In Which There is Thanksgiving Deja Vu (or maybe just round two)

After I wrote last week’s blog I gussied myself up, put on a pair of completely impractical heels and headed out into the night. Where was I going on a Monday night? Where else but Taj? It’s definitely more of a club scene than a salsa social, but there’s live music and a good vibe, and a girl really can’t complain about having the chats with all manner of interesting semi-salsa people, and unlike at so many salsa socials, the folks at Taj are actually quite interested in the “social” bit, rather than just the dancing. So it was a nice change and obviously I would never complain about more dancing, especially not to live music!

Having started off the week on an irresponsible note, I figured I may as well continue the trend and Tuesday night saw me slipping off after work with a few colleagues to go for drinks at a rather unseasonably open air rooftop bar. Armed with beer and hot toddies, we braved the cold and snapped a few pictures in front of the glittering lights of the Empire State Building. Oh, didn’t I mention? Yes, this rooftop bar is basically next door to the Empire State so from the patio all you need to do is look up and there it is, all gloriously big and bright.

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We did not last long outdoors though, as it really was quite chilly so we soon found ourselves back inside trading hearsay about restaurants to eat at and adventures to be had. By the bottom of my hot toddy I was happily plotting all manner of new and exciting ways to trade my hard earned dollars for uniquely New York food experiences.

On our way back to the train, we took a quick detour into a Korean grocery to enrich our fridges and cabinets with the flavours of K-Town. I intended just to look but predictably found myself leaving with a jar of kimchi and a little carton of miscellaneous Korean sides. Dinner was served.

On Wednesday, after a bit of a madcap day at the office, I flung myself at the Thanksgiving weekend with great enthusiasm. Thanks to the almighty Turkey Day weekend, I did not need to be in work for four whole days so I decided it was time to check out the Wednesday salsa scene. A number of people had recommended I check out Solas in the East Village so off I went. It was an easy 30 minute walk to a very crowded little bar with a backroom set aside for the salseros. It was a very mixed bag of people, but there were enough people that I knew that I had a great time spinning my way through the crowded room, chatting a bit and, around 2am, heading off back home to bed.

The next day was Thanksgiving Day and, lacking plans for gorging myself, I started my day with coffee and pastries with an old friend from China adventures, now fully embedded in the New York food scene: Erin. We met at the beautifully rustic Maialino trattoria where we set up at the bar and filled our tummies with coffee, and the most sublime little cakes and pastries. We had banana bread with whipped maple butter, a cranberry, pumpkin, cream cheese cake, and a very delicately composed croissant. The general feel of the restaurant was one of understated, relaxed elegance and the staff, somehow seemed the same, friendly and relaxed but also elegant and refined. Heck, the bathroom even had rum based hand wash. It was a very fine establishment.

I spent the rest of Thursday walking, relaxing, and generally enjoying my own little day of thanks capped off with a homemade kimchi omelette. So it wasn’t exactly Thanksgiving deja vu, but it was certainly a day to be thankful.

And then it was Black Friday. I kept my shopping experiences to three small online purchases and instead spent my day taking advantage of everyone else’s preoccupation to visit the quieter than usual Met. Ambitiously, I had supposed that I might view the entire museum in one dedicated day. I should have known myself better.

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Hours after arrival, I finally emerged from the Greek and Roman collection, having read every info sheet and examined every artefact and desperately in need of food. Which is how I ended up spending over $20 on lunch. As a reminder to everyone who probably already knows this (heaven knows I knew it), museum food is absurdly expensive.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cruising through the temporary exhibits and then around 5:30 set off for the Met Breuer to catch the Diane Arbus exhibit before it closed this weekend. Her photography is so poignant, even the early works have such an eye for the stillness of the moment. but only too soon I had to leave the gallery behind to dash through the rain back to my long neglected, steadily rising, loaf of dough.

Last weekend my bread was painfully slow to rise. This week, not so much. It was very nearly bubbling over the edge of the proofing dish and was very attached to floured cloth in the proofing dish. By some blessing, even after being picked unceremoniously off the fabric and tipped even less ceremoniously into a baking dish, the rather deflated loaf did manage to turn into a reasonable hunk of bread. Next week I hope to have found a balance and once my sourdough and I have come to an agreement on rising I have every intention of diving headlong into the very involved project of mastering artisan bread. I’ve been making sourdough for years but I’ve always stuck to fairly densely crumbed sandwich bread but my real love is the soft chewy open crumb of artisan breads and I have to believe that I can recreate it if I really put my mind to it. Expect a goodly number of frustrated blogs in the coming months as I fight with moisture balance, proofing times, kneading times, etc. We’ll all have such fun.

Once my bread was out of the oven, I changed out of my flour spattered clothing and set off for post-Thanksgiving West Coast Swing. It was a quiet night, but the people were friendly and the leftovers provided were delicious. In fact it seems that the theme of much of this week’s dancing was talking as much as I danced. I don’t know whether I’m getting more sociable, or the dance scene is just imposing it upon me whether I like it or not. Thus far I’m liking it. We shall see if it lasts.

Saturday was, as usual, my day of chores and involved a mix of laundry and house cleaning, mixed with laziness and TED talk watching, which mostly kept me out of trouble. I also ran a few errands in the not so chilly November air, before it was time to head off to dance. It was an alright night but the music was rather lacking. Not in terms of which music was played—most of the songs were very good—but how they were played. The volume was so very high that the speakers could not maintain equalization and the result was tinny, cacophonous, and really quite jarring. I had enough good dances to keep me there late into the night, but I spent much of the night very much on the frayed edge of the nerves as a result of the sound. I feel rather badly because, when I am thus aggravated, I am far less tolerant of timing challenges, over-leading, etc. I do so hate being jerked around off time.

So after a late night of dance, this morning was mostly consumed by sleep, followed by a sunny walk up to NYU where I was lured by a dastardly sneaky swing music book on an outdoor rack into another charming (if a bit tatty) used bookstore. Do not ask what I left with or how much it cost me; only know that the swing book (with a completely split binding, as in two separate pieces) was free with the rest of my purchase.

On my way home, I took a new route and found myself strolling past Versaci and Balenciaga, and then I turned back to check for traffic before crossing and there was the Chrysler building, glittering in the sun between buildings, and all I could think was “how is this even my life?” How on earth did I, a kid from the Northern BC oilfields, end up here, living in New York, walking past all the places where movies are set, and interviews are held. Just the other day, I read an interview with Glass Animals and the journalist described the restaurant in which they met—I had walked passed it the day before. And here I am, blogging in bed from the centre of the world!

Pinch me please,
The Salsa Girl

P.S. as a bonus, have this shoddy picture of hipsters playing bike polo in my neighbourhood park. Yes, 3 of 4 were bearded.

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