Monday, June 23, 2014

she says that it's french, i know what it means

BONJOUR! imagine me saying that in my most perfect french accent, because in reality i probably sound more like brad pitt saying "BAWNGEEORNO" in inglorious bastards. i spent a long weekend in quebec city with my family and, all in in all, it's a pretty magical place. 

our hotel, l'hotel du vieux quebec, was super cute, perfectly located, and just generally fantastic. it's a family-owned boutique hotel, and has a cozy, charming vibe. the staff was extremely accommodating throughout our stay, and the room was comfy and spacious.


but it was extra touches like the the freakin' picnic basket breakfast placed on our door each morning --with pastries, fruit, yogurt, and OJ -- that took things above and beyond. you'd best believe i ate all the croissants every morning. there was also a nespresso machine and i became kind of addicted.

we watched the changing of the guard and took a tour of the citadelle, which was cool. the highlight for me, though, was the "official" goat named betsy who gave absolutely no fucks. like, i swear "fancy" by iggy azalea should have played every time she started walking (trotting?). observe:

speaking of animals, i ate bison cheek at this sweet little bistro, chez boulay. not kidding when i say it's in my top 10 meals of all time. it tasted like short rib, and was braised in red currant vinegar. along with the accompanying celery root, carrots, mushrooms, and onions, it was out of control awesome.

also ate poutine, and i swear that nothing has ever felt more right:

the city itself didn't necessarily feel all that much like europe to me, though i could see why people would say that. between the french-canadian locals and international tourists, it had a totally funky, eclectic vibe. i dug it, and i'm now entertaining fantasies of being a cool french-canadian hipster that doesn't know french and just wanders the streets. sorry, "rues". whatever.

perhaps the most popular attraction in the city is the chateau frontenac hotel. believe it or not, it's the most-photographed hotel in the world! i've now taken at least 20 of those photographs.

rue st. jean is one of the main thoroughfares in QC and is lined with shops, bars, and bistros. at night and on weekend days, the street is blocked off to cars, and pedestrians take over. as you can probably imagine, the people-watching is phenomenal. i saw someone dressed as beetlejuice and a group of punk teens dressed as lord of the rings characters. normal.

another great spot to sit and watch the world go by is the dufferin terrace, a boardwalk that runs in front of the chateau frontenac. there was a singer there, trudging through god-awful covers of downer tunes like sarah mclachlan's "angel," but eh. it was a gorgeous day and i was on vacation!

we also saw a street performer here who did a hand-balancing act. when he did a quick poll of the audience to see how many of us fools weren't french-speakers, he decided to translate the whole show. at one point, he purposely messed something up, and a few of us laughed. his response: "why you laughing? it's not funny. where you from, US?" pretty much.

however, i was very pleased at how sweet and friendly the locals were, as quebec tends to have an, um, reputation for not being so kind to americans. i was amazed at how many began speaking to us in english BEFORE we even said anything, though! how did they know? 

and while we're on the topic of cultural differences, the tinder conversations i had were all quite amusing (context: my tagline is "all sizzle. all steak."). 

also, fun fact: KFC is PFK up in quebec, and i don't think anyone was as amused by this as i was.

my favorite neighborhood was the quartier petit champlain, in the lower town. it's quaint and vibrant, with brightly-colored buildings and street-lamps. we stumbled into a restaurant in this neighborhood for dinner on our final night, bistro sous le fort, and it had a wonderful atmosphere and equally amazing food!

on the way home, the U.S. customs agent jokingly called me a "miscreant" and asked me if i brought back any canadian boyfriends. i said "i wish" and he chuckled. now i HAVE to go back, right?

until next time, QC ... au revoir!

Monday, June 9, 2014

when we was young, oh man did we have fun

it was another whirlwind weekend in new york, but i suppose i was due since it had been over eight months since my last visit!

stuff that happened:

on friday, i met up with one of my oldest friends and we enjoyed margaritas al fresco with some of his roommates before hoofing it over to a greek festival where we stuffed our faces. we pressed on to a dimly-lit dive bar before i decided that i needed dessert. my wish was granted in the form of nutella bread pudding at a neighboring restaurant.

saturday was governors ball with gleni and her boyfriend -- arguably the reason for my entire visit. all my pictures are here, but some highlights ...

-gleni had a harry styles water bottle that brought joy to everyone who saw it (or at least, me)

-FLOWER CROWNS ERRWHERE. we decided it was "the mark of the basic bitch." is that mean?

-we juuuust missed the awesomely named and just awesomely awesome diarrhea planet due to the dumb shuttle. but PAPA, the first band we did see, nearly made up for that with a song entitled "let's make you pregnant." and it's actually good!

-lots of people wearing stuff with pineapple print. no idea

-singing along with the crowd during fitz and the tantrums' "out of my league" = music festival greatness

-eating a red velvet ice cream sandwich with cream cheese ice cream in the middle

-people carrying around huge cutouts of arnold schwarzenegger and jeff goldblum, presumably for fun

-talking about skrillex the entire day even though we didn't care about him or have any intention of seeing him

-tinder matching with a guy named bone

-THE STROKES, obviously. i had seen them back in '06, also in NYC, and it remains in my top 3 concert experiences. they haven't toured in some time, and their new album is terrrrrrible, but they totally delivered and it was incredible. they opened with my all-time favorite song of theirs, "barely legal." nick valensi was still rocking his beautiful jesus hair and is still all guitar god-esque. julian, who was wearing a hawaiian shirt and looked like a bloated dad, is apparently back on the sauce because nothing he said made any sense and it was fantastic. gems included "ATTACK!", "stay cooooool," and -- in a wasted-valley-girl voice -- "thankyouguyssomuuuuch" and "yoloooo." during "hard to explain," i giddily screamed "this is the sound of my youth!" to no one in particular. because it really is.

-witnessing a guy, who was standing next to us during spoon's set, pick up a deflated beach ball and PUT HIS MOUTH ON IT TO RE-INFLATE IT. i'm still grossed out for him.

-laying on a blanket far away from the stage and listening to jack white shred the night away

after gov ball, i got a miraculous second wind and there were more margaritas (and tacos) at some place in williamsburg, followed by another dive bar where we met up with some of gleni's friends and discussed a true catfish story for almost three hours. i have absolutely no idea how i made it 'til 3am, but it was all quite exciting.

on sunday, brunch with my friend jeff at the grey dog in chelsea was the perfect end to a great weekend. i swear to god this place must have been the inspiration for that central perk place from friends. loved it. and its french toast!

...speaking of catfish, the unlikely theme song of the whole weekend was from another band that i missed at gov ball, catfish and the bottlemen. terrible name, but i happened to hear this song last week and i've been hooked ever since. enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

sup, summer?

IT'S SUMMER, GUYS! well, not technically. but close enough, eh? visions of sundresses and froyo and people-watching on the hampton beach boardwalk are totally dancing in my head. i decided to come up with some foolproof ingredients for an amazing summer. add your own in the comments!

a great playlist.

in 2011, my friend gleni and i decided to start theming every summer. that first one was the "summer of why not?" and it was followed by 2012's "mayan summer" (because it had a much better ring than "YOLO") and 2013's "no-bummer summer." this year we were feeling all magical and idealistic and so "utopian summer" is the theme of the 2014 season. i put together a preliminary set of jams that will expand as the summer rolls on. dig it:

utopian summer playlist

a trip to remember.

it doesn't have to be a super-lavish vacation or anything, but every summer should have at least ONE day or weekend trip that recharges your batteries and ideally involves sunshine and water and seafood and shops that sell fudge and/or ice cream. as a new englander i'm obviously a little biased towards coastal maine and the new hampshire seacoast and such, because ... LOBSTAH.

a music festival. 

even if you're not going all bonnaroo and becoming one with nature and port-a-potties for an entire weekend, seeing a bunch of random acts with your friends while eating chicken fingers and drinking beer is always a good time. you might even discover your new favorite band!

an outdoor movie.

i've been noticing that a ton of theaters do "summer rewind" events that feature cult classics from the '80s or '90s. and instead of shuffling into a cold, dark theater, you get to enjoy them from the comfort of a plastic lawn chair in the middle of a park or something. possibly less comfortable, but infinitely more fun.

a picnic.

the reality is probably more full of ants and mosquitos and getting grass all over your legs, but the idea of a picnic is just so adorable. like, whipping up some jar salads and an antipasto loaf and making fresh-squeezed lemonade and sitting on one of those red-and-white gingham blankets. will someone make this happen with me?!

a roofdeck/patio/deck experience.

sangria + patio = guaranteed awesome, every time. whether you're just hanging out after work and dining al fresco or happen to be friends with that guy that has the killer roofdeck, finding some outdoor spot to chill on a perfect summer evening is essential. also, if you're reading this and you have a killer roofdeck, please contact me ASAP.