MADE: Pickled Rhubarb

It’s rhubarb season, and, if you know what rhubarb is, I know what you’re thinking: pie, pie, pie.

I hadn’t heard of rhubarb until I was 19 years old. That was the year I got to share a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie with my friend Clara. That little piece of pie was delicious and life-changing. I’m serious. It helped me get a job, start dating Devin, and find myself in a perpetual pie contract. So yes, I know how good strawberry-rhubarb pie can be.

But rhubarb is bountiful. It grows and grows and grows, and if all you’re doing is putting it in pie, you’re missing out.

My first venture beyond rhubarb pie was this upside-down cake, which I highly recommend.

Next I started putting it in salads. I’ve tried tons of salad recipes, most of which call for pickled rhubarb. And last spring, I figured out my favorite way to pickle it. A few people have asked for the recipe, so I’m sharing it here (though really, it is so easy, it hardly qualifies as a recipe. Perfect for summer!).

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 11.50.21 PM.png

Quick-Pickled Rhubarb

Ingredients:
• 2–3 rhubarb stalks (depending on their size)
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup water

Instructions:
1. Slice the rhubarb in half-inch pieces
2. Place in a container that has a lid (I like to use a pint jar because the lid seals tightly).
3. Pour in the sugar, vinegar, and water.
4. Shake up the jar.
5. Make sure the rhubarb is completely covered. If you need, add a little more vinegar/water.
6. Leave in fridge for at least 2 hours (1.5 if you’re really hungry––but the longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
7. Serve with your favorite salad.

If you need a salad recipe to go with this, I like to use kale chiffonade, millet, strawberries, and toasted hazelnuts. Between the strawberries and the rhubarb, I don’t usually use a dressing, but you could always make a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, if you’re feeling fancy.

Advertisements
MADE: Pickled Rhubarb

Las Guayabas

goya_blancs

19 July 2016

Sometimes my identity feels like a party trick.

“Oh, you’re from Mek-see-koe!,” a wide-eyed voice exclaims.

I nod eagerly.

And I feel like a poodle on its hind legs.

But sometimes, my identity, which is so often unseen for reasons beyond my control, feels like a superpower.

The power to subvert expectations.

It happened yesterday at a Patel Brothers grocery store in Schaumburg, Illinois where I was helping my friend Ariel fulfill mango orders for the Indian diaspora of Central Wisconsin. (Ariel’s partner Shashank is from India, so they are very connected with Indian families that live near them, and when one of them is near an Indian grocery store, they bring mangos back for the group. I want this system but for Mexican snacks, please and thank you.)

There I am, inspecting boxes of mangos and realizing there aren’t nearly enough when I overhear two employees speaking Spanish. I turn and ask if there are any mangos in the back, and one of them, who seems to be the Chief Mango Stocker––clearly an essential job in a store that specializes in produce from the subcontinent––seems happily surprised to hear me speak Spanish.

“Where are you from?,” he asks.

I tell him I’m from Chihuahua and his look of surprise transforms into a grin that fills his whole face.

He leaves and returns, hidden behind cases and cases of mangos on wheels. And as he gradually reappears, transferring the cartons of mangos from the rolling contraption to our two waiting carts, he starts telling me his story.

“See those guavas?,” he points to a display, “I’m from Aguascalientes. My family grows guavas.”

On his phone, he shows me pictures from his family’s orchard. A close-up of guavas on the tree. The house he built with money he earned stocking the guavas he used to grow. Guavas he left behind because he couldn’t make enough money to live. A house he hardly ever gets to visit.

“I had a son,” he continues.  “He was two. He fell in the pool. I couldn’t even go to the funeral…”

There is a pause, and I think we are both asking ourselves the same questions.

What if he’d never had to leave Aguascalientes? What if the border were just a line on a map that everyone could cross? What if he could have brought his baby here? What if he could have saved his son?

He attempts a look of resignation. “Así es la vida. Difícil…”

I nod.

What I really want to do is yell, “No! Your life shouldn’t be this hard! Nobody’s life should be this hard!”

By then, our carts are full of mangos; customers approach him to ask for help; Ariel and I say goodbye.

Of course, I don’t know that he shared all of this with me because I’m from Mexico. Maybe he is always this vulnerable with strangers. Maybe he tells everyone his story. Maybe this is how he grieves.

But I have this experience often. I say I’m from Mexico or I talk back in Spanish, and I see the other person loosen. It is the shift from “You are different” to “We’re the same,” from distant to close, from gringa to paisana. It is the collapse of a small border.

Driving away from the grocery store, I think about a talk I saw Mia Mingus give in which she talked about the importance of articulating not only what we’re fighting against, but what we’re fighting for and making real plans. She wrote about it on her blog:

“[W]e are good at resisting. We are good at fighting for the world we don’t want. We are good at analysis and analyzing things up and down (and sometimes into oblivion). We are skilled at naming what we don’t want. I think we are less skilled at naming what we do want; our visions for liberation. And not just vague things like, ‘ending white supremacy and heterosexism,’ but how are all the children going to get fed? Who will clean the toilets? Who will take out the trash? Who will cook the food?”

OK, I think, what do I want?

I imagine having to articulate my plans in front of Congress, but all I can picture is me, standing at a podium, looking at the legislators and sharing my new friend’s story. I conclude with my call to action: “If his family grows guavas in Aguascalientes, don’t you think it’s wrong that the only way he can make a living is by stocking guavas in Illinois? I mean, how does that even make sense? If they grow the actual guavas, and the guavas are what’s being sold, why can’t they make a profit?”

Good questions, Kristy, but no plan.

I try again.

I picture myself hitting the podium to emphasize my point that we must repeal NAFTA––which decimated Mexico’s agricultural sector––and punish U.S. companies that conduct unethical business abroad, like Wal-Mart, for example. I picture myself demanding that the U.S. government open the borders because human rights shouldn’t be determined by an accident of birth––especially in a time when photos, words, ideas, and corporations transcend borders every day.

I don’t actually think I’m qualified enough to speak in front of Congress about immigration reform. It’s just… I think the people who hear immigration stories most often are other immigrants. And most of the people who determine border laws are not immigrants. In my daily life, I hear lots of stories like this. When politicians walk into a grocery store, they just get guavas.

And so the borders stand.

If I could be anything, I would like to be a bridge.

 


 


 

Las Guayabas

Every taco is a walking taco

walkingtacofritopie

Last year, when I was volunteering in school cafeterias dressed as a vegetable, I encountered a Wisconsin dish called the “Walking Taco” consisting of Fritos chips, ground beef, and yellow cheese. I’d seen this combination in Texas, where the dish is known as a Frito Pie, but its Midwestern moniker gave me pause. “The taco is an inherently portable food! I will prove it by making real tacos for all the children!,” I shouted in my head. “Provided you buy the ingredients,” I added because I’m trying to be better about budgeting, all the time, and that includes daydreams.

I was talking to someone about tacos recently, and they asked, “Do you mean the ones with the hard or soft shell?,” and my heart shattered, so I’ll pause to explain what a taco is. A taco consists of a fresh tortilla, which you top with meat and/or vegetables and Mexican salsa and lime, like so:

 

tacos-mexicanos
Photo via chef.mx

You can just pick one up and walk with it if you want.

But then I started thinking, what if Wisconsin is the type of person who puts too much meat and salsa in her taco y se le rompe la tortilla y su mamá le dice, “Ay, m’ijita ¿por qué eres tan batida?”

Maybe Wisconsin decided she was too messy to eat tacos, and she decided to pretend that a bag of Fritos and some canned ground meat could be a suitable substitute.

Pobre Wisconsin. A mí no me molesta si te manchas la ropa.

 

 

Every taco is a walking taco

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

This summer I visited a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and the first thing she said to me was, “How do you know ArchedEyebrow?,” which thrilled me because I love Bethany Rutter, and I think everyone should know her.

And since the internet told me that today is her birthday, I decided to answer that question for the world wide web.

bethany rutter

Bethany in front of the Brooklyn Museum, spring 2015

I met Bethany at a wedding, waiting in line for appetizers––they had these little food stations featuring different cuisines in addition to a seated dinner and multiple desserts. It was food heaven (or as I like to call it, heaven. Because if it’s true we get to create our own version of heaven, mine will consist of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, kitchens, and restaurants).

Back to the wedding buffet…

When I met Bethany, I was spending a lot of time with super cool women who unfortunately had terrible relationships with food (like a lot, if not most, women living in our patriarchal, body-hating society), so social eating situations made me apprehensive. (It’s hard for me to hear people make negative weight-related comments about food, especially when I’m about to eat, and all I want to do is enjoy it!) I didn’t realize how much I had come to expect fatphobic food talk before every meal until I heard Bethany exclaim, “This is delightful!”

We bonded over how excited we were to try everything, and honestly, that interaction was enough for me to love her. But that wasn’t all! She was also wearing a dress I still daydream about. And she was the wedding DJ. And she played ***Flawless by Beyoncé for me, so by the end of the wedding, I had a major friend crush.

She lives in London, so I wasn’t sure if I would get to see her again, but somehow we ended up going to see the Kara Walker exhibit in the Domino sugar factory before she flew home. All of the art was made of refined sugar and represented Black bodies, and at the exhibit, there were lots of non-Black people doing awful things to the sculptures (like taking photos in front of the art while making lewd or violent poses). Bethany took in the scene and said, “Someone should take pictures or make a video to expose all the racist things people are doing.”

I decided on the spot that we were destined to be friends, even if she did live across the Atlantic. (Later we learned Kara Walker had been filming us all along because she’s brilliant.)

It’s been two years since that dreamy wedding, and I’ve only found more reasons to love Bethany, including her fabulous fashion blog, her hilarious twitter, her sense of fun, and the way she doesn’t just stand with her arms crossed when she sees something unjust (see, for example, her “You Look Great!” campaign in response to one of the worst examples of fat-shaming harassment I’ve ever heard of).

edama me

arched sushi

Happy birthday, Bethany! I’m so glad you exist.

 

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

click, click, click

I’m a big fan of other blogs’ link lists, and I’ve seen really cool stuff recently, so I decided to try making one myself. Here are a few things I think you might also like.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Spring in Madison means the lakes are back to their liquid state. This is Lake Mendota, the lake Devin, our friend Makeba, and I traversed on foot for my birthday! 


ART


This short story by Stephanie Jimenez is vivid and familiar. One of my favorite parts:

Maria sat in the backseat with the plastic bag on her lap. Maria could recognize her mother’s voice anywhere, the narrator of all those bedtime books in childhood, the one that pronounced library liberry and share instead of chair. Maria had developed a habit of correcting the way her mother talked, but now, as she watched the landscape go by from the backseat, the voice was soothing, more soothing than rain, and Maria said nothing. She closed her eyes.

CULTURE

Just in time for summer vacation, New York Magazine enlisted psychologist and travel-guide author Michael Brein for tips on traveling with other people. Brein calls this his “three-point scale of compatibility,” but I think it can also be a good tool for tempering expectations and finding ways to compromise. After reading this, my mom and I talked about what kind of travelers we are and came up with some ideas for our next trip together. (Suddenly all our silly vacation arguments made sense!)

  1. ACTIVITY LEVEL. Are they high- or low-energy? If you plan to see a city by foot, for instance, you want people who can keep up.

  2. DIURNAL-NOCTURNAL DISPOSITION. Do they prefer daytime activities or rowdy nightlife?

  3. TIME-URGENCY. Some people want to schedule every moment, while others prefer to be totally spontaneous.

FOOD

The big farmers’ market in Madison is back on the Square, and I’m excited to eat more spring produce. This What’s in Season? post is a great resource if you like to make a shopping list before going out or if you need recipe ideas for food you haven’t had in a year…or if you want a list of food that might be cheaper than usual at the grocery store!

click, click, click

MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

One of my favorite Madison bloggers, Tomissa Porath, often blogs about beer. I don’t know very much about beer, but when we became friends, I just had to invite her over for micheladas because, despite her extensive beer knowledge, she had never had one. (In case you haven’t either, a michelada is a beer cocktail from Mexico.)

Once I started to think about micheladas, I decided I had to make tacos, too! And then I got so focused on tacos, I forgot to buy the beer. Oops. Thankfully, I was able to call my friend Kate who saved the day and allowed us to have a balanced meal. ; )

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Tacos al Pastor
Recipe translated and adapted from Chef Oropeza.

If you’ve ever walked into a taco place, you’ve probably seen a big spinning orange piece of meat with pineapple at the top. This contraption is called a trompo (because it resembles a spinning top), and it is used to make my very favorite kind of taco. Unfortunately, restaurants almost never have a vegetarian version (the spinning meat is pork), but making them at home is really easy and you can use any meat or protein you like, so don’t despair!

My only ingredient note is that you’ll want to go to a Mexican grocery store to make sure you can find all the ingredients you need. My favorite in Madison is Mercado Marimar, which also makes fresh corn tortillas––a must for good tacos. As for special tools, you will need a blender or food processor.

Ingredients (makes 8-12 tacos)

(for the filling)
* 4 dried ancho chiles  

* 3 dried guajillo chilies

* 75 grams (roughly 2.5 oz.) achiote paste (3/4 small bar)

* 1 or 2 garlic cloves

* 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

* 3/4 cups orange juice

* 2 tablespoons canola oil

* generous pinch of salt pizca de sal

* generous pinch of black pepper

* 16 oz. OR 24 oz. of your preferred protein (my favorite is seitan) Note: if you are using a protein like tofu or seitan, make sure to check the drained weight on the package. For example, the packages of seitan I bought listed the total weight as 1 lb. 2 oz., but the drained weight was 8 oz. Make sure to drain your tofu or seitan! Otherwise, your tacos will be watery. The more protein you use, the less saucy they will be, but as long as you marinate it for a little longer, it should still be very flavorful.

* 1 package of corn tortillas (you need at least 12 tortillas; most will have about 30). I recommend buying freshly made tortillas if you can find a tortillería in your town because the taste difference is enormous.

(taco garnishes, served in separate little bowls to pass around)
* 2 cups chopped pineapple (if canned, drain)

* 1 onion, finely chopped

* ½ bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped taza de cilantro lavado, desinfectado y picado

* 10 key limes, halved OR 5 big limes, quartered (if you and your guests don’t usually eat a lot of lime, buy less)

* 1 small can (7 oz.) of your favorite Mexican salsa(s)––not the American kind––I recommend salsa verde from Herdez or La Costeña

Instructions

1. The first thing you want to do is prepare the dried chiles. Rub their exteriors with a kitchen rag to make sure there’s no dirt on them (there usually isn’t, but nothing is worse than gritty food). Run them under cold water. Cut off their stems (a pair of scissors works well for this). Then, cut a slit up the side of each chile and remove the seeds. Did you know seeds are what make chile peppers spicy? If you like spicy tacos, you can leave some seeds. Finally, place them in a bowl of medium-hot water to soften them for about ten minutes. They should feel plump and re-hydrated.


2. Next place the chiles, achiote paste, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, oil, salt, and pepper in the blender or food processor. Blend until you have a smooth sauce. This sauce is called an adobo.

3. Chop your meat or preferred protein into small pieces, and marinate it in the adobo. If you are using a smaller quantity of meat or vegetarian protein, 10 minutes should suffice. If you are using a larger quantity, marinate it for longer (~20 minutes).

4. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan (I used a cast-iron skillet), and cook your meat or protein thoroughly. I used medium-high heat and cooked the seitan until it was slightly crispy on the outside (about 10 minutes), but I don’t know anything about cooking meat, so cook it as you usually would. It should be really hot when you are done. Cover it and set it aside while you heat the tortillas.

5. There are lots of ways to heat tortillas, so you can choose the way that seems most practical to you. I recently learned that you can lightly moisten them and put them on a baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 minutes, flipping once at the 3-minute mark. To me, this is so much easier than heating them one or two at a time on the stove. Make sure you wrap up your stack of tortillas in a kitchen towel after you’ve warmed them. Place them in a basket with a lid or another container with a lid to make sure they stay hot.

6. Bring the tortillas, meat or protein, and all the garnishes to the table. This way everyone gets to make their own tacos
. Enjoy!


Michelada

Making a michelada is super easy, and since this recipe makes one drink at a time, it’s totally customizable. Experiment with your preferred quantities of sauces and lime juice to find your perfect blend!

Ingredients

* a light or dark beer of your choice (we had Corona and Negra Modelo)

* Salsa Maggi

* Valentina hot sauce

* 1 or 2 key limes or half of a big lime

* Tajín or rock salt for the rim of your glass (I recommend Tajín)

* a frozen glass, beer mug, or mason jar

* 2 little plates (at least slightly bigger than the mouth of your glass)

Instructions

1. Take one of your plates and moisten it with a little water.

2. On the other plate sprinkle a bit of Tajín or salt.

3. Rub the rim of your glass first in the plate with water and then in the plate with Tajín or salt.

4. Squeeze the lime into your glass.

5. Add ½ tablespoon of Valentina hot sauce and ½ tablespoon of salsa Maggi.

6. Pour the beer in the glass, and enjoy!

MADE: Tacos al Pastor y Micheladas

NYC Tour

Anja Riebensahm sent me a pop-up model of New York for my birthday! The best part is that she put little speech and thought bubbles of things I might say or think all around the city (and a sign that says “KRISTY 4EVER” in Midtown). I loved putting it together and remembering all my favorite places.

Lately I’ve been daydreaming about New York more than usual. Aside from missing my friends who live there, I remember how much fun it was to play tour guide in the spring. Last year Devin and I hosted friends from England, Mexico, and South Africa within a few weeks of each other, and we were in tour guide heaven. This spring I am stuck in what feels like tour guide limbo. I’ve written a lot of texts and tweets that say “Go here! Skip this! Do that!” to friends who are visiting the city, but I realized that I almost always give the same advice, and to spare myself from carpal tunnel, I might as well put it all in one place.

Note: I am most familiar with Brooklyn and Manhattan because that’s where I spent most of my time. I am also familiar with restaurants in Queens (the borough with the best food, in my opinion), but I don’t know much about the Bronx or Staten Island.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset



GENERAL ADVICE

1. As soon as you arrive, get a copy of New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and Time Out New York. Read them on your first day in town to see if there are any events you want to attend while you’re there. (You can also read their events listings online at the links above.)

2. If you’re going to be in New York longer than one or two days, get a 7-day unlimited MetroCard. You can get almost anywhere by public transit, and aside from saving money and time (because you won’t have to refill your card), the train is one of the best places to people-watch. If you like to tour cities by bus, skip the expensive tour buses, and ride a city bus (also included in your unlimited MetroCard). The buses are empty at prime touring times, and they ride down the same streets. Tip: The option to buy an unlimited card can be hard to find on the MetroCard machines, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Use Google Maps to find your way around. There are New York-specific apps and sites, but you’ve probably used Google Maps before, and its directions are accurate for transit, walking, and biking. I use the app all the time, no matter what city I’m in, and it’s never led me astray.

BROOKLYN

1. IM Pastry Studio (1131 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225)

IM Pastry Studio is the bakery of my dreams! Perfect cupcakes, savory food, the best
cold brew in the city, super fresh fruit drinks (the mojito mint limeade and the ting ting  
are my favorites), and Dough doughnuts (a.k.a. the only donuts that matter). I’ve been   
known to walk out with a drink and dessert in each hand because the choice was so difficult. Plus, it’s beautiful and close to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which I also highly, highly recommend.

2. M.O.B. (525 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217)

You know how sometimes you put your phone in airplane mode and it charges really fast? That’s how I feel when I walk down Atlantic Avenue. I can’t explain why, but I can tell you about M.O.B (Maimonides of Brooklyn), my favorite restaurant on that energizing street. It’s a vegan restaurant that aims to “seduce carnivores,” and judging by the reaction of the many meat-eaters I’ve taken there, it succeeds. Go there for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Sit inside at the long communal tables or outside in the garden. The whole menu is excellent, but I have a soft spot for the M.O.B. flatbreads served on plates in the shape of the Brooklyn Bridge.

3. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade (at Montague Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (starts at 45 Dock Street and wraps around the waterfront)

If you ask most New Yorkers about parks to visit, you’ll likely be told to go to the High Line, but I find it kind of underwhelming. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the other hand, never disappoint. They’re perfect for skyline views and photo ops. Brooklyn Bridge Park is built on a series of piers (each with its own features and activities), making it one of the most creative uses of public space I’ve ever seen. Take a spin on Jane’s Carousel, get pizza and Ample Hills ice cream, ride a bike, watch a soccer game, go for a swim in the (admittedly tiny) pop-up pool, roller-skate, have a perfect sunny day.

4. The Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238)

As far as I know, the Brooklyn Museum is the only museum in the world with a feminist art wing (though I would love to be proven wrong). It is also the home of First Saturdays––my favorite, favorite, favorite free event in New York. Every first Saturday of the month, the museum opens its doors, allowing everyone the opportunity to view its exhibits, make art, and dance to live music for free. Go for the art, and stay for the people-watching. It’s a monthly convention of New York’s most stylish residents, and their outfits regularly left me breathless.

5. Night Train (622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217)

I hear NBC recently filmed Night Train for a TV special, so catch this comedy night ASAP before it blows up and you can no longer get tickets. Wyatt Cenac (of Daily Show fame) hosts and picks an incredible lineup of comedians. For example, in January we saw Erin Jackson, Hari Kondabolu, and Kevin Avery. Bonus: The DJ in residence is Don Will, whose name you might recognize from Another Round!

MANHATTAN

1. Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery (various locations)

I don’t have very much wisdom to impart, but there is one thing I know deep down in my bones, and that is “If you go to Magnolia Bakery, get the banana pudding.” You will be tempted by the cupcakes. The cupcakes are beautiful. The cupcakes are famous! But sadly, the cupcakes are dry and boring. Trust me. I have made this mistake many times. However, the banana pudding is worth all the hype and then some. I don’t care if you don’t like banana desserts. I don’t care if you don’t like pudding. Both of these things are true of me, and still, the banana pudding is perfect.

2. Housing Works Bookstore Café (126 Crosby Street, New York, NY 10012)

Housing Works is a superb organization operating the best thrift stores in New York City. I love all of their stores, but my very favorite is the Housing Works Bookstore Café. Located on a cobblestone street in SoHo, it’s everything a bookstore should be, with bookshelves covering every wall on both floors, good lighting, plenty of tables, a grand staircase, and green hanging lamps. It also has free wi-fi, which is important if you’re visiting from abroad or if you don’t have a smartphone. All of that is enough to make it worth a visit, but it also hosts some of the best literary events, including The Moth StorySLAM so be sure to check the calendar.

3. Pippin Vintage Jewelry (112 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011)

Pippin Vintage Jewelry is a luxurious boutique that sells jewelry from seemingly every time period, but the coolest thing about it is that they have pieces at every price point (starting at $5). I bought Devin’s wedding band and my most beautiful pair of earrings at Pippin, and every time I’ve gone in, the staff has answered all my questions and made me feel like a VIP (even when the only thing I could ask was “Um…what’s the cheapest thing you sell?”). Bonus: Chelsea is filled with vintage stores, so be sure and walk around before and after you check out Pippin.

4. Fabulous Fanny’s (335 East 9th Street, New York, 10003)

People often ask me where I got my glasses, and I love answering “Fabulous Fanny’s!” It’s a store that truly lives up to the adjective in its name, with glasses of all kinds, most at much, much lower prices than at other stores. Fabulous Fanny’s stocks vintage frames and new frames made in the U.S.A. They don’t do the lenses in store, but they’ll refer you to a place in Chinatown that does quick work and is also very affordable, making it possible for you to buy a pair as a souvenir!

5. Playing Tourist (various locations)

When I was younger, I thought tourist attractions were for boring uninspired people with no creativity. As a result, I went to Paris and almost missed out on seeing the Eiffel Tower. Thankfully, a nice French family intervened, and now I know the error of my ways. I hope nobody is as silly as I was at 19, but just in case, I want to add this disclaimer. Most tourist attractions are attractions for a reason, and it doesn’t make you any less cool to want to see them. Since there are so many things to see in New York (and you probably want to do some things off the beaten path in addition), I suggest choosing a few rather than trying to see them all. My favorites are Grand Central Terminal (bonus points for all the good dining options, ranging from The Campbell Apartment to Magnolia “Get-the-Banana-Pudding” Bakery), the New York Public Library at 42nd street and the adjacent Bryant Park, Times Square (go late at night for maximum effect and minimal crowds), and the Statue of Liberty. You can see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, which is free to ride, and a good option if you don’t have much money or time or if you don’t care about seeing the statue up close. However, in my opinion, going to see it up close is worth it (and before going, I didn’t think I’d like it that much!).

QUEENS

1. Casa Enrique (5-48 49th Ave. Long Island City, NY 11101)

In my experience, most Mexican restaurants in the States are not good––to put it mildly––so I prefer to wait until I go home to Chihuahua where I eat and eat and eat in an attempt to make up for lost time (and tacos). Casa Enrique is the shining exception. I cried when I ate there because I never imagined it was possible to have food that good on this side of the border. Chef Cosme Aguilar is my hero.

2. MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101)

PS1 is MoMA’s cool little sister. Focusing exclusively on contemporary art and housed in a former schoolhouse, it’s ideal for visitors who get overwhelmed by gigantic museums and who want to see experimental art they may not encounter elsewhere. I especially like it in the spring and summer because of the outdoor exhibits and the Warm Up concert series in the courtyard. However, I highly recommend that you check the calendar before going. Since it’s a smaller museum, it has a smaller number of exhibits (sometimes the whole museum is devoted to a single artist). I’ve seen some exhibits that I loved and others I regret seeing (and subjecting my mom to…), so make sure you know what’s showing.

3. SriPraPhai (64-13 39th Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377)

The average price for an entrée is $10. The portions are generous. And it is the best Thai restaurant in New York. I would regularly take hour-long subway rides to eat there with whomever I could convince to join me, and considering how far it was, it didn’t take much cajoling to convince anyone after they’d tried it once. The menu is longer than the Old Testament (with a sizeable vegetarian section!) so if you need recommendations, allow me to suggest the papaya salad, the mock-duck salad, the tom kha soup, and the panang curry.

Do you have any favorite NYC places? I’d love to hear them!

NYC Tour