12.08.2016

Mother and Daughter Trip in New York!




I took my daughter, Cassis with me to New York for a week after Halloween.  This was our first girls' only trip and it was priceless.  I had a impromptu notion to go to New York.  I was going to go alone at first but then the thought of walking around the city, watch a broadway show and stopping at coffee shops with her seemed irresistible.  

We usually travel as a whole family, but now the kids are a bit older and it feels like they are growing up even faster.  It is a good thing to spend some time alone with each kid, which I don't do very often.  We talk to one another without interruption or destruction - usually fighting with her brother or wining - during the trip and it was nice!  We just walked around the city, stopped at playgrounds, bakeries, monuments and did pretty much whatever we wanted for 6 days.  Total freedom from everything.  New York is a good place to just jump in without planning ahead too much.  It's so easy to come across so many interesting places, people, restaurants, streets, arts, everything.  I definitely loved not have to worry about my car and just hop on the trains like I used to do when I lived in Osaka, Japan.  I am a city person.  I feel more comfortable surrounded by noise, lights and strangers walking around everywhere than quiet suburban streets.  

But I was a  bit nervous about taking subways with her since I knew I might be distracted by street photo opportunities.  But I guess I was paranoid enough to keep her tightly close to me all the time.  Also what surprised me the most was how friendly and kinds everyone was.  I don't remember that when I was in town the last time.  Maybe because I was with my daughter?  Everywhere we went, we chatted with locals and some people went out of their ways to be kind to us.  People almost always tried to give us seats in trains.  This actually was one of the highlights of our trip.  

I most likely avoid towers, monuments and touristic places that you have to pay a lot of money and stand in long lines.  It's not for me.  But this trip was exceptional because of Cassis.  This was her first time in New York and I wanted to take her to historical places.  She often wanted to go inside or near the buildings.  We took Staten Island Ferry, which took us to a roundtrip ride around the Statue of Liberty.  Though it doesn't stop at the Statue, you can still see it close enough and it's a nice short free ride. I told her that the building on the other island is where her grandpa, her dad's dad, arrived from Norway 50 years ago to live in America. She was really disappointed that we didn't stop at the Statue.  Shortly after we were passing by Empire State Buidling.  I was telling her, "Do you remember the movie ELF?  You love that movie!  Remember the Elf's mean dad?  He works inside this building in the movie!  Ok, let's move on now."  She didn't want to move on.  She wanted to go inside. Then I ended up feeling guilty for all the things I told her she can't do.  We went in, stood in line and saw the whole city in the big wind.  It was worth it!  For her!

I needed this quiet but inspirational trip to catch up and breath a little bit.  The family vacation is of course fun and important but I usually end up worrying about taking care of the family and the kids do start fighting which is not relaxing at times.  It was one of my best vacations ever and I'm thankful that I got a little time off from my daily routine.  Now I'm back refreshed than ever and already daydreaming my next trip...  Actually I would go right back to NY and head to Brooklyn since I didn't get to explore there much this time.  




I'll list the sites I used to plan this trip if anyone is thinking about having a similar trip.  I spent most of the planning on flight and accommodation.  I did notice that the prices change and rates go higher as I spent more time to look around and visit the sites too often.  If this happens to you, you can erase the browser history (Safari) by clicking the tab Develop < Empty Cache in Safari (clicking clear history won't really erase the history from the browser).

Flight: Delta Website.  It is waaay better than other airlines for the prices.  I love how they stepped up to improve services, and the fares are reasonable.

Accommodation:  Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb  (we stayed at an Airbnb House, HGU Hotel, Hotel INNSIDE).

Places we visited: Empire State Building (forced to go in by my daughter, otherwise...),  Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park,  Carousal in Central Park (also playground),  New York Library (chess!),   Broadway (Matilda highly recommended with kids),  High Line,  Staten Island Ferry,  Brooklyn Bridge (night time recommended),  DUMBO,  Washington Square,  Madison Square (playground),  Grinich Village. 

Places we stopped for food, drinks and souvenirs: Birch Coffee,  Buchon Bakery,  Chelsea Market (souvenir),  Eataly (Italian and souvenir),  Shake Shack (burger),  Her Name is Hen (Korean),  Maison Kayser (pastries),  Ippudo (ramen),  A Little Taste (coffee),  $.99 Pizza (must).

You can also see some photos on my Instagram feeds. 







Empire Tower





















Love the $.99 cent greasy pizza.  This one was next to the Broadway theater Matilda. 





Cookie and Cream Macaron from Bouchon Bakery in the shopping mall at Columbia Circle.  

 We walked into Eataly and ended up spending a few hours.  All kids if goodies from Italy.









 Pappardelle with lamb ragout.

 Bucatini with tomato sauce.
Carb cake sandwich at Chelsea Market.


 We got a few caked from Maison Kayser during the walk.



A quick lunch at Shake Shack by Brooklyn Bridge.

 Korean dinner at Her Name is Hen in Korea Town.



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11.18.2016

Bucatini with Homemade Tomato Sauce




I was randomly watching a Japanese TV show on YouTube the other day.   It's a show about daily lives of Japanese women who live overseas because they married to people from those countries that they live in.  It's a light hearted documentary/reality show.  They also talk about food. A LOT.  What a surprise : ) In this episode I watched, the woman married into an Italian family almost 20 years ago.  

The entire family is still very critical of her Italian cooking, especially her tomato sauce. The family compares her tomato sauce to the Italian grandma's and they just shake their heads with disapproval look.  It's a bit silly show but interesting to me since I also live overseas and love to cook.  The show gets to its point and they arrange her to learn how to make a perfect tomato sauce from the expert.  

My kids love spaghetti more than any other type of pasta.  I happen to like thicker/wider noodle like bucatini or pappardelle.  I usually just buy spaghetti because it's common to find and less expensive.  But I was extremely inspired to make this almost perfect tomato sauce for this post.  I also bought a bag of bucatini for this special occasion.  

The important thing about making a great tomato sauce is of course picking right tomatoes.  They should be ripe and sweet.  But it's hard to find such tomatoes even at the farmer's market around Seattle especially in the fall.  I didn't grow enough tomatoes this summer in my garden.  Homegrown tomatoes are actually sweet and have rich flavor - if you did, highly recommend making them into tomato sauce!  So the tip I learned to cover it up if you can't find sweet tomatoes, is to simply add a little bit of sugar or some sort of sweeter.  (NEVER ketchup though!)  

I chose the best roma tomatoes I can find at a local store. I wasn't sure how fresh they were, but I still needed to add a bit of sugar.  I chopped some garlic, onion and tomatoes and sautéed them tougher with a good quality of virgin olive oil.  I didn't use extra virgin because it does taste a bit bitter.  I finished the sauce with some suger salt, pepper and chopped basil leaves.  

The last but not least, invest in a good quality of parmigiana reggiano.  I does make a huge difference. I didn't need to use a lot because the good ones have such deep and solid flavor.  

My family noticed the huge difference from my usual tomato spaghetti.  They wanted the second and the third.  I made it twice this week.  It's a simple dish but sometimes simple dishes are the ones to teach us the most about cooking.


* I realize that I forgot to take photos of my tomato sauce.  I'll add it later to prove that I really made it : )






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