NEW YORK CITY Travel Diary

I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, seriously a dream come true. Just like almost every other hopeless romantic in America who in indulges in the rom coms of NYC, this city has been at the top of my bucket list for years and I’m so lucky to have gotten to go on this trip. I fell in love the second I landed in this gorgeous city and can’t wait to share everything from my whirlwind of a trip here in New York City!

DAY 1

I landed at 8:55am after flying all night and barely sleeping an hour, but the buzz and electricity of the city woke me up instantly. It was everything I expected. I dropped my stuff off at my cousins house as quickly as possible and headed into Manhattan from Queens. The metro dropped me off right in between Central Park and The Plaza Hotel, and I was seriously just taken aback by the surrealness of it all as I walked up the stairs of the station. I spent the first couples hours walking up and down Fifth Avenue, walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, grabbed a couple cookies from Insomnia and of course browsed through Saks Fifth Avenue. Lunch was at Sarabeth’s with a friend at Central Park South and we indulged in the most amazing Eggs Benedict’s. To walk it off, we snooped around Time Warner Center and then strolled through Central Park to get to the Upper West Side. And since I was in the neighborhood, I had to make my first visit to Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar (I’m so in awe of her, it’s crazy) to get a little afternoon treat. I tried the much anticipated Cereal Milk Ice Cream (the fruity one) and her famous Corn Cookie…AMAZING. Finally I hopped back on the metro and headed back to Queens in the late afternoon. After 8 hours and 12 miles of walking I was dead but so in love. I stopped by the tiniest Greek place on the way home and picked up a Falafel Schwarma and Spanakopita to take home, put on Gossip Girl and crashed. It was perfect.

DAY 2

My plan was to be up around 8, maybe 8:30, to be out the door early and explore the city. But I guess I was really knocked out because I woke up frantically at 11 and got ready in about 7 minutes to be out the door. I was meeting a few family friends for lunch so hopped on the metro and headed towards Greenwich Village. I walked around a little and was so in-awe of the charm and class of the neighborhood. Although I was headed to lunch, I found the hippest little donut shop, The Donut Pub, and stopped to get a birthday cake donut as a treat for later in the day. I then headed over to Cafe Cluny on a corner in the West Village where we sat and ate pork belly and scrambled eggs, a Thai grain bowl and a seared tuna burger (all amazing!), over the course of a few hours. After lunch, I ventured out towards the Highline and Chelsea. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and made for some beautiful photos. I was slowly falling more and more in love with this city. I didn’t have much time there, but I continued to walk north towards Times Square and Bryant Park. I hit Times Square just as the sun had tucked away behind the buildings and had an out-of-body experience while taking in the (what I consider) magic. That moment had been imagined for so long and I couldn’t believe I was finally there, right in the middle of it. I spent a bit of time walking around and taking pictures and then headed across the street to Bryant Park, another form of beauty in itself, where I met up with my cousin. We had decided on Italian for dinner so took the train back down to Little Italy to Paesanos to have a huge bowl of Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce. It was the cutest little restaurant designed to look like an Italian villa and definitely hit the spot after another full day of exploring. Then it was back on the metro to head home and crash again for the night.

DAY 3

Wednesday might have been the fullest day in NYC, but it was so great. I was up and out the door by 10 and headed down to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was, again, a beautiful day with clear blue skies and the sun beating down which made everything just that much more beautiful. I walked across the bridge, taking in the moment and looking back at the city, and explored Dumbo and Downtown Brooklyn on the other side. With 99 cent pizza being on my food bucket list, I grabbed a couple of slices at a hole-in-the-wall of a store and continued to walk around the funky neighborhood. After a couple of hours of exploring I began back towards the bridge, but had to grab a bagel (another one of my must-haves) at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company. Not knowing what to get, I ordered a poppy seed bagel with blueberry cream cheese and it was the biggest but best bagel I’d ever had in my life hands down. Since I had the whole afternoon and evening to myself, which was the greatest thing ever, I walked up through Tribeca, Soho and Greenwich back to the Highline area, wanting to spend more time there. I also found the BEST ice cream store, Ample Hills Creamery, to get a scoop of gooey butter cake ice cream before moving on. I decided to spend a couple of hours at The Whitney, which was full of modern American art, including a huge Andy Warhol exhibit which was super cool. The museum also has stunning balcony views of the city and overlooking the water. Since Chelsea Market was right next door, and I was starving, I popped in there to look for something to eat. A ton of my friends had recommended the Very Fresh Noodles, so of course that’s what I had to try. The little stall with a few counter seats was packed, but I waited and was served a huge bowl of thick, silky noodles with braised spicy beef, it was amazing. The last couple of things I wanted to do that day was to see Radio City and Rockefeller Center. So I walked back up, through Koreatown, to see the famous Radio City. I had gotten there right as the sun was beginning to hide away, making the large red marquee lights stand out even more. And finally I walked around the corner to Rockefeller Center, another out-of-body experience as I stood there forever realizing how special that moment was. The perfect way to end another long but incredible day in the city. And then it was back home to rest up for the last day of the trip.

DAY 4

I woke up on the last morning feeling so happy and grateful, but also really not wanting to leave the next day. I was up at 8 and out the door not too long after to get the day going. I took the metro into Manhattan and got off around 59th Street and walked down Madison Avenue to the Met. I’d heard so much about how beautiful and grand the Met is and seen so many pictures, but there are seriously no words to explain it until you’re standing right in front of it. It’s honestly just so breathtaking. I spent about 3 hours in the museum and still feel like I only saw 5% of everything, but it was just super cool. By the time I was done there it was about 12:45 and I had the rest of the day to shop! Since I was in New York, I had to visit the Kate Spade flagship store on Madison. It was the most stunning store I’ve ever walked into and I may have picked up a lil NYC themed treat for myself. I then headed over to Fifth Avenue and wandered around, walked into Saks and walked over to both Bloomies and Macy’s to get a few goodies for myself to remember the trip. Another thing on my NYC food bucket list was a pretzel, of course, so I had to grab one from a street vendor. After a full afternoon of shopping, I headed back to Bryan Park to meet my cousin. Once again, the sun was tucked behind the buildings giving the perfect afternoon glow. I was a little bit early so I sat at a table behind the NY Public Library taking in the beauty of the city. It was busy yet oddly calming and I was just so grateful to be there. My cousin and I then headed down to Pizza Beach in the Lower East Side for some good old New York pizza. I had a (large, hehe) pizza with pink vodka sauce, burrata and basil, and it was hands down the best pizza I’d ever had in my life. Since it was my last night, we decided to take the train back up to Times Square to see it all lit up a night. As beautiful as it was during the day, it was even more incredible at night. It was everything and more I ever imagined, in that moment my heart was just to full of gratitude and joy. I then took one last metro ride back home and crashed for an early flight the next morning, dreaming of how magical this city had been.

 

It doesn’t phase me for a second that this life full of traveling and adventures is not something that everyone has. I’m extremely grateful to be able to live this life and I hope that I’m able to give back in some way. New York was incredible and I hope to be back very very soon. I wanted to end this post by sharing a journal entry I wrote on my last evening in the city, it captures everything that this trip meant to me.

“It’s Thursday evening, 6:20pm and the sun hasn’t quite set but is nestled behind the array of buildings. I’m sitting at a table in Bryan Park, the public library behind me, the table full of bags from a day of shopping. I’m exhausted but so in love with this new city. Deciding to come on this trip was the best decision ever. As much anxiety as traveling causes me, I’m so glad I made the journey out to this side of the country and am so glad I was able to spend this week in NYC. This moment helps me remember that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of travel and there’s nothing that brings me more joy and excitement than moments like this.”

See you soon! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 9- Cozy Winter Recipes |2018

Hi everyone and happy day 9! I can’t believe we’re only a week out from Christmas, it’s going by so fast. I hope you’re all enjoying (or looking forward to enjoying) the holiday season with all of your loved ones. Today’s post is going to be two of my favorite cozy recipes for a cold winter evening. First is going to be an updated version of my smoky-ranch meatballs, and second will be my fresh pappardelle pasta with meat sauce. Hope you enjoy these and see you for day 10!

Smokey-Ranch Meatballs:

Ingredients:

Minced beef and pork mix

1 or 2 (depending on amount of meat) packet of ranch seasoning

3 tablespoons liquid smoke

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Good squeeze of ketchup

1/4 cup of spring onions, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

1 jar tomato sauce

Basil and other desired spices.

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Form meat into balls, about 2 tablespoons per meatball, and set aside.
  2. In a pot, heat up the tomato sauce over medium heat and mix with spices.
  3. Get another pan and heat it up with olive oil on high heat. When hot, begin cooking meatballs. Cook until browned, then set aside.
  4. Put meatballs into the pot of tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Right before serving, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover to melt.
  6. Serve hot.

 

Fresh Beetroot Pappardelle with Meat Sauce:

Ingredients:

For the pasta-

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 beetroot

For the sauce-

1 pack of minced beef

3/4 jar of tomato sauce

2 zucchinis, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Basil, chopped

Chilli powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Pecorino cheese

 

Directions:

For the pasta-

  1. Chop the beetroot and put it in a small pan over high heat with a little bit of olive oil and water. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour out liquid into a small bowl and set aside. Use muslin cloth or an old dish towel to squeeze all the liquid (and coloring) out of the beets.
  3. While cooking the beets, put the flour in a large bowl and form a small well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and begin to knead the dough while slowly adding the beed juice. Knead for about 5 minutes.
  4. Once well knead, flour well and pass through a pasta machine (roll it out as thin as it will go).
  5. It’s meant to be a rustic pappardelle, so hand-cut it as thick or thin as you want.
  6. When ready to cook, cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.

For the sauce-

  1. Start by sautéing the meat, onions, zucchini and garlic with a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Once cooked, add the tomato sauce and half of the basil (and any other desired herbs and spices) and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Once pasta is cooked slowly fold it into the sauce.
  4. Serve hot and topped with fresh basil and pecorino cheese.

Happy cooking! xx

Food Adventures #10- Tokyo Eats

Phuket Travel Diary

Living in Singapore, long weekends would typically consist of a quick trip to paradise, Phuket. Going about once a year for a while, it’s become one of our home away from homes. After our last trip, I decided it was finally time to sit down and share all the things I love about Phuket with all of you. I will leave all the links down below and hope you venture out to this little gem of an island in South East Asia!

Hotel:

After staying at a bunch of different hotels and resorts, we finally found our favorite and go-to place to stay: Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. While it is about an hour drive from the airport, the resort sits only ten minutes away from the downtown area (Patong and Karon) making it super easy to get around. The resort is sprawled out over a huge piece of property with it’s own private beach, tennis courts, an amazing spa, two tropical pool, multiple eateries/bars and stunning, comfortable rooms. While the rooms may be a little older than others, they’ve been kept really well and feel modern with a vintage twist. The private beach is only a few steps away from the pool area and are lined with lounge chairs and bean bags, while crystal blue water and really clean sand. They offer a range of water activities from jet skiing to kayaking and surfing. In the middle of the day when you’re looking for a quick bite, you can just head over to Ton Son out by the pool to order anything from Thai to Italian and American. You can also head over there for before-dinner drinks where they offer classic cocktails as well as tropical/Thai cocktails. One of my favorite things at the hotel was the energizing shots they had at breakfast. Every morning they had a couple different kinds to really get your body working and wake you up. My favorite was the watermelon-chili shot which was just to die for. And what’s a trip to the beach without some relaxing time at the spa? Le Spa offers different treatments from massages to scrubs and facials, all beach and tropical themed. Our time at Le Meridien is always made even better by the super friendly and helpful staff. We absolutely LOVE staying at Le Meridien and cannot wait to spend more nights there.

Food:

Like I mentioned above, the food at the hotel is not like any others. It’s very different and authentic, but still really good. However, I love spending time around Patong and Karon exploring other places to have meals. One of our all time favorites is Eat. Bar & Grill in Karon. Priding themselves on incredible service and hearty, rustic food, the little bar/restaurant serves burgers, steaks and other unique dishes. After going there four times over our past two trips, I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there. Some that I would recommend are the burger and fries, the chateaubriand (steak), the beef tartare, the lobster cappuccino, and most importantly the mojito bucket (5 servings of a mojito in one big bucket, photo below). This year we also went to Baan Rim Pa, which is one of the only “fine dining” restaurants in Phuket serving authentic Thai food. We had the chicken and crab Thai dumplings, grilled eggplant salad, minced pork with noodle crackers, green curry with chicken and stir-fried morning glory, and a really good passion fruit mojito. The food was all really good and some of the best Thai food I’d ever had (and I’ve had a lot of Thai food). Other than those two places, we also love going to different seafood restaurants along the water front and trying different dishes. As most of you know, my family LOVES food and one reason we love going back to Phuket so often is because of the huge variety of amazing restaurants to chose from.

Getting Around:

While you can have your hotel arrange a car/transport for you, one way I love to get around is by taking a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is motorcycle powered vehicle with seating for passengers attached to it. They’re commonly found around South East Asia and are open air. I love driving back to our hotel at night after dinner with the wind blowing through my hair and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore in the background. Depending on where you flag one down, a 10-15 minute drive can be anywhere from 10-12 SGD, which may seem a bit pricy but is normally much less than having your hotel arrange transport for you. If you are around Patong or Kata beach, it’s really easy to walk around. Whether you’re beach hopping or looking around the market, I always say that walking around is one of the best ways to explore a new destination. And the excitement of Phuket nightlife makes the evening a lot more fun and interesting.

What I Wore:

When I go to the beach, my absolute must-have is a ton of bikinis. I love mixing solids with solids and solids with prints from different brands. Some of my favorites for bikinis are Cotton On, Victoria’s Secret (now Pink), She In and Hollister (and Jolyn for suits that won’t budge). I don’t like wearing the same suit more than once a trip (I know, I’m a snob), so I love having variety in my suitcase. In addition to suits, I wear all different kinds of cover-ups and summery rompers and dresses that work at both the beach and a casual meal out. For sunglasses, I personally don’t love wearing nice/high-end glasses at the beach because I love spending time in the water and body surfing waves so I’m always paranoid that I’m going to lose a nice pair. I typically have a couple cheap pairs of Cotton On sunglasses that are perfect for the setting and look bomb in all those insta photos. For a more in-depth look, check out my summer beauty post (linked below)!

I always love a good beach getaway, and Phuket is the perfect destination for a stress-free and relaxing weekend away. Have you been to Phuket? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do there? If you haven’t what’s your favorite beach getaway destination? Comment down below!

I hope you all enjoyed this post, and I will talk to you soon!

Hotel:

Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort

Restaurants:

Eat. Bar & Grill

Baan Rim Pa

Airline:

Scoot

Other:

My Summer Beauty Post

Food Adventure #9

Food Adventures #8

Top 10 Places to Eat in Singapore

Heading to Singapore soon? Looking for places to eat? Don’t worry, I got you covered. Today I’m going to share my top 10 places to eat in Singapore! Looking for more than food, check out my Mega Guide to Singapore linked down below. Happy eating!

1. Kaya Toast- One of Singapore’s most iconic foods, kaya toast stores can be found all around the city making for an easy, inexpensive and delicious breakfast before a day out on the town.

Website: http://yakun.com/

Address: All around the city

Pricing: $

2. P.S. Cafe- One of our go-to brunch spots, PS Cafe has a huge variety of western and Asian brunch and dinner options. A few of my favorites are the king prawn spaghetti, the turkey cranberry sandwich and their famous truffle fries (a huge plate, so make sure to share!). While they have a few locations around the country, the one at Palais Renaissance has the most chill and down-to-earth atmosphere.

Website: https://www.pscafe.com/pscafe-at-palais-renaissance/

Address: 390 Orchard Road, Palais Renaissance, Singapore 238871

Pricing: $$

3. Crystal Jade Palace- There’s lot’s of options for dim sum all over, but one of my favorites is Crystal Jade Palace for Sunday lunch. The food is super flavorful and authentic with a huge variety of dishes.  Some favorites are the stir fried carrot cake with XO sauce, Teochew dumplings and deep fried yam puffs.

Website: https://www.crystaljade.com/palace/

Address: 391 Orchard Road, #04-19, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore, Singapore 238872

Pricing: $$

4. Dallas Restaurants & Bar- I found this place when I was out with some friends last month, and it’s my new favorite bar. The drinks are $14 during regular hours, and $12 during happy hour (and they’re generous servings). To top it off, the bar has a beautiful view of the business district (located at the Marina Bar Sands along the water), and the lights of the city are beautiful at night.

Website: http://www.dallas.sg/

Address:2 Bayfront Ave, #01-85, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018972

Pricing: $ (as far as drinks go)

5. db Bistro- We’ve been to this restaurant at the Marina Bay Sands twice now, and it was amazing both times. The cured tuna sandwich and the moules frites were some of our favorites. It’s on the pricier side, but generous servings and perfect for a nicer lunch or dinner out.

Website: https://www.dbbistro.com/singapore/

Address: 2 Bayfront Avenue, B1-48, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956

Pricing: $$$

6. Coffee Academics- Another favorite brunch spot, right in downtown Orchard. It’s a huge space with lots of different tables and seating, so it works for groups of any size. Some of my favorites are the acai bowl and the mac&cheese. The coffee is super good as well!

Website: https://www.the-coffeeacademics.com/

Address: Scotts Square, #02-01/02, Scotts Square,, 6 Scotts Road, Singapore 228209

Pricing: $$

7. Wine Connection- A family favorite for dinner. Their variety of cheeses and wine is incredible, and they’re all amazing. We love doing cheese board so we get to choose the cheeses and meats we want. The salad and tartines are also so good. Some of our favorites are the comte cheese, the cheese and mushroom and pan con tomate tartines and all the salads.

Website: https://www.wineconnection.com.sg/

Address: 11 Unity Street, #01-19/20 , Robertson Walk, Singapore 237995

Pricing: $$ (without wine), $$$ (with wine)

8. Imperial Treasure Steamboat- This place has quickly become one of our favorites, a place we bring all our guests and visitors too. The soup is a pork bone base, and adding all of the meat, dumplings and veggies  makes it delicious. But the best part is the tray of 16 different condiments (including chili, garlic, spring onions, sesame sauce, peanut sauce and so much more) to make the dipping sauce.

Website: http://www.imperialtreasure.com/restaurant/Imperial%20Treasure%20Steamboat%20Restaurant-10

Address: 2 Orchard Turn, #04-09/10 Ion Orchard, Singapore 238801

Pricing: $$

9. Ka Soh- This place in the business district of Singapore is known for it’s fish bee hoon (I personally am not a huge fan), but all of their other food is just as worthy of being known. There’s nothing fancy about it, just hearty, down-to-earth Singapore food with Taiwanese influence. The stir-fried kway teow was SO good, we’ve been back a few times already and love it every time. There are a few funky bars on the same road, and it’s just a 10 minute walk from Clarke Quay so it’s perfect for a night out.

Website: https://ka-soh.com.sg/

Address: 96 Amoy St, Singapore 069916

Pricing: $

10. Lantern- This is definitely not a place I would go all the time (on the pricey side), but for sure on special occasions. The restaurant/bar surrounds a pool and overlooks the Marina Bay Sands, sitting right on the water side. The drinks and the food are both amazing, but pairing that with the beautiful view just puts it over the top.

Website: https://www.fullertonhotels.com/the-fullerton-bay-hotel/lantern-rooftop-bar.html

Address: 80 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049326

Pricing: $$ (food), $$$ (drinks)

‘Mega Guide to Singapore’ Post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/11/16/top-10-things-to-do-in-singapore/

Food Adventures #7- Back in SG!

JANE- Brunching in LA

If you can’t already tell, there aren’t many things that bring me more joy than finding a REALLY good place to eat. This morning my friends and I were on a hunt for some Sunday morning brunch. We drove by all of our go-to places only to find never ending lines at all of them. After starting to get hangry (you know it’s a real thing), we quickly searched for breakfast places near us and found Jane on York Blvd in LA. Driving past it, we couldn’t even tell it was a restaurant. The cute little yellow house with a sprawling patio (for seating) was packed, but we decided it was still worth the wait. Their menu was full of enticing options, including different kinds of omelettes, sandwiches and salads. My two friends decided on the breakfast quesadilla with a side of morning potatoes and Arnold Palmers, and I ordered the breakfast sandwich with a vanilla cold brew. Once we ordered we went out to the patio to grab a table in the sun. The purple flowers and little garden just made everything that much more aesthetic (because do it for the insta, right?). Jane was packed with groups of friends, families and couples with their dogs (so cute!!) and was the perfect atmosphere for a low-key Sunday brunch. At around $15 each, we all agreed that Jane is a new go-to and favorite. The portions were extremely generous and the food was delicious. I highly recommend Jane if you are in the LA area and looking for a really yummy brunch! If you try it out, let me know in the comments below.

Website: http://www.janeonyork.com/

Address: 5830 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Phone: (323) 675-1093

Price: $$

Food Adventures #6

Got my Singaporean fix from QQ Kopitiam in Pasadena. The Laksa was super authentic and delicious, just like it would be at home! It was a really generous serving for a super reasonable price (two main dishes and one bubble tea was $21 with tax).

Website: https://www.yelp.com/biz/qq-kopitiam-pasadena

Pricing: $

I know I may be a little late to hop on the bandwagon, but I am beyond obsessed with Halo Top. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Halo Top is an extremely low calorie, high protein ice cream (not that you can tell, it’s amazing!). The calories range from 240-360 calories depending on the flavor, so one serving is never more than 90 calories. A few of my favorite flavors are Birthday Cake, Sea Salt Caramel and Mint Chip.

Website: https://www.halotop.com/

Pricing: $4-5

This beautiful spread is from the Granville at the Americana in Glendale. They have a menu full of modern yet homey dishes that are absolutely delicious! This was the bacon & blue burger with a side salad, the Santa Barbara chicken sandwich, a side of sweet potato fries and the uptown mac & cheese. I would also highly recommend the chicken and blue flatbread (not pictures). A perfect stop for lunch or dinner during a day of shopping!

Website: http://www.granvillecafe.com/glendale

Pricing: $$

*As seen on BuzzFeed* Sushi Stop is a super affordable (and yummy) location in Pasadena (they have other locations too). At $3.25 for most of their dishes, it’s hard to spend more than $16 a person (and that’s if you are eating A LOT). Ranging from sashimi sushi to baked rolls to udon and tempura, they have everything you would ever want. To be honest, after eating so mush sushi in Japan, I was a little skeptical of this, but it did not disappoint!

Website: https://sushistop.com/location/sushistop-pasadena/

BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/stevenlim/we-tried-3-sushi-and-250-sushi-to-see-if-its-worth-the-price?utm_term=.roOxJedpE#.wulLQNqV0

Pricing: $

Just throwing this in here because I miss Disneyland. A beautiful mickey mouse-shaped beignet (and some Mint Juleps) from New Orleans Square at Disney.

One of my favorite things about living in LA is finding all the small (what I like to call) hidden gems of the city. Gloria’s Cafe is a small Mexican-inspired breakfast/brunch restaurant tucked away in the back streets of Highland Park. Pictured above is the savory waffle (amazing!) and the breakfast taco. I would also highly recommend their breakfast sandwich which comes on a burger bun with pulled pork and scrambled eggs. For a main dish and (a big a**) iced coffee, I usually pay $14 (including tax and tip).

Website: http://glorias-cafe.com/

Pricing: $$

Where should I go next? Comment your favorite LA spots down below! And if you try one of these places, let me know what you think:)