Monday, May 07, 2007

It is so delicious to be outside, and despite the damaging effects of the sun at noon, perhaps you want nothing more than to lunch al fresco. Better yet, wait until the end of the day, and enjoy an evening plein d’or in New York.

A short list we’ll be adding to of both conveniently located outdoor spots and destination spots for enjoying this gorgeous spring weather.

Bryant Park has several options for dining outdoors at the moment, all with complimentary Wi-fi. (Thank you Bryant Park :-)

Bryant Park Grill: the food is ok but the atmosphere – lively, open and green is great. If you’ve got children in tow, don’t miss the beautiful little carousel at the southwest corner of the park.

‘wichcraft: delicious to go options of soup, salad or sandwich from Tom Colicchio combined with tables and umbrellas supplied by Bryant Park or the green lawn for reclining (no shade).

Central Park:
The Loeb Boathouse offers a lovely setting with fine food, great for a drink and a gondola ride or a paddle about.

Leaping Frog Cafe at the Central Park Zoo is delightfully clean, healthful and affordable (in comparison with a little snack at any nearby eatery). Indoor and outdoor tables shaded with thick wisteria vines, lovely ambience for your peanut butter and jelly on wheat toast with a side of goldfish and an unrecognizable fruit concoction in a plastic zoo animal you will not able to get away without.

Madison Square Park
Shake Shack is now open 11 am to 11 pm for all kinds of burgers (ham, cheese and Portobello mushroom), shakes and fries. Located in Madison Square Park, where you can also see a great sculpture installation of Roxy Paine’s. Thank you Madison Square Park for free Wi-fi :-)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Reading oodles of guidebooks to New York and keeping up with the city through many publications: dailies, monthlies and blogs to present the best of what’s available in town on, I was delighted to find the city most wonderfully captured in Miroslav Sasek’s book, This is New York, published in 1960. Happily, the wonderfully colorful things about New York that impressed Sasek then are still here to impress visitors today.

This is New York, Miroslav Sasek, c 1960

This is New York was a gift for my little one on her 4th birthday. Reading this together reminded me that one’s impressions are often filtered through childhood perceptions. So if you are coming in and out of New York with your children, and hoping to give them a wonderful framework through which to view the city – I recommend starting with This is New York.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, Maira Kalman, c 2002

In this genre, you will also want to read Maira Kalman’s book, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. The Harvey is a fireboat that came to the rescue on September 11, 2001, by helping put out the fires at the World Trade Center. I couldn’t imagine a way to put the tragedy of 9/11 into a children’s book but Kalman does it. I can’t read the book without crying at the end – because the Harvey embodies the hero in all of us. And though children reading this book now would not have been born on September 11, 2001, this is a wonderful book to compliment a conversation about the tragedy that is as much a part of New York City’s present and future, as her history.

Olivia, Ian Falconer, c 2000

Olivia is a gem. Her love of wardrobe changes, opera, and painting walls is reminiscent of my older daughter’s younger days, and my little one’s present. Olivia lives in NY and vacations in the Hamptons. She is a sophisticated girl and offers a peek at how New York City preschoolers live.

Eloise, Hilary Knight, c1955

Eloise is the most reknown New York City child in literature. She is a heroine for her ability to make lemonade from a dismal situation. She lives in the Plaza with her English nanny, dog, and turtle, schooled occasionally by a young Andover student. There is a notable absence of a father who is never mentioned, and a mother, who occupies herself with shopping, vacationing and dating. Sadly, this is a common childhood for New York children of means. So while the book is entertaining, and Eloise is triumphant in her success at entertaining herself, this I hope, will be a story your children cannot relate to.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am a vegetarian. I love to eat. And though I would be happy to lose a little weight, I am not on a diet…

New York is aplenty with restaurants; we have Asian, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Jewish, Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Vegetarian and Vegan – but we don’t have many mainstream restaurants that offer vegetarians a choice of dishes. The majority of restaurants offer one vegetarian, uninspired dish that assumes the diner is dieting. Many restaurants offer no vegetarian choices. Typically a request for a vegetarian dish is accommodated – but not cheerfully nor well.

If you are vegetarian, whatever your motivation – compassion, environmental impact, health, religion… I’d like to share you with a small (sadly, it is a small) list of mainstream restaurants where you’ll find a delicious and healthful meal of vegetables and grains. This is not say that I don’t recommend the wonderful vegetarian and vegan restaurants in town; Angelica Kitchen, Candle Café, Candle 79, Hangawi, Pure Food, Zen Palate…but this list of restaurants offers carnivores and vegetarians tasty meals together.

I hope this list will grow.

1167 Madison Avenue @ 85th Street, 212.734.7711
Italian food is a good choice for vegetarians in the mainstream. We can always make an entrée of the veggie sides. At this Upper East Side restaurant you’ll find ample choices, starting with a delicious Caesar salad (without anchovies), zucchini soup with basil, eggplant parmigiana, daily vegetable risotto, pasta with tomato sauce…

300 Amsterdam Avenue, @ 74th Street, 212.769.1212
Meals of organic produce and free-range animals enable vegetarians and vegans to dine alongside compassionate carnivores seamlessly.

125 West 55th Street, 6th & 7th Avenues, 212.245.7400
This Greek restaurant in midtown is reputed for their fish, artfully prepared and beautifully displayed. Milos also offers vegetarians lovely choices as well: Greek salad, fava beans, roasted peppers, hummus…to pair with delicate Greek wines (let the sommelier guide you).

54 East 1st Street, 1st & 2nd Avenues, 212.677.6221
There is a larger variety of animals and organs on the menu here than even carnivores are accustomed to. And there is a great selection of delicious vegetables and grains to choose from.

Union Square Café
21 East 16th Street, 5th Avenue & Union Square West, 212.243.4020
The Indian-spiced vegetables and grains are wonderful. You’ll leave with their cookbook so you can recreate the meal at home. The menu is peppered with vegetarian choices – all made from seasonal organic produce and delicious.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hotels in Manhattan

Though there is no dearth of hotels in Manhattan, oddly there is a dearth of affordable hotel rooms. With occupancy rates in the high 80s and something always happening in town, there will be times it appears that you cannot find an available hotel room in any of the many hotels in town, let alone one you can afford. For those for whom money is no object, upgrading to suites will provide accommodations. For those who are appalled at the prices they’d resent paying, but would do so willingly if only those rooms were available – it seems downright outrageous.

The answer is not that you have to book a year in advance, nor travel in from the outer boroughs or from tasteless hotels along New Jersey highways. We can’t recommend either scenario. The option we do recommend for those planning a trip to NY where budget is an issue is to try one of several extremely affordable hotels that book guests for long term, short term, and spur of the moment accommodations.

Now, when the price of an upscale hotel room in town is $600/night, and the middle range of “value” hotels is $400 – the business traveler will feel triumphant to find a corporate rate in the $300 range. There is however a category of truly affordable hotels, where you may perhaps share a bath, or forego room service, in return for significant savings. These hotels offer rooms, with private or shared baths, at just about $100 per night. In choosing among these, we recommend the one in or near the neighborhoods that interest you most – so you don’t spend your savings on cab fare.


Highly affordable NYC hotels:

Hotel 17
225 East 17th Street, NY NY 10003, 212.475.2845

Greenwich Village
Larchmont Hotel
27 West 11th Street, NY NY 10011, 212.989.9333

Murray Hill
Hotel 31
120 East 31st Street, NY NY 10016, 212.685.3060

Midtown - West
Travel Inn
515 West 42nd Street, at 10th Avenue, 212.695.7171

Midtown - East
Vanderbilt YMCA
224 East 47th Street, NY NY 10017, 212.912.2500

341 Broome Street, NY NY 10013, 212.226.1482

Upper East Side
Franklin Hotel
164 East 87th Street, NY NY 10028, 212.369.1000
*The Franklin is twice the $100/night category, but with private bath, complimentary breakfast, wine & cheese, and pet friendly. Upscale amenities in keeping with the neighborhood.

Upper West Side
The Amsterdam Inn
340 Amsterdam Avenue, 76th Street, NY NY 10024, 212.579.7500

Friday, February 09, 2007

It’s cold and windy and one of the very best things about New York – walking everywhere – has become painful. I cheer myself up thinking that a little inconvenience for me is better for the environment than the warm weather that made December such a pleasure. Warming yourself up for a walk also means lugging about in heavy boots and a heavy coat – ughh.

So what does this cold climate offer? Ice Skating. No matter how cold, somehow the joy of gliding along will warm all of you – all but the exposed parts of you. For that, try Mario Badescu’s ski cream.

I have a pond in my front yard – one of the benefits in being 60 miles from NY that offsets the 60 mile distance from the city – and my daughter and I have been loving the pond. Early mornings when there is a two hour delay, afternoons as a break, and week-ends, throughout the day – we’re out on the pond, zipping along, totally warm, and enjoying the weather.

In NY there are great places to skate as well. We list ice skating rinks in NY online at

Outdoor rinks in town are:

Lasker Rink, Central Park at 106th Street

Rink at Rockefeller Center, 51st Street & 5th Avenue

Wollman Rink, Central Park at 59th & 6th Avenue

Sadly, The Pond at Bryant Park closed to accommodate Fashion Week.

And indoors at Chelsea Piers, 23rd Street at the Hudson River

Riverbank State Park at Riverside Drive and 145th Street.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If you are looking to learn or improve your golf swing in Manhattan – may we recommend the driving range at Chelsea Piers?

Chelsea Piers offers 2 levels of heated stalls overlooking the Hudson River at 20th Street from which you can drive golf balls into a netted cage for about $100 / hour, prime time.

The biggest pluses here are 1 – the NYC location, 2 – the automated ball service – 3 – the well-equipped Prop Shop from which you can rent an excellent selection of clubs including Mizunos that you can try towards purchase – or just swing.

The facility is well run. There is ample staff that jump to serve. The automated tee-up is a faster – less instructional version of a lesson with your golf pro. And after you can wet your whistle with a tasty fresh ale from Chelsea Brewing Company.

Two negatives apply to taller and better golfers. The driving bays are partitioned from each other with netting and metal columns – both of which are too close for comfort. If you are 5”7” – they will be in your way psychologically, if you are 6”1 – they will be in your way physically. And, the range is 200 yards – at the end of which is netting. If you hit further than 200 yards with a range ball, chances are, you’re a pretty good golfer, and you’ll know whether you are hitting with a fade or a draw – though you won’t have the satisfaction of watching the landing, or gaining the roll.

So regardless of the weather, head on out. Bring a credit card & ask for an outside bay – which will give you the little extra room you need for your driver.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Golf as sport has been a bit of an oxymoron for me. Sports for me are physically demanding, heart pounding activities that produce copious amounts of sweat and endorphins. My husband picked up golf as a gift from me for his 40th birthday. A dear friend who is a scratch golfer assured me that my husband would love it, and that he could teach him the game. So one week later, with Titleist clubs in hand – they went out – and it’s been an addiction of his since.

His recommendation that I take up golf seemed silly. A sport played with martini in cart and cigar in hand? But I’ve been seeing lots of beautiful courses from the club house patio, and we no longer play tennis all week-end, and his idea that we go together to hits balls on a sunny afternoon sounded good on several sunny afternoons.

I am beginning to play golf on the range, without the accoutrement of cigar or martini, and with the visuals of Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie in my mind, and I love the feel of the club coming through its arc, and the solid fwack of the driver on the ball.

The golf swing is at first awkward; one shakes hands with the club in a funny way, one sits as if just about to encounter a stool, and extends the club in a full rotation around an arc without swaying or reaching. And you may not pick up your head, or stand up, to see how you have done until you have come through the stroke. Sound like baseball, tennis, polo? It is.

I haven’t yet got round a course – the idea of spending perhaps six hours in total frustration is neither attractive nor feasible at the moment. But driving balls is a nice compliment in the afternoon to a morning’s run, or a little fresh air and stretching on a day of recovery. The rotation of the hips through the ball feels very similar to the twisting poses I practice in yoga – so the golf swing compliments my athletic schedule, which is running / swimming / yoga / pilates, and offers a fun satisfaction of hitting a ball that is more age appropriate than swinging at baseballs, less expensive than swinging a polo mallet, and less demanding than swinging a tennis racquet.

So where can you find a golf swing in Manhattan, or hone your’s low and straight: Chelsea Piers, Drive 495 & Liberty National, in ascending order of ability and $$$.

We are checking out these places, and we’ll post our findings, and welcome your comments.