2 Jews, An Italian, and A Food Festival

As a New Yorker, I spend a lot of time celebrating other people’s cultures through the city’s vibrant restaurant scene, but Sunday was all about the traditional foods of my fellow chosen ones. Thanks to The Workmen’s Circle “Taste of Jewish Culture” event, I ate  latkes, pickles, corn beef, falafel, chopped liver, and most importantly, the three B’s: Babka, Borscht, and Brisket. And I was lucky enough to be joined by my good friends Pamela and Michael.

Walking through the various stands brought back so many memories… Helping my grandma make rugelach when I was too little to reach the counter, Shabbat dinner centered around my mom’s secret brisket recipe (Heinz Ketchup and Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix), and the annual Hanukkah party I threw at my old apartment in Harlem. I am so proud of my heritage, and without getting too political, now feels like an important time to honor it. It was also nice to share this experience with Michael, who was eating some of these foods for the first time, and creating new memories of his own.

Big thanks go out to all the musicians, volunteers, and chefs who made this amazing event possible. My restaurant to do list just got a whole lot longer. Below are some snapshots from the festival, and links to my favorite vendors.

*Breads Bakery – 18 E. 16th Street

*Mile End – 53 Bond Street / 97A Hoyt Street (Brooklyn)

*Shelsky’s – 141 Court Street (Brooklyn)

*Peck’s Homemade – 455A Myrtle Ave (Brooklyn)

*Kossar’s Bialys – 367 Grand Street

*The Pickle Guys – 49 Essex Street

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Birthday Instas

“Another Year, Another Freaking Incredible Birthday” is something I’m lucky enough to be able to say. Thanks to everyone who got the last year of my twenties off to a good start. Here are some highlights… Insta-style!

Yogurtland Party courtesy of my Fuse Family! Pic stitch courtesy of the great Mary Chaplin!

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Two of my Favorite Ladies at my Favorite Bar

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Friends, Presents, and a Flammable Birthday Card

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Not Birthday Dinner at Jacob’s Pickles

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It’s not a selfie if Hodapp takes it…

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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!

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.