Posts Tagged ‘margaritas’

If you don’t write a post for five months, do you still have a blog?

The answer seems to be “Yes!” since wonderful, margarita-loving people around the globe clicked and read despite the lack of new content to beckon them and yesterday, the hit count on margagogo.com topped 3,000.  That my words live on in the face of my neglect is a gift, a miracle and a mystery and it has me pondering other life wonders.

And I mean the BIG stuff.  None of this stuff like, “Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?” or “Do bleached blondes pretend to have more fun?” For my first post since my last post, I’m delving deep into the mysteries of life.  Yes, I’m going there – wherever “there” is.

Wonder 1:  “The Blog is Back in Town” – Who knows this musical reference and why in the world did I choose it for this blog post title?  I don’t own an album by this band and have never downloaded a single.  But the song stuck in my head and now possibly stuck in yours too.

Wonder 2:  Why do songs get stuck in your head?  I don’t mean just the catchy Song-of-Summer.  Blurred Lines never registered for me.  (No offense to Robin Thicke who is surely capable of writing a catchy tune that will get stuck in heads everywhere.)  But random tunes burrow in and make a home.  My current musical backdrop for rainy days is Rise and Shine song:  “Noah, he built, he built and ark-y, ark-y, ark-y – So rise and shine and give God your glor-y, glor-y…” You get the idea.  The thing is, I probably haven’t heard that song since I went to Tuesday afternoon religious education when I was 8-years old.

Wonder 3:  Bacon.  Why is bacon universally loved?  (And I mean the cured meat, not Kevin Bacon though he has his own dedicated following.)  I’ve met a rare few who say they don’t eat bacon but I’ve never met anyone who says they don’t like bacon.  Bacon is the gateway meat for vegetarians who fall off the plant wagon.  People hate chocolate (huh?) and ice cream (what?) but put a little bacon in either and those same people salivate. It’s a mystery to me.

Wonder 4:  Golf. I don’t understand it. Why do people play this sport and how can networks justify putting in on television? Playing is an exercise in frustration and watching requires extraordinary mental toughness because it’s so boring.  I’m not the only one who thinks so – just ask the streaker who decided to brighten up the President’s Cup with a naked dash.

Wonder 5:  How does the Congressional Gym stay open when the government is closed?  If National Parks, the FDA, and the National Zoo closed, shouldn’t the gym shutter too?  Do congressional members need access to free treadmills so they can blow off steam while they’re blowing off the business of the country?  If they want to understand with their constituents, they should buy overpriced memberships to chain gyms that they’ll stop using after 60 days though they’ll continue monthly payments indefinitely.  They should also have similar health care to the rest of us.  I’d be fired for far lesser offenses than maneuvering the shut down of my company.

Wonder 6:  Avocado. How can an ugly, Seuss-ian orb hold so much creamy goodness? A fish oil substitute? Yes! The magic and soul of guacamole? Clearly.  More to come on the avocado. It deserves a dedicated post.  And the lovely avocado leads me to my next wonder …

Wonder 7:  Should pomegranate seeds be part of any guacamole recipe?  Ok, this is a clear continuation of Wonder 6 but this is the only Wonder I’m able to solve.  Pomegranate might be great for a lot of things. In fact, I hear it actually improves the power of sunscreen.  But as a component of guacamole?  No. The answer is no.  Uh-uh.  No way.  Not right.  Not Guacamole. I know this because I tested it at La Cenita, 409 W 14h St, NYC.

La Cenita is a new addition to the Meatpacking District and they put pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts in their guac. The pistachio nuts I like. I’m evolving to believe that pistachio or pine nuts should be included in almost everything. But I can’t work with pomegranate seeds. They add an unwelcome sweet surprise to guacamole, a near-perfect treat in its traditional form. I suggest you get the seeds on the side.


La Cenita has a street theme to it. They don’t have stools at the bar and they serve their chips in paper bags with the edges rolled down.  But the standing bar-flies pay around $15 per drink so the street theme “Park Avenue” and less “Calle en Mexico”.


The traditional margarita on their menu is made with grapefruit juice and the flavor is overpowering.  So if you like tequila more than grapefruit, I suggest you request your marg sans this citrus.

So far, La Cenita has pulled in 2.5 stars on Yelp and the universal theme is the food is ok and really expensive but you should go once and go to be seen. But when you do go, watch your wallet.

And so margagogo.com is back in town. I’ve got much to discuss, like romance novels, the avocado, things I’m grateful for (besides romance novels and avocados) and great places for hanging out and having a drink.

So please stay tuned and thank you for hanging with me through my long blog sabbatical.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the blog is back in town!

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Yes, Easter was more than a week ago. But this post is about hunting for what you want (and waiting) so the time lag is fitting.

I’ve never been good at hunting for anything.

I remember being very young and lining up in a park for an Easter Egg Hunt.  By “hunt” I mean bright-colored plastic eggs set in plain sight on the lawn.  I plotted a complex strategy for a toddler (run straight forward and grab eggs) and visualized my empty basket filled with Easter bounty.  I came up empty.

In the minutes it took the throng of kids to grab every egg in sight, I managed to collect just one, single, broken, empty egg.  Where did I go wrong?

  • I might not have sprinted off the start line.
  • I probably should have better assessed the competition and repositioned to be in a cluster with weaker kids.
  • And, it’s fair to say that between my glasses (since age 2) and my eye-patch (a constant childhood accessory), that I couldn’t tell a clump of  grass from an Easter Egg.
Glasses, eye-patch, perfect

Glasses, eye-patch, perfect. But who did my hair?

One-eyed - Is it any wonder I couldn't find an Easter Egg?

One-eyed – Is it any wonder I couldn’t find an Easter Egg?

Sometimes, even with the best of plans, reality stacks against you.

This past Easter weekend, reality topped strategy when we embarked on a hunt for a great margarita in the great state of Vermont.

We started off at SoLo Farm & Table in Londonderry, VT.  Recently nominated by Bon Appetite as one of 2012 best restaurants, it was a strategically sound choice.  Great restaurants have great bars, right?

The food at SoLo is worth the trip.  I loved the Oxtail croquettes.  They were a menu special and quite special they were.  I love croquettes so much that I could probably devote a blog to them, so I’m biased.  If you go and they have these on the menu, get two orders.

We also had Duck Confit Hash (this was a little weird and skip-able) and Pekin Duck Breast and Roasted Suckling Pig (amazing). If I go again, I’ll remember the portions are giant and order for sharing and more tasting.  This meal was so good I was sad when I was full.

I was also a little sad because I didn’t find the margarita I was looking for at SoLo.  It was off-balance with too much citrus  and not much tequila.  I think the flower was sad for me too.

The margarita hunt continued in Manchester, VT at the chic and spendy Equinox Hotel.

We spa-ed and lunched and I ordered a margarita at the fancy-schmancy Marsh Tavern.  I was sure the Equinox employed top-notch mixologists and my hunt would be over in moments. And then my “margarita, rocks” came “up” in a martini glass.

Marsh Tavern Marg

Marsh Tavern Marg

It looks like a gift from heaven with the sunlight glinting off the glass. But it just tasted weird. Like maybe lavender infused the home-made mix.  The independent panel of judges reports that the Bloody Mary was just “meh”.  So the drink ordering tip at Marsh Tavern is go for wine.

We sat at the table, pooling our mental powers to come up with a sound strategy for finding a good margarita – we Googled it.

After ruling out the option to buy a franchise to a chain called “Margaritas” we settled on a local called Gringo Jacks.  A Yelp review suggested the best way to enjoy Gringos was after a long hike … we spent several hours shopping (and that’s almost the same thing) so off to Gringo Jacks we went.

Cactus Glass - 'Nuff Said

Cactus Glass – ‘Nuff Said

My newly appointed Syracuse Bureau Chief has a smart rule of thumb – A margarita that comes in a cactus glass probably isn’t that good. ‘Nuff said.  And with this third margarita try, I started to think that I needed to refine my search – there seems to be a tequila shortage in Vermont and someone needs to get to the bottom of that.

But if you hike or ski or don’t do either, and  you’re with a big group, this is a bright, happy place to be.

I promise there is a moral to this story. And there’s a happy ending too.

Finally, I found Easter Eggs – LOTS of them.

Easter Eggs!!

Easter Eggs!!

We eventually did find a GREAT margarita – back in New York City at Mesa Grill. And who doesn’t want to grill and chill with Bobby Flay and this seriously good marg?

Mesa Grill, NYC

Mesa Grill, NYC

Now to the moral: Sometimes, the journey is the point and the thing you think you need, really isn’t important. Yes, I do love a good margarita and I couldn’t find one in Vermont (sorry, Vermont, it’s true). But I had something even better – good friends who were willing to humor me and help in the hunt.  We also had parking mishaps and discount shopping and lots of laughter. And I know the laughter was genuine since the drinks didn’t have any tequila in them.

And mostly we had fun.

When you have friends, your molcajete is always overflowing.


Coming soon: A margarita to fall down for.

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I was sitting at Clarkson (225 Varick St, NYC), chatting with a member of the Independent Panel of Judges and drinking a margarita while writing about margaritas.  I’d have finished the post too if not for the restaurant’s rule of no laptops out after 5PM (They want their patrons to “join the party”) For a brief shining moment, I was a triple threat of efficiency – simultaneous drinking, writing about drinking and socializing.

I’ve been streamlining my life for some time.

I like to read myself to sleep and since my Marketing Director and West Coast Bureau Chief gave me an I Pad, reading in bed took on a note of danger. Laying down and holding the I Pad up in front of me like I would a regular book only works until my eyes droop.  I endured two rude wake-ups, my I Pad edge slamming into the bridge of my nose, before I came up with a better way. Now, I curl up in the fetal position with my I Pad propped up on the pillow next to me.  I can snuggle under the covers and only need to stick a single finger out into the air to flick the pages.  I’m primed for sleep, already in my favorite position on my favorite side so when I read the same paragraph twice and my eyes flutter shut, my nose is safe.  The unexpected bonus – the I Pad is in position if I wake in the middle of the night or in the morning and want to pick up where I left off.  The only downside is that sometimes the bedclothes cover it but since I never make my bed, this isn’t really an issue for me.

For those of you who want to try this at home, as long as your partner isn’t a fitful sleeper, you can prop up on a person too.

Streamlining doesn’t stop here! Showers are faster when I don’t wash my hair and if I go easy on hair goo, I wake up day-ready and don’t even have to wet it.

Going out to eat saves cooking and cleaning time.  If I don’t go out, I order dinner and have it delivered.

If I do go to the supermarket and if I bother to write a list, I write it to follow the supermarket set up so I don’t retrace steps.

I believe “if it’s yellow let it mellow” and I save a flush.

At work my most impressive, finely honed skill is delegation.

To clean my floor, I step on Swiffer cloths and skate around, catching dust bunnies while my hands are free to do other stuff.

I avoid the washing machine by owning more underwear than anyone should.  Employment and relatively stable weight over the past 10 years means I’ve been able to expand this principle.  My closet bursts with enough shirts, pants and dresses to outlast my underwear.  It’s usually a pile of dirty exercise clothes that thwart me so I found a solution for that too – I rarely work out.

For those of you who think “efficient” isn’t the word that jumps to mind, I’m about to knock your sox off (I hope, like me, you have spare pairs).

When laundry day finally arrives, my clothes are in the washer by 6:30AM and I go to the gym.  I work out until it’s time to transfer the load to the drier and sometimes until the clothes are dry.  My clothes are clean and calories burned before 7:30AM.  If the story of my morning comes up in the office, and it usually does but I don’t know how, my co-worker’s expressions are nothing short of dazzled.  Wishful even, that they’d be motivated to hit the gym and do laundry in the sleepy hours before the day really gets rolling. (It’s nobody’s business that I go to the gym because the laundry room and gym are on the same floor in my apartment building and it annoys me to have to go up and down and up and down – in the elevator – so the gym is preferable to watching my whites soap and spin.)

Drinks at Clarkson

Drinks at Clarkson

Even though Clarkson’s no lap top policy kept me from efficiently banging out this post, I kind of like the restaurant.  It has an Amelia Earhart meets Mad Men vibe.  (I felt like there should have been a sky blue Chevy convertible waiting on a dusty tarmac to take me home.)  The party at Clarkson hasn’t started yet as they’ve only been open for a week.  For much of my visit, they had more wait staff than customers, but I think it’s going to take off.

Please go and get the calamari with white beans and chorizo (menu here).  When you look at the dish and wonder where the beans and sausage are, they’re ground into a tasty paste and stuffed in the calamari shells. The margarita was good, maybe too sweet and too “hot” with alcohol but made with great care and lots of love.

And when you go, please say “hi” to Jeremy, the head of the bar program.  I know him from his last gig.  This means I either drink too much or he’s a really good guy.  I vote for the latter.

When I plotted this post in my head, I figured I’d review pre-mixed drinks – the ones you buy in a bottle or squeeze frozen out of foil wrappers.  But that would have entailed finding them, buying them and trying them.  I think this is better.  Don’t you?

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I’m spending Thanksgiving with my parents, aunt and uncle.  It’s a pretty awesome gig for me because everyone comes to my house and my mom does most of the work. She makes the pies and cooks the turkey (including cooked-in turkey stuffing).  I come in strong with roasted squash, brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots and exceptional skin-on smashies but I’ve yet to take over any of the heavy lifting (literally – is it even possible to buy a turkey that’s less than 15 pounds?).

Hosting has lots of perks. Besides getting credit for my mom’s hard work and getting house gifts from grateful guests, like a bottle of wine or ceramic turkey salt and pepper shakers, I get to know my family in a different way. My house fills with the smell of roasting turkey and the warmth of family. Hustle and bustle and cook’s conversation flow through the kitchen and even though I’m still the kid here, I’m grateful to be able to give care as I receive it.

We’re a game playing family so we ward off food coma with a marathon of Bid Whist.  Bid Whist, a card game for those not in the know, is in my DNA. I started playing with my cousins over summer visits and holidays while our parents played at the big table. I confess winning is way more fun than not, but I love sitting at the table with my parents and my uncle (my official and forever partner) no matter how the game ends.

My friends are lacking the BW chromosome (Bid Whist) but as I have friends I think of as sisters and brothers or at the very least, cousins, they fall within my definition of family.

With all life’s uncertainty, I know my friends will be with me when we’re all a little frail and we’ve traded stools in a bar for rocking chairs on a porch.  We’ll be together and we’ll still be drinking margaritas.

So the other night, when I should have been home doing Thanksgiving prep, I met up with a few of my fellow future chair rockers for a pre-Thanksgiving drink. We lingered in the bar, and lingered on the sidewalk because with family this entertaining, it’s hard to walk away. And though we’re not spending the holiday together and a pre-holiday catch up might be just another night out among many, it’s all of these small moments (more than the big ones) that mold friends into family.

El Toro Blanco (267 6th Ave, NYC) understands the spirit of family and their family of spirits. At El Toro Blanco, the margarita has cousins. (As soon as I get over a glitch, there will be a picture here – and you’ll be very impressed.) I had Mrs. Margarita Sames, a margarita made of herradura blanco, Cointreau and fresh lime. It was excellent – smooth, exciting and comforting all at once. For the more adventurous, give the Jicama and Fig or the Chile Rubbed Mango Marg a try.  And make sure you get the quac – they serve it with warm chips.

El Toro Blanco opened its doors for the first time ever just four days before Sandy hit.  So they are literally starting over again – and they, like all the other businesses in the effected areas, appreciate our support! (And if Eater’s Heatmap is any indication, El Toro Blanco is bouncing back nicely!)

So, to my family, those near and far and those I’ve yet to meet, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re having as much fun as I am and let me know if you’re ever up for a game of Whist!

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Another plug for eating and drinking … out.

Restaurants and bars, the small businesses that are our neighbors and make up our neighborhoods, struggle quietly to regain their footing.  And if the establishment struggles, so does the wait staff, kitchen staff, bartenders and hosts.  So if you’re able, please go out – eat, drink and be merry. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it might be a good idea to put some eating time in so your stomach is properly expanded for the big day.  Think of it as training.
You can also think of it as charity since some of the restaurants around the city and in effected areas are donating a portion of their profits to hurricane relief funds.  Neighbors helping neighbors.  It takes a village – so thank goodness NYC has a village or two.

Go to Empellon.  I’ve written a post on Empellon before (check it out) and I’m a fan.  Now I’m an even bigger fan since they’ve mixed up a special margarita, the FU Sandy and through November 15, are donating $2 from each ordered to the Red Cross.  So please run there.  Order the FU Sandy and treat yourself to the Fish Tempura, Cabbage and Lime Mayo taco.  You won’t be sorry.

Go to Entwine. Entwine was “pummelled” by the storm and they’re back in action –  food, drinks every night and great music Wednesdays.  And all month-long you can try a Cocktail for the Cause! Enjoy a lovingly mixed drink and Entwine will give $2 to relief efforts. And, they’re having a number of fundraisers throughout the month so check out their blog here for details.

Buy Robicelli’s products.  The owners make cupcakes and other sweet treats and have been actively involved in relief efforts by organizing volunteers and getting good food (and not just baked pasta) out to effected areas. They’re  nourishing body and soul of relief workers and dazed residents in some of the hardest hit areas. They are doing amazing work.  So if you have a sweet tooth, check out locations where you can buy their amazing treats.  You can also give supplies, or if you’re a chef your time, to their effort.  Check out details here.

There are of course many other places doing great things to help in the recovery and fill our stomachs.  Check out Eater or Grub Street for more restaurant info as it comes up or just check in on your local to see what’s up.
Remember, SoPo (South of Power for those not in the NYC neighborhood know) is all lit up and open for business.

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It seems frivolous to write about margaritas in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

So today I won’t just write about margaritas. I’m writing about Margaritas, coffee, Manhattans and meals. Because everyone can take part in New York’s recovery: Go eat and drink.

If you’re able, please spend some time and money in a neighborhood that’s getting its bounce back. A lot of businesses flooded. Many more lost power. And they spent the post storm “lull” cleaning and scrubbing and restocking and planning. And they have a message for us:

And they are open!












I went downtown last night with some members of the Independent Panel of Judges and we spread the love, first having drinks at Terroir and then dinner at The Harrison. Terroir had to throw out tons of food and pour wine down the drain that corked in the not so cool coolers. They’re happy to be open and were happy to see us. The Harrison had flooding but got it cleaned up in time to host a planned event, a wedding, in their downstairs room. Their menu is smaller than usual but the food is as good as always. We had pumpkin risotto that was so good I dreamt about it.

Drinks at The Harrison

Of course I had a margarita (it was awesome) and the Independent Judge who specializes in mixology says The Harrison twist on a Manhattan is excellent.

If you’re unsure about what’s open, check out Grub Street. They’re keeping an updated list of places as they reopen.

I hope to see you downtown, eating, drinking, being part of the community, the growing crowds and growing good will.

Anyone hungry?

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A midnight ride in a mouse. What could go wrong?

First, I’m a New Yorker whose apartment is a mouse superhighway.  City mice are not cute and the rental car company should have handed me a shot of tequila along with the keys when they rented me a car designed to look like a giant, red mouse.

Tiny, with a mouse face. The car is the “Spark” but a better name is “Arrgggh!”

Thankfully my living room seems to be a thruway, not a destination so I squelch my squeamishness.  But getting into a mouse car required a whole new level of resilience.  I kept focus.  It was a way from A to B and I really wanted to get from A to B.  Once inside, it looked like a car so what it looked like on the outside only mattered to other drivers and to the cop who pulled me over when I drove through his mousetrap.

I’m not above speeding but my mouse wheezed when I hit the gas so I obeyed all posted signs.  Liquid courage isn’t practical when driving (as I said, I really did want to get from A to B) so no tequila shots were consumed in order for me to get into this car.  I stopped at the light.  I took a legal right turn.  So when flashing blue lights pierced the black night, my heart jerked as I snapped the car to the side of the road.

The officer approached, cop car lights still spinning, a flashlight beam on the license plate and then in the back window and then he was just behind my left shoulder, waiting.

And I couldn’t get the window down.

When I got into the mouse, I made time for the basics: Ignition, steering wheel, gas, break, lights and radio and I was off.  With a chill in the air, I never considered I’d open a window on my midnight drive and in this crucial moment, I had no idea where the window controls were.

My fingers flew to the door and started frantic button pushing.  First the door locks, “click, click, click, click.”  Then a new button and the rear window on the passenger side started to slide down “ZZZZRRR,” then the back driver side window, “ZZZZRRRR.”  Then one up the other all the way down, “ZZZZRRR, ZZZZRRR”.  Then the front passenger window started down “ZZZZRRR”.  Finally success! The driver side window started to move but flustered, I had my fingers on so many switches that when I tried to stop the other windows from rolling, I picked up the wrong finger. My window stopped moving, only an inch down, and the other three windows, on various paths of up or down kept going, “ZZZZRRR, ZZZZRRR, ZZZZRRR”

For some reason, the officer was not amused.  He didn’t smile or congratulate me on my herculean achievement of getting my window down.  I squinted at the flashlight beam in my face and ignored the wind whistling through the four open windows.

“License and registration, please.”

“I can give you my license but this is a rental car. Would you like the contract?”

He looked at my documents, asked me to confirm the address on my license, walked to the front of the car, walked back and pointed the flashlight back in my face.

“How long have you had the rental car?”

“About half an hour.”

“I see. Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”


“Your back lights are not on.”

Could it be that the spark had no spark? Surely not and I pointed to my dashboard, all lit up and a sure sign of electrical activity.  With an “uh huh”  he reached through the window to the light controller and turned it one more click up. “There you go, you just have to turn them on.”

“You have to turn the lights on …  more?” I asked and pointed again to the glowing dash as proof that I wasn’t a stupid as I appeared though I realize evidence had stacked up against me.

I think he wanted to make me feel better when he said, “Well, you did have your headlights on so that’s good.”

And then my copper let me go. He bade me goodnight, got into his car, pulled out just a schooch and waited for me to pull safely on to the road.

I was grateful all around.  He didn’t give me a ticket and he saved me.  One of the speeding pick up trucks that regularly travels this road could easily make roadkill out of me and my mouse.  But now I just wanted him to leave.  I didn’t want to drive away with the windows down and I didn’t want to further embarrass myself, or give him a chance to reconsider, by staying put and taking the time to work out the controls.  So I pulled out, wind rushing, windchill dropping and drove, freezing, keeping my eyes and the car on the road while subtly trying to put the windows back in place.

After any flat-out embarrassing experience, a drink is in order.  In a case like this, I suggest you go straight to Swine  @SwineNYC  (531 Hudson St, NYC).  (And if the officer who pulled me over and let me go is reading this and gets my less than subtle pig reference, I just want to say it’s only to carry the theme of this post and I have the utmost respect for you and the work you do.)

Swine has all sorts of pig products, like potato chip nachos with pork belly.  And they have an inventive drink list.  After a near arrest, who could resist having a “Pig in the City” or a “Buck Up”?

Swine Cocktail List

With a drink called “Pig In The City” how can you go wrong?

They also have a super friendly neighborhood vibe.  So you can pull up a bar stool and tell them a story like this while they mix you up some comfort food and drink and they will laugh with you – and if they want to laugh at you, they’ll be kind enough to do it while you aren’t looking.
And they made me a great margarita. (Well, actually, more than one. After all, I wasn’t driving.)

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