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Sam the Critic: Nike Air Force 1 Flyknit

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So Nike, the beloved sportswear & casual wear megagiant, has decided to take two good things and make one wrong thing.

I am the AF1’s greatest supporter – so much so I did a whole advertising campaign for them – but this is too far.

I get it though. The Flyknit technology that this new model is tangoed with is the latest & greatest in footwear technology. And sure it’s a great idea to marry 2015’s most innovative technology with the 1982 perennial design, but at least don’t make it look like it’s made of soggy cotton swabs the dentist put in your mouth.

Like, please.

There is no doubt in my mind that these are going to be some of the most comfortable shoes out there, but I can’t help but not want to put my beloved perfectly-stitched-smooth-leathered classics aside for it.

(Although I am really digging what they did with the accents of translucent material in the sole and believe they should do that way more often in their next designs.)

But whatever.

You do you, Nike. You know you have my hard earned cash no matter what ridiculous materials you use.

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Momofuku Milk Bar // UWS

Many people underestimate the power of the Upper West Side. It’s not known for anything crazy – in any sense of the word. It’s mainly just known as a little, quite part of town…but there are a select few who know what a hidden gem it truly is.

Us UpperWestSiders live a stone’s throw away from Central Park, we’re engulfed by restaurants from India all the way to Peru & we’re in one of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Having this insider knowledge, Mal & I have taken a snooze in Central Park, gotten drinks at nearby pubs and have had some killer Thai food all on the same block. Top that, SoHo.

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But one of my latest discoveries is hands down one of my new favorites: the Momofuku Milk Bar on W87th

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You are greeted with a shelf decorated with blueberry & cream, compost and perfect 10 cookies & an array of bread bombs.IMG_3009 IMG_3004

And what might be even better than the food is that they care about the locals! With every dairy sale they make, a portion goes towards dairy farming families whom are in need. What more could you want to love?IMG_3005

Besides maybe this birthday cake topped with cake batter morsels…IMG_3006

Or these DIY cake mixes in milk bottles?
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Having very little self-restraint, I went in and ordered two goodies from both the savory and sweet sides of the spectrum.IMG_3016IMG_3010 IMG_3011

Compost cookie filled with chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, ground coffee, pretzels & butterscotch chips and a bagel bomb filled with smokey bacon scallion cream cheese.IMG_3015A perfect “one for now, one for later” scenario!
IMG_3023Visit their shop on the UWS to pick up a sweet treat after you eat at one of the amazing restaurants speckling Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues.

Bon apetit!

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Brunching @ Sarabeth’s // UWS

Among going shopping, avoiding tourist attractions and drinking, one of New York’s most coveted past-times is brunching.

Previously defined in my restaurant review of egg, brunch is not only a phenomenal cure for hangovers (unless boozy brunch filled with free-flowing mimosas is involved), but it is also a phenomenal cure for all bland weekday breakfast woes. Going out to brunch opens up so many more doors than your kitchen cabinets could ever aspire to reveal – freshly baked pumpkin muffins, homemade hollandaise sauce and jam made from organic apricots growing on the trees in the restaurant’s backyard. A world of combinations involving truffle oil, english muffins and smoked salmon open up with the turn of a menu page and manage to cure any existential thoughts brought to you from a stressful work week.

So, knowing that 8 hour work days and piles of stress were lurking around the corner as my first day of work approached, my mum and I decided to explore the Upper West Side for a bangin’ brunch that I could fully enjoy without the slightest thought of work.

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After wandering several blocks, Sarabeth’s revealed herself to us. She lured us in with her al fresco dining and buzzing “mmmm”s and “uugghh”s from satisfied guests.

We flipped open the menus and I landed on the farmer’s omelet comprised of leeks, ham, potatoes and gruyere cheese with a pumpkin muffin w/ jam & butter on the side.

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Whilst mum set her sights on the classic eggs benedict with a side of fresh strawberries & sliced banana.11651187_10206165913338955_187487466_n 11719971_10206165913458958_1787335966_n

11733245_10206165913578961_563979388_nNeedless to say her expression says it all. Both dishes were superb and left us filled with joy and love and happiness and full bellies.
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Despite being on the Upper West Side, it is definitely worth the trek. Everything is freshly baked & made from high quality ingredients so whether or not you’re in the area, Sarabeth’s is worth a try!
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Why Every Traveler Needs a Vacation

I pride myself on being an adventurer. No mountain too high, valley too low or zip line too long. Every place I go, I like to test my boundaries by trying something new, different and exciting. Trying things that not only allow me gain insight into myself, but also into the place which I’m exploring.

Thailind was ziplining above tropical treetops.
Kenya was playing National Geographic photographer on safaris.
Canada was learning how to snowboard.
And India was…well…trying everything.

While nothing makes me grin wider than learning about the culture, history and way of life in different places, I need a vacation.

Vacation: a scheduled period of time during which activity is suspended. Total relaxation. Utter bliss. Laying face towards the sun on the beach with the only decision at hand is deciding between a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. While you can get that while traveling, I often feel like I’m cheating myself of everything else the country has to offer. So instead of frying like an egg, I decide to go gawk at The Forbidden City in Petra or see how coffee is made in Guatemala.

Basically, life is too short and too valuable to waste away under palm trees. But then again, if you fill every one of your travels with culture and history, a cheeky mental health holiday filled with nothing but sun screen & breakfast buffets is allowed.

These little get aways from reality allow you to digest everything you’ve seen, done, and experienced through the course of your travels, in your everyday life and allows you to plan exciting new things for the future. These mental health holidays are as necessary as the adventure packed ones in Cambodia, Argentina and Europe. These are the holidays that keep you mentally sound & help power you up so you can keep exploring – mainly because after so many days of doing nothing, all you want to do is something!

If your wallet doesn’t allow you to jet off to some exotic paradise, staycations are just as effective. Spas, a one night stay at a 5 star hotel nearby or even a hang out session at your friend’s pool will suffice as a mental health holiday. Make it seem like a holiday away from home! Go to the market and splurge on cocktail mix, grapes and cheesy decorations to make you feel like you’re escaping everyday life without burning through your savings to so.

At the end of the day, you’re stuck with yourself. So, as many wise women have said, “treat yo self” and take care of yoself! Life’s a lot of work, so reward yourself by doing the complete opposite.

Start by listening to this playlist & indulge yourself with some necessary TLC (and a strong cocktail):

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egg // BROOKLYN

Brunch (noun/verb): A weekend activity or meal that commences anywhere between 10:30am and 2pm. Tis a time where hungover folk unite from around the city and attempt to regain a grip on their lives via overconsumption of eggs, toast, hollandaise sauce, bloody marys and mimosas.

Having that been the case last Saturday, Adam and I decided to venture into Brooklyn and scope out notorious breakfast/brunch place, “egg”.
Nestled deep in Williamsburg, this southern style breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurant perfectly captures Brooklyn’s quirky vibe while staying genuine to southern cuisine with their hearty grits and biscuits. Egg brings a twist to the table by incorporating fresh, simple, and wholesome flavors into their dishes.

My stomach steered me towards their chorizo & poached eggs topped with jalapeños and was generously accompanied by toast and a biscuit. Adam went straight for the gains with poached eggs, bacon, toast and a hash brown mound.

The biscuit was crumbly enough to be authentic but solid enough to hold the weight of their homemade fig marmalade. A bite of sweet to follow a bite of spicy from a forkful of chorizo, ketchup and egg topped with a jalapeño sliver perfectly subdued my hanger and left me content and rejuvenated (more or less). Adam, equally content with his lean but plentiful smoked bacon, haystack hash brown and perfectly poached eggs reclined back in his seat and finished the meal off with a satisfied arms-over-head stretch.

There was quite a line to get in, but it goes by fast given everyone has some place to go and some people to see in the city so don’t let it discourage you when you go!

The restaurant had a perfectly simple design in terms of decor and dish execution & presentation. A humble little nook for a hearty and healing meal all at a great price makes egg a great place to go with your broke college friends for some real simple & delicious cooking.

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Chinese Cuisine: A Manual For Gweilos

Having grown up in Southern California, I was raised on the notion that Chinese food meant everything on Panda Express’ menu: Orange Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken. While these sugar-drenched and soy sauce soaked dishes perfectly suited my stringent eating habits, I was light-years away from eating true Chinese cuisine such as cong you bing, Peking duck, and xiao long bao. Thisis the Chinese food history and tradition birthed. This is true Chinese cuisine.
I was introduced to this authentic side of Chinese food 4 years ago when I moved to Hong Kong. What’s truly disheartening, though, is that most people never get the chance to visit China. This exquisite style of cooking and these traditional recipes therefore go untapped and die in their minds under the façade as being Orange Chicken and Broccoli Beef. However, hope is far from lost. There are some people who have yearned to obtain a deeper understanding beyond what textbooks and websites can provide and have moved their lives overseas to experience this fruitful culture and indulge in this cuisine for themselves.
Gweilos (guh-why-lows): Hong Kong slang for foreigners
While this term has been slashed with racial deprecatory, it has healed slowly over time – now to the point of being playful jargon. I view being a gweilo as an honor in disguise. It allows me to help pioneer a way for fearful foreigners to take charge of their curiosity and travel abroad to understand misunderstood cultures. By traveling and experiencing these cultures myself, I am able to indulge in history, tradition, and cuisine. I encourage them to slurp up the broth of xiao long bao alongside new Chinese friends, to joyously press their fingers into a soft cha siu bao, and experience the unique texture of Phoenix Claws for the first time. Eating these beloved dishes will give them a glimpse into how China ticks.
For the adventurous and the modest, these are some great starter dishes to help you set foot on your culinary odyssey.
Xiao Long Bao (see-ow-long-bow)
Also known as Shanghai steamed soup dumplings, these little satchels of broth and pork filling warm you from the mouth down to the stomach. Their delicately thin dumpling exterior encompasses a warm stock and floats a morsel of pork and vegetable filling.
Cha Siu Bao (cha-shoe-bow)
Resembling a generous dollop of whipped cream, these steamed barbeque pork buns are lighter than air but as filling as pound cake. Their sweet interior is coaxed perfectly by the fluffy white bun it is nestled in. Filling, but not overwhelmingly so, these are a perfect way to balance out other oily dishes commonly found in Chinese cuisine.
Siu Mai (see-you-my)
These dumplings are filled with either pork or seafood and vegetables are wrapped in a distinct, thin yellow noodle and garnished with crab roe, or sometimes even a diced carrot. Dabbed in soy sauce, these dumplings bring a salty and acidic taste to your palette. With no overwhelming seafood taste, they are a great way to wean onto other seafood dishes you will find in China.

Steamed Shrimp Rice Noodles

Steamed and folded into rectangular packets, shrimp and chopped herbs are presented to you wrapped in moist noodles laid one on top of another. These dense and somewhat slippery noodles make them difficult to work with for first-time chopstick users, but the reward is worth the battle. They are mild on flavor but full of satisfaction.

Phoenix Claws

Here is when having an open mind and adventurous spirit come into play. Phoenix Claws, also known as Chicken Feet, are a customary delicacy. They are slimy in nature and you must spit out the bones when consuming. Apart from its texture, the dish possesses robust undertones of aniseed and fennel to give it an unmatched unique taste. Their texture is widely loved by the Chinese whom value texture over taste. Consider this a 4 out of 5 ranking on the scale of adventurous eating.
For the diner with a sugar inclination, these street-side treats are worth finishing off a delectable dim sum meal with.
Egg Puff Waffles
Like a regular Belgium waffle, but with round bulges instead of square coves. Served by its self or drenched in condensed milk, peanut butter or chocolate, there is something to love for everyone with a mild to severe sweet tooth.

Egg Tarts

This famous dessert is known for its flakey pastry shell and sweet egg custard filling. Baked in the oven, these gems come out of the oven with a heat scorched top and a thick custard middle. After taking a bite of both shell and filling, an explosion of moderate sweetness from the egg custard and buttery slivers from the shell melt together and coax your mouth into a silky delight.
Bubble Tea
Originating in Taiwan but loved throughout Asia, bubble tea helps wash down even the densest of foods. Its light tea base is originally mixed with milk and poured over ice and tapioca balls. It is a fun way to indulge on the hottest of summer days and keep it nostalgic on the coldest of winter nights.

Chomp through these dishes & you will be well on your way to understanding Chinese cuisine!
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Stormchasing Juno

BOSTON, MA: Monday afternoon students all around the Northeast rejoiced in a harmonious *ding* of an email with the subject “CLASSES CANCELLED DUE TO JUNO BLIZZARD”.
And then the frenzy – Snapchat & shopping – began.
 

CVS – Wiped clean of EasyMac and Ramen, but fully stocked on substitutes…..
3:38PM – Some more interesting than others…
With every pocket, nook and cranny was stuffed with apocalyptic goods (i.e. Reeses Puffs, Cheetos & “ginger” beer) I waddled home to celebrate with the mates.
10:32AM – DAY OF THE STORM: We woke up this morning in a bliss of zero immediate responsibilities. The only thing beckoning for our attention was the deserted town, washed in white, begging for us to go and jump.

That spot was not that deep…

Aftermath: writhing in pain.
11:03AM: After getting to grips with the terrain, we ran back inside, tightened our boots, grabbed the GoPro & ventured on.

Long story short, my pants are only so thick and I can only take so much snow in between my toes. So after an hour of frolicking we called it a day…until later anyway. Can’t keep a kid at heart down for long!