Monday, September 27, 2010

NYC October Food Events: Lobster Boil and Oktoberfest (Free!)

These are two events that really made me smile -- I hope to see you at these:

Lobstah Boil: The End of the Summer Maine Event!
- Saturday, October 2 - 4-9pm
63 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY

Red Hook Lobster Pound comes to Williamsburg. with DJ's setting the vibe $27 (including tax) per plate. What you get: a whole Maine Lobster, potato salad, cole slaw, corn with lots of buttah. Where: A sweet clandestine vacant lot turned into a divine dinner spot. (Rain date 10/3/10)
Tickets are $27 per person

Oktoberfest on Governors Island
-- Saturday, October 9, 12Noon - 5pm

Come for an afternoon of crisp New York and German beers (root beer for the kids), warm food, music, families and good times. They'll also be lots of food vendors, lawn games, live bands, and activities for all ages. The event is free and the view from Governors Island is priceless.

A Spy Trip to Washington, DC: Scoping Out the Capital for an Upcoming Fancation

Travel and Food Notes welcomes guest blogger Brooke Perry

Sure, spies are making New York City headlines but did you know that Washington, D.C. – less than three hours by train from the Big Apple – is home to more spies than any other place on earth? If you’re missing the adrenaline rush of 24, there’s no better time than now to uncover the Capital’s oh-so-secret side.

Set your sights on the cutting-edge confines of the International Spy Museum, where a new attraction -- Operation Spy -- seemingly drops Jack Bauer wanna-bes into an episode of the TV show. In this interactive one-hour experience, would-be spies will crack a safe, decode messages, conduct video surveillance and steal secrets in their quest to locate a missing nuclear trigger before it falls into the enemy hands. Before your mission, or after, don’t miss the Spy Museum’s permanent exhibits, where you can trace the history of espionage and survey more than 50 years of spy technology and spycraft, including gadgets, bugs and buttonhole cameras and disguise techniques.

Well-known double-agent Aldrich Ames famously said, “I did it for the money” so we’re sure he’d feel right at home at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, where
you can watch our currency on its route from the engraving plate. Tickets are free but, during the peak summer season, they are required. Tours are every 15 minutes, Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm, but arrive early! The ticket booth opens at 8 am but the day’s tickets are usually gone by 9 am.

If you’re bringing along a four-legged friend, don’t miss Paws for Spies, a walking tour for dogs and their owners.
The two-hour tour is presented by a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer and Vietnam veteran. Details at

Whether spies like baseball is up for debate but no trip to D.C. is complete without a trek to Nationals Park, located in the fast-growing Capitol Riverfront area in Southwest D.C. The new park, said to redefine modern sports facility architecture, is a must-see for fans of America’s favorite pastime and an ideal destination for families. Get there early for a chance to visit the Family Fun Area near the Center Field Gate, a brand-name entertainment mecca complete with the Exxon Strike Zone, Build-A-Bear Workshop, GEICO Racing Presidents and the Playstation Pavilion. You’ll need stealth skills to visit them all before the Nationals game time! On Wednesdays, bring a copy of the day’s Washington Post for $5 off tickets of $24 and up.

When it’s time to go under cover (as in under the covers), try The Madison, A Loews Hotel, or the Liaison Capitol Hill, An Affinia Hotel. Both offer great specials for families, including 50% off the second room at The Madison. At the Affinia Liaison, the youngest guests are treated to a backpack stocked with a Frommer’s guide book for kids, a deck of 52 city adventure cards, a kids digital camera and scrapbook with city stickers.

Other Suggested “Spy” Places (not necessarily with kids),
courtesy of Washington DC tourism expert Christopher Gieckel of Destination DC:

If you want to keep a close watch on Capitol Hill, make the Hotel George your base of operations. Named after first president and American spymaster, George Washington, the hotel offers an "Undercover Washington" package that includes admission to the International Spy Museum and a "Spy Kit" complete with a guide to DC locations where famous spies once lived and worked and a "Spymaster Skills Exam" Rates start at $199 per night.

Or, stay in a hotel with a twist of espionage history such as the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. Prior to the United States' entry into World War II, British spy "Cynthia" holed up in the hotel as she and her group spied on the French Vichy Embassy. After procuring documents from the embassy, Cynthia and her associates would photograph the files in a lab set up in a guest room.

Spy stories abound at the Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel, where J. Edgar Hoover dined nearly every day for 20 years. It was also a refuge for German spy George Dasch, who traveled to the U.S. with seven associates in 1942 as part of a plot to destroy factories and power plants. Dasch fled to Washington, DC and checked into the Mayflower, where he contacted the FBI and revealed the saboteurs' plot.

For a modern spy experience, check in to the luxe Mandarin Oriental Washington DC. Movie fans will recognize it as a backdrop featured in Angelina Jolie's recent hit film, "SALT."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eat, Eat, Eat at the Vendy Awards This Saturday: Governors Island Welcomes Food Truck Finalists

The Vendy Awards are this Saturday, moving from Flushing Meadows Corona Park to Governors Island this year. The sixth celebration of the city's best street vendors will be judged by Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island; Molly O'Neill, food author and journalist and past host of Great Food on PBS; Aaron Sanchez, co-star of Food Network's Chefs vs. City and owner/executive chef of Centrico restaurant; Stephen Starr, owner of Starr Restaurants; Tanya Wenman Steel, Editor-in-Chief of; and Alyson Waller, the 2010 "Citizen" judge.
The judges will award one finalist the Vendy Cup, and Vendy Awards attendees will vote to choose the People's Taste Award winner from the finalists. The audience will also vote for the dessert category and Rookie Vendor of the Year.

This year's finalists include: Bistro Truck, El Rey de Sabor, King of Falafel and Shawarma, Patacon Pisao, Schnitzel & Things (second year in a row), Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (also, second year in a row), Dessert Truck, Guerilla Ice Cream, Kelvin Natural Slush Co., Yao's Dragon Beard Candy, A-Pou's Taste, Souvlaki GR, The Cinnamon Snail, 99% Vegetarian, and Mexicue.

Unfortunately, only premium tickets are still available, but you can read more about the finalists and view the list of winners on Sunday.

In other food truck news, NYC has announced the food trucks selected to operate at the former Tavern on the Green space in Central Park, between 66th and 67th streets, off Central Park West. Starting October 15, Rickshaw Dumpling, Ladle of Love (serving homemade soups and stews), Pera Mediterranean Brasserie and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream will open their windows from 10am-10pm daily.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September is Yoga Month -- 2 More Weeks to Enjoy Yoga Deals

Ease into fall with a deep relaxing breath and a good stretch during National Yoga Month. If you’re looking to jazz up your downward dog while you take a long-needed vacation (yes, the kids are back at school), many hotels across the country are offering free or low-cost yoga classes.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel: Where better to feel truly relaxed than on the beach accompanied by the sound of crashing waves? Loews Miami Beach Hotel offers guests daily complimentary beach yoga classes at 8:30 am (except Wednesday). Let the gorgeous palm trees on the hotel's outdoor promenade and on the beach inspire your tree pose. 1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139; 305-604-1601;

Hotel Palomar Chicago and Hotel Palomar Atlanta: Kimpton’s trendy Hotel Palomar in Chicago and Atlanta invite guests to escape the hustle and bustle of both cities and enjoy a yoga session in the comfort of their rooms. The front desks have complimentary yoga baskets which include a personal mat. Guests can then turn on Hotel Palomar’s in-room yoga program on their televisions and begin a Vinyasa session.

Chicago- 505 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654; 877-731-0505; Atlanta- 866 West Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30308; 866-945-6285;

Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club: After a day exploring the best of St. Petersburg (see our recommendations:, make sure to stay at the beautiful Renaissance Vinoy, a member of Historic Hotels of America as well as a AAA Four-Diamond resort. Channel your inner zen at any of the complimentary yoga classes for guests.

501 5th Avenue NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; 727-894-1000;

Royal Hideaway Playacar: Throw off your sombrero from the night before and head outdoors for poolside yoga classes when staying at this adults-only resort in Riviera Maya. The classes start at 8 am multiple times a week and run for an hour. Classes are included in the all-inclusive rate at this Leading Hotel of the World property. Lote Hotelero #6 Fracc, Playacar Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo C.P. 77710, Mexico; 1-800-999-9182;

The Liaison Capitol Hill: This boutique Affinia property in our nation’s capital offers complimentary yoga classes from 7:30am-8:30am daily by the hotel’s rooftop pool. The Vinyasa-based class is designed for yogis and yoginis of all levels. Towels, yoga mats, and bottled water are also complimentary for all participants. Pre-registration is required and can be done at the front desk. The program will be offered through September 26th.

415 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001; 202-638-1616;

If you can’t get away during the month, you’re still in luck. Search for yoga month events in your local area here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Love Newport in the Fall: Newport Wine & Food Festival Slated for September 24-26

The 5th annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival will take place September 24-26 in the picturesque seaside resort of Newport, Rhode Island. Sponsored by Food & Wine magazine, the Festival showcases more than 100 world-renowned vintners, 500 luxury international wines, exquisite food from more than 20 of the finest restaurants and caterers in New England, and cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs from American Public Television and the Food Network.

Among the dozens of acclaimed chefs traveling to the historic Rosecliff and Marble House mansions to give their cooking demonstrations are Chris Cosentino of Food Network's “Chefs vs. City” and Incanto Restaurant in San Francisco, Christina Pirello of American Public Television and Create TV, and David Burke of David Burke’s Prime. Food and Wine's Ray Isle and Thirsty Girl’s Leslie Sbrocco will lead seminars throughout the weekend. Guests can also observe viniculture artist Thomas Arvid as he creates a distinct wine-themed painting. Various live and silent auctions will also be held throughout the weekend.

Key events:
Friday: Wine & Rosecliff Gala, where guests will rub shoulders with the Festival’s celebrity chefs and see some of the region’s best culinary creations.
Saturday: All-inclusive Grand Tasting at Marble House from 12 Noon -4pm
Sunday: Jazz Brunch at 11am on the Marble House terrace and all-inclusive Grand Tasting at Marble House from 12 Noon - 4pm

Admission covers wine samplings, small-plate tastings, cooking demonstrations, a souvenir glass, tote bag, free parking and shuttle transportation to and from Marble House. Guests will also have a chance to tour the first floor of Marble House and get a glimpse of what America’s wealthiest mansion looked like in 1892.

All Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival proceeds will benefit The Preservation Society of Newport County, dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts. Visit or call 401-847-1000, ext. 140 for more information and to purchase tickets.

Newport is a great tourist destination: plan some time to explore the city's historic and scenic points. The Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in New England, has been meticulously refurbished with a new visitors' center. Both architecturally significant and inspiring, the synagogue is a must-see during anyone's visit to Newport. Walk along Easton’s Beach and admire the beautiful shoreline scenery, hike the famous Cliff Walk behind the stately Bellevue Avenue historic district mansions, or charter a yacht to get a sense of the outdoor sailing and ocean culture of Newport.

The Hotel Viking, a member of Historic Hotels of America, is a glamorous place to stay while visiting Newport for the Festival. Built in 1926, this historic hotel is the perfect combination of charm and elegance, and is even considered a top luxury spa hotel in New England. For something on the water, the Newport Hyatt on Goat Island, is an easy walk to town, the marina, and waterfront dining.

You can also contact Visit Rhode Island or Go Newport for more information.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hot Dog Wars Starting Up in Manhattan

Before it was the burger wars. Now it's the hot dog wars. My beloved Papaya King on 86th Street and Third opened today after a nice clean-up, adding seating, new menu items (breakfast!), and a spiffy look. Gray's Papaya on Eighth Avenue and 37th Street is offering 50-cent dogs for an unclear period of time -- grab 'em now. And Shake Shack still rules, in my opinion, with their version of the greatest hot dog ever, the Chicago dog. After I finish digesting all this "goodness," I'll get back to researching hamburgers. Promise.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Free Broadway Concert Today: Broadway on Broadway at 11:30am

Kicking off the 2010-2011 Broadway season, a beloved White Way tradition, the 19th Broadway on Broadway free musical event takes place today at 11:30am on Broadway (of course) in Times Square from 43rd to 47th streets. Produced by The Broadway League and the Times Square Alliance, this annual event will be hosted by Kelsey Grammer currently starring in La Cage aux Folles.

Songs from the following shows will be presented:

The Addams Family
American Idiot
Billy Elliot, the Musical
In the Heights
La Cage aux Folles
The Lion King
Mamma Mia!
Million Dollar Quartet
Next to Normal
The Phantom of the Opera
Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Promises, Promises
Rock of Ages
West Side Story

The event is also the start of the 2010 Back2Broadway Month, where you can find events, coupons, interactive activities and more.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jay Leno's Headlines for Foodies

In response to my post of July 29 about travel branding, style and grammar mistakes, Michael Chaffin sent in this photo. Dan Quayle would definitely approve.

P.S. If you've forgotten who Dan was, he was the 44th vice president of the US under George Bush Senior, remembered fondly for his misquotes and misspellings.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicago Renegade Arts Fair: Cool Stuff on Display and for Sale - Sept. 11 and 12

For a cool arts-oriented trip, check out, Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park (along Division Street) on September 11-12. The Fair showcases hundreds of the nation’s best independent artists, designers, and crafters and sells clothing, jewelry, posters, prints, stationery and more, from 11am – 7pm. Admission is free. To keep you entertained, there are also free workshops, raffles, and live entertainment for both adults and kids. And, of course, there's lots of local food and drink. Since the fairgrounds are located just a few miles from both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field, you can watch a game or take a ballpark tour in-between your shopping forays. This is my idea of a great “fancation.”

The Renegade Craft Fair is still a rather new nationwide event. Chicago premiered the event in 2003 and remains the most active along with San Francisco as each offers two fairs, one in the summer and a holiday fair in December. Vendors must go through a rigorous application process so what you’ll see is a collection of interesting, high-quality and often unusual items. For more information, visit And if your schedule doesn’t allow you to visit the Fair, you can shop by category and artist on RCF’s web site.