I Feel It In My Fingers, I Feel It In My Toes (Christmas Is All Around Us…)

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I really love Christmas. It’s not my holiday, but I’ve adopted it by marriage. Converts, in general, are always the worst when it comes to going overboard and I am guilty as charged. So if you love Christmas too, stay tuned to my blog this month, because in addition to fun NYC things to do, see, eat and imbibe, there will be a lot of pics of stuffed animals coming out of store windows, and other assorted holiday regalia.

Last week started on a total high. I am a BA (Bon Appetite) insider, which just means I signed up to be one, and I was able to snag two tickets to their second only live taping of the BA podcast at The Bell House. I’m obsessed with the podcast (who else can wax poetic about vinegar for 30 minutes like Carla Lalli Music? ). My cousin Wendy and I got there early, scarfed down the insane ham sandwich (oh the baguette, the thinly sliced ham by Brad Leone, the ethereal spread of butter, and sprinkle of sea salt) and snagged the second row. We were glued to our seats for two hours.

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Next up was a visit to The Velvet Underground Experience, the pop-up on lower Broadway. When I was a student at NYU, I was obsessed with Andy Warhol and all things “Factory” after reading Edie: American Girl. There is something for everyone in this exhibit, and it’s right around the corner from Indochine, which makes for the perfect, spot to eat afterward. We felt like we had time traveled to 1983.

Katherine, one of my all-time favorite humans, landed in NYC (from Tokyo where she lives and where our journey together began) this past weekend, and it was one non-stop party (and gab-fest). It started with a fabulous brunch at Legacy Records, one of the hardest reservations to get, but I did watch a few people walk in off the street and get seated. I might try that next time. My obsession with the soft scramble continues, and this time it had black truffles mixed in. O-M-G.

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It was a gray and rainy day, so we decided it would be a great opportunity to wander the seven floors of merch at Dover Street Market. The only thing I could afford was the Matcha Cappucino (barely, at $7.50), but I got quite the kick out of what’s on offer and how much of your paycheck you need to use to get it. As I asked myself, “Who shops here?” A wave of hip young Asian girls swooped in and almost ran us over.

Sunday night Tokyo Tomodachis (friends) from far and wide came together at Prune to celebrate friendship and eat fried pistachio nuts. Prune is one of my all-time favorite classic NYC restaurants. It holds about 20 people – reservations are a must. They created a special prix-fixe dinner and made a cute menu just for us. They also serve chunks of melted dark chocolate on buttered crusty bread for dessert (and this comes with the check…) The night ended with cocktails at the Raines Law Room and then just one Kelly Clarkson karaoke song, My Life Would Suck Without You.

Monday morning Katherine and I hit Midtown hard. We took pictures in front of all the decorations including the tree. We waited on line and shopped at the new FAO Schwarz – thankfully the line went fast. It’s worth the wait to see the Rolls Royce toy cars, the kiddie supermarket, and the teddy bear chairs. I snapped a few cute pics…

I found the windows at Saks strangely similar to the red trees Melania put up at the White House…

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Famished from all the selfies, we stopped into a new-ish spot in Midtown called Handies by Bou. It’s a six-seat handroll counter in the lobby of a small boutique hotel, The Sanctuary. The fish was fresh and simple and not expensive. It’s a great place if you need a little pick me up near Rockefeller Center.

Laden with bags, we returned to downtown to drop our bags. However, we first had to stop and see the chocolate waterfalls at Venchi the new gelato spot in Flatiron. And then, of course, we had to have some – silly Katherine chose a thimble full of coffee with her chocolate, but my cone was insane; Hazelnut gelato that had a thick layer of fudge on top. Worth every calorie.

After dropping off our bags, we ran over for a quick stretch at my favorite spot Stretch’d before going to celebrate Chanukah at Airs Champagne Parlor. Is there anything better than champagne, potato latkes, and caviar? NO. I love Air’s because we have a lot in common. We both like good champagne, and we agree that you don’t have to spend a fortune to drink it. Last year Tom and I spent New Year’s chambonging with the gang at Air’s, and I am happy to say we will return this year. Can’t wait!

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

My Obsession With Holiday Gift Guides

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I think people either love or hate giving gifts. And it’s not about spending money, I think it’s more about the obligation of taking the time to really think about what someone might want (or need) that makes the task a burden. I’m the type of person who starts the holiday season with at least five gifts already purchased months ago when I found the ideal gift for so and so, which makes me the perfect person for the myriad holiday gift guides that are published starting in October. This year, the specificity amazed me. There was the gift guide for three-year-old girls, athletes, lovers of Disney, good food in Pittsburgh, geeks, getting organized (I think this says a little too much about the receiver), moms of babies, Apple users, for the friend who wants to start a podcast… these lists are like manna from heaven for the lover of gifting. The special people on my list are getting some very creative and off the grid gifts this year (more on that after the 25th). Whether you are a lover of gifting or an anti-gifter, I wish you all a very happy shopping experience this holiday season. And when in doubt, there is always The Worst Gifts to Give. 

My week was very food-focused, as I imagine yours was too. I was super organized and prepared heading into the week, and of course that means that everything would go wrong. Last Thanksgiving I had my turkey ubered to my apartment at 11:30 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That wasn’t going to happen to me this year as I picked the turkey up on Tuesday. However, my $400+ Amazon Fresh delivery with all my ingredients was delivered a day late and contained five items.

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That threw a bit of a monkey wrench into my cooking plans, but since I live in NYC, a city that never sleeps, where stores are open 24/7 I didn’t panic, and it all worked out just fine.

While on the topic of food, I wanted to let my readers know that I finally found a place in Curry Hill with a fabulous Indian lunch buffet (for $12.95 I might add). Thank you, Lisa, for the rec – it is now on my continual to-go list.

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Tuesday before Thanksgiving I arranged a little fun for the cousins, aunts, and uncles that wouldn’t be together for Thanksgiving at Amsterdam Billiards. I reserved two beer pong tables, and all of the well-educated college students and graduates in our group showed off all they learned in college. It’s not a cheap night out, but I was very pleased not to have a sticky floor in my apartment.

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Did you watch the parade? I did. It’s such a strange tradition, but I wouldn’t miss it. My kids were thrilled when it was over, and we could watch football.

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Holiday windows at ABC Home. They change daily.

The new addition to Union Square – a chocolate and gelato shop with real chocolate waterfalls.

I managed to squeeze in a Broadway show this weekend, and it was fabulous. I highly recommend seeing To Kill A Mockingbird. Jeff Daniels is great, but the actress who plays Scout is the real star. It’s sad that the play is still so relevant today.

The holiday week ended with a “framily” Thanksgiving dinner. For me, there is nothing better than sharing a meal with people you love in a gorgeous setting with dim lights and candles! Thanks, MB.

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Time to start addressing the holiday cards that have been sitting underneath my cocktail table for weeks…

Have fun…be bold.