Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bagel and Brooklyn Costco

We weren't quite as ambitious with our late night-itude as we had been the last year, which meant I was asleep by two on Saturday, which, in turn, made it not such a surprise that I was up by 9 on Sunday. As often is the case at L. and Fat T.'s I went out into the world while they slept and got myself a bagel from Mocha Bagel. I ordered an everything bagel with green olive cream cheese and enjoyed half of it well enough, but not enough to consume the entire thing. I miss the bagel factory.
Then L. and I put ourselves together and went to the Brooklyn Costo - land of the magnetic elevators. While L. had a proper list for things she needed, I was more of a 'if I see something sparkly maybe I'll get it' mindset. So, in the end, I walked out of Costco with a $6 bag of WASABI DORITOS, a rack of lamb and a thing of salmon burgers. Obviously. If anyone has recommendations on shredders, let me know because I think in order to become a proper member of society and remain identity intact/slightly less of a clutter monster, I need to get one.
After our return to Costco I briefly hung around before packing up my foodstuffs and self and heading back to Philly. The end.

Wait! I forgot such an important thing. When my second faux 30th birthday party at the beach was canceled because of Hurricane Stupid Irene, this meant that I couldn't see L. or Fat T. as well as K. and J. And L. kept telling me that she had a present for me that she was going to give me at the beach, and I believed her because why would she lie. But I always get scared when someone repeatedly tells me they have a present for me because it means they're pretty excited about it, and that they think I'll be pretty excited about it. And that makes me worry that I won't be excited about it and then I'll have to feign excitement, and well you see how that might get a little weird (mainly in my brain). So when I arrived and L. ushered me towards a bag with a box in it...I didn't know what to expect. But you know what it was? It was magic times. You see, I have a bit of an obsession with a scent and wanting to smell like it but have been unable to find it for quite some time. The first brand of this smell was Eau Vert (which was probably a more pine-oriented scent than I actually remember it being), and I purchased it at a store in Takoma Park, Maryland when I was in college. Then, when that ran out, I found a similar scent at Basic French in Red Hook, New York. But when that ran out, I couldn't find anything that captured the smell I really wanted: verbena. Something not manly, but clean and citrusy without too much sweetness. Whatever, the thing about writing about smells is that it's difficult. The point is that L. knew about my ongoing quest for the right smell....and found this....and gave it to me....and it is perfect!
I'm going to put some on right now, even though I'm in full schlub/clean your room mode. Just so I can bask in its perfection and properly express gratitude to L. for a present that was most exciting and that I didn't have to fake my feelings for whatsoever. And another interesting thing is that the last time I went to Brooklyn I purchased Theme's Seashell eau de parfum...and liked it, but found it a little musky. But! When I spray a little of the theme on one wrist, and a little of the verbena on the other than gently rub together the result is pleasing. At least to me. I haven't really noted any uptick in people complimenting me on how I smell, but I can compliment myself well enough.

So all to say: Do not doubt L. when she says she has a present for you. And verbena is the bestest. Yay! Thanks.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


After my breakfast I walked back home and prepared myself for the drive I planned on making up to Brooklyn in order to once again enjoy the wonder of a Pigoatyster night. Once properly overprepared for a one night's stay away, I drove to Brooklyn. The drive went pretty well until I got off the New Jersey turnpike and made my way towards the 278 on ramp. Then I pretty much sat in traffic for half an hour. In the end, however, I arrived in Brooklyn. The pigoatyster fest didn't happen until later in the evening, so after hanging out with L. and Fat. T at their place, L. went to a kickball game while I went to Apartment 138 to have a beer with M. and T. This was a pretty impromptu plan, and I was a little trepidatious about it. M. and I haven't hung out since we watched Get Smart together in 2008. I had accidentally run into T. during one of my visits to Brooklyn over the past year, but I think the last time I was part of a group hanging out with him I still lived in Chicago. So it's been a while, and they were really my ex's friends more than mine, or certainly started out that way. So I did worry that we'd have nothing to talk about. But it was actually quite nice to catch up and I enjoyed two beers and deviled eggs to boot.
Then with a hasty goodbye to M. and T. I was meeting up with Fatty and S. and walking to E.'s to bask in piggy glory, goaty and oystery glory. Here lies the pig.
That guy with the knife was a very good pig cutter. This year I avoided sauces and happily ate my pig straight up.
I missed getting in on the oysters, but I accept that.
There were a good number of other treats for consumption, including sesame noodles, individual little lasagna type things and cabbage salad.
A strawberry cheesecake kind of thing.

It was great to see some familiar faces and to enjoy a nice night in Brooklyn. At the end of the night I got stuck in L. and Fat T.'s stairwell and slept there until the fire department could come help me in the morning. It was awkward for everyone.

Rittenhouse Square Art Show/Farmers Market and Breakfast c/o Parc

Last Saturday I walked on down to Rittenhouse Square to take a look at this year's Fine Art Show, and to see what the farmers were selling. I got down there early enough in the day that one could still navigate the packed sidewalks without completely losing their minds.
I did a quick walk around half of the booths that were open and arty before deciding to enjoy a slightly overpriced breakfast at Parc. The art show was a big enough deal that they blocked off a piece of the street and Parc and another restaurant expanded their sidewalk tables right into the street. I still got a table under the awning, but by the time I finished my meal people were beginning to be seated in the spillover section.
I chose to go with the two eggs any style with sausage. The eggs were really pretty took look at, but not 100% awesome. I don't know what they use to keep the whites together (generally it's vinegar I think, but these eggs didn't have that taste to them) but the result was a slightly rubbery white. The yolks were oozy and good, but the strange consistence of the whites threw me off a little.
The sausage was juicy, the bread fluffy and the potatoes hearty.
Not a bad way to start a day. I ended up buying a small print of a blue bird that I will eventually get framed and hang somewhere, though for the time being it has just added to the ridiculous lack of order that constitutes my room. I am on the verge of not becoming a hoarder per se, but some sort of person who has given up on the concept of order. I need a paper shredder. And a maid.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Non-Restaurant Week c/o Cochon

So last week I asked LB if she and CM might like to go to a restaurant week dinner with me. Once I understood the promise of the deal, I was all about it. In the end, however, we decided to go to Cochon. This was because CM had long wanted to go, and I'd never been back since I went with Mr. Ass, AS and JH back in December, 2008. So we made a reservation and then met up. I recalled enjoying their fried oyster appetizer with fennel salad and bacon aioli the last time out, so when I saw a similar dish on their menu I didn't hesitate to order it. Still good, though the fennel salad component wasn't quite as revelatory as that last time. I brought a Rose because I had it, which was a kind of interesting wine to pair the oysters with.
The lighting in the restaurant was difficult for me, so please bear with the rather sparse and badly done photos. For my entree I went with the charcoute garni, which consisted of: sausage, pork ribs, pork belly with sauerkraut, fingerling potatoes and a mustard/riesling broth. Did you count how many different kinds of pork were in this bowl of crazy? Three. The ribs were smoky tender delights, and the pork belly - ugh it was melty fatty crazy time. And the broth and overall tastes going on were addictive. Not literally, I haven't been mainlining the stuff ever since, but I took home the leftovers and enjoyed them over the course of a few lunches.
Since it was restaurant week, we were pretty much the only people in this non restaurant week spot. It's always fun to hang out with these two, and every time we do, we say we should do it more often but then life and scheduling gets in the way. Nonetheless, I'm committed to going to another meal with these folks before the weather completely turns.
We took a few more photos outside, but with LB's camera. I am going to try to get her to send them to me because some of them are real 'winners.'

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Restaurant Week at Union Trust

The last two weeks have been Philadelphia's Center City Restaurant Week. In the past I've simply avoided having anything to do with this, as I was under the impression that it's ridiculously crowded, restaurant chefs and servers resent it, and I like being able to choose from a whole menu. But I think I may have been missing out a little. The basic gist is that you can go to a number of restaurants in Center City, and have a three course meal for $32. This includes quite high-end fancy establishments, like Le Bec Fin and a host of other places where usually you'd have to drop more than $30 for a glass of wine and an appetizer. So when A.S. texted me to gauge my interest in taking advantage of restaurant week, I was suddenly motivated. I took time looking over the different restaurants' offerings an eventually suggested we go to Union Trust. I wore a fancy dress and high heeled shoes, because this is a steakhouse with a capital S. Well, not really. More of a capital U and T. Let's move on. While we were on time for our reservation, there was a slight delay for a table, so we enjoyed dirty martinis at the bar. Dirty.
When we were seated - about 15 or 20 minutes later - we were given a pretty sweet spot. It was strange that it seemed like there were plenty of two tops available (so why the wait) but we got a corner booth, all velvety and burgundy, that gave us a great view of the space and other patrons while giving us some privacy. Not that we needed privacy, but it was nice to have our backs to the wall and some breathing room between us and any other guest. I should have taken more photographs of what it looked like inside, but I didn't want to be gauche. It's one thing to take photos of food, it's another to start wandering around a restaurant taking photographs of its ceiling. The choices for the first course included jumbo shrimp cocktail, beef carpaccio and a wedge salad. We both went for the shrimp. They were jumbo and delicious. I imagined that they would be served in fancy martini glass, and maybe for a regular diner they are. While presentation was a little lacking, degustation was on the mark. Did I just make up a word?

I ordered one glass of Benegas Malbec to accompany the meal, which at $13 was on the cheaper end of their 'wines by the glass' selection.
Haricots Verts and Creamed Corn came with our meals, A.S. was enamored with the beans, which I enjoyed as well ... but not much as the creamy corn.
We both ordered the filet mignon with espresso rub and truffle butter. Our collective reasoning being: why order chicken or fish at a steakhouse? I ordered mine medium rare and AS ordered hers medium and, as it should have been, we could actually tell the difference between the two. Mmm. Meat. I enjoyed it thoroughly, though I didn't actually need the espresso rub element, and might have enjoyed another sauce or addition instead.
We didn't feel rushed nor looked down upon by our servers, even though we all knew that they wouldn't be getting the same sort of super bill/tip that the place usually demands. And I appreciated that. Here is the display in their foyer.
So my first restaurant week experience was a success. We had desserts as well, but the photos were not really worth the effort of photoshopping - and neither dish was amazing really. After dinner I accompanied A.S. as she unlocked her bike then made my way to the bus stop just in time to see my bus start pulling away. So I, in my high wedges and dress made a run for it. It seemed like a success when the bus then had to stop at a light ten feet away from the stop itself. But when I knocked on the door the bus driver shook her head and pointed me back to the bus stop. I think that's pretty dumb. I understand if I was three blocks away from the stop and knocked on her door that she might not/could not let me in...but ten feet away from the stop itself? Excuse me while I curse: fuck you lady. I then stood at the bus stop for 20 minutes, losing my food buzz and looking a bit overdressed for public transportation before the next bus arrived.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poached Cod and Whipped Potatoes c/o McCrossens

Last Monday LW and I met up and went to McCrossen's for a beer and snacks. Well, I had beer while LW enjoyed herself some cold water. I agonized over the snack I would choose, waffling back and forth between the poached cod with whipped potatoes and grilled bread and the pork belly. Ultimately I went with the cod. I didn't really know what to expect, though I had intuited that it would be a pretty white dish. So I'm not sure if I could have been surprised by the actual presentation. I guess maybe I had imagined a piece of cod next to a small serving of potatoes. Instead it was cod mixed in with the potatoes and a liberal dose of buttery goodness. The grilled bread, though not pictured, was also great. I started to (as I would imagine I should have) spread the cod/potatoes on the bread and enjoyed the carb overload that followed.

Drive Away From Berryville

It was a beautiful day as I left the monastery, but it strangely got gloomy and cloudy with every mile between me and it. Still pretty, just a little ominous. Seriously. By the time I got back to a major highway it was drizzling, and I experienced a terrible traffic jam on 695 outside of Baltimore that coincided with terrible rain. But never you mind that. Look at this church that doesn't seem to be in use any more. It somehow reminds me of Alice's Restaurant. I could fill that place up with trash no problem.
This guy was just walking along the road, doing his own thing.
Right after this photograph a truck started tailing me so I pulled over to let it pass. It had a confederate flag in its window and made a big show of zooming off so that it disappeared from sight within thirty seconds of passing me.
This house doesn't look to be in good shape, but damn it makes a pretty picture.
Just as you turn off a slightly more major road, you see this house. You might notice that the board in front of the door reads 'condemned.' What you can't notice because I felt weird getting any closer, is that there was laundry strung on ropes between two nearby trees. Sort of a mixed message: condemned, but we still do our laundry here. Or something.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Mezze

I got back from my walk, took a shower and put on fresh clothes. Here's proof.
Then many of us started prepping the table that would serve as eating central for H.'s friends and guests. I brought these olives and two different kinds of cured salami type meats. Then I cut the salamis and made this plate.
I also brought two different kinds of wood smoked salmon and created this plate. Capers. Red onions. Lemon. Hard boiled egg.
Folks either sat in the living room or on the porch to chat.
A., H.'s brother, brought out drinks on a cutting board turned serving tray.
B. and D. came from Silver Spring. Here B. is with her plate.
Here is my own plate. I love cheese. I should have taken more photographs of the cheese. I do declare it was an obscene amount of cheese. Disgusting. Over the top. Too much to bear. Awesome. Incroyable! I also like black olives. Did I mention my feelings about cheese?

Though i was enjoying myself and could have filled up three more plates, I needed to get on the road home. B. and D. departed around the same time as me. Here they are.
There will be one more Virginia-based post, in which my drive out of town is properly recorded. But this was the end of the social times. It was quite lovely to see H. after over five years, as well as H. and A. and all the other nice people that came out over the weekend. I had visions of returning to the house secretly and spackling and painting its cracked and fading bedroom walls and just sitting, watching the light change for some indeterminate but very long time.