Foodie Spots in NYC for Tourists

Foodie spots in NYC

Eataly, Flatiron

I have no shame for my completely schoolgirl boy band crush level of enthusiasm for Eataly. It is one of the most magical places on this earth. I’m sure of it. It’s definetly my most favorite food spot in NYC. Eataly is a foodie’s ultimate destination. It’s a gourmet grocery store full of produce, freshly prepared foods and pantry goods but that’s not it. The space features also features counters in which you can order a specialty items. They have a meat and cheese counter, butcher, exquisite bakery, Nutella coffee bar, fancy top of the line espresso bar, gelato bar, meat & cheese bar, fresh pasta section, plus my favorite a section full of fresh focaccia bread. Thers’ also 6 full fledged restaurants weaved insides the grocery sections and counters. It’s a huge food hall full of everything. There is nothing regular or ordinary in this foodie paradise land.

As soon as I land in NYC Eataly is where I want to go. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting multiple times over the past 3 years, but my favorite go to indulgences are the:  prosciutto cotto parmacotto & housemade mozzarella focaccia bread counter, followed by the SPAGHETTI Cacio e Pepe pasta or the QUATTRO FORMAGGI pizza & a glass of delicious white moscato at La Pizza & La Pasta restaurant , and then gelato or specialty latte to go.

eataly
Image credit eataly.com

NYC Eataly

eataly pasta
Image credit www.eataly.com

NYC Eataly cappuccino

I love @eatalyflatiron a whole latte 💓☕️

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Nutella latte #eataly #eatalynyc #nutella

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P.S. I’m also a fanatic for the Eataly Chicago location too 🙂

Step one de-board plane. Step two find Eataly. @obvi_g @julieciccaglione @eatalychicago

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Dean and Deluca, Soho

Dean & Deluca is similar to Eataly a gourmet grocery, but not exclusively Italian themed. It’s now a chain, with the first one established in New York City’s SoHo district in 1977. This spot specializes in gourmet prepared foods and imported treasures. There is a coffee station, fresh produce, specialty meats, seafood, bakery, cheese & charcuterie and sushi items. It is a beautiful space with white interiors, white marble everywhere, extremely high ceiling and unique architectural columns. It was 80+ degrees in the city when I visited last, so I treated myself to a iced matcha latte. This was my first time trying matcha and I loved it, really refreshing.

dean and deluca

Hopping on this matcha 🍵 bandwagon. #wheninnyc

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Ralph’s Coffee

Ralph’s Coffee was a charming coffee shop tucked in a corner on the second floor of the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store, in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue. It’s closed since my visit, but was truly an exquisite and fun spot. The baristas looked like male models, but to my surprise were also genuinely friendly. It was the perfect spot to stop for a break during shopping days.

Image Credit : http://www.ralphlauren.com/us/en/magazine/designing-a-new-brew

ralph coffee nyc

☕️ with Mister Ralph Lauren. Follow more of my NYC adventures on my snap stories at @moscatoismymantra

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The Plaza Food Hall

The Plaza Food Hall is a food spot of NYC that offers a “collection of fine food purveyors, as well as counter-style dining options.” Similar to Harrods of London’s famous food hall, this spot is glamorous featuring stations offering high-end versions of fun foods like sushi, pastry, pizza, salads, noodles and more. My favorite spot is Luke’s Lobster. The menu features fresh lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls, along with a selection of chowders and bisques. My go-to order is the “Luke’s Trio” of half a lobster roll, half a crab roll, and half a shrimp roll.  The seafood is so fresh, sweet, buttery, and seasoned perfectly. The rolls are served on light, fluffy perfected toasted rolls. Definitely another must stop spot in NYC! I mean you’re going to be hungry after exploring the Plaza, imaging you’re Eloise herself – right!?

theplazany.com
Image Credit : theplazany.com

Shrimp roll, lobster roll, crab roll sliders 😛

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Shrimp roll, lobster roll, crab roll sliders 😛

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Sneaking around at the Plaza as if I'm Eloise herself

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Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

Grammers this is your place! Such a fun spot for truly delicious, Instagram-worthy food! I bet everyone takes a picture of their food here. Black Tap is a funky spot featuring 90s hip hop and mostly bar seating. It is worth the wait!

The Greg Norman Burger of wagyu beef, house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese & arugula is award-winning & delish! I also enjoyed the Cookie Shake, it’s vanilla frosted rim with cookie crumbles topped with a ‘cookiewich’, crumbled cookies, chocolate chips, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle.

🍨🍪😛

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Pret a Manger

Pret a Manger is an international sandwich shop chain, originally based in the United Kingdom, commonly referred to simply as “Pret”. They “create handmade natural food avoiding all the obscure extras common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ food on the market today.” I lived here during my semester abroad in London and always do at least breakfast or lunch here when in NYC. They’re not as common as Starbucks of course, but if you’re in Manhattan you’ll find them every 5-10 blocks or so.

I love their sweet caramel lattes, unique sandwiches and “Pret Pots” which are little pots of yogurt + goodies.  Two of my faves are the “Little Pot of Goodness: a sweet little pot of goodness; smooth Greek yogurt layered with freshly sliced apples and topped with brown sugar, granola and warming cinnamon.” Or the “Bircher Muesli: the perfect pot for breakfast: shredded apple, smooth Greek yogurt , granola and honey, topped with pomegranate seeds and lightly toasted almonds.” Some of my favorite sandwiches are the: “Balsamic Chicken & Avocado” or the “Pret’s Tuna & Cucumber”.  Another to go is the Honey Tangerine Juice, which comes in the cutest little bottle.

 

 

Pret a manger 😍👍🏻 #☕️

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By the Way, a Note for Pittsburgh Yinzers Visiting NYC…

Looking for a piece of the burgh while visiting NYC? Our signature Yinzeritas (margarita + mexican beer) are called Bulldogs in NYC!

Great weekend #🌃 called a bulldog in NYC not a yinzerita #sopittsburgh

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P.S. Fun NYC Snap – I’m working on getting my handstand back!

#🌆 #handstand #yoga #urbanyoga

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Foodie Weekend in Ocean City Maryland

foodie spots of Ocean City Maryland

I don’t know about others, but to me vacation is all about relaxing, exploring, and most importantly indulging in delicious food. I recently spent a long weekend in every Pittsburgher’s default beach vacation spot, Ocean City Maryland.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit the area a handful of times and have begun to develop a list of favorite restaurants to indulge in Maryland’s famous blue crab.

       3 Foodie Spots in Ocean City Maryland

1. The Crab Bag

The Crab Bag is definitely an Ocean City institution along Coastal Highway. It’s famous for it’s namesake, fresh Maryland crabs steamed crabs delivered to the table in brown paper bags.  It’s a casual spot with mostly outdoor dining on picnic tables and super popular. They don’t take reservations or have call ahead seating, so be prepared to hang out at the bar while you wait a bit for a table. Totally worth the wait though!

The Crab Bag menu is hue and features everything seafood related to Mexican and ribs. I’m totally the fan that visits exclusively for the crab.  They have both a cream of crab soup and a traditional Maryland style crab soup. In my latest trip I of course had creamy crab soup. They also offer the two mixed, which I would have never thought of.  We also indulged in the Crab Bags Famous Crab Dip describes simply as “crab meat, cheeses, and spices.” That’s exactly what it is. Really heavy and indulgent but delicious. I enjoyed a crab cake and hush puppies and the table ordered 6 jumbo sized steamed crabs. I don’t mind cracking open the crabs if I don’t think about it too much. It’s fun to get into the experience to tackle one, but the dedication to make it through 5 is a lot! The crab is truly delicious though. I guess I understand the experience of cracking crabs its kind of like a treasure hunt…?

 

2. The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a fine dining on the bayside of north Ocean City. As named, this Ocean City restaurant is themed after J. R. R. Tolkien paired with a  setting featuring stunning bay views. The dining space is elegant and understated with the view as its main feature of course. There are tiny pop ups of Hobbit inspired decor pieces if you look closely at the hanging art or the lamps. These are not at all costumey and add tiny bits 0f character to the space. I’ve shared my amazing first experience here.

This recent visit we again enjoyed the lamb lollipops. This is a dish of delicious, buttery grilled New Zealand lamb chops, with sweet potato hash and honey aioli. Seriously delicious. For my main meal I enjoyed the swordfish fresh catch, sauté of fresh Maryland jumbo lump crab, fresh corn, bacon, and fresh vegetables, finished with beurre blanc sauce. The piece of swordfish was huge and perfectly cooked! I really enjoyed the mix of sweet corn, bacon and asparagus too. My BF really loved his veal pistachio of veal medallions, prosciutto, roasted pistachios, mushrooms, shallots, Madeira, and cream. I was treated to a few bites and can say the creamy sauce was definitely rich and delicious. Kind of like my dad’s mushroom brandy bacon cream sauce.

 

3. Parched Pelican

I love brunch. Coffee, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns and biscuits are some of the best things about the world – to me at least. Lucky for me my BF agrees 🙂 We seriously researched our brunch options for this quick trip.  After searching Yelp through an overwhelming amount of options we decided on a spot that looked fun with plenty of options to choose from, the Parched Pelican. I wasn’t expecting this spot to be as well designed as it was.  The restaurant features so many unexpected trendy  decor details, not the usual beach kitschy. every light fixture was different with a different type of Edison bulb. I was smitten with the look from the moment I stepped into the entryway; which actually featured a light fixture made with colored wine bottles and colored light bulbs – speaking directly too me.  I’m totally planning to make my own DIY version.

 

 

For my breakfast I ordered the Marylander crafted biscuit which is eggs, sautéed jumbo lump crab, Chesapeake hollandaise, and jack cheese on biscuits. The dish was good, but the “fresh buttermilk biscuits handcrafted daily from scratch,” were dense, tough and inedible. I was a bit disappointed. My BF ordered whiskey plantain brioche french toast with glazed plantains, toasted coconut and Jameson caskmates whiskey sauce. It was enjoyable, sweet and savory unique meal.  Glad we tried the dishes we did.

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Flea Market Furniture Flip

While treasure hunting at the end of the season Hannas town flea market in October, I found a charming mirrored shelf piece. I think I paid $10 for it. I of course wanted to transform it to make it my own. I love the look of mercury glass and have read a lot about how to achieve the look through DIY hacks.  So of course I was excited to have a flea market furniture flip on my hands and planned to transform the mirror, plus add some color to the wood with paint!

mirrored shelf

If you research it online, you’ll find there are many DIY hacks for taking a mirror or a piece of glass and making it look aged like mercury glass. I read a ton of DIYers advice on the process. I summed it up in my mind to layering a mixture of vinegar + water and looking glass spray paint and a darker spray paint, blotting in between layers to disperse the paint.

 

Well I think I took a bit too far. It dried too quickly before I could blot off the paint. I plan on buying another piece of mirror to have another try at attempting the DIY mercury glass look. For now the glass turned out okay for a first attempt.

 

For the paint color I decided to paint the shelf the new 2018 paint color of the year by PPG Voice of Color, Black Flame. It’s a indigo-black, charcoal hue.  I see it as a modern, moody version of my long-time favorite color purple.

I can’t wait to find a spot to hang this piece and decorate the shelves. Another piece I made my own 🙂

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Open Shelving DIY Project

I have been dreaming about building an open shelving area to display my treasures for months now. I even started the project months ago (see previous post), but then a lot happened. I even moved! Now that I am settled in a new space I have my dream shelves with charming, curly brackets. May seem silly to some, but having these shelves and knowing I made them myself – makes me so happy! Now I have a place to hang my home decor  (basically my prized possessions)! Some pieces I made myself, others were found through flea markets & vintage shopping trips.

I picked out a beautiful pine wood board at The Home Depot. I chose to stain it a warm brown color. My local PPG Paints store custom mixed the stain color in a Zar interior stain to match the hue of the laminate flooring in a previous project.

zar stain zar stain

I had found the studs and laid out the hanging positions previously, but waited until my Dad could lend a hand to help me hang the long shelves. He had the great idea of staggering the shelves 🙂

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The After, a Pittsburgh House Flip

So remember when my boyfriend bought another house (check out my post from the first surprise house here)? He’s really getting into the business of flipping small outdated homes and revitalizing them for rental. The Pittsburgh rental market is very active.

He has been working hard on the property since buying it in January 2017, with myself helping on any small projects that I can. I mostly contribute to design choices, painting and heavy-duty cleaning. Plus providing positive moral, and food & drink supplies for the worker bee of course! Working mostly on the weekends, the projects were slow to show progress, but the house is finally done & rented!

Thought I’d share the after state to show that it just took him a little budget, commitment and hard work to transform a dated, dull house into something livable again. Now it’s rented, providing a home for a family and a sense of accomplishment and future income for the investor. I’m proud of his accomplishments, and admire his commitment and drive towards something more. I know we have both been learning about a lot more than house flipping along the way, especially about how to balance projects, time management and communicating. It’s definitely a challenge to flip a property at 26 with a full time job and limited experience – it’s especially wearing on a personal relationship.

I recently became infatuated with another local couple, successful and established in the house-flipping business the Bennetts of K Bennett Development Group. You may have heard of them from their HGTV pilot show Steel City Rehab. I LOVED the show not just because of the Pittsburgh setting (so awesome to see the city shine), but also because of the couple’s fun, positive energy. They have been through the hard times of starting a house-flipping business, and continue to face serious challenges, but still (appear, I don’t actually know them lol) to have their kind, fun-loving, respectful relationship set as a priority. After their episode aired they posted to their Facebook thanking viewers and welcoming questions. I took the opportunity to ask something personal, looking for perspective for my own relationship during flipping struggles. I asked two questions and really appreciate that Kris and Tara answered with their thoughtful responses.

I’m curious about the beginning of your house-flipping journey. How did you prioritize getting your business off the ground while still taking care of your personal relationships?

TB: There came a time when we knew we needed to buckle down and give our careers some major attention. Kris had been used to getting checks in the mail for riding his bike for so long, so it was definitely a challenge for us at first. We had a lot of conversations about the business — how we need to do what it takes and make sacrifices to get on our feet. We had our daughter and another baby on the way at the time, and we were having a hard time making ends meet. We didn’t see each other a lot during the first flip. Kris would work until he couldn’t keep his eyes open, then he’d go back as soon as he woke up. That went on for at least six months. I did most of the kid and home duties on my own. It was extremely hard, but getting through that first house and watching the process succeed — even though it came with major challenges — was enough for us to want to do it again. That year was a major marriage victory for us. We realized that we make an awesome team, even when things get tough. We learned how beneficial we are to each other when it comes to encouragement and motivation. There were some days we felt like we couldn’t do it anymore, but we helped one another stay positive.

Any advice on the work-life-balance struggle as a young couple flipping in Pittsburgh?

TB: Balancing the different parts of your life takes a real effort. Kris and I will sit down and plan our weeks out at the beginning of each month. What are our work hours? When do the kids have activities? When does the gym fit in? When do we want date nights, time with friends, family days, etc.? If we don’t schedule, we will go weeks without a date night and months without seeing some of our best friends.

KB: Work does take up a lot of our time, but we’re good at prioritizing the other parts of our lives as well. If we feel like something is slipping, we re-evaluate and adjust the calendar. It’s an ongoing thing, but we try to be super-honest with each other about what we need.

Kitchen Before

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

Kitchen After

For the walls I selected the same paint color from our own kitchen. It was inspired by what else other than an episode of Fixer Upper of course! I picked a PPG Voice of Color paint color called Silent Storm, a pale green gray 6 months before I realized it actually truly is the PPG crossover for Joanna’s color Americana Egg in the Magnolia Homes paint line! A crossover means that Silent Storm is the closest tint formula in the PPG color palette, to the other brand’s color Americana Egg. This is discovered based on tint and formula data.

silent storm

For more PPG Paint colors similar to those used on Fixer Upper check out this Pinterest board full of Modern Farmhouse collection colors.

pittsburgh house flip after

pittsburgh house flip after

pittsburgh house flip after

 

Bathroom Before

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

 

Bathroom After

In the bathroom (and bedrooms) we picked a very light grey color called Elusion PPG1005-2. He decided to use the same tile we have in our own bathroom across the shower and floor.

PPG Paints Speedhide

pittsburgh house flip after bathroom

 

Pink Bedroom

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

 

Updated Bedroom

pittsburgh house flip after

Updated Living Room

pittsburgh house flip after

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