Saturday, May 29, 2010

Great News!

Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, the two gay Malawaians who where convicted for "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts" for holding an engagement ceremony last year have been pardoned by the President and released following pressure exerted by U.N. Head Ban Ki-Moon. This is terrific news. Now let's just hope they can get out of the country to someplace safe before they are lynched!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Victoria Day Weekend!

It's a long weekend here in Canada - the official start of summer and opening up cottages. And it's supposed to be sunny and hot all weekend! We need it! The leaves are now all fully out, and I've mowed the grass twice now already. This afternoon we're off to my nephew's 40th birthday party. I made a banana-chocolate chip-sour cream cake in his honour. Should be a good afternoon.

As long-ago promised, here is the link to Brad's blog that he created to share his stories and pics from the bike trip he did last fall between Ottawa and home, here in New Brunswick. Please check it out here.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gay Ultimate Fighter?

Hmmm... I think I might have to start watching Spike TV on Wednesday nights!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

More NYC! (at last!)

Man, the time sure flies, and I have been a very lazy blogger of late. My apologies to anyone who's still out there!

Thought I'd post a few more pics from NYC and finish that chapter in any case...

We took off from Halifax airport, which is about 3 and a half hours away by car. Since it was mid-April, we had decided to remove our studded winter tires and put on regular ones for spring and summer. Of couse, since we had done that, we ran into snow in the Cobiquid Pass! It was like going from spring right back into winter in the matter of minutes. In any case, it just slowed us down a little and we were back into spring on the other side in about a half hour.

Going through security at HFX, for some reason, various places on my body kept setting off the beeping wand and the security guy have me a thorough going-over. Sometimes my hip replacement will set off the darn things, but this time, it was the cuffs of my pants that seem to be causing the most beeps! I was finally given the all clear, and then the next security guy asked if he could open my luggage. I told him of course, and this was the first time I've seen them use one of those swipe contraptions, which they run over your things and along the side of the suitcase and then analyze it right there. Supposed to pick of traces of explosives, I guess, and thankfully they found none in my case! ;)

Soon enough, we were on board and within 2 hours, we had touched down at Newark Liberty, which is the only airport in NYC that I will fly into and out of! (Just one of my quirks.) I also like Newark because of its easy access to the city. You just hop on the sky train and then jump onto a NJ Transit train and within a half hour, you're at Penn Station. From there was took a cab to the apartment we had rented in the East Village/Lower East Side.

We met the landlord (a young gal originally from the Dominican Republic) at the building and she gace us the keys and showed us around the 2-bedroom second-floor apartment. It was a bit small, but it had everything we needed and it was very clean. After settling in a bit, we headed down to the Essex Street Market to pick up some basic supplies (milk, bread, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, etc.). It was just about a 7 minute walk away and meet our needs perfectly. On the way back, we ran across a wine shop, so we picked up a few bottles there as well. It was just around the corner and would become our default place to pick up vino.

After unpacking our purchases and having a glass or two of wine, it was time to make our way to Aroma, a restaurant Brad and I had eaten at last year and very much enjoyed. It too was just a 10 minute walk away. We had another terrific meal there and the service was very good as well.

After walking around Washington Park and getting to know our hood a bit, we decided to make it an early night and were back at the apartment and in bed by 11:00 p.m.

The next morning, we walked down to Wall Street (where a Polish flag was flying at half mast from the NY Stock Exchange Building to commemorate the tragic plane crash that had just taken place there days earlier). We took a gander at the construction going on at Ground Zero and then ducked into Century 21 (a big department store) to do some shopping.

After that, Christiane and I followed Brad has he guided us through the subway system and we ended up at Columbus Circle. I had made lunch reservations at A voce, which is a beautiful Italian restaurant on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Centre. I had requested a table by the window, and we got it! A great view from inside a beautiful restaurant in the middle of Manhatten - what more could you ask for? Great food? We got that too! This was probably our best meal of the trip. I started off with the Baccala, which is a succluent piece of salt cod poached in olive oil with olives, raisins, and pine nuts. I then had the special, a ravoli stuffed with guancia (basically bacon from the pig's cheek) with a delicate lemony sauce - devine! Brad also swears that he had the best dessert of his life here - a vanilla bean panna cotta with meyer lemon and thyme.

After our terrific lunch, we waddled a few blocks up to the Met (where we were seeing Armida that evening) so Christiane could see the place in daylight. Then it was a stroll through Central Park at the entrance to which we were accosted by seriously sexy dudes who tried to pursuade us to let them give us a scenic tour of the park on the back of their rick-shaws. "Please, Mister, you'll like it!" Believe me, it was all I could do to say no thanks! We walked through The Strawberry Fields, which has a John Lennon memorial, and then farther down the Park until we eventually caught the subway back to our pied-à-terre. We decided to just have a light dinner of salad at the apartment before heading back uptown to the Met for the opera.

The opera was good, but a little long - and both Brad anbd I agreed that they could have cut the entire Second Act without losing very much. It was raining when it let out, so Christiane and I huddled under our one umbrella and Brad got quite wet until we were safely back underground and on the subway. By the time we reached the LES, it was mostly just drizzling. We turned in around 12:30 a.m. to the sounds of a loud party going on somewhere in the building, but when we shut the bedroom doors and turned on the air conditioners, nary a sound was heard.

Saturday morning was spent shopping in SoHo - hiting Sabon, Dean & Deluca, and Crate and Barrel, to name but a few. We all had to pee at one point so we stopped in a café and Christiane ordered a tea and a muffin and we all used the facilities. Brad got a biscotti and when he bit into it, a rather large chunk of one of his molars broke off! Yikes! Fortunately, it wasn't painful and he just had to baby that side of his mouth for the rest of the trip until he got to the dentist back at home.

We walked up to Union Square and grabbed a chicken pita from an outdor vendor for lunch and then walked back to the apartment for some down time and to get ready for dinner at The Red Cat. This was another reservation I had made prior to leaving Canada and we had another terrific meal there. And again we lucked out with a window table. I started with shrimp fritters with an aoli dipping sauce (app special that night), and they were delicious, but very, very hot! Producing lots of sweat on my forehead. I then had the grilled pork tenderloin, which was superb (We basically had decided to forego our basically vegetarian ways for this trip.) Apple profiteroles for dessert sealed the deal sweetly. Another great spot that I highly recommend.

We then took the subway up to Broadway where we saw Fela. It was absolutely amazing and again I would highly recommend it to anyone. Please do check out the link. Christiane was almost in tears by the end of it - just because it was so good! After a long stroll down Broadway and into Times Square (which is absolutely amazing at night - Brad and I had mostly been there in the daytime before), we again headed home on the subway - Christiane and Jeff following Brad as usual :)

Sunday morning we had a light breakfast at the apartment and then hooked up with a group who had booked a food tour of Brooklyn. It was a 4-hour tour conducted by an experienced guide and we ended up having everything from Polish Kielbasa sausage to a Cuban sandwich, containing copious amounts of delicious pulled pork! We had never been to Brooklyn, so it was a perfect way to make its acquaintance.

We walked back to the apartment from the drop-off point and we actually considered cancelling our reservation at La Sirène that evening because were so full, but we didn't and we had another very enjoyable meal at this tiny BYOB spot in SoHo.

Another subway trip and we were home, this time to pack up our things in preparation for a very early morning. The alarm was set for 4:30 a.m., as we all had to get up and shower and be ready to leave by 6:00 a.m. in order to be at Newark in time for our 9:00 a.m. flight. We ended up taking a cab out to the airport, as it was not much more expensive than taking a cab to Penn station and then going out on NJ Transit. We made it there in plenty of time and had a good flight back, but a tedious drive home in the pouring rain. But all and all, it was a terrific trip and time very well spent. And we've already decided that NYC will be a yearly event on our calendars from now on...

Here are a few more pics:

Polish flag at half mast

View from A voce onto Columbus Circle

Another view from A voce

Dudes cleaning the fountain at The Met

John Lennon memorial in the Strawberry Fields

Yoko Ono still has an apartment in this building

Christiane and I in Little Cuba

Genuine Knishes on the Lower East Side

Welcome to 1920!

Red Square on the Lower East Side!

Polish restaurant in Brooklyn

Yummy sausages!

Christiane with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

The Empire State Building as seen from DUMBO (Down Underneath the Manhatten Bridge Overpass)

The City