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The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

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Raining cats and dogs just doesn’t work when referencing bbq. In the great Meat Off of 2013 I have come to learn more about myself as a foodie:

1. I love vegetables. I eat salad for two days before our bbq dinners.
2. I am a food snob. Manufactured or mass produced bbq is not real bbq. It is suppose to take time.
3. Any articles or headlines referring to the ‘best of’ or ‘top 10’ or ‘must see’ go to my trash. I can not attend or acknowledge any other lists while completing this one.

Week 2: Dinosaur BBQ
Address: 400 West 125th Street, Harlem
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy tone very local train up
First impression: Crowded, I’m soaking wet and where’s the bar
Consumed: spare ribs, brisket, baked beans, pulled pork, colesslaw, mac n’ cheese, friend green tomatoes, bbq chicken, pickles, salt potatoes, corn bread, flavored beer
Highlights: Extremely attentive waitress, the garbage bucket on the table and ribs
Guests: Catherine (longtime friend of Maureen) and Nik (new friend of Catherine’s)

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This is Harlem in the rain, what you can’t see is the sideways rain and the rivers at every corner. Normally, this would not phase me, but I waled the wrong way and had to double my tracks. In the rain. Pouring rain.

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The Dinosaur has a lot of beer options, a lot. We tried Sea Salt Ale by the Fire Island Beer Company, Ithaca Apricot Wheat and Long Train Blackberry Wheat. Further proof that I’m a salt girl.

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Cheers! It’s the day before the 4th of July and we don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

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Hello drink menu and bbq sauce.

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We started with friend green tomatoes and smoked shrimp remoulade.

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Maureen and I shared two pbig plates, this one features the pulled pork sandwhich, salt potatoes and baked beans.

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This plate was the sampler and had roasted bbq chicken, ribs and brisket with side of mac n’ cheese and coleslaw. Again, Maureen doesn’t understand the point of cornbread.

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We were excited to be at week 2 of the Great Meat Off of 2013 and together. And dry.

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Hello Catherine and Nik!

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Catherine ordered a half bbq chicken, mac n’ cheese and the sweat potato mash. She was a happy girl.

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Nik also ordered the pull pork sandwich with coleslaw right on top, french fries and potato salad.

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Best bite. Corn bread and brisket dipped in bbq sauce.

Chow Dinosaur, ‘Cuse will definitely be the next time!

Recently Gothamist posted this article, declaring the top of the top BBQ places in the city. I have to admit that this category of food is not something I would normally be attracted to. Since leaving the Hudson Valley and reunited with the ‘burbs and “the” city the only BBQ I have craved is Max’s wing night.

So with my carnivorous friends came the idea of trying everything on the list. I promise, it’s only week one and I know I will be pushing for a top 10 of veg places next.

Week 1: Fette Sau
Address: 354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy two train commute and then a brief walk to the restaurant.
First impression: Smelled delish, calm before the storm and beer is mason jars
Consumed: short ribs, spare ribs, brisket, rolls, potato salad, baked beans, corn bread, root beer and ale
Highlights: cornbread with brisket baked beans declared favorite bite, rub on the spare ribs, brisket sandwich with extra bbq sauce

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Our friends at Fette Sau are very smart and have a rustic / fun decor. And a cool bar, that counts, too. The beer taps have meat hacking charm. One of those is the Sixpoint called Vienna Ale that was brewed just for Fette Sau, that also makes them very smart.

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This was the tray I ordered for Maureen and I. Don’t judge. I did it for you.

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I think she was happy. It was hard to tell.

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This is a close up of the rub, some goodness was up in there.

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More cool decor and educational! We were able to see and learn what cuts of meat we were eating.

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This was my favorite bite of the entire meal. The baked beans were off the hook. Spicy, slow cooked and chunks of brisket thrown in for good measure. Pictured here on a piece of cornbread.

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Picnic tables inside and out gave for good community and noise.

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This is when we should have stopped, instead we ordered one more beef rib to push us over the edge. It was by the pound.

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This is the bone after we were done with it. In case you can’t tell, as big as my head.

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If you are a condiment girl like myself, you would like the bbq sauce, vinegar sauce and hot sauce. I love sauce.

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Good bye Fette Sau, see you next time!

I moved back to the ‘burbs eleven months ago.

Where did that eleven month chunk of time go exactly?

I must have missed it in-between job searching, resume writing, teaching, freelance projects, American Museum of Natural History, dating, EatDrinkJobs, giving up dairy, finding my friends, throwing people weddings, being Aunt Thea, painting walls, breaking down others, giving gratitude, a craptastic break up, re-writing resumes, cover letters, testing boundaries, wiping tears, interviews, networking, e-mails, Stupid Cancer, throwing things out, planning events and writing thank you notes.

And for my thirty-first birthday my mother gave me a banner that says, “You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha

Love and affection is on the menu for the next eleven months.

I moved out of the “country” house five days ago. And for most of the days since, I have cried my self to sleep. It’s like a bad break up with out the hopes of really good make-up sex.

I knew I was attached to the house, in all of its colorful glory. I knew that I had fallen in love with “the country.” I especially knew how important my “country” friends had become. They are my family, even more so than some blood. We chose to be together.

A series of unfortunate events left me without a lot of choices. And at 30, one has to decide to put some things first. As an unattached babyless renter, your career tends to be the right choice. So I decided to pack up my things and move back to Long Island. For a reorg. A proper job search back in the city. And maybe even a recharge, refocus, regroup.

Dear friends in San Francisco insisted on a visit once the move was over. Smart move. I’ve been in the other coast for a few days now and I for the first time last night I didn’t shed a tear when my head hit the pillow. I was okay. Maybe the bedtime tears have run out. I know the talking about the roommate and the house tears have not. They are still strong and uninterrupted.

So, as the many many many decisions still need to be made as to what is next, there are a few things that are certain:

  • My heart is fuller than it has ever been before.
  • I am absolutely in love with the Hudson Valley.
  • I will carefully look into all career moves with diligence and the emphasis on the right fit.

And I will absolutely continue to believe in my Nana’s words of wisdom, “Thea, you imagine it and then you make it happen.”

 

This year I hope to…

Increase DIYing,  from sauces and breads to time capsules, pasta and rooster sauce and maybe even some coffee liqueur.

Travel.

Conquer everything on Bon Appetite’s 25 things… thinking the biggest challenge is going to be Tasmania.

Be comfortable in a bathing suit on my 30th birthday.

Step out of my comfort zone just because.

Learn how to type on t he new iPhone with only minimal auto-corrects.

Conquer my first class… as a… professor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take more pictures.

Enjoy and get to know Pinterest, Hipstomatic and my google reader better.

Get published in a food publication, online version would suffice.

Limit the people in my life who don’t value our friendship as much as I do and practice what I preach, all relationships have to be mutually beneficial at some point or another.

Accomplish at least five of these financial tips.

Dance around in my underwear [more].

 

Make parmesan crusted goat cheese with basil oil, spiced chai concentrate, vanilla bean syrup, and pork crown roast.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I’m treating my two-year “country” anniversary much like I treat my online dating profile… laundry lists and hopeful daydreaming.

Likes: clean air, baking, trees, the colorful house in Pdub, clear plastic wrap in a box on the counter, really good friends, local brews, cheese, bread, wine, kundalini yoga with Alli at Sacred Space, a porch where the Adirondack chairs sit nicely, mediation and Reiki

Dislikes: lack of 4 am bars / pizza / cabs / city friends / diversity, the baby sister always being at least two hours away, the persistent, “Why did you more here?” questioning, driving in really bad snow, basements with water in them, bugs, wild and most domestic animals, car trouble and not being able to speak car

For fun: Waterfalls, swimming holes, dancing at Bard in the summer, skiing Hunter mountain in the winter, snowshoes, farmers markets, Warren Cutlery and wing nights at Max’s

Interests: Getting smarter, braver, smaller and happier

Exercise habits: yoga, gym against my will, walking and laughing

Favorite hot spots: Keegan Ales in Kingston, 36 Main in New Paltz, Club Helsinki in Hudson and Mercato in Red Hook

Favorite things: cucumbers and tomatoes growing in the yard, meeting Melissa Leo before Tuesday’s showing of Dear Lemon Lema at the Rosendale Theater, Sunday night dinners with a full dinning room table, saying good morning to the Hudson River everyday, Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey and winning a free Hudson Whiskey t-shirt from Tutilltown Distillery as they hit 10k fans on Facebook, kitchen appliances (most important of them all is the KitchenAid mixer) and the roommate when we are in the routine of the week, learning to trust again and updates with the baby sister

What I am looking for: more sunsets over the Hudson, someone to go on roadtrips with, more motivation to frequent the gym, financial security (will settle for lack of financial anxiety)

My relationship with the country has come along way in the last two years and yet, I continue to be a city mouse in the country wondering what is next on the agenda.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. ” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


This city mouse is approaching two years living in the “country” and would like to know when did THAT happen? It must have been somewhere in between food adventures. A wonderful brunch has taken place at Dolce, down by the Roundout.


Dolce’s menu is full of sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches and salads. Dinning with my roommate allows sharing and trying. I ordered the spinach and brie crepe and he ordered the BLT with avocado. upon arrival, the crepe looked like the right size, shape and color.

Um… yum.

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” ~ Julia Child 

Attending the first ever Ramp Fest in Hudson, NY was a moment of clarity in being a “foodie.” It was an amazing compilation of food, friends, music, drinks and RAMPS. For those who need a lil background on ramps, please check out this, this and this.

The most amazing ramp focaccia served with ramp butter from the not yet opened Cafe Le Perche in Hudson, NY. Meeting the executive chef Lisa Brickman was an awesome experience and her enthusiasm for the new bakery and restaurant was infectious. I can not wait to go visit Lisa and her team in June at their boulangerie, bar and patisserie

Fatty ‘Cue in New York City brought one of my most favorite things to the table. Sidebar: one of my favorite cocktail scientists, Jason Littrell, first served me a pickleback while throwing drinks at The Randolph. Jason said, first drink this and then drink that. I did what I was told. And have never been the same. Seeing the two piles of shot glasses lined up, I had a hunch that the guys at Fatty ‘Cue were serving up a treat. Ramp infused pickle juice in the ‘this’ and Wild Turkey whiskey in the ‘that.’

The guys at Fatty ‘Cue / Fatty Crab also served a ramp curry goat dish that was pretty intense.

I think chicken sausage can only be made better by adding ramps.

The classic beggar’s purse tied with ramps, now you are speaking my language.

Dessert can go wrong when adding an onion based flavor, but hey, the guys at Da Ba did it right with ramp lime sorbet. The executive chef told me they serve a sorbet before the final cheese course. I heart cheese.


The steamed clam from great people at The Fat Radish in NYC was wrapped in ramps, peas and white wine. It was delish and wonderful and light. The presentation in the clam shell was perfect for a finger food.

Foodies! at the beautiful Basilica Hudson in Hudson, NY.

After leaving the  Ramp Fest, all high on ramps, I went to Adam’s Fairacre Farms. Once of my most favorite markets to shop. And there for all $11.99 a pound, we my ramps (here soaking off the dirt). Let the ramp-ing begin.


“Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.” ~ William Blake

1. I want to go to Cheese Louise on Route 28 in Kingston. Thanks to Hudson Valley Good Stuff, I came across a new CHEESE store. Cheese and store and new. All in one sentence.

2. I want to order photo note pads. For everyone. Thanks to Joanna at Cup of Jo, who recently posted about Pinhole Press, I will be ordering the ultimate list pad. I just have to decide on a picture. That’s the hard part.

3. I want to eat at 36 Main. My dear friend Derek is the bartender there and after tasting their amazing wine list and signature cocktails, I  need to taste the menu. Chef Adam Steinberg creates interesting and dynamic dinner choices such as Bresaola, a Italian-cured beef, soft goat cheese dressing, baby Arugula and white truffle oil and Orecchietta Fontal, a house-made pasta, creamy Bechamel, wild mushrooms and broccoli raab. I’m coming Derek, I promise.

4. I want to drink a Hemingway Sidecar at Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. Apparently the bar is known for the large televisions on the wall and some younger than desired clientele, but the fancy cocktail menu reminds me of my favorite hole-in-the-walls in the city that I miss 0-so-much.

5. I want to shop at Dig in Saugerties. They have cute clothes in the window. Enough to peak my interest. And on more than one occasion I have asked a girl in a cute top where did she get it and the answer has been, “Dig.”

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