Archive for February, 2005

blending in

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Someone needs to remind me why I don’t live in a college town because I’ve forgotten the reason. I don’t think there ever was a reason.


I’m coming to you live from the Madison, WI Espresso Royale Caffe, coffee in my hand and Cocteau Twins on the stereo. I’m in town again for another round of Info Session & Interviews. I expect it to be interesting as usual. As it looks like I’m on my own for dinner tonight, I’m thinking of trying an Ethiopian place or an Afghan place near where I’m staying. I’ll report back if it’s remarkable. The Northwest Airline Angels were smiling on me today. I was supposed to have a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis but my flight from NY got in a little bit early and I noticed that the gate next to mine had a flight going to Madison 5 minutes later. Thanks to the flight being drastically undersold and me not having checked my luggage, I got on no problem. Much as I love the MSP airport, it’s much more pleasant to sit here than there.

I have coat envy. There is a girl wearing a very cute houndstooth coat with two pink ribbons around the midsection and pink ribbons where the buttons go. She needs a cute scarf to go with it because the one she is wearing just isn’t right.

It does my 27 year old spirit good to feel a little studenty again. I miss this. Sitting in a coffeehouse, listening to arguments and discussions, doing my own thing at the same time. I half expect my friends to walk through the door.


Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

The highlight of Sunday was our special dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns. I wish I could have taken pictures as it’s hard to describe just how lovely and pleasant the dining room is. The walls are cream colored with wood accent and the ceilings must be at least 12-15 feet high. The floors are a very rustic style dark wood and in the center of the room is an expansive dark wood console table with a large gathering of winter flowers and branches.

The menu had many differences from our last visit there in late summer but was every bit as tempting. We decided to do the three course tasting and picked out a bottle of Riesling, the exact name of which escapes me, that turned out to be fantastic. The amuse-bouche was a delicate cauliflower soup with a dab of basil oil floating on the top. Creamy and light, it was perfectly matched with the basil oil. Due to some confusion by the many wait people helping us, we were treated to this soup twice.

Course 1: mushroom tartlette. The bottom layer was made up of fingerling potatoes, followed by a mixture of walnuts and local wild mushrooms which was topped by larger slices of wild mushrooms. On the side was a generous helping of sauteed wild mushrooms and the slightest drizzle of basil oil and mushroom juices. Sumptuous without being too rich, it was a wonderful second-start and the wine complimented it quite well.

Course 2: I had the lightly smoked whitefish with baby greens, wild mushrooms and roasted squash seeds. Jeremie had the cavatelli. I had a little taste of Jeremie’s cavatelli and it was really good, but I thought my salad was fantastic. If I hadn’t overheard the couple dining next to us rave about this dish, there’s no way I would have ordered it but it was wonderful. The fish was velvet-smooth with just a hint of it’s smoky preparation and the richness was balanced with the sweet-salty dressing and the light salad greens. The mushrooms were not as much of a feature in this dish but their texture and earthy flavor brought an interesting dimension into this dish. I love roasted seeds of any kind and these squash seeds did not disappoint. They were perfectly roasted and seasoned with a variety of spices and just the right amount of salt. Crunchy, salty and delicious, they added a nice bite of spice to the salad greens.

I’m getting hungry just writing all of this.

Course 3: Jeremie had lamb but I can’t remember any details about the preparation. I had breast of duck, sliced and perfectly moist, served over sauteed thinly sliced carrots and parsnips in a sweet reduction of wine and pan juices (I’m guessing) with spatzle on the side. I had a similar dish last time we dined here and enjoyed this permutation just as much. Secretly, I’m a sucker for spatzle.

We were pretty full and quite content at this point, but the dessert menu proved too tempting for us to resist. I opted for a nice pot of darjeeling tea and Jeremie chose the chocolate bread pudding with banana ice cream. Now, if I were assigning names I’m not sure that I’d have called this dessert bread pudding, but a rose by any other name would have tasted just as fantastic. There was a thin, crunchy top to the bread pudding portion, almost like the top on creme brulee. The banana ice cream was perched on top and was everything that banana ice cream should be. I definitely need to try making banana ice cream. I think it would go really well with the walnut cake. Anyways, the bread-cake part was rich, moist and chocolatey but it was the center of the dessert that I enjoyed the most – delicious, thin caramel sauce with whole warm, salty peanuts. The combination of the sweet and salty and the otherworldly flavor of good chocolate was just incredible. I’ll have good dreams about the caramel and the peanuts for days to come.

I wonder if we can go there for just dessert? Nah. I couldn’t resist the rest of it.

Sheri Jo and Too Much Rockstar

Monday, February 14th, 2005

Should I start at the beginning or start from the end and work my way backwards? I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Friday night we went out after work and stayed out later than we should have, considering we had plans to take a 6:30 am train into NYC. The evening was fun but not worth detailing, other than that a great line came up during a fight between one speaker of American English and a speaker of English English. The line? “Stick your capital ‘e’ up your capital ‘a’ .” Ha.

Saturday morning we got up at 5:30, showered and dressed and made it to the 6:30 am train to NYC. We arrived in Central Park around 10 to 8 which gave us plenty of time to see The Gates before the fabric portion was unfurled. We viewed, explored and shot many a photo for a couple of hours. I even took a little movie with my digital camera of a gate being ‘opened’. The quality is not spectacular but you get the picture. Thoroughly frozen, we headed to breakfast at Zabar’s where we met up with Alex and Kate. Refuled by bagels and nova, we headed back into the park for another couple of hours. Did you know there’s a castle in Central Park? It was a marvelous place for observing the whole scope of the exhibition.

Cold again, we headed to the Shops at Columbus Circle to warm back up and seek a little bit of rest. Wandering into Williams Sonoma, we saw a demonstration occuring in the back of the store by none other than Michael Moorhouse of Blue Hill Stone Barns. This proved interesting and fortuitious as we had reservations for dinner there the following evening. He prepared a walnut cake with fig ice cream and poached pears that is currently on the BHSB dessert menu and shared the recipe for the walnut cake. I really enjoyed the walnut cake and it was incredibly simple to make, so I can definitely see myself making it. The fig ice cream I didn’t like as much. Before I knew it was fig, I thought it might be a maple walnut ice cream. I think it was a texture thing. The poached pears were an entirely different story; they were fantastic. Everything poached pears should be. I know that making poached pears isn’t difficult but it always seems like one of those scary, tricky things for some reason and that keeps me from trying to do it. It’s silly and I know I should get over it.

We parted ways with Kate and Alex, had a bit of a late lunch and wandered the shops for a bit, finally seeking refuge for our weary feet at Borders. Late in the afternoon we headed 20 blocks uptown to meet up with Trevor and Tony. We all planned to go to Chinatown for dinner (NGB) and for some reason they wanted to drive. Now, if you’ve ever been to Chinatown you know how pointless and let’s say, stupid, this endeavor is. We drove around looking for street parking for well over half and hour before giving up and parking in a garage. Holding my tongue was a difficult task that I did manage to keep under control. Dinner was fantastic as usual and we feasted upon soup dumplings, scallion pancake, and Shanghai kow-fu as well as other delights. Afterwards we kicked around Chinatown for a little bit and then headed north to a pool hall somewhere in the 20s. At this point it’s around 9pm and J & I have been in the city for over 12 hours already. We are tired. Yet something possesses us to stay and hang out. I still haven’t figured out what that is/was yet. The long and the short of it is (cause the rest isn’t that interesting) is that I got balls in the pockets for 2 of my 4 shots and we got home around 2a. So very, very tired.

mistress coffee, you siren

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

Welcome to day 4 of my No Coffee for Six Weeks Initiative. So far it is going ok. The first day (Monday) they had my favorite flavored coffee on tap at work but I didn’t cave. Tuesday or Wednesday were temptation-free. This morning, on the way to work, I really felt like having a cup once I got in but I didn’t partake. Now I’m sipping on a cup of green tea and I think my desire has wained. In a few minutes I have to go upstairs to the fancy floor for a meeting of unspecified length with a client. It would be real nice to have a cup of coffee in there with me but I’m going to try to pass. Rough times.

100% of me

Saturday, February 5th, 2005

It came up at work today. I am probably the only one that found it funny.

I’m sitting here listening to my … WORKING iPod Shuffle. Yes, that’s right. Knock on wood, seems like round 2 is a charm. Now I should go to bed cause it’s almost 1:30a.

What ever happened to the Buggles?

trouble in shuffle land

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile now, but time has been scarce the past couple of weeks. Here it goes:

I love the new Apple iPod Shuffle. It is small, light and perfect for my needs. Except for one thing – it doesn’t always work.
Sometimes it turns on, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t turn on, I don’t get any battery status either. Sometimes I can get it to turn on if I play with the switch and press buttons in random order for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes I can get it to turn on if I “jump start” it by popping it in to the USB on the laptop. Other times, it won’t turn on (or be recognized by the computer), USB be damned.
Frustration with the shuffle had me to the point of tears one night. I asked the sky why must I be cursed with the bad shuffle? Jeremie’s consistently performs to perfection and I could not find evidence of similar problems online.
Out of ideas, I visited the “Genius Bar” at my nearest Apple store last week Friday. As far as genius goes, it seemed to be rather hit or miss. The guy who helped me may or may not have been smart, but he sure just wasn’t nice. He treated me like I was crazy. I described to him the problems I was seeing and the first thing he does is try to turn it on. It doesn’t turn on and the battery status light stays dark. He snottily says to me “oh, of course it doesn’t work, it’s not charged” and I was like “uh, yeah, that was the problem I was telling you about” while I was thinking “yeah, thanks assclown”. Then he popped it into a mac, did a restore and was able to get it to turn on. He said he wanted to keep the Shuffle for a few days to continue testing, but said it in a tone of voice clearly meant to convey to me that he thought I was nuts.

Even Jeremie says that the guy was rather unkind to me.

Today I checked the repair status online and it says “awaiting parts”. I find this very interesting. I’ll call tomorrow and see what’s up.