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Posts from November 2012

Long Live the Dinner Party!

I already posted this New York Times article, "Guess Who Isn't Coming to Dinner?" on my Facebook page, but I have a great deal more to say about the topic of the allegedly endangered dinner party. First and foremost -- it's not endangered. At least not in my apartment. Not my in current apartment or any other prior dwelling in which I've lived. I think in every dorm or apartment I've ever lived in that had a kitchen to cook in, I've hosted a dinner party of some sort.

I think part of the problem is that some people panic when they think about hosting a dinner party, thinking it needs to be a fancy, Martha Stewart-esque affair with multiple courses and intricate recipes. It doesn't. At all. Cook something simple -- ideally something you've cooked before -- and provide a comfortable atmosphere for your guests. If they offer to bring something, let them. Hell, tell them exactly what to bring: "Can you bring cheese and crackers? A dessert of some sort?" One less thing for you to prepare.

My favorite season for dinner parties is now -- the fall and winter. Ideally, when I have some outdoor space and a grill to call my own, this will change, but fall and winter allow for simple, comforting dishes that are good for a group: lasagna (a big dinner party winner), stews, hearty pastas, roasts, or anything in the slow cooker. On a freezing cold Sunday, what better to do than stay home, play some music, maybe open a bottle of wine and fill your home with tantalizing aromas. In a few hours, you're joined by a group of guests of your choosing, talk away the hours, eat and laugh heartily, and generally end up with leftovers. If you're lucky, one or more of your guests will offer to do the dishes. Let them.

I probably have someone over for dinner at least twice a month, and I should do it more often. Sounds like a good New Year's resolution in the making. Who's hungry?

Booze You Can Use: The Holiday Spirits Bazaar

The holidays are just around the corner, a fact which still seems completely mind-boggling to me. Even for those of us who aren't yet ready, the Third Annual Holiday Spirits Bazaar is a fun and boozy way to kick off the holiday season. $45 gets you admission to the Astor Center, 399 Lafayette Street, for either the 1-4 pm or 7-10 pm sessions, each with cheese and charcuterie from Stinky Bklyn and cocktails galore. And in the holiday spirit, a portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit the Children’s Aid Society of New York, and guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or non-perishable food for victims of Hurricane Sandy.  See you Saturday -- cheers!

Booze You Can Use: Drink to Rebuild [UPDATED]

LupecMany people I know have helped to clean up and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy by donating money or time. For those of you who have not yet done so and are looking for a simple way to give back, or for those of you who have worked hard and just need a stiff drink, be sure to check out these upcoming fundraisers, all benefiting Sandy relief efforts:

- Saturday, November 10th: Highlands Bar on West 10th and Waverly  is holding a silent auction from 1 - 4pm. All proceeds will go via New York Cares to help Staten Island residents affected by the hurricane. Grab a drink while you're at it.

- Sunday, November 11th: Pegu Club at 77 West Houston Street is holding a 50/50 benefit from 5 pm - 1 am. Half the proceeds will go toward Hurricane Sandy relief. The rest will aid Murray Stenson, a veteran Seattle-based bartender, with unexpected medical expenses due to a heart ailment. Drinks, made by a slew of well-known bartenders, are full price. There will also be a new $10 drink on the cocktail list called the Sandy Relief Cocktail, and all proceeds will benefit the Red Cross and other charitable organizations.

- Tuesday, November 13th: CitySip is hosting an Industry Night at Dick & Jane's, 266 Adelphi Street in Brooklyn from 8:30 pm - 1 am. All proceeds from Whistle Pig Rye cocktails will benefit the Sandy relief efforts of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders' Guild.

- Tuesday, November 13th: the New York chapter of Ladies for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (of which I am a member) is hosting their montly Broad Appeal at Macao Trading Company, 311 Church Street. From 8pm to midnight, Natasha David and her barback Jeremy Oertel will be serving $10 cocktails with 100% of proceeds going to Restore Red Hook.

- Thursday, November 15th: Pouring Ribbons at 225 Avenue B, 2nd Floor, is holding an event called drink. donate., from 7 pm to midnight. Proceeds from the $20 ticket will benefit restaurants that were hit hard by the storm and the Red Hook Initiative.

- Sunday, November 18th: Jonathan and Jeffrey Pogash are serving up Bloody Marys at a Bloody Mary lunch benefitting the American Red Cross Greater New York Region. 12- 2 pm at the Empire Room, 350 Fifth Ave.; $35 tickets available online.

And, of course, be sure to patronize your favorite bars and restaurants that were impacted by the storm. Don't forget to use the #dineoutnyc hashtag to show your support!

Days of Darkness -- A Glimpse of Life in SoPo

Despite many kind offers of hospitality, I stayed in my building during the storm. It wasn't that bad, really, and I was certainly in better shape than many.  In preparation for the storm, I had filled the tub partway, located my flashlights and candles, and charged up all of my electronics (helpful hint: you can charge cell phones from a laptop battery). I had a decent amount of food in the freezer, some produce, eggs, milk and cheese in the fridge, and plenty in my pantry (I have some food hoarding tendencies). When the power went out, I was drinking wine with my neighbors (something I ended up doing quite a bit of during the week).

It became clear very quickly that certain things became crucial to my living situation. My apartment is quite dark, even during the day, so my headlamp was probably my most frequently-used item. My grandmother had gotten me a gift of a battery-powered flashlight with a transistor radio built into the handle. I listened to copious amounts of WNYC this week. They are getting a donation from me this year for sure. I had gotten a crank-powered flashlight from the Urban Justice Center at one of their events. I have a gas stove, so I could cook and heat water. Brugal rum had given me some cardboard speakers, designed to use for picnics. Given my charged iPod, I was able to listen to music and podcasts when I wasn't listening to WNYC.

I cooked every day, partially for sustenance, partially for something to do, and partially to ensure that I wouldn't lose the goods in my freezer and fridge. I'll post the run-down on that later. I also checked in with our building staff to see if anyone in the building needed food when I was cooking. When I wasn't cooking or eating, I was out and about, often with Moxie, trying to get a phone or blackberry signal and searching for power (thank you NYU, for letting us use your outlets).

On Wednesday, our office was open and buses were running, so I decided I'd head to work, and perhaps use my gym for a hot shower. On the way, my dog walker cancelled, so as I sat in gridlock on my way to work, I realized that I would have to get back sooner than expected. I got into the office, charged my devices, did some work, and learned that my gym had no hot water. After a few hours, I went back on the bus and back to the dark zone.  Wednesday evening was Halloween and I was getting a little cabin fever, but didn't want to leave Moxie alone in the dark for long. I left her with a glow stick (as candles were clearly not an option), and headed out for a quick drink at Formerly Crows, which was operating by candlelight. Also on Wednesday, our building brought in a generator to get the (cold) water running again, as it had run out. While it was out, I learned how to effectively flush a toilet with a bucket of water -- a good skill to have. They also set up a power strip in the lobby hooked up to a generator so that residents could charge our devices. I think Wednesday was also the day that I got three bags of ice from ConEd; they were distributing it in Union Square. That allowed me to save the contents of my freezer for a bit longer -- I had already moved everything I wanted to save from the fridge into the freezer. I also think it was the night I hung out in the lobby a bunch. It had turned into a nice place to congregate while charging devices.

On Thursday I decided I'd be better off seeking WiFi closer to home than the office and I once again tried to seek out a shower. I walked to the 38th Street branch of NYSC with all of my electronics in tow and took an amazing hot shower. Many of the women there were in the same boat -- not many had come to actually work out. Afterwards I headed to the NoMad where I met fellow dark zone refugee @daisy17  for a swanky lunch, more power, and some WiFi. More drinking wine with neighbors Thursday night.

Friday I went into the office and did some work, went back home to Mox, then returned to work again. It was a long day, but we finished up with dinner at the John Dory. At that point, according to ConEd's twitter feed, the power was coming back on all around my apartment, but not at my apartment. I slowly made my way back down into the dark zone.

At 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, I was awakened by the power humming back to life. We got heat and hot water Saturday around noon.

I can't thank my friends and neighbors enough for keeping me company through this, especially Richard & Nanette, Karen, Jesse, Anthony, and Kathryn & Dan. I also realize that my social media addiction kept me sane and feeling connected to the outside world -- when I had enough juice and a signal to get online.

Other things I noted: I still have a land line. Stupidly, it's bundled with my cable service so it didn't work. Time to unbundle. If there is a storm in the future, I need to fill the tub all the way, not just partway. If we hadn't gotten water back, I would have had to rely on bottled water. I am so glad I live on the 4th floor. I'm also glad my dog weighs 9 lbs.

It was always fascinating to head uptown -- life was practically normal there -- but those of us living in SoPo started to get antsy as the sun went down each day. Around 4:30 pm it was pretty much time to head home so you wouldn't be walking around in darkness. Every day became a quest for basics -- power, food, ice, water. That said, many are still searching for those things. You can help them through Occupy Sandy.

Dispatch from the (Not Anymore!) Dark

I am happy to report that as of about 4:30 this morning my power went back on and as of about noon today I have heat and hot water. I wanted to write a post about how I spent my time during the week and important things I learned about living without power since Monday -- and I will -- but right this moment I feel somewhat drained and exhausted just from having to trek around the city searching for power, hot water, etc., trying to get work done, and making it home before dark.

Also, there are plenty who are still in the dark. WNYC has a list of ways to help. Also, NYC is in dire need of poll workers for election day. Email me for details.