Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition hosted by Hirshhorn Museum  is definitely the event of the spring in Washington D.C.  We could not miss the chance to visit it too.


Hirshhorn is a Smithsonian’s Museum, which means there’s is a free entry. However, in this case I’d much rather pay for the tickets than go through the ordeal of getting my free pass.  Generally, there are two ways to get in – you either get a timed pass online or you come in the morning and line up for the same-day walk up timed pass. Or you could also donate money (the smallest donation suggestion I saw was $250, but someone told me you could do $50) and become a member and visit as often as you like whenever you want to.

The only problem with the online passes is Continue reading

Grace’s Mandarin If You Love Chinese Food

I stopped eating Chinese food 10 years ago, after my vacation in China. Not because I had a bad experience, but because I had such a great food experience, that after that eating  broccoli and pieces of something that might have been chicken, beef or a shoe sole, covered in soy sauce, didn’t seem appetizing at all. And unfortunately this is what most of the Chinese food outside of China tastes like.

One of my memorable dinners in Changchun was at one of the city’s top 3 restaurants, where you could pick the lobster or the fish from the aquarium and they would cook it for you right away. Yeah, this type of restaurant, with marble tables and chairs looking like emperor’s throne. It was also where I first tried glass noodles, frogs’ legs and some of the cuisine’s finest sauces. My other memorable dinner was in Beijing, where we found a hall-in-the-wall type of place, with sticky tables and personnel wearing stained aprons and not speaking a word of English. Up to the day I remember how delicious their Beijing duck and sweet aubergines were.beijing_modern_city_920x500

However, yesterday I finally broke my 10 years long Chinese food fast and didn’t regret it one bit. Before seeing Sting at MGM National Harbor last night we had a dinner date with my husband at Grace’s Mandarin. I can say with absolute confidence that it was the best Chinese food I ever have had outside of China. Continue reading

New York Gems: Chelsea Market

One thing I am always trying to do when I am traveling is to visit the local market.

Even if they are flooded with tourists, nothing shows you local life better than these markets. Oh, the crispiest of the breads at the market near St. Placid metro station in Paris! Oh, the juiciest of the shrimps and octopuses at San Miguel Market in Madrid! Oh, the delicious pasta at San Lorenzo Market in Florence! I could go on and on…

Not only food, of course. All kinds of arts and crafts, local clothes and fake Louis Vuitton purses,  old ladies buying milk and cheese and bargaining with the sellers, all the tourist buzz – there is just something to the markets that gives you a real taste of the city.

Before I first came to New York, I’ve never even thought that there might a market there – for me New York was a city of skyscrapers and market just didn’t fit into the picture. But now Chelsea Market is one of my favorite places to visit whenever I am in Manhattan. It’s definitely more touristic than a farmers’ market somewhere in the Southern France, but it is definitely a place to not be missed when you are in Big Apple.chelsea market Continue reading

The Boardwalk Empire VS MGM National Harbor

I first entered a casino in 2010. My then-not-even-a -boyfriend took me to Atlantic City and  the place wowed me to the point that it has now almost become our family legend how I was waking around the Caesar’s Casino with my eyes wide open and jaw dropped.  Since then I went to AC at least 8 times and each time the wow-factor was there less and less, until last weekend it came to the point when I wanted to dry-clean all of my clothes and shoes after just spending a night there.download-1

Sure, the ocean is always beautiful, but the famous Boardwalk is not what it used to be. From closed hotels and casinos to shops selling tacky t-shirts, from mediocre restaurants to scary-looking crowds, from loud commercials on repeat to all-penetrating cigarette smoke, this was definitely not the place I remembered from my first visits in 2010.

This past weekend we finally drove to National Harbor to check on the new MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, which opened just last December. Casinos in the US are very strictly regulated, so having one just half an hour drive from home seemed an exciting thing.

And this time the WOW factor was present all right. Continue reading

Boatyard Bar and Grill: Annapolis Must Eat

America is known for big things. Houses, cars, distances, shopping malls, highways. But nothing annoys me more than big food portions.big-portion

When I was growing up, it was considered rude to leave anything on your plate – even if you are about to explode from all the food you’ve consumed. Between you parents sending you on a guilt trip reminding you about all the starving kids in third world countries and your party host driving you nuts with the question “Was the dish so bad that you don’t want to finish it?” you learned to eat up whatever was on your plate just to avoid all these interactions.

This habit played a bad trick on me when I moved to the US. It wasn’t until quite a few pounds later and all of our overseas guests, who were steadily shocked seeing the size of the plates in the restaurants that I realized that it’s time to drop the childhood habit of finishing whatever is on your plate, otherwise the consequences might be irreversible.

Yesterday we drove to Annapolis, MD for the change of scenery, fresh oysters and for allegedly the best crab cakes in the country at Boatyard Bar and Grill. Continue reading

West End Girls, East End Boys

If only I could spend as many days in London as I have pictures in my phone after the trip…:)

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It was my third time in London. The previous two happened over 6 years ago, when I was living in a small (relatively small) Finnish town – before I ever visited Paris or New York or San Francisco or Honolulu  – so you can imagine how much I had my mind blown after seeing what London had to offer.  I’m even embarrassed now to remember how excited I was to see  Victoria’s Secret shops or how I was making my friend who I was visiting go to every single Starbucks we saw or how confused I was in the tube looking for the correct line.

Weather was  great. London rain is overrated, if you ask me. We were there for  5 days in November and didn’t see a drop of it. However, I completely forgot what it felt to be outside for longer than 15 minutes when the temperatures are in the high 40’s/8-9 C. You need layers and layers of clothes. You also need a big scarf, a hat and gloves. Unless you are local. In this case you can go just wearing ballerinas, ripped jeans and short leather jacket. At least, this is what the majority of the women I saw looked like. I was freezing just looking at them and wrapped in the scarf tighter.

Food is good in England.  Don’t argue with me on that one, I am a foodie and I am peculiar when it comes to that part of the deal.  The only place where I didn’t like the food was the place I used to love during my previous visits. Yes, Patisserie Valerie, I am looking at you. Those Eggs Benedict were a disgrace. Warm apple tart was ok though. The rest of the food experience was very good. Duck Shepard’s Pie and steak tartare at Balthazar. Coffee and pastries at Arro Coffee. Steaks and grilled porcini mushrooms at Zelman Meats. Fish and chips – yes, fish and chips – at some no name place on our way to the tube. Continue reading

My Top 5 Places To Eat in DC Metro Area

Everybody who knows me at least a little bit,  knows I am a foodie. I love to cook and I love to eat. I love exploring new places to eat, I love good food presentation, I love going to the cooking classes, and food is a significant part of my travelling  experience. This love has taken its toll on me though and I had to make going to the gym a part of my routine to keep  the digits on the scale somehow under control. But it’s not the point.

In this post I want to share with you my favorite food places this spring. Most of them are my latest discoveries, but some of them I have been loving for ages.

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Photo by Ambar Restaurant

Ambar :  –  If you have never tried Balkan cuisine – you need to go. If you have – you don’t need this blog post to tell you this as you have probably already made a reservation. The best way to enjoy is to come very hungry and order Balkan Experience – you pay fixed price and they bring you everything on the menu. The dishes are tapas size, so you will be able to fit quite a few in your stomach. The service is great, everyone is very friendly, the food tastes as if your Grandmother just cooked it, drink selection is beyond this world and I particularly love the choice of music. Love, love, love! Continue reading