Almond, Flatiron

Almond, Flatiron

Well, this is kind of crazy… it has been almost seven years (!!!) since I graduated from architecture school at CMU! That was five expensive years slaving away in studio, downing caffeine, and pulling all-nighter after all-nighter… I’m so glad to be way past that.

The last weekend of February was one of the best. Some of my favorite people from architecture school got together for a reunion. In our group, we had NYC, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Chicago covered. It’s rough to be out and about exploring in the wintertime, but at least the snow didn’t start until the next day. How do you kick off an archie reunion in style? With brunch, of course!

Almond, Flatiron

We visited Almond in Flatiron for a tasty brunch. Our group was a bit rowdy, people showed up late, and I’m sure a table of twelve is not easy to work with, but our waitress was a rockstar. Our water glasses and coffee mugs were refilled promptly, and the food was served hot. They have the cutest mini biscuits here. I, unfortunately, didn’t get a photo of the biscuits before they were gobbled up.

When I asked about the tamales, our waitress mentioned that someone’s grandmother makes them each morning. Unfortunately, the tamales are filled with chicken, so they’re not for me. I got the eggs florentine ($15) and a rosemary pear mimosa ($12) before realizing that I was the only one with a cocktail!

Eggs Florentine, Almond

Those English muffins were really buttery and delicious. The sauteed greens were good, eggs were nicely poached, and the hollandaise was tangy and smooth. A legit eggs florentine! I’m so glad I didn’t order a side of home fries since my entree already had some.

One of the funniest moments was when Zach mistakenly took several other entrees from the server before remembering that he had actually ordered the chicken confit salad. The server was a good sport and chuckled along with us.

Almond, Flatiron

Will I go back to Almond? Probably. The food was good and the service was excellent. Great atmosphere too. There’s a vintage bistro vibe that’s comfortable, but slightly upscale. I’m sure outdoor seating is really popular during the nicer months.

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Back from Cancun, Mexico

Excellence Riviera Cancun, Mexico

I just got back from Cancun a few days ago! John and I visited Cancun back in 2010 for our honeymoon and wanted to go back as our five year anniversary is coming up in July. Thanks to the awful winter and last minute hotel discounts, our Cancun trip was moved up to mid-March! We usually only travel for specific events, like a wedding, graduation, or reunion, so this lazy vacation was a wonderful treat. We stayed in a junior swim up suite at Excellence Riviera Cancun. Oh, and it’s all inclusive! Lots of eating and drinking to our hearts’ content.

Halfway through the trip, my iPhone met its end when it slipped out of our hands and landed on concrete. We were able to continue taking photos as we had John’s phone and an ancient point and shoot, but I was so nervous that 200+ vacation photos were gone forever. Thankfully, I was able to recover all the photos once we got home. Phew! I’m waiting for our water camera photos (snorkeling!), and once I have those, I hope to share our Cancun adventures soon.

Grace Street, Koreatown

Grace Street, Midtown West, Koreatown

After our feet were tired from an evening the MoMA, Hannah and I went searching for a snack. After a failed attempt at getting a table at a wine bar, we found ourselves at Grace Street, a cute coffee and dessert shop in Koreatown. Annie, if you ever visit NYC, I’m bringing you here! I didn’t get any photos of the space, but it reminds me of the coffee shops and cafes you visit.

Hannah got a latte with honey pearls, while I sipped on a cold Thai iced tea. Grace Street has a good selection of beverages and sweets, but they don’t have many savory bites here. They’re known for their hodduk (Korean donuts) and the waffles were also tempting, but I wasn’t that hungry. I figured the salted caramel tart ($5.99) would be a nice balance of sweet and salty. The actual salty caramel flavor and tart were nice, but I felt like I was hit by a ton of sugar. I don’t know why they give you a bowl of dipping caramel — the tart certainly doesn’t need it!

Grace Street Grace Street on Urbanspoon

Friday Nights at the MoMA NYC

On Friday evenings from 4pm to 8pm, tickets to the MoMA are free! It’s easy enough to score a free ticket as the museum staff have the tickets all lined up for grabs on the counters in lobby. However, the line to check in your coat and backpack is as long as the lines for most Disneyland rides! They do a pretty good job at keeping things moving along though.

Hannah and I started at the top floor and slowly wandered down through all the galleries. I have a habit of always starting at the top and will have to go back to spend more time in the galleries on the lower levels. I usually go through those quickly because my feet are tired!

Hide-Chan Ramen, Midtown East

Hide-Chan Ramen, Midtown East

While Hannah was in town, we stopped by Hide-Chan Ramen in Midtown East for a late lunch before taking advantage of free Friday nights at the MoMA. I really wanted to take Hannah to Totto Ramen as she doesn’t eat pork and they specialize in chicken broth. Too bad they had just closed when we showed up, but Hide-Chan was right next door!

Hide-Chan Ramen, Midtown East

This was my fourth visit to Hide-Chan Ramen. On my first and second visit, I was still eating meat on occasion and enjoyed Hide-Chan’s silky tonkotsu broths. For the pork-based broths, you can specify light, medium, or rich broth. On my third visit, I tried their vegetable ramen, which was pretty good at that time.

Hannah and I both ordered the Vegetable Ramen ($11). This is a konbu seaweed and shiitake mushroom broth, which is light, but tasty. The ramen is topped with seasonal veggies, avocado, yuzu paste, sesame oil, salted kelp, and a lime wedge. When our bowls of vegetable ramen arrived, Hannah exclaimed “It’s a salad!”

Vegetable Ramen, Hide-Chan Ramen

The noodles and the broth were the best part. I got the wavy noodles, which had a good bouncy texture. Love how the lime brightens and enhances the flavor of the broth. Most of the toppings could use more seasoning, which is unfortunate because the toppings often make it or break it. It was disappointing to discover that the end of the sliced bell peppers that were not sitting in the broth were icy cold!

Every ramen-ya in the city now serves at least one veggie option, and they’ve pretty much all stepped up their game in the past year. I realize that we showed up at an odd time of day and that Hide-Chan’s specialty is porky tonkotsu broths, but on this visit, Hide-Chan’s vegetarian option just wasn’t up to par. That’s too bad.

On a side note, what’s with all the masks on the wall?! It’s fun, but so random too.

Hide-Chan Ramen, Midtown East

Hide-Chan Ramen Hide-Chan Ramen on Urbanspoon

Tabelog Event at Tuome, East Village

Tabelog Event at Tuome, East Village

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to another meet and greet hosted by the lovely folks at Tabelog. This time around, the event was at Asian fusion restaurant in East Village called Tuome. Run by Chef Thomas Chen, Tuome opened not too long ago and has been getting a lot of great press lately.

Compared to the last event at Skal, this one was much more intimate. I had a wonderful time meeting other foodies and reconnecting with others that I had met at the last event. It’s fun when you recognize someone from their Instagram or Tabelog account! Everyone was friendly and cheerful despite the cold, and since it’s a foodie event, you know that everyone already has a love for food in common!

The delicious cocktails were one of the highlights of the event. Fire in the Sky, a combination of sake, Thai chili, and yuzu warmed me up from the cold. However, the East Village Blossom was my favorite. A yummy mixture of brut rose, hibiscus, and blood orange, with some lavender salt on the rim.

East Village Blossom, Tuome, East Village

Originally from Queens, Chef Thomas Chen combines his Cantonese roots with new American flavors to create irresistible fusion dishes. He was humble and passionate about his creations. Not sure if he was expecting so many people to take his photo.

Chef Thomas Chen, Tuome, East Village

For this event, Tuome whipped up seven different types of hors d’oeuvres, most of which are on the dinner menu. Starting from the farthest corner: deep fried deviled eggs, crispy berkshire pork, ice cream filled beignet, beet with quinoa and yogurt, blue crab mac & cheese, chicken liver mousse, oxtail egg rolls.

Tabelog Event at Tuome, East Village

As the token vegetarian at the event, I could only eat a couple dishes and dessert, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bite! The beets with quinoa, five spice yogurt, and pumpkin seed was very refreshing with a nice crunch. However, the deviled eggs seriously stole the show. Deep fried panko deviled eggs topped with garlic chili sauce. Magic in your mouth. Next time I visit Tuome, I’ll have an entire plate of these to myself, please!

Deep Fried Deviled Eggs, Tuome, East Village

Many thanks to the Tabelog team for another fun foodie night out. The Tabelog crew always treats us food bloggers so well, and they’re all such lovely people too. I believe that food brings people together (it’s the concept behind my blog’s name), and this event at Tuome was a wonderful example of that!

P.S. Can you spot me in this photo? I’m the one looking in the wrong direction when everyone is looking at the camera, hah.

Tabelog Event at Tuome, East Village

* Bar photo and group photo courtesy of Tabelog.

tuome Tuome on Urbanspoon

Spicy Tomato Soup with Kale & Sausage

Spicy Tomato Soup with Kale & Sausage

Notice anything different? That’s right, Let’s Nom Nom just had a little makeover! One of the major improvements is the categories section, where I narrowed it down from 40 (!!!) to 16 categories. The About page was tricky to write, but I think I pulled it off. I’m still working on the content pages and fussing with a few things, but wanted to go ahead and launch.

To celebrate the blog refresh, here is an easy soup recipe that will keep you warm in the evenings until spring finally arrives! This recipe can be made vegan depending on the type of meatless sausage you use or you can skip the meatless sausage entirely. I’m not sure if Trader Joe’s meatless Italian sausage is vegan or just vegetarian as I already tossed out the packaging. Oops! Non-veggie eaters can use meat sausages, but may have to increase the saute time.

Spicy Tomato Soup with Kale & Sausage
Serves 3 / Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 meatless sausages, chopped
6 oz kale, torn into smaller pieces
2.5 cups vegetable broth (or soy milk for a richer soup)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
A few splashes liquid smoke
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp arrowroot powder dissolved in 1 tbsp water

Directions
Pour the tomatoes and juices into a large bowl. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and meatless sausage for a couple minutes. Add the tomatoes and water, then bring to a boil. Add the kale, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the kale is tender.

Stir in the nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and liquid smoke. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, then stir in the arrowroot powder to thicken the soup.

Notes
I prefer a chunky tomato soup, which is why I start with a can of whole tomatoes, instead of a store bought can of crushed tomatoes. For a richer soup, use soy milk instead of vegetable broth. If you don’t have broth, water is fine too, but you may want to increase the seasonings. Feel free to top this soup with shredded cheese or Daiya vegan cheese!

Restaurant Week at Boulud Sud, Upper West Side

Boulud Sud, Upper West Side

It’s Restaurant Week in NYC, which means it’s time for more foodie adventures! Since I work from home and have a very flexible schedule, I’ve started going out for solo lunches about once a week. RW was the perfect opportunity to return to Boulud Sud. They normally offer a $29 three course lunch on weekdays, so even if you missed RW, you can still score a good deal on a quality lunch here.

Boulud Sud, Upper West Side

The bread at Boulud Sud is really good. I only had one slice of each to avoid filling up on carbs before the real food arrived. For my appetizer, I was tempted to get the Potato & Sunchoke Soup, especially as I had fallen in love with a squash soup on my last visit, but decided to try a salad this time around.

The other vegetarian appetizer on the RW menu was the Harissa Spiced Beet Tartare. I double checked with the waiter that this was vegetarian just in case “beet” was actually a typo and supposed to be “beef”. Didn’t think a restaurant like Boulud Sud would present diners with a menu with a typo, but you never know…

Harissa Spiced Beet Tartare, Boulud Sud

The lightly spiced beets were fantastic, definitely the star of the dish. I’m normally not that into goat cheese, but it’s perfection when you pair goat cheese with beets. Topped with capers, a lavash chip, and frisee salad. Great variety of textures.

My entree was the Hand Rolled Lemon Ricotta Cavatelli. Comes with wild mushrooms, arugula, and walnut pesto. The ingredients were very similar to another cavatelli dish I had recently, but this one was much better. Perfectly cooked pasta, earthy mushrooms, yummy walnut pesto balanced by the tartness of the lemon ricotta. I think they could have gone a little lighter on the olive oil without losing any of the overall richness and flavor.

Hand Rolled Lemon-Ricotta Cavatelli, Boulud Sud

For dessert, I got the Rose Panna Cotta, which turned out to be one of the loveliest things I have ever eaten. The panna cotta was the most gorgeous pink and had a delicate, rose flavor. The sponge cake, rose gel, and pistachio gelato complemented the floral flavors. This dessert looked and tasted like spring. Art on a plate!

Rose Panna Cotta, Boulud Sud

Dining solo at Boulud Sud was quite different from my other recent solo lunches, which were more casual. I happened to be seated in the most crowded part of the restaurant, which was a little awkward for a moment, but that quickly passed as the waiter and servers made me feel very comfortable. It was also a very productive lunch for me. I got so much sketching done while enjoying the food. Great food = great inspiration!

Boulud Sud Boulud Sud on Urbanspoon

Spring Greens Salad with Broccoli, Tomatoes, Avocado

Spring Greens Salad, Broccoli, Avocado, Cherry Tomatoes

Every once in a while, I’ll get a sudden, intense craving for a leafy green salad. I normally have salads for lunch on a pretty regular basis, but whenever I get this craving, I always make sure a salad is my next meal even if it means doing a last minute trip to the store. It’s the body’s way of telling you want you need, so you better listen up. One of my recent salad lunches was this plate of spring greens with broccoli, grape tomatoes, and sliced avocado. Just a light drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette as you really don’t need much dressing when you have perfectly ripe slices of creamy avocado on your salad!

The Organic Grill, East Village

The Organic Grill, East Village

For Valentine’s Day, John and I stayed home. Does that make us an old married couple? Hah! Avoid the brutal cold, avoid the hassle of getting a V-Day reservation, avoid the (sometimes) overpriced holiday menus. We did, however, bundle up and venture out to East Village the next day for brunch at The Organic Grill.

The Organic Grill reminds me a lot of Sacred Chow in West Village, which happens to be one of our favorite vegetarian spots. One major upside is that the chairs and tables are not absurdly small despite how cozy it is. I’m in love with their chalkboard artwork!

The Organic Grill, East Village

John loves his IPAs, and I knew that he would get Wolaver’s the moment I saw it on the menu. They were out of prosecco, but recommended a sparkling rose as an alternative. It was a bright pink and quite tasty.

Wolaver's IPA Beer, The Organic Grill

John ordered the Seitan Sauerkraut Sandwich ($14.99?) special. Comes with home fries, a cole slaw, and pickles. I tasted a little of the seitan, and it had a great texture!

Seitan Sauerkraut Sandwich, The Organic Grill

Indecisive me had a tough time deciding between The Indecisive Special, Hangover Helper, and Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. I eventually settled on the Sausage Breakfast Sandwich ($10.99), which had homemade vegan sausage, jalapeno mayo, sauteed kale, avocado, and scrambled tofu. I really like that The Organic Grill gives you the option of eggs or tofu for all their scramble entrees. 

The Organic Grill, East Village

I’ve been trying to get John to warm up to tempeh, so we got a side of tempeh bacon. I was hoping the tempeh would come in thinner slices, so it would be slightly crispier and more bacon-like, but I still really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the tempeh wasn’t for John.

Tempeh Bacon, The Organic Grill

With all this protein, I was stuffed! The homemade vegan sausage had excellent texture and flavor. I wish there was a little more jalapeno mayo as the bread was quite dry. Under seasoned scrambled tofu is no fun at all, so I was very pleased at how well seasoned the tofu was. Home fries were tasty, but a few of the small pieces were slightly overdone. All in all, a good casual, vegetarian place that I’m sure we will be visiting again soon!

Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, The Organic Grill

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