Outdoor Dining – Roberta’s in Brooklyn

If you have friends from out of town who want a Brooklyn experience, you take them for pizza at Roberta’s. It’s deceptively scrappy from the outside, being housed in a somewhat gritty and industrial lot in Bushwick, and being staffed by workers who look like they stepped out of an episode of High Maintenance, but underneath it all, it runs an extremely well-oiled machine cranking out some amazing food. And now that you have no choice but to be a tourist in your own town, why not revisit the wonderful patio at Roberta’s, which recently opened for the summer? Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this idea, because when I checked Resy for weekend brunch availability, it was already slim pickings. 11:00 am, however, was available. A bite of the fabulous Bee Sting pie made the early wake-up call so worth it–outdoor dining at Roberta’s is the best thing ever.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – La Mercerie

I admire how much the restaurants in NYC have really hustled to get outdoor dining to work. I watched construction crews sawing away at boards to build makeshift patios in record time. And I’m so glad for it, because outdoor dining really has breathed new life into the city. It used to be depressing walking down the eerie, abandoned streets, but now things are lively again. In Soho, in particular, some stretches remind me of the gaiety of nightlife in the Marais in Paris…in years past.

I really have to hand it to La Mercerie for going the extra mile with its outdoor set up, which is arguably the most attractive outdoor restaurant in the city. It feels like a proper outdoor patio, like it was built with permanent intentions, as opposed to being a quick appendage. That’s why La Mercerie wins the award for best outdoor dining in NYC.

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Matcha Blondies

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of matcha baking recipes. Matcha, the trendy green-tea powder that’s now offered in lattes and drinks everywhere, is a very complex ingredient. It’s a bit of an adult taste, since it has an earthy, bitter aspect to it, so using just a tad too much can totally ruin your dessert, but if you use too scant an amount, then it’s as if you used none at all. But after a lot of tinkering, I’m happy to have successfully pulled off a super easy matcha blondie recipe. When I pulled the blondies out of the oven and took a bite, I felt like Goldie Locks when I thought to myself, this is just right.

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Jungsik Seoul in Cheong-dam – 2 Michelin Star Lunch Tasting

Fine dining Korean restaurants are very much en vogue these days (pre-covid of course), but that wasn’t the case roughly a decade ago. Jungsik in Tribeca deserves a lot of credit for being one of the pioneers of this style of Korean cooking in New York, and it’s been very successful doing so, earning 2 Michelin stars in the process. Jungsik’s original location is in the Cheongdam neighborhood in Seoul, and when I booked my tickets to Korea I wanted to make a meal here a priority. I was absolutely blown away by the 5 course lunch tasting that I had here recently and could see how they deserve their 2 stars. If you have to splurge on one fancy meal in Korea, I would recommend the tasting menu at Jungsik. The lunch tasting is very reasonable at an all-inclusive 78,000 KRW (~$65) per person for four courses, 98,000 KRW (~$80) for the five course option.

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Seoul with Kids: Top Rides at Lotte World

The first thing I wanted to do with the kids in Korea was take them to Lotte World. It’s a nostalgic place for me as I always went there during my childhood trips to Korea. My favorite ride has always been the Adventures of Sinbad ride, a Lotte version of the Pirates of the Caribbean. My kids, however, are very young–both are under 3 years old–so I was wondering if they could even ride anything. I didn’t have to worry too much about that because Lotte World has a Kidzone area with rides and activities targeted to the younger set, so we had a lot of fun with the kiddie rides there. They also have other kid-friendly rides and experiences, some of which you have to pay extra for, that are scattered throughout the park. If you’re thinking about bringing your young toddlers to Lotte World Adventure, here are my picks for the best toddler / young kids rides and experiences at Lotte.

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