Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bar 515 - an inexpensive place for fun

Yesterday we wanted to go out for some food, but Rick really wanted something close to home. I thought of Third and Long - advertising nice happy hour specials, but when we walked in, we realized that there were some very serious sports fans there, and we thought we'd forgo the screaming.

We went next door to Bar 515 - they have outdoor seating, and the tables just at the entrance to the patio were open (my favorite place to sit). When we walked inside, the place was empty. Of course, it was a Saturday late afternoon on Memorial Day weekend.....

Every day is happy hour from noon - 8, and $3 Bud Light drafts are included, along with $5 Cosmos and Appletinis. I think this may be the most "affordable" place we've found in town.

We decided to have sandwiches - I ordered the fajita chicken wrap and Rick ordered the philly cheese steak. Both came with amazing fries - crispy and good. The sandwiches were meh. They were on fresh bread, but there was very little in the way of filling. I think next time we may have to try a burger or something else. Or just the fries :)

The good news was the whole bit was $42 and change. Almost as cheap as the Rusty Hammer! I'd try it again since it was so affordable.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

L'express on Park Avenue - Yum Yum!

Yesterday I walked to Union Square to visit the Farmers Market. Since it was mid-week I wondered if I might see a celebrity chef, but no. It didn't matter - there were lots of spring veggies and flowers along with the usual meats, cheeses, fish and bakery items. I even found some hot house tomatoes and a nice pot of rosemary.

On the way home, I came across this pretty cafe filled with patrons.

I stopped for a open air lunch, looking forward to something fresh and light. I decided on the Frisee salad - it contains the frisee lettuce along with a poached egg and lardons (big french bacon bits freshly cooked!). Oh my - it was so yummy - the dressing was a simple vinegrette, and it had some diced tomato and possibly shaved anise. It was an amazing combination of flavors.

It wasn't until after that I saw the name of the cafe - L'express. What an awful handle for such a delicious locale!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blue Smoke BBQ

I bought the new Time Out NY 2009 Eating and Drinking guide, and marked all the restaurants that looked interesting that are within walking distance of our new apartment. Yesterday, after finally getting that shower curtain rod at Home Depot and doing some other chores around the house, Rick and I were ready for some brunch. Or dinner. Food actually.

Rick's been reading the South Beach Diet, and suggested going to a BBQ place. He likes Brother Jimmy's and goes to the one in Grand Central fairly regularly, but I wanted to try something new and different. I looked in my trusty guide, and found Blue Smoke - looked good :) Plus it's a jazz club at night - could be very interesting!
Rick suggested ordering the Blue Smoke Flight - a 1 oz tasting of 5 different bourbons. I'd never done a bourbon tasting, so I figured what the heck? I did, however order a glass of lemonade, seeing the Lynchburg Lemonade cocktail and thinking worse comes to worse, I'll mix a little of that bourbon with something. It was a good call. I'm not a big hard liquor drinker, and definitely not straight. I made it through 1 sip. The liquor was very very smoky, and the burn you would expect at the end. Rick sipped a few and then ordered a diet coke mixer. It was interesting, but I don't think I need to do that again :)
As an appetizer, we ordered the sausage sampler. 3 different kinds of sausages, also very smoky. There was a chorizo, a chicken sausage and one other - figures I liked the one I can't remember :) It took a long time for dinner to come. We ordered the Rib Sampler (it was a sampler kind of afternoon I guess :) with Memphis ribs, Kansas City ribs, and Texas beef ribs. I was surprised that my favorite were the beef ribs, but the others were dry. And all were very smoky!
We spent more on the tastings that we would usually, so if we go back, I would definitely order different items. The devilled egg app looks very interesting, and the beef brisket was calling my name. On the way out, our waitress was serving real home made banana cream pie - we thought about sitting at the bar for a slice, but decided to leave it for next time :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mid week lunch at Banc Cafe Murray Hill

After walking down to Bed Bath and Beyond for a shower curtain rod (that they didn't have) yesterday, I strolled back toward home thinking "Wow - this is one of those days you just hope for when planning a vacation. Not too hot, gorgeous sun, and simply fabulous." I decided I must take advantage of the day and find a place to eat lunch outside. Days like today I wish we had a patio or balcony.

Being new to Murray Hill, I saw the big advertisement at Tonic East indicating roof deck dining, and decided to go over. I got to the door, and it looked like it had been closed by the liquor commisioner or board of health or something. They had their own sign indicating they would be open next Tuesday after refurbishing the rooftop deck. Hmmmmmm.......

I kept walking and saw the Banc Cafe. It's been on my list to try, and they had outdoor seating - yes, this was perfect :) The Maitre'D asked me to select a table, and I loaded my shopping bundles on to the other chair and gratefully sat down. Water was immediately brought, and the waiter was there not long after. I ordered a beer, and perused the menu. They have a number of salad options that you can mix and match with different protiens - chicken, shrimp, crab cake, salmon, and steak. I wanted a salad, but I kept looking at the menu to see if there were other things Rick might like. They offer a number of different wraps and sandwiches - the chicken BLT was something I thought about switching to - served with avacado I believe and french fries. But really, I didn't need the carbs or the fatty fries, so I went back to the salads. I selected the Country salad - bib, radicchio and endive lettuces with jullienned apple, rich bleu cheese crumbles and walnuts. I added grilled salmon. The waiter smiled and congratulated me on a fine choice - he was sure I would enjoy it. He was right.

The salad was crisp, fresh and cool and the salmon was very hot and very fresh. Honestly, it is really difficult to get good fish in the city at a mid range restaurant. I have been disappointed time and time again to the point that I often don't even try. I guess living on the seacoast all those years really did spoil me. So I was especially excited when this fish was perfect :)

I enjoyed my meal, evesdropping on the tables near by (this one can't count how many times she missed her flight to Paris, that one with her friend in scrubs talks about how she doesn't trust doctors.....nothing too interesting, but out of my head at least). The sun was warm enough to give me a bit of a sunburn on my arms. All in all a tremendously relaxing time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coco At Bumble and bumble

After lots and lots of thinking, I decided to cut my hair. Short.

When I showed the photo to Coco, she said "Oh, that's short...". We talked about the pictures I brought including the one below, and Coco was concerned that maybe my face would look too long with the shagginess in the back. She looked at my hair and studied my face, and said "OK - let's do it."

I think she did a great job. It's a big change, but I was in the mood for it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

9 - 5 The Musical

I walked to Times Square yesterday afternoon, and I didn't realize that the New Years Eve ball is actually there all year long :) Cool!

I went to the Mariott Marquis (home of the Marquis Theater where 9 - 5 is playing on broadway) and I was early, so I thought I'd go up to the only revolving restaurant in Manhattan (The View in the Marquis). A wonderful French Martini was served to me, and I enjoyed it prior to the show.

After my cocktail, I walked down to the theater, and made my way to my seat. I was sitting near a group of girls celebrating a friend's birthday - it made me think, hey, maybe I am in a show that will be like Mamma Mia....

After the ushers made them remove the balloons and happy birthday tiarras, the show started. Initially I got a little itchy with the dancing in business attire. And, for women, '70's business attire is very similar to '00 business attire :) Those wrap dresses are the best! But the music - it was awesome. Dolly just hit it out of the park. I'm going to have to go out and buy that soundtrack. I loved hearing a hint of a country twang on Broadway!!!!!!!

The show is very similar to the movie - no surprises there. But Allison Janey in the lead role does an amazing job of the Lily Tomlin role....not at all a singer, but really - I've never heard spontaneous applause in a musical for actual acting. And in that role it was perfect. The Doralee role, originally played by Dolly, was played by Meghan Hilty - my favorite of the show. I love Dolly and she must have listed to Dolly for hours and hours to make the role so much like Dolly. She made it so much more fun!

Both Doralee and Judy (the other character completing the trio) were vocal geniuses. They both came from the show Wicked, as well as the director. It was a first class show.

Congratulations Dolly!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Church Bells in NYC

One of the things I thought I would miss when we moved from the UES (Upper East Side) to Murray Hill was the church bells. There was a catholic church across the street, and when the bells chimed, they would play hymns I remember from forever ago.

Today was a gorgeous day, and we had the windows open, and we could hear church bells here too. It was something, I thought to myself, that I would miss when we eventually move out of Manhattan.

Affordable Art Fair 2009

Rick and I wanted to go to the Affordable Art Fair as we have some significant space on our walls and wanted to add some art in an affordable fashion. We figured we wouldn't really find anything here as the fair advertises art from $100 to $10,000 and that's just not very affordable for us right now. We thought if we paid the $20 each to get in, we'd see some contemporary art and what was "new" and "fresh".

On the way there, Rick was getting grumpy - I figured it must be low blood sugar as he really likes art - more than me - and he just needed something to eat. Also, his feet hurt from walking all over yesterday, so we decided not to veer off the actual path to the art fair, and we went in to the Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building. As you can imagine, this is quite a tourist trap, but I just wanted to get some food into my lover so he would enjoy the show.

He suggested we get a flight of the beers and share it so we could taste all the brews available. Only Heartland Brewery beers are sold here - none others - which isn't all that unusual in a brew pub. The seasonal brew was my favorite - a wildflower wheat. Delightful floral aroma and the expected light wheat flavor with a kick of lemon wedge. I don't have a single other nice thing to say about that lunch, so let me talk about the rest of the day :)

The Affordable Art Fair was on 7 W 34th Street on the 11th floor. The building seems to have lots of retail in it, but none you would know about unless you entered (secret shopping always seems alluring to me!). The entire floor was devoted to the fair, in a standard convention configuration. Some artists really did an interesting job decorating their booths to enhance the experience, even adding music. Others were simply hung on white walls to keep the focus on the art itself. I really enjoyed the show, and seeing how commercial artists are creating new and interesting items. One piece Rick found was especially beautiful - it was painted in latex I believe with sand mixed in. Very serene sandy colors and bronzy colors were used in lights and darks to implicate a simple graphic of a woman with a horse facing forward. I say implicate because you would have to look at if for a minute or two in order to recognize the shapes as they were suggested, as they are not actually a graphic per se. The paint was manipulated with something sharp to create the texture of the shape, and the color (lights and darks - since it was sort of monochromatic) illustrating the life force of the woman, horse and the relationship between the two. The curator was there telling us this was the first time the artist had worked in this medium of texture. Previously he painted with out it, but now he is very inspired to work in this new medium. The curator, responsible for actually selling the art, stated that of course this makes the work more interesting and valuable.

And although it was interesting and will be valuable to someone, I think we'll keep that $5000 for the kitchen renovation.

It is nice, however, to continue to think about the world in those textural, simplistic and suggestive terms.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ziegfeld Theater and Opening Weekend of Star Trek

Rick decided to take today off and make a long weekend since his class starts on Monday, and he won't have any free weekends for 7 more weeks. We had been talking about it because the new Star Trek movie starts this weekend, and we could go to the first show of the day if he took today off. So the realization of class was the frosting on the cake.
We decided to go to the Ziegfeld Theater, which Rick's boss Dan recommended. It is the only theater in town that is not a multi-plex, and it has digital projection. We walked to 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, and arrive about an hour before the show. We were pleasantly surprised to be #2 and #3 in line even after leaving to get a breakfast snack before the show and returning to the line. Ahhhhh, the benefits of a matinee :)
The theater has been completely refurbished, and is reminiscent of what made a large old movie theater fun - those velvet covered walls, velvet seats, and the size - the theater stretched from 54th Street all the way to 55th Street. The project and sound was everything advertised :) The movie was really good too!
After the show, we sauntered back towards home, stopping at the Barnes and Noble on 46th and 5th, and then at Dukes for a few snacks on the outdoor patio. Rick had a couple of Fireflys (a vodka made in South Carolina flavored like iced tea mixed with lemonade - delish!) and I stuck with the safely watered down bud light. We had the piggly wigglies (cocktail hotdogs wrapped in puff pastry - yum!), and then tried the chicken quesadilla (also very tasty), and the buffalo chicken fingers (not nearly as good as Paddy's in Portsmouth who may have the absolute best chicken tenders on the face of the earth when ordered with honey mustard).
It was nice to sit outside, enjoy the warm air with just a little breeze while Rick explained his desire to use the new MVC platform instead of the existing ASP platform when working on his next project. Since I have been starved for technical conversation as I haven't been working, we discussed the risks, benefits and long term possibilities. Yeah, too geeky for words on a vacation day, but what can you do?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mom and Pa Go Home Today

This morning Mom and Pa came over from the W hotel and had coffee. I made breakfast for Pa and Rick - a mexican tostada - a Cedar's low carb whole wheat wrap with cheese, refried beans, scrambled eggs and salsa. Smelled yummy, but Mom and I weren't ready to eat yet. We sat around and visited, and Pa went to mass around the corner at The Church of Our Savior.

Rick and I went there for Easter when I took these pictures. They use way too much incense - you can barely breathe. So Mom, Rick and I stayed back at the apartment. I tortured them with hair magazines trying to pick out a new hairstyle. They may have wished they had gone to church instead ;) Pa got back around 12:30 or quarter of 1, and we were ready for brunch. We took them to Dukes for the infamous fish po'boy, though Mom and Rick elected to have the steak sandwich. Even though it rained all day, it was a great visit. We walked them back to their car, and gave lots of hugs goodbye. My father even said he would come again sometime :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Tom and Aggie came to visit NYC today! It was nice to show them the apartment, and do a little bit of sight seeing today. We went to Grand Central Terminal - We looked at the central ceiling with the stars, then we went to Grand Central Market. l asked Mom to pick out a birthday cake - she did fabulously - a white chocolate confection with white cake, custard and strawberry filling and a white chocolate frosting and white chocolate flakes - so yummy! We paid and asked them to hold it while we made our way to 59th street and on to Central Park. We picked up the 4 train and when we exited the subway we came upon a street fair on 60th Street from Lex to 5th. I bought a few pashminas, and a darts game for Rick. Then we rambled around the park - we even came upon the Carousel - gorgeous flowers - the park is so pretty!
We were hungry so we went to the Uptown and had brunch. Mom tried the banana stuffed french toast (I had it too) and it was so good! Pa had the Greek Omlette (spinach tomato and feta) which looked really good until he spread mustard across the entire thing. I didn't ask for a bite.

We came home with the cake, and had a few happy hour cocktails. And then we ate the cake - oh - as good as advertised!!!

They are staying in the city at the W hotel - beautiful room. I would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone wanting to stay in the Murray Hill area (39th and Lex). Beautiful!