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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weekly NYC Blog Post - 7.12.2012

So I thought I'd start off this week's blog for NYC with my first New York beach and my first NYC music festival.  From there it's more of the same.  Have at it!

Long Beach
As a native west coaster I have an impossible time understanding the eastern seaboard so I'm starting with a map of where Long Beach is in relation to Manhattan.  So here you go.

As you can see you have to cross the "short length" of Long Island to get there which takes about an hour by train.  To find train times you can use the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) website -  The trains leave fairly often in the morning but then start to only leave every hour during the late afternoon in order to get back so make sure you check the return times as well.

The trains leave from Penn Station and be sure to ask for both your train ticket AND your beach pass because it's a lot cheaper when you buy them together.  And you don't have to stand in the crazy long line once you get to the beach.  If you do wait until you get to the beach you can either go to the local store OR buy it at the entrance to the beach.  Either way you have to pay in cash so bring a $20.

The beach is actually very similar to California I thought - the sand is really fine and the ocean is cold.  The ocean looks to be a little deeper though and more murky.  But it did wonders for my hangover!  It was crazy crowded since all of Manhattan left to escape the 100 degree weather in the City.  Overall I had a GREAT time and will definitely be back.  Also if you are lucky you can hop on the express train home which takes even less time!  Make sure you are the first to the train (both ways) because the seats are first come, first serve and you DO NOT want to stand the whole time.

  Governor's Ball (Randall's Island)
So my first music festival experience in Manhattan was Governor's Ball featuring the likes of Passion Pit, Penguin Prison, Walk the Moon and more.  Thanks to my evil beer guzzling friends we missed half these bands but there was still plenty of time to put on our dancing shoes.  It was definitely VERY hot though.  I highly recommend - it was easy to get to, no waiting to get in, and easy to get back.  I'll be back next year for sure!


I have embarrassingly lived across the street from this place for almost a year now and just now managed to eat there (outside of mac n cheese randomly once).  I have been MISS.ING.OUT.  The restaurant itself is a little "sceney" for me but the food more than made up for it.

 Photo Credit: Cafeteria Website

The burrata with toast and heirloom tomato was one of the best I've ever had and it's a favorite dish of mine.

The California Cobb Salad with Avocado, Blue Cheese, Crisp Bacon, Corn Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Hard Boiled Eggs, Grilled Chicken and Dijon Vinaigrette was huge, fresh and flavorful.  By the time I'd gobbled down the burrata starter I wasn't that hungry and took over half of this salad home for leftovers the next day.  It was still delicious the next day.

The Mac N Cheese with smoked gouda and bacon, for all they wax on about it, wasn't even that good.  Low point of an otherwise outstanding meal!


Via Tribunali
I walked into my friend's apartment on Friday night and we both looked at each other and said "Pizza" at the same time.  I replied back with "Good Pizza."  She said "Via Tribunali."  And she was not mistaken!  This place was very cute, romantic and perfect for an intimate evening with a close friend or a hot date.  The wine we had was some of the best I've ever tasted and the pizza was big, juicy and piping hot.  We almost ordered another one because I think it actually made me hungrier as I gulped down each piece!  Will definitely be back here again!

 Photo Credit: Via Tribunali Facebook

Below is a photo of the "DIAVOLA" pizza with pomodoro, fior di latte, salame piccante, parmigiano, and basil.


Miss Lily's
Jay Z has still failed to invite me when he comes to this place but he is so jazzed about it that I thought I'd try it out.  Usually the wait is close to an hour but we lucked out (it was pretty late on a Saturday so most people were finishing dinner not starting it) and got two seats at the bar.  The place is super funky, small and staffed by a lot of native Jamaicans so you know they know what they're doing.  Right around the time we sat down the DJ showed up and posted up at the bar next to us spinning reggae remixes of popular songs like Gotye.  So chill.

 Photo Credit: Sherri S on

For dinner we started off with the jerk grilled corn with toasted coconut which is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.  It was almost too spicy but the coconut took off the edge.  Can't say I was particularly graceful ripping the kernel off this one.  I never thought I'd find a grilled appetizer that would compare with my jalapeno poppers.  Touche Miss Lily.

Next up where two versions of the jaquitos (three Jamaican style mini tacos).  We went with the ackee and saltfish (traditional Jamaican pairing) and the jerk chicken and avocado.  Ackee is a fruit similar to lychee and saltfish is pretty much like salted cod for those who want to save themselves a google search.  The saltfish tacos were good but a little bland after the corn.  The jerk chicken ones were even more spicy than the corn taking the night and my breath to the next level.  The orange stuff in the little glass cup you see there - HOT HOT HOT.  WATCH OUT.

And the finale - Jerk chicken, slow cooked and grilled, with a marinated cucumber salad.  It was almost too much jerk chicken following the tacos but I still tucked in.  I was already a little full (the tacos and corn and beers would be plenty if you aren't that hungry) but hey it was sitting in front of me.  I personally sneered at the knife and fork and just used my hands :-)

 The curried goat was our other entree and it was fine.  It comes in a Jamaican curry with Irish potatoes.  It's SO rich and kind of bland compared to the other dishes.

Overall I really liked the food although I probably don't need to come back.  Maybe just for beers, corn, music and sangria...

The Local
My friend and I stopped here for lunch on Sunday for something good but quick.  He remarked that it was "snobby" which apparently means small and organic with good coffee and no website haha.  Thanks to the lack of website I've posted the address - 144 Sullivan St (between Houston St & Prince St).  I ordered the Sopressata Sandwich which was simple yet delicious.  The sopressata was clearly grade A and they put plenty of meat and cheese on the sandwich.  A little dressing made it just juicy enough too. 


Dell Anima
I've passed this place a bunch of times but was always cowed by how expensive it was.  But when my friend managed to turn her freelance job into a full time salaried position we had to go somewhere classy to celebrate - for one drink.  So we ended up here and had some delicious wine by the glass.  The bartender was the "shit" and even filled up our glasses a second time for free since we were celebrating.  In exchange we decided to buy an hors d'oeuvres and went with the bruschetta with three types of sauce.  

The three sauces we choose were the Cannellini with preserved lemon and aleppo, the Roasted Red Pepper with smoked almond and pecorino romano and the Rapini Pesto with walnuts and pecorino romano.  The red pepper was by far the best with a hint of spice.  The pesto was up next and the cannellini was last (it was pretty bland).  The bread was fresh and perfectly toasted making it a great accompaniment to the wine.  The main menu also looked incredible but as I'd guessed very expensive... Maybe I'll be back here once I move into my cheaper apartment.

 Photo Credit: Dell Anima Website

I said I'd back and so I did.  This time it was homemade fresh mozzarella with tomato, pepper, and basil salad (decent) and the chicken kebab with marinated tomatoes and cucumber yogurt which was DELICIOUS.  Pissed I didn't order it.  That is definitely the dish I'm ordering next time.  This place continues to amaze me because no matter what dish you order it fills you up and seems light at the same time.  Incredible.

Red Farm
Lastly but certainly not least I FINALLY made it to Red Farm after all the waiting.  I would say that it is NOT worth the two hour wait walk-ins experience but because I came earlier and put our name down for 8:30pm we only had to wait about 15 minutes upon arrival.  The place itself is adorable - you feel like you are sitting inside of a country farmhouse and the food is very good but in my opinion not really worth the price.  Lastly, half the dishes I wanted to eat include oyster sauce which I'm allergic too without substitutions which was kind of a buzz kill - but I survived.

 Photo Credit: Red Farm Website

I ordered the Pan-Fried Lamb Dumplings which I thought would be more like dim sum dumplings so that was a bummer but they were still good.

The Avocado & Mango Summer Rolls were very filling and flavorful but not my favorite.  They almost tasted like sushi?

The Smoked Salmon & Eggplant 'Bruschetta' on the other hand was incredible!  They put a ton of salmon on the toast and I don't know what other herbs/spices they add but I wish I could've eaten nine more of these!  I'd come back just for them!

The Kowloon Filet Mignon Tarts were also exquisite.  Plenty of meat for a bite sized appetizer and it was juicy and soft!

And of course they'd have my all time favorite dessert - Key Lime Pie- which came with a pear sorbet that was icy deliciousness.

As I'd mentioned above I don't think this place is worth half the hype it gets but once it's not "new" anymore I recommend coming here for a nice evening out.


Thank you Work for sending me to Vegas!!  I haven't been here in over a year, maybe two, and it's everything I remembered and more.  It was slightly tamer than my normal trips (sorry folks) but I was able to hit up some AMAZING restaurants and pool parties.

MGM Grand
Stayed here Thursday and Friday night in a beautiful suite (room 1909).  It was huge (especially after living in New York for the past year) and spotless.  There were automatic shades for the windows and the staff could not have been more helpful.  They called three times just to make sure I had everything I needed.  My only issue was the room was pretty dark (not a lot of lighting) and the hot water in the shower took FOREVER.  I took an entire bath while I waited for the shower to heat up.  It was a great bath though!

Then Saturday night I ended up at the Cosmopolitan in a GIANT suite with a wrap around terrace that looked out over the strip and the Marquee Day Club.  This suite was incredible, especially the views from the terrace, however both the phones and the TV stopped working so gonna have to lower my opinion based on the technology.  It also took the repairman 40 minutes to show up.  Bad.

Blue Ribbon Sushi
Thursday night I was CRAVING sushi and it was one of the only places in the Cosmo serving post-11pm that wasn't a diner.  I was starving from the half day at work and plane ride so I DUG.IN.

For starters there was the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno which was delicious but pretty standard.

The grilled Shishito peppers which were some of the best things I have ever tasted.  I don't know what seasoning they put on these but they were perfectly grilled with a little spicy and piping hot.  I ate this entire bowl and was still hungry for more.  I will literally dream about these for years to come.  In fact I'm headed back to Vegas for a bachelorette this weekend and may take a taxi to Cosmo just to get these to go.

Next up where where the "shumai" or homemade pork dumplings.  I thought they were a little chewy and the sauce didn't add much.  Not upset I ordered them but I'd skip them next time.

The "shumai" was followed by smoked pork belly kushi yaki with pickled onions and baby watercress. THAT was delicious.  The pork was perfectly crispy and the watercress had a little dressing to add some sauce and the pickling of the onions added just enough spice to the dish.

Lastly I chowed down on the spicy tuna with tempura flakes and cucumber and the Dragon roll which was eel, avocado and radish sprouts.  Both were very good although when it comes to sushi it all tends to taste the same to me if the fish is fresh.

Marquee Day Club
So my friend had a $750 credit for food and drinks at the day club so we um... made a lot of friends?  The day club is absolutely awesome.  In comparing it to my favorite pool party location, Encore Beach Club, it is much more intimate although that also means it can get CROWDED (see above photo taken from the hotel room terrace).  Luckily since we were there on a Friday afternoon it was popular enough to be fun without being claustrophobic.  You'd have to be pretty drunk on a Saturday to survive the crowd...You MUST order the strawberry mojitos - they are one of the best drinks I think I have ever had.  Also the burger was pretty good as well for a hotel pool!  I would definitely come back.  I had so much fun I slept right through dinner at Scarpetta.  GRR.

Bamboo Pool
Post-shoot I scrambled to the Bamboo Pool at the Cosmopolitan in an attempt to squeeze a few final rays of sun out of my trip.  Unfortunately all the chairs were taken so I ended up on one in the shade.  Oh well.  I was also famished so I ordered the beef sliders and the chicken lettuce cups.  The sliders were good but the usual, but the lettuce cups were incredible.  There was this sweet tropical sauce and the chicken itself wasn't ground up like usual it was full-on chunks of grilled chicken.  It was messy and finger-licking good.  I was SUPER surprised since pool food again is usually terrible.  I would've ordered that in a restaurant! 

Also they have this purple drink that tastes like a raspberry popsicle (I can't remember if it was the mojito or not; I just pointed at what I wanted).  If you can figure out which one it is I highly recommend.  Overall this pool was much more laidback than Marquee which was a welcome change considering how tired I was.  Nap time!

Photo Credit:

Last night in Vegas and I'm exhausted from our shoot this morning for work so I was falling asleep over my meal.  I also for whatever reason had a TERRIBLE stomach ache.  The place has awesome decoration (very Vegas) with molded walls, twinkly lights and cushy booths.  For whatever reason it was 90s DJ night because he was playing just about every song you've ever sung at a karaoke bar.  This resulted in drunk guys getting up and fist pumping in between bites of steak.  It was definitely a show and free haha.

All that being said I still fell in love with this meal and this restaurant. For appetizers, there was the carpaccio and the foie gras french toast.  The carpaccio I could barely even stab with my fork it was so soft.  The cheese and the balsamic dressing made it heavenly.  The foie gras on french toast was sinfully rich, the green apple adding just enough sour to make me gobble it down.

Then for the main courses, we went with the bone-in filet (maintains more flavor that way) with a piece of foie gras on top (extra) and the Colorado lamb chops with olives, artichokes and pomegranate vinaigrette.  The lamb was pretty standard I thought.  Good, but standard.  The filet on the other hand was so juicy and flavorful - I couldn't stop eating it and it wasn't even my dish!  The foie gras was total overkill but my friend loves it and couldn't resist.  Overall, I was so full from stuffing my face we didn't even bother with dessert.  I would 100% eat here again.  God it was good.

After an amazing dinner at STK we wandered downstairs to the infamous Chandelier Bar.  Basically it is a three story bar surrounded by walls of shimmering, glass beads that make you feel like you are literally drinking inside of a giant chandelier.  It's like art exhibit meets drinking venue.  The bottom floor is a little faster pace like a casino bar, the middle section feels like more of a Mad Men cocktail bar and the top floor is more of a waiting lounge type area where you can glimpse down into the meat of the experience.  It was very cool although I thought the drink menu was pretty limited...