[NEW YORK] EAT. SHOP. REPEAT

“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”
Rick Riordan

Eat, shop, dream, repeat! was all we did in New York during the winter. In early February, 0°C felt like much less, thanks to bone-chilling winds and an insufficient wardrobe. We had 3 days to spend right smack in the city, where you could literally shop all day and stay up at Times Square without realising it’s already midnight, and not even subzero temperatures could deter them creatures of the night.

Rick Riordan’s quote rang true when I realised literally anybody could dress up in anything and sell their crafts/ideas on Times Square. I forgot how many Big Birds, Cookie Monsters, Madagascar Penguins, Mickey Mouses and Eeyores I’ve seen accosting strangers in the streets, handing out pamphlets or just attempting to sell you something. Nobody found it weird and the reverse is true. The ones wearing them don’t feel judged at all.

Checking into The Paramount Hotel at Times Square felt like entering a club – dim lights, velvet couches, a DJ spinning on the console and bar drinks in the corner.

Straight off our flight, we headed for Koreatown in search of piping hot and spicy Korean food! Decided on New Wonjo because it looked spanking clean and boasts a really strong heater (we felt the emanating warmth just by walking past). Not once during our entire meal did we regret our choice. We had an amazing meal: Bean paste stew (된장찌개), Spicy Tofu Stew (순두부찌개), Short Rib Soup (갈비탕), Beef Glass Noodles (잡채), Rice Cakes (떡볶이), and Seafood Pancake (해물파전 ). Daresay this was one of the best Korean restaurants I’ve been to outside of Seoul.
    

During the trip I had one of the best Thai dishes in NYC too! New York’s melting pot of culture gives rise to an international array of good cuisines within the city centre. Yay me, who’s not a big fan of fast food. This was Thai green curry chicken from Pongsri Thai, a hip diner tucked between Broadway & 8th Ave, bringing you awesome Thai food since 1972.

The sweet-tooth in me jumped for joy at MAGNOLIA BAKERY, NYC’s very own vintage cupcakes store! This is one patisserie that I would seriously cry with happiness if it ever makes its way to Singapore…and guess what!! I just read this on their webpage:
In addition to our current locations, Magnolia Bakery is continuing to franchise internationally and will soon open in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

OH LORD I’LL SHED REAL TEARS OF JOY. Let me show you why:

Day One: Red Velvet Cupcake and Banana Pudding.
I’ve always been a huge fan of red velvet, but this is a whole new level of velvety goodness. It was so soft and creamy, that there was nothing cake-y about it at all. Just melt-in-your-mouth smooth satiny velvet, made red with cocoa, vanilla and “a little southern mystery”, topped with  special whipped vanilla icing and chocolate chips.
  

I’ve never eaten a banana pudding, and my first was pure orgasmic. I totally get why this is Sex-and-The-City-approved! Layers and layers of banana and melted vanilla wafers in a cup blended in rich vanilla mousse… this is helluva showstopper. Omg, so good I swear!

Banana-pudding-and-kindle kinda night

Day Two: Lemon Cheesecake and Magic Cookie Bars
Lemon cheesecake was my breakfast, and it was so totally amazing, I wanted to trudge back to the store in freezing winter just to get another. I love how moist their cupcakes are in the grand scheme of how cupcakes tend to be, and it’s sweet without being sinfully so (or at least they don’t taste sinfully sweet like a pure bar of sugar)
Curious about Magic Cookie Bars and just how magic they were, I tried one, and went to cookie heaven. Still wasn’t sure what was in them until I went over to their page:”Graham cracker crust with chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut topped with sweetened condensed milk then baked.  

Enough talk about food, moving on to the shopping part of my whirlwind stay. For me shopping is the main activity in the States. Without driving to outlet stores, NYC has a convenient selection around our hotel and down the streets. Big names are all listed on city maps designed with easy-to-navigate grids. Sephora awarded me their VI(B) thanks to my patronage every time I’m in the States.

We went into the Lego Store! – always such an innocently happy place. Larger than life-sized figurines such as the Statue of Liberty and Lego Movie characters were made of lego blocks only. I applaud the makers’ patience and their eye for details. This was where we took most of our shameless selfies that must have prompted many to judge us overenthusiastic Asian girls.

In the day, Times Square is incredibly, vividly lit. In the night, it’s not so different. Shopping from late evening on, I didn’t even notice that daylight was gone because the billboards were so intensely bright that they lit up almost the entire sky if you were to stand right in the middle of the streets. I’m reminded again of why NYC is the City that Truly Never Sleeps.

When it was time to go, I was just incredibly sad ): But knowing that I’ll be back someday makes me incredibly excited to explore new parts of the state and venture beyond the city centre!

Of course my bag suffered the brunt of my shopping.

 

Till next time,

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

365 Guide New York City: Drink. Eat. $ave. Every Day of the Year. A Guide to New York City Restaurants and Bars.

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I received this book from Hugo House Publishers Ltd in exchange for a review, and here it is!

Monica DiNatale is no doubt an expert on dining out in NYC. This guide will make life for first-time NYC travelers a hell lot easier. Swishing through the pages, you’ll find the name of the bar/restaurant, its location, opening hours, contact details as well as why it has been a selected feature.

All selections are numbered #1 – #365, lettered from A-Z, so theres literally a year’s worth of dining options to try. There’s no lack of variety, because most of the featured are bar/restaurant fusion where you can stay on after supper for chilling out with your buddies.

I would love to try #133 George Keeley Fine Ales and Lagers, an Irish Pub on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side. Free popcorn for all! Plus burgers with sweet potato fries. It’s a New York dream come true.

Smorgas Chef (#273) also sounds like an interesting deal. Swedish meatballs on Hanover Square? It’s Scandinavian date-night-tastic with the upscale bistro ambience.

All in all DiNatale does know how to have fun, and her picks are truly perfect for a complete NYC night-out.

Publisher: Hugo House Publishers
Date Published: August 14, 2013
My Ratings: 4 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
I know restaurants and bars in New York City can be expensive and intimidating. I wanted 365 Guide to include advice that I would give to close family and friends but share it with the world! Inside 365 Guide there are 365 restaurant and bar deals in the Big Apple. This is the only New York City guide book that tells you where you can find: free, yes, FREE food specials throughout the city, $2-$3 drinks any day of the week, the best happy hours where you can nosh to your stomach’s content and more deals than any other guide on the planet! From five-star restaurants to the best dive bars, I will be your savings guru. Whether you live here, hope to live here, or are visiting, if you want to know all about New York City’s restaurants and bars-at a discount-then 365 Guide is the book for you!

Book Review: I Heart New York

Whenever I’m done with a grueling day at work, a piece of light, fun chick-lit (or the likes of it) brings back the cheer in me. Lindsey Kelk’s humour is not at Sophie Kinsella’s, but rather, in a homelier manner her characters are likeable, relatable and slapstick funny. I couldn’t help liking Angela Clark. She is neither stupid nor ditzy. And the ballsy take-no-shit in her makes me want to follow the rest of her adventures to Paris and Las Vegas. FYI I’ve also ordered the rest of the I Heart series!
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Angela Clark finds respite in New York after finding her fiance in the backseat semi-naked with another woman, at her best friend’s wedding. Worst thing is…EVERYONE knows about it but her. She traipses off to a new continent with nothing but 2 pairs of underwear and suitcase full of mismatched clothes. There’s nothing an overhaul can’t do, right?

This was an easy book to read. At the heart of the novel, a girl just needs time off to discover what she really wants in life. I would have totally done the same thing, to leave everything behind and start afresh in a new place. She makes a new best friend from the hotel concierge desk – Jenny – who takes her on a whirlwind ride in the new city, and as she takes on a bright revamped outlook on life, she draws people with her new vibrant personality, and men flock to her side. What a laugh, when she has to keep a blog detailing all the juicy secrets of her life and both her dates find out about it.

Getting to know the cast in I Heart is much like meeting a new set of friends whose lives appear totally typical but whom are in fact as screwed up as the rest of us. Reading I Heart New York was like cruising down the Big Apple for the first time: walking down Saks at Fifth Avenue, ogling at Macy’s and Bloomingdales, fighting vertigo on the Empire State Building. New York’s magic comes alive amidst frenzied dates to band gigs, late nights in Manhattan and detours to Boston. I must say, I’m definitely awaiting the arrival of the rest of the installments in the series!

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release: September 7th 2010
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Popular Culture, Romance, Big Apple
My Rating: 6 / 10
Recommended for: Travelers, summer reads, light reads

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
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ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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TYLER (the perfectly dreamy handsome & rich businessman): Kevin Zegers
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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SYNOPSIS:

Angela Clark is in love—with the most fabulous city in the world!

When Angela catches her boyfriend with another woman at her best friend’s wedding, she’s heartbroken and desperate to run away. With little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins, and her passport in hand, Angela decides to jump on a plane for . . . NYC!

Settling into a cute hotel and quickly bonding with benevolent concierge Jenny—a chatterbox Oprah wannabe with room for a new best friend—Angela heads out for a New York makeover, some serious retail therapy, and a whirlwind tour of the city. Before she knows it, she’s dating two sexy guys and blogging about her Big Apple escapades for a real fashion magazine. But while it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another working them out for yourself. Angela has fallen head over heels for the city that never sleeps, but does she heart New York more than home?

(Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, get ready for the summer debut of the year…
When you’re running away from a broken heart, there’s only one place to go…
Adjusting tiaras at the foot of the aisle, Angela and her best friend prepare for the wedding of the year. But events don’t go as planned. And when a girl is in possession of a crumpled bridesmaid dress – and can’t go home – New York (for the very first time) seems like an excellent idea.
Angela’s new friend Jenny Lopez gives Angela a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps, and a makeover. Who hasn’t dreamed of starting afresh with a sassy New York wardrobe, a new haircut and a trip to the make-up counter?
Before she knows it, the new Angela is getting over her broken heart by having dinner with two different boys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her fabulous new blog. But it’s one thing telling readers all about your romantic dilemmas. It’s another trying to figure them out for yourself!
Warm, funny and unputdownable, I Heart New York is an unforgettable debut)