Weekend in Maine

maine1I’ve been to many places in the world and it’s rare that I would go to a place more than once.  Maine is one of those places where I want to go every year.  It’s one of my favorite getaways during the Summer.  It’s hard to describe what makes it so magical, you kind of have to experience it for yourself.  It could be the beautiful coastline, the amazing seafood, or the easy pace of life.  Whenever I’m in Maine, I have my list of things I need to do when I’m there.  These are just a few of the things I did last weekend in Maine.

maine2Ate the most delicious Pemaquid oysters at The Contented Sole

maine3Saw the Maine coast on a canoe

maine4Went to Cabbage Island for dinner

maine5Ate a feast at the clambake on Cabbage Island

maine6Watched the magnificent sunset

maine7Then saw the Super Moon

maine8Ate the most delicious and plump pancakes at the Damariscotta General Store

maine9Acted like a kid in the candy store at the Damariscotta General Store

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5 Things Laura Loves

5things1{Berry Star Pie}

People are surprised to know that the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.  Well, a very close tie with Thanksgiving.  I love that the Fourth is about celebrating with friends and family over fireworks, usually with some type of BBQing, and spending the day outside.  I get really into it!  The Fourth is also mid Summer so if I haven’t done my favorite Summer activities by then, it’s crunch time.  I’m excited to spend the Fourth by the beach with special friends.  Happy Fourth of July everyone!  These were the things I’ve been lovin’ this week.

5things2 {Patriotic Manicure}

5things3 {Workout at City Row}

5things4 {The Clam Bar in Amagansett}

5things5 {Clam Bakes}

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Bannerman Castle

Bannermancastle1I’m always up for an adventure especially when it involves being outside and on the water.  Throw in a little bit of culture and I’m your gal.  Years ago, I heard about this mysterious island on the Hudson River called Pollepel and on this island, there’s a castle called Bannerman Castle.  The only way to access the island is via ferry boat or kayak.  Growing up in the Hudson Valley, I have a deep appreciation for the area and its history so when I found out that Bannerman Castle was literally falling apart, I had to make it a priority to visit this Summer.

Why take a boat when you can kayak to the castle right?  I’m not one to take the easy road and I thought, what better way to enjoy a sunny day than kayaking on the Hudson River?  I asked my sister to join me (more like forced) on a 6 mile kayaking trip from Cold Spring to Pollepel Island, hike around the island, tour the castle and back.  Mind you, neither one of us has kayaked that far before.  Sure, we’ve both dabbled in some kayaking during our life time but 6 miles?  It seemed really far.  I wasn’t allowed to take my fancy camera because our guide told us we would get really wet.  He wasn’t exaggerating because even though we were on a river, there were waves, currents, and strong winds.  Even though kayaking for 6 miles and 2 ½ hours was challenging at times, it was the most fun I’ve had and the most gratifying feeling knowing that I did it.

When we were approaching the island, the abandoned ruins looked so eerie like out of a Tomb Raider movie.  After we docked, we had a “snack” that was the most gourmet snack I’ve ever had.  The guides had a bag from the Cold Spring General Store filled with organic cheeses, prosciutto, hummus, fruits, veggies, and organic granola bars.  Then, we went on our tour of the island with a member from the Bannerman Castle trust.

The island has a long history dating back to the early 1900’s when Francis Bannerman bought the island to store his navy equipment and ammunition and was also the family’s Summer residence.  The castle has Scottish influences from Francis’ Scottish heritage.  Today, the castle and surplus warehouse are collapsing due to the haphazard architectural design, theft, vandalism, neglect, and decay.  Even though the castle and warehouse are in shambles, it is still quite a sight to see from a kayak on the river.  I was in awe that so much had gone down here and I grew up only 30 miles away.

The whole trip was 4 hours through Hudson River Expeditions for $130.  I admit, the price was a bit steep but the tour was very informative, it was a great way to spend a day being active, and part of the tour fee is donated to the Bannerman Castle trust.  Our kayaks launched from Cold Spring which is a stunning waterfront town with a gorgeous view of all the surrounding mountains.  It’s a great excuse to discover the Hudson Valley and get out of the City for the day.

Bannermancastle2

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Mixed Greens With Edible Flowers

saladedibleflowers1I was at the Union Square Greenmarket last week looking for strawberries and rhubarb (see what I made with them here), when I stumbled upon Windfall Farms from Montgomery, NY.  They had the most beautiful mixed greens and edible flowers I have ever seen.  The lovely lady asked if I wanted to do an edible flower tasting which I of course said yes.  I had no idea edible flowers have different flavors; there are sweet ones, spicy ones, bitter ones, my mind was officially blown.  The flowers were not only beautiful but edible!  The lovely lady mentioned that a lot of the famous chefs in nyc buy their edible flowers for their restaurants.  I bought the sweet flowers for the salad that I was going to make for dinner.  All I did was mix the greens with the edible flowers and some fresh strawberries and I made a simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and maldon salt.  I encourage you to try edible flowers because they are delicious and they make every plate look gorgeous!

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Strawberry and Rhubarb Hand Pies

strawberryhandpies1Last weekend, I had the most amazing dinner at Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton.  The food was actually better than the hype!  I loved the locally sourced and organic menu, the bustling scene, and the celebrity spotting at nearby tables.  My favorite part of the meal was the dessert and the highlight was their strawberry and rhubarb hand pies.  I loved it so much I decided to make my own at home.  It just so happens that strawberries are in season so I was able to buy freshly picked ones at the Union Square Greenmarket.  You won’t believe how different these strawberries taste from the ones you buy at the supermarket.  They are smaller but packed with so much more sweetness.  Strawberries and rhubarb make the perfect pairing because rhubarb is tart so you have the perfect sweet/tart combo.  I love making hand pies because it’s an easy recipe to make and it takes very little time compared to other desserts.  Also, I try to tell myself that eating fruit is good for me, right?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rhubarb, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 package of store bought pie dough
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Let it cool.
  2. Roll out the cold dough onto a floured surface. Using a 4 inch circular cookie cutter, cut out the pie dough.  Place the cut-out pie doughs on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place a dollop of the strawberry mixture in the center of one cut-out pie dough. Brush the egg wash onto the edges of the pie dough. Place another piece of pie dough on top. Crimp the edges with a fork. Using a pairing knife, make a cross on the top to create a vent. Brush the egg wash on top of the pie and sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top.
  4. Continue with the rest of the hand pies and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  5. I like to serve the hand pies a la mode with vanilla ice cream.

strawberryhandpies2{Fresh strawberries from Union Square Greenmarket}

strawberryhandpies3{Fresh rhubarb}

strawberryhandpies4 {The most delicious strawberry and rhubarb hand pies}

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5 Things Laura Loves

5things1{Fresh strawberries from the Union Square Greenmarket}

Summer is here and it’s so exciting!  I love getting out of the city and going on weekend adventures.  One of my favorite destinations of course is the beach.  Whether it’s the Hamptons, Jersey Shore, or Maine, I love swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach, getting sandy, and that post-beach glow.  I love that I can LIVE outside in the Summer.  Any chance I get to go for a run, sit outside to read or eat al fresco, you’ll find me somewhere outside.  Where are you planning to go this Summer and what is your Summer bucket list?  In the meantime, these were the things I was lovin’ this week.  Happy Friday!

5things2{Rosé is the sign of Summer}

5things3{My first pair of TOMS}

5things4 {I love fish taco nights}

5things5 {Afternoons at Wolffer Estate Vineyard}

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Class Pass

classpassAbout a month ago, after an intense class at Barry’s Bootcamp, I overheard the other ladies in the locker room talking about Class Pass.  They were discussing all the different classes they’ve tried and which ones were their favorites.  I was intrigued and asked them what Class Pass was and how it worked.  For $99 a month, you get a “pass” to work out at various studios around nyc.  Can I just point out that’s a bargain in nyc.  Most of the studios that are featured are ones that I already have been to like Exhale and Bikram Yoga. Fortunately for me, I signed up Memorial Day weekend and got their Summer special where you get unlimited classes for the month (please visit their website for more details).

I’ve been using Class Pass for a month now and I’ve been able to try all sorts of workouts at various studios.  It’s been such a fun experience and I’ve even found new workouts that I never would’ve found without Class Pass.  I’ve tried TRX at Flex Studios, rowing at City Row, and dance at DMF just to name a few.  I never would’ve thought I would love dancing the butterfly with a room full of strangers but apparently I do!  They are constantly updating their site with new studios which is awesome because you will never get bored.  There are so many classes that I still want to try like Aqua Cycle, yes that’s spinning in a pool!

The one negative thing people have told me about Class Pass is that it’s hard to sign up for the classes that you want.  My solution is to be vigilant and set up alarms, I’ve been able to get into every class I’ve wanted to take.  Their customer service has been really great whenever there’s been a problem, they’ve always been responsive.  I’m not saying it’s a perfect system but overall, I love that I can try new workouts because it keeps my body guessing.  Joining Class Pass has also helped me overcome my fears like dancing in front of strangers and sober no less.  Now, I just need to build the courage to try a Bollywood dancing class.

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Sushi Nakazawa

sushinakazawa1Have you ever seen the documentary film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi?  I saw it last year and I fell in LOVE.  Even if you’re not a sushi fanatic like me, you have to see this beautiful film about Jiro Ono who owns a 3 michelin-star sushi restaurant that’s located in a Toyko subway station.  The film is about his quest to perfect the art of sushi.  The cinematography is breathtaking.

One of his apprentices in the movie, Daisuke Nakazawa, is shown making the same egg sushi over and over again, about 200 times in fact until it is to Jiro’s liking.  One pivotal scene was when Nakazawa is describing the pure elation when Jiro finally said his egg sushi was perfect and the moment brought him to tears.  It was inspiring to watch someone striving for perfection even through countless attempts and failures.  When I heard this same man was opening his own sushi restaurant in the city, I knew I had to go and I had to try this egg sushi.

My girlfriend and I had 5pm reservations at the sushi bar which is where you want to be to witness the sushi-making magic of Nakazawa.  When I walked into the restaurant, it was so stark in its black and white decor with bold clean lines everywhere.  I felt like I had to sit a little straighter and be on my best behavior.  My first impression of the place was nothing like the laid back atmosphere that we experienced during the dinner.  When Nakazawa arrived at the sushi bar, He greeted each of the diners and asked if we were excited and ready which we all replied with a resounding yes!

Two hours and 21 pieces of exquisite sushi that was nothing like any other sushi I have ever tasted.  Forget about dunking your sushi in soy sauce because there was none, the sushi rice was room temperature and each piece of sushi was served at different temperatures.  The meal pretty much debunked what I knew about sushi until then.  Nakazawa also turned out to be a goof ball.  He showed us photos of the fish he was serving on his ipad mini and played with the prawns he was about to behead with his hands.  When it came time to prepare the sushi he was focused and worked seamlessly with his sous chefs without exchanging many words.

When it was finally time to have the 21st piece, the egg omlette, it felt like the end to a long journey that started last year when I saw the film.  It was everything I thought it would be, fluffy and subtly sweet.  The best part of the whole Sushi Nakazawa experience was watching a man who spent years perfecting an art to finally achieving his ultimate dream, his own sushi restaurant.

sushinakazawa2{Let the sushi eating commence!}

sushinakazawa3{Ivory King Salmon}

sushinakazawa4{The sushi master and his sous chefs}

sushinakazawa5{This one was a little heated}

sushinakazawa6{The kumquat zest was the magic touch}

sushinakazawa7{Mackerel 2 ways}
sushinakazawa8 {Playing with his food}

sushinakazawa9{Spotted Prawn}

sushinakazawa10{Amber Shrimp}

sushinakazawa11{Bonito}

sushinakazawa12{Tuna 3 ways from lean to fatty}

sushinakazawa13{Soy Marinated Steelhead Trout Roe}

sushinakazawa14{Egg Omelette}

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5 Things Laura Loves

5things1{Dipping my toes in the lake}

Last Tuesday, I went to an inspiring dinner with experienced and budding entrepreneurs and the one topic that was repeatedly mentioned was finding our passions in life.  I’ve written about this topic several times (like here) on my blog.  It can be hard to remember what our passions are or even know what they are when we have jobs, bills, committments, families, friends and other life priorities.  Since that dinner, I’ve been reflecting on my life the last couple of years and if my decisions have been in line with my passions.  I would say it was 50/50.  We often times have to do things because we have to.  That’s life after all, there are obligations and expectations that we cannot run from.  This week, I made a list of all of my passions some of which are food, travel and photography.  As long as I do one thing a day towards one of them however small, I know I’m on the right track.  What are your passions in life?  I find it helps to sit alone somewhere you love, outside in nature and think about it for a while.  You will be surprised by how your mind will open up.  Try it this weekend!  These were the things I’ve been lovin’ this week.

5things2 {Talking about our passions in life}

5things3{The garden at Wave Hill in the Bronx}

5things4 {These cute mini donuts | Photo Source: My Name Is Yeh}

5things5{Floral crowns-read here for my DIY}

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