Monday, February 28, 2011

C-CAP Volunteering

I had quite the eventful Wednesday last week. Just when I came down off my ICA high, I went directly back up when I arrived to volunteer at the C-CAP event down at Chelsea Piers that evening. C-CAP, or Careers through Culinary Arts Program, is a fantastic organization that takes underprivileged youth and trains them in the culinary world in hopes to help change their lives and give them a focus, direction, and future. Clearly, I don't need to explain what a connection I feel to a charity like this. When my friend told me about C-CAP back in December, she'd also told me that they do an annual benefit each year in February and that she'd keep me on the radar to volunteer. You can imagine how pumped up I was when I got the email confirming my spot as 'goodie bag distributor'. I'd also given the organizer Allison's information in case they had an extra spot and she totally got confirmed, too. So fun!

This year, the benefit was honoring the wonderful Michael Lomonaco which is a treat, in itself:
When we got down to Chelsea Piers, everything was just beautiful. They had a red carpet and all that fun stuff. We met up with the guy heading up the goodie bag stuff and he literally was like you girls go tour the room and get food! Um, we didn't argue. Some of the participating chefs are the best in Manhattan and it was absolutely awesome seeing such gorgeous presentations and such unique items. We couldn't possibly try everything (well, we could have but...) so below is what we did enjoy and where from:

Osteria Morini - Chef Michael White
Parmigiano sformato with porcini ragu

Buddakan - Chefs Yang Huang and Brian Ray
Tuna tartare spring rolls

Southgate - Chef Kerry Heffernan (the nicest man in history)
Flan of buttercup squash, roast brussels sprout and prosciutto

Blue Hill - Chef Dan Barber
Forono beets with buttermilk and horseradish yogurt

Primehouse NY - Chef Brian O'Donohue
Butternut squash bisque with porcini mushroom and duck prosciutto

Felidia - Chef Fortunato Nicotra
Baby beets with pickled cranberries, mustard seeds and local camembert

Daniel - Chefs Daniel Boulud and Dominique Ansel
Jivara chocolate mousse with espresso biscuit and aerated chocolate

Olives - Chef Alfred Stephens
Candied butternut squash float

Without a doubt, the flan from Southgate and float from Olives completely blew me away. I haven't tasted something as good as those two things in ages and meeting Cheff Kerry from Southgate was a true pleasure and highlight. I'm really excited to go eat there very soon!

The entire evening was lovely and our actual "work" time was literally about twenty minutes. They had enough volunteers where our shifts were a piece of cake and we really just got to enjoy the event. :) It was also another chance to meet people and keep my face in the culinary game, so to speak. Each experience just moves me farther along so what a blessing and total gift from god. Onward and upward I continue to go!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Valentines Day At Otto

The rumor is true. I joined Twitter a few months back and, while at first I had no freaking idea what I was doing on there, I quickly realized just how awesome it is. I follow a bunch of chefs and restaurants and there are so many events of interest that I come across. It's kinda fun because a lot of them are limited space events and, because you find them "first" on Twitter, it sometimes feels like you're in on some great secret that nobody in the city knows about. I now see why businesses gravitate towards tweeting because it really is a genius network.

That said, I came across a tweet from Otto a month or so before Valentines Day about a wine tasting they were holding with only 60 spots available. I totally jumped on that and booked two spots since A) I love Otto and 2) I love wine tastings. I figured that would be a lovely Valentines Day evening. I actually think Valentines Day is pretty stupid and I always have, even when I was a teenager. Now, don't get me wrong, I love any "reason" to celebrate something with wine or good food, but I do not care at all about the romantic part of the day. In my opinion, a wine tasting is just the right mixture of what can be romantic but also just an enjoyable time overall.

When we got there, they showed us into the bar area where I thought they'd done such a nice job with all the tables:
It was also terrific that the two event organizers, Chris and Mackenzie, were so warm and gracious. Chris is actually Otto's wine director and he'd specifically picked the varietals we'd be tasting for the evening. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about the wines which really makes for a lovely tasting all around. These were his choices:
Let me just tell you how insanely good the Ceci Rose was. Holy crap, that's what you call dangerous. I could drink it all day and night! All of the selections were wonderful and I'm actually really glad I took a photo of the menu so I could remember the names of everything. To conclude everything, the prosecco and meyer lemon sorbet was outrageously good. They put a scoop of the sorbet in a large wine glass and topped it with prosecco and a candied clementine slice. You would never in your life think something that simple could be so refreshing and delicious. I now want to drink prosecco in only this fashion, heehee.

I had such a wonderful evening and even I got a little sappy about the romantic part of it all. I think this begins a new Valentines Day tradition as it's probably the best one I've had to date. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Day In Korea

You know how usually you have different groups of friends whose personalities you keep sorta separated? Well, lucky me because most of my friends are so awesome that it doesn't matter what environment you put them in, they'll always be comfortable and make others feel the same way. :) Two of my favorite NYC ladies, Kristine and Abbey, fall into that category. We, along with Allison and Amanda, used to have ladies dinners often where we'd pick a new place to try and all go enjoy it together. Sadly, Amanda moved to Atlanta two years ago so it's just been the four of us to carry on our dinner tradition.

That said, Kristine invited us all over to her apartment on Sunday for a "day trip to Korea". Being of Korean heritage, Kristine grew up eating some amazing dishes that she decided she wanted to cook and share with us. I've been lucky enough to have had some delicious Korean food before but I was so excited that Kristine wanted to cook for us. There's nothing better than being invited into someone's home and having them prepare a meal for you. As you can probably tell in my post about Jeff and Suzanne, dinner parties are one of my favorite things. In this case, it was a lunch party. :)

We got to Kristine's around 1:30pm on Sunday afternoon, popped open some vino, and visited while she finished cooking. It was hilarious because Kristine had slippers for us to wear, since taking off your shoes in the house is a Korean custom, but we all had silly socks us which just made us giggle:
We all haven't been together in quite a while so there was lots to catch up on! When it was finally time to eat, we died at how much Kristine outdid herself. Since I'd had Korean food before, I requested bulgogi which is a fantastic beef dish. Kristine totally indulged my request and made that along with several other Korean specialties such as dduk-mandoo-guk (rice-cake dumpling soup), jap-chae (noodles with veggies), shrimp and kimchee pancake, sae-woo/kimchee-jun and sik-hye (an amazing sweetened rice beverage for after dinner). Unreal:
I'm telling you right now, it was outta this world. The soup was my favorite outside of bulgogi, of course. The rice cakes had the best texture and the dumplings were delicious. It was sort of like Korean comfort food and the flavors in the broth itself were outstanding. Abbey and Allison were in heaven too and it was fun to see them try all these things for the first time. Between Suzanne and Kristine, I had one killer food weekend for sure.

PS - We stayed until 9:00pm drinking vino and eating on and off. Now, that's one perfect day if you ask me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Evening With The Fabulous Fox Duo

I've had such an insane week. My eyes have crossed and I've now officially lost track of what day it is and what I'm doing. I figured I'd take a break, get my mind off work, and fill you in on the most wonderful evening this past Saturday!

The lovely Suzanne and Jeff Fox, recently married on New Years Eve this year, hosted their first formal dinner party as a married couple and man, what a tremendous night it was. The one requirement for the dinner was that everyone dress up which we all thought was terrific. I was really excited for the evening because Suzanne is such a fabulous cook and entertainer. I also love being around her and Jeff because they just exude warmth, love and acceptance. They're one of those couples that makes you feel happy to spend time with them and, with some of the couples I've been around recently, that's a very welcomed change. :-o

Suzanne outdid herself, as usual. When we arrived, she was dressed to the nines in a fabulous one-shoulder black dress with the most awesome high red heels. She was smokin'! I'm telling you, girls just inherently have that giddy side when it comes to getting all dressed up. She'd set a beautiful table (with her fancy formal china!) and had champagne and hors 'douevres ready for everyone upon arrival:
It was just so pretty. I had to snap a photo of Suz as she put some finishing touches on dinner as well because she's too cute for words, honestly:
Though I wanted to keep taking photos of each course, I just snapped one more of the table set with the divine celery salad as our starter:
It was SO good with walnuts, dates, pecorino; super fresh and a perfect way to begin. We went on to enjoy delicious brisket, carrots and parsnips, and polenta finished with the most amazing homemade chocolate tart. As if that wasn't enough, Suz had done different cheese boards that were just outrageous:
I don't even really have to say more, do I? The night went on to be one of the best I've had in quite some time and I'm so blessed to know such wonderful people. We stayed until nearly 2:30am (which I completely blame on Jeff and the Four Loko he broke out that had us out of our minds) and talked, laughed, was just a special evening. Thank you so very much to the wonderful Jeff and Suzanne for a night that will not soon be forgotten. Congrats as well to your recent marriage and may life be full of nothing but the happiness you deserve!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pub Crawling With Marcos

Having a packed weekend surely does make it go by fast, doesn't it? I blinked and it was Monday suddenly.

After a super fun Friday at the game, I was pretty excited to head downtown for Scott's pub crawl on Saturday afternoon. His good buddy, Marcos, was in town from Houston so it was a great chance for Scott to get his group of friends together for some fun. I had a dinner party that evening which I was actually sorta glad about since it kept me from getting into too much trouble, aka patron shots. We met at Seafood's and then all walked over to Fiddlesticks to start the shenanigans. Johnny Hume actually brought his good friend, Kat, along so we could finally meet and I just loved her:
Though I couldn't stay for the entire pub crawl, I had so much fun. Nearly all of Scott's friends that I know are just so hilarious and I really have a great time when we're all out. They have all their inside jokes that are hysterical and over time I've gotten more familiar with them which makes it all even funnier. I was really glad to meet Marcos as well since everyone has spoken so highly of him. Also, there is some track suit joke with all those guys that makes me pee my pants, especially when a few of them showed up fully decked out like this:
Yeah, guy! Such fun people:
Also, as a side note, everyone needs to go see the bartender, Andy, at Fiddlesticks. He's just fantastic and completely added to our party. He's adorable too and we had to get a group shot with him:
A super fun surprise to top things off was that one of Marcos' best friends from Houston flew in as a surprise so that totally added to the fun. How adorable are they:
We bounced around to several fun places after that before I had to leave and it was such a good Saturday afternoon overall. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My 1st Pro Basketball Game: Knicks vs. Lakers

I want to first say that I love Saturday. Since my body just automatically wakes up super early every weekend (boo!), I figured I'd get coffee going and write a post before I head out for the day. :)

So, I've done some pretty cool things in this city in my five years here. I've had some awesome experiences and made tremendous memories so I feel very blessed with the opportunities that have come my way. Last night was no exception, at all. Back in December, Christian and I got to talking about basketball and how I'm not really a fan and had never been to a pro game. He was pretty shocked and told me we'd definitely have to go sometime. I was so excited when he asked me to go yesterday especially when he said it was Knicks vs. Lakers. I may know zero about basketball as a whole but I do know who Kobe Bryant is for goodness sake. 

At any rate, we made our way to MSG after a couple of drinks beforehand and holy crapola, did I about freak out when we got to our seats. Um, he did not tell me that we'd be fourth row from the court nor did he tell me we'd be two seats behind Kanye. Regardless of whether Kanye is a huge douche and idiot, you can't deny that it's very cool to be sitting close to a celebrity. I'm the first person who doesn't jump on the celebrity bandwagon but sometimes it's really neat to enjoy a rare situation like that. People who hate on stuff like that are dumb and just being naysayers. It was actually hilarious to hear the people around us talk about how much they hate him, hahaha. We all agreed that he must have obeyed his PR guys when he signed this kid's jersey:
Ok, back to the basketball. The game was honestly so great. These guys are enormous and I really couldn't stop commenting on it. Christian giggled quite a bit when I'd just freak out at random times about how awesome it was to be so close. Every time Kobe would shoot free throws from our end, I'd get all giddy:
To complete our night, we totally took a limo from MSG down to B-Bar and I swear, it might have been the best point of the night. You can't really tell but oh yes, peace sign and guido face necessary:
We seriously had such a great time. I really love New York sometimes...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Love You, Lawrence Dai!

I have a rather odd sense of humor in which certain things that make me die laughing might leave other people going what the hell...? For example, my lovely sister introduced me to the following today and I've been laughing out loud all day long:

The best part is she found it on someone's Twitter page which means she's getting better with technology in her old age. I'm proud of you, Allison! At any rate, I hope you all will check out Lawrence's blog and start reading from day one as I have. If you haven't seen the movie, it clearly won't be as funny but I think any person on the planet can appreciate his writing humor. I can honestly say that life is now better with Lawrence in it.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Please Hurry, Spring!

(I forgot to post this on actual Groundhogs Day, ooops!)

Welp, on this gloomy, icy, sludgy Groundhog Day, it turns out that there is some groundhog controversy as to whether spring will come early or not! It seems as though the groundhogs in New York predict six more weeks of winter (I believe them) while good ol' Punxsutawney Phil thinks spring will come early. What a torturous outcome we have here. Who's right?!?

I'm joking. I'm not so groundhog obsessed that I am affected by this but I will say...I would very much like spring to hurry up and get here even with all it's allergy inducing ways. I think I'd rather be sniffling like crazy vs. battling the ice skating rinks that are the New York sidewalks this morning. I almost fell down three different times earlier and my lovely rain boots have a hole in both soles so that makes for a glorious time stepping through puddles. I must say though that, even on this gloomy day, I'm in good spirits and greatly appreciating my hot coffee indoors. My feet have finally dried off which is a plus, as well.

Hope everyone is having a great hump day and cross your fingers that spring will be on the way sooner than later! I'm ready to pack up my gloves, break out the picnic gear, and be lazy in the warm sun. All in due time...