Truth: I have been incredibly busy since getting back from vacation earlier this month. At first it was just a really stupid busy where I was working almost every hour of the day until 2/3 AM every night. It's progressed into a busy where I'm actually getting a lot of worthwhile things done that I'm feeling really good about in regards to my professional future and my life in general. That really boring sentence over with, even with all that, I still have yet to recover enough time for myself to do things like blog, and this makes me really emotionally angsty in the most loser-ish of ways. Especially when I have so many things I want to write about! But I don't have enough time to write a really well thought out entry! So I'm going to start where I can--with grilled cheese!
I alluded to this vacation we took being somewhat of a Big Deal in my last entry, and while pretty much all of it was extremely important and wonderful and Big Deal-ish, the portion that in the end has been the most momentous in a way was our time in New York. We did so many amazing things and hung out with so many amazing people in the brief time we were there, but strangely, the overall feeling I had about everything seems wrapped up in a grilled cheese sandwich in Queens.
This grilled cheese is from The Queens Kickshaw, located in Astoria at Broadway and Steinway, off the Broadway stop on the E, M or R. Our friend Stacy had recommended it (since it almost hides on the street, otherwise we never would have found it) and we stopped by after visiting the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image. It was actually a somewhat strange mid-afternoon time and we'd already had lunch, but we really can never say no to the prospect of a fancy grilled cheese sandwich. So we just got one sandwich to share, which was the gouda.
The gouda was what Stacy recommended, and in addition to the gouda, it had black bean hummus, guava jam, and pickled jalapenos. AND IT WAS SO GOOD WE KEPT DREAMING ABOUT IT AND TALKING ABOUT IT FOR DAYS AFTERWARDS. I feel like this is the kind of hyperbolic statement I would make about something I really liked, but this time it's actually true--we literally couldn't stop talking and thinking about it. The bread was perfect and crunchy while still being a little soft but without being too greasy. The too-greasy factor can really ruin a good grilled cheese. I mean, when you're making a nice and greasy grilled cheese for yourself at home to go with some Campbell's tomato soup that's another story, but when you're paying almost ten buckaroos for a grilled cheese, you want that bread to be perfect. And it was. And something about the guava jam that gave it a little punch of sweetness...bam. Beautiful. Looking at their menu, they have a blue cheese one that, just based on the gouda one, makes me almost drool in delicious anticipation of how good THAT would be all up in here in my mouth. So, you know. Obviously, we have to go back.
Oh, and they also have delicious local beer. Which, as you should know by now, is always a draw for Kathy and I. After a few years of living in Oregon, it's basically like the need for delicious local beer runs in your bloodstream, and I was excited to get to try out some good NYC stuff for the first time. The price difference for good beer in Portland and in NYC is still a little painful (meaning, $6 for a glass is "cheap"), but we were grudgingly adjusting to it.
A trip to New York, while exciting, always carries a certain amount of stress, too. Aside from simply being one of the most intense cities in the world to be in, we know so many people living in the city now that we had almost over-packed our schedule with friends we wanted to see and things that we wanted to do. There were confusing subway stations to navigate, time frames to work out, budgets which were quickly being destroyed by those NYC prices I just mentioned, and there were definitely moments of, oh my God, this place is exhausting.
But I loved the vibe of the Queens Kickshaw as soon as we got there, and we both actually just loved the vibe of Queens itself. The girl working the counter was a definite Cool New York Person with a Cool New York Haircut and Cool New York Clothes, but she was also overwhelmingly nice and laughed at my jokes about being poor, and it felt distinctly less annoying and homier than going to a similar place in Williamsburg in Brooklyn (Where the Hipsters Go). As we sat eating our grilled cheese and drinking our beer in a New York neighborhood where we felt Real People actually lived--not just the hipsters, not just the fancy businesspeople of Manhattan, but an authentic cacophony of Real People--for one of the first times since we'd been there, I felt every bone in my body relax and just felt genuinely, truly happy.
So next time, alluring blue cheese sandwich, and/or gouda which I may have to just get again--it's you and me.