Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday in NYC -- 3 Ideas for Fueling Up to Deal with Manhattan's Shopping Masses

I HATE Black Friday. I really don't feel the need to go out and kill myself to get that 30% off deal. But, if you're eager for the push-and-shove, you're going to need some sustenance to get you moving. Here are 3 spots to help you kick some serious shopping butt:

Virgil's - I wouldn't have thought about Virgil's in Times Square for breakfast until I had brunch there recently. Their BBQ hash with eggs was one of the most outrageous dishes I've had in a while -- truly. On Friday, they'll be opening their doors at 9am sharp so you can enjoy their Full Country Kitchen Breakfast (until noon) with breakfast sandwiches , the mondo prote-in-packed Southern Sampler Breakfast (two eggs, chicken fried steak, bacon, sausage, pit-smoked ham, and Texas toast), or their carb-loaded butter-griddled fluffy pancakes served with maple butter and a side of bacon or sausage. Times Square is close enough to the shopping action of 5th and 6th avenues and a worthy starting point. 152 W. 44th Street

Plaza Food Hall -- If you're starting your shopping a bit later (yes, Thanksgiving was exhausting, wasn't it?), the fabulous Food Hall in the Plaza Hotel opens at 11am. This one's in the heart of 5th Avenue and right across from the Apple Store (oh, yes, the masses will all be there, for sure). Sit at any available counter seat, and order from the various food stands in the hall: The Sushi Bar, The Grill, The Oyster Bar, The Pasta Bar, or the Tapas Bar, plus salads, piza, cheese, charcuterie, dumplings, drinks, and more. One West 59th Street - Concourse Level, the Plaza Hotel.

The Shops at Columbus Circle --And, of course, you'll need an afternoon snack. Starting at 2pm, Bouchon Bakery, Landmarc, Porter House New York and Union Square Events will be giving out complimentary goodies to keep your energy levels high. Try the chocolate chip cookies from Porter House, mini s'mores from Landmarc, star cookies from Bouchon Bakery, and mallomars from Union Square Events. But, hurry, supplies are limited. 10 Columbus Circle.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Stay Fit on Thanksgiving Day -- Smart Eating Tips

I'm the most guilty one here -- I eat out almost every night of the week (read my Thanksgiving articles on, and I'm pretty diligent about cleaning my plate. Thanksgiving is even harder, because it's a meal when you're encouraged to eat everything and you have hours and hours to sit, sip and munch over conversations with your family.

Travel and Food Notes welcomes guest blogger Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition, my favorite expert when it comes to helping me recover from my foodie lifestyle. Here's Stephanie's advice for dealing with the excesses of Thanksgiving and recuperating.

Thanksgiving is probably the most anticipated meal of the year. We all have our favorites, the mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, creamy vegetables or casseroles and pies galore. A typical Thanksgiving meal can add up to 3,500 calories, that's one and a half times your daily calorie intake! Below are some strategies to help you eat your favorite foods without feeling like you need to run a marathon to burn the meal off.

1. Plate proportions: 1/2 of your plate should be vegetables or salad, 1/4(or 1 fist size) protein and the other 1/4 your carbohydrate (i.e. stuffing, potatoes, squash, etc.). Whether you choose your favorite carbohydrate and stick to one serving or choose a few, the key is to keep to 1/4 of your plate!

2. 1 plate rule: If you consumed the above, you should not need a second serving! Give yourself at least 20 minutes for the food to get digested before you make a move.

3. Slow down! We often scarf our food down at this meal. Be sure to put your fork down at least 4 times and drink at least 2 full glasses of water during the meal.

4. Have dessert: If you have a sweet tooth, choose 1 dessert, enjoy it and no picking. Choosing pumpkin pie or apple pie over pecan pie can save over 200 calories. Furthermore, if you forgo the crust, you are saving yourself another 100 calories.

5. Sip wisely: every 4 ounce glass of wine is roughly 100 calories. Multiply that by 4 and you have added a meal worth of calories. Wine, spritzers, light beer, a glass of bubbly or liquor with soda water or on the rocks are the least caloric options. The sugar in the alcohol or mixers increases your sugar cravings and the alcohol acts as an appetite stimulant causing you to go for that second slice of pie.

6. Eat during the day: Have a healthy breakfast and lunch and don’t arrive to the table starving. As much as you think you are saving calories, you will attack everything in front of you.

7. Beware of the pickables: (i.e. bowl of nuts, cheese plate, hummus and crudités, crackers and guacamole). 20 nuts in one handful= roughly 200 calories; 5 wedges of cheese=over 500 calories. Forgo these items. Save the calories for the good stuff at the meal itself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

SEE New York Sparkle by SEA (well, actually, RIVER) through December 26 with Classic Harbor’s New Architecture Cruise

After my many walks across the High Line and visits to the Standard Hotel, as well as an in-depth exploration of Chicago architecture on the fabulous Chicago Architecture Foundation boat cruise , I am delighted that NYC finally has its own version of an architecture cruise. Viewing the buildings of Manhattan from the High Line is one thing, and a walking tour can only cover so much ground in this city, so a tour by boat with architecture expert is a welcome addition. Classic Harbor Line’s new “Official NYC Architecture Tour” launched this summer and invites you on-board the decks of the Manhattan, an elegant 1920s-style yacht with an enclosed back-deck observatory, to experience and be in inspired by Manhattan’s buildings and bridges, by water.

I’ve always loved Classic Harbor Line’s cruises like the foodie-fantastic Morimoto Sushi & Sake Sunset Sail and the gorgeous four-hour Fall Foliage Cruise, and their new architecture cruise certainly met my expectations. The 2-hour and 45-minute sail sets off from Chelsea Piers (Pier 62) and is narrated by architects and members of the NYC AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapter. My cruise had a fabulous set of guides, Rick Bell, executive director of AIANY, and one of his staff. They knowledgeably educated on our sail under all 18 bridges around the island of Manhattan, channeling our inner Frank Gehry as we juggled cameras, glasses of champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Cruise highlights include East River icons such as Gracie Mansion, the UN, and the Seagram Building; the modern additions to the West Side, referred to as “Starchitecture,” such as The Standard Hotel, Frank Gehry’s IAC, and Jean Nouvel’s Eleventh Ave condos; Lower Manhattan’s classics such as Trinity Church, the Woolworth Building, and Pier A; and much more.

The tour runs through December 12 and is offered on Tuesdays at 1:15pm and select Saturdays and Sundays at 2:15pm. Priced at $75, the tour can be booked online or by calling 212-209-3370. Departure point is Chelsea Piers, Pier 62, W. 22nd St. and Hudson River.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Marriott Offers New Family Deal for Nickelodeon Fans -- Through December 26

Family vacations often walk a fine line between stress and enjoyment. Marriott wants your vacations to all be enjoyable. It's new partnership with Nickelodeon, the Nickelodeon Your Stay Promotion, runs through December 26 at nearly 2,000 hotels in the US and Canada including JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites, and has goodies for both parents and kids.

After doing some surveying, Marriott found that downtime periods, meals and bedtime were most stressful for parents. To keep the kids occupied, the promotion gives kids a free bracelet with a URL to an exclusive online SpongeBob SquarePants-branded game on, an activity book with mazes and brain teasers, and Nickelodeon activity placemats for mealtime.

Families can add even more enticements with a $10 upgrade to the Nickelodeon package. Kids will receive a SpongeBob SquarePants activity bag, a brightly colored splash ball (good for bathtubs and pools), Nickelodeon sunglasses, and a 3-D “build-your-own SpongeBob” craft. At JW Marriotts and Marriott Hotels, a $20 upgrade includes SpongeBob SquarePants-branded items plus turndown service with a SpongeBob pillowcase and a travel-themed SpongeBob storybook.

To add some Nickelodeon day activities to the stay, the family can embark on a Nickelodeon Getaway, a multi-day family vacation with live entertainment and arts and crafts programs.

Parents have a new online resource, too, with, filled with parenting tips, community, and travel tips and information about family-friendly vacations.

Visit or call 877-Nick-Stay 877-642-5729.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fabulous Photo from my Hometown, Swampscott: Stormy Seas

Swampscott, Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of David Sokol, North of Boston Blog

Los Cabos' Capella Resort: One Year Old

Travel and Food Notes welcomes guest blogger Kate Goodin, an editor at and writer for

Last November I visited the Capella Pedregal resort in Cabo San Lucas. Between the beautiful, secluded setting at the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula near Land’s End, and the warm and attentive service, I had an immensely enjoyable visit. This November I came back to Cabo and I made sure to drop in on Capella Pedregal, particularly eager to relive my favorite part of the resort: its restaurants and food.

First stop was the resort’s main eatery Don Manuel’s, for lunch. The waiter Marco was friendly and attentive – just as I had remembered the staff to be. After some ceviche and succulent lobster tacos, Capella’s Executive Chef Marco Bustamante, with whom I had taken a cooking class on my last visit, graciously stopped by to say hello. I was encouraged to stay as long as I liked, with my iced tea topped off and a pool waiter stopping by: Would I like to try a truffle? Why, yes, I would!

It was those touches that made my first visit so memorable, and I am happy to report nothing has changed in that respect. The resort itself was beautiful as ever. Judging from a cursory glance it appeared that all 44 rooms still had private plunge pools firmly ensconced (my favorite amenity). What was new to me was the seaside seafood restaurant El Farallon, carved into the rocks on the beach, which was not open on my last visit,

I arrived at El Farallon quite late, not long before their usual closing time at 11 pm. I figured a quick drink and I’d be on my way – but, of course, the staff was as gracious as ever and offered me the full El Farallon dining experience. I was also so pleased to see many people who had taken such good care of me on my last visit. In particular I was happy to see Antonio deftly preparing all manner of seafood at El Farallon; he cooked in su cocina in Don Manuel’s on my last visit, and I still remember a tuna with carrot-ginger puree amuse-bouche he made for me.

There is no menu at El Farallon. It changes daily based on what’s the freshest catch, and the “Captain” presents you with a bounty of options: Spiny lobster, scallops, sea bass, red snapper and more were all offered the night I was there. You choose your sides as well; the asparagus I ordered was prepared simply, but the grilled corn was especially memorable, beautifully charred and caramelized. My scallops were gently coaxed into a cooked state, clean and butter-soft.

The whole dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable affair; despite dining alone I never once felt lonely, with a constant stream of attentive (but never obtrusive) waiters and chefs accommodating me (even preparing a dessert of orange-scented crepes with chocolate on the fly, well after closing, with my only instruction being “Surprise me with something chocolate”). It was quite dark but the crash of the waves and occasional sea spray provided pleasant ambiance; I think I would prefer dining there at sunset, but an after-dark dinner is well-suited for a more private, romantic dinner. The waiters helpfully illuminate your dinner with flashlights, so you can see what you’re having.

This new part of Capella only heightened my initial impression of the resort, which is that I would unequivocally recommend a stay for anyone looking for quiet, luxurious getaway in Cabo.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Arrives on Broadway: One Heck of a Crazy Rollercoaster

I'm now firmly convinced not to read reviews BEFORE I go see a play. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the diva-studded musical adaptation of Pedro Almodovar's fabulous movie, opened to mixed and mostly sketchy reviews with almost all alluding to the "mess" that constituted this play. With music reminiscent of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and lots of Sondheim, this show is a dizzying look at relationships in 80s Madrid. The cast is fantastic: there's almost too much talent on one stage, namely Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Patti LuPone (Gypsy, Evita, Sweeney Todd), Laura Benanti (Gypsy, Nine), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Kiss Me Kate, Man of La Mancha), Mary Beth Peil (The Good Wife, The King and I), d'Adre Aziza (Passing Strange), and Danny Burstein (South Pacific, The Drowsy Chaperone, Boardwalk Empire). How can you not have a good time? Perhaps it is a bit discombobulated and you may feel like the show has ADD (as some critics have suggested), but that's part of the insane fun. Put aside that "I know good theater, and this isn't it" attitude, and enjoy! This show's a blast!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eater 2010 Restaurant Awards Announced

Announced today, the 2010 EATER AWARDS, presented by GREY GOOSE. In 50 categories spanning seven cities, the winners comprise a diverse bunch of the finest and most interesting chefs, operators, and characters in the country. We applaud!!

Restaurant of the Year


ABC Kitchen, The Breslin, Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Torrisi Italian Specialties, Roberta'sFinalists: Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Roberta's

Winner: Torrisi Italian Specialties*

So Hot Right Now


Burger & Barrel, The Lambs Club, Lotus of Siam, M. Wells, Osteria Morini, Peels

Finalists: Burger & Barrel, M. Wells, Osteria Morini

Winner: Osteria Morini

Chef of the Year


Einat Admony (Balaboosta), Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), Dan Kluger (ABC Kitchen), Mark Ladner (Del Posto), Anita Lo (Annisa), Michael White (Alto, Convivio, Marea, Osteria Morini)Finalists: Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), Mark Ladner (Del Posto), Michael White (Marea, Osteria Morini, Convivio, Alto)

Winner: Michael White (Alto, Convivio, Marea, Osteria Morini)

Shaker of the Year


Damon Boelte (Prime Meats), Jim Meehan (PDT); Julie Reiner (Clover Club); Greg Seider (Summit); Phil Ward (Mayahuel); Yana Volfson (Freemans, Peels) Finalists: Damon Boelte (Prime Meats), Jim Meehan (PDT), Yana Wolfson (Freemans/Peels)

Winner: Yana Volfson (Freemans, Peels)

Keith McNally Restaurant of the YearAwarded annually to the Keith McNally restaurant that opened closest to press time.

Winner: Pulino's

Danny Meyer Empire Builder of the YearIn recognition of a chef, restaurateur or team whose heads-down, unbridled need for an empire in 2010 came closet to matching that of Empire Builder Meyer himself.


Michael Bao, Chris Cannon and Michael White, Dave Chang and Christina Tosi, Scott Conant, Ken Friedman, Gabriel Stulman

Winner: Chris Cannon and Michael White

Jean-Georges Vongerichten Award for Quietly Killing ItAwarded to the person or team whose 2010 ascent was most ninja-like.

Winner: Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo

Daniel Boulud Award for Most Originally Named Restaurant of the YearNamed in honor of the best restaurant namer there ever was.

Winner: Fat Radish

Eric Ripert's Kids AwardAwarded to a young chef who would benefit most from a day of serious Buddhist training from Eric Ripert.

Winner: César Ramirez

Thomas Keller Benefit-of-the-Doubt AwardPresented to the Keller Alum who will surely get it right because he worked for Keller. He will, right?

Winner: Jonathan Benno (Lincoln)

Tom Colicchio Up-and-Coming Stone-Cold Hustler Award Blink and you'll miss Tom Colicchio inking another lucrative deal.

Winner: David Chang

Comeback of the Year Presented to that restaurant whose return from the dead proved most grand.

Winner: The John Dory

Shitshow of the Year, New York


Abe + Arthurs, Bar Artisanal, Kenmare, The Lion, Rouge Tomate, Shang

Winner: Kenmare

Spectacle of the Year, New York


4Food, Ace Hotel, Josh Ozersky's Wedding, Marcus Samuelsson, McNally vs. Platt, Tavern on the Green

Winner: Josh Ozersky's Wedding (and Subsequent Media Shitstorm)

Eater Door Prize for Toughest Door of the Year


The Boom Boom Room, Jane Hotel, Kenmare, Le Bain, Provocateur

Winner: The Boom Boom Room

For more national winners and all chef and restaurateur winners across the country click through here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chock Full o' Nuts Returns to New York City: Hooray for Nutted Cheese

Are we yearning for the good old times? The new Chock Full o'
Nuts on West 23rd Street made me shiver when I saw its signature Nutted Cheese sandwich on the menu. I still remember paper-wrapped sandwich that the ladies served when you asked for it. There's also the Chock Classic: homemade date nut bread with cream cheese (for our generation, it's whipped cream cheese). But now they've caved in to modern tastes: you can get a grilled portabello sandwich and a veggie omelet to go with your cup of java. In my mind, it's still a diner and a NYC icon at that. I'll have to forgo my Starbucks one day and try Chock's coffee again. I still miss the old Comfort Diner where Chock Full o' Nuts is now located, but this ones gives a pretty cool dose of nostalgia. 25 West 23rd Street, 212-924-FOOD (3663)..

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Broadway Pays Tribute to Jerry Bock

Lights on Broadway will be dimmed tonight in tribute to the passing of a Broadway legend, Jerry Bock.

Here's the full press release about this important composer:

Jerry Bock was an inspired musical composer who wrote the scores to such shows as Fiddler on the Roof and The Apple Tree.Mr. Bock made his Broadway debut in 1955 with Catch a Star, a musical revue in which he collaborated on music and lyrics.

Jerry Bock was best known for the memorable and thoughtful score for Fiddler on the Roof, which incorporates Jewish prayer and klezmer music within a musical theater score. He also composed the shows Mr. Wonderful, The Body Beautiful, Fiorello!, Tenderloin, Never Too Late, Man in the Moon, She Loves Me, Baker Street, Generation, and The Rothschilds. He scored another musical hit in 1966 with The Apple Tree which was revived on Broadway in 2006. Mr. Bock collaborated with many notable Broadway writers, but he consistently worked with the late Joseph Stein, who wrote the book to Fiddler on the Roof, and his long-time creative partner lyricist Sheldon Harnick, also of Fiddler on the Roof.

Mr. Bock received the 1965 Tony Award® for writing the music to Fiddler on the Roof, which also won the 1965 Tony Award® for Best Musical. He won his first Tony Award® for his Best Musical Fiorello! in 1960. Fiorello! also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that same year. He was nominated for She Loves Me (1964), The Apple Tree (1967) and The Rothschilds (1971). Mr. Bock was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week: November 5-13

Get your hair in a poof and head down to Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, running November 5 through November 13 at this year’s favorite destination. You won’t have time for GTL (gym, tan, laundry), but even The Situation would approve of taking a break from tending to his abs to indulge in this year’s fabulous fare. Participating restaurants will offer a three- course prix fixe lunch menu for $20.10 and a three-course dinner menu for $30.10.

Our dining recommendations include David Burke’s Fromagerie (26 Ridge Rd, Rumson, NJ 07760, 732-842-8088); Klein’s (Corner of Main St. & River Road, Belmar, NJ 07719; 732-681-1177; Raven & the Peach (740 River Road, Fair Haven, NJ 07704; 732-747-4666; Avenue (23 Ocean Ave, Long Branch, NJ 07740; 732-759-2900; Gaetano’s (10 Wallace St, Red Bank, NJ 07701; 732-741-1321; and The Mill (101 Old Mill Road, Spring Lake Heights, NJ 07762; 732-449-1800.

While you're there, get your mind out of the "Jersey Shore" TV gutter and be a Jersey Shore culinary tourist:

Asbury Trolley Tour: Start the party at The Berkeley Hotel at 6pm, where you will hop on a trolley and enjoy live music, cocktails, hor d’ouevres at Langosta Lounge and Trinity and The Pope. The night ends with a 3-course dinner and more cocktails at the Dauphin Grill.

The Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest: Rocket over to Jenkinson’s on the famous Point Pleasant Boardwalk, known for its nightlife scene and party atmosphere. Watch as area bartenders compete to create the perfect Tito’s Martini while enjoying martini tastings and food with a live band. November 11, 7-10pm

Burgers, Bloodies, and Brews: From 12-3pm on November 13, enjoy three types of burgers, three kinds of Bloody Marys, and three types of beer at a special price at Harpoon Willy’s in Manasquan.