March 29, 2011

So nice we named it twice.

Since there are no direct flights from London to Akron, New York was our middle ground. Melissa and I - childless for the first time in 4 years - met in New York. 

It. Was. Great.

Flights in and dinner at Le Bernardin. Bask in our 3 Michelin Star, Top Chef Judge, tasting menu + wine paring glamour. We did. And then we went to Duane Reade to buy Q-tips and nail polish.

We walked to... The Apple Store (which I was later to discover was hopelessly futile - NY is sold out of iPads). The MoMa (which wasn't open at that hour so we browsed the gift shop instead). Grand Central station (where Melissa bought a donut and I tried to take pics that related it's grandeur). 

The Public Library for our 11:00 guided tour

Lenny's for a pastrami on rye (extra pickle for me!)

Took the subway to Bowling Green, where indeed it all began...

Stopped at a Starbucks, where near disaster was marginally avoided. (Note: if a young woman asks to cut in front of you for the bathroom line, let her. Chances are she's ready to blow.) Then on the Staten Island ferry 

for a free gawp at Lady Liberty

On the way back, though, we opted for warmth over views.

As an end to the day, we enjoyed an early dinner in Greenwich Village at Mario Batali's Babbo. Melissa thinks she got the inside tip that he was there. I'm not sure, but the pasta tasting menu (+ wine paring) was great. That said, probably best not to have a pastrami on rye a mere 4 hours before attempting to conquer this menu. Needless to say, it was back to the hotel for a carb-overload coma after this one.

Sullivan St. Bakery and Hell's Kitchen Flea Market led the way for the day.

Bakery = great. 

Flea Market = other people's junk. Mom, you would've killed me for even being at this flea market. Every single thing on offer is sitting somewhere in your attic.

From there we walked over to Chelsea Market where apparently, many Food Network shows are filmed. *heart stops* Unfortunately all the chefs must've been cooking because we didn't see anyone. Warning - if you go to The Green Table for lunch do not get a rum and coke unless you're prepared to stagger out of there. They use 140 proof rum!

The Highline was next on our agenda, thanks to a top tip from Ben. A really cool idea - they've converted overhead train tracks into a park. We didn't walk the whole thing, but appreciated it nevertheless.

And as a bonus, got a neat view of The Empire State Building, too!

Melissa then directed us to Strand Book Store - 18 miles of books. It was a little claustrophobic for me, but I managed to power through and pick up a good cookbook.

Gramercy Tavern - one of America's favorite restaurants - for dinner. Great food, great building, exhaustive wine list.

Home day. Shopping day. Subway down to SoHo and Nolita for some wandering and window shopping. 

We were all stocked up on Rolaxes and Dim Sum so skirted Chinatown and opted for lunch at Lombardi's pizza instead.

Then time to part ways and head back to real life. 

Paris next year, then...?

March 18, 2011

Fun with face paints.

Elliot and Noah spent a record-breaking three hours playing nicely together. Needless to say, I had to document it.

What was the inspiration to their play? Face paints! Elliot decided to paint himself as "Stripey Power Ranger."

And Noah as "Rainbow Power Ranger"

However, Stripey Power Ranger does not belong inside.

So Stripey Power Ranger and Rainbow Power Ranger were banished to the garden until they were prepared to transmogrify back into Elliot and Noah.

March 14, 2011

Going native.

I thought I'd be in London for about three years and then move on. Today was a nail in that coffin - I've gone native.

I'm British!

While it feels good not to have any visa issues, costs, timelines and confusion hanging over me any more, I can't see that British citizenship is going to radically change my life. As I see it, there are two main advantages: being able to vote and getting in the shorter passport queue* at the airport.

Oh, and being able to call myself the Evil Oppressor at all family functions, American and Irish.

*I now have to use words like queue (line), jumper (sweater), wanker (jackass), duvet (comforter), tea (coffee); it's part of the allegiance oath.

P.S. Gaining British citizenship does not affect my American citizenship; I can have dual citizenship. I checked. Lots of times.

March 13, 2011

Dry Bread.

Bread and I are not friends. I have no success in making it and it makes my hips fat. That said, we had the Smyth Uncles to stay this weekend... 

...and I thought I'd try to make something special. I decided on cinnamon rolls.

This is my third attempt at the rolls. The first result were 2 dozen glazed hockey pucks. (The dough didn't rise; it turned out my yeast was dead.) The second attempt was successful, but not a true cinnamon roll as I used leftover Christmas mincemeat filling. The third attempt was a success! The dough rising was my proudest moment as it involved sheer ingenuity...

I know I live in a drafty Victorian house, but I didn't know it was too cold to get dough to rise. It is. I've tried putting dough on the top of boiler; on top of the fridge; on the radiator; in a low oven; an oven that was on, then turned off; in an oven that had hot a basin of hot water in it... Basically, I tried every place that I thought was at least marginally warmer than our ambient temperature. My final solution...

Dough in the dryer! Perfect warm and humid environment for my dough to rise.


March 6, 2011


They're going to start charging £10 pp to stand on the Prime Meridian. WTF. Although standing on an imaginary line isn't what I'd normally choose to do on a Saturday afternoon, the thought of having to eventually pay £10 to do so was enough to inspire me and the family to drive down to Greenwich. To stand on a line. For free.

The Royal Observatory and Planetarium are also there in Greenwich Park. I fondly remember science trips to Lancaster High school's Planetarium and was pretty excited at the thought of spending 20 minutes in a comfy, reclined chair watching the stars, learning about planets and possibly getting the chance to use a laser pointer. 

Elliot thought the show was pretty neat (it was, after all, aimed at kids aged 5 and under), but Noah thought the whole thing was too much and headed outside with Donal. To learn more about meridians. For free.

March 3, 2011


Happy World Book Day!

I'm not sure if this is indeed a *world* phenomenon, but it's a pretty big deal in London. All over the city, kids have dressed up as their favorite book character. Elliot - it will come as no surprise - chose Superman.

This is my first adventure into the world of costume-for-school making and, while I didn't do a bad job, it became painfully obvious that I need to learn to sew. There's only so much double-sided tape in the world and I'm pretty sure I used at least half of it in the past few days.

Reference material (Thanks Aunt Goose for the book!) and supplies. I went a little crazy when buying the material. Before I came to my senses (or acknowledged my skill level), I thought I could fashion a whole, Super costume.

The symbol of truth, justice, and the American way. Made from construction paper. Super construction paper.

Clark Kent, an integral part of the costume. This was my creative suggestion to the costume. I thought it would be hilarious for Elliot to be both Clark Kent and Superman. In reality, it's probably a nightmare for his teacher since he'll just want to loose the shirt and glasses as soon as his class starts. I also contemplated twisting his hair into a glossy front curl, but stopped myself just in time. 

Pretend you're in a phone box and become Super!

Fly away to save the day.

It's hard for Superman to remain incognito with a red cape.

At Super school.