A.K.A.: The day I had my cake and ate it, too at two iconic locations. I was in NYC for all of 6 hours today and somehow found my way into Two Little Red Hens and Laduree, all in one morning. My cousin Ann and I had made plans to go to Laduree, but luckily happened upon TLRH after a casual breakfast at Viand on the corner. After all the rave reviews we’d both heard, we had to go in.
I had heard of TLRH before, and I believe I’d even tasted one of their cupcakes, but the store felt like a dessert epiphany. It was more than just cupcakes— the cozy bakery filled its walls with cakes large and small, tiny bite-size cupcakes, cookies, scones, and biscuits, among other delights, served alongside piping hot lattes. My Cousin Ann and I ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the gorgeous sweets.
I settled on six miniature cupcakes (because I wanted to try pretty much everything there, and the mini allowed me a great variety without great guilt). From top left, clockwise: yellowcake with chocolate frosting, yellowcake with vanilla frosting (my boring favorite), red velvet cake, Brooklyn blackout, peanut butter fudge, and carrot cake.
After boxing up these tasty treats, and asking too many questions about the beautiful cakes, we made our way down to Laduree at 71st and Madison, taking a break for some Parisian delights. I had heard all about Laduree more than once from my friend Lindsay, who spent a semester living in Paris. Now that the patisserie has opened in NYC, it was on my must-try list. I was able to enjoy the authenticity, too— Laduree ships it’s macarons from Paris daily (so their secret recipe doesn’t get out!)
You can just sense from the magnificent windows that you’re walking into a special store. It has a European feel to it— naturally— as you find yourself gazing longingly at the variety of delicate sweets, from macarons to madeleines and tiny soaps shaped like French pastries. With the girls in the store dressed in the pink aprons worn by their counterparts in Paris, Laduree is truly an experience.
Though seemingly difficult, I was finally able to painstakingly choose 8 macarons, making sure to bring at least one of Lindsay’s favorites back to Philadelphia with me. They were wrapped up in a delicate box, placed in a beautiful bag, and I signed the receipt on a silver tray. Tres chic.
Upon returning to Philadelphia, we spent some time browsing (for our registry?) at Williams Sonoma, then grabbed dinner, and took our tiny sweet macarons to the park. Actually, sitting right in front of Parc. How Parisian.
We didn’t finish all of them, but we did get to sample some of the rainbow variety I brought home which included: raspberry, coffee, milk chocolate, amazing almond, pistachio, vanilla, and salted caramel.
I have to say, despite the quick trip and lengthy amount of time I spent on MegaBus today, it was a delightfully sweet Thursday. I think my sweet tooth is sated… at least for now…
This past weekend Slip and I had visitors: my parents! They came into town for my aunt’s wonderful birthday party on Saturday night, and then were here for father’s day on Sunday. We celebrated my dad by taking him to one of our favorite places to brunch, Kanella, a small Greek BYO in Society Hill. As usual, everything was excellent.
I had some OJ (the fresh-squeezed there can’t be missed, try it in a mimosa!) and one of their specials, a scramble made with swiss chard, a salty Greek cheese, and a savory Greek style pepperoni.
It wasn’t huge but it was just perfect and really hit the spot. My mom tried one of my favorites, to eat at Kanella or to make at home, shakshouka. This is eggs poached in a tomato and pepper stew, served with crisp grilled bread. She also got a side of bacon, which I must add was some of the best bacon I’ve had in quite a while.
Slip got a classic: the Kanella platter. That includes stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, falafel, fried eggplant, tomato salad, tzatziki, olives, and yummy pita bread. Nothing bad about that!
Finally my dad ordered one of the best and simplest things on the menu, the Cyprus breakfast. This includes 2 eggs fried in olive oil, halloumi cheese (amazingness), lounza (like Greek style Canadian bacon), and fresh bread. He also got a side of the homemade hot sauce— it was super spicy and very tasty! A tiny dab did the trick, but I would have liked to take an entire bottle home.
Everything was so delicious, as usual, and the weather was so nice to just enjoy a leisurely meal outside. After lunch we strolled down Spruce Street, enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon. A great way to celebrate the greatest dad in the world!
We returned home from Costa Rica a few nights ago and I can’t say enough good things about the trip. If you have wanderlust like me this is a must add to your to-go list. Flights were relatively inexpensive, the culture is amazingly friendly and warm, and the landscape was lush and beautiful. Plus, end of May/early June marks the beginning of the “green” season (read: rainy season). This was actually perfect for us— it meant a brief 15-30 minute rainstorm in the afternoon, usually around the time we were ready for a nap. It also meant that everything was way less crowded and less expensive that usual (i.e. December/January holiday season). All in all— I absolutely loved Costa Rica and I can’t wait to return!
We started in Arenal, a small town with a huge active volcano. It was so amazing seeing the shift of the volcano, from being completely covered with clouds to seeing the top clearly smoking.
Another favorite part of being here was the incredible landscaping at our hotel. Right outside our room and throughout the area were the most incredible flowers and trees.
After a few days in Arenal, which included horseback riding, swimming, and a really yummy Costa Rican breakfast buffet, we headed to Monteverde, the Cloud Forest. We took a taxi-boat-taxi route (exactly what it sounds like) to get there, the second “taxi” ride (it was really a shared van) taking about 2 1/2 hours on the worst roads ever— but so worth the trip. We passed through lush green mountains full of pastures of cows and horses.
We had so much fun in Monteverde, spending a morning exploring the hazily lit Cloud Forest, searching for wild animals and beautiful song birds.
We did a canopy tour in Monteverde, which sadly I don’t have any pictures of (hard to take pictures while you’re zipping through the air!) But I can say that one of the best ways to see a place is ziplining, “superman” style, over 1km of a green valley and taking in everything around you.
We also had some of our best meals in Monteverde, at a nearby “Soda”, the name of a Mom and Pop shop in Costa Rica. Our favorite was La Amistad— some of the best arroz con pollo and casado tipico around. Casado tipico is merely a typical meal, which includes rice, beans, plantains, a vegetable, a salad, and meat or fish. Here’s a La Amistad casado with chuleta, a pork chop:
After Monteverde we made the drive down to Manuel Antonio, perhaps my favorite place of all. Was it because of the friends we made down there?
Or maybe it was the incredible breakfast with a view…
Or the time by the (infinity) pools (overlooking the ocean at sunset)…
Whatever the reason, Manuel Antonio was definitely our favorite part of the trip. With the proximity to Costa Rica and the fun attitude of the people there, I cannot wait to return! Pura vida!
Some of our hotels have wifi, in which case expect some posts and pictures of local eats, volcanoes putting on a show, monkeys, and tropical birds. I am so excited!!