Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce

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You know you’re an adult when you make plans to go to Bed Bath & Beyond after work to buy a vegetable spiralizer. I finally purchased my very own Spirooli Spiral Slicer a few days ago, and as soon as I got home, I immediately started researching spiralizer recipes. I couldn’t wait to use my shiny new toy.

Continue reading “Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce”

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Day 2: Lady Liberty, Vodka Shots with Pickle Chasers, and That One Time We Traveled from Ukraine to Paris in Two Minutes

Day 2: Sunday, January 11, 2015

When creating the itinerary for this New York City trip, I tried my hardest to plan our days conquering one section/neighborhood of the city at a time. For our second day, our target was Lower Manhattan.

The New York City subway system is by far the most intricate subway system I’ve ever encountered. Their map looks like spaghetti! So many trains and subways going in all directions. In fact, they have so many that they had to use alphabets AND numbers to name them. Los Angeles’ subway system is nothing but mere fart to New York’s.

With the island of Manhattan only being 13.4 miles long, the subway is one of the most convenient, fastest, and cheapest mode of transportation to get around the city. The fare for one subway ride alone is $2.50. My friends and I knew that this will quickly add up considering our vacation was 10 days long, so one of the most important things we researched prior to our trip was to find a way to minimize our expenses as much as possible.

Perhaps one of the best things we spent our money on while in New York was a 7-day Unlimited Metrocard. The Unlimited Pass was a total of $31.00 ($30.00 for the pass and $1.00 for the Metrocard). It’s valid for 7 days and can literally be used in any subway or train, unlimitedly. This not only saved us so much money, but time as well! We didn’t have to constantly buy one-way tickets every time we entered a subway station. Instead, all we had to do was swipe the card at the turnstiles.

Another purchase that I highly recommend is the New York CityPass! The cost is $109 for adults, and it includes admission to 6 tourist attractions and landmarks all throughout the city.

For our second day at the city, our first stop of the day was Lady Liberty herself. Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to take one subway (Subway 1, Red) all the way to Battery Park, which is located at the southern most tip of Manhattan.

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The beautiful Battery Park

We purchased our CityPasses in advanced, and we traded our email vouchers for the actual booklets at the ticket window in Battery Park. For our first attraction, we had a choice between Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. This was a no-brainer.

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First stop of the day!
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Our middle school selves would be so proud!

The ferry itself was only a 20-minute ride away. Our CityPass gave us admission to the ferry and to Liberty Island. It did not include entry to Lady Liberty’s crown, but we didn’t really think it was necessary.

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[J]ustine, [A]drie, [D]ianne, [E]meline, [N]ikki = JADEN
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Bow down, bitches.
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Group selfie (groufie?) with Lady Liberty!

We returned to the mainland after lunch. Financial District was only walking distance, so we took pictures with the famous Charging Bull!

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Other notable attractions in the Financial District are the famous Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

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My friends and I wanted to truly experience New York City’s food scene and not just dine at the famous eateries, so we decided to grab lunch at Korchma Taras Bulba in SoHo, which was a short cab ride away.

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I discovered Korchma Taras Bulba after it was recommended by one of my favorite New York-based blogger, LoveTaza. The place offered Ukrainian cuisine, and it was unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to in L.A.

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Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences we had at Korchma Taras Bulba happened during on our way out of place. Prior to our departure, one of the friendly servers stopped us and asked if we were willing to partake in a very Ukrainian tradition — which is taking a shot of vodka, with a chunk of pickle as chaser (all complementary by the way).

My friends and I were all in the same open-minded mentality to try new things and new experiences while in the city, so we were definitely willing! Vodka shot, pickle chaser? Count us in! We cheered and toasted and it was by far one of the coolest ways I’ve ever left a restaurant. It immediately created a stronger bond between my friends and I, reaffirming a sense of camaraderie that we are all in this gritty and loud and exciting city of New York together.

For dessert, we transported ourselves from Ukraine to Paris in two minutes as the legendary Maison du Macaron, Ladurée, was only one block away!

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Eenie meenie miney moe!

As a person, my sweet-tooth is unparalleled. I love love love love sweets! Ice creams, chocolate, cakes, pies, give ’em to me! However, macarons for me have slowly been one of those desserts which I really stopped craving. For one, they’re expensive, ranging from $1.00 per cookie to almost $3.00. Secondly, known as the “world’s most impossible cookie,” French macarons are very very difficult to perfect. It’s very common for me to find a macaron that’s too sweet or too chewy or something else. I always find something quite not right. Which is why I initially entered Ladurée with very very low expectations. Of course, I’ve heard of Ladurée before, but I was still hesitant to believe that their fame as actually earned and legitimate. For all I know, they’re simply overhyped and their macarons overrated.

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$21.00 for a box of six! Ridic, but worth the splurge!

My god, was I wrong. Very very very wrong. Ladurée macarons are by far THE BEST macarons I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Ever. Ever had. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. They run at $2.80 a pop, which I admit is a bit on the pricey side, but mother of all things holy, they are absolutely divine. Gahhh, my mouth is salivating just by the mere thought. I recall having one of those moments where upon having my first bite of the salt caramel, my eyes instantly widened as my confused tongue processed the gloriousness occurring in my mouth. They’re not overtly sweet, so it’s beyond easy to consume 10, 20, even 30 in one sitting! They’re truly an indulgence that I believe everyone should have and deserve to have every once in a while. When I die, I want a handful of Ladurée macarons in my mouth, please.

The night was young when we left Ladurée. We didn’t want to waste time being in the city and head home so early, so we decided to see Grand Central Terminal. We originally planned to see the place on a different day, but we figured we might as well cross it off the list now since we have the extra time allowance.

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There’s something so romantic I find about Grand Central Terminal, or train stations in general. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that train travel is a much older form of travel than airplanes, so it echoes more history of goodbyes and reunions, tears and kisses, from individuals from all over the world.

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Don’t wait to realize you should not have waited.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for day 3!

Love,
Anicka “unpaid Ladurée endorser” Nadine


Korchma Taras Bulba
357 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
T: 212.510.7510
www.tarasbulba.us

Laduée, SoHo
398 West Broadway
New York, New York 10012
T: 646.392.7868
www.ladureeus.com

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

 

Catalina Dreamin’

After 14 years of living in Southern California, I can finally say I’ve visited Catalina Island! There are a number of reasons why it took so long for me to explore this charming island merely a one hour ferry-ride away from mainland California, but at this point it doesn’t matter anymore.

We spent two days and one night on the island, which was more than enough for our purposes. We arrived early Saturday morning at the Long Beach port and rode the Catalina Express.

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I must say, even with a strong stomach like mine, I found the ferry ride quite uncomfortable. The open water was so rough and wavy that I constantly felt my stomach dropping! Wave after wave after wave slammed against our vessel, making it difficult to even stand up.

Nevertheless, the ride was worth it because it felt like arriving to paradise once we docked in Avalon. We definitely got lucky escaping the gloomy and foggy weather back in the mainland!

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Upon arrival, we immediately checked in at our hotel, The Catalina Island Inn, which is conveniently located in the heart of their main town center. I highly recommend staying here! Our room was clean and updated, and the staff were extremely helpful. Plus, the location is unbeatable, only a 5-minute walk from the ferry port.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Their main town square was incredibly charming. It had Santa Barbara’s beach town vibe! It completely felt like we were way farther from Los Angeles than we actually were.

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We spent the next few hours relaxing [and dodging seagulls] at the beautiful Descanso Beach Club. The weather was a bit on the chilly side and the sun came out of the clouds sporadically, so getting in the water was out of the question.

“Daughters [& Son] of Anarchy”

Next item on the itinerary was biking! There were a few rental areas, and we scored ours for only $8 per hour! We stayed primarily in the main town since the rest of the island had steep inclines! Nevertheless, it was a fun and relaxing way to explore more of Catalina Island. Through biking, we discovered that they pretty much only have one of everything: one school (from K-12), one church, one hospital, one fire station, one gasoline station ($6.20 per gallon gas yo!) and such. We were definitely NOT in Los Angeles anymore.

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Sunday was spent relaxing as well as more biking! My friends and I dined at Bluewater Grill, a restaurant overlooking the ocean. It was only fitting we devour shrimp tacos and fish and chips!

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After lunch, we toured the island like locals — with golf carts! We managed to rent a 6-seater for a few hours, allowing us go up the hills and see the island from up high.

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We ridin' dirrrrrty..
We ridin’ dirrrrrty..

We cruised all over the island, waving and saying “Hi!” and “Hello” to every one we encounter: pedestrians, other tourists, locals playing golf… and surprisingly, everyone waved back! They were so friendly. We even waved at the captain of the submarine (pictured above). He not only waved back at us, but even honked the submarine!

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We eventually reached the top of the hill overlooking Catalina. The view was beautiful!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetAfter riding the golf carts, we decided to rent bikes again since we had a blast biking around the town the day before.

I definitely recommend Catalina Island for a weekend getaway for those who want to disconnect and unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life in the mainland. I am most definitely coming back!

Click play below to watch our video diary. Make sure to watch in HD!

Love,
Anicka Nadine