Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Eating New York

I have been eating like crap lately.

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It's all good crap though. All this packing and planning and preparation for moving means I'm stressed, and if I'm stressed I'm more willing to eat than if I'm not stressed. Added to that stress is the stress of the fear that I won't be able to get a good deal of comfort food after next month. So I do a grand tour and make sure I'm getting the good stuff while the getting is good. Don't cry for me though. I'm sure I won't starve to death in the coming years.

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Fried chicken from Hill Country snuck in there. I didn't even know that I liked fried chicken until now. I had my brakes on at the mere suggestion of fried chicken, but lucky for everyone else I am easily coerced when pie was mentioned. It's tragic, really. People would always be taken aback by the fact that I don't like Radiohead and I don't care for fried chicken. I can say that at least I'm sticking to my musical taste (or lack thereof, apparently) but currently no chicken is safe in my presence.

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Their chicken is marvelous- tender and not dry at all, with a crispy addictive coating. I haven't eaten enough chicken to tell you more or compare it to anything but I'm pretty sure this is as fantastic as it gets.

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It's a good thing that I've been taking out the rest of my stress at the gym every day.

Monday, 26 March 2012

5th Ave at Night

...belongs to the tourist, office workers looking like they've seen better days, and the people who work all night to make the magic happen in the shops.

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A Sad Farewell to the Real Deal

One of my favorite bars closed over the weekend.

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A relic of prohibition- a real former speakeasy- the bar had a wonderful fun atmosphere. The walls were covered with vintage prints of long-forgotten boxers and racehorses, the drinks were made properly and stiff, and after 8pm there was a piano player who would bang out old showtunes that the crowd of mostly locals and regular customers would sing along to. In the midtown wasteland of Irish pubs and $15 cocktails, Bill's was a comfy place to call home for a few hours after work. It took up space in an 1850's brownstone in a neighborhood that is almost completely glass towers now.

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I will miss the place and all its elegant touches. I met a friend their not long ago- rumors of their closing had me concerned and any excuse for a visit was taken up. The place, as usual, was packed.

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I will not miss the fact that the ladies' room was on the 3rd floor up some rather narrow steep stairs. Oh, the near death experiences I've had!

Friday, 23 March 2012


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This was moments before they were mashed up in the blender with a sterilizing bath of vodka to be added to a batch of beer. Quite perplexedly, this is the moment the trusty blender decided to fail, sending a stream of chili-burning infused vodka streaming out all over the kitchen and beyond.

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Beautiful but quite deadly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Speakeasy Dollhouse

Hi! I am still here, just kind of busy and trying to get myself organized. I don't have a routine right now so I find myself not having a lot of time to be spent returning emails and tending to the blog. The etsy store is closed, so I'm quietly relieved of that duty. As much as I loved having one (and plan on opening one again one day) it's a lot of work and extra responsibility that I can't consistently attend to.

I have been doing lots though- in between packing up and paperwork, the great outdoors beckons as we've had a gloriously warm early spring that forces the need to get out. I've seen lots of interesting migratory birds just with casual observation- a pair of Northern Flicker woodpeckers have taken up residence nearby, and I'll have my camera and zoom lens ready next time I go out.

One thing we did do that was quite interesting was the Speakeasy Dollhouse. Check it out, as tickets are still available for April.

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It's an interactive murder mystery that takes place in a speakeasy bar. You get your cocktail in a teacup and follow the action from room to room based on what rumors you pick up on.

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It's all fun and games until the cops show up though. Thanks to my very multi-talented friend Silent James for spreading the word.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

FO: Petite Facile

I am having one of those days at work that the only thing I have to really happy about is that the girlscout cookies are here. Suddenly, life is good.

I recently made a sweater for a wee one, which never really inspires me. Forgive the boring pictures of a baby sweater without a cute baby bundled up in it. A boy-child yet to be born, but it got sent out with a flourish today as I won't care to figure out where it will be in the grand scheme of things when said baby makes an appearance. Better be safe and get it out early.

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I am none too precious with baby clothes. Hence, the worsted weight cotton that I bought at the sale that Suss had when she closed in New York. That was six years ago. I am loathe to make anything but baby clothes from the yarn; it makes my hands ache. It's machine washable and I'm assuming that the precious little bundle of joy will most likely throw up a few times before his first birthday. This uses up the last of my stash of it. Please hold your applause.

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I actually have no idea what size mini-person this might fit. Babies are either shockingly small or surprisingly huge to me. If I make something larger then I know it will fit eventually, unless they have a terrible genetic disorder and they end up being a regular guest on Maury Povich. Does he still have a show? Never mind. I don't want to know.

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The sweater pattern is called "Petite Facile" -the "Little Easy" and it's from Interweave Knits Winter 2011 issue. It's written as a solid-color, but, having limited yarn, I saw the opportunity for color blocks. I think it's cute, and it doesn't even look like I was afraid of running out of yarn. Or does it?

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It had a fun construction with short-rows for the sleeves and some easy finishing. I made the 3-6 month size, but because I didn't do a gauge swatch, I don't know how accurate this is. It will fit eventually.

Monday, 12 March 2012

FO: Cadence Pullover

Well that was fast.

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I decided rather cleverly that everyone who would normally get knitted gifts around the holidays from me would get them very unseasonably this year. The logistics of having to pack up a sweater, keep it around for months in a yet-to-be-determined location and then ship it from overseas seems a bit silly to me. And expensive. And dicey. As our pseudo-winter breaks into buds and crocuses and birdsongs, heavy woolens will be gifted.

This sweater is a Xmas present for someone a tad bit smaller than me. As in, someone I have several cup sizes over, several inches in height and about ah, I don't even want to discuss weight. Let's just say I got the curves in the family. I could bench press the giftee without it being a big deal. Despite the fact that I could squeeze into the sweater like Lana Turner, this was intended to have some ease and be less form-fitting. So use your imagination.

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It's the Cadance Pullover from Jordana Paige from the Fall 2010 issue of It's a simple, top down design with the only embellishment being a set of lace diamonds around the collar. This is the 35" size.
It's a simple pattern and the heavier gauge yarn meant it was done before I knew it. I usually labor away on sleeves for ages, but I had both of them done in 3 days.

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Once again, UPS Brown is my go-to yarn color. I used 1.5 skeins of Cascade Eco. I did a bit more waist shaping then called for, but otherwise, it's the same front and back. I would usually add some short-row shaping or darts to accommodate womanliness, but in this case I didn't have exact measurements so I let it be.

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I'm sending this out today, cheerily wrapped with ribbons and tinsel, wishing everyone a great holiday and Happy New Year 2013.

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Friday, 9 March 2012

Something that I know I will miss about New York: Quality Carbs Edition

Yeah, I know. Cry me a river. All my good New York carbs will be replaced with baguette and croissant soon.

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As much as I like a good bagel, I have found that bialys eclipse them based on their rarity. While bagels are oft imitated, you can only get a bialystoker kuchen in the city, and, well, maybe Poland. Unlike bagels, they aren't boiled and glossy and chewy, but they are thin and flat (and much more manageable to eat for breakfast). The dimple in the center is usually filled with sweet finely diced onions. Every time I visit family or friends anywhere, I pick up a dozen on my way to the airport.


I find that this is truly a New York delicacy as I have never seen them outside the city limits and no one has ever waxed poetic about them if they hadn't spent a good chunk of time here.

Of all the Bialys out there, most of them originate at Kossar's on the Lower East Side. I guess I'm going to have to learn how to make them myself now.

Which leads me to my next carb to cry over- Pizza. Good New York Pizza.

Once, while vacationing in Vieques, Puerto Rico (a tiny sparsely populated island off the east coast of the mainland) we were told about a native son of Brooklyn who ran a pizza joint there. It was probably the most far-flung slice of New York Pizza that still tasted like good pizza to us. Aside from that, it's been hopeless to find the perfect slice outside of New York. We've been busily eating it while we can.

Typically, I'm a purist, but Previti wonderful slices: artichoke and truffle creme being a favorite. The Salerno takes my heart though- caramelized onions, fatty strips of smoked pancetta, and mozzarella on a good base of tomato sauce.

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(yes, I will eat a slice with that much crap on it with a fork as to not wear it).

We've had a lot of good slices over the years. DiFara's takes the cake for it's pure inaccessibility (no phone, waiting for an hour just to order- you just stand at the counter 10 deep and beg) but they make a great pie, Grimaldis under the Brooklyn Bridge, Totontos in Coney Island.

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Yes, it's a personal preference as to what constitutes the perfect slice, and haters are always going to hate. No matter what time of night it is, you're always within a block of two of a place serving a classic slice. When you are a little drunk and you need something to fill the tank after a long night out- That is usually the best slice of your life.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

FO: Wee Shadow Tuque

...In which I turn my gauge mistake into baby garments, aka generous gifts for the baby rabies crowd.


It's the Shadow Tuque hat from Interweave Knits. I was going to make it as a gift for a friend who is also a big fan of UPS colors, but right away realized that she would have to go to Papua New Guinea for a bit in order to get her head to the point where she could squeeze into it comfortably. Instead of frogging the 20 minutes worth of work I had on it, I changed my game plan and decided that now a friend with a bun in the oven would like a UPS man for a child. And so it is written.


I made a pom-pom with the leftover yarn, which required an online tutorial. Hello Knitty had a great one- it's simple to do, but not having had to make a pom since I dressed as a mime for halo-ween in grade school meant I needed a refresher course. (About that mime costume...if clowns are scary to you, try being on the other side of the face paint. Terrifying.)

The yarn is a single skein of Rowan Drift, which is a loosely spun bulky merino single. At a looser gauge, I would have used up most of the ball, but on size 9 needles (and a miniature cranium) this wasn't a problem. Hence the pom to finish things off. The pattern is from Interweave Knits Fall 2001. It is a simple off-set cable that looks very much like the bark of a ceder tree, especially when knit in UPS brown.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Goods- on Sale

I have some pretty hard-core packing to do. I have been given a minuscule weight limit of goods to bring with me, and quite a generous amount of long-term storage. I try not to get attached or sentimental about objects and belongings, but I fail miserably. The thoughts of my couch, and my dining room table, and my pots and pans boxed up and unused and unloved in a warehouse in New Jersey makes me shutter.

Same with my crafty stuff. I can't take it all with me.

I'm clearing out my bins of stock that comprise my Etsy Store. For this week only, everything is 50% off. The sad fate of the storage locker should not befall these goods:

Superfine Merino blended with kid mohair.


Batts. I have a whole bin of batts left, all of them comprised of luxury fiber.

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And here's some really gorgeous sock yarn that I dyed up with natural dyes- Eucalyptus and onion skins.


I also have lots and lots of jewlery left. Get it while it lasts!

To get the 50% off, use the code "AUREVOIR" at checkout.

Monday, 5 March 2012


Another thing that I will miss badly about New York- the amazing variety and quality Asian food. Dim Sum palaces, super spicy Sechuan, Cantonese and Tibeten, Korean, Malaysian, Vietnamese,and Thai, not to mention fancy-pants trendy temples of Sushi. I love them all fairly equally, but if I can find really great Thai place, I'm content with all aspects of my life. At least for 20 minutes.

I've had Thai food in France and I've been sorely disappointed. I need a break from pastry and creamy butter sauces at some point, but the Thai there never hits the spot. It's too bland- even with much begging with the kitchen staff, I find that it never gives the big kick that I'm after. I know that I need to take advantage of a good curry and freebase it while I have access it.

An unassuming storefront in Elmhurst is serving up some of the most amazing Thai dishes I've ever tasted.

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Ayada Thai is worth the trip to far-away Queens (of course, you're lucky if you live nearby).

The windows declare it "the best" in multiple publications. As much as I hate speaking in superlatives, I don't think I would argue with their title.

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The menu is huge, so we stuck with some basics- a garlicky hot papaya salad, a fiery jungle curry, and a tangy tamarind sour curry.

The curries were amazing and hot- they didn't puss around with the "thai spicy" thing. It burned like crazypants, but beneath all that spice, it always had a nice nuanced balance between hot and sweet and sour.

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I almost never get desert, but I couldn't resist trying the pumpkin custard.

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It was creamy and just a little sweet and perfectly encapsulated into a wedge of pumpkin. It was a real nice finish after all those chilies.

While I'm more likely to agree to a trip to Thailand to get Thai food than a 30 minute drive to Queens, I would highly recommend this place to all the spice junkies out there.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

My Favorite Animal is Steak

My, how my vegetarianism has lapsed.

A few of my cohorts had yet to make the pilgrimage to what might be the best-known corner of Brooklyn: Peter Luger. I put it on my hit-list of farewell to-dos. It was decided that another day would not pass without a visit.

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Well, actually two weeks went until the idea was brought to fruition since reservations are hard to come by. Make them in advance.

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I prepared myself for days beforehand, subsisting on a diet of salad and yogurt and fruit to ready myself. I pushed my routine doctor's checkup back a couple weeks so she wouldn't be drawing a pure cholesterol substance from my veins.

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The place is as genuine and old-school as it gets. It's a bit Germanic in decor- it reminds me of a cozy Bavarian beer house. Before Williamsburg was filled with hipsters, Hasidim and Latinos, it was the first stop for German immigrants. Luger's only accepts cash or house credit, their waiters and bartenders are quicker with a quip than you will ever be, and if you are truly a regular you don't ask to see a menu.

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The menu is short and to the point. There is steak- mainly they do a good job of pushing their poterhouse. The only questions to be filled is how do you like it cooked and how big of a steak do you think you could eat. This isn't the place to go if you want to try new, inventive cuisine or sides of fancy mushrooms. You get fries or baked potato and creamed spinach. Maybe a Caesar salad if you feel especially virtuous. They stick to what they do, and they don't mess around.

Oh, and they are famous for their thick-cut bacon.

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You buy it per the slice, and it's hefty and salty and so fatty it dissolves in your mouth. I am loathe to associate sin with food, but really now. If I'm going to be bad, I'm going to be very, very bad.

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The steak arrives pre-sliced on a platter, which they place on the table with one side propped up on a saucer so the juices can be spooned off. Juices being primarily butter. The steaks have a good, thick crust of charred butter and seasoning, and they are meltingly tender. Ours was ordered rare, and it was still a little cold in the center. Although we were Four, we ordered the porterhouse for Three. It was more than enough. I couldn't just let the T-bones alone and ended up daintily nibbling on them for a half hour. Daintily, yes. How I got meat-grease in my hair was beyond me.

It was damn good steak. I've had more flavorful cuts, but they really have a reliable system of perfection. This almost reminded me of tuna sashimi in texture.

They have an extensive desert menu, but I just beseeched for berries and I got them, along with a bowl of their house-whipped cream.

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You even get a little gold metal at the end. Hooray for you!

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Afterward, I insisted a walk across the Williamsburg Bridge and back into Manhattan. I was pretty sure I'd never be able to walk again, but I surprised myself. Willpower is an amazing thing.

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The way NYC mass transit is set up, we would have a hard time getting from Williamsburg to where we live in the south of Brooklyn. You have to go back through Manhattan regardless. It's normally a huge pain in the ass, but after an intense bout of eating, it was a brilliant walk over the bridge and across the Lower East Side. I think I lied a bit when I told everyone, "it's just a mile or so", but it's more like two and a half miles. I relished every second of it. Mmmmmm relish...

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