Bagels, Brooklyn, Broadway | NYC 2016

Last time on NYC 2016, we wrapped up Friday with a lot of food adventuring with my brother before finishing out the evening dancing in Koreatown with Ben’s college friends. Saturday, I finally ventured off the island of Manhattan…


Saturday morning, Ben and I woke up bright-eyed and ready for something we had been waiting months to taste again: bagels. Bagels are one of those foods I really took for granted when I left the New York metropolitan area. I like them in general, but I have a special feeling when I eat the ones from my home metro region. (And while I’ll eat basically any bagel I see, I know a bad bagel.) Pizza and bagels in my home city can bring tears to my eyes. So we headed to the nearest bagel shop to us. Luckily, it was a block away and a traditional Jewish bagel joint! We were in luck!

JUST KIDDING it was Ess-a-Bagel, one of the most popular bagel shops in the city, especially among tourists. We wound up waiting in line for literally 2 hours. I loathe waiting in line, especially for food, but there weren’t many bagels shops nearby and I figured if I was going to wait for something while in New York, a really great bagel was worth it.

DSC01195
Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?

I also decided to finally try a bialy! Yet another food item that I didn’t know I was taking for granted until I left the area and saw nary a mention of the traditional Polish pastry.

DSC01197
A bialy, whitefish salad on everything, and lox with the works on whole wheat everything

After filling up on bagels… it was time for us to meet my friend Ying to leave the island (!!!) and head to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg. Smorgasburg is the “Brooklyn food flea market” and has become really well-known as a spot where many innovative food vendors can set up shop on the weekends for foodies to try their wares. It is home to many Instagram-famous foods, like the Ramenburger. Now I was pretty apprehensive about Smorgasburg for a bunch of reasons, like my hesitance to leave Manhattan for food when there is food aplenty all over the island, my general side-eyed skepticism of Brooklyn and Williamsburg’s hipster scene, my extreme side-eyed skepticism about the hype of the food at Smorgasburg, to name a few. But I was still excited to finally experience this foodie haven that so many people have been urging me to try out, despite already knowing that nothing would taste as good as the Instagram hype was big.Read More »

Baos & Bros| NYC 2016

Last time on NYC 2016, Ben and I came up to my home city to eat and catch up with an old friend. And we had more eating and catching up to do!


After getting some much-needed rest, it was time for me to meet up with my brother! He’s been staying in the East Village for his summer internship, so we headed over to check out his place and take him out for dinner. (I actually bumped into one of my friends on the subway trip over there! Ben teases me relentlessly for how many people I know and run into unexpectedly. This chance meeting marked unplanned encounter #1 – keep track of these, there are more coming.)

My brother was sharing the apartment of an art director for Marc Jacobs with one of his college roommates, who was working crazy long hours but still had a smile on his face when we saw him. It was a pretty nice place, and within walking distance of The Bao, where we went for dinner. I really loved the xiaolongbao (soup dumplings, aka XLB) at Joe’s Shanghai last year and wanted to compare this spot on St. Mark’s. My brother and boyfriend were both very surprised when I thought we had been a little ambitious with 6 orders of XLB and a vegetable. As it turns out, they were right; we left with plenty of room for more food.

DSC01194.jpg

SO off for more food! Read More »

Rockin’ Round Rockefeller| NYC 2016

Sparing you my cheesy “Big Apple Recap-ple” titles this year. You’re welcome, and not safe in the coming years.

Just a note that I didn’t take very many photos this past trip, as I was really just trying to… take it all in. In fact, Ben and I didn’t even think to take my photos of ourselves or of each other. We’ve come to the point where we’ve visited so many times that we aren’t taking as many photographs. We’re trying to enjoy each other’s company, the company of our friends and family, and this amazing city that I have loved for so many years.

Apologies for the massive blocks of text!

Thursday

Ben and I went up to New York the weekend after Independence Day (aka a few days after returning from the wedding in Roanoke) in what has become an annual trip back to my home city, to The City. We headed up Thursday evening after work, grabbed some McNuggets at Union Station to stave off hunger, and eagerly awaited getting some of that Halal Guys combo with rice at 53rd and 6th. (We were told that the Halal Guys would open franchise locations by the summer of 2015. As you may have noticed, it is now the summer of 2016 and the locations have yet to open…) (STILLMADABOUTIT)

This was the first time that Ben and I really took advantage of good ol’ New York City yellow cabs for getting around, starting with getting from our bus stop to our hotel, which was about 2 miles away. I’ve always preferred traveling by cab over ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber, and the advertising in the cabs confirmed a lot of the reasons I had. Drivers are vetted, you know exactly where your fare charge comes from, there isn’t surge charging, and you are able to hail a cab without dealing with an app that maybe doesn’t work or picks up the wrong person or something. The reason I think those apps succeeded is because they were great apps that allowed you to summon cars when you weren’t able to wait on the road and hail a cab in a lower-traffic area. But now that New York has apps that allows you to do that with cabs, I honestly don’t see a need for Uber or Lyft. Some people are under the impression that taxis have a harder time accepting credit cards, but that’s just not true. Legally, all taxis must accept credit cards, and you can also use the app to pay for your ride as well, just like you can with other ride-sharing services. Long story short, I take yellow cabs when I’m in the city because it is really convenient and I don’t think that Uber or Lyft have changed that. (Note: Big Taxi did not pay me to say any of this. 😛)

We arrived at our hotel, totally pooped, but I managed to peel myself off the bed so we could get what we came to New York for – that chicken and rice from Halal Guys. I was maybe too exhausted to really make that trip, but dang it if it wasn’t maddeningly delicious. (Maddening because… we can’t have it at home yet. We have to make this pilgrimage to eat this simple meal.)

DSC01216.jpg
Dat combo doe!

After a small mishap with the super dangerous red sauce (it is spicier than you think, I am pleading you not to underestimate it) and me wandering around the floor to find the ice machine to mollify that situation, it was time to sleep and get ready for our first full day.Read More »

Disneyland: Before Bed | Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, we had an emotional character lunch (well, at least I did) with some princesses before enjoying Disneyland for the bulk of the afternoon. The weather was finally cooperating and our golden afternoon melted into evening as we headed off to dinner to meet back up with Megan and Don.


Don and Megan, splashing out for their mini-honeymoon, not only made reservations for lunch but for dinner as well, at the swanky Napa Rose restaurant at the Grand Californian. Napa Rose is known for their farm-to-table menu brought by Chef Andrew Sutton. If you want the opposite of nomming on a giant turkey leg in the parks (and you’re not a Club 33 member), this is the fine dining spot for you. We were all feeling pretty full from our big, late lunch, so the four of us ordered a bunch of starters to nibble on. It was nice to have a little taste of the high life before throwing ourselves back into the parks. (And although it was a little sad, it was nice to set down my Minnie Mouse ears for a little bit.)

DSC00882
Grilled diver scallops
DSC00883
… can’t remember what this is, maybe a seasonal special…
DSC00884
Truffled mac & cheese
DSC00885
Green beans
DSC00886
Wild boar meatloaf
DSC00887
Roasted duck meatballs

Tip: If I had a second day at Disney, I think I would have skipped meal reservations because there is a lot of great food available in the parks and I was constantly worried about ruining my appetite. (Like we did at Disney World last year.) Napa Rose is a fine dining experience, so it’s not easy on kids or wallets but the food is very yummy.

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, we split up: MegaDon to see the fireworks at Disneyland and Ben and I rushing to access the viewing area that we grabbed FastPasses for to see World of Color.DSC00888.JPG

Read More »

Rain, Art, & Lights | Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, we began exploring Los Angeles with pie and a some culture at the Getty Center. It was rainy the whole day, so we relished our time indoors and still marveled at how beautiful the museum was. But the day wasn’t over yet, and we had more art to take in at the Getty Villa.


Getty Villa

Tip: If you are planning on visiting the Getty Villa, you will need to register ahead of time online to get your FREE tickets. Yes, you need tickets, but yes, they are free. I actually had gotten tickets for 2 different times, with one being the last slot available so that we weren’t as rushed to leave the Getty Center. (Very sorry to anyone who wanted tickets for the slot I didn’t use and was unable to register.) Make sure to reserve your ticket and then either have your ticket saved on a mobile device or printed to show at the gate.

DSC00416DSC00450

If you’d like to visit the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in one day, you can use your parking voucher from one at the other! (Aka free parking at your second Getty destination!) Since we went from the Getty Center to the Getty Villa, we had to first let the Getty Center parking folks know that we were headed to the Getty Villa so that they could give us a voucher to bring over to the Getty Villa. This worked out pretty well for us because the Getty Center has a ticketed garage and we were able to present our voucher to the guard at the Getty Villa, but I’m not sure how it works if you go from Villa to Center.

13118013_1315241578490725_1820017279_n

DSC00436
Some ceiling love

The Getty Villa is a gorgeous, stunning estate that is near Malibu but not quite there, despite what the museum itself advertises. (And I’m pretty sure their social media team is mad that I called them out on that. The truth will set you free, Getty Villa.) The estate was originally the residence for J. Paul Getty and slowly transformed into what it is today as he kept running out of room for displaying his antiquities. Not only did he want to display his really impressive collection, he wanted to display them in a way that reflected their time and how they would have been displayed in their time. The estate’s architectural design (oh, did you think you had escaped me talking about Getty architecture, guess again) is based on the Villa of the Papyri, which was destroyed by the volcanic eruption that rendered Herculaneum to ruins. Not only is Getty Villa a pretty spectacular re-creation of a Greco/Roman antiquity villa, the entire estate is also modeled to be reminiscent of an archaeological dig, with some of the structures intentionally built to resemble half-uncovered ruins. And while the Getty Villa was the original and sole site of the Getty Museum, it now houses only the antiquities in the way they were meant to be displayed, so the pieces have a lot of room for admiration.

DSC00422DSC00438DSC00478DSC00482

Also, the estate itself is art. The gardens were just beautiful and featured beautiful fountains. Also, just look at how obsessed I became with the beautiful tile work on the floors…Read More »