Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us And Wants Us To Be Happy


Or so Benjamin Franklin reportedly said–and I agree. It’s finally Memorial Day weekend, and after throwing on a pair of shorts and flip-flops, the first thing most people do is grab a beer. Luckily, North Square’s beer sommelier, Pamela Amatucci, has just finished lightening and brightening up the restaurant’s draft beer options to fit the season.

The first is Brooklyn Summer Ale, rightfully named for its sunny disposition. As a light dinner ale and a true session beer, Brooklyn Summer has a lower alcohol content (so you can keep drinking all night without making a fool of yourself), plus a clean, crisp flavor that will complement just about any food choice. Pamela suggests pairing it with our lounge’s sirloin burger or the dining room’s filet mignon au poivre. The combination will evoke memories of backyard barbecues and relaxing summer evenings–a great way to ring in the summer.

For a selection with more of a bite that won’t overpower your palate, Pamela suggests Lagunitas India Pale Ale from California. This brew offers a refreshing mouthfeel with a hoppy finish that is a nice accompaniment to the flavors of your meal without overpowering it with bitterness. In the lounge, pair the ale with wild mushroom ravioli, or try it with the sausage plate in the dining room.

For those of you who love a Blue Moon in the summer, we have a creative selection for you: Singlecut White Lagrrr, brewed in Astoria. This is a unique twist on a wheat ale, turning the bottom-fermented lager into a brew reminiscent of a saison (farmhouse ale) by adding matzo to thicken the mouthfeel. Unlike most wheat beers, this has subtle grapefruit notes and a body light enough to keep drinking. Enjoy it with a key lime pie in our lounge, or seared tuna with coconut rice in the dining room.

Have a fun-filled Memorial Day Weekend! Try and stop in and check these beers out!



Rock Rock Rockaway Beach


Bronzed bodies sprawled on blankets and shaggy-haired surfers catching a wave aren’t images that automatically pop in your head when you think about New York City. But yes, people, we do have real, honest-to-God mounds of sand and surf right here in the five boroughs. We’re not trying to pretend that we’re in the same league as Malibu or Maui, but New Yorkers have a handful of beaches that do the trick when a summer break is needed and you don’t want to make that trek all the way out to Long Island.

Coney Island is home to the Cyclone roller coaster, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, the New York Aquarium and, most of all, those infamous Nathan’s hotdogs. Surf Avenue is the site of the original Nathan’s stand, which opened almost a hundred years ago.

Right next door to Coney Island is Brighton Beach, known as “Little Odessa” for its Eastern European shops and restaurants. Head a few blocks away from the boardwalk to Brighton Beach Avenue, where you can pick up a picnic of pirozhki (fried-yeast dough pies with cabbage or meat) or khachapuri (Georgian cheese pastries), or minced-meat kebabs and fish cakes at Gastronom Arkadia.

Manhattan Beach is a family-friendly beach a short walk from Coney Island. Smaller and calmer than Coney Island, the sand is surrounded by playgrounds, baseball fields and volleyball, tennis, basketball and handball courts.

Head out to Rockaway Beach in Queens. Aside from local heroes The Ramones, Rockaway is known primarily for two things. One is that it’s the city’s only legal surfing beach. The second? Tacos! The lines at Rockaway Taco put those at Shake Shack to shame, but the fish tacos are well worth the long wait.

Sing it, boys:





‘Ello Guvnah!


In a prior post on Memorial Day happenings, I mentioned that Governors Island will be opening for the season that weekend. Here’s a little whowhatwhenwherewhy on this cool place:

First of all, what is it? GI is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, right in between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. For almost two centuries it was a military base. In 2003, the feds sold the bulk of the island to New York and voila, we have yet another big, beautiful park.

It’s open weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm and weekends from 10 to 7. Ferries run from Lower Manhattan daily, and from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 on Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day and Labor Day. A mere $2 can get you a round trip; kids under 12 pay zilch and seniors just have to fork over a buck.

Bring your bike! And if you don’t have one, you can rent one there. Free Bike Mornings, a new program this year, allows visitors to borrow a bike for free for up to one hour every weekday between 10 AM and noon.

You can bring your own picnic from the mainland, but frankly, I’d just buy your snacks there because there are plenty of options: picnic food places, Carribean food joints, Philly cheese steaks, ice cream and even a beer garden.

There are special events all summer long, including a Jazz Lawn Party, a badminton competition and musical performances. Check for more info here.


Big Gay Ice Cream


Summer is upon us, which means that it’s time to get ourselves some Big Gay Ice Cream!

You’ve probably heard of The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, which started serving up goodies in Union Square in 2009. It was a huge splash, and was soon followed by two Big Gay Ice Cream Shops, one in the East Village and one here in the West, on Grove St.

The cool thing about this place (other than its name) are the creative flavors. The Salty Pimp is vanilla ice cream with dulce de leche and sea salt dipped in chocolate. The Bea Arthur version replaces the chocolate with crushed vanilla wafers. (It’s about time someone honored Maude in the fashion she so richly deserves, amiright?) The Mexican Affo’gay’to is a spicy hot chocolate with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, cayenne and shaved chocolate.

They also have a bunch of shakes and floats in flavors like chai, ginger curry and chocolate-peanut butter.

Have a great, hopefully ice cream-filled weekend, everyone!


5 Reasons To Spend Memorial Day In NYC


1. Fleet Week is back. Last year the event was called off due to the government sequester. This celebration of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps includes military demonstrations and tours of the visiting ships. It’s particularly fun to watch our service women and men explore the city in their military-issued finest.

2. It’s the 19th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. This event highlights the rich artistry and culturally diversity of the area.  Highlights include a street fair on Saturday afternoon, poetry readings, films, music and performance art.

3. You can attend a concert in a graveyard. The Green-Wood Cemetary in Brooklyn holds a Memorial Day concert from 2:30-5:00 pm by the student-manned ISO Symphonic Band, a wind, brass and percussion ensemble. Works penned by permanent cemetary residents Leonard Bernstein, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Fred Ebb are featured. Just bring a blanket; admission is free and food is available for purchase. Zombies are most welcome.

4. Opening day for Governor’s Island is on Saturday, the 24th. A Family Festival will kick off the season from noon to 4 pm. Music, face painting, compost lessons, carnival games and a chicken tractor (?) will be just some of the activities offered. (I looked it up–it’s a movable chicken coop.)

5. And lastly, New Yorkers love Memorial Day weekend, because all those people flocking to the Hamptons clear out tables for us at in-demand restaurants, shorten lines at museums and other attractions and gives us much-needed personal space on the subways. That, in turn, entitles us to feel smug and in-the-know. And you can, too!





My Chelsea Market Favorites


The Chelsea Market, located in the Meatpacking District, is a favorite destination for food-happy New Yorkers. Not only is it the headquarters of the Food Network Channel, but it’s home to dozens of restaurants and food-centric retail stores.

Bowery Kitchen Supply: You don’t have to be a professional chef to appreciate this store (although many do shop here). They carry everything from half sheet pans to stainless steel work tables to stock pots to smoking guns. They sell tons of gadgets and chef tools that at the very least will make you feel like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen.

Buon Italia is for all things Italian: cheese, pasta, charcuterie, olive oils, polenta…anything you could possibly think of. Everything is of high quality; I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve purchased here. If you’re starving while looking at all the goodies, they’ve got ready-made snacks and pastries for sale to tide you over.

Dickson’s Farmstand sells artisanal lamb, poultry, beef, pork and goat that are all sourced from local farms. Again–the quality is high and the staff can speak knowledgeably on how and where each animal was raised. I drool every time I visit this store. (You can order on-line too.)

Friedman’s Lunch serves the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich with gruyere and white cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and bacon on a grilled ciabbata in the world. Cheat on your diet good. Kill your mama good. So good that I would consider requesting it for my final meal on death row. Yep, that good.

Chelsea Wine Vault sells an impressive array of wines, plus employs a knowledgeable staff that can steer you to the vino of your dreams  in any price point. They also have fun (and reasonably priced) wine tasting classes.

Check it out!


Factory Art


From sugar to art in 132 short years.

The Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg dates from 1882, but the refinery stopped operating in 2004. Today, while the building awaits razing and redevelopment into offices and residential towers, it’s being temporarily used as a home for art projects.

Kara Walker is a multifaceted artist of sculptures, cutouts, drawings and films. Her project, entitled “Subtlety” or “Marvelous Sugar Baby: an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant” will run starting today through July 6th.

Walker’s work has always shined a light on slavery and racism, and as sugar production in the 18th century led to a marked rise in the demand for slaves from Africa, the Domino Sugar Factory is an ideal venue to host her work.

The installment centers on a giant female sphinx composed of sugar. Beside the sphinx are human-scale, 5-foot tall children the color of molasses, based on once-popular porcelain trinkets that featured cherubic slaves toting baskets. Walker’s work is always moving and I can’t wait to see it.

The exhibit runs Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6 p.m. and is free.

If you can’t make this exhibition, try and check out Kara Walker’s art in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!






So this Sunday is Mother’s Day. Of course you’re going to bring yours to North Square so she can stuff her face with yummy food that she didn’t have to lift a finger to cook, right? I thought so.

But what else can you do to make momma feel like #1?

I have three words for you: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate.

Here are some of the best chocolatiers in New York. Be prepared to salivate:

Jacques Torres Chocolate has six locations around the city. (The closest outlet to the hotel is on Hudson Street in Soho.) Champagne truffles, chocolate marshmallows, hot chocolate, cookies and of course those bite-into-them-to-find-out-what-they-are boxes of chocolates are just a few of the offerings. If you really love your mom, and you have the bucks to splurge, you can spring for the 12 Months of Chocolate package, in which mama receives chocolates personally selected by Jacques every month for a year.

Kee’s Chocolates also has several locations, and their chocolates are all hand-made. They’ve got dark chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars and over a dozen varieties of macaroons. (The blood orange with green tea one sounds insane.)

L.A. Burdick, in the Flatiron district, hails from New Hampshire. Bon bons, bars, dipped caramels, truffles…plus tiny chocolate mice and penguins which are even cuter than you’d think they would be.

MarieBelle is right a short walk away from us in Soho. Crunchy bark chocolates with almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts. Small chocolate bars wrapped in 1940′s Vargas pin-up girl packages. Plus their Brown Box, an assortment of fleur de sel, coffee, dark chocolate and milk flavors. Even Joan Crawford would be satisfied.

Enjoy your time with Mom! And if you’re the one being celebrated, have a wonderful day!


Roses Are Red


Violets are blue
Check out this list of poetry venues
Compiled just for you!

Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, on East 3rd Street, prides itself on being a multicultural institution.Their mission statement? “The Cafe champions the use of poetry, jazz, theater, hip hop and spoken word as means of social empowerment for minority and underprivileged artists.”

The Bowery Poetry Club prides itself on hosting edgy, emerging performers and feels that the advancement of the arts is a necessity if society is to ever progress.

Penny’s Open Mic under the St. Mark’s Theater is another place to find eclectic performers every Tuesday from 9 pm to 2 am. Spoken word artists, musicians, even comedians ensure that each week’s show is different and exciting in its own right.

And rest assured, this blogger will not be participating at any of these places. You’re welcome.