Sunday, October 24, 2010

Retiring a neighborhood favorite

There are tons of bars and restaurants in my neighborhood of Fort Greene, but unfortunately, not many of them are inexpensive. Since Kurt and I are big cheapos, we've gotten hooked on Habana Outpost. They have great Cuban food and practice a lot of sustainable techniques (solar power, rain water collection, super recycling and composting, and educating the community). Plus, they're food is reasonably priced and their beers (Six Point which is brewed locally in Red Hook) are dirt cheap.

Sadly, they only operate this location about six months of the year. They open on Earth Day in late April and close on Halloween every year. We had to get one last visit in before the 31st!

We'll say the decor is...eclectic.

They have a small indoor seating area where you place your order, but the main appeal of the restaurant is their huge outdoor patio. Your food is made in a truck parked outside. On the weekends they have a DJ and you can make your own margaritas with their bike powered blender. It's a great neighborhood staple and I will miss it during the long, cold winter!

I always order the same exact thing when I go. I did an unofficial Cuban sandwich tour of NYC and Habana Outpost's entry won hands down. I can't get enough of it. Kurt generally gets a chicken burrito but mixes it up more often than I do. Whatever he orders, he pours an entire bottle of green hot sauce all over it. He likes his food to be painfully spicy. He's such a glutton for this pepper punishment that he has to get a side of sour cream with his order. He practically drinks it after he finishes his meal. I tried to catch this in action, but the picture turned out really blurry. (Oh, and those cups of beer are biodegradable!)

Regardless, I will miss you, Habana Outpost! Earth Day 2011 can't get here soon enough!

My weekend

While parts of my weekend were spent falling asleep on Kurt's couch, I was also able to squeeze in a few interesting events:

Saturday was the big football match-up between #4 Auburn and #6 LSU. We watched at the Auburn bar here in NYC called 515 Bar. There is a string of college bars along 3rd Ave in Manhattan (although the Ohio State bar is curiously in Time Square) which have connected themselves with certain college and pro teams. Any given football Saturday (and other days for those other sports) you will see fans emblazoned with their team shirts strolling around Murray Hill as if they just left the stadium. It's a great way to get together with fellow fans. I never knew there were so many Auburn Tigers in the city!

Luckily we came out with the win! It was a really great game and Auburn has now moved up to #3 #1(omg!)! I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I don't know what I would do if we go to the National Championship game! I jokingly told Kurt I would go to the game if we make it that far. He will probably hold me to that claim. Well, I've never been to Arizona...

After a full day of football on Saturday, Kurt took me to a nice Sunday brunch. We rode our bikes over to Saraghina in Bed-Stuy. We came across it several weeks ago when I went to have my first meet-and-greet with Aubie Cat and decided we should go back.

I love the aesthetic of the place, a little industrial, a little like a rustic farmhouse, and mainly white with piecemeal decorations.

The backyard space is great. Luckily it was a really warm day, so we were able to enjoy it without being too bundled up. Unfortunately, it turned into baby central while we were there and tons of kids enjoyed the backyard too. They also have a resident cat that strolls around the tables, greeting all the patrons, requesting donations.

The owners and staff are Italian, so Kurt was excited to speak with them a little bit. We also eyed everyone's delicious looking pizzas as we made our way to the back yard. Instead of typical brunch food, we split a pie and salad. Our pizza was topped with artichokes and a spicy sliced meat. The cheese was really good and the crust was fluffy but still thin. Delicious!

Kurt and I also had a lovely Sunday dinner in Fort Greene, but I thought it deserved its own post!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Passports ready...we're heading to the South!

Woo hoo! Kurt and I finally booked our flights to see the Georgia Bulldogs take on my beloved Auburn Tigers on November 14th! The game is in Auburn this year and (somewhat) conveniently coincides with a friend's wedding in Pensacola, Florida on Sunday. It's going to be quite a trip!

Our long journey begins on Thursday evening when we fly into Nashville. My parents have agreed to pick us up, and we will spend the night in Ardmore. I haven't been home since another wedding in April, so Kurt and I are going to hang out with my parents on Friday. I've been trying to brainstorm all the fun things we can do in Huntsville!  So far, I've come up with the Space and Rocket Center, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, and Constitution Village (where my mom used to work...period costume and all!). I doubt any of those things will happen. Hopefully we will just tool around Downtown Hunstville and Big Spring Park. I'm looking forward to a couple nice (and free!) meals with my folks and seeing all the improvements they've been doing on the house since they've been kid-free!

The means are unclear, but sometime Friday evening, Kurt and I are being transported to Birmingham. We may catch a ride with Jen's sister Sarah and fiancĂ© Greg or my parents may take us. We'll be crashing at Casa Hale so we can be ready bright and early Saturday morning to head down to Auburn! I'm hoping the game is later in the day, so we can have a full day of tailgating (I hope Kurt will take notes and report back to Columbus!) and visiting with old friends. I also want to try and show Kurt some of campus and the town before the game. I haven't been back since graduation...I'm afraid I won't recognize the place!

Sunday morning, Kurt and I will be hitching a ride (thanks, Jess!) to the Gulf Coast (it will be so hard to come back to blustery New York after seeing the Florida beach!). Courtney, my former NYC cohort, is getting hitched that afternoon. She met her soon-to-be-husband at Auburn and they did the long distance thing between New York and Alabama for a while. I'm looking forward to briefly getting to know her guy, catching up with Courtney, seeing some old friends, and, of course, enjoying a wedding! I'm sure Kurt will be bored to tears (at least it isn't interfering with a football Saturday!) but it should be a good time. I'm not sure about the alcohol and dancing situation, but I don't foresee this being an all night party type of wedding. Good thing, because Kurt and I have to catch a flight from Pensacola back to NYC that night. Since we are taking the entire Friday off to visit with my parents, we did some itinerary acrobatics to get back to our city in time for work on Monday. I'm exhausted just thinking about all the running around already!

This will be Kurt's first Auburn game, so I really hope we can beat Georgia (shouldn't be too hard since we are currently ranked #4! Woo hoo!) but how adorable is their mascot Uga?! What number are they on now? Nova will eat him for breakfast but I still think he is a super cute wrinkly mess :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Off

This past Sunday, Jenn was kind enough to organize a pumpkin cook-off on the sidewalk in front of 731. It was a follow up to last years' Mac-n-Cheese Off of which yours truly was the reigning champion (I won with a strange concoction of "Dessert Macaroni and Cheese"). The range for the pumpkin off was a little wider since the only rule was the recipe had to include pumpkin in some way. If you didn't cook something, you were requested to supply some beer (preferably flavored with our favorite gourd) to complete our little neighborhood block party.

Check out the spread! We had tons of delicious food. I was really impressed how enthusiastically people participated. We had a nice balance of sweet and savory items which everyone sampled and prepared to vote later in the evening. I apologize that I didn't get photos of all the entries. I got distracted by eating! Some highlights:

Ubiquitous candy corn. Disqualified for lack of pumpkin content. Sorry, Stephen. We devoured them anyway. It's not Halloween without candy corn!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with a vanilla/coconut icing lovingly prepared by the nicest Australians you will ever meet (come to find out, they call cookies biscuits in Australia).

Pumpkin Cornmeal Biscuits (which the Aussies call scones) made by moi. I had never made them before and was a little disappointed that they didn't taste pumpkin-y. Slathering them in Trader Joe's pumpkin butter helped a bit, but I definitely didn't win any blue ribbons with these. I happily passed the crown onto the next cook off winners. Find the recipe here

The sweet category winner! Jenn made a yummy and beautiful Pumpkin Trifle. Does that make anyone else think of Rachel's trifle from Friends? Jenn's version definitely did not taste like feet.

The savory category winner! Stephanie made a to-die-for Pumpkin Pasta with Sage which sounds insanely simple. I will post the recipe stat once I obtain it.

Update: Find the recipe here. I know what I'm making for dinner tonight :)

Mmmm. Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon. Kristin knows her audience. That bourbon gets you a long way with this crowd.

Personally I give Majo the award for best presentation. She made a Pumpkin Soup which she served in the pumpkin!! I'm jealous of her Martha Stewart tendencies.

Remember these little guys?! They are all grown up and made the trip from Ohio to the Big Apple. Kurt's parents visited this weekend with a car full of goodies from the garden. I'm glad they were able to join in our pumpkin overload.

We all voted by secret ballot for our favorite sweet and savory picks. The winners got some awesome prizes :)

We were so busy stuffing our faces, only Silvia and Erik carved this pumpkin. I think he looks awesome! Brooklyn is in full fledged Halloween/Autumn spirit!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boots! Boots! Boots!

Most recent present to myself: new boots (I'm much too generous to myself sometimes, or, let's face it, most times). I finally broke down and bought this pair. I resisted succumbing to the convenience of this pair even though I walk by Aerosoles everyday. I'm attempting a crusade to be a hip New Yorker and those Mom boots would have taken me a step in the wrong direction. I got a huge box from Piperlime at work yesterday (I've never done more online shopping than when I moved to a city with any store you could ever imagine, go figure) and crafted my entire outfit around wearing my new purchase today. Sadly, the forecast is calling for rain, so I may be forced to change into my sneakers when I leave work (read: not so hip).

I often have a hard time finding boots thanks to my athletic calves (I spent the first 10 years of my life walking around on my tip-toes, dreaming of being a ballerina. I am convinced that is to blame for ample leg muscles). These boots are a little slouchy, so they fit there nicely. They have a baby heel which does not make an awful click-clack noise on the ground (a much abhorred feature of my retired pair). To me, they actually have a little bit of a pirate look to them, which is neither a good or bad thing. I've been so over my entire wardrobe lately; I'm hoping this new addition will inject some life into my attitude about my current clothes. Or maybe I will have to make some new additions to play into the pirate theme: off the shoulder dresses, puffy sleeves blouses, and maybe even a parrot.... At least my Halloween costume would be worked out!

I also ordered this pair from Piperlime. I like them a lot as well but they were a tad too tall for my vertically challenged legs and came over my knees (without being a design feature of the shoe)! Back in the box they go.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Flying the Coop

I feel like my apartment is one disaster after another these days. Back in July, we had the great cabinet collapse. A couple months later, our toilet decided to self-destruct, flooding our bathroom and sending a river of water to the second floor below and the restaurant on the ground floor. The effects of this incident are still present because I am seeing a little patch of mold starting to grow behind the toilet! Eww!

Within the past couple weeks, New York has been getting a lot of rain. Some other tenants in our building had a nice little set-up on our roof with tables and lights and apparently a carpet. When a big storm came through, it washed all this junk into the roof drain and clogged it. This caused water to back up on the roof. If I learned one technical thing in architecture school, it is that water will find a way to get where it wants. Its preferred route ended up being through our ceiling, namely our bathroom light fixture and smoke alarm. I don't claim to know much about electricity but always thought it and water did not mix well, so I was very freaked out. I also came home from work to an ear piercing siren coming from our apartment and neighbors glaring at me. Water and smoke detectors definitely do not mix and ours was completely freaking out. I had to rip it off the ceiling and call our landlord in a panic. They came and fixed things within the next couple days, and I thought everything was fine.

Last night we had another pretty big storm. It rained super hard (the kind where you ditch your umbrella and sprint for cover if you are unlucky enough to be outside) and we even got some hail. Lo and behold, water started coming through our bathroom light fixture again. And then our smoke detector went off again. When I ripped this one off the ceiling, a bucket of water came down with it. It was obvious the water had done its damage and the thing was not going to stop beeping, so I reluctantly had to deactivate the week old device. (Every time I have to deal with this stupid smoke alarm, which also includes any time I use our oven, I have flashbacks to this Friends episode.)

Once I calmed down a bit, I immediately started looking on Craigslist for new apartments. Our bad luck is getting ridiculous. I don't think I can break my lease unless things get really bad, but I have been dreaming of living on my own for a while.

I shouldn't really be browsing and geting my hopes up, but I found this one and couldn't help but dream of all the cute things I could do with it! It's in Clinton Hill but the ad was very vague about the exact location, so I am skeptical, especially since it is affordable. I really love my current location but am going to continue planning my exodus. Aubie and I just need a safe and dry place to live!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Met Roof Top

Thanks to good old Christopher Columbus, I had the day off from work, completing my fabulous four day weekend. Jenn suggested we take advantage of the day and do something cultural. I had some errands I wanted to get done around Brooklyn, so I nixed a few of her more ambitious plans and we decided to check out this exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Apart from my MoMA excursion two weeks ago, I've been very lax about museum going. I live in this great city with countless museums and galleries but I often spend my time watching football and going to divey bars to drink cheap beer. While those are fine activities, I should take more advantage of what my city has to offer. Most museums have bars or cafes in them too, so that's a plus :)

I really enjoy the Met, but it has an overwhelming amount of art in it. Thankfully, it is a pay-what-you-wish admission, so it's not so painful to go back often and take in a little at a time. At least it is a good theory.

This woman was a piece of work herself. If you can't see, those leggings (which do not equal pants, people!) are pink and green cheetah print. Classy.

What we really came to see was this. Big BambĂș (please pardon Mr. White shirt and his twin with half a face...he was in my way!).

Unfortunately, we missed the ticket sale and all the tours to go up in the structure were sold out. That's right, you can climb up in it! Crazy!

Lovely view over Central Park from the Met roof where we were able to enjoy a nice Brooklyn beer. Have I mentioned I love New York?

Aubie Cat

Okay, maybe my cat doesn't hate me. We are slowly working through our issues. His "love bites" are becoming less frequent (or maybe I am learning how to keep him happy), and he is generally more pleasant. I stayed home on Friday after a long night out, and Aubie and I had some good bonding time. He is much more mellow during the day then when I normally see him in the evenings. Of course, he still had bursts of energy where he bolts around my small apartment and bounces off the walls, but those moments were also mixed with naps and helping me fold laundry.

He finally took to the second scratching post I bought him. We started with a version that hangs on a door knob, but Aubie continued to prefer digging his claws into our furniture. This new one is a Trader Joe's special and came with catnip. Aubie is slowly getting on board with my rules. He even likes to take naps on it. 

Sometimes Aubie still likes to scratch at our chair, so we might stick with aluminum foil therapy until he's totally sold on the scratching mat. Thanks for the tip, Jenn and Erin!

Update: This was the scene I walked into Saturday afternoon:

Aubie decided to destroy an entire roll of paper towels, shredding them into tiny pieces in my room and the kitchen. He also seems to be the only cat in the entire world who does not hate the sound of aluminum foil which I thought was a brilliant scratch deterrent on our couch. Let's just say we are still working through a few issues...

Saturday, October 9, 2010


After our little love fest with Mario Batali a couple weeks ago, Kurt and I finally made it to his new grocery store, Eataly, for a later Friday afternoon lunch. Beforehand, Kurt was skeptical about the store and thought it would be a cheesy, Americanized version of an Italian market. He was actually impressed at how authentic some parts are. Of course, it was a bit pricey, but it might be nice to occasionally pop in and pretend I'm back in Italia!

 They have an extensive beer section.



There are several restaurant zones spread throughout the store, but even in the mid-afternoon, the place was pretty packed. We talked to some employees and they suggested we try the pizza to go. It was a little section of the store tucked out of the way and no one knew about it! We ordered a pie and took it across the street near Madison Square Park. It was a lovely October day to sit outside!

Enjoying delicious pizza while gazing at the Flatiron Building isn't a poor way to spend the afternoon. These are reasons I love New York City!

Our authentic Italian experience at Eataly would  not be complete without gelato (pear and vanilla) and espresso at the end of our meal. 

Ciao grazie!
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