NY Trip Highlights

Here are some favorites from last week's annual birthday/Christmas shopping trip to New York:

Bakeries

I have been eating a bland diet since September and fully planned to indulge after CIM. I may not have been able to finish the race, but I was determined to reward myself for months and months of training.

My number one goal was to visit as many bakeries as possible. I can't remember all the names of the bakeries I dropped in to, but the ones that stand out are:

Minamoto Kitchoan A Japanese bakery with the best wafer cookies and jelly candies. It was so good that I visited two days in a row. I am eating my last vanilla wafer as I write this. Thank goodness they have a San Francisco location!

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Two Little Red Hens My cousin had been raving about this place ever since she got her birthday cake from here in June. The Apple Pie is the freshest apple pie that I've ever had – and it had lots of crust (my favorite).

Since pies are my favorite kinds of dessert, I also had the Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie, which was pretty darn good too. I also tried their biscuits which weren't as good as Clinton Street Baking Company’s, but still delish!

Laduree

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I first tasted the infamous Laduree macaroons in Paris back in September 2007. Since then I have visited their web site many times and contemplated having some FedEx'd to me. They are *that good*.

When I heard they finally opened their first (and only) US location I was determined to visit.

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The 4+ years was worth the wait and I was thrilled to be reunited with it. I got a box of 8 and would have to say that the Coconut and Coffee macaroons are my favorites.

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Restaurants

I fully admit to eating my way through the town. I think I ate at just as many restaurants as I did bakeries. The ones worthy of mentioning are:

Dos Toros When I was here this past Spring, we went all over the City searching for a decent place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and found nothing. In fact, we ended up having sushi instead – on Cinco de Mayo!

A friend of mine told me about Dos Toros - a taqueria started by two Bay Area brothers. I had a chicken burrito, which was not greasy or messy at all. And the guac was among the freshest I’ve ever tasted. Definitely “California-worthy.”

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Locana Verde We ate here after visiting the 9/11 Memorial. It's an Italian restaurant that is owned by Robert de Niro. The food was amazing, but we had heard that their hot chocolate was among the top rated in the City.

We perused the dessert menu and was disappointed not see it listed. Turns out that you just had to ask for it! It was served with 2 huge marshmallows and did not disappoint.

Ippudo It's no secret that I love ramen. My Bay Area runner friends and I have had many a post-run meal at Genki Ramen in San Francisco’s Richmond District. I had a hard time believing that any place would be better than Genki, but I was proven wrong.

Ippudo > Genki.

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{those are ramen noodles under the bar glass}

Like at Genki, I had a veggie-based ramen. In addition to the usuals, it also had pieces of the type of nori that is wrapped around cone sushi (sorry, I think only my Hawai'i friends will understand this). It was a nice add of a different kind of flavor.

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You could also order an extra plate of ramen noodles, which I did (of course). You know you’re at a good Asian restaurant when the place is filled with Asians and this Asian gives it 5-stars.

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{i don't eat pork buns but i heard they are good}

Good ambience too.

Woodbury Common Outlets

On my birthday, we went to the Woodbury Common Outlets located outside of the City. My favorite stores were:

Lululemon Outlet You can't be surprised about this. I first visited this Lulu Outlet last year. For an outlet, I was so impressed with the wide selection of items in all sizes. The prices were significantly cheaper than current retail value and I was able to stock up on pants, and jackets, which are typically the higher priced items.

This year, the selection wasn't as good. There were only dance and yoga products, no running gear. Also, there was a limited selection of smaller sized items. I just picked up a few yoga items and that was it. Still exciting to visit though!

AG Jeans I first visited the AG Jeans Outlet during my first Woodbury trip back in 2005. On that trip, I got some Sam & Bailey AG Jeans for $30. Yes, $30. Retail price on AG Jeans are about 5 times that amount.

It just so happened that I was wearing one of the Sam & Bailey jeans during this visit, which the salesperson noticed as soon as I walked in. I knew I was in good hands. Any girl will tell you that shopping for jeans can be a long, tiring and possibly stressful process.

I explained to the salesperson exactly what I looking for. She set me up in a dressing room and brought me pair after pair of jeans to try on. I didn’t have to search for anything myself! There were two pairs that I was happy with and was out of there within 30 minutes! It was the most painless jeans shopping experience ever.

Kate Spade The Kate Spade Outlet had a 90% off sale. Repeat – 90% off. At first we went crazy and compelled to buy something just because it was discounted so much. But then we decided that we shouldn't force ourselves to buy something just because it was "such a great deal." We ended up not buying a single thing from this store, which was a big deal for me - I feel like I've evolved as a shopper. :)

Other Highlights:

The 9/11 Memorial

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The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular I fully admit to falling asleep during the show. The Rockettes were fun to see, but the Nutcracker storyline bores me every time and automatically makes me zzzzz.

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{treated myself to a rockettes cupcake from magnolia bakery}

Shops at Bryant Park They reminded me of the Christmas markets in Europe and it was fun to watch the ice skaters at the free ice rink.

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The Tree I guess I have to mention the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. It's a must-see but to be honest, it's kinda ugly up close during the daytime...

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...and is way too crowded to be at in the evening.

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