Posts Tagged 'New York'

A Dean and Deluca Kind of Birthday

I used to hate birthdays, but now that I’ve started to acknowledge them a day to eat everything, I think I like them now. I went to bed at 2 AM disappointed because no one wished me a happy birthday, but when I woke up the next morning, I had dozens of missed calls, voicemails, text messages, and Facebook alerts. I went to bed thinking the day would suck, but woke up thinking it was promising.

I started off the day with homemade scrambled scallion and asiago eggs, turkey bacon, orange juice, and a Starbucks coffee. (I don’t really like bacon, but I figured it’d be nice to have with eggs.) I opened all of the windows so there was a beautiful breeze flowing through the apartment. The air in the apartment is usually thick, but the mix of the fresh air from outside and the smells from breakfast lingered for hours. It felt like a refreshing summer day in the suburbs.

I made my way down to Dean and Deluca in Soho to pick up a macaron and an iced coffee. I’ve been dying to try their coffee, but I don’t know how to make my own coffee, so I never bought it to avoid putting my own sugar in. I figured today was the day to try it. I just bought a coffee macaron from the bakery area and I glanced up at the menu – iced mocha, iced this, iced that, Strawberry Italian Soda. It has been years since I’ve had Italian soda, but it so delicious that I instantly ordered one. I turned around and my friend surprised me with a red velvet birthday cake.

Of course I picked Cafetasia for my birthday dinner. It is my favorite Thai restaurant and one of my favorite restaurants of all time. The food is always delicious. The service is always fast and excellent. The atmosphere is trendy and awesome. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change anything about Cafetasia.

We ordered Mango Batita drinks, which were described as a mango and pineapple drink. I expected them to be yellow, or even orange, but they came out green. Weird. (On second thought, it is green because it is mixed with blue liquor.) They didn’t taste too strong, but half way through the drink, I was drunk. I quickly drank the rest as I saw the appetizers coming over, so I turned into drunken eating mode and just devoured it all. It was the best food at Cafetasia that I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was because the chef was especially amazing that night or because everything tastes better when drunk. Leaning towards the latter, but I devoured BBQ beef skewers, chicken satay and toast, gyoza, extra spicy chicken basil udon, and then some of my friend’s pad thai.

We didn’t eat the cake until later that night, but it took us two minutes from start to finish. It was the most dense and delicious cake I have ever had. It was such a rich and dark red velvet. I seriously wonder what Dean and Deluca can’t do. When it comes to food, especially bakery treats, they are truly the best of the best.

I laid down for a bit to recover from dinner and the cake and then made hard lemonade with Belvedere. Turned on Iron Man, and passed out somewhere within the next hour. I didn’t expect my ship to sink that quickly, but it was the perfect end to my birthday.


Chinatown in photos

I’ve always wanted to take photos of Chinatown, but I never felt like I could capture the mood and feeling of Chinatown. I went down a few weeks ago and I snapped some shots. Unfortunately, the lights in the street were overwhelming and turning on HDR yielded minimal changes, but here they are:

This is a street off of Pell Street, which is tucked away next to Mulberry and Bowery. The street can only accomodate one car at a time and the buildings are relatively short compared to Soho. I read a book years ago, Low Life, and it talked about the old Chinese gangs and how they’d hide in the little alley and doorways. There are chambers and passages visible from the street that certainly live up to the description that I had in my head.

And then this is actually Pell Street. As you can see, it is a little more commercialized than the previous photo. I sort of think that is why the people in the previous photo were not receptive to my taking photos. They look tense with their arms crossed where as the people in this photo are freely walking and minding their own business. (Although a group of people kept waving and saying hi as they passed me. Not sure who they were or why they did that but I didn’t think twice.)

Joe’s Shanghai is the most famous and well-known Chinese restaurant in New York. Tourists always line the street waiting to be seated here. My friends and I just laugh at them and walk into the dive restaurant across the street. It doesn’t have the best health rating, but we are usually the only ones in there, the prices are great, and the food is delicious.

This is the inside of my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. The wall on my left has to be my favorite because it has imaginary windows. One of them has a waterfall and the next is an open meadow – contradictory and hilarious. The TV in the top lefthand corner is usually either playing Chinese soap operas or Chinese karaoke, both of which have subtitles in Chinese. We joke around and say that the staff is all the same family and that the only male and forgetful waiter is the dumb cousin. The funnier part is that it is most likely true.

Last day at Club Monaco

As much as I would have liked to continue at Club Monaco, I decided that this Friday was an appropriate time to step down to an inactive associate. I met with the General Manager last week and told her that I lost my apartment and that I haven’t finalized my fall semester yet. She was concerned, but I assured her that everything will be fine and that I’ll return in a few weeks and give them my fall availability. I didn’t actually lose my apartment, but I never extended my stay at NYU, so I am staying with a friend for the next two weeks until I go home. (I had planned to explain that to her, but when I sat down, I broke into dramatics. Whoops.) Despite saying otherwise, I will not be returning in the fall, but I do want to return during the holidays and over winter break.

This is our poster downstairs of employees trying on the new collection. (Yes, that pink and blue stripped sweater is real and it looks ten times worse in person.) I want to say that I’ve grown to love some of these people and that they’ve changed me as a person, but they haven’t. I was only there for a month. They are who they are; some are nice, some aren’t. But each one is there for a reason. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of coworkers to make me love their company and to think of a hundred ways to murder them. There’s also a feeling of bittersweet liberation on your last day, in which I took the honors of subtly calling one of the managers an anal bitch.

If all else in my life fails, it is nice to know that I could do this for a living.

Fall Sample Sale at Club Monaco

Club Monaco is hosting their fall 1 and 2 sample sale this week. It is pretty much a mix of last stock’s clothes, new clothes that never made it to production line, clothes that were made in multiple colors and some colors didn’t make it to the floor, and then new and crazy items. (There were a few clothes with baby pins down the sleeves – either that was the style, or tailor marks, but either way it was just weird.) They are hosting it at the Club Monaco corporate suite, 601 West 26th Street, #800, between 11th and 12th Avenue. It is in Siberia and it did take me about thirty minutes to get there, but it is worth it.

I started to realize that it was an event when a dozen or so people got off at the same spot I did on the bus and walked in the same direction. If you know Manhattan, then you’d know that all of six people are ever west of 9th Avenue. And here was about twenty people walking on 11th to the same building. The lines were forming outside of the door, going down the hall, and God knows where else. I couldn’t see the end of the line. I walked up to the security guard and simply said, “I’m a Club Monaco employee.” “I got you.” And he let me in. I was shocked there was no verification, but I am not complaining.

The room was pretty large and clothes were thrown around all over the place. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I realized that I just had to dig in. I’m swimming around in these clothes, trying to find any size that could fit me. I dug through the same pile at fifteen times, each time finding some new and that I didn’t see before. It was as if someone was below the table and throwing up gems at me.

I ended up spending $75 on clothes. Some ladies were racking up receipts of over $200. Most of the room was dedicated to women, but I could only imagine how much that would retail. Here’s my breakdown of retail:

  • $15 for pants: I bought one pair that was unmarked, but it was a lightweight chino, so it would sell for about $70 or more. ($55 savings)
  • $15 for pants: I bought another unmarked pair, but this one was more formal, so I’d say that it would retail at $90 or above. I really think over $100, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. ($75 savings, $130 total)
  • $10 for a shirt: I’ve been eyeing this shirt in the store for a while. It was originally $100, but it was on sale for $70. I wanted it, but didn’t feel like spending that much for a white shirt that was a size too large. This shirt was my size and only $10. ($90 savings, $220 total)
  • $10 for another shirt: I thought I had already bought this shirt, but I don’t think so. Either way, I couldn’t turn it down for $10. It must retail for at least $60. ($50 savings, $270 total)
  • $10 for shorts: Black shorts. Nothing more can be said. Retails at $60. ($50 savings, $320 total)
  • $10 for shorts: Another pair of black shorts. Can one own enough black shorts? That’s a rhetorical no. Retails again at $60. ($50 savings, $370 total)
  • $5 for a tie: It is a black tie with a Club Monaco club on it. Is there a more perfect tie for me? Another rhetorical no. Retails at $70. ($65 savings, $435 total)
If I bought all of this full price, then I would have spent $510. I spent $75 and saved $435. It was a bit of a struggle fighting off the Asians (it helps being triple their height and size), but it was well worth it.

Stack of Oranges

After the MTA changed the bus schedule, my best friend and I decided to walk down to 14th Street instead of scouring for the nearest bus stop that was in service. A few blocks down, we noticed these perfectly stacked citruses and had to take photos. (His turned out much better and less slanted.) We’ve noticed this place multiple times, but we’ve never given it the time of day to walk inside. It’s not much larger than a bodega, and it doesn’t seem to be that well stocked from the outside. I figured it was just another, run-of-the-mill, low-grade local grocery stores. But I’ve never been as wrong in my life – the place is overstocked and gives cheap a new definition.

We cook multiple times a week and use chicken as our primary meat, so we thought to check out the chicken section: $1.99 a pound. I have never seen a price that low in the city. We usually pay $4.99 with our membership discount to Food Emporium. Whole Foods runs the same when it is on sale. But we were staring at two and a half pounds of chicken for five dollars! We both sent texts to our mothers asking if $1.99 a pound for chicken was decent, underpriced, or just right. My mom replies saying that it normal. So does his mom. How on earth did we ever possibly think that $5 a pound for chicken was reasonable?

I also found Russian dressing, which I’ve been hunting throughout the city for ever since my mom gave me the recipe to one of my favorite chicken dishes that she makes. I’m planning on making that sometime this week. I just question if the quality is decent, but half the time our chicken is supplemented by NYU dining, so it isn’t like we are used to the creme de la creme of chicken. I forgot the name of the place, but it is a great find and I look forward to shopping there soon.

Battery Park City

It blows my mind that Battery Park City exists and that it is in Manhattan. Each neighborhood gives off a different vibe, but they are all warm, culturally rich, and unique. Battery Park City sits there at the tip of the island, cold and soul-less. It is full of new buildings, state-of-the-art technology, and modern art, but there is no Manhattan culture or home feeling. My professor last semester always talked about this international professional creative/business class and how they stay in a city for a few years then fly off to the next one. They didn’t have permanent homes. And that’s exactly what Battery Park City is. Professionals come and go. They aren’t tied down to the culture or the city. Battery Park City is simply yet another temporary home. It is the stop before Shanghai and Hong Kong. And that’s not okay with me.

Just look at the stupid monkey: Is that the New York you know? Sure isn’t the one I know.

Little India: Spice Corner

Little India spans a few blocks on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 30th. Unlike Little Italy or Chinatown, both popular and tourist infested ethnic neighborhoods, Little India is relatively unknown to tourists and most Manhattanites. The only street walkers are those who live there, mainly Indian or Near Eastern descent, and students at Baruch College. The streets are lined with Indian curry houses, grills, and formal restaurants. On the corner of 29th and Lexington, a little Indian and Middle Eastern grocery store occupies the lot: Spice Corner.

Two men, presumably the owners, eagerly and warmheartedly welcomed me when I walked into the store. I scoped out the general feel of the store – clean and organized. I asked for couscous and basmati rice, to which one of the men directed me to the shelf and offered a discount. I asked about olive oil. Another direction and discount offered. The back of the store was lined with spice shelves (pictured above): beans, powders, relishes, dried fruits, spices, seasonings. You name it, it was there. I found the bread aisle and was amazed at the selection of poori, naan, and other Indian and Middle Eastern breads. I found package of 10 naan flatbreads. “For you, three dollars,” the man said. I brought it to the counter and handed him three dollars. He walked behind the cash register and came back with a small and sweet looking baked good. “No, no. Just the naan,” I said. “No, for you and your friend.” He sliced it and handled it to me. I don’t know what it was, but it was delicious. It was about a three inch ball of a dense, fried dough, sweet and sugary. I was tempted to buy a pound’s worth of it.

I was amazed by the collection of currencies under the counter glass. I stared at them for a while, hoping that I’d recognize one. At most, I saw a Lebanese note, but I couldn’t confirm as for it was on the Arabic side and I didn’t see any French writing. I didn’t look for long, but I’ll be sure to ask questions next time I am in the store. It’s truly fascinating to see bank notes from other countries. I want start my own collection when I study abroad next year.