Friday, February 27, 2015

What I'm Loving

The last week of February always drags on for me. My classes and meetings are taking over my schedule, as always, but I have lots of anticipation for my 21st birthday tomorrow and spring break the week after. Jake and I are escaping the subzero temperatures and heading to Florida!

Now, time for another weekly highlights post. I'm still trying to swing back into blogging, but I'm happy to say I hit my goal of posting three times this week.

What I'm Loving

30 Rock: Ever since Jake and I finished Arrested Development last year, we've been searching for a new TV show to watch on Netflix. This is actually a difficult task, considering I like dramas and sitcoms (The Vampire Diaries, Grey's Anatomy, Friends) and he likes crime shows or comedies that I don't find funny (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Law and Order, The Office). We finally found 30 Rock as a happy medium. We're only halfway through the first season, but the show is funny and quirky enough to entertain us both.  

Twitter blogger chats: I recently discovered the #USBloggerChat and #lblogger chat. Twitter chats are a great way to connect with other bloggers and give your blog some well-deserved attention. Here is a list of Blogger Twitter chats, compiled by Chelsea of Chowing Down by the Bay (which, by the way, is a great blog!)

Wild Madagascar Vanilla lotion: My sister got me Wild Madagascar Vanilla lotion and body spray from Bath & Body Works for Christmas, and I'm obsessed with the scent. The lotion is also life-saving for my impeccably dry skin.

Double (or triple) dates: I'd never been on a double (let alone a triple) date before, but last weekend, Jake and I went bowling with two other couples.  Since we went with friends, the experience wasn't awkward at all and everyone had a great time!

My Favorite Links

I'm sure you've all heard about the dress that's breaking the Internet. I was at a birthday party last night and half my friends were adamant "blue and black" supporters while the other half were "white and gold" supporters. I'm personally see a weird combination of blue and gold... no matter how much I try, I can't force myself to see any white in the image! Here's the science behind the dress and why people are seeing different colors.

In other "breaking the Internet" news, have you seen the llamas that escaped in Arizona? The video is hilarious.  The llamas led police and townspeople on a wild chase for almost an hour!

Buzzfeed released a funny cartoon as tribute to both the llamas and the dress.

Now enough with the dress. This list of the best and worst dressed at the 2015 Oscars is pretty spot-on. My personal list of best dressed celebrities at the Oscars includes Jamie ChungSienna Miller, Rosamund PikeJessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman, and Oprah. (Also, Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 white pearl dress was stolen from her hotel room!)

I made chicken pot pie soup this week, and it turned out fantastic.

Apparently Color Wow Speed Dry Blow Spray helps dry your hair in half the time. I might need to try this out.

So tell me, what color do you think the dress is? Do you have any other Netflix TV recommendations? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eating Garbage in Rochester

Unless you're from Rochester, New York, I'm willing to bet you've never heard of a "garbage plate" before. My boyfriend Jake, a Rochester native, told me about garbage plates almost three years ago. I thought he was joking – who would willingly eat something that referenced garbage? Images of food scraps and messy dishes filled my mind.

When Jake insisted that I try a garbage plate when I visited Rochester, I didn't really know what to expect. As it turns out, garbage plates are just a combination of different foods thrown together into one pile. For the bottom of the plate, customers usually choose two "sides" such as french fries, home fries, mac salad, or baked beans. On top of the sides is some sort of meat like hamburger patty, cheeseburger patty, hot dog (called "white hots" or "red hots" in Rochester), or sausage. Toppings vary, but typical options are ketchup, mustard, onion, and "hot sauce" (a spicy meat sauce).

Wimpy's Burger Basket

Stepping up to order my garbage plate, I decided on a pretty standard order: mac salad, home fries, cheeseburger patty, onion, mustard, and hot sauce. One bite made all of my suspicions disappear. The garbage plate exceeded my expectations; it was as if all of my favorite summer foods were uniting in one meal. The mac salad and fries worked surprisingly well together, and the smothering of hot sauce was delicious with everything. I actually want to recreate the hot sauce at home. Jake mixed the items on his plate together into one big ketchup-y mess but I kept my foods separate. I'm guess I'm not hardcore enough, by Rochester's standards.

Now whenever Jake and I visit his family in Rochester, we almost always stop to get garbage plates. Our favorite place is Wimpy's Burger Basket, which also sells normal hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, wraps, and other finger foods. Jake also recommends Nick Tahou Hots, dubbed "home of the garbage plate." If you ever find yourself in Rochester, New York, I suggest giving this strange local dish a try.
Nick Tahou Hots

Monday, February 23, 2015

Foodie Favorites: German Dishes

One of the best parts of studying abroad was trying all of the local authentic food wherever I went. I've been an adventurous eater ever since my dad gave me oysters and alligator tail as a little girl, so I don't shy away from any type of food. My motto is that I'll try everything at least once, just for the experience. I have quite an appreciation for good-tasting cuisine.

Since I studied in Berlin, most of the food I ate while abroad came from Germany. German food is flavorful and hearty, but also fattening and heavy. The Germans love bratwurst, bread, and loads of potatoes. I always felt full and content after a meat-and-potato-filled meal. Now that I'm back at college, I find myself craving some of my favorite German foods. Here's an overview the five dishes I miss the most.

Döner Kebab
Döner kebab is actually a Turkish dish brought to Germany by immigrants. Today, it's one of the most popular street foods in Berlin, with food carts selling döner kebab on practically every block. In the carts, a hunk of lamb or chicken meat hangs on a vertical stick that constantly turns. The chef thinnly shaves some of the meat into a toasted pita and usually tops it with grilled vegetables (tomato, onion, cucumber), yogurt sauce, and hot sauce. 

Many people in my study abroad program didn't like döner kebab, but I'm personally a big fan. The combination of warm meat, toasted bread, and cold sauces was mouth watering. Döner was especially nice as a midnight snack. My friends and I actually went to the most popular döner stand in Berlin, Mustafa's, which typically has an hour wait. The weather was crummy on the night we went to Mustafa's, so we only waited 20 minutes! I can't explain why, but the döner at Mustafa's is really the best in Berlin. I'm thinking the welcome addition of feta cheese has something to do with it. 

Currywurst is a Berlin specialty, served in restaurants and food trucks alike. To make currywurst, bratwurst is cut into bite-size pieces and covered with curry sauce, which is just ketchup mixed with curry powder. Currywurst is usually served with Pommes Frite (french fries) with dollops of normal ketchup and mayo. Mayonnaise on french fries sounds gross, but German mayo is more creamy and flavorful than American mayo. When I was abroad, a restaurant near my school sold the currywust and french fries pictured above for $4. Needless to say, I ate currywurst way more than I'd like to admit.

Bakery Sandwiches

Out of all of the food mentioned here, I miss German bakery items the most. Crisp, fresh bread and sugary pastries line the shelves, and pre-made sandwiches are filled with the freshest cheese and lunch meat. No wonder bakeries are such popular lunchtime destinations in Germany. My personal favorite bakery sandwich was tomato-mozarella-lettuce-pesto on a hard seeded roll from my local Back Werk. The high quality ingredients and crunchy bread kept me coming back at least once a week.

Hard Pretzels

Germans are rightfully known for their salty pretzels. The best pretzel I had was in Munich during Oktoberfest. The outside was buttery and crunchy, but the inside was warm and soft. My friends and I split five or six huge pretzels throughout our day at Oktoberfest... beer and pretzels are the perfect carb-filled combination.

Wiener Schnitzel
A post about German food wouldn't be complete without mentioning wiener schnitzel. To make this savory dish, a large piece of veal is pounded, breaded, and fried to perfection. I prefer the "Jagerschnitzel" version, where the veal is covered with a creamy mushroom sauce. In typical German fashion, schnitzel almost always comes with a side of potatoes. The schnitzel I had at the Haus der 100 Biere (House of 100 Beers) in Berlin, pictured above, was the best I had while abroad.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Winter Weather Essentials

Syracuse is really, really cold. The current temperature is -6 degrees Fahrenheit, but -22 degrees if you include the windchill. Students jokingly refer to Syracuse as the "tundra," but I don't think the reference is much of a joke. Going to school in the cold can be a struggle. But no matter how numb my legs get walking across campus, or how many times I bruise my butt by tripping on the ice-covered sidewalks (true story), I really do love my school and wouldn't trade it for anything.

Here are a few of my cold weather essentials to get me through the frigid Syracuse winter:

Warm clothes

I practically live in my obnoxiously chunky knee-length jacket, snow boots, and chunky scarves. If I don't bundle up to an absurd degree, my body literally stings from the cold. A closet full of oversized sweaters and cardigans doesn't hurt either.

(Here are similar pieces to my winter ensemble in the pictures: jacket, scarf, boots. I'm also obsessed with my warm knit hat.)

Soothing moisturizers

Face lotion, hand lotion, body lotion... you can never have enough moisturizer to fight the dry, flaky, itchy skin that inevitably accompanies cold weather and overpowered heaters. My lotions of choice are Suave Smoothing with Cocoa Butter & Shea Body Lotion for my body and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with sunscreen SPF15 for my face. I love the luxurious scents of the Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works lotions, but the additives for the scents make my dry skin burn. I also always have a Burt's Bees lip balm on hand.

Hydrating hair products

To bring back some moisture and shine to dry hair, I use Herbal Essences Hello Hydration shampoo and conditioner. OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum is also incredible – it creates shine that doesn't look oily.

Relaxing candles

I know a lot of bloggers and YouTubers swear by the Bath & Body Works candles, but I prefer Yankee Candle. I find that the scent is stronger and the candle burns for a longer time. My favorite scents this winter are Cinnamon Stick and Vanilla Cupcake.

A hearty supply of coffee and tea

As a caffeine addict, trust me when I say cup of joe is always ten times more tempting in chilly weather. This year, I've been loving Tim Hortons K-Cups for my Keurig. I also like Donut-Shop Coffee. Tea isn't my caffeinated drink of choice, but I'll occasionally opt for a mug of English Breakfast tea with almond milk.

Netflix, books, magazines, and anything else that will keep you occupied inside

When I don't have class, I sometimes can't bring myself to brace the negative temperatures outside. My lazy days are spent catching up on TV shows (The Vampire Diaries and Grey's Anatomy), working on my blog, and reading my favorite magazines.

What are your winter weather essentials?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Three Years My Valentine

Valentine's Day may be a cheesy holiday made for consumer purposes, but I'm admittedly a sucker for the cheesiness. Dates just seem so much more special and romantic when they have a purpose.

This year was my third Valentine's Day with Jake, and although the night had some delays, I couldn't have been happier. Syracuse naturally had a huge snow storm right before we left for dinner, so it took us a half hour instead of 10 minutes to get to the restaurant. My poor car isn't made for the Syracuse snow – the wheels kept skidding across the road and the brakes were practically useless. More than once we got stuck on a snow-covered hill and had to reverse back down and try another route. Let me tell you, reversing down a snowy, hilly road lined with cars while your own car won't get traction isn't fun.
Our dinner, though, was pretty awesome. Jake and I went to the Cheesecake Factory two years in a row now; we love the tasty dinner and relatively cheap prices. I got the popular Chicken Madeira and Jake got a burger. Of course, we had to get cheesecake for dessert, which we finished off for breakfast the next morning. No shame! I got caramel cheesecake and Jake chose Oreo.

After dinner, we went to a grocery store and bought a shovel because my puny car couldn't conjure enough power to get up my driveway, even with revving the engine on full force. Luckily Jake was a good sport and shoveled the driveway in his dress shoes and pants. The rest of the night, we did what we do best: Netflix!

Here's what I've learned after three Valentine's Day celebrations with Jake:

1. Don't go to to Cheesecake Factory at 6 p.m. on Valentine's Day or you'll wait four hours for a table. If you go at 10 p.m., you'll still have a half hour wait. Apparently everyone's hungry for some cheesecake.
2. If you DO decide to go somewhere with a line, bring a snack so you don't get hangry. Trust me on this one. Nothing ruins the mood like a crazy hangry girlfriend.
3. Leftover cheesecake makes a great breakfast.
4. Chocolate is a sweet gift, but not as thoughtful as popcorn and a movie.
5. If a boy shovels your driveway in a suit coat and dress shoes, he's a keeper.
6. Take lots of pictures, and dress up if you want. Valentine's Day rolls around once a year.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

What I'm Loving

College has taken control of my life. Classes, homework, extracurriculars, campus magazines, job applications, social life... I've been stretched thin over the last few weeks. I decided to start a series here on Meet Me in Midtown in order to motivate myself to post more, in spite of my hectic schedule. The series is called "What I'm Loving" and will basically showcase my favorite finds every two weeks. Let's get started...

What I'm Loving

Avocados: Of course I have to become obsessed with avocados when they aren't even in season, but the fruit really adds to a lot of my favorite dishes. I've been making guacamole and even putting avocado on grilled chicken.

Podcasts: I just discovered podcasts and I'm hooked. After a friends' recommendation, I started listening to Serial, which is a crime story told through 12 different episodes. The podcast really grabbed my attention and keeps me entertain during my brutal walk to class, which leaves me to...

Snow (kind of): Living in Central New York has its downfalls, like today's predicted temperature of -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr. My legs get numb just walking to class. However, if it's going to be -22 degrees, there might as well be a pretty layer of snow on the ground, right?

Chunky scarfs: Chunky scarfs are functional in Syracuse's freezing temperatures but they also look cute with a sweater and jeans or leggings.

Valentine's Day: Jake and I are going to the Cheesecake Factory!

Here are some links from around the web:

My Favorite Links:

I'm making this Philly Cheese Steak recipe for dinner tonight.

Not all advertisements are evil. These are some of the most powerful I've seen. 

Love this black and brown purse from Tignanello.

An interesting and well-written article from The New Yorker about life in the nineties.

Have you seen pictures of the Kanye West x adidas fashion show? Or Anna Wintour's reaction to a crying North West?

I need a good pair of snow boots, like these from the North Face

A dupe for Panera mac n' cheese? Yes, please!

Have a great weekend and a nice Valentine's Day, filled with chocolate and love!