Category Archives: food

it was all a dream: postscript


Did I ever tell you the story about this fortune?


I didn’t want you to think our plane from London had gotten sucked up by the Bermuda Triangle en route to the US two weeks ago, and we had been living a dual life on a mysterious island run by the Dharma Initiative ever since.

That didn’t happen. The flight home (“home”) to Virginia was fine. Uneventful, really. Actually, eventful. For some reason Bryan tended to the kids the entire eight hours and I watched two movies, got hooked on some newish tv and read my book. That’s kind of like a Bermuda Triangle-thing to happen. Eerie but maybe exciting.

I’m checking in now because I finally have five seconds to do so, and because I want to make sure you know that I have read each and every one of your recent comments over the last few weeks and all the emails that have been sent to me personally.

I feel you.

And thank you.

I feel humbled by your support of this blog. (I feel uncomfortable too. Self-deprecation intermixed with random bouts of self-fandom (but only self) is more my steez.)

That said, I have my big girl pants (is it pants pants or trousers?) on and I am taking everything into consideration. I guess as they would say in the country from whence I just came: Watch This Space.

Our last few weeks in London were exhausting in a good way. So many goodbyes. So many things to try to see and do one last time. And the weather was so profoundly bad, it ripped at least 50% of the life force out of all of us. Can you believe I put weather on the list of things I would miss? I meant to say “narrower possible range of temperatures” but instead I said “weather” and now I have to spend my whole (hopefully very long but also quality) life living with that error. We had a last-minute pub night, dinner with friends at Mr. Chow, received many beautiful gifts that are incredibly meaningful to me and all very coincidentally feature something London or Britain-themed, and then for our very last weekend we were in a hotel which kind of befitted the surreal element to leaving a place bittersweetly. Nothing was cinematic about that very last weekend. No flat to look at longingly one last time. It was raining too hard to indulge in one last walk through Regent’s Park. Instead we managed to spontaneously make plans with four different friend sets and their kids on our last full day and so Jonah had at least four opportunities to faux-spear someone with a toy sword. And we ate unremarkable room service. Not bangers & mash or fish & chips, but just something generic and hotel-y. It’s like the gods knew I would want an easy transition.

But this next part is like a movie. You see, separately Matt & Trish and Melissa & Nick had requested to see us off at the airport on Sunday. And I said No multiple times. Why would someone want to say goodbye that way? It seems like so much trouble and a waste of their Sunday. What if they were just offering to be nice? Bryan – because he is normal and has a normal brain and normal self-esteem – told everyone they could come if they wanted to. And it was a good thing he/they did. 1. Because ultimately they were there for our kids, and our kids loved having them there. 2. Trish wrote out like 15 luggage ID tags for me. 3. Everyone helped with the luggage and Bryan couldn’t have his normal luggage-related outbursts. 4. I totally cried and cried and cried in the line at security looking back at our friends. Because no matter what I write or photograph or say, Jonah and Simon will never know how much they were loved by these people in the very beginning of them.


I pulled myself together after Security. I mean, is anyone ever still crying after Security? Can you imagine a Hollywood blockbuster where the heroine has to take off her shoes, then her coat, then check her pockets for loose change, then remind herself what earrings she’s wearing, then take her laptop out of her bag, then ask someone if a Kindle counts but everyone in line is glaring at her, then – because everyone in line is glaring at her and it’s making her nervous – fumbles through her purse and realizes she has no fewer than five little pots of lip balms and glosses and she forgot to grab one of those little plastic bags from the beginning of the Security line and now she has to withstand the fiery death stares of all the people who knew to grab the bag at the outset because THERE WERE HUGE SIGNS TELLING EVERYONE TO GRAB A BAG and it’s especially stressful because no one ever even knows if lip balm is a liquid or a solid and it’s such a grey area about lip balm really, then wait like an a-hole at the end of the conveyor belt seeing the first tray of her stuff come within reach but then stop while the Security person viewing the video screen stares and stares and stares and rewinds the conveyor belt and stares and then forwards it and the whole time even though there is nothing even remotely exciting inside and it’s obvious that even if there was, no one would catch it. Oh and then the part where it takes another hour just to get dressed again and re-pack everything and do it awkwardly while holding on to the end of the conveyor belt for balance. There’s no cinematic crying after that.

One thing I was reminded of that I love about Not-America is communal space airport seating. You wait in the middle of a huge atrium of shops and duty-free offerings and food and drink and you only go to your gate at the very last possible minute once the gate is announced. It’s like flight as train travel. I like it. Anyway, so there we were in communal waiting mode in Heathrow’s Terminal I-Can’t-Remember. And all of a sudden a little traditional Irish music duo sets up on chairs in the middle of it all and begins to play staggeringly perfect melodies as soundtrack to The Leaving. Violin, guitar, I think, I don’t know exactly. I only knew that I was dancing with my kids and thinking wait, maybe I can conjure up some tears again! Then Bryan hands me a book he had been secretly making for three months of photos of our entire five years. Dayenu.

And now, we are post-London. A tour through it:

My mom was standing there outside baggage claim with a Thomas the Train balloon. I knew she would have a balloon. A seven word sentence that encapsulates so very much.

I walked to the wrong side of our rental car to get in the front passenger seat.

I ate bacon the very next morning. The American kind.

Servers at restaurants keep giving me ice in my drinks and refilling them before I can ask or be asked. Mind blown.

We bought a car. I’m still not used to the idea.


The NCAA Tournament started and I honestly and truly was confused for a second. For five years Bryan had been deprived of live sports-viewing and it was awesome (for me). And now it’s not awesome (for me).

We started to clean out some of the 9,000 boxes we keep at my parents’. I’m a reformed hoarder but I can’t part yet with every note I ever took in law school. It’s sort of like as long as I hold on to my Criminal Procedure II final exam outline, the reality of my $100+K student loan debt and unemployed status will remain only a light-hearted and whimsical cocktail party anecdote. Should we ever be invited to a cocktail party.

We keep getting to see Amurrican friends, and our friends’ kids. Thanks for having us back, guys.

The sun keeps shining. Every day it shines and I think “what luck!” Eventually I will take it for granted but for now, it is so exciting!

I’ll be in Virginia for another month with the kids before our Brooklyn palace/shanty is ready. My parents/step-parents are loving on us and taking care of us and it feels good. They didn’t want us to live far away but we came back and now they never have to worry or feel sorry for themselves again! Except sometimes Bryan mentions job offers in Hong Kong for fun.

As our Between Countries And Moves vacation, we spent five days in Charleston, South Carolina visiting my younger brother and sister-in-law.


If you’ve never been, you are crazy. Go see why Conde Nast readers just voted Charleston the #1 top city to visit in the United States. When I hear all the upwardly-mobile British people yammer on about San Francisco and all the cab drivers recounting their last five trips to Orlando, I want to grab and shake them and say CHARLESTON! GO TO CHARLESTON! It’s beautiful and Southern charming and has beaches and is a foodie haven and people are so ridiculously friendly and they really do say y’all and it’s actually American enough to have started the Civil War. What was San Francisco doing while the rest of the country was fighting over slavery and someotherstuff?? Probably boring crap like prospering on the Gold Rush and legalizing gay marriage. Lame.


Also, in the South they do things like drive pick-up trucks and wear visors even when not golfing and eat grits and drink sweet tea and run for office using actual nicknames like “Teddy” and play Cornhole.

Micah and Janelle were like the best hosts on Earth. Micah wanted the kids so badly to himself, he got Bryan and me a night in a hotel downtown. His Uncle Energy is 24-7. They had toys and books for the kids and Janelle had organized an art project and baking and had – wait for it – made tater tots from scratch.

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Then we got back to Virginia and explored the new Air & Space museum at Dulles with my dad and step-mom.

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Then my mom had a Passover Seder and there was great company and legendary brisket.

For some reason this is the only picture I took that came out.

For some reason this is the only picture I took that came out.

Then the kids did an Easter Egg Roll in my mom’s neighborhood. I kept almost dying of preciousness.

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Then we came down to my dad and step-mom’s for a few days. And they had a million family members over for Easter. And it was lovely. And my dad put a Peep in every single dish. And as I have mentioned before, the Brits do not have Peeps. Which says so very much about the vast divide between our two cultures.

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And now

well, now this blog has officially gone off-topic.

Maybe we’ll meet again soon.



Filed under family, food, friends, photos, travel, weather

5 signs today that it’s time to go interlude

  1. Bryan is still sick. He got the flu the day we landed here over 5 years ago. It’s full circle. Buh-bye.
  2. It was snowing on and off all day today. No accumulation and sometimes it would just last for a minute. But still. This is like the 18th time this winter. In London! It just feels like the Apocalypse is coming or something.
  3. Two businessmen sitting at the next table from Simon and me at Giraffe each ate an entire hamburger with a fork and knife. I’m just done.
  4. After an afternoon session at our favorite indoor soft play today, I took the boys for a snack at the cafe in the leisure centre. Gwyneth Paltrow was with her kids and some other kids at the table next to me the entire time we were there. But, I’ve already seen her. It’s time to head back to a place where I have only seen Jay-Z once.
  5. And this is the most divine sign of all: When I was in Boots this morning and I was buying a few things, I put in my Advantage card like I always do and the clerk actually exclaimed “You have enough points!” It’s been a loooong time since that has happened and it has to mean something. I have used up my Boots points. Our work here is done.


Filed under a bunch of boring stuff, celebrities, food, weather


The movers picked up 90% of our stuff on Friday. As I had to decide what things were worthy of a long boat voyage (read: totally not important to our everyday lives), I was reminded yet again that moving six times in 10 years has been a great gift to me. I have shed most of my hoarding tendencies and attach myself very little to objects. That’s not to say when I disassembled the baby cot last night, I didn’t pause for five seconds to think about the years both my kids have slept in it- chubby legged, stuffed-animal clutching, dummy-dropping, sweet slumber they had. But, buh-bye cot/crib. Thanks for the memories.

International moves, international living… it’s a mind f—. We had an Everything Must Go sale since none of the electric cords on anything are compatible and frankly, if I want more plastic toys Made in China for the kids, we’ll just pick them up in the next country we live in where there is no shortage of plastic Made in China toys. In the moving, there is a lot of looking at things and thinking about things that a person could ordinarily go years and years without considering. Do I love this zester enough? What does this framed photograph really mean to me? Why did I ever keep this tank top that has never not made me look like a cast member of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

The move also meant we finally had to clean out the deep, secret part of our closet where we had hidden for months and years Toys Which Turn Into Weapons At The Hands Of Our Ill-Bred Children:


To be fair, the sword could only be interpreted as one thing.

That sucked. They totally started beating each other up again as soon as these were revealed.

Yesterday was “Mothering Sunday” in the UK. And so I want to say Happy Early Mother’s Day to my own mom, she of renowned blogging, socializing, smiling, house-selling, shopping and returning fame. If we’re lucky, we get all the best parts of our moms when we become moms. Mom, for five years you never let me go too long without feeling far away and too long without letting me know you were thinking of us. I hope I turn out like you. (At least 99%.)


The last two weeks have been some of the busiest for us. It was a little crazy, but a good problem to have.

Two weeks ago Monday we had Erin over, an American who just transferred to the London office where Bryan works. She asked me if there was a Crate & Barrel-like equivalent in the UK and it was like nostalgic deja vu. Every day Americans move to this great city, and every day Americans leave. And so we reinvent the wheel each and every time, asking into the big, gray abyss of a sky: “But where do I buy home accents?!” Oh it will come. It will come. Tuesday Faye and I watched our second to last Bachelor together. We’ll always have the blog at least. Wednesday I had a great lunch with Christina where our kids were being super crazy but we didn’t care. Thursday I had a “last” lunch with Mike who is my former office mate and still-friend. His absolute favorite thing full stop about the U.S. are the billboard ads of personal injury lawyers. Also, I like to ask questions about the menu and request substitutions in front of Mike, because I know it stresses him out. Rachel sent me this revelatory BBC America blog about Brits adjusting to life in America and this entry is for you, MikeFriday Lauren came over for playdate and she didn’t mind when I made frozen chicken nuggets for the kids’ dinner and that night Bryan and I went to MeatLiquor with Melissa, Nick, Duncan and Tessa. It was really fun and nice to actually go out with the person who has been looking after our kids for years and the parents of Jonah’s best friend who Melissa also watches. We have always all been friends and it helps that MeatLiquor is so ridiculously fun, plays awesome music and they even added a photo booth.

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I never expected I would miss the hamburgers and steaks in London. Maybe I won’t. But wow have things changed in five years. Saturday we had brunch in Hammersmith at the home of one of Bryan’s colleagues. I may or may not have eaten my fruit salad incorrectly (I used my breakfast plate and a fork.), I will have to check Debrett’s. That night we hosted six friends over for dinner. I hate cooking for people but there was a long-running joke with our friends Andrea and Sarah about whether chicken parm and fettuccine alfredo could be classified as “Italian” food. So that’s what I made and it wasn’t horrible and now I can move back to Brooklyn having done my ambassadorial work for this genre of food.

Oh and then this past week. Sunday we met baby Mysha, the second born to Faisal and Habiba. Faisal said something very lovely about both of us becoming families of four during our time in London. Sigh. While we were there, Jonah’s Uncle from Another Mother, Matt, took him to see Wreck-It Ralph. And then proceeded to play in his room with him for hours more because, well, they’re in love.

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Monday Nandini sweetly organised a dinner for a few of us at NOPI. It’s always so miraculous when a bunch of moms can go out on a school night and I do always cherish the conversations we have on work/life balance and families with moms coming from international perspectives. Tuesday we saved just for Bryan and me. We had a drink at Paramount Bar at the top of Centre Point with incredible 360 degree views of London at night. I don’t really know how to use our camera but anyway, I loved this short time we carved out to just look at this city we love and feel okay about leaving. It was sort of like, “Oh look! There is the gorgeous roof of the British Museum! We’re moving and we won’t see it anymore and we’ll survive!”

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We followed with dinner at Pollen Street Social, a new very it place and the food was incredible. They even have special chairs for your handbag/purse. I know. Wednesday Bryan’s office hosted all the spouses and kids to lunch to say goodbye to us and it was as thoughtful and fun as ever. The NY office has big shoes to fill for our family. Thursday Matt and Trish got last-minute tickets to see Of Monsters and Men in Shepherd’s Bush. Even though I always accidentally call the band Of Mice and Men, the album is a current favorite of mine and I loved the show.


And I got to see Westfield (my favorite mall ever) one last time and the part of my heart that loves Pho and British chain stores went pitter patter. Friday the movers came. There were three movers and each wanted three cups of tea throughout the day and so I had to prepare nine cups total. I was sweating hard. I have mentioned I hate making tea for the English, right? Apparently I didn’t add enough milk. Whatever. We all had last haircuts with Hiroko. We will miss her, we really will.


(I know I look pregnant, but I’m not, so jam it.)

At night we went out w/ Sara & Nick and it was really fun and they gave Bryan a mug that says “Don’t Be Daft” so we’re pretty much set. Saturday wee Pau had his first birthday and at night we very luckily scored a double-date on Faye & David’s coveted Ledbury booking. It was probably our last fancy London dinner out and it was the perfect company. Yesterday it was UK Mother’s Day and Bryan was sick so I just took the kids myself for a quiet, little breakfast at Nordic Bakery.


Nordic Bakery is among my favorite things in London. It is famous for its cinnamon rolls


but my heart belongs to this totally weird, and totally delicious thing:


And now it’s snowing. And I wish I was moving to Florida, not the mid-Atlantic. But I would miss the chicken parm and fettuccine alfredo, so I’ll just let it be.


Filed under a bunch of boring stuff, food, friends, london, music - HA!, photos, product placement, weather

top things i will miss #23

I am not even sure how to say this in the way I want it to come across, so I’ll just say it:

#23 chain restaurants

America has chains too. But for some reason the UK has chains that hit a different demographic altogether. There are a number of ubiquitous restaurants in London and the UK where you know you’re going to get a good meal. Not Michelin-starred. But good, fresh ingredients prepared there and then, clean ambiance, often kid-friendly, often communal seating, good and quick service, and nice buzzy atmosphere. They are not just great fallback options, they are very often a first choice. Everyone knows the menus and everyone knows what they want.

I will miss most of all:


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(And Busaba Eathai and Pho if I am just allowed to name London chains)

Sad emoticon.

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Filed under food, missing already

top things i will miss #24

So it’s kind of cheating but kind of not because I am the dictator of this blog, but #24 on my list of things I will miss most from this part of the world are technically four separate things. But they’re all edible so let’s lump them together into one very sad thing to miss. “Them” being

#24 sausage, baked beans, the cheddar and real cheese in general.

Sausage: Sausage is really good in the US. And hot dogs are one of the reasons I can never become a vegetarian (bacon is the other. Shalom.). But, I have really grown to love the quality and deliciousness of an English sausage. Different than all the other kinds I knew growing up, if pressed I would have to say English sausage is most closely related to what Americans just east as breakfast sausage. But that seems so ridiculous to even say. Sausage is much more often a main dish here. Unadorned, except for maybe some gravy. No bun needed. No mustard required. You just need a real special pork-rearing nation.

Baked Beans: I never imagined baked beans would become as commonplace in my diet as they have. They are part of a traditional English Breakfast, yes, but also a very common food for children. Beans on Toast is a classic kids’ dish and alert the presses: it may be the easiest kids’ dish to prepare on Earth. America, adopt it now. Beans are just around a lot. And I admit I like them and I admit I’ll miss them. It turns out the Heinz baked beans recipe is different for the British palate. The sauce here is tomato-based and no molasses or brown sugar is involved. These are the things my Dad and I discuss. IJS.


The only appropriate way to honor Her Majesty.

The Cheddar: You could live your whole life in North America and think Wisconsin is the epicenter of good cheddar. And then you would move to England and try a bite here and go hahahahahahaha until you cry. British people have existed in humankind for the sole purpose of inventing cheddar. I don’t even know if they invented it, but I am feeling generous. It’s so good that it has its own numbering system: 2 would be very mild, 7 would just be cray cray. And different regions produce very different kinds. And it’s never dyed flourescent orange. That threw me off for so long. How can you eat cheddar if it’s not orange? What would happen to your taco? Can society function without descending into Lord of the Flies-type anarchy with only pale yellow cheddar available? I don’t know. But it’s so good.

Real Cheese in General: All Euro-loving elsewherers know that Europe has got the cheese thing locked down. That appreciation crosses the English channel I am happy to report. You won’t find vulcanized, rubbery, ersatz, Frankencheese-like substances for the sake of having something smooth or squirty to put on your favorite partially hydrogenated anti-Paleo snack. It actually distressed me several times when making a recipe to not be able to find Monterey Jack until I discovered maybe Monterey Jack is a pile of poo poo. But I will admit that I will eventually go back to old faithful: American cheese. Although not loved beyond the fifty states, nothing makes a grilled cheese sandwich quite like it. Quite.

In the United States, it may not be legally sold as “cheese”, and must be labeled as “processed cheese”, “cheese product”, or similar—e.g., “cheese food”. At times even the word “cheese” is missing in the name on the label, e.g. “American slices” or “American singles”.


Also, you probably want me to mention horse meat. Because those of you that love me know that I have a great deal of affection for IKEA’s swedish meatballs (and if you didn’t know that, then I guess you’re dead to me). But I haven’t been to IKEA in a long time. It’s not that I am anti-horse, I just don’t have a car.


Filed under food, missing already

half term crushed. frenzy begins now. full stop. full stop.

Last week was half term. And it was super cold. We braved the junior set mobs and explored more of London. Plus some other stuff.

Monday: we went to the V&A Museum. It’s not a great museum for kids but the museum did its best to create some half-term activities (scavenger hunt) out of the Asian art rooms. Jonah rallied and was rewarded with a Goldilocks & the Three Bears puppet show. Simon was strapped into the stroller so gets no credit for appropriate behavior.

Our good friend Mike was in town for work from New York and came over that night for dinner. Simon defecated on the kitchen floor in his honor.

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Tuesday: we invited Nina and her mum, Tessa to go check out the Disney Cafe at Harrods with us. The real gem is the whole adjacent Disney pop-up store with Disney-movie themed sections. The cafe itself is cute but with that many Disney movies playing on repeat, the kids just stare like zombies.Which is nice if you want to chat with your adult companion. I was glad for one last trip to Harrods. There is no department store on Earth like it.

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Wednesday: I have been to the Science Museum many, many times (it is one of the best museums in its appeal to kids I have ever been to) but I have never seen it that swarmed with people. Times like that make me re-think my personal rule about not using those kid leashes on my children. Oh who am I kidding- Simon would chew through it.

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Thursday: the kids were with Melissa and I had the rare lady of leisure day that didn’t involve my laptop. Belen, Sarah, and I met for lunch and then Sarah and I did a quick tour through the National Portrait Gallery finishing up with tea at the cafe at the top. It’s known for its incredible views and even my high expectations for that were exceeded. Also, Sarah was nice and didn’t make fun of me when I kept just taking pictures of the Royals’ portraits.

That night I met Emma and Elizabeth for dinner in Marylebone. As our days here in London are numbered, there are lots of goodbye meals. Just when I was mastering the fork in my left hand.

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Friday: Tessa and I took our kids to the Tate Britain for Big and Small day which is just a cute name for half-term population explosions. This is another non kid-friendly museum that did its best to come up with activities for the wee ones. I was floored that said activities took place in close proximity to very famous art. Simon was always inches away from what looked like a brazen heist.

At night we met Caitte, my law school friend, for dinner. I will miss all these people who pass through London for work. Although I am pretty sure they all pass through NY too.

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Saturday: I talked the family (gave them no choice) and Ingo and Adeline into trying out Baby Loves Disco. I had been reading about this monthly club party for kids for years. It started in NY and is big in London now. The theme this month was Mardi Gras and it’s a pretty cool concept. There is a DJ, dancing, face painting, soft play, and arts & crafts. All in a dank, gross-smelling club on a Saturday afternoon. I definitely had this crazy moment where I realized I was sharing my kids’ first clubbing experience with them. They have some serious moves and Simon is honestly rave-ready. For his second birthday, we’ve got the glo-sticks on order.

That night we had dinner at the Ingles. Thanks, Ingles!

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Sunday: we met the Trumbells at the Purim carnival at the West London Synagogue followed by Lebanese food on Edgware Road. Lots of lasts. Lots of lasts. Last falafel.

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Now it’s Monday. And we did very little. People sometimes comment that I am fairly ambitious about taking the kids out to places around London during the day. But if they ever stayed home with us, they would understand.


It’s the longest sofa ever invented in humankind, but just go ahead and sit right on top of the laundry.


30 seconds.


Filed under food, friends, london, photos, royals, weather

happy pancake day!

I am now fully embracing of this holiday. Just in time to leave.

I highly recommend the English-style method of preparing a pancake, and then smothering it with Nutella. It’s like a cross between a European crepe and an American-style pancake. Which is sort of what Great Britain is, isn’t it? Torn between two great partial-continents, but going at it alone like the English-style pancake island it is.

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Filed under food, holidays, photos, product placement