31 August 2013

Let's Catch a Game

Representing the green & gold!
One day, I received an email from my friend P regarding our upcoming trip to New York... would I mind maybe going to a baseball game instead of seeing Mamma Mia? Maybe this Yankees team or something?

Would I?

One of my "bucket list" items is to visit all the MLB ballparks. I am not sure this will ever happen, but I am certainly not going to stop trying.

I'd missed previous opportunities to go to the old Yankees Stadium, so I was really excited to go to the new one. We checked out the seating maps and chose what seemed to be great seats (I always find it hard with these newer ball parks... there is often some sort of obstruction risk).

When game day arrived, we decided to drive into the City early from New Jersey, park near the stadium and then go sightsee. This ended up working perfectly...there is a lot directly across from the stadium that cost around 30$ and had very easy access in & out. The subway is also conveniently located directly across the street from the entrance, which made the sightseeing/head back combo super easy.

Once we got to the stadium, a little asking around confirmed that if it is your first visit to the stadium, you can get a special certificate. The office to do this is located behind center field; they are very friendly and print the certificate while you wait! It's a great free souvenir.

The thing that amazed me most was being in a tank top throughout the entire game, with no need for a sweater. This is crazy to me, where, in the middle of summer, we're often found in several layers of clothing!

I was a little worried that people would get irritated with me explaining baseball to the Swedes, but that wasn't the case at all!  Out in right field, the fans were great, and we even made a few new friends. Hot dog and beer in hand, life was pretty good. (and the Yankees lost...yippee!)

28 August 2013

Dining Out in Dublin

I have never heard Dublin recognized as a city with great restaurant/food choices. So when heading out there for my last trip, I'll admit, my expectations were rather low. This is not always a bad thing -- in the immortal words of Lloyd Dobler, "If you expect the worst, everything else seems like a nice surprise."

So imagine my surprise when, on my recent trip to Dublin, we found not one, but two places serving good (non-pub) food in really cool spaces. My travel partner, A, who knows good food much better than I, gave these places his stamp of approval, as well!

Things seem to close really early in Dublin, and on a Friday night, we found ourselves wandering in the City Centre, starving and being turned away from restaurant after restaurant. We were ready to give up, when straight ahead of us we saw a chic-looking place that appeared to: 1. Still be open, and 2. Still be serving food.

This is primarily a steak-house, with various cuts I'd never really heard of. We, of course, ordered one, but what really stood out were the sides. We started with the mushroom & thyme duxelle, which was delicious. I could have scraped the little jar clean. We followed with the beetroot salad and some onion rings -- I think we were a little ambitious but it was all really, really good.

Apparently Anthony Bourdain stopped by Bear, as well!

Fade Street Social - Gastro Bar
This one may have been my favorite meal. I had dined at Fade Street Social earlier in the week, but at the restaurant. I found the food there good, but it was really loud and service terribly slow. But, looking for a decent meal in a city I didn't know well proved tough, so we took a risk on the Gastro Bar.

We didn't really think we could top Bear from the night before -- in my opinion, we were wrong. The Gastro Bar offers a wide selection of small plates, and there is something for everyone's palate. The two special dishes to me were the lamb carpaccio and the Irish Mushroom with celeriac and cep dressing. The lamb was a totally new dish to me -- I am always a bit wary of carpaccios...could be because I spent so much of my life not eating meat that eating it raw seems strange, but also because it needs to be really high quality! This dish was spot on. Very well seasoned, perfect portion size. And the mushrooms, like those the night before, were perfectly done with some sort of pastry strip (or something) around it. To top it all off, they had a full cocktail menu, which was nice to take advantage of after a week of beer.

Last I was in Ireland, my diet mainly consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches and fries (or, chips, as they are called across the pond). What a change this was!

19 August 2013

Boo: Going Gluten-Free on United Airlines

If I could recommend one thing...it would be to just say no, if you can, to United Airline's Gluten-Free option.

In general, I get that airline food isn't always the best. I have never really minded it too much -- to me it always meant I was going somewhere fun! And often times, I would request a special meal, usually the lacto-ovo, figuring I was more likely to get something semi-healthy.

So, as I headed to Ireland, I decided to request a gluten-free meal, knowing the I wouldn't likely adhere very well to my doc's advice while in Dublin. This was an unfortunate decision. Clearly someone at United as decided that gluten-free must be bland, rubbery, and overall gross.

The lunch option showed up at my seat, and I was excited to dig in as I was very hungry. I was greeted with a limp, iceburg lettuce salad with a lemon -- no tomato, no salad dressing. Then a chicken breast as an entree, which was dry, rather rubbery, and without any seasoning. There was also some bland rice, and some steamed broccoli, which was surprisingly good. Thankfully, there was another lemon with the entree, to give it a little moisture. For dessert? A cup of apple sauce. I ate...I guess the only nice thing I could say is that it was around 300 calories, leaving room for some liquid calories!

The breakfast was even more disappointing. A rice cake, one, wrapped in an obscene amount of saran wrap, and yet another cup of applesauce. 

I get that food is a nice to have on these flights, but after seeing this, I wish they would have had those nicer options that we could buy. I'm lucky I have the option to eat a standard meal on my flight home!

12 August 2013

New York! New York!

It had been at least six long years since I had last visited New York City, and much longer than that since I got to visit purely for fun. So when my friend P notified me that her family would be there for a month, and I should come visit -- I jumped right on it.

The trip was a whirlwind -- I flew in on a red-eye to arrive Friday morning and then left late afternoon (which actually turned into late night thanks to Newark Airport's TERRIBLE delay issues).

Among our adventures were a walk through Central Park and, of course, a stop for a drink or two at the boathouse, a Yankees game, a trip up a very high skyscraper (as a Californian, I don't think I will ever get used to how high the buildings are!), a night out on the town, and then a drizzly view from NJ over the river.

I cannot wait to go back.

07 August 2013

Welcome to Summer!

Here it is...the song you can't get away from (and can't stop moving to):