The life of a bridesmaid

Sometimes, when you’re a bridesmaid, you have to take one for the team and push yourself to your limits, all for the sake of the future bride’s needs. In my case, these responsibilities have included eating deliciously unhealthy meals and taste-testing wedding cake. However, I cannot imagine anyone more worthy of these sacrifices than Erin Gunn, and I would gladly be her bridesmaid any day … despite her unreasonable demands πŸ˜› Wedding cake-tasting, pshhh!

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Erin’s sister Siobhan has been charged with making the wedding cakes for the marriages of all four siblings in the Gunn family, including her own! For Erin’s Halloween wedding, Siobhan is appropriately planning on a pumpkin cake.

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She had several different recipes to try and needed our input.

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I did not find any problems with cake number one, as I proceeded to eat at least half of the pan:

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Since we were eating cake in the afternoon anyway, we decided to make it a full-blown tea time with these authentic Mikado cookies that Erin brought for Siobhan all the way from the Irish section of her Yonkers grocery store.

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The cookies consisted of a biscuit topped with marshmallow, strawberry jam, and coconut. Can’t quite go wrong there.

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As an ardent fan of teatime, I was especially taken with Siobhan’s adorable tea nooks above the sink:

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And with the high quality of her loose leaf English breakfast tea that served as the perfect Mikado companion:

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Or Mikado + wedding cake companion:

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Yes, that’s right, wedding cake #2 made its appearance, and I polished off at least half of that one as well:

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Yeah, no problems here, Siobhan. Keep up the good work!

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Cake number two, still warm from the oven, paired particularly well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream:

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And with another slice:

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Ummm, and the next morning for breakfast with a Mikado, ice cream, blueberries, and more pumpkin puree:

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Yes, this breakfast earned me some concerned glances:

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… but I’m pretty sure I was the only one rolling my eyes back in taste ecstasy while the others looked on with their judgments:-P

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OK, I know I’ve asked this question before, but it’s one that deserves repeating. Best wedding cake ever?

Completely de-greened

Well, I certainly did not intend to be gone for over a week, but my life has been hijacked by nonstop activity. I haven’t had time to sleep lately, let alone to blog! Out of control. Anyway, in the interest of time, I’m going to bypass chronology and go thematic. Try to stay with me!

After last week’s greenfest-followed-by-ice-cream-sundaes, things continued deteriorating from a nutritional standpoint while skyrocketing from a fun standpoint.

Mike, Erin Gunn’s fiancΓ©, picked me up from the last subway stop in the Bronx last week Thursday after work, and we drove over to their condo to meet Erin, who was just arriving back from a business trip. Erin immediately whipped up some of her famous turkey reubens to fuel us for the journey ahead:

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The reubens involved deli-sliced cracked pepper turkey, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese sandwiched between whole wheat tortillas and broiled:

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These reuben wedges were soooooo good and melty, especially dipped in some Russian dressing, and they gave me all the energy I needed to sleep through the six-hour drive to Buffalo while Mike and Erin took turns at the wheel πŸ˜› Also providing proper fuel was the big bag of animal crackers Mike had picked up for the drive. Sleeping in the back seat can take a lot out of you, and it is critical to nourish your body to ensure survival in these trying times.

We arrived at Erin’s sister’s house in Buffalo somewhere in the vicinity of 4am and went right to bed. I was installed in the baby’s room (baby had been relocated to parents’ room for the weekend) where I slept until about 10:30. That is a record for this month, as I’ve been averaging about two hours of sleep a night for various reasons. When I got out of bed on Friday, this sight greeted me:

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Erin’s sister Siobhan was making us perfect perfect pancakes!

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Baby Lily looked on with some blueberries:

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The finished breakfast also included brilliantly crispy bacon, CSA fruit salad that I had carted with me from the city, and nutella!!!

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I could tell you how amazing the nutella and the fruit tasted on top of the pancakes, but I’d rather just show you:

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After breakfast, we had playtime with Lily. Her first birthday was last month, so Auntie Erin and Uncle Mr. Mike brought her some goodies like this new horsey and Ming-Ming, the bath-time ducky in the horsey’s front basket:

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Later in the afternoon, we made a critical stop at the liquor store, the highlight of which took place at the check-out counter:

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Mmmmmhmmm, free dumdums woooooooooot.

We got back to the house famished and raided the fridge for leftovers of any sort. We turned up part of a quesadilla and chips with sour cream, green salsa, and chipotle salsa:

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Garlic herb breadsticks with marinara sauce from the pizza place:

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And deliciously seasoned and tender ribs, source unknown:

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Another deliciously non-green meal from the weekend, courtesy of master chef Siobhan, involved Saturday morning’s breakfast of turkey sausages …

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… and poached eggs:

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OK, shhhh, don’t tell, but I also snuck in some produce: a spoonful of pumpkin puree (you’ll soon learn why this was lying around all weekend) with a slice of banana (stolen from baby) and a sprinkle of cinnamon:

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My breakfast of two perfectly poached eggs (aka, not runny!) over whole wheat toast with two turkey sausages on the side:

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And that concludes the veggie-free-meals-eaten-in-the-home portion of the Buffalo report. There’s wayyyyyyyyyy more to come!

What is your favorite veggie-free meal?

Green (and not green)

Wednesday night after work, I finally had the chance to attend a meeting of the Beam Green Social Club at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. I made my way down from East Harlem and walked across town through the park. I knew I was nearing my destination when the lanterns made their appearance:

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Closer …

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Ahhhhh ha!

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I looooooooove Tavern on the Green, but it’s normally WAY out of my price range. I’ve only been there once before — for a semiformal my junior year at NYU — and I remember that night as being one of the best food nights of my life:

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(Though I also distinctly remember having to sleep with a bowl because I was sooooooo full after plates and plates of pesto chicken bowtie pasta, mousse pies, fruit tarts, chocolate layer cakes, and so on. Siiiiiiiigh, youth …)

Anyway, Wednesday night was on the other end of the food-perfection spectrum … as in the food was still perfect but just more selectively chosen (aka all vegan and raw) to be in line with the Beam Green philosophy. (Side note: In case you haven’t heard of Beam Green yet, it’s an organization created to support the “Green Baby Movement” and to help individuals make changes toward a healthier and “greener” lifestyle.)

Diana, a full-fledged member, invited Vani, Olga, and me to come as her guests (yayyyy Diana!). We ran into many other bloggers there, including Missy and Dori:

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Obviously, with all of the focus on green, green juice was bound to make an appearance, courtesy of Liquiteria! I started with a glass of All Greens with kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery, and cucumber:

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This flavor was cool and refreshing and invigorating, and I downed it in two seconds because I was parched. Next, I moved onto Mr. Green with carrot, apple, beets, ginger, and “Super Green Food & Liver Kidney Lymph Detox,” which was perhaps even better:

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Mmmmmmmmm. Let’s add a juicer to my list of necessary kitchen appliances!

We spent time milling around in the lap of luxury …

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… though at times like this, I can’t help wondering how I manage to have access to events like this for free while people who can’t even afford a bag of apples do not. Anyway, I’ll skip my own philosophical debate because this is a food blog and move right onto the main event:

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(Whole Foods brown rice avocado rolls!)

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(lightly steamed veggies)

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(cookies from Babycakes, including amaaaaaazing macarooons, YUMMMMM)

Here’s my plate with a mountain of veggies, sushi rolls (and lots of ginger!), and a slice of raw zucchini lasagna from Three Wishes:

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And some zucchini noodle salad from Three Wishes (also adding spiralizer to the must-have kitchen appliances list!):

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For dessert, I filled one plate with fruit:

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And another with cookies:

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Vani reminded me (and good thing she did!) that there was more dessert coming later, so I just had a bite of each cookie (plus a whole macaroon, obviously) along side a bottomless teacup of earl grey:

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Mmmmmmm, this macaroon!

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Then, the actual main event of the evening began: the speakers! We listened to Beam Green’s founder (Mary Boehmer), the founder of Stogo dairy-free ice cream, Gil Jacobs, and a kabbalah expert:

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At the break, we had the chance to sample some of Stogo’s coconut milk-based ice cream in chocolate and vanilla:

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Yummmmmmmmmmm again!!

With tummies satisfied (and minds in an overloaded state of health “information” worthy of further research), we made our wait out through the hall of mirrors:

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At which point, my plans separated from those of the girls and included a lovely stroll back through Central Park:

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And an impromptu midnight stop at a dinner in the Village for, errrrr, an ice cream sundae?

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In all fairness, the goal was Stogo, but the entrance to Stogo was hidden somewhere, and it was hot, and we were tired, and Moonstruck was just so available.

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And no chocolate syrup drips went untasted:

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So, I had a lovely night part one at Beam Green (thanks, Diana!) that gave me lots to think about followed by a lovely night part two eating ice cream and riding on the subway … an excellent evening all around I would say!

I’m off to Buffalo this weekend with Erin Gunn and Mike to visit Erin’s sister Siobhan and work on some wedding planning, so I’ll probably be MIA until early next week … but I’ll be back with updates!

Clearly, I have no problem enjoying a full-blown vegan and raw feast … and following it right up with something decidedly NOT vegan and NOT raw. What foods do you eat that are at odds with each other?

And on that farm

On Sunday, I got to take a field trip to the greatest place on earth:

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My CSA farm! Isn’t it adorable??

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It was so fun to finally have a chance to see exactly where my produce grows …

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… and who grows it!

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Kate was out of town for the weekend, so I invited Vani along. We took a stroll around the premises when we arrived and got friendly with this little fellow:

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When we found out that some of the vans were running late, we realized it could be hours before the promised BBQ since we still had to take the official tour. Vani bought a bag of walnuts from the farm store and shared, phew! Hunger disaster averted πŸ™‚

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Finally, we set off to explore the grounds:

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Here’s the farmer surveying his harvest …

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… and showing us how the carrots grow and how he picks them himself!

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Still demonstrating the local-ness and organic-ness of everything:

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Vani pointed out this guy’s shoes, and I took a stealth picture. You have to look closely to see exactly what is going on: the shoes have individual toes! We eavesdropped and found out that he uses them for triathlons. Can you imagine doing all of that in those little teeny shoes??

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Here we are amidst the cabbage:

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And the broccoli:

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If you look closely, you can see the neighboring farm in the distance actively spraying its crops with pesticides. I’m glad that is not the farm supplying my CSA share!

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Some freshly plucked basil:

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And fields and fields of arugula!!! I wanted to lie down here and never get up πŸ˜›

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But we couldn’t hang in the arugula forever and had to move onto the chickens. Look at how much space they have:

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This farm does an excellent job actually carrying out the whole “free range” aspect of things. Seeing these chickens frolicking around made me even more excited about eating my CSA eggs:

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And then there were the wildflowers!

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They were so pretty that I got a little bit sad I don’t have a flower share … but flowers just aren’t functional enough for me to justify the expense.

Then, farmer Chris gave us a tractor demonstration:

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AND showed us the garlic!!!!

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Mmmm, I could have gone to sleep right here, too. Actually, I almost did — the sun was so strong that I wasn’t sure how much time I had left on my feet before the dehydration knocked me out and IVs became necessary. Instead, I found a patch of shade and waited until the group moved onto the blackberry bushes:

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Mmmmm, farmer Chris gave us free reign to pick and eat whatever we could find ripe. Picture this times like 3000 πŸ˜€

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Finally, it was time for the BBQ! I found this soda in the cooler and it was sooooooooo refreshing and delicious:

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I was so excited for the BBQ because, in addition to the farm corn, hot dogs, and veggie burgers provided by the farm, everyone else who went for the field trip was required to bring a side dish or dessert. You know how I love potluck arrangements!

I loaded up plate number one with grilled farm corn, seedy bread, a gardenburger, salad that I brought, cabbage slaw from someone else, fruit salad, and two types of lentil-walnut pate (one with curry and one with herbs … and both delicious!):

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Plate number two involved more salad varieties: cherry tomato and feta medley, mediterranean pasta salad, cranberry-peanut waldorfy salad, and gazpacho:

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Plus a big hunk of sundried tomato bread:

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And the dessert plate … oh the dessert plate! From top center, I had half a pistachio cupcake with vanilla frosting, a vegan chocolate chip cookie, peach-blueberry cobbler, blueberry crisp, banana cake, rosemary shortbread (!!!), and pound cake with strawberry sauce:

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YUM.

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YUM.

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YUM.

After lunch, it was time to head back to the Slope, so Vani and I bade farewell to the farm. I passed out pretty much the minute I got back … I actually ended up sleeping from 6:00 pm on Sunday to 6:30 am on Monday. That may have been because my Saturday night involved absolutely no sleep and looked something like this:

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Don’t ask.

Either way, I caught up on my sleep Sunday night and had a belly full of local and organic food to last me for days. Sigh, that is what I call contentment!

What do YOU call contentment?

Dominican Republic of Japan

Like I said, you’re not going to believe this meal! On Friday night, a bunch of my coworkers brought me to Mama Sushi in Washington Heights.

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Mama Sushi is a Dominican sushi restaurant. Yes, that’s what I said. Dominican sushi! I love sushi. I love Dominican food. The fusion of the two is something I had never ever imagined. I present the menu:

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Can you guess what I ordered?

While we waited for our food, we ordered drinks. I had a sip of Belkis’ white wine sangria:

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I usually have a strong dislike for wine, especially white wine (thanks to an unfortunate incident aboard a Sydney harbor cruise when I was 20), but this was delicious because it tasted like fruit juice.

I ordered the special: a mojito with passion fruit and raspberry puree:

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Also very tasty. You know I’m a sucker for drinks with fresh fruit!

While we waited, a lady came by to sell this wooden man who could do flips on sticks:

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Deborah played with it so long that Nydia felt guilty and bought the guy for Belkis’ son Emanuel:

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The man provided hours of enjoyment and made the rounds of the table. Erik and Jose took a turn:

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(OK, perhaps Jose just looked on with disdain at all the little people having fun with the wooden man.)

Emanuel was the first to receive food. When Belkis called him earlier in the day to say she’d bring him to sushi again, he strategically decided not to eat any more until we were at the restaurant so he could save his appetite. Here he is with his spring rolls:

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We tucked into some edamame:

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Oh wait, before the edamame, I inhaled my drink. I ordered another one, this time without the raspberry:

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Ohhhhh my, that passion fruit puree, so good! Lillian and Nydia ordered the same one. It made us all very happy:

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And progressively happier as the night went on:

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Of course, the light started to go just as the food arrived, but food in the dark tastes just as good! Here’s the fried rice for the table:

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How about the fried rice had sweet plantains in it?!!!! It got me so psyched for the sushi because I obviously ordered this one:

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Avocado and sweet plantains in a sushi roll. It’s like this restaurant read my dreams.

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We all shared all the rolls, though I can’t remember the exact identities of everything. I’m pretty sure we also had El Jibarito (BBQ ribs, cucumber, sweet plantains), El Cibao (crab and avocado topped with salmon paste), and Merengue (salmon, avocado, cream cheese topped with sweet plantain):

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I had some of everything:

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Plus, Belkis and Jose each ordered the chicken terriyaki … which comes with a big pile of mashed sweet plantain in the middle!

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We took some photo breaks …

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(Side note: Am I allergic to rum now? My neck, face, and back got so red and splotchy while drinking a mojito two nights in a row!!! This has never happened before.)

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(That little wooden man just would not let it rest!)

And played inappropriate games with the 12-year-old:

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(He didn’t mind because he was content with his video game (playstation?) under the table.)

And laughed a little too much at the intersection where we happened to be sitting … because we are so mature:

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… And then moved onto the dessert segment with two fried banana ice creams and two mochi ice creams for the table:

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Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me as the desserts arrived because, you know, my birthday was four months ago. Then, they had to fight me to get a bite.

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Just kidding! I shared. A little bit.

So anyway, the food here was obviously delicious … but the concept of this restaurant is just SO genius and out of control. There needs to be a country called the Dominican Republic of Japan. Perhaps I should make that happen. I can be the president and declare every day fried cheese-avocado-salami-plantain roll day.

What would you name your country? And what would its specialty be?