Thursday, September 26, 2013

America Roadtrip Day 6: New York City, Pt. II

Summer fun in Central Park

Alex's Lime House by Times Square

The Highline

The Highline is an old metro railway, renovated as a walking route above the city streets. It is lined with lush flora and generous views of Manhattan on either side. We were so lucky to have Alex, Gena, Mike, Odee and Michelle to show us around the coolest parts of the city!

An infamous smooch and a Times Square train, seen off the Highline. I loved the colors and highlighting in this one. Good job, Kobba, wherever you are.

Another great view off the Highline.

Chelsea Market

Delectable Blueberry Muffin

Exploring the Market

This one vender in Chelsea Market had SO MANY spices. They looked gorgeous sitting there.

Classic Brownstone

Taking the NYC Subway

Brunch at Hi Life

We had a great brunch at Hi Life, where we may or may not have dined alongside Chelsea Handler. We'll never know!

The Natural History Museum

Dinos at the Natural History Museum! Fun fact: admission to the NHM is donation-based. As a struggling student, you can pay just $1 and roam around all you like. Awesome program.

Blue Whale = Largest Animal! What would you do if that swam up next to you in the ocean??

Central Park

Odee, Alex, Nick & I in Central Park

 Manhattan as seen from Central Park

 Manhattan as seen from Central Park (Colorized)

Came across some pretty great street art as we were driving out of the city.

America Roadtrip Night 5: New York City

Sunset on the road somewhere between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. NYC is so close!

Yum Yum Bangkok: Great Thai place Alex took us to for dinner in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan. I ordered a plate of steamed broccoli, chicken and peanut sauce with a side of rice. It was sweet, nutty, deliciousness with some healthy, perfectly steamed broccoli. I especially enjoyed the presentation - a lovely broccoli border to contain the sweet chicken and peanut sauce. 

Times Square!

Times Square is: bright, crowded, insane, legendary, epic. So bright it feels like mid-day at midnight. Officially checked off the bucket list!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

America Roadtrip Day 5: Best Bacon Found in Cleveland, Ohio | Pennsylvania

Cleveland Skyline

After our lackluster dinner the night before, we were thrilled to be entering the heart of Cleveland for some tasty brunch before hitting the road to NYC. 

Lucky's Cafe Brunch

Good ole reliable Yelp brought us to Lucky's Cafe, where we discovered the best bacon either of us have had to date, along with a unique, hearty and healthy menu to enjoy.

I was obsessed by this tiny perfect centerpiece of flowers and the vase it came in.

Curried tofu, hash browns, seasonal veggies and brewer's yeast, served with como toast and fresh fruit

I ordered the Canoewreck, which consisted of curried tofu, hash browns, seasonal veggies and brewer's yeast, served with como toast and fresh fruit. I was impressed with the innovation in the menu. Not many places do you see curried tofu and brewer's yeast for brunch. Every ingredient was also incredibly fresh. I was thrilled with the interesting flavors of the curry, vegetables, potatoes and brewer's yeast. 

The only thing I would change would be the amount of actual tofu in the plate. As you can see in the above picture, there was a generous portion of most ingredients, but not of tofu. This is curious because "Curried tofu" is the first ingredient listed in the meal's description, so I was expecting to have more tofu. 

All in all, the plate was savory and unique. The house-baked como toast and the house jam was unbelievable. I would pay for the recipe of either!

House-baked como toast. NOM.

Nick's plate: Shipwreck
Blend of hash browns, eggs, seasonal veggies, bacon, and cheddar cheese, with como toast & fresh fruit

Nick thoroughly enjoyed his Shipwreck, which shared colors and many ingredients with my dish.

Pecan Bacon

...And then there was bacon! Not just any bacon - Lucky's award-winning Pecan Bacon, topped with brown sugar and surely a deal made for someone's soul at some point. This bacon was truly AMAZING. The Millionaire's Bacon I enjoyed at Kitchen Story back in SF was tasty, but too sweet, drenched in sugars and syrups. I had a huge sugar rush and crash following my Millionaire's Bacon. The Pecan Bacon at Lucky's was different. It was more focused on the nutty and healthy pecan flavor, with just enough brown sugar to bring out a subtly sweet taste (sans the sugar rush & eventual crash).

Overall Experience

I cannot recommend Lucky's Cafe enough. Whether you are a local or just passing through the Cleveland area, it is guaranteed to be a great and unique meal. And definitely try the pecan bacon! 

Cup perched atop Lucky's Cafe


Entering Pennsylvania

After Cleveland, we drove through the green fields of Pennsylvania, making our way east towards New York. 

What I really enjoyed about Pennsylvania was their lush, green lands and rolling hills. It was picturesque and felt very tranquil. 

Lucky's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

America Roadtrip Night 4: Edgewater, Ohio

Making our way from Illinois to Ohio, by way of Indiana.

We arrived in Ohio at dusk, and made our way to Edgewater, a small town on the shore of Lake Eerie.

Nope nope nope. Dianna's Deli was recommended to us by more than one person. Upon walking in, however, it seemed a bit seedy and stale. A bored-looking waitress comes our way and I ask for a simple turkey sando- just a BLT with some turkey on it. I wanted something really simple and easy.

What I got was complicated and not so tasty. The lettuce was dry, crunchy and yellow. Zero nutrients. Possibly negative nutrients. I asked for extra pickles if possible and just got a dill spear on the side. The bacon was as dry and crunchy as the lettuce. The bread was fine, and they sure gave a generous helping of the turkey, but it was so tall I couldn't even take a bite! I had to dis and re-assemble the sandwich myself  just so I could eat it. 

To top it all off, there was a sketchy guy pacing back and forth outside the diner, so we had to call a cab back to our hotel rather than walk (better safe than sorry).

Nick's meal wasn't much better. We couldn't wait until morning to grab brunch in Cleveland!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

America Roadtrip Day 4 | Chicago Pt. II | Wildberry Brunch, The Bean, Sears Tower, Sight-Seeing

Nick & The Bean

The next morning we wasted no time in taking to the streets of Chicago. We walked through downtown to The Bean in Millennium Park, a gorgeous mirrored work of art which reflects the city's impressive skyline and signature architecture.

Bean Reflections

Chicago River 

We were lucky to have such a clear and sunny day to overlook the Chicago River. I'd like to go back one day and take a boat tour along the river - so beautiful!

Chicago Brunch: Wildberry

Caramel Apple Pecan French Toast

For brunch, we stopped in to Wildberry across the street from Millennium Park. There was a pack of diners waiting outside, which is always a good sign. Sure enough, the menu inside was absolutely breathtaking, from Red Velvet French Toast to Oreo S'mores Pancakes. 

I ordered the Caramel Apple Pecan French Toast, which came complete with thick-cut brioche dipped in their "Special Batter" and topped with sautéed cinnamon glazed Granny Smith Apples, smooth caramel and glazed pecans.

To put it simply, it was as good as it sounds- better, even. The crunchy pecans were a perfect juxtaposition to the soft french toast, and the apples were a texture all their own. I dare say it was the best french toast I've had to date. It was VERY sweet, which my sweet tooth enjoyed, but turned quickly into a food coma situation. So I wouldn't recommend this plate unless you planned on walking around the city a bit to walk it off.

Fruit Bowl

Refreshing fruit bowl to offset the hearty carbs.

Omelette & Hash Browns

Nick's omelette was it's own work of brunch art. The eggs were incredibly fluffy. The plate was the rare blend of hearty, healthy, and delicious. Another win for Wildberry.

More Chicago Sight-Seeing

 Sears Tower

THE Sears Tower! We tried to go up to the top, but there was a 90 minute wait, and we had 2 more state lines to cross that day.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Our last stop was The Art Institute of Chicago, where we got to see paintings by Monet, the Seated Buddha, American Gothic, and other works of art from around the world. My favorite was a collection of miniaturized rooms from American, European and Japanese history. The detail was amazing, including mirrors above fireplaces, hair brushes, and newspapers.

Conclusion: I love Chicago. It has great history, unique architecture (I was waiting for Batman to jump out from every corner), amazing food and art. I definitely recommend a trip out here if you get the chance!

Wildberry on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 13, 2013

America Roadtrip Night 3 | Chicago Pt. I | Deep Dish Pizza

We got into Chicago right around dinner time. Being in Chicago, I just had to try their legendary deep dish pizza. Everyone suggested Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, which luckily was just a few blocks from our hotel on the main street (which bore a shocking resemblance to Market Street)! The whole time I thought people were saying "Illuminati's," but they were not.

I was craving plain cheese pizza, so that's what I got. Even this was noteworthy and delicious. 

Each ingredient was fresh and it's own world of flavor. Thick layers of cheese and rich tomato sauce melted into the spongy crust. 

Some say "real" Chicago deep dish must have sausages in it (even Lou Malnati's menu agrees). That night I was not in the mood for such a heavy pizza, but I plan on going back one day and trying the local favorite.

Chicago's nightlife was energized and bright. I couldn't wait to see what the next day would bring.
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