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Lobster Rolls, Tacos, Doughnuts, (and Ukeleles!) at the Brooklyn Flea…Oh My!

10 Jul

My Trusty Sidekick and I headed to the Brooklyn Flea Market yesterday to support a new friend, Barry, of Great Plains Handmade Instruments. During the week Barry is an amazing teacher, and on the weekends he makes ukeleles, other instruments, and beautiful odds and ends–often out of salvaged materials like old cigar boxes.


We were  blown away by Barry’s booth and by all the other vendors there–from hand carved furniture to vintage dresses, sunglasses, and shoes to hand painted pottery.  Best of all was the food! We feasted on heaping lobster rolls, succulent braised beef tacos, and intensely flavored doughnuts. Here are the highlights:

Lobster Roll from The Red Hook Lobster Pound

These lobster rolls from The Red Hook Lobster Pound were hands-down my favorite part of the day. Overflowing with giant hunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat that was nestled in a lightly toasted bun and barely dressed with lemon, mayo, and green onion, this is my kind of lobster roll! Just looking at the picture I’m beginning to drool. At $16, it was the most expensive food item we could find at the Flea, but with all that meat we thought it was a great value. I fully admit that I’ll be stalking their Big Red Lobster Food Truck for the rest of the summer.

Braised Beef Taco from Chonchos Tacos

Trusty raved about the well-seasoned, tender braised beef in this taco from the Chonchos Tacos stand, which was $4. Similar to Red Hook’s lobster roll, which made the lobster meat the star,  the braised beef in this taco didn’t have to compete with much–just a traditional presentation of onions and cilantro.  And with all the flavor in the meat itself, all it needed was a little bit of hot sauce!

The talented guys of Porchetta

As soon as we entered the flea, our dog Sam took us straight to Porchetta’s stand where the guys were nice enough to offer her a little sample of their amazing roasted pork. I wish I got a better picture of their delicious sandwich:

Porchetta's slow cooked roasted pork sandwich

The sandwich, $10, features “pork three ways”–fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin–all roasted with garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen.  Meltingly soft and juicy, it was packed with flavor. While the lobster roll may have been the highlight of my day, this was the highlight of Sam’s.  She tried to talk us into setting up permanent camp underneath Porchetta’s table!

To beat the heat, we indulged in some crisp, cold, handmade sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works.  Formed in 2010, Brooklyn Soda Works is a labor of love by a young couple–an artist and a chemist–who make artisanal sodas that feature fresh, unconventional flavors like “Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn,” “Apple Ginger,” and “Dried Lemon, Juniper, and Hops.”

At the Flea we sampled two new flavors, “Raspberry Shiso,” and “Cucumber Sea Salt” :

The Cucumber Sea Salt was really surprising–it was especially thirst-quenching, and full of delicious cucumber flavor. The Raspberry soda, which was mixed with Shiso, a delicious Asian herb that can only be described as part mint-part basil, was also incredible.  The best part of both sodas was that there was hardly any sugar–they were truly refreshing and intensely flavorful. I was won over as a fan, and am eager to try more from Brooklyn Soda Works!

To finish off our trip to the Flea we treated ourselves to doughnuts from Bedford bakery Dough.

Dough's heavenly smelling booth

After our recent visit to the Doughnut Plant, the bar was set high.  But, Dough delivered. We tried a couple of flavors, including Chocolate Earl Gray, Blood Orange, and Hibiscus. My favorite was the Chocolate Earl Gray:

The Chocolate Earl Gray doughnut is INSANE.

The dough was soft and fluffy and the chocolate earl gray glaze was amazingly good–fragrant, flavorful, unusual, and not too sweet. (It got me excited to try this recipe to see how the flavor combination works in other sweet treats.) The Blood Orange flavor was another big hit:

Blood Orange doughnut

The sweet and tangy blood orange glaze was spectacular. Again, not too sweet, but it had a really concentrated blood orange flavor.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip to the Brooklyn Flea! Can’t wait to be back again!


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Maybe the Only Good Reason for this Hot and Humid Summer Weather

8 Jul

Dear Readers, I hope you’re staying cool during this particularly hot, muggy stretch of summer!

I wanted to share this photo with you, of a New Yorker in Union Square this morning creating a marriage proposal with beautiful, brightly colored bags of sand.

Sand Art Proposal

It occurred to me that on a windy, or even breezy day, this wouldn’t be possible–the sand would completely blow away.

Lindsey, wherever you are, we hope you say YES. This is may be the only good reason for this hot and humid summer weather!

Rad or Ridiculous? “Designer Band-Aids” by Cynthia Rowley

9 Oct

Designer Cynthia Rowley has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid brand to offer “Dress Up” designer bandaids. The collection, which features several designs, comes in an old-school tin for $10.

A few of Rowley's designs.

One dollar from the sale of each tin will go to Design Ignites Change, an organization that engages high school and college students in design and architecture projects. The Band-Aid tins can be purchased on CynthiaRowley.com and in Cynthia Rowley stores.

Luckily, so far, there haven’t been any reported images of celebrities wearing the band-aid’s inappropriately (can you just imagine a precarious Designer Band-Aid Lil Kim “outfit”?).

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2010 Trend Alert: Half Moon Manicure

6 Sep

Want to nail this fall’s latest trend, and look cuteicle while doing it? You’ve got to try a Half Moon Manicure.

Also known as “The Cuban,” “Moon,” or “Gatsby” manicure, this trend puts a twist on an old classic–the French Manicure–by reversing it. Instead of white tips, the inner half moon shape at the base of your nail is white or left bare. Rumor is the Half Moon was invented in the 1920s by a manicurist for MGM Studios, though I haven’t been able to find out any specifics. Popular in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, the Half Moon Manicure has  been making a comeback since it appeared on the runway in Thakoon’s 2009 collection. This Fall, expect to see this chic, clean look everywhere; according to Elsa Deslande, the manicurist for the Dior fall couture show,“It is ‘le must’ in terms of elegance.” Well, ok, Elsa. We’ll take your word for it!

Because the technique for a Half Moon manicure can take some trial and error to master, initially, you might want to go to a salon to test-drive this look. If you like it, here are some ideas for making it easier to do yourself, and for taking this trend to the next level:

  • Use a “Stencil”:
    • Get some 3-Ring Binder Stickers from your local drugstore or office supply store, unpeel the sticker, and place them on the base of your nails. Then paint 1-2 coats on the top part of your nail, and when the polish is dry, remove the sticker, and you’ve got sleek Half Moons. This idea comes from Miss Glamour Girl blog and I love it because these stickers are easy to find, easy to use, and inexpensive–they’re the perfect tool to create a neat, flawless Half Moon.

Love this idea from Fab-YOU-lous Annie for a perfect half moon mani at home.

  • Go beyond the standard “French” colors:
    • Try using the reverse French Half Moon pattern, but with non-French-Manicure-colors, for a fashion-forward look. Word on the street is that the trendiest nail polish colors this Fall will be dusty rose, khaki brown, and a subtly minty gray–but if you’re not into those shades, pick your favorite and make the Half Moon your own. Take Dita Von Teese–she’s been rocking this look in retro lipstick red:

Ooo la la!

  • If you really want a high-fashion look, do a Half Moon + French Manicure:
    • Thakoon chose this look for his runway show, and I have to say, it’s not easy to pull off. But, if you want to make a statement with your nails, this might be for you. Here’s how Thakoon did it in black and white–you can see the half moon shape of the base of the model’s nails are white, then she has a black base polish, then white French manicure “tips” on the top of her nail:

Could you say this look is too matchy-matchy since she's also wearing a white blouse with a black collar?

What do you think?

Feel like you’re not doing enough with your life? Wait till you hear about New Dress a Day

25 Jul

You know those moments when you’re catching up with a friend or colleague and discover they’re taking a photography class on the weekends, volunteering at the animal shelter after work, and becoming a certified Yoga instructor in their spare time? You suddenly feel like a bum.

Well, wait till you hear about Marisa of New Dress a Day, an incredible blog that I have to share. Marisa is undertaking a really cool project–she’s refashioning an old dress a day for an entire year, and she’s doing it for only $1 a dress (each piece comes from the flea market or a neighborhood garage sale).

After browsing through her posts, I feel like I can no longer legitimately go to my closet and complain that I’m broke and have nothing to wear. Marisa takes on what she calls “atrosh” dresses–’80s bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, shapeless XXL muumuus–and completely transforms them. Check out this winner from Day 149. As with each entry, Marisa starts by giving us a Before picture:

picture credit: New Dress A Day

Then she works her magic. She removes large and in charge shoulder pads, shortens hems, creates belts from leftover fabric, reworks sleeves, changes necklines, and more. Here’s Day 149, After:

picture credit: New Dress A Day

Check out a zoom-in on these awesome pockets:

picture credit: New Dress A Day

According to an interview on Independent Fashion Bloggers’s site, Marisa was inspired to start this project after attending a screening of Julie & Julia. She says, “I had just gotten laid off, was getting ready to turn 30 and was in a complete creative funk. I left the movie and was jealous that Julie Powell had found something to get her creative juices flowing on a daily basis. I knew that I needed to do something too.”

So far, New Dress A Day has given the world 238 refashioned dresses. There are 127 days and $126 left to go.

Marisa, I have to say that you’ve made me feel a bit like a bum–but you’ve also inspired me to get my creative juices flowing more too. I admire the creative commitment this project requires, and I’m inspired by the possibilities of recycled/green fashion that you’ve shown us. I’m looking forward to following the New Dress A Day project for the rest of the year. Keep it up!

Roasted Vegetables from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market

24 Jul

I’m back in the Twin Cities for the weekend and I brought my A-Game.

We started the day with brunch at  Meritage (check out the review)–their Eggs Benedict is for those who do not mess around. Then, after fueling up on hollandaise (the true breakfast of champs) we headed over to the  St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

The market isn’t large, but it has nearly everything you’d be looking for at fantastic prices–fresh fruits and veggies, breads and pastries, meats (cured, smoked, and fresh), cheeses, flowers, plants and herbs, honey, some handmade crafts, soaps and clothes, and more.  Most importantly, it has in abundance what makes a farmer’s market fun to visit: that great sense of community. It’s so rewarding to support local farms and families and know that the food you’re getting is really as fresh as it comes.

Here’s the breakdown:

I was surprised by the selection of potted flowers and plants. These annuals were $2 for one, $11 for 6, or $18 for a dozen.

Great for the garden.

I wanted to take home this lavender plant–it smelled heavenly.

There were also lots of lovely, reasonably priced flower bouquets for $5–quite a deal. But, if you want to beat that price, do your shopping at the farmer’s market at the end of the day–then, they’re an even better deal at $3-$4.  When you’re selecting your bouquet, look for a bunch that has lots of unopened buds in it. That way, you’ll get the most mileage for your flower money.

Great deal.

We decided to make some roasted vegetables for dinner, so we started collecting ingredients, beginning with eggplant, $3 for a carton of 4.

Next we picked up some carrots, a bunch cost $3:

Beets were next on the list. They’re delicious when roasted because their natural sweetness becomes caramelized. We found some yellow and red ones, $3 bought a bunch.

When you're looking for beets, get a bunch that are smaller in size--they'll be sweeter!

We picked up some yellow and purple onions, and then discovered some unusual, multi-colored Swiss Chard in red, purple, and yellow. I had never come across these before–I’m wondering if they’re sweeter than the standard variety–has anyone used them in a recipe? If so, I’d love to get some tips! Though they didn’t make it into our pot of roasted vegetables, I picked some up to experiment with later. Aren’t they pretty?
While we browsed around, we came across a couple of stands with some great samples. The one that stands out in my mind was the River Chocolate Company, which had some of the best caramel sauce I’ve ever tasted:

Dangerously good!

If you get a chance to go to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, be sure to check them out! I really regret not buying a bottle. The flaw in my thinking was that the caramel sauce would counteract the healthy veggie dinner we had planned. But, I realize now that I failed to remember the nutritional value of caramel sauce…when you eat it with a sliced apple…or a bag of fiber-fortified pretzels…or a spoon…   Well, I’ll just have to make it my excuse to come back soon.

It’s now a few hours later and our roasted veggies are looking great. With a piece of fish or a marinated steak they’ll make a fantastic meal that’s fairly inexpensive–we got all these vegetables for less than $20. Plus, it’s so easy and quick to prepare. Just wash the vegetables, halve or quarter them (I like these larger pieces–they’re more “rustic,” as my inner foodie snob would say!), throw the whole batch into a big roasting pan, and drizzle with olive oil. If you like, you can throw in some garlic cloves and herbs, like rosemary, maybe. But, I have to say, the flavor of the roasted veggies–especially when they’re fresh from the farm–is so incredible that all you need is some salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

On the Jedi Mind-Tricks of Luxury Leather Goods–and the Luxury Man-Purse–all brought to you by Coach

13 Jul

Like many people, my little brother John is looking for a job. He’s a recent college grad, he’s going to lots of interviews, and he’s trying to use all the tips, tricks, and voodoo that he can to get hired. In the past few weeks John’s revised and re-revised his resume, and he’s polished his interviewing skills. He’s more than qualified. But he needs to stand out–in any way he can–from other candidates. This calls for some Jedi mind trickery.

If you ask me, there are few things that can perform Jedi mind-tricks on people better than luxury leather goods. Think about it. When you see a woman with an iconic Hermès Birkin Bag, what happens? You immediately know things about her–like, she’s wealthy. She’s successful. She’s X (insert powerful adjective here). This is what I mean by Jedi mind-tricks.

Who would ever think that saltwater crocodile or goat skins should symbolize status, wealth, and success.

So, I’m on a mission. John needs a wallet and a briefcase, and he needs them to say, “You know you want to hire me.” This is how I suddenly find myself on Coach.com.

Why would I look at Coach, you ask–aren’t they just for women? Well, not anymore. Coach’s most recent step in taking over the world is Coach for Men, their first men’s-only store located at 370 Bleeker Street in New York City’s West Village, which opened late this spring. If you can’t make it to the store check out their website, which offers store exclusives.

I found myself drawn to this little beauty, called a “Transatlantic Flap Business Brief.” Doesn’t this bag make the mannequin look like a top-notch job candidate? That’s what $498 will buy you.

I like the versatile carrying options this one offers–and I think Coach is smart to style it on the mannequin in the fashion of a messenger bag–it’s very “Young Professional.” However, the hardware and the distinguished look of the flap keep the bag from being overly youthful.

Looking for a less expensive option, I stumbled upon this one–called a “Bedford Portfolio Envelope”–it’s a hundred dollars less at $398.

What’s nice about this choice is that it has a business card holder and credit card slots inside, which might eliminate the professional requirements that call for a new wallet, in addition to a new briefcase. But, I’m afraid that as far as my brother’s tastes are concerned, our Bedford Envelope friend may tread in dangerous “man-purse” waters. It does somewhat resemble a giant clutch. So, even though there’s lots about this choice that I like, I’ll leave him for another, more fashion forward man.

You may be wondering, where is the line between a business brief and man-purse? Well, if you’re a man shopping at Coach, the line is somewhere between the Bedford Envelope and this option:

This is called a “Coach Op Art Leather Medium Business Tote,” and goes for $498. The detailing on this bag definitely gives it more personality than the standard brief case. I like the signature Coach “c” pattern, the glovetan leather trim, and of course the efficient, all-purpose tote shape. I would definitely use this at work–but, I’m a woman. I imagine this bag isn’t for every guy–it’s more likely to appeal to a man with sophisticated taste who many already have brand-loyalty to Coach.

Even if you’re not a fan of Coach’s man-purse, I think there’s a lot to appreciate in their new expanded men’s line. Besides luxury leather goods, other products offered range from footwear to outerwear, watches, fragrance and special pieces, like a dog collar for Man’s best friend.  And, since we’re talking about business “accessories” here, it seems appropriate to mention that Coach for Men can only benefit Coach’s business model–in other words, (sorry, I can’t help myself) the expanded men’s line is certainly expanding Coach’s bottom line.

In fact, according to Morningstar, an independent investment research company, Coach’s diversification into new market segments like Men’s luxury goods will fuel the company’s growth in the next 5 years. To be specific, Morningstar estimates Coach will grow 16% in the next 5 years. Let’s put this into context–Morningstar estimates that the Luxury Goods Industry itself, over the same 5 year period, will grow only 13.7%, while the S&P 500 will grow 10.7%.

Next 5 Years’ Estimated Growth% Forward P/E PEG Ratio
Stock 16.0 14.2 0.9
Industry 13.7
S&P 500 10.7

data taken from Morningstar, Inc. Quicktake report generated 7-12-10 for Coach stock (COH)

So, long story short: I’m going to advise John to invest in a good briefcase–his professional wardrobe will thank him later. Meanwhile, I’m going to invest in Coach’s stock!