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I know this is rather a cop-out, but since I like to think so many of you are worried about me in my blogging absence I didn’t want to be a total failure!
Week in recap
- SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman – very sweet novel of a young girl growing up surrounded by strong women. Reminiscent of THE HELP, though not as epic. Worth picking up – Beth Hoffman is an author to watch!
- IMPERFECT BIRDS by Anne Lamott – My first experience with Anne Lamott, but I now understand why she has such a huge, devoted fan base. A tough story to read about family struggles, mainly with a mom and her daughter doing drugs. Will be sending to my own mom so she can better appreciate just how well-behaved I really was in high school! Will be available April 6, from Riverhead
- THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak – I’ve read several WWII novels lately, and this title (told from the perspective of Death), may be my favorite. I also highly suggest another recent read, CITY OF THIEVES (which my friend Max guest-blogged about last month).
- Also worth noting, this coming Tuesday, 2/9, marks the release of the highly anticipated THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake – a novel based on three women with intersecting lives in the time of WWII. This deserves a far better written review, but since I am incapable of doing such high-level things at the moment, I invite you to wander on over to Serendipitous Reading and KellyVision for their takes (if you’ve also written a review, I’d love for you to leave your link!)
Imbibed (to be filed, eventually, in my “city-imbibing” page):
- My roommate Liz and I have a couch-sleeper for a bit, and we went out to celebrate her return to NYC with our favorite sushi restaurant, Typhoon, which happens to conveniently be located two store fronts from our apartment. During the week all sushi is 50% off and it is delicious. I can’t recommend highly enough the green tea fried ice cream to top off the meal!
- Drank: a delicious Red Rhone Wine, courtesy of my classy and cultured OUB & OAD. I’ve been informed the grapes are from Italy – the wine was so tasty I would really like to go pick some of my own grapes from the countryside.
- Nothing like some Spanish dancing to kick off Friday early (and by early, I mean late on Thursday night). I have no rhythm, but after several mojitos at the Meat Packing’s Son Cubana, even I could merengue! The food was fabulous (the goat cheese croquettes were to die for) and the live band made it feel quite exotic.
Also, in my total nerdy, authors-as-celebrities mind, I got to meet Chang-rae Lee!!!!!!!!!! If you’ve never experienced his writing, I highly suggest you pre-order his upcoming novel THE SURRENDERED and prepare yourself to become totally immersed.
For being the biggest city in the U. S., NYC is quite a lonely place.
I tell my friends back in Chicago that it’s really fun because you can truly wear whatever you want without people caring or noticing (if you’d like me to illustrate with pictures of other East Village locals wearing neon colors, animal prints, or an occasional live cat on the head let me know) – but you’re often invisible as well.
Maybe it’s because I’ve led a spoiled life – always had close family and friends, but NYC is a test. Not just because it’s ridiculously expensive w/less than optimal living space (I don’t allow pictures to be taken of my apartment; I insist upon visiting for the experience over a still image) but because you’re by yourself. A lot. And the crazy thing is, I think I’m starting to like it.
With the exception of my mom reprimanding me for drinking wine alone tonight (before you judge, I was trying to write and I now understand why real writers are notoriously heavy drinkers), I’ve learned I may not be quite as social or as talkative as I would have previously believed. I actually enjoy eating dinner out by myself (usually with a good book) and the solitude when my roommate leaves and is no longer constantly trying to speak to me.
I recently read Jen Lancaster’s memoir, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS. It resonated with me not only because she hails from my beloved Chicago and the bus lines she spoke of were so familiar, but when she talks about the fast and easy friendships of the past giving way to new living, and relationship, situations:
“Suddenly I found myself living around people very different from me. We were diverse not due to ethnicity, race, or age, but because we didn’t come from a shared past; our jobs, hometowns, educations, and experiences were all vastly different and we had no instant commonalities…” (pg. 178)
This I can commiserate with. Yes, I’ve made acquaintances here in this huge, vast city that sparkles in the night and grimy by day… Even some people I call friends. But it’s hard work when you don’t have the baseline from which to start.
Luckily, I have books to escape the real world and I find myself disappearing into them quite often. For the second “luckily”, this trait is advantageous to being in a job I love. So while I desperately miss my friends in Chicago (there’s nothing comparable to living with your two best friends in a downtown highrise boasting a pool on your rooftop with a view of Lake Michigan) I like to believe I made the best decision in transferring my life to the East Coast. While I admit I’m not exactly living an Into the Wild survival expedition, I think I have given up some basic luxuries.
This may be a pointless post, but thanks for indulging in my slightly-wine induced thoughts and joining me all the way out here in NYC. In fact, I think I officially belong in that annoying group of people that think “everyone should live, and thrive, in NYC at least once in their life.”
Update: Oprah (along with some kind words and admittances of solo and proud drinking from OUB & OAD) has made me realize that moving to NYC is a worthwhile adventure for a job I love. Recently, Oprah shared a list of “The Top 20 Things I Know for Sure” and I’m happy that I am totally in line with several, including #13: Let passion drive your profession.
It’s Friday, why don’t we all put down our latest novel, link arms and take a little jaunt in this gorgeous Chicago weather and our favorite little BYOB spot and celebrate the weekend and the win by the Cubs.
Oh, wait, you’re sick of your go-to BYOB restaurant and want something new, that’s also affordable? I mean who can afford to pay for drinks in this economy! Oh I’m hearing an interest in outdoor seating? Can do!
Take a gander at the amazing new website http://www.GoByo.com! Able to sort by such important characteristics as location, meals served and features (40 available! Such as outdoor seating, dancing, or if you’re drinking so many calories you need to compensate with light food, they even have a healthy meal option!). Much more reliable than Yelp!, this nifty little site was publicized in Thrillist’s Daily Chicago email (sign up here: http://www.thrillist.com/signup) and will definitely be a site I frequent.
Happy Friday & GO CUBS GO!
I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur, though as my OUB & OAD (aunt & uncle, the legitimate connoisseurs) would tell you, I just like all booze! Though my palette may not be picky, my wallet definitely is (which bodes well for cheap wines sold in bulk). So even though I can’t afford nice “vintage” wine (not to mention wouldn’t be aware of the difference), I like to know a little bit about what I’m drinking and what I should be cursing the next morning. That’s where Alpana comes in…
The youngest Master Sommelier (quite the title, and she didn’t even go to a real college per se but a wine school!), Alpana Singh resides in Chicago, has worked at luxurious restaurant Everest and has written the successful book Alpana Pours: About being a woman, loving wine & having great relationships. Quite the title and I admit I was skeptical, until Alpana pulled me in with her wit, knowledge, and wine jokes even I could appreciate.
Though I’m not quite finished with the book (I thought I had lost it for awhile and found it on the shelf, right where it belongs… Who would’a thought?!), I did come across an Alpana article in the Tribune’s “RedEye” today I thought I would share, that’s so relevant on this (finally!) sunny day.
To RedEye and Alpana, hope you don’t mind me copying this article, and my deepest thanks go to you for choosing affordable wines to celebrate the season, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! For more Alpana, visit her blog at http://www.whatwouldalpanadrink.blogspot.com.
Wine faves change with the weather
By: Alpana Singh, April 15, 2009
People often ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” While I do have certain preferences, I find that my answer varies according to my mood, which often is dictated by the weather.
During the cool winter months, I tend to comfort myself with rich, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec. Their velvety textures envelop me like a warm blanket, and they pair well with cool-weather classics such as pot roast and braised short ribs.
Now that we are beginning to see signs of spring and the weather is beginning to warm up, I’m starting to crave lighter dishes and more refreshing wines to go with them. Lighter-bodied wines that are low on oak and big on flavors of green apples, lemons and stone fruits complement the fresh peas, asparagus, morel mushrooms and leeks I enjoy during spring season. As I grow tired of the cold, I become bored with the big, heavy reds, and my favorites become sauvignon blanc, torrontes, chenin blanc and assyrtiko. The aromas of these lighter varietals lighten my mood as they evoke the essence of spring and warmer days–crisp weather, freshly cut flowers, sprouting lawns and farmer’s market produce. I’ll enjoy these wines until the weather truly begins to warm up, and by then I’ll have a new set of favorites.
While we may not have the ability to control the weather, we can certainly turn to these styles of wine to put a little sunshine in our glass.
2007 Alamos torrontes
Torrontes is an Argentine specialty. With its exotically perfumed notes of white flowers and peaches, it’s a wonderful match for asparagus or your first outdoor meal of the season.
2008 Graham Beck chenin blanc
South Africa, $15
The French use chenin blanc to make slightly sweet vouvray wine. South Africans, who refer to chenin as steen, prefer a drier version with flavors of yellow apples and honeysuckle. Pair with morel mushrooms and asparagus or a tangy wedge of goat cheese.
2008 Brander sauvignon blanc
Santa Ynez, Calif.; $15
Vibrant and juicy with flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and freshly cut grass, this selection is more in line with a New Zealand style than a California one. Pair it with a spring pea risotto for the ultimate ode to spring.
2008 Sigalas assyrtiko
Santorini, Greece; $18
Fans of crisp Italian whites will enjoy the refreshing zing of assyrtiko, an ancient Greek varietal indigenous to the island of Santorini. Winemaker Paris Sigalas produces a style bursting with citrus fruit. Pair with shellfish, grilled fish and Greek-inspired dishes.
Full article here: http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-041509-alpana,0,5798755.column