Thursday, February 23, 2012

ABC Kitchen

Being a foodie is a privilege. Trying new restaurants and different cuisines can be lots of fun, but it can also be insanely expensive. It doesn't help that being from a small town, I'm usually satisfied with a sandwich from Subway. I do, however, have enjoy eating at nice restaurants and trying new foods.

I was lucky enough to be part of an amazing team to help organize our annual sales meeting at work. We all worked so well together and put together an amazing presentation. Afterwards, we needed to debrief and discuss what we should change for next year. It's best to have these meetings over lunch, so we picked ABC Kitchen. It's a very earthy, natural restaurant on 18th near Broadway. It was voted one of the 2011 James Beard Award Winner for Best New Restaurant. Obviously, I had high hopes.

We ordered crab toast with lemon aioli and pretzel dusted calamari as appetizers. OMG. It was heaven. I could have just had our serve keeping bringing serving after serving of these two. Now it's very rare that I get to try a new, hip restaurant and not have to worry about the prices on the menu. I took advantage and ordered something I'd never tried before - lobster. was interesting. It tasted good, spicy. But I didn't really know how to eat it and it wasn't very filling.

I was ready to wipe my hands and head back to the office. Just then the server brings over the dessert menu. Now, I'm trying very hard to eat healthy (borderline eating disorder), but how can I pass up dessert in such a great restaurant? Impossible. Everyone else ordered the sundae - salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts & popcorn, whipped cream, chocolate. It was AMAZING! It had a perfect blend of salty and sweet flavors combined with smooth ice cream and crunchy peanuts and caramel popcorn. It's quite possibly the best dessert I've ever had.

It was a great experience. I would definitely go back to ABC Kitchen again. The food was amazing, but getting to celebrate and have a discussion with such an amazing team was even better. It's a great feeling to be a valued member of the group. I love that everyone worked together on their individual assignments to produce an event that many agree was one of our best sales meetings ever.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day! It's just such a happy holiday. This year was no exception. I bought Barbie valentines with lollipops for all the ladies in our office. They loved it. It made me feel good to make them feel good. It costs next to nothing to bring a smile to someone's face.

I like to plan Valentine's Day for Antonio and I. He's so sweet throughout the year that I like to do something really special for him. This year, I tried to be a little sneaky. He had mentioned that he wanted to go to Spot Dessert Bar a few months ago. I kept that information in my back pocket for a long time. I used Yelp to find a list of restaurants near Spot. Christina, in our office, is a foodie and restaurant expert. She and Martha recommend Gemma at the Bowery Hotel.

Our reservation for was 8:45 and it was a quick cab ride to the East Village from Chelsea. The atmosphere of the restaurant was amazing! It had an old-world feel. It was like a mix between Phantom of the Opera and Pirates of the Caribbean. The candelabras had pounds of waxed caked around the bottom and the mirrors had an charming, aged look. If I could, I would love to live in this restaurant. We started with grape / basil and burrata and prosciutto crostini. They were so good! The bread was toasted perfectly and everything was very fresh. I ordered the veal with mushrooms and Antonio got the short ribs. My food was pretty good, though the veal was a little boring. I'd definitely go back though.

Now for dessert. Like I said, I tried to be sneaky. But Antonio hates surprises so he did a little research and figured out that Spot was just a few blocks away from Gemma. But he said that he liked it better way so he wouldn't be worried that I'd flown in Christina Aguilera to serenade him or organized a flash mob. Spot was packed! I was so surprised that we breezed into dinner and then had to wait for dessert. It was a Japanese-fusion dessert bar. Everything sounded familiar but then had a little twist. We ordered three desserts (one for each and then we split one). I ordered Thai tea creme brulee. It had the same texture and consistency that I'm used to, but had a very unique taste. I liked it. Antonio got a fancy coconut cheesecake. I'm not a fan of coconut, but all the unique flavors and added touches made it good. The best was the white miso semifreddo. It had raspberries, EVOO, almond tuile, and raspberry sorbet. Now I don't know what most of those ingredients are, but they were DELICIOUS. It had a buttery/salty taste that was so unexpected, but so good! I'd order this every time.

It was such a fun evening! It was surprising because we were both somewhat nervous. We go to dinner casually a lot, but rarely a formal date. It was cute. It felt it was our first date all over again. nine.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The MDNA Era

Every new Madonna album marks the end of the previous era and the start of a new one (one that's shiny and new). Hard Candy is now a thing of the past and MDNA is fast approaching. Madonna has been everywhere recently and I love it! She did an interview on Anderson, premiered her new movie, released her new album art, distributed her new single on iTunes AND performed at the halftime show at the Super Bowl.

I have to admit that I was nervous when I heard that Nicki Minaj and MIA were featured on the lead single, Give Me All Your Luvin'. I feel like people would see it as an attempt to stay relevant. Personally, I don't think she needs anyone to carry her. Some of my favorite songs are from her most recent albums. I didn't like the demo of the song that leaked onto the internet a few months ago. I was not anticipating liking, but the final version instantly grew on me. Nicki and MIA really contributed to the song, without taking over. It's a perfect mix old and new!

This past weekend was a whirlwind for Madonna. She released the single last Friday and the geared up for her first time performing at the Super Bowl. What is she going to do? What songs is she going to sing? I had so many questions! It was the first time that I had an interest in watching the Super Bowl. In my opinion, she killed it! Her entrance to Vogue was stunning and free of any flaws. It was so regal and powerful! I die every time I watch it. Sure, she had a misstep during Music, but who cares? When everyone can sing and dance in front of over 100 million people flawlessly, then I'll criticize her. Give Me All Your Luvin' was appropriate for the show and having Like A Prayer was...almost spiritual. I sound dramatic, but it was just so beautiful and powerful! I give her performance an A+

Lastly, I pre-ordered the album on iTunes and saw the track-listing. Some of the titles, I Fucked Up and Gang Bang, piqued my interested. What direction is this album going to take? Is it going to be pure fun? Will it have some deeper tracks? Will he be somewhat generic like Hard Candy or a masterpiece like Confessions on a Dance Floor or Ray of Light. So many questions and too much speculation.

MDNA will be released on March 26th and I can't wait! I'm so excited to have the Queen return to her rightful seat on the throne!