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