Showing posts with label photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photos. Show all posts


Dinner and Boat Ride

After 7 years in NYC (it's official today!), I have finally popped my Staten Island cherry--and now have officially visited all 5 of New York City's boroughs. I'm a little ashamed that it took me this long, but I digress.

The Staten Island Ferry Building
The Staten Island Ferry Building

The catalyst behind this visit was, of course, food. The free ferry ride across the bay didn't hurt either.

Boarding the Staten Island Ferry
Boarding the ferry
Pulling away from Manhattan
Pulling away from Manhattan
I waved to Miss Liberty (along with throngs of tourists angling to get a picture)
I waved to Miss Liberty (along with throngs of tourists angling to get a picture)
Ok, so back to the food. I was invited, along with Dave from Barton's Bites to visit the River Dock Cafe located inside the ferry terminal building with a terrace overlooking the bay and downtown Manhattan.

Afshin, one of the restaurant's owners--it's a family business--met our group and gave us the history of how his father came to the US from India years ago and built up a food empire from nothing. They now own 47 restaurant concepts in the tri-state area, including most of the vendors in Penn Station. It was definitely an impressive rags-to-riches story and made me respect their ambition a ton.

We started with drinks, which were much needed given the fact that the sun was shining right in many of our faces and we were all sweating glistening. I would definitely recommend any of the frozen drinks, but I found myself craving more and more of the lemonade. I know it's simple, and there's not even alcohol (though you can ask them to add some vodka if you're feeling that), but it's delicious and refreshing and just screams summer.

As for appetizers, we were bombarded (in the best way possible) with a Thanksgiving table full of food. Favorites included the fried shrimp and calamari from the appetizer assortment ($23), the Caprese salad ($11), and the fresh white ahi tuna salad ($15).

Appetizer Assortment
Appetizer Assortment
Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad
Maryland Crabcakes
Maryland Crabcakes
Afshin told us River Dock's specialty is seafood, even though they do fried food very, very well. So for the main course, the friendly waitstaff brought out another tableful of food: Cajun steamed pot ($33), fresh Maine lobster ($27), Thai mussel pot ($22), Seafood Fra Diavolo pasta ($19), marinated grilled shrimp ($29), Alaskan pan seared salmon ($22), BBQ baby back ribs ($23), and the grilled free range chicken breast ($19). PHEW!

That's a ton of food!
That's a ton of food!

I tell ya, you can take the girl out of Boston (where I went to school), but you can't take the Boston out of the girl. I was super into the shellfish, and was the only one of us adventurous enough to crack into the lobster claws sans plastic bib. It was worth it. Nothing says summer like making a mess eating lobster. The Cajun steamed pot was also a ton of fun, with the crab legs easier to open than the lobster and the peel-and-eat shrimp ready for your dextrous digits to tear into them.

Cajun Steamed Pot
Cajun Steamed Pot
Thai Mussel Pot
Thai Mussel Pot
Fresh Maine Lobster
Fresh Maine Lobster
BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Chicken
BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Chicken
Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Atlantic Pan Seared Salmon
Atlantic Pan Seared Salmon
Seafood Fra Diavolo Pasta
Seafood Fra Diavolo Pasta
Lastly, we couldn't leave without at least sampling dessert. Each dessert usually comes separately, but Afshin brought out a sampler for us including the red velvet cake, chocolate molten cake, and NY cheesecake (each $8). My favorite was definitely the molten cake because chocolate.

Cake Platter
Cake Platter
One of the best parts of the night was the ride home (again, the Staten Island Ferry is FREE!). We stood at the bow of the boat, digesting as we watched the shimmering lights of the city come closer and closer. I would do it all again just to watch the distant hum of activity turn into the individual buildings and streets that we all know and love. 

River Dock Cafe is the perfect place to take a "staycation" dinner trip, even on a weekend night. Set up shop right after work with a few frozen cocktails and some lemonade, order up some seafood, and watch the sun go down and the Manhattan lights go up. Word has it that a ferris wheel larger than the London Eye will also be rising in the vicinity of the restaurant, so that will only draw more and more traffic to the area. So you might as well check it out now!

Disclosure: River Dock Cafe provided me with a comp meal in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are my own.

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AWESOME RECAP: Broadway Sings P!nk

After seeing Broadway Sings Justin Timberlake back in July (oh how I miss you summer!),  I knew that I couldn't miss Broadway Sings P!nk. So I grabbed a friend and went back down to (Le) Poisson Rouge for a night we knew would be memorable.

I've been a fan of P!nk's music for many years now, but I admit, some of her songs are hit or miss for me. They often come across angry and I think that turns a lot of people off. One thing I really liked about this concert was how the arrangements were often drastically changed in order to suit the singer's voice. In doing that, the lyrics were able to shine and some of them are pretty spectacular.

It was also a fabulous concert in that I dined over 3 fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk ($5) while listening. I'd highly recommend this treat!

Here are some photos from the event:

Lena Hall sings "Sober"
Chelsea Packard and Colin Hanlon sing "Try"
Kate Rockwell
Mike Schwitter
Ciara Renée

And thanks to Broadway sings, here are some videos:

Broadway Sings is hosting a "Best of" concert in March that will include 14 songs from all 7 previous concerts. It's sure to be a fun one! Who even needs pop stars when you've got Broadway?


Pottery Barn Turns Art Gallery

Art gallery shows can always be fun (hello free wine!), but I was intrigued by this particular event because it's hosted not by Gagosian Gallery or David Zwirner, but Pottery Barn!

Join Pottery Barn on 59th and Lexington on Saturday April 26th from 1-3 pm for schmoozing and browsing photography by Nichole Robertson. Sip free wine and take home a pillow or two if you feel so inclined. To RSVP, click here for your free tickets.


Hold that Pose...With an Insta-Magnet

I'll admit it, I'm an Instagram whore. I can't get enough of the brannan and earlybird filters and I take way too many photos of sunsets/sunrises out of my apartment window, amazing meals, and I have an affinity for chandeliers (follow me and you'll see what I mean!). But I also have a lot of meaningful photos in my collection from various travels and I can't help but feel artistic when I browse through them.

It's because of this I was over the moon to find out about Stickygram. Stickygram connects with your Instagram account to let you print magnets or make iPhone/iPad covers using your carefully calibrated images. The photos we post on Instagram all seem to have special meaning by virtue of being posted there so why wouldn't you want to look at them on your fridge?

I just placed my first order of 3 sheets of 9 magnets each--two of friends and family I'll keep at home and one (above) of images I think are beautiful that I want to display on my metal cabinets at the office. Use my referral link (code: FRIENDS36N) and get $2 off your first order of magnets or $5 off your first case.

These would also make great holiday gifts! Stickygram is offering free premium shipping in time for the holidays if you order 3 sheets of magnets by midnight tonight!


Some Summer Creativity

I've always considered myself a fairly creative person, and is it just me or does it seem like we used to get much more encouragement to be creative when we were kids? With all the stress of life as an adult, I've been finding it's actually more beneficial now to get my creative juices flowing than it was when all I really wanted was to gossip with my friends on the playground while sipping Capri Sun.

Thankfully for all my awesome readers, I've taken the liberty of trying out a couple classes in the NYC area and here's what I have to report:

Painting and Wine Class: The Art Studio NY
(Purchased on Groupon for $35 plus $10 for the canvas)

After seeing countless friends spend a fun night trying to copy a painting while sipping wine, I thought this would be a good place to start, especially given the fact that I have never painted anything in my life (with the exception of my dining room walls and some finger painting way back when). My friend Rachel and I shopped our options and settled for a 3-hour class at The Art Studio NY on the Upper West Side. Our instructor, Jacob Premo, was wonderful and encouraging as he led us through step-by-step as to how we should conquer the painting. He was also very flexible--helping other students paint entirely different pictures and even providing neon pink paint and glitter to one student (I was very jealous of her final product). The wine was constantly flowing and between that and the relaxing actions of mixing paints and putting brush to canvas, I was a happy lady by the end of the night. I may not be the next Van Gogh, but now I can say I have an original piece of art hanging in my apartment. The studio offers ongoing art classes for all levels at very reasonable prices, including drawing classes that take place in both the Met and Central Park. For only $39 including all materials, you may very well find me there in the near future.

The original next to my finished work
Me and Rachel with our masterpieces

Adventure Photography: JP Teaches Photo
(Free on Zozi, bring your own camera)

I've owned a Canon Rebel DSLR (fancy camera speak for one of those large cameras that take really good pictures) for about 7 years now, and I'm sad to say that I still don't know completely how to use it. I usually leave it on auto, occasionally venturing to manual when I have something specific in mind. For the most part I've been happy with it, because it takes killer photos even on auto, but with an upcoming trip to Thailand/South Korea (it's okay, you can be jealous), I wanted to up my game. I came across JP Teaches Photo through the deals site Zozi a few weeks back. They were (and are still...GET ON THIS PEOPLE!) running a special where you get a free "adventure" just for signing up, and more free adventures for signing up your friends. I opted for the adventure photo class in Central Park as a way to brush up on my camera skills and have a wonderful evening in the process. Our group of 6 students and 2 instructors met on the west side of the park on a perfect Sunday evening. The impending rain gave way to beautiful sunshine which streaked in sideways as the sun sank toward the horizon. Paul, a professional photographer/lighting designer and self-described "bro," led us through various exercises designed to get us used to motion photography as well as techniques to help us with landscape and wildlife photography. JP, who's specialty is in helping people use their cameras, stood by to answer specific questions like "how can I make the background lighter/darker?" or "where is that button on my [insert pretty much any camera you can think of]?" The most awesome part of the entire class was when Cartman the skateboarding bulldog and his owner passed by just after we talked about stop motion photography. I was so happy I had my camera in hand, ready to go. The two hours flew by too quickly, but I learned so much, and only whet my appetite for learning more. I may or may not have also signed up for the beginner class in August :)

Dark Cave
Lamp Post
Cartman the Bulldog

With all that this city has to offer, who knows what I might try next! Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below and be sure to let us know if you try either of these classes. Happy creativity!


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)


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


It's Not Summer Without Baseball

I recently attended my first Yankee's game and was playing around with the panorama feature on the camera of my new phone. Check it out!

Have any of my awesome readers been to a Yankee's game before? What's your favorite part? I loved my Italian sausage with peppers and onions, although I was eyeing the much-anticipated Meatball Parm sandwich from Torrisi Italian Specialties. However, at $15, I figured I could go straight to the source in Little Italy any time. 


AWESOME ALERT: Star Chef's Rising Stars Gala

Out of all of the events I attend every year, there is one that has stood out as "my most looked forward to." That's a pretty high honor in my book since NYC is the land of fabulous events. I'll give you a little back story. After moving here in August 2008, I did a little soul searching and decided that Craigslist was the way to go for everything - an apartment, extra hangers, side jobs and whatever else I could find that seemed intriguing. I found a listing for volunteers needed at a food event. Sure, I say, and sign myself up figuring I'd meet some new people as well.

So I showed up for my assigned post at the Park Avenue Armory for the International Chef's Congress hosted by an organization called Star Chefs. I learned that it was a conference looked forward to every year by chefs from across the city where they can network, present cooking demos and walk through a gigantic trade show. I spent the afternoon putting together VIP gift bags, and what do you know, but there were extras at the end of the day and I got to take one home. BEST GIFT BAG OF MY LIFE. Honestly, I think this is when I started my infatuation with gift bags to see if any could ever measure up again. Here were some of the contents: Wusthof Chef's Knife (valued around $90), a container of Foie Gras, coupons for free drinks at Nespresso Cafe on Park Ave., a Microplane zester, and many other items that I was thrilled about. But the best was yet to come.

I had also signed up to work the Rising Stars Gala, held on a Tuesday night at the American Museum of Natural History. Basically, I stood in front of the giant front entrance pointing people the way to the VIP reception in the front lobby area for about an hour, and was then told to enjoy the event. (VIP reception = Petrossian caviar and Champagne by the way). If you've ever watched an episode of Top Chef, this event tops any of their tastings on that show. Walking into the enormous whale room of the museum, I was overwhelmed by the table upon table of gourmet tastings - pork belly, filet mignon, foie gras, tuna tartare, seared scallops - each paired with a different wine. Then there were mixology tables and several pastry chefs in attendance with some sweet samples. That was two years ago.

Last year, I again volunteered at the event, held on the top level of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park. And this year, I went a little further out of my way to Liberty State Park for my third Rising Stars Gala. Held at the venue Maritime Parc, the event honored some of the most promising young chefs in the city from some amazing restaurants including Craft, Sorella and Aureole. This gala is a way to showcase their work and sort of debut them to the supportive culinary community and celebrate their successes. The thing about volunteering, is that when you're done helping out, you get to enjoy an event with a $165 ticket price, gratis. Also, I met Tom Colicchio - pretty much the most exciting moment of the night! I'll note some of my favorite dishes below. I gave major props on the eco-friendly dish-ware! I included more pictures than usual in this blog, but words just can't describe the awesomeness of this event. Happy salivating!

I had to take the ferry to Liberty State Park and the view over the water was just too gorgeous.
Ms. Liberty and Ellis Island with a ferry in the foreground.
My requisite "I'm on a Boat" picture
Lower Manhattan from the ferry.
Approaching the New Jersey side
Champagne servers at the VIP reception
Petrossian caviar served at the VIP reception
Me with the program, Champagne in hand
Marina view from the event
Chris Siversen (Maritime Parc)
Brined New Zealand King Salmon, Fennel Kraut, and Mustard-Leek Risotto (Chris Siversen - Maritime Parc)
Rabbit and Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, Candied Rhubarb and Shiso Vinaigrette (Brandon Kida - Asiate)
An amazing drink! The Strawberry Blonde (Brad Farran - The Clover Club)
Pate di Fegato: Chicken Liver Mousse with Candied Bacon and Fried Egg VOTED AUDIENCE FAVORITE (Emma Hearst  Sorella)
Mixologist Jason Littrell from Dram lighting things on fire.
Wagyu Strip Loin, Potato Terrine, Matsutakes, Black Garlic and Bone Marrow (Justin Bogle - Gilt)
Australian Lamb Neck, Pea Shoots, Syrian Aleppo Pepper, Greek Yogurt and Lamb Jus (Bobby Hellen - Resto)
Seared scallop with peas (Marc Forgione - Marc Forgione)
Greg Seider from the Summit Bar making my favorite drink of the night "She Loves Mei, She Loves Mei Not." It had rose petals in it! And pisco!
Definitely in the top 2 - Cauliflower custard, Santa Barbara Uni, Golden Trout Roe, and Squid Ink Emulsion (Jason Hall - Gotham Bar & Grill)
Me with Chef Tom Colicchio from Top Chef!
Thanks to new friends Lily and Jeff for some of those last couple shots after my camera died! Note to self: ALWAYS recharge camera battery before this event, and double check. If only the event wasn't on a school night, I would have totally hit up the after party at the newly-opened and buzzed about Nuela. Oh well. I'll definitely be back next year, volunteering of course. Let me know if you're interested in joining and I might be able to hook you up :)