April 28, 2012

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Last Saturday we hummed and hawed over what to do.  It was beautiful outside but we were exhausted from our awesome food tour the day before.  With Brian's encouragement I hesitantly agreed to go all the way to Brooklyn to the Botanical Gardens.  I was worried it was too far and I was too exhausted already to make it a good day.  But, as usual, Brian was right.  Hiking out to Brooklyn was the most glorious thing we could have done that day.  We went slow and took it easy, which is exactly the best way to enjoy the Gardens.  It was a perfect day.

My favorite part was watching the kids play as the cherry blossoms were "snowing" in the breeze.  Simply glorious!

Did you know that if you arrive before 12 noon on Saturdays it is free?  How awesome is that?!

(he's very advanced)
more relaxing

April 22, 2012

A NYC Food Tour!

Self guided (and created) food tours are my new favorite way to experience the city!  We love the city and we love trying new, good food (and eating some old favorites) so it makes for great fun.  We loved our hot chocolate crawl last winter--it was so very sweet.  I would do it again in a heartbeat--perhaps my last (heartbeat) with all that creamy goodness!  (And, I think this summer will require a ice cream tour for sure.)  On Friday we put together a delicious food tour around the West & East Villages.

Brian's sister, Angela, and her family came into town for a day. They have been to NYC many times, so we wanted to do something a little different.  The weather was going to be gorgeous, so we wanted to be outside.  We had 6 kids (all under 6 years old), but didn't want to do only "kid stuff".  So we thought we'd try a food tour around some of our favorite neighborhoods.  And to keep the kids happy we threw in a stop at a playground along the way.

The kids were troopers!  We walked (and ate) from about 2pm until about 8pm.  (I really didn't think we would be out that late.)  I tried to pack enough good, sustainable kid food, so we wouldn't have to worry about finding anything for all the little eaters while we were out.  But the kids quickly ate through 4 pb&j sandwiches, 12 cheese sticks, a package of dried apricots and 2 apples.  (Next time I'll pack more!)

We stopped at nine!!! different places and tried one (sometimes two) specialty item(s) off their menu and split it between all five adults.  The idea was to taste a lot of different food and not fill up all at one place (slow and steady!).  We did our research (mostly on yelp) to find places that we would like to try and we to find out what each establishment was famous for.  We wanted to taste "the best" of everything we could in the area.  Even though we put this together on our own, an official food tour followed us along our first few West Village stops (so we must have been on the right track).  A little bit of research saved us $50 each (not that we'd ever pay for an official food tour!) and spared us the social obligation of laughing at dull tour guide jokes.

Okay, enough banter!  Here's our West Village to East Village food tour with lots of photos of food and people, because those are my favorite things!

Rice balls: fried balls of creamy risotto.  Yummy and salty.

Joe's Dairy
Update May 2013 
They have closed down their retail shop and are only doing wholesale now.  So sad.

Smoked fresh mozzarella:  I loved the flavor, but the texture was a little rubbery.

Side note: After Joe's Dairy we went to grab some Kati Rolls (an old favorite), but, sadly, they were closed for renovations.  I highly recommend getting some if you can!

Mexican style corn: cheesy, spicy, sweet delicious corn!

Fries, fries, fries: fresh, crunchy, yummy fries and 20+ different dipping sauces--that's all they sell.  We got mango mayo, blue cheese, and smoked eggplant mayo.  They were all delicious, but my favorite was the eggplant mayo.

De Pabellon & La Mulata Arepas: delicious!  I'm craving an arepa right now.  Seriously!  The perfect combo of sweet and savory.

Porchetta sandwich: well seasoned, tender pork tossed into a yummy baguette.  

Chocolate ice cream: good, considering it's vegan(?!)
Brian and I both (independently) read (in multiple places) that Lula's was a great place to stop for ice cream, but we both seemed to miss that it is 100% vegan.  For people who love cream (like us), it's not great "ice cream".  But if you are a vegan, it's probably the best around!
With little ones staring into the glowing ice cream window we couldn't leave without a little something (five-year-olds don't care if it's vegan--it's ice cream!).
Don't ask me how she got it on her forehead?!

Side note: the kids were getting pretty crazy by this point (see above photo of ice cream on forehead) so we stopped at Thompkins Square Park and played for about an hour before continuing.

Fried pork & veggie dumplings with monster sauce: good and tasty.  I liked how the "cool monster sauce" ($1.50 extra) added a fresh flavor to the fried dumplings.  I preferred the pork over the veggie.  These weren't as good (or as cheap) as dumplings we've had in Chinatown, but still tasty.

Spicy red neck: yummy and fun!  Bacon wrapped hot dog with chili, cole slaw & jalapenos.
Even though Crif Dogs was on every "east village food tour" list (famous for their bacon wrapped hot dogs) we weren't planning on stopping there--it's a bacon wrapped hot dog!  But it was getting late, the kids had polished off the pb&j sandwiches hours before and they needed something.  When I ordered my kids a plain hot dog my curiosity got the better of me and I got the spicy red neck hot dog for me (what the cashier recommended).  It was quite yummy and a fun mix of flavors!  Brian helped me finish it off. :)  We may not go back (cause it's a bacon wrapped hot dog), but I can see why some many people love it...it's a bacon wrapped hot dog!!  

Cannoli: light and sweet.  They aren't the best cannolis.  I can't even recommend them, but they were a nice end to our long food tour.

It was so fun and delicious!!!  I'm so glad everyone was enthusiastically willing to join us on this adventure!

Side note: on the subway ride home Oliver got to stand up and hold on for the first time ever.  It's a bit monumental.  Definitely a big kid thing to do and part of my kids' "urban growth chart".

April 19, 2012

A Week via my iPhone

Photos from my phone are the best.  Often not the best quality of photo, but the best at capturing the bits and pieces of our daily lives.  Here's a bunch of favorites all from the last week.  It sure makes me feel like we do a lot!

How we travel

A boy and his balloon

Coconut Cream!


Beautifying our "front yard"


Don't ask

Reading Room at Bryant Park

A preschool tag sale--photo by Oliver

Walk along the Hudson River with my boys.

Making a wish.

Playing at a very talent friend's home

April 17, 2012

Spring Break

Since I got pregnant with Simon, two years ago, I haven't had the energy to really take advantage of all the fun stuff this city has to offer.  The main reason we live here is to experience all New York has to offer.  I feel a sense of guilt when I don't get out of the UWS very often: why spend so much money to live in a tight space if we don't do much?!

Last week was Isabella's spring break from school and we lived it up!  With the promise of good weather and the freedom from a school schedule we tried to do as much as possible.  This is how I love to live in New York!  We also loved that so many friends were able to join us on our many adventures!

Here's what we did:
The Bronx Zoo

The Brooklyn Children's Museum

A new playground and art projects when plans fell through

The Children's Museum of the Arts

A birthday party for a little friend
The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater*
The International Autoshow
(Daddy's pick :))

It was a very fun, exhausting week.  It was nice to have an actual excuse to not do any housework, "Sorry Honey, I can't do laundry...It's Isabella's spring break!"

*Not a great show, in my opinion...the story was a little odd.
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