Last Chance Harvey

By grace.g.yang · January 16, 2009
Under: My Life,Things to do in NYC

On Wednesday, my mom and I attended the Last Chance Harvey screening. Here is her review:

Last Chance Harvey is a sweet and tender romantic comedy movie about Kate and Harvey, two middle-aged strangers who were able to connect with each other and find love. Harvey (Dustin Hoffman), a socially awkward jingle composer based in New York, was on his way to attend his estranged daughter’s (Liane Balaban) wedding in London in the midst of a career crisis. Kate (Emma Thompson), a Heathrow airport poll taker, is a single woman in her 40′s that gave up on finding love and takes care of a needy cancer-surviving mother.

The story between Harvey and Kate begins at Heathrow when she approaches him to take a survey. Because Harvey was jet-lagged from his flight, he dismisses her and goes on his way to his hotel (he was not invited to stay in the house his ex-wife rented out for the wedding party). Kate and Harvey meet again because he was drinking his sorrows away at an airport lounge; Harvey was frustrated because he missed his flight back to NY to rescue his job, ended up being fired over the phone by his boss (Richard Schiff), and to top it off, had to watch his only child walk down the aisle and be given away by her suave stepfather (James Brolin). His re-encountering Kate sparked the initial connection and Harvey persisted to badger Kate until they begin a friendly conversation over lunch. They end up spending the entire day together; he walks her to her writing class and she convinces him to attend his daughter’s wedding ceremony (however, the only way he’ll show up at the ceremony is if Kate accompanies him). Things took a great turn for Harvey after he delivered a grace-saving and heart-felt father toast at the wedding reception. After staying up all night with Kate, Harvey requests that she meet him at noon the next day in a park they walk to at dawn. Predictably, Harvey does not show up due to heart problems (arrhythmia) – he lands in the hospital. Surprisingly, Harvey’s boss calls to attempt to rehire him; however, the call gives Harvey the courage and confidence to make his life-changing decision to stay in London and take his final chance of finding love (after finding Kate). Amazingly (or unbelievably), Kate did not walk away from Harvey after being stood up by him earlier in the day. Instead, after wiping away her tears, she gives Harvey the chance to explain why he didn’t show up at the park. Hence, Harvey got his last chance of love.

Last Chance Harvey tried to create a movie to bring a “realistic” grown-up story to the ever increasing population of baby boomers. It was a treat to watch Hoffman and Thompson interacting with each other since they both are strong and seasoned actors whose presence on the screen made the audience want to believe everything they said. It was a surprising delight to find a movie focusing on older movie goers and that gives hope of finding love after adulthood.

Pinkberry’s 4th Anniversary Coupon

By grace.g.yang · January 14, 2009
Under: Uncategorized

If you’re in the mood for Pinkberry, here’s a printable coupon for a free small frozen yogurt (with the purchase of another small frozen yogurt):


I know the weather isn’t perfect for frozen yogurt, but maybe this will get you to your local Pinkberry. Also, I noticed that some Pinkberry’s around Manhattan have a deal – when it gets below 18 degrees, you get a free small frozen yogurt (with two toppings, I think) with the purchase of another frozen yogurt. So many frozen yogurt deals! I wonder if Red Mango and the other frozen yogurt shops have any deals in the winter months…

Best Places to Jump in Paris

By grace.g.yang · January 6, 2009
Under: My Life,Travels

In the middle of December, I packed my bags and headed to Europe for a well deserved vacation with my family. We’ve been to Paris in the past (I think a total of three times before this trip) so my list of places to jump/visit may not be comprehensive for first time visitors (although if you’d like suggestions from past trips, you can always e-mail me). I’ll also mention that I almost died from food poisoning in Paris, so if I look deathly ill in the pictures/I’m not jumping in all of the pics, you know why. Okay, let’s get started….

1. The Arc de Triomphe/Champs-Élysées:


Jump for France!

Our hotel was down the street from the Arc de Triomphe, which is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz to honor those who fought for France and wasn’t completed until 1836 (the original architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and there were other complications that prolonged the completion of the arc.) On the inside and the top of the arc there are all of the names of generals and wars fought.


2. The Champs-Élysées:


I’m including the Champs-Élysées right after the Arc de Triomphe because I don’t have any jumping pictures from the most famous street in Paris but technically, the arc picture was taken ON the Champs-Élysées). There are a ton of shops, high-end boutiques, and restaurants along the street, which is the most expensive strip of land in Europe. The name Champs-Élysées means Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed in Greek mythology. There are a lot of wonderful places to visit along the street, which lead to my second, third, and fourth best places to jump – the Jardin des Tuileries, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and the Palais du Louvre.

3. Jardin des Tuileries


Jump for Richard Serra!

Do you recognize the sculptures? I actually have a picture of me jumping by the exact same Richard Serra scupltures (taken at the MoMa last summer). The sculptures were in the Jardin des Tuileries, which still closely follow a design laid out by landscape architect Andre Le Notre in 1664.

4. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel


The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is a miniature Arc de Triomphe that reminded me of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was modeled after the Arch of Constantine I of 312 AD and was built to commemorate France’s military victories in 1805.

5. The Louvre Museum





As you can see, my family is extremely supportive of all of my crazy picture ideas and have some great poses of their own!

The Louvre Museum is the world’s most visited museum and is the largest museums I have ever visited (although I think the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is quite large.) The Louvre was actually a palace at one point, where people actually LIVED, and was converted into a public museum during the French Revolution. The most famous painting in the Louvre is the Mona Lisa, which is kept behind lots of protective glass. Sadly, this is as close as I got to the paintings/sculptures:


Yay! The cool elevator! That’s all you NEED to see, anyway.

You see, we walked to the Louvre on our way to Notre Dame one afternoon and took some impromptu pictures but planned to visit the museum the next day in the morning (the museum is gigantic and you definitely need the entire day to get through a wing.) However, plans changed because I got food poisoning and was stuck in bed for two days, but David and my mom made it to the museum and had a great time (and even got to take a lot of pictures!)

6. Notre Dame



Jump for gothic architecture!


Notre Dame was finished in 1345 (it was started in 1161 under Louis VII) and is considered to be one of the best examples of gothic architecture. It’s still used by the Roman Catholics and there are services throughout the day (the last time I was in Paris, I attended the midnight mass at Notre Dame with my family.) Inside, you can admire the beautiful stained glass, climb the bell tower (there are five bells in Notre Dame), or light a candle for loved ones:


7. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica



The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. If you climb all the steps to the church dedicated to the 58,000 who lost their lives during the war, you can get a panoramic view of Paris. Since Paris was cloudy and rainy our entire trip, I decided against climbing the steps (especially since I couldn’t stand up straight from ALMOST DYING). One major turn-off about the church is that there are these pushy men selling “friendship bracelets” on the front steps/entryway to the church. Not only do they bother you and tell you that they want to be your friend, one of the guys actually GRABBED my arm! I definitely pushed him off me and told him to never touch me again, which scared him and all of his slimy friends.

8. Centre Georges Pompidou





With Professor Chin, the first person I’ve ever met with their own wikipedia entry

Some Parisians consider the Pompidou center to be an eyesore (although when the Eiffel Tower was constructed, Parisians complained about that as well). The Pompidou Center is a large building that is home to the museum of modern art, a public library, and a center for music and acoustic research. We met up with my mom’s friend, Dr. Wynne Chin, to go through the museum of modern art. The museum has some really “out there” pieces of art, but these two were the most memorable:


Anish Kapoor, the same artist responsible for Cloudgate (the big bean) in Chicago, made the sculpture above. It was basically a big bowl that was painted the reddish color but when you walked around, the perception of the concavity changed.


The blue man, who reminded me of Tobias from Arrested Development.

9. The Eiffel Tower


And finally, the Eiffel Tower. I almost didn’t make it to the Eiffel Tower this year – we kept delaying the visit because it was kind of out of the way. The night before we left for Barcelona, we hopped into a cab and quickly took pictures of the Eiffel Tower because who goes to Paris and doesn’t even bother to see the Eiffel Tower?! The Eiffel Tower was named after its architect, Gustave Eiffel, who originally wanted to build the structure in Barcelona but was turned down by the Consistory of Barcelona because they thought it didn’t fit the design of the city. Luckily for Paris, Eiffel was allowed the build the tower in their city and is now the most visited paid monument in the world.

Well, that’s my round-up of the best places to jump in Paris. Did you go somewhere in Paris that you think I missed? I’ll post about the rest of my vacation adventures when I get a chance – we still have foods of Paris, places to jump in Barcelona, and places to jump in Madrid!

Favorites of 2008

By grace.g.yang · December 30, 2008
Under: Desserts,Dinner,Grace's Picks,,Lunch,My Life,Nightlife,Prix-fixe,Things to do in NYC,Travels

I can’t believe another year is coming to a close! Since my Favorites of 2007 was such a fun entry to write, I decided to do it again; it’s been a great year of at gracenotesnyc – we had a recent face-lift thanks to my brother, David, and we’re adding more great features to the site (stay tuned!!). As I was going through my entries from 2008, I realized that I had the opportunity to eat at a ton of great restaurants and *some* of my favorites are listed below. Here we go…

Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich: Cookout, North Carolina


Maybe it’s not the clearest picture (I was in the car when I took it) but the sandwich speaks for itself. The pork is perfectly seasoned, falls straight off the bone, and the cole slaw topping makes for a perfect sandwich. Add a handmade shake with fresh fruit for a grand total of $5 and it gives me another great reason to visit North Carolina.

Favorite Restaurant to Bring Out of Town Guests: Employees Only

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When my friends come visit, I try to make reservations at hip restaurants that will leave them with a good impression of the city. My favorite place to take friends (under the age of 30, I suppose) is Employees Only. Not only is their food phenomenal (share the seared rib-eye), but they also have a drink list that is worth checking out. After dinner, you can hang out in the bar area, although it gets very crowded after 10.

Favorite Breakfast Dish: Cookshop

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The huevos rancheros from Cookshop are life-changing. Seriously. I’d had huevos once before (at a place called Mustang’s on the UES that’s not worth blogging about) and I almost forgot about the dish until I walked into Cookshop and saw so many tables enjoying the oven-finished dish. The in-house pickled onions are a great addition to the already delicious dish. It’s worth the trek out to 10th Ave, trust me!

Favorite Place to Eat Alone: A Salt and Battery

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The Bobby Flay throwdown video on youtube lured me to A Salt and Battery, which is literally down the street from Chris’ house. Their fried fish is freshly prepared to order, the tartar sauce is really tasty, and you don’t have to go with anyone else because there’s a counter where you can eat by yourself. Plus, you don’t want anyone else to know that you ordered and ate a fried Mars bar, do you?

Favorite Burger: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

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I just realized that a bunch of my favorites aren’t from NYC this year….I guess I traveled for food a lot, didn’t I?! A birthday adventure for me and Chris took us to California, where we went on a culinary tour in Napa/San Francisco. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher’s burger was juicy, flavorful, and had a great secret sauce that was similar to In-N-Out’s. Another great thing about Taylor’s – there’s a cute lawn where kids (or adults) can run around silly while waiting for their awesome burgers and freshly made shakes.

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese: DuMont Burger

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The macaroni and cheese beats out Milk Bar, an establishment that I’m actually boycotting until they stop being such cheapo’s and bring back the two strips of bacon that used to be on every egg-in-a-hole. One of the great things about the macaroni at DuMont Burger is that it comes with a cheesy crust that gives every bite a lot more texture. Another reason to trek all the way to Brooklyn to try the mac and cheese is because DuMont Burger adds BACON to their mac and cheese. Seriously, it’s amazing.

Favorite Place to Quit the Atkins Diet and Carbo-Load: ad hoc

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Thomas Keller shows up on this blog quite often (I’m kind of obsessed, if you hadn’t noticed). ad hoc was the second Thomas Keller restaurant I’d ever visited (and definitely not my last) and it was a perfect way to start my birthday eat-a-thon. No, I wasn’t on the Atkins Diet when I went to California, but we ate so many carbs at ad hoc that night that if someone asked me for a recommendation of a place to go once they quit the Atkins Diet, I’d recommend ad hoc (that would be a pretty specific request though). The bread was freshly baked and sent over from Bouchon, the spring garlic risotto pangrattato was the best rice I’ve ever had (sorry mom), and the little bombolino’s were a perfect way to end the evening. Basically, if you want to have an carb-filled meal that makes you forget you ever gave up carbs, go to ad hoc and you will not be disappointed.

Favorite Place to Celebrate a Birthday: The French Laundry

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I have so many wonderful memories from my meal at The French Laundry. Chris and I celebrated our birthday’s there and were absolutely floored by the food and service (and price, but that’s a different story!) Our lunch lasted about 4 hours and was filled with so many interesting tastes and textures. If you’re looking for a special way to spend your birthday, going to The French Laundry is an experience you won’t forget.

Favorite Overall Dining Experience: per se

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Dining at per se, another Thomas Keller restaurant, is oftentimes referred to as a life-changing event. I mean, David Cheng of the Momofuku empire literally cried after his meal there. My brother, David, also said it was a life-changing meal for him; he had just completed his first 100-mile bicycle race, had recently lost 50 pounds, and the meal showed him that he didn’t need to stuff his face to appreciate food. The food was a tad better than The French Laundry’s (although both were very good), the service was impeccable, and the company was the best part of the meal:

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Joe, one of my best and kindest friends, invited me to dine with him at per se and I said that we should make it a big event – I invited David, Chris, and Ariel (and Ariel invited his friend, Kait). It was a special meal not only because of the food, but because I was able to share it with the friends and family I have in New York.

There you go – my favorite places to eat in 2008! I have a lot of great blog posts for 2009, including a recap of my Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid adventures, food reviews, and great recipes! What were some of your favorites of 2008? Do you have any resolutions for the New Year? Be Safe, Stay Warm, and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

By grace.g.yang · December 25, 2008
Under: My Life

My friend took this picture of her two pets and I thought it was too cute not to share:


Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family – Merry Christmas!!

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