Last month I got the chance to visit New York City while I was in the northeast for a work trip. I caught up with friends, spent quality time with my bestie Audree Lopez from Simply Audree Kate and got to meet food influencers. After living in the city for a few months in 2013 while interning at Food Network, I love snapping back into the groove of the fast-paced city life. Here’s my weekend recap of all things food and adventure in the Big Apple!
All the Food Stops
After I landed in the city on Thursday afternoon, I went straight to midtown to meet my friend Jessica from college. She recommended this quaint restaurant called Cafe Tarantin and I actually had to look up the exterior on Yelp because it was truly a hidden gem. The grilled haloumi salad with roasted vegetables and portobello was perfectly salty and full of texture. For happy hour that evening I got to meet one of my favorite Food Network Stars, Nikki Dinki! She was on season nine of Food Network Star and is known for her “meat on the side” style of cooking. We got Prosecco at Cask and bonded over ripped jeans, food blogging and developing a brand in the food media industry. She is bubbly, full of energy and simply a blast to be around – exactly as I imagined!
Friday morning I braved the spontaneous SNOW storm that I was unprepared for and walked to get coffee with Skyler Bouchard, a fellow contributor to Food Network Snapchat Discover. We hung out at DTUT in the Upper East Side and talked about being young entrepreneurs in the food media world. That afternoon I roamed around Chelsea Market, one of my favorite spots in the city. The indoor food market is lined with restaurants, shops and vendors. It’s also home to Food Network headquarters! I was craving a crab cake sandwich from the Lobster Place and literally scarfed it down.
One of the places on my NYC bucket list was Mario Bataly’s Eataly, an Italian market packed to the brim with cheese, olive oil, produce, wine, kitchen gadgets and pasta. My family friend Jade and I caught up over a cheese plate and wine. I was in absolute heaven! After, I met Audree at Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen to try Ivan Ramen’s Slurp Slurp shop. I learned about Ivan Ramen from Chef’s Table and was so excited to try the world-renowned ramen expert’s specialty. Instead of the traditional bowl, I tried a vegetarian ramen that had a seriously strong topping game with roasted tomato, greens and creamy soft boiled egg.
One of my favorite things Audree and I did was wake up on Saturday morning and ride the train to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg. During the summer, the market is outdoors under the sunshine, but in the winter it gets moved to to this grand building in downtown Brooklyn. When we entered the main floor, Brooklyn Flea was set up with vendors of vintage clothing, accessories and home decor. Audree was all about making connections with vendors, eyeing inspiration for her fashion blog and hunting for the craziest vintage glasses or perfect rocker tee.
Tucked downstairs was the mecca of food – my playground. I was overwhelmed by the mouthwatering sights and smells of each vendor. Everything from the trendy ramen burger to NYC’s favorite Dough doughnuts were waiting for us to taste test. After a few laps evaluating our options, Audree and I decided to go with skirt steak nachos and a matcha “Wowfull” waffle cone ice cream treat.
We were both basically silent as we devoured our food. The nachos were salty from the chips and scallions, sweet and nutty from the sesame marinated steak, crunchy from the cabbage and toppings, and creamy from the crema drizzle. The matcha waffle with blueberry cheesecake ice cream, topped with mochi bites and pocky was as much fun to eat as it was delicious.
Saturday night Audree and I met up with my two girlfriends, Bianca and Gab, and got drinks at The Jane Hotel. The inside of the Victorian style hotel has a big living room with dancing and amazing music, plus smaller alcoves with a bar and dim lighting. It was probably one of my favorite places I’ve ever been out! The next morning Audree and I woke up and cha cha’d our way to SoHo. We grabbed matcha at the iconic pink Cha Cha Matcha shop while waiting for our table at Jack’s Wife Freda and took photos with the cool street art.
Next up was Jack’s Wife Freda where we met up with two of my other friends, Melinda and Jordan. I had also heard of this spot from all over Instagram, plus read this super cool article about the co-owner Maya’s signature look. Once we sat down, we started with a rosewater waffle with fresh berries and sipped cantaloupe mimosas. The rosewater waffle was something I had never dreamed of before, but I could see myself craving every Sunday from now on. I also had the haloumi poached eggs, inspired by my aforementioned salad! The hour and a half wait was worth it–I loved the restaurant’s blend of American-Mediterranean cuisine and the understated, inviting interior.
After a full weekend of exploring, eating and drinking, I was joined by co-workers and it was time to get back to work on Sunday evening. But then – the craziest part! – is that we got stuck in the blizzard Stella on Tuesday! Thank goodness we stocked up on Uber eats and a couple bottles of wine the night before.
I left the city feeling overjoyed with the adventures and so excited about the possibility of returning. I felt privileged to be surrounded by rock-star gals in New York City who empowered me and made me fall in the love with the city even more. Thanks to Audree for being my hostess for the week and to New York for always opening my eyes to new chapters.
Love food. Love self. Love life.