Healthy and Hip X-Country Trip: Day 5 – Jackson

We are half way through our trip. Just about the time when it’s getting old telling everyone the trip story, when the nails are chipping, the cooler is warming, the lotions are spilling, and the dirty laundry bag is filling.
We were hoping Jackson would be the dark horse in our trip. We were originally going to go through Little Rock, but when I realized there was no way to avoid me hitting New Orleans, we decided to break up the drive to Memphis was a stop in Jackson. It was pretty sleepy, but we did stay at a quaint little hotel, Old Capitol Inn, and we did see a charity walk in the morning. Moving on.
We’re done with my left hand of the trip. Now we are outbound!
Liza and Jordan at Parlor

The Healthy and Hip X-Country Trip: Day 1 – Phoenix, AZ

I could get down with Arizona. They all do 80 here. Even on side streets.
Also, the first successful Zucker family trip was in this very city. What’s my measure of success? No one cried! I don’t even think any if us fought. Me, Betti and Jim went to the Phoenician in Scottsdale over thanks g my senior year in college. If only spa, hikes, food, and golf could do the trick still….
I met up with a friend from Penn who grew up here and he took me to a Coyotes game and taught me how to drive stick in the parking lot after. (Literally, keep it clean people!)
Thanks Phoenix for the good memories 5 years and counting. *
* 17 years, but who’s counting?
Anyway, Hula and I made it to the hotel in a little over five hours with one gas/pit stop.
The Palomar was lovely, right across the street from Chase Field and US Airways Stadium, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, respectively. One of my favorite bits in their “welcome greeting” was being informed that the room keys use radio waves, so putting it next to a credit card or cellphone will do nothing to deactivate it. Now what excuse will I have for needing to sleep in someone else’s room?!?!
We made it to our only “post-drive” Pure Barre right on time, which is great because we couldn’t have made it a minute sooner!
Great start to the trip!
1 down. 9 to go!

Hula, Jordan, and Jasmine at Pure Barre Phoenix

Virtu. Menu. Ice Queen. Burratta. Octopus. Scallops.  Corvina Blend. Mascarpone Gelato. Hulita.

Virtu. Menu. Ice Queen. Burratta. Octopus. Scallops. Corvina Blend. Mascarpone Gelato. Hulita.

Sleep No More: Top Ten Things To Know Before You Go!

Not to say that I was ill-advised prior to arrival at Punchdrunk’s production of Sleep No More, but I really didn’t know what to expect despite minor research. The following would have helped:

1) Wear pockets. We all know not to wear heels, but did you know you have to check your purse?

2) HOLD HANDS!

3) If you don’t have a thing for the duckbill platypus before you go, maybe develop one.

4) The “actors” are indeed actors, but more so dancers. i.e. Mama’s not auditioning. And if you’re looking to really get into the Macbeth plot, pick up a copy of Macbeth…

5) They have a bar. Have someone reserve you a table for after the finale. There’s more absinthe and boozy bands to melt to in a rowdy red room.

6) Just as I was taking a mental note of “bad rumor – no one takes you into a closet!!” I watched the guy next to me get dragged into a closet. Good rumor.

7) Arrival time is a rough suggestion. No need to snarf the uni panini down from El Quinto Pino, they’ll still let u in 15 min late.

8) Your “group card” value is cute, I had a jack. It’s supposed to indicate with whom you leave the bar and head into the hotel. Also a suggestion.

9) The McKittrick Hotel is the old Club Twilo space. The set design was super cool. Make sure you hit the candy room, twig labyrinth, ballroom, bathtubs, and closet where my friend Carrie gave a BJ back in the late 90’s.

10) There will be nudity. I’m not saying who. But Gawker is. Here’s their guide to maximizing the skin exposure.

Pre Game at El Quinto Pino

The Band

Masked Cousin Julie!

Jordan’s Travel Bible

I want to see the entire world. But that’s not what this is about. I’m bi-coastal, I know the security lady’s name at AA LAX T4 (granted this could happen after one trip). When I check in and they say, “Where to?” I say, “LA or NY, whichever I’m not in right now.” Even when I’m not coast hopping, I’m off checking something out some place else. I’m a traveler. Along the way I’ve gathered some tips, advice, and mantras.

Here they are:
1) Always pack a bikini. It’s not like it doesn’t fit and you never know when you’ll need one.

2) Scan a picture of your passport and email it to a web ready folder (e.g. archives). If something happens to it, all you need is web access anywhere to prove who you are.

3) Take pit stops when you have to go. No one is awarding you anything for holding it in.

4) Maps generally trump navigation systems.

5) It is worth a 2 hr. drive out of the way just to eat some oysters.

6) I don’t understand everyone’s obsession with applauding themselves for packing light. What prize do I get for bringing a small suitcase? Forgetting something and/or not having options? Bring what you need, you’re not backpacking through Europe junior year abroad anymore.

7) It is perfectly acceptable to have the A/C going with the windows down while on a road trip. For me, just the windows is too hot and just the A/C is too cold. It isn’t wasting anything if it perfectly creates the desired climate.

8) I view speeding tickets as a talent tax. I have to pay the government because I’m more skilled at driving than the average joe.

9) Kelly Nishimoto’s Cute Booty line is the ideal airplane attire.

10) “It’s too far” is rarely a valid excuse (relatively). Once you’re in the car, how hard is it to sit there for an extra 20 minutes?

And this is specifically for people traveling with me:

11) Don’t take anything I say personally during my first hour or two of consciousness. I’m not a morning person, never will be. I make up for it later in the day. Promise.

Wowee Naoe!

Last week in Miami, my mother, father, and I decided to go out to a special dinner to celebrate my little grandma’s long and legendary life. She passed away late in the evening on 2/27 after 90 epic years. The funeral was the next Wednesday and we’d been sitting shiva in Miami at her apartment.
My childhood friend recommended a little Japanese place in Sunny Isles called Naoe (pronounced “Now-We”) for our dinner. They only seat 17 and it’s all omakase. Opentable had them completely booked, so I got us a table at Palme d’Or in Coral Gables and sent an email to Naoe asking to notify us if they get any last minute cancellations. They did! (which my dad was doubly grateful for as then we weren’t going to make him schlep all the way down to Coral Gables).
The meal was really impressive. You start with a bento box. Starting clockwise from bottom left we had baby sardine rice, mushroom custard, oyster/fermented bean/cod belly, and shiso/wakame/wasabi/snapper. All were fantastic.

They serve their own sake made at a microbrewery in chef’s hometown of Nagano. Then the box is followed by the nigiri portion of the evening. We also had frozen sake ices which was fun to eat. And it’s closed out with mystery ice cream dessert (soy sauce!).
Everything was a phenomenally special treat.
Arigato Gozaimas, Naoe, Ja Ma Ta!

Voicemail Station at Bar Boulud Post NYC Ballet

On Wednesday, Betti, Jim, and I went to the ballet at Lincoln Center. Thankfully Carolina Herrera’s seemingly 9 year old granddaughter was with her two rows in front of us, thus preventing me from being the youngest in attendance. It was a great evening at NYC Ballet with four pieces: Plainspoken, Valse-Fantaisie, Square Dance, and Glass Pieces. I enjoyed the whole thing but Benjamin Millepied‘s Plainspoken, and Jerome Robbins’s Glass Pieces were fantastic.
After, we scurried across the street to grab a late-ish bite at Bar Boulud. We were seated at the communal horseshoe table in the back and loved everything we ordered.
My mom and I shared the following:
salade de calamars – poached calamari, pine nuts, radish, baby romaine, gaeta olives, buttermilk dressing
tagine dagneau – terrine of slow cooked spiced leg of lamb, eggplant, and sweet potato
lotte aux choux rouge – montauk monkfish, smoked bacon, lambic braised red cabbage, turnips
spanish makerel – chick pea friters, tomato coulis, eggplant puree

My mother always gets the La Poire cocktail: grey goose pear, pom, lime
My dad got the Figue Old Fashioned: knob creek bourbon, ruby port, fig puree, angostura
I got whatever was tequila based. Turned out to be a good choice.
As I was sucking down my kumquat/basil/tequila/light on the agave concoction, my dad takes a break from “checking his messages” and says that we HAVE to hear this voicemail he got. So I listened to it. A winner! Here’s the transcription:

Hey Aamer, It’s Christy, um.
Listen, I just talked to Jenny and found out what happened…that you’re not at KTR blah blah blah [some radio station] anymore and I’m sorry, but that’s just a bunch of bullshit!
I can’t even believe it, I’m beside myself because, how short sighted and incredibly stupid of them.
Um, I loved the new format, I mean it was different but it was such a breath of fresh air. And, you know, you brought a levity and a fun quality to it. And I thought that it was great. Again, you knew I hated the afternoon show and I so much more enjoyed it listening to you and I didn’t hear you for a couple of days and I thought “Oh, he must have been out of town” and then finally today I’m like, “what the fuck” so.
Anyway, I just wanted to call and if you’d like to call back I’m around. So call me, otherwise I’ll see you soon but I’m SO disappointed. They’re such a great station and they’re just so horribly run and just, I’m really sorry.
Um, so call me if you need anything and I will, I’ll hopefully see you soon.
OK, bye.

After the three of us took turns listening and howling with laughter, I turned to my dad and said, “Dad, you need to tell her that she had the wrong number and that msg never got to him.”
“Yeah, Jim, you have to,” agreed Mom.
“Do you want me to send a text for you?” I offered.
“OK, here’s the phone,” he acquiesced.
So I went to text the number from the voicemail, and the iphone, as we know, brings up the string of text history, and low and behold, up came a text from her from Jan 31st!!!
I squealed, “DAD?!?! She’s tried to contact you before! Did you not get this text a few weeks ago?!?”
My mother and I were cracking up.
“Oh, yeah, I got it but didn’t understand it so I just ignored it.”
It’s all squared away now:

P.S. Who thinks Christy wanted a piece of Aamer?

Annual Goals Dinner with Matthew at Eveleigh

As you know, I have a tradition with my lifelong friend where we go to a nice dinner each year and do goals. We open a sealed envelope from last year’s dinner and mark off what goals we’ve achieved. Then we write new ones for the current year and seal them up for next year’s dinner.
This was our 13th year of maintaining the tradition.
We went to Eveleigh on Sunset in West Hollywood. It’s indisputably a gorgeous space. The lighting is super dim, (I moved a candle a bit to check out what our dishes looked like before diving in.), and the seating is a little annoying as the booths are slightly unsecured so you can feel the guy five tables down shift his leg since it’s technically the same piece of padded wood you’re sitting on. But the cocktails were killer, the decor is beautiful, and the food was not bad.
Here’s what we had (I would have ordered more fish, but Matt was in an anti-seafood mood and mama likes to share):
Cocktails –
Chanel No 5 mezcal, jalapeno, lemon, pom – Dear LORD this is mama’s kind of cocktail. Smoky, spicy, a little tangy. Perfection.
The other mezcal cocktail was OK, but not after this one.
The Good Prick – bourbon based, loved the pine in there – really interesting.

Crispy Season Squid with a lemon mayo – Not bad, small portion.
Rainbow Chard – Good, but I could make it too.
Rib-Eye Cap with beets, chantrelles, and pinot noir sauce – the fresh horseradish was the key to this dish.

Orecchiette with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and chilies – could barely detect the tomatoes and found no trace of chilies but it was OK.

Mac and Cheese – I liked it; could have used a few less bread crumb cubes but other than that, well done.

Donuts – if you’re into dessert you’ll be happy.

We always talk to the table next to us as they’re usually intrigued by all of our envelopes, rituals, etc. (This is kind of a load of shit, I always talk to my neighbors even without the goals excuse…) This time, right before we ripped open our envelopes, neighbor Pamela asked if we were in relationships. Matt obviously said “yes.” They looked at me. “Nope, I’m single… Well that’s ONE I won’t be checking off again this year! Starting off strong. Thanks, Pamela!”
I actually fared better than I had thought, I got 9 out of 20. Sometimes I give myself freebies like “Scan goals into computer in case of flood.” Crap, I better do that now. Don’t want to miss the freebie next year…