Andrea F

Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

Day 92: City Lights from the Empire State Building

In Empire State Building, NYC, NYC Architecture, things to do in NYC on August 31, 2009 at 11:58 pm


Make it your reason for going to Midtown. Like they say, you haven’t visited New York City if you haven’t been to the top of the Empire State Building. Before you raise your hands in a fuss, stop and think—it is pretty extraordinary. From the ground, it’s known as the building with the nighttime light show in glowing colors, reminding everyone what season it is, but on the 86th floor, all that matters is the view below. Even for longtime New Yorkers, the vastness of the surrounding landscape, that includes not only the city, but local waterways and neighboring states as well, is in a word, breathtaking. Since its completion in 1931, the New York landmark building has welcomed thousands daily to snap shots against the luminescent backdrop, or study the grid of city streets that buzzes with traffic over a thousand feet down, maybe even daydream themselves into their own Hollywood Blockbuster (think King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle). Being part of the daily grind it’s easy to forget the expanse of the city, but from a quarter mile up in the sky, there’s absolutely no denying it.


Day 91: Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

In NYC, NYC Bars, NYC Culture, NYC Restaurants, Queens on August 30, 2009 at 11:56 pm


It’s been said that in New York, you can travel the world without even leaving the city, thanks to all the ‘little’ neighborhoods, and the shops, cafés and bars within them. If you’re ever in the mood for a visit over to the Czech Republic and its surrounding Eastern-European neighbors, head to Astoria to Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, where for an evening, you’ll feel a world away. The last remaining beer garden of its kind and a fixture in the community since the early 1900s, Bohemian Hall is a gathering place for local Czech and Slovak communities and adventurous others with a liking for beer and a taste for some hearty Slavic fare. The massive back garden is especially inviting on warm-weather days where lines of picnic tables cover the ground and mobs of strangers and friends unwind to live music—note the Czech and Slovak flags on the stage—, a great beer selection, and what else but pierogies, potato pancakes, sauerkraut and goulash. Does it get any better than this?

Day 90: A Day at the Races

In Horse Races, New Jersey, NYC, NYC Sports and Recreation, things to do in NYC on August 29, 2009 at 11:48 pm


Unless you’re up for spending the afternoon at OTB (and chances are, that’s not likely) it means a car-ride. But a day at the track is worth the effort it takes to get there, and not just for the sake of winning a few bucks. There’s the beautiful horses and colorful jockeys, the hot dogs and beer, and of course, the thrill of the gamble. It’s one thing to catch the footage on the tube, but to stand at the mile-long track with only a fence between you and the thoroughbreds, bets placed, tickets in hand, the grandstands full of fans chanting the names of their favorites and the rumble of hoofs in the dirt, the action’s so thick you can taste it. With at least a half-dozen New York/New Jersey venues in close proximity to the city, it’s an easy day away. If you don’t consider yourself to be one in the know, find a friend who’s familiar with the game and tag along under their direction, or breeze through a program for the basics of betting and give it your best shot. Worst case, pick the names you like the sound of, like say, Koka Kola Kitty and cross your fingers they finish first. As long as you keep it for fun, it’s no sweat if you don’t win. But if you do…that wad of cash will feel really nice in your hands.

Day 89: The Cloisters

In NYC, NYC Art, NYC Gardens, NYC Museums, NYC Parks, things to do in NYC on August 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm


In one of Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhoods, nestled amongst trees in Fort Tryon Park, overlooking the Hudson River to the west, high on a hilltop, sits ‘The Cloisters’. Named for the found remains of five medieval, open-air, covered walkways (cloisters), which served as a foundation for the landmarked structure that opened to the public in 1938, the museum is the only one in the United States dedicated solely to medieval art. Though not an exact replica of any particular medieval building, the museum, a branch of The Met, is comprised of galleries and gardens through which more than 5000 pieces of art are exhibited, some dating back as far as 800 A.D. From sculptures in wood and stone, to altars, tapestries and unique religious relics from centuries-old French monasteries, a day at The Cloisters is a walk through history, where visitors come face to face with artifacts from Romanesque and Gothic periods. Summertime is considered an ideal season to visit as three of the cloisters in the museum open onto gardens planted according to botanical records specific to the medieval period. For tourists visiting from abroad, the scene may look somewhat familiar, the old-world stone structure and ornate medieval ornamentation, but for city-folk, it’s like nothing else—certainly not your typical day at the museum.

Day 88: Frying Pan

In Chelsea, Hudson River, NYC Bars, things to do in NYC on August 27, 2009 at 11:47 pm


Docked at Pier 66 off the West Side Highway, Frying Pan is an NYC summer must. One of the US Coast Guard’s historic lightships, or what was essentially a floating lighthouse, the ship got its name from the Frying Pan Shoals off the coast of Cape Fear, NC which it guarded from 1930-1965. After being abandoned and later spending a few years under water, the barnacle-clad ship was brought to New York where it’s now one of the city’s best outdoor bars, and a true dive at that. With all the elements of the typical drinking venues—the crowds, the deejay, the fried food—and a few one might only find on a boat—the rocking, the buckets of beer, the river breeze and up-close view of the city lights on the water—it’s a cool shift from life on land…for a night anyway. Just be careful dodging the fitness-obsessed as you make your way across their path to the dock at 26th Street!

Day 87: Batting Cages at Chelsea Piers

In Chelsea, NYC, NYC Sports and Recreation, things to do in NYC on August 26, 2009 at 11:48 pm


Up for a little sweat? Some good old-fashioned fun? At this point hopefully you’ve realized you’re not gonna make it to the big league, and that you’re never gonna be Babe Ruth. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time dreaming. For a dose of something different, head over to the Field House at the Chelsea Piers for a session in the batting cages. A pocket full of tokens buys you an hour of fun, and to boot, gets your heart pumping and gives you a chance to work on that hand-eye coordination that needs improvement. Great for a casual first date, the typically dreaded ‘team-building exercise’ with co-workers or just goofing off with your pals, you can’t go wrong. For beginners, it’s best to start slow. Then if you’re feeling confident, work your way up to the faster pitching cages (and stand there in awe as balls whiz by you.) Be forewarned: you might be a spectacle to onlookers at the nearby soccer fields. But hey, if they laugh, laugh with them. Why not embrace the fact that you’ll never be pro?

Day 86: Prospect Park

In Brooklyn, NYC, NYC for free, NYC Parks, things to do in NYC on August 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm


Bordering the cozy Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, known for its historic brownstones and tree-lined streets, lies the borough’s 585-acre green space, Prospect Park. Designed and built in the late 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, also known for Manhattan’s gem Central Park, it welcomes thousands of visitors year-round who go looking for an escape to nature. With endless activities from hiking the trails, running or bicycling on the 3.35-mile path, pedal-boating on the 60-acre lake, and bird-watching the more than 200 bird species known to perch in the park, summer is the ideal season to stop by. For the laziest of activities, visit the park’s Long Meadow that sprawls nearly a mile in length offering endless hills of grass, giant shade trees and plenty of open space perfect for a summer afternoon picnic. Enjoy the bright blue sky, the gentle sounds of leaves rustling in the breeze and the warmth of sun of your face. If only summer could last forever!

Day 85: 5Pointz

In Long Island City, NYC, NYC Art, NYC for free, NYC Graffiti, things to do in NYC on August 24, 2009 at 11:48 pm


The ‘mom and pops’ have closed, the familiar buildings that once stood oozing that wonderful mix of New York grit and charm have been crumbled to dust. Chain retailers and luxury residences abound. Out with the old, in with the new, the clean, the shiny. Gone are the days when graffiti was king, when the city had no control over artists whose mission it was to be known in every borough, covering the faces of buildings with their signature tags and prismatic murals. For a good fix of some of that old New York, check out Long Island City’s jaw-dropping 5Pointz, a 200,000 square foot factory building, a bona fide graffiti mecca. Once known as the Phun Factory, the complex, which occupies a block, is curated by artist Jonathan Cohen, a.k.a. “Meres One”, who began working in graffiti at the age of thirteen. Painting is open to anyone, but first you need to get a permit from Meres. If painting isn’t your thing, at least go check it out. With more than 350 murals, it isn’t called “The Institute for Higher Burnin’” for nothing.

Day 84: Rickshaw Dumpling Truck

In NYC, NYC Cheap Eats, NYC Food Trucks, NYC Restaurants, things to do in NYC on August 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm


As if there aren’t enough brick and mortar restaurants for hungry New Yorkers to debate about, nowadays there’s the whole contingent of cool food trucks to consider. In actuality perhaps it’s a better deal—tasty eats, usually on the cheap, always on the fly—tacos, artisan ice cream, waffles, treats, and yes, dumplings! Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, named after the early means of transportation that originated in Asia focuses, like the man-powered vehicle- on speed and catering to the people with a simple, straight-forward menu. As a secondary location after opening on West 23rd Street in 2005, the truck, opened three years later, moves throughout the city parking itself in various neighborhoods feeding pedestrians who are, what else but on the go. With fresh ingredients and flavorful herbs and spices the dumpling truck serves the perfect sidewalk snack, six dumplings for six bucks in flavors like Chicken and Thai Basil and Classic Pork and Chinese Chives, and any side, say a Chili-Sesame Noodle Salad or an Asian Green salad for three bucks more. Take that and a cool beverage, a pair of chopsticks, find a park bench and you’ll be saying it too: ‘nice dumplings’.


Day 83: Dean & DeLuca

In NYC, NYC Food, NYC Shopping, things to do in NYC on August 22, 2009 at 11:54 pm


With the airwaves today inundated with reality cooking shows and celebrity chefs being household names, by now isn’t just about everyone a foodie? Well, assuming you fit into the foodie population, if you don’t know it yet, you must get to know Dean & DeLuca. Since being founded in 1977 by business partners Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca, the company—a gourmet food and cookware emporium—  has expanded to include a handful of locations across the country and another few internationally. But, it all started in New York City’s Soho. The 10,000 square foot store whose simple-fancy interior includes Carrara marble floors, white walls and stainless steel shelving is heaven for anyone with an appreciation for preparing exquisite food, or even just eating it. With a step in from the busy downtown corner of Broadway and Prince Street, visitors are welcomed by a mouth-watering produce department to one side, and a coffee counter with pretty cakes and confections to the other. Further in, be enticed by mountains of artisanal cheeses at the cheese counter and then with a block of Cave-Aged Gruyère in hand, proceed to the bakery for a fresh baguette and then visit the meat counter for a beautiful cut of beef for that evening’s dinner. With every aisle lined in specialty food items, from Wild Raspberry Honey to the requisite Herbes de Provence, counters for prepared foods and a cookware and dinnerware department with classic white dishes, elegant stemware, pots, pans and gadgets galore, it’s a feast for the senses sure to get your creative (culinary) juices flowing. Can we say yum?