From Food

Favorite moments of 2015

2015 was a busy year. To remind myself just what I accomplished and hope to remember in 2016, I revisited my year in Instagram, which I think is an accurate if not a little exaggerated representation of my life.

The 2015bestnine application says these were my best nine images from the year, but best really just means the ones that were lit the best, captioned the best or possibly even just timed the best. But they do encapsulate some of my best memories from the year. As to not countdown or give any one moment more love than any other, I am going to write chronologically. (If we’re being honest, Theo is the best moment, but you will have to wait to read more about that.)

2015 started off strong – I found these legos and made this. It was a year filled with hope.

With friends and Nozomi, I traveled to New Hampshire for the first time to attend Ryan and Becca’s wedding. The wedding was great as was seeing some of my best buds all dappered out. We took Lindsay’s Toyota Yaris, a car destined to zip around city streets, but not necessarily up to the demands of wintry forest land. After the wedding, we walked outside the venue to see the parking lot COVERED in snow. What had taken us 10 minutes to drive to at 7pm ended up being a 45 minute – 1.5 mile drive.

The next morning we woke up at the bed and breakfast and with our homemade bread and jam, we planned out our day. Anh Tuan suggested a walk on the lake which had frozen over and he ran on the day before. I had never done this before and was nervous, not sure I was dressed for the occasion. Nozomi borrowed Anh Tuan’s Yaktrax for her leopard oxfords and we walked onto the lake. I was still scared as we took our first steps onto this massive lake, but to the left and right we saw ice-fishing houses that made me think we were pretty safe. We didn’t walk too far until it was just snow and ice in the distance and felt like we were settling a new land.

You should try it.

Go to Japan. It's great! #sawafranknihon #railpass

A post shared by Lee Sawa-Frank (@leemfrank) on

In March, we finally travelled to Japan. We had been talking about it for years by this point and it was time.

On a whirlwind 15 day trip, Nozomi and I fit in visits to her grandparents in the South Island of Kyushu (palm trees), seeing her cousin in Fukuoka (small city), two different onsens (lots of naked men), her other cousins in Tottori and one last cousin in Tokyo (massive massive city). The first half we travelled ourselves and the second was with some combination of the Sawa family.

I had great coffee multiple times, plenty of Sapporo, one of the best meals of my life at Sushi Sho (where they’re booked up two months in advance, but we showed up right after two cancellations) and saw so much Sakura I got bored of them.

Japan is a beautiful country with awesome modes of travel and in cities great respect for nature. Minutes away from densely packed neighborhoods, we could take a break from the hectic times around us with a break in a park.

We’re going to be visiting Japan a lot in the future.

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Over the summer, we let the world know that a third member of the family was joining us and we started thinking about names. We had the name Theodore pretty quickly, but in case we had friends with negative opinions about the Trust Buster Teddy Roosevelt, we kept it a secret. We started planning his room and who was allowed to be the funny one in the family.

With Theo set to arrive around December 11, there was a lot of “last time before we had kids” moments. Like “last time I eat too many platters of nachos for journalism” before Theo arrives or “last time I take NJ Transit” before Theo arrives.

In September, with Theo just a few months away, we took a trip out west to see the Sawa family and stop in Joshua Tree for a night. I had never been in a national park that was so bare, yet mesmerizing. It was great to climb rocks and befriend cactuses.

Our visit was the break we were hoping for and made us feel more ready leading up to Theo’s arrival.

Also in LA, Sqirl is too good to be true.

December 6.

Well, December 4 is a better place to start. On December 4, I was jokingly telling people at Ryan’s birthday party that me and Nozomi hadn’t come up with a plan of what to do if she went into labor and I wasn’t there. That night, I arrived home shortly after midnight (December 5) and fell asleep only to be woken up 30 minutes later hearing Nozomi on the phone with our doctor. After she took a quick shower and we headed to the hospital.

At 1am we were at the hospital, Nozomi being admitted and Theo coming ahead of schedule. During the day, Nozomi rested as the contractions got longer and more painful. However, almost a full 24 hours later, Theo was born via C-section. It turned out that baby Theo was wrapped up in his umbilical cord (just like his father). He joined us at 1:09am on December 6, 2015. Everyday has been a constant learning experience.

So far these are the top Theo facts.

  • He has ridden the subway once.
  • His best friend is a mothers-in-law tongue plant. They talk everyday.
  • He has yet to like any toys or pacifiers.

So 2015 was a pretty great year. I apologize that my list for last year came almost three months into this year, but I am sure you understand.

Best Late Night Foods in NYC

open late
Via Hu is Hungry

Prior to the end of the year, I got an assignment for a Thrillist article tasking me with finding the best foods to be eaten in New York after a long night out. New York truly never sleeps or at least not until it has a very heavy and delicious meal. Thrillist was unaware that I go to bed at 9pm, but luckily it didn’t matter. This list has so much good food on it that you would be lucky to eat during daylight as well.

It turns out the easiest foods to find late night are incredible burgers and amazing pizza, but the city can also off a good ramen, sushi, or even a Katz’s Hot Corned Beef Sandwich.

Check out the list on Thrillist.

Best Burritos in NYC

Following up to my Best Nachos in NYC, Thrillist challenged my tastebuds on another food I talk about slightly less – Burritos. It hurt my stomach a bit to finalize all of my decisions, but I feel like this list of greatest burritos around was well worth the pain. The burrito below was one of my favorites. Presented like a rectangle, combined with addictive chicken inside, made me want to keep going even though I was leaving there to have a 2nd burrito.

Tinga burrito at Taqueria Tepango

Best Nachos in NYC

I wrote this list of the best nacho spots in NYC for Thrillist New York. It was a great trip down nacho memory lane for me and an opportunity to see the new nacho highlights in the marketplace.

Nachos at Taco Chulo
For Taco Chulo in Williamsburg, I wrote:

There are many nominees for most likely to need a napkin, but only one official winner, and it’s Taco Chulo’s Nachos Chulos. As a constituent of the cheese sauce community, Taco Chulo’s namesake ‘chos pour on the orange cheese generously along with crema, pico de gallo, and fresh guacamole.

See the rest of the list on Thrillist.