Sunday, December 11, 2011

culinary tour 11.11.11

Most people who know me, know I'm a planner. I love lists, and I've had one on my computer for over a year called "New York Culinary Tour". I had accumulated a bunch of places that were either recommended by some Food Network chef, a friend, or on a blog or website. I came to find out a spectacular girl I worked with (Lauren!) also loved food and food places, and she offered to go on this mad, whirlwind tour with me. This was not for the faint of heart, and again, if you know me, you know that we don't vacation, we travel. Meaning: we see absolutely as much as we can and do as much as we can in the time we have. (Hello, we've toured 5 countries in one day.) This was a planned 14+ stop visit to the Big Apple, and I'm happy to say we conquered it. We left on the 8am train from Hazlet bound for Penn Station...

The fun started at Doughnut Plant, inside the Hotel Chelsea. I had read about this pastry sensation and had wanted to score a square doughnut for myself. I chose wisely, picking a peanut butter banana offering from their "yeast" menu. I brought one home for Phil, a "blackout" from their "cake" menu, and his was better. Dark chocolate and all, you know. They have about the most amazing assortment. 

We had to stop at the New York Cake and Baking Supply Co. I came out with a few odds and ends of things. You know, important essentials. 
I have always wanted to see the Flatiron Building, so this was stop #3 on our agenda. It was a gorgeous morning and the sun did everything it could to add some grandeur to this timeless building. 

Eataly is conveniently located on the same block as the Flatiron Building, so we were able to combine lots of attractions without walking too far (it's all in the planning! lol).

Gelato Bar

The market at Eataly is amazing. There are lots of interesting sections to browse, and all of it sports a cool warehouse/carrera marble combination. Beautiful.

Wouldn't you like to try something, just to watch it be made?

Lauren approved the fresh, unpasteurized milk.

Apparently, "Bah-ram-ewe" isn't always going to work :(

Butcher counter
Bread! I came home with a loaf of rustic fig, and it was wonderful.
Fresh pasta
Fresh fruits and vegetables! I found black garlic and was super stoked to try it. It's been making appearances in several of our dishes, and most noteworthy was its addition to our family favorite: rigatoni. 

Loved the set up in Eataly, this in particular was a wine/salad pairing where you stood at sampling tables.

How would you ever choose?

Spicy soppressata, please.

The cold caprese sandwich was incredible. It had house-made fresh mozzarella, a yellow heirloom tomato, a basil-infused olive oil and salt flakes. Salt flakes?
They rocked my world. You wouldn't think they'd make that much of a difference, but the salt flakes made the sandwich.

From Eataly, we crossed a few streets in search of the Coolhaus truck. I was following them on Twitter, so we were able to find them in the midst of the NYC Veterans' Parade. 
We tried the Sweet Potato ice cream with a spiced pumpkin cookie, and the Nutella with snickerdoodle. Yes, it was November, and yes it was cold, but it was gooooood. 

Our next stop after the ice cream truck was to Zara. I got Rae a Christmas present, and we walked back over to Union Square GreenMarket. It was amazing. The vendors and the varieties available in the city really is incredible. I had sumac tea, Lauren had Hot Pear Cider. Hers was better. We bought a few items like handmade pretzels, and made our way to the metro. I didn't take any pictures :(

Motorino was slated by the New York Times to be some of the BEST pizza in New York. I had to find out, and wow, yes, that's right. I loved the thin crust, the fresh cheese, the delicious sauce, and the place! It was so super cute, and honestly, the pizza was just amazing. Soft, foldable, dripping...yum! 
We went next door to S'Mac for a takeout since we had eaten more pizza then we had planned. of course. We ate the Four Cheese the next day, and it was good. Not as good as some baked macaroni though. 
We then had an impromptu stop at a thrift store we both of us bought some things (as if we had room!) and then our foot tour took us right past another store we had considered going to: Broadway Panhandler. This was actually much more my speed than the Baking Supply Co. and it had some really cool and unique items. I got quite a few Christmas presents there. and not for me! Next up was a different, more touristy site
Washington Square Park
So I saw August Rush, whatever. :)
It was beautiful and so cute overrun with kids doing anything to be busy and playing outside.
City moms have it tough.

Chelsea Market: Home of the Food Network.
Naturally, on a food tour, we'd stop there, right?
We did some shopping there at Chelsea Market Baskets and Buon Italia, and added a few more Christmas items to our overflowing backpacks, along with some herbs and spices that were cheap at the market.
Happy Veterans' Day! 
And, to top it all off, stop number 14, Mood. I happen to like Project Runway, and I've always wanted to shop at Mood. I needed five different fabrics--something fun and cool--and within the 30 minutes we had to shop, I got them all. Projects to come later :)
We ate at the Pig N'Whistle, and stopped for some much-needed Starbucks before leaving on the 8pm train bound for Hazlet. It was amazing that we accomplished the whole day's agenda, but we did! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

he came named

In 2003, I worked at a horse farm; I did everything—you name it—including mucking out every one of the 30+ stalls every day. I often had a little friend with me, a black and white kitty that was full of vim and vigor. He would ride on the “prow” of my wheelbarrow and occasionally jump up on my back for a rest.  He would try to stop the flow of water when the hose dripped in the barn, batting at it with his perpetually-bright-white paws. It was so cute that it would dribble past him, and he’d back up and scramble to put a “stop” to the “creature”. His history was tragic; his little siblings were killed in a car engine when they crawled into the engine block for warmth. Lucky, however, was found in time and hence the name: Suerte. He didn’t keep the cultured form of his name, though, due to a stereotyping boss. So, we have Lucky—he came named.
When I left the farm for another job, we left him there for a while. He was happy, running around like any good barn cat, and we ended up just “stealing” him in April 2005. I remember bringing him home {to 1246 Cedar Street} and forcing him to get a bath to get rid of the barn stink. He was wide-eyed and panicky, and he hid for days under our bed before he decided he wanted to socialize. He did, eventually, and by July he had the run of the neighborhood. We brought him a little companion, and she promptly stole all his food. We had to separate them when we would feed them, and he often got left in the pantry because we forgot to let him back out.  They would climb to the top of the cabinets in the kitchen to watch from their lofty positions the goings-ons in the house.
They were a fun little team, but when we got orders to Japan, we knew the little girl wouldn’t be very happy to go, so we gave her to a family nearby. Lucky, however, made it. The whole 40+ hour trip he slept, except for a brief crying spell in the line for Customs. We had to keep him upstairs and inside all the time in our new apartment in Japan, though, and he was not happy with the situation. He came home with me to Pennsylvania in 2007, and he stayed there when I went back to Japan. He lived it up in his favorite place yet: Woolrich. He had the run of the neighborhood again, and he loved it. He also put the older cat AND dog in their places, and was often found sleeping in the dog’s oversized bed, in the middle, by himself, while the dog looked on wistfully. He continued his decimation of the small rodent population in PA and brought prizes back for the family to applaud him for. When we moved back to America, he stayed with the family until we found a place to live, and he joined us in Tuckerton in March 2009. Again, he had the rule of the street, and he liked this town since he was near the water and there were plenty of small animals to stalk. We moved to another few apartments in the interim between moving into our house, and he went back to Woolrich for a while. He loved being back; you could tell because he wouldn’t even give you the time of day until he was ready to come sleep on your lap.
We moved into 306 Ash in August 2010, and Lucky moved in, too. He was greeted 6 weeks later with a small, loud thing, who he knew as the “smallest one”. For his part, Lucky ignored Raegan until she was bigger; only on the rarest of occasions would we find him sleeping in her room—on her chair—while she napped in her crib. He was keeping an eye on her, you know. As Rae got bigger, she became more and more aware of him, and her very first squeal of the day was often directed at him. He was her favorite! She knew he was the “kitty” and that his hair tickled her. She got into a habit, not that long ago, of putting her face on soft things, and I would find her holding his side and putting her face on him. He really was the softest kitty, ever, and very tolerant of rae, especially if there would be chicken treats involved. He was present for everything, every meal, every party, every nighttime tv show would find him underfoot or on a lap. He was at Rae’s party hanging out with the kids the night before he went missing. And his legend lives on, we don’t know for sure, but it seems most likely that he was hit on our road.

However, I want to leave this note, just saying that I found two—not one, but two—four-leafed, lucky clovers yesterday. In succession, and inexplicably. I have to think it was a “sign,” and that my little buddy, my soupie-soup, had a good run, a full life. I’m going to miss you, little bud. 

Endnote: sorry for the photo dump, but I had to post this today, so I can finally stop crying every time I work on this draft. Losing a pet stinks :(