City Guide: A Weekend in New York City

Can you do New York City in a weekend? If you must! I did it this past weekend when my friend and I wanted to limit how many vacation days we were taking. It was beautiful, exciting, sleep-depriving, and I would whole-heartedly do it again if I got the opportunity (like, next week?).

Here’s my guide on what to see and do when you only have a day or two.

Saturday in New York City

I took a redeye into the Big Apple and arrived at 9am. I wasn’t exactly spritely as a spring chicken, but I was so ready to take full advantage of the long weekend ahead. All I needed was a little brunch. Enter, Pardon My French.

Breakfast at Pardon My French

The inside was cute: the outside was cuter. After taking a peek out back, it was impossible to not ask for a table back there. The chairs are eclectically paired and it’s all strung lights and greenery and gorgeousness.

backyard at pardon my french restaurant in nyc

Coming from San Francisco, the prices really excited me. For $19.95, you order any brunch item + bottomless coffee and/or tea. For $29.95, you order any brunch item + bottomless mimosas and/or bloody mary.  In San Fransisco, seeing a $20 eggs benedict on the menu is not uncommon (and that’s precisely why I don’t brunch). But I wanted to go all in for my NYC foodie weekend and so I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t exceed SF prices.

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I ordered the Tunisian eggs but thanks to my large party I got to check out all the dishes on the menu: from the grilled steak and cheese sandwich to the croque madame. The only dish that didn’t pass before me was the kale salad and, well, I was okay with that for once.

table spread at pardon my french restaurant nyc

Hot tip: BYOAM. Bring your own alternative milk. They have milk–not almond milk, not nonfat milk, not coconut milk just milk. Oui oui, don’t expect anything less than the real deal.

The Build-Your-Own NYC Walking Tour

Brunch provided all the energy needed for the long walking tour ahead. The beautiful thing about Manhattan is that you could wander for blocks and still be surrounded by beautiful brownstones, half a dozen restaurants per block, and sweet cafes.

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My advice: choose a direction and set yourself on that course, but don’t worry if you deviate from your original plan.

We started walking through the East Village after brunch, took the subway to the Upper East Side, journeyed through Central Park, exited out on the Upper West Side, took the subway down to Chelsea, strolled through Greenwich Village, and ended near Washington Square Park. It was a lot of walking but there is no better way to learn and see a city than by foot.Autumn in greenwich nyc

Dinner at The Spotted Pig

Saoooo guuud. That’s exactly how I sounded with a mouthful of shoestring fries. If I have one piece of advice for New York City adventurists, it’s this: go. to. the spotted. pig. Order the hamburger and balance it with a light prosecco. Yes, I’m a sommelier, can’t you tell? Anything else off the menu will be delicious, but I thought the gnudi was an absolutely hit.

Sunday in New York City

Breakfast at Black Seed Bagels

Wait in line impatiently staring at all the menu options, watch them hand roll the bagel dough, smell the scents emerging from the wood-fired oven, and try not to freak. These bagels are too good to be true. Lightly browned, beautiful, and good enough to forgo the toaster.

I custom ordered a veggie sandwich while my friend went for the classic.

classic bagel breakfast sandwich from

Brooklyn Bridge & Beyond

Cross the Brooklyn bridge by foot, bike, or (if you’re too tired like me) cab.

view from the manhattan bridgeOnce you’re well into Brooklyn, wander along the beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The views of Manhattan are breathtaking, plus the Pier 3 Greenway Terrance and Pier 2 roller rink are genius manmade creations.

Descend into Dumbo after seeing Truman Capote’s house. There’s rarely a dull moment in Dumbo so expect lots of tourists. No need to let it bother you though: just snap your pictures are continue on your way via cab to Williamsburg.

IMG_1020Weave in and out of Williamsburg’s tiny shops and street vendors. Stop to get a coffee in Devocion or a cheese platter at Bedford Cheese if you’re feeling snacky, then end your adventure with a loop around McCarren Park to see what the locals are up to before heading back to yours to get ready for the night.

Dinner at Top Thai Greenwich

Tiny and popular, so make a reservation. The pad thai is delicious and the red curry has the power to make me hungry even just thinking about it at 8am. The wait staff also strikes a good balance of being attentive without being overbearing—a hard-to-find happy medium.

Standup at Comedy Cellar

I love the 80’s vibe of this place and how every comedian has been on TV within the past six months. Comedy is a job and a muscle that needs to be flexed: this is the stage where comedians come to do that. Tickets are $24 plus there’s a two-drink minimum. Be ready to shell out $50–humor is a good investment.

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Wellness To Me: Taking Action Against Body Shaming

“Why is she so BIG?” I was watching a movie with Woman X. As Actress Y entered stage left, those were the words that left her mouth. Instead of laughing at Actress Y’s entering line, commenting on the  or even…I don’t know…paying attention to the movie whatsoever, Woman X decided to stop all things to comment on Actress Y’s weight in a judgmental and shocking tone. The moment suddenly became mine: the camera slow-panned from Woman X to me and zoomed in on my face. I owned the stage and had three very obvious options: do nothing and let the moment awkwardly pass, react angrily, or confront the situation calmly. I chose option 1 and the evening proceeded without interruption.

Fast forward 2 years to present day. Woman X and I are out to dinner when she tells me that a family gathering the last weekend was awkward. Why, I ask? Because they’re all so BIG. They must eat soo much, she tells me, as she takes another bite of salad and I’m digging into my taco. Oh how the universe was testing me.

taco dinner with friends

In a previous life, I would have chosen inaction. But then again, in a previous life I felt  comfortable and blissfully complacent. In between then and now, my eyes have opened and my courage has grown out of necessity. I no longer feel comfortable accepting my surroundings as they are. And I’ve realized that as hard as it is to confront friends with differing opinions, that’s where change happens. So I started a conversation with Woman X. It was an awkward redirection of the conversation: the tone changed from light and flippant to interrogative and constructive. There was no avoiding it. But Woman X is a rational woman and, although I don’t believe she fully agreed with my take on her words, I planted a seed. I have no doubt that it will live inside her for a long time and serve as a reminder next time she thinks about body shaming as I way to define a human being.

Wellness Today: Women! Stop Saying “Sorry”

I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a strong woman. I consider myself a person who has learned to not let others trample on her. That’s why a piece of feedback from a colleague today really shook me. It was one of the most intentional pieces of feedback I’ve ever received: she had obviously thought about the phrasing of it. Stop apologizing for setbacks or issues, especially those that are out of your control, she wrote. I thought of all the times I had probably apologized when aspects of our project didn’t work out. I can’t specifically recall having apologized, but I believe it.

Around friends, I am more aware. Around likeminded women, I keep my “sorry’s” to myself. But put me in a room where I am out of my element and likely intimidated, and I begin to apologize.

women stop apologizing at work notes

It has been debated whether encouraging women to stop apologizing is actually shameful in and of itself. Although there is a linguistic argument, I think the most personally compelling part of this argument is that setting parameters around what women should and should not say is stifling. That said, I am still of the mindset that I need to stop apologizing.

When I apologize, others just hear an “I’m sorry.” Whether or not I register as inferior to them at that moment is not the issue. The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented. With every apology, I carve the belief that I am less-than deeper within my psyche.

The real issue with apologizing without warrant is that it constructs the belief that I am inferior: that I have failed and I was not worthy of the challenge presented.

I don’t want to doubt my badass self. I don’t want to wake up one morning realizing I’ve apologized myself into a self-deprecating, self-depreciating hole. If I’ve learned one thing on this journey of reinterpreting wellness, it’s that wellness wholly depends on self worth. I won’t shame myself when I apologize, but I will be intentional about categorizing impersonal changes/issues/setbacks as just that — and not accrue the blame myself by implementing the s-word.

Gorriti: You’ve Got What A Foodie Needs

♪ ♫ Oh babay youuuu, you’ve got what I need.  But you say he’s just a friend, you say he’s just a friend…OH BAB BAY YOUUUU ♫ ♪
For any Palermo-ite, you know Calle Gorriti {pronounced Cay-jjjjay Gore-eat-eeis more than just a friend.  Calle Gorriti satisfies your every craving; your every want; every lust, longing, yearning. If you’re Buenos-Aires-bound anytime soon, scribble down the street name Calle Gorriti in your planner so you can nom your way to pure bliss when your in town. Start your weekend morning  on the corner of Scalabrini & Gorriti at 10 AM and fulfill your every desire. Let’s begin.

First you’ll start at the corner of Gorriti & Malabia, and walk into the Parisian paradise that is COCU boulangerie. Try your best to fake a French accent as you place your order with one of the adorable French servers waiting attentively behind the counter.  It’s early (for Argentine standards) so you’ll want to start your day strong. I suggest the café con leche and a pan du chocolat.  Trust me. No one does either better than these Frenchies.

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While you wait for your coffee, feel free to steal multiple glances at the delectable bakers, all decked out in old fashioned suspenders as they intently and skillfully knead dough amidst the café’s hustle and bustle.  There’s more than likely a short queue at the cash register, and the servers are so cute they may jumble your order, but if you politely remind them you asked for a croissant con jamon and not a sandwich, they’ll politely hurry to fix the err.

After you’ve had your caffeine and sugar fix, you’ll need to settle your stomach with some probiotics. That’s when you walk a few paces down and find yourself at Top It! Frozen Yogurt. If you’re feeling healthy, get the swirled selection. If not, go for the natural flavor and top it up to your hungry heart’s desire with mantecol, oreo, y chocolate.

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Take a seat at one of the high tables with the girls, and nom on your delectable froYo. You’ll spend so much time chatting and giggling with the friendly servers behind the counter, that you won’t realize how much time has gone by. You check your reloj –it’s 2pm!

2pm means it’s lunchtime, so you’re off across the street to Ninina Bakery to lounge and refuel.

Upon stepping foot in Ninina’s bright, fresh, and airy atmosphere, the first thing that will catch your eye will be the wall of windows looking in to the kitchen. You’ll zoom straight to the far table, take a seat, and press your face up to the glass as you watch baker’s fuss over fresh bread, cooks perfect each waffle’s presentation, and servers milling in and out to keep up with orders. Start off with un jugo de zanahoria, naranja, y jengibre. The juice is a miracle medicine and will perk your senses to be fully alert and ready to enjoy the meal to come.

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You can’t go wrong ordering from Ninina’s menu. If you’re more in the breakfast mood, the granola casera will be unlike any you’ve tasted. But then again, how could you skip their lunch menu or their sandwich de pollo de granja al horno? It’s all too tempting.

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After enjoying your meal, you’ll feel very at ease amongst the constant murmur of conversation and espresso machines. The staff is in no rush to swish you out the door, so feel free to bring a good book, good music, good friends, and relax in the airy, open atmosphere.

Then, once 5 o’clock rolls around, you’re out the door again to go get drinks at La Fábrica del Taco –Buenos Aires’ best (and only!) taco joint. How lucky you are that it’s just a few steps away at this point. Indulge in a margarita de frutilla. . . or two. . .or a full pitcher! Ask them to rim your glass with salt instead of sugar, and let the cool contrast of the chunky salt and sweet strawberry crash together against your tastebuds.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.50.49 PMAnd don’t even think of not ordering nachos with your marg! Once your hunger kicks up a few notches, order a Taco Pibe and Taco Castor (con queso).

Enjoy deliciously, my gente! And remember: dream in cupcakes.

COCU boulangerie: Malabia 1510, esquina Gorriti, web

Top It! Frozen Yogurt: Gorriti 4721, web

Ninina Bakery: Gorriti 4738, web

La Fábrica del Taco: Gorriti 5062, web

Shedding My Shame {And Daring You To Shed Yours}

Preface: Within this post is my promise to you. And, just like all those “post this now or your sister will die tomorrow” sort of spams, I am begging you to not read any further, unless you are willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it. And that responsibility is this: upon reading this post, you make yourself a promise, that you’ll stop being so shy/embarrassed/ashamed about one thing that gets to you; that one thing that sometimes pulls you down. Why? Because the only person that has to live with you forever, is yourself. So fall in love. With you. Because you’re fucking beautiful. If you accept the challenge, then feast your eyes on the following. . . 

Sometimes I get really …how do I say this… caught up in myself. And not just in the usual Rachael’s-talking-to-herself-again-so-let’s-watch-this-private-kookooshow-for-a-bit-until-she-returns-to-Earth kind of way. It’s more like I think things in my head, over and over, until they become my reality. Like that time I convinced myself I got pregnant from not using toilet seat covers during my trip to Europe. You may shake your head and sigh, but to a young teenager with babyphobia, the terror is real {and my friends still crack up about it. Apparently, there’s nothing funnier than a virgin who thinks she’s preggers}. Anyways, that’s neither here nor there. . .

This falsified reality I speak of is exactly what makes me sometimes fear the Spanish language.

I just get into this mood where my tongue trips over itself in my mouth; I can’t get over an incorrect verb conjugation or vocab slip; and I become completely mouth-paralyzed in mid-conversation.

Days like this, I ask my friend to order the pizza, so that I won’t have to talk to a stranger over the phone, who’s voice I’m not  yet accustomed to. At its worst, I’ll avoid going to the supermarket so I won’t have to speak Spanish to ask for a grocery bag. You’d think with the amount of embarrassing things that happen to me on the reg, I wouldn’t mind speaking a little Spanish –but for some reason, that isn’t the case.

And the thing is…I know Spanish. In July, I took a literature course taught at an Argentine university; in August, I began working at a Peruvian bar with latino coworkers/customers; in September, I spoke my way into an apartment complex; in October, I befriended the sweetest set of Argentine sisters; in November, I royally told-off an aggressive loiterer; and in December, I started dating the sweetest, most handsome porteño (yes, he’s perfect. no, you can’t have him).

So why, oh WHY, do I still sometimes blush when ordering empanadas?

Storytime of how this topic came to fruition today of all days:

This afternoon, I went to a café after work to read more “Gone Girl,” and to sneak a coffee while my roommates weren’t looking {because we’re pretty sure a baby stomach ulcer monster is growing inside of me, so the coffee pot is off limits until further notice}. I ordered in my charming California girl accent {enter sigh & eye roll}, and was slightly offended when after a few minutes of talking, the waitress told me the price of my coffee. In English. I was like girlfriend doesn’t think I’m porteña? So even though we continued our conversation in Spanish, my ego had been shot. I was just pulling my bloody mess of a self through our conversational battlefield, attempting to dodge any other English bullets being puttered my way.

Up next, I stopped in a hair salon para hacer una cita. Well, no. Apparently, to make an appointment is to sacar un turno. News to me. And I’m not trying to be too harsh on the Spanish language or anything, but that makes no sense. And I’m saying this after getting butt hurt numerous times as I rejected the receptionist’s multiple offers to schedule me in, thinking she was offering some sort of bizarre beauty treatment or something. Luckily, the receptionist was a good sport, chuckled at our misunderstanding, and then asked for my number, probably so we could hang out sometime {ya, I know it’s just so they can call me to confirm, but I like to think I’m just that charming}.

After two stabs to my Spanish-speaking, English-born linguistic heart, I needed a factura con chocolate to mend my wounds. But alas, in true porteño style, the bakery was out of all things chocolate, so instead I got into a conversation with the two bakers about which would be the yummiest substitute. We settled on dulce de leche. Obviously.

As I was paying, they asked me where I was from. Again with the bruised ego. Why are they asking me this? I thought. Am I not fluent enough for them? When I answered California, one of them responded with a “Aaah, that’s why your Spanish is so good.”

First off: that has nothing to do with it. The only time I ever speak Spanish in California is when I’m drunk and even then, it’s spoken with my equally-wonderbreadish friends.

But, SECOND OFF {my point}: the baker said my Spanish is good. Meaning, he thought it was good. Meaning, it’s pass-able. Do-able. Who cares I don’t know all the words? Who cares I can’t write or place my accents for nada? And most importantly, who CARES that I have an accent? I never laugh at my dad when he says “sorry” all funny in his Canadian accent.

SO, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, I PROMISE TO MYSELF & TO YOU DEAR BLOG READER {because I need someone to hold me accountable}, THAT I WILL NO LONGER BE EMBARRASSED BY MY SPANISH –OR LACK THERE OF. 

I shall enunciate proud and clear when ordering my submarinoknowing I represent the marginal, curious {yet cursed-with-ugly-accents} traveling community of the United States. I’ll answer my telephone in Spanish to tell telemarketers with authority that no, I really honestly truly don’t have the time to talk to them due to the fact my life is presently happening at the moment. And lastly, I’ll no longer fear telling the grocery store clerk with a smile that yes, I will need a bolsita for my bottle of wine.

So you’ve made it through the end of this long-winded post.

Now, it’s your turn.

What will be your promise to yourself? No one will hold you reliable. No one will scoff at you should you forget your promise and appear bashful in the face of onset fears. But it’s the little steps that count, so why not at least try it out? And if you can’t think of anything now, then wait it out for a week. Life is a cycle of both the good and the bad, and surely something will reveal intself. And when it does, grab it by its horns, pull it out of hiding, and tell your fear/timidity/embarrassment that you are that Barney Stinson kind of AMAZING, and you no longer have space for it in your vida. You’ll love yourself for it.

Happy thoughts, travels, & day my gente. Besos xx

7 Good Ideas That Proved to be Bad Choices This Week

1. Cooking a Romantic Dinner

Because then the power went out, the kitchen became hot as the devil’s inferno, and what was supposed to be a cute date night turned into my personal rendition of Paul Newman in the chaingang {you know…Cool Hand Luke? when he’s all sweaty? …get it…?}

2. La Fiesta de la Luna Llena {The Full Moon Party}

As the famous Gatsby declared, “a little party never hurt no body.” Except for he wasn’t thinking about parties on Wednesday nights. With hundreds of hippies. And fernet. And work the next day…

3. Terrace-Top Dining

So we have this terrace, and it’s beautiful. The roommates and I uncorked some wine, laid out plates and cutlery, and dined while overlooking the city’s rooftops. The next day however, I woke up with a million mosquito bites.

4. Shopping for Essential Oils

I’m enrolled in a massage therapy school beginning this March, so I figured I’d purchase some new oils to up my game. Well, while trying out the mint oil, I felt something in my eye, so I rubbed it. Yeaaaa. . . . I now know how Captain Hook felt with that eye patch.

5. Learning How To Download

I’ve now spent two full evenings after work watching my beloved Mindy Project that I never thought I’d be able to see again. What I should have been doing: going to the gym, eating dinner (not just peanut butter), or writing a blog post. Damn you, Mishka.

6.  Sweeping my Floor

Sweeping my floor quickly turned into mopping it as well, re-organizing my entire closet, re-matching all my socks to their rightful partners, and pulling the dust bunnies out of my backpack. It also resulted in me coming face-to-feelers with a cucaracha. And that was pretty terrifying.

7. Going to a Milonga

…in 38*celsius weather –aka 100 Farenheit. Again with the sweat.