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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

EmptynestNYC Fall Preview!

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What are you watching? Where are you eating? What Broadway show do I have to get tickets to? What about fun fall festivals? 

Do you have any of these questions? If so, I’ve got answers! I love a good fall preview so I thought I’d share all the things I’m so excited about BEFORE I actually do them!

Let’s start with TV…fire up the DVR!

Season premiere dates of my regular favorites that need no explanation:

Grey’s 9/27

Poldark 9/30 

Will and Grace 10/4

The Man in the High Castle 10/5

Madam Secretary 10/7

House of Cards 11/2

               New Shows I’m interested in:

The Romanoffs 10/12 – Stories of people around the world who believe they are descendants of the Russian royal family.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 10/26 – Supernatural television series based on the comic book series of the same name. Starring Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men.

Maniac  09/21 – Mini-series starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux and Sally Field

A Million Little Things 09/26 – A group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances. Some have achieved success, others are struggling in their careers and relationships, but all of them feel stuck in life.

Single Parents 9/26 – Single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood.

And Now the Big Screen

#1 A Star is Born – I don’t care if it’s the 5th remake. Bring on Bradley Cooper and Lady GaGa

Green Book (Viggo Mortensen)

Bohemian Rhapsody (Rami Malek)

The Old Man and the Gun (the last film with Robert Redford)

Beautiful Boy (Timothee Chalamet)

First Man (Ryan Gosling)

I see a theme emerging…

Books I Want On My Kindle

Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Transcription (Kate Atkinson)

Melmoth (Sarah Perry)

Nine Perfect Strangers (Liane Moriarity)

Lake Success (Gary Shteyngart)

 

Broadway Bound

Tickets I’ve secured: 

The Cher Show

Be More Chill (off Broadway and on Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy

The Lifespan of a Fact

To Kill A Mockingbird

Ticket’s I’ve yet to buy, but are on my To Do List:

True West with Ethan Hawke

Burn This (Adam Driver and Keri Russell)

I’m Hungry…Where I’ll Be Eating This Fall

Misi (New place in Domino Park by owners of Lilia – already impossible to get in)

Pisellino – Same owners of Via Carota, I Sodi and Buvette

Zauo – Fish for your dinner from a wooden boat in a moat below. You can grill it, tempura fry it or sushi it. I’ve been in Japan. You literally can’t get fresher fish.

Leonti – Famed Philadelphia Chef Adam Leonti’s first NYC spot – Pasta and homemade breads

La Rossa in Soho – Roman style pizza sold by slice and weight

Japan Village (Eataly but for Japanese Food in Industry City)

It’s A Gorgeous Fall Day – What Should I Do?

Why not go to a festival?

San Gennaro in Little Italy until September 23rd. One of the best festivals in town.

Atlantic Antic 9/23 in Brooklyn 

Tribeca TV Festival 9/20-23

Food Film Festival 10/19-22 (all proceeds from Ticket Sales go to the Bronx Academy of Letters in Anthony Bourdain’s name)

Other Fun Fall Activities

The Color Factory 9/13 – 9/30 

Pink: The History of Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color at FIT Museum (until Jan 5th) 

NYC Ballet Fall Season 9/18-10/14 (I’m going on 9/28)

The Vendy Awards on Governor’s Island 9/22 (street vendor awards)

Halloween parade in the West Village 10/31

Open House New York, 10/12–14 that marks your chance to see the inner workings of structures sometimes off-limits. Unusual places like La Guardia’s Marine Air Terminal and the super-futuristic looking Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant have been part of past programs.

Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again at the Whitney Museum

Exhibition covering the origins, music and influence of the Velvet Underground, due in the West Village in October

Would love to hear what you’re up to! What am I missing?

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.

 

I’m Not Feeling It

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I’ve been looking for my next big thing since January, and it’s been quite the learning experience. First was the resume creation, which in and of itself was humbling; you have to come face to face with what you’ve actually been doing (and sometimes not doing) over the course of your so-called life. Next up was asking the actual question – What is it you really want to do? That question stopped me where I stood, and to this day it’s an evolving answer. And then there was the dreaded headshot for the Linkedin profile. The woman who worked on my resume recommended I upload a few photos to the crowdsourcing website Photofeeler  The big idea behind the site is that you upload a picture (you specify whether it will be used for social purposes (dating) or professional (getting a job)). Then, other users give their honest opinions of your picture. The first photo I uploaded was me smiling right at the camera.

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This picture yielded comments like “Would prefer if they were smiling a bit less,” and “I think it would be better as a social picture.” My likable score was 82%! But my influential score was 25%. Not great for getting a job. I uploaded a new pic.

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“They seem a little arrogant.” My likable score dropped to 51%! My influential score was now a whopping 45%. I didn’t use either and opted to upload a professional photo I used for a weekly column I wrote several years ago. The problem was, it wasn’t representative of how I felt about myself today. So, when the opportunity for free headshots presented itself, I jumped! The photographer would take headshots for free in return for helping out with the promotion of a new book (more on that in another blog entry). The picture was taken in a Soho coffee shop during the weekday morning buzz and chatter. I was completely mortified, and as a result, the muscles in my face decided to play games. It was an embarrassing 15 minutes, but I’m happy with the results. This looks and feels more like me today.

Ok, enough. Let’s talk food and fun. This week I struck gold while walking in the West Village. Tom and I passed by a cute little Thai spot with a sign out front that said Garden Open. The food was so authentic at Pinto Garden, and the garden was lovely, I made reservations for dinner in a few weeks. And if you are a banana pudding fan, all I can say is that it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten. And it comes in a Chinese takeout container. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Just go.

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I ate ramen twice this week. Once at Ivan Ramen. I met Ivan Orkin in Tokyo and first ate his unique style of ramen in Japan. I enjoyed his spicy bowl of noodles on the LES and will return to try more of the menu. I find it very funny that you can make a reservation at a ramen shop. I’m sure anyone from Japan would agree.

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The second bowl I ate was the Tan Tan Men at Naruto Ramen. Tan tan is my favorite type of ramen, and yet it’s not often found at NYC ramen shops. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

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I enjoy spending time with people decades older than me because they are wise and have no filter – which makes the conversation both enlightening and entertaining. That is exactly the way I felt sitting in the 92nd Street Y audience listening to Iris Apfel talk about her new book. She’s 96 and smart as a whip. Her memory is sharper than mine, and her life, especially the last fifteen years, is inspirational. I left the theater with renewed energy and a few added items on my personal to-do list. One of her quips I just love, “If you’re not interested, you’re not interesting.”

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Extra things I did this week: Saw Saint Joan on Broadway (I would PASS). Finally saw Come From Away (Amazing. I want to go again). Emptied my closets and stored eight large cartons of my kid’s memorabilia at Manhattan Mini Storage which felt great. The clerk asked if I had insurance for my possessions. I told her they were both worthless and priceless and completely uninsurable. I also don’t plan to see them again. I put the names of my two oldest children down on the list of people who can access my storage locker. I’ll make sure to put the keys and the address in my will. It feels good to purge.

This is me up on the ladder very early Saturday morning trying to figure out the lock.

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My empty nest is about to get a hell of a lot less empty with the return of my two college kids this week. I’m going to stock up at Morton and Williams Liquor.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

 

I Do.

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One of the things I love about living in NYC is that at some point, friends who live far and wide arrive for one reason or another (this week it was a Haiku event, college tours and a 50th birthday). These short, but oh so sweet meetups are the best excuse for dining out and drinking on weekdays. And this week was no exception. There was a dinner at Nur which is always a dining experience. The chef is Israeli, and the dishes are exotic. They use ingredients that I’ve never heard of, so it makes eating here an adventure. Make sure to book ahead (way ahead). Moving from the Middle East to the Far East, our group had a delicious meal at Atoboy a newish Korean restaurant from an adorable young Korean couple who are about to open another restaurant, Atomix this spring. This is the perfect place to go with a group (they max out at 6), but the menu is divided into three sections, and each person chooses one from each group. Go with six people, and you can order one of everything on the menu and share.

Thursday happy hour found me at Mari Vanna an authentic Russian restaurant across the street from my apartment. You can sit at the bar and enjoy their blinis and caviar for $14 (it’s much more expensive at dinner). They also make a mean lychee martini.

Friday night, Tom and I went to see Carousel on Broadway. The opening is still a week away, but the theater was packed and on their feet for the curtain calls. Jessie Mueller (Beautiful, Waitress) and Joshua Henry (Aaron Burr in the first US tour of Hamilton) are superb. The dancing is just as good as the singing, and the young girl who plays their daughter is also a soloist in the New York City ballet, and this is her Broadway debut. That being said, the show is incredibly sexist, and I found it unsettling. When Billy Bigelow dies, I wanted to scream “Yes! You’re better off without him!” I know this show has been revived many times on Broadway, but in today’s #metoo world, it just doesn’t hold up; in fact, it’s insulting.

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Weekend brunch was at Left Bank a recommendation from a friend. It’s far west Soho, in a really cute neighborhood that I don’t often find myself. The restaurant had a great vibe, warm, and inviting, and I wanted to order one of everything on the menu. Their brunch offerings go outside the norm, with choices like sweet or savory Dutch Baby (see below), and pot roast, eggs, and potato latkes. I will return.

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Saturday night Tom and I sat in a candlelit place of worship watching as two young, fresh people said I do. I adore everything about weddings. The pomp, the circumstance, the toasts, the overflowing champagne, and of course the love. There is no other event in life where the star of the show is love.

As I write the last few sentences of this blog, the sun is streaming through my windows (reminding me to call the cleaner). It’s been a long and cold winter, but with daylight savings today, I can almost feel spring in the air. It makes me want to start making a list of all the outdoor cafes and rooftops bars I need to visit!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

The City Never Sleeps Better Slip You An Ambien

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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.

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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.