Baby Photo Session at Coney Island

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A Taste of France in Brooklyn: Honeybee Pâtisserie

About 2 weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article about a new Parisian bakery in Bensonhurst. It was quite an inspiring story and piqued my interest. The owner, Anna Ng, is only 29 years old — she quit her boring job, flew to France to study the culinary arts, became a chef and opened up her own pastry shop. How awesome is that? (Read her blog here)

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It’s quality over quantity, so you won’t find any imperfection in the beautiful display case of intricately designed desserts. I loved everything I had. All the desserts have different layers of ingredients, different textures that all come together.

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1) Passion: caramélia milk chocolate mousse, genoise sponge cubes, passion fruit mango gelée, dulcey almond croustillant, mango sauce ($5.49) – The presentation was playful and it was so refreshing.

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2) Banana chocolate crunch: chocolate syrup soaked chocolate biscuit, chocolate almond feuilletine, banana mousse, chocolate mousse ($5.49) – loved the crunch and the combination of banana and chocolate – perfection.

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3) Matcha mint chocolate cream macaron ($2.50) — WOW! Loved this. It’s definitely on par with the big name macaron places in the city, and I even dare say it was better than any I’ve had in NYC. I love the matcha and mint flavors!

I also had their drip coffee, which was on point.

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I love the decor — the white exposed brick walls, the cupcake holders on one side of the wall, the communal bench, music playing in the background, and great lighting. I would love to sit here all day.

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Yes, they take credit cards.

Honeybee Pâtisserie
6514 Bay Pkwy
Bensonhurst, NY 11204
(b/t 7th St & 66th St)

Bohemian Restaurant (NYC)

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A long hallway next to a Japanese butcher shop begins our adventure tonight.

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The restaurant’s allure draws upon having to find out the phone number to call (only by word of mouth), making the reservations (you have to know a previous diner’s full name), and making your way to this — with no sign except the number “57”.

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Ringing the doorbell, it feels like you are entering someone’s residential apartment. And that’s how they want you to feel: like going to a friend’s house for dinner.

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There are only 6 tables and a few bar seats. No wonder seating is so exclusive and limited.

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The three of us went with the $58 tasting menu.

Farmer’s Fresh Vegetables Fondue: the cheese stole the show. The vegetables were just vehicles for the fondue.
Uni Croquette: I’m a big uni fan, so this was exciting to me. Uni on top of a warm, crispy croquette with some creamy mushroom filling. I devoured this in about 3 seconds.
Washu-Beef Short Rib Sashimi: This was one of my favorites of the night. With just a flake of garlic, a dab of wasabi, a drop of the sauce they provided, this dish becomes something that you dream about for days after consuming it.
Pan Roasted Branzino: I loved the roasted vegetables! Brussel sprouts, potatoes, mushrooms, rosemary stalks, and a whole fish.
Washu-Beef Mixed Burger
Assorted Sashimi

 

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My favorite of the night: yuzu panna cotta. I’m also a big time yuzu fan, and I loved the little pieces of yuzu zest throughout this dessert.
Check for three.

Bohemian Restaurant 
57 Great Jones St, New York 10012
Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
ny-info@playearth.jp

 

 

Mu Ramen (Long Island City, NY)

Mu Ramen just opened up their brick-and-mortar restaurant in LIC last week, and I’ve been waiting for it since I missed out on its pop-up days last year. Long wait time, cramped space, but was it worth it? YES.

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Look at the noodle-y ceiling.

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They recommend no more than 4 people per seating. I would recommend going solo or with just one other person to really experience this place to the fullest. We sat at the bar, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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If you aren’t one of the 6 lucky ones who get seated at the bar, there is a huge communal seating arrangement in the middle of the restaurant with a view of some succulents growing at the center of the table.

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My view: what seemed like unlimited uni and ikura going into our first appetizer, the famed U&I.

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Uni, spicy maguro, ikura, sesame roasted nori on top of rice. Perfect combination to me. This is the type of dishes I dream about.

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Next, Tonkotsu 2.0: pork based soup topped with chashu pork jowl, kikurage, menma, sesame, and scallions. Also added (at extra charge): roasted corn — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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But wait! We also requested a sous vide egg (additional charge as well), which came after. The dude cracked the egg with one hand and it came out perfectly poached…

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The Mu Ramen. The pricier option at $18 (plus $2 for my nitamago, a seasoned soft boiled egg which I NEED in all of my ramen): oxtail and bone marrow based soup, brisket, half sour pickle, menma, cabbage and scallions. I LOVE this broth; so rich and so satisfying. Both of these ramen come with thin noodles, and I really wish there was an option to switch to the thicker kind.

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Our other appetizer was my least favorite: Tebasaki Gyoza. “Deep fried chicken wings stuffed with foie and brioche” sounds like a dream come true for me, but it tasted a little too bread-y for me.

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Inside of the foie wing.

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We watched them work their magic at the counter and secretly wished for more U&I.

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A bite of the pork — I also wish there was a bigger serving of this. I’d be happy with more meat and less noodles.

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I’m already making plans to come back. Cash only. No reservations. (UPDATE 12/11/14: they take reservations by phone now! Same day only, phone lines start at 3pm)

Mu Ramen
1209 Jackson Avenue,
LIC, NY 11101
info@muramennyc.com
Tel: 917.868.8903
Monday-Saturday 5:30pm-10:00pm

Hiking: Breakneck Ridge, Hudson Valley New York (Phone pics)

I’ve been meaning to hike up to the Breakneck Ridge for a while, since a bunch of my friends have done it and recommended it. According to this helpful website, its difficulty is rated as 10/10 due to the steepness and rock scrambling (which I love).

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We started off with breakfast at 168 Tea Shop. Then we drove for about an hour and a half (from Queens) and took the wrong turn — the sign for “Cold Spring” seemed to have come out of nowhere and we couldn’t make the turn in time. But after the detour, here we were! We parked right next to the tunnel:

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There were a few parking spots here, and to the right began our trail (follow the white markers).

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Take a map here or print it beforehand.

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Now, I usually LOVE rock scrambling and climbing up big rocks. I love the challenge of using my arms to hoist myself up and looking for places to put my feet on. But because of the snow and ice (it was 30 degrees F), I had to be more careful in looking for rocks to step on, especially since they were covered. I would like to come back in the spring/summer/fall.

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There were some parts of just straight climbing.

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This was a beautiful lookout point. The snow covered some trees… but this was only the beginning.

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At some parts we had to figure out alternative routes to go around the thick snow.

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A sign! Telling us there is a less steep way.

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After lots of scrambling over snow covered rocks, we finally got the the turning point: the red trail aka “Breakneck Bypass”! This was the descent part of the route, which was actually more tough for me to go through because the snow was up to my calves at some parts. Going downhill in snow and ice was frustrating because it was VERY easy to slip and slide; for half the trek I just sat and slid down, which resulted in bruises on my behind.

Note: before we got to this red marker, there was a sign pointing to the right for the yellow trail — that’s not the way to go if you want to make a loop to go back to your car…

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And here ends the red trail, back to the “Route 9D” trail aka back to the starting point! This was another descent that was a little bit less annoying (less slippery I suppose) with the hope that we were almost back to civilization.

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Here we are! I hiked this with new hiking boots that I just purchased the day before, the Salomon Quest 4D GTX. The high tops definitely helped prevent the snow from invading my socks and feet. The reviews were mixed on the waterproofness of it but I can say thank God I wore these! I could NOT have done this with sneakers (which we saw a few hikers wore).

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We walked a small section of this road back to the car. Overall, it was an exhausting hike and not that many great lookout points; only one beautiful view which was seen in the beginning. Probably would not make it to my list of top hikes, but it IS a short drive from NYC — I will make another assessment when I come back under better weather conditions.

After a long hike (4-5 hours?), we went to the nearby Hudson House in Cold Spring for steak as per recommendation from my friend. Great complimentary popovers with strawberry butter to start with. I enjoyed my rib-eye more than the T-bone.

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Hiking Mohonk: Labyrinth, Lemon Squeeze, Skytop

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We went on a Friday — the entrance fee was $21 as opposed to $26 on the weekends. Our goal of the day was to find the Sky Top Tower while scrambling and squeezing through/under/over rocks. You can call Mohonk for a recorded message on hiking conditions at 845-256-2197. We called before we left in case it closed for inclement weather.

 

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There’s about a mile between the parking lot and the actual trail. The guy said that there was no shuttle that day. It’s not too bad of a walk though.  20141107_115025

 

Lots of lookouts. We wanted to see the fall foliage and there it was!

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They provided us with a map.

 

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There were a bunch of trails that led to Sky Top.

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“Dawn seat”, I read as “Damn seat”…

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There’s the Mohonk Mountain House.

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This is where it gets difficult. Especially for me, since I’m afraid of heights. Like panic-attack-hyperventilating-legs-giving-out afraid.

 

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There were lots of short and long ladders, at one point I had to crawl to get up through rocks. Lots of deep crevices.

 

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When we got close, there was a long ladder that made me hyperventilate because it went over a deep crevice. I panicked but got through it. While we were in between that ladder and the next one, it suddenly started hailing. We debated whether to continue or turn back, since everything started getting wet. I did not want to hyperventilate again, so we continued. The second ladder was not bad at all because it was a more narrow passageway, so you can lean on the rocks as you ascend up the ladder. After that, the “lemon squeeze” or “fat man’s misery” was the narrow space where we had to climb up (we had to take off our backpacks in order to fit), and also my favorite part of the hike!

 

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Victory!

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This was the crevice… I couldn’t even take a picture of it straight down without getting dizzy.

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This bridge led us to the Sky Top Tower.

 

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Go inside…

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I just love this picture, taken from inside the tower.

 

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We took in the view before heading back. The sun came out from the clouds and the air was crisp and fresh.

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And don’t worry, there are restrooms at the start and at the mountain house.

Birthday & Anniversary Dinner: Jungsik (NYC)

“We have to take the 1.”

That was the only hint I got when I was on my way to meet him for dinner on my birthday. What could it be…?

JUNGSIK. New Korean fine dining in New York City; the first Korean restaurant in America to be awarded two Michelin stars. We had a choice between a la carte and their 9-course $160 tasting menu. Of course, we went with the latter.

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We started off ordering two non-alcoholic drinks: a yuzu spritzer and an elderflower one, both refreshing and good in their own way.

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Our server presented our amuse bouche on a black slab, with 4 little bites to tease our taste buds. There was a fried chicken, eel cigar, a broth that I could not catch the name of.

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Next came one of my favorite dishes of the night, the bulgogi egg.

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The egg was perfectly poached and the crispy rice added a texture that complemented the soft, well-marinated beef. It was one of the more distinctly Korean dishes and a great start to the meal.

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Scallop: I thoroughly enjoyed the crispiness of the top, and was surprised to see that the inside was cooked to perfection, no rubbery meat here!

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Fried oyster: This was yet another amazing dish, with the oyster encrusted with black ink.

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Octopus: This was nicely charred, and was not chewy but crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

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The meal was interrupted by bread and butter (and salt!)

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Our server asked if we wanted more bread. After that, the courses continued.

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Crispy red snapper: This dish was juicy and clean. We didn’t care much for the green aioli sauce though; reminded me of salsa.

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The royal bibimbap: As soon as I heard the words “truffles” and “foie gras”, I dug in. It was a barley risotto with shaved black truffle. Definitely rich and hearty — I had a hard time finishing it.

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Jungsik steak: Wagyu. Need I say more? Juicy, melt-in-your-mouth, soft, tasty, all around delicious. This was my other favorite of the night.

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Watermelon: The series of desserts started with this refreshing sorbet as a palate cleanser; even though I’m normally not a fan of watermelon, I loved it.

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Green tea cremeux: Dollops of different flavors and milk ice cream! The green tea cremeux was like a dense mousse with a rich matcha flavor.

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Our server also brought out a chocolate dessert with “Happy Anniversary” and a candle on the plate.

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Corn creme brulee: It’s not a typical creme brulee; the deceivingly thin layer of custard was soft, which made me savor the dessert more. The top was not the hard, stuck-in-your-teeth kind of caramelized sugar, but melted instantly once it hit my tongue.

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After that, we thought it was over. But wait, not yet! Our server brought over an “anniversary bonsai”, with the top being a bonsai plant and the two trays below were filled with petit fours. There were macarons, more green tea and chocolate bites.

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Overall, JUNGSIK was a great dining experience. Service was outstanding and the atmosphere reminded me a little bit of Alinea, although not as extravagant and interactive. Their dishes were all beautifully plated and I must say, worth the trip to the West side.

Coffee & Tea Festival NYC (March 22, 2014)

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I’ve heard about this event for years but never ventured out for it. This year we got a deal through Amazon ($10!) but it was soooo crowded. The line went around the block when we got there in the morning. We had just missed the free goodie bags (awarded to the first 1000 participants)!

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There was lots of tea brewing.

 

 

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Specialty coffee.

 

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Organic ones…

 

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Now that’s legit.

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You get to see lots of different tea brewing styles.

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AND ice cream!

 

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We sampled the chocolate-chai, green tea-coconut, another had red tea.

 

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Then there are soaps that look like cupcakes.

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Pretty teacups.

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Loose leaf tea everywhere!

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Yes, even chocolate.

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Empanadas?!?

 

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Yogurt parfaits…

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This place was interesting — 2 parts tea, 1 part booze.

 

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Not pictured was the one I sampled — coco lada.

 

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Different flavors of biscotti.

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That feta cheese scallion scone was delectable.

 

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Champagne chocolate.

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More tea.

 

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Chai tea.

 

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…and back to specialty soaps!

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There were many different vendors. We walked around and around and around…

 

 

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Raw honey. I loved them. So tempted to buy…

 

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Iced tea.

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Fashionista tea.

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After all the samples, I’m definitely highly caffeinated. I didn’t buy anything except for the scone; the only things I took home were a few tea packets. I was told that the tea at the festival was cheaper than at their stores. Overall, it was a good event but I’d probably go again only if we got a discounted deal.

Governor’s Island: Fête Paradiso

“This summer, Fête Paradiso, the world’s first traveling festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels, will make its American debut on Governors Island in New York City. The rare, museum-quality collection, which includes a diverse array of attractions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as carousels, flying swings and a pipe organ, will be available for the public to ride and enjoy every weekend from July 13 – September 29.”

You can get to Governor’s Island two ways: Manhattan ferry and Brooklyn ferry. We chose Brooklyn.

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The ferry ride is only about 10 minutes, and on a sunny, breezy day, it was beautiful. It was also free.

Right this way…

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We didn’t go on any rides. Our goal was just to take lots of awesome pictures.

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Desserts and carnival eats!

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The island resembles an ice cream cone.

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Horsie wants to get on that carousel.

Other than this exhibition, there are also tons of other things to see and do on the island. We got food from the trucks before this, and took pictures of the cloud exhibit. You can also rent a bike and ride around the island, which is something I’ll most likely do next summer!

Weekend Trip: one day at North Fork

North Fork.

A 30-mile long peninsula in the northeast part of Suffolk County, NY, about 75 miles east of Manhattan. It took us about an hour and a half from Queens with no traffic.

What’s there to do, you ask? Seafood, wineries, and quaint little shoppes. It’s the part of New York that you don’t see on TV.

We were famished when we got to the area, so we refueled at Claudio’s, right by the water.

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It was pretty much a tourist trap — pricey and mediocre. However, I enjoyed the wine and sweet potato waffle fries. Too bad the wine was from Sonoma and not local…

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We walked around and went into a toy store…

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Cute handcrafted souvenirs!

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An artisan boutique that I’ve been telling everyone to go to if they ever were to visit North Fork — The White Weathered Barn.

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And then this sign caught my eye…

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It was time for coffee.

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I don’t know how I feel about this coffee being the “best” in town…

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Boats and carousels make great photo ops for newlyweds.

Finally, what we came here for. We picked a random winery that we found through Yelp called Sparkling Pointe. They only serve sparkling wines here, but there are more than 30 vineyards out here to choose from (most if not all close at 6pm).

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I love this photo of my friend and her boyfriend.

As we drove away from the vineyard, we stopped at one last spot: Harbes Family Farm. They make the best roasted sweet corn!

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I would love to come back next summer and try the other vineyards! Such a quaint little town, and it was perfect weather for a lazy Saturday stroll. There are thrift shops and antique stores, handcrafted jewelry, restaurants, coffee shops, farms and wineries. Most people stay over for a night or the weekend, which is not a bad idea.