Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guess who's coming to dinner?

No one is coming to dinner. This largely becuase we're still living in limbo, not really at home and not yet with anything that couldn't be packed into two suitcases a piece.  I've been enjoying the minimalism to some degree I suppose, but am looking forward to getting set up in a more permanent living situation so we can do things that one does in a more permanent entertain.

I was walking down our neighborhood-to-be-again on 14th Street in Logan Circle, which has changed tremendously in the nearly three years that we've been gone (and even more tremendously in the 10 years since I've moved to DC for the first time where it was my original stomping ground) and we enjoyed an evening stroll to get a feel for the new places and revisit some of the old.

One of our most favorite places for furniture is Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and it just so happened they were hosting a little neighborhood 'do last night to showcase table settings for a charity cause.  They were put together by Manvi Drona-Hidalgo - I don't know her but I'd like to - these definitely gave me a few ideas for when the days of dinner parties finally make a come back. Manvi also has a super stylish interiors and events design blog  - give it a gander at Mochatini.

Looks like DC has stepped up its game while we were out - I like it, I like it a lot.

Photographs by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At this moment Vienna is enjoying summer...

Spotted in the DC metro tunnel - Vienna we miss you so!

The sign, an advertisement for Austrian Airlines (also known as the Santa Village Express as all the flight attendants are dressed up like Christmas elves with the red ensembles, red tights and red booties) reads "At this very moment Vienna is enjoying summer.  When will you?"  Sigh.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Exotic America: Scenes from (an attempted) blueberry festival...

Since last week, we hit up the largest city there is (that would be New York), I thought this weekend we would hit up the country instead as I had read somewhere about the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival - the centennial celebration no less.  I had visions of bucolic fantasy, sampling fresh blueberries from the bog, eating slices of prize-winning blueberry pies, perhaps a little live banjo in the background, maybe the aromas of our bbq'd lunch floating in with the summer breezes...

But none of that was to be had.  After roving around South Jersey and noticing a/ rather high number of correctional facilities lining the highway and b/ that this particular Saturday was a very popular day for yard sales in the greater Pemberton area, we noticed a traffic jam among some wide flat fields (the bogs).  And that was the extent of our participation in the festival - it was "at capacity" as the state troopers told us while they swiftly shoo'ed us away.  No room at the inn.  Apparently Whitesbog, which is also home to a 1920's company town complete with General Store, wasn't able to sustain this massive influx of blueberry-seeking visitors.  Needless to say, I was a bit heartbroken.  We drove back and forth for awhile, bought some blueberries alongside the road, declared victory and went home. 

But the drive was still eye-opening.  I had to give up my visions of barbecue and instead settle for a burger at Burger King since fast food is definitely the prevailing option - though I thought it was a lovely touch that the staff took the time to put flowers on all of the tables, albeit faux ones.  I always forget in the US the prevalence of the strip mall, as well all sorts houses of worship - some of the most surprising kind.  Who knew that in these itty bitty towns of NJ were populations large enough to sustain a Korean-based Baptist church?  And finally, there are the Americana towns that still exist but are becoming rarer - full of flags and begonias and porches that look like movie sets from the 1950's.

All photographs by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Exotic America: Scenes from New York...

A few scenes from yesterday's trip to New York.  I couldn't get over how "tall" everything was - we didn't have that in Vienna.  And just as amazing were all the sirens and honking you could hear from over forty stories up - we definitely didn't have that in Vienna.  So much noise would be a total lack of ordnung.

Now that the super-duper phone came, I've been playing around with the Instagram that everyone is so fond of - have to say, it makes everything look a bit more dramatic.

And apparently everyone who's anyone was in New York, to include President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton (who were at a fundraiser in our hotel no less; the valet pretty much laughed at us when we told him we were planning on getting the car that evening), and Justin Bieber.  I mean, if that's not the who's who in these parts, I don't know who is. 

A very long 24 hours and very high-energy (is there any other way in New York?) ending with an epic explosion by diplo-baby all over my work suit and white shirt at dinner - but I'd like to think that no one noticed (or at least, had the grace not to say anything) - we just showed ourselves to the bathroom and a quick costume change for each of us later, we were back at the dinner table. 

And a couple of more scenes for New York - like the Red Velvet Brownie Sunday the night before at Bar Americain (what's more Exotic America than a place called Bar Americain? It's no Harry's American Bar but it was good, despite it's Cheesecake Factory like decor - definitely have the Sundae and the house made potato chips with blue cheese dip.

And the courtyard of the MoMA...

And hamburgers...delivered by Vienna when we asked for salads to be delivered from our favorite place they told us to come by and bring our own bowls...I didn't even bother explaining that that would defeat the purpose of delivery...

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Welcoming me to the modern era...stripes or dots?

In an effort to repatriate more effectively and get with modern times, I have been broken and swayed to get an iphone.  And then I broke down diplo-husband to do the same.  So Apple's domination of our home electronics is now complete I think.

I read in an interview that Nadja Swarovski forces herself to buy a new phone every year - not because she needs one, but because she felt it was a way of keeping up with technology in a world where you can quickly get left behind and that left a bit of a mark on me.  The only thing I hate more than being tied to a cell phone is the threat of being irrelevant in old age.

Now if there are two things that weren't already obvious about me, I don't really care for change and I don't really care for cell phones.  If you call me, there is a 98% chance I probably won't pick up.  Not intentionally but usually this is because I have either left my phone somewhere (I lose my phone about 3 times a year), am working, or I forgot to turn my ringer back on.  But the fact of the matter is that in my day job, especially as I work remotely, I'm on the phone at least 6 hours a day if not more.  So in my free time, I like the fact that I can't be reached every second of the day.  I don't like the phone - but most other people do, swhich is why I even have one.  No one ever understands why I'm never available by phone so I've definitely had to issue some apologies about why I never pick up over the years.

So with that mind, you might wonder why I'm bothering with the iphone.  But as far as I can tell, the iphone is pretty much everything but a phone.  When you go to their website, the phone functionality is like the 17th thing they mention on all the things that it does.  It's the phone for people who hate phones from what I can tell.  So that combined with Nadja's insistence that we all keep up before we become irrelevant and all the change related to our move forced me to try something new (egads!).

They say that for this fancy schmancy phone you need to have a cover - so since we're going a little crazy, stripes or dots (or zebra?)?

All iphone covers from Kate Spade.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exotic America: When the moon hits your eye... a big pizza pie...That would be Grimaldi's.  It's apparently Brooklyn's best pizza...that we had in Hoboken.  And apparently that you can also have in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.  I'm not quite sure what's behind the theory of their geographic expansion, but who cares? All the better for the people of Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Texas becuase the pizza is really quite good.

We visited some friends with a new babe in Hoboken and pizza factored into the visit- even though garlic will likely be coming out of my pores for days (just in time for client meetings in NYC tomorrow), it has a great oven based crust, which at Grimaldi's (no relation to the Grimaldis of Monaco) is due to the fact that the oven is coal-fired and not wood-fired.  Sounds carcinogenic I know, but they say it's cleaner than wood.  And just like we liked in Naples, it's covered in lots of San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. 

Something tells me we might be coming back to this's how to find them:

Grimaldi's Pizzeria
133 Clinton St. (at 2nd)
Hoboken, NJ 07030
phone: 201.792.0800
fax: 201.792.5757

Pizza photo from Grimaldi's Pizzeria.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Exotic America: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...

Huddled masses indeed is what we saw at the foot of the New Colossus.  I decided what better way to kick off our Exotic America tour than with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - it's how so many started their time in America and figured why shouldn't we too?  And all jokes aside, I came to the US as a little bitty immigrant in New York that flew in via Austria thirty years ago, so there's a nice element of full-circleness that came from our visit.

For all of my trips to New York, I had never actually seen the Statue of Liberty before - not from the plane, not from the car, not from the train - somehow I always missed it.  And there is something quintessentially American about it - there are things that it stands for that we're rather proud of.  Ellis Island itself is definitely worth a visit - the restoration is amazing given the amount of work it must have been and the exhibits informative.  And we came away having learned quite a bit.

But I wasn't joking about the huddled masses - this is definitely a popular attraction so start early in the day and if you can (and I can't believe I am saying this) start your excursion from Jersey City Liberty State Park if you can - you'll thank yourself later when you're not standing in the NYC boat line recreating the Ellis Island experience in the sweltering heat.

For more information:
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty
Statue Cruises (good luck deciphering this website but unless you want to reserve tickets to go all the way up to the crown, which run out, just go with the $13.00 boat ticket; discounts for active military)

The abandoned former train tracks - sadly, the US never continued to invest heavily in rail.

This would have been our train home.

I had to clarify for diplo-husband that these lovely ladies were not in fact part of an immigrant re-enactment on lunch break but rather actual contemporary citizens (on lunch break).

Restored tile work and lighting from turn of the century.

A former Ellis Island Dormitory - cosy and fresh.

New York Harbor - tall ships, sun fish and oil tankers.

What's more American than a hot dog and fries - no wurstl here.

Free condiments - Europeans, take note!

The former hospital for contagious diseases, currently under renovation.

Huddled Masses on land - this is making that Garden State line look pretty good right now.

Huddled masses at sea drifting towards Ellis Island.

The New Colossus.

Ellis Island as seen aboard the Miss Freedom.

New York, New York.

Former Central Railroad Terminal of NJ.

When was the last time you saw an ice-cream truck?

All photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.
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