Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Truck Watch: End of the Season for the Red Hook Vendors

As the Food Truck Watch column goes on vacation for the next few cold months -- it's really a snowbird, you know? -- I wanted to remind you that this is the last weekend for you to sample the authentic tacos, quesadillas and other Mexican delectables at the Red Hook Ballfields. After spending nearly 2 weeks in Mexico with SATW traveling around Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and, of course, Tequila, I feel like I qualify as an expert in this area. Vaya! One of NYC's inexpensive food pleasures is about to vanish. Click here for directions to the trucks.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Empire State Building Does it Again....for Finland

Last night the Empire State Building wasn't looking like a Jerry Garcia shrine. Instead, it was a blue and white beacon against a misty sky in honor of the various Scandinavian, and especially the Finnish activities, scheduled throughout the week. From our location at Scandinavia House at 37th and Park Ave., the view was amazing. Thanks to my friend Juha-Pekka Laakio for this gorgeous shot.

Edgar Allan Poe's Ghostly Tour in Manhattan - Friday Oct. 30 @ 9:30pm

A few weeks ago I told you about the spooky Poe happenings in Baltimore. I do hope you got it together to mingle with Poe's creepy ancestors in the city of Poe's demise. New York City maintains, however, that they can do it better for Halloween. Do you agree? Here's how:

"Edgar Allan Poe and His Ghostly Neighbors" Tour of Greenwich Village Fire Patrol Station No 2 (New York City, NY)

Search out the spirits of Eleanor Roosevelt, her pet dog Fala and Aaron Burr; the ghosts of the New York University Library and of Washington Square Arch; and several Edgar Allan Poe sites. You'll also visit "ghost central," the most haunted area in America: Washington Square Park. (Did you know there's a graveyard underneath?)

Let me know who tops the creepster meter: is it Baltimore or New York City?
Book it at

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Deal a Week: Extended thru November 3: This Amazing California Getaway at 50% Discount

Fall is starting to behave like fall, and I’m already California dreamin’.

Leaf-Peeping on the River

For years, I've joined the mobs of cars heading up to Vermont to catch a glimpse of the yellows, reds, greens and browns of the fall trees. Beautiful to look at, right? But the traffic is killer. This year, I did it right. Classic Harbor Line offers a four-hour Fall Foliage Cruise up the Hudson River. Departing from Chelsea Piers, Pier 62, the retro schooner Adirondark travels north until the George Washington Bridge where you can view the Palisades on the left and Morningside Heights on the right, all bedecked in fall's finest. Thanksgiving/Halloween snacks and lunch are included, plus beverages like Pumpkin and Blueberry beer, or hot apple cider (with or without rum). Bundle up -- the breeze off the water can be quite intense -- even through the fleece blankets that you're given to help. Last two cruises are Saturday October 31 and Sunday November 1.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Deal A Week: New Age Health Spa, Neversink, NY

When I think of fall I obsess over foliage, new boots or a new jacket, and Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. And, to escape NYC, a fall getaway to the beautiful Catskills sounds just about perfect. Especially when it’s to a spa that’s only two hours away.

I love the New Age Health Spa –- it’s a funky, down-to-business, all-inclusive destination spa that immerses you in outdoor hikes, dawn-to-dusk yoga, exercise programs, sleep analysis, juicing and spa pampering in any combination that appeals. I love their Ayurvedic treatments –- you can have oil dripped on your forehead and massaged into your hair and then absorb the benefits of its unctuousness for the duration of your stay (no need to wash your hair, really – this is NOT a dress-up spa). Or you can explore movement programs with Nia and Ballroom Dance, or learn about the healing properties of Reiki in a laid-back setting where you just might run into the Next Great Model Winner.

I’m happy to see that they continue to offer these ever-popular packages:

“Bring a Friend for Free”pay for 2 nights and 4 treatments OR pay for 3 nights and 6treatments and bring a friend for free! (Available through December 31, 2009)

Mini Week Package—Check in on Sunday and out on Friday and enjoy 2 qualifying spa treatments—a $200 value. (Available throughout the year)

Week Package—Stay 7 consecutive nights and enjoy 3 qualifying spa treatments—a $300 value. (Available throughout the year)

Visit or call 1-800-682-4348.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Calling All Dead Heads to Manhattan: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

The Empire State Building was certainly truckin’ two nights ago in tie dye finery. A beacon for all Dead Heads, the top glowed purple, orange, and yellow on the north side; green, purple, and red on the west side; yellow, red, and blue on the south side; and orange, blue, and green on the east side in honor of the New-York Historical Society’s benefit for the Dead’s upcoming exhibition, The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society, and the Grateful Dead archive. The celebration of the Dead, covering 1965-1995, opens in March with a psychedelic array of memorabilia, posters, original artwork, banners and stage props, coming to the Big Apple by way of the Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California Santa Cruz.
The benefit will take place tonight at 7PM where Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead will be guests of honor. Tickets are $300 each (tax-deductible) and support both the exhibition and the archive. For more information, visit or email

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Now Who Will Keep the Boston Brahmin Accent Alive?

August 25, 2009 was a day that marked the end of an era. As I reflected on my years in Massachusetts and the time I spent working on Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign, I couldn't quite grasp what had happened. I had already been stunned by Michael Jackson's and Farah Fawcett's recent passing, but now Ted? Someone I had a personal connection with?

As the third longest-serving member of the United States Senate, Ted Kennedy showed a commitment to both the citizens of Massachusetts and the United States that was unmatched. As President Obama said, “For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health, and economic well-being of the American people bore Ted Kennedy's name and resulted from his efforts.” I was naturally happy to hear that LIFE Magazine had prepared a commemorative book that chronicled his life, The Kennedys: End of a Dynasty.

The book beautifully celebrates the Kennedys' journey from Irish immigrants stricken by poverty to national icons reaching the highest ranks of American society. The editors reveal both the glamour and drama associated with the family’s position on the public stage. Intimate family photographs make the story even more lucid and riveting. Jackie, Bobby, Jack, Teddy.... they're all here in black & white and color splendor.

Robert Sullivan, LIFE Books’ editorial director, is an authority on the Kennedy family and it shows. The Kennedys: End of a Dynasty is available at bookstores, newsstands and online.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Michelin Star News and R.I.P. Gourmet, Elegant Bride, Modern Bride and Cookie

It's been an up-and-down day in the food and travel world. Four Conde Nast titles lost: Coookie, Elegant Bride, Modern Bride and Gourmet.

And some shake-ups among Michelin-star winners and losers.

Without any further editorial commentary, here's the Michelin list. Do you agree with the "professional" ratings? Let me know via a comment.

Three Michelin stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.

Daniel - New
Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Per Se

Two Michelin stars mean excellent cuisine, worth a detour. Skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality.

Alto - New
Corton - New
Gordon Ramsay at The London
Momofuku Ko

One Michelin star means a very good restaurant in its category. A place offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.

A Voce - New
Blue Hill
Bouley - New
Café Boulud
Casa Mono - New
Convivio - New
Del Posto
eighty one
Eleven Madison Park - New
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Jewel Bako
Kajitsu - New
Kyo Ya
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Marc Forgione - New
Marea - New
Minetta Tavern - New
Modern (The)
Perry Street
Peter Luger
Rhong-Tiam - New
River Café - New
Rouge Tomate - New
Seäsonal - New
Shalizar - New
SHO Shaun Hergatt - New
Soto - New
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu - New
Sushi of Gari

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fancation in Baltimore: HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY EDGAR ALLAN POE

I guess I visited Baltimore a bit too early this summer when I focused on baseball for my "Fancations" story. I stayed at the lovely Admiral Fell Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America, and communed with the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe at Fells Point’s The Horse You Came In On Saloon next door, reputed to be one of his last living haunts. But I missed a ton of events happening this fall to commemorate the bicentennial milestone. Don’t wait until Halloween to be spooked! Get thee to Baltimore in a heartbeat so you can check out these celebratory (?) events sponsored by the City of Baltimore:

October 7th – Date of Poe’s Death – VIEWING OF POE’S BODY
Poe House and Museum
203 North Amity Street
Private viewing, family only - 9am until noon
Public viewing, noon to 11pm
This will be the public’s only opportunity to view Poe’s body before internment alongside his grandfather, grandmother and brother Henry in Westminster Graveyard on Sunday, October 11.

Westminster Graveyard
Midnight to 7am
Beginning at Midnight, join hundreds of people at the Poe Monument as a candlelight vigil is held remembering Poe. During timed intervals, people will be allowed to present their own tribute to Poe in verse, song or a simple spoken tribute. Actors will be invited to present his poems and stories during the vigil. WCBM will air live from the Poe Grave with American writer and poet Walt Whitman. Gris Grimly, artist and storyteller, will also attend the funeral.

October 11th – POE’S FUNERAL
Westminster Hall
12:30pm and 4:30pm
An antique horse-drawn funeral hearse will bring Poe’s body from his Amity Street home to the Westminster Hall for burial services. A drum and fife marching unit will lead the procession. The funeral services will include choral music and a number of speakers including people who knew Poe, his business associates, relatives, writers who were inspired by Poe including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Baudelaire, Jules Verne, Alfred Hitchcock, as well as “living people.” Famed actor John Astin will officiate over the services. Monte Maxwell, organist for the US Naval Academy Chapel, will play Westminster’s 1889 Johnson pipe organ. Click here for updates.

For more information and all year-long Poe Bicentennial events (including some with Baltimore’s unique National Museum of Dentistry) check out

Sunday is Pickle Day!

This is one of my absolute favorite things to do during the fall in Manhattan. The Ninth Annual New York City International Pickle Day is where you can try lots of types of pickles FREE, buy pickled goodies (ever had pickle ice cream?), and nosh among the various restaurants of the Lower East Side. The address is the corner parking lot on Broome Street between Essex and Ludlow, and the gluttony lasts from 11-4:30.