Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 In Review

I owe everyone a lot of food news, but since it's New Year's Eve, a little introspection (and retrospection) is in order. These questions come courtesy of Molly at Girlwonder, who I thought of on Christmas day when I opened my copy of Worldchanging -- my Christmas present from Andy.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?

Went to a foreign country by myself. Ate a pig's foot. Bought a case of Champagne.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No. I vowed to go to the gym and be healthy, and I did pretty well for six months. So I guess I'll have resolution redux this year. Along with everyone else, so the gym will be annoyingly crowded during January.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

April and Derek had baby Leo, and Derek also gave birth to a large gallstone! Plus Naomi and Doug produced Baby Jane. And YEESH this coming year. Everyone is having a baby in 2007!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank goodness. Although I did feel kicked in the stomach when Jane Jacobs died.

5. What countries did you visit?

FINLAND! And Texas.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

A real, permanent, forever job. Preferably the one I have now.

7. What date from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory?

October 6th.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting the Saarinen collection finished. Driving the Lost Coast.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not baking Sonya and Ted's wedding cake.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Besides a couple of dreadful hangovers brought on by cheap gin, I am healthy. Knock on wood.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A very strange, reclining porcelain pig on a pillow with carvings of the Opium Rebellion tattooed all over it. I saw it in a window in Oakland one night this summer and called the store when I got back to New Haven. I couldn't get it out of my mind or bear the thought of anyone else owning it.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Molly and Tom, for landing their Beinecke jobs. And Molly again for organizing New Haven's first Home Movie Day.Chris C. and Sean, to whom I still owe bottles of Aquavit for all their work on the Saarinen collection. Meredith and Nathan, for moving to Seattle to the world's cutest house. MacKenzie, for moving to London and getting her master's from the Courtauld. Eliz, for her work on her advanced certificate in digital librarianship AND landing the law library job AT THE SAME TIME. Cindy, for finishing cooking school in Paris and moving back to the Bay Area. Paul, for tenure at UCB. Dayna, for landing the SFMoMA job. Roy, for inviting us to the best Chinese dinner of my life. Sonya and Ted, for finally doing the deed. Kyle and Sabrina, for adopting TWO stray kitties. Yale, for at last giving Moa a job worthy of her talents. Ian and Arta for getting knocked up (along with many, many other friends. 2007 = year of the baby). Kevin Roche for donating his archives to Yale. Andy, for his first teaching job at Yale and for continuing to be calm and patient in his everyday life despite.... me.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Appalled and depressed is my typical mental state, it seems, but these days I am most depressed by people who are oblivious to the decline of this planet.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Target, Trader Joe's, Bishop's Orchards, Amity Wines & Spirits, Metro-North, Firehouse 12. And Le Petit Cafe probably deserves mention.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The idea of being in charge of Yale's architectural archives program at its inception. Will it actually happen?

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2006?

Even though it came out in 2005, Of Montreal's "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)" will always be my Theme Song to 2006.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. happier or sadder? happier
2. thinner or fatter? totally fatter
3. richer or poorer? richer on paper

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Read books instead of magazines. Cooked. Left town.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worried pointlessly. Read dumb websites over and over. Swept up cat litter.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it in the car with Andy's parents in Texas.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

On the phone...?

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?

*sniff* I fall in love every day, again and again, with my Sweet Pea! *sniff*

23. How many one night stands in this last year?


24. What was your favourite TV programme?

Oh, this was the year of Arrested Development.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. I am still appalled and depressed about some people, but I'm not a hater, yo.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?

Marilynne Robinson's two novels, Housekeeping and Gilead. Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. And of course Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, edited by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Young & Sexy, Beirut, Donovan. I do not feel this has been a very awesome year, musically speaking. I mostly listened to old stuff, and rediscovered a couple of CDs from a couple of years ago (Archer Prewitt's Wilderness; The Dandy Warhols' Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia) that I ended up listening to on repeat for months, but I am not too impressed with the musical offerings of 2006 in general.

28. What did you want and get?

An oyster-shucking glove and knife! Thank you Andy! And two full weeks on the west coast revisiting all of my favorite people and places. And my sister here for Thanksgiving.

29. What did you want and not get?

My boss to stay at Yale.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?

I loved Little Miss Sunshine. Nothing else comes to mind except disappointments like For Your Consideration.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Rosamond and Joseph sweetly bought me drinks (and would not let me buy a single round) at Cafe Moscow and Beetroot in Helsinki as I turned 31. That night at Beetroot we ran into a guy who used to live in Greenpoint and had grown up in Portland and gone to college at Marlboro. Small world.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

This is so lame, but WOW would it be a relief if my body would stop going through Second Puberty and my skin would stop breaking out.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?

I am moving toward The Accessory. I am still not a purse/shoe/jewelry person, but I can now understand the power of a killer pair of earrings and boots. Looking like a fusty old librarian is cute when one is a 25-year-old librarian; not so much when one is of an age when that look loses its irony.

34. What kept you sane?

A well-placed Manhattan always helps.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Edward Norton continues to take my breath away. *Swoon*.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Aside from global warming, I was ready to dance in the streets after the midterm elections.

37. Who did you miss?

Betsy, Paul, Pauline.

38. Who was/were the best new person/people you met?

Ariel, Robin, John.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.

In the span of a month I went from wondering if I could do my job to just... doing my job. It is amazing how adaptable humans are and how quickly we can rise to the occasion if we're expected to.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

Let's pretend we don't exist.... let's pretend we're in Antarctica.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sad News from Morningside Heights

The best cup of cafe con leche I've ever had; the most exquisitely oily and garlicky pollo al ajillo... gone. Rest in peace, La Rosita.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wayne Thiebaud's Coliseum Competition Entry

It took four architects, an artist, and an archivist 12 hours over two days to make something that, at one point, we were ready to put out on the street for the squirrels to eat, but in the end it all turned out great and we had fun. Here's our rendition of the New Haven Coliseum and the Knights of Columbus Headquarters tower, in gingerbread:

Apologies to Kevin Roche. Photo by Ted. Other, much more vital participants than me were Ted, Sonya, Kyle, Sabrina and Andy. My job was mostly to take photos, spread a little icing/glue here and there, and drink. I left the heavy lifting to the professionals.

Process photos on Flickr here. You can see that God is truly in the details -- Saturday night's stopping point was not pretty.

Now the question is: when will we blow it up? I am 99.9% positive that whenever we do it, it will be sooner than the real Coliseum's date with demolition.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Much to Discuss

1. What on earth is going on with Bentara? I hate to slam restaurants I like, especially when it is a restaurant that was the lynchpin of the much-touted New Haven Restaurant Renaissance, but the food and service are both losing stars in my mental Michelin. One of my friends had the worst service of her life there recently, involving a sommelier screaming at her (and heads at other tables turning) for being flexible in her choice of wine when her first, second, and third choices turned out to be unavailable. A few weeks later, I had a mediocre lunch, but chalked it up to... it being lunch on a weekday. However, we took a visiting professor there for dinner a couple of weeks after that -- touting Bentara as "one of our favorite restaurants in town" -- and ended up being embarrassed about the bland, improperly prepared food that was clearly not at its freshest. And just the other night, some other friends went for a big night out and reported the same findings about the food. Bentara, please! Don't rest on your laurels! Keep making the Ninth Square proud!

2. Barcelona is now open! Rejoice! New Haven needs more excellent, casual, reasonably-priced restaurants. We have enough fancy places and we have enough Irish pubs. Barcelona may be a mini-chain, but it is the first mid-priced, popular, comfortable place to have a glass of wine and a delicious snack to appear downtown. (Full disclosure: Andy designed the interiors.)

3. Tom took me over to Berkeley College for lunch a couple of weeks ago so I could sample first-hand their sustainable grass-fed burgers and other organic/local/sustainable dining hall cuisine. More on this later -- it deserves its own post.

4. I sing a song of aspic. Andy's firm's holiday party was last night, which involved our all going to Union League and ordering off the menu. I had rabbit and smoked pork in aspic with frisee salad and a quail egg, then a roasted pheasant breast with sauteed foie gras. The pheasant was a little mild, a little dry, but the aspic? A REVELATION. I now feel the need to encase all of my foods in meat jelly. Every bite was like sinking my teeth into a fresh piece of meat-flavored Freshen-Up gum -- a liquid flavor explosion each time. Ooooohhhmmmmmmmmy goooood.

4.5. Latkefest at Jen and Tom's tomorrow! Gingerbread-making party at Sonya and Ted's, too! I love December! We are hoping to make a gingerbread model of the New Haven Coliseum (which is being torn down as we speak).

Photo by the amazing folks at The Bridge and Tunnel Club.

5. We are off to Texas next week! I am anticipating barbeque brisket, smoked turkey, Joe T. Garcia's, and further weight gain. Happy holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ugly Like I Like It

Photo by New York Times

No, I haven't lived there in years. But I still feel very protective of Long Island City. Thank goodness for tumbleweeds -- the hipsters, they can have their Williamsburg and leave LIC well enough alone. I just wish the developers would, too. There is something to be said for empty neighborhoods in big cities.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Screw the SI reunion, I'm going to THIS! Brandishing my New Haven Pizza, my Coastal Connecticut Briny Clam Chowder, and my god-damned Fried Clams! New England REPRESENT! Woooooooo!!!!

From Jane and Michael Stern via their Roadfood Email:

"Anyone into deep-dish food scholarship will want to know about the
forthcoming Second Biennial Symposium on American Culinary History that takes place in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan's Clements Library on May 18-20, 2007. The theme this year is "Regional and Ethnic Traditions," and we will be delivering a talk not-so-succinctly titled "America’s Least Fashionable Cuisine: A Road Trip through the Vastly Underappreciated Cuisine of America’s Northeast: Unknown, Disrespected, Hidebound, Inexplicable, Ghastly, and Delicious Foods that Define the Region’s Unique Taste." As more details become available, we will let you know."