Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Watch out New York, here comes Katie

Katie visited me in the city for the first time last weekend and we had a fantastic time, exploring my hood, Chelsea, Union Square and SoHo.

The weekend kicked off with dinner at Lombardis, the SoHo pizza parlor that battles with Grimaldis and a couple others for the title of best pizza in the city. Better than Grimaldis? That’s hard to say. But it was fantastic! Matt recommended adding a bit (just a bit) of fresh garlic to the pie, which really added to the flavor! Not only was the food awesome, but the three of us thoroughly enjoyed watching 2 guidos (and their Barbie doll dates) try to talk their way to a table, negotiating first with the hostess and then the manager. But the staff was as steadfast as the quality of the pizza and the B&T (bridge and tunnel) people had to wait to a table just like us:-)

Katie got the grand tour of Brooklyn Heights on Saturday morning and then it was off to Chelsea Market. Katie was hoping to see Rachel Ray. No luck there, but the market is fantastic and we went into a couple stores that I missed on my last visit. I could have dropped some serious dough at the Italian market--pasta, cheese and a 3 kilo jar of Nutella, choices, choices! We tried the newly opened Ronnybrook Dairy Bar for lunch. My egg salad sandwich, Katie’s chicken sandwich and our peanut butter cup milkshake were all spot on! The décor was neat too. We moseyed through Chelsea and tooled around the Union Square market next, but didn’t buy anything fresh as we had more walking (in the 90+ degree heat) ahead of us.

Why do I go to SoHo on the weekends? It’s so cool but man is it crowded! We shopped through a few “cute little shops” that Katie hoped to see, but were probably most happy when we came across the Dean and Deluca’s that we fondly remember from our trips into the city when we first moved to PA. The afternoon ended at Café Borgia for a coffee with ice cream and orangeade with orange sorbet. We felt very hip:-)

We had no reservations for dinner, but got right in to Lantern on Montague (currently labeled my favorite Thai restaurant.) Then it was off to see No Reservations, a wonderful movie if you want to see a cute movie with a happy ending.

Minus the dirty subway (the picture shows Katie’s attempt to not get germs on her hands) and the guy at Penn Station who told her he liked her toes, I think Katie had a fun time. I know I sure did!

Monday, July 30, 2007


As the muggy July air continued its tight grip over the city, I reluctantly headed out to run an errand and was puzzled by the trailers that I saw lining Lexington Ave. The further north I walked, the more trailers, limos and town cars I saw. But it was when I came across the truck labeled “producer” it dawned on me that a movie set must be near by. Indeed it is!

“Don’t Mess with the Zohan” is filming/causing traffic gridlock at the corner of 52nd and Park this afternoon. Adam Sandler was there and by the looks of the scene that was being set up, someone on a bike gets hit by a black SUV.

A quick Google search reveals the plot: Adam Sandler plays a Mossad agent who fakes his death in order to move to NYC and become a hair stylist. Um, okay.

“Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” coming soon to a theater near you.

P.S. the spread in the food services tent looked fab!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Floating with Harry

Heather and I, Harry Potters in hand, took our maiden dips in the "Floating Pool Lady" Pool on Sunday. What a fun experience! The ability to sit on a man-made beach or swim in a pool on a barge, all while looking at the lower Manhattan skyline, is truly something to try for yourself. And since the pool is free, you can't beat the price:-)

I have a couple criticisms:
1. the price of the umbrella rentals-- highway robbery at $15/day
2. the experience is not relaxing. Because you are only allowed in the pool for an hour at a time on the weekends, one had the feeling that everyone was either waiting in line to get an admission bracelet, waiting in line to get onto the barge, being fed instructions over a loud speaker, or waiting for the hour swim time to be up.

Okay, those are the quibbles. Overall though, the pool was great. As I said, the skyline view is unparalleled. And of super high importance, the pool was clean-- not just the deck, but also the water, the bathroom/locker room, and beach area. I mean very clean! From that point of view, I can see why they close the pool for 30 minutes after every swim session. I was also impressed with the concession stand-- they served soy dogs!

I plan to go back on a weekday. I've watched the 5-6:30pm session from the Promenade and it looks pretty empty. Plus swim sessions on the weekdays are for 90 minutes instead of 60.

Perhaps the GW University bathing beauties will be on television in Japan...NHK national Japanese television was filming at the pool:-)

P.S. I'm on page 400 of Harry and it is FANTASTIC!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where's the Veggie (burger)

This was the question I found myself asking this evening as I entered Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. My hopes were high and I'd been looking forward to patronizing the newest establishment in the area. Five Guys beef burgers are supposedly fantastic. And any respectable burger joint (Zip Burger, Good Burger, BLT Burger, Shake Shack, etc...) has a good veggie burger. Unfortunately, Five Guys had no veggie burgers. I find this to be TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Did they not have veggie burgers tonight or at all? This is the big question. On their menu, they advertise:

The Burger Guru claimed that this means you can get a bun with vegetables or a grilled cheese, but not a veggie burger. Honestly, I found that notion to be ridiculous, but a quick search revealed the following comment on a message board: "I agree with everyone else - five guys is AMAZING! Some might be wondering.. what's a vegetarian doing at five guys? Well.. for you veggies out there who have no shame, I usually order a burger with no meat and then bring in a cooked boca burger patty so I can slip it into my meatless burger. It's still delicious."
A. Boca burgers are not veggie burgers, they are just plain gross.
B. The day I decide that carrying veggie burgers in my purse is an acceptable action is the day I start eatting beef again.

So what's a girl to do? Not eat at Five Guys again until they add a veggie (and by veggie I mean garden) burger to their menu? I am afraid so. The grilled cheese was decent, but "Welcome to the '90s Mr. Banks," burger joints these days serve veggie burgers!

P.S. The Burger Guru was quite impressed with his double cheese burger:-)
P.P.S. You can munch on peanuts while you wait, but everyone throws the shells on the floor of the restaurant. Hey now!

UPDATE: So I ranted about Five Guys on my blog, but truth be told, I also sent an email to their corporate HQ. (I blame my uppity-ness on the 2 cups of coffee that I had had earlier in the day...I'm not a coffee drinker.) Anyway, less than 24 hours later I had an email from the owner of my local Five Guys, apologizing for the confusion and inviting me to come back and try the veggie sandwich. NOW THAT's CUSTOMER SERVICE! Just as I successfully lobbied for the return of veggie chili to Issac Newton's in PA a few years ago, I think I might continue to lobby for a veggie burger at Five Guys. But in the meantime, I will take the owner up on his very nice offer. Welcome to the neighborhood Five Guys.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beaches here and there

Russians in thongs, Puerto Ricans drinking box wine and 2 Brooklynites with office white skin slathered in SFP 45. (Guess which group I belonged to.) All these people and more were seen at Jones Beach this past Sunday, a glorious day to go to the beach.

I was most impressed with the beach facilities. The bath house looked like a highway rest stop, complete with a Friendly's Ice Cream stand. Umbrella rentals were a steal at $5/day and the actual beach was not overly crowded. Matt and I enjoyed a jelly fish-free walk along the beach and then jumped into the water. But "the sea was angry that day my friends," so after getting tossed in the waves (and almost losing my suit) we retired to our umbrella and beach chairs and watched the world go by.

I am still a Lake Michigan girl, but I would definitely go back to Jones Beach!

Since I didn't take pictures over the weekend, let me leave you with a few more pictures from Jolli Lodge

Cousins at sunset

notice the proximity of the flame to Uncle Dave's leg and the blanket

helping the coals along

Voila! A fantastic strawberry, blueberry smore

Friday, July 13, 2007

Which "henge" is when?

So I thought that Manhattan-henge, when the sun sets in line with the grid of the city, was July 11. As NYers will remember, the city was deluged on Wednesday, so there was no sunset to be seen and I figured I’d just have to wait until next year.

But now I’ve been told that it’s actually today, July 13. Today looks like a much better sunset day! Can anyone confirm July 11 or July 13?

An NPR segment from last year says that it happens on July 13 and renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says any city with a western-facing street grid sees such a sunset at some point during the year. That got me thinking that this likely takes place on Clark Street at some point. The Brooklyn Heights grid looks to be on a similar angle to the NYC grid north of 14th street. Could “Brooklyn-Henge” be taking place tonight?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back to the Big Apple

I still have one more Michigan posting, but for now let me say that I made it back to Brooklyn and have had a fun and full week!

It was, of course, awesome to see Matt again on Monday. We tried Tenda Asian Bistro on Montague for dinner. I didn't like it as much as Lantern across the street, but they do serve tasty Pad Thai (not greasy) and the wait staff was friendly!

On Tuesday, I was happy to welcome Torsten, a friend from Germany, to the Big Apple. Unfortunately, I couldn't take time off of work to sightsee with him, but we did manage some sightseeing in the evening. An Indian dinner on Bleecker, Sushi lunch in Central Park, Burgers near Union Square and sandwiches in Bryant Park were thrown in for good measure. What was Torsten's favorite part of the city? Not the Met. No, not the library. I am fairly confident that the Simpsons-esque "Quik-E-Mart" just west of Times Square will be the first thing mentioned to friends and family when Torsten talks about his trip. I must admit that it was pretty cool--a must see if you are a Simpson's fan!

in his glory

doesn't get much more Simpsons than this

Speaking of burgers, I recommend BLTBurger. Matt, Torsten and I ate there last night. The veggie burger was solid and the sweet potato fries were great! The guys liked their burgers, fries and onion rings (though there was a slight quibble that the onion tended to come out of the batter.) Our waiter was great and the atmosphere in the restaurant was fun.

Tonight, I was finally able to catch up on some laundry. Bring on the weekend!

slightly blurry picture on the skyline after a torrential rain storm.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Goodbye Jolli Lodge

Actually, I'm sure I'll post more pictures in a few days (ie. of Uncle Dave making excellent gourmet s'mores but almost lighting us on fire on the beach in the process.)

But for now, let me post one more sunset.

Today we begin the long journey home. With any luck, I'll be back in Brooklyn by tomorrow evening.

bis dann

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A day topped off with cherry pie

The Fourth of July with Dave, Lisa and Ellie was a blast...so "up north" we even had cherry pie for dessert!

Here are some picts:

The Leland Parade...doesn't get much more Norman Rockwell than that


But there are moments of comic relief too

So what was Aunt Martha doing to Ellie yesterday? Making a packing tape sculpture of her of course:-)

Storm rolling in before dinner

The sun set through a layer of fog. Going...



Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Yesterday was more of an outside day at the Jolli Lodge—the sun was warm, clouds were few and far between. An off shore breeze brought in FREEZING cold water so we couldn’t swim, but it was still a perfect day for Ellie to visit.

We walked her dogs along the beach and then headed out to go letterboxing. Heard of letterboxing before? It is a worldwide phenomenon that requires only a stamp, small notebook and a sense of adventure. First, you go online and print out a set of clues—some are rhymes and some are directional. You then follow the clues to an off-the-beaten-trail spot where you’ll find a Tupperware, old bottle or other nondescript container. Inside lies a location stamp and a notebook. The successful letterboxer stamps her notebook with the location stamp and the location notebook with her stamp.

We set off for a letterbox in Leelanau State Park. Uncle Doug and Aunt Martha assumed we would just walk through the woods, follow a few easy directions, stamp the book and go home.

After walking for close to a mile and having not yet reached the start point for the first clue, Aunt Martha was thrilled to run into a park ranger. She tried to cheat by asking him whether he knew where the letterbox in his park was. (Not exactly the stealth attitude that is needed for letterboxing.) The ranger had only ever heard of letterboxing, and was excited to see our clues but said that technically letterboxes are not allowed in the Park (oops!)

Fast forward at least an hour--we climbed dunes, hiked through the woods and down a ravine and dodged LOTS of P.I. Unfortunately, no letterbox. Did we incorrectly follow the clues, did we miss the letterbox, had it been removed? Who knows, but the hunt was just as fun as it would have been to actually find the stamp. Hopefully Ellie will be able to go with her parents and have another go at it. For my part, I can’t wait to see if there are any letterboxes in Brooklyn Heights, Newtown or perhaps even in Berlin or Freiburg!

In other news, what is Aunt Martha doing to Ellie? Check back tomorrow to find out.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Taking in easy

It’s been a somewhat cool week so far but we are having a marvelous time!

The first few days in pictures:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Drive

The pilgrimage to Michigan truly took the form of Planes, Trains and Automobiles this year. I took NJ Transit from NYC early on Friday morning and by 10:30am, my mom, dad and I were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, on the way to Michigan. Katie, flew in from DC. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself...

The trip was uneventful-- no construction, nice weather. We even had time to stop in Milan, Ohio, birthplace of Thomas Edison and home to my mother for 7 years. Milan is quiet sleepy, but beautifully quaint. Here's my mom outside her old house, the House of 40 Doors (no worries, we weren't snooping around an occupied house; no one is living there at the moment as it is being renovated.)

We stopped for dinner next. We were going to try Don Quan's Mexican Grill, but were frightened off by the table of 20 who hadn't yet ordered. The decor was also off-- the restaurant was either a temple or a Chinese restaurant in an earlier life so all the Asian decorations had just been painted over red, white and green. Luckily Danny Boy's Italian was across the street and turned out to be a great find. (They even had an "Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago" sub.) Life in rural Ohio sure is different than life on the East Coast, but the people are genuinely kind and friendly, some of the best of America!

Sunset over Ohio

Our next adventure occured in DEEtroit. Families were setting fireworks off and one in particular totally freaked out my mom: "Holy S--t, I think we've been shot, here comes the big one, take me home Jesus."

We spent the night at G&G's, drove to Leland yesterday and awoke this morning to cool temps but awesome views of the Lake.

More later...