Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Central Park Needs Your Support

Central Park smelled odd to me this week. It smelled like autumn instead of summer because of the piles of dead leaves scattered everywhere, the unbelievably sad number of downed trees, and the soggy tree roots newly exposed to the air. Last week’s lightning storm was dramatic in its fury, and the northern part of Central Park took a serious hit, one that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to reverse. More than 200 trees were uprooted or destroyed, and the “lung of New York City,” Central Park, needs your help to restore its beautiful landscapes and precious ecosystems.

Please click here to make a donation to the Central Park Conservancy’s clean-up efforts or call 212-310-6607.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food Truck Watch: Wafels & Dinges

And the fabulous street-food offerings continue! New York City has welcomed yet another food truck offering delicious treats. Wafels & Dinges, the brainchild of Thomas DeGeest, brings a favorite Belgian street food to New Yorkers: homemade Belgian waffles with dinges (Belgian for “stuff”, or, in this case, toppings). Just look for the bright yellow truck!

The truck sells Brussels and Liège wafels, each $5. The Brussels will seem very familiar; it’s the waffle that we’re accustomed to finding at every coffee shop in Manhattan, more or less. Personally, I recommend the Liège. It’s smaller and sweeter. Turn it into a brochette, or top it with the amazing spekuloos spread which tastes kind of like Graham Crackers mushed up with butter, and you have a dessert that’s worth risking your diet for. There are lots of other yummy dinges, too: Nutella, bananas, strawberries and ice cream. Or ask for a bacon wafel and you can justify having a waffle for dinner. If you really want to waffle out, pay $7 and you get an unlimited pile of dinges creating a WMD, a Wafel of Massive Deliciousness. (Take that, George Bush!)

Sweetly, the truck sells beverages to wash down these concoctions including hot Belgian cocoa and iced coffee.

To find the truck, click here or follow them on twitter, the trendiest way to find the city’s evanescent street vendors. If you call W&D, you’ll get a special word of the day which leads to an extra treat. One step ahead of the other street vendors so far, the truck lets you satisfy your waffle craving even at midnight. Fairway, Food Emporium and Garden of Eden sell the waffles pre-packaged in their frozen food sections.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Deal A Week: Vermont Two Ways -- with kids and without

The end-of-the summer is a great time to head to Vermont. During the first week of September, from September 5-12, two resorts are offering enticing deals to help minimize the back-to-school blues.

With the kids, go to Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs. Just shy of the Canadian border on gorgeous Lake Champlain, this all-inclusive sprawling resort has it all for families: age-grouped kid activities, babysitters, adult activities all-day and all-night, sports, three amazing meals daily, excursions, entertainment, bikes and helmets (for the week) and much more. For this week, prices are reduced 33%, and vary by type of accommodations plus age and number of children. Now’s the time to book your trip to this resort that’s almost impossible to secure a booking at during the summer.

If the kids have gone back to school and YOU need to escape, why not grab a few friends and try the historic Red Clover Inn near Mt. Pico? Set in another one of Vermont’s beautiful areas (BTW, is there any part of Vermont that ISN’T beautiful in summer, fall or winter?), the “farm” offers great dining, hiking, excursions, spa treatments, and fresh country air for catching up on your non-BlackBerry reading , sleeping, exercising and relaxing. Rates start at just $150 per night per couple and include lodging (all rooms have Jacuzzi and fireplace), full Vermont breakfast, afternoon tea, and personalized concierge services.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Food Truck Watch: The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Joining the recent food truck trend is The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. I absolutely adore Doug Quint, the truck’s owner, and creative force. A classically trained musician, Doug started his ice cream business earlier this summer and has quickly obtained a following for his quirky former-Mr. Softee truck. The soft-serve vanilla and chocolate served is nothing unusual. It’s the toppings that make Quint’s business so different.

The toppings menu changes daily but there are always both sweet and savory choices like crushed Nilla Wafers, blueberries, pretzels and dulce de leche. I encourage you to be adventurous and sample some of the more unusual offerings that pair beautifully with the ice creams. My favorites? bacon, cayenne, and olive oil and sea salt. For a non-cone indulgence, BGICT also serves huge Nutella ice cream sandwiches with soft-serve and a layer of Nutella goodness sandwiched between two chocolate cookies. Whatever you do, don’t bite into the two cookies, together. They’re sure to collapse, as Doug is quick to advise.

For more information about the truck’s daily whereabouts and schedule, you’ll need to read their blog and follow them on Twitter. The truck is usually parked in the Union Square area… but not every day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Year Two – Manhattan’s Summer Streets Open for Bikes on Saturdays in August (Cars Not Allowed) – 7am-1pm

Ladies and gentlemen (and kids, too), start your pedaling! Tracing a route from Central Park down Park Avenue to Lafayette Street to Brooklyn Bridge, Summer Streets gives bicyclists the freedom to enjoy a car-free morning through some of the greatest neighborhoods of Manhattan with fun rest stops along the way. Dance classes, tai chi, musical performances, free bike repair and tennis lessons are offered at several stops. Click here for a full map of the route.

If you’re not a bicyclist or don’t own a bike, don’t fret – you can rent roller blades and bikes (free) at the rest stops. It’s a great chance to stop, soak in the scenery, and enjoy the freedom of riding without taxis honking or cars swerving around you. Brush up on your bike-riding etiquette: observe traffic signals, watch out for others, and definitely wear a helmet.

Note: Park Avenue is open starting at 72nd Street. Bike rentals, courtesy of Holland's donation of bikes to NYC, are best obtained at Spring Street. Look for the Holland display and the bright orange bikes -- be prepared to wait.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Deal a Week: The Hawthorne Hotel’s Insider’s Package

I don’t consider myself a “witch,” but I do consider myself a North Shore insider when it comes to Salem, Massachusetts. The Hawthorne Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America, wants you to give me some competition in the Salem “know-it-all” category. To act like a local, their new “Insider’s Package” supplies you with all the right tools: a place to stay, a roll of quarters so you can play skeeball and all the old-time games at the Salem Willows Arcade, tickets to CinemaSalem, and the Salem Insider’s Guide Book and Map, published by the Hawthorne Hotel itself and written by its staff, with local gems from beaches and shops to landmarks, restaurants and other attractions. Maps are included, too. This “mystical” package starts at only $161 for one night, based on double occupancy, and is offered year-round. Book way ahead for Halloween as the Salem Witch Museum, Witch House, and other witchy haunts are extremely popular.

Call the Hawthorne Hotel at 978.744.4080 or visit

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Surround Yourself in History and Toss One Back at the Museum of New York's Wednesday Night Speakeasys

Through August 26, the Museum of the City of New York invites city folk to relive Prohibition (of sorts) with their Wednesday-night Speakeasy (6-9pm). The $12 admission includes one free drink and access to the Museum’s first floor galleries. MCNY members pay a discounted $10.

Wax nostalgic as you sip old-time "Bronx" or "Manhattan" cocktails, sway to seductive Jazz, and watch sunset over Central Park from the museum's beautiful outdoor terrace.

And, of course, leave time to check out at least one of the museum's exhibits. Our recommendation? The always-special New York Toys exhibit that takes you through favorites of kids in the pre-electronics years.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dog Day Evenings (and Films) on the Upper East Side

Bring your pets, your kids, and your picnic as Carl Schurz Park and the Park Conservancy celebrate the renovation of the park's two dog runs with a series of doggie-themed films, free. Movies are shown in the hockey and basketball courts, near 86th Street along the park esplanade, at 8:30pm. Free popcorn, too.

** TUESDAY, AUGUST 4 -- "Best in Show"
** TUESDAY, AUGUST 18 -- "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"
** TUESDAY, AUGUST 25 -- "Lady and the Tramp"

And, stay tuned for the Annual Halloween Howl, on October 25. Dogs in costume, crisp fall weather. What more could you ask for?