Archive for July, 2011


Lobstah v. Lobstah v. Lobstah

I’ve never been a big lobster eater.  I would never go to a restaurant and order a whole lobster, or even a lobster tail.  You order this crustacean that you have to pull apart with your hands like a savage, but then you have to wear a bib like a pre-schooler while doing so.  Not a good look and not worth the time and effort.

But lobster rolls are a different story.  Lobsters are already shelled, seasoned and are easy to eat in a cute little bun.  I remember the first lobster roll I ever had.  MrsJ2011 convinced that I had to try one back in 2005 when we went to Mary’s Fish Camp, known for their awesome lobster roll.  I was not too keen on the idea of lobster and mayo but I went along and it was very delicious.  Not something I would crave but very good.  I am not a big fan of mayo, and seafood and mayo just seems weird to me.

Over the last few years, it seems that lobster rolls have become quite popular.  Each year in the local magazines there are articles dissecting NYC’s lobster rolls to see which one is tops.  Like I said, I’d never really go out of my way to get one.

That is, until they starting serving them by my office!

Last summer, there was a giant lobster man handing out menus for a little place called the Urban Lobster Shack.  If you remember, I posted a photo of him here.  Intrigued to give any new place a whirl, we headed on over to the little window in the basement of a nearby office building to give it a try.  That’s right – it’s not a restaurant.  Literally a window.  They serve the traditional lobster roll, which was very good but they also have something called the Chef Special roll which is basically a lobster roll, scampi style.  And it’s only $11.  Definitely not traditional, but definitely a winner.  The lobster was good quality, there’s tons of delicious butter and garlic, and the bread is nice and toasty.  Absolute heaven, although a little small for the price.  I’ve probably had it ten times in the past year and every time it is wonderful.

Ubban Lobster Shack - so beautiful!

I was more than satisfied with Urban Lobster Shack and was definitely not looking to cheat on it.  But then the food trucks came to town, and considering my obsession with all things served on a truck, I just had to try.

First I took a short walk over to Luke’s Lobster Truck to give their lobster roll a try, hoping the whole time that it would be worth the $16 I was about to pay.  I walked there, stood on line, ordered, and was back at my desk in a half hour.  The roll itself was actually 5 inches long – so small!  However, I think that’s the standard size for lobster rolls.  There was a lot of chunky lobster.  Not too much mayo.  But for some reason, I did not taste any seasoning whatsoever.  The butter they schmear on the roll was not fully melted, so I had little chunks of butter between my lobster, which skeeved me out a little.  But I have to admit all in all it was a good lobster roll.  I’d have it again.

Luke's Lobster - by this time I decided to start measuring!

The following week, I spied the truck from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which coincidently is right near one of my clients in Brooklyn.  I obviously had to try it for comparison’s sake!  The line was not as long as Luke’s truck and there were options – their traditional roll with mayo and celery, and something called the Connecticut Roll with just lobster and butter.  Also a whopping $16 and 5 inches long.  But I have to admit I was so disappointed.  The bread was very soggy and everything just fell apart as I tried to eat it, so in fact my lobster roll turned into an open faced lobster sandwich.  BOO!  The flavor was definitely not as good either.  I’m not going back there again.  Sorry.

Red Hook Lobster Pound - what a mess!

So in the end, Urban Lobster Shack wins the Spice title for Best Lobster Roll Accessible during Lunchtime in Midtown Manhattan.  For the size and the taste, it’s a much better bang for my buck.  I know I know . . . I did not talk much about the quality of the lobster itself, but like I said I’m not much of a lobster eater except for these rolls.  I may not be a lobster roll purist, but I know what I like.  Damn it, now I’m hungry for a lobster roll!

I just came across a wonderful blogpost, based on this viral video of a cat. Like the last time I posted a viral video, trust me, this one is really worth it. You can check out the entire post here, if you’d like. But this is what I found to be the most important insight the author had:

Here was this cat, in his hour of presumed privacy, barking away like a German shepherd. What was he thinking? Was he trying to protect the house? Did he have some kind transspecies issue, i.e., inside, he was secretly a dog? Or was he barking—like so many dogs do—just for the joy of it? This was what it felt like to me. Then again, I am not a cat.

The important part came when the cat realized that his owner was taping him and began instantly to meow. I wanted to say, “Don’t change yourself for anybody! Bark it up! Be different! Be yourself!”

Hilarious to think that animals may show a different side when they think no one is looking. But also interesting to think about how this ties into our human personas and the idea that there are aspects of ourselves that we only let out when no one is looking. Do we consider these our guilty pleasures? Like sitting down to watch Real Housewives with an open pint of Ben & Jerry’s, knowing you will polish it off by the end of the hour-long episode. Or singing Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” alone in the shower with no one else around. The stuff we do for joy in private, or even the hurts we only let ourselves feel in private. Like crying over the silly tiff you had with the mean lady in the cereal aisle at Trader Joe’s. All of the private moments that we don’t want anyone else to see – not even our closest loved ones – how does that all fit into the whole of who we are? Something to think about.

I’m going to look into installing a puppy cam in my house to see what Marley’s doing when I’m not around….

Crab-tastic

As all my Spices know, I’ve been busy with a newborn. Babies do take up every second of a new mother’s time; it really is a 24/7 job. Priorities are reassessed, pushing blogging to the bottom of the list, along with sleeping, cooking/baking, eating, personal hygiene (you’d better believe it!), etc. But, it is an extremely rewarding experience. As sleep deprived as I am, when my baby wakes up at 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning, thinking it’s play time and smiling coyly at me trying to engage me, I can’t help but smile back. It just warms my heart. I mean how can anyone be upset?

Anyway, enough about babies. The purpose of this blog is to share with my Spices, and whoever else is out there supporting our blog, this delicious crab dish. When do I have time to cook, you may ask? Well, my mother-in-law is here helping us for a few weeks. And since we won’t be able to cook like we used to once she leaves, we’ve taken the opportunity to use the little bit of time we have wisely.

The first time I came across this dish (well, a similar one) was in a Chinese restaurant 4 years ago in Malaysia. It’s crabs cooked in salted egg yolk sauce and it was divine. Who would have thunk? Pure genious! I couldn’t get enough of it. I MUST eat this dish every time I am in Malaysia. I wanted to relive the experience in my own home so I decided to try making it myself. Well, it’s not as good as the one in the restaurant, but it was still mega yummy. You should try it!

Crab with salted egg yold sauce

Whoopie Pie Drama!

Who knew this controversy was brewing under our very noses this year…Click on the link; check it out. Then note the site to which your click brings you. And realize that I am still surfing the gilt sites on a daily basis. And now, with gilt taste also there to tempt me, I think I am truly lost. Fortunately, I do not have much opportunity to entertain these days, and I am not one to spend on fancy vittles just to satisfy myself, so I have yet to click on “buy” for gilt taste. Until I feel like I really need to experiment with some fiddleheads or juicy-looking white asparagus, I will just surf their articles and columns (which are entertaining in and of themselves!)..but some of those cuts of meat and sausages do look amazing!

However, this post could have been subtitled “Intervention, Part 2”. Because I am continuing my weekly online shopping habit. One thing that is now perpetuating my habit is that I have discovered the ease of free returns! At least, when it does not require me actually going to the post office. My last return (a pair of jeans and a top) went back into a packable envelope, which was easy to leave at a postal drop box. Then, suddenly, two days later – nearly $200 credit in my account! Anything I bought from credit, is basically free, right? So, I got these crazy watches. We’ll see how I like them. I bought two, because I couldn’t pick, and figured I could return it if I didn’t like it.

This is how my habit works: I get home at night, pull up the internet, check gmail, stalk facebook status updates, check cnn.com if I didn’t get to it at work, maybe surf some job postings to see if there’s anything interesting, then…nothing else left to do but look at gilt.com! I don’t always look at the other ones, because, even though gilt does not always have the best deals, it does have the more attractive and easily navigable site. I am a sucker for form over substance. Someone take away my credit card!!!

La Sola Vita

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Here it is, my Spiceladies (and Spicestalkers, if you exist). An image of my solitary life. My patio cafe table, just assembled today, and a salmon dinner for one. I bravely ventured out for my solo meal, despite the fact that my balcony is a bit of a stage, overlooking the pool, where gaggles of young and sunny folk have been partying all day. I should have felt self-conscious, that they would look up and judge my solitude, while the dozen of them are partaking in a shared meal just below. But, I built my table today. And the weather is lovely for al fresco dining. And this is MY balcony for goodness’ sake!

The prelude to this image, is the task of building the table. The top is a very heavy marble mosaic. Instructions recommend that assembly be undertaken by Two Adults. However, in my life, it’s just me and my mini-poodle. He did a heroic job of providing moral support and mostly succeeded in staying out of my way so he didn’t get hurt. The task was a bit unwieldy, but, as you can see from the photo – ultimately successful! I have become very good at building things that are recommended to be assembled by Two Adults. My leaning shelves. My Weber grill! That actually took about five hours. After which I discovered that, if I had bought it from Ace Hardware, instead of Home Depot, they would have assembled it for free. Anyway, just to say, I’ve gotten good at going solo.

I am not sharing this to make you feel sad for me! The fact that I’m willing to share publicly reflects that I’m completely content and, even, happy with this state. In fact, I am trying to find ways to remind myself that two or more still really is better than one.

I rewatched About a Boy last night and tried not to identify with the caddish Hugh Grant character who was all about himself with no attachments, and instead sympathize with the boy, who really believed that more was better than one, even with all the complications and imperfections he had to accept in those relationships.

I don’t know. One is easy. And surprisingly angst-free. However, if you look back at my photo above, I bought two chairs for my cafe table…