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Monday, December 6, 2010

Turkey Weekend in New York

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ah, back in the city I love excited to shovel as much Thanksgiving food and cheer into me as possible. Having stayed in Midtown and in Chelsea on my past visits, I decided to hit up the Hilton Garden Inn Tribeca on the boarder of Soho for this trip. The hotel was reasonably priced for New York during the holiday and provided unparallel access to all of New York because the blue subway exit is at the entrance to the hotel. Hop on and hop off at all of the amazing New York attractions. The room was sparse but clean and the bed was SO comfortable. I'm surprised I ever got out of it the entire vacation.

Upon arrival at the hotel at 7am, we were lucky enough to get a room early and passed out for a good three hour nap.

We woke up starving and went on a hunt for a place that served breakfast. We knew this would be difficult because most restaurants serve a Thanksgiving menu all day long. We finally just made a decision and walked into Aurora Cafe on Broome St and W Broadway.

We then wandered around Soho but it began to pour rain so we spent the rest of the afternoon curled up watching Californication (great show).

Around 5pm, we headed to Thanksgiving dinner at Savore. The menu had sounded like all the things we love: butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie, and short ribs. The bread was delicious as was the wine, but the food left a lot to be expected. All my favorite dishes but at 60% of their potential. Even the pumpkin pie was bland which I thought would be impossible. The bill was also a little pricey for the experience.

Lucky for us the rain had stopped as we walked to the blue line subway headed for the JETS game. The Thanksgiving Day game was JETS v. Bengals pitting two amazing USC Trojan quarterbacks, Sanchez and Palmer against each other. It was also my first NFL football game which made it even more exciting!

Just to be safe, we both tucked our rain pants into our pockets. The blue line subway drops you off at Port Authority where you hop on a bus that takes you to New Meadowland Stadium in New Jersey. It was very well run and we got to the game about 15 minutes before kick-off. Just enough time to buy JETS beanies!

Now, properly attired we settled in for the first half which proved to be low scoring and pretty boring. I was frozen to my core and hobbled my way to the team store to thaw during halftime. Luckily, they had the last release of Madden on XBox to help warm our freezing fingers. We were having so much fun that we lost track of time and only realized the game had started when the stadium began to rumble from the cheering. We looked up to see the end of an awesome touchdown run. Go JETS!

Brad Smith essentially won the game for the JETS in the second half by running 53 yards for a touchdown and then sealing the victory with 89-yard kickoff return for another touchdown. The final score was JETS 26; Bengals 10. It was a GREAT game that wore us out so much that we went to sleep as soon as we got back!

Friday, November 26, 2010

This morning, we woke up around 11am to meet my friend who is doing her graduate degree at Dartmouth. We stopped at Tribeca Bagels for breakfast (SO GOOD) before she and I embarked on a Black Friday shopping spree in Soho. Today, the weather was a little stormy and cold, but beautiful in its own way. It felt very New York.

The shopping trip wasn't very successful. I guess it is just harder to enjoy shopping when you have to remove three layers of clothing to try something one. Maybe that's why New Yorkers love shoes so much - they are a lot easier to try on!

All that shopping made us hungry, so before my friend had to say goodbye we took the subway to Union Square where she introduced me to her favorite place to eat, Maoz. Maoz is a falafel restaurant that is all vegetarian. I'd never had falafel before but it was delicious! You can order pita with falafel, hummus, eggplant and a couple other things. Then there is a buffet of fresh vegetables to pack into the pita. Finish it with a little sauce and it's tasty!

After lunch, before leaving Union Square, I forced myself to pay $20 for the second book in the series, The Hunger Games. For those of you who have not read it you are in for a life-changing experience. I can hands down say it is one of the best series I have ever read.

Book tucked seriously under my arm, we said goodbye to my friend and spent the rest of the early evening wandering 5th Ave to see the famous store decorations. Some, like Saks, were the same shtick as last year, but there were some new ones as well. As it began to get dark, we scurried back to the hotel to change and make it to dinner on time.

For dinner, we went to Resto at 111 East 29th Street (cross street Park Ave). It had been recommended by a coworker who so far is like 5 for 5 on his New York food recommendations. Resto is known for their extensive list of over 165 beers and their fries.

For dinner, we ordered the tuscan kale salad, house-made pappardelle with pork ragu, and fries with all the dipping sauces (they are either $1 per sauce or you can try all ten for $7). We spent about an hour in a ruthless discussion to decide the preferred order:

– cajun remoulade
– yogurt, cumin, roasted garlic
– cocktail
– lemon & smoked paprika
– sweet chili
– gribiche
– sriracha
– lime pickle
– mayo & onion
– mayo

For dessert we ordered the gingerbread cake with caramel apple compote, vanilla gelato, whipped cream and the beignets that come with berry compote, caramel , and chocolate sauces. The gingerbread cake was DELICIOUS. The beignets were the only part of the meal that let me down. Having been to New Orleans, I was expecting pillows of dough covered in powdered sugar. Instead they were round, almost crunchy balls covered in sugar. Not what I wanted or was expecting but they weren't awful.

Overall, the meal was amazing, our waiter was hilarious, and the ambiance was romantic. I would definitely good back. One thing I will mention...on our way out of the restaurant we learned about something else you can order on the menu...a pig. As in, the WHOLE pig. Here is a picture of shall we say, part of the pig?

From Resto, we sped down to Irving Plaza for a Sam Adams concert. We got in VIP because our friend's brother co-manages Sam Adams. For a little background, Sam Adams is a 20-year-old white rapper from Boston who is AWESOME. I don't know enough about describing music to explain why he is so awesome except to say that he mixes rap, pop, and techno beats to create great songs. Check him out on MySpace!

We were in great spirits after the concert and ready to get down to drinking. Our friend took us to the super elite, super exclusive cocktail bar, Death n Co., on 1st Ave and E 6th St. If you didn't know what to look for you would probably pass the large wrought-iron door that blends into the wall around it. It literally looks like the doorway to Hell. Lucky for us, our friend is the bomb (he works there) and got us in no problem. Usually it is a problem for the "average" people who try to get in. The bar only holds about 45 people seated and they don't allow standing which makes it a very pleasant experience.

Our seats were at the bar so we got to know the bartender, Joaquin Simo. Turns out he's kind of famous in his circle and really good at his job. You can literally describe flavors you like and he will determine the right drink for you. My two favorites of the night were the Hyde Park Swizzle and the Dick and Jane.

Dick & Jane
Tanqueray Ten Gin, Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice, St Germain Elderflower, Housemade Hibiscus Syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters, Topped with Champagne


We ended the night at South Brooklyn Pizza which was just what I needed after all those cocktails!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We barely made it to 1pm brunch at Hundred Acres thanks to earsplitting hangovers from last night. Hundred Acres is a great little restaurant at 38 MacDougal Street (cross street Prince St). I managed to keep my urge for a mimosa under control and instead got the healthiest item on the menu, the Acres Scramble. It's scrambled eggs (obviously) wtih chanterelle mushrooms, english peas, sauteed onions, corn bread, and watercress. I passed on the mushrooms. It had a lot of flavor and was pretty good but won't go down in history as an all-time favorite. Their French toast was pretty delicious though.

After brunch, we jumped on the subway to visit Rockefeller Plaza. The ice skating rink was packed so we instead decided to head to "Top of the Rock." This is a very touristy experience but TOTALLY worth it. It really is the best view of New York (if you don't count the skyline from New Jersey). On the tour, you visit the 68th, 69th and 70th stories of the Rockefeller which has a 360 from the Empire State Building to Central Park. You can see Time Square, the Statue of Liberty, and about 50 other major landmarks. Just a hint: When you take the elevator up to the top try and stand in the middle of the elevator because you can look up through the glass top at all the lights they've installed in the elevator shaft. We stayed up there for hours just staring out at the view.

After a romantic afternoon on top of the Rock, I said goodbye to my boyfriend who was heading home a day early. I had just enough time to shower and change at the hotel before meeting some other friends at Morandi for dinner (Waverly Place and 7th Ave). I had to take the subway by myself (because I'm cheap and therefore avoid taxis). Stupid me, I didn't think about the fact that'd I'd have to walk, in the dark, by myself a few blocks AFTER the subway. It took about five minutes on the sub for some guy to harass me so I had to pretend like I was buying gum at the newspaper stand until he went away. Scary!

Morandi was very homey and the food was very good! I had the Burrata e pachini (burrata cheese with roasted cherry tomatoes “on the vine”) and the Strozzapreti con ragu d’anatra (quill pasta with red wine duck ragu). We ended dinner with two rounds of cocktails and didn't get out of there until 11:30pm or so.

We spent the rest of the night drinking at a friend's house while eating Tollhouse cookies that he made using tin foil as the pan. I headed back somewhat early (in New York 1am is early) so that I would wake up for my flight tomorrow. Yet another good trip to put under my belt!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All Hail Halloween

I have finally said my teary goodbyes to my favorite month of the year, October. The leaves turning orange (yes L.A. has leaves), the enchanting smell of pumpkin pie at Ralphs (no not the rotten fruit smell!), and getting the $H1T scared out of you! Let's take a look back at all the fun activities...

Knotts Scary Farm
In the annual tradition we went to Knotts Scary Farm. My favorite haunted maze this year was the Terror of London. The bloody midget that chases you at the end was a nice, yet terrifying, touch. The show was as stupid as it always is though they did make a crazy at Disney's World of Color which was hilarious. We also managed to scare a bunch of kids in line for the logride and survived the Xcelerator which launches you down the track getting up to 82 mph in 2.3 seconds. Overall, it continues to be a solid Halloween scare choice.

Pierce College's Halloween Harvest Festival
This is the place I told you about last year that I just happened to find. This year, believe or not, it was EVEN BETTER. Two of my girlfriends and a group of about five boys dared to venture into the festival. The boys thought it'd be hilarious to send the girls into the haunted corn maze first ensuring that they would get to watch us sprint screaming in different directions as ghostly creatures appeared in the night. A clever addition was an old shack in the middle of the maze that you HAD to walk through. An actor in a bloody scarecrow costume rocked in an old rocking chair staring at you as you enter. You are SO focused on him that the man in black that rushes at you from the side takes you completely by surprise. I bolted out of that death trap like a racehorse heading out of the starting gate.

I thought that this would be the scariest part of the night but that was clearly naive. We ventured next to the Haunted House. They told us they could only take groups of six so our group needed to split up. Of course, the boys opt to have the three girls go in alone although the operator assured us there were three more people inside that we would walk with. We enter a dark black box with a man dressed like Frankenstein. As the door begins to slide shut behind us we is just us. The gut-wrenching screaming ensued as we sprinted through the maze slamming into walls and each other and using spin-moves to jump past angry clowns and bloody zombies. It was like a fast-paced haunted version of Mario World only when you look at these ghosts - they keep moving. The maze ended with us in a sweaty heap outside the back door with a laughing clown staring at us from the entryway. I felt like I'd just survived a massive asthma attack. Only one maze to go...

The last maze was a new one this year that involved finding you way through a maze of chain link fence while zombies chased you. Not cool. The maze turned out to be pretty easy so I managed to escape without too much mental damage. This festival gets better and better every year.

Pumpkin Carving
Yes, we had a wine and drunken pumpkin carving night and, yes, I refrained from carving something inappropriate. I did want to be creative though so I went with a Pacman chasing the dots around the pumpkin. I later found out that my friend plagiarized me. Criminal.

My Pumpkin

The Copycat's Pumpkin

Hollywood Halloween at the Vanguard
Usually I avoid Hollywood like the plague when a major holiday is anywhere nearby. This year, Miike Snow was playing at the Vanguard so I was convinced to go. We planned ahead this year and made sure to be in line at the venue by 9:30pm already inebriated. Minus some bitchy girls in line who I had to man-handle it was an amazing night filled with great music, pink unicorns, and the cast of Rad Anthem complete with coke dangling from their nostrils. Someone also got the memo about how much I love ghetto street dogs because a lady with a cart was standing right outside waiting for me!

West Hollywood Carnival
It has been many years since I made it to the West Hollywood Carnival and it's a bleary memory at that. I felt it prudent that I go this year, it being on a Sunday and all. It was also my mission to photograph myself with as many other Lady Gagas as I could find. The carnival met every expectation that my faulty memory presented from a flawless reproduction of the Alice in Wonderland cast to Lady "CACA" covered in poo to Wolverine and Ariel and their MerWolf baby. Sadly, I was unable to find the beer gardens that I so vividly remember from last time...

And there you have it - the many festivities of All Hallows Eve. I hope you enjoy the ridiculous pictures.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Weekend in San Francisco

I visited one of my favorite cities this last weekend for the USC v. Stanford football game. Granted I didn't actually make it to the game, but I did make it to a bar to watch the game...

This trip I stayed with a friend on Union Street and Steiner in the Marina district. I've only ever stayed in hotels closer to Union Square downtown so this was a new experience for me. Her two bedroom apartment is absolutely perfect and relatively spacious for San Francisco. My favorite part was definitely the shared rooftop.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I got in late on Friday and had to drop my suitcase and then head back out the door so that we would make it out for the night. We arrived at Kozy Kar on Polk Street at midnight (warning before heading to the website - it's a very "colorful" bar). The line looked long but we got in within five minutes. I highly recommend looking up the USC weekender game before visiting San Francisco in the fall if you have any hope of getting into places. The city is overrun with Trojans. The next few hours we enjoyed cheap beers as we were jostled from all sides by drunk college students. Oh to be young!

We finally bailed around 1:30am and ended up at the Tipsy Pig (a local favorite of my friend's). It was here that I was introduced to what would become my favorite mixed drink of all time (though this isn't saying much since I hate mixed drinks). I was so impressed that someone had finally created a drink that put me on the floor without me tasting a pinch of alcohol! AMAZING.

It is called a Strawberry Fields and it comes in a little jam jar with a straw. First they puree fresh strawberries and then squeeze fresh lime juice into the bottom of the jar. They add a little syrup and then fill the rest of the glass with soda and vodka. It's like candy. After taking down two of them, I was rudely interrupted by last call and the lights coming on. Alas, bars just don't stay open late enough.

Due to hunger, we were forced to join the massive line at Pizza Orgasmica at Greenwich and Fillmore. This particular location is tiny and just fits the people staying in line for pizza. It's only immensely drunk people at 2am so you have to watch out for people trying to cut in line. Once such "cutter," a slutty blonde tried the tactic of telling me she was just trying to meet up with her friends inside. I pointed out that it was very convenient that her friends were about to order. She said she'd already had pizza. Something about this didn't make sense to me so instead I just blocked the door. This made her very angry but it was clear she was not a boxer or trained Jiu Jitsu master so I wasn't very worried. Unfortunately, once I passed the door she snaked past the unobservant idiot behind me. Sigh. Luckily, I was able to snag the remaining piece of pepperoni which made the wait completely worth it.

We brought our pizza back to the apartment and then fell asleep amongst the greasy pizza boxes that remained.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We woke up late and headed out for brunch at East Side West on Fillmore, one of the famous triangle bars. However, as far as I know, they are only famous for housing hundreds of drunken USC students during the Weekender. We sat outside on the street just in time to watch an idiot woman parallel park her car across the sidewalk from us. Apparently, it is completely fine to bash the car behind you repeatedly until you have securely parked your car near the curb. I was about to say something to her but then her massive six-foot boyfriend exited from the passenger side so I went back to sipping my mimosa and eating my delicious, messy pancakes.

After brunch, my friend gave me a short tour of the area around her house. We changed into our obnoxious USC gear and then headed to Republic at Scott and Lombard. We'd been to the bar a few years ago when my friend had started a fight by asking for extra cups that ended in two guys bloody, fist-fighting on the street. No wonder we were back right? We got there around 2:30pm to ensure we snagged a table for 20 people before the 5pm kick-off.

I ordered mac n' cheese which looked amazing and tasted like sawdust while I watch our team fight back all game only to lose by two points thanks to a Stanford field goal in the last minute of the game. I did enjoy the almost battle between my friend, Jeff, who is about 6'4" and some tiny little Stanford kid. That should show how annoying Stanford fans are when the MOST laidback person in our group was going to pummel this kid. If I was him I would've given the kid something to bitch about (good thing I'm a girl or I would cause SO much trouble).

Thanks to the nasty mac n' cheese, I needed grub after the game so we walked down the street to Plutos, where I had an amazing chicken sandwich with grilled onions on sourdough bread. If you are looking for mac n' cheese go here instead. We changed after dinner and then headed to the Tipsy Pig to meet up with the rest of our crew.

I can easily say that I fell in love with this dirty, douchebag-ridden bar almost immediately. The gay bartender was hot, the drinks are the most nonalcoholic-tasting-alcoholic-drinks ever and they have plenty of space to stand or sit. Unfortunately, half our group decided that they wanted to pass out earlier after a day of drinking so we were soon left with just four. I was trying to meet up with some other friends on Polk Street and finally got the name of the bar they were at. We walked out of the bar only for one of those friends to call and say they too were headed to bed. I turned around to stare at the massive line outside the Pig. ARE YOU F&$%ING JOKING?? I was pissed. We decided to cut our losses and eat burgers at Johnny Rockets next door while we decided what to do.

We ended up at City Tavern (another triangle bar) because it was close and there was no line. The reason there was no line, it turned out, was because everyone was already inside and thus it too us about one hour to get a drink. That's just wonderful because as soon as I'd paid for our beers the lights came on and we couldn't even enjoy them. Tonight was a FAIL.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I woke up this morning determined to have a better day. Things started to look up after a nice breakfast at Unwind on Union St. near Laguna. I had the potato skins and a margherita pizza, both of which were good (not amazing). We stopped at my favorite store, Ambiance, on the way home where I scored an awesome leather jacket for cheap.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on my friend's rooftop watching the Blue Angels. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that this year the Weekender coincided with San Francisco Fleet Week when all sorts of military personnel flood the city. Thursday through Sunday the Air Force was doing aerial displays over the Marina. We had a PERFECT view from the roof and at one point a Blue Angel surprised us as it flew directly over our heads. It was exhilarating!! I haven't been to an airshow since I was a kid and I immediately regretted not taking my grandpa up on flying lessons in eighth grade. Oh the mistakes we make...

After the airshow, we had just enough time to grab cupcakes from Takes the Cake downstairs before heading to the airport for our flight. This weekend was definitely a mixture of good and bad. The drama I could've done without but it was nice to see what it feels like to be a resident of San Francisco (for those of you who read last week's New York blog you get where I'm going).