72 Hours in Las Vegas

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I just lost my Vegas Virginity. This is weird because I’m 24, was at a time obsessed with EDM and partying, and am from LA/SF which is pretty close to Vegas. Probably for the best, I waited until this past September to go to Vegas for the first time. My BFF Jazper, invited a handful of our closest friends from college to celebrate his 25th birthday in Vegas, and I used it as an excuse to head to LA to peep my soon to be new office (YAAAS I’m moving) and turn up.

I feel like Vegas attracts largely three types of people. The convention go-er who is chilling on their work dime, the EDM enthusiast who has club promoter numbers on deck (thanks Sheena for getting us into Hakkassan with a fucked ratio), and the people who think Vegas is a classy place to go on a vacation and experience the finer things in life. The latter is my favorite because I too appreciate a tasteful 3 foot tall drink and restaurant from a celebrity chef with a TV show.

We stayed in a suite in the Venetian that I got the hookup from via JusCollege via a colleague. We packed myself, Drew, Erin, Ramon, Angel, Jazper, and Marie in that room with pretty much no problem so I’d say it was a great deal. Hit me up if you want me to link you with this hotel promoter / discount giver.

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Me lingering the Venetian pool where a lot of old couples were making out. Spray tan by Brazil Bronze Soho (best deal in town but ignore where I spilled water on my shoulder lol)

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Best believe I had one of these in my hand within one hour of landing. I know from experience in NOLA that the bellini flavor is the best but weakest (use it to top off your drink). My Louboutin red nails match the cup. Possibly intentional. 

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24 Hours in Providence, RI

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Labor Day weekend Drew and I headed to Providence for a wedding we last minute realized we had a ride to. I am not really the most spontaneous type but it wasn’t excessively formal so I knew I could pull something together.

Being from the West Coast, I haven’t been to most of the quaint North East cities, and I’m always trying to check off another place on my world wide game of bingo in my head. And we had a free ride. This was an excuse to add to my “places I’ve been” magnet collection.

After a 3.5 hour ride in a bright red rental car, we were desperately searching on Yelp for a place to get a lobster roll, because that is the North East thing to do I guess. We ended up at Providence Oyster Bar and indulged in a variety of oysters, clams casino, and a lobster roll washed down with some Harpoon UFO beer. Oysters are something I have admitted to knowing nothing about. Despite my love for anything seafood, happy hour, and bougie yet accessible, I tried them for the first time in the Hamptons.

Don’t kill me but I kind think oysters, like crawfish, and wings, are the type of food that is less about the taste and more about the act of actually eating them. The vinegar based sauce I do like. I overloaded on oysters this weekend considering the wedding also had an oyster bar. To be honest, maybe this makes me tacky, but the bacon filled clams casino is much more up my alley.

 

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Why Preserves are The Plug

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I went from not really knowing wtf preserves were to always having a few jars in my fridge in the last six months or so. I found ways to incorporate them into  different recipes I’ve repeated multiple times, and worst case scenario, they are pretty much just tasty jam (which I don’t like on toast, but I do like on crackers with meat and cheese). Also, if you’re totally new to this, preserves are “food made with fruit preserved in sugar (jam or marmalade)”.

My favorite brand is Bonne Maman, which is a French brand that has cute red and white checkered lid tops. The two recipes that I’ll go into today where I incorporate preserves are Peach BBQ Pulled Chicken and Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu. 

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Chicken Curry with Carrot, Potato, and Peppers

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My favorite restaurant is this hole in the wall Burmese spot in San Francisco called Yamo. I always get the same order, beef curry with noodles, add vegetables. It’s $6 and last time I went to San Francisco I went straight from the airport.

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I’ve tried a lot of DIY seasonings, premade sauces in glass jars, but I’ve never gotten close to the taste I’ve found at Yamo (which is sort of Indian/Chinese/Thai if you haven’t had Burmese). The other night I made a similar recipe but subbed chicken and used an Indian style curry paste I found at the grocery store. Drew and I loved this chicken curry recipe and I highly it. It is one of the easiest recipes I’ve done in a while with the best turn out, but it isn’t the quickest, because potatoes are slow to cook, (and maybe I forgot to pre-heat). To be honest you could definitely cook the vegetables in a pan but this was just my first instinct.

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GURL, You know you want this chickkkk!

Ingredients:

3-4 chicken breasts

1 green pepper

2 potatoes, chopped into small pieces

5 carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 package curry powder (I used Taste of India)

1 cup water

1 table spoon coconut oil

Sriracha (if you like)

 

Tools:

Oven safe pan

Wok

I made enough from this for 2 days of lunch for 2 people. I ended up putting it over rice so I had a way to use every bit of sauce, but if you’re healthier than me, good for you. Ugh.

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24 Hours in the Catskills

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It’s no surprise that I managed to turn my anniversary into both a weekend getaway and excuse for me to plan a trip (which you probably know is my favorite thing to obsess over). Thankfully, this one was simple, and something different from my usual. Rather than party-centric, visiting friends, music festival, or multi-city European getaway, I went on my first ever ~romantic~ weekend trip.

GOALS: Do this once a month.

Welcome to The Catskills (specifically, Phoenicia, NY)

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The entrance to The Graham and Co. the perfect hotel/motel we chose for the night

Ok- so it wasn’t exactly a weekend getaway, because we only stayed one night, but it really felt like enough time to be worth it. We boarded a 2.5-3 hour bus ride from Port Authority Bus to The Catskills Sunday morning at 9 am, to arrive around noon. The bus was unlike any grimey Chinatown or Greyhound I had taken before, had decent sized seats, and didn’t smell, which was nice considering it was $65 per person (round trip).

I chose Sunday-Monday for a few reasons

1. Sunday is basically a weeknight for hotels, which makes it cheaper (the room was $185 for one night, and worth it)

2. Who doesn’t want a long weekend. Fuck Mondays.

3. Most boutique hotels, especially in peak season, require a 2-night minimum for weekends, and I didn’t want to spend too much.

I haven’t even been gone a full day and I am already dreaming of returning. This adorable boutique hotel is a great combination of rustic and hip, clearly you’re out of Brooklyn, but the staff knows their clientele and their needs (they hand you a Budweiser at check in, all the toiletries are their own signature packaging and scent). This isn’t too surprising because the owners are also designers of Brooklyn based boutique, OAK.

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Me thinking I am never going to leave

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Best Bushwick (and beyond) Eats

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This weekend is officially my two years living in New York. I’ve been living in the same apartment since November 2012 so I’ve gotten pretty familiar with the nearby spots. On weekends I love being able to get brunch, lunch, casual dinner, cute date dinner, or whatever without getting on the train. I like trying new places of course, but there are a few places I am finally happy enough with I would write a Yelp review, if I did that sort of thing.

Here are some of my favorite spots in the Bushwick/East Williamsburg/Williamsburg areas.

Breakfast/Brunch:

Dillingers: Coffee Shop, $

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This place is around the corner from my house (don’t stalk me). It’s “Russian” inspired and super cute with a back patio. Aside from great coffee drinks and pastries, the food is amazing. I love the grilled cheese with brussel sprouts on Texas toast, and the garbanzo bean, squash, and kale, sandwich also on Texas toast. There are dumplings, pretzel hot dogs, and a few other meal items, all ranging from around $7-10.

One note, this place is very slow. If you are in any sort of rush I would get a simple coffee and pastry because they LAG. Though as a regular, I clearly think it’s worth it.

Cafeteria Mejor : Coffee Shop, $

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This Cuban coffee shop has Miami inspired art-deco design and amazing coffee that has butter and salt in it. DALÉ! I typically order the cafe con leche. As a non-milk drinker, this is one of my only exceptions, the whole milk is essential to the Cuban coffee experience. Embrace the thickness. Their tostadas are also amazing (think toast, not anything taco-like) as well as “the meridian” which is a jamon y queso sandwich but with spicy and sweet jam.

Warning, a few of my friends have gotten in weird tiffs with the often moody staff. I am always fine, but just a note. Also, their patio is more like 3 feet of dirt, so don’t bother.

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Last Night A Doughnut Saved My Life

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Growing up, I was conditioned to think doughnuts were a rare treat, almost a reward for the laziness of my parents when they didn’t want to find a better breakfast on the road option. My mom and dad grew up on Winchells Doughnuts from Culver City strip malls, which may be the way less popular West Coast version of Dunkin, which also sucks. This was of course back when they would spell them donuts, because they were an appropriate price of $1.50 and tasted like dense cake nastiness with crusty pink frosting. We’d go to this spot “Wendys’” that had the apostrophe all wrong like that on Venice Boulevard and I would always kindly decline.

This changed now that I am in Brooklyn one day when a fancy doughnut caught my eye. I wish I had never met said doughnut, because nothing has been the same, the frequency in which I eat doughnuts is something I will not put a number on, but ya…..

My new obsession was born from three different establishments, Dough, Dun-Well, and Doughnutplant. If you aren’t a doughnut fan, the right decision would be to not try these because they will change your mind, or just go for it like I did.

Dough

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This Bed-Stuy bakery stocks local coffee shops around town, and conveniently, that includes Dillingers next to my house, and Brooklyn Roasting Company next to my work.

Faves:

1. Cafe au Lait (this one is perfect, it has a coffee icing and sort of coffee cake crumbles on top)

2. Dulce de Leche (somehow perfect level of sweet, has almond shaving toppings)

3. Cinnamon Sugar (can also take #1 spot when you are wanting something ~lighter~)

Least Faves:

1. Hibiscus (was so pissed off I didn’t like this sickeningly sweet beautiful pink treat)

2. Passion Fruit (again, these fruit flavors suck)

3. Mocha (this one is just too much for me, the chocolate frosting is too much)

Dun-Well

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Faves:

1. Peanut Butter and Jelly (YAAAAAAAS)

2. Pistachio (not overly sweet, topped with real pistachio bits)

Was Less Obsessed With:

1. Sweet Butter & Rosemary (maybe I need to try this again)

2. Regular Glazed (when did we become so basic)

3. Blueberry (sensing a fruit hatred here which is weird)

Doughnut Plant

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I haven’t had a bad experience here yet

1. Peanut butter Banana Filled (wow this is perfect and somehow not super sweet, has peanut pieces on top)

2. Peanut butter Jelly (again, same sweetness as the favorite sandwich, but amazing texture)

3. Creme Brûlée (apparently they invented this, enough said, though pricey for a small one)

4. Pistachio (another small one, but great)

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Me yesterday, using a meeting in LES as an excuse to get Doughnut Plant (pictured: peanut butter banana)

 

Pulled Chicken Tacos Topped with Chili Mango

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I love tacos. Be it roach coach or some bougie Korean fusion, I could eat them everyday, and do pretty frequently. Maybe it’s because I’m from LA, or love spicy things. Everyone in NY is all about their pizza, but I would give up pizza for tacos in a second. I betrayed my taco loving ways for a bit in favor of the much denser burrito in San Francisco, but I’m back. I’ve always struggled to make the tacos I cook at home as tasty as the ones I’d buy out, the meat just never tasted as flavorful and just tasted like

I finally have (yes I said it) perfected tacos from home. Below I will teach you my ways.

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Incredibly graphic close up taken 1 second before inhaling these 

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Watermelon Mint Cooler – The Perfect Summer Drink

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In the last year, I’ve gotten really picky about booze. I’m at the point where I’d rather just sip water than drink a well vodka soda at a bar just because I want something in my hand (this took YEARS). Aside from having 90% less hangovers, this has lead to me experimenting with cocktail recipes. On Sunday I made Drew and I these perfect summertime cocktails after we walked around in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I think this is my favorite Summer cocktail, and it is very easy to make, with inexpensive, easy to find ingredients.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sliced seedless watermelon
  • Mint leaves
  • Vodka (I used 42 Below- an inexpensive but tasty choice)
  • Seltzer/soda water (no sugar- yay)
  • Sweetener (if you’d like, I used very sparingly) I used Rose Royal lavender lemon simple syrup which I bought from Catbird, one of my favorite stores here in Brooklyn.
  • A muddler
  • Straws (I originally chose purple because they looked cute with the simple syrup but opted for red as you will see later – striped paper straws would have been ideal)
  • A cocktail shaker, ideally, if not, no big deal

Also: you can use gin or rum in this cocktail if you prefer. I’ve made it, or variations of it, with both. Mojitos are made with rum, but I do prefer vodka because it is less sweet. But whatever you’re into.

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