Dining at Girl & the Goat

A few months ago I was in Chicago for a work conference and I had the most incredible and wonderful dining experience at Girl & the Goat. Stephanie Izard, the owner of the restaurant won “Top Chef!” For our team dinner, we had our own private room downstairs. The room where we dined was lovely and rustic, featuring a beautiful setting on a wood table with candles and a plant in the center.


We met Gary, our go-to server for the evening and he was awesome. He knew the menu well, listened and tended to our dietary needs, and was completely gracious throughout the night.

I asked if any of the amazing-sounding cocktails could be made without alcohol and so I got The Royal Rubus that way. It was citrusy soda with lemon bitters, blackberry and lime. It came in a brilliant raspberry red and was very tasty and refreshing.


The meal started off with an assortment of breads: One sourdough with little pieces of ham in it, which was okay. I didn’t have a ton of flavor but I liked the green peas and ham that came with it. There was also muffin top bread, which was nicely moist and it came with yummy seasoned butter.


Next we had “Fried Naked Cowboys” which were fried oysters with egg salad on the bottom. These came in cute little spoons and one bite form. Even though I’m not a huge fan of oysters, it was quite good fried and the sauce on top worked well with it.


Then there was salad which consisted of fennel, evalon cheese, toasted almonds and blueberries. This was nice and I especially liked the cheese, which was a sweet goat cheese with fruity and nutty finish. It added an additional layer of delightful flavor to the salad.


The goat empanadas were one of my favorite dishes. It had strawberry, white asparagus with it and smashed avocado underneath. The empanadas were perfectly crispy and the goat meat was so very flavorful and melted in my mouth!


We also had green garlic pierogis which was decent, but I didn’t taste a strong garlic taste. The filling was like mashed potatoes.

The vegetables we had were cauliflower, broccoli and string beans. The cauliflower dish had pickled peppers, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. It was slightly crispy and had a nice burst of flavor. The broccoli had little crisps and the green beans had yummy cashews!


The entrees were pasta, fish and pork shank. The pasta was spiral with tons of appetizing beef, which was wonderfully juicy and incredibly savory. There were also little orange tomatoes and tomatoes on top that were fresh and flavorful. We also had wild striped bass in a coconut green curry, new potatoes and artichokes. I enjoyed this dish, especially the slightly charred skin on the fish.


Last, was the crisp braised pork shank with naan and the following dipping sauces: Grilled spring onion kimchi and buttermilk dressing. The pork was so wonderful and tender!  I loved the crunchiness of it.

Pork Shank_Girl&Goat

After all that, there were 5 different types of desserts. My absolute favorite was vanilla gelato with chocolate shell, caramel sauce and caramel popcorn. This dessert was truly delectable and so decadent. I could have a whole bowl of it if I wasn’t already so stuffed.


My second favorite dessert was balls of coated gelato with peanut butter inside and candied peanuts.


There was also a tres leches cake with strawberry and some pudding, as well as fruity sorbet. It was a nice, light and yummy treat.

Then there was a pudding-like dessert with a blend of pure toffee pieces, expresso and vanilla. The last dessert was different and interesting. It consisted of gelatin, blueberries and pieces of meringue.


Each dish from appetizer, to entree, to dessert was well thought out and unique in a good way. All of the food exceeded my expectations and was mouthwateringly delicious! The service was impeccable. Everything came together seamlessly. This is absolutely one of the best dinners I have ever had!

Girl & The Goat
809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL

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Fairy Tale Fashion Exhibit

The museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) recently exhibited “Fairy Tale Fashion,” which displayed gorgeous and dazzling dresses, gowns, high heel shoes and displays that harken back to stories such as Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice & Wonderland and many more. Below were some of my favorite designs.

I loved the filmy, ethereal quality of the long white gown, along with the little sparkle of silver on top and the elaborate pattern of the other dress, as well as the dramatic plunging neckline. Both of these dresses are incredibly glamorous.


Then there was this gown, which I found beautiful beyond measure. I love the way the gown floats outward towards the bottom and the roses all over. The black sash high above the waist is perfectly positioned and adds structure to the design. Absolutely breathtaking!

FIT_white gown

These were my favorite pair of heels on display. I loved the dainty detail of the design, especially the butterfly cut outs that stud the front and back.


One of my favorite displays was this aquatic mermaid-y wonderland scene. The focal point was the sparkling dress with pale pink and white flowers all over it. All the metallic and flowy material of the other outfits worked well to form a wonderful cohesive underwater theme.


Another display I liked was the forest scheme that was modeled for Snow White. The dazzling white dresses set off the centerpiece which showcases a colorful and interesting design, which all go well with the darker and sexier gowns on the edges.


I found the entire exhibit to be inspiring, beautiful and magical.


Unfortunately, the “Fairy Tale Fashion” exhibit has ended, but current exhibits at FIT are: “Uniformity” and “Bookends.” Upcoming exhibits include “Proust’s Muse, The Countess Greffulhe,” “Black Fashion Designers,” “Paris Refashioned: 1957-1968” and “Force of Nature.”


The Museum at FIT
227 W. 27 St
New York, NY


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Filipino Dinner at Tito Rad’s

I came here with a medium sized group and we shared everything family style… Tito Rad’s Grill & Restaurant is perfect for that!

The appetizers we started off with were the lumpiang shanghai (lumpia) which is my all time favorite Filipino food and ukoy (bean sprout fritters). The lumpia had a mixture of pork, shrimp and mixed vegetable and was a perfect blend inside the extremely wonderful crispy shell. The bean sprout fritters were something new for me… The bean sprouts are fried in a batter, along with shrimp and vegetables. It was quite good as well with a nice bold flavor.

We also had quite a few main courses, such as pork adobo, a departure from the usual chicken adobo dish. It was really good, marinated in soy sauce, peppercorn and spices, cooked with onions. The pork was perfectly tender and well seasoned.


I also liked the BBQ pork chop and we even ordered another serving of that because we enjoyed it so much! The meat was juicy and very tasty. The accompanying sauce was worked really well with the pork chop.


Then there was the grilled tuna belly, which was great as well. The skin was grilled just right and tasted wonderful with the meat.

We chose 2 noodle dishes: Pancit and crispy noodles. The one I liked better was the pancit – sautéed egg noodles cooked with chicken, shrimp, chinese sausage, carrots, lettuce, other greens. It was a great medley of ingredients and each one tasted fresh and full of flavor. The other one had carrots, green beans, broccoli, chicken on top of a bed of crispy noodles. I liked the crunch of the noodles but it wasn’t quite as flavorful as the pancit.

My least favorite dish was called Laing – taro leaves cooked with green peppers and apparently some sort of meat but I couldn’t taste any of that. It looked like a mess of green and I didn’t find it to be that good. It was lacking in flavor and I wasn’t a fan of the consistency and texture.

After all that, we had to try some dessert. I was sold on the Halo Halo, which is shaved ice with ice cream, condensed milk, sweet beans, jello, taro cake, fruits! One of my table mates declared that it was good for one person, so I ordered that and it came in a HUGE cup. There was so much in there and it was delightful, although difficult to finish because the shaved ice was really cold (pointing out the obvious here, I know)! The ice cream was French Vanilla with strawberry jelly swirl on top and though I don’t normally enjoy vanilla ice cream by itself, this ice cream was incredibly delicious: Creamy, sweet, milky and most of all, intense and fresh vanilla flavor! All the other ingredients were also quite good and the condensed milk tinged everything and gave it an extra level of sweet yumminess!


The service was pretty good and there was a lovely lady who came by several times to make sure we were doing okay and we got everything we ordered. She was a very gracious host.

All in all, a wonderful evening filled with quality Filippino food and great company!


Tito Rad’s Grill
49-10 Queens Blvd
Queens, NY

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Yelp’s Holiday Cruise 2016

This year’s Yelp Holiday Cruise aboard the Hornblower Infinity was off the hook amazing!

The Hornblower Infinity was a beautiful, spacious yacht with 3 levels. “Recently remodeled with a bold design, this vessel is the largest in the New York fleet and matches the uniqueness of New York.”


Upon entering, my group of friends and I headed downstairs to the first floor, where all the savory food vendors were. After a bit of noshing on yummy savory bites, I headed up to the 2nd level for some sweet treats. There was also CandyTwisted Balloons, where they make balloon hats of your choice… They were gorgeous! On the third floor, where there was an oxygen bar, massage area, painting and a magician.


Between the Bread
They presented us with a scallop on top of a tortilla chip, which was delicious. I really enjoyed the pan seared scallop and the flavorful pesto sauce on top.

Otto’s Tacos
This pulled pork taco was quite large and chock full of wonderful tasting seasoning! The meat was juicy, tender and so yummy!

City Cakes
I am a chocolate chip cookie girl (which I also tried of course), but one bite of the red velvet cake cookie and I was hooked… It was perfectly soft, had a mix of red velvet and white cream, just the right amount of sweetness and the definition of delicious. The chocolate chip cookie was also mouthwatering good.

yhh_red velvet
Tea & Milk
Cute bubble tea business. The folks making and serving the bubble tea were friendly and bubbly! I couldn’t decide between the regular black tea or the green jasmine tea so they let me try both! They were quite tasty, especially the jasmine tea. I liked the bit of cream they put on top and the tapioca balls were exactly the right texture and size.

yhh_bubble tea
Oficina Latina
This booth had both savory and sweet… Gorgonzola gnocchi with greens which were great and for dessert, I chose the chocolate and nutella which was absolutely delectable: Very rich, creamy, chocolate-y smooth and decadent!

Perfectly adorable mini donuts of quite a few different flavors. Each one moist and delightful, with sweet icing! Pictured below: Passionfruit and Chocolate.

One vendor I didn’t really care for was Chickpea, though I loved their beautiful, colorful, unique and creative presentation of flowers, along with the meats. Beyond that, I thought the naan, chicken and falafel were quite bland and dry. Another that didn’t meet my expectations was Coppelia’s chicken fried rice, especially since I love the restaurant Coppelia. It might have benefited from more seasoning and fresh ingredients.

The dance floor was super fun, with great songs and lots of characters, such as Elmo, Unicorns, dinosaurs, entertainers in glittery bedazzled costumes, dancers in white with masks and so on. The boat docked around 9pm, but the DJ and Hornblower Cruises staff stuck around for an extra hour so we could continue having a blast and dance the night away!


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Celebrating at Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory is a fun, club-like, happening, beautifully and festively decorated restaurant hot spot in the trendy Meatpacking District. I came here to celebrate my belated birthday in NYC, with some of my closest friends.



The menu is a hefty book with tons of cocktail drinks (which can be made non alcoholic), milkshakes, food and dessert options.


I knew that I wanted a milkshake, which are expensive at $10, but really huge. I made a few of my friends order a milkshake as well, so was able to taste 4 different types. Here is what I thought, listed in order of favorite to least favorite.

1. Fluffier Nutter is the milkshake I chose and consisted of vanilla soft serve ice cream base, with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, marshmallows, topped with whipped cream and peanut butter cups. I was able to taste the peanut butter well, but wish there was more of a distinct marshmallow flavor. Also, it came topped with Reeses M&M’s, not peanut butter cups.


2. Make A Wish, was also made with vanilla soft serve, made with yellow cake, sprinkles and a cute little birthday candle, which I wished upon and blew out. This milkshake was deliciously sweet and the cake was perfectly moist and tasty.


3. Chocolate Cookie Jar had vanilla soft serve, oreo, chocolate chips, caramel and chocolate sauces. This tasted just like Cookies & Cream and was very yummy.


4. Memory Lane was vanilla soft serve, blended with hot fudge, marshmallows, chocolate fudge and waffle cone pieces. When I tried it, it was actually pretty bland… I couldn’t really discern the flavors clearly and definitely did not taste a lot of hot fudge or marshmallows, so this milkshake flavor was a disappointment.

For my entree, I ordered the Mediterranean Chicken Pappardelle pasta dish, which included sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, fresh herbs and a lemony sauce made with  olive oil and roasted garlic, along with toasted thin slice of bread with garlic taste on it (I wouldn’t really call it garlic bread even though it calls it that on the menu). I liked my meal for the most part, but I thought the sauce was too oily. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente though and the chicken was nice and flavorful, going well with the artichoke, pine nuts and I enjoyed the plethora of parmesan cheese.

When we were all finished, the servers came out with a seriously massive ice cream sundae with 2 sparklers in it and they all sang Happy Birthday to me! The sundae was beautifully presented with whipped cream, colorful sprinkles, sugar cones, 2 lollipops and the sizzling sparkling sparklers were a perfect touch! This sundae was the World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae, which had cookies & cream, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla ice cream flavors, as well as rice crispy treat pieces, pretzels, gummy bears, strawberries, blueberries and chocolate sauce. It also come with a comically big spoon. The servers handed out separate bowls for everyone and we started to dig in… It was delicious! I especially enjoyed the rice crispy treats and gummy bears. This amazing sundae concoction actually costs $99 for 12 people and the restaurant gave it to us without charge! Such a generous and wonderful gesture on their part… This definitely made up for having to wait a bit to be seated!


This was the perfect place to celebrate my belated birthday dinner… I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and it seemed like most of my friends were having a ton of fun as well.


Sugar Factory
835 Washington St
New York, NY

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Holidays in California

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in California during the holiday time. From visiting the Aquarium, spending time at the beach, going shopping, hanging out downtown and at the Farmer’s Market, enjoying home cooked meals and time with family in my hometown in Monterey; to seeing friends in LA and relaxing at Miracle Springs Resort & Spa at Desert Hot Springs; to spending Christmas with family friends, stopping by the Chumash Casinos and checking out the charming town of Solvang (Danish Capital of America), it was a wonderful mini-vacation.

Christmas in Monterey, CA

I love the glittering, dazzling lights and decorations of the Portola Hotel lobby.


This colorful and lovely Christmas tree is displayed in the middle of the Del Monte Shopping Center.


Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA


Even though I have seen many of the exhibits already, I always feel a sense of wonder and magic while watching the brilliant sea life all around me. Also, I love seeing the new exhibits and activities that make the experience even more enjoyable.

Some of my favorite displays are the playful otters, cute penguins, beautiful jellyfish, brightly colored fish of hot pink/electric blue and yellow etc, mystical kelp forest, school of fish forming shapes together, formidable sharks, majestic sea turtles and the fact that the Aquarium is connected to the natural ocean front and there are outdoor areas throughout where you can witness the amazing views of the Monterey Bay/Pacific Ocean.


Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Truly wonderful place with a beautiful lobby – Plush comfortable seats, nice Christmas tree and lights, huge windows that overlook the amazing landscaping, pools and hot tubs.

We headed to the pool and jacuzzis, which are all natural hot and cold springs. I started in one of the hot tubs which was quite warm and incredibly relaxing. It felt amazing to just soak in the hot tub and let the water and jets flow over me. After a bit I went to the biggest pool, where the temperature was cooler, but wasn’t cold by any means…It felt more lukewarm and big enough to swim back and forth, which I enjoyed. Later, we spent time in a smaller jacuzzi which was still pretty warm, but not as hot as the first one. Also, the jets were stronger in that one so it was great to feel that on my back, feet and was sort of like a massage. These hot tubs are the perfect place to unwind and take away any stress you might be feeling!


Christmas Time in Santa Rosa, CA

My mom and I joined a family friends in celebrating Christmas together, where I got to meet my friend’s adorable and sweet one year old son, Sebastian!


We also had a delicious Christmas feast of two different types of prime rib, ham, stuffing, roasted potatoes, creamy mushroom dish and not pictured: Potato salad, medley of roasted vegetables, apple pie and homemade cookies!

Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Inez, CA

We spent Christmas evening here since we were a few hours from home. I loved the Christmas tree in the lobby and the rooms were lovely and comfortable.


Day at Solvang, CA (Danish Capital of America)

We had a nice time exploring and enjoying the cute and charming town of Solvang, in Santa Barbara County, soaking up the festive atmosphere.


At Solvang Restaurant, we had to order the famous aebleskiver, which is the traditional Danish pancake, in the shape of a ball, sitting in raspberry sauce and topped with powdered sugar. They were fluffy and doughy, though I thought the sauce was a bit too sweet and the aebleskivers themselves didn’t have a ton of flavor. But they were certainly presented beautifully.


Beaches in Monterey and Marina, CA

I also had the pleasure of spending time on the gorgeous, glorious beaches in Monterey County.



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Afternoon Tea Time Experiences

In the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea service at a couple of different places. These restaurants include Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II and Measure at Langham Place on Fifth Avenue.

Alice’s  Tea Cup had a really whimsical, fanciful, lovely and cute ambiance.

We decided on the Mad Hatter Tea Service, which is absolutely perfect for two people. It comes with two pots of tea, 3 scones, 3 little sandwiches, a dessert of our choice and cookies. And it’s a steal for around $30 per person, for a substantial amount of food. We ended up having to take quite a bit home for later!


For the tea, I picked Chocolate Chai and my friend chose Christmas Tea because we wanted to try something festive. Too bad there wasn’t a Fall Blend or Pumpkin-Something option. The Chocolate Chai is black tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, vanilla and sweetened with chocolate. It was lovely and rich, with a subtle flavor of chocolate. The Christmas Tea was a comforting blend of Indian black tea, hibiscus, raisins, rose hips, almonds, cinnamon and clove. I thought it tasted just okay, but I did enjoy it when it was mixed with the Chocolate Chai and milk.

The sandwiches we selected were curried chicken salad and ham with gruyere. The curried chicken salad had red onion, celery, granny smith apple and tomato slices on golden raisin semolina. This was really nice with a huge amount of seasoning. But I really enjoyed the black forest ham and gruyere, which came with whole grain mustard and mayonnaise on golden raisin semolina bread. I think I tasted more mayonnaise than mustard, which was  a win for me. Though simpler, it had purer flavors and unexpectedly, I think I may have liked it a bit more than the curried chicken salad sandwich.


For the scones, we of course had to try the pumpkin spice (‘Tis the season!), chocolate caramel and ginger molasses (50 cents more for that one). We tried the pumpkin one, which had a robust pumpkin flavor, on the spot and it was wonderful, especially with the homemade clotted cream and raspberry jam. We also tried it with some whipped cream we had and that was deliciously indulgent. Later, I had the rest of the scones and I enjoyed the chocolate chips in the chocolate caramel one, but the glaze of caramel taste was not that strong. The ginger molasses was heavy on both ginger and sweet molasses flavor and quite good.


As for the dessert, we decided to order the chocolate mousse pudding, though I will have to come back for to try the mocha cake because I saw another table have it and it looked amazing! The chocolate mousse was certainly exquisite and delectable, with incredibly rich sweet milk chocolate and whipped cream. It was irresistibly creamy and smooth as silk.


The service was great as well and I will definitely return, especially for that mocha cake and the s’mores dessert that I saw on the menu!


For my second afternoon tea, I chose Measure, which is located within the first floor of Langham Place, a super swanky and gorgeous hotel on Fifth Avenue. The interior of Measure is elegance and sophistication personified with high ceilings, dark brown cushiony seats, lovely glass tables, pretty white accents.


A friend and I came here for Modern Afternoon Tea (weekends between 2-5pm) and it was fairly empty, so we were able to sit wherever we liked. We chose to sit by the window, looking out at the hustle and bustle of New York City’s 5th Avenue street.

There were 3 loose leaf teas to select from: Earl Grey, Genmaicha and Mint. Just a note: If you don’t like the sound of any of those, they have 14 other types of tea (in tea bag form). I went for the classic, Earl Grey which was delightful with milk and the little cubes of brown sugar. My friend selected the Genmaicha, which is basically green tea with toasted rice. It had an sort of soothing, mild and earthy taste to it.


Our food came out in a sort of bento box format and the presentation was absolutely exquisite. The 3 savory appetizers were on top and the 3 sweet treats were underneath. The hummus grougere came with vegetable pronvecale topping of colorful bell peppers. The hummus was good, with a creamy consistency and nice fresh taste. The king crab roll was adorable, with thousand island dressing and micro herbs on top, which looked a bit like caviar. I didn’t like micro herbs, but the rest of the roll was wonderful and I really enjoyed the ample amount of crab meat on it. My favorite of the savory delights was definitely the warm scotch egg, which had chopped pork and chorizo in the breading, as well as curry mayonnaise and lettuce on top. The breading was crispy, full of flavor and truly satisfying, especially accompanied by the well seasoned half cooked egg.


Then there were the desserts. There was a chocolate and passion fruit French macaron that was quite large (on the menu it’s labeled incorrectly as a “Macaroon,” which is the coconut pastry, not the French cookie). The outer shell was bright pink, one of my favorite colors, with a dusting of pink & purple and a drizzle of white sugar glaze. The center was filled with rich chocolate mousse, raspberries and some passion fruit cream. The chocolate and raspberries overpowered the flavor of the passion fruit, but it was delicious nonetheless. Then there was a cookies and cream profiterole, with a fancy chocolate piece on top, along with broken up bits of oreo cookie. The profiterole was wonderfully sweet and lusciously creamy. Last, was the cheese cake filled chocolate covered strawberry. I’m a sucker for chocolate covered strawberries, so this was a big hit for me and the cheese cake filling, mingled with the chocolate was perfectly delectable.

After all that, there was still more to be had… Nutmeg and cinnamon scones, with homemade jam and clotted cream. The scones were piping warm and had a strong flavor of cinnamon and the clotted cream was an amazing addition to the already yummy, melt in your mouth crumbly scones.


This is a great place to come to enjoy a fancy afternoon tea, and at $35 per person, the pricing is not bad either!

The service was a little lackluster since the servers did not come by that often and we sometimes had to wait a bit to get their attention. However, when they did come around, they were attentive and polite.


While Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II had more substantial servings and was lower in price, Measure was more fancy with a more exquisite presentation and taste. However, I truly enjoyed both places for lovely tea afternoon experiences and would highly recommend both restaurants.


Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II
156 E 64 St
New York, NY

400 5th Ave
New York, NY

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