A Hawaii transplant living it up on the East Coast for the past 14 years (Boston and Stamford, CT). I write about food, books, adventures in CT and NYC, products I love, the oxford comma, and my current journey of trying to go from lazy sack of potatoes to marathon runner. But mostly I write about food. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 10, 2013
Anonymous asked: does that striiv app still count your steps if your phone is on but phone screen is off? xo
Sorry - this question may have been asked awhile ago! But yes, it does. The striiv app just has to be running in the background. I did notice that it works the best when the IPhone is upright in my pants pocket versus in a purse or held sideways or anything else.
April 9, 2013
What I Read in February and March
Several awesome books in January were followed by some lackluster reads (and one good one!) in February and March that made me become aggravated with reading in general until this past weekend when I devoured the Delirium series (I was holding off until Lauren Oliver released her third novel of the series before jumping on the bandwagon). I’m only upset that I didn’t get a chance to finish that final novel because I decided to become somewhat productive on Sunday night and finish my tax returns (phew! – now give me my money!!!). So Delirium series…. Yay! Rest of the books from February and March… mehhh….
The last time I talked about the Tea Rose series I was gushing. It was that good. And then I started the final book of the series. And…
I think there were two main issues. 1) I hated the main characters. Or maybe hate is too strong a word. I was indifferent to the main characters. And as we learn in Delirium… indifference is worse than hate or love. But I’m getting off track. The love story of the two characters were introduced in The Winter Rose and their scenes were the only scenes that I didn’t care for in that novel – so no wonder I couldn’t get behind a book about them. My second main issue is that it was a love story about cheaters. I have a huge hang up about cheating. Sure, whose going to come out and say that they are pro-cheating… but I have such a problem that just reading fiction stories about it makes me disgusted. But outside of the main characters, the storyline was pretty interesting. WWI, Lawrence of Arabia (how did I miss that there really was a Lawrence!), Spies, you name it.
A mystery series that takes place IN Disneyworld WITH Disney fairytale characters come to life. I figured there was no way I wouldn’t love it. Except I didn’t. I was so bored. I’d argue that it could be because I’m older than their target audience, but then again Delirium is recommended for ages 14+ and I’m currently rereading The Hunger Games so I don’t think my impressive maturity level has anything to do with it. Besides complete boredom, my main issue with the book was character development – or in this case, the lack thereof. SPOILER ALERT – Maleficent is the bad guy (or girl) in the novel. Surprise surprise. But why was she so bad. Okay, she tried to kill Aurora in Sleeping Beauty but as we’ve learned from Wicked…
God I love that musical!
My two favorite characters in Once Upon a Time are Rumpelstiltskin and The Evil Queen, and let’s not forget the loveable serial killer Dexter… all proof of what good writing can do.
The 19th Wife tells two stories. The story of Ann Eliza Young, the most famous of Bingham Young’s 50+ wives, whom divorced him and went on to fight for women’s rights. I had never heard of her before (but then I also thought that Lawrence of Arabia was a fictional character) but her story line captured me more than the second story line, that of a woman in present times stuck in a plural marriage and accused of killing her husband and her estranged son’s path to try and clear her name by reentering the town that kicked him to the curb a couple decades before. I found the book highly entertaining and enjoyed it from start to finish even thought I wasn’t so overly captivated that I lost sleep over it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing from my health’s point of view.
One thing to check off the bucket list: finally making it to Next
Bear with me, or just scroll really fast, as I write my love letter to Next Restaurant. Back in 2008/2009 after first becoming aware of Ryan’s lord and savior Thomas Keller, I learned of Keller’s protégé, Grant Achatz and HIS restaurant that was quickly heating up the Chicago restaurant scene, Alinea. Dinner there would be a very pricy 3-hour affair but I was desperate to go and made it my birthday present to myself. Alinea was amazing! So 2 years later when Grant announced his newest restaurant concept, I was once again lusting after the chance to check it out for myself. But it would prove to be A LOT harder this time around. Instead of calling exactly 2 months in advance and taking whatever time slot I wanted, I needed to pre-buy a “ticket” because Grant had decided to revolutionize the restaurant scene. To get a ticket you would pick the day and time (or what was left by the time you went to the site) that you wanted to go and pre-pay for your meal (and drink options). Since the waiters and waitresses are salaried at Next, tip didn’t matter (or was factored into the price of the per person dinner). The big problem was knowing when more tickets would get released as it turned out I was not the only person lusting after a dinner at Next. There seemed to be (at least to me) no rhyme or reason as to when these tickets were released. The restaurant would announce on their facebook account that they had more tickets available and you would rush to their website and hope your internet connection was fast enough. Mine never seemed to be. Not during Grant’s Childhood food tribute, El Bulli, Kyoto, or any of the other themes that have come and gone since 2011. For there was one other difference to this restaurant, every quarter the entire restaurant would turn over. Not just a change in a dish here or there, but the entire menu, the theme, and the concept.
April 3, 2013
So thankful for awesome family (in law) friends that give up their amazing seats so that we can cheer on the Red Sox to victory on the enemy’s turf! #redsoxnationalwaysandforever (at Yankee Stadium)
March 30, 2013
Let’s be real, most of our sight-seeing around Chicago has been to fill time in between all the eating… but I dragged us to the International Museum of Surgical Science to get scared by exhibits of medieval doctors amputating limbs without the use of anesthesia… or cleanliness. What I didn’t expect to see was a statue of Imhotep, honoring the first known physician.
Um hello…. do the museum curators not realize what Imhotep became?!
(Until I figure out how to fix my pictures, please click on photos and then use the keyboard arrows to see them all)
Every year, in the period between the year end busy season and the first mini-busy project of the new year, I plan some sort of vacation to recuperate before doing it all over again. And this year was no different. Except for the fact that instead of seeing family, a never before visited locale, or a theme park, we planned a vacation purely around eating. Eating at Grant Achatz’s Next Restaurant to be exact, but more on that later other than the fact that hard earned reservations spawned an entire trip to Chicago and a dinner on our first night at Tru Restaurant. I’ve wanted to eat at Tru ever since I bought Rick Trumonto’s Amuse Bouche recipe book (due to a Tumblr recommendation years ago). Even though Rick apparently severed ties with Tru since then in order to make his way down to New Orleans, I was still interested in visiting his former home, especially after my dad had proclaimed Tru to be the best restaurant that he’s ever eaten at in the US.
And I do have to say, when it was all said and done, our dinner was pretty legen-wait for it-dary. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We opted for the menu with the most food on it (it was called something much more elegant than that, but the name escapes me right now) and were quickly onslaught with 16 dishes, all of which fortunately were manageable because (1) I can eat a lot and (2) except for the main fish and beef plates, the dishes were each only a couple of bites, stemming from the Thomas Keller school of thought about providing small bites to leave the customer wanting more.
And while the food itself focused on showcasing how well they could cook wagyu beef and salmon and less on the gimmicks of molecular gastronomy, the serving platters took on a modern flair as they changed from glow in the dark bowls and split logs to a huge cocoa bean on a cocoa bean leaf. The service was outstanding and yet relaxed at the same time, something I personally appreciate because it makes me feel less like an impostor dressing up in her mother’s clothes. This one poor girl had me cracking up the entire night. Cute, short and blond, she must have been low man on the totem pole as her job was to lug out every dish from the kitchen, including the heavy logs of meat, while the muscular guys (albeit top-notch waiters whom clearly earned their way to their seniority status)* waited patiently for her to make her way towards them before raising a finger. At one of her exasperated rolling-of-eyes and sighs I couldn’t help myself, I burst at laughing at her distress (wow, that sounds horrible - really my heart was going out to her!). But much to my chagrin, my laughter brought the attention of the higher-ups down on her - and they did not look pleased. I hope I didn’t get her in trouble, since I found the entire situation enchanting. The whole night was!
*Dude, I stood up from the table and a waiter took one look at me and started walking ahead of me… escorting me to the ladies room.
I do have one negative comment, purely on another customer, and added only as an anecdote The party next to us responded to the, “how did you enjoy your dinner?” generic question with a tirade about how the truffles were not needed in the soup and blah blah blah (I tuned out the rest of what she said for fear of getting nauseous). She didn’t see why you couldn’t just pour a teaspoon of truffle oil into the soup and call it a night. Really? Really?! Miss high-and-mighty had a problem with fresh truffles. And she wasn’t done. She commented that she knew her truffles because she was [redacted nationality]. Ma’am, I don’t care if you are Italian (she wasn’t), if you aren’t the 1%** of the nation taking your pigs or dogs into the back-country forests to forage for the wonderful tartufo - keep your annoying mouth shut. And being the bitch that I am, as I walked by her (and the respectful waiter nodding and trying not to look pained) on my way out the door, I turned to Ryan and MAYBE stated loudly, “well, I certainly had a wonderful night, but maybe that’s because I am knowledgeable and classy enough to know that sake can be served both hot AND cold” which was in reference to what first brought the Queen of Truffles to my attention earlier in the night when she protested over being brought cold sake as part of the alcohol pairing option because, “sake is only served hot.” To his credit, Ryan looked annoyed with me over my comment as he usually does when I decide to be obnoxious.
**made up number
I don’t want to end on a bad note, so to summarize: if you get the chance, eat at Tru. It really is phenomenal.
March 28, 2013
March 22, 2013
My dad is my biggest champion
- Dad:What are you doing this weekend?
- Me:I'm doing a 5K run in Hartford for the Sandy Hook Victim's Fund.
- Dad:Isn't that far away?
- Me:Yeah, it was originally only an hour from my house but it became so popular that they moved it to Hartford.
- Dad:So you are driving 4 hours round trip to run for 20 minutes?
- Me:Uhh... No... It's a 5K...
- Dad:But you run a mile in under 7 minutes.
- Me:I was 12 when that happened. I'm praying I can do this in 40 minutes!
- Dad:40 minutes for 3 miles?!
- Me:Yes! It'll probably be more like 45 minutes.
- (Awkward pause)
- Dad:That's really great!
The mystical, magical, boobaliciousical Spa Castle
Not to brag (any more than usual on a blog about me, myself, and I) but I had the most wonderful Friday last week. Ryan had to burn through a PTO day that he would lose after this past week and I was sitting on a couple unused holidays so we took off the day and made our way to Spa Castle in Queens.
photo via tripadvisor.com
Time Out New York always recommends Spa Castle in their things to do section but I was pretty hesitant about a huge bathhouse in Queens with naked (non-coed) sections and little kids running around that may or may not be potty-trained. But at my last hair cut my hair dresser could not stop raving about Spa Castle and as I’ve previously mentioned, one should always listen to Miss Oh-I-hang-out-VIP-style-with-Jay-Z.
Our adventure started with free valet parking (what what!), something they do not loudly advertise, hence us driving around and around looking for street parking before finally giving up. We didn’t even know it was free until they handed us our keys back at the end of the day and moved on to the next customer. Score!
Now, when you check in ($35/person on the weekdays and $45/person on the weekends for full access to the pools, saunas, and resting rooms) you get a watch-looking devise that works as your locker key and your money. While it definitely made for an extremely relaxing and hassle-free day, I was worried about just how much a hassle-free day would cost me. Not that the prices for food and drinks weren’t really easy to see, but buying that last mudslide was a lot easier when it was just a flip of my wrist versus pulling out cash.
photo via yelp.com
Once you’ve got your wrist band (and additional 21+alcohol band) all situated, it is time to enter into Disneyland for exhibitionists, otherwise known as the locker rooms. This is where I found out that despite the fact that I capped off my senior year in college by streaking through lower campus in just snow boots during a snowstorm, I am a HUGE prude. Everywhere I looked there were girls, either air drying themselves by lying out on the locker room benches in all their glory, or blow drying their hair sans…. anything. I was the only one scampering around in a towel I brought from home (because the towels they lend you are the size of a washcloth).
But Ryan tells me I’m the weirdo / prude / ridiculous one, so don’t listen to me and just go and enjoy yourself in all your nakedness. But just know that your bare buns are not the only ones that have touched the locker room benches.
For those of you inclined to be clothed (and I applaud you!), they issue you uniforms for your time at the spa. Really comfortable uniforms, although not quite the height of fashion, and in predictable pink for girls and blue for boys.
Heading up the stairs from naked narnia you come to what I like to call The World of Saunas (pronounced sow-na’s apparently - the more you know!).
photo via mslk.com
It was fantastic, there were seven themed saunas in all, from the very hot, never less than 185 degree sauna to the cold, never above 25 degrees sauna, and all the ones in between, which included infrared saunas, gold saunas, and jeweled saunas.
And then there were the pools. The outdoor pools were heated and open year-round and the water was absolutely balmy and pleasant. Getting out of the pool into 25 degree weather after being soaking wet however, was not. But not to fear, there was also a sauna right next to the outdoor pools that I scampered into to drip dry in.
photo via lookadooinnewyork.blogspot.com
One of the indoor pools also came with a swim up / walk up bar which I used to inhale the aforementioned and delicious (anti-diet) mudslide. They seemed pretty strict on alcohol consumption, as you are limited to 3 per person. So I would suggest you finagling your non-drinking cohort into getting a wristband so you can move on to drinking his allotted 3 drinks once you are finished with your own. You’re welcome.
photo via lipstickandluxury.com
And last but not least there was the food. There were nachos, corn dogs, dumplings, pizza, salad, you name it. But my favorite was the korean plates up on the top level. Yum.
photo via blondieandbrownie.com
Our last stop of the day before heading out to Fu Run for dinner was hanging out in the “resting” room, basically a room full of reclining chairs, where Ryan promptly passed out and I caught up on my tumblr dashboard and inadvertently would punch Ryan in the shoulder when his snoring got too loud. And after all that, at the end of the day I collapsed into my bed completely exhausted. Man, it’s hard to be a lady of leisure!
March 21, 2013
It’s that time again. The time honored tradition of gambling away your hard earned money on a sport (and teams) you never pay attention to outside of March and April. Or maybe that’s just me.
In past years, brackets have been created while Ryan poured over pages and pages of statistics and while I poured over Wikipedia pages looking up mascots and school colors. But this year we both got busy and before we knew it - game day had arrived. So I sat in my 9 AM meeting today not-so-secretly filling out my bracket based on gut instinct. Ryan on the other hand just printed out and submitted the President’s bracket. Let the games begin! And let the money start rolling in.