New York City Restaurant Week: My Heaven

Hey ya’ll! It’s Friday, Friday, I freaking love Friday. Fridays are seriously my only day off from school, which is very different in comparison to last semester when I only had class on Monday and Wednesday. I have epic plans for the weekend. I am going to Killington, VT with a bunch of my friends to learn how to ski, have fun in the hot tub, and just relax from the stress that is school. In the meantime though I have something really near and dear to my heart to share with ya’ll. New York City Restaurant Week is upon us and I obviously have to experience all the greatness that is available to me. When you offer 25$ and 38$ lunch/dinners that are a ton of freaking food, I’m so going to be all over it. This Thursday, my school friends and I, decided to have an after class date at Haru Sushi, who just happened to be participating in restaurant week. Success.

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One of my favorite things about restaurant week dinner is that you get a ton of options from each category. For the dinners, you usually get a appetizer, entree, and dessert. The best part of Haru sushi is that each category had many amazing choices while dessert just had two (not complaining though because both are really great).

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I ended up going for the rock shrimp tempura with spicy sauce for my appetizer. This was definitely a good choice. This portion was freaking huge. I love that they give you the actual sizes for restaurant week because it means that you are definitely getting your moneys worth. The tempura on the outside of the shrimp was perfect. It wasn’t too crispy or too soft. The sauce was awesome. A lot of people on yelp complained that it was super spicy, but ya’ll are seriously weak. This sauce is not spicy at all. It was more creamy and delicious. So far this was a win. I was looking forward to more of the food to come.

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My friend ended up going with the King Crab Dumplings, which looked really good too. She said they were delicious. They came in this cute little steamed dumpling basket that you usually see sitting on dim sum carts. If I go back to this place, I would definitely get an order of these bad boys. They were only 8.75$ regularly (while it is nothing like my Jade Garden 8 dumplings for 4.25$ this is still pretty great for crab dumplings at a sushi restaurant).

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Hail the sushi gods. This was a lot of sushi for an entree. My friend and I both picked the specialty sushi rolls for our entree choice. It came with two rolls that were each 8 pieces, so that was 16 pieces of sushi in total. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish this (I ended up having to take 7 pieces home with me in order to be able to enjoy dessert). The rolls that were included were the Gramercy Park Roll and the Kiss of Fire roll.

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This was the Gramercy Park Roll. It came with crunch spicy albacore tuna and jalapenos wrapped with tuna, yellowtail, and salmon. There was also a wide variety of toppings on top in form of fish eggs. This roll was the bomb. I loved that there were different types of fish on top. All of the raw fish was incredibly fresh. It blended together nicely and to be honest I couldn’t really taste the spiciness of the jalapenos inside the roll, so I think that they did a good job of making it more of a blended flavor than a spice of the dish. This roll is originally 18$, so I probably wouldn’t have gotten it in the restaurant if there wasn’t this special NYC restaurant week menu. It was definitely good though.

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Hello you little firecracker. Man this roll definitely had a kick to it. This was the kiss of fire, which was really living up to its name. It was salmon, albacore tuna, and wasabi tobiko wrapped around crunchy spicy tuna and more jalapenos. This thing was jacked with jalapenos and spiciness all over. The red sauce that was a dot on the top of each piece of sushi was spicy. It wasn’t too much that I was sweating and snot dripping down my nose, but it definitely packed a punch and I had to chug some water to keep up with it. I love spicy things, so this was definitely my favorite of the rolls. It was regularly 15.25, so I think that I might get it, but probably not since I’m my cheap graduate student self. Thank you NYC Restaurant week, I love you for having all of this food available to me.

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For dessert, my friend ended up going for the banana spring roll with chocolate dipping sauce. You can’t go wrong with chocolate on the side. This was actually pretty good. We each let each other have a piece of our desserts. This was rather simple. It was just a banana wrapped with a wonton wrapper then it was fried. However that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good because it definitely was delicious. I liked that it was a lighter option to have for dessert because at this point you are probably pretty stuffed from all the food you have eaten.

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Oh man. I could just stare at this beauty for a long time. I went with the tempura cheesecake. It was definitely a win on my part. It was served over this interesting alcoholic kind of sauce with strawberries and whipcream. The cheesecake was so soft inside. It just melted in your mouth as you bit into the piece. I loved that it was lightly fried because it kept the cheesecake in its prime condition. I could have probably managed to stuff a ton of these cheesecake bites into my mouth, but unfortunately they only gave me about 3. Overall you get your moneys worth at this place because my appetizer was 11, the sushi was 33.25, and the dessert was probably 6-8. Therefore you know you are getting a good deal since the dinner is just 38$ and all you have to do is pay tax and tip. Oh restaurant week, can’t you be forever?

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Well I’m off to the mountains! I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend because I know I will be having a pretty great one and a hilarious one. Next up on my NYC Restaurant week adventures will be Morimoto (yeah ya’ll can be jealous now, I’m going on Monday for lunch – booooyah).

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The SNAP Challenege

Hey ya’ll! I’m two for two so far now that I’m back to the grind. Today I have something special and very meaningful. I’m currently taking a community nutrition class about how to work with different populations and help them with their needs. One of our projects for the class is the SNAP challenge. A lot of people don’t know what SNAP is or think that it is actually an acceptable amount for people to live on. We are going through this experience to learn what it is like to live on 4.50$ a day, which will help us see that this isn’t enough to live a healthy lifestyle on. I already know that I am going to be hungry throughout the day since I won’t be able to purchase all the fruit and vegetables I usually snack on. Sometimes I think we forget how much food is worth and how lucky we are that we can afford to buy whatever we want to eat.

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The SNAP challenge means that you will be living off 4.50$ per day for seven days of the week. In total, we are allowed to spend is 31.50$. You are not allowed to use any of the food that you already have in your pantry or in your refrigerator. We can only use the oil and the spices that we have to flavor things, so that will save a little money in regards to making our food tasty. The average cost of each meal should be around 1.50$. If you spend less on that per meal, you will be able to have one snack. You must avoid accepting free food from friends, family, and your work place. Either buy your groceries in one shopping haul or buy them a few times throughout the week, but keep track of your receipts in order to make sure you don’t go over your budget. After our experience, every person in the class has to write a paper reflecting on their experience discussing how it was hard or easy, what it felt like to be hungry, and many other things. I feel as if it is going to be a really eye opening experience to what life is like being hungry, which many Americans face on an every day basis.

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Why is this so important? Well 1 in 6 people in America experience hunger every single day of their lives. On top of this number, millions of Americans are at risk of hunger. Most of these people are hard working community members that can’t make ends meet from having low wages or no job, and will eventually have to go without food. Most people assume that it is mainly the homeless that are experiencing real hunger, but only 10% are homeless. 36% of the households that are served by Feeding America have had at least one working adult. This makes it real. This could be you, this could be me, or this could be your neighbor. If this was you, wouldn’t you want there to be a little more than 4$ a day for you to live on? Another scary fact is that children are severely affected by hunger. Around 16 million children in the United States are living in food insecure homes. While school lunches feed them one meal a day, this still does not solve the problem and most children starve except while at school. When children don’t get their nutrients or enough food this can lead to severe health problems in regards to development and growth. Therefore these children are going to be at an extra disadvantage as they grow up.

One of the scariest things is that even college education isn’t enough to sustain you in life. While education is important, the job field isn’t what it used to be. Jobs are hard to come across and wages can be low. 23% of adults that were interviewed by the Hunger Study have attended college or a technical school. If everything else hasn’t made this real then this fact definitely should since most people that I know have gone to college. So SNAP comes in to the rescue, which is formerly known as food stamps. A few good things about SNAP is that participants are not able to buy tobacco or alcohol with them or ready to eat food, such as fast food. However a main problem that I have with SNAP is that you are only able to use it at SNAP eligible locations. That means that people are only allowed to shop at places such as convenience stores, local bodegas, and a few grocery stores. I find this ridiculous because at convenience stores and bodegas the cheapest items are extremely unhealthy items. Why do we live in a world where eating an apple cost more than having a bag of cheetos or a candy bar? Something needs to change.

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This is probably going to be one of the toughest things I am going to have to do because I am used to being able to buy all the fresh produce that I want. In order to prepare myself for this challenge, I have looked to meal planning as a skill to help me be successful. You can’t go into a store without preplanning what you are going to eat or you will either buy random things or nothing to sustain you on. However most people that use SNAP don’t have the time to plan out their meals nor do they have the nutrition education to do so or the access to internet and books. Therefore I am already not experiencing the true life of hunger since I can organize my meals and think about it. I challenge anyone that wants to join me in this SNAP challenge. If you want to join, write on the comments section. You can also link up to social media through social media such as intstagram and tweeting with the hashtag #snapchallenge or #takingtheSNAPchallenge. I wish myself good luck and I really hope that some people will go through this challenge to in order to humble yourself or at least learn what it is like for many people in America.

Have you ever done the SNAP challenge?
What is the cheapest meal you have ever made?

WIAW in the East Village and Beyond

Hey ya’ll! I have been gone. Don’t worry because I have some super valid reasons. The first weekend of February, actually January 31st, I had to go to the ER in the morning. Why you may ask? Well I had a ton of pain in my stomach. Being my typical self, I laid in bed from 5 am-8 am just crying and taking tums to see if that would make it better. I’m pretty stubborn, but I ended up calling my mom and she was like go to the ER. 12 hours later in the ER: Hey, you are getting your appendix out. Cool story bro, but can I just have my Chinese food? No. So pretty much I was dead for a week and a half after that. Then I got blessed with the wonderful news that I had strep throat. The gods are in my favor, duh. Then there was a possibility it was mono, but thank god that didn’t happen. So finally, this weekend was my first weekend to finally be out and about like a normal person. Where did I go? EAST VILLAGE! Thankfully since it is my favorite holiday, What I ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn, I get to share all my foodie adventures I had.

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I have found the happiest place on Earth. Also known as Pommes Frites. So the way this place works is you go in, order a small, medium, or large fry then pick your sauces. You can get one sauce along with your order, but if you want to pay extra you can get three sauces for like 2$ or something. The service is incredibly quick. The inside is incredibly small though, but I think it makes it feel like a more homey atmosphere. I ended up going with a simple choice this time, which was the pesto mayo. My roommate ended up getting the rosemary garlic mayo. The regular bag, which is the smallest size was MASSIVE. We ended up having tons of fries to take home, which ended up being our savior the next day from our hangover. We are looking forward to going back with my little brother (WHO IS COMING MARCH 7TH!!), so we can try a bunch of different crazy sauces like pomegranate teriyaki.IMG_3141

On our trek to go get margaritas, we ended up stopping at a super cute macaron place on St Marks Place. It was macaron parlour. Obviously before we went in, I had to yelp it to make sure it was acceptable for our delicate plates. It had 4 and a half stars, so you know I was going to go in. They had a ton of flavors from thai chili peanut to caramel apple cider. I think I died and went to heaven. I am a huge macaron connoisseur.

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This is the caramel apple cider macaron. It is super cute with the pink and blue color. You definitely wouldn’t think it was that flavor based on the appearance. It was delicious though. As you bite into the macaron, a nice salty sweet caramel oozed out onto your tongue. The cookie part had hints of spiced apples in it. Together it actually tasted really close to cider, which I am a huge fan of (definitely one of my alcohol drinks of choice).

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Saturday was probably one of my favorite holidays of the year: National Margarita day. Really any day that you can day drink and have delicious margaritas is a pretty stellar day to me. I ended up getting a medium coconut margarita frozen while my roommate got a regular small margarita on the rocks. The coconut was to die for. It actually had coconut mixed in, which was nice to suck up every once and a while in the straw. Let me just tell you about this place: Benny’s Burritos. It has low stars, but I’m not sure why because happy hour is the bomb. Smalls: 3$, Medium: 6$, Large: 9$. You can’t go wrong with that. The larges are massive too in huge soda cups. These are pretty strong too. I was feeling good after this first one.

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Since I was drinking on a practically empty stomach (I had only managed to eat about 10-15 fries at Pommes Frites and we had been walking around for a while), I decided that I needed to eat some brunch. Thankfully it was about 2 pm, so breakfast was still acceptable. The food gods were really blessing me that day because there were my holy mecca of breakfast tacos on the menu. Although the restaurant called them egg wraps or something. STOP LYING TO YOURSELF. You need to advertise these bad boys because all the Texans in NYC will come flocking to your establishment and you will go to a 4 star place from 3.5 stars. These were legit. I got a bacon and egg taco. It came with two tacos and potatoes on the side for only about 4$. Now that is a deal to me. I sort of felt nostalgic and like I was at home while I chomped on my brekkie tacos and chugged my marg.

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Since I was feeling pretty good already from my previous margarita, I thought why not order another one. This time I went with a small frozen raspberry margarita. If you love raspberries then this is definitely the choice for you. It was really good. I struggled to finish it though because I was pretty tipsy at this point. After our meal, we decided to trek back home for a nap before going out with our guy friends. The best was that we had to go the bathroom really bad during our walk, so we snuck into a bar, used their bathroom, and snuck out. #WINNING. Then we trekked through Chinatown in order to get my 10,000 steps. We ended up getting about 15,000 steps from the whole day. It was kind of exhausting especially because we were tipsy.

Happy WIAW!

Did you celebrate national margarita day?
What is your drink of choice?