Friday, December 30, 2016

Banish the Hangover with a Special New Year's Day Brunch at Little Frog

There’s a new culinary force on the Upper East Side and they’re hoping to make your New Year’s hangover a little sweeter. Little Frog, the new Parisian bistro, is debuting their New Year’s Day Hangover Frogger Platter on Sunday. The platter is a work of art: Rosti Eggs Benedict, boudin sausage, grilled steak, breakfast sausage, Vermont bacon, truffle egg en cocotte, jalapeño grilled cheese sandwich, papas bravas – yes, that’s all on one platter! And it’s only $20.17. Happy New Year!  Add beer for some 'hair of the dog', and the price rises to a whopping $26.17. I know I’ll be there!

If a more moderate hangover remedy is in order, Chef Xavier Monge offers you his Frogger Burger, a creation honed after a decade at Minetta Tavern which, in my opinion, still has one of the best burgers in the city with their dry-aged beef Black Label Burger.

Stayed out too late saying good riddance to 2016? Don’t worry if you’re not up early. Brunch will be served from 11:30-3:30pm. Bring the kids, too. There’s a special menu for them plus an à la carte menu for you so you can sample some of the other bistro fare.

Little Frog Bistro & Bar, 322 East 86th Street, 347-537-5786,  Photos by Paul Wagouicz.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Say Goodbye to 2016 at Good Riddance Day on December 28

I've only done the New Year's Eve "watch the ball drop" thing once in person, and I'll never be that crazy again (although I do love the fireworks celebration in Central Park and the Midnight Run which leaves from Rumsey Playfield). But, if you're determined to include Times Square in your New Year’s itinerary and you’re not just thinking about going to a Broadway show, Good Riddance Day and the Times Square Wishing Wall are two unique celebrations to consider.

On December 28, it will be out with the old, in with the new in Times Square as visitors shred their worst memories from 2016 by disposing of them in a giant shredder. After letting go of 2016 and the less-than-jolly news of this year, guests can record a wish for 2017 on a piece of paper that will be added to the confetti that accompanies the New Year's Eve Ball Drop. Think Wishfetti!

Just stop by Duffy Square (47th Street and 7th Avenue, Manhattan) between 11am and 8pm to post your wish on the wall. You can also contribute online to the Virtual Wishing Wall. All online wishes will be turned into confetti as well.  Use the hashtag #confettiwish if you’re writing your wishes on Twitter or Instagram.

Feel free to toast early with a nice glass of Blanc de Blanc or a hot apple cider (spiked with rum)!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

5 Current Broadway Shows Offering Something for Everyone

After the December frenzy winds down, you might actually be able to fit some shows into your schedule.  Here are two don’t-miss shows for you, two for the family, and one that everyone can enjoy. Theater tickets also make great stocking stuffers!

Dear Evan Hansen – Treating a serious subject with an innovative set, production and score, Dear Evan Hansen is important viewing for adults and teenagers. From the brilliant director of Rent, Grey Gardens and Next to Normal, Michael Greif, the play, score and subject matter might seem familiar, but the production is anything but. Starring Ben Platt, a serious contender for a Tony Award, this musical deals with feelings of not mattering, of not fitting in, and other angst, particularly relevant today. How do you feel about promulgating lies and deception? This musical tugs at every emotion.  Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th Street. Tickets: or 212.239.6200.
(Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 – Based loosely on a portion of Tolstoy’s masterpiece War and Peace, the Great Comet is a revelation on Broadway. Sit on the stage, next to a runway where characters and musicians frequently travel, or in a perch in the mezzanine, and you’ll be privy to an experience akin to being in a Russian salon. The music is part-Russian, part-club, part-folk, part a-lot-of-styles, and it’s magnificent as is the talent. Breakout star Denée Benton is brilliant as Natasha, the countess engaged to Andrey (Nicholas Belton)  but seduced by Anatole (Lucas Steele). Josh Groban’s acting debut is as amazing as his tenor (or baritone), with a presence that is magnified with each statement and each song. The other leads are every bit as wonderful and you’ll find yourself wishing they could all sing even more, despite the fact that the musical is virtually an opera with minimal spoken dialogue. Prepare yourself for a boisterous and wondrous ride, special effects included. Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street. Tickets: or 212.239.6200.
(Photo credit: Chad Batka)

Wicked – One of the longest-running musicals on Broadway, Wicked has a charm that appeals to all ages, to anyone who has ever loved The Wizard of Oz. Glinda, the lovely and bubbly “Good Witch,” is a perfect foil to green-skinned Elphaba, her schoolmate and the eventual Wicked Witch of the West.  Bring the kids, come early, don an authentic Wicked costume, and have your photo taken in the Photo Booth. This pre-quel to the Oz story will be around for a long time. Gershwin Theatre, 222 West 51st Street. Tickets: or 877.250.2929.
(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Cats – Now in its second life on Broadway, this smaller-set Cats is a great musical to introduce your family to Broadway. Try to sit in the orchestra, where the Jellicle Cats routinely slither down the aisle, making eye contact and feline gestures as they move. The play, based on the poems of T. S. Eliot with music by legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, doesn’t have much a story. It’s pretty much a succession of profiles about each of the cats. But the music, dance, and energy of the show make for a fun afternoon or evening. And Mamie Parris’s version of “Memory,” the song that helped win Betty Buckley a Tony in 1983, will make your own hairs stand on end.  Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street. Tickets: or 877.250.2929.
(Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)

Cirque du Soleil Paramour – Part Cirque du Soleil, part musical, completely theatrical, Paramour is a creative take on the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Watch for the breathtaking aerial pas de deux that flies over the audience in this first Cirque du Soleil musical spectacle, specially created for Broadway.  Actors and singers mix seamlessly with Cirque du Soleil performers in 15 different circus acts. Lyric Theatre, 213 West 42nd Street. Tickets: or 877.250.2929.
(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Perfect Holiday Gift: Theater Tickets and Dinner - See These Shows Closing Soon!

If you’re thinking about something to give the theater lover in your family this holiday season, tickets to one of these shows about to end their runs are the perfect gift.  Add dinner before or after the show, with easy reservations here. Some favorites for pre- or post-theater dining? Joe Allen, Orso, Toloache,The Perfect Pint, Bar Americain and Natsumi. Book well in advance.

Hurry now to get tickets to these seven gems:

The Color Purple – The musical version of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel closes its Tony-winning revival on January 8. The powerful story of an abused African-American woman in the American South won Cynthia Erivo a Tony Award. The show also features Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) and Tony and Grammy-winner Jennifer Holliday. The gospel, blues and ragtime tunes are brilliant.  Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street. Tickets: or 212.239.2600.

The Encounter – Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced on Broadway, this smash from London surrounds you in immersive sensory brilliance.  Told by actor Simon McBurney and using 3D audio, it is the startling story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre who was lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in the Amazon rainforest. Be prepared, there’s no intermission and you can’t leave your seat as you’re tethered to it by your headphones. Closes January 8 as well. John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street. Tickets: or 212.239.6200.

Fiddler on the Roof – The 50th anniversary revival of this wondrous show ends its run on December 31. Danny Burstein plays Tevye, a character larger than life, in this musical about a Jewish community on the eve of the Russian Revolution. The show revolves around the marriage of Tevye’s three daughters and includes songs that have become part of Broadway legend like “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Tradition.” Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway. Tickets: or 212.239.6200.
(Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Jersey Boys – The boys from New Jersey will play their final show on January 15. The story of the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will have you on your feet as you join the quartet in singing “December 1963 (Oh What a Night).” You know all the songs (“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,”) but even if you don’t, you’ll still be humming and tapping along to the story behind those wondrous voices that took the radio waves by storm in the latter part of the 20th century. August Wilson Theatre, 24t5 West 52nd Street. Tickets: or 877-250-2929.

Matilda the Musical – This brilliant, Tony-Award winning show about the children in Roald Dahl’s book, will no longer be “a little bit naughty” after January 1. Another West End transplant, the musical tracks the life of precocious Matilda, her abusive parents, her disheartening school experiences and how she decides to change her destiny. The music is catchy and the kids are fantastic.  Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street. Tickets: or 212-239-6200.

Oh, Hello on Broadway – In this season of less-than-funny news and change, Oh, Hello has brought welcome laughs to Broadway audiences. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central fame play two crusty Upper West Side bachelors who have a flair for the theatrical. You’ll have to pay attention to catch all the lines and fabulous zingers, which can sometimes get lost under the audience laughter. Each night’s performance features a surprise performer. For New Yorkers, this is a must-see. Closes January 22. Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street. Tickets: or 212.239.6200.

Something Rotten – Shakespeare was never as cool as in this wonderful musical about the creation of the world’s first musical. Adam Pascal from the original production of Rent plays the Bard. But all good things must come to an end, and so must the Renaissance: Something Rotten closes on January1. Broadway musical fans should pay attention to all the shows mentioned in the opening number. Something Rotten is a tribute to every musical that ever was and is.  St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street. Tickets:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Really Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations in NYC

If you’re like me, you often forget to book a reservation until the last-minute, or suddenly guests appear and you need more space so dining out works better. For all who find themselves in situations like these, here are a dozen great choices in New York City still offering Thanksgiving meals, with choices reflecting the wonderful ethnic diversity of our city.  Happy Turkey Day!

The East Pole on the Upper East Side offers a full American-inflected Thanksgiving menu. For just $85 per person, you’ll enjoy a three-course meal along with sides for the table and an optional four-course wine pairing for $45. Starters include options like Wild Mushroom & Ricotta Crostino with Truffle Oil & Herbs; or Black Barley Risotto, Autumn Squash and Goat Cheese Sage.  Entrees include Heritage Turkey Breast, Roasted Chestnut Ragu and Butternut Squash, or Seared Diver Scallops with Carrot Ginger Mash and Fig Salsa.  Dessert are traditional Pumpkin Pie as well as Goat Cheese Cake.

Moving East, Tikka India Grill in Kew Gardens (Queens) and Williamsburg (Brooklyn) is serving an Indian-inspired version of traditional American fare with a prix fixe, three-course menu for $16.95.  The meal begins with a plate of savory street food. The main course features Tandoori-grilled Breast of Turkey, infused by Indian spices together with sautéed pumpkin and zucchini, and garlic cilantro rice. For a sweet finish, dessert is a traditional Saffron Zarda, a rice dish infused with sweet spices.  BYOB.

Michelin-starred Rebelle takes you to Paris with a menu referencing classic French dishes and techniques with a nod to Chef Eddy’s time at Spring in Paris. The $78 per person prix fixe menu includes a choice of Kale, Apple and Walnut Salad or Roasted Squash with pears and brown butter for appetizers; Roast Beef, Pan-seared Halibut or Roasted Turkey as a main; and a section of appropriate side dishes such as Foie with fat, Stuffing; Traditional Stuffing; Green Bean Casserole; Sweet Potato Brûlée, Brussels Sprouts with lardons, or roasted mushroom. Served family style, desserts include traditional Thanksgiving favorites, apple, pecan pie or pumpkin pie.

 At beloved Harlem neighborhood restaurant and wine bar Vinateria, owner Yvette Leeper Bueno and Executive Chef Joshua Bedford will bring a  three-course menu featuring dishes like Roasted Baby Pumpkins stuffed with lamb sausage and farro; Grilled Sardines with lemon and olive bagna cauda, Whole Grilled Dorade with bitter greens; Roasted Leg of Lamb with saffron cous cous and Port reduction; Roast Pennsylvania Duck with toasted chickpeas, red watercress and warm spices; Warm Fig Tartlet; and Lemoncello Tiramisu.

We’ll toast with Margaritas this Thanksgiving at Rosa Mexicano.  It’s a three-course Thanksgiving Fiesta  for $40/person, featuring Sope de Calabaza: pumpkin soup garnished with pomegranate and toasted pepitas; a choice of two entrees: Chile ancho-roasted Turkey with choice of mole xico or traditional gravy served with four sides, including Cranberry Salsa, Sweet Plaintain-Huitlacoche Stuffing, Mexican Chorizo Potatoes and Fall Roasted Vegetables; or Enchiladas de Pavo with pulled roasted turkey, topped with mestiza crema and orange-spiced crispy Brussels sprouts. Empanadas de Manzana complete the dinner, filled with apples and cranberries and topped with vanilla ice cream. Guests can imbibe a special Thanksgiving cocktail: Blood Orange Cranberry Margarita with housemade cranberry bitters.

 This Thanksgiving, Michelin-starred chef Eduard Frauneder is serving an Austrian-inspired feast at the Village’s Edi & The Wolf for $63 that includes Blue Hubbard Squash Ravioli, Salad with Boursin and acorn squash, or Potato Leek Soup to start. Your entree will be either a traditional Roasted Turkey with stuffing or Braised Short Rib with pommes puree, chanterelles and garlic brown butter. For the table, you’ll enjoy maple whipped sweet potato and roasted Brussels sprouts. Desserts are the restaurant’s wonderful apple strudel or a traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Remember New York City’s oystering prowess with a special Thanksgiving and oyster dinner at Maison Premiere, the James Beard Award-winning oyster house and cocktail den in Williamsburg. Chef Lisa Giffen offers a three-course prix fixe turkey dinner for $75/person A selection of fresh-from-the-sea oysters will be available à la carte, a wonderful starter to Butternut Squash Veloute with truffle whipped cream and balsamic; or Foie Torchon with fig compote and pistachio appetizers. The mains offer a seafood choice, Turkey Breast with a less-traditional turkey leg roulade with liver and Mirliton stuffing, or Housemade Pasta with chicken liver, Treviso and Fresno chilies. Desserts are both French and American in spirit, with a choice of Pumpkin Pecan Tart or Rhum Cannelles.

Monday, October 17, 2016

It's an All-Year Fancation When You're in a Sports Town Like Boston -- Visit Fenway

It might have been David Ortiz's last hurrah in Boston, but the Red Sox are still a red hot team to visit. And building a vacation around a trip to Beantown is worth every culinary, historical and New England second. While Opening Day isn't until April 3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, you might want to schedule a vacation to combine both a Red Sox game and a viewing of the Boston Marathon on April 17.Or, why wait that long? There's plenty to do in fall and winter as well.

Boston Red Sox
Baseball Stop: Fenway Park

This is the team that broke the Curse of the Bambino in spectacular fashion, coming from behind to smash their arch-rivals the New York Yankees and win the World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918. And they did it two more times after that in the new century. This year's dream team was one for the records and witnessed a sentimental sendoff to a Boston legend, Big Papi. Little Fenway is a true, historic park. It's virtually unchanged, without high-tech anything, really. The major changes over time have been the addition of more seating to accommodate the sell-out crowds. If you're lucky, you'll snag a seat on the Green Monster, giving you a true birds-eye view of the game. There's much tradition at the park, like Wally, the team's mascot named after the Green Monster itself, the left field wall. To the right of the bleachers and the red painted seat where Ted Williams hit his 502-foot home run is Pesky Pole, a yellow landmark and the right field foul pole.  Food at the park is great. At what other baseball stadium could you get a New England lobster roll, a cup of clam chowder, or a Dunkin' Donuts coffee? Giving a nod to the city's Irish heritage, there's even an Irish beer stand, that's, without a doubt, the most popular in the stadium. If you want the true Fenway experience, however, order a perfectly salted Fenway frank with mustard and relish.

Tickets are a bit hard to score, so plan ahead, as the games really do sell out although there are SRO tickets. New projects at the park include Fenway Farms, a 5,000-square-foot organic garden on the roof that provides produce to the many food outlets at Fenway. But back to the Fenway, old and dear: there are traditions that you must adhere to at the park. For one, you''ll need to refresh your knowledge of the team's signature song, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," reputedly written in honor of Caroline Kennedy. Plan to sing along with the fans in the 8th inning. If the Red Sox win, you're going to hear the Standells' "Dirty Water."

Getting to the park is easy. Take the Green Line trolley to Kenmore Square and walk a block and a half to Yawkey Way. Once you pass through, you're in a sort of enclosed food court/party scene, with lots of choices for buying Red Sox merch. The Team Store is one of the largest in the Major League. Take a tour of the park any time year-round -- it's well worth it.


The Copley Square Farmers Market: Boston has, of late, taken a serious interest in the organic riches of the area.  From Vermont to Massachusetts, farmers, fishermen, and bakers bring their wares to this open-air market set up in front of the Fairmont Copley Plaza.  Changing seasonally, the items can range from pumpkins and squash in the fall to juicy Maine blueberries and watermelon in the summer, with fresh New England seafood available all year long. Other goods like essential oils and soaps are also sold.

Sit Down, John:  Well, not really. Although U.S. President John Adams was originally from Massachusetts, and a major player in the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- hence, this line from the play "1776" -- we'd rather that you walk the talk and follow the Freedom Trail, a painted red line hat traces a historical path along 2.5 miles through Boston. Along the way, stop off to visit Paul Revere's house, the grave of Mother Goose, Faneuil Hall where you can do some souvenir shopping at Quincy Market. There are 16 stops in total, so you might want to break this trip into two days with food and rest stops in-between. Another way to see the city is to walk to the recently named Fort Point area, the city's burgeoning residential and business nabe by the formerly decaying waterfront. You'll pass the Children's Museum and can take a well-earned break sitting on the stairs behind the dramatic ICA, the Institute of Contemporary Art. From new Fort Point Pier, rent a rowboat or kayak for a languid exploration of Boston Harbor.

Art for Art's Sake:  The Museum of Fine Arts has one of the country's premier art collections, ranging from ancient Egyptian and American notables to European and Asian works. You'll need to allot at least three hours, as this is the fourth largest museum in the United States. Tale the Green Line E trolley along Huntington Avenue to the museum.  Have the kids in tow?  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a gem on the Fenway, has a scavenger hunt that will keep the little ones entertained and possibly engender an interest in the world of art.

Sleep:  Two of the city's best hotels offer Red Sox-themed packages. The newly expanded and renovated Hotel Commonwealth is the perfect choice if you want to eat, drink, and breathe Red Sox. Just a quick walk from the park and located with a commanding view of Fenway itself, and noted as the "official hotel of the Boston Red Sox," this hotel is a beauty. Baseball game packages are available like the Green Monster Package and the Ultimate "Bucket List" Baseball Package with accommodations, on-the-field access to batting package, a photo memory, and more.  Call 617-532-5019 for all package details and inclusions. The hotel even has two baseball-themed suites, one filled with Red Sox memorabilia, and the new balcony suite, with a room and outdoor balcony directly facing Fenway Park.

With two superb restaurants, the Island Creek Oyster Bar and Eastern Standard, you can plan your non-hot dog eats around the hotel restaurants' menus of top-notch seafood and local brews. Eastern Standard's roasted oysters make a nice appetizer before heading to Island Oyster Creek, where you check off your oyster selection on a sheet of paper. Try the Maine versions from Damariscotta or any from Cape Cod. If you're still hungry, the restaurant's signature lobster roll is  as fresh as you can get. Even carnivores should try some of the seafood or shellfish here -- this is the heartland for one of the best raw bars you'll find anywhere. Take the T, the subway, to the Copley Square stop, literally across the street from the hotel. 500 Commonwealth Avenue. 617-933-5000.

A couple of T stops away from Fenway, the Lenox Hotel sits in Copley Square, near the Boston Public Library. A member of Historic Hotels of America, this boutique hotel with a lively bar and restaurant has a tony location if you want to be in the midst of the Boston Marathon or near the fabulous shopping on Newbury Street. If you're arriving from out of town, the Back Bay Amtrak station is a ten-minute walk away, and if you're in need of a car, the concierge will arrange to have a rental brought directly to the hotel. Call the hotel closer to baseball season to inquire about their Red Sox packages. Be sure to visit neighboring BPL, as it's known here, to see one of the more exquisite readings rooms in the country. 61 Exeter Street, 617-536-5300.

Eat:  Seafood reigns supreme in Boston, but there are steakhouses, too, that warrant consideration.  Try Post 360 for a pub-like setting for top chops, steaks, and, of course, seafood. The attractive restaurant focuses on "Farm to Post,"with Chef Nick Deutmeyer serving only the freshest ingredients from the region. Harvest in the center of Harvard Square. The restaurant is especially appealing with its interior "outdoor" court along with a rotating, seasonal menu of produce-influenced dishes under the direction of Chef Tyler Kinnett You can even travel there by foot from the Boston side, walking along the Esplanade along Storrow Drive to the Mass Ave. bridge. Meander through Cambridge's historic streets as you listen to street musicians, watch students hustling from class to dorm, or stop to visit a Harvard shopping institution, the Harvard Coop.

Sister-city Cambridge, across the Charles River, offers much in the way of history and dining as well. You probably know that Harvard University and MIT are located there, but there are also music clubs and fine dining experiences.

Shop: If you can drag yourself away from the hippie-student vibe of Harvard Square, Boston has some serious shopping. Newbury Street is the city's version of Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue. All the major players are here including Alexis Bittar, for fabulously eclectic jewelry, Intermix, and Vince. Stop at Stephanie's for a quick pick-me-up iced coffee and continue your shopping frenzy. For more mom-and-pop, funky shops, head to Charles Street at the foot of Beacon Hill for both Boston-ish souvenirs and coffees.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Prepare for Baseball 2017: Plan a Fancation to Citi Field to See the Mets

Here's another Fancation to tempt your travel planning for the year ahead. Plan to visit New York City starting in April to see the Amazins' continue the momentum started this year.

New York Mets:
Baseball Stop: Citi Field, Queens, New York

Be one with your favorite firecracker-hot Mets players at Citi Field where you can really feel like you’re a part of the action. The Mets’ newish stadium seats 41,800 and provides a little something for every single fan. The seats are positioned inward to provide an enhanced view of the field, there’s the 2K Sports FanFest area complete with batting cage, dunk tank and video and of course an abundance of food stands serving the best hot dogs, pretzels, Italian heroes and other baseball-friendly snacks. The food court in the back takes baseball cuisine a step further with Danny Meyers' Shake Shack and Blue Smoke,along with Pressed by Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar fame. Very much made with the customer in mind, tickets are reasonably priced, compared to the other New York team’s.. Located in the busy and diverse Flushing Meadows section of Queens there is so much culture and energy surrounding the stadium in the form of interesting museums, ethnic restaurants and beautiful architecture. Getting to the stadium is easy— whether you prefer by subway, rail, water or road. The 7 train takes you directly to the park. Check online to find out about seasonal water taxis, often leaving from downtown Manhattan.


Anti-Booze Cruises: Take a break from all-you-can-drink nighttime sailing adventures and give Classic Harbor Line cruises a try. Sail around New York while renowned restaurateurs and architects entertain and enlighten you with their fare. Learn some New York City architectural history aboard a classy 1920’s style yacht where you glide along the East, Harlem and Hudson Rivers, under each of Manhattan’s 18 bridges (who knew there were so many) and past many other notable buildings and memorials. Cruises set sail from easily accessible Chelsea Piers, Pier 62 at West 22nd Street. You can also enjoy the new cruise-dining experience on Fish Bar from Pier 81, where you can choose to sit on top at the bar on lounge furniture, or inside as you enjoy fine dining while sailing along the Hudson River. Time your dinner to coincide with a sunset viewing of the Statue of Liberty. The boat and restaurant operate year-round.

Not Your Mom’s Science Fair:  Perfect for ages 6 months to 70 years, the New York Hall of Science  takes the science beyond generic science-fair level. There’s a Science Playground with slides, sound machines and more that are perfect for the little ones who are discovering the use of their senses. There are more than 450 permanent exhibits that are all hands-on and mentally stimulating. Explore some of the most powerful and historical spacecrafts at Rocket Park, discover unknown worlds beneath the microscope at Hidden Kingdoms and put your body to work at Sports Challenge where you participate in fun and physical activities. Rocket Park Mini Golf is a way to incorporate all you learned about physics, mathematics and good old fun. General admission tickets are priced reasonably, based on age of guest, and don’t miss the opportunity for complimentary admission September-June on Fridays, 2-5pm; Sundays, 10-11am and Fridays when school is out for students. The Museum hours change with the seasons.

Bird’s Eye View:  In order to take in all the beauty of New York City from above either take a helicopter ride with New York Helicopter  or opt for the economical route and head to Queens Museum to see the renowned Panorama. The 50-year-old model is 9,335 square feet and includes an accurate model of every New York City building that was ever built before 1992. Robert Moses’1964 World Fair entry celebrates the city’s diverse and beautiful architecture and infrastructure, shining light on each of the 895,000 structures. The model’s upgrade in 2009 was to make a crucial addition, the Met’s Citi Field. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 12-6pm and the admission is a suggested donation. New York City Building Flushing Meadows Corona Park; Queens, NY 11368; 718-592-9700

De-stress :  Sweat the stress and pounds away at an authentic Russian Bath, Wall Street Bath and Spa. Offered is the Russian Sauna, the Old American Shvitz that’s temperature and vapor ingredients can be adjusted to your liking, a near-Olympic-sized swimming pool, tanning beds, and Jacuzzi.  For $32.50 per day you can de-robe and relax in one of the busiest districts in the city, Wall Street. There’s a restaurant onsite with a few options to help replenish your appetite after a day of sweating off toxins and unwanted fat. Ride the New York Waterway Ferry for another fun experience. Open Monday through Friday 11am-11pm or Saturday and Sunday 9am-11pm.
88 Fulton Street; New York, NY 10038; 212-766-8600

Sleep:  Skip staying in Queens and head instead to Manhattan for greater choice and comfort. A boutique in a quieter section of the city is the Hotel Giraffe. Comfort, elegance and style are personified in the spacious guest rooms, with afternoon snacks, and music in the lobby. The complimentary European-style breakfast buffet and rooftop lounge area are sure to provide the much-needed boost of energy or bit of relaxation to get you through your day as well as the high-speed Wi-Fi Internet for researching your next move. Though there is no gym onsite, guests receive a complimentary pass to the nearby NY Sports Club. Located at 365 Park Avenue South; New York, NY 10016; 212-685-7700 you are within a short walking or public transportation-distance from many of the city’s major shopping areas, landmarks and museums.

Hotel Elysée is a boutique hotel that entices with its simplicity without sacrificing its amenities. It’s very much like a home away from home feel with the charming and thoughtfully styled guestrooms and suites and the care with which they treat guest, offering complimentary Wi-Fi Internet throughout the hotel as well as a hearty breakfast. For a delicious meal at a world-renowned eatery, head right out to Monkey Bar or order into your room.  The stylish restaurant that has been around since the Great Depression serves up banana daiquiris, famous NY Strip ‘Delmonico’ and enough oysters and clams to satisfy your crustacean cravings. The Hotel is located at 60 East 54th Street; New York, NY 10022; 212-753-1066.

Eat:  You’ve had a long day of sitting in sporty clothing, cheering loudly to represent your team and possibly weathering the storm of beer raining from the cups of fellow fans. A day at the baseball field is always fun and exciting but sometimes after all the casual fun sometimes a little upgrade to grownup sexy is the perfect way to end the night. DiWine is exactly the place to go. The eclectic menu reflects the diverse Astoria neighborhood in which it resides. There’s a delicious array of brunch Brick Oven Pizzas—“The Gigi” with smoked beef, capers, portabella and mushrooms sounds amazing, Pecan Buttermilk Waffles and Banana Bread French Toast to start you off. Then the Dinner Menu sets things off offering 12 Tasting Plates—Dates and Devils, Bistro Mussels and Truffled Mac-n-Cheese are just a few that scream to be tasted. The creative and tasty libations are in abundance and they pair nicely with the gorgeous interior that’s intimate and chic. The plush lounge couches and extra long bar draw people in and keep them satisfied while there.
Open Sunday through Thursday 5pm-2am; Friday & Saturday 5pm-4am; Weekend brunch begins at 11am.
4115 31st Avenue; Astoria, NY 11103; 718-777-1355

Shop: You know the drill. Manhattan and Brooklyn are where the shopping's at. Depending on your style preferences, you might enjoy perusing the high-fashion Pucci and Prada shops along Madison Avenue in Manhattan or subway downtown to SoHo for trendier boutiques or big-name magnets like Moncler and Intermix.  Brooklyn is the place for the independents, with each neighborhood touting its own. Take the subway, pick a neighborhood, and shop. There are more stores in NYC than in most cities in the country and you're sure to find something distinctive along the way. And, of course, there's always the Fan Store at the stadium for your Mets flatbrim hat.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Last Chance to See These Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows

The theater season starts to wind down a bit in August and September.  It’s the last chance for you to catch some of the wonderful shows that have been playing this year on and off-Broadway before the new crop hits the stages in mid-fall.

Hurry now to get tickets to these six gems:

An Act of God  - a hilarious explanation of the 10 Commandments, this revival of the original Jim Parsons’ one-man show now features the talents of Sean Hayes.  It’s irreverent, creative and totally off-the-wall.  Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street.  Closing September 4.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – the thought-provoking show about a 15-year-old autistic boy whose mathematical brilliance motivates him to solve the mystery of a murdered dog closes on September 4 as well.  Don’t miss it.  Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street.

Fun Home – Tony-winner Fun Home is a musical about a family dealing with the trials and tribulations of gay children and parents.  The children are as entertaining as the adults, although this is a show that’s definitely not appropriate for young ones.  Circle in the Square, 235 West 50th Street.  Closes September 10.

Les Miserables – If you haven’t seen this monster of a musical yet, now is your last chance (at least until it’s next revival).  Closing September 4, Les Miz has an unforgettable mix of drama and music and tells the famous story written by Victor Hugo.  Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.

Fuerza Bruta – an Off-Broadway favorite for the younger set, Fuerza Bruta involves the audience in its music and acrobatics.  There are no seats and it’s theater at its most immersive.  Closing August 28. Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street, 

Oslo – Also Off-Broadway, at Lincoln Center, the play about a Norwegian diplomat and her husband facilitated the 1993 Oslo Accords and the meetings between Israel and the PLO closes on August 28.  Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, 150 West 65th Street.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Broadway Buzz! “Stars in the Alley” Showcases More Than 30 Shows June 3 in Free Concert in Times Square

Broadway lovers, you don’t want to miss this. From 12:30pm to 2:30pm on June 2, in Shubert Alley on West 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth avenues in New York City, you can enjoy performances and star appearances from more than 30 Broadway shows, accompanied by a live 12-piece orchestra. Free! With the Tony Awards coming up on June 12, this is a great chance to view performances from 2016 Tony Award®- nominated musicals and decide which ones to buy tickets for now. Produced by the Broadway League, this is an annual event that is always packed so arrive early for best seating and viewing.

Hosts for "Stars in the Alley" are Sean Hayes from An Act of God and Mo Rocca of CBS Sunday Morning.  Also featured emcees are Sierra Boggess and Alex Brightman, the two leads in School of Rock the Musical.

All photos by Meryl Pearlstein, Stars in the Alley 2015

 Some of the stars performing are Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Alfie Boe, John Gallagher Jr., Heather Headley, James Monroe Iglehart, Rory O’Malley, Billy Porter, Max von Essen, with Tony nominees Reed Birney, Danny Burstein, Carmen Cusack, Saycon Sengbloh, Michael Shannon, Jennifer Simard

I’ve seen just about all of these musicals and it’s a great opportunity to hear their fabulous songs again. I encourage you to buy tickets now before the Tony Awards so you don't get closed out from the ones you want to see most. The participating musicals are: Aladdin, An American in Paris, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Bright Star, Chicago, The Color Purple, Disaster!, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Fun Home, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Les Misérables, Matilda The Musical, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan, Paramour, The Phantom of the Opera, She Loves Me, Something Rotten!, Tuck Everlasting, Waitress, and Wicked

There will also be appearances from An Act of God, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Eclipsed, The Father, Fully Committed, Hamilton, The Humans, Long Day's Journey into Night, School of Rock The Musical, and Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Stars in the Alley information can be found at The event is produced by The Broadway League. United Airlines is the title sponsor of Stars in the Alley®.