New York City during the Holidays

My new job (and parents relocating to New Jersey) had me going to New York quite a bit this past year. I make a point to stay in a new neighborhood each visit and get to know a new area a little better. This Christmas visit we stayed in festive Midtown, near all of the beautiful shops and Rockefeller Center. We loved walking around 5th Avenue and looking at all the holiday window displays.

Here’s some highlights:

Bar BouludWe had lunch here with my mom before the Nutcracker. It’s almost directly across the street from the Lincoln Center, and the perfect pre-ballet venue. Lovely ambiance, with the inside being like a wine cellar. Cozy booths with abstract (wine themed) art, giant bottles of Burgundy scattered around, and French jazz music playing in the background. I loved their salmon club, and especially enjoyed sharing petit fours and coffee before the performance.

The Nutcracker (New York City Ballet): I danced in the Nutcracker growing up, and have seen it just about every year. It’s my absolute favorite ballet, and the New York City Ballet version is without a doubt the most beautiful version I’ve ever seen. Tickets are a bit pricey, but worth every penny. We sat in the orchestra, but the there wasn’t a bad seat in the David Koch theatre (at the Lincoln Center). We went to a matinee, and my only complaint is the that there’s a lot of children, and several of the ones seated in our area were being disruptive and misbehaving. So keep that in mind when choosing a time!

The Peninsula Hotel: Hands down, my new favorite hotel in Midtown. Classically elegant in every way, their rooms are large with every convenience you can imagine. There’s buttons for the lighting options, television, radio, and telephone. A stand up giant shower next to a cozy soaking tub (with television), and Oscar de la Renta bath products! Plus, if you stay in a suite, a complimentary Mini Cooper and driver (for up to 3 hours a day).

Tips: visit the spa! We went twice. There’s complimentary espresso, water, tea, and apples at the pool. I am obsessed with their steam room, which they infuse with eucalyptus. There’s an indoor pool, group fitness classes, and a fantastic gym.

La Bonne Soupe: While living in Paris (as a Pescetarian), I ate lots and lots of Moules frites and Soupe à l’oignon. Sadly, it’s extremely difficult to find a good bowl in the states and I always crave it! After we checked into our hotel on the first day, I decided to search Yelp! and ended up finding this gem. While we didn’t try anything else on the menu, I’m quite certain everything on the menu is delicious. The salads looked huge, and they even sell their own authentic French dressing (which is not anything close to the orange “French dressing” you see at the grocery store).

Magnolia Bakery: We can here for coffee two days in a row because it was THAT good. Personally, I loved their mocha. Brian was a big fan of their cappuccino. Don’t leave without grabbing a medium (perfect sharing size) banana pudding.

Bloomingdales (59th Street and Lexington Avenue): First of all, this location is ICONIC! Even though there’s hundreds of Bloomingdales locations all over the country, this one is historic and I highly recommend visiting. We wandered around for a good hour, and I could have spent even longer. The window displays were more abstract than holiday, but stunning nonetheless. Though I didn’t end up buying anything (despite how much I loved the Burberry coat that was a whopping 40% off), their after Christmas sales were on point!

Nougatine at Jean-Georges: Nougatine is the more casual sister of Jean-Georges, with a lively bar scene in the evening. We went for lunch and though the three course tasting menu was incredible. I had the tuna tartare, sesame crusted salmon, and finished with a citrus pavlova. The meal was around $100, which is quite reasonable for fine dining in New York City.

Shake Shack: On the West Coast a lot of folks rave about In-N-Out, some even comparing it to Shake Shack. After trying Shack Shack for the first time, I have no idea how you could ever compare the two. Shake Shack is like the epitome of an amazing burger place. I am obsessed with their ‘Shroom Burger (yay for a yummy vegetarian option) and the cheese fries put the famous In-N-Out animal fries to shame. Don’t even get me started on those custard shakes! If they could open a San Francisco location ASAP, that would be GREAT.

Note: didn’t bring my real camera (because our suitcase was already 3 pounds overweight and we had both dogs, so iPhone pictures will have to suffice. 

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New York City in July

We had a blast playing tourist, heading to some fantastic restaurants, catching a broadway musical, and falling in love with NYC street fashion!

Here’s some highlights:

An American in Paris: At first, I was searching for tickets online. Thankfully though, my cousin (a former Broadway director) gave me a few tips. She recommended going to the box office on the day-of for discounted tickets (unless it’s a weekend/holiday, which can be tricky). We got front row of the Mezzanine for $89/per ticket (on a Wednesday) as opposed to the $300/per ticket price tag online. We brought my mom for her birthday, and she loved it. The show was beautiful, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Ladurée: I was obsessed with Ladurée macarons when I lived in Paris, and super excited to enjoy not only my beloved rose macarons, but the brunch menu as well. Brian made a reservation on OpenTable, and we were welcomed graciously. The outdoor garden (at the Soho location) is drop dead gorgeous, and our meal was perfection. I had avocado toast with a poached egg, Brian had their club sandwich, and my mom enjoyed an egg white omelet. We were a little short on time, so we didn’t have dessert (just some macarons to go). Looking forward to visiting again and trying their unique ice cream and cake!

Balthazar: They have a restaurant and a little boulangerie to grab pastries/coffee to go next door. We enjoyed breakfast in their beautiful dining room (which was converted from a leather wholesaler’s warehouse to an airy space reminiscent to a Parisian cafe). I enjoyed a Croissant aux Amandes and a giant mocha, while Brian had the Ham and Cheese Croissant with a bone dry cappuccino. Next time we will definitely check out their bar a huîtres.

La Pecora Bianca: This would probably be my go-to cafe if I lived in New York. They’re located in the St. James building at the corner of 26th and Broadway, in the heart of the NoMad district. Their branding is almost as incredible as their cappuccino (Brian ordered it, and offered to switch with me because he’s such a gentleman). They make their own private label rosé, which I will definitely try next time we visit. Cannot say enough good things about this place!

Rizzoli Bookstore: This place is like heaven for a book lover. Aside from the ambiance and beautiful architecture, they also have an entire section dedicated to fashion. In love with like 20 coffee table books, but my suitcase was already overweight, so I couldn’t buy them all, sadly.

Eataly (Flatiron): As soon as you enter through the doors you’re transported to Italy. Lots of hustle and bustle, with counters for coffee, cheese, sandwiches, meat, pastries,  and gelato. So many authentic products and gifts, my late Italian grandmother would have swooned. Definitely recommend stopping in, or even attending one of their culinary events!

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Sun rising toward the end of our redeye
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Commuter style
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Early morning watching the city wake up
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The Garden at Ladurée
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Hot chocolate
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My avocado toast with a poached egg
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Brian’s club sandwich
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Inside Ladurée
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My mocha in a bowl
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Le Bar a Huîtres

Croissant aux Amandes

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Croissant aux Amandes
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Ham and Cheese Croissant
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exploring Central Park
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These views!
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Rizzoli Bookstore
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A section dedicated to fashion?!
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Latte at La Pecora Bianca
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Inside La Pecora Bianca
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Mint gelato at Eataly