Friday, July 9, 2010

Heat Wave

I always thought Florida was miserably hot and that it couldn't possibly be worse anywhere else... I was wrong. The heat wave that hit the Northeast this past week made my small NYC apartment feel like a sauna which is not conducive to a good night's sleep. So here I am- running on far too little sleep and sitting on a bus for the next 4+ hours and realizing I once again have failed at my goal of posting a blog once a week.

Reading an old issue of Bon Appetit inspired me to highlight some of my favorite hot weather favorites, so here goes nothing :-)

Although my answer should be water, anyone who knows me well is well versed in
my affinity toward bubbles! Cava, Prosecco, Champagne... A warm summer day is not
complete without an ice cold glass of bubbles.

Other favorites that are close seconds- dry Reisling, cava Sangria, margaritas (always without salt) muddled lemonade on the rooftop of The Surrey and Jessica Slevin will
kill me if I don't say Coors Light.

Ceviche and lobster/ lobster rolls are definitely top contenders. I've had amazing ceviche in a lot of
restaurants, but the best ceviche I've ever experienced was made by my dad- one of the most gourmet people I know.

Another favorite would have to raw oysters and stone crabs.

One last thing makes my summer dining experience complete- water ice from the Margate Dairy Bar by my house in New Jersey. This is and always will be my favorite place to enjoy an ice cold dessert. From the time I was little this little ice cream stand sold me on their pretzel cones and I now return for the best water ice at the Jersey Shore.

I'm sure my list of summer favorites will continue to grow as the "heatpocolipse" continues. Until next time...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Blog or Not To Blog...That is the Question

Just when I thought I was ready to give up this blog (All 7 entries of it) I've decided to jump back on the bandwagon. I know I promised this in the last one, but I promise to be better this time. My excuse is the same as before...too busy living my life to write about my life. But I'm going to make it a personal goal to update my blog at least once a week. I would say twice a week, but I know that's pushing it. In fact, I stayed late at the office tonight to make sure I can check off that I updated my blog. For all of my friends that know me so well...yes, this was written in my agenda and no, my day is not complete until I have checked off everything. So here goes nothing...

Highlight of the month was when my parents came to visit me in May. My Mom had spent a lot of time here when she was closing her business in Philly in the fall/winter, but this was my Dad's first trip to visit me. The first time he came here he saw my small apartment and the comprehensive lease he had to co-sign and basically laughed at me knowing this would be my first taste of the real world (multiple mice, lack of space, 4th floor walk up and lack of funds to live the live I've grown accustomed to). Well... almost 8 months later, I can't say I love my apartment, but I do LOVE New York City. For the first time in my 8 months of living here I was able to show my Dad the city that I have grown to love and exposed him to some of his new favorite places. For so long, I feel like my parents were the ones introducing me to new places, restaurants, and experiences and I can't express how special it feels to show them my world. 

My parents arrived early on a Saturday morning and left mid afternoon on Sunday. I can honestly say we didn't stop moving the entire time they were here. We went everywhere from Essa Bagel, Union Square Farmer's Market, Washington Square Park, Corsino (my new favorite), Chelsea Market, The Surrey Roof Garden, Yerba Buena, The Gramercy Park Hotel and guest only rooftop, Essa Bagel again, Wall Street, The Stock Market Bull, my office in The Empire State Building, Brooklyn, and unfortunately a long trip to Best Buy to buy me my first NYC window air conditioning unit...Hello Summer in New York. 

Needless to say, I'm pretty sure I covered all of my Dad's favorite things-Food, wine, the stock market...I made sure it was all covered. And a trip to my office on the 59th floor topped everything off. I had to show my Dad that his daughter is making her way in this crazy city. Although he hears how amazing I'm doing and gives me endless praise, I can't express how amazing it felt to show him my life here and all of my "favorite" things. But with New York being how it is, of course since my parents left, I already have a million and one new favorite things to show them next time they visit and have already started my checklist for our next "36 hours in NYC". My last reference shows how addicted I am to my job and my obsession with the New York Times. 

Between my last post and now, I've also taken two trips to my house in New Jersey, experienced a true Jersey Shore experience at Maynards in Margate, had amazing nights with my friends and started a job that I'm absolutely obsessed with! 

This next month should be interesting, but I promise to update everything before a week goes things on my plate: trip to Boston on Friday, meeting lots of editors at The Surrey-roof garden weather permitting, Jersey Shore/Hamptons for 4th of July, Ft. Lauderdale July 23-25, and a possible move to Los Angeles within the next 6 months. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'm back from my hiatus

Forgive me for not updating this, but I'm happy to report that I've been too busy living my life and sadly for my blogs sake, not writing about it. I've had some wonderful experiences over the past few weeks. Stacy has been keeping up with her blog more frequently so check out her blog, Jargon, for a great description of my recent activities. We basically spend all of our time together so essentially her blog is my blog. Same same, but different as Stacy would say.

Cinco de Mayo, one of my favorite holidays, started my lively week of festivities. Blockheads on everyone's favorite Mexican celebration is absolutely crazy on May 5th. Luckily my friends and I were able to get a table and catch up over multiple margaritas, chips and salsa and a few puffs of our neighbor's cigar. A first for all of us and an activity that none of us are planning on making a habit.

Thursday was far from my typical night, but one of the most special nights I've experienced since my move to the big city. Jess Slevin and I met after work at The Surrey, where she provided me with an all access tour of the incredible property. This hotel is breathtaking! An Upper East side gem with equal parts swank and class. We culminated our tour in the hotel's Bar Pleiades. Our bartender, which is possibly the worst word to describe this amazing cocktail concoctionist, provided us with exceptional recommendations and drinks that followed suit. Inventive drinks accompanied by savory appetizers made for two very happy girls. Upon completion of this incredible experience, Jess and I wandered over to Daniel for canapes and champagne. Daniel is a restaurant that I believe everyone should experience at some point in their lives. Daniel Boulud is quickly gaining Steven Starr status in my book. The canapes were delightful and the champagne never stopped flowing. As if that wasn't enough, we were then offered free dessert and a private tour of the kitchen. Needless to say, this entire experience was exceptional. Thank you Jess for making wonderful connections with Daniel's maitre d'. I have a feeling this will not be our last trip to Daniel.

Friday I have now dubbed "Foodie Friday" and I'm making a point to reserve this as my culinary adventure day every week. I made reservations for Maddie, Jessica, Nicole and I at DBGB for 9:45. DBGB is another Daniel Boulud restaurant, which surprisingly specializes in sausages. Sausage fest jokes aside, this place was great. We ordered four appetizers to split and wine to wash it all down. The restaurant's decor is very aesthetically interesting. I pulled this description off of the restaurant's website: "The interiors take their cue from the Bowery's history as New York's industrial restaurant supply neighborhood. Floor to ceiling shelving stocked with the restaurant's own tools, tableware and dry goods overlook a partially open kitchen. In the bar, the writing is-quite literally-on the wall. Boulud's favorite culinary quotes fill the mirrors, providing food for thought to accompany a menu of bar bites." I'll make sure to take a picture next time I'm there. After dinner, we hopped over to Minetta Tavern for our 11:15 reservation for dessert and drinks. Minetta Tavern is known for being a place to see and be seen. The vibe is very old school speakeasy with an eclectic crowd of people. We enjoyed a chocolate souffle and hazelnut crepes for dessert. Absolutely delicious! We walked out of the restaurant around 1am exhausted and ready to call it a night.

Saturday started as a rainy, dreary day, but cleared up early enough to motivate Stacy and I to meet Aisha and Lauren for an adventure to Brooklyn. I have a minor obsession with all things hipster and Williamsburg is hipster heaven. We wandered in and our of vintage stores and flea markets searching for the perfect dresser/cabinet for Stacy. After a few hours searching we gave up and decided to walk the Williamsburg bridge back to Manhattan. The view from the bridge is stunning and I found it very inspiring. New York City is truly a place like no other and I am so driven to be successful and happy in this marvelous city. I've only been here 6 months, but I've grown so much already. I can only imagine how far I will have come by my 1 year mark in November.

I'll leave you with this quote about New York that I found online. It perfectly sums up my life in the Big Apple.

"You come to New York to find the ambiance that will evoke your best. You do not necessarily know precisely what that might be, but you come to New York to discover it."

Monday, April 26, 2010

My short vacation to Richmond, VA

After an amazing weekend in Sarasota (I'll talk more about this later), I embarked my plane to JFK. Although the weather was bad in Tampa and pretty much everywhere else along the East Coast, my flight took off as scheduled. After two and half hours, the pilots informed us that our plane would be landing ahead of schedule. As someone who loves to travel but HATES to fly, I was beyond excited to be on the ground. Forty minutes later the pilots had a change of heart. A ground stop at JFK due to weather problems was preventing us from landing at the airport. Our plane circled for 30 minutes before our pilots notified us that we would perform this circling exercise one more time before we would have to be rerouted to another airport nearby so the plane could refuel. Thirty minutes later, we were on our way to Richmond, VA. Now I don't know much about Richmond, but I took the liberty of Googling what I could have done there if I hadn't spent my entire time in an airport. Apparently, Richmond is home to beautiful neighborhoods with striking architecture. Richmond is among a handful of mid-sized cities to offer a flourishing cultural community enhanced by several first-class museums and prominent universities, its own symphony, professional ballet and opera, and numerous theater companies and art galleries. While offering easy access to the ocean, mountains and Washington, D.C., Richmond features countless pastimes at home. Trendy boutiques and restaurants, numerous sports and entertainment attractions, outdoor pursuits among one of the nation's largest river park systems, and a treasure trove of historic landmarks provide fun times galore.... I'll just have to take this website's word for it because my experience in Richmond did not include any of these activities.

Once we landed, our plane had to wait in a long line of other rerouted planes to refuel. Two hours later, aka 1:30am we finally were first in line. Since the ground stop was still in order our plane found its way to a gate so we could all get up and stretch our legs. Who knew a trip from Sarasota to New York City would become close to the duration of a trans Atlantic flight. Just as things were starting to look up, our pilot, the bearer of nothing but bad news, came over the intercom once again. He advised us that he had been flying for 16 hours and that a new pilot was on his way to take over for him for the remainder of our flight. I sat as patiently as I could as I watched my iPhone's battery gradually disappear. Alas, our pilot had arrived at the airport. Just as the entire plane had a glimpse of hope, the bearer of bad news spoke again-our pilot had arrived at the airport, but unfortunately TSA had gone home. No security checkpoint for the pilot means no flight to NYC that night. Jet Blue distributed vouchers to all of the passengers so we could all rest up for our flight the next morning. After a few more hours of waiting in lines to get my voucher and then again at the Hyatt, I finally arrived in my room at 4am. By now, I could definitely be in Paris or some other European city that sounds a lot more interesting than Richmond-no offense to anyone from there, I clearly have not experienced your city in all its glory.

This morning I woke up to find that my 10am reschedule flight was delayed until 12pm or until further notice. Luckily my flight took off a little bit after 1pm and I was safe and sound in New York City by 1:30. At this point you may be thinking that I hate my airline, but quite the contrary-I am absolutely obsessed with Jet Blue. Not only did they provide me with a place to sleep, or nap rather, they also provided everyone on the plane with a voucher for the same amount as our trip on a future flight.

Obviously the circumstances of my night were unfortunate, but I managed to land safely and I cannot wait to book my new flight with Jet Blue. I have no idea where I'll travel to, but I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that it won't be Richmond, VA.

More on my trip to Sarasota later.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why must all good things come to an end?

I know I said that I would be writing mostly about my excursions and culinary adventures in NYC, but ironically I've been out of town the best two weekends. This weekend I hopped on a plane to Sarasota, Florida to celebrate my amazing Mom's 56th birthday. She let me think that I was surprising her, but in reality she secretly knew about my plans for the past few weeks. Thanks a lot Dad! This weekend has been nothing short of incredible and I'm so sad to see it coming to a close. As much as I am enjoying my time in New York, I can't help but feel a little confused every time I venture south to be with my family.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Philly Phanatic

After a late night out, Stacy and I woke up at 6:30am to catch a bus to Philly for the remainder of our weekend. The sound of my alarm on a Saturday morning threw me into an automatic tizzy making me feel like I had to go to work. The two hour bus ride went by so quickly and before I knew it we were entering the City of Brotherly Love. After taking an hour to relax, Stacy and I decided to set out on an adventure. So here we are…2 girls, no plan, almost no money…and one goal-for Stacy to eat her first Philly cheesesteak. Being the foodie that I am, I continued to point out different places along the way. But nothing could interfere with our search for the quintessential cheesesteak. With so many amazing options in the city, we knew we would need some help making a choice. We enlisted Ashley, our resident Philly food expert, to narrow down our choices. Since Stacy isn’t very familiar with the city, Ashley and I insisted on venturing over to Reading Terminal. Along the way Ashley and I (with a little assistance from Scott) gave Stacy the low down on what to order. Anyone from Philadelphia knows that a legit cheesesteak is made with whiz-not provolone, American or cheddar-those are for amateurs. We’re talking neon orange goo that comes straight from a can and never expires cheese whiz. For anyone who has ever wondered why Philadelphia is one of the fattest city’s in America…this would be reason number one. We finally found the perfect place for Stacy to lose her cheese steak virginity…Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks. While this is not one of the famous places that you often hear about like Geno’s, Pat’s or Tony Luke’s, this place fit the bill. Since there was a long line Stacy was able to rehearse her order for a good 15 minutes. It didn’t matter. As she approached the cashier with a look of nervous excitement she said “Cheese steak with whiz and onions”. Ashley and I looked on with such pride, but it didn’t fool the cashier…she could tell this was Stacy’s first time. As her order came out the white roll was oozing with chopped steak and bright orange melted whiz. Stacy took her first bite and an immediate smile sprawled across her face quickly followed by “This is sooooo good!” Mission accomplished… but now that we broke her in with a traditional cheese steak, it’s time to introduce her to the best that Philly has to offer. Some people say “When in Rome”, but I say “When in Philly.” And one thing’s for sure, this will not be the last time you hear about the whiz.

Feeling full and content we decided to partake in a more cultural activity for the rest of the day. We walked over to The Franklin Institute which is by far one of the most exciting and interactive museums I ever visited as a kid. It was just as awe inspiring as I remember and nothing stopped us from partaking in every activity that no one over the age of 12 should be interested in trying. Have I mentioned I am one of the most easily amused people I know? It doesn’t take much and this museum went above and beyond. Ashley even left saying how she wishes she knew more about Physics and that’s coming from a girl that is not the slightest bit nerdy. Bottom line-this place is cool. If you’re ever in Philly, it is definitely worth checking out.

After a few hours of much needed rest and relaxation the three of us walked over to 18th and Chestnut for dinner at Stephen Starr’s Continental Midtown. As far as I’m concerned, this man is an absolute genius. His restaurant concepts are so creative and the theme of each place is so different and eclectic. The place was packed and we were unable to make a reservation, so we ended up sitting in their rooftop bar area. I was told that during the summer they open up the whole floor and I can only imagine it’s one of the hottest places to be in Philly on a warm summer night or day…depending on when you like to start your cocktail hour. No judgments on my end. I am a firm believer that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. This place is fun drink central and has a great selection of martinis and cocktails. I’m always partial to anything with bubbles so I skipped out on the mixed drinks and opted for a glass (or three) of cava, Stacy got a martini with vodka, chocolate milk and an espresso liquor and Ashley had a jolly rancher martini. Besides the amazing drinks, this place also has incredible tapas style food, which is always my favorite choice for going out with girlfriends. It provides you with the perfect opportunity to try a bunch of completely different flavors without getting too full. Between the three of us we ordered a chopped salad, BBQ chicken quesadilla with avocado sour cream, tofu tempura served with edamame, avocado and mustard-miso dressing, and my personal favorite the French onion soup dumplings baked with gruyere cheese. When dining at this restaurant, these dumplings are not to be missed. We concluded our night with a drink at Rum Bar and parted ways around midnight.

Our final day in Philly consisted mostly of Stacy and I wandering around the city aimlessly and spending hours at a time sitting in a coffee shop writing and discussing life and all of its possibilities. Deep I know…we get that way sometimes.

On Sunday night we left Philly with fond memories and maybe a few clogged arteries.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Piece de Resistance

Based on who I spend most of my time with, a few people are bound to make repeat appearances in this blog. When someone tells me a story I like to have a little background on the people I’m hearing about and if possible a picture so I can put a face with a name. Here’s a little breakdown on some of the key players in my life.

Hank Taplinger: This is my wonderful father who is the only man I know who will cook an entire gourmet meal for himself and then describe in detail the exact ingredients he used and what wine or cocktail he paired with it. His love for food exceeds everything other than family and a trip with him means a tour of restaurants and open air markets. Museums are not his thing, but take him to an open market and he will spend hours staring at the fish display… Pike’s Market in Seattle might rank #1 in Hank’s seafood tour of America. He is the happiest person I know and has achieved self actualization like no other person I’ve ever met.

Pam Taplinger: This is my amazing mother who balances my Dad’s love for food with a healthy dose of reality that you can’t eat everything and anything without experiencing some of the consequences. While my mom is a pretty experimental eater, she also is unwilling to try certain delicacies-some examples include raw fish, red meat (most of the time) and she’s been known to reign my Dad and I in when we’re having too much fun trying new things. My Mom seeks balance in everything that she does and pushes me to relax and keep everything in moderation. My Mom is the reason why our family vacations include excursions outside of the culinary realm. Without her I may have never stepped in an actual museum the entire time I was in Europe or gained a strong sense of discipline in my life. She is one of the most motivated women I know and I admire her endlessly for that.

Stacy Tasman: This is my best friend since high school who recently moved in with me in my small New York City apartment. We met on our first day of school Junior year in our first period French class. Despite the early hour, we bonded instantly and our friendship has flourished ever since. Stacy’s ideal meal used to be anything that seemed safe. Grilled chicken was king and anything outside of the box was considered intimidating and unappealing. I am happy to report that 7 years later and after traveling all over the world Stacy is now a much more experimental eater. She’s open to trying new things and realizes that one mushroom won’t kill her. One of the best things about our friendship is that we both have grown apart while growing together so we always bring new things to the table. Our friendship has never been superficial and we’ve always able to bring each other down to earth when necessary.

Montana Ross: Despite the fact that Ross is her last name, Montana is basically a Taplinger. Setting her up with my cousin is one of the best things I’ve ever done. My family knew she was one of us after taking her on her very first trip to Tarpon Springs. As much as we love trying new restaurants together, some of my best memories with her involved our nights when we cook together or when we decided to play mixologist on Memorial Day a few years ago. Who knew M&M’s, coffee creamer and vodka would be great in a cocktail… it sounds crazy I know, but we are on to something. Montana is one of the most enthusiastic people I know and I am so happy to call her part of my family.

Jessica Freeman Henderson: This is my roommate in New York City who’s ideal meal would be macaroni and cheese, cheesesteaks, bagels and cheesecake frozen yogurt with graham cracker crumbs from 16 Handles around the corner from our apartment. When we first moved in together we would make an effort to try new restaurants in our neighborhood on Sunday nights. Our budgets don’t allow us to try as many places as we’d like, but our low cost staples are some of the best in the city.

Maddie Aubuchon: This is one of my best friends from college who shares my love of extended dinners. We share a love for nice restaurants and expensive things which often gets us into trouble. I introduced her to my obsession with Prosecco and she has shared some amazing recipes with me. She’ll be the first person to volunteer to bake for someone’s birthday or invite everyone over for dinner. I look forward to when she lives closer and these dinners can take place more often.

Ashley Orleans: We are each other’s oldest friends and our relationship originated back in the day when getting popsicles at Camp by the Sea in Longport was the most exciting part of our day. Our tastes have evolved along with our friendship and we now get together in Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore whenever possible. When together we often talk about restaurants and frequent some of our favorites in both locations. We have a mutual obsession with every restaurant by Stephen Starr and she always introduces me to the best new places in the city.

Meghan McGuire: Meghan and I met at work and instantly bonded over our obsession with food and wine. She has introduced me to some of my favorite restaurants in the city, and we’ve shared great conversations over a bottle or two of wine. We are constantly sending each other menus to look at and information on restaurant openings and reviews. I know I can always count on her for wanting to try a new place and for giving good advice on what to order. One day we’ll turn our fantasies of gallivanting around Europe together on a culinary tour into reality. In the meantime, New York City is a great place for us to explore.

For starters we have...

Everyone has a passion…for some it’s shopping, exercising, photography or various other activities. My name is Lauren and my passion is food and wine.

You could say I was destined to be in love with all things culinary and vino related since I grew up with parents who introduced me to new and exciting flavors from the time I was little. My I’ll try anything once attitude allowed me to experience some amazing food and I caught the foodie bug at a very young age.

Traveling around the U.S. and part of Europe has only heightened my obsession and exposed me to new cultures and dining experiences. While in Europe I insisted on eating the regional cuisine of each country and sipping their specialty wine. In Nice and Cannes that meant enjoying my first aperitif…I learned my lesson very quickly that you must add water in order to enjoy the strong black licorice taste. In Tuscany I fell in love with their simple and amazing bruschetta on thick crusty bread, linguini with chopped red tomatoes, shaved parmesan and crushed red pepper. All of this accompanied by a regional Chianti with the Rooster on the label of course. I could go on and on about various amazing meals I’ve had over the years, but I’ll save that for other entries.

When I moved to New York City in November, my Dad bought me a 2010 Zagat Guide. I immediately pledged to eat at every restaurant in the city in a year. I obviously was a little ahead of myself and it’s pretty much impossible to accomplish that goal without skipping out on work to try a new restaurant, gaining at least 10 pounds and letting my food journey consume all of my free time. Did I mention that I’m overworked and underpaid which doesn’t leave me with too much money in my wallet. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE food and wine, but I do have other interests.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I am extremely passionate. Every meal that I eat is not gourmet, but I try to be open minded in every situation. I’m a single girl in New York City who’s open to new experiences, new people and most importantly new restaurants and recipes. Follow me as I tell you what’s On Tap.