05
Aug 17

Mini vacay, the Boston edition

Sunset over Somerville.

A couple of friends and I were supposed to go on a “girls’ getaway” last weekend. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a reasonably priced place to stay so that plan got scrapped. But I still spent a few days with my bestie in Boston.

The Greek

I got an early start to the weekend by taking Friday off and going out Thursday night.

Another friend and I met up for drinks and apps at the Greek in Tribeca. It’s a little pricey but the cocktails and food are yummy. I was trying to choose a cocktail when the bartender suddenly took the menu from me and said, “I will make something for you.” Oh um okay. I thought he was going to custom-make something because he overheard my lamenting the fact that they no longer had their ouzo-based cocktail, but it was just a cucumber and gin one off the menu.

I mean, it was good, but not what I would have chosen. Although the garnishes, Mexican cucumbers which look exactly like watermelons, were so cute. For a nosh, I had the keftedes, Greek meatballs. Yum!

The movie we saw was Girls Trip. It was enjoyable. All of the actors were good, but Tiffany Haddish was ridiculously engaging and hilarious.

Boston Burger Company

I got into town about one on Friday, and was starving despite the plethora of snacks I had brought on the bus. I was craving a burger, and this place was right near the subway station where we met. I got the Killer Bee, which comes with a stack of BBQ sauce-covered onion rings:

I swear there was an actual burger under there.

We also shared some garlic parm fries. Really hit the spot.

Fuller Craft Museum

My friend told me how when her mom visited the previous weekend, she barely wanted to do anything. She just wanted to hang out, run errands, and help my friend organize and clean her condo. I was like #weekendgoals! and decided I wouldn’t pressure myself into doing a million “fun” activities.

We did just one: visit the Fuller Craft Museum.

I enjoyed their quilt exhibit, which was different interpretations of what’s called the Bull’s Eye pattern. I ran into a lady who remarked that while the quilts were beautiful, hardly anyone would have room to hang one on their walls.

“I guess you’re right,” I said. “But you could throw it on your bed.”

“You mean use it as a blanket?” the lady asked, seemingly flabbergasted by the idea.

“Well yes. They’re quilts.”

“No, they’re not.” She pointed to the adjoining room. “Those are quilts over there. These aren’t quilts.”

“Yes, they are. They’re part of the same exhibit.”

“Oh.” She looked around. “They would make beautiful quilts.”

Yes, because they’re literally quilts.

Anyway, I also liked their permanent collection as well as the Amber Cowan Re/Collection exhibit:

What she does is take vintage glass and glassworks, and either work them into new pieces or recreate and reinterpret them. The pieces were an interesting mix of whimsical, erotic, and borderline grotesque.

The only downsides to the museum were that I was hungry and freezing the whole time. I knew it was going to be cool but I didn’t realize how cool, and while I had long pants, I didn’t have a heavy enough jacket. I would have brought a Cliff Bar for a snack, but we assumed they’d have a cafe. A woman said they used to but not anymore.

IKEAn cuisine

Besides the museum, we mostly just shopped. Friday afternoon we hit two shoe stores (I bought two pairs of shoes), Old Navy (a cute top and dress), and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Saturday, we went to IKEA.

After two hours of starving at the museum, I was really happy to chow down on some Swedish meatballs.

I got mine with the sides that come with the veggie balls. The vegetables, green beans, were the same, but instead of mashed potatoes, I got a quinoa and farro mix. We also got dessert, this delicious chocolate and hazelnut cake.

Ah, Brockton, the home of exotic IKEAn cuisine.

Eating and drinking at home

In the continued theme of a chill weekend, we ate the rest of our meals at home. Friday night my friend made scallops in a cream sauce over pasta; Saturday morning we had a hearty brunch of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and toast; and that night we had some random snacks after our late lunch at IKEA.

We also drank quite a bit of booze.

Absinthe

My friend was on purging spree and determined to get rid of a bunch of liquor, one of which was the absinthe she bought on our trip to Prague many years ago.

Following some instructions from the Internet, I divided the small bottle into two glasses and slowly added some sugar. You’re supposed to melt the sugar slowly over a slotted spoon, but of course we didn’t have that and made do with fast-melting sugar. I sprinkled it in very slowly and kept stirring. Still, it wasn’t dissolving.

After a while I gave up and took a sip. It was SO STRONG. Like burn-a-path-of-fire down my throat strong. I looked up what kind of mixers to use with absinthe and found other instructions that said to add water. Oops. I added a little, which lightened the taste (although it still had a kick) and finally dissolved the sugar.

The absinthe got us tipsy but we weren’t freaking out. It did feel different from other alcohol. The word that keeps coming to mind is a “waviness.” My friend kept saying she felt warm throughout her body. Later when I looked in the mirror, I saw that my eyes were SO RED. I don’t think my eyes get red from other alcohol.

Becherovka bitters and Kavalan whisky

The next night we tried this, another Prague purchase. I followed a Czech mule recipe, which includes ginger beer and lime. At first I put just one ounce of the bitters, but because their alcohol content is so low, the cocktail mostly tasted like ginger beer and lime. We added at least another ounce.

It was slightly stronger, but not by much. That’s when I decided to add the Taiwan whisky that I had brought.

I tried it straight first, and it was yummy. While my friend drank hers neat, I dumped mine in my cocktail. It wasn’t terrible but not fabulous either. Still, I drank most of it, and it did the trick.

Cherry rum and Dubliner liqueur

We also tried a couple of small bottles of liquor my friend had won in some contest. The first one, a cherry rum, smelled like cough syrup to me — and tasted EXACTLY like it. It was so disgusting and the aftertaste, even worse.

The other was a Dubliner liqueur with honeycomb liqueur. It was pretty good although too sweet for me, at least after all that ginger beer.

Chilling on the porch

My last night my friend and I just sat on her porch chatting, drinking, and eating.

It was so simple yet so much fun. Sometimes the simplest things are.


11
Jul 17

Palisades Interstate Park: A nice day for a hike

For last summer’s hike, I wasn’t prepared. This time I was although I felt dorky wearing my big hiking boots with shorts. Then again, that seems like a typical hiker’s outfit. Plus it wasn’t a zillion degrees out. It was barely 80, not humid, and breezy. A perfect day for a hike.

While it’s always lovely to go up to Hudson Valley, the schlep is quite long. The Palisades Interstate Park, on the other hand, is just a 15-minute drive from Fort Lee, which is a 30-minute bus ride from Manhattan.

Before heading out, we had a light lunch at one of the picnic tables near this gorgeous view:

That’s the Hudson River, by the way. The park is on the state line (hence, the name) between New Jersey and New York so while you’re walking, you’ll cross between two states.

While one of us wanted to do the Giant Stairs (described as “challenging, with a difficult rock scramble”), we decided on a “moderate” hike instead, the Peanut Leap Cascade. It’s just 2.5 miles but much of it is rocky and steep. I don’t mind going uphill, but what I don’t like is downhill. I always feel like I’m going to slip and fall, even with my hiking boots.

Still, I wasn’t too worried about myself, but I was about a couple we ran into. The woman had a newborn strapped to her chest and seemed apprehensive. Her husband kept insisting she’d be fine. In the end they were — we’d run into them again later — but he still seemed like a clueless jerk.

Anyway, we passed some beautiful views, as well as a waterfall —

palisades_interstate_waterfull_IG

— where I got caught in a stream of light and water:

There was also a swing for two. I’m sure there are some embarrassing photos and possibly a video of my friend and I swinging together. The swing was right near the Hudson River:

palisades_interstate_hudson_close_IG

I could listen to the sound of water lapping all day.

After we finished that hike, it was still early so we decided on another, easier one, a two-mile trek to the Women’s Federation Monument.

That hike was definitely easier than the first one, but it wasn’t exactly easy. There was one steep part, which knocked us all on our asses by the time we were done. The castle-like Women’s Federation Monument, by the way, is dedicated to the women who were behind the conservation efforts in the area. Before then, according to the website, “several big quarries had begun blasting the Hudson’s famous Palisades Cliffs for gravel for roadbeds and for broken stone for concrete.”

After that hike we were all ready for an early dinner. We decided on Soba Noodle Azuma in Fort Lee. Despite the warm weather, I was craving something hot. I got the nabeyaki udon:

Which was literally boiling when they set it in front of me. A delicious way to end a delightful day.


18
Jun 17

A Storm King Saturday

Like Beacon and Dia, the Storm King Art Center was a place we had been talking about going to for a long time. Last weekend we finally made it. But before we got there, we made a couple of stops.

Dottie Audrey’s Bakery Kitchen

First as per our usual routine was food. Namely, lunch at this cute place in Tuxedo Park. I was so tempted by the cookies, but stuck with the Huschwaring Breakfast, two eggs over a casserole of sausage, kale, potatoes, and cream cheese. What’s huschwaring? Husch seems to mean “shoo” in German, but I don’t know what waring is. Whatever it means, it was delicious.

Walkway over the Hudson

Next was this converted railway bridge.

On the Walkway Over the Hudson

Also known as the Poughkeepsie Bridge, it spans the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Highland. It was built as a railroad bridge back in 1889 and taken out of commission in 1974 after a fire. In 2009 it reopened as a pedestrian walkway.

Walking on it was lovely when there was a breeze. Otherwise it was pretty hot. Signs warned dog owners that the concrete could burn poor Fido’s paws, but the dogs we saw looked pretty happy.

Bad Seed Cider Company

What better way to cool off than at a cidery? We got two tasting flights for a total of eight ciders between the five of us.

We picked non-hoppy ones so to me they were all yummy. The only one that was a little hard to drink was the sour one, which was very sour. At first I thought the raspberry one was too sweet, but it started to grow on me. I also really liked the ginger, Up North, lager, and bourbon.

We also did a blind taste test. None of us could guess the right one, except for Aki’s fiance.

Storm King

Finally, Storm King! I’d heard of it from Aki long ago, and recently saw it on the latest season of Master of None, which made it look so incredibly gorgeous.

Photo via Netflix

My photos were just meh, but I was able to snap a few of the sculptures, like Zhang Huan’s Three-Legged Buddha —

Alexander Calder’s The Arch —

Alexander Liberman’s The Iliad —

— and a few of Mark di Suvero’s works:

I also enjoyed the sunlight through the trees —

— and the clouds after a brief yet crazy rainstorm.

We didn’t get to see the entire place (it’s enormous) but we saw quite a lot.

Kimchi Mama

We had stayed at Storm King almost until closing so by the time we got to this Korean takeout place in New Jersey, I was STARVING. I probably could have gotten one of the “Cupbobs” with dumplings for an extra $1, but instead I had the marinated beef bowl. It was good. It had tons of veggies and the beef was tasty, but it was a bit overpriced at $12.

Want to read about even more of NYC adventures (for some reason)? Check them all out.

[Flickr photo: “On the Walkway Over the Hudson” by slgckgc, CC BY 2.0]


17
Jun 17

A cheap night in Chelsea

Whenever my friend Ellen comes to town, it means an action-packed few days. Last weekend was no different.

Chelsea Market

My other friend Aki and I got Friday night started early with a visit to Chelsea Market.

The market is a lot more happening than it used to be. I remember going years ago and it being kind of empty except for a couple of markets and bakeries. Now there are tons of little eateries, as well as tons of people.

I got there a little early so I had time to squeeze in a —

— at the Chelsea Wine Vault. Most of the wines were delicious. One white was a tad dry for me. I didn’t expect to like the reds, but they were very mellow. My favorite of course was the sweetest one, which was also bubbly. That was enough to get me good and tipsy so I didn’t even need an $8 happy hour cocktail.

Then for dinner Aki and I split a ground lamb hummus entree from Dizengoff for $14, or $7 each.

That with a little cucumber and tomato salad and a fresh, hot pita each was surprisingly filling and unsurprisingly delicious.

We wanted dessert and thought Seed + Mill had ice cream in cones and cups, but turns out they sell their goat’s milk ice cream only by the pint at their Chelsea Market location. The guy tried to convince us to get some halva. We tried some (free sample), and while it was good, it wasn’t ice cream.

Whitney Museum

We met up with Ellen at the Whitney which was, you guessed it, free! Friday nights admission is pay what you wish. Also my Pratt alumnus ID gets me and one guest in for gratis.

As you can guess, the line to get in was hella long, especially since it was the last weekend of the Biennial. But it moved pretty quickly, and before we knew it, we were in.

So how was it? Hard to say. There were so many people, it was hard to get a handle the exhibit. Maybe it would have been more meaningful if I had the chance to read and absorb, but instead I was just annoyed and overwhelmed. I did, however, enjoy the Calder exhibit that opened that night.

The last Whitney Biennial I really liked was way back with Matthew Barney’s CREMASTER Cycle series. I can’t remember what year it was. I don’t remember being impressed by any since then although maybe I’ve just forgotten.

Next up: a Saturday at Storm King.


23
Apr 17

Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Easter Parade

So my friends and I ate and drank at a ton of places, and went up to Beacon for the day. Think that’s enough? Au contraire.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This was my first time here, and it was perfectly lovely, although of course it would have been nicer if more trees and flowers had been in bloom. But the ones that were in bloom were gorgeous:

While we were walking around, I kept forgetting where we were. L.A.? Europe? The garden did a good job of making me feel like I was away.

Easter Parade

We had big plans to see this parade, but we got there too late. However, we still got to see a lot of people dressed up, especially in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The parade inspired to maybe (emphasis on maybe) participate next year. Seems like all I’d need is a dress (check) and a great big hat with some flowers slapped on.


22
Apr 17

A birthday trip to Beacon

In case you don’t know, Beacon is a picturesque little town in Hudson Valley. Nearby is hiking and Storm King, but our destination that day was Dia, a big modern art museum.

Getting there

The MTA offers package deals of a Metro-North train ticket plus museum admission. We took the 9:43 train — and so did everyone else it seems. The train was pretty packed maybe because it was the Saturday before Easter and beautiful weather on top of that. But we were each able to get our own seats.

The ride was only supposed to be 90 minutes, but it took two hours because of delays.

Beacon Bread Company

By the time we got there, we were starving, or at least I was. After some back and forth, we settled on the Beacon Bread Company. The food ended up being really good (I got the Basic Breakfast with sausage patties) but it took forever. Upwards of 30 minutes. Later we figured out the town was slammed with visitors and the restaurants weren’t used to having so many people.

Zora Dora’s Micro Batch Ice Cream

For dessert we went to this artisan popsicle place. Sounds so obnoxious but it was really good. I had a cookies and cream, which was made with milk instead of ice cream and not super sugary.

Dia

Finally, Dia! The museum is in what was a Nabisco factory, and still has that feeling: big open, industrial spaces. The artwork is similar to how it used to be at the Whitney. Those enormous Richard Serra installations, those head-scratching Robert Smithson pieces (although the Spiral Jetty is one of my absolute favorites)

We also relaxed on the John Chamberlain couch installation, enjoyed the Louise Bourgeois sculptures

— and had a blast fooling around in Dan Flavin’s Untitled:

While the walk back to Main Street wasn’t long, we were glad for the cheap shuttle bus.

Denning’s Point Distillery

Ellen was kind enough to treat me to a tasting flight at this distillery. But the gins, whiskies, and bourbons were so strong, I could barely drink any and was pretty much drunk immediately. Yet I still had a cocktail (a Modern Mule, natch) with plenty of free popcorn to soak it up.

Glazed Over Donuts

After the distillery, we passed a couple with donuts. We asked if the place was still open, and they said they had just closed but to “try the side entrance.” We didn’t know what that meant, but sure enough the side door was still open.

Desperate we said we’d take any three donuts they had left. We ended up with — I can’t even remember, except that caramel, peanut butter, chocolate, and marshmallows were all involved.

The donuts were still warm so I had a couple of bites but saved the rest for a delectable breakfast the next morning.

Next up: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and the Easter Parade.


21
Apr 17

NYC Adventures, April 2017: Eats and drinks

060806foodlove

My good friend Ellen was in town for Passover, which happened to be right before my birthday so I took advantage and had a fun-filled pre-birthday weekend, which, as always, involved a lot of eating, drinking, and museum-ing. First up, the eats.

Pennsy

Ellen had spent the day with her dad and was dropping him off at Penn Station so we met at Pennsy, the newish food court that’s in what used to be Borders.

While it’s certainly nicer than anything in Penn Station (although now there’s a Pret a Manger and a Magnolia Bakery), it still leaves a lot to be desired with only half a dozen choices.

I had an overpriced, mediocre cocktail (it should take longer than 30 seconds to mix one) and we shared yummy mac ‘n cheese appetizer from Pat LaFrieda.

Shanghai Mong

Next we walked to nearby Koreatown. Shanghai Mong is one of my favorite places for jajangmyeon. One order will set you back just $8.99, but we ended up spending a lot more than that.

Perhaps we got a bit too much food. We got the grilled jajangmyeon, the sweet and sour pork, and the dukbokki. We probably should have gotten just two out of those three dishes, although the leftover pork made a good snack over the next couple of days.

Tim Ho Wan

We’ve been talking about going to Tim Ho Wan for a while, and we finally made it bright and early the Friday before Easter.

Which seems to have been the right time to go. This dim sum place is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant there is so there’s always a massive line. But our wait wasn’t bad. It opened at 10 and we got there about 9:40. While the vestibule was packed, we were the first people on line outside (and I was ferocious to anyone who tried to get in front of us). As soon as the doors opened, we were able to get a table.

Tim Ho Wan doesn’t have carts like other dim sum restaurants. You place your order and they bring it to you. Maybe that’s why it feels less chaotic. And the food certainly lives up to the hype. We got the roast pork buns, turnip cakes, shrimp dumplings, sticky rice, and some other dumplings.

My favorites were the roast pork buns:

I loved the savory meat in contrast with the slightly sweet pineapple outside. I also loved the turnip cakes, which were far more turnip than cake. But everything else was excellent too.

I would totally go again, even with the wait.

Brooklyn Ball Factory

By the name of this place, you’d have no idea that it’s Japanese. A find by our friend, Aki, the amateur concierge, it started in Williamsburg and opened a second location more recently in what they call Hell’s Kitchen, but let’s face it is Times Square.

They do a kind of modern take on onigiri, bento boxes, and dora-yaki. What do balls have to do with it? Their specialty are their meatballs, which were delicious.

Momosan Ramen & Sake

The night we came back from a day trip to Beacon (more on that later), we had a late dinner at Momosan (at Aki’s suggestion) near Grand Central.

The decor is very hip, but the prices are reasonable. I got the tonkotsu ramen for $11:

I thought they forgot my egg and without question they brought me one. Then I found my original egg under the seaweed. Oops! Oh well, a free egg with my birthday noodles.

The only downside was that our waitress was pretty snooty (not the one who brought my extra egg). There goes your 20% tip.

Pil Pil

Another Aki find. This tapas place isn’t too far from where I live. Plus! They have $3 beer and sangria during happy hour. We weren’t very hungry so a few tapas plates between the three of us was perfect. We got ham croquettes, a bacon and date thingie, and some kind of tostas, I forget which.

Next up: our trip to Beacon.

[Flickr photo: “060806foodlove” by Dan4th Nicholas, CC BY 2.0]


05
Jan 17

NYC Adventures: 2016 Holiday Edition

While last year I went out of town, this holiday season out-of-towners came to me, which meant I got to see some New York sights I’d never seen before, and a few I hadn’t visited in a while.

The United Nations

United Nations

[Photo by Paul VanDerWerf, CC BY 2.0]

I worked near the United Nations for 10 years but never went inside. Last week was my first time. My friend Motoko from Tokyo and her son wanted a tour, and Ellen, my buddy in Boston, was kind enough to arrange it and to, of course, join in on the fun.

You have to go through quite a bit of security before getting inside. No wonder they ask you to get there an hour before your tour time. You check in at one location, wait in line at the main location, then put your stuff through metal detectors and go through a full body scan, just like at the airport. It was so similar, some people were about to take their shoes off.

Once you get inside, it’s worth it. The lobby is beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures. That’s what I get for not having much memory on my phone.

The tour was interesting, but because I was sleep deprived, I didn’t retain much of it. What I do remember was the guide was credentialed up the wazoo. She spoke three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish), had a master’s degree in international relations, and was fluent in English despite having come from Japan just two years ago.

She was also nice enough to translate for Motoko’s son, although that wouldn’t have happened if Motoko hadn’t noticed her Japanese name, or if Ellen hadn’t asked her to translate in the first place.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

I’ve been to the Grand Central Oyster Bar a couple of times before, but it’s been several years since my last visit.

The Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, New York City

[Photo by Jazz Guy, CC BY 2.0]

That’s not my picture of the bar although we sat at the bar.

What I love about the place is that it’s a mixed crowd. You have tourists but you also have working stiffs who want to get away from their desks for 40 minutes and enjoy some delicious clam chowder.

Which is what I had. Tasty and filling and only $7.

The Met

Of course I’ve been to the Met a hundred times, but what I’d never seen before was a line that long. How long? It went out the door, down the stairs, and onto the sidewalk. It was a perfect storm of the early afternoon, the holidays and a chilly, steady rain.

Little do the hoi polloi know, there’s a semi-secret side entrance which is a million times less crowded. Another friend showed it to me and Ellen long ago, and it’s the only entrance I’ve used ever since.

Still, that didn’t keep the rest of the museum from being mobbed, especially the Impressionist wing. Our guests lasted half a dozen Monets, Degas, and Seurats before we took refuge in the cafeteria.

Peter Luger Steak House

A great thing about out-of-town visitors, besides the company of course, is that I end up doing things I never would have on my own. Such as dinner at Peter Luger.

If you want an old school New York experience and don’t mind spending a little dough, you’ll love Peter Luger. Perhaps its Brooklyn location has something to do with it, but I felt like everyone — the managers, the waiters, even the other diners — had walked straight out of some movie about NYC.

And the food was good too. We started with sliced tomatoes and onions, which is literally just that. What makes the dish is their sauce, similar to cocktail sauce but not tomato-y. We also got a single (massive) slab of bacon.

Unfortunately by the time our 16 ounce steaks came, I wasn’t that hungry, and could barely make a dent, although I had no problem finishing off our sides of creamed spinach and German fried potatoes, which were similar to hash browns.

It came out to about $80 per person including tax and tip, which may seem steep, but with all the leftovers and the experience itself, it was worth it.

Corner Cafe & Bakery

I’ve been wanting to try this place since I moved into my neighborhood little more than a year ago. New Year’s Eve morning, I finally did, and it didn’t disappoint.

I got the Southern breakfast.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

That’s three eggs, bacon, potatoes, a corn muffin, and fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce. A delectable way to finish out 2016.

InterContinental Barclay Hotel

Something else I don’t usually do is go out on New Year’s Eve. To me NYE is basically SantaCon without the Santa suits. But this year I found myself out and about, and I have to admit, it was a nice change of pace.

After helping Motoko pick up some provisions for her feverish son, Ellen and I ended up spending a relaxing afternoon at Motoko’s beautiful hotel.

While we charged our phones at the bar, we each got an old fashioned.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was very well made, and I got sufficiently tipsy. Plus the bartender was very nice and didn’t make us feel rushed.

I’d definitely return to the InterContinental Barclay bar just to have a drink and hang out.

Times Square on New Year’s Eve

Our relaxing afternoon came to an end when we headed out to meet our friend Aki. She and her boyfriend had a party later and were staying at a hotel for the night. Unfortunately that hotel was right near Times Square.

Getting from Midtown East to Midtown West on New Year’s Eve was like trying to climb over the Berlin Wall. But climb over it we did, mostly due to Ellen’s persistence. Like Aki said, I was about to call it a night when Ellen finally found a cop who let us through the barricades.

The hotel itself was pretty relaxing. We ended up eating discounted happy hour snacks in the lounge instead of trying to find a restaurant. The food hit the spot. Wings, pita and hummus, quesadillas, and a pizza-like flatbread.

At about 8:30 I made Ellen leave. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in that part of town close to midnight. We walked Aki and her boyfriend partway to their party and grabbed a cab at Columbus Circle. By nine, we were in PJs and watching Orange Is the New Black, my kind of NYE. I was happy that Ellen was so accommodating.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

The next day we headed back to the west side and had our first lunch of 2017. Pure Thai Cookhouse was an Aki find. It was packed but didn’t seem touristy, an excellent combination.

I got the special, a beef dish in a mildly spicy curry paste with a fried egg.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

A yummy start to the new year.

Here’s hoping that every day of 2017 is as delicious.


16
Nov 15

NYC Adventures: Cider, museums, an albino peacock

One of my friends came into town this weekend, and of course it was chock-full of activities.

Cider Week

It was Cider Week so there were a bunch of free tastings throughout the city. We focused on the Upper West Side, where we passed Lincoln Center, always so pretty at night.

We imbibed much free wine and cider, but we did each buy a bottle of delicious cinnamon hard cider from one place. Then we capped off an evening of drinking in the perfect way: yummy ramen at Jin Ramen.

The Cloisters

The next day we went to the Cloisters, which, even after all my years in New York, I’ve never been to before. It took a while to get there. At first we thought we had made a mistake paying over six dollars for a fancy bus instead of a local city one. But the six dollar bus took less than 20 minutes while the regular one would have taken an hour.

Before we went to the museum, we got sandwiches at this old school deli nearby. “Old school” meaning you pick all the ingredients for your sandwich. My friend was at a complete loss. I guess she’s only been to places where they have a limited selection of sandwiches with clever names.

Although it was chilly out, we ate on a bench outside. I got mortadella, which is basically high-quality bologna. My friend got some kind of roast pork. She asked to try mine and I said sure, and then tried to take a quarter.

“That’s not a bite!” I said.

“But I’ll give you some of mine.”

No thanks. I’ll stick with my chichi bologna.

After we finished eating, we headed up to the museum. Around it is a lovely park with a beautiful view of the Hudson River.

The museum was lovely too. I splurged on the audio tour, which was well worth it, although I did get pooped out after about an hour.

Cooper Hewitt

It was a two-museum day! Later that night we went to the Cooper Hewitt, which is pay what you wish after six on Saturdays. The main exhibit was on Pixar, which was just okay to be honest. I think it was designed primarily for kids. We really enjoyed their permanent exhibit however.

An Upper West Side Sunday

My friend had wanted to take a day trip somewhere, but she had a bit of an upset stomach and wasn’t wearing the most comfortable shoes. However, she did manage to walk across Central Park to Absolute Bagels.

There was a line all the way down the sidewalk, but it moved pretty quickly, and I felt in the mood for the whole experience.

And it was totally worth it. The bagels were fresh and hot. I got my favorite: sesame with lox spread.

As per New York design, it had a shit ton of cream cheese. I gave my friend almost half (she had gotten no cream cheese). I managed to eat my entire bagel and a bit of her cinnamon raisin. Yum.

Our next stop was Saint John the Divine. Since half the cathedral was roped off for a service, the outside grounds were more interesting. There was this huge crazy statue —

— and, randomly, an albino peacock.

After that we stopped in the Hungarian Pastry Shop, a place I frequented often during my college days. Even after so much bagel, I wanted something sweet, and got this chocolate hazelnut ganache thing. It was delicious.

Speaking of my college days, next we visited Columbia and Barnard. At Low Library, I showed my friend the secret owl hidden in the robes of the Alma Mater statue. At that time, a woman was looking for it and couldn’t find it. She was happy to know where it was.

It’s been a long time since I visited Barnard, and I was surprised to find the student center was completely fancy and redone. We used the free wifi and filled our water bottles from the bottle filling station. It all made me wish I was back in college.

It was kind of an exhausting weekend, but a very nice way to spend a few beautiful, late fall days.


25
May 15

The Castro, the Mission, and Petaluma

My east coast friends don’t often have the chance to come to the Bay Area. So when my friend Yiannis said he was coming for a wedding in Petaluma, I was thrilled.

Flore

We met at this cute place in the Castro for brunch. He was on New York time so he was starving. I wasn’t but I still pigged out, promptly falling off the diet wagon. I had a “sausage scramble,” which had goat cheese in addition to sausage, with a side of potatoes and a mocha. It was all delicious.

Graffiti, San Francisco style

We weren’t heading out to the wedding until later that afternoon so we had time to walk around. Yiannis used to live in the area and wanted to show me his old haunts. Along the way we saw plenty of cool graffiti:

Plus, cactus leaves for sale!

Mission Dolores Basilica

We also had time to visit the Mission Dolores Basilica, which even after six years of living in the Bay Area, I never visited. The stained glass was beautiful:

And the garden out back was lovely:

A post shared by yonkey (@yonkey) on

La Taqueria

After all that walking, we got hungry again and stopped at this awesome place in the Mission. I got a quesadilla, but it was way bigger than I expected, and I only finished half. Yiannis, on the other hand, plowed through three tacos and three (count ‘em) THREE beverages:

A post shared by yonkey (@yonkey) on

Not judging.

Petaluma

The drive out took longer than expected because of the traffic. I loved seeing another part of the area. It was beautiful in a way but quite dry of course due to the drought.

The ceremony was scheduled to start at four, and we got there at 4:20. D’oh! Luckily for us, they were having a late start, as a lot of weddings do, and we didn’t miss a thing.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Instead of cloudy and foggy, it was sunny and warm-ish for a change. During the ceremony I saw a hummingbird hover over a pot of flowers. Later Yiannis’s friend said she saw one land on their archway as she and her wife took their vows.

The hors d’oeuvres were yummy and I enjoyed half a glass of chardonnay, and half a glass of champagne, as evinced by my red face:

A post shared by yonkey (@yonkey) on

Everyone I talked to was delightful, especially Yiannis’s friend, but except for this drunk woman who cornered us and proceeded to tell the same story about ten times in a row, and kept insisting that Yiannis go to her house for a home-cooked Mexican meal despite his saying that he was leaving early the next morning.

But all in all, it was such a lovely wedding, and such a nice visit with my friend.