The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

accepted into France, Italian food, other food

I need to come up with better titles.

mm, the sweet smell of official documentation

Yester I left NJ for NYC at around 10:30 AM and got back home at nearly 6:00 PM. At some point in between, I obtained my Long Stay Student Visa so I could legally partake in France-based frolicking at The American University in Paris from September to December.

While I suppose the visa-obtaining process was less painful than going to the DMV (boy, that's not saying much), I didn't think that a 12:15 appointment meant that I'd wait in line for an hour. Everyone was made to wait outside the consulate until their appointment time came up. After a guard checked your name off the list, you'd wait in what looked like a very short line for about an hour as there was only one window where a woman would take your visa form, charge you (supposedly, they'll only take exact change if you're using cash), and possibly tell you to come back the next working day with a different ID photo, a problem that happened to two people in front of me. That definitely made me paranoid.

Thankfully, my face wasn't too fat. (The photo problem for the two people was that their heads were too large and wouldn't fit in the visa template majiggy despite that the actual picture was the right dimensions. Apparently their computers can't scale down photos. Someone needs to upgrade these programs!) When at 1:15 I was finally deemed okay to enter France, I was told to come back between 3 PM and 4 PM to pick up my passport., to figure out how to kill some time in one of the world's greatest cities.

so many baby macarons

While roaming up Madison Avenue, I passed by La Maison du Chocolat between 78th and 79th. La Maison is one of my favorite places (also my mum's fave), although I've sometimes felt uncomfortable at the Rockefeller Center location. (Not that the employees were rude, just that...well, you get vibes. Some people who worked there seemed really nice, while some others gave me the feel that they wanted me out of there ASAP. On a random note, I've never gotten weird vibes from Richart.) While their stuff is definitely on the expensive side, there's no reason that you can't afford at least one treat. A large macaron (not in the photo) is $5 (small ones are $2). It may be a lot for a cookie (actually, more like two cookies!), but it's tasty stuff and not the easiest thing in the world to make. It's worth trying if you haven't had one before. (If you live in NJ, I'd recommend Wegmans for great macarons that also happen to be inexpensive.) I didn't buy any macarons cos, ye know...I'll just wait until I get to France.

Whitney Museum

Walking up and down the avenue killed about...oh, 5 seconds of my life. Dammit. It was a combination of walking too quickly and for too short of a distance. Not knowing there else to go (hey, my knowledge of Upper Manhattan is very slim), I wandered into the Whitney Museum. As someone who rarely goes to museums (although that was my third visit to the Whitney), my conclusion about the current exhibition is: it's okay. Haha. I mean, it's probably awesome and I don't appreciate art enough, such as four fluorescent lighting tubes placed next to each other on a wall, or a brownish hued transluscent cube sculpture. Or something.

chomp pumpkin muffin
lunch time

For a late lunch I went to Sarabeth's Cafe in the museum basement. (Sarabeth's sit-down restaurant takes up most of the space,, I'm cheap and didn't want to kill too much time eating). The egg salad sandwich had the surprising kick of lemon zest, making it notably delicious. The pumpkin muffin tasted good, although not special. It also left an aftertaste in my mouth whose cause I couldn't figure out. (It happens sometimes when I eat baked goods.)

...If I sound lethargic, it's because I'm tired. Sadly, I can't endure going to and from NYC for five days in a row. My desire to go to tomorrow's Pool Party has been outweighed by the desire to sleep and just do nothing, except laundry.

Moving on. I went back to the consulate shortly before 3, waited in line again, and then waited some more inside next to the same people I had waited with in line earlier that afternoon. While peering at the two men behind the windows quietly tinkering around with our passports, I felt like I'd never get mine back. Until...

"Miss Lee?"


When I got home, I feasted on my brother's leftover chow mei fun and a bunch of fruit. Yummers.

pizza time

Mangia Trattoria
Mangia Trattoria

On Wednesday night I had the urge to go...somewhere. Out. My mum and brother had no plans so I was left with the task of finding a place close by where everyone would want to eat. Some googling led me to Mangia Trattoria (warning: the flash-based website automatically plays annoying music) in nearby Glen Rock. Despite having lived in the area for about 15 years, we've rarely been to Glen Rock and have never driven by the strip mall where the restaurant is situated. Oops. Oh well, not like it doesn't resemble the rest of NJ.

I hadn't been to a noisy family-style Italian restaurant like MT in at least 4 years. There's no particular reason besides that I'd usually rather eat something else. (You probably don't want to know how many plates of veal parmigiana I ate as a kid. Even I don't want to know.) MT caught my interest because of their large pizza menu.

fried calamari
fried stuff is tasty

But first, we need fried calamari. While growing up it was almost an unspoken rule to get fried calamari as an appetizer. My mum—the health conscious anti-fried-food member of the family—inexplicably loves fried calamari (I say "inexplicably" because she sometimes acts like a health nazi; obviously fried stuff is the yums) and at her insistence was why she, my brother and I shared this huge dish for $8 that could easily feed four or more people. The fried calamari was one of the better versions I've had; not too chewy and just enough crispy crust. I liked the tentacled pieces in particular. Mmm, tentacles.


My brother ordered a mini sized "pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, ham, salami" pizza. We were very curious to see what a "mini" $10 pizza entailed after the gargantuan portion of fried calamari (the other sizes are "regular" and "large". If you ask me, small, medium and large, or measurements in inches, would make more sense). To me, this mini is rather un-mini, perhaps resemble a medium-sized pizza in Asia. However, the crust is surprisingly thin, so it doesn't take up a crapload of stomach space. Without the appetizer and free bread, my brother probably could've eaten more than half of this.

sicilian pizza one slice
bread chunk

While I mulled over the regular pizza menu for most of the time, at the last minute I went for half a sicilian pie ($8) to change my vague notion of what a sicilian pie was. It's the closest thing I've had to deep-dish pizza (my favorite as a kid) in years. I managed to eat two of the six slices of thick, soft, tomato sauce, gooey mozzerella and basil-topped bread before reaching the stomach explosion point. It was good (not overly cheesy in case it looks like that from the photo), but I guess my tastes have changed to a thin-crust preference. There's no denying that I love bread to death, yet if given the choice of chowing down on a huge chunk of bread, I'd rather it come in plain or sandwich form than in pizza form.

pasta special
mum's food

My mum ordered the seafood and homemade parpadelle special. I had a taste and...well, if I could describe the taste to you I would. Instead, I will fail by saying that it was the opposite of mushy. [buries head in hands] I mean, it had a good bite to it. Not necessarily chewy, know. Um. No you don't. NEVERMIND!

Mm, pasta.


So overall, I'd recommend Mangia Trattoria if you live in the area. Which you probably don't. I'd like to go back sometime to try another pizza. For more info about how they make their pizza (or I can sum it up right here: a combination of gas oven and wood-burning oven), check out Tommy's review.


cake close-up

My most oft-visited lunch destination during work is Life Thyme. I need to give it more props, but I don't have much to say about it. I like it because it's very convenient for me (besides being close to my office, they have a seating area on the second floor), has a salad bar that I actually like, and offer some of my favorite baked goods. A problem with the baked goods is that, unless you're feeling particularly gluttonous, they're too damn big for one person to eat in one sitting. Luckily, Tony shared a slice of organic vegan banana chocolate chip cake with me. I don't know why more places can't turn the ingredients (wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, rofu, soymilk, safflower oil, sea salt, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, banana extract, chocolate chips, cashew butter) into a flavorful, moist, dense slice of "not overly guilt-inducing" cake like Life Thyme.

chocolate chocolate chip cookie of chocolateness

I also shared this ginormous chocolate chocolate chip cookie with John the day before. We were totally stuffed after eagerly chowing down the dense chocolate chunks and subjecting the cookie to a grisly stomach-acid induced death. Life Thyme's cookies are more like raw cookie dough than something that would lose moisture though the baking process. They don't have the sinfully good taste of Levain Bakery's similarly dough-like cookies (I wouldn't go out of my way for Life Thyme unless I had a dietary restriction; Levain is worth a visit no matter where you are) but definitely count as some of my favorite cookies in Manhattan.

I'm too lazy to write a proper review about Tuesday's lunch at Harbour Lights and even if I wanted to, it wouldn't be accurate of the regular restaurant since I ate from a menu planned for an office lunch. If you want to read more about the dishes, click on the photos to read the description on flickr.

tomato salad my salad cod thingy chicken carrot cake ice cream
I didn't order all of these dishes!

I did some fooding with Tristan today, but that commentary will have to wait until later. (KATHY, I must know about your lunch with him! Aheeem!)

Glorious sleep, where the hell are you?

googlin' time

La Maison du Chocolat
1018 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Sarabeth's at the Whitney
945 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10021

Life Thyme
410 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011

Mangia Trattoria
918 Prospect St
Glen Rock, NJ 07452

Harbour Lights
89 South St # 17
New York, NY 10038


Mahar / July 23, 2006 9:32 AM

I love fried calamari. Yum. It's becoming trendy here in Manila to serve it. Especially like it with sweet vinegar and garlic.

Robyn, mind if I lift a picture off your site? It's the slice of cake (Morten's, I think) from your Norway trip. I'd like to make it into my user-icon.


Claudia / July 23, 2006 6:24 PM

the macaroons look sooo tasty yumm *imagines biting into one* that cake looks awesome and it's made from simple ingredients, why don't others do that? it's healthier and possibly simpler. anyhoot the sicilian looks awesome, i miss pizza...haven't had it in a longg time. awesome pictures, now i'm hungy *goes off to find food*

Kathy / July 23, 2006 8:20 PM

Coming up! Just for you, Robyn, as soon as I too, find my glorious sleep. Lol :)

All your pictures and posts just make me miss nyc and our visits to WD-50, Pearl's Oyster Bar, L'Ecole, (man, good times!) why do you insist on torturing me so? (or better yes, why do I seem to enjoy this type of torture?)...I think we all need sleep!

kaitlin Hess / July 23, 2006 10:26 PM

OMG RObyn, i can't believe you went into that hell hole, The Whitney.....the "art" there made me want to jump out a window.....i mean you might as well spit on the wall and call it "art" . THe things there made my head explode as i made my way to the top floor to see a couple "real" paintings by Edward Hopper......
That place just makes me crazy.

roboppy / July 23, 2006 10:40 PM

Adalmin: Haha!, I don't think the carb thing can last long. My asthma is still the same, or maybe getting words. [sigh] It's so tasty though!

Mahar: You can use the photo, sure! Is it surprising that I don't have a food user-icon? ;D

Claudia: Oops, I guess this was a bit of food overload. :) I wish I could find more yummy cakes like that too. Or macarons. MORE MACARONS.

Kathy: COOOL, I await your review. :)

Your blog is torture too! And you're in HAWAII! So I think we're even. :)

Kaitlin: Wasn't that room of the black canvases fun? YEAH...yeah, okay. .__. Oh, and that thing with the red felt scattered on the floor or something? ...

I wouldn't call it a hell hole, hehe. Every time I've gone, the exhibitions are different. The first time I went there was admittedly only one thing I really liked, but it was pretty cool. I think I only paid a dollar for admission anyway. The second time had more weird stuff, like...damn, I don't remember.

Nikoo / July 23, 2006 10:51 PM

Robyn, you don't know me but i absolutely ADORE your blog; your entries are always so witty and insightful, and you always recommend the best places. If it weren't for your blog I would have never known about the deliciousness that is Levain's chocolate chip walnut cookie! You were sooo right. As for the Whitney...ehh...they had a decent John Currin exhibit a few years back but otherwise the place usually reeks of contemporary crapart.

You've probably already gone, but if you're interested I work at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and could get you in for free to see the "feeding desire" exhibit. I'm there all day mon, thursday, sat, and sunday. Just ask for me.

best of luck in france,

Helen / July 23, 2006 11:27 PM

Your photos are insanely good Robyn! I am green with envy! I was bemused by your touristing around NYC thinking, hang on, you lived there! lol... that choc chip cookie looks awesome too.

elaine / July 24, 2006 12:13 AM

I didn't even realize that the shows included an actual pool party!

I want that chocolate chocolate cookie!

Liz / July 24, 2006 3:00 PM

They're letting you into the country? My gawd! Don't they know you come with intent to DEVOUR???? ;-)

Don't forget to book a chocolate tour with David Leibowitz and blog about it so we can live vicariously through you.

roboppy / July 24, 2006 5:00 PM

Nikoo: I'm glad I exposed to you wonderous chocolate chip cookie! :) I think I'd eat more of em if they weren't so huge. As gluttonous as I may be, I really just want half of one. Dooh.

You mean you don't wanna stare at ginormous square black canvases?! ;D In a way, it was more interesting to look at other people stare at the art than to look at the art itself. Or maybe that's sad.

I actually wasn't planning to go to the exhibit, but for free I'd consider it. ;D Thanks for the offer, I'll let you know!

Helen: Thanks; obviously I love your photos too. ;D Going to NYC when I don't live there makes me feel like a tourist sometimes! Doh. People ask me for directions a lot though, so maybe I look like I'm from there. :)

elaine: There's a slip and slide...does that count? Hehe.

Liz: I'm going to boost their economy! :D

Ooh chocolate tour...I'd love to do that, but maybe I can make my own tour. "Tour" being "visit every chocolatier within a 5 mile radius".

Natalia / July 24, 2006 11:15 PM

Aaah, France. Maybe someday I will get to go there. It's definitely high on my to-do list. In the mean time, I'll just read your blog and pretend I'm there :)

I agree with you on the pizza. It should have a thin, slightly chewy crust. Thick bread is for spreading butter and jelly on. Or putting slices of meat and cheese between. Tomato and melty cheese is ment for something thin.

timelas / July 25, 2006 5:58 AM

You mention a place near your work. I never got the impression from this bog before that you had a job. Am I missing something?

Cat / July 25, 2006 6:50 AM

That pizza looks so good. France should be a lot of fun for you, I did the same thing, only in Spain.

themirthmobile / July 25, 2006 2:20 PM

you are absolutely right. the tentacles are the best part about fried calamari and the reason that i order it at italian restaurants. i wish they would serve the tentacles only so my boyfriend doesn't have to eat all the rings.

roboppy / July 25, 2006 3:09 PM

Natalia: For thick bread, I'd need more cheeeeese. Like a block of it....mmm...oh wait, maybe that's what fondue is for. Dipping bread chunks into a vat of cheese would work. Need a good bread to cheese ratio. I wouldn't want too much cheese on a thin crust pizza, hehe.

timelas: I mention work every now and then, but not a lot (more so now than during the school year; I've had the same since last fall). I'M AT WORK RIGHT NOW! Hoho! Sometimes I write about places that I eat at during my lunch break.

Cat: Oo, I'd love to go to Spain!...for food. (Okay, that's my main reason to go to most places.)

themirthmobile: Mmm, tentacles only! (That sounds like a really odd dress code.) That'd be tasty, although it would look kinda gross. Not that it matters as long as it's...tasty.

Susie / July 26, 2006 10:53 AM

Hey France-y pants!

That's awesome! You are going to have the most amazing experience. Just promise you'll make time to get out and see the countryside as well. The French are arrogant (in Paris mainly) but the sad thing is... they have a reason to be. The French countryside is the most incredible place in the world. 'Specially if you love delicious, complex food made from straight forward ingredients.

AY / July 27, 2006 12:22 AM

Robyn: Have a great time in Paris!! Eat lots and lots and be sure to post the innards in all their glory!!

G / July 27, 2006 10:33 AM

Hey congrats on the visa for France. It's an amazing place for foodies :) Can't wait to see the pics and read about your experiences in Paris!

roboppy / July 27, 2006 1:34 PM

Teddy: If you're jealous now, just wait til I get there! Hehe! Heey I can do food trades from Paris. :)

Susie: I would love to venture into the countryside. :D Maybe I will make friends with a French person who will be like, "Heey I have a house in the COUNTRYSIDE and I COOK STUFF and YOU SHOULD COME TO MY HOUSE WHERE I CAN COOK YOU THINGS!" Although maybe they will say that in French. Ahh, I'll dream.

AY: Can't forget the innards! I wish I could get a macro lens for my nice camera, but the baby Canon is good for that too.

G: The food is going to be sooo distracting when I try to study and...stuff. I have a list of places to go to and shall dutifully report about them!

cat / July 31, 2006 4:08 PM

You are too funny, girl! What an awesome blog!

I'm a native NYer living in Paris for 3 years now. Get ready for some unbelievably delicious food here in Paris -- your taste buds will not know what to do when you get back to the States! My odds-on favorite for macarons is Dalloyau - try the chocolate, cognac and some of the specialty varities. Maison de Chocolat pales in comparison. There is La Duree as well who created a line of macarons for the Marie Antoinette film. We have a great baker on our street called Les Enfants Gatees on rue Cardinet in the 17th. If you;re in the neighborhood, check it out.

You will have a marevlous time in Paris and just know that most Parisians do speak English. If you are respectful and also give a Bonjour Madame/Monsieur, I think you will find that many are quite eager to practice their English. Much of that US-France love/hate thing is due to cultural differences that = misunderstandings in MHO!

Aunt J / August 4, 2006 7:17 PM

Tentacles rock! For while out here in CA, there was a chain called Frankie, Johnny, and Luigi's, Too - heck, they might still be in business - that served the best fried calamari ever. It was especially good when showered with Meyer lemon juice and eaten with a bit of rosemary and olive oil bread. Yow!

Something random from the archives