Happy Birthday, Sara and Justin!

By grace.g.yang · August 11, 2009
Under: My Life


happy birthday

Sara and Justin during my Chinese New Year celebration

Sara just moved back to Chicago and is about to start her new awesome job, but I really miss her (and everyone at the office misses her, too!). Sara and I met through our office – I brought in brownies one day and we became best friends after I shared the recipe with her. Here are some pictures that I really love!

She was one of the first females on the original tech team:


On her last day of work, David and I created the Sears (now Willis) Tower out of Rice Krispie treats, toothpicks, and sheer determinations (I also made some millionaire’s shortbread because Sara loves those):


We became fast friends because we both love to bake and go on adventures – like when I rented a car and we drove upstate to go apple picking (well, more like to take pictures and eat apple cider donuts):

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Sara is also incredibly generous – one of her last meals in NYC was at Rao’s, the restaurant where you can’t get in unless you know someone that has a standing reservation, and she invited ME! Here we are with the owner:


Happy birthday, Sara! I hope you’re enjoying your time in Chicago!

Justin, another awesome friend of mine, is also celebrating his birthday today. Sadly, he is also out of town (in Atlanta) but will be back in New York this weekend. Justin and I bonded over our love of frozen yogurt. We used to talk about it for hours!

Justin codes on the side and helped me with the redesign of gracenotesnyc. He supports all of my crazy ideas, like my Grace Faces and the Grace Coins, which he helped me make! Here we are at one of my crazy tours, the fro-yolympics:

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And another food tour, this time in Flushing:


AND, while he couldn’t make it to my cupcake tour, he was nice enough to pick up cupcakes from ALL OVER MANHATTAN and deliver them for the party.

Justin is an awesome friend and I’m so glad to have him in my life.

Happy birthday, guys! I miss you in NYC and can’t wait to celebrate with both of you sometime soon!

Cupcake Cagematch Results: BEST CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE in NYC!

By grace.g.yang · August 11, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Contest,Cupcakes,Desserts,My Life,Tribeca

I said I would be back on Wednesday with the best chocolate cupcakes in NYC, but we’ll just forget that I said that and post this entry TODAY. A DAY EARLY! So, have you been wondering who has the BEST chocolate cupcake in all of New York City? Wonder no more because here are the results! The best chocolate cupcake in NYC award goes go:


BILLY’S! Sara picked up four cupcakes from Billy’s (from their new location in Tribeca) and only had good things to say about the bakery. Here are some other comments the judges had regarding the chocolate cupcake: the cupcake had great chocolate flavor (4.5/5), the texture of the cupcake was slightly crumbly (in a good way), and the icing was buttery, smooth, and soft (not the kind that would get hard and stale if it sat out for a while). The frostin was not too sweet (but sweet enough), and the presentation was good, not great (3/5). Billy’s wowed the judges with a solid 4/5 score.

Here’s Lou cutting up a piece of a chocolate cupcake to share with his team:


Look at the small space the chocolate team had to deal with:


And Larry making sure everyone’s comments are written down:


We don’t have any pictures from Billy’s (Sara was in the middle of moving so I’m sure taking pictures of a bakery was not high on her list of things-to-do), but if you’re interested in knowing more about the bakery, check out the website: Billys Bakery.

So readers, what do you think about the results? Keep in mind, we had cupcakes from 26 different places – do you agree with the chocolate results? While I love the chocolate cupcakes from Billy’s, I think there are some strong contenders in the chocolate group – Kyotofu’s chocolate cupcake is more like a brownie with white bean puree (not that I’m complaining!), Two Little Red Hens’ chocolate cupcake was pretty and delicious, and Ladybird’s chocolate cupcake was absolutely AMAZING (look at the picture I found of the Brooklyn Blackout, their wildcard entry that made me swoon):


A chocolate team interview:

Tomorrow I’ll reveal the best red velvet cupcake in NYC – stay tuned!

Cupcake Cagematch Introduction
Best Red Velvet Cupcakes in NYC
Best Wildcard Cupcakes in NYC
Moistest and Prettiest Cupcakes in NYC
Most Flavorful Cupcakes in NYC
Best Bakeries in NYC

Aerogarden: Week 3

By grace.g.yang · August 10, 2009
Under: My Life,product reviews

A week makes a huge difference with the Aerogarden! Since my last Aerogarden post, I’ve seen so much growth in almost all of my herbs:


I’ve taken the protective caps off almost all of my herbs (chives and dill aren’t doing so well):


The biggest growth spurt came from the basil – look at how big it’s gotten!!:


I’m also excited to report that the thyme is doing really well:


I took the caps off the mint and the oregano (probably a little prematurely but I was too excited to wait for the herbs to pop out of the paper!). Both are growing more and more everyday:


The mint is just starting to pop out:


And finally, I can really tell that the chives want to come out of their soil, but they just don’t have the nutrients:


Luckily for them, I’m dropping in two tablets right after I post this progress report! By the way, I received my energy bill and it was $10 more than last month, but, I have been using the air conditioning so that affects the additional $10 added to my bill. Justin recommended I get a watt usage meter/monitor, but I don’t know if it’s worth the $20 investment. If I see a huge surge in my bill next month, I’ll invest in the monitor so I know exactly how much I’m spending on the aerogarden.

Cupcake Cagematch Results: BEST VANILLA CUPCAKE in NYC!

By grace.g.yang · August 10, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Contest,Cupcakes,Desserts,West Village

After sampling over 26 different types of vanilla cupcakes, our judges have come up with the best vanilla cupcake in NYC: SWEET REVENGE! With a nearly perfect score (4.7/5.0), Sweet Revenge beat out 25 other hopefuls. Here are the full results:


Now, you may be wondering why Sweet Revenge’s vanilla cupcakes beat out all of the other great contenders…according to our judges, the cupcake was VERY moist (4.5/5) and was also bursting with great vanilla flavor (another 4.5/5). Also, the judges believed that that Sweet Revenge had “very cool sculpted frosting, nice butcher paper type wrapping and crystal sugar on top of frosting = yum.” There was also a good amount of sweetness (it wasn’t too sweet for any of the judges).

On the bottom left corner, you can see all of the cupcakes that Sweet Revenge donated:


(vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, and their wildcard entry, bird of paradise)

And a close-up:


My friend Arthur was responsible for picking up the cupcakes from Sweet Revenge. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:

So, Sweet Revenge is an instant favorite. I had a positive bias going in because another friend gave it rave reviews (maybe I’m also positively biased because Marlo Scott once worked for The Man and escaped). Love the feel of the restaurant – very relaxed and quaint – feels like a genuine neighborhood spot very representative of West Village (versus the big, corporate-y places like Crumbs and the cult-following places like Magnolia). People are nice – the one girl who helped me was friendly and social (and pretty, might I add). Originally, I was going to just pick up cupcakes, but the food in the case was too irresistable, so I stopped and had a Croque Monsieur at the bar. Very delicious and tasty. A harsh critic would just call it a fancy biscuit, but it’s way more heavenly. The Dijon mustard dipping sauce that comes with is key. I want to go back and try the other three “savory cakes” on the menu – all of them look really intriguing.

They are not shy about promoting their cupcake with wine and beer pairing happy hour – which sounds strange, but apparently is quite popular in the evenings. I honestly thought their cupcakes were the best out of all the ones I tried at your party – moisture, texture and icing all hit the spot. But they should also be known for the other food on the menu and for the ambience. Ideal meal would be a savory cake, a cupcake with orange juice.

Sweet Revenge:

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The amazing cupcakes:

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The croque monsieur Arthur ate before coming to an eating event:

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And of course, a picture of Faire stuffing her face with a vanilla cupcake:


Adults should eat cupcakes with the same gusto

And our vanilla team judges deliberating:


Here’s our first video interview (David walked around and interviewed judges):

Congratulations to Sweet Revenge for winning the best vanilla cupcake in New York City! Tomorrow I’ll have a post about the progress of my Aerogarden and I’ll be back with more cupcake results on Wednesday, when I’ll post the best chocolate cupcake in NYC! Stay tuned!

Cupcake Cagematch Introduction
Best Chocolate Cupcakes in NYC
Best Red Velvet Cupcakes in NYC
Best Wildcard Cupcakes in NYC
Moistest and Prettiest Cupcakes in NYC
Most Flavorful Cupcakes in NYC
Best Bakeries in NYC

Happy birthday, Dorren!

By grace.g.yang · August 7, 2009
Under: Cupcakes,Lunch,My Life,West Village

Today, I just found out, is Dorren’s birthday! We were discussing the cupcake cagematch and he mentioned that he got a free cupcake from CC’s Cafe today because it was his birthday:


(insert candle, birthday hat, and streamers)

Dorren and I are good buddies from work and he is probably the nicest guy I’ve ever met; everyday, he brings me and David a piece of fruit and always washes it and delivers it straight to our desks! To give you an example of how thoughtful Dorren is, he went on vacation or was out of the office one day so I didn’t think I’d get any fruit, but he sent me an e-mail and told me to look in the fridge because he left fruit for me! Everyday, I’m always excited for 4pm because that’s when I get to see Dorren. He always comes over with a plum, cut up mango, kiwi, apple, or apricot.

Dorren is also really nice to all of the other developers on the team – on the weekends, he goes to Costco with his wife to pick up mixed nuts and other snacks so the developers will have something to snack on while they’re busy at work. He’s also known to shoot off nerf-guns at work (although those were all confiscated).

I didn’t know it was his birthday, so this weekend, in addition to writing my cupcake posts, I will be making him something extra special! Happy birthday, Dorren!

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