S.W.A.K.

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and Chef Yoel Cruz, romantic fellow that he is, has prepared a scrumptious, four-course prix fixe dinner for $55. That’s 55 bucks for four courses in New York City. Prepared by Chef Cruz. I dare you to find a better value.

First courses include oysters, mini lobster and crab cakes and corn blini with cured salmon, roasted peppers and dill creme fraiche.

The next round features a roasted beet salad, porcini dusted quail with a black truffle sauce, tuna tartare and lobster bisque.

Mains include filet mignon au poivre, roasted pekin dust breast, seared venison, tortilla crusted halibut and herb crusted rack of lamb (my fave).

Consulting Pastry Chef Alana Ford has put together a yummy chocolate pecan pie,  pistachio creme brulee, key lime pie and spiced bread pudding and an insane chocolate strawberry mousse cake. That’s right: Chocolate. Strawberry. Mousse. Cake.

We love you and want you to spend the evening with us! Click here to make reservations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

CHEF YOEL CRUZ

 

CONSULTING PASTRY CHEF ALANA FORD

 

I Hate Football. So What Now?

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Not a football fan? Frankly, neither am I. So I’m going to avoid the Super Bowl hooplah and do something (anything) that doesn’t involve watching large men hugging oval-shaped balls and tackling each other. Here are a few of my choices:

The Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival starts at 1 p.m. in Little Italy and makes its way through the streets of lower Manhattan and Chinatown. The hub of the whole party is at Sara Roosevelt Park at Grand and Forsyte Streets; there will be plenty of vendors, food and otherwise, catering to people of all ages.

The Morgan has an exhibit dedicated to The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beautiful and philosophical story in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The Little Prince: A New York Story examines the relationship between this charming book and our fair city, where much of it was written. The display also features the author’s only surviving handwritten draft.

Sunday is the final day to catch the Harlem Fine Arts Show at Riverside Church. (The exhibition runs all weekend.) This year’s show focuses on Martha’s Vineyard and features over 100 emerging and established artists from the island.

It’s Ground Hog Day! If you’re an early riser, head to the Staten Island Zoo at 7:30 a.m. and catch Chuck the Groundhog’s winter prediction. You can stay and have breakfast with him too if you’re so inclined. Or you can do what I would do and sleep in, then catch a screening of the movie Groundhog Day at noon at the Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg’s brunch screening.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Happy New Year! So What’s For Dinner?

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The Chinese New Year will be this Friday, the 31st. It’s the Year of the Horse, folks! Those born in the spirit of the horse are recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves; they’re energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.

Now you know. You’re welcome.

We love our Chinese pals, not just because of their cuisine, but, come on, the food is awesome! True, some people think that New Yorkers only order in their Hunan favorites, but that’s a fallacy. We do actually venture out of our homes from time to time for our favorite Cantonese or Szechuan dishes. Here are some of the best places to chow down:

Joe’s Shanghai is the go-to joint for soup dumplings. Yummy dough-balls filled with pork or crab and soup (yes, that’s inside the dough) couldn’t ever be bad, right? There are three branches: Chinatown, Flushing, Queens and Midtown. (I’d go to the Chinatown or Flushing–I’ve heard that the Midtown location is lacking.)

RedFarm: There are now two locations of this restaurant–one in the Village and one on the Upper West Side. RedFarm brings a green market sensibility to its dim sum and other specialties. It’s a little more expensive than usual Chinese fare, but truly worth it.

Prosperity Dumpling is a tiny shop on the Lower East Side that serves terrific dim sum. And it’s cheap! Dumplings are $1-$2, a pork fried bun is a buck and a sesame pancake is a whopping 50 cents!

Lotus Blue on Reade Street is a cocktail lounge that features food from the Yunnan province in China. Food from that region is spicy and features lots of mushrooms, and, believe it or not, flowers.

Sheng Wang, downtown at 27 Eldridge by Canal, is where you need to go for fresh, hand-pulled noodles. A filling bowl of noodles with a protein of your choice will only set you back about 5 dollars.

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 

 

Up, Up and Away

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File this one under Things That This Blogger Will Tell You About But Is Too Damn Scared To Do Herself:

The Trapeze School of New York specializes in multi-level classes in the aerial arts, i.e. flying trapeze, static trapeze (where the bars and ropes don’t sway), trampolines, silks (where students practice acrobatics dangling on a piece of silk), and lyra (in which one performs all the same drops, hangs and movements that a trapeze artist does on a hoop–H-O-O-P).

All fear aside, this looks like a lot of fun–and relatively safe fun–for our non-acrophobic friends. The classes cost between $40 and $70 and last one hour, with a limit of ten students per session. (Buy a block and you’ll get a discount.)  During the winter, instruction is indoor but outdoor classes are added in the warmer months.

And yeah, kids can do it, too. The minimum age is only six!

Check it out:

 

 

Winter Jam NYC

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If you love the cold weather and all the outdoor activities that go along with it, head to Central Park tomorrow and take part in the Winter Jam, a free winter sports festival right here in the middle of Manhattan.

There will be sledding and cross country skiing and snowshoeing. (I’ve always wanted to do that. Basically because if you fall, you most likely won’t break anything, right?) There will also be lessons in skiing and snowboarding. You can bring your own equipment if you like, but there will be some available to use at no cost.

Doggie lovers should note that the event is partially sponsored by Iams, so there will be a canine salon and spa, where your pooch can get a free grooming and trim. And a Tail-gate cafe for snacks. (Get it?)

Funny enough, the Parks Dept. was spraying the area with manufactured snow when the storm hit this week–so ultimately we’ve got double the flakes!

The party lasts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enter Central Park at 72nd street and head to the Bandshell area–I’m sure you’ll see it right away.

And if you do go, please try to help those in need and bring a new or gently-used coat to donate to the New York Cares Coat Drive.

Have a great weekend!

Grab Your Sleds!

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So you’re in the city, it’s crazy cold and Mama Nature has just dumped a foot of the white stuff on the ground. What do you do?

Get thee a sled! Here are a few of the best slopes to whoosh down in our parks:

Central Park: Pilgrim Hill, which you’ll find if you enter at 72nd and 5th, is the most popular spot. But be prepared for crowds. The tiniest sledders would probably be better off at Cedar Hill, at Fifth Avenue between 76th and 79th Streets.

Riverside Park: Thrill-seekers will love the steep slope at Riverside and 91st Street–often referred to as “Suicide Hill”. Hay bales situated at the bottom help cushion the blow. (There’s also another great hill in the park by 103rd Street.)

Morningside Park: Head up to the hill at Morningside Drive and 115th Street and hang with the Columbia University kids. We used to use cafeteria trays back in the day–do you suppose they still do? (My guess is that some things never change.)

Enjoy the snow day!

Y? Because It’s Awesome

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I want to let anyone coming to the city know about the 92nd Street Y, or as it’s officially known, the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, or the YM-YWHA. (Got that?).

Its proper name may be a mouthful, but this Y is the Bentley of Y’s. New Yorkers in the know regularly attend classes, lectures, concerts, dance performances and literary readings. We in the city are bargain hunters; we appreciate when we can get a big dollop of culture for a reasonable cost. The Y is a non-profit and its prices reflect that.

But visitors can also take advantage of the programs and events! Here’s just a little taste of what’s on deck in the next few weeks alone:

  • Literary readings by Elizabeth Gilbert and Isabel Allende.
  • A class on how to really make it in voice-over work.
  • An evening concert featuring the music of Russia.
  • A lecture by America’s doctor, Dr. Oz.
  • A performance by the American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, formerly ABT II, a classical ensemble made up of 12 up-and-coming dancers of outstanding potential.
  • A class on the world of Sicilian wine.
  • Plus It was 50 Years Ago Today…Celebrating 50 Years of The Beatles in the USA, an intimate conversation with some of The Beatles’ closest pals.

See? A little something for everyone. Check it out!

 

 

Take A Stroll Down Thompson Street

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Thompson Street runs from Washington Square South through the Village and Soho and is a lovely and active route to amble down on a sunny day. Previous residents include the late Frank Zappa at #180, plus various Bonnano and Genovese family members. (I’d tell you where they lived, but…)

Start at Kee’s Chocolates at #80. Their incredible handmade chocolates and macaroons will give you energy for your journey.

INA, at #101, is a designer consignment store. Drop in and see if you’re interested in someone else’s hand-me-downs, or bring our own older designer duds. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. (Isn’t that the saying?) But the trash here is high-class trash, got it? Plus INA recently produced its own line of women and men’s clothing.

The Hat Shop at #120 sells chapeaus both fancy and functional.

ZZ’s Clam Bar, at #169, is for all things seafood: a raw bar, ceviches, carpaccio… think of a way you like your fish prepared and I’m sure they do it.

Beer fans will love The Malt House gastropub at #206. They’ll help you pair their extensive brands of micro-brews on tap with their yummy comfort food.

Generations Records at #210 sells…records. (Remember them?) They have an extensive metal and punk collection and frequent live in-store performances.

The Chess Forum at #219 sells beautiful chess sets at all price points, plus chess-related items, like clocks and tournament supplies.

Speaking of games,The Uncommons at #230, describes itself as, “Manhattan’s first and only play cafe.” Sip a warm cup of coffee or tea while you obliterate your opponent at Checkers, Clue, Backgammon, Monopoly, Pictionary or practically any other game you can think of.

And for the kids? Vesuvio Playground, formerly known as Thompson Playground (the new moniker was taken from the popular Italian bakery on nearby Prince Street) is between Spring and Prince.

Happy strolling!

 

 

 

Super Bowl XLVIII

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When:  Sunday, February 2nd. Kick-off is at 6:25 p.m.

Where:  MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. An easy train ride from Manhattan.

Who:  Dunno the teams yet, but the half-time show will feature the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars.

In addition, there are lots of crazy things happening on a created-just-for-the-event Superbowl Boulevard, along Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets on the week leading up to the competition, including autograph sessions with players, getting your picture taken with the Vince Lombardi trophy, and–oddly enough–a toboggan run.

If you don’t have tickets to the big game and are a football fan, there are hundreds of bars around town that will be broadcasting the event. Special (although generally costly) viewing parties have been set up at some nightlife venues. A cheaper alternative is grabbing a $4 beer at local pub Fiddlesticks or oyster bar and seafood shack Ditch Plains.

But hey–if you aren’t a football fan, come hang in the lounge with us! We promise that It will be warm, there will be no TV blaring and no one with a painted face will be pounding their chest and screaming. (And if I do, you can just politely ask me to cut it out.)