Monday, May 31, 2010

Greenwich CT

Day 3 of the weekend.
Another beautiful day weather wise. We did not want to hit the heavy traffic usually happens on the last day of long weekend, so we decided to spend the day near by. We packed the left overs to the park in Greenwich. Not so many people were at this park, as the people there might have access to "private" clubs to spend the day. It was in mid 80s but under the tree shadow, it was very pleasant. Sometime I like left over more than the original meal. I don't know why.
After walking around the downtown of Greenwich, we bought French pastries for afternoon treat - Napoleon and puffs. Both were very French as their pastry cream was rich and with a lot of vanilla beans. Having this during the day was a good idea since it was heavy on my stomach.
By using the items from the Korean grocery, dinner menu was steak, meat-less Niku-Jaga, Miso soup (which someone likes more than I do), and home made and store bought pickles. We opened a bottle of wine, even though we don't drink that often. Everything came out very nice and we enjoyed the dinner very much. Now ready for Nintendo tennis tournament...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beach and BBQ

Day 2 of the long weekend was a perfect beach day - upper 80s with nice breeze.
We of course went to the beach today by driving just about one hour. Heavy traffic due to the air force show over the last two days. We have never seen this much traffic since we started coming here several years ago. After passing the heavy spot, the parking lot itself was not too bad and so as the beach. The size (width) of the beach all depends on the day and today's beach was wide and it feels like it was not as crowded as it was - family, couple, young group and others enjoying the perfect beach day.
We usually leave the house before 8 am to enjoy morning beach and pack to leave after noon. Why not stay there a whole day through the afternoon? Because we need to come to this BBQ place on the way home.
This is a chain but they have good BBQ and burgers. These are our typical choices - their ultimate burger, which has bacon strips and pulled pork, and two meats combo. Their side dishes were good and so as corn bread/muffin. Relax, we could not finish all and we brought some back home. This rib tips were like over pound easily.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Korean Lunch and Chinese Dinner?

It was not as nice weather as we thought, so no beach today.
What we did today? Our favorite Korean lunch in NJ. It could be tricky to cross the GW bridge during the weekend, but it was not so bad.
As usual - Kimchi with beef and Pork hot Tofu soups, and beef ribs.
Oh boy, they are the best. I like the rice they cook in the stone bowl per table. They pour the Korean tea into the bowl after serving majority of the rice.
After stopping at the Korean grocery store, it was already time for dinner.
Dinner menu - Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, chicken with Napa cabbage, and of course kimchi. Simple but nice meal to complete the first day of the long weekend.
Stay turned for our 2nd day...

Italian in Bronx

I know that not so many people think you can get good Italian food in the Bronx, but there are huge population there. Our long weekend started with the meal at our favorite Italian in the Bronx.
This time we had appetizer - typical Italian nibbling. Roasted red pepper, salami and beans were my favorite. I usually don't drink but this appetizer made me in a mood to have one glass of wine.
Main courses - clam (a lot of them) pasta with white wine sauce, and chicken with spicy Italian sausage with spicy sauce. Wow it was really spicy not only because of the sausage but there were chunk of hot peppers.
This place is usually packed by locals, but this time was exception. Only a few parties, and they even gave us FOUR people seating. I guess many people were away from the city to enjoy the time outside.
What's next...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Stay-in Memorial Weekend

Finally it is Memorial weekend - even though it is still Friday early afternoon. I can imagine many people at the office start leaving around 2/3 today.
It seems we will enjoy stay-in weekend this year. 3 times out of last 5 Memorial weekends, we were on the trip - Chicago, Savanna, New Orleans, but last two years we are in the city or near by. Even we don't go anywhere far away, we will still enjoy day trip or two over this weekend as long as the weather coordinates with what we would like to do. If it hits 80 degree, which seems likely, we even go to the beach (yup beach in May, which is typical in NYC I guess).
So stay turned to see what we will do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tour Guide for the Weekend

After one day of the break on Friday, I was back as "full-time" tour guide this weekend.
After picking them up at the MET (I did not need to see the museum) and walking through the Madison ave. with some shopping, we landed at who knew Ess-a for lunch. I had raisin pumper nickel with sun dried tomato cream cheese, while they ordered multi grains with smoked salmon sandwich. They said that the bagel here is different from what they can buy in Japan (yes, it apparently is popular in Japan). It is much softer than here - I think everything is softer there in Japan.
The tour continued by walking through the fifth ave. with another round of shopping all the way to the Ground Central station. Emerald green ceiling there seemed very unique in their eyes, so as chandeliers.
A quick subway ride took us to the Union Square area for ANOTHER round of shopping. Ten blocks of walk lead us to my favorite the Flat Iron building. I still remember when I came to NYC first time, like 15 years ago, that building caught my eyes vividly and I have been liking that building ever since.
We were hungry by the time (maybe 7:30???), so we decided to grab very American (or NYC) dinner. The place? - Brooklyn Diner next to the Carnegie Hall. The dishes we ordered were - Ruben sandwich (pastrami), cheese burger (no picture) and fried chicken with waffle. I wanted them to taste pastrami at some point, so finding this menu was "yes!!!" and so as fried chicken with waffle. Even though there were eye catching deserts displayed, we decided to end the day with only the dinner. (BTW, we shared one piece of BIG Junior cheese case at the Grand Central.)
Sunday, we met at the MoMA - yes my friends are very cultured... There was a Israel parade on the fifth ave. so we were so glad we did the shopping there on Saturday. After stopping by at the CBS store - one of my friends are into CSI NY show, we took a subway ride to 72nd and Broadway. Yup, next stop was Fairway for lunch. I did not know they have a restaurant on the 2nd floor, but it seems to me that it is famous and even in the guide book in Japan. SEVEN stucks of pancake, omelet, and stake and egg. We were luck to have a table next to a big window enjoying the view of the Broadway, and they were enjoying the view of waiters too...
After stopping by at Zabar's for Eco-bags shopping (I know it does not sound right, but Zabar's is pretty famous in Japan and many Japanese buy their Eco-bag for souvenir), we took #1 subway to all the way to Christopher street station. NYC has so many different neighborhoods and   I wanted to show something different - west village. Walked around Bleecker street by sneaking several boutiques and street vendors. There was a long line at the Magnolia bakery thank to Sex and The City (and their movie is coming to the theater).
Another stop - East Village by taking a quick bus ride. 10 minutes of the ride gave us totally different feeling. Since they had 7 pm show to catch, we decided to have a quick (but BIG) bite - at the restaurant on 60th (yup, we took a bus ride all the way from 8th to 60th on the 3rd ave.) A huge pie, but I ate a half of it while they ate two pieces each.
Walking through the 59th street all the way to 7th ave. by checking out the Central Park (strong smell due to the horses...)
It was so much fun to show around the city to someone. No rain over 5 days of the stay so no complain. My legs/feet were so tied and I don't think I need to do any leg exercise for a while.
This is a shot on the way back home at the station while waiting for a train. Not to be mean, but she could wear something "appropriate".

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tour Guide for a Day

My friend's friends (based on my neighbor Ms. J., whom we ran into at a cafe in Brooklyn Heights, I should call them my friend) are visiting NYC from Japan, and I was (and will be this weekend) their tour guide. Started with picking up them at the hotel in mid-town, and took a subway to Brooklyn Heights - the best part. Showed them around the neighborhood, and the main event - crossing the bridge. I don't remember when was the last time I did (walking over the bridge)...
It was a gorgeous day yesterday and there were a lot of people crossing the bridge like us, but majority of them were coming from the city to Brooklyn. In my opinion, going from Brooklyn to the city is a better choice, since you can see the skyline while crossing the bridge.
After stopping by at Century 21 for a little shopping, we headed to the China town for supper. I had a few in mind, but ended up with the one serving a great crab dish. You can't eat that much crab meats, but their sauce is well worth it. Very cheap dinner but they seemed satisfied with their first NYC dinner. They are on their own on Friday, but I hope they are OK as I coached them on the subway system and directions.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

$1 Worth of Heaven

It was only $1, but the value this gave to me was unmeasurable.
I am talking about the bagel from Ess-a (yup, nothing serious). I needed to be in midtown this weekend, and I stopped by at Ess-a to buy SIX of my favorite bagels - multi grains and cinnamon & raisin. One was gone in the subway car (I swear I have never eaten anything in the car before, but the warmth and aroma were tempting me and I was weak), three were sleeping in the freezer, and the rest have been consumed as my breakfasts.
You don't need cream cheese or anything (or even need to toast) up to one day... This might be the reason why I am in NYC.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fantastic Saturday

This could be one of the best days of the year weather wise (or at least a weather person on the TV this morning was saying). It was a spectacular day today.
We drove 45 minutes north to enjoy this great weather by visiting a Japanese garden. It is a part of museum one lady started in 1950s. Surprisingly big garden with pretty authentic layout and trees. There was a bamboo garden (area) where we could see several baby bamboos (Take-Noko). My home in Japan had a bamboo garden behind my house, and we harvested them every morning in the Spring and used them for Miso soup, Ni-Mono (Japanese stew) and others. There was a small private party, and kids were enjoying the weather and chasing large frogs in the pound.
We cooked chicken for dinner along with roasted vegetables and beans salad. We cooked Miso soup and brown sticky rice (but no picture of them) too. Everything came out really good and someone would enjoy the left-overs as much as we enjoyed them as dinner tonight. Oh, did I tell you we bought apple pie for desert? It is ONLY 5 inch (vs. 9 inch), so we don't need to feel guilty having them.

Friday Seafood Dinner

We had been thinking to go to this restaurant for a while, and finally we went last night for dinner.
We started our dinner with New England Clam Chowder - it was very creamy (meaning high calories???) and a lot of clams with chunky vegetables.
We both had fried food - fish and chips and fisherman's platter (shrimps, scallops, calamari, and some white fish). Their tartar sauce and coleslaw were both good. Even we had a big appetite, we were not able to finish the dishes and took some home. We need to be a bit more healthy conscious this weekend to offset these rich dishes...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lovely Neighbor and Rhubarb?

I am so lucky to have great neighbors in my building in a big city like New York. My building has a variety of people - retired people to high profile professional people.
My favorite has been J. who is retired but very active - every day she has something on her calendar, e.g. museum, play, dinner with friends...
I ran into her on the way back from the gym. She mentioned about rhubarb last time we talked but this time she gave me her rhubarb source/filling - with strawberry along with orange zest and ginger (my guess). I don't recall I had this before, and it is very refreshing. I might try it with ice cream next time (if we run into again and she still has it for me). Thank you - J.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Trip to Sedona AZ - Day 3

Third day in Sedona started with breakfast at the terrace.
It was a bit chilly but a cup of warm coffee warmed up us and made us ready for another great hiking and relaxing day. As our server recommended, we decided to hike around the Bell Rock today.
As you can see it does shape like bell. Easy access from the highway, but we walked around this rock for about 2 hours. We found another couple of Japanese people there as well and a few on the rock laying down.
Another spot she recommended was the chuch built in the rock (no picture). It literally stands in the rock even though the church itself was pretty small. Even thought it is pretty dry land, there were flowers including this cactus flower.
From this church, you can see the Bell Rock and the Court Rock. It is only a few miles away, but it looks far away at the same time.
Last dinner in Sedona was much casual side. At a local casual dining, we had icy cold beers, and pizza and pasta dishes. I don't remember when was the last time to have this thick crust (vs. think crispy crust in NYC). They make their own Italian sausage, which was good on the pizza.
It was a wonderful trip this time to Sedona. A half day of hiking, and another half day at the beach side (25 meter pool) and playing tennis. We had a great time - relaxing and some exercise not need to feel any guilt to eat bad foods.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Trip to Sedona AZ - Day 2

After having breakfast at the hotel with great mountain views, we started the day with climbing up the Cathedral Rock. We met TWO Japanese groups at the parking lot, where only 10 cars can park, so I started asking one group "is it popular in Japan?", and the lady was saying "hell yeah".
This is the mountain (rock) we climbed.
It is already 4000 feet above the ocean so breathing was not that easy. We needed to stop every 10 minutes or so.
Even though the sunshine was very strong, thin layer of cloud and constant winds helped us keep cool, or at least not so much of sweat. This was the view from the top (actually not on top of the rock but in between the rocks) seeing the other side. It was breath taking view. Surprisingly you can see a lot of greens even though it seemed very dry. If you drive 20 minutes or so north, there was a huge apple firm in the past.
Look at the color of the sky... So blue, and the contrast with red rock and green. It was a bit of spiritual experience to directly face with this creation by nature. I have to assume "someone" made this natural creation millions of years ago.
Our hotel was 10 miles south of Sedona downtown, so not so many tourist except the hotel we are staying. Our pick for the dinner was Italian restaurant. Good (again we are from NYC, so it is very difficult to find a great restaurant on vacations) food and nice atmosphere. Outdoor seating was nicer, but we did not have a reservation so it was not assigned to us. That was OK since we had great views all day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Trip to Sedona AZ - Day 1

We decided to go to Sedona in AZ for this spring vacation, before my job becomes much busier.
7 hours of flight time with 3 hours of time difference - I guess they don't use day time saving, and 2 hours of mountain drive from the Phoenix airport, finally we arrived in Sedona. The views from the car were stunning, surprising and beautiful. Up and down hills gave us a few times of ear pop-ups too.
After getting off route 17, the view totally changed to RED rocks. All the mountains and hills were RED.
We had dinner at close to the hotel bistro restaurant. Local beers and some good american food - burger and salmon. Bed early for early start on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Walk and The Pie

I have been liking to take a walk after dinner these days.
Weekday evenings attract a bit different crowds at the park, it seemed - more locals maybe, but still many people were taking pictures. It was very nice day yesterday.
I have crave for apple pie for some reason some time (or always). Lucky me, I have a great place to buy apple pie near by. I think they started selling individual size (still too big to finish by myself), so I bought one of them (vs. a slice of pre-cut pie). Their pie filling is so fresh and it tastes just a hint of spices not overpowering. Cut in third, so it should stay for 3 days, but not sure I can resist from the temptation...
Walk and The Pie, sounds like Sex and The City, right?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Summer Like Weekend

Even though it just turned to May this weekend, it feels like one of the weekends in July. Very warm and humid.
Our weekend started on Friday. We cooked easy Chinese style noodle dish. I usually don't follow the recipe but I got the idea from some website. I swapped fried Tofu with chicken, and changed the cooking method a bit, but follow the mixture of the sauce. I did not have time to cook rice - we eat brown rice which takes much longer time (90 to 120 minutes), so we used thin Asian noodle. (like So-Men in Japan).
Because the dinner was VERY light, we did not feel guilty having desert - velvet cake from Baked. It had a hint of cinnamon and cocoa. Baked does not use cream cheese frosting, but butter cream, which I thought was unique. The cake was very moist and good. I might like to have a bit more cocoa taste though.
We went to Philadelphia on Saturday to meet up with my friend, who is having THREE babies this fall. To meet her in the afternoon, we decided to have lunch on the way in NJ.
I think that NJ is the capital of diners, and we picked the one supposed to be the best in NJ. They serve the buns - cinnamon and cheese (both are sweet) to every table. It was like 6 by 6, meaning not too small, and steamy hot (just out of the oven). They were not too oily/buttery and good.
Our main dishes were bagel with smoked salmon and white fish (no surprise),
and typical breakfast egg and home fried potato. Both were huge and really good. I only know a few places' white fish, but theirs was bit more sour (not just mayonnaise).
A lot of Italian sausage, onion and belle peppers, this egg dish was awesome!!!
Finally we arrived in Philadelphia - very different from NYC even though it is only 2 hours drive away. I could not point anything specific but you can feel it is a different city.
Have you ever seen a mother with three babies? She is only three months pregnant but she looked like already 8 months pregnant. We will go back down there this fall or so to see the babies. How exciting...