I think having a kitchen full of chefs-in-training cook a healthy meal for you is a splendid way to end a week. I was invited to come check out one of The Natural Gourmet Institute‘s Friday Night Dinners, which is held weekly in their classroom on 21st Street. Well, a classroom transformed into a candlelit dining room.
Friday night dinner menu at The Natural Gourmet Institute
The menu is a three-course vegetarian meal which incorporates fresh, seasonal, and mostly organic produce. When we sat down, we had skewered grapes with chili flakes and a hibiscus drink already ready for us:
The communal tables make it a little less romantic and more conducive to meeting people. The couple in front of us told us they learned about NGI’s Friday Night dinner’s through the popular NY healthy foodie guide, Clean Plate Culinary, while the woman sitting next to us was invited by her cousin who was one of chefs preparing our meal. The food for the evening was Caribbean-inspired and after chatting a little, we were served the ‘amuse': Garbanzo Bites, made with carrots, jalapeno, and rainbow chard which kinda reminded me of a variation of falafel.
We went straight into our first course then: a Wedge Salad (gingered radish, macadamia nut, and papaya vinaigrette) served with Curried Pickles (carrot, radish, cauliflower) and a refreshing chilled Cucumber Soup (avocado, dehydrated radish):
Cucumber soup, pickles, and salad
The main course was Tempeh Pastelon, a layered dish with plantains, spinach, rainbow chard over broccoli rabe and yellow pepper puree. It was served over a mango cilantro salsa, jerk tomatoes and black bean orange sauce:
Finally, a delicious pineapple cake with homemade ice cream, and cherry coulis:
I realized how I’ve grown accustomed to some really “bad” (read: fried) foods that some of the flavors were so foreign to me, but it was refreshingly good! Afterwards, even though I was filled to my neck, I didn’t feel sluggish. I felt like I ate well. The chefs came out at the end (greeted with a room full of applause) and answered any questions about the ingredients they chose:
NGI student chefs
It was a lovely evening and something different to do in case you’re bored of the same old. Major points on a very tailored, and healthy menu. To RSVP for a dinner, you can call 212-645-5170 (ext. 0). Seating begins at 6:30pm for the $40 prix fixe meal (tax included), and you can bring your own drinks. Check out the menu for upcoming dinners here: http://www.naturalgourmetinstitute.com/html/friday-night-dinner-c.html.
Have any of you tried or want to go to one of NGI’s Friday Night Dinners? What do you think?
MAC Pro brilliantly showcased what their makeup is capable of by hosting a block party under NYC’s Highline last week with their “Hit the Pavement” event. Blink and you might accidentally bump into one of the many body-painted living statues:
Living statues at the MAC Pro event under NYC's Highline
I was kinda in awe at how the makeup didn’t even seem to melt away with the sun.
Green Greek statues
I was digging his wind-blown hair
Crowd at Hit the Pavement
More street performers. Photo Credit: Philip Robertson
Photo credit: Philip Robertson
(Last two photos by PHILIP ROBERTSON. See more on his website HERE)
I think the cutest thing I saw was this little girl painting away on a graffiti wall with her own MAC lipstick…I think we could have been friends:
Tiny lipstick artist
Cutest moment #2: when the same little girl saw this MAC-clad street performer approaching her…she freaked out for a second but then continued her masterpiece.
Nice to meet you
I felt like I was wandering in an outdoor makeup-museum, it was the coolest thing. But to top it off, we were surrounded by food trucks…more reason why MAC and I speak the same language. There were so many trucks I was trying for the first time, including Wafels & Dinges. My friend Archana and I headed straight for dessert first.
I hear the Spekuloos sauce (a type of gingerbread sauce) is their specialty, but we went with a nutella/banana combo. It was still crazy good:
Wafels & Dinges
MAC Pro x Wafels & Dinges
Our nutella-banana waffle
We then skipped over to the Rickshaw Truck for edamame dumplings, and right after to Van Leeuwen for Earl Gray and Strawberry ice cream.
The Rickshaw Truck
Edamame Dumplings -- these were OK, but was craving some meat and they ran out of their chicken :(
Van Leeuwen Earl Gray ice cream
Not sure if it’s a food blogger thing, but our whole dessert->appetizer->dessert meal made perfect sense to us. After we ate to our hearts’ content, we walked a few blocks over to the West Side highway to catch the sunset…little reminders on how NY really has its moments.
Yesterday, Veet (the “world’s number one depilatory brand) invited an intimate group of bloggers to learn about some of their launches over a tasty dinner at Lure Fishbar in SoHo.
Veet gel cream
Coincidentally, I just tried their Fast Acting Gel Cream which comes in the most convenient pump, a few days before. I bought it a while ago, but never gotten around to using it, and besides working extra fast (3 minutes!), the thing I appreciated the most was its smell — or lack of it rather. Depilatories can smell pretty…pungent? I used one from another brand previous to this and the whole bathroom was left smelling like chemicals. But these have a more discreet rose scent that left no trace of a hair removal cream at work. I also found out that they have a pretty cool In Shower Cream that’s water resistant so you won’t have to worry about it washing away before it does its thing. If you’re into waxing though, they JUST launched Ready-to-Use wax strips that works on hair as short as 2mm and lasts up to four weeks.
Beauty products and feasting
We also learned a few hair removal facts:
*The average woman spends 30 minutes/week removing pesky body hair
*Aside from weight gain, women feel hairy legs are the things that makes them feel the MOST unattractive
*Two-thirds of women postponed “getting intimate” w/ someone because they weren’t smooth
*Almost 48% of women have gone longer than 2 weeks without shaving their legs
*More women would rather go to the beach 5 pounds heavier than to have a visibly hairy bikini line
I thought it was a pretty interesting glance at how our culture views body hair, dontcha think? Anyway, we were all but ready to get our grub on because the menu looked ridonculously good. I went straight for the crispy calamari, steak, and chocolate cake (and I stole a pic of my friend, Rachel’s, tuna dish):
Apparently, they change their menu quite frequently so it could change the next time you go there. But as for my meal, the chili glaze on the calamari gave it an interesting, slightly tangy taste. It’s been a while since I’ve had good steak, and this one was phenomenally good, equally juicy and salted just right…every bite was perfect. And you can’t really go wrong with chocolate cake, except the popcorn brittle was kind of a weird side with the ice cream. I felt like it was a little out of place kinda got in the way of the taste a bit. But overall, so good…and apparently Kelly Ripa and fam also enjoy their food because they were eating right next door to our room (didn’t see her, but heard it afterwards on Twitter!).
Restaurant Info: Lure Fishbar
142 Mercer Street (at Prince)
New York, NY 10012
Occasion: Veet dinner
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ** (it’s gorgeous but pretty loud for dinner)
Would I go back?: Yes…preferably if someone’s gonna treat me because I’m not sure my wallet could handle it.
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I know what you’re thinking: What is that? An unda?! (For my non-Urdu-speaking readers, that means “egg”). Well, if it were an egg, it’d be the prettiest one I’VE ever seen.
But seriously, I’ve been hearing about this pink makeup sponge from Beautyblender since like FOR.EVER. Practically every interview I’ve ever read of the pros giving us the routine “check out what’s in my makeup bag” would not fail to mention it. Just recently in fact, when I was at The Makeup Show, I randomly overheard so many people raving about it too. At this point, I was so intrigued about what makes it so special, I finally decided to try it.
Beautyblender and cleanser
I got the sponge with its cleanser…and had no idea how to use it. I never actually use a sponge when I apply makeup — they usually eat up most of my product than anything. So this was gonna be fairly new for me. I went to their website, and literally sat there and watched the whole five-minute video tutorial.
It was expectedly simple: just wet the sponge first, dip in your favorite foundation, and apply. When you’re finished, just pump the top of the cleanser, dip your unda-sponge in it (the top of the jar is super conducive for easy dipping), rub the soap in the sponge, and wash out any remaining foundation under water.
Application: Unlike other makeup sponges, this one doesn’t “eat” up all your foundation. Instead, I can dab it on my face and it blends it like a second skin. The application is fool-proof and the end result is flawless (no stripey mess to speak of). It has this uncanny “bounce” to it so you can easily spot-on your makeup. The shape also makes it easy to get into hard-to-reach areas like around your eyes and nose. Also, SO CLUTCH that it works just as well on liquid foundation as it did for my creamy-solid ones (like my Mehron foundation, or TheBalm TimeBalm and CoverGirl concealers).
Cleansing: The other thing I lu-huv about this is that you can get it with the cleanser and it will keep it free of bacteria (another problem with regular sponges). And it’s super fast.
Storage: The plastic packaging it comes it doubles as a sponge stand, so it’s easy to just put it back after you’re done to dry. Genius.
Price: For a single sponge, it’s $20 ($35 total with the cleanser which goes a long way). But the life of the sponge lasts WAY longer than a regular sponge with the cleanser (and the quality far exceeds one too), which makes it worth it to me. Plus, it has a very airbrush-ey effect, and those can cost upwards of $200.
Since I started using it, it has come with me on all my travels, and a mandatory companion when I’m applying makeup for all these weddings I’ve been going to (speaking of which, am I the only one who had 10,000 weddings to go to this summer?).
Anyway, the point is — not all undas makeup sponges are created equal and this one is decidedly the best.
Have any of you tried Beautyblender’s makeup sponge? What do you think? Worth it?
Ever since I met Laura Geller at her flagship store on the UES and since I began using her makeup, I have become a full-fledged Laura Geller Worshipper. Her Spackle Skin Primer is so good that I have actually added a bottle to my Emergency Kit along with water, matches, and blankets. So when Laura’s team sent me her newest set of products, the Lightness of Beauty kit to review, you can imagine it felt a bit like Christmas morning at my house.
Laura Geller The Lightness of Beauty Kit
Balance-and-Brighten Color Corrector with SPF 15
Here’s the breakdown: The kit includes the new Balance-n-Brighten SPF 15 Baked Color-Correcting foundation, which is a mouthful to say. So far, I’m on the fence about this product. It boasts amazing skin-health benefits from the Centella Asiatica and white tea extract antioxidants, which I love. And as promised, the foundation applies so smoothly… but that’s actually part of my beef with it. I cannot tell it’s actually going on. And although I see teeny-tiny differences in my skin when I apply the foundation, it doesn’t seem to provide enough coverage to be labeled a foundation — at least not a full coverage one. I did notice some evening of my skin tone, but nothing akin to a true foundation. Laura Gellar fans: what do you think of the product? Have I not given it enough of a shot?
Eye Elements Baked Eyeshadows & Highlighter Quad
Next is the Eye Elements Baked Eyeshadows & Highlighter Quad in Amethyst Skies, and It. Is. Beautiful. The peach-tinted highlighter is so lovely and the purple colors are vibrant just like you’d expect from a LG pigment. I do indeed recommend using a slightly wet brush when applying the color if you’re looking for vibrant and full tones, otherwise, apply it dry for softer tones.
Air Whipped Blush in Whisper Mulberry
The kit includes a new LG Air Whipped product. This time, it’s a blush, in Whisper Mulberry. In theory, the Air Whipped skin products are great ideas — smooth application, cream consistency, moisturizing properties. But there’s something about my skin that doesn’t work well with the products. Both the blush and the bronzer clump on my face. How do they work with your skin? I’m assuming the problem is an anomaly with mine.
Finally, the kit includes the I-Care waterproof eyeliner, which applies beautifully and does last, and a new Air Whipped Lip Wear in Praline Mousse. I’m a huge fan of the Air Whipped lip colors, and this hue is so beautiful. A perfect amount of pearlescense and a gorgeous neutral color. These lipsticks (if you could call them that) feel smooth as butter and are so flattering.
What are you all-time favorite Laura Gellar products? And does anyone have any advice for me re: the Air Whipped skin products?
Ok, I’m so sorry for the delay but it was REALLY hard deciding who to pick to win one of Cadualie’s new fragrances (and be entered for the $250 grand prize!). I enlisted some help and after poring over your entries, finally decided that the winner is…Christa! Here’s her entry:
6:25am. I’m just home from the gym, standing on my back porch with a mug of green tea and enjoying the last few minutes of quiet before my day begins. It is in that moment that I congratulate myself for not making up an excuse to skip the gym and visualize the day that lies ahead…and then I obsess about what to wear and vow to plan my wardrobe each night before bed. If only I were that organized.
Good for you for hitting the gym that early! It’s inspiring and makes me feel kinda lame for missing so many days at the gym myself Congrats! I’ll be emailing you for your info soon, and submit your entry for a chance at the $250 gift bag. Thanks to everyone for entering!! More great giveaways to come, as always :).