Sunday, April 5, 2015

NYC Part 4: The Met, Central Park, and BROADWAY

Considering I was only in New York for a week, you are probably wondering how long I plan on drawing out this trip, huh? The truth is that New York was such a magical place for me that I really don't want to stop reminiscing, because then I must admit to myself that it's truly over. That is part of the problem that I find with traveling. In the days leading up to your travels, you spend all of your time planning and anticipating what is to to come...and before you know it, all that you had to look forward to is just a distant memory. I think that is part of what creates a wanderlust in people--in order to sustain that adventurous feeling, they must keep traveling. 

Nonetheless, let's talk about my Tuesday adventures in New York. (I have included the map again for reference.)

We started our day off by taking a wrong turn on our way to Grand Central Station and ended up at the New York Public Library. (Don't ask me how we managed to go the wrong way...) Our poor navigation actually turned out to be a blessing as we hadn't visited this site yet. The inner Holly Golightly in me was going wild! Do you remember the NY Public Library scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's? Paul finds Holly reading up on South America and tells her he loves her. <sigh>  I had high hopes of reenacting that scene and taking some fun pictures, but no such luck. Never did I ever think it would be so difficult to actually access books in a library. Who would have guessed?! We had to settle on posing with the famous lions instead. 

They had the most adorable hats in the gift shop!

After spending some time in the library, we decided it was probably time that we correctly navigate ourselves to Grand Central Station. In the spirit of reenacting movie/television scenes, I decided that I needed a picture at Grand Central since Serena van der Woodsen makes her grand entrance here in the pilot episode. (Can you tell I'm all about pretending I'm the characters from my favorite television shows and movies? I don't think I will ever outgrow that!)

After catching the correct Subway, we hopped off near The Met. I know I would disappoint y'all if I didn't grab breakfast to eat on the steps of the Met, because that is what any true Gossip Girl fan would do. So that is exactly what I did!

Blair Waldorf would be disappointed that the girl to the right was above me on the steps.
Tsk tsk.

Fresh croissants and pastries! Mmm!
While we were enjoying our late breakfast, there were street performers with a crowd of people surrounding them. They were so fun! They sang barber shop style and one of the men would pause between each song to put a plug in. My favorite was: "Book us for your wedding!!!" Noted.

Feeling a little more energized from our carbohydrate heaven, we wandered on into The Met. The galleries we spent the most time in included: Egyptian Art, Arts of Africa, European Sculptures, Greek and Roman Art, and Modern and Contemporary Art. How cool is it to say that you've seen a Picasso original in real life? I really don't know much of anything about art, but I did get excited about the Picasso paintings. 

The girl on the bench was sketching one of the sculptures.
She was so good!

Pretending to have an artistic eye...I don't

After deciding we were cultured out, we assumed the position back on the steps of the Met...aka we found a food vendor and stuffed our faces, as per usual. I tried some delicious falafel. So good!

Right next door to the Met was Central Park. Unfortunately, we picked the gloomiest day of our trip to spend time there. Between the slushy snow and gray skies, we didn't get the "true" Central Park experience complete with flourishing flowers and blue skies. However, we did walk off some of our late breakfast and lunch before hailing a cab back to our hotel. That's right, we hailed our own cab like a couple of pros. Okay. We more-or-less, awkwardly begged for a cab. (I think it was clear that we weren't locals.) 

Since it was a little chillier that day and we were worn out, we rested up before dressing up for our night on Broadway. Let me say that again: BROADWAY! I never thought I would be able to casually say in conversation, "Yeah, that one time I went to a Broadway show in New York..." No big deal, right? Your dreams really do come true in New York.

After several failed attempts of flagging down a cab during rush hour in the pouring rain, we finally had to purchase an umbrella and walk to the show. This was one of the many setbacks we had during our trip that end up being the best stories.

Finally we were there. Hellooooo Amsterdam theater! We met Morgan's friend, Caleb there. He is studying theater at the City College and was the perfect person to accompany us at Aladdin

Caleb, Morgan, and I
(My hair lost all curl from that downpour!)
I cannot even put into words how incredible Aladdin was. I am still trying to figure out how the magic carpet was flying through the air. I looked so hard to find any strings or cords too!

After the show, we were pretty hungry and decided to try out a sushi place. Since I eat sushi quite a bit back in Illinois, I decided to try their Ramen. You better believe I ate nearly every last bit of that gigantic bowl!

And with a full belly, that's another memorable New York day in the books!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Simple Açaí Bowl

Ahh. Saw. EE.
Say it with me.
Ahh. Saw. EE.

Perfect. Now that we can all properly pronounce this delicious berry with origins in South America, it is time that I introduce you to the Açaí Bowl. I first stumbled across a picture of an Açaí Bowl about a year ago when I was killing time looking through Instagram photos. The picture of that beautiful thing stopped me in my tracks. Ever since then, I have been on an unsuccessful hunt for these delicious smoothie-like creations. Finally, I took it upon myself to make it at home. 

Here enters my Simple Açaí Bowl.

After searching far and wide, I finally got my hands on the Açaí berry packs in the frozen section of a local health foods grocery store. I had looked at a Kroger first and had no luck in spotting any. Depending on where you live, you might have a greater of variety in your frozen fruit section. 

I also wanted to give credit to the blog The Pig and Quill as this is the blog that I looked to for information on making my first bowl. 

As you can probably tell from the pictures, an Açaí Bowl is essentially a smoothie made with açaí berries and a variety of toppings. These bowls are growing in popularity, which became evident when there were almost 600,000 hits with a simple Google search. Here are the ingredients and instructions for how I made mine. (I ate this entire bowl, but you could easily share with a friend as I was quite full.) 

For the smoothie base:

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 açaí pack
  • 2 oz. unsweetened almond milk
Smoothie instructions:
  • Blend all ingredients together. (I used a Magic Bullet.)
  • For a thicker consistency, use less almond milk and all frozen fruit.
  • If you prefer thinner amounts, use fresh berries and banana with more almond milk for the desired consistency. (This is a trial and error process!)
For the toppings:
  • dark chocolate granola
  • other half of the banana
  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • frozen blueberries

Topping instructions:

  • Simply add as much or as little of your favorite toppings. Here are some other topping ideas:
    • almonds
    • chia seeds
    • strawberries
    • pomegranate seeds
    • almond butter
    • kiwi
    • pineapple
    • honey
  • The best part is making your creation look pretty and fun to eat. Be creative!

After having this smoothie bowl for breakfast this morning, I can certainly understand the hype. I am excited to try out different variations in the future. 

Have you ever tried an Açaí Bowl before? What were your favorite toppings?