macaron trinket box

I found this at Paper Presentation (one of my favorite stores ever! I geek out over all the paper, envelopes, art supplies, boxes, etc) last weekend and can’t get over how cute it is! Macaron trinket boxes, why hasn’t anyone thought of these before? Coming in an array of pastel colors, these are the sweetest ways you can gift jewelry to a friend. I just had to share this fab find. My pink macaron now houses this adorable gold scooter vintage charm necklace that my mom got me last year.

Macaron Trinket Box

While I got mine for $8.50 at Paper Presentation, if you don’t want to head on over to W19th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, you can just order it online from Urban Outfitters. I just randomly did a Google search and found they sell them online for $10! Click here if you want to buy a few. (And I say “a few” because just look how cute they all sit in a box. All the pretty colors! I am very tempted to buy a few more so I can display them together like this.)

Macaron Box | Urban Outfitters

And, for those people who like me are quite confused by the Macaron vs. the Macaroon, here’s a link that I found useful! So, technically, the display box that houses those macarons on top are labeled wrong, oopsie!

 

Advertisements

tokyo 2013

After a full 2 months, I’ve finally gone through my Tokyo pictures! Hooray! I didn’t take as many photos in Tokyo compared to Kyoto so I’ll keep this post short. These photos are really only from our visit to Sensoji Temple (金龍山浅草寺) and our dinner at Ichiran Ramen in Roppongi (Yummy! But more on that later.)

Senso-ji (Asakusa Temple)

Senso-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa that’s considered the oldest temple in Tokyo. There’s a street called Nakamise-Dori leading from the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) all the way to the temple. Lined with street vendors with traditional foods, souvenirs, ukiyo-e and toys, it’s quite a sensory feast. Unfortunately, I was too busy ogling over lovely kimonos and looking curiously at the takoyaki balls and Japanese desserts that I forgot to get clicking. So, the photos are going to start from the Hozomon (Treasure House Gate), the second gate that leads to the inner complex.

DSC_3926

Giant lanterns hanging from the Hozomon Gate

DSC_3920

People waft the smoke from the incense towards their heads to receive blessings from the temple deity.

DSC_3884B

We were lucky enough to witness a procession while we were there. We never figured out what it was for, but these kids with their patterned tops and candy-cane like sticks with bells and pine branch were so cute! We also saw some women dressed in simple kimonos with powdered white faces float by. The highlight though was the golden dragon that danced through the pathway.

Tokyo4

DSC_3922

This pair of grandparents was selling flowers with their granddaughter right by the temple.

DSC_3909B

The ceilings inside the temple

DSC_3903B

Peeking into the actual worship space

Tokyo1

R- Looking out from inside the temple out to the five-story pagoda

DSC_3931

We saw these giant chrysanthemums along a road parallel to the Nakamise-Dori. I’ve never seen them this huge! My sister and my mom couldn’t help but take a picture with them. Equally adorable is this picture of the pig-tailed girl looking at the Japanese figurines on sale at a store. Just look at the polka-dot detail on the cuffs of her red pants! Cute!

DSC_3933

 

 

Ichiran Ramen (Roppongi branch)

Later that day, we headed over to Ichiran Ramen on the recommendation of a family friend. The concept is unique because each person sits at his/her own cubicle to fully enjoy the ramen experience. Slurp the noodles all you want! Here’s how it works. You buy your ticket for all the items you want to eat from a machine outside, then go inside and check which aisles have free seats, take a seat, write down your preferences for the firmness of the noodles and the richness of the broth (among others!) and then wait for your bowl to be served by hands that appear in the space in front of you. Having your own spigot for drinking water at each seat is also a convenient bonus!

DSC_4011B

Blue seats are free and waiting for your butt to plop on them!

DSC_3990B

Check off your preferences! Firm noodles, medium richness, heavy on the onions, extra noodles, please?

Tokyo2

L- My ramen arrived and the bamboo curtain closes for privacy! R- My mom and dad at their tables.

DSC_3994

The tonkotsu ramen here was really good, and even though the experience is meant to be for individuals, as long as you sit right next to each other, you can still keep a quiet conversation going. It’s definitely an interesting experience and when they come to New York (supposedly in 2014), I would give them another visit. It was a hearty bowl of Japanese goodness. Yum!

early valentine’s at nougatine

Had an early Valentine’s dinner at Nougatine with Aldrich last night, yey! He made a point to say it was only Part 1 of the celebration. Can’t wait to see what else we’re doing next week!

He came with flowers in pretty pretty colors last night. I’m excited for the lilies to bloom. My sister loves stargazers, and maybe her love for lilies has rubbed off on me too. So, we started off the night with drinks at the lobby lounge of the Mandarin Oriental. Man, those cocktails were strong. We both felt the buzz after only one each. Haha, at least you definitely got your money’s worth. Then we headed to Nougatine which was only across Columbus Circle. (Definitely some good date planning; guys take notes!)

Since it’s still Restaurant Week, we got the restaurant week menu. I had the grilled Gulf shrimp with butternut squash for starters, the beef tenderloin with garlic, parsley and chili for the entree and the pineapple upside down cake with basil ice cream (yes, basil ice cream!) for dessert. I love how perfectly the shrimps were grilled (and how the butternut squash puree blended with the spices on the shrimps). The beef tenderloin had a flavorful outside, but was nothing special for me. It was good solid beef, but not anything extraordinary. I loved the unexpectedness of the basil ice cream with the pineapple upside down cake though. I will have basil ice cream again anytime! I wish I had pictures of the food, but they weren’t especially beautifully plated, and we didn’t have a good camera with us, so we just enjoyed eating them instead, hehe.

Aaaand this is what I wore to our date night. Of course, I had a blazer and a coat on top of this when I stepped out in the winter cold though.

Forever 21 fashion illustration print silk top, Joe Fresh black tank top, H&M ochre circle skirt, black leggings, Aldo suede booties, Forever 21 pearl cascade necklace, Glam rock watch

 

my furry parka at rouge tomate

I wore my Cope dress from Urban Outfitters to work last Friday because it was a relatively warm day (considering it’s supposed to be winter!) Yesterday, the temperature actually hit 15 C! I was expecting -2 C weather for the start of February. I’m not complaining though; I only hope this doesn’t mean a winter that extends until April or a sweltering heat-stroke-inducing summer.

Sooo, we had dinner at Rouge Tomate last Friday because it was (still is?) Restaurant Week. Who passes up a three-course prix fixe for $35 at a Michelin-rated restaurant? Not us! (Thanks Aldrich for reserving a table!) I must say, this was the first time I’d ever seen a non-alcoholic beverage pairing with the Restaurant Week set, and I was glad I decided to take it. The Cucumber Cooler (cucumber, lemon, dill, seltzer) tasted like a sunny afternoon lounging by the beach. The Amber Palmer, which was my favorite of the three, was a unique, refreshing, sophisticated mix of jasmine and black tea, rosemary-grapefruit juice, mint and seltzer. It was their take on the Arnold Palmer, but a very different, and far more elegant version of it! The Pomegranate Mint (pomegranate mint syrup, fresh mint, lemon, club soda) was a good drink, but lacked the wow that the other two had. I would pass on this for another glass of that Amber Palmer, hehe.

The Amber Palmer

I think I would rather have these exciting fruit concoctions over a wine pairing any day. I will definitely go back to Rouge Tomate if only for the juice bar and that amazing appetizer called the Hawaiian Walu Crudo. Yummmyyy, it tasted like it had calamansi on it, so it tasted like a fresh hit of home to me.

Anyway, so here’s what I wore that night to dinner. I got this furry parka on super sale at the Barneys New York outlet in Hawaii over Thanksgiving break. (Yes, I know it’s a weird place to buy such a heavy jacket.) The furry part of it is actually detachable and you can wear it on its own as a vest– neat!

So I’m wearing it over a navy blue blazer I got from Daffy’s long ago for $20. It originally came with plastic buttons and I replaced them with navy/military style ones from M&J Trimmings that cost around $8 total. I sewed 3 of the 5 buttons, and I remember Cel sewed on the remaining two on the left sleeve for me when I got lazy! Hehe

Navy blue blazer from Daffy’s, Cope white striped dress from Urban Outfitters, GAP tan and gold belt, Zara desert boot wedges

 

the queens kickshaw on yummy magazine

Yey! Forgive my excitement, but my name on a byline in a magazine is a sight I have not seen in more than 10 years! (Not since my days in high school at Candy’s Council of Cool.) Back in the day, I thought I wanted to become a magazine editor when I grew up. I’m all grown up now and I am far from that… far from any dream I had when I was younger, actually. I guess I still have a lot more growing up to do, but that melodramatic stuff is best saved for another day.

Image

Yey, I have a short article inside!

 

Anyway, so my good friend, Liz who actually DOES work for a magazine called Yummy back home in the Philippines, asked me back in October to help her out on an article about Filipinas who were making it abroad in the food business. My assignment led me to the door of The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria where I met Jen Lim and her partner and husband, Ben Sandler. I promised Jen I would go back (and I definitely want to, the grilled cheese sandwich I had there was amazing!) and now that the  Yummy January issue is out, I have an excuse to get my butt over there and say hello with a copy of the article.

Image

It’s the one on the left page.

 

I’m pretty pleased with how the article turned out overall (thanks of course to the magic hands of Liz and the other people at Yummy), but I have to agree with my sister that the last paragraph doesn’t seem like it really belongs. (Or maybe it’s also just a function of that paragraph being separated from the rest of the article by being on the next page?) Whatever the case, it’s not bad for a first attempt at writing in what seems like forever. I haven’t had to write anything like this since graduating from college in 2007 so this was actually something I missed. Soo.. if anyone wants to read the article, here it is! I’m also putting in a few pictures I’d taken from my trip there.

What do you get when you mix a grilled cheese sandwich bar, a coffee shop and a craft beer pub together? The Queens Kickshaw, a 9-month old shop in Astoria, Queens, New York owned by Filipino-Chinese Jennifer Lim and husband Ben Sandler. While espressos, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and locally brewed craft beer make quite the unlikely trio, Jen and Ben have somehow made the union make sense.

Image

Image

Image

“I never would have guessed that I would own a restaurant,” Jen says. Graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and a Masters from Pratt Institute in New York in Library and Information Science, it didn’t seem like Jen was anywhere on the path to becoming a restaurant owner. But the trademark Filipino knack for hospitality and entertaining left its mark on this New York transplant. “My dad’s family in Manila and Zamboanga is huge, and we were always getting together for birthday parties and holidays. There would usually be tons of food and drink, with us cousins running around and playing games,” she recounts. Years later, Jen still sees food as something that brings people together and creates a sense of community. “Ben and I have always derived a lot of joy from making people happy, whether it’s having them over to our house for dinner or throwing parties.” Successfully managing and coordinating their wedding in September 2009 gave them the confidence that they could pull off a big event, perhaps run their own restaurant. “Maybe we just wanted an excuse to have more parties.” Jen laughs.

Image

Ben, who at that time was a captain at renowned Nobu Fifty Seven and had been there for five years, was contemplating a career move. The more the couple thought about it, the more they realized that it was time for something bigger. “Ben comes from a family of great cooks. We both enjoy food and drink and he is especially picky about what he eats. In a way, he’s always already been in the restaurant business.” In April 2010, Ben quit his job and the couple worked for months on bringing their dream to life: creating a business plan, finding a space, hiring designers, getting building permits and actually constructing the place. The Queens Kickshaw finally opened in late March 2011.

Image

At 5:40 on a Saturday afternoon, The Queens Kickshaw is already abuzz with couples sharing bowls of Mac & Cheese (the pub’s take combines of cheddar, Gruyère, smoked mozzarella and French beans) and students typing on Macs while sipping lattes. Jen has her short black hair in a ponytail and is busy behind the counter with her staff, serving customers at the bar. Ben, with his apron and bearded smile, enters the store carrying a box from his latest run to the market. Jen meets him on his way in and asks about a curious long stick jutting out of the box of fresh produce. “It’s burdock,” Ben explains with a twinkle in his eye. “I’m going to be experimenting in the kitchen later.”

The restaurant interiors – exposed brick walls, wooden tables with legs made out of bolts and black pipes, industrial stools and wire-frame pendant lights – all exude a cool, understated yet layered sensibility that also extends to the menu. The shop serves up cheesy concoctions like Gouda grilled cheese sandwich with black bean hummus, guava jam, and pickled jalapenos or ricotta with egg, Gruyère crisp, thyme and maple hot sauce on brioche. The couple is constantly looking for ways to reinvent the grilled cheese sandwich. “We’ve always wanted our shop to be cheese-focused because it makes you happy when you eat it. The grilled cheese sandwich is so relatable to people. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want it to be,” Jen says. “We’re working on putting new menu items in; hopefully some with Filipino or Chinese influences too.” Who knows, maybe one day we will find longganisa chunks among layers of gooey cheese.

Being still new to the business, Jen acknowledges that they’re learning as they go, but they are excited to see where their hard work can take them. “My parents had their own business, building homes and townhouse complexes in Manila. They started this on their own and became successful in a few years. I saw their ability to take calculated risks and succeed through focused, hard work.” Still working full-time as a photo library coordinator at The Associated Press, Jen goes to Astoria straightaway at six p.m. on weekdays and works at the pub all day on weekends. Marketing and social media are under Jen’s wing, and based on the rave reviews they’ve been getting in New York, it seems to be coming to her quite intuitively. Managing people and training them properly is another process she is continually learning about. Coming from the Philippines and later living in Canada and the US however, has given her a unique point of view and an appreciation for different cultures. “It’s given me a better understanding of people,” she says. Ben, of course, also brings his own unique perspective to the table. “At the heart of it, we just really want to be good and do good,” says Jen. And if things keep going the way they are for The Queens Kickshaw, then they are doing very well indeed.

from Yummy (January/February 2012)

easter sunday

Had lunch with Aldrich at La Silhouette. Didn’t realize they were serving a prix-fixe for Easter! Unwittingly had to eat a $50 lunch. The champagne punch with fruits was great though! And so were the fries on my steak and eggs.

Aldrich had to run back to the office to do some work. I ended up meeting with Jed, EJ and Carla at Columbus Circle and we headed to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park together to toss some frisbee. It was a while before I got the hang of throwing a frisbee again!

And this is what I was wearing on Sunday! (I really love my vintage camera bag, one of the few things I’ve bought over ebay, and well worth it! I also really fancy my bird-print top, makes me want to take up watercolor again.)

Rust Orange Blazer: H&M, Bird Print Top: Forever 21, Gray Shorts: H&M, Necklace: Anthropologie, Gold Loafers: Tremp, Vintage Camera Bag: eBay!

motorino pizza (and magnolia cupcakes)

On Wednesday and Thursday, creative leaders from all different offices of the Landor network all over the world came to New York for a meeting. And because we wanted to give them a true flavor of New York hospitality, we got them food and snacks that we’d deemed the best of the best in the city. Among the lineup of quintessential NYC treats were cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, bagels from Ess-a-Bagel and pretzels from Sigmund’s Pretzelshop.

While I don’t agree that Magnolia Bakery cupcakes are the best (in fact, I really don’t like them at all), the presentation for their mini cupcakes was adorable. Who doesn’t love looking at those colorful confections in egg cartons? Beyond cute! So even if I’m not a fan of the super eggy flavor of their cupcakes, I am a fan of their packaging. *thumbs up*

While Magnolia Bakery probably has the biggest name among its neighbors on the table last Wednesday, I have to say the spread of pizzas from Motorino stole the show. Looooove them.

Enter the Stracciatella! $17 worth of deliciousness with the simplest of ingredients. Crust, cheese, basil, sea salt and olive oil. It was a dream. I can only imagine how good the pizza would have been if it were fresh from the oven and served at the table (instead of delivered like ours was).

One day I will trek on over to Williamsburg, home of the hipsters, for this wonderful treat. They do have a store now in the East Village but I just want to bask in the true hipster glow of Brooklyn. I haven’t been there since Yessa and Cel were still here! (I miss you guys!)