Just Say Cheese

As a kid, I remember fussing over methi and palak rotis. Like come on! You’re meant to enjoy candies, chocolates, cheese and other fun stuff while growing up. Why methi and palak? But, my mother clearly thought differently. She had decided – no matter what happens, this fussing needed to stop. Cheese was probably one of the few things I would readily eat without any drama. The word itself would bring a smile to my face. So, she very smartly started grating blobs of it on my rotis and parathas and that’s how I learnt to eat them!

By now, I’m sure you’ve figured that I love cheese. To me, it is not just another dairy product, it is everything! You pair absolutely anything with the right kind of cheese and you’re good to go. It’s versatile and oh-so-yummy! But still many people find it intimidating. I wonder why? Maybe because of its countless types, hard to pronounce names, complex textures or due to lack of knowledge. Whatever the reason, I hope this and the coming posts will be helpful as I’m all set to share some easy-wheezy recipes and fun facts about my all-time favorite cheeses. Are you ready?

#FYI – Most cheeses are made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk and fall into one of the below mentioned categories:
– Fresh & creamy: Mild in taste, moist and soft with a creamy texture, great choice for salads
– Soft & semi-soft: Range from mild to pungent, can melt well, best choice for grilled sandwiches and fondues
– Hard & semi-hard: Salty, nutty flavors, can be aged for several months or even several years, texture can be semi-firm or firm
– Bloomy rind: These cheeses have a white rind on the outside but are super soft, creamy and yummy on the inside
– Blue cheese: Contains penicillium so the cheese will always be spotted or veined, has a distinct smell, strong, sharp and salty in flavour.

In this post, I’ll tell you about my favorite cheeses in the first category.

1) Feta:
A famous Greek cheese, traditionally made with sheep’s milk or a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Flavour: salty, slightly sour
Texture & Color: crumbly and slightly grainy, white in color
Pairings: best enjoyed when crumbled upon salads or pies

2) Ricotta:
An Italian cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or Italian water buffalo milk.
Flavour: slightly sweet
Texture & Color: similar to cottage cheese but softer, smoother and lighter, white in color
Pairings: combines beautifully with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate so is mostly used in desserts. One can also make lovely, creamy dips with Ricotta or sprinkle some over pasta. In India, it is often used as a substitute for paneer (though both are not the same) while making ras malai.

3) Cream cheese:
Originated in Europe and is made from milk and cream, available in low fat or non-fat varieties
Flavour: mild, slightly tangy and sweet
Texture & Color: smooth, creamy, rich and indulgent, white in color
Pairings: easily spreadable when at room temperature and pairs well with crackers, bagels and sandwiches. Can also be mixed with other ingredients for dips and spreads.

4) Fresh Mozzarella:
An authentic Italian cheese that’s packed in water solutions to help last longer.
Flavour: mild and milky
Texture & Color: creamy and soft, pearl white in color
Pairings: This cheese is delicious just as is or with a pinch of salt, pepper, herbs and olive oil. You can also make yourself a version of Italy’s famous Insalata Caprese that includes fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato and basil.

Recipes:
1) Watermelon & Feta Salad:

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Ingredients:
1 packet roquette (to be cleaned and soaked in cold water)
1/2 iceberg lettuce (to be cleaned and soaked in cold water)
1/2 water melon (remove seeds and cut into chunks)
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 slices bread
5-8 toasted pine nuts
5-8 caramelized almonds/walnuts

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp rock salt
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp pepper

Method:
– Remove the water from salad leaves and keep aside
– Cut the bread slices into croutons, toast in the oven and keep aside
– To caramelize almonds/walnuts, heat 3 tbsp sugar in a flat pan and add a spoonful of water. Once sugar changes to a light brown color, add the almonds and mix until the sugar darkens a bit. Switch off the gas and drop them quickly on a foil paper
– To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients, shake well and keep aside
– In a bowl, mix together salad leaves and water melon chunks, then pour the dressing and crumble feta cheese. Serve.

2) Herbed Ricotta Dip:

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Image sourced from Pinterest

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh, creamy ricotta
3 cloves garlic (peeled & crushed)
1 tbsp snipped chives
1 tbsp mint powder
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste, preferably freshly ground black pepper)
Oregano (to taste)

Method:
– Mix all the ingredients together.
– Adjust seasonings as per taste
– Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
– Serve with sliced ciabatta or lavash.

3) Garlic & Herbed Cream Cheese Bagel:

Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic (peeled & crushed)
1/2 packet Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tbsp snipped chives
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Thyme (to taste)
Oregano (to taste)

Method:
– Mix all the above ingredients in the bowl
– Adjust seasoning as per taste. Can also add some lime juice, if required
– Spread on bagel and enjoy.

4) Insalata Caprese:

Ingredients:
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 packet fresh mozzarella
1 cup fresh basil (washed well & dried)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Seasalt (fine, to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Method:
– Thinly slice tomatoes & mozzarella, same size
– Place on a flat plate with fresh and dry basil leaves
– Sprinkle with oregano, sea salt and pepper
– Drizzle olive oil and serve.

*All the above mentioned cheeses are available at Godrej Nature’s Basket & Foodhall in Mumbai.
*Part 2 coming soon.

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Honeymoon Beauty & Travel Essentials

After the unavoidable frenzy that accompanies wedding planning, most couples want to get done with the mumbo-jumbo and jump straight into the honeymoon! Whether you’re the type of newlyweds that wants to experience the great African safari or a duo that sits back on a sandy beach, sips one-two-many margaritas and cuddles up in the cabana right after – your first holiday post-nuptials ought to be special and memorable in every way.

You may choose to travel to your dream destination with your lover or together accomplish one of the many places on your bucket list but if you’re planning activities that involve sweat and sun, do take that into consideration while packing. To make life easier, we’ve collated a list of beauty and travel essentials for every bride-to-be.

Winter Wonderland:

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Pearl-white mountains, snowflakes and cold winds blowing through your hair – probably what an ideal romantic getaway should be like. Or so we’re made to believe, thanks to Bollywood movies! However, chilly weather can have an impact on your lustrous locks and skin. Cold saps the hair of moisture, making it dry and easily breakable. So, to avoid becoming a hot mess, tuck in a hair masque or a highly intensive conditioner and try using heated appliances as minimum as possible. For skin, use a good hydrating moisturizer that will prevent dryness and leave you with a long lasting glow. A high intensive hand and foot cream can do wonders for cracked, sore skin. If your lips get chapped easily, a lip balm is a must. Take along these itsy-bitsy things and enjoy your time amidst the cool and chilling winds.
Tip: Bring out your trench coats, mittens, boots, mufflers & goggles. Don’t you want to look your best while taking a snow-fie?

Sunny Sojourn:

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If you’re heading for a sundrenched honeymoon in a tropical island, chances are you’ll be living in your bathing suit. So the first and most important thing you need is a sunscreen lotion with an SPF higher than 15 to avoid burns and damages. Generously apply everywhere, especially in forgotten areas like the ears, nose, eyelids, neck and top of the feet. Sunscreens wear off easily, so you have to keep reapplying every hour to avoid burns. If you have really sensitive skin, a day at the beach may cause some redness. Apply heaps of aloe vera gel as it has a cooling effect. If you’re planning to wear makeup most of the time, waterproof cosmetics are your best bet. Saline water adversely affects the hair causing it to become coarse, dry and frizzy. Double up on the conditioner and moisturize with Shea butter or coconut oil. Also, never ever comb immediately after getting out of the water. Condition first and then comb with a detangler to avoid breakage.
Tip: What to pack in your beach bag? Swimsuit, flip-flops, hat and shades … only thing missing is a strawberry daiquiri!

Adventure Escapade:

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No matter what’s on your exploration itinerary, wet wipes have changed the travel game. Carry 2-3 packets; preferably cucumber ones and you’re sorted for the rest of the trip. If you’re following the outdoorsy theme, now would be the time to throw in a travel-size, scented deodorant or talcum powder to absorb sweat along with an insect repellent to keep prowling insects at bay. Another vanity must have is a dry shampoo. It’s practical, convenient to use and keeps you fresh until you hit the shower. Also, pick an aromatic body butter or body lotion to keep your skin soft and smooth. Avoid using too much makeup; instead keep it natural with just a BB cream, mascara and some lip-gloss.
Tip: Say good-bye to foot blisters by wearing a comfortable pair of walking shoes. For safety reasons, carry a torch, small compass and binoculars.

 

5+ Gift Hampers That Are Sure To Delight Your Loved Ones – Polka Cafe

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Diwali is one of my favorite festivals. There’s merriment all around – streets are beautifully lit up, houses are decorated with colorful rangolis, people put on their best finery and most importantly, tons of gifts are exchanged. If you’re stressing over gift hunting, you don’t need to anymore as we’ve collated a mix of gifting ideas that will surely make life easier for you. And no, this does not include regular mithais and sweets that are usually distributed during the festive season. So whether you’re too laid back to think of a gift or just busy at work, we have you covered!

Home accessories from Blssng:

If you’re on the hunt for something that’s wrapped with love, this is undoubtedly the place for you. Think fancy digital printed trays, unique tea light holders or the ever-so-pretty bird cages with ferry lights and flowers … Blssng has something for everyone. Brainchild of Dhanika Popley, this Bandra based studio houses exquisite home accouterments and is well known for their attractive gift hampers. Her new festive collection offers a variety of ethnic products so there’s ample to choose from and if not, she can always customize basis your requirement.

For more details, check out: https://www.facebook.com/myblssng

Bar accessories from Beyond Ordinary:

What’s Diwali without card parties…and card parties without alcohol! Whether you’re attending several ones or hosting them yourself, Beyond Ordinary has a fantastic range of quirky bar accessories that will leave your loved ones on a different high this season. ‘LED shot glasses, funky beer mugs, wine decanters, liquor pumps, drinking helmet and lots more – you name it, we have it,’ says owner Sanjeet Ray. Their products are quirky, unique and affordable – need we say more?

For more details, check out: https://www.facebook.com/beyondordinaryindia

Tea hampers from Gardner Street:

When Rashi Sanghvi launched her premium tea label, Gardner Street; she decided to give people the greatest gift they had ever received – the gift of health! Their all-natural whole leaf teas are purchased from a variety of tea estates and blended with naturally occurring extracts and flavors that ensure every cup is brimming with taste and health. For the festive season, they have introduced five different types of hampers that are delicately packaged in leather and printed boxes and priced between INR 550 to 1500.

For more details, check out: https://gardnerstreet.in/gifting/

Ice cream from Bono:

Cordon Bleu graduate Alyssa Chesson is the mastermind behind India’s first boutique ice-cream brand – Bono. From savoury staples to unique pairings, she has handcrafted some of the most decadent masterpieces that quite literally melt in your mouth. With never-seen- before combinations like milk chocolate bacon, blue cheese honey, dark chocolate Italian truffle oil and more, she’s slowly but surely changing the face of ice cream in the city. Since most people tend to binge on sweets during this time, she has introduced a sugar free, dairy free raspberry coconut flavor that apart from being vegan is fresh, fruity, decadent and yet not so fattening. So stay away from the stereotypes and gift your loved ones a tub full of guilt-free indulgence.

For more details, check out: http://www.facebook.com/bonoboutiqueicecream

Chocolate diyas from Choc-O-Tale:

Say good-bye to traditional sweets and say hello to these delectable diyas instead. Mother-daughter duo Asha & Anushi Sanghvi, started this brand about 4 years ago and have been taking the city by a storm with their unique chocolate creations ever since. This year, they have introduced an edible diya made using semi-sweet chocolate, decorated with glitter. Priced at INR 135, these festive specials can be consumed within 20 days and can be enjoyed when stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

For more details, check out: www.facebook.com/ChocOtaleChocolates

Assorted spices from Crista:

Spices are an important part of every meal so understanding its intricacies is of prime importance. Crista by Krishne Tanna, offers a variety of pure and fresh spices that have passed the FSSAI specifications and guarantee the best possible quality. This Diwali, if you’re planning to gift your loved one something useful, there’s nothing better than a box of superior quality spices. Their festive special boxes are available in two sizes and are priced at INR 1250++ and INR 1650++ for 100 and 150 gms each of cardamom, cloves, black pepper and cinnamon sticks.

For more details, check out: www.facebook.com/cristaspices

Chocolate Soil From Fat is Flavour:

Have you ever eaten soil straight from a pot? Well, with Fat is Flavour you can devour edible soil made with chocolate and other lip-smacking flavors like toasted s’mores, chocolate fudge, sea salt, pecan pie and lots more. Treat your guests, this season, with their brand new rocher praline chocolate soil, packaged beautifully in vintage trunks, priced at INR 1750 for 2 pots and INR 2100 for 4 pots. ‘Swirls of double chocolate coat a gooey center filled with wafer crunchy praline and roasted hazelnut encased in a crisp flaky shell, hand rolled in a pool of Nutella and melted chocolate,’ says owner Pratik Kuckreja about his newest addition. Sigh! We’re already drooling.

For more details, check out: www.facebook.com/fatisflavour

Festive Hamper From Godrej Nature’s Basket:

If you’re having a hard time collating various gifts, head to the closest Nature’s Basket and pick one of their many readymade gift hampers. Choose from a variety of baskets like the coffee collector, wine, exotic dry fruit and chocolate among others. Their recently launched line of healthy treats called ‘Healthy Alternatives’ is the newest addition this season. The hamper includes baked makhanas, roasted nuts, black rice, roasted flax and chia seeds, fruit crisps, greek yogurt, natural & gluten free fusilli and lots more. What’s better? You can also customize the hamper basis your budget and requirement.

For more details, check out: www.facebook.com/NaturesBasket

You can also read it on http://www.polkacafe.com/diwali-gifting-hamper-3210.html

8 Protein-Packed Foods That Are Bare Necessities To Build A Better Physique – MensXP

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Working out definitely plays a vital role in cutting off that extra flab but a good, nutrient-infused, protein-rich diet is just as important. Why proteins? Because they are the building blocks of your muscles. A complete protein source is the one that has all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own – phenylalanine, threonine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, valine, methionine and tryptophan. Without proteins, the human body cannot function normally. Proteins also take more time to digest than carbohydrates, and hence, make you feel fuller and binge a whole lot lesser. The following 8 protein-packed foods not only help in weight loss but also keep you active. Keeping in mind the requirements of your body, pick from our list below.

1) Milk

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Milk contains all the essential amino acids, which means it is a complete protein and can be used by the body for growth and repair. In reality, it includes two types of protein: casein and whey, both are known to be high-quality, muscle-building proteins. Casein accounts for 80 per cent of the total protein content, while whey makes up the remaining 20 per cent.

2) Cheese

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According to specialists, cheese is the chief dairy source of proteins. Made from pressed milk curds, there are over 300 different varieties available in the world. And guess what? Each cheese contains different amounts of proteins and nutrients. A cheese with low moisture content usually tends to contain more proteins than others. It also contains a host of nutrients like calcium, zinc, Vitamin A and B12. Research says Parmesan, low-fat mozzarella and cottage cheese have the highest protein content of all cheeses.

3) Chicken

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When it comes to high-quality protein, chicken is often recommended by nutritionists and counsellors. It is a complete source of protein and contains a relatively low amount of fat (compared to red meat). What’s better? If you’re good at kitchen experiments, you can actually make a scrumptious post-workout meal, a cosy dinner for the family or a date-night dish with chicken.

4)  Fish

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A kind of food with exceptional nutritional value, just like meat, fish is also a complete protein. Apart from that, it provides a variety of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and D, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and is a great source of calcium too. It is soft, easily digestible and low in fat.

5) Beans

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Part of the legume family, beans are great sources of fibre and proteins that provide minerals like iron, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B-6. They lower the risks of cholesterol, cardio vascular diseases and blood sugar. Though there are various kinds of beans available in the market, soybean offers the highest amount of proteins as it is the only bean that contains all the essential AAs required by the body.

6) Peas

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Packed with plant-based proteins, fibre and micronutrients, peas possess anti-inflammatory properties that prevent Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, arthritis and bronchitis. Small in size, they mix well with nearly anything and are important for the immune system.

7)  Eggs

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Another perfect example of a complete protein, eggs are the cheapest, easiest and most convenient source possessing all the amino acids needed by the body. Though most of the protein is found in the white, the yolk is rich in calcium and Vitamin B12, involved in processes like fat breakdown, muscle reduction and healthy digestion.

8) Almonds

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As an excellent source of proteins, fibre and heart-healthy fats, almonds should be a part of your regular diet. Unlike other complete proteins, almonds do not contain all essential amino acids and should be consumed with other high-protein foods in order to meet your protein needs.

FYI, a handful of 10-12 almonds a day is all you need.

You can also read it on http://www.mensxp.com/health/healthy-habits/30943-8-protein-packed-foods-that-are-bare-necessities-to-build-a-better-physique.html

London Calling!

The first thing that strikes you about London is the city’s enigmatic vibe. There is never a dull moment here – one may run out of money but will never run out of things to do. A true melting pot, it is home to tourists, gastronomes, adventure enthusiasts, art connoisseurs, business tycoons and more. With an awe-inspiring history and culture, there is something for everyone in this magnificent city.

One can never predict what the day looks like in London – one moment the sun shines and the next moment it begins to pour. In spite of several mood swings, it welcomes tourists 365 days a year. Though summer is prime-tourist season since people can enjoy long sunny days; the cold winds and snow do not stop them from visiting either. It’s the sort of place that makes you fall in love with it – truly, madly, deeply in love with it.

Popular attractions like the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square are always flooded with visitors, especially during the peak tourist season. But there are also those areas that most tourists miss out on due to lack of time. Listed here are a few places where you can enjoy the city’s relaxing yet entertaining side.

– Notting Hill: 

Escape the city’s hustle-bustle and see an altogether different side at Notting Hill – an area that hosts the city’s biggest street carnival. Tourists are seen in large numbers fanning their cameras to capture beautiful images of quirky, colourful buildings – after all, pastel pinks and vibrant reds make excellent backdrops! Head to a local bar and enjoy a chilled glass of beer or shop at the famous Portobello Market, a great place to collect vintage souvenirs. Whether you like to eat, click, shop or people watch, this is one part of London you cannot miss.

– Camden Town: 

Famous for its labyrinth open-air markets, quirky street shops and tattooed hippies, Camden has its own distinctive flavor – a vibe that gradually grows onto you. It is a mind-blowing mix of eclectic, unique and intriguing experiences that are sure to leave you spellbound.  Shop for quirky clothes and accessories or relish food from around the globe at its numerous eateries. If you’re into rock, punk and jazz, this sprightly market is surely the place to be at for its live music performances.

– Borough Market: 

A delight for gourmands, Borough Market is the largest vegetable, fruit, meat and seafood market in Central London. It is home to the finest quality ingredients and is flooded with foodies everyday. Interact with various traders or sample delicious foods from live counters. Walk in hungry and you will have ample to choose from.

– Carnaby Street: 

Home to independent cafes, British bars, chic boutiques and concept stores; Carnaby Street is a charming area located next to Soho. Walk around this quintessentially English street to experience the city’s infectious vibe.

– Gabriel’s Wharf:
Amidst the bustling South Bank lies Gabriel’s Wharf, the quaint creative hub for art and design lovers. Enjoy panoramic views of the stunning city skyline while sipping on a drink or indulging in some life-changing conversations at the wharfs cutesy cafe.

– Primrose Hill: 

Enjoy breath-taking views of Central London by climbing the steep slopes of Primrose Hill. Famous for its skyrocket residential rates, this area houses some prominent names. Relax at one of its cozy cafes and keep your eyes open for celebrities.

– Emirates Air Line:

Glide over the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsular and the Royal Docks to enjoy stunning views of East London and the O2 Arena. The best time to enjoy a ride in London’s first and only cable car is during sunset. Keep your camera ready to capture stunning views of the city from above. After your ride, head to the O2 Arena for an enjoyable meal as it stocks some of London’s finest fast food chains.

– Spitalfields Market: 

Set in the heart of London’s diverse neighborhood, Spitalfields is a treasure trove for visitors. Famous for its pop-ups, vintage shops, handcrafted items and food court, it is undoubtedly a great weekend destination to enjoy with the family. Art enthusiasts can also walk down the lane to Shoreditch and experience some quirky paintings by Banksy and the likes.

– St. Christopher’s Street: 

Located opposite the Bond Street Station, you will surely find it difficult to leave this place. Flanked by cafes and bars on both sides, picking a restaurant can be a tough decision. Keeping in mind the relaxing ambiance, be prepared to have never-ending conversations over lunches that might just turn into dinners.

– The Scoop – Near London Bridge:
An open-air amphitheater located near the London Bridge, The Scoop is a hotspot for entertainment all year round. Enjoy live performances, open-air plays, opera, film screenings and lots more over here. Their events are open to public and are free of cost. It is recommended to reach before time as the seating is on a first-cum-first-serve basis.

New York! New York!

Journalist Tom Wolfe once said, “One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

I realized how true that statement is when I first visited New York a couple of years ago. As a diehard fan of popular sitcoms such as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, a vacation in New York was a dream come true for me! Like most other 20-year-old girls, I wanted to see the spot where Blair met Chuck for the first time, eat at the places where Carrie and her girls went for brunch and ofcourse, visit the store where Bradshaw found her famous Manola Blahnik’s. Everything about New York fascinated me – the people, food, culture — even the song, Empire State of Mind.

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Photo Credit – http://www.newyorker.com

The first thing that strikes you between New York is the city’s enthusiastic vibe. It’s fast-paced yet relaxing. A true melting pot, it is stuffed with ambitious people who populate its five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. More than the dream of New York that I had built up in my mind, it was the awe-inspiring splendor that took my breath away. From tall skyscrapers to subways, every little thing was magnificent.

Food Matters!
New York is a paradise for food lovers. – my day would usually begin with a cream cheese bagel and a cup of hot chocolate. Food trucks line every corner, making it impossible to miss out on the city’s renowned fast food. But, if you still need recommendations, here’s what you should try out:
– Cart Food: New York is known for its cart food, which basically serves you large portions of meat and rice, flavoured with sauces. Available into the wee hours of the night, it is filling, delicious and pocket-friendly. The best and most popular cart food is available at The Halal Guys.
– Max Brenner: A renowned chocolate bar and restaurant located at Union Square, this is a paradise for chocoholics. A few friends and I walked into Max Brenner for a cup of hot chocolate and walked out with a 12-inch chocolate pizza, topped with chocolate chips and marshmallows!
– Chipotle: This is, by far my favourite Mexican chain. A filing burrito at Chipotle is the perfect way to end a tiring day.

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Photo Credit – http://www.maxbrenner.com

Fashion Forward:
Draw up a list of fashion capitals of the world and New York is bound to be somewhere close to the top. Some of the world’s most popular stylists, designers and fashionistas hail from here. From walking to Soho empty-handed and returning with a handful of bags, to sitting at a café, wishfully looking at people splurging on high-end brands in Park Avenue, New York has something for everyone. Other popular shopping hubs include Macy’s, China Town and Canal Street.

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Photo Credit – http://www.walldevil.com

Slice of Culture:
New York has a number of museums and art centers, but the most popular is undoubtedly the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, popularly known as the MET. I was stoked to see the amount of creativity that was on display – it houses the world’s finest modern and contemporary art. If you’re an art enthusiast, this place is a must-visit for a dose of inspiration.

Entertainment Ahoy!:
From musicals to live street performances, sports to shopping, bar hopping to sit-down meals, you won’t run out of things to do in New York. I watched The Phantom of the Opera, an award-winning musical at the Majestic Theatre. Of course, Times Square is a spot you can’t miss visiting – the large billboards, flashing lights and the energy will leave you amazed. New York’s many parks such as Central Park and Union Square Park are other great places to while away your time. My favourite pastime was to walk through, or simply read a book at the park.

The Tourist Trail:
Even the tourist attractions in New York, which you wouldn’t think would really surprise you, can leave you with long-lasting memories. On my way to the Statue of Liberty, I spent some time at Battery Park, which is the port from where the ferries set off. While I was there, I stumbled upon Castle Clinton and a couple of artists who offered caricatures on the spot. The caricature I had drawn of myself is undoubtedly my most precious souvenir. As for the Statue of Liberty? Well, I was lucky enough to head there late afternoon, where I was treated to a fabulous display of the setting sun on one hand and the Statue of Liberty standing tall on the other. Other must-visit tourist spots are The Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central Terminal, Yankee Stadium, Chelsea Market, Harlem and the 9/11 Memorial.

With its architectural assets, vintage cafes, boutiques and novelty shops, New York City is a serious treat for every traveler. It’s the sort of place where getting lost will only help you find something new. It allows you to dream as high as its skyscrapers and then helps to convert them into reality. I now know what Simone de Beauvoir meant when she said, “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”

FYI
– Unlike Mumbai, New York is extremely strict about following road discipline. You cannot run across an empty street at a red light – yes, the pedestrian ones that we normally ignore in our city.

– A basic understanding of the grid system is helpful if you wish to travel independently. Finding your way around the city becomes easy once you master this. An important thing to remember is that avenues run North and South, while streets run East and West.

– While local buses, taxis and tubes make commuting within the city convenient, having experienced all, I think walking was the best option – more so for the experience than for the ease of travel. I came across and struck up conversations with several people during my walks and some ended up becoming acquaintances!