A Place At The Table- Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

As I mentioned in my last post, I was brainstorming ways to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I came across an Instagram post about “A Place at the Table.” Which is a curated box filled with treats from experienced home bakers and professional chefs honoring their Asian heritage. Of course, I had to support it!

As an additional bonus, a portion of the sales is donated to Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit combating food insecurity and isolation within NYC’s elderly Asian American community.

Check out the beautiful packaging.


Check out the desserts.

Of course my favorite was the Filipino focused one, which was a Mango, Coconut and Sago piece (I may or may not be biased 😉).


Here are the home bakers and chefs who participated (from top to bottom and left to right): Ying Ting Hu, Guadalupe Lucero, Andrew Cheng, Kimberly Camara, Ruth Li, Shirley Yu, Christine Yen, Joy Chu, Ayaka Ando, and Kelly Miao.

Pic via FromKora Instagram

Glad I was able to participate in and support this initiative. The box was a bit pricey ($75, $82 with tax), but it was well worth it! I would love to see more collaborations like this in the future.

Eat Something New In Queens Challenge

In March, I took part in the ‘Eat Something New in Queens’ Challenge. The purpose was to step out of your comfort zone, try new restaurants and food, and support local restaurants around Queens. Although I took a little staycation during the challenge, I still tried to participate. All the food I tried was excellent!

Here are the restaurants I tried.

Nneji is a West African spot in Astoria. It’s more a pickup type of place but has fantastic food. Don’t feel shy and ask the owner for recommendations on what to eat.

Harissa Chicken with Jollof Rice
Spicy Goat Stew with Okra and Tomato – was definitely spicy!

Coco Malaysian Cuisine in Elmhurst.

Golden Fried Chicken
Coco House Special Fried Rice
Chow Kueh Teow Noodles
Fried Squid with Fresh Mango

I’m half Filipino, so Filipino food is life, but I did find a new dish I had never had before at Kabayan Authentic Filipino Cuisine in Woodside.

Binagoongan Rice (Fried rice with shrimp paste, mango, and scallions)

My family stayed at the TWA Hotel in JFK, in Jamaica, during the challenge (more on the hotel in another post), but we still tried some great food.

Yardie Bistro was in the food court area of the hotel.

Brown Stew Chicken
Jerk Chicken
Beef Patty

Splurged a little at the Paris Cafe by Jean-Georges. It was well worth it!

Crispy Salmon Sushi
Burrata and Cranberry
Cream of Tomato Soup
Black Truffle Pizza with Egg

I had a blast trying all the food. The challenge has an awesome Facebook group page that offers food ideas and recommendations year round. If you love food and live in Queens, or don’t mind traveling to the borough, join the group!

Maxine’s Zhua Zhou First Birthday Ceremony

My daughter Maxine celebrated her first birthday on December 19. She is growing up so fast. I really can’t believe it! My cousin’s girlfriend told me about a fun Chinese ceremony when a baby turns one. It’s called the zhua zhou ceremony, where symbolic objects are laid out in front of a baby to grab. Whatever the baby reaches for and plays with can indicate future employment prospects or interests. 

We are a little late, but I thought it would be fun to do! I researched and found more information and potential objects to use via Gathered Gifts’ blog story.

Here is a list of some objects and meanings.

From Gathered Gifts

I substituted the following:

Abacus to Cash; Paint Brush to Hair Brush; Calculator to Whiteout; Chicken leg to Bamboo; Lego to Puzzle Piece; Microphone to Fan; Stethoscope to Thermometer; Sword to Shield

Picture of layout

Moment of truth. Maxine’s top three…

1. Shallot = Intelligence

2. Measuring tape = Designer/Architect

3. Shield = Law enforcement

Rounding out top 5…

4. Cell phone = Tech Entrepreneur 

5. Celery = Industrious

Not bad! LOL. I can’t wait till she is older to see what she likes and is passionate about.

Winter Lantern Festival

Last week, Andrew and I accompanied my Aunt and Uncle to the Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden in Staten Island. The holiday light show had over 1000 lanterns of various figures – mostly animals and flowers.

Here are my favs:

It was def. fun as a group. We had a blast.

Shen Yun Performance with Mom and Dad

One of my goals for this year is to spend more time with my parents. In January, I took them to watch Shen Yun, a Chinese dance and music performance, at Lincoln Center. It was amazing! Full of color and culture.

The show had a great combination of old school and modern elements, with traditional Chinese dances and clothes that were breathtaking, and more modern elements that included crafty ways of using video and projection. Each dance or performance told a different story. My personal favorites were the more traditional ones that featured the females in elegant over the top dresses of the time period. One focused on these long sleeves that the women used sort of like ribbons when they danced. The other one focused on these huge platform shoes that they mastered at the time to make beautiful movement. Kudos to the women of the past who made these outfits and styles work, and work well, at the time of their lives!

Could not capture any photos or videos of the performances but both my parents enjoyed themselves :). This is an annual performance in NY, so I look forward to next year!

Shen Yun

Off to the ballet…

I recently got the chance to enjoy a beautiful ballet at Lincoln Center.

I first heard about the experience through Urban Girl Squad, a social networking group for women, they had tickets to Swan Lake this past September. I took the opportunity to go since not everyone is into ballet and I was able to meet new people flying solo. I had such a great experience that once I saw another ballet opportunity they had planned, I signed up immediately. This time around I got to view three pieces choreographed by George Balanchine: Concerto Barocco, Kammermusik No. 2 and Who Cares?

The experience included a backstage tour, a Q&A with a dancer and seats to the show. I ran late so I missed the backstage tour but I didn’t feel so bad since I already got the backstage treatment when I saw Swan Lake. There really isn’t much to see, sure it was kinda cool to see the dancers warming up, but the best part was to walk the stage. I studied ballet up to high school so it was a powerful feeling being up on that stage, it made me miss performing.

I arrived in time to take part in the Q&A session with a dancer named Troy. He did a great job talking about the three pieces we were going to see and how different they each were. He also gave us tips on what to look out for (mostly formations, which happens to be great to see at my location, third ring) and answered all our questions. The big whammy everybody wanted to know was how he got into ballet. I think stories like that are especially interesting when you don’t expect people to do what they do and I was always fascinated on how men got into the industry. He apparently started on the path due to a love of tap.

After Q&A we were given binoculars as a parting gift and an option to purchase food for intermission in advance. The sweet bonus was we also got a coupon for a discount on food and drinks but guess who forgot to bring cash. Would you believe it, vendors only take cash and there is NO ATM in the building. Seriously WTF is up with that! I was starving and thirsty but couldn’t do anything because I had less than 5 minutes to get to my seat and the ATM was apparently blocks away. It’s totally my fault though, the squad warned me about the cash situation but I didn’t read the confirmation email properly.

I got to my seat and quickly made fast friends with the women sitting next to me. I used to be really scared of going places alone and starting conversations and talking to people but I think with age and experience I got over it. The performances were absolutely beautiful. I would describe Conceto Barocco as a traditional ballet piece but what made it special was how the dancers wove in and out of each other. There were also so many lovely formations that were made. I was glad to be up in third ring, I totally would have missed it if I had orchestra level seats. Kammermusik No. 2 was def. a bit modern. What I found very interesting with this one was that the dancers made very abrupt movements and used their heels. I’m sure it was choreographed this way but at times it felt like the dancers were off from one another. Troy mentioned that this particular piece was also heavy in percussion but I felt it was heavy on flute. I am not a musician so I have no idea. Who Cares? was very interesting. What I loved about it was that it was very whimsical. The dance was choreographed to be very Broadwayish and it def. was, including all the glitter. It was fun to see the movements the dancers made. My only criticism for the last piece, it was way to long. There were 16 songs and you can only take glitter for so long, other than that I thought it was fun.

Overall I had an amazing time. I’m proud that I went by myself and enjoyed myself. Although I did end up talking to my neighbor, I could have easily been by myself and I would have been fine. It has taken me awhile to be that comfortable though.

I obviously didn’t take any pictures of the performances but here are some pics of the night:

Private Q&A session with a dancer with my group

My view during the private group Q&A session with a dancer. Isn’t it haunting empty??

Troy giving us details on what we are going to see.

Troy giving us details on what we are going to see.

Me by a statue...sadly my photographer didn't know how to get it in the picture.

Me by a statue…sadly my photographer didn’t know how to get it in the picture LOL.

Street Artist JR did an amazing installation of the dancers on the lobby floor.

Street artist, JR did an amazing installation of the dancers on the lobby floor. How cool is that??  I totally would have laid down for a pic but I was in a dress.

In total I spent approx. $68 that night ($48 for the ticket and $20 for a cab), not bad for a ballet!