Twelve years later anniversary dinners have gone from Michelin-star-make -reservations-months-in-advance-in-NYC-and-sell-your-first-born-to-pay-for-it to a no reservations needed (yet still awesome) Ethiopian restaurant with a hangry kid in tow and...

Twelve years later anniversary dinners have gone from Michelin-star-make
-reservations-months-in-advance-in-NYC-and-sell-your-first-born-to-pay-for-it to a no reservations needed (yet still awesome) Ethiopian restaurant with a hangry kid in tow and ice cream afterwards and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy anniversary Ryan!!! 💕💕💕 Thank you for 12 crazy and amazing years.

Anniversary weekend 2013

My anniversary came at a good time this year, landing on the day my deliverables were due for the quarter, which means that despite rushing in to work Sunday night to finish a couple of odds and ends, I finally had some time off this weekend. So we kicked off our celebration a couple days early by heading out of town on Friday in order to go to…. Brooklyn. I know, I know… I got a lot of eyebrow raises when I told my friends as well, but honestly it was a place I always wanted to spend more time in, but just seemed too far away to make an effort.

So Friday night started off with a check in at Nu Hotel, the most awesome place in that it came with a room service list with more mixed drinks than food, a free continental breakfast, chalk board wall in the bathroom, AND a hammock! The only downside… it was located across from the Brooklyn detention center. Say WHAT?! At least with all the cops swarming around, you felt protected.


That hammock was dangerous! I sat in it while waiting for Ryan for 5 minutes. I woke up 2 hours later.

Saturday started out with a stroll through the brooklyn heights promenade with gorgeous views of Manhattan. This picture doesn’t show it but there was free kayaking going on below – although free meant huge line!


Next up was a brunch (okay they really open for lunch but we made it our breakfast) at new eatery Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook. AND we got there by taking the bus. This is not a huge feat for most but I hate the bus. I grimace and complain at the big cities that don’t have subway (or above ground) transportation systems (I’m looking at you LA) but I hate taking the bus. Mostly because I never know when I’m supposed to get off or where I should go to catch one. It’s all very confusing to me. I got off at the wrong stop in San Francisco several times which resulted in many glorious calorie burning moments as I climbed up all their hills. But, clean signage, clean (and wonderfully air-conditioned) busses AND the google maps app on my phone (this might have been my first bus ride since owning a smart phone) and I was hooked. I was actually super disappointed to find out I would have to take a subway ride back to Manhattan the next day instead of hopping on a bus.

As for Brooklyn Crab, it’s a super cute new place that opened across from the Red Hook Fairway and don’t just serve up food but mini golf and corn holes as well.


The big sell of the day seemed to be their King Crab legs but they also had Maryland blue crabs. We were a little to lazy to do all that work and ended up with crab and oyster sandwiches. But it was all delicious.


Needing to walk off our gorgefest we headed up a little ways to the Valentino Jr Park. I had googled “romantic things to do in Brooklyn” and one thing that popped up was this park due to its small grassy area, pier for fishing off of, and views of the front of the Statue of Liberty. It was so cute and the end of the pier there was indeed several fishermen catching their dinner for the night.

For our own dinner we headed off to a cute little french caribbean place called Kaz An Nou in Prospect Heights that is revered for their jerk chicken and sweet, homey-style service. I myself went with their goat cheese souffle, which was out of this world. The one negative is that since it’s such a small place and they don’t take reservations, there is usually a long wait. As I’m not a huge fan of waiting we showed up at the god-awful early dinner time of 5:30, right when the restaurant opened. There was hardly anyone there and we were seated immediately. Fast forward 30 minutes and the lines had started. Oh it’s also cash only, so bring your moolah.

I’d say that’s enough about food for this post but really the only other two main things we did this weekend in Brooklyn was to stop in at the Ample Hill Creamery for ice cream and spend our Sunday morning at Smorgasburg, a Sunday pop-up food-tent thingy (I’m awesome with descriptors today) at DUMBO. Everything from lumpia, asian tacos, and bolivian sandwiches to donuts, bbq, lobster rolls AND maple syrup covered bacon was served

The bolivian tent even had a Chuck Norris seal of approval.


Last up on anniversary weekend 2013 was heading out of Brooklyn and up to Times Square to see The Book of Mormon. We wanted to see it for our anniversary last year and tried to obtain tickets the month before. They had only premium seating left at that time going for around $400 per ticket. Thanks but no thanks.

So in July 2012 I bought tickets for our 2013 anniversary for a much more reasonable price! So after waiting years to see it, how was it? It was okay. My dad went to see it and hated it because he was offended by all the swearing. I didn’t have a problem with that (in fact, probably because I swear a lot but I barely noticed it) but it just didn’t compare in my book to some of the other musicals out there (like my all time favorite Wicked). But I did learn so much about the Mormon faith through the musical, though I did have to do a little fact checking afterwards to figure out what was true. Considering that most of my knowledge about Mormonism before this came from South Park, that means that Matt Stone and Trey Parker are my two biggest teachers on the subject!

The mystical, magical, boobaliciousical Spa Castle

Not to brag (any more than usual on a blog about me, myself, and I) but I had the most wonderful Friday last week. Ryan had to burn through a PTO day that he would lose after this past week and I was sitting on a couple unused holidays so we took off the day and made our way to Spa Castle in Queens.


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Time Out New York always recommends Spa Castle in their things to do section but I was pretty hesitant about a huge bathhouse in Queens with naked (non-coed) sections and little kids running around that may or may not be potty-trained. But at my last hair cut my hair dresser could not stop raving about Spa Castle and as I’ve previously mentioned, one should always listen to Miss Oh-I-hang-out-VIP-style-with-Jay-Z.

Our adventure started with free valet parking (what what!), something they do not loudly advertise, hence us driving around and around looking for street parking before finally giving up. We didn’t even know it was free until they handed us our keys back at the end of the day and moved on to the next customer. Score!

Now, when you check in ($35/person on the weekdays and $45/person on the weekends for full access to the pools, saunas, and resting rooms) you get a watch-looking devise that works as your locker key and your money. While it definitely made for an extremely relaxing and hassle-free day, I was worried about just how much a hassle-free day would cost me. Not that the prices for food and drinks weren’t really easy to see, but buying that last mudslide was a lot easier when it was just a flip of my wrist versus pulling out cash.


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Once you’ve got your wrist band (and additional 21+alcohol band) all situated, it is time to enter into Disneyland for exhibitionists, otherwise known as the locker rooms. This is where I found out that despite the fact that I capped off my senior year in college by streaking through lower campus in just snow boots during a snowstorm, I am a HUGE prude. Everywhere I looked there were girls, either air drying themselves by lying out on the locker room benches in all their glory, or blow drying their hair sans…. anything. I was the only one scampering around in a towel I brought from home (because the towels they lend you are the size of a washcloth.

But Ryan tells me I’m the weirdo / prude / ridiculous one, so don’t listen to me and just go and enjoy yourself in all your nakedness. But just know that your bare buns are not the only ones that have touched the locker room benches.

For those of you inclined to be clothed (and I applaud you!), they issue you uniforms for your time at the spa. Really comfortable uniforms, although not quite the height of fashion, and in predictable pink for girls and blue for boys.

Heading up the stairs from naked narnia you come to what I like to call The World of Saunas (pronounced sow-na’s apparently – the more you know!).


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It was fantastic, there were seven themed saunas in all, from the very hot, never less than 185 degree sauna to the cold, never above 25 degrees sauna, and all the ones in between, which included infrared saunas, gold saunas, and jeweled saunas.


And then there were the pools. The outdoor pools were heated and open year-round and the water was absolutely balmy and pleasant. Getting out of the pool into 25 degree weather after being soaking wet however, was not. But not to fear, there was also a sauna right next to the outdoor pools that I scampered into to drip dry in.


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One of the indoor pools also came with a swim up / walk up bar which I used to inhale the aforementioned and delicious (anti-diet) mudslide. They seemed pretty strict on alcohol consumption, as you are limited to 3 per person. So I would suggest you finagling your non-drinking cohort into getting a wristband so you can move on to drinking his allotted 3 drinks once you are finished with your own. You’re welcome.


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And last but not least there was the food. There were nachos, corn dogs, dumplings, pizza, salad, you name it. But my favorite was the korean plates up on the top level. Yum.


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Our last stop of the day before heading out to Fu Run for dinner was hanging out in the “resting” room, basically a room full of reclining chairs, where Ryan promptly passed out and I caught up on my tumblr dashboard and inadvertently would punch Ryan in the shoulder when his snoring got too loud.

And after all that, at the end of the day I collapsed into my bed completely exhausted. Man, it’s hard to be a lady of leisure!

Now let’s get in the delorean and mosey on back to the Thursday before Memorial day for more food discussions. (Bet you thought it was finally over, right? Too bad for you.)

After a whirlwind trip of bright lights, 105 degree heat (ouch), barely-clad dancers at Jubilee, lost money (damn you Vegas), and stomachs reaching their breaking point and shutting down, it was time to head back to San Francisco for a weekend celebrating my sister’s graduation from college. The first day was booked up with formal family portraits (something I always hate doing because I do the Chandler smile whenever I have to pose for longer than 2 seconds for a picture).

I’m actually completely shocked that after about 2 hours there was something like 2 not horrible pictures of me.

But when that was finally over, Ryan, my sister and I headed to her favorite restaurant for happy hour and dinner.

6 watermelon cosmos later…

Totto Ramen

Spending a morning in blustery AC, an afternoon on the train and an evening on Broadway I figured the perfect thing would be a dinner of noodles. And one of the spots I kept hearing a lot about was Totto Ramen, a sixteen seater on 52nd Street. No reservations like most (all?) noodle places meant we’d probably be in for a long wait. But we were going on Sunday, at 5:30, in the rain. There couldn’t possibly be a line right? Wrong.

But we finally got seated and started off with a Musubi and the uni yaki special (seared sea urchin on a bed of rice and lots of other goodies like freshly grated wasabi thrown in as well.

The table next to us also got the uni yaki and didn’t eat the uni. Hello – that was the entire point and the sole ingredient that drove up the cost of the dish. I envisioned leaning over and scooping up their uni and dropping it on my own bed of rice but figured it was a little intrusive and a tiny bit gross. But that only barely contained me.

Next was on to the noodle part of the dinner (yay) where we both got the spicy totto ramen.

Let me tell you, it was a little spicy – who would have thought? But so good!

Some other things to note: they only accept cash. And don’t go in large groups. That’s just dumb. The group of 6 in front of me stomped off after being told it would take hours to seat all of them. I mean come on. Meanwhile, I was giddy thinking – wahoo 6 less people in front of me!

So all in all I dub it 4 musubis, because while I still like momofuku’s better, the price is much more likable at Totto Ramen.

2011’s Michelin Star Restaurants in NYC

The 2011 Michelin Star Restaurants in NYC by maryrambin

Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Per Se
Chef Table at Brooklyn Fare*
Gordon Ramsay at The London
Momofuku Ko
Anthos (closed)
A Voce Columbus
A Voce Madison*
Blue Hill
Café Boulud
Casa Mono
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen*
Del Posto
Eleven Madison Park
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Jewel Bako
Kyo Ya
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Marc Forgione
Minetta Tavern
The Modern
Peter Luger
River Café
Rouge Tomate
SHO Shaun Hergatt
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu
Sushi of Gari
Veritas (currently closed)
(* are the new additions)
The one restaurant Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the Michelin guides and the final word on who gets how many stars, could not stop talking about chef Cesar Ramirez and his Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare – a prix-fixe supper club in Brooklyn where Ramirez seats you around his open kitchen.  Of course since seating is limited I can only imagine how long the wait list is to get in.  And now that he has 2 stars, it will be even harder.
Also noteworthy on this list is Del Posto (Mario Batali) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon that both only garnered one star and sit amongst restaurants like Public and Spotted Pig.  That just ain’t right! I also believe Locanda Verde and its fresh fare from Andrew Carmellini and Mas which serves up inspired and light French cuisine tucked into Greenwich village deserve a star.
Overall, I think the list is pretty accurate.  If you visit a restaurant that has a Michelin star, your palate – no matter how refined – is in for treat!
Zagat also announced their NYC lists giving Le Bernadin the top honor for Food and Maialino won Best New Comer (I totally agree!).