RW Lunch at Fig & Olive

I had been yearning to try Mediterranean restaurant, Fig & Olive for quite some time now so I jumped at the chance to dine at Fig & Olive for lunch during Restaurant Week. My friend and I ate at the Uptown location, which was beautiful, sleek, elegant and cozy with comfortable seating, which had an intimate feel.

figolive interior

After we settled in, we were served a plate of rosemary focaccia bread pieces and three different types of olive oil: Two from Spain and one from Italy. The bread was mediocre, a little bit dry but the olive oil was rich and tasty.

figolive bread

For my appetizer, I chose the truffle mushroom croquettes, which were delicious fried balls of cremini mushroom parmesan and béchamel, served with truffle oil aioli. They were incredibly flavorful, fresh and wonderful!

figolive appetizer

The main course was Rosemary Lamb, which consisted of grilled lamb and red bell pepper on skewers with rosemary ends, a fig and cous cous with red onion, scallions and tomatoes, and sauce made out of Greek yogurt base. The lamb was amazing… Perfectly cooked, tender, well-seasoned and incredibly appetizing. The cous cous was also quite good, and I normally don’t like cous cous that much. I enjoyed both the lamb and cous cous with the sauce, giving the dish more depth.

figolive me

There were only two options for dessert, so my friend and I ordered one of each so that we could try both. The “Dessert Crostini” was Amarena cherry and mascarpone on top of pistachio shortbread with basil. There were two of these so it was perfect and I liked the taste of mascarpone on the shortbread but I thought the cherries were way too sweet.

figolive dessert

The chocolate pot de crème, which came with a crunchy praline financier (basically a fancy Kit Kat bar) and vanilla cream on top, was out of this world delectable. It was incredibly chocolate-y and had a lovely smooth consistency with just the right amount of sweetness.

figolive chocolate

I really enjoyed my meal at Fig & Olive. The service was also high quality. I would highly recommend trying out this restaurant!

 

Fig & Olive
808 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY

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Chocolate Workshop: Valentine Edition

This past weekend I headed to Chocolate Works in Brooklyn for a Chocolate Workshop. It’s a lovely store filled with delicious chocolate, truffles, fudge of all flavors and all different kinds of candy. I was able to find some sugar free chocolates (Malt Balls, Chocolate Covered Raisins & Peanuts) so picked up some of that.

Then we went to the back room for the Chocolate Workshop. We started with dipping strawberries, banana and marshmallow in the amazing chocolate fountain. However, we were only allowed one each which I was quite disappointed in. Chocolate covered strawberries are one of my favorite treats, so I really wanted more strawberries to dip. Had I known that Chocolate Works was going to be that stingy, I would have bought my own strawberries.

chocolateworkshop

Next, we picked a mold then filled it with chocolate then after it hardened, we were able to decorate it. Of course I chose the heart shape with LOVE written in cursive on it. I used hot pink (of course) to trace LOVE and then wrote XOXO all over it.

chocolateworkshop4

While we were waiting for  our chocolate molds, we decorated our own cookies. I chose an Oreo and Pretzel as my base and sprinkled colorful M&Ms and hot pink/red/white heart sprinkles on top. The end result was an amazing, delectable sweet piece of delicious-ness.

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I decided to eat the Oreo concoction I made and save the pretzel for later. I normally am not a huge fan of the Oreo cookie, but having it covered with chocolate and other toppings made it wonderful. It was incredibly sweet; actually maybe a little bit too sweet but so good!

chocolateworkshop2

I left the Chocolate Workshop with my sweet tooth completely satisfied and the solid chocolate heart I made, pictured below. The cost of the workshop was $30 and I had a really fun, sweet evening. The only complaint I had was that there were not enough strawberries to dip in the flowing chocolate fountain. They definitely should have let us have more than one piece of fruit!

chocolateworkshop3

 

Chocolate Works
110 Montague St
Brooklyn, NY

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Celebrating at Ruby Foo’s & Monarch Rooftop Lounge

rubyfoo

This past weekend I dined at Ruby Foo’s Times Square with some of my best friends to celebrate my (belated) birthday in New York City. Ruby Foo’s is a gourmet Asian Fusion restaurant with Thai and Japanese influences. The interior was lovely and spacious, with Buddha statue in the back.

My friends and I shared two of the appetizers: Pork Bao Buns and Calamari. The pork buns were tasty, and had a bit of a twist: It came with bacon and soy marmalade. I enjoyed the extra crunch the bacon gave and the pork was tender and flavorful. The fried calamari was also delicious and extremely crispy, which is the way I like it. It came with a delightful sweet and sour sauce.

rubyfoo_calamari

For the entree, I ordered char siu pork lo mein. Char siu pork is the wonderful tasting special pork that is red in color. The dish also came with mustard greens and was seasoned with black garlic. It tasted pretty good, but I thought the portion was a little small and I was actually more satisfied with my two appetizers than the main course.

rubyfoo_entree

The dessert of chocolate molten cake with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and caramelized banana, more than made up for the mediocre pork lo mein. The waitress brought the dessert over with a candle in the cake, as my friends sang Happy Birthday to me! I then proceeded to enjoy the molten chocolate cake. It was simply delectable with rich chocolate-y flavor and tons of warm gooey melty sweet chocolate inside the cake. This was probably one of the best chocolate molten cakes that I have ever had. The ice cream was also good with an intense coffee flavor.

rubyfoo_me dessert

The meal ended with mochi with dulce de leche ice cream filling which were decent but a bit too sweet, even for me and fortune cookies. We had such a great time at Ruby Foo’s! (Group Photo Below) I loved how spacious the place was and I would definitely come back to try other menu items.

rubyfoo_friends

After dinner, some of us headed to the after party at Monarch Rooftop Lounge, right by the Empire State Building. Monarch is located on the 18th Floor Penthouse of the building and has a beautiful interior. “The Scandinavian-chic décor, features an indoor lounge that radiates glamour and allures with seductive appeal, seamlessly connecting to the exterior oasis patio with sliding floor to ceiling glass doors. The modern, yet unimposing deep seated upholstered sofas invite guests to relax and bask in the views of Midtown Manhattan, while floor to ceiling silk curtains frame the picturesque view of the iconic Empire State Building.” I truly enjoyed the space: From the gorgeous up close view of the Empire State Building, the colorful sparkling lights, the awesome (and easy to dance to) music and the friendly and accommodating staff.

monarch

We had our own area with reserved seating, which was really nice and different friends came out throughout the night. It was great to see everyone from close friends to friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. We all had a blast, enjoying the music, atmosphere, conversation and company.

monarch_friends

The whole night was a beautiful experience and I really enjoyed my night out celebrating my birthday in NYC at Ruby Foo’s Times Square and Monarch Rooftop Lounge.

rubyfoo_me dessert2

 

Ruby Foo’s
1626 Broadway
New York, NY

Monarch Rooftop Lounge
71 W 35 St
New York, NY

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Holidays in Monterey

I spent the holidays in Monterey, California visiting with family and friends. It felt wonderful to be home for a couple weeks and enjoyed the home cooking, baking, trying new restaurants, watching movies, shopping, going to the aquarium/downtown/Fisherman’s Wharf, catching up with friends and getting into the Christmas spirit of joy, love and wonder.

Here are from scenes from around the town of Monterey.

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Seasons Greetings from Fisherman’s Wharf

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Boats at Fisherman’s Wharf

Christmas Tree at Del Monte Shopping Center

I also enjoyed home cooking. One of the first meals I had back home was pork chops with onion, fried rice (made with purple rice), salad and a medley of colorful vegetables: Carrots, mushroom, celery. Everything tasted fresh, flavorful and wonderful.

Monterey2014_food
Another one of my favorite meals was made at a family friend’s place. We had Filipino style noodles with chicken, shrimp, carrots and lettuce. Then we made some fish with onions and shrimp with celery. For dessert, an assortment of cookies (some of them made by me!)

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I loved the homemade lamb chop dish that I helped make. The lamb was seasoned perfectly and tasted tender and delicious. We also added onion and potato, which paired beautifully with the lamb.

Monterey2014_food3
On Christmas day, some family friends came over and we made Chinese steamed dumplings. We created the filling of sticky rice, mushrooms, meat and green onion from scratch and wrapped it in the dumpling skins. After that, they were steamed and they came out a bit soft but still very tasty, especially with some spicy soy sauce.

 

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I made some baked goods as well… The classic chocolate chip cookies and also Christmas cookies with nuts and raisin filling, which we make every holiday season.

Monterey2014_cookies

We had fun getting into the holiday spirit by decorating the house with stockings over the fireplace, poinsettias and other flowers, mini Christmas tree…

Monterey2014_xmas

Since we didn’t have an actual Christmas tree, we visited family friends who did.

Monterey2014_xmas tree

On Christmas Eve, I had a chance to go to Candy Cane Lane (yes, that is an actual street name) and each house has to decorate on the outside so there is are tons of beautiful lights, displays and a center area with sleigh, reindeer, life size gingerbread house and more. It’s like a magical Christmas Winter Wonderland!

Monterey2014_candy cane lane 2

Monterey2014_candy cane lane

Below was one of my favorite decorated houses. I just loved the sparkling lights, the bits of blue and red in between the white and the reindeer going up to the chimney! I thought it was both sophisticated and adorable at the same time.

Monterey2014_lightsChristmas morning I made French toast then we opened presents.

Monterey2014_xmas day
We had dinner at Benihana, where I had a $30 gift certificate for my birthday. We had a great time and great meal there, as usual. It is always fun to watch the chef prepare our meals with finesse and skill. I ordered a passion fruit smoothie with strawberry swirls which was sweet, refreshing and delightful. I would have liked a bit more strawberry flavor though. For my meal, I had Filet Mignon and shrimp, which came with a multitude of sides and appetizers including soup, salad, chicken fried rice, shrimp and vegetables: Mushroom, zucchini and onion. Everything was well made and delicious. I also had chocolate ice cream which came with a lit candle in it and one of the servers played the drums and sang Happy Birthday!

Monterey2014_benihanaSoon after Christmas (2 days), it was my birthday! A friend of mine took me to Carmel for exploring, shopping and lunch at Cypress Inn, a super cute place owned by Doris Day, where they allow dogs. I had the fish and chips, which came with garlic french fries and it tasted amazing. The fish was fried to perfection with great flavor and the french fries were crispy and well seasoned.

Monterey2014_carmel

Afterwards, I came home to a lovely surprise party! It was filled with amazing friends, great food, wonderful gifts and a delectable ice cream cake.

Monterey2014_cake

Below are some presents that I received: Clothes, money, scarves, accessories, chocolate and more. Some of my favorite gifts: A gorgeous gold heart necklace with diamonds and a scrapbook of Memories/my life that was made with love and care.

Monterey2014_gifts

Monterey2014_scrapbook

I had a wonderful holiday back home in California and hope that all your holidays were also beautiful and filled with love, family, friends, spectacular food and fun!

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Dining at Aleo

I had a lovely dinner at Aleo Restaurant & Bar earlier this week, which is a cozy adorable spot in the Flatiron/Gramercy area that showcases innovative Italian cuisine with  traces of Mediterranean flavoring.

For the entree, I chose New Zealand Lamb Chops, which consisted of grilled lamb chops, roasted potatoes, asparagus, cumin-marinated carrots, au jus and taziki white sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly and had amazing flavor. I enjoyed it with the taziki sauce which had a strong yogurt and dill taste, and was slightly tangy. All the vegetables were wonderful, especially the carrots and potatoes. The carrots were incredibly flavorful and just the right texture. The potatoes were underneath the lamb chops and had soaked all the delicious sauces and spices from the lamb.

Aleo_entree

My friend and I shared a dessert of  chocolate molten cake with vanilla gelato, which was wonderful. The chocolate was rich and delightful. I would have liked it if the chocolate inside was a bit more warm and melt-y but overall the cake had a lovely sweet and deeply chocolate-y flavor. The gelato was incredibly delicious and a nice change from the boring old ice cream accompaniment.

Aleo_dessert

Overall, a delicious, flavorful well seasoned and balanced meal with good service. I even received $10 off the bill because I had a birthday coupon, which made for a happy and a great end of meal!

Aleo_me

Aleo
7 W. 20 St
New York, NY

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Exploring Shanghai 2014

breakfast

I had an amazing time in China! I stayed with family in Shanghai, China most of the time, but we also took little trips to nearby smaller towns: Suzhou and Ningbo. (More on that later!)

I really enjoyed sightseeing at the Bund (with the view of the waterfront and Oriental Pearl Tower), Nanjing Lu and other famous shopping streets, beautiful malls, lovely botanical gardens, and Wild Animal Park (Z00), where we got to see lions, tigers/white tigers, cheetahs and bears up close in their natural habitat! Here are some photos from my adventures:

The Bund

The Bund

Shopping Street with the Best Bargains

Shopping Street with the Best Bargains

Purchases: Michael Kors & Dior handbags; Tea; Paris notebooks; London scarf

Purchases: Michael Kors & Dior handbags; Tea; Paris notebooks; London scarf

Mall

Mall

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Close up of Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Close up of Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Feeding Baby White Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Feeding Baby White Tiger at Wild Animal Park

Family in China

Family in China

I will be adding more photos and stories of my experience in China soon!

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