Sunday, July 29, 2012


I keep meaning to blog about my time in Istanbul, through a mini-series that talks about touristy things and the less-explored parts of Istanbul, but I am having difficulty balancing the prose and emotions that I feel with the practical, do-this/do-that aspects of writing a mini-guide. Even if one ignores the whiny, self-indulgent anecdotes in his book, Pamuk's descriptions of Istanbul still fail to capture the full extent of life and living in Istanbul, making me wonder if anyone is capable of harnessing that beast of a city to paper. In any case, my part-time slapdash bloggery isn't going to reach success, and attempting even a partial transcription has been a painstaking process, which is why it's delayed.

In the meantime, our friend Kenan has written a truly thoughtful mini-series of his own, exploring his relation to the city and the impact it had on us all: Remember that time in Istanbul...?

I highly recommend reading it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Best. Neighborhood. Ever.

I just found an apartment in Queens, and I am quite the happy camper. In addition to having several CSA options in our neighborhood (see if there's one near you!), Mexican food, and a gym that is literally 1/3 the price of the gyms I looked at in Manhattan, there is a Güllüoglu Baklava branch nearby.

I am currently writing a series of posts on Istanbul (coming soon!), and in there I will extol the virtues of my favoritest baklava in Istanbul. Any guesses as to what they're called??

Let's just say I am a happy happy camper.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: FIVES

The Ambiance
Sadly lacking. We arrived at 1pm, the peak lunch hour, and the restaurant was perhaps 1/3 full and far too cold.

The Food
I was immediately disappointed because the restaurant had not included a vegetarian option in the RW menu, although they had chosen sustainable cod and chicken for two of their entrees. We were given a bread basket full of barely re-heated bread rolls that although varied, were far too hard to eat. After giggling our way through a few difficult and tooth-damaging bites, we gave up and left the basket full.

For the entree we ordered the mozzarella and tomato ravioli and the white bean and truffle soup. Although the ravioli was tasty, they were a little too soft, as were all the vegetables and beans in the soup. The flavor of the truffle did not come through, likely because the mushroom pieces had been thrown in along with the rest of the vegetables and overcooked.

The entrees were the highlights of the meal. The chicken was supported by a ginger risotto and light salad, both of which were delicious and excellently prepared. The ginger flavor in the risotto came through, and the salad was accompanied by a light lemon dressing that didn't overpower the other flavors on the plate. The chicken, although plain, was tender and well-cooked.

Dessert was labelled as "Lithe Asian Passion Fruit Cheesecake", by which they apparently just meant "Cheesecake with Passion Fruit on Top". It was boring, and instead of a cheesecake crust they had thrown two tiny crust croutons on top of the cheesecake square. Neither the passion fruit nor the cheesecake flavors came through, and the sorbet tasted like they had used artificial flavoring. The espresso was possibly the worst espresso I've ever had.

Rating: 3/10
Ultimately, for a restaurant that charges $9 for an espresso, the meal was profoundly disappointing and the empty dining room was confirmation that their lackluster performance was not just a RW fluke, but rather an ongoing issue. If you unwittingly find yourself dining at FIVES, stick to the entrees and find a nice cafe or bakery nearby to enjoy an after-meal dessert and coffee.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Fig & Olive Restaurant

It's Restaurant Week in New York (a misnomer since the thing lasts nearly three weeks!), and that means: restaurant reviews!!

First off, Fig & Olive Restaurant on Fifth.

The Ambiance
The restaurant is surprisingly huge, with an entire second floor dedicated to diners, but was still hopping around lunchtime on a Thursday. Thankfully we had made reservations and were immediately whisked upstairs. The service felt a little forced, as the host downstairs alerted the hostess upstairs to our arrival, who introduced us to our server, who primarily took orders and checked in while another team of actual servers came by to serve our food. It seemed as if the logistics and effort were extremely difficult, while I suspect their actual intention was to appear like a well-oiled and effective machine...despite this, a nice lively atmosphere for a lunchtime meal.

The Food
Before we ordered we were given a three-plate olive oil tasting, which was quite good. All three oils (from Chile, Greece, and California) were very, very good.

Going with the RW Prix fixe menu I ordered the mushroom croquettes, the pesto spaghetti without shrimp, and the chocolate creme pot. My colleague ordered the gazpacho, pesto spaghetti with shrimp, and strawberry crisps.

The mushroom croquettes were absolutely delicious, fried and served with a creamy mushroom sauce, although I had enough after the first three (there were six).

The spaghetti was completely boring. A well-made pesto, varied slightly with the addition of other herbs to the basil, but ultimately not worth their regular lunchtime prices.

The dessert was mixed. My chocolate dessert was completely boring and could have been rivaled by a store-bought chocolate pudding, although it came with some hazelnut crisp-like thing that was absolutely delicious. I also had a good espresso with my dessert. The strawberry crisps, on the other hand, were outstanding. Fresh slices of strawberry served on a thin shortbread cracker with a drizzle of balsamic made this the highlight of the entire meal.

Rating: 6/10
All in all the lively atmosphere made it worth going with friends and all the dishes were good and high-quality, if somewhat ordinary. Next time I will have to try the more unusual dishes to see if the restaurant really brings anything new to the table.

10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Between 5th & Madison Ave.
10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Between 5th & Madison Ave.
10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Between 5th & Madison Ave.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Even hats

Everything is bigger and better in New York:

Pain. Just Pain.

Kickboxing kicked my butt yesterday. Seriously considering calling sick into work today because I'm not sure my poor body can handled the five flights of stairs down to the street...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Concert in the Park

Jazz in the Garden, where you sit in the sculpture garden and listen to live jazz while drinking sangria and having a picnic, was one of my favorite activities in D.C. and I was very sad to leave it behind when I moved to New York. I was pleasantly surprised then when my co-worker invited me to Concerts in the Park at Central Park, where the New York Philharmonic was performing.

The performance was beautiful, and it was different from Jazz in the Garden in two truly remarkable ways:
1. Everyone was actually quiet so they could listen to the music, and
2. There were fireworks!!!

Take note, D.C., take note...

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4,
Respighi's Fountains of Rome, and
Respighi's Pines of Rome

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ahhhh the sun in July is sooo....?

After a broiling hot morning, it is now thunder-storming and I kid you not, hailing. In one day I have moved through two seasonal cycles. All I need is some snow followed by a warm breeze and I've got a full year of weather in 24 hours.

Street Art

My first street art discovery in New York happened in Union Square a few days ago, where this little guy (maybe six inches?) was reaching out to me on a rosebush:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Coffee Break

Who did I nod good morning to on my way to get coffee this morning? Oh yeah, Matt Lauer.

And in other news, it is incredibly difficult to find housing in New York.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Geek Girl!

While I was walking home today a girl was holding up a sign advertising a comic book and other nerdy stuff store. I've noticed in NY there are a lot of people holding signs pointing to particular stores: "Buy and seLL gold and SILBER!" or "Come to get your paycheck advance today!". But the comic store sign was unique, and it was being held by a girl who clearly knew about the merchandise they sold.

A stereotypical nerd guy (glasses, inappropriate and slightly uneven facial hair, and a nasally voice) had taken the opportunity to chat her up and seeing as she was paid to stay there, I considered her to be a captive audience. While I was walking by I overheard his analysis of the latest Marvel creation and her quiet "mmm hmmm." I can't really know their relationship and perhaps they already knew each other, but I would like to imagine that they just met for the first time and his detailed knowledge of her favorite comic book with the intricate but sensitive assessment of some superhero's superability perked her interest enough to go to coffee with him later. Who knows, maybe they're already talking about their second date.


When I was 13, I visited New York for the first time. And part of our tour included getting up bright and early (by my standards!) to hang around the Today show and hope we got on television. I remember people in our group freaking out as Al Roker walked around, and after a performance from the cast of Les Miserable, we left to continue the rest of our day. I was incapable of realizing then the full circle my life would come.

So you can imagine my surprise I walked to work for the first time today, only to find myself standing in front of the Today show as Al Roker walked around shaking hands. Over a decade later and the man was still there, doing his thing. And I had gone from an obnoxious junior high student to an employee - in his building.

That's right ladies and gentlemen. My office is a few floors above the Today Show and every morning I shall start my work day with a glimpse of Al Roker, and on some mornings (like today), Matt Lauer. I literally could not not stop grinning like a maniac for half an hour because I felt so utterly cool and New York-y.

I chatted up one of the security guards, too, and she said on Fridays they have concerts and she got to see Kanye and Justin Bieber in the last few weeks. Apparently people camp out on Thursday to see the performance on Friday. I won't be doing that because when I asked my coworkers about it, they said we can hear the concert from our office. Jealous yet?! I'm jealous of myself.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sleeping in the City

The whir of the unit AC, sirens, cars honking, and people yelling in the street accompanied my first night in the city. Check!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New York: First Day in the City

To Do List:
1. Carry suitcase up five flights of stairs. Check. (ok, so someone else did it for me. It was heavy, ok?!)
2. Eat bagel and cream cheese. Check.
3. Get creative with extra-small closet. Check. (Don't have my winter clothes here yet, that should be interesting...)

So this is it people. First day in New York City. And this time I've moved without a return ticket or a known timeline, which means I'm freaking out a little. Literally the first time I've signed on to something that has no known end-date and my friends are dispersed in other cities. Operation: Get Friends to Relocate to New York had already begun months ago, but chances of success appear slight to none, meaning I'm on my own until I make new friends here. Assessment: scary but with positive outlook.

And so it begins. Welcome to my new life.