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Friday, October 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

budapest's memento park

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These are the last set of photos from Budapest. (It seems like we went forever ago!) Anyway, Memento Park in Budapest is an open-air, Communist-themed park. In 1989, the new government decided to remove these rather large traces of the country's former Communist regime by dumping them in one place, about a 20 minute drive outside the city center. We took a short trip there one afternoon, and I highly recommend it. If you're interested in any aspect of Hungary's postwar history, it's obviously a journey worth making. But, even if you're not, it takes up very little time and the whole experience—with the towering, out-of-place statues—feels surreal.

It's also, strangely, good for kids. It wasn't crowded when we visited, and the entire place is flat and open, so Aaron had a great time running around and trying to stuff the occasional fistful of gravel into his mouth when we weren't looking.

So. Why were these statues even in Hungary? Essentially, after the German defeat at Stalingrad, Hungary—who'd become a German ally early on and spent the first few years of the war fighting alongside the Wehrmacht—wised up and started scrambling for a lifeboat off the Titanic. (After Stalingrad, it became clear that that the tide was turning and it was the beginning of the end for Germany.) Well, when 1943 hands you lemons, you shop around desperately for a secret armistice agreement. Unfortunately for Hungary, the Germans got wind of this and expressed their extreme displeasure by rolling into Hungary in March of 1944. Meanwhile, the Soviets (who'd actually signed an armistice or two with various factions of the Hungarian government—all blithely ignored, by the way) regained their territory after Stalingrad, stormed into Budapest really, really bent out of shape in the winter of 1945, defeated the German forces there, installed a new government for Hungary, and . . . just sort of stayed. 

Until 1989

Now you know. 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

our week so far . . .


Ah, toddler sleep regression! Have you read this book? I always thought it was funny, even before I had Aaron. But now that I'm a parent, I'm horrified by how apt it is. Josh and I are leaving in a little bit to get ice cream and see Gone Girl (in a movie theater! like adults without babies do!) and I'm half afraid I'm just going to fall asleep during the movie.

P.S. Levar Burton reading "Go the Fuck to Sleep." 

Monday, October 27, 2014

the gibson, and a case against the martini glass

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If you don't know what a gibson is, it is exactly a martini, but with a cocktail onion. 

If you don't know what makes up a martini . . . well. We all have to start somewhere. I guess you'll start here. 

(I'll tell you what a martini isn't, though. It is anything that is not composed of gin, vermouth, and olives. Sure, vodka with vermouth and a few olives thrown in sounds totally fine. But it's not a martini.)

I prefer a gibson over a martini because I've never really liked olives. Not all olives were cured equal, and fishing out a soggy olive from the warm dregs of your martini is kind of depressing. But cocktail onions! They're a different story. They're sweet, but savory, and crunchy forever. 

Here's what you'll need. 

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A frosty champagne coupe*** . . . 

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cold gin, and chilled vermouth . . . 

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. . . and a jar of cocktail onions. Simple, sweet, and easy. 

So . . . 
2.5oz gin
~1oz chilled vermouth
1 dash of onion brine
3 or so cocktail onions, for garnish

Fill your champagne coupe with ice water and let sit while you mix the drink.
Place all ingredients, excluding onions, in shaker.
Fill shaker halfway with ice.
Stir well.
Strain into champagne coupe.
Garnish with cocktail onions. 
Enjoy. 


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***A note: I have stronger feelings than is normal about martini glasses, and they are basically summed up as follows: Martini glasses do not work. They are a beautiful art deco legacy, and yes, every drink looks a little fancier in them. But they are illogically designed. 

One, they're shaped to make spilling your drink as easy as possible, so the sophistication of the glassware is negated by the sight of your drink dribbling down your wrist. I gesticulate wildly while I talk, and this is a particularly sore point with me.  

Two, martinis and gibsons, when mixed in correct proportions, never fit in the glass. (Martini glasses, traditionally, used to be a lot tinier, so you could fill them quite easily with a drink that wouldn't put a horse down.) So you're left with a sad looking drink in an absurdly large glass, or a bunch of blacked out guests who've had a cup of gin and three onions before dinner. Neither is ideal.

And, last, because the martini glass is so bad at the only thing it's supposed to do (contain a drink), most people end up holding it by the bowl and not the stem, leading to one of the worst offenses on earth: a hand-warmed gibson. Ugh. 

So. Anyway. Make a gibson. Strain it into a champagne coupe or, really, any vintage cocktail glass designed to hold a 3-4oz drink. Please! Your wildly gesticulating guests will thank you. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

"death becomes her" at the met


The Costume Institute's fall exhibition, "Death Becomes Her," is now at the Met! It consists of 30 mourning dresses from across a century, from the early 1800s to the Edwardian era. I have a weird preoccupation with historical women's formalwear from that time period and can usually date a dress with bewildering accuracy. (Yes, it's incredibly strange, as well as useless.) I was just thinking how much I wish I could go, except I just remembered that, duh! we'll be back in New York briefly during the holidays in a few months!

P.S. Sorry for the lack of travel posts this week. It was a tiring and trying week for a variety of inane reasons. A Vienna recap, a last handful of photos from Budapest, and some more Istanbul tips coming up for the next. Have a good one!