Friday, December 30, 2011

Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve 2012 in New York City

I love the app MyCityWay. It's a great resource for finding fun things to do in 40 different cities (so far, with more to come).

Thanks to them, I've cherry-picked some of the most classic and most unusual things to do tomorrow night in the City:

Times Square:
This is the mother of all New Year’s Eve events. An estimated one million people descend upon Times Square each year with more than a billion watching throughout the world. Revelers arrive around 4 p.m., opening ceremonies commence at 6 p.m., and then musical performances and celebrity appearances take over until the ball drops at midnight. Mayor Bloomberg gets to invite whoever he wants to help drop the ball: this year it’s everyone’s favorite, Lady Gaga.

Here's the schedule so you can watch on TV if you're not crazy enough to go to Times Square

Webster Hall:
America’s first nightclub, Webster Hall has 126 years of party experience. The legendary Village venue has four dance floors, six rooms and four massive floors to celebrate. But the main reason thousands of people choose to ring in the New Year here is for the world’s largest balloon drop. Oh yeah, in case you’re bored, there will also be aerial performances, fire displays, and a performance by Nero after hours. 12 East 11th Street, New York City.

Madame Tussauds:
Located a mere block away from the ball drop, the party here will be full of food, cocktails, and 200 life-size wax figures of celebrities. Madame Tussauds will host a live DJ, themed rooms and 85,000 square feet of party space to help you mingle with Miley Cyrus, Diddy, Robert Pattinson, Madonna and many more. 234 West 42nd Street, New York City.

Murray Hill’s Annual NYE Extravaganza at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn: Williamsburg's the destination for debauchery done right. The Knitting Factory will be full of booze and burlesque babes, and the event’s host, Mr. Murray Hill, will be keeping the laughs going all night long. 361 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-529-6696, Tickets $25-$100.

1st Annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Festival at AMC 34th Street: 2011 hasn't been the easiest of years. So why not say goodbye with a good laugh? I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the new year's arrival. $55 general admission, 312 West 34th Street, New York City.

Deadmau5 Unhooked at Pier 36:
Love electronic music? Break out your glowsticks because the comically costumed dance-master is taking over the three-tiered 64,000 square-foot pier. General admission with four-hour premium open bar costs $215. 299 South Street, New York City.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden: This historic beer hall in Astoria, Queens knows how to ring in 2012 with a buffet and bierhaus bang. 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, 718-274-4925. $90-$100 per person; $160-180 per couple.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Travel Ideas for 2012: I Want Your Thoughts

In preparation for the travel year ahead -- so far, Cuba, Boston, Thailand, and Sicily are in the works -- I'd love to know what you'd like to hear about. Travel? Food? What else is on your mind? Write your comments here or send me a tweet to @merylpearlstein or leave a Facebook post at MDP Publicity.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best Places for Chanukah Meals in Manhattan

I'm not one to grate potato latkes or slave over a brisket for an entire day as part of my Chanukah celebration. But I am all about the eight days of Menorah lighting, playing dreidl with the kids, and enjoying a fabulous meal. For me, the latter means taking it to the streets, that is, to some of the best restaurants in Manhattan.

Here's where I'll be going for Chanukah (December 20-28):


Chef Julian Medina adds a spicy spin on the holiday classics with his impressive Mexican Hanukkah menu. Served at all four of his restaurant, Toloache 50, the new Toloache 82, Yerba Buena Avenue A, and Yerba Buena Perry, the special menu will be available for all eight days of Hanukkah with amazing dishes like the Latkes Trio (potato jalapeño, zucchini, and Mexican ricotta) and Tacos de Brisket, Bohemia braised tacos with tomatillo salsa options. The Pollo Marrakesh entrée paired with the Hanukkah Margarita, made with Mexican chocolate-infused Herradura Reposado and strawberries and agave nectar, are reasons alone for indulgence. To top off the entire experience, enjoy the Mexican Sufganivot dessert of donuts filled with dulce de leche. Toloache 50, 251 W 50th Street, 212.581.1818; Toloache 82, 166 E 82nd Street, 212.861.4505; Yerba Buena Avenue A, 23 Avenue, 212.529.2919; Yerba Buena Perry, One Perry Street, 212.620.0808

Neely’s Barbecue Parlor: A sweet and edgy blend of brown-sugared sour cream and bourbon-spiked applesauce tops off Executive Chef Wade Burch’s Sweet Potato Latkes at the new Neely’s Barbecue on the Upper East Side. For the eight nights of Hanukkah, you’ll get your fix of eight Sweet Potato Latkes for only $8.88. This unique take on the traditional latke transforms sweet potatoes into golden-brown, slightly crispy patties on the outside, while keeping the soft consistency we all love, on the inside. 1125 First Avenue, 212.832.1551

Brooklyn Diner: Free Latkes! At this Manhattan favorite for upscale comfort and diner food, complimentary potato pancakes will be served throughout the eight days of Chanukah, with your choice of sour cream or applesauce. At both West-side locations, you will find absolutely scrumptious Jewish-American classic dishes. From the Smoked Fish platter of Nova Scotia Salmon and Sturgeon to the hand-carved Hot Pastrami, you’ll find plenty of choices for a holiday feast. 212 W 57th Street (between Broadway and 7th Avenue, 212.977.1957; 155 W 43rd Street (between Broadway and 6th Avenue), 212.265.5400

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Celebrating Chanukah with Beer in Oregon and Restaurants in NYC

I’ve been writing about all the wonderful New York City Chanukah dining feasts on, but there are others happening throughout the country that deserve mention as well. My favorite of all has to be this one at the Lompoc Brewery in Portland, Oregon. In honor of the Eight Nights of Chanukah, they are introducing 8 Malty Nights, specially brewed for the celebration. I would have never associated beer with Chanukah, but why not? Better still, it’s in partnership with Shmaltz Brewing Co. of New York (gotta love the name of that one), and they’re offering yet another brilliantly named brew Jewbelation 15 anniversary ale, celebrating 15 years of the brewery with 15 robust malts, 15 unique hops, and a striking 15% ABV. I think they should be offering a Jewbelation 8 as well for the holiday and for those of us with lower tolerance.

On Saturday, the Green Dragon in Portland holds the "Chanukah vs. Christmas: The Royale of Beers." From the Shmaltz camp, the line-up is: Jewbelation 15; Genesis 15:15, a 13.4% barley wine brewed with pomegranates, figs, dates and grapes and aged for 9 months in Sazerac Rye barrels; Hop Manna Test Batch #2, Shmaltz's new unreleased IPA; Vertical Jewbelation, a barrel-aged blend of all seven Jewbelation recipes; and Geektoberfest, a blend of seven beers from Shmaltz, Ithaca and Captain Lawrence that served as the official beer for New York Craft Beer Week.

Christmas contenders include 2010 Franc'ly Brewdolph, a Belgian red aged for one year in Cabernet Franc barrels; Cherry Christmas, a blend of four different unique beers; Old Tavern Rat, a dark, amber colored barley wine aged for nearly a year prior to its release; and Bourbon Barrel Aged C-sons Greetings, a deep copper colored beer with caramel and resinous hop notes that was aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Festivities at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Massachusetts

In the spirit of the holiday season, the Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston has designed a wonderful itinerary of events and activities for family members of all ages. Located in the heart of Cambridge, along the left bank of the Charles River, the hotel makes for a beautiful mix of culture and flair, especially during December. Spectacular city views, beautiful art, wonderful dining, and amazing hotel offerings mark this as one of Boston’s most comprehensive luxury hotels… and the place to celebrate the holidays with your significant other, or with the family.

The hotel wants you to feel like one of the Sonesta family and is offering special “Home for the Holidays” rates to keep you pampered (and sane) while you spend time with your family. Rooms start at a super-low $119 per night per room, and the hotel promises to cater to all of your family needs.

For the grown-ups in your party, cocktail-making classes will be offered every Friday in December, under the guidance of Troy Clarke, the hotel’s über-talented Director of Food and Beverage. Classes are $20/person for ages 21+ and include lessons on how to design the perfect holiday cocktail (think hot toddy’s, rum cocktails and spiked coffees). Complimentary appetizers keep the creative juices flowing. The classes are open to novice mixologists as well as those more experienced and guarantee a lively time for all. Reservations are required.

The Sonesta never loses sight of its younger guests at any time of the year, and the hotel’s holiday activities will put a sweet smile on their faces as well. Sundays in December from 10am-Noon will find kids up to their figurative elbows in colorful frostings and trimming as they decorate cookies in their own special way. Prices are $10/child, or free for children aged 3 and under.

The traditional Christmas brunch and dinner offered at the riverview ArtBar is perfect for small and large appetites, with a full holiday buffet or a la carte brunch selections. Christmas dinner features a variety of chef specials. Christmas Brunch is $50/adults and $24/children. Reservations are required for Christmas Dinner. 617-806-4122.

Park the car in the hotel’s garage, settle in for a luxe evening, and enjoy the hotel’s lavish New Year’s Eve festivities without worrying about driving home afterwards. A six-course Chef’s tasting menu and live musical entertainment set the stage to usher in 2012. Dinner is priced at $65 per person, with a wine pairing menu offered for $90 per person. Seating will be available from 6-10pm and reservations are required.

Further details are available at 617.806.4250

Monday, November 28, 2011

Celebrate, Shop and Be Charitable at Winter's Eve - Time Warner Center and Lincoln Square, November 28

If you’re a holiday (and shopping) junkie, here’s yet one more night to celebrate, Monday November 28, and kick your holiday charity-giving into gear. There will be lots of food (as if you haven’t had enough this weekend), plus free entertainment and lots of good holiday energy. Monday night is Winter’s Eve night in Lincoln Square, Manhattan.

The 12th annual Winter’s Eve, sponsored by Time Warner, kicks off at 5:30pm with a performance by Arlo Guthrie and the Newark Boys Chorus, followed by the Upper West Side traditional neighborhood tree lighting ceremony at Dante Park (Broadway & 63rd St). Events will continue throughout the night along Broadway from the Time Warner Center to 68th St.

The best of all musical genres will be featured throughout the night, from performances by Big Apple Circus and various school groups including the LaGuardia High School Show Choir at the Time Warner Center, jazz artist Catherine Russell at the American Folk Art Museum, and rhythm and blues bassist Christian McBride at the West Side Apple Store. Don’t miss the live ice sculpting by the father-son design team of Okamoto Studio in front of the Time Warner Center on at Columbus Circle.

One of the best events of the evening is the signature dish sampling by Lincoln Square’s favorite restaurants, with dishes priced from only $1 to $5 each. The stellar line-up includes A Voce, Bar Masa, Ed’s Chowder House, Francesco’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, La Boite en Bois, Luce Restaurant & Enoteca, Magnolia Bakery, P.J. Clarke’s and others. Tastings will also be held in front of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle from 6-8:30pm.

Some of the activities throughout the evening, catering to both children and adults, include Arts & Crafts with the Big Apple Circus on the 2nd floor of the Time Warner Center, a World Dance presentation by Dance Parade, Inc, and free admission to The American Folk Art Museum’s 9/11 National Tribute Quilt & Super Star exhibition.

Most Lincoln Square retailers, including all stores at the Time Warner Center and many on Broadway, will remain open late for the night, offering special values and holiday features for this Monday evening only (much better than Black Friday or Cyber Monday).

The New York Cares Coat Drive asks you to bring any new or used coats to the event. The annual coat drive is in particular need of children’s coats and large men’s coats this season.

All in all, this is a great way to morph one holiday into the next. For more information and entertainment listings check out: or call 212.581.3774.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving: Dining Tips to Keep You Healthy during the Holidays

Travel and Food Notes welcomes guest blogger Sarah Wickline. Continuing our tradition of providing tips for staying food-sane and calorie-healthy during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, Sarah shares her tips for healthy dining survival.

Great food on the road

The holidays are here, which means many of your meals will be enjoyed with family and friends. It also means a lot of travel for some, which can also lead to bad food. You probably already have plenty of easy dinner recipes, but what about finding good food on the road? Follow these tips to make sure you don’t find yourself underwhelmed during your holiday travels this year.

Preparation is key

There are two ways to eat well while travelling: Being spontaneous or making a detailed plan beforehand. The former used to be harder when all you had to rely on were suggestions from locals or the concierge. They might have sent you in the right direction, but what if your taste didn’t match theirs? Nowadays, technology makes it easy to find great food almost anywhere. If you’re a smartphone user, there are many apps like Yelp and Urbanspoon that also have web versions, so you can also plan ahead if you don’t feel like researching on the go. Crowdsourcing is the surefire way to make sure you dine at tried and true restaurants during your travels.

Leftover goodness

Homemade goodies can still fit into your travel plan, even leftovers. Holiday food is almost as good on the go as it was straight from the oven. Thanksgiving food is perfect for the road. Make a turkey sandwich with cranberry spread. Pumpkin pie is as good chilled as it is warm.

Create a balance

When you’re traveling, it’s easy to get stuck in the same routine, so use the holidays as inspiration to keep the rest of your travels more balanced. You’re naturally going to be eating more home-cooked food around this time of year. There’s no reason you can’t make that happen the rest of the year. Make a New Year’s resolution to find lodging with a kitchenette and start making your own food while on the go!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Miss Basketball: How to Get Your Basketball Fix while Staying at Home

If you're like the fan in this picture (who probably travels to cities around the country as I do), you're probably Jonesing for some basketball right about now. Given that no games are likely in the near future, how about watching some movies to fill in the blanks?

Here are some of my favorites:

White Men Can't Jump -- (1992), Larry Bird would certainly disagree with the title of this comedy with all-star performances by Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Rosie Perez.

Coach Carter -- (2005), a touching success story starring Samuel L. Jackson as the phenomenal high school coach who transformed a team by putting education first.

Hoosiers -- (1986), Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper bring to life this story of teamwork and spirit.

And, lastly, for kids of all ages,

Like Mike -- (2002), a fun basketball romp with Bow Wow, Eugene Levy, Morris Chestnut as the NBA star... and real all-stars like Allen Iverson.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Los Cabos: A Perfect Vacation at Land's End

I’m in love with Los Cabos, Mexico – the beach, the iconoclastic arch, the town, the craziness of Cabo Wabo and the three oceanfront Solmar Hotels & Resorts within walking distance to town (a real plus compared to some of the other resorts in the area). The setting on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula feels like you’re at the end of the world, and the views are world class. Looking straight out onto the Pacific Ocean where it meets the Sea of Cortez, you could opt to stay and chill from gorgeous sunrise to gorgeous sunset without leaving the pool or your terrace. But there are lots of other things to do nearby like whale watching, kayaking or snorkeling around Los Arcos, or negotiating for fab silver or handicrafts en El Centro. Sadly, swimming isn’t one of them here, as only a few areas in Los Cabos offer safe access to the ocean which is otherwise characterized by riptides and rogue waves.

Opened just a few months ago, the five-star Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa commands a privileged location as close to Land’s End and the arch as you can get, with a blend of old-world architecture and royal garden landscaping. The resort is all about pampering with beachside massage cabanas, welcome massages, butler service, luxury transportation and fine dining at La Roca International Restaurant. Luxury accommodations in private suites, complete with kitchen, marble flooring and a private balcony overlooking the sparkling surf and white sand beaches. The vistas from the outdoor decks are magnificent with water surrounding you on virtually all sides.

Similarly set behind granite cliffs, and just a few minutes down the beach from its newest sibling, the Solmar Resort creates a romantic ambiance that is serene and intimate, with outdoor massage tents by the pool and whitewashed adobe buildings. The first of the Solmar properties in Cabo, this resort has a high loyalty factor and is revered for its open-air restaurant, sushi bar and quiet pool ambiance. Open fire pits are evening gathering places for marshmallow roasts and nearby private on-the-beach dining.

Just a few minutes’ walk further down the beach is Solmar’s Mexican hacienda-style resort, Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa on eight acres of beach. Recently named one of the Top 35 Resorts in Mexico in the Condé Nast Traveler “Readers Choice Awards,” the four-star resort, Playa Grande has multiple restaurants, themed dinner nights, and a lively lounge to keep you busy. From a variety of variously placed pool and rooftop seating areas, you can see both the quiet Pacific Ocean and Los Cabos harbor with its many boats and sea-going excursions. The resort’s Repêchage Spa is world-class. There’s nothing more divine, in my opinion, than the five-layer Repêchage facial preceded by a relaxing soak in the spa’s outdoor thalassotherapy pool, overlooking the Pacific. If only I could replicate that experience at home. Sigh.

Solmar Hotels & Resorts offers several water adventures for ocean lovers, including sunset cruises, snorkeling tours, dolphin adventures and scuba diving. Year-round land activities are equally entertaining with horseback riding, safaris, ATV tours through the desert and beach regions of Migriño, and sightseeing tours through Los Cabos, Todos Santos, La Paz, and various hideaway villages.

Venturing into town is great fun with lots of authentic (and inauthentic) taco joints and silver shops. One of the hosts at a really cool jewelry shop was so excited that I spoke Spanish that he offered my group tequila on the spot. “Arriba, abajo, a dentro por centro”(or however it goes!).
While you’re still sober, however, walk over to Cabo Expeditions where you can take a quick boat ride to Cabo’s famous arch for kayaking and snorkeling. It’s a mind-blowing formation and shouldn’t be missed. The fish are pretty beautiful, too. You can tie up at Pelican Point and snorkel, or kayak close to the rocks to catch a glimpse of the sea lions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go on a whale-watching trip, but, if you do, that should be on your activity list, too. Sightings are pretty much guaranteed. Cabo Expeditions also offers parasailing, scuba, and snuba and will give you lessons so you feel secure. As rough as the ocean water is on the beach, the water to Los Arcos is quite smooth and you shouldn’t have any problems picking out a water trip that will keep everyone in your group happy. This company impressed me in other ways, as well, with their eco-sensitivity. They are active in promoting care of the area’s wildlife and eco-systems and also take it upon themselves to clean up any trash found on land or in the water during their excursions.

Still not sure you’ll be busy enough? Solmar Hotels & Resorts will schedule sunset cruises, snorkeling tours, dolphin adventures and scuba diving for ocean lovers, and land activities such as horseback riding, safaris, ATV tours through the desert and beach regions of Migriño, and sightseeing tours through Los Cabos, Todos Santos, La Paz, and various hideaway villages. And, of course, there’s the shopping….

Through December 22, 2011, you can receive a $400 credit and 50% off a four-night or longer stay at Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa in celebration of the resort’s grand opening, or a $200 resort credit when you book a three-night minimum stay at Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa. The resort credit comes in handy on those spa services, late-night cocktails or poolside snacks. Information at Solmar Hotels & Resorts or call 1-800-344-3349.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween, Salem MA, Snow and NYC

I've been anticipating Halloween all week -- loved what I saw at "Haunted Happenings" in Salem. But S-N-O-W in New York City in October? This is ridiculous. And it's C-O-L-D.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Halloween Festivity: Sight and Sound

Salem, MA was absolutely crazy with tourists this past weekend with more fright fests, witch parades, and costumes than you could imagine, even at the NYC Halloween Parade. I'm going out now to decorate the apartment door in preparation for the kiddies who go trick-or-treating in Manhattan buildings -- it's an entirely different experience here. We also have lots of houses decorated in NYC, too, with fabulous lights, but mostly for Christmas. I wanted to share with you this wonderful Halloween sight-and-sound set-up that's taken YouTube by storm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Haunted Happenings in Salem, Massachusetts

For a real Halloween experience, I always go back to the source of all things witchy: Salem, Massachusetts. This season marks the thirtieth year of Haunted Happenings in this most haunted city, known for its dark history and the Salem Witch Trials.

There’s something to scare (or entertain) everyone in the next two weeks. Some of the fun happenings include The Stop by for a Spell Children’s Costume Brunch at the very-haunted Hawthorne Hotel (October 23), pumpkin decorating with Halloween treats, and music. Taking advantage of the city’s myriad historical venues, the month also offers the Pumpkin Festival and Hay Bale Maze on Salem Common, and the Sea Shanties at the Ship Stage event at Derby Wharf with theater performances and singing.

A stone’s throw from the Salem Witch Museum, the Haunted Movie Series on Salem Common will be featuring the classic Halloween films Hocus Pocus on October 22 and Beetlejuice on October 29. All movies are free; age discretion is advised.

For older kids, there are plenty of spooks at several haunted houses, cornfield mazes and other eerie attractions.

Somewhat less frightful, Salem Common’s Family Fun Days, on October 22-23 and October 29-30, will entice the little ones with rides, face painting, and other Halloween fun. All proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations such as Salem Main Streets and the Salem Common Neighborhood Association.

Finishing up the month of fright, through October 31, are the Carnival on Derby Street, and trick-or-treating at historic Pioneer Village on October 29-30 and the Phillips House on October 31. All ages are welcome.

A full list of entertainment and event information can be found at

Looking for a place to stay? Check out the Hawthorne Hotel (Member of Historic Hotels of America, on Salem Common), Salem Waterfront Hotel (on Pickering Wharf), and the Salem Inn (near the Salem Witch Museum) – you might even see a wandering ghost down their corridors. If you’re hungry, stop by Capt's Waterfront Grille & Pub (with its fabulous deck) or Finz Seafood & Grille on Pickering Wharf – they’re both within shouting distance of the “office” of Salem’s Official Witch, Laurie Cabot (her paranormal workshop is on October 28, for those of you who are curious). I’ve been told that lobster and a good local brew keep the goblins away! Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alarm Clocks, Housekeeping and Hotel Stays: Forewarned Is Forearmed

I just learned an invaluable lesson in hotel travel -- always check the alarm clock in your room. It's an unwelcome surprise when the alarm goes off at 6am and you've planned to sleep until 9 or later. On a similar note, don't forget to leave the "Do Not Disturb" door hanger outside if you'd like to sleep in. I had a one-two-three punch this morning: the alarm sounded at 7, the snooze feature made it re-sound at 8,and housekeeping arrived at 9. My first appointment was scheduled for 10:30am. My dumb luck.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Das Best Oktoberfest -- Where to Celebrate in NYC

If I can’t make it to Germany (like last year), I love celebrating Oktoberfest in New York City. This year there’s a full-day celebration on October 22 - Das Best Oktoberfest- that has me salivating for pretzels, spaetzle, beer and other treats. You don’t have to attend all day – in fact, you choose one of two sessions – and then go to party, see who will be crowned Miss Oktoberfest, and enjoy a variety of other German hilarity. I’ll be at the evening session if you’re planning to attend.

The one-day mash-up of authentic oompah, German bands and fun contests happens at La Venue and The Tunnel in West Chelsea (608 West 28th St. between 11th and 28th), on Saturday. There you'll find unlimited samplings of more than 150 international and craft beers, wines and schnapps, plus German-inspired cuisine.

You can buy tickets for either or both of the two sessions: 12 Noon- 4pm or 5:30pm-9:30pm, for $65 in advance or $80 at the door. You must be 21 or over to attend. A Grand Oompah Tasting Session is also available at $150 for a limit of 100 brave souls who care to attend both sessions and are interested in attending a special German Tasting Seminar.

To entertain you while you eat and drink, there will several photo-worthy contests, and winners each win $100. The Beer Belly Competition calls out the gentlemen who think they have the best ‘figure’ with judging based on appearance and personality; the Miss Oktoberfest Contest critiques the best merry maid on her appearance, costume and knowledge of Oktoberfest; and the Pretzel Necklace Competition shows off food and creativity.

This over-the-top taste, eat and dance experience is dubbed as ‘das’ best day of beer sippin’, sausage tastin’, music listenin’, and lederhosen wearin’ (at least on this side of the Atlantic). Tickets and additional information are available online at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Important Packing Tips

Just when you think you know it all...never leave home without...

Brought to you by the Gutsy Traveler, Marybeth Bond, who's packed for travel to over 100 countries.

It seems like every time I visit a new country I discover something I forgot or “should have packed.” For example:

  • Duct Tape. May seem silly but comes to the rescue if a strap on a sandal snaps, a purse handle or backpack strap breaks, or luggage gets ripped.

  • A large safety pin or a clothespin to fully close the hotel drapes. To help you sleep for an extra hour after early morning sunshine illuminates your room.

  • A bathing suit. You never know when there will be a Jacuzzi or roof-top pool you wish you could have used.

  • A rubber door stopper. Regardless of the hotel ranking, many doors do not have security locks. Many hotel rooms have doors to adjoining rooms and they are not always locked or secure. Play it safe and kick that door stopper under the door.

  • Moleskin (cut in small squares) and Band-Aids. Pack a few in your wallet. Walking on a hot day with sweaty feet can cause hot spots or blisters even when you’re wearing your most comfortable shoes.

  • Umbrella, raincoat, sunscreen. Check the weather for your destination and pack layers, umbrella, sunglasses, sun hat and sunscreen.


  • Zip lock bags to keep wet bathing suits separate from clean clothes, to keep shampoo or liquids that may leak separate from clothing, and clean and dirty underwear organized. Reading glasses

  • Individually wrapped nail polish remover pads

  • Band Aids, moleskin

  • Dental floss

  • Q-tips

  • Silicon ear plugs

  • Over the counter sleep aids

  • One dollar bills for tipping

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • International toll-free 800 numbers for your credit cards in case of theft
  • Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Vendy Awards -- September 24

    As you know, I'm a huge fan of food trucks. This year's 7th Vendy Awards happens Saturday on Governors Island, just off Manhattan. You can get there easily by free ferry from Battery Park.

    The details: Here, the fiercest street chefs in the city will rev up their engines in competition for the titled position and honor, the Vendy Cup. General admission tickets have already sold out, but a new forum of Early Entry tickets have just been released and are selling for $145 a person. These exclusive tickets allow for a foodie dream, complete with an extra hour of eating and fast pass availability to shorter lines. From 12:30-5pm, vendors prepare and serve tastings; in the end it’s the public’s vote that determines the top prize. Bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to stand in lines. For more information on booking, transportation to the event and a list of the just-announced rookie and dessert finalists, go to:

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Daffy’s Celebrates 50 Years with Free Fashion Show and Birthday Cake, plus Store Discounts – September 22

    The runway takes a tasty twist on Thursday with a “Cakewalk” fashion show by Daffy’s. The city’s popular retailer of distinctive and affordable fashion will premiere its fall collection in partnership with WE tv’s “Staten Island Cakes” star Vincent Buzzetta. It's also a celebration of Daffy's 50 years in business, and since all birthday celebrations must have a cake, this one will have a 10-foot high, four-layer cake, for everyone to enjoy.

    The event’s host, comedian Heather McDonald of E! Entertainment’s hit show “Chelsea Lately,” will introduces models wearing the fall fashions, beginning at 5pm in Greeley Square Park (located at West 32nd St and Broadway). Unlike the other "designer" shows around town, this one is open to all, free, plus your swag is a discount at Daffy’s flagship Herald Square store.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    September is National Yoga Month in the U.S.

    After the 9/11 remembrance of this weekend, I’m all about turning OMG into OM this month with September’s Yoga Month celebrations. Last week I took a blindfolded yoga class at Pure in New York with Marco Rojas (that's me in the hot pink top and black pants doing the headstand and being interviewed for ABC-TV). Not surprising, NYC has lots of events going on, but the yoga happenings are nationwide. Visit to celebrate with one free week of yoga at any of the 1600 participating studios nationwide.

    Here are some yoga-paired activities if you’d like to explore your inner adventurous yogi, foodie yogi, or performing yogi. From OM to YAHOO and YUM.

    Vocal Yoga (Los Angeles, CA): Join LA’s own Heather Lyle, a well-respected voice teacher for singers and actors, as she teaches students how yoga can open the voice and improve speech and singing. Learn to use your body to its fullest to find your perfect tone and resonance.

    Cowgirl Yoga (Clyde Park, Montana): Head to the luxurious Double T River Ranch for a true girlfriend’s getaway combining horses and yoga. Whether you’re new to yoga or horseback riding or just trying to star in the next Sea Biscuit film, women of all levels are invited to join. Hop on the saddle and deepen the horse-human connection as your yoga practice continues.

    Yoga and Wine by Candlelight (St. Helena, CA): This Napa Valley wine shop offers an amazing selection of California’s best wines, but it also serves as home to a special weekly Thursday night yoga session that culminates with a lovely wine tasting by candlelight. Join for yoga at 6pm and relax even further at 7pm with the tasting featuring wines from small boutique wineries. The class is priced at $15 for the yoga and wine combo or $10 for yoga or wine.

    Liquid Yoga + Surf (New York): Yogini and surf explorer duo Lauren Hanna and Annee Elliot invite students to unleash the healing benefits of yoga and surfing during their weekend retreats in Montauk and beyond in destinations such as Costa Rica and Morocco. Call the team for more information on lessons and parties in Montauk, The Hamptons, and NYC or join in next summer’s adventure in Reykjavik, Iceland.

    Yoga + Chocolate
    : Vosges founder and chocolatier Katrina Markoff joined forces with At One Yoga co-founder David Romanelli and fused their two passions together: chocolate and yoga. Allow Vosges Haut-Chocolat exotic truffles to stimulate your senses and guide you to pure bliss as Dave leads you through a magical yoga session. For more information and to book classes, visit

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    A Personal Memory: 9/11 Ten Years Ago and Today

    Travel and Food Notes welcomes James Wacht of Sierra Realty who shares his feelings about yesterday's 10th anniversary tribute to the events of 9/11 and his memories of New York City right after September 11, 2001.

    I spent yesterday morning in Central Park thinking about 9/11. This morning's weather reminded me very much of the weather of that day. Vibrant and clear with a crispness in the air signaling the end of summer and the beginning of fall, a perfect September day. Far off in the background I could hear the melancholy tones of bagpipers playing a tribute to those who died. Their somber tones were a sad complement to the feeling of loss I was experiencing.

    Memories of ten years ago flooded back to me. Even though I was not close to anybody who died in the attacks, I continued to experience a profound sense of loss for weeks, if not months, after the attack. There were constant reminders. Foremost, was the profound change in the city skyline. No longer was downtown dominated by the icon of the Twin Towers. Where they once proudly stood, there was nothing but a gaping hole, the skyline, once a beautiful smile, now permanently marred by the loss of its two front teeth. Then there were the missing person posters with the question "Have you seen this person" written over a photograph of a person missing in the attacks. These posters appeared all over the city, on lampposts, mailboxes and temporary kiosks erected for that purpose. And the photographs on them, typically of a person smiling at the camera often with a child or pet in their arms, gave a very human face to the tragedy. The victims were not just numbers but were real people that stared out at us from these posters imploring us to find and return them to their families. The hope, but really the despair, expressed in these posters was palpable, and I couldn't help but think of the families who posted these signs and the all-consuming and always-present anguish they were experiencing of not knowing whether a person they loved had perished that day.

    There were other images that I'll never forget as well. The men and women emerging ghoul-like from the midst of the fallen Towers, their clothes, hair and faces covered with a fine dusting of soot, not running, but walking heads down in crushing defeat. And then there was the smell --acrid and vulgar, the smell of loss and destruction. It lingered over the city for many months, an ever-present and inescapable reminder of the events of that day.

    The city became very quiet the weeks following 9/11. Horns did not honk, once boisterous and loud voices were now replaced with muted and hushed whispers. Bus rides, typically a cacophony of conversations and cell phone calls, became eerily quiet. It was clear; we were a city in mourning. Mourning the people who worked in the Towers and died in the attack, mourning the brave policeman, fireman and other first responders who selflessly sacrificed their lives to help others, mourning all those who lost somebody they loved, and mourning our lost sense of safety and security. Our lives had been forever changed that day.

    Our spirit had been tested that day by a horrible evil but through our courage and sheer will our city and country came together as a community and demonstrated all our resolve to emerge better, stronger and wiser.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Fashion Week Kicks Off with Fashion's Night Out - An Australian Hotel to Visit

    The big day is here: models everywhere, glamorous parties, and the all-powerful Fashion's Night Out. Follow us here throughout the week for our own very special tribute to Fashion Week as we celebrate our favorite hotels and suites worldwide designed by the fashion industry’s best.

    When it comes to fashion, there is no question about the influence Italian fashion house Versace has had on the industry. The Palazzo Versace Hotel on Australia’s vibrant Gold Coast is no exception to the luxury and sophistication that is associated with the name Versace and is often referred to as “the world’s first full fashion-branded hotel.” The Versace-obsessed will be pleased to see the hotel outfitted in the Versace Home Collection along with other elegant features reflective of the Italian heritage of the brand such as vaulted ceilings with hand details in gold, marbles and mosaics. Bask in the beautiful Southern Queensland sun at Australia’s only “Water Salon,” the property’s elegant oasis of a water lagoon pool and cabanas. Those tempted to shop will also find a Versace boutique on the property.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Paris Remembers 9/11 with Events near the Eiffel Tower

    On September 11, the grassroots organization the French Will Never Forget (TFWN), offers their own commemoration of the events of 10 years ago, with a strong show of support by the French for their American allies.

    Of particular note is the unveiling of a scaled reproduction of the World Trade Center towers in front of the Palais de Chaillot esplanade, Place du Trocadéro in Paris. Each tower will be approximately 75-feet high and will be created by scaffolding wrapped in white tarpaulin. The first tower will list the names of the 9/11 victims. The second tower is a mélange of messages from across the globe, taken from the French Will Never Forget’s Facebook page.

    To ensure that the country’s youth not forget these tragedies, 70 teens will open the day’s ceremony, carrying US and French flags measuring 30 feet by 60 feet, in a demonstration of global support. A message of hope will be conveyed at the towers’ unveiling with a performance by a French children’s choir and the orchestra of the Académie de Musique de Paris. Further showing American-French unity, three young American musical performers, flown in from the US, will also participate.

    If you know of other tributes around the world, please let me know. I’d love to share them with you.

    Here's a link to events happening in New York City to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Fashion Week Offers Up Prix-Fixe Dining in Lincoln Center: September 8-15

    New York City kicks up the glamour with the return of Fashion Week from September 8-15. For one week New Yorkers are invited to release their inner Anna Wintours (without shame) while attending the shows and events. And now there’s another reason to rejoice: Lincoln Square’s “Fashion Plate Prix Fixe.” Twenty-three of our favorite Upper West Side restaurants will be serving it up in style with prix-fixe meals during Fashion Week. Enjoy a bistro break from the excitement with Bar Boulud’s three course prix-fixe lunch ($29) or go all out in elegance with Picholine’s four-course tasting menu ($92).

    Make sure to also stop into the Empire Hotel for an oh-so-fabulous libation from their Fashion Week Cocktail Menu including the Avant-garde-tini, Lincoln Center Luster, Thanks It’s Vintage, and Don’t Feed The Models. The creativity behind these creations rivals that of the designers!

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    After Irene: Some Images from New York City after the Hurricane

    We were very lucky here, and we send our best to those who weren't as fortunate. Here are some shots and a video of the windy rainy aftermath in Manhattan at Central Park and Carl Schurz Park. Yes, that's a park bench under those branches.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Hurricane Preparedness: Irene is Coming (or Maybe She's Already Here)

    I got up at 5:30am today to drive non-stop from Burlington, Vermont to New York City -- we wanted to be sure we got back in the event of bridge closings and such, particularly now that no one wants to be in a "Katrina-esque" situation again. Hence NYC mass transit has been curtailed, 370K people are in a mandatory evacuation situation in certain parts of the city, and virtually all stores (including all-important grocery stores) have been closed.

    Being prepared is key. If you have to drive, please review this list, provided by AAA of New York. It's serious business:

    If you must drive:

    • Pack an emergency travel kit designed to sruvive extended traffic delays or road closures. The kit should include water, food for all travelers and pets, extra clothing and blankets, fully charged cell phones, battery-operated NOAA weather radio, extra batteries and extra medications.

    • Be sure to have a full tank of gas

    • Never drive through high water or flooded areas

    • Be aware of fallen trees, limbs, and downed power lines

    If you must travel:

    • Stay abreast of local forecasts both at your departure city and at your destination

    • Check your airline flight status before leaving for the airport

    • Check with your hotel for local updates on thes torm's impact

    • Monitor weather conditions on a regular basis as things can change quickly

    • Travel with only a carry-on bag when flying. This will give you greater flexibiltiy if your scheudle changes and you have your luggage with you, if you are delayed

    • Pack "emergency" comforts with you like snacks, raincoats, and extra clothing. A flashlight with good batteries, radio, and extra water are essential.

    • Heed all evacuation advisorires and/or orders

    If you must evacuate:

    • In case of evacuation, plan NOW where you will go and have the plan in place where your family members will meet to evacuates

    • Know multiple routes to your destination

    • Secure your home the best you can

    • Top off your car's gas tank before the storm

    • Have a print-out of all important phone numbers

    • Have your "go" bag ready with all essentials: clothing, first-aid kit, meds, etc. Have at least three days' worth of mecications and supplies with you

    • Have canned foods and energy/vitamins bars with you

    • Have flashlights and extra batteries

    • Have a portable raido, monitor the advisories, and be prepared for anything

    • Have cash on hand, as ATMs and banks may not be accessible

    • Have protective clothing, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags

    We've been evacuated from the Outer Banks (North Carolina) twice and we acknowledge this list from our own experience. Be prepared -- this may turn into an adventure, and you want it to end happily.

    Stay safe.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Combining Work and Play: the Perfect Business Trip in Austin, Texas

    Travel and Food Notes welcomes PJ MacInnis, a fellow road warrior with a passion for baseball and sightseeing. He shares some of his recent finds from a business trip to Austin, Texas here.

    We’ve all traveled for work countless times for that short little trip a few hours away or to a different time zone. But how much do we really get to see of those places that we visit? When I’ve traveled for work it usually goes like this: I see the airport first, next it’s either a taxi or rental car, and then it's off to the hotel. There you check in, setup on email and catch up or prepare for the next day. Then you do your business thing and it’s back home before you know it. After many years on the road, I’ve learned to stretch the trip to include local sightseeing and fun.

    The recent trip I took to Austin, TX was a special one. It started just like every other one: airport, taxi, hotel, meetings at the corporate office all day, hanging with my co-workers for some events outside the city, and then back to the hotel. Repeat. This time I decided to spice things up a bit. Here’s what I recommend:

    Barton Creek Resort & Spa (8212 Barton Club Drive Austin, Texas 78735 Phone: 512.329.4000) Definitely stay here. Great facilities, great staff, great pool. And the staff will treat you like family.

    W Austin (200 Lavaca St Austin, TX 78701 phone 512-542-3600) When you want to be close to the fun of Downtown, you need to stay at the W Austin. Close to everything -- running the Lady Bird Lake Trail, 6th Street, awesome restaurants (Lamberts, and Eddie V's, or even just eating in the hotel). Of note, especially when the weather is a scorching 106 degrees, the wait staff from "Wet"(the pool bar) were great and did their best to keep us cool.

    Eddie V's
    , (301 East 5th St Austin, TX 78701 512-472-1860) - the best place in Austin for dinner. Try the Chilean Sea Bass Steamed "Hong Kong" style.

    Lamberts (401 w 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701 phone 512-494-1500) Close to the W with a great vibe. Order the spicy deviled eggs and wild boar ribs to start, then pulled pork and cold smoked Bandera quail. Quite an eclectic combination but delicious.

    Austin’s slogan, "Keep Austin Weird," means fun. You will see anything and everything on a Saturday night in Austin. If you’re open-minded, the bar/club Kiss & Fly (404 Colorado Austin, TX 78701 512-476-7799)is an interesting choice. It’s great for dancing and the people watching is also great.

    One closing piece of advice: If you have the time, the best way to see the city is on a weekend and early in the morning on foot. You can hear the sounds of the place you are visiting at your own speed.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    A Spa Escape to Costa Rica: Mineral Springs, Temazcal, Yoga, and Massage

    I may have overdone it a bit at the gym today -- too much yoga, lifting, squats. I could use some thermal springs therapy, a massage, and maybe a Temazcal. Planning a trip back to Tabacon in Costa Rica as soon as possible. The Grand Spa will definitely fix me up! And the rainforest and volcano is the perfect setting. Love those howler monkeys and teeny dart frogs.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    A New Italian Find: A Beautiful Red Schioppettino Wine

    Travel and Food Notes welcomes Kathy Bechtel, Culinary Programming Director of Italiaoutdoors who is an expert at discovering new and interesting wines in Italy. Here she tells about one of her newest finds, Schioppettino.

    During my visits to Italy on our Italiaoutdoors active culinary tours, I seek out any opportunity to enjoy a new wine, be it a tiny producer that we pass by on our bikes, or a glass of a totally unfamiliar varietal after a fun ski day. My new favorite is a varietal called Schioppettino.

    Schioppettino, also known as Ribolla Nera, is a varietal from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, between the commune of Prepotto, near Udine and Slovenia. Like many of the indigenous grapes in this region, it was almost lost to us after the phylloxera epidemic devastated most of the vineyards in this region. When the vineyards were eventually replanted, growers favored the popular French varietals, turning their nose up toward the old local stalwarts. In fact, at one point the planting of Schioppettino was actually illegal, as it was classified as an undesirable varietal. Winemaker Paolo Rapuzzi searched out the few remaining vines, and through his efforts an EU decree was created to encourage the planting of Schioppettino, saving it from extinction.

    The origin of the name is Schioppettino is unclear but often attributed to the fact that when bottled young and fermented in the bottle, Schioppettino became slightly sparkling, with "popping" (“scoppiettare” in Italian) on the tongue because of the carbon dioxide. This young bottling produces a medium-bodied wine with a fairly low alcohol content. More recently, Schioppettino is vinified in oak barriques, creating a more full-bodied and intense wine that is suitable for aging.

    Following local tradition, the grapes are pruned in July, and then, close to harvesting, the leaves closest to the fruit are removed to maximize sun exposure. The harvested grapes are collected in wooden crates and left to dry until late autumn. Aging first occurs in wooden barrels and French barriques, followed by refining period in the bottle.

    I’ve only just recently tried this wine in the US when I participated in the Italian Life Expo in Portland, Maine and sampled Vigna Petrussa’s own, from Prepotto, Italy. The wine is clearly becoming one of the rising stars in this relatively unknown, but highly respected wine zone. The Petrussa 2009 Schioppettino is a deep ruby red, decidedly cherry and berry on the nose. Its fruity palate is followed with a peppery spice, another “popping” on the tongue. As the flavors develop after opening, everything blends, and it presents a persistent pleasant smokiness. Try it with game, other full-flavored red meats, and hard cheeses.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Summer Streets 2011 -- Manhattan's Car-free Festival

    It's Summer Streets -- Year 3. If you haven't done this before, here's your chance to experience a very different view of New York City. Grab your bike or skates, don your helmet, and head over to Park Avenue to bike down the grand via all the way to City Hall. En route you'll be entertained, fed, amused, distracted (hopefully not too much), and surrounded by the freedom of no-cars, all-bikes, and great company. It's now a city tradition -- Saturday August 13 and 20, from 7am to 1pm.

    This year's highlights include sand boxes and live sand sculpting in Foley Square, free bicycle and roller blade rentals, performances by Fringe Jr. Festival, and a guacamole-making demonstration.

    See you Saturday!

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Korea Day in Central Park -- August 16 -- Free Food, Music and More from 11am-7pm

    The Second Annual Korea Day takes place August 16 at Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park (located south of Bethesda Terrace between 66th and 72nd streets). It’s a day of Korean traditional and pop music, food, spirit and culture where you can learn to cook, compete in a singing and dancing competition to win a trip to Korea hosted by and the Korean New York Culture Committee, and create your own Korean fashion show trying on traditional Hanbok clothing. Everything is free.

    Shown above, Sorea, a Korean band that plays modern Korean music, will kick off the event. Come hungry – some of the Korean dishes that await include Japchae (stir fried potato noodles with vegetables), Tteokbokki (rice cake in red pepper paste), Bibimbap (rice with vegetables and beef), Jeon (Korean pancake), and the staple Korean condiment Kimchi. You can also don a toque and try your hand at ‘dduk-mea chi-gi’ the process of making dduk, Korean rice cake where the rice cake is beaten with a giant wooden hammer to make it more adhesive; or making Kimchi and bi-bim bob while you learn about traditional Korean sauces and condiments. .

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Take That! The Heat Wave Finally Lifts from the East Coast

    My non-empathetic Southern friends from Mississippi sent me this cartoon making fun of our misery up North. Ha! We're finally getting relief -- it's started raining. Love to meet you some day, Marshall Ramsey.

    Cartoon courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger.

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Retro Roller Skating Comes to the High Line – Thursday

    Photo courtesy of Friends of the High Line

    Are you a closet roller derby fan who would happily trade their rollerblades for retro skates? Have you been secretly in mourning since the Roxy closed four years ago? Then break out your knee high socks and hightail it to Manhattan’s newest pop-up attraction, the High Line Rink which opens Thursday at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue. New York City is bringing roller-skating back in style replete with live-DJ tunes, pizza, and ice cream sandwiches from next-door Lot on Tap’s food trucks. You’re certain to be in good company on this 8,000 square-foot outdoor arena, and if you’re one of the first 500 people to arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, sponsor UNIQLO pays for your admission. Take your loved ones on a stroll down the High Line, “refuel” with a soft drink or an artisanal brew at The Lot on Tap, and go for a spin around the rink. You’ll be supporting the High Line, too: a portion of the admission charge goes towards its maintenance and upkeep. Regular ticket prices are $10 for kids and $12 for adults, including skate rental. The rink will stay open until September 26, opening at 11am daily until 10pm during the week, and until 11pm Thursday through Saturday.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Metropolian Museum of Art wants to be sure that we don't forget what happened on February 11, 2010: the silencing of the fashion world by the death of designer Alexander McQueen. McQueen’s influence began in the early 90’s and ranged from exotic tailoring patterns to evocative and raw fashion shows. He was one of the first to present the industry with a true British embodiment of culture and style. He pushed boundaries and made a few fashion faux pas; quite different from his earlier work in the studio of Givenchy. In the end, he created a worldwide empire of design that would continue to empower women long after his death.

    Through August 7, the Costume Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is showcasing McQueen’s legacy in the ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition. Located in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, second floor, entrance is free with Museum admission and if you’re a Met member you’ll be able to skip the extraordinarily long lines for this popular exhibit. Membership has other privileges, too: you can bring four friends along with you – an amazing feat. The exhibit is open on Mondays when the rest of the museum is closed, from 9:30am- 2:30pm, for visitors willing to purchase a $50 ticket.

    If you’re assuming this exhibit to be a typical and exclusive fashion show presentation of waif-like models and obscure fashion messages, you’re very wrong. The exhibit is more art than fashion, more history than modern propaganda, and more interesting to look at than the average designer dress walking down the Red Carpet on Oscar night. It’s also dark and quite disturbing.

    The title, ‘Savage Beauty’, is meant to represent the contrasting opposites in McQueen’s work, and the various themes that he presented the public throughout his career. His most revisited subjects include: polarized opposites, life versus death, lightness and darkness, predator versus prey, and man versus machine. The exhibition focuses on McQueen’s most prized collections and is broken up into six rooms of designs- organized by “Romantic” interpretations of historicism, primitivism, exoticism, naturalism, the gothic and Darwinism. Much of McQueen’s work was and still remains highly controversial regarding what he was assumed to be representing. This in itself is what makes his work so captivating. He has the ability to tell a story through clothing -- not an easy task when it comes to fashion design.

    There are approximately a hundred ensembles and seventy accessories from the House of McQueen, including some of his most famous designs: the “bumster” trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point origami coat. The exhibition exemplifies McQueen’s promotion of expression of culture, politics and identity.

    A great way to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a twist, this is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that attracts more than the fashion and design crowd. It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore modern culture through the eyes of a British mastermind, and a great way to get a good dose of fashion mixed in with history, art, a study of humanity and beautiful craftsmanship.

    Be prepared for a very “dark” experience. It certainly gives insight into why this fashion genius committed suicide.

    “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That is what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”

    - Alexander McQueen

    Monday- Closed, Tuesday to Thursday- 9:30am-5:30pm, Friday and Saturday- 9:30am-9:00pm, Sunday- 9:30am-5:30pm

    1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York City

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Eating Your Way through the Bronx's Little Italy: Arthur Avenue

    Mike's Deli, Arthur Avenue Retail Market

    I’ve just spent two days in the Bronx, taking my son to a baseball showcase near the Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, and Fordham University. For a foodie, this area is Italian nirvana and home to one of the city’s most vibrant Italian communities, Arthur Avenue. A shopping destination for all food Italian with some very good restaurants, too, the streets here are lined with macellerie (butcher shops), gelaterias (gelato shops) and an expansive covered market at 2344 Arthur Avenue that’s been in operation since 1940.

    For a quick one-two-three Italian feast, try these favorite spots:

    Mike’s Deli

    Have a pre-dinner antipasto at Mike’s, a traditional Italian butcher shop and deli at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, with a tantalizing array of Italian salumi and formaggi. For more than 60 years, the Greco family have satisfied customers both here and at their trattoria across the street with appetizers, olives, and main dishes like melanzane alla parmigiana, linguine carbonara (with pancetta, parmesan and cream) and penne matriciana with plum tomatoes and pancetta. Chef Dave Greco, who showed off his cooking skills on Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” will happily schmooze with you as he makes sandwiches at the counter or espresso at the trattoria. You might also see Dave’s mother helping out in the kitchen or his father, Mike, singing a tune at the deli. It’s all in the family, Italian-style. Don’t miss the deli’s daily cheese demos, with selections straight from the homeland for only $4.95.

    2344 Arthur Avenue; Bronx, NY 10458; 718-295-5033


    Got a hungry crowd feeling the red-sauce vibe for an early dinner? After gorging yourself on Mike’s appetizers, Dominick’s is your destination. Here you’ll enjoy oversized family-style portions at undersized prices in a setting that hasn’t changed since it was opened. All the usual menu suspects are here from chicken to shrimp and calamari, but there’s no menu. You just ask for what you want, and chances are you’ll get it.

    2335 Arthur Avenue; Bronx, NY 10458; 718-733-2807

    Artuso’s Pastry

    A sweet finish is promised at Artuso’s, an authentic Italian pastry shop, now 65 years old. Artuso’s recipes come straight from Calabria, creating memorable sweets, cannolis, biscotti, and sorbetti. What keeps customers coming back again and again, however, are Artuso’s cakes, traditional yet original, and always amazing. You’ll also be giving back to the community by patronizing the bakery, as Artuso is committed to keeping the Belmont neighborhood alive and well. The founder and owner is so well-loved that there are a street and park named for him.

    670 East 187th Street (at Vincent E. Artuso Sr. Way); Bronx, NY 10458; 718-367-2515