Monday, June 24, 2013

A Love Letter to a Bar

Wednesday is Third and Long's last night open as a bar, but it represents so much more to me than simply a bar. It was the first place I felt at home in the city, even before I could officially call the city "home", when I was still taking the PATH in every day from Jersey. A friend I met on the last night of college introduced me to Third and Long my first week working in the city. He brought me to Wednesday Night Trivia and I was hooked. I met so many wonderful people and suddenly had a group of friends in a city I was just getting used to, some who remain very close to me today. Before I even understood the subway systems or to hail a cab driving in the direction you wanted to go, I had what was important, a bar where everybody knew my name, on the corner of 35th and 3rd.

For the first two and a half years I lived in the NYC area, there was a 90% chance that I would be at Third and Long on a given Wednesday night for Trivia. I was actually part of an official team for about a year of that - no one missed a week unless it was urgent. For a girl who only received participant trophies while growing up, getting first place in trivia was a big deal, and we won pretty frequently. I still have the bar tabs and glassware to prove it.

Third and Long is a sports bar so I sat out of some questions, but I was an all-star on others, especially when the halftime rounds would feature song clips for which we'd have to identify the title and artist. If necessary, I would run outside to sing the whole song to myself so that I could concentrate on remembering the title and artist. Sometimes I did this in the pouring rain because that's how much I wanted that extra half point. We'd draw out entire maps of continents on napkins to try to figure out the geography questions, list out every character on the Office to determine which characters had the same first name as the actor who played them, and make sure we all had read the Times on Wednesday morning in case of any current affairs questions.

Curtis even let me host trivia with Brad one night a few summers back. I decided to do a 1960s theme so that I could dress up ridiculously for it, because...why not? I invited all my friends and felt like a celeb for the night. I've never shied away from attention.

I haven't been to Trivia there in over a year. Although nothing was ever said, I felt like the person who introduced me to Trivia Night deserved to keep it in the breakup. But now that I've lived close by for a while, I have stopped into the bar frequently on other nights to sit at the bar or just to say hi.

Last week, I stopped in after Trivia had ended because I knew it would be the last time. It just felt right to go in for a little. I saw people I hadn't seen in years, including some from an opposing team with whom we'd had a friendly rivalry - although it turned less friendly sometimes, depending on how many drinks we'd had. It was so strange for me to be back there with these people who had seemed so familiar to me when I first moved up here and to see how much they'd all changed. "You got married?!" I said to one of the rivals as I marveled silently over how much weight another one had lost.

But I've sure changed a lot too in those four years (four years?!) since I moved up here blindly and really needed a place to feel home. Thanks for being that place for me, 3&L, and thanks for the memories.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spring Recap

Spring is one of my three favorite seasons, but it felt a little different this year than in other years. After I finished my 28 Things list, I felt like I took it too easy the rest of the season and relaxed a little too much (only I would think of this as a bad thing). I actually felt really lazy and unproductive for most of May and June. Of course in hindsight (gosh darn you, hindsight), I actually did quite a bit that I didn't end up writing about and here are some pics I haven't shared yet.

In late March, NYC joined the rest of the world in celebrating Earth Hour. I happened to be walking past the Empire State Building (during my food truck weekend) a few minutes before the lights were turned off and took these before/after shots:

Caitlin and I had one of the best lunches I've had in the last few months (almost as good as lunch with her at Le Bernardin) at Momofuku where we treated ourselves to their amazing duck wraps on Good Friday when we both conveniently had off work. The lent laws don't apply on Good Friday. The pope told me that.

I spent a nice day in the West Village with my parents for Mother's Day and we spent time walking around my favorite streets in the city and sampling a bunch of the best food places down there including pizza from Joe's, pastries from Rocco's, and gelato from Grom.

I got lots of extended family time at Easter at home base (Mom Mom's), the 7k/10k in Atlantic City, my little cousin's birthday party in Maryland, and my cousin Maura's graduation party at the pool this past weekend where we also took part in a cheesy Father's Day photo shoot.

Carrie and I scored (free) tickets to one of the Subway Series games where the Mets play the Yankees. Admittedly, instead of paying attention to the score, we were more excited about the nice weather, the great food and beer, and the races between the innings of the animated subway trains headed to Yankee Stadium.

Speaking of baseball, the second cutest mascot of all time, Mr. Met, decided to visit our office one Friday so I of course had to take a photo with him:

One of my favorite nights all year is Mug Night at my alma mater during Alumni Weekend. My friends and I always have an amazing time filling our mugs up with booze, eating tons of soft pretzels, taking a million pictures, and giggling. The first year I went, my abs legitimately hurt for a few days from laughing so much. What happens at Alumni Weekend stays at Alumni Weekend, but I will say I rarely feel more comfortable than when on the dancefloor at Kate's pretending I'm 21 again with all my college bests. And NYC may be known for bagels, but why don't you click this link and scroll all the way down to the #1 "Best College Hangover Breakfast Spot in the Country." No wonder I love it there so much.

In addition to a few Upright Citizen Brigade shows, Aubrey and I went to see our favorite comedian, Rob Delaney, at Caroline's one night. I took the opportunity to introduce Kat to Rob and we later walked back to the east side through 30 Rock and posed with the "Human Nature" sculptures:

The rest of the season was rounded out as it should be with lots of sunshine, daytime drinking, park sitting, and staying out late without a jacket or a care in the world.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good season.


Monday, June 17, 2013

A Guest Post for NYC Food Truck Association

Be sure to check out my first guest blog post for the New York City Food Truck Association here!

You guys all know how much I love food trucks.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Like Pig Butts and I Cannot Lie

On Saturday, Kat and I visited the Big Apple Barbecue in Madison Square Park. If you recall, two years ago, I went to my first Big Apple Barbecue with Kat. In that post, I joke about it being a record that we were able to meet up twice in one week. I am proud to announce that Kat and I now hang out ALL THE TIME. It certainly helps that we live only a few blocks away and have a designated meeting spot whenever we have a play date.

How to completely dominate the barbecue:
  • Dress the part. I actually thought long and hard to see if I had anything barbecue-themed in my wardrobe to wear on Saturday, like maybe an "I Love Bacon" shirt or something. I know this sounds quite silly, but check out these shirts I saw at the event:

Thanks, Gentlemen!
  • Go early and leave early to avoid the crowds. Kat and I got to the barbecue around 11:15, right when it was opening and didn't have to wait in line for our first two meals. Yes, 11:15 may be kind of early for barbecue for some folks, but Kat dubbed our first meal the new "Breakfast of Champions" -  Southern Tradition Smoked Whole Hog and Pork Skins from Scott's Bar-B-Que from Hemingway, South Carolina:
  • Split everything with a friend so you don't become full too quickly. I especially need to do this because my stomach gets overwhelmed sometimes and can't fit everything I want to fit into it. Our second meal, and my personal favorite of the day, was Checkered Pig's St. Louis-Style Ribs from Martinsville, Virginia. I really wanted to eat a full serving of these but I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it if I wanted to try anything else.
  • When the lines start getting long, split up and go to two booths at once to save some time. I waited in the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q line (from Driftwood, Texas) for quite some time. I have been excited to try Salt Lick since twenty of my friends went to Austin and posted about it all week. The beef brisket and sausage plate was well worth the wait as I knew it would be.

  • Eat another booth's offering while in line for your next. While I waited for The Salt Lick, Kat waited in line for Ed Mitchell, but finished up before me so we started to enjoy Ed's Whole Hog Pork sandwich.

  • Skip the 'Slaw. This is easy for me to do since I don't like cabbage, but don't bother filling up on the coleslaw. For some reason, three of our meals had this as a side. We saw other items with sides of baked beans and one with pimento cheese and crackers but at that point we couldn't imagine having another meal.
  • Tweet your brains out. Kat and I started tweeting about the BBQ and got retweeted a few times by the official BBQ account which inspired the Vlasic Pickle account to follow us. Their account is written as if from the point-of-view of their mascot, the giant Stork. Kat and I became obsessed with the stork and went back and forth a few times on Twitter with him to find him and take pictures. They also had free pickles there so it was definitely a win-win.
  • When you can't eat another bite of meat and want some brewskis, head over to Shake Shack rather than the Shiner Beer Garden. Beers at the Beer Garden are $9 but only $5 at Shake Shack. Sarah joined us later in the day and was going to get ice cream and we realized this was the best way to get beer as well. You can wait in the short line for the beers (and ice cream) but it still takes a while for the order to come out because even on a day with all this great barbeque available, Shake Shack is rightfully crowded. They also had a special during the event and put pulled-pork on top of their fries. If there had been any more room in my belly, forget about it.
  • Grab a table at Shake Shack when one opens up, preferably next to someone one of you may have in your phone as "Jordan Subway" because you met on the Subway last fall. Awkwardly peer over to him and his date every four seconds.
  • Make sure you're smiling and laughing so that if anyone recruiting for a reality tv show sees you and tries to sign your friends and you up for an upcoming series about 'finding your dream job in the big city'. Laugh when you see the age parameters of 21-27 and realize you are too old to find your dream job, even if your dream job is being on a reality tv show.
  • Bring a NY Mag crossword puzzle to do in the sunshine with your pals. As if you'd ever leave home without one.
  • Keep your eyes open for friends who may stop by (shoutout to Aub & Meg), coworkers and old classmates you'll undoubtedly run into, and even celebrity restauranteurs like Danny Meyer who was standing next to us at Shake Shack and was responsible for the whole weekend's event. 
Thank you, Danny. Cannot WAIT for next year's event. I'll begin training my belly now.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Get More NYC | The Avett Brothers - "I and Love and You"

A friend just had me thinking about my favorite songs about New York, which works well for my new blog feature (although something a lot of blogs do), Get More NYC. As I sent over my list, which in fact is mostly made up of music from a CD my sister, Katie, made for me when I moved to New York (seriously, how great is she?!), I also starred my favorites and I couldn't help but star this next one 3 times.

This particular song, "I and Love and You" by The Avett Brothers, was actually introduced to me by a former gentleman friend of mine who also gave me some great CDs. I don't think I've ever skipped this song or even just listened to half and then moved on to the next, which is rare for me since I have a very short attention span. It is just so dang beautiful and speaks to me on a few levels:

(1) On being in a funk (which is the level that applies to me most right now). "One foot in and one foot back, it don't pay to live like that" - like go big or go home, girl. Get working on all the projects you want to do and stop procrastinating and overthinking everything. Just do it, pack your bags and head forward in life.

(2) On being able to give up on something if you're not feeling it. If you can't say those three words, "I and Love and You," and don't think you'll ever be able to, don't sweat it. Don't waste anyone's time and don't let anyone waste yours. This can be applied to relationships, but also with anything that you're putting energy into that you are not feeling 100%.

(3) On letting New York TAKE YOU IN. And my plans on visiting Brooklyn a lot more this summer.

Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.
Are you aware the shape I'm in?
My hands they shake, my head it spins.
Oh, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.

{YouTube link}

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