Category Archives: New York City

My Hurricane Sandy Diaries: Part 2

THE AFTERMATH CONTINUES

Thursday November 1:

“What day is it anyway?” This is the question on everyone’s lips. This week has blended together into one excruciatingly tedious day of waiting for something to happen. Yesterday, fatigue overwhelmed me. Today, I’m getting fucking angry.

Still NO cell service. Searching, searching, searching. Useless. I hate feeling this disconnected. I’m craving news. I need to know what the hell is going on! The NYSE has power, but not the rest of Lower Manhattan? Undoubtedly, it’s important to send a message to the world that we’re not totally crippled here, but this is another perfect example of the divide between “the haves” and “the have nots” in this city. If you bear witness to the state of affairs above and below 39th Street, it’s impossible to ignore this disparity.

A whole world of electricity, information, warmth, and comfort exists above the power divide at 39th. People are going about their daily lives – talk/text/email, work, dine, shop, bathe – all the things in life that we typically take for granted. Downtown, it’s an entirely different story. News is being delivered through word of mouth. People are hungry and cold. Some have lost everything they own, others are trying to salvage what’s left. It looks like a war zone. People are in survival mode.

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There are fewer cars parked on my block today. Clearly more people have left. There’s a big moving truck idling in the street below. It’s the first of the month and someone’s moving out. Was that planned in advance or did they just decide to get the fuck out of here?

I admit, seeing that truck is planting a similar seed in my head, although things should eventually “return to normal”. But how long will that take? When will the grocery stores around here have food again? When will the shops and restaurants re-open? Am I gonna have to keep trekking Uptown every day? I really want to leave, but where would I go? This is not just a Manhattan problem, this is an East Coast problem. Honestly, if I had to make a choice today, I’d pack everything up and go back to Los Angeles tout de suite. Not that I can even get there! JFK and La Guardia are closed, their runways still under several feet of floodwater. No subway, no trains, no car. Grounded.

I should get outside, go for a walk, take the ‘hood’s pulse. Or maybe I should head back Uptown again. Let people know I’m alright. I doubt they’re too worried. I just feel so cut off from everything. I go Uptown, check in/charge up, get that media fix; I’m so grateful for that opportunity and my friend’s hospitality, but I just want to be at home. Being alone through all of this is no fun either. If I thought I was sick of being single before, I’m really over it now.

There’s this sweet Frenchman from Brooklyn that I met on OKC who’s been concerned about me throughout this ordeal. I want to meet him, but I’m not exactly in a dating frame of mind right now. I need take a shower first! He’s been so kind, texting to see how I’m doing, trying to keep my spirits up. It’s weird to be so intimate during a disaster with someone you don’t even know. Strange how you think about certain people in your life, and make every effort to keep in contact with them, and not others. Emergencies really test your relationships, put things in perspective. You learn where you truly stand. It’s fascinating to watch how people conduct themselves in trying situations. Some rise to the occasion, find extraordinary strength, stay positive in the face of adversity; others unravel at the seams. Under these circumstances, both reactions seem equally appropriate.

Guess I’m in a weird headspace today. I mean, last night wasn’t so bad, I made the best of it, but seriously, how long can this possibly go on? No one seems to have any answers. Having no power SUCKS! I’m trying to stay optimistic, but I’m pissed off! Life is basically par for the course Uptown, but here in The Dark Zone, we just fucking WAIT. Worrying, wondering, hoping. We’re living in limbo. Hello? Mayor Bloomberg! What are you doing about this? People need help on the Lower East Side!

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The buses are so damn packed you can’t even get on them. It’s ridiculous. I just keep walking north until I find a couple that’s willing to share a cab with me. I show up unannounced, again, on Kristen’s doorstep and am welcomed with a big hug. I swear, what would I’ve done without her? They have hot water again, so I take one of the longest showers of my life. Heavenly! Almost better than post-Burning Man.

If I’m gonna go home again, I need to do it before sunset. It’s not safe to walk through the pitch-black streets of the East Village by myself. Can’t say I’m crazy about the idea of spending another night in the dark alone. Uptown it is.

Kristen offers to treat Matthew and me to dinner at a Brazilian restaurant and drinks at The Algonquin Hotel, to temporarily take our minds of things and have a little fun. I’m excited to enjoy a night out with my friends, but as we walk through Midtown, I feel like I’m in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Taxis honk, whizzing through the streets. All the neon signs are brightly lit. People are browsing stores, carrying shopping bags, chatting on cell phones. Life appears normal up here. But it’s not. NOT in The Dark Zone. Not even close! Does anyone have a clue what’s really going on below 39th Street? Do they even care?

It feels so lovely, going to dinner and being served; having a fancy cocktail with the ghosts of Dorothy Parker and The Vicious Circle; acting civilized for a spell.  But I must confess, I feel guilty. I’m so grateful for the escape, but most are not so fortunate. As I curl up in Kristen’s heated guest room under a heap of warm blankets, I can’t sleep, thinking about my neighbors spending yet another night in the cold darkness, and all the souls who lost their lives Monday night.

Friday November 2:

ConEd just announced that we’ll get power back in Lower Manhattan today? Please, please, please!

We take the dog for a walk and hit up Starbucks again. People no longer line the sidewalks, charging their cell phones and laptops. Word on the street is, the city cut power to these outlets to prevent “loitering”.

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Today there are 2 food trucks, NYC Sweetery and Mexico Food, parked on the corner of E 7th & Ave A. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many people around. I’m struck by this wave of nausea as I walk by, so I decide to get a croissant. I ask how much I owe the lady, but she says, “No charge, courtesy of JetBlue.” (Thank you.)

I knock on the door of my neighbor who lives in the building next to mine. He’s the super there and I hope I can talk to him about re-lighting the boiler pilot so we can get some hot water going again. Do you need electricity for that too? I’m not sure. I’ve yet to see my landlady all week or I’d ask her. His mother answers and tells me he’s taking a nap. Good. I know he hasn’t slept in days. I tell her about the food trucks parked on the corner, but she doesn’t want any. “Other people need it more than I do”, she says.

Back in my apartment, there’s a knock at my door. My downstairs neighbor asks if I can boil a pot of water for her. She tells me she has no gas, no more food. She just wants to wash up. Of course, it’s the least I can do. She brings me a pot and while it boils, I clean out my cupboard, packing up all the food I have for her. I can easily get more. She’s living on social security and food stamps. When she returns, she’s so grateful she’s in tears. I tell her about the food trucks too, but she doesn’t want to partake either. “There’s someone who needs it more than I do”, is what everyone says. It humbles me to the core.

There’s a few hours of daylight left, so I’m going for a walk. I’m curious to see which businesses in the neighborhood might be up and running again. I’ll make a list and report my findings on FaceBook – residents need to know what’s available nearby, restaurants need the business. They’ve lost thousands of dollars this week alone. I’ll head towards that WiFi hotspot in Union Square that I heard about…

I wander the blocks between Avenue A and 1st, my beloved East Village streets, checking in with the locals to see how they’re faring, if they’ll be open tonight. When I get to Union Square, at least 100 telecom vehicles from all over the country are parked there. Cell reception is still super spotty. I try to type my neighborhood report into a status update, but it keeps crashing and I get frustrated. It’s getting cold, communicating is again proving futile, so I decide to just head home, feeling a little defeated.

I’m walking along 14th Street, when I suddenly see signal lights pop on at Union Square East. LIGHTS! I spin around, searching for a glimmer of recognition from other people on the street. Have they noticed? I yell, “STREET LIGHTS!” and point excitedly. I walk briskly east. No lights on 3rd Avenue. I have a few bars on my cell phone though, so I stop to post the news. As I look up, all the street lights simultaneously power on, in a wave down 3rd Avenue towards Houston. I run across 13th Street, happy dancing, singing, “POWER, POWER, POWER!”

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Please, tell me the lights on 2nd Avenue are on. YES! I run to 1st Avenue. Green signal lights as far as my eye can see! Lights are on in buildings! Just like you’d expect of New Yorkers, some are happily chanting, “POWER!” at the top of their lungs, others are totally un-phased. I keep stopping to post updates. It quickly becomes my personal mission to spread joy. I smile at everyone, singing “my power song”, skipping through the streets. Most people smile back, yell in solidarity, and continue spreading the joy in my wake. It feels like – a miracle has descended from above!

I dart down Avenue A and see the lamps in Tompkins Square Park glowing that beautiful amber color. Skipping down the south side of the park, I encounter an excited little dog. I mimic the dog’s happy dance, cooing “we have POWER!” as I pet her affectionately. Her owner laughs and joins in.

I bust through my front door and discover all the lights are ON. Hallelujah! I walk through my place, expressing gratitude for every lamp, outlet, and gadget. I flip every light switch on and off, talk on the phone, fire up the computer, turn on the TV. Rapture! I whip up a celebratory hot dinner and watch friends’ joyful status updates pour in on FaceBook. Everyone is elated! But some are still without. We revel, but not too much, not wanting to rub it in. All night long, I have a new appreciation for every.little.thing. We’re back, New York City!

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Postscript: As monumental as it was to “get our power back”, the truth of the matter is, New York will never truly be back, in quite the same way, ever again. The story of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath was far from over after Manhattan’s Dark Zone regained most of its power on November 2, 2012. People continued to suffer without electricity, heat, hot water, garbage collection, and basic necessities, within just a few short blocks of my home, for weeks afterwards. Some people regained certain services, but not others, and there was simply no rhyme or reason to its restoration. In many places, particularly in the housing projects along Avenue D, the situation would get considerably worse before it got a little better.

The Lower East Side felt forgotten, and perhaps it was, because attention soon shifted to Staten Island and The Rockaways, and rightly so, I suppose. Watching that part of this tragedy unfold became a whole other heartbreak of epic proportions in the weeks and months following. And though that grief might’ve been briefly tempered by the bright spot of President Obama’s re-election on November 6, the Election Night energy of renewal and optimism was soon replaced by extraordinary anger and unbearable pain again, as many of New York and New Jersey’s coastal communities began feeling abandoned and insulted by the city/state/government response to their most urgent plight. Surprisingly, grassroots organizations like Occupy Sandy, powered purely by compassionate citizens and lacking in copious bureaucratic red tape, stepped up to lead a momentous recovery effort that Mayor Bloomberg’s office, FEMA, The Red Cross, and insurance companies seemed unable or unwilling to manage as successfully. The extraordinary efforts of The Occupy Movement and small, local community organizations gave people a glimmer of hope that they so desperately needed at the time, but sadly, even today, the devastation that Hurricane Sandy wielded continues, seemingly with no end in sight…

**

Where you on The East Coast during Hurricane Sandy? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next week: Part 3 of My Hurricane Sandy Diaries - the post-storm revelations that altered the course (and location) of my life…

**

Here are a few other poignant articles you may be interested in reading:

Outrage In The Powerless Zone: A Dispatch from Lower Manhattan by Christopher Robbins

The People Who Were Killed By Hurricane Sandy by Whitney Hess

Superstorm Sandy’s Impact on The East Coast

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My Hurricane Sandy Diaries: Part 1

FRANKENSTORM

Monday, October 29, 2012:

Spent this past weekend preparing for the storm. Fridge stocked with food and bottled water – check. Flashlights, batteries, crank radio – check. Tape up the windows, cover the A/C units with blankets, place buckets under the leaky ceiling spots – check. Now, we wait.

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You can feel the energy of something ominous approaching. The question is: how bad will it be? Is this simply another hyped up storm like Hurricane Irene, or the dreaded “Frankenstorm” of the century all the weathermen are predicting?!

irene vs. sandy

8 pm: The NYFD just pulled up, red lights flashing, beaming their headlights down the block. People are gathered in the middle of the street, snapping group photos on their cell phones. I’m annoyed, yet again, by the party-like atmosphere I’m witnessing down below. It seems juvenile and irresponsible when there’s a severe storm making landfall. But I feel like this pretty much every day, living in the East Village, in Alphabet City, the place where everyone comes to get drunk, woohoo at the top of their lungs, make a huge ass of themselves, and throw up on the sidewalk before going home.

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8:30 pm: Curiosity gets the better of me and I go outside. I get a few feet beyond my doorstep when suddenly I understand what all the commotion is about. The East River is coming down the block! WHAT?! Avenue C is completely submerged. I’m just about to snap my own photo of this unbelievable sight when the power goes out. Everyone runs in different directions, screaming. It’s pitch black. I instantly hightail it back inside my building. Thanks to the glow of my iPhone flashlight app, I don’t have to climb the five flights of stairs back to my apartment in total darkness.

My phone starts blowing up with texts and calls from friends. “Are you alright?” Apparently, the news of what’s going on in my neighborhood looks scary. I learn there’s been an explosion at the ConEd plant on 14th St, just a few blocks away. My friend, Kristen, is concerned and wants me to come Uptown. They still have power. She offers to jump in a cab and come get me. I’m torn, but I think I want to stay home. I can ride out the night. I continue to talk and text, feeling like I want to stay connected to people, but then sense it might also be wise to conserve battery power. Who knows how long the electricity will be out? I keep pacing back and forth, peering out the windows, monitoring the situation down below and debating whether to stay or go, as I watch the river water creep up to and then past my doorsteps towards Avenue B. Too late now. How high will the water rise? I’m on the top floor, so there’s no way it can reach me. Right?

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Sure enough, the water eventually begins to recede. My friend texts me, “The worst is over. Everything will be back to normal soon.” If only he knew…

Tuesday, October 30, 2012:

I wake up to the discovery that my phone is now useless. Apparently, all the cell towers are down and searching for a signal all night has completely drained the battery. I can’t communicate with anyone. No power = no phone, no internet, no heat, no hot water. I have a strong feeling I should get out of this neighborhood.

I decide maybe it’s wise to take Kristen up on her offer after all and go stay at her place. The cats will be fine. I’ll leave them plenty of food and water. I pack a bag of clothes and as much food as I can carry, knowing it will all spoil if left here. I begin walking uptown along 1st Avenue.

There are no buses or subways running. No power anywhere for blocks. Tons of people are out, some merely strolling for a bit of fresh air, others clearly frantic to get the hell out of dodge ASAP. I walk for a good 20 minutes trying to hail a cab, but no one stops. Around 16th Street, I resign myself to walk all the way to 40th Street if necessary and just take my time. What choice do I have? I stick my arm in the air once more, when suddenly a cab pulls over with 3 women already in the back seat. He asks me where I’m going, then nods yes. I climb in the passenger seat.

Cabs are priceless, as they are now the only source of transportation. People line the streets everywhere, arms in the air, trying to flag one down. I feel so grateful to be in a car, as we pass by dozens of people with desperate looks on their faces. The cabbie says he came to work today from Brooklyn, even though it’s his day off, knowing that people would need help. He stops to let 2 women out of the back seat, but doesn’t ask for payment. We all pay what we can. Thank you, cabbie angel. You’re a lifesaver.

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I show up on Kristen’s doorstep unannounced, but she’s relieved to see me. We spend the day watching NY1, then a Louis CK comedy special, in an attempt to lighten the mood. Soon, we crash for a nap; mentally, emotionally, exhausted. Matthew comes over in the evening and we cook a big meal from all the food I brought. We drink a great bottle of wine and have an enjoyable evening, all things considered. Also, priceless today –  my amazing friends.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012:

Kristen and I head out into the streets of Midtown East to walk the dog and discover tons of people sitting on the sidewalks, plugging their cell phones and laptops into the power outlets underneath every lamp post and tree. Craving coffee, I pray Starbucks on 42nd Street is open. They’re in fact serving hot drinks and food to the masses, though mostly, the place is packed with disheveled New Yorkers, hovering over the power outlets. What did we do before all this technology? Digital communication is clearly a critical priority.

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I should get some cash while I’m up here. Without electricity, there’ll be no banks open, no ATM functioning south of here. Chase Bank has graciously plugged in several surge protectors around their branch lobbies. More circles of people sit, huddled on the floor, around the power.

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Rested, caffeinated, and fed, I head back down into what people are now referring to as “The Dark Zone”. Thankfully, the buses are running again, and for free, for the next several days. I squeeze myself in, and count my lucky stars that I’m able to get home without a cab or a 36-block walk.

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The East Village is a ghost town. It’s shocking to witness this desolate New York. Most businesses are shuttered, save a few who are serving hot coffee and a bit of food if they’re fortunate enough to have gas or propane. A couple of churches are open. Tompkins Square Park and all of the community gardens are closed, huge tree limbs strewn about. The big, old, beautiful willow trees of the LES Ecology Garden and La Plaza Cultural have been uprooted and now lay on their sides.

A few parents walk around trick or treating with their kids. They look weary, but it’s sweet to see them making an effort to preserve Halloween. Residents gather on stoops, trading information, waiting for developments, looking like zombies. Many haven’t been able to sleep. If the power comes back on and their basements are still flooded, fires could start. They have to be ready to kick those pumps on at a minute’s notice. Everywhere, people are clean up mode – bailing water out of their cars with cups, stacking up garbage, laying soaked belongings out to dry.

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All along Avenue C, friends and family, employees and owners alike, pitch in to help. Looks like everyone associated with Zum Schneider, the German beer garden on the corner of 7th, is there lending a hand. Luckily, they and a few other establishments have generators to pump the water out – another priceless item. The constant hum and smell of gasoline fills the air for blocks. I see one fireman chatting with the guys who run The Wayland, one of my favorite neighborhood bars on the corner of C & 9th. Other than that, there are no city or government agencies anywhere in sight. I do spy a large group from Occupy Wall Street conducting a volunteer meeting as I walk by and I can’t help but acknowledge who’s really out here, walking their talk, being of service to this community.

I’m floored by the magnitude of it all. It’s a totally different world down here. The difference between Uptown and Downtown – day and night.

***

Coming up next: Part 2 of My Hurricane Sandy Diaries – The Aftermath Continues.

Don’t wanna miss it? SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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You say tomato, I say tomahto

Tomatoes, tomates, tomatillos! The city’s farmers’ markets are officially bursting at the seams with more varieties of tomatoes than I can possibly count, making this the perfect window of opportunity to sample much more than your garden variety fruit, and experiment with a few of those recipes you’ve squirreled away. To make the utmost of this short-lived season, here’s my quickie guide to all things tomato-y, while supplies last!

First up, New Amsterdam Market presents:

TOMATO FESTIVAL 
Sunday, August 26
12:00PM-4:00PM
South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip

FSNYC’s annual Tomato Fest returns to New Amsterdam Market for tastings of 15 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and the inaugural Great Tomato Un-Cookoff. A number of regular New Amsterdam Market vendors will feature tomato-centric items, including Jersey tomato ketchup from First Field, tomato focaccia from Hot Bread Kitchen, white bean gazpacho from Brooklyn Bean Company, and more. At 1:00PM, Spicy ‘n Sweet will hold a tomato canning demonstration at their stall so you can learn how to preserve summer’s bounty at home yourself. Click these links for all the juicy details and to purchase your tickets in advance.

Next on the vine, Northern Spy Food Co.’s serves up:

FOUR COURSE TOMATO DINNER
Tuesday, August 28
511 East 12th Street, East Village, 10009
$50 per person

To celebrate the peak season of the tomato, the all-star summer fruit par excellence, Northern Spy is hosting a dinner that will present it in all kinds of clever and tasty ways from savory through sweet. Seats for this dinner will be offered through their website’s reservation system.

Awesome food & drink culture daily e-newsletter, Tasting Table, has also assembled a pretty slideshow of the gorgeous heirlooms and 5 super delish recipes for tomatoes in condiment, salad, sandwich, pasta, and salsa form, that you can easily prepare at home.

And finally, here are few of my favorite tomato recipe finds from my favorite new social media obsession, Pinterest:

cold tomato soup via The New York Times

tomato basil tart via Sunshine and Smile

grilled avocado with herbs & cherry tomatoes via Chimera Obsura

baked shrimp with tomato & feta via Canadian Family

 

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Ice Cream Dreams

With this luscious breeze in the air, feels as though the seasons are a changin’, but luckily there are still oodles of opportunity this weekend to get your fill of summer’s favorite dessert: ICE CREAM! (Did you just scream?)

Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 18, Dylan’s Candy Bar will be giving away FREE scoops from noon – 4 p.m at their flagship location, 1011 3rd Avenue @ 60th Street.

Sunday, August 19, New Amsterdam Market will host their 3rd Annual Ice Cream Sunday, from noon – 4pm, directly next to South Street Seaport.

This afternoon-long fundraising event will benefit NAM’s ongoing projects while bringing together the most eclectic and seasonal northeast ice cream makers, each of which will create up to four unique ice creams specifically for the market, using only seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients. Save room to sample creamy creations by:

Gabrielle Carbone of THE BENT SPOON
Joseph Roselli of DREAMSCOOPS
Amy Miller of EARLY BIRD COOKERY
Tracy Obolsky of ESCA
Keren Weiner of  IL BUCO
Ashley Whitmore of MARLOW & SONS
Fany Gerson of LA NEWYORKINA
Catherine Oddenino of LUCA & BOSCO
James Distefano of ROUGE TOMATE
Forbes Fisher of STEVE’S ICE CREAM
Ben Van Leeuwen of VAN LEEUWEN ARTISAN ICE CREAM

EARLY BIRD ADMISSION – Starts 12pm
$30 for 10 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 10 miniature cones

GENERAL ADMISSION – Starts 1pm
$20 for 8 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 8 miniature cones

AT THE DOOR: $35 for Early Bird, $25 for General Admission

Purchase advance tickets here and use promo code EDIBLEICECREAM12 for a $5 discount.

Monday, August 20, The Brooklyn Kitchen will host an Ice Cream Making Class, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, with their resident everything dessert instructor, Megan Fitzroy, Owner/Chef of Fitzroy Specialty Cakes, and former pastry chef at Torrisi Italian Specialties. She’ll teach you the science behind making perfect ice cream as you sample a slew of specialty flavors, and receive basic recipes to experiment with at home.

I’d also recommend an any time visit to new kid on the block, Fresco Gelateria on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, which serves up their family’s recipe for traditional Greek yogurt-y gelato. The space is beautifully designed. Its simple chic, white-washed space invites you to linger in nooks and on comfy benches as you people watch from the large bay windows. They make some really unusual flavors like rosewater, mastic, and goat cheese, and some road-less-traveled flavors like passionfruit, peanut butter, and biscotti. Not-so-standard vanilla bean, chocolate, and peppermint are also on hand to keep the less adventurous very pleased indeed.

So, treat yourself to a double scoop and happy lickity licking!

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Wine With Friends

Gerard Bertrand collection

I love to nurse a great glass of wine, when out socializing at a wine bar or paired with a delicious meal at a local restaurant, but I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a particularly voracious drinker. Mostly, I just know when I like something, and find it pleasing enough to drink an entire glass, and when I don’t.

Over the years, I’ve slowly become familiar with an array of winemakers and varietals, discovering some that I enjoy imbibing more than others. I tend to make my wine selections based on a few simple criteria: what I’m eating, temperature and season, country of origin, recommendations from the wine merchant or my fellow diners, and when all else fails, most artistic label.

When I’m feeling celebratory (or indecisive), I opt for the bubbly. Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava always make me a happy camper. This I know well. I typically prefer red to white wines, but sometimes a red is just too heavy, especially on a hot summer night, at which point, I’ll go for a nice rosé. I tend to like wines from California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, and Australia, most of all. A broad range, it’s true. When I eat a certain regional cuisine, I’ll take the ‘when in Rome’ approach, and choose a wine from that same neck of the woods.

That’s about the extent of my novice wine selection thought process – when I’m flying solo. Which is why I absolutely love getting together with my dear friends, Kristen Siebecker, Certified Sommelier and epicurean event director, and Matthew Wexler, food/travel writer and seasonal chef extraordinaire, who know eons more about wine than I do. Not only are they tons of fun to drink with and hilarious conversations ultimately always ensue, but they’re both exceptionally knowledgeable about food and vino, so I actually end up learning a lot in the process.

Kristen and Matthew have a real knack for pinpointing the subtle nuances of flavors, that I’d never pick up on in a million years. I can usually identify a particular fruit, or a hint of spice that’s present, but I often struggle to put my finger on exactly what I’m tasting. Listening to them as they sip and grasp for the perfect adjective, gives my own palate a much clearer understanding. Thankfully though, they manage to talk about wine in a down-to-earth way that makes it engaging and entertaining, rather than highfalutin and stuffy. Kristen is a delightful story teller who gives each bottle a rich context. She manages to highlight some element of that particular wine and make it relatable to just about anyone. Her passion and expertise, coupled with her unpretentious style and enthusiasm for teaching, doesn’t leave you feeling like a total dunce, and makes tastings with her a most pleasurable experience. Not to mention, Matthew’s exceptional knack for pairing takes the whole culinary experience to another level entirely, coaxing flavors out of both the food and wine, which make both sing more sweetly.

So, when Matthew was recently tasked with the assignment of writing about three bottles from the Gerard Bertrand collection, it seemed like the perfect excuse for our threesome to unite around the table at Kristen’s spectacularly situated Midtown apartment once again, and conduct a taste test in the name of “research”. Matthew got to ball rolling, tossing out a few inciting questions, pen poised to paper. Kristen popped our corks and poured each glass to perfection. We settled on sushi as the cuisine du jour and each took turns in the driver’s seat, navigating the lengthy online menu in a quest for an appropriate pairing to suit the wines, as well as our cravings. They lobbed descriptive adjectives back and forth across the table, like a tennis match, and I stuck to what I do best: taking photographs!

And now, the results of our wine tasting collaboration:

2010 Cremant de Limoux
First up, the 2010 Cremant de Limoux. Kristen tasted: “light, clear, bubbly, crisp, and toasty! An excellent bang for your buck”. I spied: an emerald green bottle, spouting sparkly bubbles; a glowing champagne toast, afore a teal table setting.

Gris Blanc
Next, the Gris Blanc – Kristen tasted: “simple, nice fruit, easy to drink. Light for a rose, more of a peachy color. You could sip this at a summer picnic all day and night.” I spied: an aptly named wine for this cloudy day. The overcast back light perfectly illuminating the colors of this peachy flesh tone rose; the bottle mirroring a subtle silhouette of the Empire State Building.

Muscat
Finally, the Muscat – Kristen tasted: “a sweet wine with a robust lychee, coconut and tropical fruit nose, best served with dessert.” I spied: a royal blue label popping from golden yellow sweetness; when set on a blonde wood tray or against a cubist wine rack, moody romance ensues.

For Kristen’s full write up of this experiment, click here, and for Matthew’s post, click here. If you’re inspired to discover other memorable wines for under $20, also check out The New York Times : Food Section’s latest article.

Want to learn even more about wine in a fun, down-to-earth way? Or discover the perfect pairing of your soon to be favorite new wines and gourmet nibbles? Host an intimate gathering of friends at your abode or create a custom tasting at a local culinary hot spot! Contact Eye For Style Services and we’ll create a unique event with Kristen and Matthew, specially crafted for you and yours. Share your vision and leave all the pesky details to us. It’s never been easier to play the perfect host.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for more details about Wine With Kristen’s upcoming classes for beginners and experts alike, coming soon to Skillshare.

Cheers, mates!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Events, Food, New York City, Photography, Style, Workshops

Eye For Style – Summer Services

Eye For Style Services is an exclusive personal concierge service for all your dining, entertainment, shopping, and travel needs. I love turning other savvy souls onto my favorite things, creating memorable experiences, and helping people live their best life. I’m a bonafide tastemaker with very high-standards, and lucky for you, I’ve got an arsenal of carefully curated sources and contacts, insider deals and tricks-of-the-trade, right at my fingertips and ready to tap at a moment’s notice. So, you share your vision, and I’ll make it a reality. No dream is too big or small. Imagine the possibilities…


*Special summer promotion:

Book between now and September 1, 2012, and you’ll save 10% off ALL style services. That’s any request, big or small, hourly or flat rate projects. I know you’re busy, so don’t procrastinate! Call the apple of your eye and make that date; flee the city for that long overdue coastal getaway; host an outdoor soiree before summer’s end; find that perfect look to make you feel like a million bucks! Life is short, but juicy. Savor it…
 

Service #1: Just a Suggestion

Do you need a spot-on recommendation? Where’s the perfect bar for a casual drink, or cool restaurant for a hot date? Where do you take that hard to impress client or out-of-town friend? What’s the quintessential boutique to find that perfect gift? Call me for a quickie phone consult and I’ll help you locate a guaranteed “no fail zone” to get exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t have time to take care of all the particulars? No worries. I’ll do the research, make the arrangements, and message you the deets. You just show up – and take all the credit for your impeccable taste.

From $40/hr.

Service #2: Wanderluster’s Cure

Desperately need a weekend getaway? Fantasizing about your next vacation abroad? Call me for a quick phone consult and tell me what kind of respite you’re craving. Whether it be spa, sports, or sightseeing, I’ll do my homework and provide you with a short list of available destinations, tailored specifically to your interests and budget. Don’t have time to make all the trip arrangements yourself? Fear not! I’ll customize a complete travel itinerary, from transportation to hotel, activities and eateries, for that perfect solo expedition, romantic escapade, or family adventure you’ve been dreaming of. Just pack your bags and prepare to explore new horizons. I’ll handle every tiny detail, you send me a postcard.

From $60/hr

Service #3: Omnivore’s Dilemma

Want to have a few friends over to chill? Host a fancy dinner party? Create a romantic evening in for 2? Call me for a quickie phone consult and share your culinary vision. I’ll head to Eataly, Chelsea Market, Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, whatever you’re in the mood for, to custom-design a terrific food & drink menu for you and yours. I’ll procure the all the necessary ingredients for you to cook, or devise an easy to assemble, pre-prepared feast. Better yet, hire one of my favorite private chefs and sommeliers to cater every course in style! Let your guests in on the action, or pretend you did all the work yourself. It’s our little secret.

From $80/hr

Service #4: Ready to Wear

Looking for a few new pieces to perk up your closet this season? Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? Don’t have time to find that perfect outfit for an event? No sweat! Eye For Style offers personal wardrobe services, with a seasoned commercial stylist, specifically suited to your needs, taste, and budget. We’ll shop together at your favorite shops or I’ll bring a collection of handpicked items right to your home or office. Looking fashionable has never been so fun and easy!

From $80/hr

Service #5: Order From Chaos

For information about my home & office organizing services, please click here.

Can’t wait to get started? Kick off your quickie consult via this request form:

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Testimonials from happy clients provided upon request. Just ask!

Flat rates available, depending upon scope, for every project and budget. 

Food & wardrobe services available in New York City and Los Angeles only.

Personal concierge & travel services available in the United States.

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Artwork by: freya art and design. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Dreams, Events, Food, New York City, Style, Travel

Best of NYC Summer 2012

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! This truly is the best time of the year in NYC. There are so many FUN and FREE activities happening all over the city, where do you start? Lucky for you, I’ve taken the guess work out of it, posting this carefully curated list of my own personal favorite, tried-and-true, classic summer pastimes, as well as a slew of sizzling hot new offerings, ripe for picking this summer only. Enjoy!

EAT, SHOP, EXPLORE:
East River Ferry: to/from Long Island City, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and South Street Seaport
Smorgasburg (Sat 11 – 6) & Brooklyn Flea (Sun 10 – 5), Williamsburg waterfront + ferry to Photoville
New Amsterdam Market – Sundays, 11 – 4
Dekalb Market – Daily, 8 – 8ish
Hester Nights – Thursdays, 4–9pm, thru 10/25, 851 Sixth Ave @ 30th St
Hester Street Fair, Saturdays, 10 – 6
The High Line & Chelsea Market
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
Edible Manhattan and Urban Oyster food & drink tours/events
Taco crawl in Jackson Heights, Queens or Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Eat and shop Astoria, Queens
Field trip to Hoboken, NJ

ART:
Photoville, BK Bridge Park, 6/22 – 7/1
Keith Haring @ Brooklyn Museum (thru 7/8)
+ BK Botanic Garden: W – Sun, 11 – 6, + late summer hours Th & Sat
The Cloisters: Tues – Sun, 9:30 am – 5 pm
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at The Met (thru Aug 19)
+ Cloud City & rooftop cocktails
Bike ride, picnic, and Interactive Sculpture Park on Governor’s Island
River to River Festival, 6/17 – 7/15

MUSIC:
FREE:
Hot Sardines – 6/20, 6pm, Bryant Park, Fountain Terrace
Nellie McKay – 7/11, 7 pm, Madison Square Park
The New York Philharmonic – 7/13, Great Lawn, Central Park
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – 7/22, SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
Little Dragon/Frankie Rose/Voices of Black – 8/1, 7 pm, Prospect Park Bandshell
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – 8/18, 5 pm, Williamsburg Park

Norah Jones – 7/3, 6 pm, SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, $50
Jane’s Addiction & Die Antwoord – 8/17, 6:45pm, Williamsburg Park, $50

OUTDOORSY/NATURE:

Monet’s Gardens @ NY Botanical Gardens (with Mastercard Priceless offer)
Explore The Bronx’s City Island
Ferry to Jacob Riis/Fort Tilden and/or Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
BEACHES, BEACHES, BEACHES: Rockaway, Coney Island, Long Beach, Montauk, Fire Island, and more!
McCarren Park Pool – reopening in June 2012 after a 28 year closure and $50 million dollar renovation

AL FRESCO FILM:
6/28 – Taxi Driver, Tompkins Square Park
7/5 – Exit Through the Gift Shop, Tompkins Square Park
7/9 – Side by Side, Elevated Acre, 55 Water St, off Old Slip
7/12 – Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tompkins Square Park
7/16 – Roman Holiday, Bryant Park
7/18 – Raising Arizona, McCarren Park
7/28 – The Muppet Movie Sing-A-Long, Prospect Park Bandshell
8/21 – Do The Right Thing, Sheep Meadow, Central Park
8/23 – The Big Lebowksi, Sheep Meadow, Central Park

For even more movie listings, check out:

Watch It Outdoor Movie Guide 2012
Time Out NY Movies in the Park 2012
Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg
Rooftop Films

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Cocktails, Culture, Events, Film, Food, Music, New York City, Style, Travel