Friday, December 31, 2010

Snowstorm 2010 in New York City-Brooklyn

Each Christmas holiday, I seem to miss the "snowstorm of the year" in New York City. For other Christmas sojourners, here's a view of Brooklyn in all its silent white glory from last week thanks to WNYC Radio.

New Year's Oddities in Manhattan: Things to Do

Times Square New Year's Eve madness isn't the only way to welcome 2011. You can opt for sane or silly with these ideas:

Take in the city's gorgeous midnight fireworks display on-board a 3-hour cruise on the Hudson with Circle Line Sightseeing. Guests board at 42nd St. at 9pm and set sail at 10pm. The cruise package includes hors d’oeuvres, a full open bar and a DJ for nonstop entertainment. The cruise stops at the Statue of Liberty at midnight, so you’re guaranteed a great view of the fireworks, and complimentary party favors as well as a midnight champagne toast add to the festivities. Other cruise highlights include stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, Governor’s Island and the Brooklyn Bridge. This all-inclusive event is $140 per person; guests must be 18 to cruise, 21 to drink. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be reserved online or by calling 212-563-3200.

Ring in 2011 on the Upper West Side at Prohibition. Featured in Time Out New York and The New York Times, Prohibition distinguishes itself through its saloon-like atmosphere that resembles the typical saloon of the 1920s speakeasy era. The New Years Eve festivities will feature hors d’oeuvres, live music, pool tables and a full bar serving various drinks from the Prohibition times as well as New Years Eve classics. Best part is, guests can watch the ball drop on TVs in the restaurant. Admission is $125 per person and all guests must be 21+. 503 Columbus Ave. 212-570-3100.

Escape the noisemakers and crowds and begin 2011 in the ultimate state of peace and relaxation at the Jivamukti Yoga School 22nd Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration. This celebration offers guests 7 ½ hours of food, dance and yoga with Sharon Gannon and David Life, co-founders of the Jivamukti Yoga Method. The festivities kick off at 5pm with a two-hour yoga session, followed by a vegan dinner at JivamukTea Café. After dinner, guests are invited to a dance party, which will feature hip hop, reggae and transcendental sound vibration. Guests end 2010 with massages and silent reflection as the studio observes Mauna, the practice of silence, from 9pm-midnight. All programs are open to the public, and guests can register for this event online or by calling 212-353-0214, 841 Broadway

Admission (per person):

•Yoga class and dinner- $85
•New Year’s dinner only (9:30pm-11pm)- $35
•Kirtan Dance Party and Mauna- free

Bundle up and head to Central Park for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, especially if you’re itching to survive the holidays without gaining that dreaded holiday weight. It beats standing in Times Square since participants will be exercising and burning calories while having fun dancing and running the four-mile midnight race. Hosted by New York Road Runners, this fun-run event also features a costume contest and parade at 11pm, which will be held at the Central Park Bandshell (entrance is at 5th Ave. and 72nd St.) along with the DJ and dancing. Guests will also have spectacular views of the fireworks and a laser light show in the Park. All race participants must register before race day and will receive a special souvenir and a long-sleeve shirt. Race photos will also be available as a keepsake of this memorable New Years Eve celebration.

Entry Fees for NYRR Members and Non-Members:

Event Day- $50 Members, $25 Jr/Sr Members, $55 Non-Members
Registration is currently available online. This race is capped, so register early to claim your spot. Allow enough time to get your ticket, as no badges will be given out in the park.

Looking Back at 2010 Travel Predictions: What Do You Think?

Last year's New York Times travel predictions were interesting. Would you agree that these were "the" places to go? Where should we be focused in 2011? I just got back from Israel with a side trip to Jordan. My vote is definitely for Israel.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 Good Riddance Day: New Year's Shredding in Times Square on December 28

I've only done the "watch the ball drop" thing once in person, and I'll never be that crazy again. But, if you're determined to include Times Square in your New Year’s itinerary, Good Riddance Day and the Wishing Well are two unique celebrations not to miss. On December 28, it will be out with the old, in with the new in Times Square as visitors shred their worst memories from 2010 by disposing of them in a giant shredder. After letting go of 2010, guests can record a wish for 2011 on a piece of paper that will be added to the confetti that accompanies the New Year's Eve Ball Drop. If you can’t stop by to record your wish in person by New Year’s Eve, contribute one online. All online wishes will also be turned into confetti as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Shopping in Manhattan: Forget the Department Stores, Go to the Holiday Markets

Shopping! Gorgeous department store windows, crowds everywhere, Manhattan is a zoo right now. Add to that a dusting of snow and you've got sidewalk mayhem. Remember when you were advised to get your gifts early? Black Friday? No need to panic that you missed it because you were procrastinating -- Manhattan's Christmas Markets are the best way to score that distinctive gift for all your pals.

Union Square’s red-and-white tents are a holiday tradition. The square between 14th and 16th streets along Broadway is packed with more than 100 shops and boutiques where you can find gifts for family and friends. The nice thing, too, is that most of the crafts are handmade and you usually won’t find them in a storefront in the city. I love the winter accessories, jewelry and funky specialty items. And, in the tradition of outdoor food markets, there are also welcome treats like hot chocolate and hot apple cider, gingerbread men, crepes and more. And, my favorite food truck has an outpost here: Wafels and Dinges (read my review on Be sure to try the Spekuloos spread (sort of like crushed Teddy Grahams) on a delicious Belgian liege. New this year, there’s a Market Concierge to help you sort through the wonders. Open every day from 11am-8pm until Christmas Eve.

Just behind the New York Public Library at 42nd Street is Bryant Park’s Holiday Market. This market is sprawling with more than 125 booths from around the world. It’s a bit different from other locales because it draws holiday visitors for reasons other than shopping as well. Manhattan’s only free ice skating rink is here and there’s also a gorgeously lit Christmas tree. The rushing crowds make it clear that you’re in the heart of midtown, just inches away from jam-packed Times Square. You’ll definitely want to stop by my favorite vendor Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man to grab some energizing pralines. Open 11am-8pm during the week and 10am-9pm Saturday and 10am-6pm Sunday.

Further uptown is the Columbus Circle Market which sits at the corner of Central Park South and Central Park West. A bit more scattered than the other two markets, this one has lots of interesting booths including handmade games, handcrafted accessories, gingerbread houses, apple cider, clothing, and gorgeous jewelry laid out in pathways perpendicular to one another. I picked up a gorgeous necklace at Over the Moon Jewel . Barbara Wilkinson has an amazing touch with gemstones and is willing to customize to your taste. I had met her at the Mark’t in Madison Square Park in October. And one of my favorite Upper East Side Mexican restaurants, Cascabel , (yup, I reviewed that one, too) will keep you warm with their spicy carnita tacos. Like its Union Square sibling, this year’s Columbus Circle Market offers the services of a Market Concierge. I didn’t see her when I was there, but I could definitely have used her help. Open every day from 10am-8pm until Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sick of Brussels Sprouts? It's Time for Truffles at Restaurants East and West

I’ll never be sick of Brussels Sprouts, personally, but sometimes my foodie blood just itches for something a bit more refined. And there’s only one way to satisfy that craving: truffles! Two restaurants, one East coast and one West Coast are celebrating truffle season with outstanding menus utilizing the mushroom in innovative ways:

At Masa’s in San Francisco you can enjoy white truffles flown in from Alba, Italy in an indulgent seven-course menu from Chef Gregory Short. For $250 per person (not really that expensive, considering the labor-intensive process required to gather truffles and their very short season), you’ll enjoy sweet parsnip custard with kumamoto oyster and white truffle foam; dégustation de pomme de terre; sautéed filet of St. Pierre (which DOES come with caramelized Brussels sprouts), cepe mushroom tortellini, pan roasted roelle of Fulton Valley “poulet biologique,” white truffle ice cream float, and white truffle rice pudding “arancini.” Call 415-989-7154 to book the “Dégustation de Truffes Blances d’Alba.” 648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA

Osteria il Paiolo
wanted to be sure that East Coast folks weren’t left out. This cozy Italian restaurant in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is offering a menu of winter white truffles cooked up in a down-to-earth cozy setting. The menu is all about dishes from the Piedmont region of Italy with homemade pastas, risottos, and an array of signature polenta dishes which are topped for this special event with a shaving of white truffle for $25. The restaurant takes its name from the paiolo or copper pot in which the polenta dishes are cooked, and they are certainly the standouts on the menu. Try the polenta e osei with polenta, tomatoes and quail; or the polenta with shrimp and rosemary for something different. Call 718-218-7080 for reservations. The truffle menu will be available through the end of the year. 106 N. 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Musical Chanukah from Travel and Food Notes

Click below for some fun Chanukah video and music from the Maccabeats

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great Holiday Travel Gift: Travel + Leisure's "Unexpected US"

Travel + Leisure has just published the perfect holiday book, "Unexpected US," a lovely coffee table book with unexpected travel hideaways in the US. I love it. See Nilou Motamed's appearance on the Today Show.