weekend beauty

{Gorgoglio 'Bubbly' necklace, Museum of Art and Design NYC}


{Subway train necklace, Museum of Art and Design NYC}


{coconut cupcake, Little Cupcake Bakeshop on Prince Street}


{ashes of books, Museum of Art and Design NYC}


{New Museum Triennial NYC}

Art-inspired Food

Things that have happened since last time I blogged:

Blue Ivy introduced herself to the world. Giants won (!!!). Whitney passed away.

Goodness, February. My life however has been much of the same. Mostly work and art and food (pretty much everything this blog is about). A couple posts ago, I wrote about the new American Paintings Galleries at the Met which I paired with a mac & cheese recipe. This post is along those same lines. It’s another addition of ‘Art-Inspired Food’.

The Frick Collection right now has a new exhibition “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-length Paintings.” I love the Frick. It’s the former private residence of the wealthy Henry Clay Frick which has now been preserved into an art museum. Every time I walk in I imagine what it must have been like to live in a place like that… surrounded by Marie Antoinette’s personal desk, oriental rugs, and Van Eyck portraits. So decadent.


The Renoir exhibition showcases the fashions found in his full-length painting style. His brushstroke is incredibly feathery and light. And the colors are so soft. All the airiness reminded me a big cloud of meringue or whipped cream. Inspired, I came home and decided to concoct a dessert to match. Et voilà! These mini lime cheesecakes are the result. Enjoy them and if you can, go see the exhibition which closes May 13.

Mini Lime Cheesecakes 

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (~10 sheets)
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, melted
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • ½ tablespoon lime zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lime, sliced for garnish

(1)       Preheat oven to 325° F.
(2)       In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with a fork until well combined. Divide evenly into 16 muffin tins and press evenly onto the bottom with a tall glass or spoon.
(3)       Bake for 5-7 minutes, then let the crusts cool completely.
(4)       Lower the oven temperature to 300° F.
(5)       With an electric mixer (or in a blender), add the cream cheese, lime juice, zest, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
(6)       Add the flour and salt and mix again, scraping down the side as needed, until incorporated.
(7)       Add the eggs all at once and mix just until incorporated.
(8)       Pour cream cheese mixture into the crusts, filling to the very top of the rim.
(9)       Bake for 20-22 minutes until the edges are slightly golden but the center is still a bit wobbly.
(10)    Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours (overnight is better). Run a thin knife around the edges of the cakes and remove from pan.
(11)    In a clean bowl, whip the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks form. Dollop a spoonful onto each cheesecake and garnish with a slice of lime.

Makes about 16 mini cheesecakes

Hangin’ at the Guggenheim

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is never one to shy away from controversy. His latest exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, Maurizio Cattaelan: All, which ends today is certainly a spectacle to see. Comprised of a lifetime of all but two of his works, it is a showcase of an artist’s life– all shown hanging.

The building of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum is a work of art in itself. When I saw this exhibition last weekend with one of my roommates Jess we mentioned how perfect the space was for this exhibition. The walkway of the museum, which spirals up four floors, allows for you to constantly discover different works as you ascend the building. It was like an elaborate game of I-Spy. I definitely felt like I understood a bit of the eccentric and intriguing, yet incredibly whimsical, personality of Maurizio Cattelan.

happy Sunday everyone!

I’m gonna spend my Sunday watching both the Patriots v. Ravens & 49ers v. Giants games. Hoping for a Patriots/Giants Super Bowl!!

and happy Chinese New Year tomorrow as well– here’s to the Year of the Dragon!

so American, so delicious

I rarely talk about my work on this blog which is a shame as I really do adore where I work and what I do. I suppose most of the time I think it would bore people which, to be honest, it probably would. At certain times, however, I can’t help but contain my excitement about something new happening at the Met!

This past Thursday was the press preview for the new American Painting Galleries (which opens to the public, Monday January 16!). It’s really such a classic space, with natural wood floors and open sky lights– very American indeed. The paintings, however, are really what glow. Iconic ones like Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emauel Leutze (above) as well as works by other American artists such as Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins and…

this absolutely beautiful painting by John Singer Sargent. Reminds me of my favorite show, Downton Abbey. In fact, the makeup artist of the show said that she was greatly influenced by Sargent paintings… I like to think this one in particular.

Madame X also by Sargent. Stunning.

The New York Times has even posted this interactive tour of the galleries which gives you an amazingly realistic sense of walking through the space. I’d really recommend you check it out… as your duty as an American.

Now, when I think of America one of the foods I think of is macaroni and cheese. And when I think of macaroni and cheese, I immediately think of Thomas Jefferson. Although the dish most likely existed centuries before in Italy, he can certainly be credited for popularizing the dish in America. In fact, “Thomas Jefferson is known to have had a pasta maker as early as 1793 and to have served a macaroni pie at the White House in 1802.” Are you thinking what I’m thinking… what is a MACARONI PIE and where can I get some?

Below is a recipe for stovetop mac & cheese, you know, like the kind that comes in the blue box (only much better). I remember my mom used to slice hotdogs into our mac & cheese when we were younger… I thought she was a genius.



This version has been lightened up a bit and incorporates broccoli, but still remains very classic, very American, and of course very delicious.

Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese (lower fat)
adapted from skinnytaste.com

  • 12 ounces high fiber elbow or shell noodles (I used Barilla)
  • 12 ounces fresh broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

(1)  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente (or slightly under cook 2 minutes). In the last 1 minute of cooking the pasta, add the broccoli. Drain in a colander once done.
(2)  While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent. 
(3)  Whisk in flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. 
(4)  Whisk in the milk, vegetable broth and Dijon mustard, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a bubble.
(5)  Cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
(6)  Once the sauce is thick, turn heat to low, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted.
(7)  Add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. 

Makes 8 servings

The ‘Experience’

Wondering why my dear friend Alyssa looks like an extra for the next Star Trek film? Read on…

Yesterday was Alyssa’s birthday and lucky for me, she chose to spend it visiting New York City with her new fiancé Trevor and our friend Alex! It was one of the most fun, relaxing days I’ve spent in the city thus far.

First on the list was a delicious brunch at Freemans. Freemans is a bit difficult to explain. It’s a tucked away-cozy-yet-eclectic-lodge-hipster-gastropub… see what I mean? What they do have is an excellent brunch menu with an equally good drink menu. I ordered the poached eggs on top of white cheddar grits with roasted tomato and sourdough toast along with a star anise-flavored lemonade. Both were pure yum-ness. I honestly have only great things to say about Freemans. Although the brunch crowd was there in full force, we were lucky enough to be seated in the private wine room with no wait at all! Our waitress Phoebe was also just amazingly sweet. I am absolutely going back there again.

me with the birthday girl!

... and the manly men too of course

side note: what’s with this freakish weather?? 50 degrees in January is not what I imagined when I moved to New York. Back in the sweltering summer months, it seemed every New Yorker was warning me about the brutal city winter that lay ahead. ‘Winters here are so bad. They’ll make you want to hibernate indoors because every time you venture outside your eyeballs will freeze to death.’ I remember thinking ‘Oh dear… but I don’t want frozen eyeballs!’ … And yet yesterday I walked around in a silk blouse and a trench coat with not an eyeball popsicle in sight. Not to complain but where’s my snow?

Anyways, next on our list was the New Museum which currently has an exhibition called the ‘Carsten Höller: Experience.’ This is also hard to explain (or maybe I’m just really bad at explaining things). In general, it’s an adult amusement park with every art piece in the exhibition having an interactive sensory experience linked to it. The main attraction is the giant slide that goes through three floors of the museum. The wait for it was about 40 minutes long but I would say worth it… I mean, when else can you scream at the top of your lungs going down a giant steel slide?

Other installations include a mirrored carousel (beautiful to look at but not very fun to ride… too slow), a Psycho tank (sensory deprivation tank in which you float weightlessly in water, meant to mimick the Dead Sea), a fish tank in which you can stick your head underneath and watch all the fishies swim around you (my favorite!) and other works meant to stimulate/disorient your senses.

Another fun element in the exhibition were these upside-down goggles. A prism inside the goggles turns everything you see completely upside down. Quite disorienting to say the least (in fact, you have to sign a waiver before you enter the galleries) but SO MUCH FUN! We all got such a kick out of the simplest tasks, such as watching someone drop a quarter into their hands or trying to walk in a straight line, all done UPSIDE DOWN. Plus the goggles just made us look plain silly.

Hey, you look funny.... NO you look funny.

We ended up spending close to 4 hours in the museum… granted most of it was spent waiting in line for each of the activities. As you would expect, this has been a very popular exhibition and everything you do (slide, carousel, goggles, etc.) requires you to stand in a separate line. All in all though, if you know what to expect before you go there, it’s definitely a worthwhile experience. All four of us had a blast!

After the museum, we were dizzy with hunger, and just plain dizzy. So we headed uptown to one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Café Sabarsky. Attached to the Neue Galleries, Café Sabarsky is an Austrian-German café with a rich decor of dark wood-paneling and a beautiful marble fireplace. The food is fantastic but the Viennese coffee and desserts are to-die-for! I first was introduced to this place by my boss who adores the restaurant. Last night was my third time there in the past month (second time with Alyssa who requested it especially for her birthday) so you could say I kinda love this place as well.

Alyssa showin off her ring aka 'Big Sparkler'

I won’t go too much in detail over what I ate because, holy cow! this post is long… and pretty much anything you get here is guaranteed to be delicious. As long as I am there with you when you get it.

I honestly could not have wished for a better day.

Happy, Happy Birthday to Elvis!… oh yes, and to Alyssa as well. xo

8 Rivington Street (down Freemans Alley), New York, NY 10002
(212) 420.0012

New Museum
Carsten Holler: Experience (closes January 22, 2012)
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
(212) 219.1222

Café Sabarsky
1048 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10028-0111
(212) 288.0665


Siena Again-a!

Catania, Sicilia: Spring 2009

The best thing I ever did in college was to decide to study abroad. The spring semester I spent in Siena, Italy has really had an impact on my professional and personal life. Not only did it shape my passion for art but through it I also met some of my dearest friends. So I was completely overjoyed this weekend when my roommate in Italy, Laura, visited NYC from Florida this weekend! I hadn’t seen her in a year so it was wonderful to reconnect.

2.5 years later: NYC

As with every other person in our Siena program, Laura is a HUGE foodie. So of course, our weekend composed of some delicious eatings. We started off Saturday with a brunch at Poco where for $25 it’s all you can drink Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Sangrias + entrée. I ordered the Florentine Benedict (crispy arepa, spinach, poached eggs & pimento hollandaise). I love any Eggs Benedict variation and the potatoes that came with it were divine. As a warning though, the service here is not the best and there is a 1.5 hour limit to how long you can stay at the table. So once you are seated, drink up!

Afterwards we spent the day walking around the East Village up to Eataly (of course!) in the Flatiron District. But inevitably no visit with me is complete without a stop at the Met. As we meandered Central Park we eventually ended our evening looking at Duccio’s Madonna and Child (one of the most famous Sienese painters) as well as making it up to the rooftop for sunset.

As with any good friend, every reunion is a chance to reminisce over old memories as well as make some wonderful new ones. Next reunion: il Pallio 2012. Long live the Aquila!

xo Ciao Bella!

Poco NYC
33 Avenue B, NY NY
(212) 228.4461
the Met rooftop (open only until October)
1000 5th avenue, NY NY
(212) 535.7710

10 years later…

“The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt was designed by Faith Ringgold and constructed in collaboration with New York City students ages eight through nineteen. The quilt poignantly conveys the importance of communication across cultures and religions to achieve the goal of peace. Comprised of three panels, each with twelve squares on the theme of peace, the quilt will be displayed alongside several original works of art that inspired its content.”

Metropolitan Museum: The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt 
August 30, 2011- January 22, 2012

happy new year?

In fashion, September marks the beginning of a new year. A time to shed those old clothes and last year’s Louboutins in order to forge yourself a new identity. This seems highly appropriate for me these days with my new job, my new apartment, and my new designer wardrobe (hah… i wish!).

For me, September also brings about a reevaluation of sorts. Change is in air. Fall is approaching, kids have headed back to school, and last but not least, another birthday creeping up on yours truly. More so than during the New Year, during this time I find myself setting new goals and aspirations for the future. I always feel too pressured on New Year’s Eve to slap together some bogus list of resolutions (this year, I will not eat chocolate, and pick up gardening… and take ballroom dancing?!). In September, I feel genuinely inspired to create a list of priorities that hopefully will propel me into the direction of becoming a wiser, kinder person. So far the list I have compiled is thus:

(1) apply for graduate school for fall 2012… or eventually
(2) volunteer at a soup kitchen, shelter (sadly, I haven’t done this since high school)
(3) workout more regularly
(4) don’t stress out if I don’t workout regularly
(5) read more. blogs, twitters, and emails don’t count– time to get a library card!
(6) explore New York City. It’s the greatest city in the world, and now my new home.
(7) put together a kick-ass grown up wardrobe (my work clothes are waning)
(8) never be too busy for my friends
(9) never ever be too busy for my family
(10) remember that loving others starts with loving yourself  (my friend Oprah tells me everyday)

So far, the start of September has been great. I was able to visit Nashville and Murfreesboro during Labor Day weekend and boy, was it nice! First off, I stopped by Nashville Friday morning where I met up with one of my former Art History professors and then went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to meet with the director/another of my former professors. It felt like being home. It was so nice to get some professional advice as I have been quite confused about how/when/why I should apply for graduate school. Having my questions answered and my worries slightly eased has boosted me to take the plunge.

After a day in Nashville, I went to the Boro to see some of my high school friends and in particular to celebrate the engagement of my friend Morgan! There are moments when it hits me that I really am growing up, and this summer has been chock full of them.

And last but not least, I am so happy to no longer have to keep this secret: my college-roomie for all 4 years and 1/2 of the renowned Dynamic Duo, JESSIE CAPPS, is back in the states!! She made an early surprise trip back home from Ireland to surprise her brother and his fiancée! The timing could not have been more perfect. After one full year of not seeing her, we were finally reunited on Sunday morning over one of her favorite pasttimes: venti Starbucks coffee (and chai for me). Welcome Home JESSIE!

Now, I’m back in New York City having just finished the first day of my big-girl job at the Met. Today seemed completely stress-free and natural. It felt good to be back. Moving into my apartment yesterday, however, was quite an adventure! When my flight got in at 3p, I called my apartment manager to tell him that I would need someone to let me into my new place since both my roommates were out-of-town. Turns out, he’s in Costa Rica. But no problem, his replacement said he would send someone over to meet me at the building at 4p. Perfect! Fast forward to 7.30p, NO SHOW. no one but me sitting in the lobby of my apartment building with both my suitcases, my September Vogue and a growling stomach. Luckily, a middle-aged French lady in my building saw me stranded and invited me to her apartment to have some tea. Turns out she and her fellow Frenchie roommate are both artists who have lived in New York for 20+ years! We sat and chatted about art and the city while I tried to decipher their snippets of French. They were so incredibly sweet, and I will forever be indebted to their hospitality. When one of my roommates finally arrived at 10p, I bid them adieu but not before exchanging numbers. Who said this city is rude? Non moi!