Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Travel Tuesday . NYC . Summer 2014 . Day 3

Last day of NYC! On this day, we lined up to try the cronut, shopped at Century 21, crossed the brooklyn bridge for pizza, had comfort food for dinner, and attempted to watch Les Mis. :) This post is only going to show a small part of our day but the vlog has a little more detail if you're interested.



Hubs and I lined up at the Dominique Ansel Bakery at 6:30am for an 8am bakery opening. This is the bakery that invented the cronut and currently offers a limited number of pastries for sale every day. Each month, there is a different flavour. In June, the flavour was strawberry balsamic and mascarpone with basil sugar.

Overall, the cronut was a little bit harder and more dense than I thought it would be but the flavours were really nice. While I'm happy we got to try it, I don't think I would line up for it again. My hubby, on the other hand, LOVED it and he said he would line up again... surprising because he's not a morning person. That being said, I would return to the bakery to try some of the numerous other pastries. I would certainly order the perfect little egg sandwich again (steamed, fluffy, farm fresh eggs, with herbs and Gruyère cheese, served warm in a mini brioche bun) - this was amazing! The DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) was also good - it had the texture that I thought the cronut would have - beautifully caramelized on the inside and light on the inside.

In case you ever want to try the bakery, you only have to line up early for the cronut. The line does get quite long but if you arrive around an hour before the bakery opens on a weekday, you have a good chance of getting a cronut. You can also pre-order online but I had no luck getting onto the website when the window opened. If you don't care to try the cronut, you can go to the bakery any time of the day and just walk in. There is a second and much shorter line where you can order everything except for the cronut. When we were in line, the bakery let us try some housemade lemonade and some mini madeleines.






Once our bellies were full, we walked from Soho to Wall Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. We had an amazing third day in NYC!



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Get Ready With Me - Summer 2014

It's been a while since I've done a GRWM video so I thought I would show what I've been using lately for my weekend makeup. I've been loving a few new products, the most "different" of which is a liquid eyeliner. It definitely took some time to learn the art of applying liquid liner and I have been loving the look. Nothing too exciting but I hope you enjoy. :)





Here is my marathon list of products:

- Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne
- Nivea Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia Kiss*
- Julep Daylight Defense SPF 30
- Dior Pore Minimizer
- Urban Decay Naked Skin in 3.0 & Cedia BB Cream
- BeautyBlender
- By Terry Hyaluronic Eye Primer in Medium
- Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 28E
- SPAresource Cream Shadow Brush
- Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
- Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe
- Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse in Taupe
- Starlooks Pointed Slant Brush
- Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium/Deep
- Too Faced Pardon My French Palette (Cocoa Beach)
- EcoTools Smudge Brush
- Sonia Kashuk Blending Brush
- TweezerMan Eyelash Curler
- Dior Addict It-Lash
- Model Co Eyeliner in Black
- Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette
- MAC 219 Brush
- Benefit Bad Gal Lash in Black
- NYX Eye Liner in Velvet
- Real Techniques Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush
- EcoTools Shade Brush
- Giorgio Armani Master Corrector in #2
- Boxx Concealer in Amber
- YSL Creme de Blush
- DiorSkin Nude Shimmer in Amber
- Real Techniques Powder Brush
- Revlon Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya
- Giorgio Armani Flash Lacquer in 300
- DiorSkin Poudre Shimmer in Amber Diamond

What products have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday . NYC . Summer 2014 . Day 2



Visiting NYC with Lulu means lots of time at parks! We essentially had 3 picnics on day 2... brunch in Central Park, a light snack in Bryant Park, and then a "picnic" course at Eleven Madison Park.



We also visited B&H, which is an incredible camera store! It's super efficient and it's also a lot of fun to go through the process of purchasing something. If you like camera gear or gadgets and find yourself in the area, I highly recommend you check it out. Keep a look out for conveyor belts above your head that seem to magically transport products around the entire store.



For more details on what we did on day 2, here is a short vlog. The rest of this post will jump right into our 15 course meal at Eleven Madison Park! If you plan to go to Eleven Madison Park, I'd recommend not watching the vlog or reading this blog post any further - part of the fun of dining there is all the little surprises. :)



Now let's talk about our amazing meal at Eleven Madison Park! The food was delicious and creative. Service was very efficient. We really enjoyed the experience. The restaurant itself was a little hard to find as our taxi driver pointed us in the wrong direction. We were about to go into a bank building to ask for directions when voila - we found ourselves right in front of the restaurant's revolving doors. The interior is gorgeous with super high ceilings and a lot of light.



We had an early seating at 5:45pm and it's definitely the way to go. Being one of the first tables, we were surprised by every course that came out. When we dined at Alinea last year, we had a more traditional seating time, so we saw a lot of the courses come out to other tables before we received ours... the surprise factor this time was really wonderful. We were seated at a really nice corner table. At each table, there is a little envelope with a knife. Our waiter directed us to open it, choose the flavour that interests us the most, and punch out the little symbol associated with the flavour. My hubby chose coffee and I chose celery.



Next, we ordered our drinks. My hubby doesn't drink alcohol often so he chose a non-alcoholic cocktail. I chose the Manhattan Cart, which is basically a drink that is mixed by the bartender table side. I would normally order a gin cocktail but I'm a sucker for table side service so I chose that instead. I was presented with a menu with 6 different variations of the Manhattan. Since I've never had a Manhattan and I couldn't pronounce any of the ingredients (cynar is not pronounced the way it looks lol), the bartender recommended the classic, which I really enjoyed. What I particularly liked was that the bartender sampled my drink (taking a bit of it out with a little straw) before serving it. I feel better when restaurants taste the cocktails and wine before serving them - I first saw this at the now closed Alex in Las Vegas (waaaah, I loved this place) and it really made an impression on me.



Course #1
CHEDDAR
Savory Black and White Cookie with Apple

Our first course came in a little box that was tied with a string. This is the restaurant's homage to NYC's black & white cookie. Being the first course, this was actually a savoury version of the classic cookie and tasted to me a little like Goldfish crackers due to the cheddar (sorry if that comparison makes you cringe but I promise you it's not a bad thing!).



Course #2
OYSTER
Baked Potato Ice Cream and Caviar

This was once of my favourite courses. The oyster was so fresh and the ice cream really tasted like a baked potato. Plus my hubby and I love caviar whenever we get a chance to eat it so this course was very much to our liking.




Course #3
MOREL
Custard with Maine Sea Trout Roe

I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms but it's mostly due to the texture. Since this course was presented as a soup, I actually really enjoyed it! It was very flavourful and the roe provided a nice salty/oily burst on my tongue.



Course #4
ENGLISH PEAS
Warmed with Meyer Lemon and Egg Yolk

This was another one of my favourites. Simple but so beautifully presented. Light and summery. The texture of the egg yolk (flakes) was really interesting.



Course #5
BEEF
Pastrami with Ramps, Rye, Mustard, and Celery/Coffee

My favourite course! This was Eleven Madison Park's homage to the classic New York deli. I love all of the flavours presented so this course was perfect for me. This course was also customized with different flavours of soda. My hubby got coffee soda and I got celery soda... both were delicious. I love celery and now I know I even love it in soda form. :)





The bread came out next and it was presented with 2 different types of butter. I don't remember the specific details (one of them involved duck fat perhaps?). The salt in the middle was some kind of fancy salt.



Course #6
FOIE GRAS
Hubby: Seared with Fava Bean Marmalade and Sorrel
Me: Cured with Orange-Chamomile, White Asparagus, and Bitter Almond

We were allowed to select from two different preparations of foie gras so we chose one of each. We're not huge fans of foie gras but we definitely did not want to pass on this dish. Both preparations were nice but mine was more to my liking. :)




Course #7
APPLE
Waldorf Salad with Celery, Rhubarb, and Walnuts

Much to my delight, this course was prepared table side. Our waiter gave us a little history of the Waldorf salad while he composed and plated our dishes. The salad included some slivers of blue cheese, which I gave to my hubby. He LOVES blue whereas it's pretty much the only cheese I don't enjoy. This course was really interesting because it was actually a Waldorf salad served two ways - one as a salad and the other as a soup. After you finish the salad, you remove the "plate" and underneath is the soup. While we were munching on our salad, we noticed we weren't provided with spoons... we wondered if the spoon would be inside and sure enough, there it was! What a neat concept.





Course #8
LOBSTER
Poached with Beets, Ginger, and Nasturtium

This is the 2nd time I've seen the ingredient nasturtium in the past couple weeks or so. It's a plant with edible flowers and leaves - yum. I love lobster and beets so I loved this course!



Course #9
ASPARAGUS
Braised with Potato and Black Truffle

When hubs, my friend, and I were at Paul Bocuse last year, there was a chicken cooked in bladder on the menu and we didn't order it but we thought it was pretty cool. Imagine my surprise when a bladder was brought to our table at Eleven Madison Park. This one was just for show (they don't cut into it at your table) but it was still neat. I wonder if the asparagus was actually cooked in a bladder or if they just use a similar method but show the traditional methodology? I've never been served one stalk of asparagus before. :) Anyway, it was delicious - I love the combination of potato and black truffle.



This next item wasn't on our menus and unfortunately I don't remember anything about it except of course that I ate it. It was crispy.



Course #10
DUCK
Broth with Cured Duck and Watercress
Roasted with Rhubarb, Shallots, and Scallions

Mmmmm, love duck!! Before serving us this course, they presented us with the whole duck and explained the cooking process. We were then served a sliver of the duck breast, which was delicious. I think my hubby and I got slices from different ducks because the spice pattern on the skin is completely different. This was another choice you had on the menu - you could either choose lamb or duck and the whole table had to make the same choice. Since I don't like lamb, we went with duck.




Course #11
FRESH CHEESE
Pretzel, Parsley, and Picked Pearl Onion

This next course was so much fun and another of my favourites! This was our little indoor picnic. Our waiter brought over a basket and we got to unpack it. The plates in particular were really neat because they look like paper plates but are stoneware. The fresh cheese looked like a pat of butter but it was definitely cheese. It was very yummy!! Our picnic also came with a bottle of dark ale to share - I liked it a lot - it tasted to me like coffee. Hubs was ok about it.




Course #12
WHEY
Sorbet with Caramelized Milk and Milk Foam

Now it was time for the desserts. This was my favourite one because of the flavours and the textures. I also love coldness in food so the sorbet was right up my alley.



Course #13
ALMOND
Baked Alaska with Rum, Caramel, and Celery/Coffee

Before this course was served, we were presented with a baked Alaska and it was set on fire in front of us. Another thing I love is flaming food... I guess I'm all about theatrics. This was another course that was customized. My hubby got coffee sauce with his baked Alaska and I got celery sauce. One of our waitresses asked us afterward which one was better and we both preferred our own so I guess we chose our flavours well. :)




Course #14
PRETZEL
Chocolate Covered with Sea Salt

This course was served with Apple Brandy, which was very strong. We were poured a tiny bit and we finished it but didn't reach for the bottle for another pour. The liqueur went well with the chocolate covered pretzel.



Course #15
CHOCOLATE
Sweet Black and White Cookie with Mint

And here we've come full circle with another box tied with string. Inside were two black and white cookies - this time, sweet. I think I preferred the savoury ones but only because I've been more into salt rather than sweet lately.



A few final surprises at the end of our meal... we were presented with personalized menus and two mason jars of granola to take home. The menu in particular is such a nice keepsake because I would never be able to remember all of the courses otherwise. Inside the envelopes were also the little flavour "tickets" that we had punched out when we started our meal - such a thoughtful touch. The granola was amazing and I'm so pleased that I can re-use the mason jars and have a little reminder of our lovely evening.







Overall, we loved our meal at Eleven Madison Park. We were there for a little over 3 hours and I enjoyed every minute. It reminded us a little of Alinea in terms of the number of courses, creativity, and keepsake menu. We enjoyed both meals tremendously; however, if I had to choose one to revisit, I would probably choose Eleven Madison Park. The flavours were more to my liking, I preferred the pacing/portion size, the service was a little more consistent as all tables seemed to get the same explanation of each course, there's an actual drink/wine list with prices, and the ambiance was a little more welcoming/warm/comfortable. That being said, it is all a matter of personal preference as both are fantastic restaurants that are well worth the hefty price tags.

If you are interested, click here for my full review of Alinea.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Travel Tuesday . NYC . Summer 2014 . Day 1



This is just a quick post to share Day 1 of our trip to NYC! We were bumped from our original flight so we arrived at our hotel much later than we had planned. As a result, we only had time for a little shopping before our dinner reservation at DANIEL. My vlog includes a short run-through of our day but the majority of this post will focus on our meal... which was one of the best meals I've ever had.



Dinner time! When we arrived at DANIEL, our table wasn't quite ready yet so we took a seat at the bar and ordered a couple of drinks. I had the From the Field (Lavender and Honeycomb Infused Plymouth Gin Lemon Juice) and my hubby had the Arnold Palmer (Black Tea, Fresh Mint, Hibiscus Syrup, Ginger Ale, Lemon Juice). The bartender put on quite a show shaking the drinks - he was awesome. My drink was delicious and very strong - which was right up my alley because I can't stand weak gin cocktails. My hubby's drink was very tasty and refreshing. Before we knew it, our table was ready, and we were led to a lovely corner table. The ambiance at DANIEL is perfection. I love how we sat side-by-side in a booth and looked out at the rest of the restaurant.



The service at DANIEL is top notch. The servers are incredibly courteous, warm, and professional. We were made to feel very welcome and very comfortable. Since our reservation was for 9:30pm, we decided to go with the shorter 3 course menu, but with all the little extras from the kitchen, our dinner still spanned nearly 3 hours. Before I start with the food, I just want to apologize for the poor quality of the photos. DANIEL has a no photography policy so I wasn't planning to take any but the situation seemed ok so I went ahead. There were a few tables around us where the patrons were on their phones and plus we were sitting in a quiet corner in the restaurant. Rest assured I was very discrete... which is also the reason for the poor composition and blurriness. With that being said, we started our foray into deliciousness with a trio of beet. My hubby doesn't even like beets but he loved this trio. All the flavours were incredible.



I don't remember what the amuse bouche was exactly but it was either spinach foam or spinach cream (it was spinach green on the inside). Another delectable bite.



Next, we moved into the appetizer in our three course menu. I chose the Chilled Peekytoe Crab "Cannelloni" (Early Summer Melon, Lime Coulis, Pickled Ginger, Mint). Seafood features prominently on the DANIEL menu and every bite was so fresh and tasty!



My hubby chose the Marinated Sea Scallop (Northern Light Caviar, Smoked Potatoes, Sorrel Coulis, Sancho Pepper, Chive Oil). We both love raw scallops so another wonderful dish.



For my main course, I stuck with the seafood theme and chose the Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce (Glazed Cipollini Onions, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Chive Bud Tempura, Timut Pepper). When this dish arrived, I immediately started salivating. It smelled so GOOD. This was my favourite dish of the evening.



My hubby is a huge fan of red meat so he ordered the Duo of Beef (Braised Black Angus Short Ribs, Black Trumpet, Garbanzo Beans & Seared Wagyu Tenderloin, Tomato Marmalade, Crispy Panisse). Yummy! The short ribs were served in a little separate cup on the left side of the below photo.



For dessert, I ordered the Island of Passiflora (Floating Island, Black Sesame Praliné, Passion Fruit, Yuzu Anglaise). My hubby wasn't a huge fan of my choice because it was very tart. I loved it though. Since I haven't been really into super sweet stuff lately, I really enjoyed the light sweetness of this dish combined with the fruity acidity.



My hubby couldn't decide on dessert but eventually ordered the Borneo Vacherin (Lime-Avocado Sorbet, Coconut Chantilly, Spiced Meringue, Green Apple-Absinthe Coulis). I liked the presentation! I only had a bite but my hubby cleaned the plate so I think he liked it.



Our server also surprised us with a third dessert dish, compliments of the kitchen. They thought we should have some chocolate to end our meal. :)



That wasn't all. Next, we received a selection of mignardises.



Finally, a little "basket" of the best madeleines I've ever had. They were teeny tiny, super light, with a perfect crisp on the outside. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I'll take a thousand!!



If I could describe DANIEL in one word, it would be... perfect. Admittedly, I can be quite a picky person at times, and there was not one thing about this experience I would change. I can't wait to go back!

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