Category Archives: New York

Land of the Free

Well, we’re back on the road again! I’m writing this from the airport as we prepare to fly off to Dublin ((many) pints ‘o Guinness, here we come!). It was a whirlwind two month break from our global travels to do a little more fun stuff back home in the good ‘ole USofA. We came back for some very important events (a couple phenomenal weddings and even a P-town bear week bachelorette), and managed to fit in lots of things we missed whilst abroad. So we thought we’d give you a very brief update on some of the highlights of our trip, as well as introduce you to some old favorites and new finds from our visit to the homeland!

Our trip to the states had us landing in our “home” of Los Angeles. While we have no actual home to speak of (and I mean literally, even our mailing address no longer exists as my parents just sold their home!), our friends were very generous in letting us crash for much of our time (we love you guys!!!). Of course a big highlight for us was getting our LA grub on. While we love all food, Asian especially, we were beyond excited to get our hands on some of our local favorites. The very first day we arrived we hit some serious bases with a breakfast of bagels, lunch of Mexican food, and of course In’N’Out for dinner. Solid.

We also checked out a few new spots. We visited our wonderful friends Jamie and Eric over at their new restaurant: Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese. Delish. And while Greeny is cooking up some fancy and fabulous takes on grilled cheese, it’s really hard to pass up the classic grilled cheese with a side of perfectly seasoned tomato soup. Seriously comfort food at its max. And speaking of Max, we were thrilled to meet their adorable new arrival, Max, who joined the world while we were off in Asia.

I was quickly reminded of just how “LA” LA can be when visiting the new(ish) spot: Kreation on Montana in Santa Monica. No offense, and you all know I defend LA to the death against all those (crazy) haters, but this is one of those places that makes people despise LA. I overheard someone ask the waiter (literally), “Do you have a juice that would make me happy?” (Cue Valley Girl dialect.) Granted the menu invited this (with items like “Energy,” “Relax,” “Skinny,” and “Rosy Aura”), but… I mean. If there was any doubt I had made it back to the wacky world that is LA-LA-Land, I saw one lady pushing her pint-sized pup in a stroller and another carrying hers in a purse. Better yet, while getting a manicure in anticipation of Jenny’s wedding, I overheard the most absurd LA woman that might exist. She was, and I quote her directly now, “an Hermes and Chanel girl” who would “not be caught dead in” other lowly designers’ wears. She complained about her dinner plans for fear of the Paparazzi and proceeded to look at a woman roughly thirty pounds heavier than she and say, “oh my god, you’re so skinny, I’m so fat I just gained ten pounds.” But the best story of all, a friend told me she offered some food to a homeless man and he declined, telling her he was on a raw food diet.

We also joined friends to watch Swingers at Cinespia, the famed movie screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It was pretty damn awesome. Man, we love LA. We also enjoyed our friends’ pups. And spotting a woman on a pay phone! I’ve not seen one of these in use in ages! (It’s the small things in life…)

See the Practical Info section, below, for some more of our favorite eats along the way and across the country.

But the highlight of LA was for sure Jen and Albert’s wedding. Absolutely stunning. The wedding and the bride! Seriously, how gorgeous was she!? An absolute modern fairytale princess. That Albert is a lucky man, I tell ya. Also, after six months of embracing what my friends now endearingly refer to as my “traveler fugly” phase (OK the really nice ones call it my “natural” phase), I reveled in the opportunity to get fancy and glam and all dolled up. I felt like a movie star.

One of the best perks of quitting your job to travel the world is the time it gives you to spend with your family and friends, and we truly relish this. We flew back east to spend about three weeks with all sorts of family…

…Staying with Alan’s brother Kenny in New Jersey (and visiting some friends in New York while there)…

…Visiting my family in Maine for the final nights in our cottage (which is now being torn down and will soon be completely rebuilt as their full time home) and helping them pack up and move out of my childhood home in Concord, MA. We found some serious gems along the way in that process…

…spending lots of QT with my big bro, Dev, and my dog nephews, Lou and Ryder (I am obsessed)…

…and of course eating LOTS of lobstah…

…and a massive family reunion at Alan’s mom’s house in Longmeadow, MA. It was so lovely meeting these more distant relatives and spending more time with those we already know and love.

We also fit in lots of good old left coast time. Obviously there was LA, but we also drove up to a wedding in Sonoma, and used the opportunity to stop on the way and check out the wine scene in Paso Robles. We spent two nights at a little B&B owned by a very strange proprietor. Long story short, despite the phenomenal location of this B&B, we would not recommend it. Largely because of overpromises (and false advertising!) that were not delivered on, and less so because the property was not as nice and the room was incredibly small. It’s just frustrating to sign up for something that’s detailed explicitly online and then reeceive much less than promised. Even more annoying that the proprietor made a point of talking about the amenities that she later failed to provide. Strange.

Anyhow, the real reason we came was the wine, and that, my friends, did NOT disappoint. We adored the wines here! It’s not pretentious in the way that some might argue Napa and Sonoma have become, and it’s still in fact quite cheap. Tastings are generally $10 a piece, the pours are generous, they credit the fee against purchases, they’ll let you try anything you liked again, and a few places give you a glass to keep. The wines themselves are fairly reasonably priced, though we did splurge on a few bottles. Is there anyone out there who can not splurge on a bottle of good wine by the time you reach your third tasting? OK, it was only our second when I started buying multiple bottles. Must find a home with a wine cellar. I’ll start with just a home. See the Practical Info section below, for some of our favorite vineyards, wines and restaurants.

Also worthy of a shoutout is Destination Drivers, a company that will send someone to drive your car around to the vineyards for an hourly fee. All wine and no drunk driving, yippee! This would in theory work out to be cheaper than the wine tours on offer, that is if you didn’t spend six hours tasting. Oops! What I loved most was the tackle box full of bread and meats and cheeses that they supply to keep you going between tastings. Yum!

After Paso we enjoyed Felix and Amanda’s spectacular wedding at the Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma, and even managed to squeeze in a beautiful local hike with the groom just hours before he wed.

From there, we had a great afternoon in the East Bay catching up with Brian and Kim and Camilo and Hillary and all their kids. Alan and Quinn had a nice scat session. Afterwards I jetted off back to the east coast to help my parents finalize the move, and then attend the last of the wolfpack’s bachelorette parties on Cape Cod. This was my first time in Provincetown, and it happened to be bear week, which happened to be amaze-balls. Of course, the hot pink Lady Gaga wigs didn’t hurt. Congrats KP! So excited for her wedding in the South of France! Stay tuned for the blog coverage of what I’m sure will be nothing short of stunning.

Meanwhile, Alan and D-Bell drove up to Humboldt, then took the PCH all the way back down to LA, and reminded himself how much we love this left coast. Watching the World Cup semifinal games at Patterson’s Pub in Mendocino and then The Tap Room at the Lodge at Pebble Beach were experiences to cherish. Oh California, you beautiful beast, you.

And now, we are in Dublin! Stay tuned for lots of pictures and stories, most of which will likely entail blustering shorelines and big glasses of beer.

Practical Info

We will not try to cover everywhere we ate and everything we did over a couple months in the US. Instead, we will touch upon some highlights. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Transportation: There are many ways to get from New York to Boston, including flying or taking the train. The cheapest option is usually the bus. We have taken one of the Chinatown buses in the past, but this time friends told us about Bolt Bus. It departs New York from multiple locations; we took the train from New Jersey to Penn Station and then walked the long blocks to 33rd between 11th and 12th. In the 1980s you would not have wanted to be here outside your car that would’ve been bombarded by unsolicited windshield washing, but now it’s fine. For $27 (2 tix), we arrived painlessly at South Station in Boston. And the bus offers WiFi and electric outlets.

Accommodation: We found a great Airbnb place in Santa Monica near 20th and Montana. We were less enthused about Emily’s House in Paso Robles (see Jenni’s rant above), though the location was nice in easy walking distance from town. The Kenwood Inn and Spa near Sonoma is definitely a splurge, but the rooms are beautiful and the pool is super refreshing in the NorCal valley heat.

Food: In LA: Shout out to our man at the helm of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese on Melrose. Jenni covered this above, and when she was back east I returned and also had the Buffalo Blue. This thoroughly satisfied my buffalo pangs…for the night. Katsuya is something we crave when traveling, so we made a few visits while back. We usually go to the Brentwood branch, but it’s much cheaper if you can schlep to the valley. The happy hour in Brentwood helps to let you afford multiple orders of the spicy tuna on crispy rice and baked crab hand rolls. Poquito Mas is solid mini-chain Mexican. We would not assert the bagels compare to New York, but a fine place to hold you over is New York Bagel and Deli on Wilshire in Santa Monica.

In Santa Barbara: Rincon Taqueria (115 E. Haley Street). Hole in the wall, but good tacos and reminds us of wedding planning.

In Paso Robles: Dinner at Artisan was great. Il Cortile was good but not great. Di Raimondo’s is an excellent cheese shop. While wine tasting outside town, we made an enjoyable stop at Pasolivo for free olive oil tasting. The cookies at Brown Butter Cookie Company were the bomb dot com.

In New York: Late night pastrami at Katz’s Deli. A superb brunch at momofuku ssäm bar…think fried duck and waffles with mascarpone and a raspberry compote.

In New England: Of course we hit the legendary White Hut in West Springfield, plus the new branch in the center of Longmeadow. Mike’s (actually now called Pool Street Market) for lobstah rolls in Biddeford is de rigeur. In addition to the standard trip to Cape Pier Chowder House, I had my first ice cream at Goose Rocks Dairy, and Jenni, Dev and I had a lovely afternoon brunching at Tia’s Topside followed by free beer tasting at the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. Jenni gives a nod to New London’s subs in Concord, where she ate her farewell Concord lunch.

Wine: Paso Robles is known for its Zin, but we actually came away with an adoration for the local Syrahs and Roses. Overall, we were very impressed with taste and value. We tasted at:

  • Chronic Cellars – Nice, fun wines made by the sons of the folks behind Peachy Canyon (which, by the way, sells a solid SUPER budget zin available in LA). We enjoyed the ’13 Kindly Swallows Rose, the ’12 Dead Nuts Zin blend, ’12 Suite Petite Syrah blend (sold out, sadly) and the Tranquilo late harvest Petite Syrah.
  • Kiamie Wine Cellars – We loved the ’08 Meritage and the R’Own Style Blend. You can find their wines at Enterprise Fish Co. in Santa Monica (the Vinocata ’08) and the Meritage at Grill 23 in Boston.
  • Halter Ranch – I don’t have specific notes on this one as we mostly chatted about foods we loved with the friendly lady pouring here.
  • Oso Libre – Loved the ’11 Carnal GSM. Otherwise we were pretty underwhelmed (especially with the whites).
  • Terry Hoage Vineyards – Jenni told them that their rose smelled like armpits, but not in a bad way. As you might surmise, our tasting ended here.

We also tasted at the downtown tasting rooms of:

  • Grizzly Republic
  • Burbank Ranch – Solid wines here. Loved the Syrah “Sunset” and ’13 Grenache “Picnic Meadow” Rose. Runner up rose was the ’13 Syrah “Friends” Rose. Overall, the roses in Paso were dry and superb! The ’13 Arneis “Little Rascal” white was a nice porch wine. ’12 Zin Estate “Fall Colors” and the Malbec were nice as well, and Jenni loved the ’11 Petit Verdot “Wood Pile.”

Other vineyards that were recommended to us, but that we couldn’t fit in were DAOU (supposedly great views), Starr Ranch, Tolo, Jack Creek, Kenneth Volk, J Dusi, Ecluse, Booker and the Treana & Hope Family. Downtown, we had tried to visit LXV, where the couple running it had a wine and Indian food pairing party (so sad we missed it!), and had also heard good things about Pianetta.

May 25 -July, 22 2014

Long Island

After we fought Friday traffic out of the city, we arrived in Long Island to celebrate Phil and Eileen’s nuptials. The rehearsal dinner Friday night was at a nearby restaurant where food and alcohol were provided in abundant supply. The toasts were my favorite part, especially father of the groom, who gave his toast in Russian while Phil translated.

The next morning Alan and I drove out to Great Neck to visit his paternal grandmother, Elsie, and his uncle Mickey and Sharon and their son Jonathan. I was obsessed with the collection of mid-century modern furniture in Elsie’s house. we had a great conversation over some tasty bagels, and we also enjoyed the family photos she had on display.

Back at the hotel we quickly got ready and hopped onto the shuttle to the wedding. This was my first Russian wedding, and boy was it Russian. Rumor has it they chose this location because it was the only county within driving distance from Boston that lets you put a bottle of vodka out on each table. And a bottle of vodka there was, in addition to cognac, wine and a full bar, not to mention the vodka martini bar that literally dropped from the ceiling amid dry ice during the cocktail hour, and the most impressive spread of edible offerings I have every seen at a wedding. My favorite part was that every time someone says “Gorka! Gorka!” the bride and groom have to kiss (and I think everyone is supposed to take a vodka shot). Given the ample supply of vodka its no surprise the party lasted past 5am.

The ride out of Long Island the next day was the worst. I’m not naming names, but someone whose name rhymes with Schmalan may or may not have booted in the car, and I may or may not have had to stick my head out of the window to avoid vomiting myself on account of the smell.

P.S. Anyone know why there are no tolls on the west coast, but they’re all over the east? Also, when did they get so expensive?! The Illinois toll was $7.90 and then Ohio was $9.75… and then the Verrazano Bridge toll was $15! (I was happy to see tolls of 70 cents upon entering Virginia).

New York: City and Wedding

I lived in New York for over six years, which is like 12 years elsewhere since New York moves twice the speed of any other place in America.  I am always happy to return.  My employed visits entailed non-stop meetings and business meals.  This time, I took more of a tourist approach and slowed it down a bit.


October 14-20, 2013 (Monday-Sunday)

We arrived to Jack’s place in the East Village and had dinner with John and Ellie (Jenni’s friends from Cornell) at Café Mogador on St. Marks Place.  It is a cozy, subterranean spot with good food.

OK, I am having a hard time writing at this moment but feel compelled to catch up more so please excuse me as I do this post in bullet format…

  • Bagels, lots of them…tasty sable sandwich at Russ and Daughters
  • I love the energy of New York…it is not an exaggeration to say that in a five block radius one can find an assortment of restaurants, bars, shops and ethnicities to rival most mid-sized cities in America…actually, said blocks would easily surpass in the ethnicity category
  • The electronic walk signs count down the seconds remaining until the light changes, and when I cross an avenue I like gazing at the synchronized wall of vehicles approaching a few blocks away since all the lights are timed…and unlike in Los Angeles, you might get a ticket for not jay-walking


  • I had my first experience at a TKTS booth…we walked from the East Village down to the South Street Seaport location and got two tickets to Jersey Boys for $177, not a small sum but a substantially discounted price for very good seats dead center in orchestra Row T.  The show was very good and a nice cultural injection since we so rarely see plays or musicals
  • After the show we had drinks with John at Annie Moore’s Bar, and while I figured this Irish pub next to Grand Central would slant towards men, I did not expect that Jenni would be the only woman in the establishment
  • For the first time I saw strollers with neat skateboard like attachments so the toddler can ride along and keep up with the adults pushing the infant
  • The Maine style lobster roll I got from the Red Hook Lobster Pound booth at Madison Eats rivaled anything I got in Maine…it might have been the best of the trip, with a dusting of paprika and perfectly buttery, toasted split top roll
Roberta's pizza at Mad Eats
Roberta’s pizza at Mad Eats
  • Eataly is pretty impressive with its huge selection of Italian food and beverage and rooftop restaurant
  • While watching Project X briefly before dinner at Redhead with Emily, Mike and Jayme, Jenni said “I bet this makes everyone in the world nostalgic for college.  Except Jack, because I bet it makes him nostalgic for last Tuesday night.”
  • For old time’s sake, I got my haircut at the legendary Astor Place
  • Despite unemployment, we paid the full freight $50 for two tickets to the Met…if you don’t know, ticket prices are merely a suggestion and you can enter free, but I decided to atone for some past transgressions.  The roof top affords some of the best views in Manhattan
  • We had a fun, Tufts group dinner at DBGB (solid burger) where I ran into Eduardo who is the sommelier and was an acquaintance in Los Angeles…so, Doug, I misspoke and there were at least three chance encounters on the road trip
  • Before meeting Ross for drinks at the swank top floor bar of the James Hotel, Jenni and I popped into The Dutch for a snack.  We were not dressed terribly well and struggled to understand the extraordinary treatment we received.  Sitting at the crowded bar, we did not even order alcoholic beverages and along with our lattes and two small dishes we ordered came cornbread, an extra oyster sandwich, broccoli gougeres and a piece of key lime pie with coconut sorbet.  Did they recognize alisnotlost and butitsonmylist?!
  • I rode public transportation more in a few days in New York than eight years in Los Angeles
  • Over drinks at The Wren I concluded that the pickleback has gone mainstream…someone even told me of a bar that offers several flavors of pickle juice.  This is a good development
  • We had lunch with cousins Nina and Jonathan at the Breslin and then saw Jonathan again the next day at my grandma Elsie’s house along with Mickey and Sharon.  Elsie just turned 97 years old!!  I always considered her house décor less than attractive, but Jenni was enthralled by the mid-century modern…and some outstanding photos of me and my family from days past!
  • My policy is to be sparse when discussing friends’ weddings, but I have to say a few things about Phil and Eileen’s nuptial bash, in addition to the supreme Guinness served at the Viana…
Did this spark the 4-game win streak?
Did this spark the 4-game win streak?
  • At the rehearsal dinner, Phil’s father spoke in Russian and Phil translated…it was pretty neat to see Phil talking about himself through his father’s voice
  • At the wedding itself, there was a pre-cocktail nearly hour with drinks, then a cocktail hour+, then a reception that lasted until about 2 am…with a bottle of cognac and Russian standard vodka on each table…then an after-party…I went to bed around 6:30 am


  • Jenni had to drive the next day down to Seth and Jill’s house in Maryland, and Jenni had gone to bed not that much earlier…she was a tad displeased

So that was our time in New York in a nutshell.  Countless details omitted.  There is so much to see and do in New York and I make no attempt to offer comprehensive guidance, but in addition to the “usual” websites like Yelp or Tripadvisor or Citysearch (does that still exist?), you may find useful information at,,,, and I’m sure lots of others…

The Big Apple

Seven and a half hours of driving took us into the city for some good eats and friend time. We stayed with our friend Jack in the East Village.

Our first night in town we headed over to Café Mogador on St. Marks for some Moroccan food and a great time catching up with two of my Cornell friends, Ellie and John.

The next morning we stopped for our first bagels of the visit. Russ and Daughters’ bagels were tasty, but more than $15!? What?? Granted Alan ordered sable, which is apparently fancy bagel ish, but honestly. It’s a damn bagel. Then I ordered a small latte at a coffee shop nearby which cost more than $5. New York, you were not nice to the budget.

::I do love the street art in NYC::
::I do love the street art in NYC::

We wandered all the way down to South Street Seaport to get discounted tickets to a Broadway show from TKTS. We ended up choosing a Jersey Boys matinee the next day (though I was really bummed they didn’t have tickets for the Glass Menagerie or times that worked for us to see First Date). Afterwards we met Jack for lunch at Mad Square Eats, which was a collection of tented food and drink stands from popular New York eateries out for a limited time near Madison Square. I opted for some fabulous thin crust pizza and Alan got a lobster roll.  Jack gave us a quick tour through Eataly – which is super cool; I could totally spend a lot of time in there (and eat a lot). The roof deck is equally amazing, and perfect on a sunny day like the one we were experiencing.


Later, we caught up a bit at Jack’s condo as he regaled us with stories of his fast paced and sleepless New York life. We had on Project X in the background (we’d all already seen the movie, which is awesome by the way) and I said that this movie makes everyone in the world nostalgic for college, except Jack because it probably makes him nostalgic for Tuesday night.

We got dinner at one of Jack’s favorite spots – the Redhead – with my friend Emily and her boyfriend Mike. The fried chicken Jack had raved about did not disappoint, and it was as always super fun hanging out and catching up with Emily.

On Wednesday we again got bagels, this time from David’s and they were much less expensive. We did a little bit of work in the am before grabbing a slice at Vinnie Vincenza and heading up to the August Wilson theater for the Jersey Boys show, which was really good despite the fact that people were singing along in the audience. Am I the only person who finds that annoying? I came to hear the talented actors and singers perform, not the audience.

After the show we met up for drinks with Alan’s friend John whom I’d never met (and was lovely), then ran over to our friends Mili and Sharath’s to catch up and meet their uber-adorable little boy. We hurried next over to Ippudo to meet our friends Morgan and Conrad for dinner (always hurrying in New York). I unfortunately found out about Beyaz’s passing right before the meal. I managed to keep in most of my tears to enjoy dinner with them, but let’s just say the rest of my evening was quite unpleasant.

The next day we went to the Met, and in between crying fits I saw the Balthus cats and girls exhibit and an Arab section we liked a lot, with tiles and carpets and various implements. The views from the roof were spectacular on that again sunny day.

In need of a snack, we stopped at the Dutch in SoHo. I think we may have been confused for food reviewers, because we were given a second oyster sandwich, appetizer, cornbread and pie for free, all this while sitting at the bar and not even ordering a cocktail. Maybe it was the “you look like you lost your best friend” consolation prize. Or with swollen eyes I look like someone famous? Who knows. It was quite baffling as nobody around us seemed to get all the extra treats on the house.

From there we went to the James Hotel to grab drinks with another one of Alan’s fraternity brothers whom I hadn’t yet met. Then it was off to DBGB to get dinner with lots of Tufts alum, most of which were in the city for Phil and Eileen’s wedding on Long Island that weekend.

Before heading out to Long Island the next day we grabbed lunch with two of Alan’s cousins – Nina and Jonathan at Breslin.

OK, granted my dog died and I was in a terrible mood for much of my time in New York (grieving while on the road – and especially while trying to connect with friends and family left and right – is no fun. And this was worse than when my cat died and I took three days off of school to grieve), but here are some general thoughts. I’ve never been a huge fan of New York. I think my blind faith in all things Boston and my love for the Red Sox may have played a role in this growing up. But I also think it’s just too much for me. New York City is a city of excess. One never feels the proper amount of any sensation – too cold, too humid, cramped, loud…  I gave it a shot, especially given Alan’s love and respect for the city, but the over-stimulation that New York provides on a constant basis is just not my cup of tea.

New York: Anniversary in Ithaca

Jenni went to Cornell University for undergrad and Ithaca is a lovely town in upstate New York, so we figured this would be a nice place to spend our one-year anniversary.  By coincidence, it was also Homecoming Weekend.

September 21, 2013 (Saturday) – Armed with Dunkin Donuts coffee we set off for Ithaca.  The leaves have begun to change but the colors are not yet in full effect.  We arrived around 1 pm and checked into a nice room at the Statler with a view over the clock tower and hills.


You may know that Cornell has a hotel school of world-renown.  The Statler functions as both an upscale lodging property and training grounds for some of these students.

Alumni and students were swarming and we were glad to be rid of Sven for the day.  We picked up tickets and Jenni received the alum gift of a wine glass contraption that excited her.


Outside the stadium was a large paved area with lots of sections and tents for various schools (i.e. law, business, liberal arts, etc.).  We bought wine in the drink section near a food station serving Dinosaur BBQ before realizing we would get six drink tickets and free food at the arts and science tent.  The BBQ pulled chicken with coleslaw on a roll was surprisingly good.

It began to rain and we headed into the stadium to watch Big Red take on Bucknell.  Is there a more laughable mascot than Big Red?!  Both of my mom’s parents and my wife (i.e. nearly my three favorite people in the world) attended Cornell University, but c’mon.  Worse still were all the attendees who with their existing or impending Ivy League degrees could not figure out that using an umbrella inside a stadium might obstruct views and lead to rain pouring in unnatural ways onto others.  Seeing Jenni so happy to be back made this but a minor inconvenience.


We tore ourselves away from this world-class sporting event as College Town Bagels (aka CTB) beckoned.  I do not know if all Cornellians feel the same way, but if you asked Jenni to encapsulate her college experience in one phrase, it would likely be CTB.  Were she forced to choose between me and CTB, well…Given that it was really pouring by now and homecoming weekend, I was surprised to find CTB merely crowded and not a madhouse.


We split the Vegetarian from a massive selection of bagel sandwiches and related items.  It consists of veggie cream cheese, tomato and melted Muenster cheese served open face on your choice of bagel.  Which for me was the rosemary salt bagel, a superb selection, indeed.  With the obligatory pitcher of sangria we snagged a picnic table under cover before moving inside.

I do not feel old, but I did make a mental note that since the newly arrived freshman are in the class of 2017, I graduated college when they were born.  Unfazed, we walked over to see Jenni’s sophomore year house and I insisted we try to enter.  We disclosed to the group of guys living there now that we are from Los Angeles and one had a Dodgers shirt on but I said I was not that into baseball.  He replied that this was now the baseball house.  The bookshelf filled with dip cans should have tipped me off.


Next we walked to Jenni’s senior year apartment and entered a random unit with youngins preparing for a centennial Tri-Delt formal party.  Everyone was pretty friendly and respectful of this aged writer.

With the old palaces and castles segment of the walking tour complete, we hit the dive bar Dunbar’s for an $11 pitcher of Shock Top.  We struck up conversation with a few other patrons when I offered them some of our beer.  This is often an effective method.  Apparently Rulloff’s is a better option for later in the evening.  Instead, as Dunbar’s emptied out, Jenni got some pad thai from the Asian Noodle House (not near as good as she remembered) and I hit CTB for the second time.  Partly to honor my grandparents who went to Cornell and lived in Queens for 60 years, I ordered the…Queens.  Which is a bagel with egg salad, tomato and bacon.  The Vegetarian is better, but it was still good.

September 22, 2013 (Sunday) – Today was our one-year anniversary!  We agreed that we are in a much different place physically and spiritually than we would have guessed on our wedding day.  A stroll downhill took us to Carriage House Café for brunch.  Jenni raves about the brie-stuffed French toast here maybe even more than about CTB.  But let’s be clear, I am not contradicting my earlier statements.  This is but one dish, whereas CTB is a way of life.  Initially told the wait would be an hour, Jenni advertised our anniversary and 15 minutes later we were lounging on a couch perusing the menu.

The French toast with berry coulis is very good, but the hype was a tad too much for me to overcome.  We were denied mimosas by the antiquated law forbidding alcohol service before noon on Sunday.

The up hill walk burned off a quarter nibble and we heard Coldplay emanating from the clock tower.  It drizzled on us a bit but cleared up and we walked all over the attractive campus.  Check out the neat permaculture exhibit/bench below.

In the afternoon we picked up Sven, cruised by the impressive Greek houses and parked down in town.  We saw that Michael Franti was playing at the State Theater tonight, and two minutes later we saw Michael Franti standing on the corner.  We walked up and down the Commons which had the entire middle area torn up for construction.  There are lots of shops and some bars and restaurants.  We went into a used bookstore and I miraculously resisted adding a Biggie book to our storage locker.

Ah the everyday struggle

I confirmed that boba (aka bubble) tea and Thai food are everywhere before heading back to the hotel to watch the end of the Giants’ weekly embarrassment.  We headed downstairs for a cocktail in the bar lounge before our 6:30 pm anniversary dinner at Taverna Banfi.


The charcuterie plate was very good, though it needed a little more cheese to balance out the meats.  We also split a seared feta grapefruit salad and Jenni got the cavatelli Bolognese.  My duck was outstanding, with a maple parsnip puree and brussels sprouts alongside.  They started us with free glasses of champagne for our anniversary and the bottle of 2009 Foxen pinot noir we had was outright wonderful and an even better value.  A successful anniversary!

September 23, 2013 (Monday) – One more stop at CTB and we departed for Burlington, Vermont to visit my Dad and Linda.  Throughout this bucolic area we saw many farms, rivers, wildflowers and signs for maple syrup soft serve.  The town of Greene, New York looked nice, as did the Sherwood Inn.  There are towns here with a divided Main Street with cars parked head-on at angles in the middle.  We noticed statues of union soldiers and crossed the Chenango River.

We drove up the western side of Lake George which is a popular resort area.  This brought us back to the land of painfully slow speed limits and above-ground pools.  In Crown Point we visited Gunnison Lakeshore Orchards and got a fancy (as opposed to utility) half peck of apples for $8 shortly before crossing the bridge to Vermont.

Our Paper Anniversary: Ithaca, NY

Well, we made it through our first year of marriage even with a month and half of non-stop togetherness on the back end. Hooray! We still love each other! 😉

The day started with a walk down to the Carriage House for brunch. There was a long wait, but when I told the hostess it was our first anniversary she hooked us up in just a few minutes with the coveted couch seat. We of course ordered two brie stuffed French toasts which were fantastic and overly indulgent. I tried to order a champagne and strawberry rhubarb sorbet cocktail and was disappointed to be reminded that liquor cannot be served before noon on Sundays in New York. We contemplated extending our brunch as long as possible so that we could close with a celebratory toast, but ultimately hit the road for a walking tour of campus in which I recounted to Alan every memory that the scenery evoked. Thank you to Alan for indulging my tour of memory lane. The clock tower played Coldplay’s “Clocks” at noon as we walked through Ho Plaza. In addition, we covered west campus, north campus, the Arts Quad, the Ag quad, the Human Ecology area… lots of walking. It’s a large campus. We stopped by the Dairy Barn, which has been remodeled since I left, though it’s closed on weekends. As I recall, the ice cream they sell there is too high in fat content to be marketed as ice cream, though this may have been legend.

We picked up the car (being sure to tip the valet girl well as I remember Emily doing that back in the day!), and drove down to the Commons. Sadly, the pedestrian street was under renovation and covered up so the hippie community that usually gathers was less entertaining than usual. We noticed that Michael Franti was playing that night at the State Theater and Alan actually saw him wandering around the Commons barefoot. We considered attending but decided to keep our reservation at Taverna Banfi – the restaurant at the Statler.

Before dinner we shared a split of prosecco at the bar lounge, then at dinner our waiter asked if we were celebrating something special. When we told him it was our first anniversary he came back with two glasses of champagne on the house. Feeling very loved and happy here in Ithaca! We had an amazing meal – splitting the meat and cheese plate, a seared feta and grapefruit salad, and then the duck with parsnip puree and maple and a cavatelli Bolognese. We also ordered a bottle of the Foxen ’09 Pinot which was divine. Man, we love our California ’09 pinots. For dessert we ordered a chocolate tarte concoction to go, which we brought up to our room along with our glasses of wine and devoured them in bed while watching some of the Emmy’s.  Solid way to toast to year one and look forward to the next one, which is sure to be a memorable one for us.


P.S. I almost made it through two blog posts about Ithaca without saying “Ithaca is Gorges” or some related pun. So I had to throw it in here. Sadly, we didn’t fit in any hikes around the gorges as it rained on us almost the entire time we were there (insert Shithaca reference here). Oh well – next time!

P.P.S. I googled the “paper” anniversary thing. It would have been the perfect year to exchange only cards as we were on the road, but we didn’t even do cards! Our gift to each other was this experience, and we are so glad we’re doing it.

Ithaca Day One

And here I thought Minnesota was unique in all its Midwest charm with the cute town names, but I learned driving from Olean to Ithaca that there are towns in New York named Friendship, Harmony, Cuba, and North East! The adorable town names, coupled with the early stage fall foliage, and the fact that we were on our way to my alma mater for our anniversary (and my first trip back post-graduation) made for a charming morning.

::on the way in::
::on the way in::

Arriving on Cornell’s campus was an exciting moment, as it was buzzing with activity for homecoming. And having hit a bit of a low point in terms of productivity and motivation in Chicago, we approached Ithaca with a refreshed effervescence. We checked in to our room at the Statler – my first stay at the Cornell Hotel School run accommodation! I was very pleased to see we had a spectacular view of the mellifluous Cornell clock tower from our window.

::far above cayuga's waters::
::far above cayuga’s waters::

Over at the tailgate for the football game (vs. Bucknell – my father’s alma mater!) we picked up my alumnus gift (a wine glass to go that fits in a cup holder… check this thing out! Awesome. My tuition finally paid itself off as we were awarded six drink tickets and free food just for showing up to the Arts & Science tent. We used our drink tickets to indulge in some boxed wine (oh the college flashbacks… slap bag anyone?) and BBQ chicken sammies.

Inside the stadium it began raining pretty hard, and I was disappointed to see that the Cornell way is to use your umbrellas during the game. Short folks like me disapprove.

Being a very unenthused football fan and witnessing a disappointing start to the game, we decided to try to beat the crowds at College Town Bagels post game and headed out early. (We found out later that Cornell came back for a win – oops… go Big Red!). CTB is best enjoyed on a sunny afternoon, sitting outside in the patio area with a pitcher of sangria and a vegetarian bagel (salivating so hard right now). Unfortunately we did not get the sun, so we sat outside under a tent that did little to keep the torrential (read: weak for Ithaca) rains off our backs, but it was still wonderful to be back. We snagged seats inside before we ordered our vegetarian (a bagel with veggie cream cheese, a slice of tomato, and melted muenster cheese on top). We switched it up a little and ordered it on a rosemary salt bagel (my go to is usually sesame). It brought me great pleasure to find the concoction just as tasty as remembered, and to see Alan enjoy it as well (especially given the fact that its called a vegetarian – my pork loving hubstah).

To walk off the consumption before we could justify ordering more food I gave Alan a tour of collegetown (the off-campus area most upperclassmen live in). We walked up to my sophomore year house (401 Dryden!), and having had a few beers and a pitcher of sangria in me, we knocked on the door and asked to come in since I’d lived there years ago. The furniture was the same, but it is now inhabited by guys on the baseball team and it was in a MUCH different state: the built in shelving in the living room was decorated with skoal tins. Just a touch of a difference in our decorating styles. After Dryden I took Alan to 211 Linden, my senior year apartment where we met a boy (who looked like a damn baby by the way – how old am I?!) who took us inside to a Tri-Delt’s apartment where they were getting ready for their centennial party. They indulged us “old” folks in a mini-tour of the apartment.

After my former home tour where I pointed out places that reminded me of my glory (or not so glorious depending on how you look at it) stories, we decided to get some more drinks at Dunbar’s. It was even more disgusting than I remembered, though an $11 pitcher of Shock Top never hurts. Except that we’re old and couldn’t finish it so wound up sharing with some other Cornellies we introduced ourselves to.

By this time we decided its acceptable to continue eating, and I went to my old regular spot – Asian Noodle House – for some pad thai. This one was nowhere near as delicious as I recalled. Alan knew what was up and went back for round two at CTB – ordering the Queens (egg salad, tomato and bacon) – one I’d never tried before. They have an extensive menu. My regulars were the vegetarian, eggs Melissa, and Brooklyn, but I really don’t think you can go wrong. We took our foodies back to the Statler and enjoyed them in our lovely hotel bed.