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!

The 52 Project: August 11

_DSC6004^^ Well friends, this summer has been a lesson in ups and downs, highs and lows, happy and sad. Saturday, though, was a decidedly happy day when my little sister and her awesome boyfriend got engaged! A huge shout-out to Brian for inviting us all along to surprise Steph. Brian popped the question on The High Line, then we headed over to the Gallow Green rooftop garden  at The McKittrick Hotel for a bottomless, boozy brunch (more on this later) and then to American Whiskey to keep the celebration going. I seriously cannot believe my baby sister is engaged, and she couldn’t have picked a better guy ;) Congrats you two, we love you!

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The 52 Project: July 28

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^^ A shot of the gorgeous room from the wedding we attended on Saturday at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn. The cocktail hour had no less than 10 stations with fresh cheeses and meats, pastas, veggies, seafood and much more. The entree menu offered six meal options and the Venetian hour has about a dozen dessert tables with everything from popcorn, cookies, snow cones and fondue to omelets, a sundae bar, cotton candy and a cannoli table.  This, my friends, is how the Italians in Brooklyn celebrate a marriage, and I’m happy to be a part of it ;)

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The 52 Project: July 21

Seafood_Night^^So this past weekend was a whirlwind of crap that I won’t go into detail on, but let’s just say the week that preceded it was pretty awesome. I was down in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with about 30-40 family members, and this photo is just one of many I took during our Seafood Night extravaganza. It’s tradition for us to do one night where everyone gathers at one house and eats all the seafood we can stuff into our faces. Blue crabs. Lobster. Oysters on the Half Shell. Steamed Clams and Clams on the Half Shell. Shrimp. Chicken. Steak. Corn. I mean really — it’s an extravaganza. YUM!

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The 52 Project: July 14

Alexis_Borgata^^I spent last weekend in Atlantic City, at the Borgata Water Club, to celebrate my friend Alexis’s upcoming wedding. It was a blast. Then I drove straight from Atlantic City to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware for a week of vacation with the family, so I’ll probably be a bit MIA this week. Plenty to updates to come next week, my friends. Bis bald!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

 

Life Recently: The Early Summer Edition

Welcome to summer, my friends! June seriously flew by, and the weather is now officially, ridiculously hot, and our intense, no-free-weekends couple of months has begun. I’m not complaining, though — we’ve got a lot of pretty amazing plans set up with some pretty amazing friends, so it should all be a great time.

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately, courtesy of my iPhone.

photo 1^^ I just loved in this relationship how it was the muscle man’s responsibility to walk the teeny, tiny dog. Gotta love that!

photo 2^^ I know, I know — I’ve officially reached creepy status by taking photos of people when they don’t know I’m doing it. But come on! How stinkin’ cute is this couple canoodling on the East River Promenade?!

Aunt_Stephie^^ The fun never ends with a 15-month old.

photo 3^^ This man sure does love his dog.

photo 4^^ Working from mom’s porch doesn’t suck.

photo 5^^ We hit up the Newburgh Brewing Company for a belated Father’s Day celebration for my stepdad. I really love that this place has brought craft brewing to little ole’ Newburgh. [I blogged a bit about them here, too.]

photo 6^^ Wednesday night is Trivia Night at the Newburgh Brewing Company, and we were not good! Did you know Blossom is going into syndication in July?! [We didn't -- we got that question wrong.]

photo 7^^ Happy belated Father’s Day, Robert!

Lake2^^ This was our backyard view from the lake house we rented for my college roommate’s bachelorette party. Not too shabby!

photo 8^^ We headed back to Warwick Valley Winery on Saturday to celebrate my parents’ anniversary and Christmas. (Yup, Christmas. It was our gift to Steph and Brian to treat them to a winery day.)

photo 9^^ Chris got into an argument with some wild turkeys. The turkeys won.

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_DSC5820^^ How insanely adorable is this little cafe in the town of Phoenicia, New York, where Chris took me to see the Otter Falls?

I think it’s safe to say the summer is off with a bang! Hope you guys are having an awesome, fabulous time with lots of entertainment planned ;)

A Day Trip to Phoenicia and Otter Falls

This past Sunday, Chris took me on a little day trip to Phoenicia, New York [which is about an hour away from where my mom lives in Newburgh] and then to Otter Falls, where he and a bunch of his friends run a relay every year.

But first, we stopped for pancakes at Sweet Sue’s Restaurant, which has a 24 Zagat rating for food and a seriously slammin’ menu of pancake options.

_DSC5808^^ Gotta love a town that puts on a rubber duckie race.
(And clearly reuses the sign year after year — so economical!)

_DSC5809^^ That’s a pretty spectacular backdrop for the Phoenicia Pharmacy, if I do say so myself.

_DSC5810^^ Cute little, awesome Sweet Sue’s Restaurant.

_DSC5811^^ Holy pancake menu!

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_DSC5814^^ These were my — wait for it — carrot. cake. pancakes.
With cream cheese sauce. ‘Nuff said.

_DSC5815^^ Chris went the savory route and got fresh corn cakes — equally delish.

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_DSC5819^^ As of 2014, Phoenicia was home to 299 residents. I seriously love that.

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_DSC5822^^ Mystery spot indeed.

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_DSC5829^^ This eagle originated in Grand Central.
Here’s how it ended up in Phoenicia.

After loading up on pancakes, we headed to Otter Falls, which is about a 20-minute drive from Phoenicia. Here’s what the Hudson Valley Visit Vortex has to say about this swimming hole:

Located on state land, a small, but adventurous, side trail leads to the spectacular falls cascading down about 30 feet to a large deep basin measuring about 20 to 30 feet in diameter with a center depth between 6 and 8 feet. With recent rains it should be like a giant, cold-water Jacuzzi, say the locals. Otter Falls is only about a half-mile from the popular Giant Ledge trail parking area, making it an excellent stop after a hot, sweaty hike. Sundown, lat=42.0314, lon=-74.4201

Directions: From I-87, get off at Exit 19, Kingston exit, RT 28. Go northwest on RT 28 about 25 miles to Phoenicia. Then:To get here from RT 28 in Phoenicia: Continue west on Rt 28 through Shandaken to Big Indian. Turn south (left) on RT 47 (set odometer) and go about 6.6 miles to a telephone pole with mile post #167 1/2 on it. Other things to look for are the state land signs (the yellow ones with the DEC logo). This state land is the only State land on the west side of Route 47 in Big Indian Valley. (If you come to the “hairpin turn”, an extremely sharp right hand turn, on RT 47, you have gone about .5 mile too far.)

To find it after you park, you walk along the highway and search for the tree with the 111A 167 1/2 numbers on it [which was my 'Photo of the Day' photo from yesterday]. It’s a pretty fun, secluded little spot — definitely worth checking out.

_DSC5840^^ It’s only about 500 meters from the highway to the waterfall so,
you know, my kind of hike!

_DSC5842^^ Ooooohhhh — pretty!

_DSC5858^^ I kept this photo because that black and white blur at the bottom right of the photo is a butterfly that was buzzing all around me. I snapped this one shot quickly, not hopeful to actually capture the little booger, and this is what I got. I kinda love it.

_DSC5859^^ We played around in the water leading into the waterfall for a bit.
And when I say “we”, I mean “Chris”.

 And that’s about it, ya’ll! I’d highly recommend a trip to the water hole on a hot summer day — nothing beats it.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Caffeine Up in NYC

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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

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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

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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!

Happy Early Father’s Day — NYC Style!

Hey friends,

As I mentioned yesterday, my dad and stepmom came into the city this past Saturday for a little early Father’s Day celebration. We had an epic day. We started at our favorite local Upper East Side brunch place, Uptown,  then took them for a tour of pretty much all of Central Park. We started at Engineer’s Gate and hit up Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond and the Belvedere Castle, as well as the Brambles, the Bethesda Fountain, the Boathouse, Conservation Waters, the Reservoir, the Great Lawn , Shakespeare Garden and the Alice In Wonderland statue.

Phew!

We topped off the tour with rooftop drinks at the Met, which has about the most amazing view of Manhattan I’ve seen yet. [Top of the Rock is pretty amazing as well ... but this was a close second.]

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^^ From the top of Belvedere Castle.

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^^ A birds-eye view of the Great Lawn.

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^^ That structure over to the right of this photo is Delacorte Theater,
where they put on Shakespeare in the Park productions.

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^^ Tiny Judy, down in the bottom right of the photo. I love this one ;)

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 ^^ Sweeping skyline views from the Met rooftop bar and cafe.

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^^ Happy Father’s  Day everyone!

 

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!

Life Recently: Early June Edition

Hi friends,

So … it’s June? How the heck did that happen?! We’ve been having a lot of fun at baseball games, with friends and family visiting, etc., etc. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately, courtesy of my iPhone.

photo 1

photo 2^^ Some of the prettiest things in Grand Central are only visible when you look up.

photo 3^^ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Bryant Park is my favorite.

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6

photo 7^^ These adorable little kids were competing against each other in chess. Can you say smarties?

photo 8^^ Sections of Times Square are now closed off to traffic for the summer.
It’s only slightly more bearable this way.

photo 9^^ FIrst iced coffee of the season for Sheral.
[That's not how you spell my name ;)]


photo 10^^ NYC: The only place in the world where you’ll see
a cab, a car and a horse-drawn buggy lined up like they’re about to race.

photo 11^^ Poor horses — you make my heart hurt.

photo 12^^ Ahh! It’s a Christmas lights murder!

photo 13^^ I simply love this brownstone-lined street right next to ours. Swoon.

Bis bald, friends! Here’s to summer right around the corner!

 

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

NYCBackground_Eat

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!