My family & I went with an old friend of mine to Saints vs. Seahawks today. Local fans were crawling all over the lobby of The Roosevelt beforehand.
We brunched at Mr. B’s Bistro before walking over to the Superdome.
Then, we hauled it back to Baton Rouge for Sammy’s shrimp poboys and a new discovery: their fried pickles.
Sorry for such long delays, dear readers. Turns out, this new thing I’m doing takes up a whole lotta daytime hours. I have high hopes to get all caught up…I still take pictures everyday.
So. Where were we? Oh, yes, NYC.
Then, we 3 walked through the Lower East Side to the East Village to SoHo to the West Village & Greenwich over to the High Line before heading back to the apartment. I think we clocked somewhere around five miles in the sunshine and 70 degrees.
Oh, and we saw puppies in Greenwich Village. Always a bonus.
For a brief hour there as we were thwarted through bridge closures and rough traffic, it nearly appeared we’d become overnight refugees in the city. But, we made it to JFK just in time for sunset and our departure home to Seattle.
Patriotism in the L.E.S.
Amelia & Leit met me in Chelsea for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. Once upon a time, I traveled with Amelia to Uruguay after meeting up in Buenos Aires. It was good to catch up with all that’s happened since — back then, she’d only just met the person who later became her husband!
How many smurfs had to die so I could wear this blue hat at C21? Photo by Kate
Next, I tracked down Kate & Colleague at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. They were spending time shopping ’til their flights mid-afternoon, so I joined them. I have to say, nothing restores your faith in America & capitalism quite like seeing what goes in there, across the street from the WTC site.
We trekked over to Soho & the L.E.S., ending up at Russ & Daughters, masters of salmon, and a few shops down — Yonah Shimmel, purveyor of knish. Russ & Daughter’s pastrami smoked salmon on a flagel with the works was not unlike a religious experience for me. This shiksa was in love.
Time had slipped away from us & my two companions now needed to get on the road. I was sad to say good-bye and joked that if something happened to their travel plans, we have a couch!
Now solo, I decided it was time to get some culcha at the Tenement Musuem, but I was gonna incorporate this with finishing an L.E.S. food tour I found on Chow.com (I’d already covered Yonah and Russ & D). I went off official itinerary quickly, as the first thing I found was the Doughnut Plant — long ago recommended by Frank. I bought goodies for later, where I’d decide these are THE BEST ANYWHERE. A sample of flavors:
Next stop: Kossar’s Bialys. I still prefer bagels, but I wanted to get these at the source to judge my opinion. As I was exiting, I turned to see: The Pickle Guys. Now those who really know my food preferences (hi, Mom!) know that at this point, I probably heard angels singing. I might have a bit of a problem but it started way back in preschool. I love them. I buy a lot of pickles, like most foodies buy kinds of mustard. But it usually feels like every week, the recycling bin gets fresh empty jars from me, so it’s not like I save the good ones for someday. Part of a healthy diet, at only 5 calories each! Let’s not talk about the sodium. Who cares about sodium when all those other grams and food stats are hard enough to keep track of??? Anyhow, I selected a representative sampling of their offerings, and they totally threw in more for free.
Ok, back on track. I reached the Tenement Museum and realized they were going to require a few hours of my time for the official tour. I decided…next time, and started walking north with a vague idea of catching the subway or preferably, a cab, to the MOMA. Before that, I wanted to try a chocolate egg cream and went in this little recommended place. It was weird, but hey, I’d just had pickles.
And so I kept moving up 2nd, hoping for a cab but we’d entered that Friday afternoon hour in NYC where none of those cabbies would pull over and if they did, shook their heads when I said, “55th?” Exhausted, I continued to Union Square to catch a train to MOMA. I made it, but a glance into the museum confirmed today was not my museum day. I was tuckered out and knew I’d just hate humanity if I battled the crowds. Plus I had reservations at Sushi Gari in only 2 hours (recommended by Kate after her Wednesday dinner), so maybe heading home was my best bet.
When I consulted my phone to recalculate directions, I realized there was a missed call while I was in the subway! The Delta agents at JFK were complete asshats to Kate and wouldn’t let her get on a flight. At JFK, it turns out, you must check in your bags at 60 minutes and she was at 56, after battling traffic all across NYC. Time for a houseguest!!! I know she was frustrated to not get on that flight, but I was so excited we had her with us for one more day. The only issue was getting her a key — but Mr. T went to our building security, added her to our account, and got her clearance as she made her way back to Manhattan. We raced north to our reservations at Sushi of Gari 46.
So: I shy away from declaring a place the best, because things change so quickly and can be so dependent on the chef, but Sushi of Gari 46 is the best sushi I have ever had in my life! We sat at the bar for omakase and I took notes. 21 rounds of notes. I knew 2 rounds in that this was the pinnacle, and brushed aside any notions of moderation. The cost of abandoning moderation was high, but you only live once. P.S. Mr. T told the chef “uncle” a couple of rounds before me. My DimSumCouver training was coming in handy!
Afterward, we met with Kate and took her to one of our favorite finds from before her arrival: The Breslin at The Ace Hotel, mentioned last week. This would put us all in the right frame of mind to polish off the doughnuts found at the Plant earlier today.
Today was very New Yorkish. I:
-got caught up in Veteran’s parade-watching crowds
-had lunch with a good friend, a native New Yorker who’s returned since finishing her grad school at UW
-walked through Central Park to take in the foliage
-took the train up to the Bronx, where I got lost after taking the wrong exit to get to The Cloisters
-took an impromptu walking tour of Washington Heights
-wandered the grounds of Fort Tryon Park, the Heather Garden & The Cloisters
-found the unicorn that was missing, maybe?
-had dinner of remarkable black garlic ramen at Hide Chen
-visited Kate in her fancy Scandinavian-themed place near the north-eastern edges of midtown
-walked all the way home via 5th Avenue to Flatiron/Chelsea
I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to talk Mr. T into catching any Broadway shows, so I decided early to plan to hit a matinee midweek. Today, I saw Elling. Turns out, it was all Hollywood: Brendan Fraser, Denis O’Hare, and Jennifer Cooper (‘memba her from Legally Blonde? Or Best In Show?). It was a pleasant mid-afternoon diversion, though I discovered later why the storyline seemed familiar when Mr. T reminded me we’d watched the Norwegian film years ago. P.S. I relearned during intermission Fraser attended Cornish back in the day. Go Seattle!
When the play let out, I walked for a while to The High Line which is getting tons of well-deserved 2010 press. I later learned those who did the High Line won the bid for Seattle’s waterfront. I’m taking this as spectacular news.
I watched the sun set over Jersey. And plotted for dinner late that evening at Artichoke Basille, another NY pizza place.
Post-dinner, Kate & Colleague were available to join us at Death & Company where the drinks were divine.
Encouraged by a friend‘s good experience at Eleven Madison Park on Monday, I followed suit today. Everything about the three-hour experience was on point. One can select either four or five ingredients from the menu — I chose four. Four courses turned into more and I wished I’d remembered the advice to forgo breakfast. Thank goodness my friend takes marvelous pictures and catalogs them so well — I was able to gather images of the dishes we had in common into a gallery that you can view on Flickr here. If you want to see more of his work, he’s got a great FoodPr0n 2010 set, amongst others.
As I was bursting at the seams and more full than I could ever remember, I laced up my running shoes and hit the road for a bit. Six miles to be exact. I charted a course from Chelsea to the South Street Seaport’s TKTS booth where I could pick up a solo ticket to a Wednesday Broadway matinee. I didn’t time the run so well. By the time I reached lower Manhattan, I felt like a salmon running upstream against all the bankers after the closing bell. At the ticket booth, I settled on a show called Elling. The seller told me these were my best choice — a single seat at only 8 rows back from stage. I also liked that the story was set in Norway, where one side of Mr. T’s family originated.
I ran back & got ready for dinner with Mr. T at Rye House. I’d found my selection based on a sandwich guide I’d read before I’d even gone to lunch today — the Pittsburgh. When it arrived on my plate, I realized what I’d gotten myself into: andouille sausage on rye with coleslaw and french fries INSIDE the sandwich. I took a picture to submit to “This is Why You’re Fat.” It was delicious & too much after the lunch I’d had, but I squirreled most away for a Wednesday morning brekkie. We also checked out some of their other Rye offerings.
Then, my friend Kate arrived in town with her colleagues! We met up with them at an izakaya called Sake Bar Hagi near Times Square. I had zero interest in eating, but from what I saw, it’s a place I’d recommend and return to on future visits.
I ended up working so much today that I didn’t eat until 3PM. What? Fortunately, our apartment was a few blocks west of the over-publicized Shake Shack. As a Burger of the Month Club devotay, I had to check it out. I ordered a regular cheeseburger, and picked up a Pumpkin Concrete for Mr. T. It was basically pumpkin pie mixed up with ice cream. Burger was very good. To reward my diligent work, I also picked up a Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate thing they had going on. Then, I worked some more.
Once Mr. T finished with his work, we decided to check out a local pizza place, recommended by a New Yorker friend as a solid neighborhood chain. We ordered pizza with pepperoni and their Insalata Siciliana. I don’t think Mr. T was as impressed with it as I was, but I liked how much I felt like we were off the beaten traveler path…almost the opposite of exotic: comfortable.
Then we walked home through Chelsea.
Essentially, we began our day by walking to the Bowery for DBGB Kitchen and Bar. For all my plans of having brunch, I went with a fancy hot dog called the DGBG Dog (from their sausage menu). I dunno, it just felt right. The sausage was made at DBGB and came with their “299” relish. Good. It even showed up on a porcelain hot dog tray. Mr. T went a traditional route with Oeuf Forestiere — “two eggs “en cocotte” with wild mushrooms, gruyere & fines herbes.”
We walked a few miles back to our place, pausing briefly before walking north through Times Square to spectate at the NYC Marathon finish line.
Being in Central Park had us in the right location to check out H&H, a NYC institution of the kind Mr. T missed on prior visits: bagels in situ. Total honesty here — between the indifferent staff and an average-tasting bagel, they didn’t seem to have much worth writing home about. It was much like our underwhelming pizza experience here in 2005. It just didn’t happen. I preferred comparing & contrasting potato vs. sweet potato knish at Zabar’s more. (Fortunately, better bagels appeared later in the week.)
We kept walking to regain some sort of appetite before walking MORE to Locanda Verde, in Tribeca. And at this point, I’ll yield on commentary to point you in the direction of the blog post written by my friend, The Gastrognome, who recommended LV to us. We really enjoyed it, as she did.
Then, we cabbed it home. I say we deserved that after logging over 10 miles for the day.
Mr. T & I flew to NYC this morning, landing mid-day. First stop: the massive & impressive new Eataly, Batali’s new Italian food emporium. It was only two blocks from our place in Chelsea and held us over for a few hours.
For dinner, we visited The Breslin, a new establishment next to the Ace Hotel & Stumptown Coffee. (Pacific Northwest REPRESENT!) We were drawn in by the spectacular Garden Tonic, but that Lamb Burger is worth making room & time for in any visit to the city. Our window seat had a view of the Empire State Building, from the south side. The Breslin’s on West 29th, not far from Broadway.
We took the super long way home, heading north by 20 blocks to see what Times Square is up to these days.
I’ve been to San Francisco several times, but somehow Alcatraz never worked into my plans. Today, I changed that by visiting with another friend who’s lived in Berkeley for 3 years but never made it herself. It was a a classically foggy San Francisco Day.
A set, here:
Afterward, D headed home & I met up with Kate at Rickhouse, an exceptional cocktail place near Union Square.
We followed that with Smuggler’s Cove, a rum tiki bar (in honor of Rocky) where we synced up with Mr. T before running to our Cafe Zuni reservations. Roasted chicken with bread salad: WORTH THE HYPE. And the 45 minute minimum wait. Note: I tried calling ahead to order this, but they were no go on this. You must be seated to order. There were a few service delays and it was hard to wrangle our check.
This delay became an annoyance only because we arrived late at our next destination: Bourbon & Branch. 8 minutes and we heard about it from the front door man. Well, okay, our bad. Otherwise, service at the bar was also top-notch. And now I know why the Tenderloin district has its reputation, so that was educational.
It was a long way back to Silicon Valley.
Mr. T & I arrived in San Francisco mid-afternoon today. We dropped our bags off at the Hotel Vitale, then hiked up to North Beach/Nob Hill for a midday repast at The Comstock Saloon. It was a strange hour to be there, but seemed pretty full so we grabbed a seat at the Victorian Bar. I ordered the Barkeep’s Whimsy — something akin to a Sazerac — while he ordered the Martinez. Spectacular. Then, some other patrons vacated a booth, so we moved into their place before ordering the Little Gems Salad & Fried Tater Boats with Cheese Curds & Gravy. Ying & Yang! Delicious, is what it was.
We wandered back to our hotel to discover our room was ready with a fabulous view of the Ferry Building (pictured above). I marvelled at the mini-bar, with its odd assortment of snacks and my own personal oxygen canister. (What.) I still kinda wish I’d checked out the oxygen, but couldn’t get over the feeling I was being put on. It was $15 a hit; $65 to take the canister home with me.
We laid low ’til dinnertime, where we had reservations to Prospect, thanks to Rocky. Dinner was early-ish at 6:30. It was so filling despite deceptive small portions, we were done with any notion of food exploration & retired to our fancy hotel for the rest of the evening. This is my 3rd trip in a row to San Francisco, where there’s been a meal that kills my appetite DEAD. The cocktail, quail & JB’s French Toast were worth it & unlike my Town Hall experience of ’09, I was fine by morning.
A few weeks ago, I found myself wanting to dig up the NOAA warning from 5 years ago today. I still recall how much it scared me & how unfortunately right those fears turned out to be. I remember being up late in the night of the 28th — maybe ’til 3 AM on this night five years ago, until I forced myself to leave the TV, watching CNN and waiting for Katrina to make landfall. I copied out the weather service warning, and apparently I wrote extra notes, remembering another time.
Thirteen years ago last week: we left Baton Rouge for New Orleans during Hurricane Andrew. Going 50 minutes southeast was supposed to help and Dad, having been recently diagnosed with his brain tumor, had the rights and coverage for us to stay in the hotel adjoining the hospital where he had his radiation treatments. I remember we came back once Andrew passed, but we came back to a beat up city, power lines down, roofs gone, electricity out, & school canceled. Forty trees lost in our backyard! Electricity out for at least a week. Miserable in August–my long hair wasn’t dry for days. It was that muggy. I remember losing it with the Entergy repairmen, yelling at them for taking so long, letting us go without relief. We seemed to be the last in the city to get power restored. I wonder what they must have thought of this crazed 16 year old girl on a rampage. (In my defense, my Dad was dying.) A part of me is mortified, a part of me laughs.
I remember that rage at feeling like we were forgotten.
What if this storm kills Louisiana?
I can’t fall asleep while I go relive this childhood anxiety I had that preceded all hurricanes that came into the gulf. Evacuating was never a thing we needed to do. Wouldn’t it feel silly if the storm turned? Wouldn’t it be a waste? I remember the waiting, the watching, and waiting some more for the power to go out, the power going out on its own schedule regardless of wind, the power coming back on either early or late into the wait. You never could tell. Passing time talking to neighbors. Getting the radios ready, flashlights placed all over. Candles. Watching the sky, watching those low, strong clouds roll in. The Prejeans next door drinking through the storm. Hurricane parties were a thing. Are they a thing right now?
I called my mom earlier though I haven’t seen anything ominous about East BR Parish.
What to do. What to do. I can’t get over the “WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.”
URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005
…DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…
.HURRICANE KATRINA…A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.
AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.
ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET…DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE!
Camille crushed the area 40 years ago. Will Katrina be the same?
Images in the editorial feed are not alleviating these fears.
over Sara’s island
A long layover gave us just enough time for dinner in Manhattan. We scored the last walk-in table at Babbo (with plenty of backup options thanks to friends’ suggestions). Amazing braised oxtail gnocchi, black spaghetti with rock shrimp & spicy salami Calabrese, bufa di mozzarella, a special season item of contorni of ramps, grilled octopus with limoncello vinaigrette: fantastic meal. We wrapped it up with chocolate hazelnut cake with orange sauce and hazelnut gelato. The perfect way to ensure 7 hours of hibernation. I noticed Seattle’s Salumi on the menu as well.
Once finished, we wandered back to JFK via the convenient West 4th stop nearby.
I really really love NY.
To borrow from notmartha:
Things I Learned the Hard Way
AirTrain’s great for quick transit from JFK, but watch out for the subway connections. We hit a snag trying to catch the E from Jamaica Station, which was closed for the weekend. Better to have taken the LIRR and transfer again at Penn Station, rather than ended up on the slow NYC bus “shuttle” through neighborhoods of Queens.
Tomorrow night, I fly back to Seattle. Today, I reconnected with two old friends. One, I hadn’t seen in 15 years since I moved to Provo, UT. C & I met in the afternoon. The other I’d seen sooner, maybe 7 years ago. I spent Saturday evening with Jean and her friends. Both have so much meaning in my past, I could tell stories for hours. I didn’t take their pictures though. Maybe next time. It didn’t feel necessary in the moment; I’m not sure why.
Before I saw them, we started the day at Another Broken Egg. This is the 2nd outpost of a place east of Baton Rouge, in Mandeville. My mom’s talked up this place for the last year and now I know why. The Redfish Benedict is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in Baton Rouge; maybe one of the best things I’ve eaten for breakfast. The dish incorporated pan-seared redfish on french toast, with two poached eggs covered in andouille hollandaise sauce. I hesitated on ordering — wasn’t I trying to avoid heavy sauces after a Summer of gastronomic excess?
Well, after consulting with the waiter and even considering their Crabcakes Cavallo, I went for the redfish over the crab (seemingly similar, but replace the redfish with shrimp and crab cakes). It’s one of the most rewarding decisions I made all trip. This is another place I’m taking Mr. T the next time we visit. Address info at the bottom of this entry.
Then I was at the Capitol again while my mom had really, truly, finally tied up all the loose ends. I spent some time wandering the halls at the Capitol, taking pictures of the art deco lanterns in the Senate, House, and back hallways.
In the evening with Jean, we helped her friends organize their grandmother’s recipes to make a cookbook for Christmas. Since I love vintage, community-driven cookbooks like a fat kid loves cake (& uh, me too!), I was thrilled to participate. We deciphered the recipes — many didn’t have titles. We sorted. And finally, we designed layouts to preserve recipe scraps and the handwriting. I hope I see the final product someday, in some form.
Today was my mom’s last official day of work, ever. Before I went to visit pick her up at the end of the day, I went to lunch at Roberto’s River Road which is surprise! on River Road, along the Mississippi, southeast of Baton Rouge. It’s officially in St. Gabriel, but Sunshine and Plaquemine both seem to like to make claim on it.
I had stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon, deep-fried. It was awesome, but what caught my attention was the side of corn. I’m recreating that at home. Also, I finally had “Sensation Salad.” I say finally as I’ve since learned that it’s a Baton Rouge classic but you could’ve fooled me as I never heard of it. (A twist on a Caesar. I’d share a pic, but it ain’t purdy.) I’m bringing Mr. T back at
Christmas the holidays. I’ve already got a few dishes lined up. They’re open for lunchtime and dinnertime, but closed every Sunday and Monday.
I went back downtown. While I waited for my mom again, I walked around some more. The capitol guards struck up conversations about digital cameras. I was impressed how they seemed to know more about my camera than I did.
Washington’s step at the capitol
Then I found Strands CafÃ©, thanks to a tip from Eliza. I ordered a prosciutto & provolone croissant, a chocolate croissant, and a lemon meringue tart to try over the weekend. (All were classically great.) I ordered an Iced Orinoco Mocha for the moment. Strands is a gem, a coffeeshop with great pastries and exquisite chocolates. I got to talking with the owner as they were winding down. She grew up in Baton Rouge, graduated from my high school, moved away, spent time at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, and came back last year to open her place. If I lived here, I’d visit all the time.
Once my mom was ready, we headed home to get ready for her final dinner with her colleagues. We went to a hibachi grill (akin to Benihana) and I gotta say, I had a great time.
Sidebar: I kept hearing radio commercials for this haunted house and saw it on our way. I wish it fit into my schedule this trip.
(I kept the underexposed image for the creepier effect.)
It was my favorite kind of flight: uneventful. I worried heading to the airport since I couldn’t figure out which airline would actually be my carrier. The Alaska/NWA/Delta info was ambiguous. I couldn’t get pre-assigned seats. Turned out flights weren’t full and I scored aisles and half empty rows.