24 hours in New York City

 

“So lucky to be alive today… in the greatest city in the world”

“In New York… in New York” – Hamilton

New York City. It’s one of those places that stimulates me and exhausts me at the same time. You know what I mean?

Just got back from a quick trip anniversary trip, and I’m still so wired from the whole experience.

Seriously, you don’t even need caffeine there.

The streets, the people, the atmosphere. It’s all enough to keep you alert and bright eyed for hours, if not a day or two afterwards.

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by heading from DC to NYC for a day.

Here’s how our 24 hours unfolded.

After taking the train, then checking into our hotel, we freshened up and headed to lunch.

We chose Carbone for a long leisurely lunch before our show later that night.

Carbone is a Michelin rated retro style New York Italian restaurant. If you watch the Netflix Aziz Anzari show, Master of None, it was featured in the second season. Aziz is a big pasta fan in real life, so we were sold!

 

The Decor: Big beautiful florals in vases. Pink tiger lilies. Bright blue walls. Tiled floor. This is a HAPPY place.

The Food:  The food is Italian-American, so think big platters meant for sharing. Meatballs. Pastas. Italian salads. That kind of stuff.

The meal begins with a basket of garlic bread, a plate of salami, and a warm fresh ball of gooey mozzarella that they cut with scissors right in front of you. We also ordered the caesar salad, which was the best I’ve ever had. Big garlic croutons with a creamy dressing, and lots of anchovies. (of which I could only eat one… thought I could handle more, but guess not).

We also couldn’t resist the penne al la vodka, lobster ravioli, and veal parmesan.

The Atmosphere: This restaurant is very old-school with waiters who are a bit bossy and brash. It’s the New York experience, really.

Our waiter rolled his eyes at me for looking at my cell phone when he was explaining the menu. (I couldn’t help it. I got a text from my brother, who NEVER texts me. Thought it might have been emergency.)

It’s also very noisy here. The tables for two are pushed together quite closely, so you hear everyone’s conversation around you, and see exactly what everyone else is eating too.

The people next to us, practically in our laps, were also celebrating their anniversary and we chatted with them few minutes, which was fun

Overall impression: This lunch was really enjoyable, and I feel fortunate that we got to eat here. A few groups got turned away as they moved out of the lunch hour, and supposedly it’s impossible to get a reservation here for dinner. While the food was certainly tasty, the whole experience of food + service didn’t quite measure up to Michelin-quality, in my opinion.

I don’t think I would go back there again on my next trip, but I’d recommend to others for a fun NY Italian meal.

Hamilton on Broadway

Okay, so I have to preface this part by saying that while I do enjoy musicals, I’m really picky about them.

I once fell asleep during the musical Camelot and slept through the entire intermission.

Anyway, believe the hype about Hamilton!

It’s really good! As in, your head can’t stop bopping the entire time.

You can’t wait to see what they’re going to do in the next scene.

Every song is better than the last.

This show is so creative. It’s educational. It appeals to a large audience.

And the songs have been stuck in my head for days.

Breakfast

So, after a late nightcap after the show at a rather lame speakeasy (it’s not awesome when the same waitress takes your same order and doesn’t remember)  my husband and I were looking forward to our breakfast ritual in NYC.

We always devour fresh bagels and then buy a dozen to bring back with us to DC.

Before you think that’s weird (because there are bagel shops in DC after all), when I lived in California, I once knew someone from Long Island who would bring BAGELS and NEW YORK style pizza back on the plane with her.

Anyway, a bagel is pretty much my idea of heaven.

I’m pretty sure if I have the opportunity to choose one of my last meals, it would probably be a New York Everything bagel with scallion cream cheese.

Until next time, New York!

 

 

Dinner at Sfoglina

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You know how you find a great new restaurant and you want to tell everybody?

That’s how I feel about my latest discovery! It’s called Sfoglina. I can’t rave about this place enough to neighbors, coworkers, anybody who will listen to me.

Each dish was soooo good, and I can’t wait to go back. Though there were only two of us, we went all out and ordered whatever sounded good to us. Here you’ll see all the highlights of the meal.

Some Prosecco to start the evening
Some Prosecco to start the evening

The Decor: Sfoglina is really cozy. There are booths and tables inside with burgundy and beige feminine touches. Inside there is also a lively bar with stools which were completely taken by the time we left. We opted to sit outside on the lovely patio because the weather was still nice this evening. IMG_1598

The best spicy calamariIMG_1599

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The Food: The menu at Sflogina is really simple, but that’s how it should be, right? Each section of the menu only has about 4 choices, so they can focus on the quality of the ingredients.

This restaurant is all about their homemade pastas, and the two we ordered were absolutely heavenly. Next time we visit, we’re going to order their pasta special which includes a sampling of three different ones. One fun highlight is that they always seem to have panna cotta on the menu for dessert, but it changes flavor frequently. Tonight, it was one of all my favorite Italian flavors, tiramisu.

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Fall pasta with fresh mushrooms
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Because one pasta just isn’t enough, there had to be pasta amatriciana too
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Short rib over parmesan polenta

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The Service: Our server was really lovely and attentive. On top of that, the manager visited our table several times to make sure all was well. We told them it was our anniversary, and at the end of the meal, they brought us a lemon dessert (not pictured) and two flutes of the most delicious dessert wine. panna-cotta

Reservations?  Sfoglina was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, which means it’s really delicious food at an affordable price. Because of this, the restaurant is likely to be packed! Yes, they take reservations and you should make them unless you plan on being there when they open at 5 pm for dinner. We got there around 5:30 pm, but by the time we left at 7:30, the entire restaurant was full.

 

Hello New Zealand!

I just got back from a two week trip to New Zealand!

Though I’m still so jet-lagged (NZ is 16 hours ahead), I’m still riding high from this trip.

Ya’ll, I’ve never seen such a concentration of natural beautiful landscapes in my life. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit films, you know what I’m talking about.

And in case you’re wondering, those rugged mountain landscapes, wild forests, and electric blue mountain lakes you’ve seen in pictures and movies are all REAL.

Here are some shots from gorgeous Waiheke Island, a quick 45 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

On this day, a wine tour called our names and we could’t have asked for a better day. Can you believe that ocean and greenery?

Incidentally, Waiheke island has its own special microclimate, so even though it’s early winter there, the temperatures stay mild year round. It was in the mid-60s and sunny while we were there.

The first stop on the wine tour was Casa Miro, where we tried so many delicious wines paired with special taste enhancers like a piece of cheese, a candied walnut, or olive spread on bread. Such a fun way to sample wines and I really wish more wineries did it this way. 

Tasting wine while gazing out at the ocean on the horizon. The vacation of my dreams…

This winery is a labor of love for the owner, a medical doctor by day, who grows grapes and runs this winery totally in his free time. He also has something of an obsession for Gaudi as you can see by his Guell Park inspired bar, which had us reminiscing about Barcelona.

We could’ve stayed here all day, but soon it was time for the second stop, Obsidian winery, a tiny place tucked away in the middle of nowhere on Waiheke.

It was here we got to chatting away with some friendly New Zealand ladies, who ended up giving us so many good “insider” recommendations for places to see and most importantly, restaurants to dine at. In fact, it was so fun and I got so into talking with them that I don’t even really remember the wines here.

When it was time to part ways, all four of the ladies gave me kisses on both cheeks ( I thought that was a French thing, but apparently, they do that in New Zealand too) I wasn’t expecting that, but I really do think it’s a nice custom.

The final stop was Te Motu Winery with its award winning restaurant, “The Shed”. This rustic winery was simple and beautiful and it was here that we stopped for lunch.

We feasted on lamb shoulder, sliced beef with mushrooms, roasted potatoes with tarragon aioli, bean and fennel salad, and a special dessert. 

This dessert was a “deconstructed” cheesecake made with kumara, which is the Maori word for pumpkin. It had a sort of autumn vibe to it, which struck me as odd in June, but then I remembered that the seasons are reversed here. In any case, I’ll be trying to recreate this at home.

All in all, the first day in New Zealand was spent gazing at the scenery, drinking wine, and enjoying these wineries. Perfect start to a fun trip.

And there’s so much more of it to share with you!

Busy Weeks and Fur Collar Coats

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Last week was a doozy of a week… long busy days and no time for anything. (I wasn’t even able to read any of your amazing blogs- I promise I’ll be getting to them soon!)

In fact, one night I dreamed I was on a train with my stuff spread out everywhere and I had to anxiously shove it all in my luggage before missing my stop. Can you relate?

My solution for these hectic times is to take a little time out with FOOD, of course.

On Friday, my husband and I  met up for a nice lunch in the city. We went to Central Michel Richard, one of my favorite restaurants in DC. (I’ll be showing pictures of this beautiful meal very soon).

Here’s my winter lunching in the city look.
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This Karen Millen wool coat has a detachable fur collar, which is great for mixing up different looks. In fact, if you buy a coat with a fur collar, make sure you can take it off to wear with different things.

The pants are from Theory, and they are great for just about everything from work to dressy occasions.  img_1862

Last week was COLD here in DC, but the weather has turned warm and we had an unseasonably warm weekend. I’m not complaining!

Actually, I’m so looking forward to showcasing more mild temperature clothing looks soon!

How do you deal with busy weeks?

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

These faux leather pants have been a great basic piece in my closet. In fact, they’ve been one of the best purchases I’ve made in the last few years. I bought mine at Nordstrom in 2015, but they are available at Bloomingdales here.

Black leather never seems to go out of style and it’s been fun browsing Pinterest for updated ideas about how to wear them. img_2020

This outfit was worn for my recent 24 course tasting menu dinner at Minibar DC.

Because the dinner was a rather avant-garde experience, the edginess of the pants just seemed right for the occasion. Apparently, my sense was right because another woman at the dinner wore an almost identical outfit. (Oops… but funny)

This red wool coat and Japanese purse completed my whole lady-like-meets-rocker-Valentine’s look. img_2013

How do you wear your leather or faux leather pants?

Black and White Holiday Outfit

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Merry Christmas everyone! By the time you’re all reading this, another Christmas day has come and gone.

I hope you all spent a peaceful and relaxing holiday 2016!

This year, I challenged myself NOT to buy any new holiday outfit. Instead, I resolved to come up with a festive look from clothing I already own. Personally, I love seeing other bloggers who wear the same pieces in versatile ways!

The result?

Borrowing from the layered dress-over-turtleneck trend this season, I wore this crepe slip dress (I’ve had for years!) over my favorite Ann Taylor tie neck blouse.

I was pleased with the outfit and happy to wear my favorite pieces in new ways. Best of all, no money was spent at all.

The funny thing is that I have so many favorites that just hang in my closet, never being worn. And all it takes is a little imagination, a little trial and error, and there you go, A NEW OUTFIT!

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I’m sure you have some great items in your closet that you can combine in new ways. I would love to hear your fashion inspiration!