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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food and travel website that views various dining scenes and destinations through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated thirty-something.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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My delicious calendar
  • 12/15: brunch at Friducha
  • 12/15: Kevin's holiday party
  • 12/17: Bill's Townhouse
  • 12/24: Christmas Eve in Long Island
  • 12/24-12/30: Miami
  • 1/10: dinner at Zavo
  • 2/11-2/18: Zurich & St. Anton am Arlberg
  • 2/23: NYJL Winter Ball
  • 4/12-4/14: Sarah's bachelorette party
  • 4/24-4/28: LA & Jackson's bar mitzvah in SF
  • 6/21-6/23: Sarah's wedding
  • 8/14-8/19: San Diego
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Need more streamlined advice?  Shoot me an email with your specific requests:  Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.

Entries in This and that and everything else (45)

Tuesday
Dec222015

I quit my job...and I'm going to culinary school!

Dear readers,

Happy holidays!  Can you believe it's already "that time of year" again? 

About a month prior to my move to LA, I decided to "start fresh" and create a brand new, California-centric blog called Beverly Hills Bites (as opposed to writing about my new West Coast adventures on my East Coast-born/raised website, The Lunch Belle).  In hindsight, this wasn't the best idea (leaving The Lunch Belle in limbo), as I had spent 7+ years building the site from scratch.  Literally!  Not to mention the email addresses, business cards, contacts, etc. associated with the name.  It wasn't until a friend of mine asked why I would "just throw all of that hard work away and start something new" that I decided to revert back to solely writing on The Lunch Belle.  Plus, with the exception of a handful of LA event/restaurant pitches, I continued to be contacted by NYC public relations agencies and restaurateurs on a daily basis. 

For the past 1.5 years (time that I've been in LA), I have struggled with content - especially Los Angeles-related content.  Blame it on my homesickness for NYC, or being underwhelmed/unstimulated/uninspired in LA - or a mix of both.  Honestly, it wasn't until very recently that I began working with and showcasing NYC contributors to fill the void and keep my site and content somewhat fresh.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have to be in a very specific mood/mindset to write - even something as simple as a recipe!  And, while I consider myself to be a generally happy person, I have felt completely lost.  So, you can understand why my writing has slowly dwindled; hell, I'm lucky if I can publish even one post/week (that would be a very good week, by the way)! 

In terms of being surrounded by great friends and family, I am blessed with an amazing - and quite large - group of people in my life.  I have a roof over my head and all of the "things" that anyone could ever want/need.  I am fully aware of how lucky I am!  The big issue that I've been struggling with is my career.  While the financial services industry has been very good to me, there just really isn't much any room for growth in my role (Executive Assistant) in terms of moving to a different/higher position within the bank/institution.  I have felt completely trapped and pigeon-holed for such a long time (for the better half of 10-years, to be exact), and I kind of feel like I've overstayed my welcome.  I have slowly become that angry, bitter employee with a fuse about as tiny as a fruit fly. 

Things came to a head last month with an amalgamation of crap.  After having a conversation with my family who, quite literally, talked me off of a ledge, my sister chimed in with, "Dude, why don't you go to culinary school?"  She was right.  Learning how to cook in a professional kitchen was the missing link in my culinary education.  After all, I graduated from college with a BS in Restaurant/Hotel/Institutional Management and spent a year in the NYU Food Studies Program (until I dropped out to move to LA), so I had the "classroom portion" down. 

And so...Beginning on February 10th, I will be a full-time culinary student in the heart of my beloved Manhattan (I am so excited that I can hardly breathe)!  While I don't have an immediate response to "What do you want to do when you graduate?", I do know that this is the best decision I've made in a very long time.  The unknown is both scary and exciting but, this time, it just feels right. 

In the last few weeks, I have enthusiastically shared my news with friends and family - gave notice to my apartment's leasing company - quit my job - secured a sublet from one of my best friends - lined up a few internships - and booked a one way ticket to New York City for me and my pup.  Oh, and that thing I said about having to be in a specific mindset to write?  I have a feeling that you'll be seeing (read: reading) much more of me! 

In closing, I'd like to wish you and yours an incredibly healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!  I, for one, cannot wait to see all that 2016 has in store!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Feb132015

My first visit back to NYC…as a tourist: Homecoming 2015

Sometimes, you have to leave to come back...


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Friday, February 6th

How fitting: My NYC-bound flight number was "212."  It absolutely had to be a sign, right? 

Upon checking in for my crappy row 30/middle seat at the United Airlines kiosk, a prompt asked me if I would be interested in upgrading to First Class for $250.   Since I was flying on "miles," all I paid for my round trip ticket was $11.20, a tax fee of some sort.  $250 for a First Class upgrade on a 6-hour flight meant: Free access to the airport lounge, a humongous seat that doubled as a "flat bed," a warm meal, extra space, comfort, and free flowing champagne.  Sounds kind of like a rap video, right?   I couldn't click "yes" to the cabin upgrade quickly enough...

From security, I was ushered to United Airlines' airport lounge.  Spacious, clean, and comfortable, the only thing missing was bar service.  But, then again, it was only 6 AM...

United Airlines' Lounge at LAXAnd once onboard, breakfast was served...

United Airlines' First Class breakfast service: Sausage links, steamed spinach, broccoli + cheese souffle, scrambled eggs with red pepper sauceWhat's a long journey without some shut-eye?  I slept like a baby atop my "flat bed!"  It was more comfortable than I could have ever hoped for or imagined!  After all, I wouldn't be getting much sleep in the city that never sleeps...

Can you spot my toes?View of the Atlantic, about 5-minutes from landing in NYC...

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I feel like the cab drivers in NYC are either silent/have the personality of a fruit fly - or they're exceptionally talkative, engaging, and funny.  From JFK to Manhattan, my cabbie was the latter.  "(In his heavy Urdu accent) I live in a Jamaican neighborhood.  That is such sexy English, Mon.  Sexy!  Sometimes, I try to talk like them.  They call all of the ladies 'Ma,' you know?  I've said that to a couple of my customers.  Like, 'hey Ma!'"  What an entertaining - and totally 'New York' - way to re-enter New York!

In a twist of fate, or just sheer convenience to the wedding venue, one of the reserved room blocks for Yan's nuptials was at a Hilton located on my old block.  I couldn't not stay there!

The tall, reddish building in the background was where I hung my hat for 7 years!.

En-route to my "makeup-over" at the Caravan Style Studio, I popped by Maysville for a quick glass of vino.  Just like old times...

Wineo'clock with an urban landscape.

After my drink-and-dash, I proceeded to The Carlton Hotel, where Caravan has a fabulous, hidden "stylist studio."    

Caravan Stylist Studio, is an innovative wardrobe and beauty studio that pairs actresses, tastemakers and media influencers with top fashion designers and beauty experts located at the Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Each week, Claudine DeSola, owner of Caravan, partners with hundreds of fashion designers to select clothing and accessories for Caravan’s guests. In addition, a full-time beauty expert provides clients with a host of other complimentary services, including hair styling, makeup application, mini skincare-spa treatments and nail design.

Upon my visit, I had beauty expert, Valerie Star, give me a "makeup-over."

She did an incredibly amazing job, if I do say so myself!  For a lazy gal who only wears "full makeup" on special occasions, this was the ultimate in pampering.  I wish Valerie could work her magic on me everyday!

.

For dinner, I met up with two of my girlfriends for some delicious Greek fare at Ethos Galleria.

Greek salad

Caravan Stylist Studio, is an innovative wardrobe and beauty studio that pairs actresses, tastemakers and media influencers with top fashion designers and beauty experts located at the Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Each week, Claudine DeSola, owner of Caravan, partners with hundreds of fashion designers to select clothing and accessories for Caravan’s guests. In addition, a full-time beauty expert provides clients with a host of other complimentary services, including hair styling, makeup application, mini skincare-spa treatments and nail design.

- See more at: http://www.caravanstyliststudio.com/#sthash.RQJjQSSh.dpuf

Caravan Stylist Studio, is an innovative wardrobe and beauty studio that pairs actresses, tastemakers and media influencers with top fashion designers and beauty experts located at the Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Each week, Claudine DeSola, owner of Caravan, partners with hundreds of fashion designers to select clothing and accessories for Caravan’s guests. In addition, a full-time beauty expert provides clients with a host of other complimentary services, including hair styling, makeup application, mini skincare-spa treatments and nail design.

- See more at: http://www.caravanstyliststudio.com/#sthash.RQJjQSSh.dpuf

Caravan Stylist Studio, is an innovative wardrobe and beauty studio that pairs actresses, tastemakers and media influencers with top fashion designers and beauty experts located at the Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Each week, Claudine DeSola, owner of Caravan, partners with hundreds of fashion designers to select clothing and accessories for Caravan’s guests. In addition, a full-time beauty expert provides clients with a host of other complimentary services, including hair styling, makeup application, mini skincare-spa treatments and nail design.

- See more at: http://www.caravanstyliststudio.com/#sthash.RQJjQSSh.dpuf..

Good night, NYC!

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Saturday, February 7th

Saturday morning came much quicker than I could have anticipated.  I met my cousin, Larry, and friend, Jeremy, for a quick bite before spinning off the carb-calories at SoulCycle.

Good Stuff Diner: Breakfast bagel'wich.

For brunch, I headed uptown to meet some girlfriends at one of my favorites, The Smith.  

We raised a toast and clinked our glasses...

The Smith: Blood Orange MargaritaAnd I made sure to indulge in two of the Atlantic's greatest gifts to humans: "Montauk Pearl" oysters and lobster (in the form of a traditional lobster roll).

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After visiting with two more friends and sneaking in a quick post-brunch snooze, I made my way over to Little Sal's for an informal tasting. 

Situated in the former Chat 'N' Chew space, Little Sal's takes full advantage of the interior's low ceilings, checkered floors, shiny red banquettes, and sizeable bar - thus creating the perfect atmosphere/back drop for a traditional "red sauce" Italian joint. 

Little Sal's: A look insideAfter ponying up to the bar, I asked the staff a roster of questions.  One of the most important being, "Do you have a happy hour?"  I learned that, although having only been open for a few weeks, Little Sal's did, in fact, have happy hour (menu coming soon!):

  • 4-6 PM
  • $20 bottles of wine
  • Food and drink specials

While awaiting the arrival of my entree, I noshed on buttery, grilled toast points that were accompanied by Sicilian-fig caponata and basil pesto (for dipping and dunking).  

Little Sal's: Grilled and buttered toast points with Sicilian-fig caponata, basil pestoI chose the Linguine alle Vongole (pasta with clams) for my main course.  In addition to being topped with manila clams, the noodles were intertwined with a generous amount of briny bits!

There were so many items I didn't get to sample on Little Sal's dinner menu that stood out, namely the Branzino Oreganata with Pickled Grapes & Fennel and the Meatballs with Red Sauce. Looks like I'll just have to return upon my next visit NYC! 

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As if one Italian dinner wasn't enough, I met ten of my girlfriends for 'round two' just 45-minutes post my tasting at Little Sal's!  We enjoyed a bountiful, family-style supper at newish downtown favorite, Bar Primi, followed by cocktails at Saxon + Parole.

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Sunday, February 8th

On Sunday night, I was thrilled to get to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend of mine and his beautiful bride.  The ceremony and reception took place at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, which is a fantastic venue overlooking the glacial Hudson River.  And the icing on the cake?  Famed caterer, Abigail Kirsch, handles the food/beverage for the event space!  Win win.

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Monday, February 9th

Monday was busy; I spent the first half catching up with friends and colleagues, and the second half with the NYPD.  That's right, my ATM card was stolen and I had to file a police report per my bank's request.  I was shuffled between two precincts in completely different parts of town and, because of this, was not able to visit my old coworkers/office.  Thankfully, dinner at Root & Bone with two of my besties helped brighten up my crappy day.

Just like any other Southern supper, we kicked off our meal with scratch-made biscuits.  This version was served with delectable, warm honey-roasted chicken jus for dipping, plus sesame seeds and Maldon salt to taste/season.

Root & Bone: Biscuits + chicken jusDeviled Eggs and Grilled Butternut Squash promptly followed...

We split our three entrees, which included: Shrimp & Grits, Fried Chicken & Waffles, and the most amazing mussels I've had, to date.

This meal was, without a doubt, one of the best that I've had in recent memory.  Everything, from start to finish, was outstanding.  What a delicious way to end a vacation!

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Tuesday, February 10th

And just as quickly as my weekend jaunt flew by, it abruply came to an end.  

Before I left for the airport, I made a pitstop at my favorite bagel spot, The Corner Cafe, to grab my final breakfast and snag 2-dozen for my coworkers in LA.  What a treat that would be!

It was really hard to get in to my JFK-bound cab and watch NYC get smaller and smaller as we drove further away, not knowing the next time I'd be back...   

My homecoming was as amazing, scary, sad, exilerating, and torturing as I had imagined.  It proved to me that I love NYC more than ever and, whenever that time may be, I cannot wait to come back for more!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 

Thursday
Feb052015

From here to there: Homecoming 2015

Sometimes, I feel like my decision to leave NYC was the result of a handful of temporary grievances and circumstances that I allowed to build up in to a huge black-and-white mountain.  In hindsight - as I sit here typing this in Los Angeles - were those "things" intense enough to prompt an out-of-state move?  No way!  But...here I am.

It's taken me almost 9-months to finally be able to talk to you about leaving Manhattan.  Hell, I am barely able to watch NYC-based TV shows and movies!  The subject is bittersweet and strewn with confusion and self doubt.  Aside from 10 years' worth of friendships, priceless experiences, adventures, heart breaks, invaluable life lessons...I walked away from this blog (temporarily, as I thought that starting a brand new, California-centric website would be a brilliant idea) and my grad school program at NYU.  That's a lot.  

I moved to Los Angeles with three notions, give or take: A) My sister and I would finally live within a 45-minute drive of each other.  B) I would be working within a fascinating sector of an incredibly amazing company.  C) A romance would continue to bloom with a local fellow whom I met in December 2013.  Drum roll please...Exhibit "B" is the only notion of the three that has truly worked out.  Things with "Mr. Local" fizzled at the end of August and, just last month, my brother-in-law accepted a fabulous job in Florida that will commence in July.  Whew

Although there have been a lot of hard and jagged pills to swallow, life in Los Angeles has been unexpectedly great.  I've met amazing new pals and rekindled old friendships - I get to spend much more time with my beloved family - I regularly indulge in Mexican food and sushi that would put anywhere in NYC to shame - I've traded my indoor spin classes for outdoor hikes (OK, I've actually only done that once, but it was super pretty and I should totally hike more often.) - and, twice/day, I get to revel in that priceless expression on my pup's face when I tell her that we're going for a "walk."  Outdoors.  Surrounded by warmth and sunshine, grass, squirrels, and more smells than she could ever ask for.

~

This post is titled "Homecoming 2015" because, last Friday, I went back home (NYC) for the first time since I moved out west.  Originally, I was supposed to celebrate my homecoming last November, but I had to cancel last-minute; in hindsight, going back so soon after my move would have probably been too new and raw.  Plus, with the February 8th nuptials of a dear friend, this month's visit made much more sense. 

I was in NYC from February 6th - February 10th (last weekend).  The range of emotions that I experienced from the time I landed until the moment I departed - happy, sad, nostalgic, scared, ecstatic, angry, heart broken - were almost too overwhelming.  Aside from a noticeably huge increase in graffiti and the typical restaurant openings/closures, it was as if time had stood still.  NYC was still its fabulous, dirty, cold, mysterious, unforgiving, sexy, and dangerous self.  My friends looked even more beautiful than I had remembered - the food tasted so much more flavorful, pungent, and delicious - walking from one place to the next, even taking the subway, felt thrilling and riveting.  I had butterflies in my stomach!  For the first time in so many months, I felt alive.  Amidst all of this, reality set in and my proverbial bubble burst when my ATM card was stolen and I had to spend Monday afternoon filing a police report at the 1st precinct instead of visiting my old colleagues in Tribeca.  But it wouldn't be NYC without a little drama, now would it?

Stay tuned for my "homecoming roundup" which will include, among other things, a photo collage of all that I ate, drank, celebrated, the streetart that I captured, and my makeover!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Jan302015

Help! I need to blow off some steam...

First of all, Thank Gawd It's (Fcuking) Friday! 

It's been one of those seemingly never-ending weeks where I've been in a horrible mood.  Nothing works - nothing is right - and the future looks bleeeeeeak.  This outlook, in turn, unleashes my inner beotch.  By Friday (today), I find myself apologizing to everyone for everything I've said/done since Monday.  "You need to blow off some steam," my mom quipped.  "Go to a spin class or something!  That'll make you feel better."

So, the thing about LA is, unless you're down with jogging or going for speed walks after work/in the dark, your only sweat-it-out option is to hit the gym.  Easy enough, right?  Well, throw in our infamous rush-hour traffic, and you can almost be certain that, unless you leave the office 45 minutes-1 hour in advance, your bike seat/yoga mat/barre space will be given away.  And you'll be charged with a big, fat late-fee.  Ask me again why you don't see me at Flywheel's West Hollywood location on a Wednesday evening...

For a hot minute, I was a member at Equinox.  While the facilities were immaculate, I found the studio classes to be pretty lame compared to, say, Flywheel or Physique 57.  Plus, to this day, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what to do on a gym floor (like with weights/machines), regardless of the "free personal trainer sessions when you join."  How in the hell can you take notes when someone is actively going through a workout with you?  And I'd rather be water-boarded than spend more than 5-minutes on a treadmill...

"Mom, I'm not taking a gawd damn spin class tonight.  I'm fcuking walking home from work as we speak.  Isn't that enough?!"  Clearly, from my amount of cussing, walking home from work is never the best solution for me to blow off steam...

When it's been "one of those days/weeks" here in LA, and I can't get to an exercise class after work, I either find myself drinking too much or mindlessly stuffing my face with food.  For fcuk's sake, I need some new ideas, folks.  Do I take up knitting?  Start smoking?  Kidding.  Kind of...   

How do you blow off steam in a healthy-ish manner?  I'd love to hear from you!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle