sending postcards
a travelogue by alex and mina

rice to riches

• 16 notes •

We would like to preface this post with the fact that, prior to visiting New York, we hated rice pudding. We hated the texture, we hated the flavour, and we hated how it looks. So, naturally, when we came across a place that ONLY serves rice pudding, it made complete sense to go in.

After dinner at Lombardi's, we made our way to the subway to make it back to our hotel, but not before noticing a building that was so brightly lit that you couldn't help but wonder what was going on inside. We peered in and realized that it was a place that one of our lovely readers had recommended. The cheeky signs lured us in. Rice to Riches is a trendy spot in NoLIta that has rice pudding in every flavor you could imagine.

It was difficult to decide on a flavor. We didn't want to commit to buying two desserts so we shared one. We settled on french toast flavored pudding with strawberries on top. It was unbelievable.

We would buy this by the buckets if we lived in NYC (because you actually can) and you can also get it delivered (like everything else in New York) and then we could get fat in the privacy of our own homes until we overdosed on delicious rice pudding.

i ate at lombardi's

• 11 notes •

You can't go to NYC without trying some 'New York style' pizza - and that we did, on several occasions. We're not pizza snobs and we definitely don't discriminate when it comes to styles of pizza, but we were curious to find out what all the fuss was about. When we solicited you guys for recommendations of NYC pizza places, we got some great suggestions (thank you)!

Someone recommended Lombardi's, we took note of it, and went to check out "the birth place of New York style pizza". Apparently, they don't even have a freezer, so all of their ingredients are really fresh.

We got in after a 30 minute wait  (not bad for New York, we're told) and sat at a table for two with a red and white checked table cloth. We drank Italian soda and shared a pretty decent pie.

Thank you for the emails you've sent us with tips for your hometown or letting us know what you enjoyed on your vacations. We're so grateful that you guys stumbled on our blog and help us out from time to time. 

late show with david letterman

• 9 notes •

When we initially planned our return to NYC, we sent in a request for tickets to see a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. We heard nothing from the show until a few days before the taping. We followed their strict instructions, and made our way to the historic Ed Sullivan Theater by mid-afternoon on the day of the show.

Arriving early, we decided to do the requisite complement to a Late Show taping: a visit to Rupert! For those not familiar with American late night television, Rupert is the proprietor of the Hello Deli (located adjacent to the Ed Sullivan Theater). During the first year of his show (1993), host David Letterman interviewed characters from the neighborhood surrounding his theater as a sketch. Rupert's sheer lack of charisma and affability quickly made him a favourite of both the viewers and Letterman. He still spends his days selling reasonably priced sandwiches, and now poses for pictures with tourists.

Partially because we were hungry, and partially out of amusement, we bought a Regis Philbin sandwich (roast chicken, muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing on a baguette) and I posed for a photo with Rupert.

After eating, we lined up to be given our tickets and a pre-show briefing (no hats, no photography, etc…), and warned about the near freezing temperature of the studio (allegedly Dave's idea to improve sound and keep the audience from dozing off), before being told to return in an hour for seating.

We spent the time in nearby Central Park, and made our way back to queue up for seats. At this point in time, an intern runs through the rules and fire safety details with the audience. They also imply, in a joking tone (yet with a sense of seriousness), that you may be asked to leave if you are not enthusiastic enough with your clapping and laughing (seriously). Somewhere along the line we were told our guests for the show were going to be Sarah Jessica Parker and The Black Keys. For your viewing pleasure, an arbitrary clip from the show of SJP being purposefully verbose:

The experience was similar to seeing Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, except everyone at Letterman seemed to hate their jobs and our hands hurt from clapping for fear that we'd be thrown out if we didn't. While not being as interesting as The Roots, Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra are incredibly well rehearsed and talented, and Mina was trilled to see the Black Keys live because she's a fan of the band.

Leaving the theater, we headed to the side street with hopes of taking some paparazzi style photos of the guests leaving. Unfortunately, we were beat by the pros, who were busy taking pictures of the Salahis (who made an uninteresting cameo during Dave's monologue). If you don't know who they are, consider yourself a better person for it.


• 10 notes •

New York was pretty normal about portion sizes. For the most part, you either got what you paid for or way less than what you expected. So, we forgot that we were in the States for a moment, and forgot the lessons we learned in Chicago, and didn't inquire about what we were ordering at Junior's in Grand Central Station.

We don't understand! How can anyone eat that much sugar? So much sugar that your tongue starts to hurt. You're not supposed to get injured while eating cake. Whose idea was it to serve slices so huge? It's all so perplexing.

The root beer float was unnecessarily large too. It was delicious, and we hate wasting food, but we didn't want to leave with diabetes either. You should go to Junior's, if you have the chance because their desserts are very good. Just go with, like, 10 friends and maybe you'll get through one slice of cheesecake!

ricky gervais

• 12 notes •

When we heard that we could see Ricky Gervais at the Madison Square Garden Theater, we were all over it. Like most people, we found out about Ricky Gervais years ago when we watched BBC's The Office (the only good Office!!) The series continues to be one of our favorite shows.

Here's a snapshot from his set in NYC, of Mr. Gervais pointing out two (apparently) gay dolphins mating:

We had already seen this bit in the Animals special he did. It's kind of lame that he reused some material, but there was a lot of new stuff and we laughed again at the old jokes, so, no harm done. If you're curious about what he was talking about in the above photo, you can watch the bit here (if you're sensitive to vulgar comedy, or at work, you should probably skip clicking the link).

We know we've mentioned his podcasts before, but if you haven't listened to them you should. If you have, then you're familiar with his buddy, Karl Pilkington. We're pretty excited about seeing their upcoming project, where Karl goes to see the 7 wonders of the world:

...AND the book, An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington, comes out today! We're sure it will be an amusing read.

Oh yeah, and we sat near Zach Galifianakis at the show, no big deal.

stand burger (+ milkshakes!)

• 19 notes •
Although Stand Burger is known for, well, burgers, we were more curious to try one of their wide assortment of milkshakes. Honey lavender chocolate, maple almond, chocolate peanut butter cup, and pumpkin are a few of the unusual flavours they have on the menu. We shared the toasted marshmallow shake. In case you're wondering, it was delicious. The burgers are pretty good too.

late night with jimmy fallon

• 17 notes •
Jimmy Fallon seems like the happiest man alive. We sat in on one of his monologue rehearsals and were attended a full show taping. He was constantly smiling or laughing with his staff and The Roots, even during commercials breaks (unlike David Letterman, but more on that later). We know he's not the funniest comedian, but we love him anyway because he's just such a happy dude. Check us out in the back row, clapping out of time (we can be spotted near the end of the video):

Anyway, we got boring guests. We can't even remember the name of the actress, there was the winner of American Idol (not fans of that show), and Circa Survive. Sorry if you like the band, but seriously, they are really really awful.... AND the lead singer accosted Alex. (!!)

When we were standing in line for the monologue rehearsal, some guy asked us if we wanted to play instruments in the battle of the bands. We were too embarrassed to participate, so we declined. Then for the full show, someone asked us if we wanted to be on stage with Circa Survive and Alex volunteered the both of us to be on stage, despite the fact that neither of us were familiar with the band. They kept telling us to "really rock out" and to "look psyched". I was mortified. I rarely even look enthusiastic about things I actually enjoy, so they were asking a lot of me.

We sat in the back row during the show and then they escorted the people who they chose to the stage and tried to hype us up by telling us that the lead singer was "crazy". He was like a greasier, less talented version of Billy Talent's frontman - his nasal voice was irritating so I'll spare you the video of the performance. At some point, he started hugging Alex and pulling his hair. Some screen shots from the episode:

Where am I, you ask? I was hiding behind one of the emo-hipsters so as not to appear on television. I was successful in my endeavor!

Despite the crappy guests and the hair-pulling, we both had a great time. We got to see The Roots live and for free! They're so incredibly good and they played Thought@Work during the commercial break (the one with The Beatles' Hey Bulldog sample). Also, did we mention that we love Jimmy? - Mina


• 15 notes •

The meal at Haru Sushi's Upper West Side location was just what we were looking for. I would honestly eat sushi every single day if I could. We try to sit at the bar when we can, because after reading The Sushi Economy, we have it in our heads that you get better sushi that way. Whether it's true or not, it's always neat to see the sushi chefs at work. Haru was recommended to us by a friend. We're always pretty reluctant to just walk into a sushi restaurant because it's the type of food that can easily be made very poorly. What are your favorite sushi restaurants? that we know when we're in your neck of the woods.

subway blues

• 4 notes •

After a particularly late night of gallivanting around NYC, we sat and waited for our ride to show up while the gentleman above entertained us. He was good. We definitely would have emptied our pockets for him had he been on our platform. He stopped his song at the perfect moment to yell "TRAIN SOLO" as the subway loudly and un-melodically rolled in, rudely interrupting his tune.

We were kind of hoping we would catch the Xylopholks somewhere around town, but alas, it was not meant to be. Maybe next time.


• 11 notes •

On a rainy NYC day, we dined at Balthazar, a restaurant in SoHo that serves "traditional bistro fare". Their seafood bar was prominently on display and looked pretty enticing, but we were still put off from the mussels we ate in Belgium, so we skipped it.

We started with the sweet pea ravioli. It was very similar to the edamame ravioli we had at Buddakan except that it also included ricotta, mint and crispy pancetta.

Sweet Pea Ravioli with ricotta, mint and crispy pancetta.

Alex ordered the roasted chicken which was served with fingerling potatoes, swiss chard, tarragon, and chanterelles (I stole a few off his plate and they are now my favorite kind of mushroom). I went with the classic steak frites.

We want the cookbook now so that we can try to recreate that pasta and the roast chicken someday. We are pretty bad cooks, but we're hoping that all the eating we've been doing will automatically make us excellent chefs. That's how it works, right?

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