Eataly

I owe my love affair with Italy to the first trip I made there on my own when I was 15. It was the first country I had ever visited in Europe and I stayed with some family friends for spring break. Immediately, I fell head over heels with the language, the culture, and the food. I remember that the very first thing we did when I arrived was to drop in to the local pasticceria to buy some cheese focaccia. The minute we were back in the car, my friend Giovanni and I completely devoured the fresh, warm bread and I knew that I was about to embark on an experience that would change my life and spark my wanderlust forever.

That initial taste of focaccia al formaggio was exactly what sprung to mind when I entered Eataly, Mario Batali’s gourmet emporium. My eyes didn’t know where to settle as they tried to focus on the various departments of the vast warehouse space. In fact, the store is so comprehensive that it’s subdivided into separate restaurants that only focus on one type of food. There is Pesce (fish), Pizza and Pasta (obviously), Vegetale (vegetables), an oyster bar, an espresso bar, gelato shop, panino section, oh, and a rooftop beer garden thrown in for fun. And then… you have the main “piazza” strewn with high top tables where you can eat a bit of salumi with a glass of wine and make friends with your neighbors, a notion which is also so very Italian. I love it! With a commitment to serving and selling only authentic Italian products and food, Eataly really provides a true taste of Italy for those who are unable to jump continents. I heard that Mario Batali even had a specialty wood burning oven imported from Italy just for the space. The attention to detail and the focus on fresh ingredients has really paid off; this place is a goldmine.

Eataly has already become such a new New York landmark that every single time I have someone visit, I take them to the mega market as a right of passage. You have to see it (and eat it) to believe it. I have tried the panini, the gelato, the pastries, the salumi, the pizza and the pasta and I have yet to try anything that isn’t fantastic. The offerings are simple, but sooo fresh and that makes all the difference. The cacio e pepe is one dish that seemed so underwhelming on the menu until I tried it and couldn’t believe the depth of flavor in such a simple dish. An instant classic, but tricky to replicate (as I discovered at home).

If you can’t eat your way through Italy, no worries, eat through Eataly! It may take you just as long.

Cacio e pepe, which literally translates to cheese and pepper. It’s that simple.

I didn’t know so many types of pasta existed! This is just one aisle of about five.

…and I’ve never seen so many types of mushrooms all in one place!

I definitely want to buy a special cut of meat one day to make a phenomenal home cooked meal.

Give me some bread, some cheese, and some chocolate, and I’m a happy camper.

Dolci!

Baci! My absolute favorite Italian chocolate. Dark chocolate with hazelnuts. So good. And I love the wrappers with sweet messages inside.

Last but not least, gelato! By now, you should know that I will never turn down a cup or a cone of gelato.

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Dovecote

Without the end of classes to mark a long summer filled with beach days, vacations, and lazy afternoons, it’s harder to feel like summer is really here. Life continues, work continues, and the sun can sometimes feel like it’s taunting you. But this year, I really felt that Memorial Day weekend was the beginning of what I’m hoping will be an exciting summer spent with friends and family. My two best girlfriends from college came to visit me this past weekend and it was a marathon of sightseeing, restaurant hopping, and boutique shopping. I feel like I’m still recuperating, though it felt so nice to have the company of my girls again!

So before I get into all of the fun details of my girls’ weekend jaunts, I wanted to share pictures from last weekend’s adventures in Connecticut. Never ones to stay the course, my family and I took the opportunity to get out of the city and explore the picturesque towns of New Canaan, Westport, and Greenwich. It will always feel strange to me that just 45 minutes outside of the city, another lush, green, suburban world awaits, complete with main streets and ice cream shops. Mad Men always springs to mind, a domestic Betty Draper reality contrasted with the grit of the working world of Manhattan.

Anyway, the scenery was refreshing and I loved peeking into the independently owned boutiques and gift stores. I picked up a beautiful labradorite pendant at a boutique in New Canaan and then started adding everything to my wish list once we got to Dovecote in Westport. I first went to Dovecote last year on a mini business trip and I absolutely fell in love. The owner is a former fashion buyer who now travels to Paris several times a year to source one-of-a-kind treasures for her store. Totally my dream job. The boutique is exceptionally curated and features color-coordinated vignettes and pieces from every price point, as well as an adjoining section for stunning jewelry. It is the ideal place to find unique pieces to add flair and a layer of sophistication to your space. Of course, I have an expensive eye and kept picking up shagreen boxes and frames and ostrich leather clutches, but I would have been equally satisfied walking out with any one of the lovely scented candles or coffee table books on fashion and design.

In short, Dovecote is what my design dreams are built upon. A layer of slick modernity, a smattering of beautiful antique craftsmanship, and a touch of whimsy and color. Love, love, love.

The perfect vignette for a beachside getaway.

I went nuts for that elephant pillow–the gold Buddha’s pretty rad too though.

I can never say no to white lacquer, so chic.

Convex mirrors are so neat, I want one!

The perfect sized settee for a small apartment like mine–wink, wink.

I don’t know when I started loving all things elephantine, but I WANT this print. The fact that it’s actually split in two and framed separately makes it even more interesting and distinct.

The Smith and a Night at the Tavern

This past weekend was a foodie marathon, barely allowing me to catch my breath before diving into another plateful of deliciousness. It was almost too much of a good thing…but not quite. The first lunch was at The Smith, a place in East Village I had passed many times and had heard about, so I was excited to try it out. The day was gorgeous, so the restaurant was open to the sidewalk, creating an open and airy French-meets-American-grit-bistro feel. I know I’ve been posting a lot of these luxe, vintage inspired Americana places lately, but I swear it’s not intentional. I’m just noticing this trend as I take in new dining spots. I think many restaurants are trying to subvert the standard of fine dining and are instead tapping into that cozy, heritage feeling that seems cool and not too precious.

Anyway, the food, which is also new American, was just what I was craving. I ordered a shrimp roll, bursting with juicy lemon aioli smothered shrimp in a brioche hot dog bun. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but with a table of 15 people, it was tough to snag a shot. Everyone’s else plates looked enticing as well, the salads fresh and topped with lemon chicken or slabs of ahi tuna, fat juicy burgers and thick, stringy mac and cheese. I’ve also heard that it’s a great spot for brunch, so I’ll be keeping that in mind for next time. This time, I had to save room for dinner at….wait for it…Gramercy Tavern. Yuuummmmmm.

Rated one of the top ten restaurants in New York by NY Mag’s Grub Street this year, we were elated to get a reservation for my sister’s graduation dinner after a long waiting process to find a table for five. From the moment we walked in, the service was exceptional, and the setting homey and grand at the same time. Soaring ceilings and huge farmhouse tables littered with buckets and informal arrangements of peonies and dogwood branches. Swoon.

The evening continued with choruses of mmm’s and yumm’s, forks criss crossing to snatch a bite from neighboring plates and artfully presented plates of perfect food. From breadcrumb crusted baked clams, extremely tender porkchops nestled in smooth polenta, and a seafood stew to get lost in, the dinner was without a catch. And then came the dessert. After our place settings had been swiftly replaced for the final course, we didn’t think that we could entertain the thought of more than two desserts for the table. Five minutes of thoughtful pondering and there was no way we were leaving without trying EVERYTHING. Oh yea, people, I go to dinner to read the dessert menu first so I’m not leaving without my fair share. I ordered the chocolate pecan and coconut cake, while my sister ordered the chocolate pudding with salted caramel, my mom ordered the lime tart (see below), my boyfriend ordered the ricotta cheesecake with black currant sorbet (see below), and my dad ordered the macadamia coconut brown butter cake, simply because someone absolutely had to. A feast for the eyes, certainly, but man, I cannot think of a happier group of people. Each taste was bliss, and I think the most complimentary feature was that each dessert came with an accompanying ice cream or sorbet that perfected the mix of flavors. That black currant sorbet was one of the most sensational things I’ve tried and I’m always heading straight for the chocolate, so that’s saying something.

Gramercy Tavern, I will be back. I may be looking under a few couch cushions first for some spare change, but I will be back.

I had too much fun in the photo booth downstairs.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! Gramercy Tavern deliciousness. Heaven on a plate.

Key lime lovin’.

Lost in Translation

I love New York for the simple fact that you could be in one place one second and step into an elevator and POOF, you’re in a completely different realm, one that could only seamlessly coincide with everything else in such a unique city.

My family and I were wandering around, and my sister mentioned that she had been wanting to pick up some miso paste at a Japanese market off of 3rd on Stuyvesant St., but she always felt it was a bit sketchy and she was nervous to go in by herself in the evenings. Well, luckily her suspicions were totally unwarranted, minus the unassuming entryway to an elevator. Once we got upstairs, though, we took note of the overwhelming array of colorful packages, all labeled in symbols we could not understand.

This place is legit.

Candies, fish for making your own sushi, Japanese fashion magazines, home goods, movies, and more types of soy sauce than I could ever have imagined existing, Sunrise Market is little Japan in New York. If you ever want all of the goods to make the perfect sushi or Japanese dinner, this is the place to go. I have to go back and pick up some of the mysteriously packaged sweets and have a tasting without even trying to figure out what they are first. This could be interesting.

Fashion Show

As I mentioned on Monday, my little sister graduated from college. And she didn’t graduate from just any school, she received a degree from Parsons, the design school that made its claim to fame on Project Runway and is known for churning out my favorite designers Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, Donna Karan, and many other legendary designers. So I knew when attending her graduation that there would be no sweet eyelet summer frocks in white and classic pearls. It’s New York, and anything goes.

But I’ve got to say that even my expectations were blown. I’ve never seen so much designer swag in one place. There were girls in prim Chanel suits, others in leather jackets and drop crotch pants, and Louboutins a-plenty. Oh, and this chick rocking the low cut white linen overalls above (white is the traditional graduation color, right?). And this wasn’t even the ceremony for the fashion design graduates!

While my parents were certainly thrown off by the avant-garde approach to event dressing, I loved that everyone had the gall to shirk tradition and wear what would make them feel empowered on such a big day. Plus, it made the event so much more entertaining, an impromptu fashion show!

I couldn’t even count how many pairs of towering red soles I saw. Just looking at them makes me feel like I might trip.

Beautiful flowing printed french bohemian look.

That Jeffrey Campbell shoe looks like it wants to eat the Chanel shoe.

Large-scale all over floral printed long sleeve dress, very spring, very 80s Ungaro too.

After the show inside, the looks kept coming on the street.

And Margaux and I working the camera and giving it our best model pose. Congratulations Margaux!