Wednesday, April 28, 2010

foxtrot for 54% off

If you've been wanting to take salsa, foxtrot, merengue or tango classes, here's your chance to do it at a discount! LivingSocial's deal for the day is 54% off four group classes plus four passes to Dance With Me’s mingle sessions. I don't have a dance partner to drag to these things, so I'll pass, but if you do this would be a great chance to get him to learn some suave moves!

Click here!

on target

Target, you sneaky devil you. I look away for a second and suddenly you have all sorts of cool summer designer collaborations! 

There are gladiator wedges for $29.99 with Cynthia Vincent, plus a host of cute strappy sandals for $24.99.

And for the summer horse races, polo matches, picnics and barbeques—cute little hats in collaboration with milliner Eugenia Kim. I'm specially liking that throwback of a straw hat two pictures down with the green trim and $16.99 pricetag.

I'm a lot less excited about the Zac Posen/Target collaboration. Nothing appealing enough to spare hanger space for. But I might just make room for a little straw hat and some wedges if I run into them at a Target store ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

and the winner is ...

Essi Korhonen! Here's her comment that won her the two Sex and the City tour tickets:
"I simply cannot wait to see SATC2!
I saw the first one in a cinema in New York on the week it was released, with my best friend who I’ve been friends with for 30 years. It was our final single girls’ trip and we were doing my friend’s first fitting for her wedding dress. As well as seeing the film, we visited the many of the SATC hot spots, including Soho House.
Fast forward 18 months and my best friend’s a mother of a 6 month old adorable little girl! So I’ve figured I’ll leave it to chance: if I win the tour tickets, I'll buy the two of us flight tickets to NY – she deserves it and I would love to go back again!
As for my favourite SATC location: it’s a toss between restaurant Tao or Soho House. Been to both, as a direct result of seeing them on the show… I think it’s Tao though. On my first ever trip to New York I had Xmas eve dinner at Tao, with my then boyfriend. Booked it well in advance, had some stunning mojitos at the bar, but nothing prepared for how awesome the dining experience ended up being! Décor was every bit as great as seen on tv, and of course had to be seated next to the huge Buddha and try the Kobe beef - it was definitely worth it! xx"
Send me an email at to claim your prize Essi! 'Til May 27 ladies ... Carrie on ...

Monday, April 26, 2010

this little piggy went to charlottesville

When I've been trapped in the city too long, I start thinking there's nothing outside of New York except chain restaurants, strip malls and overly tanned Snooki-wannabes. It's a good thing I was lured down south last weekend for a weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia because I was reminded that there is much to discover out there. While it was tales of dashing Southern men in seersucker wielding mint juleps that enticed me down south, it's the scrumptious, farm-fresh food (and ridonculously cheap drinks!) we enjoyed that'll have me coming back for more.

We started off with a bang at Zocalo, a restaurant located right smack in the middle of downtown Charlottesville, serving a sophisticated yet hearty Latin-inflected menu. We had large glasses of potent strawberry mojitos and some chunky herbed polenta fries to start, then a round of Leffe Blondes with our entrees. Mine was seared duck breast with manchego caramelized onion bread pudding, braised swiss chard and chipotle port compote. Check out that beauty ... 
Kathryn spoke highly of the bread pudding, and she was absolutely on point. Manchego is one of my favorite cheeses because of its delectably rich taste. It's made from sheep's milk, which is fattier than both cow's and goat's milk so it is quite an indulgence, for sure. I found myself endlessly shoveling bites of the succulent duck slices and addictive bread pudding into my mouth, with the swiss chard and cooked grapes cutting into the richness at the right moment ... thereby keeping the vicious cycle going. I ate until I couldn't eat anymore ... well, until I read the dessert menu, that is. Somehow, we found room to share the Mexican bread pudding smothered in Bailey's espresso creme anglais. All that bread pudding probably equipped my body with enough fuel to power through a half marathon. Unfortunately, the only half marathons we had that weekend were for our livers.
The next day, we woke up bright and early for the Foxfield Races. The races being an occasion for daylong drinking, we stopped for a serious breakfast at The Nook, a diner that has been serving comfort food to Charlottesville's folks since 1951. For reasons that I haven't figured out, I failed to photograph my plate of Real Corned Beef Hash ($7.95). I guess the corned beef hash, which was cooked to delicious crisp in some parts and left nice and mushy in others was just so good that all thoughts of blogging evaporated into thin air. So you'll have to use your imagination. It was delicious—and the perfect first layer to my stomach which thereafter got bombarded with beer, bloody Marys, rum & cokes, and an unnamed shot swigged from a random bottle at Foxfields. But that's another story ...
After the all-day drinkfest and a much-needed nap, we went for dinner at Mono Loco, a cheery Tex-Mex restaurant serving up fresh, locally harvested fare. I was very pleased with my Spicy Catfish Burrito ($13). The hefty chunks of catfish fillets tucked in the flour tortillas were lightly breaded on the outside and tender and flaky inside. The catfish was mixed in with rice, beans, onions and peppers inside the burrito, with the whole shebang topped off with chipotle crema, avocado-jalapeno crema, and a dash of Loco hot sauce.
We had our food with margaritas that were so yummy that Tricia and Molly initially thought the bartender had skimped on tequila. They asked the waitress if more tequila could be added to their drinks and she promptly returned with two large shot glasses of tequila (free of charge) for them to dunk into their margaritas. It was pretty funny when they took a sip, looked at each other and said that they still couldn't taste it, which meant there was probably already plenty in the drink. I left my passion fruit margarita alone and still got a nice buzz from it.
Dinner was followed by more revelry involving sake bombs, karaoke, belting "Bad Romance" on the streets while getting soaked in the rain, an 80s dance party, and a ride home in an orange limousine. Understandably, we woke up the next day needing more food to quench the hangover. Kathryn and Adam took us to Beer Run, a place that could very well be my definition of paradise. Their store is stocked with 130 microbrews, and their food is organic and all natural but still indulgent and extremely yummy. We ordered a couple of Biscuit Baskets ($5.95) because Kathryn likened the flaky on the outside, soft and moist on the inside fresh sage and scallion cheddar biscuits to heaven. Which was pretty accurate.  
Tricia, who was craving something sweet and dessert-like, zeroed in on the Yeats’ Caramelized Organic Fuji Apple French Toast ($9.95). What it is: Albemarle Bakery brioche dipped in a lemon zest batter, topped with sautéed Fuji apples in Jameson’s and Cointreau, with fresh organic clotted sour cream and pure maple syrup. This dish had many fans. It might land on my "Must Eat Before I Die" list.
My food of choice post drunken evenings always involves eggs and bacon, so I picked the Cotswold Cottage omelette made with local Innisfree brown eggs, organic Fuji apples and Cotswold Cheddar Cheese plus Polyface farm sausage (for an additional $1 on top of the $8.95). And yes, a side of all natural nitrate-free brown sugar bacon, too. What's not to love about pork that doesn't do drugs and is coated with sugar, cooked to a crisp, given a dash of pepper, and served alongside my omelette? Bliss!
After this meal, we made our way back to the Big Bad City of New York with warm hearts, full stomachs, and exhausted livers. Thank you, Charlottesville, and our wonderful hosts Kathryn and Adam for showing us that farm-fresh and organic can also mean heart-stoppingly delicious!

Zocalo is located at 201 E. Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia. Tel. (434) 977-4944
The Nook is located at 415 E Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia. Tel. (434) 295-6665
Mono Loco is located at 200 West Water Street, Charlottesville, Virginia. Tel. (434) 979-0688
Beer Run is located at 156 Carlton Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Tel. (434) 984-BEER

Sunday, April 25, 2010

the capitol

Last Friday was the first time I'd ever stepped foot in Washington DC, and thanks to our friend Molly, we got to go on a special tour of The Capitol. It was great to soak in the majesty of The Capitol while hearing all sorts of fun, insider facts about this historic place.
My favorite part had to be our very special lunch ...
I kind of regret not trying the famous Senate bean soup. It doesn't look extremely appetizing but it's been served in the Senate dining room every day since the early twentieth century. Stories alternately credit Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho and Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota for mandating that the bean soup be served everyday, though none of the stories have ever been verified. Michele, who ordered it, said it wasn't bad. I was scared off by the color (or lack of it) but now I wish I tried it. How many chances does one get to have it, after all? 
Instead, I ordered a caesar salad with grilled shrimp, which was actually quite good. The grilled shrimp were nicely plump and juicy.
It was a great way to start off our weekend trip down to Charlottesville for the Foxfield Races. There's so much to tell about Charlottesville and their wineries, delicious food, Foxfields, and the Southern gentlemen who are not afraid to dress up in pastels. More on that tomorrow because I am completely knackered right now. 

Before I sign off, I'd like to remind you all that I'm giving away the two tickets for the Sex and the City tour on April 27, so leave a comment on this post for a chance to win!

Monday, April 19, 2010

china fun

Funny how I lived three blocks away from China Fun in the Upper East Side for almost two years and never ate there. Now that I'm about four train stops away from it, I found myself scarfing their dumplings twice in three days! When you're craving Chinese food and you're living in the culinary wasteland that is the upper 90s of Manhattan, that's just what happens, I guess.

Last Friday, we had our farewell dinner for Gaea at China Fun because she was craving Peking Duck. The highlights of the meal were the fantastic crispy seabass ($20.95), delicious Japanese mayo-slathered shrimps ($19.95), and the sinfully scrumptious Peking Duck ($32), which we ordered two of. Yes, we are shameless.

This morning, I woke up craving dimsum so I treated myself to hakaw (a.k.a. crystal shrimp dumplings for $6.25) and minced pork congee with thousand year egg ($4.25). Pretty classic Cantonese brekkie food.

Just what a girl needs after a night of wine, martinis, PBRs, and another iPhone loss. Understandably, I was a bit sad this morning, but my fortune cookie made me crack a smile.

Can my fortune cookie recommend a dictionary too for ease of translation? If they're indeed books, then I guess I'm not up for any tough reads these days. Can someone send me the equivalent of a comic book? Just let the Kerouacs and Nietzsches gather dust in the bookshelf.

Before I sign off, dear readers, I'd like to remind you that there's a giveaway in progress! Two Sex and the City tour tickets that do not expire, so you can squirrel them away for whenever you're in New York.  You have until April 27 to enter the contest so please, please don't let those tickets go to waste! Leave a comment at this post for a chance to win!

China Fun is located at 1221 2nd Avenue (at E 64th Street), New York, NY. Tel. (212) 752-0810

Saturday, April 17, 2010

sex and the city tour giveaway!

Have you seen the extended trailer for Sex and the City 2? Those sneaky, sneaky writers. Just when I thought I was getting over my SATC addiction, they come and reel me back in with a blast from the past who's aging much better than the present ... if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and take a look ...

Are you excited to watch it yet? Cos I sure am!

Fine, I'll admit it. One of the reasons why I chose New York, out of all the cities in the world, to live in is because I wanted to be Carrie. I wanted her life, from the brunches and sample sales to cosmopolitans and man mishaps. My New York life turned out to be quite different from hers but in some ways very much the same. I understand her love affair with the city itself because I too instantly fell in love with both its beauty and its madness the instant I stepped onto its grimy streets. So I thought it's fitting that the very first giveaway I'm ever doing on this blog is for two Sex and the City tour tickets with On Location Tours! This is the much written about tour that takes you to some of the most memorable SATC spots in the city—from the store where Charlotte became acquainted with the "Rabbit" to Steve and Aidan's bar "Scout". These gift certificates never expire so if you don't live in New York, you can save it for your next visit to the big bad city.

How to join the contest? Leave me a comment and tell me which Sex and the City location is most memorable to you. Please create a Blogger account if you don't already have one for ease of verifying the winner. I'll announce the lucky winner on April 27, 2010—one month before the new movie drops!

On Location Tours has also very kindly provided The Chiconomist readers with a 15% discount off any of their tours. Take your pick from Sex and the City, Gossip Girls, and the Sopranos, or do a Movie Classics or Central Park Walking tour. Just enter the code CHICONOMIST to get the discount. Click here to purchase a tour.

Can't wait to hear from you. One hand in the air for the big city!

Friday, April 16, 2010

costello tagliapietra for uniqlo

Hitting stores on May 20th: UNIQLO's capsule collection of dresses in collaboration with Costello Tagliapietra. I loved the Brooklyn duo's Spring-Summer 2010 collection of pretty dresses in lush colors and feminine draping. Their collection for UNIQLO follows those same lines, but at a much more pocket-friendly price range of $29.50-$39.50. I want all three dresses above badly! They seem like a reinterpretation of this dress below from Costello Tagliapietra's SS2010 show, don't you think?

God bless the brilliant mind that came up with the idea of designer collaborations!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

rice ball heaven at oms/b

My first taste of onigiri (also known as omusubi) was upon landing in Tokyo. Starving after a long flight, we got a tuna rice ball and a tiny bottle of Yakult from an airport store to snack on while waiting for our ride. I still remember how that little ball of rice spiked with tuna and wrapped in nori was a little piece of heaven, an indication of more yummy meals to come in the week ahead.
Since coming back to New York, I've only had onigiri once, purchased from Sun Mart in St. Mark's Place. I thought it would be good since it did come from a Japanese store but to my disappointment, the rice was almost hard and the onigiri was completely unappetizing.

Then my friend Ludette told me about Oms/b, a tiny restaurant in Midtown that serves freshly made onigiri. We had been meaning to go there for ages, but I never got a chance to stop in until today. They have the most adorable little rice balls in fun colors and shapes.
On the left is the Hijiki onigiri, which has seaweed and edamame beans mixed with rice then wrapped in a yellow soy sheet. Perfect for my veggie days! The adorable looking pink onigiri is the Yukari-Plum rice ball, composed of Siso leaf (yukari) and white sesame mixed with rice, wrapped in a pink soy sheet, and topped with Kishu-Plum. I'm not a huge fan of plum so I'll just have to bask in the cuteness and move on. Not sure what the rightmost onigiri is, but liking the orange sherbet color of it!
I ended up ordering the wasabi shrimp onigiri in the middle, which was just delicious! The shrimp was plump and tender, and the rice was so freshly made that it was still a little warm when I bit into the onigiri. 
I meant to order that little bundle of yumminess in the center, topped with salmon roe (ikura). So I asked for ikura, not realizing they also had a regular onigiri with ikura on it. Note to self: next time, ask for the "Gorgeous Football Rice" to get the reward of biting into a mixed vegetable rice roll topped with salmon roe and eggs and enveloped in sweet fried tofu. I drooled a little, writing that sentence. 

The rice balls range in price from $2 to $3.25, which is not bad as far as Midtown lunch prices go. I think it's so worth it because the ingredients are so fresh and the onigiri is just yummy. Can't wait to try all the other goodies on the menu!

Oms/b is located at 156 East 45th Street (between Third and Lexington), New York, NY 10017-3115.

spring cleaning

I've been getting these emails from Living Social, another website that works on giving large discounts by tapping en masse buying power. Today's deal is an interesting one, I think. If you're looking for some help with your spring cleaning, Living Social is offering a discounted cleaning session with Clarity Domestics for just $47—a pretty good deal, I think, since the usual going rate for a cleaning lady to tidy up a 1-bedroom in New York is about $75. For $47, you get a three hour cleaning session with Clarity Domestics using eco-friendly products to boot. This service is normally valued at $105. I browsed the Clarity Domestics website and they usually charge $69 and upwards to clean up a studio, and $139 and up for 1- to 2-bedrooms. Interesting deal for those looking for a helping hand with those dust bunnies accumulating under your bed (nothing they can do about the skeletons in your closet though, sorry). To sign up for this deal, click here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

let's do brunch: tía pol

After our incredibly fun aerial silks class, Kate and I went for brunch at Tía Pol. I normally veer towards Soho and Nolita for brunch so I didn't quite know what to expect, but we lucked out. Tía Pol is really a tapas bar, so your only seating choices are to sit at the bar or on bar tables, but since we were fresh out of a workout, this was a-okay. It was pretty roomy at around 1pm and we didn't have to wait for a table, which is always good. I felt guilty because there weren't as many vegetarian choices for Kate as I thought, but they made the revueltos del dia vegetarian for her. Since I was a little piggie and had a small french toast with caramelized strawberries for breakfast before our class, I ordered a salad at Tía Pol. But this was a pretty indulgent salad, crowned with a beautiful poached egg and sitting on a generous bed of jamon Serrano. Oh how I missed jamon during my veggie month. YUM!
I also ordered a latte, which was nice and strong. Just perfect for a lovely Sunday afternoon. After we finished our main dishes, the waitress talked us into ordering the chocolate churros which are made fresh and only on Saturdays and Sundays. Dios mio, they were good ...
Beautifully crunchy on the outside and almost custardly inside, then dipped in that thick chocolate sauce ... a damn good use of $6, for sure! After brunch, we took a walk on the High Line and sat down for an intense planning session of our upcoming road trip. The High Line is definitely pretty and I would certainly stop there for some sun and a good chat if I were in the area. But since I'm pretty spoiled these days with my proximity to Central Park, I wouldn't go out of my way to go there. Here's us posing by the little shrubs of the High Line. Kate looks super chic while I just seem to be living in athletic wear these days. You can totally tell who lives in a cool part of Brooklyn and who's resigned to living in the Upper East Side! Oh well.
Incongruous outfits aside, what a great use of a Sunday! Hope yours was great too. Let's grit our teeth and hope the workweek goes by in a jiffy! 

Tia Pol is located at 205 Tenth Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets), New York, NY. Tel. (212) 675-8805
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