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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

I’ve missed two whole days of blogging. I blame it on a pretty bartender at the David Burke Kitchen’s Treehouse Bar in The James New York.

I had pre-written a couple of blog posts for my vacation this week, and planned to write a couple more on the fly in between New York City excursions. Only Wednesday night ended with unbelievably delicious artisanal cocktails and awesome people-watching. And skipping blog posts is like eating potato chips: You can’t skip just one.

I started off with a Rabbit Hunter, which was a combination of Bulleit bourbon, ginger beer, fresh mint and lime; it renewed my affinity for a good smooth bourbon. We should have left after the first drink, given our early-morning activities planned for the next day, but I wanted to watch the bartender make more drinks. She was an absolute master, and I wasn’t leaving until she had set an orange peel on fire and dropped it into my next drink, the 23 Grand Street. This was a mixture of Hendrick’s gin, Cointreau, lime juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and champagne, with the singed orange peel dropped in. An aromatic slice of cucumber adorned the rim of the glass. Delicious and slightly girly.

That really would have been enough, but she pegged us as experimental drinkers and involved us in a taste test for one of her new spring drinks. I’m not going to give away any trade secrets, but I will say that glasses dipped in a mixture of cayenne pepper and sugar are one of my new favorite things that are difficult, at best, to work into normal dining patterns.

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A slide show over at Serious Eats: New York featuring the best oatmeal in New York City tells me that my steel-cut oats with brown sugar and dried cranberries is the stuff of amateurs. Oatmeal with vanilla and lavender syrup, anyone?

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 2: I labored over whether I should include purchases in this challenge. As the sole board member, I voted “yes.”

When we were in New York City in early December, I saw this nifty little device in Pylones that allows you to stack up to 10 bottles of wine safely and efficiently. I realize that other people have wine racks on their countertops and walls and even on top of their kitchen cabinets, but proper wine storage demands protection from light and temperature variations. Thus, most of our everyday wine (“everyday wine” … we sound so sophisticated) is stored in the bottom of the pantry, far away from the stove and other sources of heat.

The bottles, however, tend to arrange themselves in a mishmash, no matter how carefully they’re initially placed. Any stacking at all requires something extremely heavy and unneeded to prevent rolling, and unstacked bottles rolling around on their sides waste a tremendous amount of vertical cabinet space.

Thus, when I saw the incredibly neat pyramid of wine bottles enabled by the Wine Stack, I pointed it out as just the thing we needed to fix the wine problem back home. My husband looked at it and declared that we would definitely figure something out when we got back.

I should have picked up the Wine Stack and carried it to the register, but what I didn’t realize at the time (yep, still learning after 15 years) was that his comment could be translated as follows: “I do not recognize this wine problem you describe; therefore, I shall forget this discussion in approximately 3 minutes.”

So, when I was trying to put the pantry in order last week after a round of holiday baking, I mentioned this solution we were going to figure out. The husband paused for a couple of seconds, and said, “I guess we should have bought one of those wine things while we were in New York.”

Sigh.

I ordered my Wine Stack on Sunday night, and I’m counting it as my second Do One Thing act of the year.

Day 3: I cleared off the piano bench, a hotspot for downstairs junk like books, magazines, gloves and scarves. Every house has a spot like this. Of course, now that I’ve swept it clean, I need to maintain a subresolution of keeping it clean.

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From Jean Georges in Manhattan: Warm sweet potato cake with a cranberry compote and cranberry foam.

 

When the husband and I go on vacation, we tend to plan our itinerary around food. We’re not the only people who do this, but I get mixed reactions from a few folks, some of whom apparently expect to hear more about the shows we’ve seen in New York City (most recent count: 0) than our sake-tasting and evaluation of the freshly made tofu at EN Japanese Brasserie (evaluation: awesome).

Some people get it: After a recent photo documenting our pilgrimage to the Doughnut Plant, one Facebook friend noted, “You take the best doughnut vacations ever!” Indeed, we do.

So what’s with our vacation food obsession? Honestly, we eat like monks at home. We have old-fashioned oatmeal (or steel-cut oats, if there’s time) with walnuts and raisins for breakfast every day. I almost always have a fresh salad and quinoa or hummus for lunch, while the husband consistently has a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Dinner might be homemade lasagna or something easy, like a cheese sandwich pressed into submission on the Foreman Grill with a bowl of leftover Cowboy Stew. We rarely go out to eat. We’ve found that one of the consequences of cooking your own healthy, delicious food at home is that your average restaurant food doesn’t measure up anymore.

What does measure up, however, is your above-average restaurant food. And this is what turns our vacations into the pursuit of destination dining. So while I can’t be bothered with a 10-minute drive to Krispy Kreme for Hot Doughnuts Now (trust me when I tell you that growing up with a Krispy Kreme within easy driving distance makes their doughnuts way less of an attraction later), I am perfectly willing to make a 15-minute hike to the subway station, stand on a crowded car for five minutes, make a 10-minute hike to the Doughnut Plant and stand in a long line for a Valrhona chocolate doughnut. I deem the calories worthwhile.

And that’s how my photo albums end up filled with pictures of doughnuts, ice cream, cheeseburgers and steamed shrimp, while we forget to take pictures of ourselves. Sorry, Mom.

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I picked up these note cards at a street market in New York City last year and promptly began neglecting to frame them. Now they’re framed and I have to find a place for them. I’m thinking they’d look great staggered on the wall beside the stairs … more on that when I finally punch three holes in the wall with my fabulous MonkeyHooks.

The artist is Kristiana Parn, and I simply love her colorful, eclectic work. Head to her website at www.kristianaparn.com to see more of her art; she also has items available in her Etsy shop.

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I just realized my watch is still set on New York City time. I want to go back.

We spent our days and nights navigating subways and buses, seeing as much of the city as we could. We avoided shows and anything else with long lines, and ate whatever we wanted with no concerns over calories. Given that we inevitably seemed to exit and enter the underground via routes devoid of escalators, these extra calories turned out to be essential.

The streets teemed with vehicles bursting into aspirational 10-second sprints between intersections. The sidewalks were packed with people in a hurry, navigating their way through rare congregations of people inexplicably NOT in a hurry.

I had mixed feelings about getting back into my car alone Monday morning and driving 8 miles across town to work.

More on New York City later. I need to check on my husband, who either came back with a bad cold or swine flu. I wonder if I can blog from quarantine?

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I’m planning a trip to New York City and I am PSYCHED. People who grow up in the rural South usually have one of three reactions to urban life:

  • They are annoyed by crowded sidewalks, brutal traffic and the intricate layout of city streets.
  • They are terrified by the city’s sheer vibrancy.
  • They fall in love with said sheer vibrancy and begin plotting their way to a high-rise office and studio walkup.

I’ve loved city life since moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the early 1980s. My family’s home was an easy 20 minutes from the Louisiana state line, which was a mere 40 minutes from downtown New Orleans.

The Crescent City is a troublesome example, because it runs on its own rhythm. All cities do. But it introduced me to a world of close quarters, where strangers lived literally feet from one another, rode buses and streetcars, and many times, heaven forbid, WALKED. It was a world in which people ate dinner at 9 p.m., not 6 p.m., and they certainly didn’t call it “supper.”

It was a world of sophistication far removed from my home in Kiln, Mississippi, where I literally had to drive across a defunct cattle gap to get to school every morning.

I truly fell for city life when I was 21 and went to London for four weeks to take a World War II history class. I barely slept the entire time I was there because I didn’t want to miss a minute of action.

Between the Underground and an extremely well-run (read: on-time) system of buses, I could be anywhere in the city within a half hour. The crosswalks required traffic to come to a standstill for pedestrians to cross busy streets – and we’re not just talking crosswalks at red lights and stop signs.

After a lifetime of being accused of walking too fast, I was a welcome addition to the People in a Hurry on the city’s sidewalks. I learned the true people-moving potential of escalators, and I’ve been uncomfortable standing completely still on moving stairs ever since.

The restaurants, the shopping (note that my favorite destination in any foreign city is a grocery store, and a must-visit destination in any large American city is a foreign grocery store), the population’s ethnic mix … there’s just too much that I love to list it all.

New York has it all: subways, buses, foreign grocery stores, fast-moving sidewalk crowds, world-class restaurants, even non-stationary escalator-riders. And not a cattle gap for miles.

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