Entries Tagged as 'manhattan'

A Quick Trip to New York

January 28th, 2014 · 1 Comment


For Christmas Dallas got me the airfare to take a quick trip to New York to see friends and I took the trip this past weekend.

I finally got to see Jess and Ted’s apartment in Hudson Heights, since they let me crash in their spare room. Their space is a work in progress, they think, but so far it’s so big and spacious and knowing Jess, you know how nice and stylish it looks! The apartment is FAR north in Manhattan, but they have a straight shot down on the A train to work. And actually, it wasn’t too bad getting around, even when we went to Queens. The Hudson Heights neighborhood seems really cute. I can’t wait to go back and visit in nicer weather so that we can check out The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park.

I arrived late on Friday night because my flight was delayed. Ted was still at work so Jess and I got late drinks and dinner at 181 Cabrini. Jess’s apartment is only a block away from the train stop and a strip of commercial stuff – restaurants, delis, bodegas, bars – so it’s nice and convenient. It’s not like there are a million restaurants, like in some neighborhoods, but there is one of everything, and how many do you really need? Anyway, 181 Cabrini was cute and had a friendly bartender and waiter and good food. It was great to sit and catch up.



The next day Jess and I met up with Jeannette and Yvan and Juliette, who is now 9 months old. The last time I saw Juliette was in June, when she was about 6 weeks old! Jess and I took the A train to the 7 and went over to Long Island City, Queens, where they all live. From there we drove to Sripraphai Thai restaurant in Woodside. I realized that I’d been to Sripraphai TEN years ago and didn’t really care for it so much. But this time I loved it! Yvan said that the restaurant has really changed and grown since we first went a decade ago. I remember sitting in a dank basement and this time I saw they’d expanded their storefront on both sides. Everything was nice and bright and pretty. And the food was great. I loved the massaman curry we got with beef. The beef wasn’t like you usually get with the slices of beef, it was more like stewed. YUM!



And then because nothing changes, Jeannette wanted to get dessert. And she REALLY twisted our arms to get us to agree. We headed over to a gem of a French bakery that was hidden in a strip mall in Jackson Heights: Cannelle Patisserie. It had started snowing and everyone got coffee to warm up as well as a sampling of some of the delicious tarts. We had the praline crunch, napoleon, apple strip and lemon square. They were all SO good. We ate away and talked some more while Juliette, who was an angel the whole time, flirted with an older man enjoying a cup of coffee at the next table! We also all took something home. How could you resist the thought of a chocolate croissant for breakfast the next morning?


Jess and I headed back to Hudson Heights and because we’re all wild and crazy party animals, we cozied under some blankets and watched a maritime double header on Apple TV. We saw Robert Redford in All is Lost (good) and Captain Phillips the movie about the cargo ship taken over by Somali pirates (really good).


The next day was time to leave already. We got up and got ready. Yvan ran a half marathon in the morning but was still up for meeting with us in Jess’s neighborhood. So, Jeannette, Yvan, Juliette, Ted, Jess and I had brunch at Le Chéile. Afterwards, we stopped by Moscow on the Hudson, just to check it out. I guess it’s known to be the best Russian market in Manhattan. I had fun looking at all the different canned goods, candies, pastries and meats. And then? We stopped back to the apartment and it was time to go. :/

This was my first time away from Makai for more than a few hours, and it was hard to leave. Dallas was pushing me out the door, practically, but once I was gone, I was good. I mean… I still missed him like crazy, but it was great to see friends and be in New York and I’m glad I went. Thanks for the fun weekend, everyone!

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A Few More Days in New York

June 10th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Last week I was out in New York for work for a few more days.

Like every trip, mine began with a stop at Tortas Frontera at O’Hare. I was actually kind of afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop because of timing, but then my flight got delayed an hour and I had more than enough time. I changed it up this time and instead of getting a torta, I got the tortilla soup and the fully loaded guacamole. The soup broth was really rich and flavorful. The guacamole was good, but getting all of the toppings was a mistake, I think. I’d stick to just one or two or none next time. Also, maybe it was a fluke, but the chips were SO salty.

Even though my flight was delayed, I arrived early enough to visit with Jeannette and Yvan and Juliette (6 weeks old now, I think). The skies were bright and mostly sunny in Long Island City, so I don’t know what was up with the delays. It seemed fine on the Chicago side too. It didn’t even start raining in New York until later at night. Dallas was flying to Newark at the same time I was flying to New York and he had way more issues than I did.

I stayed at an SPG property called the Element Times Square West, located at 39th and 8th. I booked the room because it was a good rate, but it ended up being pretty nice and spacious for a New York City hotel room. Not that I used it, but each room in the hotel had a kitchen with a big fridge, two burners, a sink, dishwasher, microwave, dishes.

Even though I think the Element was on the lower end of the SPG spectrum, they still had the Heavenly bed that they have at the Westin, which was nice.

The view from my room at the Element.

Most days I took the subway to and from work, which made me feel like I was living there again.

While at work, one of my coworkers was on vacation for two weeks so I used his desk. He has a pretty nice view of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge!


The food in New York is always great! With my coworker, Stephanie, I had lunches at Flavors Cafe, where we got some great salads, and CRISP, a modern Mediterranean spot. My coworker from Chicago, Ranee, has been traveling to New York a ton and took me to Zaitzeff, a great burger spot. The menu is short and to the point, not straying all over the place with fancied up burgers. All the beef is grass-fed here. I got a cheeseburger with avocado and grilled mushrooms and it was amazing. Ranee and I split fries and neither of us finished them, but I was so full from the burger that I didn’t even eat dinner really! I think I had a fruit cup!

I also met up with Jess one night and we had dinner at Tia Pol, a tiny little Spanish tapas spot on 10th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd. I’d hoped to see her new apartment that she just bought and moved into the week before, but it was getting late. I was still glad we could catch up while I was in town!







Lastly, but not leastly, the food highlight of the trip was when I finally visited Eataly with Ranee and her cousin, Isabelle. Eataly is a high-end 50,000 square foot Italian food market and shopping center. Mega chefs Mario Bitali and Lidia Bastianich teamed up with restauranteur Joe Bastianich (Lidia’s son) for this amazing creation. The shopping and the tasting rooms are all mixed into one huge crazy experience. You walk along and look at meats and cheeses and then theres and area to sip wine while eating meats and cheese. You’re looking at the bins of fresh produce, when you stumble upon the vegetarian restaurant. There’s seafood and freshly made pasta, a beer garden, an amazing bakery, meats and produce and a whole line of Italian desert stands. I could have spent all day there!





In the end, we put our names in for the pizza and pasta spot and there was a wait, so we went to the vegetarian restaurant, sat at the bar and shared and artichoke that was BY FAR the best artichoke I’ve ever eaten. As we were finishing, with perfect timing, we were texted that our table was ready for dinner. I love gnocchi, but a lot of places screw it up, so I don’t order it too much, but I figured this was the place to get it. The gnocchi here was served with braised lamb shank ragu and was AH MAZE ING! To finish, I had the salted caramel gelato. OMG. So done. I’m sort of glad I don’t live in New York because I’d go broke at this place!

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My First Time In Toronto (and Maybe Canada)

February 5th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The view from my hotel room at the Westin Harbourfront Castle.

My hotel room at the Westin Harbourfront Castle.

Renting work out clothes? Interesting idea. Note the French and English.

Last week I was in Toronto for Interaction 13, the IxDA (Interaction Design Association) conference. This was my first time to Toronto and debatably my first time to Canada. I have very slight memory of Girl Scout Camp in Michigan and crossing some bridge to be able to say we were in Canada and then crossing back, but I can’t really remember if that really happened. In any case, this was the first time I spent more than a few minutes in Canada!

CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Downtown in Toronto. We went to this cute diner for breakfast, Over Easy.

Immigrant Family by Tom Otterness (2007). I thought this artists style looked really familiar, then I realized he has work all over Manhattan.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know that a lot of Canadians speak French, but this seemed less so in Toronto. I was expecting thicker accents and more than the occasional “eh?”. Too close to the American border, I guess! The flight from Chicago was only 1.5 hours ($200), and it’s super close to New York state. Still, a lot of things are printed in both English and French. I think that’s a Canadian law or something.

I freaked out when I saw this weather forecast, then realized it was in Celsius.

The Globe and Mail newspaper.

A lot of people that I know have been to Toronto. I asked all of them what to do, if there were any “must sees.” Everyone had great things to say about Toronto, but no one had any recommendations! They could all remember having fun, but couldn’t name off where they had this great fun! I did some research on things to do, places to go, but most of the museums and things were all closed by the time we got out of the conference each day. There were some shows, but we passed on them. My coworker (and travel partner), Becky, is a big hockey fan, so we wanted to check out a game, but the Maple Leafs were out of town and the Hockey Hall of Fame closed early. We ended up playing things by ear and going to some great restaurants and bars… we happened upon a lot of things that really turned out great. Also, Roundarch Isobar sent about 12 people to Toronto from 3 different offices. Some I knew and some I didn’t, so it was great to just hang out and get to know people better.

Fast food poutine at Harvey’s.

Liberte yogurt.

Canadian money.

Loonies and toonies.

Overall, I really liked Toronto. I feel like I didn’t totally get to see a ton of it and get it straight in my head. When the conference let out it was dark and the weather was not great (snow, rain), so I couldn’t really walk around and get my bearings. But, I did like what I saw and the people were so nice. That’s not just a Canadian stereotype. Only in the airport did we meet a rude Canadian! The funny thing is that I kept forgetting we were even in Canada. Toronto was pretty much like a big American city, but with more poutine, more French and prettier money.

At Longo’s supermarket

A salad from Boccone at Pearson International Airport

Harvey’s fast food bag written in French.

The Toronto food was great, the drinks awesome, the atmosphere was very urban and modern. There is a lot of construction going on in the city right now. According to my friendly cab driver, new buildings are going up, water and electric work is being done, and they’re moving some of the elevated trains underground. I also saw a billboard saying there will soon be an express train from downtown Toronto to the airport. All of this construction made it kind of a pain to get around at times, but seems like all good things for the city. We got out of the downtown a couple times and I was thankful for that. Not that downtown was bad, but I hate it when people go to River North and The Loop in Chicago and think that they have seen the city. It was great to see some neighborhoods in Toronto outside of the downtown area. I’d love to go back one day, in nicer weather so I could explore more, or even to check out another Canadian city!

Interaction 13


Competing conference. Data… oooh, scaaaaryy.

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