Archive | May, 2012

Solve a Riddle. Win Big.

25 May

Maybe you’ve heard of the little grassroots organization, Occupy Main Street. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you don’t like “Occupying” anything. That’s ok too, although our purpose is decidedly more community-driven than political.

Basically, my friend Maria and I want to make Mount Kisco better. We want our town to be more vibrant. We want our town to be more interesting. You know, like some of those other towns around these parts. Like Tarrytown.

What’s so wrong about that?

So.

We’ve schemed up a little fun. Tomorrow, starting at about 9am, we’re getting all Scavenger Hunt on you. We’ll be releasing clues which will lead you to “tickets,” hidden around Mount Kisco. These tickets will equal PRIZES. And we’re not talking about beer cozies or frisbees. We’re talking about dinners at restaurants like Cafe of Love. And Pour Cafe and Wine Bar. Or gift cards from New York Dolls, for a cute new dress to start the summer off right. Score.

We hope you’ll join us. All you have to do is follow us on Facebook, here or on Twitter, here. We’ll start releasing “riddles” around 9am!

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We ate like pigs. And then we ate a pig.

22 May

This weekend, in addition to being my birthday, was host to a series of food-focused fabulosity that deserves some air time.

Friday and Saturday were Westchester-based excursions — The Cookery and Tarry Lodge, respectively. If you’ve never been to either, you’re either a lazy sloth who survives on Doritos and diet Coke, or you hate Italian food. Neither are good excuses. Get your ass to one (or both) of these places, pronto.

The Cookery is Dave DiBari’s “all-hail-the-pig” lair. It’s where you’ll learn to respect the pig. Where you’ll let buttery, salty potatoes (cooked in goose fat) just melt in your mouth. Where you’ll think about resting your weary head on pillows of potato gnocchi. And it’s where you’ll watch carnivores’ pupils enlarge at the sight of pork cheek, falling straight off the bone.

And then there’s Tarry Lodge, where Mario Batali has reinvented pizza, turning it into something we as Americans probably don’t even deserve to enjoy. Here, it is dressed to the nines with bacon with a sprinkle of black truffles and accessorized with a sunny side up egg, cooked so perfectly you might believe you’ve never eaten a real “egg” before this.

Guanciale, Black Truffle and Sunny Side Egg Pizza

Guanciale, Black Truffle and Sunny Side Egg Pizza

But I digress. Anyone worth their weight in pancetta has tried one or both of these hotspots before And if you haven’t, you’ve surely read the countless reviews praising each as legendary. So no need to beat a dead horse. Or pig. (Shit, I ate both this weekend.)

Instead, I’ll focus my recap on the culinary wonderland that was The Great GoogaMooga in my favorite part of Brooklyn — Prospect Park.

Googa Mooga Alter. Bow to your idol!

Let me start by saying, we went on day two. Day one was seemingly disastrous — it would have taken a lot of legwork to find a positive comment out there about the experience. So I didn’t. Any sane person would have just bagged it on Sunday, considering the tickets were free and we wouldn’t have been out a single cent. I mean, really: who – after hearing such terrible reviews – still treks out to Brooklyn from Mt Kisco with TWO toddlers in tow, no less? (Points to self: “This girl.”) I wasn’t in it alone, however. Joined by my battalion of foodies, Jamie O’Grady, Jesse Lubinsky and Jessica Rappaport (and those aforementioned toddlers), we dove right in. And we are SO. Glad. We did.

We managed to arrive at Prospect Park at about 11am on the nose. Being one of the first throngs of folks let through the gates felt liberating: look at all those food stands!! Not a line in sight! Oy… my stomach was already asking for forgiveness.

Here’s what I gorged on, in this order:

  1. Sliders from DuMont Burger. What better way to start a Sunday morning than with some beef? Don’t judge. There was no line.
  2. Burger with Roquefort from The Spotted Pig. I meaannnnnn…. really? Do I even need to review this? Pat LaFrieda meats, you had me at hello.

Any burger “experience” area that calls on Meryl Streep AND Jules from “Pulp Fiction” is alright in my book.

  • Kasadela’s wings wrapped in nori. I have never, ever, in my life, considered wrapping crispy seaweed around a chicken wing. Until now. And I’ll never eat a chicken wing withOUT crispy seaweed wrapped around it, ever again.
  • Chicken bao from Baohaus. This was crunchy, gooey, sweet and savory. Basically all of my favorite things stuffed into one little puffy pouch.
  • Some sort of crazy bacon-wrapped hot dog smothered in guac from Crif Dogs. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I only had one bite, because really, I didn’t feel the need to waste tummy room on it.
  • A salted peanut and chocolate covered frozen banana. I don’t even know what to say. As I stood there in the hot sun, grease already starting to emanate from my pores, and I looked down at this frozen banana covered in the most delicious dark chocolate shell, smothered with salty peanuts, I had but one thought: Clearly I was a fat girl in a previous life. There is no other excuse for this type of behavior.

Is that a salted peanut and chocolate covered frozen banana in your pocket or are you just normally a complete lard ass….

  • Fried chicken from Blue Ribbon. We all agreed this tasted like it had BBQ corn chips coating it. Which clearly made me love it even more.
  • I did not – I repeat, I did not – have relations with the foie gras donut, despite Jesse’s attempts at “ew, it’s so gross… taste it, please just taste it.” I abstained. And I’m a better woman for it.
  • A real-deal Holyfield shaved ice from Wooly’s. I’m already craving another. Insanity. This should be a summer staple for every New Yorker.
  • A bacon “flight.” In pedestrian terms, that basically means about 8 unique slabs of bacon, all in a neat little row. It was at this point my heart stopped functioning.
  • Oh, and apparently I tried horse bologna. I’m not ok with this, and I fully hold Jesse Lubinsky accountable for my inability to ever look at a pony the same way again. If ever he approaches you and tells you to “try this House Bologna sandwich,” ask him to read the sign again before you bite down. I’m just sayin’.

It should be noted that I’ve left off about 43 items from this list. It’s for everyone’s benefit, really. For me because I had to endure it all once already, and if I go through it again I’ll really need a colonic. And for you because, well… by now you’re probably starving and ought to go get yourself something to eat.

Just please, whatever you do: don’t make it a foie gras donut.

Stop Giving Me Homework!

17 May

Parenting is all about have-tos. And schedules. And activities. And obligations. Tonight, I ask my daycare center… why are you giving me so many more have-tos?? I mean, isn’t this what I pay you for? Ok, ok – let me back up. Earlier this week, Jack was sent home with a note: “bring in a traditional dish for the kids on Friday!” Sigh.

First of all, what’s a traditional dish? Like, just traditional in terms of style? One that doesn’t use nouveau, Top Chef cooking techniques? Or does it mean, traditional to our family? WTF? So of course on Tuesday, when I was already frazzled from the week and crazy deadlines and what still lay ahead, I just cast the notice to the side thinking I had a few days to think about “traditional.” I mean, let’s be honest: I’m the parent of the kid who only eats chicken hot dogs, peanut butter on raisin bread, and yogurt. And two out of three of those menu items are banned at daycare, so who am I kidding?)

Fast forward to tonight, and I’m home alone while hubby is off at some Beer and Burger festival boozing it up, and baby bear’s fast asleep leaving me no way to escape to the A&P. It’s been a long day of jetting down to and back from Philadelphia for my sister-in-law’s graduation. And of course, now I see that dreaded notice, tucked between mail on the kitchen table. F*$#$k.

Here’s the thing. The only thing I have in my fridge is honeydew, yogurt, and the aforementioned chicken hot dogs. Oh, and a pound of ground beef. So I take a quick peek in the pantry to survey the situation, and low and behold… Annie’s Beef Stroganoff. I don’t even know where this box came from. Is that bad? I’m not questioning a good thing. It has “traditional” written all over it.

So tomorrow, Jack is officially Russian, for anyone who asks. And the story will go that his grandmother made a mean stroganoff and this is her recipe. And I’m going to pray to the daycare gods that I don’t go to hell for lying about the origins of said recipe.

And note to teacher: please stop giving us parents homework!! It was cute when I had to cut out magazine pics of food for the class. It’s kind of ok when you ask me to find pictures for the classroom family tree. It’s really taking it too far when I’m cooking stroganoff for a bunch of 22 month olds… I mean, next time I’m asking to get put on payroll.

Random Thoughts.

15 May
  1. I could happily eat soft tacos 5 nights a week. Like, three nights ago we had chicken and beef tacos. And two nights ago we had shrimp and tilapia tacos. And last night I had pumpkin soup and the whole time I was thinking about tacos. So what?
  2. Peonies are the most beautiful things on earth, and yet they only last a few days. WTF, Mother Nature… couldn’t you have stupid weeds last just a few days instead?
  3. I didn’t get to sleep in on Mother’s Day. It’s a crime.  Therefore, I respectfully request a do-over. For this Saturday. Ok, hubby?
  4. I’ve become so easily distracted by various pieces of technology, that I often just find myself repeatedly clicking through my open browser tabs to remind myself of all the things I have to look at/read/follow-up on. Later. Anyone else do this? No? Just me? Hmm.
  5. My 21-month-old ninja’d his way out of his crib the other night, got out of his room, and made it downstairs, without waking even the dog. If he hadn’t shut the safety gate behind him on his way down (safety first!), we never would have heard him at all. He could have been down there eating Doritos and ordering dirty pay-per-views all night, for all I would have known. Does that make me a bad parent?
  6. If you’ve never had the sweet coconut fro-yo at Frannie’s, you haven’t lived. Like, check your pulse, you’re probably dead. Right now.
  7. I think Vogue magazine was stressing me out. It’s a lot to live up to. So I stopped reading it. And now I’m less stressed, but I can’t put an outfit together to save my life. Coincidence? My over-worn black leggings say… no.
  8. Ladies of Saw Mill East yoga: you need to learn some yogettiquette. Meaning, you can’t overlap your mat on mine. That’s called personal space. So back off. Namaste.
  9. With all of the info and movies and pictures and articles written about the crappy, toxic looking pink goop (that sort of resembles blown-in foam insulation) that’s put in McDonald’s food, why is there always a line of cars in their drive-thru? Ok, so they say they’re not using it anymore. But they did use it and that’s just gross, so don’t you think there are probably other gross, unidentifiable things being used to keep that burger from decomposing? Seriously, people. You’re smarter than that.
  10. If you haven’t seen this, you’re really missing out.

The Kind of Mom I Want to Be.

11 May

I haven’t spoken to my mother since November 4th, 2007. The date is emblazoned in my mind because it was the day after my wedding. Hard to forget.

My mother is a very angry woman – she has been most of my life, as far back as I can remember. She also spent the better part of my youth bad-mouthing my father to my brother and me. They divorced just before my 12th birthday, and the bashing only got worse from there. He didn’t love us, he didn’t care about us, he didn’t want to pay for anything for us, he was a terrible father… all the thoughts a parent should never burden a child with – forget the fact that they were untrue.

Just shy of my 18th birthday, my mother gave me the worst possible ultimatum a parent could ever give a child:  she told me I had to choose: her or my dad. According to her, I couldn’t have a relationship with them both. I told her that if she was going to force me to pick a parent, I was going to pick the one who didn’t give me the ultimatum. And therein lies the true demise of our relationship.

Sure, I have good memories with her. I remember her taking care of me when I was sick. She was great at that. She liked to bake, so there was always a treat on the counter after school. For a few years when I was really young, she would put little notes with  jokes, or “I love you”  messages in my lunchbox every day. I remember when she told me it was time for my first bra – we were walking into the King of Prussia mall, and she spelled it out: “We have to get you a B – R – A” and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she was telling me I needed. We had a good laugh about that.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of other warm and fuzzy memories. I don’t have those bonding moments to look back on that most of my girlfriends had with their moms. She never wanted to be my “friend,” a statement she made clear throughout my adolescence. What I don’t think she understood was, she could be my “mom,” and still lay the groundwork for becoming my “friend” later in life. I tried over the years, off and on, to reason with her, and make our fractured relationship work, but it just never panned out.

I’ve since married, and had my first child; a child my mother has never met, never acknowledged with even a card. I’ve moved on from feeling sad and lonely to just plain feeling sorry for her, and to accepting that while she bore me, it does not entitle her the right to wreak havoc or negativity on my life – and now my own family’s lives – forever.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled. But I was also scared. I thought, ‘please don’t let it be a girl.’ Because I was scared that if it was, I would risk continuing the toxic cycle my mother and I were in. Throughout my pregnancy I tried to recall memories of my childhood, things to look to for direction and strength as I became a mother. Oddly, the one thing that kept surfacing was a memory from elementary school. All the kids on my school bus route had contracted lice. My mother was furious, and I remember sitting in a bathtub while she painfully raked through my long hair with a lice comb, cursing, and making me wince with each tug, telling me that if I only kept my room cleaner, I wouldn’t have “bugs.” Months later, when another lice epidemic hit my class, I hid the school notice from her, and tried to get rid of them myself, which of course was not successful. But I was so scared she was going to blame me for it that I refused to tell her. I was so scared of what she would think of me. That’s an awful burden for an 8-year old.

So now, as my second Mother’s Day approaches, I think about the kind of mom I hope to be. Unfortunately for me, that means recalling memories that remind me of the kind of mom I hope not to be. I hope my son never sees me truly angry. I hope he never hears me speak ill of his dad. I hope my son one day becomes my friend, and trusts me enough to share his life and his experiences and his ups and downs and mistakes with me, and turns to me for advice whenever he needs it. I hope that I can forge a path for my family that will keep them safe and comfortable and teach them values and morals. I hope I can create a loving environment where my kids want to be; somewhere they feel comfortable being themselves in. I hope I can go to bed each night knowing that I’ve done the best job I know how to do as a mom, and know that I will wake up tomorrow and do it again… only better.

I’m certainly not qualified to be dishing out motherly advice (at least not yet), but of course, if you know me and this blog at all, I’m always going to give my two-cents, for whatever it’s worth (Wouldn’t that make it worth exactly 2 cents? Hmmm). So here it is: this Mother’s Day, try to forgo the Hallmark holiday angle and instead really cherish what you’ve got; hug your kids a little longer. Tell them how important they are in your life, and let them love you back. True, unconditional love is a beautiful thing.

Obamamania!

10 May

Yesterday was a really interesting day of news stories. Etsy, one of my favorite brands, raised $40 million to help grow themselves into a one-stop shop for creative independent businesses, though it hasn’t quite defined what that means. I almost feel like, who cares what it means. I’m just super-excited to see their growth, period. They are in essence, my generation’s creative, entrepreneurial ecosystem, and they do it like no one else.

Then there was the news that Vidal Sassoon died. Having spent six years of my career with Matrix (L’Oreal), this was especially sad news. Those six years working within the hairdressing industry taught me so much about Vidal, and his story, and how he’s inspired thousands of people to get behind the chair and explore the question, “what is beauty?” I was sad to hear that the industry lost their iconic leader.

But the real powerful news yesterday, for me at least, was hearing our awesome, amazing, ballsy Prez take a stand in support of gay marriage. Not just domestic partnerships, mind you. GAY MARRIAGE. I nearly cried when I watched the video clip. To me, yesterday will forever be marked in history – the same way women’s lib and desegregation and prohibition repeal were – as an event that changed this country.

Forget the fact that as a progressive, liberal New Yorker, I find it mind-boggling that the LGBT community is still fighting for basic rights in many parts of this country. Let’s not even get into the news that came out of North Carolina yesterday (DISGRACEFUL). But the fact that we as a country (still) treat certain people so radically differently is shameful. Reading some of the “comments” that people posted on various sites online in response to Obama’s stance yesterday makes me despise ignorant people even more than I already do. These people should be ashamed of themselves for their small-mindedness and hate mongering. Even right here in Westchester, on our very own Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch, some of the comments in response to the Prez’s statement are so despicably ignorant I’m kind of embarrassed. Who are these people?

Yesterday made me proud; but it also made me spend some time reflecting back to my late friend Thomas, who committed suicide six years ago, after a lifetime of depression and addiction. His family didn’t support his lifestyle. During his teen years (in the late ’60s), they tried to “change” him through shock therapy. He spent the rest of his life dealing with the side effects of that, until he killed himself. I wish he were alive yesterday to hear our black President publicly condone his right to an equal, peaceful existence. He would have been floored.

Gay people fight in our military and protect us against dangers we couldn’t even imagine. Gay people treat our children in hospital ERs. Gay people comfort our elderly family members in hospice. Gay people create beautiful art that transforms us. Gay people fly airplanes that transport us across oceans and mountains… safely. And yet we treat them as second class citizens – No, worse: we don’t even let them grieve for their loved ones. We don’t offer them protection within the law. We should really be ashamed of ourselves.

A friend of mine posted this video on her Facebook page yesterday. It’s moving and powerful, and puts in perspective how unfair it is to be treated with inequality. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and watch it. And think about yourself and the own people you love. Imagine if this were your fate – or theirs?

The gay community has given us Ellen, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Jann Wenner, Nick Denton, Andy Cohen…sigh, should I go on? Without our gay community we’re kind of just stuck with a lot of assholes, like… Michele Bachmann. And Bill O’Reilly. And Ted Nugent. Is that really something to be so proud of, America? I think not.

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

9 May