Author Archives: iheartccs

A Taste of New York

If there’s one thing you can’t fault this city for, it’s food. Their extensive variety puts even the abundant SoCal selections to shame. Not only that, but it’s practically a gluten free paradise which thrilled me to no end.  About every corner in Manhattan you can find Halal carts, but only a few of them actually are worth visiting, according to my guide.  That didn’t stop me from sniffing the grilled kabobs like a curious hound when hiking through the city.


Shake Shack (DoBro)
My first official meal in the city and frankly the best one.  There are multiple locations but I headed to the one near the apartment. There was hardly a line at 11:30 when they’ve just opened but I knew later in the day a sea of customers would descend.  It’s a nondescript building, very clean and modern looking with black and green motif.
I didn’t expect much after hearing everyone rave about its greatness, but my philosophy is that when you have a name you should make it count.  Therefore, the shakes should knock my socks off.  They feature frozen custard (their own recipe made daily on the premises) and use it as a base to their shakes; I chose the flavor of the week which was red velvet.  The problem I have with shakes and dessert in general is the excessive amount of sugar, but here they’re light on sweetness, smooth and rich in flavor at the same time.  My verdict?  Instant love with this blissful concoction that took me to the moon and back.  I would only make the cup slightly more artistic since it is their signature item and for what you pay, should be a visual marvel, not a humble minimum.
Their other items were pretty great I have to admit.  Even if I prefer skinny fries their crinkle cut ones were definitely crunchy and cooked to perfection.  Their patty is made from Angus beef, seasoned with a crispy charred exterior.  I didn’t have a lot of the bun because of my intolerance but they’re toasted of the standard diner variety.
I feel like a traitor to my state preferring it over In-N-Out but I can’t fight this feeling anymore, I’m so gone for them. I would say though that it’s hardly comparable since they’re probably more than triple the price of my local legend.  Yes, I will be back to partake in your shakes, and since one recently opened up on my coastline, it will be soon.





Il Buco (SoHo)
Our birthday celebration took us to this authentic Italian spot in the ever so hipsterlicious neighborhood where you may find all the artsy Ho Hey bohemian type shops and population.  The homey atmosphere and European waiters took me back to Venice.  Our server explained the menu changes daily depending on what the chef found at the market that morning.  Also there are no changes allowed since the ingredients are chosen to harmonize in a particular way.  I liked that control freak aspect, it makes sense in a non corporate setting.  I wished I could partake of all the fresh handmade pasta but alas.
Side note: they don’t carry soda (!)



NoGlu (Manhattan)
A Parisienne chef crossed the ocean to bring America the gift of an entirely gluten free bakery.  With bakeries I learned there’s a tricky aspect I call game of timing.  If you walk in first thing when they open, which is what I did, they don’t have everything on their menu ready since the baker works on making things fresh throughout the day.  Should you try to visit later on, you risk missing out on popular items that will sell out as soon as they’re available.  I was dying to try their chocolate tart but since it was too early, settled for other items instead.

Brioche: incorrectly named muffins (brioche is supposed to be a rich fluffy yeast bread), I loved the blackberry ones, the dough was slightly sweet and the almonds on top were a nice touch; the chocolate one was dry and tasteless

Blackberry tart: berries were fine, a vanilla bean base and a dry gritty crust was not very pleasant, I think they should go for a traditional pate sucree which would be more tender

It was a priority for me to visit this shop but next time I’ll skip it and explore the 20 other bakeries on the same street that offer gluten free items.

Side note: Is it just me or are places opening later and later, like why would bakeries open anytime after 8am? All customers want to eat their bread before they go to work or school, do they not want to wake up for more profit?  Makes no sense!!!! <end rant>



Pio Bagel (DoBro)
Somehow I forgot that New York is famous for their bagels (I knew about the pizza, but missed my chance, grr).  This building is across the street from where I was staying and I didn’t consider going in until I saw a sign saying they carry gluten free ones.  Hold the phone!  The morning of my departure, I stopped in first thing. I appreciate these kinds of places since they’re tasked with feeding people on the way to work, in a sense, fueling America one morning at a time.
I went with the classic bagel with cream cheese.  And guess what, it tasted like the normal chewy bagel, unbelievable.  I took another one in sandwich form so I could later devour it on the plane.  I noticed they were generous with their meat and wrapped the whole thing twice with butcher paper – now that’s quality. I long to have one again, bagels will haunt my dreams for a while.



made with love and sorcery



Straight Into Brooklyn

Go to New York City, they said.
It’ll be fun, they said.

On a sad gray Friday the 13th I drove to LAX and stood in the nauseating security line before boarding a plane.

Destination: New York City to see my cousin for his birthday.

After determining an engine problem my flight 415 deplaned and took over another aircraft originally destined for Las Vegas (sorry folks, but it only takes an hour, the casinos will still be there).  They were very organized and efficient in transferring us so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, ie canceling the flight altogether.

Close to landing, I looked out the window and was in awe of the glittering splendor of gold and silver lights strewn over expanses of homes and rivers.  “Welcome to New York,” said the flight attendant, which made me laugh.

I found myself alone at JFK 3am EST where a line of cab drivers heckled the arrivals exit hungry for passengers.  I was told to take the New Golden Horse Car Service, a Chinese company to fetch her royal highness for a better fee than a standard taxi.  I called and someone picked me up to head over to DoBro (downtown Brooklyn), up 34 floors and made it to the apartment to be greeted by the resident dog Koa, a noble character with more dignity than I could hope to possess.


After an intense hugging session with Koa, I crashed on the couch next to the NYC skyline
DSCN2871                                           #swagcityviews #highlife

My work schedule trained me to wake before the dawn.  I could easily see everything from this window that looks upon the Manhattan skyline (Chrysler, Empire State Building, Freedom, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.) but I guess it’s time to go meet the famed metropolis up close.

Waiting for everyone else in my family to rise, I went out with my cousin to walk Koa, going through this swanky entrance on Bridge Street


Then we made our way to the Myrtle Promenade


After a yummy lunch, we were off to the screechy lurchy subway!

Love Notion #8: The Doll or the Dragon

Oh, I think I found myself a cheerleader/
she is always right there when I need her

– Cheerleader

Compared to women and their extensive lists of dealmakers/breakers, men have simple tastes.  From talking to guys in my life I gather this is a general outline of their ideal mate:

  • Makes me feel like I’m their hero
  • Encourages my hobbies
  • Motivates me to be the best man possible
  • Respects and believes in me
  • Doesn’t try to change me
  • Always sweet and loyal even when I fail

So a female version of Baymax, basically.

Sometimes I feel the pressure of performing the docile role given in Gone Girl. She’s every man’s dream: hot and understanding, “She doesn’t mind, she’s the coolest” – the definitive compliment because he is getting his way in whatever he wants. She enjoys sports, burping, video games, drinking, and junk food. When he is forgetful or inconsiderate there is no penalty, she just smiles and moves on. They’re not pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.

Are all the above fair and realistic traits to ask for when considering a significant other? I comprehend these attributes conceptually but practicing them has been unsuccessful. It seems we have to compete to be like Samantha from the film Her, an operation system personality who loves without judgment. Of course I rebel at endorsement of easy going behavior, being contrary to the core, but others may not be so immune. Apparently image issues aren’t enough, women have to try to run a Stepford act to lure in a boyfriend as well.

So what is the type men try to avoid?

  • Opinionated and demanding
  • Criticizes decisions
  • Sensitive and amplifies situations out of proportion
  • Gets drunk on jealousy
  • Complains about everything
  • Acts like something is wrong but says it’s “nothing”
  • Plays mind games
  • Nags and brings up past grievances

The message is clear: chill = gold, crazy = fail. All the men in my tree tell me they steer miles away from women who possess these exciting features. Regrettably I have most of them in abundance and despair of becoming the former type that is so desirable.
Not that I would conform to popular standards for their own sake, but a lady who practices mercy, sees the good in everything, and never raises her voice – even if all that sounds so vanilla – is meritable.  I fail to give credit and assume the worst, acting as judge/ jury/ executioner. It doesn’t help that I forget guys have feelings since I’m so busy denying my emotions every day I inevitably fail to acknowledge them from others, which won’t serve in the long run.

I’m not quite sure which path to follow, but think there should be a fair balance of being one who is supportive and challenging at the same time. It’s a long unnatural road for me to restrain my cynical Daria voice. The best I have managed was to try setting aside my preferences and expectations.  That means everyone starts with 0 points and if something is done well, then it’s a pleasant surprise.  If things don’t work out, nothing is lost.  This immature strategy turns my regard into something conditional and any given situation is a test (but not for birthdays or anniversaries, sod those).

The way I see it, I’ll end up with someone who isn’t easily hurt by authoritative strength and enjoys bickering every day or find a peaceful drink of water who can handle the raging fires of my heart. Either way, I know that life is too short to pretend that I’m anything other than a moody hater so cheers to the brave soul who can tangle with a shrew like me. After all, even the psycho girls need love too.


Many thanks to the inspirational post I Wasn’t Treating My Husband Fairly And It Wasn’t Fair

Profile: Anthony Bourdain



A man of the world best known for his shows No Reservations, Layover, and recently Parts Unknown. He is living the dream – traveling and eating with all expenses paid.

Hotness factor
He has a certain rockstar quality. Tall and dressed usually in a button up shirt and jeans, he strolls foreign streets with swagger.  He’ll rough it camping with the locals and will dive into any exotic dish.  Ultra confident and adventurous, no wonder men and women alike swoon for him.

Food Fan
Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.

As a chef he appreciates food on a deeper level than most, knowing what it takes to create a dish and hold a restaurant together.  He encourages viewers to leave their jobs and families in pursuit of incredible eats, an offer we all are keen to take watching him enjoy his meals. It’s made clear numerous times his number one love = sausage.


Avoid the Obvious
Skip the Eiffel Tower.  Boo, London Eye.  Colosseum, nah.  Since the audience doesn’t want to see the same common landmarks, he’s got to mix it up a little.  On the occasions he has less than 48 hours he prefers to go to less crowded areas and hit local pubs so he can play and drink at leisure.

Tony hails from the kitchens of New York so you have to expect a crusty edge.  I love how he mocks guide books (apparently not rock n roll enough for him).  I guess he thinks he’s the final authority when journeying around the world.

Nightmare List
What ruffles Tony’s chill?  A bar spontaneously bursting into song of course!  He was definitely not feeling London that night.  Also, mimes are just wrong in his book.


Hipster Hatin’
His disdain of tights wearing preppies in fedoras swarming in hot spots is legendary.  Just say no to wheat bread and tahini.


On California
Try as he may to fight it, he is all about the Inn N Out life, yo.  Between the beaches and opulent hotels and cruising in style, he knows he can get used to this.  And yes, our weather is absolutely glorious, thanks for noticing!


Global Bridges
A white male shows us he is unafraid to enter ethnic restaurants and rough it in remote areas.  In this way he is our key to places to see and people to connect with.  We realize there is so much out there we are missing out on if only we take the first step.


Thanks Tony, for showing folks like me how to hit the roads less traveled!

*dedicated to JSJ*


****spoilers all around****

Sword fights, magic spells, knights on horseback, and there be dragons. Friendships that grow in spite of class differences are explored as characters bond over quests and grow up together. I loved seeing the flashing amber eyes effect whenever magic was performed. As far as the finale, er, I guess we’re still waiting for a conclusion?

Wizard angst here we go.  The scarf about his neck makes him look like a perpetual hipster street performer. Always messes up but goes above and beyond to save anyone in need. That scene where he struck Nimueh down was quite surprising because he was so much weaker than her and it was very dark for him to kill without hesitation.  His joy at finding his father and grief got to me. His inherited Dragon powers are easily the coolest concept of the show (Eragon eat your heart out). I wish he learned telepathy or at least a decent concealment spell. His finally ending Morgana up close and personally was sudden and satisfying.

Extremely gorgeous character whose breaking bad transformation makes her a perpetual nuisance as the thing that just won’t die. Uther never dealt with advisors but was so tragically blinded by this daughter of evil. I was sick of her by the first season, I kept yelling for someone to cut her head off whenever she was knocked unconscious.

The once and future king. Just, pure, and a loyal friend for all seasons, he is the epitome of honor. Quite a dish. I love it when he calls GuineVERE.


The Great Dragon
Poor beast, chained up and having to use your infinite wisdom dealing with an emo teenager day in and day out. I wish he could have been used to wipe out Cenred’s army.

So many hot guys in one show, unbelievable.  All skilled and loyal enough to take stand for his king to the point of death (and female disguises).

What is love. Here today and gone tomorrow. Respect. That’s what lasts.
Thankfully no one is moony eyed or pining over each other while involved with someone else. Those who are in love have to deal with plenty of obstacles.  Nice that Arthur and Morgana were somewhat intended for one another but they act more like unimpressed siblings. Merlin was immune to most women on the show, hardly any of them turn his head.

Medieval phrases

– Lose some weight, fatty.
– I came back because you’re my only friend and I can’t afford to lose you.
– Some choices are easy. Some stay with you forever.
– All great struggles demand sacrifice.
– To be more powerful than any man and live like a shadow.
– Dollop head.
– Clot pole.
– You never know when you might need to kill someone.
– The future is as yet unshaped. It is we that shape it.
– Destiny and chicken. What a beautiful combination, eh?
– You are such a girl’s petticoat.
– Have you been on the cider?
– Will it be hot? Will it be cold? Will it be wet? Will it be dry?
– I believe in you. I always have.
– Patience is the key to wisdom.
– I swear I will protect you or die at your side.
– Are you threatening me with a spoon? (Offscreen smack) Ow!
– I am who I am and I am who I was and I will always be.
– I’m like a swan. On the surface it looks like there’s a lot going on underneath.


  • Arthur asking Merlin if he should marry Princess Helena and the response given.
  • Merlin helping Arthur to express his feelings for Lady Vivian
  • Merlin applying the gaja berries on Arthur’s face.
  • Arthur’s exclaiming he is not fat when Merlin takes away his food.
  • Arthur binding Merlin’s wound.
  • Arthur punching Merlin fondly as they go out to face the dragon.
  • Arthur trains and fights with the inexperienced villagers of Ealdor because it is Merlin’s hometown.
  • Gwaine and Merlin cementing their friendship in the perilous lands.
  • Merlin waiting outside all night as Arthur bids farewell to his father.
  • Arthur giving Merlin a piggyback ride!
  • Merlin thrilled when Arthur proposes to Gwen, giving him a hard time about holding an unromantic tourney for her.
  • Arthur given a simpleton mind spell with his dopey expressions, going around in tight clothes and hugging trees
  • Hanging out in a giant net trap.
  • Just hold me.tumblr_mduz8qzNEd1rkarx5o1_500

Magical moments

  • Merlin giving the Fisher King the Phoenix bracelet.
  • Merlin being an insulting punk to everyone under mind control and being thwarted in his attempts to kill Arthur, very Joxer-like.
  • Running joke about Merlin’s disappearances to the tavern.
  • Gaius and Merlin’s mealtime conferences, especially when they eating beetles.
  • Guinevere and Arthur’s epic kiss.
  • Lancelot leaving Guinevere for Arthur’s sake.
  • Merlin administering poison and setting the dragon free. Pathos!
  • Uther rushes to the front of enemy lines to defend Camelot from Cenred’s army.
  • Uther expressing his gratitude to Arthur for throwing the fight, he not only shows his attention to Arthur’s skills but also recognizes his motive to honor him.
  • Bar fight with dreamy Gwaine!
  • Guinevere reprimanding the council for shutting out people looking for shelter.
  • Gwaine sticking his hand in the trunk for honey.
  • Gaius stepping in and knocking down Morgause.
  • Merlin aiding the knights in stealing a chicken from the kitchen.
  • Arthur rejecting George, the efficient manservant replacement, because he’s not as fun.
  • Morgause and Cenred’s exchange.
  • Uther bewitched and enamored with his troll bride.
  • Throwdown between Morgana and old disguised Merlin.
  • Gaius slapping Uther’s bald head around.
  • Merlin and aging spell, that was pure genius! His crotchety snarling is top notch.
  • Sir Leon lives!
  • Gwaine winning battles to earn food under Morgana’s rule.
  • The hot pirate couple Tristan and Isolde, their transitioning respect won by Arthur and tragic devotion.
  • Merlin setting up the people of Camelot and sword in the stone to lift Arthur from doubt of his abilities.
  • Queen Guinevere taking care of business as she roots out the traitor Sefa and sentences her to death. And all of it was a gambit to catch her father!
  • Nemeton is Stonehenge! And the land of the dead has so many lens flares!
  • Knights hazing Mordred.
  • Female sorceress Merlin and all her mannerisms!!! Solid.
  • Balinor giving Merlin hope in the crystal caves
  • Biblically epic lightning entrance in the battle!


Long live the legend of Camelot.


This will be a dull year for me as Ed Sheeran decided to rest and stay off social media.  Being a celebrity is a lot of noise and a lot more nonsense, so I would understand avoiding the public eye, but withdrawing from such a glorious product is somewhat depressing.  However, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the break will make the reunion that much sweeter when he returns this fall.

Been listening to his old works from the 5 albums he released before he got mainstream (‘Lately’ is a sick tune you need to check out). As per usual thinking of him since really, he is a spectacular human being.

1) True love isn’t blind.  I have to acknowledge that his hedonistic views on life aren’t compatible with mine.  His liberal philosophies are none too wise, but everyone has room for improvement, eh?
2) He also does his best to be nice to all his fans because the way celebrities treat people create lasting impressions.  He claims anyone should be able to turn off aggression or negative feelings when meeting crowds.  It’s only been a few years of stardom my dear, wait for a decade and see where you land, because paparazzi and fans can be unbelievably rude and annoying!
3) I appreciate the looping and unique energy of his faster songs, therefore I’m not into Thinking Out Loud or Photograph.  Brilliantly written lyrics, yet the music and style were kind of lame compared to his other works.  The music videos, on the other hand, are stunning works of art!

The + girl
Most people would love to be immortalized in a song or movie, but if it’s based on intimate moments, might be strange.  I wonder what she’s like, the one that inspired all the words and am thankful for her existence because without her, we wouldn’t have the honest experiences of love that he shared with the world.

Seeing him develop and step up his gear over time is so gratifying, life is good when you get to upgrade.

Self haircut →  salon most likely
Ratty guitars → custom ‘X’ guitar sets
Homeless → Tennessee mansion
Random picks → custom ‘X’ picks
Store loop pedal → custom model
Acoustic scene → large screens
Of course, he always adds on his tattoos, for better or worse.
Concert style
Loop boss puts it down, the twists and turns and extensions of his songs are nothing like what you hear on the radio.  He wrenches your heart as you get lost in his ballads then forces adrenaline when he rocks out to his fast beats.  The way he handles the timing by himself onstage is incredible, working like a maniac the whole time.  And the way he grasps the mic and pours out his feelings, you just feel jealous of the mic.
Award shows
He’s off when he wins, maybe a little antagonistic and condescending saying that such ceremonies are all decided upon by big wigs that dictate trends without knowing what talent, skill, or sacrifice mean, but we all knew it’s politics and show.  Much to the delight of Sheerios all over da world, our darling just won his first Grammy!  Cue sighs and tears of joy.

– Ed Sheeran appearing on my birthday and singing to me
– Touching his hair and making him laugh
– Chaining him in my basement so he can only write and sing for me when I demand it

Happy birthday, my ginga ninja! You shine and make me thankful to be alive!


Romance as Told by Movies

It’s just, people have these romantic projections they put on everything. That’s not based on any kind of reality.
– Before Sunrise

Love is tricky to define.  There’s the calm respectful type displaying logic and stability.  Alternately there are insanely passionate affairs involving extreme jealousy and control.  Or one can find a smoothie blend of something in between.  Mmm, smoothie…huh, where was I?  Oh yeah, every relationship has their own unique dynamic and cost.

Also to state the obvious: there is no such thing as “the one” person that’s right for you. There are various compatible options while we’re single and that shifts as we transform into different stages. Why stress out on whether or not you “missed” out on someone? The notion is absurd.

Movies will try to sell you on a lot of nonsense when it comes to love. But we can always take away a lesson from each couple’s example for better or for worse.


In classic Animaniacs fashion, here’s a list of examples we have in media:

Good idea: I cheered in the theater when Edward held off on sleeping together until they were married. Take that, society!
Bad idea: Bella fell apart when Edward left her and kept trying to risk her life in order to hallucinate that he was there.

Good idea: Kitty and Levin did it right, timing is everything.
Bad idea: Anna and Vronsky ruined their lives and families because they couldn’t help but to put themselves first.

Good idea: File not found
Bad idea: Rushing into love at first sight, secret marriage, then double suicide?! Fools at their finest.

Good idea: Picture your life with someone in the long run before making a decision. Don’t take the easy way out by being with someone you think everyone wants you to marry. Also, get in the water!
Bad idea: How about let’s not cheat on your fiance with your first love that you never got closure from?

Good idea:  Find someone who understands and is wholly devoted to you.
Bad idea: See previous entry, “It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I trust it.”

Good idea: Love should not be selfish. Take risks but don’t get too carried away.
Bad idea: That means you, stop dodging airport security you bad bad kid!

Good idea: The other person should bring out the best in you.
Bad idea: Choosing someone only for their status is unwise.

sense and sensibility poster
Good idea: Gentlemen, keep your word and make sure not to lead a woman on when you have someone already.
Bad idea: Ladies, you’re in danger investing emotionally in a man without verbal confirmation and approval from friends and family.

Love is a choice, not merely a feeling.