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Amuse my Bouche

And here we are, at the most difficult part of keeping up with NaBloPoMo: remembering to blog on the weekend. It’s 12:51am on Sunday 8 November, and I haven’t written for the 7th yet, but since I’m still awake, and it’s still Saturday in California, I’m going to count it as not missed. Okay? Okay.

***

We went to the most amazing meal tonight. Adam and Cecily gave us a gift card to the Union Square Hospitality Group of restaurants, and I left it up to Marley to surprise me with where and how we would use it. He chose tonight, a random date where we weren’t celebrating anything except ourselves, and we went to the Modern for a 9pm reservation.

The service was wonderful, the food was wonderful, too. They sent out an amuse bouche compliments of the chef, of pumpkin and sweet potato soup. The presentation was lovely; they served it with the spices, sauce and sweet potatoes in the bowl already, and then poured the plain soup over them after it was set in front of us. Then the waiter then opened this tiny copper pot and gently spooned a tablespoon of hazelnut foam on top. It felt special, almost like a ritual, and I was so inspired with this reminder to present things well to my clients, and make them feel special and appreciated. I know this is dorky, but it was actually really moving.

The best part of the night was when they offered a special that had “dehydrated grapes” to which I responded “So, raisins?” and then Marley and I started giggling inappropriately, and then we couldn’t stop because we were overtired and there were gin cocktails while we were waiting to be seated.

The rest of the food was amazing; Marley sprang for the addition of truffles shaved on his gnocchi, I tried a new fish called turbot that I loved, we spit two desserts, and then they rolled over a cart loaded down with truffles, and were were invited to pick whatever we wanted, and we did the whole thing overlooking the garden of the MoMA. I felt fancy.

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NYC with Amber

Dinner at Dirt Candy

This post is part of my NYC with Amber guide

photo borrowed from the NYTimes, who lightly mocked the cube of “mushroom paté”, shown above, but which I adored, pretentious shape and all.

Dirt Candy | 430 East 9th Street | Manhattan

We went to Dirt Candy to celebrate Marley’s birthday this week. This place is both wildly popular and the size of a suburban living room, and my attempts to make a reservation in March only got me a table for two, the day after his actual birthday, at 9:45pm. I recommend the Open Table app for your phone.

The restaurant is exclusively vegetarian, and everything is delicious. Worth noting: after I established on our second date that Marley, also exclusively vegetarian, 1. had no problem sitting at the table while I tucked into a juicy burger and 2. had no plans to go full on vegan, we were fine. When I introduced him to my grandmother, it was like this.

Anyway, we’ve developed a system of ordering tapas style in most restaurants so we can try everything, and this night we had:

Jalapeno Hush Puppies
served with maple butter

Potato Salad
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

Mushroom
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

Beets
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

and for dessert:

Popcorn Pudding
salted caramel corn

Everything was amazing (although I could have taken or let the beets, and maybe gone for a third appetizer instead). If you’re taking vegetarians out to a fun restaurant, this is the place to go.

 

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good things NYC with Amber

Doughnuts 2014

brooklyn doughnuts

photo from Dough

I grew up a doughnut fan. My grandfather favored the Doughnut Inn, a southern Connecticut chain of three stores with phenomenal coffee and a yellow and brown logo, unchanged since 1977, that makes my heart quiver with nostalgia. It was coffee for him and a doughnut for me – glazed. My parents always favored Dunkin’ Donuts, the national brand that was New England-only when I was a kid, and we would sometimes get doughnuts there after church. And, of course, there were apple cider doughnuts every time we got pumpkins in the fall.

They are having a revival of sorts, and I’m pretty excited about this. One of my New Years resolutions was to eat more high quality doughnuts, so Lara sent me this fun slide show of amazing doughnuts from around the United States, and there are three places here in New York that I’m going to try (Voodoo Doughnut in Portland has been on my Life List forever). My friends are awesomely supportive.

I’m going on a doughnut tour all year. (I also found this list of the 10 best doughnuts in New York City that I’m going to pull from.) If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll post where I’m going and when (it will likely be a Saturday or a Sunday morning), should you want to join me for some deep-fried, sugar-glazed awesomeness.

This is going to be fun.

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career life list NYC with Amber

Life List: Row Boats in Central Park – Check!

First, fun news: I have an intern! She’s Alex, and has an enthusiasm for photography – and life in general – that rocks my world. I need to get a better photo of her face, but for now, enjoy her cool-girl photo stance and rockin’ blond hair patch.

On Friday, 3 May, I finally did what I’ve been hoping to do for about 18 months: I convinced an eloping couple that getting into the row boats of Central Park in their wedding clothes was an excellent idea. Since I had Alex to boss around help, she rowed, and I was able photograph them around the 22 acre pond from the stern of my very own row boat. Then I tried rowing, and she snapped some shots of me. It was so cool, like a scene out of Stuart Little.

Life list, go mighty

It’s a career highlight, a Life List item I got to check off, and I’m pretty sure that I won a bet with Katie Jane over who can get newlyweds in a row boat first.

If you do this, I recommend going on a week day and slathering on a good sunscreen.

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NYC with Amber

Off the Wall Yogurt

Patrice and I were invited to the grand opening of Off the Wall, a frozen yogurt place, that has a new store on 14th Street at 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Here we are posing like big shots against the step-and-repeat. The Kardashians can eat their hearts out.

hip brooklyn bloggers for press events

fun nyc bloggers

photos by Chase Heilman

Off the Wall works by giving you a cup and letting you fill it up with as many of the various flavors they have yourself, and then you pick your toppings and pay by weight. That’s awesome for me, because a lot of times I just want a TINY bit of dessert, and even the kids size is too big for me.

Not this evening, though. Patrice stopped at a polite amount of sampling, and then stood back giggling at me while I – no kidding – tried every single flavor they sold. As press, they let us have all-you-can-eat access to the frozen yogurt machines before the general public got there, and it was my DUTY to research this thoroughly.

It might have been the best day of my life.

nyc bloggers to invite to press events

Here are my favorite yogurt + topping combos:

blueberry muffin yogurt + Cap’N Crunch cereal topping

salted butter pecan / peanut butter blast swirl

non-fat milk chocolate (which was exceptional!) with cheesecake bites

coffee bean with cheesecake bites

A scoop of cheesecake bites (when no one was looking)

Euro tang yogurt with crushed ButterFinger.

vanilla, eaten not so much as a yogurt but as a vehicle for rainbow sprinkles

Two bonus items I just love:

The “Cultured Artist Series” hosted by Off the Wall supports the local art community and will feature a new masterpiece every other month curated by local artists and students. This was up the night we visited.

bloggers in nyc brooklyn press events

photo by Chase Heilman

Nelson, the employee that helped us, was super fun and adorable.

bloggers at press events nyc

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NYC with Amber

The Earth Room

This post is part of my NYC with Amber guide

nyc lifestyle blogger

The Earth Room | 141 Wooster Street | Manhattan

“I want to take you somewhere, but I’m not telling you what it is,” a gentleman said to me recently.

“I hate surprises.”

“You’ll like this one. Trust me, it’s more fun if you don’t know what it is first.”

He was right.

It’s a room – a big room – filled with dirt, and it made me really happy.

Admission is free. It’s open Wednesday – Sunday, 12-6 (except for the half hour of 3 – 3:30) in the winter months.

I keep trying to describe it, but you should just go see it. Either you are happy that it exists, or you won’t get it.

No photos were allowed, and I obeyed the rules, so I’ve stolen this photo from here.

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blah blah blah NYC with Amber places

Spinning at SoulCycle in NYC

SoulCycle NoHo | 384 Lafayette Street | Manhattan

A few weeks ago I tried spinning for the first time at SoulCycle in NoHo NYC. All of my girlfriends simultaneously got really into it, and I knew it was a only a matter of time before one of them roped me into going, too. It ended up being Esther who went to my first class with me; she was all, “You’ll feel awesome! It’ll be fun!”

If this were an 80’s movie, the word “fun” would be echoing in a haunting manner right about now. “Fun…fun…fun…”

It was hard, you guys. Gym equipment of any kind is intimidating for yoga-loving me, so being clipped into a bike by my feet felt hardcore. My goal for the class was the same as every new athletic endeavor for me: just try. Stay in the room. Do your best. Then push a bit to see how far you can go.

I stayed, I pushed, and, at one moment I pushed too hard, lost my balance, and fell off my bike. I was able to right myself before I crashed totally over, and took it easy for the rest of the class. I came out glowing and happy at having tried something new, though. Also, slightly bruised, but hey. I did it! Here I am all sweaty, immediately after class.

brooklyn blogger spinning soulcycle theAmberShow amber marlow

A note: I like my body. I always have, even at 200 pounds (p.s. I’ve lost 45 pounds since I started trying!), but it was a tiny bit difficult to be a little chubby and in a room full of crazy awesome bods. I don’t know if spinning works that well or if it generally appeals to people who are already fit, but there were a whole lot of toned folks up in there! I won’t name-drop, but there was even that girl from that TV show spinning a few bikes over. I’m used to my Bikram yoga class, where everyone comes in all shapes and sizes. No one gave me a side eye or anything though, because people are generally lovely, and I would like to say thank you to the entire staff of SoulCycle NoHo for making this new spinner feel welcome. Everyone I interacted with was fantastic.

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to try again. The pros were REALLY fun music, a fantastic workout in not a lot of time, a good sweat, and that it was really fun to take with a friend “whoo-hoo!ing” and sweating next to me. It got me good and tired, too, which I liked – so tired, in fact, that I slept through my subway stop, making it the first time that’s happened to me since moving to NYC!

The cons were the equipment – the bike and the shoes that clip into the petals were both awkward for me – and how challenging it was to stay standing the entire time (you don’t spin sitting down, which I didn’t realize until I saw everyone else standing up.) It’s also a little expensive.

Have you tried it? Would you go again? Should I give it one more shot?

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life list NYC with Amber

Life List: Fly Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease… on a Trapeze – Check!

New York Trapeze School | Pier 16 (South Street Seaport), New York, NY 10036 | Manhattan

Well… maybe not with the “greatest of ease”.

I started off pretty positive…

… however, if you read the last post where I jumped off of something high into the air, it will not surprise you that I got to the top of the ladder at trapeze class and shook my head.

“I am not going to jump off of this.” I said to the instructor, looking down. “I’m terribly sorry, but it’s back down the ladder for me.”

She blinked at me a few times from under her hoodie; later I found out she was briefly accessing if I was one of the scared people that needed the kind-and-gentle approach or a tough-love kick in the rear. She went warm and reasonable with me, which ended up working.

“What are you afraid of? It’s safe!”

“It’s high.”

“It’s supposed to be high.” she said, somehow managing to avoid a “Duh!” tone of voice. “That’s the point. Don’t worry, you’re totally safe. We have celebrities and little kids that come here. No one gets hurt.”

The ladder already had someone else on it waiting, and I was all strapped in, and really, the only way off the platform was through the air. So I smushed the tears off my face with my sleeve’s edge and jumped, while doing an epic ugly-cry that turned into a belly laugh, because, after two seconds, it got really fun to be swinging around up there.

You can’t tell from these photos if this is the most awesome thing that ever happened to me or the worst, right? Neither can I. I think, though that jumping off of things that are high is not my jam. But in retrospect, it was cool, I felt victorious, and, after the four staff members on the ground all shouted up at me to open my eyes, I was able to get an amazing view of Brooklyn, the FDR, and the river between them.

Thank you to the crew at the Trapeze School of New York at Pier 16, especially Dana who picked all the right words to get me to leap, and to my sweet friend Lara Ruth for setting this up and snapping shots with my camera. Now go do this!

first photo by James Stress

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