Archive for the ‘restaurant’ Category

So I called out sick from work on Friday. Yeah. It was lovely.

Basically, I had a food blogger potluck, no food, and performance anxiety. And a plethora of sick days available.

Plan A for food: Pita chips and tzatziki.
I’ve started taking that to almost every pot luck type thing, and I wasn’t feeling it this time. I drained the yogurt, but I didn’t even work up to buying the pita.

Plan B for food: Salsa
I’ve got a butt load of tomatoes from my garden, but, again, I didn’t work up enthusiasm. (It’s okay – I think I’ll work up to it next week or so and then can/jar some)

Plan E for food: So I had a two-week old plan to use up eggplants in my fridge in imam bayildi… and two week old eggplants, which ended up in the compost because they were a little fuzzy. But it was a good plan – and one that would help me with my tomato backlog. So I drove off to one of the big Asian supermarkets in south philly to acquire eggplants (of the variety often found near me, but not when I’m looking for them).

food bloggers potluck
Okay, so let me tell you the genius of using Asian (long, skinny) eggplants for this Mediterranean dish: bite-sized imam bayildi!

Not a big pile of mush! No, these were 4-5cm long segments, each one with it’s own little pocket-forming slit and awesome deliciousness. It turned out just as well as I had planned (and better than I’d feared, the big pile of resulting mush would still have been delicious, though, so no worries). And I got the portion right (about 30 pieces) for the gathering, so there was just enough let over at the end of the evening for a lunch-sized portion for me.

And what do you know – someone else had brought chips and homemade salsas and another person has pitas and dip. No one else had mysteriously delicious eggplant with tomatoes and onions and parsley.

Oh, and I also took a fruit salad which I loved

Fruit Salad

watermelon, hand-picked blackberries, and banana slices that had been dosed in lime juice and ginger juice.

I loved it and thought it needed more of the sauce throughout! Those bananas were yummy.

What else was there?

Teagan brought a pasta salad with mint pesto and an indian string bean and carrot dish with mustard seeds. Oh, and she also had a pumpkin and coconut pudding.

Marisa brought a big jar of pickles with delicious onions.

Someone had a plate of traditional pimento cheese sandwiches. Up here, that is an exotic gourmet treat. Yum!

Messy & Picky brought a tasty and simple corn salad.

North Port Fishington Vegan Cookie Factory brought donuts

Someone made little caprese salads on a stick with grape tomato halves framing little mozzarella lumps and basil

someone brought carnitas

There was a fruit tart.

And the host made tasty peanut butter cookies.

There was socializing.

And then I left.

farmers market! – where I achieved my primary goal of acquiring a lot of dubious peaches.
looking at potential houses…

Meeting up with friends for a game night
I took some more of the same fruit salad (but with a slightly higher ratio of lime/ginger to fruit that for the potluck), but the people trying it this time thought it tasted a bit wonky.

then dinner
a failed quest for ice cream
and home

first there was kick ass yoga.
then I went on an emergency quest for pectin (only to be found in solid form at the whole foods)
and did laundry

and then I made jam
and then I made a tonne of peach jam.

I started cutting up and sugaring peaches while I boiled the jars.

first project was re-cooking the white peach with lime and ginger from last time that did not set up properly. I just cooked it down more and added some more pectin from the last packet of liquid pectin. I think it turned out better, but I haven’t tried. it. (yield: 4 – 4oz jars)

second project – was making a non-spicy jam for geeksdoitbetter, but I think the 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar recipe is a bit too sweet for me, and I like spicy to balance that. Also, I’m actually not a bit jelly person, and I quite like jam from the supermarket. I’m not trying to make something I will enjoy from any ole source, so I might as well get wacky. So a simpler recipe was hard. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of the cherries we’d picked together and that she’d dried with quite a lot of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and possible allspice. When those cherries were finished, she was quite sure they were way too heavily seasoned, so I only used that many for about 6 cups of fruit and 3 cups of sugar – and then I added cranberries when I decided it was a little too sparsely populated with fruit (if you are going to have random dried fruit chewy bits, then there should be enough to pop up reliably, instead of as surprise chewy). No other seasoning. For this one, I added 3 teaspoons of dried pectin, and it seemed like it was going to set up rather solidly. (yield: 3 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

third project – so then I went looking for savourier options, and started with 5 Spice Powder. A lot of 5 spice powder. And then some ginger juice. And a wee little bit of black pepper sauce. Stir cook stir. And then it didn’t seem to have a distinctive enough flavor, so things went a bit wacky. I added a little rice vinegar and some soy sauce, and then I added some sambal oelek for kick, and the hot version finally tasted right. (yield: 5 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

Fourth project – So I have a coconut, and I was thinking of adding shredded unsweetened coconut meat to one, but at 10pm it was a little much work to start on. So I went for a peach masala theory. I added a lot of Penzey’s garam masala. And I wanted a few more savory notes, so I added a shake or two of Penzey’s Rogan Josh. Oh, and this one got just 1 teaspoon of solid pectin for about 6 cups (maybe more) of peaches. Cook cook stir cook. And then when it was near thick enough, I melted some coconut fat in another pan and fried up a generous quantity of mustard seeds and nigella seeds (and added three drops of mustard oil when the coconut fat seemed to be toasting more quickly than the seeds). Add to jam. This one tasted awesome hot, and I have high hopes for it being my favorite. yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 2 – 8oz jars; and 2 wee tiny jelly jars because I couldn’t bear to leave the little scrapings in the pot to be washed down the drain)

Fifth project – And I liked the peach chipotle jam I made in the first experiment so much, that I tried to replicate that batch. By this point my tastebuds were so blown with sticky peach that I suspect I made it spicier, but hey. Same ingredients at least. (yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 1 – 16oz jar)

project 4.5 and while I had just started cooking down the peaches for batch 5, I threw my Green Tomato Salsa in a pint jar and boiled it for the entire length of the cooking process and all because I couldn’t bear a 6th round of heating stuff before canning it. I’m storing it in the fridge in case that wouldn’t be sufficient to make it shelf stable, but it should at least slow down the aging process. (yes, there’s lots of vinegar in the salsa)

Oh, and I went out to dinner
Oh, and I went out to dinner. With a boy. Yeah, it’s my co-worker on whom I have a vague crush, but I’m pretty sure it’s doomed.

So we tried out the new Tampopo near me. The dumplings were exceptional – with a light skin and filling with flavor. Pan fried to deliciousness. He ordered the hot, spicy tofu – which was tasty. The tofu had nice crispy edges. I ordered hot, spicy squid, and my tentacles were not too chewy. Same sauce really was used for both. And the portions were small, but it was a full meal’s worth and sized right for the price. No service and free water.

And the place was chock full of the most stereotypical west philly people, and I kept getting distracted from my barely coworker level of intimacy conversation by the wacky west philly people discussing their accupuncture and tattoos.

a little more house shopping before work…



   Posted by: Livia

A friend of mine was in town this weekend, so we walked over to 40th & Chestnut for my favorite local Thai place, only it was closed. Luckily, there’s another Thai place less than a block away… also closed. Indian was out; we weren’t sure about Korean; and I didn’t do a good job selling the Mexican tapas place. So we kept walking on Chestnut until we hit 23rd, and then cut south for Erawan Thai.

Appetizer Sampler: fried pork dumplings were awesome; shrimp wrapped in spring roll wrapper & fried was tasty, but keep a hold of the tail; spring rolls were good; the fish cakes, however, tasted only vaguely fishy and mostly of lemon grass, all kind of spongy-textured and held together in a membrane.

Golden Eggplant (my dish): Excellent! Tofu and Eggplant in a mildly spicy sauce. The eggplant melted in your mouth and the whole dish was very satisfying and comforting.

Ultimate Pad Thai (friend’s dish): Chosen because it had clearly been a re-boot of the Pad Thai series, I got the impression that this dish did not disappoint.

The service was excellent, and there was abundant water and only a little mocking of how much I drank.


Dining Out for Life

   Posted by: Livia

I try to participate in Dining Out for Life every year, but I often end up too busy or distracted.

Well, this year I managed to go out for both lunch and dinner!

Oddly, however, there must have been a shortage of volunteers this year as neither venue had someone stopping by the tables to talk about the event, nor were there envelopes with the check to encourage you to donate even more to HIV research.

Lunch – Pod
I had been there once before for dinner for a Dining Out for Life and had ended up with mediocre sushi off of their conveyor belt. But I tried it again because it really is quite convenient to where I work. (I have been told since that other people manage to really enjoy their sushi and that my experience was unusual.) This time, I ordered from the menu.

Despite being told that the mushroom fried rice was exceptional, I was distracted by the Thai Chicken Salad (Thai chili dressing, avocados, peanuts, oven-dried tomatoes and egg with shredded lettuce and napa cabbage). I ordered it with the dressing on the side, and it ended up delivered dressed – but the dressing was well balanced and the salad didn’t feel wet at all.

Oh, and I also could not resist the chicken potstickers. The dough tasted oddly like a perogie (perhaps it had been cooked down with onions?), but had a nice amount of browning and it was a delicious (though I’m not sure intentional) fusion. There wasn’t regular dipping sauce, only mustard aoli. I was surprised that I did not mind the substitution at all. Yum! If I hadn’t gone with a friend, I would have been tempted to order a second round of the dumplings they were so good.

Dinner – Lemongrass Thai
This was my first time going, and I went with two friends.

We ordered thai iced teas, and this might be the sweetest one I’ve ever had. I’m not saying it was bad, but I did ponder asking for a little more tea to even it out (did not ask, though).

The menu is laid out weirdly: first regional specialties, then chef specials, other entrees, vegetarian options, and then more specials hidden away at the back.

I ordered the Eggplant Stinger (marked with three chili peppers for spiciness – Steamed Thai eggplants lightly sautéed until golden brown, then braised with chicken, garlic, hot chili peppers and fresh basil). It wasn’t spicy at all, but the eggplant melted in my mouth and the overall dish was quite good. The flavors were a bit more muddled than the best Thai places I have been to, but it was very tasty.

One of my friends ordered the Salmon Supreme (fillet of salmon wrapped in grape leaves and grilled to perfection, served with mild Tamarind fruit sauce). The chicken was cooked quite thoroughly, which we both liked and it didn’t have a texture of being overcooked at all. The grape leaves were theoretically edible, but I picked them off of my bite, as they were rather thickly wrapped. It felt as though they should have been using tobacco leaves or something sturdier and smokier. And then the tamarind sauce was lovely – I am taking quite a shine to light/sweet-ish tamarind sauces these days.

And my other friend ordered the Masaman curry* with chicken (rich red curry peanut sauce with coconut milk, onions and potatoes – and three strips of red bell pepper). I think this was probably the best dish of the meal. The cocnut really sang, and it was worth eating until we were overfull.

After the fact, I went and read some other reviews online, and several of them complained about the service. I don’t know what to say about that… our servers were reasonably attentive and my water was refilled frequently, but it was oddly not quite friendly. And they ended up asking my party to leave so that they could seat another party even though we were looking out at a mostly empty room (not the only dining room) and we had only been there an hour and a half (i.e. we were leisurely, but not obscenely so). So I’m not sure on that point.

*note: for more reviews of Masaman curry in the Philadelphia area, it’s a dish that Mac & Cheese talks about.



   Posted by: Livia

I just got back from a Women in Media conference in Boston. And I ate delicious food there.

We changed venues to the Radisson Hotel in the theater district. And – wow! – what a hotel. Aside from one concierge who sent me off a mile and a half looking for a PNC bank ATM, only to find that it was a CitiBank building (Fail!), all of the staff was generous and helpful. They had sleep number beds, which while I can sleep on anything so I don’t know about quality they sure were hilarious. They had showers I could marry: the bathtub was wide and deep enough to fully relax and submerge and supported your head comfortably while lounging and I am not a small person, but this was the best tub ever. And the shower head also provided just the right spray, and the water was hot forever. I would move in to this hotel.

Oh, and the hotel restaurant, the Theatre Cafe, had good food, too. I only ate Sunday breakfast there, but I heard several people at the conference exclaiming over the delicious soups available. So for breakfast I had the buffet, and for $16 it really should have had eggs to order. So overpriced, yes. The scrambled eggs, however, were surprisingly tasty steam table eggs – they were juicy without being wet. And they had the best breakfast potatoes ever (not hyperbole) – small wedges with the skin still on, onions, peppers, and the best combination of texture and flavor (soft, melting in the mouth, with still some texture and a hint of crispiness – I know that sounds undistinguished, but it was surprisingly addictive). Plump sausages and crispy bacon. I skipped the pancake and waffle option. But I did get a biscuit when they put out fresh after we were already full to bursting – and I ate it all because it was buttery and crumbly and had a simple sausage gravy that was equal to the best I’ve had. The fresh fruit (standard cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and watermelon) was tucked away in a corner, but was surprisingly flavorful for early spring. The pastries were the only disappointment – they were a bit stale tasting and not even slightly flakey. Note that I used the word surprising frequently – the buffet did not look promising at all through the window, and I had originally planned to try somewhere else, but the rest of my group was eating there, and I easily succumb to peer pressure.

Also, the hotel was directly opposite a Legal’s Seafood, a food court, and a whole bunch of other tasty restaurants. My group had packed a lot of food because the previous venue had very few eating options, but I ended up abandoning the cheap route in favor of trying new places.

Friday night, however, I took the T to Porter Square to meet my sister and brother-in-law at an old favorite, Elephant Walk (who seems to have uglified their webpage, but trust me that this is an elegant place). I had a special of duck and eggplant over napa cabbage in a light green curry and coconut sauce. The flavors were light and sparkling. I have yet to have anything bad from their menu.

Saturday lunch – P.F. Chang’s Despite being a chain, seemed like the perfect destination for a bunch of women who had only just met. The lunch bowls were tasty, but unexceptional. The sides, however, were amazing. I ordered the spinach stir-fried with garlic, and was glad to eat all that was left after it was passed around the group. Someone else ordered the spicy green beans, and I had to fight hard not to take all of hers, too. Next time, just sides! We were delighted by the $2 dessert shooters, but I sent back my great wall of chocolate when I found that it was contaminated with raspberry coulis – seriously, people, the 90s are over and we don’t need raspberries in everything chocolate.

Saturday dinner – Tantric. So when I was heading back from Friday’s dinner, I noticed this restaurant, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was a swanky nightclub or a bar for trendy trendsters, but there didn’t look like there was anyone in there eating or being unattractive, so I wrote it off. Luckily, my friends did not make this first impression and I am easily swayed. We were close to 5pm going to dinner, and there weren’t many people in the restaurant at that hour, which was wonderful. We had very generous service – not only did I easily persuade someone to leave us a pitcher of water, but also they kept coming by trying to refill our glasses. And people stopped by three or four times to make sure we were enjoying our food. And, boy, were we ever! Since I hadn’t budgeted on going out to eat this much on this trip, I ordered the soup of the day: tomato coconut. This was a lucky thing, too, because it was delightful. I have no idea how to make this soup, but it was a bit like a really comforting cream of tomato but with coconut and lemongrass flavors perking it up and making it almost delicate. Genius! My compatriots ordered Muttar Paneer (Mmmm! buttery), Chicken Vindaloo (delightfully spicier than most American restaurants), Uttapam (ordered by a woman who remembered it fondly from her year in (I think it was) Malasia and she was not disappointed), and a dosa (masala dosa, perhaps) (it was huge, as always, and served rolled in a cigar-shape instead of a cone. The slice I had was delicious and filling). I recommend this restaurant, and I plan to try their lunch buffet in two years when the conference returns… hmmm… though another shot at their soup would be good, too.

Sunday lunch – Maggiano’s. Another chain. Actually, I was wandering around Boston looking for an ATM for most of the lunch break, but I ended up* meeting people just as their food came. One of my friends was kind enough to split her huge eggplant parmesan with me. It was food and the company was lovely, but it was mushy and not exceptionally tasty.

*So after taking the T back, I decided to save time meeting up with people by hailing a cab. Only I didn’t have any cash because the ATM mission was a failure. Did you know that most cabs in Boston are not capable of taking credit cards? How are they more behind Philly? My city rocks. Anyway, the second cab I hailed ended up offering to drive me for free! Yay Boston! He was a sweetie.

Sunday dinner – Montien – a thai restaurant near the hotel. I ordered crispy Pad Thai because I had never had it before. Again, I was late to pop in, so I did not read the menu carefully when ordering. Sadly, crispy pad thai does not mean that they take the finished dish and fry it a bit in a hot skillet – no, it means they substitute delicious noodles for little crispy ones like you use to top salads. :( And without a mess of hot noodles, the bean sprouts stayed quite crispy and didn’t meld into the dish at all. On the other hand, the other three dishes I tasted from the table were all excellent: Pineapple fried rice (not much pineapple, but the dark raisins in the rice surprised everyone by being just a mellow dark flavor of awesome without being obtrusive), tamarind duck (so I love duck, and I totalyl should have ordered this dish! – lots of slices of duck with very little sauce), Salmon Choo Chee? (I think this was the salmon dish. delicious!). The thai iced teas were only average. And I missed the appetizer course

Sunday dessert – Finale – Instead of staying at the thai restaurant for dessert, we went on a quest for a sexy dessert place one of my friends had passed earlier in the day. Instead of sitting down, we decided to go over the bakery side and get small things we could take back to the hotel. It seemed like all of their chocolate items had coffee incorporated in some form, so I just went for a hot chocolate – especially after I saw that their traditional bittersweet hot chocolate was made with Valrhona Equatoriale. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. Sinful and subtle and just the right balance of bitter and sweet. Other people had the lemon tart (butter to which lemon happened – pure hedonism made for tea), and a crème brûlée that’s the best one I’ve had on this coast. Seriously, Washing state has spoiled me for crème brûlée anywhere else – no matter what restaurant we went to there, always amazing crème brûlée. Finale was not quite as good, but it had the excellent quality cream and it had the temperature almost perfect (i.e. not cold, people!). It was delicious even if it was in a cheap aluminum tin. Ignore the packaging and indulge!


Dining in luxury in Center City

   Posted by: Livia

So I was talking at work, and there are 3 restaurants I recommend in Center City without hesitation (really, I have only ever planned ahead to get reservations at any of these places once, and that was for restaurant week):

Alma de Cuba – I’ve been there three or four times, and I’ve always had both amazing food and elegant service. And they have *fried* avocados. My father couldn’t find anything to eat there, but I have no idea why – he’s very picky and staid. I, however, would love to go back.

Amada – I love that I can go there at obscure hours, even at the very last seating of the night on restaurant week, and still get wonderful service. The food is delightful. And this one time I ended up seated at the bar, and the bar tender recommended this amazing drink she had made up to go with the food, and it was brilliant.

Kanella – Well conceived menu of Cypriot dishes. Every time I go, I keep trying to order everything on the menu. And, according to the waiter, they only discontinued brunch for winter, and it should be starting up again next weekend. Oh, yeah, I went last night.

In the spirit of trying to eat as many things on the menu as possible, I ordered three appetizers instead of a main.

  • Warm Middle Eastern Lamb Salad – Mmmm! The lamb was tender, and the eggplant was delicious. Oh, come on, even the random braised onions, which were just part of the base of it all, were delightful. I soaked up the juices with the toasted multi-grain bread that came with – and then I also used the cumin bread that had been brought to the table with tahini. This would have made a delightful entree.
  • Bureki – Phyllo pastry triangle filled with feta and thyme, drizzled with thyme honey, served with roasted beets. Yeah, I think the only thing that wasn’t amazing would have been the roasted beets. They were cold and mild-flavored. Even just being warmer would have made them more exciting. But the pastry itself was everything you want a flaky savory/sweet pastry to be. Not heavy. And then I ended up scraping every last trace of honey off the plate with more of the cumin bread, and that was also amazing. The honey is so thin and light that it’s hard to believe how tasty it is.
  • Garides Saganaki – roast shrimp served with couscous. The shrimp were peeled except for the heads and tails. I pulled the tails off any munched on the tasty (female) heads. Very delicious and well prepared. And the couscous was cooked with butter and olives and was some of the first couscous I have enjoyed.
  • For dessert, I had the Lemon and Yogurt Mousse with thyme syrup. Mmmm! Just the right mix of sour and sweet and amazingly rich.

Limoncello (restaurant review)

   Posted by: Livia

For my birthday, my mother and I went out to lunch as a relaxing Italian restaurant in town. They had a buffet with 8 or so different vegetable dishes. The mushroom were especially tasty. As were the potatoes with onions, peppers, and bacon.



   Posted by: Livia

I was going to talk about butter (and radishes, but mostly butter), but I’m holding on to that post for a bit out of respect for Cee‘s gall bladder.

But last night my belly dancing teacher asked me about a local restaurant, and I don’t believe I have talked about it here yet… so let me pull up details from the dregs of my deeply fallible memory.


I think I’ve eaten there twice. Possibly, though, there was a third time.

One of the times was for University City Dining Days (maybe 2005-ish?). I had an absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful dish with a mound of fragrant white rice, some baby green beans/peas of some variety… and something else. Heartbreaking because I remember biting into the rice and having it almost… but not quite… cooked enough. But it was so flavorful, I ate almost all of it, anyway. And I remember the beans (maybe they were snow peas?) not having had the strings pulled… possibly because the fresh sexy presentation had left them with their tops and tails. But they were also crisp and flawless and would have been amazing otherwise.

And the other time was just this past summer for brunch. And their brunches are rather legendary – with the restaurant always spilling over with happy people. There was a pitcher of orange juice for the table, and it was delicious freshly squeezed orange juice (but pricy). I ordered the french toast – it had a nice crunch as you sunk your fork into it (battered before frying, maybe – I don’t remember). It was generously dusted with powdered sugar and had a fruit compote that was very sweet, indeed. I ended up trading it, though, with a friend who had ordered the frittata with andouille topped with hollondaise sauce – it was too spicy for her. It wasn’t too spicy for me, and I quite liked it. The hollandaise was slightly off putting, but I think that might be my lack of sophistication showing – but it was almost like pure coddled egg yolks with hardly any other flavor… but I don’t usually have dishes with hollandaise because I find it too flavorful when made other places. And I do like egg yolks, so I’m not saying it was bad. Honestly, I think the best meal was had by my friends who just ordered eggs, toast, and bacon.

So this sounds like a bad review… and it kind of is. BUT – both times, even though they were both fairly busy, I had wonderful service. And the space itself it wonderfully West Philly. It’s entirely possible that the next time I do, it will be the most amazing time ever.


Quick overview of the weekend

   Posted by: Livia

Went to New York.

On the way up, was overcome with guilt and called my grandmother to tell her I’d be in the city. Ended up agreeing to spend the night with her instead of the Chelsea hostel. Called up and canceled my reservations.

Caught a train up town. Got off and walked a bit to get to pier. Went to a Chocolate Show. OMG – will write up in detail today. Really tested the limits of my abilities to eat free chocolate. I will attempt to write up up in detail. There will be a lot of interminable detail wherein I say, “And this one – it, too, tasted like chocolate.”

Took cab to grandmother’s. Socialized. She was happy. Ate dinner.

Went uptown again. Saw a Chekhov Play about emo unrequited love and emo bad actors and emo bad writers. It was kind of awesome, and also kind of overdone.

And even though I promised I’d go home by cab, I took the subway back to grandmother’s.

Had been planning to meet up with ex from college. Lost her number when I lost my phone. Had sent her emails with my temporary number but hadn’t heard back from her, so I had breakfast with grandmother. (Got an email this morning letting me know she was in Atlanta this weekend)

Then hopped a train to the Upper East Side to visit my aunt and see the Met. Called her up to find out her schedule and ended up going with her to a preview at Sotheby’s for their upcoming Contemporary Art exhibition. People! My name. Was On a List.

It was kind of cool already. And then the stuff – it was almost as complete a look at modern art as going to MoMA. (Oddly/luckily, Modern Art is one of the few areas of art where I am vaguely passingly conversant because after I flunked out of my freshman year at college, I spent three weeks with my aunt in New York wandering museums – and it just so happened at the time that not only did I spend a lot of time at MoMA, but also the Met had an exhibition featuring Modern Art and the Guggenheim had a chronological thing on Modern Art and the Whitney had an interesting exhibition – and so I ended up being able to see the shape of it a bit. But that isn’t the fun part of this story – let me just tell you that there was a representative sample of mediocre and decent works by *everybody*)

And, yet, because it was modern art – and up for sale, instead of at a museum, you had people wandering around saying what they really thought about it. “Oh, look, you could have a wall of camouflage instead of having to bother wallpapering.” And while no one seemed to be willing to admit to being old enough to have Andy Warhol stories anymore, everyone (okay, just several people) was talking about how while there particular samples were crap, let them tell you about how they had known Basquiat and bought his stuff for a song. “Why I used to own this piece. I bought it for $4000, and then sold it for only $5000 and then, and then….”

And have a look at the website – it was crazy. Right now, I am only seeing the link for the evening sale (that was on the 10th floor), but there was a morning set on the fifth floor and an afternoon sale on the second and third floors. Ah, here they are: day (must include both morning and afternoon)

Oh, and there was a section with the diamonds collection. That part didn’t even have estimated prices listed. And people! There was a woman who called someone over and had them open the case so she could try on a ring.

Also, it was the kind of thing where there was a woman going around with a camera, but only taking pictures of the people. My aunt said that she had no idea who most of the people were, but hey. Oh, and someone took my picture in a group, too, but I’m guessing that isn’t actually going to make it as far as publication anywhere.

I did find a few things I would pay a couple hundred dollars to own… but that didn’t really look like an option. Craziness!

Got back to my aunt’s. Went to the Vosges’ store. Within the last year, they have opened a branch 2 blocks from her door, so that was convenient.

Then I rested my feet a bit before heading over to the Met for a quick breeze through the New Greek and Roman galleries (saw a vase with what looked like a man soliciting a boy for sex 52.11.4; Saw a stele commemorating a Bacchic rite with a list of participants and the offices they held, roughly a third were names of women and the ethnicities were mixed; looked at the white-ground lekythoi for pictures of pomegranates and didn’t find any)

Went through Africa and Oceania (no, really, when did that become a real place?) and saw some gorgeous textiles (and one fascinating art one made of found bits of scrap metal)

Popped briefly in Modern Art because there was a brilliant Picaso-esque (Umm… Cubist) painting of the Graces that was stunningly well done – it looked realistic from some angles and the colors were warm and delightful and I don’t remember the painter’s name at all

Said hello to some of the Rodin sculpture and Sargent’s Madame X. Saw a painting that reminded me of Augusta Longbottom’s hat and a luminously spooky dead christ – I think I like Manet a lot more in surprise small doses instead of in a large exhibition of just just his work.

Oh, and I happened into a retrospective of the last three decades of acquisitions to honor the retirement of Philippe de Montebello, director. I love having places and eras all mashed together – and apparently this guy had a thing for musical instruments because those were some of the more unexpected impressive items. But also, such a wide range of selections. I was glad to have caught this exhibition.

And then with a brief swing through Cypriot Art, I hobbled on home – too much walking around while I’m still just getting back to closed toed shoes.

Had a nap. Read a cookbook.

And then I headed out to the 92nd Street Y for Neil Gaiman. Sadly, there were assigned seats, so there wasn’t much joy in waiting in line. But I got there an hour and a half early to give it a shot anyway. Delightfully, about half an hour later there were a couple people from Brooklyn who had the same feelings on the matter, so we had a grand time making fun of ourselves. Also, there were people who could point me to a snazzy cupcake shop a block away where I could get a cup of hot chocolate.

Neil Gaiman was adorable as always. Decided not to buy a book and get an autograph no matter how fun the line looked because the only book I really wanted to buy was over $100, and… well… not right now. Nor any time particularly soon. The last questions led him to discussing what I’d always wanted to, you know, have a leisurely chat about – mainly how he came to mythologies and what he treasured about them. And he was even more delightfully wicked in his approach than I’d hoped. Also, he cut the image of a highly literate seven year old, but then maybe I don’t have a clear image of what children do when. I certainly don’t remember my own experience, that’s for sure.

Walked back. Slept.

Monday Got up at a decent hour. Took the bus downtown instead of the train so I could see a part of the city I haven’t seen yet (2nd Ave) – nifty new construction, some cute stores and intriguing restaurants, and a significant chunk of time later – got on the bus in Chinatown. For the first time on the Chinatown bus I ended up next to someone who wanted to talk to me. Ended up getting to sleep anyway. :)

Had breakfast at Maoz – first time I’ve eaten there. Good deal, tasty cauliflower, decent falafel, but not the best ever. Some time I need to go back to my college cafeteria to see if it’s still as good as I remember it being.


Bread and Chocolate

   Posted by: Livia Tags: ,

For breakfast this morning, I had spelt bread from Metropolitan Bakery. I had expected it to suck, but it didn’t.

Question A: If you thought it would suck, why did you buy it?
Answer Q: Because they were sold out of the one bread I know I like – pumpernickel – and that one was oddly tempting. It’s a grain Romans might have used, you see, so it’s like academic curiosity. Plus there was a cute guy behind the counter who was lobbying for me to try that one (after I flat out turned down the raisin walnut bread). And it was the only one that came nested in a cute wooden cradle probably made the the same people as my friend bought for the favors at her wedding. So irresistible, really.

Question 2: Why did you think it would suck?
Answer: Well, it just sounded a bit like lead. And possibly dry. And unbearably healthy. The kind of thing that would leave my colon scoured clean – and knowing it. And so Metropolitan Bakery isn’t reliable about providing satisfying bread. Their semolina bread (one of my favorite breads elsewhere) is a bit dense and dry and healthy tasting, and does not have the special semolina flavor that, say, Di Bruno Brothers’ does.

I should not have doubted. Because, apparently, the one thing Metropolitan Bakery does really well with their bread is make dense, healthy breads. But it was also a soft, squishy, and rich bread. It was nutty and delicious on its own, but it was even better topped with honey butter (softened butter that I thoroughly mixed with Buckwheat honey [scroll down on that page to get to the entry on Stagecoach Apiary]).


After I finished that tasty breakfast, I did laundry – and figured that since it had all fit in one load, instead of two, I’d pop over to the new coffee shop next door and check it out.

Hot Chocolate: Ghirardelli intense dark chocolate syrup, steamed milk, topped with whipped cream, and swirled with more syrup.

This guy understands fancipants hot chocolate.

And he was all sweet about me only having $2.50 instead of the $2.75 for the small (since I just had what I didn’t need to convert to quarters for laundry – I’d just been planning on looking).

Aside from several exciting coffees, they also have Cuban Tapas – which means they’ll heat you up an empanada, but they looked like very good empanadas.

And then as I was leaving, the name of the coffee shop registered – Cafe Clavé.

Hey, wait a minute, back when I first moved into my apartment, this location was called Cafe Clavé. It was run by the son (Gooch) of the owner of the building. So I went back and asked if it really were the same place and if he were the same guy – and it is! and he is! This’ll be awesome!

It will be especially awesome since I have missed the occasional drum circle they’d have outside the coffee house that I’d be able to hear from my apartment (Not everyone likes that kind of thing, but I thought it was wonderful and kept hoping the Green Line would attract some of the same drummers).


Mmmmm full tummy – Ajia

   Posted by: Livia

Suddenly realizing that it was 4:30pm and all I’d eaten so far was a cup of hot chocolate… I figured my little frozen lunch really wasn’t going to cut it. This called for All U Can Eat Sushi!

But, people, especially philly people, let me tell you an amazing thing: I had good service at Ajia!

At this place, you expect long waits, desultory service, and only sort of getting your full order. But this time? Not only did the waitress take my sheet quickly and the sushi chef made my sushi while checking my order regularly, but the service was so good that I had my water refilled frequently. I wanted for nothing. I got back to work before my student worker’s shift was over – even within the scheduled hour for lunch.

“Yes, but how was the food,” you ask. Well, it was pretty standard. Their sushi isn’t the spiffiest around, but it’s $22 for all you can eat. And aside from one dubious bite of squid, it was decent and tasty. And thanks to [redacted]’s suggestion, I had the tasty tempura sweet potato roll.

But I had service which momentously did not suck.