Happy Monday...

Chillin like a villain...Happy Monday! 

Christmas came early this year. 

One fine Monday morning as I was sending positive vibes for a positive week, I got off the subway and started heading to work.  While walking down 14th street I noticed a man sitting on our stoop in a Santa Claus costume.  Now, it was the dog days of summer and he's about 3 months early for the holiday season, so it was an interesting sight nonetheless. 

There was Santa with a five o'clock shadow, a Heineken, and half eaten taco from the taco truck sprawled out on the top of our landmarked brownstone stoop at 8:45 in the morning.  To be fair, this is a no judgement zone. It looked as if he had a fantastic night and thought that our stoop was a good place to take a little rest. Aside from his regular Santa hat on his head, he had a back-up sequined hat just to the left of him (clearly his club hat),  and was super comfortable treating the top step as his couch. As I surveyed the scene, I took a deep breath and realized I would have to use some critical thinking skills to get St. Nick off the stoop as we opened in one hour. 

Peep the club hat to the right ---> 

I entered through the delivery entrance in the basement (unseen by Santa),  got a cup of coffee and called for back up.  The two porters that open the building had my back and together we headed for the stoop.  

This particular morning was serendipitous. Recently I have conducted interviews and one of the questions that I ask applicants is: 'How do you deal with drunk people?'. Typically the answer is "find the intoxicated person's friend and see if you can get the friend to babysit and get boozy butt home safe" (maybe not in those particular words).  In this case this is not the option as there were no reindeer or elves on 14th street at 9am.  He proceeded to offer us some of his Heineken and after I politely declined I had a curt but honest convo with him:  "Sir, I love the costume and probably would love the story even more, however we have to ask you to move so we can clean the steps." He was fairly coherent and after very little  acknowledgement he took a sip of his beer and looked us dead in the eye without comment. Again, I asked politely and reminded him what day and time it was. The trick here with Santa and most intoxicated people is not to embarrass them.  The idea is to find something that is relatable and remind them of reality. I nicely explained that it was a Monday morning and that we needed to get the stoop he was sitting on ready for the day. 

I would like to say: "He quickly popped up because in some way, shape, or form I reminded him of something that got him to pack up and move on".   Instead it went like this: his stupor subsided briefly when one of the porters pulled out the hose, turned it on and started to water the street.  This quickly warned him that the stoop was next, and if he wanted his Santa suit to stay dry, he better keep it moving.  Sometimes my diplomatic Director of Operations skills work, sometimes a hose works better...

Only in New York folks, only in New York.

<3 Love, Camille 

PS This entry was purely for my entertainment...Especially 20 years from now when I need a good chuckle.

PPS As usual all photo credits go to yours truly :) 

 

Her Name is Delicious!

One of the best New York meals I have had in a long time was at Her Name is Han.

#TRUTH 

Love a good sign 

 Located on East 31st Street just off of Madison Avenue, this is Korean comfort food at its best.  I literally sat down and aside from being famished, wanted to order every single thing on the menu.  Don't be scared of Korean food...it's not as exotic as it reads and for those that have questions, the menu has a contemporary style with actual pictures of each dish.  The menu boasts dumplings, ribs, mung bean pancakes, and FRIED CHICKEN.  

The dining room.  Super cute decor with custom stage track lighting and old school ovens. 

Service was fantastic especially because we were one of the last tables of the evening.  They treated us with warm, cordial hospitality letting us know when we had ordered too much, caring more about our experience than padding our bill to make that last bit of money for the night. Our server was knowledgeable and helped us to narrow down our ambitious appetite.  The starters included;  spicy salmon and cucumber noodles (GF), the boiled pork and cabbage dumplings, gochujan spare ribs, and the mung bean and pork pancake.  It was a party in my mouth--for real. The spicy salmon had this beautiful balance of sweet, sour and heat with the cucumber noodle adding texture and a fantastic freshness.  The dumplings...I mean, I don't know about you, but I've never met a dumpling I didn't like and these definitely didn't disappoint. The pancake was good and although I was not entirely sure of what a mung bean was, the thin crispy pork pancake with a little kimchi and soy sauce gave salt and savory a new meaning. The ribs we my least favorite but I think its because Im not a fan of saucy BBQ (I know, slowly loosing my African American card).  Gochujan is a traditional Korean condiment that although not my jam, I can see how the tender meat falling off the bone bathed in this sauce would be delicious to some as the meat was cooked perfectly. 

Slap yo mama Korean Fried Chicken with pickled radish 

Slap yo mama Korean Fried Chicken with pickled radish 

 Next was the Fried Chicken (AA card redeemed!), and I have never had chicken like this. It was dipped in a batter that was flakey, delicate with juicy tender meat. This dish had just enough salt and the pickled radish helped to clean the palette, all while encouraging you to take another bite. The chicken was crispy at first bite and melted in your mouth as you chewed, creating the perfect balance of texture. I kid you not this chicken is one for the books.  

My dinner at Her Name is Han was memorable.  The best part is, I want to go back not to have exactly what I had my last visit, but to eat all the other items I didn't get to.  That's what makes a restaurant stand out. I have several favorite places where I got to get the pasta, or the steak frites, or the sticky toffee pudding or whatever standout dish they are known for.  But it is not often I am dying to go back because I want to try everything else.

Not sure who Han is, but can I please meet her and say Thank You? 

<3 Love, Camille... 

PS Sorry this sounds like a YELP review, but I had to tell you about Han and her chicken! 

N'awlins

There is something magical about this place.  New Orleans has always been on my list as one of those cities that was calling me.  From the food, to the culture to the history, Nola is a place of wonder.  

Ferns and Balconies on Royal Street

I will preface by saying that deciding to go in the middle of July is not for the faint of heart.  It's HOT.  I mean so hot that the rain steams off the street and you start to sweat the minute you step outside, but boy is this place cool. 

Beads Bourbon Street 

I mean, Everybody needs a quest. Gandalf is one of the many characters on Bourbon.

On Bourbon Street, it was only 5pm and happy hour started 6 hours ago.  People were walking and drinking, dancing and talking, with to-go cups in hand. This was intoxicating...literallyOur hotel ( Royal Sonesta New Orleans) was lovely boasting a jazz club, outdoor swimming pool, and two restaurants. It's best to opt for a room on the interior of the hotel overlooking the pool so you are protected from the noise, and debauchery of Bourbon Street late night. After dropping the bags in the room, we were eager to get down to the action for prime people watching and soak up all that Bourbon had to offer. The street is closed off to cars and it is a walking party with brass bands on the corners and live music pumping out of the bars. Coming from New York I quickly realized that this was Louisiana's Time Square.  Nothing was genuine, but everything was authentic. Each place offered the same thing, booze, live music and probably a hangover--actually definitely a hangover. After speaking with one of our cab drivers I learned that all the craziness on Bourbon kept the city afloat after Hurricane Katrina. There are "no locks and no clocks" on Bourbon, and that makes it a destination cash cow.  

Carousel Bar 

I learned early on that Bourbon Street is just the beginning of places to eat and drink in NOLA.  In the French Quarter there is the  Hotel Monteleone which boast the famous Carousel Bar.  I had my first ever Vieux Carre (what they are known for) a brandy based cocktail from the 1930's that packs a punch with rye whiskey, benedictine and bitters. This bar is a real life merry-go-round that gives the customers a slow rotating ride around the bartender.  Three times around that thing (moving at about 30 minutes for one full rotation) and two cocktails later, it was time for dinner. 

Peche was one of my most memorable meals in New Orleans and one of the best I have had in a long time.  The service was impeccable, and the casual decor encouraged me to indulge in the refined seafood based menu. Standout dishes include the baked Drum (a local meaty whitefish), and the crab and jalapeno capellini. 

Another great restaurant was Sylvain.  We stumbled upon this gastro pub while walking to another reservation and decided that the menu and romantic atmosphere suited us more than the empty restaurant we were headed to.  *Insider tip: NEVER eat somewhere that's empty.  Sylvain, located in an old carriage house has delicious American fare but what made the place memorable was the experience. The staff was knowledgeable and charming which made us feel welcome. 

Parts of the city also have a hipster vibe and with Tales of the Cocktail being a annual event the craft cocktail culture is alive and well. We visited Cane and Table which is a restaurant and craft cocktail bar known to have a focus on tiki drinks. The menu is extensive with a dairy free milk punch made with corn milk, and a rum punch served out of a whole pineapple. The bartenders look too cool for school, but are knowledgeable and care about a good cocktail.

Visited the Goorin Bros Hat Shop and got my Reformation Beyonce look 

Before I left I made of list of what I wanted to see, eat and drink and managed to tick all the boxes.  Po Boys at Parkway Bakery (the turtle gumbo is a must), beignets at Cafe du Monde (go late to avoid the crowd, and get entertained by the crazies), and a little east of the Quarter is Frenchman's Street that has great bars with live music and a market with local artists that is open until 2am. 

New Orleans is more than drinking on Bourbon Street.  There is wealth of great food and culture and an energy that is incomparable to other American cities. Go for the booze, stay for the food, and fall in love with the culture. 

<3 Love, Camille...