Valentine’s Day with Leaders Cosmetics

Hi Everyone!

 

Valentine’s day is going to be different for me this year. Even though I am still single and my DM’s are collecting cob webs, I’m spending February 14th with someone special. Me.

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This is a day dedicated to expressing love and that includes self love too. No one can give you the kind of love that you have for yourself. That’s the kind of love that started at such a young age and will continue to grow with you throughout the rest of your days.

There are numerous ways to practice self care, my favorite being face masks. I love giving my face the ultimate treatment it deserves. I wear make up regularly, sweat when I’m at the gym, and STILL have family members that like to pinch my cheeks. So when I’m able to, I like to treat myself.

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This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be using face masks from Leaders Cosmetics. They offer a Daily Wonder’s Kit, which comes with a pack of six face masks that serve different purposes and are made from premium cotton. It’s a small boost in your daily skin routine that will help hydrate, clarify, and soothe your skin with the goal of a near perfect complexion.

I tried one already called “What Happened Last Night?”, which is a radiance revitalizing mask and I absolutely love how it feels. Between the premium cotton and the solution it is saturated in, all I needed was two sliced cucumbers covering my eyes. They recommend leaving it on for about 15 minutes, but I may have left it on for a bit longer.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

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NOLA : 4 Restaurants To Try Outside Of The French Quarters

 

Recently, I took an impromptu trip to New Orleans, Louisiana for a few days to visit some friends. Once the tickets were booked, I got my hair braided, packed my Beyoncé Formation hat and was off to a new city!

In an attempt to put together an itinerary for our time in New Orleans, my friend asked what I wanted to do while down there. My mind spoke for me and in the next breath the words “EAT!” rolled right off my tongue.

New Orleans is known for having delectable food and I wanted to try it all, especially the grits. It was my personal goal to have the best grits I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Goal set and achieved, but I’ll get to that later.

New Orleans is a city where you’ll find a lot of tourists who want to enjoy the amazing food that the locals get experience on a regular basis. Of course you can’t leave with out having beignets at Cafe Du Monde, but you’ll also want to expand your horizons and venture outside of the French Quarter for a meal or three.

Here are four places to get a great meal outside out the French Quarter:

 

Another Broken Egg 

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This cafe style restaurant is on the smaller side, which means the wait time for a table can push close to 45 mins. However, I believe the wait is worth it. I was told that I would have the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had in my life at this establishment, therefore, I didn’t really peruse the menu too much as my decision was already made for me. I sided my meal with a fluffy pancake and we collectively topped off everything with a pitcher of mango-kiwi mimosas.

The plate of food came out and I did my “I’m excited to eat dance”. I dived right in and was overly satisfied. My grits were topped with a perfect concoction of seasonings and well cooked shrimp. Definitely the best I’ve ever had.

 

The Country Club 

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I’ll start with the fact that this is a great place to get all of your cute brunch photos. It has the look of an old house, which it probably was some odd years ago, and the interior decorating is a perfect backdrop.They serve bottomless mimosas for brunch and they also have a drag show twice a month.

I started with a roasted corn and crab bisque. It was delicious and a nice start to a meal. It’s also a good dish to get by itself if you want to eat light. I wasn’t able to finish mine because I wanted to save room for my main meal, which included scrambled eggs, grits, a biscuit, and bacon. The food was great and the staff was extremely courteous.

Side note: If you order bottomless mimosas, don’t forget to ask for your togosa (a mimosa to go)

This place is another one that gets booked very quickly, especially when there is a show going on. We had perfect timing and luckily got a table. You can also opt to sit at the bar in the back. Around that time, the bar was extremely packed because everyone was watching the Saints play the Rams and the New Orleans locals go hard for their Saints.

Another side note: They have a pool outside in the back that’s open in the summertime as well as a poolside bar.

Cajun Seafood 

 

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It’s been said that New Orleans has some of the best seafood. Well, I took it into my own hands to test the theory and I would agree with what the people say.

Our last night in NOLA, we stayed in and had a seafood feast filled with crab, crawfish, shrimp along with corn on the cob, potatoes, and gumbo. Everything tasted amazing and was so well seasoned. I learned how to properly eat crawfish and had some of the spiciest corn on the cob ever.

Cajun Seafood is a place you won’t go to sit down at and have a meal. It’s more of a pick it up and take it to go kind of place. Everything tasted fresh like they fished it out of the Mississippi that morning.

 

Wakin’ Bakin’ 

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Talk about hole in the wall. Wakin’ Bakin’ is a tiny coffee shop-style eatery that serves breakfast. There’s nothing overly fancy about this place.  The interior is very laxed with non-coordinating tables and the wall chachkies gave it a cozy feeling.

I ordered a swiss cheese and spinach omelette with a side of grits. I was pleased, especially with the grits. Cooked much more simply than the grits I had earlier in the trip, but still 10x better than what I’ve had at home.

This is a great place for a quick, affordable, and filling breakfast before starting your day. The one downside was that it took longer than expected for them to bring our food, however, the workers were extremely friendly so that made up for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Chop: Two Years Later

Hello!

I’ve been natural for two years now and the journey has been interesting to say the least. There are plenty of ups and downs to being a Naturalista, but as much as I may complain, the good outweighs the bad and I would never go back. I wanted to show you an update and tell you what I’ve learned in the last two years.

  1. Detangling is an extreme sport.

My arms arms are getting toned for summer and I can thank the detangling process. It’s like when you split your hair into sections, you rest in between each set. I thank the man above for my deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and argan oil.

2. Protective styles are life.

While rocking your curls, twists, and braid outs are what natural hair is all about, sometimes you need a break. I wasn’t prepared to have to twist my hair every two or three days in order to keep my twist out looking half way decent. Protective styles, such as wigs, braids, weaves, not only protect my hair, but give me (and my arms) a break too.

3. Knowing your hair type is important.

Naturalistas, in general, encounter similar hair experiences. However, when you separate us into categories based on our hair type, we begin to experience things a little differently. For example, someone who is 4C may require more oils on their hair and scalp since they are prone to dryness and they also experience more shrinkage.

As my natural hair journey continues, I’m aiming for longer length and definition in my curls. I’ll continue to update you along the way.

Setting the Energy for 2019

The year is coming to a close and it’s time to start setting goals for 2019. Before we dive into that, I find it behooving to take a look back and see what’s been accomplished this year and what might make a second appearance on the 2019 list.

In my previous post titled “Stepping Into 2018 Like…“, I listed everything I wanted to do this year and I’m pleased with the outcome. With the right energy and focus, I managed to tackle everything on my list in some shape or form.

 

 

 

In order to keep the momentum going all year long, you have to be self-disciplined and consistent in your actions. Write them down. There is something so authentic about physically writing down your goals, plans, wishes, prayers, desires, etc. It’s taking the idea in your head and now having a visual representation of what you want. Put that list in a place where you will see it regularly as a reminder to yourself throughout the year.

Sacrifices go along with self-discipline. What you want to accomplish may require you to let go of other things. For example, I wanted to do some traveling this year and take my student loans seriously. That required me to give up other everyday luxuries that I enjoy, but it was well worth it.

 

 

While I do have a list of resolutions for the coming year, I want to focus on habits we should all leave behind in 2018 in order to have a prosperous 2019.

  1. Lack of faith | I’m talking lack of faith in all aspects. You need to keep your faith strong in whom (or what) you believe in whether, it’s God, the Universe, Buddha, Allah, the Moon, etc. If you choose not to believe in any higher power, then the least you can do is have faith in yourself. If you don’t think you’ll be able to achieve great things, you’re mentally setting yourself up for failure. These “great things” could mean becoming more fiscally responsible or turning your side hustle your main hustle. You’ve got to foresee it before you can make it happen.
  2. Inimical People | The company we keep makes a significant impact in our lives. You should always strive to surround yourself with peers and friends that will not only support you, but seize the opportunity to help elevate you to the next level. Anyone harboring negative energy for whatever reason or trying to keep you from your full potential shouldn’t have access to you in 2019.
  3. Fear | Letting go of fear is, by far, the hardest thing to do. We often times allow it to keep us from making bold moves and being who we are capable of. The on-set of fear goes hand-in-hand with where your level of faith is. The time you spend thinking about the negative outcomes can be used to think about the positive things you’ve done thus far. In the new year, we will take time to acknowledge, vocalize, and be proud of our accomplishments so that we can remind ourselves how great we are and not be fearful of our greatness.
“…is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Happy New Year!

 

República Dominicana

This year I turned 25 and decided to go all out for this milestone birthday. I, along with my cousins, celebrated for three long, luxurious days in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and it was truly the best birthday experience I’ve ever had. If you’re a first timer, planning a trip to the Dominican Republic or any island, keep reading to gather some helpful tips!

THE RESORT

Where you stay while on vacation is one of the most important aspects of the trip, especially if you’re staying at a resort. It’s where you will be sleeping and spending a bulk of your time. After switching between a few places, we settled on Breathless Resort and Spa; an adult-only all-inclusive beach side resort. 

When we arrived, we were greeted at the door with drinks, which was only a foreshadowing as to what the next few days would look like. They asked what the reason for our visit was and we mentioned that we were celebrating my birthday. When we got up to the room, there was a little birthday cake waiting for me on the table! I thought that was a very personable touch.

I applaud Breathless for all of the entertainment events they had going on too. I feel like they really catered to a young and vibrant crowd. Between the foam parties, the late night beach parties, lobster dinner on the beach, and day time activities by the pool, there was always something going on. Not to say this place is party central because there are definitely areas of peace and solace if that’s what you’re looking for. 

I will say that we did experience a few minor problems with our room that had to be taken care of, but nothing major that would ruin our trip. 

The ability of being able to walk up to any bar and order a drink or going into any restaurant without having to pay for it is everyone’s favorite part of staying at an all-inclusive. Breathless had a good mix of restaurants to choose from that served different styles of food. My favorite was the hibachi grill because hibachi is always entertaining.

THE PEOPLE

The resort was also conveniently located near some shops in town run by the locals. So, yes we did indeed leave the resort, however, it was completely safe. We spoke to some people from the town and it’s amazing how different their lifestyle is compared to ours. The pace is a lot slower and very laid back. They’re a friendly group of people (especially if you’re black) who also have their own little side hustles trying to make a few dollars from the tourists. 

They like when you can speak a little bit of Spanish even if it’s just a few words. Knowing Spanish fluently would help, obviously, but it isn’t a major issue in the Dominican Republic. Truthfully, I found that the language barrier helped me refresh some of my Spanish. 

THE EXCURSIONS

For our excursion, I wanted to do something adventurous and so we went dune buggy riding through the island, which was an awesome experience. They lead us to a different beach that was more secluded and then to a dirt race track where we did a few laps full speed. Warning: Don’t wear anything you don’t want to get dirty. Also, if you have a bandana at home, bring it with you because you’ll need that and sunglasses to keep the dust out of your face.

We had lunch with traditional Dominican food (the chicken was bomb) and then got a chance to swim in a natural pool by a waterfall. Check out some of the candids below!

Chillin’ out max and relaxin all cool
Based on this photo, can you guess which one of us is a former cheerleader?

OVERALL

The Dominican Republic is truly a cool place and I would definitely go back. We spent a lot of time at the resort,  so next time, I plan to go and see more of the island. 

I thought traveling to an island in November would be significantly cheap since it was the off-season but prices were about the same. Nothing outrageous, but nothing crazily discounted either. The weather was pretty good. It rained everyday we were there but it only lasted five minutes and then the sun came out. 

Some people claim that after you’ve seen one island, you’ve seen them all. I beg to differ. I’ve been to two other islands (Bermuda & Ibiza) and experienced them in completely different ways. While there are similarities, each place has it’s own uniqueness, which separates it from the rest.

10/10 would recommend.

Concert SZN: Aubrey and The Three Migos are On The Run II look for 24K Magic

The title of this article though???

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Hi Everyone !

In the past three months, I’ve attended three concerts and I’m here to give you tips when attending each venue as well as some low quality iPhone pics. Enjoy!

On The Run II | August 3rd | Metlife Stadium

The theme of this experience is called last minute because that’s when I bought these tickets. The doors opened at 7 and I bought the tickets at 6:20. Don’t let this be an example of the type of person I am because while I do procrastinate sometimes, it’s never to this extent. I had been looking for someone to go to the concert with for months but it turns out I don’t know that many people that are Beyonce fans *eye roll* Luckily, a friend came through before all hope was lost and I bought the tickets as I was leaving work.

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I got home and threw on a yellow tank top (a nod to being a member of the beehive) and some high-waisted jeans I had been working on cutting up. I threw on my sandals and within 20 minutes (new personal record) I was out of the house and on my way.

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You better believe I hit every beat of choreography that I knew. Yoncè wasn’t the only one performing that night.

If there is a concert that you’re dying to go to, BUY TICKETS! Don’t hesitate because I cannot imagine if I had missed this show! Purchasing a ticket will at least secure your spot and finding a friend to take the second ticket and accompany you will be so much easier. You could also buy one ticket and go to the concert solo dolo. There are lots of concerts you can get away with going to alone and Beyonce is one of them. We actually sat next to a girl who was there alone and I commend her.

Metlife Stadium Tip: Be ready to attend whatever event you’re going to rain or shine. I’ve been to a few concerts here and unless it’s lightning, the show will go on even if they have to delay it. The show that happened the first night got rained on. The stadium hasn’t invested in an automatic roof or dome for bad weather yet but I’ll make sure to put that in the suggestion box.

Aubrey and The Migos |August 25th \ Madison Square Garden

This was such a fun concert to be at with my friends and I had a great time. We grabbed dinner beforehand at good ole Dallas BBQ in Time Square. The chicken tenders were so delicious and the drinks were even better. That caused for a fun walk over to MSG.

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Luckily, we were there the night Cardi B came out on stage! Since our seats were in the barstool section we had a lot of space to move around (the only benefit) and so when Drake moved to the other side of the stage we couldn’t see, we took advantage of the space and made it a dance floor.

Madison Square Garden Tip : Don’t do barstool seating at Madison Square Garden. It was, by far, the worst seating I’d ever had at a concert. This was my first time at MSG for a concert and now I truly know what “nosebleed” seating is. If you’re ever in the situation where your fave is doing a show and all you can afford is the tippy top, I would suggest either paying for better seats or buying their concert merch instead. Take a look at our view…

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These pics are slightly zoomed in.
The partial view of the stage + the uncomfortable barstools = $150
The fun time my friends and I had together = Priceless

24K Magic | October 2nd | Prudential Center

LET’S SET THIS PARTY ON FIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!!

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I adore Bruno Mars and am so glad I finally got to one of his shows. I did so much jumping and dancing that I probably lost about 2 pounds. It confirmed for me that the next time he goes on tour, I will pay to have floor seating.

This guy is so talented, fun, soulful, and multi-generational. I saw so many moms there having the time of their lives. His band and back-up dancers mesh so perfectly with him and are just as suave. Bruno has a type of swag that not many younger artists have and I truly dig his old school vibe. In lieu, I decided to dress with a 90’s theme in mind.

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Prudential Center Tip: If you do it the right way, parking at Prudential doesn’t have to be expensive. Little did I know that there are some parking lots that offer parking for as cheap as $20. The most expensive lot I saw was $50! Yes, you’ll be a few blocks away but nothing out of hand where it feels like a hike. We only had to walk two blocks. Way less than 0.25 miles. It was definitely worth it.

Do Not Touch

I knew it was bound to happen, I just didn’t know when. If you’re a black girl, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Yup, someone touched my hair.

Let me set the scene. I decided to finally check out a new library to unwind and get some work done after school. The outside of the building didn’t look like a library… at all. The building was old and beige and the library sat on top of a convenience store and a nail salon, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked it. Inside, was a beautiful, modern space with everything I needed to zone out on my computer for a few hours and enjoy a new space that wasn’t my apartment or school.

When I decided to leave and pack up my stuff, I heard two little voices behind me speaking in Czech. The only word I could understand was “Prosím!” which means “please”. I thought they wanted the desk I was at because they could tell I was getting ready to leave and the library was packed, so in response, I said “Ano” which means “yes” and before I knew it, I felt HANDS. IN. MY. HAIR.

I felt my shoulders automatically raise in response and slowly turned around. I saw two very excited girls that were about 7 and 10 years old smiling at me. They continued to chatter in Czech while I packed up my stuff and left as quickly as possible. All I could think about was how much I loved this library and how I couldn’t go back there. It’s hard being in another country where the culture is different, you aren’t fluent in the language and you don’t look like the majority of people you’re surrounded by.

Having my hair touched by random people isn’t something I like, especially with freshly washed hair. I hated feeling like I didn’t have control over what was happening to me and was angry with myself for accidentally giving them permission to do that. Something I had to remember was that everything can be a learning experience if you look at it through the right lens.

Let’s be honest, it’ll probably happen again. Next time it does, I’ll be a little more prepared. I taught myself a new Czech phrase that I can say with confidence, “nedotýkejte” or do not touch.

 

-Jelani

Travel Writer and Contributor

U.S. Open 2018

What’s up!

 

My latest adventure involved me being invited to the U.S Open in Queens, NY. Being as unknowledgeable about tennis as I was, I’ve gained a whole new prospective and respect for the game. I could post everything I learned about tennis, but this could turn into a short novel. Instead, I’ll give you some tips, for when you attend the match next year!

 

  1. Grab a Power Pack

When you enter the gates and make your way inside, you’re going to come across a station, sponsored by Chase, that will give you a power pack for $1 per person (which they refund to you) . It’s basically a portable charger that clips around your phone so you don’t misplace it. If the battery on it runs low, they have more stations located in different areas within the grounds where you can grab a new one. It really comes in handy, especially because you’ll be trying to snap pictures and using the U.S. Open app all day.

2. Download the app

There is so much to do at the open besides watch tennis. There are so many spots to eat at and a lot of interactive gaming and broadcast stations. The app is necessary in order to participate in some of the activities, gives you a map of the grounds, and holds your tickets. But that’s not all! The app has all of the game times and practice schedule for the day so you can plan accordingly.

2. Try the signature drink

The U.S Open crafted a signature cocktail for all of those (21 years and older) to enjoy. You must try it! T’was called the Grey Goose Honey Deuce and it was garnished with honey dew melon balls. They serve it in a special signature cup that you can keep as a souvenir.

3. Go to the practice matches

This is something I HIGHLY recommend doing ESPECIALLY if you have nosebleed seats in the stadium or you don’t have tickets at all. The practice courts have a smaller seating area, but don’t require a special ticket. They are strictly on a first come, first serve seating basis. This is where I saw Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens practice with their coaches and play a little bit. This is also a great time to get your pictures because it’s the closest you’re going to get.

4. Take public transportation

The subway is honestly the best way to travel to this event. From Penn Station, it is two stops on the LIRR and the stadium is spitting distance from Citi Field. The time and money you would spend finding a parking spot or getting a UBER, isn’t worth it. Just take the train!

Here are some pics from the day!

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Grey Goose Honey Deuce…yum!

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Lobster Quesadilla 

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One of the many picture taking stations!

 

2018 Summer Trends: Fashion Edition

Hey Errrybody!

Since summer is unfortunately winding down, I’m here to reminisce on all of your favorite summer 2018 trends. With the help of some friends and fashion enthusiasts, I’ve compiled a short list of fashion moments that were a highlight this summer. READY? GO!

  1. The Fanny Pack

Raise your hand if you knew this would be on the list! The fanny pack is back. Our parents rocked them and now we’re bringing it back to life!

“Old school trends are coming back and fanny packs are a big one. Plus, they’re functional so it’s a win-win. No matter what your favorite clothing brand is, they probably sold their take on the fanny pack this summer. I’ll probably rock mine in the fall too if we’re being honest.” – Megan, 24, NJ

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2. The Chunky/Dad Sneaker

It started with those bulky balenciaga sneakers that all the celebs and influencers were rocking on Instagram. Then the style started to expand and now dads across America are more on trend than ever!

“It’s anti-fashion. The vintage look has been super over sold in the last 10 years to the point where it’s annoying. The chunky look refreshed the idea, blending high end with low end. It’s a look that says ‘This shit looks good on me because I’m me. Fuck you.'”           -Miles, 23,Bronx

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3. Distressed Denim

This look is fun and can be bought or turned into a Saturday afternoon DIY project! Denim is look you can count on for almost any occasion.

“Distressed Denim was a hit for me! From the shorts, to the jackets, skirts, and everything in between, it’s really my go to! I usually match it with a cute pair of heels if I’m going out or a pair of chucks for a casual look.” -Jaime, 30, Atlanta

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4. Pop Of Color

Color made a statement this season whether it was a bright colored shirt or a pop of color for a neutral outfit. Brown and darker skin tones specifically look amazing in bright colors so shout out to all the melanin!

“Adding color to my outfit was a big thing for me this summer. Typically, I’m drawn to neutrals, however I accessorized with a colorful clutch or pair of heels.”                                -Courtney, 23, NJ

“I played with a lot of color this summer. The mustard tones look good on my skin.” -Victor, 25, Chicago

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Avocado Toast

Hello friends!

I’m coming to you today with something a little bit different than my usual fashion slayage. Recently, I was invited to Urban Table in Morristown, New Jersey for a unique dining experience and enjoyed a three course meal including avocado toast, arugula salad topped with salmon and house dressing, as well as a french onion dip sandwich with prime rib.

My first dish was the ever so popular avocado toast and it blew my mind! This combo has had quite the buzz lately and based on the sound of it, I wasn’t sold. Avocado + Toast = BORING. But boy was I was wrong!

It’s so much more than just avocado on bread. It was layered with cheese, seasoning, corn, etc. I loved it so much I decided to re-create it in my kitchen.

Aaaaaand voila…..

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It tasted so good!

When I did this re-creation I eye balled everything. No measurements were used at all.

First, I had to make the Mexican Street Style Corn.

In a medium bowl, I combined:

  1. 2 generous spoons of mayo
  2. A hand full of feta cheese
  3. Some diced red onions
  4. Some minced garlic
  5. Fresh lime juice (a little less than half a lime)
  6. A little chili powder
  7. Salt and Pepper ( I used more pepper than salt)
  8. **You can add in some jalapeño peppers if you want it a little spicy**

Then I poured two cans of corn in a skillet coated with olive oil and let it char some. Once the corn was done charring, I combined the corn with the mix in the bowl.

 

After making the street style corn, I put everything together in this order:

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A thick slice of oven toasted bread from a baguette.

 

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Sliced Avocado.

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Mexican Street Style corn.

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Diced Tomatoes.

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More Feta Cheese.

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Paprika.

So it was fun making this and as a side note, I recommend making the Mexican Street Style corn as a side for other dishes too. It’s something a little different and goes well with other dishes.

As for Urban Table, I’ll be back soon to taste some other foods on the menu! Thanks again!

 

P.S. They also had the best Frozè I’ve ever had! You’re welcome.