The Art of Italian Ice

If you ask me, frozen treats are delectable at any point in the year.  Maybe that’s my California background speaking as we don’t normally encounter the so-called “winter” weather.  Well, back east they like to keep things seasonal, shutting down the Italian ice stores just as the summer months come to a close.  They open up shortly after spring has sprung and welcome in the hungry kids and salivating adults such as myself on a warm spring evening.

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My first experience with east coast ice happened to be in my California hometown when they opened up a ice and custard store called Rita’s.

My cousin happened to be working the store when it first opened, so of course we had to pop in at every chance, just to see him all dressed up in his official garb.  That and there was this lovely little incentive called the family discount.  Well, don’t mind if I do. :)

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The pumpkin was divine (as all pumpkin lovers would like to know) but it’s the black cherry that stole my heart.  Really, the chunks of cherry a midst the freshly made ice, just made it to die for.  One can top their treat with a swirl of custard, making the creation a GELATI but I much prefer my custard and ice separate, especially on an overwhelmingly hot day. (Dairy + extreme heat = not appealing)

IMG_4015 Fun little stop in New Jersey when I was with some family friends for the weekend.  Most shops are seasonal on the east coast but this one happened to be open year round.

IMG_4016Again, black cherry is where it’s at.  This time I didn’t mind a bit of custard on top, but that’s probably because it was about 60F outside, unlike my first experience at the end of August when it was blazing hot.

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Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices
(144 East 24th St. New York, NY 10010)

Lucky for me and my summer d.i.e.t. (“did I eat that”) ;) there are plenty of ice shops around the city.  Ralph’s is a favorite of mine, simply by the fact that I walk past it every day on the way to the gym.  I have yet to purchase anything more than once but a girl can dream.  And dream I do.

Wednesday Wisdom & A Camelbak Winner! 

My grandma always told me to stop and take time to smell the roses. I’m sure as a child I simply thought she wanted me to check out her rose garden.  Maybe that was true as well, but as I aged and matured, I started to understand the true meaning.  There will be times that we have to go-go-go and get things done.  There will also be times where you have absolutely nothing to do and you don’t need to freak out about this.  Even in this crazy city there are days or moments where I’m at a loss of what to do or what to say.  There aren’t too many rose bushes to smell, but I’ve discovered that it’s still important to take a moment and breathe, to slow down, and to absorb what’s around.

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Monday night I had agreed to take a spin class at 8 pm on the upper west side. Seeing that I was off of work around 6:15, that left a chunk of time in which I could 1) Work more, 2) Complain that I had to wait for a spin class, or 3) Wander an area of New York that I was unfamiliar with. I hope you know I ended up with #3 but I guess #1 and #2 are just as likely.

Anyways, once I relaxed and didn’t worry about accomplishing something significant or monumental (you know, just build the next 8th wonder of the world), those 90 minutes were eye opening. I simply walked around, listened to people and cars, stumbling upon new treasures.  I turned my music off, I took my headphones out, and I just opened myself up to the city.  I honestly would have never guessed what types of stores, restaurants, and treasures that exist up there.  #winning

Oh and the spin class I took? Absolutely amazing. It was with one of my favorite instructors and we had a DJ and Congo players and remixed music videos. It was like going to a club and riding a natural high wave. I bounced out of there at 9pm beaming and filled with a new sense of accomplishment and ready to enjoy life.

IMG_5434Some other random thoughts for this wacky Wednesday:

  • I think my hometown in California has had more humidity than I have here in NYC. Of course now that I said that I’ll probably get smacked in the face with an unbearable heat wave.
  • Confession – I can’t always be a yes person. I’m too much of a people pleaser and like to make everyone happy but it can wear a person down some days.  Anyone else feel that way?
  • I walked past a construction site (typical in the city) and a mom was showing her 3-year old son how the crane works. You don’t really get that “hands-on” lesson in the suburbs do you?
  • A truck honking it’s horn in the middle of an intersection doesn’t really get it anywhere. There’s probably a reason all the cars in front of you are stalled.
  • I (my skin more than anything) am looking forward to clean and fresh air.  The humidity and smog and grime certainly takes a toll.  This might be a sign that I need to put more time and effort into my beauty regime.
  • Finally, I’ve had some assistance from my partner in crime to help select the lovely water loving winner….congrats Lish from JumpEatRun! Email me and we will get you set up with a Camelbak relay!

“Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.” – Louis L’Amour

Ess-A-Bagel

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What makes a NYC bagel dough so special?? Certainly beats me, but I’m hooked.  That is a strong statement coming from the girl who really could do without most bread products.  Usually they just don’t appeal to me unless smothered in some form of sauce or spread.

Some claim it’s due to the city water.  Others believe it’s how they boil the bagels before serving.  Whatever they are doing, please don’t stop.

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Look at those schmears!  From lox to blueberry and oh so many more 

Do not under any circumstances ask for your bagel toasted.  A big no-no here.  I guess it’s all about the New York process of eating a bagel.  Sure if you really want your bagel toasted, I’m sure they will do it but you will certainly get a lot of dirty looks and grief for asking.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

IMG_5336Apparently Ess-A is known to be a distributor of one of the top 3 Black & White cookies in the city.  I can vouch for their deliciousness; light and fluffy cookie with a decadent frosting.

I told myself I wouldn’t fall in love with the city too much as it would make it difficult to leave.  This clutch combination certainly won’t make it any easier when that time comes.

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whole-wheat everything bagel w/ blueberry schmear + iced coffee

Ess-A-Bagel
~ All products served are certified kosher ~

359 1st Ave (1st + 21st)
New York, NY
**Original location est. in 1976

831 3rd Ave (3rd + 50th)
New York, NY

Rhode Island Travels

I feel as though I have experienced a modern version or planes, trains, and automobiles – jet-setting around the NE.  Seeing as my ultimate goal is to explore every state and locale around the country (even if it’s for a mere hot-second, quick snapshot, or postcard), I seem to be making a pretty solid effort.

Last weekend I was lucky to be invited to Rhode Island to stay with some family.  Funny enough, this family is from Southern California, but happened to be out on the east coast for a few weeks while my cousins were involved in lacrosse camps.  The sport has somewhat made its way westward, but there’s no comparison in terms of the level of play.

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I arrived in Providence on Friday evening and was able to catch up with Sarah over some much anticipated ice cream.  She was a complete doll and agreed to pick me up from the train station and drive me to where my cousins were staying.  Even though we communicate weekly via text, it’s always nice to catch up in person, don’t you agree?

Cooked Goose

After sleeping in on Saturday morning, we headed out for a midday meal at the Cooked Goose; a homey favorite for the locals of Westerly, R.I.  I’m always a sucker for neatly designed t-shirts and funky-named entrees

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A quaint little setting with cookies the size of your face and filling homestyle breakfasts.  As you can see we were all over the menu from breakfast burritos to chocolate chip pancakes to spinach/feta omelets.

The Cooked Goose
~ Menu ~
92 Watch Hill Road
Westerly, Rhode Island 02891
*Breakfast, lunch + take-out

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I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to many places over my 23 years of life and I’d like to think of myself as somewhat cultured.  However, I can’t help think that the east coast is just a different place.  I’m certain I spent a majority of the trip just gawking and soaking it all in (hopefully not in a rude way, just as a baffled and quite interested manner).  From the people to the architecture to the beaches to the style of clothing.  I can’t even begin to describe it besides “so east coast.”  Maybe it’s the fact that California has been so engrained in my mind as home, everything we do as “normal” that makes me try to comprehend the lifestyle out here.

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After breakfast (or really more of lunch) we drove up the coast to Newport for some time on the beach and obviously some Del’s Frozen Lemonade.  Originally started in Rhode Island, Del’s has now expanded to 20 different states, even California!!

IMG_5414  One sip and I fell in love.  It had a fresh and fruity flavor with actual chunks of lemon rather than the syrupy mess that Minute-Maid sells at sporting events and theme parks.  No, no, this was quite a treat.

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~ NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND ~

Newport - 3~ A trip to the wharf to people watch ~
~ Indulge in some ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s for Katherine, gelato for Katie, and self-serve Pinkberry for me) ~
~ A visit to the Alex & Ani flagship store ~

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~ Sunday Funday ~

I started with endless cups of coffee and reading off my kindle.  From there it was time for breakfast at the local sandwich joint – a bagel w/ egg + arugula for her and a spinach/blueberry/banana/granola smoothie for me

10 Sandwiches 
98 Bay Street, Watch Hill, R.I.
(Selling Dave’s Coffee coldbrew)

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We walked along the beach, spotted Taylor Swift’s house from a far (bottom left), got caught up in some of the local shops, and enjoyed our afternoon with a fruity drink and crudite platter at the Ocean House.  I do have to say, our drinks were some of the finest I have every tasted (probably because I couldn’t taste the alcohol) and am totally willing to mix one up for anyone willing to be my guinea pig ;)

Ocean House Colada ~ Ciroc Coconut Vodka, Coconut Water, Mint

The Low Tide Painkiller ~ Mount Gray Silver Rum, Pineapple Juice, Creme de Coco, Midori, Grapefruit Juice, Creme de Strawberry

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The Ocean House was built in 1868 and known as the last remaining water front Victorian Era hotel on mainland Rhode Island.   It originally did not have any heating, cooling, or ventilation, as most homes in this area didn’t.  Seeing as they were all “summer homes”, they were only open 3-4 months out of the year.  It was demolished in 2005 and reopened in 2010, built brick by brick to mirror the original building.

I definitely recommend either getting dressed up to have a cocktail inside or even stopping by to have one along the water.

The Ocean House
1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill, R.I. 02891

I believe there’s an element of old school living that shines through – the fact that people have been settled here in these towns for ages.  They vacation in the same spots year after year, while our families were exploring the mountains and lakes on the west coast.  The slow mornings, the fact that everyone knows each other, the east coast prep style (from Lily Pulitzer to Sperry’s to folks dressed in all white and playing croquette), and the distinct difference between the seasons.  It’s just plain ‘ol different and for now that’s all I have to describe it.

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All in all it was a lovely escape from the city and I was oh-so-happy to spend time with my family.

Have you ever been to Rhode Island?

Big City in the Summer

NYC ’14 SUMMERTIME BUCKET LIST

We may be midway into summer but better late than never, right?

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Participate in Summer Restaurant Week (Jul 21- Aug 15) More Details Here

Smorgasburg, Williamsburg

Play musical chairs in Bryant Park

Run in a NYRR race

Eat brunch at the Boathouse (#1 + #2)

Walk along the High Line

Music in Central Park ~ NY Philharmonic

Visit Rhode Island

44 Frozen Treats to Try in NYC (Buzzfeed)

Kayak in the Hudson…for FREE

Attend a baseball game (Mets and/or Yankees)

Coney Island (Brooklyn Half)

Take a trip to the beach (Memorial Day + July 4th)

People’s Pops, Manhattan

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“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” 
― Charles Bowden