Halloween at the McKittrick Hotel, Chelsea

Halloween Witch CostumeFor us, Halloween has always been all about house parties. Back in the Bay Area, we were always invited to at least one big party. In NYC, it’s a little different since most people don’t have quite as much space for a big gathering. This year, we bought tickets to Inferno, the Halloween event at the McKittrick Hotel, home of Sleep No More. We went to Sleep No More 2 years ago, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. A creepy hotel seems like the perfect setting to drink and dance the night away on Halloween!

John’s skeleton body suit was about $30 on Amazon, and he made sure to buy one that did not have a large logo printed across the butt. Hah! My costume comprised mostly of existing items from my closet. I think we did a pretty good job on John’s makeup, even though it was rushed! And of course, we took lots of skeleton and witch selfies…Halloween Skeleton & Witch CostumeTickets to Inferno were not cheap ($100+), but it included open bar and live performances all night long. We never had to wait long at any of the bars, and I had plenty of prosecco that night. No seats unless you have a VIP ticket, but my tired feet still made it to 2am! Halloween McKittrick Hotel Inferno

Daruma-ya, Tribeca

Daruma-ya, TribecaAbout a month ago, Angela and I visited Daruma-ya in Tribeca for our monthly dinner date. It’s a bit of a walk from the subway, which was fine in the early fall, but I wouldn’t want to do that walk now that winter is kicking in. We made a 7:45pm reservation, but it didn’t seem to be necessary. It did, however, score us a good spot in the back room. Daruma-ya is surprisingly upscale and romantic, especially for a soba restaurant.

Whenever we have soba or ramen, we always order Agedashi tofu ($10). Daruma-ya serves their deep fried tofu with Nameko mushroom. You can’t see the mushrooms in this photo, but they were the most adorable little things! The tofu was nicely done. Agedashi Tofu, Daruma-yaThe Nasu Ageni ($7) was quite a treat. In the dim lighting, you might almost mistake the Japanese eggplant for fish of some kind. Tasty — I couldn’t stop nibbling on this.Japanese Eggplant, Daruma-yaThe Yasai Tempura ($10) had a light, crispy batter on the fresh veggies. This is the way tempura should be done, but not every restaurant manages to keep the batter so airy. Daruma-ya, TribecaI usually order hot soba, but since the cold soba is handmade, I had to try it. I ordered the Nameko Oroshi cold soba. More of those adorable little Nameko mushrooms! It’s fun to dip your soba in the sauce, and I always love the kick from the wasabi. When we were done with the noodles, our waitress brought out hot broth to add to the dipping sauce, so we could enjoy it as a broth. A warm and comforting finale to the meal. Nameko Oroshi Soba, Daruma-yaI remember reading very mixed reviews on Yelp when Daruma-ya first opened earlier this year, but it seems like they’ve worked out all the kinks. Our experience was great, and I’d love to come back sometime and introduce John to the deliciousness that is soba!

Tempeh Avocado Sandwich

Tempeh Avocado Sandwich and PickleYou know what’s heavenly? Avocado slices on sandwiches. It’s a yummy vegan substitute for cheese and adds a pop of color. Remember how I mentioned that I was making a lot of smoothies, soups, and salads during the week? Well, that gets boring after a while, and that’s where sandwiches come into play. Lately, my favorite easy, weekday lunch is this avocado tempeh sandwich.

John is not a fan of tempeh, so I get to keep that stuff all to myself. Sauteed tempeh, fresh avocado, Dijon mustard, and a handful of lettuce on whole wheat bread. Oh, and a homemade pickle on the side, of course! I think the trick to enjoying tempeh is making sure it’s sliced as thinly as possible or else the flavor could be a bit overwhelming for tempeh newbies. Some tofu fans aren’t too crazy about tempeh, but it offers much more protein and a very unique texture. Got any good tempeh tips to share?

Brasserie de Paris, Hoboken

Brasserie de Paris, HobokenOn Saturday, John and I visited Brasserie de Paris in Hoboken for dinner. We’ve been especially busy lately (and I’ve even cut back on blog posts as a result!), so this date night was just the treat we needed. I’m normally the one who plans our weekend activities, but I decided to put John in charge this time around. Everyone loves a good surprise!

The photo above, as well as the one below, are from the restaurant’s website. I didn’t get a chance to grab a couple photos of the space. Plus, the iPhone probably wouldn’t do too well in the dim lighting. Pretty romantic date night spot, huh? Brasserie de Paris, HobokenAs soon as we arrived, we received a warm, friendly greeting from the maitre d’. Every member of the staff that we encountered was incredibly attentive, and it might just be me, but I think they could tone it down a bit. I appreciate excellent service and that they take pride in the food they’re serving, but it can be a bit much when they keep interrupting to make sure you’re enjoying your meal.

At first, a 5:30pm reservation seemed too early for dinner, but now that we’ve turned our clocks back an hour, 5:30pm feels more like 8:00pm… or maybe I’m just getting old. John also intended to take advantage of the happy hour off drink specials, but it turns out that happy hour specials are only available at the bar and not at a table! Oops.

Most of the menu was off limits for us a.k.a. not vegetarian, but there were tasty options for us. Please excuse the crazy yellow lighting that the iPhone didn’t fare so well with! French Onion Soup, Brasserie de Paris, HobokenJohn ordered the French onion soup ($7). The soup was good, not too salty like many French onion soups I’ve tasted. Topped with melted Swiss cheese. The cheese is always the best part, but I can only handle it in small spoonfuls. So rich!

I also decided to order a soup, which turned out to be the highlight of this meal. This creamy cauliflower soup ($9) was one of the specials. The waiter noted that there was no cream in it, just the natural creamy texture of the cauliflower, plus a hint of lemon. Simply amazing, especially with the drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I’m definitely going to try recreating this dish at home with our new Vitamix blender! Creamy Cauliflower Soup, Brasserie de Paris, HobokenBoth soups were very filling, and John ended up just having a side of mashed potatoes for the rest of his meal. I decided to indulge in the mushroom ravioli ($19). I eat light healthy meals during the week, so I can fully indulge in this stuff on the weekends! The raviolis were filled with mushrooms and topped with even more mushrooms! The tomato confit was a refreshing burst of flavor — a nice contrast to the rich, earthy flavors. Mushroom Ravioli, Brasserie de Paris, HobokenThe creaminess of the cauliflower soup and the ravioli were perfect with the sparkling Blanc de Blancs that we were sipping. I later switched to a glass of Pinot Noir, which is always a match made in heaven with mushrooms. My food and wine knowledge from working in the wine industry always comes in handy!

Veggie Burgers with Caramelized Onions

Veggie Burgers with Caramelized OnionsLately, I’ve been making an extra effort to make healthy meals at home. Eating healthy is pretty easy when you’re vegetarian, but there’s plenty of junk food that is vegetarian. I also stopped buying eggs about 6 weeks ago. I don’t think I’ll ever go fully vegan, but it’s nice to adopt a mostly vegan diet during the week. Lots of fruit smoothies, fresh salads, and blended veggie soups on the menu lately. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a whole wheat pasta dish since I sure do love my carbs. The weekends, though, is when I fully indulge!

Last weekend, we grilled some veggie burger patties, melted a slice of vegan cheese, then topped them with a heap of caramelized onions. It was heavenly, especially those onions! We’ve also gotten into the habit of making our own pickles after realizing how easy it is. This recent batch of dill pickles was excellent. Very crunchy and refreshing.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Witch Costume Happy Halloween! Earlier this week, I was feeling a little under the weather. Vitamin C, soups, and teas were helping, but it was 15 hours of sleep that finally did the trick. Feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, just in time for Halloween festivities. Don’t wanna miss out on the fun, especially with Halloween falling on a Friday this year!

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m going to be a witch! For me, there’s no fun in buying a packaged costume from the Halloween store. I like to throw together costumes with pieces that I already own or that I’m planning to buy. I intentionally steered away from the classic witch outfit, which is kind of boring, and went for something American Horror Story: Coven inspired. This costume was basically an excuse to finally buy this slip from Free People. Everything else was already in my closet. All I needed was a $3 pointy hat as the finishing touch. What do you think of my witchy outfit?

Sacred Chow, Greenwich Village

Washington Square Park, NYCEarly fall is my favorite time of the year. It’s cool enough to go on a long walk without bundling up too much, and there’s still plenty of sunshine. Brunch plus a long walk makes the perfect Saturday. There were so many people hanging out in Washington Square Park, including lots of happy doggies enjoying the fresh air at the dog run!

Sacred Chow is one of our favorite restaurants. Vegan, organic, delicious, and well priced. We’ve been here for dinner a couple times, but have never tried their brunch. As you can see, we had quite the vegan feast on our recent visit!Sacred Chow, Greenwich VillageIt’s kinda funny that we both ordered the soy buttermilk biscuit po’ boy ($12). Does that make us an old married couple? Delicate biscuit halves, a fluff of tofu scramble, pan-fired collard greens, a gush of peppery white gravy, dijon salad on the side. The salad was incredibly refreshing, especially with the tangy dijon dressing.
Dijon Salad, Sacred ChowThe biscuits and tofu scramble were really good, but that vegan gravy totally steals the show. Nice and peppery, so creamy despite being vegan. Very satisfying dish.
Soy Buttermilk Biscuit Po'Boy, Sacred ChowWe shared a side of the grilled vegan sausage, which isn’t listed on their online menu. Very tasty and chewy. They’ve really mastered the texture and flavor. Good stuff!
Vegan Sausage, Sacred Chow