What’s The Story?

IMG_4587I love stories. I spend a lot of my time either telling them or trying to get others to tell theirs (in 650 words or less) in their college application essays (shameless plug). I remember the low-tech days of yesteryear fondly, unfurling the knots in the extremely long phone cord, dragging it through the kitchen, down the stairs, and into my room. The best stories were swapped holding that hard piece of plastic to my ear, with nothing else to take my focus away. And I think that with all the ways we have to distract ourselves today, personally told stories are even more critical than ever. They take time and care to craft and tell well, and they require the focus and attention of others. If you have a story to tell, I want to hear it. Last Friday night, I sat in a little quiet nook at the Yale Club and told my story to Kim Berns for her new podcast, What’s The Story with Kim Berns  available on iTunes (although my episode is not up yet). We talked about what it’s like to pivot at a certain age and find fulfillment by taking an unexpected path. We spoke non-stop for about twenty minutes, and then I earned my fee; a well-made Tanqueray and Tonic.

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I was able to sneak in a quick Broadway show with Toni on Wednesday. We saw A Choir Boy, which we both thought was fantastic. It’s a 2 hour, no intermission drama, but it’s also got great music due to the subject matter. And even though the play is twenty years old, it is still extremely relevant, sadly, today.

Did I mention I have a sister who’s a vegan? She’s been opening my eyes to a culinary world where you can’t cook with anything that makes food taste good. We met for lunch at Nix, which boasts a brand new shiny Michelin star. I took a picture of the gorgeous beet salad with quinoa, but the real star of my meal was the mushroom veloute that was so creamy I wanted to go back into the kitchen and have them prove it was vegan.

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I took my first yoga class at Humming Puppy. We can all agree the name is ridiculous. I’m even embarrassed typing it, but the experience was nothing to laugh at. It’s a new way to yoga, brought to you from Australia. The main difference between this yoga studio and all others is the humming. Throughout the practice, there is a constant hum in the room that comes from surround sound speakers. It sounds like the tones made from Buddhist temple bowls. Something like this. I will return, but it won’t be my go-to spot due to the temperature in the studio. Women going through menopause have no business doing yoga in 80-degree rooms.

I’m always keeping an eye out for a fun, casual restaurant on the Upper East Side with decent food, as most of my friends live up there, and I feel bad always recommending restaurants downtown. Last week I went with friends to The Writing Room. I chose it because of its hugely storied literary past (as in Billy Joe’s song Big Shot “…they were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s…”). There was a great buzz in the room, it was packed, and the food was really good. I’ll keep it on my short UES list.

Saturday we killed two little birds with one round-trip Amtrak. My oldest son was in Philly visiting his girlfriend at med school, and my youngest goes to Penn. Tom and I got on a late morning train, arrived in Philly 1 hour and 15 mins later, just in time for an incredible brunch at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown. The restaurant is located in an old rye whiskey distillery and has four extremely cool hotel rooms upstairs. I am already planning on renting these rooms for Annie’s graduation in a few years. Sshhhh don’t tell anyone with a sophomore at Penn. The food was fantastic, and after we ate, we moved to the couches in front of the wood burning fire for coffee.

We had some time to kill before the next meal, so we walked up Frankford Avenue which is one of the main streets in the Fishtown neighborhood. This street looks so freshly gentrified, it’s almost as if the paint is still wet.

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There are a number of fun restaurants and bars and an inordinate amount of vintage clothing stores, all carefully curated to the point where you don’t know if the clothes are new or used. Here are a few we stopped into: Two Percent To GloryJinxed, and Urban Exchange. We also passed at least two open breweries on our way up the road. From there we ubered to another fun neighborhood, Queen Village. We started with happy hour cocktails at Tatooed Mom, a place we all loved. From there we walked to Hungry Pigeon a restaurant that has been on my radar, and I was excited to get a reservation (albeit 5:15). The menu is small, and is meant to be shared family style. We sat at this beautiful communal table and enjoyed everything we ordered.

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But I want to return for lasagne season. You need to pre-reserve with 24 hours notice. You get your own lasagne (classic bolognese or vegetarian) with a few accompaniements for $80 PER ORDER. It feeds 4-6 people or 2 who like leftovers. I’m intrigued.

I love Philly, and I’m grateful that I get to continue to explore it over the next 2.5 years while visiting my daughter. It’s a city of neighborhoods and stories – my favorite kind of city.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Hot Sweaty Mess

Summer in the city is comprised of many short jaunts from one air conditioned venue to another, intermingled with cold showers. It hasn’t stopped me from getting out, and doing interesting and delicious things, but I have to admit my steps are down and my Arro, Uber, and Lyft payments are way up. I tell myself the fall is coming, and this too shall pass, but until then I”m going to keep eating Kakegori (photo below) and drinking very cold rose (I have been to the Rose Mansion twice this summer.)

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I’ll admit that I’ve thumbed my nose at vegans. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, and that applies to food as well. But my sister (a vegan) recently made a reservation at Avant Garden and if this is vegan, I’m a convert. It was honestly one of the best meals I’ve had this year. I have no idea how they do it. It’s magic. You don’t miss anything!

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One of the best things about living in Flatiron is the farmer’s market that comes to Union Square four times a week (M,W,F,S). I try to buy things just at their peak and then do something with them. Below was my take on an apricot tart. It was gone by the following day.

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Friends from Tokyo who now live in Australia who this past spring won a Tony for Once on This Island, have invested in a new show and Tom and I went to see it on Broadway. It is a very fun night! I recommend it for all ages (well, maybe late teens as there is a song called “I Slept With Your Mom”).

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Lucky us, we snagged a table at Danny Meyer’s newest hotspot, Manhatta. It’s way downtown in FiDi (rhymes with RyeGuy) on the 60th floor and from the moment we walked in I felt like I was at the reincarnation of Windows on the World (in it’s heyday). The views are unparalleled and every table has one. The big difference being the service, which is extremely friendly and not stuffy or formal. The $75 prix fix (service included)    3 course meal is a bargain considering there is lobster, steak and soufflé to choose from.  This is the perfect place to go to celebrate something big.

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It’s college application season, which means I’m working, a lot. Somehow teenagers all seem to send their essays at the exact same time even though I’ve been sending reminder emails for days. I was happy to be invited back this week to the  Anything Goes With Kim Berns radio show. You can listen to the link (August 2nd) if you have a student who is applying to college this fall – I give good tips! And if you are interested in having me help out, you can reach me on my website: ExpatEssay. (You don’t need to be an expat to use my services.)

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And lastly, the week ended with a 21st celebration for my daughter Sophie up on our roof with 50 of her closest friends. We served tacos from Otto’s Tacos and lots of margaritas and Tecate. Oh what a night!

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