Friday, June 29, 2007

If God ran a deli...

No trip to NYC would be complete without a hot pastrami sandwich (on rye, of course) from the Stage Deli. Our friend Chris introduced us to the Stage Deli several visits ago, and we've been ever time since. Now, Jeff prefers the hefty chicken salad sandwich...but for my money, this piled-high pastrami delight is pure sandwich perfection.

We actually had a few delightful meals yesterday, our first "free day" in NY. We also visited with Cheryl and Curt and last visit to their apartment before they move into their exciting renovated co-op along the East River. We got a chance to see the new digs pre-renovation...with a side trip to the roof-top deck, which on warm NY days will make them the envy of all their friends. Cheryl and Curt took us to the cozy John's Pizza near their apartment. We sat out back and shared a REALLY nice bruschetta pizza from a wood oven. Really really hit the spot.

After leaving them to tuck Loren in for the evening, Jeff and I strolled down 1st Ave. to pass by the United Nations buildings. We had not seem the UN before...and the complex isn't that "impressive" from the street...but you can get a sense of the grand things that go on inside.

After resting our tired feet a bit, we ended our day with a few drinks at a lounge called Therapy. Hip music. Hip decor. A fun time...and we could actually sit...bonus. After our Therapy session, the temperatures were too lovely not to walk back to our hotel...not a short walk, but worth it. We found a Ray's Pizza along the way and stopped in for a slice.

A cool shower and soft bed felt REALLY good after a long day of walking.

One curiosity for the day. While we were in SOHO, we did run across the Apple store, where a couple hundred (maybe?) people were camped out waiting for the release of the new iPhone. It was like a scene from Let's Make a Deal...everyone dressed up with signs trying to get noticed by the swarming news cameras. I'm sure the place was a TOTAL zoo by 6pm when the phone went on sale.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NY state of mind...

I had hoped to post a shot of my NYC hotel window yesterday, but the Internet connection in the room wasn't functioning...and I was tired. But today...success! This is my 16th floor view from the W Tuscany...there is NOTHING remotely Tuscan about this hotel...but it is quite nice. I'm going to go out on a limb and call this my BEST hotel view to date. (My apologies to Chicago, that had a really strong Window Photo.)

Today is a tad bit cooler. My client meeting was much more receptive and productive. And Jeff is finally here...his flight from SF was VERY late (1am) due to horrible weather delays. (Before you have too much sympathy, Jeff did get upgraded on his flight and got extra wine and champagne as his flight circled JFK.)

Oh, and before I forget to mention it: a really nice lunch today at Ecco, a really nice Italian "saloon" in the Financial District. I had a really tasty lobster ravioli.

Can't WAIT for dinner!! I really do love NY.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not exactly to plan...

Some days, its best to focus on the positives and ignore the things that just don't go your way.

The positives: my morning latte, a yummy lunch at Boston's cozy Green Dragon Tavern (roots back to 1657), catching an early train to NYC, catnaps brought on by the gentle sway of the train, a fantastic hotel room at the W in NYC with a view of the Empire State Building, hip cocktails with my traveling companion Ellis, and a grand lightening show out my window as I drift off to sleep.

All great stuff :)

I'll leave the rants for another day.

[Note to Curt: I know I haven't written you yet...I'm a bit behind...I will...don't flame me on my blog for being a bad friend :) ]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tree update...oh my...

Matthew snapped a few pictures of the pine tree when he and Jeff arrived home this evening. The progress is dramatic...albeit not complete. I guess this is a 2-3 day process. [Thanks for the photos, Matt.]

Also, a hearty THANK YOU to my buddy (and avid blog reader) Sean for his Boston food tips. At Sean's recommendation, we tried Durgin-Park in the Faneuil Hall Market. These folks love to draw attention to their 100+ years of existence..."YOUR GRANDFATHER & PERHAPS YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHER DINED WITH US TOO" and "ESTABLISHED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN". Its unabashedly kitschy, but their simple but hearty seafood dishes held up nicely to the hype. We were offered a spot on the outside terrace, but the hot and sticky air drove us downstairs to the cool (and lively) bar area. We topped off dinner with a house specialty, the strawberry shortcake. Yum.

Ode to a tree...

Temporary red and white No Parking signs dotted our tiny street today, signaling the imminent demise of the already-demised pine tree next door. As luck would have it, I hopped on a flight this morning for I won't have pics of the lack-o-tree for a week! Talk about timing.

Over the past week, since we learned the tree was going to be removed, I've been noticing the tree more. There is one particularly loud bird that perches on the longest of the limbs. Every morning, his complex song greets the sun as it peeks over the hills. I think he will miss the tree most of all.

Nevertheless, I don't think the world will take any notice. It seems that we're a bit preoccupied with Paris Hilton's jail departure outfit: "a sage jacket with white trim over a white shirt and skinny jeans".

So, rather than dwell on the fate of the tree [its probably down by now], I will share the view of my Hilton window in Boston's Financial District. In a large city, a corner room is a bonus, although a view would help :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More nothing...

Well, the dead pine tree is still here (and still dead, for the record). The winds have died down, so we're not quite sure what happened to the axe-man.

So, in lieu of tree removal stories, I present a photo from my latte-run this morning. The photo doesn't really need explanation, although I am curious if there is something intentional about the car and its banged up state. The car has been in the same spot for a few days, so I'm suspicious that it was planted there for some artistic or commercial reason. Perhaps I'm just trying to stretch this rather mundane story into an entire post :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

With great fanfare...nothing happened...

After weeks of anticipation, this tree was NOT cut down today. It was NOT carefully disassembled limb by dead limb. It was NOT lifted up over nervous rooftops by a skillful crane.

Nope. After our neighbor notified us that this dead pine tree would come out starting at 8am this morning, we returned home to a view of a dead pine tree.

The world's events do not seem to be aware of my blogging needs.

[Update: Our theory now is that today's periodic high winds most likely squashed the tree extraction. Tonight, the gusts are particularly we listen to the dead limbs creak. We're sure glad that OUR house isn't downhill from the tree!]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Chickening out...

I have been wanting to eat at Town Hall in SF for quite some time. Its one of those cozy SF restaurants that written up in every foodie magazine. The menu is a broad range of comfort-inspired foods...highlighted (in my humble opinion) by their fried chicken. Nevertheless, its also on the pricey side ($20-25 entrees), so its not an everyday stop.

So, when some of my dear colleagues dropped in for a meeting--welcome to Karen and Ed and Ken and Sandy--then I jumped at the excuse for a fun evening out. There wasn't a disappointed palette at our table. In short, the fried chicken was amazing, which means that I'll have to have a runoff with Firefly's fried chicken, which I raved about in a previous post.

The great thing about having friends visit is that conversations go quickly beyond the normal work chatter and into the bizarre corners of our personalities. Last night was no exception. The conversation ran the gamut from the code of ethics for evil beings (yes, apparently they live by a code of conduct) to the monetary cost of sin (a 12% surcharge according to one private school).

Hmmm, perhaps that was the mojitos talking :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Squirrels gone wild...

One of my odd evening rituals is to fall asleep by reading the Yahoo news headlines on my Treo. Believe me...a few short pages and I am out like a light.

But one of tonight's headlines was truly blogworthy: "Squirrel goes on rampage, injures three". This story from the Reuters desk in Berlin told the riveting story of "an aggressive squirrel [that] attacked and injured three people in a German town" before being killed by a 72-year-old man's crutch. all fairness...this was closely followed by "Toddler served margarita in a sippy cup."

I love getting my news from the Internet. Global warming? Never heard of it. But I do know that one of Milan's airports was closed when its runways were overrun with mating wild rabbits.

Muy Bonita...

In pleasant contract with Saturday's cool foggy weather, today was brilliant from start to finish. Sure, you could quibble with the slight lingering haze, but that's for glass-half-full types.

We ventured across the Golden Bate Bridge and into the Marin Headlands to visit a craggy piece of land that sticks out into the entrance of the Bay. Firmly atop this sliver of rock is the Point Bonita lighthouse. Built in 1855, this lighthouse was originally accessed via a natural rocky path, which eroded away. In 1954, a suspension bridge (below) was constructed. Today, the Park Service tightly controls foot traffic over this creaky bridge...only two people are allowed on the bridge at once...which can lead to some queues at both ends.

After our visit to Point Bonita, we drove into Sausalito for lunch at our favorite waterfront restaurant--Paradise Cove. We got a perfect table right on the water, looking out at the sailboats.

On the drive home, I spotted this rickety old VW van being carried home to roost in San Francisco.

I also had to share this shot of Matthew catching a cat nap as we sat in a tiny bit of bridge traffic.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I was reading my favorite travel magazine--Conde Nast Traveler--on the flight home from San Diego yesterday. One side-bar in particular caught my attention...some preparation notes from a famous restaurant in Montreal where the chef takes great pride in creating unique dishes using every part of the pig...and I mean EVERY part. Here are my three favorite preparations:

1. Head: "Saw top off skull; remove brains; rinse brains under cold running water for three hours. Poach brains. Boil head until meat leaves bone. Cut off ears; peel skin off tongue. Press ears for 12 hours, then dehydrate for 6 more in 100 degree oven. Use liquid to cook meatballs and beans. Fry in pork fat.meatballs and beans. Fry in pork fat. Serve tongue, head meat, and diced skin with meatballs, beans, and fried ears."

2. Tail: "Cook, wrapped in caul fat, and stuff with foie gras."

3. Brains: "Scramble with eggs into a dripping, creamy omelet."

Mmmmmm, mmmmmmm, good! That's good pig. (I had chicken for dinner last night.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Crisis over...

I'm pleased to say that an afternoon cat nap and a complimentary glass of wine at the Hilton HHonors evening reception cured my crankiness. Back to being Happy John :)

[Update: I've come to a sad realization. After I posted this entry, my headache returned, so I cried uncle and ran downstairs to the Hilton gift shop. I bought Excedrin and a Starbucks Doubleshot. One (or both) of these totally erased my headache. Hmmm, since I didn't have a latte this morning (recall the forgotten wallet), can someone say caffeine withdrawal. Sigh, I hope not...I only have one silly latte in the morning...its one of my daily pleasures.

Also, James requested a happy photo to reflect my improved mood. I don't have photos from St. Michaels on my how about a Bay to Breakers pic with a Stranger getting goosed by another Stranger.]

Cranky pants...

Dateline: Mission Valley, San Diego...I have a splitting headache and am officially grumpy. This is in spite of good client meetings, refreshing drinks with friend Rob, and amazing Southern California weather. Unfortunately, I also left my wallet in the hotel this morning, so I haven't service is on the way. In the is the lovely hill behind the Hilton.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Buying time with a smile...

What better way to ask your loyal readers' forgiveness for slow posts than to send in my nephew Benjamin with his adorable smile. These shots are from the fantastic family weekend on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I've got some amazing shots (including a dramatic lightening show)...but you have to be patient...more business travel in the meantime :(

OK, well...after looking through my pictures and Jeff's, I've decided that I like Jeff's pics of Benjamin better. Anyway...Hi Ben :)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

More jelly please...

I got a couple of requests for pictures of jellyfish sans people. Unfortunately, I didn't take too many of those, but I think these came out nicely.