Bizcation Madness

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I first heard of the word Bizcation from my friend Doug who loves to mashup words to make new fun ones, like FRAPPS (free apps) and FREFILLS (free refills). It means, when your husband goes on a business trip, you go along for a vacation; hence the mashup. Tom had to be in London for a few nights, and so thanks to Norwegian Air and their very favorable ticket prices, I went along too.

Having friends in London is such a bonus because I hardly had to plan anything. I had a few thoughts floating in my head about how I wanted to spend the time, but really, I was in a fabulous city (at a very interesting time) hanging out with old friends, so what could be bad?

I purchased timed tickets to visit the newly opened Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey as my sister had recently visited and said it was great. I was a little early and so spent some time in the abbey’s gift shop. As church gift shops go, this one is excellent.

The galleries are high above the abbey and provide a lofty view from which to gaze down upon the church (I snuck a picture and got in trouble regardless).

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But it’s not just the view that is spectacular; it’s chock a block with ancient royal artifacts, and a few new ones as well – including William and Kate’s marriage license! On a side note, do you ever use the face smacking emoji when texting? My youngest daughter is quite fond of it, and seeing this in the abbey made me think of its origin.

 

 

I was meeting my friend Efrot for lunch, and when I arrived at the location, I was confused. I was jetlagged, and I’d taken a sleeping pill on the plane, but I was pretty sure she said we were going for Thai, and this pub was the farthest from Thai I could imagine. But Efrot is all about authentic so in I went. Once inside The Churchill Arms, it felt very pubby with lots of Churchill memorabilia scattered here and there. I sat at the bar and ordered a drink and asked if I was in the right place. The barkeep pointed to the back and said that’s where the Thai happened. Sure enough, when Efrot arrived we went to the back, and there were a host of Thai ladies cooking up delicious home cooked Thai food. I’d add it to your London itinerary.

p.s. Churchill’s grandparents used to frequent the pub, and it’s been around since 1750. In the spring I hear it’s covered in gorgeous flowers.

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I refuse to take buses in NYC because they never come and they are slower than a tourist on a crowded theater district street holding a map in one hand, and a camera in the other. But the buses are brilliant in London! It’s the cheapest, and most time efficient way to sightsee – jump on a double-decker, wrangle a front row seat and see the city. I spent Wednesday morning on Bus 11, which took me past Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament, straight into the city of London, passing St. Paul’s Cathedral. Another thing I loved about both the buses and the tube in London was that I could flash my contactless credit card (the one with the little waves on the back), when going through the wicket, and I never needed to purchase a ticket. So easy! After my bus ride, I returned to the neighborhood where I was staying, Sloane Square, and walked around the Saatchi Gallery for an hour. Saatchi is very contemporary and prides itself on showing artists that are unseen or those that are rarely exhibited in the UK.

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The Saatchi also has an excellent gift shop. I particularly liked the very British greeting card section.

 

 

I met my friend Nita for lunch at a London favorite, Colbert. No matter what time of day or night, Colbert is packed, so book ahead. Nita and I met while playing bridge in NYC at Honors Bridge Club, and it was a treat to see her in London. She splits her time between both cities. After lunch, I was reconnecting with Efrot at the Dior Exhibit at the V&A. The V&A is a snazzy way to say the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Dior exhibit was completely sold out, but Efort had a membership, and we were allowed to enter. What I found in London is that all the museums are free, but if you buy a membership you get access to the special exhibits. I think a city that opens it’s museums to the public for free is one that is fully vested in the importance of culture. The Dior show was exquisite. It’s incredible to think that Christian Dior was only at the helm of his fashion house for ten years, and yet created a lasting legacy. He’s known for his “new look” silhouette, which he said was inspired by an upside down flower. One of the rooms in the exhibit shows his dress patterns upside down.

 

 

I know it’s going to seem a bit excessive to mention yet another fabulous gift shop, but the V&A is by far the best museum shop ever. I went crazy buying costume jewelry for mere pounds. I bet no one will be able to tell!

Wednesday night I finally made it to the Chiltern Firehouse for dinner. It’s been on my list since it opened in 2013. It’s an André Balazs hotel and restaurant. André is all about the vibe, and he hits a home run with this very hip spot in Marylebone. From the moment you arrive, you know you are going to have a very cool night. And unlike some of his other locations (Sunset Beach in Shelter Island), the food is very, very good. My phone was charging and I didn’t get it back in time to take any fun dinner pictures, but I did manage a snap of my dessert. It looks like a hot mess, but it was insanely delicious rice pudding.

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Thursday was my last full day in the city, and I started with a walk through Carnaby Street. Carnaby “Street” is actually 14 pedestrianized streets, so it makes for the perfect shopping trip. The stores skew young, my daughters would have had a field day, but I managed to buy one unique piece that I’ll either wear out or never wear once. We’ll see. Thankfully the stores are fun and inexpensive.

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From there I met my friend Stephanie at Nopi Yotam Ottonlenghi’s vegetable-focused restaurant. I’m a big fan – I heard him speak at the 92nd Street Y and I own and use all of his cookbooks. Next time I return, I want to try his new place, Rovi.

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After lunch, we dashed down to the Tate Modern to meet other friends we knew from our Japan days and to see the Bonnard exhibit. We spent the entire time in the rooftop lounge talking and catching up; we never made it to the exhibit. The walk from the museum back to the Westminster station along the South Bank of the river was fantastic. It’s a thriving cultural scene, with so much to see and do – until next time!

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Dinner Thursday was at Berner’s Tavern in Fitzrovia. This was a suggestion from my young friend Hilary, and it didn’t disappoint. It could be the most beautiful dining room in London.

Friday came around so quickly – I wasn’t ready to leave! I had one last stop before the airport, and that was meeting my friend Syd who lives in New York but was on the tail end of her Euro vacation with her husband Rob. They were stopping off for 24 hours to visit her British cousins. I was so happy to join and meet everyone. The lunch spot she chose, Le Petite Maison was delicious and posh – the perfect combination. And then it was a mad dash to the airport on the Gatwick Express.

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Saturday morning, back in NYC we had timed tickets to climb the much talked about Vessel at Hudson Yards. It was a very windy day, and they cut off the climb at level three making the entire experience very anti-climb-atic! We went into the mall to get warm thinking we’d bop around Mercado, but it was closed. It doesn’t open until 5 pm. What???

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I have to agree with the recent New Yorker article. There is no reason to go to Hudson Yards. I felt like I was in a ritzy Dubai mall. Not NYC at all. I’ll reserve final judgment until the Shed opens. There still may be some hope yet.

Sunday was a gorgeous day in NYC, and before attending an aca-awesome event at Carnegie Hall, Tom and I walked around Central Park with our faces up to the sun. We even ate dirty water dogs – something we do on a very rare occasion. It felt so good to be outside with the rest of the urban dwellers who dwell in tiny spaces all winter long. On our walk home, we found a plane parked in the theater district (on it’s way to JFK to become a cocktail bar).

 

 

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

700,000 Hours

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That’s the average amount of time we get to spend on this planet. I don’t know about you, but that struck me as not that much. The day I read it, I was sitting on my couch going through the stack of magazines I hadn’t read since November, and I could almost hear the clock ticking. It made me think about how I spend (or waste) my time. I have no problem sitting on my couch on a rainy day with my head in two books, nine magazines, and the Sunday New York Times, and look up four hours later, surprised to see that the sun set long ago. Obviously, not everything I read is a good use of my time, but I almost always unearth nuggets of information that inform my life. The 700,000 hours came from an article about the first “wandering hotel” in the world 700,000 Heures. If I had the means, I would become a member today. With less than half of those hours already spent, I’d want to spend the rest of them traveling the world and staying in incomparable locations curated by a staff that aimed to “astonish” their guests.

Here’s a look at some of my best hours this week:

 

I love it when fellow city friends introduce me to their favorite places in their neighborhoods. I have to thank MB for showing me William Poll, the Upper East Side’s tiny gourmet food store. It’s the type of place that I would have walked right by, but I am so happy I know exists. Need delicious appetizers for a dinner party? Dips for days? Soups in cute little containers? Stop in, but bring your $$$$.

 

This week I went back to yoga. I’m not sure why I stopped. I always feel better when I’m walking out of the studio than when I walk in.  I go to, Yogamaya. It’s bare bones and totally yoga focused with minimal ohms and scattered skylights with a view of rooftops and watertowers.

A 2-hour winter walk in Central Park. It doesn’t matter your path, where you start or end, the park has so many gifts to give, in any season, at any time of the day or night. It was an exhilirating way to start the year. Marybeth and I kept walking until noon because we both had started intermittent fasting and the lunch bell wasn’t going to ring for us until noon. But, it was worth the wait. We had the juciest burgers (without a bun, over a tossed salad) at JG Melon a New York institution that’s still got it.

I went to my first drop-in supervised bridge play at Honors Bridge Club. Two hours of supervised shuffle and deal – $20 and it includes breakfast. Those were two very well spent hours. I could literally feel the synapses in my brain firing on all cylinders. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

I’ve mentioned Silver Mirror before – my favorite place for derma planing! But it gets another mention because they just opened a new location in my neighborhood! What could be better than your favorite face shaving facialist now located within a five minute walk?

Speaking of what could be better…I have to say one of the best things about living in my apartment is having an AMC Movie Theater around the block. When January roles around, it becomes my go to destination. And with assigned seats I leave my apartment 3 minutes before the credits role. This weekend I saw Vice and Green Book, two movies that on the surface seem so different, and yet they both make you feel equally bad about being an American, granted in different decades.

Saturday night I finally made it to Ichiran, one of the best ramen shops in Japan, now in NYC. Considering there are over 50,000 ramen shops in Japan, that says a lot. I’m a huge ramen aficionado, after living in Japan for 6 years, I feel I have an educated palate. When I first moved back from Japan, I tried many ramen shops in NYC looking for something that felt like Tokyo, but they all fell short for various reasons. But I was holding out for Ichiran. Arriving on Saturday night at 6pm, we found a line, which was a good sign. We waited for about 20 minutes and then were seated at conjoining booths.

 

All I’ll say is that its a unique experience – don’t go with a group, it’s actually better to eat here alone. The menu is limited to one type of ramen – what? And two bowls with two draft beers cost $73. Yes, I said $73. If you eat at Ichiran in Tokyo, you won’t pay more than $10 a bowl. But, was it good? Yes, it was very very good. But still.

After I was completely stuffed with noodles, I went to see The Cher Show on Broadway. If you, like me, grew up watching Sonny and Cher on the Sonny and Cher Show, if you thought Chastity was the cutest baby of all time, and if you lived in the same apartment building as Cher and Rob Camiletti when you were in college (oh, that was just me) then you will want to get tickets to this show. If not, then I suggest you get tickets to The Ferryman.

One last tidbit…brunch at Cafe Cluny in the West Village. It’s not new, it’s not hot, but it’s very very good. You’ll walk in and feel the vibe immediately. The food is delicious and I highly recommend ordering a drink called the Cluny. They don’t take reservations on the weekends, but it’s worth the wait.

So, what are you going to do with your hours this week? I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve…stay tuned.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

My Summer To Do List

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When my daughter was going into junior year, I found a handwritten list in colored magic markers in her bedroom that said “Summer To Do List.” Of course, I swiped it and put it in my box of treasures for safe keeping, but I remember it had some really adorable things on it, like going to an outdoor concert, getting a tan, and having a summer fling. I think about that list every year right about now.

In fact, it was the inspiration for my own

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1. Get tickets for Shakespeare in the Park  and get them the old-fashioned way by arriving with a cup of coffee and waiting in line at 7:45 in the morning.

2. Go to Tipsy Scoop and eat ice cream infused with alcohol. 

3. Read Conveniece Store Woman because the subject completely fascinates me. 

4. Eat at the Queens Night Market on a Saturday night.

5. Swing and drink rose with girlfriends at The Rose Mansion

6. Take the Ferry to the new Domino Park  and have a picnic and run through the fountains.

7. Go to The Little One and eat kakegori (Japanese shaved ice). 

8. Much to Tom’s dismay, go hang out on the boardwalk at Coney Island.

9. Walk across the The Brooklyn Bridge  (I admit, I’ve NEVER done it).

10. Spend a night glamping on Governor’s Island Collective Resorts.

Like my daughter’s Summer To Do List, I know there are some items I just won’t cross off this summer, but it’s nice to have goals, and it’s so fun when you accomplish them!

Happy first day of summer!

Have fun. Be bold. Wear Sunscreen.

 

Chomping At The Bit

IMG_8957My love of crusty french baguettes (like this ham and fromage with salty butter from Arcade Bakery that will instantly transport you to a bench in the Tuileries Gardens) is in direct correlation to the state of my constant TMJ.  But, after years of suffering, I’ve found the solution, and I want to share it with you.  Dr. Elizabeth Hale injects my jaw with botox every five months and my hard as rocks muscles melt away. Book now, and you might get in before September. She’s very popular.

This week began with a night filled with tasty bites and creative sips surrounded by great friends for my favorite cause; raising money for the students of the Bronx Academy of Letters  It was our annual Chef Tasting where some of New York City’s best chefs and mixologists donate their time and food to support our school. This is a picture of me and one of my absolute favorite chefs, Christian Petroni, who always volunteers at our benefit. His lasagne this year was amazing! IMG_8932

Many delish meals were gobbled, and cocktails quaffed this week. My doctor has suggested that I refrain from drinking two days a week so I don’t get osteoporosis – who knew? But living in NYC makes that a challenge! We hit both Dante and Dante at Genuine–  I returned to Dante for the almond milk pancake – OMG, and a Friday night dinner with old friends at Genuine including Aperol Spritz on tap! There was a millennial dinner with all four of my kids and their friends at Indochine, jalapeno basil margaritas at ABC Cucina, and curry in a hurry at IndiKitch.

We went to a total bust of a festival on the The Highline, but it was a gorgeous spring day so the time spent wasn’t a waste. I just bought tickets for next weekend’s Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Sitting on a picnic blanket eating onigiri, drinking Sapporo and celebrating hanami is one of my favorite things to do.

Just got this summer’s lineup for Summer Stage – free music in public parks all over the five boroughs. Looking forward to listening to opera, packing a picnic and spending a summer evening in Central Park on June 11th.

All my kids were in town for a night we’ve all had on the calendar since Christmas. Our absolute favorite comedian, Sebastian Manuscalco was in town at Radio City, and we had tickets to the last show Saturday night at 10. We had an absolute blast. If you aren’t familiar with his comedy, you can watch two of his shows on Netflix. Be prepared to laugh out loud. IMG_9085

AND I AM SO PSYCHED FOR SPRING! It’s my first one living in NYC since I was 21. I’m going to take full advantage of everything. Look out for me in every outdoor cafe, floating bar, and rooftop lounge!!!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

48 Hour Spring in NYC

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The 48-hour spring weather this weekend had New Yorkers sprinting out of their apartments like cockroaches and making a hasty beeline for Central Park, myself included. Saturday was a gift for the winter we endured, and it was a well-deserved one. I especially loved the multi-tasking of the guy on the hoverboard, talking on his cell, with a snake wrapped around his neck. Impressive. We were lucky enough (thanks MB) to score the perfect table at Le Pain Quotidien at the north end of Sheep Meadow, deep in Central Park. It was the ideal place to catch up, have a glass of wine, and people/dog watch.

 

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back it up to Monday night when Tom and I went to our first Tasting Collective  dinner. Tasting Collective is a private membership that sends its members invitations to private tasting events with the chef. The membership cost is low, and the events are very reasonable. Our first dinner was at Oka a creative izakaya whose chef John McCarthy is an alumnus of WD-50. The food was delicious and inventive, and Tom and I sat next to an adorable young couple, making the night even more fun. These are just a few of the courses. The tonkatsu was on point, and the edamame salad with the crispy cracker was amazing. I’d go back for that alone.

Wednesday night I was at Indochine with girlfriends. Indochine is one of those restaurants that never fails to deliver, and there is always a buzz. I “grew up” at Indochine during my 5 years at NYU. Back in the day, a night at Indochine would be spent rubbing elbows with Bianca Jagger, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista. It’s not exactly as high profile today, but it’s just as fun and the food is great too!

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I’m on the right in the picture above. I made the big leap and got bangs, something I haven’t had in decades. I forgot how much work they are and how they have to be managed and can misbehave for no reason at all. I still kind of dig them.

Saturday night, I had a reservation at Lilia (thanks Wendy). It was an exceptional meal from start to finish – the company was pretty awesome too. Lilia is one of the hardest reservations in Brooklyn to get, but the food totally lives up to the hype. Go with a group so you can order everything. The desserts were amazing too.

Things I’m looking forward to doing this spring if it actually returns:

Revisiting South Street Seaport. I haven’t been there since I graduated from college. The area had a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy, but they’ve been completely transforming it since then. Lots of interesting shops, restaurants and a new cool hotel are either already open or have spring/summer opening dates.

Seeing Mean Girls and The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

Eating at Legacy Records Don Angie Uncle Boons Frenchette The Bombay Bread Bar Szechuan Mountain House

Actually getting a job.  My search began in January, and what I’ve discovered is that it’s not easy to find a job at my age. Still plugging away.

As I sit here writing, the spring weather has returned to winter temps. I’ll have to bundle up to walk to a bottomless brunch at Miss Lillys. If its cold outside, I’m happy I’ll be drinking rum all afternoon in a warm and cozy spot.

Have fun. Be bold.