5 Food Discoveries in New York City

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Looking for new spots to check out next time you travel to New York City? I’ve got you covered! In such a big food city like NYC it’s hard to only pick five, but here are some of my latest favorites!

1) Chalk Point Kitchen. One of the newest restaurants that I discovered upon my last trip to NYC. I was immediately attracted to this place for two main reasons a) they’re all about supporting the local farming and food community and b) they’re very social media savvy! I was welcomed with a super cute personalized card on the table. I loved their farm and barn-inspired interior. Everything that we ordered tasted incredibly yummy and FRESH! They also have lot’s of amazing vegetarian options. You can pay them a visit for brunch and dinner, they’re located in Lower Manhattan. Make sure you also check out their ultra cool bar just underneath them called The Handy Liquor Bar, love the old library and speakeasy vibe they’ve got going on.

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2) Doughnut Plant. If you’re a doughnut fanatic like I am, you have to stop by the Doughnut Plant in NYC. There are two main locations on the island: one close to the Williamsburg bridge entrance and another in Chelsea. Whatever area you’re staying in, it’s definitely worth the trek to get these handcrafted gourmet doughnuts. They make their doughnuts every day from fresh seasonal fruits and ingredients (organic if possible), they’re all natural, all of their jams are made in-house plus they don’t contain any eggs, trans fats, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. You’ll want to try their signature Jelly-Filled Square Doughnut, I had their peanut butter and jelly doughnut and it was hands down the best doughnut I’ve ever tasted (and I’m starting to be quite the doughnut pro)! If you’re on the go, you can always download their app, so that you are sure to find a doughnut near you!

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3) Le Pain Quotidien. My favorite spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch when in the city. I love their seasonal and organic menu. This place has such a European feel to it, with the big communal tables, their jams, pastries, etc. It’s really homey spot that makes your dining experience really fun and relaxed. I’m a huge fan of their avocado on toast for lunch, their quiches and fresh salads. For breakfast, I love having their organic granola (they also have a Gluten Free option for those in need) as well as their chia seed pudding! The portions are the perfect size so you’re never left feeling too stuffed!

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4) Baked by Melissa. By far the cutest cupcake place in NYC. Melissa’s little cupcake shops are located all around Manhattan. I stopped by the one right by Central Park and Columbus Circle. She opened up her first shop in Soho in 2009. In her store you’ll find more than a dozen different kinds of bite-size cupcakes. I decided to try a box of three, my favorite being the peanut butter & jelly (are you noticing a theme yet on this blog? I have a thing for pb&j!).

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5) The Grill at La Piscine / SNOB. Located in the heart of Chelsea, this summer rooftop pool and restaurant or winter lounge will give you one of the best views of Manhattan. In the summer, they have an amazing outdoor grill where they serve Mediterranean specialties and in the winter, you can relax in their comfy sofas and dreamy lit lounge. Located in the Hotel Americano, this is one of my new favorite hotspots to hang out in. A perfect place for drinks after work or weekend outing!

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Welcome to Miami!

Two weekends ago I was able to spend a few days in Miami. My last visit to Miami dates back to last November but I had only spent 48hrs in this tropical wonderland. Growing up in Quebec, Florida was always a very popular destination for my family in the winter. I think my first ever trip as a baby was to Orlando when I was just a few months old. I’ve done the Orlando/Disney trip a handful of times, stayed in West Palm Beach with my grand-ma, went to Fort Lauderdale a few times but hadn’t spent too much time in Miami before.

So I was really happy to have more quality time there to discover some of the city’s hotspots.

Summer isn’t necessarily the best time of year to head to Miami, that’s when it tends to rain a lot just because it gets so humid and hot. We got lucky with the weather, it only rained one morning out of four and a half days. It was 42+ celsius and sunny the whole time.

We spent most of our time at the beach, the water was SO warm! It is also really clear and the ocean floor is soft and sandy, so you can see all sorts of tropical fish swimming around you. It’s beautiful! Though a little pricey – $50 a day for two chairs and a parasol but you can come and go as you please the entire day, we made sure to protect ourselves from the hot sand and intense sun. There’s really nothing quite like swimming in the ocean. It’s oh so relaxing!!

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I was able to do a little bit of shopping while I was there. My two favorite spots are: Collins Ave. (where you’ll find everything from Zara to LF, to Armani, etc.) and also the pedestrian outdoor shopping area on Lincoln Road.

I’m a huge fan of Art Deco so seeing all the different art deco hotels, buildings, clubs, museums, etc. are so amusing to me. We took the time to visit one of their Art Deco themed museum – the Wolfsonian FIU, located on Washington Ave. They had interesting collections on women and sports, Zeppelins, Art Deco, Architecture, etc. It’s only $7 per person and will take 1-2 hours of your time.

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3 favorite places to eat:

The Dutch – is located in the W Hotel in South Beach. They offered a brilliant fall fixed price menu with one appetizer, one main and a dessert. Everything everyone had there was absolutely to die for! The wine selection was also top notch! The vibe of the place was cozy yet stylish, the staff was knowledgeable and super helpful. I loved my dinner there and can’t wait to go back!

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Otentic – I officially found the best cheese platter in Miami. This small restaurant located on Washington Ave. makes typical French dishes. I loved drinking a Monaco (beer & grenadine drink), their charcuterie boards and salads are also killer. They make a mean chocolate mousse! I love their attention to detail, offering customers a free glass of white wine and tapenade as soon as you walk in. The owner Aurélien (yup, same name as Offner!) is super young and friendly. A must!

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The Forge – Loved eating at this over the top Art Deco inspired restaurant. The atmosphere was young, hip and fun! The styling of the place was unreal. They had a special on Veuve Clicquot champagne the night we went so if you ordered a glass of champagne at the bar, they would serve you unlimited appetizers. Unreal! The food was also heavenly. They had very tasty bread baskets and a fabulous selection of wine. I had the soup and grilled cheese, Offner had the burger and his parents, the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! Their little dessert tray was also yummy. It’s a festive place with loud music so if you’re looking for a quieter spot, this may not be the place for you!

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Now for something completely different, the 11th Street Diner located on Washington and 11th Street is also a superb place to grab some quick breakfast or lunch. It’s the original building that was constructed in 1948 in New Jersey that they moved to Miami in the 1990s.

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A bar to check out:

The Broken Shaker – is located in the hip Freehand Miami hostel. Offner always loves checking out up and coming bars in every city we visit. He had heard of this place because of their original handcrafted drinks made from ingredients, herbs & spices directly taken from the place’s garden. We tasted their savory sweet and spicy homemade punch. They also had a tremendous outdoor garden/patio with a pool, lot’s of fun seating areas, little lights, trees, ping pong tables, etc.

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(photo credit: The LA Times)

Finally, if you’re looking for a cool morning or afternoon excursion, I highly recommend taking a trip to the everglades at the Everglades Safari Park. I’m not one to do too many touristy things on vacation but this was really well organized, informative and fun. For $40, they take you from South Beach (the location of your choice) on a 40min bus ride to the everglade national park. You then go on a 45min airboat tour where they teach you about the different species of snakes, alligators, wildlife, etc. in the national park. That is followed by an informative alligator demonstration (no one wrestles with alligators!) and time to walk around their sanctuary where you can see all sorts of alligators, crocodiles, lizards, etc. They then take you back to your hotel in South Beach. Honestly, well worth the money and super amusing!

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Our time in Miami went by SO fast! With it only being a 3hr flight from Toronto, it’s the perfect long weekend destination! Can’t wait to go back soon!

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Go Lounge

Last weekend I discovered a great new bar/coffee shop and board game lounge  in Parkdale called Go Lounge.  It’s a quaint little cosy space located on Queen Street West, just steps from Roncesvalles that opened at the end of November.  For those of you who are fans of Snakes & Lattes, just think of it as being a modest and much more laid-back version of it.  I was a huge fan of Snakes & Lattes when it originally opened up a few years ago.  I lived in the area, so would spend a lot of my nights playing board games with friends and loved ones there.  I loved the fact that it belonged to a Parisian couple who baked fresh desserts and served baguette sandwiches just like in France. However, as the place’s popularity grew, it became less and less acessible and the once friendly staff, changed and wasn’t so nice anymore.

I was therefore thrilled to find out that a second board game lounge had opened up in the city.  Basically, you can go play board games, have a pint or glass of wine as well as a tasty panini or yummy dessert in a super chill environment with great tunes playing in the background.  Plus, you don’t have to pay to play their board games.

So if you’re looking for a fun new place to hang this week or weekend, try the Go Lounge.  My favorite game: Cards Against Humanity. Hilarious!

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