A tradition that I look forward to all year is getting afternoon tea at the Taj hotel with my girlfriends. We dress up and chat for hours while reaching new sugar + caffeine highs. It's always a challenge finding an outfit dressy enough for the occasion, but warm and comfy enough for a long walk in chilly December.
Each year I've ended up wearing my Stuart Weitzman boots for warmth, with a dress that hits slightly higher than the boot shaft. It started out for functionality, but I've come to love the look of over-the-knee boots with a dressier piece! A stark white dress might seem suitable only for warm weather, but can be winter-chic as well in a classic black + white pairing (also try layering a striped tee or solid turtleneck underneath).
Above, Nick and I are in Copley Square en route to do some gift shopping. Yes I'm in sock-less flats - got a few questions/chastising comments on this, but when walking quickly it really doesn't bother me any more than having an exposed face. I picked up an iPhone 6+ for my elderly grandfather, who a few years ago adamantly refused all technology/ mobile / internet-related products however is now glued to his Apple gadgets and active with selfies on social media.
Left: Nick + grandpa Instagram'ing before each meal. Right: Underbelly ramen in San Diego
We spent Christmas in San Diego where I indulged in good eats galore. With Asian food I usually avoid "fusion" places like the plague since I like those flavors authentic, but ended up loving Underbelly ramen (2 locations). This is the "belly of the beast" bowl which has oxtail dumplings, hoisin-braised short rib, and smoked brisket in a tonkotsu broth. My gripe was there were no spoons for drinking the broth; waitress said this is so customers have to pick up the bowl and drink...umm, alright, next time I'll just go with a spoon in my pocket!
This place seems to be hit or miss based on reviews but the noodles I got had good texture and the broth was rich and flavorful, especially when you add in a spoonful or two of the "ghost chilli pepper" paste at the tables. I finished every drop, spoon-less and all. Pork bun in the back left was good (tho does not measure up to Ippudo's) but I'd definitely pass on the octopus appetizer next time.
I can't get enough of the citrus trees in Nick's parents' yard which bear an abundance of fruit year-round. Here, I'm wearing these comfy LOFT destructed jeans, old Gap sweater and my Ferragamo flats. I ordered another pair of the LOFT modern skinny jeans in "dark rinse" wash during a past sale and mistakenly received curvy instead of modern fit. The fit is pretty starkly different, cut more generously in the hips and thighs so could be good for those with a curvier figure.
Oh, Matcha Love...how I waited for this day. I'm a green tea ice cream fanatic and heard months ago that a soft serve version could be found in the food court of select Mitsuwa grocery stores (store locator). This didn't disappoint - was very creamy and the matcha flavor was not overpowering nor too sweet.
For Christmas, Nick received his late grandmother's cast iron skillets which was both sweet and perfect since the boy loves to cook. He put it to use whipping up this dish, which is great for getting rid of ingredients in the fridge. I've never bothered to make homemade hash in the past, but the process was easy and the results were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside - so yummy that I'm counting down the days before having it again.
Steps - too easy to be called a recipe!
1) Thoroughly wash and cube russet potatoes. We used unpeeled since the skin crisps up nicely, and did 1 large potato per person.
2) Place frying pan or skillet over medium heat and add oil to coat the bottom after the pan is heated. Put potato cubes in, mostly skin-side down. The key is to not stir them for about 5 minutes or until the bottom of the cubes are browned and seared. You can pick one up to check out the bottom.
3) Flip potatoes and turn heat down to medium-low. Stir only occasionally to allow more sides to brown. Cook for a total of 15-20 minutes until potatoes are soft in the center - taste to test.
4) Before potatoes are done cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. If eggs are desired, cook them in a separate pan while the potatoes finish up then serve topped over your hash.
Optional add-ins: We added sausage, onion, kale, cheddar cheese, and herbs to empty out our fridge which ended up being delicious. Be creative with what you have on hand and with your favorite seasonings (sriracha a must for me). If you have greens in your fridge like spinach or kale, throw these in during the last few minutes of the potato cooking since they don't need long to cook down.