Movie Night

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It’s summer, and I still live at

home. As we roll and rattle down the

Mass Pike, in a car older than any of its

three passengers 150 miles from my own

suburbia, I watch as the tops of the trees

engulf the sky in the low dusk light

like stagnant black smoke, and I think

about how much bigger the sky looks here.

 

I’m listening to your laughter bounce from

the windshield to the backseat and back

again, and as per usual I don’t know what

you two find so funny but I can say with

absolute certainty all I want is to bottle your

giggles, film you cackling so hard there are

delicate lines of mascara tracing trails down

your cheeks, and to watch you both catch

moonlight between your fingertips forever.

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Goodnight

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It was there I

almost cried.

Barefoot

in the driveway

as always,

standing on just

my inner

six toes

so I could

kiss you

goodnight

through

the sticky

July air, my

arms wrapped

fully over your

neck, my calves

over-stretched

enough so

that six toes

became four,

then two, and

it was there

that you

told me you

loved me.

Throwback Thursday: Secret Sweets

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It’s not news that I’m so many levels of obsessed with the city of Boston. I’m really not sure why, as it’s pretty obvious that hardcore New York blood courses through my veins, but I can’t get enough of it. I think it’s beyond quaint, unpretentious but still gritty, inviting but full of tough love all at once. Back in March, my cousin Jamie and I went up for a girls weekend, and were lucky enough to be shown around by two native Bostonians.

They took us bar-hopping, and were determined to show us the itty bitty city’s little gems, like standing-only taverns and the wonder that is cans of Downeast Cider (which is brewed in Massachusetts!). But of all the places we stopped at on our “tour,” my favorite was Modern Pastry.

Modern Pastry is known as the rival to the infamous Mike’s Pastry in North End. Any cannoli flavor you could ever dream of exists between these two pastry shops alone. They’re both marvelous, but this really isn’t new information; the lines for Mike’s and for Modern Pastry are always out the door and down the block.

Here’s the secret: skip the line at Modern Pastry and walk straight towards the back of the bakery, where you’ll see a sign on the right-hand wall that looks like this:

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It’s not just decoration…

I was so in love the moment we walked downstairs.

love film reaction disney vintage

Basically me ^ GIF Credit: Giphy

There’s a hidden bar beneath Modern Pastry with ample seating. Feast your eyes upon the Boston paraphernalia decorating the walls, or anything that’s playing on their countless TVs. You can find your usual suspects on the drink menu, but they also have a full list of sweet pastry-themed cocktails (see the Boston Crème martini below, because how could I not?).

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The cherry on top of it all? You’ll also be given a menu of all the treats that are available upstairs. You can order any pastry your heart desires and someone will bring it down to you.

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Relationship Status: This cannoli.

No waiting, no lines, no crowds- just you, your martini, a cannoli, and some friends. It’s definitively what heaven must be like.

Just be careful about coming back upstairs with melted chocolate on your fingers, or those poor souls on the line down the block might get suspicious…


Modern Pastry

257 Hanover St

Boston, MA 02113

http://www.modernpastry.com/

 

Back To School

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LIM College tends to get lost in the sauce in the Hunger Games-esque battle that is New York City universities. With major players like FIT and NYU, it’s easy for it to go unnoticed. I personally don’t know anyone who goes to LIM, but I did get well-acquainted with their resident café, Pickler & Co.

The small café is a sandwich counter and a coffee bar snuggled inside of one of LIM’s Midtown buildings. There’s one big table, about eight chairs, three stools facing the old-fashioned windows, a classic sandwich shop menu, and that’s it.

I ordered a Chicken Tender Wrap: lettuce, chicken fingers, cheddar, honey mustard and a whole wheat wrap. The three people ahead of me and the two behind me (All actual adults on their lunch breaks, for some more context…) ordered exactly the same thing. It was the same kind of sandwich my college best friend and I used to get after a particularly bad week or a tough exam. A kind of comfort food, I suppose, except most of the food in our college cafeteria was one step above, if not equivalent to literal plastic (Admittedly, some days the nostalgia takes hold and I actually miss it…?). Pickler & Co.’s was the real deal.

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I ate the other half before remembering to take a picture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In the name of a real review, I ordered a coffee too (Really channeling my inner university student here because that would make it my second cup of the day, whoops?). Nothing crazy, just an iced coffee, but a good one. So good, in fact, that I entertained the idea of revamping my mini top coffee shop list. You have a choice to flavor it, if that kind of thing suits your fancy. I’ve been told September means pumpkin-flavored things are socially acceptable again. This one was Caramel…

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Thanks, Pickler & Co., for taking me back to my NYC student roots for a hot second. I can’t possibly think of a better use for my lunch breaks.


Pickler & Co.

216 E 45th St

New York, NY 10017

http://www.picklernyc.com/

Throwback Thursday: This Happened

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I lowkey cried when this came out but I was (and still am) very, very proud.

Since I started working with The Turn It Around Project in February 2016, I’ve been afforded a few awesome opportunities to share my story and hear others share theirs. The most unique and humbling of those, however, was the chance to be in this video!

The video was shot in mid-June in Tompkins Square Park as part of a project with HooplaHa, a website that pushes out only positive and uplifting content on all of their platforms, which I believe is so necessary in the world we live in today. Together with Turn It Around’s founder, Abbe, and two incredibly fun members of the HooplaHa team, we spent the day chatting away and doing a substantial amount of giggling.

I don’t really talk about being bullied as a teenager or about my social anxiety because I prefer to try not to use it as an excuse for my actions, if possible. When I started university in 2012, I made it a quiet, personal project of mine to get comfortable talking about things I struggle with and being who I am. It’s a project I am still working on today: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Thanks to The Turn It Around Project, I am that much closer to being the person I have always wanted to be. I am part of a community that is proud of progress in general. It will always be a privilege to be a part of the team, and the video is something I will cherish forever. Read the full story on HooplaHa here, and come join the movement with us here!

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All That & A Breakdancing Bunny

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A New York take on street food and street art from around the world? Sign me up. Immediately.

Vandal New York is the newest addition to Chef Chris Santos’s repertoire of fun restaurants. It exploded onto the scene with a frenzy of media attention, including a star-studded opening party. Naturally that would lead one to believe that the restaurant is geared solely for the pretentious New York partygoer types, but Vandal is so much more of a hidden gem than expected.

Foremost, I would have to say that Vandal’s menu is far tastier than that of its siblings, The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex. All three of the restaurants do some version of the shared tapas-style dishes with a twist, but Vandal’s menu reigns supreme. The clientele, atmosphere, and staff are also incredibly laid back. The servers are wearing Converse and sensible black wedges, and welcome you with a smile instead of scanning your outfit.

Take your pick; everything is great. Vandal is most famous for the Crispy Bao Buns. I say the Knish Reubens should be their claim to fame, because how do you even get corned beef to taste that good? Also the Cacio E Pepe Arancini, because it’s a ball of fried pasta with Parmesan sauce. The skirt steak with spicy chorizo fried rice was the table favorite. Although you might not want to, remember that it’s intended to be shared. Eat the spicy rice last. It burns your tastebuds but it’ll hurt so good.

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Crispy Bao Buns

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Knish Reubens

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Clockwise from the left: Thai Papaya Rolls, Sticky Rice Buns, Fish Tacos, Arancini

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Skirt Steak & Spicy Chorizo Rice

As for dessert: Tell them it’s your birthday because free chocolate cupcake (with delicious pretty icing). Order one of everything, except for the Irish coffee milkshake- order that for yourself and don’t share it with anyone else. Order two because they’re adorable (or I could just take the extra off your hands for you, if that’s cool…).

There really aren’t any drawbacks, except maybe that drinks are expensive. But with all of this other incredible stuff happening, it doesn’t even matter.

And on your way out, take a peek at the infamous Vandal bunny. He’s eleven feet tall and has his own Instagram. Give him a kiss for me and tell him I’ll see him again real soon!


Vandal New York

199 Bowery

New York, NY 10002

http://www.vandalnewyork.com/

 

Vegan Burgers

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I know what you’re thinking.

Before you get your panties in a bunch over the potential that someone in New York City ruined burgers by making them out of vegetables and other strange healthy things, just hear me out.

Other bloggers rave about by CHLOE., a cafe in the West Village. The storefront is precious, and everything on the menu is vegan. In addition, nothing contains cholesterol, added preservatives and/or artificial flavors, and some menu items are gluten-free. My cousin, who is vegetarian, came to NYC for a visit, giving us both the best excuse to try it.

Like any typical burger joint, you order at the counter and then grab a seat to wait for your food to be ready. Seats are a hot commodity at by CHLOE., and the line is almost always out the door. I wanted to put their Classic Burger to the test, while my cousin went with the Internet’s favorite, the Guac Burger. We also tested the air-baked fries.

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The Classic Burger is a tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut conglomeration. It comes on a potato bun with pickles, onion, spinach and a ketchup made from beets. Though thinner than your typical burger, if you didn’t warn me that it wasn’t made out of meat, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. The only big difference was a strong flavor from the pickles, which was still great. The air-baked fries are not as crisp as your regular French fries, but they may actually taste better. Though they are a bit soft, we still found ourselves wondering how we finished all of our fries so fast…

No worries, old-fashioned burgers and fries have not been destroyed. In fact, the vegan versions very much do their counterparts justice. I’m intrigued, obsessed, and I need to go back for more. So basically, if you’re looking to switch it up and get a little adventurous, come with, because by CHLOE. is the place.


by CHLOE.

185 Bleecker St.

New York, NY 10012

http://bychefchloe.com/

Other People’s Picks

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Usually I’m not a huge fan of people who make better recommendations than I do, but this pick was just too good.

My friend decided that we were venturing out of Manhattan for dinner, and led me to Surf Bar. It’s quite literally a hole in the wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, graffitied with stickers. Once you slip inside the tiny doorway, you are greeted by tiki lights and a sand-covered floor, suitable for removing your shoes and digging your toes into (I’m pretty sure actually removing your shoes is a no-go, but you get the point. Wear sandals if you’re really feeling it- I was!).

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Obsessed.

Drinks were first priority. I went with a regular mojito, while my friend got his blended. His was bright green, giving the illusion that he was drinking a green smoothie of sorts. Thumbs up from both of us, although I never got to taste his- he liked it so much he wasn’t down to share.

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And while you’re pretending that you’re knee-deep in the water somewhere, you’re good to go with any of their tropical dishes. All are (shockingly) reasonably priced. The fish burrito, though not quite picture-worthy, is the perfect complement to the over-sized mojito, as was my friend’s Mahi Mahi burger. The standout are the yucca fries (most of which I stole off of my friend’s plate). I’m still not clear on what yucca is, but when fried it tastes like giant steak fries. They are a must.

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Pre-me eating almost ALL of those fries that weren’t even technically mine…

Williamsburg may be home to every cool, Instagram-worthy hole-in-the-wall on the planet, but I will readily get behind a place that puts you on island time in the middle of the busiest city in the world. The place was eclectic, the food was quality, and I can’t afford to just jet off to the Caribbean as of yet, and this more than filled the void. Go.


Surf Bar

139 N. 6th St.

Brooklyn, NY 11222

http://brooklynsurfbar.com/

 

Healthy Heaven

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So for the remainder of my D.C. weekend, my cousin and I tried keep ourselves under control. Health food is one of my favorites, so I was totally not opposed when my cousin told me there was local health food café I needed to try before heading back home.

I expected a really tiny place with the usual suspects on the menu: smoothies, salads, and weird substitutes for meat. I was completely wrong. True Food Kitchen is located in what is known as the Mosaic District, an up-and-coming recreation area in VA.  It’s a massive restaurant with huge windows, ample seating, and a super expansive menu. Totally floored is an understatement.

From pressed juice cocktails to sweet smoothies, I had so much trouble picking a drink that I sent the wait staff away from our table upwards of three times because I couldn’t make up my mind. I shied away from the matcha, a sister to green tea, because if you ask me, I honestly think it tastes like dirt. Many of my cousins, however, could drink it all day (To each his/her own…).  I got a Rise & Shine smoothie. It was a much prettier, much more delicious combination of sea buckthorn, coconut milk, honey, pear, carrot and ginger. Though I didn’t really know what buckthorn was, my smoothie tasted mostly like a creamsicle and I don’t think anything will ever sufficiently match it.

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*drools*

It just got more epic from there. My healthy, amazing-looking spin on lasagna came in a skillet, while my cousin munched on vegetarian miso lettuce wraps (which I tried and found to be surprisingly awesome, by the way). The only thing different about my lasagna from the average lasagna was that the pasta was spinach noodles, and True Food uses ground turkey instead of red meat. You also don’t feel like you might explode after eating it. Otherwise, it was just as good, if not better, than any regular lasagna I’ve ever eaten. Most menu items function in the same manner. Though some get pretty vegetarian-y and a little exotic, most items simply swap out an unhealthy ingredient or two and replace it with something less awful for you (Never fear, meat-eaters and gluten-lovers, not everything on the menu lacks protein and carbs!). Win, win, win all around.

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True Food has even revolutionized dessert. My cousin insisted that we had to get the flourless chocolate cake, which was a stellar choice. I’m pretty sure it’s made with just almond butter and cocoa. It also comes bathed in caramel sauce with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream (both of which happen to be entirely gluten-free and vegetarian…). Like, what? My mind was just blown, and my taste buds are thrilled to pieces. Can I live here?

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My cousin waiting so patiently for me to finish taking pictures…

True Food has tons of United States locations, listed here. They’re also opening a whole bunch of new locations in the next few months, including one in my home state.

My body is so ready.


True Food Kitchen
Mosaic District
2910 District Ave #170 Mosaic District
Fairfax, VA 22031

http://www.truefoodkitchen.com/

 

DC Eats

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My most recent bus ticket purchase sent me down to Washington D.C. to go exploring for the weekend. What can I say, I’m a sucker for really long bus rides… and trains… and airplanes, for that matter… (OK, I just really like transportation. There’s a potential that an eight-year-old boy lives inside my brain, though that is still to be determined.) Anyway, I got myself a wonderful tour guide (my cousin) who was also down to show me her favorite places to eat in this quirky, colorful city.

After napping for most of the ride, I almost literally rolled off the bus and into Tryst Café, so my cousin and I could appropriately caffeinate and catch up. It’s the kind of place I’d be spending lots of time in if I lived in the area. It’s cute, kitschy, and there’s lots of couches and chairs that intentionally don’t match; a nerdy, caffeinated college student’s dream, basically.

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The first priority was, as always, coffee. An iced latte with almond milk is pretty much my go-to, but Tryst’s is next level because they decorate the plate with animal crackers. My cousin and I were PUMPED.

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It’s just so pretty!

We’re both (trying to be) health nuts too, so we created our own salads for lunch. There were bean sprouts and it cost me several dollars less than it does in New York City. DC killin’ it already.

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My only complaint would be that the staff wasn’t too cool about how long my cousin and I were taking. Sorry guys, we weren’t ready to give up our corner spot- we had quite a few stories we had to catch up on!

A milkshake should always promptly follow a salad, because they totally balance each other out anyway (so you can see how well that whole healthy thing goes…). My cousin chose Ted’s Bulletin, a 1920’s-themed chain restaurant with a few different locations in DC and its surrounding suburbs. They are known for their homemade Pop Tarts and other sweet treats, all of which are displayed in the window and along the entrance. They have a full menu, but we went directly for the shakes.

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You have a choice: sweet or spiked. I went with spiked. My pick was a Peppermint Junior, which is a mint chocolate concoction with peppermint schnapps. It comes in an old-fashioned glass and they give you the excess in one of those antique-y metal cups.  Let’s play a quick game of Never Have I Ever: never have I ever been in a restaurant where they voluntarily give you extra milkshake (Also, my cousin and I were all “this is cool, but there’s no way we’ll still have room for this.” Needless to say, we ate the excess and those words, too.)

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I happily drank ALL of this. 

If only I were able to spend all my weekends munching my way through a new city…