Big Apple Eats

I love being back in the North. The drivers are crazier, the rolls are pork-ier, and the proximity to my friends is at an all time high.  So, instead of planning a huge weekend that involves flights and taking off work, I can just hop in a car, then onto a train, and VOILA I’m in the city!  Since I saved all that money on flights, I figured that I’d spend it all on food.

Priorities, right?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of tasty treats in the Big Apple, and I take big bites.

First up, Flea Food Under the Archway from the folks that brought you Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg.

Yeahhhh buddy!

First up, Landhaus. Farm to Sandwich, this spot’s steak sandwich with cheddar sauce was flavorful and juicy, with a nice salty mouthfeel. I’ll admit, the potato chips were a little soggy, but the star of the show was the sandwich, and that’s what I was in it for, so I wasn’t disappointed. Next time, I think I’d like to enjoy their Bacon on a Stick. That just sounds orgasmic.

Up next: Brooklyn Oyster Party!

No party like an oyster party, right?

There’s the La-la-la-lovely Laura in the top left, nabbing us a fried oyster plate.

And then, on the bottom right, the oyster plate itself, complete with pickled onions and Old bay Aioli.  While I normally go for the raw oysters, these were practically bursting with tasty brine and the pickled onions added a fresh acidity to the mix. And you can’t really go wrong with aioli, right?

Right.

Later that night, inspired by one of my very favorite bloggers, Lauren of Sugar Coated Sisters, I made a rez for my brother and I at Mesa Grill.  Though her post is SERIOUSLY detailed and delicious, here’s a fun collage of my Restaurant Week Meal!

In no real order. Because this photo collage thing does crazy things to my pictures.

The appetizer (bottom right?): Fresh Tomato Tortilla soup with Avocado + Queso

The OTHER appetizer (NOT from the restaurant week Menu, but we HAD to get it!) (bottom left): Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla with Fontina, Ricotta, Fried Egg + Salsa Verde

The entree (Upper left): Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno filled with Roasted Eggplant, Manchego Cheese with Sweet Red Pepper Sauce + Balsamic Vinegar

Dessert (top right): Vanilla Bean Custard with Summery Berry Salad

Though I know that Lauren RAVED about the soup, I will have dreams about that Quesadilla and the Chile Relleno. Seriously, maybe I’m just a cheese fiend, but fontina, ricotta, manchego OH GOODNESS!! And topping a quesadilla with a fried egg?

BRILLIANT!!

My beverage of choice

I’ve already raved about the Chipotle Ale, but seriously, it was that good.

Birreria did me dirty

I have only see La Birreria completely swamped every time I’ve gone. Admittedly, I’ve only been twice, but both were in the middle of a weekday before work lets out, so I was surprised at the crowds (maybe everyone else is enjoying some funemployment like me?) When we asked for a seat for two for lunch, we were told that we could wait for 30-45 minutes OR check out the bar upstairs, which was standing room only. We opted for the bar, to at least grab a drink before lunch time.

When we reached the rooftop, it was hot, sweaty, and crowded, but a beautiful day. After spotting a small family getting ready to leave, we obtained a seat without hardly waiting at all. We ordered our beers, of which they had an excellent selection of Dogfish Head and house-brewed brews, and were offered some homemade bread made from the spent grain from their brewery (Upper Left). We didn’t try any cask beers this time, but next time I’ll be sure to.

Despite getting the text to let us know a table had opened up, we opted to keep our seat at the bar for the bonus of people watching and proximity to the bartender. I’ll say that the Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold was nothing to write home about, but all the other beers I tried were thoroughly enjoyed. For lunch, my partner and I ordered a cheese plate with gorgonzola, taleggio, and robiola bosina (Upper Right) which was served with a sort of honey hazelnut thing (Bottom Left). Along with the spent grain bread, this was the ideal dish before our “main course” the ProBusto sausage platter with coriander potato and mustard greens. While it seemed a little pricey initially, the sausage was more than enough for the two of us, and was plump and juicy (Bottom Left). Not usually a fan of mustard, this was especially fantastic to enjoy and the potatoes were so well seasoned and well mashed.

And now, I’m on an all salad and omelet diet.

Well, until Happy Hour tonight…

 

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Six Pack Sunday: Hot Towels and Taxi Cab Confessions

Sometimes, the stars and planets align, and it feels like everyone I love is in the same place.  This summer, I’ve got 2 cousins, 1 brother, and countless buddies living in the Big Apple so I couldn’t NOT visit at least once.  And while I’ll have some more specific posts coming, I figured I’d throw in a few bits and pieces for today’s Six Pack Sunday!

1. Hot Towel?

So I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually been to a fancy enough sushi spot to get a hot towel before.  And, apparently, neither had my brother.  The result? We looked at our tray of two steamy towels with confusion initially.  Luckily, my brother just followed his instincts and went with it.

Oh yeah

2. Tiny Teeth

What is this, a toothpaste for ANTS?!?!?!

Solid one use right there.

3. Hella Good

You know who I love? Robin Roberts of Good Morning America.

You know who I got to see IRL this weekend?

IN THE FLESH!

And yes, if you’re wondering “Jordan, did you yell out some sort of inappropriate compliment to her right in the middle of the No Doubt concert in Central Park?” the answer is a resound Yes.

(During a lull in music/conversation)

“Robin’s looking HELLA GOOD!”

#fangirl

4. The Rule of Chipotle

I’m a firm believer that adding “chipotle” to anything makes it better. Mayonnaise is great. Chipotle mayo is better.

Chocolate truffles are top notch. Chipotle chocolate truffles TAKE THE CAKE!

Chapel Hill is great.  Chapel Hill was even MORE great when they finally got a Chipotle (I’m generous with the rule).

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of this new-to-me beer:

Mama likey.

Rogue’s Chipotle Ale  was like a sexy, spicy party in my mouth. The aroma was inviting, like the slightest whiff of that smoky salsa you’ve been itching to try all day.  The taste had heat without being a flavor blast to the face.  True love.

Glad to know that my rule sticks true, even with craft beer.

5. Sorry I’m Not Sorry

Oh, hey stranger. You didn’t wanna be in one of my (zillions) of pictures from the concert?

Well that’s TOO DAMN BAD!

6. Taxi Cab Confession

If you’ve ever had HBO, you may have heard a NUMBER of taxi cab confessions.  This one’s a little different.

Oops.

This driver’s confession?

I don’t really know how to drive a taxi cab.

Oh, NYC, you never fail to amuse.

Fan of chipotle? How about Chipotle?

What would you like to do with a hot towel RIGHT NOW?

Pinup Themed Bachelorette Party, Anyone?

You know what I haven’t enjoyed NEARLY enough of in my life?

Bellinis.

Bellini Mix-ins!

Following the recipe of Food Network’s Italian heartthrob herself (You might know her as Giada), and with the aid of a SERIOUS Vitamix power house (courtesy of Renee, the hostess with the mostess), we whipped up a DIY Bellini Bar for my girlfriend Katie’s Pinup Bachelorette Party!

All we had to do was puree some fruit (frozen and/or fresh), add some simple syrup, and buy approximately a case of cheap champagne. VOILA!! Instant party! (and, alas, delayed reaction hangover the next morning… but that’s neither here nor there.)

The guest of honor was simply told exactly what to wear by her sister (the mastermind behind this amazing fete!), and when to show up.  And show up she did.

Classic Beauty Katie, all ready for a night out on the town!

Some presents were given, MANY Bellinis were consumed (my favorite combination: Strawberry Puree, a splash of cranberry juice, and lots of Extra Dry Andre. Because I’m classy like that), and the Goodie Bags contained CANDY CIGARETTES AND FAKE TATTOOS!!!

Probably the most fabric of any present given… gotta keep it relatively clean here.

I call it “StrawCrAndre”

Puffing… or maybe chewing.

After we were all lingerie’d out (if there is such a thing…), we Pinup Posed, and head out the door!

Fierce, yes?

Mother Nature, however, wasn’t in the mood to party.  She was weeping (maybe because Katie was off the market?)

Dear Sky – Please close, thanks. -JP

Luckily, our seats at Top of the Hill were indoors, so we stayed dry (for a bit).  I enjoyed their “Marco Polo” – tender ginger & soy braised Korean beef with fresh kimchi, cilantro & sweet onions salsa & creamy asiago risotto.

Kimchi MAY not directly translate to a bunch of cabbage, but delicious otherwise.

And then, it was onto the bars.

Lemondrops, anyone?

We soon realized that all we REALLY wanted was a cup full of sugar-covered lemons.  But beggars can’t be choosers. Or something, I don’t know.

Another drink, please.

That nameless drink where you can’t use your hands. Shhh.

We got to know each other better with some hilarious stories, and demanded that all bartenders play 90s music.

It was ideal.  Though the rest of the night was definitely snapped with the point and shoot, we’ll keep that stuff off the blog world. The evening ended the only way Katie and I know how to end any evening – Snacks. Namely a grilled ham and cheese sammy for me.

I’ll just leave on this note:

I make The Shades of Shame look GOOD.

Show me yo’ teeth!

What’s your favorite party theme?

This could be a new fav of mine…

Friday Five… Things That I Am Doing Instead of Packing

Ew.

I’ve said it before.  But seriously, moving is the worst.  And, as this is “the move that never ends,” it continues.  And it still is awful.

So here are five things I’ve been doing INSTEAD of packing/cleaning/moving stuff.

1. #PrincessProblems

Hello, beautiful.

Ogling tiaras at the local party store.  I know, my birthday’s at the end of August.  That has never stopped me before.

2. Oh, Don’t Mind Me

Umm.

I’m just the weirdo in the local grocery store not buying any groceries, but staring for a few moments too long at the helium-balloon that’s fading fast.  Poor little guy, he wasn’t ready for that helium shortage.

3. The Cupboards are Bare

Don’t mind if I do…

When you’ve either moved or tossed all the food in your apartment, you make due.  This little amuse-bouche is a mini hummus, ham, and provolone sammy made up of different samples at the store.  A tasty treat as I hunted for cleaning supplies.

4. Bears, Beets…

A Girl’s Best Friends.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!

That bag of Quakes?

Gone.

This empty apartment is like my own personal hunger games.

5. Stocking Up

What happens when a beer nerd realizes that she soon won’t have access to some of her favorite breweries?

I have no self control.

$50 later, I feel confident that I can wean myself off the NC stuff and the New Belgium I’ve grown so accustomed to having at my fingertips.

Thanks to the guys at Sam’s Quik Shop (THE place to get any/all craft beers in Durham, NC) for tolerating my slow, lamenting shopping trip as I absentmindedly picked at the hundreds of bottles at hand before deciding on a few choice bottles.

And a shirt.

I’m gonna rep it so hard up in Philly.

What do you do when you’re procrastinating?

Normally, I end up cleaning.  BUT what if I’m PROCRASTINATING THE CLEANING?!

 

Six Pack Sunday: Philly Recon

Hello there, strangers. Long time no talk. Or type. Or tweet. See, I’ve been working on a most-important mission.  That mission involves establishing one of the most basic of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: SHELTER!  Some of you may know that, starting this fall, I’ll be starting at UPenn’s Public Health program in the fall and, while the idea of commuting from the shore house is great in theory, I recognize that, in practice, it’d get ridiculous pretty fast.  Enter: the apartment hunt.

In my opinion, one of the more miserable experiences of life, the apartment hunt is a necessary evil.  This meant that the past few weeks have been spent scouring Craigslist, poring over real estate agent’s websites, and scampering all over Philadelphia trying to find a home.  Fingers crossed that my last application went through…  but goodness, what an adventure.  And that is now the subject of this week’s Six Pack Sunday.

1. Home: It’s Where I Want to Be

Hey there gorgeous!

Honestly, why WOULDN’T I want to live here?

2. Bubble Break

All that scouring can make a girl frustrated, irritated, and in need of a break.  So I took one.

Luckily, I met some new friends.

More on that later.

3. What on EARTH?!?!

Stop the presses.

WTF?!

You read that right.

Cowboy Monkey Rodeo.

Monkeys that ride on dogs. Rodeo style… At baseball stadiums.

Your guess is as good as mine.

4. Independence is Bliss

Philly’s got a bevy of public transportation options courtesy of everyone’s favorite frenemies, SEPTA.

And, when you have to take ALL Of them in one day, this is your best bet:

Independent as HELL!

The Independence Pass is great for unlimited travel on the SEPTA buses, trains, subway, and trolleys.  Headed to Philly for a jam-packed day trip? Invest in one of these! $11 gets you ALL over the city. I know this because (mostly on accident) I went ALL over that city (I’m still trying to figure out Express trains vs. Local trains, oops.)

Worth it.

5. NC Beer Repping in Philly

As if to remind me that, Yes, I have ONE more trip back down to NC before I’m officially moved out, guess what made an appearance on a tap lineup in Philadelphia?

Duck… Duck…. RABBIT!

My beloved Duck Rabbit showed up as a featured beer at Los Caballitos Cantina and I was tickled! That being said, since it was lunchtime and I was already treated to a tasty 20 oz brew by a buddy, I figured I shouldn’t indulge in another lest I miss any apartment viewings!  Better safe (and semi-sober) than sorry.

6. Celebration (Hopefully!!)

Many hours after we started…. I think we may have one.

We celebrated, regardless.

Cheers!

When faced with the opportunity to enjoy the pop-up Beer Garden at the 30th Street Station Porch, how could I say no?

I think I’m gonna like it here….

A Night at Wonderland (Pier)

Fact: The worst thing about moving is everything.

Scenes from the weekend. Fun, right?

Packing boxes is no fun, no matter who you’re doing it with, and after a weekend of loading cars, driving to and from North Carolina, sweating in the heat, and the early stages of a cold, I was feeling a little worse for wear.  And then, like a fairy godmother, my buddy Claire fluttered down from North Jersey to sprinkle my night with joy. And, having spent the past two days with her, I figured I should share a bit of our trip to Wonderland.

In case you’re not from around these parts, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier is the oldest amusement park in Ocean City. Considering there’s only one other (Playland), that’s not incredibly tough, but either way, it’s been a staple of my life as long as I can remember.  But then you get older, and your time on the boardwalk is spent scoping out dudes (or chicks or clothes or foods) and the rides can fall by the wayside.

Here’s a tip: Ditch the dudes, the funnel cakes, the neon colored tshirts – get thee to the rides, post-haste.

Keeping it classy

We couldn’t let ALL our adult vices go, though, so we started our evening with a nice sampling of some tasty craft beer, including this Hop Sun from Southern Tier. Though I’m not normally a fan of wheat beers, this brew was tart with an almost citrusy bite to it, and lacked some of the saccharine taste that I’m used to tasting in a lot of sweet wheat beers.  If you’re in the market for a refreshing summer beer, nab one.  Or a few, as we did.

After a few adult beverages, it was time to let the kids inside of us out to play.

LET’S DO THIS!

Moneybags Claire picked up 25 tickets (a BARGAIN for $20 [sarcasm]), and we made a plan.  First up: The Musik Express.

Safety first, buckling up

We decided to stay in separate carts because, as you know if you’ve ever been on a Musik Express-type ride, if you’ve got more than one person in the cart, someone’s getting squished.

Hard.

Though I did have a few buddies in my cart: my giant shins.

It was a WILD ride. Too fun, especially having the cart all to myself. We screamed like lunatics backwards and forwards, and came off a little loopy and ready for the next ride!

The BIG BOY!

It’s not like the Ferris wheel is a petrifying thrill-ride, but man…. it does allow for quite the view of Ocean City, NJ.

Though it felt pretty romantic at the top, we somehow resisted making out (though I did see a few capsules a-rockin’… we did NOT go a-knockin’).

Afterwards, we made ourselves sick and dizzy on Wonderland’s version of the gravitron… We were the ONLY passengers on the ride.  Bonus: Yelling as loudly as we wanted, and dancing like fools throughout.

Bird’s eye view of the ABDUCTION! Scared yet?

We rounded the night out the only way I know how.

At The Henna Shop.

I can’t resist

I’ve mentioned it before, but I used to work every summer during college at the Ocean City Henna Shops, and I can’t help but go back and get the bottle in my hand now and then.

Letting the kid inside of me out to play was just what I needed to (momentarily) forget about the grown-up issues looming ahead and behind (moving! student loans! apartment hunting! HOORAY!)  Bonus? HENNA HAND!

What childhood past-times do you still enjoy?

 

Happy Birthday, America!

A HUGE happy birthday to my favorite country in the world!

Yes, we sang to a nation. Jealous?

As evident by this layer cake (that you can hardly see since my iPhone pictures aren’t exactly DSLR quality) that my little sister slaved over all yesterday, my family’s a bit crazy about the 4th of July. And, when I asked my mom what her favorite part of the 4th was, she thought for a moment and said, “You!”

In my opinion, Independence Day is the absolute PERFECT holiday. You get off from work, you don’t have to buy presents, there’s grilled foods involved, I look great in red/white/blue, and, most importantly, fireworks!

Oh, heck yes!

So yes, maybe I planned every single outfit of my day months in advance to assure maximum patriotic fashion…

I hit up my new gym for a little pre-beach Zumba and, though my headband did scream “AMURRICA!” something was missing…

That’s the ticket!

Of COURSE! A red belly-dancing skirt totally completed the outfit and I sweat my face off shaking those silver discs as loudly as I could.

For the beach, I had something else prepared…

I call this my Freedom suit

I’m pretty sure Ryan has never loved me more than when I texted him this picture.

Walking on the beach, I definitely wasn’t the only one rocking the stars and stripes in bathing suit form, but I didn’t see anyone else with the matching headband, so I think I won.  What, you don’t think every day is a competition? That probably means you’re not winning.

The grand finale was a little number I’d been plotting for some time, and was happy to finally show off.

Beer and Bikes: Does it get more American?

The H&M dress that’s almost too short to qualify as a dress (and only cost me $18!) and the bright red patent leather Sperry’s which ran me about 40-50 at Nordstrom Rack. The result?

Americana.

God bless the USA, and all the fun clothes I get to wear in honor of it….

Did you go red, white, and blue yesterday?

What’s your favorite holiday?

Rolling (Uncontrollably) on the River (or How NOT to Whitewater Raft)

So the main reason I decided on the trip and itinerary we chose for Costa Rica was for the adventure of it all.  I saw the itinerary on Groupon and was immediately hooked on the idea.  Canyoneering, horseback riding, safari tour, hot springs, a waterfall visit, AND white water rafting?

Sign me up.

However, I don’t know if I was ready for all that jelly (Knowles, 2001).

See, the thing is, the guides from Costa Rica Descents were, for the most part, great. They were knowledgeable, they were skilled in the ways of the river, and they were mostly supportive.  Mostly.

When we got to the jump-off for the whitewater rafting trip, we were excited.  We were ready to rock!

Wahoo! Go team!

To the right of that picture is Alex (I think his name was Alex, that’s what I’ll be calling him). He was our lead guide on the adventure and, as luck would have it, chose Rachel and I to be his boat partners.

That’s right. Just the three of us. One raft. Let’s do it.

 After a brief (10-15 minutes) introduction to whitewater rafting (TOTALLY sufficient for class 3-4 rapids in a boat of firsttimers, right?), we hit the river rowing. Or paddling. Or whatever.

For the record, I consider myself somewhat athletic.  That being said…. I’m not very coordinated.  Oh well.

At first rapid, I thought I was doing pretty well.

We got this. Right?

We were jammed in the front of that boat, my legs sticking out, but I still felt like we had a grasp of what our guide was saying.

He, on the other hand, did not think so.

You can’t tell in this shot, but he’s judging me.

He started to tell me that, in my paddling, I was being a chicken. He said that if I didn’t start doing it right, I was really going to screw us up.  That being said, I was not really told what exactly I needed to change. Calling me a “chicken” and telling me to stop being scared does NOT equal guidance.

Now, those of you who know me might be aware of my extreme sensitivity.  In this post on all the junk I hate about myself, I talked about how I cry over EVERYTHING.

Being told that I’m a chicken who’s lousy at rafting and likely going to kill my best friend and a total stranger falls under “everything”.

I sort of LOOK like I’m doing it right, right?

Anyway, within minutes of hitting the water, I was already crying.  That’s right, the river guide made me cry and feel like a loser.  Awesome vacation story, right?  Don’t worry, it gets better.

Rachel suggested to not worry about him, so I did my best to put a brave face on.  I could do this.

Grinning and bearing it

Just call me Billy Badass

And then, we started approaching it.  The Class 4 rapid we’d heard so much about (sarcasm, he hadn’t told us anything about it).

This doesn’t look promising…

I felt like I was slipping. We hit the steepest drop and…. well.  A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here are a few for you.

Wait. This isn’t right. Right?

I held onto that paddle like it could do me any good. HA!

ADULT SWIM!

And in we went.

Don’t worry, I was still holding onto my paddle (wtf?)

Lifeline? Nope. Just a plastic stick.

Cue: Scariest experience of my adult life.

Cue: Only time I’ve ever truly thought to myself “Hey, you could die. Right here, right now.”

Cue: Attempts to breathe met immediately with river water.

Sweet drowning shot.

Luckily, there were kayaks along for the ride to help us if we got in a tight spot.

Oh, wait. The water was too rough even for the KAYAKS!

That’s cool, bros, row on by…

SEE YA!

I didn’t drown, don’t worry (though, if I did, I think ghost-blogging would be a sick career move). But I DID inhale quite a bit of river water (a little piece of Costa Rica to take home with me?) and I did end up with a NASTY bruise on my thigh, a cut on my ankle, a number of smaller scrapes, fear filling my heart, and a deep, deep wound to my pride.  As if the guide’s constant berating of my rafting skills wasn’t enough, I had to go and prove him right by almost killing us.

That’s SO Jordan.

Anyway, it was absolutely terrifying.  You’d attempt to breathe and, instead of air, you’d suck a giant gulp of water. You’d try to follow your guide’s instructions and get your legs in front of you, then you’d feel a rock drag your leg underneath your body, twist you in a way you never thought possible, and panic as you were turned around, spun by a combination of water and moss-covered stones.

Speaking of which, I’d like to give a big shout out to MOSS, my main man, which probably prevented me from sustaining any more injuries than the ones I did. It was like a tiny furry yoga mat on all the giant boulders, buffering my buffeting.  Finally, the other boat caught up to us and I was hoisted out of the water by my trusty lifejacket.  At this point, I was uncontrollably crying my eyes out trying to remind myself that I wasn’t dead.

Petrifying? Yes.

But we made it out.  And, though there were some close calls…

NOT AGAIN!

But we stayed in the boat for the rest of the trip.  Despite the horror, I ended the day with a big smile on my face.

You’d never know what had happened earlier…  But Rachel knows.

It was probably the knowledge that a heaping plate of rice, beans, porkchops, and yucca chips were waiting for me around the corner.

How about you, any near-death experiences in your life?