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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicken and Leek Treat

I was supposed to be spending the week fasting so I could blow it out in Chicago this weekend for Meghan and Drew's wedding...


When I got home on Tuesday night, Kurt and his friend Tony had just ordered takeout from Tea and Sympathy, the British shop around the corner. This place could single-handedly change the reputation of British food!

The boys insisted I add on to the order and join them, instead of eating the sad bowl of pea soup I'd intended. What's a girl to do? I cracked under the pressure and ordered the chicken and leek pastry pie.

We were halfway through Glee when the buzzer sounded. In short: Heaven! The chicken was tender, the sauce rich and flavorful, the pastry crisp and decadent. The mashed potatoes and veggies were the perfect sides.
Tony had shepherd's pie...
And Kurt had steak and Guinness pie...
It was worth every calorie! I'm not sure how I feel about being able to dial up this sort of decadent comfort and have it carried to my doorstep. We extended our splurge by getting two desserts. Both came with a generous tub of hot custard sauce to go on top. The apple crumble was perfectly nice...

But I'm embarrassed to admit what I might do for another bite of sticky toffee pudding. Remember when you were a kid and you said you loved something, and your friends would taunt, "Why don't you marry it?"

If I had to tie the knot with a dessert, I think I've found it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Brunch at Morandi

Before I even moved to New York, when I told my friend Robin where I'd be living, she insisted we'd have to meet for brunch at Morandi. The website calls it a rustic Italian trattoria from restaurateur Keith McNally, who owns both Pastis and Balthazar.

It's very close to my apartment, and it always looked so appealing whenever I passed by on Seventh Avenue. I can't believe it took me this long to try it out! Here are a few photos I found online to capture the ambiance...

Robin suggested we start with the ricotta, honey and nut bruschetta. Good call! This may have been my favorite part. You could easily recreate this yourself, if you had really good bread. Toasting the nuts is essential...I think it was a medley of pistachios, hazelnuts and pine nuts.
Travis had the Asparagi milanese con prosciutto cotto, two sunny side eggs over grilled asparagus &ham.
I had the Uova in camicia, two poached eggs over sunchokes, peas & fava beans. I loved the pickled onions, which added a crisp, savory note -- and a fun pop of color. Good thing I ordered something bread-free, since I ate so much of the bruschetta.
Robin had the Insalata di farro, spelt salad with tomatoes, cucumbers & spring herbs.
After lunch, we walked to Robin and her husband AJ's home in Tribeca so Travis and I could meet their adorable dog Pickles.
Travis and I had enough time to stop by Bed, Bath and Beyond in Tribeca...but we couldn't find what I wanted, so we ended up taking a long walk north along Greenwich Street. We worked up a bit of a sweat, and a refreshing treat was in order. Eureka! There it was! Dolce Vizio Tiramisu on Hudson Street, which just opened in August.

Funny enough, I'd just seen a segment about this place on the news in a taxi, and I'd made a mental note to find it.

It's similar to a gelato bar, but with tiramisu instead. They offer premade flavored tiramisus or a "make your own" tiramisu -- you pick your own sauce and toppings. (I usually go with the prefab options at any "build your own" places -- too many options overwhelm me, I can't say no, feel stressed to concoct something unusual and then I end up with some random glop. Example: the time I was at a "burger bar" and ordered myself a turkey burger with pineapple and craisins. It's like the grown-up version of making yourself a "suicide" mix at a soda fountain. However, Dolce Vizio wisely limits one's options: you select a sauce and then choose two toppings, so I may try that next time.)

Anyway, I ordered the orange espresso and Travis got the limoncello. He is such a good friend, he traded with me because I liked his better. They were both excellent, but the limoncello suited my craving for something really refreshing.

Such a fun afternoon treat! A perfect Sunday -- I will be back to both spots.

Parents' Weekend

Since my life in New York is a bit like going back to college (new friends, new routines, living with a roommate), it was time for a fall campus tradition: Parents' Weekend!

Mom had her visit in June, but I suggested Dad and Laura wait and come up when the weather would be more pleasant.

They arrived on Thursday night, and after a yummy dinner at City Lobster, we strolled over to Times Square.
Leigh Ann came up for the weekend too; she and I got to stay at Nate and Neil's apartment while the boys were in the Hamptons.
Friday was a bit challenging...I had to work, so Leigh Ann played tour guide. But it was pouring. (The city had more than two inches of rain.)

They did some shopping at Bloomingdales, but lunch at the Carnegie Deli was a bust; the line was too long, so they ended up at a burger place nearby. After paying $50 for two hamburgers and a couple of sodas, they got drenched and headed back to the hotel for a break.

I met up with everyone around 3:30. By then, the rain had let up, so we took the subway to Chinatown to do a little junky shopping. The weather was still crappy, but we made the best of it, and Laura had fun negotiating with the vendors to get some bargains.

Dad was a very patient umbrella holder as the women went in just one more store.

For dinner, we walked down Mulberry Street in Little Italy, where they were having the festival of San Genaro. A friend had warned me the festival might not be a good idea if we wanted to avoid crowds. But I think most people were staying home because of the weather. The street was closed, and the  restaurants had all set up sidewalk cafes under awnings in the street. It was really pleasant to sit and watch the crowds walk by, and the red, white and green lights made it feel quite festive.

Leigh Ann and I split some gnocchi and an order of chicken parmesan. Dad and Laura were still full from the $50 hamburger lunch, so they had fried mozzarella and chicken fingers.

By Saturday morning, things started to perk up! We took a gamble on Friday and bought tickets for the 10 a.m. Water Taxi, with hopes that the weather would improve. The Water Taxi has a partnership with the 9/11 Memorial, and it's one of the only ways you can currently get inside the memorial, which is booked through November. Dad was very interested to see the Memorial, so I was really glad we stumbled across a way to make it happen.

We got to the pier early, picked up the Memorial tickets, and then boarded the boat at 9:30. We cruised along the Hudson River from 44th Street to Battery Park, as a guide pointed out landmarks along the way.

My favorite "point of interest" mentioned by the guide was Pier 54, which was the Titanic's destination. I'd jogged by the arch on the Hudson River Park several times but had never noticed it. The White Star and Cunard signage still remains, so I'll have to check it out next time I walk by. The guide also said Titanic crew members stayed at what is now the Jane Hotel, also in my neighborhood.
As we got close to Battery Park, we got a better view of World Trade Center One and the construction cranes on top. (The building was going to be called the Freedom Tower, and some people still call it that, but I think that name was ruled to be a bit too provocative.) I told Leigh Ann I thought the guide should have mentioned the tower will be 1,776 feet tall once it's finished...
We tried to get a shot of Dad and Laura with the Statue of Liberty in the background, but it wasn't really working...

From Battery Park, it was a short walk to the memorial site, where we had tickets to enter at 11:15.

One of the most touching places in the entire memorial site to me was right after we passed through security. They have a wall of photos of the memorial services and commemorations that were held around the world.

The picture above with the flag shows you the bottom of World Trade Center One, the building currently under construction. From the site, you can really see how much they've fortified the bottom of it.

One of the things you can really appreciate being inside the memorial is how massive the Ground Zero construction site still is and how it continues to impact development downtown. It's unfortunate it took ten years to open the memorial, but the upside is it's beautifully designed and really honors the memory of all those who lost their lives. So, maybe it was worth the wait.

From downtown, we took the subway back to midtown, where Dad and Laura had tickets for the Lion King matinee.
Leigh Ann and I checked out some of the latest fall trends at Zara and H&M. Between the leather leggings and hot pants were these...
Since we were right beside the iconic public library building on 5th Avenue, I decided to pop inside and get myself a card.

After the show, we took Dad and Laura to my neighborhood. (As we elbowed our way through the crowd in Times Square, Dad said, "7 million people in New York -- and all of them are in Times Square on Saturday afternoon.") Having spent too much time fighting the crowds in midtown, the serene West Village was a nice change!
 It was a lovely sunset over the Hudson River...

Next stop: Brooklyn, where we checked out the long line at Grimaldi's Pizza then walked around the corner to a less crowded restaurant called Pete's. It was actually really good! I had a very tasty pork chop stuffed with proscuitto and mozzarella. Dad and Laura had some really good stuffed chicken, and I think Leigh Ann had the eggplant.

Fortified by our meal, we set out to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. (Shout out to everyone for being such troopers...we'd had a long day, but since Friday was such a bust, we had to pack it in!)

It was a perfect night to cross the bridge, and the lights were lovely. We walked Dad and Laura back to their hotel, and everyone headed home on Sunday. Dad and Laura had a very long trip back, so I really appreciate everyone's time and effort to come and see me in my new home!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Race for the Cure

Thanks to my friend Jen, a fellow Southern belle in NYC, for inviting me to join her colleagues for today's Race for the Cure. It started at 9 on Central Park West, so we met a few blocks south of the start line at 8:45.
I had done Race for the Cure a few times in Charlotte, and this was very similar. It's great people-watching, and seeing the signs, costumes and t-shirts is really touching and entertaining.
We decided to walk, as it's sometimes almost impossible to jog during these big events anyway. It was a really slow start...I think it took us a good 20 minutes to cross the start line.
It was such a slow walk that I honestly felt like I should get some exercise afterwards...instead, we headed to brunch with two other girls. Just because you didn't break a sweat doesn't mean you don't deserve a breakfast burrito, right??
I took it easy for the rest of the afternoon and went for a stroll around 6. I happened up on a jazz service at a Lutheran church on Christopher Street and decided to wander in. What a delight! It was a very ecclectic crowd, inspiring music and a meaningful message. A very meaningful way to wrap up the weekend. Got some broccoli soup for dinner and am enjoying the Emmys with my roomie.