It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With restaurant menus rewritten
And everyone telling you “Restaurant week’s here”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

So umm… yeah, I love Stamford Restaurant week and wish it went on all summer long like NYC’s seems to.  I raced home on Friday so we could kick off restaurant week with my old standby / favorite Stamford Restaurant, Market (though the food tasted a lot better when it first opened several years ago).  And found out they weren’t having restaurant week (fix your website Stamford Downtown website!).  But that was okay by me because my favorite foods weren’t on the restaurant week menu anyway.

I started off with the Bacon and Eggs Appetizer as per usual and then for dinner I had two more apps…

Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Shrimp Ceviche, Mango, and Cilantro and…

Millionaires Mac & Cheese with Black Truffle Shavings.  See, I do love my apps.

Then I followed up with my favorite dessert: arrangements of mini ice cream cones.  Also on the list was the Momofuko Crack Pie.  Yay for shoot outs to my secret lover David Chang!

I dub it 4 spam musubis*

*Based on other restaurants in the Stamford-area.

Eek!  I am so happy right now.  Please bear with the LONG post showing my excitement because I have the greatest Labor Day Weekend plans ever.  I’m going camping.  Sort of.  Camping Troop Beverly Hills style.  (BTW – one of the all time cinematic greats, which coincidentally also documents Tori Spelling pre-nose job).

But first I will give you pointless background of my growing up years.  You see, I grew up loving to go camping.  We would pack up our tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, clothes, and food and then… turn off all the lights and go camping in our house (or out in our backyard or deck).

Because of this love of camping, I became a camp counselor in high school.  (We basically had “If-you-really-knew-me” in a camp setting.  Much cooler.)  I always signed up to be on kitchen duty.  Considering I didn’t yet know how to cook, you may ask why I wouldn’t request a much more fun and relaxing job such as dance coordinator or DJ?  BECAUSE the kitchen team got to use the real bathrooms at the camp and electricity.  And when the rest of the camp had to complete a 2 mile run or work the ropes course, the kitchen team went to the beach instead.  (And for this I got school credit.)  But enough of my reminiscing.

Ryan has been wanting to go camping forever.  So much so that he even bought a tent for the occasion.  But we’ve been a little scared away by the fact that we are SOOO not hard core.  (In case that wasn’t clear from above.)

Then this past weekend I heard about the Malouf’s Mountain Sunset Campgrounds on TONY and knew it was perfect.  You hike into your camp site but THEY shuttle in your stuff for you.  Our campsite has a concrete platform with a tarp over it, a picnic table, chairs and a little kitchen nook with pans and plates and stuff.  They also have a community bathroom indoors (NO outhouses or woods) with hot water in the showers.  And the food!  They bring you food each day for you to cook on your own.

They have another site called the “primitive” site where they just have the picnic table – amidst nature – you gather your own firewood, bring your own EVERYTHING (you know, actual camping).  Since there were a lot of people vying for the few open spots at the non-campers camp site I asked Ryan if we should attempt “primative camping”.  His answer, “let’s be real.  I don’t think that’s going to work.”  He definitely had a point.

A conversation of sweet nothings on our Anniversary Dinner…

(Okay, okay, anniversary of 4 years and 1 month but as we are supposed to be saving money – I needed something to explain away going out to eat 3 times last week.)
R: I’m so glad my friends put up with you and don’t mind having you around.
Me: (Burst out laughing and nearly choke on my food.)
R: Huh?
Me: (Still laughing) I’m assuming you meant that in a much different way than it sounds because otherwise that was one of the most horrendous things you’ve ever said to me. It’s like – despite my complete and total awfulness, your friends are good enough to have me around.
R: It was a big deal at (wedding in Hawaii that Ryan went to after his brother’s that resulting in him lying on the beach for a week while I went back to work – no, not jealous – not at all). Apparently some of my friends didn’t bring their significant others because a lot of other people in the group can’t stand them. But you would have been welcome at the wedding if you came. So I stand by what I said – I’m really glad my friends put up with you.
Me: Yeah, not going to lie, this’ll probably get blogged about.

So this is currently going on near my office.  And when I say “this” I mean a bunch of teenie boppers lined up outside of the VIP access area of MSG in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Bieber*.

As I can’t tell you a single song he sings, this boy just makes me feel really old.

*I even had to research the spelling. No clue.

Ryan decided it was time to do some damage at his favorite store Charles Tyrwhitt (located in Manhattan) so we made plans to meet up afterwards and finally got back to our weekly dinners in the city (put on hold due to someone’s* extended Friday work schedule).

*Cheers for it not being mine!

Looking for a place close to my work, Grand Central, and Charles Tyrwhitt, we ended up choosing Oceana, a seafood restaurant in a beautiful space near Rockefeller Center.

They started us off with a Mushroom Soup Amuse Bouche, which wasn’t quite as seasoned as I would have liked, but I always get excited by Amuse Bouches so…

I opted for the Hiramasa Crudo as my appetizer.  This was definitely the best part of my meal.  The fish was fresh and it was seasoned perfectly.  It also got me thinking.  I usually love appetizers but am not a huge dessert fan.  So my ideal meal would be to eat apps – entree – apps.  I really need to respond to a waiter’s question of “Do you want to see a dessert menu?” with “No thank you, I would like to see the appetizer menu again.”  Clearly I need to be more ballsy as this plan would make me much happier.

Next it was on to the main meal.  Recently I’ve tried to get into the habit of ordering what the restaurant specializes in.  So, if I’m at a fish restaurant, I order fish.  Ingenious concept… I know.

So I went with the Tapioca Crusted Halibut.  Best part about this place – they had a list of sauces on their menu and you could pick a sauce to go with your entree.  I love sauces.  Meals are not complete without sauces.  And one of the best sauces ever?  Hollandaise sauce.  I was in sauce heaven.

Since the meal was a la cart we also got Mexican Summer Corn Gratin, a new dish to the menu and extremely wonderful.

We also got Miso & Sesame Glazed Eggplant, which was equally yummy but I kept thinking it looked like sausages and would get weirded out by the non-sausage taste.  But this is clearly just my issue.

Thoughts?  The service was impeccable and the food was delicious, but for the price we sort of expected to receive a little bit more as it wasn’t a super fancy-schmancy restaurant.  If this restaurant was in Stamford I probably would be back multiple times, but since it’s in NYC with all the limitless food possibilities the city offers, it’s time for me to move on.

I dub it 3 spam musubis***

***brand new HawaiiGurlInCT rating system stemming from my love of Spam Musubi’s (in case that wasn’t extremely obvious).

I cleaned out my camera this weekend – finally moving pictures off my camera from as far back as March – and saw the random pictures taken during the end of August for blogging purposes.  So here’s what I’ve been up to:

Beer tasting.  My friends received a home brewing kit as a present and got busy over the last couple months brewing different beers.  It was really good.  And different.  I kind of want to brew my own beer now.

Gopher watching.  Bad picture – but until this, the closest I’ve come to seeing a gopher is from Caddyshack.

Rooftop bars in NYC (I’m going to miss the summer… despite its 90 degree yuckiness.)

There was also more eating (of course).  But I’ll save those for my next post.

Clearly when it comes to books I’m like the little follower kid in school that tries to keep up with all the popular kids but always ends up wearing clothes and getting hair cuts that were trendy the year before.  And so I finally finished this 500-pager by Curtis Sittenfeld a year after everyone else picked it up.

But if any of you don’t know, American Wife is a fiction novel based loosely on the life of Laura Bush.  It got so much rave reviews on tumblr and by my friends that I wanted to read it despite the fact that there is no love lost between me and Laura Bush since I dislike her husband… intensely.

I loved the book.  It was slow at times but that was possibly because I didn’t know the book was so long (I bought it for my iPad) and so 300 pages in I’m wondering why I’m still not close to the end.  Also I had to keep reminding myself the book was fiction.  Why?  Because I loved Alice Blackwell (a.k.a. Laura Bush).  And through her eyes I realized that her husband wasn’t a bad guy, even though we disagreed on all the sensitive issues out there.

So in summary, I loved the book, I loved Alice Blackwell, and in the future I may look for a book on Laura Bush that is more of the non-fiction variety to see if I love Laura Bush as well.