It was one of the nicer days in New York City, sunny, breezy and warm. We had just recovered from a hurricane and some bouts of rain. Work was not particularly stressful and I had a rare opportunity to step out for some lunch. I grabbed my coworker and off we went on a mission to buy some falafel.
We didn't get past one block before I found myself on the ground and in the street. I had slipped on a wet sloped curb and twisted my ankle. My coworker protected me from the traffic and helped me get on my feet. I took a moment to pause against a fire hydrant and catch my breath. I said I was okay, tried to mask any wince of pain my face showed and said, "I think I should go back to the office."
I felt defeated and embarrassed to tell people I fell for falafel. I did not want to look weak so I kept saying that I was fine. My coworkers got me a bag of ice from the deli and for the rest of the afternoon I nursed my ankle while it was propped up on a few boxes.
My ankle did not break. It was just swollen to the point where it looked like a baseball. The ice helped along with ibuprofren. For a week I took a tax/car service to/from work. It was tough for me to walk three avenues, eight flights of stairs, and some change.
Every day got a little bit better. For the first few days I felt pathetic and handicapped. I cancelled all my social engagements and walked like a turtle. Self deprication could only last so long and soon I was cracking jokes, smiling, and testing out how far I could walk without support and pausing.
I feel that mental state plays a big part in how fast you heal. I felt blessed that my fall did not put me in a worse state than I was already in. I was on my way to recovery and determined to be mobile for the upcoming week's festivities.
Earlier in the year, I found myself crying at work frustrated over certain things in my personal life. One of my coworkers said to me, "What's wrong? You're doing great. You don't realize it but you bounce back quickly. You're strong, brave, and fearless." It felt strange to hear these words come out from someone's mouth when they were about me but I've always remembered it and think about it when things get tough.
It was a year ago when I fell down. It was Fashion Night Out. When all the ladies were walking around Fifth Avenue shopping, I was at home, plans foiled, with my leg propped up on a pillow. Hey, I can walk now and I can walk fast, way faster than anyone in high heels.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
|Not me, just a stock photo found online.|
I found myself unemployed and desperate for a job. My livelihood in
depended on a stable income. Two weeks later I received an offer for a small
mom and pop business which seemed pretty solid. They had even given me an
option of what department I would like to work in. It was incredible. I was no
longer a small fish in a big pond but finally regarded as someone important. I
held the key to my own destiny and I chose prison life.
|Visiting Inmates Upstate|
What do I mean by prison life? I didn’t do anything illegal nor am I on death row but every day I deal with inmates on the federal level nationwide. I sell them clothing and footwear, not the orange jumpsuit kind, but athletic wear and Nikes. In a sense, I still work in fashion. My job is quite the conversation piece. Actually, that’s why I chose it; to be able to say I do something different and have stories to tell.
|The big underwear. If you only knew.|
|Sizing shoes before I ship them out.|
Friday, September 14, 2012
|Old school printing press|
historic? The town
is in its original state from as early as the late 1600s. Believe it or not,
the building structures of Richmond
have never been rebuilt or restructured. A walk around Historic
Richmond Town Richmond
Town feels like a trip back in time during
the colonial days when the Dutch, French, and English first took up residence
in Staten Island.
for their second Chili and BBQ Cook Off. During this two day affair,
various groups and local restaurants set their best recipes and cooking
techniques forward in hopes of winning a poker chip vote from the public. An
admission ticket granted unlimited tastings throughout the day. Historic
|Pier 76 and their chili pot|
There are many events that take place in
. Currently, there is a county fair going on. Events are meant to
foster community and awareness of Historic Richmond
Proceeds go towards preservation. The Staten Island Historical Society, the
City of Historic
Richmond Town New York, and an unnamed independent
nonprofit cultural organization oversee . Historic Richmond
|Cooper's White Work|
Sunday, September 9, 2012
|Meatopia and the Best Butcher Competition Stage|
I was impressed with last year's Meatopia and ecstatic over this year's. Meatopia gets better every year. Bigger, more organized, more impressive, and more expensive. Worth every penny. It's a chockfull of fun. Here are the highlights.
|Shane McBride: Smoked Duck Neck Gumbo w/ Wild Rice|
|Harold Moore: DUO OF SQUAB- Rillette of Dark Meat and Roasted Breast Ancienne|
|US Navy SEALs: Grilled Venison Steaks and Marinated Tenderloin|
|Gabriele Corcos & Debi Mazar: Pizza al Carpaccio w/ Certified Piedmontese Eye Round Beef|
|Paul Denamiel: Beef Shank Bourguignon|
|Chef Alex Guarnashchelli|
|Alex Guarnashelli: Canard a la Presse w/ Sauce Chasseur|
|Michael White for Osteria Morini: Grilled Hampshire Pork Cheeks w/ Late Summer Mostarda|
|Eduard Frauneder: Grilled Veal Breast w/ Arugula, Peach, and Rye Bread Mustard Vinaigrette|
|Justin Smillie: Spit-Roasted Short Ribs w/ Castelvetrano Olives, Celery, Walnuts and Horseradish|
|Joey Campanaro: Sangria Marinated Butcher Steak w/ Hearts of Romaine alla Caesar|
|Noah Bernamoff of Mile End: Sizzling Smoked Veal Brisket w/ Charred Garlic Scrapes|
|Rae Cohen of Mile End|
|The 1,000 pound steer of Pat LaFrieda|
|Pat LaFrieda: Marinated Creekstone Steer|
|April Bloomfield of The Breslin: Kansas City Style BBQ'd Whole Hog|
|April Bloomfield of The Breslin: KC Style BBQ Pork Slider w/ Slaw|
|Zak Pelaccio: Spit-roasted Duck w/ Lady Jayne's Cured Citrus|
I did not eat one bad thing at Meatopia. At the point of my fullness, I walked around for the last two hours salivating over Ilili, BZ Grill, Dinosaur BBQ, and a few others. I took a break to watch a bit of the Whole Foods Best Butcher Competition. After that, I stopped by Whole Foods' tent to just be in awe of their giant sausages and "World's Largest" Toppings Bar. Randall's Island served as a great stage for Meatopia. There was plenty of space and lots of trees that helped shield a little from the ghastly rain storm which turned the nice lawn into a muddy mess. Ah, true meat lovers did not flinch one bit. The meatfest (err, eating) continued.
Every now and then there is an event I just know I have to be a part of.
I arrived at the location, an apartment building in Brooklyn, without knowing who’s apartment I was going
to, a contact phone number, or an apartment number. Puzzled, my friend and I
scrolled through e-mails to find a way to contact our mutual friend. The
doorman, amused by us, saved the day by saying, “You must be here for Albert. There
are already a few people who have shown up.”
A few weeks ago I got an email that was an invitation for a dinner party. It was all very mysterious and intriguing. The hosts would be cooking a “New American” meal for everyone but first there would be a Ritz Crackeroff. What exactly was a Ritz Crackeroff? If you chose to participate you would have 30 minutes to assemble toppings of your choice on a Ritz Cracker. The crackers would then be voted by your peers and the one winner with the most votes would be referred to as whatever moniker they preferred for the rest of the evening. In this case it would be either “Your Highness,” “Your Majesty,” or “Your Master.”
|Host Chef Albert|
Off we went with eyebrows raised. We had no idea what to expect only that in
New York this was common. You show up with
an open mind and just go with the flow. The Ritz Cracker competition was about
There were eight of us participating. We had all brought our own ingredients and got to work. We were permitted use of the kitchen and whatever gadgets or appliances we needed. I had practiced my recipe earlier in the day. I called it A Picnic in
Tuscany. My concoction
was cream cheese based. I soaked sun dried tomatoes in olive oil and chopped
them up in a blender. I threw in red pepper flakes for spice. I mixed the
tomatoes with cream cheese and let it sit in the refrigerator to form. For
assembly, I put a dollop of sun dried tomato cream cheese on top of the Ritz cracker
and topped it with a pinch of dried basil and jalapeno cheddar pepperoni. The
result was favorable. Everyone said it belonged at an Oscar party.
|A Picnic in Tuscany|
I was amazed at everyone’s creation. None of us knew what each other was bringing. In fact, the majority of us were meeting for the very first time. Some did savory recipes. Some did sweet. A few drew from their cultures for inspiration and some were fueled purely by determination to impress. In the end we had a full on meal of Ritz Crackers from appetizers and main courses to dessert.
|Which one would you vote for?|
We had cucumber shrimp salad, salmon and lox, Thanksgiving, A Picnic in
Tuscany, Thai Mango chili, red wine figs and
brie, ribs with sour cream, and chocolate ganache with cannoli filling. Everyone
was given 20 Ritz Crackers. We had a choice between regular, low fat, and wheat
Ritz Crackers. It was interesting to see how each was paired and even more fun
tasting each contest entry.
The winning Ritz Cracker was ribs with sour cream made by @Stellaaa. She has a new blog called Cooking With Stella. Hopefully, she will post her winning recipe!
|Ribs flavored with Sriracha for a kick!|
The Ritz Crackeroff turned out to be a huge success. We were all full from the tastings and had bonded over the shared experience. If you ever need an ice breaker to start a dinner party, this would be a great one. Of course, the delectable bites didn’t stop there. We then moved on to a full sit down dinner of salad, barbecue chicken, grits and chorizo, vegetables, and sugar pie. How I love dinner parties but this one really took the cake!
Saturday, September 8, 2012
|Philadelphia Magic Gardens lower level|
Genius or Madman?
Visionary is the word in regards to artistry that can be used to describe Isaiah Zagar, the artist and mastermind behind the
. For the past 10 years, 72 year old Zagar has taken junk, bottles, tiles, dishes, sculpture,
mirrors, anything and everything and turned them into beautiful mosaics and
murals adorning the Philadelphia Magic
and surrounding Philadelphia
Magic Gardens South Street
neighborhood. Even the ceiling of the building has been
transformed into a mosaic. Zagar’s work is distinct and provides many messages
cultural, political, and sentimental. Zagar’s approach to his art and the
community, however, is another story. Genius or Madman? Everyone has their own
opinion. Philadelphia Magic
Visionary is the word in regards to artistry that can be used to describe Isaiah Zagar, the artist and mastermind behind the
|Zagar's ode to 9/11|
Zagar is an artist with a one track mind and mission. If he sees a wall or an empty plot of land and wants it, he will do whatever it takes to have it. There have been times in the past where Zagar has seized a blank slate like a graffiti artist and started working. It is also common that he commemorates people from the community into his mosaics and murals. Guy with tools and cap look familiar? He’s the local plumber. Imagine seeing yourself one day in a 50 foot mosaic mural. What a surprise that would be.
I stumbled upon the
on my last Philly trip. The center was closed and I was only able to peer in
from the outside gates. I managed to snap some pictures and when I found out
you could take a tour of the grounds, I vowed to come back and center my next
day trip around the Philadelphia
Magic Gardens . Philadelphia
For $10 you get a private tour of the building and
South Street neighborhood. The tour will
take anywhere from one and a half hours to two if you go overtime. The walking
tour covers quite a bit of ground so plan accordingly. Bring water with you, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a stroller if you have small children. The tour must be booked in advance.
is also open to the public for self guided viewing for a mere admission cost of
$5. Philadelphia Magic Gardens
|Mike Mattio - Zagar's Plumber|
is a non-profit organization and definitely worth a look when in the area. Great
for photography buffs, families, art enthusiasts, and anyone who loves
something shiny and interesting. Philadelphia