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Monday, April 23, 2012

Celebrating Chris and Gwen

Greetings from the spring wedding circuit! Last weekend I flew to Charlotte to celebrate the union of my friend Chris and his lovely bride Gwen.

I was most honored to make the cut for the rehearsal dinner. It was held at Bonterra, one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte. In addition to serving fabulous food, Bonterra has a cool atmosphere, as it's located inside an old church. Chris' mom named each table after a city that had meant something to the couple, so my date Ty and I got to sit at the New York City table and catch up with our dear friend Max and his wife Jen.

Chris and I became close when we co-led our church singles group. He is smart, loyal, trustworthy and faithful. I consider him the closest thing I've ever had to a business partner! We spent a ton of time and energy together getting the singles ministry back on track, and I love him like a brother.

Brief flashback to Halloween 2005 or so...don't say those church groups don't know how to have fun! Chris was also bold enough to sign up for the very first adult mission trip to Rio. On the trip, he met Peter, who was a groomsman in the wedding.

So, given what a special place Myers Park UMC had been in my relationship with Chris, I got a little teary-eyed seeing him standing in the front of the sanctuary and watching beautiful Gwen come down that aisle. Pure joy!

I cannot resist adding a side note here that Chris and Gwen are proof that when you find the right person, things just click. There's no drama, no games, no "what did this text mean?" It gives this single gal hope!

Another friend of mine whose relationship also fit the drama-free description is Jon, seen here with his darling wife Tracy, who informed me at the wedding she is a loyal Popcorn and M&Ms! Yay! When another friend from our church group got married several years ago, I remember hearing Jon talk about Tracy for the first time at the wedding. He was so excited about her! I knew he would be a fantastic husband and father.

Next on the favorite couple list: Hayes and Shera, who were greeters at the reception and will be married in August.
Hayes rocks my socks. He is Leigh Ann's very favorite dance partner. (Though he says both of us need to learn how to follow, not lead. Imagine that!!) We knew it would take a special guy to get Shera to say yes, and it's awesome to know there are men who aren't afraid of strong, sassy women. Here's hoping Hayes has a clone somewhere for both me and my sis!

Chris and Gwen are in Maui for their honeymoon. He posted this pic on Facebook. Wishing them a lifetime of happiness together!

My new lunch buddy

Guess whose office is now one street away from mine?!

Travis and I hit Tina's for Cuban food on Tuesday. Yummers!

I told him I haven't been able to scout out the lunch options in the 'hood yet, so he made me a list of his favorite spots. How awesome is that?! We are going to have to hit the mozzarella bar on Madison Avenue very soon.

With the E train that delivers me practically door to door from home to work, I think I'm going to like it in Midtown East. I've even located my summer drinks spot. They put tables outside of Casa Lever on Park Avenue, and Mae and I went there for happy hour on Tuesday. We will be back!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hamptons Easter

Gorgeous spring weekend in the Hamptons! Friday night we had dinner with a lovely couple that Neil and Nate know, Chris and Brian. Saturday I took a two-hour walk/run and went into Sag Harbor, where I stumbled on an Easter bonnet parade.

Saturday night we cooked dinner. The unofficial theme was "All Pig, All the Time." Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon-Sesame Brittle, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Raisins, Grilled Pork Chops with Marjoram, and Sauteed Spinach. 

First, we had a little snack of toasted country bread with fresh ricotta cheese, toasted nuts and honey. Excellent! I had something similar last year at Morandi. 

Back to the dinner menu! For the brittle, you start by cooking the bacon almost all the way...
Drain it, reserve the grease, and then return it to the pan with sugar, sesame seeds and a little bit of the reserved grease. The sugar will slowly darken as it caramelizes...

The Brussels sprouts were lightly sauteed in some bacon grease...then you add shallots, raisins and a little chicken broth. (I substituted wine. No sense opening a can of broth for half a cup.) After that cooks for a while, you add cooked, crumbled bacon and a little vinegar.
Nate did a bang-up job grilling the pork chops, and it was all-around a really solid meal, though I didn't think the sweet potatoes were quite as fabulous as I'd hoped. The candied bacon was almost too much, and the simple filling (just mashed sweet potato, grated ginger, egg and butter) would have been fine on its own.

Neil and I learned once again it's really not possible to have too much fresh spinach when you're going to saute it. Our two bunches cooked down to about a cup.

This morning we went to 10 o'clock church at First Presbyterian of East Hampton. (Celebrity sighting en route: George Stephanopolous out for an early bike ride with his daughter. He was wearing his "Rahm for Mayor" sweatshirt. The boys had seen him a few months ago at the Episcopal church.) They invited members of the congregation to join an outstanding rendition of the Hallelujah chorus at the end, and kids hunted eggs on the lawn after the service.

We had brunch at Pierre's in Bridgehampton. Before we left the house, I made the boys pause for a family portrait with Molly and Buddy. How cute is this??
Finally...a little thanks and explanation for my loyal readers. As you've noticed, I've fallen off the blogging train lately. There are a couple of reasons:
1.  Technology. My regular camera crapped out a few months ago and got all blurry on close-ups. I can't access Blogger at my new job, and the iPhone app for Blogger is a wreck when you upload multiple iPhone pics. It doesn't upload them in order, so it took me a good 45 minutes to upload and sort out the pics in this post. Blogger is also driving me crazy in general...fortunately, I think an update is coming.

2. Time. I am also pleased to report my social life has been so busy, I haven't had time to sit down and write it all up! Plus, after spending all day in front of a computer, who wants to come home for more of that?

3. Triteness. I have been less keen on taking restaurant food pics ever since I saw four Asians stop their meal to get out their phones and simultaneously photograph their burgers at the Spotted Pig. It was one thing when most of my posts were about cooking, but some of my restaurant eat-a-logs of late just seem unoriginal.

So...given that I have now celebrated my one-year NYC anniversary...I may or may not continue the blog. Either way, I am so grateful to those of you who have enjoyed reading it and inspired me with your comments.

It has truly been an AWESOME year. What a lucky girl I am to have gotten to spend the weekend celebrating with the two men who have made my life in NYC so special!