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Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

lifeonmacro:

love strawberries cream cupcakes. must try this next!

Originally posted on Tasty Pursuits:


The most amazing woman I know was born today. She can’t run a marathon, bench press 150 pounds, or leap tall buildings in a single bound–but she is a superwoman just the same. I really admire how she has always forged on in the face of adversity and life’s challenges.

I admire her strength–Forced to leave everything behind, including two daughters from an arranged marriage, she came to this country with nothing. She missed her 3-year-old and 10-month-old daughters and wanted to return, but she stayed to create a better life for them.

I admire her intelligence–She can do anything. With her keen business sense and practicality, she can excel in any role or situation.

I admire her empathy–She has never worked in public relations, but she is one of the best PR people I know. She respects everyone regardless of social status, and genuinely cares about…

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Food, travel

Travelogue: New Orleans Days 1-2

My first time in NOLA. Of course, we stayed in the French Quarters and did all the touristy things.

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Dinner at SoBou — which stands for “South of Bourbon St.”

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Alligator corndogs.

 

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First gumbo in NOLA.

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There was a rustic yet modern feel.

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Stayed at the bar. The bartenders were welcoming and knowledgeable. There’s a metallic baby in that drink.

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Creative small bites. Yellowfin tuna tartare cones with basil avocado ice cream.

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Foie gras burger: Pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras, sunny side up yard egg, duck bacon, & foie gras mayo on a caramelized onion brioche bun served with pork cracklin’ & a mini Abita root beer and foie gras ice cream float. The ice cream float was my favorite. It comes in a separate glass and didn’t taste like foie gras at all, but I loved it!

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Crispy oyster tacos.

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Crispy chicken on the bone.

The great thing about NOLA is that if you don’t finish your drink at the bar, you can ask for a sippy cup to go.

We ended the night early because we had to get ready for the next morning’s bike tour — a drinking one, nonetheless.

I found Confederacy of Cruisers Bicycle Tour on Yelp. They have tours for eating, drinking, and just plain bike tours around town. They’ll take you away from the French Quarters to other areas that are not as touristy.

 

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Our tour guide was so cool.

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She took us to a local pub. 5 drinks are included in the tour.

We got to the riverfront.

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These are backpedal bikes, which led to my fall -_- We didn’t get to finish the tour because of a little accident… BUT I would still recommend the tour to anyone who is even slightly more agile than I am.

We had to hit up the #1 tourist spot in the French Quarters — Acme oyster house.

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Their chargrilled oysters were highly raved about, but I found them to be extremely anorexic in size although tasty.

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Seafood etouffee with fried crawfish was good, but not worth the price tag.

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Walking around NOLA, you find a lot of balconies that are decorated with beads and shiny balls.

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Love the architecture here.

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Walk east and you’ll find yourself at the French Market. The farmers’ market is not exactly what it sounds; there are vendors that are restaurants selling dishes of food. The flea market is exactly what it sounds like.

 

 

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Selling soaps.

 

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Tshirts.

 

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It’s New Orleans — of course they would sell alligators…

 

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You could find these masks everywhere. I already have one at home from years ago when my friend went to NOLA.

 

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The “farmers’ market” had lots of these little storefronts that sold food.

Next, we stopped by Cafe Du Monde for their famous cafe au lait and beignets.

 

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We didn’t want to linger around and fight for seats, so we stood in line to get them to go. Even THAT took about 20 minutes…

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We passed by Jackson Square, a National Historic Landmark and perfect photo opportunity.

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On the way back, we found many stores that sold pralines and candy. Souvenirs galore!

 

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There are many art galleries on Royal St. Very interesting window displays…

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I ate the beignets when we got back to the hotel. I thought they were overrated but good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. They’re kinda like fried zepoles in New York.

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I also got a fried oyster po-boy from Verte Marte, a deli on Royal St where you can get anything on your sandwich. It’s very popular and gets crowded. There’s no seating so it’s just a grab-and-go.

After that po-boy, I passed out from walking all day (and eating all day).

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Food, New York

Coffee & Tea Festival NYC (March 22, 2014)

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I’ve heard about this event for years but never ventured out for it. This year we got a deal through Amazon ($10!) but it was soooo crowded. The line went around the block when we got there in the morning. We had just missed the free goodie bags (awarded to the first 1000 participants)!

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There was lots of tea brewing.

 

 

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Specialty coffee.

 

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Organic ones…

 

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Now that’s legit.

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You get to see lots of different tea brewing styles.

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AND ice cream!

 

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We sampled the chocolate-chai, green tea-coconut, another had red tea.

 

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Then there are soaps that look like cupcakes.

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Pretty teacups.

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Loose leaf tea everywhere!

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Yes, even chocolate.

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Empanadas?!?

 

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Yogurt parfaits…

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This place was interesting — 2 parts tea, 1 part booze.

 

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Not pictured was the one I sampled — coco lada.

 

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Different flavors of biscotti.

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That feta cheese scallion scone was delectable.

 

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Champagne chocolate.

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More tea.

 

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Chai tea.

 

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…and back to specialty soaps!

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There were many different vendors. We walked around and around and around…

 

 

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Raw honey. I loved them. So tempted to buy…

 

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Iced tea.

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Fashionista tea.

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After all the samples, I’m definitely highly caffeinated. I didn’t buy anything except for the scone; the only things I took home were a few tea packets. I was told that the tea at the festival was cheaper than at their stores. Overall, it was a good event but I’d probably go again only if we got a discounted deal.

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Food, travel

Travelogue: Chicagoland Day 4 (Intelligentsia, Hot Doug’s, Xoco)

I decided to give Portillo’s another try. Got their chicagodog and chili dog. Chili wins.

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It was still rather disappointing, but later on we redeemed ourselves with better hot dogs… (keep reading)

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We walked downtown to Intelligentsia.

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Got a coffee flight of 3 different coffees.

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Latte. The most perfect latte I’ve ever had.

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Coffee from Peru.

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Their baristas were all friendly and professional. Such a hipster coffee place.

We then took a cab to Hot Doug’s. It was about 20 minutes away from downtown, and we wanted to make it there in time. You can also take the trains but it would take 45 minutes.

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Hot Doug’s Cassoulet: Saucisse de Toulouse with Fresh Herb Mustard, Great Northern Beans and Duck Confit

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Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel

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Bacon Cheeseburger Sausage with Coca Cola BBQ Sauce, Caramelized Onions and Maple-Smoked Cheddar Cheese

We took the trains back to downtown area, where we met up with a friend and ate more at our hotel rooftop lounge. Then we went to Xoco for dinner…

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Amazing guac. They give you so much avocado!

 

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Suckling pig torta – it was filled with shredded/pulled pork, which I didn’t really like.

 

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The caldo had pork belly in it, which I enjoyed but was not the best.

 

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For seating, you line up at the cashier and there is a dude who finds available tables for you and tells you a number. It’s very casual. The one thing that I did like about this place was BACON POPCORN that they sell in packs. Their hot chocolate was also good, very thick and dark.

After all this food, we took a walk along the river.

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The one thing I love most about Chicago is its architecture. Bridges and lamp posts make this scene memorable for me.

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Even the Starbucks are pretty. (No, you don’t go to Chicago for Starbucks.)

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Food, travel

Travelogue: Chicagoland Day 3 (Girl & the Goat)

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We started off the day with lattes. Mine was vanilla rose. Spent the late morning/afternoon at Fabcakes.

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Breakfast sandwich in a croissant (Egg, tomato, basil, cheddar, and bacon+$0.75) — delicious.

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Polish Zapiekanka — an open face french bread melt with caramelized onion, mushroom, swiss cheese. It was meh.

After that, we stopped by Portillo’s — a must for tourists to get a chicagodog.

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As per Yelp reviews, we got the Italian beef. The beef was dry and bland and fell out of the sandwich along with 2 slices of peppers.

Our next stop: shopping on Michigan Ave. I love walking down that street, with stores on your right and left. Of course, I had to take a picture of Anthropologie’s storefront.

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We were tired from a day of walking around. It was time to meet my cousin for dinner. I had made a reservation at Girl & the Goat MONTHS in advance because I knew this was the “IT” place.

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They had an extensive cocktail and wine list.

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I loved my cider.

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Started off with raw oysters. There was too much pickled flavor for my liking, but those were some good oysters.

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Roasted beets salad: green beans, white anchovy, avocado creme fraiche, bread crumb. They give you a generous amount of beets, which I love.

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One of my favorite dishes here: wood oven roasted pig face with sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple, potato stix. They instruct you to destroy it completely to oblivion…

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Pig and egg: such a wonderful combination.

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Pan fried shishito peppers with parmesan, sesame and miso. Shishito peppers aren’t known to be spicy, but I was lucky enough to get one spicy pepper in there.

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Another one of my faves. Pan roasted arctic char with kohlrabi escabeche, miso-harissa, spiced cashew.

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Diver scallops with sweet curry, sweet onion-bacon, papadum. Very good but pricey — we had to add a third one for an additional cost.

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This one did not work well for me. Confit goat belly with bourbon butter, lobster n’ crab, fennel. The bourbon butter and lobster and crab was an odd combination against the goat belly.

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This was surpringly good and not gamey. Goat carpaccio with smoked trout roe and olive-maple vinaigrette.

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We added another dish because we really wanted to try everything! duck tongues with tuna and black bean poke, crispy wontons, piri piri. DELICIOUS!!! Perfectly crispy and the whole dish came together.

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Dessert time. Our waitress informed us that this was new to the menu. Plantain cake with cream cheese-chocolate chip gelato, passion fruit, left hand milk stout. SO good but we couldn’t finish it.

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We also chose two cheeses; the waitress was very knowledgable and knew everything about the menu!

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The bill for 3 people.

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Food, travel

Travelogue: Chicagoland: Day 2 (Alinea)

We started the morning with coffee and hot apple cider with caramel (obviously mine).

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Robust Coffee Lounge – definitely hipster, definitely good coffee, definitely people working on MacBooks. The one thing I love about Chicago is the availability of cafes with free wifi and outlets everywhere.

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I had not been to Chinatown before, so since my friends were driving, it was the perfect time to explore. They explained to me that there is an “old” Chinatown and a “new” one, which are adjacent to each other but with different shops and restaurants. We went to the “new” one and ended up at a really good dimsum place: MingHin.

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After our stroll in Chinatown, we went to shoot pool at Lucky Strike. Then we went back to the hotel to change clothes for Alinea, which was one of the main reasons why we went to Chicago.

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Passionfruit foam!

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They brought out logs for “ambiance”.

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Remember the logs on fire? He cut them up and inside was wagyu, perfect meat…

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This was a time-sensitive dish, which meant I was supposed to eat it as soon as it came out, but I was too busy taking pictures and they came out blurry. Hot potato and cold potato!

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This was one of my favorite dishes. They don’t tell you what any of these are, and you’re supposed to taste and test and guess.

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Some of these are alcohol!

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Mission Accomplished.

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Food, travel

Travelogue: Chicagoland – Day 1

My second trip to Chicago was all about eating.

Last January, I flew to Chicagoland for 1.5 days to see my aunt, uncle and cousin. We did all the touristy things and saw all the sights. This March, I had one thing in mind: to eat my way through the heart of Chicago.

First place we went to after we landed: Nhu Lan Bakery.

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They bake their own bread for their banh mi.

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The menu was amazing. I knew I had to get the sugarcane shrimp & pork banh mi.

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And of course, the classic #1. They were the best Vietnamese sandwiches I’ve ever had. Who knew I’d find this in Chicago?!

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They also sell dessert and flan and “Vietnamese mayo”…

NEXT STOP: Hot Doug’s. Alas, they were closed!

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Moving on, we went to Smalls, Smoke Shack & More.

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It’s American BBQ with an Asian twist. Brisket, tiger cry sauce, garlic fried rice!

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The best thing there: flash fried beets. Better than fries, in my opinion.

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There seems to be a lot of Mexican colas here.

After a brief visit to the arcade – Galloping Ghost Arcade – where the games never end (really, you never die), we decided it was time for dinner at Butcher and the Burger in Lincoln Park.

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So you pick a meat (I picked house prime blend), and then a spice blend, and whatever else you want. You can even pick a lettuce bun if you’re not into carbs.

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It’s a small place, and very popular, so expect a wait. We waited for what seemed like an eternity (while watching all of the above burgers come out and being disappointed that they weren’t ours) for this…

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One of the top 3 burgers I’ve ever had. Of course, I added a sunny side up egg. It looks simple, but the burger was just so tasty and perfectly medium rare. I picked “grandma’s onion soup” as my spice.

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Truffle, anyone?

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