On the Road: Thanksgiving Weekend in New York

Going back to work after a holiday weekend is pretty much the worst thing ever. Okay, I’m sure there are worse things, which I just can’t seem to think of right now.  But, I’m glad to have this day over with.

Anyway.

Chester and I avoided Black Friday shopping and spent the day getting the house all festive for Christmas and went to see the Muppets (if you grew up watching the show, it’s a must see. I’m pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear for most of it). Then, on Saturday, Bridget and I headed up to New York to shop, eat and most importantly, to see Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway. The weather has unseasonably warm around here lately, and while it doesn’t exactly feel like Christmas yet, it made for a great day of walking around the city.

After dropping our bags at our hotel, we headed over to Craftbar, for lunch/belated birthday celebration for me. Craftbar located on Broad is one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants and is located on Broadway, near Union Square.

When we arrived around two, the restaurant was still serving their brunch menu, in addition to the regular menu of snacks, salads, pastas, and entrees. We both ordered from the latter. The server was really knowledgeable about the menu, including recommendations for cocktails and wine. He suggested a red wine for Bridget and helped me decide between the two cocktail options I was considering. I ended up with something that was similar to a Tom Collins, but had earl grey infused gin in it. Refreshing. I can’t remember the name of either. Sorry.

We split an order of pecorino risotto balls, which were served piping hot with a spicy tomato sauce. They reminded us of the rice croquettes that Bridget’s grandmother makes, but the gooey cheese was a nice touch.

For an entrée, Bridget chose the pork belly, which was served with brussel sprouts, poached egg, and sweet potato puree. It was really tender and pulled apart easily with a fork. I had the veal ricotta meatballs, which were served over house made spagehetti. The meatballs were light and delicate and the tomato sauce was slightly sweet. The only drawback for me was that the pasta may have needed to be cooked a bit more, as it was slight chewy.

They must have known I was coming, because the dessert list included a peanut butter and jelly sundae. The peanut butter ice cream, which was creamy and rich, but not overly sweet, was topped with grape jelly syrup (tasted exactly like my favorite Welch’s variety) and a generous handful of caramel corn, which added a bit of texture and saltiness.

Photo stolen from Bridget

For the rest of the afternoon, we burned off a few calories shopping, and then it was time to make our way over to the Broadhurst Theater for the show.

It goes without saying that Hugh Jackman is pretty adorable. And, also, really talented. He’s not just Wolverine, folks. He can sing. He can dance. He flirts with everyone in the audience and embarrasses late-comers as they take their seats. During the two hour show he performs some of his favorite songs from the likes of Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein and Peter Allen (whom he won the Tony Award for portraying in The Boy From Oz back in 2003), interspersed with antidotes about his life, family and career.

At the end of the show, he auctioned off two of his sweaty undershirts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He invited the winners backstage after the show to meet him, and Bridget and I almost took out our credit cards, but figured it would be difficult to explain the charge to our respective husbands (one shirt fetched $10,000 and the other $6,000).

On the way to the theater, we noticed that there was a Shake Shack right near our hotel, so we stopped there on the way back for burgers, fries, and shakes to bring back to our room. I’ve heard that Shake Shack was the inspiration for Stephen Starr’s Square Burger. This may be the case, but the Shack is a million times better.

The burgers were cooked to a medium rare, so they were juicy and flavorful. The fries were pretty standard—crispy and salty—but they were crinkle cut, so they get extra points in my book for the novelty factor. The vanilla shake has earned a place (along with Nifty Fifty’s, of course) on my list of best milkshakes ever. It was thick and creamy and I was so sad when it was all gone. I will be first in line when the Philadelphia location opens in Center City next year.

Amazingly, we woke up hungry the next morning and headed to Trattoria dell’Arte, right across from Carnegie Hall. This is one of our go-to places when we come up for a show. They have an excellent antipasto bar with just about anything you could ever want, from mozzarella, to Italian meats, to grilled vegetables. We opted just for brunch—light and sweet Panettone French toast for me, and rich spaghetti carbonara for Bridget (with the egg, bacon, and carbs, it does make a good breakfast dish if you think about it!)

And, with that, it was time for me to catch the train back to Philly and for Bridget to make the long drive back up to Boston. But, we’re already planning our next trip to see another show in the winter and/or spring (Book of Mormon and the upcoming revival of Evita are on our list).

The only good part about the weekend coming to an end was that I got to head back to the gym today. And, not a moment too soon.

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My Drug of Choice

Hi. My name is Lauren and I’m addicted to Peanut Butter.

They say admitting it is the first step to recovery, or something like that. But, I like being a PB Addict. Also, it’s not my fault. It’s genetic. My mom says she ate a lot of it when she was pregnant with me. She also claims this is the reason that I have really thick hair. Who knows if this is the reason, but the fact is that I was exposed to it before birth and now here we are. It could have been something worse, right?

When I was little, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was my lunch of choice.  The peanut butter had to be Jif, the jelly had to be grape, and the bread had to be white and slightly mushy. Randomly, I just remembered the following commercial that Skippy (terrible stuff) used to air in the 80s. As soon as I saw it, I started making my grandmom or whoever was making my lunch draw a heart on my peanut butter sandwich before closing it.

Ahh. 80s commercials were amazing.

Anyway. Today, I usually just go for the butter by itself. On a spoon. Or, the tip of a knife. Or, on some other food item, like an apple or pretzel stick, Or, in desperate situations, my finger (again, don’t judge. You’ve done it too). Jif remains the only variety of PB for me. The plain old creamy variety is the best, but in my advanced age, I’ve started to opt either for Simply Jif (less sugar and sodium) or Jif Natural (less fat and sodium). It’s either that or the Smart Balance variety that my mom eats now. I’ve never had it, but I’m pretty sure that it’s disgusting.

So, when Chester and I went to NY a few weeks ago, I had to make a pilgrimage to Peanut Butter and Company in Soho (as if I hadn’t had enough junk food after the ice cream). The restaurant features a variety of classic PB and J sandwiches, like PB and Marshmallow Fluff, PB and bananas and honey (The Elvis) as well as gourmet varieties like Dark Chocolate Dreams (described on the menu as PB and J meets Black Forest Cake) and The Heat is On (spicy peanut butter and grilled chicken with pineapple jam. Ew.) This is my dream restaurant and I’m sorry that someone beat me to the concept!

Chester opted for The Cookie Dough Surprise, a combination of PB, vanilla cream cheese and chocolate chips. It tasted just like Cookie Dough! I went for the Jerry Seinfeld Comedy Special, a toasted bagel with PB, drizzled with honey and cinnamon. It’s my new favorite combination. I have always enjoyed the way a toasted bagel makes the PB melty, extra smooth, and drippy. But the honey and cinnamon paired with the natural PB that the company makes gave it an extra bit of sweetness. Paired with chocolate milk and potato chips, it brought me right back to being a little kid (no, I did not embarrass myself by asking them to draw a heart in the PB. But, I did use the chips to scoop up some PB).

So, this past weekend, we decided to try it at home. We ended up mixing the honey in with the peanut butter, instead of drizzling over it. And, we had a shortage of regular cinnamon, so we used cinnamon sugar, which made it slightly sweeter. It was still yummy.

The Jerry Seinfeld Comedy Special at Home

So, again, my name is Lauren, and I’m a PB addict. And, I don’t want to recover.

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Me, stuffing my face. It's what I do best.

Today, Google told me that today is the 119th Anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae. Since ice cream is my favorite food, this seemed like an auspicious day to start the food blog that I’ve been talking about doing for months now.

I will eat ice cream anytime, anyplace, anywhere. In the summer, I have been known to have ice cream for dinner. If you put a dollop or three of peanut butter (my other weakness. I’ll be entering a twelve-step program soon), you’ve got a healthy protein and calcium packed meal. My favorite kitchen appliance (not that I have many) is my Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker.

Last week, the hubby and I had a weekend getaway to New York City, and I finally had a chance to check out Serendipity 3. I’ve been going to NYC since I was a little girl, but never got around to visiting. The restaurant does take reservations for lunch and dinner, so we were able to get around the hour-plus wait that those wanting dessert only had to deal with. We both had cheeseburgers, which were surprisingly good, but let’s face it, the desserts are the main attraction here.

The dessert menu boasts the restaurant’s signature Frozen Hot Chocolates, cakes, pies, and a fruit cup (why would you even bother?) but the husband and I both decided to go for sundaes. I ordered the Forbidden Broadway Sundae, which featured chocolate blackout cake, hot fudge, whipped cream, and ice cream. He went for the “Coward’s Portion” Banana Split (if what he got was for coward’s I can’t imagine what the real deal looks like).

Ridiculousness

I died and went to ice cream heaven. The hot fudge melted the vanilla ice cream perfectly, so that it soaked right into the moist chocolate cake. The whipped cream was buttery and not too sweet. I was only able to eat approximately one-quarter of the creation. A travesty. Next time, I’ll brave the wait and have dessert-as-dinner just so I can savor all of the sweetness. Maybe I’ll even have room for a frozen hot chocolate too.