Vanessa’s Dumpling House- Chinatown (NYC)

Finding the best dumpling in a big city like New York is not an easy task. So I took to the internet to see which spots made the cut. Not surprisingly, the majority were located in and around Chinatown. Being deprived of all things Asian in the South I was determined to eat as many dumplings and Chinese food as time and appetite would allow for. And so I set out walking from the NoMad Hotel all the way down to Chinatown in order to get my dumpling fix. It was a long walk but the reward was worth it. Tucked all the way in the depths of Chinatown I found Vanessa’s Dumpling House, a non-conspicuous fast-food joint with a house full of fans. I ordered more food on the menu than I could physically consume but with the cheap eats and aromas in the air I could not resist. Within minutes my order was prepared and I was in a state of dumpling ecstasy. One of the best authentic dumplings I have yet to taste. Vanessa’s Dumpling House definitely made it to my NY places to eat go-to list.




Vanessa's Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The NoMad Hotel (New York City)

Of all the hotels in New York City of which there are many, I have always wanted to stay at the NoMad Hotel- a turn of the century Beaux-Arts building that has been masterfully restored to its original grandeur with interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia. The hotel is located in what I came to discover is the NoMad district (North of Madison Square Park) at 28th and Broadway. Amidst mosques, halal food shops, hair and garment stores lies this jewel of the hotel. Just a few blocks away is Madison Square Park and my favorite foodie destination, Eataly. Another great hotel just one block north of the NoMad is the hipster-cool Ace Hotel which I frequented every morning for coffee from Stuptown Coffee located inside the hotel. 




The NoMad’s public spaces including a center atrium, library, cocktail bar and dining room include food & beverage by award-winning chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara of New York’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. Sydell Group own and operate the hotel, and also developed the nearby Ace New York & Palm Springs. Other collaborations include the hotel’s retail space by Paris-based Maison Kitsune (my favorite), which is its first ever dedicated shop in the US. The Library bar exclusive to guests of the hotel is a beautiful bar located in the center of the hotel. Books line the walls and a spiral staircase allows you to access the second floor books. Rumor has it that some of the books contain surprises. If you manage to find one you may keep it! 


The entrance is dark and grandiose with bellboys ready to assist. The walls are covered in velvet and dark furniture surround the entrance and front desk. The staff were friendly and accommodating and check-in was a breeze. I was upgraded to a higher floor room featuring a clawfoot tub and views onto the adjacent street (as opposed to the inner atrium). It was surprisingly quiet given the traffic and noise outside. The decor is an ode to old Paris and just lovely. The bed was large and extremely comfortable and lent to a good nights rest. Overall, it was definitely the best hotel I have stayed at during my frequent trips to New York. However, the comfort and charm do not come cheap. At almost $500 per night I certainly would have hoped to have more amenities (including access to the rooftop which is now closed off to guests). 





One great feature of the hotel is their free bike service which you can take out for the entire day. Make sure to inquire when you check-in! 

More information visit their website:


– Interiors designed by Jacques Garcia
– 168 guest rooms and suites
– Multiple distinct dining spaces with menus by Chef Daniel Humm
– King-sized beds
– European-style bathrooms walk-in shower and water closet in most rooms
– Many rooms with freestanding clawfoot bathtubs
– Exclusive Argan bath amenities by Côté Bastide
– Custom linens, bedding and bathrobes by Sferra and Frette
– Down comforters and pillows (hypoallergenic upon request)
– Custom plush top mattresses and embossed leather headboards
– Mahogany writing desks and television stands
– Bedside tables and velvet and damask patterned paravents
– Reclaimed maple hardwood floors
– Handmade vintage Heriz rugs unique to each room
– Curated art program including Portraits de Villes photographs
– Fully stocked Minibar
– Large flat screen LCD HD television with on-demand movies
– iHome docking station, charger, radio and alarm clock
– Direct dial telephones with speaker and personalized voicemail capability
– In room safe, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, luggage rack
– Steps from Madison Square Park

– 24-Hour Room Service
– Complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the hotel
– Nightly turndown service
– Daily newspaper delivery
– 24-Hour state-of-the-art Fitness Room
– Laptops and iPads available upon request
– Concierge services provided at the Front Desk
– Multi-lingual Staff
– Bell staff Services
– Valet Parking
– Laundry Service
– LEED certified/Conservation Program

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I Heart New York

It is no secret that I love New York hard. Each trip back to the city reinforces the feelings and brings back nostalgia and distant memories of idealistic dreams of moving to the big apple. You see I fell in love with the city when I was a teenager and as every teenager does, I fell in deeply in love. I love everything about the City. The orderly chaos of the crowds, the traffic, and constant noise that beat through it’s veins. Fast forward 18 years and I found myself back in the city for a week of discovering new hotels, good food and old friends. I arrived on a Wednesday in the afternoon and checked into my beautiful hotel, The Nomad Hotel, located in the Flatiron district. Famished as I always tend to be, I made my way down to Eataly– just a few blocks away from the hotel (see my post on the whole Eataly experience). After sitting down to a nice lunch and a glass of rose, I started to wonder the streets looking through rose colored glasses. There is nothing I love more than walking around New York, getting lost in its streets, discovering new treasures. I walked down, all the way down to Wall Street. Later on I found myself having sake and sushi in Tribeca with old friends, treasuring the mid-summer heat and reminiscing about life and adventures in New York.


The next day I decided to do what I have have always wanted to do: walk each and every street of the West Village and memorize the architecture, the restaurants and beauty of the brownstone homes. Sometimes I think if I dream hard enough and wish hard enough that maybe it will come true. Maybe, my family and I will be transplanted from our current home in Louisiana to New York where I would no doubt live happily ever after. In New York I feel at home a feeling I have yet to feel  living in the south. Seeing mothers and their children stroll through the streets of West Village and in parks surrounded with other kids, I thought about what a difference it would make to have Baby Nomad grow up in the City where surely he would be exposed to so much more, so many different cultures, languages, faces and experiences. For now, I will continue wishing and hoping and dreaming…


I visited the High Line, a first for me and fell in love with the concept. So much beauty made of what was surely not the prettiest site to look at. Instead, it has been transformed into a peaceful, serene, green paradise above ground. I started from the top at 32nd street and 1st Avenue and made my way down to the finish line at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Next, I visited one of my favorite foodie destinations which seems to get better with time, the Chelsea Market. With so many places to choose from I opted for a classic Lobster Roll at the Seafood Guys.


I walked through every different neighborhood below 14th street and made sure to visually memorize everything that I could. From the West Village to Soho and Nolita I took each and every inch in. In my short few days I managed to pack in a lot of food and many miles on my fitbit. With new restaurant discoveries and old favorites there was definitely no shortage when it came to dining options. In the next few weeks I will share all my discoveries with my readers. I hope you enjoy.

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Café Habana- Nolita (NYC)

On a Saturday morning in New York I found myself wondering the shop filled streets of the Soho district only to cross over in to Nolita. Walking through an outdoor arts market I saw ahead of me a crowd gathering on the corner. As I walked closer I realized it was the famous Cafe Habana restaurant which I had heard so much about. Of course I had to try it. So I put down my name, called a friend and 30 minutes later was joined by 3 friends. The hostess was not in the least way inviting or nice. But I guess that is to be expected when a restaurant is doing so well they don’t really need to charm you with their service. We were told that they would not be able to accommodate a table of 4 and that we should try their take out service next door.


We headed next door to a more casual, less hectic room where we could order from the same menu but over the counter. There was a few tables inside and some seating outside.



We ordered the famous Mexican grilled corn and the Cuban sandwich. A few minutes later our order was up. The corn was sprinkled with piles and piles of what looked like grated Parmesan, chili powder and lime juice. The result was fantastic. So good I could have had two (or maybe more).



The Cuban sandwich is rated as the best in New York. I can’t really attest to that and I think it would be hard to rate something as the best unless you have literally tasted all sandwiches and all restaurants in New York. But, I can say this, it was the BEST I have yet had. The pork meat was full of flavour and juicy. The juice had seeped into the bread mixed with the cheese and pickles. It was amazing (see menu).


After eating here, I understand the hype around it. I would wait in line all over again for a bite of that corn and cuban sandwich.


Café Habana (Take-Out Store) on Urbanspoon
Café Habana on Urbanspoon
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Laduree Tea Salon- Soho (NYC)

Soft pastels, velvet seating, rows and rows of colorful macarons, yes I finally made it to Laduree’s Soho location in New York City. And just like the one on Champs Élysées, it is perfect.

The 18th and 19th century decorated 3 part salon is over-the-top glamorous and the courtyard seating is like a small green haven in the middle of bustling Soho. The storefront itself is a Parisian-style pastry shop, in which one counter is devoted exclusively to macarons, stacked in neat piles in a range of colors.  

Besides the rainbow selection of macarons and mouth watering dessert selection there is a full lunch and dinner menu (which is on the pricier end)!  After waiting for what seemed like an hour on a Saturday afternoon we were finally seated in the courtyard which was in the process of setting up for a private ‘mad hatter luncheon’.  The lunch menu was several pages long and ranged in price. We opted for the chicken salad which was beautifully presented in a pink and gold trimmed plate. A generous portion of spinach topped with pieces of chicken wrapped around in cucumber and topped with balsamic vinegar and mustard. It was worth every penny. For dessert, we had none other than a plate filed with macarons and a frothy latte. Overall, Laduree Soho is a great place to escape the noise and craziness of a city where you can pretend you have stepped into the past a la Midnight in Paris!

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DSC_0240Ladurée on Urbanspoon

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Brunch at Estela- Nolita (NYC)

I don’t know how I learned about this restaurant but somehow I did and it made my list of new place to try in New York. Estela is located on an lonely strip of East Houston bordering Nolita. It is a beverage-driven restaurant from former Blue Hill at Stone Barns beverage director Thomas Carter and James Beard Award-nominated chef Ignacio Mattos.  The walk- up bar-restaurant’s decor seems typical of what I’ve seen multiply not only around New York but around the country: exposed brick, wood floors and marble bar and wood tables. It’s sleek and sophisticated.

DSC_0266 The brunch menu was limited with only a handful of plates to choose from. I would encourage sharing plates as you won’t fill up on one. It is definitely not meant for those of us with healthy appetites.



First up was the Endive with walnuts, anchovy, and ubriaco rosso ($14). A small plate of fresh and crispy endives laying on top of a bed of walnuts, anchovies and ubriaco rosso cheese (italian for drunken sunset). The mix of flavors and textures was perfect and left me wanting more.

DSC_0271 Next came the Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread ($15), a serving of rich and creamy bur rata cheese on top of charred bed in a bed of tangy salsa verde. Verdict: amazing, unique and delicious.

DSC_0272 The Cod with peas, spigarello, and aïoli ($24) was a healthy, flavorful and unique.

DSC_0274However, my favorite was the Celery with grapefruit, pecorino, and hazelnuts ($12) dish. It was such a different mix of ingredients and flavors yet so simple.  The flavors and textures complimented each other in the best way possible. So good indeed that later on in the week I attempted to re-create the dish at home (didn’t turn out quite the same).


The avocado, pancetta, and egg on Danish pastry ($14) was good but didn’t warrant the $14 price tag.

DSC_0277Overall, our experience at Estela was pretty fabulous. I would definitely return to try their small plate style dinner and drinks. For brunch however, I prefer something a bit more filling and hearty.

Estela on Urbanspoon


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Brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda-Soho (NYC)

The name is catchy, the place is always packed and everyone raves about it. Of course I had to check it out.  Jack’s Wife Freda is a new-ish addition to the Soho neighborhood where husband and wife bring together their experience and backgrounds to create a new and unique menu and flavors. Dean is from South Africa and Maya is from Israel which makes complete sense with one glance at the menu.

DSC_0216Arriving early on a Saturday there were only a few tables left and we were seated outside. The menu/placemat was simple with limited options. Two dishes were ordered: the Mediterranean breakfast and the Rosewater waffles.


The poached eggs came with a side of sliced avocados, labne, pita and salad which resembled and tasted identical to the traditional persian salad (salad shirazi) consisting of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. It was healthy, fresh and satisfying. DSC_0222

I had really high expectations for the rosewater waffles being from a country where rosewater originated and is used liberally on many sweet dishes. This waffle barely tasted like rosewater and was really not that special. There was nothing that made it stand out from any other restaurant waffle except the use of yogurt as opposed to whipping cream. DSC_0220

Based on the two dishes we tried, we both agreed that there was too much hype around this place. Yes the name is catchy, the location is cool and the clientele is young and stylish, but there was nothing about the food itself that stood out. So if its ambiance you are after then sure this is the place for it, but if you just want really good food there are plenty of options in the neighborhood with less of a line up.
DSC_0219 DSC_0218  Jack's Wife Freda on Urbanspoon

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Back in NYC eating Szechuan at Han Dynasty, East Village (NYC)

There is nothing I love more than a trip to New York.  The energy of the city, constant noise, traffic and crowds absolutely thrills me. The eating options aren’t so bad either. I have never been to anywhere in the world with as many different dining options as New York. As my readers know  in the last year we made the very difficult move to Lafayette, Louisiana deep in cajun country where dining options are very (very) limited. So I spent a better part of two weeks researching and making a list of places I was to eat at while in New York.


Arriving on a friday, I first made a stop at popular midtown bagel joint where I chowed down a large New York Bagel with jalapeños spiked cream cheese. Verdict: Delicious! That night my friends and I headed down to the East Village to try Han Dynasty, Philly’s own restauranteur’s opening in New York. The small shop was packed solid and chaotic but the smell of the chili oil and fried pork was too good to pass up. And so we waited across the street until our table became available at 10 pm. Being a pro at Han dining (we were regulars in Philly) I took a glance at the menu, saw that it was the same, and ordered all the dishes I had been craving since our move from Philly: Dan Dan Noodles, wontons in chili oil, chicken in garlic sauce, prawn hot pot and much more.

image_3 Everything tasted exactly the same as the dishes in Philly and were served in the same quick manner and efficiency. The only difference I found was that the spiciness level was definitely not the same as Philly. Here even an 8 on the spicy scale seemed to go down without a fight.  While I loved the simple dishes and low prices, I did not like the layout of the restaurant and tables which seemed to be sliding around due to the oil seeping out from the kitchen floors. Meanwhile, the bartender was yelling at the hostess telling her that she needed to ‘take control of the situation’ in front of a crowd of hungry on-lookers. All in all the service was again en par with that of Han’s Philly locations: good food, mediocre service!image_5

Han Dynasty on Urbanspoon

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Dinner at Daniel Boulud’s ‘Boulud Sud’- UWS (New York City, USA)

On a cold, rainy sunday evening this spring, the Count and I headed to Boulud Sud to celebrate our one year anniversary. It was to be the first Daniel Boulud dining experience for me and I was giddy at the thought.

We were warmly greeted by the hostess and promptly taken to our seat walking through the crowds of diners filling every seat in the large dining area. It was also our fist time dining on the Upper West Side which had a notably different and older crowd than the one we are use to seeing downtown. The beige paneled walls were covered with photographs inspired by impressionist painters, tables placed close to one another and covered in white linens giving an overall Mediterranean vibe.

The menu was broken down into three sections and subsections ranging in Mediterranean flavors from Sardinia, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco to Lebanon: ‘From the Garden’, ‘From the Sea’, and ‘From the Farm’. [See Menu].

The menu favored sharing many of the small plate dishes while ordering one larger entree to share.  The first item that was brought out to us was a complimentary stack of crispy roman style artichoke hearts with a side of creamy aioli dipping sauce. The dish can be found under the subsection portion which includes a variety of Mediterranean mezzes (like the hummus and cauliflower tabbouleh). And while our taste buds were adjusting to the range of textures and flavors we were served one after another amazing plates. Some of the most notables of the night included the steak tartar which was possibly the most exquisite and distinctly Middle Eastern tasting piece of raw meat I’ve yet to taste.

The House-made Greek version of Taramasalata consisted of a smoked cod roe dip served with the most delicious dill covered potato chips. It was a delightful little treat and a great presentation of the traditional Taramasalata. For those who have a soft spot for sea urchins, the Sea Urchin and Crab Tartine should not be missed. Tender pieces of crab topped with sea urchin were served on tiny pieces of rye bread. Next on our list of orders for the night was the Octopus A la Plancha, grilled pieces of octopus served in a bed of almonds and arugula; the Lemon Saffron Linguini and Gambas al Ajillo.

From the farm side of the menu we ordered the Arabic Lamb Flatbread and were also served with the Harissa Spiced Beef Tartare. Both were quite exquisite. I guess I’m a big fan of the ‘harissa spice’ as this dish really did it for me.

The best part of the meal had to be the Grapefruit Givre served to us as a complimentary anniversary treat. The icy treat was made with grapefruit sorbet, and a topping of spun sesame halvah. It was so beautiful presented. The flavors were so intricate and so complex. I am certain I will never taste anything quite like it anywhere else.

Overall, I could not think of a better place than Boulud Sud to have spent our anniversary. The over the top service and friendly staff, and the amazing culinary experience made for the most perfect evening. After having the Boulud experience I’m afraid I will never be able to dine at another restaurant ever again… for my expectations have now raised dramatically.


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Boulud Sud on Urbanspoon

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L’Artusi- West Village (New York City, USA)

For my birthday this year, the Count and I went to L’Artusi- an Italian restaurant located in the West Village. We walked in to a dimly lit restaurant with neo-regency decor consisting of dark blue walls and white trims. A long 30 seat bar lined the wall with polished white marble and handsome friendly bartenders decorating the other end. The restaurant is two floors with a small and intimate dining area on both floors. We were taken to our seats at the bar- typically our favorite spot in a restaurant to dine.


The wine list at L’Artusi is extensive mostly made up of Italian wines ranging from region and price (see wine list). We ordered a bottle of the 2008 Antonelli Sagrantino “Contrario” ($70)- a wine from Italy’s Umbria region. The region is known for its Sagrantino (a tannic grape that creates long-lived wines). Antonelli wines, especially the one we tried at dinner, are lush, deep and full bodied.



As with most of my dining experiences, I had already researched the menu and knew exactly what I wanted to order. We started out with a few  starters to share including the cheese plate and the roasted mushrooms (see menu).


The roasted mushroom dish was out of this world.  A mix of mushrooms, pancetta, ricotta salata topped with a runny egg yolk. I loved the mix of flavors- you could say it tasted like a mushroom omelet served Italian style. The runny egg mixed with the cheese and mushrooms led to a creamy and delectable dish. 


Of course the pasta came next. Gabe Thompson- executive chef/part owner of L’Artusi is famous for his hand made pasta. We ordered the potato gnocchi and the bucatini pasta. We decided to stick with the pasta and skip the meats as most have recommended the restaurant based on their pasta and wines (although I really did want to try the quail). 


The potato gnocchi was very good topped with a lot of Parmesan cheese. The handmade gnocchi was one of the best I’ve had. It was the sauce that I was not a big fan of. The ragu sauce had a sweet aftertaste to it. I’m not sure what the sweet ingredient was but I definitely preferred the Count’s Bucatini sauce. Usually, he would have switched his dish with mine but this time he was too into his meal to even care about my discontent. Oh well. I carried on eating. 


The Bucatini pasta definitely won the best dish of the night for us. It was the first time I had Bucatini- a hollow pasta similar to spaghetti. The sauce consisted of a mixture of tomatoes, pancetta and spices- and tasted exactly what a pasta sauce in my mind should taste like. 



Dessert consisted of a pumpkin flavored tiramisu- a chocolate chip pumpkin bread infused with espresso-rum syrup topped with ricotta and brown sugar. 



The service was impeccable. Our bartender/server was extremely friendly and went out of his way to suggest wines and dishes to accommodate us. After he saw that I was unhappy with my gnocchi he asked if there was anything wrong. I only said that I preferred the sauce from the other dish better. Five minutes later a server brought out a side bowl of the sauce for me.  It was unbelievable and made me very happy. 


L'Artusi on Urbanspoon
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