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

 

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

French Crêpes

Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home almost a year ago, I’ve  started a tradition with my family to make French crêpes every Sunday I spend with them.

I’ve tested multiple recipes of crêpe batters in the past, but over time, I’ve come to learn that the simpler the recipe, the better. By far my most favorite is Alton Brown’s version from the Food Network.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extra
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (for Sweet Variation)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (for Savory Variation)

Directions:

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar) and wet ingredients (milk, eggs, water, vanilla extract, melted butter) in two separate bowls.

2. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry. Make sure to whisk thoroughly to smooth out the lumps.

3. Place batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour to let the bubbles settle, which will keep the crepes less likely to tear while cooking.

4. Heat a non-stick pan on low heat. Add butter to coat. Pour the batter, starting at the center. Then, swirl the pan around to spread evenly and smoothly.

5. Cook for 1 -2 minutes. Once all the liquid has solidified, flip to the other side. Cook for another 30 seconds. Then, remove from the pan and lay it out flat.

6. 90% of the time, I make sweet crepes.  However, they’re versatile enough that they can also be eaten with savory toppings, such as ham, avocados, tomatoes, spinach, etc. For today, we’ll stick with the basics and fill them with my favorites: Nutella, strawberries, and bananas!

Depending on the size of the strawberries, I either cut them in halves or quarters. The key is to keep them bite-size!

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7. Fold in half or thirds. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bon appétit!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

Obsession Du Jour: Aux Merveilleux d’Etty!

Last Monday, in order to kill time for the hour-long wait at Sugarfish, my date and I decided to walk around Beverly Hills and sight-see. It wasn’t long until we came across the classiest French bakery, Le Mervetty.

The décor was incredibly elegant yet minimalistic. Ultra white walls, modern metallic seating, and an eccentric light fixture greet customers upon entering. Mini Eiffel Tower sculptures, a huge portrait of Marie Antoinette (and her famous quote, “Let them eat cake!”), and black tutu aprons worn by the staff  give the boutique a Parisian Victorian era with a modern upscale twist.

Although the merveilleux is what the shop is known for, Le Mervetty also offers a variety of French macaroons as well as coffee to complement the sweet pastries.

Pastry chef and owner of Le Mervetty, Etty Benhamou, welcomed us with her warm smile as soon as we walked in. She was incredibly friendly and accommodating, giving us free samples while patiently answering our questions about what exactly a “merveilleux” is (a French confection of puffy meringue and whipped cream coated with chocolate shavings or crumbled speculoos). Or, as I’d like to call it, magic cloud cakes!

Petit merveilleux!

At $5.50 a pop of the grand merveilleux, the magic cloud cakes were a little on the pricey side. Yet, as always, my sweet tooth got the best of me. Plus, I’m a firm believer in dessert before dinner.

Nutella Merveilleux!

True to nature, I chose the Nutella Merveilleux. It was heavenly! It was delicate and soft and airy yet rich and decadent at the same time! Sweet but not too sweet! The magic cloud cake crumbled immediately after the first cut, which I expected considering it was a mountain of meringue and whipped cream. It was quite messy to eat (as seen on the picture below), yet it was too delicious for me to notice. We practically licked the plate off.

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I am most definitely going to come back and try other flavors!

Love,
Anicka Nadine


 

Le Mervetty
319 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
T: 310.804.9409
www.lemervetty.com