Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monica's Baby Shower and Sarah's Garden Party

Coming off the heels of a magnificent evening at Suzanne and Jeff's, I had quite a busy Sunday ahead! I was excited to be a part of my friend, Monica's, baby shower downtown but little did I know how much fun this would be.

I know Monica through Allison so, after church, she and I headed down to Cienfuegos on 6th and Avenue A where the shower was taking place. When we got there, I couldn't believe how neat this little restaurant was! It's so eclectic with its whimsical Victorian chairs and tables yet it had the open-air feel of being on a Cuban beach. It was such a neat contrast and I loved it! As people arrived, I got to meet more of Monica's friends who are absolutely awesome. When she and her fiance, Shaun, finally got there I just felt so extremely happy to be there. It was kind of odd how overwhelming that felt but I truly did have this very happy feeling inside. At any rate, talking to everyone was so very interesting and I had the best conversation with a couple of people about Chicago and San Francisco, two cities I've considered moving to in the distant future. I kept noticing Shaun getting up and getting things for the table which struck me as odd but I thought maybe he was just really friendly with the people there. Well, it turns out that he owns Cienfuegos...and several other places in the city! I had NO idea that he was a restaurateur. I also had no idea that he lived in Italy for several years and speaks fluent Italian. I was totally blown away by his stories and he is an amazing contact to have in the restaurant business. Not only is he totally cool and down to earth but he's so smart and has true, lifelong passion for the industry. He also grew up in Marietta (that I did know) and I probably knew him when I was younger and didn't realize it. This world is so small sometimes...

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch with awesome cocktails, watched Monica open her sweet gifts and ate the most decadent chocolate fudge cake:
It was the most fun baby shower I've ever been to, I can say that hands down!

Afterward, we had to take off and get to another party at Sarah and Xavier's place. Sarah is a friend of ours from running and she's one of the coolest women I know. She's totally granola yet she's married to a popular French mixologist whom Allison and I had yet to meet. They were throwing a party in their apartment garden and let me just tell was beautiful! I can't believe we didn't get a picture, grrr.

As soon as we got there, Xavier greeted us with a special white cosmo he'd made which was freaking delicious (I expected no less, ha!). We met a bunch of their friends, mostly French, and sat outside talking for so long. One of Sarahs's best friends, Abi, had us absolutely cracking up and it was honestly so fun. After a while, we got to talking to Xavier and, as if I haven't been blown away enough by meeting certain people lately, it turns out everyone there was in the industry. Xavier is actually the head bartender at Daniel (where I recently dined for my birthday) and his buddy that was also there is executive chef at Bagatelle. I mean,'s like these people/events keep falling into my lap and it's incredible! We chatted for a while about the business and, from that conversation to what we discussed with Shaun, it was a pretty awesome afternoon. I guess we'll see where these things continue to lead... ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Summertime!

After so many weekends being taken up recently, I was super excited to finally enjoy a weekend doing MY own thing. It's funny how that still includes a packed few days but hey, I'm not sweating to death working in the kitchen or traveling all over the place. I'm averaging a couple of weeks being late in my posts but, at the beginning of the month, lovely Suzanne invited us ladies over for drinks to enjoy her beautiful rooftop, hear about her and Jeff's trip to Spain and to kick off summer. I couldn't wait as visiting with Suzanne is always such a special time and so fun!

Earlier in the day, I'd gotten to go to the park and relax in the sun for a couple of hours. I'm getting better at listening to my body and knowing when I need to slow down which, as most of you know, is a big deal for me. It was time to do so, that's for sure. In conjunction with having other plans, I also took the weekend away from Hearth to kind of recharge. It was so nice! Being in the sun was perfect and it was such a beautiful day. I got a delicious margarita with Allison after the park and then it was time to head over to Suzanne's.

This woman is just amazing and so generous, I tell you. We walked in to a gorgeous spread of ricotta (that Suz made herself that day!) crostini with arugula and radishes and lovely melon-mozzarella-prosciutto skewers all on beautiful Spanish china she'd brought back from her trip. She'd also dressed marcona almonds, which I love, with fresh herbs, olive oil and salt. If that wasn't enough, she'd made watermelon cocktails with fresh watermelon that she'd pureed and strained. I can't re-cap it nearly as well as Colleen's fantastic photos do:
How beautiful is Suzanne:
If you think those are good, please take a moment to visit Colleen's website, Colleen Putman Photography, here. You'll see a tremendous showcase of her phenomenal work. I just had to share a couple of her photos here because they're so vibrant and summery.

We had an amazing time visiting, as usual. I'm so thankful to have met Suzanne and Jeff. My life has really been enhanced by their caring, warm, hospitable nature. They're rare, both as a couple, and as individuals. It's wonderful to spend time with a couple who is truly meant to be for all the right reasons. I so enjoy being with them and I'm a lucky gal to experience what I have with them. Thank you for introducing us all, Colleen! In addition to the lovely spread, Suz had gotten each of us beautiful Spanish bowls and she brought me salt from Mugaritz, ahhhh! I mean, how thoughtful is she? Such a special lady. It was a really great evening together with my very favorite girls!

Happy Summer, everyone! I think it's going to be a memorable one. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Memorial Day With Brant, Susanne & Junior

I seriously had the craziest May, ever. Holy crap, I overbooked myself big time but, even with all I had going on, I was totally psyched to have Brant and Susanne finish off the month with a Memorial Day visit. They've come to visit me so many times and I'm totally blessed to have friends who make that kind of effort. This trip was especially meaningful for two reasons: 1) Susanne is just about four months pregnant and 2) it might be their last trip to see me while I still live here (holy moly, I can't even think about that!). As soon as they arrived, I just knew Susanne would look absolutely darling and she surely did. Apparently, she and Brant had joked about naming the baby something ridiculous like 'Junior' but now the name has affectionately stuck...and I love it. :)

Since Brant and Susanne have done mostly all of the touristy things here, this visit was far different than all the others. They decided they really wanted to be locals for a weekend and Upper East Side locals, at that. The only request Susanne had was a little shopping for a cute maternity dress or two. That was the only planned thing on our agenda other than a long bike ride I'd already had on the calendar. They'd actually gone to DC a couple of days before coming to NY so they ended up getting in on a pretty late train on Friday night. Come Saturday morning, I was off on the bike super early and they had a nice, relaxed morning in the 'hood. 65 miles and lots of sweat later, I was more than ready for a cold beer and to finally start our visit.

We had the absolute best weekend together and it was by far my favorite visit of theirs. We laughed, reminisced, talked about everything under the sun and really just relaxed. We took them to so many favorite local spots like Cilantro, Libertador, Gina's, Swig, Vero, Cafe D'Alsace...just all the places we love so much and go to on any given day. They got a real taste for life in the city on an average weekend which was so fun! We also had our fair share of shenanigans and I won't even get into explaining that, hahaha. It was just so nice having them here:
We're all quite excited to meet Junior come October and we're pretty psyched that NY has been the first trip he or she has been on. Mine and Brant's relationship has stood the test of time and a great deal of hardship so being where we all are now is such a joy. The years have been kind to us as a whole and we're all truly like family which is quite special. Junior is going to be welcomed into this world with lots of open arms and love, I can tell you that. Thank you for making the trip up yet again, Brant and Susanne; it means the world to me!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Evening with Glen Hansard

This city is chock full of the coolest things to do, I swear. As New Yorkers, you often overlook the really amazing events going on right under your nose and I'm thankful that my friend, An, actually enjoys scouring the city for unique and different happenings. A couple of weeks ago, she found out that Glen Hansard was doing a show at The Met and I thought that just sounded so cool. I asked Allison if she'd be interested so the three of us ladies had an exceptional visit to Ireland for a day. ;)

When we got to The Met, it turned out that our ticket got us access to the guitar exhibit as well so we decided to check it out first. Oh my gosh, it was amazing! Some of the craftsmanship on these guitars was outstanding and so beautiful. We browsed around for quite a while in awe of the designs and shapes of some of them. During my two years of guitar lessons, I never got tired of learning about the history of these instruments and just how intricate and detailed they are. It was an awesome exhibit to see.

When we went back upstairs for the show, we had no idea it was taking place in the Temple Room OR that Harpoon was sponsoring the entire thing! It was the freaking coolest setup and all three of us couldn't get over how unexpected it was. We drank delicious Harpoon summer ale and enjoyed such a beautiful concert. His song 'falling slowly' is just so lovely and, when he performed that, it felt really reverent when you combined it with our surroundings:
It was definitely a great experience and right in my neighborhood, no less. Afterward, An and I went for all you can eat sushi at Yuka (seriously the best I've ever had in this city, no joke) and rounded out a really fun evening. :)