USA 2016 Travel Diary: A food-filled afternoon at Chelsea Market

While researching for this trip to New York, I was looking for some unique food-related places to visit. It was really difficult to filter through all that NYC had to offer, because there are so many eateries to visit in every borough! But there was one that stuck out to me because I kept seeing it pop up all over, and that is the Chelsea Market.

Taking the A/C/E train to 8 Av-14 St. Station, we arrived at Chelsea Market early in the morning. The streets were still quiet and there weren’t too many people milling about just yet. I got a chance to see the facade of the Google office, which was awesome. It was a pleasant stroll from the subway station to Chelsea Market during the early hours, but later on it becomes a different story. 😛

I didn’t quite realize how massive Chelsea Market was until I saw it for myself. The beautiful brick building is an inviting sight even from miles away. It’s impossible to miss as well because of the signages!

Upon entering the 9th avenue side of the building, you’ll immediately see a listing of the offices and restaurants located here. The names on the top portion are the companies, and the smaller (and much more numerous) text are the eateries and shops operating here. There are quite a few!

Just like The High Line, the Chelsea Market was also something completely different before it became one of the most popular food halls in New York. The history of the building can be found scattered throughout the market, but to put it simply, this building used to be a Nabisco factory– as in, the home of the Oreo cookie!
Let’s eat at the Chelsea Market! >>

USA 2016 Travel Diary: Walking on The High Line

If you ever find yourself wanting a different New York experience, take a trip to The High Line Park at the Lower West Side, Manhattan. The High Line is a great little spot for anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Manhattan. It’s an incredibly modern linear park in the sky– an aerial greenway that runs through a line that will make you want to keep walking on and on and on.

We’ve all visited open-space promenades before, but I do believe this is the first time I’m visiting one with such a futuristic vibe! Designed by the firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, and Piet Oudolf, this space has become one of the most frequented by locals just for a nice day out in the sun.

I heard that there are quite a bit of celebrity sightings at The High Line, and while I didn’t spot anyone I understand why they would come up here for a walk. It’s a refreshing feeling being here amongst all the greenery. Sometimes New York weather in the spring can be rather dreary, so I’m glad it was nice and warm when we had our walking tour here. (And no, there are no naked sunbathers.)

Speaking of walking tours, I highly recommend the ones by New York Tour1. Here’s our guide for The High Line walking tour, Jenny, and she is just a burst of sunshine! All the guides we had in all our walking tours with this company were actually pretty awesome. So lively and so knowledgeable about their neighbourhoods! They had such contagious enthusiasm every time they shared the history and stories about the places they were touring us in that you can’t help but fall into the same mood.

We discovered this tour company thanks to the New York Pass, which I wrote more in detail about on this post. In all honesty, I’m going to join another of their walking tours when I get back to New York one day!

Anyway, as interesting as the park looks now, it has an equally interesting history– one that Jenny shared with us in great detail with the help of her clearbook. Learning about the past of this place makes you appreciate all the more the park as it is today in terms of its looks and what it stands for. And maybe it’s my love for history talking here, but I found it all to be quite interesting.
Let’s visit The High Line! >>

My long overdue visit to Your Local in Makati

Your Local opened in 2014– a time when I was focused on just sharing recipes on this site and pretty much oblivious about new food spots in the metro. But I think it’s a testament to how good this restaurant genuinely is when two years later, it’s still the talk of the town. In fact, one could argue that they got better at their craft, prompting Conde Naste Traveler to recognise them as one of the best restaurants in the world.

They are the lone entry from the Philippines on that list.

I’m not one of those food bloggers who feel pressured to be the first in line whenever a new and hip restaurant opens up, so I didn’t really mind that it took me this long to try Your Local. But daaaaang, I sure realised how much time I’ve wasted! How many Your Local meals could I already have under my belt if I had tried this little gem out sooner? Because I sure want a taste of each and every dish after this visit!

Your Local serves up what I feel is a really interesting fusion cuisine– Southeast Asian with a Western flair. This is not the first restaurant to dabble in such a fusion, but I can honestly say they are one of the few that really understand how to pull it off. I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever eaten such unique dishes before anywhere in my life, and I am really coming up short. In fact, I sometimes still dream of the dishes we ate here as I attempt to wiggle another visit into my schedule!
Let’s eat at Your Local! >>

My first attempt at Cantonese-style Char Siu Pork

It seems only proper that I squeeze in this little recipe for Char Siu Pork after writing about New York’s Chinatown. I didn’t really get to go on a food trip there, but we did eat a late lunch at one of the restaurants, and since we were in a hurry I didn’t bother documenting that bit anymore. It was nothing unfamiliar to me after all!

My encounter with this recipe was a coincidence of sorts. One of my favourite food bloggers posted a recipe for a pork bun, and in it the reader was encouraged to make their own char siu. Typically when I come across recipes that call for the Cantonese roast pork, I buy it from our local Chinatown. It’s just so much easier. But this time I felt like I wanted to try my hand at making it at home.

My expectations for myself weren’t particularly high. If you’ve ever gone into a Chinese restaurant that sells dimsum, then you’d know that they employ a special technique to ensure maximum flavour for their char siu by hanging them. I neither had the “technology” nor the patience for such an undertaking, so I just kind of shortcut-ed my way through, but thanks to this recipe it worked out for the best.

The char siu, though not tasting like those made by the trained dimsum experts, has its own beautiful thing going on. Packed with sweet-smoky flavour, juicy, perfect for just over rice, or for pork buns!

The meat had just enough sweetness and just enough kick from all the flavourings to make it something I’d find an excuse to make again. And as you will see, it’s an incredibly non-fussy recipe!
Get the recipe! >>

USA 2016 Travel Diary: Walking through SoHo-Little Italy-Chinatown

I was very eager to take my first walking tour here in New York, because it involved going around the SoHo-Little Italy-Chinatown Lower Manhattan area. These three neighbourhoods are actually located side by side, but over the years the “territories” of each neighbourhood have either expanded or shrunk. I heard that Little Italy used to be much bigger, but after many Italians moved over to New Jersey, the Chinese began to take over their vacant homes.

I don’t suppose the size really matters. In my opinion, what’s important is that the people who still do live in this area manage to release their individual ethnic personalities through their neighbourhoods. There’s no mistaking the moment you step into Chinatown or Little Italy. The sights, the sounds, the smells… All of it is completely distinct from one another! It’s like they’ve reconstructed their neighbourhoods into their very own slices of home, and I’m just happy they keep the doors open to the rest of us.

Our first stop for the day was SoHo, bordered by Canal Street to the south, Crosby Street to the east, and West Broadway to the west.

New Yorkers are fond of these abbreviated names for certain districts: SoHo is short for South of Houston. Read as HOW-stin. Similarly, they have a neighbourhood called ‘TriBeCa’ (Triangle Below Canal Street), and they refer to the North of Little Italy as ‘Nolita’. You know, stuff like that!

SoHo as it is now is known as a high-end shopping district and an area where real estate is as expensive as the sky. It’s mostly socialites and celebrities who can afford to live in the beautiful cast-iron buildings over here, but hey, looking is free!

The cast-iron buildings display themselves with authority and elegance, and lined up this way one could say New York is showing off its lovely collection! Doesn’t Greene Street kind of remind you of a catwalk? But of course, it’ll be really difficult to walk these streets in six-inch heels. You’ll probably get stuck.
Let’s take a walking tour! >>