I eat: From OC to LA

October was a crazy month. My birthday, a wedding, a half marathon, and almost a house! Even though my birthday was at the beginning of the month, we continued the celebration a few weeks later with dinner in LA with B and P.

On the way up to LA, we stopped for lunch at Anaheim Packing District, which is basically a large food court. I love this concept as it allows me to try a variety of things without having to drive to and park at different locations. We circled the entire food court before stopping at our first destination: Kettlebar. In order to not get toooo full, we shared a pan roast and mussels. We continued with two of the most popular items of the whole place: poutine from The Kroft and popsicles from Pop Bar. Given their popularity and the rave reviews, I wasn’t impressed. The poutine was overly salty and I’m just not a big fan of dipped popsicles, or maybe dipped anything. My green tea popsicle had a really bitter taste, his hazelnut was OK.

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Another stout that’s yummy!

The highlight of our day trip to LA was dinner at Maruhide Uni Club, which I’ve wanted to try for a while now. If you love uni like I do, this is the place for you! They have uni EVERYTHING! B & P recommended the uni club don and uni cream pasta. The uni club don even came with soup that had pieces of uni in it. We were really tempted to bring some uni home but decided against it. SD has some pretty good uni options anyway.

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We ended the night by checking off another place on my must try list: HoneyMee. The ice cream is good on its own and the honeycomb adds just the right amount of sweetness. The green tea milkshake is delicious as well!

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Verdicts:
Kettlebar 4/5
The Kroft 3/5
Pop-Bar 3/5
Maruhide Uni Club 4/5
HoneyMee 4/5

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I eat: Mélisse

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Let’s go back. Way back… Ok, maybe not that far. Back to 2010 when Henry and I dined at Melisse for my 26th birthday. Even though I’m a little fuzzy on the details (I can barely remember what I did last week :P), I’ve considered Melisse one of my top ten restaurants ever since.

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Bread and Amuse Bouche

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Seard Foie Gras, Yellow and White Peach, Hibiscus-Rosemary

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Egg Caviar, Poached Egg, Lemon-Chive Crème Frâiche, American Ostetra Caviar

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Lobster Bolognese, Fresh Cappelini, Black Truffles, Basil

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Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, Cuttlefish, Sea Urchin, Nasturtium

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Sonoma Lamb and Sausage, “Ratatouille”, Red Pepper, Jus d’ Agneau

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Liberty Duck Breast and Confit Leg, Figs, Forrono Beets, Jus d’ Epice

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Millefeuille of Fruit Rouge, Vanilla Ice Cream

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Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mocha Malt Ice Cream, Red Berry-Hibiscus Consommé

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Petits Fours

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I would describe our meal as refined simplicity. Each dish showcased individual ingredients that combined beautifully. Melisse is worthy of it’s two Michelin stars.

Verdict: 4.5/5
Mélisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

It’s My Birthday And I’ll Do What I Want To

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I knew exactly where I wanted to celebrate my 27th birthday.

NYC.

I purchased our plane tickets 4 months ago and had been counting down ever since. Now that it’s over, I feel empty inside and have nothing to look forward to until our snowboarding trip to Utah next March. Le sigh. #firstworldproblems

To save money, I took a chance and booked a room for Henry and I at the Verve Hotel. The hotel received great reviews on both Yelp and Trip Advisor so it made my decision a little easier to make. The Verve Hotel is located across the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City and is within a 5 minute walk of 3 subway stations: Queens Plaza (E, M, R), Queensboro Plaza (7, N, Q) and 39th Ave (N, Q). By staying in a hotel one subway stop from Manhattan, I saved us about $600. Awesome, right? I saved us even more money since we took the AirTrain/Subway instead of a taxi from JFK. The AirTrain cost $5 and took us to the E line (Sutphin Blvd/Archer Ave). From there, we used our unlimited 7-day Metro pass and took the E line to Queens Plaza. A taxi ride would have easily cost $50+.

As with all the trips I plan, this one revolved heavily around food. I shouldn’t even say that anymore since it’s basically a given.

Our first meal in NYC was chicken and rice at halal cart (53rd and 6th). It has NEVER, EVER disappointed me. I love it so much. We even picked up two plates on our last night to bring home!

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mmMmmm… white sauce

We also had a delicious brunch at Shopsin’s, a little shop located in the Essex Street Market.

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Tip: The menu is HUGE so look it over online and have a general idea of what you want before you arrive at Shopsin’s. Oh, and taking pictures is frowned upon (yes, the cook actually shook his head at me), but I did it anyway.

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Oyster scramble (CS10) and Blisters on my Sister (Mexican)

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Mac and Cheese Pancakes w/ Bacon .. UHHHMAZING

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was ride a bike around Central Park. I guess the 4th time’s the charm since the weather finally cooperated with me!

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We rented bikes from Bike and Roll (Columbus Circle location). A full day rental costs $44 and a “day pass” costs $49. With a day pass, you are allowed to return the bike at another Bike and Roll location. This was a great option for us since I wanted to bike down to Battery Park City.

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A quick pit stop at Luke’s Lobster for lunch…

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… before riding along the Hudson River and finding this …

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I really thought the obstacle course was drawn by Bike and Roll! It was actually for a kid’s event the previous week. LOL! 😀

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After a 14 mile bike ride, we treated ourselves to gelato from L’arte del Gelato. SOOO GOOD!

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Mokaccino, Mascarpone, Pistacchio

Since we’ve already visited the Met and AMNH, we decided to check out the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

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Our day passes from Bike and Roll were also good for $5 off the All-Access Pass ($35) at the Intrepid, which included general admission, audio tour and 1 simulator ride (general admission itself is $24). Head sets were not provided with the audio tour. Instead, you held up the device to your ear and listened as you would with a cell phone. Some would probably find this tiring and annoying, but I didn’t really care too much. I only felt inconvenienced when I wanted to listen and take pictures at the same time.

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Did I mention that I love planes?

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TBM-3E Avenger and FJ-3 Fury

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Flight Deck

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F-9J Cougar and F-11F Tiger

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F-14 Tomcat and A-12 (precursor to SR-71 Blackbird)

A birthday trip wouldn’t be complete without a birthday dinner, right? Well, make that two.

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Marea and Eleven Madison Park

Thanks, Henry! ♥

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NYC Eats & Activities (+our verdict):
Verve Hotel, 4/5
Halal Cart, 53rd & 6th, 5/5
Shopsin’s, 4/5
NYC Bike & Roll, 4/5
Luke’s Lobster, 4/5
USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, 4/5
L’arte del Gelato, 4/5
Doughnut Plant, 4/5
Laduree, 4.5/5
Shake Shack, 4.5/5