Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NYC Food

Two weeks ago I traveled to NYC with my boss (and friend), Lila Anna, to attend a conference on child poverty & homelessness.  This is the promised post about what we ate:
Mexicana Mama front door

Mexicana Mama- West Village.  Amazingly nice owner spotted us "loitering" outside, waiting for it to open, and invited us in early...guess she could tell we weren't used to the cold!  We had some amazing guacamole, really yummy margaritas, (that kept me warm for the rest of the afternoon), and authentic, fresh, bomb-ass food.  I had the house specialty- fish tacos (pescadillos) & Lila Anna had a chile relleno. 


amazing, spicy pescadillos
If I lived in the West Village, I would probably eat here weekly.

Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe- Clinton.  Small, dark, semi-casual and cozy spot for cheese and wine--yes please.  Probably my favorite meal of the trip (and the one I ate solo).  I enjoyed Prosecco, an endive salad with bleu cheese, pears and a sherry viniagrette, and then a plate of 3 cheeses.  They had over 40 cheeses to choose from, and each came with a "complement condiment."  I apologize that I don't remember the exact cheeses I had, but the complements included cherries, pickled fennel and caramel popcorn. 

cheese (sorry so dark-trying to covertly take a pic w/ my phone)
They also sent me on my way with a complimentary dessert- a goat cheese and hazelnut truffle- divine.  If you like cheese and you like wine, you will love this place.  Seriously, one of my favorite meals. Ever.

Co. Pizza- Chelsea.  This place is what I would call "trendy."  There were lots of NYC locals sharing pies at the communal tables--couples, singles, and groups of friends.  The rustic-feel of the decor and the communal tables made it a cozy space.  I kinda made a fool of myself when we were seated: I grabbed what I thought was a communal bottle of water and poured myself a glass, only to realize seconds later when our waiter asked (with a confused look on his face when he saw my water glass already filled), if he could get us some water...that it belonged to the gentleman seated next to me who was dining alone.  I apologized profusely and luckily he was very sweet about it, just laughed a bit and said I was welcome to his water.  (I did buy him another bottle, too).  Then and there I felt like a tourist.  And the waiter thought I was an idiot, but oh well.

The meal was great.  I had the Bibb lettuce salad with pumpkin seeds and butternut squash, and then Lila Anna and I shared a Popeye pie (pecorino, gruyère, mozzarella, spinach, black pepper, garlic) and a Flambe pie (béchamel, parmesan, mozzarella, caramelized onions, lardons).  The Popeye pie was our favorite--I am going to try making a pizza with those ingredients at home--so yummy.

Ruby Foo's- Times Square.  This was the only corporate place we ate the whole trip, but it was pretty good.  Our server was the sweetest guy--he told us his story of coming to NYC, being homeless for a while, but making it work to get out of Ohio.  His name was Trent.  I wish I knew his last name so I could Facebook-friend him...oh well.  Anyway-- the atmosphere is cool--it's a huge restaurant. 

We had goat cheese tempura (yum!) and a spicy tuna roll to start the meal, and then I had teriyaki chicken (not my favorite) and Lila Anna had some noodle dish--hers was much better then mine. 
For dessert I ordered some cookies and they wrapped them up for me to take to the theatre.  They were much-enjoyed as a complement to my $7 Amstel Light in a can later that evening...

Cafe Blossom- Upper West Side.  My traveling companion, Lila Anna, is vegan, so I made sure to include at least one vegan spot on our restaurant list.  We went here for brunch on a snowy Saturday morning- it was the perfect thing!  I had coffee, a mimosa, and vegan chocolate chip pancakes.  Lila Anna had a tofu scramble that was so good I almost ordered some for myself after trying hers. 

Highly recommended, even if you're not vegan!

So, that's it.  One of my great pleasures in life is experiencing a city through its restaurants and food, so this trip was a dream. 
Post about what we did (other than eat) while in NYC coming soon...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Jones

Today is my sweet baby's first birthday.  

snapped with my phone this morning at Jones' daycare

What an amazing roller coaster of a year this past one has been--all emotions and relationship experiences crammed into a succinct package.  I probably slept less this past year than any other year of my life. I fell in love daily with an amazing baby boy who is quickly turning into a sassy little toddler.  I questioned my life direction, and lamented the loss of my youth...and then made adult decisions and childish ones, circling back around to realizing that my life direction is what it should be at the moment, and that's all I can ask. 

This child has taught me more about myself and how I want my life to go simply by being alive, than I have been able to figure out on my own these past 33 years.  Guess that's how it goes, huh? 

My mom called me this morning:
Mom: Happy Birthday, baby!
Me: Thanks, I'll tell Jones you said so.
Mom: Well, yes, tell him Happy Birthday, but I also mean Happy Birthday to you.
Me: It's not my birthday...
Mom: Well, you gave birth to the child, didn't you?!  So, it's your birth-day too...

Moms are so wise. 
Wait, I am a mom now... 
Though I am certainly not wise yet, I do feel like today is my birthday-a whole new life began for me on this day last year.  Thanks for that, my sweet Jones.  Your momma adores you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Word for Wednesday


chadenfreude: satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune
(The word's origin is German; it's a combination of the German words for harm + joy).

Never in my life had I heard this word until last Friday night while watching Avenue Q, off-Broadway in New York City.  Pretty funny show, by the way.  There is an entire song about schadenfreude: (warning--it's not exactly a very kind or child-friendly song, but funny).

image via here

Then, not 2 days later, I read the word in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  Here's the NY Times review of the award-winning book--I quite like it so far.

Has that ever happened to you?  You hear or read a word for the first time, then promptly hear or read it again and again?  I kind of love that phenomenon...and try to read some deeper meaning in it...I'm kinda romantic/superstitious like that...

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Monday, January 16, 2012

NYC Here We Come

And by "we," I not only mean myself and my friend/boss who I'm traveling with, I also mean my appetite.  I have only been to New York City once before, when I was in 10th grade.  Back then I was more interested in shopping and hitting the "touristy" spots, like the Statue of Liberty, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, etc.

This go-round, I am most excited about the food.  I am actually going to the city to attend a conference: Beyond Housing: A National Conversation on Child Homelessness and Poverty.  I work with homeless families and children, so the conference should be informative for my work, plus Jonathan Kozol, an author who I read when I was in school for social work years ago, is the keynote speaker.  Kozol has been a voice for homeless families as well as the inequities in the American education system for years, and his work is inspiring. 

I plan on writing a few posts about the conference and the other fun NYC-things we do (we're going to see Avenue Q and to see a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade!), but this anticipatory post is dedicated to the food...

Here's where we have planned to go, mostly by way of recommendations from friends:
Co. Pane

1) Co. Pane (pronounced 'Company')- recommended by 2 of my favorite bloggers (A Cup of Jo and Rockstar Diaries).  In their own words: "Co. celebrates the communal dining experience with bread as the centerpiece of the meal. Our menu features a variety of toasts, soup, salads, artisanal meat and cheese selections - and, of course, pizza."

Mexicana Mama

2)  Mexicana Mama- recommended by one of my best friends.  She had me at: "they make fresh guacamole tableside."  It's also listed in the New York Magazine Restaurant Guide.

3) Rai Rai Ken- I asked my Facebook friends to recommend a place for good noodles in NYC.  A high school friend who I haven't heard from in probably 10 years messaged me this: "Best noodles in the world. Rai Rai Ken in East Village. I swear to god. Really small, really good. Also, hey! How are you?"  If this is the first thing he has to tell me after 10 years, then it must be good.

momofuku noodle bar

4) momofuku noodle bar- A vegetarian (and foodie) friend recommended this place--it's supposedly "trendy," so we'll probably have to wait a while to try it, but the menu is pretty amazing.

Cafe Blossom

5) Cafe Blossom- My traveling companion is vegan.  As long as I can have cheese at every other meal of the trip, I'm not opposed to dining veganese for one meal.  This place has gotten great reviews and the menu has things like Root Vegetable Phyllo Pastry and Homestyle Pancakes with Chocolate Chips that sound pretty amazing, vegan or not.

Also recommended that we're contemplating: Jane, Angelica Kitchen (vegan), Lodge (for Saturday brunch), Mesa Grill...where should we go? 
Any recommendations for sushi and/or Thai food in NYC?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Random Thursday Post

My week has been crazy.  We're still battling a stomach bug in the Hill house--momma and daddy got it first, and now baby has it--yuck!  On top of that, we are planning to leave the babe with his grandparents for 2 nights this weekend so we can attend a wedding in Spartanburg, SC- (yay, Kaley & Drew!).  I am a bit nervous about leaving him, especially now that he's not feeling well...hopefully he'll be better tomorrow.

I haven't even begun to pack for that trip, and then when I get back I have two days to do laundry and pack for my trip to NYC!  I am beyond excited about this trip, but I'm a little nervous that my wardrobe may not be prepared for the weather...but oh well, I'll worry about that next week...one trip at a time, right?

So, now for the randomness--I bought these cord shorts for Jones on major sale this week:
image via here

So cute, right!?  And FREE shipping from Zara, you can't beat that.

And, instead of doing laundry and packing, this week I've been working on some handmade items for Jones' first birthday party--which is 2 weeks away!  Crazy.  I'm making a crown for the birthday boy and a bunting for his cake--similar to the one below. 
image via here
So, sorry for the lack of posts this week, and don't expect much for next week, but I'll be back soon with posts about the wedding, the NYC trip, and the birthday party!  Whew.
Happy January!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Craving Neon

I think it's safe to say that neon is an official trend these days...and because I am no style icon, (far from it), it is also probably safe to say that it may be passe at this point, but I am loving it.  (Please forgive me if you are now rolling your eyes and saying: "duh, neon is so 5 minutes ago.")

Recenty purchased this scarf from Target (hard to tell from the photo, but there is some neon orange in there):
image via here

Coveting these neon beauties from around the web:
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So, are you loving neons too?  Am I late to the party??

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Start of Something Wonderful...

James and I received Season 1, Disc 1 of MadMen in the mail yesterday from Netflix, and promptly watched the first episode last night. 

image via here

The blatant and pervasive misogyny and sexism is a bit mind-blowing, I must admit, and makes me thankful to live in a different time, but I think I'm really gonna like the show...

Have you watched MadMen?  What do you think?
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Meaning of Happiness

I read this quote on one of my favorite tumblr's today:

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” -Kurt Vonnegut

I like it.  But, then it made me think of a quote that I can't quite remember accurately, and whose author I can't place, but here's the gist:
"Children do not speak of happiness, they simply let it run all over them like water."

Can you help me place that quote?  I feel like it's from a book I once read, but I can't remember for the life of me... 

And speaking of Kurt Vonnegut, I want to read this book: And So It Goes Kurt Vonnegut: A Life.

image via here