Everyone Needs A Little Black Bag

Normally my posts are about happenings in NYC, events and such. However, I recently found a new website that is seeking to take shopping to the next level and bring back the nostalgic feeling of a grab bag. I have yet to meet a New York City girl who doesn't love her accessories, so I thought I'd share my new find with all of my awesome readers.

With Little Black Bag, you set up an account, take a style quiz, then browse their inventory of handbags, jewelry, make-up, home goods and accessories (all priced between $10-$120), and pick one item you'd definitely like to have. At this point you pay $49.95 (you can get 10% off if you like them on Facebook). After that, 2-3 additional items will be added to your bag making your grand retail value at least $100. Better yet, if you invite friends and they buy bags, your total retail value will increase by $25 per friend.

The interface

This is where the fun begins. Once you have a bag, you will have 7 days to trade items with the rest of the Little Black Bag community. You can trade multiple items, handbags for jewelry, make-up for home goods, maybe you just want to try to grab the clutch you have in another color. Anything goes. Whenever you're content with your bag, you can end trading and all of the items in your bag are shipped directly to you.

Here's how I fared on my first experience. I started with 4 items (I got a bonus item by being referred by Klout):

BCBGeneration Mint Green Snake Embossed Mini Crossbody (Retail $78). This was the item I chose.

Betsey Johnson Cat Eye Sunglasses (Retail  $60)

Ben Amun Colored Bangle (Retail $25)

ncLA Nail Wraps (Retail $16)

I'm not a big fan of nail wraps or bangles since my wrists are small, and the sunglasses didn't really do it for me. So I traded in and in addition to the BCBGeneration purse (which I love and definitely was not about to trade although I got many offers) this is what I got:

Michael Marcus Candle (Retail $50)

Steve Madden Metal Aviators (Retail $36)

Aviators are much more my speed and that candle is supposed to burn for 80 hours (you can never underestimate the amazing-ness of a nice candle girls!). My final retail value was $164 -- pretty good considering I only paid about $45! Not only did I get a bunch of great stuff, but I had fun with all the trading and browsing the ever-changing gallery of cool stuff.

Now it's your turn! Sign up for Little Black Bag here and let me know how you like it!


Brooklyn's Best New Coffee

If there's one thing that New York City runs off of, it's coffee. And you can never, never, never, never, never have too many coffee places. Good thing too because a certain chain...ahem, Starbucks...seems to sometimes have a monopoly. However, another Seattle chain is seeking to change the game, opening it's first full-on cafe yesterday in Brooklyn after a super successful (we're talking 3,000+ people) family and friends preview day on Wednesday.

Of course the company at the heart of it all, Seattle's Best, couldn't open just another storefront. They recently went through a menu revamp and came up with some pretty awesome new stuff. I was invited to come check out the new store and was pleasantly surprised. First of all the place is huge. There's plenty of space to relax, plug in your computer to do some work, or catch up with friends. The staff were incredibly friendly and treated me to a Hazelnut Creme Iced Latte ($3.49 for a small). With choices like Birthday Cake Latte and Caramel Pretzel Mocha, I had a pretty tough time making up my mind.

Hazelnut Creme Latte

Then it was onto the pastry case. The new menu was designed with the commuter in mind. Whether you're walking, taking the subway, or driving a car, all of the pastry items should be fairly easy to eat. I opted for the Very Berry Handheld Pie ($2.49) which also comes in caramel apple. I also sampled the cinnamon roll ($2.49), sour cream coffee cake ($2.39), and warm oatmeal raisin cookie ($1.99)

Handheld Pies

Coffee Cake and Cookie

Cinnamon Roll

To celebrate their grand opening the new Seattle's Best cafe will be giving out FREE COFFEE!  Swing by the Brooklyn retail location (253 Livingston Street) from 5:30am – 11pm on Wednesday, June 27, for a free small 12 oz. hot brewed coffee – a perfect perk for New Yorkers!


AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 2 Tickets to Triassic Parq the Musical

Sometimes, you just need to see a dinosaur musical. "A what?" you say. Yes. A dinosaur musical. Fresh off the 2010 FringeNYC festival, where it won for best musical, Triassic Parq the Musical is a raucous new show that combines singing, sex, and Velociraptors in a way your cenozoic mind can't even fathom.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Triassic Parq the Musical follows a group of cloned dinosaurs as they unearth the very foundations of their existence. Topics touched on include morality, faith, science, and even interspecies fornication.

All my readers are in luck! I'm giving away a pair of tickets to Triassic Parq the Musical! There are 4 easy ways to win, and each comment counts as an entry. Be sure to leave your email in each comment so that I can 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 with your favorite dinosaur and why.

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

4) Tweet about this contest "I just entered to win 2 tix to Triassic Parq on Awesome In New York! http://bit.ly/LSvQYH via @yaelleah" and let me know with a link to your tweet.

Winners will be chosen using Random.org on Monday 6/18. You have until Monday 6/18 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

The show is now playing at The Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street). For a $20 discount on tickets through 8/4/12, click here and use code TPREDFF or call 212-352-3101.


A Weekend (And Then Some) of Food Events

It's the time of year NYC's epicureans have been waiting for. The sun is out on a semi-consistent basis, event permits obtained, all that's left for some of the summer's best food events are the hungry people! Here's a list of four awesome events coming up in the next week:

Big Apple Block Party

Saturday 6/9-Sunday 6/10, 11am-6pm, Madison Square Park

You'll recall I attended this event last year, and I definitely have plans to at least stroll through and smell the bbq again this year. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm definitely going to partake in some 'cue. Admission is free, but go early because it get's really crowded and the lines all run into each other. Prices depend on what you buy, but I'd highly recommend staying local and trying the Blue Smoke Salt and Pepper ribs.

Sunday 6/10, 12pm-4pm, Museum at Eldridge Street

Celebrate the combined history of Jewish and Chinese cultures in the Lower East Side at this free event sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street. Among the excitement you'll find Chinese opera and acrobatics, klezmer music, Yiddish and Chinese language lessons, mah jongg, scribal arts, food and folk art demos, crafts, synagogue tours, and more! Don't forget to get some egg rolls and egg creams as well!

Monday 6/11, 5pm-9pm, 46th Street between Broadway and 9th Avenue

As a card carrying member of the Times Square Alliance's Crossroads program (thank you former job), I am privy to lots of perks in that exciting yet godforsaken part of town everyone loves to hate. With that said, The Taste of Times Square is a great event. This year they will feature $2-$6 bites from the likes of Bourbon Street Bar & Grille, Carmine's Italian Restaurant, Junior's Restaurant, Meson Sevilla, and Toloache. Buy your taste tickets in advance or get them day of, but make sure to show your Crossroads card if you have one for 2 extra tickets with every 10 you buy.

Wednesday 6/13, 7pm-9pm, powerHouse Arena

People's Pops popped up on the NYC food scene a few years when they opened a shop in Chelsea Market  and sold their pops at city greenmarkets. All concoctions they create are made from locally sourced ingredients, and let me tell you, they are delicious. So delicious in fact, that they wrote a cookbook! Join the authors at this free event as they discuss their journey from homemade experiment to ice treat empire. Boozy pops will be served.

Kalí óreksi!

About 2 years ago, I was supposed to take a trip to Greece. Unfortunately because of personal reasons and the economic situation there, the trip had to be canceled, but there's something about Greek culture, especially food, that continues to call to me. So when Faros, a Greek restaurant in Park Slope, invited me for a tasting, I obviously said yes.

As a blogger, I go to a lot of tastings and they are usually all pretty good. The waiters are polite, the wine is delicious and the food never seems to stop coming. But at Faros, the ante was upped. We were greeted by one of the most friendly waitresses I've ever encountered (and not in a creepy way but in a "welcome to my grandma's house, make yourself comfortable" kind of way).

We were seated right in the front of the rather large restaurant (it has 2 stories!), which was nice because we could people watch out the window. The host/manager brought us a nice bottle of 2006 Greek wine from the Moraitis Winery in Paros, and it perfectly complemented just about everything we ordered. Also, to whet our appetite, they brought us delicious fresh bread with olives and a fava bean puree.

Then it was on to the real appetizers. Let me just say that Faros will not short you on food. We ordered two appetizers to get a feel for the menu, but I would definitely not recommend ordering more than one for your party of two. The cold appetizer we ordered was Taramosalata ($5), fish roe mousse with lemon and onions. It reminded me a lot of lox spread but it was served with delicious pita. The hot appetizer we got was Saganaki ($8), which they claim is classic baked Kefalograriera cheese, but who are they kidding? It's pan fried and comes to the table with flames as high as the waiter. A pretty amazing sight to see, but to be honest, I only could eat a few bites of this. It's a giant platter of fried cheese, and while it was delicious and gluttonous, more than a few bites would have done me in.


Next it was time for the mains. Because I can't resist a good branzino, we ordered the fish special for the night ($20-$25) served whole with garlic, lemon, and capers. There's something about good olive oil that makes all the difference. We also went with a classic Greek comfort food, Spitikos Mousakas ($15), layered with potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, ground sirloin and luscious béchamel sauce. If you want to go for a traditional, amazing, yet very filling dish, this is it my friend.


Spitikos Mousakas
At this point, we were stuffed to the brink. However, in the way that only your Greek family would, our waitress insisted that we at least try dessert. And you can't get more Greek than baklava. Sticky and sweet like it should be, this was the perfect way to cap of a perfect meal.

So though I'm still longing to hop on a plane and visit the whitewashed, sea cliff villages where this cuisine originated myself, I'm content hopping on the 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza and getting my fix at Faros.

Faros is offering a special menu just in time for Father's Day! Come in Saturday June 16, 2012 - Sunday June 17, 2012 and celebrate dad with their $50 per person, three-course, prix fixe menu which includes a bottle of wine per 2 adults. Kids are only $10 each! I promise he'll love it!

Faros on Urbanspoon


Smorgasburg on a Boat

What do you get when you mix food from amazing NYC vendors, Brooklyn Brewery beer, a charity event and a boat? A damn good time is what you get!

For the truly unbelievable price of $45, you can find yourself upon the Smorgasboat where you can eat, drink and be ferry (haha, ferry, get it?) until your heart's content. Departing from North Williamsburg East River Ferry Terminal at 6:30 pm on Wednesday June 13, Smorgasboat will donate all proceeds to City Harvest, and you'll get a special sunset stop right in front of the Statue of Liberty! The boat returns at 8:45, but the fun continues until 11pm at King and Grove Williamsburg Rooftop Bar. Click here to buy tickets - I'm sure this event will sell out!

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 2 Tickets to Old Jews Telling Jokes

Everyone loves an old Jew, especially when he tells jokes. Well, at least that's what the producers of the new Off-Broadway show Old Jews Telling Jokes want you to think. But come on, isn't everything funnier coming from your hard-of-hearing grandpa, especially when it's least expected?

The new show was created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent, and showcases five actors in a revue that pays tribute to and reinvents classic jokes of the past and present. You've never heard these jokes this way before. The show also features comic songs—brand-new and satisfyingly old—as well as tributes to some of the giants of the comedy world and to the Old Jews Telling Jokes website, which inspired the show. Basically, you'll laugh 'til you plotz.

All my readers are in luck! I'm giving away a pair of tickets to Old Jews Telling Jokes! There are 4 easy ways to win, and each comment counts as an entry. Be sure to leave your email in each comment so that I can 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 with your favorite joke ever.

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

4) Tweet about this contest "I just entered to win 2 tix to Old Jews Telling Jokes on Awesome In New York! http://bit.ly/L4F2F5" and let me know with a link to your tweet.

Winners will be chosen using Random.org on Wednesday 6/6. You have until Wednesday 6/6 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

A winner has been chosen! Congratulations Elizabeth! You've won 2 tickets to Old Jews Telling Jokes! Thanks to everyone who entered and stay awesome!

The show is now playing at The Westside Theater (407 W. 43rd Street).