A Birthday Filled with Indulgences

A BIRTHDAY INDULGENCE

 

Sidewinders

Mexican Latte- espresso, chocolate, cayenne & cinnamon

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Brugger’s Bagels

Everything bagel with cream cheese

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Skyline chili

4-way & a cheese coney

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Gaslight cookies

Chocolate chip cookie

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Sixteen Bricks bread

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Toast w. butter

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LeVain’s Cookies

Dark chocolate with chips

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Dewey’s Pizza

Pepperoni & onion

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Graeter’s

Banana split w. Mocha chip & Cookie Dough ice cream, bittersweet chocolate, butterscotch, whipped cream on top

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Next day….food hangover….I don’t think I will do that much cheating in one day again or at least not on my birthday!

 

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Einsteins to Katzingers and UC to OSU & Lots to Eat In-between

Life is funny! Sometimes. Other times…not so much!! I have heard people say what is your 5-year plan? Your 10- year plan? You can’t plan life. Life happens! I find it so comical when someone asks me that question. I have no idea where I will be and what I will be doing and neither do you! I heard a great quote years ago and for your non-religious but spiritual friend here it is…

“MAN PLANS AND GOD LAUGHS!”

It is so true. Don’t plan your life. Enjoy your life!

Something really, REALLY sad happened and it makes the above so true! And it goes to show how life can change on a dime. In a New York minute! Grab your happiness when you can. Where you can! Life is short! Appreciate everything!

The couple that bought my grandmother’s home in Wyoming. Caveat here. The nicest, most down to earth, salt of the earth people; lost their 23-year old son, and it shook me to my core. He was driving down a street behind an 18-wheeler and the car BEHIND him…the car he had NO CONTROL OVER hit him from behind with such FORCE that it shoved his car under the truck and killed him. I did learn that it wasn’t instantaneous, which I find a blessing and a curse at the same time. Blessing that the family gets to say their goodbyes and I DO believe people in comas can hear those words, right or wrong, I believe it, and you aren’t changing me on it. Curse because I just hope he was not lying there in pain, maybe it would have been easier to just go to those puffy clouds in the sky.

His organs went to save the life of others. I love that! Even in death, Charlie did something heroic to help others. He was a good kid. A sweet, kid. A real tragedy. Happens all the time, but when it hits so close to home and affects people you really care for, it hurts like the dickens! My heart goes out to the family.

I have spent my LIFE listening to my dad tell me it is unnatural for a child to predecease the parents and that there is nothing worse. He does not know this from personal experience. I am an only child. BUT…because he told me that countless times spanning several years, when I was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, he was the one I feared telling the most. He handled it the best, but the thought of the chance that I could die before my parents and what it would do to them was excruciating to me. In a lot of ways, I was more worried about their fears than mine. And then to see these parents so torn…it just makes me think and put things in perspective. It forces you to take the time and say what is important, so my blog readers…I implore you to do the same. Life is short. Enjoy! Be happy. Tell the ones you love, how much you love them, how important they are because life can change on a dime and in a New York minute, and because I am a humorous soul at MY core…you know what I am going to say next…GO EAT SOMETHING YUMMY!!!! You deserve it!

On with the food and the blog…the heavy part is over reflect on these important words while you eat that chocolate brownie or drink that Fleur de Bee.

Onto the enjoyments of life…and reading the crazy tales of my life.

I came back from my trip to New York and I did very mundane things like bathe the stinky dog that smelled like a New York sewer and as much as I love the scents of New York there are some I CAN live without! Dulce and I went to Clifton and did our lovely long walk and she had to sniff out all the messages from all the previous dogs that she had missed spanning several days.

We ran into my friend Beth and her boyfriend David, which it was so nice to meet him after hearing about him for so long! They invited us back to their home for brunch.

We finished our walk and I went over there. I don’t know if it was the spontaneity of it, or the fact that their home was so reminiscent of a Cambridge home, or the food was so like the food of the Cambridge brunches I used to attend, but being in their home, with those foods, in that setting took me back to Sunday brunches in Cambridge, Massachusetts at my friend Philip Greenspun’s home and at my friend Sebastian Fixson’s home. Both MIT grads, both hosted fabulous Sunday brunches with MIT nerds and I say that with great affection!!! The guests were brilliant and came from across the globe and the food was intriguing, unusual, delicious, and worldly. The company of all these friends and their conversations were exhilarating. I actually did more listening than speaking at those brunches. I wanted to soak it all up!

Here I was at Beth’s and she was serving figs (which I couldn’t find in Cincy), fresh raspberries and a bowl full of grapes. Dolmades, stuffed grape leaves, which I adore! Then David made an omelet of sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives, which I replicated for the next three days because I enjoyed it and craved it so much!

It was a wonderful surprise and it was such a lovely day and such a great way to ease myself back from New York. I spent the day with a New Yorker and her beau!

That evening a small group of friends were being treated to a dinner at the Public Incline in Price Hill next to the Queen’s Tower (and Primavista) with an equally cool view of Cincinnati, and somehow, I was fortunate to make the list!

Here are the views and the fried pickles…they were yummy!

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My friend Stacey and I went to try Fusian in Kenwood. I had tasted their food at my friend Josh’s daughter’s graduation party. The guy behind the counter remembered me AND my order. It was so cool and eerie at the same time, but even more impressive. We had a great lunch!

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I think what I REALLY loved were their teas and I am not a tea person! They were delicious! And I loved being able to eat gluten free sushi!

That evening Shirley, Vivian and I sat on Shirley aka Trouble’s balcony and tried to solve the problems of the world while Shirley brushed all the knots out of my sister Dulce’s hair. I asked Shirley the secret of the dog NOT crying when she brushed her. She said her hair had a lot of knots so she was gentle because she sympathized!

9.11.

After all these years, I feel like every year I handle that day better and in the last few years I feel unaffected, but then I stay away from the news on 9.11. I don’t need to relive it again and again. I saw something on the internet about 9.11 and OH SO STUPIDLY clicked on it and it was the police officer or fireman ringing the bell in memory of those lost that day and it catapulted me back in time and how I felt that day. I wept! Uncontrollably. It hit me like a ton of bricks! And then I heard God Bless America and cried all over again. That is a wound that scabs over, but never fully heals.

Joan and Charlie invited me to brunch with their friend Amber. Amber and Joan met MANY years ago when they both were on a vacation to Italy and they were the only two in the group that had a true sense of adventure so they became the duo explorers and became fast friends and have remained friends for a long time.

Amber is a NYer! And she and I got to talk about food and chefs and she was impressive!! We sure had a great time discussing food! It was so much fun and so now I have made a new friend too!

After doggy sitting my sister Dulce for 10 consecutive days with a short break when Trouble took her, it seemed that the monetary value of LeVain’s chocolate brioche and hockey puck dark chocolate cookies was a priceless exchange, but I still felt like it was not enough for two people to be awakened DAILY by a dog that is a morning dog. 6:30 am. SO RIDICULOUS! You do not work, Dulce. No reason to be awake at the crack of f—ing dawn! Sleep late, pooch. Well, I invited Jo and Dave the doggy lifesavers over for brunch! Of course, she thought they were coming to see her. SHE IS SO SPOILED!!!!

Every other Monday, if I can, I go sit with my friend Mare who is going through chemo for colon cancer. She is such a trooper. I have a hard time going from my car to her seat in the room. Passing all those people with tubes everywhere…is hard, but once I get to Mare’s seat I am fine! And it means the world to her! And we have fun chatting up a storm!

I had a meeting at Children’s Hospital about a book I have written. Will keep you posted as it progresses!

Ruth Harriet comes to town, which means two things….BUSY and how much can any one human being eat?

My mom arrived and we first went and ate lunch down @ The Banks @ a place called Jefferson Social.

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We were able to sit outside and eat with Dulce in tow. We shared a con queso dip with chips. We chatted with a man who lived around the block and came to work there with his dog in tow.

Then we went home to my place and relaxed and then we ventured out to a place called Littlefield. It is a bourbon bar down in Northside that has great small plates. We aren’t bourbon people, but we are foodies.

We shared lamb meatballs with jalapeno fig jam

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and then a BLP, which is bacon lettuce and peaches. They had a HUGE bourbon list and we passed on that and they had a really interesting drink list, which we decided to come back and try another day! They had this purple drink with an edible hibiscus flower in it. For dessert, we shared an upside down banana cake.

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Friday evening we were invited to my friends Joan and Charlie’s place for cocktails and nibbles. The array of Asian food nibbles was quite interesting. We made plans to come back for Joan’s Venetian surprise for my mom.

Saturday, we packed it in tightly. We started at SIDEWINDERS for Mexican lattes and then progressed to City Flea to walk the booths of the local artists selling their wares.

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We dropped off Dulce and then went down to WCET for their Kid’s Club event.

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They had all these life-sized animals from a variety of shows walking among the kids. I volunteer @ CET and my mom used to in the 70s, so I asked if I could bring her back! They said yes, and so glad we did, because we were assigned to the face-painting table and she is an artist (aka my children’s book illustrator) and I AM NOT!!!! So, when kids asked to be a Bengal tiger, or get a butterfly painted on their hand…she could do it. I COULD NOT!!! They had little cutout designs for ME to place on faces and color in the lines.

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Here is some of her work…

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Then we went to UC Homecoming down on The Banks of the Ohio River. It was cool to go to it, and my mom a UC graduate loved it, but the floats were kinda lame. Apparently, because they had to drive the floats from Clifton to downtown and that is hard on a float, they don’t do a lot to them. People said when it is near the school the floats were MUCH different!

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My mom got her pic taken with the Cincy Bengal tiger! She was so excited!!!

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After the parade we went to Clifton and stopped at DRUNKEN BENTO to buy sushi to go. We were going to go to THAI EXPRESS and get pad Thai To me, the best Thai in Cincy but it was closed for a leak.

So, we went to another nearby place for a Bubble tea and we got SO much more than “Just” tea.

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There was “something” in the tea! I have no idea what, but something in there that made me delusional and my mom overly tired.

We slept it off!

We woke up and ate sushi and were happy and happy to be home!

The next morning we woke up and did our traditional thing! One does NOT, cannot, WILL not go to Burlington Flea Market without a SIDEWINDERS Mexican Latte in hand. It is sacrilegious to not have one!

So, we went to Burlington coffees in hand and wandered around looking for things to inspire creativity.

I found the perfect ring to hold my magic sand. If you want to know more…you will have to read the book when it comes out!

Then we came back to the condo for the last day at the pool! I love our pool and I love my pool friends!

Then I took my mom to THE COMET to listen to bluegrass music and share a burrito with me. I think she really loved it!!! The music. Not the burrito. It was her first EVER burrito. She is more an tamale gal!

The next day we took a long walk along The Ohio River so she could see all the wonderful things they have done along the river. They have done such a nice job.

My favorite is the metal swings looking out to the river. Dulce and Mom liked that too!

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Then my friends Tom and Linda came over to meet my mom and visit and chat. They had a wonderful time. I knew they would get along well and easily.

That evening we went to Django for dinner. I had the Cowboy Stew, which I really like with Southwest chicken and pork and served with jalapeno bacon cornbread.

My mom was REALLY digging the fresh combinations of spinach, tomato, onion, guacamole, verda crema on a rice cake with bacon. A real gem!

salmon from Django

The following morning we went to meet our cousins for breakfast at THE SLEEPY BEE and my mom and I shared the Avi omelet and the horrible sounding (to me) pancakes that ROCK, because the butter and the maple syrup and the fact that they taste good AND ARE HEALTHY is such an awesome merger!

Here we are with our family. AND this is real, true, blood family. Both of my folks are adopted but my mom found her birth family. They are so cool! I love them!!!

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After brunch, we went to get my mom’s haircut. She was begging to find someone good to cut her hair! Finally, she did.

Then that evening, she was going to get her surprise dinner at Joan and Charlie’s.

Here is the background story. YEARS ago, when I was backpacking through Europe after college, my mom came and met me in Venice. A restaurant named Madonna Trattoria or Trattoria Madonna was recommended to us. We ordered an appetizer of squid ink pasta with squid ink on top of it, and an entrée. The app was SO UNBELIEVABLY KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF GOOD AND SCRUMPDILLY-UMPTIOUS that we cancelled our entrees and ordered more squid ink pasta with squid ink sauce. EVER since that time…we have tried to find it, re-create it and it is NOT sold in this country. Well, it is in small packets that are NOT the same. We can find the pasta but not the sauce. I went back to Venice when I was living in Paris in 2004 and ate it again, but since then, nothing.

Fast forward to the present, Joan and Charlie spend a month in Venice and she brought some back and served it for dinner. I was stuffed but managed to stuff two full plates down into my belly…I was in heaven! HEAVEN! Now, I am craving it! Crazy good!!!

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And here is a pic of this restaurant with the magical pasta and sauce…

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The next day my mom and I took out our passports and traveled to Harrison, Ohio to go to the highly recommended vet named Laurie.

It was a bit of a poke and seemed even further for my mom and I, but the vet was a great gal. And she had a Boston terrier puppy mix there…OH SO CUTE!!! They called him Squishy. Isn’t he? He was like a belly full of jelly.

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Why is a puppy/dog/cat/elephant/hippo adorable with a large waist but people don’t think humans are? That really bums me out! They say everything goes full circle. I am hoping that the folks from the days of Rembrandts, Renoirs and Matisse paintings who were full figured come back into style one day! I am not saying super chubby, but cute chubby should be CUTE!

That night we went back to LITTLEFIELD to try the Fleur de Bee, which consists of Prosecco, Violette, St. Germaine and Raspberry. They’re insanely good. They knocked both of us on our ears, duffs, tushies, you name it. One drink. The edible flower was delish. I highly recommend it.

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Then we went home and I cooked a homemade meal and my mom set up the balcony for a candlelight dinner. She is so into the ambiance while you know me. I am so into the food!

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The following day we had the Sanibel Sandpipers over for a meeting. The Sanibel Sandpipers are a group of retired women in my building that I have gathered together to sew my Peri the pelican stuffed animal. Here they are with their red noses. I will explain the noses later.

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Later that evening and I do mean much later. Around 9ish, we went to dinner hop. We did it last Fall. We go to 2 restaurants and share two apps at both restaurants.

We started at a fairly new restaurant in Cincinnati called Salazar. The acoustics were atrocious. You can’t hear a damn thing! I hate, detest loud restaurants. I want to talk to the people I am with not shout and grin a lot.

Most people favor the little fried oyster sandwich with kimchi, radish sprouts, and garlic mayo. It was good but the bread overpowered it. Too much bread. My favorite was the duck leg rillette. It comes in a jar with four slices of Blue Oven bread, jalapeno jam, and pickled red onion and to merge all those flavors together is quite the symphony of tastes. I would go back for that one!

duck leg rillette

oyster sandwich

We left there and bellied up to the bar at Jean Robert’s Table. We shared a lobster salad, which was called the Red’s Lobster salad and contained cracker Jacks in it for the Cincinnati Reds. It turns into the Bengals Lobster salad when football season kicked into full gear. It was good. How can good lobster not be good? But I wasn’t in love with it. We had an oyster omelet, which I did really like and my mom was blah on it. It contained oysters, ginger, lemon, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and Kentucky’s sheep’s cheese. I enjoyed the medleys of all the foods together and there was an interesting texture to it all.

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The following morning we went to breakfast with my friend Lynn. She had found this cute little place downtown Cincy, which I am not sure I had ever been to and it was an eclectic little neighborhood. Lynn had read about THE CHEAPSIDE CAFÉ in the paper and I would have never found it if it had not been for her. It was in this tiny little, obscure, architectural gem of a building. The name comes from the street name and it was adorable. Fresh herbs were growing on a shelf. A mural sized photograph of a Cincinnati hillside covered a portion of the wall, while a wood structure captured the majority of the wall. Outside was a wooden teepee that we ate inside of it.

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I had the smoked salmon sandwich with cucumber, pickled onion, and herb cream cheese on salted rye.

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Lynn and my mother had the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of a fried egg, bacon, and pimento cheese on multigrain bread.

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I thought mine sounded better, but I thought theirs was hands down better than mine. Then we ordered some yummy, although espresso sized cappuccinos. Sorry folks, those capps need to be bigger! Because it is too pricey to drink two and one is just too small!!!

After breakfast we went to the Zoo. My mom had not seen the Cincy Zoo in over 20 years! It was so much fun to go there with her and see her face as she saw all the wonderful enhancements to our Zoo. I remember being at the Zoo with my mom as a young child.

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Then we went to Findlay Market, which we both marvel at the fact that when we lived here years ago, we didn’t take advantage of that market. It is truly fabulous! We bought food for dinner and then went home and had another dinner out on my balcony! My sunsets ROCK!!!

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The following morning we drove to Ohio State University for the OSU v. UC game! My stepfather has kept his OSU tickets since his college days. He’s now 76! Do the math! I stink at math! So, my mom and I had the tickets and we were going to see my stepsister’s oldest son who was a freshman at OSU. To me, seeing Matthew was a highlight!

But first, I asked to go to Katzinger’s!

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I was so ridiculously excited for a good Jewish Deli. I knew it wouldn’t be New York good, but I held high hopes! And it is really, really hard to compete with Carnegie Deli, Katz’s, 2nd Ave Deli and Eisenberg’s. It just is!

But when I walked in the joint. I felt like I was in a New York deli and that is such a beautiful thing.

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You can’t go wrong with a corned beef and pastrami sandwich.

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I had to try the potato pancake. Nice crunchy outside.

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And the rugelach was KILLER!!! I mean KILLER!!! And the bagels were VERY tasty too! We brought one home for breakfast the next day!

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Then we went to the game. We parked in China, but the transportation was so unbelievably good.

It was neat to see the stadium!

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My stepsister, Amy’s son, the freshman at OSU and I haven’t seen each other since he was a tot!

He is so adorable! Here is a pic of him with his Auntie Erin.

Matthew and Erin

And his Abu, which is Spanish for grandmother.

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Matthew is part of this group called O block. Here is a pic of where he sits!

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It is so cool to see the band write out Ohio with people.

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The seats were in a great location as you can see but they were MISERABLY uncomfortable. Benches with no backs! I cannot sit on a bench without a back for hours on end. I don’t sit on bar stools unless they have backs. I know what it will do to my back. Agony! You know I am not a complainer but that stinks for me.

A ex-UC football player sat next to us. He was adorable!!!

The next day we went on the Northside House Tour. It is so cool to see the unexpected gems and what people are clever enough to do inside and outside their homes.

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And then you just stumble upon a random cool house. Look at the top of this house!

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After the house tour we went to visit the Guggenheims who lived up the street from us and were one of my folks’ best friends when I was growing up! And my Uncle Jack, who has Alzheimer’s, who I never thought I would see again was home from the facility. They are really, really good people!!!

Then my friend Stephen threw a party for the pool people with yummy nibbles. My mom had a ball visiting with people.

We went to King Wok and I of course had the Moo Shu Pork. It was good and plentiful!

It has been there a long time and Polly Campbell gave it a good write up! My mom says she can’t find good Chinese food in Savannah. So there we were!

Last day my mom was here! My friend Jennie who my mother A-DOR-ES!! Came to breakfast. My mom made this breakfast of guacamole, feta cheese, and a fried egg on top. She placed hers and Jennie’s on a place of sourdough bread. I skipped the bread.

Here was her inspiration.

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We sat and talked and had a wonderful time! Then we went to Einstein’s so my mom could get bagels to take back to Georgia. They had a doggy bagel for Dulce! You know my mom got that for her. Then I took my mom to the airport. Hard to put your mom on a plane to go home and pack up a house and start a new life. My heart goes out to her on what a trooper she is being through this whole ordeal. So unfair. My stepdad is a REAL stinker!!!

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

I HEART NEW YORK

I arrived in my beloved New York on a beautiful early fall day. The traffic was horrendous so my cousin let me off in front of his hotel at 61st & Park and I walked to mine at Central Park South just beyond the Plaza Hotel. Why didn’t I stay at his hotel? By the time I went to book it, it was exorbitant.

I dropped my stuff off and immediately went to Chinatown to Excellent Dumplings, because as the name says…

The place is less than attractive but those dumplings. Here is what it looks like…

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Then I took my dumplings, took a bite and the insides of it oozed down my blouse. OH SO attractive. A mom whose baby drools on her can get away with it, not a grown woman with no children.

WHILE eating the dumplings, I walked over to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles and ordered a bowl of noodles in broth with spinach to go.

I am not a noodle person. I do not know what he does to make these noodles so bloody good, but they ROCK! Here is a picture of him making them…again…if you could see the seating area. It is even less attractive than Excellent Dumplings, but when you taste the noodles….you realize ambiance is so unimportant.

Tasty Noodles

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Noodle man

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

I stopped in a bodega (little market) for a Coke and I took the subway up to Grand Central and boarded the shuttle bus to the US Open that is only for players and press and hoped they wouldn’t notice that I had yet to pick up my credentials. They were not about to come question me after I sat in my seat and began to slurp my noodle soup and eat my spinach with chopsticks and devour my remaining dumplings.

Oh yes, I was home…

I arrived at the tennis and picked up my credentials and ran into an old friend Olivier (but you pronounce his name O-Live-e-a) he is from France and was hired to the company I worked for for several years and he was hired over 20 years ago. He still has a head of hair you want to run your fingers through and he is French so he is automatically sexy. I took my credential in hand and entered through the President’s gate into the Arthur Ashe stadium. I walked down the halls past all the photographs taken by Russ Adams the head photographer. He used to come to the Cincy tournament and I have known him since I was a kid. Look at his work…

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And then the other photos are pics of the Programs at the US Open from year to year.

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Then I immediately went to the Press Room to see my friends. I was so excited to see my friends. It is summer camp, I tell you. A little weird to be in the Press Room without Bud Collins and his wife Anita, and I was bummed to miss seeing my friends Jon and Scott from Sports Illustrated, even though I saw Scott in Cincy.

I first had to stop and see Lizz and Mindy! (Nick is over their shoulder to the right.)

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I saw my friend John who used to be on ABC World News and now is a Columbia professor and a photographer and we met because I saw him on the news every night in the Peter Jennings days and I went and talked to him at the tennis several years ago and admired his work and we have been friends ever since.

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I went and found my friend Robbie who works for AP. Robbie and I have a long, long tradition of him stopping by my desk, giving me the signal it is time for his smoking break and for me to go with him and we stand and chat the length of the cigarette. (You are going to hate this pic, Robbie. Hopefully, you are in New Orleans and not seeing it!)

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Ran into my friend Rick who works at AP too, and I had not seen him in years. Ran into a New York Post writer who I saw in Cincy and my favorite photographers the Mullanes, heart of gold people.

Here is Susan. Sorry Susan, I know you look like a deer caught in the headlights…

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I took pictures of the grounds because the place is always changing….

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Here is a picture of the Press Room. When I left there were 400 different press people here.

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In the Armstrong stadium, the press box was at the top and you could see the court from there and it was a killer view, but in Ashe, you watch it on t.v. You can go up to a section of seats designated for the press, but nothing spectacular. In Ashe, the seats that would have been press seats brought in too much money to give them to the press. Those are now box seats!

Here is a picture of where the players come to be interviewed after a match. The gals to the right transcribe the interview and it goes to the room next door, 400 copies made and passed out to the press people.

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I went up into the CBS Box where the famous or infamous John McEnroe sits to announce the matches with people like my friend Mary Carillo.

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And here is a pic of the television camera that looks down onto center court…

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Leo and I have been friends since I was 18! He makes these FAMOUS brownies, which we all go insane for and when they are gone, they are gone. He brought 6 dozen! Well, I went to see him in the Batcave…that is what we call the room of all the Stats Operations and he said that in a blog I mentioned someone else’s brownies as being my favorite and not his, so he handed me a brownie, which ya’ll know I devoured. And I promised that I would get on the blog and make a public correction or he is going to stop reading my blog (he really wouldn’t) and say I left him off my list of favorites. This is a pic of one of Leo’s Grand Slam (remember we are tennis people) brownies and Leo is right behind it! Thanks for the yummy brownie, Leo!

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The staff at the Open has a cafeteria where we go to eat our meals twice a day. It is less expensive than the food for the public and far more convenient in location and a MUCH shorter and faster line. This year they added outdoor seating that the public can’t get to us and the seats and the flowers are awesome!

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This white flower planter is the start of where they are going to put the posts for the new roof to go on Ashe stadium…there is one of these in all four corners OUTSIDE Ashe stadium.

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I hope this makes sense. The museum of pics of the way it was and the way it will be was closed so I took a pic through the window…

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I took the shuttle back to the city. Saw Greg the guy who owns it and he had a MASSIVE crush on an old friend of mine named Kayla…so he remembers me by association.

Next day, I woke up and went in search of a bagel, not just any bagel.  I would have gone up to H & H, but it was too far and I didn’t want to take that much time. I plugged top NY Bagels into my phone and the closest good bagel was at Essa-bagel. The line was INSANE…..good sign…look:

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Then I went across the street to one of my favorite coffee places called Oren’s….

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It took me 20 minutes each way from hotel to bagels and back. I sat on my bed and ate my everything bagel with cream cheese and drank my coffee and brushed my teeth so I didn’t go to my board meeting with poppy seeds in my teeth. THAT would have been pretty!

This is why New Yorkers are thin…even though I had a bagel with cream cheese…I had to walk for 40 minutes to eat it!

The Board meeting was long and involved but it went relatively smoothly.

Afterward, we went to that French restaurant I hate with the AMAZING bread and I finally, FINALLY found a dish on the menu that I thought was really good….Quiche Lorraine. I will be eating that every year! Not Thomas Keller’s but pretty darn tootin’ good.

After the meeting, I went to meet my friend Karen to discuss a book and get her thoughts. She brought in her team and we brainstormed and it went well. More to come..I will keep you posted…

After the meeting in Brooklyn, I took the train to Columbus Circle and went into Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and got a cup of coffee, forgot to get decaf, and a chocolate almond croissant. Before the coffee and croissant…

I walked into C Wonder, which is Tory Burch’s hubby’s store, and it is half the price of Tory’s stuff and cute…check out the zebra…

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Then I took my croissant and coffee with me to take a walk in Central Park.

This is what is left of the croissant!

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I called my friend Temple down in Atlanta and I walked around the lower loop in Central Park at dusk as the lights came up…

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Loads of people were out exercising after work. Then I walked over to the plaza where the CBS guys used to set up for Sunday morning football. Now an area with tables and chairs were placed across from Central Park, The Plaza Hotel, in front of Cartier, near FAO Schwartz and next to The Apple Store. I sat there and talked to Temple and looked at this glorious city.

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I went home…now 8:30ish and changed my clothes and took the subway to my favorite sushi guru’s place called Nobu Next Door. On my way there I saw this old clock in a window…isn’t this cool.

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Here is a shot of the sushi bar @ Nobu Next Door…..

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Here is a glimpse of what he prepares….a snap shot of the menu…

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I bellied up to the sushi bar and this is what I ate…

First, I had roasted beets and soft shell crap with a Yuzu black garlic vinaigrette.

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Then I had yellowtail with scallions and a piece of tamago

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Finally, my favorite roll, which is salmon and avocado

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Then of course, I went next door and said hi to my longtime waiter Lee. He was working in the fancier restaurant.

I walked out and it was almost 11pm and the street was all torn up and you could see the pipes and I looked down at that…

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Then across the street was a Hispanic man, who was dressed like a construction worker and he was leaning on the building and taking a picture up in the sky. I looked to see what he was taking a picture of and it was the beams of light from the 9.11 sight.

I stopped to take the picture too and told him I was so glad he was doing that and I saw him or I would have missed it.

Here it is…

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Then a group of people saw us taking pics so they stopped and took pics…

And then I had this wonderful, truly New York moment or moments…

I was walking down Franklin Street in Tribeca, it was kinda dark and the construction worker was walking with me.

I said, “Where were you that morning?”

“I was working a job on 14th Street,” he said. He relayed his story.

“I was on 14th too,” I said. “I was home when the planes hit but I was on 14th when the first tower came down. I saw it, did you?”

“Yes,” he said.

We hit the corner and told each other how nice it was to chat and we waved goodbye and wished the other well and went our separate ways. It was such a great NY moment.

I decided to walk home…or most of the way…I stopped and pet a dog named JJ that was so cute and attached to his parents who were eating at a sidewalk café.

I passed a bread baking company that the smell overwhelmed me and made me hungry all over again and I was stuffed from dinner! The sight of the bread was inviting…

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Then…my favorite hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) in Paris is at a place called Laduree and they now have a Laduree in Soho! WOW! DO NOT MISS IT!!!

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I passed two outfits that are the new and latest trends in fur…a fur mask/hat and a fur dress

There is a nutty guy in my building that was promoting gas masks in case we have a 9.11 here, but if we do have to wear them. This really makes a statement.

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But I prefer the fur dress…

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And then I turned around several blocks later and took a pic of the lights that I could still see in the sky…

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The point being that from almost ANYWHERE in the city you could see the Twin Towers and in memory of all those that day…you could see the lights from almost anywhere pointing up to heaven to where they all went…at least that is what I was told years ago the first time they did that honoring the people lost that tragic day.

I finally went to a subway in the Village that my ex-boyfriend Ian and I used to take to his place from mine. Flood of old memories. Then I subbed uptown to the closest stop to my hotel. I walked the last 5 blocks to it…walking in this city is always a treat and a treasure.

The next morning, I woke up and walked through the Park up to Levain’s. I got smart and called ahead for 2 chocolate brioches to be put on hold. I was so glad I did as the line went out the door and up the stairs. I was going to get a third, but they had held the last two for me. I also bought those hockey puck sized chocolate chip cookies, my gift to Jo and Dave for watching Dulce.

I went to Citarella and bought a fresh squeezed orange juice to drink with my chocolate brioche.

LeVain’s chocolate brioche is the BEST!

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I am sure chocolate was all over my face, teeth and hands…ask me if I cared. I was in bliss!

I walked, ate and drank as I walked to the  Eastside via Central Park and passed this to get there…

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and when I was on the other side, I passed The Met and walked up 5th Avenue till I arrived at Dean & Deluca. I bought an iced cappuccino and sat in my window and did what I did a thousand times. I drank my iced capp and watched the people walk by…

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Inside of Dean & Deluca…

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I walked down Madison with the rest of my capp and water…all done!

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I hopped on a subway and took my suitcase down to my friend Michael’s in the Village and then went to meet my friend Kathleen from my CBX days at Haru for lunch.

Kathleen is lovely and was my confidant when I was at CBX aka Colemanbrandworx. Since those days, her young son is now at NYU, she and her hubby split, kinda like my mom and stepdad, and she moved to Manhattan.

Kathleen used to live in Westchester and she would ride her bike to the train out there, train into the city and then ride her bike from Penn Station to our office on 21st and B’way! Very cool.

She is a neat lady! We had a nice time and yummy food!

She told me a colleague of ours died. A woman named May. It was jarring. Kathleen and I are both breast cancer survivors. She is further out then me. We had similar treatments. May had breast cancer and was not even staged!!! It came back, they didn’t catch it, she ended up with a double mastectomy and was slow to get the treatment, in part because of her heritage as a first generation Chinese woman and the rules and ways of her family and she died! I still have moments since that lunch with Kathleen that I don’t understand how someone Stage 0 is no longer alive and she was MY age! Heart breaking.

I left Kathleen and wandered in ABC Carpet….so fun!

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I went to this cute little food shop called WHISK and they had a lot of cookie cutters and I told them what I wanted and they told me they could make it with a printer for a few bucks….HOW AMAZING is THAT!!!!

Went to Fish Eddy’s. They sell plates, cups, cool joint and they are selling a plate in there with well known landmarks on it and it is so controversial…you have to read the story to believe it. I bought this plate there almost a decade ago and suddenly the port authority in NY is outraged by this cute plate?

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Then of course, I went into EATALY…Batali, Mario’s brilliant Italian shop and it is BRILLIANT…he must be minting money! The place was packed. The lines for the espresso and the gelato are long. The restaurants inside are packed…It is well laid out, thought out, designed and so appealing…

Then I went outside and sat at a table with the EATALY to my right, the Madison Square Park to my left and the Flatiron building straight ahead…sitting in a space at 23rd & 5th in what used to be the street and now is seating…with umbrellas!

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I was bad I ate a second lunch…but I couldn’t resist…my favorite corned beef and pastrami sandwich is at Eisenberg’s…look at this!!!!

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LOVE the shirt!!!

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Then I took the subway up to 66th and B’way and I got out of the subway and saw a guy named Steve that I worked with at CBX!

I was out on the street and ran into my friend Mary’s husband named Tom! Feeling small world in NY. How odd!

I went to Century 21, which is an awesome store. I like the one downtown better!

I sat in a park and watched people….I usually have myself booked solid with friends but so many of my friends were gone for Labor Day week that they weren’t there and I had all this free time to walk, wander and relax!

I went to meet my friends Natalie and Sabrina, two sisters that I am friends with and we met at The Atlantic Grill.

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We sat at the bar and drank Sake and ate sushi. It was yummy and so fun!

I LOVE my friends!!!

I MISS my friends!!!

AND I love visiting with them!!!

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Then me, who is rarely buzzed made my way down to Michael’s in the Village via the subway. Michael and I sat on the couch and talked for an hour and then I had to crash!

The next morning we sat around talking and he made a pot of coffee. We walked over to a place he said I must try if I never had…Caffé Reggio. I am SO glad he took me there. I lived in Manhattan for 6 years and I walked by the place a MILLION times not knowing that it was the home, the start of the first cappuccino and they are good!

outside Caffe Reggio

 

This is where Michael and I sat in the window seat!

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The ORIGINAL cappuchino machine!

 

old capp maker

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Then I went up to Sloan Kettering to do some research for a book!

Then I went to THE BACK SEED down in my old neighborhood of Nolita and tried a wood fired bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomatoes, and capers. It was yummy!

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I walked past my old apartment. When I lived there there was a bodega (sm. Market) across the street the size of a small seven eleven and now my favorite salad place CHOP’T is in that space.

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Next to my building was a shoe shop and now it is a place to buy crepes!

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Then I just walked ALL over the place.

I went to Union Square and the first thing I saw was this seemingly naked man in a g-string playing some music.

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Love the food market at Union Square…

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First they put chairs in Harvard Yard so you can sit in them instead of on the lawn and now the same thing has spread to Union Square Park! Why did you wait till I was gone to do this!

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Why pay a lot of money on overhead for a store when you can just pull up in a truck and sell it out of there?

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I saw this in NY and then came back to Cincy and they were doing this at City Flea in Washington Park. If they can sell food out of a truck, why not clothes?

 

I saw a man that needed to hold the back of his friends pants. Threat of a wedgie? I am not letting you go? You can not walk in a straight line? Who knows why!

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Listen hot, gay man…I am a yellow lab and I can walk myself and hold my own leash..you talk to the other hot gay guy to your right that you are ignoring me for…

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I went to Dean & Deluca and got a sandwich for dinner on the plane. I went back to Michael’s grabbed my bag and in the pouring rain he took me down to a cab and we said goodbye. My dear, dear sweet, fascinating, informative friend.

And then my flight was ALL messed up! They took everyone at my gate and divvied us out to various gates to get help on re-routing. I started calling friends ALL over the place to meet me for dinner if I flew through their towns…friends in Charlotte, Atlanta, Boston!

Finally, I got home! Jo and Carolyn picked me up at the airport and I gabbed all the way home!

I already miss New York….

My true, true love….

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Foodie Adventures with Mom & Dulce, Family, Mexican Lattes & More

Life is so interesting sometimes it is dull and other times not so much! I was originally going to tell you about the attack of the ladybugs on my balcony and how I spent hours polishing my almost black silver. I know I should join the ranks of millions that gave theirs away but I just love it when it is all sparkly. I went to this really cool antique car show down at Spring Grove with over 300 antique cars. I went for a jog and there were all these cars.  They were so cool!  So big, beautiful! I was also going to tell you that I  decided to pull out canvases that I bought when I lived in NY and attempt to paint. I sat on the floor and turned the pics I was trying to paint upside down to see if I could paint them from another perspective, because I was taught if you can’t paint what you see…turn it upside down. My mom came to town and said, “Did your friends kids paint those?” I replied, No. She gave me this look of you poor, pathetic child. What she said was, “You are immensely talented in so many ways, but painting is not one of them!” Love you too, Mom!

 

Now, this is where life gets interesting. When my mom comes to town. We have this tendency to chop off our heads and run around like chickens. When I lived in Manhattan she showed up like clockwork every 3-4 months with a grotesquely large list of things to do and restaurants where she wanted to eat. We would get up early in the morning and just start running. We went till we dropped late at night. It reminded me of the National Lampoon movie, Vacation scene where Chevy Chase looks at the Grand Canyon and says, Next! My mom usually showed up when I was babysitting a cat that lived in a 10-million dollar apartment with neighbors that included Hugh Jackman and David Bowie. 

 

Now that I live in Cincinnati, she shows up once a year or once every two years with a relatively long list. The good part about the list is that it is full of restaurants she wants to try. The bad part about the list is that we both eat and somehow she stays skinny and I gain the weight for the two of us or so it feels. I go out for 3-mile runs to alleviate the weight gain and she sits on the couch and nibbles on leftovers. No justice.

 

This trip she brought my four-legged sister Dulce. Dulce is Spanish for sweet. We were concerned about abandoning her the first day so she went with us on our first food outing. TACOCRACY. It is tucked into a building down in Northside across from the now defunct Honey. The sign reads Northside Airport, but there really is not an airport out back. If there was you know I would be a daily customer.  In the back they sell clothes, make-up, bicycles, but in the front they sell these amazing gourmet tacos. I think I have told you I am addicted to the duck taco.

 

I told my mom to order whatever she wanted because I live here and I can go there all the time and lets face facts if it isn’t eyeballs or pig’s feet. I eat or will try virtually anything. So, this is what my mom ordered.

 

DUCK-sweet and savory duck slow-cooked with dried apricots & juniper berries, paired with an extra sharp Vermont white cheddar,
in a house-made crunchy corn tortilla with our “pear de gallo” salsa and romaine lettuce.

 

GREEN CHORIZO-locally made chorizo, cooked “green” style w/roasted poblano & serrano chilies, in a soft white corn tortilla w/extra sharp white cheddar & chihuahua cheese, uncured black pepper bacon, grape tomatoes, romaine lettuce, scallions, salsa verde & crema.

 

MUSHROOM MEDLEY- a collection of wild, seasonal and local ‘shrooms roasted with a smoky black truffle-balsamic glaze, on a flour tortilla with Chihuahua cheese, baby spinach, onion & grape tomatoes and rojo salsa.

 

We loved the duck and the green chorizo. The mushroom medley was very good but the others were our favorites.

 

We came home and hungout until we were ready for dinner. You think I am joking. Wait till you see how much we have eaten since she arrived. It is ridiculous. The fat specialist is definitely going to be writing me after this blog.

 

I have discovered this hole in the wall joint in Clifton called Thai Express. The gals are literally from Thailand and they have the biggest woks I have ever seen in my life! They make the best pad thai I have ever had since I lived in Washington, D.C. We also ordered the satay, which was good, but it was the pad thai that was so yummy!

 

Then I defrosted a hockey puck from LeVain’s in New York that I had bought for my mom. It was dark chocolate with peanut butter chips. It was good, but it didn’t knock her socks off, but my chocolate brioche would have!!!

 

Next day, we tried to recoup, but we had a long journey of food coming up! I took my mom to the unveiling of my dad’s Tennis Hall of Fame plaque. My stepmonster was certainly unnerved by the appearance of my mother. But my mom supported my dad’s tennis career and my stepmom made him stop playing so who should have been there? She was her usual delightful self not speaking to me. She couldn’t even say hello. OH so lovely, NOT! She was nice to my mom, she was nice to my Uncle and she was deplorable to me. Go figure.

 

We left there and went to meet my Aunt Barbara at Teller’s for dinner. She wanted to hear the dirt. She wanted to hear if there was a cat fight. Terry’s Turf Club and Zip’s are known for being the best burgers in town, but Teller’s has a really good burger. My friend Alex was checking out burgers and discovered that little kernel of goodness. Big juicy burger with cheese, white cheese, no clue what, bacon, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, onion so yummy.

 

And then…I know this will shock you, but I went to Graeter’s and bought a caramel apple. I split it with my mom. I can share.

If you haven’t noticed we are the folks that have to have a bite of something sweet after we eat. Even if it is only a bite. We need that bit of sweetness.

 

Next day, I took my mom to Knickers of Hyde Park to get her a miracle bra. Oh what a hoot! They really are not geared to the smaller set, but the gals there Jenny and Julie are so great! My mom didn’t find her perfect bra. She put one on hold and we were off to meet my friend Jennie at Green Papaya. We ordered a spider roll, which is a soft shell crab. Yum! We ordered a spicy tuna roll. We ordered two specialty rolls. Green Papaya Roll which is: shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, mango, cream cheese wrapped w/ green soy bean topped w/ spicy mayo, crab stick & tempura flakes. And a Rainbow roll, which is California roll Topped w/ assorted fish & avocado. I love Green Papaya. It is not Nobu, but the sushi is consistently good. The staff is good and friendly and it is a nice atmosphere.

 

We left Jennie and the fascinating conversations of narcissistic personality disorders and the variety of ways it affects partners who have it.

           

We raced down to Holtman’s Donuts to meet my friend Mindy and her four out of five kids. Love her kids. The oldest is at college. They are home schooled for the first time this year. I told them to figure out how eating donuts can be a school project. Does it have to do with math, science or how could it be homework? You all have to know if there is a way for me to rationalize eating something good, I will.

           

So Mindy got a peanut butter and jelly donut. It was pretty tasty. My mother tried the chocolate donut with peanut butter swirled on top. I tried the cheese crown and let me tell you. Mine was the best! I was expecting it to be cheese filled but tucked in beneath a layer of cheese filling was a thick layer of the crumble part of a crumble coffee cake. Oh baby, baby! I was not expecting it. It was such a lovely surprise.

 

I then went home and ran with my mom’s pooch. I felt like I was running in the center of a large Firestone tire. I was moving slower than molasses. I can’t imagine why?

           

Then I came home and we ate leftovers. I knew with my mom in town, I was going to be permanently full.

 

Next day, Sidewinders for Mexican Lattes. We crave these drinks! We have tried a dozen times to duplicate it in the privacy of our homes and to no avail. I can’t figure out the secret. The recipe says it is espresso, chocolate, cayenne and cinnamon. A friend/chef suggested Mexican chocolate. Still doesn’t taste the same. I just can’t figure it out. And I desperately need to because I cannot afford to drink a $5 coffee on a regular basis.

 

However, it was a bonus day! My mom and I met my friend Libby who is a pastry chef at Bonbonnerie. The weather was so nice we were able to sit in back garden at Sidewinders and be with Patrick Swayze. He is the Sidewinders rabbit. Bet you thought there was more in my Mexican Latte than I alluded to originally.

We left Sidewinders and grabbed my sister. Remember, she has four legs and we took her to the new fabulous dog park at Washington Park. She was being coy and shy and so in a feeble attempt to get her engaged with the other dogs. I ran around the park and had all the dogs chase me. My sweet little sister shyly followed. The other dogs just thought I was the head dog and that afternoon I was!

 

That evening we went to this awesome little Chinese restaurant on Hamilton Avenue in College Hill called Chung Ching. It is a dumpy looking place. The write up in Cincy Mag gave it five out of five stars. Definitely not for décor. We shared a Moo Shi Pork and Szechuan Pork and veggies. Maybe because they moved slowly and we waited 30 minutes for the food or maybe it was just that tasty. I did get a fortune cookie with no fortune. Scared the crap out of me. The waitress ran and got me another one. The blank one was better!

 

Saturday morning we woke up to pouring rain. The only way to remedy it was to treat ourselves to anther Mexican Lattes at Sidewinders. We then went to something called City Flea that was in the Can-Loft Building in Northside. Cool space. It was a bunch of booths thankfully in a large space indoors and the items ranged from vintage clothing, to trinkets, to food, to cookware. The folks selling their wares couldn’t have been nicer if they tried, which I thought was a brilliant selling tool and one all retail folks should adopt. We tried a sample muffin that was a chicken potpie cooked into a muffin in muffin form. Clever!

 

Then as a gift to my mother the HUMONGOUS football fan, I called a college buddy and had him get us tickets to the UC football game. It was pouring outside. I was dreading it. The things we do for our mothers! Luckily, and thankfully the seats were undercover. We made it through the third quarter before we left. Go BEARCATS!

 

That evening we went to this hole in the wall authentic Mexican restaurant in Reading, Ohio located in the heart of the bridal gown district and one of the largest bridal gown districts in the country. There sits Margarita’s! I ordered a green enchilada. Yum. My mom the connoisseur of Mexico and Mexican eats and their authenticity said it was one of the best green Verde sauces she had ever tasted. Then I did a Tex mex thing and against my mother’s judgment I ordered a plate of nachos with cheese and chorizo. So simple and yet so delicious. Then to drink we ordered Horchatos. It is a Mexican rice drink. It sounds blah, but trust me on this one. It is delicious and sweet and the first time I ever had one was when I was traveling in Barcelona. A couple named Jay and Nini, who I met over there, suggested I try it. I drank it every day after the first day. I just loved it. They were a cool couple. They lived in San Diego and sold their condo and took the money from the sale and decided to take five months and travel around the world. Then he was going to MIT for an MBA. I was in graduate school in Boston at the time so we met in Barcelona and became fast friends. He always dared me to eat crazy things with him. I would eat certain things but not others. He kept saying that Chinese people would eat anything! He and Nini were Chinese. And you know what, I think he was right. And I am so glad he introduced me to the Horchato!

I know it is starting to look like my mom and I have a Mexican Latte issue because we were there for a third straight day, but it was our tradition to pick up a Mexican Latte and drink it on our way to Burlington Flea Market. We LOVE Burlington. It is open from April to October and it is the third Sunday of the month. It is booth after booth of antiques, treasures, and pure crap. I love to walk through it. I have bought tables, chairs, mirrors and probably so much more there. I try to go religiously!

 

We came home and called my crazy friend Trouble to come over for a few hands of RumiQ, my favorite game. Then I made us tossed salads for dinner. Living in NY, I learned to make a kick ass good salad and I always, always, always make homemade dressings. I am sick of romaine lettuce. I use butter, green leaf or red leaf lettuce. I slice a little onion into it and then depending on mood or refrigerator contents, I usually throw in some variation of the following. Tomatoes, avocado, ham, hard-boiled egg, bacon & cucumber. Dressing. I had a friend in Atlanta named Peyton who spent a year abroad in France and taught all of us this simple and yummy French dressing recipe that I do not have precise measurements, but just play with it. Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar and oil. Mix and serve.

           

Next day, my mom went out and so I did things around my condo and went to meet my friend Viv and her dog, Button. I took my sister along with me. Button and Dulce walked in circles smelling each other’s tushes. Can you imagine if we behaved that way? I came upstairs and started to cook for my family dinner party the following evening. So far, I had eaten rather normally since the evening before, but that was getting ready to go to pot because my mom was going to be ready to eat out soon. I could sense it. She made this huge proclamation that we had eaten Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and we were running out of nationalities. It was time to eat Indian. My favorite Indian in Cincy is Ambar India. When I left Cincy in the early nineties my friend Swami was the only one who owned an Indian restaurant. I moved back years later and there are so many here I couldn’t begin to count them all.

 

We ordered the Saag Paneer, which is the spinach dish with cheese. My mom loves lamb so we ordered Lamb Korma with cream, cashews and raisins. It all was delicious. I was terribly nervous when she ordered it. You order on a scale of one to six and six is the spiciest. It is crazy spicy. So spicy I tend to do a 1 or 2 and feel like a wimp. Not my mom. She went for the middle of the spectrum, but it ended up being just fine. Great Indian. A bit pricey, but really good.

           

The Indian gave my artsy, fartsy mother a boost of energy and she decided to do what she always does when she comes to town. She began to rearrange my knick-knacks and move things around my condo. After many years of observing this, I learned to move them back how I like them after she leaves town. If I remember to do it. Apparently, I don’t care enough to stop her in the first place!

           

After a spicy Indian dinner one requires a little sweet. My mom spoke of this amazing caramel milkshake she had on Sanibel and I had a killer one at Mr. Bartley’s in Harvard Square so I bought some Haagen Dazs, Dulce de Leche ice cream and made us milkshakes. Now, I have yet ANOTHER thing I am addicted to and love. And again, I am going to have to go for a run in the morning or I will weight a bazillion pounds the way I am eating.

           

Tuesday morning I woke up and began to cook. I have this friend named Alston who lives down in Lexington and she is a fabulous cook. She once told me her favorite cookbook was something called Bluegrass Winners. It is a cookbook of all these yummy recipes from the horse farms of Lexington. There is so much in that cookbook that is yummy, but one of my favorites is this dish called Chicken and Sausage Supreme. It is chicken, sausage and sautéed mushrooms in this brown sauce or roux and it is simple but yummy.

 

I have never ever made bread in my life. Okay, I have made beer bread, but I had never made a French baguette and I found a recipe to make a 4-hour French baguette from scratch. I thought, who better to experiment on than family.

 

Then I made Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa’s, apple pie, except I didn’t make a homemade crust. I cheated and bought that at the store and then instead of the criss cross apple pie covering I made a crumble like a coffee cake topping. It didn’t look so pretty, but it tasted delicious. I had none leftover.

 

Main course was the chicken and sausage supreme. The veggies included a mashed butternut squash that was sweet due to brown sugar and maple syrup. Then I roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese. I had homemade bread and then apple pie with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

 

My mom was adopted and found her birth mother many years ago and had a relationship with her. She died (my mom’s mom) and my mom kept in touch with the family via phone, emails, and they invited us to a family reunion. They are so awesome. For my mom it was the pieces of the puzzle that explained her. They all have the same fingers! It is so weird to look at my cousins’ hands and see they look like my mom’s. I have Holzman hands.

 

For me, meeting these folks was like meeting my kindred souls and explaining my personality to me. I was so nervous to attend the family reunion. We were outsiders and foreigners, but they couldn’t have been more welcoming and they are just so fun, so nice and so easy to be with, so outgoing, and spunky with hearts of gold. I feel so lucky to have discovered family. And family that I like and connect with so I have been fortunate enough to spend time with them, and I was now having them for dinner so my mom could spend some time with them too.

 

We had a ball. Every single time after I am with them I call my mom and this time I could look at her face to face and say I LOVE YOUR FAMILY! Our family.

 

We went in search of her dad. We connected with his kids, and for a while they were so great and they dropped us like a hot potato. My mom wanted to meet her dad. Even if he never knew it was my mom, his daughter, she didn’t care, she wanted to meet him. We tried to do it, but they just blew us off. It is such a shame. What is really eerie about that is that we saw family pictures from my mom’s half sisters and my mom and I look so much like them that if we put our baby pictures with theirs…we weren’t sure we could tell the difference.

 

Makes us want to meet him and them even more until they blew us off. I don’t know what concerns them, but it is a shame for my mom, but at least she met the other side of the family. They ROCK!

 

Well, I am going to stop for now. My mom is still in town and so I have plenty more foodie adventures to share with you!

 

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

           

           

           

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Brioche, Dark Hot Chocolate, Sushi & Satisfaction

Tony Bennett’s heart might belong in San Francisco, but mine is definitely in New York! I think I was born to live in New York! They say that when you move to Charleston, SC that you are never ever considered part of the in circle even if you were born a southerner. Well, in NY the philosophy is the day you arrive there. You are a New Yorker.

New York has such a bad connotation attached to it. People think of thugs, Law & Order shows, the mob movies, murder and mayhem, but there is so much more to New York than all of that violence. I was once told to never ever make eye contact with a New Yorker or they may kill you.

New Yorkers are some of the nicest, most down to earth, kind people you can ever meet. If they are rude to you it is because they are on a tight time schedule. Someone explained it to me once and it is so bloody true!

In NY, you figure out how long it will take you from the time you wake up to the moment you walk into the office. You figure it out like a science. Thirty seconds to brush your teeth, two minutes to pee, ten to get dressed, ten to make and eat breakfast, five to walk to get a coffee, ten in line, five to subway, twenty on subway, ten from subway to office. So, when a tourist comes up to you and asks for directions to the Empire State Building it is throwing off your schedule. It may seem like a New Yorker is being rude or abrasive, but in reality they are thinking I am losing valuable time here! I am on a tight schedule. I was on the poddy for seven minutes instead of two and now you are taking five minutes and I have now lost ten essential minutes. I have to get to work.

Gosh, I love New York!

I become this insanely happy, confident, full of life person when I hit my home of New York even though born in Ohio. I am a New Yorker at heart.

So, I had this wonderful opportunity to go to my beloved city for four days this summer. And just thinking about it makes me do my happy dance!

I arrived late in the evening and immediately went to my favorite sushi place. I didn’t even go to my friend’s condo first. I went directly to Nobu. I love Nobu. He is this brilliant Japanese chef that has restaurants in L.A. and New York and probably several other places and he is AMAZING! I always order his miso cod. You think miso soup and cod fish. Trust me on this one…it is not just another piece of fish tasting like miso soup. It is a piece of fish that sings to you, it resonates with your taste buds, and it is akin to Yo Yo Ma playing a moving piece. And then the sushi. I have no idea why it tastes so much better at Nobu than another New York joint or a sushi spot in Cincy, except the man must have an eye and nose for good, fresh fish.

I belly up to the bar and order my food. I start to giggle because I am so excited. My regular waiter Lee is next door at the other restaurant. The sushi chef is across from me and I watch his every move. His knives are incredible. They cut through thick, heavy pieces of fish like they are butter. The artistry in the presentation is exquisite. I eat my sushi with my fingers. No chopsticks for me. MY friend/neighbor Stephen from Boston spent a year in Japan and came back and said, “You are supposed to eat sushi with fingers. I do! I went to Japan and learned this is true! The other thing I learned is how to say thank you. Put your hands palm to palm in front of your chest. Bend over and say, R-E-GATO. That is the phonetic spelling for thank you in Japanese.

I left my suitcase there by the front door and went next door to find Lee. I told him I would be back this winter and see him. He hugged me goodbye. I have a friend that loves Nobu, but thinks I am nuts to go back. When she finds better sushi than Nobu. I will go there. Until then, I do not go to NY without going to Nobu!

If anyone has wondered about sushi but scared to try it. The first time you go, you must go somewhere really good and really special. Fresh, high quality sushi and then you too will be hooked. I always wondered if they put opium in the wasabi? There must be something in that sushi that makes you crave it like a drug.

I left Nobu, and dragged my suitcase down the streets of Tribeca and hopped on the Franklin Street subway for 72nd Street. I got to my friend’s apartment and showered, brushed my teeth, read and was asleep fast.

Next morning, my first stop was Central Park for a run. I can’t believe how skinny everyone is and too skinny. Leave a little meat on the bones. The weather was beautiful. Everyone was leaving me in the dust. I jogged from Central Park directly to LeVain’s.

I probably shouldn’t say this in a blog, because people will read it and go get it. If I go and they are out of this one particular item, because ALL of you that read this went and bought them, I will cry! Everyone loves their decadent cookies the size of a hockey puck. I fell in love with their chocolate brioche. It sounds so simple. It looks so ordinary and yet it so extraordinary. I just love it! You bite into it thinking I will only eat half and you eat the entire thing and then you need a big glass of milk. You have chocolate all over your mouth, face, in-between your fingers and you are so happy that you could careless!

So, I grabbed my chocolate brioche. I went to the market Fairway for a thing of milk. I went to Jillian’s flat and out on the balcony with the sun beaming down on me. I sat there looking at skyscrapers, eating my chocolate brioche, drinking my milk. I was home. I was in my heaven. I was in New York! Love. Unconditional love. Most people have a love/hate relationship with New York. I just loved it! Always!

After my chocolate brioche, I went to hangout with my USOpen friends. It was so great to see them all. I just love them! We all chat up a storm. We say anything. Working at the USOpen was always like two weeks at summer camp with your best friends. You all have the same interests, similar backgrounds, and you are away from home and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And you can say anything to these people because they do not live in your immediate circle of friends. They go back to Rome, Paris, Sydney, Vermont, Boston and so it creates this wonderful safe illusion. I just love it.

Friday evening my crazy friend Lizz with two “z” in her name and I went to some new restaurant on the Upper Westside. I normally do not do chain restaurants and I try to avoid them like the plaque, but she had tried it in Philly and said it was great. Cool concept. The food was good, but not killer. It was called Luke’s Lobster up on Amsterdam. So, we ordered 2 lobster rolls, 2 crab rolls and 2 shrimp rolls and we each got a bag of Cape Cod chips. We sat outside on the sidewalk at a table and pretended we were in Maine by the water. It was good! It was fun! Best lobster roll is still Mary’s Fish Camp or Pearl Oyster!

Lizz walked me back to my friend Jillian’s and then made the long drive back to her home in CT. Lizz and I met at the USOpen and really are like two peas in a pod. We just have a ball together. She and her hubby grew up and live in CT, but she always came into the city to meet me frequently. We were hamburger hunters. We were two women on a mission to find the best burgers. We both fell in love with this obscure place in the Parker Meridien tucked into a corner where you can get a cheap and good burger and fries. We were also fans of Shack Shake in Madison Square Park. I remember when that was a man with a fold up table selling hotdogs in the park and it turned into a restaurant in the park and one of the hottest and hippest places to eat in Manhattan!

Saturday morning I woke up and excitedly went to meet my friend Michael for our traditional New York brunch at Noho Star. We meet there because Noho Star has the best bloody mary I have ever drunk! And Michael only lives a few blocks away.

Michael and I met ten years ago when I used to take care of his dog Diogie.  We stayed friends. He started his career at Columbia and is now over at NYU. I love Michael. We sit and catch up on each others lives, careers, love interests or in my case lack thereof. We talk for hours! Always at least two. That morning to the left of us were these four women that had legs so long that I seriously felt like they stopped at the top of my head. No joke. They looked like models. They sat down and immediately became very affectionate with one another. I thought so this is what they call the lipstick lesbians. Really pretty gay women are sometimes called lipstick lesbians. Behind Michael over his shoulder was Olympia Dukakis. I loved her in the movie MOONSTRUCK. I use one of her quotes constantly. “Do you love him Loretta?” Cher responds yes. Olympia’s character says, “That’s a shame! When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can!” This is true!

I walked Michael down to his apartment building. He did something he always does, which I treasure. He always says, “Move back to New York, Erin.”  We hug goodbye and know we will see each other the next time.

I left him and took a walk in my old neighborhood of Soho. It was crowded as always. Somethings changed others didn’t. When I lived in NY years ago, I found this fabulous place up on Madison that had this class called Core Fusion that I adored. It took me thirty minutes to subway up there and another thirty to get back and the class is 1.5 hours long. They now have a space a block from my old apartment. So jealous! My apartment building has two crepe places alongside it.  Glad those weren’t there. I may have been tempted to get one for dinner after work, way too many nights. I went to Dean and Deluca. I used to buy an iced cappuchino there every single morning on my way to work for $4.50 cents and then throw the change into the tip jar. I bought a bag of that expresso when I was there and have been making capps at home. The bag cost $15 which I thought was exorbitant, but I have already gotten nine capps out of it, so why was I buying those $5 capps? I know, it was all part of the New York experience. So, I could walk a few extra blocks, so the ladies behind the counter could say, Hi Erin, and I could say hi to them with all their names. Because Dean and Deluca is so decadent and wonderful. Who knows why I bought those capps instead of making them at home? This time, I bought the bag instead of one iced capp!

I then went to the other extreme of Dean & Deluca. I went to a massage parlor in the Village that my friend Jackie had introduced me to years ago and I try to go when I am in town. Imagine an hour-long massage for $52!! This includes the tip. And it is good! As my Asian friends used to say to me, you always want an Asian giving you a massage because they give the best massages. They know exactly where to go and what you need.

Well, the first time Jackie took me there. She said this is where the Goldman traders come. It smells funny, but they are good. This time they had ripped up that nasty carpet and had wood floors. Getting fancy except that the wall dividers between all the tables are curtains. And this time, I almost got a happy ending. She went a little to high up for my liking. Yikes! Glad I keep my undies on! I wanted to yell, Girl here! Girl who does not want a happy ending…you want to bring in George Clooney then that is a different story. BUT…she, the masseuse, didn’t speak English so I couldn’t say anything. Oh well. The massage was great!

I left there and rushed up to meet my friends Natalie and Sabrina at Bouchon Bakery. We got there and Natalie’s daughter was a little shy and a little rambunctious and itching to go to Central Park and play and quite frankly, I didn’t blame her.

We went and sat on the bench and then Natalie’s daughter took off and Natalie followed. Apparently, Natalie’s hubby had a college friend from Yale over for dinner the previous night. She was a filmmaker. Apparently quite the character. She decided and told my friend and her husband that she was sleeping over and it was too late and she was too tired to go back to her apartment that was thirty blocks away. She could have grabbed a cab and been home in less than 10 minutes. She could have taken a subway and been home in less than 10 stops, but she wanted to stay and the next day, afternoon she was still there. I was a little worried he may be stepping out with this gal until I met her. She looked like John Lennon. Glasses, long hair and all. She was dressed in tight black clothes from head to combat boots. She had a fanny pack on and she saw all the kids and started to reach into her fanny pack and pull out a joint to which we all said, “KIDS! You can’t smoke on the playground!” She was completely perplexed and confused. She claimed she used to smoke in the park in the 60s. “Why has that changed?” She left and I looked at Sabrina and asked how much older her sister’s husband is. She told me he was 16 years older when they started to date, but every time you ask him, he drops a few years. She is waiting for him to be younger than her sister. I absolutely loved the story. I think SO many people do that! Natalie and Sabrina are such lovely and wonderful people. A delight to be around them.

I left them and went to meet my friend Jillian for dinner. We went to Atlantic Grill. We shared Crispy lobster & shrimp rolls with a green papaya salad and spicy coconut sauce. For my entrée, I ate the fiery Maine lobster & salmon roll with green apple, avocado, honey calamansi sauce. It was good but not killer.

I left Jillian and pretended I was 25 years old and went to a party that didn’t start till 10pm. It was a USOpen party. It was a lot of fun. Nice folks. Folks I had never met before. I sat between a gal from Brazil, a guy from Sydney who had a Thai mom and a Swedish dad. I got home from the party at 2ish!

That is what I would call a classically typical New York day! So NY! So odd, so fun! SO NY!

Sunday morning Lizz started calling me at 9ish to meet her for hot chocolate. Our newest tradition when I was in town for the last four plus years. I was tired. I wanted to sleep in a bit. I wanted to go for a run. I thought she should come to the Upper Westside to meet me. She was on the Eastside in the mid-30s. I did not want to go. I wanted to sleep, but when I am on vacation, I realize, sleep when you are home. See friends while you can. Lizz is one of my best friends in the world. I had to go! So, I jogged to the subway. I jogged from the subway to City Bakery. It got me there faster, and I got a workout! This is good because this hot chocolate rivals Parisian hot chocolate. It tastes like they melted three luscious, dark chocolate gourmet bars into a cup. Heavenly. Decadent. Out of this world good AND a homemade marshmallow on top. Usually. This time. No. No marshmallows in the summer. I thought Lizz was going to pass out from the shock and disappointment of no marshmallow. We drank our hot chocolates and chatted.

I was watching this geeky, nerdy, seemingly sweet man fall all over his dime store, trashy wife. They had a kid. She had a rock on her finger and a skirt that barely covered her hootchie cootchie. The kid did all sorts of things and she flat out didn’t care. The dad was a nervous nelly and the wife would have let the kid play in traffic. I wondered if in the end it was worth it for him to have eye candy and not even good eye candy on his arm in exchange for a gal with seemingly no redemptive qualities.

Lizz and I said our farewells. I jogged from 5th & 18th back to 7th & 18th…they are long blocks. I took the subway to 59th Street. I got out and jogged through the park and came out near 79th and went to Zabar’s  for coffee.

I have this dear friend named Eric from Cincy. We have been friends for 24 years. I love Eric. He is a wonderful, wonderful friend. A wonderful person. We met at Bouchon Bakery for my final café au lait and I was going to get Quiche Lorraine, which sings to me. I am certain that no one else’s Quiche Lorraine holds a candle to Thomas Keller’s. Why mess with perfection? Well, they had some kitchen difficulties and so we couldn’t eat there. I was deeply saddened. Eric had found a place in Hell’s Kitchen called Taboon. It is on 10th between 52nd and 53rd.  I like to be adventurous and finding new things is so great. I ordered the Green Shakshooka with ground lamb, swiss chard and I had them toss halumi into it. Oh it was so yummy. Their bread was so yummy. I would highly recommend it.

After lunch Eric walked with me to say my farewells to Fairway & Citarella, which are fabulous grocery stores!!!

I went back to Jillian’s flat and chatted with her till it was time to go home. I just love my Cincy flat, but I do indeed miss NY!