Friday, December 30, 2011

skyline party

This is the third year I have joined Kurt at the Skyline Restoration holiday party

It is always held at the Greek restaurant, Kellari Taverna in midtown.

Thankfully, Erik was able to join the fun this year.

Doesn't Kurt look nice in a cardigan?! 

We had fun catching up with old friends and made some new ones! We even hit the dance floor! The Skyline Party is always a blast and the food is delicious. It is always a highlight of my holiday parties!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

beer book bar crawl: bed-stuy edition

Ticky tocky! The year is almost done and so is time to use our beer books!! Before we left Brooklyn for the holidays, we made a last ditch effort to use several coupons in Bed-Stuy. Kurt's brother, Erik, works for Grow NYC and conveniently had to drop off a box truck in the same neighborhood that evening, so Kurt and I (plus our bikes) hitched a ride. It's been unseasonably warm in NYC so far but decided to unexpectedly turned frigid this weekend. While riding my bike throughout the night, it was the first time I thought I might actually freeze to death. Brrrrr....makes me cold just remembering it. 

Our first stop was Project Parlor, 742 Myrtle Avenue, where we were joined by Jenn, Kristin, and Christian.

Next we stopped by Rustik Tavern, 471 Dekalb Avenue, and shared some snacks.

Kurt, Erik, Christian, and I continued on to Black Swan, 1048 Bedford Avenue. 

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[Hot Bird images via ultraclay]

Since it was on the bike ride home, Kurt, Erik, and I swung by Hot Bird, 546 Clinton Avenue, for a final drink. Thankfully, I didn't die from the cold, but I do think my bike has been retired until the spring. I'm crossing my fingers we can burn through a few more coupons before they expire! Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

holiday dinner party

Before everyone went their separate ways for the holidays, I decided I wanted to throw some sort of party. I rarely have people over to my apartment but decided it was high time to show it off, especially since I now have lots of seating! However, I wasn't quite ready to commit myself to a full dinner party or having tons of people in my tiny space for many hours. After reading a couple posts about progressive dinners (here and here), I decided it would be a perfect balance of fun without being too overwhelming for one long as I could convince some other friends to help out! 

As you can see from the invitation I made, we started with wine and cheese at my apartment. I felt a little like I took the easy way out, but since I live a little farther away from the other hosts, I think it was best to start there.

I thought Kurt (ahem, blog photographer) might have gotten a few more photos of my spread while I played host, but this was about all I could find. I had many cheeses, crackers, nuts and pretzels in a cute layout on my enormous table. I even tried something new and made a feta ball. It was yummy but definitely has some strong flavors. You've been warned.

As for wine, I was a big spender and got each variety of Trader Joe's Three Buck Chuck (minus the white zinfandel). In order to disguise my frugality and add a little decoration to the party, I made adhesive labels for all the wine bottles. Instead of thinking I was cheap, all my guests just thought I was crazy and have too much time on my hands. Sigh. In my defense, I blatantly stole the design from A House in the Hills (she offered it up for public use!). Regardless, I thought they were fun, albeit a tad overboard :)

Aubie had no idea what to do with so many people in our apartment. He's not one to hide under the bed though and was surprisingly social. 

Next, we made the hike to Chris and Pilar's apartment for appetizers. Pilar had to work until right before the party and left Chris in charge of all the cooking. He made mini baked potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, chicken and waffles, and deviled eggs. OMG, it was all delicious! I have to get his recipe for deviled eggs. I could have eaten a dozen on my own.

I wish we had gotten a close-up of Chris's bite size chicken and waffles. He used quartered frozen waffles as the base, topped them with a breaded chicken tender, and placed a single blackberry on top. So yummy and pretty!

Chris and Pilar are so festive with their Christmas tree!

Next, we made the short trek to Kurt and Erik's apartment. They were assisted by Jenn's roommate, Will, and tackled the evening's entree. Kurt and Will spent the majority of the day smoking a ton of meat. I'm not even sure what animals were involved, but they covered them in a delicious sauce and rub and we devoured every piece. Sides of veggies and rice rounded out our meal and helped feed our lone vegetarian (you really missed out on that meat, Michele!!).

Yum! You would think we would all be stuffed (almost!) but there is still one more stop left on the route.

Last but not least, we crossed the hall to Jenn's apartment for dessert. She single handedly tackled some roasted fruit and ice cream. If I trust dessert to anyone, it's Jenn, and she definitely did not disappoint. After truly reaching our food and drink limit, we settled into Jenn's living room for several intense rounds of Catch Phrase. 

I think the Progressive Dinner was quite a success! Thank you to everyone who hosted and all those who attended. I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

hurry back, sweet german

We have had the pleasure of getting to know Johanna from Germany the past several months. Kurt's brother Erik met her during his exchange program in Italy and she had been in NYC doing an internship at the Leo Baeck Institute.

Sadly, after already extending her stay longer than originally planned, she finally had to leave us and return to Germany to finish her thesis. Kurt, Erik, and I decided to take her for a going away dinner at Two Boots in Brooklyn.

Isn't Johanna adorable?! We always joked that she is the "worst German ever" because she is so sweet and soft spoken. She definitely doesn't fit our typical stereotype of rigidity and harshness. 

More proof, she got Kurt and Erik a gift to say thank you. When she first arrived in the states, we introduced her to pickle back shots, so she got them a bottle of bourbon and jar of pickles. She is too nice!

We are going to miss Johanna but she swears she loves NYC and is planning to return for good once she graduates. In March, she will be moving to Paris for several months for another internship type program. You better believe Kurt and I are already trying to figure out how to visit her. Paris in May?! Oui!! Si vous plait!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

merry merry

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and recovering from a present/food overload! These are the gifts I wrapped for my family. I don't think I will ever get tired of craft paper :) I also found some awesome free, printable gift tags here and here and tied them on with white raffia. Simple,simple!

Instead of writing a real post for you, I am fiddling with my new camera (!) and breaking in my new sneakers. I hope you got everything you asked Santa for as well!

Friday, December 23, 2011

work perks

Apart from finding lots of fun extra curricular free events to enjoy this holiday season, I have been having some fun outings at work. (Disclaimer: this post may make you hungry!)

My boss recently took my coworker and me out to lunch with the contractors working on our Upper West Side townhouse. Apparently this was nothing groundbreaking for the rest of the office, but I was super excited when I heard we were going to CraftBar. It is definitely a cut above the cheapie restaurants I frequent. And my boss was game for midday beer and wine! Score!

I guess we weren't spot on with the restaurant choice because our contractors are pretty devoutly Jewish and don't eat pork. It seemed like everything on the menu was ham/pork/bacon laden! On top of that, one of the guys doesn't eat cheese! Talk about limited options! Somehow we worked around it and everyone found a couple suitable dishes.

I had the Winesap Apple Salad (Radicchio, Gorgonzola Cremificato, Candied Pistachio, Aged Balsamic) for a starter and the Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta (Butternut Squash, Smoked Bacon, Sage, Spiced Crème Fraîche, Pepita) for my meal. It was all delicious. Mmmmmm....I've had dreams about that pasta.

Our contractors were a riot. Two beers (from a great beer list) and a few hours later, we all left stuffed. I surely didn't get much done the rest of the day. If someone else is taking you out for a nice dinner and footing the bill, I highly recommend CraftBar. Its fancy without being too snooty.

Another night, we had our annual office holiday party. We stopped work early and one boss brought her ten year old daughter into the office to bartend for us :) Well, not really...but she did serve us ice and Cheez-Its. After a couple makeshift gin and tonics, we walked to dinner at Empellón in the West Village.

We're a small office so we got a nice cozy booth by the window. The place has a million tequilas and mezcals, so I started off with a Bowie Knife (Cava, Siete Leguas Añejo, Buffalo Trace, Agave Nectar, Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters (I'm a sucker for cava...well, sparkling anything actually)). Then we proceeded to order way too much food.

We all shared but I ordered the Baked Pumpkin with Sikil Pak Queso Fundido (with pumpkin seeds, sour orange juice, habañero) for a starter and Hazelnut Fed Pork Loin with Braised Pinenut Tacos (I'm a big pork fan but the dish won me over because it reminded me if this hilarious video) for a meal. I've never pretended to act like I could be a vegetarian, but I am noticing that some if the most delicious dishes I have at restaurants are meat-free. I would go back to Empellón and order that pumpkin dish without even glancing at the menu. It was that delicious. Might have inspired a few dreams of its own.

Several tequila drinks later, we thought it would be a good idea to order every dessert on the menu. It was.  We had Chocolate Flan with Caramel, Cocoa-Masa Streusel and Cinnamon Ice Cream; Tres Leches with Fig and Goat’s Milk Ice Cream; Buñuelos with Cajeta and Warm Honey; and the Pumpkin Tart with Candied Pecans, Mezcal and Toasted Meringue. Phew. I gained a few pounds just typing that.

I didn't even try to glance at the check when my bosses paid. It must have been outrageous! I love the holidays! Thanks, PDA!

If all our decadent eating and drinking was not enough, one of our beyond lovely clients gave those of us on their project (lucky me!) beautiful cashmere scarves (in addition to hand delivering bonus checks to every one of the construction workers on site). They really are saints. Ridiculously wealthy saints :) I've never owned anything cashmere! I do hate winter but having something that luxurious to keep me warm makes it significantly better :)

The holidays are definitely in full swing! I hope you are enjoying them with your loved ones (and a yummy meal once and a while)!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

enya holiday party

Kurt and I recently attended the Emerging New York Architects Holiday Party at the Domus Design Collection Showroom. Unfortunately, they were only serving two varieties of absinthe cocktail. We both got a "mojito" but it wasn't very good :( While laboring through our drinks, we wandered around the showroom taking pictures.

Kurt doesn't take pictures quickly and I don't sit still, so this is the best one of me from this series. (2012 Resolution: Try not to look like a crazy person in photos.)

Really interesting art on the wall where the artist photographed the tags in clothing.

Maybe we are lame party goers or maybe the party wasn't that fun. Either way, we left after one (questionable) drink. When you are cheap and search out free events, I guess they can't all be winners. Thanks anyway, ENYA! I won't hold this one against you :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday cards

My holiday card history is varied. Some years I am really excited about them in October and actually manage to get them out. Other years, they seem to fall by the wayside once I remember how expensive mass mailing can be. This year I was a little on the fence until I received Laura's cute postcard in the mail. She inspired me to get moving and reassured me it was okay not to spend gobs of money on them. 

I found these cute mitten cards at Paper Source. I like them because they are inexpensive ($8 for pack of 10 cards and envelopes, plus buy 3 get the 4th free!). They aren't religious or even commercial Christmas themed, so if I don't manage to get them out by December 25th, they are still good all winter. Plus, they have really cute envelopes. Look out for one in your mailbox soon!

Speaking of the holidays, I am on my way home to Alabama today! (Please send some good travel karma my way!) I'm looking forward to reuniting with friends and family and generally just chilling out at a Southern pace. After I finish my Christmas shopping, that is! Eek! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

brooklyn beer tour

We're slowly pecking away at the beer book (like here) and decided to combine some drinking with cultural events on a recent Friday night.

Our first stop was Build it Green (where the GCC Winter Festival was held) for Brooklyn Green Drinks Holiday Party and a Crafted at the Canal Market.

Then we popped over to an exhibit opening at the Gowanus Studio Space.

Hmmmm, piles of potatoes with candles...I can't say I always "get" art.

Next up was a stop at our favorite Rocky Sullivan's in Red Hook. 

Since Red Hook is a little difficult to navigate on public transportation, we were braving the cold on our bikes. In between bar stops, we rode out to Valentino Pier for the view.

It's always nice and quiet there and you get a great view of Lady Liberty. See her off in the distance?

Our next stop was Chip Shop, a British themed bar and restaurant famous for their willingness to fry just about anything. We had British beers and curry fries while taking part in a rousing discussion on congestion pricing. We are a fun bunch :)

Our eyes were bigger than our....livers....this night and even though we had more bars to hit and coupons to use, we called it a night after the Chip Shop. This stuff is hard work!

Monday, December 19, 2011

hill country chicken

Our dear, sweet German friend, Johanna, will be returning to the motherland this week. Before she departs, we are trying to expose her to some undeniably American things. Kurt and I decided to take her to Hill Country Chicken near the Flatiron for some good fried chicken.

The interior is super retro and kitschy. The staff is really nice and friendly even at the mad lunch rush. One thing I missed out on was the fountain soda machine by Boylan. I'm a sucker for a good Diet Coke with ice, but have never seen a non-Coca Cola/Pepsi fountain machine. I must go back and try it!

The place was pretty crowded for lunch so we ended up in the extra seating area downstairs. It is outfitted like a rec room from the 60s, complete with wall paneling and board games.

I decided to try the chicken tenders with honey mustard, a biscuit, and pickles. Not quite Chick-fil-a but a reasonable substitute :) Also on my list to try is Hill Country (the original) for some good barbecue and mac and cheese!

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