Friday, September 30, 2011

Baseball and Doughnuts (Doughnut Plant)

Oatmeal Doughnut

While the end of September means that the days are getting depressingly shorter and the weather is becoming ever cooler, there is one thing that is actually great about this time of year: the start of the MLB playoffs. While my Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001 and came no closer to making it this year thanks to an epic 17 game losing streak, playoff baseball still gets me excited in a way that no other sport can. And with the dramatic and absolutely improbable way that the regular season ended, I think that the playoffs will be just as exhilarating and fun to watch.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dining Alone in Paris (La Régalade Saint-Honoré)

Margret de canard épais rôti sur la peau, petites pommes de terres rôties au jus de viande  

During my summer abroad, I experienced solo travel for the first time. It took me a little getting used to traveling alone, but I eventually learned to really embrace the freedom that it gave me. I could go wherever and do whatever I wanted, stay at sites for however long I desired, and move around from place to place much quicker than if I were traveling in a group, thereby allowing me to see and do more. But one rather large downside to traveling alone is that it also means dining alone. While dining alone in places like Edinburgh and Cardiff didn't bother me at all, the combination of the language barrier and the fact that Paris is full of lovey-dovey couples everywhere you look made solo dining in Paris much more awkward and uncomfortable. My dinner at Le Chateaubriand the previous night did nothing to alleviate my unease, as my table was a bit isolated from most of the other tables, making me feel all the more lonely and friendless, not to mention that a two hour-long dinner by yourself is the nadir of loneliness. *cue Akon's Lonely* For my second dinner in Paris, I visited La Régalade Saint-Honoré, and while the food itself was pretty incredible, the distinctly Parisian experience of conversing with your fellow diners made this meal one of my most enjoyable.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later (Motorino)

Soppressata Piccante

Today marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Just as Pearl Harbor and JFK's assassination became the defining moments of their respective eras, 9/11 and the war on terror have came to define my generation. In the ten years since, we have fought in two wars, experienced a global recession, and seen the Red Sox put an end to the Curse of the Bambino -- all things that we could not have foreseen happening on September 10, 2001 (Red Sox joke -- zing!). Like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news on that fateful day (second period Health class with Mr. Cangelosi). As I grew up in the north Jersey suburbs a mere fifteen miles from Ground Zero, the attacks were especially devastating, as pretty much everyone in town knew someone or had a friend who knew someone that perished in the World Trade Center. From the depths of tragedy and despair, however, hope and unity emerged. Following the tragedy, our country became more united than ever before. We were all New Yorkers; we were all Americans. And in this glorious city of ours, few foods are more iconic or more representative of it than pizza.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rankings Are Kinda Worthless (Le Chateaubriand)

Tuna, Mushrooms, and Herbs

People love to rank things, so we tend to make ranked lists for just about anything we can. Specifically, lists that give the "10 best ___" or "25 must-try ___" are made for everything from medical schools (US News Report) and high school football teams (MaxPreps) to things as trivial as New York City bành mî sandwiches (Serious Eats). Placing things in order and being able to determine at a glance whether one thing is better than another are probably the most attractive aspects of creating ranking systems. However, ranking systems have limitations -- namely, it's pretty tough to come up with a means of classifying whether #1 is better than #2, whether #2 is better than #3, and so on. US News Report uses some complex formula that factors in objective data, like graduation and retention rates, but also includes entirely subjective criteria, such as peer assessment and prestige. Subjectivity, an inherent characteristic of these types of listings, takes on an even greater role when talking about something as open to personal preference as food, but that doesn't stop people from also trying to rank the world's best restaurants.