New York, I love you.

Sunset on Manhattan

Today marks what would have been my 7th New York Anniversary. 7 years ago, on a day like today, I landed with my one-way ticket to JFK hoping for the best. I had no clue what was in store for me.

I left New York this past January and have not been able to gather my thoughts of what this has meant to me. To those close to me, you know that New York was sucking the life out of me, slowly but surely. No need to get into details here, we all know New York is expensive and demanding. As it was getting close to my last day in the city, I started seeing things differently, you may call it “graduation goggles”. The crowded trains suddenly felt poetic, the hustle and bustle felt energizing and little by little I started to notice the things I was going to miss. 

I used to compare New York City with a drug, you know it’s bad for you but you keep coming back for more. I expressed some of these thoughts during my 5th New York Anniversary post and I think you can sense in my words that I was about ready to go. New York City lifts you up so high, you are soaring, but then it can drop you so hard, the impact is undeniably sobering. I used to think that it drained you but it still felt so good but now I think you feel that way because you’ve forgotten what normal feels like. I danced with so many of these emotions for years. 

Now, New York City feels like an old lover. I know it was not perfect, there were certainly hardships along the way, but I choose to remember the good times and respect the bad times as they have made me who I am today. I go back and rejoice, feeling lucky to have called it mine for however long it lasted. Sure, there are many things I miss and maybe will always miss, but that’s ok. 

Thank you, New York. I believe there is strength in being able to thank someone, something, anything for the good it did, in spite of all the bad. A kind of broken beauty that requires patience and wisdom to be appreciated.

New York, I will always love you. 

[Lunch & Dinner] Charlie Bird

If you know me, you know I have a slight obsession with Charlie Bird‘s farro salad. Why obsess over a salad, you ask? Because it’s delicious, fresh, intriguing and somewhat guilt-free.

Charlie Bird NYC Farro Salad Beaches & Brie

This salad helped me appreciate pistachios in a brand new way because YES, it has pistachios! The parmesan shavings on top just add another level of saltiness greatness, making each bite come to life a bit more.

I have yet to recreate this salad at home but NYT Cooking and All Day I Eat have some great ideas on how to start!

Charlie Bird Cacio e Pepe NYC restaurant Beaches & Brie

Another Charlie Bird favorite? Their Cacio e Pepe. Creamy but so good, I mean, just look at it! They also have a prix fix lunch menu during the week where you can get a small plate (think: farro salad)  AND a pasta for $32. Not super cheap, I know, but it’s worth treating yourself to a nice lunch if you are in the area, especially if it’s a nice day out and you can take advantage of their outdoor seating.

gnocchi Charlie Bird Beaches & Brie

The gnocchi is also another solid option. Try starting with the burrata option, another great pick, but NEVER as a substitution to the farro salad. Promise?

charlie bird burrata nyc beaches & brie

[Dinner] Casa Apicii

Do I try a new restaurant for a chance of greatness or do I go back to a restaurant I already know and love?

This is hands down my biggest challenge when deciding where to go eat. Sometimes I feel defeated by the realization that I will never be able to eat at every single restaurant in NYC and just opt for a classic spot, but more times than not I go to my ever-growing restaurant bucket list and just pull the trigger. 

Last week I went to Casa Apicii and despite the heat inside their back dining area, had an amazing meal.

casa apicii cocktail cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Let’s start with their house cocktail, the Casa Apicii. Their online menu says this drink is made with vodka, crème de peche, aloe, lemon and bitters… but I could have sworn the menu at the table said something about ginger. I love ginger. Still, whatever it had, it was absolutely amazing. Not too sweet or too bitter, and super refreshing.

burrata cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Next, the burrata. I mean, burrata by itself is already all my little heart needs but for it to come served on top of a pea purée with some crunchy, yet super thin bacon strips? Perfection. All the flavors came together nicely and took the burrata to the next level. Yes, such a next level exists.

pasta cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Last but not least (because let’s face it, am I really gonna have space for dessert?) … pasta! Now, before you go ahead and judge me for what looks like a very plain dish, let me tell you that the pasta was insanely good. It is as thick as pasta can be before it crosses the line to being too thick. It was also perfectly and evenly cooked. I don’t think I had ever enjoyed a pasta this thick. The sauce was not super heavy, yet it was loaded with flavor. Can’t go wrong with a classic! Brian had the pasta alla carbonara but was too hungry to let me take a picture of his plate. Ah, marriage.

Oh yeah, I got married. 🙂 (How about I tell you more about that soon?)

Back to Casa Apicii. Great meal, but come prepared to spend a little bit as things add up pretty quickly. Afterwards, you can enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood and admire the gorgeous buildings. Or you can be like me, get on the Path back to Hoboken and accidentally stop by Insomnia Cookies. 🙂

[Lunch] Italian Patio Vibes in Greenwich Village

In the hustle and bustle that can be New York City, I am always delighted to find a little oasis that makes you feel like you’ve traveled elsewhere, even if it’s just for a moment or in this case, a meal. Romagna Ready 2 Go is an authentic Italian restaurant, you can taste their commitment to quality food from your first bite.

Instead of starting with an appetizer, me and my friend decided to split a piadina. It resembles a panini, but it’s not quite the same. The stracchino cheese used was excellent and left me wanting for more.

For the main event, we went with two of the classics: the traditional cannelloni with ricotta and spinach and the lasagna. Both were made with fresh pasta and the combination of ingredients was the perfect culmination to our meal.

Romagna Garden

Just like the food, the space is full of little authentic Italian treasures, like the owner’s grandfather’s racing bicycle straight from Italy. Even if you are not in the mood to stuff your face with fresh Italian food (which if you are not, I’m judging you) the vibe at their outdoor patio is always welcoming and perfect for anything from a business lunch to meeting friends for a drink after work.

 

* Thank you to Romagna Ready 2 Go for a great meal and lovely service. Opinions are my own.*

Governors Ball Recap: My favorite #EEEEEATS and where to get them

I’ll be honest, I have never really been a music festival kind of gal. Something about the amount of money you spend on tickets and the amount of people you have to deal with really kept me away for years. Don’t get me wrong, I love music but I guess I had been picky about where to enjoy it.

In a continuous effort to try new things around New York, I went ahead and got tickets to Governors Ball. I must admit, it was a picture of a ramen burger posted by @Infatuation that really did it for me (more on ramen burgers soon, promise).

I can now say, music festivals are an art and I am not opposed to continue practicing it. Especially when the festival not only offers good beats but also rocks it with the #eeeeeats. Don’t have to tell me twice. Sadly (or may I say, ironically) I knew the food line up better than the music line up. Oh well. Continue reading and you will find everything I ate during Governors Ball, together with info on how to get your hands on these awesome bits of happiness.


Ramen Burger from Ramen Burger

Is it a burger? Is it a mess of noodle fun? It’s both! I had  assumed that the sauce in this masterpiece was bbq but I was positively surprised to taste a special sauce that blew my mind (sesame based, maybe?). The noodles magically stayed in place and the rest is history. Go try it now at Smorgasburg!


Pulled Pork from Mighty Quinn’s BBQ

When pulled pork is messy, you know it’s good. My fiance Brian definitely hoarded this one! The toppings were a nice little addition that helped boost the already amazing taste of the pork.


Mac and Cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

I can’t say no to a good mac and cheese. I should, but I usually can’t. You can tell the cheese they use at Beecher’s is a great quality blend that melts right into perfection, shouldn’t expect anything less from handmade cheese. It’s on my list to stop by their shop and go beyond the mac and cheese straight to the source of all the goodness, cheese.


Uma-ritto (Sushi Burrito) from Uma Temakeria

This is exactly what it sounds like. All the familiar flavors that can be associated with sushi, wrapped up in a handy burrito-like concept. To be honest, not the ideal music festival treat to carry around but man, it photographs so well, right?


Cheesesteak from Phil’s Steak 

Brian is from Philly, so we take cheesesteaks very seriously. We’ve ventured around New York and Hoboken trying to find that perfect, cheese-whiz infused bite and have not felt we’ve been successful just yet. Then Phil’s Steak came along and dare we say, this is the best cheesesteak in the area. Mind you, it is not my personal choice to add ketchup, I actually hate ketchup but Brian totally took over this round of food.


Grilled Corn Mexican Style from Café Habana

Nothing says love and commitment like eating some grilled corn under the rain. Yes, it was pouring at this point but that didn’t stop me from having one last bite. I am a big fan of Cafe Habana and use to get lunch there often when I worked in SoHo, definitely a fun place to go to.


BONUS: Shrimp Roll and Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster

Nothing says summer is real like a nice, flavorful lobster roll. Luke’s Lobster was also at Govball but I am cheating with this picture as it was taken the weekend before at Hoboken’s Pier 13. 🙂 Still, Luke’s is delicious. My favorite part (besides the actual seafood, of course) is their seasoning and the way they prepare their bread. It’s the perfect touch to accompany an already glorious seafood adventure.

Let’s be real, a girl can only eat so much in one day, even with the help of an equally hungry companion. Here are the other spots that I know and love that were also at Govball: By Chloe, Bluestone Lane, Souvlaki and Tacombi.

Can’t wait for next year’s Governors Ball, in the meantime, let’s keep on eating!

Last Night for NYC Restaurant Week!

 

restaurant week

NYC Restaurant Week, you know it’s happening, you’ve seen your friends snap about it, but have you actually made a reservation yet? Well, tonight is the last night, don’t miss out. To me, NYC Restaurant Week is an opportunity to go to those fancy restaurants you wouldn’t be able to afford without a special pre-fix menu, am I right? As you probably know, $38 gets you an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. Not too shabby. If you are like me, you probably end up at a place where wine is $18 a glass and are forced to throw caution to the wind.

While we are in the subject of not caring about anything and eating what makes you happy, below are some pictures of my NYC Restaurant Week experience. I went to Montebello Restaurant and Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. Italian and French, that’s my jam.

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Dinner at Montebello Restaurant was filling and satisfying. Our waiter was super nice and made some excellent recommendations. I got an eggplant parm… as an appetizer! You know you are about to feast when your appetizer is delicious and generous. They also had a nice selection to choose from, as opposed to other places where you can only pick from about two choices. My friend and I, avid eaters as we are, ordered two different entrees and shared. The Crespelle was delicious, think about a crêpe and a lasagna having a baby. Gross in theory, amazing in real life. It doesn’t stop there, we also ordered the Pollo Montebello, a delicious Parmesan crusted chicken, followed by cheesecake AND chocolate cake. Oops.

artisanal nyc restaurant week fondue beaches and brie

Last night, I went to heaven, I mean Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. I got my own little Artisanal blend fondue as part of the restaurant week menu. Oh dear lord, hands down one of the best fondues I have ever had. I need to come back and try their truffle fondue, I can’t even imagine the goodness. I really enjoyed my fall cavatelli entrée with roasted squash, orange poppy seed cream and ricotta (yum, ricotta). Prices are a little high, so think about this as a place for celebratory dinners and special occasions.

It’s not too late to enjoy restaurant week, you still have lunch and dinner today, what are you waiting for?

[Brunch] Al Vez

Al Vez Enchiladas - Cristina Nogueras

“Let’s have brunch in the financial district!” is not quite what would come out of my mouth any given Sunday. What’s great about New York is that if you look close enough, there will be an amazing spot anywhere you need to be. That’s how I ended at Al Vez on a Saturday morning.

One of my good friends was visiting and he wanted to go up the One World Trade Center. I used my trusty Urban Daddy app to find a brunch place worth taking a tourist, a balance of quality and excitement. Al Vez for the win!I had been to Al Vez in Philadelphia and had a really nice dinner. Sure, their dinner was nice, but oh boy, their brunch I dare say is even better.

Al Vez Brunch Breakfast Quesadilla - Cristina Nogueras The breakfast quesadilla was toasted to perfection, filled with scrambled eggs, black beans, pico de gallo, cheddar & jack cheese.
Platains Al Vez Brunch Cristina NoguerasWe ordered a side of plantains con queso or like we Puerto Ricans like to call it, amarillitos. They hit the spot.
Al Vez Huevos Rancheros Brunch Cristina Nogueras  My friend ordered the huevos rancheros. The combination of the two eggs sunny side up, chorizo, black beans, guacamole and salsa ranchera over a crispy tortilla was the perfect mix. Topping any bite with the plantains was just glorious.

On top of the great food, it had a really nice vibe for a Saturday morning. Looking forward to trying this spot for dinner some day.

What brunch spots do you recommend around the financial district?