Sunday, December 28, 2008

Secret Santa

For years and years, my Norwegian friends and I have exchanged holiday gifts via the pseudonym Secret Santa.

Since there are so many of us (I think there were 15 participants in this last one), we decided long ago to opt to give one larger, useful, well-thought-out gift to one person rather than 15 tiny, useless ones to all 15 people, even though everybody loves everyone else just as much.

One designated individual, the only one who knows the whole spiel, usually draws names out of a hat and links them to the receiving end sometime in early December. On December 22nd or thereabouts, the whole gang gets together. Each person puts their parcel into a huge burlap sack, making sure no-one else is watching to see what kind of wrapping paper he or she used, and then the gifts are distributed, but not opened. Everyone must wait two more days until Christmas Eve to open the gift at the proper time. Secret Santa is not a game.

Monday, December 22, 2008


As earlier advertised, I just spent 3 marvelous days in Barcelona visiting my two friends, Tesse and Stefan, who're studying there this year.

Absolutely everybody I talked to about Barcelona before I went is crazy for the city, and raved about how beautiful, gorgeous, and amazing it is. And it turns out, I wholeheartedly agree. I fell in love with the city at first sight. And first taste.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pre Barcelona Tapas

Today I leave for 3 days in Barcelona, then two and a half weeks in Norway for the holidays!

How is this happening when I'm without a steady job and my savings are depleted? I ask myself the same thing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Edible Happiness

A friend of mine has a few weeks off from working this month, and has taken the opportunity to explore what New York has to offer in the form of activities. He's been to meditation groups, free yoga (suggested donation of $5, apparently), taken up voice lessons, the works.

Today, after work (yes! I'm working for PAY this week...), I met up with him for another event he wanted to try out, a group called Rooftop Films. They arrange screenings of films (sometimes short, sometimes feature length, sometimes fiction, sometimes documentary, sometimes somewhere inbetween) that aren't distributed through other channels. It's a great opportunity for the filmmakers they select to get an audience and create some hype around their films.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving is probably, most definitely the absolute greatest holiday ever. An entire holiday dedicated to eating! It’s not religious, so it doesn’t make me feel awkward for pretending to be, or rather for not being, religious myself, and although I guess I could feel awkward about what Americans (colonists?) did to the Native Americans way back when, none of my family was in America at that time. And anyway, what my ancestors did is not what I did. Plus why search for something to feel awkward about when you could be stuffing yourself with a turkey and 5 different kinds of pies?

The other part of Thanksgiving is, of course, all about family, which I also think is great. The thought of gizillions of families all over the country stopping (For An Entire Day!) to share a meal together and keep traditions going and creating new ones. This is a nice thought.

My family, like all families, is crazy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Visits and the search for Key Lime Pie

Last week, my friend, Hilde, was in from Norway visiting. She knows the city well and has a much more passionate love affair with it than I'll ever have. While living here last spring, she fell hard for the big apple, resulting in her coming back to visit just 5 months after she last left. Walking around last week, she would point out all of the pretty and fun things about New York, things I tend to overlook. I guess I've been so busy trying to get settled in New York, that I forgot to look around and take in a lot of the great things about it. The visit was kind of like having a sleepover continuously for 12 days, of course with a whole bunch of food and fun and NYC mixed in.

Although there was a lot of great (and luckily cheap!) food involved in Hilde's visit, the best food day was last Monday when we went on an adventure with Alex Jones: on a quest in search of the allegedly best key lime pie in the city, possibly the world. Alex Jones had been talking about this pie for at least a month, and we had designated the day to find it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

New York Night

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friend, Tishon, looking through the Norwegian newspapers online, when I came across an article, "Verdens Beste Burger Finnes i New York" or "The World's Best Burger is in New York" directly translated. It was an article about Jean Luc Naret, the director of the famous Michelin guide, a company which is not just known for tires and big squishy marshmellow men, but also for awarding stars to the best restaurants in the world. He knows his stuff, in other words. The article goes over some of the things that are special about him, like that he can't cook, he eats out 365 days a year, he never eats on planes and that, yes, he does eat junkfood from time to time and finally names a place called "Burger Joint" in New York as the best burger in the world.

"The best burger in the world?" I said excitedly and told Tishon what the article said.

"I've eaten there!" he said, "It's the kind of place you need to know about to find. We should go."

And go we did.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cheesecake and New York days

This weekend a few friends of mine from Boston came down to NYC to hang out. They know the city well, so it wasn't your typical try-to-see-as-much-of-the-city-as-possible-in-12-hours kind of trip. We thought we'd just walk around and enjoy New York and see what there was to see.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't agree with us. There was drizzling to downpour most of the day, and at points there were windtunnels that blew dresses, hair and umbrellas frantically in the air. Not exactly the kind of weather to promenade in.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday Morning

On Saturday, I woke up and had a day ahead of me.

It was one of the first weekend days I'd had in New York without having planned it ahead of time. Usually when I'm met with free time, I do one of three things: 1) go for a walk/explore, 2) cook, or 3) freak out cause I have free time and don't know what to do with myself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tuscan Veggie Soup and Headaches

The other day my friend, Alex, and I were supposed to hang out after work. I didn't realize it til the end of the day, but a giant fist had been slowly closing in around my brain so that by the time I could stamp out of the office (which is ironic to say, since I'm still not getting paid), there was so much pressure on my head that I could barely stand up straight.

I met up with Alex outside of work, and I grunted in reply to everything he tried to talk about. All I could think about was my poor head. Luckily he realized the dire state I was in, and so we went back to my place for some rice krispies (with raisins! which apparently isn't that common, but I've always done it, so I didn't know), and massive amounts of sinus headache medicine.

After half an hour of me laying perfectly still in the dark while Alex played around with his iphone (yes, the same friend as before obsessed with the same iphone, although this time, he was hooked on a new game called taptap, which is a version of guitarhero for the iphone), the pills finally kicked in and I could slowly start to form sentences again.

And what were those sentences about? Food, duh.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


A few weeks ago, I was out at a clounge (a club/lounge), and I started talking to a few Britsh guys. Here's how meeting new people usually goes for me:

Me: Hey.
Them: Hey.
Me: I'm Natalya
Them: Hey Natalya, I'm George, where are you from?
(It's weird, absolutely EVERYONE I meet is named George. Such a coincidence)
Me: [pause] I always end up telling my life's story whenever anybody asks me this. Basically, I was born in Virginia, but I grew up in Norway.
Them (Or George, apparently): NORWAY, really?
Me: Yup, yup, Norway.
Them: Wow.
Me: Yup.

I basically blow their minds.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Park Slope

The day after the filmrace (here's what we managed in the 24 hours alotted! Sorry about YouTube's bad picture quality), I needed to relax, so I went out to Park Slope in Brooklyn to visit a friend of mine that lives out there. I had no idea it's such a nice area; it's city-ish, but quieter, prettier, calmer, happier than Manhattan. It was a beautiful autumn day and I almost felt like I wasn't smack dab in the middle of one of the world's busiest metropolitans, but rather in a place where people take their time, have space to walk on the sidewalk without being afraid that someone's going to run you over, and actually enjoy life.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


A friend of mine from college and I are thinking about entering the Brooklyn Filmracing Competition next weekend. The concept is this: at 10 pm on Friday night, October 3rd, competitors get an e-mail with a prompt, one theme the film has to revolve around and one suprise element that has to be incorporated into the film (such as a prop or and action). The competitors then have 24 hours to come up with a concept and a script, shoot the film, edit the film, and output the film in order to reach the deadline of 10 pm on Saturday, October 4th.

This is a crazy task, since making a three and a half minute film usally takes days and days, if not weeks of planning. We got together on Thursday to see how much we could plan ahead of time and if it'll be feasible for us to pull something off. We started thinking about getting actors involved, what a good location would be (we would have to get permits ahead of time, making sure that the location could be used for any theme), what our schedule would be like the day of, possible concepts that we could incorporate any theme into, possible music/composition we could use, who and where we would edit the movie together. Also, neither of us owns a camera, which is sort of essential...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Basia Bulat

I found out Basia Bulat was coming to New York to do a show about a month and a half ago and have been waiting ever since for today. Basia is a sweet and adorable musician from London, Ontario and sometimes her music makes me want to cry because it's so beautiful, but most of the time it's just very nice to listen to. Here's her myspace page if you want to check her out.

I was all set on going alone, something I've been doing more and more with concerts lately, just cause it's an easy thing to do, but luckily a friend of mine texted me, asked what I was doing tonight, and jumped on going to the concert with me. We met up ahead of time to grab some dinner.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I just moved in to a WONDERFUL new apartment a few weeks ago, way uptown in Manhattan. I love my room, (hardwood floors, SPACE, which is a luxury in this city, two windows) but it came unfurnished, and since I don't have a steady job yet, I decided to buy most of my furniture used. I also thought it would be a nice thing to do to the environment.

I got a full-sized mattress from a friend of mine (I haven't had a full-size for 2 years!), I bought a boxspring, bedframe, and a dresser used off of craigslist and picked them up when I rented a van at the beginning of the month. The used bookshelf I bought at the same time, though, just didn't cut it, so I kept looking on craigslist.

Last Saturday, I found one of those oldschool ikea bookshelves for sale on craigslist, one with four independent shelves, held together by a metal frame. It was black wood and exactly what I wanted! I e-mailed the guy, requesting to buy it, and then continued unpacking while I waited for him to e-mail me back.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mango Sticky Rice!

I met a friend of mine in midtown for drinks the other day. We caught up on what we'd been working on since the last time we saw each other, he showed off his new iphone, and then, of course, we started talking about food. Somehow he managed to gather the seemingly devastating information that I had never had the pleasure of trying Mango Sticky Rice.

"We're getting some tonight!" he said. "Ugh," I said.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pre-Party Food

Whenever my brother, Alex (a different one than the one mentioned in the post about Rice), and I are in New York at the same time, we always end up going out with his friends from college. Growing up, I always wanted to tag along on what my brother was doing, and he was usually pretty great about having me around, if you disregard a couple of years during his mid-teens when he needed space.

Luckily, as a grown-up, he's no different and loves to have me come along. Alex's friends are always a blast to go out with because they know how to do it right; there's never any chance that we'll end up sitting around at the end of the night regretting that we put the effort and money into the ordeal.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Rice" is nice!

I'm helping my brother out for a few days down in Soho. He's editing a commercial and I'm acting as his assistant. It's awesome of him to bring me on, because it means I can earn some extra cash while looking for a job, and he's also in this really fancy building with lots of other production companies, so I'm in the middle of where things are happening.

Whenever my brother and I try to eat anything together (usually food), we have the toughest time figuring out what to eat. This is because both he and I are extremely lazy, meaning that it's too much of a hassle to really care too much about what we end up eating, as long as it's yummy. Or maybe we just care a little too much that it's yummy, and making the wrong choice about what we eat for a meal could be devastating.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Indian Cooking Lesson!

I'm staying with my brother, his wonderful Indian wife, Gagan, and my two baseball-crazy nephews while I look for a job and a place in New York. For a couple of days now, my routine has been to go to apartment showings in the morning, then come back to my brother's place and make phone calls about jobs and hang out with my sister-in-law during the day before I go explore the city at night.

Gagan has promised me that she'll teach me how to cook Indian food while I'm staying with them, which is something I've always wanted to be able to do. From what I can tell about Indian cuisine, the biggest challenge is finding the right ingredients because most of it is made with spices that aren't in your typical North American (or European!) cupboard. Gagan tells me that there are a bunch of Indian stores on 23rd street in Manhattan where you can get ahold of the spices that you need.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Pie Shop

A few of my friends and I went out to Prospect Park in Brooklyn this evening because Bob Dylan was playing there. I'm not a Bob Dylan fan. I mean, he can be good background music, but his nasal voice has never done it for me. He was obvioulsy not playing for free, but he was playing outside, so although there was a fence up to prevent anyone who wasn't paying from seeing him, we could hear him pretty well. We sat with hundreds of people outside the fence, and basically just enjoyed sitting outside, goofing off with some nice background music. And he's a legend, and living legends are the kind of people you have to sit outside a fence to hear every once in a while, even though they're not your thing.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Other Two Birthday Cakes!

Here are the other two cakes that my mom and I made for my birthday! I don't know exactly what cookbooks they're from, but I know the blueberry one had beautiful pictures in it. So just go look for the cookbook with the beautiful pictures in it, it should be in there.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

4 birthday cakes

About (or exactly) 7 days ago I turned 23.

Birthdays mean cake. There's really not much other reason to celebrate and the most important thing to make sure a birthday child gets is cake in their stomach.

For my birthday, I had a bunch of friends over. My mom and I made 4 cakes. And no, that's not overdoing it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


On friday, I was invited to a tapas evening through some friends of mine. Everyone was supposed to make a little finger dish to share. I have always wanted to try out making little filled savory pasteries, because you always see them served as appetizers at fancy parties.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Indian Wedding

A few months ago, a friend of mine, Vineet, invited most of his friends to come to India with him this summer. His brother got married there this week, and it was an enormous celebration: a four day wedding, 400 guests, and I heard rumors about elephants being invited too. Three of my friends actually went with him to partake in the wedding, but most of us didn't have the time or money.

In honor of the wedding, though, the people remaining in Norway decided to go out to eat a nice Indian dinner.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Dinner

This Friday, I invited a bunch of my friends over for a summer dinner. My friends were nice enough to indulge me by giving me the opportunity to try out a bunch of new recipes on them. I think in the end, though, they ended up letting me spoil them for a night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Easy Dinner Recipe!

I have a few staple easy dinner recipes that I make, they usually consist of me throwing things together in a pan and serving it over some kind of rice, potato, or pasta.

Yesterday I made a new one!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

German bliss

I've been in Germany for the past few days for my couisn's son's baptism and have had quite a few amazing food experiences.

The first was the buffet on the ferry down to Germany from Norway, where I basically stuffed myself solid. They had so many different kinds of food, as buffets normally do, and I had to try as many as possible. That's my technique at buffets, quantity of items tasted is definitely what I go for, not to put together a cohesive meal, which I've actually met some people who do. I'll never have the self-discipline! I also try to not get completely and utterly stuffed, but then end up failing miserably. It's all worth it, though, isn't it!? I tried crawfish for the first time, and learned the technique for cracking one open. There were also about 10 different kinds of desserts, about half of them cakes and the other half puddings... My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just some recipes I like

Guest blogger! The stage is yours:

I am going to skip the informative posting part, and get straight to the recipes, because these are a few favorites I need to share with the world, and most notably Sam and Natalyo.

First, as always, a cocktail. This one's called a Mango Sour. I found the recipe in a Gourmet magazine cookbook.

You need: Vodka, Mango Nectar, lemon juice, and ice. It's easy, basically just combine those four things however you like it. It's best if you shake the mixture then add it to a cup of ice. Drunkeness is directly related to the amount of Vodka you add. This was probably obvious but now you know for sure.

Potato Trick

So the other day, I was SUPER hungry and my mom was making dinner for the family since I'm home. I'm not proud of it, but it's a well-known fact that, even though I'm 22, I become slightly cranky when I reach a certain stage of hunger. My mother, who has known me all of my 22 years, realized that I was coming very close to this stage.

Long story short, she was going to make fried potatoes, which usually means you have to boil the potatoes first (which takes about 25 minutes) AND THEN cut them up and fry them, which takes another 5 minutes at least. But, smart as she is, she took out her trusty grater and grated the raw potatoes directly into a pan of olive oil, added some salt and basil, and the potatoes were done in 10 minutes! And they were super good too because they were thin and moist.

I'm by-passing boiling from now on.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Free Money!

I'm back in Norway for the summer and have been loving it so far.

Every time I get home, the very first thing I eat is "sild i tomat", herring in tomatoes. I always get in sometime in the early afternoon and even though I'm deadly tired and smelly from the plane ride, I usually sit down with my parents and have brødskiver, openfaced norwegian sandwiches. Norwegian bread is so good, everything pales in comparison- it's crusty on the outside and nice and soft in the middle and full of seeds and oats and other good stuff. Herring is a white fish and it comes with onions in a tomato sauce. Probably sounds a bit weird, but I love it and it's a great thing to come home to.

The first night I came back, I went out with a bunch of friends, and the next morning, sligtly reduced from then night before, I met up with Bettina and Andreas, and went to town. Seriously!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today, Sam and I went out to eat breakfast at Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory in Jersey City. (Address - 426 Jersey Av, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302. Phone - (201) 433-0471) It's turning into something of a tradition for us to go there when I go to visit her, if by tradition, you mean doing it twice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Idea is Born

We're three girls that decided to eat. Nothing is better to eat than food. And nothing is better to talk about. So we're sharing, with each other and whoever wants to read.

Bon Appetitt. Yum, I can't wait!