Saturday, June 30, 2012

Eat Your Way Through the Heatwave

So it's 34C outside (sorry I'm still not familiar with the imperial system...that's like what, 100F?). It's scorching hot, inside and out, and I'm sitting here in my kitchen updating my blog. Also sorry to my avid fans for not updating this past week.

In order to celebrate the pre-Independence Day weekend, my Mom came over and I took her around town. On Friday, we went to check out Times Square, which was crowded with tourists as usual. Funny thing happened because on our way to Dean and Deluca's for lunch, my heel suddenly broke as I was crossing the street. So I was walking and wondering why my right foot felt so airy. Then I looked down and found that I was missing a 3-inch heel!

Well that's a rather telling indicator of the quality of shoes from Daffy's, eh? Luckily, there was a Payless across the street, so I got some shoes that I could at least use for the rest of the day. 

There was nothing too special going on at Dean, so we went to a deli/gourmet food place a block over. We ordered the Health Chicken Special with a side of fries and salad with vinegraitte dressing. We waited for 10 minutes for the food, while overlooking people order delish and robust-looking paninis with a side of pickle and chips. It's a pretty popular place, guess because of the quality and the amount of food you're getting. They also have a pretty wide selection of brekky items, Mexican fast foods (I really wanted to try to the quasaedilla), sandwiches, burgers, pastas, and even stir-fry. 

Hot & Crusty

The order came from a nice man who kept on checking up on my order for me. The chicken was marinated and spiced Caribbean-style then grilled until smoky. The chicken was tender enough to flake off with your flake, with the flavor seeping through the tender meat. 

Health Chicken

Munching our way through...

See that generous drizzle of ketchup?

(Actually to be honest, I used up 1/4 of their bottle of ketchup hehe =).

Yum Yum

So Mom and I did quite well - we cleaned up our plate, though our bellies were about to explode. (But as we glanced over to the next table, a lady was eating the exact same herself). The meal gave us enough energy to brave on through the heat to Herald Square, where we shopped around for the afternoon. There are some awesome stores on 35th and 8th Avenue, and I picked up a Kate Spade jacked for 1/4 of the regular price!

 Later on we went home, brushed up a bit, and headed to the Lincoln Center to watch Swan Lake.

Lincoln Center

The place was packed when we got there, full of people dressed up to the nines. This poor man stood outside with a cardboard sign saying "One Ticket Needed". Guess all the seats were sold out. The seats we got were in the Family tier, which was quite far away from stage. But our trusty little binocular did the trick. 

The female principle who played Odette-Odile was wonderful - her gracefulness matched her solid techniques. Everything about her lines were elegant, and her footwork was clean and sharp. It's too bad she's not a regular at the ABT. The Prince was also very graceful and elegant. Surprisingly, he's from South Dakota, which really stood out from the rest of the Russian/Eastern European-origin cast. But my favorite was the Queen, whose royalty-esque quality exuded through her every movement. Though she didn't have to do anything technically challenging, her acting was spot on.

What I didn't like however was that the place sounded like a baseball game every time someone completed a technique. Particularly because there were a lot of students who cheered and squeamed until my eardrums were blasted. Unfortunately, it really snapped you out of the story and the mood of appreciating the dance. 

During intermission we checked out the orchestra pit, and much to our surprise, one of the violins was doing a crossword and a trombone was reading a book! Honestly, is it that boring playing in an orchestra?

We should have went for a post-theater gelato, but there were too many people lining up outside. So we went home to eat our Starbucks coffee ice cream instead =-)

The next day, after I made Mom a power breakfast of spring onion omelet, we went to Midtown to return the sub-par shoes I broke. Thankfully, the store let me return it and gave me a gift card, which we used up right away.  

Originally I wanted to take Mom to Bi Lokma, a Turkish place that I found on New York Magazine. But it was closed for the weekend (shoulda figured this from the ghost-town feel of Midtown), so we went to Maharaja, an Indian joint near Grand Central. Apparently it's also called "Hurry & Tasty Curry" .

Indian Guard (ing the sacred spices?)

There was nothing in a hurry on this particular Saturday. Everything was heated to a halt. We ordered the lunch special, which consisted of one appetizer, a curry and a dessert. It came a good 15 minutes later, after we watched the owner scrub the tables, then use the same mop to scrub the plates and cups. (This made us kind of scared when picked up our water cups >< ). It's a pretty small and dingy place, with one rest room in the basement which was running out of paper. Made us also question the sanitary standards of the place. 

Lunch Special

We got the lamb curry, which came with a side of samosa, some vegetables and sweet rice patty dessert. I really liked the airplane tray that it came in, because it brought back some great memories of my own childhood airplane tray food table that I absolutely adored (I refused to eat anything that wasn't on it). It also came with this trio of sauces in a cool looking sauce serve trio. 

Sauces - tamarind, mint spices, yogurt lemon

We were pretty hungry as our late-lunch arrived, so we dug right in. The samosa was delicately spiced with a flaky crust and soft yellow fluffy potatoes. It tastes pretty good with the sweet tamarind sauce. The other two sauces tasted a little strange to my non-Indian palates, with the yogurt thing being too sour and the minty thing being too spicy (although the owner swore that her dishes are not spicy at all).

The naan tasted absolutely divine! Flaky, chewy and perfectly grilled. It tastes amazing with a slab of the vegetable dish. But the lamb curry was a bit too spicy, even with the jasmine rice. The dessert cake thing was waaay to sweet, even for my liking. My Mom had to finish hers with some of the yogurt sauce.

Post-starvation effect

We really cleaned up our plate this time. Our waitress thought that we were going to order two of these,  but I explained to her that we both had very small stomachs. Even she was impressed at our speediness to clean up the plate. 

Afterwards, we checked out the Chelsea Pier in the Meatpacking District, and nearly fainted from the glaring sun on our way back. We treated ourselves to some lovely Mickey D's dipped cones. A customer beside me ohhhed when she saw it. I couldn't believe that Mickey D's charge so much tax on their food, while clothing stores charge no tax at all!

Chocolate-Dipped Cone

As we were enjoying our cones, it hit me why American clothes sizes are so...well, for a lack of a better word, so large. It's quite possibly because of the tremendous amount of grease in their foods, and the tremendous amount of Mickey D's they eat, and because of the tremendous serving portions. Ah-ya. But alas, as the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. 

So next time a heat-wave comes to you, I highly suggest you eat your way through town, grease-and-dirt included. Otherwise, you can opt to stay home and get yourself a 22lb watermelon (a man paid $14 for his at a nearby grocery store), and do this...


Hot n Crusty
**** (4 out of 5)

*** (3 out of 5)
Kids friendly on weekends only

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Riding the Wave

Last night we finally checked out Wave Thai, the uber-popular thai restaurant near my place that the whole town is raving about.  We had originally planned on going to LAUT for their Malaysian week prix fixe, but had a change of plans. So we went to Wave Thai instead.

We dropped in around 7.30, and the place was bustling about. Due to the busy-ness, the manager was also part of the wait staff in the family-run business. He was really friendly and seated us down with a joke.

Since we just had a downpour, it was kind of muggy outside, so we got the last two seats inside tucked away in a corner, beside a family with a small baby called Stella sitting on a high-chair right next to us.

Wavy menu

Everything about this place had a wavy theme, from the menu to the forks to the lights in the decor. It was dimly lit with red wavy lights on the ceiling. A candlelight on the table casted some light on the food.

Wavy fork!

I really liked their buddha-inspired water fountains outside the restroom. Although they didn't mark the gender, you could tell by the statue beside the restroom. 

We were pretty much starving when we got in, so we started ordering right away. While we were ordering the cute little baby Stella kept on starring at me, so I played with her a little bit. Her parents were really nice and kept on calling me the "nice lady".

The wait staff is really attentive. Soon after baby-talking the appetizer arrived - curry puffs with potato and pork with a side of marinated cucumbers.

Curry puff

Much to my surprise, the curry was not pungent at all. It was more sweet than spicy, which fit my palate perfectly. When you take the first bite, the flaky pastry greets your taste buds, and then you are welcomed thai-style by soft and fluffy potatoes intermingled with more chewy pork. The meat tasted a lot like char-siu pork buns. I also really liked the crunchy sweet and vinegary marinated cucumbers, which was refreshing and palate-cleansing against the slightly heavier puffs.

Only downside though is that there's only 2 puffs - I could have easily stuffed another one down =) oh and another downside was that mid-way through this delicious dish, hubby spilt iced water over me, and I was drenched =(  Ah well. 

But right after I came back from the restroom, my Malaysian iced tea arrived =)

Malaysian iced tea

This is really similar to Viet-style coffee, but the syrup tasted like molasses, giving it a special twang.

We ordered a curry and a noodle dish. I've never tried Thai curry before, so I didn't want anything too strong. Thankfully, hubby chose the exact one as the one I was looking at - the Massaman with coconut milk, potatoes, carrots and peanuts. Basically, it was like your staple meat-n-potatoe stew with curry and coconut milk.

Massaman Curry

This was a relatively mild spice whose aromatic spices lingered in your throat, but it wasn't a bad lingering, it was just addictive! I think I must have been reincarnated in Thailand one lifetime because I really enjoyed the sweet-n-spicy combination. Actually originally I thought I wouldn't like it, because perhaps because I didn't eat at an authentic Thai restaurant. 

The curry came with a side of rice that you should dip with to absorb the spices.  

Keeping in tune with Thai-cuisine, we ordered Wave Thai's own rendition of Street Noodles, which was like pad thai but less spicy. It came with bak choy, Chinese broccoli, and minced garlic. We got it with vegetarian duck, which had the appearance of eggplant and the consistency of chewy bean curd. Since it was spongy, it easily absorbed the black bean sweet sauce. This is a flavour-intense dish, but it didn't leave me thirst-mongering like most MSG-drenched Chinese noodles.

Only thing was the beef was way overcooked, making it rough and uber-hard to chew. I had to spit out most of mine =(

Street Noodles (aka Pad C U)

We cleaned up all of our dishes, down to the last rice. It was amazing, and I was super-stuffed.

End of the wave

But we just had to try the fried ice cream. It came with a flaky, doughy exterior that once you bit into, the sweet and still cold ice cream welcomed you with open err...arms I guess.

Fried Ice Cream

When we left, Stella's parents kept on thanking us for being so nice, but I couldn't understand why they did, because who wouldn't be nice to a cute little baby waby?

I'm really glad we had the change to plans to visit Wave Thai, because the taste was right-on (except for the overcooked beef), the service was great (minus hubby spilling iced water on me), and the total bill was $40, and that's including an appetizer, a drink and a dessert.

Wave Thai
**** (4/5 stars)

Kids-friendly (sort of, if it's not too crowded)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Town

Last weekend we had a little getaway at the Catskill Mountains. Despite its lackluster name, it's actually a charming little town. It's most famous for the Kaaterskill Falls, which is apparently higher than Niagara and a lot prettier. 

Kaaterskill Falls

Plus you get to climb to above 1/3 of the way up, and if you want to risk falling over the precipice you can choose to climb all the way up (which I did, and almost fell). I couldn't have survived without my trusty little walking stick.

A lot of tourists leave their mark after climbing up the falls. 

Carvings on stone

The falls was only a few minutes away from our Twilight Lodge. It's really easy to miss when you're driving because the entrance to the hike is barricaded from the highway, so people who don't do their homework wouldn't know to stop there.

There's a nearby North/South Lake where you can go swimming or boating. We rented a two-person kayak. It was so relaxing enjoying the fresh country air and beautiful scenery (although we almost crashed twice into the bushes due to my steering...or lack thereof =).

North/South Lake

You can also hike up the mountains from the lake. There used to be a very famous hotel called the Catskill Hotel where the presidents and VIPs from around the world used to stay for their R&R. This is the vantage point from where the hotel used to be. 

View from the ( demolished) Catskill Hotel

Another beautiful way to enjoy the mountains is to take a sky-ride from Hunter's ski resort. There's also a zipline for adventure extremists. We went a little late in the day so we couldn't stay to take pictures at the top. But the ride itself was worth it.


It's actually quite a steep climb, definitely not for the faint of heart. Once the ski-lift got stuck - I guess to drop someone off below - but we were at an uber high altitude, so to feel the cart dangling 1600m from ground was not cool. (Ok, I admit it, I'm a big chicken. Sorry for the people down there hearing a crazy girl scream her head off =)

After the sky-ride, we tried our hand at a round of mini-golf.

This shot here is an amazing hole-in-one, made by hubby =) Unfortunately I spent most of my time fishing out my ball out of the creek.

After another gelato at the Astor House, we went for a drive. A couple of towns over you'll find a lovely cow ranch.

Cow ranch

Reminds of the raw milk I drank the other day. Although it was unpasterized, it tasted a lot like normal milk, just a lot fresher. 

Main Street is the happening street in Tannersville, the town next to Twilight. We checked out the General Store on Main Street. It was the cutest little store ever!

Plaques bearing adages

What a cute little wittle rabbit

Guess what this is?

A popcorn machine! And what is this next one for?

A food scale! Guess small towns need to measure small jelly beans.

Ole-fashioned countertop

They even sell ice cream floats and burgers here! The setting of this countertop reminds me of the 70s, and even the teens hanging out here had an old-school twang. They were signing yearbooks while sipping on Coke.

I was surprised by the number of general stores. Every town had its own General Store. This one is Twilight's. It sells mostly canned items and a whole lot of souvenirs.

Twilight General Store

I found this pretty funny - an ice cream cone on top of a closed down shack...

Ice-cream shack

And of course, no town is complete without...

Yummy Asia

That's right - even this town with a population of 500 or so has its token Chinese restaurant.  And it was funny that when I went to this jewelry store the owner asked me if I were the daughter from California. I was like, "Excuse me?" The shop owner explained to me that the Chinese couple who ran the Chinese restaurant had a daughter living in California who was visiting town that weekend. Wow, everyone does know each other in a small town.

Jelly blob from jewelry store

Being around nature and living in a small town makes you take in the little things in life, like watching the sunset or taking time to smell the hydrangea. Only downside is that there's not a lot of places to hide from your wife....muwahaha.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mickey D's

I know, I know, this is normally a big no-no for a diet conscious fanatic like me. But hey, everything in moderation. Once in a blue moon can't hurt you, right?

During a rest break, we grabbed some MacDonald's for lunch. I wasn't really hungry, so I got an Oreo McFlurry (which I love dunking fries in, but this time I decided to omit the fries to detox a little from a calories-packed weekend), while hubby got a 10-count chicken McNuggets.

The price at this crowded rest stop was a little over-the-top, even more than the price in the city. For a McFlurry and McNuggets (no meal), it was a little over $8. The price is starting to resemble China, where a McDonald's meal can cost you an arm and a leg (at least for the average Chinese worker).

Nuggety Goodness

I'm usually not a fan of McNuggets, but boy were these good. Crunchy on the outside (plastered with starch albeit), and tender on the inside (made from un-free-range, un-organic fed chickens albeit). The honey mustard sauce was sweet and tangy. Although I only had two nuggets (didn't want to deprive hubby of his), my tastebuds were thanking me.  

Oreo McFlurry

The coolest - and perhaps scariest - part about McFlurries is that you don't know what it's made out of. What kind of ice cream doesn't budge when you shake it upside down?

Amazing Feat

Nevertheless, no one can beat the taste. And the best part? Because it's so creamy and sugary, it leaves you feeling hungrier than when you started!

Guess that's the secret behind Mickey D's - have 'em coming back for more, even when their bodies are begging them not to! Hey, I fell for it, and so can you =)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Of Books and Gelato

Astor Place is a neat little bookstore/art gallery/gift and home decor shop/sandwich shop/bakery tucked away on Main Street of Tannersville. It's straight out of something you would see in Gilmore Girls, replete with coffee, intellect and flair.

Of course what interested me the most was their dessert section. Most of the items there are homemade, like these sour cherry milk chocolate truffles.


These treats look like they belong in Dean and Delucas, but they are 1/3 of the price and sized for a normal person's portions.

Hubby got the milk chocolate almond crave bar (whew that's a mouthful). It was a chocolaty bar with a generous helping of almond slivers and rocky road chocolate mix. The best part was that it used real cocoa, so it wasn't all that sweet.

I really wanted any one of these but unfortunately I wasn't feeling all that hungry. Some of them were pretty creative.

Raspberry Almond Tart

Zebra Tart

Raspberry Limzer Tart

Cheese Crown with Apricot Glaze

Apricot-glazed Apple Tart

They also have an extensive gelato menu, all imported from Italy.

I tried some of the coconut gelato - it was really coconuty and nutty. I would have liked it but it was way too sweet, and I already had my share of sweets earlier that day from Magnolia cupcakes.

Toasted Coconut Almond Fudge

So we settled on the mango gelato that hubby and I were both eyeing. It was true to its origin, with the mango being just ever so slightly sour to balance the sweetness of the gelato.

Mango gelato

The next day, we came back again after our mini-golf session to cool off. I tried some of the carrot cake, but again, it was a little to sweet for me (yea I know, too sweet for a sweet-tooth...sigh).

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I tested the Banana Foster with bananas and a swirl of caramel. It really hit home. The creamy banana with a caramel drizzle was smoothly intense yet not overly sugary. I just wish I had some real bananas to go with.

Banana Foster

I sat outside on the patio enjoying my gelato, while flipping through a magazine and rocking to the Elvis patio music.

Guess which is real?

Then we went back into the house and played a game of chess (where I was checkmated twice in the same game), while sipping on a cup of iced coffee. Ah, how sweet it is.