the one and only, the Met.

i don’t think i could ever get sick of walking up these steps.

every weekday (and some weekends) i wake up, take the 4 or 5 line to 86 St then walk across to 5th avenue. and every morning, i seem to be even more exhausted and drained than the last. but when your walk to work includes seeing lines of people patiently awaiting hours before the museum even opens, it perks you up better than a shot of espresso.

my internship at the Met has been both physically and mentally challenging, yet completely rewarding. within the first two weeks, we met with curators and educators of every department from Art of the Ancient Near East to Modern and Contemporary Art. it was unbelievable meeting and hearing from the best of the best in each specific field. i found myself learning so much about topics that i never thought i would have interest in. (if you ever want to learn about slit gongs from oceania, hit me up).

in addition, each intern is responsible for designing two guided tours to the public. the first incorporates the “highlights” or most well known works at the Met. out of a list of 115 or so items, each intern picks 6-8 works with a theme linking them all together (mine is “the working woman found in art”).

Edward Hopper, Tables of Ladies, 1931

the other tour is an open-ended special topics tour in which any works can be chosen to develop a very specialized tour of our own interests (mine is entitled “European Art through the Five Senses”).

Edouard Manet, Young Lady in 1866

i found this process to be at first daunting, and now utterly empowering. i appreciate that the Met doesn’t spoonfeed us a list of “top hits” that must be included in every tour, but instead gives us the leeway to design very personal, individualized tours. every tour you get at the Met will be completely different from the next because it has been carefully tailored by that tour guide through hours (and hours) of thought, consideration, and immense research.

some of my best moments at the Met so far have been:

  1. meeting all of my fellow interns and realizing that we genuinely like each other (you never know with art folk)
  2. seeing the alexander mcqueen exhibit early one morning by myself (so scary, yet so stunningly genius). i must say i never understood how moving fashion could be, until i saw this.
  3. having a visitor ask me how to get out of the museum. and me actually knowing!
  4. rediscovering just how lucky i was to finally listen to my heart and follow my passion, art.

so if you ever find yourself at the Met this summer, let me know. you will find yourself on a tour with me around the museum, whether you’re willing or not.

Savage Beauty, Alexander McQueen Exhibit

“There’s no way back for me now. I am going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible.” Alexander McQueen

 
 
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th avenue, ny ny
(212) 535.7710
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the south meets nyc

everyone knows that the south knows how to do bbq. apparently even new yorkers.

so when my friend anne larimer asked me if i wanted to go to a barbeque block party at madison square park i thought, ‘heck yes!’ and when we learned that martin’s bbq from nashville, tn was coming, i took it as a message from God saying ‘Go, eat barbeque and be merry.’ which we did.

not even the pouring rain on saturday could stop dedicated fans from having a good ole southern time. both the food and the bands reminded me of honky-tonking in downtown nashville. i felt so at home as i ate my bbq sandwich and listened to the guitars playing and just a tinge bit homesick.

luckily, i was quickly comforted by an old friend from high school (and fellow tennessee girl), sonia, who has been living in brooklyn. we had dinner at le verdure in eataly (an AMAZING italian market!). the gnocchi with tomato and mushroom ragu was delicious and at $14 a great deal. unlike this little chunk of cash!

we then headed to a small joint where all the local new yorkers like to hang… TIMES SQUARE. i have to say i did not want to like times square. it’s garish, hectic, and filled with slow tourists. but boy was it FUN! i was completely swept away by all the glittering lights and massive signs. it was my HELLO new york! moment.

i cannot wait to see WICKED with my mother and sister when they come this summer!

big apple bbq block party
madison square park, ny ny
(646) 747.0584
 
eataly
entrance on 23rd street & 5th avenue, ny ny
(212) 229.2560
 

wandering about

every time i walk back to my apartment, i seem to take a different route. not purposefully. i just happen to be prone to wandering (i refuse to call it getting lost).

oftentimes, i’m so concerned with looking ‘like a new yorker’ that on the outside i appear confident in knowing exactly where i’m going, while on the inside i’m completely panicking as i cross every street. i’m not sure exactly what i’m so worried about. i guess i’m afraid that people will just look at me and know ‘ohh she’s not from here. doesn’t know her way around, totally lost.’ no duh, i’ve only passed you by like three times trying to find my metro stop. i can’t help but feel embarrassed.

this monday, after my first day at the Met, I met up with one of my friends from Vanderbilt, Sophia (who is probably secretly reading this post right now). Catching up with Sophia is like the best of the best girl talk. We met up at a trendy tapas bar, Boqueria (Sophia’s pick of course) and talked about all things fashion, boys, and life in general. Between our chatterings and sips of sangria, we dined on a relatively healthy array of a crab salad served with a basil sorbet (very refreshing and tasty!)

as well as a green salad (which could have been a meal in itself), sauteed spinach and garbanzo beans, baby squid (with more frisee salad) and shrimp cooked in garlic oil. like typical former Vandy girls, we forgot to order any carbs and were quick to order some more bread with our shrimp. pronto!

the highlight to me was the dessert, torrija y helad, which i can only describe as a crispy, buttery bread pudding topped with a scoop of yogurt ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. yum! the atmosphere of the restaurant was intimate but constantly lively with the bustling of small tables in animated conversation. it was a great pick-me-up to what had been a very exhausting day.

on my way back home, yes, i took yet another detour. but instead of panicking or feeling embarrassed, i took a deep breath and remembered something sophia had said during dinner, ‘i stopped feeling embarrassed in new york a LONG time ago.’ so i forgot my ego and really took the time to look around at my surroundings. as i paced down third avenue, i stopped to look at all the people and the buildings lit up in the new york night and realized… this place is stressful. it’s crowded, dirty and gives me an inferiority complex to the extreme. but when i stop trying so hard to fit in, i also realized that new york can sometimes be utterly and completely, enchanting. and these days, unbearably hot.

 
boqueria
53 west 19th street, ny ny
(212) 343.4255

new york, NEW YORK

my first full day here and i’m already blogging. i think this is a good sign.

i’m not really sure how to sum up my first day in NYC because it really is unlike any other place i’ve ever been to. you know when you meet someone famous? like utterly, super-duper, cover of People magazine famous? me neither, but just imagine it. your impression of meeting this person is either amazing or terrible. because unlike with most strangers, you’ve already developed some sort of image of what they will be like, look like, act like… i feel that’s how new york is. no one has a first impression of new york. you come with your expectations, your preconceptions and the city either meets them or falls flat.

so far, i’ve found myself somewhere in the middle. i’m adjusting nicely to my small, yet tidy apartment (thank you 4 years of dorm life) which has an amazing view and was oddly lulled to bed to the sound of honking traffic outside. what i didn’t appreciate as much was seeing my first nyc rat as i waited for my metro or the sleeping homeless man i had to step over to get out of my stop. luckily, the pros seem to outweigh the cons as i know some great people here to ease my rat-phobic ways.

my first night, i had dinner at my friend anne larimer’s. she and i met while we were both studying abroad in siena, italy and i like to think we’re kindred spirits. anne larimer is one of those people who goes to the tune of her own song, and you desperately wish you knew the words. we share a mutual bond over films with joseph gordon levitt, celebrity gossip, and of course food.

our dinner last nite was a mediterranean overflow of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), olives, baked eggplant stuffed with onions, tomatoes, and dried apricots, quinoa and roasted carrots. did i mention we like to eat? and drink of course delicious mojitos while watching episodes of sex and the city while in the city. it was a perfect start to what i hope will be a perfect summer. cause between you and me, i think mr. chrysler building seems a little shy but completely loveable.

tomorrow starts my first day at the MET! wish me luck.

birthday pavlova


i love birthday cakes, especially when i get to make them. every year, i take it upon myself (most willingly) to bake my mom’s birthday cake. and since she’s the best mother ever (and the most low-maintenance person i know) she always lets me choose the cake! over the years, i’ve made dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake, boston creme pie, carrot cake, coconut cake, but this year i wanted to make something a bit different.

enter one birthday berry pavlova. for a summer celebration, this dessert is perfect. it’s light, full of summer fruits, and such an elegant showstopper!

Mixed Berry Pavlova
adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 eggs whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ½ pint fresh blueberries
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry Sauce (recipe below)
  • Whipped Cream (recipe below)

(1)  Preheat oven to 225° F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, draw an 8-inch circle onto it then flip the paper over.
(2)  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, set aside.
(3)  In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low and increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, then slowly and gradually add in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. 
(4)  A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase the speed a bit and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes. 
(5)  Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center (you want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit).
(6)  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color.  Check on the meringue about 30 minutes into the baking time.  If it appears to be taking on color or cracking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and rotate the pan. After baking, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy).

Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 10-oz. bag frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam 

(1)  Purée the raspberries in a blender.  Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. 
(2)  Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and jam, until it is heated through and the sugar and jam are dissolved. Let cool before serving. (Can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated)

Whipped Cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1)  Whip the cream in a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 
(2)  When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm.  Be careful not to over-do it, or you might end up with a bowl of whipped butter.

Pavlova Assembly: When the meringue is completely cooled, place it on a serving plate.  Spread the top completely with the sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about ½ cup of  raspberry sauce.  Spoon the mixed berries and sauce mixture carefully into the middle of the pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.  Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce on the side.

Makes one 8-inch pavlova (6-8 servings)

for her gift, my siblings and i all pitched in to get her this le creuset pot that she’s been wanting for years. i can’t wait to taste all the soups and chilis to come out of it.

happy birthday dear mommy, happy birthday to you!

i cannot believe i’m saying this but, i’m off to nyc for the summer TOMORROW! it’s all exciting, nerve-wracking, and surreal but with a belly full of pavlova, i should be ready to go. i think.

three cheers for BUTTERBEERS!

i’ve been known to use harry potter jargon in everyday situations. like ‘you know in harry potter and the goblet of fire, when harry opens the dragon egg and lets out the shriek of the merpeople? that’s what a cicada sounds like.’ or ‘osama bin laden is dead? SOMEBODY FINALLY FOUND HIS LAST HORCRUX!’

but nothing beats the full hogwarts experience like the wizarding world of harry potter at universal studios in orlando. my family (sans daddy choo who is visiting family in korea) recently went to orlando to feel all the hogwarts magic.

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forbidden journey

we ended up riding this three times, so you could say we liked it. it was much more terrifying than i had expected (too many spiders!) but is THE ultimate in the harry potter experience. the line takes you through hogwarts past talking portraits and dumbledore’s office which actually makes the waiting time fun.

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  • tip 1: ride this either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. any other time (especially 12-4p), the line will be LONG
  • tip 2: any purses or bags must be stored in lockers (which are free during the ride), so if you can, pack light (ID, money, phone only) in your pockets to avoid these locker lines

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flight of the hippogriff

this is the most kid-friendly ride of harry potter world but it still had my sister shakin’ in her boots. it is a ‘roller coaster’ but rather tame and short. still fun and definitely worth doing.

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dragon challenge

please do not eat before this ride. of all the rollercoasters in both islands of adventure and universal studios, this was definitely the most dizzying, scariest one. at one point the two separate coasters (chinese fireball and hungarian horntail) come within 18 inches of each other. so much fun, just don’t ride them back-to-back or you’ll feel like you just ate a puking pastille.

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three broomsticks & hog’s head pub

this was my favorite restaurant of the trip (surprising for theme park food). i just loved the atmosphere and the service was very efficient. come during dinnertime when most of the crowds have left and the restaurant is much more mellow. make sure to get the fish and chips!

       

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butterbeer & pumpkin juice

so how were they? delicious.

the butterbeer is like cream soda on the bottom and butterscotch foam on top. the frozen version is the best! i’m not much of a soda fan and even i drank 3 butterbeers during our trip. i could actually use one right now…

  • tip 3: skip the long lines at the butterbeer stands outside and get them at three broomsticks or hog’s head. they’re much colder and tastier there.
  • tip 4: the commemorative mug is a bit expensive (~$10) but makes a great souvenir. refills of butterbeer are $3.25 ($4.25 for frozen) and soda refills are $.85 at both parks. definitely worth it for us!

i think you either love or hate pumpkin juice. it’s not too sweet and reminded me of a spiced, pumpkin-y apple cider.

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honeydukes/zonko’s joke shop

i think i’ll let my sister christine, the sweets expert, write this section. afterall, she did go into honeydukes four times.

Honeyduke’s was by far the place I was most excited to visit in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Two items that I knew would be purchased before even entering the store were Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and a chocolate frog, mostly for novelty purposes. The chocolate frogs come with trading cards just as shown in the movies, so they were a must! Items can be quite costly, but of course are well worth it. Chocolate frogs were $9.95 each (yes, ten dollars for one frog!) and the beans were $10.95. There are a plethora of tasty treats offered to satisfy all taste buds! There are jelly beans, hard candies, and gummies sold in a serve yourself fashion that are priced according to weight. There are also more prepackaged Wizarding World style treats such as Peppermint Toads, Tongue Toffee, Chocolate Cauldrons, Chocolate Wands, and much more! Peppermint Toads were also purchased and I can tell you from personal tasting that they are smooth, dreamy, delicious, and well worth the $7.95! As you make your way further into the store there is also a display case which has loads of bakery style goodies and caramel apples behind it. This leads me to my favorite Honeydukes purchase: a caramel and toffee apple ($7.95). It is just as the name would suggest, a granny smith apple coated in the most delicious caramel I have ever eaten, and then covered liberally with toffee chunks. Needless to say, all four trips were both worthwhile and practically necessary! (P.S. Margaret just gawked at the length of this.)

  • tip 5: make sure this is the last stop of your visit unless you want melty chocolate frogs.


ollivander’s 

i’d hate to tell anyone to skip anything while here, but if you’re short on time, pass on ollivander’s. the line is always long as they only allow 25 people into the shop at a time. it can also be disappointing for little ones (and some of us older folks too) since ollivander only picks one participant for the wand experience. either way, you end up having to buy your wand at the next door owl post anyways. 

  • tip 6: like the forbidden journey ride, make sure to avoid going here during peak hours. when we went around 8p, the wait was about 15-20 minutes for ollivander’s (10 min for forbidden journey)

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owl post/dervish and banges

wands, robes, monster books galore! these connected stores offer everything from quill pens to gryffindor scarves. if you get a postcard, make sure to get it stamped with a hogsmeade postmark at the entrance of the owl post.

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rest of islands of adventure & universal studios

while most of our time was spent with harry potter, we did manage to explore the rest of islands of adventure and universal studios. of all the other rides our favorites included:

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  • brother: men in black II ride (universal studios), the 3D adventures of spiderman (islands of adventure)
  • me: return of the mummy (universal studios), train trolley in seussland (islands of adventure)
  • sister: return of the mummy
  • mom: popeye & bluto’s bilge-rat barge (NOT! soaking wet mother = unhappy mother)

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mythos restaurant 
inside islands of adventure, next to harry potter world
(407) 224.4012

as with most theme park restaurants, the emphasis is more on service than food. but mytho’s does provide a more gourmet menu for those sick of chicken tenders and french fries. my pad thai was especially good (and huge). and even though they messed up my sister’s bbq chicken pizza the first time, our server was so incredibly sweet, we almost felt bad for complaining.

the location is also ideal as it provides for a cool oasis in the middle of the day. make a reservation as this place seemed very popular.

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emeril’s tchoup chop
6300 hollywood way, orlando, FL
(407) 503. 2467

as my first emeril restaurant, i was pleasantly pleased. the interior was upscale polynesian and the food was very seafood-ccentric. our service was top-notch and i loved the interior pond at the center of the restaurant.

my seared black grouper served with thai sticky rice and peanut vinaigrette was delicious. but i would skip the desserts, both the banana cream pie and guava dumplings were just alright.

what a great way to start the summer!