Monday 30 April 2018

Where To Eat and Drink in New York City

New York is somewhere I go back to fairly regularly and in some ways it has become home for me. A few years ago I was interning in the city and my parents and older sister still live there. I tend to go back a few times a year and I have my favourite spots that I go to time and time again. Although there are so many areas of New York that I don't really know, such as Queens and the Bronx, I do have some great recommendations if you are going to New York and will be visiting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

- FOOD -
St Anselm
My friend Chelsea introduced me to this place and I go whenever I'm back in New York. It's located in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, close to some cool bars so it's a great area to spend an evening. St Anselm specialises in grilled food and their pan fried mash potato is the best mash you will ever taste in your entire life (I would bet money on that). You can't book and it does get super busy so I usually go on a weekday at opening time which is 5pm.

A relatively new addition to downtown Manhattan, Augustine is a high-end french brasserie that serves amazing dishes and great cocktails. It is on the slightly more expensive side but the whole experience makes it worth. The ambience of Augustine makes it one of my favourite spots in Manhattan. It has a very vintage Paris feeling to it, featuring intricate tiled walls and dimmed lighting. The restaurant is part of The Beekman Hotel which is also a stunning place to grab a drink before or afterwards.

Red Rooster
Marcus Samuelson's Red Rooster is a great spot if you want delicious soul food with a vibrant atmosphere and excellent tunes to accompany the food. The restaurant is in Harlem so if you are staying in Soho or downtown Manhattan it is a bit of a way to go but if you want a true american dining experience I really recommend it.

By far the restaurant that I have been to the most, Raouls is my family's Friday night hangout spot. Good food, good ambience and a little more relaxed and informal than Augustine. Also a good place for celebrity spotting... So far I've seen Jude Law, Kiera Knightley, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.

A great place for dinner if you're going out for a special occasion. The menu features organic and seasonal produce and delicious cocktails. It is part of the East Village Standard hotel so you can head to the bar after for more drinks.

Places on my list to try: CarboneFlinders LaneBoutrosHemlockBond Street Sushi

Dimes is a cute little healthy Californian style lunch destination, with a minimal but colourful decor (aka very Instagrammable). I love going here on days where I'm feeling more health-conscious because they do great salad situations.

De Maria
Another beautiful cafe with great healthy options, situated in Lolita. De Maria opened its doors in 2017 and has received a lot of acclaim for its beautiful interior space. I personally really enjoy the salad bowls that they do and the decor is to die for.

Otafuku x Medetai
If you want a sit-down meal, this is not the one for you but if you want a quick lunch and you're in the East Village then this place makes amazing Japanese street food.

At this point you've probably gathered that New York isn't short on aesthetically pleasing food joints and Seamore's is no exception. If you're after a yummy fish-based dish, Seamore's is a fail-safe option and they have several locations (Chelsea, Nolita and Dumbo). I really enjoy the Crispy Fish tacos.

Chef's Club Counter
With different resident chefs depending on when you visit, it's a great place to discover new chefs and new types of food.

Pies n' Thighs
As much as it's nice eating healthy, is it really a trip to the US if you don't have some junk food? And Pies n' Thighs do it well. If you want fried chicken and waffles or a grilled cheese then this is your place.

Places on my list to tryThe BedfordBanterVia Carota

Russ & Daughters
Visiting Russ & Daughters at the end of every trip back to New York has become a tradition for me and my mum. I think it would be somewhat rude to visit New York without having at least one bagel. Russ & Daughters is a New York family-owned institution and on top of that the nostalgic decor gives you the feeling of really experiencing what New York eating experiences are all about.

Miss Lily's
There are a couple locations; one in Greenwich village, the other in the East Village. If you are wanting a fun, bottomless brunch, Miss Lily's is a Caribbean diner with great music and all-round great vibes.

Five Leaves
Another Brooklyn spot, Five Leaves do a great mushroom toast and the décor is cute without being clichéd. Also apparently Heath Ledger was one of the investors

Places on my list to try: Sisters BrooklynCookshopEstela

Baby's All Right
I actually went on a Tinder date here and although the date itself wasn't the best, I enjoyed the date location a lot. If you want a low-key bar in Brooklyn with an American 80s feel to it, this is a good place to go. They also have a live music venue at the back.

Union Pool
I can't write about drinking in New York without mentioning Union Pool. I have a lot of memories at this place and it was always my go-to on any night out. There are two rooms, separated by a pretty big outside smoking area (with a taco van in it), so if you don't like the music in the live music room you can always go to the other room for more mainstream hits.

The Standard Biergarten
Another go-to for me. The Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District can be a little packed but if you  want a night out in Manhattan then the beer garden at The Standard hotel is a good place to start.

Extra Fancy
Extra Fancy is located near St Anselm so it's a good place to go before dinner or as a place to continue on the night. They have an amazing selection of unusual cocktails and they do also serve food if you want two hit two birds with one stone.

Night of Joy
I've only been here once but it's a relaxed cocktail bar for when you don't want to go somewhere super fancy but you also don't want to hit up a dive bar. Apparently there's a rooftop but I went in the dead of winter so we'll have to trust the internet on that one.

The Blind Barber
I don't go out dancing as much as I'd like to but if you want to go to out in Manhattan to somewhere that is fun and unpretentious I would recommend The Blind Barber. It's a speakeasy bar that you access through a barber shop (shocker) and although the bar itself is quite small it's a fun, intimate place to have a dance to some great tunes. Also the drinks are incredible, if a little pricey.

The Spotted Pig
Kanye once tweeted: "If you wanna have a drink with me, book a table at the spotted pig when I’m back in NY". Although The Spotted Pig serves food, it's not a great option for any fellow vegetarians out there (there are some options) but it is a charming spot to have a drink, with more casual gastropub vibes. 

Places on my list to try: Friends and Lovers BarThe Dead Rabbit

Sushi: Takahachi
Bagels: Zuckers, Russ & Daughters (above)
Cafés and bakeries: Momufuku Milk BarMamanArcade BakeryLevain BakeryThe ElkKaffe 1668Dunwell Doughnuts
Pizza: Joe's PizzaArtichoke PizzaKesté

Wednesday 17 January 2018

An introduction to: CLE Cosmetics

I became obsessed with beauty products at a pretty young age. My dad happens to work for a cosmetic group and so although I didn't start wearing makeup until I was a pre-teen, I was always fascinated by beauty products. I loved the idea of having my own collection of pots and potions and palettes and as soon as I could get away with wearing makeup myself, that's when I really got into it. Needless to say, I am still an absolute lover of beauty products - everything from packaging to formulations and innovation... I'm interested. Even though I don't hoard makeup like I used to, I am still always interested in what is new.

A couple of years ago I started using a makeup and skincare brand called CLE Cosmetics. Just as a little disclaimer, although I have been sent products to try out, I do also buy their products with my own money because I actually love a lot of them. Instead of going through every single product I have tried, I thought I would give a little introduction to the brand and mention some of my favourite products.

In the section on their website about the brand, CLE is defined as:
"Minimally designed beauty products using the latest Korean technologies to suit the modern woman for an effortless lifestyle.
Our skincare and makeup are created with safe, wholesome ingredients, the latest Korean beauty technology, and understated design".

What I love about the brand is that although there are no frills and everything is super easy to use, CLE Cosmetics make makeup fun again with their use of interesting textures and innovative packaging. I also think that the shades that they go for are always really stunning and slightly different to anything else on the market. My absolute favourite product is the CCC Cream, which has the most natural looking foundation formula that I have ever come across and it has surprisingly decent coverage too. It comes out of the tube as a white substance but once blended into the skin, tiny bubbles of pigment burst to create the perfection, seamless foundation application. 
Top to bottom: Melting lip powder in Ultra Summer, Hot Choco and Desert Rose

Aside from the CCC Cream, I love blending their highlighters in with the Melting Lip Powders (favourite shades are Milk Choco and Hot Choco) onto my cheeks. It creates a really gorgeous luminous flush of colour. I have also tried some of the skincare products, all of which I can sincerely say I would recommend. I currently use the Melting Cleanser, which is great for removing makeup and I am also currently trying out the Dry Mask Sheets with the Lifting Mist, which are great if my skin is looking a bit flat and dull.

If you are wanting to try any of their products, they have a 20% discount code for your first order if you sign up for the newsletter.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Thoughts on: new year's resolutions

NEW YEAR NEW ME GUYS!! Not really, but I have seen a lot of negative attitudes towards new year's resolutions this year and it got me thinking (shock!).

I have always done new year's resolutions ever since I can remember... at least since I have been able to use a pen. The tradition in my family is that on new year's eve, we drink a bottle of champagne, sit at a table and write our new year's resolutions, and then we fold up the paper and place it into the empty bottle and these bottles are kept somewhere dingy and we never look at them again.

The criticism that I have read or heard about new year's resolutions is that you shouldn't have to wait for a new year to better yourself and that no one sticks to them anyway. In defence of new year's resolutions, I will argue that they are a great thing, and here is why:

1. December is a disgusting month
I love December because my family celebrates Christmas, but lets just say after a month of too much drinking and too much stuffing... most of my clothes don't really fit me anymore. Thereby making January a great time to think about my eating and exercise habits and put me back into gear. Considering a lot of people's resolutions are based around health, January is the best time to reconsider how you treat your body because no one wants to be restricting themselves in December and you've got enough time before you want to be feeling cute in very little clothing in the summer months (I'm sure you look cute all the time though).

As for other resolutions, you've got to start at some point so why not put them off until January?

2. January is a disgusting month
This applies more if you don't live in Australia/NZ of course but January in many parts of the world is quite grim. The holidays are over and it's really cold and you're back at work and you're poor. Fun! Therefore, it's quite nice to have some aspirations for the upcoming months at least so that you don't go into a downward spiral of utter misery.

3. It's a harmless tradition
As I mentioned before, for my family it's a tradition and it brings us all together and we have an excuse to tank a bottle of champagne.

4. Bettering yourself is a good thing
If new year's resolutions encourage people to actually attempt to better themselves, then there is really no reason for this to be frowned upon. No matter how sceptical you are about resolutions, some people do actually manage to stick to them or at least make steps towards their goals.


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