Monday, September 28, 2009

Everyone Wins at the Vendys

... well, not really. But all the vendors who competed deserved to win or at least get honorable mentions. The actual prize winners, however, were the Country Boys and their awesome tacos (of Red Hook ballfield fame), owned by husband-and-wife team Fernando and Yolanda Martinez; Meru Sikder's Biryani Cart (for the second year in a row); Wafels & Dinges for best dessert (definitely the liege with spekuloos spread), and Schnitzel & Things (ever have eggplant schnitzel? Yum!) for Rookie Vendor of the Year. Other standouts, IMHO (in my humble opinion) were the jerk chicken from The Jamaican Dutchy, the BBQ pork from Picnick, the Elvis cupcake with real bacon from Cupcake Stop and the Affogayto Mexicano sundae - Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cinnamon sticks, honey, and a spice blend, served over ice cream with chocolate, cinammon, spices -- from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September and October NYC Street Fairs

You've missed the Vendys but all's not lost.

Here's where you can still find a host of cool street vendors, food and otherwise this month and next in NYC:

Friday, September 25, 2009
Downtown Visiting Neighbors Festival
Murray Street between Broadway and Church Street

Friday, September 25, 2009
N.Y.C. Police Museum Festival
Old Slip between Water and South Streets

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Congress for Racial Equality Fest
Broadway from Waverly Place to 14th Street

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Stone Street Oyster Fest (10AM-6PM)
Stone Street between Hanover Square and Coenties Alley

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Stonewall Veteran's Association
Greenwich Avenue between 6th and 7th Avenues

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Lexington Avenue Fall Festival
Lexington Avenue from 34th to 42nd Streets

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Columbus Avenue Festival
Columbus Avenue from 66th to 86th Streets

Thursday, October 1st through Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Our Lady of Sorrows Church Pitt Street Festival
Pitt Street between Rivington and Stanton Streets

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
United Nations Community Festival
47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues

October 3-4, 10-11, and 17-18, 2009
Autumn Crafts on Columbus
Columbus Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Union Square Autumn Fair
Broadway between 17th and 23rd Streets

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Gramercy Park Block Association Festival
Park Avenue South between 17th and 23rd Streets

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
St. Joseph's Church Fest
Washington Place between Sixth Avenue and Grove Street

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Stone Street “Oktoberfest”
Stone Street between Hanover Square and Coenties Alley

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
NYC Oktoberfest
Lexington Avenue from 42nd to 57th Streets

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Cathedral High School Street Fair
Lexington Avenue from 42nd to 57th Streets

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Association of Indians in America Festival
South Street Seaport

Sunday, October 4th,
General Pulaski Memorial Parade
Fifth Avenue between 26th and 51st Streets

Sunday, October 5th, 2009
Upper Broadway Harvest Festival
Broadway between 106th and 110th Streets

Friday, October 9th, 2009
Christopher Columbus Block Party
Murray Street between Broadway and Church Street

Saturday, October 10th and Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
12th Avenue and 48th Street to various locations

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Avenue of the Americas Family Expo
Avenue of the Americas between 42nd and 57th Streets

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Broadway Street Festival
Broadway between 110th and 116th Streets

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
West 4th Street Festival
West 4th Street between 6th Avenue and Washington Square East

Sunday, October 11th, 2009
8th Avenue Autumn Festival
8th Avenue from 42nd to 57th Streets

Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Broadway Festival
Broadway between 86th to 90th Streets

Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Symphony Space Broadway Festival
Broadway between 90th to 96th Streets

Monday, October 12th, 2009
Bowling Green Festival
Broadway between Battery Place and Liberty Street, Whitehall Street between Stone and Water Streets

Monday, October 12th, 2009 -- Columbus Day
Columbus Day Parade
Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th Streets

Monday, October 12th, 2009 -- Columbus Day
Columbus Day Festival
Broadway between Liberty Street and Battery Place, Whitehall Street between Stone and Water Streets

Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society "Light the Night" Walk
South Street Seaport

Friday, October 16th, 2009
Fulton Street Festival
Fulton Street between Water and Gold Streets

Saturday, October 17th, 2009
Waverly Place Street Festival
Waverly Place between Broadway and 5th Avenue

Saturday, October 17th, 2009
Village Independent Democrats Fest
Greenwich Avenue between 6th and 7th Avenues

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
Dog Day Masquerade
Military Island in Times Square

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
The Great Third Avenue Fair
Third Avenue from 23rd to 34th Streets

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
92nd Street Y Festival
Lexington Avenue between 79th to 96th Streets

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
National Kidney Foundation Annual Kidney Walk
South Street Seaport

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
Bleecker Street Festival
Bleecker Street between LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Park Avenue South Autumn Fair
Park Avenue South from 17th to 23rd Streets

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Encore Community Services Street Fair
52nd Street between 5th and 7th Aves.

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Park Avenue Street Fair
Park Avenue South between 17th and 23rd Streets

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Astor Place Street Fair
Astor Place between Broadway and Lafayette Streets

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
The Times Square Autumn Carnival
Broadway from 47th to 57th Streets

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
Step Out to Fight Diabetes Walk
South Street Seaport

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
Seventh Avenue Street Festival
Seventh Avenue between 47th and 57th Streets

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Village Halloween Parade
Sixth Avenue from Spring to 22nd Streets

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
A.D.A.’s World’s Larget Block Party
Madison Avenue from 42nd to 57th Streets

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
West 4th Street Festival
4th Street between Washington Square East and Broadway

For more info, check

The Vendys are Tomorrow!

I've been telling you for weeks to go buy tix and now they're sold out. You'll have to wait for my review of tomorrow's five-hour food frenzy at the Queens Museum of Art. Several of my faves -- the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Wafels and Dinges, and the Cupcake Stop -- are finalists.

Here's a bit more info on tomorrow's competition:

What are the Vendy Awards (aka The Vendys)?

The Vendys are:

•An intense cook-off between the best sidewalks chefs in New York City for the Vendy Award trophy and the title of Vendy Award winner.

•One of New York City’s most beloved and widely anticipated food events, and its premier street food showcase.

•A festival of respect and gratitude for all vendors and everything they provide us-from your morning coffee (half-and-half, two sugars) to the $2 umbrella when you get caught in the thunderstorm.

•A fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project, a membership-based non-profit organization that stands up for vendors’ rights.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Deal A Week: Small Luxury Hotels of the World Gives You One Night Free -- with American Express

There's one aspect of taking a vacation that I absolutely hate: having to leave. What if there were a way to not only continue your hotel stay for one more night but to also get that night free? Now you can! Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) and American Express have partnered together to create “One More Night,” a special promotion which invites travelers to extend their stays at one of the 100-plus SLH properties in over 30 countries. Use your American Express card to receive 3 nights for the price of 2, 4 nights for the price of 3, or 7 nights for the price of 5!

Count me in for this one -- an extra night in Milan? or Barcelona? I'm there!

You have 9 weeks to take advantage of this deal -- it ends November 30. For more info, visit or call 1-800-525-4800.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bad Restaurant Service and Stress Relief

I had another inexcusable bad-service experience this evening. Without mentioning names (although if you leave me a comment, I'll be happy to share), a local cafe I frequent when the weather is nice because of their outdoor seating yet again treated me like dirt. They didn't wipe off the table from the previous guests, my appetizer (a salad) took an astonishing 30 minutes to arrive and was only served by a "secondary" waiter after I used sign language to indicate that something was still missing. No one asked whether I wanted to order anything else, whether the salad was fine, whether I might want another glass of water or wine, and so on and so on. I know the economy "seems" to taking an upturn, but not yet. And this restaurant was certainly not "fully committed" nor is it on anyone's hard-to-score resy list. I'd love to hear your reactions.

I DO, however, have a remedy and it has nothing to do with the resto in question. Bach Rescue Remedy Spray for Natural Stress Relief is an instant calm-me-down kind of fix. You spray two quick pumps on your tongue, and voila, you're happy, energized, and ready to ignore all of the nonsense that you've just experienced. Restaurant rage be gone! It's made in England it's "discreet and easy-to-use." Gotta love it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Deal a Week: An Unforgettable Norwegian Cruise

Two-For-One Norwegian Cruise – Trolls? Norway? Fjords? Here’s a spectacular deal to get you there…. in adventurous coastal style. A Hurtigruten adventure cruise offers a temping upgrade free to the best available ocean view cabin when booking any category "L" cabin and above (no suites). Rates start at $770 per person, based on double occupancy, after discount –normally twice that amount. But you’ve got to hurry: this is good on most of the line’s sailing between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, and, amazingly, the deal applies to Christmas and New Year’s as well (how rare is that?). Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The High Line is Now an Elevated Art Musem and Taqueria, Too

The long-awaited High Line, New York City's newest public park space and our favorite passiagiata and runway locale, is about to turn into a museum (and high-style taqueria) as well.

High Line Art will debut today with Specials, a collaboration between artists Lisa Sigal and Paul Ramirez Jonas. For this ongoing, roving art project, the artists have constructed a mobile unit composed of vendor carts and a 10 x 4 foot wall. On one side of the wall, they hang artwork by a wide range of artists; on the flip side, they serve homemade tacos, free of charge.

Each time Specials is presented, the artwork and the type of taco change, in the manner of restaurants' daily menu specials or art galleries' changing exhibition schedules. This project deliberately blurs the boundaries between visual art, performance, social gathering space, and festive event.

Specials will be presented in the 14th Street Passage, just south of the 14th Street stair to the High Line, as follows (subject to change):

Thursday, September 17, 4:00 - 8:00 PM
Featuring works by Fiona Tan and Regina Silveira, and a potato and corn croquette with red cabbage and avocado taco.

Thursday, October 1, 4:00 - 8:00 PM
Featuring artists who participated in the 1993 Whitney Biennial, including Janine Antoni, Byron Kim, Simon Leung, Glenn Ligon, Suzanne McClelland, Kiki Smith and Fred Wilson, and a squash, mushroom, and homemade hot sauce taco.

Trekaroo -- I Was Just Voted "Suggestion of the Week"

I'm honored -- I was just interviewed on Adriane Berg's Radio Show, I'll be on "Traveling with Francoise" next month, and Trekaroo readers ranked my suggestions #1 among Parent Visitors to NYC. Thank you all for you the great support -- it's my great pleasure to share my discoveries with you.

This is from Trekaroo's KidsMobile program -- September 15

Meryl-in-gold-jacket2Meryl Pearlstein, the author of Fodor’s Families: New York City with Kids Guidebook tells us Where Families Should Go in NYC when the Weather’s Bad. Check out her blog – Travel and Food Notes. That’s where I found out about a new food truck in New York that’s selling my favorite… Cupcakes!

Next, if you’re looking for tips on traveling to NYC, Tony Chen’s got you covered with 13 Things I Learned Visiting NYC with 2 Young Kids. Tony’s a blogging dad extraordinaire at SavvyDaddy, a content-rich website and online community for dads. His mantra… my kids rock my world.

Lastly, local mommy expert Carol Cain, writer of the blog NYCityMama shares her Must-See New York City attractions and reviews of various places around town with Trekaroo.

More Resources for New York City
134 activities for kids in New York City.

Kid-friendly hotels in New York City

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Staying Healthy while Traveling

Please click here to read this important article from today's New York Times. The doctors have said that you must have a regular flu shot prior to getting a swine flu shot, due out some time on October. Happy, healthy and safe travels.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Literary Holidays

I have a thing about literary tours. Each time I read a book or see a movie I like, I start to fantasize about visiting the locales shown. After seeing Sideways, I loved the Wayfarers' tour to California. Gorgeous scenery, wine, hiking, but no bubble gum ("Is that gum you're chewing?") Magnificent. The Bronte sisters' books inspired me to visit England. And now there's a Jane Austen walk throughout the areas where she lived, also through The Wayfarers. But I'm even more fascinated by a tour that I haven't taken yet, one I can only begin to imagine: Transylvania. I LOVED Dracula and the vividness of Bram Stoker's descriptions draws me to this dark and misty sojourn through the Carpathian Mountains to the Count's castle. I've already packed my garlic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tracing my Hometown Roots

I've just found a list of famous residents (past and present) from my tiny hometown in Boston -- Swampscott (population 14,000). If anyone knows of any others, could you please send them to me?

Famous residents
Elihu Thomson, founder of General Electric
David Lee Roth, lead singer of the rock group Van Halen
Dick Jauron, head coach of NFL's Buffalo Bills
Todd McShay, ESPN NFL draft prospect analyst
Mark Shasha, Artist, author Night of the Moonjellies
Leslie Stahl, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent
Carol Brady (fictional), Brady Bunch mother[4]
Mike Lynch, principal sports anchor at WCVB-TV Channel 5
Barry Goudreau, original guitarist of the rock group Boston, and the Lisa Guyer Band
Fran Sheehan, original bass player of the rock group Boston
Jackson Katz, anti-domestic violence advocate
Johnny Pesky, pro baseball coach, former Red Sox third baseman
Bill Adams, retired player for the Buffalo Bills football team
Ken Linseman, former professional hockey player (Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers)
Gerhard Neumann, (former resident)"Herman the German," German born aviation engineer and innovator. Former Vice President of General Electric.
Walter Brennan, multiple Academy Award winning actor
Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoes
Michael Kelly, (deceased) editor, columnist, and reporter, whose work was featured in 75 newspapers or magazines, and the book Things Worth Fighting For, a collection of his work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Free Dress Rehearsal at New York Philharmonic -- September 16

The New York Philharmonic is letting us get a sneak peak at the upcoming season with a free dress rehearsal on Wednesday September 16. You can watch how soprano Renée Fleming, Music Director Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic prepare for the show that evening. Seating for the 9:45 rehearsal starts at 8am and is on a first-come, first-served basis, Avery Fisher Hall, 132 W 65th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves., New York City.

9.11 -- Anniversary of the Horror

Lest we forget.... it continues to amaze me that our country was so violently attacked eight years ago today. I lived through it here. I was on my way to the airport when the towers were hit. By the time I returned home after my aborted taxi ride to Queens, the Pentagon had been hit as well. The silence of the city, the shared mourning, and the unity that resulted are all memories that will never fade away. This morning's ceremony at Ground Zero was just as heart-wrenching as the first one in 2002.

Morimoto Sushi & Sake Sunset Sail – A Foodie’s Nirvana on the Hudson River

Classic Harbor Line Cruises has teamed up with one of the finest restaurants in the city for an amazing culinary cruise experience. Led by lovely Captain Sarah Greer, the “lively” 80-foot schooner Imagine sails the lower part of New York Harbor past the iconic sites of the city (The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Wall Street, Battery Park) while you are served sushi and sake pairings of a quality that you’d expect from Iron Chef Morimoto. Morimoto in the Meatpacking District knows sushi and sake, and Classic Harbor Line knows sailing and service. Together, the evening is unforgettable. We enjoyed some most unusual sakes, too -- sparkling sake, an organic Junmai Ginjo sake, and several others -- while feasting on anything-but-usual sushi selections. The schooner, built in New York State to replicate a historic vessel with gorgeous teak and brass, leaves from Chelsea Piers (Pier 62) on Monday nights. For a two-hour sail, the price is $105 per person, with their last summer sushi sailings on September 14 and 21. For those of you who prefer beer to sake, on Wednesdays, Classic Harbor Line offers an Autumnal Beer Pairing Cruise. They also have a Sunday Afternoon Tea Cruise, Wine Tasting Cruises, and more. And you thought the Circle Line was the only way to see Manhattan by water? Personally, we can’t wait to go on their Fall Foliage Sail this October up the Hudson River Valley.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Magnolia Bakery May Have Started It… but Cupcake Stop Does it Much Better

The newest entrant among the “sweet” trucks cruising NYC, and a finalist in the 2009 Vendy Awards (ceremony – September 26), the Cupcake Stop is Lev Ekster’s brainchild and we thank him for bringing it to us. Another professional-turned-street vendor, Lev is a lawyer who has yet to practice. Instead, he practices offering the best in these delectable treats -- in mini and full sizes -- with changing flavors that include crowd favorites like Cookie Dough and Red Velvet plus suggestions from his fans. Send in your own inspiration at and you might have the next success. Cupcake Stop offers five flavors each day, seven days a week, with three gluten-free flavors on Tuesdays. Click here for the truck’s menu, schedule, and daily location. On Sundays, Cupcake Stop joins the street vendor face-off at 87th Street and Lexington Avenue.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Go Dutch in New York City -- September 8-13, 2009

Experience everything Dutch—cuisine, culture, architecture, arts and more—during NY400 Week. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival in New York Harbor, NY400 Week is the weeklong, citywide celebration of 400 years of friendship between New York City and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Visit a Dutch village, rent a bike for free, take in a sailing race, dance against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline and more. The week culminates on Sunday, September 13, with NY Harbor Day, which promises even more celebrations on land and water, along six scenic waterfront sites easily accessible by bike, subway, foot, ferry and water taxi.

Below are some of the week's highlights.

New Amsterdam Village
(Friday, September 4–Sunday, September 13, 11am–7pm)
Bowling Green (Broadway at Beaver St.)
Amid traditional Dutch canal houses, a windmill and an outdoor podium, learn about and experience Dutch crafts, such as making wooden shoes, Delft blue painting and glassblowing. In addition, sample traditional foods like cheese, beer, herring and "dollar" pancakes, and purchase Dutch flower bulbs and cut flowers.

NY400 Welcoming Ceremony
(Tuesday, September 8, 8:30am)
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Join the kick-off event for NY400 Week at 9:15am on the Hudson River. Expect a parade of US and Dutch frigates, NATO ally fleets, Flying Dutchman racers and replicas of historic Dutch ships to fill the harbor in honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage to New York. A 21-gun salute and the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy will provide on-shore accompaniment to the official ceremony from the USS Intrepid. All are welcome to enjoy this free event.

Bike NYC on a Free Dutch Bike
(Tuesday, September 8–Saturday, September 12, 11am–7pm)
Bowling Green (Broadway at Beaver St.)
Remember the bikes you saw during Summer Streets in August? Those bright orange NY400 bicycles will be available free to the public on a limited basis during the course of NY400 Week. Get around town the typical Dutch way, and be sure to ride your Dutch bike to NY400 Week events.

Flying Dutchman Sailing Races
(Tuesday, September 8, 11am–5pm; Wednesday, September 9–Thursday, September 10, 10am–5pm; Saturday, September 12, 10am–2pm & 3–4pm)
New York Harbor
Fifty-six Flying Dutchman–class sailboats representing 10 countries will compete in championship races. The New Amsterdam Championships will be held Tuesday through Thursday and the Centennial World Championships on Saturday and Sunday.

Replica of the Half Moon

(Wednesday, September 9, 11am–3pm)
The Battery
Every year, this replica of Henry Hudson's Halve Maen retraces the ship's original 1609 voyage—which laid the foundation for the New Netherland colony and modern-day New York City. Come see the ship's exterior and meet its captain and crew.

Replica of the Onrust
(Wednesday, September 9–Sunday, September 13, 10am–5pm)
Pier 84, Hudson River Park
The Onrust was the first trading and exploration vessel the Dutch built in America, constructed in 1614 by Captain Adriaen Block and his crew after their original ship burned. Volunteers will demonstrate how the crew survived by using local resources, shipbuilding skills and productive working relationships with Native Americans.

Arrival of the Fleet of Traditional Dutch Barges
(Thursday, September 10–Sunday, September 13)
Yankee Pier, Governors Island
Seventeen leeboard vessels—not much different from the ones Henry Hudson and his crew used to explore New York Harbor—arrive at Yankee Pier on Governors Island. Be on hand for the welcome ceremony, set to begin in the late afternoon (visit for more details). Captains and crew are on hand to answer your questions about these historic ships. The boats will be at the pier through Harbor Day.

Vermeer's Masterpiece: "The Milkmaid"
(Thursday, September 10–Sunday, November 29; closed Mondays except October 12)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In honor of NY400, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has loaned Vermeer's most admired work—The Milkmaid—to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the first time the painting has been in the United States since the 1939 New York World's Fair. Several other paintings by Vermeer and fellow Dutch masters round out the exhibition.

New Island Festival
(Thursday, September 10, 4–11pm; Friday, September 11–Sunday, September 13, 11am–11pm; Thursday, September 17, 4–11pm; Friday, September 18–Sunday, September 20, 11am–11pm)
Governors Island
Direct from Holland, the New Island Festival sets up stakes on Governors Island September 10–13 and again September 17–20. The festival kicks off the fall with provocative theatre, stunning site-specific performances and dazzling visual arts performed by world-class Dutch artists. Visit for a complete schedule.

Open House: Royal Netherlands Navy and NATO Ships
(Saturday, September 12, 10am–3pm)
Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Piers 7 and 8
Explore royal Netherlands naval frigates and NATO ships—including the Dutch mine sweeper HNLMS Urk—and enjoy live music from the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy at this "open decks open house."

NY Harbor Day
(Sunday, September 13)
Festivities span six major waterfront sites—The Battery, Battery Park City, Hudson River Park, Governors Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Snug Harbor—all linked by free rental bikes and hop-on/hop-off boat service. At each site, food, drink, entertainment and activities will commemorate this special moment in New York City history. Highlights include: a flotilla of modern and historic Dutch and American yachts and sailing vessels, an oyster festival, Harmony on the Hudson (a children's music festival), children's bike clinics at Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, the Brooklyn Flea under the Manhattan Bridge Archway, kayaking, paddleboating and much more.