Heard It Through the Grapevine

I’m happy to report (hic!) that Fab has launched its first Winery Shop! Ever mindful of my violent nature if separated from “happy juice,” my editors suggested I write up the sale AND a wine tasting for the Fab blog. Then they backed away slowly and left me alone to do whatever it is I do (hic!).

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Band of Cheeseballs

cheese

You guys! Last night was epic, and not because I went out and got crazy. It actually started out pretty classy with a selection of fine cheeses and nibblies like quicos (fried corn kernels covered in dark chocolate and cocoa… my new favorite thing!) and Sangiovese salame. And yes, enough wine to make it a non-classy night, cuz what else would I do with some of my closest friends in the whole wide world?

What is it about people who get you? Like, really really get you? They allow you to relax and be yourself. Your weird ass wonderful self! I hope you know that feeling. If you don’t… I’ll have you over for cheese and wine someday to help you find it. You may end up wandering the streets with no pants and only one shoe, but hey! That’s life, baby.

Some things that still have me laughing today (through the hangover haze and cleaning jag):

When I brought out the heart-shaped napkins we’d gotten on a girl trip to Iceland (best bachelorette party ever!) and we all unfolded them and put them on our heads as pretty flower petal hats. And then bullied the one who didn’t until she gave in. And then pointed at her and laughed that she gave in. (Oh. Maybe we’re mean girls. Oops.)

Calling the wedge of Tomme Krayuse (a delightful raw cow’s milk cheese with soft, chewy texture and lovely full, yet mild flavor), Tom Cruise all night. And laughing that it was short.

Remembering the set of tiny forks and spoons that Mama Channypants gave me, and getting to eat while pretending we were giants.

Getting slapped away when I try to put my awesome massage vest on people.

The impromptu intervention about my Fab shopping habit when I show off my collection of gourmet salts (rosemary, lavender, and truffle, you guys!!). The abrupt ending to the intervention when I serve up a trio of popcorn made with the different flavored salts.

The ill-advised showing of my Tinder dating app, which leads to their drunken gleeful rejection of many, many guys who probably deserved better. Many. Umm. Seriously, ladies, do I get to date any of them??

I have to admit: it was scary when all three of the other girls (women? gals?) got married. In. The. Same. Year. (Maid of honor for all. Only in charge of bachelorette parties and first dance choreography. They know me so well.) Through most of our 20s, I was the one in a long-term relationship. That was MY thing. Yet, there I was: single, drinking champagne like a champ, and wondering if I’d be left out of “married people only” things.

Yeah, turns out there aren’t any married people only things. Just really amazing friends who didn’t change personalities (or drinking habits) just because they had super fun amazing weddings. (Oh, you didn’t get the invite? …this is awkward.) They’re still the ones who can turn a busy, stressful week into something wonderful, just by being there. I’m not religious, but I can recognize when I’m blessed beyond belief to have friends like these. And hey, maybe someday they’ll help me find that man who’ll wait patiently for me to come home at 3am after a night out with them!

A Day of Overindulgence

Oh dear. When I said I’d go out less, I guess I meant less days but somehow the same amount of actual out-ness. I managed to pack 15 hours of partying into Saturday this weekend. I swear I didn’t mean to.

It began with brunch and unlimited mimosas at 121 Fulton. Look at this gorgeous plate! I ordered the brunch sampler, which included a mini steak & egg (with the most adorable fried quail egg on top), bacon & hash, and baked eggs with tomatoes, spinach & bacon. Obviously, I had to toast my genius designer friend repeatedly over our delicious meal. Down the hatch, mon petit mimosa. Oh and there was a second reason for us to gulp down cocktails. We needed help to ignore the strange couple sitting next to us and making out noisily. At one point, I said loudly, “We are trying. To. Eat.” However, this statement seemed to turn them on because the kissing became even slurpier. Eeeeeeeww.

I took a break from the retoxing to meet another friend visiting from Londontown. We strolled along the Highline in the oddly springlike weather, sipped cappuccinos at a place so French that the service took forever (that’s how you know it’s authentic), and then played dress-up in the Anthropologie shop in Chelsea Market. Feeling virtuous (and super girly), we headed over to Basta Pasta for dinner.

It’s going to take me a while to wrap my brain around the amazing meal we had. When I do, I fully intend to do a complete write-up. For now, just feast your eyes on how gorgeous the plates are. Basta Pasta is an Italian restaurant with a strong Japanese influence. The food is comforting in that deep soul-satisfying way that pasta is, while the service and decor are so calm and clean that it felt like the world had come to a stop. In a good way. Dinner was a pocket of quiet enjoyment with some very good friends.

Well. Until we’d had a couple bottles of wine, that is. Then I think the staff gave up hope of maintaining a calm ambience in our presence. At the very end, they figured out how to quiet us down. This is a delightful slice of ricotta cheesecake getting sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. We watched in awe as the waitress covered the plate in what looked like fluffy snow. It may sound odd, but it was an utterly delicious combination. The saltiness of the cheese offset the light crumbly sweetness of the cake perfectly.

Glowing from that amazing meal (and eagerly making plans for our next visit back), we traipsed across Union Square and ended up at Pierre Loti for a nightcap. Or five. One by one, the ladies made their escape. Laura, draped in shiny Marc Jacobs accessories galore, was off to a party in the exclusive Soho House. We fawned over her until she told us firmly that she could not bring us with her (pout). Then Rits said something about not wanting to be hungover while skiing the next day. Wimp!

It was up to me, Little Miss Hussy, and the Brit to keep the night going. Luckily, our friendly waiter was headed off duty and brought us along on his afterhours party crawl. At this point, the Brit threw in the towel. (To be fair, I think it was 5am in London-time at that point, so she was a trooper.) Not sure why this always happens when I go out with the Hussy, but we found ourselves dancing in the secret back room of a bar for a private party where bartenders were winning trips to Disney World (??). I know how surreal that last sentence sounds, but for once I am not hyperbolating (real word) for humor’s sake. We really were in a secret bartender party. I hope they don’t kill me for telling.

I’m realizing that it’s not realistic for me to stop going out. I mean, it’s just too damn fun and there’s always something amazing to be discovered in this great city. However, this week is most certainly devoted to eating veggies and cooking some homemade soup to recover. Cheers!

The Out and About Chronicles

I was good and didn’t go out tonight. Hooray for publicizing my intentions so that I’ll publicly shame myself if I fail. Now that I have the time, I can share what I’ve been up to. Yes, that’s right. I made the decision to not go out as much so that I could get home and blog about the times that I was out. It’s all so meta and ironic that my head has already exploded. Twice. (That’s actually how Asians stay so young looking. We regenerate our heads like lizards do with their tails. Pearl Cream is just a hoax we sell to white people.)

Less than two weeks into my new dream job at Fabby Fab Fab, we had a company post-holiday party. Mainly, it was for the team that had been there the previous 7 months, when they experienced something like 700% growth since launching in June 2011. The co-founders wanted to give them a celebration during a time when they wouldn’t be under the gun the next day. In fact, they wanted to make sure everyone would be able to relax and enjoy the party so much that they made the next morning a mandatory Come In Late day.

That kind of thoughtfulness is exactly why I love Fab. I guess you wouldn’t really start something that’s based around making people smile unless you have that mindset. I can’t say enough how fortunate I feel to have joined such an amazing team. And to get to know everyone on such a fun night! We scarfed down delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres at Market Table, detoured for cocktails at 10 Downing, then sang karaoke at some place called Boho or Bobo (?). I’ll admit it was hard to keep track of names, either places or people, after a few of the delish lavender fizzes you see in the picture above. It was the perfect way to be welcomed onto such an awesome team!

Last Friday was also intensely fun. I knew I’d be up to no good when the Princeton Madam commanded me to attend Muy Thai boxing with her. I can never resist a night she plans and boy, did she deliver! To set the tone for a primal evening, we had dinner at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant. They set down a gigantic platter filled with food, tossed fluffy folds of bread in front of each of us, and provided no silverware. We just dug right in with our bare hands. It was my first time, and I loved it!

After we were uncomfortably full, I waddled after the group. Now, when I heard we were watching boxing, I imagined some dark basement filled with shadowy figures placing bets on vicious killers who would fight to the death. Instead, we ended up in an enormous rec center on the ground floor of a Catholic cathedral in midtown Manhattan. I bought beer from a lady who looked and sounded like a soccer mom. It would’ve been disappointing, but the multiple rounds of intense kickboxers, free-flowing beer (thank you, soccer mom) (and… Jesus, I guess?), and fun dance music during breaks really kept things lively. Who knew? I might do it again soon.

Oops, I mean, I won’t do it again soon. Because I’m supposed to be going out less. Sigh. Now you know why it’s hard to say no.

Back to Basics, Shirley Style

It’s weird. I don’t think of myself as all that high maintenance, but when I break it down, I have some pretty high class tastes. Guess that’s why I’m a diehard New Yorker.

That said, I can be happy with very simple things too. Today was a perfect mixture of the two.

I spent the sunny, unseasonably warm day traipsing around Madison Square Park. Squirrels kept running really close to me, like they were challenging me to a race. Or maybe they were chipmunks. What’s the difference again?

After nature scared me back indoors, I spent hours writing at Birch Coffee inside the Gershwin Hotel. I’ve loved the place for years, and keep rediscovering it under different circumstances. About 5 or 6 years ago, I was walking by the hotel and heard strains of jazz and light laughter pouring out its doors. As I peeped in a window, a doorman came out. I thought he was going to scold me for smudging up the window, but he just wanted to encourage me to go inside to enjoy the show up close. “What, free?” said the country-bumpkin Shirley. It was, indeed. I stepped into the warmly lit lobby, settled into a spaceship shaped mod red couch, and soaked up the live jazz trio. I’d somehow wandered into a Fitzgerald novel with an updated design scheme.

Years later, when I was working in Union Square, my friend told me he was leading a meditation class in the newly opened Birch Coffee. “What, free?” I asked in my usual tactful manner. He nodded yes in a non-judgmental namaste kinda way. As I bought my gigantic cup of caffeine for meditation (yup), memories of that hazy jazz night came back to me. I had tried to find my way back but could never find the mysterious hotel again, so it was an electric thrill when I realized I was finally back.

Since then, I’ve sought out both the hotel and cafe when I’ve needed safe haven for reading, writing, and caffeine replenishment.

After a solid writing day there, a wonderfully talented friend whisked me away for wine and tapas at Pipa. We shared a bottle of yummy dry white (it’s called Whatever the Waiter Said, I highly recommend it), albondigas, pulpo gallego, and bolas de queso. Poor waiter. I insisted on ordering in my horrible Spanish accent, but the food itself was amazing and so was the company.

Here’s to a day of creature comforts, both humble and high!

Chansvestite

I began my weekend visit to the Parents Chan by riding a series of commuter trains up to Connecticut with the Princeton Madam (not her real nickname… yet!), 2 bottles of red and a cheap corkscrew. Sadly for the commuters, the quiet reading car was the only one with room for us. Amidst the sombre library quiet of paperback pages turning, our styrofoam cups did a poor job of concealing what we were doing. After a while, we didn’t hear any pages turning. I’d like to think that meant we were saying (yelling?) some pretty interesting stuff. Or at least cursing in a fun enough way. Pros that we were, the Princeton Madam and I finished our first bottle of wine just before we had to switch trains. We congratulated ourselves as we deposited the bag with empty bottle into a recyclables bin on the platform. Remember those shape-sorting toys for babies? That bin had a glass bottles hole that was perfectly shaped for a wine bottle. I guess if any commuter train catered to winos, it would be the Connecticut commuter train! It wasn’t until we were comfortably ensconced in our seats on the new train that we realized we had thrown the cheap corkscrew away. It had been in the bag with the first bottle. Luckily, we were part of the MacGyver generation and not to be deterred by the mere lack of real tools. Using an ingenious combo of a ballpoint pen, a tube of lip balm and a plastic bag (don’t ask), we were able to open our second bottle for the rest of our ride up to family-land before we parted ways.

At first, my parents seemed like they would be a much better influence on me. I helped the mama water and sun her potted bamboo plants, picked fresh veggies from my aunt and uncle’s amazing terraced, hanging garden and relaxed by the pool. But I quickly found out where my partying genes came from. Out at dinner the first night, my parents pulled out a flask of Remy Martin X.O. and poured it into teacups while whistling innocently. I don’t think it fooled the waiters since the air above our table was wavy from alcohol fumes, but they knew better than to question the mama and the papa! They were a teensy bit better behaved the next night since we dined at home. They did, however, bust out a fancy pants bottle of wine (so fancy the bottle came in its own sleek silver canister) which they had saved for this weekend. One glass in, we got inspired to dress up in tradish garb for dinner because a family friend had just given me a cheongsam for my birthday. My mom almost stabbed me in the head while excitedly sticking chopsticks into my hair to “decorate” me. Whoa mama! (Come on, I had to say that.)

Partying wasn’t the only thing I inherited from these crazy cats though. At the end of the day, they are both astoundingly good cooks. For the joint birthday dinner (my daddy’s and mine), mommy-pants went all out. She sauteed green beans and pale eggplants freshly plucked from the hanging garden, made simple-but-scrumptious salted fry ups of shrimp and steak and tested a new chicken with seaweed dish. Feast your eyes on the pics below. My goodness, life is beautiful!