Bronycon 2015

A few weekends ago (August 7-9, 2015) I traveled to Baltimore, MD meeting up with friends to go to BronyCon, which is the largest convention for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. For Bronycon, I dressed in purple and glitter (wearing a beautiful pale purple tulle skirt that my friend made for me), in the style of Twilight Sparkle. Here, I am pictured with the friendly Applejack!

bronycon_applejackThere were over hundred panels and activities at Bronycon this year. Some of panels were dedicated to the convention’s guests of honor, as well as panels from members of the fanbase on art, music, writing, video productions, and other community aspects. The convention also provided several activity rooms, such as for arts and crafts, video games, cosplay and card game tournaments.

The following were some of my favorite events:

Bronypalooza: A musical concert over two nights, featuring fan musicians, such as Jeff Burgess & the Bad Mares, SaxBrony, ElieMonty, Seventh Element, ArtAttack, Rhyme Flow, Eurobeat Brony and many more!

bronypaloozaCosplay/Costumes: I loved seeing all the gorgeous, flowing, handmade costumes throughout the conference. Below, I am pictured with Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.

Bronycon_fluttershyGrand Galloping Gala: Lovely and lively dance party, from classical music to more energetic tunes.

Hooves Line is it Anyway?: A fun-filled hilarious ponified-version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” by talented actors.

Marketplace: Over 200 vendors selling handmade art, along with selected retail vendors with licensed My Little Pony merchandise, such as the ever popular plushies and games.

bronycon_purple dressbronycon_kidsHere is some of the merchandise that I purchased: Luna bag, glittery soap and a gorgeous drawing of Princess Celestia.

bronycon_merchOpen Mic: An eclectic mix of My Little Pony related poetry, singing, skits.

Also, while walking around the Baltimore Convention Center, we came across some great photo ops with Furries!

bronycon_furriesbronycon_furryI also enjoyed the conference’s close proximity to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which my friends and I explored during the late afternoons and evenings, enjoying several delicious meals in the area.

bronycon_inner harborOverall, I had an amazingly fun adventure-filled weekend at Bronycon, and I am so happy I got to share this experience with awesome friends.

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RW Lunch: i Trulli

i Trulli is a lovely and charming Italian restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor garden in the back, where a friend and I enjoyed our Restaurant Week lunch meal.

i trulli_meFirst we were given water and our glass was always full. Then the waiter brought out a small basket of bread: There were 2 different types. One was foccaccia like with sun-dried tomato, fennel, rosemary and other seasoning. The other was rustic brown bread. It came with nice fluffy and creamy butter.

i trulli_breadI had the baby calzones for my appetizer. One had cheese and tomato filling, while the other was sausage and broccoli rabe. I think I liked the cheesy one better. There wasn’t enough of the filling in the other calzone.

i trulli_appsFor my main course, I chose the “straw and hay” pasta dish, Paglia e Fieno, which came with peas, pancetta (lots of it, to my delight) and cream sauce. It was truly delicious! The pasta itself were long strips of golden yellow and green colors and cooked to perfection. The peas were fresh and wonderful, the pancetta was incredibly flavorful with just the right amount of salt, slightly crispy with tons of great seasoning. It tasted amazing. The dish also came with lots of Parmesan cheese. It was very rich and filling.

i trulli_pastaMy friend had the Pork Scaloppini which was pork medallions with bread salad of tomatoes, onion and cucumber. The presentation was really nice and I loved that it was so colorful, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pork. It didn’t taste all that flavorful to me and was a bit too chewy. The salad was pretty tasty though.

i trulli_porkchopDessert was Torta di Cioccolato, chocolate cake with a scoop of coconut sorbetti. When we were first served dessert, my friend and I felt that the portion size was quite small, but it still satisfied us. The cake, however, was more like a mini brownie with chocolate drizzled on top. The ice cream was in a perfect small ball and there was toffee peanut brittle underneath it. I enjoyed the cake which was chocolate-y, moist and slightly sweet, while the coconut sorbetti was refreshing and light.

i trulli_dessertI really enjoyed the meal, atmosphere and attentive service at i Trulli.

i trulli

i Trulli
124 E 27 St
New York, NY

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Popbar: Gelato on a Stick

I love Popbar in the West Village. It’s the perfect dessert spot for summer and any other season. It’s gelato on a stick… Made with fresh, natural ingredients and dipped in different types of chocolate with the option to add toppings. Such a simple, yet delicious concept.

popbar_me1I’ve been to Popbar numerous times and twice this weekend! Some flavors I’ve tried (all dipped in milk chocolate): Dulce de Leche (probably my favorite flavor- extremely sweet, rich, wonderful); peanut butter (just delicious); pumpkin (seasonal treat- nice and yummy).

popbarRecently I had the coffee with milk chocolate and that was delectable. Loved the smooth coffee-chocolate taste. Today I had the strawberry yogurt with a new dipping sauce: Caramel dark chocolate. I loved the strawberry taste- Very creamy, sweet (but not overly so), refreshing! And I enjoyed the dark chocolate, but I felt like the caramel flavor was not that strong.

popbar_popsicleI really want to try the blood orange, green tea, hazelnut, pistachio & mixed berry flavors next. Looks like I’ll have to come back quite often… Which is perfectly fine by me. This is one of the few establishments I would travel out of my way to go to!

Tip: The Popsicles melt quickly, so it’s better to stay in the store/sit right outside to enjoy/eat it versus walking out with it.

popbar_me

Popbar
5 Carmine St
New York, NY

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Amazing Grace on Broadway

amazinggrace_outsideI got the chance to see “Amazing Grace” during the previews and am so glad I did! This Broadway musical is based on a true story that tells the tale of how John Newton penned the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” There is an amazing back story to the song that was about slavery, love, bravery.

amazinggrace_stage
I was completely mesmerized by the show from the very first moment to the last. The musical really takes the audience on a journey… There were a lot of tough and emotional scenes, especially regarding slave trade. The musical gave us a glimpse of the brutality in which the imprisoned slaves were treated. I found myself feeling deeply for the slaves, and tearing up on quite a few occasions. Despite the hard to watch moments, there were many inspirational moments and gestures of kindness, as well.

The actors were superb and really captured the audience’s attention with their witty dialogue and beautiful singing. The songs were wonderful: Heartfelt, full of meaning and all the actors had gorgeous voices that harmonized perfectly.

The main actors were amazing… Josh Young who played John Newton was handsome, manly and stubborn. His character changed drastically during the show and Young portrayed this gracefully. Erin Mackey played Mary Catlett, Newton’s love interest and she was absolutely stunningly gorgeous, courageous, compassionate and wonderful. Her soprano voice was pure delight to the ears.

There were also a few characters I did not care for, but actually “loved to hate” – They played their villainous parts well.

I really liked the lavish costumes as well. The gowns were extravagant in all different colors with lots of pretty lace and material. The outfits for the men were sharp and smart.

Overall, “Amazing Grace” was powerful, compelling and beautiful. It will make you cry, laugh and feel.

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AMAZING GRACE at Nederlander Theatre
208 W 41 St
New York, NY

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June 2015 Yelp Elite Events

I recently reached Elite status on Yelp.com and have finally experienced several amazing Yelp events, from an ice cream tasting, to dinner at an Australian restaurant and an outdoor affair with appetizers and treats.

The first event I went to was the Milkmade Tasting Room ice cream tasting in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Milkmade is a small shop that is easily missed if you’re not looking for it. They had 5 unique flavors and I was able to try all of them. Below, are the flavors in order from my favorite to least favorite.

RVC

Red Velvet Cupcake was creamy sweet and delicious. I enjoyed the cream cheese flavored ice cream with a multitude of red velvet crumbles.

Fingerlakes PB&J

This peanut butter and jelly flavored ice cream was a wonderful smooth base of peanut butter, accented with a jelly swirl.

Open Sesame

This was black sesame with caramel. It had a strong nutty flavor with a lovely sweetness.

Blueberry

This flavor was simple, light and tasted perfectly of blueberries. Beautiful purple-blue color as well.

Chinatown Chocolate

This chocolate flavor had traces of cinnamon, sichuan pepper and fennel so it was quite interesting. I found the extra flavors to be a little bit too busy and wasn’t sure if I liked all of them together.

yelp_icecreamAfter the ice cream tasting, my friend and I headed to the Elite Only event in Queens: Outback to Astoria at The Thirsty Koala, which is an Australian restaurant. The food was delicious and there was plenty to go around. There was ceviche on a circular tortilla chip with sea bass, which were tasty 2-bite size pieces. It tasted both fresh and flavorful.

yelp_cevicheThen there were Australian meat pies, which had sausage in them and they were amazing! The meat was seasoned beautifully and full of robust flavor.

yelp_meatpiesThen there were corn fritter sliders, which came with a jalapeno sauce which was actually quite wonderful, even though I don’t normally like spicy food. The corn fritter was so good, while the sauce complemented the corn fritter well.

Yelp_slidersWe also got to try these delicious meatballs and calamari which had the perfect amount of crispiness. There were also lamb chops, which was a crowd favorite, but not my favorite because it was a bit too rare for me and there was too much fat on it.

yelp_lambchopsThen our table noticed there were kangaroo empanadas going around which we didn’t get a chance to try so my friend asked about it and they made a whole tray just for us! What incredible service… It tasted pretty good. Kind of tasted like well seasoned beef – I would not have known it was kangaroo if no one told me.

After that came the desserts. The first one was called Koala Ball, which was basically a chocolate ball: Hard chocolate outer shell with a soft, gooey, rich, chocolatey brownie-like center. It was absolutely delectable!

yelp_chocolateThe other was a chocolate caramel bar with a shortbread-like base. This was also incredible and the chocolate complemented the caramel just right.

yelp_chocolate caramelMy third Yelp Elite event: Studio Lot Affair, took place outdoors yesterday, at the Kaufman Astoria Studios with foot from Astor Room and cocktails provided by Buffalo Trace. I enjoyed the chicken salad on toasted bread, as well as the chicken skewers with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. However, my favorite, by far was the maple-candied bacon. It was extremely crispy, both sweet and salty, chock full of sweet maple flavor and just the best bacon I have ever had.

yelp_baconI had such a great time and met some awesome new friends at each of the Yelp Elite events, so can’t wait to attend future events!

MilkMade Tasting Room
204 Sackett Street
Brooklyn, NY

The Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Boulevard
Queens, NY

The Astor Room
34-12 36 St
Queens, NY

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Memorial Day Weekend Fun

I had a wonderful, fun filled Memorial Day weekend: Fleet Week, Bar Bacon, backyard BBQ with great friends.

On Friday, I headed to Times Square to see The “Rhode Island Sound,” a division of Navy Band Northeast perform. I loved how they sounded: Energetic, polished and fun! The songs they played ranged from contemporary hits such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” to more classic tunes, like Prince’s “Kiss” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” They ended with the catchy “Don’t Stop Believing,” and effectively got all of us to dance and sing along.

fleetweek2015_bandThere were also Marines stationed nearby with guns and a huge military tank. I held one of the guns, as pictured below.

fleetweek2015_marine I also climbed up on top of the tank, which was quite high and was a little disconcerting, but also felt exhilarating being up at such an altitude and able to see all of Times Square.

fleetweek2015_marine2There were also sailors around, so of course I had to take a selfie with a sailor! #SelfieWithASailor

fleetweek2015_sailorsSaturday morning I met up with a bunch of friends to go on the free ship tour. This year, the Navy and Marines came in on the USS San Antonio. We got to see various types of machinery/artillery/tanks, warfare/weapons,  cargo/ammo vehicles, electronics, living quarters and the medical room. My favorite area of the ship was the outdoor upper deck, which boasted a lovely view of the Coast Guard ship and the New York City skyline.

fleetweek2015_me

We had a fun time exploring the USS San Antonio, and couldn’t leave without a group photo with one of the sailors!

fleetweek2015_group picAfter the ship tour, we headed to a nearby restaurant bar in Hell’s Kitchen called Bar Bacon. I had actually heard of the place before and been wanting to try it, because who doesn’t love bacon in everything?

barbacon signWe shared two appetizers: Sauteed brussel sprouts with a delicious sauce and thick cut pieces of bacon and fried pickles. The brussel sprouts were amazing! Such intense flavor and fresh taste! I loved the texture and sort of meatiness of the brussel sprouts. Even if there weren’t any bacon in the dish, I would have been completely satisfied.

barbacon_brussel sproutsThe fried pickles were speared and looked like french fries. They came piping hot so that was good, but otherwise they were just okay.

barbacon_fried pickles

It was difficult for me to choose a main course, because I was looking at two options: French Toast or open faced chicken club sandwich. I ended up sharing with a friend, so was able to experience the best of both worlds. I started with the sandwich, which came beautifully presented. The sandwich came with grilled chicken, Applewood smoked bacon, romaine, organic tomato and chipotle mayonnaise and my, it was delicious! All the ingredients complemented each other and came together perfectly. The chicken was wonderful and juicy; bacon had just the right amount of crispness; the sauce gave it an extra zest of flavor.

barbacon_sandwichThe brioche french toast (only served on weekends) was also artfully presented and came with bacon maple butter, two slices of bacon, strawberries and whipped cream. The accompanying components were very tasty, but the I thought the bread itself was a bit too tough/hard. I prefer my french toast to be fluffy and moist.

barbacon_french toastI also went to a BBQ at a friend’s lovely backyard. We had extremely juicy delicious pulled pork, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, fruit, salad and the star of the event: BBQ ribs! They were succulent, smoky and finger-lickin’ good!

BBQribsLater, we enjoyed one of our friend’s amazing homemade key lime pie. It was delectable… Wonderful light lemon flavor with a killer graham-cracker crust and a bit of whipped cream to add to the already amazing layers of deliciousness. BBQkeylime pieIt turned out to be a great weekend with amazing food, friends and fun!

BBQ

Bar Bacon
836 9th Ave
New York, NY

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Dinner at Sao Mai

I went out with friends to Sao Mai Vietnamese restaurant and we ordered family style, so that we would be able to enjoy a wide variety of dishes.I started off with the Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which was quite strong and not creamy/sweet enough for me… It didn’t enough condensed milk, but it was still pretty good.

saomai_coffeeWe tried many different appetizers, such as the house special platter, which consisted of spring rolls, barbeque chicken, pork and beef and was served with lettuce, pickled carrots, mint leaves and light sweet dipping sauce. I enjoyed the barbeque meat, which was charred slightly (the way I like it).

saomai_appetizersI also really liked the shrimp summer roll with lettuce, mint leaves and vermicelli noodles, wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce. The summer roll was delightfully airy and wonderful. Another appetizer we had was a steamed rice crepe, with minced pork and mushroom which was not one of my favorites.

saomai_summer rollAs for the main courses, we selected one dish per type of meat/fish/veggie: Lemongrass chicken, beef cubes, grilled pork chop, crispy whole fish and tofu with mixed vegetable in traditional Vietnamese sauce. The chicken had a nice flavor to it, while the beef was succulent, juicy and tasty. The pork chop was cooked perfection and had very nice seasoning.

saomai_porkchopThe crispy fish was red snapper with a ginger lime sauce and while it was a bit difficult to cut, it tasted delicious with a great amount of crunch.

saomai_fishOverall, a very full and fulfilling meal. The only downside was that they do not have any dessert, but all was not lost! Afterwards, we headed to nearby Veniero’s pastry shop. For once, I was actually did not need to have my own dessert so we shared amongst ourselves. I tried a little bit of the blood orange/chocolate cake and some of the chocolate cannoli. Both were quite lovely and enjoyable, especially the chocolate parts. The orange cake had a nice delicate quality to it and the cannoli was a bit richer with a more robust sweet flavor to it.

dessertsIt turned out to be a great night of culinary treats and was happy I had the opportunity to try so many different menu options first at Sao Mai, then at Veniero’s.

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Sao Mai
203 1 Ave
New York, NY

Veniero’s
342 E 11 St
New York, NY

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