AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 4 Tickets to Lysistrata Jones

What happens when you mix a classic Greek play with high school, some flashy musical numbers and sex (or lack thereof)? Well, you get Lysistrata Jones of course. The new Broadway comedy that received rave reviews off-Broadway earlier this year begins previews November 12 and shows that even Aristophanes can be hip for the modern age.

The premise of the show revolves around an Athenian University basketball team that hasn't won in 30 years and the cheerleaders who come up with a plan to withhold any and all bow-chicka-bow-wow until the team wins. College boys can do without a lot in life (clean underwear?) but these boys, as you can imagine, are not to thrilled with the plan Lyssie J. has concocted. Could this mean an end to the legendary winning streak? You'll just have to see the show to find out what comedy ensues. 

All of my awesome readers are in luck! I'm giving away 2 pairs of tickets to see Lysistrata Jones on Broadway! Tickets are good for Mon.-Thurs. performances through December 8th and winners will pick up their tickets from the box office. There are 5 easy ways to win, and each comment counts as an entry. Be sure to include your email in each comment so that I can easily contact you if you win.

  1. REQUIRED - Subscribe to Awesome in New York by email using the submission box in the right panel and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  2. REQUIRED - Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite piece of Greek or Roman classical literature and how you could imagine it as a modern Broadway show.
  3. Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  4. Follow Awesome in New York using Networked Blogs or Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  5. Tweet or blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or blog below.
You have until Thursday 11/3 at 5 pm EST to enter this contest. Winners will be announced soon after. Best of luck!

Congratulations to Sarah W. and Stephanie M.! They have each won two tickets to see Lysistrata Jones on Broadway! Thanks to everyone for playing and for those awesome Broadway show suggestions. Maybe some of you should become playwrights? Just sayin...

Can't wait to buy tickets? Lysistrata Jones is offering a special discount to Awesome in New York readers. The first 12 performances are only $50 (regular $130)! To purchase these tickets visit BroadwayOffers.com and enter the code LJPVW50. You could also call 212.947.8844 or visit the box office at the Walter Kerr Theater (219 W. 48th Street between Broadway and 8th) using the same code to purchase tickets. 


A Culinary Journey

[Scroll to the bottom to find out how to get free samples of Fig & Proscuitto, as well as AMAZING ricotta cheesecake on Wednesday 10/19 from 5-8 pm]

With the myriad of epicurean options available in New York City, it's often hard to choose just one cuisine per meal. Thankfully Sojourn on Manhattan's Upper East Side steps in with its delicious dishes from places like Italy, Asia and Mexico all served tapas style like you would find in Spain.

Describing his restaurant's menu indicative of new American cuisine with global influences, owner Sammie Musovit invited me and a guest to come and check out Sojourn in all of its glory, and check it out we did. Sammie has worked at the legendary Mr. Chow, where he used to plan parties and events for people like Madonna, Andy Warhol, and Stevie Wonder, so he definitely understands the importance of ambiance in addition to amazing food. Chef Peter Petti has an inventive background in such kitchens such as Michelin star award-winning Eleven Madison Park, Al Forno and Felidia. His creativity in the Sojourn kitchen shines through in each and every dish.

It was an almost rainy Tuesday night and at 6 pm it seemed like the bar area of Sojourn was filling up with a crowd of "regulars" when I arrived. The bartenders made small talk with guests who had brought in friends from out of town and people seemed to relax in the comfortable, yet lively environment of the restaurant. While waiting for my friend to arrive, I sipped a Louisville Slugger ($12), the restaurant's signature drink, made up of Maker's Mark, muddled thyme, lemon, and Vermont maple syrup. This was a serious fall drink. Although I'm not usually a Bourbon drinker, this cocktail grew on me even though the pieces of thyme floating on the top kept getting stuck in my teeth.

Louisville Slugger

My friend ordered a cocktail straight out of a tiki bar in Cabo San Lucas, the Michoacan Man ($12), made of Sauza tequila, Canton ginger, muddled jalapeno, lime juice, agave syrup and soda water. I wasn't a big fan of the jalapeno kick, but my friend seemed to enjoy it. The rest of the cocktail menu, which we were informed by our uber-friendly waiter Jose, changes seasonally, yet looked extremely creative and seemed to take influence, again, from all parts of the globe.

Since the menu  is split into sections and all dishes are meant to be shared, we decided to try one option from each of the salad, savory, pasta, seafood and meat categories. The first two selections out were the Roasted Butternut Squash Salad ($10) and the Duck Spring Rolls ($12). Along with the succulent squash, the salad included Brussel sprout leaves, pear, toasted pecans, goat cheese and champagne vinaigrette. This was truthfully one of the best salads I've had in a long time and I'm not even a Brussel sprout fan. I just couldn't stop eating this salad and probably could have made a whole meal out of it if I didn't remember how much food we still had coming. The spring rolls served with spicy plum sauce were also delicious. They reminded me of something that would be served at a high class Chinese restaurant, except for the fact that maybe an exquisite French chef swapped out the ingredients for the inside of the rolls. The duck was perfectly crispy, like confit should be, but the flavors were mostly Asian. The plum sauce also nicely complemented the meat.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Duck Spring Rolls
Next up was the pasta. We had the hardest time deciding on a selection from this category as EVERYTHING sounded amazing. We simplified our decision down to the black linguine with lobster arrabiatta, gnocchi with spinach and pink sauce, and ricotta and swiss chard ravioli with truffle butter. On recommendation from Jose, we went with the ravioli ($15). Given my love for all things truffle, this was an excellent decision. Four pillowy ravioli were served to our table lightly dusted in parmesan cheese. What surprised me about this dish was the al dente quality of the pasta. My friend commented that ravioli is usually "mushy," and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's nice to actually taste the texture of the pasta once and a while. The filling was simple, yet scrumptious and we felt like (maybe) we were getting some nutrients out of the swiss chard buried in this cheesy dish.

Ricotta and Swiss Chard Ravioli
For our seafood choice, we went with the Roasted Salmon ($16) with morel and crimini mushrooms, Brussel sprout leaves and, you guessed it, truffle oil (I just can't get enough!). This salmon was cooked perfectly. The crispy outside was met with a medium rare center - I just don't know how they do that! The portion was also perfect given that we were sharing other dishes as well. However, if I were in the mood for salmon, I would come back just to order this dish for myself and it would be a perfectly portioned meal.

Roasted Salmon
Our last entree was recommended to us by Sammie as Sojourn's most popular dish. The Skirt Steak ($18) with Asian pear and soy marinade, served with scallion fried rice, was the biggest portion we were served all evening. In fact, we couldn't even finish it (so keep that in mind when ordering one dish from every category). However, the flavors were delicious. The rice wasn't much more than anything I've ever had before, but the meat was juicy, tender and full of flavor. I could see why people would order it again and again.

Skirt Steak
By this point, the dining room was filling up a bit, but the crowd was definitely on the older side, which surprised us given the restaurant's proximity to all of the Second Avenue hotspots. At the same time, the amount of regulars who seemed to be present in the dining room could be a testament to the stability of the stellar cuisine and ample hospitality. Although I had read several negative reviews regarding the service of Sojourn on Yelp, I was happy to find that we had zero problems. Jose was one of the most personable waiters I've had in a while, offering menu suggestions and actually seeming interested in what his customers wanted out of their meal.

After taking a bit of time to digest, we decided that to get the full impression of Sojourn, we had to try their most popular dessert, the Blueberry and Ricotta Cheesecake ($10). When what I referred to as a "hunka hunka" piece of cheesecake arrived at our table, I was in heaven. If you've never had ricotta cheesecake, it's way better than whatever you're used to. More light and fluffy and less sticky sweet, this graham-cracker crusted delicacy was topped with blueberries and port wine sauce. Super creamy, this dessert is one of the best ways you could round out your meal. Perhaps I would have been in favor of a slightly smaller piece of cake for a few dollars less, but this dessert was too spectacular to care about portion size all that much.

Blueberry and Ricotta Cheesecake
On top of their spectacular food (be sure to check out the reasonably priced brunch menu), Sojourn offers various wine tastings and special dinners. Wine dinners generally run around $60 and include five courses, each with a different wine pairing - a steal especially for Manhattan, where these dinners can run upwards of $200. The dining room is also a rotating gallery for local artists.

Having lived on the Upper East Side for 3 years, I was surprised that I had never heard of this gem of a restaurant. However, Sojourn seems to be interested in widening its market, recently appearing on the Bloomspot deals site. Sammie also informed me that Sojourn will be offering free samples of two of the restaurant's most popular menu items Wednesday 10/19: the Fig and Proscuitto as well as the Blueberry Cheesecake I tried during my meal. If I were you, I'd hightail it up to 79th Street between 5-8pm Wednesday for some of that cheesecake :) Tell them Awesome in New York sent you.

Sojourn on Urbanspoon


AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 4 Tickets to The Judy Show

Are you due for a laugh? Then join two-time Emmy winner Judy Gold for The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom as she journeys back through iconic television sitcoms from the 70s, 80s and 90s (you know, the ones you keep handy on your DVR in case nothing is on cable). You'll laugh, you'll cry, well, you probably won't cry, but you'll definitely enjoy yourself. 

All my readers are in luck! I'm giving away two pairs of tickets to see The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom off-Broadway! Tickets are good for shows through 11/27 and winners will pick up their tickets at the box office. There are 5 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry. Please include your email in all comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Subscribe to this blog by email, using the submission box in the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite TV show character from the 70s, 80s or 90s and why he/she is your favorite.

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

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

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

You have until Thursday 10/20 at 5 p.m. EST to enter the contest. A winner will be announced shortly after. Good luck!

Congratulations Elizabeth and Jerry! You have each won a pair of tickets to The Judy Show! Check your email for more information.

For those who just can't wait for a good deal, you can snag 50% off tickets (normally $65) through 11/27 using code JSHHC45 at Broadwayoffers.com, calling 212-947-8844 or at the DR2 Theater box office at 103 E. 15th Street (between Park Ave. and Irving Pl.).


Pour Me Some More Sudsy

More and more, New York is becoming a beer town. It seems like every week I hear about a new craft beer bar or hear about a new microbrewery popping up in Williamsburg. In fact, since Brooklyn seems to be the epicenter of all of this sudsy madness, the Village Voice is being super appropriate by hosting a celebration of all things ale, lager and cider in the borough this Saturday 10/15 at Skylight One Hanson in Fort Greene. Brooklyn Pour, the publication's first annual beer event, is organized by the same amazing folks who put on Choice Eats, and is designed to feature over 100 local craft brews along with food and entertainment.

As of today the event is sold out, but I'm sure you could snag tickets on Craigslist or the like. Brooklyn Pour runs from 3-6 with a VIP hour from 2-3 and an afterparty at a local beer garden, Der Schwarze Kolner. Which of my lovely awesome readers will I see there?


A Store for Gourmet Addicts

Gourmet foodstuffs makes my heart tingle and my stomach jump for joy. When I heard that O & Co., the Maine based food chain that sources ingredients from all over Provence and the Mediterranean basin, had opened a new store in the Shops at Columbus Circle and was having an opening party, I had to check it out.

The store itself is fairly small, but it's packed to the brim with specialty olive oils (some wrapped in gold foils with hefty price tags), pastas, vinegars and other goodies like tapenades and truffle salts.

I was immediately offered a glass of prosecco with one of O & Co's vinegars. Vinegar with prosecco!?! The thought originally made me cringe, but these are not your average vinegars. In fact, I was told that to be truly considered a vinegar in France, a certain level of acidity must be achieved. The flavored vinegars the bartender was serving were really only "condiments" flavored with fruits like fig, pomegranate and apple. I tried the fig and it was surprisingly delicious in my bubbly. A salesman also let me sample a bit of the cherry "condiment" on a spoon, telling me that he uses it on everything from vanilla ice cream to salads to chicken. With the 15% discount they were offering that night, I had to take advantage and bought myself a bottle. I can't wait to experiment!

In addition to the prosecco, waiters passed hor d'ouevers made from all O & Co. ingredients including truffle-icious bites of potato and olive oil crisps, olive oil cakes with poppy seeds and jelly, as well as samples of pretty much anything in the store on cute little spoons.

Since I was traveling home the next day, I settled on the fried mussels in pickle sauce for my mom and basil oil for my dad. If you love basil and/or pesto, you have to pick yourself up a bottle of this one-drop-goes-a-long-long-long-way potion. At the end of the day, I'm glad to know I have another place to spoil myself nearby whenever I get the gourmet urge.

Where You Can See Times Square Rooftops

If you've lived in NYC long enough, I'm sure you've taken a ride in the famous glass elevators at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. But have you ever taken them to the very top? You might feel a bit like Charlie Bucket about to break through the glass ceiling at the speeds those elevators get to, but what awaits you (in albeit slightly 70s style decoration) are breathtaking 360 degree views from the aptly named The View restaurant. 

I was invited for a pre-show reception before seeing the new production of Follies, also breathtaking, and though I wasn't that impressed by the dated restaurant, being able to watch the sunset over the Hudson and 10 minutes later be gazing onto the eerily quiet rooftops of Times Square's buildings was awesome. Here are some pictures from way up there. 

Looking south east across the Hudson
Looking East (Chrysler Building center)
Looking due west


Food Like Your French Grandmother Makes

I have nothing against Brooklyn (other than the subway always seems to break down or not come every time I'm there), but I don't usually just go for a wander. I have to have a specific plan and I usually stick to it. Well, if you're like me at all in this manner (and you have an insatiable appetite for amazing food), head to Carroll Gardens and find a table at Sue Perette, a cute little French bistro on Smith Street.

I was invited by the owner, Benoit who grew up in the south of France where he learned culinary traditions from his grandmother and mother. This inspired him to open his own restaurant in NYC after he came for a visit and fell in love with the city. Named after both his grandmother and mother, Sue Perette was designed to bridge the gap between the French bistro and the high-end restaurants in Brooklyn. They specialize in dishes from all areas of France, featuring a new region every month, and make everything from fresh ingredients using organic and local products. Head chef, Gustavo, worked in different NYC French restaurants, like Cercle Rouge, before coming to Sue Perette. 

On the night I went for dinner I was pleased to note the restaurant's special for 50% off all wine bottles every Thursday. Arriving on the early side, I saw the restaurant fill up through the course of the night with couple's on romantic dates and groups of girlfriends gabbing away their stresses over good food and a glass of wine. The rustic chic decor, with rotating art exhibits and chalkboards, has the transportive power to take you certainly out of Brooklyn, and possibly out of NYC as well. The dim candlelit setting masks any troubles you walked in with.

After taking a few sips of my refreshing Rose, Benoit outlined the menu for us and highlighted some of his favorite dishes including the Raclette appetizer ($11) and the beef cheeks entree ($19). My guest and I settled on the special appetizer -- bacon wrapped quail with stone fruit -- and the mushroom bruschetta ($9) to start. If there's any way to start a meal, it's with these two dishes. They get right to business. The quail was super tender and the figs and peaches served with it were perhaps the tastiest I had ever bitten into, with hints of cinnamon that ultimately allowed the true flavor of the fruit to really shine. The mushrooms, oh the mushrooms, were a combination of oyster, shitake and crimini sauteed with truffle oil (my fave!) and served on crunchy bread. Again, this was a simple dish that really allowed the mushrooms to take center stage.

Bacon Wrapped Quail with Stone Fruit
Mushroom Bruschetta
For dinner, we decided we'd be adventurous and try the beef cheeks 1) because that's their specialty and 2) because I could not recall ever having eaten this part of a cow before. Wrapped in savoy cabbage, the tender beef is served in a red wine sauce with fried creamy dauphine potatoes, otherwise known as one of the best ways I have ever had potatoes prepared. I'm sorry to say I'm not a huge cabbage fan, but other than that I definitely enjoyed this dish. The beef melted in my mouth and I could have eaten a whole plate of those potatoes with the delicious sauce. The second entree we tried was the cassoulet of duck confit, pork belly and pork sausage served over slow-cooked white bean stew ($24). I really enjoyed this dish and could totally see it hitting the spot on a cold winter day that will be inevitably coming our way in a few short months. By this point we had switched from Rose to Cuvee and I would highly recommend a glass of this delicious red to go with your cassoulet. 
Beef Cheeks with Red Wine Sauce and Dauphine Potatoes
Cassoulet of Duck Confit, Pork Belly and Pork Sausage over Slow-Cooked White Bean Stew
For dessert, Benoit had us sample the beignets and the chocolate torte. While the beignets were a bit on the heavy side for me (I'm afraid nothing will ever compare to the ones I tried at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans), the chocolate torte was out of this world.

Chocolate Torte
Overall, the food at Sue Perette is simple and allows the stellar ingredients to stand out without too much fanfare. If you need a first, second or twentieth date spot, I'd highly recommend it for some quiet and romantic conversation. If it's a light bit and some liquid comfort you are looking for, check out their $20 special for 2 glasses of wine and an appetizer all night every day. Their brunch menu looks amazing as well. Now if only the Brooklyn subways would work for me before my Sunday morning hunger pains kick in...

Sue Perette on Urbanspoon