What to do in NYC this weekend

Wondering what to get into this weekend? Here’s some suggestions running the gamut from costly to free, and brainy to brain-numbing. The one thing they all have in common though is fun. Here’s to making the first weekend of Spring an awesome one! But first things first… Go see Garbage at Terminal 5 tonight. I’ll be there!

-Get your 90’s on at the New Museum

This exhibition that I’ll be visiting ASAP focuses on 1993 and the art that came from that oh so 90’s year.

-Eat at the new Num Pang

One of my fav spots now has a whole sit-down situation on 29th street. I recommend going with a ton of people so you can order as many types of their insanely delicious Vietnemese sammies as possible.

Hunker down in front of the tube for MTV’s Retro Real World Marathon.

Starting tonight, they’ll be playing the first season ever of the show, followed by the Vegas season on Saturday, and the legendary run in San Francisco on Sunday.

-Eat some Korean comfort food at Food Gallery 32

All options are good, but my fav is the Soon Dooboo tofu from the stall in the back left corner. And snack on a $2.50 kimchi bun from the front while you choose what to get.

soon tofu

-Check out Brandi Carlisle at Beacon Theatre

Pricey, but worth it.

-Take a dance fitness class at M Dance & Fitness

Pretend you’re in Slumdog Millionaire, Save the Last Dance, and the salsa scene of Center Stage all under one roof!

-Check out the Studio Museum of Harlem and it’s amazing flag

Bonus: There’s a GAP Outlet next door!

harlem flag

-Learn about condoms

Head on over to the Museum of Sex for what’s sure to be an eyeful… Of information… Don’t be gross.

-THEN head to Birch Coffee

Some of the most delicious brew you’ll ever drink plus your choice of boardgames are sure to bring things back down to PG.

-Get a cocktail at Murray Hill speakeasy, Middle Branch.

The drinks are spendy, but worth it! Feeling risky? Go with the Bartender’s Choice!

HAPPY WEEKEND-ING!

Ingredients for a perfect bridal shower

Start with a beautiful bride…

lomatt

Go to an amazing restaurant…

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Gather your favorite lady friends…

teambkshower

Put out some pretty flowers…

Eat a ton of yummy food and drink a good number of cocktails…

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Give a gift only this particular bride would appreciate…

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Send people off with a fun favor…

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And prepare for what comes later…

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Congrats Laura!! So excited for the wedding ūüôā

To check out Matt & Laura’s also perfect engagement party, click here!

Where to eat and drink in Harlem

A list of places that will make you go Brooklyn who? Downtown… why? Welcome to my favorite neighborhood spots.

TRUFA

You could go downtown to get the classic brunch you always dream of, or do it uptown at Trufa and only pay $8. Said brunch includes 2 eggs, homemade home fries, salad, and non-wonder bread toast. And after brunch, you could stay for lunch and dinner as well. Other perks include impeccable customer service, not having to fight anyone for a table or wait four thousand years to sit down, and a ton of other eating options in the event that eggs aren’t your thing. Those options include one of my favorite dinners, the portobello mushroom burger, which comes with hand cut fries (or a salad if you ask nicely) and again only totals $8. On that note, there are plenty of veggie-friendly options, which are a rarity in Harlem. The last thing I want to mention might seem small, but for me sealed the deal on Trufa. The first time I went there to get take out, it was one of those impossibly hot NYC nights where the humidity was tangible and 90 degrees would be a reprieve. Directly after placing my order, they offered me a glass of ice water while I waited. Like I said, small thing, but by taking care like that, they are sure to keep their customers coming back. Especially this one.

CHIPPED CUP

Coffee and sweets. That’s what you go to Chipped Cup for. Oh, and tea… and bagels… and a quiet place to work… and a place where you can sit on antique couches… and open mic nights… and to post up with a friend on a cold winter’s day… Okay, I guess there’s more than just the coffee and sweets. This is one of those coffee shops you can disappear in for hours and enjoy every second of your time. You’d never know you were above 14th street (or 114th street for that matter) by the decor and vibe, other than the fact that you have enough room to spin in a circle with your arms out and not hit anybody. Something I wouldn’t recommend doing with coffee in your hand. The prices are good as well, and when you order to stay, they use real china and mugs, which is always light years more pleasing than the standard paper cup. It’s also right next to Harlem Public, which means it’s a great first date stop in the event you decide to keep things going. And if you end up testing this theory out, obvi let me know how it goes.

TONALLI CAFE & BAR

tonalli

I literally just got back from eating at this pretty new spot from the same people that run the pretty old spot Picante. Tonalli has a full bar and a fully intriguing Italian-slanted menu that still has vestiges of it’s owner’s Latin food. For instance crabmeat avocado dumplings. So good! My hearts of palm/avocado/cucumber salad… overdressed but amazing! This place has some service kinks to work out, but the menu is A-okay! And the tables full of Harlem hipsters seemed to agree. Also, Little Mermaid was playing when I walked in, so consider me sold.

JIN RAMEN

*Featuring the great Anikka ūüôā

Authentic, delicious, ramen made with the stuff ramen’s supposed to be made from. For my longer love note to this noodle heaven¬†click here. Also, after you get your slurp on, keep the party going next door at¬†Chokolat¬†for incredible espresso and coffee creations. Their cupcakes are pretty darn good too.

HARLEM PUBLIC

Full disclosure, I haven’t had the chance to enjoy Harlem Public yet, but I did step foot in it once, and that along with countless good reviews from friends secured it’s spot on this list. Word to the wise: meeting for a quick drink on a Saturday night of one of the biggest football games ever doesn’t usually work out. That’s what happened to me. But in the three minutes I stood debating whether my friend and I should stay, I saw an amazing selection of beers and cocktails, a comfortable/cozy decor, and an S ton of people that beat me to the Harlem Public punch. I gotta go back there. Mostly because they have brunch now. Also, we all know my bias towards bars with the word “public” in their name. I rest my case.

COCCOLA

Eep! This is another place I haven’t been, but as soon as I heard about it I emailed all my Harlem friends and have gotten some pretty great feedback. That said, ¬†gourmet+pizza+Harlem leaves little margin for error. Trying this place out ASAP.

TANTO DULCE

Tanto Dulce was the first place I discovered in my old hood that had amazing, non-bodega coffee. They had something that can be pretty hard to find in Harlem, espresso. And while it was the coffee that brought me in, it was the food that kept me coming back. Their teeny-tiny six seat setup might skimp on eating space, but makes up for it in flavor and portions. Any pastry, especially the tres leche cake and chocolate¬†croissants, will hit that special part of your belly, and the sandwiches don’t disappoint either. The bread they use is out of this world, and in true bakery/cafe fashion, you can buy loaves of it to bring home. Another fun detail is the good college indie rock music that plays from an old boom box hidden under one of the booths. Just beware when getting a coffee to go because walking and enjoying a latte at the same time can get tricky for some people… Or maybe just me.

 

Honorable mentions go out to: Picante, La Condesa, and the best bodega ever, Nadal ūüôā

Katie Fisher Day

Something REALLY special is happening next week, and I urge each and every one of you to take part!

Poster

 

Comedian, actor, and all-around awesome dude Matt Fisher lost his sister last year, and has coined MARCH 12th as KATIE FISHER DAY in her honor. All Matt wants people to do, as stated on the official  KATIE FISHER DAY WEBSITE, is:

Step 1: Pick someone you love.

Step 2: Bake them cookies.

Step 3: Send those cookies.

It is that simple.

I 100% plan on participating and hope you all will too! And if you do, feel free to tweet pics at me and def share them on the official KATIE FISHER DAY WEBSITE at THIS LINK.

Happy baking!!

Stamp1

 

A night out in Chelsea

For everyone out there who likes to have drinks, dinner, and dessert all on the same block, this post is for you.

Last night I joined up with Andy and Stacilyn¬†for a two block Tour de Chelsea. We started for a quick drink at Jake’s Saloon on 23rd and 9th. It was quiet, full of wood paneling, and just what the doctor ordered. The actually Irish bartender poured a perfect pint of Guinness, which isn’t an easy find in the isle of Manhattan. (I think I just quoted Death Cab… Deal with it.)

Once sufficiently chilled out, we set off for the main attraction. After reading about Bombay Talkie on Serious Eats, I was left with three words looping endlessly in my brain. Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. And on our one block jaunt to the restaurant, there wasn’t time for too many saliva-inducing repetitions. While most places would seem toasty compared to the 20 degree winter night, when entering Bombay Talkie we were immediately struck by the restaurant’s warmth that was only partly due to the heating system.

The decor was dark and cozy. Tall booths against the etched wood wall allow for privacy, while a long banquet table on the other side would be perfect for a small party. There was also a bar area playing Bollywood films against a neon sign listing signature cocktails like “Truth is Beauty, “A New Phase of Life,” and “Love Story.” Or maybe they were just listing Taylor Swift songs… Regardless, romantic, serene, and inviting are all words that would fit the bill there.

bombayBut enough of that. Let’s talk about the food. Known (by me and maybe other people) for their homemade naan, we ordered the cilantro/red chili flake and onion/sesame ¬†seed options. To go with it, we got the cucumber raita, and the cool cucumber yogurt was the perfect balance to the spice of the bread. You’re gonna notice aside from Chelsea, the other theme for the night was carbs. And speaking of carbs, once we demolished the naan, it was time for the Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. (Which, FYI, is actually called Pulao)

To go along with the Pulao, we got the Biryani, the Baigan Bharta, and the Sukhi Harabara Beans. Each contained a palate boggling burst of flavor that was beyond comprehension and explanation. The dishes’ flavors were even more complex than their names. I feel like despite eating Indian food countless times, last night was the first time I ate Indian food. The combination of spices, texture, and freshness caused a blanket of silence to engulf the table. And believe me, the three of us have NEVER been at a loss for words. The green beans tasted like they had just come from the garden, the eggplant mixture had hints of the Middle Eastern food my dad raised me on, and while I didn’t try the Biryani (stupid vegetarianism), there wasn’t one speck of it left, so I guess it was alright.

bombaymenu

The meal ended and we were full. Full enough for the following exchange:

“Stacilyn: I never want to eat again, which would be bad cause I weigh 95 pounds…

Andy: My cankles weigh 95 pounds.”

So of course from there we took a walk across the street to Billy’s Bakery. The 50 steps totally counted as enough exercise to justify the yellow daisy/chocolate buttercream cupcake that followed. Simple, sweet, delicious. Billy’s always delivers.

billys

Next time you’re hanging out on 9th bt 21st and 23rd, I urge you to go to any of these three places. But if you have to choose just one, go to Bombay Talkie. Stat. And then get a cupcake while you’re at it… And then maybe a beer too… I’m not so good at this whole restraint thing.

Skinny Girl Problems

The holidays are over and as I sit here pretending this Fiber One 80 calorie, chocolate cereal is chilaquiles, I can’t help but think of the days when baby had a little more back. This newly skinny girl has gotten her eating back in control, but boy oh boy it hasn’t been easy. My date for all the work and family parties was a big ole hunk of cheese and now I’m paying for it. A few stomach aches and a tad bit more badonk later, this eating lockdown is necessary and totally sucky. Once you get a taste of the dark side, joining up with Luke and Obi Wan isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here now for you, 2013’s first batch of skinny girl problems.

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Going Veg- Let’s talk about wontons baby, let’s talk about tur-ur-key, let’s talk about all the good things and the meat things I can’t eat. My fling with vegetarianism started in high school. I was driving home from a shift at Panera Bread, listening to midnight Metallica on X103, when all of a sudden a flatbed truck carrying about ten million live chickens pulled up next to me. That was all it took. For the last bunch of years, I’ve been on and off the meat, but for the last 6 months, I’ve been pretty darn strict with it. This strigency is partly due to my soft spot for the am-nimals and partly due to the fact that Billie Joe Armstrong is a veg, but mostly due to how much my diet improves without meat. I feel light as a feather and eat a million times more produce. The only problem is…

I WANT TO EAT ALL THE BURGERS- Umami, Shake Shack, Corner Bistro, oh my! The things I would do for a burger right now would make my parents very un-proud. You meat-eating, non-dieters, don’t know how good you have it. I’m at the point where I want to throw in the towel and say eff it. They opened a Steak and Shake in NYC… Have I gone? NO. Why? Because I’m a stupid skinny girl now. This blows.

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I ruined pizza night- There I was last week crawling around on the floor with my nephews, when my sister suggested inviting over another kid and his mom for a pizza night. There were three parents, three kids, and one me. Out came the pizza menu for a classic midwest squares, not triangles, type of place, and I uttered the forbidden phrase, “Do they have any salads?” It was as if I had suggested serving hamburgers at a mosque. (Can’t stop thinking about burgers…) Everyone stared at me, and politely indulged my request, even though it was kind of a pain in the a-s-s. The salad I got ended up being a pile of spinach, a few strawberry slices, and the tiniest amount of feta cheese possible. OH AND IT COST NINE DOLLARS. It was a total ripoff, and totally not worth becoming the pizza night pariah. Lame.

I can’t be Lena Dunham’s body double anymore- I was all ready to dye my hair and everything, but the eight pounds overweight that she claims to be are eight pounds I don’t have anymore. And you never know, there may be a big roller skating scene on Girls where she needs a stand in cause maybe she can’t roller skate and I’ll be too skinny to be considered. This is clearly the biggest skinny girl problem of them all.

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Now it’s time for the necessary disclaimer that this is all (mostly) tongue in cheek. I’m loving my new skinny girl/healthy lifestyle and wouldn’t trade it for anything… except maybe losing eight more pounds. And a burger. Fingers crossed!

For more Skinny Girl Problems, click this link. I promise you won’t regret it.

PS- For the record, Lena Dunham has a hot bod. She is beautiful, and I’m not trying to imply otherwise. Hooray!

Where I want to eat (and drink) in 2013

The new year means trying out new restaurants, and now that the effects of drinking too much “iced tea” on NYE have left my body, this girl is ready to eat. I’m typing this, fork in hand, to share where I intend to stuff my face in 2013, and to prove that I’m a woman who doesn’t need all ten fingers to use a keyboard.

COCKTAIL BODEGA

205 Chrystie Street (LES)

It might be a little soon to talk cocktails, but these cocktails are blended with fresh fruit, so I think it’s okay. Organic Avenue meets the TGI Fridays app menu at this Lower East Side bar/restaurant, and I couldn’t be more intrigued. According to the restaurant’s website, they offer spiked juices and smoothies, and street food-inspired fare, all in the sunny upstairs cafe situation or their underground bar. I’m counting the minutes until I get to go to Cocktail Bodega, and not just because they have a Birthday Cake Smoothie… I swear.

BOB WHITE LUNCH AND SUPPER COUNTER

94 Avenue C (Alphabet City)

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and eat at all the old school diners and cafes which, in this situation, wouldn’t be old school cause I’d be eating at them in real time. But luckily I don’t have to wait on Biff and McFly to get their act together, and can just go to Bob White’s instead. Apparently, back in the day a lot of these small restaurants existed that offered seasonal food at an affordable price point, and that’s what they’re trying to replicate. Catfish, Black Eye Peas, Banana Pudding, and more populate Bob White’s menu along with other classics that are making me go deep into food fantasy mode. The best part is I could get all of the above for under $20. I think I’m in love.

EARL’S BEER AND CHEESE

1259 Park Avenue (UES)

Beer and cheese, lots and lots of cheese, is what I hope to find after taking the trip to Earl’s on the Upper (Upper) East Side. Despite being decorated to look like a hunter’s wilderness heaven, the food on Earl’s menu is far from what the camo-clad set would usually expect. The grilled cheese comes with pork belly, the tomato soup is made with sriracha, and the tacos are wrapped in scallion pancakes. I plan to set aside a whole day’s worth of hours (and calories) to indulge here and can’t wait to see their top hat wearing pig in person.

GEZUNTE BAGELS

121 W 19th Street (Chelsea)

My grandparents yelled “Gezunte” every time somebody in the family would sneeze or burp, so growing up, I heard this phrase a lot. That has nothing to do with this restaurant other than giving me the feeling that it holds some sense of home. Described as an “upscale kosher cafe” I’ve heard their bagels, cream cheeses, and Jewish food is some of the best around. ¬†Whether you go with the aforementioned treats, a pastry, coffee, salad, or soup, Gezunte Bagels provides tons of books to sit and enjoy while you’re sitting and enjoying your food.

MISSION CHINESE

154 Orchard Street (LES)

I never made it out to this go to spot in 2012 and refuse to rest until I get my tushy to Mission Chinese. So much has been written about New York’s newest best restaurant, so I’ll refer you to Adam Platt’s opinion, until I can write a post-meal review of my own.

Ramen Coast to Coast

I don’t mind the East Coast and West Coast beef, as long as that beef comes with noodles and broth. Some go for pho, some go for ramen, I go for both. Bottom line… if the people and places are right, give me some Asian soup and I’m right at home.¬†

Home is where your parents are, and when I visit my parents, eating at Janbo is a must. Phenomenal pho, seafood from the nearby Pacific, and each meal is ended with a complimentary cream puff. Sweet right?!

Now at my other home, with neighborhood pal, and super funny lady, Annika. That tofu was the best I’ve EVER eaten, and the broth was out of this world. Be sure to get the plum wine with soda. It has the taste of a spritzer without grandma implications.

Melt Shop

I started my career as a New Yorker in Brooklyn. This informed my idea of comfort and home and what’s involved in a night out on the town. Ideal dining conditions for me equal wooden interiors, unexpected ingredient combos, solid playlists, and still having a few bucks in your pocket when you leave. Since moving to Manhattan, the biggest challenge has been finding places that fit this mold. The highest compliment I can give a place is “I feel like I’m in Brooklyn,” and that’s the first thing I said upon entering Melt Shop in Chelsea.

Mid-Blizzard last week, I met the amazingly talented and hilarious Emmy there for a catch up session over cheese and carbs. The golden spatula at the restaurant’s door stood out amidst the snow and hinted at the goodness that lay inside. We were immediately greeted by the enthusiastic staff who helped us with the arduous task of picking what we’d order. As a veggie, my options were minorly limited. Melt seems to be a fan of pork, chicken, and bacon and includes them on most of their sandwiches. That said, I still had some great things to choose from. Emmy went with the buttermilk fried chicken, and I chose the three cheese.

Melt offers tater tots as a side, and as we are people of the human race, Emmy and I were set on getting them with all of our hearts. But due to a self-imposed $20 budget, we had to opt out of the tots. Then, the best thing ever happened. The dude taking our order gave them to us for free!! For like no reason at all!! Gotta love the Thanksgiving spirit.

Our food was bomb.com. The roasted tomatoes on my sandwich were sweet, yet smoky, prompting me to check more than once to see if they had added bacon by mistake. And we all know my thoughts on bacon. Emmy’s sandwich looked like someone gourmet’d up a KFC value meal and then encased it in bread and cheese. (Which is obvi a good thing) And holy guacamole the free tots were good. They were sprinkled in¬†Parmesan¬†cheese and fried in the most perfect way. Also, make sure to get the dipping sauce, cause it tastes good with just about everything. Like it’s still good when you ate all your tots and use your finger to scoop it up. (Not that I’d know.)

Even though it’s in Manhattan, Melt’s got it going on. The only problem I foresee with this place is people getting tired of me bringing them there. If you’re into enjoying yourself and not spending a million bucks, I urge you to check it out ASAP. Also, check out Emmy’s twitter. Neither will leave you disappointed.

What to do this weekend in NYC

If you’re anything like me, weekend planning starts way before rolling out of bed on Saturday. Here’s some ideas for how to fill those two days you’ve been working for all week. From the most “indoor of indoor kids” to those “like to leave the house” types– there’s something for everyone.

* Read this interview of Jack White by Duff McKagan. Yes THAT Duff McKagan.

* Eat your face off in a sea of hungry hipsters at Smorgasburg.

* Since you can’t do this during your actual lunch hour. Use your free time to check out the¬†Lunch Hour NYC¬†exhibit at the New York Public Library in Bryant Park.

* Then walk north to Lincoln Center to ogle some of the best photographs of some of the best rockers of all time.

* Maybe get your twang on at the Lyle Lovett concert? Why not?

*¬†Watch Green Day perform¬†THREE of their new songs at this week’s secret show in Los Angeles.

* Take in brunch at Milk Bar. The too good to be true meal deal includes a Veggie or Pork Bun (with or without a poached egg), Cookie or Kimchi Slaw, and your choice of fancy beverage (including espresso drinks) all for TEN DOLLARS!!!

* To bring it all to a close,¬†check out the¬†Olympic Closing Ceremony. Muse, Paul McCartney, Estelle… Also THE FREAKING SPICE GIRLS. Does it get any better?

Have fun!