Thursday, January 29, 2009

How I Got My New Rain Boots

Snow and sleet was predicted to fall Wednesday after midnight, so I wasn't surprised to wake up and find the roads and sidewalks a white, slushy mess. Lacking a pair of rain boots, I slipped on my one pair of non-tennis shoes that seem to be waterproof.

I walked the four blocks to the subway and waited until I descended the stairs to stop and retrieve my Metrocard from my purse. When I lifted my foot: trouble. The entire back of the sole had come loose from one of my shoes.

I couldn't very well return home, else I probably would have been late for work. In any case, I thought I could make it to work and then patch it up with some tape or glue before I came home and threw them away. Worst case scenario, I'd pick up a cheap pair of shoes during my lunch break.

I tried to move my foot as little as possible during my commute. People probably thought I had a bum leg since I tended to drag my foot instead of lifting it and making the sole come off even more.

The stairs were my downfall.

I have to climb a few dozen at the end of my commute. By the time I was across the street from my office, the sole was attached to the rest of the shoe by just an inch of leather. Or plastic. Or whatever the shoe was made out of. (Something cheap, evidently.) I nimbly walked through the puddles into the lobby without getting my foot wet.

I met a coworker saw my predicament. Luckily she happened to have a pair of tennis shoes in her office that happened to fit me quite well.

Needless to say, I bought a pair of olive rain boots during my lunch break.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Real Manhattan Brunch: Aquavit

Paul and I didn't exchange Christmas gifts last month. Instead, we decided to pool the money we normally would spend on each other and treat ourselves to a restaurant whose price tag we normally would shun.

Yesterday we finally made our "Christmas" outing: Sunday brunch at Aquavit. It's a midtown Manhattan restaurant specializing in Scandinavian cuisine that is frequently mentioned as one of the top restaurants in the city.

The brunch is a buffet (rare in New York City), so we really did get to try most of Aquavit's specialties.

I've heard of a meat coma (particularly after Paul entered a pork chop eating contest a few years back, but that's another story). After Aquavit, I had a herring hangover.

Mustard herring. Dill herring. Some type of soy-maple herring. Two dishes of gray herring. Unfortunately, the dishes weren't labeled.

There was fish at every corner. A few types of salmon. Even fish eggs perched atop deviled eggs, looking exactly like pomegranate seeds.

My favorite food? The gravlax. The restaurant recommends you try it, but since it too wasn't labeled, I hadn't been sure I had sampled it until I got home and googled some images.

It had a crust that was a cross between a pie and filo dough, topped with salmon and I think dill and several other ingredients.

I also especially like the cheeses, and of course I tried at least one of each of the bite-size desserts. Surprisingly, the Swedish meatballs weren't even as good as the ones made by Paul or his mom, although I did like the side of lingonberry sauce.

I'd also never been to a restaurant with service quite like this. Your dirty plate was cleared from the table when you returned to the buffet, of course. But on top of that, the servers also replaced your silverware and gave you a clean cloth napkin.

We were there about three hours, which seemed to be standard. I didn't see one table turn over the entire time.

On top of that, the meal came with a Danish beer (for me) or a Bloody Mary (Paul's choice). Overall, it was a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

It's nice to once again have a President who's a pleasure to listen to.

With today's inauguration scheduled for smack dab in the middle of the workday, I despaired of being able to watch Barack Obama's speech. Luckily my boss seem to be a huge Democrat and set up a TV in the middle of the office.

About 20 people or so gathered around the set for nearly an hour. There were a few comments, a few jokes at the beginning, but the office was silent as Obama spoke.

Inspiration! Coherence! It's something I'll have to get used to from the White House.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Igloo Outside, Sauna Inside

It's exactly 20 degrees outside, and our apartment is so hot that I have the living room window open.

I can't bear to wear long sleeve shirts inside the apartment, and I haven't used a blanket in the living room for weeks. I think I moved into a sauna.

Despite what this sounds like, I'm really not complaining. I'd much rather be a bit too hot than way too cold. Even so, I think I am becoming hardier when it comes to the winter weather.

I've only put on my hat a handful of times during my six-minute walk to the subway on weekday mornings. Friday was one of the coldest mornings so far, and the biting wind made my eyes tear up as I walked north. Even so, I shed my hat and gloves when I entered the subway station.

Before I moved to New York, I figured all subway stations underground would be a reasonable temperature-- not room temperature maybe, but not too uncomfortable either. But it's really a mixed bag.

Some seem barely warmer than outdoors. At the 59th Street station in Brooklyn, sometimes I think my toes are suffering from the beginning stages of frostbite before the train comes. Other stations aren't so bad at all. I've read that the stations at the beginning and end of the lines are warmest because the trains idle there so long.

Paul spends quite a bit of time in Queens, where a lot of the trains (and their stations) are above ground. Nice in the summer. Not so great in the winter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bay Ridge Food in the News

No. 1: Bay Ridge is much more diverse than people think. Yes, the neighborhood is known primarily for its Greek and Italian residents, but people of Scandinavian and Middle Eastern heritage also have roots here.

No. 2: Bay Ridge has a lot of restaurants. A lot. I think I've read that we have the highest concentration of any Brooklyn neighborhood.

For those two reasons, I was excited when I found this article the New York Times recently published about the variety of restaurants not only in Bay Ridge, but on Bay Ridge's 5th Avenue, where we live.

(Our apartment building even got a cameo-- scroll down to the second photo on the left. That's our building through the window of Al Safa!)

Paul and I haven't been to as many neighborhood restaurants as you would think. When the weather is nice, or even when it's cold but I get cabin fever, we tend to go into Manhattan to eat or at least to another Brooklyn neighborhood. But as the weather has gotten colder, we're staying closer to home.

As for the restaurants mentioned in the article: We've tried Al Safa across the street, and Agnanti is next on the list.

I had to laugh at the first sentence of the article: "In the popular imagination, Bay Ridge is New York’s Midwest: more conservative, less diverse and distinctly unhip."

It's true-- that is the perception, but I think it's changing as people get priced out of Manhattan and the ritzier Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Yes, Bay Ridge is more conservative than New York as a whole-- it's decidedly Republican. No, it's not less diverse-- particularly compared to Defiance and even Columbus. As for the unhip? Pay me a visit and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Rare Sound of Silence

I briefly awoke at 5:13 this morning to the sound of ... nothing.

It was so quiet, I probably could have heard myself breathe if I had been conscious enough to notice.

I've often written that I've gotten use to the chaos outside of our corner apartment, but it still amazes me that at times it can be as silent as my bedroom in Defiance. Not often, but sometimes.

Last night was by far better than a night last month in which a car alarm went off about every 10 minutes. I'm not exaggerating. All night. I finally fell asleep, but it was a restless one. When I awoke to the beeps in the middle of the night, I started counting them-- about 30 blasts at a time.

When I walked to the subway the next morning, it was still going strong. Luckily, that doesn't happen too often either.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I feel like I'm the only person in the entire city that knows Ohio State is playing in a BCS bowl game in about an hour.

I'm guessing the Sports section in yesterday's Dispatch was almost exclusively dedicated to the Buckeyes. I didn't see one story -- not even a brief!! -- in Sunday's New York Times.

Paul and I are watching the game from home tonight. The late start means we probably would have gotten home after midnight if we would've watched it with the alumni club in the city. Nevertheless, we're doing what we can to show our school spirit. We each have on our OSU gear, and as I write, Paul is putting together an OSU pasta salad that was a Christmas gift from Katie and Jay:

Go Bucks!


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