Oct 31, 2010

Chemex love

The first cafe stop of the day (literally went to three serious coffee places today) was Ground Support in SoHo. It is very much still reminiscent of the art gallery that used to be there with its vaulted sky-lighted ceilings and airy feeling. I.e., perfect for pictures!

Single-origin Kenya and Papua New Guinea brewed Chemex style accompanied by some pre-coffee chocolate treats and a "turkey picnic" sandwich was a perfect start (albeit a late one) to a sunny and brisk Sunday.

Ground Support | 399 West Broadway

Oct 29, 2010

Highbrow and lowbrow at Le Parker Meridien

Undeterred by the description in my NY Times app that Knave serves "one of New York's most expensive cappuccinos," we headed to the Parker Meridien to see why its cafe landed a spot on THE list. The soaring ceilings and dark moody corridor contrasted greatly with the bright and airy foyer of the main lounge area. Definitely a beautiful space but maybe not so "cafe" like in the traditional sense. Oh, and the cappuccino? $6. Very well made though. As long as you're not coming here every day for a cappuccino, it seems all right for a single occasion type thing. :P

The macchiato came with a perfect little heart. It's funny how it looks like the same size as the cappuccino in these pictures.

After enjoying the plush seats, we headed over to the Burger Joint in the hotel, which is nestled in an unexpected little corner, totally tucked away from normal view. It's a bit Soup-Nazi-like there; you have to order exactly as they specify and if you don't order correctly you are sent to the back of the line. No pressure or anything...though I didn't see this actually happen to anyone.

We grabbed our order and headed to Central Park to nom on burgers and fries and check out some colorful leaves in the process. Nothing super special or exciting but good eats nonetheless. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday if you ask me.

Knave | 118 W 57th Street
Burger Joint | 19 W 56th Street

Oct 28, 2010

For the love of morning light...

When I opened my blinds today, I almost gasped at the scene out there. Almost reflexively, I reached for my camera (it was within arm's reach anyway hah) and tried to get the scene before the sun moved.

I think what really gets me is the long shadow of the bridge in the water.

How can this not be a signal of a beautiful day?

Sorry I've been slacking on the photo collage posts - it will resume soon!

Oct 26, 2010

More two wheel lovin'

Having a bit of a down-phase tonight, and some emotions just cannot be helped. I suppose what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and such is life.

Just a single shot tonight of a few bikes spotted in the East Village.

Oct 25, 2010

Weekend coffee rotation

I don't get to venture too much out of my way for coffee on the weekdays, so I take full advantage of the weekends to work my way down the NY Times list of notable coffee places (now handily integrated into The Scoop app for iPhone). On Saturday afternoon, I headed to Ost Cafe in the East Village. It is a charming space with light just flooding in. The couch area is a nice place to linger but I am a sucker for wooden cafe chairs, as you might have noticed...

Of course, the cappuccino I had was divine. I shall be back.

Ost Cafe | 441 E 12th St

Oct 24, 2010

Macarons from across the Atlantic

How lucky am I to receive Ladurée macarons twice in the past two months? Even though I've never been to Europe, I suppose I've gotten to greedily sample a tiny bit of the best pastries there. :)

Ah, happiness. How beautiful are these colors?

This box isn't going to make it very long...

Oct 22, 2010


This was one of those weeks it kinda felt like Friday on Tuesday. I think I'll spend my Friday night editing pictures and alternating between listening to Flo Rida and Phoenix. Lame or awesome? (Don't answer that.)

Anyway, RBC Coffee is one of my favorite cafes but it always feels a bit out of the way to become part of my cafe rotation. I love the various brewing methods they offer for drip coffee. I'm also convinced their Vietnamese espresso could wake the dead. Here are some film shots from a weekend afternoon at RBC. I miss being able to just lounge at a cafe for hours with a good book.

Hello, beautiful latte art!

Weekend, commence. Photos, edit yourself please.

RBC Coffee | 71 Worth Street

Oct 21, 2010

Weekend lunch done right

A recent lunch at momofuku ssäm bar was extremely filling (well, what else is new?) but so flavorful and great. First of all, I MUST find a place I can buy this "Ting" grapefruit soda. It is unbelievably refreshing, though unfortunately rather calorie-dense...not that that has ever stopped me. We ordered from the prix-fixe and added a special bun they were offering that day that sounded super rich and fatty. We ended up with spicy honeycomb tripe, the pork buns, spicy rice cakes, and pork cotechino. I really enjoyed the tripe and everything else overall. It was very pork-heavy which sometimes doesn't sit too well with me, but it was all delicious.

I also love the cocktails here. :D

momofuku ssam bar | 207 2nd Ave

Oct 20, 2010

Did I just walk into an Anthropologie catalog?

I fell in love with the community garden at 9th street and Avenue C the other day (why yes, of course I was at Ninth Street Espresso Cafe :D). I seriously could have taken pictures of every nook and cranny in this garden. It was so beautifully put together. Even the "messes" were just so charming and romantic. It's really this kind of stuff that tugs at my heartstrings. I didn't even mind that I got mosquito welts all over my feet (pretty much the only bits of skin showing!) that are still itchy days later.

There was one particular little area that I felt like was put together by an Anthropologie stylist or something - the pink lanterns and mirror shot show this.

I didn't even realize spaces like this existed in the city. I think I need to hunt down some more. What a gourmet feast for my aesthetic sensibilities!

Oct 19, 2010

Brunch, on film

It has been a while since I've given my film some loving, and I finally got around to dropping off some rolls and scanning them. I am really loving the Kodak Portra 400VC results!

I've been wanting to go to Locanda Verde for brunch long before I moved into the city after reading about it on A Passion for Food. This may have been one of the best brunches I can remember having and completely worth the hour or so wait. I'm also 99% sure Tyra Banks walked in here that day. This place is also ridiculously photogenic and well-styled.

Taking home some of those baked goodies was a treat too. I had stellar breakfasts for the next few days. :) They were out of the blueberry muffins (which I think they are well-known for...so obviously a repeat trip is in order!).

Locanda Verde | 377 Greenwich Street

Oct 18, 2010

A lovely wedding at The Palace in Somerset

Blogging wedding pictures is so much more time-consuming and challenging than my usual naturey crap and food/coffee shots! After way too many hours, I still barely have any people shots in this post. Hopefully I can get my act together and muster up another post for those. For now, I will at least share some getting-ready and detail shots.

I think the hardest part of this wedding for me, by far, was not having any natural light. I hadn't touched a flash in my life (okay except for the times I assisted on weddings last year) for any of my personal work, but I had to practically completely rely on one for this wedding, which took place at nighttime and indoors. I went purely on a bit of trial and error with the diffusing and angle of the flash, and figuring out which way to flop it when switching from landscape to portrait and vice versa was always a pain and definitely slowed me down a bit. Still, I felt oddly comfortable and unstressed for most of the wedding. In fact, I felt MORE stressed when I was an assistant last year. I think this time, it was mostly because I was just shooting a less formal reception that wasn't a full-day affair. Plus the bride and groom were amazingly cooperative and patient, and just plain nice people. I greatly appreciated that.

I was pretty excited about all the traditional clothing and chunky jewelry. There were some fantastic colors among the women's garb.

Divya was a beautiful bride who made my job easy.

As I've said many times before (and is pretty obvious throughout my blog), these kinds of shots are just smack there in my comfort zone. People...well, I'm still working on that. All in good time.

Oct 17, 2010

A 10-course, revisited

A little special occasion for a friend had me back at Degustation. It was a superb experience all around, once again. I love that you don't feel disgustingly full even after 10+ plates of food. I was happy to see the scrambled egg served in egg shell still there. The rabbit terrine I probably could have done without, but I am definitely still affected by knowing what my food is and the idea of a little rabbit hopping around...yeahh. Same sentiment for the fried sweetbreads. The last savory dish was a wagyu beef (I think) with shaved foie gras in a wonderful beef consommé. The caramelized brioche bun over grapefruit for dessert is absolutely marvelous. Ugh it is so great it kills me a little.

Oh yes, and stay tuned for pictures from the wedding. It was a challenging experience but a lot of fun as well. I seriously think I might be too short for wedding photography...

Oct 15, 2010

Happy (almost) weekend

Here is a nice break from the recent food marathon on my blog - some white and purple tulips that were a pleasant surprise to find in this season. I know I've mentioned that my favorite flowers are peonies and ranunculae but I think I like just about every other flower the same, excepting roses (maybe I think they are too cliché).

I'll be heading back to NJ tomorrow to shoot a wedding reception at night - my first one solo! Not gonna lie, I have definitely been hardcore stressing about it (portraits have never been my strength and group portraits are even more intimidating to think about), but we'll see what I can come through with. Send some good vibes my way, please? :)

Oct 13, 2010

A weekend like no other (part iv)

All right, this is the final installment of my voracious weekend. Sunday involved an impromptu brunch at Boqueria, a Spanish tapas place in Soho. This was actually supposed to be a light brunch, as I knew I had an early dinner reservation that night, but you can see from the pictures this didn't quite fit that bill.

I pretty much ate that whole plate of blistered shishito peppers. The waiter warned us they were pretty hot this time of year, but I threw caution to the wind. The first pepper I had was unrepresentatively spicy of the rest of the plate, so I was nearly scared away. However, the rest were delicious - simply prepared and with a bit of sea salt.

Later that evening, I headed to A Voce Madison to meet up with my childhood friend (i.e., my Daniel dining companion! :)). Well, A Voce is obviously no Daniel (probably can't even use them in the same sentence), but it was nice to catch up with an old friend. I think something in this meal pushed me over the edge, as I had a pretty rough night that felt like food poisoning or food allergies, though I am not aware of any food allergies I might have. Anyway, my liquid/fruit detox diet hardly lasted 5 hours on Monday...and I am back to a more or less "normal" diet for now.

I seriously need to not blog about food for a while. Perhaps I should just leave the camera at home next time (pft, who am I kidding?).

Oct 12, 2010

A weekend like no other (part iii)

I know I left my last post on a rather ominous note. Now the great suspense is over, hah. So you see, I wish I had had six stomachs to prepare me for Saturday night. I had the immense privilege of attending a dinner in Staten Island at the welcoming home of a Mouthfuls forum member who enjoys entertaining guests. While we were warned in advance to come hungry, very hungry, we did not quite comprehend the gravity of that statement until we saw for ourselves.

Six people, five hours, six bottles of wine (two older than me :P), courses so numerous (and LARGE) I could no longer keep a count straight in my head, and two kickass desserts that I demolished anyway.

Things I do remember (in order of pictures): chicken meatballs & spoonful of soba noodles with sesame oil, red lentil soup with a kick & crab in a fried dough & some white soup, sophisticated buttermilk chicken fingers & potato wedges, avocado mousse stacked with smoked salmon & papaya & mashed potato chips, softshell crab & corn tamale & jumbo shrimp, foie gras dumplings & a 90-minute poached egg (possibly the richest dish I have ever experienced), grilled pork loin with apples & bacon & sauerkraut on a bed of potato pancake, chocolate mousse two ways, sweet corn ice cream with dried strawberries and a blackberry jello cube. :-O I know, right?!

Is this not mind-boggling and an insane amount of food? Still, it was such a pleasure to be served like this and I won't forget what a rare and unique opportunity this was. It was a real, intimate chef's counter experience, and the crazy thing is that this guy isn't a professional chef. Rich, you can definitely quit your day job! :P

And yes, that is an Emmy! It is a beaut and I held it and grinned like an idiot.

There are way too many exclamations in this post, but it is fitting for how I remember this night in my mind.

Oct 11, 2010

A weekend like no other (part ii)

I gotta face it. My body is not as resilient as I'd like it to be. It feels defeated and it's making me pay. But, let's continue with what kind of abuse (divine gluttony?...Potato potahto?) I put it through in the past few days.

The Monday Room at Public is a really great chill place for small plates and wine. It wasn't that crowded on a Thursday night and it had the perfect amount of a comforting background hubbub. I had just inhaled the biggest frozen yogurt concoction ever from the cafe Forty Carrots at Bloomingdales - bigger than all of these pictured here, so I wasn't particularly hungry.

We decided on a white wine flight and asked for food pairings (a bit opposite from the norm, but fun no less). We ended up with scallops, trout, and duck, all very tasty and nicely proportioned. I seem to enjoy sandwiching my savory meals in between desserts, as we had a chocolate espresso cake and "The Monday Room chocolates" after it all.

Seems relatively tame and moderate, right? But oh, it continues. No pictures from Friday night, but that consisted of good old Mark sliders, fries, and lots o' beer.

We can fast forward a bit to Saturday afternoon at Terroir Tribeca, where they just started serving a brunch menu this weekend. I'm kicking myself for shooting the menu at such a f1.8 because now I can't read what was in my drink that was so delicious. Oops.

Later that evening, we sorely regretted having this meal at all...you will soon see why.

Oct 10, 2010

A weekend like no other (part i)

I cannot even begin to describe the gluttony that took place this weekend. Given how I usually eat and my usual excess, this weekend topped even that. I will have to slowly blog through it, but figured I'd start with something easy - two cafe visits in between copious amounts of food and drink.

I had been to Cafe Grumpy once a long while ago, and have been wanting to revisit for a while, but am hardly ever in that area (Chelsea). As I am considering latte art classes, I figured it might be appropriate to check out the latte art here since they do teach them.

Not bad, but not nearly as pretty as the latte art at Caffetteria (see below). I think I'm just much more of a fan of the fern-like art than the more simple heart-shaped one.

I love this place because they serve Blue Bottle Coffee! I happily picked up some Papua New Guinea beans and they smell fantastic even wrapped up in the bag. Ever since I had the New Orleans style iced coffee at the Blue Bottle in Brooklyn, no other iced coffee did it for me. I seriously dream of this iced coffee, so I couldn't not get it at Caffetteria. Luckily my cafe-venturing partner got a VERY photogenic cappuccino so I could satisfy my photo needs.

Oof, my body is definitely rebelling and hurting. I will have to apologize to it and coax it back to the way it was before this weekend started. Fruit/liquid diet shall commence...we'll see how well that goes.

Cafe Grumpy | 224 West 20th Street
Caffetteria | 147 Sullivan Street

Oct 8, 2010

Hello, weekend

A stroll around my public library in my hometown last weekend yielded these photos.

Ah, many many many hours spent in this area back in my nerdy high school days. Back then, I was convinced I wanted to go into some science-related field. After a scarring AP Physics my senior year, I think I changed my mind. I'd like to think I still turned out okay though, right? :)

Too busy eating to blog

Not that I can complain about that! Here was a dinner from last weekend when I was in the good old 'burbs of NJ.

I've been tremendously spoiled by what the city has to offer, but this little place in New Brunswick has some great stuff that still delights my palate. I am pretty adamant about pasta being extremely al dente (er, almost crunchy :P) and it is done just right here. In fact, I would be happy coming here just for the pasta. And you can't go wrong ending a night with lemon poppyseed pound cake.

Oct 6, 2010

Eleven Madison Park, we meet again

With great pleasure, as expected. I didn't think I would be returning so soon, but after this article in the NYTimes came out a month ago, I was curious about the new menu format. A friend managed to snag a 7pm reservation for four (also about a month ago), and I eagerly and impatiently waited for last night's meal.

Our menu looked something like this:
Beet | Crab | Langoustine | Foie Gras
Endive | Potato | Sole | Lobster
Chicken | Pork | Squab | Beef
Chevre | Apple | Hazelnut | Chocolate

And what can I really say that isn't stating the obvious? Everything still blows me away, a little. I love the surprises in the amuse-bouches; we had an interesting baked potato tea, and whatever foamy concoction was in that eggshell was heavenly. The plating is artsy and lovely. My beef encrusted in bone-marrow was simply fantastic - you could actually taste what pure good beef tastes like. The after- dessert desserts are always a treat, even when you come to expect them. Service is nearly perfect.

Well, let's get to the goods - the pictures I took at a cringe-worthy ISO 6400.

(Not ALL of these dishes were mine, by the way!)

Signed copy of the menu! :)

I also took home a Mason jar of their house granola that was seriously out of this world. Some caramel and slightly salty goodness and a crunch so perfect I couldn't tear my hands away from the jar. My coworkers didn't believe me when I told them they HAD to try this granola...that is, until they experienced the glorious magic themselves.

Daniel Humm, you are a rockstar.
And also very tall.

Oct 3, 2010

Garden of eatin'

Whenever I come across colorful gardens like this, I feel like I've hit a jackpot of sorts. I get this adrenaline rush because there is so much around to appreciate, so much for my senses to feast on, and of course, so much to capture! The following series of pictures was taken at the East Brunswick Community Garden during my visit home. If you don't have your own backyard, you can buy a plot (for just $10) in the public garden and harvest away. The sun was a little trickster today, and I know I looked ridiculous when it finally went away for a few seconds, and I HAULED ASS over to the flower beds so I could get them without the harsh shadows and overblown highlights. Anyway, I took well over 200 pictures (no surprise there) - here is a somewhat random selection of them:

Oct 1, 2010

A blur of a week

I can't really remember individual days of this past week, and feel like it was just hours ago that I posted my Happy weekend post of last Friday. Sleep deprivation is so disorienting. As per my last post, I think a change of pace would be welcome. Heading home this weekend for some R&R, TLC and good eats (hopefully) from these folks.