Wrap It Up. August 23 2013.

Jasper in Box Hammock

Aww, it’s Mr. Jasper.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the ways of cats, but this orange tabby has never met a box that couldn’t be lounged in. This particular box was approximately 1/3 too small for his husky build, but he assessed, wiggled and found a way to make it work, hammock-style.  The world is a nap surface.

It’s been a busy week, and I’m looking to forward to some quality putzing time on the New York City streets and my couch.  Earlier this week, I applied for yoga teacher training, which I have been thinking about for a long time.  And then I got in!  (Yay me!!) Plus ten grownup points.  And then I accidentally paid for it twice and threw my finances into a tizzy.  (Boooooooooo.)  Minus ten grownup points.  Rules for the weekend: Less money spending and less alcohol drinking.

Stuff:

Animals jumping on trampolines.  My favorite part is the Shiba Inu, who is analyzing the trampoline so hard he can’t possibly enjoy himself. Like, ugggghhh, if I only had the right tools, I could only fix this gosh darn broken floor and everything would be fine.

Have you guys seen Maisy and Lennon Stella on Nashville yet?  Their rendition of Ho Hey by The Lumineers is just the best, I can’t get over how talented and adorable they are.

Guys with fancy lady hair.

I’m trying to get the family to go to a new place in Flushing for dim sum.  I love our standby Dong Yi Feng, but sometimes you just want to try something new.  Any suggestions?

Have an amazing weekend! (Can you believe that summer is almost over??! Go outside!  Fly a kite! Tan!)

Love, Grace

A Secretly Luxurious Happy Hour at Louro

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Yesterday, I went on exploratory mission with my friend Matthew to the curiously deserted Louro in the West Village.  This space used to be Low Country. Low Country, Louro.  In the same grey font in the window.  For weeks, I just assumed it was the same place rebranded.   These were the weeks after I just didn’t notice that the signage had changed.   I couldn’t have been the only one.  Louro opened in December, and people, I want it to stick around.

Why?  Free snacks.  My two favorite words in the world together.  Free.  Snacks.

Their happy hour deal is 5:30 to 7:30 PM and then after 10 PM at their spacious, quiet-enough-to-have-a-conversation bar. (Am I showing my age??!)  All their cocktails are $8.  $6 house wine.  $1 oysters. The cocktails were tasty, and the oysters were fresh.

Our fancy, and expectation-exceeding snacks?  Some very tender calamari, freshly made seafood croquettes, and palate cleansing spicy broccoli. Lipsmacking stuff in the perfect little quantities.  When we ordered our second round of cocktails, the bartender offered us more snacks.  Generosity and snacks.

Go, people.  Go now.  Save Louro.

(Apologies for the super terrible photo, the iPhone is unwell.)

Wrap It Up. August 16 2013.

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It’s Friday afternoon and the weather has been seven shades of gorgeous for the past few days.  This weekend, I’m off to DC to visit some friends, go for a nice long hike, and hopefully eat and imbibe many delicious things.  What are YOU doing?

Some things:

Eid, the last day of Ramadan, was this week and our office celebrated with a Middle Eastern feast, complete with live musicians.  The flavors, the spicing, and the general luscious smell that hung in the air for most of the day made me just want more.  I ran into The Pomegranate Diaries, and feel the need to try everything especially the Adas Polow, the Persian version of lentils and rice.  You know I love lentils and rice.

I’ve had four burgers in the past two weeks.  They were delicious but I feel terrible about it.  Thisthisthis, and this.

“It’s possible to obey all laws & conventions & still be a jerk. Success lies in rebellious love, unconventional kindness & defiant decency.”  Love that Cory Booker.  (Did you catch The Atlantic article about him?  I super love the idea of having ideological capital.

The National.  Underrated.

Happy weekend!

Love,

Grace

Bloody & Burger at Prune

After work last night, I stopped by Prune with a friend to check out their newly revived Bloody & Burger deal.  For one crisp $20, on Sundays through Mondays between 5:30 and 7 PM, they hand over an expertly made Bloody Mary and one of their fantastically decadent burgers.

Bloody.

Bloody.  Check!

Burger.

Burger. Check!  (Yes, it looks to be on the smaller side, but is incredibly rich and flavor packed.  You will not go hungry.)

Marrow.

Roasted Marrow Bones.  (What?!?)  We couldn’t resist.  Marrow was being served all around us, and it was too intriguing.  If you haven’t had marrow before, I think it can be best described as meat butter.  Meat. Butter. Meatbutter.  At Prune, the meatbutter is served with toast, grey sea salt, and a much needed side of de-clogging parsley salad.  If you’re being a rational human being, a burger plus marrow equals waaaayyyyyy too much cow.  I could feel my arteries slowly solidifying, and cow-ness coming from my pores.

And then I washed my hands and went to a yoga studio.

The End.

Brunch for All!

stack of toast

I love, love, love having people over, whether it’s for some food, tea, board games, or tragic whiskey drinking. To me, it’s a landmark of finally living in my own place with only my own schedule to accommodate, wrapped in a little bit of smug satisfaction at having brought the party to my doorstep.

This past Sunday, I had some friends over for brunch, which was organized partially because I hadn’t thrown a holiday party, but mostly because I desperately wanted to make the cinnamon toast French toast recipe out of my newly acquired Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  Blogger power!

Entertaining, especially in the cramped quarters of New York City, can be daunting.  There are so many sane reasons not to have people over – the preparation, the inviting, the pestering for RSVPs, the menu, the shopping.  And once you get the group together, there’s the figuring out how to serve everyone, the squishing, making sure everyone has what they need, the music (!) and then, oh yea, being able to enjoy it without running around like a chicken without a head.

Or like Lola.

Remember Lola?  I’ve been feeling like her all week.

I digress.

THE SIMPLE BUT SAVORY MENU

the spread

Piles of soft scrambled eggs – easy to cook in bulk, and incredibly forgiving

Assorted sausages from Faicco’s – cut into bite sized pieces for easy self-service and eating

Oven baked smoked bacon – also from Faicco’s – good and cheap at $5.99/lb

Cinnamon toast French toast – we made our way through two pans of the stuff, with some happy guests carrying off the leftovers.

Cheese plate – the stoic but noble standby for those eating lulls, and post-event chats

Plenty of coffee

Mimosas cobbled together from guest offerings

A few things I’ve learned about entertaining in living quarters the size of a pea that are worth passing along?

#1 – Keep the atmosphere relaxed and casual. 

A multiple course sit-down dinner is probably not the way to go.  I’ve had people over game night, brunch, tea and snacks – scenarios that encourage comfortable interaction in close quarters, while also leaving guests feeling free to come and go during the course of the gathering.  Since there is comfortable seating for about 6 people in my living room (8 if you’re feeling cozy and optimistic) having guests rotate through over the course of a few hours allows for more people to attend.  More people, more fun.  Write that down.  There will be a test.

#2 – Keep last minute prep to a minimum.

In my small combined living room/kitchen, activity in the kitchen is activity everywhere.  If your place is anything like mine, pick recipes that allow for minimal last minute preparation to keep the frenzy to a minimum, but also to free yourself up for the fun part…hanging out with your guests.  Recipes get extra points if they are resilient enough to taste great when they’ve cooled down and/or have spent a few minutes neglected on the stove.  Any little item that can be prepped beforehand should be.

For this past Sunday’s brunch, I lightly poached the sausage to keep frying time to a minimum, prepped the crowd-friendly French toast recipe an hour before guests were due to arrive, and laid the bacon out on a baking sheet, ready to be slipped into the oven.

#3 – The guest list is all.

Let people know what to expect.  Cramped quarters?  Flights of stairs?  Animals?  Your carefully edited group of guests should include zero high-maintenance friends, and your list of yes-es will be a self-selected group of people ready to have a good time come hell or high water.

Any other ideas from you smarties out there?

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