Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crabby Pants

My love for shellfish stems from six summers working on the Jersey Shore in a seafood restaurant that was best known for the giant inflatable crab on its roof.  Since I've moved to New York, one of the things on my to-do list has been to find good seafood.  So far, nothing has called out to me too much.  Yes, I've had oysters at Jazz Standard, peeky-toe crab appetizers at ABC Kitchen, and seafood in pasta in a thousand different Italian places, but none of these really made me feel like it was home.  What I needed was a place where I could get really messy and cut up while cracking crabs open with my bare hands.  So when Kat invited me to the crab boil at Back Forty (12th Street and Avenue B) on Tuesday, how could I say no?

Back Forty does the crab boil every Tuesday during the summer.  You have to purchase tickets the prior Wednesday and there is nothing else available in the kitchen that night - including, to my dismay, garlic.  I really enjoy garlic butter with my lobster and with my crabs.  I don't think this is a strange request, but I have struggled with it in two locations.  Back Forty, because the full kitchen wasn't open, but don't restaurants at least have a garlic powder shaker?  Isn't that like Salt and Pepa?  The other time was in St. Thomas.  I should have known better than to order a lobster in a bar that's in a parking lot, even if it is the best bar on the island.  But that is a long story which includes coloring in a waiter's tattoo, being yelled at by the same waiter the next night, "I've been called a lot worse by a lot better", and a broken rib.  

So anyway, the set up at Back Forty was corn bread, corn-on-the-cob, red potatoes, three buckets of crabs for the table, and blueberry cobbler.  Everything was delicious and there was plenty of food to go around.  We had four people in our party and we were seated next to two randos.

The only tool we got to help us out was a wooden mallet.  I probably could have used a tiny cocktail fork and a claw cracker, but I made do (and made a mess) with what I had.  One thing I thought was weird was being pulled out of the zone every few minutes by the waitresses making me pick up my empty shell parts and dump them into a bowl.  They should have just given us our own trash bowl a la Rachael Ray like the places in NJ do.  But all in all, this is a super fun experience whether on the bay on the Jersey Shore or in a dark bar on the Lower East Side.  So check it out because working hard to get the meat out is very satisfying.

I have heard rumblings about crab boils elsewhere in the city, like at my new favorite spot, Ditch Plains, so I will abso-tootly be checking out some more this summer.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friends with Benefits

I am ridiculously lucky to have such amazing friends in the city.  I am even luckier that some of my friends (via their jobs) have been able to get me into some cool events, provide me with free tickets to shows, or get me some free grub.  Why else would I keep these crazy kids around?

Kat and I spent the day on Saturday enjoying some benefits of our respective jobs.  We went to brunch at Ditch Plains on her and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on me.

Ditch Plains has two locations, 29 Bedford Street in the West Village, and 82nd and Columbus.  Kat and I went to the Upper West Side location and were immediately greeted with "Hi, Kat!"s from every direction.  Kat works events at BenchMarc Restaurant Group, which runs both Ditch Plains locations as well as two locations of Landmarc.

My dad and his "surfing buddies" (which includes basically anyone on our beach - with the exception of Summer 2007 speedo man) would love this place.  The restaurant is decorated all over with waves, surfboards, and black and white photos of surfers.  The bill comes with salt-water taffy.  I am dying to experience their $30 Lobster Bake that I saw being offered on Sundays and Mondays.  I kind of want to go back every single day because I loved it so much.  Here's what we ate:

Have you ever seen French Toast this high?!

Have you ever tasted carmelized bananas and walnuts with toast and cinnamon butter so yummy?!

Have you ever experienced the magic of Chilaquiles (which were explained to me as breakfast nachos)?!

Add on a few drink samples from our fantastic bartender like watermelon mojitos, frozen lemonades, tequila and watermelon shots, and how could you possibly have a better brunch?  You can't, that's how.

We decided to take our food coma to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because one of the benefits of my corporate job is free entry and no lines in the major museums in the city.  No lines were a must on a 104 degree day outside.  If I had had to wait in the lines, I would have jumped in here first:

We didn't really have a huge game plan but I wanted to see some old guitars since I finally picked mine up again recently.  We wandered over to the musical instrument wing where we discovered this three-necked guitar which I couldn't stop picturing all three Jonas Brothers play at the same time:

Then we remembered about the Alexander McQueen exhibit (that CK wrote about here) so we tried to find that.  I have the hardest time getting around museums so I forget about my map and always ask the museum liaisons for help.  The problem is that I always only am able to remember the first thing they say.  So I will do the first thing they say ("turn right and enter the European Painting gallery room 121") and then I will spot another liaison and ask the same question until I finally find what I am looking for and have spoken to every single person who works at the museum.  It is a very efficient process.

But anyway, there was a terribly long line for the McQueen exhibit so we settled on more wandering and eventually made our way into my favorite area, Modern Art.  I don't really know what it is about Modern Art but I always really enjoy it (hence my MoMA posts 1 and 2).  Maybe it's because it doesn't necessarily have to mean what you would initially think, or maybe it's because some of it I could picture myself doing if only I had had the idea first, or maybe it's because it is just more fun to take obnoxious pictures with.

My original plan when I moved to the city was to try and visit a few galleries a month in the Met since I can really go whenever I want for free.  I think I am going to try and make this happen to take full advantage of this benefit.  If anyone wants to come with me, let me know, I'll trade you for one of your work benefits.  Extra credit if it is food-related.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flashing Lights, Lights, Lights, Lights: The Video!

Here is the video of our improv event from last week!

Especially check out around 2:35 where you can see Emily and me and part of John & Kristyn:


Monday, July 18, 2011

Flashing Lights, Lights, Lights, Lights

When I asked people to add to my "27 Things to do Before I Turn 27" list, Frousin Emily suggested to be part of a flashmob and gave me the link to ImprovEverywhere.  I had seen "performances" by this group before so I of course agreed to add this item to my to-do list.  On Saturday, we got to cross this off as we were a part of the Mp3 Experiment Eight in Battery Park City.

Frousin Maura (HEY GIRL!) was coming up specifically for the event and she and Emily were going to meet me in the park.  I convinced Kristyn and John to do it with us somehow, which may have something to do with the multiple pitchers of beer we drank at the Frying Pan earlier that day.

For the "performance", we had to each wear a black shirt, and bring a flashlight, a camera with a flash, something else that flashed, something that glowed, and a mask.  Check out the masks we made at my apartment right beforehand:

We each had to download an MP3 and put it on our phones, then we were supposed to start it at exactly 8:30, synching up our watches with an atomic clock on the website.  I'm guessing only half the people started their MP3 at the exactly correct time, but I think it all came together pretty well, considering some people must have been two minutes behind others.  Kristyn, John, and I got to the park just a few minutes before it began and saw hundreds of people in black shirts all around us.  We started to get nervous and excited.  Luckily Emily and Maura were able to find us just as it was starting.

The general premise of the improv was that we were members of a tribe (wearing black) and there were members of another tribe (wearing white) and we had to do a ritual meeting ceremony.  Here are some of the things we had to do, some of them dealing directly with the meeting ceremony, and some of them just ridiculous:
  • Point to Nicaragua.
  • Take pictures of people while making the "bbbbbblllllll" sound with our lips.  Check out how attractive we are.

  • Hop like a bunny.
  • Walk like an astronaut.
  • Give high fives to people on the street who were not involved.
  • Put on our masks.

  • Do shadow puppets on a member of the white tribe's shirt (thanks Uncle Terry for teaching me that duck spitting out a watermelon seed back in '89).
  • Play a game of flashlight tag together (people named Mike, Michael, and Sarah had to start it off).
  • Have lightsaber wars with our glow-in-the-dark objects.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

God Bless Astoria

One of the items on my 27 list is to "Explore Astoria, Queens" for three main reasons:
  • My frousin ("it's a family thing") Christie just moved there
  • I don't want to be one of those people who refuses to go to the other boroughs besides Manhattan (and there are plenty of people like this...)
  • Everyone I meet from Astoria is awesome and does something fun and creative with their lives that I wish I could do
When Christie is all settled in, I plan on going to Astoria and exploring the Greek restaurants, the Bohemian Hall Biergarten, and the Museum of the Moving Image (which frousin Emily has been talking about for months).  But yesterday, I got an intro to Astoria when I went to go watch the 4th of July fireworks with Nicole, Christine, Ryan, and some of their friends in Astoria Park.  Maybe it was the creative vibes I was feeling from everyone around me (you should have SEEN all the awesome cameras that were out), but I was thinking a LOT and got some really helpful realizations about myself while I was oohing and ahhing - which all kind of indicate that I am somewhat of a child.

1. I eat like I am seven.

Everyone around me had packed super awesome salads or homemade pastas with fresh vegetables from local farmers through a co-op.  I ate this (please note I had already eaten my Slim-Jim prior to the photograph):

2. I really like bridges and would probably try and build them with Legos if I had any.

When we were walking toward the park I saw the Hells Gate Bridge and had no idea what it was but I thought it was beautiful!  I really wanted to climb it or walk across it or even just paint it.  It looked so pretty in the dark blue sky all lit up with the bursts of light from the fireworks.  Ryan said it was a bridge for trains and while we were fireworking, a short little train went over the bridge and tooted its horn and then stopped while the conductor climbed out and watched the fireworks with us.  Oh how I wish I had been that conductor.

I also really liked this guy, the Triborough Bridge:

(This all reminds me that I've never written about my trip walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with one of my boos from home, Aubrey...something to look forward to)

3. I wear way too many glow-in-the-dark headbands.

Alumni Weekend:

Frousin Emily's Birthday:


Oh, and the fireworks were great!  They started off somewhat behind a set of trees and everyone in the park just kind of laughed for a little while crossing our fingers that they would go up a little more, and we got our wish.  I don't remember seeing heart-shaped or planet-shaped fireworks on the Jersey Shore ever, so I was impressed even though all of the hearts were upside-down or sideways.  I'm kind of glad that technology hasn't gotten so good that they can make perfect renderings in fireworks form, although this does bring to mind, how did Uncle Jesse propose to Becky with those perfect letters in the sky above Cinderella's castle in Disney World?

God Bless Astoria, and God Bless America!

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