A Drink Break

J told me a couple of weeks back that he wanted to try taking a couple of weeks off from drinking to see how it’d effect his workouts and his weight. I told him I’d join him in this fast because maybe it’d effect my weight, too. When I drink, I don’t drink many drinks but I’ve found that because of social engagements, I drink what could be called often

The break will have been just under two weeks and it’s been easy. My bar and restaurant tabs are cheaper ($$$$!) which is mostly what I’m excited about because I’m the cheapest person alive and drinking at brunch or while out at dinner is pricey, it adds an extra $20 to a tab if each person has just one drink.

We ended our prohibition slightly early because we had to go to a party on Saturday. We each had a couple of drinks and it was fine. But I kept a mental tally of the times that I had to decline a beverage over the last two or so weeks:

  • Started on Wednesday (I mean, unofficially, I hadn’t had a drink since the Sunday before.)
  • Friday: My office does a weekly rye tasting every Friday so I had to decline the last two weeks. Totally fine. Rye tastes like shit.
  • Friday, later: I went to The Hamilton with Ben and didn’t drink. My tab was so cheap. Amazing.
  • Sunday brunch: No booze = cheap bill
  • Friday: No rye for me!

Part of me wanted to have a beer last Friday at The Hamilton, but it was OK.

Given that I have 3-4 drinks per week, this wasn’t really challenging. I do like to have a beer one night a week when I’m hanging out at home, but I didn’t miss it that much and I don’t really want to drink by myself, so it was all for the better.

Conclusion: I didn’t miss it and I really enjoyed spending less at restaurants and bars. I also don’t think it effects my weight that much because I don’t actually drink enough for it to make a difference. I realized I can easily have a social life when not drinking. All good things. 

Related: Why You Should Take a Booze Break This Summer, via MindBodyGreen

Drama-Free Valentine’s Day

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I’m happy to say Valentine’s Day was drama free. I wasn’t expecting any drama (my dude and I are both pretty chill) but after hearing some friend’s stories, I was extra grateful. We went to a friend’s party in Brooklyn – walking way too far in the frigid cold from Barclays after the F train was refusing to appear. The party was lots of fun and we we were diabetic after from ingesting way too much sugar, as expected. We stopped at Sugar Shoppe on the way home, and Fat Daddy Taco (we needed to eat food that wasn’t 95% sugar).

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We started Sunday off with a leisurely brunch at The Hamilton before showering and attempting our plans of milkshakes and The Boy. Upon arriving at Black Tap in the Meatpacking District, we witnessed the most ridiculous wrapping line plus a bouncer in 10* weather and immediately abandoned ship. Starving, we stopped at The Diner on 14th and 9th for some delicious (albeit overpriced) comfort food. We hopped on the train to 42nd Street to attempt an earlier showing of The Boy. It’s been out for weeks, so how could there be a problem? It turns out that EVERYONE wants to go to the movies when it’s Arctic outside so our movie was sold out plus the theatre was mobbed because the machines to buy tickets were down.

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the scene outside Black Tap Burger. guys, they’re just milkshakes. 

Our plans were just not meant to be, I guess. We ended up making dinner at my apartment and settling in for a double-header of Frozen (that was better than I expected, said Justin) and a movie called Dark Skies (it’s a thriller about aliens with Kerry Russell and I totally enjoyed it).

And we ate more candy. So much candy. Because: Valentine’s Day. 

Least Favorite Made Up Holiday

Let me preface this to say that I think all holidays are made up. Did you know that there’s zero evidence that Jesus H. Christ was born on December 25th? And don’t get me started on Easter. Halloween is made up but at least that one’s just fun.

I’m not typically a fan of Valentine’s Day. Two years ago when my then-long distance boyfriend flew in I asked him to cancel last-minute our dinner reservations (nothing too outrageous, I promise) and asked him to go to a pub instead. I felt fraudulent getting behind the holiday that is a) made up, b) will obviously leave large groups of people feeling bad about themselves which is unnecessary.

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Last year I watched this vlog by Gabby Bernstein and I said fuck it and made it a day for self-care. I took a bath, I got a mani/pedi, it was fun. I even went all the way out to Brooklyn the day after for a kundalini yoga self-love workshop that a girlfriend of mine was hosting and met lots of really cool people who were also in need of something to do on this day, whether they were single or not. That was totally fun. I may or may not have started a “love vision board” (at the suggestion of Bernstein) that never really went anywhere and never was hung up. The point was that it was a lot more fun to focus on what I wanted for the future and how I could make myself feel good right now than wallow with a bunch of other depressed people at a bar.

This year I find myself in a relationship again (and not a long distance one, thank fucking god) and it’s a really wonderful and comfortable one. I knew I still didn’t want to make a big thing of the stupid day but I suggested eating one of those ridiculous milkshakes at Black Tap Burger and going to see The Boy. Is there anything more appropriate for Valentine’s Day than a horror movie? Nah. Even though it received horrible reviews it’ll be fun.  

The best part about Valentine’s Day this year? The Walking Dead is back! My dude and I are both stoked about this.

So, instead putting a lot of pressure on this day, I’m going to be Captain Obvious over here and tell you to just chill out and do what makes you feel good.

Vegan in the Village

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Last Wednesday, I typed ‘healthy’ into Yelp for a very specific range of streets in the West Village and one of the first choices to pop up was a casual dining place called By Chloe. I’d never heard of it before, but I’m always open to try to occasional vegan restaurant and Kristen, whom I was meeting to see Company XIV’s Snow White with later in the evening, is always down to be casually vegan, so off we went (or met, rather).

This place is obviously incredibly popular among the NYU crowd as the line was to the door when I got there and eventually it went out the door and down the street. I usually really enjoy myself at vegan restaurants if I don’t go too crazy (no fake cheese for me, thank you). I had the spicy Thai salad (it was ginormous) and a small side of butternut/something else soup. They were both delicious. They need to work on their portion control though.

Anyways, it was a really lovely meal and experience. I would maybe go back but not if the line is still out the door. 100% recommended for vegans and non-vegans who like eating vegetables.

I’ve read Skinny Bitch and it was compelling. I know how horrible the dairy industry is. I’ve watched Food Inc, and Forks Over Knives, and Food Matters (was that the name? I don’t remember). The truth is I never buy milk. If it’s in my fridge it’s because I needed it for one very specific recipe and now the rest of it is slowly going bad, or my boyfriend bought it because there’s only so many times he can stomach the coconut milk that I buy. I buy mozzarella occasionally, and eggs maybe once a month from a local place.

The truth is: I like eating meat. Especially chicken, and the occasional burger (I don’t actually like steak). And I also occasionally like dairy. Mozzarella is delicious and whipped cream makes the taste of coffee bearable.

I think the vegan dairy alternatives to cheese are just gross. And they’re also filled with a whole bunch of other shit that is unnecessary to be ingesting if you just eat a piece of natural fucking cheese. Here’s the ingredient list for Daiya dairy-free cheese: “Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Palm Fruit Oil, Expeller Pressed non GMO
Canola Oil and/or Expeller Pressed non GMO Safflower Oil, Coconut Oil,
Pea Protein Isolate, Natural Vegan Flavors, Vegetable Glycerine, Brown
Rice Syrup, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid (Vegan,
for flavor), Annatto (for color) Carrageenan, Titanium Dioxide (a
naturally occurring mineral), Vegan Enzyme.”

What? Ew. Give me regular mozzarella cheese or give me death. So, while I totally enjoyed my experience at By Chloe, I’m not going vegan anytime soon.

All Fancy

I’ve walked by The Wayfarer, a fancy-ish restaurant on 57th and 6th, for a couple of years now. I’d mentioned to Justin that I’d wanted to try it when we were in the mood to be fancy and splurge on a meal a couple of months ago, and to my total surprise, as part of my Christmas gift, he’d saved the email I’d sent him and made a reservation for us to eat there on Saturday night. He sore a suit jacket and fancy shoes and I wore a black dress and boots and off we went. 

After being seated in the most perfect circular booth, we started with pink champagne and fried chicken dumplings (first photo) and for seconds, a Six Point (him) and more pink champagne (me). For entrees, he had the burger and fries; I had the roasted beet and kale salad (bottom left) and the shrimp tempura rolls (top right). We ended up splitting sides of charred broccoli (so good) and sautéed brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds (even better). Lastly but certainly not least, we split the molten chocolate lava cake with whipped cream and chocolate ice cream (bottom right).

Everything was absolutely delicious. It was a perfect night to get dressed up and pretend to be a little fancier than we are on an every day basis. 

I highly recommend it. 

On Friday night, Matt gathered a group of people like he usually does and we headed to the 7:30 show at Comix on 14th and 9th.  The show was great, and afterward Paul said he knew of a bar nearby that we should go to.  I was almost ready to jump ship at 14th and 8th, but I’m glad I didn’t.  After lots of u-turns and iPhone consulting, we finally found our way to Orient Express on West 11th Street.  

We grabbed the three tables-for-two in the front window and gazed at the menu.  The drinks were expensive but potent so they were well worth it.  We kept insisting, “This is our last one!” Famous. last. words.  So, then we ordered more.  "I’m going to spend all of my money on alcohol tonight!“ were other famous last words spoken multiple times.  There were lots of showtunes sung, laughter was abundant, and friends were made.  

The bar never got too crowded, as so many others are on Friday nights, so it was a relaxing night.  We finally decided to leave at 2am (probably because of our dwindling bank accounts).  I would definitely go back next time I’m with a group of people who don’t mind spending more than $5 on a drink.

All in all, a perfect Friday night.

Orient Express is located at 325 West 11th Street.

George Keeley’s, you’re doing it wrong.

Last week I met up with my best friend, Jess, and her sister, Dina, for an early dinner.  Jess was craving beer and ample amounts, so when I discovered that Fred’s wasn’t opened until 5pm, we walked a few blocks to George Keeley’s

I’d only been to George Keeley’s once before and it was on a Friday night, so food wasn’t really the main event.  I remembered that they did one thing well: wings. 

I convinced the girls to get wings and they were happy I did because they were very, very good.  I wish I could say the same for my quesadilla but I cannot.  It was gross, and the portion size was disgustingly big.  I didn’t try any of my friend’s dishes, but they didn’t look too appetizing either.

In conclusion: If you’re looking for good (or decent) bar food, George Keeley’s is not the spot.  I’d recommend going up to what I’ve lovingly dubbed Dochebag Row (both Brother Jimmy’s and Jake’s Dilemma are on that block) and pop in to grab a bite at The Dead Poet, where the food is much tastier and though the crowd does get a little ridiculous and kind-of douchebaggy, it’s a much nicer atmosphere than most of the bars you’ll find in that area. 

Thai, Japanese, and Fusion; oh, my!

While living on the Upper West Side for a year and a half, I’ve developed a list of my favorite Japanese, Thai, and Asian-Fusion restaurants.  And surprise, surprise… They’re all stupidly cheap.  

Sura: I’ve written about Sura before, but I can’t enough about it.  They serve an $8 lunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays that includes three courses.  I usually go for the Oriental salad, Pad Thai, and green tea ice cream (although the custard is tasty, too).  This meal would cost close to $20 when it’s a week day, so if you’re in the neighborhood at the right time, stop in and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Broadway between 100th and 101st Street.  

Matsu:  I discovered this place after last years Webutante Ball with two native New Yorker’s that I met at the party.  I’ve been back several times since and it’s never disappointed.  Entrees are usually around $10 and the food is actually really good!  83rd Street and Columbus.

Ozen:  My favorite place for delivery.  I’ve only had the pad thai and chicken teriyaki from Ozen, and while the pad thai is amazing, the chicken teriyaki is awful.  It’s dry as sandpaper.  The pad thai is awesome but the portion they serve is enormous.  To give you an idea: I had a plate full last night, a plate full today for lunch, and then two of my co-workers also had full plates for lunch today.  If you only have $10 and you need to feed you and your three friends, this is the place for you.   

I’d heard about the Boat Basin Cafe many times since moving to the Upper West Side but I’d had yet to venture over and down.  Until last night that is!  A few of my UWS’er girls and I decided to kick off the Fourth of July weekend with a view… and a drink!  

Well, after the two hour wait (ugh) we sat at a table with a perfect view and noshed on nachos before ordering.  I had the chopped salad with a piece of corn, and a mango mai tai (YUM!).  Everything was really good – though I think it has to be said that Boat Basin is not known for it’s food and though it was good, it was nothing special.  People go there obviously for the spectacular view.  

And Boat Basin is puppy friendly (as per the above picture), so feel free to bring your pooch!  

Boat Basin Cafe is located at 79th Street and West End.  Click here for more information.  

It seems as though I’ve been spending a lot of time on the UES lately, and in keeping with that tradition tonight I tried the food at Southern Hospitality (@BBQNYC) on 77th and 2nd.  My friend Tom and I decided we had a craving for ribs (it’s the Fourth of July after all!) and he suggested Southern Hospitality.  I eat ribs once a year and it’s usually the Fourth of July.  I can barely justify it to myself, but BBQ chicken and BBQ tofu just doesn’t hold a candle to BBQ ribs.

I have a vague memory of walking into this establishment once late at night back when I was in college and immediately thinking, “what a sh*thole!” and being relieved when my friend said we should go somewhere else.  Needless to say, I didn’t have much hope for the food.

We sat outside which was quite nice and I’m extremely pleased to say that I thought the food was quite good (dare I even admit that I enjoyed it a bit more than the BBQ at Dinosaur BBQ?).  I had the half-ribs/half-chicken combo and only made it through the ribs before asking for the chicken to be packed up to-go.  

With the perfect seating, perfect weather, great company, and tasty food, this was a perfect way to end the 2nd day of the July Fourth weekend.  

(photo via)