NYC eating

We made our second visit to the revamped Union Square Cafe in NYC recently.  I’ve now confirmed that it is my favorite restaurant of all time.  The best way to describe it is simple, comfortable elegance.  Even though it’s an expensive, fine dining establishment, I always feel welcome and everyone who works there is dedicated to ensuring that the patrons have a great time.

We were lucky enough to snag a table on the second floor this time.  We started out sharing the beef carpaccio appetizer.  It was served with crostini, and it was delicious.  Sourdough bread was complimentary (also delicious).

FE had the frascatelli, which had guanciale, peas, and black pepper cream.  He enjoyed it.  I had the ricotta gnocchi.  Gnocchi can be tough to get at a restaurant, but here it’s always on point.  This time was no exception.  The gnocchi were light and fluffy, and the sauce was the perfect amount.  Ironically, it was topped with pecorino cheese, which I usually hate, but on this it works.

The finale was of course, dessert.  I can’t go to this restaurant and not get dessert.  This was my last dessert before I embarked on my #nodessert challenge (I’m now on day 15 of 30).  FE had the chocolate espresso cake, and I had the chocolate pecan tart.  Both desserts were phenomenal!  The tart had the edge for me, because of the simplicity of the chocolate mousse paired with the crunch of the crust and pecans.

I can’t wait to return, but not until I finish day 30!

NYC eating

So many random thoughts #dragonstone

My mind is all over the place today for a lot of reasons, one of which is that I stayed up past my bedtime to watch the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere (so worth it!).  I’ll leave the detailed recap to the rest and just give you my randos:

1.I am still bored of Arya’s storyline.  I know, it’s crazy, she’s a cool child assassin and all, but it took too long to come to fruition and frankly, I don’t give a crap about the Freys.

2.I couldn’t see anything in man-bun’s fire?  Was I supposed to?  Is it a hoax?  Does my failure to see it simply confirm my atheism?

3.Speaking of which, did someone bring The Hound back to life?  I just presumed he recovered after his fight with Brienne.  However, I think I missed something because they referenced him being resurrected last night.

4.Was Dragonstone this cool when Stannis lived there?  I seem to recall that most of those scenes were shot at night, and he never sat on that cool dragon throne.  Perhaps the Lord of Light frowns on such indulgences.

5.It seems obvious that Arya will be the one to kill Cersei so I’m going with Jaime.  I suspect she’ll plot something truly evil that will threaten ordinary citizens (a la the mad king) and history will repeat itself.

6.I need Brienne and Tormund to get together.  That is all.

7.Who is kissing Yara in the scene’s for next week?  It looked like Jon Snow but I can’t imagine that’s true.

8.Euron’s new look is very American Idol contestant, season one.  I loved the leather jacket though.  I think he’s planning to bring back Tyrion as a hostage.  Perhaps that’s where theory #5 comes in.

9.Sam Tarly is so boring.  I love books and libraries, but he and his storyline are so dull.  Please shortcut his scenes, D & D.

10.Wondering how and when Lady Olenna and the Sand Snakes will make an appearance?

 

So many random thoughts #dragonstone

Miami eating…

Fellow eater and I spent some time in Miami recently and had a great time eating, especially since it was raining and/or overcast most of the time.  No complaints here though as we still had a culinary blast.

We had lunch at Stephen Starr’s “Le Zoo” in the Bal Harbour Shops for the first time.  FE had the burger and fries, and I had the crab and avocado salad.  Both were delicious.  I’ve noticed in the past that the portion sizes in Bal Harbour and its environs are smaller, and Le Zoo was no exception.  The portions are designed for the “ladies who lunch” crowd and the exceptionally thin people who reside in South Florida.  So order accordingly!

We had dinner at another Starr location, “Upland”.  We’ve been to the NYC location (see prior post) and the menus are similar.  I personally thought the food was better at the NYC location, mainly because the dessert I had was not available at the Miami location (chocolate budino).  This meal was still very good.  We decided to order two pastas each.  I had the bucatini cacio e pepe, which I also had at the NYC location, and we both had the rigatoni bolognese.  FE also had the sausage and kale pasta.  All of the dishes were excellent.  I’m giving a slight edge to the NYC location since that bucatini had more pepper on it, which I love.  I had the chocolate mousse for dessert, which was just ok.

We had lunch at yet another Starr location, “Steak 954”, which is in Fort Lauderdale.  This was a repeat visit for us and did not disappoint.  We sat outside on the covered patio even though it was pouring rain.  No matter.  FE had the grouper sandwich, and I had the grilled chicken sandwich.  Both very good.  Dessert was ice cream at Hoffman’s on Las Olas in FL, which was definitely my favorite dessert this trip.  I had the stellar coffee with calypso chocolate, and FE had a chocolate milkshake.

We had dinner at “Zuma” in Brickell, which is another repeat visit.  Zuma never disappoints.  FE and I shared the rock shrimp, spicy beef tenderloin, sushi, and grilled scallops.  The sushi was my favorite dish of the week (FE agreed).

We had two lunches at “The Grill” at Bal Harbour, both of which were excellent.  The Grill is located on the second floor of the Bal Harbour Shops, with a lovely view of palm trees and Collins Avenue.  FE had the french dip sandwich and the caesar salad with chicken.  I had the veggie club sandwich with chicken and the seared ahi tuna salad.  We shared the warm bread plate and dip duo for appetizers.  These were probably our favorite lunches on this trip.  The Grill does everything right, from service to food quality.

I’m looking forward to returning to South Florida soon to revisit the above, and to check out some new places.  Happy eating!

Miami eating…

What I’ve been reading…

I just finished a really interesting book by Hanna Rosin called “The End of Men and the Rise of Women”.  I know, I know, but it’s not what it sounds like.  I’m not a feminazi and it’s not a feminazi book.  Trust me, I did my best to hide the cover while I was on the train lest others judge me.

Rather than a feminist manifesto, Ms. Rosin makes a pretty convincing case in the book that men are falling behind women in terms of economic progress because of their failure to adapt.  In other words, when women flooded the workplace decades ago, they adapted themselves to perform in new arenas and in new roles, both at home and in the workplace.  Conversely, men failed to retool themselves to fit into this new space.  The majority of men couldn’t cope with the feminization of the workplace and instead of fitting themselves into it, they stuck to the old way of doing things.  Thus, they’ve been left behind.

Employers now look for what are called “soft skills” such as interpersonal relations and teamwork, skills which are intrinsically female.  Ms. Rosin argues that men have the capacity to embrace these skills as well, but they are resistant to do so.  Again, they get left behind.

I’m definitely oversimplifying the arguments but this is the gist of them.  The book is a fascinating sociological study over time of how we’ve gotten to this moment, both in domesticity and in the workplace.

I saw Ms. Rosin on Bill Maher’s show, which peaked my interest in her book.  Interestingly, the book was written in 2012 so it’s already a few years old, but still so many of her ideas are playing out today.  There’s no better evidence of her theory than the rise of Trump and his supporters.

What I’ve been reading…

My thoughts on “The Keepers” [spoiler alert]

I finished watching “The Keepers” on Netflix last weekend.  I wanted to take this week to gather my thoughts on the series before posting this piece.

I didn’t know much about the show before I started it, except that it involved the unsolved murder of a nun in Baltimore and may have had a sexual abuse component.  I had no idea it involved such rampant abuse of students at the high school that would serve as such a critical part of the series.

The second episode where Jean detailed her abuse at the hands of the priests, and other adults, was truly horrifying.  There is no doubt in my mind she was telling the truth and I could barely contain my rage throughout the remainder of the series.

My first question was, shouldn’t the church and its administrators have been the first people insisting that the murderer(s) of Sister Cathy Cesnik be found by the police?  I found that mind-boggling.  I would expect that the church would have had volunteers out searching for her when she was missing, then out looking for clues once she was found.  Instead, it was crickets from the church.  Not even a reward!

My second question was, why didn’t Jean or any of the other students tell a parent or another adult about the abuse?  I can’t imagine being a parent and not questioning why my son or daughter was spending so much time away from the classroom and with a priest.  However, I imagine based on my own grade school brainwashing at a catholic school that no one would have believed that a “holy man” would be capable of such grotesque behavior.  That likely explains why it was never questioned by Jean, or by any of the adults in her life.

My third question was, what role, if any, did Edgar and Billy (and others?) play in Cathy’s murder?  The series didn’t make clear what relationship any of those people had with Mackell, if any.  When the series got to that episode, I’ll admit I got a bit lost.

My fourth question was, how was Joyce Malecki’s murder connected to Cathy’s murder?  I initially thought that perhaps the priest had Joyce killed a few days after Cathy disappeared in order to distract authorities from her disappearance.  However, the series never developed that connection, probably because the government still hasn’t released any information about Joyce’s case to her family.

My fifth question was, who is Brother Bob?  I suspect it’s Mackell’s brother Bob, who was a police officer.  Just a guess.

My working theory is that Mackell had Edgar and his crew kill Cathy because he knew she was going to uncover his abuse.  He then had Joyce killed either because she also knew too much, or simply to distract attention away from Cathy’s disappearance.

The bottom line is that the church allowed this behavior to go on even though it knew about it because let’s face it, the church needs customers to exist.  The church saw its future with a dwindling congregation, which means dwindling funds.  It couldn’t afford to lose either existing customers or new customers, so it had to accept such behavior and keep it under wraps.  If the church admitted it had a pervasive problem, it would have ceased to exist.  And the church couldn’t have that, since it is a business above all else.  And that tacit approval of such abhorrent behavior resulted in continued sexual and physical abuse, and an overall feeling that priests and others in authority within the church could operate without consequences.

My true hope is that everyone watches this series so that it opens more eyes to these truths.  I saw the truth as a child many years ago, and this series only confirmed what I already knew.  I also hope that both the Malecki and Czesnik families, as well as all of the victims of Mackell, get justice.

My thoughts on “The Keepers” [spoiler alert]

What I’ve been watching…

Bosch Season 3 (Amazon Prime) – I’m only about halfway through but so far, this season is great.  I’m also starting the Bosch books from the beginning, though I think I read some of them back in the 90s.  This season is supposed to be a combination of two of the early books.  There’s a lot going on – a serial killer in Koreatown, the murder of a Vietnam vet, the murder of a young woman, and the murder of one of Bosch’s former nemesis.

My favorite characters are still J. Edgar and Irving, probably because they were both on The Wire.

Gomorrah Season 2 (Sundance, Wednesdays) – Sundance just aired the first four episodes of season 2 these past 2 weeks.  That means there’s only 4 weeks left, which makes me want to savor every single second of this delectable show.

I didn’t watch the Sopranos, but the consensus on twitter is that Gomorrah makes that show look like The Brady Bunch.  Spoiler alert!  Ciro killed his own wife, and the show then killed off my favorite character, Salvatore Conti, by slitting his throat in a church.  Great stuff, but I wish Conti was still alive.  I loved the religious imagery in his apartment juxtaposed with his brutality.  He will be missed!

Louis C.K. Seasons 1 – 4 (Netflix) – So how did I not start watching this guy until now?  He is hilarious!  He’s like a raunchy Seinfeld.  I’m now on season 4 which is getting super serious.  I don’t love the storyline with the foreign woman so hopefully that’s done for good.  I can’t wait to watch his comedy specials when I finish the show.  I also loved seeing Allan Havey in one of the episodes.

Billions Season 2 (Showtime, Sundays) – I think this season is better than the first, which is saying a lot.  The penultimate episode this week was terrific.  I totally didn’t see that twist coming, which is a sure sign of great writing.  I hate the fact that Rhoades won this round, especially since poor Ira was a pawn and the ultimate loser in his little game.  And Rhoades is a sucker if the thinks that Axelrod won’t crush him when it counts.  We’ll see.

Better Call Saul Season 3 (AMC, Mondays) – I’m not sure where they’re going this season but I can’t wait to find out.  I wonder if they’ll get to the part where Mike does start working for Fring?

What I’ve been watching…

DC Eating

I had a chance to check out two new restaurants in DC recently.  Both are offshoots of Philly restaurants so I was curious to give them a try.

First up was Pizzeria Vetri on 14th Street in the U Street area.  FE, Art Vandelay, and I headed over for lunch.  The menu is small and concise.  Art and I split the large margherita pizza, which is served on a long, elevated tray.  FE had a personal pizza, half sausage and half pepperoni.  The pizza was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.  The sauce was tangy, the crust was crunchy yet soft, and the pizza itself was cooked perfectly.

Next up was brunch at Le Diplomate.  This is the brainchild of Stephen Starr, and I guess it’s a sister restaurant to Parc in Philly.  I’ve been trying to have brunch here for some time, but it’s impossible to get a reservation.  They do reserve a number of tables for walk-ins, so we lined up at 9:30 am when the place opened.  We were seated right away and every seat was filled.

The food and service were excellent.  FE and I had the spinach and gruyere omelet.  I’m not a big fan of omelets, but this one was superb.  It was served with potatoes and various French breads.  Art had the zucchini frittata which he enjoyed.  He also raved about the fresh OJ.

I’m hoping to try All-Purpose Pizzeria on our next visit, and I’ll definitely be heading over to Pizzeria Vetri in Philly soon.  Happy eating!

p.s. I am on day 22 of my no dessert/sweets challenge so I didn’t have dessert on this trip.  We’ll see how much longer I can go.  There’s a Stock’s pound cake at work calling my name so it can’t be too much longer.

DC Eating