Saturday, February 21, 2009

Outside my window..

Since the view from my living room overlooks ground zero, I've seen various things and people from my window (including the Pope). The following is one of my favorite "sightings."

Early on Thursday morning, I glanced out the window only to see this.. It's hard to tell what's going on here, but they are using the red crane to lower three port-a-potties into the work area! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Take Two on Vday

Last night, Luke and I went to One if by Land, Two if by Sea for take two on our Valentine's Day dinner. This restaurant is generally regarded as the most romantic restaurant in the city and it most certainly did not disappoint! The experience was perfect from start to finish.

We arrived a few minutes early and took a seat at the bar to enjoy a drink before dinner. A woman was playing the grand piano, and we thoroughly enjoyed the music before being seated. Our table was on the first floor in the back room by the garden. The candlelight was subtle, and a single rose in full bloom provided just the right touch.

Fortunately for us, NYC restaurant week is still going on, and we were able to order a magnificent three-course meal for $35 each.

For the first course, Luke ordered saffron orzo with duck confit, peas, and peashoot salad. I ordered butternut squash soup with fennel foam and huckleberry. The soup was absolutely amazing - so comforting and the perfect temperature. The huckleberries added a zing that I particularly enjoyed.

For the second course, we both ordered the grilled bavette steak with sweet potato gratin and pearl onions. The steak was quite good, especially considering our entire meal cost less than the average price of steak at a steakhouse in NY, and the pearl onions were cooked to perfection. However, my favorite part was the sweet potato gratin. Simply put, it was life-changing.

Now....for dessert. Oh boy.

Luke ordered the cappuccino creme brulee with mascarpone foam and almond cardamom biscotti. Delicioso. :)

I ordered the milk chocolate fondant with maple ice cream, salted caramel, and almonds. Paired with a cappuccino, my dessert was a glimpse of heaven. The milk chocolate fondant was a warm cake with a milk chocolate center that flowed out like lava as soon as I took the first bite. Mmmm. Caramel was drizzled on the side and had a distinct salty kick that I loved. The maple ice cream with an almond base was a simple compliment to the warm chocolate cake. Absolute perfection. I will dream of this dessert for weeks to come.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea provided the ultimate (post) Valentine's Day experience. The restaurant week menu, attentive service, and intimate setting exceeded our expectations. As if the evening wasn't perfect enough, our server gave us a $30 gift card so that we could come back and enjoy the full menu.

Fun little tidbit: our server told us that if we wanted to dine there for Valentine's Day next year, they create an original menu for the occasion. The catch? You have to book your reservation in early December.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day festivities

Yesterday, I woke up and decided to make a proper breakfast - it was V day and all. I made homemade hashbrowns (yumm!) and Luke made the eggs. It all turned out perfectly, and we enjoyed this yummy breakfast with freshly brewed coffee. I was a dork and turned my food into a heart :)

Later in the evening, we went to a restaurant called Cacio e Pepe for dinner.
We were seated at a great table - right by the window, perfect for people watching. When we got our menus, we found out it was prix fixe. No big deal, since that is common on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, their signature dish (which I was dying to try) was not available.
The prix fixe menu offered two choices for an app - a seafood scampi and duck carpaccio. Neither of us are big fans of duck, so we both decided to order the scampi. It was already out at 9pm. We ordered the duck, and actually enjoyed it. For the first course, I ordered the mushroom risotto and Luke ordered a squid ragu with pasta. For the second course, I ordered the monkfish and he ordered the lamb. And for dessert there was only one option - strawberry cake. It was simple but sweet.
The service was not quite what I expected for the price, but I'll chalk it up to being Valentine's Day. Either way, I was thankful to spend the evening with Luke.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Hello loveys,

I know it's a day early, but love is in the air. I wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day.

Luke surprised me with roses yesterday so that I could enjoy them at my desk for two days before bringing them home for the weekend. And I enjoy them I did! They made my desk smell lovely. He also impressed all of the gals at S&S with his thoughtful gesture.

For my contribution, I purchased the edible part (naturally) and got champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. We'll see if those last until tomorrow night (we already taste-tested two last night!).

Happy V Day, friends and family. I hope you all get to spend it with the people you love.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blackberry melodrama

As some of you may know, I've been sans blackberry since Saturday. For a normal person, this may pose a minor inconvenience. But for meltdown. Now that I am reconnected with the outside world, I feel at ease, and can relay the info. Seriously, folks, it's rough!

So here's the dealio.

On Saturday, I had to work the S&S booth at Comicon ... begrudgingly, as my coworkers and bf will tell you. If you've known me for five minutes, you would know that it's not my cup of tea. But whatever. I had to work at 2p, so I took a cab uptown, and arrived for my five-hour shift. In order to pass the time, I texted my brother to inform him of the greeazy hair that was in abundance. Then, I texted my coworker to find out if she had rectified a work situation. Even though I take extra good care of my blackberry, I went against my better instinct and took it out of its case and put it in my back pocket.

Luke decided that he wanted to see what all the hype is about and arrived at the Javits Center around 4:00p. After he arrived, I stopped into the restroom quickly, and had to wait in line. After I got in the stall, all of the sudden, I heard a **plop** and spun around immediately to find my poor 'berry sinking in the toilet!! I pulled it out immediately (fortunately, I hadn't gone yet...tmi?) and reached for the toilet paper. And
of course there was none in the stall. OF COURSE! So I raced out of the stall, grabbed all of the paper towel that I could and started dabbing it off. Then I got back to the booth and took it apart and started drying it. Sigggghhhh, all for naught. It was ruined.

I dried it out overnight, and the next day, it turned on, but none of the buttons on the keyboard would work. Oddly enough, it registered all of my emails and a voicemail, but I couldn't access any of it!

I waited until Monday to email my Verizon rep at work, and she told me to stop by a Verizon store. I went over my lunch hour yesterday, but since I don't have insurance and they don't troubleshoot phones, there was little they could do. What were my options? Buy a new phone at retail price. My precious blackberry goes for $520. No thanks.

When I got back to the office, I emailed my Verizon rep to fill her in, and she said that I was not eligible for an upgrade until June but she submitted my case to management. Her manager was going to call me yesterday, but I never heard from him. I emailed the rep back, and she said that he had called and left me a message. Um, hello, I can't access my voicemail. So I called her manager, left a message with my work number and waited around until 6:30p for a call back. When I hadn't heard, I decided that they must not want my business that badly, and headed home.

Luke was able to leave work early, and we both hauled it over to the AT&T store. We upgraded his plan to a family plan, and rather than spending $520 for a new blackberry, I got a oh-so-sleek iPhone for $200. I had to pay $100 for canceling my Verizon plan, but so be it. I'm reconnected with the world and that's all that matters.

Do you have any idea how terrible it is to be sans phone after having a blackberry for a year and a half? I seriously think (and Luke can confirm..) that I was going through symptoms of withdrawl on Saturday night. I felt like a crazed lunatic. I own it. When the AT&T lady handed me my brand-spankin-new-already-comes-charged iPhone, she hit the nail on the head: "Nowwww, you're happy." Yes, yes I am.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl snacks

Last night, I hosted a Super Bowl party, and judging by the lack of leftovers, I would say it was a great success!

We are all on a tight budget right now. But it just wouldn't be a proper Super Bowl party without tasty finger foods. We had the usual suspects: chips and the trifecta of dips (salsa, con queso, and bean dip). But the true crowd pleaser was a buffalo chicken dip. I got this recipe from my mom - she made it over the holidays. It's so easy and packs alotta punch, thanks to the 3/4c of Frank's hot sauce.

Here's the recipe:
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks® Red Hot®
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box chicken-flavored crackers

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

Modifications: I didn't have a slow cooker, so I just kept it in the skillet and reheated it when necessary. Thankfully, my party goers weren't picky. Also, I used cheese crackers instead of chicken flavor, and I think this was a good idea. Don't forget the celery: the fresh crunch is the perfect contrast to the strong buffalo flavor!

We ordered pizza for an easy dinner - always a favorite. The delivery man was so sweet and apologized for being delayed. None of us even noticed. The boys were engrossed in the game, and Kim and I were discussing plans for a Vegas vacation.

For dessert, I made chocolate-frosted brownies with some strawberries on the side. Yum yum. Naturally, these turned into an appetizer. I was glad I wasn't the only one downing them with my chips and salsa.

Fun times were had by all; however, I'm so disappointed that I didn't take pictures of the food! Sorry folks - I will work on my blog-supplementing-skills!