Grocery Shopping: Under $15 Haul

Another grocery shopping haul. This time it is under $15 ladies and gentlemen!

I know i know it may sounds a lil bit expensive especially for those of you non New Yorkers but like i said on my prev post, this only applies for NY state or NYC in general. Adjust on where you currently live.

Yours Truly ๐Ÿ™‚


Christila Utomo met: Nigella Lawson

She is the reason why I am always excited every time I enter my kitchen.

She is the reason why I glued to the TV at night when I was still in school back then — until both mom and pop scolded me and told me to go to bed.

She is the reason why sometimes in the middle of the night I snack on leftovers (and I mean by snacking meaning not just reheat and eat the leftovers; i even boil the pan and make something new out of it LOL).

She is the reason why I feel like I am enjoying life to the fullest even tho some people closed to me resent my habit (and by resent meaning like they tell me what I am doing is wrong and I should change it a.s.a.p).

She is… well… without her I don’t think my love for food would ever be the same.

If you’re guessing Rachael Ray well you are wrong (even tho I am also a fan of Rachael and I alreadyย met her as well).

Her nickname is domestic goddess. And yes, her name is also a name of a plant too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yeap, she is Nigella Lawson.

Long story short, last wednesday 11/4/15 was the day when Nigella hold a book signing at Barnes and Noble UWS location. I was already informed about this event since a month ago and I already put it in my reminder but soon enough I forgot about it. Not until like days before Nov 4th came that I actually remembered about the event. talk about getting reminded early in the morning from my phone LOL. So I contacted B&N representative about the event and as soon as I got out of work, I rushed thru the subway and told myself that if I ever gonna be late then this is gonna be MTA’s fault.

luckily I arrived there like 15 mins before 7. ๐Ÿ˜€

I was indeed surprised that I could actually get a seat consider it was already 95% full but then I learned something: not everyone sitting there are a fan of Nigella or are buying Nigella’s book. a guy next to me used the seat to actually listened to the free 10 mins intro from Nigella herself and as soon as the line for signing was opened, he left. owwkay!

Event began at 7.05 ish and she gave a lil bit of intro about her latest cookbook called “Simply Nigella”. She also answered some of the questions from the audience (unfortunately she did not answer mine; quite possibly b/c my question was pretty much the same as other people — stupid me should have think harder!) and she also shared some unique trivia about herself.


The book signing line moved quite slow because she actually took her time to answered some of the questions asked by the fans while she signed the book and she also offered the fans to actually take a picture with her. what a sweet lady indeed!

I decided to wait a lil bit before I actually joined the line (mind you this B&N location was not as big as UES or Union Square so it was kinda cramped) and boy was it a very good decision as i could relax my feet without having to complain later on lol.

As usual, if i have a chance to meet someone that I really adored then i will always prepare questions for that person. I don’t know if it is the euphoria or nervousness or what, as soon as I handed the book for her to signed, boom, i could only remember some things! ๐Ÿ˜›


I took a pic with her before she signed the book and for some reason she was quite interested with my unusual name. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I told her how she had inspired me to cook ever since I watched her show on TV and I had to spill some secret about a family member who was quite a picky eater — to which she responded in a class way of course. She gotย excited when I told her I also loved lemon meringue pie but just could not make a good one — just like her ๐Ÿ˜€


All in all, meeting Nigella was one of my bucket list and I am so happy that I could finally fulfill it. I have read the book and I was so pleased with the selection of the recipes — i even already favorited some of the recipes and I swear to myself I have to master them at least by next year. And oh, if you are a health concern then do not worry ; some of the recipes are gluten free friendly. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours Truly ๐Ÿ™‚

Things That I Love: URBANSPACE

Way before I moved to New York City, I always knew that this city offers something different when it comes to food fair and distinctive cuisines. I know that NYC is one the most vibrant city in the world — hence the nickname ‘truest melting pot on earth’. If you don’t believe me, just go to Queens county especially around Jackson Heights and Elmhurst area. Or if you are the one who loves looking for something different, then pay a visit to Brooklyn and you will know what I mean.

If i ever write a book about New York City and its’ culinary feast, guaranteed it’ll be as thick as a Bible.

Okay, back to what I am going to write about…

After those dreaded winter days, we New Yorkers are always looking forward for spring and summer. When the temperature is nice and hot, we like to indulge in all those foods at the vendors or pop up markets located in Manhattan. Tasting all different varieties of cuisines from around the world together with a cold beer or sangria or lemonade or whatever cold drinks we can get. And yes, thank you so much for Urbanspace NYC.

Read more about Urbanspace here.

Urbanspace is a pop up food vendors that open during spring and summer for certain period of times in Manhattan. What I love about Urbanspace is that there is no limitation when it comes to the food they offer; whether you wanted a nice to-go gelato or arancini balls or you wanted to splurge your taste bud in a nice piping hot pad thai with yummyย tacosย then this is your place to go. There are several locations in Manhattan and they are mostly in the very accessible plus touristy areas. However, mind you that Urban space does not last long — mostly around one to two months so you gotta make sure to follow their Facebook or Twitter or their website for further information.

Oh yes, I just remember they actually held holiday markets in two locations sometime in the fall till before Christmas so if you are planning to visit NYC in November and December and want to experience this then make sure you mark your calendar ๐Ÿ™‚

I have visited 3 of the Urban space markets this past few months and each market offers different varieties of vendors even though later on i could see the same vendors again at the other Urban space locations. The first one is the Urban Space Garment District held from May 4th till June 14th 2015. I got back at least three times because I was so in love with Arancini balls from Arancini bros and the lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound.



Ragu and Nutella Arancini


Nutella arancini. THIS IS THE BOMB!


Ragu arancini


Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. DELICIOSO!!!


Okay, the ragu arancini from Arancini Bros was delicious but the Nutella Arancini was way more than delicious — IT WAS F**KINGLY AWESOME! I mean, seriously, when you bite on that arancini, the nutella chocolate just melt in your mouth together with the sweetness of cinnamon that coated the outer part of the rice balls. When typing this, I feel like calling Arancini Bros and tell them to deliver those balls every single day to my apartment. I forgot how much they costs per piece but I bought half dozen arancinis for around $12 ish. I know it’s a little steep for a small rice balls but trust me — once you bite one you want another one and another and another … ๐Ÿ™‚

As a lobster fan I am very critical when it comes to lobster roll. Lobster roll is one of the comfort food that I can’t have every single day because of the price (around $13 to $15 even $19 in some places). Well i know it is expensive because it is lobster meat anyway but I am always upset when a lot of place shouted something like “we have the best lobster roll” when in reality it shouted different things. Either they don’t put enough meat inside the warm toast roll or they don’t season the lobster meat. When I saw the Red Hook Lobster Pound booth, I was so excited I feel like hugging the lady behind the counter LOL. The lobster meat was so good and delicious; perfectly seasoned and cooked and best of all — they were not stingy with the portion. Finished eating it in like 5 minutes but for $15 and the quality, it was very worth it.

The second Urbanspace market that I went to was the one in Flatiron called Madison Square Eats. Seriously speaking, this one was the least of my favorite because of the size of the market and it got super cramped during the night time. However, because of the Teresita Fernandez exhibition held nearby so I decided to just go there and tried the Asian Hot Dog by Asiadog.


Ginny Hot Dog by Asiadog. $5

The Ginny Hot Dog has beef frank with kim chi and nori inside. I added a little bit of kick — which is the sriracha chili sauce. Actually without the sauce it was already delicious but I was just in the mood for some spice that night. Who knew that kimchis can actually increased the nom-nom factor inside a hot dog?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The third location (and by all means it is still open till July 26th 2015) is the Broadway Bites located at the intersection of 33rd Street and Broadway. I love this location because it has this feeling of ‘summer food markets’ in the big city.ย I tried summer rolls from Two Tablespoons (which surprisingly were vegetarian rolls and were so good) and homemade lemonade by Renegade lemonade (pictured here).


Summer rolls from Two Tablespoons : Tofu and Quinoa with Almond Sauce and Lentils, Beets and Goat Cheese.

I am not a vegetarian but I love eating lots of vegetables and enjoy them in every type of food — especially rolls. So when I looked at Two Tablespoons booth and saw how they prepared the rolls, I just had to try them. I got lentils, beets, and goat cheese rolls and also the tofu, quinoa, and almond sauce rolls. The lentils rolls was kinda unique especially with the goat cheese but the tofu, quinoa, and almond sauce was even way better. that one was definitely the winner rolls for me. And yes, kudos to Two Tablespoons because they really packed the rolls with lots of vegetables. With 2 rolls for $7.50 those rolls were definitely worth the bucks. And if you don’t like rolls then they have the summer salad too. Vegetarian or not, you will definitely like this one. I think I am going back to try their sweet corn with coconut and curry sauce — i have a feeling that is also gonna be good! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, are you dying to munch on those delicious rolls?! Then go to the nearest Urban Space market and taste all the foods and drinks before they run out of time.

P.S.: updated as per 7/20/2015 Urban Space Broadway Bites is still open until 7/26/2015 from 11 AM to 9 PM.
How to get there: 34TH Street Herald Square B,D,F,M,N,Q,R trains (close by), 34TH Street Penn Station 1,2,3 trains also NJ transit, LIRR, Amtrak train (2-5 minutes of walking), NJ PATH trains (close by), uptown M5 and M7 buses (close by)

Yours Truly ๐Ÿ™‚

Randomly Random: June Diary

Lately i have been under the radar.

this lazyness strucks me faster than the thunderbolt.

there is the urge of writing something here but alas, i always forget to do it.

plenty of pictures and stories waiting to be told and shared but for some reason i don’t have the energy to just jolt down a paragraph or two.

could it be fatigue? Who knows!

Anyway, just gonna write down small post here. And trust me, you don’t want to scroll down and read the rest of it.

Some of my friends asked me questions like:

what’s it like living and working in NYC?

boy, you must be enjoying life like the gals from Sex and the city!? Right?

Does your apartment look like the one i have always seen in sitcoms like Friends or Seinfeld?

Et cetera et cetera…

to answer those questions:

1. Living and working in NYC is pretty much the same like when i used to live back in Asia. Except with the expensive living cost, then i’d say there’s not much significant change. Sure NYC has its’ own niche and ghetto but i guess it is the same like any other big cities around the world. I have had the taste of living in 3 different boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Even Manhattan has its own sketchy neighborhood which i try to avoid. Melting pot is what i always like to describe NYC as you can find all types of languages, ethnicities, cuisines here. If you want great Southern foods then Harlem has some of the best soul food restaurants. If you want authentic Italian cuisines then some restaurants in ย Little Italy in Manhattan and some parts of Brooklyn have them. Or if you are in the mood for Southeast Asian snacks and savories then look no further as Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst in Queens have the best restaurants cater to those who are a devout fan of Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, And Thai cuisines. (And after this the list goes on and on and on). What about working? Well i can only say for myself that works in education so i guess for me it’s pretty challenging yet sorta relaxing because i don’t have to work 7 days a week. Income is not the best one (yet) but i can still save and survive. Yes i live in one of the most expensive city in the world but i guess it depends on how well you manage yourself. I know somebody with a 80K income barely able to save yet there’s a person with around 40K but she can still save and even go on vacation once a year.

2. Well tbh, i am not a worshipper of Sex and the city series so truthfully i do not live the lifestyle of Carrie and the gang. Yes i have seen episodes of SATC (heck i even saw the movie lol) but if you are assuming that i always go to Saks or Barneys and always dine at Per Se / La Bernardin / Nobu / budakan then you are wrong. Yes i used to live in the prime Upper West Side area but i did not act or shop like Carrie. I will save for a nice dinner/lunch at a fancy restaurant but i’ll do that ONLY for special occasion. As for shopping, i’ll shop at Saks or Bloomingdales once in a blue moon but only because they’re on sale or after i have saved enough money. Otherwise, i’m always happy with H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, and sometimes GAP. I even found good deals at Target and JC Penney. No Macy’s? I love Macy’s but i just hate shopping at their herald square location. For some reason, i always have a headache whenever i go there. Lol. And ooh, i love my Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Coach. I normally wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to get one or two handbags or simply wait till they have end of season sale. If other plan fails, Century 21 is the best bargain. Sure they don’t have the best collection when it comes to bags but look for the designer shoes! I found my Calvin Klein boots and Cole Haan flats there, were 70% off and everybody complimented them.

3. If you are saying whether my apartment resembles Monica or Joey apartments in Friends then you are so wrong, my friends! The type of apt like Monica (2BR,1Bath,balcony,big livingroom, separate kitchen) in West Village is more likely to costs you $4-5,000 per month. Hurts?!? Sure! But that’s the reality. I used to rent a 2BR in Astoria Queens and i paid $1,000 ย /month. That was 4 years ago. After a while, i rented a studio in UWS and i paid $1,700/month. Sucks? Well i coped for just under 3 years before i moved to my current place. A big almost resemble 1BR studio with lots of ventilation, 2 closets, big kitchen, and big bathroom. It costs less than $1,500 but i have to commute at least 30 mins to work. Sad? A little. But it works fine with me. Yes i don’t live in the city but i’m perfectly fine. Like i said, NYC isn’t cheap but it is doable if you know how to do it. The closer your apt to the city, the more you’ll have to pay.

So that’s it, guys! I hope you enjoy this “short” post and i’ll see you on my other writing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yours Truly ๐Ÿ™‚