Friday, June 27, 2008

If the shoe fits, buy it!

Nothing like shopping for shoes in New York! Actually, I shop for shoes pretty much everywhere I go. It's a sickness, I know. I averaged two pairs per day while in the Big Apple...

Hey, no cracks about the sparkling Easy Spirits. They were an emergency purchase during a mid 45 block walkabout. My Vans were killing me!

Love New York...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A New York Foodie Fable

Mom and I flew into Manhattan on Sunday and we've eaten some tasty treats since our arrival in one of my favorite cities on the planet, let me tell ya. For me, the culinary arts are right up there in the creative pantheon next to the artsy and crafty. However, I don't get much time to cook because (i) I'm on the road a lot, (ii) in the air just about as much, (iii) hole up in my office when not on the road or in the air, and (iv) knitting, crocheting, weaving, dyeing and spinning during my waking hours. There's not a whole lot of room in my schedule for cookery. However, I girl's gotta eat and well, I'm not one for missing meals.

So, where does this crafty maven eat while in the Big Apple?


Let me just open with the fact that Dale was nowhere to be found. In spite of this fact, Mom, my friend and colleague, Amanda, and I still managed to have a wonderful supper filled with outstanding dishes. Let's just see what tantalized our taste buds, shall we?

Appetizers included Edamame Dumplings in shallot-sauternes broth, Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly with spicy shallots, cabbage and steamed buns, General Tso's Dumplings stuffed with chicken, ginger and garlic, Tuna Spring Rolls and Chili Rock Shrimp. Main selections included Shrimp and Lobster Chow Fun, Charred Fillet of Beef and Twice Cooked Long Beans. For dessert we indulged in Chocolate Mille Feuille. Oh, and we also polished off two bottles of Leitz Reisling (2006).

I loved the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly served sliced atop a bed of tangy cabbage slaw, alongside split steamed buns, encouraging the eater to build his or her own bao. The pork was cooked perfectly, tender, juicy, the glaze a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. Also of note were the Chili Rock Shrimp (batter dip it and fry it and I'll pretty much love it) and the Charred Fillet of Beef in all of it's buttery goodness. If you're a culinary adventurer like me, you will enjoy the Chocolate Mille Feuille, which combines bananas, chocolate and avocado. A lovely and unexpected dish to end a truly outstanding meal.

The restaurant itself is a feast for the eyes. Gorgeous, dark, rich surroundings. The service was prompt and on point for the entire meal. Dishes were brought out steaming hot from the kitchen when ready, providing diners with a constant onslaught of food. Hey, works for me!

75 9th Ave. (Bet. W. 15th & W. 16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011

Next up, Prune.

Mom and I grabbed a cab to the East Village Tuesday night in order to dine in a little bistro that I'd heard nothing but good things about. And I'm happy to report, everything I had heard was absolutely true. Prune is something special. Owner/Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, creates food that is all at once, spirited, homey, rich and resonant.

Mom and I started our meal with Roast Marrow Bones, atop a parsley salad, accompanied by toasted hunks of fresh baguette and a small dish of sea salt. I like dishes that require a little work. With this dish, the eater is required to extract the rich marrow from the bones with spoon or knife and then spread the fatty goodness atop bread. Well worth the effort.

Our main courses consisted of Grilled Quail with Braised Escarole and Raisins on the Vine and Lamb Ribs with Braised Dandelion Greens and Skordalia. The quail was smoky and tender. The greens, equally tender as the quail with a hint of sweetness from the raisins. A good dish. Although, the lamb ribs were better, rich and perfectly cooked. The ribs were crispy on the outside, while the meat itself was tender and falling off the bone. We also indulged in a side of braised leeks and greens. They were buttery and soft. Yum!

Mom and I rounded out the meal with a shared dessert of Ricotta Ice Cream with Butterscotch Croutons. Heaven in a bowl.

The restaurant itself is a quirky and quaint little joint, cozy and comfortable, filled with light, albeit small. Service was spot on. I will definitely be making ressies for Prune each and every time I find myself in NYC.

54 E. 1st Street (Bet. 1st & 2nd Avenues)
New York, NY 10003

Third stop on the food tour, Blue Hill. This was not my first visit to this lovely little spot in Washington Square and it was absolutely a pleasure to be able to feast there again.

Mom and I were seated in a comfortable table along the east wall. We began with a bottle of Rose (the name is escaping me and it's not listed in this wine list available on their website!), our current fave. Got to love that Rose is making a comeback AND its not that sickeningly sweet junk found in a screw top bottle or in a box with a tap (FOR SHAME).

Service was a bit slow at first. Someone finally caught on that we were sitting for quite some time, sucking down more than one glass of wine apiece, without having placed our order. From then on, service was smooth.

We began our meal with Gazpacho (fresh, tangy and GREEN) and Maine Crabmeat, shredded atop a compote of fennel, apple and Stone Barns panther soybeans in an apple mustard broth. Both dishes were quite good. Although if I had to choose my favorite, it would be the Gazpacho, hands down. Big fan of the chilled soup.

Mom and I both had the Potato and Green Garlic Ravioli for our main selection. The ravioli itself was rich and the flavors clean. Actually, this was probably one of the more interesting raviolis I've tried. The pasta pockets were served tossed with baby collards, roasted chicken wing pieces (boneless and crisp) and shiitake mushrooms. We both inhaled everything on our plates.

For dessert we indulged in the Chocolate Bread Pudding and the Ricotta Souffle. The bread pudding was served warm topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate oozing from it's center. Need I say more? The Ricotta Souffle was also served warm, every spoonful light and lemony. So good.

I love Blue Hill. It is seasonal dining at its best.

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place
New York, NY 10011

One last night for dining. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 23, 2008

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease!

I am in a city other than Los Angeles...again. Working and playing in Manhattan...again. Though I'm not alone this time! Yay!! Mom has accompanied me on this trip in order to get reacquainted with the city of her birth and, of course, spend a bit of quality time with her first born.

Before I get into a post about this trip however, I owe you all a post (or two) about Paris! Yes, I know. It's about time!

Getting to Paris was a lovely experience. (Remember, I was on yet another work/play extravaganza, which began with seven days in London, culminating with four days in the city of light.) My colleagues, the hubs and I boarded the Eurostar in London for a quick two and a half hour jaunt beneath the English Channel to our final European destination. This was my first rail experience in Europe and, well, I highly recommend it! It was quick, painless, good food and anyway, there is only so much plane travel I can handle in one month...

Upon arrival to the Paris Gare du Nord station, we hailed a cab and snaked our way about the paved labyrinth of streets to our hotel, which happened to be directly across from the Louvre. Nice locale for moi, a, um, err, Paris virgin, albeit expensive ($700 per night) and home to a rodent or two...Did I tell you that the location was good?

After checking in, we dropped our bags in our respective rooms and hit the ground running in search of food, drink and a bit of Paris nightlife. A couple of glasses of wine and Ratatouille would become a fond memory. Okay, it took four glasses of wine, but whatever. Our little group wandered from cafe to cafe, talking, laughing and enjoying the evening, before heading back to the hotel for the night.

The following day was all about sight-seeing. We began at the Louvre...

Venus de Milo

Winged Thrace

Gallery ceiling

David's Madame Recamier

David's The Oath of the Horatii

THE Mona Lisa

Working our way from that spectacular museum...

To the Eiffel Tower...

A view from the top of the tower

Definitely a good way to pass the day even if my hair did end up looking like this from the humidity...

A few more glasses of wine accompanied by some baguette and beurre would make me forget the hair.

Okay, not really. I mean, look at that do!

Just terrible!

However, I would endure. I had to! It was my birthday after all...

To be continued...

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Day At The Range

Hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day!

I spent the morning amidst many a father and son at a local gun club.

Yes, I said gun club.

I know, sounds weird coming from me, the arts and crafts chick. However, I found out a few weeks ago that this year's cube farm retreat will include skeet shooting as an activity. Upon hearing this plan, I thought GREAT. Not only do I know little to nothing about shooting skeet or trap, but I have NEVER, in my 39 years on the planet, handled a firearm unless of course water guns count, which they don't. So yeah, guns? Not so much.

When I told my husband about this retreat activity he smiled and told me not to worry, he'd take care of it. I had no idea what that meant, but I trusted him. Days later he called me at work to let me know that we had an appointment at a local gun club with an instructor in a few weeks. A bit apprehensive, I agreed.

My husband was so looking forward to taking me shooting. He was the youngest child raised in a house full of brothers fathered by an imposing man who was a career Los Angeles County Sheriff Homicide Detective. My husband's entire family played team sports, ate copious amounts of beef and they all learned how to handle guns. You know, they're dudes. I, conversely, was raised by two over-educated pacifist hippies. When I was a child, my family avoided eating red meat or refined sugar, I was only allowed to watch one hour of network television per day and my Dad would conduct group therapy sessions with my friends in order to promote healthy teenage dialog. Yeah, our childhood experiences differ just a tad.

Gun-free childhood notwithstanding, I was going to have to learn to pull a trigger. Better to tackle this unknown with the trusted hubs than with the cube farm gang.

So, yesterday morning hubby and I headed north to the gun club to meet my instructor, Warren, who turned out to be a very patient and sweet man. He spent an inordinate amount of time teaching me about gun safety, proper form and how the game of trap is played. Upon completion of the fundamentals, Warren, asked me to put my earplugs in and pick up the shotgun from the rack. I apprehensively complied, extricated the weapon from the rack and walked cautiously to my first position. Warren dropped a round of ammo into my gun and I armed the weapon. He told me to say pull when I was ready, which I did just above a whisper. I pulled the trigger upon sight of the clay pigeon ejecting from the house, feeling the heel of the gun kick back into the crook of my shoulder as I fired. Okay, I missed, but I fired the weapon. No small feat for me!

Warren congratulated me and asked me if I was ready to try it again. I said yes and missed again. On my third attempt I hit the moving target! I was so excited! It was probably a fluke, but who cares! I blew that neon green clay pigeon to smithereens! Warren and my husband were cheering me on.


I hit another pigeon! And I pretty much continued to hit three to five targets in a row before missing one in between!

Warren looked at me and told me I was doing fantastic and the hubs was giving me a standing ovation from his observation bench! What an awesome feeling! Here I was at a freakin' gun club, the only chick for miles, hitting those clay pigeons one after the other like I'd been practicing my whole life, while the groups of dudes stationed on either side of us were hitting targets every now and again. How great is that???

Needless to say, I will be taking more lessons. My goal is to outshoot all the dudes at the retreat. I mean, they're scared of me now and I'm just your average crocheter/knitter. Just wait until they see me with a shotgun!

Moi? Competitive? Nah!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nautical Niceties

Sea Cushions
Originally uploaded by ladylinoleum
Check out my new pillow designs in the latest issue of Crochet Today magazine! They're perfect for summer! And hey, who doesn't want to crochet a lobster??

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The fun never stops...

How was your weekend LadyLinoleum?
Oh, okay if you don't count my offspring's teen mouth shooting off at me (via phone, text message, as well as in the flesh) for the entire day on Saturday whilst trying to conduct my knitting and crochet classes.  Or the fact that the hubby and I had to rush the very same teen and mouth to the hospital during the wee hours of Sunday morning for an emergency appendectomy.  Yeah, fun stuff.
On the bright side though, I did get a lot of knitting and crocheting done... 
Ahhhh!  I need a vacation.  One that does not include answering work emails or showing up to an office in some distant city.  Possible?  Who knows!
Actually, I'd just settle for a cocktail right about now...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Very First Sock!

Originally uploaded by ladylinoleum
Sorry for the lulls between posts! Blogging has become so difficult for me to do as of late. I am trying to work out the scheduling difficulties as I type this, but peeps I’m telling you, I’ve yet to find a solution that is sufficient.

At any rate, enough complaining! I'd rather show you my first sock!!

I know, for most of you, sock knitting is definitely old hat. No, old shoe. Oh, whatever! You get my drift. Most of you have been knitting socks forever! However, I just didn’t feel the need to slip my toe into the, um, err, sock, until recently. And by recently, I mean while trying to pack for my business/pleasure trip to Europe where I was having to make decisions such as, second suit or second shawl project (just in case I finish the first)? Really, on this last trip I think I faced the conundrum of “how much yarn is too much yarn in one’s carry-on” head on!

Yeah, so, I figured it was time to make small projects part of my repertoire. I should be more specific. Small projects that are challenging and not necessarily able to be finished in a few hours need to become part of my repertoire. Hence, socks. I may need to throw a few glove projects into the mix here and there as well. Regardless, I will be toting less yarn around from airport to airport. Of this I am sure. Well, I think I’m sure anyway. This actually could mean a carry-on filled with loads of sock yarn!

Anyway, I made a sock. I’m sure that you sock knitters recognize the pattern I am using. Yep, I’m knitting a pair of Jaywalkers! In addition, I am using yarn from my stash which happens to be Sock Garden from Knit Picks. I don’t even think they offer this yarn anymore. It’s got to be a couple of years old. However, I’ve got enough of this colorway to finish the pair, so no worries.

Not bad eh?

I am definitely enjoying the process of making socks. This may even lead to a few sock designs of my own…

And yes, I still owe you all a post about Paris. Stay tuned.