Restaurgatory: Travel Tuesdays and the Infernal Menus

If you weren't aware, fair readers, Peter Pauper publishes a lovely suite of travel guides. Among other things, said guides provide many (many, many) quick glimpses of their respective subject destinations' gustatory highlights. They feature a potpourri of dining options, selected to the best of our ability for merit, price range diversity, uniqueness, convenience, and notable appeal. When we update a travel guide or expand its content for an app, the author and editors working on it verify that the restaurants (and other venues) listed are still open, that their contact information and operating hours haven't changed, and that our description of the establishment is still accurate.

The last, as you might imagine, occasionally involves looking at an online menu.

I don't know if you have ever, in the course of a day, looked at around twenty of a city's choicest restaurants' menus. I do not recommend doing so if the most appetizing thing immediately available to you is the scent of your mango-vanilla hand sanitizer. You're liable to sink into a fugue of sorts, morosely pondering the utter inaccessibility of dragonfruit gelato capped with cacao foam and apricot nectar faux-caviar, or burrata nestled in an artful huddle of braised figs, or really great Sabich from the sort of hole-in-the-wall falafel shop your neighborhood would have if it featured enough pedestrian traffic for a hole-in-the-wall falafel shop.

Menu-purgatory has its perks, though. I first learned of Boston's unparalleled Flour Bakery through an update to our Boston guide, and discovered New York's renowned City Winery—now one of my favorite music venues, as well as a fine place for a bite—while working on the New York app. Other places I haven't yet visited, but have added to my bucket list: It's a bit pricey, but I'd love to get a drink from Bemelmans Bar, in order to sit and take in the murals of Central Park painted by the illustrator of the Madeline books. If I ever make it to Chicago, I think I'd have to turn in my vegetarian card should I not make it to Green Zebra. (Vegetable-inclined kindred, check out their menu only if you wish to discover vertiginous heights of food-coveting.)

Has anyone reading visited a restaurant featured in one of our guides? If so, we'd love to hear about it!

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/mates

Bad at Blizzards

As you may have gathered, Winter Storm Nemo coated the Northeast in fluffy white mayhem last Friday. Our stalwart trade show team (including Claudine, keeper of the Wednesday blog posts) was stuck in England over the weekend, their flights cancelled. Motorists were stranded on the Long Island Expressway. Thousands lost power. Snow engulfed the familiar standbys of the urban landscape, obscuring public benches and fire hydrants, burying train tracks, reducing cars to little frosty lumps. Public officials are reasonably sure that if they keep plowing and digging, they'll eventually find Connecticut.

I live in the aforementioned hopefully-still-extant state, and was at PPP's New York office when the snow began in earnest on Friday. At noon, Governor Malloy declared a state of emergency. Roads were subject to closure. We weren't to drive anywhere unless we absolutely had to. If we did opt to brave the blizzard in our woefully-inadequate wheelboxes, we were to have an emergency kit on hand, so as not to freeze or go hungry if we wound up playing snowdrift by the side of the road for a while.

I've never been great at emergency preparedness. I generally go grocery shopping the day before the hurricane/tropical storm/blizzard hits, and wind up with bottles of grape-flavored seltzer, off-brand peanut butter, raisin bread, and a bunch of Yarzheit candles to keep me from bumping into things if there's a blackout. (I've also taken lately to clipping i-Lites in strategic spots throughout the house, and can confirm that this is more effective than holding a Yarzheit candle.) I've been meaning to buy snow tires for three years. Suffice it to say that on Friday, my car did not contain a space blanket, powerful flashlight, first aid kit, and supply of bottled water and nutritious dry rations. What I had instead:

  • A plush whale
  • A plush stingray
  • A small portion of my summer wardrobe
  • Candy hearts and a few Valentine's Day cards
  • Peter Pauper's Little Black Book of Maui and Kaua'i (good for inspiring warm thoughts?)
  • A rainbow kite
  • A smattering of novels
  • A frying pan
  • Sondheim sheet music
  • A satchel of fragrant bath products

If I got stuck somewhere in the middle of frigid nowhere, I decided, I would simply have to become MacGyver.

I wasn't stranded–I made it home fine, and all my visions of trying to signal rescuers with the rainbow kite came to naught. But I've learned my lesson from the hour I spent worst-case-scenario-fantasizing as I drove back to Connecticut from the PPP office, and next time will at least keep a few granola bars and a bag of rock salt on hand.

How was your Nemo experience? Did you go out on Friday? Did you get snowed in? What's your best guess at the depth of the snow where you live? Did anyone go sledding, or make an interesting snow-sculpture?

Also, just wondering: Does anyone else clip i-Lites (or the Trio) to themself or to various things around the house in blackouts? That's a popular trick among the Paupers, and it's made la vie sans electricity a bit easier in the past, I must say. I'm curious as to whether it's caught on in the outside world.

Image credits:

First image: Shutterstock.com/atref

Second image: Shutterstock.com/Igumnova Irina

HURRICANE SANDY EDITION

Hello all,

We interrupt our scheduled Friday blog post to show you what our part of New York State has been dealing with since Monday. Peter Pauper employees have been very fortunate regarding their homes and properties, but many have lost power and would kill for a hot shower and some corny reality TV. We cannot complain though, since so many others suffered even more damage by the furious HURRICANE SANDY. We have gathered a few pictures to show some of the devastating force that ripped through our area in Westchester and surrounding counties and nearby Connecticut. As you can see, the hurricane was quite a doozy, but Paupers survived and were able to come back to work by Wednesday. Please support those who were not so lucky. It will take a great deal of time to get things back to where they were in our area, but New Yorkers are resilient and will come back even stronger.

Wires everywhere.

Uprooted cemetery plot!

Car completely totaled.

Gas line in Yonkers, N.Y.

Local apartment complex ablaze.

 

Owners of cars parked nearby were lucky!

 

Gas is scarce!

 

 

Incredible.

WHAT A GREAT GESTURE!

Travel Tuesdays Careens Down the Pacific Coast Highway

Hail, Travel-teers! (Does that sound a bit too much like something out of a 1990s kids’ show? Probably it does. Consider it scratched.) I spent the weekend nursing a cold and a demanding cat, so I’m posting a vignette from a trip my mother and I took to Northern California, post–college graduation. It was a particularly memorable adventure, and I thought I might chronicle it in installments. Away we go!A native Californian informed my mother and I that drivers occasionally hit the gravel on Big Sur’s highway-side cliff overlooks "a liiiiittle too fast . . . and just keep going."

“How often does this happen?” asked my mother, eyeing our rental car nervously.

“Oh, about once a month,” he replied.

I haven’t ruled out the possibility that this is something locals exaggerate a bit to mess with delirious, jet-lagged tourists flicking bloodshot eyes from hills to waves and wondering how the world got so yellow and so blue. Still, thereafter we approached the lip of each scenic pullout with considerable caution. And when we stopped, we stared out at the miraculously fogless ocean from a safe fifteen feet back.

We’d been bumped up to business class on the flight from New York to San Francisco, but I hadn’t slept much, preferring instead to experiment with every possible configuration of my absurdly adjustable motorized seat. (I eventually succeeded in arranging it such that I couldn’t sit in it without bracing against something. For, y’know, science.) The already huge, bright landscape was therefore filtered through the everything-is-huge-and-bright lens of exhaustion. I goggled.

After the rather involved process of lunch-procurement (we were so weary, I believed I’d have trouble finding a vegetarian sandwich in Northern California), we had set off down the Pacific Coast Highway. My mother had taken the helm, not because I worried about driving off a cliff but because my confidence that she wouldn’t accidentally Thelma-and-Louise us wasn’t remotely mutual. I deemed this fair. If I’d seen her struggle for most of elementary school to master the loop-around method of shoelace tying, I might’ve felt less secure in the passenger seat.

She’d taken me to the Golden State as a gift following my college graduation, because I fell in love with the Monterey Bay Aquarium after writing a paper on its architecture, and told her I’d like to see it in person. I knew little about where else we were going. I’d just come from Western Massachusetts, land of cornfields, grey stone, green knolls, and easily driveable distances. I found the soaring ochre hills here a bit overwhelming. I thought they might actually eat me. But what, I considered, is an adventure worth without a little intimidation?

When we reached the coast, we parked (carefully, carefully) at a roadside overlook and peered ahead at the arch of Bixby Bridge. We snapped photos, joked, wondered if the black winged shapes circling high overhead were condors. (Alas. Turkey vultures. Impressive birds sadly condemned to popular dismissal by virtue of condor-proximity. I appreciate you, smaller bald scavengers!)

She brought up Foul Play, her favorite Californian movie, in which a young and fetchingly windblown Goldie Hawn drives up the very highway we now navigated, casting pensive looks at the waves far below as Barry Manilow’s “Ready to Take a Chance Again” plays in the background.

“T.,” my mother stated, “I need you to humor me and then never tell anyone about this.”*

“Is this going where I think it’s going? Are you a Fanilow?”

She kindly refrained from replying. In her place I might have offered me an unkind suggestion.

We got out her mp3 player and plugged it into a little speaker. As the non-driving half of our dynamic duo, I was in charge of logistics. I turned to her once we were on the road again. “Now?”

She assented, and I hit "play." Barry Manilow’s voice echoed off the cliffs as we drove, accompanied by my mother’s clear soprano in pitch-perfect harmony.

I couldn’t help thinking Goldie’d just been a bit outclassed.

*She changed her mind and gave me permission to blog about it. There was no duress involved. Honest.

***

Topmost photo copyright Shutterstock.com/Kenneth Sponsler. All other photos by Talia L.