Monday, May 19, 2014

Portland, ME

When I think of Maine, I think of lobsters, national parks, light houses and long drives.  I was very surprised to find it is only 5-hour drive to Maine from New York!  Of course, depending on where you are leaving, it could be anywhere between 5 to 6 hours, which is almost the same amount of time to get to Boston.  I think we have better odds getting to Portland, ME in that time than Boston as traffic can get bad on major thruways to Boston.  There is hardly any traffic going to ME except when near NYC, but if you time your travel well, such as leaving early in the morning and arriving pass 9 pm, the drive will be painless and smooth.  This means you can easily take a mini vacation to Portland, ME on a 3 day weekend.

Which is precisely what we did during Aiden's spring recess this past April, as almost everywhere else are packed with kids during the break.  I could not believe the $450 flight cost when I tried to book flights to Orlando.

Portland's main attraction to me is FOOD, and more FOOD!  It is amazing how many good restaurants are in this small city.

Breakfast/Brunch - definitely my favorite meal of the day, and proven to be the best in Portland, ME

Five Fifty-Five - yum!!!
Bintliff - Best Brunch EVER!! The pictures may not look as the best brunch, but this bloodymary is the best we've had, and this egg white omelette is so perfectly done that I am trying to make it at home myself.

Duckfat - sandwich place with everything made in duck fat.  It's a small place with long line especially during lunch hour.  But, if weather is nice, you can have the sandwich to go and walk to a park or water front nearby to enjoy.

Lobster Shack at Two Lights - Not only this is one of the best lobster roll places in Maine, it is also located right by the water with spectacular view of Casco Bay.


Street&Co - great seafood restaurant in a small alley in Old Port.  This fish dish we had was really amazing!
There are so many more amazing restaurants in Portland we want to sample, such as Eventide.


The main attraction in Portland is the Portland Head Light, it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country and maybe the world.
The old port is full of good eats and boutique stores that are fun for stroll for everyone.  Here are few fun stops.
I also recommend stopping in to the seafood market  to check out the variety of Maine seafood or go on a lobstering tour with Lucky Catch.  
We also spent half day at Peeks Island.  There are 7 islands near Portland, I think Peeks Island is most visited.  You get to ride a ferry to and from the island with great view of Casco Bay, and spend a relaxing day at the beach, why not?  There is a little shop on the island that sells things made from the local artist which are very cool and why not support starving artists right?  There is also an umbrella cover museum, it was closed when we were there, but definitely fun to stop in and good for kids.  You can also rent bikes on the island, which is the best way to tour the island.  
Portland Museum of Art, Children's museum (next to Portland Museum of Art) and Victoria Mansion are good stops if you have time.  

Maine Mead Works - honey winery, if you like honey, this can be a nice stop

Maine Brewery Tour - we didn't go on this tour since we had kids, but we saw people having lots of fun on this tour

Where to Stay 

We stayed at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, very comfortable with a top floor lounge and great view of the city.  

I would also stay at the Pomegranate Inn and Mercury Inn.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Product Recommendation: Elta MD

Today's product recommendation is Elta MD sunscreen SPF 46. 

Summer is hopefully right around the corner, and I know my family can't wait to hit the beach!!  This week I placed an order for my favorite sunscreen ready for the summer.  I have been using this sunscreen religiously for the past 3 years during the summer months.

  • lightweight, feels like normal light moisturizer
  • non greasy
  • no white chalky stuff on the face after
  • broad-spectrum - i only apply in the morning, and my face doesn't burn through the day
  • good for acne prone skin
  • good for sensitive skin
  • dermatalogist recommended
  • non fragrance
  • cost, the price has gone up, it used to be $22
You can get it here and here

Do you have any favorite sunscreens?  Please do share!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bronx Zoo

We had a long week of rain, and just like that, on mother's day, it was perfect!!!  We decided to go to the Bronx Zoo.  Especially Aiden and Kylin are learning so much about animals these days, and there is no better place than the Bronx Zoo.

Bronx Zoo is really big, there is no way to see the whole zoo in one day, so we picked the attractions we feel the kids would love the most.  Children's Zoo would of been their favorite, but it is closed for renovations until the Summer.  

Did you know there is a little waterfall if you enter from the Bronx River Gate by Parking Lot B?  
Of course we must check out the new Dinosaur Safari ride!  It is a short ride on a large wagon pulled by a jeep.  They have many of them running, so the wait isn't terrible.
At the Butterfly Garden,
Kylin: "Mommy, Did you know butterflies come from caterpillars?" 
Me: "I do, but how does caterpillars become butterflies?"
Kylin: "from the cocoon of course!" 
The best attraction in my opinion of the Bronx Zoo is the Asia Monorail, we forgot our DSLR, so we didn't take good pictures, but here are our favorites!
Here are the 2 beautiful photos taken at Bronx River on the monorail and the glass at the Zoo Center, truly picture perfect!
We ended the night with good old Korean BBQ at Su Ra Chung.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Where to Dine: Mother's Day

It is no surprise every restaurant is packed on Mother's Day, our moms are on break!  Sometimes, dads and husbands can really serve delicious meals on Mother's Day, but we also know that is not always the case. That is definitely not the case with my husband, not that I am complaining because I don't think there is another human being in this world could ever treat me better than Nat.  You'll probably find out why soon enough on this blog.

That being said, we also did not want to kill our brain cells finding a restaurant to take our reservation just to fight with crowds of people to have a meal that may have diminished quality due to quantity of meals being served that day.

So, the solutions is Mogu!  You can show up at any hour, it is probably not crowded, and you get good quality sushi at very good price in Flushing, NY of all places.  That is because I don't think many people know of this place, and it is small, so not very good for groups.  For those of us who live or know the area, do you guys ever wonder why there are so many Asians in Flushing, Bayside, Little Neck, but there are hardly any good sushi place at all?  I can't even count with 5 fingers for good sushi in these areas packed with good eats.  I am seriously puzzled.

PLACE:  Mogu

OVERALL:            3.75 stars
FOOD:                   4 stars
SERVICE:              3 stars (actually very nice service in Flushing standards, but not quite there yet)
ATMOSPHERE:    3 stars
VALUE:                 5 stars

The sushi here stands out because they offer choices like Live UNI, Live Scallops, Botan Ebi, and Lobster Sashimi.  You don't get these choices at a regular sushi place, you just don't.  The price is very reasonable, as you probably will be paying double for the same thing in restaurants in the city.  The place is small, maybe 8 tables of 2 to 4 seats with very basic decor, no liquor license tho, so you can't have good sake with your sushi.  But maybe you can try to bring your own?  The food is pretty good considering location, and especially the price.  The service is good, but I wish they know how to serve such good food properly as they were bringing out dishes too fast, and made me feel rushed to clear the plate due to small table surface.

Live Fish Fin - my first time, it's like sashimi that is a bit more chewy, delicious.

Duck Roll - sushi style cooked duck rolled with thin pancake, good.

Live Whole Uni - for Uni lovers, not the best Uni, but very good for the value.

Hamachi - I love grilled fish, this was delicious served with ponzu, I will always order this!

Live Scallops - very fresh, pretty good

 Fun Rolls - I am not a sushi rolls person, but hubby loves them, these are pretty good.

Botan Ebi - only if you love eating the head part like me!