What I Ate Wednesday: Astoria & New York

Baked French toast WIAW

Breakfast: My day last Tuesday began with the indulgent, baked French toast, courtesy of my friend Emma. She’d made it that weekend for potluck brunch, which Kiyo and I hosted; hence we got to keep the leftovers! I added some frozen berries and with maple syrup, washed down with creamy coffee, it was an awesome start to my day.

tamarind close-up

Snack #1: As Maggie told me this weekend, she regularly observes in my WIAW posts that I always eat dessert in the morning! I forgot to take a picture of the four tamarind balls I ate, but this is what they looked like (image courtesy of Broward Palm Beach blog). Kiyo and I bought like 20 packs of them in St. Thomas because we’re both obsessed and that’s the only place I know to buy them.

WIAW quinoa with veggies

Lunch: I had an awesome, big bowl of red quinoa mixed with a lentil stew Kiyo made (it also had sweet potato, celery and spinach). I added about a tablespoon of blue cheese salad dressing, which gave it a nice (yet subtle) tangy taste. This was really tasty and filling, a great lunch that I’d make again (maybe with tahini next time instead of the salad dressing).


Snack #2: Someone brought in macarons from Macaron Cafe right across the street, so of course I had one (it was shiny and chocolate, I couldn’t resist!).

cookie dough quest WIAW

Snack #3: Yes, I was hungry again! The night before I went to hot yoga, so that’s my excuse this time (I know, there’s always some reason!). Before heading to my 75-minute vinyasa (not hot) yoga class, I ate this cookie dough Quest Bar. I was super skeptical of this bar since it’s “cookie dough,” and has no gluten, no added sugar, lots of fiber and protein, and almost no unrecognizable ingredients; it sounded too good to be true. However, it tasted great and I would definitely like to try their other flavors.

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Booze in the Virgin Islands

Cruzan on the shelves

Here’s another guest post from Zan, in honor of “Thirsty Thursday,” a weekly holiday I celebrated in college but have since become too old and dried up for. Tonight I plan on grocery shopping, re-parking my car and perhaps even cooking something to bring in with me to work for lunch tomorrow. Exciting, I know. So while I plan out my sober “adult” night, enjoy these musings on getting drunk in the Caribbean.

Shelves of booze

Casual drinking is a favorite Virgin Islands pastime, so no wonder there are quite a few producers of local intoxicant.

Cruzan stand

Rum is the most popular and well-known Caribbean liquor, and in the VI we are proud to distill Cruzan Rum on St. Croix (note from Val – to all you mainlanders out there who pronounce it “Cru-zan,” you’re doing it wrong. It’s “Cru-jen”). Dirt cheap within the VI, Cruzan sells handles of light and dark rum for $5 or $6 and liters of flavored rum for $7. They have a whole arsenal of flavors, 12 in all, with raspberry and mango the favorite with younger people because it is the tastiest if you are chugging straight from the bottle. Recently they just released key lime and passion fruit. Since the drinking age in the VI is 18, you practically grow up on Cruzan Rum- they even hand you a promotional flavored-rum shot when you step off the airplane.

Local VI Beer

A few years ago smaller beer and rum operations started opening, my favorite of which is St. John Brewers.

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Dairy Haus Soft Serve, Saratoga Springs

Daryhaus Saratoga Ice Cream

On our way out of Saratoga this summer, we stopped for soft serve ice cream at the beloved Dairy Haus. A small stand right on the side of the road, they have swing seats set up nearby under shaded tents, making it the perfect place to stop for a summer treat.

Their homemade hard ice cream is made daily on the premises using only the finest, freshest ingredients available. They also offer soft serve, Italian ice and sherbet. Soft serve is always available in chocolate, vanilla or twist, as well as black raspberry, lemon or swirl. Kiyo got a tall black raspberry / lemon swirl and loved it.

photo 1

I never go for fruity flavors when it comes to ice cream and this time, I kept it classic: chocolate / vanilla swirl with rainbow sprinkles. I love that crunch and texture they give the amazingly smooth soft serve.

Dairy Haus

Location: 476 Maple Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 Phone: (518) 580-0102

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Room-Service Breakfasts at Sofitel, Los Angeles

Sofitel Hotel Coffee & Juice

For work this summer we had to travel to Los Angeles for a few days, and we worked hard. So hard, in fact, that we saw pretty much two locations the entire time: the site of the event we were there for, and the hotel we were staying in: the Sofitel. This meant many room service meals, which were a bit hit-or miss. My favorite meal they served in-room was breakfast.

Sofitel LA Room Service - Berries

First off, the coffee came with stevia, which was a delightful surprise. Secondly, coffee also came with a shot of fresh-pressed juice, such as watermelon celery or other great combinations. Starting off the day with that refreshing shot along with my caffeine was fantastic.

Sofitel Eggs Benedict

On another morning I ordered a full breakfast of eggs Benedict (which was ok but nothing memorable). What I liked about it is that a breakfast plate comes with juice (I had grapefruit) and either coffee or hot cocoa. We ordered coffee and hot cocoa, and mixed them to make mocha. It was quite delicious.



Lasagna Day at Buca di Beppo, New York

3 Lasagnas at Buca di Beppo

Kiyo and I had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate National Lasagna Day this Monday at the new Buca di Beppo in New York City. Located in the heart of Times Square, this is their 99th location, and the third one I’ve been to (the other two are Honolulu and Minneapolis).

Buca di Beppo Gorgonzola salad

We began dinner with house wine and two salads. The first included Granny Smith apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola tossed with mixed lettuce in Italian vinaigrette. The toppings were perfect together; crunchy, sweet, spiced and smooth.

Buca di Beppo mixed salad

The second was less exciting: mixed lettuce tossed in signature Italian vinaigrette with red onions, pepperoncini peppers and black and green olives. I preferred the toppings on the first salad but the vinaigrette tasted better for some reason on the second salad. It was very acidic, in a good way, and Kiyo and I both kept refilling our plates.

Buca di Beppo appetizers

There were only three people at our table, so we ate a lot! The kind waitstaff served us three appetizers:

  • Mini meatballs, made with Italian cheese blend, sauteed in homemade marinara, served with house-baked Italian bread
  • Fried calamari served with homemade spicy marinara sauce
  • Bruschetta: roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onions, basil-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar, served with Parmesan crostinis

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