Nov 30, 2010

Sunset (Sunday, part iii)

One more quick post from Sunday. Of course you are only afforded some of the best views of Manhattan when you get out of it. Here is the last bit of light from the day.

I still cannot believe it is December tomorrow. I had a few rough edges in November, but overall, it was good to me. Here's to hoping December will top this past month! :)

Nov 29, 2010

Leaving the island (Sunday, part ii)

Seeing as how I've just about conquered all the Manhattan cafes in the coffee list on The Scoop app (whoops - perhaps I could have paced myself a little better), it was about time I dipped my toes beyond Blue Bottle in the Brooklyn list. It was a beautiful day (except too chilly) yesterday to walk across the Williamsburg bridge and wander around a neighborhood I'm completely unfamiliar with. Everything was terribly cute and charming, it made me squirm a little bit.

There were some cool spots with fantastic light on the bridge for portraits. :)

We headed to Bakeri which is tucked away on a pretty quiet street. Not that this usually stops me, but having had enough coffee to wake the dead already that day, I opted for some green roobois tea and a slice of pumpkin spice bread (not pictured here). JJ had the butternut squash and feta tart with orange spice tea. We found that our teas paired much better with the other's food dish. Ah well! This place killed me a little bit with its character and coziness. Everything is super mis-matchy, a bit rustic and Anthropologie-feeling. Old-fashioned trinkets line the walls and decorate the floors. Naturally, we didn't leave empty-handed after seeing the cookie selection. I must revisit for coffee and more baked goods - the selection is just too great.

Nov 28, 2010

Sunday's coffee

What better way to kickstart a gorgeous sunny day than to brew some El Salvador coffee siphon style and complement it with mom's homemade coffee biscotti?...

... And then wash down an amazing gooey egg sandwich with a cortado with perfect milk foam art?

On another note, I must say thank you for your feedback on the new style I was trying out in the last post. It clearly needs some work! I tried again here, just a little bit, but I think I'll have to fiddle with some different ideas before I settle down. I'll of course keep the whimsical text too when I think it's appropriate.

I had much fun in Williamsburg today and will definitely need to venture off this island more. Posts to come!

Nov 27, 2010

J'adore Adour

This post is less about the food than the two new things I'm trying out. One is pretty obvious - see the third picture in this layout. I was hoping to go for a more magazine-like feel (too much inspiration from all of the fantastic e-magazines circulating online right now). Whaddya think, thumbs up or thumbs down? I'd love to try more collage layout tinkering because it is just too easy to go with what I'm used to. At the same time, I don't want to fix what ain't broke. The other is that I shot the food pictures in RAW with hopes of achieving better white balance. I'm still not thrilled with my adjustments... how the hell does ulterior epicure do it?!

I remember wanting to go to Adour a few years ago and having a heart attack at the caviar prices (though the white truffles we had as a supplement this time were no joke either). We went here as a bit of a pre-Thanksgiving feast on Wednesday night. The dining room is spacious and elegant and the food is confidently French. Everything was wonderful except perhaps the portions could have been sized down more. Dessert for the first time that I can remember was a struggle! This was a pity because both were greatly complex and exciting dishes. We also took home a very pretty box of macarons and chocolate truffles. :)

Nov 25, 2010

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers! I am grateful to all of you for keeping me motivated to produce better content and update consistently. Hope your bellies are happily sated tonight. :)


Nov 24, 2010

Greenmarket, autumn edition

Getting out of work today early was a nice unexpected surprise. I wasn't sure what to do with myself but hey, I had my camera and it's been a while since I last shot at the Union Square Greenmarket. Also I was feeling particularly inspired by Jamie Beck's amazing post today. Her work kills me.

If you compare this post with the last one, the feel and colors are noticeably different. I wished the sun didn't get in my way so much though.

Ahh, I can't wait until spring flowers arrive at the Greenmarket. The current pickings are a bit meh for my liking.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! Feeling my waistband get tighter already...

Nov 23, 2010

Tilt-shift love

Can't help but reblog this photo from Cindy's stream that she took with her (well, rented) 45mm super awesome tilt-shift lens:

Cobblestone in SoHo + good looking friends + talented photographer + ridiculous lens - cannot possibly go wrong. Now to get my hands on a Canon TS-E...Santa? :)

*photo by Cindy Loughridge

Nov 22, 2010

Us crazy photographers

A band of slightly insane photographers united this past weekend and shot the hell out of each other. It all started Friday night at Cabrito...

Since I had to shuffle off to my next dinner that night, I didn't get to stick around for long, but it was great fun to meet Daniel Krieger (whose work I've admired on Eater!) and Jennifer Sosa (whose wedding work I love).

Early on Sunday, we reconvened in the West Village, and were later joined by a few more faces. I somehow managed the day in 4+ inch heels! We discovered a great alleyway near a fire station and made quite a bit of commotion there, when a fireman poked his head out the door and screamed angrily, "WHAT THE F- is going on out here?" We all sort of stopped dead and meekly explained we were just tourists taking photos, when the angry guy was like, "Yeahhh I'm just messing with y'all" and went back inside. Good times, good times. Two coffee shops and a tapas brunch later, we had to part and head back to reality.

Seriously so so great to hang out with all of you fun and amazing photographers! I feel so lucky to know all of you and to have been shot by you guys. I don't even care that this blog post took me ~4 hours to put together. Heheh, much love to all of you, and hope we can do it in the near future - SF trip, anyone? :)

P.S. Check out everyone's work:

Nov 21, 2010

Another multi-course night

As my backlog of photos grows, and half-finished posts build up, I still always end up wanting to show more recent content. And the cycle continues. Friday night involved a two-part dinner and two doses of great company. I started off in the West Village at Cabrito, meeting old and new photographer friends (hi Cindy, Seth, Bryan, Jennifer, and Daniel!), while trying very hard not to ruin my appetite for my next dinner at Cafe Boulud in the Upper East.

This was all around a great tasting - especially because it hit on so many of the dishes I was eyeing up in the a la carte menu and couldn't decide between. Since there were five of us, for most courses, we got three of one dish and two of another, which made for even greater tasting variety. The amuse consisted of a peekytoe crab salad, beausoleil oyster, and I think a slice of salmon. Next arrived a chicken terrine with black truffle and some sort of tuna and couscous dish. Then we all received the short rib dumplings (good thing, because I wouldn't want to share these!). After that came pumpkin tortellini and some potato pasta-y dish (not gnocchi, but memory fails me), both rich and hearty. We then got two fish dishes - a striped bass and a dorade. The last savory was a roasted quail and beef prepared a few ways. Finally, we were each presented with a different dessert. As I eyed the other ones greedily, we decided to each take a fifth or so, and pass the plate on. It turned out my dessert (a poached pear with some addicting crispier bits) was probably the winner of the night. The pumpkin cheesecake was, of course, wonderful too, but hell I'd probably eat rocks if you put pumpkin on it.

Cafe Boulud is definitely definitely worth revisiting in the near future. The service is also impeccable here and rivals that of four-star restaurants. We ate happily until nearly midnight. Not a bad Friday night if I do say so myself.

Nov 18, 2010

Stone barns, polaroid edition

I meant to post these a while ago (ugh I'm slacking pretty badly recently) - polaroids taken during the weekend trip to Stone Barns. I used a pack of the Edge Cut 600 film, which I bought when the Impossible Project was selling a limited batch. It was a bit chilly that day for ideal polaroid developing temperature so I tried to stick them under my armpits (heh) to get them out of the cold. Most of them came out all right, but as you can see, something weird happened in the last shot. I was pretty upset because I loved the way the light was shining through the trees and on that leaf, and by the time I realized the photo messed up I had moved far from that tree and might not have been able to set up the shot exactly again. You can still sort of tell that it would have been a cool shot. :P

The chickens were funny. They followed us around completely unfazed, and one of them undid JJ's shoelaces hah.

Nov 16, 2010

West and east

It is fast becoming too cold to comfortably eat outdoors now, but here are the remnants of warmer weather captured in these outdoor seating areas. I just can't seem to walk by setups like these without itching to get my finger on the shutter.

It should come as no surprise that these were all seen in the West Village.

Of course, the East Village is great too, so densely packed with all sorts of great food (especially of the late-night-drunken variety), cafes, and boutiques. And scenes/streets like this one:

I feel like it doesn't get much more quintessentially autumn in New York than something like this.

Nov 15, 2010

Hearth, Terroir, and an odd request

These dinners took place on November 3rd and October 25th respectively. Whoops, major slacking on my end. Hearth and Terroir are two solid places that I have enjoyed immensely in previous visits too, but Terroir especially holds a little special place in my heart for a reason maybe a tiny handful of my readers know about. :)

With the return of the tasting menu at Hearth, we were eager to revisit. I don't have pictures from my first visit in September, but what I particularly remember is a salad that I would happily eat plates and plates of every day- not really something you can say of most salads. The salad this time was also really well put together and I ate through it and the bread (which is addictive) heartily. I remember a lot of nuts (pistachios and hazelnuts) in this meal, which was great. I think I only wished that the portions were a tad smaller; by the time we got to the seriously good savory dishes, I was leaving food behind on the plate (blasphemous, I know). The dessert was a sort of apple donut and it just about knocked my socks and boots off. I don't get that excited about many restaurant dessert offerings anymore, and I can say this was one of the best I've had in a while. This put Doughnut Plant donuts to shame.

We didn't get a chance to sit at the chef's counter so I guess another visit is in order? A fate worse than death! </sarcasm>

Backtracking some more, I had posted a while ago about this fantastic drink (the Pembrokeshire) I had at Terroir's brunch. Somehow it made its way out there on the twitterverse and @terroirNY jokingly suggested I bring a growler in and fill it up with said drink. How could I pass up such a proposition? So, a growler I got. This required a little shamelessness but in the end, all was well. Thanks, Nicole and Steven!

Mm this is how bar food should be. I distinctly remember having eaten dinner #1 before coming here but I could not resist any of these dishes. As per the menu instructions, we put our "ass in the seat" and let them feed us. Never a disappointment here.

Hearth | 403 East 12th Street
Terroir Tribeca | 24 Harrison Street

Nov 14, 2010

A lunch tote and old books

When a friend alerted me to the new seasonal macaron flavors at Bouchon bakery, I knew I had a rightful excuse to head back up there (as if the bakery items weren't good enough reason themselves! :P). At the time, I was still working hard on my box of Ladurée macarons, so this visit got pushed back a bit. I also just love the lunch options there, and they have this cute little "lunch tote" (more of a cardboard box) option that gives you two sandwiches, two macarons, two bags of chips, and two Gus sodas - perfect for unpacking on the steps at Columbus Circle.

Damn, the pumpkin macaron is ridiculous. The filling tastes like pumpkin pie, pretty much. I also am a sucker for all things gourds and have been on a massive pumpkin kick recently...soup, muffins, mmm.

Sunday included an impromptu visit to the Morgan Library & Museum, which recently underwent renovations. I got reprimanded for taking pictures indoors unfortunately; it's really a shame because the rooms there were so majestic and his library almost too perfect. I especially enjoyed the photography exhibit on the second floor. There's also a neat Mark Twain exhibit with many great portraits of him sitting in a rocker, cigar in hand. Perhaps a lesser known museum in the city but definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

Ahh, I need to get chugging on a backlog of restaurant visits...much food porn to come.

Nov 11, 2010

Bits of my room

More often than not, my room is super cluttered and not exactly a haven for inspiration. What I do have though is great light during the day and a flurry of fresh flowers in charming metal buckets. Nothing to complain about there! I especially love the golden color of these guys in the tall bucket. (Anyone know what they are called? They look almost like a mix between dahlias and mums and gerberas.)

Things of note on my bookshelf/organizer: Ilford HP5 120 film that I have sadly still not gotten around to using, raspberry print from my dear photographer friend Brandon, and way more makeup than I actually need!

Nov 10, 2010

What you don't see

A warning that this collage contains an unnecessarily generous amount of pictures of yours truly, but I thought it'd be fun to show some "behind the scenes" from the Stone Barns Center trip. These are pretty tame actually - no teetering on chairs, hanging off trees, laying on the ground (hey, there was a lot of farm animal poop) or anything like that. Still, this was pretty much the making of the post down there (yeah, that one). At such a photogenic location like this one, it's hard not to have my finger on the shutter and face buried in my camera the entire time. It didn't stop me from enjoying the charm and beauty of it though. In fact, I sometimes think being so camera focused helps me appreciate the place even more, and I can't imagine experiencing it any other way. It's probably frustrating for my photography uninclined friends though, and I really appreciate when they can understand my bolting from place to place or else lingering around one spot for too long.

I just find some of these shots amusing, heh heh.

Thanks to JJ for these pictures. :)

Nov 9, 2010

All things beautiful

I'm currently in love with this new magazine. It is packed with pages of blissful inspiration. Sometimes these things almost hurt to look through, because I curse myself for not being out there creating more and pursuing more opportunities. I've grown increasingly frustrated with myself these past few weeks for not doing more, but I need to remind myself that this kind of stuff that I do do (like blogging) should, first and foremost, be something I enjoy for myself and a DE-stresser from the daily grind. I hate to sound all down, because I'm not! Whining never got anyone anywhere, and I know nobody is stopping me from doing more but myself.

Anyway, on a happier note, I'm looking forward to devouring the rest of this magazine over the next few nights.

Nov 8, 2010

You had me at "farmer's feast"

So the real reason we made the little trip upstate was for Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a unique restaurant very much dedicated to sustainability and fresh ingredients. Since Saturday reservations are near impossible, we headed up without one and decided to get there as soon as it opened to claim bar seats. We were told the full menu was served there and it seemed like a great idea since I actually really enjoy eating at bars anyway. Just a minute before 5pm, the doors opened and we tentatively stepped inside (literally the first guests there) and successfully secured ourselves some seats at the bar. (Note, the bar filled up within 15 minutes.)

Here, the tasting menu is known as a "farmer's feast." And a feast it is. It is also incredibly accommodating and tailorable. I overheard many odd requests (e.g., one girl asked for a vegan tasting, another didn't eat beets or peppers); we said we'd eat whatever they put in front of us. Seems like the only proper way to do these, no?

I loved the rounds of canapes (new EMP style) which included fennel soup, crudités, beet burgers, salsify, kale & potato chips, and charcuterie (the picture is missing two slices - oops).

Perhaps the main food highlight was actually a plate of shiitake mushrooms with very thin slices of seckel pear. It sounds underwhelming almost, but what an incredible combination it was. There was also a plain piece of grilled onion served with four different spreads. The breaded egg with chicken hearts was great, too. I had my very first smoked lobster which was served with a "Manhattan" style chowder and first goat (from the farm). A slab of berkshire pork was lovely as well.

Also, I must emphasize how amazing the bread is. First of all, it is piping hot. The crust is super crispy and the innards are fluffy and perfectly chewy. And naturally, dessert was polished off with no problems.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a beautiful place overall. Well worth a revisit in the springtime. :)

Nov 7, 2010


A short weekend trip to the beautiful Stone Barns Center was a nice getaway from the pace of NYC and its routines. I had been looking forward to heading to the countryside while the leaves were still turning and this weekend was a great time to go. So what drew us to Stone Barns? Well, I'll get to the main motivation in a part ii of this post, but the grounds of the center were worth seeing just for their own sake. It was really only a hop, skip and a jump away from Grand Central Terminal, but we decided to make an overnight trip of it and enjoy a brief respite from the city in the quiet of the country.

Polaroids and part ii to come soon.

Nov 4, 2010

More golden hues

Last weekend, I headed to Penn for a tiny bit of time (it felt like a sprint!) and more time was definitely spent on the road than in Philly, but it was well worth it. It's amazing how different the campus looks to me when I'm purposefully seeing it through the frame of a camera. It was just a shame that I didn't have time to take in more sights, because the campus is seriously some kind of beautiful this time of year.

It really just glows.

Golden hues

The sad part about living in a city during autumn is the lack of fall foliage. I remember going to Bear Mountain with my family for quite a few years in a row when I was much younger to catch the best of the fall colors. Everything feels crisp and wonderful. I'll do what I can here with Central Park I suppose! Come to think of it, I should have made another trip to the Cloisters/Fort Tryon. Silly me.

Nov 2, 2010

Seeing red (chili, that is)

Yes, you're getting two posts in one night! I had heard much about Sripraphai (see-PRA-pie, if you will), an authentic Thai restaurant in Woodside, Queens, and tonight I mustered up some coworkers to join me in the trek out of Manhattan. Now, I don't venture off this island very much at all, so there must be something extraordinary to lure me away.

After a pretty quick ride on the 7, we arrived at the restaurant thanks to the help of our Sripraphai veteran (hi, Lauren!). The menu is ridiculously extensive, and I just do not deal very well when given too many choices. Eventually, we ordered vegetable curry puffs, fried pork and crabmeat rolls, a duck salad, and fried vegetable dumplings to start. I loved the curry puffs, especially the extra crispy parts of pastry puff. All the food was brought out really quickly, and soon our table was populated with my roasted duck in curry sauce, vegetable drunken noodles, some sea trout curry dish, and crispy pork belly. I had read that the "spicy" level of spicy makes you want to cry and die a bit, so I went with the "medium," which by many other standards would be considered "very spicy." I mean, just look at all this red! (I note that the spice didn't overwhelm the actual nicely balanced flavors of the dish.)

No doubt, I would make the pilgrimage out here again.

Sripraphai | 64-13 39th Avenue, Woodside, NY

"Be nice or go home"

A few weekends ago, I wandered to the Ninth Street Espresso in Alphabet City as it had been on my list for quite some time. The inside wasn't nearly as photogenic as I had hoped, so I creeped on this flat-capped fellow and on this group sitting outside instead. As for the cappuccino, it's hard/impossible to seriously distinguish between all these fantastic and well-made espresso drinks at the growing list of fine cafes I've now been to, especially if I'm not tasting them side by side. I mean, what can I really tell you about it? It's certainly as good as all the others, but I'm not sure when or if I'll be able say one cappuccino is better than the next, not at this level of cafe anyway.

Oh yes, and the house rules are posted as such:

-No cell phones at the counter.
-No pets allowed in the shop.
-Restroom for customers only.
-Please order from the menu.
-Wifi is free, the seat is not.
-One seat per customer.
-Cash Only.
-Be nice or go home.

Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free do-- (oops I can't make out what it says here, but I'm assuming "dog"? Hehehe.)

Ninth Street Espresso | 700 E 9th Street (Multiple locations)

Nov 1, 2010

Tea and omakase

It's hard to believe it's November already. That, and the fact that it was 37 degrees this morning. Yeech. I always like to think I'm a winter person until it actually becomes winter. Anyway, I wanted to share a piece of last Saturday evening which was spent at a tearoom we stumbled upon in the East Village and then gorging on way too much sushi a few doors down at Jewel Bako.

This tearoom definitely has a lot of character and charm. It's a great place to linger. I think we tried a toasted green vanilla tea which was smooth and wonderful. I felt a little bit like I was attending the Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. :)

So this behemoth collage below is an idea of the sushi omakase at Jewel Bako (not even the most intense option on the menu!). After spoiling my sushi palate from the likes of Sushi Yasuda, Sushi Azabu and Kanoyama, I was quite happy with the sushi here. I've usually only had my iPhone as camera during these tastings since there isn't much variety plating wise, but decided to go all out capturing this one. I count 17 pieces...oof. Not something you can stomach every day, that's for sure.

Sitting at the bar is always the way to go at these places.

Podunk | 231 E 5th Street
Jewel Bako | 239 E 5th Street