Category Archives: restaurant

My First Trip to NYC

For someone who has never lived in a big city before, I really do love them. I think it has something to do with my introverted nature. I feel like big cities balance out my personality or something. So I like to head into Toronto frequently, which is the closest big city to me. But New York City is in a league of its own. I literally could not wrap my head around how big – and tall – it was!

NYC skyline

There was so much I wanted to see on my first trip to NYC that we ended up making a pretty packed itinerary for ourselves. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw some of my posts about our trip, but today I want to relive it on the blog by chatting about what I ate, did, and drank!

NYC-eat

I’ll start with one of my favourite parts of the trip – the food, duh. For me this trip was as much about the restaurants as it was about the sightseeing. And it’s not just because I like to eat (true as that might be), it’s also because I feel like I get such a good grasp on the culture of a city through its food.

H&H Midtown Bagels East

So naturally we started with its bagels. For our first lunch we hit up H&H Midtown Bagels East, which had a fantastic selection of fillings, although I wasn’t crazy about the bagels themselves (I’ve yet to have a bagel better than JC’s Bagels in my hometown!).

New York pizza was also an iconic meal we knew we had to partake in. So on our third morning after seeing the 9/11 memorial site and the Statue of Liberty, we took a quick jaunt over to Brooklyn for a meal at Grimaldi’s thanks to recommendations from friends and family. We had a custom pizza which ended up being overpriced IMO, but it was still pretty tasty and a relatively cheap meal for NYC.

grimaldis-pizza-NYC

But the standout meal of the trip for both me and John was Lafayette where I had the most mindblowingly delicious duck bolognese pasta. If there was every a meal that would cause me to go reenact When Harry Met Sally (you know the scene I’m talking about) in a restaurant, this would be it.

Lafayette Grand Cafe: Duck bolognese pasta with fried rosemary

Other notable eats were crostini at Fig & Olive, this insane plate of potatoes and vegetables covered in cheese at Raclette, huevos rancheros at The Smith (although thumbs down to their imposter French toast), and an acai bowl at Two Hands. I also had my first nut-free ice cream parlour experience at A La Mode Shoppe. For most kids, going out for ice cream is just your average Friday night. For me, it was non-existent because of my allergies. So yeah, this experience was a pretty big deal to me! And a delicious one, my goodness.

A La Mode Shoppe ice cream

NYC-do

We did more than just eat in NYC though – we also spent a ton of time walking everywhere. By the end of each day our feet were so tender we could barely drag ourselves back to our hotel room. And then we woke up and did it all over the next day. Honestly I had such a blast just walking through the neighbourhoods and soaking them in.

me-and-john-nyc

But we also hit up some hot spots like the Chelsea Market, a smorgasbord of restaurants and food stands offering everything from lobster to noodles to doughnuts. I grabbed some grub at Los Tacos No. 1 as well as a chocolate ganache cupcake from the nut-free bakery Eleni’s.

los-tacos-no-1

To get to the market, we walked the High Line, a stretch of old railway converted into a walkway above the city. It was lined with greenery and had gorgeous views of the city on the one side and the Hudson River on the other. If you love walking with good views, I also recommend walking the Battery Park City Esplanade along the Hudson River.

High Line, New York City

Thanks to John’s parents we also had tickets to see Wicked, which I really enjoyed. The music wasn’t all that catchy to me, but I loved the storyline and seeing how it was woven into the story of The Wizard of Oz. For a lower key evening the previous night we had reservations at the Comedy Cellar. This came highly recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint!

To escape the city for a while, we spent the better part of an afternoon wandering Central Park, which is so much bigger than I imagined! And I quickly learned that just because shoes are comfortable for an hour of walking, it doesn’t mean they’re comfortable for 20km of walking. Womp womp. Luckily we found a pharmacy close by to the park to stock up on band aids!

central-park-fountain

And of course I probably can’t talk about what to do in NYC without mentioning shopping! We found a lot of great spots from 5th Avenue to Soho to the Meatpacking District to Bleeker Street. Yep, we did a lot of shopping (well, I did). Tip: If your men are getting tired, drop them off at the cafe at Bloomingdales for a beer while you spend hours getting lost in their shoes!

NYC-drink

It’s not a vacation without a little bit of imbibing (bonus if it’s day drinking)! On our second day in the city I saw one of the most beautiful patios I’ve ever seen at The Standard Grill, which was reason enough to stop for a post-lunch drink. I just had a riesling, but I wish I’d ordered John’s lime and basil cocktail.

We were also lucky enough to get reservations on our last evening at PDT, although they weren’t easy to come by – John had to call them 53 times (not even joking) at the designated time before he actually got through! It was worth it for sure though – I think the special Pimm’s cocktail the bartender whipped up for me was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

the-standard-grill-patio

NYC, you were grand. Until next time!

Have you ever been to NYC? Have you been to any of these places? What were your favourite things to do, eat, and drink there?

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Ravine Vineyard

I don’t really have a lot to be stressed about in life right now. And yet, I am in fact stressed. It’s all small things, but between my job that seems to occupy more of my head space than it should, planning dinners for the week, fulfilling my duties as my friend’s maid of honour, finding time to do necessary chores like laundry, and going to physician appointments for my newly diagnosed tendonitis, I’m feeling the pressure.

But when I went to Niagara last weekend, that all seemed to melt away. It’s kind of hard to feel anything but carefree when you’re sitting on a breezy patio, looking out at a vineyard and sipping a glass of wine.

Ravine Vineyard

This scene took place at Ravine Vineyard, a quaint winery nestled in a residential area of St. David’s, Ontario. Mom and I stopped here for lunch following a morning of shopping at the outlets. After battling the deal-hungry crowds, the relaxing atmosphere of their patio was welcomed. As was their wine.

I had a 3 oz glass of their merlot. I’ve never seen 3 oz servings of wine offered before, but I love the idea of it so that you can try two or three different wines with a meal and still maintain your dignity by the end of it.

Ravine Vineyard

To start my mom and I both ordered the grilled and chilled vegetable salad with smoky tomato vinaigrette, brioche croutons, and Ontairo sheep’s feta. The flavours in this salad were the epitome of summer! Every August I get on this huge tomato, eggplant, and zucchini kick, so this dish was absolutely perfect.

Ravine Vineyard - Grilled Vegetable Salad

I followed it with the early summer vegetable risotto with shaved parmesan and truffle oil. It’s risottos like this one that make me realize how much I suck at making risotto. Mine tends to turn out sticky and mushy – but Ravine’s was slightly al dente with the perfect consistency!

Ravine Vineyard - Summer Vegetable Risotto

Mom’s main was also a winner. She had the daily soup special, which was cream of mushroom, served with a sour cream and chive muffin. It made me want to bake some savoury muffins at home. I’ll add that to my long list of things that probably won’t get done this century. I’ve been meaning to bake a cherry or blueberry crisp for weeks now and that still hasn’t happened!

Ravine Vineyard - Mushroom Soup and Chive Muffin

But anyways, that’s not worth stressing over. Instead I just want to chill out, relax, and smell the wine – er, roses. Good thing I have another winery trip planned for this weekend!

Ravine Vineyard

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Cascata Bistro

Disclaimer: I received a discount on my meal and a complimentary appetizer from Cascata Bistro. However, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

I live in Burlington, Ontario. About 50 minutes away my good friend lives in Guelph. And between us? Is 50 km of cows and fields. It has made seeing each other just a little difficult over the past year and a half.

Enter Cascata Bistro, a new restaurant in Carlisle, just north of Hamilton. It’s smack dab in the middle of us, making it the perfect meeting point. So we went there for lunch last week after I was invited by Angela Checchia, its owner, to try it out.

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

It’s located in a renovated house, which is my favourite kind of setting for a restaurant. It just feels so homey! The decor was a mix of cottagey and hip, with bright pops of colour and lots of unique decorative pieces. We ate out on the sun porch, which bright, cozy, and complete with a gas fireplace and heaters for winter – an inclusion that was much appreciated by this cold blooded gal.

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

Before our meal we were brought out a complimentary appetizer platter with warm marinated olives, crackers and bread sticks, piave (a cheese similar to Parmesan), sharp cheddar, and some cured meats. I don’t think I’d ever had the piave before, but it might have been my favourite part! I’m a sucker for a good cheese.

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

There was so much choice for our meal between their regular menu, their $11 lunch menu, and their daily features. Plus it all sounded so appealing – especially since it’s all made from scratch, using locally sourced food when possible. I had a hard time deciding, so I followed the advice of Angela and went for the flatbread with mushrooms, red peppers, red onions, Genoa salami, and mozzarella. I loved the crispy flatbread and the assortment of vegetables on this, but I found the mild flavour of the Genoa salami got lost underneath it all. That didn’t matter too much though, since it was delicious even without its flavour!

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

My friend had the Marianna sandwich, which was stuffed with chicken, roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and Cascata aioli. She gave it two thumbs up!

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

The food was great, but I think my favourite thing about Cascata Bistro is its homey and welcoming atmosphere. It almost feels like I’m a guest at Angela’s house rather than a customer. This is what will bring me back here again – and hopefully soon!

Cascata Bistro restaurant review by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

Cascata Bistro on Urbanspoon

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