Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Cousin Open House

Last Wednesday I took a cab to a train station, a train to an airport, a plane to Nashville then a shuttle to Monteagle then a minivan c/o my mother to the homestead. My feet didn't hit proper Sewanee ground until 1 am, so it was a pretty long day, what with working a full day and all. On Thursday, some might call it Christmas Eve, I worked a full day, sitting at my parents' dining room table and enjoying their recent emergence into the 21st century (re: wireless internet). I drank my usual Earl Grey tea, but with honey from one of their friends' hives, so that was cool. I made a point of getting most of my work done in time to go to H. and C.'s open house in the valley. Their's is a lovely spread that I always enjoy visiting, though moreso when it's warm. Their tree came from their own land, which I think is pretty cool.

They had, in addition to a nice land spread, a nice food spread, which included ham, lots of sweets and some seriously strong homemade eggnog.

Just delicious. Punchy, but delicious. Nice thing was that after the third sip I got used to the amount of bourbon and just enjoyed it.
We also got to see E., R. and E. and R., A. J. and L., basically a bunch of cousins is what that is...others came but my sociability suffered a bit as a result ofthe late arrival the night before, the early and full day of editing and then those cups of eggnog just made me feel sleepy.
Thanks to the host and hostess for a lovely time!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sicilian c/o Primo Hoagies

Last Wednesday Primo hoagies were in order. This is the Sicilian, I believe. The tomatoes were a little anemic but the sandwich as a whole was quite good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cheesesteak Hoagie c/o Luigis

My second free lunch c/o work was a cheesesteak hoagie from Luigi's. I don't know what I thought 'hoagie' meant, but it seems it means a cheesesteak with lettuce and tomatoes. The tomatoes weren't such a bad addition, but the lettuce was dumb. The actual cheese to steak to flavor ratio was surprisingly high. I was pleased. Ate half for lunch, the other half for dinner. Boom: success.

Pizza and Puppy

Last Monday I went over to C. and R.'s for another round of pizza, laundry, wine and puppy time. All was as it should be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best of 2009, Meal Edition

Well, another year has gone by; another 365 days of eating and drinking and living all wrapped up. With 2009 on the verge of being over, never to be seen again, it's time for my second annual 'best of' round up. Last year I included 17 memorable meals, but this time around I tried to be a little more discerning with my choices. Taking a tougher approach wasn't too difficult. I ate a great number of meals and had my share of fun times, but the truth is, I feel like I didn't quite eat as well as I did last year or in the years before it. That is not the right attitude, however, for a best of meals list, so let's pretend I didn't say that. Instead, let's take a look at all the great stuff I did eat.

While technically a 2008 meal, the Christmas lobster from last year deserves a mention.
While I have had my fair share of oysters this year, the crispy salmon skin salad and oysters from Aqua Grill were truly marvelous.
K.'s visit to Philly, and our trek to South Philly, led to the surprising find of the best donut of the century.
When I lived in Chicago, anyone who knew about the blog would ask me if I had eaten at Lula Cafe. Their main suggestion was that I try the banana cream pie, which just made me not want to try the place due to my unfortunate lack of interest in bananas. But when I went back for L. and B.'s wedding, M. Lady and I went for brunchy breakfast, and I really loved the earl grey tea and eggs Benedict from that I consumed in their entirety.
My first, and only thus far, visit at Zahav, was great from the opening pickled treats to this perfect bite of lamb.
Sometimes the circumstances of a meal can accentuate its overall awesome-ness. This was certainly the case when M. and I shared a smoked salmon, tuna fish and triscuit snack by Crystal Lake.
Just having L. visit Philadelphia for the first time this summer was great, but the lamb I cooked in her honor made it that much better.
When A.S. invited me up to her family's house on Cayuga Lake, I expected a lovely few days of reading and swimming, but I didn't expect some of the best pizza of the year (sorry Luigi's).
The seven course tasting meal at Le Bec Fin was a lovely eating experience, from the first course that really woke my tongue up to the marvelous cheese cart.
Thanksgiving at XIX included everything from butternut squash to pork crackling, but the seafood aspect really made it special.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Malai Kebab c/o King of Tandoor

Our company's second busy season has commenced, though it's a steady, rising busy not yet completely unmanageable or defeating...well, generally speaking, maybe. That said, lunches started to be paid for by the boss men last week. Our first sponsored meal was brought to us by King of Tandoor. In my ongoing effort to try most everything on their menu, I tried Malai Kebab. Basically huge chunks of chicken marinated in something and then cooked in the Tandoori oven (does that make sense?). The dragon liked the look of them, and I was rather pleased as well...though I would have liked the chicken to be even a bit more succulent and with a little more flavor. Comparatively light when considered against the many heavy sauce based dishes on the menu. Garlic naan was good as well.

Beer and Wings and Eagles c/o Prohibition Tap Room

On Sunday A.S. texted me and asked if I'd like to have some beers while watching the Eagles game at Prohibition Taproom. I said yes, and off we went. The snow was still everywhere but my new boots (my boots are neither of those colors) kept my feet nicely warm and dry. Win. It was pretty quiet in the bar, which I often prefer, as I can definitely find a seat and everything is a little more low key.
I ordered a small set of their chili wings, which were quite moist and tasty without being as spicy as I might have expected. The skin could have been more crispy? Or chewy? Something, the skin could have been a little more something. On the whole, however, the moistness and size of the wings made up for any minor gripes I may have had.
It was a nice late afternoon and evening experience, especially since the Eagles won.

Friday, December 25, 2009

On my way back from New york I stopped by a New Jersey Lowes to pick up paint for my much talked about desire to paint at least half of my bedroom. Once there, however, I realized I wasn't entirely ready to make such a commitment. So I bought small samples of two blues and two reds, since my thought was to have a blue/red theme...with one on the window treatments one as the main color. Above and below are what those colors look like under different light conditions. As much as I felt the reds when they were sample colors on paper, I didn't feel like they looked quite right on the wall. But I did sort of dig both of the blues. The lighter color, which I imagine becoming the predominant color, is called 'Ocean Sigh,' which does reflect a certain overall sentiment of my self. In my mind.
So I'm thinking 'Ocean Sigh' for the walls with this darker blue for the window trimming. I kind of want a red element too, simply because I do, but I don't see that happening. Or it could. I just don't know exactly how. Technically, L. says she will do the painting, but I have to make her quite a nice meal. I like making nice meals. The idea of leaving the painting to her, whilst I am focusing on food would be my preference. Of course, I actually have to buy the paint and brushes and rollers and primer before this actually becomes a matter worth discussing at length. Still, these are the colors.

Oh yes, and today is Christmas. Merry Christmas. I tend to prefer 'Happy Holidays' but that seems sort of silly on Christmas day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow and Dead Flowers

Saturday was decidedly solitary, but not in a bad way. Actually, in a marvelous way. S. had gone home for the holidays, so I had the house to myself and freely wandered around taking pictures of stuff, eating things, and watching a lot of television on the internet. Some would get out there in that snow and gallavant and whatnot, and for split seconds I had that urge...but, whatever, the thing I like best about a snowstorm is the freedom it gives me to stay inside, cozy up with myself and watch the world get covered in snow without having to fight it.
While buying my future heart attack at Whole Foods, I saw a paper whites kit for $6.99. A long time ago I had bulbs turn into flowers in my life, but it's been years, and I kind of miss it, watching these things sprout and grow and get all pretty and start to smell weird. I didn't take advantage of the dirt or crappy pot since I had this much prettier thingamajig at my disposal. Hopefully they will already have started to grow during my absence (I'm in Tennessee), though I also kept the curtains closed to try to keep the heat from escaping, so they won't be getting a lot of light. Hmmm.
A picture of the roses from the other week and the plants S. brought with him from California, which unfortunately weren't brought in before the first freeze, so it's most likely that they are dead, dead, dead.

Hello Cholesterol, How Are You?

So after returning home on Sunday I spent a week working and not going out or eating anything of note, literally. Well, not literally, I did plenty of mysterious interesting things that I swore that I would not blog about. Shit. I just blogged about them. Falsehood. Crazy. Point: last Saturday it snowed and snowed and snowed and my lack of anything to eat in the house necessitated a quick walk to Whole Foods, where I bought half a dozen eggs, American cheese and an everything bagel. I returned home where I created an obscene home-edition of the very similar breakfast bagel I ate the previous Sunday (minus the bacon plus an egg and about two slices of cheese). I am a fatty. I like melted cheese. I cannot help myself. It was delicious with a little ketchup and green tabasco sauce, and it was the perfect way to start a snowed in Saturday.
I know it is obscene. Judge me. If you want me to make you one I will.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bagel

Sunday morning I was the third to awake in Fat T.'s parents' household. After lending a pair of pants to L., she and I set out with the purpose of breakfast in Huntington. Our first stop was not successful, as the wait was long and our time allotment was not, so we went further down the main street to a bagel factory (I don't know what it was called, but it definitely manufactured bagels). I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese bagel, half of which I ate there on the spot, the second half I ate for lunch on Monday.
It was satisfying.

The Spread c/o Fat T.'s Parents

The spread was quite extensive. From wonderfully stinky cheese to so many different dessert lovelies.
Mmmmm. L. and I took the plastic wrap off all of these plates.
The party itself was a success I think. I stood with L. for a while, but she kept having to tell people the same few stories over and over again (when they're getting married, what she's doing in her professional life etc) so I found myself making conversation with a few strangers, and that seemed to go well. I was also immensely tired so that, when the party wound up around 1 and Fat T. and L. planned on meeting up with some friends in Huntington I found myself unable to imagine going to a bar and effectively communicating with anyone without falling asleep. I don't usually find myself so tired, as I usually just go to sleep when sleepy. This led to, when I finally did put my head to the pillow, a really marvelous release of sleepy dreams. Maybe I should not sleep enough all the time, just so when I finally do go to sleep it will be absolutely delightful. Maybe not.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ornament Hanging in Huntington

So, since my visit to New York was last minute, Fat T. and L. already had plans for the evening. Fat T.'s mother was involved in a concert of some kind and, afterwards, the family was hosting a concert/holiday party. L. and I drove out to Long Island (that's where T.'s parents live) to help Fat T. and his father prepare for the party. Our main responsibility was decorating the tree and taking covers off of the snacks. Fat T. handed L. and me ornaments and then berated our placement of said ornaments on the tree, his father joined in as well, which was fun (it actually was). Here Fat T. is particularly mesmerized by an ornament, to the point where he tried to woo it. It was weird for everyone. Especially his fiancee.
Here I am, bathed in golden light, holding the three wise men.
And here I am as an owl. They had a lot of bird decorations that I found quite to my liking. They reminded me of J. and J.'s short-lived Christmas tree last year, which, if I recall correctly, had a bird theme.
I know.
This was one of the gaudier of ornaments. L. thought it was funny. I agreed.

These two are getting married. Everyone is talking about it. Mainly me.
Here Fat T. put on his muppet face and L. looked cute.
I know.

I can't remember the last time I decorated a tree. It was fun. Wholesome even. Usually my mother has already put the tree up and together by the time I get home, which I do not mind in the least, she does an excellent job, but it might be fun to look through those ornaments. I imagine I would get at least a momentary burst of childhood thoughts. I certainly had my favorite ornaments as a kid, but I can't remember what they were. I remember always being taken in by the Hallmark commercials and their insistence that a family should get an ornament for each year of a child's life, and each ornament should have significance. We didn't really do that, which is for the best since the ornaments Hallmark hawked were all cheap and stupid...I see this in retrospect. Fat T.'s favorite ornament was a clothespin dressed as a lady that his brother made when they were kids. That doesn't really let you know what it looked like.

It is snowing, and it is cold in my house, and I'm wondering about what I'm going to eat for dinner and it's only 3.

Burger c/o Black Horse Pub

On Saturday I went to a barren wasteland of strip clubs and car dealerships to 'winterize' my car. I had hoped to get there early enough to avoid a neverending wait, but I didn't, so I spent four hours of my life in a Honda dealership's waiting area, trying to ignore the Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider (is that the right one?) movies that played consecutively on the television. In an effort to dismiss the movies I made some phone calls, one of which was to L. We had a good conversation, which ended with her suggestion that I come up to New York that very day. This was the opposite of what I was planning to do with my day (grocery shopping, printer preparing, baked ziti etc) but I was feeling the need for a change of scenery and friendly faces, so after my car was finally ready, I drove home and packed myself a bag and then got on the road to Brooklyn. I hadn't had a proper meal that day and by the time I got to South Slope I was mighty hungry, so L. took me to their new favorite place, the Blackhorse Pub. While bangers and mash and Welsh rarebit tempted me, I found that I was really just looking for a burger, so a burger I did order, with cheese.
It was exactly what I needed with a little cheddar cheese to make it even more pleasing to my tongue's tastebuds.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Hour and More

Last Friday most all of us from the office joined M. in enjoying the free happy hour she won at Public House. If it wasn't Public House, then it was a bar a lot like it. There we drank free beers or wine for an hour before moving on to paying for our alcohol at Kite and Key. A2 had a hand at the camera and, 200 photographs later, this was the best of the bunch. Here I am about to try to attack Ak (I think my face looks a lot like Brutus the puppy's when he is about to attack), but she knows that I am no match for her so she is smiling at me. L. doesn't care, so she is being all sultry.
Here Ak is victorious and L. is all pouty-inquisitive.
Here we all take a photograph together.
And then we do it again.
Here is what it looks like with a flash and a little more crazy cc. I'm not really that crazy. I just choose to deal with my double chinned tendencies by acting crazy. It is a defense mechanism...that still results in a double chin. Double chin avoidance FAIL. The next two photographs were taken with L.'s camera, which generally annoys me when I use it, but turned out better pictures on this particular evening. Thanks L!

A.S. joined the fun, which was nice.