Monthly Archives: August 2009

Poor Wall-E…

I may very well be getting too big for my britches here and blogging too much about stuff no one cares about…but, then again, if self-actualization is my goal I shouldn’t care what other people think. So…I guess this means I can blog about whatever I damn well please.

With that in mind, as you know, my friend K got married in Chicago earlier this month. And…after the wedding, I went to a bar called Richard’s with some of the groomsmen…which is apparently a good ol’ dive bar known for its hard-boiled eggs and its jukebox. (I, however, do not like eggs…and so even if they had been serving those bad boys by the time I got there, I wouldn’t have tried them. Eggs are non-negotiable.)

And…when I am away from home, I like to take lots of pictures. So…there was a group of men at Richard’s who were wearing matching shirts with stuff written all over them and I wanted a photo. So…I took one. And my flash gave me away…and then the man in question turned around and I had to talk to him. And…it turns out he has a very common first name, but his last name is super-long and starts with “Wal-…” so he goes by Wally. (And…I was telling a friend about this recently and she said all she could think about was Wall-E, so now every time I think of Wally, I hear this in my head.)

So…he was nice and everything, but I got Schlitz and Blatz confused and so when I saw they served Schlitz at Richard’s, I got excited because I thought it was the same beer that one of my cousins in Wisconsin bought for us once…and the Schlitz factor apparently upped my cool points considerably in Wally’s estimation…but I was *wrong* and it wasn’t Schlitz at all. It was Blatz. (So…see? I’m a fraud.)

And then, you know, I was ready to go back to the hotel, so I bid adieu to Wally…but he didn’t want to bid adieu. But it was super-late and I was ready to go…and he wasn’t…and so finally he suggested he ride back to my hotel with me. And after some hemming and hawing, I finally said, “You realize that you’re not coming upstairs with me, right? You’d be riding in a taxi and saying goodbye and getting right back in another taxi?”

He said he understood.

So…off we went to my hotel. And…I don’t really know how I am able to be so ballsy sometimes and yet so scared of my own shadow at others…but… I said something along the lines of, “You’re the man — pay him…” and got out of the taxi when we arrived at my hotel.

But…as I was waiting for Wall-E in the lobby, I started thinking, “Sheesh. I really don’t want to have the, ‘No, you’re really not coming up to my room,’-conversation…” and I began dreading it more and more. But…after a few minutes, Wall-E still hadn’t appeared and so I popped outside to see what was going on and found he was arguing with the taxi driver.

And this is where we prove once and for all that I am a terrible person because the first thought that popped into my head was, “Now’s my chance!” and I took off my shoes and ran across the lobby as fast as I could and jumped into the elevator. And it wasn’t until I was actually safe in my room with the door locked behind me that I breathed a sigh of a relief and knew I had escaped him sans “No, you really can’t come up to my room”-conversation.

Later, I felt bad for ditching poor Wally — he really was a nice guy. So…I sent him a quick email to apologize…and he wrote back to say that it was okay, but he wished things had ended differently. So…I said, “Well, I’m not sure how things would have ended differently other than with a goodbye…”

BUT HERE’S THE CRAZY PART: he keeps writing. And I don’t know what to do with this. He’s nice and everything, but…the whole thing kind of freaks me out…probably more so because I will be back in Chicago on the 9th…and so in theory I could meet up with him again. And I totally wouldn’t do anything without K — she’d have to be in on this, too — but I’m torn. On the one hand, it would just be another Schlitz at Richard’s…and why not? But, on the other hand, yikes! Can I face him? Should I encourage this? I don’t know…

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Filed under beer, eggs

Magic Fruit and Poop Coffee

Alright, I will go on the record saying that I had no idea that my friend D went to such totally crazy food parties.

But, in the course of our 12-hour adventure yesterday, she told me about not one, but TWO things I must share IMMEDIATELY:

1. Magic Fruit. Apparently this is some kind of crazy thing you get on the Internet that you roll around on your tongue (the way she described it, it sounded kind of like acid…but she swore it’s just fruit)…and that makes sour things taste really sweet. (The story from the Times is over a year old, so, yes, I admit it — I am officially behind the times.) D said a friend had a party with this Magic Fruit and then they all gorged themselves on citrus fruits and salt and vinegar potato chips topped with hot sauce. She promises to throw her *own* Magic Fruit party soon…and I promise I will tell you all about it.

2. Poop Coffee. (Or, civet coffee.) This is apparently the coffee Jack Nicholson orders in The Bucket List and is really super-expensive…but the beans have the dubious distinction (I am pretty sure I ripped off that exact phrase from at least one story I read about the stuff) of being digested by a cat-like creature…that then, you know, poops…and somebody has to go out and collect it and dust it off and sell it for lots and lots of money. The whole digestive thing does something to the beans that makes the coffee really good, my friend said. So. Something else for the list, I guess…

Informal poll — which is worse? Poop Coffee? Or the Sourtoe cocktail?

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Filed under Alaska, coffee, parties

Cue the Lynyrd Skynyrd…

Boy, am I going to sound like a wet blanket, but…the job woes continue, etc., etc.

And…as noted in my previous post, I’ve been sad about The Bartender. So…I was talking to my oldest childhood friend and she reminded me that maybe the reason everything is so uncertain for us now is because of our Saturn Return. So, I mean, this is fantastic news. I can’t even tell you how comforting it is…especially since I can now start thinking about 30 as the end of chaos…rather than the beginning of the end.

Big J’s other revelation? Welll…I was *also* saying that I think maybe my love affair with New York is coming to an end (although, then again, something like the Michael Jackson birthday party comes along and reminds me why I fell in love with Brooklyn in the first place…)…and there are so many cities I’d love to try out before all is said and done: Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta, to name a few…and then I start looking for jobs in those places and then I end up with a totally overwhelming number of jobs to apply for and then I start thinking, “I don’t even know if I want any of these jobs!” and I don’t actually apply for anything and I get nowhere.

That is when Big J said (more or less), “You big dummy! You don’t just apply for anything! You look for the jobs you really *want* and *those* are the jobs that you apply for outside of New York!”

And of course she’s right!

So…I did just that on Friday…and came across a job in Alabama that sounds like it would be a really good fit — writing and editing stories about food, home and travel. I don’t actually know anyone in Alabama…and I’m not sure how I feel about starting all over *again*…but I spent four years in Mississippi and Georgia growing up…and was actually surprised by how nice it was to be in the South again when I went on the trip in the trailer with my mama in July…(see my post about that meal in Carlisle, Arkansas. Whoa.)

Plus, I’d be living on the coast…which is 1) super-beautiful (if memory serves)…and 2) only about five hours from Atlanta. So…I could get a car and visit some of my favorite people on the weekends…and I could finally get a Golden retriever. And imagine the kind of apartment I could have — I’m thinking washer/dryer *and* dishwasher. My heart be still…

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Filed under appliances, birthdays, frying, Mississippi

An Old Bar, A Misinterpreted Sign & Food That Makes Me Verklempt

I met The Bartender at the beginning of the year. And he was funny. And sweet. And he worked around the corner from my apartment — at the oldest bar in Brooklyn! — and so I started spending a lot of time there. And soon I found that he was also incredibly smart…and completely genuine. And before long, I adored him.

Thus began months of what was sometimes great and sometimes terrible…and always uncertain. No one believed it would work out — we had nothing in common…except maybe our childhoods. But I continued to believe that maybe he was the Steve to my Miranda (and I sort of cringe at applying a S&tC analogy, but it’s really the most apt comparison…)…because we were so good together…(when, you know, we actually were together). (And, hey — Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat sang about basically the same thing.)

But then he’d disappear on me…and I’d be sad…and I’d call virtually everyone I know and sniffle about how I’d never love again or I’d send marathon emails that generated standard girl responses like, “He doesn’t deserve you!” and I’d try to start to figure out how I was going to get all of this out of my system. And then he’d pop up again and I’d be so, so happy…because, despite all the loosey-goosiness, I was happier with him than I’ve been in a long time…and I honestly thought we had something — *especially* when it turned out that one my best friends was the reporter for the Spanish language newspaper who interviewed him for a story about a crime in his neighborhood on her first day on the beat. The odds were infinitesimal! It *had* to be a sign! (Not unlike my very first date with the Englishman I almost married…when he was trying to come up with conversation and mentioned that he’d seen a movie  on TV over the weekend that was set in America. As he described it, I said, “Oh my gosh! A Time to Kill? They filmed that when I lived in Mississippi!” Of all the movies in the world, it was *that* one. I felt like it couldn’t *not* be the universe telling me to pay attention. And pay attention I did…and, two years later, I almost married the guy.)

But, in the end, I guess it wasn’t a sign with The Bartender. He made one final, brief return…only to disappear for good.  And now it’s hard to walk by the oldest bar in Brooklyn and know he’s right there…and it doesn’t matter.

I can’t not think about him every time I hear something about the Jets. (Lord, give me strength as football season starts…) And, whoa-ho, I will associate him with the Rangers for the rest of my life — there’s just no way around that. And I don’t really care about hockey all that much (which maybe is a sign that we *weren’t* meant to be…), so part of me was tempted to become a huge Giants fan (a giant Giants fan?) out of football spite, but…1) I don’t feel all that spiteful about The Bartender; and 2) Mark Sanchez is such a cutie! (Even though he went to USC…)

There are a lot of things I miss about The Bartender. (I actually had a dream last night that he came back…so I woke up this morning more wistful than usual…) And, yes, this is supposed to be a food-ish blog…so, dear reader, I give you some of the more culinary things I miss about him:

I can’t start with anything other than the lemon sorbet…which still sits in my freezer…and makes me think about him every time I open the door. The man actually loves his sherbet…but I couldn’t remember which one was his favorite when I popped into the bodega after a long day of playing baccarat…and the only sherbet available there had some sort of ripple in it…which seemed weird…so I opted for zesty lemon sorbet instead. And he was such a good sport about eating the sorbet even though it was the wrong one. (And…a bright side, I guess: I was actually able to eat some of it the other night without becoming a huge, sloppy mess…so maybe I’ll finally be rid of it before too long.)

That same night, I also got carded when I tried to buy him Coors Light — his beer of choice when he was poor. (When he had a little extra money to throw around, he liked Harpoon IPA or Brooklyn Lager. And…the only beer I really liked at *his* bar was Blue Moon. I can’t even tell you how many Blue Moons I had on his dime.)

I think of him whenever I order food from SeamlessWeb. We ordered food from there so many times — especially when he was hurt and wasn’t super-mobile. Plus, he was SO excited when he realized he could order food from there when he was at home, too, and his takeout options expanded exponentially.

There’s also the Thai place on Smith Street where we had our first official date…after hanging out at the oldest bar in Brooklyn for SO LONG. And he really surprised me — he was a pretty adventurous eater…which I wasn’t expecting as he was SO, SO conservative in real life that I assumed, like my father, he’d be all about meat and potatoes. Yet the man loved Thai food. And sushi. And was willing to try almost anything.

But…don’t get me wrong — he still liked meat. He was preparing to leave my apartment one Sunday afternoon to get home in time to hit up the grocery store when he said, “Boy am I tired of rice and beans. That’s all I can really afford now…so that’s all I’ve been eating for weeks.” So…I said, “You know I can cook, right?” and he said, “You’d cook for me?” to which I enthusiastically replied, “Of course I’d cook for you!”

What did he want? Meat. So…since he had just recently told me how much he liked lamb chops, I said, “Do you want me to make you lamb chops?” but he wouldn’t let me do that because he said they were too expensive…and then he remembered the Conan O’Brien Irish Beef Stew Recipe Scandal and said, “Maybe stew?”

I agreed…but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed weird to make stew in the spring — it’s a fall/winter comfort food! I wanted something more appropriate for a season of sunshine and rebirth…so I asked around. Flank steak seemed to be a big favorite…and then a friend told me that she had been at a dinner party recently with an Asian-style flank steak…and I recalled that my mother used to make an Asian-style flank steak that I liked a lot. My mom served it with rice though…and I couldn’t serve the poor man rice again, so I had to find a different side dish…and I was throwing around ideas like cucumbers with wasabi and rice vinegar

All week, I was sending him messages that went unresponded…but it wasn’t unusual for him not to write me back right away. “How do you feel about Asian-style flank steak? Will you eat that? Or is it too weird?” “If I marinate it, will you BBQ it? I am scared of BBQing.” Etc. And…as I was filling in for my old job that week, I had tentatively planned my grocery runs in between filing stories. I knew wasabi powder was going to be a long-shot at my everyday grocery store…but I figured I’d give Trader Joe’s a shot. And, bar that, I was pretty sure there was a spot on Atlantic Avenue with spices that would do the trick. And…as I planned out all of these intricate details and got more and more excited about Saturday night, I got a single message from him: “I think I’m going down to the Shore this weekend. Sorry.”

And then he disappeared for awhile. Not such a happy memory of him.

I *do* have a happy memory of his 30th birthday…which is one of the times he reappeared again. We’d gotten into a big fight about a week before…and then he hurt his foot at work…and I got a message saying he was in the emergency room…and that was it. All of my Mother Hen instincts kicked in, but there was nothing I could do. And I love birthdays! And this was such a big one! I wanted to do all sorts of crazy big things to celebrate and show him how much I cared about him. But, since he was gone, I figured I had to make plans to get far away from my apartment, or I’d spend the whole day holed up and sad about it. One of my classmates was having an annual bonanza at a farm upstate, so I decided to rent a car and make a key lime cheesecake to escape the city for a bit (with the very same Spanish language newspaper reporter who would later interview the Birthday Boy). But, alas, there was a snafu at the rental car place and the alternate route was too complicated…so I ended up staying home with the cheesecake. And then — lo and behold — he showed up on my doorstep. And I got to celebrate his 30th birthday with him after all…and I was so happy to see him again…although it was kind of morbidly ironic because he had been freaked out about turning 30 and getting old…and he needed a cane to walk with his busted foot. And then I offered to turn the Farm Cheesecake into Birthday Cheesecake…and he confessed the only cheesecake he ever liked is the one his mom makes…and I got really nervous…but, as luck would have it, he freaked out about mine. And I think he had a really good birthday.

I also think of him when I think of $2 kids’ hot dogs at Citizens Bank Park and my “Keep Drinking Until You Look Like John McCain Or Feel Like Cindy”-cup…and, of course, Coffee Talk. He did a Linda Richman impression that slayed me.

So…Mike Myers is no Bartender, but…indulge me in one last nod: Coffee Talk with Linda Richman.

Now talk amongst yourselves.

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Filed under baseball, birthdays, Brooklyn, cheesecake, football, hot dogs, ice cream, Mississippi, Palin, UCLA

What do Hawaiian Tropic Zone and Switzerland Have in Common?

I’ve always associated Hawaiian Tropic Zone with bikinis and sexual harassment. (I was hoping to find a good story in the Post to prove my point, but instead of harassment per se, I pulled up this gem [still good, I think]: Uh, Ho! ‘Tropic Thunder’ War Over Nixed Bikini Gal. Also — journalists — I challenge you to craft a better lede: “Ho no, he didn’t!”)

So…I certainly never thought I’d actually dine at this establishment. And yet that is exactly what happened last week. I had to get out of my apartment (more on that later), but I also figured I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to see what this place is actually like. Plus, my friend E said they have “totally amazing and yummy pupu platters” and that since it’s the 50th anniversary of Hawaii, there was supposed to be some stuff going on in Times Square. And, you know, I lived in Alaska for a year. I’m down with the non-contiguous states…

So. Hawaiian Tropic Zone, ho. (Yes, that was intentional. Blame the Post.)

Before you are seated, you have to show a bikini-clad hostess your ID to get a purple wristband that says, “HTZ” and proves you are of legal age. Then, another lady in a bikini shows you to your table and yet *another* woman in a bikini asks for your drink order. E was excited about a specific brand of tequila — or maybe rum? But I think it was tequila… — and there was some sort of mojito spinoff that she wanted. Our other companions ordered beer…but beer sort of felt, you know, boring. I couldn’t decide among the $12 cocktails, however…so I took the easy way out and mimicked my friend and ordered the special tequila mojito spinoff.

And…since she said it would be plenty of food for us, we ordered the pupu platter (yes, yes…I know)…and it came out with an open flame in the middle over which you could further grill your kebabs. That was one thing that surprised me — there was a lot more food on sticks than I expected. (Although I guess maybe that’s par for the course with a pupu platter?) And it really wasn’t as gaudy as I had hoped/feared. There *was* a bikini pageant in the middle of our meal in which the waitresses announced their names and hometowns and paraded by one by one…so that was definitely a first…and maybe kind of cringe-worthy. But, overall, the whole thing wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I’m not sure if I’ll race back there again anytime soon…but, overall, I guess I left feeling neutral.

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Filed under Alaska, food on a stick

Fat Chicago

So…I am about to go to Denver for a friend’s wedding. And…when I was booking my ticket, I noticed that American Airlines routed me through Chicago on the way back. And it just so happens that one of my favorite people lives in Chicago…and the last time I saw her, she was getting married…so it didn’t really count as a Seeing K trip, you know? So…I asked if she minded if I stay with her for a few days on my way back to NY…et, voila.

Then — the power of social networking! — I saw on Facebook that my friend J had tried chocolate-covered bacon…and so I told *her* how exciting it was to hear as I had missed the chocolate-covered bacon at the Wisconsin State Fair…and she said she had it in Chicago! So! It appears I will have another shot at chocolate bacon!

I wasn’t sure how K would feel about the bacon as she seems like a woman of refined taste. But she didn’t flinch. In FACT, she pointed out that there is a brunch spot in Chicago where you can get a bacon martini…and that because there is so much fat and so many fat people in Chicago that we could do an entire fat-themed trip!

Which clearly is amazing.

Last year, an editor suggested I get the duck fat french fries at Hot Doug’s in Chicago (and I can’t not point out after linking to it that the Web site says it is “The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium”)…but, alas, Doug only serves those fries on weekends and so K and I were out of luck. I am going to miss them *again* on this trip (I guess me and duck fat aren’t meant to be…), but I am optimistic there’s plenty of other fat to choose from on weekdays. K even dug up this milk chocolate bacon bar at Vosges. It turns out this is *not* the same as the chocolate-covered bacon J referenced — she said she had it at the Intercontinental? But J *also* said she was going to recommend Vosges. So! Small world.

Do *you* have a tip about what to do on a fat-themed tour of Chicago? Tell me! Don’t be shy!

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The Year of Leggings Lives On…

I should be upfront about this: this is a cheap ploy to beef up my fashion-writing portfolio.

And it’s going to be hard to come up with a food tie so this isn’t *completely* inappropriate and I don’t severely disappoint my loyal readers…, but we’ll try this on for — ahem — size: it’s been a rough couple of months (as noted). And since, you know, I tend to…feed a feeling…I am probably fatter than I have ever been. So…there we go: food.

Now the clothes:

Last year when I was in a similar funk, I declared 2008 the Year of Leggings. But I was nervous I was not the leggings type…as I really had not worn them since I was a skinny Minnie in elementary school…and so I bought a single pair at the Gap to see how I’d do. And then it turned out that I had actually stumbled upon the single greatest pair of leggings in the universe and I totally and completely fell in love with them.

These leggings were SO AMAZING for two reasons: 1) they were the perfect length! They fell sort of just below the knee without any clumping of excess material on the way down. (Women stopped me on the street to ask me where I got them — *that* is how absolutely perfect the length was…) And 2) the material was ideal — 93% cotton, 7% spandex. It was thin enough to breathe…but not transparent. And so…even if the long dress I wore over them was not enough to totally cover my (ever-increasing) behind, I didn’t have to worry about being rude and constantly readjusting myself to prevent the unthinkable. The leggings would protect me!

However — alas! — when I went *back* to the Gap to buy as many pairs as I could scoop up, I could not find them again. (Although I just looked on the Web site and I think I found them…which sort of negates this entire post. Except — WAIT! — the only size in stock is XXL…which means I was right and the post lives!)

And so my one pair got a lot of use. And when I got a hole in one leg, I actually got out a needle and thread and sewed it up. (Me! Sewing!) And then the hole got worse…but luckily I was at home by then and my mother had a sewing machine. But…eventually they were looking pretty sad. And I still wore them…I just had to be more careful with what I wore over them.

Eventually I started looking further afield for a new pair…and I bought one at Express…but they were totally transparent — more like pantyhose…and they quickly developed a run. No good.

Was it finally curtains for me and leggings?

I was beginning to think yes…but then last weekend, I was wandering around the city and saw that Express was having a sale and so I went back inside to see if I could find a pair of non-transparent leggings…and — holy cow — I did! I was a little worried they would be too thick…and they are not *quite* the perfect length — there is definitely some bagging around the knees…but they are super-comfy and you can’t see through them, so I am a happy camper. The Year of Leggings lives on!

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