Monday, October 20, 2014

Upper Yosemite Falls

If I was ever to have a love affair with anything but my boyfriend, I would definitely choose Yosemite National Park. The first time I laid eyes on the valley floor, the vast granite rocks, and the iconic half dome, I instantly fell in love. There is something about being in Yosemite that makes a person forget about their worries and their regrets, to only focus on the sheer beauty of nature. It allows one to evaluate how amazing the world really is. It gives one a true appreciation for the world one lives in. Forget the sounds of the city, the chaos of a full work day, the stress and pressures you get from work and home; nature is where one finds themselves, where one can reevaluate life and spend a couple stress free days away from their normal routine. That is why I love Yosemite so much.


In April, Borys and I decided to take our yearly trip to Yosemite. This time we wanted to tackle Upper Yosemite Falls/Yosemite Point. It was still winter time, so many of the trails we close, but this particular one is open year round. It's a fairly difficult one, so we decided why not.

After the challenge of half dome last year, I thought doing upper Yosemite Point was going to be much easier. In a sense it is, but it also has it's hard parts.

Upper Yosemite falls is just a gigantic stair stepper that never ends. For 4-5 miles, you are constantly climbing with no areas of flat land, at least till you get to the top. People say you are climbing the height of two empire state buildings. The pay off is an amazing view of  half dome and a creepy look down at the falls.

The hike in total was 9.4 miles. It took up half the day to complete it. We started fairly early in the day, around 8 AM. The first part of the hike was pretty flat, we had to walk about half a mile to the trail head, once we got to the trail head we instantly started climbing up hill. This uphill climb doesn't really end on this hike. Our calves were definitely feeling it instantly. 


The beginning before the climb
The accent up was long and primarily uphill, but we got a break when we hit the middle falls. We were greeted with a nice spray of the falls. Since we went during springtime the water fall was fall at full blast.

Half way up, you are greeted with this amazing view of the the falls and half dome
After we past the middle portion of the falls, we started up on many granite steps again. This felt like it went on for days. 

Looking out at the valley floor

 
Once you finish up your stair stepper, you reach a point where you get to the top, and are greeted with the top of the falls. Most people take the opportunity to take a rest, eat some lunch, and enjoy the view of Yosemite Valley.

From the top of the falls, looking down


This portion is pretty scary, as the path gets really narrow

If you go 1.5 miles more, you'll reach Yosemite Point. It's completely worth the extra mile. Once you reach the top, you get a full frontal view of half dome. It's one of the best views of half dome that I've seen. Well, besides being on it, but this was just as good.


The view from Yosemite Point

My tips: bring lots of water (a camel back is always a good bet with long hikes), plan for at least 5-6 hours of hiking time, bring good hiking shoes with grip, and bring lunch and enjoy it while taking in the beautiful Yosemite valley. On a hot day, bring sunscreen. I got sunburned pretty bad.

Be careful going down, parts of the hike are slippery because of the mist from the trail. Take your time, there were a couple of times I thought I would eat it and fall down. Trekking poles would make it easier on the knees. I didn't have any and I felt really sore the day after.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New York Foodventures

New York is a city filled with amazing food. Any foodie would naturally go crazy. I wasn't a huge fan of New York City, but I was a HUGE fan of the food New York had to offer.

Here are just a couple highlights.

The Halal Guys: 6th Ave & W 53rd St Chicken and Rice, yes please! Out of everything I ate in New York, this was by far my favorite place. I will go back to New York just to eat it. You have the option of choosing chicken, lamb, or both. For 6$ you get a huge portion of rice and salad with meat on top. Make sure you go to the carts of 6th Ave & W 53rd St. There are a couple near that area but the original in the one on the corner.

Pure Thai Cookhouse: 766 9th Ave I happened upon this place on accident. My boyfriend and I wanted something quick with no line, and luckily we found this place. I was super disappointed by ippudo NY, so I decided I needed to try thai food. This place is  a true gem in Hell's Kitchen. Get the dry noodles, so good.

Gramercy Tavern: 42 E 20th St My first true fine dining establishment. I'm glad my boyfriend and I decided to splurge for our 5 year. This place exceeded all my expectations.  Service is spectacular and the food was delicious. 7 course meal for $125 seems like a steal if you ask me.

The Spotted Pig: 314 W 11th St Trust me when I tell you that you will die and go to pig heaven. This place had so much pig memorabilia and would make you think you were in a pig farm. Get their famous burger, it's huge!

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but just go and yelp and look these places up.

It's always worth it to try a true New York hot dog on the streets of New York.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NYC Sights

The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, The Empire City, and the Melting Pot. All those names could only pertain to one city and one city only, New York City. This last January I had the pleasure of celebrating  my 5 year anniversary with my SO for 6 days in this wonderful city. It's was a grand adventure and it deserves two posts. I will first talk about my highlights, then I'll devote a whole blog post to food.

Honestly, NYC was great to visit, but I would never live there. 6 days was quite a long time in the city. I was ready to leave by day 4. New York is very unique in its own way. The people do not give a shit about you, getting around is super easy and confusing by subway, subways are not BART, so don't expect comfort, and don't expect to sleep because there is always something to do at night.

In 6 days, you can do a lot. Trust me, we did everything tourist could do besides eat my heart out in the 6 days we were there.  Luckily, we decided to get the citypass which included 6 attractions for 106$. It's totally worth it if it's your first time there.

Here are my top 8 NYC City Sights.

8. Time Square - We were lucky to had stayed right in time square. My first initial reaction was, "wow, that's a lot of light." It's pretty impressive. In Time Square, you are literally blinded by light that is projected from these digital billboards. It's really something to see, especially at night. New York is known as the city that never sleeps, Time square is in the center of that. You have a place filled with bars, food, shops, and shows. Time square is definitely I place that needs to be seen if it's your first time in New York. Beware, like many top tourist places, expect crowds galore and tour groups trying to rip you off.

Time Square seen from the famous red steps.


7. Broadway: Who can go to New York City and not see a broadway play. We were lucky enough to see three.  We saw the Lion King, Avenue Q, and Once: The Musical. New York is where stage actors go to "make it big." Why you ask? Broadway allows creative freedom in many different forms. You have over 20+ plays going on every single day. If I lived in New York, I would make it a goal to see as many plays as I could. I've never seen so  many theaters lined up so close together of each other. My boyfriend wanted to splurge so he bought pre tickets before we got to New York. Don't feel like you have to do this, unless you want to see a new really popular musical (such as Book of Mormon), but if you don't, they have a ticketing booth offering tickets at up to 60% off. If you are in New York, I would suggest to see at least one play, if not more.

6. Central Park: What is a trip to New York without going to Central Park. Central Park is literally building smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. We were lucky to had visited right after a snow storm, so, Central Park was covered in beautiful white snow. It's famous for its beauty and it's location. It is surrounded by these monstrous skyscrapers which adds such greatness to the city. It's definitely worth a visit. I would love to come back during summer time and have a picnic here

Snowy Central Park


5. Empire State Building: A New York City icon. Once the highest building in US, years later, it's still one of the most iconic structures to exist. The history of it's construction and past can all be experienced on this lovely tour. It's a nice prelude to the view you get from the top. It's quite a site and you get to see the true beauty in Manhattans skyline.

View from the top, overlooking Central Park


4. Statue of Liberty: Lady Liberty was great not only because I can say I've been to the statue that stands for freedom, but because Liberty Island allows you to see a beautiful glimpse of the grand New York City Skyline. You can pay for a tour that will bring you to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. While on this tour you are able to go in the Statue of Liberty and see the process in Ellis Island that immigrants once took in hopes of starting new lives. I believe this was a great experience and should be done if you've never been.

The view from Liberty Island
Lady Liberty Herself

Ellis Island from the Front


3. Museums: New York has a plentiful abundance of culture. Art plays a big part of that. New York hosts great museums, such as, the MOMA, MET, and Natural History Museum.

The front of the MET

Teddy in front of the Natural History Museum

The famous and wonderful Starry Night at the MOMA


2. 9-11 Memorial: A beautiful memorial to such a horrendous event. All the names of those affected by the 9-11 attacks are etched on the sides of the memorial fountains. It's free but feel free to make a donation. I'm very glad I was able to pay my respects. The memorial is built as two large fountains where the towers once stood. Parts of the memorial are still under construction but you may still visit the fountains. They are still in works for the museum.

South Tower Memorial

A lonely flower left from a loved one.


1. Brooklyn Bridge: I come from the SF Bay Area and we have the famous Golden Gate Bridge. New York has their famous bridge and I personally am in awe of it. The Brooklyn Bridge is beauty to walk. It has it's own pedestrian walk way that allows pedestrians to avoid the dangers of walking near cars and allows them to enjoy the beauty of the bridge. If you are a visitor to New York, I highly recommend walking the bridge over to Brooklyn and treating yourself to the famous Grimaldi's Pizza for your hard work walking over.

Cool Ropes makes this walk fun
View of NYC from Brooklyn


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An ode to 2013

2013 has been a roller coaster of truly amazing moments and a couple of moments that I would love to forget. Either way, it's been a pretty great year. This year has allowed to me to mature and to truly appreciate my life and the little things that make life so much better.

The good:
- I hiked up Half Dome (Yosemite, CA)
- I got a new job
- I traveled outside of California/Nevada for the first time. Not once, but three times. (Hawaii, Seattle, Portland)
- First time kayaking and snorkeling. (Oahu, HI)
- Ran my first 5K - Color Run
- Went to Yosemite twice
- Celebrated 4 wonderful years with the love of my life
- I met Dr. Phillip Zimbardo
- Made a totally homemade costume. (minions)
- Went wine tasting, not once, but three times. (Napa two times and Paso Robles once)
- Finally took my whole family out for a meal and paid for it
- Became a Yelp Elite
- Hit a quarter of a century. I'm 25!
- Paid off my car
- Ran 7 miles straight with no stopping.
- Lots and lots of hiking. These are the highlights:
  • Half dome (Yosemite, CA)
  • Diamond Head (Oahu, HI)
  • Manoa falls hike (Oahu, HI)
  • Multnomah-wahkeena loop (Portland, OR)
  • Sebbins cold canyon reserve (Davis, CA)
  • Mission Peak (Fremont, CA)

The not so good:
- Somehow got stuck in a 4 car pile up. Luckily I was in front, so there was not much damage done to my car.
- Had to leave my teaching job. Luckily, what could have been the worst period of my life, became one of the best things that could have happened to me. I loved the kids I taught very much, but the job was not a good fit for my future. The situation that finally made me leave brought new light to my life. I found a position that is truly a better fit for me and my career. This was truly a blessing in disguise.
 
2014 Goals
- run a half marathon
- go on an adventure
- get buff
- dream big
- break bad habits
- fill up this blog with lots of food and adventure
- master the art of french macarons
- travel more

There is so much I want to accomplish in my life. 2013 gave me a lot to appreciate. 2013 showed me that I could dream big, but I can only dream bigger at this point. I can't wait to continue to go on more adventures in the following years to come.

Seattle Food Highlights

Seattle, known as the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. My SO and I had the pleasure of visiting this fine city two months ago on our Pacific Northwest trip to Portland and Seattle. Seattle is a great city in the northwest. Growing up in the bay area, Seattle actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco except much cleaner and less homeless people. Seattle has the tall buildings, the bay,  the artsy community, and many good foodie places; much  like SF.

We hit up many of the touristy spots, such as, the space needle, EMP Museum, Chihuly's Glass Museum, Pike's Market, and the Fremont District. All were pretty awesome and fun.

EMP (Experience Music Project) itself is an amazing museum. The design of the museum is crazy awesome and can be seen in all its funkiness from the space needle. You museum showcases some of the best in music and movie. My favorite was this gigantic display of guitars piled on top of each other.

Chihuly is worth a stop by because the pure beauty that can be made from glass. Chihuly made a name for himself as a genius at glasswork. You may see many of his pieces at this museum and famously at the Beliagio in Las Vegas.

Seattle Underground is also an amazing tour. It showcases a old Seattle that is currently under the new Seattle. Seattle is built on top of an old infranstructure and this tour takes you literally underground. The tour was fun and interactive. 

From top left to Bottom: Fremont troll, Space Neddle, EMP, Chihuly Glass Museum


Onto the food. Here are my top 3 favorite food places in Seattle.

3. Pikes Market. This place is amazing! There are so many little restaurants here for the food lover on the go. Pikes also is the home of the first Starbucks. It's nothing impressive but it's kind of cool to say you've been.

When my SO got to Pikes on a Monday, it was crazy packed and hard to get through. We came back on our last day in Seattle and it was much better. My highlights for Pikes are:

Prioshky Prioshky: (1908 Pike Pl)  A cute and very popular Russian bakery that offers the best piroshkys I've ever eaten The salmon pate piroshky was seriously bomb. My boyfriend is Eastern European and he told me that these pastries were legit.
 
Beecher's Handmade Cheese: (1600 Pike Pl) As you walk by, you can peer through these gigantic windows and see them making cheese in these huge baths. I was instantly intrigued and decided to go in. I heard they make a pretty awesome grilled cheese. Upon walking in, you are greeted with this aroma of cheese. For a cheese lover, this place is heaven. My SO and I decided to share the flagship sandwich. It was a grilled cheese sandwich with their famous flagship cheese. It was one of the most amazing grilled cheeses I've even eaten. The cheese melts instantly in your mouth.


2. Sweet Iron (1200 3rd Ave) This place is amazing for liege waffles. A perfectly cooked waffle with crystallized sugar pearls. Sweet Iron has savory and sweet waffles. I'm glad I found this place on yelp. It's a little small shop in the middle of downtown. We had breakfast here and enjoyed both the waffles we chose. We were both in sweet mood and I got the Banana brûlée waffle and my boyfriend the Honey, goat cheese , hazelnuts waffle. I would love to go back and try their savory waffles.


1. Revel (403 N 36th St) My favorite meal on my Seattle trip. Revel is located in the Fremont District which is this artsy hip district in Seattle. Not many tourist come to Fremont because its a bit far from the downtown area. I'm very happy my SO an I decided to hop on a bus and go here. The food scene here is very much like the mission but maybe a bit more hippie. 

Revel itself,  is unique and up and coming. They have their kitchen in the diners full view. You can even sit at the bar and watch them cook your meal. I love this concept. Revel is a perfect Asian fusion restaurant that wants you coming back for more.

Their menu is decently small but everyone can find something they would like on it. My boyfriend and I came here because we were conveniently in the Fremont area and I read about Rachel Yang and how her restaurants are up and coming in Seattle.
From Top to Bottom: Short rib, daikon, mustard green egg bowl;Pork Belly, kimchi, and bean sprout pancake; and Americanized bahnchan,


 Seattle I'll be back one day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Portland Food Highlights

"Keep Portland Weird," is the motto that you see all over Portland, OR. Two months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting this great city. When people go on vacation, I'm pretty sure that Portland, OR is far from everyone's mind. I came to Portland to visit a friend, and I'm glad I did. Portland is an up and coming city where food lovers rejoice and nature is our friend. I loved everything about Portland. From the long food lines, to the abundance of waterfalls in sight, and the beautiful Willmette River that flows throughout the town. Portland is truly a beautiful and weird city that will delight any traveler. 

I only stayed for two days but I swear I could have done so much more if I stayed longer. In my two days in Portland I was able to eat at most of the hugely popular foodie places. My friend knows me very well and only took us to the best places Portland has to offer. I wanted to take time in this post to highlight those food adventures. I will review my top 3 foodventures.

3.  Voodoo Doughnuts
22 SW 3rd Ave

How can you go to Portland and not go to this food staple. Voodoo doughnuts epitomizes what Portland is; Weird. Where else can you get a doughnut in the shape of a bunt, something called the gay bar doughnut, a doughnut called cock and balls, and a voodoo doll with guts coming out of it. This place is truly what Portland is all about. I heard of the long lines, but I had a great experience at Voodoo. My group came here around 11 PM after we checked out City Grill and the line was only 5 people deep. The doughnuts were fresh and delicious the next day. My favorite in particular is their bacon maple bar. The bacon is cooked perfectly and has a maple sugar glaze on it. My second favorite is the apple fritter. One of the best I've had. Voodoo Doughnuts is definitely a place to stop by at when in Portland.

Voodoo Doll and Blunt from Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts


2. Pok Pok
3226 SE Division St

Andy Ricker made a name for himself selling his North Thai cuisine out of a cart, he now has 7 different restaurants in Portland and New York. Pok Pok is definitely a restaurant experience unlike any other. The Thai food you are given at Pok Pok are not what Americans are used to. This is North Thai Cuisine, not the South that we are used to, so you will not be getting phat thai here. The flavors at Pok Pok are amazing and worth the two hours I had to wait to eat. If you are in Portland, Pok Pok is definitely a good place to have dinner at if you are willing to do your share of waiting. They conveniently have a sister bar next door that you can chill at while you wait, so time goes by fairly fast. Get the wings, you won't regret it!

Pok Pok's famous fish sauce wings is worth the 2 hour wait time.


1. Screen Door
2337 E Burnside St

Good old southern cuisine in Portland,OR. Who would have thought? This place was  probably the highlight of my trip. I've had my fair share of chicken and waffles, but Screen Door blows them all away. Look aside Roscoe's, Screen Door has you beat. This chicken and waffles dish is huge. They give you a large Belgium waffle and three huge pieces of chicken breast on top of it. The best part is that a knife is shoved between the chicken and waffles to give you the gigantic effect. It's amazing! The flavors are bold, the food is fresh, and who doesn't like brunch. Prices are very affordable and you get lots of food. I waited an hour and a half in the rain for this place and it was worth it. The entrees are big and full of flavor. If you are going to visit Portland, I would totally recommend this place wholeheartedly and am salivating right now at the thought of the chicken and waffles they offer.
The famous Chicken and Waffles at Screen Door.
Portland, I will come back for you one day for more amazing foodventures!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Korean Beef with Garlic Asparagus

This is my first recipe post! This is a recipe that my sister told me about and can be found on this website.

http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html

It is one of the easiest and delicious recipes I've ever tired to conquer. If you love Korean bbq, this recipe is a cheap an easy alternative to the delicious meat. I normally pair it with a grain (rice), and a vegetable. I love asparagus and I think the asparagus works perfectly with this dish. My SO is a pretty picky eater and he doesn't normally like meat, but he loves this dish. He will ask for it, when I tell him I want to cook. The beef itself has a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a slight taste of sesame and ginger.

Easy Korean Beef with Garlic Asparagus

 

Taken from Lizzy Writes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (I skipped this)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced

I make my asparagus very easy. I normally lay it out on foil and drizzle olive oil over it. Then I spice it up with fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. I bake it for 15 minutes and it comes out perfect. I like a crunch to my vegetables so I don't cook it that long.

This recipe is healthy and delicious at the same time.