NYC, NYC Dining, Uncategorized

Bites with Budda(kan)

When you go out to eat you are not only looking for good food. Sure, that may be the first thing you think about, but location, atmosphere, energy, etc can truly become what makes the experience complete (unless the food is horrible, then all these other things are negated).

Think about your most memorable dining experiences (the positive ones). Close your eyes and open your senses. What do you see? What do you smell? How do you feel?

The Jailer escorts you to your table. As he opens the cell you slide on to your cold, metal seat. Soon the sweet aroma of BBQ ribs wafts by and you remember you’re hungry. After you fill yourself to the brim you search for your server, hoping they haven’t left you to rot (eventually, after a lot of digestion) behind bars. But hey, I guess if you can’t afford your meal they have an easy way of keeping you there! This was the Old Salt Lake City Jail restaurant in Salt Lake City. Even though I went when I was 10 or 11-years-old, it is still to this day one of the greatest dining experiences I have ever had.

Now I live in New York City. I live in a place known for having every food you can every think of (all all the others you could have never imagined). Some are simple holes in the wall that just have food so superb the order line runs down the street. Some provide views of the entire city with delectable dining above it all. New York restaurants are featured in late night shows, TV shows and movies. Needless to say, when dining in New York City, you have very high expectations.

Buddakan is one such place. However, it is deceiving in the beginning. While the entry/bar area is decorated very tastefully, it’s nothing to make you truly excited for your evening ahead. With your first round of drinks down the hatch, the host comes to take you to your table and you stop in your tracks as you approach the staircase.

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The picture just doesn’t do it justice

You finally hustle down the stairs as you realize the rest of your party is already at the bottom of the stairs and you will definitely get lost if you aren’t with them. Walking past the grand table with its chandeliers emitting the perfect soft glow, you imagine a feast with royalty seated around (or the cast of Sex and the City apparently as well). Walking through an archway you see tapestries draping some walls, scenes of angels taking you back to the 14th century, while another wall features many faces and colors of Buddha. You smile, you’re completely at peace and your stomach hasn’t even been satisfied yet!

I would proceed to post a picture of the food and discuss how delectable it is (and it truly is), but we ate it all to quickly for me to capture it. Instead, I’ll skip to dessert and just tell you that you NEED to eat here. If simply for the jaw-dropping view at the top of the stairs, it is a must experience while in New York City. It’s an amazing experience that stimulates and satisfies every sense, leaving the diner with nothing more to desire (rather than maybe just to stay and admire the scenery a little more while you try to finish that last bite of of your sweet dessert that has capped off everything so perfectly.

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I almost couldn’t eat it it looked so cool (almost that is)

So close your eyes, open your senses, and find yourself at Buddakan where the vision can never leave you, and if you’re afraid it is, you’ll just want to come back again for a refresher.

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NYC, NYC Subway, Uncategorized

The Subway Symphony

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes.”A magic beyond all we do here.” Albus Dumbledore

 

Music has been in my life since I can remember. From my mother’s lullabies, to 7+ years of playing in band and a lot in between, music has been something my whole body yearns to have on a daily basis. It doesn’t just settle the buzzing noise between my ears, music calms me body and soul.

New York City has every type of music available for every type of person. There are symphonies and operas; jazz clubs and discos. New York City is the home to The Juilliard School (a place I used to dream about what it would be like to go there), Broadway, Central Park concerts, and The Carnegie Club featuring Frankie and the gang on Saturday nights (oh I could sit and listen and sing and dance forever here). Ellen’s Stardust Diner is known for its server’s singing performances, as they are all aspiring Broadway stars (and I would venture to bet this is the same with 75% of the rest of the servers/hosts in the city, that or aspiring actors). Yes, music has permeated every part of this city you can think of and more. But one of my favorite places I have found music in this city is in subways.

When I first moved here I was going through the subway station at Times Square when I saw a children’s Mennonite choir singing hymns. I’ve seen the saw violin, the one-man band, an astounding opera singer, and a blues group that could almost take you straight to the Delta if you let your eyes stay closed long enough. While some of these are people simply looking for a way to get by, many (like more than 350) are a part of the MUNY or Music Under New York presented by the MTA Arts for Transit. This amazing program, started in 1985 shows so many talented, amazing people. But it’s sad, while these professionals sit and play for hours, hardly anyone takes the time to stop and notice them. Remember when this happened in D.C.?

This concert violinist was almost completely ignored, simply because we are too busy with our day to stop and listen to the music. I admit I get like this far more often than I care to admit, but the other day I really stopped and listened and discovered someone amazing. Erik Heger was 5-years-old when he happened upon 10 harps hiding in his grandfather’s attic. Being a badass soldier in WWII (as Heger put it), he looked up to his grandfather as his hero. When he discovered this other talent of his grandfathers outside of shooting down the bad guys, he decided it must be really really cool and the rest is history. Heger can play anything you can think of. From Katy Perry to Jazz and Blues, classical beauties and compositions of his own. And if you saw him on the street, you would not pin him as a harpist (at least I wouldn’t, coming from Utah, most harpists are pretty little blonde girls). I sat and listened and chatted with him for over 45minutes, and I could have stayed longer if I didn’t have to get home to make my husband dinner – Heger was simply amazing. Here he is playing Mad World from Donnie Darko:

Stop and listen to the music every once in awhile, even if it’s just for five minutes. That five minutes may be just the thing your mind, body and soul needed.

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Dogs, NYC, NYC Subway

Walking Your Human in NYC

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I come from a very human-friendly town. I would say that about 90% of the local population owns a human and they can be seen everywhere around town. Park City even hosts a bark-o-ween parade and bash, just for dogs to show off their amazing taste in costume. Go trail running and you will see dogs and their humans. Go biking and you will see a human trying to keep up with their four legged friend – and dogs parks and lax leash laws are dotted everywhere. Park City seems to pale in comparison, however, to what I have seen in New York City.

With this ‘horrible’ winter we have had, booties have been a major necessity and they come in every hue and pattern you can think of (including fur lined). Sweaters, puffy vests and one piece suits are worn by almost everyone. They are fur lined, bejeweled and embroidered. They come from D&G, Juicy, Lord & Taylor and more. Most days our four legged fellows greatly out-style me!

Now it’s not the amount of dogs and their impeccable fashion sense that really amazes me. It’s the places I have seen them! Dogs take their humans to coffee shops, restaurants and banks. They take them on the subway, which is awfully brave of them (I did think about how terrified my old dog would have been riding in such a thing). But the places that have really surprised me are dogs taking their humans to retail and department stores. In Ann Taylor the other day, I saw a mid-sized dog walking around like it was nothing. Dogs take the humans to Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Uniqlo and Tiffany’s and everywhere in between. . And while I haven’t seen a Great Dane taking their human shopping yet, I don’t know that I will be surprised when I do.

Now do I think this is a little ridiculous to bring your human into all these places? Just a bit. But I understand. These NYC dogs have such impeccable taste, I understand they are probably needed for fashion advice among other things. But perhaps you could just bark in approval or growl in disgust over their choices once they get home?

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NYC

Make New Friends But Keep the Old?

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If you were a little girl scout growing up you know the song. It sings of silver and gold, circles that never end, and friends forever. It’s a wonderful creed to live by, and one I seemed to do well at. . . until I moved to New York.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. And I have made a couple new friends, but they are the people I work with. With how much we are around each other I would hope we would become friends, if not, I don’t think the job would work out! My husband and I have also been fortunate enough to know a couple people from the past that happen to live in the city. Some have been people we had kept in touch with before, some were rekindling of old relationships, but either way, the friendship is there. But new friends, the kind that you just happen to meet at the gym or in a coffee shop, were something I was really looking forward to.

The first sign that making new friends was not going to be as easy as it had been in Utah came the first time I went to the gym. I joined a gym down the street from our place largely in the hopes that I would meet like minded people there who would be interested in getting together outside of the gym. I picked a some classes, and for the first couple weeks I went at least 10min early. I would go into the room and just sit myself among the women who were chatting away. The first class nobody seemed to even take notice at first, even after a, ‘good morning’. Not being a shy one, I eventually found a spot where I could interject an introduction. I mentioned that I had just moved here (the response of which I am used to hearing/giving in Utah is, ‘oh where from?’/how do you like it here/etc). I got – nothing. First day of class, I’m the weird new person, it’s ok, it will get better. That class didn’t.

Yoga was a bit harder to just open my mouth as you come early to class to do a little meditation. Still, I figured that with enough time I could start a conversation with someone after class, or that someone might notice I’m new and ask me where I was from or if I was new. What I got, rather, was people being in such a hurry to leave that there was clearly no time for conversation.

My husband and I discussed this and laughed a bit. We joked that it was a good thing we were just in our first year of marriage and still liked hanging out together all the time. But as time has worn on and we approach our six month mark, we have openly wondered what it is that makes making friends so hard. Perhaps it is just that we are odd. We love hosting parties and making people dinner (which is apparently not normal here) and we love having new people over and making people feel comfortable and welcome into our life. New York is not like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying New York people are mean. Quite on the contrary. Everyone I have met has been nice, cordial, friendly – but there’s a line. People will smile back, say hello (when prompted), but you can tell there is nothing else there. They have their life and there is no need to add other things to it. It’s something that I just do not connect with.

While I may not be meeting any New Yorkers to add to my friend circle, I am still blessed to have all those that I do. The closest ones may not be in New York with me, but that just means I can work on rekindling and strengthening relationships with former friends (or new ones via my husband). And perhaps one day I’ll get a New Yorker into my circles of silver and gold.

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NYC, Super Bowl 48

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I live in the Big Apple. Everything in the Big Apple is bigger. The buildings, the voices, the honking horns, the rent. . . New York does it big. It should come as no surprise then, that putting on Super Bowl XLVIII (48) was going to be big.

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It started on Sunday, one week before the big game. Tents were being erected, sponsors began to pour in, streets began to close. From 34 St. Herald Square to 44 St just above Time Square there was walking room only – this was Super Bowl Boulevard. There was ESPN, CNN, Fox Sports and CBS Sports. There was GMC, XBox and Papa John’s. There were field goals to kick and toboggans to slide. It was quite the site to see! Macy’s has an entire floor dedicated to everything Super Bowl and NFL, with some crazy auction items to boot (did you know football players once-upon-a-time wore onesies!?).

Then I got to MetLife stadium. 

Security was intense (a little over-the-top), and the crowd was split down the middle in blue and green or blue and orange. Each seat had a ‘goodie-bag’ of sorts waiting for their occupants. A seat pad with a pouch attached that included gloves, a hat, hand warmers, a two-way radio, even the hand-warming pouch you see the quarterbacks wear! Everything was a big production (with the millions that go into it I guess it should be). And I’m fairly certain there were as many camera men there as there were players on the field!

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The game got off to not the best start if you ask me (however my husband would say it was ‘amazing’), and it didn’t seem to get any better. But as the good sport that I am, I sucked it up for a couple minutes and even put on a Seahawks jersey (that’s what you get when you marry into a Washington family I guess).

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The creation of the halftime show happened incredibly quickly. No sooner were the players off the field, there before us sat a stage. A beautiful children’s choir led way to a very impressive performance by Bruno Mars. The Red Hot Chili Peppers made a short appearance ( I remembered them being much better in times past), and a shout-out from our troops with Bruno Mars serenading us all with, ‘Just the Way You Are’ almost ended the half-hour performance perfectly. I say ‘almost’ only because there were the fireworks. Boy did they do well with the fireworks.

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The second half held nothing exciting, just more beating. Three buckets of water doused Pete Caroll, the team rushed the field, and confetti blasted out, creating the perfect surface for confetti angels. We cheered and screamed for the champions of the USA in football as they were handed the Vince Lombardi trophy and, eventually, we made it home (let’s not go into details, that’s a whole blog in itself).

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Our walk home revealed that New York had fully embraced the west coast winner. From every angle you could see a building with lights of blue and green shooting into the sky.

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The Emerald City had come to New York, if only for the day. The memories made, however, will certainly last far, far longer.

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NYC

Comin’ Home

“I’m home”, I tell myself as I make my way down the jetway. I’m not sure of my intonation. Was it stated as a question? Disbelief, dread, excitement?

It had been three months and three days since I had been to JFK. As I saw the airport come into view my stomach started fluttering. I wasn’t going to see my immediate family, but I was going to get to spend time with my new family, I was going to get to hang out in the grass (Yakima, Washington had no snow yet) and I was going to go SKIING!!! Freedom! I was finally getting out of the city. I was finally going to be able to workout outside and feel like I was in nature again, something I was sorely missing. Then something strange happened – after the rush and excitement of Christmas I started to miss my new home. But what parts was I missing? That I wasn’t sure about.

You see, I have been getting the question, ‘oh my gosh, don’t you just LOVE New York!?’ My first reaction is a sideways glance and the immediate thought of, ‘you must not have ever lived in the city before’. So what could I possibly be missing if this was my gut reaction to that question?

We returned briefly to the city for New Years. I had been told by numerous people (including those who live in NYC) that after our first year we are going to want to spend New Years elsewhere. Not many people I know get to say they were in Manhattan for NYE, so I figured we needed to do it. We had some friends over, watched fireworks while dancing to music in Central Park (I wasn’t standing in Time Square for 13+ hours), and watched Sharknado until the wee hours of the morning (now there’s a movie to ring in 2014). But we were only back for a couple days before making our way to Park City (the fantastic, amazing Christmas present from my husband). Returning from there was when ‘coming home’ really hit me.

Getting off the plane my husband looked at me and said, ‘we’re home’. Meh, I don’t know about that. But as we got closer and closer to our apartment I got more and more excited. Walking through the doors of our apartment I realized what I missed. It wasn’t the big city, the bright lights or the towering skyscrapers that I wanted to see. It was the comfort of a home that I had finally made our own that I missed. Through countless hours of painting and decorating, making sure every picture was in place, every dish organized, I had made a place that felt a little like being tucked away in the mountains while being 18 stories high.

While I have not reached a ‘love’ stage for the city, it is home. I have made my happy place. It’s one small step outside the snow globe into this wild adventure that is now my life.

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