Friday, December 28, 2007

There are a lot of people in New York right now...

... which is part of the reason that I have been away from blogging recently. The Spanish Invasion (the sequel) is now in New York -- Rafa's sister and her boyfriend are in town. I have been showing them around the city during, I may add, the busiest time of year. Christmas in New York is the reason that I curl up into a little ball on my couch at this time of year -- making believe the craziness doesn't actually exist is a lot easier than dealing with reality -- New York at Christmas is OFF THE HOOK!

I was almost trampled upon a few times already. Why can't all these tourists just go home already? Christmas was DAYS ago. LOL.

The first Spanish Invasion featured Rafa's bff and girlfriend. I had the strength to blog about their trip daily. I don't think that is happening any time soon. But, I have made some delish dinners, so stay tuned on my other blog.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is the food fresh?: A TV review

For the last few weeks, the American version of Kitchen Nightmares has been on TV here. It's basically the same thing as Gordon Ramsay's British show, but of course Americanized... like bits about him 'almost' about to get into fist fights with uptight Long Islanders... and how every single woman on the show seems to think he is 'oh so handsome'. I never really liked Gordon Ramsay, but really started appreciating him for his talent ever since seeing the British version of the show on BBC America many months ago.

Brilliance is attractive. He is a very, very smart man when it comes to his craft. And not just the cooking. The whole array of things that comes with being a restauranteur. He obviously is in the right field, and loves what he does. So I have come to really like him. And yes, there is something sexy about him.

The premise of the show is that Gordon visits a restaurant in financial trouble; customers don't come in, management is shit, chefs and/or owners are too set in their ways, to the point of even being abusive to their work colleagues. And then, Gordon saves them all.

As a foodie, however, I really like the food aspect of the show. Gordon Ramsay is a cook first, restauranteur second. When he comes to sample the dishes the restaurant cooks, he usually asks for crab cakes, if they are on the menu, and always asks if the crab is fresh. More often than not, the wait staff tells him it is, and more often than not, they are lying or don't know that the crab is not fresh -- that most of the food items in the restaurant are not freshly made. This show has really opened my eyes to the restaurant business. I already knew that obviously chain restaurants didn't make things fresh for the most part. But, I never thought that individual restaurants did that... And I still have the optimistic view, or hope, that restaurants do serve up freshly made food...

One comment on the show really hit close to home. When Gordon had a bite of some really bad lobster ravioli in a restaurant in Long Island, he sent it back. He said it tasted like it was frozen. The waiter brought back the ravioli to the chef and told him what Chef Ramsay said. The chef said, 'Yeah, of course, it's from Restaurant Depot.' Now, I know about Restaurant Depot. My dad always talks about it because he goes there for kitchen supplies being a utensil hoarder, that of course is genetic; the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When I asked him after seeing the show if they sell frozen food, he said, 'Yeah, that is where all restaurants get their food'. I was shocked! I mean, I'd like to believe that at least posh restaurants in Manhattan make their own food, but I have fully realized that everybody else is just buying already prepared food, heating it up, and serving it to customers. I don't know about you, but that pisses me off. My father is fully convinced that EVERY restaurant on the face of this Earth uses already prepared food. I think that's going a bit overboard, but I think it would surprise the majority of us how much food is really not made by our favorite restaurants.

Some un-fresh food for thought! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

... It's the best time of the year....

We got our Christmas tree! Of course, we're total procrastinators getting it so late, not unlike the other Christmas enthusiasts around us that start decorating their houses a few hours after they have had their Thanksgiving lunch.

Previous years, we have had our mini fake tree. There didn't seem to be a point to get a big one or even the real thing, living in a tiny one-bedroom... But this is the first Christmas in an actually decent-sized place. Rafa has to do all the Jewish holidays with me and my folks, so it is only fair that I do Christmas with him. But, honestly, I don't mind! I love Christmas -- I've never actually met a Jew that likes Christmas as much as I do. The songs, the eating, the decorating, the SHOPPING! And this year we have a real tree, that smells like a forest (I don't really have much access to nature!), that we could decorate. I could finally make Nigella's Christmas tree decorations! That will be my weekend project. I'll delightfully de-emasculate our tree with frilly and shiny decs while my husband is none-the-wiser all the way up in Boston.

We did start on some 'modest' decorations last night. We put up two sets of lights, which we quickly found out were not enough for our massive (kinda obese) tree. And we have a bunch of balls (or as my British friends say 'baubles', which, by the way, sounds even dirtier than balls!) to put up, but alas, no strings. Why do they sell balls without strings? We also need that long sparkly stuff to drape around the tree. We're not sure what it's called. Not tinsel. It's like the Christmas version of a drag queen's feather boa.

The night of fun wasn't complete, though, without stuffing our face with Brooklyn's finest pizza. Oh, we totally left our previous pizza establishment. I've decided, after too many oily pies recently, that they have definitely gone downhill in taste and quality. I consulted with hubbykins, and we decided that we needed to try something new. After five years of loyalty to one place, it was time to move on... and surprisingly, we moved on fairly quickly. So, it's Trio no more. Now, Del Mar is supplying our bi-monthly cravings for pizza.

After some decorating and some eating, we opened up brand spankin' new Season 3 of Lost. Yes! We actually had it delivered on its release date, confirming to me that God is actually masquerading on this Earth as

So we started off the Christmas season the right way.... with vanity, gluttony, and a nice dose of materialism for good measure. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

2 week countdown to unemployment, again

So my temp job is living up to its title -- it's over, at least in two weeks it is.

I was crushed, initially, when I found out. That was an odd feeling because I knew sooner or later I'd find out my future there -- but I guess the shock went away pretty fast. It's temporary. It's nothing personal. It's strange, though, how you could feel so attached so quickly. And it's something I never thought I'd enjoy doing, but it wasn't that bad. Since I'm leaving soon, I guess I'd better tell you what I have been doing at the hoity toity offices on Madison Avenue. Event planning! Yes! I was doing basically the recruiting end... for a pharmaceutical company. It felt horribly unethical, but I guess I kind of forgot about that since I was getting a paycheck for the past three months or so. I've realized I like talking on the phone, and generally being nice to people, because I'm a nice person. It's not an act with me. I know America is all about customer service and smiling at everyone and basically giving a good impression, but I really DO like people, and providing a good service, and smiling at people. I like people! What else have I learned? That I'm not as smart as I thought I was, and I had/have a lot to learn. I've learned to breathe in and out in a stressful situation, and there were many at this job. I've learned that it is up to me, and me alone, to make myself happy. I was so unhappy, for so long... And Crapco was the reason. I was drowning there. I allowed myself to fall into a rut, to gain an ungodly amount of weight, to waste away because I saw no end to it. Until I put an end to it. And then I went to Israel and had the time of my life. And then I came home and thought I'd have a mental breakdown because I wasn't working and nobody wanted me to work for them and I was needing to move out of the place that I thought would make me happy but didn't. I moved there because I was so unhappy at Crapco. Yeah, that's smart, Ilana. You move apartments because you're unhappy in your job. Back then, I didn't know where to pinpoint my unhappiness.

So in August I found this temp job and we moved to the best friggin' apartment in Brooklyn, thank you very much, and life is absolutely wonderful. Really friggin' great. So I am going to be unemployed again soon and the holidays are coming which means holiday expenses and my sister-in-law is coming to visit from Spain and we have to show off just a little bit because we're the successful family members in America... and that's wonderful, because this is an experience she won't have too often. But all that is fine. I'm not freaking out. It will work out, it always does. I'm happy... for the first time in a long time. I'm healthy. Working at a quasi-normal place for three months showed me there is a positive work atmosphere. There are normal people out there. That come to work to work.

I'm bummed I won't be able to wear my awesome work clothes for a while... I was so rocking winter! But I'll wear them again. My life isn't over. I'll just have to find a new place to debut various outfits... And no shopping for a while, either. Damn! I'm putting an end to it soon, though, because I have been going kind of mental with it lately. The other day I bought what is probably my hundredth handbag. I need a support group! Unemployed-Bagwhores-Anonymous. Please join me, at least for the bagwhore part. :)