Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Current Mood: February, Hating Thereof

From here
Make it one of these 
and we can commiserate.

from here

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Current Mood: February, Hating Thereof

Image from Zazzle.

Every year I think I'll make it through this month.
Every year, at some point, indubitably, I will force ably be reminded:


Can't we just skip it?

“Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”

~ Stieg Larsson 


(Just imagine that I'm wearing a thermal undershirt emblazoned with this image, for the whole month.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Annual (?) Epic Brunch - January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015 horoscopes:


Even though it's the weekend, you still have to deal with some fiscal matters and other responsibilities. If you feel like you don't have a moment to yourself, decide which things must get done and which you'd like to do, but aren't high priority. Also, it's important to make some time for loved ones.

Don't let other people hurry you along this weekend. Keep moving ahead at your own sweet pace and everything that has to get done will get done. More importantly, it will get done correctly. Someone has to keep standards high.**

Yes, even though I have other responsibilities, I have/had decided that there are things that I have to do and they involve the high priority of making time to see friends - because it's been/had been far too many months.

One of the best parts of meeting up with friends for brunch is spending time catching up. The worst parts of meeting up with friends for brunch is that every other group of friends in NYC wants to do the same thing at the same time. Restaurants get loud. There are lines of people waiting for your table. The restaurants want to turn over the table. You don't get to really linger. Also, NYC is WAY too small - you inevitably can't do the venting you need to because someone is around, you fear someone is around, and/or you have to rush around to go on to your next appointment of the day. Because there are inevitably multiple appointments of the day, even if it's a weekend day.


Unless your friend has a rare thing: an apartment with a huge kitchen with room for people to sit at a table that will fit up to 6, so you can spread out and chat. 
Unless she offers it up as a meeting place - AND offers to cook, so you make it a pot-luck gathering.
Unless you have a mutual assurance pact in place that you have all blocked off at least 3 or 4 hours to really linger, talk, and delve deep.

This was this kind of rare brunch with Ruyi and Matt - at Ruyi's Upper East Side walk-up. 
(Can I just note, her actual cooking/counter-space is just as limited as mine - and not anywhere like all those "standard" kitchens shown on HGTV, and yet, look what we produced.)
Ruyi made some kind of buck-wheat crepes (from scratch), as well as a shrimp alfredo (from scratch) - with Matt's able sous chef assistance. (Smart. Matt's done some culinary school.) We all come from different culinary backgrounds, so you never know what all we'll bring, but somehow it all coalesces into a perfect NYC brunch.

She put me to work assembling these yogurt trifle parfaits, (thank you, years of party prep from Caramoor and hours of FoodNetwork/Cooking Channel),
 as well as making up and tossing a side salad, assembling the salmon crostini, and putting out other "apps" like the spicy nuts and sweet rugelach I had brought, and the rest of the fruit and beverages.

 What a pretty table. 
What a yummy meal.
 What a nice thing NOT to be rushed, or stressing over orders or finances.
 Cheers to good company. 
Cheers to the chef(s). 
Pass the shrimp while it's hot. 
Let's eat!

It was really good to sit and talk. After working together at the Big J, Matt is/was the only still working there. We're all heading in different directions, so being able to connect over food, get to talk about challenges/goals, and then get to talk to Ruyi's sister about the same, AND play with Ruyi's cat ... It was a really great afternoon.

And unfortunately - it took us a WHOLE year to get our schedules to coordinate to do any kind of gathering again.

I was all nice and relaxed - but then I made a strategic error of trying to grocery shop at an UES Fairway, the weekend before the SuperSportsBallCupThingy. The line to check-out literally snaked all the around the store and out the door. By that point, (an hour in?), I was committed. NEVER AGAIN!

** This is actually evergreen advice, no matter the year. Maybe I can get it put on a needlepoint or tattooed on the inside of my arm so I always see it.

~ photos by iTouch

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Annual (?) Epic Brunch 2016 Edition

What a difference a week makes. 
Last Saturday was a Blizzard - yes, with a capital B!
What a beautiful Blue sky.

It took months of scheduling but I was heading into NYC to my OTHER Upper West Side 'hood, near the former Mannes Library building, for brunch with Matt and Ruyi, friends from the Big J years. We're all over the place these days - geographically in NY and professionally, so we rotate neighborhoods for brunches. 

In previous years, we've had crepes on the Upper East Side, brunched at Sarabeth's on the Upper West Side, and brunched at home on the Upper East Side (see future post). Somehow though, I haven't persuaded them to come North to Westchester or to Caramoor/Katonah. ONE OF THESE DAYS! It is TIME.

I can't quite do justice in describing the hipster vibe of the southern pickle, biscuit, booze, and chicken place that is set in the middle of the Upper West Side, looking lost - as if it should be in Brooklyn. Even at 10:30, there was a line spilling out onto the street. Waiting list parties were paged by texts, hung out in front of wall freezers full of citrus and bottles of hand squeezed juices, and started drinking before they got to sit down.

Brunch portions were ... LARGE.
Fried - Artisanally, of course ...
with Beverages for the Boozy Folks and Bills Served in Mason Jars...
served by Waitstaff in Beanies, Man Buns, or BMIs that were too too low.

Ya'll -- Fried Pickles are good.
Fried anything is good.

I think this is Matt's Sausage Gravy Smothered Fried Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich with a side of Cheesy Grits.
Ruyi's introduction to America's Southern cuisine, Biscuits and Gravy: Biscuits and Mushroom Gray with Scrambled Eggs
And - can we just talk about this Southern BLT?
I'll break it down for you - because that's how I had to attempt to eat this 8 inch tall "sandwich":

Nitrate Free Bacon
2 Panko-Encrusted Fried Green Tomatoes
Pickle Slaw (mostly coleslaw)
A Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast
a Biscuit
with a 
Side of Cheesy Grits

As we were being served, three different people (dudes, mostly), were asking me - WHAT IS THAT?

What is was, was a way to measure the pretention and hipster levels of my pretentious hipster brunch location aka HIGHER than this no-need to eat for the rest of the day meal. I didn't finish all the biscuit, slaw, OR grits. Or eat, for the rest of the day.

Also, to note - of COURSE we all took pictures and Instagrammed/Tweeted them. I think the fine print of the menu told us we had to, to tag the restaurant, to #hashtag the meal, and to Yelp it. I am POINTEDLY NOT mentioning the name of the restaurant, or a bunch of that other stuff. NO!

After brunch, on the way back to Grand Central, Ruyi and I looked back fondly at our time at Lincoln Center, 
 HEY! We worked near there!
 We were those goobers in the subway taking funny photos. Sorry locals. 

(Though to be fair, I looked enough like a local that I had two different people ask me for directions on my way to brunch. What is it about my face that says, Ask me for directions? -- Is the "L" on my forehead for "Librarian" flashing and I don't know it? I did help them out, however.)

I miss these characters. We need another meet-up soon. We didn't get to spend as long as we needed to catch up. Not like last year.

Artwork is part of Arts for Transit installations throughout the City:
This station has an artwork installed in 1989 entitled Westside Views by Nitza Tufiño. The artists are students of Manhattan Community Board 7 and the Grosvernor House. Scenes include 72nd Street, medians on Broadway, FDNY, kids at play, Ida Straus memorial in Straus Park, boats at the 79th Street Boat Basin, New York Buddhist Church Street vendors, and a New York City Bus. A poem entitled West Side Views by student Pedro Pieti is also featured.

per Wikipedia 

~ photos by iPhone

Photos of the Day: Snow Cap'd - January 30, 2015

Caramoor's Greenhouses
January 30, 2015

~photos by iTouch

Friday, January 29, 2016

Photos of the Day: Not the Hot Seat - January 29, 2015

 What a difference a season
and a snowstorm makes
Usually these seats are hot property
The Spanish Courtyard
Rosen House
January 29, 2015

~photos by iTouch