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**Readers!  I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site alive while simultaneously working on something Los Angeles-centric, as well.**

Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City dining scene through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

For those of you who enjoy highly thorough and traditional restaurant reviews, you may find them located here

But that's not all!  Additionally, I...

  • ~ For tourists, I can help you create itineraries and answer any questions you may have/offer advice for your upcoming visit to NYC.
  • ~ I can consult and/or advise on all of your small and large events.
  • ~ I will assist you with restaurant recommendations.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!

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Entries in The Fashion Belle (3)

Friday
Oct052012

Embracing the fall: A Valentino "puffer" jacket + an apple festival

As we welcomed October this past Monday, I think it finally sunk in that I can no longer wear open-toed sandals - sleeveless dresses - or my beloved white jeans.  Sigh.  Summer *really* is over.  And, while I worship so many things about the warmer months in New York, to be 100% honest, this past summer royally sucked.  So, I've decided to completely embrace the fall... 

What comes to mind when you hear the word "fall?"  For me, it's:  Apples, cute boots, primary-colored leaves in the canopy of trees, 60-something degree days, and closet switch-outs.  In fact, fall in New York is one of my most favorite times of the year, second only to the spring.

Here are some items/day trips/exhibits that I'm currently "falling" for:

RED Valentino Bow-Neck Quilted Jacket  Source: saks dot comStuart Weitzman:  Spats Suede Button Knee Boot  Source: neiman marcus dot comPrada Nylon Dog Carrier  Source: neiman marcus dot comI'm *dying* to have a girl's weekend at the Bedford Post Inn, where we could take complimentary yoga classes (for hotel guests) - embrace the bounty of colorful trees - make a day trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns - and just relax!  Source: bedford post inn dot comSpend a Saturday at a fabulous orchard picking apples - and pumpkins ~  Source: time out ny dot comCheck out the Andy Warhol exhibit at The Met  Source: met museum dot org...

While most of the above are all luxury "dream" items/weekends, I've decided to take a more realistic approach:  In order to get this season properly kicked off (after all, it is the first weekend in October), some girlfriends and I are headed to Brooklyn this Sunday for an apple festival called Gala Gala Hey!

Sounds fun, no?  Actually, it's just what the doctor ordered.  I cannot think of a better way to end what has been a very emotionally draining, dramatic week.  On Thursday morning at around 8am, a beautiful young woman fell to her death from the 40th-story roofdeck of my apartment building.  My heart breaks for her family and friends, as I cannot possibly imagine the horrendous grief and heartbreak they must be going through.  Coming home (to my apartment building) from work yesterday was pretty solemn and eerie - I just wish that there was something I could do to help, if "help" is even the right word...

Wishing you all a beautiful and healthy fall weekend!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Sep142012

Fashion emergency: What is all the rage with...

..."smoking slippers?"  Personally, I prefer to smoke in my flip-flops.  I'm kiddingSort of...

OK, granted, the minimal heel and crushed velvet exterior does look super comfortable - but, really?  They're just so...Hugh Hefner.  No?  I mean, what the hell do you wear these things with and, for the love of god, who was the fashion-house asshole that deemed them 'cool?'  I seriously want to know.

Ladies/gents:  What are your thoughts on fall's hottest - or, shall I say, "hautest" - shoe?  To slipper or not to slipper, that *is* the question.

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Monday
May072012

Recap: Colette Malouf, Cinco de Derby, and one hell of a Hot Kitchen

My weekend was kicked off with a visit to Colette Malouf's pop-up shop at Henri Bendel.  Having been a fan of the designer since 2007, I was thrilled to learn that, aside from her gorgeous hair accessories collection, Ms. Malouf *also* has a line of costume jewelry! 

And for those of you who don't know?  I am a costume jewelry whore.

When I arrived at the event, I was ecstatic and star struck to see Colette - in person - explaining the intricacies of a particular hair piece to a customer.  I could hardly wait to shake her hand and gush about her gorgeous creations.  To her.  Wow!

OK, so I can't post a picture of my actual purchase, because it's a birthday present for my sister (...who will be reading this blurb the moment I publish).  However, I can show you the picture of the hair piece that one of my best friends is going to wear on her wedding day:

I urge those of you who appreciate breathtaking, hand-crafted accessory pieces and costume jewelry to go out and treat yourself to something fabulous!  Click here for store locations.

...

Later on that night, I met a friend at Diablo Royale for some pre-game Cinco de Mayo margarita action, followed by a private "Montauk summer house" meet-and-greet at Parlor.

~

On Saturday, I was able to sneak in a workout - meet my friend, Cat (...plus her mother and sister), for her wedding gown viewing - and get my hair done - all before heading to three celebratory Cinco de Mayo and/or Kentucky Derby parties...and a date. 

This was one of the funnest days I've had in all of my eight years in NYC!

~

Hot Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday was a bit of a struggle, as I spent much of it compensating for my lack of water, sleep, and nutrients from the day/night prior.  However, I managed to fit in a workout - which I'm especially proud of - considering my sloppy, hungover state (I'm currently participating in the "Flybarre Challenge," which states that you must attend 4 barre classes/week for 6 weeks.  Now in week #3, I've met my goal, thus far.  Fingers crossed that I can hang on!). 

At 2pm, I hopped on to my bike and headed to the East Village for a gluttonous lunch at Hot Kitchen, a fairly recently-opened Szechuan restaurant. 

Ever since spending time in Hong Kong, I cannot get enough Chinese food.  I go on Dan Dan Noodle benders and am constantly plotting my return to Asia.  In fact, Chinese food is fast becoming my second favorite cuisine, closely behind Mexican.  And, luckily, I have a handful of friends who are willing to forgo a traditional Sunday morning "Eggs Benedict brunch" for an authentic Szechuan lunch spread.

Sylvia and Hollywood ordered an ample array of dishes for the entire table.  Per the photos, below, I will do my best to describe each plate and its respective ingredients.  And try not to sound even whiter than I already am.  Here goes: 

Egg Drop Soup

Damn right. The white girl ordered the whitest soup on the menu, while everyone else enjoyed Hot 'n Sour. Cucumber with Scallion Sauce

Always a favorite vegetable dish of mine, these cucumbers were peeled and then cut in to the perfect bite-sized morsel. A garlicky, pristinely-salted scallion sauce enveloped each cuke.Spinach with Ginger Sauce

Served cold, dense spinach was blanketed by a minced ginger sauce that, surprisngly, did not overwhelm.Spicy Szechuan Dumplings

I'm not quite sure why the word "spicy" was tacked on, because these dumplings weren't fiery in the least. They were, however, every bit delicious and were constructed with the perfect dough-to-meat ratio. The pork filling was among the best I've ever had.Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles are, probably, one of my top 5 favorite foods of all time. Hot Kitchen's version was tasty, though I found the dish to contain too much liquid. Cafe China and Wu Liang Ye still tie for first place.Szechuan Steamed Pork Bun

Within this soft, delicate bun lay a mound of shredded pork that was bound by a lightly sweet, tangy sauce.Pork Soup Dumplings

I honestly don't think I've ever met a soup dumpling that I did not like. And this version was no exception. Both filling and broth were excellent, though I would have preferred a bit less dough mass on the top of the dumpling.Szechuan Wontons with Red Oil

This was probably my favorite appetizer of the bunch. I LOVE spicy red oil, especially when crowned by pillowy, handmade pork wontons.Scallion Pancakes

Light, buttery, and chock full of scallions, these pancakes were the perfect interlude to our heavier entrees.Ma Po Tofu

At first bite, I - a self proclaimed salt fanatic - found this dish too salty. However, when spooned over sticky white rice, the sauce/gravy was perfectly balanced. We chose to add pork to our version, and it was excellent (aside from the fact that I don't eat tofu). Assorted Spicy Wok 

Chock-full of beef, chicken, sausage, beef tripe, shrimp, squid, and veggies, by the time this tray reached my end of the table, all that was left was chicken and veggies. Fine by me! I loaded up on lotus root and daikon.Because I was eating as if it were my last meal on death row, I simply *forgot* to snap pictures of our additional dishes and entrees:  Hot & Sour Soup, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Sauteed Spinach with Garlic, Beef Tripe with Minced Pickle Pepper, Beef Tendon with Spicy Peppery Sauce, Cumin Beef and, my personal favorite, the Chongqing Spicy Chicken.  The latter knocked my socks off and was so damn good, that it's worth a return visit in and of itself.

While we ordered enough food to feed a small Caribbean island, each of us only paid $43.  And that price included tax/tip, 2 bottles of wine, and a crap load of beers.

Hot Kitchen is definitely worth a visit and, in my case, a return visit.  Plus, the space is large enough to seat big-ish parties, and the atmosphere/decor will not insult your snobby mother or your waspy friends.

...

And, as if I had any more room in my stomach, I met my dear friend from college, Devon, for dinner at Markt.  Literally, a mere 3 hours after my lunch at Hot Kitchen! 

Gluttony and over indulgence aside, I had an outstanding weekend.  And I hope that you did, too!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle