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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane? What hurricane?

Much like this week's other natural disaster, Hurricane Irene was a bit of a nonevent for me. Kurt and I headed out a while ago to assess the "damage" in the neighborhood.
You can always count on the Cubbyhole to have a clever this case, that would be $3 hurricane shots. I noticed yesterday a number of businesses and some homes had taped their windows...
By the time we left the apartment around 3 p.m. (we had to finish watching our Pay-Per-View rental, Jane Eyre), there were lots of people out walking along the Hudson River Park. Even more than a typical Sunday! Guess everybody was tired of being inside.

The wind has picked up again in the last hour, but overall it's been really quiet. I woke up this morning a little before six and saw some wind and rain, but nothing alarming. By the time I woke up after 10 (oops), it was fine outside and not really even raining anymore.

The biggest adventure of yesterday was going to our local grocery store. When I walked in, I wondered where all the carts and baskets were. Answer: in line! The shelves were stocked, and the store was fully staffed, but they were so overwhemed with customers that I could hardly navigate the aisles to do my shopping. I found everything I needed and then waited in line about 45 minutes, passing the time reading a fascinating/disgusting New York magazine article about placenta consumption and chatting with a delightful British gal in front of me. We both agreed the fact the grocery store could be so well stocked for such unanticipated demand was a reminder of the land of abundance in which we live. Like me, she said she cooks much less here than she did when she lived elsewhere, so the prospect of two days of feeding oneself inside one's apartment seemed novel.

Anyway, for dinner I made Crooks Corner Shrimp and Grits. It's a trusty standby that Leigh Ann and I love, and she has perfected the approach...the secret is to have everything chopped and ready before you start cooking, since it comes together quite quickly. Kurt's birthday was last Saturday, so it was a bit of a belated birthday supper.
Dessert was Crack Pie. I haven't had the real thing at Momofuku Milk Bar, but I noticed the recipe on Bon Appetit's website and thought it would be fun to make, for the name if nothing else. You start by making a big oatmeal cookie.
Once the cookie cools, you crumble it and mix it with softened butter and more sugar, then press it into a crust. (Note, this is supposed to be done in a glass pie dish, but I didn't have one, so I improvised.)
Then you make a filling that is basically just eggs, sugar, a little bit of powdered milk (I had to buy a whole box of powdered milk, which was annoying, but I really wanted to make this pie!)
You bake it for a while at 350, then a while longer at 325. I'm not sure how precisely calibrated our oven is, so I just did my best and figured there was no way I could really screw up anything with this much butter and sugar in it.
I think the pan I used had a larger surface area, so what I ended up with was probably more similar to a cookie bar. It's also meant to be refrigerated overnight...I decided we'd just eat some of it warm and then do a comparison with the cold version today. It was delicious! CRAZY rich. I served it with a little whipped cream to add a little more fat.
Kurt's friend David walked over to enjoy the meal. And there you have it: crack pie and shrimp and grits, that's how we braved the storm of the century!

Looks like I'll be walking 40 blocks to work tomorrow, as it sounds like it will take a while to get the subway running again. Very grateful to the employees at the grocery store and the gym who came to work yesterday and made things so easy for me. It's easy to say people overreacted to this storm now, but rolling our eyes over "much ado about nothing" is certainly preferable to the opposite extreme! 

P.S. result of cold crack pie taste test is that it's good either way. Still need to make a field trip to the Milk Bar to have the real thing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I've been adopted!

One of my very favorite families was in town this may remember my friend Peggy's little sister Ellen lives here. We had drinks when I first arrived. Ellen had a birthday on Sunday, so Peggy and her parents came up for a visit. They were joined by Peggy's boyfriend Charles, her uncle Todd and Todd's girlfriend Kiersten. First stop on Saturday: the Brooklyn Botannical Gardens.
From the gardens, we went on a long walk to the Brooklyn Fleamarket and enjoyed the sights and sounds of various neighborhoods along the way.
Brooklyn is really ginormous. I had no idea where we were, and it was cool just to walk wherever Ellen led us.
Unfortunately, the day was a bit toastier than expected, and the outdoor market was steamy. We did a little bit of browsing...
Then we made a beeline for the People's Pops stand, where Peggy treated us to an assortment of flavors. I had peach ginger; Hanna had raspberry basil. There was also cantaloupe...I can't remember with what. Yummy and so refreshing!
I chilled out on Saturday night and let the clan enjoy a family dinner without their "adopted child." Then I met them again on Sunday at Chelsea Market. We wandered around the West Village and found a great brunch deal at Dublin on Hudson Street. The entrees were all either $15 or $17 and came with two drinks! SCORE! (I forgot to mention we cooled off with a round of bloody marys after the popsicles on Saturday. See why I wanted to be adopted by this family?)
I was worried I might be disinherited for ordering a burrito at an Irish place, but they let me stay with the group. Next stop: Magnolia Bakery. What says happy birthday like banana pudding?
Peggy's dad Dick tried to make me finish his blueberry pie. He is the best. I showed everyone where I live nearby, and then we strolled over to the Hudson River Park.
There I proceded to strike out trying to chat up a cute guy Hanna met. He was from Charlotte and recognized Hanna's accent and Charlotte Country Club visor. Charles double-dog-dared me to go talk to him, so clearly I had no other option. He was friendly and chatty, but no digits were exchanged. Oh, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained!
We headed back to their hotel in Chelsea via the High Line. I was sad to see them go, as they really made me feel like I was part of the family. Y'all come back soon, now, you hear?

Restaurant roundup

Whoops, I let myself get a little behind on my blogging, but as you can imagine I certainly didn't get behind on my eating! Check out this cool spot Kurt found for us to have tapas before the show a few Fridays ago.
Since the performance was at 11:30, we met Noelle at Txikito on 9th Avenue around 9:30. As soon as we walked in, I loved it! (Then again, when have I ever met a tapas place I didn't like?)
But seriously...super cool atmosphere. Thanks to NY Mag for having such lovely photos (and awesome restaurant reviews) on their website.
Kurt did most of the ordering, including these blistered Gernika peppers with sea salt. I am not a huge fan of spicy peppers, but I absolutely loved these -- just a bit of heat, perfect with the salty outside.
We also had croquetas with cod, potato and cheese. Perfect!
This was my favorite dish, and one of the most memorable dishes I've had all year. Oyster mushrooms, poached and shaved, carpaccio style with garlic lemon vinaigrette, roncal cheese (like manchego), tomatoes and almonds. It was scrumptious and unlike anything I've ever eaten.
Noelle is a vegetarian, so we went light on the meat, but Kurt and I indulged in these morcilla sausages wrapped in pastry. ("Morcilla" sounds so much nicer than "blood," doesn't it? I remember being quite skeptical when my senora tried to get me to eat morcilla in Spain. However, I do believe most things that sound disgusting are usually delicious. Case in point: blood sausage.)
I think Kurt's favorite dish was the fried baby eggplants with tomato and mint yogurt. YUM, I'm having should not blog about food when one is hungry!

We also had some really tasty white beans and mussels with white wine and parsley, but that dish did not photograph well...too much white.

The next night, I met my friend Julie for dinner at Malatesta Trattoria, which I'd scoped out on one of my walks through the neighborhood. (Another great thing about living in the West Village is it's usually easy to convince people to come meet me down here since there are so many good restaurants.)
I can really see this becoming one of my favorite spots. The food was wonderful and reasonable, and the portions were generous. I had an arugula salad with figs and proscuitto; it was big enough to split, but Julie had her own caprese salad. They had a special of crab spaghetti with tomatoes, so I ordered that and enjoyed some of the leftovers the next night.

The one downside was that they had those old, stubby wineglasses (Leigh Ann says that's because they fit more easily in dishwashers), but they gave me such a generous glass of rose (that would be the "Quincy pour" to my loyal readers) that I let it slide.
Sunday morning it was pouring rain, so I decided to treat myself to brunch at Cafe Cluny across the street. The best part was that someone had left behind my favorite sections of the Sunday Times!
What could be more delightful than reading Modern Love and the wedding announcements while digging into a gorgeous plate of French toast?
Skip ahead to Wednesday. I met my freshman dorm buddy Ari for lunch on 50th Street. Ari and I hadn't kept in touch since college, so I couldn't wait to see how he'd changed since the last time I saw him in 1998. He married his college sweetheart and has two daughters. We both agreed it was as if no time had passed! He is a fantastic conversationalist and as sharp and witty as I remembered.

We met at a steakhouse between our offices and both had a Cobb salad, which I thought was so elegantly presented it deserved a photo.
For $20, it should have been good, and it was. That two-pound salad I purchased my first week here for $16 has been dethroned!
I forgot to get a photo with Ari, but hopefully we'll get one when he has me over for dinner with Heather and the kids. I promised to make banana pudding. It's too bad there is not a Chili's in Manhattan...we agreed we should have met at Chili's, Macaroni Grill or Grady's for old time's sake. (Wine on the honor system at MG, anyone??) Thank goodness our taste in restaurants has improved, even if we don't think we've changed otherwise.
Friday night, I had an impromptu dinner with a colleague who was in town from Charlotte. We both found ourselves without plans, so we headed to my neighborhood after work. After a beer outside at the White Horse Tavern on Hudson, we walked a few doors down to Spasso.
A storm was blowing in as we left the tavern, so by the time we were seated at the bar of Spasso, we could watch the sheets of rain coming down outside. We split a pasta dish and a grilled lamb chop. Both were excellent...the lamb was really rare. We walked a few blocks to get gelato for dessert.

Whew! And that's your restaurant roundup. Are you ready for a snack now too??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake? What earthquake?

Mom called to make sure I was okay after today's D.C. earthquake aftershocks were felt in New York City. So, here's what went down here at 50 Rockefeller Plaza.

I was "indisposed" inside a stall in the ladies' room. Suddenly, someone walked in from the hallway and yelled, "Is there anybody in here?"

"Yes!" two of us shouted back.

"We're evacuating the floor! There's been an earthquake!"

I hightailed it back to my desk to grab my purse and quickly put on my comfy shoes. We walked down six flights of stairs to the plaza level, where we all stood around for 10-15 minutes comparing notes and seeing what we could find out online. Most of my colleagues had experienced several seconds of shaking, but I had to report there were no tremors to be felt in the toilet.

Glad to see things in D.C. seem to be fine.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hail to the Chief!

On Wednesday night, I wondered why there were "No Parking Thursday" signs all over my street. Thursday morning, Kurt asked if I'd be home in time to head over to Harvey's place on Bank Street.

Turns out movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Vogue editor Anna Wintour were co-hosting a fundraiser for President Obama at Harvey's New York crash pad on the next block. The "suggested donation" was a bit out of my price range (reports ranged between $30,000 and $70,000), but the presidential motorcade would be going right down our street!

As I exited the subway, there were baricades and cops everywhere, and a command post was set up on Greenwich Avenue.

Would Obama have time to come up for a cup of tea or a stop in for a beer at the Cubbyhole? Not likely, but I joined my neighbors in lining up on the sidewalk.
I got a huge kick out of watching these little boys across the street. The little one looked like he was trying so hard to be dignified for the occasion.
Secret Service...New York was quite an operation.
Finally...there was the president, in a Cadillac that looked like a cross between a limo and a hearse.
He was facing the other side of the street, so I just saw the back of his head, but I was glad the boys got a good view. My neighbor Nancy and I tried to walk over to Bank Street and see what we could see of the event itself, but the street was of course blocked off. There was a big tent to provide some privacy, but WWD ran photos of some of the guest, including Gwyneth and Chris, Jimmy Fallon, Gail King, Tory Burch, Connie Chung and Maury Povich.
While Obama schmoozed inside the event, I got some pizza at Two Boots and some gelato at Love. One scoop of lemon, one scoop of black currant. Heaven! So tart and refreshing.
I dawdled a bit too much, so I didn't have a good position for the motorcade's exit. I got a giggle out of the bemused expression on the face of the sanitation truck driver who was in charge of blocking Bank Street. With everyone out and about, it was almost like a little street festival.