A Refugee Camp Grows in Brooklyn

img_4503

Tom and I went to see The Jungle Friday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo. This original play, hot off the stages of London, is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.        St. Ann’s is known for physically transforming the theater to meet the needs of each play, as well as their ability to make the audience a part of the experience. For this play, a replica of an Afghan Cafe inside an actual refugee camp in Calais, France comes to life. You’ll sit side by side with the residents of the camp, and learn about their journey from war-torn countries to the promised land of the white cliffs of Dover. It is a play that everyone, everywhere should see. But, fair warning, it is not a pretty experience, and you aren’t going to have “fun.”

Before the show we ate at Gran Electrica, a mexican restaurant with a healthy slant. Of course, we chose the most unhealthy of dishes, pork belly tacos, and they were very good. They make a nice spicy marg, and the walk to St. Ann’s is about 4 minutes long, which is ideal when it’s 20 degrees outside.

Do you like pho? I am a huge fan. I love it because it’s a big bowl of noodles, and yet it eats healthier than ramen. This past week I had lunch at Sai gon dep a new restaurant that just opened by the chef of Hanoi House. I went during the soft opening when the menu was limited, but I thoroughly enjoyed their chicken-based pho and spring rolls. I look forward to returning and trying the rest of the menu. It is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s day and might rival a bowl of chicken soup if you are suffering from a cold.

 

My youngest daughter is days away from returning to college for her second semester of sophomore year, and so we have made it a point to do as much as possible together before she leaves. We had a great afternoon wandering around the meatpacking district, shopping at Story, a retail store that “takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.” They completely reinvent themselves from design to merchandise every four to eight weeks, highlighting new trends. I dare anyone to leave without purchasing something. We had a late lunch at Restoration Hardware in their rooftop restaurant. I’ve written about this spot before, and I said it was meh, however, if you go with a Generation Z young adult, it looks more impressive through their eyes. I took her to the new Camp on 5th avenue, because even though she’s 19, and Camp is really for humans under the age of 10, I knew she would love it. It’s hard to describe, but if you have a young child in your life, you need to go and make sure you try the edible bubbles.

We also passed by the new Starbucks Roastery Reserve, which is unlike any other Starbucks. It is on my short list to return. We found this gorgeous creature in the window as we walked by.

img_4478

Saturday night we returned to Brooklyn (yes, twice in one weekend) to meet friends for dinner at Frankies Spuntino. The last time I was there, it was a tiny hall of a restaurant with a fabulous garden. The tiny spot still exists (for walk-ins), but the reservations are now seated down the block in the old Prime Meats location. It’s a beautiful space, and the menu is the same as I remember. We enjoyed our meal, despite the significant flooding in the kitchen. They kept calm and carried on.

From there we went to “the” spot to sing karaoke in Brooklyn, The Old Carriage Inn in Park Slope. Judging by the talent in the crowd, and the wait to sing a song (2 hours) I’d say it is definitely the place to go. Just make sure you get there early if you want to sing. We stayed for a few beers and sang along with the ringers.

On Tuesday, when Annie leaves for school, our apartment will return to empty nest status…at least for a month or two – having her home this past month has been a gift.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Dermaplane: The Muffin of Beauty Secrets

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.31.41 PM

Muffins allow us to eat cake at breakfast without guilt. It’s the same idea with dermaplaning. I can have my face shaved without admitting that I shave my face. I’ve been dermaplaning since I lived in Japan – Japanese women have been shaving for years, and they have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. When I mention this beauty secret to friends, they’re perplexed. Almost no one I know in New York has ever done it. I go to Wynter at Bare Beauty about once a month, and I walk out without any facial hair and a layer of dead skin removed. I highly recommend it.

Another fun Japanese find is my recent discovery of a Spanail location in Soho! Spanail has over 70 locations in Japan, and they are the absolute best in nail art and gel nails. And the service is very Japanese. They take their time, and you never feel like you are being rushed out the door. And, you can get sushi nails, so there’s a reason to go!

IMG_8784

You might notice that the look of the blog has changed since last week, and that’s because many readers have been asking for a way to quickly search for specific info. It’s still a work in progress, but at least you can now click on a specific category, or do a general search at the top of the blog. I hope you find it easier to navigate.

Last week’s blog on pizza was my most read blog EVER (times five!) Pizza will have to be a continuing feature at #emptynestnyc. I did have one of the best pizzas I had in a long time last week at Rubirosa if you go, get the vodka pie. I had friends in from Tokyo last week, and we celebrated an 18th birthday. This celebration was an all-day affair and included milkshakes at Black Tap,

IMG_8550

shopping in Nolita on Prince Street between the Bowery and Lafayette; my favorite block in NYC for small boutique shopping. Make sure you include side streets like Mott and Mulberry off of Prince. An entire day could be spent winding up and down this neighborhood.

We had a hilarious night at the Drag show LIPS.

IMG_8633

It’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday with women. However, if you can book just for the show, I would skip the dinner. From there we took the birthday girl to sing karaoke at our favorite neighborhood spot Karaoke17.  The night ended with birthday cake and french fries at L’Express a decent French brasserie that is open 24/7. It’s a great place to have in your late night repertoire.

Last Saturday, when it felt like spring might be here, Tom and I went out to Brooklyn for an unplanned brunch. We had a destination – Williamsburg, but no place in mind. We ended up at Fette Sau a bbq shack in an old auto body shop. It’s been open for over ten years, and it’s not surprising. Great food, indoor/outdoor dining, with a full bar. Afterwards, we walked over to Milkbar for birthday cake shakes and chocolate pretzel soft serve, and ended the afternoon shopping for junk at Mother of Junk.

 

On Sunday, our nest was FULL for Easter dinner with our kids and their friends. I made a delicious lamb shoulder that I bought at the butcher at Eataly  and slowly roasted in the oven for seven hours, and served it with spinach pies I found at International Grocery.

Even though it’s April, it still feels like winter. I stand in my closet each morning, looking longingly at my cute skirts, and flats, wondering when I can put away the sweaters and turtlenecks, and drop all my boots off at Romano Cobbler.

Hopefully, next week’s blog will have some signs of springtime.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

The City Never Sleeps Better Slip You An Ambien

IMG_8231

I didn’t get a ton of sleep this week, but I can’t blame it on NYC. I often wonder why mother nature thought that when women become a certain age, they no longer need sleep. Why she felt we need to roll around in bed at 2 am worrying about problems that are unsolvable, making to-do lists, or writing novels we can’t remember in the morning escapes me. Now, when I pass by my tightly made bed during the day, I stare it down like it’s an enemy I’ll have to battle later on.

Sleepless nights didn’t find me lounging around on the couch. It was week 9 in the job search, and so far I’ve applied to ten jobs, had two interviews, and have heard nothing since. Last night I had dinner with a millennial, and after explaining my thoughts on age bias in the workforce, her advice was to lop off anything on my resume that had a 1 in front of it, as in 1988.  Week 10 will find my job applications with a newly improved resume – nothing before 2000. I’ll keep you posted on my little bias experiment.

It was a delicious week. I had a fantastic lunch at Mamman which isn’t new to NYC, but new to my neighborhood. I envision many re-writes of my novel taking place at one of their communal farmhouse tables. I am addicted to the stuffed pita at Miznon. I asked the adorable Israeli cashier which pita was her favorite and she said without hesitation it was the folded cheeseburger. She was not wrong. They serve their pitas with the most giant shishito pepper I’ve ever eaten. I’m going back soon for the roast beef, her number two pick.

IMG_8235

I went to a super fun birthday dinner at Macao. The perfect place to celebrate with a big group. Great plates for sharing, an intimate, yet warm and friendly room, and if you’re lucky, a jazzy band that’s just the right amount of entertainment.

I’ve mentioned Play by Play before – it’s my seat filler club. This week I was fortunate to get an orchestra center seat to see The Parisian Woman for $4.50.

Tom and I got a reservation at Pasquale Jones the super hot pizza spot in Nolita, and we loved it. Welcoming space, friendly staff, and a great pie.

Dinner, Saturday night at Houseman, wasn’t boring. We were showered with broken glass on three different occasions. I found this almost statistically impossible, but it happened. We were picking glass out of our laps, clearing it from our table and once we had to get up from our seats so the busboy could wipe them down. I think they need to invest in stronger glassware and should also consider the concept of comping. In the end, they sent us dessert wine that no one wanted. I hate it when restaurants don’t understand hospitality. I wanted to love the place, the food was super yummy and creative, and I walked away thinking, meh. Not to mention, the bartender was cranky. I’m not a fan of cranky bartenders.

When I moved into my neighborhood eight months ago, I noticed a karaoke bar on 17th street. I tucked its existence away for future reference, and the future was last night. I’m terrible at karaoke, but I’m married to someone who kills it, and some of my best Tokyo nights were spent at Fiesta in Roppongi.  Karaoke One7 is the perfect combination of karaoke and bar. They have private rooms in the back, and every once in a while, the front door opens, and a small van pulls up with a group that would snake through the bar to their private cave. But the bar is for those who want to sing among strangers. For $2 a song (or $20 to cut to the front of the line), you can lead the disparate crew to the tune of your choice. It’s fascinating how music and booze can make the fastest of friends.

So excited for the Oscars tonight!

Have fun. Be bold.