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!


Get Your Freak On


Okay, I know that it SNOWED last night. (Seriously, Mother Nature? COME ON.) But here’s a sure sign that summer is no-kidding-really-truly coming right around the corner: Saturday marks the season opening of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow!

I went for the first time only a few years ago and afterward kicked myself for taking so long–it’s a hoot, people!  After paying the nominal admission fee (ten bucks), settle yourself down on the (admittedly) gritty and sticky bleachers and prepare yourself for 45 minutes of cheesy fun. Fire eaters, glass chewers, snake charmers, sword swallowers, ventriloquists, people walking on glass or a bed of nails…just name anything that will make you squirm and I guarantee at least one of the performers can or will do it. Its campy, it’s bawdy and it’s crazy fun.

After the show, grab a drink next door at the Freak Bar, head over for a terrifying ride on the Cyclone or Wonder Wheel, then grab a dog at Nathan’s. It’s Coney Island…you need to take all of it in!

Oh–and for those who are looking for a career change, the sideshow troupe operates a school, where they’ll teach you how to breathe fire or become a human blockhead and hammer nails up your nose. (Because you really need to know how to do that.) In fact they claim that their facility, “is to sideshow culture what the Actor’s Studio is to American acting: we are the International Center of Sideshow Arts.”

Who’s going to disagree?


Y? Because It’s Awesome


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 Safari In New York City


No tents or camouflage duds required. There are hundreds of walking tours of our fair city..literary, historical, scary, television show locations and food-centric. But here’s one that sounds really cool and different: the New York City Photo Safari.

This tour is clearly meant for lovers of photography. The guides are working professional shutterbugs who have a passion not only for photography, but for teaching as well. They discuss basics like composition and lighting and then give the participants on-the-spot assignments. Students’ work is critiqued and they’re then given suggestion on how to improve.

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Make no mistake, this is not a regular walking tour. According to the website:

“Our goal is to help you take home great pictures of New York AND skills that last a lifetime! Although our photo tours take place in historically significant locations and are a great way to experience Manhattan, they are photography workshops rather than a substitute for a guided walking tour.”

Honestly, it sounds like anyone from an eager photography student to someone armed with no more than an iPhone and zero talent (ahem, me) could benefit from this tour if they wanted to. The only true must on the “must brings” list is that your camera be digital. But even if you don’t have a camera, you can rent one from the tour outfit.

The basics: Safaris are rain or shine, but if the weather is truly inclement, they’ll contact you. (Clouds and drizzle: okay. Downpours and hail: not so much.) Cost is $100 for two hours of instruction.

Outings include New York City After Dark, in which night photography in Times Square is explored; Museum Inside Out, which is described as exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art with your camera through use of light; and The New Urban Jungle, which tackles the High Line.

Clearly this class is not for everyone, but even ham-handed would-be photographers (again, ahem, me) would get something out of it. And it sounds like fun.



Take A Wine Tasting Class!


Looking for a fun place to sample different wines and learn a thing or two without breaking the bank? Me, too. Here are a few establishments that conduct one-off tasting courses for the vine-curious:

Otto Pizzeria: Mario Batali’s casual restaurant hosts classes every weekend afternoon at 2 pm and Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm. Sessions cost around $45, run 90 minutes and include tastings of five different Italian wines–usually regional or buy viagra online varietal groupings, such as “Coastal Italy” or “Southern Italy” or “Discover Sangiovese.”

Corkbuzz Wine Studio on E. 13th St. groups courses under the classifications of recreational, introductory, intermediate and advanced. Classes are further organized by regions (a tour of Australia or Greece, for instance), wine pairings (cheese, pizza or BBQ) or blind tastings. Each seminar lasts 90 minutes and will run you about $50-$75.

NYC Wine Class in Chelsea offers various two-hour classes at $90, which often include Murray’s cheese (worth the price of admission alone) or other scrumptious foods that pair nicely with vino. Regional (“Napa vs. Bordeaux”), unusual varietals (“Exotic Whites To Remember”) or one I really want to take: “France: Making Sense Of It All”.

Whichever class you take, let’s hope that it doesn’t turn out like this, okay?

Get Cooking!


Whether you live here or are merely visiting, cooking classes in New York City are always an enjoyable thing to do. I set out to find a collection of popular courses that would meet certain criteria of mine. They cialis +2 free viagra had to be small, hands-on classes. (No mere demonstrations, thank you…I want to get my hands dirty.) One day only (because I clearly have a fear of commitment). And not crazy expensive (because I’m cheap). I haven’t yet taken any of the courses below, but reviews by former students are favorable, so all of them are officially on my to-do list.

Miette Culinary Studio has a variety of $80-$110 one-day classes. The Belgian born chef, Paul Vandewoude, has made his mark in some of the city’s best restaurants like Le Zinc in Tribeca and Tartine right here in the West Village. Classes are tiny–under 12 students–and are compatible with any level of expertise. Upcoming classes include: “Souffle for your Supper”, which includes a savory cheddar souffle, raspberry souffle and chocolate souffle with chocolate fudge sauce. In “Give ‘em Schnitzel” (hey–don’t yell at me–I didn’t make up the name), students will prepare chicken schnitzel with spaetzle and red cabbage, escarole salad with warm anchovy vinaigrette and homemade croutons and a pear tart with vanilla ice cream. Classes end with a sit-down dinner with wine, served by the chef and a take-home copy of the recipes.

I want to take the knife skills class at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg. For $55 they will teach you how to sharpen a knife properly and cut up veggies without adding your precious fingertips to your primavera. Most of the classes here are hands-on, although not all. (Sorry, but you’ll have to be content to be merely a spectator in the pig-butchering class.) But the homemade pizza class (with Roberta’s, the hot new pizza joint), a braising class and Vietnamese street food class more than make up for it. 10-40 students per session.

The Institute of Culinary Education  There are some cool theme classes at this Chelsea school. “Favorite Chinese Takeout” (won-ton soup, pot stickers and General Tso’s chicken), “Crustacean Celebration” (crawfish etouffee, lobster bisque, soft-shell crab po’ boy). Or “Best of Beef”, which includes braised short ribs, ribeye and chimichurri beef skewers. Baking classes include a red velvet cake workshop and Passover baking instructional. $85-$125 classes culminate in a group dinner with wine.

Rustico holds Italian cooking classes for up to 22 people in a loft located in midtown. Themes usually focus on a specific region “An Evening in Lombardy” features breasola with arugula and shaved parmigiano, sausage and cheese ravioli in sage-infused butter and veal scaloppine in balsamic glaze with basil and shallots. “Hot and Spicy Italian” will include handmade cavatelli pasta with spicy pancetta ragu and three cheeses, crispy focaccia with chilies and fennel seeds and a roasted sweet pepper medley. I want to take “10 Best Pasta Sauces” because, frankly, I wouldn’t ever have to learn how to cook anything else. Cost, with wine, is $110-$120 per person.