Category Archives: Food

Summer summary 2010

This has been a crazy travel summer since I got engaged. In August alone we went to Chicago and Peoria, Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and Saugerties. I took some time off from writing and blogging, but now it’s September–the dogs are raining down upon me and its back to work. Here’s a summary of the summer.


At the end of July beginning of August we went to Chicago to visit, well, Chicago. From there we rented a car and drove through the flat cornfields to Peoria to visit my Grandma for a day. In Chicago we stayed at the Wicker Park Inn which was in a good location but not the greatest bed and breakfast. All the rooms opened out onto the breakfast area so at 7 am every morning we were woke up to the sounds of coffee being made etc. Not to mention the breakfast was pretty much cereal and crappy pastries. And they didn’t wash our towels the majority of the time we were there and we even ran out of toilet paper even though a cleaning person was coming by everyday. I digress, but really cereal does not a bed and breakfast make. However the neighborhood was great full of vintage shops and record stores and we happened to be there the  Wicker Park Music Fest. The best part was Cap’n Jazz had recently reunited and was playing the fest. We were lucky enough to escape the crowd by going upstairs in Myopic Books and watching from the window (we bought books!).

Cap'n Jazz!

In addition to the art museum and aquarium, the other awesome thing about Chicago was the food! Holy crap we ate well! We ate a Rick Bayless’ restaurant Frontera Grill. Mexican Food so good it will melt your face off. Despite a questionable name, Crust, was a great organic pizza place. Another highlight was the incredible though expensive deserts at Hot Chocolate. But the funny thing we got into was getting Coke Slurpee’s at the 7-11. Classy!

Long Beach Island, New Jersey

My fiance’s family has rented a house on Long Beach Island pretty much every summer since he was a kid so we headed out to visit them for the weekend. It was really nice being out at the beach, however, beaches up north are considerably different from the beaches I grew up near in Florida. For one thing the water is cold in August! Also the tides were so crazy while we were there the lifeguards said we could only go in up to our knees. So we mainly walked around and ate ice cream at the many ice cream places on the island. Long Beach Island is very family oriented, many family’s had 3 or 4 kids. I don’t know how people do it. I can barely deal with myself and my cat much less tons of kids, but unlike Brooklyn where the kids run wild, the parents on Long Beach Island weren’t having it. They kept them in line which restored my faith in the parenting business. The last day when we were driving back we stopped in Seaside Heights to check it out since a lot of people had told me it was like Coney Island. Perhaps Coney Island back in the 70’s during the time the shot the Warriors. While the pizza and custard we ingested was pretty good never have I felt more like I needed to bathe in disinfectant.


My fiance, Dennis, had to work so he couldn’t come up with me for the whole week in Saugerties. So I borrowed one of my clients dogs Phoebe and went up on my own. It was fine except its pretty dark in the country at night ya’ll. Hardly any streetlights or neighbors had me playing through every horror movie I ever saw. Thank God for Phoebe!

Phoebe wants to bite the "big dogs" next door

Saugerties how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

1-Miss Lucy’s Kitchen where the Jerk Chicken and Banana Chutney sandwich blew my mind as did the Peach Blueberry Crumble I had for desert.

2-Is for Lucky Chocolates across the street where you can get any of their awesome chocolates mixed with ice cream.

3- Is for the amazing Pistachio Chicken, Vegetable Crepes, and Grape Leaves at Fez Restaurant.

4- Is for all the antique and second hand shops downtown.

5- Is for the Lighthouse.

My pal Phoebe in front of the Lighthouse

6- Is for its proximity to the Hudson River and the Catskills, Woodstock, and Phoenicia. Not to mention Kingston, Rosendale, and New Paltz.

I love it up there and would love to have a country cottage there I could go to to escape the city now and again. Dennis wound up being able to come up for a few days (thank god- the dark nights were getting to me!) We had a great time at all of the above and we went tubing in Phoenecia on the Esopus which was ridiculous. We were either getting stuck on rocks cause the water was low in some places or getting dumped over and bruising ourselves on rocks from the occasional rapids. Delirious we wandered to the country store on the main street. Here’s us post tubing:

Post tubing crazies!

I came back to the city and had a meltdown about living here instead of some place that had more nature. Sometimes I feel too old for the constant assault on the senses in the city. This article in the Onion pretty much sums it up.  I love a lot of people and animals here but I’m tired. Coincidentally Best Friends Animal Sanctuary contacted me about a phone interview for a dog trainer position out in Utah. This would be my dream job however my fiance is going back to school this year and couldn’t come with me if they offered it to me. Not sure what’s coming down the pike for us. But it’ll definitely be interesting! Gotta go study for my CPDT exam I’m taking in a few weeks and walk many dogs. Trying to take it one day at a time, more will be revealed.


Filed under Dogs, Food, Music, Travel

Halloween, The Dogs Reading, and Red Hook

Happy Halloween 2009!

Sally Shark!

The Dogs of Brooklyn reading 11/6 was a success! Thanks to all who came out and supported us. Melissa Febos read a great piece about Red Dog’s fear aggression. I read Brooklyn and dog poems, and Vijay Seshadri read his story “Brooklyn Wildlife” from the nonfiction collection Brooklyn Was Mine. We passed a donation box for the Brooklyn no-kill shelter BARC. Dennis and I decided to match whatever contributions we received so we wound up raising about $200! If you weren’t able to make it the art will be up at Ozzie’s 7th Ave and Lincoln Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY the whole month of November stop by and check it out. Here are some pictures from the reading:

Melissa Febos photo by Dennis Riley

Susie DeFord photo by Dennis Riley

Vijay Seshadri photo by Dennis Riley

Later that weekend Dennis and I walked to Red Hook, Brooklyn where I really haven’t spent much time. It’s amazing over there. Old warehouses, lots of small art studios and galleries, and Steve’s Key Lime Pie yum! I saw one of my old students Maia working at her uncle’s delicious restaurant Kevin’s. But what strikes me the most in Red Hook is the quiet waterfront. Because there isn’t much subway service there it remains a bit more empty than other parts of the city, which I liked a lot! You could hear the seagulls and the water lapping at the rocky beach, it was like being in New York 100 years ago.

Red Hook Waterfront photo by Dennis Riley

Of course then we passed Fairway and Ikea. I made the mistake of going in Ikea. They set it up like a maze-trap so you can’t find your way out–the horror! We finally found our way out after I almost took out a mom and stroller, then walked through the soccer fields over to Carroll Gardens and ate at La Petit Cafe. It didn’t look like much from the outside but inside it’s beautifully designed with rocks, trees, fountains, and chandeliers. I love these epic walks we take through Brooklyn. I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’m still always discovering something new.

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Filed under Dogs, Food, Poetry, Readings

NYC Weekend (weakened)


James Ensor

For the past few weeks I’ve had a ton of work and lots of friends having problems and coming to me to talk about them. I don’t usually mind this, I like helping people, but I was starting to feel totally depleted, like I had a million hoover vacuum hoses sucking my energy. I decided last weekend to have a staycation- no dogwalks or drama, just doing what I wanted to do, this is such a rarity that I savored every minute of it. 

Saturday we went to Shopsins,how do I love thee, let me count the ways. One is for the cussing customer commentary coming from the kitchen. Two is for the rules like no cell phones, or parties bigger than 4. Three is for the apple ebelskivers. Dennis and I actually get up early on Saturdays to get to this family run New York institution. There’s actually a documentary about Kenny Shopsin the owner called I Like Killing Flies. Its very entertaining and illustrates the amazing breed of small business owners in NYC, which are a dying out with all the chain stores and high-priced condos moving in. Kenny also wrote a cookbook of all his crazy and delicious recipes called Eat Me: Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin

It was raining (like usual) so we headed up to the European Union that is MOMA to check out the James Ensor Exhibit, Fighting Skeletons. Its hard to imagine him back in the day (1860–1949) painting these dark, crazy skeleton and puppet images. What struck me was that he also had these amazingly colorful paintings of biblical stories like Christ Calming the Storm. If you are in the New York area you should really check this show out. 

Then we went to see the musical Avenue Q on Broadway. Shout out to my friend Maryann McSweeney who plays bass in the orchestra! It was hilarious. Puppets having sex on Broadway and songs like Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet is for Porn. Unfortunately, its closing at the end of September, but they had a good run!

We headed back to Brooklyn and had dinner at Pequena which is this incredibly small and good mexican restaurant in Fort Greene. They have the amazing black bean and sweet plantain quesadillas. They are soon opening a location in Prospect Heights only a few blocks from my apartment! I overate and waddled home. 

Sunday we had a great breakfast at Rose Water in Park Slope. I had these great sweet yet sour plum  crepes. Then we went into Manhattan and walked on the Highline. The design work they did on it is great, paths flow into flowers and brush. They left some of the original tracks too. They have this area with a window over the street and bleachers where you can sit. It would be a great place for a reading. Next we went to one of our favorite museums the Rubin Museum of Art which has art from the Himalayas and surrounding areas. The Rubin is always a calm quiet place in the middle of crazy Manhattan. We looked at the Mandala exhibit. Sand Mandalas are such an interesting concept to me. The idea of creating such a beautiful piece of art and then just letting it blow away. I don’t know if I could do it. I think I have to much attachment to my creations. 

All in all it was a good staycation. Fall is just around the corner and things are cooling off. People seem in better moods and the sun is shining in the cloudy blue. I love living in New York. I could just walk around for hours and never get bored. So much too see, so much to do, never enough time.

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Filed under Art, Food, Theater

“Poetry is a like a beautiful, sick dog…”

Charlie making friends at Prospect Park photo by Dennis Riley

Charlie making friends at Prospect Park photo by Dennis Riley


Monday morning, having trouble pulling the trigger on these poems I’m writing. Writing poetry seems to be this process of note-taking and meditating. Scouring Thesauri and humming while contemplating how to translate the music, images, and feelings onto the page. What was it the poet Frank Stanford said? “Poetry is like a beautiful, sick dog that shits all over the house.” 

This weekend we took Chocolate Charlie to Prospect Park. They have off-leash hours there from 7-9 am every morning. Thanks to FIDO they also have a dog beach near the 9th Street entrance where the dogs can go swimming. Even if you don’t have a dog, off-leash time is a sight to see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bummed out and gone up to the park and just watched the dogs playing and felt better afterwards. Its pretty amazing that in this city, which can feel so industrial and cold at times, there’s this nature party happening every morning and most people don’t even know!

Charlie was so happy, he writhed around in the wet grass and greeted all the other dogs and people. The dogs’ happiness is contagious. They’ve taught me so much about staying in the moment, and not being so trapped in my own head that I miss what’s happening around me. Happiness really is about gratitude for the little things, like chocolate! Speaking of which we went to Jacques Torres this weekend and I got frozen wicked (spicy) hot chocolate. Dennis got one of their ice cream sandwiches which I have to say might be the best ice cream sandwich I’ve ever had. You can pick various flavors of ice cream (strawberry is good) sandwiched between two huge chocolate chip cookies. Jacques Torres is a religion. There should be churches and shrines to him (made of chocolate that we can eat!). 

We also saw Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Inglorious Basterds. I like Tarantino but his penchant for gratuitous adolescent violence gets to me at times. I mean the multiple shots of scalping, was that really necessary? Gore fans will be happy. The carving of Nazi symbols into foreheads? Quentin must be reading a bit too much Harry Potter. But as always Tarantino delivered an entertaining movie. My favorite commentary on Tarantino came from my dad. I had him watch Reservoir Dogs with me and he fell asleep. He said, “At the beginning of the movie the guy was bleeding, I fall asleep and I wake up at the end and the guy is still bleeding!” My dad is so funny. 

I must leave you, the dogs beckon!

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Filed under Dogs, Food, Movies, Poetry, Writing