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Missing New York

It’s been eleven days since I moved out of New York.

We spent a week at home with my family in Maryland packing and organizing our whole lives in preparation for the move to England and are now relaxing in Napa Valley before the wedding excitement begins.

But even with all of this, when I shut my eyes, I get transported back to New York.  

I’m now more thankful than ever that Joel and I took our engagement pictures on our block in the West Village - Barrow Street between Hudson and Commerce, easily the most magical place I ever lived in New York and the perfect finale to be etched into my memory.

Tags: New York
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I originally had a very long winded goodbye post outlining everything I will miss (and wont miss) about New York.
But then I saw this picture (taken on 4th of July this year) and thought no…let’s just leave it as it is…
New York - thank you for the tremendous friendships and the family of three you’ve helped me to create over the past six years. Growing up, you were my biggest dream and although our time has come to an end….
You’ll always be the apple of my eye.

I originally had a very long winded goodbye post outlining everything I will miss (and wont miss) about New York.

But then I saw this picture (taken on 4th of July this year) and thought no…let’s just leave it as it is…

New York - thank you for the tremendous friendships and the family of three you’ve helped me to create over the past six years. Growing up, you were my biggest dream and although our time has come to an end….

You’ll always be the apple of my eye.

Tags: New York
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The #soulfairy

There lots of ways to say goodbye to New York, but last night was extra special.

Before a goodbye dinner with friends, 13 of my nearest and dearest New Yorkers joined me at SoulCycle for a final ride.

To make it even more special, my boss made me a custom #soulfairy shirt, the social media nickname I’ve acquired at work over the past year.

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The instructor put me up on the instructor bike podium and played some of my most favorite tunes as I pushed myself harder than I ever have before. The up-lights shone bright below, making me feel special and nauseous all at once.  

But then I’d look out at the riders and see my friends’, coworkers and fiance rocking the front row, their bright faces staring back at me, their “Woohoos” and “Go Casey!” encouraging me to push harder.  And then the NYC anthem, “Empire State of Mind”, came on and I almost lost it right there on the bike.  It was almost too much happiness and energy to bear.

And then there was the cake…

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I thought perhaps I was hallucinating when they brought it to my bike at the end of the ride.  New York, London, getting married, my career, Lady, social media…. it was my entire life splashed across frosting!

I think my beet red face, dripping sweat hair, and non-stop smile speak load and clear - it was an epic send off. 

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I really couldn’t ask for anything more…

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Tags: New York
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A New York City Night To Remember

At first glance, our last Saturday night in New York City should have been quiet….

Almost all our friends were out town, packing had yet to begin (whoops), and the sweltering heat made it difficult to want to do anything. 

At 7:30pm, we made the last minute decision to pull ourselves together and hit the town.

We headed east to one of the most idyllic streets in Manhattan, Irving Street, and put our name down for a table at Casa Mono, Mario Batali’s teeny tiny tapas restaurant where Joel and I first went for a lunch date back in July 2008.

After a cocktail next door at Cibar, we returned to Casa Mono and saddled up to the bar for a final meal that included small plates of uni, foie gras, sweet breads, soft shell crabs, and razor clams.  

In other words, it was tapas heaven.

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But wait, the night was young….

After dinner, we headed south to Greenwich Village for a couple Miller Lights at Back Fence, another 2008 favorite where the crowd is rowdy, the floor is filled with peanut shells….

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And the live music is perfect for singing along. On this particular night, the band, Aaron Short, played a mix of 90’s favorites (Sublime, 3rd Eye Blind, Gin Blossom), oldies (Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton), and recent hits (Mumford and Sons, Snow Partrol).

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We sat in the same back corner that we used to and sang until our throats hurt. Finally, after one too many beers, I built up the nerve to request a song.

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Turns out the singer is a Brit and not only obliged to play my request, but gave Joel and I a moving to London shout-out.

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How’d we respond?

We stood up and started to dance, while a stranger grabbed a camera and started snapping away.

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It certainly was quite a New York night!

Tags: New York
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Calling all Ippudo lovers….

Jinya, the LA-based ramen restaurant with a cult following, arrived in New York City last week!

Now, my heart belongs to Ippudo, but with all the buzz about Jinya, I gave it a try.

Verdict?

The Pork Buns at Ippudo are slightly better (but still not as good as the King of Buns, Momofuku), but the ramen is equally awesome. I went with the Tonkotsu Black, which had the most perfectly cooked seasoned egg.

Bonus points? Jinya is still under the radar, which means you can be seated right away vs. Ippudo’s typical 90-minute wait.

Also, Jinya is located the West Village, so I’m slightly/100% biased.

Tags: Food New York
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"OMG we just had the best meal ever!"

Last week, I texted this to my mom.

Bold claim, right? Well, it’s true. Dinner at La Sirene was shockingly good and came with price sticker shock (in a good way) but how we arrived at this off-the-beaten-path hole in the wall is even more unusual.

One night, I was craving steak, but since Joel and I have ben trying to drink our way through our stock before the move, I suggested we cook dinner at home. Joel wasn’t as into this idea (after all, we only have so much time to take advantage of the New York restaurant scene), so I pulled up the Urban Daddy app on my phone to see if there were any BYOB restaurants nearby. 

As luck would have it, a BYOB restaurant, La Sirene, was a 20-minute walk away and after a quick google search, we learned that they were famous for their filet mignon. Plus, their Yelp page has 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.  I could tell we were on to something…

We arrived at the restaurant and quickly learned why, even with tremendous reviews, it was still under the radar - it was located DIRECTLY next to the Holland Tunnel.  Regardless of the less than desirable location, we entered the very cozy French restaurant and proceeded to have one of the best meals in recent history.

We popped the bottle of our favorite vino (Peter Michael Chardonnay) and perused the classic French menu.

To start, we split the Sautéed Baby Octopus with Garlic, Parsley Olive Oil Bread Crumbs, Tomato, and Mushroom. The pic doesn’t do it justice, but the octopus was some of the tastiest we’ve had in the city.

Both of us went with the Filet Mignon for dinner, which had received rave reviews. What we didn’t know is that it comes topped with a hefty slice Foie Gras AND Truffles.  It was a truly decadent, delicious dish and cost a fraction of what it should. Frankly, if we cooked basic steaks at home, the cost wouldn’t have been so different.

Entrees also come with a tray of sides (cauliflower puree, eggplant, and more) and get this - it’s refillable! So you can just keep digging into more and more veggies goodness.

I think our plates speak for themselves.

Joel and I kept looking at each other, almost silent in gourmet ecstasy, only able to mutter “Why didn’t we find this place sooner?!”

There was zero need for dessert, but when you see a Banana Pudding Creme Brulee (my version of dessert hybrid heaven), you don’t say no.

So, to recap:

  • Tremendous food across the board
  • Very affordable prices considering the level of food
  • BYOB = even more affordable 
  • Cozy, family run restaurant. Laid back, friendly staff
  • 4 1/2 out of 5 Yelp stars, 23/30 Zagat rating
  • Not ideal NYC location, but who cares?!

Get thee a reservation now!

Tags: Food New York
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Here’s to a last….

My last lunch date with Jess.
This girl was my first boss out of college. She schooled me in everything and years later, brought me into the social media corporate world, for which I am forever grateful.
This fierce lady now runs social media over at the small little fashion company called Barney’s and no matter what, we meet once a month at Koi for a special lunch date. 
And we always split their crispy tuna. Always.
She is my mentor. My friend. My challenge. My support.

I’ll miss so much about New York. My lunch dates with Jess will be among them.

Tags: New York Food
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NYC Bucket List Restaurant - Mission Chinese

I checked another item off the ol’ bucket list….

Mission Chinese is a restaurant that has been raved about to the moon and back in the past year. In fact, Zagat listed it as it’s "2013 Top Ten Hottest Restaurants in the World".  

Joel and I actually tried to dine here in March. We arrived Friday at 7pm (considered Early Bird Special timing for Manhattan) and expected to put our name on the list, grab a couple drinks at a neighborhood bar, and return around 10pm to eat.

We were wrong.

Not only is there a no reservation policy, but when we arrived at 7pm, 90 minutes after opening, they were already completely full for the rest of the evening.

Excuse me?!

Naturally, we left deflated.

Last Friday, knowing the city was a bit deserted due to the holiday weekend, we tried again.

Joel and I arrived at 5:45pm, were quoted an hour wait, and were seated by 7pm.

JACKPOT!

So, was all the hype worth it? 

Me thinks not. In fact, I think it’s very OVER hyped….as do many other Yelp reviewers

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First of all, the interior felt a bit dumpy and at some parts, even dirty (are you stacking dishes on the floor?!).  The service was rather rough and our waiter seemed constantly annoyed, even when we inquired after our beverages 20 minutes after we ordered them.

With that said, I think it’s all part of their schtick….

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Our waiter recommended we order 4 dishes, but we went with six in order to taste test as much as possible.

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Mapo Tofu - a tofu stew with pork shoulder. This definitely tasted very “authentic” (whatever that means), and while it was okay, it’s tasted a bit, off.  Perhaps it was the doubanjiang ingredient?  Not sure, but we only made our way through half of it.

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Thrice Cooked Bacon - this was easily our favorite dish. The bacon and rice cake dumplings were the perfect combo, if not a wee bit too spicy.

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Salt Cod Fried Rice - this was good, but it’s fried rice - how could it not be? Nothing to get too excited about.

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The Pork Belly didn’t even stand a chance once it arrived. I wasn’t expecting thinly sliced meat and as it was listed under hot dishes, it was quite a surprise when the cold, slimy meat hit my tongue.

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Spicy Scallop XO Noodles - on the menu, this dish sounded like my dream come true. In reality, both Joel and I took one bite and gave them one bite, looked at each other with disgust, and didn’t touch it again. XO is a common seafood sauce, which I should like, but it tasted more like licorice, which I can’t stomach.

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Would I return to Mission Chinese?

Absolutely not.

Am I glad I crossed it off my list?

Definitely.

And even if someone told me they have a meh experience there, I think I’d want to try it for myself……

I mean, it’s a top ten restaurant in the world…..according to some.

Tags: Food New York
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This beauty was my view last night as I toasted friends from the terrace at their housewarming party.
New York in all her foggy glory.
The previous night, on June 26, Joel and I sat outside at 10pm enjoying a glass of wine, catching up on our days, the norm.  We realized we had exactly one month left in this city we’ve called our home…..
Joel mentioned that he had made a reservation for our “final dinner” on the evening of July 26th. 
Final dinner. (We have priorities)
And right then I hunched over and there were the tears…the first “Goodbye New York” tears. 
And those same tears begin to swell in my eyes as I type this post right now.
And what started as a “here’s a lovely foggy photo of the Empire State Building” blog post has quickly turned into a “I can’t believe this is happening” blog post.
I’ve loved New York.
I’ve hated New York.
I’m excited to leave.
I’m sad to leave. 
I’m so ready to move.
I couldn’t be less prepared to move.
Literally, everything in my life is doing a 180 in the next 4-6 weeks.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m feeling ALL the feelings.
The end.

This beauty was my view last night as I toasted friends from the terrace at their housewarming party.

New York in all her foggy glory.

The previous night, on June 26, Joel and I sat outside at 10pm enjoying a glass of wine, catching up on our days, the norm.  We realized we had exactly one month left in this city we’ve called our home…..

Joel mentioned that he had made a reservation for our “final dinner” on the evening of July 26th. 

Final dinner. (We have priorities)

And right then I hunched over and there were the tears…the first “Goodbye New York” tears. 

And those same tears begin to swell in my eyes as I type this post right now.

And what started as a “here’s a lovely foggy photo of the Empire State Building” blog post has quickly turned into a “I can’t believe this is happening” blog post.

I’ve loved New York.

I’ve hated New York.

I’m excited to leave.

I’m sad to leave. 

I’m so ready to move.

I couldn’t be less prepared to move.

Literally, everything in my life is doing a 180 in the next 4-6 weeks.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m feeling ALL the feelings.

The end.

Tags: New York
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My go-to at Cookshop is their Hudson Valley Chicken Salad (the sliced almonds and yellow raisons make the dish!)
But when I dined there last week with their resident celebrity, Emily, they sent over this pizza.
I’m not even sure how to describe how good it was. 
Maybe it was the light fluffy crust?
Maybe it was the “just right” crispy edges?
Maybe it was the sliced sauteed zucchini or creamy chunks of cheese?
Whatever it was, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

My go-to at Cookshop is their Hudson Valley Chicken Salad (the sliced almonds and yellow raisons make the dish!)

But when I dined there last week with their resident celebrity, Emily, they sent over this pizza.

I’m not even sure how to describe how good it was. 

Maybe it was the light fluffy crust?

Maybe it was the “just right” crispy edges?

Maybe it was the sliced sauteed zucchini or creamy chunks of cheese?

Whatever it was, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Tags: Food New York
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Oh, The Places We’ll Go - Living Life As An Adventure

Deciding to pack up our lives in New York and move to London was not a simple decision. Of course it’s easy to focus on all the excitement and fun that lays ahead, but it certainly is not going to be all afternoon tea and crumpets.

For me, in particular, taking the road less traveled and surrendering to an uncertain future was a struggle. I had mentally set my ducks in a row and when the London opportunity presented itself, my “ducks” were, shall we say, scattered.

How would we do X? Would we still be able to do Y? By moving to London and taking a chance on fate, would we also be giving up Z?

Joel and I spent hours and HOURS on end discussing the options.  To be completely honest, he kept pointing out all the pros while I focused unwaveringly on the cons. We certainly weren’t being a team and with our wedding only a couple months away, the debate became the perfect “test” of sorts.

I had a conversation with my mom, who has been our biggest cheerleader since day 1, and it was her wisdom that finally made me see the light. 

She pointed out how I had lived abroad twice and sure, it wasn’t always easy, but it made me who I am today. Joel, on the other hand, began his European travels with me and has yet to live abroad. 

My mom asked: What if someone took away that time abroad away from you? Erased those experiences from your history? Would you be the same person you are today? When you’re 50, what will you regret more? Not following the traditional road OR not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to live abroad?

Ultimately, the decision came down to one thing: living life as an adventure.  And that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

So thank you to our amazing family and friends who have provided unwavering support, kindness and encouragement throughout this process. And also for providing an ear to listen when I just need to ramble, which I know I do more often than I should (I promise I’m working on it!)

And to this funny Tumblr community…thank YOU for sweet the comments and emails over the last week.  It’s hard to explain to anyone not in this “blogging” world, but you sure know how to make a girl feel excited!

And a special thanks to those American bloggers living in the UK who have sent me the most amazing, detailed emails with recommendations and advice.  It really means the world!

Speaking of supportive friends, Erin and Ozzy are in a league of their own. Not only are they always looking to check off “NYC Bucket List Items” with us (we’ve only got a couple weeks left!), but they help us find special gems like Jones Wood Foundry.

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The four of us grabbed brunch at this Upper East Side British Pub yesterday to taste (as Erin put it) “all the wonderful British fare you will be having soon!”

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The restaurant is decked out in Union Jack decor and the menu features  Scotch Wood Cock, Toad in the Hole, traditional Sunday Roast, Scotch Egg and more.

I sipped my tea, ate my crumpets, squeezed Joel’s hand and felt at peace with our choice, our adventure….because we get to tackle it together.

London - here we come!

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An Evening in Another Era

With all this talk about the upcoming Gatsby movie, it seemed perfect timing to finally check out Duane Park, the recently reopened supper club.
If you’ve ever yearned to live in another era, then Duane Park certainly fits the bill.
On Saturday night, our group arrived for the 9:30 event (there’s 6:30 and 9:30 seatings), which included a 3-course dinner and a burlesque show that had us mesmerized until 12:30am. Not only was the decor “dressed up” in a by-gone era - most guests were also dressed to the nines, some even sporting head-dresses, feathers and smart suits.
Here’s the breakdown:

Food
When I’ve gone to burlesque shows in the past, the food certainly takes a backseat. However, Duane Park’s menu was not just decent….we all agreed it was so good that we’d return just for the food! And although it’s a prix-fixe, there are at least 6 options in each category to fulfill your cravings.
Entertainment - Cast of Characters
For the duration of our 3-hour sitting, the burlesque components entertained us for probably 2 hours with breaks in between acts.  These “acts” included our Emcee, a beautiful, charming, provocative singer, two dancers, both experts in the “art of the strip tease” (which ended in tassels, not fully nude), one aerial performer who enjoyed putting knives and fire down her throat, and finally, a male comedian/magician who had us keeled over in hysterics.
For the hour or so breaks where there wasn’t a singer, dancer or comedian on stage, a four-piece band kept us more than entertained.
Our group sipped our martini and Manhattan cocktails, savored every bite of our meal, watched in awe of the show and every so often one of us would utter “why couldn’t we live in another era?!”
P.S. I kept the pictures PG, but that wasn’t always the case

Tags: New York Food
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SoulCycle on the High Line

There are “only in New York” moments….

And then there are “once in a lifetime only in New York” moments.

Last Thursday was one of those moments.

With one hundred bikes, candles and black lights, SoulCycle took over the High Line, one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, for a fundraising ride to to raise over $100,000 for the The Friends of the High Line.

Although cloudy weather blocked any chance of a stunning sunset, the incomparable views remained the same.

The energy was palpable and my love for this company grew x3.

I run social media for SoulCycle, so I spent the majority of the ride running back and forth between bikes, crouching on the ground with my iPhone (check me out to the left in the below pic)….

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So I could capture shots like this one for Instagram.

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And when all is said and done, you have to pinch yourself because although the term is thrown around fairly liberally, when you experience a true “only in New York moment’, you must savor it.

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See even more event pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SoulCycle/64759509591

Tags: New York
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When a Meal Starts with 6 Amuse Bouches…

You know it’s going to be special.

Prior to dining at Aldea, I had never heard of it. Clearly, I’ve been living under a rock because this Flatiron restaurant is definitely now on the list of one of my top five favorite New York City meals. In fact, I’m already trying to plan when I can return.

What makes it extra special is for less than $100, you can enjoy an 11-course Mediterranean-inspired meal at the Chef’s Tasting Table, an experience that typically would cost 4x the amount at other top-tier Manhattan restaurants. (*The menu states that this is 7-courses, but they give you so much more!)

Now, Aldea may not be for everyone, but for my specific culinary preferences, it hit the nail on the head.

So, if you love duck, farm eggs, sea urchin, foie gras, scallops, creamy cheese and decadent chocolate, make a reservation at Aldea as soon as possible!

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Amuse Bouches:

  1. Mojito macaron
  2. Oyster
  3. Croquette
  4. Mussel soup
  5. (Far right hand corner) Beet flower goat cheese puff
  6. Beet pickled quail egg

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Our action view throughout the night.

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Soft Poached Egg (perigord black truffles, watercress benton’s bacon, shiitake broth).

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Sea Urchin Toast.  This may very well be the best plate from the night. I could eat 100 of these!

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Foie gras terrine

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Diver Scallop

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Suckling Pig

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Duck confit

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Cheese course

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Mango sorbet

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Chocolate Tart (pistachio dragée, saffron-crème fraiche sorbet, candied piri-piri peppers).

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Petite fours

Tags: Food New York
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Lady’s First Trip Back to the Dog Run

After four months of hibernation, Lady finally returned to the Leroy Street Dog Run last weekend. It’s one of my favorite dog parks in the city for two reasons.

  1. It’s in the neighborhood
  2. It’s pavement instead of the typical gross mulch that lives in most dog runs.

To say Lady was over the moon would be an understatement.

Check out the last photo to see what I mean.

For now, I’ll be dreaming of the day when she can finally be off leash in a lush green dog park no matter what time of day (Central Park only allows early am weekend hours).

Good thing it’s just around the corner.