Hey there folks, welcome to the next sporadic installment of 'The Samantha Files'. I know, you check here all the time and are disappointed at the lack of regular content. I'm still working on getting back into a groove, just like I'm trying to get into the 'going to the gym regularly' groove. I will tell you that the nice weather has been helping to offset enormous amounts of work stress, and Dave and I have been spending every weekend in NYC. What have we been up to, you ask?
We went to Buddakan with our friends S and H (who will remain initials for the time being, don't want to reveal their identities without permission!). If you have not been there yet, you must go right now and order everything off the menu. Ok, that might be a bit much. Certainly order the edamame dumplings, the deviled tuna tartare, the sweet and sour eggplant, the vegetable fried rice, the kaffir lime tart. Check out Andrea Strong's review (April 10, 2006 in the Buzz archive section) for many, many more reasons why you should go check it out.
We went to El Bocodito which we loved. El Bocodito is a great little Mexican restaurant on the Lower East Side, think Mexican streetfood in a really small, relaxed, cool setting. And hey, Josh Lucas was there too... great minds think alike. (And the answer to your question, he is quite dreamy in person. Pshew!). I highly recommend the 'Ginger Bocadito' margarita, ginger-infused tequila with muddled pineapple. We tried quite a few small dishes off the menu and look forward to a return visit soon.
Since we walked by on the way to El Bocodito, we really had to give Rice to Riches a try. The concept - all rice pudding, all the time. Never one to say no to dessert, we picked up a small 'Coconut Coma' topped with roasted peaches and a small 'Man-made Mascarpone with cherries'. I love the containers they use, I will take a picture for you but you can see the bottom half of the container here... really sturdy brightly-colored plastic containers that come with a little 'paddle' instead of a spoon. If you go to their site, click on 'Vibe' then 'Packaging'. I'm a sucker for great packaging, and they've won my heart!
The rice pudding was delicious too. What we liked most was that the flavors were really quite different. I think I expected them to taste a bit alike, but that was not the case. The coconut had a really rich, coconut milk background, and the peaches were the perfect topping. The mascarpone was smooth and delicate, punctuated with sour cherries. A return visit is in order, and will let you know what flavors we try next. (And you can actually order their rice puddings online to be shipped across the country... send some to family and friends!)
Saw the play 'Faith Healer' yesterday afternoon, and it might have been the best play I have ever seen. I know that's a big statement, but this play is truly what theatre is supposed to be like. The story is about Francis Hardy, a faith healer who travels from town to town with his wife, Gracie, and his manager, Teddy. The play has 4 acts, and each act is a monologue by one of the characters. I don't want to tell you any more about it, so I'll just say that if you have the opportunity to see this play I highly recommend it. And anyway, how can you resist the chance to see Ralph Fiennes on stage?
After the play Dave and I made our way to the Upper West Side for dinner, and who did we see at the restaurant... Dr. Ruth. And it was her birthday too! I kid you not. She looks great, and hopefully had a nice dinner. :)
And in the world of crafts, a few projects have been occupying my time. I'm maybe halfway through 'Convertible', and am hoping to finish before a dinner I'm attending next Monday night outside of DC. It's a great lace project, just interesting enough to keep my interest but not so complicated that I can't knit in the car or while watching tv. My only fear is that it's coming out too wide, I really must steam-block it to gauge my progress. Not that I would start over again, I really don't think the width will be a big deal.
I've also been delving into the world of t-shirt reconstruction. I took the scissors to an old t-shirt yesterday morning, giving the shirt slight cap sleeves and a square neckline. I also shortened the length too. I want to finish the edges now, and am contemplating a crocheted edge that I saw in 'Tease'. Now to learn how to crochet!
I'd like to introduce you to Gobo. No, not this Gobo...
This Gobo. I had my hair cut and colored on Sunday, and asked Theresa (my fabulous stylist, I can't say enough good things about her! Book now) where Dave and I should go to get something to eat, and she recommended Gobo. She said her friend Darryn was working, so we should ask for him when we got there (he'd be wearing a cool hat).
Sounded good to us, so we walked over there and secured a nice two-top. Our waitress, Carrie, helped us decide how much to order, as the dinner menu is divided into quick bites, small plates and large plates, as well as soups, salads and side dishes (and yes, dessert, but you'll have to wait for that). We saw Darryn, or who we assumed was Darryn (yes, it was a cool hat) but figured we'd order dinner first and say hi later on.
Now, what we ordered:
Crispy spinach and soy cheese wontons
Avocado tartare with wasabi lime sauce
Kale, seaweed and beet salad with toasted walnuts
Southern style seitan strips over organic quinoa and vegetables
I also got a zing juice (apple, carrot and ginger), which was one of the best values for fresh juice ever. Love that already. Carrie brought over some cranberry nut bread and a multigrain bread with what seemed like a butternut squash spread.
We decided to have everything arrive when it was ready, as opposed to having 2 separate courses. The spinach wontons, which Dave was wary of because of their soy cheese component, were so good. Just crispy enough, but not greasy in any way. And the dipping sauce they came with? Perfection. We were told it is a mango chili sauce, but it was not spicy at all. It had a mellowness that makes me think that there might be some miso in there too. If I was on a desert island, I would want this sauce with me.
The avocado tartare was also really good, topped with crunchy barley pops and surrounded by a wasabi lime sauce. Presentation was spot on, with the avocado molded in a ring mold, topped with the little barley pops. A perfect 'asian' guacamole.
We both have mixed feelings about the salad. Presentation was fine, and we liked the beets, the seaweed and the walnuts. But the kale had this slightly 'earthy' aftertaste which we didn't really care for.
The southern style seitan was the best seitan I've ever had. Seitan is a meat substitute made of wheat gluten. There are lotsofrecipes online, and it is possible to find Seitan in a good natural foods store. It has a great chewy texture, really absorbs flavors (even better than tofu), and is a great protein-rich meat substitute. Gobo serves many seitan dishes, and the one we had was breaded seitan strips served over quinoa pilaf filled with vegetables. The strips were perfectly fried just like the wontons, and their quinoa I could eat everyday.
At this point, we were pretty full, but I can never pass up looking over the dessert menu. When Carrie came over with the menus, I asked if the man in the hat was Darryn. She said yes, and I said thanks, a friend just sent us here and told us to say hi to him. He came over, and was so nice. He introduced himself, was delighted that Theresa had sent us over, chastised us for not saying hi when we first came in (sorry Darryn, won't happen again I promise), and asked us if we liked everything so far (which we did, and told him so). I asked if he had any recommendations for dessert, so he said he did but wanted to check with the kitchen to make sure they still had some.
He recommended a hazelnut napoleon with raspberry sauce that we had seen but might not have ordered. Delish. And it was vegan... wow!
Darryn also gave us a 'friends' discount, which was so sweet. We were already ready to sing the praises of Gobo, and the discount was a pleasant surprise. We told him we'd be back soon, and we'd be sure to say hello again. Turns out Darryn and his brother opened Gobo, their parents founded Zen Palate. I think it's about time to eat there too.
So if you're in the neighborhood, stop by Gobo and say hi to Darryn, tell him Samantha sent you.
Nice weather, the library, and the Fishers were the highlights of this past weekend. We'll start with the library.
I grew up going to the library every other week, my mom would bring my sister and I and we would bring home tons and tons of books and records. My mom joked that we helped keep the library running since we were always paying overdue fines. I just found some pictures online of my hometown library... these pictures are from the early 1900's. The stacks are very cool, the floors are thick somewhat translucent glass, I remember being a little scared at first that the floors would crack and I would fall through.
I might have gotten on the Loop d Loop bandwagon a little late, but better late than never. This is a great book! I've already started the corkscrew scarf with some yarn I purchased (on sale) at Knitting Central. And there's a sweater and a hooded capelet I'd like to try. It'd be my first sweater... about time, right?
Now, onto the Fishers. Last night was the series finale of Six Feet Under, and I will admit I sobbed through much of it. Salon's Heather Havrilesky writes about the final season below, but beware - spoilers abound!
I completely agree with Heather when she writes "It felt very personal. Saying goodbye to "Six Feet Under" was, unexpectedly, an emotional wrenching experience, more memorable and invigorating and heartbreaking than I could ever have imagined it would be."
There's something about Six Feet Under that gets under your skin. The characters are so real that it seems as if you know them, that they live next door, work in your office, shop at the same grocery stores as you do. You see them go through the most joyous and most harrowing experiences, and watching their lives changes your own life as well.
So if you've watched the last episode, read on. And keep your fingers crossed that Alan Ball has another show up his sleeve. Congratulations to the cast and crew on an amazing 5 years, you will be missed.