Friday, October 31, 2014

happy friday

city hall wedding, jersey city by cheynne mojica
(flashback friday... back to OUR wedding day.  this is right after we got married at city hall in jersey city.  gosh that was a great day!!) image c/o cheyenne mojica

hey friends! it's friday! we'v e got some pretty awesome things to be thankful for this week, despite the fact that i got in a 6-car accident on one of the busiest highways in the NYC metro area (causing probably hundreds of thousands of people to miss their flight, be late for work, miss an appointment, etc. etc. etc.) and i sliced my finger cutting a bagel this morning (in my defense, the knife was dull and it was difficult to cut the bagel, sharp knives are safe knives people!!)

  1. hung gets to be the best man in his best friends wedding, a 3-day indian wedding bash that we're SO excited for....  mostly for two great people in love and getting married, but also the food.  yeah, definitely the food.
  2. we got OUR wedding photos from our photographer, cheyenne mojica , this week! i'm beside-myself-excited about them (if you couldn't tell already from my instagram feed)
  3. we got to host friends for dinner on wednesday, teaching a non-fish eater that fish can be good! (remember the claypot salmon recipe i posted a while back? if you haven't tried it yet, you need to)  being around THOSE friends always makes us feel so inspired to take a leap and follow our dreams.  so thanks, john trigonis , eightymag , and milk sugar love !
  4. i got to try filipino food for the first time kamayan style at a potluck dinner for an eightymag photoshoot! photographer greg pallante did an awesome job catching everyone mid-huge-bite, including me with a whole rambutan stuffed into one side of my cheeks like a hamster. look for his work in the next issue of eightymag !
  5. on the bright side of the car accident, i get to "test drive" a mini cooper countryman until my peanut is fixed (aka i get to try out a nice 4-door, small, baby-friendly, fits-in-our-tiny-driveway car for when we will actually need to get a new car in a few years when we start making baby phans :P)
ok now, let's get this party started! i've got two bright-and-bedazzled sarees ready to go and i'm crossing my fingers i'm there in time tonight to get my hands all hennaed up... indian weddings are the best, and we can't wait to celebrate with these two awesome people!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

masquerade soiree with e.tittlemouse and co.

the idea of a masquerade party seemed so distant to me.  my only two visions of it were scenes from breakfast at tiffany's and from gossip girl (who DOESN'T remember that episode where lil J gets smooched by nate for looking like serena?!).  i was so excited to go to this party with e.tittlemouse, because it was going to be my first one!

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it's rare for us to show up to an event like this empty-handed, so we (ahem, hung) decided to make meatballs! nowadays we can't make hardly anything without making a vegetarian version (if the dish isn't vegetarian already).  he's been using this recipe from smitten kitchen (modified with beef and baked on 450F for 20 minutes) for the real meatballs, and this recipe from serious eats for the vegetarian ones.  the recipe for the vegetarian ones is supposed to be for veggie burgers, but this is practically the same thing, right? since the veggie ones don't really have to be cooked (well, sort of, the egg I suppose has to be cooked through), he just tossed them in the oven with the real meatballs, just on a different pan. the cook time and temperature isn't SO important for the veggie ones. 

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i couldn't let hung get ALL of the attention though.  after a failed attempt at creating a "super simple nutella stuffed baked wontons" i decided to go with a tried and true recipe for chocolate banana bread  (i'm ACTUALLY starting to use the recipes on my pinterest !!).  but for this event, we needed bite-sized everything, so i turned them into chocolate banana mini muffins!  i suppose all 3 dishes were a hit, considering everything was gone exept for one last mini muffin that got splashed in vodka (oops! party foul).

see more party photos after the jump!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


we didn't do anything over the top.  we didn't need to "live it up".  we didn't even feel like we needed to "entertain".  the girls went to the city for wedding dress shopping. the boys stayed home and did boy things (and by that i mean they didn't shower, they played video games, and they consumed pizza , korean fried chicken , AND beer).  hung gave the boys a haircut.  we attended a charity event.  we ate at a dimly lit west village restaurant for a birthday.

...and it was just nice.  we're so thankful to have friends like this who love us for who we are, enjoy doing the simple things that we like to do, visit often, and most of all, have been there for over 20 years.  the friends that visited last weekend are hung's childhood friends who have all been close since grade school.  i'm lucky enough to say that they have become good friends of mine as well, and i'm happy they eagerly welcomed me into their lives even from the very beginning :)

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.....have any of you been inside B&H before? it's that  gigantic camera store in midtown, and it's seriously the best place ever.  even if it wasn't for those candy dishes all around the store (that i ate at least 10 of before we walked out) i could go back everyday just testing out different lenses and gadgets for our camera... like that $1,100 Zeiss lens that we fell in love with... one day i'll have that perfect lens that i'll never need to change out....

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we kept talking all weekend how cool it would be if we all lived in the same city (instead of FOUR different cities).  considering hung and i are the only ones who invested in a home where we live, i think it's up to everyone else to move to US, right? right... ok guys, let's start working on that "moving to the NYC area" thing.  future baby phans need pseudo aunties and uncles ;)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

september date night - morgan fish market, jersey city

a belated post for sure, but not without merit.  this place was so good, we plan to go back again soon (after we recover from another gluttonous weekend, WHY do we love food so much!?!?).

just a short walk from the journal square train, in nearly any direction, you will find food that originates from all the far corners of the world.  go a few blocks north and you're in little india.  go a few blocks west and you've got filipino food.  go a few blocks west and you've got morgan fish market, an egyptian fish restaurant! 

morgan fish market was our destination for september date night .  i wasn't quite sure what to expect when i walked in early, waiting for hung to arrive off of the train.  the atmosphere doesn't exactly say "date night" but i was up for an adventure. from the moment i stepped in i knew that THEY knew that i was new there, but that's ok.  i just sat down at a table while i "waited for my husband" (still weird to say)

once he arrived, went to the counter to order.  not knowing exactly what to do (and clearly showing it on our faces too), a man sitting at a table with what looked like his family asked us if we needed help. "yes! we would like to order, but we don't know what."  he recommended the striped sea bass and the branzino.  they will cook it any way you like, so we said we wanted one fried and one grilled.  the order comes with hummus, pita bread, rice, and salad.  we really could have ordered just 1 order for the both of us and split it and would have been satisfied, but after tasting the food we were glad we ordered two.

morgan fish market jersey city

morgan fish market jersey city morgan fish market jersey city

morgan fish market jersey city

i've got 3 words for that fried striped sea bass:  BEST. FISH. EVER.  maybe it's the seasonings, maybe it's the fact that they cook and serve the WHOLE fish, maybe it's the fact that it's in a place that doesn't quite look like it should be serving food that good, or maybe it was because it was date night.  really though, i think it was really just because it tasted that good.

we don't eat mediterranean food often enough.  this dinner at morgan fish market was our first time eating egyptian food.  although the hummus, tahini, and salad seemed like your standard (always good) middle-eastern fare, the fish stole the show.  i'm not sure what other type of food is served in egypt, but i can say this small taste inside the world of egyptian food was enough to make us come back for more.

high five for another successful date night , our first as husband and wife!
(and high five for discovering more hidden gems in jersey city!)


Monday, October 20, 2014

minimoon in the catskills

refreshed doesn't even begin to explain how hung and i felt after spending the weekend in the catskills on our minimoon.  living in the city, you don't realize how busy and how much stimulation you have when you're so used to being on-the-go nonstop.  normally when we decide we need a break and spend a weekend night at home, we're still cooking, we're still on our phones, we're playing video games, and we're watching gilmore girls marathons.  it's not a break.  we're still "connected" and feel like we're missing out if we spend too much time away from instagram that we miss something that someone posted.  i'm such a sucker for instagram, but our weekend away made me really realize that it's a time-passer for me.  spending the weekend with just my husband, with no tv, no video games, no cell phone service (for most of the time anyways) was a step away to truly relax.

after a friend told me about table on ten , i knew we had to go.  i've wanted to do a staycation in NYC for a long time, but we keep putting it off because of the high price of hotels.  i knew it was for us when i found out that we could stay in a likely-better-designed minimalist bed and breakfast for half the price in a place where we would be forced to live without distractions.  i booked the trip through airbnb and decided that we could piggy back the trip as being our october date , even though it was supposed to be our minimoon (hey, we still have a reception to pay for, we can't go too crazy with the vacations yet).

on the way to bloomville, we stopped at warwick valley winery .  expecting your average winery with lots of wine to taste and buy, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that this is the place that makes doc's apple cider ! while my taste buds have grown more "mature" since my days of loving every cider on a bar's menu, i still enjoy doc's.  the cider was included on the tasting menu, giving us a quick taste of a cider that never makes it to the draft list at our local bars: pumpkin cider.  i know, i know, everything has a pumpkin flavor nowadays, but this one was really good.  they know what they're doing when they say it's "seasonal" and "when it's out, it's out".  so, we packed our car full of booze, and continued driving to our destination in the catskills.

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at table on ten , we were greeted by the smell of brick oven pizza and a friendly staff.  we were shown our rooms, and just laid on the bed in awe of our weekend ahead.  you know you married the right one when you're excited for a room with no shower (just a hand held shower head and a tub, freestanding in the middle of the suite) and no door on the toilet area, just a curtain. the attic above table on ten is romantic.  it's minimalist. and the SMELL.  gosh i couldn't get over the smell.  it was fresh, it was cozy, and it made the place feel like home.  we spent the night eating pizza from the café at table on ten (their friday and saturday night specials), had a hot bath with the rest of our wine from dinner, and were ready for bed by 9:30pm. 

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i can't tell you how long it's been since i woke up on a saturday at 6:15am feeling 100% awake and refreshed.  we actually had to waste time before breakfast started to be served.  although Inez recommended a nearby café for breakfast, the smell of coffee and all things breakfasty told us we needed to stay.  after breakfast we planned to go to plattekill mountain , which has ski slopes in the winter that double as mountain biking and hiking trails in the non-winter months.  i like hiking, but it's not really hung's thing.  so this was a happy medium.  we rode the chair lift to the top of the mountain, and hiked our way down.  the hard part was done FOR us, AND we got views of the mountains unachievable from any spot on the ground.  worth every penny of that $7 ticket to the top.

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afterwards we ended up going to the café that inez referred us to for brunch.  it's called russell's , and it's the cutest little store in bovina.  it's a no frills place, where everyone seems to know everyone.  but as newcomers, we were treated with the same hospitality.  the place is filled with general store goods, bakery items, nostalgic candies, and, again, that delicious smell of bacon.  we ordered sammiches and devoured them.  end of story.  we were, again, referred to another local restaurant for dinner, and decided that these recommendations are a good thing (because they all actually ARE good recommendations).

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we spent the afternoon drinking ommegang beer at the taste of the catskills event in delhi before heading back to table on ten to relax before dinner.  i never would have thought that a place that seems so desolate would require reservations for dinner, but as we walked into brushland eating house , we realized why.  the well-designed space was dimly lit with just the right amount of cozy, not too many tables that makes you feel like you're packed in like sardines (ahem, like every restaurant in manhattan), but enough to fill the space with friendly conversations to make it feel lively.  when there's a place in town that serves food that's THAT good for reasonable prices, it gets packed.  fortunately for us, we are pretty low key and those bar stools at the ledge near the front windows that face the street are totally fine with us! we ordered the recommended roasted carrots, fell in love with turnips, and for once i think we each ordered entrees that was equally as awesome as the other (hung ALWAYS orders the better dish)

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another bubble bath and bottle of wine, and we were destined for another early night.  our final morning was reserved for a farm tour at a local animal farm called stone and thistle , where the owners served brunch at their home at a huge communal table after the farm tour.  after seeing a real family farm in action, it makes us appreciate meat that comes from these kinds of places.  although we have almost unintentionally reduced our meat intake to just a few servings a week, it makes use realize that maybe the "cheapest chicken breast we can find" might not be the most sustainable, the most ethical, or the most healthy.  although this mindset is in our faces everyday in the media, it wasn't until we actually visited a small family farm that we truly knew what it meant to choose ethically-raised, quality meat.

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although we only took a half day off of work on friday, being away from distractions for just the 2 nights made our weekend feel so long (in a good way), and it was such a nice treat for us newlyweds.  now i know why people take honeymoons ;)

we fell in love with the catskills, and we will certainly be back again.