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Travel

Tasmania, Day One.

October 10, 2013

I’m not quite sure how to start this post, there’s so much I want to tell you. About this trip, this land I visited and all I saw. Heidi Apples, visiting the Apple Isle for the very first time. It was so perfect and without a hint of cheesiness the previous sentence may imply. Though I did eat a lot of cheese over the course of my visit…

I suppose I’ll start at the beginning.

When asked if I wanted to pack my bags, head to Tasmania and document my finds along the North-West region, I quite literally jumped at the opportunity. Four days winding through the countryside, visiting producers and finding “hidden gems” as the generous brief encouraged. Oh, yes, I could manage that.

My mum joined me on this jaunt. As well as being one of my most favourite people, she has excellent taste in the realm of food and hidden gems. And so early one late September Thursday morning, we boarded a flight to Launceston.

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My first vision of Tasmania was green. Green like I had not encountered since touring the English countryside with mum in 2003. Tasmania feels like a slice of Europe in that sense, and I intend that in the most complimentary way. It is stunning. As much as I appreciate my home state, Victoria, Tasmania really excels at the whole “rolling pastures” thing. I adore green, it’s my favourite colour, and I found myself entranced by the intense shades all around me. And not just green, but browns and oranges and reds. From the soil to the hills, the contours and mounds, all of it was so lush, so fertile, so breathtakingly beautiful.

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I had hired a car as my way to get around and I found this to be a very easy, efficient and cost effective mode of transportation. I cannot really imagine doing it another way and being able to gain such excellent access to all of Tassie’s corners.

Elizabeth Town Antiques

Our first stop for the day was Elizabeth Town, where we stumbled upon an antique shop and small history museum. Always a sucker for antiques, mum and I snagged a few gems (including an old jug) and debated our ability to take a vintage 30kg pudding/crayfish boiler home on the plane. We left without the boiler. This store, casually known as “Elizabeth Town Collectables”, is located on the Bass Highway, very near Ashgrove Cheese. If you like antiques and a bit of history, it is definitely worth a visit.

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Ashgrove Cheese

Our bellies hungry for a bite, we scooted to Ashgrove Cheese, where I met with Richard Bennett and learnt about the history of the company and how they make their fabulous cheese. As well as observing how the dairy goods are made, we got to taste our fair share of cheese (there are lots of yummy samples for hungry visitors). We also tried their cultured butter (oh my), so naturally we had a great time at this friendly spot.

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Ashgrove Cheese is a family run business. They have three dairy farms surrounding the cheese factory, where they create their award winning cheese. Ashgrove Chesse also make milk, cream (100% cream with no thickeners!) and hand-cut butter. My family was familiar with Ashgrove as we buy their butter back home, and adore it, but visiting the factory and sampling some of their other bites was a real treat. Ashgrove Cheese produce really delicious goods. Their cheese is honest, rennet-free and crafted from the very best, local ingredients. When you start with well nurtured produce, you get a stellar product. It really is that simple.

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Ashgrove are particularly famous for their cloth matured cheddar (photographed above), but I was personally taken with their wild wasabi and lavender varieties, which are crafted using local plants. Normally I’m not one for flavoured cheese, but these were delicious with just the right hint of true wasabi and lavender flavour. I bought 4 packets to take home…You can find Ashgrove Cheese goods outside of Tasmania or you can order online.

For the drive I bought an iced-coffee made using their beautiful, creamy milk. You know when you have a milkshake craving and nothing else will do? That. It totally hit the spot.

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For cheese lovers, I was also informed that Meander Valley Dairy is another great place to visit. Alas, we were off in another direction…

41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm

Upon encouragement from a lovely lady in Elizabeth Town, we left our cheese-fest and meandered off the highway towards 41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm for tastes of the most incredible hot smoked salmon and zesty salmon rillets.

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This sustainable salmon farm is an ace place to visit. You can try their goods and take a tour around the property for a small fee. You can also try to avoid leaving with 100 packets of salmon (go on, try). But if you do fall short it’s ok, you can find 41 South’s delicious salmon in delis and cafes all around the region (and in some locations outside of Tasmania, too).

For lunch, mum and I took our hot pack of hot smoked salmon and Ashgrove Cheese goodies and had a delightful little picnic.

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While dining we contemplated our next move. Though watching two ladies tuck into scoops of honey ice-cream from the nearby honey factory did not really leave us with much choice…

R. Stephens Honey

First on our honey agenda was the R. Stephens honey factory at Mole Creek, where we sampled sweet spoonfuls of their famous leatherwood honey. Leatherwood honey is a glorious product, unique to the region and boasting a very distinct flavour. This factory is completely unpretentious, with a strong sense of history. The company clearly has a real passion for honey, their website contains a whole document filled with honey recipes! Mum and I bought some creamed leatherwood honey for my dad then buzzed away (sorry) for some more honey goodness…

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The Honey Farm

At The Honey Farm in Chudleigh you can try a large array of spiked honey, from orange to ginger to red chili. Their gift shop is well stocked for all your honey gifting needs but I preferred to bypass the hand creams, heading straight for the ice-cream counter. My scoop of Leatherwood honey ice-cream had a lovely balance of creaminess and sweetness, and was wonderfully full of that strong leatherwood flavour. It was a little golden mound of joy.

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Our sweet scoops left us with energy to expend, so we headed to the rainforest for a little nature walk…

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Liffey Falls

I feel most happy when I’m in the woods on a hike. And having heard great things about the beauty of Tasmania and the potential for nature walks, I was terribly excited to plan a few good hikes for mum and I to complete as a bit of respite from all the food touring. Liffey Falls, a simple and pretty 40 minute walk amongst the ferns, satisfied my nature needs on day one. Just take a look for yourself…

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After our walk we headed to Glencoe Rural Retreat in Barrington, our home for the evening. And what a home…

Glencoe Rural Retreat

Upon arriving at Glencoe we were greeted by Ginette, the lady of the house. Ginette is very warm and welcoming, and her property and house are just beautiful. Remi, Ginette’s husband, was at their Hobart restaurant so we did not get to meet him, but we had some lovely talks with Ginette about their house and family, good food and cooking, gardening, travel, of course. Glencoe is the type of place you hope and wish to have when booking a country getaway. It’s indulgent yet homely, spacious yet cozy…there’s nature and comfort and delicious French country-style food. Oh, did we eat some delicious food. But first, a look at the grounds, complete with chickens and Ginette’s vast vegetable garden, with Mount Roland in the background.

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Mum and I had dinner by the fireplace. In the Summer months Glencoe is busier, with a cafe and more visitors taking advantage of the fabulous cooking on offer. But tonight, we had the place to ourselves. A glass of red wine and a gorgeous three course meal was glorious after a day of travel. The meal was fantastic, with local produce and skilled hands working together to create some of the best food of our entire trip. First was a lovely onion and goats cheese tart with garden greens. This was followed by a dish of twice cooked lamb (one method being sous vide) that was just melting, served on a bed of mashed potatoes with broccolini and jus. For dessert we were given a honey and spiced poached pear with a rich chocolate sauce, pistachio crumble and homemade vanilla bean ice-cream. It was all just fabulous. I’m still dreaming of that lamb and pear… Needless to say we slept very well that night.

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In the morning, after waking with the sun and enjoying a spot of reading on the sill, we had our breakfast.

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Ginette served homemade croissants with her own preserved fruits, as well as fresh bread and cereals, yoghurt, juice and coffee. What a gorgeous spread it was. I’m a true croissant snob, after being spoilt with such brilliant bites in Paris and the USA. I just cannot find croissants at home I adore equally (though perhaps some more research is required…but that’s another post). Ginette’s croissants were truly wonderful. I could have cried. But I didn’t, that would have be awkward. I just love croissants so much…

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Alongside our fresh croissants were an array of homemade jams, including a blood orange beauty. Now when I say the words “orange” and “jam”, you may believe me to be speaking of marmalade, however this spread was quite sweet and so I’m taking the liberty of calling it a jam – if for no other reason than to lure in those who may run at the mention of the word “marmalade”. Don’t be afraid, this preserve is most certainly not bitter. Though be sure to use the best quality  blood oranges you can find. Here, delicious chunks of rind marry wonderfully with a complex jelly.

Mum and I fell hard for this jam and bought eight jars between us to take home. Eight. Ginette accepted our love and praise for her recipe and, as she is so very lovely, has allowed me to share it with you today.

Marmalade d Oranges Sanguines (Blood Orange Jam)

Recipe by Ginette and Remi Bancal

Ingredients
5kg of blood oranges
5 kg of sugar
1g of saffron
4 aniseed stars

Method
1. Cover the oranges with water and cook til a knife can go through.
2. Strain and let them cool down, then chop them into chunky quarters.
3. Cook the oranges in the sugar and aniseed till translucent. Add the saffron to the pot 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
4. Bottled when still hot.

Thank you, Ginette and Remi. I’ve been enjoying spoonfuls of your jam with tart Greek yoghurt, dolloped on top of crêpes and French toast. As the label on your preserves so eloquently states, it is all about “Harmonie. Simple pleasures, perfectly balanced. The French recipe for living well.” Indeed.

We had a marvellous first day in Tasmania, ending superbly at Glencoe Rural Retreat. I truly did not want to leave Ginette, her beautifully sprawling and bumble-bee decorated vegetable garden or her haughty rooster the following morning. But Cradle Mountain was calling…

Stay tuned for Tasmania, Day Two.

sheep lamb honey house

 

Heidi xo

* Disclaimer: although I traveled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania, my opinions and recommendations are most sincerely my own.

 

Hong Kong: a delicious love letter.

August 23, 2013

Dear, Hong Kong. Thank you. I just wanted to say, thanks. For being so full and for all the experiences. You’re really special to me.

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My husband lived in Hong Kong for a short while as a child and we have a lot of family who live there, so that somewhat explains my ardent adoration. But really, even if you have no previous connection to this city, you’re sure to leave feeling full, with a warm kind of familiarity that encourages appreciation, adoration and future visits.

You keep coming back to Hong Kong. You get addicted to the madness.

Or maybe that’s just me, a girl who grew up thinking anywhere with a McDonalds was “so city”, with one bus that came on a Saturday (or did it even come? I never saw that bus). With each visit, my feelings towards Hong Kong have grown from overwhelmed to acceptance and now, adoration. Though my country genes ensure my visits remain temporary (I do not think I could live without my Mornington Peninsula fresh air for an extended period), I really truly love this city. It is so completely different to anything I have ever called home…and yet now, some four visits later, Hong Kong most certainly feels like a second home.

Here are some eating recommendations for Hong Kong, a city bursting with great eats. Memorable experiences are just waiting to happen. My tastes have certainly matured since first coming to Hong Kong as a green sixteen-year-old 11 years ago (when I thought that Chinese food was prawn crackers, followed by beef in black bean sauce, lemon chicken, fried rice and fried ice-cream). Oh my, did I learn a lot during that trip. This time around I was hungry to taste all the true HK eats I could find. My father-in-law and extended family showed me a fantastically delicious time, it was a dream trip full of congee, pineapple buns and dun tarts, dim sum and more.

Are you hungry yet? Here we go, a random assembly of our eats during this one-week trip to Hong Kong…

1. Capital Cafe in Wan Chai is a popular spot for Cha Chaan Teng (HK-style breakfast). While Australian Dairy Company is the business over the harbour, on Hong Kong Island I really enjoyed this no fuss joint for traditional Cha Chaan Teng eats. We shared macaroni with ham, HK-style french toast, scrambled eggs with thick fluffy white toast and HK-style milk tea.

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2. Tim Ho Wan serves up cheap and delicious Dim Sum to truckloads of people. They have several locations for all your baked BBQ pork bun and beef-stuffed beancurd needs. It’s seriously good stuff. Visit around 11am for lunch or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

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3. Congee is a must when in Hong Kong. We headed to Tai Hang for some street-congee lovin’, where this little shop on the corner of King & Brown Streets famously serves delicious congee with homemade rice noodles and fresh doughnuts to locals at all hours.

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4. Another must-try when in Hong Kong are dun tarts, or egg custard tarts. I used to really dislike these bites, much to the horror of those around me. I adore Portuguese-style custard tarts (take me back to Lisbon…), but never liked the Hong Kong version. This time, I got it. There are two styles, the flaky shell and the shortbread-style shell. I much prefer the shortbread crust (and prefer my custard more set). If you’re keen to try dun tarts, a good place to start is the very famous Tai Cheong Bakery, located in Central. Some say their tarts are overpriced (true), but I didn’t mind spending the money once on these buttery bites.

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5. More love for my new favourite Hong Kong neighbourhood Tai Hang. We visited Ramen Kureha for mighty tasty ramen bowls. This shop boasts exciting flavours and is super popular with the Hong Kong ladies (something to do with the hipster waiters, I assume).

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6. That night we also visited Xiao Tian Gu for dessert, sampling coconut sago with red beans (my favourite), tofu pudding with cashew cream and black sesame paste. These fun desserts are just so different to the apple crumble I grew up with.

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7. Visit Macau, if you can, for a change of scene as well as yummy noodles, ginger candies and almond cookies.

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8. Gi Kee Dai Pai Dong in Happy Valley is one of our local favourites. This food market stall serves really tasty chicken that is covered in fried garlic. We get this dish every visit. It’s mandatory.

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9. Another Happy Valley local is Hop Lu and their famous fish ball and fish cake noodle soup. The service isn’t the star attraction here, but it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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10. Pick up a bun from one of the bakeries on the street for breakfast or a snack. The pineapple bun is very popular, but Ben’s favourite is the custard. I’m torn. Though we agree on avoiding the hot-dog bun with meat floss.

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11. One night we met Ben’s sister and her husband for a really yummy and fresh dinner at Nha Trang in Central, followed by drinks at Club Feather Boa. After finding our way behind the curtain and figuring out wtf was going on, we ordered a strawberry daiquiri and had a merry time.

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12. Mak’s Noodles is a longstanding gem that serves up scrumptious wonton noodle soup in Central. I just love their prawn wonton.

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13. Yo Mama is a frozen yoghurt chain. My husband’s lovely and talented cousin, Jacqui, encouraged me to try the green tea flavour with sesame flax sprinkles. It blew my mind. Man, I wish we had this in Melbourne.

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14. Lan Fong Yuen will give you a super authentic Cha Chaan Teng experience in Central. We got takeaway HK-style milk tea and I learnt that I really don’t like the stuff. This place, open since 1952, is super cute and I vowed to visit again for breakfast. Though we never did get there for french toast and pork buns. Next time…

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If you’re all up in the Hong Kong food world, please feel free to add recommendations for readers in the comments below. The thing is, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have your eating expectations met, nay, smashed, when visiting Hong Kong. They just do it so well.

 

Hong Kong Notes

Accommodation: Ben and I stayed with family in Happy Valley, which is a quieter nook on Hong Kong Island. For tourists, I would highly recommend staying in Causeway Bay. You’ll be surrounded by shops and can easily hop on a tram and head to Central and other places. Wan chai and Tai Hang are nearby for good food. Personally, I’d choose staying on Hong Kong Island over Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon side any day, though I know many people like staying over the harbour.
Getting Around: we used buses, trains (the MTR), trams and cabs, we well as family cars. It’s quite easy to get around Hong Kong and cabs are pretty cheap.
Activities – some recommended fun when in Hong Kong: 1. Definitely head up to The Peak for a gorgeous view of Hong Kong (try to get a clear day, night time is lovely too). 2. Catch Star Ferry and grab a great harbour view of Hong Kong Island. I love to do this at night to see the twinkling city lights. 3. EAT! Dim Sum, Cha Chaan Teng breakfast, go out for dessert, congee, wonton noodle soup, buns and tarts – Hong Kong is a foodie heaven! See above for my eating recommendations and also check out this great article. I’d really recommend wandering and eating your way around Tai Hang. 4. Catch a tram along Hennessy Road. 5. Visit the Wan Chai food market. 6. Visit the Big Buddha and have a yummy vegetarian meal at the Po Lin Monastery. 7. Temple Street night market is a bit of fun. 8. Visit the IFC mall (my favourite) for shopping. 9. Wander, wander, wander and then eat some more.
 

Heidi xo

Macau

August 20, 2013

On this chilly Tuesday, let’s scoot back to Asia. For the next two posts I’ll linger here, summing up my recent adventure, finishing with some recommendations for Hong Kong eats. So grab a cup of tea and let’s travel to Macau…

My father-in-law really spoilt us during our recent trip to Hong Kong. This day trip to Macau was in particular, a real treat. Macau is such an unreal mix of cultures and aesthetics, it is a veritable feast for both your eyes and your appetite. The old Portuguese outfit stands proud amongst the shiny new casino mayhem, creating this crazy combination of run down wealth.

Naturally I prefer the old part of town. I found the Portuguese architecture, with muted colours that once shined so bright, to be incredibly charming. And my, did we find some delicious corners – from chewy noodles to ginger bites and coconut sago drinks.

Here are some snaps from our excursion to Macau.

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When in Macau, you will not avoid the Koi Kei Bakeries littered along practically every street. You have been warned. What was once a lone cart selling peanut candy and ginger has multiplied into a delicious, albeit imposing monopoly of Macau sweet shops. Koi Kei provide samples of their goods for gleeful, greedy shoppers, namely their famed almond cookies. Be sure to visit and taste, and maybe buy a gift or two, as we did. Though I’d also recommend visiting the smaller shops along the streets of Macau for some humble charm.

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Jamón and roast duck…a strange, canivorous, cultural harmony.

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We had an amazing lunch at Cheung Kei Noodle House. This long loved noodle house practice the old-school, traditional bamboo method to make their noodles. They are chewy, al dente perfection, some of the best noodles I’ve eaten. Their wontons with seaweed were also so so good.

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The noodle cook in action…

As a treat, we saw The House of Dancing Water show. It. Was. Spectacular.

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We ended our visit with a traditional Portuguese dinner at António, delighting in delicious baked Portuguese chicken and grilled fish. It took me right back to Lisbon.

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Macau.

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Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong. Full.

August 7, 2013

My goodness I am having an excellent time in Hong Kong. Has it always been this magical? This full? Yes, it’s always been this full. But I’m only just now realising the beauty in the fullness.

I first came to this city in 2002 when I was so small and so completely unprepared for the fullness of Hong Kong. I was used to space and sparse. Now, some four visits later, I am less overwhelmed and more…enamoured. More in love.

In love with the grand structures in which people create such tiny homes; in love with the little nooks selling traditional food, untouched by the years and the growing, imposing buildings further narrowing their already limited space; in love with the sprawling markets full of stinky fish and baskets of greens; in love with that feeling I get when I step on to the sidewalk in Wan Chai, dodging droplets from the air-conditioning boxes above and wiping my brow from the full humidity…as we search for a place to satiate our appetites I am at once so happy to be back and so sad to be going. This time around, you see, I am completely prepared for the superficial fullness of Hong Kong…the cluttered buildings and people, people everywhere… yet I am completely unprepared for how full I feel in my heart for this crazy beautiful place.

Hong Kong. I have so much love for you.

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Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore

August 3, 2013

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This past July, my husband and I were in Singapore for a short while. As we were primarily working, we weren’t free to tour as much as we’d have liked. You see, ordinarily on overseas adventures I am happy, nay, ecstatic to travel long distances for food, changing trains and pounding the pavement…whatever it takes.

This time around we were dictated by our meeting locations and work commitments. Therefore, I was not able to get around to all of the tasty Hawker centres in the land of Singapore. Nor did we fit in any of the gardens or zoo visits I had hoped for. There is SO much more to see, so much more to eat. Next time…

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Nevertheless, we did experience much deliciousness during our short visit. This city, which we found to be delightfully approachable, is loaded with yummy bites and beverages. Here is some of the tastiness we experienced. PS. We stayed in Novena and got around primarily by the MRT and cabs.

Chomp Chomp
On my first night our local friends took us to Chomp Chomp Hawker Centre for a veritable local food feast! We had BBQ stingray, clams, oyster omelette, satay skewers, fried carrot cake, chicken wings, popiah and sugarcane juice. This my best meal of the trip, with our friends going to town on the ordering and spoiling us with this outrageously delicious display. Thanks, guys.

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Hydration!
Many fresh vegetable and fruit juices, fresh coconut juice, the occasional frequent iced-coffee, hot ginger water and this barley drink were consumed. Necessary

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Chicken Rice
We met at Maxwell Hawker Centre one night for chicken rice and fish cake. This place is very popular and centrally located for many tourists. Check out this post for what seems to be some good recommendations.

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Shopping
I definitely recommend checking out the cute shops along Haji Lane. I bought a snakes & ladders poster.

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Wearing my Pop Basic tee.

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Singaporean Breakfast
Kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and coffee at Old Town.

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 Wandering in the green.

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Brunch
Five and Dime for an (expensive) Western breakfast of pancakes and good coffee.

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Chin Chin
Chin Chin eatery for chicken rice, pork chop and eggplant with salted fish. Excellent recommendation from the lovely Blithely Unaware & her man, we loved this place!

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Cocktails and Fries
Drinks with a view at KU DE TA.

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Food Courting
Food Republic food court eats.

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Vegan Burgers
We visited Vegan Burg with vegetarian friends for surely tasty bites.

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Walking, walking, walking.

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Dessert
Pudding, ice-cream and wine at Sabio Tapas Bar.

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Home Cooked Heaven
Ben and I were lucky enough to have dinner at a new colleague’s home, with their incredibly lovely family. We enjoyed delicious hot pot and for dessert, a chocolate origin cake we had brought.

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Hawker Centre Eats
Prawn noodle soup and hot ginger water at Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre for our last night in Singapore.

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Singapore, we had a blast. I cannot wait to visit again. Let’s all do aerobics in public spaces together. Totally.

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Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast in Singapore

July 31, 2013

Well, I’ve left Australia again! This week I am in Singapore. 2013 appears to be the year of travel. The past four years seem to be all about travel, really. But this time it’s for work, for my husband’s business. I’ve joined for the last part of his month-long Singapore jaunt, and next week we’re off to Hong Kong to do some more research and visit family.

This is my first visit to Singapore and I must say, I am very impressed. In contrast to the cluttered calamity of Hong Kong, Singapore is quite spacious and calm and easy. It reminds me of being in Thailand at Baan Dada – something about the thick, warm air, the buildings and the greenery. And the familiar smell of the pavement, right after an afternoon downpour. Yes.

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Let’s talk breakfast!

It should be all egg and/or rice and/or kaya toast and Kopi-C (coffee with evaporated milk and sugar), right? Don’t worry, I did that on my first day when I played tourist and was let loose in a shopping mall. Oh boy. But today, it’s granola and yoghurt. I brought Ben a stash of homemade granola – it’s still pleasantly crunchy and fresh, despite being two weeks old. We ate our morning meal at home before scooting off to the office.

♥ Clumpy Cranberry Granola (with almond flakes)
♥ Natural Yoghurt
♥ Almond Milk
♥ Diced Apple

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What did you have for breakfast today? Follow Wednesday Breakfast Club on Instagram and hashtag your eats to play along #wednesdaybreakfastclub.

Heidi xo

Coconut

July 29, 2013

Right now? Singapore, this song and a coconut.

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As you were.

Heidi xo

New Orleans

July 15, 2013

New Orleans…I’ll be honest, we weren’t really prepared for you.

You see, Ben and I did not think we would get that far South during our recent USA trip. But we ended up having some extra time and we jumped at the chance to head to The Big Easy! When we arrived we were a little unsure. We didn’t instantly fall in love, as we did with San Francisco, Austin and New York City.

New Orleans is… unique. It’s ornate and dirty and gorgeous and sticky. Sometimes it’s a little scary. Often it’s covered in powdered sugar or hot sauce. And it sounds like this…

It gets under your skin.

Ben and I were loaded with stellar food recommendations, which were so exciting, but really, we were a bit exhausted at this point of our trip. Ben had to work during the days and funds were ooooh a little tight at that point. So we ended up chilling out at our Air bnb rental and working for a decent portion of our visit, sneaking out for a few fun excursions to see some sights, enjoy tasty eats and soak up that Jazz. Yeah, it was pretty great. And by the time we left New Orleans, we had it. We got it. It’s magic.

Here are a few photographs of this beautiful, beaded city, plus some recommendations for you.

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First up, we dove into yummy shrimp Po Boys from Parkway Bakery and Tavern. These famous Louisiana sandwiches were ‘shove in your face’ good.

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We went to Gumbo Shop. For gumbo. Duh. Oh, and for daquiris at 11am. Double duh.

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Opposite Gumbo Shop on Royal St is a super cute coffee shop.

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Stanley‘s reportedly serve very delicious eggs. Their gumbo was tasty, as were their Creole potatoes, and I enjoyed my salad (I needed greens, you feel me?).

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Beignets. Do it. Get it. Love it. Cafe Du Monde is where it’s at.

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Boucherie is the sweetest little restaurant. They serve modern, gourmet Po Boys for lunch (think slow roasted beef with horseradish cream and pickled onions) and their garlic parmesan fries are super tasty. Oh, and their Pimm’s is outrageously delicious too. Thanks for the recommendation, Joy! Ben and I also visited for dinner one night and enjoyed one of the most lovely scallops and mussels.

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Dooky Chase is an absolute institution and well worth a visit. Rice and beans is their thing. I ate fried green tomatoes here. Anyone…?

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Pies & Quiches is a darling little shop that sells beautiful homemade Ps and Qs. We got a small chocolate cream pie to share. I wish there was more time for more pie…

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D.B.A. is an ace little Jazz bar on Frenchman Street. We saw Linnzi Kaorski do her sweet thing and now I’m a bit obsessed with her music. Please do visit Frenchman Street for Jazz and drinks and general fun. It’s where you need to be (not Bourbon Street!).

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The World War Two Museum in New Orleans is an excellent way to spend a few hours. I learnt so much, I left completely embarrassed about my lack of World War Two knowledge and with so much respect for the men and women who fought in that war.

And I cannot recommend doing a Free Walking Tour of the Garden District/Lafayette Cemetery enough! Our tour guide Sarah was so charismatic and full of information.

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Here is a list of recommendations we didn’t get to try (from friends who truly know good food).

Camellia Grill (the original location!) – for burgers, milkshakes and pecan pie.
Jaques Imo’s – for aligator cheesecake (whaaaaaat?).
Port of Call – for burgers.
Sucre – for ice-cream and macarons.

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New Orleans Notes

Length of Stay: 5 nights. A nice amount of time. You could certainly see a lot of the touristy parts in less time, though. We visited in June and it. was. hot. I’d recommend visiting in a cooler month, for sure. Mardi Gras would be wonderful, and I’ve heard St Patricks Day in New Orleans is a hoot.
Accommodation: we rented a fabulous Air bnb pad (seriously, this place is the bomb!). It was a great location for the French Quarter and Frenchman Street, though personally next time I would stay in The Garden District, to be more central to the eats I was after and to also stay amongst the gorgeous, grand houses.
Where we ate: see above!
Highlightsfalling for Beignets, the walking tour, late night Netflix sessions watching Breakdown and playing Trivial Pursuit, the World War Two Museum, Jazz on Frenchmen Street and just being in the South.

Heidi xo

 

 

 

A Few Days in Brooklyn

July 12, 2013

Ben and I were recently in New York City for 16 days. That’s a lot of days. A few of those days were spent in Brooklyn – just to mix things up and try our hipster hats on…to try and be Brooklyn cool. And I think we managed to fit in quite well for a few hours of those few days in Brooklyn. That’s something to be proud of, surely. Put your glasses on, remember to not shave, button up that shirt and let’s do this…

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We spent Saturday morning at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg and then Fort Greene Flea. Fried anchovies, chicken schnitzels and egg on a pretzel roll and lemongrass lemonade were shared. There was also key lime pie and a s’mores milkshake. Yep.

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This market on the waterfront (with an ace view of Manhattan) is foodie heaven! It was even better than I remember from my last visit. This guy loved it too…

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Black Brick in Williamsburg serve the wonderful Stumptown coffee for all your brew beverage needs. Their cold brew is just the ticket during Summer.

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Ample Hills is the most darling corner ice-cream store. It’s super kid friendly, with books and toys and the cutest booths (so naturally Ben was happy). Their salted caramel ice-cream was supremely good. I mean, for real. Normally I avoid that golden flavour as I find most places just make a sweet blah concoction and then add some salt. But this one was so so good.

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Reading and napping in beautiful Prospect Park.

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Sidewalk gardens with herbs and veggies and more. I mean, how cool is that?

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Do you want a burger? Of course you do, what a silly question. Beers and burgers are mandatory after walking all day. Du Mont Burger is the business.

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Walking the Williamsburg bridge

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We met friends at The Commodore for fried chicken with biscuits and honey butter, kale salad and chicken soup. Random, yes, but really good and very affordable. Plus, it’s the coolest place and their happy hour made me very happy.

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Our meal at The Brooklyn Star was one of our most enjoyed of the trip. Ben drank Kool-Aid from a Mason jar and we devoured seriously good mac and cheese, incredible bacon jalapeno cornbread and the most ridiculously delicious hot meatloaf sandwich on fluffy white pullman bread. We took half of this meal home for the next night’s dinner (it was so much food) and we were so so happy eating cold cornbread the next day. I’ve heard their fried chicken and waffles is bananas, too.

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Oasis is great when you get off the subway from Manhattan and just NEED FOOD. Their falafels will make you very happy. Get them to go and eat them back in your Air bnb room while watching Netflix.

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Mast Brothers make the most phenomenal chocolate. Visit their factory in Williamsburg and revel in the brilliance of this local chocolate company. I adored every keenly sampled bite. Try to not leave with 20 blocks. Just try…

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Lastly, I implore you to visit Four and Twenty Blackbirds for pie. It’s a bit of a hike to get to (though you could plan your visit with a play in Prospect Park and a wander of the lovely suburb, Park Slope). Their pie…I have no words. It’s the most beautiful, lovingly crafted pie I have ever eaten. Both crust and filling reign supreme as the most tender, sweet, satisfying bites. Their Salty Honey pie and Strawberry Balsamic… just outrageously good. Their savoury parcel was lovely too but really, it’s all about the sweet pies. They stole my heart.

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Brooklyn. Do visit when coming to New York City. It’s totally liveable and provides a nice respite from the hectic city. Wander some…grab a coffee and laze in the park. See a movie at our favourite cinema and spot a hipster. Oh, and eat pie.

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Heidi xo

 

Oh, New York City

July 8, 2013

My goodness, New York City. You’re good. So so good. I heart you dearly and long to be back in your sharp, chic, fast embrace. Everything in New York City feels heightened. You experience things here, all of the things. It’s mostly wonderful, often excellent and sometimes magical. Here’s a bit of the magic we shared during our two week stay.

I’ll follow this up with a post on Brooklyn. If visiting NYC and after eating recommendations, please use this post as a guide in conjunction with my posts two years ago (I did a lot of posts back then). Here is the link to my NYC  posts, past and present.

The thing is, when in New York City there are so many good eats to be had. It’s overwhelming. The city is huge! I did not even attempt to eat my way through this city. It wasn’t going to happen. My goal was to make each meal a great one, whether a cheap bagel, and ice-cream date or a special dinner out. And I totally reached that goal. Oh, and just FYI, I’ve found that you can eat well in NYC on the cheap, but when the price goes up a little the quality doesn’t necessarily follow suit (unlike my experience in San Francisco).

Alright, let’s get stuck into this big apple post!

Coffee

Coffee is truly great in New York City, if you know where to go. I became heavily happily caffeinated.

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Abraco was our favourite coffee nook. This complete hole in the wall spot is terribly small and terribly cool. They serve delicious cortado and lovely baked goods such as this olive oil cake to loyal locals.

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Colombe make dreamy coffee in their chic, bright, fabulous shop. The staff here are very cool and very hip, but also very friendly.

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Stumptown coffee is supremely good. It represents what is right in the world. These people know good coffee and make a delicious latte, as well as a divine cold brew. They also stock doughnut plant doughnuts for all your peanut butter and jelly doughnut needs. Uhuh. Their Midtown location allows you to sit in the Ace Hotel and work on your laptop, using their wifi. It’s an excellent set-up. The West Village spot is equally as fabulous and accommodating.

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While in NYC, I also suggest you grab an iced-coffee from Mud truck. Good stuff.

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Smoothies and Juice and Ice-Cream and Snacks

Juice Generation make a super fresh green juice. Though I would tend to visit Liquiteria for my smoothie and juice needs. They also make a delicious acai bowl and yummy porridge.

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You might like to grab a doughnut from doughnut plant to balance out that green juice business. I’m just saying…

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When in Soho, do stop by the Chobani yoghurt bar. The menu is super fun (I sampled the pistachio, dark chocolate, orange, mint and honey creation) and it is served in a lovely glass bowl, which you get to keep!

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Visit Momofuku Milk Bar for their famous sweets (they have several locations. The Momofuku restaurant and noodle bars are also a good idea ). We tried the popular compost cookie (which was great but very sweet) and crack pie (which was not my cup of pie), as well as the famous cereal milk soft serve (with frosted cornflake crumbles). This was one tasty soft serve, what a treat!

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If you’re after ice-cream, scoops from Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, Van Leeuwen and Ample Hills (in Brooklyn) are sure to satisfy. Not to mention froyo from 16 Handles and Big Gay Ice-Cream‘s soft serve. Or, you might like to cool down with some People’s Pops. What an outstanding idea. Local to Brooklyn, these popsicles are ridiculously good and jam-packed with fruit.

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Oh, and you simply must follow Coolhaus on twitter to find their daily truck locations. Their ice-cream sandwiches are the bomb. After extensive research, my most favourite combination is peanut butter ice-cream with chocolate chip cookies. Yahuh.

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Breakfast/Brunch

You’ll find great, chewy bagels, cream cheese and smoked fish at Russ and Daughters.

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Barney Greengrass is a famous Upper West Side spot serving scrumptious smoked fish (white fish love), bagels and more. It gets busy on the weekends but come mid-week and you’re sure to grab a table.

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Hearth serves a lovely brunch. It’s not cheap, but you’re sure to find deliciousness on this menu. My vegetable frittata was glorious and they also serve an ace Bloody Mary.

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We love Cookshop for brunch. This spot makes continuously delicious scrambled eggs with creme fraiche and chives, along with perhaps some smoked trout or bacon and a buttermilk biscuit. I also very much enjoy their wholemeal buttermilk pancakes.

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Clinton St Baking Co is said to have the best pancakes, and while they are certainly delightful and fluffy, the service comes with a little too much attitude (and the line is so long) that I couldn’t insist on you visiting. Cookshop is more my bag, baby. Plus, you might see Rob Lowe there. I mean, is there really a choice? (PS. The photo below shows Ben ordering Lobster bisque alongside his chocolate chip pancakes. Whatever floats your boat…)

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Rosemary’s appears to be a popular spot amongst West Village peeps, and while the food is nice (particularly the focaccia) and the surrounds are lovely (they have a garden on their roof) I wouldn’t necessarily race here. My mind wasn’t blown. Though opposite to the restaurant is Jefferson Market Garden – a lovely spot to sit for an hour and read (it’s the garden where Miranda and Steve got married, for any SATC fans out there).

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Lunch Bites

I adore Taim and their falafel. It’s really delicious stuff. They aim to please all your falafel needs.

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Ippudo is a restaurant that serves super tasty ramen. It is so popular that people wait out front for two hours. It’s good, but it’s also pricey and I personally wouldn’t wait two hours for it. Go at an off time like we did – we were seated straight away at 2:45pm on a Friday.

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Ahhh Shake Shack. This is a New York City institution. You absolutely have to go here for crazy yummy burgers, tasty fries and rad milkshakes (chocolate malt for me, thank you!). I’ve heard their custards, with all their sweet fix-ins, are a must-try, too.

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Dinner

Tasty balls of meat can be found at The Meatball Shop. This joint has a few locations and is a bit of fun.

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When in the USA, you’ve got to try fried chicken and waffles. You have to. It’s the law. I’ve heard good things about Red Rooster, though it is pricey. The Brooklyn Star is said to be ace too. But our cousin took us to the less fancy, less expensive Amy Ruth’s and I struggle to imagine a better plate of fried chicken and waffles out there. It was crazy good, y’all. So wrong but so right.

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For cheap, super delicious, spicy Chinese food visit the hole in the wall Xi’an Famous Foods. Try the cumin lamb burgers and hand-ripped noodles. I recommend eating the burger on the way home, where you’ll eat your take-out noodles while watching Netflix.

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Want some more take-out? How about Southern BBQ in the East Village? Done. The long queue for Mighty Quinn’s  brisket, ribs, pulled pork and beans is completely worth it. We got ours to go and ate it while watching Netflix and drinking Root Beer. It was amazing.

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Lil’ Frankies in the East Village serves up wonderful pizza and is a really nice place for a date. Oh, and their roasted chicken with capers…it’s good.

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And for a true New York slice of pizza, we stopped by Hakki Champion Pizza on Essex St in the Lower East Side. I mean, really, $1 for a slice…

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We had an excellent meal at The Breslin, an April Bloomfield gem. The seafood sausage and saltimbocca were outrageously delicious, and there was balsamic and campari in my gin cocktail. Yeah.

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Eataly is a must in NYC. This Italian food mecca is full of produce and food corners and general goodness. My favourite thing to do is grab a bar stool at the fish restaurant, order a glass of wine and watch the chefs do their thing.

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Activities

I encourage you to stroll the Union Square Greenmarket and lament the fact that you don’t have access to such a fabulous farmers’ market in your city (if you do, I envy you!). The incredible produce is so colourful, so fresh so plentiful and so cheap, AHH! I miss this.

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Wander Central Park. Every day, if you can. It’s vast and very very green and glorious and quiet and just the best sanctuary.

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You must also ride bikes in Central Park (hire them from behind the Boathouse). Multiple times. Nothing clears my head and makes me feel good like a bike ride.

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It’s also fun to row a boat in Central Park (again, hire from the Boathouse).

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Have fun exploring the stunning Grand Central Terminal (and maybe visit the foodcourt for some cheesecake).

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While in the area, head to the New York Public Library and marvel at the books and beauty of this gorgeous building. Then visit Bryant Park at the back of the library (in the Summer they play free movies here!)

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If you’re lucky, you can ride bikes along the Hudson River with a dear friend named Hannah (we rented from here, in the West Village).

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Take this advice. For real…

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Last time I didn’t get around to it, but this time I most certainly had fun walking the Brooklyn Bridge and getting rained on.

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Visit a rooftop bar for a drink. This is especially lovely in Summer. We had the privilege of visiting the rooftop of our cousin, who lives in NYC. I wouldn’t mind having this view at my fingertips…

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On the museum front, MoMa is a surefire hit.

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Oh, and definitely walk the High Line – it’s super neat!

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Jazz in NYC is a must. While you’re sure to find good jazz in lots of places, Ben and I, upon much encouragement from locals, visited Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village. And it was fantastic. An evening spent sipping red wine and listening to Ehud Asherie (who reminded me so much of my brother, the way he moved on the piano…) and the legendary Johnny O’Neal was truly special.

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I also recommend attending a poetry slam. Our friends took us to one two years ago and I was blown away. Fridays at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe are famously energetic and enthralling. Get there soon after 9pm to ensure a seat when they open at 10pm. You might grab a drink at Elsa, across the road, beforehand.

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A Broadway show is on your to-do list, yes? Us too. We saw Annie and had a blast. I wore my red cape, which I adore, and was told how “faaaaabulous” it was by a fellow broadway goer. Nice.

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Here’s a tip, catch the Staten Island Ferry for a free view of this lovely lady…

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I also think it’s nice to visit the Empire State Building (or the top of the Rockefeller Centre – I’ve done both and enjoyed them equally). I highly recommend splurging and purchasing “express” tickets – it is twice the price at $47 but oh so worth it as you literally skip every line. What would have been a two hour wait was done in 10-15 minutes. Sunset is a lovely time to visit. The views…

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And if in doubt, just throw on your walking shoes and wander, all day… Here’s our last day in New York City, in photographs.

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b&h chelsea market

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You’re going to have the best time in New York City…

Heidi xo