Thursday, November 01, 2007

Welcome Back Mel

The fires in California and the cold weather in New York could not stop Mel from her second visit to NYC. She braved the rain, cold, and cats for a great weekend of shopping, eating, and drinking.
While I didn't take too many (OK any) photos during her visit I did manage to snap a photo of the towel animal that graced her (inflatable) bed.
Mr. Peanuts was on the bed and looking oh-so-cool in my knock off Channel shades. (On cruise ships they love to use your sunglasses as a prop for the towel animals, I didn't think of that on my own.)

There is no other photographic record of the weekend, so you'll just have to take my word for everything. (We got smart this time, no pictures to tell the tales we don't want to be told.)

Mel arrived late Wednesday evening. Because we are such fine hosts we took her out to our local diner for dinner. Our waiter was a real character and the grilled cheese and fries did not disappoint.

Thursday was a working day for Michael and I, so Mel ventured to Soho solo. I love shopping in Soho, I was quite jealous to be working knowing she was spending the afternoon wandering through the streets and finding fabulous places without me.

Mel and I met up for dinner (Michael had a work event to attend) at Perilla. Perilla is Harold Dieterle's newly opened restaurant (for those of you not up on your reality t.v. Harold was the winner of Top Chef, Season 1). The restaurant was small but the tables were well placed - it was full by the time we left but didn't seem over crowded. The food was outstanding. The menu features seasonal ingredients and the preparations combine interesting flavors that are different but pleasing. We both started with a salad they were fantastic - mine had currants, arugula, endive, and grilled pears in a spicy buttermilk dressing. Mel's salad had Maytag blue cheese and other tasty things that I don't remember now. For dinner Mel had the black truffle ravioli - they were in a kind of white wine/butter sauce and topped with asparagus. The heavy flavor of the ravioli was complemented by the light almost sweet sauce. I had the grilled scallop appetizer and the side of spaghetti squash. The scallops were perfectly cooked with a lightly caramelized crust, they were sitting on a tangy white sauce that was creamy and delicious with a bite of scallop. The spaghetti squash was outstanding, mixed with butter and pepper I ate the entire dish. I can't wait to take Michael - it was a great meal.

Post-dinner we ran right in to a film crew. I was really hoping it would be Sex in the City, but it was Cashmere Mafia. It stars Lucy Liu and is supposed to have a November premier date on ABC. We stayed for quite a while but really didn't see much of anything. I still love watching though, it's the anticipation of wondering who we will see or what is going to happen next. Plus it seems infinitely more exciting than my job. Eventually we met up with Michael, post-work event and spent a few hours out with the work party crowd. It was an interesting mix of people and Mel can go home with some stories of suave and refined big city guys.

Friday was the main event! Lucky Shops 2007! Lucky Shops is a two day shopping event held annually in NYC. All kinds of vendors are brought in to one area and they offer special deals to the Lucky shoppers. I went last year and had a blast, I was able to get some amazing deals on high end merchandise. This year it was great to have a shopping buddy to help me decide how best to spend my fashion dollars.

We started off the day with a high-fashion warm up. A special tribute to to Grace Kelly was being held at Sotheby's, to mark the 25th anniversary of her death. The auction house had an incredible display of her gowns, jewelry, letters, and family photos. She was a true style icon.

After our inspiration from Grace, we headed right to the Lucky Shops event. We started off with a bang - we each got a pair of the awesome Michael Kors wedge heels.

I also purchased these little Michael Kors flats - so I can run around the city and hustle for the subway.

After a few laps through the vendor booths we also both ended up with these awesome green and well padded peep toe wedges.

We also both fell in love with and bought this little number:

It's a good thing we live on opposite coasts now, we don't have to worry about going to work in matching outfits!

From the same designer as the green dress I found this adorable frock (and Bex this might work really well on you):

Both dresses are made form an incredibly soft cotton knit that will be great for packing and totally comfortable too.

My favorite purchase of the day is this amazing Catherine Malandrino dress:

It's comfortable, it's fun and really easy to wear. As an added bonus I can dress it up for going out to dinner or pair it with a wide black belt and boots for wearing to work. (Hello IOM SD - you can bet I'll be wearing this when I'm out in December.) I absolutely love it and if it wasn't for Mel I'm sure I would have passed it by on the rack.

Mel got a great deal on a pair of Siwy jeans (Kate Moss' favorite brand - yeah, I didn't even try them on). They have great pockets and fit Mel perfectly. She also got a really cute winter white wool coat. She just has to keep it away from Chandler's sharp little teeth!

We tried to take advantage of everything the shopping event offered, we sipped some free cocktails (they all had great names like Passion for Fashion), enjoyed a free hand massage and head and neck massage. We waited until the end for the massage and it was the right call. After a long day on our feet carrying packages the 15 minute back and neck massage was awesome.

Once we got home Michael put out an impressive array of snacks and we relaxed with a big glass of butterbeer. (For all of you Harry Potter fans I found a recipe for butterbeer which tastes exactly how you think this drink should taste -and it's really simple, butterscotch liqueur and cream soda. I even used diet cream soda and it was perfect.) It was raining so we kept our dinner plans simple and had sushi at one of our local favorites.

Saturday was a quiet day. Unfortunately it rained for most of the day. We started off with lunch at S'mac. They serve 10 different types of macaroni and cheese (and that's it). Mel and I noshed on three different varieties: American, Italian, and Greek - all with a crispy crumb topping (of course). The American was your classic yellow mac n' cheese, it was tasty but not the best. Least favorite was the Greek, it was creamy goat cheese with olives and spinach (so it was healthy) - unfortunately the olives were too strong for the rest of the ingredients and their flavor was too dominant in the dish. Hands down our favorite was the Italian, it had mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil, and a hint of garlic. Just writing about it now makes me want to go there for lunch tomorrow! I'm glad it's not too close to the apartment, I can't afford the carbs and calories to eat like that very often.

After S'mac we had to go to the floor of shoes at Sak's Fifth Avenue. It's so big it has it's own zip code! The best surprise of the day - our beautiful Michael Kors wedges were being sold at Sak's for 5x the price we paid at Lucky Shops! Talk about a shoppers high! I did find the most beautiful pair of Stuart Weitzman pumps that would look perfect with my Catherine Malandrino dress. I tried them on, but did resist the urge to take them home with me.

After Saks and few cocktails at Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal we met up with Michael and one of his college buddies for dinner at Artisanal. Artisanal is a French bistro that has it's own fromagerie on-site. Dinner was great, but the service wasn't fantastic and we decided although it was quite similar to Balthazar we liked Balthazar better. Mel and I shared the classic Swiss fondue - it was heaven, more cheese and bread. For dinner I had a bowl of the onion soup, a perfect brown broth with lots of onions and topped with what else - a toasted slice of bread covered with cheese. Sometimes onion soup can be salty, but this was perfectly seasoned and tasted very rich. Mel had the octopus salad, which she quite enjoyed. The boys shared an appetizer of steak tartare (Michael prefers the craftsteak version). And for dinner they both had some kind of steak, I don't really remember.....I was paying attention to my soup!

We went to the village after dinner and watched the pre-Halloween party parade. Lots of bees this year. After a stop at our new favorite local pub we headed home.

Sunday was culture day. We headed to the Natural History Museum. The Zooeum has some impressive collections and did not disappoint. For dinner we at at Carmine's. Gordy and Linda introduced me to Carmine's and it was perfect for a Sunday dinner. It is rustic Italian served family style. If you had an Italian grandma that made a big family dinner on Sunday, it would taste like the food at Carmines. We started with the Caesar salad and then moved to the portobello mushroom parmigiana. It was portobello mushrooms covered in marinar sauce, mozzarella cheese and baked in the over. It was so good, I'm totally plan to make my own version for dinner this week. For dinner we shared the 4 pasta special that included, manicotti, vege lasagna, penne in vodka creme sauce, and gnocchi in bolognese sauce. Our leftovers were enough to feed Michael and I Monday night and I had lunch for two days.

Monday morning the fun was over and Mel headed to the airport. Now we just need to make sure we won't wear the same outfit to the cookie exchange in December.

Among the fabulous hostess gift she gave me, my current favorite is this book:

It is packed with recipes for home made infused liqueur and drink recipes. I can't wait to put it to use!