Archive | February, 2012

February 15, 2012

15 Feb

So I’m living out in SF for the next 3 months for work, which is amazing because the weather here is like summer and I get to hang out with K&D every day.  I moved to SF about 2 weeks ago, and it’s been quite the eventful few weeks – I guess I moved here at a good time because my social life has been booming, and I have had stuff going on practically every day since I got here, unlike my sedentary NYC lifestyle of just drinking and watching TV every day.

Week 1:

  • Sat 1/28: The night I arrived was D’s 30 on 30 golden bday, so almost straight from the airport I head to pregame with D and friends, followed by Japanese BBQ dinner, followed by karaoke in Japantown, where half the party blacked out and couldn’t remember the rest of the night.

Japanese BBQ

Raw meat mmmm.....

  • Sun: D’s bday brunch at Paul K, followed by a relaxing afternoon in the Mission drinking screw cap red wine out of a brown bag and eating Bi-Rite ice cream in front of a liquor store.
  • Mon: Homemade pizza by K while watching a great episode of The Bachelor.
  • Tues: D got us free tickets to go see the Warriors play the Sacramento Kings, which was fun.
  • Wed: Catching up on TV
  • Thurs: Catching up on TV
  • Fri: D invited us to his Wells Fargo work happy hour at Nectar, where we had several flights of red wine with the most delicious bacon wrapped dates, truffle popcorn and flatbread I had ever had, all on the company.
  • Sat: Two back-to-back reunions with the first being a Harvard 06 SF reunion that I crashed and surprised people like ex-college roommate N and others who were like wtf are you doing here.  This interesting reunion was followed by an interesting high school reunion with people I didn’t give a shit about, but I went with K anyway because our wealthy private school was throwing all our tuition money towards an incred happy hour of free-flowing wine, bacon wrapped shrimp, flatbread, cheese platter, hummus platter and chocolate truffles at the Press Club.

Week 2:

  • Sun 2/5: Obvs Super Bowl Sunday, which was great fun hanging out with K/D’s friends and having incred BBQ including sausage, steak, tri tip, beer dip galore, and of course, a keg.  More important than the fact that the Giants won was the fact that I secured my SF juice buddy T at this event, whose riveting talks of his big d fascinated me and inspired me to learn more.
  • Mon: Catching up on TV
  • Tues: Catching up on TV
  • Wed: Juicing T
  • Thurs: Gatsby party with K for her bday, where we were the only two non-blackout people at this event; seriously, this was supposed to be a networking event, but it reminded me of some sorority party on crack where girls were literally falling all over the floor and humping and accidentally making out with each other in the corner – quite the event.
  • Fri: Happy hour again with D’s work friends, same place same food, where I hit on D’s coworker Q for a good hour before I realized he had a vegan, “only eats gluten-free foods” gf – she sounds awful and he should probably break up with her.  He even had my fav Faulkner character’s name – obvs it was meant to be.  Caddy smells like trees.  I got frustrated and juiced T that night instead.
  • Sat: Bday dinner for K at Tortilla Heights, where I had the biggest burrito I have ever seen – that thing should be on Man v. Food.

Huge Burrito

  • Sun: K’s bday brunch at Park Chalet for all you can eat and all you can drink mimosas, where we spent a lovely afternoon enjoying Sunday Funday and filling up glass after glass of mimosas.

Brunch Buffet

In my very eventful 2 weeks, here are the over-generalizations I’ve decided are 100% truth re: living in SF vs. living in NYC.

Pros:

  1. It’s summer here when it’s miserable in NYC – last weekend I literally tanned outside by my apt complex pool in my bikini for 4 hours and wasn’t cold for a second.
  2. You can’t beat walking along the bay every morning to work and on the way back – unlike the Hudson River, there aren’t rotting Jersey carcasses in it and it’s a really beautiful walk.
  3. Everyone in my office gets in at like 9:30am and literally everyone peaces out by 4:30/5:00pm, so you are pretty much guaranteed to make happy hours on any given day.
  4. Everywhere I go I see Marina guys (aka Fiddlesticks/UES d-bag type, which I love), and somehow it is a lot easier to get laid here.
  5. I get to hang out with K&D every day!

Cons:

  1. Cabs are expensive here because they are everywhere in the US except within Manhattan – I took a cab out somewhere that was 15 mins away and paid $17.  I nearly cried.
  2. The delivery situation here is really not ideal.  Seamless has a limited presence, and GrubHub sucks.  My loyalty lies with Seamless, so sometimes I actually have to walk somewhere to go get food vs. having an ethnic guy bring it to me, which I am getting really frustrated with.  Also, the other day, I ordered some Chinese dinner special beef and broccoli, and I swear there was zero MSG in it and they gave me brown rice without me asking for it – I threw it out in disgust.
  3. People majorly judge you if you don’t go cycling or recycling, both of which I actively don’t do.

We’ll see if the weather/guy situation outweighs the cab/delivery conundrum, but so far it’s looking ok.

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February 7, 2012

7 Feb

ISTANBUL — Your World Is 360

And the first and final lesson we learned in Istanbul during our lovely trip:  Everyone is an “entrepreneur”

One thing we noticed in Istanbul is that no one seems to have a legit job.  In the one week we were there, not once did we see someone in a suit, not once did we see someone in scrubs, and not once did we see a woman looking like she was going to work.  Given the overabundance of lamb and snake fish in this country, we came to the conclusion that Turkish people were all either shepherds or fishermen, or they owned kabob stands.

This theory was confirmed the only night we actually met locals at a “club.”

Even before we got to Istanbul, this restaurant called 360 was all the talk.  Literally everyone we talked to who had been to Istanbul before was like, YOU MUST GO TO 360, IT IS AMAAAZING.  When we arrived to Istanbul, at least 5 other people told us the same thing – our hotel concierge, our tour guide at Topkapi Palace, our waiter at the meatball shop, the Starbucks lady, and a random dude and his 70-year-old father.  With 360 being literally the hottest spot in town, we agreed it was a must-do on our agenda.

When we get there, I get a serious flashback to NYC circa 2007 when I frequented the meat packing district every weekend.  First of all, let me mention that it took us forever to find this place because it turns out 360 is, naturally, located in the penthouse of an apartment building in the middle of the busiest street of Istanbul.

360 Entrance

We were greeted on the top floor by 3 non-black bouncers and a full-on metal detector, and then the minute we stepped into the restaurant/lounge/ club/apartment, I felt like I was in a coked out 230 Fifth meets Gansevoort (meat packing Gansevoort, not Kim Kardashian Gansevoort).  Because it was NYE, there were decorations out the wazoo, like disco balls, real angel wings, red glittery hearts and silver stars everywhere.  Actually, now that I think about it, it was more like 230 Fifth meets Gansevoort meets 7th grade Bar Mitzvahs at the Grand Kempinski.

Bar Mitzvah

We sit down, and we’re presented with a menu of “Waters of the World.”  It felt like Bob Sinclair “World, Hold On.”  Seriously, this was ridiculous.  I mean someone just please fucking get me some tap water.

Waters of the World

Then we were presented with literally a book of specialty cocktails in superhero comic book style.  My emotions were so mixed at this point I had no idea how to feel about this place.  I order the yeni raki cocktail with beet and then the duck as my entree because I didn’t want lamb — it was good, but not anywhere near as delicious as the duck breast that roommate L cooks up at home.  At this point I was really confused as to why 360 was all that.

Beet Yeni Raki

360 Duck

Before we even finish dinner, the waiters start hustling us out because they need to convert the restaurant into a pumpin’ night club, and so out of spite, W orders another drink to keep us at the table while the club is quickly filling up with people all around us and our table is just standing there solo with three American girls sitting around it in the middle of the dance floor.  Finally we decide to get up, multiple waiters literally swoop in to take away our table, and we’re left standing with our drinks with a dance floor full of sober people without drinks because everyone is strict Muslim in this country.

We’re awkwardly standing around, and these two Turkish guys approach us – one who speaks impressively good English and wearing a suit, and the other not such a good English speaker and with the worst garlic breath I had ever encountered.  We left W to speak with garlic breath over there, while M and I chatted with the English speaker.  I was mainly interested to hear about his profession since this was the first person we had seen in this entire country wearing a suit.  He must be a banker or a lawyer.

Wrong.  He was a carpet dealer.  He sells magic carpets.  Figures.  And garlic breath supposedly was an “entrepreneur.”  Of course.  Because no one fucking works in this country!!!  The worst slash most amazing part of this exchange is that when we ask his name, he responds “My name is Justine, but you can call me Justin.”  Great, we finally thought we were finally being hit on by some locals, and turns out one is an unemployed Quasimodo and the other is a gender ambiguous Aladdin.

Unfortunately, they totally saw us as their Disney princesses.  When Justine over here learns we’re from NYC, the first question he jumps at us with is “ARE YOU FROM BLEECKER STREET?!?!”  I had never met someone with such enthusiasm for Bleecker Street.  Good street, I guess.  And of course he is also super excited that M works at Christie’s Auction House, and starts trying to talk carpet business.  While we made fun, Justine really was M’s perfect match – world traveler, loves carpets as much as she does, wears suits, has a full head of hair, and takes a keen interest in her both personally and professionally.  I’m still wishing for their magic carpet ride hummus-abundant wedding that will hopefully happen in the near future.

All in all, Istanbul was an incredible holiday trip.  With these key lessons learned, if I ever go back to Istanbul again, I know I will be better prepared.

February 6, 2012

6 Feb

ISTANBUL — The 360 Experience (continued)

Lesson #2:  Turkish bath houses are not spas.

On New Year’s Eve, M had the brilliant idea of spending a lovely, relaxing spa day at famous Turkish bath house Cagaloglu to pamper ourselves before NYE night out.  We were really excited for spa day, and we all purchased the full service package including exfoliation and massage.

So, we walk into the Turkish bath house in our tiny towels, and we walk into this:

Turkish Bath House

It was literally the gayest thing I had ever seen.

In the female zone the masseuses were all old Turkish women with triple D-cup saggy tits, and so were all the female customers.  It was super awk.  One look at this uncomfortably erotic situation and M immediately went back upstairs to change into her swimsuit.  W didn’t bring a swimsuit, but she very aggressively insisted she keep her bra and underwear on, despite the masseuse’s attempt to rape her undergarments off.  I, on the other hand, with my overly unnatural sense of comfort and joy with nudity, decided to embrace this opportunity to get a full tit scrub like I’d never gotten before (or rather, like I’d never gotten since the first year I moved to NYC and got seriously tat slapped by some dude who very wrongfully thought he was pleasing my boobs).

The exfoliation treatment was an interesting one.  It wasn’t so much a treatment as the old Turkish lady taking a rough cloth and seriously rubbing my entire body down.  Even though it was supposed to be a full body exfoliation, she sure did seem to be concentrating hard on my chest area and neglecting other areas that needed some dead skin cell sloughing …

… like the BOTTOMS OF MY FEET you sick fucks.

After she rubbed off the entire top layer of my entire body, she moved on to the “massage,” which was not so much a massage as a rubbing of my body with lukewarm soap water.  Apparently massage oil doesn’t exist in this country.  So that was awk too, and once again my flat chest got significantly more attention than the rest of my body did.  The soap water dried out my skin so badly that I had to completely lube up post-spa to bring the moisture back into my body.

I’m not sure this experience was the “spa day” we were looking for, but we sure were sparkling clean and raw.

February 5, 2012

5 Feb

ISTANBUL — The 360 Experience (continued)

Lesson #3:  You won’t ever find anything you’re looking for.

I’m not going to lie – Istanbul was a nightmare to sight-see on foot.  The streets are impossible to navigate, the street signs are all hidden, and none of the locals know anything.  We would get lost, so we would ask a local where X was – he would tell us, “Oh really close!  200 meters, just straight ahead!”  Oh great!  We would walk 200m, still no sign of X, walk a little further, still no sign of X, walk 30 minutes further, still no sign of X.  So then we would ask someone else.  “Oh really close!  200 meters, just straight ahead!”  Ok………  We would walk 200m, still no sign of X, I’m about to kill someone, still no sign of X, so W asks someone else.  “Oh really close!  200 meters, just straight ahe—“  BANG.  And that is how homicides happen in Istanbul.

I’m just kidding, they don’t let you bring guns on planes.

Needless to say, I got more exercise during this trip than I had in the past 10 years, we literally were not able to find about 1/3 of the items on our Istanbul to-do list, and we ended up spending half our budget on cabs.  I may or may not have missed NYC terribly.

February 4, 2012

4 Feb

ISTANBUL — The 360 Experience (continued)

Lesson #4:  Never leave anything up to the waiter.

One of the nights, we went to this restaurant where M&W both really wanted chicken curry.  M orders chicken curry, and our waiter is like “Ohhhh so sorry, no curry today.”  And M’s like, “Oh, do you have lamb curry instead?”  Waiter’s like, “No curry, sorry.”  But M was insistent and persistent, as she had learned on Day 1 that Turkish men respond well (i.e., fear) aggressive women with a strong voice – and M really wanted her fucking curry.  So the waiter feels bad and finally agrees, “Ok, ok I make curry, I go get curry for you.”

Sound sketchy?  It was.  Where was he going to “get this curry.”  I looked at M and shook my head.  What came out was definitely not chicken curry.  It was something like chicken skewers with some weird mustard sauce drizzled on top.  Improvising off the menu is not the way to go in this city.

That same night, I also made the mistake of leaving my menu up to the waiter.  I had been wanting to try some seafood for a few days now since apparently it’s amazing in Istanbul – really fresh, etc.  I asked the waiter which fish he recommended, and he told me either #105 or #111, which were turbot and lagos.  The English translation was there, but I had never heard of turbot or lagos before, so I told him that as long as it was white fish, I would be ok with it.

When my dinner comes out, along with M’s weird mustard chicken, the waiter goes, “This is SNAKE FISH” and makes a snake motion (elongated motion with his hands, that’s what she said).  The minute he said that, I nearly threw up.  What the fuck was snake fish, and why did I order this.  I look down at my plate, and not even Poverexia can get the image of a snake out of my head.  The fish just looks like one huge, fat eel, fried and chopped up into disgusting chunks.

Snake Fish

I took one bite out of courtesy, then immediately ordered some more yeni raki, which is the traditional Turkish ouzo-like, very strong licorice liquor, and drank that for my meal instead.

That night when we were back at our hotel, M&W were curious as to what exactly turbot and lagos were and which one was the snake fish.  We Googled it, only to find that turbot is a kind of flounder, and lagos is a type of grouper.  What?  I was confused.  So which one was snake fish???

After group contemplating for about 30 minutes, M&W and I came to the conclusion that basically the waiter gave me neither #105 nor #111 – instead, he was just fucking with me and gave me something totally different and disgusting instead.  M Googled snake fish, and here’s what I apparently ate:

Snakehead Fish

Lesson learned.  Never trust your waiters.

February 3, 2012

3 Feb

ISTANBUL — The 360 Experience

I got into Istanbul in the middle of the night after taking a late flight from Amsterdam, to find that the hotel that we had found on hotels.com was apparently located right in the middle of the clubbing district and directly on top of a night club booming with loud techno music.  A chill of excitement ran through me – I felt at home.  It took me back to my middle school days when I first fell in love with clubbing in Mexico City.  My college roommates know techno is my comfort music – I used to study to techno, go running to techno, and sleep to techno.  I slept like a baby that night, with the lively Turkish nightlife booming through our hotel windows.

I was greeted by M&W the next morning, who hated the techno music and hated our hotel.  They got zero sleep.  Sleep deprived or not, we were all ready to start our day early with a full itinerary of activities during our 6 days in Istanbul.  We had so much on our agenda – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market, etc etc etc.  Honestly, how did one city have so many tourist sites.

To summarize our Istanbul trip, M&W and I compiled a list of 5 key learnings.

Let’s start with #5: People only eat lamb here.

We soon found out after Day 2 that in Istanbul, people eat one thing, and one thing only: LAMB.  Lamb kebob, lamb chops, lamb stew, lamb curry, lamb meatballs.  Literally every single restaurant in the entire city carries the exact same lunch and dinner menu – the same set of mezes, or appetizers, which included things like hummus, tzatziki , eggplant, etc, and then lamb 4 ways with the exact same side of 1 grilled green pepper, 1/2 slice of grilled tomato, and 5 french fries.  Yes, exactly 5 french fries.  Everywhere we went.

Mezes #1

Mezes #2

Mezes #3

Mezes #4

Lamb Curry

Lamb Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs Again

Lamb Chops

Lamb Stew

I thought this was some dream come true when I first arrived.  W literally ate lamb meatballs for every single meal for the first 4 days of the trip.  But after Day 5, all we wanted was a fucking salad.  Seriously.  I thought I would never say that.  I mean does anyone in this entire country eat anything other than lamb jesus fucking christ.

On our last day, we even tried to go to an American diner to get a burger or something different, and what came out on our plates was a lamb burger.

Lamb Burger

Sick.

Lesson #5 learned.  And lessons #4 through #1 to come.