2 fun nyc cookbooks

i recently picked up the meatball shop cookbook, and although i’ve only tried one recipe, i’m sold.  when i was living on the lower east side, i tried going to this place countless times, and each time it was completely packed.  eventually they started doing take-out, and once i finally tasted the much-raved about meatballs, i could see what all those people were waiting in line for.

so far, i’ve made the classic beef meatballs twice; they’re easy to make and turned out awesome both times.  the spices are perfectly balanced and create a scrumptious italian meatball.  i buy most of my groceries from foragers, a local and organic grocer, and i really think the fresh meat and herbs made a difference in this recipe.

the cookbook has a a good variety; with 6 sections – the balls, the sauces, stick to your bones sides, the veg, the salads, and the sweets – there are many meal combinations and options. next up on my menu are the bolognese balls with the classic tomato sauce.  i also want to try the ice creams (i just need to buy an ice cream maker first).

everyone loves cupcakes, and in a thriving city like new york, there are no shortage of bakeries.  one of my favorites is magnolia bakery.  every time one of my co-workers has a birthday, we order cupcakes from here…and every time they’re amazing.  magnolia’s cupcakes are the perfect size – not too big – and have just the right amount of sweetness. the cookbook has quite a few cupcake recipes, in addition to other yummy confections, including pies, cakes, breads, brownies, and ice creams.

so far i’ve tried the blondes with cream cheese swirl and pecans, and more recently the strawberry cream cheese pie with graham cracker crust.  both were delicious and left me wanting to try more.

harper simon – wishes and stars

i heard this song last night on the credits of the girls premiere – still undecided about the show, but absolutely love this song!!!  at first i thought it was simon and garfunkel…super mellow goodness.

my never-ending quest for the perfect shoes

i have literally been searching for the perfect flats for years now.  i seem to have a problem finding the right size – they’re either too big and slip off my feet when i walk, or too small and hurt my poor toes.  thankfully, my latest purchase seems to be the perfect balance…they fit like a glove.  made by brazillian designer melissa, these shoes remind me of jellies, with their plastic construction and faux-woven style.

they’re also extra-awesome due to the interchangeable black or white bow.  very retro.

available at anthropologie for $88.  i also recently learned that melissa has a new store in soho, which i will no doubt be checking out soon.

upstairs at the kimberly

last night i had drinks at upstairs at the kimberly, the new rooftop bar at the kimberly hotel on 50th and lex.  upon entering the hotel, i felt like i was walking into a tim burton set.  a small hallway led back to the elevator, which was fashioned with black and white walls and took us 30 stories up to the rooftop bar.  although it was a tuesday night, the bar was hopping.  i ordered a glass of gewürztraminer and enjoyed the views of midtown manhattan from a small corner table.  besides wine, they also serve a selection of  signature cocktails in addition to a full bar.  i thought the food menu was interesting – and although my lobster sliders were a bit too peppery – they were still quite good by bar food standards.  the crowd was the typical new york happy hour goers, and the music was a little too loud and not consistently good (they played a lot of MGMT followed by dance music), but i would still recommend this place for after-work drinks.  overall, the atmosphere was nice, and let’s face it, there’s nothing better than sipping cocktails at a new york rooftop bar.

book review: the savage detectives

i finished reading the savage detectives by roberto bolaño, an award-winning chilean author, on thursday night.  published in 1998 and translated from spanish by natasha wimmer in 2007, belaño is considered by some as the best latin american writer of his generation, and has been compared to gabriel garcia marquez, author of the acclaimed one hundred years of solitude (if you haven’t read this book, pick it up immediately).

the book follows a group of young poets known as “visceral realists”, through the 1970s-1990s.  the leaders of the group – arturo bolano and ulises lima – are loosely based on roberto himself and his best friend mario santiago, who pioneered a group called infrarealism in mexico during 1976.  In terms of structure, the book is divided into 3 parts, the first part is from the diary of 17-year old juan garcía madero and his introduction to the visceral realists; the second part is divided into sections which are narrated by a wide array of characters – some of them repeated and others never heard from again – and their recollections/experiences with bolano and lima; the final section picks up where the book started, with madero’s narrative.

this book isn’t for the faint of heart (there are more than a few racy scenes) or those who want an easy read.  it took me awhile to get used to the style, but once I stopped trying to remember everyone’s names (there are a lot of minor characters – though only a handful of major characters), i really started to enjoy it.  the style and language reminded me of the beat writers like bukowski and kerouac, but with a rebellious, poverty-stricken, passionately-devoted latin american poets.  i felt myself immersed in the culture – or, more accurately, counter-culture – of the characters.  their pitfalls and heartaches are described so vividly by bolaño that as you turn the pages you can’t help but feel nostalgic for their lost youth.

if you’re looking for something a little different, something a little raw, then i highly recommend it.  the initial challenge is well worth the reward.

the wonderfulness of chamomile tea

today I discovered chamomile tea – which, surprisingly, I’ve never had before this morning.  Where oh where has this been all my life!?  The tea has such a wonderfully sweet, soothing flavor.  As an added bonus, I also learned today that chamomile is used as an herbal home remedy for a number of different ailments, including anxiety, insomnia, upset stomach, and skin irritation.  ah, the wonders of tea.

the perfect tent for summer fun

now that it’s starting to get warm outside, i have a serious case of summer fever.   i can’t wait for warm summer days at the beach, road trips, and outdoor concerts.  however, one of the fun things about waiting for summer is also shopping for summer.  besides a new 50’s-style swimsuit (which I have yet to find!), i’ve now added this awesome retro-inspired tent to my must-have list.  i love the airy, vintage-style fabric and simplicity of the design.  although i’m not sure how warm this would keep me during a cold adirondack night, its perfect for a music festival or day trip to the park.

 from cath kidston, available at freepeople.com for $120.

new mexican restaurant opens in dumbo

dumbo is a lot of things – charming belgian block streets, historic architecture, a thriving arts  community – but one of the largely-lacking features is food choices.  don’t get me wrong, the restaurants here are pretty good, but they’re severely limited; so i was super excited when i heard about a new mexican restaurant opening at 5 front street, gran/electrica.

after a couple weeks of anticipation, i finally had the chance try this place out, and i wasn’t disappointed.  the decor is low-key with exposed brick and hardwood floors.  there’s a fully-stocked bar with a variety of tequila cocktails and spanish / portuguese wines (i had the rioja and it was quite good). the menu consists of mostly small plates meant for sharing and a few larger options.  my favorite dish was the fish tacos, made with lightly fried sea bass and crisp cabbage.  i also liked the ceviche.  they mention that local/fresh ingredients are used whenever possible, and i could really taste the freshness on this dish.  plates range from about $6 to $18, and are traditional mexican (not tex-mex as the waiter assiduously pointed out to us).

overall, the food is nicely-balanced and not too heavy, the ambiance is chill, and the service is friendly.  this is the type of place you’ll want to take your manhattan friends when you convince them to visit you in brooklyn.  highly recommended.

brian cox, the chillest physicist

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0S3RlHTPSI]

i’ve been watching a lot of the science channel lately, and my favorite show (besides morgan freeman’s through the wormhole) is wonders of the universe, starring professor brian cox, physicist extraordinaire.  i can always count on cox’s british accent to soothe me slowly to sleep.  and that’s not to say that the show is boring – quite the contrary – its thought-provoking and cinematically-interesting.  some of the space footage and camera work is really amazing, and cox’s narration comes across as larger than life as he discusses the galaxy and how it relates to humanity.  grab a glass of wine and cuddle up on the couch while you check this show out – you’ll be reminded how wonderous our world really is, which can be so easy to forget sometimes (especially if you’re a busy new yorker).