Movie Night

Standard

It’s summer, and I still live at

home. As we roll and rattle down the

Mass Pike, in a car older than any of its

three passengers 150 miles from my own

suburbia, I watch as the tops of the trees

engulf the sky in the low dusk light

like stagnant black smoke, and I think

about how much bigger the sky looks here.

 

I’m listening to your laughter bounce from

the windshield to the backseat and back

again, and as per usual I don’t know what

you two find so funny but I can say with

absolute certainty all I want is to bottle your

giggles, film you cackling so hard there are

delicate lines of mascara tracing trails down

your cheeks, and to watch you both catch

moonlight between your fingertips forever.

Advertisements

Goodnight

Standard

It was there I

almost cried.

Barefoot

in the driveway

as always,

standing on just

my inner

six toes

so I could

kiss you

goodnight

through

the sticky

July air, my

arms wrapped

fully over your

neck, my calves

over-stretched

enough so

that six toes

became four,

then two, and

it was there

that you

told me you

loved me.

Melted

Standard

The strap of

my shoe hung limp

The thread

mangled and matted

to the side of my left foot

The subway grates searing

into my heel

Dusted black

By crumpled napkins

And bottle caps from last night.

Back To School

Standard

LIM College tends to get lost in the sauce in the Hunger Games-esque battle that is New York City universities. With major players like FIT and NYU, it’s easy for it to go unnoticed. I personally don’t know anyone who goes to LIM, but I did get well-acquainted with their resident café, Pickler & Co.

The small café is a sandwich counter and a coffee bar snuggled inside of one of LIM’s Midtown buildings. There’s one big table, about eight chairs, three stools facing the old-fashioned windows, a classic sandwich shop menu, and that’s it.

I ordered a Chicken Tender Wrap: lettuce, chicken fingers, cheddar, honey mustard and a whole wheat wrap. The three people ahead of me and the two behind me (All actual adults on their lunch breaks, for some more context…) ordered exactly the same thing. It was the same kind of sandwich my college best friend and I used to get after a particularly bad week or a tough exam. A kind of comfort food, I suppose, except most of the food in our college cafeteria was one step above, if not equivalent to literal plastic (Admittedly, some days the nostalgia takes hold and I actually miss it…?). Pickler & Co.’s was the real deal.

14233573_10209401603309585_2138778622_o

I ate the other half before remembering to take a picture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In the name of a real review, I ordered a coffee too (Really channeling my inner university student here because that would make it my second cup of the day, whoops?). Nothing crazy, just an iced coffee, but a good one. So good, in fact, that I entertained the idea of revamping my mini top coffee shop list. You have a choice to flavor it, if that kind of thing suits your fancy. I’ve been told September means pumpkin-flavored things are socially acceptable again. This one was Caramel…

14203004_10209401603149581_1703342940_o

Thanks, Pickler & Co., for taking me back to my NYC student roots for a hot second. I can’t possibly think of a better use for my lunch breaks.


Pickler & Co.

216 E 45th St

New York, NY 10017

http://www.picklernyc.com/

The Remedy

Standard

Lately I’ve been finding myself to be a little lost. Not the good kind of lost, more of an “I can’t figure out which way is up” kind of lost, and therefore in need of some love– which arrived just in time in the form of Sunday brunch.

The fix: A classic, wholesome, adorable corner eatery called Perla Café. At night their menu leans Italian, but their brunch is simply a small, quality menu with just a touch of fun. There’s a charming and inviting staff armed with an arsenal of recommendations. The first thing our waitress asked was if we had any allergies. Thankfully, we didn’t have anything too alarming to challenge the kitchen with, but it was obvious they were prepared to make changes and be accommodating.

It’s not a boozy brunch. Well, I guess technically you could make it boozy like you can do with most things in New York City, but why taint it? It balances perfectly somewhere in between healthy haven and artisanal masterpieces just as it is. Their coffee is to die for (Macchiato and Almond Milk Iced Latte pictured below). The iced latte was the perfect wake-up on a slightly-oppressively hot morning, and paired perfectly with my dish of choice: Parmesan biscuits, poached eggs, Italian sausage and a broccoli rabe pesto (Adjustable for my vegetarian friends, by the way!). The broccoli rabe is not at all broccoli-ish, the poached eggs don’t explode all over your whole life, and the biscuits and sausage are a great touch. You would think the four different ingredients would compete with one another for the top spot, but rather they do a well-choreographed little dance with every scoop, making my heart and my stomach very, very happy.

13918875_10209188542503198_922976032_o13987085_10209188542703203_1666939168_o

Bring a friend to share the love with, or don’t and just feel the love yourself; it’s the best place for it. Whether you’ve got loads of catching up to do, or you’ve been finding yourself kind of down and hug isn’t so attainable (I understand, we New Yorkers tend not to be so friendly…), I can promise you one thing: Perla Café will do the trick.


Perla Cafe

234 West 4th Street

New York, NY 10014

http://www.perlanyc.com/

All That & A Breakdancing Bunny

Standard

A New York take on street food and street art from around the world? Sign me up. Immediately.

Vandal New York is the newest addition to Chef Chris Santos’s repertoire of fun restaurants. It exploded onto the scene with a frenzy of media attention, including a star-studded opening party. Naturally that would lead one to believe that the restaurant is geared solely for the pretentious New York partygoer types, but Vandal is so much more of a hidden gem than expected.

Foremost, I would have to say that Vandal’s menu is far tastier than that of its siblings, The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. All three of the restaurants do some version of the shared tapas-style dishes with a twist, but Vandal’s menu reigns supreme. The clientele, atmosphere, and staff are also incredibly laid back. The servers are wearing Converse and sensible black wedges, and welcome you with a smile instead of scanning your outfit.

Take your pick; everything is great. Vandal is most famous for the Crispy Bao Buns. I say the Knish Reubens should be their claim to fame, because how do you even get corned beef to taste that good? Also the Cacio E Pepe Arancini, because it’s a ball of fried pasta with Parmesan sauce. The skirt steak with spicy chorizo fried rice was the table favorite. Although you might not want to, remember that it’s intended to be shared. Eat the spicy rice last. It burns your tastebuds but it’ll hurt so good.

13555839_10208907197909759_583824206_o

Crispy Bao Buns

13579789_10208907198389771_788008564_o

Knish Reubens

13589008_10208907198269768_10175700_o

Clockwise from the left: Thai Papaya Rolls, Sticky Rice Buns, Fish Tacos, Arancini

13579763_10208907198029762_101570663_o

Skirt Steak & Spicy Chorizo Rice

As for dessert: Tell them it’s your birthday because free chocolate cupcake (with delicious pretty icing). Order one of everything, except for the Irish coffee milkshake- order that for yourself and don’t share it with anyone else. Order two because they’re adorable (or I could just take the extra off your hands for you, if that’s cool…).

There really aren’t any drawbacks, except maybe that drinks are expensive. But with all of this other incredible stuff happening, it doesn’t even matter.

And on your way out, take a peek at the infamous Vandal bunny. He’s eleven feet tall and has his own Instagram. Give him a kiss for me and tell him I’ll see him again real soon!


Vandal New York

199 Bowery

New York, NY 10002

http://www.vandalnewyork.com/

 

It’s All Greek to Me

Standard

There’s no shortage of absolutely precious breakfast places in Soho.

I found Greecologies while snooping around on one of my favorite blogs, Leopard For Breakfast. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of meeting the writer and hanging out with her for a bit; she’s an exceedingly cool Miami-to-NY transplant, and anywhere I’ve tried from her blog is nothing short of awesome.

So, I took her advice, and took my mom for breakfast. Greecologies sits on the border of Soho and Little Italy. It has big windows, plenty of seating, is very well lit, and is very relaxing.

My mom and I started sitting in the front window, and then moved to the back of the restaurant, where we had the cutest courtyard to ourselves. We got to catch up over our shared Butter Coffee, watching a woman from a nearby apartment building hang up all of her stuff to line dry. It looked like a picture, a cross between old New York and the hip, modern cafe that had just taken residence in the neighborhood (Nerdy writer moment, sorry…). I could’ve stayed in that one spot for the whole day and been the happiest person alive.

Not to mention that the Butter Coffee is the bomb, although it is very rich and you cannot get it iced. It’s a homemade butter that goes into the coffee, and if you get it iced, the butter gets funky and takes away from the unique flavor (I had to ask because my iced coffee obsession has gotten far too real…)

12033692_10206951478217989_290058377_n

Our (shared) coffee and our yogurt bowls!

For real though, how do you not feel cool scooping an entirely homemade meal out of one of these? It’s like having breakfast inside one of those fancy fashion blogger’s Instagram accounts. Anyway, I went with their traditional Greek yogurt, muesli and their specialty honey. The yogurt walks the really fine line between sweet and sour, and depending on what you put in it, tastes more like dessert then breakfast. I actually tried something similar in Denmark at my group’s hotel and ate it for five days straight, thinking I was never going to find anything quite so delicious. New York City proving me wrong again…

Not a yogurt fan? Go anyway. Do it for the ‘gram. Get a Butter Coffee because it’s great and you have to. And come say hi to me, because you’ll find me back there for sure.

12021966_10206951478137987_1707934679_n


Greecologies

379 Broome St

New York, NY 10013

http://www.greecologies.com/

Things Just Got Real

Standard

I had a spiritual food experience, and things got real.

Upon my return to my hometown after working in ATX for most of the summer, my sister and I got invited to dinner with my parents to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary at none other than Maroni Cuisine (my theory is that we got invited because my dad got just a teeny bit jealous that I did Barley Swine without him, but regardless, my parents are the cutest couple ever and deserve to be celebrated!)

Maroni is Barley Swine on steroids. There are no menus at this classic eatery; just a handful of tight tables, unlimited beverages, and several people with heavy Long Island accents. It doesn’t really matter though, because 21-25 mind-blowing little tasting courses are on their way to you as soon as you’re seated. It’s up to the chef what’s for dinner during your visit, and it’s up to your waiter what order they come to you in (Shout-out to Dave, our awesome waiter. Someone wasn’t so nice about him on Yelp, but I can assure you when I say he made our night so much fun!) It all seems sort of random, but that’s part of the experience. It really doesn’t matter though; you’ll be too busy chowing down on whatever deliciousness graces your table next, while admiring Maroni’s collection of Pink Floyd and Beatles paraphernalia.

All 25 courses are worth a shot if you can handle it. Standouts include custom sushi; the sushi chef even stops by your table to take into account your favorites. The sushi was followed by the most precious little mug of lobster bisque with cognac, which was more like drinking the butter you’d typically drown your pieces of lobster in. We were also brought Chinatown dumplings, which made me miss Lower Manhattan. The table favorite was the Veal Milanese. With the exception of my dad, no one at the table likes veal, but somehow it was cooked so perfectly that we devoured the whole thing. It was covered in arugula, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella, and tasted like something that comes from your authentic neighborhood Italian place where the grandmother is still Queen of the kitchen, and nothing leaves without her stamp of approval. Other favorites included a black truffle grilled cheese (self-explanatory, and utterly delicious), Kobe beef hamburgers, Korean BBQ spare ribs and Maroni’s famous meatballs.

11922021_10206799510778898_1133824636_n

Custom Sushi

11911847_10206799510298886_1671526093_n

Lobster Bisque Mugs (cutest ever!)

My personal favorite, you ask? Ever thought of putting potato purée and vanilla together? Neither have I, but stick an itty-bitty bay scallop on top of that idea, and you have by far the weirdest, most flavorful, and surprisingly not-gross combination ever. On top of that, my sister and I agreed on bonus points for the pretty scallop shells it’s served on, and tea spoons for scooping it all up.

11909718_10206799509978878_1588777787_n

Oh, and there’s dessert, if you haven’t had to unbutton your pants already. It goes without saying that everything is delicious, but I’ve got to give the gold medal to the Chipwich with Salted Caramel ice cream in the middle, most of which I ate before my sister had a chance to try (Oops, sorry!).

11910778_10206799511378913_2076957679_n

Wherever you’re from, Maroni’s is worth the hike. Prepare yourself, bring stretchy pants, and don’t miss out!


Maroni Cuisine

18 Woodbine Ave

Northport, NY 11768

http://www.maronicuisine.com/

Square Peg

Standard

By the time this goes live, I’ll be en route home, so I’m using this post to look back on my time in Austin.

I’ve spent most of the summer feeling like a square peg, being relentlessly shoved into a circular hole in a toddler’s puzzle. Slightly dramatic, perhaps, but I have been trying to find a better way to explain it and I have yet to find one, so that’s what we’re going to go with…

I’m the first person to call out those New Yorkers who think New York is the end all be all, but in truth, the big, born-and-bred New Yorker attitude of mine doesn’t always blend well in other places. I never quite adjusted to the laid-back, easy-going vibe of the live music capital. This might just be a thing for me, as I met several people at my job who are from all over, but felt right at home in Austin. For me, my mind, mouth, and overall speed of life never changed settings, and just stayed at Northeast speed.

Perhaps what I was most surprised by was how much I missed my friends and family. Austin is a cooler and more exciting city with a buddy, but no matter what I did, there was still a gaping hole in every adventure that I felt could only be filled by my mom, dad, sister, or one of my closest friends. I frequently will just wander off alone in New York City to explore, but I think there’s a distinct difference between being alone on an avenue in New York and being alone in an apartment in Austin, TX.

It’s definitely a funny feeling, to be somewhere in between a visitor and a resident of a city, and be somewhere in between wanderlust and homesick simultaneously. Double-edged sword, talking out of both sides of my mouth, whatever you want to call it, it’s a confusing spot to be in with no good way out, so to speak. Regardless, on this little adventure I have met some really interesting people, gotten to do some cool stuff, and have for sure eaten most of Austin. I met several people at my job who can take down an entire company’s online system and bring it back up again right before my eyes (I interned at a mid-sized tech company!). I also have met people who don’t wear shoes at work, or spend their whole day half upside-down in a circular pod-shaped chair because that’s how they’re most productive, or people who will just up and catch a flight mid-afternoon because they can’t sit still for too long (Life goals right there…).

I’m not sure if my dislike of Austin makes me a bad traveler; at least, I certainly hope it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t love other places (Still a big fan of Copenhagen, and I have not at all fallen out of love with London, so…) or that I won’t travel again (Please, I already am saving and planning for future trips!). If nothing else, every one of my trips, good or bad, is a learning experience, and this is why I do it. On this trip, I learned that I should probably do better research before making big moves. I also learned not to take so many things for granted, and that I should also learn how to cook something other than vegetable pasta from Trader Joe’s.

Austin, you’ve charmed me, broken me of my Mexican food thing, and taught me well. I will miss your breakfast tacos and your queso. I’m glad I got to keep it weird for a little while; I would have for sure regretted it if I didn’t. You may have knocked me back on my butt a little bit too, but you most certainly have not and will not stop me. But, since we’re being real honest and open here, I’ve got to say: New York, it’s been far too long. I have missed all of the beautiful people in my life who put up with you and your rude inhabitants, excessive amount of chain coffee stores, everyone constantly wearing black, your dirty subway system, and your crappy weather.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have all that back. I’m coming for you.

Just Splurging

Standard

It was for one of the top restaurants in Austin, and my internship is almost over, so why not?

The first handful of interns is set to leave on Friday, with the rest of us following shortly after in the coming weeks. So, as a sendoff, a few of us got together and finally tested out Barley Swine.

An Anthony Bourdain favorite, Barley Swine is a cozy, intimate place, with a tasting menu that rotates every few weeks. Their current summer menu is fourteen incredible courses (Yes, fourteen…). Breakdown (and pictures!) below:

The meal kicked off with a crab, mango sorbet, and cantaloupe salad. Light and summery, the little salad is served in a miniature honey pot-shaped cup, and basically makes a statement somewhere along the lines of “OK, get ready”.

11846043_10206651093028547_2127061068_n

I admittedly dropped off the bandwagon for one course and a half; the Mango Shrimp was the half. It was a great idea that started with three difference types of shrimp and a mango sauce, until I found out the fried pieces of shrimp were the heads, and I just couldn’t. I promise I also tried the Octopus and Watermelon, which was one of the prettiest dishes. ¾ of the dish screamed “breakfast”, with perfect cubes of watermelon, a yogurt sauce, something that tasted mostly like granola to me, and a thin slice of octopus. I had trouble getting past the texture after the first bite, but admittedly, everything balanced out the super-salty octopus very well.

11850772_10206651093868568_490099637_n

Don’t worry, guys. I was fully on board for the rest of the meal!

The table was real unenthused about the Spicy Eggplant when we read it on the menu… until it arrived, and we were surprised by a delicious bowl of spicy eggplant, lamb sausage, fried okra, and a ball of tomato soup you had to stab open like an egg yolk to mix it all together. The spicy sausage and eggplant was reminiscent of well-prepared chorizo (Though you probably already know this, I am OBSESSED with chorizo). The fried okra in the tomato soup converted us all into okra lovers. We also had a blast breaking open the tomato soup ball, and then were very nerdy about asking someone how they did it (It’s a chemical solution- safe to eat, obviously, similar to the way they used to make Gushers…)

11844060_10206651094028572_1272241919_n

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

The amazing fourth course was followed shortly after by a slice of summer squash, a mystery green sauce, seeds, and salty feta cheese. It really cooled your mouth down after the surprise eggplant/lamb combo, and coming from the girl who likes every cheese except feta, even I ate the whole thing.

11830787_10206651094068573_1655760029_n

Honestly, the whole experience is a food fest. We tried a Wagyu beef, avocado, and papaya bowl, which is pretty much a tropical beach in your mouth. The papaya is sliced into noodles that look like bean sprouts, and is surprisingly amazing. We also tested Shishito in a fermented mushroom sauce (We had to ask what shishito is; our original guess was some kind of sushi. Shishito is actually a sweet, mild pepper. Can you tell we kind of stuck out in the restaurant?) They come as pair, intended for you to share with the person sitting across from you. You take the whole thing and pop it in your mouth. The mushroom sauce is very mild, as is the pepper itself.

11850861_10206651094108574_1101101526_n

Beef, papaya noodles and avocado

11844064_10206651094388581_631618785_n

Shishito peppers

We’re still going here. Big thumbs down for the mystery bubbles resting on top of my fish for the eighth course, but thumbs up for the fish itself, the corn, and the superb broth it was all floating around in. The broth tastes like really strong miso, and mixes well with the fish and the corn.

11846353_10206651094508584_2081553574_n

And, if you thought the tomato soup ball and the pop-in-your-mouth pepper was fun, just look at these….

11857779_10206651095868618_1703517848_n

This was the winner for me- after I took 9,368,038 different pictures of how freaking cute they are…

Obviously they’re adorable, but they’re also delicious. Stuffed with pork belly marinated in bourbon, there’s just the right amount of meat in there that it doesn’t explode all over your hand as soon as you pick it up, and you still get a substantial amount of flavor in each bite. Bonus: the piggy bun itself tastes like the fanciest Hawaiian roll you’ve ever had, only further enhancing the already-stellar pork. And really, how could you not love these?!

The tenth course (and final dinner course!) was a plate combining duck, potato, and plum. It was for sure a standout and a great finale, but who argues with well-cooked duck? The duck was perfect, as was the little dollop of whipped potato, with the shockingly-sweet plum to balance it. Only downside: it’s super hard to be ladylike while cutting it…

11851076_10206651094908594_2079918149_n

Here comes the sweet stuff! We spent all of dinner trying to guess what vinegar pie actually was, and were thrilled to pieces to discover that it’s a palate cleanser, but it’s also dessert (MIND. BLOWN.)

The vinegar comes in in the form of a whipped topping, almost like meringue, and is a little more on the sour side (similar to sour froyo flavors!). It’s balanced out by a pecan crumble layer beneath it, and another layer of dried fruit below that. Everyone’s at the table was a little bit different, but as soon as the waitress turned her back, every one of them was gone.

11844008_10206651095188601_1500575805_n

The surprise and delight continued with our actual dessert: Three little bites arranged on a strange, pot-like plate. The first was fruit leather and cheese, the second a minty spin on a cannoli, and the third a homemade candy bar, with caramel, nuts, and a coffee semifreddo. The bar melted all over our hands, but was a unanimous table favorite.

11846065_10206651095308604_1005250542_n

And it didn’t stop there. We were asked to lift the tops off of our pot-shaped plates, only to discover that dessert continued with three more hidden treats (these are not advertised anywhere in the restaurant, or on the menu online)! Underneath was locally-made caramel, a sesame paper-wrapped chocolate ravioli, and an Arnold Palmer-flavored gelatin coated in sugar. The caramel was so sticky and flavorful, it lasted until after we paid the bill.

11830293_10206651095668613_1210947098_n

Barley Swine, although a little on the pricier side, is 110% worth a visit if you happen to be in Austin. Other than the fact that everything on the menu is worth trying, the meal itself is an experience, and is guaranteed fun for all involved. Now, the real question is: how do I go about getting a few of those piggy pork buns back home to New York?


Barley Swine

2024 S Lamar Blvd

Austin, TX

http://barleyswine.com/