Grilled Cheese Paradise at The Big Cheesy

Sampling of Grilled Cheese at The Big Cheesy

As a self-proclaimed cheese monster, one of my favorite NYC food events of the year is The Big Cheesy, a grilled cheese competition held in Openhouse‘s pop-up space in Nolita. Your $30 ticket gets you an hour of unlimited sampling of signature creations by some of NYC’s best grilled cheese shops, plus 2 beers sponsored by Goose Island and a ping pong ball to put a vote toward your favorite grilled cheese at the event.

Sons of Essex at The Big Cheesy 2013

Last year’s winner was Melt Shop with their crazy delicious bacon, aged cheddar, and cranberry onion chutney grilled cheese. Other participants from 2013 included Say Cheese (whose French onion grilled cheese I LOVED), Milk Truck (who offers my personal favorite classic grilled cheese from their truck),  Sons of Essex (whose offerings are pictured above), Lucy’s Whey, ‘wichcraft,, and Murray’s Cheese Bar.

Truffled Mushroom Grilled Cheese from La Maison du Croque Monsieur at the Big Cheesy

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Easy Avocado Toast with Sunny Side Up Egg

Cafe Gitane Avocado Toast With a Sunny Side Up Egg

If it hasn’t already been obvious based on my prior posts, there are 2 food items that I have a disproportionate amount of love for: avocados and eggs. My friends have even joked that this blog is basically just me throwing an egg on top of everything, which is partially true, and so I’m fully embracing it with this recipe for avocado toast with a sunny side up egg, a wonderful lovechild of a couple of my favorite ingredients. The beauty of avocado toast is that it’s not only packed with fiber and heart-healthy fats, it is so ridiculously easy to make that it’s a wonder I don’t start my day with it more often. While you can get fantastic versions of it from a restaurant, it’s simple enough to put together that in my opinion, you’re much better off saving some money by making it yourself. To give you an idea of how much you can save, Cafe Gitane’s avocado toast costs $7.25 for one slice of avocado toast, no egg included. Is it amazing? Yes. But can you make a similar version in your own kitchen at double the portion for half the price, plus gloriously runny eggs? Hell yes.

Cafe Gitane Avocado Toast Recipe

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Festival Season is Here! Festival Survival Tips & Where to Shop for All Your Festival Essentials

Festival Fashion - At Coachella in front of the Coachella Snail

With Ultra Music festival in Miami this weekend and Coachella fast approaching, it is officially one of my personal favorite times of year – festival season! No matter where you are in the country, there’s a good chance there’s a large-scale music festival somewhere in your neck of the woods. From Counterpoint in Atlanta to Governor’s Ball in NYC (where I’ll be!) to Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, these outdoor events bring both great music and good vibes. Sure, there are a ton of challenges, from crowds and port-a-potties (the horror!) to overpriced food (as highlighted in my guide to food at Coachella), but so long as you prepare for it right, it can definitely be a memorable weekend AND even better, a great excuse to go shopping. Festival dressing has a lot of stigma around it thanks to all the posers and wannabe hippies that trek to Coachella in their Indian headdresses and flower headbands, but at the end of the day, I can’t hate on it. At what other time do you get to wear pretty much whatever you want with little judgement? That said though, there are definitely better ways to look stylish, invoke the laid back festival vibes, and still wear something highly functional, so I wanted to highlight my top 5 places to shop for all your festival essentials with some festival outfits. Having been to plenty of festivals now, I also wanted to share some tips based on my own experiences.

Festival Survival Tips

  1. Use a cross body bag or small backpack, or if you’re really packing light, a fannypack. The last thing you want when you’re trying to enjoy yourself is worrying about carrying a handbag when you’re surrounded by 50,000 people and trying to wave your hands in the air to Outkast, so always go the hands-free route.
  2. HAND SANITIZER IS A MUST. I cannot reiterate this enough. Maybe you’re not a germiphobe like me, but those port-a-potties get disgusting and often run out of hand sanitizer. So pack some Purell or my personal go-to, Bath & Body Works Pocketbac, and even better, attach it to your bag with a glow in the dark holder so you can access it easily in the dark port-a-potty without having to dig through your bag with your germ-infested hands.
  3. Bring a large refillable water bottle or better yet, have a guy in your group wear a Camelbak hydration pack. Buying water over and over when it’s hot can easily add up, especially at festivals that price gouge it to $4-5 a bottle, so BYOWB (bring your own water bottle) and avoid that altogether.
  4. DO NOT wear a romper. I don’t care how cute you think you look. Trying to use a regular bathroom in a romper is hard enough – now think of how terrible that experience will be in a toilet paper covered port-a-potty. Bad idea. Baddddddd.
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Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cauliflower, and Goat Cheese

Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Beets Cauliflower and Goat Cheese

Let me start by saying that I’m really excited about this salad (and I do not normally get excited about salad). Like most of the recipes I post, this Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cauliflower, and Goat Cheese came as a dinner experiment that turned out pretty amazing. It’s basically everything you want in a home cooked meal: ridiculously easy to create, absolutely delicious, and somehow still healthy. The key here is the roasted vegetables, which are one of the easiest ways to take a dish to the next level. They’re incredibly simple to make – just coat your veggies with some olive oil, season, then throw them in a high temperature oven. That 30-45 minutes of baking can transform a vegetable that might taste boring or unappetizing when raw to something earthy and delicious once roasted. While I usually go to my personal favorite of brussels sprouts, I had some beets leftover from last week’s DIY juice cleanse, as well as some cauliflower from some cauliflower fried rice I made the other day. So I roasted these leftover veggies and threw them together with some other items I always keep stocked, and damn did it turn out well.

The sweetness of the roasted beets complements the creamy, tangy crumbled goat cheese, while the cauliflower adds smokiness thanks to the nice char it gets from roasting. Everything gets tossed in some balsamic vinegar to add acid and provide a full balance of flavors. Aside from taste, this salad is also packed with nutrients from the veggies to the superfood base of kale.

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Sushi Nakazawa: Forever Dreaming of Sushi Thanks to An Unforgettable Omakase Meal

Sushi Nakazawa Review - Tuna Belly, Medium Fatty Tuna Belly, Fatty Tuna Belly Toro

I first watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi about a year and a half ago as a random selection on Netflix. I had no expectations for the documentary, which profiles Jiro Ono, largely considered the top sushi master in the world. I figured, I love sushi and there seems to be critical acclaim, so why not give it a view? I didn’t know that by the time the film ended, my mouth would be watering, my stomach would be grumbling, and that a meal at a small Tokyo restaurant tucked in an underground subway station would be added to my life’s bucket list. One of the more memorable moments in the film profiles one of Jiro’s apprentices, Daisuke Nakazawa, who tells his story of learning how to make the tamago egg sushi only to fail at impressing Jiro attempt after attempt. Finally, after countless trials, Jiro gave his approval, making the apprentice cry with happiness. It’s that passion, determination, and skillful training under Jiro that led me to do anything I could to have a meal at Sushi Nakazawa, Chef Nakazawa’s very own restaurant that opened in the West Village of New York City in 2013.

For the sake of organization, I’ll recount my experience in 3 parts, focusing on the food first, then the ambiance, and finally how to score a coveted reservation.

 

1.The Food: An Unforgettable Omakase

Sushi Nakazawa Omakase at the Bar - Every Piece of Sushi I Ate (C) Moderate Indulgence

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It’s Baaack – Get FREE Macarons all over NYC on Macaron Day 2014

I wrote about Macaron Day last year, and that wonderful day is back for 2014 and fast approaching. On Thursday, March 20, stop by a participating bakery from 10AM-6PM for 1 free macaron while supplies last. The event is organized by François Payard Bakery and is designed to coincide with Jour du Macaron in Paris.

[For efficiency sake, I'm pulling the next few blurbs directly from last year's post] As described by the event’s website, a macaron is “a classic French cookie. The soft, crunchy, delicate shell is made from almond flour, sugar and egg whites, sandwiching a smooth layer of creamy ganache. ” I personally love the lightness of a macaron, and as someone who isn’t the biggest sweet tooth, macarons provide the perfect little amount of sweetness that make for a great cap on a meal or as a small afternoon treat.

Best of all, participating locations are donating a portion of proceeds made on macarons purchased on Macaron Day 2014 to City Harvest. One of the charities I regularly donate to, City Harvest takes leftover food from restaurants and uses it to feed NYC’s homeless.

Check out Macaron Day 2014′s participating locations here for your free macaron and support a great cause as well.

Choice Eatss Roundup - Distilled NY - Wings Photo via Distilled NY

Recommended Deal: Sample 70+ Restaurants & Unlimited Drinks at the Village Voice’s Choice Eats Tasting Event for 30% Off

$42 for GA Ticket to the Village Voice’s Choice Eats Tasting Event

I gave my love for the Village Voice’s annual tasting event Choice Eats in a post last year, so when I saw that they were selling tickets to this year’s event at a discounted rate, I had to snatch it up.

Now in its 7th year, the Village Voice’s Choice Eats has grown bigger than ever with a new location at Pier 36 in downtown Manhattan, a venue that allows the Village Voice to feature over 70 of their favorite restaurants in the city. The event provides unlimited tastes (while supplies last) in addition to beer, wine, and spirits, and this year’s Choice Eats even has a DJ set by Brooklyn-based indie act DIIV.

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Stylish Spring Fitness Gear: Without Walls & Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ Running Shoes

Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ Running Shoes on Maya Hayuk's Bowery Mural

Sunshine and warmer temperatures are finally making their way to NYC, which means it’s the perfect time to get outside and get active. Aside from the endorphin rush and health benefits, I personally find that a great motivator for getting in a workout is some kick-ass fitness gear. While I’ve already given love to my Nike Free 5.0‘s, which are made for colder weather, I wanted to highlight some of the new pieces picked up from Without Walls and a couple of my favorite running and training shoes: the Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ and Nike Free TR Print Fit 3.

Without Walls Printed Oversized Tank TopRunning Gear - Without Walls Tank Top Nike Flyknit Lunar 1 Nike Sportswatch
Mirrored Sunglasses (similar) | Without Walls Tank Top | Nike+ Sportwatch | Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ (Colorway no longer available)

Without Walls is a new fitness and lifestyle venture from Urban Outfitters, made for guys and gals who want to stand out from the pack when they sweat. Featuring both in-house designs and smaller fitness brands like Onzie and Newline, the curated collection from Without Walls is a dream come true for everyone from the urban street runner to the West Coast hiker. High impact prints and bold cuts are the norm, like in my new favorite oversized tank featuring low cut armholes banded with neon yellow straps and a geometric print fabric.

Without Walls Tag with Product FeaturesBest of all is that the Without Walls line isn’t just stylish, but functional. Each piece features a tag that let’s you easily see whether the garment is moisture-wicking or reflective, as my tank top was, as well as the level of support in their sports bras (like the medium support Hot Yoga Bra pictured below) and in the case of the bottoms, whether there’s a stash pocket for your keys.

Without Walls Lace Print Hot Yoga Bra

Aside from workout clothes though, the most important piece of fitness gear is definitely what goes on your feet. In case you can’t tell, I’m partial to Nike when it comes to shoes. For running, I’ve been going to my Nike Free 5.0+ shields, but now that it’s warmer, my bright Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+‘s are so so perfect. They’re incredibly comfortable thanks to cushioned bottoms, but unlike some other running shoes that have a lot of cushion, the Flyknits are unbelievably light on your feet. They don’t weigh you down, which is especially important for long runs, but they still provide a ton of stability thanks to the Flyknit technology, which wraps your foot with a breathable, supportive upper knit construction.

Nike Flyknit Lunar 2 Running Shoes

My Flyknit Lunar 1+ running shoes are technically the older version though (which is why my pink and yellow colorway is no longer available), as Nike recently released the Nike Flyknit Lunar 2‘s. The upgraded model features increased support, an even lighter construction, and feel incredible from trying them out in store. The only reason I haven’t picked them up is that I’m not so keen on the current colorways available, but if you do like any of them, I’d highly recommend picking them up if you’re looking for new running shoes. You can also get them (and anything else over $30) for $10 off + free shipping from Six:02 with the promo code LKS14M44 through 4/20/2014.

 

DIY Blueprint Cleanse – A Homemade Juice & Smoothie Cleanse Alternative

DIY Blueprint Cleanse by ModerateIndulgence.com

I had the absolute pleasure of having my wisdom teeth surgically removed on Friday night. Since I wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods and I was in enough pain as it is, I figured, why not inflict even more torture on myself by going on a juice cleanse! All joking aside, being forced to go on an all liquid diet does have its benefits. While I could have easily subsisted on ice cream and pudding for 3 days, I figured I may as well use having my teeth pulled out as as an opportunity to kick start some healthy habits, rid some toxins, and potentially shed a few pounds.

While there are countless cleanses in the market, Blueprint Cleanse is probably one of the most well-known, and I’ve heard many good things from friends. I decided that rather than shelling out a couple hundred bucks or so for the Blueprint Cleanse, I’d do a DIY Blueprint Cleanse and recreate it as more filling smoothies, giving me an opportunity to up my domestic goddess points, get more use out of my blender and mason jars, and more importantly, save some ca$hmoney. Plus, by buying the ingredients myself, I could easily create more smoothies throughout the day if I got too hungry (which spoiler alert, I somehow didn’t).

Blueprint Cleanse Renovation Cleanse

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Healthy Tomato and Tri-Color Pepper Raw Tortilla Soup

Healthy Tomato and Tri-Color Pepper Raw Tortilla Soup

I’m currently on an all liquid diet thanks to getting my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday night. While I probably could have just eaten ice cream while watching House of Cards all weekend, since I won’t be able to exercise while recovering from the surgery, I opted to go the healthy route by doing a juice cleanse instead. I plan to dedicate a separate post on my cleanse, but I wanted to highlight this Tomato and Tri-Color Pepper Raw Tortilla Soup I made that was a result of taking a small break from consuming nothing but juice. I was able to get through 2 full days of my cleanse without toooo much pain (the worst of which came from drinking a green juice while the BF ate a steak next to me. Excruciating.) By today though, I was dying for anything savory, which led to this recipe.

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