I think I may have mentioned in the past that my youngest son is a bit obsessed with Asian food. What can I say? He was born on Chinese New Year. This school year began with his new lunch box, more specifically a Bento Box, which he tasked his father and I with filling with various Asian noodles, sliced beef or chicken, scallions and some kind of sauce – hoisin, peanut or kecap menas. The first few mornings of school were not easy with his culinary demands, but we figured things out and he happily ate his gourmet lunch, with chopsticks, natch.
Our favorite soup dumplings.
On our last trip to NYC our itinerary completely revolved around where we would eat. We started at Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings, moved to a small Japanese place for ramen in the evening and wrapped up with Korean bar-b-q for lunch the next afternoon on our way to Penn Station. It was a good time, but his hunger for dumplings remained unquenched. Luckily, we found a local source for affordable, convenient and tasty dumplings – Northeast Dumpling House on Central Avenue Some friends turned me on to this place and I’ve dropped in a few times since to pick up frozen dumplings (pork, lamb and cabbage) to stash in the freezer for a quick meal. At $13-15 for 30 dumplings, this is a killer deal and genuine lifesaver on a busy day.
I mentioned to a Chinese friend that Quinn can’t get enough dumplings and that we’ve been enjoying those from the Dumpling House. It turns out her family is visiting from China and that her mother makes dumplings. Imagine how thrilled I was the other night to get a text from my friend offering to share some homemade dumplings with us. We met Thursday morning and she gave me a bag, generously filled, of pork and vegetable dumplings that we’ll be eating this weekend.
Coincidentally, another friend dropped in to Lark + Lily the same evening to give Quinn a cookbook that she was weeding from her extensive collection: Classic Chinese Recipes. It looks to be a terrific resource and I’m excited to have Quinn pick a few recipes for us to try. The cookbook was accompanied by 4 super cool melamine plates, which I know my boy is going to love, and will pair perfectly with the chopsticks our family thoughtfully brought upstate for us after their recent meal in Chinatown. Talk about Chinese delivery! How lucky are we?
When I mentioned to friends last week that I was heading down to the city for a couple of days, they suggested that I visit Governor’s Island. Although I often stay downtown in the financial district, I’d never really considered taking the ferry to any island other than Staten and knew nothing about Governor’s Island. Our proximity, though, and the budget fare ($1 each way), made this excursion too appealing to deny.
Monday morning we made our to the dock for the 11:00 a.m. boat. It was a cloudy morning, but dry, and the super quick boat ride was comfortable and refreshingly lacking in diesel fuel aroma. We docked and made our way to the bike rental tent, which was just a bit to the right of where we had disembarked. Within minutes we were set up with 3-speed cruiser bikes at a cost of…zero. Yes, the first hour of bike rental was free. Talk about budget friendly!
We took a quick spin around the island, pausing to capture some pictures of our favorite lady in the harbor, and got the lay of the land. We saw the newly completed “hills,” along with a beautiful wildflower garden, amazing residences and brick dormitory looking buildings and an area that has been utilized as a training site for firefighters. I kept imagining how cool it would be to live on the island in one of the historic looking homes…amazing.
On our second lap around, we parked our bikes and climbed the hills to get the best vantage point of the southern tip of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The skies were clearing at this point and it was just so easy and mellow – no crowds, no stress, barely any expense. Phenomenal.
After an hour and half or so of island living, we made our way back to the dock and returned to Manhattan, satisfied with our adventure and pleased to know of another inexpensive option for exploring the city. I’d definitely consider going back again to spend an afternoon or take in an event. On the weekends there are a variety of food options, including food trucks, to sample or you can pack a picnic and go total low budget. Thanks, Colette and Steve!
- Presenting, in no particular order, the 5 best things I ate in the 5th month of the year…
- Softshell crabs at New World Bistro Bar. It might be the fleeting availability of this spring delicacy that makes them so damn special, but the capable hands of the kitchen at NWBB elevated them to a new level of awesomeness. The Asian noodle pancake, viet slaw and tamarind peanut sauce accompanying the crabs provided the perfect foil for the sweetness of the meat. I housed the entire plate.
- Gnocchi with a gorgonzola cream at Lark + Lily. What can I say? Chef John Futia used the ultimate light hand with both the pasta and the sauce to create a dish that was delicate and satisfying without being weighty or overly rich. A heavenly pillow of deliciousness.
- Ceviche at Rosa Mexicano, NYC. Firm shrimp and pungent onions joined together with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado served appropriately chilled made for a wonderful light lunch course. The pomegranate margarita wasn’t bad either.
- French Onion soup at La Bonne Soupe, NYC. This crock of goodness provided the ultimate example of French Onion soup – a strong beef stock, tender and sweet onions, gooey strings of cheese… Not my usual pick on a hot late May evening, but I am so happy to have not missed this wonderful representation of a classic dish. C’est bon!
- Kurver Kreme Sundae – Soft serve vanilla ice cream, chunks of toffee, hot fudge and butterscotch sauce with whipped cream and a cherry made for the perfect treat on a cool Sunday afternoon following a run. Dessert before dinner may be the ultimate perk of adulthood.
Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, NYC, Recommendations, Restaurants, soup, Uncategorized
As we traveled to NYC last Saturday morning my oldest son brought my attention to an event currently being held at the Discovery Center, Star Wars and the Power of Costume. We’ve been to a couple of other exhibitions at this venue and have always been satisfied with the experience and, seeing that my youngest is a huge Star Wars fan, this seemed like something we wouldn’t want to miss.
Sunday morning I purchased tickets online (even sussing out a discount code) and we planned our visit. I briefly considered just sending the two of them in, but ultimately was really glad to have seen the show myself. We arrived a little earlier than our reserved time and quickly checked our coats and our one piece of luggage. There were no lines or crowds and we were viewing the brief pre-exhibit movie within 10 minutes of our arrival. From there, we stepped into a moodily dark room and began our tour.
Even for someone who isn’t obsessed with the Lucas films (that would be me),it was an awesome and impressive exhibit. The costumes on display are all actual costumes, not replicas or copies. The fabrics and embellishments were remarkably rich and the workmanship so impressive. A number of the displays included fabric swatches adding a tactile element to the experience that even an 11 year-old boy could appreciate. Speaking of that boy, it was wonderfully gratifying to see Quinn’s eye wide as he took in the attire and weapons of his heroes. Worth every dollar. As for that bikini, it didn’t look any more comfortable to wear than it was to watch Princess Leia unknowingly kiss her brother. The bikini didn’t photograph well so I didn’t include it – I suspect you probably know exactly what it looks like anyway.
Sunday morning I ran NYC. Our hotel was on East 43rd Street between Second and Third Avenues, a neighborhood with which I don’t have much familiarity. My plan was to head north on Second and then cut through the park on 65th to head over to the west side. From there, the plan was nonexistent – I was going to just wing it.
Second Avenue has some nice rolling hills and I was quite taken by the East 50s. I could live there for sure. I took 64th to Fifth Avenue and found myself facing the Central Park Zoo. What a beautiful building it is when approached from the east! One more block north and I was running west, towards Tavern on the Green. I ran up Central Park West with an eye on the Dakota swathed in scaffolding until I reached Strawberry Fields and headed back into the park.
I threaded my way through the park until I reached Columbus Circle, turning east on 59th making my way back to Fifth Avenue. I ran on the east side of the street to maximize my view of The Plaza. What a building! I started to realize that my run was becoming a “greatest hits” of NYC landmarks. Oh my God, this is such a wonderful way to see the world, this running thing.
It was somewhere around 8:30 and the streets were blessedly empty. I window shopped at 6 mph, taking in the fabulous displays and getting increasingly more excited about the new season’s fashions. Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany…I practically got a contact high from all that beauty.
I continued south with my eyes on the Empire State Building before turning east to make my way back to our hotel, now with my eyes fixed upon the Chrysler Building. In less than an hour, and just over 5 miles, I had feasted my eyes on some of the most stunning architecture in the world’s greatest city. What a wonderful way to start the day.
Despite having sent out 95 holiday cards, I still feel as if the holidays passed by without nearly enough time for me to make contact with all of the people I had hoped. Shit, I guess I can say the same thing about the entire year. Sometimes I think that TIME is the ultimate 4-letter word.
As I was running yesterday, I started inventorying the year, thinking of places I’ve been, thoughts which have stuck with me and little things which have brought great satisfaction. It was a very full year.
• Taking on the restaurant has been a life changing endeavor. I’m learning so much – about the responsibilities of running a business, how to ask for help when I need it, time management and what my own priorities are.
• Although I am spending less time just hanging out with my guys, it feels like we are actually seeing more of each other. What I mean is, I’m not merely Mom anymore and my sons are no longer just children. We’re each viewing facets of one another that may not have previously been revealed – they’ve become more independent and are developing an understanding about who I am as a business owner and hospitality professional. It’s pretty damn cool.
• I bought a new raincoat, kind of an anorak, prior to my France trip in April that was exactly what I wanted at far less than I expected to pay. That doesn’t happen often.
• The cold doesn’t really bother me, but I need sunshine.
• As far as that France trip goes, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. Seeing the beaches of Normandy and the sights of Paris with my oldest son was an unforgettable experience.
• Speaking of beaches, our two weeks on Lieutenant’s Island in Wellfeet were memorable in numerous ways. I was so lucky to spend 2 weeks with my favorite fellas, something I don’t expect to be able to do again for quite some time.
• I saw so much great music in 2015! Highlights were Jack White, Robert Plant (2x!), The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Government Mule’s amazing Dark Side set. It’s going to be hard for 2016 to rise above that lineup.
• Getting to my hometown, not once but twice, in 2015 was a real treat. Celebrating a 35 year class reunion and an afternoon spent on a paddleboard on the lake were both fun times.
• I ran a half marathon!
• Miraculously enough, I scored the perfect skinny jeans, like the raincoat, they came from Gap. Online shopping has become the norm for me and when I receive an item that actually fits perfectly, it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot.
• I made my way to NYC a few times, mixing it up by traveling with a special friend, my girlfriends and family. It remains my favorite city in the world.
• Closing out 2015 by spending 4 days with my most fun friends in Nashville was the perfect punctuation to a year filled with new experiences, challenges and accomplishments.
• I can’t wait to see where 2016 takes me. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!
Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, concerts, Europe, Events, Exercise, family, France, friends, holidays, Music, Nashville, NYC, Observations, Random, running, travel, vacation
Can you believe it has been 35 years since John Lennon was murdered? It just doesn’t seem possible that so many years have passed since the music world lost one of its most influential artists and many of us lost our innocence. I don’t think I’ll ever forget lying in bed that night and hearing the news on my clock radio – the disbelief and shock that I felt were unfamiliar emotions to me. In an instant the world became a different place.
I have to wonder if John Lennon would have written different lyrics to Imagine if he were writing that song today. I suppose he might have imagined a world without handguns, right? Yeah, me, too.
His hope for a world without religion probably wouldn’t have changed, but maybe he would have expanded upon that thought by wishing that we could live in a world where political candidates didn’t manipulate citizens with fear mongering and religious discrimination.
The rampant consumerism in our society probably would have bummed him out. The ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in our world shows that we have only grown more distant from Lennon’s ideal for “sharing all the world.” It seems that oversharing a la tabloids and reality television is what we really do best.
Who ever could have imagined the world in which we now are living? A world where dozens of children have been massacred in their schools because we’re too stupid as a society to prevent bad people from getting weapons? A country in which prospective presidential candidates are encouraging behaviors frighteningly reminiscent of the actions we took decades ago when we perpetrated gross civil liberty injustices against the Japanese, and, in more recent years, blacks and gays.
Unfortunately, I imagine we’re still a very long way from when the world will live as one.