Delectable Eats at Missy Robbins’ Lilia ~ Williamsburg

The past couple weeks have been filled with epic foodie adventures and yes, my credit card bill can vouch for this.  YOLO.  No regrets.  Carpe Diem.  Eat on and eat on I will.  So last Saturday I helped organize a trip of November Project folks to Lilia –  Missy Robbins’ most recent restaurant endeavor.  To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure of Missy Robbins fame and Wikipedia helped me realize what a treat or honor that meal would be.  Did you know that she is best known for having a Michelin star at each of her restaurants and was also featured as a contestant in series four of Top Chef Masters?

The restaurant in question – Lilia – has had rave reviews from all corners of the web.  From the NY Magazine to just last week Grub Street shared its top power rankings, throwing Lilia among Nishi, Le Turtle and more.  I apologize for the lackluster lighting as it may not do the dishes justice.  If you really must see perfect photography, check out their Facebook page.

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Lilia
567 Union Ave, New York
{Subway stops ~ G, L at Metropolitan Ave – Lorimer St}
Daily 5:30p.m.-11p.m.

IMG_5184I honestly would not have learned about this restaurant or even ventured outside of Manhattan had it not been for one of our November Project friends, Erin, who alerted us to the restaurant’s opening.  It may be Missy Robbins’ new project, but her brother also played/plays a huge part in the restaurant’s success.  So into Williamsburg we ventured!

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^^ To drink or not to drink?  In retrospect, the bill might have been a bit smaller had we not indulged buuut wine made things a little more fun.

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^^ I wasn’t at all sure of what this was, but when we cut into it and smelled the fried cheesy goodness, I knew we were in for a treat.  Every morsel seemed to crumble and melt in your mouth and when I went to research the meal a bit more, I found that this nifty cheese called cacio e pepe even had an article written about it.  Yeah, the combination of sharp cheese, black pepper, olive oil, little bit of pasta + cooking water is just that cool.

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^^ I’m not sure whether it was due to our party’s size or the reservation but we were provided with a set menu and options for three courses plus dessert.

IMG_5190^^ Antipasti (option 2) ~ Little Gem Salad with bibb-like lettuce, parmesan, oregano, and dried chili

IMG_5191^^ Antipasti (option 3) ~ Roasted trumpet mushroom, arugula, balsamic, and Sicilian almonds

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^^ Primi (option 1) ~ Ricotta Gnocchi, broccoli pesto, basil, and pistachios

IMG_5194^^ Secondi (option 1) ~ Grilled chicken leg and thigh, broccoli rabe, olives, garlic, and mint ~ probably the most tender and mouth-watering piece of chicken I have ever had in my entire life.  It seemed to fall off the bone and was so.darn.juicy.

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^^ Secondi (option 1) ~ All about that Black Bass, salsa verde, and perfectly seasoned and roasted yukon potatoes.

When I go out to eat, I don’t always order an appetizer or even a side salad.  I do love my sweets but dessert doesn’t always make the list either.  So, I found the price fix menu quite beneficial, enabling us to sample a variety of items on the menu rather than being tied to just one full entree.  When the question of dessert came around, many of us were reaching our satiation point, but come on, when you have dessert as a GIVEN option, you must take advantage of it.  (ok, I would be a terrible mindful eating coach…)

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^^ Dolce (option 1) ~ Olive oil cake, grappa, whipped cream, persimmon ~ YOU MUST ORDER THIS.  Even if you don’t plan on eating or drinking much at all, I highly recommend making a reservation simply for this dish.  Olive oil is one of those ingredients that has hidden powers.  Who would have thought it could make a dessert so wonderfully moist?  Also, persimmons?  I claimed that I wouldn’t eat a persimmon and Lilia has since changed my view on the fruit.  Well done Missy Robbins, well done.

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^^ Dolce (option 2) ~ Soft-served chocolate gelato, candied citrus, and hazlenuts.  Not a bad way to celebrate national frozen yogurt day (and day after national nutella day) but my heart was already with the olive oil cake.  All in all, an excellent ending to a quite perfect meal.

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“Food is a direct pathway to the soul. It reaches us in a very primal place.”
― Good Witch

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A Mini Trip to Greece

Oh the days that I dream of jumping on a plane and exploring the world.  However since I don’t really have the funds or roadmap to do so, I’ll stick to the exotic flavors found here in New York City.  Last week just so happened to be my college friend Michelle’s birthday and her restaurant of choice was Taverna Kyclades in the East Village.  Taverna Kyclades is a little Greek haven right off the L train (14th street and 1st avenue) with an original location out in Astoria.

The name Kyclades stems from the group of islands in Greece, islands known for its beautiful beaches, gorgeous sunrises, and apparently delectable food and since Astoria is known for its Greek population, it would be an obvious choice for the first location.  But back to the location in the East Village.  I must have walked past that bright blue awning more than 50 times, each time reminding myself to check out the  menu.  Well, finally Friday was my chance!

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Taverna Kyclades
228 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
~ History ~ Menu

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Here we are with the birthday girl getting the rundown of menu specials and making the tough decisions of what to order.  The way to go is by ordering a few large dishes for the table and eat family style rather than individual platters.  After all, you can sample so much more this way 🙂

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^^ Traditional Greek Salad with one big HUNK of feta.  There was another gooey cheesy dish >> saganaki << dough filled with graviera cheese, but it was inhaled before I could obnoxiously take a picture.

Side note – I decided Friday would be the last night of whole30 so that I could enjoy the family style festivities.  I’ll draft up some of my thoughts on the experiment but do have to say, going out and being social was quite tough with all the food “rules” and I didn’t want to miss out.  Friday meant wine and cheese to the face and eating at such a lovely restaurant was well worth the splurge.

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^^ Greek style shrimp covered in some sort of tomato sauce.  I’m not much of a shrimp person but soaking up the remaining pieces of sourdough bread with this sauce was an excellent life choice.

IMG_4978 ^^ Our main event – baby shark.  Yes folks, we made that happen.  But I swear, it tasted like a mix between white fish and tender chicken.   Michelle had actually been wavering between the baby shark and one of the market specials, but when our waiter dropped the $75 a serving price tag, we made the decision to stick with mr. shark.

IMG_4980^^ We had asked to have a candle in the shark but when that wasn’t possible, we settled for candles in the custard. 😉 Happiest of birthdays Michelle! So glad we could help you celebrate and explore a little more of the city.

Life of Late ~ 8.7.15

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Isn’t that the truth!  Welcome to Friday.  Today happens to be one of those randomly assigned summer Fridays, so I took the bus out of the city last night and into Baltimore to hang out with my friend Sarah for the first part of the weekend.  I brought along a shirt with me to hopefully get tagged by the November Project Baltimore tribe because the crab stamp is so.darn.cool.  #traverbal

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Also, I have to note that I seem to be losing part of my mind.  I do re-read my posts to make sure there are no grammar errors (ok sometimes the proof-reading comes after it’s published…oops) and often edit and update 2 or 3 times.  Well, there are a few mistakes in the last posts that have been bugging me.  1) Carrie from Sex In The City had a white tutu skirt and pink top, not pink tutu.  2) We ran 4x800 not 400s.  My legs were mad at me for writing only 400. 3) The tasty bread that I was supposed to try at Baked a few weeks back was PUMPKIN not banana.  Although, to be fair, I like to keep holidays kosher and eating pumpkin outside of fall just didn’t seem right.  I promise I’ll go back in two months to test it out.

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^^ Last week’s HOT AND HUMID NYRR Team Championships.  We totally dominated.  Actually I don’t know what place we came in but was stoked with the turnout.  Actually the race sucked (at least for me – going out too fast = no bueno)  Also, while other teams had their little matching get-ups, we rocked the course with our outrageous colors and personal style.  Apparently someone overheard a bystander say “wow, that November Project is really taking over”.  You BET.

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^^ The Sports Bras of NP.  Or as our friend Jeanie likes to call them, the “Tata-tamers” Gosh I love November Project.

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^^ Post-race and post-Juice Press run food at Little Collins on 56th and Lexington.  Go there.  Adorable little Australian cafe with some of the most scrumptious avocado smashed toast.  If I had been craving something sweet (shocker that I wasn’t), I would have gone for the muesli or “Sweet Uncle Fred” (toasted banana bread with ricotta, strawberries, honey, and toasted almonds)

Little Collins
667 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022
Menu

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^^ Because flowers and farmers markets are some of my favorite things

~ Other Favorites ~

PureWow.com ~ “22 Things You Can Make in Your Waffle Iron” – Because waffles trump pancakes. Duh.

How to Start a Movement (November Project)

Thrillist ~ “What I Miss Most: Suburban Supermarkets” – Oh the days where I could use a cart and wander for at least 30 minutes without worrying if I would 1) hit anyone 2) have to wait an hour to check out 3) just wander, just simply wander

Zen Habits ~ “Worried About What You’re Not Doing

Well + Good (obsessed with this site) ~ “What happens when a chef adds kale to burgers, cocktails, and ice cream” (ummm, goodness) But really, a new restaurant in NYC called By Chloe.  I SO want to test this menu out.  The guacamole burger (w/ black bean-quinoa-sweet potato patty, chipotle aioli, corn salsa, and guacamole) and the ice cream flavors sound divine.

By Chloe
185 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012

IMG_1517 ^^ On Sunday I met up with a friend from NP (who also has the same birthday!) and we navigated our way to Jacob Riis Beach out in Queens.  There may have been some issues with public transportation and the fact that subways were running on weekend schedules.  Buuuut, we made it and relaxing on the sand and enjoying the surf was oh-so-fabulous.  I may have gotten a tad bit burned, but I’m going to blame this thing called a full-time job where I sit under flourescent lights instead of the sun.

Definitely want to check out a few of the beaches along the Rockaways, maybe the Hamptons one day (dream on…) and this little bazaar at Jacob Riis. Just a hour+ outside the city and it’s a whole new world.

IMG_1537^^ Morning run view on the East River.  Note to self: always live near water so you can get views like this.

 

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^^ The countdown is on for our Endurance Challenge Race in Utah.  This would be the course summary.  Wow.  This will be a shock to the system that’s for sure.

IMG_1497^^ Go Team Manhattan Mountain Goats (missing our pal Sam!) ~ This is what happens when someone asks you to pose like a goat.  Yeah, I don’t know what was happening either.

So what’s new with you?  Any fun plans for the weekend or this fine summer month?

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

NYC ~ A Trip with my California Girls

I have to say, I find it quite funny that a majority of my friends located here in New York, either went to school in California or are originally from California.  But more on that later.  This post highlights the adventures from last week with two of my pals whom I have known since elementary school!

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Lindsay (on the left) actually has lived with me for some time, but it was a treat to see Laura (on the right) who happened to be working from her company’s NYC office this week!  The likelihood of us all located in the same place is much higher when that place is New York versus our Southern California hometown.  Strange, right?

PARTY ONE ~ MLK DAY

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Since we all had Monday off, we were able to spend more time together and explore a couple of new places around the city.  I woke up and walked twenty or so blocks to Laura’s hotel, where I waited in a local Starbucks and read the paper.  You know, I have always told myself that I would sit in a cafe and read the paper on a weekly basis but obviously I spend too much time running around that it never happens.

Once we were all ready to go, we headed north along 5th Avenue, popping into various stores and just browsing the windows of others.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral
5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022

The cathedral (like many other places in New York) looks so much better without all the scaffolding surrounding it.  I still have yet to attend one of its services or even duck my head inside to see what it’s like.  Even though Lindsay and I have found a good church that we enjoy, it would be neat to attend a service at the cathedral.  After all, you seem to get a deeper experience when you attend a service in such a renown and decorated building.  I sure felt that way when I was abroad and attended mass in the Cathedrale Notre-Dame in Paris.

IMG_8118A trip along 5th Avenue is not complete without a trip to Tiffany’s.  It’s quite a treat to walk into the flagship store and browse all the gorgeous jewelry and beautiful blue boxes but no treats for me on this trip.  I’m saving up to visit my sister abroad and have been doing an excellent job so far.

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Walking through Central Park and the zoo (fun fact: I wanted to be an animal trainer when I was little.  A dolphin trainer in particular.  I would braid hair and train dolphins at a resort in Hawaii.  I’m sure my parents are much happier that I grew out of that phase)

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A trip to Lily Pulitzer

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Jumped on the 7 train to ride under the East River into Long Island City

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Tuk Tuk
49-06 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101

There we went to Tuk Tuk, which my manager had highly recommended for lunch.  I’m usually not the biggest fan of Thai, but I think it has to do with the fact that I order the most random combinations of food, not meant to be paired together. Like the time I ordered a vegan hot dog at Pink’s Hot Dogs in LA because I was trying to be healthy.  Yeah, no.  You just don’t do that.  But anyways, I’ve started asking waiters and waitresses about their favorites and what they suggest I order.  I’ve had infinity more success this way.

Not only was the food supposed to be super tasty, but they have a great lunch special, which meant we paid only around $7-9 for our meal.  Brilliant!

IMG_6539Thai iced tea + Pad Gra-Prow
(Stir-fried with a chili basil sauce with basil, onion and bell pepper)

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The recently developed area has an amazing stretch of parks, open space, and place for dogs to frolic and play.  We met up with my manager and her dog Brodie and had a blast watching the pups chase one another.

The rest of the night was spent at our apartment watching the Bachelor.  Oh Farmer Chris.

PART TWO ~ FRIDAY NIGHT

We really didn’t have a chance to hang out the rest of the week but were able to have one last night of fun on Friday.  What’s better on a Friday night than grabbing dinner and dessert with your friends? Forget clubbing, just give me chocolate. 😉 But really.

That morning, I woke up to attend the November Project workout at Morningside park.  Despite the long run and trek with my backpack, it was worth it.  Always is.  Ten hours later and it was time to meet up with Lindsay and Laura for dinner at Kipseys, a relaxed and somewhat contemporary American restaurant on 2nd avenue.

438 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10010
~ General ~ Menu ~ Delivery ~

I started off with a fruity glass of sangria, spilt a very delicious (don’t let the terrible iPhone picture convince you otherwise) appetizer of brussels sprouts and pancetta, and pondered over the options for dinner.

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Again, the iPhone has failed me to capture the tastiness of the event, but believe me when I say the trio combo of sides was absolutely fabulous and a clutch price point.  For $12, I was able to get mac & cheese, spinach, and sweet potato fries.  Lindsay had also ordered mac & cheese for $8 and I’m pretty sure it came out to be the same size.

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Originally we had planned to test out a speakeasy – Please Don’t Tell – but decided otherwise when we realized that we hadn’t made a reservation and miscalculated the location (it’s near Tompkin’s Square Park NOT Union Square).  So, we made a reservation at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Shop for dessert and spent the next 45 minutes wandering Nordstrom Rack.

Did you know that we New Yorkers do not have an actual Nordstrom’s?  Preposterous, I know.  Sure there is Bloomingdales and Saks and Macy’s and all that jazz.  Maybe it’s another sign that west coast = best coast.

Max Brenner’s
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
~ Home ~ Locations ~ Chocolate Bar ~ Menu ~

IMG_8164While they serve actual meals as well, I would recommend this spot for dessert.  It’s seriously like walking into a world of pure imagination (yes…Willy Wonka for the win).

IMG_8168Both Laura and Lindsay had visited Max Brenner, either here in New York or out in Australia, so I deferred to them on what to order.  The hot chocolate is a must, so we ordered one for the table.We also ended up ordering three different desserts so that we could sample a little bit of everything.  Thank goodness my friends love to share because it’s oodles more fun to order a few dishes and get a taste of everything rather than be stuck with one option.

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~ Churros ~ The Works 1/2 Dessert Pizza ~ Strawberry/Chocolate Crepe ~

This ultimately put me in a sugar/food/chocolate coma and left me with the following thoughts:

Oh my goodness, this is like out of Willy Wonka.  Hm, what to order.  I’m a bit overwhelmed.  So much to order. This is so exciting!  (Food arrives)  We dive in like a pack of wolves.  Just kidding (maybe).  I’m sure any guy would swoon. 😉

(Still working on the food)  Thank goodness we didn’t go here for dinner.  Hm, we are all slowing down.  Do I still like chocolate?  Must finish.  Clean plate club.  Oh boy, this is going to hurt tomorrow.  Shoot, this hurts now.  Ok, almost there.  Wow, never eating chocolate or sweets or sugar again.  I’ll start a juice cleanse, yes good idea.  (Meanwhile get a text from our other friends in the city asking to meet up for hot chocolate the next day)  Ok maybe no juice cleanse just yet.  Oh boy, this feels like a hangover.  So worth it.

We stuck around for a bit, said our goodbyes, and then called it quits for the night.

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Brunch in Brooklyn

IMG_4802There’s something magical about finishing a workout with a healthy side of brunch.  I’m not sure if it throws me back to the days of cross country long runs, which were followed by a classic 2x2x2 at Hill Street Cafe, but it sure does make me a happy camper.

Brunch is a term that I was not very familiar with growing up.  It’s that awkward time in the day where you are either starving because you didn’t eat, starving because you just finished working out, or not really hungry because you already had breakfast.  Not to mention the fact that we weren’t really the “brunching” type – feeling overwhelmingly full midday just didn’t sound appealing.

But, when I came to New York, I realized we had been going about the process all wrong.  Here, brunching is an art.  It’s a habit, a hobby, an activity, a date, and outing. When you ask someone what they are doing on the weekend, inevitably they will tell you where they will be brunching.  How fabulous, no?

I still stand by the fact that I don’t like to be uncomfortably full midday, but that’s another story between me and my stomach.

IMG_4804I have learned my way around the city and have found that it’s always nice to dine out with a friend.  This time I was dining out with a new blogger friend, Nicole.  She is also planning to attend the Blent Retreat in just over one month and we thought it would be nice to meet up before hand.  She selected a number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants as she doesn’t fancy dairy and is most vegetarian.

IMG_4809 We met up in Brooklyn at a quaint little diner called Champs and boy was it a delight.  My friends already make fun of me and my love for diners, so I can’t wait to share this little gem with them.  Sure it’s vegan but don’t let that scare you away.  I was salivating over other items the minute I walked in the door. 

IMG_4805I had just finished a track workout with a couple of my friends and thought that a nice tall green juice would be worthwhile.  With the “Green Face” I would get all those vitamins in one fell swoop.

Speaking of green juices, they opened up a store in my hometown and my mom was utterly shocked at the prices.  Let’s just say I’m used to paying $8 a pop thanks to NYC prices.  That and the fact that there are some bottled varieties that range up to $12!

IMG_4812We chatted for quite some time as we eyed the menus, deciding between breakfast and lunch items.  From Drunken Cowgirl to Tofu Benedict to their Red Velvet Pancakes, it was a sure tough bet.  But, I’m a breakfast gal true and true and the stack of pancakes was calling my name.

IMG_4810Bananarama Pancakes ~  Some of the best I have ever had in my life.

IMG_4813I’m sure Mr. Pilsbury was eyeing my heaping plate of pancakes.  Or maybe he was keeping a lookout over the case of cakes, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls, all of which are vegan. Imagine that.

IMG_4817Champ’s Family Diner
176 Ainslie St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
*Cash only