What’s Your Favorite Restaurant?

C174297F-97B8-4DD7-82BE-E6E0C65729EB-1

Last week, someone I just met asked me to name my favorite restaurant. They had heard that I dined out a lot and that I was slightly obsessed with food. It stopped me in my tracks. After an awkward pause, I had to confess that I didn’t have one. I started thinking about why I couldn’t come up with an answer to a seemingly straightforward question. And what I came up with is that I don’t have a favorite because I rarely return to the same place twice. That’s probably a combination of FOODFOMO and a never-ending amount of curiosity. But after Friday night’s reservation, my restaurant fickleness may be coming to an end.

Niche Niche is the newest initiative of the sprightly Ariel Arce. I’ve enjoyed many nights at her champagne bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor and have eaten in her basement izakaya,  Tokyo Record Bar a few times since it opened in July 2017. What I learned about Ariel is that the emphasis is always on the bubbles and fun and less on the food. But Niche Niche was billed as a dinner party. When I received an email inviting me to book before they opened up on RESY, I jumped at the chance. There were two nightly seatings at $40 per person with an additional wine pairing at $40 per person (you can’t do one without the other). Each night there is a “host,” a wine importer, that chooses the night’s wines. As Ariel welcomed us that night, she said: “Obviously none of you are New Yorkers because you’ve agreed to a dinner where you cannot make any choices about what you eat or drink.” Our host had a German catalog of wines, which probably drove the menu: Skate wing schnitzel with spaetzle and cabbage.

We had a reservation for the later seating at 8 pm. Tom and I were the oldest by decades. I’m pretty sure I saw a table of kids home for spring break. We are often on the older side due to the location (downtown) and the newness of the places we visit, but this was extreme. And when the dinner platter for two was placed on our table, I realized I was about to ruin a week of eating well and watching calories for fried fish with pasta. I was less than thrilled.

And then I read Frank Bruni’s article in the New York Times Sunday Review. And it all made sense. I’ve been eating out like a millennial or maybe even a GenZ’er. I need to let my 50-something flag fly. As Frank so wisely posits, “It’s not just sex and sleep that change as you age. It’s supper.” It’s not like I’m going to stop trying new places, but I’m going to slow down my RESY trigger finger and read a few more reviews before I book. And I’m going to allow myself to continue to return to the restaurants that have the potential to become my “favorite.” See my list below.

I’ve always wanted to speak French after studying in Paris in the summer of 1986. It’s taken this long to attempt that goal. I started a ten-week course on Tuesday at CouCou. It’s the cutest little school in a narrow three-floor building in Nolita. Learning a new language at 53 is not going to be easy. I even had homework – hopefully I don’t make a fool out of myself when I have to recite Chanson Automne in Tuesday’s class.

On Thursday night, I went with my son to see The Lehman Trilogy at the Park Avenue Armory. I didn’t let on that the play was over three hours long with two intermissions, but I was a little nervous he might leave before it ended. It was one of the most enjoyable and engaging theatrical experiences I’ve had in a long time. It’s a very limited run, but I encourage you to find tickets. It was that good. Hayden thought so too. We continued talking about it on Saturday at Yankee Stadium watching the Yankees lose to the worst team in baseball. But it was sunny and warm, so it wasn’t a complete disappointment.

IMG_5809-1

So the answer to what’s my favorite restaurant is never going to be just one. Here are a few that might make my list:

French: Le Coucou  Buvette

Italian: Carbone Lilia Via Carota

Pizza: Rubirosa Emily Roberta’s

Chinese: Wu’s Wonton King

Thai: Pinto Garden

Fast Casual: Mint Kitchen

Sushi Take Out: Ennju

Sushi: Sugarfish

Steak Frites: Raoul’s

Indian: Sahib

If you have a favorite, please let me know!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Bizcation Madness

23C615F1-0806-4323-95CE-A8A85601299E

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).

IMG_5600

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.

CC8A74BC-D23F-4FDD-90C4-4E43514E2661-1

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.

IMG_5674

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.

IMG_5706

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.

IMG_5713

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.

IMG_5715

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!

IMG_5725-1

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.

7C50722C-90AA-421A-A257-76CBE74A1672-1

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???

IMG_5742

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.

 

 

The Slog, The Catastrophe, Is Life

IMG_5472

I didn’t come up with the title to this blog; I borrowed it from the last line of the New York Time’s March 13th review of Catastrophe’s final season (binge it on Amazon now). It felt particularly poignant this week. Life is filled with many small catastrophes, and all we can do is to keep moving forward, hopefully taking lessons with us through the slog. The picture above was from the New York Time’s Talk I was lucky to attend Monday night. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’m sad that it ended. If you haven’t indulged, there are only 4 short seasons, and I highly, highly recommend them.

One of my new doctors is on Canal Street, which gave me an excellent reason to check out Canal Street Market. Among noisy street hawkers and NYC souvenirs, you’ll find this oasis of calm. Half the space is small vendors selling everything from sake to luxuries, and the other half is food – all with an Asian slant. I was so thrilled to find Joe’s Steam Rice Roll as it has been on my “to eat” list for a while. I ordered Joe’s signature with the works and drizzled hot sauce on top.

Wednesday I took a tour of the Richard Avedon Foundation, a place I could easily have walked by and never knew was there. But thanks to the Ex-Expat group in NYC I spent two hours learning more about the prolific photographer who shot everyone who was anyone, and lots of everyday people in between. When asked of the director of the foundation if Dick was nice, he answered, “Dick was engaged. I wouldn’t say he was nice.”


There are many reasons to visit Bushwick, Brooklyn; one is the the Bushwick Collective, and another is Roberta’s Pizza. The Bushwick Collective event is in June, but you need not wait to see incredible street art. The entire neighborhood is an outdoor art gallery and changes often. I went on a walking tour with Ronnit, who I thought was an excellent guide. Half of the tour was spent in small galleries with up and coming artists, and the other half was outside. I’d been to Bushwick on another tour and didn’t enjoy the guide as much as I enjoyed Ronnit. She gives you just the right amount of insight but leaves you to explore and inquire on your own. And with Roberta’s, unlike at night, you can walk right in and sit down for lunch.

Friday night Tom and I attended the first night of previews for Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell. I was so excited for this show and wanted it to be good, as I am a huge fan of both actors and thought the chemistry between them could be really intense. Driver has already been on Broadway, but this was Russell’s debut. Before giving my honest opinion (and what do I know anyway), I will remind you that it was the FIRST night of previews, and I’m sure some of the nerves and the kinks will get worked out before it opens officially on April 16th.

The show seems dated, and all the “chemistry” takes place off-stage, so it’s difficult to imagine them together. The play starts slow, and Driver doesn’t appear for quite some time, but when he does there is electricity. He is a man on fire, and you can’t wait to see what he will say or do next. For that reason alone, I say buy a ticket. And I have high hopes that Keri picks up her Broadway ball and starts running.

We sat a few rows behind Keri’s partner, Matthew Rhys, who was a doll. He spoke to everyone around him before the show, and at intermission, and posed for lots of fan photos. He looks a lot more relaxed than his days on The Americans.

 

IMG_5556

If you are interested, I wrote an article I posted on Linkedin about how I think the scales of college admissions can be un-tipped. Working in the field has given me a birds-eye view into its inherent inequities, and I have a few ideas about how to fix them.

Saturday was such a spring tease. I am more than ready for the real thing.

Have fun. Be bold.

IMG_5572

I’m Still Standing

When you wake up on Tuesday with a substantial hangover, you know it’s going to be a long week. But when friends from California arrive for spring break, you don’t stay home just because it’s a Monday. We started the night with cocktails at the George Washington bar at the Freehand Hotel where they were staying. They make a lovely French 75.

IMG_5378

A few drinks later, we dashed down to the village for a bottle of bubbles at Air’s Champagne Parlor before going downstairs for an 8:30 seating at Tokyo Record Bar. It’s always nice in a big city like NY, to feel welcomed and included and the folks at these two locales always make us feel that way. We are so excited to try their latest food and wine experience at the newly opened Niche Niche billed as a “dinner party with friends.” We have reservations on the 29th!

Wednesday night was the Bronx Letters Foundation annual chef tasting event. It was an incredible night. If you weren’t able to attend this year, please consider joining us next year! It was so great to be surrounded by so many friends!

Thursday morning was a little rough going, and it made it all the more challenging by a promise I made to my friend Hilary to go to the Peloton Studio to take my first ride. n.b. I don’t enjoy working out, and the last thing I thought I would ever do is try and attempt to work out while pedaling a bike. I was overjoyed when it was over, and I’ll admit I didn’t hate it. The workout was led by Ally Love who magically appeared in the Sunday New York Times yesterday. Now I know what she’s doing when she’s not sweating on a bike. I did enjoy the post-workout treat at Chanson. The thing about NYC is that there are so many fabulous places you can easily walk by them without knowing what’s inside. Such was the case with Chanson until I saw pictures of their magical Black Sesame Kouign Amann on Instagram. I wish I kept on walking; they are that good. Now I’ll have to avoid that part of 23rd street.

IMG_5410

The peloton workout was the beginning of our “day of wellness.” After showers, we had an incredible lunch at abcV which is as beautiful as it is delicious. From there we went to my favorite stretch’d and finished up with a face massage at facelove. A face massage is just what it sounds like and is all the best parts of a body massage without having to get undressed. Just don’t make plans afterward because your hair will look like you’ve been rolling around in bed all afternoon.

Friday night, Tom and I went to see Elton at Barclay’s. He sang for 2 1/2 hours and took me down the yellow brick road of my life. I first saw Elton as a 15-year-old at his free concert in Central Park. I was young, wild and free and I’ll never forget what it felt like to dance in Sheeps Meadow surrounded by my best friends and hundreds of thousands of others. The next time I saw Elton was in 1998 at MSG. Tom and I took Thomas (age 8) and Hayden (age 4). So to return as an emtpy nester was both beautiful and bittersweet.

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 9.14.58 AM
Elton in Central Park in 1980 in the now famous duck suit created by Bob Mackie.

We ate a quick pre-show dinner at the new Gupshup in Gramercy. Fans of high-end Indian and craft cocktails will enjoy this new addition to the neighborhood. The food was good, and so was my drink, but it’s expensive, and only a ten minute walk from Little India…

Tom and I went for a long walk Saturday up the Highline to see the progress at Hudson Yards. We have tickets to climb the Vessel on opening day (March 23rd). The tickets are free, and you can reserve them here. We were hungry and had no plans for brunch, so we took advantage of our way west location and stopped in at the Chelsea branch of Sullivan Street Bakery. This bakery, originally located in Soho, has been around for almost 20 years and there are several reasons why – including these insane Bomboloni (aka donuts).

IMG_5463

Saturday night I spent with two of my kids waiting at our apartment for my youngest Annie to land from spring break. We had plans to go for a late night early birthday dinner downstairs at Gramercy Tavern, but unfortunately, due to severe flight delays, she didn’t arrive until after they stopped serving at midnight. Our Saturday night dinner turned into Sunday brunch. Gramercy Tavern is a great place to celebrate anything. It just feels special when you walk in, and the service is very attentive. I loved the little coconut cake they brought for Annie’s birthday. It wasn’t something I pre-ordered, I just let them know we were celebrating when we arrived, and they asked for her name. Now that’s excellent service.

8A7E66DB-5C2A-4966-A4B8-B8872F999D39

I am looking forward to this coming Friday and our tickets to see Burn This. With Adam Driver and Russell in the lead roles, it is going to be a HOT ticket!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

New Monkey Suit Seen In NYC

IMG_5339Could this $139 coat from Amazon spell the end of the de riguer Canada Goose on the slushy streets of NYC? Will I no longer feel like I’m surrounded by an army of high-priced soldiers? The creative and bold fashion statements seen during all other seasons in the city are scarce in February. But, hope springs eternal! There is a new kid in town – and it’s priced for the masses. Due to this post last spring in New York Magazine, they are everywhere this winter, and they come in lots of great looking colors. And I’ve heard they are super warm. Function and form for less than $150. I love it!

I was in the Bronx this week visiting The Bronx Academy of Letters the public school that  I’ve been on the board of for many years. I finally got to go for lunch at La Morada. If you want an authentic Mexican meal, I highly recommend the trip. Everything about the place feels like you are walking into a local spot in Mexico City. We ordered several dishes and shared. If you go, don’t leave without ordering one of their seven different mole dishes.

Continuing on the topic of good food, a new Israeli place opened a few minutes walk from Union Square called Mint Kitchen. It’s the same format as a SweetGreens where you place your order, and they call you when it’s ready – so an excellent option for a quick, reasonable, delicious meal. I ordered the Kibbutz salad with a side order of green falafel, and it was incredible. I want to return for the falafel-crusted salmon that looked divine.

IMG_5323

And on a last foodie note, Sugarfish has opened its second spot in NYC – this one in Soho. Heres hoping the lines at the original (on my block) get a bit smaller due to the new location.

I was back at the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library this week as I’ve decided to try once again to find an agent for my middle-grade novel. I do my best work within these hallowed walls. They also have an incredible gift shop (I love a great gift shop, especially at institutions such as this.)

IMG_5317

Speaking of books, I think I might need to buy this one. I saw it on the “Just Released” table at Barnes and Noble. Seems timely and necessary.

IMG_5351

I’m incredibly excited for the week ahead as I’ll be spending it with my very good friend Napanista. She’s in town from Napa with her family for spring break, and we have a ton of fun things planned. Starting with Sunday brunch at Union Square Cafe and dinner Monday night at Tokyo Record Bar. I am thrilled that they’ll be joining me at the Chefs Tasting benefit for Bronx Letters Wednesday night, with host Eric Ripert, honoring the life of Anthony Bourdain. A few tickets are still available here.

And on a final note, just wanted to recommend one book and one movie. I read a lot and watch a lot, but don’t endorse a lot. These should be at the top of your lists.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Living La Vie En Rose!

sara

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American.”

I’m pretty sure he could have been talking about the American expat writer,  Sara Lieberman. Sara came to live in Paris almost on a whim, which I think is just the best way to move to Paris. The story goes (and I may get some of the details wrong because she told it to me over several glasses of wine), that after wrapping up a year in London writing for UK’s most-read Sunday glossy Fabulous, she went to Paris to visit friends, had one of those once in a lifetime nights on the town, came home, and typed into her Facebook page, “I’m moving to Paris.” When she woke the next day to many, many excited comments from friends and family, she decided it was destiny. That was over three apartments ago.

IMG_4711
Me and Sara only a few hours after arriving in Paris (my justification for how I look in this picture).

I got to meet Sara this past January while on a spontaneous trip to the city of light. We happen to have a good friend in common, and so when I emailed asking if we could sit down over a glass of wine and talk, she said yes. I’ve been an online fan of Sara’s bi-weekly newsletter, Overthinking It for a while, and I’ve always felt that if we met in real life, we’d be fast friends, and I was right! Her writing voice is completely authentic to who she is in person.

If you aren’t acquainted with her newsletter, which you absolutely should be (click on the link above to sign up), odds are you have read her writing in some of the best magazines and newspapers around the globe. If you’ve used Google to find information about visiting Paris concerning style, food, beauty, fashion, nightlife, pop culture or entertainment, you’ve “met” Sara. You can read some of her best pieces here.

I love Paris. It is the first city in Europe I chose to visit when I was 18, it was the city I studied abroad in, and it was where I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. If I die without ever living there, it will be one of my regrets. So having the opportunity to speak to a fellow writer, New Yorker, and expat was a thrill. Here is a smattering of some of the soundbites from our conversation…

“In Paris, you’ll always have to ask for a menu, a glass of water, to order, and for a bill.”

“Dairy is very confusing. The cheese and the yogurt have so many complexities.”

“Paris is actually affordable, more than NYC. Utilities are low, and you can have a great three-course meal for 20 euro with tax and tip included.”

“For first-time visitors, planning is everything. You can’t just pop in anywhere and expect to get a good meal. You need to do your research. You are not going to get that amazing cup of coffee or the unforgettable steak frites at any terrace on the street. Make reservations, and know when places are open and closed.”

“Walk or take the bus and look around.”

“Take a risk. Find a new neighborhood. Stay somewhere new.”

“Paris is small, much smaller than NYC. First, cut the city into left and right. Going across banks by public transport is not easy, and requires a transfer.”

As an ex-expat, I asked Sara what she missed about living away from home.

“Bagels, pizza. I’ve had good pizza here, but it’s more of a restaurant outing and not a snack like in NYC. I miss the idea of the customer always being right. The French have not figured out customer service, and they say no a lot. Returns are always an issue. They are big into their policies, so always check them out before making a purchase.”

Sara’s blog is called Overthinking It, and I asked her why?

“I’m a bad decision maker. Part of me is super shameless, and I tend to overshare about everything, but on the same level, I’m conscious of what people think of me, and that makes me overthink.”

Her last words…

“When visiting try to plan less, let things happen more. Because sometimes the best nights are when you have no plans.”

I texted Sara throughout my stay, and she recommended some of my new favorites places like Ellsworth, a real gem. When I asked for an authentic brasserie, she suggested Bofinger, and it was exactly what I was looking for. She was so on point, I asked if she ever did bespoke, customized experiences for curious, adventurous travelers, and she said to send them her way. So if you are interested in an insider scoop through the lens of a seasoned New Yorker, consider hiring Sara. She can be reached at me@saralieberman.com. 

Merci mon ami!

Have fun. Be Bold.

 

 

 

What’s The Story?

IMG_4587I love stories. I spend a lot of my time either telling them or trying to get others to tell theirs (in 650 words or less) in their college application essays (shameless plug). I remember the low-tech days of yesteryear fondly, unfurling the knots in the extremely long phone cord, dragging it through the kitchen, down the stairs, and into my room. The best stories were swapped holding that hard piece of plastic to my ear, with nothing else to take my focus away. And I think that with all the ways we have to distract ourselves today, personally told stories are even more critical than ever. They take time and care to craft and tell well, and they require the focus and attention of others. If you have a story to tell, I want to hear it. Last Friday night, I sat in a little quiet nook at the Yale Club and told my story to Kim Berns for her new podcast, What’s The Story with Kim Berns  available on iTunes (although my episode is not up yet). We talked about what it’s like to pivot at a certain age and find fulfillment by taking an unexpected path. We spoke non-stop for about twenty minutes, and then I earned my fee; a well-made Tanqueray and Tonic.

IMG_5020

I was able to sneak in a quick Broadway show with Toni on Wednesday. We saw A Choir Boy, which we both thought was fantastic. It’s a 2 hour, no intermission drama, but it’s also got great music due to the subject matter. And even though the play is twenty years old, it is still extremely relevant, sadly, today.

Did I mention I have a sister who’s a vegan? She’s been opening my eyes to a culinary world where you can’t cook with anything that makes food taste good. We met for lunch at Nix, which boasts a brand new shiny Michelin star. I took a picture of the gorgeous beet salad with quinoa, but the real star of my meal was the mushroom veloute that was so creamy I wanted to go back into the kitchen and have them prove it was vegan.

IMG_5025

I took my first yoga class at Humming Puppy. We can all agree the name is ridiculous. I’m even embarrassed typing it, but the experience was nothing to laugh at. It’s a new way to yoga, brought to you from Australia. The main difference between this yoga studio and all others is the humming. Throughout the practice, there is a constant hum in the room that comes from surround sound speakers. It sounds like the tones made from Buddhist temple bowls. Something like this. I will return, but it won’t be my go-to spot due to the temperature in the studio. Women going through menopause have no business doing yoga in 80-degree rooms.

I’m always keeping an eye out for a fun, casual restaurant on the Upper East Side with decent food, as most of my friends live up there, and I feel bad always recommending restaurants downtown. Last week I went with friends to The Writing Room. I chose it because of its hugely storied literary past (as in Billy Joe’s song Big Shot “…they were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s…”). There was a great buzz in the room, it was packed, and the food was really good. I’ll keep it on my short UES list.

Saturday we killed two little birds with one round-trip Amtrak. My oldest son was in Philly visiting his girlfriend at med school, and my youngest goes to Penn. Tom and I got on a late morning train, arrived in Philly 1 hour and 15 mins later, just in time for an incredible brunch at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown. The restaurant is located in an old rye whiskey distillery and has four extremely cool hotel rooms upstairs. I am already planning on renting these rooms for Annie’s graduation in a few years. Sshhhh don’t tell anyone with a sophomore at Penn. The food was fantastic, and after we ate, we moved to the couches in front of the wood burning fire for coffee.

We had some time to kill before the next meal, so we walked up Frankford Avenue which is one of the main streets in the Fishtown neighborhood. This street looks so freshly gentrified, it’s almost as if the paint is still wet.

IMG_5043-1

There are a number of fun restaurants and bars and an inordinate amount of vintage clothing stores, all carefully curated to the point where you don’t know if the clothes are new or used. Here are a few we stopped into: Two Percent To GloryJinxed, and Urban Exchange. We also passed at least two open breweries on our way up the road. From there we ubered to another fun neighborhood, Queen Village. We started with happy hour cocktails at Tatooed Mom, a place we all loved. From there we walked to Hungry Pigeon a restaurant that has been on my radar, and I was excited to get a reservation (albeit 5:15). The menu is small, and is meant to be shared family style. We sat at this beautiful communal table and enjoyed everything we ordered.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 5.43.55 PM

But I want to return for lasagne season. You need to pre-reserve with 24 hours notice. You get your own lasagne (classic bolognese or vegetarian) with a few accompaniements for $80 PER ORDER. It feeds 4-6 people or 2 who like leftovers. I’m intrigued.

I love Philly, and I’m grateful that I get to continue to explore it over the next 2.5 years while visiting my daughter. It’s a city of neighborhoods and stories – my favorite kind of city.

Have fun. Be bold.