Back in the Borough: Get Cheesed in NYC

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Welcome, friends, to the 8th installment of my In NYC series, wherein I discuss the most amazing places in the city to eat cheese. I know that sounds odd (it felt odd just typing it), but cheese is something of a thing here in Manhattan. People have their own favorite places, we’re all about the artisanal cheeses, and you absolutely do not show up at someone’s place without bringing a block of your stinkiest findings along.

So, friends, here are some of my favorite places to load up on this tasty treat.

Where to Get Cheese In NYC

1. Murray’s Cheese: With monthly clubs to join, classes to take and an entire section on their website dedicated to simply teaching about cheese, Murray’s is about more than just tasting cheese — it’s about learning everything is there to know about this delicacy.

2. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: I’ve mentioned Beecher’s before on this blog, so I won’t go into too much detail here again, but I’ll just say that I love the fact that you can actually watch them making the cheese at Beecher’s. [And their downstairs cafe and wine area helps bring this place to the top of my cheese list, as well.]

3. Lucy’s Whey: Granted this is a neighborhood fave and maybe a bit out of the way for your average tourist, Lucy’s Whey (located at Lexington and 93rd in our hood, or 425 W. 15th St.), has a lot going for it. The staff is always super friendly at the store in our neighborhood, and have been very helpful when I’ve stopped in. Plus their little cafe is a great place to grab some lunch.

4. DTLA Cheese [Grand Central Market]Mostly because of its fun and fabulous location in the Grand Central Market, DTLA Cheese makes a great pit stop when you’re heading in or out on Metro North.

5. The Cheese Counter at Fairway Market: If you don’t have the time to seek out a dedicated cheese store, hop on into a Fairway Market and hit up the Artisanal & Gourmet Cheese Counter. With over 600 types of cheeses available and classes to boot, the Fairway Cheese Counter can certainly hold its own against an actual cheese store.

6. Vitner Wine Market [dying to try]: Along with everything else on the menu here, the cheese plates sound out of this world. [Hey Cow Plate with Brie, Teleggio, Raclette and Aged Gouda ... I'm coming for you.]

And that’s it for the cheeses, my friends. My last ‘In NYC’ category [which I will justbarely squeak out while we're still actually living in NYC] will be Shop In NYC.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Farewells All Around at The Kimberly Hotel

Last night I ticked another rooftop bar off my NYC bucket list with two friends who I needed to say goodbye to before we leave. The place was The Kimberly, and the rooftop of the hotel is an enclosed bar (although I think during nice weather it’s actually open) with a fantastic (on a normal day without fog) view of the Chrysler building and midtown Manhattan. It’s expensive for the cocktails ($18), but the beers are $8 (which is par for the course in midtown, pretty much), and the guacamole and fries were pretty tasty, too.

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Kimberly_2^^ These ladies are pretty much the best. See that glow-ey building in the back? That’s the Chrysler, in all her foggy glory.

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I’d recommend checking out The Kimberly Hotel rooftop if you’re in the midtown area — it’s definitely worth at least a pit stop.

Back in the Borough: Take Awesome Photographs in NYC

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Hi friends,

So I haven’t updated this series in a while, have I? With our days in this amazing city numbered, I wanted to make sure that I got through the last three categories I had mapped out, so welcome to today’s tour — the best places (in my humble opinion) to take photographs in NYC.

So without further ado …

Where to Take Great Photos in NYC

1. Top of the Rock: It’s touristy for a reason, my friends. While the Empire State Building is a nostalgic must for many visitors, if you hit up the Top of the Rock you’ll be able to actually take photos of the Empire State Building — along with the rest of the city.

100_0332^^ Psst … look familiar? This is the photo I used for the header for this entire series, so, yeah, you know it’s gotta be good ;)

2. The Boat Basin/Hudson River PromenadeIf the river’s more your thing, walk yourself on over to The Boat Basin for some beers, and while you’re over there take a stroll down the Hudson River Promenade (which is especially gorgeous in the spring when the trees are blooming).

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3. The Staten Island Ferry: A quick ride on the Staten Island Ferry is an easy way to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty … without all the horrible lines.

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4. Madison Square Park [for Flatiron and Empire State Views]: The park in and of itself is quite lovely (and often full of art and sculptures from local artists), but it’s also the perfect spot to take stunning photos with either the Flatiron or Empire State Building in the background.

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5. Pier 25: Two summers ago now, a friend of mine rented a sail boat for her now-husband’s 30th birthday, and Chris and I were just lucky participants on that trip around the NYC harbor. We set sail from Pier 25, though, and let me tell you — the view was some kind of special.

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6. Dying to try: ManhattanhengeFriends, I’ve had the best of intentions for many years now to catch this yearly Manhattan phenomenon. Alas — it was never meant to be. Manhattanhenge — so coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson, “occurs when the setting sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid.” If you’re lucky enough to be here during one of the two times a year that this happens, get thyself to a good vantage point (clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them), and bring your camera!

_DSC1363^^ Our sad attempt to capture Manhattenhenge last year. You foiled me that time, clouds, but trust me, one of these years I will get my amazing photo!

And those are them, my friends — six great places to take photos in Manhattan.

See ya next time for … drum roll, please … the best places to score cheese in NYC. (We take our cheese very seriously here, friends.)

Bis bald!

Back in the Borough: Making the Most of Final Weekends

I’m not gonna lie friends — as our weekends slowly whittle down during our last full month living here in the city, it seems like every single thing we decide to do is important. That’s why I’m pretty happy with our weekend choices from last weekend, if I do say so myself.

To start off Saturday, we had to break in some new hiking boots we bought for our trek up Machu Picchu, so we decided to do that with a heart-pounding, rock-climbing hike up Breakneck Ridge, which is where we went for my 30th birthday, ummmm, a few years ago :/

Anyway, Saturday was a glorious day for a hike, and here’s a bit of what we saw:

 

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Needless to say, our shoes are more than broken in after that hike. You can take a bunch of different trails on Breakneck, but we chose the same one we did for my birthday, which is about 3 miles and includes a whole lot of rocks to climb, and a whole lot of spectacular views.

After working up a sweat that morning (way more exercise than I’m used to, friends), I was beyond excited for our dinner plans at The Monkey Bar with some of Chris’s family friends who are in town visiting from Australia. It had been my suggestion (of course), and I couldn’t wait to go there again. We had made the reservations online, and when we arrived were a bit sad to realize that the main dining room was closed, and we were seated in the bar area. It turned out okay, though, because the piano player started about halfway through our dinner (and was fantastic), and afterwards we asked the manager if we could take a stroll through the main dining room to check out the painting that lines the back wall. Not only did he oblige, but he handed over a smaller depiction of the painting that contained a key for who everyone in the painting is.

So we spent a couple minutes walking around the entire length of the room, checking out the painting. This was much closer than I got to it last time we were here!

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Monkey_Bar10^^ Look at that tiny monkey at the top of my dessert plate! I mean … come on now! (Ummm, also, look at this fantastic dessert. And it was fantastic, my friends!)

After dinner we decided to stop off somewhere for a nightcap, and here, my friends, is where living in Manhattan really comes in handy. Because every now and then you might say, “Hey, how about a nightcap at that cute place we passed on the way to dinner with the jockeys outside,” and stumble into some place with so much history, just accidentally.

So the place we ended up, the pace with the jockeys outside, was actually the 21 Club. It was only fitting that we ended up here after dinner at The Monkey Bar (what with its own prohibition era history and folklore), because the 21 Club has plenty of its own amazing facts to tout. According to their website, ” ’21’ has never been a private members club. Even in the dangerous days of American Prohibition, the front door was always open to the public, although it’s fair to say that certain ‘guests’ wouldn’t be welcome. 

A receptionist or ‘screener’ would be employed to keep certain characters out, including gangsters (most notably John Thomas ‘Legs’ Diamond, who wanted a cut of the business) and federal agents (at least until prohibition was repealed in December 1933).”

Apparently the place has a disappearing bar from when they used to need to hide the booze at a moment’s notice, and it’s also been featured in more NYC movies than any other restaurant, including All About Eve, Sweet Smell of Success, Written on the Wind, Wall Street, One Fine Day, The Associate, Sex and the City, The Apprentice and Rear Window.

There are some pretty amazing facts about the place here, as well, my favorite being about the eclectic collection of toys that hang from the ceiling in the dining area. Apparently they started out as an ego contest. The first was a model plane from British Airways, which they hung over the table to impress investors. When Howard Hughes was dining there it caught his eye, and he insisted the place hang one of his planes as well. And so began the bragging-via-toys contest. These days the collection includes a model PT-109 boat from President Kennedy, a baseball bat from Willie Mays, a pool cue from the set of The Hustler, an Air Force One flyer from President Clinton, ice skates from Dorothy Hamill and a tennis racquet from Chris Evert.

According to the site, the staff dusts each of the 1,000 pieces on a regular basis, treating them as priceless antiques which, I guess you could say they are.

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So Saturday was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect, old-school New York night. Exactly the kind of night I would like to have as we begin to wind down our time here. (And I begin to start crying every single day. Seriously. Don’t even get me started.)

Sunday we started what I’m sure will be a heart-tugging, emotional round of farewells to friends throughout the next couple of weeks. We met up with one of my best friends from high school and her (brand new!) husband for brunch at The Smith in the East Village.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Anyway, this week I’m doing some traveling in New Mexico, and I’m really excited to share all that information here soon, as well. But for now, bis bald, my friends! I’ll be back soon …

My Personal Ode to New York City

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Well, Chris gave his notice last week, and I’ve told all my freelance clients as well — we’ll be taking the months of November and December to travel, then we’re moving to Denver at the beginning of January.

I haven’t thought this much about Manhattan since I was a naïve college freshman, majoring in journalism and dreaming of the day I would move into my own tiny little apartment anywhere I could afford in this amazing city, working my way up through the ranks at the magazine of my dreams.

Of course now that we’re moving away, all that I can think about is how I got here, and what a wild ride it’s been since.

My Manhattan chapter never involved most of the things I originally thought it would. The dingy, shoebox sized basement apartment. Unemployment. The vast debt and, in some cases, even vaster loneliness. My Manhattan story started out as a light at the end of the tunnel. After a particularly difficult breakup – which culminated with my moving back in with my parents in New Jersey for a period of eight months at the ripe old age of 23 — I was eager to take the first thing that came along if it would start me on the life I knew I was meant to live – the one that was waiting for me in Manhattan.

Instead of a dingy basement apartment, though, the first offer that came along was a humongous (by New York standards) bedroom in a converted 3-bedroom apartment in an elevator, doorman building in the Upper East Side — with laundry in the basement, to boot.

I remember the day I met Alexis – the girl who would become one of my first Manhattan roommates – in Bryant Park. I had just come from my internship at Jane, which I loved, and the stop to meet her was right along my route back to the Port Authority along 42nd Street to catch the bus back to my parents’ house. Alexis wore soccer shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt, and I was immediately at ease. “I can do this,” I remember thinking. “I can move back in with roommates after having lived with only my parents and my ex-boyfriend for the past two years.

And I can do it in Manhattan, too.”

Maura and Alexis were great roommates. We got along, were friendly enough and were always cognoscente of each other’s personal time and space. We were never rude or disrespectful … everything was just fine. My room in Normandy Court was so large that it basically fit most of the worldly possessions I had up to that point, and what I was missing, Maura and Alexis had provided for the apartment, having already lived there for two years before I arrived.

From the September I moved into Normandy in 2007 until the April I moved out in 2008, my Manhattan life was moving along exactly as I would have expected it to. My two best friends from college also lived in Manhattan, and having Alexis and Maura as roommates – girls who I genuinely liked – curbed any of that loneliness I had heard about and prepared for. I had moved on from being a not-at-all-paid intern at Jane to a not-so-well-paid freelance editorial assistant at another magazine, and then on again to an ever-so-slightly-better-paid on-staff EA at another magazine, and that was just as it should be. Because I’m a bit of a freak and there’s nothing I love more than budgeting, I made it work (with the help of a little bit of credit card debt in the process, of course).

Then, when I was least expecting it (and to be honest, not really exactly wanting it), I met Chris. In the most spectacular of New York fashions, I met an adorable Australian on New Years Eve at a gypsy punk band concert who was leaving to live in Canada in two weeks.

After we remained together the entire time Chris was gone (naturally), and he moved back to the states to accept the full-time job his internship had offered him and to continue our relationship (obviously), it was time to leave Normandy Court – the place that was my first official home in Manhattan – and find a place to live together.

I searched all over this island – midtown, the West Village, Chelsea, etc. — and settled on the second-to-last apartment I saw, one that happened to be only one block from my former residence at Normandy. That one-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up between 2nd and 3rd Avenue would become our home for the next six years. It’s where we adopted our first pet together – a rabbit named Nugget – and then our second, a cat named Penny.

It’s where we lived when we got engaged five years later, and then married. It’s the apartment where we took wedding photos, had our first arguments, discussed our future and talked about having babies. It’s the apartment where I went through another magazine job, then an online editor job, until finally settling on fulltime freelance writing, and where Chris moved up the ranks at three different advertising companies.

We turned 30 living in the apartment, bought our first Christmas trees together in this apartment and celebrated our one-year anniversary here.

This apartment. This one-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up apartment.

And this Manhattan. My Manhattan. I became an adult here. I founded my career here. Met the love of my life here. Got married here. I’ve cried here. Gone into debt here. Become financially savvy here. I’ve made oh so many amazing, wonderful friends – friends that I more than a little bit worry that I’ll lose when we move.

But this place, for all its laundry list of amazingness, has taken a lot out of me, as well. It’s exhausting living here. And I’m tired of schlepping heavy bags with me every single time we’re traveling (which is a lot). And I’m tired of overpaying for our (albeit well-loved) one-bedroom apartment. I’m tired of subway rides and crowded everywhere. I’m tired of the humanity, the concrete, the sweltering, airless summers.

Slowly, one by one, those amazing, wonderful friends who I met here are all starting to move away, as well. Of course many still remain, but for some, growing up and becoming a real adult means leaving behind those not-yet-fully-formed dreams we all had of living in Manhattan. I’m not sure if I ever thought that I’d live here forever – but I sure as hell always knew that my life would have a Manhattan chapter. Coming up on 32, though, as friends all start to marry off and buy houses and have babies, I have to wonder: “Can I accomplish everything I want to in life here in Manhattan?”

Saving money for future goals (house, kids, travel) has slowly become a game of randomly picking and choosing when we can actually enjoy this city and go out and spend time in it. Sure, there’s a lot to do that’s free, but there’s also a heck of a lot more to do that’s not.

I’ve loved my time here even more than I think my naïve college freshman self could have imagined. Living in New York means so many things – and you do become a bit hardened after being here for seven years. To me, it all boils down to one thing: Do I want to wait until my Manhattan memories become something I resent? Isn’t it better to go out on a high note, feeling like you took absolutely everything you could from this place that you love – and that you gave back just as good as you got?

Writing this essay right now, staring out at my fire escape watching the goings-on on the street below, I’m not so sure anymore.

What I know I’m happy about is the fact that our new apartment – wherever that may end up being – will contain so many artifacts from our life here in New York City, both outright and subtle.

  • The kitchen gear that I picked up when I worked as an assistant to the food editor at a magazine.
  • The huge pop art, close-up photo of myself and Chris that was brought to me by a company during a deskside meeting at one of the magazines where I worked.
  • The old-timey map of the five boroughs that Chris and I found at a vintage store in Saratoga Springs.
  • The ‘New York City Walking Tours’ tourist cards that were left here by Chris’s parents after one particular visit – along with all their other ‘Must Do in New York’ memorabilia.
  • The Christmas tree ornaments purchased at the Bryant Park holiday booths.
  • The plants we picked up at the Home Depot on 58th St. and somehow managed to keep alive.
  • The New York Post I kept from the first time Obama was elected as President.
  • The gorgeous chair I bought from the Pier 1 that used to exist on 3rd and 87th, that I carried all the way home by myself.

I’ll take less tangible things with me, as well, the memories that, as long as I write them down, will hopefully never fade. Things like …

  • The first time I saw a movie in Manhattan. I don’t remember which movie it was, but I remember the theater – a huge one in midtown, and I went with my college roommate, who also lives here. I remember feeling so grown-up, and so exhilarated, from that most mundane of activities.
  • Walking to my subway station for the first time after moving here, dressed in a skimpy dress and little black heels for a night out on the town, and the homeless man cat-calling to me from a nearby bench.
  • Going to the expensive, all-natural grocery store near Normandy Court the first time I needed groceries after I moved in because it was the first one I saw, when all along there was a Gristedes literally in the basement of our building.
  • Getting yelled at by a fellow resident of Normandy Court the day I moved in, all because I went back to check on my boxes when I realized I was leaving them in an unguarded area. He followed me down the hall like a deranged person, yelling, “What do you think, I’m going to steal them!? Maybe you don’t belong here in New York City!” I laughed at him and kept on walking, until the doorman told him to leave.
  • Spending every day possible in the city with a high school friend the summer before I moved here, traipsing from bar to bar in SOHO, making friends with bar tenders and flirting with boys.
  • Standing in the longest line I had ever seen in Central Park for a chance to see a free Vampire Weekend concert with Chris, and getting caught in torrential rain while doing so, the concert blaring in the background. We never made it in.
  • Running my first half marathon in Central Park – two hill-filled laps around it – and all of the hours of training I put in with friends in the months before.
  • Performing an entire month of jury duty here — enough said.
  • Volunteering in Harlem for a months-long afterschool literacy program, and becoming seriously attached to my “little”.
  • Coming back from an office outing in the Hamptons and watching from the bus as cops pulled a cyclist out from under a car that had hit him. He may or may not have died in that accident, and I’ll never forget being stuck in that traffic, watching the tragedy play out.
  • Attending a black tie charity fundraiser event at the Marriott Marque in Times Square and being so embarrassed that I couldn’t afford to donate more than $20 to the cause at the time … but feeling fabulous in my little black dress at the same time.
  • Celebrating a friend’s birthday with a trip to the Museum of Natural History for their once a month Friday night dance party – an event for which we paid $25 of our meager EA salaries – and then getting so drunk at her apartment before we even left that we stayed for five minutes, caught a taxi back to her place and spent the rest of the night taking turns throwing up our vodka Sprites and $25 sushi dinners.
  • Zesty’s, oh Zesty’s. The most amazing little pizza place that used to live on the corner of 95th and 3rd. Many a drunken night my friends and I would stumble in there, ordering the pasta pizza (you can do that when you’re 24) to soak up whatever the drink of choice had been for that night. Then later, watching as Zesty’s was the first of every single business on 3rd Ave between 95th and 94th St. to be put out of business by the building owner so he could build (yet another) high-rise apartment complex there.
  • The Indian food restaurant that used to live on the corner of our street, which was ranked a D for cleanliness and that I’m pretty sure gave me food poisoning.
  • The day Chris and I got married at City Hall, taking our wedding photos in the City Hall building, and on the steps of the building across the street that everyone thinks is City Hall but isn’t. Taking pictures in front of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and in Madison Square Park. In Grand Central and the Highline and Central Park. Our cranky driver, who had no idea he was meant to drive us around all day on New Year’s Eve while we took photos. Eating our first dinner as a married couple at the restaurant at The Standard, and staying in one of their corner rooms that first night, surrounded by windows and the fading city lights, watching the Empire State Building put on quite the little light show at midnight.
  • My first real date with Chris, wherein I was so nervous before he showed up to my apartment, not quite remembering anything in particular about him from the drunken, hazy night before, when we had met. Him showing up, adorable, handing me a six-pack of Corona he had bought at Zesty’s because you don’t show up empty handed. Deciding to go for a walk to find some place to eat – then walking down 3rd Ave. all the way into the 50s from the 90s, not finding anywhere – or not wanting to stop talking to bother looking – and turning back up on Lexington and ending back at my place, where we ordered Chinese food and chatted with my roommate Alexis about her experience abroad in Australia.
  • The man who threw up in front of me on the train, and the man who peed in front of me at the subway entrance the very next day. The young girl having a seizure on the train, the man in a business suit who fainted, the homeless man with no legs who roams up and down on the floor of the subway cars, miraculously, begging for money.
  • The way our subway stop is lined with Christmas trees to purchase every December, all December long, and picking one out each year for our place, the size of the tree growing in proportion to our salaries.
  • Taking the subway into Grand Central when I worked in midtown, and entering my building which was directly across the street from the Chrysler building. Then later, taking subways to Astor Place, Union Square and finally, Bleecker Street, as my jobs all brought me farther and farther downtown, but never away from my beloved – if overcrowded and perpetually stalled – 6 train.
  • Walking to and from my apartment at Normandy to my job on 42nd and Lexington as many days as I could – a straight 2.8-mile walk there and 2.8 miles back.

What it all boils down to is if moving does turn out to all be a big mistake, I think I have enough memories to last me for a lifetime.

Because Manhattan – you will always have just a little piece of my heart.

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Back in the Borough: An Epic New York Weekend

Hi friends,

So besides the helicopter tour Chris and I took on Friday (which I talked about yesterday), we also purchased Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets to check out the amazing Garry Winogrand exhibit (if you’re in town before Sept. 21, you should seriously check it out!) on Saturday, as well as The Cloisters on Sunday. (Tickets to the Met also get you free admission to The Cloisters in the same week.)

I’ve been jonesing to see the Winogrand exhibit since I read about it in New York Magazine about a month ago, and checking out The Cloisters (which is located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan — kind of a pain to get to) has been on Chris’s Manhattan bucket list for a while so, you know … two birds with one stone ;)

The Met is one of my all-time favorite places (it’s a very close second to The Museum of Natural History), and The Cloisters turned out to be totally interesting and beautiful. So it was a good NYC weekend, my friends. A very good one, indeed.

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photo 21^^ Views from The Cloister’s terrace were spectacular.

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photo 14^^ The garden with all the medieval herbs and flowers was definitely my favorite part of the visit.

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Photo 6^^ The walk from the subway to The Cloisters is actually quite steep, so visitors beware — don’t wear heels!

photo 5^^ Saturday after The Met we stopped off at the Third Avenue Ale House and then Kaia Wine Bar, both in our neighborhood. At the Ale House we asked to sample some of the beers, and they came in these adorable teeny, tiny little beer mugs. How could we not take a photo?!

And a few from The Met:

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Bis bald, my friends! I hope everyone had a swell weekend, as well!

 

Back in the Borough: A Helicopter Tour High Above NYC

Hi friends,

So Chris and I finally cashed in on an amazing wedding present from one of Chris’s friends in Australia — a helicopter ride high above this beautiful city. We booked with HeliNY Tours (which is pretty pricey at more than $300 for two people, but totally worth it, in my opinion).

Here’s a bit of what we saw …

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It was, without a doubt, one of the most fun experiences I’ve had since living in good ole’s NYC.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: When Old Friends Come to Visit

Hi friends,

So I just had one of my dearest friends come to visit me in NYC, and oh the fun we had. She was here from Friday through Tuesday, and because she used to live here, there was none of that usual pressure of checking out all the touristy spots or rushing around to do as much as possible. Instead, we could pick and chose which activities meant the most to us, and isn’t that just always the best way to do things?

Anyway, I miss her a ton, and I was going through some of the photos I took while she was here and thought I’d post them to share a bit of what we did since, you know, I thought it was so much fun ;)

Just some food for thought!

01Me_and_Lise^^ I met Lisa at Penn Station on Friday (I was coming back to the city from my parents’ in Jersey, she was coming from Virginia), and before we even dropped our bags off at home we stopped at Blockheads, an amazing Mexican restaurant with even more amazing drinks called Bulldogs. (Tiny Coronas mixed in with Margaritas — yum.) Anyway the combination of Bulldogs and the beer we drank when we did finally make it back to my apartment may or may not have contributed to the silliness of this photo.

02Refinery_Rooftop^^ Granted this isn’t the best photo, but the next night we met some friends for drinks at the Refinery Rooftop, which is a pretty lovely little spot in midtown to grab a quick drink.

03Times_Square^^ After drinks we walked over to Times Square to catch a play …

04Our_Youth^^ Which was This is Our Youth, with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, now in previews at the Cort Theater.
05Me_and_Lise2^^ While we had every intention of walking the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday to meet up with friends at their apartment on the other side, we were lazy for the first half of the morning, and instead ended up grabbing a cab …

06Brooklyn_Bridge^^ And taking photos out of the window of the back seat.

07Empire_View^^ After dinner at El Cantinero in Union Square, we walked down to Washington Square Park and caught a glimpse at the Empire State gleaming in the background through the Washington Square Arches.

08Fountain_View^^ And we sat by the water fountain.
09Me_and_Lise3^^ And we took selfies.

10Hudson_River^^ The next day we walked all the way from my apartment on the Upper East Side to the Hudson River all the way as far as  you can go on the West Side.

11Boat_Basin^^ Which is where the Boat Basin is, a cute little outdoor cafe that sits right overlooking the water.

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And that, as they say, was that, my friends. You know — in case you’re looking for ideas for when your own bestie comes to visit you in NYC ;)

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: The Mansfield Hotel and Long Walks Home

Hey friends,

With all that’s been going on this summer, I haven’t had a lot of time to just wander around NYC. Last night, though, I met a friend for drinks at The Mansfield Hotel bar (aptly named M Bar) in midtown (drinks here are expensive, but the atmosphere is laid back and subdued, which can be really nice (and hard to find) in the hubbub of midtown. If you do find yourself here, you simply must try Violet’s Blue Martini with fresh blueberries and pineapple juice. To die for.)

Anyway, the bar is on 44th, and as I started walking to the subway I thought … why not walk home? I haven’t done that in forever, and the night was cool and breezy after the rain, so I just went ahead and did it, my friends.

And you know what? It was lovely.

Public_Library^^ Even on a wet and dreary day, the New York Public Library is still the most lovely.

Pretty_Buildings^^ If this photo doesn’t scream New York — with its lights, tall buildings and taxi cab — then I don’t know what does.

Radio_City^^ If you squint really hard, you can see the red Radio City lights shining away in the background.

Rainy_Sky

Rockefeller_Center^^Rockefeller Center, in all its glory.

St_Patricks^^ It’s kinda hard to tell from this photo, but St. Patrick’s Cathedral is getting a massive facelift.

Street_Vendor^^ I have an unhealthy obsession with street vendors — particularly of the large pretzel variety ;)

54th_St^^ 54th Street ya’ll! Only 40 more blocks to go!

Sky_Clock^^ I couldn’t tell you why, but I think there’s something eerily beautiful about this photo …

Birdcage_Women^^ Birdcage women? Interesting display.

Fall_Clothes^^ Anyone else as purely ecstatic about the fall weather clothing making its way to window displays? No? That’s just me? Okay then.

Okay friends. Well I promise to be back at some point to talk more about Gallow Green, the rooftop garden where we celebrated my sister’s engagement last weekend. It’s seriously a sight to be seen.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: A Sunday Visit to Gotham West Market

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend! Chris and I spent the holiday watching soccer, celebrating good friends at their wedding in the West Village and checking out Gotham West Market, which I have been wanting to visit for a while now.

photo 1^^Our first stop was Ivan Raman Slurp Shop for some ramen noodles.

photo 2^^I had the veggie noodles and Chris got the Tokyo Shio with pork belly.  Both were super delish.

photo 3

photo 4^^ After lunch we moved on to El Colmado for some wine on their outdoor bar stools.

photo 5

photo 6

photo 7^^Finally, at Cannibal we took advantage of their 3 o’clock happy hour to grab some beer and cocktails. It was the perfect ending to the day.

photo 8^^ Except that I wasn’t done yet, because I had to grab some ice cream from Jeni’s. A triple scoop with three different flavors. Do not come all the way out to Gotham West Market (which is pretty far out of the way if you live where we do) without picking up some ice cream. This alone would have made the trip worth it.

photo 9^^ We had some time to kill before 3 o’clock happy hour at Cannibal, so we walked the two blocks over to the Hudson to partake in the view — which includes the Intrepid.

photo 10^^ A seriously true sentiment.

photo 11^^ Kayaks, just waiting to see the light of day.

photo 12^^ This guys was teaching paddle board lessons to a small group of people. I could not partake in this activity, even if I wanted to.

photo 13

And that was about it, my friends! A very good 4th of July weekend, indeed. Next weekend I’m off to Atlantic City for one of two bachelorette parties there this summer, then it’s on to Rehobeth Beach for a week with the family directly from AC.

Bis bald, friends — and happy July!

 

Back in the Borough: Grab Some Sweets in NYC

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Welcome, friends, to the delectable part of my Weary Wanderer ‘In NYC’ Guide that is ‘Grab Some Sweets in NYC’! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate sweets — and even more so in the summer, for some reason. There’s just something about the warmer weather that says fro yo and candy in the park to me.

Anyway, there are a lot of places to get your sweet on in NYC, but I’ve compiled a list of my six all-time favorites here, along with one ‘must try ASAP’ option. So, without further ado … you no longer have an excuse for not sugaring up when you’re visiting Manhattan.

Where to Grab Some Sweets in NYC

  1. Baked by Melissa for cupcakes: Sure, you could hit up Crumbs for the most gigantic cupcakes of your life that will totally spoil your dinner and, trust me, there is a time and a place for that — but on any given day, you can hop on into a Baked by Melissa shop and eat multiple of the most delectable, delightful, teeny tiny cupcakes you’ve ever had in your life. I mean, July’s ‘Mini of the Month’ (how adorable is it that they call them that?) is the Root Beer Float cupcake. Ummm … ’nuff said.
  2. Dylan’s Candy Bar for candy: There isn’t one stinkin’ stankin’ thing that I don’t love about Dylan’s Candy Bar. (Well, maybe the prices, but hey, it’s Manhattan.) OHMGEE you guys. Back in my days as a staffer at magazines, I used to attend events on the top floor of this candy wondershop, and I always hopped at the chance to go. The decor is adorable. They have every candy option under the sun — I mean, they even do Candy Cocktails. For candy, Dylan’s can’t be beat. [Oh and by the way, "Dylan" of Dylan's Candy Bar is Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph, inspirer of all your little kid candy-covered dreams -- so that's cool.]
  3. Corner Cafe & Bakery for cake: Okay you guys, I’m not gonna lie — this is a bit of a shout out to a neighborhood joint. I’ll admit it — Corner Cafe & Bakery holds a special place in my heart. This little cafe is in my neighborhood [on the corner of 3rd and 92nd, to be exact], and many, many, many a night I have walked home past an appropriate bedtime [sorry, Mom and Dad], past this tiny little bakery, to the sweet smells of the night staff making all those delicious treats fresh for the morning. Plus, this is pretty much where we get our birthday cakes every single year. They’re kinda the best. [They make a mean Chai Latte, too!]
  4. Tasti D-Lite for frozen yogurt: Frozen yogurt is kind of a huge thing in the city, my friends, I’m not sure if you know that. But while the 16 Handles and Red Mango’s and Pinkberry’s of the world are trying to inch their way in, I’m still a Tasti D kinda gal all the way. There used to be one on our block — the kind that only served three variations — chocolate, vanilla and a flavor of the week. But it’s closed, and now I have to, sadly, walk all the way to 86th street, to a much larger Tasti D with many, many more options (phooey) to get my fix. The best frozen yogurt is a very personal thing to Manhattanites — but if you want this girl’s opinion, I’ve tried ‘em all, and you can’t go wrong with the classic D-Lite.
  5. Li-Lac Chocolates in Grand Central Market for chocolate: When a place has been around, in NYC, since 1923, you just know it’s got to be great. Li-Lac is conveniently located in the Grand Central Market, just perfect for picking up a delicious little chocolate treat in between tourist stops at the Chrysler Building and Bryant Park. Go on … you know you want to.
  6. Macaron Parlour for Macarons: Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese. Elvis. Honey & Cognac. S’Mores. Oh, Macaron Parlour … you just get me. Located in the East Village [which is so fun], and conveniently next to the Hummus Place [which I adore], the Macaron Parlour is the perfect place to stop in for a sweet treat in NYC — although I dare you to try eating just one macaron. I maintain that this is a physically impossible feat.
  7. Dying to try: Levain BakeryThe Levain Bakery seems to have everything I love and more: from cookies and baguettes to brioche, sticky buns and apple bread. I want it, I need it, gimme, gimme gimme! Levain is most definitely on my dying to try list.

And that’s it, friends! If this list doesn’t get you sufficiently sugared up, well I just don’t know what will. Up next on my ‘In NYC’ list … amazing places for photographs in NYC.

Bis bald friends — and to all, a happy Independence Day!

 

Back in the Borough: Caffeine Up in NYC

NYCBackground_Caffeine-Up

Happy Thursday, my friends! Today I’m talking about something that is near and dear to my heart — awesome places to caffeine up in NYC. I absolutely love a good cup of coffee, and a bad cup of coffee just makes me so, so sad. I’ve scoured this great city of mine for awesome spots to grab some coffee [and tea!], and this list, I think, is sure to make any caffeine addict happy.

So drink up, my friends!

Where to Caffeine Up in NYC

  1. Alice’s Tea Cup for tea:  Herbal. White. Red. Organic. Green. Black. Name a tea, and Alice’s is sure to have it. Tea arrives in your own personal tea pot, and be sure to throw in an amazing scone with your drink for good measure. [P.S. There are three Alice's locations in the city: one in midtown, one in the UES and one in the UWS, so you know, it's pretty convenient.]
  2. Cafe Mocha for lattes and cappuccinos:  Chris and I hit up Cafe Mocha after seeing STOMP at the beginning of this year, and it quickly became one of my faves. This East Village gem is charming around the holidays with its cute little twinkle lights, and the cappuccinos are fantastic. If you happen to be hungry, as well, try a tasty crepe — they come in so many varieties, you’re sure to find one you like.
  3. The Palm Court at The Plaza for the atmosphere: About two years ago now, Chris’s parents were visiting from Australia and had a hankering to try out the fancy tea service at The Palm Court in The Plaza hotel. If you’re looking for a place where you can wear your fanciest duds and sip on extravagant teas [extravagant in both presentation and price], then this is the place for you.
  4. Dean & Deluca for convenience: Felicity may have made it famous for kids my age, but Dean & Deluca has been delighting caffeine lovers in NYC since 1977. With locations in the Rockefeller Center Plaza, SOHO market and the Madison Market and Espresso Bar, this is truly a busy tourists coffee dream come true.
  5. Crumbs for a quick, tasty to-go option: Although Crumbs is mostly famous for its insanely humongous cupcake options, I personally have found the coffee there to be mighty tasty as well.
  6. Dying to try: Stumptown: I’m hearing good buzz about Stumptown, my friends, but I’ve not yet been able to try it for myself. If anyone’s been, I’d love to hear how it compares!

So that’s my caffeine list, my friends, I hope it helps! Next up on my NYC tour — amazing places to grab some sweet treats!

Bis bald!

 

 

Back in the Borough: Bee-Bop in NYC

NYCBackground_Bee_Bop

I’m back today with a guide to fun (and somewhat funky, I’ll admit) places to listen to music in NYC. Of course there are plenty of concert halls and traditional places to catch your favorite band, but again, I’ve gone for a bit of the unconventional here. Some of these places offer live music as a backdrop, for others it’s the main event, but either way, listening to music at any of these “venues” will definitely give you something to talk about the next day.

Where to Listen to Music in NYC

  1. The Subways: One of the most amazing things about this place is that music is absolutely everywhere. You don’t always have to pay for it — you don’t even always have to want it! — but it’s there, all the same. The subways here are seriously alive with the sounds of music. From solo singers to Mariachi to 10-piece bands, you might be surprised with the talent you’ll be subjected to just when trying to get from one place to another. If you’re seeking out the music, try some of the big stops like Grand Central, Union Square and Times Square. Those are always happening.
  2. Terminal 5: This place is also somewhat sentimental for me and Chris [as was The Highline on my 'Things to Do in NYC' list] since it’s where we met and got engaged, and it’s also the only traditional music venue I’m putting on my list. Besides the amazing artists that perform here [we've seen Gogol Bordello, La Reux, The Gaslight Anthem and many others], they also have a fabulous rooftop where they sometimes throw parties or sponsor events. I particularly love the open floor plan of this place, and the two levels make it really easy to get a good spot to watch all the action.
  3. Fat Cat: Oh how we love Fat Cat. Come to this awesome little bar in the West Village to play some pool, scrabble or ping pong, drink some PBR (it’s so cheap!), and listen to some really amazing jazz music.  Plush couches and chairs make this venue so comfy, too.
  4. Philharmonic in the Park: Of course you could listen to the Philharmonic play on a stage … but where’s the fun in that? This event is seasonal, of course, as it takes place only a couple times of year, outside, under the stars in Central Park (and a few other parks in other boroughs). If you’re visiting during the summer, I highly recommend looking up the schedule for performances (found here), and grabbing a picnic to camp out on the lawn and listen. It’s an experience like no other. [Read more about our own experience with Philharmonic in the Park last year right here.]
  5. Cafe Wha: In Greenwich Village there sits a small and dark little venue called Cafe Wha … that is absolutely amazing. I have to admit that we haven’t been back here for years — maybe since Chris’s sister was here a couple years ago because she absolutely loves it. If you’d like to check this place out, you might consider calling ahead of time and making reservations, because it gets pretty packed. [Also of note: this place and Terminal 5 are the only places on my list so far that charge.] Another thing to keep in mind — this isn’t a place you come to chat. It can get pretty noisy once the band starts playing, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something to provide a more low-key atmosphere.
  6. STOMP at the Orpheum Theater: Okay — if my other options here are somewhat unorthodox, this one takes the cake. Technically, STOMP is so much more than music — it’s performance art. The theater is located in the East Village [you may recall, Chris and I took in a performance as part of our one-year anniversary celebration], and the performers act out the entire “story” using props like trash cans, brooms, mops, etc. It’s honestly pretty amazing, and totally worth seeing. The things they can make shopping carts do — I can’t even use a shopping cart properly when I’m not trying to make music with it!
  7. Dying to try: Jazz StandardIt’s not that I’m totally in love with jazz or anything, but this city has such a rich history of it [and Carrie and Big make it look so fun on that Sex in the City episode!], I’d really love to try out a jazz place — and this one looks amazing. They’ve got two earlier sets — one at 7:30 and one at 9:30 — and then a later one for the real jazz fans that starts around 11:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out the site ahead of time to buy tickets.

And that about sums it up, my friends — my list of amazing places to take in some music here in the city. Hope it helps! Up next week: some of my favorite places to caffeine up!

Bis bald, all!

Back in the Borough: Do in NYC

NYCBackground_Do

Welcome to the third installment of my Things to Do in NYC series. This time I’m comin’ at ya with a list of some of my favorite activities in NYC. You don’t have to be a tourist to love these things — Chris and I partake in most of them on the regular, even though we live here.

There’s really no limit to the number of things you can do in this city, and this list is maybe a bit unconventional. I didn’t include things like taking in a Broadway show (always worth it) or visiting the Empire State Building (an ancient tradition). Some of these things might take some planning, and a couple of them are seasonal, but to accomplish some or most of the things here will, I promise, make you one very happy person.

What to Do in NYC

  1. Bike in Central Park: Whether you rent your bikes from one of the many stores available near the bottom entrance of the park, or just pick up a couple of Citi Bikes, biking through the park will still allow you access to some of the most beautiful areas of CP (although be cognoscente of the areas where you are supposed to walk your bike, and not ride it),  and it might just save you a little bit of time in the process. Be warned, though — biking around the outer loop of Central Park is not all fun and games. There are some pretty tough hills to tackle, my friends, especially in the northernmost  section of the park (otherwise known as the Harlem hills). Don’t be embarrassed if you have to get off your bike and walk it up in this area … I certainly did.
  2. Walk The High Line: The High Line will always hold a special place in my heart, since Chris and I stayed at The Standard Hotel overlooking The High Line the first night that we were married. But even without a sentimental reason to visit, The High Line is still pretty amazing. This public park is actually built on a set of old freight rail lines elevated above the city on the West side. It’s free to enter, and there are tons of snack and drink vendors along the walk. There’s also a fun seated section with a huge window overlooking the street where you can sit and watch the cars drive by as if from right underneath you.  After you’ve walked The High Line, stop off at the The Standard Biergarten for some drinks and pretzels [my fave!]. Another warning for you: this place gets packed, so if at all possible, I would make your High Line walk as early as possible, so that your visit to the Beer Garden is on the earlier side, as well. [Check their hours to see what suits your schedule.]
  3. Watch Shakespeare in the Park:  So this activity definitely takes some planning, but if done correctly, it can really be a spectacular day. The hardest part about this suggestion will be actually getting the tickets for admission. There is an online ticket lottery, but the chances of actually getting tickets this way are slim-to-none. In my opinion, your best bet is to camp out for them — and camping out is half the fun! As you may recall, I did this one day last summer with a friend [and I'm hoping to do it again this summer], so I won’t go into a ton more detail here.  You have to get there super early  [I'm talkin' 4:30 a.m. early] to even have a shot at getting the tickets, but you can camp out and read, and local restaurants send out delivery men to take food and drink orders, and park performers stop by and serenade you while you wait — it’s all part of the experience. Tickets are handed out at noon [they're free!], and the performances start around 6, so after you get your tickets you have the whole afternoon free before you have to come back for the performance. [Perhaps a nap will be in the cards?!]
  4. Visit DUMBO: Brooklyn has its own set of fun adventures to partake in, so I’m only going to include this one thing here, since visiting the DUMBO [which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass] section of Brooklyn provides you with the most amazing view of Manhattan, as well as access to a ton of other activities, like pop-up pools in the summer, Jane’s Carousel for the kids, lots of shops and restaurants and ice cream, etc. Check out more about DUMBO in this post that I wrote about my visit there last year.
  5. Ice skate in Bryant Park: If you know me at all, you’ll know that ice skating in Bryant Park is absolutely one of my favorite pasttimes. [So much so that my husband's first ever Christmas gift to me was a pair of skates and a lock specifically to use for the lockers at Bryant Park.] Anyway, it’s not just the skating rink at Bryant Park that makes it so special, it’s the entire Winter Village. The pop-up shops surrounding the rink provide the most festive ambiance for a late-night skate, and they play old-timey music and you can stop by Celcius afterwards for a hot toddy. The rink usually opens in November and closes around February (although the shops close right after the holidays), so that’s plenty of opportunity to dust off the old skates and go for a twirl! Skating is free here if you bring your own ice skates and lock.
  6. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I mean … enough said, right?
  7. Dying to Try: A Visit to The Cloisters: A visit here is definitely on our NY to-do list. The Cloisters are technically a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although they’re actually located in Fort Tyron Park (check out directions here). I’ve heard that the grounds are beautiful, and the extension is used to exhibit the museum’s collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe. Pretty cool.

So those should keep you busy for a while! Up next: Bee-boppin’ around NYC. [AKA, the best places to listen to some music!]

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Drink in NYC

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Hi friends — welcome to the second installation of my ‘Things to do in NYC’ series. Today I’ll be taking on an uber-important category … drinking. We tend to do a lot of going out where drinks are involved. When you’re hanging out with friends, when you have people in town, when you’re celebrating something — all of these occasions tend to lend themselves to the drink.

Does that sound bad?

Anyway, Chris and I love a good classy cocktail as much as we love beer as much as we can get behind a tasty glass of wine. Essentially, we’re not picky. When it comes to places to grab a drink, though, well that’s a different story. A great place to kick back with a drink can be hard to find. And it doesn’t always have to be fancy — I love a good dive as much as the next guy. I’ve been taking mental notes throughout my past almost-seven years here, remembering those bars that seem great for certain occasions, and I’ve come up with a list that, I think, covers most of the bases.

Let’s see what you guys think.

Where to Drink in NYC

  1. The Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel for the trendy set: I’ve talked about the Ace Hotel bar on this blog before, but it’s worth repeating on this list. On any given night here you’ll see drag queens hangin’, actors still in costume from the plays they just finished performing chillen’, boys and girls canoodling on the comfy couches — just a whole bunch of really amazing stuff you can pretty much only find in Manhattan. Plus, the bartenders make a mean Mojito.
  2. Brooklyn Brewery for the hops lovers: Having been to the brewery a handful of times now, I can honestly say this is the place to go for a relaxing afternoon with your friends. While it’s a bit out in the middle of nowhere, and it can take some time to get there if you’re traveling from Manhattan, it’s worth the trek. The beer is delish, the atmosphere is festive, and you can order pizza from a nearby restaurant and get it delivered right to your table. There’s just something so fantastic about that.
  3. Little Town for a taste of New York state: NYC is relatively small, right? So there’s not a whole lot of room to brew our own beers here. The entire state, however, is quite large, and amazing little breweries have been popping up all over for some time now. You don’t have to travel the length of NY to try them out, though — Little Town will bring them directly to your table. The last time I was here I talked about the map on the wall, which points out all of the locations around the state from which they gather their brews, including places like Ithaca, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton. It doesn’t hurt that their appetizers are amazing, as well.
  4. The Raines Law Room for an old-school feel: If sophisticated swilling of fine, fancy cocktails is what you’re looking for, look no farther than The Raines Law Room. Knock on the front door and see if you’ll even be allowed in — fanciness comes with a bit of attitude, my friends. If you are indeed let in, you’ll find that It’s dark, quiet and comfy with all of their soft, plush couches. And there’s no rushing the bar, here, either — just click the hidden buzzer at your couch and the waitress comes to you. Now that’s service.
  5. 2nd Floor on Clinton for speakeasy seekers: Another hidden gem (you have to walk to the back of a raging Mexican restaurant and politely ask the bouncer at the back stairs if you can go up), 2nd Floor on Clinton is the polar opposite of what you’ll find downstairs. Decorated as if you’re at home in a good friend’s apartments, you’ll find fireplaces and dim lighting, small tables, comfy chairs and couches and quiet music. The cocktails here are pretty $$, but they’re delicious, and I would highly recommend ordering the chocolates infused with different liquors.
  6. The Campbell Apartment for classy convenience: Let’s say you’re in midtown, and you’d like to grab some drinks, but you’d rather not head into a dive bar or spend hours trying to find a place that’s good and not crazy expensive. The Campbell Apartment is conveniently located right inside Grand Central Station, and their cocktails are cool and sophisticated (if also somewhat $$). There’s a dress code here, though, so if you walk in off the street in your jeans you may feel a bit out of place.
  7. Refinery Rooftop for the view: One of my favorite things about New York is rising above it. You’d be amazed the difference you’ll feel after a 10 second elevator ride brings you from concrete jungle to awe-inspiring vistas. The Refinery Rooftop is a new find for us (friends just recently brought us there earlier in the spring), but it’s bound to be a go-to place over the summer, especially when we have visitors.
  8. The Guthrie Inn for Manhattan lovers: This suggestion comes to you from the hubs, who prides himself on trying out Manhattans at every single bar we go to. He’s had ‘em at every single bar on this list, as well as countless others, and he swears, my friends, that in his expert opinion, The Guthrie Inn is the place to go for a slammin’ Manhattan in its namesake city. To be honest, this bar is a bit of a hole in the wall, and at Park and 97th St., it’s pretty out of the way of anything touristy — but the drinks make it worth it!
  9. Dying to try: The Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar at the Met: The rooftop at the Met can get pretty insanely crowded, as I’m sure you’ll imagine, so we have yet to brave the visit. Still, I’m hoping to hit up this hot spot during the early evening in the near future when I have a friend in town … I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Bis bald, friends! Next up on our tour around NYC — DO in NYC!

Back in the Borough: Where the Characters Are

Hi friends,

The other weekend when Chris’s uncle was visiting we took a little stroll through Times Square, and the characters were seriously on display. I mean, everywhere we turned, someone was in costume. So of course, I started snapping away:

photo 2^^ Look closely to the left and right of this photo and you’ll see Mickey and Minnie.
Mickey kept checking his phone, which I thought was hilarious.

photo 3^^ Wonder Woman!

photo 4^^ Batman!

photo 5^^ Elvis was taking a rest.

photo 6^^ I have no idea who this is. Flash? Iron Man? Who knows.

photo 1^^ This Golden Man got on the subway with me at Times Square
and got off at Grand Central. I love those two ladies on the left
trying to sneak a peak!

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: A Trip to the New 9/11 Memorial

Hi friends,

So today’s post is somber, to say the least. This past weekend when Chris’s uncle was in town, we decided to head over the new 9/11 Memorial, which had just opened the weekend before. We purchased our tickets ahead of time online, so we got to skip the lines, which was great.

I’ll start by saying I had mixed feelings about visiting. I didn’t necessarily know what to expect or how to prepare for it. Of course September 11 is never far from any American’s (and especially any New Yorker’s) mind, but to be confronted with it so full-on — I just didn’t know how I’d react.

The museum is laid out in a pretty open format, with timelines and some personal stories and a video on how the memorial was made, along with other odds and ends, scattered about. The guts of the memorial, though, lies in a separate showroom that you line up to get into. A sign outside warns that images may be too scary or sad for kids under 10, and they aren’t kidding — the images were too sad for me at points.

The memorial to the actual day (and the aftermath and lead up to the attacks and to the victims … this section goes on and on and on) doesn’t allow photography, but any and everything you can think of that might have to do with 9/11 — it’s here, in this showcase. Voicemails left on family member’s phones from people who were on the doomed flight that crashed in Pittsburgh. The police and fire dispatch from the day. Recordings of firsthand accounts from both First Responders and survivors from both of the towers. Photo after photo after photo of the destruction.

To be honest, at times it was too much, and I had to pause to catch my breathe.

We spent the better part of three hours here, and still I can’t say I saw everything they had on display.

World_Trade5^^ The very first thing you’ll see when you come in is this flight map showing
the trajectories of all of the planes, along with a quick timeline.

World_Trade6^^I realize this photo is dark and blurry, but I just thought it was so poignant
that I caught the revolving quotes from survivors and victim’s family members
on one that captures the entire event so completely:
“I couldn’t wrap my head around how anyone could do this.”

World_Trade7^^ This touched me perhaps the most out of everything I saw. The quote in and of itself
is powerful, and the blue stickies, each a slightly different shade, are artists’ renderings
of what they remembered the color of the sky to be from that day.
Remains from unidentified victims lie behind the wall.

World_Trade8

World_Trade2^^ Outside, two beautiful waterfalls are surrounded
by the names of those who lost their lives that day.

World_Trade4^^ When we left, the sun was just setting, and mixed with the skyscraper buildings
and the clouds in the sky, I don’t know … whether you believe in a God
or not, I think we all can agree that the friends and family
who lost loved ones all deserve something to hold on to.

 

Back in the Borough: Eat in NYC

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Welcome, my friends, to a new series I’ve decided to start! (A few of my fave bloggers have been doing similar things lately, so I decided to steal the idea from them and make it my own.) For the next few weeks I’ll be using a couple of different posts to share some of my absolute favorite places in this beautiful city with all of you. Whether it’s food, drinks, activities, shopping — I’ve got you covered.

Of course no NYC guide can be that comprehensive. This September will be my 7-year anniversary calling myself a Manhattan-ite, and I feel that I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what this city has to offer.

Having said that, I’ll give it my best shot! Today we’ll be starting with EAT in NYC. So enjoy — and if you’re ever in town, please feel free to stop by some of these places because, in my humble opinion, they’re pretty stinkin’ awesome.

Where to Eat in NYC

  1. Jane Restaurant for brunch: Head to this SOHO gem super early, because day-um she gets packed! But for good reason, though — this place is seriously amazing. The Sunday brunch comes with your choice of one free complimentary cocktail, and their vanilla bean french toast is to-die-for.
  2. Eataly for lunch: A trip to Eataly is as much about the people watching and ambiance as it is about the food … but the food is not to be missed! If you can tear yourself away from everything that’s happening in the store (pastas and truffles and meats … oh my!), pick from the nine different restaurant options [we've only made it to La Piazza so far, but I hear Birreria, the rooftop restaurant and brewery, is pretty amazing as well] to relax and have a lovely glass of lunch wine. Who doesn’t love that?
  3. The Fig & Olive for a simple dinner: If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll adore the Fig & Olive. They bring a sampling of olive oils and breads to your table before your meal, and the food is so pretty, you almost won’t want to eat it.
  4. Monkey Bar for a fancy dinner out: I’ve waxed poetic about this place before, so I won’t bother you again except to say that if you’re looking for some place so old-school Manhattan you’ll feel like you’re back in a black-and-white noir film, this is the place for you. [And the food's fantastic as well!]
  5. Jacob’s Pickles for Southern food: Sometimes a gal just has to have a big ole’ plate of biscuits and grits, and while Jacob’s Pickles is relatively new to our list of haunts, it definitely fills the void that’s been missing in my diet since I left college in Virginia. You might come for the comfort food, but you’ll stay for the pickle sampler plate — at least I do! [Just call me a Southern Bell! Actually no, please don't do that.]
  6. Landmarc at Columbus Circle for the view: Forget the food (the food’s fine, really, but that’s not actually what matters) — you’ll be too busy looking out the window. The floor to ceiling windows overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park will keep you occupied for hours … you might even forget to order.
  7. Dying to try: Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: I’ve read about it. I’ve seen Instagram photo after Instagram photo of it. Now, I just need to try it. With dozens upon dozens upon dozens of vendors, this Brooklyn Flea Food Market seems like it has a food option for every taste. [I'm particularly interested in Blue Marble Ice Cream and Noodle Lane ... I would like to try those, please.]
  8. Pizza and bagels: I know what you all are thinking. I can hear you all right now. “What the hell kind of NYC eats list is this without pizza and bagels?!” Well I left ‘em off on purpose kids, I left ‘em off on purpose. The thing is, every single New Yorker, if you were to ask her, will tell you her own favorite bagel and pizza place. Of course I could point you down the traditional, touristy route ["Hey, have you tried H&H Bagels ... so good!" "That slice of pizza from Grimaldi's was killer!"], but I just can’t stomach it. Instead, I’m going to be honest — both my favorite pizza in New York City ever and my favorite bagels in New York City ever are (or I should say were) right here in my neighborhood, probably because they’re easy and I’ve eaten them the most. The bagel place we frequent doesn’t actually appear to have gotten good reviews lately [it's like our own hair band in the soup incident from Seinfeld — "Paco must be cooking!" Only true die-hard Seinfeld fans will probably get that], and Zesty’s Pizza, I tip my hat to you. This delightfully delicious pizza parlor lived on the corner of 95th and 3rd for six of my seven years here, only to have recently been shut down by a very ugly building owner who wants to turn that whole block into a high-rise condo [as if we need any more of those]. I’m still in mourning, and I haven’t found a good pizza substitution since. Sorry if those categories are so lame, my friends, but what can I say … them’s the breaks.

Bis bald, my friends! I hope you all have fun weekend plans — and get excited, because DRINK in NYC is up next!

Back in the Borough: Baby’s First Baseball Game (and More Memorial Day Shenanigans)

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! We spent it giving the apartment a seriously thorough cleaning (we’re talking moving the couch, picking up the living room carpet to vacuum under it cleaning …), visiting with Chris’s uncle who’s in from Australia, watching a Mets double-header with said uncle, our nephew (his first baseball game!), my sister and bro-in-law, and having a picnic/strolling around Central Park.

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photo 3^^ When you bring a one-year-old to a baseball game, there’s not a lot of baseball watching happening.
There was a lot of crawling around on the floor and pushing toy trucks and trains around … and it was the best ;)

photo 4^^ Not going to be interested in baseball any time soon, I don’t think.

photo 5^^ Chris’s uncle is visiting from Australia — wahoo!

photo 6

photo 7^^ My shoes are Mets colors — that’s how die-hard of a fan I am.
(Actually, it’s a coincidence, but a fun one nonetheless.)

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photo 9

photo 10

photo 11^^ Happy Memorial Day! Love, The Turtles from Turtle Pond

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photo 14^^ Obligatory selfie on the rocks near the lake.

Our crazy, busy summer hasn’t quite kicked in yet, and it was really nice to spend a couple days lazing around the city. She sure is a beaut.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Rainy Night Drinks at the Dream Hotel

Happy Tuesday friends — I hope everyone had a smashing weekend. On Friday Chris and I cashed in on a Travelzoo voucher for six drinks (Say what?! That’s a lotta drinks!) at the midtown location of the Dream Hotel. (According to Chris they have a lovely penthouse bar with awesome views of Times Square. This was not for that particular bar. It was for the bar — aptly named The Bar – attached to the ground floor of the hotel.)

Still, six drinks for $30? I’ll take it! It was a rainy, foggy night, which was kind of fun to be out in. So you just know  I snapped some shots, right?

01TheBar_Drinks^^ We tried so many drinks on their menu. The first one I ordered
came with that little tumbler, which made me feel very special.

Cab_Catching^^ Catching a cab in the city on a rainy night is next to impossible.
The teeth really come out in these situations.

Foggy_Night

Glasses_Graphic

Star_Burst

Wells_FargoWagon^^ You guys, it’s the actual Wells Fargo wagon! I saw this and had to take a photo,
and then of course the song was stuck in my head the rest of the night. Ah well, what can you do.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: A Happenstance Stroll Through the Park

Hello from gorgeous Colorado, my friends!

Today we’re in Boulder. Tomorrow it’s on to Breckenridge for a night, then Denver for our last final few days. I can’t wait to blog all about it, but right now, though, I want to talk about something else. It’s a little something I like to call fate, my friends, and it involves a fateful walk through Central Park that I had last Friday.

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I love when unplanned strolls through NYC turn into something a little extraordinary. This past Friday, an attempt to meet a friend and her son at Turtle Pond in Central Park turned into just that. After having gotten off at the wrong subway stop, I ended up needing to backtrack through Central Park for about 15 blocks to get to them.

But the day was a glorious spring one [and though the clouds threatened rain, it never actually did rain. Fate ;)], and I ended up walking right through what I truly think is one of the most amazing parts of the park.

Here’s a little bit of what I saw …

photo 1 (69)

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photo 2 (72)

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photo 3 (65)^^ How beautiful is this area of the park, where the trees overlap to create a canopy? Gorgeous.

photo 3 (66)

photo 4 (57)^^ How funky is this tree?!

photo 4 (58)

photo 5 (52)^^ Loved these school kids, performing beautiful songs both out loud and in sign language.

First_Egg^^And of course, there were the eggs! The Faberge eggs that were part of The Faberge Big Egg Hunt —
I finally found some!

Mouse_Egg^^ I adore this mouse one! So cute!

Not pictured: All the adorable little kids running around, the tons of canoe-goers near the Boathouse and the proposal that I saw near the Bethesda Fountain.

All in all, friends, I’d say fate brought me to the wrong subway station stop that Friday afternoon so I could take in the wonderfulness of the park that day.

Or else it was just my bad direction. Either way — it was fun all the same.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the (Different) Borough: A Night in Carroll Gardens & Gowanus

Hi friends,

This past Saturday Chris and I met up with some friends in their neck of the woods — Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn — for some whiskey tasting at Char No. 4, followed by some shuffleboard at the new Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus.

So the whiskey first. Char No. 4 is this cute little whiskey bar and restaurant. According to the site:

“The name refers to the practice of aging bourbon in charred new oak barrels, which gives bourbon its characteristic sweet, caramelized flavors and its beautiful amber hue. Char No. 4 features over 150 American whiskeys and serves a menu of American fare with a focus on smoked meat. The American whiskeys are augmented by an extensive list of whiskeys from Europe and beyond as well as a selection of all-bourbon cocktails.”

You can check their events page for updates on their whiskey tastings (they also have soft shell crab Wednesdays in June, Barbecue nights in July and Rye revival classes, among others).

Whiskey_Tasting

Our whiskey class was about $40 per person, and it included four different types of whiskeys (see above), as well as three different appetizers (deviled eggs, a delicious fried cheese and some sort of meat nugget which I obviously couldn’t eat).

So I’ll let you in on a little secret — I don’t particularly love whiskey ;) And having a tasting didn’t really change that. But it was fun to do it, and it was really interesting to learn about the history and how it’s made and all that. Overall, I would highly recommend this little outing — it’s perfect for group get togethers and dates alike.

After loading up on whiskey we took the short walk from Carroll Gardens over the Gowanus Canal into Gowanus, an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood with not too much going on — except for this brand new Royal Palms Shuffleboard bar. It literally opened about 3 weeks ago, which is why the owner still cares enough at this point to come outside and address the growing line of would-be patrons. They don’t want a line simply to make the place “look cool,” he assured us. It’s just that the fire department says they’re only allowed to have 300 people inside at one time — and he’s really afraid of the fire department.

We only waited about 10 minutes though, and inside was a gamers dream. Shuffleboard (at a price of $40 per hour — which isn’t too bad when split between four people), Connect Four, cards and other games await, along with a seafood food truck, cozy cabanas and beer.

And not for nothing, but this place is a huge warehouse, and the 300 people or less fire code keeps it super airy and spacious, meaning there was absolutely no bumping into people or sloppiness, no long lines at the women’s restroom — basically just the way I like my bars!

Bar

Card_Playing

^^ We plopped ourselves at a shuffleboard-side table and played cards and
drank some beer while waiting for our turn to play shuffleboard.
Maybe the popularity of this place will die down eventually, but for now,
in its newness splendor, it took us about 2.5 hours to get to our turn.

Flag_Wall

Royal_PalmsFloor

Shuffle_Board2

^^ Shuffleboard courts run the length of the middle of the warehouse. So fun to watch!

I wasn’t sure we’d be able to wait long enough to finally get to play, but we occupied our time with the seafood food truck, as well.

Lobster_Menu

Lobster_Roll

^^We grabbed a lobster roll, shrimp role, cole slaw and some bags of chips
from the Red Hook Lobster food truck (which is located inside the bar).
Holy cow they were so. delicious! 

RedHook_Food_Truck

After stuffing our faces with seafood and playing cards for 2.5 hours, we finally had our shot at shuffleboard.

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Shuffle_Board3

Shuffle_Board4

Shuffle_Board5

Shuffleboard_Rules

^^ The owner came over to give us the rules ahead of playing.
We played boys against girls, and although the boys tried to
hide the evidence, this happened …

We_Win
 ^^ Ummm, 43 – 96 = the girls beating the boys — awahooo!!!

I mean, it would have been an awesome night without the win … but it certainly didn’t hurt ;)

Bis bald, friends! If you happen to be in the area, get thee to Char No. 4 for some whiskey and to the Royal Palms for some shuffleboard afterwards. It makes for a lovely Saturday night.

Life Lately: Late Feb 2014 Edition

Two months down in this new year of ours, my friends — unbelievable!

Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in our neck of the woods …

Iceland_Views

^^ The views in Iceland were astonishing.

Hut_Climb

^^ Climbing the fish hut to take photos in Iceland.

Northern_Lights

^^ Chasing the Northern Lights

WAter_Fall

^^ The Gullfoss Waterfall.

Geysir_Iceland

^^ Watching geysirs (that’s how they spell it in Iceland) erupt.

Grand_Central

^^ Walking through Grand Central to the subway after our Valentine’s Day drinks at The Campbell Apartment.

Central_Park_Snow

^^ How much did I love this man and his dog in snowy Central Park?

Toy_Fair

^^ I checked out the annual Toy Fair at the Javits Center for a story I was writing.
It’s so much fun seeing all the new toys for the year!

Penny_the_Cat

^^ This face. Kills me every time.

Shrimp_N_Grits

^^ Shrimp and grits for dinner, inspired by our brunch at East End Kitchen,
which serves shrimp and grits as well, but they’re pre-made
with bacon so I couldn’t have them. Our take was better ;)

Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone’s having an amazing year so far! I’ll be heading to Marathon Key with a friend for my birthday in a few weeks. With the winter we’ve been having, I could definitely go for a little bit of sun, that’s for sure.