Sunday, May 31, 2009

Japan Day

On Sunday, a bunch of my friends and I ran in the Japan Day 4 mile race in Central Park. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and just perfect for a nice run. While my last 4 mile race wasn't the most fun run I've ever had, I had high hopes for this one. Mostly because I was running with a friend and we encouraged each other throughout the 4 miles. It makes such a difference!

Although I will say, EVERY time I run in a race, I honestly convince myself that they forgot to put the 3rd mile marker up (or in the case of my 5Ks, the 2nd mile). Amazing how the brain does that...

Anyway, this is the t-shirt we got:


What was great about this race was that they gave us a little backpack with an energy drink and instant yakisoba with chopsticks. Yum!

And...my mom had come into the city to surprise me at my race! Not only did she come to cheer me on but she brought a delicious homemade lunch that we shared with Star and Doctor. I wish I had my camera with me so I could show you all the lovely lunch she made, but alas, I didn't. But it was a lovely traditional lunch with onigiri (rice balls), tamagoyaki (sweet egg rolls), and fruits and veggies. After Star and I walked my mom to the train, we headed back into Central Park for the Japan Day festivities. We immediately headed towards the food station and had a oolong tea and gyoza (Japanese dumplings). The dumplings were clearly the frozen kind that you saute, but it was still delicious and free! They also had a miso soup line, beef and rice line (which would easily have been a filling lunch) and a noodles line. There was also entertainment with taiko drums, acting, singing, dancing, and other wonderful performers.

It was a beautiful day and a great way to showcase the wonderfulness that is Japan. :)

Movies!!!

This weekend I saw two movies at the theaters. I've been a little out of touch with the movie scene because I don't have a tv and never see movie trailers anymore to entice me. This is usually a good thing because it doesn't tempt me to spend $12.50 on two hours of entertainment, but sometimes I'm in the mood for the movie theater experience. My favorite part is watching previews and eating snacks in the cold theater, waiting for the movie to start. It's also guaranteed you won't think of anything besides watching the movie. I hate multi-tasking so being in the theater is exactly my thing.

Last night I saw Star Trek. I have heard SO many great friend reviews about this movie, and while I'm not a huge science fiction fan, my love of Zachary Quinto was enough to get me to spend some dough on this movie. And who doesn't love JJ Abrams?!


I was really impressed with this movie! It was the perfect balance of good acting (especially Chris Pine), confusing/well-thought out sci-fi plots, good-looking actors, humor, action, and great effects. Chris Pine has really impressive comedic timing and he really nailed the character. I wasn't particularly impressed with the other actors, although Karl Urban has a special place in my heart, as he was in LOTR.

I have absolutely no knowledge of the Star Trek series so I can't say how authentic the movie was, but it's a great movie for people like me. I don't want to give too much away, so I won't really discuss the plot, but I guarantee you will be entertained for the whole two and a half hours or so.

Up next was, Up, which was in 3D. It was a really cute PG movie that was also entertaining for an adult. It's a touching story about an elderly man who promises his late wife that he would take her to Paradise Island in South America, and that they would build a house on the waterfalls there. After she passes, he decides to attach helium balloons to their house and finally go there to fulfill his promise. Just as his house lifts off, there is a knock at his door, and he finds out that a chubby little asian boyscout (voiced by a Japanese boy!) had mistakenly been in the house. They end up on Paradise Island and find themselves entrenched in an adventure.


This was a HILARIOUS and touching movie. Pixar really never goes wrong, although they didn't really take advantage of the 3D element. It could have easily been 2D and it would not have taken away from the movie at all. Because I had never seen a preview for it, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was surprised that a lot of the story was centered around animals. Judging from the movie posters, I thought it would be about these two different-seeming characters being stranded in the sky in a cute little house. Boy was I wrong. But despite it having so many animal characters, I really enjoyed the movie.

The best part of the movie was when Star and I were waiting for the movie to start amidst the gaggle of children and a 6 year old boy turned around in his seat and asked us why we hadn't brought our children and who we had watching them.

Sigh.

I'm getting old...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shake Shack

Last week, my best friend, Doctor, and I went to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for dinner. Since she is moving to Philly in a few weeks, she wanted to go back to her favorite New York haunts before moving out of this beloved city. Next up will be Doughnut Plant. Yum...

I had been to the Shake Shack on the Upper West Side before, and while the burgers were delicious, they were a little too greasy for me. Fanta, who was with me, assured me that the ones in Madison Square Park were not so, and she was right! I again got the Shack Burger, which is a beef burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and their famous Shack sauce. (and fries, of course!)


It was super yummy and just the right amount of burger. The veggies were fresh and it was quality meat, so I didn't feel gross afterwards, which usually happens when I eat a lot of meat. We met on a Sunday night at around 8:00 and there was only a few people in line ahead of us, which was great. I definitely recommend the Madison Square Park Shake Shack, especially on a nice day!

Doctor also got a Black and White milkshake, that was
apparently very delicious!

Barnard

I thought I would post some spring-y pictures of my campus! Nothing makes me happier than an abundance of white flowers...



One of the perks of working at Barnard is that I was able to go see Hillary speak at Commencement today. I had read her commencement speech from the NYU graduation last week, so I had high hopes for today's speech, especially being a Barnard grad. But I'm sorry to say, I was less than impressed with it. Her speech writer definitely did their homework and researched Barnard, its history, and what makes it unique, but all of her references didn't jive with the rest of her speech, which was about serving the country and the world. A great message, but one that we heard last week...at NYU. Oh well - this doesn't diminish my love for her though.

The Barnard graduation was unfortunately at Columbia because of construction on campus and the Commencement speaker, I'm sure, so I couldn't get too close, but I would say she was about 300 feet from me, which I think is still impressive!



What a great way to start off my second week of work! But I will say, no Commencement speech tops Anna Quindlen's speech from 2005. Definitely check it out if you want to be inspired!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Max Brenner


I had always wanted to go to Max Brenner because of my immense love of chocolate, but never had the occasion to do so. With Guy in town and our friends leaving for India soon, it was the perfect opportunity to indulge and visit the one in Union Square. We arrived at 5:00 so there were no lines! Yesssssss!

When you first walk in, you notice the intense, beautiful smell of chocolate. There is no other smell better than the scent of chocolate...don't you agree? They have this gift shop and I noticed a "hug mug" for sale, which looked like an egg-shaped cup with no handles, and you're supposed to put your hot drink in there and hold it with both hands around it and sip. I was intrigued...

So, of course, come ordering time, I just had to have the dark hot chocolate in the "hug mug".


The menu said that it was 100% dark chocolate, but when I asked our waitress what was in it, she said that there was also a good dose of heavy cream in there. I opted against the artery clogging cream, and instead had it with soy milk. When I got it, it was a little too hot to take advantage of the "hug mug", but it was still delicious and chocolate-y. It really wasn't very sweet, which I was surprised about. Surprised but definitely not disappointed.

My friends got Max's Three Layer Chocolate Concoction with Cookies and Peanut Butter, which is "milk chocolate cream layered with Oreo cookie bits in peanut butter and white chocolate chunks topped with whipped cream". It's served with crunchy chocolate wafer balls and a biscotti on the side. And got the Munchies Waffles, which are "warm waffles topped with whipped cream, candied hazelnut crunchy bits and a scoop of dark chocolate and vanilla ice cream". It was served with crunchy chocolate wafer balls and warm melted chocolate sauce. I didn't taste their dishes, but the reviews were fabulous! (Flat Sarah also enjoyed the treats!)


Lastly, Mr. Professor ordered the Chocolate Pizza with Peanut Butter topped with chopped hazelnuts. I had been eyeing this on the menu, so I was VERY glad he got it. Of course, I had to have a bite of this, and it was AMAZING! The crust was doughy and warm and the peanut butter was melting off of it. Yummers! In fact, I loved it so much that for three nights this week, I've had peanut butter toast with melted dark chocolate on it as my dessert. All you do is cut a slice of whole wheat bread (or whatever kind of bread) in half, and place a piece of dark chocolate on one slice of the bread and leave the other as is. Put both pieces in the toaster oven and toast bread as you normally do. After it's done, put peanut butter on the empty piece of toast and smush on top of the other and enjoy! The chocolate is oooey gooey, melty and delicious!


Five stars for Max Brenner!!!

Flat Sarah and Red Mango

Guy had come into town along with Flat Sarah, sent from California by his niece. If you haven't read the 1960s Flat Stanley books, you're missing out! It's a children's book about how Stanley gets squished by a bulletin board and has many adventures, including being sent in the mail to wonderful places! With Flat Sarah in hand (actually, in a folder) we decided to have our own New York adventure - visiting landmarks and other fun places!

First stop was Times Square, but I wasn't brave enough to pull out my camera. We then moseyed east to Grand Central Station.



We then walked to the Library and then down to the Empire State Building...

Can you spot Flat Sarah?


Of course, we couldn't come to the Empire State Building and NOT have either Pinkberry or Red Mango! Guy had never tried Red Mango before, so of course, we had to stop there.


I love frozen yogurts SOOOOO much better than ice cream for so many reasons, and for those who are not convinced yet, I would try Red Mango before trying Pinkberry. Red Mango's yogurt is a little bit creamier and sweeter, making it more like a soft ice cream. It still has the tartness of yogurt, but not as much as Pinkberry. I usually get the original flavored Red Mango with dark chocolate and mochi, but we both decided to try the new flavor - tangomonium. Now, I've tried the pomegranate flavor and was not that impressed, but the tangomonium was a clear winner! All it says on their website is that it is a secret recipe and has "notes of fruit and citrus". It's definitely light and refreshing and perfect for the summer! Guy and I decided (prior to looking at the website) that it had hints of tangerine... But definitely go try it for yourself!

Guy and Flat Sarah had the tangomonium with raspberries, watermelon, and strawberries...


Mine was topped with mango and strawberries...

Thank you, Guy, for teaching me how to use the macro option on my camera.

Here we are - enjoying our concoctions!


After finishing off our snack, we headed to the Flat Iron Building where we then found a street fair going on!


We ended our adventures with Flat Sarah in Union Square where we went to the farmer's market and then met our friends for some Max Brenner (which I will blog about later!)


Adrienne's Pizza

This is going to be a short post since I have a few things to blog about. But I definitely wanted to mention this pizza because it is SO delicious!

As you may know, I am a pizza-fiend. If I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. A few weeks ago, my co-workers and I ordered Adrienne's pizza. They had all eaten it before and had raved about it, but it was my first time! It was sooo yummy and I must have spoken about it several times, because at my going-away party at work, they had ordered it again! Yay!

I worked down on Wall Street and Adrienne's was really the only place you could get good pizza. It's located on Stone Street, and the only down side is that you can't get it by the slice - you have to order a pie. I had the old-fashioned pizza which is $16.50 plus toppings and feeds about 3-4 people, depending on how hungry everyone is. The pizza is deliciously salty (but not overwhelmingly so) and is made from really fresh ingredients. The crust is pretty thin so you can put away at least three slices pretty easily. Just looking at the picture below is making me want pizza again...


So if you're ever in the Financial District, I definitely recommend stopping by. In fact, if you're in the city and craving pizza, it's worth the trip to eat here! I have only had their take-out so don't know what the seating is like at the restaurant though, but if it's a nice day, take your pizza to go and sit in Battery Park!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Red Velvet Cake Bon Bons


For Pink's annual cookie swap this past Christmas, she made these DELICIOUS red velvet cake bon bons and ever since then, I've been dying to try them! She found the recipe on a baking blog called Bakerella and the pictures on the website alone makes even a novice baker want to try her fancy recipes!

Here is my version of the Bakerella formula...

Red Velvet Cake Bon Bons

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate chips (semi sweet and/or dark)
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. (I think I should've waited a little bit longer for the cake to completely cool because once I got to the next step, things were getting a little mushy...)

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

I know, it doesn't look that appetizing...

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)


4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer. I put it in the fridge overnight)

5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. (or put in microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 secs increments to make sure it doesn't burn, otherwise you can use a double boiler)

6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon or two to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)



Sorry for the blurry picture, but I wanted to show
the inside. You get the idea...

A few tips though:
-Pink added Crisco in her melted chocolate to make it a little thinner and easier to coat. I hadn't done this but regretted it quickly when I realized all of the bon bons were eating up my chocolate. And it just didn't coat well either, as you can see from the pictures.
-Instead of putting them in the fridge, after they're all done, put in freezer so that they're a bit firmer. If you refrigerate them or keep them at room temp., it gets a little gooey.

I made these as a going-away gift to my co-workers and I set out the whole batch (about 45) and they were gone in about three hours. To note - there were about 15 people in my office today. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Congratulations!!!

MY SISTER IS MARRIED!!!


That's right, folks! I have a brother-in-law! Woot!

Yesterday (wow, was it only yesterday?!) my lovely sister got married in Westchester. I thought I would post some pictures for you all to enjoy. Unfortunately, because I was running every which way during the first portion of the wedding and didn't relax until the tail end of the wedding, I didn't take all the fun pictures (ceremony, speech, etc.) But I'm fully confident the lovely photographer has that pretty covered. Hopefully I'll be able to share those with you in a month or so.

My sister and I got ready in the wine cellar, just off the patio, and had a cute little photo session. How apropos that my sister started her day in the wine cellar! Which now seems like she's an alcoholic or something, but what I meant was, she enjoys her wine. :) The ceremony was supposed to be out on the patio, but because of the rain, it was held indoors. I think it actually worked out better that way because it was cold anyway, and you could see the river, Jersey, and the sky out of the French doors inside the restaurant. Our family pastor conducted a personal and very relate-able ceremony, which was also lovely.

Afterwards, we partied with some DElicious Italian food (which I didn't take a picture of, unfortunately), wonderful music, and delightful company. My uncle and uncle's best friend and daughter flew in from Japan so it was great spending the weekend with them, and of course, my brother, who flew in from Seattle. He came with lots of surprises! (hint...permanent ink) And my mom wore a dress that she's had for over 30 years! All in all, it was a fun celebration and very representative of my sister and her HUSBAND. Lots of love and lots of food.

Most of all, I'm so glad to have another addition to the family. Actually, I guess we have an addition and a half, since Peanut (their cat) will also join the family. I like to call him "Killer" because of the picture below.

"Killer" at work.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures! (I only posted pics of my family and Doctor, because I'm not sure how people feel about them being on my blog and possibly not knowing it...)