Category Archives: USA

NYC – Exploring Long Island

After dinner in Manhatten I took the train to Long Island and though I’m generally very comfortable navigating around NYC, the construction at the train station threw me off and I ended up on an express train to Long Island!  My friend had to rescue me and thankfully I was only three stops from where I was supposed to get off. Oops!

That evening we went for a night out in Brooklyn, where my love for NYC truly lies.

"The Night Awaits" - Long Island, NYC

“The Night Awaits” – Long Island, NYC

"Spread The Love" - Brooklyn, NYC

“Spread The Love” – Brooklyn, NYC

The next few days I spent exploring Long Island, and while very suburban I still found had plenty of character.  A big, sprawling burrow with big box stores and shopping malls, the quiet neighbourhoods were lined with beautiful, charming houses – not the mansion like monstrosities that have taken over my hometown city but unique, sometimes fancy, sometimes cozy homes.  We took my friend’s kid to a small, local fair that had clothes, jewelry, craft and food stands and even a small animal farm.  While my friend took her kid for a ride on a mini pony, I poked my nose around the food stalls to see what looked interesting to eat.

"Time for a Ride?" - Long Island, NYC

“Time for a Ride?” – Long Island, NYC

I tried a cod fritter for the first time and ohmygod it was yummy!  The batter was crispy and bit spicy and the cod inside was sweet and juicy – ohhh yeah I could have had seconds, thirds – a whole handful for sure!  But – I wanted to see what else l could sample.

Cod Fritter - Long Island, NYC

Cod Fritter – Long Island, NYC

I also ate coco bread for the first time.  Another ohmygod moment – how have I never had coco bread?!  This sweet and fluffy bun complimented the spicy jerk chicken perfectly.  I need more coco bread in my life, period.

Jerk Chicken & Coco Bread - Long Island, NYC

Jerk Chicken & Coco Bread – Long Island, NYC

On my last day in NYC my friend took me down to Baldwin Bay, which reminded me of a quieter South Street Seaport.  We spend the afternoon strolling along the waterfront on this beautiful but chilly spring day.

Baldwin Bay - Long Island, NYC

Baldwin Bay – Long Island, NYC

Finally, no trip to NYC is complete until we have our Swiss Chalet dinner.  Back when we were students my friend and I would always order the infamous Canadian go-to comfort food – rotisserie chicken from Swiss Chalet.  So, whenever I visit her I stock up on packets of instant Chalet sauce and chicken marinade that can only be found in Canada – a nice little reminder of home.

A Homemade Swiss Chalet Dinner - Long Island, NYC

A Homemade Swiss Chalet Dinner – Long Island, NYC

I’m always so sad when I say goodbye to my friend.  I love how easily we reconnect after all these years but it’s still hard to leave, especially after such an awesome trip.  Until next time NYC!

New York – A Day In Manhattan

Over the years I’ve visited New York more than any other city and it feels like a second home to me.  My best friend from university used to live in Brooklyn, which I quickly grew to love, but has since moved to Long Island to raise her family so I only had a day to hang out in the city.

I’ve wandered the streets of Manhattan so many times that now my photographic challenge is to try to capture something new.  Discover a different angle, find some subtle detail along these busy streets – there is so much character in this city that I can’t help but pull out my camera.

"Highlights" - Time Square, Manhatten, NYC

“Highlights” – Time Square, Manhattan, NYC

I arrived bright and early and headed straight to the MOMA to check out the Bjork exhibit.  I was so excited to be able to catch the exhibit before it closed!  As a long time Bjork fan, I found it fascinating to learn about her life as I walked through each of the album installations.  From lyrics and costumes, to her videos and props the exhibit was really well done and I appreciated the different types of visual experiences that were put together.

Bjork exhibit at the MOMA

Bjork exhibit at the MOMA

As I wandered slowly up towards the Upper East side for lunch, I came upon this acrobatic troop.  You never know what you’ll find in the streets of Manhattan!

"Jump" - Manhatten, NYC

“Jump” – Manhattan, NYC

"Jump Around" - Manhatten, NYC

“Jump Around” – Manhattan, NYC

I was struck by the detail on this temple which I tried to highlight with stark contrast.  The air was crisp and cool that day, which I feel also comes across in this photo.

"Temple Emanu-El" - Upper East Side, Manhatten, NYC

“Temple Emanu-El” – Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

As I continued my relaxing stroll near Central Park I looked up an noticed some spring cherry blossoms overhead.

"In Bloom" - Upper East Side, Manhatten, NYC

“In Bloom” – Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

I love taking photos of doors and gates, it’s such a simple photo but can say so much about the history of a place.  I noticed this gate while passing the Frick Collection, which I still have to visit – next time.

The Frick Collection, Manhatten, NYC

The Frick Collection, Manhatten, NYC

"Bang On The Wood", Upper East Side, Manhatten, NYC

“Bang On The Wood”, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

The devil is in the details and it’s subtle in this next photo, but I liked how I captured the small bird in the left hand corner alongside the bird relief sculptures on the side of this building.

"Birdhouse", Upper East Side, Manhatten, NYC

“Birdhouse”, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

After a long walk, I made my way to Candle 79 for lunch.  I was on a detox, which normally would have seemed impossible to maintain while visiting NYC, but I was determined to stick to it and was sure I could find some interesting vegetrian food in this city filled with culinary delights.  I ordered a lemon ginseng iced tea which was light, very refreshing and just slightly sweet.  For lunch I had a black bean sweet potato burger with tempeh bacon and tapioca cheese.  The burger was a bit mushy but had great flavour and came with an addictive spiced aioli.  The tempeh was smokey and the tapioca cheese was amazing!  Smooth and oozy it tasted just like Monterey Jack cheese – I have to learn how to make it!

Candle 79, Upper East Side, Manhatten, NYC

Candle 79, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

Later that afternoon, I made my way downtown and wandered around Chelsea before meeting my friend for dinner.  I love exploring all the funky clothing stores and cozy markets hidden away among the old industrial buildings.

"The Writing's On The Wall" Chelsea, Manhatten, NYC

“The Writing’s On The Wall” Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC

My friend took me to Eataly – Mario Batali’s market and eatery.  I’ve been to one of his restaurants before and admittedly was not that impressed, but this market blew my mind!  I wanted to explore all vinegars, oils, cheese and meat counters but we were pressed for time so we settled down for dinner at the back open restaurant area.

Eataly - Manhatten, NYC

Eataly – Manhattan, NYC

The minestrone soup was simple, full of fresh flavour with a nice citrus zing.  I loved the charred greens with pine nuts and balsamic vinegar below – the creaminess of the pine nuts went perfectly with the smoky greens and sweet, rich vinegar.

Minestrone Soup, Eataly - Manhatten, NYC

Minestrone Soup, Eataly – Manhattan, NYC

Charred Greens with Pine Nuts and Balsamic, Eataly - Manhatten, NYC

Charred Greens with Pine Nuts and Balsamic, Eataly – Manhattan, NYC


Brioche in Brooklyn

Scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche

Scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning scouring the internet for cheap flights to NYC, I’m reminiscing about the last time I was in the Big Apple.  The city that never sleeps feels like a     second home to me, and it’s nice to know that I can skip all the tourist traps and focus my attention elsewhere.  Besides visiting my dear friend from university, I also love to discover new places to stuff my face, shop for vintage clothes and check out the latest MOMA exhibit.  I used to be swept away by all the celebrity restaurants in Manhatten, but during my last visit I took Brooklyn by storm.  From the flea market of food that is Smorgasburg to the infamous fried chicken at the Brooklyn Bowl, I placed some serious effort into filling my belly with the best of this borough.  The most memorable brunch I ate however, was hidden away in a little nook in Prospect Heights called 606 R&D.  Their scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche was a fistful of savory protein balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the onions and fresh bun.

Brioche has definitely claimed a place in my top five fave breads (along with croissants, baguettes, bagels and Persian barbari flatbread) and my taste buds dance whenever the buttery flakiness takes hold of a burger or is turned into French toast.  This French bread, along with croissants belong to a subgroup of leavened delights called Viennoiserie a term that originated from Austria and literally means “things of Vienna”.  Viennoiseries are baked breakfast goods or snacks that are made in the same way as bread but have more of a pastry-like quality due to the sinful additions of cream, eggs and higher quantities of sugar, milk and butter.  While I’ve made homemade bread successfully, I had never attempted brioche.  I turned to my baking bible – Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  The recipe looked intimidating, but I was feeling patient and in the mood for a baking project.  Most of the time is spent waiting on the dough, with roughly two hours of actual prep, so the process is actually pretty relaxing and ultimately very satisfying.

One should note that you do need to chill the dough overnight, so this is a good baking project for a lazy weekend.
As with any baking, a kitchen scale is essential, and while my mother kneaded bread by hand, my Kitchen Aid mixer is a blessing and my baking in general has improved since I started using an electric mixer.
I didn’t have brioche molds, so I used 3 (x 6) muffin tins and even though they turned out more muffin like in appearance – they are all brioche in taste and texture.
In the second part of the recipe, what you will essentially be molding out of the larger piece of dough is a mini bean bag chair for the smaller piece to sit in, and this, when baked will result in the classic brioche shape.

I was quite pleased with the final product!  My “muffin” brioche tasted sweet, rich and was puffy with a golden, flaky crust, just as I remembered from my Brooklyn brunch brioche.  Now that I can make my own brioche, I can’t wait to start creating some breakfast sandwiches, the possibilities are endless!  To be continued…

Martha Stewart's brioche

Martha Stewart’s brioche

Martha Stewart's Brioche

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 day 3 hours 42 minutes
Servings 18 brioche muffins


  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups 9 ounces bread floor, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup 5 ounces pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter cold, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
  • 4 large eggs cold, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil for plastic wrap


Part 1:

  1. Make the dough: In a medium bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water; stir with a fork until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 2 ounces bread flour; stir until well combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk and bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 hour.
  2. Place remaining 7 ounces bread flour and the pastry flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the butter, eggs, sugar, and the dry milk, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture; beat on low speed for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in salt; beat on medium speed until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; immediately place in freezer for 30 minutes (to prevent the dough from rising too quickly). Remove from freezer; punch down dough in bowl. Fold sides into the center, and invert, so dough is smooth side up. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 10 hours or overnight.

Part 2:

  1. Butter 3 x small muffin tins and set aside. Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces. Working with a few pieces at a time (returning the rest of the dough to the refrigerator), divide each piece in two, making one twice as big as the other.
  2. One a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece into a round ball using the cupped palm of your hand. Press your thumb into the center of the ball to form a deep well. Then rotate your thumb to widen the hole. Shape the smaller piece into a teardrop. With lightly floured fingers, press the tip of the teardrop gently into the bottom of the hole. Place in a prepared mold. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Drape the dough pieces with a well-oiled piece of plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, nondrafty place until fully doubled in bulk for 1-3 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.
  5. Just before baking, brush dough gently but generously with the beaten egg. Place tins in center of oven, and bake until deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove brioches from muffin tins, and cool on wire rack.

What are some of your favourite breads, or Viennoiseries?