Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bite me.

Semi-al-fresco dining on 14th street.
As a wise girl once said, you have get something fast, cheap, and easy. Adopting this saying to eating out, I often think that you can't get a meal cheap, healthy and delicious. Bite is my new favorite exception to this rule.
On 14th between 2nd and 3rd, amidst a smorgasbord of bars and restaurants, Bite offers healthy, interesting options for all three meals of the day.
Any restaurant that has gossip magazines for the browsing is automatically worth a second trip.
Joey and I tried it out this Saturday for dinner. My body lately has been overworked, under paid, immuno-depleted, and nutrient deprived. I needed some vegetables and I needed them fast.
I ordered the soup and salad combo, Garden Gaspacho and Mediterranean Salad were my picks. The soup was incredible, the tomato base was spicy and a hint of cucumber added freshness.
The salad was a bowl of field greens topped with roasted eggplant, hummus, almonds, and cucumber. Olive oil was drizzled over and the combination of the hummus and oil created a hearty dressing.
A warm pita was served along side and I used it to dip in all of my veggie juices.

Joey ordered a combo with a Middle Eastern Turkey sandwich and vegetarian lentil soup. The Middle Eastern Turkey was pretty American, just a sandwich  with some hummus on it. But the soup was a highlight, packed with spiced veggies and nutty lentils.

Verdict: Absolutely a place to return. The options were plentiful, the ingredients fresh, and the prices very reasonable, (our dinners were $7.50 and $8.50!)

14th Strreet between 2nd and 3rd

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene, just another lazy sunday.

The hurricane that was supposed to rip Manhattan apart ended at about 9 am. Irenes have been known to be flaky, flighty characters. They say they're going to show up, and then the time comes and they bail.
My roommate, Megan, and I headed out to walk around in the storm's wake.
There was not much to see, to be honest.
There was lots of trash on the street, but wait, there is always trash on the street.
There were broken windows in the bar on the corner. Irene? No, those were shattered two weeks ago.
We walked across the Williamsburg Bridge. Lots of people were out and about, enjoying the breezy weather and the feeling of a world put on pause.
Megan was busy being a cool artist and taking pictures of beautiful and interesting things. I took pictures of tourists in ponchos.

Storm's over, guys.
The Williamsburg Bridge has a nice, wide path going across and lots of high barriers to prevent people from going over the edge. (Golden Gate Bridge, take notes.) 

We talked around Williamsburg for a while, being careful to not take too many turns to we didn't get lost. There was a surprising amount of places open, some open even while their windows were boarded up. When there are no subways to take, no jobs to go into, and no storm to hide from, going out drinking and dining is a solid option for many.
Irene-proof windows.
Megan and I took notes of many cute places we want to visit on Bedford Street. We stopped for fruit bowls at a grocery store and then turned around to head home. I wore my rain boots although it was completely unnecessary. So I walked straight into some puddles just to make it worth it.
Still-life, I call it "Fruit and Rainboot."
The way back gave great views of Manhattan against a dreary sky. The swollen river and the clouds were an identical shade of gray.
Oh hello, your highness.
Back to our neighborhood, more storefronts were open and more faces were out bopping around. The streets were slowly gaining speed, but the pace was still comfortingly slow.
Will the subways run before the Monday morning rush? 
Will the storm's damage be the worst in the arena of national debt?
And most importantly, will Starbucks be open tomorrow? 

Only time will tell. In the mean time, I'll be in my apartment playing drinking games with all the water in our emergency storm stockpile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little Italy; a little bit too far to walk in a rainstorm.

Dear New York City, 

Please stop complaining about the crazy weather, thunderstorms, and earthquakes. It's only going to get worse from here. 

       Global Warming

My New York friends and I celebrated the birthday of one of my roommates last weekend. She may have been slightly injured going into the birthday festivities, but she powered through. Anyone who lets pain and health concerns get in the way of fun does shame to birthdays everywhere.

My roommates and I spent Saturday tanning at our urban beach, (a.k.a. the unfinished rooftop out the emergency exit of our apartment building. At least the aluminum coating is good for attracting rays.)
A party was had, drinks were poured, and a town was painted red. I need not say more.

Sunday was sunny and humid and all day the sky was just threatening to pour a God-sized bucket of water down on everyone below.
The bucket of water began 'a flowin' right when we were going to go to dinner in Little Italy. The birthday girl is a lover of all things Italian, having spent some time living there. So miss out on a dinner with her at a place that she deemed worthy? Absolutely not. Our small but enthusiastic crew headed to Little Italy with umbrellas that proved to be just not enough protection.

But then we got to the restuarant and the bread was like pillows.
And the wine warmed my cold, wet soul.
And the gnocci made me feel comforted even though the wait staff put us awkwardly in the corner of the upstairs with no windows.
And the free Italian doughnuts at the end of the meal made me full.

Birthday girl enjoyed her carbonara.
And we all dug the conversation.
And no one dug walking back to our apartment in the rain.

Verdict: I loved the night out with friends and trying out a new neighborhood close-by. But my bowl of pasta was nothing monumental. The portions were serious and I was glad I shared to save money and not be overwhelmed by pasta.  The ambiance seemed a little forced and something likely to attract a tourist crowd. I may not head back, but if you're in the area and a host lures you in with promises of homestyle Italian favorites, your night will be no worse for the wear.

Da Nico Ristorante
164 Mulberry St. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sitting on a Dirty Curb, Not as Glamourous as it Sounds.

Bolt Bust to Boston, been there done that. But this was my first trip as a resident of New York and visitor to Bean Town. My best friends were waiting four hours to the North and I was anxious to get there, but as the bus-riders proverb goes, ‘One planning to ride standby will be punished.’

Wait, how much does it cost? It's kind of unclear...
And punished I was. I had to wait an additional HOUR on the sidewalk. New found respekk for sandwich-board-wearers and anyone else who spends their day standing. Sh*t's tough. So while standing on the street at 34th and 8th was not ideal, I found a way to make it work, (read: I found lunch!)I made friends with the man next to me and had him hold my spot as I got lunch and brought it back to my place in the queue. My lunch was the one efficient thing about my travel experience.  A five dollar lunch box filled with various Asian dishes of my choice made the most of my money. The Lunch Box, on 34th between 6th and 7th is a budget-luncher’s heaven. Amidst a horde of chain restaurants, cheap clothing stores, and scaffolding, The Lunch Box is a beacon of inexpensive deliciousness. And it fully supports a women’s right to choose. 

 And chose I did. I chose kiwi, cucumber salad, fried rice, eggplant in garlic sauce, and pork dumplings. Hello, feast.

Returning to the bus line I was forced to sit on the curb like a vagrant to eat my lunch. I was feeling rather down and out.  I was an hour postponed because of my own unpreparedness, I was sitting on the curb hoping for a Bolt Bus miracle, but at least I had my lunch box.

And you can get yours too.
Hello, hungry people.

The Lunch Box
34th between 6th and 7th
$5.00 lunch box with 5 dishes

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Moving in to an apartment while starting a job looks like this:
There is a toaster, a frying pan, four spatulas, and a Belgian waffle maker on my dining room table.
The chance of me using one of them to actually make something is zero.

So out into the world I go. 

Breakfast with the roommates at 88 Orchard at the corner of Orchard and Broome. While you may want to toss this into the category of 'restaurants-so-chic-they-don't-have-a-name-just-an-address', refrain from judgement for a minute. The place is laid back and has plenty of seating upstairs, outside, and downstairs. Some people are sipping coffee and reading, others are working on their laptops, while some pairs are on a breakfast date, or a post-date breakfast ;) .  The place was casual and the pace was slow, perfect for a Saturday. The staff was friendly and and the menu wasn't full of aggressive jargon about organic, fair-trade, and saving the world one lump of granola at a time. I do love me some granola but there are only so many buzz words one can stomach early in the morning. 

One herb omelet sandwich on ciabatta with white cheddar, one plate of french toast, and three coffees later, my roommates and I were ready to tackle a day at IKEA. Let me rephrase, we realized it was inevitable and we reluctantly got on the F train to Brooklyn.

I will save the drama about my day at IKEA because there is no use dwelling on the negatives, but let's just say there is a person named Matt who works for customer service who will never, ever, be my friend. 

And now here is my lifestyle upgrade, I have a furnished apartment and I can sit at my kitchen table and drink celebratory champagne out of a Dairy Queen cup. (Where did these come from? Why do we have them? Why is there not a Blizzard in it?)

 88 Orchard
88 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10009

Friday, August 12, 2011

Living in Limbo

I love walking around my neighborhood. It is beautiful and changes by the block. I can get lost and love finding my way home. So far in the battle of Audrey versus the budget, Audrey is losing. I guess I get to throw a lot of my expenditures under the blanket of “start up costs,” but still. Does frozen yogurt count as a start up cost?
Here are some stupid things that have been taking up too much of my time:
- getting stalked by the owner of a gym that I casually considered joining. Now that he has my number I am getting more calls from him than from my own boyfriend.
- finding an air conditioner. Three hours, five stores, and 2 buckets of sweat later I have a unit, but Jesus.
- trying to steal wireless from my neighbors.

I have training for my job that includes a lot of “self-directed work time.” This may make me sound like a worthless lump, but that is a tough bill. Sorry if this is just me, but I would kind of prefer to have 25 kids sitting in front of me screaming “TEACH ME!” It is August and it is HOT. I need some motivation to get me working. And all these “hypotheticals” are seeming just a little too…hypothetical.

Plus I am just so busy. I have no time to plan a science curriculum, I am much too busy eating dumplings and staring at my boxes of crap, willing them to unpack themselves. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chapter Two of my blogging life: New York City

*Sometimes bloggers need to take a week off.

Moving in to the fourth floor without an elevator, in the 90 degree heat, and with the faint smell of raw fish in the background is not anyone’s idea of a good time. But I am moved into my first post-college apartment (!!!!!) and I could not be happier. I spent the day wandering into 99 cent stores in China town and buying hand soap and paper towels. I wasn’t mentally with it enough to make any larger purchasing decisions than simple bathroom products.
I spent my day unpacking in my wonderful apartment that has the small downfall of being a sauna at the current moment. AC unit, I’m coming for you with a vengeance. I took breaks to walk around and get some air and soak in my new surroundings.

Here is my station at Starbucks, shamelessly buying the least expensive things in order to use their wireless for as long as I please. “How much would it cost for a mini-tall latte and a midget son of a cake pop?”

Red Mango down the street, to that I say yes and yes. Free wireless on most blocks, sign me up. How long can we go without setting up our wireless internet? My life is now a game about saving money. If I win, then I get to keep living in New York, The Big Apple, The City. If I lose I am broke and have to call my parents crying and move home. The stakes are high. It is unclear how I will fare in this fight. On the one hand I have a history of frugality, while abroad in London I sometimes washed underwear in the shower in order to save money on laundry. (Each load was 10 euro.) But on the other hand, I am a lover of delicious beers, fine cheeses, and new accessories.
Stay tuned to see how I survive.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beerventures: Portland, OR

The final destination of the road trip is not only home to a few of my favorite people, my childhood home, and the cutest 8 lb. dog alive, but is also more microbreweries than you can shake a stick at.
Our second day home and my dad, Joey and I shook a stick at a few of them, (shook our sticks? Ok, joke's over.)
I have frequented many watering holes (put a quarter in the writer's cliche jar!) in Portland, but I was interested in learning more about different kinds of beer. I love trying new kinds, and I want to expand the range of adjectives that I have to describe them. I want to be able to say something besides "light," "hoppy," "IPA," or "uno mas por favor."
Belmont Station Taster
First stop on the beer tour was Belmont Station in Southeast Portland, a combination beer bar and bottle store. We opted for the taster of the day with five featured beers from the extensive tap list.
The next stop was Hopworks Urban Brewing, an eco-brew pub offering organic brews in a sustainable environment. We sampled ten of their beers in a fun circle situation, the bartender took a liking to our afternoon of exploration and gave us a few free samples of their cask aged beers as well. As far as I can tell, the cask brewing is a process that cuts the carbonation, and ups the alcohol.
Wheel of Wonder!
Love the bar decor of bike frames
 My favorite beers at Hopworks were the plain ol' Lager and the Galactic Imperial Red, Joey and my dad preferred the Crosstown Pale Ale. I guess they like the lighter stuff, sissies. We all agreed that Hopworks had the best overall beer quality. We would have easily enjoyed a pint of each beer in the wheel, whereas the other tasters only showcased a few stars.
Our final stop was Rogue Brewing in Northwest Portland. This is the home of the Dead Guy Ale, a beer that I am happy to see on taps as far away as Boston. Points to Rogue for offering customized tasters. The bartender gave us taster sheets where we could choose any four from their list to equal a pint. Four littles equals one big. I like that concept a lot. Also, gave us a better idea of the overall quantity that we were drinking. All three of us picked four different beers and shared sips.

Our tasters were served in wood carved "bottles"
By the end we were feeling quite beer-snobbish, beers that we may have savored and raved about on a regular day seemed just "okay." But I suppose that comes with the territory when you're chock full of quality brews. If someone would have tried to pass me a Natty I probably would have spat in their face. I may need to lay off the micro brews because I don't know if I'm ready to be too good for Natty.

Belmont Station
4500 SE Stark St
Portland, OR

Hopworks Urban Brewery
2944 SE Powell
Portland, OR

Rogue Distillery and Public House
1339 NW Flanders
Portland, OR

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 12+13 San Francisco

We drove into Bay area on 101 North, windows down, Joey's head out the window screaming "CALI!!!" to the other (thankfully) oblivious drivers.
Our two days in SF were amazing and jam packed full of activities ranging from some more touristy things to some local exploring. At one point we were asked for directions by a lost tourist (lame) on the street, Joey and Audrey for the win. No, but really, other exciting things happened to us besides that.
1. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in a blanket of complete fog. The next day when we were driving out of the city it was a bluebird day. I think we got the more authentic San Francisco bay experience when we were enveloped by a cloud.
Driving across, views for miles.
Can't win 'em all.
2. I forced Joey into eating four kinds of seafood. At one point any food that spent any of its life in the water would send him into a fit of heaving. Getting out of your comfort zone twelve step process ENGAGE.
3. We watched a Giants game and crept up until our tickets had nearly tripled their value. Giants stadium is awesome, the club level was quite luxurious, watching seagulls circle the outfield was funky, and ya, I guess I watched some okay baseball too.
4. We ate Chinese food on a sunday night when there was only a handful of restaurants open in China town. The soup and appetizers that we ordered for a light dinner were great but I wasn't allowed to take any pictures because Joey said we stuck out too much as it was. Alas, no pictures of my seaweed soup.
5. Union Street festival! I love everything about festivals and I have a firm belief that if you have a choice between festival or no festival, the choice should always be festival! Art, artisans, free samples, and shopping. I did some damage at The Blue Jeans Bar on Union Street.
Lombard Street
6. Visiting Noe Valley and Joey's parents' old house. The current owner gave us a tour of the beautiful home and told us about some changes in the neighborhood. Walk through Joey's parents' footsteps concluded with an incredible dinner at their favorite restaurant from the 1980s, Firefly.

7. An afternoon spent in Haight-Ashbury where we had our pick of any type of tie-dyed apparel we could imagine. We looked in bookstores and shoe shops, took a break from the steady mist with cocoa and coffee and saw 900 T-shirts that we didn't need but that looked really cool.

One of the last stops on our trip, San Francisco made us forget that we were travel weary and sick of each other, (I kid...) So many high-lights and thrice as many reasons to go back ASAP.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 10: Grand Canyon

 I know this national park is called the "Grand Canyon" so we all get a little accustomed to the term, but let me tell you this is one GRAND CANYON.
It may even be the grandest of canyons.
By the end of the day I was the sweatiest of hikers.
And had the most sun-burnt of legs.
But I digress...
We drove up to the Canyon from Flagstaff in the morning, not really knowing what to expect. We were headed for the South Rim, the more popular of the two visitor locations because of its easy access. After navigating three parking lots, two visitor centers, and two shuttle buses we finally arrived at the trail head. The park ranger had given us a recommendation for a day hike and we took his advice without doing much research on our own. When we arrived at the top of the trail, the hike looked much more difficult than we expected. It said that it was "for expert desert hikers only" and the sign gave warnings about a women who died in the canyon of dehydration. Joey and I stood at the top in our sneakers, prepared with a couple bottles of water, and a meager ration of snacks. After riding shuttle buses and navigating crowds of strollers and tour groups, we were ready to get away from people, so we started down the trail despite our lack of experience and supplies.
 The hike took us 2.5 miles down into the canyon with switch backs on the steep side wall. The views of the inside of the canyon were incredible, we had a completely different perspective than from the top rim. The hike offered no shade, and after about an hour in the heat we started to wonder when we would turn around to go back up. It dawned on us that every step we took down into the canyon was another step that we would have to go up on the way back. Glancing up at the top rim was intimidating, we had made it so far down, it was hot as blazes, and the altitude was doing work on my cardio fitness.
 The hike was on the Hermit's Rest trail head and took us to the Santa Maria spring. When we finally arrived at the spring, it was just a little hose draining into a bathtub-like trough. Not quite a bubbling brook, but I don't know what else I expected in the middle of the desert.
The hike ended up taking us exactly three hours, we made it up to the top in exactly as long as it took us to get down. This was probably due to the fact that we were in survival mode and just wanted to moter back up.
The Grand Canyon was completely worth it and we were glad that we took a challenging hike. I wanted to feel like I truly experienced it. If I were ever to go again I would want to backpack and camp on the inside.
This day was a highlight of the trip for sure. 

Day 8+9: Santa Fe

 New Mexico looks like no other place I had ever been. The desert extended beyond the limits of my vision. Pulling into Joey's cousin's driveway we could not have been more ready to get out of the car. Our first priority was to do something that required movement, my legs felt paralyzed in a seated position. We took an exploratory walk into downtown. We lapped through the plaza and snaked up and down streets lined with interesting shops and beautiful homes. Two hours later we were finally ready to sit back down. Santa Fe looked nothing like any city I've seen before, I had a hard time imagining it as a big city because all of the building were so low. Not a sky scraper to be seen, but the neighborhoods sprawled in every which direction.
 We stopped for dinner at La Choza, a neighborhood favorite of our hosts. My two years experience working at a Mexican restaurant taught me little more than how to refill a water glass so I am no expert on what is or is not authentic. However, both of our dishes were spicier than all get out. Like are-my-lips-swollen-because-they're-in-pain spicy. I had sauteed fish tacos and Joey had the enchiladas with carne adovada. "Adovada" is one of the more fun words that has crossed my tongue in a while. Go ahead, take it for a spin.
My tacos were great but I could hardly taste the fish because I was too busy being slapped in the face by the spiciness. Luckily our dinner was served with sopapillas, pieces of sweet, pillowy dough that you're supposed to eat drizzled with honey. The starchy neutrality of the bread was a pleasant respite from the heat of our entrees.
The next morning I took a jogging tour of Santa Fe. Altitude and a week of sitting on my bottom all day did not make this the easiest run of all time, but the it was nice to get out in the early morning. Our main event for the day was going to Canyon Road, the mecca of all things art in Santa Fe. The city is known for its galleries, artists, and pervasive artsy culture and we wanted to soak it in. The road is lined with dozens and dozens of galleries, each with unique showrooms, sculpture gardens, and styles. I'm not normally a person who can walk around staring at art on the wall for hours, (my attention span for museums is about 55 minutes,) but this was an entirely different experience. The art bubbled out of each shop, creeped onto the sidewalk and tempted us to enter.
 We spent hours wandering in and out of galleries. We met many friendly people willing to talk about the art, although we both felt too inexperienced to ask many questions, or we were just enjoying playing around with some of the funny pieces. After several hours the heat started to get to us, so we cooled our heels at The Tea House. This place was alll about tea and gave me way too many choices. Joey and I both ordered iced chais and were handed drinks with some serious spice. This was not your average Starbucks latte here people. The shop was this adorable little house that fit in perfectly with the Canyon Road vibe.
 The rest of our day was spent hanging with the cousins and enjoying an Indian dinner with a handful of his family. His cousin's eight year old daughter introduced me to the wonders of sag paneer, my multi-ethnic food education continues.