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] 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.*

[Lunch] Why I love Maple and no, it’s not the syrup

Maple photo // Beaches & Brie

Image source: Maple

Seamless, beware. Maple is here to stay.

Maple is a food delivery service that brings in fresh, high quality meals right where you need them with the promise of excellent service and satisfaction. If you seek variety with a sense of security when it comes to your delivered meals, keep on reading.

Maple is not a subscription service, unlike what my first impression suggested. There are no commitments when you sign up for Maple, every day is a new opportunity for you to order, or not, up to you. Its unique and sleek presentation might make you forget that it’s really just a restaurant ready to make you happy with delicious meals.

How is it different? What first attracted me to inquire about Maple was their chef-inspired meals and the promise of fresh ingredients being used in healthy, yet savory plates. Little did I know that I was also about to encounter pretty much excellent customer service.

I really like the fact that they use recyclable material for the food containers and in addition, they give you bags you can actually use again for other purposes. Special shout out to their branding team, it’s easy to find your delivery guy in a busy lobby (first world problem, I know).

If I had to say something “negative” about Maple is that their menu constantly changes, so if you find a favorite plate you might not see it every single day. But hey, I think that’s part of the excitement and its charm. There’s a play with anticipation and looking forward to that element of surprise.

Now, let’s talk about what matters… the food. Don’t worry, I will not bore you with every single plate me and my coworkers have ordered from Maple thus far (a lot). Instead, I will share my first few meals which really sold me in and turned me into a fan.

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Meal #1 – Ginger Braised Chicken

Like I mentioned before, their customer service is great and that is definitely the firs thing I noticed. Not only did they have a perfectly seamless experience, but they were right on time. On top of that, the food was delicious, fresh and just the right amount. Absolutely tops my typical, boring salad game I have going on for lunch most days.

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Meal #2 Citrus Ginger Tofu on Cashew Rice

I did not know tofu could taste so good and feel so tender. Also, the spice was an excellent kick to keep my day going. I have not seen this plate a lot, but it is probably my current favorite.

Maple Kitchen // Beaches and Brie

Another thing to note is that they do not currently accept substitutions. I imagine it is to keep the efficiency going and I respect that. They literally list every single ingredient used in every single plate so you know what you are getting. I have chosen not to order certain plates because of one ingredient I may not be a fan of (mustard, ugh) but there is always at least one option each day that I feel happy about.

Overall, I love how they separate the food to keep it fresh and true to its flavor, yet they pair perfectly. Quantities are also just right, I’ve never been ridiculously full or left feeling hungry. Honestly, prices are not bad at all. Considering that the itemized price includes tax and tip, $11-$13 for the type of lunch you get is great, keeping in mind it’s New York City.

Have you tried Maple yet? If so, what has been your experience? Would love to hear about your favorite Maple plates too!

 

** Thank you Maple for providing me with my first free meal! All opinions are my own. **

5 Places I am Thankful for

I love this time of year. There are so many reasons to celebrate, be with family and EAT. In spite of everything people have to say about Thanksgiving and how we are superficial for celebrating one day and then shopping our lives away the rest of the season, I still love this day.

This year, I decided to  count my blessings in the form of places, thankful for everything these places represent and what they have offered me.

IMG_13055. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The oldest settlement in Puerto Rico, this old town is full of wonders. You can’t get bored in Old San Juan. You can find all types of food, from food trucks to fancy latin fusion cuisine. You can also find all sorts of drinks, from Puerto Rican “moonshine” or “chichaito” to a classic passion fruit sangría. I am thankful for all the fun times Old San Juan has given me, from late night with friends to fun days with family, it all happens here.

 4. Strasbourg, France

Yes, I love Paris and all of its enchantment. Still, I am completely biased to Strasbourg. This city in the region of Alsace, just minutes away from Germany, is very underrated. The unique fusion you find here is quite incomparable. L’Alsace for dummies? Like if France and Germany had a baby, but of course, there is so much more to it. I am thankful for Strasbourg’s culture and history, this city opened my eyes to so many things and I will always be thankful for that. Thanks to Strasbourg and my wonderful host family, I also discovered my true love for food.

 3. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is always on my list. It is a special city I am always waiting to return to. Have only been there for a few days, but I fell in love with it. I’m thankful for this city’s vibrant colors, inspiring architecture and delicious food.

 2. New York, New York

Ah, where to begin with this little gem? I have a love/hate relationship with this city. It is easy to forget it’s electric magic when you are deep in the trenches questioning your life choices, but this place makes you better and stronger by just being there. I am thankful for everything this city inspires me to be and for all the food from the world I have at my reach. New York, you make me stronger and wiser with each passing day.

20131226-170718.jpg1. Puerto Rico

You think I would limit Puerto Rico to just Old San Juan? Wrong. Puerto Rico is my favorite place in the world. I doubt any of the places in my bucket list could ever change that. I am thankful for Puerto Rico’s people, we are not perfect, but we are pretty awesome. I am thankful for the incredible ecological diversity you can find in this little island. I’m thankful for all the amazing food you can taste here, from my mother’s cooking to the many restaurants that offer hundreds of plantain plate varieties. I am thankful for Puerto Rico because it is an intrical part of who I am.

What places are you thankful for? Would love to hear your stories!

Happy Thanksgiving!