Ulysses on Stone Street: Monday Lobster Special $19.95

I’m rarely off during the weekdays because I’m working, but since it’s Labor Day, I’m off! The Mr. and I were starving and only bought food for dinner, so we went out in search of lunch somewhere nearby downtown.  We walked over to Stone Street since we really wanted to sit outside for lunch and enjoy the ideal 80 degree day today.  Also, Tribeca gets really crowded with strollers when it’s nice out.  The babies love Battery Park City and Tribeca!

We got ready in minutes and left.  This is my “I hope I don’t see anyone I recognize outfit because I just got off the couch.”

Stone Street is full of bars and outdoor seating.  Ulysses seems to have the most real estate on Stone Street, but all of the places have benches sit on along the cobble stone street.  We noticed these “How to Eat a Lobster” placemats and realized they had a Monday deal.  $19.95 for a whole lobster, corn on the cob, and a baked potato.  Not bad!  (It made me miss Burger & Lobster, haven’t been there recently.)  Ulysses is always reliable for good outside seating though, even when they don’t have a promotion.  I like it best for drinks during the day, and some basic bar bites.Here’s a close up of the sign and deal:I spy an intense eyeball.  I am not sure why there’s a Greek flag hanging…lol Beautiful day on Stone Street today:Eight dollars each for a beer–one Guinness and one Radberger.  It’s best when you get a beer cylinder here, but we weren’t going to be that ambitious for just two of us.  After all, we do have work tomorrow.We decided to share the mini cheeseburgers and a lobster special.  I love how they positioned the lobster so it looks like it’s clutching the corn on the cob and about to take it down.  The baked potato is hiding under there too.  (The baked potato was nice and salted on the outside.  I hate when they just bake it and bring it to the table completely plain!)

img_4351Look at that huge piece of lobster meat!A relaxed crowd enjoying drinks and lunch at all the bars and restaurants on Stone Street on this pleasant Labor Day Monday:There he is copying me and snapping photos:Here’s another weekend lunch/brunch time I was at Ulysses with my family.  It was a lot hotter that day!img_4282img_4277Mmmmm stuffed bowl with cheesy corn on the cob!  Definitely not diet-friendly!img_4285And calamari…perfect salty food for drinking:img_4283I am definitely a repeat client of Ulysses.  I generally only visit when it’s nice enough to sit outside!

Links to reviews:

Yelp 3.5

TripAdvisor 4.0

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A Healthier and Easy Banana Bread: Make it quick, before you run out the door!

I had four rotting bananas that I really didn’t want to throw away.  I was also in a hurry to get ready and leave, because I needed to run an errand on the way to my Mayweather-McGregor watch party!   #fightnight #vegassssss 🙂

I took a shower, prepared the banana bread, threw it in the oven, and finished getting ready.  That’s how easy this one-bowl type recipe is to make.  It was perfect.  It baked for 55 minutes, and that’s exactly how long I needed to primp,  prime, dress up, and be at the door by the time the banana bread came out.  The best part about this recipe is that it contains no butter!  It’s made with applesauce, and half sugar/half honey, which is healthier of course than butter, and all sugar.  Honey still has sugar of course, but it is more natural and less processed.

Here are my overly ripe bananas about to be delicious banana bread:

There was absolutely no need to put the bananas in a separate bowl.  I crushed them with a fork into the mixture.Here I am about to mash the bananas with a fork into the applesauce, honey, sugar, egg mixture:  Stir around and mix gently.  Don’t turn this into baby food puree:Pour the batter into the greased/floured loaf pan.  You can make this recipe with a muffin pan and cook it for a shorter period of time, but it is way easier to pour it just once into a loaf pan:The loaf is out of the oven!  So pretty that I had to take multiple pictures.  It’s also extremely difficult to convey how good this smelled…I wrapped the banana bread in the loaf pan tightly with foil and put it in the fridge overnight.  I store all of my baked goods like banana bread, cornbread, etc., in the refrigerator.  Especially when you’re baking with fresh fruit and applesauce, the stuff tends to go bad if you leave it out.

It’s particularly important to let baked goods made with applesauce to sit overnight.  I find that otherwise they stick to the side of the pan or muffin liners.  However, when you let them sit overnight, the muffin/loaf/-fill-in-the-blank separates itself from the sides.

I took it out of the fridge this morning, cut two very thick slices, and gently warmed them on a piece of foil in the oven.  I set the oven to 350F, but didn’t even wait for it to get to that temperature.  The pieces just slightly needed to be warmed because there was some condensation from the foil that had formed (and the banana bread was obviously very cold from the refrigerator):Here it is out of the oven.  COULD NOT WAIT TO FINALLY TRY THIS!

Breakfast is served!

Light Banana Bread (Adjusted from Food.com Best Banana Bread Recipe)

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs beaten

4 bananas mushed with a fork

1.5 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

a few dashes of cinnamon

butter and flour to grease pan

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease the loaf pan with butter, and flour it.
  2. Get a big mixing bowl.  Combine the applesauce, honey, and sugar.
  3. Stir in the two beaten eggs.
  4. Put the bananas in the mixing bowl and mash them down with a fork.  (It doesn’t need to be puree, just make sure they’re smashed.  Little chunks of bananas are perfect.)
  5. Stir in the flour, salt, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Don’t go crazy mixing, just make sure it’s generally evenly mixed.
  6. Pour into the greased/floured loaf pan and bake at 55 minutes at 350F.
  7. Cover with foil when it comes out of the oven and refrigerate overnight.

 

My New Jil Sander Handbag: Discreet Designer Luxury

I purchased a new bag from Jil Sander recently, and I’ve worn it practically everyday.  I love that it’s a discreet bag, yet by looking at it, you can tell it’s designer and luxurious.  The leather is thick and durable, and the handbag’s details make it unmistakably designer fashion.  Unless you can read size seven lettering stamped into leather from a block away, you’d have a rough time identifying the brand.  It’s not covered in logos, or recognizable print.  Although do not get me wrong.  I love my Goyard…but I have been basking in Jil Sander as of late.  (I would also like to add that when I bought my beloved red Goyard bag, the brand was a lot less popular and not as many people in NYC were carrying it).  Using my Goyard for a pop of color during late winter:img_2866This Jil Sander bag is a perfect example of a fashionable, discreet, designer item.  From my standpoint, there are many benefits to buying more subtle designer items versus more blatantly branded items.img_4164-1Originally, the Jil Sander bag was $2,085, but I bought it at the boutique during their sale.  For my crazy bag ladies out there, you know that $2,085 is a far cry from the $5,000-$6,000 that a lot of brands feel comfortable charging these days.  I am not at all knocking the Chanel and Hermes bags of the world.  They have retained and continue to increase in value, because there is something to be said for longstanding tradition and quality.  Chanel’s bread and butter is to increase the price of the chain and flap bag every year!  Mind you, there are many very wealthy consumers who no longer buy Chanel bags.  They don’t want to be associated with the “I-just-spent-my-first-big-paycheck-on-a-Chanel-bag-types” of shoppers.  When you spend that level of money on a bag, you want to feel a certain level of exclusivity and originality.  The favorable price point of this Jil Sander bag, is just one of the reasons I think it’s a perfect example of subtle luxury, but still an elevated designer item.

Below are additional reasons why I love discreet handbags:

  • They’re chic and stylish.  They are a more subdued type of luxury that is not in your face.  Using the Birkin bag as an example is kind of trite, but think more along the lines of Mulberry, Valextra, and Bottega Veneta.  Mulberry has an iconic Postman’s Lock and tiny little tree logo.  Valextra also has an iconic closure that is completely non-descript.  Bottega Veneta is known for their woven leather, and doesn’t even have a logo on their goods.  It is a completely understated and subtle brand, catering to a client-base that appreciates luxury, craftsmanship, quality, and style.
  • Buying a blatantly logo bag doesn’t make you fashionable.  Matching your bag to your outfit, however, does make you look stylish and self aware.  Would you wear a big tote with your short going-out dress?  No, you wouldn’t.  You would look like you changed into your club wear in the bathroom at the office.  Regardless of whether your big tote is covered in logos, the style of your clothing still would not match the style of your handbag.  Your purse and clothing need to be dressed for the same occasion.
  • You can wear discreet bags longer.  Of-the-moment bags come and go.  Discreet bags are generally more classic shapes than the trendiest bag of the season.  Remember the Fendi “Spy” bag that debuted around 2006?  Remember the Louis Vuitton bags with the 2003 Takashi Murakami print?  Exactly…so does everybody else!  Which means that every time you take those types of bags out of your closet, everyone knows you’re bringing out a seasonal vintage.  PurseBlog.com wrote a whole article in December 2013 when Gwen Stefani brought her Spy bag out from hiding lol 🙂  How could she?!

The Jil Sander bag is a simple practical bag with thoughtful details.  Here are all of the photos.  This is a look at its beautiful side profile.  There is an open pocket on either side, and in the middle there is a zippered compartment:

The bag is lined in red leather inside, which I love.  Below is an aerial glimpse inside.  I’m sorry it’s full of stuff, I’ve been using it non-stop!  There’s an inside flap for storage of small items.  I keep my work badge in there for quick access at all times.  If I’m about to get on the subway, I like to have my MetroCard ready in this flap ahead of time, so I’m not fiddling with my wallet:There’s also a hook to clip your keys on:A very ladylike, yet utilitarian bag:Here it is hanging out on the ottoman next to the world’s slimmest wine fridge:Once fall gets going, I’m going to buy some fur accessories to prepare the bag for winter.  For now though, I’ve been wearing it as is everyday to work during the summer:

Yachting in SoHo with Bloody Marys

I really felt like a Bloody Mary yesterday, and it had been way too long since I’d gone out to brunch in NYC.  I rarely drink Bloody Marys, because usually they’re way too heavy and it’s like having a second meal with brunch.  However, the one at Lure Fishbar is pretty amazing, and the large cocktail shrimp they give you is unforgettable.  The Bloody Mary Royale comes in at eighteen bucks, but it’s totally worth it.  The drink is so well-balanced, and you get an oyster shooter on the side!  We were walking uptown through SoHo, and we really wanted to go to a seafood restaurant for brunch.  This place never disappoints, especially that Bloody Mary–perfect!

IMG_4141IMG_4140

For those of you who have not dined at Lure yet, the entire restaurant looks like a very luxurious wood and leather-paneled yacht.  It’s such a nice retreat going into Lure and getting away from the madness of SoHo shopping.  One of my favorite parts about the restaurant is how relaxing it is, yet how vibrant and youthful the atmosphere feels.

The restaurant opened in 2004, and it’s been very well-maintained in regards to the decor and the standard of food.  I’ve been to Lure Fishbar quite a few times over the years, and the seafood is always excellent.  I’ve always been pleased with all of my dishes, and I’ve visited for brunch, lunch, happy hours, and dinner.  Yesterday, my only gripe was that the hostess kept texting while we were standing in front of her waiting to be seated.  I won’t let a bored and annoyed hostess take away from all of my great experiences at this place!  🙂

Links to reviews:

Yelp 4.0

OpenTable 4.6

TripAdvisor 4.0

A Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Meal Complete with Guinness

I love making food for holidays because it’s festive and it just makes life a little more fun!  This year I took my first try cooking traditional Irish fare on St. Patrick’s Day.  My significant other is from an Irish Catholic background, and always talks about how his mother made him soda bread growing up.  So I took it as a challenge!  Since St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday this year, we decided to make a night of it by baking soda bread and cooking corned beef and cabbage.

I’m kind of stubborn, so I couldn’t just find any boring old recipe.  Soda bread doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the most flavorful and spice-laden bread…  My aim was to make something traditional but with flavor.  Out of all the recipes that I read, I thought Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe was the most promising.  I liked that it included grated orange zest and red currants.  (I actually did not have have red currants and used raisins instead.)  I made three adjustments to the recipe:

  1. I do not buy buttermilk, so instead I used skim milk and vinegar.  It’s a great substitute and it saves you so many calories.  If you don’t know the ol’ skim milk and vinegar substitution look no further: link to the explanation and substitution measurements.
  2. Whenever possible I substitute applesauce in place of butter.  In this recipe I used half applesauce/half butter.  I didn’t want to risk using more applesauce since I thought the dough might be too temperamental.
  3. Raisins in place of red currants

Here I am deep in action:I’m lazy and I don’t want to scrub a greasy baking sheet, so I lined it with aluminum foil.  Here’s my soda bread ready to bake in the oven.Look at this beautiful golden soda bread with a nice crust right out of the oven:Yes, definitely enjoy a piece of this with some Guinness while your corned beef is boiling for another hour 🙂

Having said that, let’s take a look at the corned beef and cabbage bubbling in action.  Yep, I just take the Guinness with me around the apartment lol  I mean it was Friday, after all!  We followed the Allrecipes.com Corned Beef and Cabbage for cooking the meat and vegetables.  However, we bought our corned beef from Grand Central Market before heading downtown, so it didn’t come with the “spice packet” that is mentioned in a lot of these recipes.  Instead, we created our own spice packet using salt, lots of black pepper, brown sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon, and whatever else it listed online.  I couldn’t duplicate the recipe if I tried!Here is the meat waiting to be cut up…check out this action shot:The corned beef and cabbage is finally ready!The table set and prepared for dinner after a long evening of waiting for the corned beef and cabbage.  We definitely needed some heavy red wine to cut through the corned beef:All in all, a successful St. Patrick’s Day Friday night!  A lot better than going to an overly crowded bar with drunk 21 year olds slopping around in their green “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirts!

No Need to Boil Pasta Separately: Al Dente “One Pot Spaghetti” with Fresh Lemon Zest, and Spinach or Kale

I’ve made this recipe twice now, and my fiancé  would probably eat the whole pan by himself if I wasn’t there.  Actually, I take that back.  He ate half the pan by himself when I put the leftovers in the fridge for the next night.

This is a “one-pot-spaghetti-recipe” from the New York Times.  Technically, it’s two pots, because you have to boil water 🙂  I get what they’re saying though, since you don’t have to wash the first pan, after only using it to boil water.  What makes this recipe really different, is that you do not boil the pasta separately!  I really like the way this comes out, because I think the flavors are more developed.  It tastes less like pasta and sauce, and more like pasta infused with sauce.  I also love the fact that the pasta tastes more al dente than when I boil it separately, and combine it with sauce.  The lemon zest really gives this a fresh and healthy flavor, and it doesn’t taste like the pasta is about to weigh you down into the couch!

First step is to boil a little water. Then you throw it into your “one pan” of ingredients. Spaghetti, halved grape/cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, and I like to add dried oregano and basil.

Here’s the primary before everything starts cooking:Throw in the spinach after you’re done cooking. Here’s the spinach all mixed in.  This is the final product! Serve and enjoy!

One-Pot Spaghetti (Recipe fully reprinted from the NYTimes)

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 pints)
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 bunch kale or spinach, leaves only, washed and chopped
    • [Note: I am lazy and buy pre-washed/pre-chopped kale or spinach.  For the spinach, I even use the the baby spinach that pre-washed for salad–it’s excellent!
  •  Salt and pepper, to taste
  •  Parmesan, for serving

Directions:

  1.  Bring just over a quart of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place spaghetti, tomatoes, lemon zest, oil and salt in a large, dry, shallow pan. (The pan should be large enough that the dry spaghetti can lie flat.)  [Note: I don’t have a pan that’s big enough for the spaghetti to lie flat, so I just break it in half!  This is also where I add dried oregano and dried basil.  You can also use fresh oregano and/or basil, but I don’t generally have it on hand.]
  2. Add the hot water to the pan with the spaghetti. Cover pan, and bring up to a boil. Remove lid and simmer for about 6 minutes, using tongs to move the spaghetti around now and then so it doesn’t stick. Add kale or spinach and continue cooking until remaining liquid has reduced to a sauce and the pasta is cooked through. Taste, season and top with cheese.

“Burberry in Bloom” at Brookfield Place: Beautiful Free Bouquets for Valentine’s Day

I bought my fiancé a pair of his beloved Burberry boxers that recently ripped, right before Valentine’s Day.  They don’t actually sell them in-store, but I ordered them on Burberry.com and collected them in-store the very next day.  They had such a beautiful promotion for Valentine’s Day.  They were giving away a freshly made and trimmed bouquet to each person that made a purchase.

This was the spectacular set-up right when you walk into the store:I took my beautiful bouquet and headed home.  Goodbye Burberry!   I love carrying around luxury shopping bags…  Who doesn’t?!I brought them home and unpackaged them only to find how perfectly assembled and preserved they were.  I don’t even always get this type of packaging when I buy from the florist.They perfectly sealed the flowers and rubber-banded water into the plastic to keep the flowers fresh: Perfect for my glass vase!Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day!