July 2009

Our horrible transportation karma really came to a head on Friday.  On our way from Kim’s house to Boston’s airport, we found out that our flight was cancelled.  Delta had “thoughtfully” put us on the next flight, at 2:30.  Well, the weather got really bad at LaGuardia, so our flight was delayed.  And delayed.  And delayed again.  We finally bailed at 5:30 and DROVE back to New York.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, we had awesome plans for Friday night which we had to cancel.  Friends of ours from home were also in New York, so had pre-arranged to meet for dinner at Tabla (where we had a fantastic meal during our trip in December).  It was really disappointing to have to cancel the dinner.  We already had dinner reservations for Saturday and Sunday night, and we didn’t want to cancel either of those.  My mom said we might be able to go to Bread Bar (the casual downstairs restaurant) on Monday for lunch since our flight was late in the afternoon.

We finally got back to New York at midnight on Friday night.  What a very, very long day.

Saturday was pretty low key.  My mom had lunch plans with a friend, so the rest of us went to see Transformers.  It was only okay for me.  My brother and dad probably thought Megan Fox deserved an Oscar for her AMAZING performance!

We went to Flex Mussels for dinner on Saturday night.  I had the same appetizer (bitter green salad with fennel) and main course (fish and chips) that I had in December.  My brother wasn’t with us last time, so this was new for him.  New for us were the crowds and noise (thank you, NY Times review!).  It was very loud this time, which was not as fun.  We shared some awesome desserts (a peach cobbler and some donuts), though.  The food is really good there.  Maybe I’ll actually try the mussels next time.  We’ll see.

Sunday night was Locanda Verde, which is in Tribeca.  I don’t know much about New York neighborhoods, but this one is very far from my grandparents’ apartment.  We took the subway there, which wasn’t too bad.  This restaurant is an Italian family style farm-to-table place.  It was AMAZING.  It was just as crowded as Flex Mussles but not nearly as noisy.  (My mom said that the bathroom was bigger than the studio apartment my aunt had in the mid-80s.  Wow – that must have been small!)  We had a ton of food.  I can’t even remember everything, but I do remember the chicken for two (or four, in our case) was delicious.  I would love to go back to this restaurant next time, too.

My mom came through for me on Monday for lunch.  We went to Bread Bar.  YAY!  (My brother and dad went to Shake Shack across the street.)  So, we get there and sit down.  The waitress was so nice to us.  The restaurant was pretty quiet since it was only noon, so she chatted with us for a few minutes.  I went on and on about our dinner in December and our cancelled dinner on Friday night.  Turns out that Chef Floyd was in the house, so he came down.  He said he thought I was older because the e-mails I sent were well written.  Hooray! Someone actually thinks I’m older than I am!  That never happens since I’m petite for my age.   Anyway, he was super-nice and friendly.

My mom and I shared everything.  Our first course was Bouchot Mussels Chilli Fry (mussels in with coconut, kokum, tamarind and chilis).  I didn’t know what kokum and tamarind were, so I just went with it.  So, I actually did try mussels on this trip, just not at a mussel restaurant!   My mom makes a great chicken tikka, so I had to try Tabla’s version.  We also shared the Saag Paneer Pizza since I love spinach all of the sudden!  Chef Floyd gave us some suprise treats, which were a chickpea salad (with two kinds of chickpeas I had never heard of before) and a really unusual halibut with watermelon curry (Really.  I’m not kidding.)  The halibut had a yummy crunchy coating on top.  Very cool textures.

My brother and dad came to the restaurant just in time for dessert (what a shock).  We ordered the Bread Bar Donut Holes (with three great dipping sauces) and the lemon pudding cake.  I was amazed when our waiter from December (Branden) delivered the desserts. I remembered him, and HE remembered ME.  That was so cool.  He told me they were all disappointed that we couldn’t come on Friday night (ME, TOO), and that they had reserved a great table for us.  What.a.bummer.  Anyway, the lunch was great, and I can’t believe how nice Chef was to me and my mom.  We talked about some really interesting things.  I can understand why my parents love the restaurant so much. My grandmother (who hates prix fixe menus) has even said that she and my grandfather will go with us.  That’ll be awesome.  The food and the staff are so great.  I surprised myself  by how much I liked it in December, and this time was even more special.

Next time we go, I’ve got to remember to get the popcorn recipe.  That stuff is addicting!  The waitress was nice enough to give us some extra to take with us on the plane.  Sadly, my brother took it away from me on the plane (he didn’t like the smell) and then HE LEFT IT BEHIND!!! He says it was an “accident”, but really.  How hard can it be to remember to take stuff off a plane, right?  Well, I guess that isn’t exactly true, but I was not too happy.

Thanks again to Chef Floyd and everyone at Tabla.  It was the end of a great weekend of food and fun (and finally, NO RAIN).


We left NJ on Monday and drove to Cooperstown.  On the way, my mother couldn’t figure out where the restaurant was that she wanted to go to, so we ended up going to a really unusual (for us) diner in Pennsylvania. I guess people like these types of places, but we NEVER (and I mean NEVER) go to places that are on the side of the freeway (unless it’s In N Out burger).  My mom saw the sign that said “Homemade Pie” and she said that we should check it out.  Let’s just say that my brother said later that he felt like he had landed in another family.  Exactly.  The pie was okay, but really the whole thing was very weird.  (I forgot to say in my last post that we got lost at every step of our trip in New Jersey and apparently our bad transportation karma was continuing.)

We checked into a bed and breakfast (my first) in Cooperstown.  Very cute and different from a hotel.  We didn’t have time to go to the Hall of Fame before dinner, so we did a little shopping and checked out the town. I got a t-shirt for the minor league team the Montgomery Biscuits.  It’s kind of funny looking, but I guess that’s the idea.  We found a cute place to eat, but it was actually completely booked.  We ended up eating our second mediocre meal of the day in a sports bar (ugh), but it didn’t really matter.  Our bad lunch at the diner was really late, so we weren’t all that hungry.

We had a great breakfast at the B&B and headed over to the Hall.  It was my first time there, and I thought it was interesting.  My mom took a picture of me in front of Jim Rice’s picture.  (He’s being inducted this month.)  She and her old friend Kim have a long-standing joke about Kim dropping Jim Rice’s name (she claimed he was her cousin because he was the only Red Sox player she had ever heard of at the time) to get into a game (way back in the 70s or something).  Anyway, Jim Rice is black, and Kim…well, she isn’t.  Obviously, the usher didn’t buy her story, but it was the first thing both of them thought of when Jim Rice’s election to the hall was announced.  Some day I’ll have 30-year-old memories, too, I guess.  Wow.

Anyway, we went back to Alex and Ika for lunch before we headed out of Cooperstown.  I had a delicious BLT and my mom had roast chicken.  Can’t remember what my dad and brother had, but we all really enjoyed our lunch. I can imagine that this place is great for people who like something more interesting than a sports bar.  We sure did!

So, we left Cooperstown and headed to Amherst, Mass. to visit UMASS.  My brother is going to be a senior in high school in the fall, so it’s time to look at colleges.  We got lost some more, but finally found our way to the B&B.  It was a little different from the first one (bigger place and it had a TV in the room!), so that was cool.  We went to an Italian place in downtown Amherst for dinner, and it’s a cute town.    Not as much charm as Chapel Hill, NC (which we visited a few years ago), but still nice.  We went to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream after dinner and my parents chatted with the sales girl who had just graduated from high school.

We went to the information session and tour on Wednesday.  Yes, it was raining AGAIN!!!  It was pretty interesting, I guess.  I’m just along for the ride, and my parents talk about it all the time, but I’m sure it will be the same for me in 5 or 6 years.  Can’t wait (not).

That afternoon was the big US vs. Spain soccer game (which somehow the US won!), so my brother and dad stayed at (yet another) sports bar where we had lunch to watch it.  My mom and I went to check out this huge yarn store in Northampton called WEBS.  It was humungous and the bathrooms were weird.  Maybe the yarn my mom bought for me will actually be a sweater I can wear *this* year.  We’ll see…

We headed to visit my mom’s friend Kim (Jim Rice’s cousin) and her family on Thursday.  More “misadventures in navigation” but we made it there in pretty good time.  This was the day Michael Jackson died, so that became the center of the conversation and most of the TV watching.  My parents were trying to explain what huge stars Farrah Fawcett (who also died that day) and Michael Jackson had been. Kind of freaky that they died the same day.

Anyway, Kim bought lobster for our dinner,  and my mom made grilled corn and insalata caprese (my favorite summer salad).  I’m not that into lobster, but everyone else is, so I just went along with it.  It was nice to sit out on their deck and to hang out with them.  We only see them every few years but my mom has known Kim forever, so it’s easy to jump back into things.

We left for New York (or tried to) on Friday.  The weekend deserves it’s own  post…

School ended a couple of weeks ago, and we headed back East for my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.

We arrived late on a Thursday night, but my mom had been there for a few days without us, so she was able to pick up some yummy dinner food from Salumeria Rosi, which has the best proscuitto ($100/pound!) and a bunch of other things.   It was a really, really rainy day, and she got soaked getting all the food.  Luckily, it was so worth it.  She also got some burrata (yum)  at Obika which is a lot closer to my grandparents’ apartment than Salumeria Rosi!  We really appreciated what she went through to get it for us.

On Friday, we headed down to New Jersey and checked into our hotel.  I guess my mom didn’t remember that she had already made one reservation for all of us, so she actually had made another!  The rooms were already paid for, so Andrew (my brother) and I got our own room which was really nice.  My grandparents and my Auntie Andy were also there, so that was fun.  On Friday night, my aunt and uncle had everyone (many parts of the family) over to their house for a buffet dinner before the Shabbat service.  It was finally not raining and not too hot, so we sat out in their beautiful backyard.  There were some very funny moments involving my grandfather not remembering what his first wife looked like, and a non-family member revealing a little too much about her past after she’d had a few drinks.  It was really fun, though, and a nice casual dinner.

After the Bar Mitzvah service (which was nice, but pretty much like my brother’s), the lunch was super–good.  Lots of choices and pretty fancy stuff.  By the time we left, it was pouring (again), so there was no chance to go swimming.  Why did I bother bringing my bathing suit during the rainiest June on record?!  My brother and I watched a movie in the room.

The evening party was very, very lavish.  It was at their beach club, and it was in two huge tents.  There was a DJ and games and a cariciature artist and more stuff that I can’t even remember.  I didn’t really talk to anyone which made it kind of boring.  We were all really tired, so we didn’t stay too late.

On Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and went to my aunt and uncle’s house.  It was STILL RAINING so we had a low-key day at their house.  It was nice to just hang out and do nothing with them.  We hardly see them.   My uncle made some steaks for dinner which were only okay.  They had been frozen and whole grill-partially-defrosted-meat thing didn’t work out too well.  We didn’t really care because it was just fun to be with them.

To be continued…

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to one of the most famous restaurants in the nation. My family and I went to Chez Panisse.

We were going there to celebrate my parent’s twentieth anniversary. Unfortunately, my brother wasn’t feeling well so  he didn’t come with us.  We left enough time for us to got to Berkeley Bowl and to get to our reservation on time. We had TERRIBLE traffic and took us around two hours for a usual 45 minute trip. We ended up getting to the restaurant right on time.

Because my taste buds are not “fully developed”, we decided to eat in the upstairs cafe and not the restaurant, where there is only one, pre-determined menu. After my mom and I went to the EXTREMELY small bathroom, we walked by the bar where they had all the fresh ingredients laid out for the chefs to use.  I was getting hungry already!

For the first course we shared small pizza with black trumpet mushrooms and gremolata and a garden lettuce salad with baked Andante Dairy goat cheese.  They were very different from each other and both were delicious.  My main course was a celebration of spring – a house-made pasta with Tomales Bay clams, green garlic and peas.  Dee-lish.  We weren’t done yet!  Our dessert was a bittersweet chocolate pave’ with burnt caramel ice cream.  Also wonderful.

Chez Panisse really is a great restaurant.  My parents said the service wasn’t as good as the last time they had been there, but I didn’t know any better, so I loved it.  I can’t wait to go back some day.