an anniversary mini-break

Last weekend Matt and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We always try to do something special, whether it’s a short trip or even just a fancy dinner out. In the past, we’ve gone to Nantucket, had dinner at Daniel, and spent a night in Atlantic City. This year, Matt’s parents generously volunteered to keep Nolan for a sleepover at their house, and we planned a night in the city.

For somewhere that’s a 30-minute train ride away, NYC has so many things to do, places to see, restaurants to eat at, hotels to stay in… I found this one night away harder to plan than other week-long trips. To book our hotel we ended up with a good price through Travelocity’s mobile site. Believe it or not, the same exact room was $10 more expensive booked on the computer than it was on my phone. It was a special “mobile rate.” We also considered using Hotel Tonight, but in the end found that the Travelocity price was on par with or better than the deals they had.

We stayed at the Soho Grand, which was lovely. Very cool decor, lots of brushed brass and dim lights. The staff was friendly but no one looked a day over 24 and most are probably struggling actors and models. It made me feel old. And round.

The hotel kindly upgraded us to a room with a great view of the Freedom Tower, but it overlooked Canal Street and was so loud in the morning. I’d say they need to reevaluate the windows because it was way too noisy after 6am.

We got tickets to see Once through TDF (a $20 membership gets great prices on tons of shows). It’s luck of the draw with seating and you don’t find out where you’re sitting until you arrive, but once again we lucked out. We had mezzanine seats on the aisle (the pregnancy bladder gods were with me!) and paid only $40 a piece for them. Those seats regularly sell for $142! The show was wonderful and hearing the music from a live band made me like the soundtrack even more.

The rest of our 24 hours or so were pretty much focused on food because that’s my favorite part of any trip, even one that’s just across the East River. We started with delicious brunch at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side.

After the show we had a snack (dinner #1) at the bar in the hotel, and ended our night with a delicious dinner at Hudson Clearwater.

 The food was definitely delicious, but I wouldn’t recommend sitting outside like we did. It was beautiful but the seats were uncomfortable and all the tables wobbled a lot on the bricks. Plus, there were some furry friends who scampered about…

Before heading back home on Monday morning, we finally visited Clinton Street Baking Company to try their famous pancakes. I love pancakes, but I’m kind of picky about them. Most of the time when I order them in restaurants, I find that the toppings and extras are all good, but the pancakes themselves are usually pretty bland and lackluster. Well, these were not bland at all. I went with the popular Maine blueberry pancakes and they were as good as I’d hoped. I would never wait hours and hours for them as is the case on most weekends, but ten minutes on a Monday? No problem.

Even though I was hauling around my big belly and couldn’t partake in the gallons of wine and cocktails that were everywhere (being pregnant in the summer is hard!), it was a very rejuvenating day away with my favorite man.

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photo (1)Marking our anniversary in a special way is important to us; what do you do to celebrate yours? Next year I have my sights set on a night away at the Maplestone Inn in New Paltz. Is it too early to plan anniversary #8 and reserve some babysitting?

Images from: Soho Grand Hotel, New York Magazine, Once the Musical, A Cup of Jo, Hudson Clearwater, and me

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Best Breakfast Spots

Breakfast is, without a doubt, my favorite meal. I love a spontaneous pancakes-for-dinner night and when I’m on vacation I’m most certainly NOT an, “Oh, let’s just grab a bagel,” kind of girl. No. Breakfast should be delicious and fattening and be served with tasty coffee beverages. Here are some of my favorite spots for this very special meal:

1. Toast in Port Jefferson – it’s a hike to get there (for me) and I haven’t been there in ages, but I dreamily think about this place at least once a week. Everything is delicious and they make the best cappuccino I’ve ever had. Seriously, the best. It’s very small and they don’t take reservations (that I know of), but if there’s a wait you can put your name down and stroll around Port Jeff.

2. Thomas’s Ham and Eggery in Carle Place – Thomas’s looks like a diner but the breakfast is definitely not typical diner fare: Croissant French Toast, delicious egg skillet things, etc. There is often a wait but sometimes even when there is a line you can score a seat at the counter.

3. Brownstone’s in Amityville – After many glowing reviews from a foodie friend, we tried Brownstone’s this week and were not disappointed. Friendly service, good coffee, and the Pecan Stuffed French Toast was well worth the drive to Amityville.

4. Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck – Very charming decor, quality coffee and they always have good breakfast specials. The outdoor area is pretty but the seats are ridiculously uncomfortable so opt for inside if it’s available.

I’m certain that I’m missing tons of good breakfast places. Where should I head to next?

Image: Flickr

Roaming Red Hook

With the Fourth of July landing on a Wednesday this year, Matt and I found ourselves looking at each other that morning asking, “So…what do you want to do for the fourth?” On a whim (and with Google Maps’ assurance of a traffic-free BQE) we headed to Red Hook, Brooklyn for lobster rolls.

I read about the Red Hook Lobster Pound last year and made a mental note to visit. More recently, I read about two-hour wait times but I made sure not to mention that to Matt when we headed out. Thankfully there wasn’t an ounce of traffic on the way there and we made it to Red Hook in a half hour. Although it’s definitely not as “developed” as Park Slope or even Williamsburg, Red Hook isn’t the shady crack den it once was. There are some pretty tree-lined residential streets just blocks from industrial and shipping warehouses. The Red Hook Lobster Pound is a walk-up-to-the-counter type of place, with an informal dining room next door. I got a lobster roll and it was one of the best I’ve had. The lobster meat was incredibly tender and not at all chewy. The only downside is the size. It’s so small that I could have easily eaten two without even having that, “Ew. I’m disgusting. Why did I do that to myself?” feeling. Thankfully, I stopped after one and had room for the one, I mean two, nope it was actually three desserts I had soon after.

Matt and I split a decadent whoopie pie at the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Instead of a whipped cream filling, it had butter cream frosting and wow, it was good.

After strolling around (in the 90 degree heat), I thought I was seeing a mirage when I spotted the sign for Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie. We followed the painted wooden signs and boy, I am glad we did. All the place sells is Key Lime Pies and they are damn good. We got an individual sized one to split, along with a Swingle, which is a mini pie dipped in chocolate and served on a stick. To give you an idea of how good everything was, I don’t even like Key Lime Pie and I can’t stop thinking about going back.

Image: Flickr

Just down the block from the Red Hook Lobster Pound is Baked, a popular, new-ish bakery featured on The Food Network and Martha Stewart. Unfortunately, I had already eaten lunch and dessert (x3) by the time we passed it, so for this trip we had to skip it. Next time, I’ll definitely stop in.

 

What’s New

Hey, world! Here are a few things that have kept me busy and piqued my interest lately:

Pinterest – holy mother of all time suckers. I have a whole post on Pinterest in the works, but if you haven’t pinned, get busy.

Bronx Zoo – we went here yesterday for a birthday party and it was so fun. I go every few years and each time I think, Wow! I need to get here more often. It’s lovely and so nicely cared for.

Cooking Food Stuffs – the aforementioned Pinterest has kept my kitchen BUSY. This BLT Quinoa Salad is delicious, these Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps taste like they could be from a restaurant, and if Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars sound like something you might enjoy, then you have to make these. If they don’t sound like something you would like, please leave. Or see a mental health professional STAT.

Reading – being back at work and reading the literary gems of high school students keeps me pretty busy so I haven’t been reading much fiction lately. I started the memoir Bringing Up Bebe and really enjoyed it but had to return it to my library since it was a 7-day loan.  English teacher + mother of baby = not finishing a book a week. I’ll probably buy it from Amazon next time I’m on there. So in about five minutes. I think I’m the last woman on Earth to read 50 Shades of Grey. It’s on my to-do list for the summer.

ABC Kitchen – Matt and I went here for lunch over the April vacation and had a pretty amazing meal. I will say this, the place tries really hard. A little too hard if you ask me. It’s a bit over curated for my taste and just felt kind of forced. Everyone was friendly, the food was original and delicious but the space and the “uniforms” were a bit of an eye roll. Is it weird that I’m being a snob about a restaurant’s snobbery?

This Guy – he’s been keeping me busy and happy 🙂  Here he is doing some work on Matt’s computer.

And enjoying some Starbucks:

What about you, friends? Read anything great lately or have something worth sharing?

New Restaurants!

Matt and I recently tried two new restaurants and loved both of them. I could make a career out of going out to eat. I love food so much it might be the father of my baby.

First, the unfortunately named Swallow in Huntington. It’s a tiny space (holds about 20 or 25 people) and it serves a varied and creative menu of small plates. The waiter recommended ordering two plates per person and it was perfect for the two of us. Don’t neglect to order dessert. We got some sort of chocolate peanut butter thing that was kick ass. As of now, the restaurant is BYOB (no corking fee) and they will gladly re-cork the wine you don’t finish. You DEFINITELY need a reservation.

image: swallowrestaurant.com

Next up is a little off the beaten path in Sea Cliff, but it is well worth the trip. Metropolitan Bistro occupies the beautiful space that Tupelo Honey used to. Although the menu is on the small side, everything looks (and from what we experienced, tastes) delicious so there is plenty to choose from. As per my religious beliefs, I had to order dessert and was very impressed by the apple cobbler. No matter what entree you order, you MUST get a side of fries. They are these unbelievable potato wedges with this fresh mayonnaise-y dipping sauce. I have to stop thinking about them or I’m going to start making a daily trip up there. I love you, fries! I’ll be back soon! You should call for reservations there also.

image: themetropolitanbistro.com
image: the metropolitanbistro.com

Happy Things

Here are some things that made me happy in the past week:

– We ate a DELICIOUS dinner at A Mano in Mattituck tonight. Wow. The butternut squash ravioli made me happy, the chocolate torte made me swoon, but the few sips of Matt’s glass of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Paumanok Vineyards made me nearly implode with joy. So light, fresh, cool, and lovely.

– We received our gas and electric bills yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised to see this from National Grid:

They owe US money – suckers! Keeping the heat at 60 when we’re sleeping or not home has its perks! In case you’re wondering, we keep a space heater in the kitchen for Baxter. And to answer your next question, No, it did not raise our electric bill.

– The Today Show’s story about a gorilla who walks on two legs is fascinating and freaky!

– I’ve been looking around for a vintage-y looking poster to hang in the baby’s room and I think this one from Poster Corner might be the winner.

Image: postercorner.com

– Sandwich #2 from Press 195. They have locations in Park Slope, Bayside, and Rockville Centre.  I took Matt here after he shoveled for three hours on Thursday. The turkey, brie, roasted red pepper and garlic panini was definitely worth braving the snow. Worst website, best sandwiches. And beer. And sangria.

– Here are few more blogs I’ve added to my daily clicks:

A Cup of Jo – Joanna Goddard has great taste and a super cute baby.

Unruly Little Things – this one is a spinoff of Alyson Brown’s main blog, Unruly Things. She is expecting a baby boy right around the same time we are, and this site focuses on baby stuff.

Thx Thx Thx – Leah writes a thank you note a day. Some are to people, often strangers, some are to words, ideas, events, places, etc. Here is a recent one:

Image: thxthxthx.com

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

Mill Pond House

A favorite summer spot for me and Matt is Mill Pond House in Centerport. It’s located right on 25A and has a wonderful, inexpensive price fixe menu for lunch and dinner. A 3-course lunch is only $21.95 and you have a lot of choices. It’s not like one of those you-can-only-choose-from-these-two-disgusting-leftovers price fixes.

Although we’ve been there a half dozen times, we’ve never actually eaten IN the restaurant. It has a lovely deck on the back that overlooks the water so we always opt to eat there.

Image: http://www.millpondrestaurant.com

This image doesn’t show their new awning – no more blinding sun!

Image: http://www.millpondrestaurant.com

The tables are pretty close together outside so it’s easy to people listen (eavesdrop). On a recent trip I heard a 50-ish year old man speaking to his 6-year old son.  I got the sense right away that this dad doesn’t spend a lot of time with his kid.  He seemed awkward and uncomfortable, and I guessed that he was divorced and only saw his son occasionally.  (It’s amazing the stories I make up in my head.) They were waiting for his friends to arrive and we concluded that he was buying drugs or was involved in human trafficking. (There are those stories again. . . ) The father ordered a drink way too stiff for anyone responsible for a young child, and proceeded to say half a dozen inappropriate things.  My favorites:

#1 – As his son happily sips a glass a water, the dad yells, “Don’t fill up on water, I ordered you a Coke!”

#2 – Son: Daddy, do your friends have kids?

Dad: No, son.  My friend’s wife couldn’t have children.

Ugh!