Governor’s Island

IMG_7851

New Yorkers: you only have until the end of the month to head out to Governor’s Island and find out what the hype is all about.

Governor’s Island, located 8 minutes by ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, has been going through major transformation. The island, which in the past has been everything from a wartime fortress (successful in warding off British attack in 1812), a coast guard headquarter station, and a prison, is now a destination for fun and relaxation.

With some 30 acres of parks, bike paths and even a hammock grove (seriously the best things ever!), the island is a popular weekend destination. When I went for the first time last weekend I was blown away by the amount of activities available. When first walking off the ferry, many people flocked to the beach inspired bar area where there is apparently an outdoor concert area. Events and concerts are scheduled here throughout the summer and last weekend was no exception as I overheard a Sublime cover band while in line for my ferry back to Manhattan.

IMG_4609

Bikes seem to be the preferred mode of transportation on the island. Many visitors rented tandems and surrey cycles directly off the island while others brought their bikes on the ferry with them from Manhattan and Brooklyn (no extra charge from the $2 round trip fare). The island is larger than I expected so a bike will definitely be included on my future excursions.

IMG_7832

A short walk from the ferry will put you directly in front of a castle. Castle Williams to be exact. This fortress was where I spent my time…I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. I signed up for a free tour (available every hour) which takes you through the four levels and up onto the roof for an awesome view (the first picture in this post is from the roof).

Castle Williams was built in the 1800s to protect Manhattan from invasions by the British. The invasion never happened, and maybe it was due to the threat posed by this sandstone structure which had 13 casements that could each hold 26 cannons. That’s pretty intense and not something I would want to sail past as the British (not to mention this was only one fort out of the defense system in place around Manhattan.)

IMG_7848 IMG_7841 IMG_7837 IMG_7835

After this cultural enlightenment, I wandered toward the hammocks and plopped myself down for over an hour of reading and snoozing. Seriously, I need to speak to the person involved in deciding to put hammocks on Governor’s Island. It is pure genius.

If you’re in the New York area between May and September, I suggest packing a picnic (or some cash for the food trucks) and buy a ferry ticket for an afternoon on Governor’s Island.

IMG_4611

 

Advertisements

Smorgas Saturday

IMG_4502

This summer New Yorkers from all boroughs have been flocking to Brooklyn on the weekends for a food lovers heaven. Smorgasburg is a food flea market offering some of the most innovative and delicious treats. From flavored horseradish (‘Dish) and truffle honey samples to jumbo ice-cream sandwiches and ramen burgers; this place has a little bit of everything.

IMG_4500 IMG_4499 IMG_4496
The gates open at 11am and my recommendation is to arrive as early as humanly possible. We arrived at noon and were able to make a loop of the area with ample space to meander between vendors and no lines to wait in. By our second loop (about 12:45pm) the space was already getting tight and not even my hunger could justify the length of the lines at some of the top spots.
After committing to a few items (ice-cream, fancy lemonade, tacos and pizza), we took ourselves to the lawn and relaxed in front of the city view.

IMG_4506

When we had enough of the warm sun, we jumped in a cab and went down to DUMBO (the area where Smorgasburg is held on Sundays FYI) for a quick afternoon cocktail at Atrium.

A top-notch Saturday afternoon if I do say so myself.

IMG_7311

 

 

 

 

Little trivia for you: DUMBO means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass. Did you know that?

Summer Concert Series (Fête de la Musique)

IMG_6582

Fête de la musique was something I never knew existed before living in France. People made a big deal of the annual first day of summer music celebration in Dijon. There were concerts set up around the city and promotion weeks in advance. Because of this I assumed it was a French thing, but in fact it is celebrated worldwide.

This past year I celebrated in a French spirit.  As part of Central Park’s SummerStage festival, the French Embassy sponsored two popular French singers to perform for a packed crowd of Francophiles and native Frenchmen alike.

The afternoon began with Émilie Simon and ended with the eccentric M. I honestly had never heard either of them, but was able to convince my equally as French obsessed sister to join me on this musical journey.

IMG_6562

IMG_6563

 

IMG_6573

Walking up to the grounds and hearing all of the French-speaking was enough to make me pleased with our decision to attend. Of course the music was good too, if VERY French in style (if you are American and have lived in France or have listened to French pop I think you get what I’m saying). All in all, I loved every minute.M wears extreme costumes, sings with an alluring falsetto and knows how to rock it out on guitar all night long. Apparently the band was cut from the sound system at some point in the night but he continued to play with an enthusiastic crowd singing along (we left before this but my French colleague was there and reported back).

It was so fun to do something a bit different and support music!

Summer Concert Series (Celebrate Brooklyn!)

IMG_6495

Back in mid June the roomie and I went on another outdoor concert adventure, this time to Brooklyn. The concert was one of some 30 performances in Prospect Park throughout the summer, most of which are free. Starting in the late 70’s, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of the longest New York City free outdoor performing arts festivals.

On the docket for us was The National, a band I had never seen live before. It was pretty special to see them in Brooklyn since they live in that area surrounding the park.

IMG_6519

 

Unfortunately, this was a weekday concert and I was pretty exhausted from a long day at work in the humid weather. We soldiered on, however and it was totally worth it. With only two of us it was easy to wiggle our way through the crowd and into a nice spot up close. As the sun set strings of lights dimly lit the concert area creating a perfect New York summer scene.

IMG_6488 IMG_6487 IMG_6501

 

Summer Concert Series (Governors Ball)

This summer I’ve been taking advantage of concerts in the city. New York offers many free outdoor concerts through multiple organizations.

Summer also makes way for festival season. Speaking of which I went to Governor’s Ball for the first time. This three-day concert takes place on Randall’s Island in the beginning of summer. My friend and I decided on picking one day out of the three (too old to hang like that for three days straight).

IMG_6204

It was such a fun day. Beautiful weather, a nice setup of stages, awesome music (Jack White, The Strokes, Naked & Famous, Broken Bells to name a few) and great company. I was actually most surprised by how zen the very diverse crowd of drunk people were. Guess that’s festival music lovers for ya 🙂

IMG_6226 IMG_6210

My friend was dog-sitting over in Astoria for the weekend so we conveniently were able to walk over the bridge onto the island, which was a fun adventure (except on the way home after a long day  of fun in the sun….ugh).

IMG_6197 IMG_6253

 

Recovery the next day was delicious. I think I like Astoria 🙂

IMG_6255

Sweet and Swedish Saturday

I have an intense sweet tooth. It was triggered during my time in France. I mean seriously, who can resist the tartes and cakes at every corner patisserie?

I am more of a chocolate and ice cream person, however, recently I ate some amazing gummies from Sweden. Sockerbit was first introduced to me when my roommate brought home a white bag of treats. I tried them out and was impressed. Then the other weekend, on a lazy weekend stroll while waiting for brunch at Buvette (more on that later), I stumbled across the stark white candy store in the West Village.

IMG_3985IMG_3987 IMG_3988

The smågodis at Sockerbit are all GMO free, trans fat free and colored from nature. But all of that aside, they are delicious and fun. My bag was quickly filled with shapes, colors and flavors. My favorite so far has been the salted licorice candy. Yes, salt on my gummy. It sounds freakish, but seriously, these Scandinavians are on to something here.

IMG_3989 IMG_3991

Stop by the store and try it yourself:

89 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014

THE Deli of New York

Last weekend I had my first experience at the famous Katz’s Deli. It was a spur of the moment decision at 3am, so aside from the noteworthy reviews the food warrants, you can imagine how satisfying it was for us at that particular moment.

I am a bit embarrassed that it took me two years of living here to actually order from Katz’s. Granted I tried (once) last March. It was my birthday and I planned a lunch at Katz’s but when we arrived the line encircling the building was less than inviting and we bailed with growling stomachs.

So last weekend, after a night of late night (early morning?) concerts, we were excited to see the neon red sign glowing, indicating that this place was open 24/7. Score!  *I think it should be noted that at this hour of the day some 100 people were also eating here.

Upon entering the deli, you receive a ticket. Once the order is taken at the counter, the ticket is marked and you pay on the way out. No exit without a ticket. So even if you are not eating, you must return your ticket if you want to leave (which is what the guy in front of us realized in his drunken stupor). But honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that being stuck inside Katz’s wouldn’t be the end of the world for anyone. This place knows what they’re doing. From pastrami and corned beef to half-sour pickles and matzoh ball soup; I don’t think you can go wrong unless you’re a vegetarian I guess…

photo

On this outing my friend and I went for the half sandwich and soup deal. For me was the reuben plus matzoh ball soup and my friend the pastrami and split pea. Word to the wise: always eat with friends. It increases your probability of eating more than what you paid for 🙂

For those who are not familiar with Katz’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, let me shed some light on their history. Katz’s is a “kosher style” deli that opened its doors 125 years ago. They are known for their hotdogs and pastrami sandwiches, but literally any sandwich you choose will knock your socks off. The freshly sliced high-quality meat will be piled high between soft slices of bread that just barely contain the amount of deliciousness inside. Katz’s developed a strong community during the early 20th century when many immigrants packed into the surrounding area.  They have maintained tradition and quality throughout three depressions, numerous recessions, the construction of the Subway and two World Wars. They truly are THE BEST DELI in NYC. I think you should give it a try.

Central Park Wheels

This weekend my sister came up to New York City for a visit. We both have done so many of the tourist attractions throughout the years and decided that it was time to do something new and different.

My first idea was a horse and carriage ride. The week before she visited, Central Park was extra inviting with the snow covered trees, icy ponds and freezing temperatures. I was dreaming up hot chocolate and blankets. However this particular weekend greeted us with a winter heat-wave of sorts and the carriage ride seemed less attractive as we saw the melting snow mixed with horse poo.

We settled on a less conventional route: a bike ride. I am talking about a tandem bike ride to be exact. It was down-right hilarious. I literally couldn’t stop laughing during the first few minutes (and each time after we took pit-stops and worked to get back on the bike, moving in unison.)  It was a rocky start, especially because the breaks were less than effective and we didn’t even have a bell….but once we got the hang of it (and once I learned that slacking off with pedaling in the back messes up the pilot up front) we were pros.

I would recommend it as the best way to see the park in its entirety while also being able to chat with your copilot. What a great memory on a beautiful day.

IMG_3183 IMG_3185 IMG_3187 IMG_3190 IMG_3193 IMG_3194 IMG_3196 IMG_3197

Shelter Pizza in BK

A couple months ago I had a work event in Brooklyn. We chose a brand new space for the event, and by brand new I  mean not yet opened for business. In fact, a mere hour after our company’s brunch, the bar was to officially begin making their pizza and empanadas menus for the public.  Quite an ambitious undertaking but it was in fact pulled off.

The space in which this bar/pizza joint is housed is absolutely beautiful. Sliding barn doors open to a massive area where original wooden beams run along the ceiling and a lodge-like atmosphere is effortlessly achieved by way of rustic moose heads, stump chairs and fireplaces. Despite the cozy winter decor, it felt open and airy on that warm and sunny afternoon of the event.

IMG_2317 IMG_2318 IMG_2331

Last week as the temperatures began to drop significantly, I was excited to return to this Brooklyn bar for yet another industry event. This time the focus was whiskey and with the massive barn doors shutting out the cold air, we all cozied up and I imagined being at a ski lodge with delicious pizzas.

Check out Shelter in Williamsburg, BK if you are in the area. Winter or summer, this place has a lot to offer (food, cocktails and of course ambiance).

 

 

Caffe Reggio

I didn’t waste any time getting myself back to Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village. My sister visited NYC this past weekend and I was so excited to take her there. It has been super hot outside, so we opted for the non-tradtional iced espresso drinks rather than the famous cappuccinos.

I made sure to snap some photos this time, so I wanted to share them here with you all. Cheers!

IMG_1762 IMG_1764 IMG_1765