Thursday, January 27, 2011

100 Miles to Philly, Then Back to New York

Having grown up in Philadelphia I always loved my wonderful city of “Brotherly Love”. The historical aspect of Philadelphia has kept it booming with tourists, night life, and culinary excellence, although the high rate of violence is something not worth mentioning.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point in high school I decided that I should move on to a bigger and better city life, so I was set on New York. I wanted to become a city sage.

Having lived in Manhattan for a couple years now, many times I feel a great divide. When I’m home, I’m longing for the streets of New York and the hustle and bustle that drove me there. Yet sometimes, when I’m walking down those very same streets there is a part of me that is homesick for the simplicity of my suburban dwellings in the outskirts of Philadelphia. While in New York I can get up close and personal with Diane von Furstenberg, but only back home can I peek out my window to see my dad lounging in our pool. Sometimes home is simply where the heart is.

A View From a Window

A View From a Patio

My Dad vs. DVF, who is truly haute couture?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Last summer I finally made it out to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with my friend Sukhie to visit our good friend Jimmy. We stayed for the weekend and spent our days exploring the college campus, the local town, and the infamous gorges. While the scenery was undeniably beautiful and the air was fresh and crisp, I couldn’t help but start longing for city life after a few days.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

A t-cup to match my t-shirt
I recently came across this blue sparkly sweater that my mom was planning on throwing out. It was hers from years ago (perhaps even decades) and I always loved the crisp blue color and the sheen from the interwoven sparkly thread. I decided to salvage the sweater and had my mom wash it in hot water and dry it in the hopes that it would shrink.

I love the look of the sweater, how it is both casual since it is a bit loose and baggy, but also a little dressed up from the sparkle. I wore this to my first day back to class after winter break and paired it with jeans and a comfy white cardigan on top. On a cold Manhattan day that had a low of 7° I needed to keep warm but also stand out on my first day back.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Kid On The Block, Barbuzzo

Bringing to life a Valentino silk scarf for the night
Last weekend Alex and I drove into Philadelphia to try the new restaurant Barbuzzo. Craig LaBan’s review did us in, and the mouthwatering pictures kept us there. Do not venture into this restaurant without a reservation. We walked into heaps of people waiting for a table or bar space and I immediately noted how narrow, yet cozy, the restaurant was. Luckily (since Alex takes his culinary adventures seriously) we had reservations and were quickly seated. We barely looked at the menu because we knew exactly what we wanted.

Barbuzzo serves Mediterranean cuisine, and they serve it well. Besides being well reviewed, Barbuzzo is extremely well priced for the city (the most expensive item is $19). We had:

Cured Meat Board with Mediterranean olive tapenade and homemade apricot mustard, caperberries, cornichons & baguette. We both enjoyed this charcuterie, but agreed that it could not beat the amazing one we had at Parc.

Grilled Spanish Rock Octopus with housemade chorizo, potato confit, lemon and pimeton. The flavors were amazing and I loved the charcoal taste of grilled octopus, but I found it a little too dry and it did not compare to the one at Marea.

Uovo pizza with brussel leaves, guanicale, caciocavallo, house stretched fior di latte, truffle & farm egg. This was one of the best pizzas I ever ate. The truffle and the egg had a rich taste and brought pizza to a whole new level.

Salted Caramel Budino with dark chocolate crust, vanilla bean caramel & sea salt. If you go to Barbuzzo and this is the only thing you get, you will not be disappointed (who doesn't appreciate fresh caramel?).

After our dining experience at Barbuzzo we walked over to APO (Apothecary) Bar (it says online that it closed, but as of last weekend it was open for business). The lounge has a cool feel with old style vials on the bar to give a prohibition-era feel. We toasted to the night and to our next return to Barbuzzo (I already have my eye on the roasted bone marrow). 

Inside Barbuzzo, think contemporary Mediterranean farmhouse

Grilled Spanish Rock Octopus

Cured Meat Board

Uovo Pizza

APO, think Now and Then....

Blowing out the candle goodnight

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


A Parisian Setup

My love of all things French is driven by the fact that I have never been there. Therefore, Parisian life has a mystical essence in my mind. After reading Colette’s Chéri, I became all the more transfixed by the delicacy of French culture and the beauty of it. In the novel, female beauty is emphasized through the existence of a single string of pearls. The novel reminded me of being trapped in Morisot’s painting Woman at her Toilette, with life existing in pastel colors and a graceful image of a woman arranging her hair at her dresser table.

After taking a look at my own dresser table two things stuck out to me, my new bottle of J’ador perfume and my “Little Black Palette” by Lorac gifted to me by Alex after a trip to Sephora. What I love about both of these products is not only how beautifully packaged they are, but how classic and dainty they appear both on my dresser and make me feel. A spritz of J’ador and a swap of gold color on my lids get me ready for any occasion. 

Au revoir!

Moi at my dresser

Morisot, a real lady at her dresser 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When In Eataly, Do As The Eatalians Do

Sofia Loren picnicking with classic Italian fare

When I think of Italy, I think of three things:

(1) Food.
(2) Sophia Loren.
(3) A much needed return to Capri.

Of those three, the first is the easiest to attain. After seeing the wonderful pictures on my friend Sukhie’s blog, I made it a point to visit Mario Batali’s Eataly.

Eataly is located in the Flatiron district in New York on 23rd and 5th. The setup is similar to your average market, but with a twist. Eataly draws you in because everything is beautifully set out and the smell of fresh brick oven pizza and pasta make it difficult to leave (not to mention that it gets so packed it’s virtually impossible to find an exit). In addition to being a fully stocked market selling meats, fish, vegetables, and deli goods, Eataly also houses several small restaurants to sit and enjoy the chaos around the market. To beat the lines, Alex and I decided to dine in their standing-room only Piazza.

We started with the Pesce Azzurro and Peperonata: marinated sardines with sweet peppers. Unfortunately this is not what I expected. I was looking forward to larger grilled sardines similar to the type they serve at Koo Zee Doo in Philadelphia. Instead, we were presented with a small plate of thinly sliced and marinated sardines. The thing is, I have those same sardines in my fridge because they are sold at every Eastern European supermarket for very cheap compared to Eataly. Mario Batali, you ain’t fooling me.

While we were less than excited about our starter, we still looked forward to the next plate: Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi: selection from Eataly’s salumeria. This was an assortment of different meats and salami’s served with fresh bread. I liked how the meats were served on a wooden cutting board to add to the appeal of being in a modern Italian market with a rustic touch.

The bread was what I really enjoyed in Eataly. At the Focacceria where they sell a wide array of freshly baked loaves of bread, they also make hot and fresh focaccia. We tried both the classic margherita and the onion, both of which were simply delicious.

Finally, on our way out we stopped by for a cup of coffee. The coffee they brew is wonderful and doesn’t need any sugar or milk. The only thing missing at Eataly was a ferry to whisk me away to Italy.

Ciao bella!

La Piazza

The Godfather

Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Bon Appétit!

Over the holidays Alex and I spent a few days in NY so that I could catch up on the sight-seeing I didn’t get to over the past three years of living in the city. As part of our excursion, we had reservations to Michael White’s restaurant Marea

Alex and I had been planning to visit Marea for over a year now so we had high expectations. Located on Central Park South, Marea boasts to be a culinary excursion of the palate. Inside the décor was crisp and clean, and the bar was illuminated with pure onyx.

With two Michelin stars, Marea serves to please. While our reservations were running 10 minutes late, we were greeted with complimentary glasses of champagne and sincere apologizes for being kept waiting (a nice touch which truly counts when many restaurants simply overlook this sort of gesture).

As we were seated for dinner, we decided on the tasting menu; a four course special to truly appreciate all the deliciousness Marea has to offer.

Before our dinner, we started off with the Ricci as an appetizer (sea urchin, lardo, sea salt). While this dish was highly reviewed, I couldn’t stomach it. I never had sea urchin before, and while I consider myself open to a wide array of cuisine, the texture and taste were too much for me. Marea also provided an amuse-bouche of a light pumpkin soup that, while I was indifferent to it, Alex enjoyed (especially the roasted pumpkin seeds).

For dinner, our choices went as follows:

POLIPO-grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, chilies, tonnato.
[This was spectacular. I am a huge fan of grilled octopus and this appetizer was on point and the octopus was tender and fresh]

SPAGHETTI-crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil.
[The pasta was good, but nothing exceptional.]

SPADA-swordfish, pesto
[This was good and the fish was very tender. The only thing I did not like was that the dish was served with a side of beans that seemed out of place and too “out of the box” with the rest of the food.]

GIANDUJA-cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato

OYSTERS- east and west coast oysters served with morellino mignonette & cucumber-lemon vinegar
[Very good. I am not the biggest fan of oysters, but they were very refreshing especially with the lemon vinegar.]

FUSILLI- red wine braised octopus, bone marrow
[Absolute perfection. Amazing, succulent, and flavorful.]

BISTECCA-grilled creekstone farms 50 day dry aged sirloin, bone marrow panzanella 
[Fantastic steak, probably the best I ever had.]

AFFOGATO-zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro.
[I can’t comment on this, it’s impossible to mess-up Affogato.]

At the end of our dinner (which lasted upwards of two hours and we were practically the last to leave), we enjoyed complementary chocolates and in our to-go bags (leftover steak that Alex happily ate for breakfast the next day) we were pleasantly surprised to discover two lemon chocolate chip muffins. A sweet touch to a sweet evening. 

From Point A-to-Point Marea

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekend Winter Wonderland with a Taste of Homecooking

This past weekend brought quite a bit of snow to the Tri-state area as my pictures will prove. Since I figured we would end up indoors staying warm, I tried my hand at some home-cooking.

Now you see, I am what one would call “domestically challenged”. Yet when I saw this recipe for mac and cheese on my favorite blog, I knew I had to give it a whirl. The end result was phenomenal. The macaroni and cheese was rich and hearty and I made BBQ chicken which complimented it perfectly. 

Sometimes, I let the Barefoot Contessa come out in me (sometimes...)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Little Taste of France in Philadelphia

During July my boyfriend Alex and I made an excursion to Center City Philadelphia to finally try Stephen Starr’s French brasserie Parc in Rittenhouse Square. Beforehand, we stopped by the coffee shop La Colombe also in Rittenhouse Square. We both enjoyed a cup of coffee in their original mugs and mosaic inspired seating. 

What I loved about Parc was the authentic feel of being swept away to a small café in Paris. We sat by the open window which provided great view of Rittenhouse park and people watching.

Eating with Alex is always an experience because he understands food and all that goes into it. We had the charcuterie for appetizer and it was perfect with all of its elements of cured meats and pâtés. After our trip to Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York recently, Parc’s charcuterie won hands down. We next had the onion soup gratinee (a.k.a French onion soup), and for our main entrée we had the Steak Frites.

I always look forward to restaurants that provide their patrons with a dining experience. When it gets warmer I can't wait to return to Parc for their charcuterie and a glass of wine.

Getting ready for my close-up

Coffee cups at La Colombe

Pure bliss

Rittenhouse Square Park

Dance class in the middle of the park

The scene outside Parc
Deliberating over the menu