New York City 2014: Ellis Island, Bridesmaid Luncheon, and Austrian Dinner

Group Photo on Ellis Island with Manhattan in the background

Group Photo on Ellis Island with Manhattan in the background

Koen and I were finally able to visit Ellis Island! We really wanted to go last year, but because of Hurricane Sandy, the museum was closed. Koen and I visited Ellis Island with Christina and her family, Ashley, and Meredith. This was a special visit because Christina’s father’s father and grandfather (so her grandfather and great-grandfather)  entered the United States via Ellis Island and both of their names are commemorated on a plaque. Koen and I visited the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp recently, which is about leaving Europe for the United States, so we felt like we came full circle visiting Ellis Island and learning about entering the US.

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Japanese Chicken Udon Soup

Japanese Chicken Udon Soup

Japanese Chicken Udon Soup

After being in New York I was inspired to make more Japanese food. After doing some searching online, I found a great site with easy Japanese recipes! While browsing Japanese Cooking 101, I found the recipe for Chicken Udon – a Japanese chicken noodle soup. There weren’t any vegetables in the recipe, so while I was in Chinatown I picked out a leafy green to add to the soup. If you want to make this recipe, you’ll have to make a trip to an Asian grocery to find the dashi broth, Mirin, and sake. Last year when I was made soba dipping noodles, I couldn’t find dashi broth, which is a combination of katsuobushi (fermented skipjack tuna) and kombu (kelp), I bought dried skipjack tuna and made my own broth. This soup is super easy to make, healthy, and delicious!

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Indian Feast

Main ingredient for the mango chutney

Main ingredient for the mango chutney

On facebook, I saw a list from Buzzfeed of 23 Classic Indian Restaurant Dishes You Can Make At Home and immediately wanted to make everything. I chose four dishes to begin with – Mango Chutney, Raita, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Naan. I have to say that normally I cheat a bit whenever I make Indian food. I buy jars of mango chutney, raita (yoghurt cucumber sauce), a basic curry paste for which ever main course I’d like, and prepackaged naan (Indian yoghurt based bread). When I browsed the recipes they each seemed easy, but when it came time to make everything in one day I instantly regretted it. Unless you want to spend your entire afternoon cooking, you should definitely make the mango chutney 2 days before and the raita 1 day before. It will taste better anyway because the flavors can settle. If you prepare these two sides ahead of time, then you have time to focus on your main course and making the naan. All four dishes were fantastic! At least all the time and effort I put in was worth it 🙂

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Chelsea Flower Market and Rehearsal

Chelsea Flower Market

Chelsea Flower Market

I thought it was such a great idea when Christina told me that she wanted to make the bouquets and boutonnières herself for the wedding. I’ve never thought about buying flowers to arrange myself, so I was interested in visiting the Chelsea Flower Market to see what a wholesale flower market has to offer. The Market opens very early – at 5AM which is usually when professionals such as retailers and event planners stop by and closes at 11AM. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I think of a market, I think of the ones that take place during the weekend in Antwerp. At the markets I’m used to, vendors set up tables and kiosks outside in an open area and  sell their product. But the Chelsea Flower Market is basically one street filled with flower shops that specialize in certain type of plants, aka roses, exotic, potted, orchids, etc. You can browse outside the shop or in their freezing interiors (if you visit be sure to bring a sweater!) in order to find the perfect pieces to make your arrangement. We spent over an hour visiting every shop to find Christina’s dream flowers 🙂

After the Chelsea Flower Market we headed over to Brooklyn to Prospect Park for the rehearsal. Christina and Rafael were married in the Japanese Garden of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Such a lovely spot! That evening we celebrated with a rehearsal dinner at Lil Frankie’s for a delicious Italian meal. I don’t have any photos from the rehearsal dinner but maybe I’ll find some later!

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Christina’s Bachelorette Party

Beginning the day with a picnic in Central Park!

Beginning the day with a picnic in Central Park!

As I mentioned in my last post – Christina got married last month! And you can’t get married without a big party to celebrate the last days as a bachelorette. We started out at Di Palo’s to pick out delicious cheeses, meats, antipasti, etc. for a picnic in Central Park. After lunch we headed to the Central Park Loeb Boathouse for a coffee and then rented boats. Luckily we had two guys and two boats 🙂 After rowing, we visited the American Museum of Natural History, exploring Christina’s favorite sections – seeing meteorites, dinosaurs, etc. Before leaving the Upper West Side, we went for a drink at Dive 75. At dinner our number of people doubled! Because I don’t live in NYC, I turned to Christina’s now-husband Rafaël for advice. We needed a restaurant Christina loves that can hold 14 people – Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown, could not have been a better choice! Christina’s colleagues were working during the day and were able to get to the restaurant before us to set up something embarassing for Christina. It couldn’t have been better. Christina always makes funny faces in photos, and her colleagues made masks of all of her different faces haha. After our dinner, we headed to Asia Roma on Mulberry Street for karaoke!

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