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Posts from February 2004

So Where Should I Go?

I always seem to be that person. You know -- the one that people ask when they're looking for a restaurant or bar recommendation. Since my Chinatown post, a few friends have asked me to post more restaurant picks and recommendations. And as you know, your wish is my command. Now granted, my knowledge fades dramatically above 14th Street, but I promise to do my best.

I'm exhausted at the moment, have a busy day at work tomorrow, and then I'm headed out of town for the weekend to visit my baby sister (who's taller than I am, I might add), but -- I promise my first restaurant pick list is already in the works. It's based on an email I sent to someone after we discussed restaurants over a drink one night. Coincidentally, I ran into him on a bus last night, and that email came up in conversation. So -- I'm planning on passing it on to you.

Stay tuned, and have a fantastic weekend!


I got an email on Friday from a guy who had stumbled across my Daisy May's chili cart review. He was saying that he was going to keep tuning in for more reviews, so here goes another one! Today's review is Great NY Noodletown's salt baked shrimp. Good stuff. Despite the name, I'm pretty sure they're fried, but not greasy in that deep-fried way. They're light and flavorful and yes, they're salty, but they're damn good. When they're back in season, they also make salt baked soft-shell crabs, but I prefer the shrimp. If you don't tend to visit Chinatown that often, you are missing out on some of the city's great treasures. Here are some of my favorites:

  • HSF for dim sum.
  • Pho Bang for Vietnamese Pho
  • Joe's Shanghai for soup dumplings
  • Fuleen Seafood for dungeoness crab
  • Fried Dumpling -- just what the name says. They sell 5 of the most succulent fried pork dumplings for $1. I stumbled across this one with my sister one rainy day. Incredible, and great for a non-profit budget.

    Plus, there are plenty more I haven't made it to yet, including a bakery that's supposed to have fantastic pork buns -- one of my favorites. If you've been there and can report back, let me know. On a side note, I noticed on NYC Eats' posting of Ruth Reichl's 25 favorite restaurants, that she includes Fried Dumpling and Great NY Noodletown on her list. She also includes Pearl Oyster Bar, which as you may recall, won my lobster roll-off. Great minds, and stomachs, think alike!

    *No, not the movie, the neighborhood.

  • The New Zoo Review*

    I'm back from my jaunt to Washington DC. Not only was it a good trip work-wise, but I got to spend the day on Saturday with a friend from college and his wife, and their son, Andrew, who I hadn't seen since he was about two months old. He's now three, so we spent the day at the National Zoo. Now, due to the fact that I don't have any kids of my own, I don't tend to go to the zoo that often, but I'm starting to realize that I should -- it's a pretty cool and educational way to spend the day. I saw some of the more "standard" zoo animals, like the lions, giraffes, tigers, elephants, and monkeys, but also got to see some animals that are more unusual -- a capybara (basically a humongous guinea pig relative that reminds me a little of the ROUS's from The Princess Bride), a pygmy hippo, naked mole-rats and, of course, the pandas. You too can see Mei Xiang and Tian Tian via the magic of the Panda Cams [on a side note -- the folks at Gothamist are a tad obsessed with pandas, so you can find plenty more panda-fun there]. The best part of the zoo, however, was having the experience of sharing it through the eyes of a three-year-old, especially one who calls me "Miss Laren." Thanks, Andrew!

    (this, my friends, is a capybara)

    * A nod to the New Zoo Revue, available on DVD!

    Visiting my Homeland

    I'm heading off to Washington, D.C. for a few days -- the land of my birth. How very spiritual. Actually, I'm going for the annual Pro Bono Institute Conference. Anyone who's anyone in the pro bono world will be there (like me!). I'll also get to catch up with a few friends and go to a reception at the Supreme Court. All in all, should be a pretty good time (for a business trip, that is). Enjoy the rest of your week!

    Food, Fun, & Family

    There are times when I feel extremely fortunate. As you may or may not know, I am a child of divorce. My parents divorced when I was three, and each parent has been remarried for around 25 years at this point. I'm sure you could go on and on with a pop psychology diagnosis of how screwed up I am because of this, but from my perspective, it just means that I have a huge family, which is tons of fun, particularly when it comes to celebrations. Now, on my dad's side, there's not much extended family, so most of our gatherings focus around holidays -- Thanksgiving, Passover, etc. (the Jewish side of the family) My mom, however, married one of four siblings, each of whom (with the exception of my stepfather) have at least three kids. So -- there are aunts, uncles, and cousins galore. What this means is that in addition to the holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc. -- this is the Italian side of the family), there are many more "other" celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or just an excuse to get together because family is in town. Also -- the Jewish/Italian combo means that every holiday, birthday, or get-together is really just an excuse to eat. And to eat well. We're all very good at eating well -- we don't mess around with crummy food. This year, between Thanksgiving and mid-January, I had two separate Thanksgivings, a lobster dinner, dinner on Christmas Eve, brunch on Christmas day, dinner on the day after Christmas (my birthday), and a 60th Birthday party for my Mom -- all family events. Whew. No wonder I've started with the personal training! So gang, when's the next excuse to eat family gathering?

    Attention family -- you can see pictures from Christmas and 12/26 here and from Mom's birthday here. The rest of you can look too, if you're interested!

    Karma Police*

    First -- thank you all for your get-well wishes. I have pretty much just been fighting off a nasty cold, although I think I finally lost the fight today. No puking, for those who asked, but I'm the biggest sick-whiner ever. I hate being sick. I'm convinced that your e-cards (thanks Erika), hugs, and soup helped fight it off an extra day, even though they were sent via the internet. Much lower risk of you guys catching anything that way, too. I still managed to make it through a day of work yesterday, and half the day today -- had so much to do that there was no way I could stay home.

    Other than the plague that I've caught, I'm convinced that I'm riding on a wave of extremely good karma lately. I've been putting out the love and it has all come back to me big time. For example, I wrote about the amazingly delicious chili at the Daisy May's BBQ carts last week, and Adam Perry Lang, who owns Daisy May's BBQ, saw my post and offered to treat me to dinner as a thank you for spreading the good word about his place. I stopped by on my way home last night and chatted with Adam for a bit. He is the nicest, most generous guy -- a pleasure to talk to, and not only did he send me off with a gargantuan take out bag, but he gave me a few samples of Jacques Torres chocolate which he'll be using to make the Mexican hot chocolate that will be part of his chili cart menu as of next week. Even through the sniffles and the tissues, I managed to stuff myself silly with a sampling of Daisy May's finest when I got home. Folks -- run, do not walk, to 11th Ave and 46th St. and check this place out. If you can't make it that far, visit one of the chili carts -- the Mexican hot chocolate arrives Monday. And say hi to Jeff if you visit the cart on 50th & 6th -- I got to meet him last night as well.

    Keep on spreading the good karma around. You never know when it might come right back at you!

    * Yes, a nod to the Radiohead song. Yes, I'm a hipster.

    Gettin' Knitty With It

    After my last knitting disaster and interactions with the nasty knitting store ladies, I was a tad discouraged about continuing my newfound hobby. I almost followed Steve's suggestion of taking up butter sculpting as my new hobby. But one day, I was at a business meeting, and overheard two colleagues talking about getting a knitting circle together. A knitting circle, at least to us, really just meant an excuse for a bunch of women to gather together over snacks and some spiked hot cider to chat and knit. So we did -- and it was such a success that we're planning on doing it on a regular basis. None of us are particularly advanced knitters -- but, we're helping each other learn (I learned how to make a stripe on the new scarf I'm knitting), and ultimately we may invite some women who have a bit more knitting experience so we can branch out to something other than scarves. You can see pictures from the knitting circle here.

    As for my first project, I haven't sucessfully done much with it, although it makes a lovely schmatta. I did make a scarf that I actually wear:
    scarf.JPG (here's a closeup of the yarn, which I think is really funky, so you can actually see the colors). My next scarf is made of a lime-green mohair yarn, which I purchased at Knit New York (where the folks were very nice to me and not condescending), along with Stitch 'N Bitch, a great, basic, hip chick's guide to knitting (because I'm so hip). My friend who taught me to make a stripe had this soft, textured, multicolored yarn that had the exact same shade of lime-green in it, so she donated it to the cause. It looks great so far, and I'm back on the knitting bandwagon again.