Everything I'm doing is very Fall, and I love taking advantage of the season.
  1. Everyone is gearing up for Hallween, even the delivery trucks!
  2. I recently discovered Charming Charlie via a favorite blog, The College Prepster.  When styled on the blog, all the fashion looked so classy, despite the extremely low price tag.  But I just wasn't sold that it would look that good in person so I held back.  But then a couple weeks ago I was in Hartford for a wedding and there was a huge Charming Charlie store.  Even up close these clothes and accessories look great.  And so inexpensive!  For $60 I walked away with a ring, a cloche hat, a sweater, and a scarf.  Now that I know I can trust Charming Charlie, I'll be hitting up the website regularly to fill in the holes in my closet.  Just like the store it's organized by color (as well as product type) so it's very easy to navigate.
  3. I was so happy to check an item off my bucket list and go apple picking.  I can't wait to bake something delicious!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

The "rich" in this novel's title is a vast understatement.  These are people who own five homes, fly only on their private planes, and spend $250,000 on a single dress.  It's absurd...which is exactly why I lapped up ever delicious page.  I had no idea that this level of wealth existed, nor does Rachel Chu when she agrees to go to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick and then spend the next months traveling on vacation.  She has no idea what kind of well connected - royal, even - family her boyfriend of two years is a part of.  Of course, his private family sniffs her out and assumes the worst.  She's not rich and therefore must be a gold digger and not up to standard.  From the moment she arrives in Asia, Rachel is awed by the extreme opulence and basically goes from one over the top event to another while Nick's family judges her behind her back.

This novel seems to wild to believe.  Nobody actually lives like this, do they?  Where Gucci is trash?  What?  But as I Googled author Kevin Kwan, I learned that he actually grew up in a similar environment.   While the book is a work of fiction, Kwan admits he was inspired by his own family.  That means parties this insane actually exist.  This is a whole other level.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seasonal Tastes: October - Spicy Honey Mustard Brussels Sprouts

I may make brussels sprouts all year long, but now is when they're really in their prime.  So for now, let's forget how I very simply roast them just about once a week and do something a little different so we can celebrate the moment they're having this month.

This recipe is really no more difficult than a normal olive oil/everyday seasoning roast.  I used this recipe for spicy honey mustard brussels sprouts and loved how they came out.  I'm not afraid of spice so I was liberal with the crushed red pepper and really liked how even my spicier version still left room for the sweet honey to shine through.  This sauce would be great for chicken wings in case anyone is already thinking about Super Bowl food.

The other good thing about this sauce is that you don't have to follow the recipe exactly.  I didn't feel like getting out my measuring spoons so I just filled up a soup spoon til it looked like enough honey or mustard.  I eyeballed the olive oil and have no idea how many sprouts I used.  I picked them up from a farmers' market so it's not like I could buy two packages as the recipe instructs.  I did, however, get one package of the cutest little baby brussels sprouts.  They were a little more expensive than their large brothers, but they were too adorable to pass up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. Halloween is nearly upon us, which means I will intentionally overbuy trick or treating candy so I have some leftover for myself.  Here's a handy wine-pairing guide for all those Halloween sweets.
  2. When I was watching the Miss America pageant last month I noticed there was a lot of talk and [even better!] scholarships about women embracing STEM majors/professions.  I didn't know exactly what that was but, thankfully, explains not only what it is, but also why it's important.  
  3. While people are busy arguing about women's access to birth control via healthcare, Facebook and Apple just announced they will cover egg freezing.  Seems like they're trying to say women really can have it all.
  4. You may have heard that it's Midterm Election time...but still may not be sure exactly what that means.  Now you can peruse this easy to navigate guide to learn what the big issues are and why you should care.

Snickity Snack: Fish in a Stream

Food Network Magazine had a mini "Family and Kids" mag in the back of a recent issue.  In this section, they reinvented ants on a log, the classic after school snack of celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins.  I'm pretty sure this article was all about sneaking veggies into your kid's diet but since I'm basically a kid myself, I thought it was great.  Also, raisins are not my fave so I was happy to see this fun and healthy snack re-vamped with flavors I enjoy.

For book club, I prepared the "fish in a stream" version, which consisted of celery sticks filled with hummus and topped with pretzel goldfish.  They were devoured in minutes.  It makes sense: you dip pretzels in hummus and you dip celery in hummus.  Just because you rarely see the three ingredients partying together doesn't mean they can't all get along.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Turkey Chili

Believe it or not, but I had never made chili.  There are two main reasons I never tried:

  1.  I've never really liked chili.  I'm a big fan of the chili toppings (sour cream, cheese, fritos...) but the chili itself...meh.  I'm not big on beans and that seemed to be a major component so I'd just rather not.
  2. Everybody seems to have their own version of how to make chili and I didn't really know where to start.

But then it hit me: if everybody has their own version, I could have my own version and do whatever I wanted with it.  That means I don't have to have beans in there if I didn't want them.  Out they went!  My father says that if chili doesn't have beans then it's not really chili.  Well, if bean-free chili is wrong, I don't want to be right.  The rest of the chili came together with no real recipe, and I was thrilled with the results.  I browned ground turkey with onions and then threw the mixture in the crock pot.  Into the slow cooker I added a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes and 2 small cans of tomato juice.  Then I added one diced jalapeno and some spices (garlic powder, chile powder, paprika, and cumin).  I have no idea what quantities I was using for the spices...I just kinda dumped them in.  The chili cooked away for 4 hours on high and when it came out it was perfect.  And, since I used turkey, pretty dang healthy.  I topped it with sour cream and cheese.  Duh.  Fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro would be great.  Scallions would also be a nice addition.  But I didn't have any of that.  I was more focused on getting the bare minimum ingredients from the grocery store.  But all that taught me was that, when it comes to chili, the bare minimum is still delicious.  I wasn't making cornbread (there's that bare minimum mentality for ya), but there were corn muffins by the register at the grocery store.  It's basically the exact same thing and made for the perfect side dish.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3 on Thursday

As of last weekend, we are done with weddings in 2014.  I have loved each and every one, but I'm kind of excited to have some more low key weekends on the horizon.  That said, my weekends seem to be filling up pretty fast...

  1. In celebration of the brand new Lego store in Flatiron, Madison Square Park was filled with tiny toy builders over the weekend.  Stop by to check out a field of lego flowers or the giant statue of liberty being constructed in the picture here (I love that they're wearing hard hats!).  There are also some pretty impressive superhero statues.
  2. I recently discovered McClure's chips.  I've had their pickles and bloody mary mix, but now they're infusing the briny flavor into chips.  I've only tried the garlic dill pickle flavor so far.  It's like a waaay less vinegar-y salt and vinegar chip.  Plus garlic.  And dill.  It sounded weird, but I loved it.  I haven't tried the bloody mary or spicy pickle varieties yet, but I have high hopes.
  3. On Monday I went to Joe's Pub to see Freestyle Love Supreme and now I'm ready to sign up and become a groupie.  FLS is basically hip hop improv.  Like any improv show, they take words/cues from the audience and turn them into hilarious, complicated rhymes.  I have no idea how their minds work that fast.  I discovered them because I am a Broadway junkie and when I learned that Lin Manuel Miranda (composer, lyricist, and star of my beloved "In the Heights") had started this freestyle group along with his "In the Heights" co-creator, I did a bit of stalking until I found out when they would be performing.  Other members of the troupe include Christopher Jackson (also of "In the Heights"), Utkarsh Ambudkar (of "Pitch Perfect" and "The Mindy Project" fame), and James Monroe Iglehart (just won the Tony for portraying the Genie in Aladdin - I've seen him on Broadway 4 times in 3 different productions...and he was just as good at this).  There's also a super talented beatboxer who goes by the name Shockwave.  I was incredibly impressed by their performance, laughed my booty off, and need to see them again ASAP.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Good Girl

When I asked the man at the information desk where I could find "The Good Girl," he responded "um do you mean "Gone Girl?"  Both thrillers with similar names, such confusion was inevitable.  But I am sure once people start reading "The Good Girl" it will establish its own [deserved] following.

Mia Dennett has always been the black sheep of her family.  Her trophy wife mother has become detached and her father and sister look at her with disdain because she chose a more bohemian life instead of the legal profession they see as proper.  They don't pay much mind when she goes home with a man she met at a bar and doesn't show up for work the next day.  They think she is just being reckless until the days turn into weeks and worry sets in.

"The Good Girl" alternates between "before" and "after" and is told from the view points of Mia's mother, the detective working on her case, and her abductor.  Unlike "Gone Girl," this novel does not attempt to throw a surprise your way every five pages.  It's more of a slow burn as "before" and "after" meet at the present and we learn which characters, exactly, deserve our sympathy.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I don't like to put it allll out there.  In fact, that's why I have a blog.  I have a tendency to go on and on about things I love and I'm sure no one really cares.  I figured if I put it on a blog, I would be able to express myself without boring people.  My kindred spirits who geek out equally as hard over food, books, and Bravo tv can find my babbling here on this blog and we could rejoice together.  Of course, even then I'm only showing my best self.  I mostly just post about the good restaurants, and I never tell you about all the recipes I attempt that come out terribly.  Why show off my failures?  It's embarrassing and embarrassment is a close neighbor to shame and hurt.  Those are not feelings one wants to celebrate.

Thank goodness for Instagram, right?  There, I get to add filters!  Oh the filters!  Everything looks fab in an old timey sepia tone.  I always look like I'm having the BEST time, don't I?  You never see the moments when I'm homesick.  I am extremely close with my family and miss them daily.  I fear I'll miss out on my nephew/godson's milestone moments.  I yearn for the beautiful marsh outside my childhood bedroom window.  And my job is not always perfect.  Not even close.  I may get a few fun perks, but between the lunches and outings I have, at times, felt so overwhelmed that it seems I'll never crawl out from under the work.  And then there's the worrying I do when I am concerned I am way behind on the marriage/baby track.  And now there is the stress I've just accumulated in writing all this down.  I'm exhausted.

But those are all major, somewhat abstract issues.  There's also all the day-to-day stuff I don't want to share with you.  Today, however, I'm going to bare it all.  I am partnering up with Quarterlette to share #MyUncuratedSelf.  I'm going to give you a sneak peek into an authentic Tess that - in Instagram speak - has #nofilter.

Over the weekend Albert and I went to a wedding and I came down with food poisoning.  Thankfully, I didn't have to miss much of the weekend's events, but that doesn't mean it was smooth sailing.  I sure look like I'm having fun in that picture, right?  Well, just a couple hours after the photo was taken I woke up and I.  Was.  Miserable.  I raced to the bathroom and spent the next hour locked inside.  Without going into too much detail, I'll just tell you that it was like a one-woman re-enactment of that infamous scene in the movie "Bridesmaids."  Sure sure, everybody's been there (or so they try to comfort you).  But has everybody been there when they're sharing a small hotel room with another couple?  I was HUMILIATED.  As I was lying on the tile floor at 2:30 AM one of the first things that came to mind was having to see the other couple in the morning.  I'm sure they heard it all and it wasn't pretty.  Then I have to explain why I wasn't at the afterparty.  I managed to laugh and change the subject, never admitting the gross-ness of the night before.  Now I'm letting you all know.  It's not always pretty behind the Instagram filters but it's all me.  
Bad office lighting, no makeup, and glasses: it's not always Insta-worthy.


While the boys were golfing before a wedding this past weekend, the girls went off to do our own thing.  We got our nails done, we did a little shopping, and we stopped at a really cute restaurant for lunch.  It was hard to choose a place to eat in the West Hartford area - everything looked so great - but Marisa had been to Bartaco and vouched for it.

We all ordered the lunch special, which came with three small tacos and salad for $10.  It was the perfect amount of food and there were still plenty of tacos to choose from so you don't feel like they're taking away your lunch freedom.  I went with the chorizo, pork belly, and baja fish varieties.  All were good, but my favorite was probably the pork belly, which had a slightly sweet glaze.  We washed it all down with some tasty (and strong) margaritas.

With white washed walls, Bartaco almost feels more like a surf lodge than a Mexican cantina.  They've also got that laid back, helpful, surfer dude mentality going for them, too.  At each table, there's a box with a few sauces, menus (to order sushi-style), and card with their logo on it.  Instead of trying to hunt down the waitress, if you need anything, you just stick that card in its holder and she'll come back to help you out.  It's sort of like the stewardess buttons on airplanes.  It worked.  Our waitress came over immediately, with a smile on her face, and nobody was stressed about not feeling special.  You know what did feel special?  My tummy, after eating these yummy tacos.

Monday, October 13, 2014


With no signage, it took me foreverto figure out the name of the new wine bar in my neighborhood.  I finally learned it was called Pino when I got close enough to pick up a menu from one of the tables.  I put my bag down while I was reading what they had to offer and by that point there was no turning back.  When the big work tote hits the floor, I've settled in for the evening.

It was a long day.  The kind where the emails didn't stop til after my bedtime.  I wanted wine.  I deserved wine.  That's their jam at Pino so I had plenty to choose from.  My only critique is that no glass was less than $11.  I would have loved a nice $9 glass...then I would have probably ordered three instead of two.  The only other downside was the meat and cheese plate.  Just not up to snuff.  I was a little concerned about how the rest of the meal would be, but my complaints end here.  I felt like I had to order the shrimp after the bartender said "the sauce is fucking unbelievable."  He was right, thought I wouldn't call it a sauce so much as a slightly spicy tomato broth filled with corn and heart of palm.  I also loved the turkey meatballs in red wine sauce.  I tried to see if I could get the chef to admit to putting pork or veal in there because I thought there was no way that could just be turkey.

I love how intimate this place is.  You can't get away without having a conversation with the chef and bartenter because everything is kind of on top of each other.  The tables are spaced out enough but the bar feeds right into the kitchen area and everybody seems to pitch in where needed.  The ease of striking up a conversation is what makes it a neighborhood spot.  The guy next to us at the bar was all too eager to chat about our common 'hood and when the bartender was disappointed not to get a girl's number before she left he responded "no big, they're here every week."  People want our Murray Hill to become a place where people want to stay instead of the transient area it has a reputation of being and Pino is doing its part to help.

Friday, October 10, 2014


When I looked at the menu for Spring, I began to regret allowing Shawn to take the lead in setting up our pre-Yom Kippur fast meal.  Pretty much everything on the menu was tagged as either vegan or gluten free...and in some cases, both.  I don't usually actively do "healthy" food.  I think of eating healthy as a bonus.  "Oh hey!  I made a delish meal and it just happened to be good for me.  Sweet!"  But in my mind anything that tries to be healthy is bound to taste bad.  But I have seen the light.  Food that is intentionally healthy can also taste good.  I finally understand what people mean when they say a restaurant serves "clean" food.

We started with edamame, tuna tartare, and spring rolls for the table.  The menu is very fish and veggie heavy so half the people at the table ordered salmon and the other half ordered the stir fry (which included hearty veggies like cauliflower).  I ordered the poached salmon and lentil salad.  I expected a true salad, but this was served compartmentalized, as a regular entree would with beets, lentils, and salmon, each in their own areas.  The beets were perfect on their own and the lentils were seasoned with dill and a lemon vinaigrette.  I also ordered a side of wasabi mashed potatoes (huge portion - great to share).  I would not have expected potatoes without a ton of butter or cream to be so flavorful, but the wasabi added dimention without a ton of extra calories.  I left the restaurant feeling full not fat.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

3 on Thursday

I'm off tomorrow to wedding number nine - the last one of the year.  The rest of the weekend is wide open and I'm looking forward to doing some sort of activity that feels particularly "fall" to take advantage of the season.

  1. On my way to meet friends for dinner in the UWS last week, I walked past this storefront announcing the imminent arrival of a new bookstore.  The left window actually says "Dear New York, You've Got Mail...Again," in reference to the beloved movie that celebrates the independent bookstore.  I did some research and learned that it will be a Book Culture store.  I have some East Side stores that are more convenient for me, but I urge all Upper West Siders to check this place out once it opens.  Book stores should be communities!
  2. Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event that included an interview with Kirsten Gillibrand (great speaker) and a panel featuring Linda McMahon, Tamron Hall (my spirit animal), and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.  The event, put on by on by Time and Real Simple magazines, was all about women and success.  The women had vastly different experience which only underscored that success comes in very different forms.  It was totally empowering!  By the time I arrived back at my apartment I was ready to take on the world!
  3. On Sunday night Lindsay and I went to the theater to see If/Then.  It was refreshing to see a brand new musical that was totally original and not based on a movie or even a real person.  Idina Menzel has some serious pipes.  I was in awe of her voice.  It's not a splashy musical, but the songs are beautiful and we all wonder how a simple choice can alter your life's path.  Here, you get to see it played out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: The Family Fang

Annie and Buster Fang grew up as part of their parents strange performance art.  As soon as they could, they busted out of their childhood homes and tried to forge their own paths as an actress and writer, respectively.  Turns out, being forced to participate in weird performances didn't train them to lead normal, well adjusted lives.  When things start falling apart they both decide to move back in with their parents while they piece them back together.  They seem to be managing until their parents suddenly disappear and Annie and Buster try to figure out if it is just another crazy work of art or if they could actually be dead.

I liked seeing Annie and Buster come to terms with how much their childhood scarred them.  I also enjoyed witnessing such a strong bond between siblings, especially when they're not same-sex siblings.  I only wish I was more invested in the characters.  I didn't know enough about them to really love and root for them.

3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Reads

  1. I use a trip to the grocery store as a way to unwind and don't find the NYC lines frustrating at all (once I learned how to navigate the different stores).  I wonder how many people will opt into Chicory, a delivery service that works by attaching a "Get Ingredients" button to the bottom of online recipes.
  2. Protesters in Hong Kong are looking for the leader, Leung Chun-ying, to step down because they aren't happy with his policy of prescreening candidates for his successor.  Basically, it's freedom on a very tight leash. 
  3. Has anyone noticed all the songs about rear ends that popped up at the end of summer?  Maybe all this booty talk is good for society.
  4. California is outlawing plastic bags but charging for paper ones.  Will people adapt to bringing their own from home?

30 Before 30: #27 - Take One Picture Each Day for a Month

Taking a picture every day may not seem like much of a challenge in the days where our cameras are our phones and our phones fit in our pockets.  But this project wasn't just about taking lots of selfies; it was an attempt for me to stop for one moment every single day and find something to appreciate.  It is all too easy to slip into the same routine day after day.  Walking the exact same streets to work and going home to the exact same apartment can get monotonous and boring.  But even in a routine, it's possible to find something new every day that can make you smile.  This project means discovery.  It means gratitude.

Some days were easy.  One Sunday there was the most gorgeous sunset and another day I found a school door to be stately and beautiful in its own way.  But then other days it would be 11 PM and I hadn't found a single thing interesting enough for a picture.  It was those days that I realized how great it was that I could see the greatness of NYC just by looking out my bedroom blinds.  Snap: that's picture worthy.  Or how snuggling under the covers with my Bella was one of my favorite things ever so that deserved a picture as well.

I managed to tag almost all of the pictures in the collection (27 of the 30) with #SeptemberSnaps on Instagram.  I also used #30picsin30days to follow my own journey.

Date of Completion: 9/30/14

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pasta with Salami

Instead of having a cheese plate for supper two nights in a row, I recently incorporated some leftover Hungarian salami into a pasta dish.  I boiled up some spinach and chive linguine (Trader Joe's) and tossed it with some store-bought marinara.  The trick here is to put in enough sauce to just coat the pasta.  I once learned on a cooking show that if you see any sauce left in the pan, you've used too much.  The salami had been sliced thin for the cheese plate, which was exactly how I wanted it.  I sliced it into strips and tong-tossed it with the pasta.  I used scissors to slice up my salami.  It may seem barbaric, but it was the most efficient way to do it and my salami ribbons were perfect.  Top off with a drizzle of some really good quality extra virgin olive oil and some fresh parm.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3 on Thursday

Despite a beautiful Indian Summer weekend of temperatures in the low 80s, we're really beginning to see a shift in the weather.  I don't mind the occasion to pull the cardis out of my closet, but my body is not reacting so well to the change.  I'm in the process of staving of a cold and thanks to udon soup and lots of hot tea with honey, I've been keeping the symptoms at bay.  After an incredibly busy summer, the slightly scratchy throat and stuffed nose are serving as a nice reminder that it's time to slow down now that fall has arrived.

  1. Usually my trips to The Strand are limited to quick digs through their streetside bargain bins, but last weekend my plans cancelled and I found myself standing outside one of my favorite bookstores with nothing but time.  I picked up four new books and have already started devouring them.
  2. Just at the tail end of summer I discovered the perfect pink shade.  With my complexion, true pinks can be touchy.  I always felt like the bright shades are best for blondes.  Scared by the nearly neon shade in the tube (the pic doesn't quite show how bright it looks), I was nervous to try Maybelline's Color Whisper in Petal Rebel.  Once I put it on, it immediately became a favorite.  It is perfect for summer as it alludes to a bright pink while still somehow remaining tame.  
  3. Usually when you run in a race, your participation gets you a t-shirt.  T-shirts can be great, but now that I'm out of college, I only wear them to sleep so I was so happy that the 10K I ran earned me a great tote.  It's super durable and shows off my support of the FEED organization.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review: At Bertram's Hotel

When it was becoming apparent that I was becoming a real bookworm and bored with the novels around me, my Mom introduced me to Agatha Christie.  I fell in love with her mysteries and the gradual unraveling of secrets.  It had been years since I had read anything by Christie, but when I saw one of her novels on sale for $2 outside The Strand, I picked it up.  The fact that the title was "At Bertram's Hotel" intrigued me all the more as it immediately called to mind my own Grandpa Bert (short, indeed, for Bertram) who not only encouraged my reading more than anyone else, but [like Christie's novels] was always a bit of a mystery to me.

"At Bertram's Hotel" does not follow the same format as most other Agatha Christie mysteries.  There is a murder at some point, but it does not occur in the beginning and the overall plot is a bit wild and out there.  It was more "fun," I would say.  The allure of Bertram's Hotel is that it has maintained all the charm of old England, as if it was frozen in time.  But when Miss Marple stays there, she can tell that something is not right; after all, nothing can really remain unchanged after all these years.  So she begins to observe the comings and goings of the hotel's cast of characters.  There are clandestine meetings happening all over the place and they all begin to make sense as Miss Marple and Chief Inspector Davy learn more about the hotel guests.  It's a real caper - like a slightly more serious Scooby Doo episode for adults.

3.5 out of 5 stars.


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