Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stupid Human Tricks

We were walking back to our hotel before heading out to the Bronx for the Yankees game when we came across a large crowd on the street next to the Ed Sullivan Theater. They were in the process of taping the David Letterman show, and were taping a Stupid Human Trick on the street outside the studio.

It might be slightly hard to see (I just used my camera to make the video), but it's a man on rollerblades with special rods sticking straight out of the skates. There are two long lines of wine bottles filled with various amounts of water, tuned to different tones.

As he skated past the rods hit the bottles and played a song. We weren't sure at the time, but Mom told us it was an excerpt from the Toreador Song from Carmen (listen to the original here). Now that we know what song it is, it's easier to hear it.

For the Late Night with David Letterman Fans out there, here's a picture of the Hello Deli- almost directly behind where we were standing to watch the Stupid Human Trick.

We ended up not having time to run back to the hotel since we waited to watch the guy go, but that wasn't too big of a deal. On to the Bronx!

Monday, July 23, 2007

NYC Trip 2007- Monday, July 16th: D&D, BB, ESB, & FAO

We started the next morning going to the famous Dean & DeLuca (from Felicity I believe, a branch can also be seen in the background from the TODAY show I've been told), which is a famous upscale grocery store, which has satellite coffee shops around the city. On the way Jamie wanted to feel like a native NY'er by buying a bagel from a vendor on the street.

Here Sam is ogling the pastries and desserts (click on the pic to see them better). This was not a staged or reenacted scene...

The original Dean & Deluca store. Their coffee was great, and they had chocolate croissants that were as good as my memory of them in France...

We then walked the Brooklyn Bridge which gave us great views of the city (and the bridge, of course). I think I'll do a separate post just of pictures from the Brooklyn Bridge.

After the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked through Chinatown...

...stopped at a shop of treats that allowed free tastes of everything (I did try the dried crab...it didn't taste too bad, but I was still picking exoskeleton out of my teeth two hours later, click on pic for better view)...

...and then into Little Italy...

...where we found our lunch destination: Lombardi's. The nation's oldest pizzeria (since 1905).

Lombardi's uses coal ovens to cook the pizzas (which pizza classicists maintain is a requirement), though it has become illegal to build new coal ovens in NYC (though existing coal ovens are grandfathered in). As a result, restauranteurs hoping to open a traditional pizza place have been known to scour through abandoned buildings hoping to find an existing coal oven.

Here's our yummy pizza...made with fresh mozzerella. It was really good!

We were also happy to have eaten at Lombardi's.

After lunch we ran across a Pinkberry, which I had heard about on the radio, I believe. It's a frozen yogurt (with a slightly fruity, tangy flavor) that you can get with toppings. I chose raspberries because they looked delicious (they were).

We then took the subway to the Empire State building to go up to the observation deck. We had to wait in a line to go though security (similar to an airport), then get in line for tickets, then get in line for an elevator to the 80th floor, then get in line for an elevator up to the observation deck (86th floor). I think I'll also do a separate post solely devoted to pics from the ESB as well.

We stopped in at F.A.O. Schwarz after the ESB so the Phillips could get their daughter a NYC treat. We enjoyed the lego statues. Here's Hagrid...

...and a dangerous Chewbacca...

...and of course there's the famous piano. We chose not to wait in line to jump on it. I'm sure most of the kids "playing" the piano have no clue why it's famous. If you're interested in your own huge piano, they're listed for the one-time only low price of $250,000.00.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NYC Trip 2007- Sunday, July 15th: Mesa Grill!!

After the ballgame we cleaned ourselves up and headed out to our super-fancy restaurant for the trip: Mesa Grill. Mesa Grill is a Bobby Flay restaurant, who, if you watch much of the Food Network on TV is a pretty well known chef. He has 3 restaurants in New York, plus restaurants in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas.

Both Sam and I agree that dinner at Mesa Grill might have been the highlight of the trip. The food was spectacular (yes...that was just bold and italicized). I'm not much of a food connoisseur, but it was sooo good. Sam got the Sixteen Spice Crusted Chicken (with roasted garlic mango sauce- see the first pic), Jamie the Spice Rubbed New York Strip Steak (with house-made MESA steak sauce), and Jamie and I both got the Ancho-Chile Honey Glazed Salmon (with a spicy black bean sauce, tomatilla salsa, and roasted jalapeno crema- see the second pic).

Instead of ordering an appetizer before the meal, we decided it to each order one of the side dishes and share it with everybody. So in addition we each tried the Blue Corn Tamale with Basil Butter, Anaheim Chile Relleno filled with White Cheddar Cheese and Black Beans and Rice, and Southwestern Fries. Jamie (male) ordered the Smoked Chile Collard Greens, which he enjoyed all to himself.

Bobby Flay is well known for his cocktails, so we tried the White Peach and Cactus Pear Margaritas, which were quite tasty (and strong- but a tasty strong). The picture is of the bar at the restaurant.

For dessert, we noticed the table next to us were delivered two large "dessert boats" (as we called them), with 3 different desserts on each. We decided that the dessert boats looked like a great option, since we'd each get to sample 6 different desserts.

The dessert boats after we were done with them.

It was the most expensive meal I've ever eaten, but it was also probably one of the best, if not the best. It was our anniversary in New York- we were supposed to splurge (right Meika?).
The outside of Mesa Grill. Jamie is commenting on its tasty-ness...
We walked to Saint's Alp Teahouse (known as the "Starbucks of Taiwan") for some bubble tea. It was pretty good! We all decided that we liked our Ann Arbor Bubble Island tea better, even if this is probably more "authentic."
Here we are with our drinks. Bubbles are yummy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

NYC Trip 2007- Sunday, July 15th: Rockefeller Center

The Jamies arrived in NYC while we were at the baseball game, so they went and checked out the Chelsea Piers and Columbia University. While we waited to meet up with them we walked over to the Rockefeller Center area, which was just a couple blocks away from our hotel.

The famous Radio City Music Hall. The Dalai Lama will be there in October if you're interested...

The TODAY show studio...we didn't ever actually see them taping, but we did catch part of it on TV the next morning.

The Prometheus statue from right above. This angle gives a nice view of his tuchus.

Detail on the building directly behind the Prometheus statue.

Looking across the area where the skating rink is during the winter. During the summer it's the home of the Rink Bar & Cafe. The TODAY show studios are visible in the background as well.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is right across from Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue. It is the largest neo-Gothic style cathedral in the United States, and was dedicated in 1879.

We then met up with the Jamies, brought our bags up to our room, and cleaned up for dinner!

Shea Stadium (Our 6th Stadium)

The driving force behind this trip was to visit the New York baseball stadiums, since both teams are building new stadiums scheduled to open for the 2009 season. Of course, that means we'll have to go back to NYC to visit those new stadiums in the not too distant future as well. ;-)

We started out with the NY Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds for a 1:10pm game Sunday afternoon. We took the 7-train from Times Square through much of Queens to the stadium. Right across from Shea Stadium is the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is played, and also visible from the subway stop is the large wire-frame "Unisphere" from Men In Black movie fame (see pic).

We got to the stadium pretty early (about 2 hours) so we could tour the stadium, get some food (we were hungry), and pick up a Shea Stadium shirt for Sam's collection, plus, the first 25,000 fans in the gates got free Mets hats for Military Appreciation Day. When we got up to the stadium, they weren't letting people inside yet, so I ran around to the front of the stadium to take a picture while Sam waited in line. The doors opened just before I got back to her. As we got up to the front of the line, we saw they weren't letting people take in the free chips & popcorn they were giving away outside the stadium, so I threw away our empty bag plus the full bags we hadn't eaten yet. Unfortunately (as I soon realized), I also had my ticket in the hand with the bags that I just put in the trash. As a result, I had to dig through the trash, trying to find my ticket. I was having problems finding it, but Sam tipped the (luckily) not very full trash bin on its side and crawled part of the way in to retrieve my ticket! I knew I made a good choice when I married her! She did, however, refuse to re-enact crawling in the trash can to illustrate this blog article.

See our fancy camoflauge Mets hats!

Once safely in the stadium, we stopped at Mama's of Corona for a famous hot turkey sandwich that received rave reviews from The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip. We personally thought the sandwich was good, but nothing exceptional. The hot dogs were tasty (Nathan's brand), and the beer was nice and cold (it was a pretty hot day).

Our seats were in section 29 of the Mezzanine level, box 671B. We were only 2 rows or so from the front of that level. We sat down 45 minutes or so before the game started, and unfortunately, our seats were in full sun. We decided about halfway through the 2nd inning to move up to the Upper Level to sit in the shade, since we were just sweating, burning, and uncomfortable in the sun.

While "our" Upper Level seats weren't quite as good, there was shade and a wonderful breeze that kept us nice and comfortable the rest of the game. We got to see a Mets home run (which causes the "Big Apple" to pop out of the top hat in center field (see pic), and in the end the Mets won the game 5-2. The only disappointment for me was the lack of Ken Griffey Jr. for the Reds. Evidently he had the day off.

We left the game a little early (half way through the 8th); partially to avoid the crowds on the subway ride back into Manhattan, and partially because we were antsy to see the rest of NYC.

The Home Run Big Apple. This was actually taken before the game started, when they just keep it out of the hat, but during the game it only rises out of the hat after a Mets home run.

A view into the new CitiField Stadium from the Upper Level in Shea, opening in 2009.

The skyline & logo at the top of the Shea Stadium scoreboard.
A portrait by Sam. My hat looks funny, but that's because I'm wearing the free Mets hat over my Tigers hat. I didn't have to set it on the beer-y ground that way.
A cute pic of Sam (as requested!) at Shea Stadium.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

NYC Trip 2007- Sunday, July 15th: Into the City

Sunday was our 1st anniversary! WOO! We made it! :-)

We celebrated our anniversary in the morning by having a fancy hotel breakfast. Well...actually we thought we were getting free continental breakfast, but it turns out it wasn't so free. I guess we should've known when a hotel worker asked us if they could get us something to drink. Oh well. We can splurge (even unknowingly) on our anniversary, right?

It took less than an hour to get into New York City from the hotel. We took the Lincoln Tunnel, which was smaller than I thought it would be- it's only two lanes in either direction. Our hotel (Novotel Times Square) was easy to find, and we checked our bags (we couldn't check-in until later), parked the car, and went for a stroll.
We grabbed a couple drinks at a Europa Cafe just around the way from the hotel. The Europa Cafe turned out to be kitty corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the David Letterman Show is taped.
We then walked a bit around Times Square, but we didn't do too much sightseeing since we wanted to get out to Shea Stadium fairly early. We hopped on the 42nd St./Times Square station and took the 7-train for 30-35 minutes or so out to Shea.

NYC Trip 2007- Saturday, July 14th

We were both very excited for our trip to New York. We left about 8:30 in the morning this past Saturday and drove near Pittsburgh to meet up with Liz, a friend of Sam from college, and her husband. We ate lunch at Max & Erma's off I-76 and Sam & Liz had some time to catch up and look over each other's wedding albums.

After the long lunch (it was nice to escape the car), we drove another 6 hours or so to our hotel in Somerset, NJ. We were both pretty hungry by this time, so we checked in, dropped off our bags, and headed out to find Stuff Yer Face (see pic) in New Brunswick. Stuff Yer Face was about 6 miles or so from the hotel and we found it easily, though parking was a little tricky. We ended up driving around a bit looking for parking spots. We at least got to take a mini-tour of the Rutgers campus.

Stuff Yer Face specializes in 'bolis (stromboli) and beer. It was a college town hang-out type of place: pretty low key, not too fancy, with lots of character. For drinks, Sam got a watermelon martini, which was "delightful," it tasted very similar to a watermelon Jolly Rancher. I ordered a Framboise Lambic beer and it was really tasty. It didn't really taste like beer (which explains why Sam liked it) since it is brewed with raspberries. As a result it has a very fruity flavor. Here is Sam enjoying the beer.

Their 'bolis were also yummy. We ordered the small size (though they weren't small- see pic). We both thoroughly enjoyed stuffing our face. Now all we need is an Ann Arbor branch of Stuff Yer Face...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

630.8 miles

We drove quite a bit yesterday. We stuffed our faces. We're in the hotel in Somerset, NJ right now grabbing our continental breakfast, then driving into the city!!!

Oh...by the way...it's our first anniversary today! Yay! Woo!

Friday, July 13, 2007

NYC Preview!

Here's a brief rundown of what we'll be doing the next several days:


  • Leave early in the morning for NYC
  • Stop in Pittsburgh for lunch with Liz (Sam's friend from college)
  • Stop for the night in Somerset, NJ
  • Eat at Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick, NJ

Sunday (our 1st Anniversary!!!):

  • Mets vs. Reds at Shea Stadium (1:10)
  • Dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill NYC


  • Touristy stuff- walk Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, TBD
  • Lunch at Lombardi's
  • Yankees vs. Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium


  • More sightseeing (specifics TBD)
  • Leave NYC (no set time)

We're very excited to go! We can't wait! WOO!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Header

I thought I'd try to fancy this place up a bit...I think it looks nicer. I'm still trying to work out the kinks though...I'm not very good with this whole personalization thing with the blog.

Whaddya think?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Addicted to Blogging?

I wouldn't say I'm addicted to blogging, but now that I have time for it I certainly enjoy doing my own and reading others. There's a short quiz you can take that determines exactly how addicted to blogging you are.

Here are my results:
58%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Online Dating

New Bike!

I've been wanting to get a new bike for a few years (probably ever since someone didn't properly lock up my bike in college), but didn't see it as necessary enough to put money into. So when I received a stipend for participating in some environmental education research last week, I **update** Sam and I thought putting it towards a new bike would be perfect.

I went for a long bike ride today (mainly because my calf is sore so I'm avoiding running), and I must say that I think I like the new bike.

Thursday, July 5, 2007