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New York City

Center of the Universe. (Sing it, Girl…)*

So, I totally abandoned this blog, social outings, friends, sleeping more than four hours a night, and even wine for the first nine days of November in order to finish up that insane amount of projects we had going.

And then? Then I went to New York. And we were on VACATION. Like, the real kind, where you leave your laptop at home (I did!) and don’t even check your work email at all (I… almost did. I read them, but I didn’t reply to any! So that’s a half win?). Friends, if you haven’t been taking vacations – and I know you’re out there, because this was the first real vacation we have ever taken, in the 6 1/2 years we’ve known each other – and it was AWESOME.

Here are my new rules for vacation:
1) Don’t make any firm plans. Ideas, yes. Things you’d like to do, places you’d like to visit, restaurants you’d like to try – YES. Actual scheduled times at which to do any of these things? NO. Just wing it.

2) Groupon is your friend. Oh Groupon, I have never loved you so much as in NYC. You gave us fine French food, complete with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and a whole bottle of wine to split for $69. You gave us $40 worth of oxtail and Cuban pork, among other things, for only $20. You gave us organic mani-pedis for $19 each. You gave me a sassy new haircut with fiery highlights for half the price. And you gave us the most AMAZING couples massage with hot rocks, which we have learned is THE BEST THING EVER, for only $98. For both of us. And it felt like it lasted for three hours, somehow, even though it was only one. WHAT?!

Here is my list of foods I ate (some for the first time – marked with “!”) in NYC. I liked them.
Sea Urchin!
Escargot!
Foie Gras, which I may have finally learned to spell correctly
Veal Sweetbreads
Quail Eggs
The Tiniest Mushrooms I Have Ever Seen! – They were so cute I actually tasted them and they were even yummy.
Oxtail!

3) If you have a shopping weakness, say for fabric, it might be wise to set a budget for it before a very helpful Mood employee “starts a pile” for you, and hooks you up with a loyalty card. (Thanks, Stephany!) Else you risk getting halfway to the $25-back-after-$500-spent reward in one trip…

4) Do what you can to stay in a hotel that you love while you’re in it, but is not so cozy that you never want to leave. Our hotel was so awesome that it might deserve its own post, but let’s be honest, I will never get around to that. Suffice it to say, if you put the friendliest staff in the history of ever with the most efficient space design in an über-modern hunting lodge with chartreuse escalators, you win.

5) Splurge on something you will truly love. For us, obviously, that’s food. We did a seven-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings at Austrian restaurant Seäsonal, which we had both noticed separately while strolling through Manhattan. It was mind-blowing.

In summary, vacation was awesome. I am no longer completely stressed out, but I have plenty of good and fun projects to fill my time. I managed to decide Wednesday night to host/cook Thanksgiving, and totally rocked it (one of my guests declared it the best Thanksgiving dinner ever) and I get to keep eating it all weekend. Friday was our last wedding of the year, from which I got to bring home all manner of uneaten pies along with pride in a job well done. We may get an answer on the house we’ve been waiting for since June… sometime before New Year’s. And JULIA IS COMING HOME TONIGHT!

So – life is pretty sweet. As are all the pies in my fridge. Here’s hoping you have a vacation and some decadent desserts in your very near futures too!

 

*Bonus points to you if you got that reference.

Restaurant Michael – Winnetka

I’m BACK! Or, at least, I am trying. It’s hard to get back in the groove when you’ve taken three months (seriously? yeah…) off from blogging anything. I make no promises, because honestly I kinda feel obligated to blog more than yay! I feel like blogging! a lot of the time, but I also remember that when I do it with some semblance of regularity I become excited to post, so. Newton’s First Law of Motion. It’s for real, man. Anyway, I’m gonna ease us back in gently by talking about (what else?) food!

A couple weeks ago, we went to see a fantastic production of A Little Night Music at Writers’ Theatre. (It was stellar, but it’s over, so I can’t tell you to go see it. It’s already too late.) We decided to make it a date night and go out for dinner. I was looking for something inexpensive, because we’re trying to buy a house and we’re going to need money for fixing it up (I should totally write a post about that, shouldn’t I?) and also we have a food budget to stick to, but being that Writers’ is in Glencoe, we were limited by The Suburbs. Having ruled out chain restaurants and places that sounded very mediocre, we decided to go all out and took the theatre’s suggestion (and 10% discount) to Restaurant Michael. In summary – amazing food, top-notch service, way lower prices than comparable dining experiences we’ve had before.

Since we were pre-show diners, our reservation was for 5:30pm. When we arrived, we were pretty much the only people there. Now I know it’s not really “cool” to eat dinner so early, but I have to tell you – there is no cheaper way to get private dining. Give it a chance sometime. We were pleasantly surprised to find a prix fixe menu, and while we pondered the options, we were served the most delicious cheese puff ever. I think the rest of this post is best told in photos. Enjoy!