I’m at it again! My apologies for the unreasonably long delay - I’ve been busy making life-altering decisions, adventuring (see below), and enjoying far more traveling than I deserve, but I promise to be better about checking in from here on out. I’ll try to backtrack some, because there’s a lot that’s gone on that’s worth noting, but this blog is more about living in the moment, so that’ll be the focus!
~ Just me, Rory, and friends navigating a 12-foot waterfall whilst white water rafting in Costa Rica… ~
When it comes to holiday decorations, the absence of front yards in New York City eliminates the threat of tawdry self-expression or passive aggressive competition betwixt neighbors.Instead, it’s more about bringing the holiday cheer inside, sprucing up our humble abodes in order that the atmosphere might feel quaint and cheery in a high-speed city.And while I haven’t saved up quite enough to dive into some of the breathtaking décor shops ‘round these parts, I did make some wonderful, affordable discoveries at Bed Bath & Beyond – props to becoming an adult!
~ Pretty close to what our place looks like (the Red Room at the White House); photo courtesy of Luke Sharrett for The New York Times ~
Fortunately, I discovered in college that fairy lights instantly create a warm, ethereal vibe in any room.Now with six box’s worth strewn throughout our living room and bedroom, our place possesses all the magic of a ride at Disneyland.And, in addition to all of the wonderful scented candles we stationed around the house, we also picked out some votive candles and beautiful holders to create even more of a glow.
Another holiday tradition I love is poinsettias, but seeing as how we have a difficult enough time remembering to water the giant Evergreen hanging out in the corner of our living room, we decided to pick up some fake plants instead – they’re almost as beautiful as the real ones, and we’ll be able to use them year after year (or just keep them around all the time for good measure).
And because BB&B is just one of those stores, Rory and I once again lost (and found) ourselves in a sea of superfluous holiday knick-knacks.Let’s just say we’re stocked up on holly leaf wastebaskets, jingle bell doorknob decorations, and animated musical snowmen.I cut Rory off at the 24” Lighted Penguin Outdoor Decoration, an injury which has been met with the occasional wistful comment and a faraway longing in his eyes; we tried to schedule another trip to the shop to rectify the situation, but haven’t been able to make it over, which has only created more heartbreaking melancholy around an otherwise jovial homestead.Take home point:ladies – if your man really wants the 2-foot light-up penguin statuette, indulge the guy this holiday season.(Fortunately we’ll be seeing our real Penguin soon, which I think was the true motivation behind the purchase, so all will be remedied shortly!)
~ Lighted Penguin Outdoor Decoration…maybe next year ~
The most extraordinary dinner I have ever sat down to was the night Rory took me to Jean Georges for my 23rd birthday.One of five restaurants in New York City to hold the coveted 3-star Michelin rating, Jean Georges is a crown jewel in a metropolis strewn with culinary treasures.The conception of world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the restaurant resides in the Trump International Hotel, offering an exclusive 64-seat dining room with floor to ceiling windows that open out onto Columbus Circle.The ambiance is soft, sophisticated, and almost seems to possess a sort of 1980s elegance – I’m no expert on interior design across the decades, but there was something about the atmosphere that thrust me into a different time and place.
~ The Jean Georges Dining Room; photo courtesy of Jean Georges ~
After enjoying a tray of delectable amuse-bouches, Rory and I chose the 3-course prix fixe menu, which offered more flexibility than the 6-course tasting menu (although that’s the route we’re goin’ next time!).For our first dish we enjoyed the Sea Scallops, garnished with Caramelized Cauliflower and Caper-Raisin Emulsion; and the Goat Cheese Gnocchi, topped with Caramelized Baby Artichokes, Lemon, and Olive Oil.Not to be outdone by the rich gnocchi, the scallops hit your tongue bursting with a rich, sweet flavor all their own.Course two consisted of Caramelized Foie Gras with Green Apple and Soy Yuzu Froth; and – get ready – Crispy Arctic Char covered in Baby Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Crosnes, Dill, and Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette.
~ Sea Scallops garnished with Caramelized Cauliflower & Caper-Raisin Emulsion; photo courtesy of Flickr ~
Finally, we indulged in the Duck Breast topped with Cracked Jordan Almonds and Amaretto Jus (with another delicious serving of Foie Gras) and the Caramelized Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Pecans, and Avocado. (I’ll spare my humble reviews of each dish for now – just know that everything was as mouth-watering, succulent, and flavorful as it sounds, and get yourself into one of those 64 seats stat!)
~ Jean-Georges in the Kitchen; photo courtesy of Mark Peterson for TIME ~
If we had any doubts as to whether or not the meal would retain its splendor going into dessert, we were quickly rebuked…by about a gazillion desserts placed before us on the table.Jean Georges does dessert by theme, so you just choose what you’re sort of in the mood for and then you get…oh…everything.We decided to go with “Market” and “Chocolate”, which I’ll just list here:
Caramelized White Chocolate, Compressed Melon, Beer Cloud;
Grilled Poached Peach, Apricot Panna Cotta, Peanut Brown Sugar Ice Cream;
~ Grilled Poached Peach, Apricot Panna Cotta, Peanut Brown Sugar Ice Cream; photo courtesy of Flickr ~
Annnd we’re still not done.Then they brought out an assortment of chocolates, macaroons, and candies, just in case we weren’t feeling sugar crazy enough.And just as I was about to explode, they presented me with a pretty little gift bag filled with- “chocolates for the lady…”
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is all of the wonderful holiday smells swirling around the air.From the crisp notes of the Christmas tree to the sweet scent of freshly baked cookies, I love it all!Unfortunately, it’s rare that busy city girls with tiny apartments and even tinier kitchens have the time and necessary resources to keep the scrumptious aromas circulating.So as soon as the colder weather hits, I bust out the festive candles!
~ Christmas Cookie Large Jar Candle from Yankee Candle Company ~
Rory is pretty indifferent towards some of the more flowery and fruity scents I like to fill our little home with throughout the rest of the year.Enter the Christmas Cookie Candle:I can’t keep the guy away from the thing (and wouldn’t ever want to).Every morning I smile when I get out of bed after he’s gone to work, and walk into our living room to find the candle burning strong.We’ve stocked up on several of these from the Yankee Candle Company – although they last a very long time – and also enjoy the Christmas Wreath, which is great for the bathroom, and Home for the Holidays scents.
~ Winter Candy Apple and Fireside 14.5 oz. Filled Candles from Bath & Body Works ~
Despite the fact that Manhattan is 3,000 miles away from Napa Valley, we are a city that embraces the spirit of fine wine and know how to drink it in style.And despite the fact that NYC is about the same distance away from my beloved alma mater, the city manages to draw a respectable number of grads willing to ditch the beautiful California sunshine for the Big Apple… thus, I’m never in want of fabulous company with whom to indulge in a good swirl, sniff, and sip!It must be our prior proximity to world-class vineyards that incites Stanford alums to keep the wineglass flowing strong, for we got together for not one, but two, wine tastings this past week!
~ Cascina Ca’Rossa Nebbiolo 2007 ~
Our first viticultural voyage thrust us a couple thousand years back in time to the glory days of Rome, and to the 41st floor of the Bernstein Global Wealth Management Building – you know, so we could sip on reds while surveying the empire.Dean Richard Saller led a discussion on the growth of the Roman economy while we sipped on champagne and anxiously awaited the rest of the delicious lineup.Roman history has always held a special place in my heart, so the talk was half the treat, and fortunately gave way to a tasting that was just as sweet.At my next Roman banquet I’ll be serving red wine from the Lazio region (if I can ever track the stuff down) and a bottle of Cascina Ca’Rossa Nebbiolo 2007, a Piemonte red that had a slight forest flavor…although this was the last wine we tried, so by this point I was pretty sauced and might be making this up.Apparently, however, wine in Ancient Rome tasted most similar to today’s dry sherry, so I’ll have a bottle of that rounding out my spread as well, upping my class factor tenfold at least.
~ The Harvest (left) and Winery (right) at Boeschen Vineyards; photos courtesy of Boeschen Vineyards ~
On Sunday evening we gathered at a lovely townhome on the Upper East Side for a second wine tasting led by Boeschen Vineyards of St. Helena, Napa Valley.Alum Doug Boeschen went the winemaking route, proving that not all Stanford grads are destined for careers in finance or consulting (a distinction I also hold).We had the chance to sample some of Boeschen’s limited production wines, tapping into bottles that won’t be released until next year – although they were still delectable and will only get better as they age over the coming months.We also had the opportunity to try the award-winning 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, which earned the accolade of top Sauvignon Blanc in Napa Valley – this bad boy flew out of the crates on release day, so it was definitely a rare delight!I’ve never been one to choose white over red, but I will definitely be choosing this wine for my next get together.
~ The Harvest at Boeschen Vineyards; photo courtesy of B.V. ~
There’s no doubt that New York City is a theatrical hub, playing host to some of the most talented singers, dancers, actors, directors, and musicians of our time.And while many are drawn to the glitter and grandeur of Broadway, Saturday afternoon Rory and I found ourselves drawn to the faraway land of Brooklyn.St. Ann’s Warehouse was presenting the Kneehigh Theatre’sThe Red Shoes, one of the most enthralling, exquisite productions I have ever seen.
~ The Girl, played by Patrycja Kujawska; photo courtesy of The Kneehigh Theatre ~
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name, The Red Shoes explores the story of a little girl struck with tragedy who finds redemption in her new red shoes.Loud, audacious, and with a mind of their own, they set her free and then take her prisoner.Unable to remove the shoes, the little girl is condemned to dance to her death, or at least until a generous butcher offers to cut them off…
~ The Old Lady, played by Dave Mynne; photo courtesy of The Kneehigh Theatre ~
The Red Shoes is sinister and whimsical, seductive and fanatical.With scant lines, the actors perform in tattered underwear and are brilliantly expressive.The host/hostess Lady Lydia, played exceptionally by Giles King, acts as ringmaster, instructing the actors to play the different parts of the fairy tail, and providing darkly humorous commentary as the tragedy unfolds.The set is simple, the music intoxicating, and the choreography is at once cheeky and haunting.This is a corporeal performance that sends shivers up your spine and makes you wish the Kneehigh Theatre was based in Manhattan!
Shoes as red as wounds That’s what I want Not an orange hue Or a vermilion pink But red red red Kicking under my bed
Sensible footwear Is just too hard to bear Shoes as red as desire That’s what I craveNo glass slippers for me That turn to skin at the midnight hour Shoes that bleed That’s what I needSoles that with The Devil have danced That’s what all you girls need!
~ Lady Lydia, played by Giles King; photo courtesy of The Kneehigh Theatre ~
Rory and I have visited some incredible steakhouses over the past year that we’ve lived in New York.Wolfgang’s is one of our favorites, so when our friend Brennan came to visit this past weekend, we gathered up a group and headed over on Friday night.Owner Wolfgang Zwiener first learned his craft as the headwaiter at famed steakhouse Peter Luger in Brooklyn.And although he is now the head of an esteemed chain, he still cares about every piece of beef that leaves his meat cellar – and makes sure to do the appropriate fieldwork, greeting diners who are lucky enough to catch him when he is in (Wolfgang stopped by our table with some complimentary dessert wine on Rory’s birthday).
~ Wolfgang’s flagship Park Avenue location is situated in the former Vanderbilt Hotel dining room; photo courtesy of Wolfgang’s ~
Rory likes to take the reins at the dinner table when steak is involved, ordering multiple rounds of drinks, appetizers, and the tasting menu, so a few of our unenlightened dining companions were a bit aghast.But old timers Brennan, Delamon, James, and Ryan knew what was in store, so all we had to do was sit back and let the man place his order.You wouldn’t necessarily know that it was one of the highlights of the menu, but the extra thick Canadian bacon is definitely the way to start off the evening.These rich slabs downplayed the oysters we ordered in conjunction, but you know how I love those little suckers, so all was fine in the end.Then, for every two people at our table, we ordered the U.S.D.A. prime, dry aged porterhouse (a mouthful in and of itself), which was comprised of some of the most tender, flavorful Filet and New York Strip I’ve ever tasted.We accompanied this with the creamed spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms – each worthy of the scrumptious main plate.
~ U.S.D.A. Prime, Dry Aged Porterhouse for Two; photo courtesy of Wolfgang’s ~
Generally we like to top it all off with Apple Strudel covered in homemade “Schlag”, or whipped cream, but we opted to keep the Malbec flowing instead, toasting under the arched ceilings tiled by Rafael Guastayino.Residing in the former Vanderbilt Hotel dining room, Wolfgang’s is the perfect setting for a roaring, ostentatious feast with friends.
Despite the cold and rain that it ushered into NYC, December 1st brought us one step closer to a “beautiful world without AIDS”.On World AIDS Day, Hairdressers Against AIDS made its debut in the United States.An advocacy program that encourages salon professionals to use their voices and close relationships with clients to educate and help prevent the spread of HIV, HAA drew hundreds of hairdressers, celebrities, and politicians to the streets of Manhattan to initiate one million conversations about the infectious disease.
Using Flip Video camcorders and video booths, the likes of Carson Kressley, Ellen Pompeo, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Pete Wentz recorded clips to speak out against the spread of the virus, and encouraged passersby to do the same.Many of these were streamed to video screens on the NASDAQ and Reuters buildings in Times Square, as well as to the web.
~ 500 Hairdressers from across the country helped to launch Hairdressers Against AIDS in the U.S.; photo courtesy of HAA ~
I’ve recently heard New York described as harsh and unforgiving, a place that breaks down the bright-eyed and naïve.On the contrary, I’ve found this city to be full of ambition and rich prospect – a place that offers up what you dare to demand of it.And one thing I am constantly enamored by is New York’s situation in this world as a rallying point and springboard for positive change.True, some may argue that we are seduced merely by sparkle and celebrity, rather than by a real urge to act; but I would argue that this is a place that facilitates situations in which we stand alongside our leaders to speak, because in New York City this is a right of passage.The city may seem callous at times, but the character we build and thick skin we develop help us to take on trial and challenge – and so far as I have seen, it has mostly been for good.
Every big city gal needs a break to return to the small town she came from – and that’s why my Manhattan musings went on hiatus for the past week or so while I was back in Colorado for the holiday.But now that I’ve made my way back to the city that lives two hours in the future, I’ve found it a tad difficult to reorient myself from Mountain to Eastern.It also doesn’t help that Rory and I once again opted for the red-eye, which always seems like a time- and cost-effective solution in theory, but sucks the life out of you in practice.
Fortunately, my lovely mother presented me with an early Christmas gift in the form of this sexy piece of bling:
~ Michael Kors Gold 5-Link Rectangle Glitz Watch ~
I’ve never been a big watch wearer, but this timepiece is a fashion statement.Not only is gold coming back into style, but also this piece of jewelry adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit.At a time in my life when I’m still trying to strike a balance between young lady and young at heart, this Michael Kors watch is the perfect accessory. Sparkly, stylish, and on the dot, it’ll keep me grounded in New York City in more ways than one!
One amusing aspect of New York oft overlooked by natives is the sheer number of live talk shows that call this place home.The Wendy Williams Show is one of them, and while I never imagined I would be lining up in the cold, early morn for the queen of “How you doin?!” (Wendy’s signature line), I’ll happily join in the next time Cesar signs me up for the next daytime television outing.
The duty of a live audience member is a crucial one, and that’s why they stocked the waiting area with coffee and donuts.Hopped up on caffeine and sugar, we were able to get down with the boisterous MC dancing his way around the crowd; cheer on the 82-year-old man who took the preshow dance competition by storm; and rehearse our “oohs” and “aahs” with associate producers who were terrified we wouldn’t be rowdy enough for the unforgiving camera and judgmental fans at home…a needless exercise, given that the room was brimming with an entire lifetime’s worth of sass.
All maniacal delights aside, the greatest part of the morning took place when Larry King and his senior executive producer Wendy Walker took the stage to discuss the King’s illustrious career and Walker’s new book, Producer.This was a great surprise for me, as the show had up until this point been focused on Eva Longoria’s breakup with Tony Parker and confessions of various nannies-to-the-stars.While I’m a sucker for celeb gossip as much as the next…sucker…I prefer a side of substance with the latest dish that Suri Cruz eats cupcakes for breakfast.That, and I’ve recently become captivated by Larry King’s increasingly audacious on-air ‘tude as retirement looms ever closer.(I’m not being derisive, Larry’s my homeboy.)Sure enough, the King brought it full force with this raunchy gem:
I was never a Wendy follower before this day, but she had some great fans, and the experience shaped up to be a fun Thursday morning on the whole.More on this Manhattan social experiment when I hit up Colbert and the SNL fools…