Thanksgiving and Winter Joys

As the days get shorter and shorter, we've been pulled into the magic of the holiday season.


This Thanksgiving we were grateful to be invited to Dex's co-fellow's dinner table for a delicious Puerto Rican-themed meal. The plate featured Jen's roasted veggies and leek and spinach gratin, which won her multiple plaudits, arroz con granules, home-made buns, macaroni salad, an amazing turkey, and the piece de resistance, cassava stuffing from scratch. The cassava soaks up the turkey juice but avoids the "bready" feeling of regular stuffing. Definitely recommend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Along the way, we learned about the holidays in Puerto Rico, including the importance of family, Three Kings Day (more important than Christmas to some, and the one where the kids actually get the good presents), and homemade alcohol. Speaking of that last one... it sounds as though making moonshine is a widespread wink-wink under-the-table endeavor on the island, and the bottles all come out during the holidays.

We got to try two types: cojito, described as the Puerto Rican eggnog, and pitorro, which is straight-up moonshine. The cojito was delightful: so smooth and tasty. We even got the recipe, though it's questionable if we'll ever be able to make it. The pitorro is strong as a mule, but also very smooth. It can also be flavored in a number of ways: guava, passionfruit, coconut, etc. We tried a coffee-flavored batch, and though neither of us dared to have more than a few sips, we appreciated the artistry that goes into making such a drink.

Salud! We are grateful for another good year.

Cojito for all!

Meanwhile, it started to get cold...


The city of New Haven celebrated by putting up the Christmas tree in the middle of the green, which was perfect timing for the first snow, which fell at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. Dex, inspired by all the free Yale hockey games he was going to, finally signed up for ice skating lessons, and after 7 tenuous weeks dodging 4 year olds who were also learning how to skate, passed the Basic 1 level. He can now fall (lots of practice with that one), get up off the ice, swizzle forward, swizzle backward, and do the "rocking horse." Next step: level 2!

He's upright, folks! [applause]

Meanwhile, Jen met a new friend to keep her company for the winter. We welcome Georgie into our little family! The reason for the name is somewhat complicated, but it goes back to Jen's rather undying love for a certain 49ers QB, and one of said QB's favorite teammates. The reason also involves Jen's hopes that we get a corgi one day who will get to play with Georgie... like I said, it's complicated.

Jen, Levi, and Georgie

The best part of the month however was Spencer (Dex's brother) and Jenny's visit to New Haven! Fresh off a few action-packed days in NYC, Spence and Jenny decamped to New Haven to see the local sights, hang out with us, and try some pizza. Spence being a chef and Jen being a foodie, it was inevitable that more Food Adventures would ensue, including the final episode of Pizzawars...for the full details on that, check out our other post.

First stop: Louis' lunch

Louis is a New Haven spot that claims to be the founder of the hamburger. Yes, the hamburger. Apparently they take this claim very seriously. According to wikipedia, there was actually a "mock trial"/conference to decide the origin of the hamburger, and while all the other participants showed up with half-cooked origin stories Louis arrived with an affidavit, letters from a Preservation Society, and even the approval of the Library of Congress. Wow! We just hoped they'd put half as much effort into their hamburgers.

Louis, meet the Louie's

Indeed, as we learned from their signage, Louis is a spot that pretty much takes itself seriously, 100% of the time. Got it, note taken, Louis.

I want it... Louis way.

How was the burger itself? So it's a burger, but Louis slaps it between two pieces of toast, adds ketchup and onions, and serves it. And if you've been paying attention, you know that Louis brooks no other substitutions or additions. No buns, no lettuce, no "special sauce." The burger itself is tasty, but as Spence says, "a burger is difficult to 'elevate.' A burger is a burger." So yes, for the best burger on toast, hit up Louis. As to whether or not you want to call that a hamburger or a meat sandwich, we'll leave that up to you.

So what did we do other than eating? After checking out Yale and the environs, we headed to Barcade: a part bar, part arcade (get it?) in New Haven. The owners went around and snapped up all those amazing coin-op arcade machines from the 80's and 90's that you know and love. No new-fangled 3D CGI here: just Pac Man, NFL Blitz, Primal Rage, Time Crisis, and more.

As we learned, Jenny is excellent at Time Crisis.

Look at that focus!

Meanwhile, Spence and Dex played out the battle of the brothers on some Primal Rage. Sadly, it was not nearly as enticing as Dex remembered as an eight-year-old staring longingly at the machines in Round Table Pizza. We also got in some spirited rounds of Pac Man.

We spent plenty of time relaxing too, including watching Netflix, getting some gym time in, playing the wikipedia game (start on a random wikipedia page, like hedgehog, and race your friends to get to another random page, like La Quinta Inn, using only links to other wikipedia pages), and of course getting in some Zoom time with the parents.

It's no standing desk, but the setup still works

We also all discovered that Cracker Barrel, a national southern-style restaurant chain which only marginally exists in CA, is...kind of good? Price + surprising quality = worth a visit. The country fried steak is the main attraction, but don't sleep on the chicken and dumplins, folks.

There were no actual crackers served at the Cracker Barrel

Ultimately, we were so glad that Spence and Jenny chose to come out to frigid Connecticut and sleep on an air mattress just to visit us. We hope that you had fun, and we'll see you soon...let's make it in California though ;)

See you in California!

Post Script:

Dex discovered a (ridiculous) new song this holiday season

Dexter Louie

Dexter Louie

The co-pilot on this journey, I am the peanut butter to Jen's jam. I nerd out on history books, love a good boba, and consistently struggle to get myself to practice mindfulness ("")