Friday, July 22, 2011

NYC with the BF

Hi Everyone! I'm recapping our recent trip to NYC, which includes some places I've written about before. There are a lot of pics, so you have been warned =)

Day 1:

The bf and I took a quick 1-night trip to NYC since we had never been there together. I heart NYC. It has always been a dream of mine to live in the Big Apple, but for now, I am only a reasonable 4-hour bus ride away. We ended up taking Tripper Bus from Bethesda for $25 each way.

86 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhood: East Village

We got into the city in the morning and needed coffee badly. We visited this place because it was a few blocks away from our ramen lunch spot and yelpers liked it.

This place is so "NY" because it's like the size of my bedroom. There is no seating except for a tiny bench outside. Basic menu of very strong coffees and baked goods. Sorry, there are no sugar-substitutes, just white sugar in a canister.

The bf is so not a coffee drinker, and ended up saying "I'll have what she's having". We left sipping two Espresso Macchiatos ($2.50 each). We didn't add sugar so they were potent, had great flavor and didn't taste burnt like Starbucks can be at times.
Abraco on Urbanspoon

Ippudo NY
65 4th Ave
(between 9th St & 10th St)
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhood: East Village

I've been craving this place ever since the last time I went 2 years ago!

I had to take him here because there is no other ramen place I've ever tried that compares to it. It's so trendy and the staff is loud and fun.

Top: Nakasu Kawabata Shoyu Ramen (Soy flavored ramen noodle in a triple soup base of "sori-paitan" chicken, tonkotsu, and vegetable. Topped with pork chashu, red picked ginger, cabbage, garlic and scallions) for $15. I ordered this special ramen, which was very gingery and had thicker noodles.
Bottom: Akamaru Modern (The original "Tonkotsu" noodle soup topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, kikurage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil) for $15. The bf ordered what I had last time, which included thinner noodles and a creamier broth. I believe this is their most popular ramen bowl, and our favorite too.

We didn't want to be super touristy and go to Times Square or climb the Empire State Building, but we did visit Battery Park at the southern tip of the Manhattan. This is where you can catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We opted for a quick stroll and photo before hoping back on the train.

Chinatown was our next stop for some refreshing drinks and snacks.

Vivi Bubble Tea
49 Bayard St
(between Bowery & Mott St)
New York, NY 10002
Neighborhood: Chinatown

OMG, tell me this isn't the cutest bubble tea place you've ever seen?! Why is Homer Simpson there? Well, doesn't matter because the bf liked him there.

Another very tiny place without much room for sitting. They offer a variety of bubble tea flavors, shaved ice, popcorn chicken, corn dogs, etc.

How cute and fitting for us. I ordered a Lychee Black Tea and he ordered a Taro Milk Tea ($3 each). They were just fine and what we needed while walking around town.
Vivi Bubble Tea on Urbanspoon

Eileen's Special Cheesecake
17 Cleveland Pl
(between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: Nolita

I wanted to introduce the bf to my favorite cheesecake place.

It was so hard for me to decide! I like the mini sizes and the fluffy texture of the cheesecake.

The bf ordered a Plain while I ordered a Pecan ($3.50 each). He apparently prefers more dense/smooth cheesecake rather than light/fluffy. Oh well, I was happy.

While shopping in SoHo, we took a hot dog break.

During our walk back to the hotel, we found that on the weekends a good number of streets are blocked off for vendors. We grabs an AMAZING gyro in Midtown East.

924 2nd Ave
(between 49th St & 50th St)
Manhattan, NY 10022
Neighborhood: Midtown East

We decided to have a romantic but low-key dinner at a French restaurant not too far from our hotel.

To our surprise, they had a jazz band playing, which made the dinner even more romantic and cute! Check out Avalon Jazz Band's page: They play there on Saturdays. NYC has the smallest places ever! The front wall was open to the street, so that made it feel more open.

It was perfect. I love cozy, romantic, non-pretentious restaurants with good food. I heart this place so much.

We shared a Side of Truffled Mac & Cheese (Bachamel, Ham) for $14. We loved it! So yummy, and the bread crumbs on top added nice texture.

Top: "Julia Child" Beef Bourguignon (Bacon, Mushrooms, Carrots, served with Butter Linguine Pasta) for $23. The bf thought it was good, but slightly too salty.
Bottom: Mushroom Risotto (Asparagus, Parmesan) for $17. I thought it was good, but could have been more flavorful. We ended up switching dishes 1/2 way through.
Matisse on Urbanspoon

SPiN New York
48 E 23rd St
(between 5th Ave & East 23rd St)
New York, NY 10010
Neighborhood: Flatiron

I met up with some friends from home that happened to be in NYC the same weekend. We were all exhausted from walking around the city all day, so we chose to do something low-key.

Ping Pong! This place was playing hip hop, had a fully stocked bar and tons of room. It wasn't crowded, stayed open late, and the couches allowed for us to lounge while watching our friends play.

53rd St & 6th Ave Halal Cart 
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10079
Neighborhoods: Theater District, Midtown West

If you have never had "Chicken and Rice" at 3am in NYC, you haven't lived. This place is a must, and I like the lamb. This was the bf's first time, and he ate all of his and the rest of mine. Sorry I didn't have a pic, I was chowing down! You can check it out during one of my other trips.

Day 2:

Aroma Espresso Bar
205 E 42nd St
(between 3rd Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10017
Neighborhood: Midtown East

A few blocks away from our hotel was this coffee shop to fuel us for our last day.

I ordered a Vanilla Latte and the bf once again orders something he doesn't know - an Iced Cappuccino ($3.25 each). We both thought the drinks were ok. All of his ice was melted because the frothed milk was hot...oh he has so much to learn.
Aroma Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Museum of Modern Art
11 W 53rd St
(between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhood: Midtown West

We love art and NYC has some of the best art museums in the world. We wanted to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art too, but in the end, MOMA was closer to walk to.

This place was huge and featured some cool and weird stuff too.

So many famous paintings where there! I teared up when I saw Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. The bf's favorite painting was by Salvador Dali.

Pop Burger
14 E 58th St
(between West 58th St & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10022
Neighborhood: Midtown East

My girl NV introduced me to this place the last time I visited her. Unfortunately I didn't get to see any of my NYC friends, but I wanted to show the bf this cool place.

The Pop Burgers with cheese ($10) and French Fries ($4.25). These fries are so crispy, I love them! The burgers are small and have a thousand island sauce on it. Delish.

This was my first time in Central Park and we only hung out for 20 minutes because it was hot and we had to get back to the hotel for our bags. Being there reminded me of Sex and the City.

Wafels & Dinges
New York, NY 10011
(866) 429-7329

On the edge of Central Park was a food truck I saw on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

We ordered De Throwdown Wafel (spekuloos spread and whipped cream) for $6. OMG it was amazing. Spekuloos is made of ground up Belgium speculoos biscuits (closest thing to a graham cracker/gingerbread thing). The texture of the waffle is more dense. It was refreshing to wash down our snack with a San Pallegrino.
Wafels & Dinges (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Radiance Tea House
158 W 55th St
(between Avenue Of The Americas & 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhood: Midtown West

We walked and took the train everywhere! It was so hot outside so we decided to grab another refreshing drink before leaving the city.

The tea house was very nice and had a large variety of traditional teas. Peaceful environment, even though the wood doesn't help with the chatter. The staff was super nice too.

Left: Pineapple & Mango (Indian black tea, pineapple and mango fruit pieces) for $5.
Right: Southern Joy (Radiance Classic Black, fresh lemon, rock sugar) for $4.
Both were refreshing and tasted like tea, not just sugar.
Radiance Tea House and Books on Urbanspoon

Our trip was way too short, but it was a  fun weekend that we enjoyed (and probably gained 10 lbs from). Hope you guys can check out some of the places we tried!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Truckeroo - DC Food Truck Festival

Truckeroo is a monthly festival held June through October featuring around 20 food trucks! Makes it easy for those of us who don't work in DC or those who don't want to track all of them down individually. Admission is free. Located at Half and M Street, SE across from Navy Yard Metro Station on the green line.

I went with my friends to the June event. 18,000 people showed up throughout the day. My pic doesn't capture the crowds at all.

Live music was playing throughout the festival which gave it a fun, communal vibe.

They sell beer too! Just get a wrist band at the entrance.

The event was from 11am - 9pm. My friends and I couldn't get there until 7ish because of work, so it was PACKED with everyone else in the same boat. Therefore, our choices were based on the length of the line and how fast it appeared to be moving. Many of the popular trucks were already sold out by the time we got there.

We chose the Big Cheese truck first! Gourmet grilled cheeses please the kid and foodie in me.

They offer 4 different kinds, and all of my friends ordered the same one! We're going to branch out next time so we can taste each other's.

We all got the Midnight Moon (goat gouda, caramelized onions on multigrain) for $6.50. SOOOOO yummy. Granted it took 30 minutes to order, pay and get our food, but it was good stuff. Make sure you pay attention to when they call your name over the loud music, otherwise you might be SOL.

Here's an example of a truck (Sweetbites) that had been sold out but still wanted to torture us by sticking around, and... is an example the BBQ Bus DC line that we didn't want to stand it. Actually this only shows 1/2 of the line. I'm not joking.

While we were walking around trying to decide on our next truck, these guy was singing and playing his keyboard like no other! I didn't understand where he was plugged into...

...and then I saw these on the ground =)

We chose the Eat Wonky truck because it appeared to be moving and looked shorter. They are known for their Poutine (a French Canadian dish of french fries topped with fresh cheese curds and brown gravy).

Once again we all ordered the same thing. What were we thinking?! We ordered their signature Wonky Dog (All-beef frank on a warm toasted roll topped with french fries, squeaky cheese and brown gravy) for $6. We all felt the same way about the item: the roll was too thick and the flavors were one-noted.

They also had Whoopie Pies! We all bought the Hazelnut-Nutella flavor for around $3. Delicious! Maybe the best I've had.

After 45 minutes in that line, we were so happy to finally get our food!

Tomorrow is the July Truckeroo from 11am - 11pm! I will be there again, and we will have a better plan of attack! Can't wait to try the other trucks.