New York and Philadelphia

We always tend to take for granted the space we live in. I had a friend recently talk to me about being entitled to the space you’re in, the space around you, and your entitlement to expanding that space. We tend to be a little mundane in our everyday and comfortable routines. I’ve already created one here in Austin. I write and drink coffee at Houndstooth, work at Fino, shop in the same malls, and eat at the same restaurants.

Then someone reminds you you’re from the East Coast and living somewhere else can still be traveling when you think about it or you venture into an area of Austin uncomfortable and unfamiliar and then you’re reminded that you don’t know as much as you think you do. You entitle yourself to one space but not much more than that.

Why can’t the same go for your hometown? When you realize that a vacation to New York is in the top 3 destinations of friends of yours and you go, “Huh?”.  Going home to New Jersey, I tend to entitle myself to my parents’ couch and maybe if I can get off that couch, go and relive my old comfortable and familiar route that I had when I lived in New York. 

My Christmas trip was an experiment in entitling myself to more space. I treated it as travel and took advantage of my close vicinity to the two largest metropolitan cities and attempted to fuse the life I live now and the life I had:

Philadelphia

Oyster House:

I have been obsessed over Find. Eat. Drink.’s travel guides and when I found out that Michael Vetri’s Osteria was not open when I needed it to be, I referred myself to these guides and found Oyster House.

The ambiance is relaxing and the décor cooling and when you want to enjoy a no-fuss, all-around good experience, this isn’t a bad place to do it. The oysters are savory and the tables set up with horseradish and crackers made them even more fun to slurp down. I had heard some murmurings of punch here so I ordered the Gunpowder Punch, cardamom, white pepper, rye, blue lady tea, and citrus. I'm just going to say that large cubes of ice make me erotically excited so you can imagine my disappointment with some small rocks in my mason jar. As far as the rest of the drink, it paired well with oysters and stayed nice and light but was a bit heavy on the pepper and spice. I’m going to just go ahead and call myself spoiled and move on.

Elixr:

A fun and wood-paneled coffee shop where my cousin, Taylor pointed out that everyone in there had beanies and Apple computers. Ah, hipsterdom. I had a Finca Kilimanjaro pourover from PT’s coffee and Taylor had a pretty impressive hot chocolate.

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company:

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company was one of my favorite drinking experiences and I could have spent all night tasting drink after drink here just because of their unapologetic combinations. The vibe was everything I imagined it to be. It was low-key, unpretentious, creative, and mind-blowing. They should also be credited with changing my mind about Batavia Arrack.

I think my favorite part of this place are the names of the cocktails. Is there a job that I can have where I can just create names for cocktails?

1. Husker Hail Mary- Landy VS Cognac, Laird's Applejack, Cynar, Carpano Antica, Hidalgo PX, Angostura, Aromatic Bitters, Clove Tincture

2. El Presidente- El Dorado rum, Grand Marnier, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Grenadine

3. Philadephia- Batavia Arrack, Amaro Montenegro, Cocchi Americano, Falernum Bitters

The waitress described the latter as funky and I describe it as funky mind-blowing. Who thought of that and how did they make it work?

New York

Stumptown:

I thought it should be appropriate to make it to Stumptown- New York and Brooklyn’s mecca baby of coffee roasters. I thought I should give it a fair shot now knowing what I know and treated myself to a cappuccino made with some serious love and Hair Bender from my barista. It was quite a nice respite to sip on while at the bar looking out on a New York City street through the rain. How poetic.

Maison Premiere

Speaking of poetic, Maison Premiere inspired my New Year’s costume. When I walked through the tiny, unmarked door, I felt like I should have been wearing fake eyelashes, bright red lipstick, and lace which yes, I did then wear on New Year’s. You walk right into the Belle Epoque and for that, I’m in love. Marble bar tops and wooden shelves are filled with premium liquors, waiters are dressed in vests and mustaches, and absinthe is the specialty. I wish I could have drank here a bit longer but along with our massive seafood platter of lobster, crab legs, shrimp, raw oysters and clams were juleps- Winter Absinthe Julep tasting like anisette and allspice and the Champagne Julep. I was in the right place with the right lipstick, right libations, and right people.

Dram Bar

Then when you snap back to reality and walk out to a dirty Williamsburg city street, you turn the corner and end up at Dram. It’s a tiki-esque and friendly bar and again, completely unpretentious but right on. The “Loose Noose” was perfectly wise and straightforward- a blend of white sand beach bum and New York street smart. Then they busted out a bartender’s choice white dog old-fashioned without a hitch.

I definitely tried to claim a little bit more space in my old stomping grounds and entitle myself to a little bit more in the world. I felt like I expanded greatly but my favorite dishes on this trip included farfalle and salmon in a light pink cream sauce, bruschetta, tartufo, cannoli, more linguini and more seafood in a light pink cream sauce, and well, what I’ve missed most of all- bodega coffee and a bagel.