Tag Archives: restaurants

Philly, Hey!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies. One minute I’m traveling; the next I’m back in school preparing assignments and presentations. Sometimes, I truly wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.

Last month, right before I started my my second semester as a Graduate Student, I decided to do a small weekend getaway trip, with some of my girls, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I booked us a really nice hotel room in Center City at Loews Philadelphia Hotel. We had such a breathtaking view of the city. It was one of those views that reminded you of the beauty of architecture and sunlight brightening up the sky, and the serenity created by skyscraper lights. Can you tell I love cities? Because I do. I’ll admit Philadelphia is far from my favorite city but on that weekend, it definitely grew on me.

We decided to walk to our first destination. It was supposed to snow in a few hours and we wanted to enjoy walking, while we could. It wasn’t too cold so it was perfect. In the middle of Midtown Village we came across Finn McCools Ale House.  Here I discovered and had my first White Russian. I don’t know much about cocktails, and at 25 maybe I should know a little more than I do,  but wow was it strong. Luckily, I shared the drink with my friend. We left Finn’s very happy and probably a tad buzzed.

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As we walked towards the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens we came across beautiful murals and graffiti art. Had to stop and take pictures.

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The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is a beautiful project that started in the late 1960s by Isaiah Zagar. It’s a remarkably stunning work of art that opened up to the public in 2008. At first sight, you can’t help but to look in awe at how detailed everything is. Every corner, every inch, is truly magical. We literally stayed there for about two hours just mesmerized by everything. We took so many pictures wanting to capture every moment we created there.

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It started getting colder and that was pretty much our cue to walk back towards are next destination. On the way, we stopped by Strangelove’s Bar. I’m 100% a beer girl so I was more than enthusiastic to try something new. We ended up spending about 1.5 hours just talking and enjoying our beer selection. It was a nice spot and we clearly got sucked into the vibe.

Before heading to Philly, almost everyone I talked to told me to check out the Reading Terminal Market and that’s what we did next. At this point we were starving and all we wanted was food. The place was crowded and the options to eat felt endless. We ended up separating, half of us got Philly Cheesesteaks  while the rest of us got some Soul Food at Keven Parker’s Soul Food Cafe. I devoured my food. It was absolutely mouth watering delicious. There’s no other way of putting it. We couldn’t leave the Market without getting some famous Beiler’s Donuts. The line was insane but totally worth it.

It was early, around 7PM, but it was raining, and phones were dying, so we decided to head back to the hotel to charge for a bit. The plan was to head back out for a few more bar hops, before preparing for our evening festivities, but the bed felt too good for a few of us. The rest of the group headed down to the hotel bar. Never underestimate the hotel bar! You might just end up having a pleasant time with some fancy delicious cocktail, that you keep calling by the wrong name…yep, totally me.

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Eventually, we got dressed for the night. It was an interesting one to say the least. If I had to summarize the night in one word it would be random. We spent most of our night at Time Restaurant. It was a great place divided into three sections: one for dancing, one for live music and one for simply sitting and drinking. After that we somehow ended up at Wawa. That had to be the most crowded Wawa I’ve ever seen.

The next day, before heading back to my house we had Brunch at the famous, and highly loved, Green Eggs Cafe. Beforehand, we had mimosas at Caribou Café, a Parisian bistro, to kill the 1 hr and 45min wait we had at Green Eggs. It was such a cute little French place it took everything in me to not order food.

To end our Philly adventure we took a picture with the Love sign like any other tourist. It was absolutely freezing at this point and we couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

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Philly, was a good adventure. The trip definitely warmed me up to its possibilities. Philadelphia might not have the best public transportation system, but it’s not lacking great bars and places to eat. So if you want a nice weekend getaway why not give Philly a try? I did.

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Last Few Days In Cali.

Time flies when you’re busy.

“Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.” – Pablo Coelho

Seven months ago, I took a trip to California with two of my close friends, and since then time has been speeding; without caring for any stop sign in sight.
I never finished sharing the rest of my west coast adventures with everyone.
[Catch Up] So I figured, what better way to close 2016 than by reminiscing these next few days with my readers.

On Saturday, May 28, 2016, we woke up super excited because we were finally going to see the famous Venice Beach. We put on our cutest bathing suits ready to have our movie scene moment…you know, that scene where all you see is hot guys as you walk down the strip.

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After we ate lunch in the Los Angeles Flower District, in this small area they have closed off for food vendors (had some Salvadoran Pupusas and some fresh Horchata water,) we headed straight to Venice Beach. It took us a bit to find some parking, but when we did and got out the car, we couldn’t believe it… it was COLD! We chose the coldest day of our trip to go to the beach. Thank goodness I had my leather jacket!

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We walked the strip suffering from the cold, but enjoying our surroundings. It was a cool beach with a relaxing vibe. It was filled with all sorts of vendors and people exercising, biking, surfing, playing basketball, weightlifting; just doing all sorts of activities.

Afterward, we went into a bar to change into our night outfits, which were also a huge fail. We all wore maxi dresses and headed to Santa Monica, CA where it seemed to be even colder. When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to TJ Maxx to get Damaris a cardigan and myself a scarf. Luckily, Damaris found a decent cardigan but unfortunately, they just finished selling the last scarf. I was disappointed, scarfs are my lifesavers for any cold emergency.

We had dinner at this super chic Greek restaurant called Inotheke. The food was very delicious. It was one of those places where you wished the food portions weren’t so small because the dishes were just too good. Ye Olde King’s Head British Pub was our next stop for some drinks. We really enjoyed ourselves there to the point that we stayed till closing. Steph and Damaris played a few rounds of darts, while I mingled with the crowd. We ended our night with a stroll down the Promenade where we enjoyed some street performances since of course, all the stores were closed.

On Sunday morning we woke up starving…well at least I did. I was excited because I knew we were finally going to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. The wait was long and felt eternal! When we were finally seated and they gave me my glass of orange juice, I literally shed a few tears from how amazing it tasted! Till this day, I have not had such an amazing freshly squeezed orange juice as I did that Sunday morning at Roscoe’s. Needless to say, the food exceeded my expectations and I ate so much I probably gained a few pounds.

We headed back to Albert’s apartment to put on our hiking gear and head to Griffith Observatory.

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The view from the observatory was absolutely stunning. Amidst all of the people, it was still peaceful to be surrounded by such beauty. 

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Ready to workout all of the food we finished eating at Roscoe’s; we headed towards the Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail.

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The journey up was incredible. I kept wanting to stop and admire all the wonderful views. Probably why it took us forever to get to the top. There’s just something about a hike that makes you appreciate all of the small things. You realize all your troubles are small compared to how vast the world is. In a world that might never lack problems, hope is the one thing that we cannot lose. 

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The sun started setting and everything seemed to be shining. It was breathtaking.

By the time we started heading down we were all exhausted. The trail is about four miles up and four miles down. After eight miles, I was ready for bed, but Steph and Damaris were craving more crêpes. You would think we went to France with all the crepes they craved throughout our trip. I was suckered into getting one too at Crêpes Sans Frontieres. The restaurant was quaint and had an awesome French vibe. I couldn’t help but love it. My anything French obsession is beyond my capabilities of self-control.

Then they were craving ice cream. You all should have seen my face. I can’t help but laugh when I think back to it now. Albert took us to Peddler’s Creamery. Here they made fresh ice cream in a unique way. It involves a bicycle and someone having to ride it, simply to produce the ice cream. Click on the link and check it out because it’s super cool. In the end, I was glad we got the ice cream. 

Finally, exhaustion dawned on everyone. It was time to call it a night.

To be continued…

Exploring My Backyard

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Mark Twain

With graduate school and work being my top priorities, it feels like I don’t have time for much. However, I realized that for not having time like I used to, I have been doing quite a lot. Yes, clearly except for keeping up with this blog, which I truly apologize for.

So you may be asking yourself, what exactly have I been up to with my limited time? Well school work, of course! But also exploring my backyard. No, not my actual backyard, there’s not much there but a great space for contemplating life. What I mean is that I have been exploring New Jersey and my surroundings. I love to travel, but when you have so much going on, seeing what new adventures you may find close to home doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

I realized that for not being much of a big deal, New Jersey can be quite surprising, and with neighbors like New York and Pennsylvania can one really complain? Alright, yes, but you get my drift.

My backyard exploring began with wine tasting at the Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, NJ.

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There are so many wineries in NJ and PA that I have no idea why I haven’t become a winery expert by now. It’s honestly the perfect thing to do on a cool Sunday afternoon with a few friends.

Where I found myself next? Well….Even though Atlantic City seems like it’s not part of NJ, well at least to me, it actually is. My best friend Shakia and I attended the 2016 Atlantic City Seafood Festival.

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As I walked in I asked myself if there was such a thing as too much seafood and beer?

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“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost” – Erol Ozan

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I had what, at that time, tasted like the best Crab Mac and Cheese ever! My taste buds were so happy they urged me to take a cup with me home. Unfortunately, the next day it wasn’t as marvelous. It must of been the hunger and moment wrapped into one.

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We came across a friendly Chowder cook-off. All proceeds went to charity so it was only right to taste ALL of the Chowders. I never had so much Chowder (corn, clam, vegetarian) in my life! I think I had enough for the next year and a half.

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To finish off our adventure at the AC Seafood Festival we did a beer tasting of New Jersey beers! It couldn’t have been anymore perfect! Never underestimate the power of a good ‘ol festival. There are tons of festivals all year around. Look up some festivals in your backyard and give it a try, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Philadelphia Restaurant Week snuck up on me, but there was no way I was missing out. Shakia and I ended up going to Fratelli’s Italian Bistro where I had the Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms, Penne Alla Vodka, and Tiramisu for desert.

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I would give the restaurant/food a 3/4. Food and service could have been better but it was still good overall. I think I’m going to make it my personal mission to indulge in Restaurant Week every time. There are just so many restaurants! And I sure do love food!

Then I found myself creating art at ArteVino Studio in Hoboken, NJ for my friend Stephany’s birthday. This would make my fourth painting! Maybe I should open up my own studio at the rate that I’m going, but paint and wine events are so much fun. There’s a ton available all over, not only in NJ, NY or PA!

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I wasn’t really pleased with how my painting came out, but I had a great time with my friends and the experience was well worth it.

I like to think that I can do it all because time will never be just right. I don’t fear stress or being tired (my newfound life on a daily basis,) but I do fear not being able to explore and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Though I’m swamped with adulthood, I will never stop looking for my next adventure, even if it’s in my own backyard, and neither should you.

I love to eat

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

I love to eat and I am not ashamed of it. I hate diets but I do enjoy a good workout! I have tried dieting once or twice but I just cannot stop myself from eating whatever I want. I rather eat, work out and continue eating! Why limit myself if I am treating my body right at the end of the day?

This past week, my best friend Linda kept sending me pictures of delicious meals she had, at different restaurants, as a part of New York Restaurant Week. Needless to say, I was jealous I couldn’t join her.

I decided to look up if Philadelphia had a Restaurant Week and to my surprise there was a Philadelphia Center City Restaurant Week January 17-22 and 24-29. I think I almost jumped for joy when I saw the webpage starring at me on my computer screen. Three-course dinners for only $35 per person at any center city restaurant provided. Next thing you know I made reservations for five (with a high-chair) at La Famiglia Ristorante.

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The restaurant was very intimate and sophisticated. The lighting was dim and there was no background music, but rather the sounds of talk and laughter. The waiters were beyond attentive. I cannot remember the last time I have received such great service. They went out of their way to make sure we were pleased with absolutely everything. It was a very pleasant experience.

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The menu consisted of Italian cuisine. Each dish was written in Italian with an English description of what it was. I had the following three courses:

Appetizer: Gnocchi Sorrentina
Homemade gnocchi with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil sauce
Entrée: Vitello Mandolese
Veal medallions stuffed with Prosciutto and mozzarella cheese served in wine sauce
Dessert: Dolce Misto
A sampling of Italian desserts: poached pear with a cranberry sauce, lemon cake with a vanilla sauce, chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate sauce

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Everything was absolutely delicious. I was not disappointed with a single thing that I ate that evening. My friends and I had an exceptional time and even the pickiest eater of the group enjoyed her plate to the fullest!

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The night was a complete success! I definitely am going to take full advantage next time Restaurant Week comes around. Like I always say, there’s nothing like a new experience so do not be afraid to try something new, even if it is food.

Cheers to a good night!

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Thoughts & Experiences

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I can’t believe my study abroad experience is almost over! I sit here writing this realizing how much I’ve experienced and how much I have grown as a person. The days are quickly flying and December is around the corner. Each day I experience something new.

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For instance, Friday I had my first digestif.  My host mom took my host sister and I to an Italian restaurant named Phenix. I ordered this delicious pasta that had a creamy orange sauce, peas, mushrooms, and this italian pork, lardo. Afterwards, my host mom insisted I tried Limoncello. It is an Italian lemon liquor mainly produced in Southern Italy. It was a pretty strong drink.  Definitely after 3 Limoncello’s the capacity to function normally lowers because the one shot of Limoncello I had made me so tired. You don’t see people drinking digestifs in America after a meal. Interesting to know that in some cultures that is completely normal.

So far I’ve visited Antwerp, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria and I have a trip planned for Budapest, Hungary this upcoming weekend! I love that I’m visiting places I never would of even imagined myself in. Most of these places I didn’t even know of! This experience has shown me how much there is to see in the world! How the world is just filled with opportunities! Dreams and determination can take you a long way!

Snack Shops

Marinara Chicken Pita Wrap for lunch! 🙂

What comes to mind when you hear the word snack?

Well I think of chips, candy, chocolates, pastries, even fruits if I’m feeling healthy. You know the type of things you would usually find in a corner store in the States.

If you go to a snack shop in Belgium don’t expect to find that! There will most likely be “frites” Belgian fries, pita wraps, food, and a ton of incredients to have someone make you your own sub! That’s a snack in Belgium! I have a feeling that a snack to them is what we consider lunch! Talk about a culture difference! 

My internship boss invited all the interns out for lunch today.

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She wanted  to thank us for putting in so much hard work for the Art Fair coming up next week. (Check out the website for Accessible Art Fair it’s pretty cool!) She took us to Snack Libonais a very chill snack shop with seating in the back. She ordered Marinara Chicken Pita wraps for all four of us with “Frites!” It was absolutely delicious! This place might be a problem for me in the near future! 🙂

Well as they say here “Bon Appetite”