Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MAC Vibe Tribe: Wild Horses Eyeshadow Palette


Last Thursday, MAC launched their major summer colour collection called Vibe Tribe: "Open up to the eternal energy of the sun. Sound and self-expression converge in the vast canvas of the desert. Animated by art, music, creativity and soul, an exhilarating festival unfolds." Vibe Tribe includes a total of 32 products, of which 18 are new and limited edition, four are re-promotes, and ten are permanent. This collection sees the release of two eyeshadow quads, both of which are new and limited edition. They are housed special packaging with "graphic geometric patterns woven in eye-catching hues." Each palette contains a total of 5.6 grams of product and retails for $43.50.

Clockwise from top left: Brulé, Charcoal Brown, Blue Mesa, and Wild Horses

Brulé, Charcoal Brown, Blue Mesa, and Wild Horses

Brulé is a light warm creamy beige in a Satin finish. This is a permanent shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is warmer and less shimmery than Shroom, darker than Blanc Type, and more muted than Vanilla.
Charcoal Brown is a medium-deep cool muted taupe brown in a Matte finish. This is a permanent shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is cooler than Espresso, warmer and more brown than Coquette, and lighter and warmer than Concrete.
Blue Mesa is a medium cool brightened turquoise blue in a Satin finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. There is nothing similar to this in MAC's permanent range; it is darker and more green-toned than Electric Eel.
Wild Horses is a dark cool espresso brown in a Satin finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is similar to Brun, warmer than Concrete, and cooler than Mystery.

I found all four shades in this palette to be incredibly finely-milled, pigmented, and easy to layer and blend out — I had no issues with fallout or powdery kickback. The shadows go on smoothly and are beautiful as individual shades; Brulé, Charcoal Brown, and Wild Horses are great neutral workhorse shades that everybody can use, and also work well together to create cohesive looks. I love the inclusion of such a stunning bright shade like Blue Mesa to really give an otherwise neutral palette a gorgeous pop of colour (if putting a bright turquoise all over your lids seems daunting, it's actually beautiful worn as a liner under the eye, which is also on trend right now!). However, I wish that they had included all new and limited edition shades rather than stick in two permanent ones. Given that building a custom quad is now $42, it's just not worth it for those who already own Brulé and Charcoal Brown to get this palette. That having been said, it's a surprisingly versatile palette (both Charcoal Brown and Wild Horses can be used as eyebrow and liner shades as well) with a fun pop of colour that's perfect for summer.

MAC Vibe Tribe: Call of the Canyon Eyeshadow Palette


Last Thursday, MAC launched their major summer colour collection called Vibe Tribe: "Open up to the eternal energy of the sun. Sound and self-expression converge in the vast canvas of the desert. Animated by art, music, creativity and soul, an exhilarating festival unfolds." Vibe Tribe includes a total of 32 products, of which 18 are new and limited edition, four are re-promotes, and ten are permanent. This collection sees the release of two eyeshadow quads, both of which are new and limited edition. They are housed special packaging with "graphic geometric patterns woven in eye-catching hues." Each palette contains a total of 5.6 grams of product and retails for $43.50.

Clockwise from top left: Call of the Canyon, Fool's Gold, Summer Sun, and Thunderbolt

Call of the Canyon, Fool's Gold, Summer Sun, and Thunderbolt

Call of the Canyon is a light warm brightened champagne beige in a Veluxe Pearl finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is slightly more muted than Nylon, brighter than Dazzlelight, and brighter and more yellow than Shroom.
Fool's Gold is a light-medium cool brightened champagne gold in a Frost finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is more muted and less yellow than Goldmine, warmer than Retrospeck, and lighter and more yellow than Woodwinked.
Summer Sun is a medium muted warm orange-coral with a gold shimmer-sheen in a Frost finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is more orange than Expensive Pink, more orange than Paradisco, and more orange and less sparkly than Melon Pigment.
Thunderbolt is a dark cool charcoal-taupe with gold shimmer in a Lustre finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is darker and warmer than Print, warmer and more shimmery than Typographic, and cooler and more shimmery than Concrete.

I found all four shades in this palette to be incredibly finely-milled, pigmented, and easy to layer and blend out — I had no issues with fallout or powdery kickback, even in the Lustre finish shade (which is unusual, since Lustres have looser glitter particles in them which cause them to go on sheerer and dustier). The shadows go on smoothly and are beautiful as individual shades; Call of the Canyon, Fool's Gold, and Summer Sun work beautifully together to create a cohesive look and really go well with the overall colour story of this collection. However, I wish that they had included a warmer, more red-toned darker shade (something similar to Brown Script or Swiss Chocolate or even Embark) rather than a cool-toned taupe — it seems rather out of place in an otherwise very warm palette. I also wish that they had included a matte in this palette; I've found myself reaching for matte shades outside of this palette to create more dimensional looks. That having been said, the quality is there, so if you like all four shades in this palette, it's worth getting. Do note, however, that building a custom four-pan eyeshadow palette at MAC is now cheaper than buying a pre-made quad like this, so if one or two shades here don't appeal to you, you can always find dupes within MAC's permanent range of the shades you do like.

Monday, May 23, 2016

MAC Vibe Tribe: Powder Blush in Modern Mandarin, Painted Canyon, and Adobe Brick


Last Thursday, MAC launched their major summer colour collection called Vibe Tribe: "Open up to the eternal energy of the sun. Sound and self-expression converge in the vast canvas of the desert. Animated by art, music, creativity and soul, an exhilarating festival unfolds." Vibe Tribe includes a total of 32 products, of which 18 are new and limited edition, four are re-promotes, and ten are permanent. This collection sees the release of three powder blushes, of which two are new and limited edition and one is permanent. They are housed special packaging with "graphic geometric patterns woven in eye-catching hues." Each blush contains a total of 6 grams of product and retails for $27.50.

Modern Mandarin, Painted Canyon, and Adobe Brick

Modern Mandarin, Painted Canyon, and Adobe Brick

Modern Mandarin is a medium-dark warm brightened reddened orange in a Satin finish. This is a permanent shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is darker and more reddened than Peaches, darker and brighter than Style, and lighter and more muted than Devil.
Painted Canyon is a medium-dark warm brightened reddened coral in a Satin finish. This is new and limited edition, and is an online exclusive shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is brighter than Pinch Me, darker and more reddened than Fleur Power, and brighter than Fleeting Romance. 
Adobe Canyon is a medium-deep warm muted brick red in a Satin finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. It is darker and more muted than Frankly Scarlet, brighter than Burnt Pepper, and warmer and more muted than Apple Red.

These blushes are definitely bold, but surprisingly wearable. They're designed to be worn with bronzers or with a tan (it is a summer collection, after all) to evoke images of sun-flushed skin, but all three shades are incredibly silky and finely-milled so they are easy to execute and to blend out. That having been said, they're also really pigmented, so a light hand is in order if you want a softer look (and yes, it is achievable, despite how bright they are in the pan); buffing them out with a highlighter, like the new Gleamtones Powder from this collection, make these easier to wear as well, especially for lighter skintones. But there's just something irresistible and so quintessentially summer about a flush of colour against bronzed, glowy skin, no?

MAC Vibe Tribe: Dunes at Dusk Gleamtones Powder


Last Thursday, MAC launched their major summer colour collection called Vibe Tribe: "Open up to the eternal energy of the sun. Sound and self-expression converge in the vast canvas of the desert. Animated by art, music, creativity and soul, an exhilarating festival unfolds." Vibe Tribe sees the release of one new and limited edition product called Gleamtones Powder, which MAC describes as "a unique colour block of four shades in one pan, from coral through champagne and bronze to tangerine. The final look is well-polished with a sheer veil of bronzer, blush or highlighter that blends effortlessly into the skin." The powder itself features an "embossed graphic design" and it comes in special packaging with "graphic geometric patterns woven in eye-catching hues." Each Gleamtones Powder contains a total of 7 grams of product and retails for $38.50.

Dunes at Dusk

Dunes at Dusk (four shades swatched separately)

Dunes at Dusk (four different pairings mixed together: beige and orange, orange and lilac, lilac and mauve, mauve and beige; and all four shades swirled together)

Dunes at Dusk features four shades in a geometric pattern: a light warm ivory beige, a light-medium tangerine peach, a light cool pink-lilac, and a medium cool mauve. There are several combinations in which you could use these shades; when swirled all together, they create a light-medium muted peach-to-lilac duochrome pearl in a frosted finish. This is a new and limited edition product. It has a soft, finely-milled texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. All four shades have high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It can be layered and blended out easily. There is nothing similar to this in MAC's permanent range.

I was honestly surprised by how much I liked this. Upon looking at it, I didn't think it was going to be very wearable. As eyeshadow shades, maybe (and I don't recommend it, since it's listed as "not safe for eye area"), but not as a face product, necessarily. I mean, peach with mauve? Really? But seriously, you blend them together, and the shades create the most gorgeous iridescent duochrome effect. It's not one particular shade, so it's kind of hard to describe in words; it will look cooler, more lilac in a certain angle and warmer and more peach in another angle. Under the right lighting, it's absolutely stunning. Under sunlight? It's magical. The greatest part about it is that it will suit everyone because there are equal amounts of cool tones and warm tones. And because it mixes two medium shades with two lighter shades, it always looks soft on the skin; not muted, per se, but it's never too bright. The majority of skintones (like, from light to deep dark) will use this as a highlighter or skin finisher (it looks phenomenal buffed on top of a bold blush). Those who are extremely fair can wear this as a soft gleaming blush. However you want to use it, it will make your skin look flawlessly iridescent; basically, as close as you can get to being an actual pearl.

Makeup and Beauty Blog: Monday Poll, Vol. 424

This week's Monday Poll:
  1. What's the newest article of clothing you're currently wearing? Boy briefs from Aerie (they're doing their 7 for $27.50 sale and I couldn't resist picking up some of the new fun summer prints) and a new pair of Drape Pants that I picked up at Uniqlo in NYC a couple weeks ago. Suffice it to say, I am very comfortable right now.

  2. What's the newest piece of makeup you're wearing today? I'm actually not wearing any makeup today since it's my day off and I have dedicated it to being lazy at home, but if you asked me this question yesterday, my answer would've been MAC's Vibe Tribe Lipstick in Hot Chocolate, and Gleamtones Powder in Dunes at Dusk.

  3. What do you find irresistible? Makeup. It's actually getting to be quite a serious problem. I am trying hard to reign in my spending on cosmetics because I have no more space to store anything. And it's also making me broke.

  4. Is life fair? No. There's apart of me that believes in karma and the balance of good and evil, you know, of "what goes around, comes around," but then I see horrible, terrifying things happening to good, innocent people, and I know life isn't fair.

  5. Teacher or student? I'm a good student and a fast learner, but I'm discovering that I'm a better teacher. I just facilitated my first technique class at work, which is a two-hour group lesson during which I teach a group of people how to do a specific look (in this instance, it was a Middle Eastern-inspired cut crease eye), and the feedback was so positive that I was asked to do a second technique class in June (for summer bronzed skin). Pretty exciting!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Video Love: Boyfriend


God, I cannot wait for the new Tegan and Sara album to drop.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Aburiya Kinnosuke

While I was technically on vacation, the main purpose of our NYC trip this time around was to finally meet my brother's fiancée's parents. They got engaged last fall and our families had yet to meet, and they decided that it was important for all of us to meet in person before their wedding next year. To commemorate this, my brother decided to have our official meet-up at Aburiya Kinnosuke, an upscale Japanese izakaya that specializes in robata grilling.

Housemade cold tofu

Grilled duck breast with ponzu

Fresh sashimi: Salmon, tuna, sea bass, amberjack, and bluefin tuna

Grilled fresh bamboo shoots with tobiko

Steamed fresh sea bream with tofu and snow peas in soy sauce

Sweet corn tempura

Japanese omelette rolls with sweet soy sauce

Chicken meatballs stuffed with asparagus

Wagyu beef with shiitake mushrooms

Steamed Japanese rice with red snapper and roasted seaweed

Black sesame custard, crème brûlée with vanilla ice cream, and matcha tiramisu with vanilla ice cream

We decided to indulge in a full tasting menu, which changes day-to-day so there are no set courses, nor are the dishes written anywhere. The server shows you the prepared dish, explains what it is and how it is cooked, and then brings it back to the kitchen where it is then served into individual portions. Highlights for me were the bluefin tuna sashimi (the softest, plushest, most flavourful sashimi I have ever had the pleasure of eating), the corn tempura (imagine strips of fresh sweet corn, lightly battered and deep-fried to golden perfection — I've never seen corn prepared this way, and it is delightful), the Wagyu beef (cooked on little hot plates in front of you, it's the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat I have ever eaten), and the black sesame custard (soft, dense, creamy, intensely flavoured, and positively dreamy). It was truly one of the most unique meals I've ever eaten; there aren't a lot of Japanese izakayas that serve full, super high-quality tasting menus, especially ones that truly understand the art of marrying flavours and textures. I cannot recommend this place enough. If you love authentic Japanese food but want something more interesting than the typical sushi offerings, this place is a must-visit. I only wish Toronto had something like this.


Aburiya Kinnosuke
213 E 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 867-5454

Monday, May 16, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Fraunces Tavern

Looking for a nice place to eat that also happens to be a historical landmark and museum? Look no further than Fraunces Tavern.

Gotham's Palate

Fraunces Tavern is New York City's oldest building that served as a headquarters for George Washington. So, naturally, they've turned it into a museum (with nine galleries) that also houses a restaurant and a bar that is known for its whiskeys (it is apart of the American Whiskey Trail). I'm sure it operates as a popular watering hole for Wall Streeters after work Monday through Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday, you'll find that it's actually a very tranquil place to eat. When we got there late Sunday morning, the restaurant was surprisingly quiet, most likely due to its location (not many people go to the Financial District for brunch, choosing to go to trendier, more modern places further uptown). After the crazy busy restaurants we had frequented during this trip (with upwards of one-hour wait times!), the quietness was more than welcome. I ordered the Gotham's Palate, a variation of the classic cream cheese and lox combination, with pickled onions, horseradish cream, and seaweed salad on top of pumpernickel toast. Despite it being listed under "Main Courses," I recommend this more as an appetizer to share, because despite it being fresh and tasty, it's not exactly filling. My dad and my brother ordered the fish and chips, which were perfect — the fish was super-tender and flaky, and the beer batter was light and crispy — and leads me to believe that they specialize more in classic pub fare (reviews also rave about the pot pie and burgers). Either way, it's the perfect place to relax and unwind — a time-out from the New York City hustle and bustle — and maybe take in some history, too.


Fraunces Tavern
54 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10004
(212) 968-1776

Sunday, May 15, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Wolfgang's Steakhouse

For anyone who's been following my NYC adventures for the past few years, you'll know all about my love for Wolfgang's Steakhouse. It's one of the few restaurants that I will go to again and again and again for the perfect, quintessential New York steak. My brother had originally made reservations at a Brazilian steakhouse (a.k.a. all you can eat meat) for our Friday night dinner, but we decided that it wouldn't be worth it for us since my parents can't eat that much, and we can get it any time here in Toronto. Plus, we all agreed that we can't come to New York and not get a classic New York steak. So he managed to get us a last-minute reservation at the Tribeca location of his favourite steakhouse, Wolfgang's.

Wolfgang's Salad and Mixed Green Salad

Porterhouse for Three

Porterhouse steak with sides of creamed spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms

Instead of our usual mozzarella and beefsteak tomato salad (which is excellent and I definitely recommend), we decided to mix it up and get the Wolfgang's Salad, which includes chopped Canadian bacon (to die for), chunks of plump jumbo shrimp, diced tomatoes, red peppers, and green onions in a lettuce bowl — the perfect salad for those who don't like frou-frou salads (a.k.a. me), and the only salad I've ever eaten that was well worth the price ($13.95). We also ordered two slices of their extra thick sizzling Canadian bacon; it's not pictured here because they had already cut it into four portions for us and it wasn't that photogenic, but you gotta believe me when I say it's a must-order, even when you have a massive slab of steak coming. You can read my past posts of my visits to Wolfgang's to read more in-depth reviews and see more photos of their food, but all you gotta know is that Wolfgang's makes the most perfect steak I have ever had. Truly, I haven't had a steak so far that can compare to the porterhouse at Wolfgang's.

Oh, and I gotta mention that the Tribeca location is far, far friendlier than their Park Avenue one, whose servers I can only describe as gruff at best and pretentious douche bags at worst. Our server at the Tribeca location was so sweet, so informative, and had great humour, and made sure we had everything we needed to have the perfect meal, and I honestly cannot recommend this location enough.


Wolfgang's Steakhouse
409 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-0350

Saturday, May 14, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Minetta Tavern

I had wanted to try Minetta Tavern for some time and I had actually made reservations there twice last year, once in February when I went to NYC with Austin and once in September with my mom, and we ended up cancelling them both times to go to restaurants that were closer to our hotels because we were too lazy. But it constantly shows up in all of my NYC restaurant searches and tops "Best of NYC restaurants" lists, so I was determined to go this time around, laziness be damned. And I am so, so glad I did.

Moules Frites

Minetta French Dip

Minetta Burger

Minetta Tavern is apart of the Keith McNally empire (which includes powerhouses Balthazar and Pastis), and specializes in French and New American cuisine. Since my dad was with us as well (he arrived in NYC on Thursday night), we decided to order three dishes to share. The Moules Frites, a big bowl of fat Maine bouchot mussels in a flavourful, almost milky white wine broth with shallots and parsley; the Minetta French Dip, featuring some of the most plush roast beef I've ever had on a warm baguette that has the most satisfying crunch; and the famous Minetta Burger, which doesn't look like much but is so perfect in its simplicity: the most flavourful, juicy, perfectly medium cooked beef patty with real cheddar and caramelized onions on a soft sesame bun — honestly one of the best burgers I've ever had the pleasure of eating. All three are served with massive cones of the most perfectly salted, crispy, golden fries.

The space is cramped as hell, but it's also classic New York: black and white checked floors, plush red leather booths, dim lighting, and old photos and caricatures on the walls. It reminds me of a 1920s speakeasy; unassuming but effortlessly classy. Service is warm, inviting, and attentive — our water glasses were constantly filled, and empty plates were promptly removed — but never suffocating. Overall, I had an incredible experience there, and it's easy to see how they can be consistently packed, even at 3:00 in the afternoon. Minetta Tavern focuses on perfecting classic dishes rather than reinventing them, and there's nothing wrong with that; they're proof that simplicity is key. It's a New York staple for a reason. 


Minetta Tavern
113 Macdougal Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 475-3850

Friday, May 13, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Parm

One food that I haven't given that much thought to is parmigiana. Don't get me wrong, I eat a lot of Italian food, but I always opt for pastas and pizzas and seafood, and even though I have had parmigiana before, I don't think I've eaten it in, like, the last decade. It's not that I don't like it, either; I just don't think it occurs to me to ever order it. Enter Parm, a restaurant whose specialty is parmigiana.

Artichoke Casino, Greek Farro, and Arugula Salad

Eggplant Parm

Chicken Parm Dinner

My brother decided on Parm because we wanted to have Italian food, but also wanted to keep it really casual. Plus, he had heard good things about it, and it was near our hotel and his apartment. So he and his fiancée met us there for dinner. We started with a couple of salads (apparently farro is the new quinoa) and the Artichoke Casino, which are stuffed hearts (I actually have no idea what they're stuffed with, but they are delightful), and then ordered two each of the eggplant parm and the chicken parm dinner. Guys, where has this been all my life? The eggplant parm — the original parmigiana, the way the Italians intended — is ten layers of pure eggplant, cheese, and tomato sauce bliss. I don't think I've actually ever had this parm before, but it's like lasagna made with eggplant instead of pasta and it's freaking wonderful. But I gotta say, the chicken parm is the real star here. The chicken is super-tender — not a hint of dryness in sight — with a thin, perfectly crispy breaded exterior that doesn't take away from the meat, and a nice generous coating of melted mozzarella that is baked to perfection. It's served with spicy pasta that compliments the flavours of the parm and keeps the overall dish interesting while also serving its purpose as a filler in case the parm isn't enough (but trust me, the parm is more than enough food on its own). My only question is, how have I gone so many years without eating parm? 


Parm
250 Vesey Street
Brookfield Place
New York, NY 10080
(212) 776-4927

Thursday, May 12, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Ladurée Soho

After a long afternoon of walking and shopping, my mom and I wanted a place to sit down and relax and maybe have a treat or two. We found ourselves in Soho, so I took us to Ladurée for afternoon tea.

Desserts at Ladurée Soho

Macarons in Pistachio, Coffee, Salted Caramel, and Praline Vanilla

Millefeuille Praliné

I came here for lunch last year and while the food was decent, it wasn't spectacular and certainly wasn't worth the incredibly inflated prices. But their sweets are incredible and it is well worth coming here for afternoon tea. We didn't indulge in the actual tea service, but I did get a pot of Earl Grey, four macarons — three signature flavours (pistachio, salted caramel, and coffee) and one seasonal flavour (praline vanilla) — and their millefeuille praliné, a beautiful marriage of crisp caramelized puff pastry, smooth praline cream, and crunchy almond pralines, with a flurry of crispy hazelnuts in between. I still maintain that they make some of the best macarons in the world and if you like macarons, Ladurée is a must-visit (they are the originators of the macaron, after all), but if you have a little more time to indulge, their other treats are really worth checking out. Ultimately, Ladurée is a pastry house, and that is what they do best. 


Ladurée Soho
398 W Broadway
New York, NY 10012
(646) 392-7868

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Clinton Street Baking Company

On Thursday, I finally got around to trying Clinton Street Baking Company. I'd wanted to go there for years because it's consistently on "Best of" lists for breakfast/brunch in NYC, but for whatever reason (e.g. staying too far from East Village, being too lazy, not wanting to subway, etc.), I never got to. So on Thursday morning, I told my mom we were going and she had no say in it. Luckily, she's easygoing when it comes to eating, so she just went along with it. Of course, once we got there, it was packed. As in, we had to wait an hour for a table for two. I didn't think there would be so many people on a random Thursday morning, but it seems all relatively known restaurants in NYC are always busy and CSBC is one of the most hyped up brunch spots in Manhattan. My mom and I decided to just wait because we didn't travel so deep into East Village for nothing. Fortunately, CSBC has a little cafe next door where you can get coffee and baked goods (usually to go, but they have a little seating area in there as well) that is perfect for waiting. So we got some lattes and a goat cheese and herb scone (which was delightful) and sat in the cafe until we got a text saying our table was ready.

Wild Maine blueberry pancakes

Clinton Street Baking Company is known for their pancakes (New York Times has said they have the "best pancakes" in NYC), so we got the blueberry ones (they also offer banana walnut and chocolate chunk), which are served with warm maple butter. And guys, the hype is real. I don't know what they add to their pancakes, but indeed, they were some of the best pancakes I've ever had. Like, not too thin, not too thick, fluffy and moist, cooked to the perfect browned exterior, with just enough sweetness. The blueberries were flavourful but not artificial, and had just the right consistency so that it was spreadable but the actual fruit still maintained its integrity. And warm maple butter! Sweet and salty and not as sticky as syrup or caramel, but not as runny as melted butter so that your pancakes just absorb it all. It's genius! 

Brioche French toast

The second dish we shared was the brioche French toast, which is served with caramelized bananas, roasted pecans, and the aforementioned warm maple butter. If you're not in the mood for pancakes, this would be the next best thing. I've never had French toast like this; maybe it's in the bread or their egg wash or some secret ingredient that they sneak in there, but it's perfection. The toast is thick but still absorbs all the flavour, the inside is soft and moist, and the exterior is perfectly crisp. The caramelized bananas and roasted pecans work in perfect harmony together in both flavours and textures, and you already know how much I love that maple butter. It is decidedly more filling and more substantial than the pancakes, though, so I do recommend sharing. 

As someone who is not a sweet breakfast person, I really, thoroughly enjoyed these and can't recommend them enough. Our server was nice and efficient and our food arrived in a timely manner, and the space is clean with lots of sunlight and feels very homey. Fair warning, though: the place is packed and there isn't a lot of space between tables so you will be sitting very close to your neighbours. (Seriously, our neighbours started chatting with us. They had just gone to a taping for The Wendy Williams Show and even showed us the photos.) Still, if you like breakfast foods, Clinton Street Baking Company is phenomenal and well worth the hype. Just don't go starving 'cause you might die before getting a table.


Clinton Street Baking Company
4 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
(646) 602-6263

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

NYC — Spring 2016: Nirvana

So, I'm back from New York, and as per tradition, I will be posting about all the food adventures I had. I did not bring my camera with me on this trip because I felt like it would be too much to carry around with me and also an inconvenience to have to take photos with both my phone and my camera, so all the photos in these upcoming food posts were taken with my iPhone 6.

Lamb korma, saag paneer, and chicken xacuti

A little bit of everything with basmati rice and garlic naan

We arrived in NYC late Wednesday afternoon, so by the time we took a cab from JFK in the middle of rush hour, checked into our hotel in the Financial District, and settled into our room, we already had to meet my brother for dinner. My brother wanted to take us somewhere we hadn't been before, so he took us to his favourite Indian restaurant, Nirvana. It's considered to be a more upscale Indian restaurant, which means they serve authentic Indian food in a nicely decorated modern space with dimmed lighting (some might say too dim), and proper tablecloths and glassware on the tables. We decided on three dishes to share: lamb korma (creamy cashew and almond curry with aromatic spices — my personal favourite and go-to at Indian restaurants), chicken xacuti (Goan curry made with coconut and roasted aromatic spices), and saag paneer (Indian cheese cubes simmered in a purée of fresh spinach), plus regular naan, garlic naan, and basmati rice to accompany them. The food was fantastic — creamy, rich, flavourful — with generous portions of tender meat in the curries, and the naan was fresh and fluffy (the garlic naan was aromatic and especially delicious).

It's an Indian restaurant that is meant to impress, whether it's for a group outing or a romantic date. At an average of $20 per dish, it's pretty reasonably priced, especially for a midtown Manhattan restaurant. The only annoying thing was our server continually tried to up-sell everything. Like, even after saying that we wanted regular tap water, he still tried to push the bottle of sparkling water that sits at every table (they want you to open it so they can charge you the $8 without realizing that it's not free). Even after ordering two types of naan, he still tried to push for us to order the other ones as well (they have six types of naan). Even after my brother ordered his second glass of wine and knowing that my mom and I weren't drinking, he still tried to push a bottle. Like, chill the fuck out. Either than that, the service was pleasant enough, though a tad slow (to be fair, it was pretty busy for a Wednesday evening). But if you're looking for delicious, authentic Indian food in a modern, spacious atmosphere (or in Midtown), it's worth a visit.


Nirvana
346 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 983-0000