Tag Archives: New York City

Upper West Side Brunch

I recently had brunch at two very nice spots on the Upper West Side, an area of the city where I usually do not spend much time.

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One is Machiavelli on Columbus & 85th.  A gorgeous restaurant with lush decor, the menu is decidedly Italian, including brunch with dishes like polenta with parmesan and truffle oil, nutella crepes, and lemon and ricotta pancakes.  I had the frittata salsiccia with Italian sausage, goat cheese, spinach and tomato.  It was wonderful.

Another spot is Ella Kitchen & Bar on Columbus & 72nd.  Here, the brunch consists of appetizing Latin & Mediterranean variations of classic dishes like baked eggs with Argentine sausage; eggs Benedict with grass-fed skirt steak and sauteed spinach; or avocado toast with edamame, black sesame seed, scallions, radishes, and hard-boiled egg.  I got the classic baked eggs with heavy cream and parmesan.

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San Gennaro Festival 2016

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New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city.  The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on.  The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming.  That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.

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September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.

Most Precious Blood Church

Most Precious Blood Church

This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi.  A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival.  (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year,  I had my second run-in with the actor.  I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me.  It was Tony.  Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)

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Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card.  Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.

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Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,

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to pizza and cannoli

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to Italian tchotchkes

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to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.

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I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape.  At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.

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For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor

If you want to get a taste of old New York, you have to go to Doyers Street.  It is the cutest little street in Chinatown.  Its curved, narrow shape gives you a good idea of what New York was like back in the day.  It’s also where you can find Nom Wah Tea Parlor.

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The restaurant opened in 1920 with its original location being next door to its current one.  It’s a no-frills place to get dim sum.  On my visit, I got a fried tofu skin roll with mixed vegetables.  This was fried to perfection, crispy and delicious.

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Also got yummy vegetarian dumplings.

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And Shanghai soup dumplings.  They were good but not as good as the gold standard, Joe’s Shanghai.

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Finally, got the rice roll with the fried dough.  This sounded good in theory, but it was a bit too carb-heavy for me.

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15 Things to Do in New York City During Christmas Time

Every season in New York City has its unique flair.  But Christmas is definitely the most exhilarating.  The crisp chill in the air.  The sparkling lights and holiday decor. If you’ve never been, you must visit NYC just once during this time of year.  The things on this list are my favorites–especially the store windows, decor and markets.

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1.  Department store windows–The major department stores have different displays every year and it’s always fun to see.  Check out Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman

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2. Rockefeller Center tree and skating

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Bryant Park skating rink

3.  Bryant Park Christmas market and skating rink

4.  Union Square Christmas market

5.  Columbus Circle Christmas market

6.  Rockettes Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall

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7.  Neapolitan creche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

8.  Holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden

9.  Empire State Building lights–LED light show

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10.  Strolling through Midtown to see the decorations like the Cartier building dressed as a package and the tree at the New York Palace hotel

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11.  Origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History

12. Dinner at the much-decorated Rolf’s German restaurant

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13.  Holiday decorations in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn

Olson Manor

Olson Manor

14.  Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien

15.  Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science

Little Italy on Its Way Out

Today, there was an article in the New York Post on Little Italy’s becoming extinct.  Of course, this saddens me.  The first stop in America for both sides of my family was Mulberry Street.  But this brings up a larger issue for me–the gentrification of New York City.  I do not like it.  The great thing about NYC is that it used to be the place to find everything, but as a friend of mine said, who is a published, well-respected economist from the Greatest Generation, NYC has lost its relevancy.  I don’t think it is lost yet, but I do think it is happening.  As New York becomes a homogenized city of the young and wealthy from around the country, it will lose its character.  NYC is a mecca for many–in acting, theater, music, writing, finance, etc, but it’s also a home to the many people who lived there and whose families have lived there for generations.  And it will lose its essence if it becomes generic.  Of course, this is happening in a lot of cities in the United States–not just NYC–but NYC is known for having a certain character–and its tourism depends on it.  If NYC becomes generic, why would anyone pay the incredible hotel bills to visit?

Pie Face Free Pie Day Today

No, that’s not a frown on the face of this pie from Pie Face.  It’s an “M” for “mince” beef pie, a classic Aussie favorite.
photo used with permission of Pie Face

photo used with permission of Pie Face

And you can get a mini one of your own for free today at any of Pie Face’s six New York City locations.  To get a free mini pie, tag @PieFaceUSA on TwitterInstagram, or post to the Pie Face Facebook page with hashtag #GetPieFaced, show the proof of your post to a Pie Dealer, and you’ll get a mini mince beef pie.

Two for Tuesday: Korean Bakeries

In Koreatown, NYC, there are two Korean bakeries that serve Asian and French-inspired baked goods and desserts.  The first is Paris Baguette, which is also selling out its version of the Cronut.  Paris Baguette is always crowded, and the aisle where the pastries are is a little cramped.  But this place has the best shaved ice, which I wrote about before.

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This is the cup version. I prefer the bowl version just because you can easily get to the all the flavors.

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This picture includes a yummy chestnut bread on the right and a sour cream bread to the bottom left with an interesting sour taste.

Paris Baguette also makes this milk pudding called royal pudding.  I’ve tried plain and berry.
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Both are great, but I love the berry.  And it’s served in this darling glass that you can keep!

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The second bakery is Tous Les Jours.  When you walk in Tous Les Jours, you’re overwhelmed with the cases of baked goods and cakes.  There’s so much to choose from, and they are so lovely.  Check out that red velvet cake on the left below.  How pretty!

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This is the place to get a fancy cake for a special occasion.

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I’ve written about the honeydew ice candy I had.  The mango is good too.

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They also make a good shaved ice.
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I’m addicted to a milk bread that I haven’t taken a picture of. It’s a soft yeast roll with this whipped creamy filling that is fluffy and good.  Yum!

I don’t think you can go wrong at either bakery, but my favorite items so far have been the fruit shaved ice at Paris Baguette and the milk bread and honeydew ice candy at Tous Les Jours.  I know I’ll be back to try more!