Reminiscing Italian at Eataly

And the second post of 2014 is a long time coming. ^^;; Sorry about that. It’s been busy here.

But, I’ve been wanting to share a few good meals I’ve had and that includes this really old one at Eataly.

I’ve been to Eataly a couple times now for meals and it’s surprisingly been excellent every single time I’ve gone. And it’s been good regardless what I order.

My most recent visit was back in December. When I went then, it was a weekday night and a spontaneous date dinner with Ray. This meant we couldn’t get a table at Manzo, Il Pesce, or any of the places with protein, leaving only Le Verdure.

Which wasn’t at all bad if you ordered the Uova al Purgatorio, which was a baked egg with parmigiano
And very delicious. Although, it was piping hot when it came out and I think I burned my tongue from trying to eat it too soon.

Then there was the Zucca al Forno, which were kind of like butternut squash latkes with toasted pine nuts on the side.
No tongue burning for these, just delicious-ness.

And of course, don’t forget to get a main course. Your full stomach will thank you later for it.
Meet Gnocchi alla Romana. These pillowy medallions of cheese and dough were so delicious that my mouth still dreams of them. The gnocchi was perfect. It had this pleasant potato/dough-y taste to it that left this light potato chip aftertaste in your mouth. It was pretty much perfect. The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the broccoli rabeon the top. It was just a tad too bitter.

There was also the polenta with parsnips, garlic, parmigiano, and butter
If I had to learn how to make polenta, I would make this one. It was not that in-your-face-umami; Rather, the flavor was more subtle, but just as good as the gnocchi.

In other news, I’ve been trying to decorate my apartment
Decorating ideas/beautiful drawings are stolen from my friend Weiling, who is also getting married this year. (And I’m having a ton of fun *ahem*helping*ahem* her with her wedding planning. (More like indulging in wedding porn.)

More soon!


The magic of the Holiday Train Show and 2013 in review

Wow, Christmas and the New Year’s came by fast!

I’m currently still in Chicago just chilling and relaxing with some of my favorite people. Being back in my old home city has made me realize how much I miss having that broader support network so close to home.

For some reason this year didn’t feel as festive as previous years. It might have to do with the fact that there was no mulled apple cider or wine this year. (Back in my Chicago apartment Miranda and I did really festive baking things that helped with the Holiday spirit.)

But, this year I got to go see the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens.

This post just includes a few of my favorites, but you can see more here

Since it was a train show, it had a bunch of miniature trains.

And some famous buildings.

It’s a real eye pleasure if you’re into miniatures, trains, or Alice-in-Wonderland-esque vibes.

One of my favorite places in  Manhattan.

The Guggenheim museum

Old Penn Station

It still looks quite majestic even as a miniature.

The attention to detail in these miniatures was delightful.

I just loved how every thing about these miniatures was done so purposefully.

They even had bridge replicas

I’m so glad 2014 is finally here. Out with the old 2013 and in with the new 2014. Like I said in my last post, 2013 was an amazing and weird year. When I look back on it I feel very ambivalent. I wouldn’t call it my worst year, but if I were to measure it by length of time of different events that happened, it was pretty terrible and difficult year interspersed by a few high points, which were more or less my travels to Europe, my new job, and my move to NYC. At the same time, I recognized that I grew a lot this year and I hope 2014 brings new and exciting things for me.

Short post: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m back in Indiana celebrating the holidays with my family. This has meant a lot of hotpot and cards with the family. It’s also been the perfect time to go on a tv-watching binge. (I just finished watching “What Maisie Knew” and “Frances Ha”, which are both excellent movies to watch alone.)

All that said and done, it’s been a weird and amazing year.

(^My stock photo galore)

Crazy things happened earlier in the year, and I know it was a dramatic year for more than one of my friends.

Shortly thereafter and in between trips to Milan and Munich, I decided that I needed a change, and got a new job and moved to New York.

Here I am today, opening presents and plotting my plans for 2014. (Yes, plotting.)

(I got a new lens, so expect to see better photos.)

So yes, 2013 was a crazy year and thank you to all my friends and family out there for all your support.

Until next time!

Hello again weekend brunches, I missed you

Manhattan is an expensive city to live in. Of course there are plenty of ways you can save money, (via living like an extreme cheapskate) but why would you want to do that when there are so many delicious and fine eats in the city?

While the past 2 1/2 months have mostly been me settling in, I have had some very delicious eats, especially for brunch.

A couple of my favorite brunches have been 1. Maison Kayser and 2. Chicken and Waffles at Maharlika.

The last time I went to Maison Kayser was about a year ago on the UES. UES is a bit of a hassle to get to from Columbia, but fortunately there is a now a Maison Kayer in Columbus Circle serving delicious things, like this iced mocha latte

And some baked goods.
You can’t go to these types of places without sampling some of their viennoiserie. Personally, I liked the chocolate croissant (top) more than the chocolate brioche (bottom). The chocolate brioche was more like a chocolate brownie, so will probably skip next time (unless I’m craving a brownie).

And we can’t forget to eat our savory things.
The smoked salmon and asparagus cocottes are excellent.

Maharlika was a new place for me. It’s Filipino food with an American spin. I ordered the chicken and waffles.

Batter-less chicken with taro waffle. I liked the fact that the chicken is crispy but not to the point that crumbs are getting everywhere. (Being batter-less helps, I suppose.) I also thought the taro waffle had just the right amount of fluffiness and sweetness.

Trying to update more regularly again, so hope to post again soon.

Not quite a New Yorker and the holidays

Its hard to say what it is about New York that makes you both love it, and want to GTFO of it ASAP. Since moving to New York, I’ve definitely lost a lot of motivation to do a bunch of things, like study for my GRE retake, blogging, working out, etc. I can’t quite put my finger one what it is. It might be my new commute, which is 20 minutes longer than my old commute makes me feel like doing anything after the work day is too-much-effort, or it might be the fact that New York is so fast, I constantly feel like I’m running to-and-fro all over the place. Whatever the reason, I suppose it doesn’t excuse me of the lack of posts. I’m sorry!

I do have a few things to share, like the lights.
In New York, they’re gorgeous. (Yes, I’ve become a regular at Shake Shack now.)

They make it feel like the holidays.
Especially right when it gets dark around 4:30 now, the lights at least warm up your heart a bit.

In terms of food news, I haven’t gone out too much. Just haven’t had the time/motivation to go anywhere fancy, but I have managed to sample some local things.

There’s Jin Ramen up around 125th
The ramen definitely ties with Toto for best ramen I’ve eaten (which isn’t too many, but I imagine it’ll change now that I’m in NYC). The pork cha siu wasn’t as fatty or thick as the ones at Toto, but dare I say the broth was better?

And there’s also Il Solare, this little Italian place next to a neighborhood favorite, Crepes on Columbus.
The pizza’s pretty good. Can’t quite say the same about the about the pasta we had there. It was just kind of bland.

In other old news, I also made a turkey this past Thanksgiving this year. The key, it turns out, is all in the brine.
Obligatory turkey up-skirt shot.

Annual fall apple picking: gorgeous views and apple pie

Sorry for the radio silence, changing jobs is a bit hectic, especially if there’s no transitional period! I’ve already started the new job in New York (in my third week — my, how time flies!), but don’t have a place to call my own yet. The new job is pretty nice, really no complaints about it! Leaving behind Chicago and all my good friends there is a little difficult, but I look forward to opportunities to make new ones and to keep in touch with old ones.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any fun stories to post about in New York, but last month I did go on my annual apple picking visit. This time we went to this orchard in Indiana called “County Line Orchard“.
Personally, I like the one I went to last years more. This orchard was a lot bigger, which meant there were more apples to pick, but I think I like smaller farms. They feel more intimate.

Regardless of my preference, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to my trip next year.
The paths were littered with tons of rotting and fermenting apples that made it smell like apple cider vinegar as you walked through the trees. To me, it’s a pleasant and nostalgic smell of the summer turning into fall.

And for some reason, seeing all the huge boughs of apples made me really happy.
Apple Picking Fall 2013
Apple Picking Fall 2013
Oh the nostalgia I’ll feel for not being in Chicago any more. I definitely feel like I’ve left something behind, but that’s what growing up is all about right?

There were other things at this orchard, including sunflower fields and pumpkin patches.

The sunflowers were gorgeous on that day.
Sunflower Fall 2013
We saw some fallen sunflowers littering the ground with tons of seeds spilling out. The hoarder/kid in me wanted to stop there, sit down and collect all of the fallen ones.

We also got a pumpkin.
But I never got a chance to cook it. :’c

And of course, we also made pie this year.
Gorgeous delicious apple pie.

As I Get Older: reflections of summer past

It’s already the end of September!
2013-06-29 14.47.25
This is the first year that I’ve been a little bit sad to see the summer go. :c

Previously, I’ve always looked forward to the fall when all my favorite spiced things come into season and to new semesters at school, or starting a new job. Now that I’m working, it seems like things move a bit too fast, and I’m having a hard time keeping up and squeezing in all the things I want to do.
Some days I just want to play with these two and sit in my room enjoying the quiet.

But there other times where I’m thankful for the company of friends, especially eating with friends.

I loved my summer dinners of grilled cheese and tomato soup.
2013-07-02 19.38.47

and the pizzas
Arugula prosciutto pizza @ Balena.

and the fresh Merluza from Avec…
which, had fresh grape tomatoes in it. I’m going to miss tomato season.

But, most of all I loved my year in Chicago, which I will miss sorely… since I’m moving to NYC!

Cronuts round 2: Return of the homemade cronut

A few of you will remember my cronut attempt a while back. Well, I tried again. This time I do believe they were closer.

One of my friends had the cronut earlier this summer, and was crazy about it. So we tried making a homemade version (round 2 for me). We found a recipe that was actually based off the original. The trick seemed to be making the cronut holes larger.

Like last time you want to make your dough like croissant dough. However, instead of rolling it into the shape of a doughnut, you want to cut it out.
And once you’re done rolling it out, just drop it into the hot frying oil. You should probably test the oil out to make sure it’s hot enough. (You can do this by dropping in a small scrap of raw dough, and if it cooks immediately, your oil is hot enough.) (As you’ll have probably noticed, my cooking methodology is not very precise.) Again, the trick to cooking it evenly is making the doughnut hole large enough. The hole size helps with heat convection and deep frying the doughnut thoroughly. We found that the bigger the hole, the better the cronut cooked. Of course, don’t over do it. Let the cronut cook until the dough is golden brown.

And voila! You sort of have cronuts.

Morning after brunches at Empellon Cocina

So after consecutive posts about my travels, I’ve more or less returned to my regular schedule of food related posts, for now. This is a pretty short post about one of my favorite places to eat in NYC, Empellon Cocina!
When I was in New York in August, I went back to one of my favorite casual dining spots, Empellon. I’ve only been to Cocina for lunch/brunch, but it really doesn’t disappoint. In addition, they keep a pretty cool blog on tumblr

If you go, start with some guac. There’s relish added to give it more pucker.
It goes pretty well with the Masa chips (not pictured).

Cochinita Pibil Hash was also pretty good.
The pickled red onions are quite good. They’ve got this nice sweet and sour to them that cuts through the heaviness of the hash.

We also got the Sweetbread Milanese.
For whatever reason, this reminded me of a filet O fish, without the fish. Maybe it was just the deep-fried crust? The sweetbreads felt a little bit overcooked as the texture ended up being a bit grainy. It was interesting to try, but not sure I liked it enough to order again.

Birthday celebration at Mihoko’s 21 Grams

It was Ray’s birthday last month, so to celebrate we went out to eat.

I guess it has been a while since we’ve gone somewhere nice, but Mihoko’s 21 Grams ended up being the place.
We even got dressed up for it. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been to a fancy place in a little while and committed a few faux pas here and there. Dressing up also didn’t preclude me from being a complete klutz (or sitting in the wrong chair, ~oh well).

We got the four course, but it came with some nice amuse bouches, like this lovely chicken veloute.
It was absolutely delicious, rich and creamy. During the excitement of drinking my chicken veloute out of the egg, I managed to fumble the egg all over my side of the table and spill veloute down the table cloth and onto my dress. It was kind of a sad way to start off the meal. Fortunately, the rest of the meal went okay.

I didn’t spill any more amuse bouches…
I can’t remember what the first one on the left was called. The second was a cheese ball which was kind of like an arancini, which could be dipped in the cucumber yogurt mix on the right.

and a side of baguette and brown butter…
I didn’t know what brown butter was until this meal. It has this nice nutty flavor, but does taste less rich than normal butter.

I had the sashimi to start…
I thought the plating was lovely.

Ray got the Alaskan King Crab Millefeuille. There was some sort of sweet paste layered in that I thought was a nice addition. It kind of tasted and looked like red bean paste to me.
It came with a baby crab too!

Shrimp Uni Avocado.. It was surprisingly good!
I’m not sure why, but when i ordered it I really wasn’t expecting much. I just wanted to try their uni. Instead, I found myself savoring every bite. (You can see on the table cloth where I spilled veloute.)

The Wagyu Tartare was decent.
However, it kind of felt lacking in some aspect.

I got the lobster pearl
It was only okay. I think I would have preferred Ray’s rack of lamb.

I personally really enjoyed the lamb. The candied walnuts and the cherry tomatoes were a nice touch.
I think Ray said it was too overwhelming to eat the entire thing, but this is after 2 other reasonably sized courses and some amuse bouches. I guess i was wasn’t hungry by the time the main course came.

But of course, there is always room for dessert. (The plating for these were gorgeous.)