Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Explore New York : Chelsea Market

When the hubs and I set out to walk The High Line, our end goal was Chelsea Market, conveniently located right along the line between 15th and 16th streets in the Meatpacking District. A former coworker in California, who had recently visited New York, encouraged me to check out the bustling indoor marketplace filled with shops, eateries, grocers and more. My friend said I'd love it, and she was right.

Having just walked about 25 blocks, our first stop was for refreshment. At a wine bar, naturally. G and I cozied up at a table inside Corkbuzz Wine Studio and promptly ordered two glasses of wine (rosé for me) and some simple but tasty apps: a baguette with absolutely divine herbed goat milk butter and a bowl of castelvetrano olives. Satiated, we went out to explore the market.

We strolled through Spices and Tease, astounded by the massive selection of spice blends, herbs and teas and enchanted by all their beautiful colors. A true foodie's paradise, it really gets your culinary creative juices flowing thinking of all the ways you can use and cook with the various salts and spices.

Next up was a spin around The Lobster Place, a wholesale/retail fish market that, in addition to live lobsters from Maine, is stocked with all kinds of fresh fish and seafood chilling on ice. If only we lived in NYC, this would be our go-to fishmonger. (Probably wouldn't make any friends on the subway or bus if we tried to bring the fresh catch home!)

Luckily, we could take home some goodies from The Filling Station. This small shop is just a joy to visit. You walk in and you're surrounded by dozens of metal casks filled with specialty oils and vinegars in unique flavors, with little cups ready and waiting for your sampling pleasure. Same goes for a variety of exotic salts. After taking in the inventory and tasting to our hearts' (and tongues'!) content, we selected a bottle of tangy-and-sweet grapefruit white balsamic vinegarperfect for dressing saladsand a jar of beautiful maroon-hued merlot salt. (The hubby loves his merlot!)

Of course we couldn't help but make a quick pit stop at Chelsea Wine Vault. Quick because otherwise we likely would have brought too many bottles home! I left with a cute wine sweater that looks like a football (similar) for G and a bottle of White Girl Rosé for me, simply because it made me laugh.

With the market about to close but feeling like we needed more to eat, we ended our visit the same way it began: with wine and appetizers, this time at what turned out to be a fancy (read: pricey) Italian eatery, Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina. Even though the restaurant looked stunning inside, I opted for us to dine al fresco to see the sparkle of the city lights and the people passing by. 

G and I shared crispy speck and zucchini bruschetta (the freshness of the zucchini did a good job of balancing out of the saltiness of the speck, but I wished the bread wasn't sliced into such a thick slab) and G polished off the prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano fritters, since while they looked golden and delicious they were also extremely cheesy inside (and if you know me, I'm not a big cheese fan).

A return visit to Chelsea Market is definitely a must since, although we passed by it on our way in, we didn't get a chance to circle back before closing time and pop into Artists & Fleas, a space filled with local indie makers selling their unique goods and wares. I'd also love to check out the oyster bar Cull & Pistol, grab a crispy oatmeal chip cookie at the famous Eleni's New York and maybe even a Nutella and banana crepe (my favorite combination) at Bar Suzette

One thing is certain: when you visit Chelsea Market, you will never go hungry!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Explore New York : The High Line

A week after sharing my summer bucket list I was able to happily cross one item off the list: strolling along The High Line in NYC! 

Thanks to the work of community preservationists, the historic, out-of-use 1930s freight rail line was converted into a gorgeously designed and landscaped linear park, with the first section opening to the public in June 2009. Elevated above the busy and bustling city streets on Manhattan's West Side, it is most certainly the scenic route to take when needing to get around the Chelsea neighborhood.

North to south The High Line runs from W. 34th Street at Hudson Yards to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, between 10th and 12th avenues. After a quick walk from Port Authority, G and I got on the line at 34th Street (though, the Hudson Yards section was closed that day due to maintenance) and sauntered all the way to 16th Street, where we got off to explore Chelsea Market. (More on that later.) It was a muggy (read: frizz-inducing), late August day and the line was fairly busy; the park in the sky is no secret. But the suspended walkwaywith its garden vibes, art installations, and surrounding mash-up of architectural stylesis a pleasant and more visually appealing alternative to the city streets below.

Now a few photos from our stroll, if you'd like to see.

Though I'm glad to have accomplished this bucket list item, I'd love to return again and walk the entire line. We had about five more blocks to go to get to Gansevoort Street, which, as it turns out, is where the Whitney Museum of American Art is located. I see another day trip in our future!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Bucket List

Fall is in full swing here in Jersey/NYC and this California girl is not ready at all. The seasons changed so swiftly here. One day it felt like summer, the next I was needing a sweater and boots! Having grown up in Southern California, I'm not accustomed to true seasons, and the change between them is typically slow and subtle. Suffice to say, the sudden cold snap caught me off guard. I am not yet enjoying the frosty morning and evening walks with the dogs where we are all shivering, and yet as cold as it feels to me right now, I know that it's going to get a lot colderand I also know that I don't really know what I'm in for!

Nevertheless, I'm not ready to hibernate for the winter and I've heard New York is really beautiful in the fall. So in addition to getting a new pair of boots (I'd love these classics) and a warmer, East Coast-appropriate coat (this one with a fur-trimmed hood caught my eye), here's a list of activities I'd like to accomplish this autumn season:

Go apple picking. I've never been and now we're living in a region where it is possible! We're just an hour-long drive from Wilkens Farm and Masker Orchards.

Indulge in fall flavors. Give acorn squash another try with this apple, cranberry and sausage stuffed recipe that should make the hubby happy. Bake the apple tart I wanted to make last fall. Put an autumnal spin on one of our favorite dinners with butternut squash risotto. And on an especially chilly evening, whip up a batch of mulled apple cider, spiked for extra warmth.

Experience Broadway and the ballet. I don't have a specific Broadway show in mind (recommendations welcome!) but I would love to see the New York City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.

Wine tasting in the North Fork of Long Island. One of G and I's favorite weekend pastimes in San Diego was wine tasting in Temecula, so I'd love to explore a few East Coast wineries. Apparently, Long Island Wine Country is the place to go (in particular, Shinn Estate, Bedell Cellars and Croteaux Vineyards) and it turns out that merlot, the hubby's favorite varietal, is the signature grape of the region. (For a closer-to-home wine tasting option, we could also check out Brooklyn Winery and Red Hook Winery.)

Bundle up and go ice skating. NYC has many rinks to choose from, and while I'd love to spin around the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, the long lines may lead us to the Winter Village at Bryant Park (bonus: shops!) or Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Attend the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center. Or, at the very least, visit and snap lots of photos while the famous giant tree is on view this holiday season. 


There are a few things we didn't get to on our summer bucket list that we could still aim to do now, including visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park (and the bridge itself) and checking out the Brooklyn Flea's indoor winter market. There is so much to see and do in NYC and we might not be able to do it all, but we are going to have fun trying! What's on your fall bucket list? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Flirty Thirty

Happy flirty 30 to my bestie, Marielle! Friends for 22 years, maid of honor at each other's weddings (hers, mine), we've known each other for most of our lives and been there for the good, the bad and the awkward moments in-between. We're more than friends; we're family. Sisters. We've been on many adventures together and, in more recent years, as happens in adulthood, we've experienced much apart. But no matter how much time goes by or how much distance separates us, we're always there for each other and we can always pick up right where we left off. That's what happens when you know and understand someone so completely, and love them unconditionally. That's family. I feel blessed to have such a friend as her in my life and grateful that our friendship has persisted all these years later, after that first meeting on the elementary school playground! 

I'm thankful we were able to spend my 30th together when I was visiting California this past March (my birthday was just three days after her wedding!) and I just wish I could be home again to celebrate with her. But honestly, Marielle isn't too keen on big birthday parties, and I know she is spending her birthday exactly the way she would want: traveling with her love. Right now she and her hubby are (finally!) enjoying their honeymoon, which they are spending traipsing around Italy. So I know she is having an incredible, magical, fabulous time. And I'm sure JP is spoiling his wifey with a fancy Italian dinner tonight and lots of wine. Just what the birthday girl deserves!

Fortunately for me, my BFF has been feeding my wanderlust by sending photos and messages from Italia. It's almost like I'm on vacation with her. Almost. For now, I'll wish her and her bubs sunny skies, full bellies and happy hearts for the rest of their journey.

Buon compleanno, bella!

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