Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Herring with Young Potatoes

I really like this simple, but delicious dinner a-la Russian style: young potatoes, radish salad and marinated herring.

Potatoes, herring & radish salad.For potatos: peel some young golden potatoes, boil and strain them, then add some butter, chopped garlic and dill (do not be shy with those three).

For herring: get a good quality marinated herring from the store near you, add a 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and place thinly sliced onion rings on top.

For radish salad: chop radish, scallions and cucumbers, add a pinch of salt and a 3/4 tablespoon of sour cream.

Enjoy!
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Clove Cottages

Several weeks ago we booked ourselves a trip for a little weekend getaway to Catskill Mountains and that’s where we’ll be going on this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

We’re going to be staying for 3 nights at Clove Cottages1 which are located right between Catskill and Minnewaska State Parks near New Paltz. The drive2 up there is a little over 100 miles, but considering that we’ll have to drive through NYC right before the long weekend it will probably take hours upon hours.

We haven’t spent much time in that area, so hopefully it will be fun.

  1. Staying in Purple Cottage for $429 with tax included. []
  2. 102 miles via Google Maps. []
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Catskill Trip

Us in our cottage.It’s not even 10pm yet and we are already in our Purple Cottage. We left at 6pm and it took us almost exactly 3 hours to get here with a stop for dinner. We got very lucky and avoided all NYC traffic before the long weekend.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

It’s Wednesday and people have started wondering why there is no update yet. So here it goes. We had a very good weekend and did a lot of fun things.

Purple Cottage of Clove Cottages.Our cottage was in a secluded place, away from the noisy towns, and that’s exactly what we were hopping for. Yet it was located close within 5-10 minutes away from the places that we wanted to visit.

Cottage itself was clean, yet it has been furnished with antique furniture it seemed. The owners were very nice and they baked some scones for all the guests on Sunday. They also have 2 llamas for pets, but sadly we didn’t end up with any good pictures.

"Helpful" notes all over the place.Another strange thing was that they had instructions for everything. I mean all the cabin was taped up with small notes on proper and not proper ways of doing things.

Saturday


On Saturday morning we ate our breakfast at one of the small delis in High Falls and went on on our first adventure of the day — biking. We rented 2 mountain bikes for $25 per day each and took them on a local trail. We had a lot of fun.

Alena and mountain bikes.The trail was packed dirt, mud, puddles and stones. Road bike would have 0 chance of going through there. It would’ve been scary and unfun. Mountains bike — that’s a whole other story. I could maintain pretty high speed and it was handling the road just fine. My bike had dual suspension on the rear and the front. I even managed to ride up a no-road hill alongside the trail and got off from it without falling and breaking my neck. Fun.

Mountain bike. Some bridge in the middle of the trail.Our ride took a little bit less than 2 hours and was 14 miles in length. Not too bad of a time for a dirt trail with practically no cycling since the end of April.

After that we drove through the local winery trail. The first winery that we encountered (El Paso Winery) had a nice and friendly owner, but a pretty bad choice of wines, at least in our opinion. They use the grapes from Long Island (the owner asked us if we ever heard of such a place) and don’t really grow anything there themselves.

El Paso Winery.We tried 6 wines and were quite disappointed. Nothing like our tasting in Maine. Not to be time wasting bastards we still bought 1 bottle of the wine that we found least bad.

Stoutridge Winery.After that we drove through a bunch of wineries that were either closed or we just couldn’t find the tasting place. And at the end we ended up at a place called Stoutridge Distillery & Winery.

Wines for tasting.Now this was a whole different story. First we got a very good presentation from the wine-maker himself. He was very excited and full of passion for his craft. We tried 4 white wines and 2 red ones and were very impressed. We tend to favor white semi-dry wines more, and we were very pleased with his selection. We ended up buying 6 bottles.

Wine maker.For dinner we came back to High Falls and went to Depuy Canal House Restaurant. The place had the most ancient furniture I have ever seen and the clientele was no less ancient. Even though they had some Zagat Award and their prices could rival many places in Manhattan we were not impressed.

Restaurant interior. Or was it an antiques store?Alena got served a meal with an elaborate name which could’ve been gotten in any pizzeria for $5. And my meal was somewhat similar. Not that the food was bad, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to match all the fuss that they are making about the place.

And that was our first day. We went back to our cottage and from what I remember went to sleep soon after.

Sunday


Umm, raspberries.Next day we started with a hike through the forest right from our cottage (no driving anywhere). Turns out our cottage was on top of a pretty big mountain and when you go down you end up at a river which formed a couple of large pools where one could take a nice swim. It was pretty cold thought and we weren’t really in the mood. We did see a whole bunch of deer while hiking. It seems they are everywhere.

Forest hike.The next objective was a farm of some kind. We went to Stone Ridge Orchard. First we proceeded to raspberry part. We did collect a lot of them, but mostly into our mouths. Then we also collected a pair of buckets which we had to pay a bunch of money for. Considering the price I assume the part that goes into the mouth was priced in as well.

Let me just hover up to that apple.Then we went to the apple garden. It was full of trees covered in … wait for it … apples. The part that we were supposed to pick in consisted of McIntosh apples. But we also wondered into the peach part, plum part and tried a bit of everything.

Plum tree.With 2 bags full of apples we were done with the farm. It was fun. I’ve never tried it before and I haven’t been a fan raspberries for a long time, but I found these very delicious.

The rest of our plan was simple — buy a lot of cheese and drink a lot of wine. And then do stuff. Well, you know.

We stopped on a large yard sale on our way to the cheese shop. I have to say that these towns have 3 yard sales on each block. And it seems all the restaurants and whatever else they have in these towns are designed with stuff obtained at said yard sales. They keep each other in business.

Peach tree.The reason we were stopping at this is that I had a splendid idea — somebody somewhere is selling some great older Nikon lens with great optics for cheap. I was not lucky enough to find any Nikon glass, but my thesis was correct. We did find a cool Kodak camera made somewhere in the 40s and we did find some Minolta lenses. Of course I have no use for either, so we bought nothing.

In the cheese shop we tried at least 10 different cheeses and bought small slices of about 6 I think.

Cottage window.We stopped by another local restaurant — Egg’s Nest — for lunch. This one not only was full on antique furniture, it also had a corresponding smell. o.O The food however was pretty damn good. After our Maine trip, as Alena noted, we did not became fans of lobsters, but fans of mussels. I never thought I’d be able to eat this kind of stuff, and enjoy it on top of it.

Egg's Nest restaurant.Ate a good bowl of French Onion Soup and ordered some fancy quezadilla with more cheese inside to go.

Mussles.At our cottage we grabbed a couple of DVDs (they didn’t pay for cable, but they had a good large collection of weird tapes and DVDs from 80s and earlier it seems). We grabbed our worst bottle of wine (didn’t want to spend a good one) and drank it with our quezadilla and cheese. The movie that we ended up watching was Firm with Tom Cruise which turned out to be pretty good.

Drive Back


In the morning, after checking out, we drove back to I-87 through New Paltz (about 15 minutes away from our cottage). New Paltz seems to be a college town with a lot of young people who looked like they were coming Gyro place in New Paltz.out of a 2 day long high.

We ate breakfast at a local Greek place (a pair of gyros) and there wasn’t much more to do there.

On our way back we stopped in Woodbury Commons Mall which was filled with people and cars. It took us 30 minutes at least to find parking and even more time to get out of there.

I wanted to get some new shoes, but wasn’t sure of my size again, so I wanted to try some on before ordering online. Long story short we ended up spending about 5 hours there! shock I know, I was shocked myself. However we did stock up on a lot of new clothing, shoes and other stuff. We also did adjust a bracelet on my watch and got a pair of white gold diamond ear rings for Alena. They are really tiny and we wanted to get some for a long time, so she could wear them all the time and prevent her ear piercing from closing up.

Last moring.In the end we managed to get home without getting stuck in traffic yet again. Amazing. We were thinking about going out and eating somewhere, but we were so tired that Alena just cooked some dumplings and that was the end of our vacation.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget

Word Trade Center towers.It’s been 8 years since that dreadful day in September of 2001. Very ironically it was also the day when I was sworn in as U.S. Citizen. This is a day full of memories, good and bad for me.

WTC. September 11, 2001.These are some photos from my old archives. This one was taken from the window of my apartment in Brooklyn on September 11th, 2001.

World Trade Center.And this one was taken some time earlier that year, from the same very window.

We will never forget!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Look?

How this blog could look, but probably never will.I’ve spent a good part of day drawing up a new look for the blog in Photoshop. I most certainly do not have plans to actually implement this as it would be way too much work, but I figured I might post to for everyone to see. I think it came out looking damn well.

What do you think?
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anniversary

Happy birthday, 300!I got an e-mail this morning.
Dear 300:

“Happy Anniversary” from your friends at Fullerton Chrysler Jeep Dodge!

I hope you and Daniel are getting along well and that Daniel is taking good care of you. If you have any bumps and scratches, aches or pains, just come in and see us.
Hard to believe it’s been a year already. Time really flies. I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s been really good to us with more than 20,000 miles on the odometer.
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Сегодня совершенно проспала — забыла включить будильник (главное проверила, что время правильное на нём выставлено), а когда продрала свои ясные очи, то за окном уже было совсем светло. “Ой-ой-ой, опоздаю как пить дать” — подумала я глядя на часы, которые вместо ожидаемых 6:30 показывали аж 8:36. В результате не позавтракав и бегло накрасив ресницы я пулей вылетеле из квартиры и даже взяла маршрутку до метро. Опоздала всего ничего — на час и 10 минут. Ну зато хоть выспалась. )

Д.Липскеров. Родичи.На работе, ввиду растрёпанного состояния, я случайно отправила e-mail не по адресу (внутренний и-мэйл на внеший адрес). Ничего суперстрашного не произошло, но я чувствовала себя последней идиоткой, когда поняла что случилось. Наверное, со всеми бывает. Continue Reading
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Blu-ray Player

Blu-ray player hooked up to our TV.On Sunday we finally decided to make the next leap in the realm of home video entertainment. We were in a local BestBuy and almost bought a Blu-ray player. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a couple of weeks already and the main reason was the falling prices of Blu-ray movies.

You see, we tend to add movies that we liked to our collection from time to time. Originally, when DVDs used to cost around $15 for the movie and BD would cost $50 there was no interest. But when BD came down to $18 for the same movie I started feeling that buying a DVD was becoming silly to save $3.

LG BD390 in a box.Of course to make that argument work one needs to have a player that can play said BD movies. My research led me to 2 top players from LG and Samsung — BD390 and BD-P36001 respectively.

For some reason I was leaning towards LG, although I think Samsung is equally good. Of course thanks to my iPhone I checked the price2 on Amazon. So after running around with LG box around the store, we put it back where it belongs, went home and placed an order online.

Contents of the box.It was delivered yesterday and I was eager to hook it up. Even though our TV is over 10 years old it still supports 1080i playback, but that’s not really the most interesting thing. One of the main reasons of us getting this player is of course Netflix.

It took us only a few minutes to set it up and to get a movie from Netflix to play on our TV. I couldn’t really tell a difference between this and DVD quality-wise.

LG BD390 Blu-ray Player.This is the moment when I had an epiphany — why would I want to buy a disk now if I can just play anything whenever I wish from Netflix? Never quite felt this as profoundly as at this moment. Of course the answer right now is that Netflix doesn’t have everything for instant watch, but for how much longer will that be the case?

  1. Although Samsung has a higher end BD-4600 it has a really weird form factor and doesn’t really add any benefits for the added cost. []
  2. BestBuy had it for $349 + tax, Amazon had it for $285, no tax, free shipping. []
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

City of Thieves

City of ThievesI’m finishing up “City of Thieves” by David Benioff (took me 3 rides to/from work to get almost to the end of the novel). It’s an easy enjoyable read (Geoff, thanks a lot for recommending!), both funny and sad. I don’t want to write about the plot or to analyze the novel in a-la lessons of literature style, but let me just say that the story revolves around two young men (one Jewish, one Russian) who are sent by a high-up NKVD official to get a dozen of eggs in Leningrad under Nazi siege. The book sucks you in — I almost missed my subway stop on Monday. )
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