Imagine a drive along the coast of a Hawaiian island. One minute you see sea turtles washing up on the shore of the beaches. Then you’re swerving left and right along the cliffs and passing by banana and guava trees. You decide to hop out of the car and jump into the most refreshing pond of water, swimming to the waterfall to let it crash over your head. Lastly you drive to see the sunset on top of the mountains. There seems to be nothing but beauty, nature, and relaxation. Hawaii is one of those places in the world where your breath gets taken away. It’s also one of those places where you will never forget how good their food tastes, and luckily, there are some people who have finally brought Hawaii’s exotic tastes to New York City.
Meet Mike and Sunita (Sue) Shiwdin, the couple who ownsMahalo New York Bakery. They met back in high school, when Sue was already dreaming of opening her own bakery one day. Back in Guyana where Sue grew up, there wasn’t much electricity, so you can imagine how having an oven to work with when coming over to the States meant exciting times to bake and make her own creations. After a trip to Hawaii for their honeymoon, she realized how much the food and culture there resonated with Guyana. Flavors such as guava, mango, and hibiscus, as well as friendly people saying hello were all very similar. She and Mike decided to open a bakery in New York City that spoke to this resonance. “We named it, Mahalo New York Bakery,” Mike explained, “which means thank you New York for giving us this opportunity to open this bakery.”
I came across this quote and it really got me thinking. Here’s the thing: for the past year, all I can really think about is what next? If I’m not teaching for the rest of my life, what next? I absolutely love my job and still can’t believe how far along I’ve come since the day I stepped foot into the classroom, but my curious mind gets me wondering … if this is not what I’m doing in 3 years, what will it be? For the last 2 years, I decided to explore and bring out my adventurous side that I never knew until recently. I discovered a lot of interests and only need to narrow them down to something more sustainable, tangible, and possible. Truthfully, none of them fall in any of these categories, but it has to start somewhere right? So perhaps the bottom of the rock it is. It’s time I try because as they say… If you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s probably worth going after.
Ahhh it’s that time of the year again! As you may or may not know, I LOVE featuring some incredible founders / artists every summer. If you know anyone who would love to be featured, please contact me and I’ll be glad to share their story! It’s incredibly inspiring to hear what happens behind the creation of a particular product, company or store. For the next month, you’ll learn about 3 founders that I met who are incredible human beings with such a strong passion about what they do.
First, I’m thrilled to introduce Mark Fang, the witty and humble co-founder and teacher of the Wine O Club. Co-founded with Jabin Kim, the two have created a club that customizes to people’s personal tastes and provides classes to teach the basics of identifying, tasting, and pairing wines. It’s up to you what wines you get, when you get them, and how often. What makes this company stand out for me was that the 2-hour wine tasting session was classy without being pretentious and provided a really fun and comfortable way of learning the different kinds of wines and what to look and smell for. If you think your sense of smell is strong, you may be surprised (I sure was!).
So to find out a little more about the story behind this company, I was fortunate to have a one-on-one interview with Mark at Wine O Club’s new event space in an elegant but casual atmosphere in Midtown. If only you can hear the chuckles and the sense of humor behind the scenes with him, but you’ll definitely know what I mean by that if you sign up for the class as Mark is often the teacher! When you’re done, be sure to read below for a little surprise just for YOU!
Vacation flies by fast. Four days fly by even faster, but Montreal was a nice quick getaway that wasn’t too costly and quite memorable. I did not know much about the place beforehand so it was all a pleasant surprise. They say Montreal is a foodie city as well as a bike-friendly city and the city of festivals. All of that is most definitely true. As you walk through the streets, you’ll notice bike lanes all around and bikes chained to poles made specifically for the vehicle. You’ll notice advertisements of the festivals coming up, and that week we caught the “Just for Laughs” festival, one that was perfect for us as we played games, ate, and laughed through different performances. But most of all, their food is diverse and full of flavor. Though I didn’t find anything particularly amazing, the food was pretty good overall. Here’s a peek at some of the places we tried!
Boris Bistro –
A little gem we accidentally walked into outside of Old Montreal. While the rest of the streets were quiet, you suddenly past this bustling patio filled with diners, trees, and candle-lit tables. It looks quite popular so you walk inside. Well, the food was actually fantastic though service was a little slow. This salmon tartare was quite delicious with the crisp baguette and a side salad!
Just last week, I made a last minute decision to fly to Montreal with a good high school friend and get away from the city for 4 days. I came back and got incredibly busy with some write-ups and upcoming work work this week, so I’ll be back by Wednesday with a new post (and a giveaway next week). Thanks for popping by, and check in then!
In the meantime, here’s a picture I took at the Chalet du Mont Royal. It was actually an accident finding this place … we wanted to explore the Mont Royal Park, a park designed by the same person who created Central Park – Frederick Law Olmsted. Without Internet or any specific points to hit at the park, we walked around endlessly and wound up following this path that seemed never-ending… UPHILL! Coming across tons of tourists all of a sudden, we climbed these stairs (also never ending) until we got to the top and saw this spectacular view. If I had my fitbit on, I would say I walked at least 50,000 steps, but hey, it was so worth it! Here it is .. take a breath!
Ah ha! So you know I love playing tour guide. I’ve been asked a bit lately about food and place recommendations – I love it! (and thank goodness for unlimited text messages.) : ) While I’m taking care of some things of my own, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. Last week I attended one of the park movie night showings at Brooklyn Bridge Park. We quickly grabbed something from Shake Shack and watched “Singing in the Rain,” one of my favorite classics. It was such a calm, soothing night on a blanket with my husband and co-workers. Who knew that in a bustling city, you can still have a completely quiet night at the park (you wouldn’t even notice the people around you as you’re watching the film or looking at the stars). Afterwards we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (crazy!) and discovered the obsessed phenomenon over Pokemon Go, where so many people were sitting on the bridge waiting to catch Pokemon. (Guilty: I downloaded the app…. -_- ) Then the next day I just laid in bed from exhaustion. Yup. That all sounds about right.
Point is, there’s so much to do in the city, so I thought I would share some of the sites that I use to get the latest information or fun things to do and events to go to. Even if you are busy catching Pokemon, why not do it in style and spend time with your friends and family rather than stand awkwardly in the middle of the street gleeing over the fact that you’ve finally caught Pikachu after countless hours searching!
Got any other sites you use? Please do share! Just click that email button right on top and bloop, sends a message. 🙂
Before I start my summer featured spotlight series later this month, I wanted to share with you one of the people that inspires ME in this city – Eljay Aguillo. I came across Eljay’s Instagram (@whyilovenewyorkcity) sometime last year and started following him because just like him, I’ve grown to love New York City like no other since I moved here years ago. You hear tons of amazing (and also scary) stories about living in the different boroughs from people you already know. Now imagine broadening that even more and reading about specific moments that New Yorkers have while matching a face to it. Eljay’s project is a photo documentary about love for New York City and it’s really wonderful to read. Each story is full of heart, humor, and magic. A couple of months ago, I felt humbled as he asked me to share my story. I didn’t think it was too special, but after I wrote it with him, it made me even more appreciative of the city. We walked over to the Seaport area to take a few photographs and there, a new friendship blossomed right out of NYC. Be sure to check out his website because you might just be inspired if you haven’t found your story yet, but even better, follow his Instagram. I promise you’ll love it!
I can’t say how many people I know are addicted to sites such as Groupon. I try not to go on it because it is so easy to be tempted to buy good deals that you probably don’t even need (Ahem, a “Swarovski” crystal bracelet for $18, a two for one pizza deal, mosquito bands… ::whistles::). But sometimes there really are good things to get, especially if it’s something fun you can do with good friends!
A couple of months ago, my friend Irene and I found a Groupon for The Paint Place, a place where you can learn how to paint a specific painting taught by an instructor. It can be hard to schedule because the “great” pictures are usually booked very quickly, but we made it just in the last few spots for a Central Park painting. I was quite excited because well, for one thing, I always have an awesome time with Irene, and second, my living room has been plain for many months now so one of my summer projects is to fill my walls with art work or photography. Here was my first project about to be completed!
The school year is almost over! That means more blogging, socializing, crafting, and cooking time (I hope!!) – I’m thrilled to finally get some down time as the school year felt a little longer than usual. Got some interviews & giveaways coming up in the next 2 months, so stay connected especially on my Instagram! 🙂
Recently, I became a part of Urban Buddy, a really awesome and useful app where “buddies” or locals such as myself connect with hotel guests to give advice and recommendations in and around the city. I’ve always loved playing tour guide or taking friends and family around New York, so it was a great opportunity when I discovered them. Download the app and give it a try – you’ll be amazed at all the knowledge locals have and advice they give! You’ll also get an answer to your question within seconds.
One of the perks of being a buddy is having an opportunity to meet some other locals at get-togethers and food tastings. Our last one was at Yotel, at the large rooftop bar and deck of Social Food & Drink. Along with the huge indoor and outdoor space, comfortable seating, and a view of the skyscrapers around the area, they also have the Rooftop Cinena Club, where you can watch movies on the deck in the summertime. Still haven’t tried it yet, but would love to one day!
Picture walking into a restaurant with whitewashed brick interior and wooden seats, greeted by a beautiful blue-eyed, handsome host with a light accent. You would think you just stepped into a cafe in Melbourne, Australia. Well, close enough! Two Hands, a restaurant opened by locals Giles Russell and Henry Roberts, is a glimpse of the food culture in Australia – it’s meant to serve light fresh and vegetable-focused meals. I had been waiting a while to go but I heard if you don’t go early, the wait can be a while, so one morning my husband and I went on a brunch date at 10 a.m. We liked it so much we went back with our other friends to try something else. It’s the perfect place for photo opportunities too because of the natural lighting that beams in. If there’s one thing that I think is a must and found to be the perfect bite that’s as close as you can get to the one in the land down under, it would be the espresso mascarpone banana bread topped with buckwheat seeds. It’s heavenly. The strong espresso flavor mixed smoothly into mascarpone cheesebalanced well with the semi-sweet banana walnut. Add a little crunch from the seeds on top and you’re set for the day.