Archive for the 'New York' Category

Feb 09 2009

New York weekend

Published by under New York

I spent this year’s Super Bowl driving on I-95, which means that No, I did not see “the best five minutes of football ever it was so awesome and I can’t believe you missed it!!!!!” but thanks for asking. Brittany and I were driving home from New York City, where we had spent the weekend visiting Greg and Yasmine, friends of ours from college. The drive from Richmond is about six hours, which wouldn’t be too bad except that we had to make it up on Friday and back on Sunday. On the bright side, the drive home on Sunday night was shortened by the fact that we were just about the only ones on the highway. Everyone else was at home watching this “bEst EvER!!! ahaghdghskdj!!!!!” football game I keep hearing so much about.

But hold on! We may have missed the game, but we had fun too! To let me feel like I am proving it, please enjoy the following highlights from our New York weekend.

Brooklyn Brewery
If beer were melodic vocal stylings, then Brooklyn Brewery would be the late Luther Vandross. Except Brooklyn Brewery is alive and well, innovating its way into your heart and mine. If you like beer when it’s full of rich flavor, fresh ideas, rainbow dollops, and molten Leprechaun gold, then Brooklyn Brewery is for you. It’s a surprisingly small brewery given that it distributes widely here in Virginia and beyond, but thank goodness that it does. Any given weekend, I may be found sipping a Brooklyn pint down at the local watering hole. Brooklyn Brown is my personal favorite, but I like the fact that the brewery is always good for seasonal and conceptual beers, which often make it alllll the way down South of the Mason-Dixon line. Where I drink them. Hooray beer!

Brooklyn brewery
Hooray beer!

Given that Brooklyn Brewery = Luther Vandross, it was clear that we had to pay homage to greatness during our short time in NYC. The brewery visit is unlike others I have heard about, because you don’t actually tour the brewery beyond two giant rooms. The first giant room contains tables, chairs, and a bar. The second giant room is off-limits unless you are accompanied by a tour guide. At the top of every hour, the tour guide collects all interested parties for the “tour,” and then brings you into the second room, which is full of shiny metal cylinders and scientific contraptions that, when combined, somehow yield beer. The tour guide stands on top of a platform and talks about beer in a loud voice for about twenty minutes, pausing every so often to remind the audience that the giant vat of brown liquid in the middle of the room is NOT beer, but in fact, iodine. Then the tour is over and you go back to the first giant room. Also, you might think that a brewery tour would include free beer sampling, but in this case you would be wrong. So why exactly is this worth visiting?

Because you get to try beers that DON’T usually make it all the way to Virginia. I think the Brooklyn Brewery bar is not legally allowed to stay open all day, selling tons of beer and no food. So they don’t. Instead, they sell tons of cork tokens all day, which can then be TRADED for beer. See how that works? We traded our cork tokens for beers including the mysterious Blunderbuss Old Ale (dark and smoky, 8.2% ABV) and the delightful Savoir Faire (a taste of bananas, 8% ABV). The first giant room with the bar was PACKED with locals playing cards on the tables, so we stood around double-fisting plastic cups until we had spent all of our cork tokens. We also used this opportunity to purchase souvenirs like bottle openers, coasters, and beer to take home. I think Brooklyn Brewery was happy to have us that day.


Leaving Wicked!
NOT the wicked witch

Brittany and I took in our first Broadway show two years ago when we saw Rent. And since Brittany is STILL singing those songs on a daily basis, I was banking on this trip as my best chance to put some new songs into her head for once. We’d heard good things about Wicked from several sources, not the least of which our NYC-based friends Lois and Hadar, who have managed to see the show eight times so far. Eight times can’t be wrong, right?

Right! The show was an amazing spectacle. I can’t get over the production value of Broadway shows: from the talent level of the very last actor to the gigantic twisting, growling mechanical head of the Wizard of Oz to the monkeys who flew right over our heads. Where Rent was intimate and personal, Wicked is blow-your-mind theater magic. We loved both.

It wouldn’t be us if we didn’t attempt to spend every waking hour of our trip stuffing our faces! Greg took us and his brother on something of a “meats of the world” gastronomical excursion on Saturday. We shared a mountainous plate of corned beef and sauerkraut at the Carnegie deli for lunch, followed by an afternoon snack of German sausages at a Biergarten. Pork sausage, veal sausage, venison sausage…all with more sauerkraut, lots of beer, and even more groans from Brittany. During the meat and beer-filled hours we spent between both restaurants, I think she ordered a hot chocolate. Sorry Brittany!

Look familiar?

All was not lost for her: we ate a fun brunch at the diner from Seinfeld! Well…sort of. See, it’s the diner that they used for the outside shot on Seinfeld, but walking inside is kind of a disappointment because it looks nothing like the show. No booth for Jerry and the gang and no cranky old cashier lady. Just a huge crowd of Columbia students, a harried waitstaff, and some Seinfeld magazine covers on the wall. Oh well. Brittany says the shots from inside the diner were probably filmed on a “set,” but whatever that may mean, I don’t understand it and I won’t respond to it.

Until next time, New York! Which will probably be just about the moment I can’t take hearing Brittany sing the Wicked soundtrack one more time…

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Feb 05 2009

The Ultimate Bar Arm Wrestling World Championships New York City Woot!!

Published by under New York

We sat around a cramped table in a crowded Lower East Side bar, where Ben and I had met up with some old school friends. We were tired and sore from a full day of exploring NYC. We’d just ordered our last round of beers. The night was winding down. Our friend Greg, however, was determined to keep it going.

“Hey, you guys,” Greg said, pointing a finger at my friend Yasmine and me. “Arm wrestle.”

My initial reaction to pretty much any suggestion Greg makes is more along the lines of “go away” but I was too tired to argue. Leaving the inevitable protestations up to Yasmine, I laughingly propped my elbow on the table and opened my hand.

Of course, I forgot that Yasmine is the type of girl that would TOTALLY GO FOR IT. A barely-five-foot-tall curly-headed bundle of sass and energy, Yasmine is at one moment dragging you out on the dance floor against your will, at the next delivering a highly-opinionated diatribe on any given subject, and at the next laughing at your fart jokes.

So while most of my girlfriends would scoff at Greg, Yasmine laughed and grabbed my hand. She then beat me handily. A fact that should embarrass me, but I’ve always been admired more for my mental fortitude than my physical fortitude. Right? Guys??

Years of torment at the hands of his older sister
vindicated with this one sweet, sweet victory.

What happened next is obvious: a full-fledged arm wrestling competition ensued. Sweeping our pile of coats and scarves to the side and clearing away the empty beer glasses, an unofficial bracket formed. In the end, Greg emerged as the bar-arm-wrestling champion OF THE WORLD.

That is, until his brother returned from getting a beer. Now, while Greg got the height, Andrew (his brother) got the beef. Plus, he lifts refrigerators for a living. Clearly, it wasn’t even necessary to include Andrew in the bracket until the championship round. Andrew was kind enough to let Greg feel like he had a chance before dominating him completely.

We emerged from the bar red-faced and sweaty. Not from mingling or dancing or anything normal. From arm wrestling.

I love visiting college friends.

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