Town and country

So, we left off in early April … which leads perfectly into Easter! Normally, I would have gone up to MA for a Passover-Easter combo of events, but between school and other travel plans, I couldn’t make it work. Enter Plan B: traditional Easter celebrating with Erik! We headed up to Harlem for the Easter Sunday service:

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Probably my first full-length church service ever (except for some weddings perhaps?). I was mostly fascinated by the exposed brick and stained glass!

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And the cupcake tower downstairs that accompanied Easter brunch:

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While waiting for the ready signal on the food, we took a tour of the garden:

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We got back inside just in time for locally baked red velvet cupcakes, aka the appetizer!!

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Pretty eggs:

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Here’s cupcake #1:

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Cupcake #2:

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Inside:

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Cupcake #3:

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I could not keep my hands off the cupcakes!! Luckily, I had a very willing partner who helped me eat half of each 😀

A quarter-dozen cupcakes in, the brunch was finally ready. I loaded up with a crispy corner of mac & cheese, collard greens, and BBQ chicken:

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And then it was time for Easter dinner! You didn’t think I would stop at brunch, did you?

Erik and I headed out to his aunt and uncle’s house in Staten Island, where we received a welcome tour of the garden, complete with chives and oregano that had just started to sprout:

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Space like this in NYC always blows my mind. Everything was so peaceful:

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We hung out on the patio with Prosecco and cute boys:

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And cheese and crackers!

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Erik’s Aunt Lois is a master entertainer and seasonal decorator, as you can see from the dining room arrangement:

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We started with a delicious asparagus, fennel, and orange salad:

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Between courses, I nibbled on the Easter candy basket that was screaming my name:

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More centerpiece action:

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Dinner was scalloped potatoes (I took a couple crispy mini-pieces since we all know I’m not a potato girl), ham with pineapple and cranberries, and green spring veggies:

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This ham was amazing. The pineapple and cherries had gotten caramelized in the oven — it was like eating candy!

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When dessert arrived, my jaw dropped to the floor.

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We had rhubarb cake and a lemon cheesecake-ish pie:

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Both beyond delicious and refreshing, especially the lemon pie!

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Mmmmmmmmm, perfect day. I feel so lucky to have been invited! I love visiting people’s real houses, especially in this city where they are so few and far between.

Which would you choose: city apartment or suburban house?

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A summary of findings

Hellooooooooo! I’m back for a moment because … dun dun dun … I finished my last paper of my grad school career, ahhhhh!!!!

This is an enormous relief, as I have been in grad school for three endless years. Of course, I still have a month left of classes and my school duties do not officially end until my second and final graduation ceremony has taken place on June 3rd, but the constant stress of unfinished assignments hanging over my head has been banished!

So, I now have a moment to recap some food memories from the past few weeks, if anyone still cares! I remember a beautiful sunny morning in early April when my fruit bowl made me smile:

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And there was a weekend when Erik and I made a visit to Istanbul Park, a newish Turkish restaurant here in the Slope. He ordered this gorgeous Turkish gnocci which I loved:

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I ordered the Sultan’s Delight with chicken (smoked eggplant puree with Kashar cheese and heavy cream. This is what arrived at my table:

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We posed with our food and bottle of Turkish wine.

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But wait! Go take another look at my food. Do you see cheese in there? No. Cream? No. Eggplant? No.

They had brought me sauteed chicken instead of the Sultan’s Delight!! I am so glad I alerted our waiter to the mix-up, however, because here’s the beauty that arrived to replace the saute:

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Mmmm, that smoked eggplant puree was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. In fact, I ended up leaving behind most of the chicken and just concentrated on the scrumptious mush.

And the best part is yet to come! In apology for the dinner confusion, the waiter brought us complimentary baklava for dessert:

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Mmmm, crispy layers of phyllo with pistachios and honey and walnuts. I almost cried!

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The check came in this adorable box:

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I was half hoping we would find candies inside, but no go. Just the bill!

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In another memorable April weekend moment, I found myself inadvertently cocooned in purple during a homework session:

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Purple shirt, purple blueberry crackers with cheese, and purple Bayley assessment!

In other random April Brooklyn news, Erik and I also tried Okeanos, another newish restaurant in the Slope. In all honesty, the food was lackluster, the decor was lackluster, the service was lackluster, but check out this presentation!!!

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That’s the summary of my random April tidbits. I should be back shortly with a more in-depth examination of other important food experiences of this past month.

What are you examining lately?

Wine, cheese, and bonus

Two weekends ago, we remaining NYU girls in the city finally managed to determine a time, date, and location when we could all meet. Because all of our schedules are crazy and opposite, this type of star alignment only occurs once every six months, at most 😦

We attempted an auto-timer group shot to mark the momentous occasion:

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And we’ve found a system that works — wine and cheese at rotating apartments! This time, we met at JQ’s place in the West Village — last time was Di’s apartment on the UES. But what really inspired me to break out the camera was this crazy cocktail that wound up in my hands courtesy of mixologist extraordinaire JQ:

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Prosecco with hibiscus flowers!!!! Don’t they look like little origami swans in my drink?

The beautiful and colorful array of healthy snacks that just kept growing and growing with plenty of crudites supplied by JQ, strawberries and baby pickles (that I brought!) …

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… Di’s famous ricotta + rosemary + black pepper + honey dip …

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… and more!

Once we had stuffed and wined ourselves silly, the night sort of devolved into an impromptu Photobooth extravaganza with the help of my Gorillapod securing the camera to the back of a chair and a self-timer programmed to take 10 shots in a minute and a half.

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And then we listened to songs on youtube and danced around like lunatics.

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I got back to Brooklyn a little after midnight and bumped into this random boyfriend of mine at the 12th Street Bar & Grill. Erik and Clare had stopped in there for a drink, but something quite noteworthy was underway.

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The people at the next table had brought in a pizza, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it looked like the most delicious thing to have ever alighted on earth. They noticed Erik ogling the pie and offered up a slice!!

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Brilliant generosity of this caliber just does not happen in Manhattan, let me tell you.

All in all, a satisfactory evening!

Do strangers ever offer you food?

A longer stroll

Approximately three weeks ago, Erik and I woke up before the crack of dawn at 3:45 am on a Sunday … on purpose. All according to plan, we left Park Slope at approximately 4:30 am and enjoyed an endless subway ride (with half of New York still drunk from the night before) up to East Harlem, where we met up with dozens of fellow morning-people-for-a-day, eager to begin our trip to Washington, DC to participate in the March for America to promote immigration reform.

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Our office had organized the trip for anyone interested in coming along, and I was all for it.

After a few hours of fitful bus-sleeping attempts, we pulled into a rest stop in Maryland for a stretch. Erik ordered a pecan caramel Cinnabon. I drooled.

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I may have had a few pecans, but really I stuck to this masterpiece: peanut butter, cinnamon, and banana sandwiched between two slices of Rudy’s.

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm …

With daylight well underway, we continued on for the final hourish of our journey.

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And then we arrived!

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There were tonnnnnnnns of people, and this was just to get on the Metro!

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We arrived at the National Mall a few hours before the formal speeches began, so we had time to observe all the action taking place around us.

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Erik got caught up in the emotion and the passion of the day:

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And then we continued observing:

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The speeches started just in time for me to need to escape from the crazy sun in order to avoid heat stroke. In a feat of semi-planned but mostly coincidental luck, we met up with Erik’s mom and stepdad who happened to be in DC that day, visiting from Minnesota:

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We set off on a mission with them to check in at the Capitol for progress on the health care reform bill.

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We couldn’t get close enough to find out anything (though we all know what happened by now!), so we headed back toward our group in preparation for the march.

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And then we marched!

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And made Tim Burton faces:

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But in all seriousness, it was pretty cool to be involved in this momentous event for immigration reform right alongside the people who need it most!

And as a side note, the houses on the marching street were so pretty. Anyone want to give me one of them?

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Hmmm, I just realized there was hardly any food in this post! The Cinnabon must have short-circuited my camera’s photographic capacity 😛

Have you ever been to DC for a march before? The last time I went was for the pro-choice rally with my mom and aunt when I was 5!

Out for a stroll

Once upon a time (like maybe a month ago?), my friend Becka came for a visit. Becka was my first friend at NYU. We met when I came to New York for freshman orientation, nearly 10 years ago.

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We spent many an NYU event getting full together, such as at our senior formal at the Hilton (see below photo, taken moments before we both had to leave the premises and head home due to explosion potential).

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Anyway, Becka moved back home to Minnesota after we graduated, and I hardly see her these days as a result! I was crazily excited when she and her boyfriend Aaron were in town last month.

We met at the Patsy’s in the village, an old favorite spot of ours, for a triple date with Erik, Gina, and Chris. I had not been planning to take pictures, but I got so worked up at the sight of these freshly baked rolls with olive oil and parmesan cheese that the camera was in my hands before I knew it:

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Mmmmmm, crusty bread with cheesy olive oil … not much beats it!

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Becka, Aaron, Chris, and Gina split a pizza and a beautiful platter of penne a la vodka. Action:

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Chatting ensued:

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I broke the camera out when my pizza arrived, and Becka leapt into photography mode, too:

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Erik and I ordered our pizza because we have really big appetites and don’t share food well with others 😛

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We ordered our pizza with extra sauce and half sausage. Mmmmmm, look at that meltiness!

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We did not face any challenges obliterating the food.

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After pizza, our full bellies decided a walk was in order. We somehow ended up at Cafe Dante. Hmmmm, how did that happen?

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Erik ordered a hazelnut gelato, and I helped myself 😀

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I also tried some of Gina’s hazelnut gelato rum ball …

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… and some of someone’s tiramisu …

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… and some of Becka’s cheesecake …

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… but mostly, I had my own individually French pressed Earl Grey tea:

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Yay for visiting long distance friends!

Have you taken any trips down memory lane lately?