Thursday, March 29, 2012

Notable Quotable

"Our problems can't be solved by eliminating each and every outer cause. Nevertheless, people everywhere take this approach: 'It's the world's fault; it's too rough, too sharp, too alien. If I could get rid of these outer woes, I'd be happier. 

Shantideva says: If you want to protect your feet, wear shoes; and if you want to protect yourself from the world's provocation, tame your mind. The antidote to misery is to stay present." 

--Pema Chödrön

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Suki Body Velvet Moisturizing Cream

I'm a nazi with my face care regime who have never once gone to sleep with my make up on and without slathering on toner, serum, eye cream and moisturizer. Never. Not even during my reckless youth days where I tumbled into my apartment half drunk and bleary-eyed. The same can't be said with body care with moisturizer though. It's random as best and mostly forgotten despite my insanely dry skin. I go through phases where I would be super zealous with a new body butter, only to give in to sloth and abandon the regime three or four days later.

Then came a new record of applying moisturizer daily without fail for the last two weeks and counting with my new Suki Body Velvet Moisturizing Cream I bought while I was in New York. It started off as a necessity for  combating the dry Big Apple air with a body moisturizer. Given my fondness for Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser and everything Suki for that matter, it was a no brainer choice when I saw Whole Food Market stocking Suki products.

Again, Suki didn't disappoint! This concoction of aromatic body moisturizer combines the antioxidant properties of green tea and chamomile extracts with the moisturizing effect of Shea Butter to soothe away bumps and dryness. True to its name, it has a light and fluid texture that melts into the skin for a velvety after feel. Comfortable to wear and free of any sticky after feel. The best part? It comes in a pump bottle and that's a winner in my book because I realize the likelihood of my continuous usage of a body products depends on its ease of dispensing. So pump bottle trumps tubs and jars for sure.

With my diligent routine comes a problem and it's the fact that Pure Tincture (they stock the Suki range) doesn't seem to carry the Velvet Moisturizing Cream! Maybe I'll have to resort to online order once it runs out. Well, IF it runs out that is, should my diligence in a daily routine continues!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New York Minute Part 5: Savory Sensations

This is the last of my New York post and it's all about food, again. It's hard not to talk about food when I was there on a food tour for work. Let's just say I've never had so much food in such a short period of time. A foie gras goose being forced fed could be a way to describe my first world pain at one point and I was so stuffed the mere mention of food and the sight of it made me nauseous. First world pain at its glory. My significantly decreased appetite post NYC is probably due to the "reserve" I stocked up while I was there.

Every visit to the US reminds me that I have no idea how Americans can eat so much food with every serving portion of anything and everything bigger than the size of my face. Other than the leftover, I was also left with a nagging suspicion that perhaps America is single-handedly responsible for the world's hunger....not entirely I know but close enough nonetheless.

One thing I notice about New Yorkers is that they love their American food of burgers and steak just like how we Asians love our carbs of rice and noodles. Even in a cosmopolitan like NYC, non-American cuisine like Japanese or Thai places aren't as commonplace as I thought they would be. Definitely available though American food is still the bread and butter, quite literally at times. Singapore, on the other hand, is actually a better melting pot of international cuisines.

Anyhow, I've posted on sweets and desserts earlier and here's for the savory food fan on the places I went to. 

Saxon & Parole
316 Bowery at Bleecker Street

Apologies on the lack of photos as my camera went flat but Saxon & Parole is my favorite among all the rest of the places I went to in New York City. Things to try: Razor Clam Egg Salad, Miso Glazed Bone Marrow and Brussels Sprouts leaves. I had the best Brussels Sprout there cos they deep fried the leaves with a special sauce. If you still don't like your greens with their amazing Brussels Sprout, I really give up. I'll definitely go back there the next time I'm in NYC.

The Standard Grill
848 Washington Street, 13th Street
If you love your American food, The Standard Grill offers some pretty good American grubs. It was a breakfast adventure I had and my omelet was as awesome as their old school decorations.

Lovely old school deco scored some major brownie points with me

Cutest salt and pepper shakers found!

Super sized omelet with roasted potatoes and toast. Their brioche with eggs are apparently yummy too

Dean & Deluca New York Times Cafe
620 8th Avenue
I LOVE Dean & Deluca Cafe! Right next to the New York Times office, they have all my favorite things I can eat on a daily basis, namely salads of different types and lots of amazing soups! I had the privilege of a sampling session of their salads, soups, breads and sandwiches. I only wish I had four stomachs like a cow to take them all in though cos it was way too much food! I can't wait for them to be available in Singapore at Orchard Central 4th floor in June! Yes, the Dean & Deluca in Singapore will have prepared food available too and you'll see part of their prepared food selection in Singapore for sure!

Now this is more like the kind of stuff I dig!

My favorite drink Kombucha. Some awesome fermented drinks bursting with flavors and antioxidants. I dunno what's in there but I know it's full of goodness and taste good. Pity it's not available in Singapore

Crab cakes! Guess what? It'll most likely be available in Singapore soon when the Dean & Deluca here opens in June! Now go thank Jesus for that!

80 Spring Street
You will never go wrong at Balthazar. This SOHO favorite is forever brimming with people for breakfast especially on weekends. Make sure you make reservation. They serve up French food with an American twist but you'll still get good old french classics like Confit de Carard at dinner . By the time I got there, it was my last day and I was too stuffed for anything heavy, so I had fresh yogurt and homemade granola. That hit the right spot just perfectly. 

Even the granola is bigger than my can't escape super sized in the US!

Egg Cocotte was apparently lovely

Lombardi's Pizza
32 Spring Street
This is the BEST pizza in New York City in my book. Traditional and thin-crusted perfection, Lombardi's been declared a national historic pizzaria and is on the Pizza Hall of fame. You just have to try it for yourself cos any other attempt to describe it just wouldn't do any justice. It's as good as it gets without going to Italy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

STOP Deforestation and save the Orang Utan!

I think this is a bit too dark and tragic for a Monday but it has to be shared. It brought me to tears! Every year, acres and acres of rainforest in Indonesia is burnt and destroyed to make way for Palm Oil vegetation, ruining the homes of Orang Utan. Read the full story here. No Palm Oil for me cos it's really bad for the environment! Buy only ethical products people! I swear I feel more for animals than human beings :( If only the human race stop trashing the planet!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New York Minute Part 4: Shopping the Big Apple

I'm proud of myself. I didn't burn a hole in my pocket in New York. I guess the consolation for having a short trip there is that the limited amount of time available for my free and easy excursion also limited the opportunities for me to swipe the plastic. But since not buying anything at all for remembrance sake while traveling is bordering on being illegal, I did what I consider as minimal damage. If you're hoping to see truckloads of shopping, then I'm sorry as this post is probably gonna be a let down because I'm proud to announce that I'm really a reformed shoppaholic.

Anyhow, you might have already seen the limited edition Tsumori Chisato for Laduree candle in my previous post and just because you asked nicely, here's the rest of my haul. Nothing crazy.

The first few things I bought ended up in my stomach as they were a couple of cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. After Magnolia and with one cupcake in one hand, another in my mouth and teeth stained with chocolate, I stomped my way to Satya Jewelry at West Village down Bleecker Street between Christopher Street and 10th Street. Viola! I got myself the turquoise Rest Assured Bracelet from their Spring 2012 collection with a delicate gold plated chain and lotus design printed on a small disc.

Satya Jewelry has been a favorite since I saw it being featured in Yoga Journal 8 years ago or so. What I love about the brand is that on top of beautiful jewelry, they're a philanthropic organization with The Satya Foundation , donating part of their profit to children around the world. Their creations combine colorful semi-precious stones with sacred symbols (like the Om, lotus, Star of David etc) and clean lines for a collection of classic elegant jewelries you can wear individually or in layers. I'm a sucker for stackable jewelries and Satya has been doing them way before the whole layering craze started. With my new resolution to spend wisely, I had a major battle trying to pick just one thing to buy. Such first world pain! Turquoise tends to win in any semi-precious stones contest due to my affinity with it. So a turquoise bracelet it was and how I love it.

If there's one shop in New York I could have in Singapore, it would be the Whole Food Market. Selling all things organic and wholesome, Whole Food Market is one of my favorite spots in NYC where you can pick up organic everything, from fresh produce, prepared food (like salads and such), flowers, toiletries and home stuff. It's essentially a giant organic supermarket and I took the opportunity to pick up some organic toiletries which are slightly cheaper in the US.

  • Suki Body Velvet Moisturizing Cream
  • Burt's Bees Radiance Night Cream
  • Aubrey's Organic Moisturizing Mask with Sea Buckthorn and Cucumber
  • Hemp Organics Lip Tint in Wine
Oops spot the odd one out! Yes, Nars Blusher in Orgasm was bought from the Sephora along Broadway. It's not clean make up as it's not organic but then I made an exception as it really is one of my favorite blushes. A corny friend said I "went down Broadway and bought myself some orgasm"....not funny.

Then here's the "other people's stuff" with chocolates for the office from the iconic fine food purveyor Dean & Deluca. Their SOHO flagship outlet at 560 Broadway is absolutely amazing with the best of everything you can get from a premium grocer. It would probably be the last time I need to buy Dean & Deluca's products from New York or their outlets in other countries cos Dean & Deluca is coming to Singapore this June. Amazeballs! I can't wait!

Yes that's very much it. Okay, I also bought quite a bunch of work out clothes from Lululemon which isn't shown here but it wasn't even that much to begin with. Many of my friends were surprised by my ability to restrain myself. Impressed much?

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    New York Minute Part 3: The High Line, The Met & Union Square

    "First World Pain" would be quite the right term to describe my new york trip. Jet lag, too little time and too little money too many things to buy aside, it's a first world pain to do short trip in New York because there's so much to do.

    Planning where to go in two days became an agonizing task that required great mental discipline to decide on something and stick to it without straying. The focus of a laser is a prerequisite to keep to the time allocated in a specific area and move on to schedule, while fighting the urge to linger longer with a constant onslaught of interesting and visually stimulating everything in sight.

    With a miserly two days free to myself under the influence of jet lag, I've done pretty well, covering new grounds and revisited old favorites, sweeping the entire Manhattan from downtown to uptown via the complicated Subway (which I strangely think is a piece of cake). Among the many places I walked through, the three that made it to my musing list by providing the most pleasure were The High Line, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts and Union Square Farmers' Market.

    The High Line
    Being very much the only new ground that I covered this trip, The High Line was one I enjoyed thoroughly. Stretching from Ganesvoort Street near the 14th Street in the Meat Packing District all the way to the 34th street, The High Line is an urban park built on an abandoned old railway track. A stellar example of recycling old spaces and preserving heritage while breathing a new least of life into dated urban landscape.

    Fully opened in August 2011,  The High Line is an unconventional walk in an elevated park above the city, spotting a partial view of the Hudson River to boost. It is now a favorite among many New Yorkers to chill, relax, sunbathe and soak in on a slice of garden in the Big Apple of urban jungle. The only shame was that the flowers weren't blooming when I was there since the plants are at their best and most colorful during Spring and Summer, but it was totally enjoyable nonetheless!

    Sun deck near the 14th for some sun-worshipping

    An amphitheater near along The High Line with a viewing gallery to the road below. A favorite hangout for many New Yorkers

    A partial but still beautiful view of the Hudson River near the 14th street stretch

    Part of the old railway track that used to transport meat around the Meat Packing district in the olden days is still clearly visible

    No time wasted to catch some sun at the first sign of Spring and Summer. A respite from the bitter winter

    Graffiti wall is not only legal, but part of its soul

    An amazing bird house structure with colorful fruits makes an instant live art installation

    The Met
    An old turf that will forever be a favorite is the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Being the largest museum on the Northern Hemisphere, it is said that the Met is so extensive that if you spend one day every week to carefully look at its exhibits, you can't finish looking through everything in your life time (according to my New Yorker aunt). Fact or Fiction, I haven't the honor to find out but I know that to attempt sharing all the photos I snapped during my fleeting visit might overload and crash my macbook.

    The European painting section on the second floor will forever be my favorite spot in the Met and I took the chance to sit in the middle of a few different galleries surrounded by magnificent work of European masters like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet and so many more. It's really not every day that you get surrounded by stunning painting and every visit to the Met will be a special one no less. You simply can never, ever, get enough. At least I know I wouldn't and that much I'm sure.

    The famous steps outside the Met. Fans of Gossip Girl and Blair Waldorf would definitely recognize those steps where Queen B sat in her throne

    Union Square
    Right smack in the middle of 14th street lies Union Square. It's a simple square on Tuesdays and Thursdays with garden benches and people hanging out but for the rest of the week, it's the Union Square Farmers' Market where indie farmers in New York (usually not from the city) sell their produce. Not only do you get the freshest flowers, produce and products, you meet the people who farm or make them, giving what you buy some much-needed provenance in the faceless age of hyper mart and mega mart.

    Being from a little island starved of such luxury, Union Square excites my senses every time. Food stuff and flowers aside, you see people playing chess everywhere. How I wish there's the equivalent of such lovely place in Singapore!

    Photos overloaded yet? That's it for now! Till the next post which is very soon.  Yes, I really have tons to show and share!

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    New York Minute Part 2: The Sweet Tooth Tour

    Eating up the Big Apple is a huge challenge. In a city where food is aplenty at every corner and nooks and crannies in every street, you'll never go hungry. The challenge is about how much you can fit in your stomach, especially when everything comes in jumbo American size! It's a case of "So much to eat, so little stomach space!"

    I've always been a savory food kind of person and not so much of a sweet tooth, but strangely, the first thing I went for when I hit NYC was to get some famous cupcakes from the famed Magnolia Bakery at The West Village cos oh my, how I love their cupcakes! And New Yorkers love their cupcakes! Cupcakes are serious business in New York!

    So off to the original Magnolia Bakery at 401 Bleecker Street I went (there are two more, one midtown and another uptown). By the subway of course! Real New Yorker style no less. Magnolia Bakery at Bleecker is always bustling with people and there's usually a queue outside but the wait isn't too long, averaging about 5 to 10 minutes max. Totally tolerable for the sake of their cupcakes.

    It's a tiny little dim shop (that's why it's so dark in the photos and I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures to begin with!) that's always flooded with people. Cakes on the right, cupcakes on the left and everything else in the center. The cupcakes section is self service. Pick up a box and plonk in what you want. Easy.

    Being the bakery that made red velvet cupcake famous, it's a crime to leave without the gorgeous Red Velvet. So Red Velvet and Chocolate cupcakes it was! Oh la la, it's divine! And that coming from someone who favors chips to cupcakes is quite something. It's moist, creamy and bursting with flavor.

    There's also a small patisserie that's been a favorite for me and my cousins. Lesser known but equally exquisite is Ceci Cela Patisserie at 55 Spring street. They have been serving up artisanal pastries for over 15 years and their lemon tart is phenomenal!

    The lack of photos of Ceci Cela pastries only means one thing. That it's too tasty and the lemon tart just disappeared into my mouth before my camera could capture any traces of it!

    From humble neighborhood bakeries, I made pilgrimage to the other end of the spectrum at Ladurée at 864 Madison Avenue. Ladurée needs no introduction with its world famous macarons from Paris. Other than France, they only have outlets in New York, London and Japan, so it's a must go for any macarons fanatics.

    Bright, colourful and cheery, Ladurée is a happy shop indeed. When you're feeling down, forget about the booze and go to Ladurée instead. The colorful macarons and pretty Parisian decorations are an instant perk me up!

    This season, Ladurée tied up with Japanese designer Tsumori Chisato to come up with a limited edition box design with Cherry Blossom inspiration. Other than sweet treats of macarons, the shop carries accessories such as tote bags, scarfs, perfumes and the oh so pretty candles! Resisting those can be quite a tall feat cos they look too precious.

    My loot? A box of macarons and a limited edition Tsumori Chisato Cherry Blossom Candles that are so beautiful I can just keep looking at them and go "Awww" and then Omnomnom!

    More on the Big Apple to come soon! I've got so much to share!


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