Top 10 Instagram Moments from 2013

2013 was an amazing year. I don’t know if any other year will every compare, considering it was a year of great change. I lived in three different cities, visited 11 cities in nine countries, graduated from my MBA program, found a job that I love and relocated to Shanghai. I fully recognize that I probably will never travel that much in my life ever again. I definitely cherish every single moment of 2013. However, I’m excited for what 2014 will bring and for new Shanghai adventures.

It’s too difficult to rank my favorite moments of 2013, but I did want to capture 10 of my favorites (brought to you by the lens of my iPhone 4 and Instagram).

1. Invalides (Paris, France)

InvalidesI had just moved out of the suburbs of France and into Paris. After having a lovely brunch on a cold, snowy day, the Métro broke down and I had to walk home. What started out as a inconvenience, turned into an absolutely stunning walk and I got to capture this gorgeous shot of Invalides (which never would have happened if the Métro worked!).

2. Burj Khalifa (Dubai, UAE)

Burj KhalifaIt was my first trip to the Middle East and Dubai was such an eye-opening experience. I learned so much about the local culture and was also just stunned with the entire city. Everything was so opulent and it was more than I could have ever imagined. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world and I loved the way it was lit up at night with its own sparkling lights like the Eiffel Tower.

3. Château de Chenonceau (Loire Valley, France)

Loire ValleyI felt like I was on the set of Downton Abbey while wondering the vast halls and gardens during my Loire Valley Châteaux tour. It made me feel like a Pretty, Pretty Princess. The Loire Valley is definitely worth visiting and I personally enjoy it a lot more than visiting the palace in Versailles.

4. Victoria Harbor (Hong Kong)

Rubber DuckWho doesn’t love a giant, 6-story inflatable rubber duck? It was awesome to be in Hong Kong the same time as this wandering art installation from Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

5. Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

Arc de TriompheThis was the night I found out that I was accepted for an amazing opportunity in Hong Kong and that I would be leaving the wonderful City of Light. It was such mixed emotions for me as I was excited to go to Hong Kong, but I was so sad to leave Paris earlier than anticipated. I took this photo right before hopping on the Métro. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that I had captured a picture perfect “stolen moment” of a couple in love. I feel like this picture captured the true essence of l’amour and my own love affair with Paris.

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One Night in Shanghai

Shanghai Pudong

Monday, September 16 was a meaningful day for me. It was my official graduation ceremony in Paris. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend my ceremony so I was happy to celebrate in my own way in Shanghai. One of my closest friends hosted me in Shanghai and I was so happy to spend time with her.

Nougatine Early Bird Menu

Nougatine Early Bird Menu

We decided to have an early dinner at Jean Georges’ Nougatine (3 on the Bund). I had eaten at Jean Georges’ signature restaurant before, but I didn’t realize they changed their “bar lounge” into a upscale bistro. What was even better is that from 6 to 7pm, Nougatine serves a special Early Bird menu. For 218 RMB, you get a three-course dinner, which is totally worth it. The food they serve on the Early Bird menu is similar to what you would get at the Jean Georges signature restaurant.

Nougatine First Course

Foie Gras and Shrimp Salad

I started my meal with the foie gras brûleé, which was a thick piece of foie gras served on top of a small slice of bread with sour cherries and candied pistachios. It is one of my favorite dishes at Jean Georges because the combination goes so well together. It was served with a slightly sour gelée that cuts the fattiness of the foie gras. My friend ordered the shrimp salad, which was quite large, and served with mushroom slices, tomatoes and a lovely champagne vinaigrette.

Salmon and Molten Chocolate Cake

Salmon and Molten Chocolate Cake

For our main course, we both ordered the salmon, which came with a passionfruit emulsion, spinach and black olives. It was my first time having salmon served with a fruity sauce and it worked surprisingly well. We ended our meal with the best mouelleux au chocolat on the planet. It’s a warm molten chocolate lava cake served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever had a better mouelleux au chocolat.

It was a gorgeous night in Shanghai. After our dinner, we took a walk on the Bund and enjoyed the beautiful view of Pudong. Every time I come to Shanghai, I feel like they add more and more lights to Pudong and I kept hearing Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in my head (shine bright like a diamond).

Shanghai Tian Zi Fang

Tian Zi Fang 田自坊

The next day I visited Tian Zi Fang (田子坊), located in the French Concession. Tian Zi Fang is one of my favorite “tourist spots” and holds a dear place in my heart. It’s a small enclave, which has kept its original 1930s architecture, but it now houses cute boutique stores, art exhibitions and restaurants sprinkled throughout its alleyways. I still remember when Tian Zi Fang first opened in 2006. I thought it has so much charm. Today, it is much more touristy, but I still think it is worth a visit and is much more interesting compared to Xin Tian Di (新天地).

It was a short but wonderful trip to Shanghai. Only three people (including myself) didn’t attend graduation, so I was definitely feeling nostalgic seeing everyone’s photos. I’m glad I was still able to celebrate this momentous occasion with a dear friend in a beautiful city.

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana Comes to Shanghai

Scallops

Warm scallops with fresh vegetables, olives and sweet pepper mayonnaise

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana opened in Shanghai in February 2012 and it is one of the hottest restaurants in town. I had to call three times before I could make a reservation and I finally succeeded when I made reservations over a week in advance. Originally hailing from Hong Kong, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy that has Three Michelin Stars. Although Michelin has yet to produce a guide for Shanghai, I eagerly anticipate the day when the Shanghai location receives the same accolade.

Goose Liver Duet

Goose Liver Duet

Burrata Cheese Ravioli

Burrata Cheese Ravioli

Tagliolini Alle Vongole

Tagliolini Alle “Vongole”

Bellini

Bellini and Fresh, Warm Bread

Strawberry Rice Bavarois

Strawberry Rice Bavarois

Chocolate Sherry Dessert

Chocolate Sherry Dessert

End of Meal Dessert Bites

End of Meal Dessert Bites

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