I realize that I have been completely absent in my blogging activities for most of 2013... hell, for the past couple of years. Let's not mince words here. What else is new? Well, as it turns out, a lot is new. Between starting a new job, visiting three states that I never previously visited, and continuing to work on my MBA, 2013 was quite an eventful, if not decent, year. Since it has been sufficiently long enough since I posted anything worth reading, I’ll share the who, what, where, and when -- and, of course, the food -- of the past year with you now. Sadly, you won't get the tour du monde with this post, as I didn't travel and eat my way across the world this past year (I'll promise not to cry about that alone in my room in a few minutes from now... tears are welling as we speak... no they are n-- ok, yes, they are.) Expect this post to be mostly local-regional, with a few other places thrown in for good measure based on where I had the pleasure of visiting (namely SoCal, Vegas, San Antonio, Boston, and Baltimore.) Even with the limited geography, I am going to have a hard time recounting my “adventures” in a short number of words, hence why I will break this story into parts, posted incrementally over the next week. With that said, enjoy, and hopefully this makes up for a long lapse in posting. I entered 2013 by transitioning jobs and visiting New York for my birthday. We stayed in Midtown, walked around the touristy-but-beautiful Rockefeller Center, and saw the Christmas tree, among other activities that a non-local would normally do while in the city for a long weekend. A highlight for me was when
I drug Steve, kicking and screaming Steve and I ate at Pure Food and Wine, a raw vegan restaurant in Gramercy. I had a delicious Asian-inspired salad (the "spicy sesame" salad, for those currently drooling over the menu) that quickly turned out to be one of best things that I ate in a while, so much so that I went back for it when we took another trip in May for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. (More on that soon – with pictures!) I still can’t figure out how they make the crunchies that go on top of the salad or the rich wasabi aioli, although I suspect that a dehydrator and avocados are involved. I’ll need to go back and eat there a few more times to figure it out...
We also took a trip to nearby One Lucky Duck, just around the corner and sharing part of a kitchen with the restaurant, where I got some goodies to take home. Coconut macaroons, rosemary “quackers”, and chocolate chip cookies, all made with raw ingredients, filled my shopping bag. The store also has take-away juice and small meals, but we passed on these, since we just ate.
A trip to NY wouldn't be complete now without a visit to Bouchon Bakery for some macrons to take home. Oh, Bouchon Bakery... in an interesting juxtaposition to the last two places mentioned, this place is definitely not vegan. It is a small-chain, with five locations across the U.S., owned by the amazing Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon Bistro, etc. fame. Ugh. You should only know how much I love Bouchon Bakery. I can’t even begin to talk about the place without wanting to stuff a half dozen macrons down my gullet. And the Rockefeller Center location is just so. perfect. around the holidays. Even a Grinch like me feels in the spirit, coming out of there with a coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other to admire the tree, shoppers, and ice skaters nearby.
Needless to say, all three places would be frequent – nay, daily – stops for me, if I lived or worked in the city. *heavy sigh* If only... I could go on and on about how much I love the city, how many things I have yet to see and do there, and how many different eateries I would go to, had I the money and time, so let's move on. There's a lot to cover, and I'm only just touching on January.
By February, and into my second month at work, Steve and I went to Philly for the Home Show at the Convention Center. The sole motivation was discount tickets via Groupon, and quite frankly the show sucked; I wouldn’t even bother going again when it comes around in future years. Eating at Parc and making an obligatory visit to the Reading Terminal Market made the trip worth it, though.
Parc is an upscale French place in Rittenhouse Square with old school decor -- think dark wood paneling, a tiled floor (small, old, tightly clustered tiles), and filigree details on the ceiling. The food was delicious, but it would be remiss of me if I didn't point out that it wasn't cheap. Fair warning, everyone! Parc is definitely a once-a-year or special occasion type of place -- unless you have deep pockets, in which case I would suggest eating there every weekend. Scallops with white bean ragout was amazing. Tuna tartare was so fresh and clean. And, of all things, the bread -- especially the good raisin-walnut bread, with its super chewy, crispy crust -- could have been a meal its self.
Fortunately, a place like Parc (although not a complete substitute for Parc) opened nearby this year: Maxim's 22 in downtown Easton. For anyone that is local, you might be thinking, A French bistro-type restaurant... in Easton, of all places!?, and no, you aren't crazy. In fact, I shared the same disbelief when this restaurant, and others like it, opened this past year. The local area is definitely expanding its culinary options! The food at Maxim's 22 is good and comes without the trek to Philly and the couple hundred dollar dinner bill. Great selection of beers, too, for anyone with a taste that goes beyond the familiar domestics and imports (read: anything Anheuser Busch). Old Rasputin was on tap for a while, which is not easy to find in most places that I have been to, and for dessert they serve up "adult" floats made with vanilla ice cream dunked in raspberry lambic, chocolate stout, and the like. Yum.
Keeping with the Philly theme for a second – and before we wrap up for this post, since I could go on and on and I haven't even covered my bigger trips of the year! – City Tavern was a place I got to visit for the first time while at a work-related tradeshow in March. It is a restaurant near Penn's Landing with a rich history. The atmpsphere can best be described as a step back to the founding first years of America, with costumed waiters and traditional decor. It is definitely a tasteful, old timey atmosphere, though; very quaint, nothing hokey about it. City Tavern is good for groups, if booked in advance, and has a few lots down the street for parking. The menu is not too vegetarian-friendly, though; I spotted only a few non-meat offerings, but I wasn't impacted by this too much since I eat fish.
Stay tuned for part 2, covering my trip to Baltimore and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in May!
Places mentioned in this article:
"I’ve been less than honest about what I’ve really been up to lately. For the last year I’ve been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder on a new, full-length Nine Inch Nails record, which I am happy to say is finished and frankly fucking great." --Trent Reznor This is news worthy of putting in a larger font. Duh. My proverbial "Spidey senses" were tingling. I knew something was up. And as a NIN fan of 12+ years, this is awesome news. Admittedly, I am not an "OG" -- the band was conceived a year before I was born -- but I like to think that I was rockin' out as a single-celled organism, cerca 1988. This news makes me reflect on the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards... *cue magical, time warp music* I was ten years old, and it was one of the first times that I really paid attention to the band, outside of listening to "Closer" and "The Perfect Drug" radio edits occasionally played on Top 40 stations. Admittedly, I was waiting for the Backstreet Boys to come on and perform (laugh, if you must) when Nine Inch Nails came on to play "The Fragile" live in front of a dumbstruck audience that probably didn't understand what was going on. Even at the time, I couldn't help but to think, What is this mystical, haunting, beautiful music?!!?! as I fell in love with the song for the first time -- a song that would later become a message of hope and perseverance through some tough times in my life. Laugh, again, if you must, but that song is powerful. Listen to it, and you'll hear the tale of a struggling soul and someone reaching out to help her through what she is dealing with. It could be a friend in need, a lover, a sister... it can be anybody, in any role -- pick one, take a moment to reflect, and you'll get it.
"The Fragile" live at the 1999 MTV Music Awards
I also remember the equally haunting commercials for the album of the same name... and man, that album was a masterpiece. Hey, Trent: a remastered edition of the "The Fragile", with B-sides, would be an excellent birthday present. If we can have that before next January, as a follow-up to whatever awesome new music is in the works, that would be super. ;)
Now to pull $170 out of thin air to go see them and Queens of the Stoneage in Philly in a couple of months...
After an awful track record of 11 posts over the last 4-5 years, with the last post over two years ago, something struck me to write and reply to another The Weekly Musing last week. So, clearly, I could use some help with topic ideas and posting regularity, so please feel free to reach out with your suggestions. Use the subject "The Weekly Musing" when sending me your feedback.
The Weekly Musing #11In dealing with some projects at work and school over the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about culture. Where are you originally from? Think about the area you primarily grew up in when answering. Where is this place located? I am from the wonderful, and often stereotyped, state of New Jersey. The "armpit" of America, as some call it, is located on the East Cost of the United States of America. If you were to ask an average person about this place, what would be the first thing that might come to mind? This could be a key trait, custom, or even a stereotype that people would think about. Stereotypes? Like New Jerseyans have never heard of those before... /sarcasm. So I mentioned "armpit of America", that's one because of the perceived smell (hey, New York: thanks for dumping your garbage off all over the state and then blaming us for the smell driving down the Turnpike). Another is Jersey Shore, the bane of my existence and one of the reasons why I am glad I don't physically reside in the state anymore. Another is our accents, often confused with those from New York, specifically Staten Island. Oh, should I continue? We could be here all day... Some stereotypes are true, though. For instance, my mom was born and lived in Newark for a period of time, and her family was also born and partially-raised in the area. My grandmother used to say words funny, with what could be described as a "Jersey" dialect -- "soder" (instead of "soda") and "gah-nawwl" ("cannoli"... yeah that doesn't make sense at all, but it sure as hell sounds funny) -- as well as cutting words off, i.e. "Chine" (instead of "Chinese"). My mom and I speak funny sometimes, too, i.e. "tawlk" ("talk") and "Noork" ("Newark"). Are there any particular holidays, celebrations, traditions, etc. that are unique to this area? Depends on where you are located. A town not far from where I used to live had an Italian festival, sponsored by a local church every summer. The annual agricultural fair and Balloon Festival were both popular, too. As far as celebrities from New Jersey, we have some good ones: Frank Sinatra, "the Boss" (Bruce Springsteen)... and here's a list, Wikipedia did the work for me. How do you familiarize yourself with different cultures and customs? I enjoy learning about different cultures and customs through travel, discussions, reading... any exposure, really. Recently, there were some exchange students in a few of my MBA classes, in addition to individuals who traveled abroad as undergraduate students or for pleasure. They brought an interesting perspective to the class. If you answered The Weekly Musing, please leave a comment with your responses and/or re-post on your own page. I look forward to reading your responses!!!
Oh, hey, it's April. I'm still alive -- and the facade of Fuchsia-Revolver.org looks a little different because I was sick of staring blankly at the old layout. Would you look at that... but HEY! You know what's even more exciting? I have two brand, spankin' new domain names. Of course, this is a-few-weeks-old news by now, as they were registered near early-April, but who is counting the days (except me)? Nobody! So, what's going on? you might be asking, and the answer to that is I don't know yet. The first domain, which I am not yet ready to reveal to the general public, is for a business idea that some individuals actively involved in my personal life outside of the internet have heard me discussing. The second, annacparks.com,, is for my soon-to-be professional portfolio. The idea is that this domain will go on my business cards and I will, eventually, set it up to be an online resume and portfolio sort-of thing... not like that is a new concept for me - i.e., obsoletemachine.com cerca 2005, and now I can't get the damn name back because somebody has it locked up for a period of time. It will, however, be the very first time that I am actively trying to bridge my personal and professional "lives" together on one website! Wow, that whole paragraph was a mouthful. And didn't I just say I don't know? I did, didn't I? Well, I guess I did know after all. So that's the vision. Both domains, the one that I have yet to reveal and the one that I have already revealed, currently forward here until all of that happens. Read: until I have the time to make all of that happen. The good news is that I have until 2018 to figure it out, at which the domains will expire and I will have wasted about $78 and change. Let's hope it doesn't play out that way... :wink: By the way, this is post #700 on this Wordpress installation. (The "early years", 2002-2005, were lost in the host change from Netrillium to Surpass, otherwise I think we'd be closer to 1,000 at this point.) So happy post #700! And how does F-R.org and Burned-Bridges.net fit in with these two new domains? B-B.net, I'm not so sure, but this blog won't be going anywhere -- definitely not in the next year and a half, because the name expires in July 2014. My vision was to keep this going and make it loosely tied, via links, to my portfolio project. You know, for SEO and all that good stuff. So, five or fewer visitors who actually come here still, REJOICE! :grin: