Monday, July 30, 2012

philly from a double-decker bus

One of the many things that makes my little sister adorable is that she thinks we both love to travel. We do, just in different ways. A few weeks ago, she wanted to spend a few hours introducing Rocio the historically-significant city of Philadelphia by... taking a bus tour. Though not really my thing, it was cool to get a different perspective of the city as opposed to those from my previous strolls.
(We de-boarded near Rittenhouse Square to lunch at Devon Seafood Grill.)
Yet for as completely unique as her and I are, we're also very much the same. I miss her so much now that she's in a small beach city near Alicante! She may only be in Spain for 26 days at this point, but I leave a mere 36 hours after she comes back to the United States; obviously I cried following our goodbye last week. Thank goodness for Skype.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

dining in

In a final attempt to save more money (since I leave for Reykjavík and then Paris in less than a month, eek!), I've decided to skip this summer's Restaurant Week. It saddens me a little because I love dining out and affordable gourmet meals... but mostly I just feel oh-so-proud of my financially responsible self. Plus, my friends and I have found a fabulous alternative: dining in. Revolutionary, I know.
[aperitif: cucumber-infused vodka, club soda, bitters, ginger syrup]
[appetizers: olives, pancetta bread, dinner ingredient-play as we prepped...]
[dinner: Stone Barns sourdough bread, arugula salad with fennel and apple, fresh pasta with roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, and shredded parmesan]
[dessert: cupcakes(clockwise from top) carrot cake, tiramisu, red velvet]
Following our delicious meal, complete with wine and the Olympics, we primped a bit and headed out to our favorite neighborhood bar. And wouldn't you know, the entire experience felt very "French" to me.  Four years ago, during my second visit, I went out three times with Marie and her friends. Each evening progressed the same: meet at an apartment, cook dinner together, leisurely enjoy the meal, venture to a bar for a final drink or two, bid adieu, go home, sleep soundly. According to her, this fun, economical ritual was how they usually socialized. Here's to hoping it rings true in my own experience as a student in Paris!

Friday, July 27, 2012

the bubble lounge

With refined tastes and a modest income, my classiest experiences either happen by serendipitous chance or by well-thought-out deal planning. Last night's was courtesy of the latter. Elaine and I met at The Bubble Lounge for a Champagne Toast for Two: two flights of champagne (three pours) and one cheese plate to share. It was spectacular; not since I was actually in Champagne have I delighted in such high-quality bubbly, both cheeses were divine, and the impressive service was anything but Tribeca-pretentious. Gosh do I love Gilt City.
Enjoying refuge from the incredible summer storm, we took our time savor the ambiance and decided to order another small plate to simulate more of a complete dinner. Behold, out-of-this-world "sweet garlic stuffed duck meatballs served in a demi-glace sauce with fig purée and sriracha chili":
The evening continued, as they do whenever we're together, and we ventured to Jimmy, a sophisticated rooftop bar atop the James Hotel featuring overpriced cocktails and wealthy businessmen. We didn't last long. Escaping to Toad Hall next, we eventually enjoyed a nightcap beer and a literal game of telephone. 'Twas a great night.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

favorite holidays for foodies

Yesterday, at 5:30pm, my mom and I celebrated National Tequila Day with a cocktail inspired by these Pink Margarita Slushies. We blended chunks of watermelon with a few shots of my dad's tequila, Skinnygirl Margarita (which I loved, despite my aversion to the brand), and lime. Delish!
Curious about other food-focused American holidays, I then used The Nibble to find more favorites. I fully plan on recognizing them all no matter where I am :). 
  • January 20: National Coffee Break Day
  • February 5: World Nutella Day
  • March 18: Oatmeal Cookie Day
  • April 12: Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
  • May 25: National Wine Day
  • June 10: National Iced Tea Day
  • July: National Ice Cream Month
  • August 22: Eat-a-Peach Day
  • September 26: National Pancake Day
  • October 28: National Chocolate Day
  • November 14: National Guacamole Day
  • December 31: National Champagne Day {cheers!}
P.S. Eating nutrient-rich vegetables is a daily celebration. Obviously.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

lessons from long pond

It's almost funny that last year, when I first experienced Long Pond, I needed the weekend getaway. This time around was no different. As I alluded to earlier, there's some family stuff to deal with; in addition to expected pressure of the Parisian countdown--pressure to enjoy everyone and everything while also working incredibly hard to save as much money as possible. I needed to take a deep breath, preferably in nature, and just be in the company of great friends. I'm so grateful to have been able to do just that last weekend. This is what I learned:
Anna makes a mean egg salad.
Local, fresh-picked berries are the ultimate "working vacation" snack.
This UFO-ish thing is kohlrabi, a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli; eat it raw or cooked.
Beer o'clock is better with your feet in the water.
Fresh tuna is fantastic on something as simple as Triscuits.
Sassy Gay Friend is a bonding, after-dinner experience.
Sunsets are prettier over water (but I kinda already knew that).
A morning walk/run/hike is better with a filling breakfast beforehand.
The third book in the Hunger Game series is a great lying-in-the-sun read.
Dock picnics make lunch more fun. Avocado hummus is recommended.
Paddle boarding is almost as challenging as it looks, but it's easy to pick up.
Uncle Frank is hilarious; invite him(/her) on your next booze cruise.
That "weird pea thing" is an optional but delicious side dish to dinner al fresco.
When possible, "townie" ice cream is a must.
Brunch = a specially-prepared, late breakfast meal enjoyed amongst others.
It's no wonder Anna is such an amazing host, so is every other member of her wonderful family. Thank you all for such a perfect weekend!