El Nuevo Caridad, Camaradas El Barrio, Spanish Harlem (SpaHa), NYC
May 8, 2013
*thank you Joe for another hilarious post, you have outdone yourself this time. LMAO*
To try to change things up a bit, the Fam and I decided to venture out to a part of the city we NEVER go to – East Harlem. Yes, el Barrio! For some reason, we assume that Joe’s family is from around here and that Mexico and Puerto Rico are the same, but NO to both. For the record, Joe is NOT Mexican (therefore Ariba! Ariba! means nothing to him) and he was raised in a magical place called The Gardens in Northern New York.
Anyway back to our night in the “hood”. Joe and I met up first, ran some errands and jumped on the 6 to 116th Street (yes, the same 6 Jenny used to ride). When we finally got to our stop, Joe assumed that his heavily practiced “swag walk” would help us blend in; luckily he grew tired of walking like a buffoon after about 15 seconds and decided to walk normal again.
We finally arrived at our first of two spots – El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant. We walked in, settled at the bar (while waiting for Ant and Vlad) and asked the bartender if they had any happy hour specials going on. Excited to hear that there were, we asked what was on happy hour and the bartender turned around to look at something (what he looked at, we have no clue, he just turned around to look at his bar), turned back to us and said “EVERYTHING!” We just ordered a couple of Jamesons on the rocks.
Ant was the next one to arrived, and luckily not overdressed with his usual suit. He saw the Johnny Walker Blue on the Top shelf and asked if Joe could ask the bartender how much a glass was. Not sure if he thought English in East Harlem is different than “regular” Manhattan, but Joe obliged. The bartender warned us that the Blue was not on Happy Hour (still not sure if he even knew what Happy Hour was) and told us it was “TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS!” (mind you JWB usually goes for $50 a glass in the rest of “regular” Manhattan). Just in case Ant didn’t understand…Joe translated “He said, it’s TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS!” Ant found his drink for the night.
Vlad, not surprisingly, was the last to arrive. To prove he was “down” he wore a Windbreaker over his work clothes..yep, Vlad was HOOD now. Anyway, he ordered his drink, we closed up the tab which was ridiculously cheap for what we drank (we’re definitely hanging in the hood more often) and headed over to the restaurant side for dinner. We were immediately seated and ordered a ton of food. Again, we relied on Joe for suggestions, few of which we actually listened to. The food itself a bit salty, but ok and definitely not as cheap as the drinks. Outside of having to use an intercom to be let into the bathroom, dinner was pretty uneventful. We finished up our food, got the check and headed off to our next venue.
Instead of heading over to a safer part of the city, we (well, actually I, since I chose the venue without anyone’s input) decided to be adventurous and head further East – yes, farther away from people and the subway. We went to this bar/lounge for their Throwback/ Flashback/ Rewind/ Old School (whatever you want to call it) Wednesday Party. When we walked in, it looked more like a reunion of “Fat Albert and the Gang” – a man with a surgical mask, a chubby kid with a tucked in sweater and even Fat Albert all seemed to be partying there. We ordered our drinks and sat at an available table by the dance floor. The one Asian couple eventually made their way near us as if to think we would have their back if something were to go down – not knowing Joe would use them as shields while making his escape.
Anyway, we ended the night with some old school classics and dancing (well, I danced). The night ended, as it usually does. Joe grew bored, annoyed and got up to leave…yeah, poor fella doesn’t have the stamina he used to – must be the working from home.
Chobani Soho Yelp Event
Chobani Soho, Manhattan, NYC
May 13, 2013
After my dinner with Jeff and Alain, I headed down to the Yelp event at the Chobani in Soho to give it a try for the first time. I had passed the store before and was always intrigued on a shop completely dedicated to the creamy yogurt treat.
The first time I tried the thick creaminess of Greek yogurt was while vacationing in Greece years back. It was so different from the yogurt I was used to. It had heft and was nicely dense and really satisfying. I was hooked, and once I got home, Chobani yogurt was in rotation for my morning breakfast treat.
That being said, finding out about a Chobani store in Soho was quite exciting. I had the opportunity to try out a number of their concoctions at the Yelp event and was not disappointed at all. My favorite was the PB and J one. Peanut butter, peanuts, grape jelly and plump juicy grapes on top of delicious Chobani yogurt, now that was a treat! I think this will always be my go to one due to its perfect mix of sweet and savory.
I am also a container junkie so I loved the reusable glass bowls that the yogurt came in. With the free sample and the goodie bag (I love goodie bags!!!) which contained another bowl and a bag of Turkish Pistachios, I am happy to have added a couple of these little glassware to my kitchen and I am sure I will be back for more yogurt and bowls in the future.
Quick and fun Yelp event for a Monday night (why oh why, do I keep going out on Mondays tho!!! LOL) and being Elite has its privileges!
Bonchon with Alain and Jeff
Bonchon Midtown West, Manhattan, NYC
May 13, 2013
Alain has never tried KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) and after our last get together at Blockheads we put it on the calendar for him to try. Jeff was able to join us as well so 3 out of the 4 travelers to Amsterdam and Belgium were in attendance. We caught up on everything from work and reminisced about our Amsterdam and Belgium trip back in 2008. It’s funny, I had only met Jeff a couple times prior to our trip (once at my housewarming on the Upper East Side, and another time at a night out clubbing in the city) but travelling with him and the other guys in Europe was super fun and comfortable. Jeff has a real laid back west coast personality (even a bit of a surfer accent funny enough) and we got along right away.
Overall, Alain enjoyed his first taste of Korean Fried Chicken and we are going to try to convince Kaven (our fourth European trip companion who I met for the first time that trip) to join us next time when we plan on going out for Korean BBQ. Travelling with these guys made them my lifelong friends and we will always have that week in Europe to connect us!
Happy Mothers Day!!!
Gyu-Kaku Times Square, AMC Times Square
May 12, 2013
To celebrate Mothers Day, we took Mom out for some yummy Japanese BBQ and the new movie in theaters, Gatsby. Gyu-Kaku is always a fun place and it was an experience cooking our own meats and throwing some smores on the fire afterwards. We gave Mom her card and gift, an Amethyst tennis bracelet (her birthstone). She loved both and it was a great start to a beautiful Spring day.
Unfortunately, we had not planned for such a beautiful weather day (though a bit windy) and spent the rest of the afternoon at the movies. Ant and I goofed around as usual with the games and movie props/posters. Finally, we watched Gatsby and I must say, Leonardo diCaprio can do no wrong in my book!
Fun family day celebrating the woman who gave us life! Happy Mothers Day Mom! :)
Long Island, NY
May 4, 2013
Maria’s sister Karen was throwing a backyard party for her daughter Victoria’s baptism and it could not have been a more beautiful Saturday to have it. I made the trek from Long Island City to Harlem to pick up my Mom’s car and then made the drive out to Long Island for the festivities.
(BTW, Mom’s new BMW is a nice ride, but it was quite funny trying to start it when I first got in. It has a push button starter so there was alot of turning on and off the car before I finally got it to start. Driving it to LI was lots of fun though!)
Karen and Mauricio set up a tent in the backyard and there was quite a spread of favors and decorations! Complete with bar, DJ, and lots of yummy food, this was quite a celebration. I performed my photographer duties and they definitely put me to work! It was a fun event though and I had a great time!
Congratulations Baby Victoria on your Baptism!!!
Toshi’s Living Room, ilili Restaurant
May 1, 2013
We have a Miami trip planned for Memorial Day weekend so that will be our more formal wedding anniversary celebration (yum Prime 112) but we decided to do drinks and dinner in NYC the night of just for good measure.
We started off the evening at Toshi’s Living Room where we got to hear some live music and were treated to some celebratory champagne on the house. After some wangs and a few drinks we started walking over to Sushi Samba for dinner, but made a last minute decision to do dinner at ilili instead. As we started walking back we passed a building that I recognized as where cousin Vrad works. Bron said he didn’t think so, but funny enough, who was walking out of said building other than Vrad himself! Talk about a coincidence!
We chatted it up with Vrad for a bit then headed over to ilili for some more grub and drinks. Another year down and looking forward to celebrating it right in Miami with some sun and beach!
Burritos with Alain
Blockheads Restaurant, Midtown East, NYC
April 29, 2013
Even though I am not a fan of Monday outings and I was starting to feel a cold coming on (or maybe it was just allergies), I decided to suck it up and meet up with my favorite Electrical Engineering classmate from college, Alain. It almost didn’t happen since I had a crazy day at work, but luckily I was able to finally get out of there and head up to midtown for a quick dinner. We had been chatting about burritos since the prior week (I had missed out on Messican happy hour with him and Jeff the week before) and finally were able to meet up to chow down on the yummy Messican treat. Over burritos and sodas we caught up on current events in our lives (Alain is engaged and getting married in the Fall!) as well as reminisced about college and our trip with Jeff and Kaven to Amsterdam and Belgium back in 2008. We also chatted about work and it was really nice being able to talk to someone who can relate and is in the IT field as well (Alain works at Bloomberg).
I was so happy that we got to meet up and it was a great way to start the week. Looking forward to our next dinner, Korean Fried Chicken is next on the agenda!
Valentina and Victoria’s Photo Shoot
Long Island City, NY
April 28, 2013
My friend and sorority sister from college (pledge mom to be exact!), Maria, has seen my pics of my little nieces, nephews, Godchildren and other little kids on Facebook and asked me if I would mind taking pics of her two nieces, Victoria and Valentina. Of course I was flattered and happy to oblige and on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Maria, her sister Karen and the two girls came for their photo shoot!
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day in New York. The weather was beautiful and the kids were happy and ready to have their pictures taken. There were many wardrobe and prop changes and I took tons of pictures of the kids in my courtyard, rec room, roof and the nearby waterfront park.
We ended the day with a late lunch at the nearby cuban restaurant and they were nice enough to treat me to a yummy mojito and sandwich. Fun day of photography and even though kids (and animals) are the toughest to take pictures of, they are also the most fun and photograph the best!
Flying, Shopping and Crabbing…A Typical Saturday in Long Island!
Heritage Flight Academy, Tanger Outlets, Joe’s Crab Shack
April 27, 2013
*Blog post courtesy of Mr. Joe Moran, thas wassup!*
It was three months since we purchased Ant’s birthday gift and FINALLY, he was going to get to enjoy it. The Fam decided to do something a bit different and got him an introductory flying lesson at the Heritage Flight Academy over by Long Island MacCarther Airport; but because of weather issues and conflicting schedules, we were never able to make it out there until now. Since enough time and Hifza’s “birthday”) passed, Joe figured he would get the same thing for Hifza. Not only would this be a great gift, but having two separate lessons would allow four of us to enjoy the experience – I would be Ant’s guest on his less, and Joe, Hifza’s.
Both lessons would occur simultaneously, however because of a packed schedule, we would need to be at the Academy at 10 AM. Ant picked up Hifza up first, and even with GPS, decided to “get lost” – yep we were going to be late! While Joe and I waited by my ‘hood, we decided to be useful and get everyone breakfast. Understandably, Joe was a bit “out of it” as he had to wake up earlier to take care of some work related responsibilities beforehand. I should have remembered this and be the one to place our breakfast orders, but I was a bit too slow as the man behind the deli counter turned to Joe for the order. “TWO!” was all Joe could muster up from his extensive vocabulary before turning to me looking defeated, hoping I would step in and complete the order. I did! We got our food and then waited for Ant and HIfs outside. They finally arrived and we were off to Long Island.
A little after 10, the Academy called Joe reminding him of the packed schedule and asking for our ETA. They informed him that would have to begin the lessons immediately after arriving. At about 10:15 we finally pulled into the parking lot and as Joe tried his best to hurry us along, we casually strolled our way over to the entrance, as if being fashionably late was acceptable ALL THE TIME. Knowing we were in a hurry, three of us STILL needed to “use the bathroom” (you can guess the three delinquents), holding us up even further. After about ten minutes of waiting, Joe was asked to round us up because we were at a point where they would have to cancel our lessons if we didn’t get going soon. Like a bunch of rowdy High School punks hanging out in the hallways during class, we were picked up and escorted to our respective flight instructors. Joe and Hifza with the female instructor, while Ant and I with the male. The lesson itself lasted only half an hour as compared to the usual one hour lesson, but it was amazing. Both Ant and Hifza took control of their respective planes and outside of a little nausea for Joe and me, things went smoothly. After the lesson, we took some pictures and the male instructor was able to hang around to chat and answer our questions. Hifza thought the lesson was so “amazing” that she needed to “get a motorcycle now!” Puzzled we all turned to Hifza for an explanation – unfortunately, we are still waiting for one that makes sense. The instructor spoke a little more about the academy and possibly getting our Pilot’s license and again Hifza chimed in – “that’ll be so cool, we can fly to Mexico!” Again puzzled, we turned to her and she quickly answered “Oh, there are bigger planes that we can take to Mexico; these are not the only planes available!” Something in the air during the lesson must have affected Hifza and she was obviously not well. We needed to get out of there quickly and said our goodbyes. We were off to Part 2 of the day.
Part two was my least favorite part of the day! We were heading off to Tanger outlets for some….ugh….Shopping!! Ant wanted to buy a pair of shoes that he already had picked out, however Hifza wanted to “visit” seven different stores and even suggested we split up to cover more ground. OH MY GOD, I was going to get sick! Thinking quickly, I concocted a plan. I would make sure we would not eat anything after the lesson and while shopping. I knew this would make Joe so cranky, that he would be unbearable while shopping and we would have to leave to go eat. Although Joe started to get a bit cranky, no plan was needed. We did leave within two hours, which I think was pretty reasonable. **Note to self – Hifza LOVES Michael Kors, take her there first. She will wear herself out, buy everything in sight, and wouldn’t need to go elsewhere.**
Ahhh..the final part of the day….FOOD! We all agreed ahead of time that we were going to try Joe’s Crab Shack since it was on our way back home. However, what we failed to realize was that the restaurant was an hour away from the outlets….uh oh, exactly, Joe was not happy!! Forty-five minutes into our drive Joe suggested someone call the restaurant to have our name put down on the waiting list. Joe and I already knew they wouldn’t take reservations but he figured the restaurant wouldn’t have a problem if we were already on our way. After what seemed like twenty minutes of searching, Hifza finally found the number and called - “Do you take reservations?” she asked “Oh ok”, and hung up. What was that?? Twenty minutes of searching for a ten second conversation. Disappointed, Joe remarked “Wow…there was so much more you could have done with that conversation!” and forced her to call back with specific questions to ask - How long is the wait? Could we be put on the list? Unfortunately, the wait was forty-five minutes and they wouldn’t put our name down over the phone. Joe grew agitated and I knew we were running out of time! Luckily, we arrived shortly after and decided to let me out first to run in and put our names down while the rest of them looked for parking. I guess no one figured to look left as there were tons of parking spots available just a few feet away. Anyway, the wait itself wasn’t bad…they estimated thirty minutes as opposed to the original forty-five, so we decide to order drinks and appetizers at the bar while we waited for our table. We barely waited the full thirty before we were called to be seated…our appetizers weren’t even out yet!
Although the restaurant was filled with shady characters, we had lots of fun. It was good that we went on empty stomachs and near death because there was just so much food!!! Was the food tasty? Eh, it was ok..but there was just so much – lobster, crab, coconut shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp… tons of it!! It was also good that no one was really celebrating their birthdays because if it was your birthday, the restaurant staff would force you to do perform some ridiculously cheesy activity – like flap your arms like a chicken, “walk the runway” or shake your booty. I guess what is considered entertainment in Long Island is a bit different than the city. I’ll admit, we did have fun pointing and laughing at the “birthday” people though.
Unfortunately our “Day of Fun” had to come to an end! We finished up dinner, hopped in the car and headed home. Overall an amazing and…well tiring day. Can’t wait for the next one!
Date Night at Cranky’s
April 26, 2013
Quiet evening out with the hubby…mac and cheese, wine and beer, some crabcakes and some BBQ brisket. A big full moon on the walk home ended a nice night out.
Republic with Lasherelle and Roz
Republic, Union Square, NYC
April 24, 2013
Lash, Roz and I are trying to make sure that our dinners together don’t just happen on the holidays so we had put dinner on the calendar during our last meetup at Roz’s place weeks ago. Unfortunately you can’t really plan how a preggie lady is going to be feeling from day to day, so that afternoon Lasherelle wasn’t feeling well and needed to cancel. She had everything from donuts to wraps to thai food in her system from just the morning and no one to blame other than herself. Baby was not feeling all that variety! LOL.
I decided to still try to meet up with Roz for a little while and was craving some spicy duck noodles so Republic in Union Square it was. I emailed Lasherelle to tell her to feel better and that she will be missed since me and Roz would still be hanging out, but her FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) got the best of her and she decided to push though and come join us for a bit.
Luckily service at Republic is super fast and she was still able to hang out and get home at a decent time. We caught up very quickly on the past few weeks and heard the most hilarious story from Roz about her having to pick up her 22 year old son from Brooklyn (they live in Harlem) because he got too drunk to get home on his own (did I mention that they don’t have a car and Roz had to pick him up by subway??? LOL) I think next time I have a few too many I will just call Roz for that “ride” home. :) Always makes for good stories tho! Till the next time!
Draft Party with Ant, Hifs and Wyeth
EVR, Manhattan, NYC
April 22, 2013
Even though it was a Monday and I don’t like going out Mondays, I made an exception for this party that I went to of the same kind last year with Isaac. Though the party itself wasn’t all that great (fake open bar, we kept inquiring but none of the bartenders were aware of anything of the sort) and no football players to be seen, we still had a great time because, well we always have a great time when we hang out together :)
Ant and I got there first and it was a pretty space. They just opened for the evening and there was no coat check but we found a space across the bar to hang out. A server walked around with some free Bartenura (similar to prosecco) for the ladies which was tasty, but the only freebee of the evening from EVR.
Wyeth came next and we joked about he was the only one that looked like he could be a football player there. We enjoyed scotches and vodkas and some good R&B from the 90s and 2000s. Reminded me of my nights out at Aubette, Naked Lunch, Funky Buddha and the infamous Metronome :)
Finally Hifza joined and we chatted about every and anything, danced a bit, laughed alot and enjoyed a great time. We stayed out way longer than expected and finally went our separate ways. Fun time with a subset of the fam and definitely worth the going out on a Monday :)
Sunday Seafood with Mom and Rick
Waterfront Crab House, Long Island City, NY
April 21, 2013
Mom, Rick and I spent Sunday supper in the neighborhood at the Crabhouse. Bron unfortunately was still en route home from Williamsburg and Ant was “tired” from going to a hockey game (I guess there was crowd participation, because why else would he be so “tired” SMH.) Anyway, we still had a nice time the three of us talking about everything from healthcare to city jobs and all the while indulging in lots and lots of seafood. I ordered the king crab leg scampi and it was quite a generous portion. YUM! So buttery and garlicky and I gobbled as much as my belly could fit. Thanks Mom and Rick for a yummy meal and good company before the start of another workweek!
Saturday Movie and Brooklyn Fun
Kips Bay Theater, An Nhau, Brooklyn Brewery, Berry Park
April 20, 2013
Joe, Ant and I decided to catch an early movie and settled on “42”, the Jackie Robinson story. Well, not necessarily settled, more like Joe would not see any other movie so it was our only choice (It is funny to see how worked up Joe gets when he does not get his way). We met up before the movies and got some sandwiches, snacks and “small” drinks (Joe actually got a 2-liter all to himself) to sneak into the theater. The movie itself was really good, but I’m not a movie critic so I will save my review for another time.
After the movie, Ant had to go to work, while Joe and I were heading over to the Brooklyn Brewery for a get-together organized by our mutual friend, Renny. However, before Brooklyn, Joe needed his weekly haircut. YES! I was so excited; I would be witnessing one of Joe’s secret rituals. We walked over to his “spot” and I waited while his barber did his magic! Joe felt a bit awkward with me being there, as he’s never had someone wait for him. He even suggested I “get my nails done”, but no, I needed to see this. It was fun seeing how Joe maintains his everyday sexiness (almost like that part wasn’t written by me, I will let you guess who the main author of this post is…)
After the haircut, Joe and I decided to head to Brooklyn for a few drinks and snacks before the Brewery. One of the few times either of us has ever ventured into that area, which I believe they call Williamsburg?? It was a bit different than our norm. Like sewer rats, people flooded the streets with no actual destination in site – just aimlessly walking as “walking the streets” was an acceptable activity. Joe and I finally settled on this little bar/restaurant in the hood. We ordered our usual Glennfiddich – which was ridiculously inexpensive, and a sugarcane shrimp appetizer to share. Everything was pretty good and CHEAP. I think I could get used to this (however, I am far from hipster enough for this area.)
We closed up our tab and walked over to the Brewery. There was a LINE and I don’t normally do lines, but we were already there, so we decided to wait. On line, I confirm that the Brewery serves nothing but beer (no, the name BROOKLYN BREWERY wasn’t a clue at all), so I wasn’t really too excited to be on this line. After about 20 minutes we were finally let in. Joe was a bit worried as he left his ID at home, but the bouncer was excited to let Joe in (actually…the bouncer laughed at Joe when he thought he didn’t look old enough to get let in without ID. Joe’s feelings were hurt and he spent the rest of the afternoon asking me if this person or that person looked older or younger than him. smh) The Brewery apparently needed some sexiness in there (I SO did not write that). We met up with Renny and random Phi Chi Brothers who suggested we not get “Beer Tokens”; as they were finishing up and we would be going to a less-crowded venue. We settled on Berry Park.
We made our way over to Berry Park and Joe was again worried about his lack of ID, but this was yet another venue needing to spice things up, so he was practically escorted in. In fact, they let all of us in after Joe, without a problem (actually…the same age issue uncovered…Joe is no longer youthful looking enough to require carding. awww.) We got our drinks and found a table. We tried going to the roof, but it was a bit crowded, so we settled on a table downstairs. For a while it was Joe, Renny, I and a bunch of the younger guys (kids born in the 90s, who actually tried to holler..SMH); but a couple of the older guys Joe actually pledged with, Jasper and Dan, eventually showed up. We flagged down a waitress and ordered some food (yes, MORE FOOD). We drank, ate, chatted, took pictures and had a great time. Our waitress however, did keep Joe on a short leash – getting upset if he went to the bar and even forcing Joe to give her a shot he ordered for me. Is there such a thing as a bar wife? If so, that is how she was behaving towards Joe. I also noticed Joe finishing his drinks as is he was drinking juice, so I knew DRUNK (ANGRY) JOE was just around the corner, too bad I was leaving soon and wouldn’t be witnessing it (NOT! oh yes, I witnessed it…the stumbling up the stairs, the trying to start fights with the poor nerdy hipsters at the bar, the swaying and crankiness). We eventually closed up our tab downstairs and made our way to the roof. I stayed for a drink and made my way home, leaving a “soon to be drunk” (more like drunk and angry) Joe with a bunch of guys who probably make it out once a year…kind of a scary scenario. Oh well…
All in all it was still a fun day, I actually might put Williamsburg in rotation in the future. Can’t wait till the weather gets nicer and more outdoor fun continues!