Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mantou, Macarons, and Man-eating orchids

Walls of orchids on a reflecting pool. SO pretty.

Hey there!

Sometime last week, I turned 24. Yikes. One more year until I become super adult-y.

Some things have changed since I was a kid. For one thing, I realized that homework does not count as a birthday present. I have learned that eating curly fries, lemonade, and chocolate cake every day for lunch has repercussions. Also, I have grown fond of some "adult' things like fancy candles and bath products, date night, meditation, and kale.

Some things have not changed. Long bubble baths, binge-watching cartoons, and waking up super hyper around 6am--just to name a few.

And, as next year will bring me to a new city and the beginning of married life (!), some things I hope will never change: healthy and close friends and family, a passion for art and painting, and a fuzzy cat to rub its head into mine in the mornings.

I love the glass greenhouse. So elegant.

Birthday festivities were scattered throughout the week. Last Sunday, SG, TY, RS, and I went on a excursion to the Botanical Gardens to check out their Orchid Show. As one of my three former roommates, TY wanted to partially revive our annual tradition of celebrating our birthdays together (all four of us had March birthdays!).

Vanilla orchids doing jumping jacks on my head!

Outdoors in the frigid weather, the sprawling garden was...well, dead. However, inside the giant glass and white steel conservatory, thousands of orchids, ferns, cacti, and fruits were thriving.  

Orchids were everywhere, from the moss-covered ground to the vine-encrusted ceilings. Neon orchids bursting in rich hues of purple, green, yellow, pink, you-name-it. Skinny orchids. Fluted orchids. Orchids that smelled like vanilla and chocolate. Skinny orchids. Tiny orchids smaller than my pinky nail. MAN-EATING orchids. (OK, just kidding. But the lady slipper orchid does eat insects...)

Despite being surrounded by orchids, SG was taken by this red leaf thingy.
Some of the most vibrant orchids I have ever seen.

That same weekend, KZ and Mooshu came over to help with wedding activities. KZ surprised me with a light, lemony cake from Citarella! It was unexpected and very sweet of KZ. The cake tasted super light, moist, and bright! I have never ventured into Citarella before, since I assumed they were too fancy for me, but this was a truly great find.

Wanna know a secret? The zingy lemon taste comes from the frosting!!

The day before my birthday, Mooshu texted me at work around 5pm, exclaiming that she was downstairs with "nommies." I was confused but I followed orders and came find two large bags filled with tiny pork buns from Flushing (a double order! yay!) and sweets from one of our favorite bakeries in LES, Panya. There were also amazing doodles all over the bags. I could gush on, but instead, I will refer you to her excellent blog post for all the delicious and juicy details:

fluffy and crispy and porky-y. what's not to looove?

Cute macarons in all colors. Gotta collect them all!

On the night of my birthday, TY told me she had cupcakes and invited me to partake. So, naturally, SG and I invaded her apartment, played with our former cat-mate Marie, and ate A LOT. After dinner, we decorated the chocolate-molasses cupcakes with swiss merignue frosting in light lilac. And, naturally, blew out our pretty candles.

This brings us to the last two days, in which my parents joined me in the city for some good-ole  sight-seeing, shopping, and people watching.

In China, you are supposed to eat "longevity" noodles for your birthday, so I took them to Cocoron II (the original location on Delancy is slightly better, but it is so small it is really for parties of 2, so we went to its larger sister on Kenmare).

Ahh. The Infamous dip noodles.

The last few times I went to Cocoron, I thought the dip noodles were cold, since they say cold noodle.  Then I saw people getting their own candle-lit, bubbly clay pots of sauce to dip their soba, and I knew I had to try it this time. 

I got the rich and spicy Meera-Meera, which did not disappoint! SG got his usual Stamina noodle and slurped happily, which is as good a review as any. Mom liked her chicken meatball, and Dad thought his mushroom and dried tofu was "agreeable"..which is basically 4 stars in his book. We all got hot tea, shared appetizers of their homemade silken tofu (funny texture, but probably makes sense since homemade), sticky yam, and a green tea affogato to end. Cocoron is lighthearted and fun everytime, and I am glad I took this opportunity to share it with my parents.

Yay parents! And unkown hipsters in the back.

Hm. This was a rather long post. Kudos if you read even half of it.

I am pooped just from writing it. I'm going to go chill with my tea buddy now. 'Till next time!

Thanks, Mr. Sun, for this awesome tea buddy.