December 22, 2013

New York | Day 3

In my books, waking up around noon with a terrible hangover is a pretty good start to your birthday (See my previous post on why we were suffering!) We dragged ourselves out of bed and went for an amazing recovery/carb laden lunch at Eataly on 5th Avenue (Note: In the photo below, I asked J to 'try not to look hungover, and act as if this is the most exciting thing you're ever going to eat' - He's learning) Funnily enough, it wasn't the most exciting food I've ever eaten, but it sure hit the spot and the Eataly atmosphere was a great pick-me-up.

I saw one of the waiters wearing this shirt below and almost walked up to him to inform him that it was my birthday as well but then realized that they sell these babies in the Eataly souvenir shop. Naturally, I got one and wore it the entire day. I was so tempted to flash it at random people but J spoiled my fun. Is that stuff not allowed when you've passed the twentysomething halfway mark?

As mentioned before, J had planned a day of surprises for me, but our hangover pushed things back a bit. At my request, we slowed down the pace, strolled around and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I also had my first Whole Foods experience in Union Square and nearly cried at all of the yummy choices. Yes, it's expensive and pretentious, but I loved it. We packed a picnic and made our way back to the apartment, which happened to be next to the High Line, just in time for a beautiful sunset. 

I was snapping away and eating organic guacamole to my hearts content when J informed me that we had to move on to the next surprise. I got a bit annoyed because I was enjoying the view so much, but he pointed upwards and assured me that I would enjoy the view that much more from the rooftop bar in The Standard Hotel. This boy knows me too well :)

My inner 'Asian tourist' came out in full force ; I was 'oohing' and 'aahing' at the 1950's decor, the hot waitresses, the delicious cocktails and the bathrooms (They look out onto the Empire State Building skyline) and trying to take photos of it all. The view was INCREDIBLE and I gave up trying to do it justice. We savored our cocktails as we watched the sun go down over Brooklyn. I couldn't have pictured a better way to end the day but I didn't realize what was next on the agenda...

Most of my close friends know that 'death by sushi' could never apply to me. I LOVE sushi so much and could happily eat it everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thankfully, my final surprise was an amazing sushi dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi in SoHo. This dinner was the - so good in fact, that I almost dedicated an entire post to this meal but didn't want to leave you hanging. 

The Blue Ribbon is a small hole in the wall, dimly lit and bursting at the seams. They don't take reservations, and apparently the queue is usually snaking around the block, but we were lucky enough to get a booth straight away. The waiters are straight up hustlers too, they know their shit and do it well. J and I were like kids in a candy store at this point, so we decided to try out a few things on the menu:

First up: Oysters
I'm not usually a huge fan of oysters, purely because I find them quite boring to eat. But these were different in so many ways. We chose a sample of both East Coast and West coast oysters, to see if we could tell the difference, and we definitely could (I preferred West Coast because they were meatier) They were seasoned with soy, ginger and sesame seed oil and another sauce that I couldn't pinpoint, giving them a kick that I had never experienced before.

Round Two: Shrimp Dumplings
AMAZING. Enough said. 

Round Three:
Sushi Squares/Boxes, as opposed to rolls. Similar to nigiri, except that the sushi is 'built' upwards, with the rice on the bottom, avocado and then tuna on top. Interesting to eat and definitely something I'd like to try to make myself.

Round Four: Maki, Maki, Makiiiii

Tuna, crab, eel and salmon rolls.

Round Five: Just kidding, we stopped after Round Four.

We were contemplating a fifth course when the waiter passed our table carrying this dish below. I was feeling snap happy (as you can tell) so I asked him if I could take a photo of the plate and feature it on my 'food' blog. The Manager was consulted and told that there was a food blogger from Barbados who wanted to feature the restaurant, so she happily obliged and even staged it in the light for me. I think I need to pull the blogger card more often and see if I can get any freebies in the future.

Desert: A few scoops of ice-cream at a local parlour around the corner, but at this point I was pooped and couldn't put J through another 'hold on, let me take a photo of that' moment, the poor boy had endured enough.

It was literally the icing on top of an amazing 3 day birthday celebration and I can't wait to explore New York again soon. 

Stay tuned for my New York video :)

December 20, 2013

New York | Day 2

My feet hurt just thinking about this crazy day in the City - It started with bagels and ended up with me taking my bra off on a bar (More on that later) Our day was centered around food and sights - the beautiful weather (9 degrees and sunny) kept us outside and on our feet the entire day! 

We started with breakfast at Murray's Bagels in Chelsea - hands down, the BEST cream cheese I've ever tasted (I had also never really had a bagel before this weekend) I'm not a huge fan of the bagel itself, but give me as much smoked salmon and cream cheese as possible. NOM! 

Off we went, ready to see what the Big Apple had to offer. As per my request, we stayed away from Museums and any other indoor attractions, simply because the weather was too beautiful to miss out on. I LOVE museums and would happily spend an entire, rainy day inside one of them, but not when time is of the essence. Here are some snaps from our wanderings, which include Grand Central Station and the Rockefeller Centre. J and I are both klutzy birds, so attempting to ice skate in front of a gazillion kids was not even an option for us.

Next up, a bike ride through Central Park! I hadn't been on a bike since Amsterdam and I was really up for giving my feet a break at this point. We did the full loop through the park,  it was quite a sight with both of us balancing a camera and the handlebars. It was beautiful! I would love to pack a picnic next time and spend the entire day there soaking it all up on a warmer day.

Coffee breaks are the best, especially when you've been struggling on a bike for 2 hours. We stopped at Le Pain Quotidien on the corner of 58th St & 7th Ave for delicious coffee and nibbles. 

Recharged and ready to roll, we casually strolled from the coffee shop to Times Square. At the time, it seemed like a stone's throw away....but it most certainly was not. I think my feet were numb at this point anyway though and I was like a moth attracted to the bright lights :)

Anyone who's ever witnessed Times Square will know what I mean when I say it's Cartoon Network on acid. There is SO much to take in around you at once! I had trouble focussing on what to take photos of and walked away from there feeling a bit loopy. I thought Asia was crazy, but this takes the cake.
Never. Again.

We hopped in a cab and headed back to the meat packing district, dumped our bags and walked over to Chelsea Market to have a paroozle before our dinner reservation. I only wish we had more time in the city, especially in places like Chelsea Market that have so many hidden shops, eateries and corridors. I especially loved the design and vintage market, Artists & Fleas, where J picked out this cute little bag by Pamela Barsky for my art supplies:

Next up: A dinner treat from J's siblings at Colicchio & Sons with the homeboy. We started off with a drink at the bar, and for the beer fans amongst you, they have a very impressive selection of beers; including a variety of local microbrewery brands.  The food was so good I didn't think to take photos, especially after snapping away the entire day. I had the best chicken dish I've ever eaten: Breast wrapped in prosciutto with a creamy truffle was heaven on a plate and could have eaten it three times over. This restaurant is romantic and sophisticated without being extortionate and I'd recommend it any day. Thanks Relly & Max :)

After a lovely meal and way too many drinks, we though it would be a great idea to venture in to a bar called "Hogs & Heifers" on the corner of 859 Washington St. Not sure whether the name, the big biker bouncer, the smell of stale beer or 90's rock music gave it away, but as soon as we walked in I knew this was about to get messy...

The bar is similar to that of Coyote Ugly; hot bartenders scantily clad in leather pants and bikini tops, singing, hootin' and howlin' at the yuppies who harass them. The walls are covered in tacky 'biker style' deco - moose heads, old posters and discarded road signs. Every hour or so, the girls would hop on the bar and start line dancing, What sets it apart to any other southern rock-n-roll dive bar though, is the enormous beehive of bras above the bar. Apparently, a girl lost a bet many years ago and was forced to take off her bra and fling it up to the stags head above the bar. She did, and it started a pretty naughty tradition that became the trademark theme of Hogs & Heifers, leading to countless celebrities dancing on the bar and donating their bras. Apparently there are 18,000 bras piled up on there, each one with a unique story. The girls were super friendly, and I couldn't tell if they liked me or J more....either way, it got us a few free shots. Midnight hit, and it was officially my birthday. The bartenders were equally as excited about this and got us more shots...and more, and more.
Then one of them convinced me to dance on the bar with her (much J's dismay - I think he was convinced I would fall off) and eventually took of my bra as well (much to his delight). The entire bar applauded as I did this, and I could feel my cheeks burning. Luckily, I didn't miss when I threw it and it's now safely perched on top of the hive.

I finally jumped off the bar laughing hysterically, only to be reminded by J that I was in fact wearing a sheer white top with no bra. Oops.
Clearly it was time to go home. 

Read my post on Day 1 in New York here.


December 18, 2013

New York | Day 1

I actually got a wee bit depressed sorting through my photos; my trip to New York was nothing short of amazing and I loved every second of it.

We drove to New York from New Jersey with J's cousins and as the skyline came into view, Mitch started blasting Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' because he knew it was my first time. Thanks for that Mitch, I appreciate the shared sense of humour :) I may even be listening to it as I write this post...

As soon as we dropped our suitcases off at our apartment in Greenwich Village, we found our way to Union Square to meet up with Chad for lunch at Coffee Shop.

We then hopped on the Subway and headed to Brooklyn. J and I had discussed this plan a bit, despite the itinerary being a surprise, because I really wanted to visit the Brooklyn Brewery. Off we went, J in the lead, with me thinking that he knew where he was going...

It was only as we were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge that he admitted he had never been to Brooklyn, had rarely taken the subway before AND hadn't really mapped out where we were going once we actually reached Brooklyn. Hmph. So we did what any tourist in this situation would do and hailed the nearest cab :) We finally found the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburgh and rushed in before the last orders. These babies came in a variety of colours and flavours - my favourite was the Weisse :)

8 beers under an hour later, we stumbled outside, unsure of what to do next and we ended up scoping out out a vintage shop next door. For any of you who have been to a vintage/thrift shop before, you'll know it's a laugh at the best of times, so imagine going when tipsy. I challenged J to find me the ugliest combination of clothes ever and this was the result:

1980's sequins and shoulder pads were the order of the day apparently (this is the closest I'll ever come to doing an outfit post)

After we had regained our composure, we were out on the streets again, trying to find a restroom. We walked into the nearest building, which looked like it had an art gallery of some sort downstairs. Turns out we had stumbled into the Wythe Hotel Rooftop Bar in Brooklyn and this was an installation by a featured artist.

We were directed to the elevators and sent to the top floor. We were a bit confused as to why we had to go to the top floor to use the rest room, but we were game for anything at this point. We didn't expect to see a panorama view of the Manhattan skyline as we stepped out, and it was breath taking.

The view was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, the ambiance was super chilled, the drinks were reasonably priced and the balcony outside offers an even better view of the city in front with Brooklyn behind. I'd recommend this place any day!

What followed was an evening of cocktails and great conversation, followed by more exploring around Brooklyn (I finally put away my camera) and dinner at a Diner in the meatpacking. I had a whirlwind of a day and I was head over heels in love with this city already! 

Stay tuned for Day 2 & 3 of our trip.

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