Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bits & Pieces Around the House

Life has been pretty calm around here, and I am not complaining. We had such a busy summer, with lots of traveling and socializing around Chicago, so I've welcomed the slower pace that came with the changing of seasons. Also, starting a new position at work a couple weeks ago has me working more "retail hours", which means fewer free weekends for hanging out with friends. I've been embracing this cozy time around the house, since i know in a few weeks it will officially be holiday season, with all the craziness that that entails. 

The condo is looking slightly festive these days.

I finally found an R at Anthropologie (they're always sold out!),
and I added it to our slowly growing gallery wall.

On a recent Sunday when we were both off work,
this guy worked some serious magic in the kitchen.
I LOVE sitting back and letting him take over!

Joe chose a french menu for the dinner, and made these pork and sage
stuffed veal rolls. So fancy, and delicious, too!

Cozy fall dinner.

I've been busy in the kitchen, too!
Just playing with my mini blowtorch, no biggie.

Nutella Creme Brulee.
(Need I say more?)

I hope your fall has been cozy and calm. Here's to a little more quiet time before the busy holiday season begins!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NYC: {What We Ate}

As on any vacation, eating was a big focus on our trip to NYC. We didn't even come close to eating everything I wanted to try (no Shake Shack! no Eataly!), so we'll just have to get back soon for more of the good stuff. Here's a few of the highlights, which I've been dreaming about for the last month...

We ended up getting bagels from Bagel Express on 25th and 3rd
three of the four mornings we were there. Yeah, I guess we liked them...
This one was my favorite. Salt bagel with cream cheese and lox.
Always best with a mimosa, of course.

A late night feast at 2nd Avenue Deli.

We had dinner Saturday night at Casa Mono, and it was pretty delicious!
The razor clams and pumpkin and goad cheese croquettes were my favorites.

Breakfast at Union Square Farmer's Market

A feast for dinner at Madison Square Eats.
It was a low key gourmet version of Taste of Chicago.
There were too many amazing sounding things to try!

And the best meal of the trip? It was obviously our lunch at Jean-Georges.
Joe's foie gras appetizer and my flounder and spaghetti squash entree were the standouts, but everything was amazing.
What a fun and memorable meal!

So what do you think? I feel like we made a good effort giving the limited amount of time we had. This 'taste' of the city has me hungry for more :)  Next time, NYC, we'll be back to eat even more!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NYC: {Days 3 & 4}

*Holy cow! Where has the time gone?! I started this post on 10/9, and now a week later I'm finally wrapping it up. Yikes! Life is good these days, but pretty darn busy. I started my new position at work on Monday, so the busy schedule will continue, but it's a good kind of busy. Ok, back to the NYC recap*

The adventure continued on Monday, when the real world went back to work and we kept right on exploring. Our first goal was to wander down to SoHo, where I was determined to do some window shopping on cute cobblestone streets. On the way there, we stumbled across the Union Square Farmer's Market, just in time for breakfast! It was charming, and since it was a weekday it wasn't too crowded at all. The stands were brimming with early fall produce, and we couldn't resist a couple focaccia style breads for breakfast. It was so fun to just stumble across this-- I love traveling and just kind of seeing where we end up!

From the market we headed through Washington Square Park, and on into SoHo. Most of the shops were too posh for our budget, but it was a fun area to wander through. It was a very different side of New York than we'd see the first two days. I loved how this city really had so many distinct neighborhoods.

After SoHo, we hopped on the train and headed uptown to Columbus Circle. We had big plans for lunch... the one and only Jean-Georges. It is a critically acclaimed French restaurant that has three Michelin Stars, and they have a fantastic lunch deal during the week. Our initial plan was to go to Eataly, but we decided to splurge on this NYC landmark for a special treat. I'm going to do a separate post all about the delicious food we ate on the trip, so stay tuned for that...

We spent the afternoon wandering through more of Central Park, with a quick visit into the Plaza Hotel. We wandered through the fancy food hall in the basement, and I had to take a minute to pay homage to a childhood hero!

We did some more wandering through the park, over to Lincoln Center and the Upper West Side. I was charmed by that neighborhood, for sure! After a pit stop for some happy hour drinks, we went back south to Times Square, and met our friends for Newsies. It was always one of my favorite movies growing up, and I couldn't resist the chance to see it live! I was a little disappointed that they changed some of the songs and the plot points, but overall I still loved it. We don't see live theatre or musicals often at all, and I'm always in awe of the talented dancers and singers, and the way the set design can transport you to a new place. The talent in this show was pretty impressive!  We capped off the night with some amazing late night food at the famous 2nd Avenue Deli, and I was reminded that I need to incorporate pastrami into my life far more often.  

Lincoln Center

I had a spinach knish, and was pretty much in Jewish Deli heaven.

Tuesday was our last day, and we had some time to wander in the morning before our flight back to Chicago. Since we needed to check out of our apartment, and the train to JFK went through lower Manhattan, we decided to wrap up our stay with some time at the bottom of the island. After ditching our bags at a friend's office, we went past the Stock Exchange and headed down to Battery Park. There was one last indulgence on vacation cupcakes while people watching, and a few pictures in front of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. If we have more time on another trip, I'd love to take a boat ride or go visit Ellis Island. This time around we just admired from a distance, and soaked up the beautiful early fall weather. 

NYSE all dressed up

We walked past Joe's office, so I had to document it.
I felt like a parent taking a kids picture on the first day of school!
Fact: Joe is a good sport.

An out of control salted caramel chocolate cupcake from Crumb.
It almost killed me.

Freedom Tower
A somber sight, but this is going to be a beautiful building,
with a moving memorial in the shadows.
 We had just enough time to cap off the trip with a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. A classic New York experience, and especially enjoyable on such a beautiful day. We were sad to say goodbye to the city, but we both know we'll be back, hopefully soon. It was a wonderful four days of eating, drinking, walking, sightseeing, catching up with friends, and just enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city. Thanks NYC, and Danielle, for a memorable visit. See you soon!

Monday, October 1, 2012

NYC: {Days 1 & 2}

Like I said before, we went allllll up and down the island of Manhattan on our NYC vacation. We even ventured into Brooklyn. It was a busy four days, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say we walked for 5+ miles on a couple of those days. It helped burn off a few of the excessive calories we were consuming at every meal! 

I just have too many pictures I want to share. It's dangerous having my nice new camera! I should do some collages or the like, but I don't want to. I want to just soak up all these pictures on their own, and make this a long ass post full of pictures. Sorry to any of you reading this on your smart phone... I know the pictures can get annoying. But it's my blog, so I'll be annoying if I want to ;)

Saturday started with a long walk from Murry Hill up to Central Park. We took a scenic walk uptown, enjoying the sights along the way. Our friends were great tour guides, stopping along the way to point out important neighborhoods or landmarks. We stopped for a required picture in Times Square, and it is as horrible a place as you'd imagine. Reminded me a lot of Navy Pier in Chicago... you have to visit sometime, but you shouldn't make it a habit. Then we continued on North, visiting the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle (my store's biggest competition), and then landing in the one and only Central Park.

We walked through the south end of Central Park, and ended up over by the Met. This seemed like a legit place to visit, so we headed on in. We only had an hour or so to spend there, so we oped to pay only part of the usual $25 donation to get in, and we spent most of that time visiting the Andy Warhol exhibit. It was interesting, and we saw some interesting art in the museum, but I'd be willing to say that the Art Institute in Chicago gives it a run for the money. The best part, for sure, was the rooftop patio. What beautiful views of Central Park and the Upper East Side!

Day two involved less walking, and maybe more drinking. We started at Danielle's for a delicious brunch, with lots of mimosas. It was nice to just relax with our friends for a bit, before another busy day of wandering New York.

Hostest with the Mostest!

After brunch, we jumped in a cab (ok, actually we ordered a towncar... so fancy, right? Thanks Daniel!), and we headed to Brooklyn. We had the hookup at Brooklyn Brewery, thanks to a connection at work, and enjoyed free beer, a tour of the brewery, and some sweet t-shirts on the house. I like hookups, and Brooklyn makes some pretty tasty beer!

I was reunited with my Chicago friend Stacy! She's living in New York now,
and it was great to catch up with her. We always end up having a good time together!

A couple people wandered off and asked us to hold their drinks.
Daniel and I felt quite powerful in this situation.

After the brewery, we took the train to Cobble Hill, a cute Brooklyn neighborhood. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time, but we stopped long enough to enjoy a cocktail and some live music at Bar Tabac. I could tell it was a great area to hang out in, but it was later on a Sunday evening, so a lot of shops were closed. Plus, we had plans to meet friends back in Midtown, so we finished our drinks and zipped back to meet up.

The first two days were quite a success, full of more adventures than I could even capture here! We got some necessary sightseeing out of the way (Times Square-- no bueno), and soaked up the vibes of both Brooklyn and the Upper West Side. We were charmed, for sure, and went to bed Sunday feeling grateful that we still had a couple more days of exploring to do.

To Be Continued...