Friday, February 26, 2010

VS PINK Freebie: Fragrance Sampler

Fragrance samples

I wanted to get this post up quickly because I'm not positive how long this deal is going for- I figured better sooner rather than later :o)  If you sign up for Victoria's Secret's PINK Nation online, you will get sporadic offers for discounts and freebies, woo!  Right now (well, as of two days ago), the offer is for a free set of three PINK fragrance samples (above).  No purchase necessary- just print out the coupon and show them your ID!  These little bottles are great for traveling with, and chances are you'll probably at least like one of the three fragrances :o)  It's free to sign up, and if you opt in to get e-mails, they usually only come around 1/2x a month, I've found.  A month or so ago I got a free tank top, and just yesterday I got a mailing from them that included a coupon for free undies...score!  So what are you waiting for?  Go sign up! :o)  

Lunchtime Links for February 26th, 2010

More NYC Weekend Photos



Just thought this was so random, but sorta cool also.  A public bathroom in the Time Warner Center provided me some CNN embedded in the mirror as I'm washing my hands, haha.   



I've seen some of the Cupcake stuff at Borders before, but not this cake tray- so so so cute!  I sorta wish I had gotten it, since I haven't seen it around the Borders here lately :o(


Lots of theme M&M mixes!

I wouldn't normally go to Times Square but since it was nearby, I strolled around a little bit and found myself at the M&Ms store.  Love the wall of specialty mixed M&Ms!  Each one had a specific theme/name, like "NYC Taxicab", "NY Knicks", and lots of others.   



Errr..yeah.  Those are men's boxers.  Family-friendly, not so much?  Or am I just that immature? 


Museum of Modern Art



I also strolled around the Museum of Modern Art for a little while- it was not terribly crowded, which was v. nice.  Lots of great pieces- it's so easy to find yourself in there for hours without realizing it!  

Hi puppy!

Finally, we came across two adorable French bulldogs in a boutique store, and I just had to snap a pic.  This one was extra-super-cute thanks for to its little hoodie :o)

NYC Weekend: More Tasty Treats


A Taste of Maine

Weekend in NYC = Lots and lots of yummy food!  One stop during my weekend was to Luke's Lobster, a tiny little spot.  Originally I had intended on getting a lobster roll but decided to try A Taste of Maine instead, which is more of a sampler plate.  It consists of mini lobster, shrimp, and crab rolls, two empress claws, chips, and a drink.  This was a great way to try out a good majority of Luke's menu- delicious!  As you can sort of see in the photo, they don't really do fillers here- it's pretty much the seafood with a minimal amount of tweaking- letting the seafood really shine.  If I had to rank the rolls, i would definitely say 1) Lobster; 2) Crab; and 3) Shrimp.  The crab was surprisingly v. tasty- I guess I just assumed I would love the lobster roll the most, but it was v. close between the two.  Fantastic lunch! 


Momofuku Honey Nut Soft Serve + Corn Flake Crumble


Momofuku Compost Cookie 

Later, we stopped in Momofuku Milk Bar, and after trying a sample of the Salt & Pepper soft serve (um yeah...not sure how many people order full sizes of this), I got the honey nut soft serve with the corn flake crumble topping.  Sweet, salty, crunchy, smooth, Momofuku always does a great job with playing with taste, texture, and overall flavor.  I also picked up a Compost cookie to bring home- a little bit of everything and then some, packed into one handheld cookie.  


Two Little Red Hens Bakery


Lots of tasty options.


Mini Red Velvet cupcake



M and I also stopped by Two Little Red Hens bakery, which also had a frequently positive online review presence.  Lots of tasty-looking options were packed into a tiny spot - seems to be a running theme with the last three places we went to, haha.  The mini red velvet cupcake was really a one-bite deal, perfect ratio of frosting to the bright red, moist cake.  These would be adorable as part of a tea party or cocktail party.  The cheesecake was surprisingly lighter than it might look- really delicious and not too sweet either. 


There were lots of great things about fitting in a trip to Pinkberry before heading back home: 1) WOO Pinkberry!; 2) You are now allowed to fit in unlimited toppings- as long as it fits in the cup (aka not limited by x number of toppings per size/price); 3) Check out the CUTE cow/reindeer holiday yogurt cup!   


Cafe Zaiya goodies 

Lastly, here's my haul from Cafe Zaiya which I stuffed into a lunch cooler-bag to bring back home.  Top row: Curry pan, Pumpkin pan, Mini tsubu an pan.  Bottom row: Chocolate-dipped mochi donut, Sweet potato roll.   All of these were great, and some froze really well for me to eat later - in fact, I think all of the mini an pans are still in the freezer.  The sweet potato roll was fantastic- I wasn't sure what to expect but I'm really happy I tried it. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lunchtime Links for February 25th, 2010

Review: Ma Peche- Chambers Hotel, NYC

Midtown Lunch Menu

After reading about David Chang's latest Momofuku venture in the Chambers Hotel online, and then hearing that there was a special $10 Midtown Lunch menu, I knew I had to try it out ASAP.  Luckily, I had some time to head over for a quick weekday lunch on my last trip to NYC.  The mezzanine space is lofted above the lobby of the hotel, and it's pretty small and crowded.  As you can see the menu (above) it's a short but interesting selection.  Honestly- I would've tried to try them all at once.  Realistically, I knew I could order only one- so I went with the Bun du riz. 


Bun de Riz

As you can see on the menu, this dish consists of: rice noodles, pork ragout, and saw leaf herb.  I tried a few bites on its own, and then with a few squirts of Sriracha (I can't resist).  Wow.  Wowowowowowowowow.  The chewy, partly crispy noodles with the crunchy toppings, crisp-tender veggies, and the smattering of porky bits = OMGSOGOOD.  I literally was torn between shoving this in my mouth as quickly as possible vs. letting each bite linger for as long as I could stand it, haha.  It's not a novel combination of ingredients, but David Chang stuff rarely is- it's more like, he takes something good, and makes it his own, and it's usually AWESOME. 


Momofuku Milk Bar Peanut Butter Cookie 

Although I could only eat one dish there, you know I couldn't resist adding on a Momofuku cookie to my lunch.  Luckily it came wrapped up so I could save it for later.  I had this once I got back home from NYC, and it was buttery, smooth, and with a strong peanut butter flavor.  I'm actually glad I saved it, because if I tried to eat it immediately after lunch, I probably would've been too full to enjoy it as much as I did.   

I'm super happy with my first visit here (in case you couldn't tell) and I can't wait to go back and try it out again!   

Mini Review: Cop Out Movie

I recently had the chance to attend a free advanced screening of "Cop Out", again thanks to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.  Honestly, I had pretty low expectations for this movie, but figured I'd go cus it was free, haha.  Mostly because Tracey Morgan sort of annoys me, and I knew he was a major character in this film. 

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  It was pretty funny for most of the film, and everyone in the theatre was laughing pretty much through the whole thing.  It still has the usual "buddy cop" plot points so there probably won't be any surprises for most people.  Still, the story was interesting enough and like I said, was funnier than I expected it to be.  I was surprised to find out that Kevin Smith directed it, but it makes sense cus it was filled with pretty crude jokes, and had Jason Lee in it, haha. 

I'm not going to tell you all to run out and see it, but if you're in the mood for something light and silly, go for it, haha.  "Thank you!" to the museum for the chance to see it! The movie is out nationwide this Friday, 2/26. 

Review: More Treats @ Bouchon Bakery, NYC

Nonfat Latte + Chocolate-Almond Croissant

The morning after the Lady Gaga concert, I found myself with some time to kill on my own.  I took advantage of being in a great location and headed over to Bouchon Bakery to see if I could get something that I didn't get on my last visit there.  

I got there mid-morning, which might have contributed to the somewhat lacking quantity of breakfast items.  I love sweets any time of the day, but I wanted it to have some semblance of a morning food, haha.  Hence, the chocolate-almond croissant above.  The croissant had the great shatter of a classic flaky croissant crust, and an even schmear of thick chocolate in the middle.  I couldn't eat it all but it was a perfect way to start the morning.     

The Namesake: Chocolate Bouchon

Yes, it was mid-morning, but I couldn't resist!  The tiny little chocolate bouchons looked so cute, and I didn't get this last time, so I picked up two for E and I to try later in the day.  For being so small, these are PACKED with decadent chocolate!  I could easily see myself polishing off a half-dozen of these at once, eek!   

Bouchon Bakery is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to try out new treats, especially in the morning.  If I personally had one of these near me, that would be so so so dangerous.  But for now, I will undoubtedly enjoy their offerings as much as my schedule allows when I'm in NYC :o)  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lunchtime Links for February 24th, 2010

Review: Sephora by OPI Nail Color

Shade: Run With It!

Shade: Water Baby 

I've noticed the Sephora by OPI nail polishes before but only recently checked out the selection with the intention of buying one.  I was in the market for a nude-silverish color that would be good for everyday wear.  The first shade, Run With It!, is a taupeish color with a hint of lilac in it.  It has a little shimmer to it but isn't metallic at all.  It takes a few coats to get opaque coverage, but it's a great neutral shade that is still different enough for people to notice it.  

The second shade, Water Baby, was more of an impulse purchase- it was in the sale section of the Times Square Sephora when I was in NYC a few weeks back.  It looked like more of a metallic light silver so I figured it'd be different than the Run With It! shade.  Unfortunately, it was different, in a pretty negative way.  It was bright metallic silver on- almost like car paint, haha.  I wore it for a week but probably wouldn't use it again for everyday use- except maybe on my toes :o)   

If you are in the market for nail polish and you already shop at Sephora for makeup, I'd recommend checking out the Sephora by OPI polishes.  Be sure to try out the tester polishes beforehand so you'll know what to expect in the real-life color (which I couldn't do with the second one since it was on sale).   

Ping Pong Dim Sum - Chinese New Year Party

As random events would have it, I found myself (with J again) at Ping Pong Dim Sum exactly a week after our first trip there for Happy Hour.  I won two invites to their Chinese New Year Party on February 2nd via Twitter.  I wasn't really sure what to expect at this party, but I figured it was a fun (free) event, and maybe I could try out some different menu offerings this time around.  


Starting to get crowded at the bar


Lemongrass and lime cocktail

J's Ginger and limoncello caipirinha


Open kitchen/bar area


Dumpling demo table


Pear and bubble tea (subbed vodka in for the tequila)


Kumquat mojito from the Cockail demo table


Chinese New Year celebrations
We definitely got more than we expected- free food, free drinks, different demo tables, fun DJ, and a great crowd!  The drinks were...A-MA-ZING.  So so so so so tasty.  Probably helps that I love these types of drinks- fresh flavors, mixed and muddled to order, lots of different interesting components without getting too crazy just for the sake of it.  I honestly was pretty amazed that the bartenders made the cocktails to order, start to finish- these are pretty labor-intensive drinks they have here!  And it was a large crowd to handle, but everything seemed to be running smoothly.  And I didn't take any photos of the food, but they were being passed around the crowd- I tried the Crispy hoi sin duck spring roll (delicious, piping hot), Vegetable bun (also v. tasty), and the Crispy prawn ball which I had on my previous meal here.  I think there were a few other dishes being passed around but I couldn't get to them as fast as the crowd did, haha.  

Supa-swag bag!

To top it all off, we were given these fun-tastic gift bags when we left the party!  A container of several of their flowering teas (!!), a mini bamboo steamer, lacquered logo chopsticks, a copy of their menu, and a traditional Chinese New Year envelope with a gift card inside.  Awesome! 

Overall I was much more satisfied with the drinks that I got this time around, and had a really great time at this party. It was a great way to try out the different cocktails - obvi helped that they gave us two for free, plus a Cocktail demo table to get drinks as well :o) It was a great crowd and everyone really seemed to enjoy the party!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lunchtime Links for February 23rd, 2010

  • City Bakery: Hot chocolate + Pretzel croissant, yum!
  • Haha: Giada loves hot nuts... like really really LOVES.
  • Cute: Little piggy.
  • Cafe Zaiya: Two new bakery offerings.
  • Apps Only: Hibino restaurant.

Review: Ping Pong Dim Sum DC Happy Hour

I've known about it being open for a while, but I finally got around to trying the relatively new Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown at the end of January, with J and her friend.  None of us had been there before so it was a good chance to try out the place- also helped that they have a good Happy Hour (I think  it's 4pm-7pm?, selected dim sum is $3, drinks start at $4). 


Earl Grey Julep

I ordered the Earl Grey Julep above, which is "Buffalo Trace bourbon infused with earl-grey tea, stirred vigorously with mint and sugar".  Two problems with the drink, both my fault: 1) I didn't look at the menu long/carefully enough and just picked it for the "earl grey" aspect; and 2) I hate bourbon.  The drink was interesting, it's just that the strong bourbon taste totally killed it for me.  But like I said, it was totally my fault for ordering something I don't like, haha.   

The food that we ordered is more or less about 90% of what is offered during Happy Hour.  Each table has a little checklist of dim sum dishes- the ones that are offered at the Happy Hour discount are marked accordingly.  You check off which ones you want, the server takes your order that way, and each item is crossed off as it is delivered to the table.  Here's a look at what we ordered to share:


Chicken puff


Pork puff


Crispy prawn ball


Vegetable spring roll


Coriander dumpling


Spicy vegetable dumpling

My favorites of the bunch were the crispy prawn ball and the spicy vegetable dumplings.  The prawn ball was a horrific mess to eat (the fried "noodle"ish parts shattered and flew all over the table when I tried to bite in to it, haha) but it was tasty, especially with the dipping sauce.  The spicy veggie dumplings had a great flavor to them and had a good kick to them. 

Overall the food was good, but I was a little disappointed at the lack of variety in the Happy Hour food offerings.  As you can see the items were a little repetitive in terms of the preparations.  Obviously you are welcome to order off of the regular menu, but since the prices were good for Happy Hour we stuck with those (with the exception of the coriander dumpling, I believe).  The atmosphere was v. modern but comfortable.  I would like to try one of their set lunch menus sometime, which will have to be on a weekend since I work in MD. 

As you will see in a later post, I had a much better experience here at their Chinese New Year party about a week after we came here for Happy Hour, especially in the Drinks department :o)

Hi Kobe!

After Ping Pong Dim Sum, I walked over to the Verizon Center to check out the Lakers/Wizards game with my friend P.  It was fun to see them play, since there's about 0% chance of me ever seeing them among the celebs in the Staples Center in LA, haha. 


Random swag bag

In addition to being Free Wizards Scarf night (which we saw people carrying, but didn't get ourselves), we also were handed these Census-sponsored tote bags, which contained a snack bag of Veggie straws.  Random. 

Review: Shutter Island Movie

I recently won passes to check out an advanced screening of "Shutter Island", thanks to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in DC.  I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have gone out to see this movie myself, since I am terrified of all horror/thriller-type movies.  However, it was free, and I figured that it would still be a good movie, being a DiCaprio/Scorsese combo and all.

Well, I'll be honest- the movie scared me a lot at times, haha.  But it was definitely an interesting film with great use of flashbacks.  The music was v. dramatic and led the mood of the scenes a lot.  It was more of a mental thriller vs. a gory-scenes based movie, in case you prefer one over the other.  I think this movie will reach a v. wide and varied audience, and it seems to already be doing well based on this past (opening) weekend.  Definitely check it out if you're in the mood for it, or put it in your Netflix queue :o)

Shutter Island Swag

One random but nice surprise was the swag bag I received when I went to pick up my passes at the museum.  It contained a copy of the book "Shutter Island", hat, 2 plastic cups, and a bumper sticker/bookmark?  The sort of creepy thing is when you put all the items together like I did for the photo, all you see are Leo's "pensive/creepy?" face looking at you like 4 times at once, haha!  A big "Thank You!" to the museum for the goodies and a chance to see the movie for free!  

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lunchtime Links for February 22nd, 2010

Love, Love, Love: Madden Girl Shoes

My interest (ok, fine obsession) with Madden Girl shoes didn't really start until I was in the market for fun wedding/party shoes at DSW a while back.  I came across the Luckiie Sequined Platform in Black, and they were (are) so fantastic, comfy, and fun, I got them in Bronze and Gold as well.  Since then, I've found myself gravitating towards the Madden Girl brand for the cute styles, great prices, and comfort level.  I think that close to 90% of the shoes I regularly wear are Madden Girls, haha.  My recent DSW haul was literally ALL Madden Girl shoes, and I'm super excited to wear them all!  I know my friend S has the Aliza (1st photo below) and liked them a lot- they were on clearance at DSW recently so I had to get them for myself!  I would highly recommend checking out this brand next time you're in a DSW- look for the royal purple shoeboxes :o)



Lady Gaga @ Radio City Music Hall, NYC

Some photos from the AMAZING Lady Gaga concert that E and I went to in NYC on January 21st.  So so so so so awesome!!!  If you're a fan of hers at all, I HIGHLY recommend that you try to see her in concert at least one- such a fantastic performance with all sorts of set design and costume changes throughout.

My Ticket!


Radio City Music Hall!

The Lobby full of fans


Awesome background



Love the Disco Bra, haha

At the piano