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Summer Snapshots

How is it the last week of August?!

Hard to believe summer is already coming to an end. As always, it feels way too soon.

But what a summer it’s been! While I wouldn’t say it was relaxing and stress-free, it was definitely eventful and, overall, pretty amazing. Despite some major bumps.

Here’s a look:

I spent every possible minute outdoors, from a double header weekend Mets game in early June (they won both games!)…

CitiField | nycexpeditionist.com

CitiField | nycexpeditionist.com

…to many weekends at Mal and Peter’s.

Ping | nycexpeditionist.com

We were helping them pack up to move to a new apartment. I didn’t mind lending a hand to do that, because it meant grilling…

Grilling | nycexpeditionist.com

Grilling | nycexpeditionist.com

…and relaxing on their deck afterwards.

Hudson River | nycexpeditionist.com

And then, the beach!

Rockaway Beach | nycexpeditionist.com

Despite the two-hour ride each way to the Rockaways, I managed to go and meet up with friends every single weekend, for more than a month.

Rockaway Beach | nycexpeditionist.com

Sure, Rockaway isn’t the prettiest or cleanest of NYC-area beaches. But the people-watching is incredible, as is just escaping the city! And seriously, nothing beats Tacoway Beach and Rippers after hours of laying out.

Rockaway Taco | nycexpeditionist.com

I’m so glad I got in tons of beach time. Because a few weeks ago, this happened.

Foot in boot | nycexpeditionist.com

It started in July, during a routine ballet class. I was wearing a pair of pointe shoes that was almost dead, but I could barely get my right foot up and over the shoe. It felt like I was wearing an ill-fitting new shoe with an extra-hard shank, and not a very well broken-in pair from my favorite maker! I kept the shoes on for barre and noticed that I was having a hard time supporting myself on my right foot. I thought all that was weird, but chalked it up to dead shoes and a bad ballet day. (The lies we tell ourselves!!)

The next few classes were the same. I realized, that in addition to not being able to support myself en pointe on my right foot, I was also having trouble just pointing it. Plus, my whole ankle just felt off—weak and unable to move the way it usually did.

I stopped wearing pointe shoes and went down to two classes a week, hoping that more time off would help whatever was going on with my ankle. I increasingly believed I had Achilles tendinitis. But the weird thing was that when I wasn’t dancing, my foot and ankle felt 100% normal.

Finally, in early August, I was in yet another class, struggling to point my right foot and feeling like I could barely land my jumps. (I actually continued doing all the jump combinations in every class. Probably not the smartest move.) When I got home, I noticed that my foot and ankle were swollen.

That led me to go to urgent care the following day, and then to a podiatrist they referred me to, the next day. His diagnosis was not at all what I expected. It turns out that I have an extra bone in my ankle that I either broke or impinged from all the pointe work. That’s led the tendons around it to become inflamed from the constant rubbing against it.

The official name for this is os trigonum syndrome. Apparently, it’s fairly common among ballet dancers. By some miracle, the podiatrist I was referred to has worked with a lot of dancers and has been a primary podiatrist to several dance companies in the city. He knew almost immediately what the problem was.

So I’m in boot for several weeks!

Luckily, it didn’t get in the way of one of my biggest and most elaborate plans: An all-out party for Mal and Peter, who are expecting their first child next month! (I’m going to be an aunt!!!!!)

I decided that I wanted to throw a celebration that all their/our loved ones could attend—not just women. We booked the clubhouse at their new apartment complex and I spent several weeks planning and prepping. Thank god for my parents, who wholeheartedly went along for the ride and never once questioned if I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

I never thought of myself as craftsy, but this was the most DIY thing I’ve ever done.

My mom and I made all the props and background for a photo booth. (If you’re every interested in setting up your own, I highly recommend this tutorial and purchasing this lighting kit.)

We cooked and prepped almost all the food for the baby buffet—an array of bite-sized finger food for 40 people, spanning three tables.

On the menu: mini empanadas, mini mac and cheese cups, chicken sandwich sliders, spinach balls, guac and mango salsa chip cups, meatballs, deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, shrimp cocktail, cucumber salad, caprese salad, mini cupcakes (two types: chocolate and lemon), mini chocolate dipped macaroons, chocolate dipped strawberries. Whew! (Thank you to my mom, E, Marianna, Olga, Mal and Peter for their help and contributions!)

macaroons | nycexpeditionist.com

My one regret was not getting a photo of the full baby buffet table. That’s what happens when you’re having too much fun while mingling and trying to be a good host. (And, um, quaffing lots of white wine.)

Luckily, we got tons of great photo booth shots!

Photo booth | nyexpeditionist.com

Photo booth | nyexpeditionist.com

And I was thrilled that so many loved ones showed up to celebrate my two favorite people.

HMP | nycexpeditionist.com

Somewhere during the summer, I also found out that my landlord was selling my beloved apartment and that I needed to move. After months of searching for something affordable, I finally found the perfect place…the apartment right upstairs from me. I will hopefully be moving into a carbon copy of my existing apartment in early October.

Another miracle. Somehow, things are working out.

And I have one more exciting summer plan.

Tomorrow, I’m flying to London (boot and all) to spend a few days with Shirin. And then, we’re off to Morocco!

So much craziness, but so much good stuff. Hope your summer was every bit as wild and wonderful, as well!

Eddie Huang on NYC’s Food Culture

eddie_huang

I’ve been reading a ton this summer, and recently finished Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat.

In the book, Huang retraces his rough upbringing in Florida—constantly dealing with blatant, violent racism—to a life-changing few months in Taiwan, to law school and beyond in NYC, where he launched a street clothing line and opened Baohaus, his successful restaurant.

Huang’s voice is distinct—slang-inflected and and at times rambling. His ’90s hip-hop references and matter-of-fact observations had me laughing out loud. And I appreciated how he didn’t sugarcoat just how tough it can be as an Asian-American. I could certainly relate to dealing with ignorant people while growing up, and even now.

But by far, my favorite part of the book was the end, when things started looking up for Huang. He discovered the amazing breadth of the NYC food scene and eventually found his own place in it:

I liked how we all took ownership in the city, its culture, and its food. We still argue all the time about soup dumplings. Tourists and cornballs love Joe’s Shanghai, but everyone knows it’s Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao holding down in Flushing…we’ll go on and on about how great the lox and whitefish are at Russ & Daughters, but how undeserving their bagels are. The biggest travesty in downtown New York is that you have to buy your lox at R&D then take the train up to Ess-a-Bagel to put together a proper lox, caper, red onion, cream cheese, on sesame or salt bagel. We wish 2nd Ave Deli was still on Second Avenue, we worry about the old man’s health at Di Fara Pizza, and we still don’t understand how people can go to Szechuan Gourmet and order from the American Chinese menu while we get busy with the chili leek intestine casserole and a Diet Coke.

But despite the misfires, overhyped openings, and super-restaurants that mar the landscape, New York is the best eating city not named Tokyo or Taipei, and we owe it to the people Fresh Off the Boat. From the old chick selling churros on the Sunset Park D train to the stray cat crawling over the counter at Fort Greene’s Farmer in the Deli to Peter Luger’s in Williamsburg to Great N.Y. Noodletown on Bowery to Shopsin’s on Essex to Baohaus on Fourteenth to La Taza de Oro on Ninth Avenue to Sapporo on forty-ninth to the golden elevator at Kuruma Zushi to Lechonera in Harlem to SriPraPhai in Woodside to Mario’s on Arthur Avenue, it’s an army of first- and second-generation immigrants that feed this city.

I couldn’t help but smile when I read those two paragraphs—because it’s all 100% true!

I’ve had awesome meals at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, Szechuan Gourmet, Great N.Y. Noodletown and SriPraPhi. I’ve eaten more Ess-a-Bagels than I could ever count. (In fact, that was my “poverty diet” lunch for years, when I worked across the street from the shop. I was making so little money that all I could afford was a bagel with nothing on it, because it only cost $1 and filled me up for hours.)

And we really do worry about the old dude’s health at Di Fara! Because if he goes, who will make the pizza?!

Plus, whenever I ask myself if I could ever leave NYC, the same few things remind me that I couldn’t: My family. Ballet. And the food, for exactly the reason Huang states: all the immigrants from around the world, cooking their specialties and serving them up to hungry, curious and appreciative New Yorkers.

Not something you find in every city!

(Image via Friends We Love)

A Birthday Weekend in the Hudson Valley

A few weekends ago, Evan and I escaped NYC to celebrate his birthday.

He asked that I plan the whole trip and make it a surprise—which made it both easier and harder for me!

I decided that since we weren’t taking time off from work, I wanted to keep travel time to under two hours. And I know that Evan loves being in the country, so I focused on places with a farm-like vibe.

I spent weeks down the trip research rabbit hole as I decided for, then against numerous places: a farm b&b that my parents recommendedbut seemed too much like other trips Evan and I had taken. A North Fork b&b on a vineyard—that ended up being booked the weekend we wanted to go away. A Woodstock b&b that I reserved, then cancelled when we changed our trip weekend. A number of awesomelooking places that I loved, but seemed more my style than his.

After weeks of searching, I finally stumbled upon an Airbnb listing that immediately said: “Evan!!!”

It was for a small, Ulster County cottage on what was once a farm. It looked bright and airy with plank wood floors and doors. And it was less than two hours from the city.

I booked it right away.

Evan and I drove up on a Friday after work. The cottage’s owner, Reinhold, met us upon our arrival.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYC Expeditionist

It turns out that he and his wife Lisette, an architect, fashioned the cottage out of a chicken coop.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The couple splits their time between there and NYC.

I could certainly see why—we loved being there.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The setting was so quiet and peaceful.

We loved the two barns that sit on the property.

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Evan made friends with Batman, Lisette and Reinhold’s cat.

It turns out that he also splits his time between the city and country!

Batman, Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

Farmstead Cottage, Stone Ridge | NYCExpeditionist.com

The location couldn’t have been better. The cottage is in Stone Ridge, a small town that’s near other cute, small towns, like Kingston, New Paltz, Accord, High Falls and Rosendale.

In each town, we met other NYC expats, or people who share their time between there and the city.

I have to say: I now want to be one of them!

Some highlights:

Evan and I had dinner at Boitson’s on Friday night. A Williamsburg expat runs the hopping restaurant/bar, and it’s one of the few places that served dinner after 10. We were happy with this as our first meal of the trip—we especially liked the cocktails, deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese.

The next morning, we drove to the Village Tea Room, in New Paltz. Like many restaurants in the area, they source most ingredients locally.

Village Tea Room, New Paltz | NYCExpeditionist.com

We enjoyed their corn pudding and the madeleines we took on the road.

On the way back, we passed through Stone Ridge, and a big barn with a yard full of antiques caught our eye. We stopped to browse. It turned out to be Field and Barn, an antiques expo, that had even more gorgeous, rustic finds inside.

Field and Barn, High Falls | NYCExpeditionist.com

We also went into Fred, a boutique with beautiful new and vintage furnishings. While Evan and I didn’t realize it, we were shopping alongside Daniel Craig and Rachael Weisz, who made a purchase.

In an effort to train for our upcoming road race, Evan and I attempted to run in Minnewaska State Park. Let’s just say, it did not go well. Ice and snow covered so much of the trails that we really couldn’t run.

The lake was pretty, though!

Minnewaska State Park | NYCExpeditionist.com

Minnewaska State Park | NYCExpeditionist.com

Afterwards, we had awesome lunch of bratwurst, sauerbraten and beer at Gunk Haus

…and later on, a fabulous dinner at A Tavola, an Italian restaurant in New Paltz. That was our favorite meal of the trip. Our upstairs table was quiet and romantic and we loved everything we ordered: pappardelle bolognese, and an outstanding fish special in a tomato lobster sauce. (At one point, Evan turned to me and said it was the best fish he’d ever eaten. I wholeheartedly agreed!)

The next day, we went to the spa at Mohonk Mountain House. We’d both had so much going on, lately, that I thought we could use some pampering.

The hotel, itself, is insane—we drove nearly two miles down its “driveway” before reaching it. The building is ultra-dramatic—it doesn’t seem like such an old world, castle-looking place would exist there.

The spa, however, was perfectly low-key and tranquil. Evan and I got a much-needed couples massage—that was among the best I’ve had—and relaxed in the whirlpool before heading back to the city.

NYC and Asia Mini Notebooks

I’ll admit that I rarely use notebooks or pens anymore, but these smartly designed mini notebooks charmed me.

MINI CITY NOTEBOOKS SET - NY & ASIA

I love the city street grid and Chrysler building on the NYC notebooks…

MINI CITY NOTEBOOKS SET - NY & ASIA

…and the lucky cats on the Tokyo ones!

MINI CITY NOTEBOOKS SET - NY & ASIA

There are also Seoul and Osaka notebooks; check them out here.

(Images via Poketo)

NYC Summer, from Above

While we’re on the topic of feel-good summer photos, here are a few others I came across, recently: George Steinmetz’s aerial photos of NYC.

He perfectly captures the lighting that is summer in the city—it’s that brilliant, golden haze that envelops the boroughs, then disappears all too quickly.

A few of my favorite shots:

Domino Sugar Factory, Brooklyn | George Steinmetz

Chelsea Piers | George Steinmetz

Central Park Tennis Center | George Steinmetz

Prospect Lefferts Gardens | George Steinmetz

 

Other amazing aerials, from previous posts: beaches and airports.

(Images by George Steinmetz; found via NPR)

Dinner in NY: Intimate Portraits of New Yorkers Eating

When you’re eating dinner, what’s your usual set-up? Do you eat alone or with your partner? Are there kids in the picture? Do you sit at a kitchen table or a couch? Do you watch TV or check your phone or surf the web while you eat?

Your dinner habits, in a way, reflect who you are. Photographer Miho Aikawa explores that in her Dinner in NY project. According to Aikawa:

Having dinner isn’t just about eating food, or even about nutrition. It reveals so many aspects of our lives, much more than lunch or even breakfast would. And because dinnertime is usually private, it uniquely reveals a part of a person’s lifestyle.

Aikawa’s intimate photos also demonstrate how much technology has changed the ways people people enjoy supper. Many diners are eating in front of a TV or laptop.

A few of my favorite shots:

Garro Heedae, a musician, has dinner late at night after intensive drum rehearsal sessions. Age: 28. Time: 1:20 a.m. Location: Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.

Garro Heedae, a musician, has dinner late at night after intensive drum rehearsal sessions. Age: 28. Time: 1:20 a.m. Location: Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.

Zheng Yun lives with her daughter and son, but usually eats dinner alone while watching TV. Age: 52. Time: 8:54 p.m.  Location: Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.

Zheng Yun lives with her daughter and son, but usually eats dinner alone while watching TV. Age: 52. Time: 8:54 p.m. Location: Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.

Jessie Zinke, a designer, has leftover for dinner on her bed while watching her favorite TV show. Age: 27. Time: 6:54 p.m. Location: Chelsea, New York.

Jessie Zinke, a designer, has leftover for dinner on her bed while watching her favorite TV show. Age: 27. Time: 6:54 p.m. Location: Chelsea, New York.

U Pa Mok Kha is a monk from Myanmar who cannot eat after noon. Local people bring him food and after he is done, he shares the rest of the food with them. Age: 55. Time: 11:17 a.m. Location: Jackson Heights, Queens.

U Pa Mok Kha is a monk from Myanmar who cannot eat after noon. Local people bring him food and after he is done, he shares the rest of the food with them. Age: 55. Time: 11:17 a.m. Location: Jackson Heights, Queens.

Chelsea Olson, a model, concentrates on her food while reviewing her busy day. Age: 20. Time: 8:13 p.m. Location: Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

Chelsea Olson, a model, concentrates on her food while reviewing her busy day. Age: 20. Time: 8:13 p.m. Location: Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

See even more photos—and stories—on Aikawa’s site.

I’m such a creature of habit, that I know exactly how my dinner photo would look: Each night, around 10-10:30, after ballet, I sit on my living room floor, on a big cushion, and eat at my coffee table. My meal usually involves veggies and eggs (poached eggs in a spinach soup, huevos rancheros, scrambled eggs with a side of sauteed greens). The room is dark, with one dim lamp on, and I’m watching Top Chef or So You Think You Can Dance? on DVR. My hair is pulled back in a bun, and I’m wearing a tank top and shorts.

How would your dinner photo look?

(Images by Miho Aikawa; found via Fast Co. Design)