Friday, June 29, 2012

Headed north.

This weekend, a whole troupe of us (we're theater people, mostly, so we're a troupe, and not a troop) are headed up the east coast to the wonderful state of Maine. The occasion? My little brother's 30th birthday. The destination? St. George, a teeny little town not far from Thomaston and Rockland.

There will be blueberries.

There will be lobster.

What else is can't-miss, readers? What amazing mid-coast recommendations do you have for us? A heap of my fellow travelers will be golfing most days, but many of us will be on the lookout for delightful local color. (Especially of the ice cream-related variety.)

Do tell!

Photo of the Maine coast courtesy of Flickr.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting outdoorsy.

Last Monday, I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Terroir's (an East Village wine bar) new outpost on the High Line. Their little patch of awesome sits over 15th Street, right where the park passes under the upper floors of Chelsea Market, and consists of a teeny shipping container (from whence food and drink are served) and rows of comfy picnic tables (where said food and drink are consumed).

You're outside, so wine (like this delightful French rose) comes in little plastic tumblers. There's also beer, but no cocktails - for gin or whiskey, you're going to have to head elsewhere. (Given how awesome the vino is, though, you shouldn't bother. Terroir is known for its perfectly curated lists.)

The plates are small and packed with flavor. On the (vehement) recommendation of our waiter, I tried the fried lamb sausage, which packed whole sage leaves between meat and thin, crisp crust. The sausage itself was juicy and robustly flavored - possibly even a little too salty, until I squeezed the lemon over the whole thing, which made everything right again. Smartypants restaurants with their functional garnishes.

My second dish was the farro salad, which I seriously enjoyed. It was super satisfying in the way that only something delicious and healthy can be. It was perfectly tender, dotted with shaved white onion and chopped sugar snap peas, and dressed with mint, olive oil, salt, and pepper. This is one I'll be working on recreating awfully soon, hopefully with accompanying sunset.

Terroir At The Porch
The High Line
10th Avenue at 15th Street

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Remember when?

I've been doing the vast majority of my book reading on my Kindle and iPad for the last 18 months or so. That's partly because it's just so easy to carry my Kindle everywhere I go, but also because I ran out of room for books in my apartment. (350 square feet, 1,000+ books...yeah.)

But, man. Aren't these gorgeous? I miss book covers. I miss the way they look, the way they feel, the way they smell...sigh. I miss it all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy summer, everyone! (Well, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere. Happy winter to my readers from down under!) The season kicked off with a bang here in the Northeast, with a three-day heat wave of epic, brownout-inducing proportions. Things have cooled off a bit, thanks to a classic summer thunderstorm, and I'm headed out to the country today for what promises to be an epic birthday party, complete with a pool and a pig roast. I know.

In the meantime, let's look at some pretty!

'Tis the season for icy cold cocktails served in warm weather, which of course means we need to prepare for loads of condensation. Enter these gorgeous linen coasters from Linea Carta, which are not only festive (Cheers!), but also a perfect combination of coaster and cocktail napkin. I wouldn't want to use them on a precious wood surface, but they're ideal for a glass, lucite or otherwise more durable spot. And so cute!

Next up, something I'm a bit late in posting. No delay, however, could dim the excitedment I'm feeling about the New York Times' summer drinks generator. Just pick your ingredients and see what recipes it spits out at you - or, if you're brave, there's always the "Randomize" button. Maybe I should break it out at the party to come up some exciting combinations from the bar. Does Campari pair well with spit-roasted pork? I'll report back!

Last, but certainly not least, look at these awesome neon-spiked wooden bowls! I cannot get enough of the pieces from Wind & Willow Home. I already have plans for the paint-dipped wooden spoons, and I know a few people worthy of a salad bowl or two. And the little treasure pots! So cute! I can't get enough.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

'Tis the season.

This summer (well, late spring), I've been making an effort to spend more time in Central Park. It's a fifteen minute walk from my house, and yet I'm rarely there. I'd bet that in the ten summers I've spent in Manhattan, I've spent more time crossing the park than sitting in it.

And so last Sunday, I packed up my new park-sitting blanket and headed for a quiet spot of green not far from the Delacorte. After spending a couple of hours reading and napping, I gathered my things and set off on a little walk. My plan was to meander back east, then hop over to Lexington in the East 70s to run some errands.

That, friends, is how I found myself in the Ramble, a tangle of paths in a densely wooded bit of the park, along the edges of the lake.

Next time, I'll have to bring a friend and rent a boat, something I've never done. Ten years is too long to go without that experience, right? Right.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the neighborhood.

I did not move to the Upper East Side because it was cool. I did it because it was cheap, convenient, and, well, that's it. I've never regretted it, but I do wish I lived in a neighborhood where grabbing a tasty bite to eat in a cool atmosphere with good drinks was easier to do. For years, that was a pretty tall order. It's still not the easiest thing, but it is getting better. And the folks behind ABV are a big part of that.

I've been a few times, but only once when it was light enough out to get some decent snaps for you guys to enjoy. I paid a Friday evening visit with my friend Cristin, and we both ordered a flight of rosé. (The French one on the far right was definitely the best.) Then, we enjoyed a couple of snacks - first up, the fish tacos with kimchee. I really liked these, except for one thing: the guacamole was really strongly flavored with cilantro. For some of you, that would seal the deal. For me, it meant an early stop to the proceedings. I hate it when menus don't specify that things have cilantro. Grrrr.

Next up, the fried pickles. These are fancy fried pickles, with a light, tempura-ish batter coating seriously juicy half-sours in large chunks, all served with a miso mayonnaise. The enormous serving is enormously cheap (five bucks), and well worth your time. They go swimmingly with wine, too.

ABV is a wine bar, and, accordingly, they have a great selection of sweet and fortified wines to keep the drinking going once the savories have been dispensed with. My selection this time? The 10-year-old Nierporent tawny. Delicious on its own; even better with sticky toffee pudding. (Just saying.)

One quick note: my very favorite thing that ABV serves is their meatloaf sandwich, which comes with fries and is served on a toasted bagel and topped with a fried egg. It is, in a word, delightful. So don't not order it just because I've only eaten it when it's been dark out, is what I'm saying.

1504 Lexington Avenue
Between 97th and 98th Streets

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Astorian idyll.

Last week, my friend Stacey asked me if I wanted to join her for a shrimp boil. Obviously, I said yes. Turns out we were headed for Sunday Night Dinner, a supper club created by the incredible Tamara Reynolds. The story? You pay $45 and promise to bring a bottle of wine; Tamara cooks an amazing meal for you and 19 of your closest/soon-to-be-closest friends. It is, in a word, awesome.

The menu for Friday's gathering was decidedly Southern. Stacey and I - and a good 50% of the rest of the guests, I'd say - started off by cracking one of the two bottles of rosé we'd brought with us from Manhattan. A few minutes later, these open-faced beauties appeared. Smeared with anchovy butter and topped with radish and watercress, they were rich, spicy and perfect with the wine.

Then came the tomato pie. I don't know what was in this (one theory we bounced around involved mascarpone, mayonnaise and a little egg for bonding it all together), but I do know that it was delicious. Tangy (hence the mayonnaise), creamy, dotted with little grape tomatoes that put me in mind of the exploding food trend we saw on our trip to Chicago in 2009 - surprising (close that mouth) and delighted-giggle-inducing.

Next up, the soup course, a perfectly seasonal (and delicious) radish gazpacho. I loved this, especially because it was just a little bit uneven, texture-wise. The varying bits and bobs kept my tongue interested the whole time, and the bite of the radishes added a welcome bit of heat to the proceedings.

A giant, lemony green salad followed, served alongside a platter of perfectly cooked asparagus. I had to stop myself from eating every last spear.

Finally, the main course arrived. Judiciously seasoned with Old Bay and accompanied by mild pork sausage and plump peas, the shrimp were freaking awesome. And there's something to be said for eating at a table full of strangers and still being cool with getting down and dirty with shell-on shrimp. This crowd got really into it. (Had a great conversation about Prometheus, too, and nobody asked about anyone else's career for a good two hours. Amazing, right?)

Dessert, the only course served post-sunset, was Jersey strawberries with whipped cream. They were tiny, sweet and lovely - a last gasp of late spring before the more full-bodied, richly flavored stone fruits start popping up in the markets.

The table. Idyllic, yes?

There was nothing about the night I didn't love, right down to this string of outdoor lights. Everything about it was wonderful - even the mosquito bites felt just right.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting some culture.

Last week, I had the glorious luxury of a day off. I spent the morning doing responsible things, like going to the gym and the grocery store, but my afternoon was devoted to pure New York-ness. After a homemade lunch (tomato and avocado salad), I hoofed over to Fifth Avenue for a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I spent a good deal of time wandering around the new - and incredible - galleries devoted to Islamic art, then made my way through Impossible Conversations, the Costume Institute's exhibit devoted to Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. (Verdict? Really awesome, but nothing will ever beat last year's McQueen tribute.)

Eventually, I made my way up to the rooftop, which is one of my very favorite spots in the city. Because the museum sits just inside Central Park, it doesn't matter that you're only a few stories up - in fact it helps, because you end up feeling like you're perched right on the tops of the trees. The views are incredible to the west, north and south. That right there is Cleopatra's Needle, which sits just behind the museum. (Remember the last visit I paid to it? The weather was a bit different on Friday.)

Every summer, the museum hosts an outdoor exhibit on the roof. Like 2010's bamboo forest, you can climb this one, called Cloud City. (Nerd alert: my first thought was of Star Wars.) Created by artist Tomás Saraceno, the sculpture is a group of geometric pods, mirrored on some sides, open on others. Climbing through it must be pretty awesome, if a little disorienting. Sadly, I didn't get to find out on this visit, since I had to take off to run some errands. Before I left, though...

...I snapped this photo of the gorgeous apartment buildings on Central Park West. I once heard that one of the reasons Fifth Avenue apartments are more expensive (on average) than their crosstown siblings is because their view is so much better than the reverse. I don't know if it's true, but I'd believe it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I honored the first local blueberries of the season by eating them with strawberries and topping the whole thing with some whipped cream (spiked with dark brown sugar). "Gobbled" is the word that comes to mind when I think of what happened next.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer's on its way.

This weekend at the Greenmarket, I bought thyme, zucchini, cherries and blueberries.

I'm going to saute the zucchini with the thyme and a bit of lemon and garlic, and eat the fruit with some whipped cream.

Early summer at its finest.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Amply delicious.

Last Sunday, I spent a truly wonderful afternoon with my friend, Miya, and her adorable daughter, Emi. Emi turned three on Tuesday, and we decided that such an event deserved not only a special story time (we read a chapter of Little House In The Big Woods, part of the set of "big girl" books I gave Emi for her big day), but also a little stroll for something all three of us love: ice cream.

Miya lives in Prospect Heights, a few blocks from Ample Hills, a homegrown Brooklyn ice creamery, and one all of my Brooklynite friends have been bugging me about visiting for ages. I was thrilled to relent, and ordered a single scoop of the salted caramel with crack cookies.

Oh. Mah. Guh.

This is some seriously ridiculous ice cream. It's indulgently creamy, but without that horrid, too-fatty, mouth-coating after effect. It's blended with just enough air to go down easy, but not so much that it enters the dreaded frothy territory. And the flavor. My GOD the flavor. The salted caramel comes through strong and clear - unlike so many caramel-flavored things, this one actually retained the slightly bitter, almost burnt quality of good caramel, and the salt was wonderful against the sweet, buttery crack cookies (shortbread coated in dark chocolate).

Emi was kind of mad that I didn't give her a lick, and says I owe her two next time. We'll see about that.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Sunday, kids. It's a zany day here on the Upper East Side, where we're hosting the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I'm hoping to make it over to Central Park for a bit of R&R (and to try out my new beach blanket), but, in the meantime, how about we check out this week's Treasury?

These crazy cool ceramic cups are the first of two gilded items on offer today. They're made by Studiomake, and have irregular, gold-plated rims. I can't imagine what it might feel like to drink out of one, but I wouldn't mind the opportunity to try, either. So pretty.

Next, a little hop across the pond to Paris, where French hipsters have discovered the wonders of the food truck. In a town where it's still hard to find a cup of coffee to go, places where you have eat standing up - or on the nearest bench - are a novelty, and considered "très Brooklyn." Just the latest chapter in Paris' love-hate relationship with American culture, n'est-ce pas?

Finally, the second of our gilded roundup: Brown Paper Design's notebook set. Like the cups, these are rendered in an array of neutral colors, like brown and grey, then finished off and glammed up with gold foil. I think one of these in my bag would result in endless inspiration and jottings.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thank you/damn you, Nicole!

My amazing friend Nicole was this week's F Words subject. You have to check it out, because Nicole is, in a word, stupendous. To wit:
Do you prefer to cook alone, or with friends?
ALONE. Get the hell out of the kitchen. I have tremendous amounts of performance anxiety. My father-in-law kept hovering over me when I was making my first Thanksgiving dinner, and once he finally got to “you know you’re using that cutting board upside down?” I had to bounce him formally. Of course, that was also the year I made the goose, and was using one of those awful single-use foil roasting pans. It snagged invisibly on the element coil, and about three cups of goose fat settled into the top of the stove. The goose, of course, was delicious, the experience of using a putty knife the day after to scrape congealed goose fat out of the stove, less so.

As long as you don’t watch what I’m doing, you’re welcome to stay and make me a gin and tonic and talk to me about Mad Men.
The recipe she shared was for her family's signature peach pie, and now peaches are all I can think about. But they won't be in season in these parts for weeks.

Some people say delayed gratification is a sign of adulthood.

I say that's some serious crap spoken by someone who's never had a strong craving for peaches.

Put some honey on that pizza, sir.

Oh, yes. You heard me right.

See, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Richard (Who's my cousin's wife's brother - so sort of my cousin, right?) invited a few of us to his place for drinks and guacamole. He's living in an adorable new apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and is ever-so-close to the famous Bushwick hipster pizza mecca, Roberta's.

So after a delightful bowl of cilantro-free guacamole and a delicious rum, lime and coconut water cocktail, we headed over to Roberta's for dinner. It was a balmy night, so we passed our waiting time (expected when one visits such a destination) in the garden bar (the menu of which is pictured above) - a space which, to this Manhattanite, seemed positively gracious in size - then headed indoors for some serious noshing.

Our salads (one with asparagus and one a delicious take on a Caesar) were lovely, and all three of the pizzas we ordered were great. The very best one, though, was an off-menu specialty called the Bee Sting. It was a red pizza, and its sauce spiked with spicy peppers. Setting off the heat? A swirl of honey (from local Brooklyn bees, I'd bet). The sweet honey played beautifully against the earthy tomatoes and provided hints of relief from the spicy heat. It was, in short, awesome.

So, yeah. Spike that sauce with some peppers, and throw some honey down on it. You won't regret it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Saturday, my doves! This weekend dawned all foggy and drizzly here in New York, but it's turning around to sunshine at the moment. Before I dash outside to get my daily dose of vitamin D, let's take a look at this week's Treasury.

First up, a gorgeous suite of stationery from la Happy, a web and print design company. (They have an Etsy shop, too!) These were created for an engagement party, and I absolutely love the colors (rich coral, bright pink, sharp seafoam) and the gold (glitter is always the answer). The whole thing, including the pop of Laura Ashley floral, is practically perfect in every way.

Next, this bracelet. It's from J. Crew, and I want it. Bad. To the point where I should probably lock up my credit cards until the feeling passes. Or not. What say you?

After spending my Memorial Day afternoon laying out on a shawl I bought off a street vendor, I'm in the market for a beach blanket. This faded, striped number from Roxy just might do the trick. It's colorful, 100% cotton, and it's on sale. What could be better?
Blog Widget by LinkWithin