AWESOME GIVEAWAY: VIP Tickets to Tribeca Retail Club's Holiday Bonanza!

Do you like fashion? Open bar? What about goody bags? Well duh, if you read this blog you could at least check off one of those three. The Tribeca Retail Club, an self-proclaimed underground fashionista destination, is hosting their Holiday Bonanza event on Friday December 17 as a chance for you to do some holiday shopping, mingle with fellow cool people and sip some cider (Magners to be exact!). The festivities run from 6-10 p.m. at 28 West 27th Street 2nd Floor (Note change in venue)

Admission is free, but to partake in the open bar and the fabulous goodie bags, you need VIP admission ($15 in advance or $20 at the door). To my awesome readers, I'm giving away 2 VIP tickets to this event, because of course I can't send pals to an event without knowing they'll leave with a goodie bag. You have four easy ways to enter and each comment counts as an entry:

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) Leave a comment below letting me know why you want to go to TRC's Holiday Bonanza, who you will bring and how you heard about this contest.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet or blog about this event and let me know with a comment below with a link to your tweet or blog.

A winner will be chosen using Random.org on Thursday 12/2. You have until Thursday 12/2 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. The winner must be able to attend the event on 12/17 and will need to give the name of his/her guest to me by Friday 12/3. Good luck!

A winner has been chosen! Congrats James! He was the first commenter. I hope you enjoy your VIP tickets and this great event!

12/4 UPDATE! If you still want a VIP ticket, here's a code for $5 off good through tomorrow 12/5: HAPPYSUNDAY. Enjoy!


Little Brown Glass

Friday nights are when to score at Bloomingdale's. I went in to make a quick purchase at the Mac counter and to my surprise, ran into a man serving Champagne. Now it's rare for me to turn down a man serving Champagne, so I followed him into the Coach boutique, which had just opened. In addition to the bubbly, Coach ladies dressed in black were manning a candy station complete with gummy bears, Starburst, and my old-time favorite Pop Rocks. The store was mobbed with people trying to get in on the action (I swear it was like people had never seen M&Ms before), but I stuck around to finish my glass of awesome and browsed the goodies. In addition to all the free giveaways, including notebooks and pencils with the brand's logo, everyone who made a purchase received a monogrammed leather keychain.

Cute clutches with a hint of sparkle
The mob at the candy table
Coach ladies in black (note the empty bins once filled with candy)
Man serving Champagne
I loved these little coin purses in lots of fun colors - only $38
Free monogramming with purchase
Once I had my fill of Friday night fun, I made my way toward the exit. But wait! There was another man serving Champagne. Although it was way to early for a second glass, I had to see what else could possibly be going on at the 59th Street Flagship store. I found another large crowd in the Dior boutique and a lady with a clipboard. Her personality was about as bubbly as the Champagne I had just consumed, and she informed me that Elle Magazine was hosting a celebration in conjunction with Dior. Elle's head astrologist, I didn't get her name, was giving personalized (and apparently very accurate) readings, the man was serving Champagne AND white wine, and another man was passing around those delicious little French macaroons. I passed on the reading (hello, 45 minute wait!?) and the alcohol, but I had to have a cute little macaroon, yum!

Dior Boutique inside Bloomingdales 59th Street
Delicious little French macaroons complete with a pineapple (?) leaf

I don't know what you're doing next Friday (not this Friday as all craziness breaks loose on Black Friday), but I'm heading back to Bloomie's to see what else goes on around the designer sunglasses and shimmery eyeshadows of the awesome department store. Will I see you there?

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 2 Tickets to Promises, Promises!

There's nothing like a feel good show. Especially one with lively colors, memorable music, cheery Kristin Chenoweth, Just Jack (um, I mean Sean Hayes) and Molly Shannon making her snazzy Broadway debut. I saw this show back in April when I had some out-of-town guests in and they absolutely loved it. 

The show, based on the 1960 film The Apartment, begins by introducing a young and rather naive employee by the name of Chuck Baxter, who is willing to pretty much do anything to move up the corporate ladder. Anything includes lending out his apartment to his higher-ups for use as a love nest (see: Madmen). Trouble arises when Baxter discovers the woman of his dreams, Fran Kubelik, has become the mistress of one of his executives. You'll recognize Burt Bacharach songs like "I Say A Little Prayer" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and when the show is over you'll find yourself wanting to head back to your office to try out some of those over-the-desk dance moves.

One lucky reader will receive two tickets to see Promises, Promises on a night of his or her choosing. The tickets must be picked up at the box office the day of the show. There are 4 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry. You may enter the contest a maximum of 4 times. Please include your email in any comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Leave a comment below letting me know why you want to go to this show and how you heard about this contest.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet or blog about this event and let me know with a comment below with a link to your tweet or blog.

A winner will be chosen using Random.org on Wednesday 11/24. You have until Wednesday 11/24 at 11 a.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

A winner has been chosen! Congratulations to Eugene for being the 7th commenter! I hope you enjoy the show! Thanks to everyone for entering!


Thrill Me

When I first started reading Thrillist a while back, I had no idea it was a male-slanted thing. I got great deals, cool finds and random tidbits of weird life sent directly to my inbox, and I liked it. Even after I figured out that I was not part of the website and newsletter's target audience, I stayed a loyal follower, for the perks of course. 

Wednesday night, Thrillist celebrated its fifth anniversary with a bang and a shave. Held at Le Poisson Rouge, a venue I've been meaning to check out since day one of being a New Yorker, the party was co-sponsored by Phillips Norelco, with free shaves and razors for the very manly crowd. Walking in, my cousin Nola and I were greeted by a nostalgic toy -- a photobooth. It beckoned and we acquiesced, as I could not even tell you the last time I was in one of those. I do declare that they should be present at every cool party from here on out.

Photobooth shoot: Normal, Jazz Hands, Bad Smell, Serious
Free drinks were provided by Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, Ciroc and Red Stripe. I tried one of Bacardi's new bottled drinks, and it was pretty good, but definitely sweet. We switched to Ciroc after that, and I'd highly recommend the Ciroc Coco Loso concoction as it brings vacation to your taste buds. Mmmmm coconut!

Drink Specials
The DJ was awesome, and I'm not just saying that. Song after song I was more excited and couldn't stop dancing. You know when you decide to take a break on the next song that sucks? Well, none of them sucked and we were dancing divas. He played everything from Madonna's "Like a Prayer" to Cee-Lo's "F*ck You" and several others that made my (and ever other person born in the late 80s) night. 

Me and Nola and our big curly hair hanging out on the dance floor
And I bumped into Laura from 89thandbroke!
Le Poisson Rouge is known for the musicians and bands (and slam poets) it hosts, and Thrillist kept up the tradition by having Atomic Tom play a set for the party. Having never heard of them before, I was open for anything and was super excited by what I heard. The energy protruding out of the lead singer was contagious and he had everyone dancing and singing aloud. I sort of wish that I had youtubed some of their music before the party so that I could have joined in on the singing charade. 

Atomic Time
In all, I had the most fun that I've had on a Wednesday night in a long time, met some interesting people, and got a snazzy photobooth picture that I can hang on my bulletin board. Thanks Thrillist and congratulations on an awesome five years!


AWESOME ALERT: Ain't No Party Like A Cookbook Party

If there's one way to get people to buy a cookbook, it's hosting an exciting party with celebrity chefs in the character-filled, former Nabisco factory building, Chelsea Market, with some of the best food samples from the book and plenty of creative libations. That's just what was done to launch The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, edited by New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser, and I got to go.

The event was split into two hours, with ten chefs sampling everything from vegetable sushi to chocolate bread pudding in the first hour and nine in the second. "Snacks" from vendors like Amy's Bread and Martin's Pretzels were spread out across the room throughout the event. Also, a long bar area featured tasty "Apple Picker" Punch from Cienfuegos and Egg Creams (with no egg and no cream...how do they do it?!) from Russ & Daughters. 

I was able to attend this event thanks to Tasting Table, who also scored me a copy of the cookbook itself. After giving it a short peruse, I was tickled epicuriously and would highly recommend for foodies (the holidays are coming up people...hint, hint). My friend Rebecca and I circled the room let's just say more than once, and had tons of fun devouring simple classics and figuring out just how certain abstract dishes were concocted. My favorites were the Tonno Nizzarda by Michael White of Marea, Roast Coriander Chicken Thigh with Petticoat Apple Gin Sauce by Brian Bistrong of Braeburn, Butter Sables by Dorie Greenspan the author of Around My French Table and Bite-sized Grapple Pie with Grape Swirl Ice Cream by Karen Demasco of Locanda Verde.

Enjoy the food porn.

Shrimp Toast by Marc Murphy of Landmarc
Martin's Pretzels (yes, the ones from the Union Square Greenmarket)
Mast Bros. Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs
Addictively delicious Caramel Corn with Honeycomb and Dark Chocolate from Liddabit Sweets
A Russ & Daughters awesome person mixing up my Egg Cream
Me with my Egg Cream
Shrimp Alhinho Canape by George Mendes of Aldea
Albondigas Turcas: Manti Inspired Lamb Meatballs by Alex Raij of Txikito
Bite-sized Grapple Pie with Grape Swirl Ice Cream by Karen Demasco of Locanda Verde
Chocolate Cupcakes with Kabocha Buttercream by Pichet Ong of Spot Dessert Bar
Egg Suffragette by Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Rebecca with Tonno Nizzarda by Michael White of Marea
Bill Telepan of Telepan gave a very complimentary introduction to Ms. Hesser and Melissa Clark, author of In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. A portion of the night's proceeds was donated to Wellness in the Schools, an organization aiming to improve the environment, nutrition and fitness in NYC public schools, and Ms. Hesser introduced the non-profit and explained her passion for nutrition in schools.

Bill Telepan (left) introducing (from left to right) Amanda Hesser and Melissa Clark
Guests left with giftbags filled with goodies like Valrhona chocolate (yes, it's definitely worth whatever you will pay for it) and Food Should Taste Good chips. I left full and happy, and totally envious of Amanda Hesser's job.

Me and Rebecca (from left to right) were ultimately satiated


All That Facebook Jazz

Now don't get confused, but Chicago is awesome in New York.

The show that is. Along with some kick-ass chair dancing and sexy solos, the show also has an amazing PR team which cooked up an innovative campaign that you should really take advantage of. Chicago has plans to be the first Broadway production to pack the house entirely with its Facebook fans. All you have to do is get ten of your friends to "like" the show, and you get a FREE ticket to the 2 p.m. performance on Sunday January 30th.

Want to be a part of this razzle dazzle? Well click this link and get liking! You don't want to be a left-out-in-the-cold Mr. Cellophane now do you?


Summer of Riesling Worship

So I feel terrible for taking so long to post about the Summer of Riesling crawl hosted by Terroir, but the truth is I've been drunk on the elegant and dynamic white wine with the essence of citrus or stone fruit and sometimes petrol to compose myself long enough to do it justice.

Back in July, I heard about a funky little endeavor put on by the genius of Paul Grieco at Terroir wine bar in the East Village and David of Grapes and Grains. All summer, the only white wine he would serve would be Riesling, and he was challenging his minions to a month long crawl across two boroughs to taste and evaluate 13 different Rieslings. When I first started drinking wine, I would only drink Riesling because I thought it was always sweet. Boy was I wrong. I committed to completing the challenge and dragged a couple of friends into the wine abyss with me. We tasted wines from sweet to dry, aromatic always but with varying degrees of fruit, floral and even gasoline flavors. We were also brought to the coolest venues, from Bar Veloce in the East Village (where I discovered their amazing Nutella Panino for only $6 - get it!) to Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg with the friendliest bartenders. I also loved getting to go to Bar Bouloud and sitting in front of the charcuterie bar, doing a flight tasting at Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar, and sampling Riesling on tap at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn.

My friend Christine and I posing with our "Summer of Riesling" passports at Bar Veloce
Other than the obvious reason of partaking in a journey to drink wine throughout the summer, up for grabs was a Riesling tasting dinner for six people at Terroir's sister restaurant Hearth. After the crawl was up and the passports were turned in, I discovered that I was one of about twelve or thirteen people who actually completed the challenge. Our next task was to answer two of the most absurd questions I have ever been asked, but I knew that I had to be creative in answering them. 

Relying on the physics I learned in college and the drawing skills I practiced in grade school, my creative juices flowed (with Riesling of course) I came up with something I was pretty proud of and was sure that I had it in the bag. See my questions and answers here: Yael's Q&A.

Then I found out there was a girl who wrote her answers entirely in verse. Of course she did. She triumphed and I was sad.

But just reinforcing how much I love the creative genius that is Paul Grieco and Terroir, I was not only invited to a private tasting of Bernkasteler Doktor Rieslings (including one from 1959 - awesome!!!) with the winemaker herself, but I also was awarded half a case of different Rieslings as an honorable mention prize. 
My loot of juice
Can't say I'm still sad after all of this. Definitely not. Can't wait for next summer so that I can do it all over again! Until then, who's coming over for Riesling?

Eating the East Village

It seems like this is the umpteenth food festival event I've posted about in the last couple months, and though sometimes I feel this blog should be called Awesome Food in New York, deal with it. I heart food.

East Village Eats was put on by the non-profit organization Fourth Arts Block, which promotes the East 4th Street Cultural District, as a chance for locals and tourists alike to wander around the East Village eating and discovering some pretty snazzy restaurants and drinking establishments.  You already know that when food and wandering is involved, I'm there before you can even print out the map, so I was excited to bring along my boyfriend Mike and his college roommate in from out of town, Ben. The weather was perfect for this type of activity and we were hungry for our 15 "bites" from area restaurants. 

Me with my East Village Eats goodies. We got sporks!
Mike and Ben inside Bond Street Chocolate
I must admit that I was weary after the first stop at Bond Street Chocolate, where we were offered only a smidgen piece of flavored dark chocolate, but stop #2, Cucina de Pesce, was tre magnifique! We were offered a table and each received a plate full of Italian antipasto -- tomato, mozzarella and white bean bruschettas, tomato and mozzarella caprese and eggplant stuffed with goat cheese and roasted peppers.

Cold Antipasto "Feast" at Cucina de Pesce
Next, we made our way to the eclectic Mediterranean restaurant Nomad. The decor made me feel like I'd hopped on a plane and landed in Morocco, but no one was trying to sell me carpets or a fez, so that was good. We were each offered a seat at the bar and served plates of Moorish chicken skewers flavored with African spices, crispy pita and hummus. Although I didn't want to start out filling up on bread, this pita was delicious and the chicken succulent. I'll definitely be back!

Chicken, pita and humus from Nomad
We made our way east to the new Korean eatery Mono + Mono and from the second we walked in I was enamored by the decor. We all agreed that we want our house to look like this restaurant. It only opened a month prior, and with dark wood, high ceilings, a wall filled with 30,000 Jazz record albums (and an electronic system that carries them around the dining room) and a shelving unit displaying jars of colorful fruit and vegetables above the bar, it's truly a site to see. The food held up to the grandeur of the surroundings as well. Mono + Mono was sampling their Korean-style fried chicken wings - moist on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside with a honey flavor all over, we all wanted seconds and thirds. 

Mono + Mono
Korean-style fried chicken wing
I was super excited to visit Supper for our next bite, but compared to our previous stops, it felt like they didn't try as hard. Nevertheless, we arrived at the cozy, comfy Italian bistro and were offered what they called a Mushroom Trifolati, but it was really just cooked mushrooms on top of their grilled crusty bread. Again, not trying to fill up on bread, I mostly just ate the fungi. Slightly cold, they were still good.

Plates of Mushroom Trifolati at Supper
Now, it seems like Vietnamese sandwich shops have been popping up in every neighborhood like wildflowers within the last year. The problem is, they all seem to be the same - chicken, pate, daikon, cilantro, pickled carrots, crusty bread, done. I'm personally a fan of the catfish version from Baoguette, but I digress. Next door to Supper, we went to Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches for our next "bite." Half a sandwich later, I can say that I've found a different sort of Vietnamese sandwich shop, but a place where you can still find the classic. Mike and Ben both tried the sardine, but not wanting a salt overload I opted for the BBQ chicken. 

Our "bite" from Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches
Heading north, we stopped at Souen for some steamed seitan dumplings. I had seen all the ads from Fresh Direct on the bus stops about seitan being a super food, but I had never actually tried it so I was intrigued. Souen is a pretty cool place with neat decor and trendy lighting, though long and skinny and hard to move around in, but it hasn't turned me on to seitan. Oh well, not the best item to feature for a general audience, but I'm sure someone loved it.

Souen East Village
Seitan Dumplings at Souen
The fabulous Luke's Lobster was next on the list, and though I had never been to the East Village location before, it seemed like everyone else from the food tour hadn't either. There were probably 40 people crammed into the tiny storefront oogling about the maritime wall decorations and the mouth-watering menu, waiting for their shrimp rolls to be ready. I took this opportunity to let the boys wait for the rolls as I headed down the block to Xoom smoothies, where they were offering $3 smoothies to East Village Eats participants. Nothing like a cold guava and mango elixir to wash down a shrimp roll :)

A glimpse of the crowd descending on the Luke's Lobster counter
Making our way to the Tuck Shop, I was beginning to get very very full. We slowed down the walking  pace a little to give our stomaches digestive breaks. But upon entering the Australian meat-pie shop (perfect 3 a.m. food by the way), we were offered small portions of their pork and sage sausage rolls. While it was good, I much prefer the chook (aka: chicken) meat pie and a Lamington or Vanilla Slice for dessert. Grab a Cooper's beer while your at it because no one actually drinks Foster's in Australia. 

Pork and Sage Sausage Roll from Tuck Shop
The next two stops were disappointing because I expected a lot and was let down. Though this was probably for the best because there was a lot of food backing up in me by this point. First we went to Xi'an Famous Foods which was sampling their "Cold Skin Noodles" or what they described as bouncy and chewy wheat noodles mixed with seitan (there it was again) and vegetables, and tossed with secret spicy sauces to make a cool, delicious mess. Well, the only mess it made was a very spicy one in my mouth. Spicy to the point where I couldn't taste anything but heat and I had to throw mine away. Note to vendors: never serve something super hot to a general audience. I can handle spicy, but this was a bit much. S'mac was another sad story. I had walked by it so many times before and each time thought to myself that I need to try it one day. They were sampling their classic four cheese mac 'n cheese, but it was from a chafing dish outside the restaurant - that was their downfall. The cheese wasn't able to stay melty and instead it was crusty, crumbly and just bad if you can believe it. I'm hoping this was just a fluke, because never before have I thrown out mac 'n cheese and I don't intend to ever again. 

Big bowl of VERY spicy noodles from Xi'an Famous Foods
Mac 'n Cheese with hardened cheese from S'Mac
The food tour did redeem itself as we went on. Tulu's bakery had the most amazing mini red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting. Pretty simple and typical as far as NYC cupcakes go, but these were gluten-free! I know a couple of people that would be in love with this place after learning that. Also, the cupcakes were the perfect size for a bite of sweetness.

Mini red velvet cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting from Tulu's Gluten-Free Bakery
Ben and Mike hanging out at Tulu's
Just in time for a pick-me-up, we stumbled on the MUD truck in Astor Place for a latte for me and straight coffee for the boys. I'm not a big coffee drinker as it messes with my stomach, but my small orange cup was the perfect size to warm me up and let me get a taste of MUD's great brew.

T-Shirts for sale on the MUD truck
Me with my MUD cup
Inside the Cooper Square Hotel, we were able to get a glimpse of the full dining room at Faustina inside the futuristic tower hovering over the older buildings in Cooper Square. We were also treated to Garlic Nodini - basically garlic knots with a dollop of whipped ricotta in the middle. Ricotta is one of my magic words, so I was happy, but honestly, the last thing I wanted at this point was more bread.

Garlic Nodini at Faustina
The final stop on the tour was one I was very much looking forward to as I've read review after review about how amazing Hecho en Dumbo is. We sampled their Tostadas de Dzik: chilled salad of braised venison ossobucco with tomato, red onion, sour orange, chile habenero, radish and avocado served on a bed of crisp, hand pressed corn tostadas. You could really taste the love that went into this dish, and being from California where you can get fresh Mexican food on every street corner, I much appreciated the handmade tostadas. In a city where my qualification of a decent Mexican joint is one that gives you chips and (good) salsa for free, I'm happy to have discovered Hecho en Dumbo for myself and I can't wait to go back.

Tostadas de Dzik at Hecho en Dumbo
Mike and I outside Hecho en Dumbo
I want to thank Fourth Arts Block for enabling my friends and me to partake in this awesome afternoon of food and wandering. Can't wait to do it again next year! Did you attend? I want to hear your thoughts on the event!