Tag: usa

MEET ME AT THE MET

I’ve finally come to the last of my New York 2015 posts. It took me less than a year, yay! Haha! My standards have dropped, man. But it’s okay, I’m working on my backlog. Anyway! Today, I’ll be sharing with you “How I Met”, or specifically how my solo trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art was. Instead of doing a piece by piece commentary like what I did for MoMA, I’ll be sharing some tips/observations/insights for visiting the museum by doing a play-by-play account of what will happen if we, you and I, go to The Met together.
10 THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE GO TO THE MET TOGETHER:
1. Of course we’ll meet at the steps. We’ll be tempted to sit for a while ala Gossip Girl and channel our inner Blair and Serena, and maybe even take a bunch of pictures. But instead, I’ll drag us inside. You’ll think I’m being bossy but then I’ll remind you that there’s no admission hours for the steps but the museum closes at 5.30pm (9pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
2. We’d want to pay the recommended $25 admission for adults because it’s worth it and they need funds to keep the exhibitions running.. But then depending on how far after pay day it is, we may have to adjust accordingly and be a bit embarrassed when we say we’re only gonna pay so and so amount. Luckily, the cashier doesn’t judge. (Or do they? Hmm..)

3. We’d turn right and we’ll find ourselves at the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside Egypt. It would be pretty cool and we’d be amazed by how they moved crypts and tombs across oceans. We’ll be amazed by the accessories and how it’s so on trend right now, and we’ll walk around to see sphinxes and statues of Egyptian gods and deities until it starts to look alike.

4. We’ll enter a huge glass room that has sculptures and see artists sketching from benches. We’d admire the artists just as much as the sculptures and we’d promise ourselves to bring a pen and notebook next time and try it out too – even if we can’t draw. Hehe!

5. We’ll walk through the various wings and realize that this place is huuuge. We’d realize we need to have a game plan coz it’s impossible to see everything and appreciate everything equally given our limited amount of time and energy. (Tip: PRIORITIZE!)

6. At some point, we wouldn’t really be paying much attention to some rooms coz we’re rushing somewhere or we think we wouldn’t like it, only to find something really interesting inside. In my case, it was seeing Saint Ignatius and admiring the colorful religious plates.

7. We’d finish going through the various civilizations and we’d make our way to the second floor, and being someone who prefers paintings over artefact displays, I’d wish we swept the second floor before the first floor, when we had more energy. (Tip: RESEARCH!)

8. We’d go to the Modern Art section and I’d go gaga over the colors and shapes and figures. I’ll be trying to identify the artist based on their works and I’ll be reading every single description card and nodding my head, excited to be learning more. You’d either be wondering what’s so great about it or you’ll be going crazy with me. It’s good to be with someone with similar taste.. or you know, you can always do it alone like I did.

9. We’d walk around and visit special exhibits like China: Through the Looking Glass. We’d see a corridor blocked off coz they’re preparing for the Van Gogh exhibit happening less than a week away. We’d try to go to the Roof Garden but it doesn’t open til next week. We will again be reminded of the importance of research. Especially finding out schedules for special exhibitions and seasonal areas coz these aren’t permanent!

10. Lastly, we’d promise we’d go back because we feel that 1 day is not enough to cover the museum and that there’s still so much more to see and a bunch that we’d want to see again.

So there you have it.. The 10 things that will happen if we visit The Met together. Scroll down below for some visual reference.

I can’t stress this enough – that place was huuuge. I admit to being overwhelmed by it all that’s why even if they have an impressive() impressionists collection, I preferred my MoMA visit. I’ll be coming back though! Next time, I’ll research and prioritize; I’ll weave through the other collections and jump straight to modern art. But come to think of it, it’s also a good thing trying to see everything coz you’ll need that reference to figure out what you like and lease like. 

So, I guess that’s it for my last NYC2015 post. It means… time for round 3 in NYC? They say third time’s a charm.

FOODIE EXPERIENCE: A MICHELIN-STARRED LUNCH

My New York itinerary was very much fluid and tentative except for two musts that I have pre-booked waaay in advance – Wicked and a meal from a Michelin-starred restaurant. For a Michelin-virgin, this was a bit tricky because a) there’s so many options to choose from, b) I have my finances to consider, and c) I wanted it to be perfect – after all, it’s my first and most likely, my only for the time being. Let me share with you how I chose my first Michelin-starred restaurant, how much it cost me, and what the experience was like. Hopefully, if you’re a foodie like me, this makes you go “hmmm” and helps you plan your own Michelin encounter. It’s not as painful as it sounds, I promise!

If you’re on a budget, opt for lunch (or early supper). Fine dining restaurants usually offer set meals at comparably lower prices, so obviously, my third-world wallet’s first order of business was to find out which places offered lunch deals. A simple google search led me to this link and since it’s a bit outdated, I went to visit the individual websites of the restaurants listed there. I immediately felt an affinity towards Bouley and Jean-Georges (oui, oui!), so I dug deeper aka: read reviews and Trip Advisor comments. Ultimately though, it was the Zagat ranking that sealed the deal for Bouley. It was in the Top 2 spot, with Le Bernardin ahead of it with an extra point for service. They were both tied with 29/30 for food, whereas Jean Georges had a 28. Bouley comes out more reasonably priced too because you get 5 courses for USD55 as compared to two for USD49 at Jean Georges, three for USD39 at Jean Georges’s “casual sister” Nougatine, and three for USD80 at Le Bernardin. (Side edit: Please note that Bouley has 1 Michelin star, whereas Jean-Georges and Le Bernardin have 3). And guys, let’s not get started on dinner prices. I previously mentioned here that you can save tens of dollars when you avoid dinner, but I was wrong – you can save hundreds of dollars.

On the day of my reservation, I made my way to Duane Street excited for what’s to come. I was rather early so I walked around the area for a bit until it was time to step into the apple-scented waiting area of Bouley. I’m glad I arrived before the other patrons coz I was able to snap some pictures of the gorgeous dining room. But enough of that, let’s go straight to what you really wanted to see – the food. I’ll let the photos do the talking from this point. Don’t scroll with an empty stomach! 😛



I’m a bread person. No, I’m a carb person. Okayyy, I’m a food person in general. But the point is, I love bread. Bouley made the bread lover in me super happy. You will soon find out why…

Started off with a duo of amuse-bouche. It’s a “course” that’s supposed to set the mood of your meal. Impression I got? Luxe, decadent, and indulgent. The rest of the meal was exactly that.
Course #1: Hawaiian Hiramasa & Nantucket Blue Fin. Sure it’s sashimi like, but the sauce, my god, the sauce. You’d expect it to be heavy and ordinary but the Meyer lemon, fresh passion fruit, verbena mixture was a freakin symphony in my mouth. 

Le Chariot de Pain – aka: BREAD CART aka: BREAD HEAVEN. It took every ounce of my self-control to heed the internet’s warning not to get too excited because it will fill your tummy up. So instead of sampling all, I chose 2 and requested for thin slices. :_( 

Course #2: the famous Porcini Flan – Golden Princess crab, black truffle dashi. This was really worth the hype! You get truffle and chunks of the juiciest fresh tasting crab instead of crabsticks in this chawanmushi-reminiscent dish. 

Complimentary course: Organic Connecticut Quail Egg. This is probably the best tasting egg I’ve ever had! You know how Masterchef always tells its contestants to elevate food? David Bouley is like the king of elevated eggs! First the porcini flan and now this!? Wow! It was really light on the mouth, the texture was creamy and the flavors balanced. And the truffle! How can anyone say no to more truffle??
Course #3: Organic Long Island Duck. The duck was beautifully cooked. You know how sometimes duck tastes rubbery or somewhat slimy? This dish was nothing like that. It was moist and tender and went well with the wild rice and wheat berries. It’s also the best duck dish I’ve ever tasted.

Course #4: Chilled Coconut Soup – super refreshing!
Latte break

Course #5:  Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé. The perfect ending, it was rich and flavourful and honestly, at this point, I was already stuffed.

The semi-final treat was a carousel of petits fours. I only tasted one before finally giving up. Good thing they offered to wrap it for me or it would’ve been such a waste! And surprise, surprise, my final treat came on my way out in the form of two complimentary pound cakes.

I have to say that I really enjoyed my meal. The food was delicious, service was superb, and the restaurant was really pretty. And, yes, I dined by myself too! Although it would’ve been nice to enjoy the atmosphere with someone dear, I have no regrets going on my first Michelin-ranked restaurant alone. Instead of it being like “oh shit, what will people think of me?”, for me, it felt like “OMG the food is sooooo good!!!” and “awww yeaaahhh I’m awesome!” #selfconfidence hahaha

And for those people who are scared of eating alone but want to try it, let me be the first to tell you that nobody cares. The groups were all engrossed with each other – or if you’re in a delicious restaurant, THE FOOD – anyway. They are not watching you. In fact, if you’re set in a cozy corner with a full view of the entire dining room like I was, it’s you who gets to watch them. If you want to, and if you’re not too busy admiring your food, at least.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this post even a quarter of as much as I enjoyed my visit to Bouley. You don’t need to drop a fortune to experience dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Sure, for us normal people, it isn’t really peanuts. But if you’re a foodie and it’s a priority for you, with research and preparation, it is POSSIBLE to do so without starving yourself before and after your meal.

Bouley is located at 163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013, United States
To many, many more Michelin-starred experiences,

PS: Please note that the prices mentioned above does not include taxes and tip yet. Best to check their website and contacting them directly should you plan on visiting. 😉

WHERE TO EAT IN BROOKLYN

When Waris Dirie said that “Brooklyn’s good. Brooklyn’s funky. Brooklyn’s happening. I think she may as well have been talking about the food. After all, it would be a travesty to serve this hip neighborhood with unimaginative, lackluster food. Stereotypically known to be the home of creatives and various ethnic groups, this borough oozes with that vibrant Big Apple appeal. Unlike Manhattan, however, its atmosphere is more relaxed and laid-back, making it the perfect backdrop for after-work chow or Saturday brunch, that is, if you can get a table.

I’ve listed below four eateries I enjoyed and would recommend to you in a heartbeat. Give em a visit should you find yourself in Brooklyn. 🙂

1. Five Leaves

Located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Five Leaves is the brunch hot spot. I say this because of the massive queue that never seemed to shorten during the Saturday noon Trina and I went there. They take no reservations, so coming here on an empty stomach is pretty much a gamble. A gamble I was willing to take upon seeing their menu the night before and setting my eyes on the Moroccan Scramble. Five Leaves serves quintessential brunch staples like eggs, sandwiches, and pancakes but adds their own spin to it. The only downside is really the queue, but everything else was great. Oh and hey, we spotted someone who may or may not be James Franco dining there too!

Five Leaves is located at 18 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222, United States

2. Luke’s Lobster

Okay, fine, Luke’s Lobster is everywhere. But if you’re in the DUMBO area and looking to snack into something, this offers the perfect bite. Ordered the Taste of Maine to sample all their rolls (shrimp, crab, and lobster), and OMG it was sooo good! The crustaceans tasted really fresh, it was seasoned well, and the bread that cradled it was just right – light but with a hint of crisp. Just looking at the photos is making my mouth water! Best part? These are harvested from sustainable farms so you don’t have to feel guilty as you order seconds.

Luke’s Lobster is located at 11 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States

3. Roberta’s

Your first meal after a 24 hour flight is often the most looked forward to. Lucky for me, Ia lives across the best pizza place this side of Bushwick and she knew of its “secret” item – the Bee Sting. It’s a seasonal pie that isn’t on the menu but you should definitely ask for it or else miss out on the tomato, mozzarella, soppressata, and honey (!) goodness. Aside from the winning combination of toppings, Roberta’s crust is also really good – crisp with a nice chew to it. GREAT pizza served in a backyard garden that came straight out of Pinterest? Roberta’s it is.

Roberta’s is located at 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206, United States

4. Cafe Mogador

Ia and I were hoping to try something new in Williamsburg, but all bets were off when she mentioned this moroccan cafe she tried previously. Good thing she liked it and didn’t mind going back! Cafe Mogador serves freshly cooked authentic moroccan and mediterranean cuisine which reminded me a little of my favorite SG eatery, Artichoke. We had the Mixed Platter consisting of tabouli, eggplant & tahini, hummus, and arabic salad to start and the Lamb Tagines for the main. The lamb was so tender but we didn’t really get to touch it much because we were already so full from the mixed platter. Don’t let its looks fool you, it’s very filling! We almost missed out on it had our super cute waitress not rush to key in our order to secure the last portion of eggplant & tahini. She’s the best! The star of the night though, was the pot of moroccan tea. Not only was it served in the prettiest tea pot, it was, in Ia’s words – the best tea ever.  

Cafe Mogador is located at 133 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States

Hope you enjoyed this mini food tour of Brooklyn! Please feel free to share your experience in these places below! Like it? Don’t like it? Have Brooklyn favorites of your own? Drop a line below, I’d love to hear from you!

PS- Photo of the exterior of Five Leaves was taken from their FB page.


DESSERT AND COFFEE IN NEW YORK CITY

“Let’s have coffee or something!” is my go to phrase when trying to schedule catch up sessions or even meetings. I mean, how can anyone say no? The coffee and dessert combo is only bested by coffee, dessert and good company. That “company” need not be another person, sometimes it can be yourself or a book. 
During my recent trip to New York, I was able to visit some memorable cafes and have coffee or something. I’m listing it here in case you’re in the city and would like recommendations on where to go and with who. By no means am I an expert with all things New York (yet) but I personally enjoyed my time in these 4 spots and they were highly recommended by locals I trust (aka: my super hip relatives), Zagat, and You’ve Got Mail.  Let’s have coffee or something, shall we?

1. Caffe Reggio

Caffe Reggio is home to the “Original Cappuccino”. They pride themselves in being the first cafe to ever offer the foamy coffee drink to the American public. Being inside their West Village shop, it’s hard to doubt this claim especially with that gigantic, over a century old, espresso machine starring at you. Best to go here with old souls who appreciate classics. Italian renaissance paintings line the wall, you can sit on a bench that belonged to the Medici(!) family, and Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, actually lived in the building across. How cool is that?!
Caffe Reggio is located at 119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012, United States

2. Maison Kayser

Maison Kayser is everywhere! For good reason too, this authentic French artisanal boulangerie bakes and serves up yummy and not to mention pretty pastries all over New York (and the world). Both my aunts love it! On separate occasions, they brought me to the one in the Upper West and the one featured in this blog post, the Flatiron District. Best to go here with mentors, bosses, someone you look up to. The plates are no-nonsense yet sophisticated, pretty much like most people who have got “it” together. Moreover, it’s centrally located and highly accessible, perfect for those with busy schedules.

Maison Kayser is located at 921 Broadway, New York, NY 10010, United States

3. Maison du Macaron

After Maison Kayser, my aunt and I were walking to the subway station when we passed by La Maison du Macaron. I saw their 2013 Zagat Rating proudly posted on their door, and even if I just had cake, I thought why the heck not? I went inside and tried Salted Caramel, Vanilla, and Key Lime Pie. Best to go here with: a good book or your best confidante. The rich leather, plush velvet, and cozy interiors make the perfect backdrop for catching up with your favorite heroine or your best pal.

La Maison du Macaron is located at 132 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011, United States

4. Cafe Lalo

I felt really kilig upon arriving in Cafe Lalo. After all, this was where this You’ve Got Mail scene was filmed. Aaaah!♥︎ The space was more cramped in real life, but it’s okay as the cake display was crammed with mouth-watering goodness! I stood in front of the display for a good minute just admiring it. If only I could try everything! Best to go with a date. Preferably someone you’ve been with long enough so it doesn’t matter if you pick each other’s plates or stuff your face with Cafe Lalo’s delicious desserts. 

Cafe Lalo is located at 201 West 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024

I hope you enjoyed our coffee date! Let me know if you’ve tried these places and if you have suggestions of your own. Special shout out goes to my relatives Tita Livy, Tita Isa, Alvin and Mariel for bringing me to these gems of a cafe. 🙂

PS:
Photo of the exterior of Maison Kayser was taken from here.
Photo of Maison du Macaron’s macaron display was taken from here.
Photo of the interior of Maison du Macaron was taken from here.

COASTAL ITALIAN BRUNCH AT SANTINA

Nestled across the High Line’s Gansevoort entrance is Major Food Group’s latest baby, Santina. My knowledge in restaurateurs is pretty much limited to Joe Bastianich (thanks, Master Chef!), but my aunt was quick to fill the gaps. MFG is composed of NYC’s culinary cool kids Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick – the same folks behind the acclaimed Carbone and Parm, among others. Opening their doors only this year, Santina serves up a mean dose of Coastal Italian goodness that spills from the plate to the general atmosphere. The vibe was so sunny that it’s impossible to be in a bad mood – not that they give you reasons to, either. From the food to the service, everything was quite impressive.

We got there almost 2pm on a Sunday and we were lucky to be seated right away. Since it was our first time, we sought guidance from our server who was more than happy to give recommendations. This was something I greatly appreciated as waiters who are dumbfounded by questions about their menu is a huge pet peeve of mine. His cocktail recommendation, View From Positano, was such a hit! It’s the best cocktail I’ve ever had and that says a lot coz I normally don’t like gin, and this was a gin, black pepper, and strawberries concoction. But really, check my Insta, I could start a fan club for this pink mix. As for the food, we started with the Cecina, a chickpea pancake, with Avocado Trapanese. Winner combo! The refreshing avocado and cherry tomatoes complemented the chickpea’s earthiness. (Please be warned that “refreshing” is a word I may overuse in this post – it certainly was the case when I was eating and expressing my delight.) I had the Tortellini Sorrentina – ricotta stuffed pasta with marinara sauce – yum! It was perfectly seasoned and the marinara was, you guessed it, refreshing. My aunt, on the other hand, opted for the Whole Grilled Porgy (not to be confused with pork, haha) which was light, refreshing, and really good. Much like everything else we had.

I left Santina much like how I imagine I would enter Positano – with a spring in my step and looking forward to more.

Santina is located at 820 Washington St, New York, NY 10014, United States

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be seeing cherry blossoms anytime soon. I would looove to visit Japan one day but haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet. Enter the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and their super pretty Cherry Walk. As luck would have it, I was there when majority of the trees were in the first bloom stage aka: the flowers at their pinkest. Yay! 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, trying to catch the blossoms was nerve-wracking! A week before arriving, I was checking their website daily for updates, and around 5 trees have started blooming. Waaah! I’m really glad I caught the stunning display of this mixture of ‘Kanzan’ and other cultivars. More reasons to love New York, noh? 🙂

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located at 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225, United States