Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas is fun

It has been a long long time since I posted...Here's what's been happening.

1. Nick and Gina came to stay with us!

IMG_1619

2. Isaac's fellow Alaskan friend Jacob came to stay with us!

IMG_1617

3. The subway and bus drivers went on strike.

4 We took a Metro North train up to the Bronx Zoo anyway! Yay!

5. No one was there, not even to take our ticket money. All field trips were cancelled and it felt like it was just us and the tigers. And baboons, and giraffes and bison, and sand cats, and sloths, etc. We had a great time. This baboon didn't like us.

IMG_1605

6. Then we had dinner at our favorite spicy Chinese place.

7. Many spicy food lovers came, including poor Tiffany who had to walk about 5 miles to get to the restaurant.

8. Look at this adorable sweater I forced her to let me photograph.

IMG_1623

9. The next night was a party at our place for Isaac's birthday. Lots of things were made, including stuffed mushrooms, pulled pork arepas and deviled eggs (by Jacob who put them on a bed of lettuce, an amazing innovation that none of us would have considered). Yum. Also Tiffany gave us a chocolate pannetone, and it was so good.

10. Nick and I took pictures but neither of us have uploaded them yet.
11. We hung out in the apartment on 12/22 and watched movies and ate junk food. I tried to finish the first season of Lost, but didn't have time before it had to go back to the library.

12. Jacob flew back to Wisconsin on 12/23 and we took a bus to Maryland.

13. The bus was kinda broken.

14. Bus stopped in Jersey City for attempted repair.

15. Bus stopped in Trenton for actual repair.

16. We got to Maryland, only 2.5 hours late. And thank God we had the leftover chocolate pandoro/pannetone to get us through it.

17. Christmas Eve we went to Mass and did a big meal and then opened presents. Because my sister Beth is going to her in-laws for Christmas Day.

18. I got a purse, socks, gloves and two cookbooks! Yay! And some adorable mug-shaped candle holders.

19. Isaac got an Ipod holder for his fancy Ipod (i'm so jealous, it was a gift from his dad (of the ipod not the holder, I got that for him)).

20. Isaac got a newish version of Civilization.

21. On a related note, Isaac stayed up until 5am two nights in a row.

22. We went to dinner in Baltimore with Katie and Russell last night. It was in Hampden, which is like the Brooklyn of Baltimore - Bawlmer hipsters everywhere. They had a sign up in the restaurant about a Flickr photo exhibition that was happening there. There were some really cool photos.

23. Tomorrow we leave for Arizona!

24. We will see the Grand Canyon and I will try not to fall into it.

25. Then we will see lots of Isaac's family members and eat too much with that side of the family. Maybe we will light a menorah or something too, I'm not sure.

26. Merry Christmas! (aren't there still 9 days of Christmas left?)

Friday, December 16, 2005

computer guy, i hardly knew ye

I was just coming back from a library run, and I saw the computer guy who saw my 20 GB of mp3s. I was all happy to see him like he was my best friend, after all he did sit at my computer for hours and hours backing up my stuff and then reinstalling it all. Then I realized it was just the forced intimacy of him seeing all my most guilty pleasure mp3s. But then I realized, hey, he was out there smoking a cigarette! Now I feel all disappointed in him, my good friend, the computer guy*. Don't die an early death computer guy, we have all these memories to share, remember the good times. Remember when you told me you found the CD for my chemistry drawing program after all. Oh, what laughs we had.

*PS I know I'm shamefully judgemental about people smoking, but it's only because I care. Oh, and I hate the way it smells. Please forgive me.

Christmas anticipation!

Merry Christmas! I am feeling very Christmas spirity after listening to Sufjan's Christmas music all day. We also attended a noon recital by Kitka. They are a women's vocal ensemble and performed a bunch of "wintersongs" from various Slavic and Balkan countries. Mostly Christmas carols (not that the languages were intelligible to me or Isaac or Nick) and some pagan-y winter songs too. It was a really nice program, full of beautiful harmonies and some touching music.

Now it's time for my lab's annual holiday outing. We are going out for dinner and maybe to a bar (!) afterwards. We are not used to socializing together (they don't come to happy hour, that's Isaac's lab) so it's always interesting and usually a lot of fun once people loosen up a little...but not too much!

Also, Nick is here! We are abandoning him to go to our lab thing tonight, but hopefully we will catch up with him later at Eric's place for drinks. Eric is the cellist/underwater photographer mentioned previously and his birthday was yesterday.

Happy wintry weekend!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

a more gendered evening than usual

Last night Isaac and I went our separate ways....Him to watch Monday night football and have all-you-can-eat-and-drink beer and wings and me to the Metropolitan Opera. I guess that this is the way that plenty of couples do things. They have separate interests and do things independently. Other husbands regularly watch sports and go out with "the guys" and God knows what else they do. Other women have "girls' night out" and can't get their husbands to see chick flicks, etc.

Which reminds me, someone asked Isaac in front of me what movies we had seen lately, and I realized that the string of films we have seen in the theater this year is pretty much the girliest list of movies you could come up with. March of the Penguins, Just Like Heaven, Pride & Prejudice. Even Isaac couldn't quite admit to the new guy in the lab that he saw Just Like Heaven.

Anyway, the opera was quite interesting - it was An American Tragedy, a new opera by Tobias Picker. I met Tiffany and some other ladies there. First of all, it's much better to go to the opera with Tiffany than without Tiffany. Partly because Tiffany is fun, and partly because Tiffany can buy student tickets! Student! This means that instead of paying $26 to sit in the nosebleed section, I could pay $25 to sit in the orchestra section. Actually, it meant that Tiffany paid $25 for me to sit in the orchestra section because I just realized I totally forgot to pay her for my ticket and she is too polite to demand her money. I'll get you later Tiffany.

Caveat big time: I'm going to talk about this opera and what I thought of it, and I hope that you will forgive my ignorance, and anyone who knows anything about opera should feel free to: a) skip this altogether, b) forget you ever read it or c) express your own opinion to counter my uneducated one.

I wanted to see this opera because it's new and people had some pretty different opinions about its merit, but also because, I admit, I really really wanted to see Nathan Gunn in the leading role. I saw Mr. Gunn and his lovely wife (pianist) at a recital last year. He had a wonderful voice, and wonderful stage presence, but also, he was completely adorable. One might say hunky. His wife was also adorable. And then I read on Alex Ross's blog about An American Tragedy, and saw where he linked to some very beefcakey pictures of Nathan Gunn, I was sold on seeing the opera. When he came out in his little bathing costume, the whole audience gasped.

nathan bathing costume

The performances were really stunning, from Susan Graham (she really blew me away) to Dolora Zajcik playing Gunn's mother, to Nathan Gunn to Patricia Racette and the guy playing Gunn's cousin (william burden). All these singers were amazing, I thought. And some of them (Gunn, esp) were good actors too. But in terms of the music, and individual scenes, I was conflicted. At several times during the performance, there would be action happening on more than one level of the stage (it was a multi-story set) and there would often be more than one person singing on each level, with lyrics that would overlap and often conflict. To me, this device was really wonderful at some points in the story (e.g. the duet between Sondra and Roberta, each offering a different view of married life with Clyde, the Nathan Gunn character) and other times it was just annoying and didn't seem to have any real purpose except to be confusing and beef up the modernist credentials of the composer or something.

Also, the music in general, if I were just listening to the orchestra, I really don't think I would have liked much. Especially the main character, Clyde's, music. It's supposed to be "the most complex" because he's the most complex character supposedly. But it's just not that engaging. At least not on first hearing. Not the way that Clyde should be. He's supposed to be an extremely physical presence (yes good casting) and really charming and compelling. But I don't remember feeling that come through in his solo pieces at all.

I can't really comment on everything I thought about An American Tragedy, but I'm extremely glad that I saw it, and I'm looking forward to the spring and seeing some other performances. I'm also looking forward to seeing Alex Ross's review in the New Yorker...

umm, that funky monkey?

Apparently the operating system on my computer at work had to be reinstalled and all my data will be lost. Luckily, the IT guy brought along an external hard drive to back up all my stuff before doing the wipe. But I guess he wasn't expecting my 20 GB of mp3s...so he didn't have enough room. When he explained this to me, I said, oh, that's okay, I have almost everything backed up already. And my face was really red because it's clear that I'm spending way too much time grooming my itunes collection. But he had to show me what didn't copy onto the hard drive, "it looks like it ran out of room when it got to the Beastie Boys..." Redder and redder I got. Also noticed were my Enya, Abba, Gaelic Storm (don't worry, i've got it backed up, stacy) and various Hindi film songs. Somehow this strikes me as kind of invasive. The forced intimacy of this guy going through all my music files... eek. I don't think he noticed my Two Live Jews collection, or at least I'm telling myself that.

dinner parties are the best parties

Not to gloat or anything, but I've been having a pretty good week. Knock on wood.

Thursday night, as I mentioned before, Isaac and I joined Mai, Li-Ling, and I-Chen for a four course dinner presented by Tiffany. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few thousand...

Before the first course, Tiffany made us these little amuse bouches. They consist of some chopped up shrimp and some minced green vegetable (was it chives?) on top of a fried slice of lotus root. It was delicious.

IMG_1494

On to the soup course, which was made of three (!) different squashes, butternut, acorn, and yellow. There is also some cayenne pepper and cracked coriander seed in here, which was absolutely delicious.

IMG_1495

This was Mai's favorite dish, and she kept going back for more and more...

IMG_1502

IMG_1503

Then we had a salad with fennel, grapefruit, black olives and some pomegranate seeds thrown in. Yum yum yum. I can't remember what the dressing had in it. It was so fresh and light and I loved the sharpish fennel, but cut through with the saltiness of the olives it really "worked". And the pomegranate seed addition was a stroke of genius.

IMG_1497

Then we had a little break from eating while the next course simmered away. This picture tries to answer the question, how many people with some knowledge of Japanese does it take to read the little card that came with Tiffany's bottle of sake? The answer is, more than four. Actually, I think they figured out that it had something to do with a date of expiration.

IMG_1506

Then it was time for porcini mushroom risotto with a balsamic vinegar syrup, the recipe for which has already been posted by Tiffany. This was so delicious! Especially with the balsamic syrup.

IMG_1510

This one was Li-Ling's favorite and she had to have seconds...actually we all had seconds, so she was having thirds or something. Also, she tried to sneak some pomegranate seeds onto her risotto, an unauthorized use which got her a little reprimand.

IMG_1515

Finally, it was time for dessert: Pandoro! I've always been too afraid to eat cake that comes in a box and sits on the shelf. Just the shape of the box intimidated me. But this was so so good. The chocolate one is supposedly even better. I took the picture before the powdered sugar went on top, unfortunately. Yum. We kept having more and more - I must have had four plates of it.

IMG_1526

And that was dinner at Tiffany's. Then we hung out some more and under the influence of the wine, I forced Tiffany to pour me some scotch (maybe not the best idea in retrospect) and then in the scotchy glow, had to have some sake. Can you say, take a cab home? But before that, Tiffany let Isaac play some of the piano thing he's been working on, and gave some constructive criticism. Then she played some more Schubert (it was Schubert, wasn't it?) for us, and we went home feeling all happy and as I said before, I got to spend the whole next day thinking about what a great evening we had.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

pictures and holiday rushing

Thursday night Isaac and I met up with the G-quartet members and groupies (that's you and me, I-C) for a wonderful four course dinner prepared by Tiffany. I have pictures of every course and everything was so good. Mai and Li-Ling had their favorite courses, of which seconds (and thirds) were demanded and received. Tiffany can actually cook things while people are present, and she got everything ready while we sat at the table in her kitchen (don't we sound lazy? we tried to help) I can't really concentrate while people are in the room. I guess it's also true that our kitchen doesn't have any seating.

Anyway, this post is really to say that I wish I had time to put up the pictures right now, but we have to go to Century 21 to buy my husband some new pants. You don't want to know what he did to the pairs we got last year. And then we are going to be rushing back to the apartment to get our bushel of wine, to get to Penn Station and catch a train to NJ for the extended family party. Even though it's only been two weeks, it will be great to see my mom and dad and Beth and Glenn again. And of course all the aunts and uncles and cousins.

All right, I'd better dry my hair for this special day!

Friday, December 09, 2005

what's going on?

I had to come home from work to wait for a FedEx package (isaac's birthday present from his sister!)

And the toilet just flushed all by itself. Eeeeee. I don't like that.

I feel a little better since I remembered there is some weird stuff going on with the water in general around here. The kitchen faucet had no water, but now it does, etc.

I'm never creeped out in my apartment, but just for a second there, I was looking for boogymen in the closet and stuff.

Downstairs across the courtyard neighbors: An Encounter

I don't think I need to remind my few readers of the obsessive voyeuristic interest that Isaac and I have directed towards our downstairs across the courtyard neighbors. We have gathered information on these people like it was our job. Friends visiting the apartment must observe the neighbors, like they are a tourist attraction.

So imagine my surprise when I walked over to Isaac's lab the other day and found him deep in conversation with the guy from downstairs across the courtyard! Apparently the guy (TOM) is a grad student in our building. Not surprising since our housing is through work. But it was surprising to see him on our floor because it is a big place, and they keep the 1 floor of chemists safely segregated from the 12 floors of biologists, with a no-man's land of mice in between. That way if we start a fire, everyone else has time to get out. I really think that is the reasoning...

Anyway, here is the conversation I walked in on.

Isaac: ....so in case you need to come back and get this Buchner funnel i'll just leave it right here...

Tom: okay, thanks. Hey I think we actually live in the same building....303....

Isaac: (oblivious and not recognizing him) What? We live where?

Tom: You know...303?

[I start sending urgent psychic message to Isaac, forseeing his imminent recognition of the guy and how he will spill the beans that we know exactly where he lives and what he's been eating, drinking and watching on TV with his cute woman and dog and cat. Sadly the psychic message failed to penetrate.]

Isaac: (light goes on) OHHHH! You live on the...

Tom: (trying to clarify) We are the people with the dog....

Isaac: ....second floor across from us, and you have a cat too!

Tom: (nervously laughing) Oh, uh, how much can you actually see through the windows?

Isaac: (going on oblivious the my desperate psychic signal of secrecy and tact) Oh, we can see the people on the first floor who live under you too. They have a little boy and he just got a toy racetrack with cars that go really fast... I guess it's a lot easier to see down than up!

Tom: Uh, yeah, well, see you around...

Embarrassing! Oh, well, they haven't pulled the shades or anything, so I guess it doesn't bother them to be observed in their natural habitat. Tom really did seem like a very nice and friendly guy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

some peoples blogfriends are more fortunate than others and by more fortunate I mean richer

Isaac and I are trying to get ready for the company (Nick, Gina, Jacob) that will be staying with us pretty soon. To that end we wanted to get a new futon for our place. The one we have now is 7 years old, and pretty far past its prime. We saw a flyer up in our work building - people are always moving away after only a couple of years, leaving furniture in their wake. So we met up with this nice Spanish guy who is moving back home to Barcelona and selling his futon. He escorted us back to his apartment on Roosevelt Island so that we could inspect the merchandise.

We took the tram to the island, which has a really lovely view. You can see the pictures that someone else took of their trip on the tramway here. At night, you ride past all of these beautiful expensive high-rise buildings, and Isaac and I gawked at their opulent interiors. You know how we like looking at people in their apartments...people in big apartments with expensive stuff is more interesting and more boring at the same time. Most of the people are still just sitting on their couches with their laptops on their laps. But what about your plasma projection super-wonder entertainment system? Nope, they are all just blogging or something. So that's how the other half lives!

Then last night Isaac had some nice people come over to our place and they played some string quartet music while I read my books and baked bran muffins. It was really great, especially since they played something of a familiar favorite of mine (Beethoven Opus 59 No 2). The musicians were Mai and her friend David, and Isaac's college friend and cellist Eric. Eric is in town for a 3 month computer programming gig. He also works in underwater photography. He helps lead dives and travels all over the world (mostly the South Pacific I think). But the real point of mentioning Eric is that he is a longtime blogger. Like since before they were called blogs. I don't know if he does call his online journal a blog. But that's what it is. So anyway, he's been doing that for a long time.

In fact, one of his blogfriends happens to be a guy who he's staying with for his time in New York. And where does this guy live? In one of those fabulous high-rise buildings that we passed on the tram. Turns out Eric's blogfriend worked his ass off for 7 years as an investment banker trader working for a hedge fund. Now he's semi-retired at 35 and traveling all over taking pictures of fish underwater. The blogfriend's apartment is huge and Eric has his own nice big room.

Well, isn't that nice? Maybe I'm just being materialistic (I guess I'm really getting into the holiday spirit!) but, for your sake and mine blogfriends, I wish we were all independently wealthy. I wish I could put you up in a palatial New York flat (or a brownstone maybe?) etc.

In other jealousy news, Eric ventured an estimate of how much our google friends are worth. Holy holy holy moly. That's all I have to say about that.

And now I'm going to Tiffany's place for a wonderful dinner. Hopefully she will let me take pictures of the food, if not of her outfit. :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

blog-block

Hello Monday!

I was trying to think of what our weekend was like, and thought of that song, "everybody's working for the weekend" and thought "everybody's working on the weekend". It was a work-weekend. We are about to have a lot of nice things happen though which will take us away from work, so I will not complain too much.

In the next couple of weeks:

1. Tiffany is going to make a (sure-to-be) delicious dinner for the music people at her place.

2. My dad's side of the extended family is having a holiday party in New Jersey. (does anyone have a good grab bag gift idea for such an event?)

3. Nick and Gina are coming to town.

4. Brian is coming back from Chicago for about 48 hours and I will get to see him for a brunch-length portion of them.

5. Tiffany and Isaac will turn 30 within 3 days of each other and we will have:
a. Birthday dinner for Tiffany
b. Joint birthday dinner for T&I at our favorite chinese place
c. Birthday party for isaac at our place

6. Isaac's best childhood friend is coming from Wisconsin to celebrate too!

7. Then it's Christmas and New Year's traveling again.

In the meantime/intertime, we are trying to live the least spendy, least piggy-eating, most hardworking life we can manage, to allay future guilt. I even started logging my food again.

PS It snowed here yesterday morning! Our first snow of the year. So exciting, especially since we don't have to drive anywhere. Then we went outside and it was all slushy already. boo. But it's supposed to snow some more tonight and tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

isaac and baby know-how

Isaac and I have a couple of friends who stayed in our New York apartment while we were on our honeymoon. In fact, they got knocked up on our honeymoon. That makes it a little easier to remember how old their little girl is! I could swear that I have blogged about this before, but I can't find the evidence. Isaac had a really funny phone conversation with Anya, the baby mama, shortly after the blessed event. I only heard his side of course...

Isaac: So, how's everything with the baby?

Isaac: So can she recognize you yet? Can she actually focus her eyes on you?

Isaac: Oh...uh-huh...

Isaac: So what does the baby look like? What color are her eyes?

Isaac: Oh, oops, I didn't realize all babies are born with blue eyes...(laugh laugh)

Isaac: So are you making your own baby food?

Isaac: You are! That's great! So what kind of stuff are you making? Pureed peas, bananas?

Isaac: Ohhhhhh, that's what you meant? (Lots of uncontrollable laughter)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Even though you probably won't see this...happy 31st anniversary!

Done giving thanks, now we can start whining again.

Actually I can't think of anything to whine about right now. Oh yeah, we went back to work today. Even that didn't seem so bad, we had such a nice vacation with my family in Maryland.

1. Wednesday - Took the 7:30 am "Chinatown" bus to Maryland. Our bus driver was more than a little upset with some poor people who couldn't print their tickets when the server went down. But we beat all the traffic, to Isaac's great pleasure. My brother picked us up from the McDonald's near the bus stop (that's where the "chinatown" buses stop, right after making a u-turn in front of a huge no u-turn sign). Everyone but my brother was working... So Isaac and I hung out much as we usually would at home. I commented on blogs, while he played the piano. Except there are much better snacks at my parents' house...the cereal, the wheat thins, the cold cuts and potato salad...

IMG_1481

Also, we communed with the family pets...Cleo the boxer and Puja the cat.

IMG_1485

IMG_1482

Then my mom came home and Katie and Russell came over and we had baked ziti!

2. Thursday! We got up a little early, to help my mom with the Thanksgiving dinner. Then we did some calculations and realized that the new convection oven could cook our big turkey in approximately 30 minutes, so all the getting up was unneccessary. Mom was already up so we sat and watched her peel some sweet potatoes. Way to go Mom! Just kidding, I really did help. I peeled potatoes and put together the green bean casserole, and made the sweet potatoes so spicy that they were almost but not quite inedible to my family members! In my defense, they got hotter once we cooked them.

Here was the spread!

IMG_1486

Isaac made this stuffing which we debuted at our Givikahmas party last year. It requires lots and lots of mushrooms, and this year we halved the butter (to a very healthy one stick) - I'm glad he talked us into making it. My family is very attached to our Pepperidge Farm/Arnold stuffing. We still had the Arnold with our leftovers. That's its own kind of good...

IMG_1489

I guess I caught these guys off guard. But I didn't take enough pictures so it's still going up. (When Russell gets a blog he can post unflattering pictures of me.)

IMG_1488

3. Friday - My mom woke me at 4:50am. I came downstairs to brush my teeth and she already had her coat on! I got ready as fast as I could and we went to meet my sisters at (where else?) ...J.C. Penney. This was the careful choice after hours of examining circulars and coupons and "doorbuster" offers. We tried to write a list of what we needed to buy, and strangely enough, all of us needed to buy things pretty much only for ourselves. We tried in vain to get the men to look at the circulars and express delight or even interest in any one of the shiny objects portrayed there (OMG, how can you NOT need a crockpot for only $7.99!!!!????) but they were in very uncooperative and unconsumery moods, led by Russell, who now has a mortgage. So we got purses, wallets, socks, shoes and other girly things.

In the afternoon, Isaac and I rewatched Gosford Park, and then we all went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!!! Sadly, Isaac and I still liked it the best of everyone. I think Katie liked it still, and my dad claimed to like it, but the other people who hadn't read the book didn't have very favorable impressions. My mom especially was pretty down on the ending. She didn't like the dark stuff.

Then we came home and had leftovers and I collapsed into bed since I didn't take a nap after shopping.

4. Saturday! In the morning, we brought some bagels over to Russell's new house to meet up with him and Katie and Beth and Glenn. They have already done so much to fix it up! It has beautiful wood floors, and a really great open space from the front room to the dining room/kitchen area. Here are my sisters! I know that Beth specifically said not to put this picture on my blog, but really I didn't take enough pictures, so I will have to pretend I didn't hear her.

IMG_1490

Look at Katie's cute fall bath towels hanging in the bathroom. She is about to change them over to Christmas. Also, we got a chance to meet Phoebe, that's Beth and Glenn's puppy (she's 8 months old). Phoebe is a little....rambunctious. She had a really good time playing with Baci (Katie and Russell's dog) and boy does she put out a lot of slobber.

Then before we knew it, it was time for us to drive to meet Lynne and Zak!!! We were so excited, and soon we were there, in a really nice neighborhood. I had to keep myself from running up the stairs, because I didn't want to meet them all out of breath, but I was so excited to get there! We really did have so much to talk about. Then Zak drove us to an adorable Scottish pub in the neighborhood, and we had really really good pub food. The fries alone at this place were so delicious. And Isaac and I shared a draft Belhaven, yum. We aired various obscure Harry Potter theories, and the waitress overheard us talking about HP, and told us she had already seen Goblet of Fire twice, to which Isaac and I were able to say, us too! To prove we were really there, here's a picture of me and Lynne. Somehow the menfolk escaped the eye of the digital camera.

IMG_1491

Then we went back to Lynne and Zak's and talked politics and big pharma and in-laws and sports, and generally solved all the world's problems and made ourselves rich at the same time. It was amazing. Then Isaac drove us home, and we basked in the happy glow of having met some truly nice and special people.

5. Sunday we took the bus home. My neck is still feeling the effects of the nasty bus ride.

Other things I somehow didn't fit into the day by day breakdown.

a. It's really hard to keep a straight face when your mom asks, "so what do you write about on your bog anyway?"

b. Best moment at Lynne and Zak's was when Zak asked Isaac if he played fantasy football at work, and Isaac answers that there isn't enough room with all the chairs and equipment in the way.

c. I got a lot of pleasure out of hearing Beth say that she thinks my blog is funny, but even more when she picked out the same wallet that I did at JC Penney because I'm that paranoid about my taste in everything. Awww.

d. I'm so glad that I will see everyone again so soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are leaving work to grab dinner and then...Harry Potter, here we come!

Tomorrow morning we leave insanely early to take a bus to MD. Trying to beat the traffic and the nasty weather that is supposedly headed our way.

Hope everyone has a great holiday! I want to see pictures of happily eating bloggers, even if the pictures just consist of people eating fat-free cool whip straight from the tub (you know who you are).

Love,
Christine

Some birthdays require more fun than one day can provide.

We have been having a very social few days! On Saturday night we attended the first of Mai's birthday festivities...her birthday was yesterday! Happy birthday Mai!

We went to a wine bar, which turned out to have smaller portions of food than anticipated causing us to order lots and lots of small and not particularly cheap plates. So it cost more than expected, which made me feel guilty since I had suggested the place despite never having been there. I somehow thought it would be inexpensive, since the wine store associated with this wine bar lets you taste 5 wines for $5. I guess that's because you are in the STORE, and will buy wine eventually. On the other hand, I think that everyone was having a really good time until the bill came! I thought the company was worth every penny!

We got to meet some of Mai's other friends which was fun too. There was a lawyer with his girlfriend who is an unemployed lawyer. When she found out we were chemists, she had many questions about making high quality ecstasy. Seriously, she could not stop talking about it. So funny. Then Mai outed me as a blogger, (at the time I thought that was bad, because what if I wanted to blog about those people, but then I thought, well who cares, I'm still going to write about them, and now it's almost like they had some warning!) So the girlfriend and I talked about blogs. I asked which ones she read, and she said mostly lots of infertility blogs. That's kind of how I started reading blogs too, and I thought it was funny since neither I nor this woman has ever tried to get pregnant or anything. But both of us are convinced that we will be infertile. Infertility is so common! Or at least in the blogging world it is. Right.

There were other Mai friends there, including this intriguing guy who I didn't talk to at all, but Mai told us later that he is actually a professional Hitch. You know, like the Will Smith movie... He takes well-off, professional guys who need help with the ladies, and takes them shopping, out to bars, etc and will help them meet women, sometimes demonstrating how they should try to pick up a girl. He was good-looking (corroborated by Li-Ling) so that probably doesn't hurt. Didn't you think that job didn't really exist? Well I guess this guy makes a ton of money doing the Hitch job. I wonder how he got into that line of work.

To continue with the all Mai's birthday all the time theme - last night, she had planned an ice skating/Korean food outing. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate with the ice skating plans. Isaac and I still showed up, and actually waited by the ice skate rental door for about 20 minutes, we were still gung-ho and ready to get on the ice!

IMG_1474

Finally we got in touch with Mai, and she was cozying up in the Ice Cafe, which was very cutely decorated with paper snowflake motif wall hanging thingys. Isaac and I had hot chocolate which came with a candy cane inside, and then Tiffany joined us. Here are the lovely Mai and Tiffany trying out their frigid ice princess expressions.

IMG_1475

Oh, Mai decided to smile after all...and look I did get a picture of Tiffany's beautiful top. I think that she said as long as I don't cut off her head anymore I'm allowed to post her as my "fashion DO" model. It's kind of hard to see the detail in this picture though I think.

IMG_1476

So, deciding to come back some other time for skating fun - we headed to Korean food. Yum. The restaurant was Kum Gang San - named after a super-famous (at least among Koreans) mountain range in Korea. It features, along with good Korean food, a fake mountainside cliff with a white baby grand perched on top. Along with some other kind of more Korean looking instrument. Here is a picture that will give you the idea.

interiorView

Another Mai friend, Julia, came too, and Isaac proceeded to amuse her, sort of, with his Russian pronunciation. Julia grew up in Moscow. I think she really didn't know what to make of Isaac. By the end of dinner she was saying half-apologetically to me, "I think I really just need to get used to him." I guess he is kind of exhausting! :)

IMG_1478

Then we all rolled to the subway, and got home and went to bed. Or if you are Christine and Isaac, first you eat some anniversary chocolate and anniversary Madeira, while watching another 40 minutes of Pride and Prejudice, and then go to bed. The end!

Friday, November 18, 2005

i would just like to know

How come just getting a drink of water can make me feel nauseous. Pre-water I was thirsty, but not nauseous. post-water, feely sicky. I'm getting it out of the damn water cooler, not some dirty stream or any explosion proof refrigerator or something.

Anyway, just wondering....

note to Pride and Prejudice fans

I have noticed a lot people finding my blog because of this post when I first heard about the Keira Knightley P&P. First of all, I realized recently that I have been mispelling this poor Darcy's name for months. I guess it's Macfadyen, not Macfayden. Ooops. I think my elementary school crush memories got in the way of my reading/spelling.

Second, after seeing the movie, I am happy to report that this dress was nowhere in sight. Thank goodness. I guess this was just a publicity photo? Macfadyen's Darcy didn't look nearly so uncomfortable and the costuming was much more Austen-y than this.

And here's an article where it is revealed that he finally read the novel too. Yay Matthew. Don't sell yourself short, you are plenty dishy to play Darcy, and I'm glad you added your interpretation to the catalog.

something I learned all on my own with a little help from Itunes

I can't get enough Shakira.

soundcheck

To push that post about the disturbing book a little further down the page, and fulfill Stacy's misguided request for another post, and confirm that I'm a huge dork...

I've been listening to Yoik singing for the last 2 days, with little interruption. Where did I hear about this? NPR of course. I love the mp3 archives that they have at my local station. I should really give them some money. I went back and got a bunch of episodes of their music-themed show Soundcheck. They have on all sorts of people, from many genres of music. To back up a little, here are some things I learned recently by listening to this show.

1. Duncan Sheik sounds really cute. Also, it's pronounced Sheek. Or Chic. Things I learned by a little post-listening research: He is adorable AND has a blog.

2. Hanson comes off really conceited in interviews. Yes you were at the "top of your industry" Yes this littlest one is the "youngest nominee ever for a songwriting grammy" Yes, you have "your own independent label". Also, they couldn't stop talking. Also, every time song started with "vocalizing", as they put it in the subtitles for closed captioning, when there is a song that starts with that "mmm-hmm, oh yeah," stuff. I wanted to like you, but really just couldn't Hanson.

3. On the other hand, I loved the personality of violinist Leila Josefowicz. She sounds really fun and is so outspoken as to be charming. But I didn't like the piece that she played so much (2nd movement from Ravel's Sonata for violin and piano) - it's called the Blues Movement and does sound kind of Gershwin-y. Love the little introduction with the plucking. But the a lot of the rest sounded kind of thin to me somehow. It might just be the way it is coming through in the 56 kbps mp3 though...

4. Jon Brion = smarty-pants. In a good, un-Hansony sort of way. Oh, and he's very cute too. I didn't know he co-produced all those tracks with Kanye West either...

5. Vajas. But what I discovered alongside Jon Brion is the thing that brought me the greatest and most wonderful joy. I want to take this little interview with this man Ande Somby and burn it on a billion CDs and give it to the world. I think this could really be a step towards world peace. First of all, he's so nice. Ande is from a group called Vajas (vayas). Ande is from the ethnic group that they used to call Laplanders, but now they call Sami (sah-mee). They are the indigenous people of Northern Norway, and spread all across Scandinavia and part of Russia.

Anyway, the music of the Sami people is totally fascinating. I really hope that anyone reading this gets the chance to listen to hear the interview, which is just as fun as the music. The yoiks can express information, like telling your friend about the terrain ahead, how steep it is, etc. Vajas actually combines the old form of yoik/joik with new sounds.

Here is more information about the group.

Here is the interview:
http://wnyc.vo.llnwd.net/o1/soundcheck/soundcheck102505b.mp3

Here is the Vajas website where you could download more tracks. I don't think this group has an actual CD out yet for purchase. Too bad for me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

half-done book report

It has been a while since I wrote any book reviews...I thought this time I would review the books that I didn't read! Actually, books that I didn't finish. I still feel the need to justify not finishing a book, even though life is short and there are plenty of finishable books out there. These books I feel especially bad for not finishing because they were by authors I already thought I liked.

Up first, remember Mike Albo, and the Underminer? How much I loved it? I don't take any of that back. But I'm starting to think that Virginia Heffernan helped out a lot, and if she wrote a book, I might like that a lot. I tried to read Hornito, which was Albo's first book. I really wanted to like it. And I really did like some parts of it. Reading about his mom buying him satin dancing shorts, I wanted to like the book even more. But then I couldn't get past how depressing it was. A lot of depressing/humiliating interludes strung together. Maybe if I had read all the way to the end I would have gotten to some sort of self-discovery that wasn't quite so depressing?

The next attempted read was Lucky, by Alice Sebold. I'm really ashamed that I didn't finish this book. Alice Sebold is a tremendous writer. I had heard about The Lovely Bones before, but didn't really feel motivated to put myself on the 500+ long waiting list at the library. On September 11th this year, I heard Alice Sebold's commentary on NPR and I was just riveted. I got The Lovely Bones right away, and loved it. I got Lucky from the library. This book is a memoir of Alice Sebold's experience of her rape at 18, and the aftermath of the rape. The rape was brutal, and described in detail. They caught her rapist after she saw him on the street 6 months later. I made it through the descriptions of the preliminary hearings. But every time I picked up this book I had to make myself do it. The worst parts of the rape description would run through my mind when I was trying to fall asleep. I was cowardly, and took the book back before I finished. The thing that makes me feel guiltiest is seeing myself in the unhelpful girlfriends Alice describes who couldn't deal with her rape. There was a line dividing her from everyone who hadn't seen the violence of the world that she experienced, making Alice feel she had more in common with a cop who beat up some black kids just for being black, rather than her fellow 18 year old college students. I'm sorry that I couldn't finish, and sometime when I don't need to sleep well for a while I'll go back and finish the damn book.

Monday, November 14, 2005

weekend of fun

Another list for no reason, which I thought would parallel the previous list but then it didn't. I'm too tired to edit though.

1. Happy hour had a bizarre dynamic on Friday. First of all, there were a couple of external females there! I'm used to being the only girl there, and really I don't even count as a female. (Especially among these guys.) SO a couple of girly girls (friends with a couple of the guys) showed up, and the dynamic was completely changed. All of a sudden the girls got these guys talking about that girly book which explains men, He's Just Not that Into You, and then next thing I know they are talking about face creams and Oil of Olay and anti-aging creams, and one of the girls is flirting mercilessly with MY model and the other is HOLDING HANDS with another guy. Total twilight zone happy hour.

Also, this dermatology/laser/physics postdoc showed up at our little group and asked if he could join us, which is just unheard of. People don't go to meet other people, they go to drink beer with the people they already know. It sounds unfriendly and all, but it's true. But this guy was SO friendly. He was really excited to tell us about his work and stuff, and everyone but the girly girls just kind of sat there in silence. But the girls were excited to be talking to a real-live person who works near a dermatologist, were asking all about Cetaphil, and he was offering free samples of something, except that he gave away his last sample 10 minutes ago, probably to someone else he befriended on the street, and what the hell? Oh my goodness. My head was spinning at the novelty of it all.

2. Mitsuwa, aka the Japanese supermarket in New Jersey, gets hella crowded on Saturdays. It was kind of exhausting. I guess they are in the middle of some renovations, because the seating capacity for the food court, and the food producing capacity of the restaurant were not quite enough to make it a smooth and pleasant experience. We had to wait for like 45 minutes to get our "fast food" order. On the other hand, the shuttle bus there took us alongside Hamilton Park, which has a gorgeous view of the Hudson and the Manhattan skyline. It was a beautiful day. And we came home with tons of rice crackers and Japanese koala crackers and other cute treats.

3. Pride and Prejudice. LOTS of fun. I think Anthony Lane's review in the New Yorker hit the nail on the head when he said that P&P had been Bronteified though. It wasn't actually true to the book, but I'm not such a purist that I really cared. Matthew Macfayden, despite the fact that he is not Colin Firth, still induced significant swooning. However...at the very very end...I had to mentally throw up a little because they should not have added in what they added. I can't even talk about it. I heard it wasn't in the British version, so I don't see why we should have been subjected to it. There was even a little (of what could be considered) manpri action in the costuming. NOOoooo. Also, the cast did seem to spend an awful lot of time onscreen in their pajamas for some reason. But despite all of these things, it really was a very enjoyable movie, and I'm very much looking forward to getting it on DVD and seeing it more. The movie-ish things about it were very welcome. The whole mood of it is kind of giggly and light, and that's interesting. The dancing scenes were very well done! They really did a good job with what and who they cut out of the story, and the dialogue (with some notable and painful exceptions) was quite good...There's my crappy review.

Also, it's worth noting that Japanese snack food is the absolute WORST movie food. Everything is packaged over and over again inside the outer box, and makes much noise when it is unwrapped. Luckily I was seated next to a loud popcorn grabber and muncher, so I don't think she had much room to complain.

4. No candy cane ice cream for me, because I'm going to start eating healthy again. I did eat a candy cane that somebody gave me to promote Radio City Music Hall though. First candy cane of the season, and may it not be one of too many.

5. Last night I went to Isaac's piano quartet rehearsal and they sounded great! And I'm not just saying that because they read my blog...

6. We also got tickets to see the Harry Potter movie on the IMAX screen at Lincoln Square! Yay. It won't be until Tuesday, 11/22, but that's okay with us.

7. Apparently there was a Harry Potter premiere party right across from Tiffany's apartment on Friday night, which one of her piano students got to attend and get autographs and stuff. Poor Tiffany missed all the excitement sadly. Oops, didn't mean to rub it in again Tiffany... :)

8. Good night!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veterans' Day?

It doesn't seem appropriate to call it happy...but what adjective should go there instead? Thoughtful Veterans' Day? Or should it be a command, Remember Veterans' Day? That sounds condescending, like I am sure you would forget otherwise. I don't even know if I'm putting the apostrophe in the right place. My calendar has no apostrophe.

OMG Did you know Jennifer Love Hewitt is the National Veterans(') Day spokesperson! I love her boobs...I mean her work! God bless her. I really do think she's kind of adorable, and now more respectable than ever.

And there's a FAQ to answer my question about the apostrophe:

Q. Which is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?

a. "Veterans Day"
b. "Veteran's Day"
c. "Veterans' Day"

A. Veterans Day (choice a, above).
Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.

vetpos05

weekend excitement

oh it's friday, and we've got some plans for a fun weekend

1. Today the Noon Recital at Rockefeller University features the Parker String Quartet, who will be playing Bartok's 5th String Quartet. Isaac is very excited because he played this in college with friends. They worked their asses off on it, because it's really hard. It's also really fun! I am not that familiar with it, but I've heard the recording of Isaac and co. playing it a couple of times.

2. Happy hour tonight, need I say more?

3. Tonight we are also going to a friend's birthday party...where lots of Spanish will probably be spoken, and we will eat yummy food, drink wine and squeeze together in a tiny cozy studio. Best way to spend a cold evening if you ask me.

4. I want to see Pride and Prejudice! Did you see Stephen Holden's review in the NYT? I think of him as hard to please, and if he liked it so much...well. Sounds like this Darcy will be different enough from the previous Colin Firth incarnation so as not to tempt too much direct comparision. Seems that he's more realistically clueless and tactless, if less dashing...

5. I am excited to take a bus to the Mitsuwa Japanese mega grocery store across the GWB. They have a shuttle leaving every 1/2 hour from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I'm a supermarket tourist, and it's been at least 2 or 3 years since we were last at Mitsuwa to buy cute Japanese food things and eat in their food court. I can't wait.

6. Investigating the possibility of candy cane ice cream...after a nice long walk to offset caloric guilt.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

plus food

in ten minutes we will be having the best kind of seminar here at my work. I don't know what the seminar is about, and I really don't care, but I know that afterwards there will be food. And not just food, but booze as well. This is just like a happy hour, but with food. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I will have to bring a book though. The people that Isaac works with and the people that I work with are like night and day when it comes to the happy hour-ing. They always go, we never go (well, I go, but i'm just isaac's guest...) I'm very happy for them that they are all so well balanced and don't need the free alcohol, but it was a little lonely after the last seminar. I forced someone to eat guacamole with me and watch me drink a beer last time. This time, I'll bring a book. Oh, Isaac's people aren't coming because they have their own meeting tonight.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

a few reasons I'm glad I have a new mp3 player

I was able to hear these songs for the first time today. Edited to add another song link from the Mendoza Line website.

And the album I've had on there for weeks... (you can stream Little Bird here)

Also, I just got my jury duty questionnaire in the mail a few days ago. That's where they ask you if you are a citizen non-felon who hasn't served jury duty in the past four years. Honestly I can't remember whether I served 3 years ago or 5 years ago, and I can't find the darn piece of paper which proves I was there at all. So I have no doubt I will be called in a few days. The mp3 player will make sitting in that big big waiting room so much more pleasant!

Recent developments in our apartment building!

How exciting!

1. Downstairs across the courtyard neighbors went away for like 2.5 weeks about 2 months ago. Isaac and I decided that they were probably getting married! :) Or that one of their parents died. :( When they got back, we examined them closely for clues as to which of these things had happened. I have settled on married because I see the woman in the kitchen a lot more, and see the guy on the couch drinking beer a lot more. Conclusive proof that married life has begun...

2. I think that the extremely verbal and extremely disobedient dog (No Stella NO!) who lived on the floor below ours has either moved out (goodbye Stella!) or maybe the owners have just given up.

3. The child who lives upstairs (or his/her parents) have discovered the joys of early morning Elmo. OMG, Elmo has a very penetrating voice. Everything else sounds like just background noise, but the Elmo frequency just shoots right through their floor and our ceiling. Not that Elmo has woken me up or anything, but I just wonder how early that kid is getting up these days...no matter how early I get up, it's on.

4. I wish the heaters would come on for good in our building. I know it's not that cold outside, but I'm a wimp, and I have been bundling up every night for a week. Also, I wake up every morning feeling like a dried out husk of a person because the air is so dry. I know the heaters will not improve this, but at least I will be a warm husk of a person then. Until then, I take refuge in the steamy bathroom. If Isaac leaves the bathroom door a crack open while I am showering, releasing any of the hot steamy buildup, I get unreasonably angry. I need that steam to make me feel human.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

26.2 miles that I didn't run!

Today was the NYC Marathon! The race course goes right past our workplace on 1st Avenue, and we went down to check out the runners. They start off the "elite women" 35 minutes before everyone else, and so they were the first to come through. It was amazing. There were about 10 women all in a pack, running sooooo fast. Then there were many other fast women all spread out. Did you know that the top prize for women in this year's marathon is $160,000, and that is $35,000 more than what the top man got? I think maybe it is to compensate them for giving up their reproductive years.

Here is the woman who won - Jelena Prokopcuka

woman.large

And the man, Paul Tergat:

men.large

And look at these extremely attractive winners of the wheelchair race - I missed them going by. He looks kind of like a cartoon of Frenchman actually. Is he French? Oh, no I just checked and he's South African. That would be Edith Hunkeler (Swiss) and Ernst Van Dyk.

marathon5.large

I love watching other people exert themselves. Within five minutes of getting to the sidelines, I was craving a meal at McDonald's, which is extremely rare for me. I really wanted a hamburger, with those little minced onions that are so so cute.

Also, there is the joy of awarding many different championships. Of course, there are the people who are actually in first place in the category of male and female. But there are many other categories to be awarded (by me) such as:

1. First Woman Who Didn't Start with the Elite Women.

2. First Guy with a Beard. Big deal, as there was a general lack of hair in evidence.

3. First Guy in a Costume (he was a cow and looked awfully hot and sweaty, poor thing).

4. First Guy with No Shirt On. (This guy was actually someone that we knew and were looking out for, he works in our old grad school lab and I think he really was the first no shirted man).

5. First Guy in Drag. I'm sure there was one, but I didn't get to see him this year. We had to go back to work. :(

We had a good time yelling out the names of the people who put their names on their shirts, especially the ones who were running to raise money for cancer research at our workplace. At one point, a French guy went by with his name written on his shirt - Leon - and the girl next to us yells, GO LEEEE-AWWWN. All American-accenty like. And Isaac kind of cringed. (I don't know if the French guy cared or not.) Isaac's a pronunciation-snob (it's by nature and nurture, his dad's a linguist). So I assigned him the task of yelling only for the people with the most foreign-looking names. Like Bishek, and Toine, and Jelena. Well, he didn't get to cheer for Jelena, because we didn't know her name back then, and the top women don't have their names on their shirts.

So, I resisted the McDonald's with their little minced onions, and now I'm making glazed cipollini onions, yum. They had better be good since I sacrificed some good red drinking wine toward the cause.

Hope that everyone had a great weekend.

Friday, November 04, 2005

pretzel recipe update

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what the hell this diagram meant. Hope that you can figure it out more easily! Here's the recipe.

moretopsecret2

Oh, and some more food pictures I forgot to post earlier.

Stacy's Berry Muffins:

IMG_1417

And Stacy's Pumpkin-Yogurt Delight (before I mixed it all together), as interpreted by Christine:

IMG_1455

And some chocolate cake I helped Isaac make (his 2nd baked good ever) You can see where my piece is missing, upper right hand corner, and his piece, lower left.

IMG_1419

Thursday, November 03, 2005

things I ate recently

When it's been a while since I've taken a picture, I like to take pictures of what I'm eating.

Here are the pretzels I made a few weeks ago.

IMG_1427

Minnesota popcorn!

IMG_1443

We ate this in a huge hurry with the Germans the other night (picture from the GSE website) - Soft Bean Curd with Scallions.

s18

And Sliced Live Fish with Fish soup and Spicy Pepper (isn't that name horrific? We never ever in a million years would have ordered that, but my Chinese friend and labmate ordered it for us at a group meeting once, and I asked her to find out the English name for me and that's what it turned out to be! It's the most benign fish ever, no bones at all, just little squares of unfishy fish that is lightly fried and you can get it without the mound of peppers on request)

s75

And here's a picture of Isaac working hard while drinking some of the Madeira he gave me for our anniversary...he requested that I take this picture.

IMG_1446

Sorry for the boring post, but it's all I could think of tonight. :)

I'll take the reunions ending in 5...

I just read this hilarious set of emails and had to share. The irrationality of the human mind is such a lovely thing.

via Lindsayism.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We should do this anniversary thing every year...

It was great. After a relatively crappy day at work for both of us, we were happy to go to the wine and cheese happy hour at 6pm and have some wine and cheese. Maybe you are wondering whether we might ruin our appetites for the big fancy meal at Babbo. But you might be forgetting that our reservation wasn't until 9:45pm. Plenty of time for a little snack, and I was starving by 6pm...So after a little comraderie with the chemists, we went home and had our anniversary Madeira.

[Backstory: We went to Portugal and the island of Madeira for our honeymoon. They make Madeira wine there. Madeira wine, we like... We liked it a LOT. We heard something about how some honeymooners there would buy a magnum of Madeira and have a drink on their anniversary each year. This wine is already really oxidized, so it doesn't go bad after opened. So we bought a couple of bottles (no magnums to be found for some reason) and we have made this a little tradition. And here are a few pictures from our honeymoon - though these are all from the Lisbon portion]

Then we opened our presents. I got Isaac the new Zagat's guide to NYC restaurants, and also got him a book, which I really got him for Christmas last year, but as it turned out his dad liked it so much we regifted it to him over New Year's. So Isaac got the paperback. From Isaac, I got 1 kilogram of chocolate and a bottle of Madeira! :) But we did not drink any more Madeira at home, we got on the subway and went out for the most expensive meal of our lives!

We had already decided that we would like to do the Babbo traditional tasting menu, which was listed on their website. There was also a pasta tasting menu, which we said, well, maybe next time...as if we will be going to this expensive place weekly. The waiter also offered us some kind of truffle tasting menu, offering to walk us through it, but we declined. I'm not sure what that would have entailed, but I think I would want to know how much I liked truffles before committing.

So I started out with the green apple bellini, yum. Not too sweet, and fizzy champagney. They also brought us some chickpea bruschetta (compliments of the chef, how sweet) which tasted delicious, but I was afraid of having some bad chickpea reaction, and having left my benadryl at home, I decided to let isaac have most of it.

Then came the first course.

Babbo Duck Bresaola with Cavolo Nero and "Giardineria"
The bresaola was like duck prosciutto, millimeter thin strips about 3/4" wide, and 2 inches long, fanned out around some kale/collard green like greens, which I think is the cavolo nero, and some pickled baby vegetables, and all surrounded by some delicious vinegar (vinagrette?). There were some adorable baby cauliflower and baby carrots, other veggies, and one perfect black olive. Somehow that olive is what I'm craving most right now.

Second course, different from the first! Pappardelle with Chanterelles and Thyme This was really good. It was simple and subtle, so we had to change gears. The mushrooms were so delicious and the pasta was just cooked perfectly, and just tasted like it was in a simple butter coating. Simple and yum! Isaac brought up at this point that he wondered whether they might freeze the pasta before cooking, and I was like, why? And he said that he heard some other restauranteur on the radio say that they froze all of their fresh-made ravioli before cooking it to make the cooking time consistent. It's true, that must be a tricky aspect of the pasta making, because none of the pasta was a shade more than al dente perfect.

Next we had the...Duck Tortelli with "Sugo Finto". I learned a new word here. Tortelli. As in a big version of tortellini...aha. This was Isaac's favorite non-dessert course. Maybe it was his favorite overall, I'm not sure. I'm not sure I can pick a favorite, this and the next two courses were so good! The duck filling inside was like a mousse. I don't want to think about how hard they blended up that duck to get it so creamy. Well, they probably added some cheese or something too. But that must be one powerful blender. The Sugo Finto was a red sauce that tasted very "deep" somehow and rich but with a tangy finish. I read on the Amateur Gourmet that it is like meat sauce without the meat.

Grilled Venison with Butternut Squash Caponata and Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Now see, we still got some truffles anyway, though I have no clue what the truffle-taste component of this dish was. The second I took a bite of this venison I thought I was in heaven. I've never had it before. My palate is so undistinguished though that to me it tasted kind of like filet mignon. It was so buttery. When combined with the vinaigrette to cut through the butteriness, it just got better. It was so delicious. Isaac can distinguish flavors a little better than me, and he said he thought it hinted of gaminess though. Then we tried to decide what gamy tasted like. I would think that venison would define the taste, it's true. What I've thought was gamy in the past, actually, that's goaty. I've tasted goaty, but not gamy I think. Except last night, only I couldn't tell how exactly it was different from other stuff I've eaten.

Coach Farm's Finest (Goat cheese) with a Cranberry Moutard - with tons of mustard seeds. It sounds weird but it was so good! I made a couple of decisions. 1. I'm getting Coach Farm goat cheese as often as possible from now on. 2. I'm going to learn to make that cranberry moutard for Thanksgiving. That would be a cranberry-based condiment worth using. Spicy, mustardy cranberries. It was a revelation. The cheese had some peppercorns in it too, and they gave us little toasts with it. Oh my God yum.

By the way, all of these portions were pretty small, so it's not like we were stuffed at all at this point. Then began the desserts.

Chestnut SpiceHoneyCake with whipped cream
This was what I think of somehow as an Italian style cake - not really moist or with much "give". Just a little flavorful dense bready cake. It was good. I was kind of thrown by the whipped cream that wasn't sweet at all. It was like having butter to go on the cake.

Bittersweet Chocolate Crema - This was amazing. It came in a teeny little ramekin, and was solid delicious chocolate, really dense, and with a kind of thin raspberry glaze on the top. At least that's what it tasted like. At this point, I also ordered a glass of Port, which went really well with the chocolate. And Isaac got...a glass of an unusual vintage Madeira, which he noticed downstairs.

Finally our last dessert course came, and what do you know they gave us two to share. These were big desserts compared with the previous two. Pear Semifreddo with Pecorino cheese and a completely decadent super-soft Cheesecake with macerated raisins, and maple sugar. And I think in retrospect it was pumpkin flavored! It did look pretty orange for a cheesecake. I think it was made with mascarpone cheese and that's why it was so soft too. It was delicious, especially the silky cheesecake with the bursty swollen raisins (they were like halfway to being grapes again) and the occasional crystallized bit of brown sugar. That was my favorite of the two. Isaac liked the less sweet, creamy frozen pear dessert. It went better with his Madeira, which wasn't as sweet as my port. But I think he liked both desserts.

Anyway, that is the complete rundown. Now that the money is spent, we'll be needing those memories, so I'm glad to have recorded it! Sorry for all the food babbling... Good night!

Edited to add links to food porn courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet - all these pictures were featured in his Babbo writeup found here. Oh, and honeymoon pictures, since I'm sure you are all interested. Gosh we look deliriously happy. Must have been all the Madeira we were drinking. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I remembered...

I knew there was something hotbabe-related that I have been eating lately besides popcorn. I just couldn't remember until I was packing up my lunch this morning. Tuna Noodle Casserole!

When I put together our menu for the week, I got an irrestible craving for the tuna noodle hot dish (new MN vocab usage alert). I've never eaten such a thing. I also had to get Isaac's approval - this required the careful choosing of other Isaac favorites to cancel out the weirdness of having something new, and also having something so very canned tuna-y. When I finally got ready to break the news to him, I hesitated so much that he was like, come on, get it over with. But he said I could make it, and we just finished the last bit of it. To tell the truth I'm a little relieved. It got a little fishier every day... I did enjoy making the white sauce though, that always makes me feel like I'm really cooking.

By the way, happy anniversary to me and Isaac! Last year at this time, I said I couldn't believe it had already been a year. This morning I woke up feeling like it had been ten and not two. I won't pause to think whether that is good or bad - it is what it is. Happy Anniversary Isaac!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I am excited today, not just because it is Halloween, but because there are lots of nice things to look forward to in the next couple of days.

1. Our lab's long weekly meeting was cancelled for tonight - which leaves the evening free for doing useful things like making and eating Minnesota-grown white popcorn (thanks Jen!) and finishing one of the books I'm (re)reading.

2. I'm hoping that there will be some little munchkins trick-or-treating in our building tonight. I bought some candy just in case, and hopefully a few pieces will survive for the kids. Most of the parents in our building weren't born in the USA - there is one little Italian girl who has a heart-squeezing headfull of light-brown curls, and I always see her pushing her little babydoll's stroller in the lobby, in the laundry room, down the street. I hope that she dresses up like a little lion. Even though she is a little shy of strangers.

3. Tomorrow is our 2nd wedding anniversary! And we have reservations at Babbo, which I've only heard good things about. Too bad we couldn't get a reservation until 9:45pm (a little past our usual dinner time!) but I guess we should be glad that it's a Tuesday night and not even harder to get reservations.

4. I can't think of anything else in the future, but in the past - Isaac and I enjoyed a very nice bottle of Minnesota wine over the weekend (thanks again Jen!!!) It was so fruity - it was like chomping into a big juicy bunch of grapes with the juice running all over your face, but you don't care because it is so tasty! We finished the bottle yesterday at lunch (at LUNCH!) right before we went to work (to WORK!) So decadent and delicious.

5. Also, my food life has been taken over completely by Jenny and Stacy. Over the weekend my food order contained things such as fat free coolwhip, frozen blueberries and cherries, and boca burgers. I had all of these things yesterday. Okay, there aren't any Jenny items in there, but did you read about the wine and popcorn previously? That popcorn is so much better than the organic yellow popcorn crap I have been popping! The new MN popcorn has shown me that the other stuff wasn't worth the brown paper bag or the staples I was popping it with.

6. Isaac is getting suspicious of my new food tastes and wants to know what all the cool whip is for.

7. Also, I've been going through Splenda like a madwoman.

8. Guess what, they actually do sell Honeycrisp apples here! But they are always always always unavailable, and I suspect they will continue to be unavailable the rest of my life.

9. I think that's enough Minnesota obsessing. We had a very NYC food experience on Friday night which was just totally ridiculous.

10. There was a happy hour on Friday, as you might remember there usually is. It was fun. The German labmates + one labmate's fiance contingent was in effect. They outlasted everyone else on the beer drinking (see: they're German), and were looking for some good food. I recommended our favorite Chinese place and told them the names of some good things. Then Isaac came back downstairs after doing something and we all decided to go along. (It's okay, they invited us.)

11. So we walk the 15 blocks to the restaurant and it's cold and windy, and we get there and they are closing in 20 minutes - do we really want to stay they ask? I kind of thought it might be the kitchen closing in 20 minutes, so whatever. They did seem to be in a hurry so we ordered really fast, and the food came like lightning. The Germans were hungry and ate. We were hungry and ate. Waitstaff started to leave. We paid our bill halfway through eating. They started to turn out the lights on us, and the whole meal was 25 minutes from when we got there to when we left. We were laughing and munching for the last 10 minutes straight. I felt bad that it ended up being so rushed, but we couldn't stand to turn around in the cold and find somewhere else to eat. Better luck next time.

12. There was really no point to the numbers here, good to know for future reference.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, going to be like an Indian movie!

"But you can't just give them story, you've got to give them decoration as well. It has to be kind of like an Indian movie where everything happens: it's a romance, a thriller, a variety show, an entertainment." - Mike Newell

This is what I like to hear! God I hope it's good, at least for Isaac's sake.

Oh, and I'm editing to add, the Fug Girls are absolutely right about Ron Weasley's hair. WTF. I cringe every time I see the preview. I really just don't understand what's going on with the stylists or whoever does the movie hair. I thought we'd gotten rid of the bad hair from the first couple of movies, after they tamed Hermione's bushy hair in #3. I know that it's referred to as bushy in every page of the books, but really, it's a movie, let's have some movie magic. This is a major step backward for the HP kids' hair. Just thought I'd let you know where I stand on this important issue.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

new possible reason for my downstairs neighbors to hate me

B0007U6I5E.01-ABTGW9L1KOHFP._AA280_SCLZZZZZZZ_

This is kind of like when hotbabe got her tiara maybe? I'm totally tempted to get myself a $12 pair of tap dancing shoes. I know they are ugly and I have no reason for wanting them other than I'd like to make a little more clickety-clicking noise walking around in my apartment. Especially in the kitchen, that would be great. Isaac is the primary noise-maker in our place, what with the piano and violin playing. But maybe I could get into the shoes. They are renovating the apartment below us right now. How much would the people who move in hate me if I wore tap shoes all day and night?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

visit, history etc post #3

I'm sure the internet is waiting with bated breath for a breakdown of the 6 hours that Jenny and I have not yet covered in our trip summary posts! That would be Friday night. After saying goodbye to Jenny's friend ME in the shoe store, where I was almost thrown out for taking this very picture (you people can't stop me, I dream about soup, and if that doesn't make me a badass illicit picture taker, I don't know what does)

IMG_1428

Then we went to back to the East Side and my place of work, where we would, if necessary, deploy a carefully constructed cover story of our knowing each other because of nothing at all to do with the internet and blogs. This cover story was developed with frightening speed by hotbabe, who apparently lies quite naturally. We went straight up to the lab, where Isaac forced Jen to smell something truly nasty, while I stayed on the other side of the room. She confirmed, that's nasty. It did make Isaac awfully happy, so I hope she thought that was worth it.

Then we went down to the Happy Hour, staked out a couch, and waited for the other chemists to arrive. Here are Isaac and hotbabe happy houring.

IMG_1429

And arrive they did. And right when we were giving up hope and getting ready to leave for dinner - the model arrived. We debated leaving anyway, but instead I made Isaac buy us a round of drinks. Affirmation of hotness and cockiness was achieved, and flirting was avoided. Yay. We left him pining away for more of our company, and walked up to our dinner destination....Turkish food!

We walked past this place (Beyoglu) on a long walk the other weekend. It says Mediterranean on the awning, but we saw the waiters and thought - Turks! Swarthy Turks! And the menu definitely looks Turkish.

beyoglu

It's actually supposed to be some kind of "meze house" which is kind of like Turkish tapas, from what I understand. I got a vegetarian sampling of some mezes, and Isaac chose three for himself. Hotbabe consulted the waiter (not as swarthy as some others) and he recommended the doner kebab, which she liked. I was nervous about leading us astray, especially trying a new place, but it all turned out great - and I didn't have to worry about any food squeamishness. My vegetarian platter was super-duper garlicky by the way. It was so delicious. I wish I'd asked for a little more bread. That was really good too.

Then we went home and to bed to get ready for our big rainy day of fun with LN. The end!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

trip, history, etc, post #2

Look at these photogenic people, LN and Jen. Amazing. We had such a nice day together on Saturday.

IMG_1439

I will say though, it's too bad that from this picture you can't see the hard work that went into blowing dry my hair for two days in a row. That's because this is the third day when I thought, screw it, it's raining anyway... Gosh, it's really all about me and my hair huh?

So as I was saying, what a great day we had together. A visit from one blogger to another became a blogger union of three. With our paparazzo Isaac capturing our every move.

Early Saturday morning, I forced some Bollywood goodness on Jen. Okay, she sort of requested it, but I have been selling it pretty hard for the whole year we've 'known' each other. First we watched the song with Wonder Woman-ish backup dancers and the cheesy hero with a fan lovingly ruffling his hair, wearing an open-necked shirt with a foofy tie (wha?) and cocking the occasional eyebrow at the lovely singer, who seemed to be doing some version of the chicken dance as part of her routine. Classic. Then we watched the song where the hero and heroine go to a disco club, and change into their dancing clothes, and dance enthusiastically with the background dancers in a kind of turbaned, parachute-pantsed fantasia. Once again, wishing I knew how to do screen captures...

Ahh, after this magic, we got ourselves to the subway in some really nasty weather, cold windy and rainy. Then, Katz's deli. Unfortunately we gave some really terrible directions to LN, forcing her to walk in the wrong direction and delaying the moment of happy meeting. But soon all was well, and we all had large plates of meat in front of us. After a delicious lunch, I dragged everyone through the rain to the Doughnut Plant, where we bought doughnuts and then stood under the shelter of a bus stop to avoid umbrella juggling. Seconds were procured by some members of the party...including me of course.

Then we did a little shopping in Soho, once we finally got past the smelly fish markets of Chinatown. We stopped into the Pearl River Mart, which seemed to have something for everyone. Sephora, where Isaac got a tutorial from Jenny in all the makeup brushes. He was very interested in all of them, and lucky to have a real woman to ask these questions of. :)

Then we came back up to my place and enjoyed the shelter until it was time for Jen to go to the airport. Can you believe some New York driver tried to cut short our goodbyes by honking at her to get in the cab? Yeah, me neither...

I'll have to work backwards and talk about the other outings, and more importantly, meals that we indulged in - maybe later today.

Here we are at Katz's! Isaac made sure we had the attenion of the entire restaurant before taking the picture. I think that lady is trying to figure out whether we are famous or not. Oh, lady, only on the internet among a small circle of the best bloggers in the world.

IMG_1430

Friday, October 21, 2005

The visit that will go down in history...

Hotbabe arrived safely and we have had a lot of fun already! We talked about all of you bloggers - went out to dinner - talked about all the bloggers - came home - had margaritas made by Isaac and then listened to some of Isaac's stories. My favorite involves taquitos and a hairdryer. Jenny agrees that he is a fount of underutilized blog material.

In preparation for this first blogfriend visit, I had to take some drastic self-improvement measures. I went and got a haircut. Not that drastic you say? I haven't told Isaac how much it cost yet. But the really drastic thing was that I got my eyebrows threaded. I didn't even get my brows done when I got married. Yes, some days are more important than others, and meeting a blogfriend is one of those days! I knew that the MN girls have high standards for eyebrows, and once Jenny realized I had gone through so much pain, she agreed that they looked good. Yay.

I think that's it for now, I'm making breakfast. Stacy - thank you so much for the crumpets and apples! I've got your recipe magneted to my fridge and I've even got some frozen blueberries so that I can give it a go.

Tonight hotbabe is accompanying me to happy hour, and I think she almost promised not to flirt with the model. I think it will be a good time for sure!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The dreams, they are getting hotter

Last night I dreamed about soup. Not just any soup, but the best cup of minestrone soup in the entire world. I said out loud in the dream, "This must be the best cup of minestrone soup in the entire world."

I've never considered myself to be an exciting person. I'm a chemist which basically means I wear bad clothes, am pasty and don't go outside much, and have "fun" primarily in the carefully controlled environment of happy hour with other socially inept scientists.

But I really think that my dream life should be better than this. SOUP?!? That's what I've been reduced to? Minestrone? Not even clam chowder or something? This is messed up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

song of the day

Represent Cuba!

more short observations

Since I can't commit to a whole post...

1. I recently figured out that the actress who plays Gwendolyn Harleth in Daniel Deronda also is the star of Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.

2. I think this is kind of funny how getting great roles for the BBC means absolutely nada when it comes to Hollywood. Not that DD2: havana nights was all bad. Look how cute...

3. Now I'm listening to "Represent Cuba" from the soundtrack. Of Dirty Dancing 2, not Daniel Deronda. (Thanks Brian!)

4. Yeah it's on repeat...so what?

5. I just got new little speakers to plug into my computer and mp3 player.

6. I have already driven Isaac nuts by playing the nerdy "That Spells DNA" and other Jonathan Coulton songs.

7. Today we are having leftover Indian food for lunch, but I don't think any of it falls into the category of "curry".

8. I really should get to work.

9. I have trouble leaving the apartment if Isaac leaves before I do.

10. He has a doctor's appointment because his left tonsil hurts.

11. I find it amazing that he can tell that his tonsil is what hurts, much less left or right.

12. I'm not very body aware.

13. I have worked out 3 times in the last week!

14. All inspired by Stacy.

15. I've gone back to my old school exercise videos from the 80's.

16. The big hair, leotards, cleavage, and gold jewelry is almost enough to keep me distracted from the pain.

17. But mostly I like to watch the men in the videos doing the girliest moves.

18. Some of them really get into it, and that makes me love them.

19. Wish I knew how to make screenshots from my VHS tapes so that you could love them too.

20. Okay I'm really going now. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

the weather, it's gotten better

Hey y'all. The rain finally stopped! Saturday was a beautiful day, and Isaac and I took advantage of it for once instead of going to the lab. Well, not at first, because we were drowning in laundry. But then we left some of the laundry UNFOLDED (yes we are daring and adventurous people! You can't stop us. Or maybe we are just wrinkly people...) and we went out for a walk. We walked over to the park along the East River. After walking through the park, past the small dog park (cute cute cute), past the weird guy with no shirt who looked like the Native American on those old posters with the guy crying over litter (i know, i'm going to hell) causing me to crane my neck as we passed to see if it was really a topless woman (I did this in both directions, just to check if anything had changed), past the guy pretending to read his book about Asset Backed Securities, who was really looking at the assets of the guys running by him (oh yeah), we got up to 96th streetish, where it got kinda sketchy, and there is a green footbridge to cross.

The footbridge takes you to Ward's Island. One sketchy guy on the bridge, two sketchy guys when we got off the bridge, but then as we walked around the path, it seemed to become family territory. A bike riding family went by - white mom, Asian dad, their tweenish daughter and cute younger children being pulled by dad in a buggy. A couple fishing. Wife staying under the tarp set up at the back of their minivan, while the husband tended the rod. Right.

We walked past a pile of gravel, toward a parking lot...actually the island wasn't all that scenic. One end has some kind of building that I think used to be a mental hospital, and looks like a prison. Now they've made it into a shelter for homeless men. There was a nice view from the island though, sort of. As long as you didn't look too hard at the weird ugly public housing looking buildings at the top. Here's Isaac on the bridge.

IMG_1423color

Then we got ice cream on the way back. Now I have shin splints - how pathetic. I'm blaming my clogs. After Isaac got back he had to go and play a wedding gig with Li-Ling and Mai. He just keeps bringing home the bacon. So I did the appropriate thing and made some risotto for dinner. I think it came out really well. I didn't have enough squash since I decided to double it at the last minute...but other than that it was tasty.