12/27/11

Elemental Dining

Williamsburg is fast becoming (or already is) the new awesome place to own a restaurant. To stand out and survive, each has to have something unique to draw people in and keep them happy hungry customers. Would a menu complete with Italian-style pizzas, South American seafood dishes and juicy burritos do the trick? I think so. 


On the border of McCarren Park, away from the hustle and bustle of Bedford Ave., you'll find Cu 29 Copper. Named to bring about thoughts of chemistry and harmony between different cuisines, the restaurant was decorated in warm hues of rust and of course, copper, with the center point being the large brick oven. I was invited by the owners on a nippy Sunday night to sample the menu and get a feel for this hidden gem.

We were seated in the large back room, with a view out to the good size outdoor patio. How I wished the weather was warmer so that we could have sat outside! When we arrived a family was finishing up their meal and a couple was canoodling/eating dinner on a cozy couch. There was a rather large elevated space in the corner and the host told us that they regularly have live music on weeknights. 


We started with the Roasted Garlic Shrimp. Talk about garlic. The sizzling dish packed a punch of flavor. I would watch out for this dish on a first date, but man oh man was it delicious. The shrimp were succulent, and my only complaint would be that I wanted more bread to sop up the remaining sauce. 

Roasted Garlic Shrimp

The next dish was Cu 29 Copper's Signature Pizza. The fluffy, slightly blackened (in a good way) crust was piled high with pepperoni, sweet sausage, peppers, mushrooms, red onions, black olives, hot cherry peppers and mozzarella cheese. With a slight kick, this pizza was super tasty. We came close to finishing it, but then the waiter reminded us we still had one more dish to try.

Cu Signature Pizza

The last dish, and my favorite, was the Seafood Moqueca, a traditional Latin seafood stew with coconut milk, lobster broth, cilantro and toasted pine nuts, served over rice. This dish came with lots of extra bread so as soon as we slurped up the mussels and found all the bits of calamari, we left no broth at all. The yellow rice was amazing as well after it had been sitting in the stew for so long.

Seafood Moqueca
Taking a look at the rest of the menu, I'm intrigued by the other pizzas (Italian Stallion anyone?), the tacos (especially the shrimp tacos with chipotle mole and the tuna tacos with sliced mandarin pico de gallo) and the banana nutella crepes (can't resist!). Drinks are reasonably priced with beers for $5 and signature cocktails ranging from $8-$10. They have a great lunch menu as well with specials around $8, and almost all the online reviews I've read about this place rave about its brunch.

Cu 29 Copper is located at 232 N. 12th Street (between Driggs Ave and Roebling Street).

Cu 29 Copper on Urbanspoon

12/16/11

Free Groceries!

Whenever I leave NY, I love visiting those super huge "super"markets. I oogle at all of the varieties of everything, the spacious aisles and the rows and rows of convenient items - brands I've never heard of before! Alas, I come back home and can get a similar, albeit crowded and expensive, experience at Whole Foods, but in my neighborhood, I've settled for Morton Williams as my grocery store of choice.


Their selection is pretty good, they offer a fairly wide selection of produce, and the people at the check out line at least say hello to me in a pleasant matter (and that's saying a lot compared to the likes of some Gristedes I've shopped in). So when I opened my email this morning to find an offer for a $30 voucher to Morton Williams for only $15, I jumped on it. The best part, you can buy 2 per person! But hurry, there were only 600 or so vouchers left when I last checked and I'm sure those puppies are going to sell out soon.

12/13/11

Behind the Scenes at Bonnie & Clyde

There’s not much I love more about New York than Broadway. Hence, when Theater Advisor asked me to be a guest blogger, see the new show Bonnie & Clyde and recap a post-show Q&A event with some of the cast and creative team, I jumped at the chance.

The tale of Bonnie and Clyde is one of those legendary American stories that everyone knows at least a little bit about. However, only knowing the fragment about love and crime (I didn’t even know exactly what happened to them in the end, but I won’t spoil it here!), I decided to watch the classic 1967 movie with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the night before. With that in my head before the actual show I figured I’d be able to focus more on the creative characteristics of the show itself and not merely the plot. 


I thoroughly enjoyed the show itself. The acting was wonderful and I found the songs catchy, unlike some die-hard critics out there. The simple, yet flawlessly transformable set could have easily stolen the show, but instead it functioned as an additional character with the sole purpose of connecting everything that was happening on stage. Overall, I was able to completely give myself over to the story and be swept away by the magic of Broadway.

After the performance, the show held a digital media Q&A at Hurley’s Saloon. Director Jeff Calhoun, scenic/costume designer Tobin Ost and cast members Claybourne Elder (Butch Barrow) and Melissa van der Schyff (Blanche Barrow) were in attendance and took turns answering questions related to the show, its relationship to the movie and how the real characters in the story might have reacted to the musical today.

After several questions regarding the iconic film, Calhoun commented that he did not set out to make a musical based on a movie, but rather, wanted to create a show based on a real American story – not an easy feat in the world of never-ending movie-to-Broadway musicals.

“New musicals are hard to come by,” he said. “I’m an independent contractor. I don’t write. So I’m at the mercy of finding material that speaks to me. I spent the last five years developing this show because I love it and I’m proud of it.”

Taking a unique approach to a musical and not including any large production dance numbers, Calhoun said he thinks of Bonnie & Clyde as “a play with music.”

Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes as Bonnie and Clyde  (Photo by: Nathan Johnson)

Because Broadway has seen its fair share of wackadoodle musicals (I won’t name names), the creators of this show took a risk in putting on a production essentially about criminals. I’ve heard plenty of chit chat about the implausibility of creating a musical, which is usually lighthearted, about murder and poverty. However, every musical I’ve seen seems to have some sort of take home message. For Bonnie & Clyde, the love story was pronounced and the criminals got what they deserved, but the show really emphasized the economic climate in America during that time in our history and the injustices committed on both sides of the gun, so to say. 

“Poverty made Clyde a criminal. Jail made him a murderer. Only in America at that time in our history, could two such animals have been created,” Calhoun said, adding that the show was created to be the most truthful telling of the actual events as possible, while the film was “very ‘Hollywood’ and loose with the facts.”

Van der Schyff added to that saying, “I think it’s interesting how one wrong choice can steer your life in the wrong direction.” She followed that up by noting that the choice Blanche made to follow Butch into a life of crime may have been well-intentioned (in her mind she was standing by her man), but ultimately ended up, let’s just say, poorly. 

Melissa van der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Louis Hobson and Jeremy Jordan (Photo by: Nathan Johnson)
Taking inspiration from all of the “dilapidated barns” near his home in rural Pennsylvania, Ost said the “total organic process” of creating the set enabled him to fabricate something that would flow seamlessly with the fast-paced script. In addition, the set was filled with symbolism, right down to the topography which Calhoun said was “as perilous as the times that [Bonnie and Clyde] were living in.”

In terms of how the real Bonnie and Clyde would react to the fanfare of a Broadway musical about them, Calhoun said, “I think they’d be thrilled that there was a movie, and they’d be thrilled that there was a play. They were egomaniacal and they really did both want to be famous in their own right.”

Both van der Schyff and Elder said they go into every performance not only thinking about the personalities of the real Buck and Blanche, but also about their collective spiritual presence. “We like to set an intention before each show that if [the character’s] spirits are with us that they would hopefully be happy that we’re telling their story with the intention of maybe someone is going to make a different choice in their life tonight,” van der Schyff said.

“That’s all you could ever hope for, that someone would be changed by what you do,” Elder added. “This show is a really amazing opportunity to do that because of the story.”

Summing up, Calhoun said he went into this show with the objective to create something truly original. “I try to do shows for better or for worse that don’t look like other shows,” he said. “At least if I stole, it was by mistake. I think we have our own integrity, our own DNA. It’s actually adult storytelling and I like that. I’m proud of that. The audiences that like it appreciate it on that level and I’m really grateful for that.”

To save up to 30%  on tickets for Bonnie & Clyde through December 30, 2011, visit Broadway Box, call 212-947-8844 or visit the box office at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater at 236 W. 45th Street and use code BCBBX909.

Nothing Like A Good Holiday Party

Looking for something to fill your schedule this week and still need to wrap up your holiday gift buying? Head over to Gap 5th Avenue (at 54th Street) for cocktails, live music and outrageous discounts tomorrow from 6-8 pm where you'll also get to mingle with Gap and Fabsugar editors Chi Chau and Hannah Weil.


Before you pencil this into your planner, make sure you RSVP to nyc.rsvp@sugarinc.com.

12/8/11

Mick Rocked the W

Wednesday nights for me are typically fairly quiet. A zumba class, maybe a new episode of Modern Family, occasionally the raucous happy hour that ends by oh 9 pm. However, after winning tickets to a VIP preview event of the new Mick Rock photo exhibition at the W Downtown and a night at the hotel, I knew this was going to be a different sort of Wednesday night. 

All dolled up and ready to party, my boyfriend and I arrived at the W in the pouring rain last night to find a heated tent set up behind the hotel and a line of people waiting in the cold. After we checked in to our room on the 15th floor with an awesome view of the 9/11 Memorial (still haven't been down there to see it!), we were able to skip the line (I was not waiting in the cold with no jacket!), grab our wristbands and head up to the Living Room Lounge on the 5th floor. We got drinks (open bar, of course) and tried to weave through the crowd to view the photos of rock 'n roll legends. I loved one of Madonna from 1980 and a more recent image of Bono and Lady Gaga.

View from our room
Living Room Lounge W Downtown
Madonna 1980
Bono and Lady Gaga
We spotted Stephen Baldwin in the crowd as we headed downstairs to the tent and although I'm sad we didn't see them, I read that Betsy Johnson, Chace Crawford, Penn Badgely were all in attendance.

Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford (photo courtesy of Chace Crawford's Facebook page)
Mick Rock (photo courtesy of Metromix)

The musical guests for the event included the band Phantogram and DJ Mark Ronson. Although I'd never heard of Phantogram, everyone seemed pretty pumped when they started playing. Ronson's mixes were a lot of fun. I always like hearing music I already know in a whole new way.

Phantogram
Phantogram (photo courtesy of Metromix)
DJ Mark Ronson
For a Wednesday night, I got a taste of the rockstar life and it was exciting. Heck, it was probably more exciting than my last several Friday nights. For a Thursday morning, waking up in a plush W Hotel bed and taking a shower in which the water can be turned into a head massager was definitely a (necessary) treat. Before checking out of the hotel and checking back into my normal Thursday life, I snapped one daylight photo of the 9/11 Memorial. Then it was onto the 4/5 and back to reality. Until next time...


For more photos of the event, visit Guest of a Guest and Metromix.

An Impromptu Aerial Tour

Longtime readers may remember my affinity with taking overhead photos of NYC both from a helicopter and an airplane. I generally am pretty good at following all the rules pertaining to flying -- my 3 oz. liquids are always in a plastic bag, my seat back and tray table up is always for take off and landing and I always turn off my cell phone when asked. However, when the aircraft I'm traveling on takes an unusual route in and out of New York, I can't help but whip out my camera and snap away. 

On my return trip from Thanksgiving, I was deep into the New York Magazine crossword when I looked out my window and saw two bridges that I couldn't determine the location of. Once I got it in my head which was was north, I discovered that those were the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and Manhattan island directly below. I don't know about any of you, but I have NEVER approached LGA or JFK from that direction. In fact, I thought Manhattan was a no fly zone. As soon as I realized what a privilege this was, I hastily shut off my overhead light and rifled around my purse for my camera just in time to view Times Square RIGHT below my window. How cool! However, all I got was this blur of a picture...

Blurry Times Square

Still pretty awesome. As we continued north up the Hudson River and turned east just above Westchester, I got some better shots. Enjoy!

Midtown and Central Park looking southeast

Central Park and Upper East Side looking east

Westchester, the Bronx and Manhattan looking south (you can see the bright lights of in Manhattan in the upper left corner)

12/7/11

Upcycled, Local and Stylish? Oh my!

Don't you ever wish you could find a way to shop locally, ethically and environmentally-minded while looking fashionable all at the same time? One component always seems to be missing from the equation. Enter Vaya Bags. Made of "upcycled" materials (including scrap sailboat awnings, bicycle tubes and vinyl banners)  in Ridgewood, Queens, these bags are hearty, colorful and fairly stylish. Some versions are made with reflective tape to specially cater to the increasing population of cyclists in the five boroughs.


If you like these bags or know of someone who would like one as a holiday gift, they are on sale up to 20% off today through Friday on one of my favorite online shopping and design sites Fab.com. You can check out the complete selection of messenger bags, bicycle tube purses and wallets and find something unique for someone on your gift list (or yourself, we won't judge). I'm a big fan of the Vinyl Blue Wallet.

If you aren't familiar with Fab.com, I'd suggest you sign up for their daily emails. They have some of the most unique design related items for sale every day and a handy 100 design gifts under $100 curated shop going on now just in time for the holidays. Check it out!

12/6/11

AWESOME ALERT: Free Insomnia Cookies on the Upper East Side

Out to prove that cupcakes and macarons aren't the only kings of the dessert world, Insomnia Cookies is doing a mighty fine job of balancing out the top of the NYC sweets pyramid with their ooey gooey cookies. Even better, they deliver into the wee hours of the night, proving that it's never not time for a Snickerdoodle or White Chocolate Macadamia Nut (my favorite! hint hint!).



No newcomer to the sugar scene, the cookie chain launched at UPenn in 2003 is opening their 4th NYC store on the Upper East Side (1579 2nd Ave at 82nd Street) and celebrating with a Grand Opening December 14-18. The best part....they want all Awesome in New York readers to have a free cookie on the house! Just print out the coupon below, bring it into the new store and pick your favorite flavor! It's that easy! And feel free to tell all your friends and family as well -- you wouldn't want to be responsible for hoarding a secret about free sweets around the holidays would you?


Check out Insomnia Cookies on Twitter and Facebook for future cookie news.

12/5/11

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 2 Tickets to Follies (again!)

One of my favorite shows of the season was the revival of Follies, yet sadly it must close January 22! If you haven't seen the show, you don't want to miss what Ben Brantley of The New York Times called a "white-hot, vibrant, and moving" show. Bernadette Peters is fabulous and I can't get enough of Jan Maxwell, each as former Follies girls reunited for the closing of the theater in which they once performed. Danny Burstein and Rob Raines make up the rest of the quad-fecta as love interests  and strong individual characters with their own stories to tell. There are limited opportunities to see this show before it closes so make sure you get tickets!




All of my awesome readers are in luck again! I'm giving away a pair of tickets to see Follies on Broadway! Tickets are good through the run of the show and there are 5 easy ways to win. Keep in mind that 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 - Refer a friend to this contest. You must leave a separate comment letting me know who you referred and the friend must leave a comment letting me know who referred them for both entries to count.
  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 Friday 12/9 at 4 pm EST to enter this contest. Winners will be announced soon after. Best of luck!






A winner has been chosen! Congratulations to Mary Ann! You have won a pair of tickets to see Follies on Broadway. I hope you have a great time and be sure to come back and tell us how you liked the show!