Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NYC Restaurant Week

I believe it is fate that the same week I get to NY is the same week as NYC's Restaurant Week.  Restaurant week in NYC happens twice a year, and it's a great opportunity to try new, upscale restaurants inexpensively.  Basically, for $24 for lunch or $38 for dinner, you can get a 3 course prixe fixe meal at participating high end restaurants.  The menus usually consist of the restaurant's most popular items, and the portions are a little smaller but you get to choose from a couple of items per course.  During this time of year, I always make it a point to go to Quality Meats, which in my opinion, has the BEST steak tartare in NY.  It is a Smith & Wollensky property and the decor is inspired by old-school butcher shops.  The space is amazing, with a mix of traditional elements of vintage lights and market scales, and modern stainless steel and walnut beams.  

Corn Creme Brûlée

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Multiple Personality Disorder-The City

I’ve been eating only Vanilla ice cream for the past 2 years, and it’s been nice to finally indulge in all the different flavors that NY has to offer.  Hanging out with our eclectic group of friends has made me appreciative of the diverse upbringing we have been afforded.  The momentum here is unstoppable, and the creative energy oozes from every dark corner and neglected alley.

One of the first people we saw when we got to NY is our good friend, Asher, whom Frank grew up with.  With Asher, you never know where the night is going to take you and whom you will end up meeting.  You could be at a dive in the middle of Chinatown, at Fort Tilden beach night swimming, or dancing the night away with Bulgarians in military uniform in Midtown Manhattan.  His energy is consuming, and you find yourself having the time of your life in places that you never even knew existed.  He taught himself how to fluently speak French, Spanish, Italian, as well as some Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic at a young age.  I often find myself at a bodega listening to him have a full on conversation with the clerk in Arabic while he’s buying a pack of cigarettes.  Or in a cab, listening to him converse in Creole with the driver.  When asked how he learns languages so easily, he answers with a simple, “I just talk to myself in the shower in the language I want to learn…”  Hmmm…ok. 


We  later hung out with our friend Zack at his 5000 sq ft fabrication shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn called BKCstudio.  The collective group of people working out of this space, have a combined talent that is truly remarkable.  A couple of years ago, Zack was involved in a project dubbed, Floating Cities, where they created “boatercycles” (Pontoon boats powered by Royal Engfield motorcycles) shipped them to India and went on an art fueled spirtual journey down the Ganges River.  They raised the money for this by throwing underground parties in industrial spaces around Brooklyn and managed to make TimeOut NY’s best underground party.  We went to a couple of these, and they were dazzling, with an array of themes from Hobo’s paradise, complete with Whiskey Fountains and Cigarette Trees to a party set on a triple decker ferry boat in the Gowanus Canal, each level sporting different themes and music.   The sheer number of people they had working with them for the cause was inspirational.

Zack & Alex
We have also barbequed on the rooftops of Brooklyn with Frank’s childhood friends, an activity a lot of New Yorkers do, as there isn’t a lot outdoor space.  Listening to the sounds of the city below, the subways, the honking, the children laughing, a cacophony of all things once so familiar, while laughing and reminiscing about “the good ol’ days.”  

Rooftop in Brooklyn
Kaleb & Jeremy
My BFF, Sandra 
Is Frank the only one not making a silly face?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reunited and It Feels so Good...

My one and only true love has always been food.  Really...I enjoy food the way most people enjoy music.  A delicious plate of chicken liver mousse can melt my heart faster than any Leonard Cohen song.  It is one of the main reasons why I want to travel, to explore the word through my palate.  It is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I sleep.  I dream in food, and my idea of a nightmare is waking up before taking a bite out of whatever it is I'm dreaming of. With this in mind, you could imagine how sad my heart/stomach has been living in Florida.  I have been deprived, and being reunited with my first love has been joyous (Cue images of Food and I running in a flowery field towards each other in slow motion.)  Before this trip, I spent some time making a list of all of the places I needed to eat at to replenish my soul, I have tried my best to complete this list, but with the limited time I have here, I don’t know if it can be done.  Welcome to my Tour de Food…

Korean BBQ….In my opinion, one of the best Korean restaurants in NY is Hahm Ji Bach in Murray Hill, Queens.  This neighborhood is the unofficial Korean-town of Queens with blocks and blocks of Korean restaurants, businesses, and storefronts.  This place is known for their Dol Samgyupsal (do not ask me how that’s pronounced, I usually just point at the menu and smile), which is thick sliced pork belly that is cooked table front on a hot stone.  It is best eaten after dipping it in a sweet Korean horseradish soy sauce along with some powdered soy beans, and wrapped in lettuce with raw scallion and a pickled daikon radish.  The best part about Korean BBQ isn’t just the meat, but all the little sides it comes with.  Depending on the restaurant, your sides could range anywhere from tiny deep fried minnows, to raw crab marinated in red chili sauce, to pickled cucumber, to sesame marinated bean sprouts., to kimchee (fermented spicy cabbage). 

Good kimchee has almost an effervescent quality to it, because it is naturally fermented, the healthy bacteria known as lactobacillus, is always live and active.  It is comparable to a spicy sauerkraut, and it gets its vinegar flavor from the lactic acid caused by the fermentation.  It is very good for you, and Koreans, back in the day, would bury it so that they could have sustenance throughout the winter.  Another yummy thing on the menu is their Doaeji Bulgogi, which is marinated thinly sliced pork also cooked tabletop.  If you’re ever in the area, this place is a must try.  

My sister, Ying, and her boyfriend, Elliot

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home is Wherever You May be…

Since I didn’t have much more time off from work, Frank and I had to leave the Pearson in Norfolk while it underwent some repairs.   We rented a car and drove to NY to see family and friends and to take care of some business.  Upon entering Brooklyn and seeing the NY skyline, I was so overjoyed to be home again that I actually teared up.  I had forgotten how much I had missed this place and it was so nice to see something so familiar.  Frank has been making fun of me for crying since, but I think he was secretly as happy as I was.  My parents welcomed us home with a huge Chinese dinner of lobster, crab, snails, jackknife clams, roast pork, and Chinese wegetabals…. It was otherworldly, and just what we needed after a week of traveling.   

Gai Lan Choy (Chinese Broccoli Rabe)
Atlantic Jackknife Clam

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 8

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We left bright and early this morning around 6am.  This was the perfect weather window to get around the Cape.  The autopilot was finally fixed and the winds were blowing a steady 15kts from the South.  Overall, getting around Hatteras was relatively uneventful and we spent the day just motoring.  Frank even caught a tuna while trolling a line astern.  At one point, we hooked a 3 ft Mahi Mahi, but it jumped off the line as Frank was pulling it in.  We had only trolled for about an hour and a half, but the hand line frank made up was incredibly effective.  He used a daisy chain as the lure, which was recommended by the guys at our yard that are big time into fishing.  The hand line was a design copied from an expensive one online, and it worked brilliantly.  Frank added an empty can to the setup so that we could hear when we got a hit rather than having to keep an eye on it the whole time.  It was a little difficult filleting a fish on the slippery, bouncy deck, especially with a cheap serrated knife from Walmart, but killing it was a snap.  We poured Vodka in its gills and it instantly stopped its flopping. 

Hand Line Setup Frank Copied

Works Like A Charm

Not The Biggest, But Its Dinner

The night watch off Hatteras was strangely eerie, looking at the charts, there were more shipwrecks than depth soundings.  It’s strange to see the charted depths go from 30 ft to 1130 ft in less than 10 miles.  It was also weird to see a flat calm just before daybreak in an area known for its fierce weather.  Ironically enough, the winds picked up to 30kts directly on our nose within an hour after rounding Hatteras, and we had a pretty bumpy ride the remainder of the trip to Norfolk.  We arrived around 11pm, much longer than we anticipated, because we had to tack.  We discovered that we want a new toy onboard Moitessier, an AIS, which proved to be VERY useful in the shipping and naval traffic around the Chesapeake and at various points throughout our trip. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 7

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
We took a 3-mile bike ride to a Napa store today to pick up the alternator belts.  As mentioned before, the original belt had to be replaced because the guys at the yard had set the alternator so that it was at its maximum point of adjustment.  As belts age, they wear and stretch and naturally become looser, so when this happened to us, we weren’t able to tighten it any further.  This belt not only runs the alternator, but it also runs the fresh water pump that cools the engine down.  If this shits the bed, the engine overheats and has to be shut down.  No good.  The same problem happened to us when we came back from Bermuda to NY on a Swan 48, only that time, the belt actually broke.  In our case, we noticed it in time; we had turned the engine back on and heard a high pitched squealing.  We were able to shut off the engine and save the belt.  During our hour-long bike ride, we got to see some pretty houses on the back roads of Morehead City.  The streets themselves were lined with beautiful dogwood trees and fragrant rose bushes, which made the ride quite pleasant.


Dennard's closet

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 6

Monday, July 22, 2013
We have been awaiting a good weather window for the past couple of days.  Unfortunately for us, it looks like the soonest we can leave to go around Hatteras would be this Wed.  The sad part about this is that because we have time constraints, Frank and I will be getting off the boat in Norfolk instead of taking it all the way up to NY.   Initially, I had taken a couple of weeks off from work to try to accommodate this schedule, but even with an extra week window, the delays have finally caught up with us. 

It’s been blowing a steady 25-30kts here in Morehead City.  The wind is fierce and the water in the inlet is running wild.  This morning, we had a bit of a debacle with the jib.  In an attempt to get it down the mast to fix the roller furler, the damn thing got stuck.  Nothing could be done to free the sail, so Frank had to shimmy up the forestay and cut it loose.  Afterwards, we ran around town to get the parts we needed to remedy some the boat problems we encountered on our way here.   Morehead City in itself is a pretty small town geared mostly to boaters.  The people here are friendly, especially at the marina.  Dennard, the owner of Portside Marina, has been a true southern gentleman, welcoming us like we were his own children.  When Frank and I went for our evening walk, we passed by the office and Dennard waved us in and introduced us to some ex-Navy seals.  We ended up chatting with them for about an hour and they shared some entertaining stories.  They even offered us some moonshine, which we politely declined, but took a courtesy sip after they insisted we try it.  It was pretty delicious, tasting a lot like apple cider. One of the seals, a burly 6’8” 300lb guy with a biker beard, taught us Yankees the ways of making good moonshine, bear jerky, and how to properly punch some one in the throat.   Welcome to the real South.

28 kts
Frank and Dylan securing the boat
Stuck jib

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 4

Saturday, July 20, 2013
We made it to Beaufort, NC today.  We arrived sometime around 4pm and realized what a mistake that was.  All of Beaufort was covered with weekend warriors and we couldn’t find a slip that we could get into easily without causing the adjacent boats some damage.  We had planned to make this stop to refuel, fix some things that broke along the way (the alternator belt is shot, and the extrusions on our jib furler has come apart), and to get a better idea on the weather, as we will be going around..dun, dun, dun….. Cape Hatteras.  Since our mast is 67’, traveling to Norfolk, VA via ditch is simply not a possibility.  Upon arrival, we realized that we weren’t going to be able to stay in Beaufort, so Kristen called around to the next best place (Smartphones really are smart).   She found this marina called Portside Marina, in Morehead City NC and Dennard, the doc-master was more than accommodating.   This marina is really nice; the facilities are clean and they even have outdoor showers.  They provided us with a primo T-head slip, and also guided us as to where to go eat.  Funnily enough, on our walk to the restaurant, we noticed that we all (with the exception of Kristen) had “land-sickness” which is this weird phenomenon that happens when you get on land after days at sea.  Frank and Dylan seemed to suffer the worst of it as they were both walking around like drunk zombies.  Frank was swaying down the sidewalk, and Dylan was simply not feeling so well.  I, on the other hand, didn’t realize that I was suffering from the same until I sat at the table and saw that other tables were swooshing around.  I thought it odd since I had my Scopalamine patch on.  Transderm Scope is this patch that you wear behind your ear to prevent seasickness. It basically shuts down the inner ear so that your body doesn’t get confused with the conflicting signals it’s getting from your eyes and inner ear and produce histamines (which is what your body makes when it senses something is wrong.  The excess histamines are what make you sick).   The side effects of this prescription medicine include dry mouth, which I have had since putting the patch on, and blurred vision when you take it off and go through withdrawal (that happened to me the last time I was on it, and I couldn’t read a menu).  I have sworn by this stuff because I am extremely prone to seasickness and aside from the side effects, this stuff works really well.  I know you all must think I’m just plain stupid for wanting this lifestyle, but you must realize that I came to terms with my stupidity shortly after puberty, so no need to worry.  We are going to spend the night here, get some much needed rest, and hopefully have a better idea as to when we will be Hatteras bound in the next few days.  

Walk from town to Portside Marina 
Land sickness walk 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 3

Friday, July 19, 2013
Since the wind was behind us the whole time, we unfortunately couldn’t do much sailing.  I learned this the hard way, trying to sail with the wind behind me while keeping on course was pretty difficult.  I must’ve went off course about 50 times, that or I lost wind in the sails, before realizing it as I had to time the delay of the steering.  I felt a little foolish because I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it no matter how hard I tried.  The seas were a lovely 5-6ft, and upon entering the Gulf Stream, I noticed the water turn a bright aquamarine.  We have had a pretty bumpy ride thus far, and sleeping has proven to be a little challenging.  We went through a couple of squalls, but nothing too exhausting, thanks in part to the full enclosure on the boat.  The happiest moment today was when a pod of dolphins came and played in the wake of the boat.  They were grey with white spots, and at first I thought they were seals (silly me).  I even saw a baby dolphin in the mix, which made me smile.  Distance traveled in 24 hours, 160 nm.  

Aquamarine Stream

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 2

Thursday, July 18, 2013
We left around 7:30am this morning; and I was stoked to get offshore.  Going out the inlet was relatively uneventful, but the apprehension from all crewmembers was most certainly palpable.  We spent the entire day motoring to the Gulf Stream, and by 1:00am, we had successfully entered it.  Since there were only the 4 of us, we made up a watch schedule, which involved being 2 hours on and 6 hours off.   Frank and I decided that we would do our watches together, so that we would both have company and not have to worry in our sleep about one of us falling overboard.  It was a glorious night watch, with the moon starting out bright in the sky, painting the ocean a sterling silver.  As I watched the moon set, turning from a bluish white, to a golden tulip yellow, finally disappearing into the horizon, I couldn't help but feel that Mother Nature was gifting us with that moment.  The phosphorescence glittering in our wake coupled with the blanket of stars made for a magical night.   Unfortunately for Kristen and Dylan, when we got off our watch, the wind started to pick up and the boat was flying at a steady 13.8 kts over ground.  We had entered a squall and the rain pelted our faces.  We quickly put away the jib, zipped up the enclosure, and motored some more.  Miles traveled 170 nm in 24 hours (we are making great time)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pearson Trip-Day 1

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I had mentioned in one of the earlier posts that we were crewing for a delivery up to NY on a Pearson 530. We have spent the past 2 weeks getting ready for this trip and provisioning the boat.  We bought cartloads of popcorn, granola, cereal, cookies, cakes, sweets, chocolate, and potato chips.  We cooked 8 frozen meals so that Kristen (captain’s wife) and I wouldn’t have be in the galley for too long cooking.  Our meal plans consisted of things that would only require one pot to heat up (i.e. Baked ziti, Borscht, Chicken Stew, Tacos, Jerk Chicken, get the picture). 

After weeks of delays, we finally left the docks this morning.  One of the more crucial delays had to do with Tropical Storm Chantal.  We had no idea what track she was going to follow, and we didn’t want to take any chances, but after missing our first weather window, we realized that we could’ve gone as it puttered out south of us.  Our next delay had to do with the fuel injector pump.   On the day that we had originally planned to leave, Dylan (the captain) had noticed a leak in the engine room.  It was discovered that the fuel injector pump was leaking, so that had to be taken care of before we left.  A kit was ordered and overnighted to the yard.  In the process of replacing the pump, Dylan had asked the yard to replace the fuel injectors.  Seemed simple enough, but because the engine was so old, the rusty, corroded injector broke right off in the engine.  This took the yard guys a full 12-hour day to remedy, and luckily, John was competent enough to drill out the piece and use a die grinder to dig out the rest, all the while not getting any debris in the cylinder.  Quite impressive!

After spending the morning testing the engine to see if it was still leaking, we finally left the dock around 1:30pm.  Dylan decided that since we were having such a late start, that the best thing to do would be to grab a mooring ball downtown and head out at the crack of dawn the next day.  Since Frank and I have been talking about eventually living out on the mooring, we were interested in seeing what it’d be like.  It was everything I had imagined; St Augustine is beautiful from the water.  We even had time for a refreshing swim to cool us off before our dinner of rotisserie chicken and cupcakes (for Dylans birthday) while watching the sunset from the cockpit.  Sigh….