Category Archives: Recommendations

Thoughts inspired by dinner at Enzo29

img_4217-1Americans are always the loudest. They want everyone to hear them but they don’t know how to listen. I want to softly tell the table of 6-Got-SUNY-semester-abroad written all over them, (unfortunately not in invisible ink), that I adore their enthusiasm and excitement but couldn’t they enjoy themselves just as much if they spoke in more quiet voices?

Waiting for a seat in a restaurant that I saved my cacio e pepe cherry for. Sorry if that sounds vulgar. It wasn’t my intent.

The crew here is outstanding. The door guy, smoothly and with a discreet disdain that even Paul McCullough could learn from, was impressive. The servers all served smiles.

This restaurant is at the end of a street named Salumi… Come on.

If I knew how to say it I’d say “I’m so sorry I don’t speak Italian because it is such a beautiful language.,” to every Italian I was lucky enough to encounter.

I just said “no bread.” I had the bread last night and it was delicious. I didn’t need it again, though.

It’s ok cool to be recognized with smiles when you frequent the same trattoria two nights in a row.

There’s a man wearing a lavender, I assume cashmere, turtleneck seated directly in front of me. He isn’t even trying to be ironic.

img_4221-1Holy shit. This cacio e pepe is the best pasta I’ve ever had. Ever. Period. The sautéed chicory on the side is a spicy green vegetable nirvana. Contrasted, yet companionable, to the pasta it all creates something which can only be described as sublime.

img_4222-1This meal is one of those that can be described as “final meal request” material.

I ate my full leaving enough on my plate(s) to prompt a couple of queries to confirm that I had found everything molto bene. Si! I just wanted to save room for dolce.

The tiramisu was worthy of service in this very, very fine trattoria. Bene. Molte bene!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Europe, favorites, Food, Italy, Observations, Random, Recommendations, Restaurants, travel, vacation

Rome in films

I don’t think I’ve ever been so prepared for a trip before. I’ve been basically packed and ready for almost a week already and I’m actually looking forward to Penn Station because it gets me more near to Newark Airport which makes me that much closer to Rome…

Since time seems to moving at a pace which will surely be acceptable when I’m in Rome, but which I find to be excruciatingly slow while waiting for that to happen, I’ve spent the weekend watching films that are set in Rome. First up was the biggest disappointment – The Da Vinci Code. Truth be told, I saw this movie years ago and I was being way too optimistic to believe that focusing on the scenes set in Rome would be enough to salvage what is essentially a terribly cast adaptation of a book I enjoyed. Lesson learned. Next.

A Special Daya Carlo Ponti film starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni rocked my world with its incredible performances, camera angles and emotion. The Roman background was overshadowed by the wrenching story told, but I am so glad this movie came into my life. The scene on the rooftop with the laundry left me breathless. Thank you, Google search, for such a great find.

The final movie, Eat, Pray, Love was also a repeat for me, yet unlike Da Vinci Code this one did actually offer more for me the second time around. Somehow I had completely forgotten all of the preliminary action which occurred prior to Elizabeth Gilbert’s arrival in Rome, but that’s one of the funny things about revisiting a book or movie, isn’t it? What you take away is directly related to what you bring and that changes as life changes. What most excited me last night while watching this movie was the sense of injesting Rome – the pasta, the gelato, the scenery, the people, the language… I’m hungry and ready.

1 Comment

Filed under beauty, Europe, Food, Italy, Movies, Recommendations, travel, vacation

Getting run over by The 57 Bus

AA3198FD-BF52-49D3-9B71-FD03CD1DAD5F

Many of the books I read are written for young adults. These include lots of realistic fiction, some fantasy and adventure titles, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A new box of books arrived the other day in my library – something which still excites even after more than two decades on the job, and I helped myself to a couple of new titles, including The 57 Bus a nonfiction book by Dashka Slater.

You know when you’re reading a book and you find yourself thinking and even talking about it? Well, this is that kind of book. Slater deftly tells the story of two very different teenagers who ride the same city bus for a life changing 8 minutes. She tells the story in brief chapters, a technique I found very effective and one that helps makes the facts related more easily digested. One afternoon on the bus an event occurs during that shared ride which impacts both of their lives, an event which began as a simple prank yet grew to become an incident defined by some as a hate crime.

Oakland, California is a diverse city of 400,000 residents with a wide range of economic levels represented. It has, at times, been cited as the most violent city in America with gangs and guns present in many neighborhoods of the city’s nearly 80 square miles. Oakland was the home of both Sasha and Richard.

Sasha, a teenager who identifies as agender and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, is an intelligent young person with a supportive family and a solid group of friends They (the pronoun they use for themself) attend an alternative high school, wear garments that are typical for both males and females, and are committed to living a life which feels reflective on the exterior of what they are experiencing on the inside.

Richard is a black teenager being raised by his young mom and stepfather in a stable family in a struggling neighborhood. Although he gets into some legal trouble as a juvenile, he is essentially a typical, unmotivated high school boy in an urban school district. The reckless act Richard commits against Sasha is unspeakably horrific, yet not premeditated or truly intended and he in many ways ends up just as scarred as they do.

Reading about the encounter between Sasha and Richard left me breathless and with an aching heart. This is a powerful story that will stay with readers. Read this.

3 Comments

Filed under Books, News, Recommendations, Uncategorized

The lively Dead Rabbit

CAA4E970-6891-4F2F-8F5A-3FE5A16745FFEarlier this month, my oldest son and I went to the city and got us some culture. It began with a cheap (less than $120 for the night) hotel way downtown, which became an afternoon performance at the Met, a Downton Abbey exhibit and visit to the super cool oculus. Our time in NYC coincided with some of the coldest weather of the year (decade?) and we were lucky enough to have some surprisingly good options for dinner nearby in an area that has not always been known for evening dining options. On a friend’s recommendation we decided to give the just-around-the-corner Dead Rabbit try. Here’s how it went…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First of all, I had no idea that this place was so highly regarded. How highly regarded is it? Well, it was dubbed the Best Bar in the WORLD in 2016!

Reading the various reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor also informed me that the space is divided into 3 floors with the middle and upstairs floors requiring entry from a staff member. While the first floor Taproom would have sufficed had I been on a date (as it seemed that many of the pairs surrounding us were), the second floor Parlor was where I set my sights. I had gotten the impression that it might have a bit more elbow room than was available downstairs. I requested seating on the second floor and within 15 minutes, and about midway through my delicious warm Clontarf punch, we were ushered to two seats at the cocktail bar in the Parlor.

My immediate impression? There was so much to check out! Interesting looking people, walls covered in memorabilia, along with an impressive array of small bottles containing various cocktail ingredients provided a visual feast. We were presented with the current cocktail list – a graphic novel telling the story of original Irish gangsters with drinks inspired by their exploits, and adorable little teacups of a special punch. I drank them both since my son is 20 for another 6 weeks and I’m not one to waste good alcohol. The small food menu provided options that were well matched with the frigid weather and overall classic vibe and we selected the fish & chips for my son and the chicken pot pie for me and settled in at the bar. The lighting, music and warmth of the space combined to make a very comfortable spot to spend a couple of hours – at least for me. Liam’s stay was a bit more brief.

Our meals were served piping hot and appropriately portioned for the price. My son polished off his plate completely, while I couldn’t quite manage my entire meal opting instead to sample another concoction created by the friendly and professional bar staff. Not finding exactly what I wanted on their list, I requested a bourbon cocktail with a Manhattan-esque flair and was rewarded with a beautifully balanced drink that was precisely what I was seeking. This is a terrific spot despite all the hype that surrounds it. Check it out!

6 Comments

Filed under art, Boys, Dinner, drinking, Irish, Music, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, winter

Guess I’ll have to buy it now

Cars aren’t all that important to me and all I want is to be able count on one to get me from Point A to Point B. I can’t imagine myself ever buying a brand new one because of both the expense and the stress I would feel about preserving the car’s brand newness. I much prefer something that might have a ding or two and some well maintained miles.

My current car is a twelve-year-old Volvo wagon that I bought after my previous Volvo wagon was totaled when I was rear ended at a stop light. I remember calling it my princess car when I first got it because it was such a pretty shade of grey and so very clean. I’ve loved that car (and she has provided me and my family with more than a 100,000 safe miles) but I’ve been thinking that it might be time for something new after almost a decade together.

When I considered what I want in a “new” car the items highest on my wish list are fewer miles and a standard transmission. With this in mind I called my guy, Dave at Precision, and asked him to be on the lookout for a car that I might like. Imagine my delight in learning that he happened to have something on the lot that exactly met my requirements. I arranged to drive it this past weekend to see how it felt.

Beyond the transmission, the car is identical to what I already own – same year, same model. This wagon has a cream colored interior (opposed to the black interior I now have) which would work really well with Jeter’s fur and the car is very clean having had only one previous owner and all maintenance performed by the same shop I’ve used for almost 20 years. There are 30,000 fewer miles on this wagon which equals about 2.5 years of driving in my world, an appealing consideration.

The decision to keep what I have or make a change has been difficult. Right now I own a car that I have carefully maintained and I haven’t had a car payment in more than 4 years. My car has the odd ding, but is essentially clean and I imagine it would continue to provide me with reliable service for years to come. But, the opportunity to buy a standard shift Volvo is pretty rare and the weekend has reminded me that I really do enjoy the physical act of driving, which is kind of funny when you consider the current move to driverless vehicles.

I’ve laid out the dilemma to a number of friends whom I consider to be practical car people and most are of the opinion that I should trade my car in, pay the difference in value/price in cash (which I have on hand), and get myself the car that I want to drive for the 5 years or so.

I was truly conflicted about the decision until Saturday afternoon when I was leaving for work and was met by my new neighbor outside. It seems she had left a post it note on the car because she had hit the front bumper when she was driving on our narrow street. There now is a little scrape (that my neighbor will have addressed) which has caused me to conclude that the important parts of the car are really on the inside – the transmission, the single owner maintained engine and the dog friendly interior and all of those are an improvement over what I currently own.  I just may be starting the year with a new car!

1 Comment

Filed under Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized

But, Daddy, I want to cross country ski TODAY!

Christmas Day was pretty stunning this year with that gorgeous fresh snow. Once the boys were on their way, I grabbed the dog and my skis and headed to Muni for my first ski of the season. Conditions were decent and I went straight out past the driving range towards a wooded trail I like. After a few hundred yards something weird starting happening with my left ski. My foot kept coming loose and the binding just wasn’t cooperating. I ended up taking both skis off, tossing them over my shoulder and simply enjoying the walk.

After I got home I looked closely at the skis and realized that one of the bindings was missing a piece. No worries, until I could it repaired I could use skis that belonged to the Lilly boys. Jeter and I got back out to the golf course the next day. Imagine my annoyance surprise when I realized that these skis also had a malfunctioning binding. The good news that day was that I discovered the problem before I attempted to ski. I put the skis back in the car and, again, we took a walk.

A local ski shop suggested I check out LL Bean for replacement bindings and I headed there bright and early the 27th. I got lucky and was assisted by a super knowledgeable salesperson. I didn’t catch his name but he really knew his stuff and he was more helpful than any other ski salesperson I’ve worked with in the past. The replacement bindings he had available were clearly not great quality and he offered to mount bindings that I might buy somewhere else. Unfortunately, the nearest locations to purchase the NNN bindings I needed was more than a 30 minute drive and I wanted to ski NOW.

The salesman and I talked about the life expectancy of a pair of cross country skis and the cost of new boots, which I needed. My boots had been splitting at the seams for the past three years and I had tossed them at the end of last year’s season. The boys’ boots were about a size and a half too big, but I had planned to make them work until I had a chance to replace my own. Impulsively, I asked how much it would cost to put me in a completely new set of skis…

Twenty-five minutes (and $360) later I walked out of LL Bean with a completely new ski package. The shopping experience was great and I love my skis. This equipment is exactly what I’ve been looking for in terms of ski length and width for the kind of skiing I do on mostly ungroomed trails and Jeter and I have been tearing up the golf course every chance we’ve had since. Maybe we’ll see you there!

1 Comment

Filed under Albany, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

Facials at the Jenkinstown Day Spa

When was the last time you had a facial? It’s been a long time since I had one, which almost explains why I refused to abandon the idea of indulging myself during my holiday vacation even though it took some effort to get appointments.

Our original plan was Rhinebeck for an afternoon of window shopping, some food and drinks, maybe a little music and then a night at the Beekman Arms with spa appointments in the morning. When the forecast, though, was for single digit temperatures, we reconsidered. Plan B? A spa treatment in the afternoon, a little walk around New Paltz, cocktails and then takeout Thai at a friend’s house.

We hustled appointments at a place we had never been before, the Jenkinstown Day Spa. Reviews and recommendations considered, we booked a European facial for me and massage for her. Going in, I understood the space was a little unusual and definitely not hyper fancy. I arrived just before 1:00 p.m. to a parking area with only one car other than my own. (Upon departure the lot was full.) The front door opened to a standard bilevel stairway dilemma – up or down? The upstairs beckoned and I was rewarded with a warm greeting and a comfortable seating area, along with a bathroom that immediately transported me to 1978 (and Lisa Dietrich’s house.)

My facial took place in a room that had been carefully put together with decorative touches and all the necessary tools for the provider. The temperature of the room was a degree a two cool, but not in an uncomfortable way. Hangars or hooks for guest’s clothing would be a thoughtful addition.

My technician was very professional and provided me with an excellent facial. There was minimal conversation, which I welcomed, and zero sales pitch. Perfect. There were a couple of times when I was surprised by the texture or temperature of a product on my skin and I would have appreciated a warning, but it wasn’t a big deal. The experience was very positive and my skin felt and looked great at the end of my appointment.

Facials may be my new indulgence in the new year and I very much enjoyed my service at Jenkinstown. At $80 the facial was reasonably priced and good value and I would definitely return to repeat the experience. There are a couple of tweaks that would make the spa a bit more spa-ish, but the pricing is on par with the facilities. It was also the perfect reminder of how much I appreciate a good facial.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, beauty, Christmas, Recommendations, road trips, upstate New York, winter