The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Puerto Rico

July 20, 2013

Coconut Pirate Drink at Villa Cofresi Hotel

It rained alot.

It rained alot.

I’m about three weeks too late in talking about Puerto Rico but better late than never right? It was my first trip in awhile where the complete focus wasn’t on eating and I’m shocked to say, I had a great time!

No, not really that shocked. I knew the trip would be great, we had fun things planned, and we actually did them and enjoyed each other’s company in the mean time. If you’ve never been the to Puerto Rico outside of San Juan, I highly recommend it.

There were well kept stray dogs everywhere.

There were well kept stray dogs everywhere.

The beau and I flew into Aguadilla and drove down to Rincon. We spent two days into Rincon checking out the beaches, snorkeling and cooking dinner at the beachside grill our hotel provided.

We had a great meal at La Copa Llena at the Black Eagle. It was right on the water and the food was incredibly fresh and well prepared.

After Rincon we drove to Luquillo so we could eat at the food kiosks and we could go to the El Yunque rainforest. The kiosks were not what we imagined. Well yes, some of them fulfilled the cheap, fried food and under hot lamps experience. But mostly we just thought it was a big strip mall of restaurants. We enjoyed the sit down places the most, getting hot fresh mofongo and margaritas (that could have used a little work).

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La Mina Falls

La Mina Falls

You can read more about the kiosks here. Our hotel was able to recommend a few of the better stalls and we were happy to take her recommendations. Beyond hungry, hot, sunburned and in front of 50 food stalls is not a place you want to be.

The plan was to spend the final day in San Juan but, we had to back track a bit when the Camuy Cave tour we wanted wasn’t available until that final day. So, our last day, we got up a 4AM and drove to San Juan for a 5:45AM pickup for another 1 ½ hr drive to the caves. GAH.

I was not a happy camper and after I pushed my crankiness away, it was replaced with terror after I learned I would be not only zip lining but also repelling and jumping into caves. If you have read at least one other post on this blog, I think it’s safe to say you can see that I’m not really this type of girl. But I’ll try anything once and so I did.

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Looking back on it now, I think I could have dealt without climbing over the rock covered in cockroaches and the water that I think is STILL in my ear. But overall, I’m glad it’s an experience I’m glad I had and I’m happy we didn’t do the typical tour. I can say, if you want to get over some other sillier fears in life, this is definitely the thing to do. You can read my review on the cave tour here.

Have you ever been? Let me know how your trip went!

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Staten Island Ferry

June 3, 2013

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Friday I took my first trip on the Staten Island Ferry! When my father first pitched this idea to me, I balked at it. Now, two years later I see the appeal. It was obvious that over half the riders were tourists enjoying the ride as they all got off, and went right back onto the next Manhattan bound boat. The ride was nice, a little over twenty minutes and gave a great view of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty. Sorry Dad, next time I promise!

Just pictures today. I was having some fun with my new camera.

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And as if the ride wasn’t enough, we stopped at John’s Famous Deli before taking off to PA. The roast beef was all J chalked it up to be and more. I am glad we split this though. photo (4)

Ocean City Travels

May 29, 2013

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No cooking this weekend but there were plenty of good eats on my trip to DC!

I feel relaxed for the first time in probably months. So much so that I even improvised a pretty great dinner last night upon my return – Roasted Red pepper pesto on whole-wheat linguine with baked salmon. Yum!

Before meeting up with S for our bi-annual get-together, I got to see M (my old college roommate and best buddy) and her family for a day. It was delightful to catch up and to see once again how far we’ve come since college. It was a struggle to finish one bottle of wine instead of three. Whew!

Upon meeting with S, I had the most romantic time a girl could have with her gay bestie. We drove out to Ocean city for the night and kicked things off at Harpoon Hanna’s for brunch. While S contemplated the fact that the restaurant sat directly on a state line, I sucked down this bloody mary and dug into my spicy shrimp!

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Afterwards, we had a studious time playing mini golf.

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And then a one-hour nap turned into two…and a half. Afterwards, we took a nice stroll on the boardwalk amongst the Ocean City clientele, ate a bag of caramel popcorn in about two seconds flat and then took a ride on the ferris wheel.

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For dinner we hit up the Reel Inn which had probably the best crab cake sandwich I’ve ever had. Baked – not fried! (Too dark for pictures.)

Our departure lunch was a real treat at the Crab Bag. One dozen steamed crabs, Old Bay fries and corn on the cob. We had to work for our food, I’m still picking crab shells out of my hair, but it was worth every bit of Old Bay stuck under my nails. My food high was sustained for two hours into our ride back to DC.

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And now back to real life…

Culinary Israel

March 6, 2013 2 Comments

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Written by Pitasushi

When people think of culinary destinations they think of Paris, New York, Shanghai, but they definitely don’t think Tel Aviv.  After a 10 day culinary tour exploring the food of Israel from bottom to top, I can say with confidence that Israel knows what delicious is.  Oh, and by the way, the food in Paris kind of sucks.

Within hours of landing from the 10 hour flight I was plopped in the middle of Mahane Yehuda Market  in Jerusalem.  Lingering plane hunger lead me to go insane buying stuffed grape leaves, dried dates, a bag of paprika, pistachio halvah, persimmons, and filo pastries in record speed.  The realization that I had 9 more days to travel and a bag of stinky spices was definitely memorable.

Market Desserts

Three days and countless foodie snacks later we were waking up at 6:30AM to drive to a Druze village.  It was a pretty sexy experience to watch this woman make steaming fresh whole wheat crepes and slather them with labneh (soft cheese) and za’atar.   Our second breakfast was served with some homemade olives and coffee spiced with cardamom.  I miss second breakfast…

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Day 6 and countless bus hours later we were at our desert farm, Shvil Hasalat or Salad Path to see (eat) tons of fresh produce.  It was made apparent by this time in the trip that Jews can figure out how to move water anywhere, anytime so a farm oasis was not a huge surprise.  What was a surprise was how amazing the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries were in the middle of winter.  Negev desert territory means summer whenever you want it.  One of the top things I miss about Israel…

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The last place the tour brought us on day 9 was Tel Aviv and Jaffa.  The sun was shining, the Mediterranean was blue, and the food was plentiful.  After a stop for the BEST HUMMUS IN THE WORLD at some magic green awning-ed restaurant, we headed for a “demonstration at Mizlala”.

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The demonstration quickly turned into plats after plate after plate of food coming out for us.  The food was incredibly decadent and included charcoal roasted eggplant paste, tempura fried soft boiled eggs on fresh corn polenta, and peanut butter ice cream sandwiches in chocolate mousse.  It ended with a complex dessert which involved liquid nitrogen from the chef Meir Adoni’s other restaurant Catit

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Five hours later I was starting a 7 course gastronomic tasting menu at Catit.  I mean, how often am I in Tel Aviv? The menu included things like langoustine broth trapped in a fried ball, a jelly tent over my fish course, and so many things in the dessert the waitress almost passed out describing it.

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Eating all of the above plus countless pastries and second breakfasts, I only gained a pound from this trip.  Everything was so fresh and vegetable packed that even when I was being bad, I had made up for it by being good.  Salad for breakfast is an Israeli concept but definitely something I can see myself embracing, especially if it means I can pig out otherwise.

Israel really exceeded my expectations especially when it came to food.  Of course there’s politics and history and lots more I learned on this trip, but let’s be honest this blog is for food.  In the end it’s sad to be home and back at work, but at least I have fond memories and a really stinky spice cabinet to remind me of my trip.

A New Year / A new …

January 2, 2013

6:30am came and went in a flurry of snooze buttons this morning. My good intentions flew out the window as the 23-degree air seeped into my not yet insulated AC hole. Warmth under my flannel sheets overtook my thoughts as my fingers yet again inched towards the red snooze on my phone.

Whoops.

C’est la Vie my loves. It’s a new year and I can’t help but be excited despite a little time delay this morning.
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I am officially back from China in mind, body, and soul and all I can say is “Wow.” When asked, “How was China?” I often leave people in silence for a good bit because I actually don’t know what to say. In my head, my immediate thought is, “Well, it was fucking CHINA how do you think it was???”

Yes, it was the trip of a lifetime but it’s taken me a bit to see it. My jetlag subsided fairly quickly due to a nice mix of narcotics, but the constant turmoil my emotions wrecked on my mind caused me to be a hot mess for longer than I would have liked.

I’m glad I went. If I learned anything, it’s that I have limits. I went into this trip with a complete open mind, a willingness to try anything and a fair amount of prep concerning the innards of animals from L doing her due diligence. But towards the end I was losing it. Mentally and physically (hello Great Wall) I was pushed to a certain limit.

I now know the true meaning of culture shock and more importantly, how I deal with it. (The anxiety of being in a culture where the press is limited and police presence is high was more nerve wracking than I expected.) I also know what maybe my mind isn’t as open as I once thought – nothing hurts more than having it pried open by the Chinese. In the end, I’m happy that I went through all of it. My outlook on the world has changed; my eyes are a bit more open and more importantly the expectations I place on myself have shifted.

And with that, I go into the New Year. A mind, now open (and still throbbing a little bit) and excited. I rang in the New Year with my new beau, new friends and a new excitement for just about everything.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be rebooting this blog a bit. Look for a new layout and a few new voices. Unfortunately my BRAND NEW CAMERA got stolen by the TSA so until I get my tax returns, I will be back to my old, not so hot photos. Sorry.

Happy new year everyone!

Dispatch – Day 14

December 7, 2012

So far this trip has been…a trip. I’m two weeks in officially, one week and one day to go. Over the week in Shanghai I found myself in a whirlwind of asian-ness unsure of what to do with myself. The tour, booked through L’s Chinese travel mafia connections, was 6 nights and 7 days. Transportation to all stops, 3 full meals a day, and all hotels were included – all for $340 ($200 + $140 in “fees”).

I wish I knew what to say but I remain speechless from our time in the mainland. The tour took us to Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, and back to Shanghai. The food varied in each stop, focusing on the local cuisine and the local artistry. The theme of the trip was centered on showing us something beautiful (i.e. Silk), giving us the history, ushering us into a store where we can buy said beautiful thing, then ushering us into an attached restaurant for the meal. And it was awesome….

I managed to only buy the items I knew I would truly not regret buying. Unfortunately that included buying a black pearl in Wuxi, a pound of Longjing tea, and numerous handmade silk items in Suzhou….I’m only in China once…right? Right!?!

I am ready to come home but currently sit comfortably in the white man business hotel district in Bejing for one more week. I’m pleased with the full kitchen, washer/drier, tub and wireless Internet at the Marriot Executive Apartments.  Never mind the gallons of water being sold downstairs. I can full hydrate AND wash clothes before I return home!

Here are some pictures from the Shanghai whirlwind. L has a lot more of the food, I don’t know what I was thinking during most meals. A few items of note… Salted Duck. Poor man’s chicken. More on those later when I can research. Also, soybean milk made from actual soybeans. Yum Yum. Enjoy! More to come on Bejing if work doesn’t destroy me too much. Hugs for now, E

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Dispatch – Day 7 (?)

November 30, 2012

Ok, I think I’m finally getting it. It took me a minute but yesterday I woke up anew. While not exactly fresh faced – I believe my fathers’ exact words over video chat were “you look like shit” – I am definitely feeling much better. Seven hours of straight sleep were gifted me to after a day of the below goods. A beer before a quick dinner set my mind at ease and now I can say that I am officially in China…body and soul in one place and time frame.

We’ve been back to Yuen Long for more street eats. We started off with dessert, naturally. I have no idea what the below is called but both – delicious. I was jealous of L’s food once again, her waffle spread with peanut butter and condensed milk made me swoon. I enjoyed my little pull a part bread thingies; they were a nice transition into eating for the day.

L then moved into savory while I stayed in with the sweet. I enjoyed an iced silken tofu tea with pearl. Her – more shumai, fish balls and….. IDK what is the third? I can tell you that the peanut butter soy dipping sauce was yum.

When I was FINALLY ready for something real to eat, I went with the sweet and sour pork. Am I the only one in saying…who the F knew sweet and sour pork was actually Chinese food? I’m baffled. Between that and the kung poa chicken I saw, I don’t know right from left anymore…

We leave for Shanghai today!

Dispatch – Day 5

November 28, 2012 1 Comment


It’s our fifth day in Hong Kong and I wish I could say that I’ve been adjusting to the time difference but alas, some things are more of a crawl than a race. Time here has been interesting so far and while on the first day I was confident on my ability to deal with all things intestine, I realize that my “western cultural lens” is a bit more engrained than I would like to think.

Dinner has been difficult. Still on the east coast time, I find the options a bit heavy and have been opting for more dessert, less noodle. 10am

HK time? Please give me all the noodle and dumpling you can dish up. As I adjust, I am fine with this. What I’ve eaten has been excellent and no, we have no plans other than to eat for the reminder of our time here.

The food and dessert has been excellent, minus an overpriced dim sum venture that left me feeling swindled and slightly abused. I am no stranger to surly service and even like it when it comes with efficient cost appropriate food. Forty dollars per person for dim sum is a bit too much for me (and should be for everyone else) regardless of the ‘history landmark’. Yes, I’m looking at you Luk Yu tearoom.

Yesterday we ventured to Yuen Long, which is a neighborhood known for its food. Initially, we decided on going for the stir-fried ice from Sweet heart garden specifically but a further look into this neighborhood delighted us with its food options. Right off the light rail we ended up at a teahouse reminiscent of an American diner. Me with stir-fried pepper noodles with steak and Linda with something else I can’t remember. We also got the curry fish balls (growing on me!) and the shumai. We walked around quite a bit until I grew cranky with the rain, indulging in more milk tea, taro custard tarts and other street food we had a hard time keeping our mitts off of.

I’ve warned the BF that it’s highly likely I will come back 20 pounds heavier…

PS. How are you liking the new camera?

Waste not Want Not – the China edition

November 24, 2012 1 Comment

I’ve arrived in Hong Kong and I’ve lost track of time – my mind in Friday, my body in Saturday. The flight was long but 16 hours and 4 terrible meals later; I arrived in one piece (body and mind) albeit a bit smelly.

For the next 3 ½ weeks I’ll be in Hong Kong and the Mainland, eating grandly and walking a lot. I’ve decided to switch the focus of the blog for a bit, the time away is long and I don’t want to lose track of what I’m seeing eating. I hope you enjoy.

Today was simple. I woke up at 4:30am and slept off and on until 7. A quick shove got us out the door in a painless amount of time and we were off to central Kowloon to explore Temple and Jordan Street. A few hours of exploration led us around a jade market, an even larger food market and a flea market.

The gods of Chinese lunch pushed us into the first place we saw with no written English. While I am always thankful for L, her Cantonese took things to a new level when a hot bowl of fresh fish noodles arrived within seconds. Never mind the milk tea which was swoon worthy.


A walk through the center of the food market gave us mangosteens, rose apples, peeled uncooked chestnuts and star fruit the size of my head. The side stalls were all meat. Pork, chicken, fish…waste not want not…entrails exposed to ensure freshness.

None of what we saw was particularly shocking even with the true sense of nose to tail on display for all to purchase and consume. For right now it seems that the asian population of New York has prepared me greatly. The sight of live chickens for the slaughter table do nothing to offend my sensibilities. And while I’m finding my reaction time decreased greatly due to jetlag, I find the Hong Kong people to be very civilized. And their trains? Beyond clean.

We also visited a Pakistani tailor but more on that and our Burberry replicas as time progresses.

Long Island Wine Trail

December 15, 2011


Now that it’s Thursday, I think I can successfully say I’ve dried out from the past weekend. L and I’s Saturday extravaganza tied in with C’s Birthday that night, rolled into a girl’s trip to the Long Island wine trail on Sunday has had me a bit weepy and dehydrated all week.

Never mind the never-ending cheese belly I’ve had from cheese plate upon cheese plate at the wineries.

Not that I’m complaining…

It turns out, not all Long Island wines are bad! My previous experiences with New York wines in general have been pretty horrifying. No, I couldn’t tell you what I’ve had or where it was from exactly, but I can tell you the bad taste was still lingering on Sunday when we arrived at the Croteaux Vineyards.

And it diminished almost immediately with my first sip of rose. Lord was I pleasantly surprised.

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We were in luck, M’s new BF G works at Macari Vineyards and gave us a great trail to follow that took us first to Croteaux, then to the Winemaker Studio, Lenz Winery and then finally to Macari.


Lenz Winery


While Long Island lacks the rolling hills (duh), and obscene mansions (yes I’m jealous) of the California wine country, it is charming and beautiful in a North Eastern way, which makes it accessible, comfortable and extremely welcoming to the average person. You don’t always get that in Napa.

Croteaux, my favorite for coziness, is a rosé only winery. I love rosé, it’s one of my favorites, but you will find that most wineries do not make it. Mostly rosé is a by-product of red wine, an accident at the first pressing. At Croteaux where it’s “Rosé on purpose,” the grapes are harvested early when they are at their peak, giving the wine a lovely light salmon color and a crisp bright fruity acidity.

The Tasting room is housed in an 1800’s carriage barn that is very cozy and perfect for small groups. Unfortunately they do not allow groups larger than 8 and you are not allowed to bring in your own food. They only offer cheese and bread. I suppose it’s a small price to pay for what I daresay is the perfect rose.

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View from Macari Winery

M was not ashamed to drop G’s name, which gave us a delightful welcome at each place we visited. Needless to say we were pretty happy (and very, very toasted) by the time we got to Macari wines.

Sadly I don’t remember too much about the wines. I do remember the sunset, which was beyond beautiful. And most of all the warm welcome we received, as well as all of the other late drifters who rolled in 5 minutes till closing asking a for tasting. It was a beautiful winery, with a fantastic porch perfect for deer watching, weddings, eating cheese and of course drinking wine.

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