Aug 31, 2010

When there's a half-hour wait on a Monday morning...

It better be damn good.

Are you drooling yet?

The sugar-cured bacon blew my mind. I'm actually not really a huge fan of bacon (don't judge!) but I could probably eat a plate of this stuff. I don't know what else I can really say about the blueberry pancakes that hasn't been raved about by others already. Although most people probably think the warm maple butter was the shining glory of the plate, I actually preferred good old regular maple syrup. As much as I love sugar and butter, I don't like when a butter flavor is so detectable. The savory dishes that other diners were ordering looked promising too.

Sigh, I already want to go back.

Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant | 4 Clinton St.

Aug 30, 2010

Are we still in Manhattan?

After hearing many good things about The Cloisters, I ventured out there this weekend, and I mean way out there. Stepping out of the subway, you definitely do not feel like you are in Manhattan anymore. I would love to revisit this area when the leaves turn. Really quite a beautiful and enchanting place.

The light was so pretty in many spots, weaving through nooks and columns. I creeped on this couple in the last shot, hah.

And of course, the 'roids.

Aug 29, 2010

East Village eats

Have recently slacked in food postings! Here's a quick afternoon in the East Village.

I haven't had Neapolitan-style pizza since I went to Kesté in the West Village a few months back. Great gobs of cheese and incredibly fresh tomatoes. Yum.

The soft-serve sampler allows you to try the cereal milk, creamed corn, purple drink, and bbq sauce flavors. I must say, while the texture is great, I can really only stomach the tame cereal milk flavor. I mean, really, bbq sauce flavored ice cream?? No, thank you.

Motorino | 349 East 12th Street
Momofuku Milk Bar | 207 2nd Ave

Aug 27, 2010

When I dip you dip we dip...

I wasn't the official photographer for the wedding last weekend, but thought I'd share a fun shot from the first dance. I felt like I could have gotten better shots, but after being somewhat harshly reprimanded by the official photog earlier in the day, I kept my distance :P. C'est dommage.

Totally inappropriate title from a Freak Nasty song, but I couldn't resist haha.

Aug 26, 2010

Not just for taking notes on

Love this decorating idea from Club Monaco! Very easily replicable too. Of course, I'm also a sucker for the monochromatic palette with pops of yellow. Spotted in the Flatiron store location.

Ahh, in other news, so many odd coincidences recently. Gotta love this city.

Aug 25, 2010

Suspendered and flatcapped baristas

That's what you'll get at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the Flatiron neighborhood. Yes, yes they're on the list. Of course. I came here at an odd afternoon hour and still waited a good 15 minutes in line. It's connected to the Ace Hotel so you can sit and sip in a dark, cozy lobby area, or stand by the counter with giant windows flooded with light. I think it's pretty obvious which one I chose. As I stood there with my cappuccino taking pictures first with my Minolta, then my point and shoot, then my iPhone, I felt a bit insane, especially as you should enjoy the froth before it dies.

A very photogenic space. Well-crafted drinks. Tempting pastry case. Simple, no-frills menu. Eye-catching props. Well done, Stumptown. I'm also smitten with your baristas' garb. Sigh. :)

Aug 24, 2010

And for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea

I think it's more than crystal clear I am big on coffee and well-made espresso drinks, but I love the other half of caffeinated hot drinks almost just as much. Tea is as comforting as it is invigorating. I will have 5-6 cups of tea a day but I can't do the same with coffee. My top picks are jasmine (almost always go with this after a giant dinner), genmaicha (for pretty much any time of the day after morning), and earl grey (I especially like this with my sweets), but I enjoy some mint or roobois every now and then. I am, however, convinced everything tastes good when you drink it from a delicate little double-walled glass tea cup like this one.

Pinkies up, everyone!

Aug 23, 2010

The little things

Details from Saturday's wedding. Definitely my comfort zone.

Lots of nerves/anxiety running through me right now, and I've just got to remember to keep things in perspective and breathe.

Aug 20, 2010

The little pink blouse that could

Do you ever keep an item of clothing simply because it is photogenic? That's how I feel about this thrifted sheer pink blouse I've kept around but rarely ever wear. It all began with this shot and then this. Oh yeah, made an appearance here (worn solely for the purposes of the shot). And in a weird meta way, again over here. Ok, did not intend this post to be a shameless link self-promotion! It's a little too frilly and pink for my clothing tastes (I'd live in grey, black, navy and white if I could), but I won't be getting rid of it anytime soon. It just begged to be photographed with my Polaroid. ;)

Sadly, one pack from my last film purchase on eBay was completely ruined and unusable. I suppose that's the kind of chance you need to be willing to take. This pack (Polaroid 779 film expired in 2005) looked to be stored improperly as well, but it's kind of fun that you won't know what to expect with each pack.

I'll leave this post appropriately with this romantic image from the portfolio of Adam Bartos. Love the mood evoked here.

Happy weekend! I'll be off to a wedding in PA. I'm excited to finally attend one as a guest (though I have a feeling my hands won't be idle...).

Aug 19, 2010

Glow and fade

Where else but the Guggenheim Museum? Wanted to visit this place for a long time, largely for the architecture of the museum itself. I just love how the people look against the glow of the museum walls.

Aug 18, 2010

Lured by the promise of bread and macarons

I found myself at Bouchon Bakery again. Mr. B and I had lunch here (one of the best lunches I've had in a while), and I happily took home a Lemon Cassis macaron and an Epi Baguette which is good enough to be eaten naked. (No butter, that is.)

I was torn over what to get, but settled on a classic tomato soup with grilled cheese. Mr. B had the Quiche Lorraine, and we split these profiteroles. Choux pastry? Vanilla ice cream? Chocolate sauce? Can you even go wrong with any combination of these? Nah.

Scenes from the LES

Just a few eye-catching (so I thought) snapshots from the Lower East Side. I always find myself in this neighborhood, because it is abound with cute boutiques and restaurants. Some interesting personalities too, as evidenced by these pictures.

Aug 17, 2010

Variations on a theme

Happiness is finding a charming patch of orange flowers on an overcast day with camera in hand.

Aug 16, 2010

"I should just go home right now"

That's what I mostly jokingly thought last night when at Gramercy Tavern, I got the dreaded "Change battery pack" message on my trusty point and shoot. It was pretty tragic. RM's iPhone 4G camera saved my night.

Summer Tasting Menu was something like:
1) Marinated Sea Scallops
2) Crab Soup (this was oh my godddd good)
3) Smoked Trout (holy tenderness!!)
4) Guinea Hen
5) Veal Loin & Suckle
6) We had two desserts and I don't remember exactly the names, but the icy one was fantastic and just the right amount of lightness for my sated belly.
7) I'm really starting to love the after dessert desserts. This time we left no petit four untouched.
8) Also love when we get take homes. The cinnamon crumb coffee-cake-like muffin was the perfect morning snack. Best muffin I can remember having in a long time.
9) Yay, great company. :)

Gramercy Tavern | 42 East 20th

Aug 15, 2010

Sugar rush

A while ago, a friend informed me of the amazing macarons at Bouchon Bakery, as she is a bit of a macaron fiend (hi, Joyce :)). I've been meaning to go there ever since but have failed to catch their open hours every time I'm in the Time Warner Center. Word on the street is that they are opening a Bouchon in Rockefeller Center but not until March or April of next year.

The obligatory polaroid-macaron shots. Although I love the faded vintagey colors of this pack of film, I do wish it showed the colors of the macarons better. Strawberry, pistachio, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Devoured all of them on the steps of Columbus Circle (I had help, ok?). I used to crave chocolate chip it's all about the macarons.

Aug 13, 2010

A colorful feast

Running out the door for another dinner, but wanted to blog a wonderful meal at SHO Shaun Hergatt. Slim pickings for nice places in the Financial District, and SHO just might be all there is. It was fun to have a kitchen view from our table. Not pictured: warm olive bread, cocktails, and a nice bottle of white. My choices on the left starting with the summer corn soup.

Regretfully couldn't finish all the macarons, truffles and petit fours. Started with six truffles actually. Quite the after dessert dessert!

SHO Shaun Hergatt | 40 Broad Street, Second Level

Wednesday night traditions

This summer, every other Wednesday, I got to meet up with two of my lovely high school girlfriends to catch up over drinks and dinner. Despite everyone's busy schedules, it's worthwhile to keep up with people you've known for over 10 years. :)

This was our last summer dinner, at The Orchard in the LES. It's too bad the lighting was a garish orange in the restaurant. Though it doesn't look appetizing in the following pictures, the food was actually quite delicious. Simple and familiar flavors, but done very well. We stuck with the appetizer menu and had filet mignon lettuce wraps, mushroom flatbread, short ribs flatbread, and tuna tartare that was served with plantain chips. I polished off the majority of our two desserts on my own. No surprise there.

Haha one of my pet peeves is when ankles are cut off in pictures. Definitely think waiters and hostesses should be trained in photography as well. ;)

The Orchard | 162 Orchard Street

Aug 12, 2010

This is not reality

I have really fond memories of Puerto Rico and I recently went through my old pictures (Spring 2008) and pulled these out. I wasn't really into photography then, so I was pleasantly surprised I managed to find some blog-able shots :).

I haven't had a tropical vacation in a while, and I'm suddenly really craving one. I would also love to sail in the Mediterranean. Maybe someday.

I loved the colorful facades in San Juan. So very charming. I would really love to go back to these streets with my current aesthetic appreciation.

Old San Juan was just magical. The sun rays were ridiculous through the clouds. Something I've always loved is just being reminded of how small I am when I see a scene like this. The world keeps spinning no matter what kind of hardships we go through. All we can do is try to stay in pace. There's no use dwelling on upsetting memories. Pick up and move on.

Aug 10, 2010

Death & Company

These guys sure shake up a storm. Also, besides the precise and fantastic cocktails, there are amazing lobster rolls, mushroom tarts, and tuna tartare. Must return. But so many new places to try first. Ergo, I will probably never end up being a regular anywhere.

Death & Co | 433 East 6th Street

Blurry distinctions

Took these last Friday during the 5 mile trek from 59th street to my apartment. Around Herald Square I think. I think I spent at least a good 5 minutes lingering at this intersection and looking ridiculous, leaning over to get this shot. I do kinda like the pigeons.

This is more my usual processing and what I'm comfortable with.

Much less muted and much more cooler tones.

Here's the original.

I've gotten a lot of questions about processing in the past, and though I've tried my best to explain, it's really nothing too special. And always evolving. Even though I use them religiously, I think I barely even know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Photoshop and Lightroom. Nowadays, I'd rather post SOOC ("straight out of camera" for you non-photo folks ;))shots if I can get away with it.

Aug 9, 2010

Scenes from a weekend (x)

Where to even begin?

Saturday began with an all-you-can eat hot pot (and dim sum) fest at Shanghai Tan in Flushing. You make your own sauce from a sauce bar and pour your own drinks. Technically if you could put up with Budweiser, there is all you can drink beer :P. They give you a time limit of 2 hours, so we ate and ate and ate. Amazing scallion pancakes and surprisingly good xiao long bao.

Giant shaved ice later, and forced off a train that couldn't close its doors. I love when the trains go above ground - does that even happen in Manhattan?

Learning the card game 40 points (aka sheng ji 升级 aka tuo la ji 拖拉机??) was definitely a major highlight of Saturday. I think I fast became addicted. This is why I should not gamble. Other Saturday moments - collecting bliss shower products from the W hotel, discovering such good new music, McDonald's to START the night, Turtle Bay, & Horus Cafe.

Sunday involved a long wait at Sarabeth's in the UWS but I'm glad I finally got to try this place after hearing so much about it.

Lemon ricotta pancakes, YUM. Giant goblets of Bloody Mary and individual pitchers of lemonade-iced tea.

No weekend is complete without a few Polaroids ;). I sucked it up and lugged my cameras everywhere. Really also wanted to bring the Minolta (as I have so much new film I want to try), but that might be pushing it.

It only made sense to go to Central Park after a 4pm brunch.

Fun sunglasses reflection portraits.

Some time after barefoot frisbee, lounging, and card-playing, we ended up at Minca (my second time this week). And there's nothing like a strong tequila cocktail at Mayahuel to cap off the weekend. ;)

Whew, such a mouthful.

Aug 6, 2010

Kept alive

It's been a while since I've had fresh flowers in my room, but it's always fun to re-process some oldies.

Hydrangeas aren't on my short-list of favorite flowers, but I do love the creamy clean feeling about them. And they'd make perfect centerpieces on a nice sleek glass coffee table that I don't have :P.

Sunflowers from graduation, the orchids that lived for longer than I can remember, and the first peonies of this year.

Definitely about time I get some new colorful blooms for my room! It's too bad my favorites are out of season.

Aug 5, 2010

The epitome of summer in the city

Wandered early in the evening over to Lincoln Center for their free outdoor concert series. Read about yesterday's bands here.
Couldn't resist taking a shot like this. Penchant for bokeh and taxi-cab yellow.

Asphalt Orchestra was a neat concept. Looked like a lot of fun and watching these performances always makes me miss playing in a band.

The music played was so complex and really had a lot of depth. I don't think I can even begin to comprehend it, so I will just enjoy the beats and appreciate the mellow but energetic melodies.

Lincoln Center at night is such a dream. Even in the thick and humid air of last night. There was something about the windows of light, the extra bright fountain area, the silhouette play, and the range of sounds that felt oddly renewing. It really just felt like summer in the city.

Eating pinkberry on the steps at Columbus Circle and having one of those hyper-alive moments with the fountain water silvered by the lights all around. Looking enviously at the suits emerging from the likes of Per Se and Masa and wondering if I will ever truly be able to afford such luxuries. Not in my youth, that's for sure, and then it won't matter when I'm old. Seems that if there's one thing I've learned in the recent years, it's that life is all about trade-offs. We can't have everything. And being in the best city in the world doesn't matter if you don't have people to share experiences with. Everybody is busy busy these days, or going out to the trendiest clubs and spending more than 3x my rent on bottle service, and all I want to do is sit on these steps and spend all night in deep conversation with good company. That might just be perfect.

The theme of this summer seems to be tasting menus

What I love especially about tasting menus (other than the fact that they take care of my indecisiveness) is that they force me to try foods I might not have voluntarily opted for. I'm all about the adventurous eating these days, and I finally discovered that octopus is quite good when done properly (I'm still not a fan of squid though), and I tried rabbit for the first time. Here's what a 10 course tasting looks like at Degustation in the East Village.

I learned my lesson from Daniel to pace myself better, especially with the wine (love the gigantic goblets by the way), and I successfully avoided intense food coma-ing. Win!

The open kitchen you sit around is really neat. I could totally just watch them prepare food all night. Loved this, overall.

Aug 4, 2010

Picture perfect ramen

I've got a backlog of food outings to blog.

The ramen at Minca (5th street between Avenue A and B) is damn good. Originally tried this place a year or so ago while looking for an Ippudo alternative (got sick of waiting in line for an hour!). It is definitely a worthy substitute and I think many would say it is even better. Plus it is quite photogenic. :)

Aug 3, 2010

Small indulgences

Recent purchases:
-$4 gaudy camera ring from Forever21 (I could not not get this!)
-The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy; spotted this yesterday, read a few pages, and instantly fell in love with his writing style. Patiently put it down and ordered it online to save $3, but B&N has same-day delivery in Manhattan, which is nothing to complain about.

On the streets of Beacon Hill

Hello. :)

Boston gluttony megapost

And so we ate. And ate. Until we could no more.

Aug 2, 2010

Scenes from a weekend (ix)

Not enough stomach space or time to eat my way properly through Boston, but it was a fun little adventure nonetheless. I took even more Polaroids than this, but here is the gist. I often wish I had an external stomach that I could empty to allow for maximum consumption.

This was my third time in Boston in the last 4 years or so, and while I do think it's a cute little town that is cleaner than New York, it feels a bit too homogeneous for me. Also, everything closes way too early, cab rate fares jump at 40 cents, and the city seems to be confused over whether to remain a historic haven or join the rest of the modern world. On the other hand, sales tax is a mere 6.25%. :P