Day 1: New York City

Day 1: January 10, 2015

My first visit to New York City was March of 2013 as part of my parents’ college graduation gift for me. I recall taking my very last final by myself at UCLA inside my Geography professor’s office on Friday and jetted off immediately the following Saturday morning. New York City instantly stole my heart, and I remember promising myself that I will return as soon as I can.

Little did I know it will take nearly two years to do so. Last month, I spent ten amazing days in my favorite city with my favorite people as part of my 24th birthday celebration. It was my first time traveling with a big group of friends instead of family, and it was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

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We took an early flight out of LAX, arriving late-afternoon at JFK International Airport. We were a group of seven, so we split between two hotels which were two blocks apart in Manhattan’s Midtown area. The place I stayed at with a few of my girlfriends was an apartment-style hotel located on 38th Street and 6th Avenue called Ten15NYC.

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Ten15NYC is not your typical hotel. It’s apartment-style, so we had our own full-functioning kitchen, dining and living room. We stayed at a one-bedroom, which consisted of one queen size bed and a pull-out sofa bed. The building  is literally tucked in between a mini supermarket and a dumpling house, totally obscured from the street. There are only four floors, the second of which is a nail salon. There are no lobbies, so “checking in” was super informal as it was nothing more than our friendly hotel manager welcoming us in our room, handing us three sets of keys and giving us a tour.

Ten15NYC became our home away from home. Our apartment had hardwood floors and brick walls, which totally exuded the New York City apartment vibe, completely making us feel like true New Yorkers. The place was very clean when we arrived and all the furniture and finishings were modern and updated. The only downsides are:

a) There were no elevators!

Apparently, it is not required by law in New York for buildings less than six stories high to have an elevator. We learned that lesson the hard way as all of us girls each brought 50-lbs carry-on luggages (on top of our carry-ons), all of which we had to carry four. flights. of stairs. It was a total team effort, and we were beyond out of breath at the end of it. I’m sure we gained 5 lbs of muscle after that ordeal alone.

b) The overhead shower was bipolar.

It literally took us fifteen minutes every morning just to find the perfect water temperature. Just a little tweak, the water became either too hot or too cold. We wasted so much water and time trying to make the shower function properly.

All my girlfriends and I agreed that we wanted to spend our first night dining at a fancy restaurant to celebrate ourselves for making the trip happen as well as to commemorate my 24th birthday. Lucky for us, we were able to make reservations at a Michelin-star Italian restaurant merely two blocks away from our hotel, Ai Fiori.

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We all dressed up for the occasion, and I couldn’t be more proud to be in the company of such an amazing group of friends.

Ai Fiori was elegant and refined, which was exactly the ambiance we were looking for. Since it was my birthday dinner, I spared no expense spoiling myself. Life is too short to not eat well after all.

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Torchon: foie gras au naturel, seckel pear, pecans, 25 yr. balsamic
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Astice: butter poached nova scotia butter, carrots, rutabaga, chateau chalon sauce
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Tagliata: prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine, “cacio e pepe, ” balsamico, bordelaise
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Tartaletta: Loma Sotavento 72% ganache, chocolate chibust, tiramisu gelato
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Mille Feuille: dark chocolate, hazelnut praline, fior di latte gelato

After dinner, we took a cab to Times Square! Cue Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York.”

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Man, it was F R E E Z I N G. I am pretty sure the temperature was in the single-digits that night. It was so cold I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Times Square that bare and empty before.

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Watch our selfie video below! We were all so happy and excited to finally be in New York City, after months and months of planning and waiting!

Thanks for reading and watching! Stay tuned for more!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

 

Pasta Primavera [Recipe]

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Every time I attend some sort of potluck, my go-to food to bring is my Pasta Primavera, and without fail, it’s a guaranteed hit. The recipe is original, and what’s great about it is it’s a one-stop shop at your local neighborhood Trader Joe’s!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of Farfalle (or any bite-size) pasta
  • 1 jar/box of heavy cream (16 fl oz)
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s julienne sliced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 box of mushrooms (about 8 oz)
  • 1 package of uncooked bacon (12 oz)
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 large onion (or 2 medium)

DIRECTIONS:

1) First order of business is to cut the two heads of garlic in half. Do NOT remove the skin. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in tin foil and broil for one solid hour.
*It is very important to broil the garlic. Cutting a corner and using regular unroasted garlic will alter the overall taste.

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2) In the meantime, cut the bacon in thin slices and sauteé until it cries and sweat its grease. When the bacon turns crispy, set aside in a bowl. Do not discard the leftover bacon grease.

Slice the onions in small cubes and mushrooms in thin slices as well.

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3) Remove the roasted garlic from the oven. Let the garlic cool then carefully separate the flesh from the skin. Mash the garlic with a fork.

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4) Using a large pan, sautêe the mashed garlic in the leftover bacon grease in low heat. Slowly add the onions. Sweat out the onions and let it marry with the garlic and bacon grease. Add the mushrooms and julienne sliced sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the heavy cream. If the sauce is too thick, make the consistency thinner by adding pasta water or regular milk.

Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

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5) Cook pasta until al dente and combine with the sauce.

 

 

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Buon apettito!

Love,
Anicka “Italian in my past life” Nadine

Friendsgiving at Bachi Burger

My best girlfriends and I had our first Friendsgiving last night. Our decision to meet-up was too last-minute for us to plan a potluck. Instead, we headed to the newly-opened Bachi Burger on Sawtelle Boulevard in the Little Osaka district.

I first heard of Bachi in Las Vegas, which is a popular burger joint for tourists and locals alike. I wasn’t able to try their gourmet burgers during my trip to the Sin City last September, so I was excited that they were able to branch out to Southern California.

We arrived a little after 7PM, which was pre-dinner rush and were lucky enough to be seated immediately despite being a group of five.

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90% of the tables in Bachi Burger have the Ox Tail Chili Fries, so we knew we had to order one for ourselves too! The fries themselves are pretty generic, but the chili was divine. It’s chunky, meaty, and a little sweet!

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Because of their above-average burgers, four of my friends shared two:

1) The Ronin Burger – Angus Beef, Caramelized Onions, Japanese Cole Slaw, Miso Goma Dressing, Fried Egg, Katsu BBQ, Yuzu Citrus Aioli

2) Miyagi-San’s Wagyu Burger: Chili Mayo, Fried Egg, Furikake, Caramelized Bacon, Crispy Onion Rings

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My stomach demanded a little more, so I devoured The Mr. Ho’s Burger on my own, which comprises of Angus beef, pork, garlic, ginger, sautéed mushrooms, Lup Cheong sausage, mizuna lettuce on a taro bun.

The burger was oh so tender, a perfect medium cook. All the toppings complemented each other beautifully, and the taro bun was soft and sweet and fresh.

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Dessert was found only two blocks away from Bachi Burger, at Mapaya Creperie. It’s a cozy little hole-in-the-wall Japanese crêpe shop along Olympic Boulevard owned by sweetest old man. The crêpes are made to order and customizable. Customers can pick and choose the type of ice cream they wish as well as the kinds of sauces, fruits, and toppings.

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I love them all to pieces, and I cannot wait until our trip to New York City this January!

#JADENtakeNYC2015

Love,
Anicka “I like big buns” Nadine


Bachi Burger
2030 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
T: 424.832.3018
www.bachiburger.com

Mapaya
11301 Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
T: 310.237.8155
Mapaya on Yelp! 

Salt & Straw

One of the perks of being an adult is finally having the funds do what everything you’ve always wanted to as a kid. In my case, eat as much ice cream as I want. Perhaps it comes with age, but typical ice cream flavors like strawberry, vanilla, or rocky road in typical ice cream shops like Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery are no longer sufficient for my “sophisticated” adult taste buds.

When it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth, ice cream will always be my go-to dessert. One ice cream shop that has instantly become a favorite of mine is the newly-opened Salt & Straw in Los Angeles’ Larchmont Village.

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Originally a Portland establishment, Salt & Straw recently made its way to Southern California, opening their doors for the first time in early September, thus making countless Angelenos who can’t easily fly to Portland (i.e.: me) very very happy.

A good friend of mine, Justine, and I first visited the store on a Wednesday night and were lucky enough to arrive before the crowd, which can easily trail out the door. The decor itself was charming and quaint, and the design subtly intertwined the old-fashioned (menu board written in chalk) with the modern (iPad registers).

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To say that Salt & Straw’s menu is adventurous would be an understatement. Where else would I find unique flavors such as Tomato Water Ojai Olive Oil or Black Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese?

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A notable flavor is the black olive brittle and goat cheese, which tastes just like goat cheese mixed with cold cream. The flavor can be quite intense for those who aren’t fans of cheeses like goat cheese or gorgonzola, but I remember liking it and not exactly know why I like it. I couldn’t really verbalize what made it taste good in my tongue… I just knew it did, and I knew better not to question it.

And for the most part, that’s exactly what their ice cream is all about. The flavors are distinct and unique and initially intimidating to be honest, but once you stop your brain from questioning the compatibility of avocados and strawberries or black olives and goat cheeses, you just know they’re good as soon as you try them. In some odd twisted unexplainable way, the flavors work, and the next thing you know you’re secretly whispering to yourself, “Damn, that’s good!” after every bite.

What’s exciting about Salt & Straw is customers can try as many sample ice creams as they wish before making a decision. Justine, who is as big of an ice cream enthusiast as I am, and I leaped out of our comfort zones and sampled 10 different flavors before narrowing down to 4 (see above). Our favorites include Sea Salt & Caramel Ribbons, Stumptown Coffee, Toasted Coconut with Candied Macadamia Nuts, and Sweet Corn.

Salt & Straw is easily one of best ice cream shops in Los Angeles. Easily. With a number of both rare and classic flavors to choose from, Salt & Straw has something to offer to anyone willing to give their taste buds an adventure.

Must go back soon!

Love,
Anicka “screaming for ice cream” Nadine


Salt & Straw
240 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
T: 323.466.0485
www.saltandstraw.com