Friday, April 30, 2010

VIP at the Dodgers - Mets Game

Wow, I didn't mean to go a quite so long with no posting. I've been working a lot lately and let my blog slip. Sorry. Luckily the adventures continue so you shouldn't be too disappointed with what I have to tell you about today.

Laura has a lot of cousins all very close in age. Her family has an Irish branch, a German branch and a Ukrainian branch and they seem to be all over the place. Anyway, one of Laura's second cousins is James Loney who plays first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I'll give you a moment to click the wikipedia link and go and see Laura's legitimately famous cousin's wiki page. Cool, isn't it? So this week the Dodgers played the Mets in a three-game series at the new Citi Field. Because most of the Ukrainian branch of Laura's family lives in the New York area, James' agent provided them with an executive sky box at the game! Laura's cousins contacted her parents and let them know that she was invited to come as well and I got to tag along! It was totally cool.

James in the dugout before the start of the second game

The weather was terrible for baseball. It was really cold and windy. The box had outdoor seats that had overhead outdoor heaters but they were kind of ineffective with the high winds. Luckily there was also an indoor lounge with sofas and big screen TVs. We weren't too fancy so we we went downstairs to get our hot dogs (Nathan's! Mmm!) and beers. I also got a Mets hat, even though we were there to see the Dodgers technically, because I love the Mets.

We were actually there during a double header because the previous days game had been a rain-out. We watched the last couple of innings of the first game and saw the Mets win 4-0. The second game was only a little better, with the Mets winning 10-5. The most exciting part for us was when James was up to bat in the 4th inning. The bases were loaded and there was a full count and the ump called him out on what was clearly a ball! Everybody in our box was on their feet anyway and we were all angry but then James was thrown out of the game for arguing the call! The umpire thought he was throwing his batting glove at him but James told us later he was just throwing his glove so the bat boy could pick it up.

Yep. That's right. He told us later, because we totally got to meet him after the game!!!!!!

Laura and me waiting in the Family Lounge

After the game we went down to the family lounge and waited a while with some people who were from other branches of James' family. We waited and waited and after a while he came in and we all got to meet him for just a moment before he got on the bus with his team. They had another game against the Mets the next day. He was tall and handsome and really gracious and told us about getting thrown out of the game and what a bad call it was. He brought a couple of signed balls for Laura's cousin who was having a benefit auction and he posed for pictures with us and then he had to go. It was totally cool. Did I mention how cool it was?

Heres's us and a Major League Baseball Player

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lower Manhattan and Staten Island Ferry

Yesterday I got to leave work at about 1pm. My friend Laura DeWitt texted me and we decided to meet for lunch/happy hour at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Atlantic Terminal. It was a beautiful day and this sounded like a terrific idea. When we were finishing up our wings Laura asked what I had planned for the rest of my afternoon and if I'd like to do anything in particular. I asked what was something good and New Yorky we could do. Laura suggested we take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry which is free and takes you past the Statue of Liberty. I was very excited because I've never seen the Statue of Liberty except from a distance from the Manhattan Bridge on the subway.

We went back to our apartments and changed clothes and then met again on the train. I'm so glad Laura lives in my area now! First she took me on a little tour of lower Manhattan. She showed me her old TriBeCa apartment, and took my by City Hall and the two courthouses where they film the scenes on the steps for episodes of Law and Order.

City Hall

U.S. Court of Appeals

United States Courthouse

Next we walked to the Ground Zero area. I had never seen Ground Zero and I also wanted to go to Trinity Church because I've recently seen a documentary that said that Alexander Hamilton was buried there. You can't really see anything in Ground Zero because its all high chain-link fences covered in plastic. You can only see cranes coming up from it. The crowds were also very thick because it was about the time when people were leaving work. Directly across the street from Ground Zero is Trinity Church's St Paul's Chapel. I wasn't sure this was the church I was looking for but we walked around to the entrance to see if we could get into the church yard and look for Hamilton. Instead we found that the inside of the chapel was a memorial to the September 11 rescue efforts. It was very moving and I really enjoyed the exhibit. Laura and I walked down the block a bit and found Trinity Church, which was closed. We walked a round and looked through the fence and I was able to see Alexander Hamilton's marker anyway.

Next we walked to the ferry, past Battery Park which was very pretty and green. The ferry was not too crowded and there were two open bays where you could take photos, if you are on the poor-man's tour like we were. Most of the other people near the bays were tourists speaking various European languages. I was happy to be riding the boat on such a pretty day and took tons of pictures of the Statue of Liberty at sunset!

Laura got one of me being me

Statue of Liberty

As our day drew to a close and we headed home I felt really achy and overly tired. I figured it must have been the mojito I had at BW3s but before I went to sleep last night I noticed I was feverish. This morning I woke up at dawn with a fever of 102!! I feel terrible but even worse, today was the big day we were going to finally go and ride the Wonder Wheel! I can't believe my bad luck. A weekend day off and the weather is beautiful and I'm sick!! I've taken ibuprofen and Tylenol and my fever is only down to 100. I hope that I can perk up enough to go to work tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fine Dining and Fine Company

Hey, remember my friend Rachel who attends Culinary school here in NYC? Well, she pretty much rocks. The other night she invited me to dinner at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. Blue Hill is a restaurant, located in an old speakeasy, that specializes in serving fine cuisine made with all local ingredients. The restaurant has its own farm where many of the ingredients are produced. Rachel is especially interested in the local food concept so she made a reservation as a culinary student in the hopes that she might have a chance to speak with the chef. Anyway I was lucky enough to get to go along because some other foolish soul cancelled on Rachel last-minute.

Blue Hill is by far the fanciest place I've ever eaten. The dining room was appointed in leather and mirrors, with a large vase of blossoming cherry branches in the center. It wasn't very large and seating was banquette style.

I enjoyed every minute of our meal. Rachel was such good company and we discussed the flavors, preparations, ingredients and presentations of each course. I learned a lot and really savoured the whole experience.

So the food. The menu was overwhelming so I told Rachel she could order for me. After ordering food just began to come to our table. First they brought us bread which was shaped like a bread stick and served in a glass cylinder, wider than a water glass. The bread came with three little dishes on a slab; one with fresh butter, one with carrot salt and the third with arugula salt. You pinched the salt and sprinkled it onto the butter. Rachel could taste the arugula but I thought both just tasted like salt and the butter was so good I didn't bother with them after a taste.

Next we got our first 'amuse bouche'. Amuse bouche is meant to be a taste of something, that you can eat in one bite, that experiments with texture and flavor and surprises the palate. Also it helps use up things you have too much of in the kitchen. Our first was 'asparagus burgers' which consisted of an asparagus relish or spread between two pieces of brioche which is a very sweet dense bread (kind of doughnutty to me). The burgers were no bigger than a golf ball and we were served one each on a slab of slate. Delicious and they were complimentary.

Next we were served some sort of meat slices that were really fatty and melted in your mouth. One slice for each of us, about the size of your palm. It was great but not as good as that asparagus burger thing! Next we were each served four bites of Grilled Spanish Mackerel with dandelion greens and ramps. This is on the appetizer menu but we didn't order it. I am pretty sure we were getting special treatment because of Rachel's culinary student reservation. The fish was delicious. The sauce had anise in it, and I picked up the flavor immediately to Rachel's surprise. Then I got really tickled with myself for knowing and recognizing a spice. Finally we received the appetizer we had actually ordered: This Morning's Pullet Egg which was a poached egg atop ramps with spec, which is a kind of cured meat, and brioche. It was delicious and rich and wonderful. This is the kind of restaurant you see on television where they served the dishes in the middle of a huge empty plate, on top of a smear of sauce, all stacked up and fancy. It always looks so tiny and unsatisfying and silly on television but the tastes are so rich and there are so many interesting things yet to taste, you don't want more than a few bites of any one thing. I understand the small portions now, though not so much the huge plate.

For our entrees the waitress recommended the Pig and the Chicken. Rachel had the Pig and ordered the chicken for me. Rachel's came with a piece of sweet potato that was cooked in miso and peanut butter. It was decadent. I am going to have to find a recipe that combines sweet potatoes and peanut butter because that is a flavor combination made in heaven! The chicken was served with a sauce of mushrooms and raisins. The breast meat was poached in buttermilk and it was out of this world, especially texture-wise. The thigh was fried crispy and delicious. I loved it!

When we got our dessert menus I noticed that cheese is considered a dessert. Rachel says that is common in France. We both noticed that one of the cheese plates comes with a Grayson cheese from Galax, Virginia!! We weren't up for an entire cheese plate but we asked for a small piece of the Grayson because we are from Virginia. It turned out to be stinky and very strongly flavored, not in a way I enjoyed. Oh well, can't win them all! Then we ordered the coffee cream which was a layered ice cream dessert served in a green glass jar. It was so creamy and delicious. While we were eating this the hostess came and invited us to the kitchen to meet the chef. The kitchen was BUSY and very small. The chef was young and listened intently to Rachel describing her culinary school career and interests while I felt completely in the way of all those cooks and waitstaff bustling all around me. Our trip to the restaurant paid of for Rachel though: She got the chef's contact information and an invitation to work as a shadow in the kitchen, watching and learning in a real restaurant and helping with some prep work! Yay!

When we got back to our table we had been served a fancy chocolate plate that had passion fruit truffles, cocoa covered almonds and coconut crusted, house-made marshmallows. The truffles were so strongly chocolate, and so tart at the same time, that both of us made faces while we ate them. They weren't bad, but you'd only ever need one bite of it. I finished the whole dining experience with the coconut marshmallow, which was the perfect punctuation to the entire affair. Delicious and perfect. Getting the bill was an entirely different feeling. Lets just say Rachel let me keep the ticket as a souvenir, especially since cellular phones and photo flashes aren't tolerated in the dining room. Too bad because I would have taken a photo of every last dish we got!

The meal was so satisfying and the whole experience was so rich and fun that I went to sleep that night smiling, and woke up happy the next morning.

Thank you Rachel!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moving to Brooklyn

No, not me. I already live here.

Laura DeWitt is in the process of moving from Queens to Brooklyn. I have been helping her and let me tell you, things haven't been easy! I agreed to meet her Tuesday to clean the apartment with her but when we got there we found that the electricity wasn't on. Besides being dark, the apartment had construction dirt everywhere. The walls were covered with a thick coat of dust and there were drops and smears of caulk and plaster in the brand new tub, kitchen sink, on the new tile and on the floors and windows. We cleaned a little in what light was left but then gave up and ate the cupcakes I brought.

Then yesterday I was going to meet her at 3 but before I left the house the bank called to tell me my atm card had been compromised and the only way I could get to my money was to go into the bank and withdraw some cash. Finally I got over to Laura's apartment but the power STILL was not on and it was already getting dark. By now she was getting REALLY frustrated and was playing phone tag with everyone on earth. I told her I was available all day today and to call me and I could even be at her apartment to let the electricians in.

This morning she texted me to let me know she had taken the day off work. She has movers scheduled for tomorrow and needed to have the apartment ready, with clean floors and power, for her things to be put in it and for her to stay there. I got there first and went to the dollar store and bought a sponge mop and a big bottle of Mr. Clean. I was determined to get that coating of dust off the walls before nightfall, power or no. Laura arrived and soon after the super and electricians came in. I mopped the floors and walls of the bathroom and then cleaned the kitchen cabinets. All the cabinets and fixtures in the apartment are brand new and very nice but everything is covered in this plaster dust and caulk. Its awful and it stinks for Laura that they didn't clean the thing before renting it to her. After the electricians left we realized that they had fixed the power, for ONE of the light fixtures and ONE of the outlets. So we could see what were doing, in the hallway and we could plug in the stereo. And that's it. The electricians never came back while we were there but we did get very much of the apartment cleaned and Laura had to head home to pack.

She is off to a rough start, but I hope Laura loves her new apartment in my same borough. From now on she'll only be TWO subway stops AWAY! I'm very excited.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

County Kids in the Big City

Last night after work Laura wanted me to go with her to a party in the Meatpacking District to celebrate her friend India's birthday. We both know India from college, but I also knew her from growing up in Shenandoah County. She grew up in Woodstock, but our moms had water aerobics classes together when we were kids. Anyway India lives in Brooklyn now too and she and her friends were out on the town in Manhattan to celebrate. By the time Laura and I got to Manhattan on the slow weekend subway service, they had ditched the bar where they had been and were heading to one of India's friends apartments nearby. We joined them on their way there and had a good time chatting and eating cookies. The company was very pleasant and the conversation good but the funniest part of the whole thing for me is that most of the people we met last night were from Woodstock. Most of them remember my mom as a fifth grade teacher or they knew my friends Sarah and Emily and we all had a good time talking about the County Fair. At first they were a little reserved about the fair. Some of them hadn't been for years and don't have the same deep-seated fondness as I do but after discussing the various wonders of the Shenandoah County Fair they all agreed that it was pretty magical and some even affirmed a desire to go back this year. I tried to drum up interest for an all-county happy hour sometime but the crowd seemed kind of lukewarm about the idea.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Art in DUMBO

I've had a couple of days off to catch up on sleep. Yesterday I swore I wouldn't do anything other than rest and eat. It felt good to lay around watching television until I started to feel bored and lonely. Bored, lonely but still tired.

Laura wanted to go for drinks after meeting one of her old college friends after work so I eventually did get up and shower. Then I got a voicemail from Sarah Humphrey asking if we'd like to go to an art exhibition she and her colleagues were doing in DUMBO. The exhibit was projecting the work of four different video artists onto the side of the Manhattan Bridge, with a reception at a bar called Rebar. Laura and I were up for it so we met Sarah there. We saw the videos both in the bar and projected on the bridge and enjoyed the wine and champagne.

Today I'm still feeling really tired. The only thing I really have to do today is get some groceries, there's nothing here for me to eat, but I am seriously putting it off. I don't want to do anything! Seriously!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


At the end of my Easter Vacation I made the choice to take the overnight bus back to VA and arrive the same morning as I was supposed to be back at work. That way I got an extra day with Jake and would just have to sleep what I could on the bus and stick it out at work on Wednesday. So at 1am on Wednesday I got on the bus and I arrived back here at 7am yesterday morning. I came back to the apartment and had a nap before I went in to work at noon. When I got up again and had my shower and coffee I was thinking it wasn't going to be so bad but when I got on the train I only wanted to lay down.

At the end of my train ride I get out at the 96th street station. It has been under construction since I began working up there. They have been building an above ground station in the median section of Broadway. Anyway when I got off the train yesterday morning the stairway where it had always been was covered in plywood and instead of going down it everyone was going up a stairway that didn't use to be there! I was so confused. I stood on the platform looking at the boarded up down staircase and looking back at the staircase up. Finally I followed the crowd up the stairs and out into the bright sunshine in the center of Broadway. Since the station is new the intersection was a mess as people who used to come out of the station on one side of Broadway or the other were now all coming up in the center and everyone had to cross the street. Once I had gotten my tired brain and body through all this newness and was headed down Broadway in the usual direction to work I thought seriously about going to a different stop to get back on the train. I didn't think I could handle all that again, as tired as I was feeling. Unfortunately for tired, mind blown me, when I got to work things didn't improve as they had rearranged the entire store! Everything that was on the left side was on the right side and vice versa! Also everything that had been in the window was gone, leaving much more visible through the windows and the upstairs area had been completely filled with frames on the walls. They even moved the clock. I felt like the world had moved a little, and like I'd been gone a LOT longer than 4 days! Geez!

Then I found out we had a birthday party scheduled for my shift.

Today I slept until 1pm. I'm feeling much better now :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Break

Yesterday morning while I was getting ready for work I tried to call my mom three times. By the time I got to work and had a moment to check my e mail she had sent this e mail:

haven't heard since sat. did you get back ok? Could not find recent blog. mom

Mom sends e mails like they are telegrams or something. She'd be great at texting if she got into it.

Anyway to ease my Mom's worried mind and catch everyone up HERE is a recent blog post.

I just got back from a wonderful holiday with Jake. I took the Chinatown Bus down to Richmond on Thursday night which was mainly uneventful, though very long. I got on the bus at 5pm and didn't arrive in Richmond until 1-something am.

Friday we got up late at Jake's grandparents house and headed to their rental condo at the Wintergreen resort. Jake's grandma had packed us tons of great food and instructions that we were to try out the grill and make sure it works. Ok, if you insist! Jake invited his friends Jason and Gordie over for grill. After eating we watched Jason's favorite movie, The Warriors, which is about 70s street gangs in NYC and culminates in a battle on Coney Island.

Saturday we came to Strasburg for my Grandma Betty's 80th Birthday party. It was really nice to everyone from that family and catch up. Everybody was really excited to hear about New York and wanted to come and visit. It was fun and Grandma really enjoyed it. She was surprised and some of her family members had come from far away just to see her. All her kids were in one place which doesn't happen often.

Jessie, Grandma and me at Grandma's party

After the party Jake and I headed up to my Dad's house on the way back to Wintergreen. We went out to dinner at Cracker Barrel for Markee's birthday and then went back to Dad's for cake and Trivial Pursuit. Dad also told us some really spooky stories about Jerome, where his family are all from. He told us stories passed down from his great grandparents and aunts and uncles about mysterious lights and sounds encountered if you went down by the creek at night. Jake and I really wanted to go out to Jerome and try to see scary lights, that is until we got in the car to go back out to the mountains for the night. Then I got seriously creeped out. Anyway, Daddy and Markee both stomped us at Trivial Pursuit and then we headed back up for the night.

Sunday we were supposed to go to Church but we didn't get up. We spend Easter relaxing together at the condo, playing cards and watching tv and just generally enjoying the quiet time. Monday was much the same but we did leave the condo for dinner at the Edge restaurant which was fabulous.

Tuesday we came down the mountain and hung out in Richmond until my 1am bus back to NYC. I wish it hadn't ended. I sure love VA and spending time with my family and friends there.