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Cacio e Pepe

Living in New York, and America in general, is very interesting as people here tend to either eat out at restaurants or order take out a large proportion of the time. Being from England I am used to home cooked meals and due to the fact I miss it so much I'm trying to cook in the apartment as much as possible. Which, as a student in New York City, is also a much easier way to keep my spending to a minimum.

So, thanks to Chrissy Teigen's instagram I decided to make Cacio e Pepe tonight, with a limey twist.

Ingredients: Arugula, Lime, Spaghetti, Parsmesan, Chili Flakes & Beer (optional)
200 grams of spaghetti & 200-250 grams of cheese, the rest is fair game

In the end I decided not to use the Prosciutto that I had, but next time I'm going to add that in. You can pretty much add any meat you fancy to this dish due to its simplicity. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare and around 25 minutes to cook overall. A simple, quick, tasty dish. What more could you ask for?

Step #1: grate your cheese [pecorino romano is the most commonly known cheese used, but I went for parmigiano reggiano] and for an even simpler option, you can buy your cheese grated to lessen the workload

Step #2: boil the water, add salt and then place 200 grams of spaghetti [if you are able to find Tonnarelli, that will work even better]

Step #3: Keep a small portion of the pasta water to the side and drain the rest out

Step #4: Gradually add the cheese and leftover pasta water to the dish in order to create a creamy consistency [and in my case, red chili pepper flakes as I like my food spicy]

Step #5: Then add arugula to the dish, which contributes extremely well, and also gives you some of your daily greens

To finish, I served it up on a plate, added some zesty lime juice and voila! Black pepper is also a common addition to Cacio e Pepe, which I substituted for Chili flakes. It is an extremely easy dish to make, and any personal additions will help to create even different masterpieces. I recommend a cold beer to accompany the dish, however a nice glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would also compliment it extremely well.


Shakespeare in Central Park

Before anything, can we take a moment to appreciate how beautiful Central Park (otherwise known as my garden, or in the American dictionary, my "backyard") is. It's summertime in New York city and the park is full of people basking in all of its glory. End of note.

Over the past few summers in England my mum has taken me to the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park where I have been lucky enough to watch a few plays. I knew Central Park offered the same deal in their own Open Air Theatre, the Delacorte Theatre just off of the west 81st entrance into the park. I was lucky enough to be following Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a regular in the show Modern Family, on Twitter. Due to him being in the current show, The Tempest, which started on May 28th, I was able to see that the show had only recently started. With the knowledge that the first few days of a show were easiest to get in to I rounded up a couple of my friends and we decided to go along and get tickets.

Tickets for Shakespeare in the Park are free, the only catch is that you have to wait in a line for a couple of hours. As you can see in the photo below, the line stretches back pretty far. Ticket giveaways start at 12pm, but the key is to arrive in the park between 8-10am if you want to make sure you obtain a ticket. It has also been known in the past for people to camp outside of the park until it opens at 6am (but this is for the die hard fans).

Luckily, we were able to keep ourselves entertained in the line with the help of this little fella. He came and snuggled up right on my leg and I really didn't want to let him leave because he was so soft, but sadly I had to eventually.

and of course my selfie taking skills looking extremely happy in line. Plus, some stellar entertainment which you can watch HERE.

After obtaining our tickets we were extremely hungry, naturally, so we went to grab a little slice of heaven. Otherwise known as CHIPOTLE. You will have noticed that I capitalized and enhanced that little piece of text. This, my friends, is because Chipotle is pretty much my favourite restaurant ever. I don't think anyone that knows me would ever disagree due to the extent in which I venture to this chain. I genuinely believe I am probably one of their greatest customers and should really have received one of their chipotle gold cards by now. Petition for this is imminent. 

Following this I decided to venture away from my friends for a couple of hours and go exploring through Central Park before the show. Meeting some new friends along the way (in the form of animals).

 That last picture is what my future home will undoubtedly look like (in my dreams)

Finally it was time to meet up with the rest of my comrades and make our way into the theatre. It was an extremely smooth process with the doors opening at 7:30pm and the play starting promptly at 8pm. Whilst my friend Peter and I were waiting for the rest of our group we were just minding our own business, sitting on one of the large rocks outside the theatre when we see none other than Jesse Tyler Ferguson walk right next to us on his phone [we have a sneaky suspicion he was pretending so that no one bothered him before he went into his performance]. 40 minutes before the show and he just casually rocks up. What a lad!

Overall, the show was fantastic and anyone that gets the opportunity should really go and see the Tempest whilst its available from May 27th - July 5th. Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays his character extremely well as has been perfectly cast as the Jester during the performance, with his comical value shining throughout. I was in awe of the rest of the cast and the numerous lines they had to learn, especially the character of Prospero portrayed by Academy Award nominee Sam Waterston (Newsroom, Law & Order, The Public's King Lear).

For more information please visit the website: Shakespeare in the Park.

Mum! Dad! I'm cultured now.


Dodington Design School

Are you wondering who these two beautiful women are? Well, to me they are my mum, Tracey (left) and my aunt, Leigh (right), however to any aspiring interior designers out there they are the co-creators of Dodington Design School, which offers courses and workshops specializing in interior design throughout the home. 

Tracey has always had a passion for taking old, unloved homes and creating masterpieces, our own house for example. What was once a renovators nightmare has been turned into the beautiful, modern home we now live in. Whilst renovating our house, mum also kept traveling back and forth between London and our home to receive her interior design degree from the prestigious KLC London, and with that degree she now wants to help others with their homes. 

The workshops offered range from cushion making to the necessities needed for a roman blind. Leigh, from a young age, has been in love with sewing and textiles and received a diploma in Art & Design; specializing in curtain design and making. With 30+ years experience in the field, Leigh has a talent that she is willing to share with others, not only in curtain making, but also soft furnishings and dressmaking ranging from children to bridal gowns. 

Since the beginning of Dodington Design School, Tracey and Leigh have renovated their workspace by knocking through what was once the garage area and expanding. This is what, the now, main area of the school used to look like..

Now, however, it looks like this..

It's somewhat like a real life episode of Grand Designs [a British television show for all of those Americans out there]. They have created a masterpiece and are growing their business day by day. Not only do they teach people the art of interior design, but they also use their own work as a canvas - the bench you see in the pictures, for example, was hand crafted and made by the company itself. 

If you would like to get into the interior design field or merely would like to see what all the fuss is about then please book yourself on a workshop at https://dodingtondesignschool.co.uk where you will be able to find out all the information on the courses offered. Also, if you know a friend that has just moved into a new home and this is the idea of the perfect present then gift certificates are also available. Go on, get your inner designer out and have a go!


Burger Joint

I started off my day by moving four years worth of belongings from the Bronx to the city. It was a struggle, but thanks to the help of my good friend Omar (and his car), the whole journey went pretty smoothly. Obviously I offered him a good lunch for helping me out as we had both worked up one heck of an appetite.

Anyone that knows me will know that food is a major part of my life. If there is one thing I know, it's a good restaurant, or in terms of Burger Joint a great "hole in the wall" [in this case, literally a hole in the wall].

As you may know Le Parker Meridien is a beautiful hotel with a wonderful cocktail joint and restaurant to accompany it. You would not expect to find a greasy burger joint in the hotel. However, this is not just any burger restaurant; you walk into the beautiful hotel, there are no signs towards burger joint however once you enter the doors you are able to see a red curtain hanging from the ceiling with a short passageway next to it. Walking down this passageway you come to an illuminated burger sign leading the way to your delicious feast.

You are welcomed into the restaurant by the wonderful smell of burgers of the grill being cooked to your liking (and by quite a large queue due to the popularity of the hole in the wall). Make sure you know what you want once you get to the front of the line because they don't like faffers as it makes everything move a lot slower. It's an open plan kitchen so you are able to see the food being made as you order and wait, along with some friendly banter from the chefs and workers behind the counter.

The menu is relatively small, and there are gluten options available for those that are not able to eat the bread, but what more could you ask for than an extremely greasy cheeseburger to satisfy all of your wants and needs. Omar went for the cheeseburger, whilst I went all out and got the double cheeseburger with lettuce, pickles and mayo, but there are a few other additions you can have such as tomatoes, onions, and mustard. Accompanied with a bag of fries and a drink. The only downside to the sodas is that you are not able to refill them unless you want to pay and the cups are a pretty minuscule size. Aside from that, I would not complain about anything else to do with the restaurant. 

We got lucky as there were people leaving when we arrived, but when you go expect to wait for a table as the restaurant can get extremely busy at times. Which only shows how popularity of the burgers. For all of the foreigners coming to the USA, there are menus on the wall outside the restaurant in a variety of different languages for your pleasure. Not only can you wait in line to order your food, if you really cannot be bothered you can just sit at a table, fill out a menu card and wait for the waiter/ess to come over and take your order.

If you go, let me know what you think and send me pictures of your beautiful, greasy burgers. As you can probably tell from this next picture, I didn't enjoy the food that much...


Browsing through the Botanical Gardens

I woke up pretty late today, but decided I wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. I've been living here two years now and going to the Botanical Gardens has been one of my favourite aspects of going to Fordham; it's such a beautiful addition to the already gorgeous campus we have. I'm moving into the city for the summer tomorrow, so I figured I would take one last trip to the gardens before it becomes a lot more time consuming and difficult to do so.

PSA for any Fordham student: with your ID you can get into the botanical gardens FREE, so abuse it whilst you can during your time there. For anyone else, it costs $20 for adults on weekdays and $25 on weekends. Alongside this, I'm not sure if running in the botans is technically allowed, but I have run through there a couple of times and not only does it give you a workout, but you also get a beautiful view during [let's keep that our little secret though, just in case].

Sunglasses: Ray Ban Dress: I bought it a couple of years ago, but similar from the store here

I started off walking along the canoe trail which was beautiful. It mainly consisted of one path through a forest area which was an extremely peaceful walk - slightly hill orientated at times, but fun nonetheless. I was able to hear all the animals rustling around in the leaves as there was no one else around whilst I was walking the path. As it's the beginning of summer it's not excruciatingly hot or busy right now, so if I were you I would take a visit there soon to get the most out of your experience.

Once I came out of the trail I came to a beautiful waterfall. I was sitting there for about 5 minutes just listening to the water hit where the waterfall ended, I even took a seat in the process to relax after my path walk hike.

Excuse my feet, they're weird I know.

After all of this extremely tough walking I took myself to the childrens area of the botans, which I personally consider one of my favourite areas of the gardens. Mainly because they make animal figures out of the plants and its an all-round fun experience (yes, I am still 12 at heart). I also got to watch these adorable kids play acting, and it was quite possibly one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

Not sure what to name him? I'm thinking Colin the Caterpillar (maybe not)

I took a walk to the other side of the gardens after this and saw some beautiful flowers throughout. I came across my favourite arrangement before I started to get hungry. It is situated in the Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden and although it's just a flower arrangement it reminded me of Alice and Wonderland for some reason, I told you I was a kid at heart. 

Finally I had to eat something. There's a Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Botanical Gardens at the moment, running from now until November 1st, so get in there quick if you want to see it. She is a Mexican citizen and because of this the gardens had a pop up Mexican restaurant, La Cantina. Anyone that knows me will know that 1. I love food and 2. Mexican is a type of food, because of this you can imagine how happy I was. It was a small, but exciting menu so I went for a guacamole and chips and a drink that I wasn't familiar with, a Michelada; it is basically a Bloody Mary, but it substitutes the vodka for a beer. I went for a negro modelo, but there were a couple of other beers on tap. For anyone that is a fan of a Bloody Mary, I suggest trying this new take on the recipe. 

I fully suggest trying out La Cantina before it gets taken down in November, especially if you like Mexican because the guacamole was out of this world. But be quick, it disappears soon!


Now the real world starts.. or does it?

My (semi) graduation has taken place. By semi graduation, I mean that I walked for graduation but am yet to receive my diploma as I have a few classes to take over the course of this summer. Then by August of this year I will be completely finished. How did the time go so quickly and can I rewind it?

College has by far been some of the greatest years of my life. Yes, you always meet people that you won't see eye to eye with, (un)surprisingly common between Brits and Americans due to the sense of humour barrier between the two - coming from England I have grown up with an over exaggerated sarcasm and friendliness in the way I act. Americans on the other hand are a lot more stand offish, not in every case [you get the odd few that are exactly like me], but for the most part they find it extremely difficult. Firstly, understanding my sense of humour can be a struggle for them. Americans have a knack for being serious a large portion of the time, whereas as Brits we are a lot more laissez faire about situations, and secondly, there is a common misconception between my friendliness coming across as flirting. This is sadly a common misconception I have had to face over the years, but with my personality, I have tried as little as possible to let it be a problem for me. I'm not one for confrontation (mainly because I fail miserably at arguing), therefore I just let most things go right over my head. Go with the flow and all that jazz. 

Aside from these minor qualms I've had, I have had the greatest four years of my life that I wouldn't change for the world. Whether it was my first two years at Marshall University, which don't get me wrong is in the middle of bumblef**k no where, but is home to some of the nicest people I could have ever met. Then to move onto Fordham University in New York was a dream come true. I had wanted to live in New York since I was little Ellie "five bellies" (yep, that was the nickname given to me by my parents, SO LOVED). I can honestly say I've met some lifelong friends here and I've had the most incredible of times in one of the greatest cities in the world. Sadly now that it's almost coming to an end I'm going to have to stop using the excuse of being a college student for drinking on a weekday and maybe turn into a normal person?

Saying that, after I finish with my studies in August I intend to go home for a few months and then move onto the next place. I'm thinking of working a ski season, where does everyone suggest the best location would be... France, Canada, New Zealand? If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. The next adventure awaits. 

Cheers to being one of my favourite cities to live in, New York!