Thursday, October 29, 2009

January 21st, 2010

Three one-way tickets to LA booked and bought. Yes, the second seat does say "Extra Seat For Dog"...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ICE eclairs

I finally did something I've been meaning to do for a long time, now--take a culinary class. N's parents gave me a gift certificate to the Institute of Culinary Education (just north of Union Square) awhile ago, and I debated for a long time between using it on a knife skills course or something more frivolous. I originally wanted to take a cake decorating class, but all the courses offered by ICE for that were 3-day intensives that were around $500. So I opted to take a short 4-hour course on eclairs.

I've recently become a fan of eclairs, but every time I eat one from a bakery it's never exactly what I hope it will be. In general, they always taste too "American." In other words, too big, too heavy, too sweet, too exaggerated in general.

This course, however, was truly loyal to the eclair's French roots. I was very suspicious of ICE's recreational courses--my experiences with 'recreational' courses elsewhere (Parsons and Pratt) were always huge letdowns. The instructors were idiots who definitely didn't know what they were doing, and there was never any rigor to the course. This one, though, was GREAT. I definitely recommend everyone to go for ICE's recreational classes. They're organized well, the instructors seem good in general, and there's some rigor to it. They're also relatively affordable. The eclair course I took was $95 for four hours of really great learning/baking, and we had the option to take home tens and tens of eclairs if we wanted to.

We ended up making vanilla (from actual vanilla beans--ICE doesn't even skimp on ingredients for this course!), Grand Mariner, praline (tasted a bit like nutella), and chocolate fillings. There were also chocolate and vanilla icings to top them, fresh fruit, and chocolate ganache. Altogether, a very good NYC find.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The one money-saving thing I'll miss about NYC

I love getting great deals; I totally get a high off of it. But that feeling just doesn't come very often when spending money in NYC. I got around that by doing 80% of my shopping online.

There is one place, though, where great deals abound. And that is...Rite Aid. Although I do use Rite Aid for regular drug store stuff, I also use it for the vast majority of my pantry staples. That is, cereal, chips and other dry salty snacks, and Diet Coke. On my most recent trip, I bought:

(1) box of Honey Nut Cheerios
(1) box of Multigrain Cheerioes
(1) box of FiberOne cereal
(1) box of Golden Grahams
(1) box of FiberOne toaster pastries
(2) boxes of Velveeta mac n cheese
(1) bag of snickers minis
(1) bag of 3 musketeers mint minis
(1) 3-pack of Trident sugar free gum

all for...$16 (with 3 coupons)! I was sooo happy afterward. I wait every Sunday for Rite Aid's new weekly deals and view their circular online, and go there on Sunday early afternoons to buy. Rite Aid also *always* has at least a $5 off $25 coupon somewhere online (more recently, you can get a $5 off $20 coupon) no matter what, everything you get there should be 20% off. They also take all kinds of manufacturer's coupons (unlike most places in NYC) and their weekly deals are fantastic. And their Single Check Rebate program is really great. I've gotten many useful items like toothpaste for free using it.

There are a few Rite Aids in LA, but I doubt I'm going to end up living with two locations within 2 blocks of me as I am now. And since I'm in Bay Ridge, I can take advantage of almost all the deals (the locations in Manhattan get instantly ravaged when sales come up, making it almost impossible to take advantage of them). I'll miss you, Rite Aids in Bay Ridge.

NYC lasts

We've finalized the last day of our lease with our landlord--January 22, 2010, a week after the 1-year lease we signed ends. Our last day at the office will probably be the 15th, which means we'll leave NYC on the 21st or 22nd. Our first major detail has been settled!

Now, suddenly everything I do could be the last time I do it in NYC. Or, possibly, ever! The New York Film Festival just ended, and with N in my life, it's become a regular annual event for me, also. The last screening I watched was "Mother", a Korean film, yesterday afternoon. The new Alice Tully Hall is pretty awesome. I love how it integrates outdoor space with its interior space. And the all-glass facade is great, too.

After the screening, N and I wandered uptown towards the Upper West Side Shake Shack for lunch. It is amazing how much that area has changed since I was at Columbia. I only recognize a few storefronts that are still there. We ended up passing Niko's along the way and decided to eat there, instead. Niko's is nothing special--a Greek restaurant with a huge menu and cheesy decor. The reason why N and I decided to eat there, though, is that the last time we ate dinner there was 7 years ago in 2002. We had recently become friends, and we were both feeling each other out to see if the other was interested in anything more. And we both concluded that we had no chance with the other. And now, several years later, we are approaching the fourth year of our relationship. Crazy.

So, that was definitely the last time I would ever eat at Niko's. Also probably the last time I'll ever attend the New York Film Festival. The time has come to make a list of things in NYC I have to do (or do again) before I leave. That will come in a future post...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LA purchase #1

Just made my first just-for-LA purchase. At the suggestion of LA Magazine's blog, I bought this:

While N is excited to move to LA for the year-round grilling opportunities, I'm excited to possibly have the space and weather to grow things I can eat! In my last apartment, I tried to grow one small pot of mixed herbs from seeds. They managed to grow a tiny amount so I could make about 3 pieces of bruschetta with tiny leaves of basil before they died. I've been much more successful in my current apartment (thanks mostly to more window space and good light). This time I didn't start from seed, but bought seedlings at nearby gardening stores and farmers markets. I started with basil, rosemary, oregano, lemon thyme, sage, chives, silver thyme, cilantro, and parsley. Now our apartment is overflowing with herbs, but the parsley died out pretty quick. The cilantro was also short-lived--it bolted pretty quickly and became useless after that. (By the way--lemon thyme? I wasn't very familiar with it, but now I think it's pretty amazing. I use it for a substitute for lemon juice when I don't have any fresh lemons on hand. Of course it doesn't have the acidity of lemon juice, but the smell is overwhelmingly similar).

Having fresh herbs on hand is awesome, but being able to grow something more substantial is really my dream. And not really in pots, but in the ground. The ground! There are actually a good amount of guests houses and cottages in the LA area for rent that come with private yards. If N and I could get one of those...what a dream. For Stewie, too.