Monday, March 31, 2014

Best thing I ate this week

A few weeks back we went to my friend's lovely wedding down in Florida. We added a day to the trip and managed a night in Miami before the wedding. While in Miami, we were lucky enough to come across two tickets to the Food and Wine Festival's Burger Bash. Having attended a few of the New York events for this festival in the past, they're a pretty good time. It's a fun afternoon or evening of stuffing your face with lots of _______ (in our experiences: sandwiches, pizza, burgers) and getting to try ________ (see above) from places you might not otherwise get to try. There's also free booze, live music, food demos and a few Food Network celebs floating around, so it makes for a fun activity.

While eating our way around the Burger Bash I discovered some tasty things that earned the title: "Best thing I ate this week." You see, I like my food. I eat well. Therefore for something to receive that title is well earned. I figure this might be a new fun feature for you, my loyal handful of readers, to tell you some of the best things I've eaten lately. Maybe I'll give you a new restaurant to try, maybe I'll give you an actual recipe, maybe it'll be a donut you have to turn off the highway in some strange location to seek out... I don't know for sure, but if it's good enough to be deemed "the best of my week," it's probably good enough to tell other people about.

So, here's a little catch-up, just to get me current... starting with my favorite burgers from the bash, and then on from there.

February 21: Apparently I have popular taste, because two of my favorite burgers were two of the nights winners. But I'm giving you my top 4, just to give you some new different locations to try, depending where you may find yourself.
B Spot restaurant in Cleveland, OH won the People's Choice Award with their Fat Doug Burger: Burger with coleslaw, pastrami, Castello aged havarti cheese and stadium mustard. Pastrami on a burger? Yup. Yes. Definitely. Uh huh. For sure. Are you seriously still questioning this? Well then maybe this new feature of mine isn't for you.
The Burger Dive in Billings, MT won the Best of the Bash Award with their Blackened Sabbath burger: Blackened spice with bacon, beer battered onion ring, garlic basil mayo, goat cheese and arugula with sriracha. I was nervous going into something that complicated, but by George, it worked.
Those two are great examples of places I might not be going anytime soon (Cleveland and Billings) but I'm so glad I got to try. If you're in those necks of the woods, I highly recommend.
My other two favorites were from Lillie's Q in Chicago, IL and Luzzo's in good old NYC. Lillie's came with their self titled Lillie's Q Burger: Double pimento cheese burger. A taste explosion so simple, yet so delicious.
Luzzo's had the unfortunate location of 'the opposite side to where I started,' so I reached there towards the end, after I had tasted the good, the bad and the just plain weird, and right as my meat sweats were beginning to kick in. Oh yes, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food did not make that up. The meat sweats are real, and they really get in the way of a healthy 36 year old woman trying all 31 burgers. Damn you meat sweats! But I did manage to try Luzzo's offering: Meatball inspired burger in a Neapolitan pizza bun. So, just to paint the picture, when I was full beyond reckoning I managed to sneak in two mini-pizzas acting as the bun to a meatball within... and boy am I glad I did. Delicious, and kind of a nice change of pace from some of the other more traditional burgers at that point in the night.

How you feel after four burgers

How you feel after twenty-four burgers
February 23: Technically it was the following week... Jaxson's old-timey ice cream parlour in Dania Beach, FL. I've been coming to Jaxson's since I was a tiny tot. Not much has changed in the past 35 years, and their massive chocolate chips in their ice cream, hot fudge and hot butterscotch on top are worth the trip whether you're flying in or out of Fort Lauderdale airport (conveniently just up the road), or somewhere, anywhere in South Florida and fancy some damn good ice cream in a kitschy old-fashioned parlour setting.

March 14: I know there was a week in between... this thing is still new for me, give me a chance to work out the exact timing. Next up is the chicken under a brick at Emporio, New York, NY. Yummy pizza, delicious pasta, and a Nutella calzone at the end that... I mean, come on, Nutella calzone? Yes, please. But despite that sweet treat at the end, the main event for me was the Crystal Valley Farm half chicken under a brick stuffed with mushrooms, truffle, broccoli rabe and rosemary jus... served with tasty truffle fries that should have been overwhelming but weren't. I don't know why people continue to cook chicken any other way than under a brick when under a brick is very clearly the best way of cooking chicken and should be the only way... just sayin'.

March 17-19: St. Patty's day has always been our Jewish family's excuse to have my mother's corned beef. We could have it more often, but then it wouldn't be quite as special. And it is special. Boil your corned beef according to its weight. Boiling it takes out some of the salt and fat and makes it so incredibly tender. Then prepare your glaze of maple syrup, brown sugar, deli mustard, and one small can well drained crushed pineapple... pretty much your perfect balance of sweet, tart, savory and delicious. If you want the exact recipe, or the recipe for the corn custard side we do with it, just let me know. It's not corned beef and cabbage, but it'll satisfy your corned beef craving with plenty of leftovers for rye bread sandwiches afterwards. Mmmmm, leftovers.

March 29: We bought a new car, so what does everyone want to do as soon as they get a new car but take a ride. And if it's nearing dinner time, why not take a ride to get dinner. We chose to ride up to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem because it wasn't very far, it was getting late and they do a nice takeout service, plus if you're going to get rid of new car smell in less than 30 minutes of ownership, definitely replace it with Dinosaur BBQ smell... I mean if you can, which you should. I'm a Syracuse girl so as much as I like to patronize my local Dinosaur BBQ establishments in New York City, I miss the Syracuse location, partially for its authenticity but mostly for the mac salad that they mysteriously didn't bring to the menus downstate. I just don't understand. That mac salad brought me to tears on occasion and I wish they had it here too. Thankfully they do have the smothered brisket sandwich. Chopped Brisket Melt: slow-smoked brisket lightly slathered (what a great term that I wish I had more use for) with BBQ sauce and horseradish mayo, with sautéed onions and peppers, covered in melted cheddar on a pressed Cuban roll. I have many memories from college, but not many as delicious as this sandwich.

So, yeah... sorry for the super-long one this time. They'll be shorter when I get my act together and manage one a week. Hope you find something tasty to try on here. I know I have.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lazy daze

I am lazy. How lazy am I? Well I thought about writing about being lazy a year ago and am only getting around to doing it now. Not enough? How about it's February and I've just posted my photos from last fall on Facebook. That's a good one, right? I'd come up with a third example, but I'm too lazy... remember? Ok, fine, how about the fact that it's now actually almost April, not February, but I didn't feel like changing the date in that last example and then having to acknowledge its factual inaccuracy or worse, come up with another example altogether. Too much work, not enough energy.

This winter wrecked me. My last post, whenever that was (I could look it up, but I'm not going to), discussed my fatigue and frustration. That has now morphed into hopelessness and misery. It's not getting warmer and I have lost the will to try to be funny.

What do I have to be funny about lately? Sh!t's gotten weird.
Playing into one of my greater fears, a commercial airplane goes missing, and now, three weeks later has still not been found, though there have been some satellite image sightings of things that may or may not be from the plane. Seriously?
How about countries just storming into other countries and taking over? Did I miss something... do we do that now?
Or how about everybody laughing at John Travolta's public mini-stroke during the Oscars. Ha ha ha... he said a funny name!
Oh, and to top it all off, apparently I can't call my kid bossy anymore, even if she's being bossy. The fact is she is not displaying signs of managerial superiority, she's yelling "bring me my water now" without saying please... but referring to that as bossy and unacceptable is now a bad thing? What the f#$k is happening? And how am I supposed to process all of this with my head stuck in a frozen cloud? For the record, that "frozen" cloud is both literal and figurative. The cloud is partially from the extreme cold that I endure everyday and partially from the fact that I am singing "For the First Time in Forever" when I wake up to pee in the middle of the night and "Let It Go" when I roll over in the morning. My head is stuck in this cloud yet I'm supposed to wrap my head around all of this weirdness? This is not what my weather induced misery needed.

So instead of making sense of all this nonsensical stuff, I am choosing to celebrate my own laziness.

Some see laziness as a weakness, a fault. But I embrace my laziness. It helps make me the laid back, blasé person I am. So when people freak out about stuff, I think, yeah, that's worth freaking out about. I'll totally freak out about that at some point... maybe later this week.

Laziness is a terrible trait for someone who writes. It means I currently have a selection of about six different things I should/could/would write about. Chances are you'll here about one or two, and possibly not in the most timely fashion, but look out, I'm coming for you Chris Christie.

As a parent, laziness cuts both ways. Sure I have to get up and take care of this little human being all day instead of lying around eating bon-bons, but my laziness provides shortcuts that truly make the whole job a bit easier. To all of you Type A folks out there, you might want to skip the rest of this. It will only frustrate you to hear that people are taking shortcuts in life and then using that spare time to sit back and admire the ingenuity of the shortcut which gave them the time to sit back and admire... and so on.

So, in honor of me and my laziness I am giving you my top 5 lazy highlights (I think it's pretty obvious I wasn't gonna go for 10):

1-Walking into the kitchen one evening I noticed a crispy rice treat on the floor next to the pantry door. I left it there. The next morning I saw it again as I got the cereal out, but I chose to leave it there still. Later that day my kid asked for a snack and I simply pointed her in the direction of the crispy rice treat. I believe I can draw the line between people I like and people that annoy me based directly on the people that are impressed by me in that story and the people that are appalled.

2- I managed to avoid working out on one occasion due to the fact that I needed to stay lying down on my right side to get my congested left nostril to clear. I have since acknowledged the fact that standing up does wonders for balancing those suckers out. I am actually quite proud of how easily I can convince myself to do something ridiculous instead of something good for my mind, body and spirit. Ha, take that self!

3-I unplugged our printer a few months ago to put it away during a party. Despite its current location, six inches under the computer on a lower shelf, I have not managed to pull it out and plug it back in. In its absence, I have taken to cutting and pasting entire documents into emails which I then send to my husband and ask him to print at work, often going days before he remembers to A-do it and B-bring it home.

4-I once went jogging and had to hold my phone the whole time because I was too lazy to change it out of it's case and put it into the armband thingy first. My takeaway from that experience was: "holy sh!t, I actually went jogging!"

5-I realize that I could eat better, but vegetables take so long to clean and prep. I have an excess of celery in the drawer because I don't feel like washing the dirt and bugs off. I peel all my cucumbers because A-it's fun to peel stuff and B-I'm too lazy to wash them. Pretty much any vegetable that requires the least bit of effort doesn't do well in my house. That and the fact that cookies come ready to be consumed right out of the box.
Just open and go... green does mean "go" after all 
I'm not gonna lie, I tried to come up with more examples, but part of my lazy genius is to not even bother to remember some of my laziest moments. Plus I feel you will hold me to a higher standard so that my tales of skipping proper makeup removal and tooth-brushing on some particularly lazy nights wouldn't truly impress you.

Ok, back to hibernation for me. See you when it's warmer. Oh wait... I think it's finally getting nicer out. What's this? I can come out of my cave? Joy! See you outside then. I'm free!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Should we talk about the weather

I don't consider myself much of a conversationalist. I am one of those people who actually is completely comfortable during awkward silences... they're not awkward for me. Of course I am capable of mindless chit chat. Truth be told, I rather enjoy it. Correction: I used to enjoy it. For the most part I rely pretty heavily on the weather and sports to get me through most doormen, longer than normal elevator rides, bathroom queues, grocery checkouts, waiting rooms, service professionals, etc. The problem is, my main topic, "the weather," has gotten to be unbearable to talk about, mainly because it's all anyone is talking about.

Back in the day, it used to be enjoyable to mention the groundhog or snow accumulation or the chance of an ice storm. I used to appreciate the odd joke about tap-like runny noses. I delighted in dropping facts like the percentage of heat lost through your head when you don't wear a hat.* I relished those strange few days in January that would be unseasonably warm and allow us to reminisce about autumn or look forward to spring. But that all changed this winter. Enter the winter with no break, no relief, just cold: a constant battering of wind, record-low temperatures, snow storms that bleed into each other, excessive days of cancelled school, poorly plowed roads, and the non-stop dialogue of anyone to anyone about it all.

I've got nothing left. I'm bored with it all. I'm bored of everyone complaining about the weather, myself very much included. I'm sick of getting dressed in layers upon layers yet never feeling like I can shake this chill. I'm tired of pulling on my heavy snowboots every day just because it's easier to navigate the random ice mounds on every other corner with them on. I'm over the notion that we should bake every snow day... having that many cookies in the house when you actually have nowhere else to go is so very bad. I am devoid of enthusiasm checking Facebook for a daily onslaught of snow drift photos and the kvetch-y statuses that accompany them. [Wow, yeah, that IS a lot of snow on your back porch. And yeah, we are also kind of bored staying inside, now that you mention it.] I'm tired of putting lotion on my hands so that they no longer give the appearance of the inside of a burnt scone: white, dry, flaky, in need of some clotted cream... oh, no, that last one's actually my belly. I am over it all. Well, nearly... this self-serving essay about how over it I am would be me truly getting over it all. After this I'll be done. I think.
Look, online friends! It snowed where I live too!
This winter has been great for some weather chatter, but even I have grown tired of the damn polar vortex. The polar vortex? This winter was so crummy they actually had to add phrases for us to use to discuss it. Ridiculous. The polar vortex reminds me of a good friend of mine from back in the day, El Nino... anyone? El Nino? La Nina? (sorry Spanish traditionalists, I have no idea how to get the curvy lines above the vowels, bear with me). These were weather patterns that got a lot of attention during a particularly bad winter back when I was in college. They were supposed to reappear every 4-7 years, and I'm sure they do, but I have never since heard about them with the same fervor as the winter of '99. I fear the same uninteresting fate awaits the polar vortex once we finally thaw out. (Yes, I keep reminding myself that this thaw has to happen. It just has to.) The polar vortex got hashtagged by Jimmy Fallon which is impressive, but I'm not sure we're going to remember it as anything more than a La Nina style excuse for a particularly sh!tty winter.

And how about the European Model? Never have I been so bored by a European model since, um, well, since the last time I met a European model... Ok, nevermind, bad example. Another new phrase to explain away this crap of a winter and it is all taking its toll on me.

Deep down, I fear the worst. I fear this winter is making me a bad person. Not like a bad person that inflicts harm on people, unless you count the pain of frostbitten noses, cheeks and finger tips that I regularly inflict upon myself and my daughter in the simple act of leaving the house. I'm definitely becoming a bad person that hates everyone and everything. And I don't even care much anymore. I easily shrug off the guilt of not chit chatting with people. I'm much happier to pretend that the hunched over stance of someone withstanding this cold physically prevents me from actually speaking. I am at the point where I am ignoring everyone. There are no stop-and-chats when you see someone you know on the street, thankfully a commonly held understanding. Hopefully there are no hard feelings come spring.

I know when it comes to winter maintenance I am lucky. They shovel outside of our building and the roads are cleared (or used to be with Bloomberg!) pretty quickly. It is not nearly as treacherous as some people have it out in the suburbs. But then, they have basements, and room to store Costco rations in spare fridges, and different levels to explore. I have a hallway, where my daughter has spent 99% of the time she has ridden her new Christmas scooter so far. She's getting pretty good and only bangs into the neighbors doors once in a while (again, I wish I cared more: sorry, not sorry). 
I have a CVS down on our corner, where we have taken post-nap "adventures" where she gets to ride in the shopping trolley (just like the suburbs!) and weave in and out of their glorious 24-hour aisles. But even the daily specials on holiday candy and toothpaste aren't enough. I'm done with this winter and have not got much left to say about it. So I'm going to go wrap up in my well-worn blanket, stick on a well-used movie and sleep, hibernation being the only viable option left. Somebody wake me when it's warm out again.

*Some think it's an old wives tale that you lose a high percentage of heat through your head. However no one debunks that you do, in fact, lose some heat through your head. Which leads me to wonder, what the F@#$ are the people that walk around without a hat on a 7 degree day thinking? I will seriously consider myself a VERY successful mom if my kid always knows to wear a hat when it's cold out. It does make a difference. I seriously cannot understand people that don't wear hats and it's getting to the point where it makes me angry. Oh warm weather, where are you? I need to not care so much about how cold every bald man's ears are. Come back! Come back! *