I haven’t enjoyed a weekend as much as I did Memorial Day in a long time. No traveling. No whining (but lots of wine-ing). Little stress (relatively). I was in pure, 3 day weekend heaven and feel completely rested and more level headed – though also a little alcohol-ed out – because of it.
Friday Night: Sunset Happy Hours and Early to Bed
The weekend started off strong with happy hour on a co-workers rooftop. Working at a start-up, it’s rare that I leave the office before 6:30 – if not 7:30 to 8 – most nights of the week, unless I have dinner or drinks planned in advance, so getting out of there at 4, whether I was completely done or not with my work, felt slightly liberating. Let the shenanigans begin.
Of course, there would be no shenanigans on Friday night. Once the sun set over the south and west of Manhattan, which we had a perfect view of the entire time, Noah and I walked down to Soho to enjoy a drink and a few apps at Barmarche – a game-time decision.
Barmarche was pretty good; cute atmosphere, very nice wine. I don’t feel that I can truly judge the food because we only ordered appetizers. We shared a bowl of delicious and salty olives, Noah got oysters, which I hate anyway (not sure why anyone would want to lick an ocean), and I ordered a pear and goat cheese salad. It was fine for what we needed and filled us up with sustenance before going to the next bar.
Little did we know that the next bar would last us about an hour before our eyes started closing and we were very much ready for bed. It was only about 11pm at this time, but after going out Wednesday and Thursday nights, waking up at 6:30 on Friday to run 5 miles, going to work, and indulging in happy hour, I was spent. Put a fork in me.
Saturday: Farmers’ Market Fun and Indulgent Behavior
New York City can often feel like the center of the universe, but not on Memorial Day weekend. The entire population of Manhattan had emptied out by the time we woke up on Saturday morning – probably to the Hamptons, Catskills and beyond – making Noah’s and my short little 4-miler pleasant and fun.
We weren’t feeling too ambitious, but wanted to move our bodies before getting the day started so decided to run from our apartment downtown to Soho (empty streets meant that running on main avenues wouldn’t be such a problem), west on Houston, back up 6th Avenue, through Washington Square Park…
…and up to the Union Square farmers’ market to stock our fridge with delicious, fresh produce to last us the weekend.
I tend to be very cash-conscious at the farmers’ market because, while everything sure looks amazing and is well-worth the extra dough to support locally grown produce, the purchases can also add up very quickly indeed. My tip: If you have the time, shop around. You’ll find that 1 stand may charge $8 for a bunch of asparagus while another charges $4 while yet another allows you to pick out stalks at a per/pound rate.
I spent about $30 total, or what I usually drop at the supermarket for a few day’s worth of food, and got asparagus, 2 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers (these tend to be pretty cheap at farmers’ markets), 2 muffins (blueberry for Noah, blueberry made with banana instead of sugar for me), a basil plant, applesauce with no sugar added, and a half a loaf of whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread. The latter was expensive – $9 – but I figure that half a loaf would last about 3 or 4 days and provide breakfast for both Noah and I, so ultimately, it was worth it even if Noah didn’t think it was. Anyway, it’s so good.
When we got back to the apartment, I grabbed a few of the ingredients plus another few items from my fridge and cabinets, and made a delicious summer black bean salad for the morning. (I’ll add the how-to at the end of this post, if you’re interested in making it yourself.)
At this point, it was only noon! The rest of the day requires less elaborate detail though, and went something like this: meet up with friends, mint and procescco smoothies at Westville, excessive drinking at The Frying Pan, pee about 40 times after switching from wine to beer, get caught in the rain, BBQ on a friend’s roof, pass out before midnight again.
Sunday: Suburban Pool Sides and More Indulgent Behavior
Even after drinking all day, going to sleep before midnight really does have its perks. Because while, sure, my body felt like I’d drank an entire bar during the previous 24 hours, I wasn’t actually hungover. Tired and bloated? Yes. But I was up and at ’em as usual.
Noah and I woke up around 8am – late for me – and immediately started the day with a 5 mile run. When it comes to indulgent behaviors, I can definitely live it up with the best of them; that said, I’m also equally cognizant of just how important it is to at least get a short run in to counteract the effects of such behaviors.
Leaving my phone and music at home, we set out for a 5 mile run around the lower loop of Central Park. Something I noticed: It felt really nice not to push myself distance-wise as I might normally on a weekend when I have nothing to do. Instead, I just listened to my body and my mind, and they were telling me to take it easy – to enjoy the hour-long run just for the joy and love of running. And so that’s exactly what we did.
Central Park was surprisingly quiet, again, thanks to the mass Memorial Day exodus from Manhattan. It was beautiful nonetheless, and I enjoyed every second we spent out there.
About midway through the lower loop of Central Park, Noah requested to run the back half faster than we had at first. My initial instinct: You’re an asshole. You know I don’t want to run fast. But I was happy enough that we were out there and running together, and so I complied. Another shocker of the morning: I managed to keep up, even if I went silent and began to intensely focus on my breathing. I’m not saying I enjoyed the minor speed work, but it wasn’t as awful as I thought it’d be.
Whereas the run may have started cloudy and blah, it ended sunny and gorgeous, and so we made a few phone calls and were on the Long Island Rail Road within the next hour to hang with friends by the pool. What better way is there to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon without work in the morning?
Not much to recount here, so I’ll give you the quick breakdown of what I learned on Sunday aftertoon.
- Going to the suburbs was a genius idea, especially in the town I grew up. Everyone was in the Hamptons, leaving the entire pool area to us. Awesome privateness.
- Laying poolside on the water is freaking fabulous and relaxing, and I want to do it every weekend this summer.
- BBQs with boys are great, but definitely bring lots of cut up veggies and fruit when the only items on the menu are many varieties of sausage and ribs. Hello – I was prancing around in a bikini for godsake.
- My skin looks better not see-through and pale. Tanning day 1 was a success.
- Lifeguards don’t like when you drink alcohol near the pool, so bring plastic cups in anticipation. Pool side bubbly rose with blueberries? Yes please!
- 5 hours can feel like 10 minutes when you’re completely and utterly in heaven.
We packed up the crew around 5:00 and slowly headed back into the city, where we showered in our respective apartments and met back up in the East Village at Upstate – an awesome oyster bar with incredibly fresh, local food. If you’re from the area, I highly recommend it.
Wine, wine, wine. Beer, beer, beer. Shrimp, scallop, brown rice risotto. Yes, our late meal was fantastic, and even better was that, because Upstate wasn’t opening on Monday and we were among the last in the restaurant on Sunday evening, they kept bringing out all these complimentary dishes to use up their ingredients. I left very full, a little drunk, and endlessly happy.
Monday: A Memorial Day for Naps and Laziness
Monday of Memorial Day is typically spent packing up, traveling, and being sad that you have to leave some awesome place either on the beach or in the woods. I’ve been there.
This year, instead, I woke up feeling (again) a little bloated from all the eating and drinking, but generally rested and content. I had the entire day in front of me to clean my apartment, gather my thoughts, and generally get my life together. I wouldn’t be sitting in traffic; I wouldn’t be scrambling before going to work on Tuesday, rather, I’d lay in bed writing this weekend recap until about 9, finally scrub my bathroom, and take a nice walk around the city before watching the most intense episode of Game of Thrones ever. Guess I won’t be sleeping for the next week.
I had no expectations for Memorial Day weekend 2012, and it turned out to be just what I needed. Here’s hoping that yours was just as enjoyable too.
And as promised, here’s the recipe to a light summer black bean and quinoa salad that’s filling, healthy, and great for vegetarians.
Balsamic Black Bean and Quinoa Summer Salad
What you need: 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 can of black beans, 10-15 stalks of asparagus, walnuts, red quinoa, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, feta cheese (optional).
What to do:
- Boil a pan of water for your quinoa. Once the water begins to bubble a bit, you’ll want to put your quinoa up since it can take about 15 minutes to cook.
- In a large bowl, chop up (size can be determined by your taste; I prefer small chunks) your tomato, cucumber, and asparagus (I chop the bottoms off first to make sure no fibrous pieces wind up in the salad). Dump in your beans. (I often rinse them first to get rid of some sodium.)
- Grab a handful of walnuts, and crush them into the salad with your fist.
- Cheese is optional. I actually just had some extra feta lying around in the fridge. If you have it, use it. If not, it’s really not a big deal either. A tip: When ordering in dinner from a restaurant, ask for the cheese on the side (if you’re getting a salad), that way you can 1) manage your intake of the cheese rather than drowning the lettuce and 2) use it at a later time as a free ingredient. Perfection. And thrifty.
- Pour a small amount of your extra virgin olive oil on top of your veggies, remembering that you don’t want the salad to be too oily. Then shake red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar in. Crack your black pepper in, and toss it all together.
- Once your quinoa is ready, drain any extra water and allow it to cool for a minute or 2 – especially if you added cheese to your salad. Mix it in, allowing it to soak in the flavor of the oil and vinegars.
- Serve either on its own or with an over-easy egg. Something about the runny yoke with these flavors makes me happy, but it may not be for everyone.
Tell me about your Memorial Day weekend! Any fun runs or farmers’ market pit stops? Anyone else overindulge in vino and good food?