life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

for my darling daughter

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

of mountains and molehills

I feel like I'm in the middle of an episode of "The Odd Couple".

Drew and his roommate have been friends since the 70's, have been living together since the 90's.

They had an argument the other day about household chores, mostly about taking out the garbage.  and it escalated...

OMG, it's like WW III ...

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

So I was standing in King Kullen Friday when my cell phone began to ring.  It was Becca.  She wanted to know if Drew and I were interested in seeing Tony Bennett in concert.    Seems she won a pair of tickets.  Seems she was trying to win basketball tickets for her boyfriend the Knicks fan, but somehow wound up with tickets to a concert that was more my taste than hers.

You don't want to know what those "free" tickets cost us.  The concert was held in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which is in Newark, over an hour's drive away, plus tolls and parking.

Neither of us had ever been to the NJPAC, so just exploring the venue was a new experience.  I kept saying to Drew that it reminded me of a mini Lincoln Center, not in terms of architectural style, but in terms of scope, tone, etc.  Drew told me he was thinking of Carnegie Hall.  The main theater, the Prudential, holds 2800 people.  There are three smaller theaters and two restaurants on site -- make reservations if you want to eat at one of the restaurants, we wound up eating sandwiches from the bar/refreshment stand.

3,000 seats at Westbury Music Fair, theater in the round, a very intimate performance.  2,800 seats in the Prudential, traditional proscenium stage, tiers of seating (we sat in the second tier), a very grand performance.

The opening act was Antonia Bennett, Tony's daughter.A lovely young woman, but unfortunately she doesn't have the stage presence or the voice to command the venue.  While she was singing, the "gentleman" seated behind me kept talking, and at one point he said, loud enough to be heard by most of our section, "Where's your daddy?"

She sang for about 20 minutes, then introduced her father.

Tony Bennett is 86 now, and still able to perform a show.  He sang for a little over an hour.  Sorry to say, he's not as good as he used to be.  Very charismatic, but the voice....he's getting by on magnetism and memories.  Still very entertaining.   Though I was very impressed when, at the end of the show, he turned off his microphone and sang "Fly Me To The Moon", and could be heard in every seat in the house.

Not sorry I went, of course.  It was an entertaining evening overall.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ayhan's Shish Kebab

When we first ate here, a little over a year ago, the place was called Trodos Mediterranean Restaurant. We knew it would be good. It's a sister restaurant to Ayhan's Mediterranean Restaurants, in several locations around Long Island. They changed the name recently, and now it's called Ayhan's Shish Kebab.

The Westbury location is relatively small, with touches of Greek fishing village in the room. We dined by candlelight.

The menu features grilled meats and seafood as well as a few traditional Greek dishes. Our meal began with Turkish pita bread, which is a softer bread than traditional pita, served with a garlicky tzaziki for dipping. We chose saganaki as our appetizer -- mozarella and feta melted together and served with bread toasted to the consistency of croutons. Greek salad followed - chopped salad and feta in vinagarette. Didn't care for one of the herbs in the dressing. But honestly I could have made a meal out of these first courses.

Main course -- Drew had the mixed grill, a combination of various meats and chicken, served with rice pilaf and sauteed vegetables. I chose the kebab trio, which turned out to be a misnomer. There was a skewer of steak and mushrooms, a skewer of chicken and mushrooms, a skewer of shrimp and a skewer of grilled vegetables, served over rice pilaf and accompanied by sauteed vegetables. Steak was a little dry and might have benefitted from more of that tzaziki. But overall an excellent meal, with plenty of leftovers to enjoy later. Definitely one of our favorites.

Trodos Mediterranean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

mother=chief problem solver

All hail the chief.


I was in my office in Jersey City, a rare thing since my life as a telecommuter began.  Jen called me and sent me texts like crazy.  Seems that when she arrived at work she discovered her car had a flat tire. she's not a AAA member, how was she going to get help?  She didn't realize her car insurance comes with emergency roadside service.  I'm sure I told her so several times, but who pays attention to what mom has to say?

I was on my way home when Becca started texting me.    Becca is in Washington, DC right now, attending a "leadership conference" which included attendance at the Inauguration on Monday.  Her bank called her, to tell her that her debit card was used fraudulently and was therefore cancelled, and that they'd be sending her a replacement card in 3-5 days.  Fortunately she already has her plane ticket home and enough money with her to take care of incidentals.  She doesn't have enough money to pay for the car service from the airport to her apartment, and she needs cash for food and whatever until she can get access to her bank account again.  So her aunt is picking her up at the airport and I've given said aunt cash to give to my child.

I feel bad for Becca.  This is the second time she's had her card number stolen.  Last year it happened when she was visiting a friend in Philadelphia, and she was able to get home because she already had her bus ticket but was in dire need of cash.  Deja vu.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea . . .

So. . .feeling a little melancholy about our cancelled cruise . . . We decide we really need some seafood. We have lots of choices . . . Local places like Southside Fish & Clam or Louie's Port Washinton. . . Chains like Legal Seafood and Joe's Crab Shack . . .love them all, but our "go-to" place seems to be Red Lobster. The mother of all seafood chains has become our default setting.

The place is always crowded, the lobby area overflowing with would-be diners. There is almost always a wait for a table. You can amuse yourself by watching the lobsters in the tank, and when that "excitement" wears off, scan the bar code on your pager and you can get a cute trivia game on your phone.

We were really in need of some fruity, tropical concoctions. He ordered sangria, red wine mixed with fruit juices in a glass decorated with a slice of orange, a slice of lime and a strawberry. I ordered my usual . . .I think it's called a sunset passion colada, a pina colada with a swirl of strawberry, served in a tall glass with a slice of pineapple. Both were excellent.

We both started with the pretty standard garden salad and the famed cheesy biscuits. The biscuits are light and fluffy and have a subtle cheese flavor.

The combos we'd ordered on previous occasions are no longer on the menu, but have been replaced by other offerings. I ordered "the ultimate feast". This included a lobster tail, a small portion of crab legs, some fried shrimp and shrimp scampi. I'm not crazy about the scampi -- the shrimp they use in this dish are very small and tend to be overpowered by the sauce. I chose wild rice pilaf as my side - while it was very good, I think it was a little heavy to go with a seafood feast.

He ordered a combo which included a lobster tail, grilled shrimp and grilled scallops. It is served with two sides -- the rice pilaf and broccoli, but you can order different sides if you like. He asked for mashed potatoes, which were rich and creamy.

As always, we brought about half of our meal home. Skipped dessert in favor if some yummy ice cream in the freezer at home.

Still working on those midwinter blues, but last night's dinner surely helped . . .

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 19, 2013

And the quest continues

Shake Shack. Interesting name for a burger joint. We'd walked past the one in NYC but the lines were always discouraging. Menu looked good, though.

So when they opened one in our stomping grounds . . .in a free standing building at the new Gallery shopping center in Westbury . . .we had to go.

Line was pretty long when we got there, and was literally out the door within a few minutes. But it does move quickly. You order at the counter and you're given a buzzer, like many other restaurants use to let you know your table is ready. When the buzzer goes off you pick up your tray at the counter and try to find a seat. We didn't feel like fighting the crowds, and opted to order our meal "to go".

The lunch/dinner menu is very limited, your options are burgers, hot dogs, and a burger made out of a portobello mushroom. The only "side" is fries; they're crinkle cut and crispy, just the way we like them. Drew ordered a hot dog with several toppings. I got a Shackburger --cheeseburger on a toasted potato roll served with lettuce, tomato and Shack Sauce -- a seasoned mayo. Burgers are cooked "medium" unless you order otherwise. I added bacon to mine, and it was crispy and tasty.

The main attraction here, though, are the shakes and custards. Very extensive menu. You can order a variety of "mix ins" if you want to turn your custard into a "concrete". Drew ordered a strawberry shake and I ordered a black and white.

Now I am about to utter what may be considered heresy. We liked this place better than Bobbys Burger Palace. A lot better. Definitely would go again. And again. And again.
Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 18, 2013


This commercial is pure torture:

We were booked on the Carnival Liberty for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise for mid February.  Drew is a teacher, we can only vacation when schools are closed, and around here schools close for a week at President's Day.

But Hurricane Sandy...the schools all had to cancel February break....

So we had to cancel our cruise.

We re-booked for August.  But that's so very far away.

Monday, January 14, 2013

food o'clock

Found this on Facebook perfect.  It seems that lately Mr. Kitty has become my "breakfast buddy".  I am not allowed to leave the house to go to work unless there is cat food in Mr. Kitty's bowl.  He doesn't actually wake me up, but he sits by my door waiting for me to get up, then comes into my room to keep me company while I dress.  Our other cat, Redford, prefers to sleep in, but Mr. Kitty ... food is love, and he needs a lot of love. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

So excited for Becca

Back in high school Becca participated in a leadership conference in Washington, DC.   There were events such as a model Congress and speakers including Congressmen, lobbyists and other Washington politicos. She got to meet students from all over the country.  It was a freat experience.

Last summer the compaby tgat ran the conference sent out invitations to formers participants, now college students, inviting them to participate in a similar conference during the presidential inauguration in January 2013. Becca is a political science major, and this sounded like a wonderful opportunity.  Of course, at the time we didn't know who would win the election . . .

She's flying down next Saturday.  The conference includes activities involving the inauguration.  Jeb Bush and Jesse Jackson are scheduled to address the participants.  Five days of political excitement . . .

I'm jealous.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I swear I didn't mean to do it, but. . .

So Thursday night Jen came home drop-dead tired.  They've extended her hours at the nursery school, and left her in charge of a classroom for 3 days when the teacher she assists became ill.  She's also been coaching her cheerleaders, preparing for their next competition.  And the girls cheered at a basketball game Thursday night.  Jen came home around 9 and was in bed by 10.

Ditto for me.  Long week at work, couldn't keep my eyes open, in bed by 10 and fast asleep by 10:15.

Not so Becca.  She's still on Christmas break.  Classes start Monday.  She spent Thursday evening at her boyfriend's house, just hanging out. 

She came home around midnight, maybe a little later.  I must have woken up when she got home because I heard her come into the house and say something to my night owl sister.  But I rolled over and went back to sleep . . .for about 15 minutes, when she came into my room to ask me for money.  I told her I'd deal with it in the morning . . .

Then she went to the bedroom she shares with Jen.  Next thing I knew, Jen was cursing a blue streak about how inconsiderate Becca was . . .

. . .I had a moment where I thought "Maybe I should wake Becca up tomorrow morning," but I dismissed the thought . . .

So Friday morning I went about my usual "get ready for work" routine.  And when I heard Jen get up and head for the bathroom . . .I remembered that Becca asked me for some cash.  So I pulled a little bit of money out of my wallet to put on her night table before I left for the day.  I swear I was being quiet . . . I really didn't intend to wake her up . . .

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bobbys Burger Palace

In our quest for the best cheeseburger on Long Island, tonight we had to try Bobbys Burger Palace.

Located at Roosevelt Mall but not "in" the mall -- you enter from the parking lot -- this place is a cut above fast food. You order at the counter, then find a seat at one of the long, counterlike tables. Your food is brought to you on real plates, not paper.

Although there are other options on the menu, burgers are the obvious stars. I ordered the Miami Burger, which is a take on a Cuban sandwich -- the burger is topped with ham, cheese and pickles. This is not a sloppy, juicy burger. It's a thick and flavorful patty. Being a New Yorker, I usually don't put mustard on my burger, and the mustard they use is very spicy.

All burgers can be "crunchified", meaning they're served with potato chips on the patty.

I ordered fries, which were merely ok, but one of our group kept raving about the onion rings -- thick rings of onion in a slightly sweet beer batter.

The vanilla shake with whipped cream was thick and sweet. Maybe next time I'll try it "spiked".

Overall this place was good, and I would not hesitate to eat here again if I happened to be at the mall, but I don't think this is going to become one of our "destination" burger joints.

Bobby's Burger Palace on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anyone want a sofa set?

This one has been sitting in the parking lot at the train station for days.  Interesting how people are so blase, or desperate for a spot, that they'll park next to it.  Can't imagine how it wound up there.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jeff Dunham, P.J. Clarke's and the Big Apple Circus

So New Year's Eve . . . The plan was to have a small get-together at Drew's house. Just a few friends. And then Drew was looking at Stub Hub . . .so at 3PM on 12/31 we found ourselves at the Nassau Coliseum, in front row seats, waiting for a show to begin.

We love Jeff Dunham. My favorites are Achmed the Dead Terrorist and Walter. I loved his joke with Peanut -- Peanut said "I'm going to hell." And Jeff responded "Well, we are near Levittown." Drew, who lives in Levittown, nearly fell off his chair. Great show.

After the show we raced down Hempstead Turnpike to pick up our order for the party.
Zorn's Famous Chicken & Ribs on Urbanspoon
We have been Zorn's customers for years. I can remember when we lived in East Meadow in the early 60's my parents would pick up chicken from Zorn's, and Drew tells me his parents would drive all the way from Deer Park to pick up food. Back then there were live chickens in coops on site.
This was the second year we'd ordered catering from Zorn's for New Years. The package we ordered is supposed to serve 15 but could be stretched to serve 20. Three entrees and three sides. We chose chicken francais, Swedish meatballs and cocktail ribs, accompanied by baked ziti, garlic mashed potatoes and turkey rice pilaf. The cocktail ribs are smaller than the ribs on their regular menu, but are served in the same BBQ sauce. Drew loves the Swedish meatballs, but the most popular item with our guests was the chicken francais. The mashed potatoes were very good, but I would have preferred it if they didn't include pieces of the potato peel.

The butter cookies were very light and sweet; there were no leftovers.

Saturday night we headed into the city. First stop was P.J. Clarke's.
P.J. Clarke's on Urbanspoon
I'd been here with Becca, Drew had been here with Becca, but we'd never been here together. This place is very loud, very noisy and justifiably popular. We got there very early in the evening and had a five minute wait for a table; when we left the lobby area was extremely crowded with patrons waiting for a table.

We were seated near the windows and had a beautiful view of Lincoln Center. We skipped the appetizer. Drew ordered the skirt steak and a side order of onion straws (everything is a la carte -the steaks used to come with a side of fries). I considered the baked macaroni and cheese as an entree, but thought it might be too rich, so I ordered a skirt steak and asked for the macaroni as a side dish. I was right about the macaroni -- it's spiral pasta with bacon and peas in a rich sauce, very good but too rich for an entree. The onion straws were very delicate and not at all greasy. The steaks were tender and cooked perfectly to order (remind me to order my steak "medium" not "medium rare", my tastes have changed over the years.)

I think our waiter must be new on the job. He forgot to ask which sauce we wanted with our steaks, never refilled our soda glasses and didn't offer us a dessert menu.

Then it was time to head over to Lincoln Center for the Big Apple Circus. Kind of weird to find a circus tent buried between the opera house and the ballet theater, but in NYC anything is possible. This is an old fashioned circus, single ring under a tent, we no seat further than 50 feet from the ring, so it's all very intimate. The focus is on acrobats and aerialists, and clowns. They do have animal acts -- oxen to pull the circus cart, performing horses and a dog act where all of the performers were rescued from shelters. Loved the show.

Kudos to the young man playing the sax in the subway station. Perfect choice, Entry of the Gladiators.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

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