Out of the Bright Lights and into the Barn: a Weekend Escape

The only time my husband and I stay put during the year is during summer.   The city is beautiful especially when the sun is out, and us New Yorkers just crave the warm weather.  However, it is also the season for major tourist congestion.  Soho becomes like a flea market, and the streets are often crowded and chaotic.  The solution?  Get out and enjoy the suburban life.  Perhaps, even the farm life?

For starters, your quick getaway could be having leisurely brunch at the beautiful The Inn in Pound Ridge.  It’s an hour away from the city by car.

1hour from the city by car

Only 1 hour from the city by car

Once inside, this Jean-Georges restaurant will not disappoint.  The interior looks vintage w/a farmesque feel.  A former inn, the place is transformed with mid-century decorations such as wooden tables and stone walls.  Getting a table in the basement is an absolute must!  If there is no available seating, come back another day.  Take my word for it.

For the price, food is absolutely worth it (since it surprisingly won’t cause a huge dent in your wallet).  Our group started off with the tuna tartare avocado with radish and soy ginger dressing, crispy calamari, crab toast and buttermilk pancake Yes, I said pancakes for appetizers. Lol.  The winner for this round is the tuna tartare avocado.  It was extremely delicious.

For our entrees, my companions had the croque madame, grilled yellowfin tuna burger, parmesan crusted organic chicken with artichoke.  I had the beef tenderloin with grilled squash.  For this round, most of us agreed that the chicken gets the gold medal, although hubby insisted on his croque M.

Dessert was slightly a disappointment.  We ordered the strawberry short bread cake which was a tad dry, but the lemon and raspberry sherbert more than made up for its flaw.  All in all, it was a very pleasant start to our day and we were looking forward to the next stop on my birthday itinerary.  Oh yes, did I mention it was my bday and that hubs planned this whole day affair? :p  That’s why he gets all the honorable mention on this post.

View from the basement seating area

View from the basement seating area

Downstairs bar

Downstairs bar

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Our next stop was Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture.  This place was donated by the Rockefellers – and turned their old farm barn into an educational center while also partnering with Dan Barber, owner of Blue Hill in NYC, to build the very same restaurant at Stone barns.  The farm is about 80 acres of land where they raise chickens, geese, pigs and bees.  Children will definitely enjoy this place!  Our group did the 2 hour walking tour for $20 each to see the most of it.  My fave was being able to pick yummy wild wine berries during your stroll and eating on the spot!  And they grow everywhere…

As an alternative, if farm life is not your thing, you can also visit Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in the Historic Hudson Valley.  It is about 10-15 mins. from Stone Barns and is quite a landmark in Sleepy Hallow.  This top of the hill mansion is home to 4 generations of Rockefellers, and an absolute delight to all art lovers.  A must see, Kykuit offers a 2-hour tour for either $25 or $40 – depending on the type of tour you’d prefer.  For us, the classic $25 tour was enough as this would give you a chance to see the inside of the house, a glimpse of the beautiful garden, and the view of the lake.  Afterwards, you can proceed to Blue Hill for dinner, however note that pre-fix menu starts at $200 per person + drinks.


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So go ahead.  Plan that quick trip.  New York City is not going anywhere.♥



Roberta’s Pizza

New York, like Chicago, is a haven for pizza lovers.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find the very best hiding somewhere amidst the $1 slices sold at lunch.   If you’ve done your research, you’ll probably end up in places like Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s, Patsy’s, Artichoke and Adrienne’s by Stone Street.   If you don’t trust the gen pop’s declaration of good, make sure you ask the Italians from Brooklyn.  They claim the best pizza are just around the corner made by their grandmother.  I would like to be invited to such homemade dinners with nonna!

My husband loves pizza.  We once made a trip to Naples, Italy just to try the pies where pizza was born.  The experience was so unforgettable as the dough that melts in your mouth.   Definitely one for the books as you will never quite allow pizza to taste anything less than the best.

Last weekend, my husband and I finally ventured to Bushwick to try this indie place called Roberta’s.   (I think the place reached high status back in 2011 or earlier, starting from food trucks in Mad Square).  From the outside, you’d be skeptical & hesitant to enter but I know better than to judge food from the exterior.  Once inside,  we were told the wait time for 2 would take up to 2 hours!  So we decided to try our luck at the bar.  True enough, a regular was just about finished from her meal and told us not to bother with the menu because the best pie is not on the list.


It’s called the bee sting.  Draped in maple syrup with sopressata, mozarella and tomato, this pie will just about blow your mind.  I would keep this a secret, but good food is meant to be shared.


While I like my pizza almost plain and simple, hubby also ordered the Maize Maze with prosciutto hash, corn, tomatillo and labne.  It was good, but you just can’t compare it to the sting of the bee pie!

For the ladies, don’t forget to order the vodka lime drink called Lady Killer.  It was surprisingly yummilicious and not at all pretentious! (Though it kinda looks it in this photo. Ha!).

Perfect summer drink for the ladies

Perfect summer drink for the ladies

Happy eating! 😉


The Beginning

I’d say I’m finally free from writer’s block, but, I am not a writer.  I do looove to be a storyteller.  So I will tell you my stories and my tales of the big city (and beyond) after all these years of detachment.

What have I been doing?

1) I readAt least 2 books a week. I’ve read more books in the past 2 years than the sum of all the years I’ve been reading before I stopped writing. 

2) I traveled far and near & as much as my pocketful of change will allow me.

3) I ate in every known establishment in New York City where talk of food is supreme.  I ate until I’ve gone 2 sizes up and it’s been a struggle to go back to skinny since.   If only my mother knows that the more she reminds me of my pudginess, the more willing I am to stuff my face with extra calories.  Sorry, mom.  So please stop.

And yet despite the additional pounds I’ve acquired, it’s always an adventure.  In a week, I will be celebrating another birthday.  To say time flies is so cliché but it does.  And you’re left wondering what changes can happen this time around.  What story can I weave for my life this year?

About 3 weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to spend my upcoming birthday with struggling kids.  On Facebook, I see that all my former students have grown, and somehow I miss the days when I would tie their shoelaces 3 dozen times, while asking for tissues to blow their noses.  So, I emailed 10 different organizations who would bring me back my fond memories of the little cherubs I had when I was young and calloused.  And luckily, I heard back from one of them.

Aug. 2 will be a special day for me, not because it’s my birthday, but because I will be doing what I thought I wouldn’t be able to do on my own.  I’ve partnered with Puppetry Arts, an organization that offers creative and cultural exploration to individuals through the multidisciplinary art of puppetry, to invite foster kids from all over NY to celebrate an afternoon with me, friends, and fellow volunteers.  We’ve planned the day with fun games and activities, and I’m hoping that the kids will have a marvelous time, and well, feel like it’s their birthday.

Crossing my fingers that this story will be a good story the little kids will remember.

The End. Beginning


One of My Favorite Things

Ask me what my favorite things are about Manhattan and I will tell you about my reverence to sample sales.  Now I only have 3o mins to write about this before I get back to real work, but I couldn’t resist sharing with you all one fabulous opportunity.   For the record, there is nothing compared to a New York City sample sale.  I’m pretty sure New Yorkers can attest to this.

Today, on my way to class, I happen to pass by a sign that read: Designer jackets on sale!  One thing to note or I must not fail to mention perhaps is that in New York, there are ALSO a lot of fake sample sales.  So I went about my business and tried to ignore the all too familiar sign that tries to lure me everyday.  But a few steps after I stopped (as expected) only to accept the fact that my will has abandoned me and that my curiosity will always get the best of me.

And thank goodness for that!

Downstairs of the Holy Cross church is a sea of jackets and winter coats from designers such as Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Miss Sixty, Jessica Simpson, Ivanka Trump, etc.  Any style for $89.99.  Some designs and material are worth more than others, so I suggest take your time to go around and pick what you really like.



I actually bought myself a MissSixty military jacket shown below.  I thought it looked like an unusual piece that would go well for work or during casual days.  What’s so nice to know about this sale event is that it doesn’t seem to have a lot of publicity so there’s absolutely no one else shopping with you.  Most of the time, sample sales are packed and the waiting line is absolutely ridiculous even for a discounted YSL muse.  BTW, a coworker of mine did go to last week’s Yves Saint Laurent sample sale at 8am on a weekday and was able to find herself a $50 pair of sexy slingbacks.  Sigh!

So anyway, if you have time and interested in a new jacket for this coming winter months, stop by the place.  It’s located on 37th street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.  Oh and sorry to all male readers, this sale is only for women.  However, you can always buy your special someone an early present for the holidays.  Or not.  I’m sure a warm hug everyday will do.


The First of Many

It’s been a long time coming — my 1st blog post for this year.  The first of anything is always the hardest.  It sets up the tone, the bar, the standards where all others will follow.  Last Dec, I was thinking my first blog post would be about the coolest people I know or have read about.  James Franco was on top of my list, until he hosted the Oscars and I felt all my expectations of him fall to pieces.  Then I tried looking into goodwill or volunteer work activities, but who am I kidding?  This blog is for me.  I will write about things I enjoy, hate, love, or passionate about.  Or I could also write about something that’s so ordinarily plain or trivial… but so extraordinarily appealing nonetheless.

Which brings me to my first trivial pursuit:  my first Celine Luggage Tote in black leather.   I have been waiting and waiting for this handbag for months now.  I’ve seen very, very few New Yorkers carry it about town.  It looks simple and understandably elegant. It doesn’t scream I’m 10 thousand dollars like the Birkin, but it can hold its own on its own.  Imagine Pippa next to Kate Middleton at her wedding in that beautiful simple shape and shade of white, which for some, was better than the bride.

My designer friend, Anthony, was the one who recommended this to me when I was looking for a bag for work, school or whenever that wouldn’t go out of style.  We searched high and low but to no avail until last Wednesday when I heard buzzing that retailers have received their new shipment of the Spring 2012 collection.

Bergdorf carries the beige, black, and the much coveted two-tone color luggage tote.  I heard Barneys is also carrying it but only in black.   I prefer the black in all honesty.  Well, I prefer anything in black, but for this boxy type of design and for the price, I feel that this color is safe and will last you through all seasons.

The only thing I don’t like about this mini handbag is the strap. I usually like to put my purse over my shoulders.  But this one is just a tote and it could get somewhat heavy.  Otherwise, you can go for the over-the-shoulder style which may look too big for those with a petite frame.

BTW, I’m no bagaholic.  I very rarely spend on big ticket items.  But I believe every working girl deserves a prize for all their hard work and must feel ultra special as they wrap up the day, log off their desktops, and grab that shiny stylish purse that lights up her heart… and yes, at times, her soul.

So cheers to all you working ladies! 🙂  You deserve that Celine.