Category Archives: Travel

Bi-coastal-curious

artwork by: Nan Lawson

April 5, 2013

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a few months now and it’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to need to fashion a more bi-coastal lifestyle so I can spend time in both of the cities I love. I met this wicked cool artist selling her illustrations in a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market who was raised in Orange County, lived in NYC for many years, and now lives in Portland. She travels throughout the year selling her work at some of the best arts & crafts fairs around the country and then returns home to Oregon. We bonded over being California gals who lived and loved NYC, but couldn’t stomach the daily grind anymore. Other cities better suit our more laid back constitution, desire for natural surroundings, and thankfully, afford us home studios where we can make art on a consistent basis.

Yes, this is the type of lifestyle I wish to create. Spending time in multiple locations mixing it up is essential for megawatt personal growth. Travel by its very nature, opens your eyes, keeps you on your toes, refreshes your perspective. Home base acts as a creative sanctuary. I can only be in one place at a time, but if I’m imaginative about it, I bet I can shoot for the best of both worlds. I’m certainly going to try.

I must say, I’m not especially interested in having a monogamous relationship – with NYC or LA. Serial monogamy still holds a certain appeal, however, as there are many other spectacular cities worthy of a longer gander during this particular incarnation of my soul. Perhaps I’m ready to explore a more “polyamor-metropolis” lifestyle.  This has not been my typical modus operandi, mind you, but apparently, NY has encouraged my mind to open even wider in regards to the flexible forms relationships can take, despite my almost constant battle with that concept over the years. Bottom line: it is natural to have love for more than one place, person, or thing at a time. The more open your heart is, the more space there is for many desires to flourish simultaneously, the more exploration one is wont to do.

My open mind also thinks it sounds like a fantastic idea to structure my life so that I can enjoy spending time with men from both coasts. They are so different and yet so complementary. I get a spectrum of desires met by both. Oh please, may I have one of each? Sounds good in theory, but seriously, it’s never really been my style and the older I get, the less inclined I am to extol the virtues of multi-tasking. Ideally, there’s a man out there somewhere who understands and appreciates the beautiful complexities of both NY and CA, and is open to building a bi-coastal existence together.

During the last of my Manhattan years, I think that’s what I was secretly wishing to find in a mate – a New York man who, shortly after falling in love with me, would realize his readiness for change and be up for giving the west coast a try. When I revealed this to my best friend one day, she said, “If you want to be with man who’s interested in living in CA, why don’t you find one who’s already there?!”

She had a point, a good one that made increasingly more sense as time wore on. As I ultimately discovered, it’s much more difficult to encounter a west coast man living in the east. They are not as apt to flock that direction. East coast men in the west, however? Surprisingly abundant! As a few “east gone west” men have confided, “once you get a taste of the left coast life, you rarely venture back again, except to visit.”

Bi-coastalism, while also good in theory, is not as easy as it sounds in practice. Many people try it for a while – winters + summers in California, spring + fall in NYC – until one place inevitably seems to win out. While six-hour flights aren’t too terribly long in the scheme of things, they do tend to take their toll with frequency.

I admit, I struggle with chronic “grass is greener syndrome”, wondering if I’ll ever be 100% happy with where I am in the present moment, but I know I’m not alone. When it comes down to it though, your dissatisfaction is really about you, not your whereabouts. When you move, you don’t leave all those things you’re disenchanted with behind, you take them with you. They are you. Certain circumstances and dynamics, habits and patterns may change when you uproot yourself, but they might not, so be forewarned. YOU are ultimately the common denominator in your restless quest for greener pastures.

The flip side of that coin is, the city you choose to leave may not change either and will in all likelihood, remain much the same place you left, if you decide to return. Many of the things I disliked about LA are still very much a part of LA. I just accept it all a little more readily now. Many of things I initially loved about NY, eventually drove me rather nuts and made me want to flee.

Some people like to stay in one place and nest, others prefer to roam and experiment. I’ve got a dash of both – one part homebody artist introvert, one part wander lusting traveler social butterfly. Who says I have to choose? I believe in having my cake and eating it too, since I never much understood that expression anyway. I appreciate the merits of dwelling in Los Angeles and the last few months have taught me that I’m gonna need to scratch that NY itch ‘cause it ain’t going away. Therefore, I hereby set the intention to visit NY at least 2 – 3 times a year, ideally mixing pleasure and business, in an attempt to satisfy my myriad desires and explore my budding bi-coastal-curiosity.

CA & NY

May 20, 2013

I booked a plane ticket back to NY a few weeks ago. I made arrangements for places to stay, scheduled lots of quality hang time with friends, made a list of all the art events I wanted to check out (particularly: Recalling 1993, Street and Punk at the Met, the architectural sculptures along Park Avenue, Orly Genger’s rope installation in Madison Square Park, just to name a few). I planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn, eating my way through Smorgasburg, staying at the Wythe Hotel, going to see the Shins concert in Williamsburg Park. I looked forward to capping off the trip with a few days on Fire Island as a guest at my friend’s summer share. I even came up with a story idea to write while I was in town, did a ton of research, booked reservations, and then… it didn’t feel right.

What?! Are you kidding me? After everything you’ve been posting about NYC these past few months? All the missing and pining and lamenting you’ve been doing! Now you aren’t gonna go?! Have you lost your mind, lady?

Let’s just say that, while many awesome plans did indeed fall into place that would’ve made for a fantastic reunion with NY, others did not. A couple of gigs that were supposed to make this a work trip as well, got postponed for the time being. Then there was an unfortunate hiccup with a guy I’d briefly dated and had been maintaining a long distance flirtation with since I left. I’d literally just finished arranging some stellar plans for our much discussed and long overdue rendezvous, when he informed me that he’d recently run into his ex-gf and they’d decided to give it another try. Doh! C’est la vie. Timing really is everything.

In the weeks leading up to this triumphant NY return, I kept saying to friends that I felt as if I needed to go back, in order to move forward. Many friends who’ve left NY have also made a similar boomerang, and thus, understood my inclination. They also shared that, when they did go back, they soon realized they didn’t belong there anymore. One said, “Get used to it. You think you’re beyond it, you’re enjoying a new life, and then that pang for NYC sneaks up on you unexpectedly, at random times, months, even years later. It never completely goes away.”

Nevertheless, I wanted to catch up in person with the friends I’d been missing so much. I desired some spring romance after months of anticipation. I ached to see how NY would feel again after putting some much needed distance between us. Was I right to leave or would I consider living there again? I thought the only way to know for sure was to go back and trigger some epiphanies. Maybe then I’d finally be able to embrace LA in a way that I’d not yet been able to, if I could just get this out of my system.

But as my departure date crept closer, I attracted answers, and my heart said: This isn’t the right time. I don’t need to go back so soon. I really miss my friends, but they ARE still a part of my life. We talk on the phone all the time. They’ll understand. They’ll come and visit too. Do what’s best for you right now.

So, to my surprise, I’m not ready to go back to NY yet. I don’t need to walk the streets and realize I don’t belong there anymore. I left. I know that already. I don’t need to go back to move forward, I just need to move forward. There are other places on the map that are stirring my wanderlust. I spent the past 5 years in NY. I should venture somewhere else! I want to experience California’s beauty again – take a road trip up the coast, through redwood forests and wine country, up to the Bay Area, visit my west coast friends. I’d love to return to my beloved Hawaii, or go travel somewhere I’ve never been – Bali, Italy, Spain, or ?!

New York will be there. My life in Los Angeles is achieving its own forward momentum and I’m in the midst of a bunch of projects that I’m really enjoying. I’ve only just begun to lay the groundwork and build anew. Stay the course. I need to trust the instincts that encouraged me to move on and pursue uncharted territory.

Reality check: I know I have a bad habit of staying stuck in the past and waiting to see if something might still be there, even when I really know better. I’ve held onto people and places I’ve loved way longer than necessary. I’ve given too much credence to my doubts and engaged in a ton of second-guessing. I’ve put myself through emotionally trying situations only to discover that, yes in fact, that was wrong for me, and damn it, I knew that already!

This is a real opportunity to move forward, full steam ahead. Choosing not to go back to NY means I’m making progress. I’ve officially turned a corner and this is a good sign. Sure, I’ve made the mistake of wasting precious time gazing far too long in the rear view mirror, but now I’m actively focusing on the present, and the future, without dragging myself through the proverbial mud first. Looks like I finally learned that lesson! I guess it just took awhile for my heart to catch up to what my head already knew.

We’re on the cusp of summer here and you know what? It’s high time I give up the struggle! I’m releasing this weird fear of being happy and comfortable in Los Angeles. I’m moving my bi-coastal-curiosity to the back burner. It might stay there permanently; I might opt to stir that pot when I’ve got a new body of work to tour with. Never say never. Right now, California and the Pacific Coast is calling my name and I’m eager to get re-acquainted, sans regrets.

i heart california

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Have you ever thought you needed to revisit the past in order to move forward? Did you ever desire something so whole-heartedly, only to suddenly experience a moment of clarity and completely change course? I’d like 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!

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Artwork by: Nan Lawson. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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101 Things I’ll Miss About NYC

i hug ny

1. WALKING EVERYWHERE
2. Spending quality time with my kick-ass friends
3. Strolls along The High Line
4. Outings to Chelsea Market
5. Art gallery hopping
6. Rambling through Central Park, ending up @ the Roller Disco Dance Party
7. Washington Square Park – The Arch & Fountain; Crazy Piano Guy; street performers & artists; singing tunes & stimulating conversations with strangers
8. Tompkins Square Park – walking through every day on my way home; reading under the big tree; chatting with my neighbors; the dog run scene; lounging on the grass; watching the neighborhood kids play ball
9. Being an artist living in Greenwich Village
10. Being a resident of The East Village
11. My Sunday ritual: coffee, farmers market at 7th & Ave A, composting at the Lower East Side Ecology Garden
12. Alphabet City – Avenues A, B, & C (D not so much)
13. The Lower East Side
14. Being a Downtowner, living in Manhattan
15. Walking in the footsteps of history
16. Photo missions with my camera
17. The sound of jazz in the air
18. My chats with the city on my rooftop
19. The view from the bathtub in my kitchen overlooking the park
20. The best restaurants in the world right outside my doorstep
21. Superb artisanal cocktails served by ridiculously hot bartenders
22. $3.50 6-piece afternoon special from Dumpling Man on St. Mark’s Place
23. Grabbing a slice at South Brooklyn or Artichoke
24. Doughnut Plant
25. My favorite coffee joints, especially Abraco, La Columbe, & 9th St Espresso
26. Browsing local boutiques
27. Bodegas & delis
28. Mom & Pop shops
29. Going for a shvitz at The Russian Turkish Baths on E 10th Street
30. Shaking my booty with my fellow New Yorkers at Dance Parade
31. Riding my bike along the East River to the Governor’s Island ferry
32. Discovering new places that just opened
33. Knowing the perfect spot to go when friends ask
34. Wandering with no particular destination
35. Easy public transit
36. Yellow metrocards
37. Treating myself to a taxi cab ride
38. Sunday nibbling at the New Amsterdam Market
39. Food trucks and park bench picnics
40. Balthazar pastries
41. Sampling my way through Eataly
42. Public art installations, especially in Madison Square Park
43. Traversing 14th Street from river to river
44. Union Square – the epicenter gathering place; the steps; performers; chess players; artists; shopping at the Greenmarket
45. Buskers
46. Earbuds + iPhone: experiencing the city with a soundtrack
47. Fascinating eavesdropping
48. Randomly running into friends
49. Stumbling upon
50. Street fairs
51. Graffiti/street art
52. The murals at the corner of Bowery & Houston
53. Community gardens
54. Fire escapes
55. Cobblestone streets
56. Water towers
57. Broadway marquees
58. Ornate architecture
59. The Empire State & Chrysler Buildings
60. The Flat Iron Building
61. Strolling Fifth Avenue
62. Free Fridays at MoMA
63. Making wishes under the Xmas tree at Rockefeller Center
64. Exploring The Met and having a cocktail on the rooftop
65. Taking the train out to The Rockaways for a beach day
66. No frills, hardcore massages in Chinatown
67. Lounging along the Hudson River after work
68. The sight of the Statue of Liberty in NY Harbor
69. Ferry rides
70. The Manhattan skyline
71. Manhattanhenge
72. The epic feeling of crossing The Brooklyn Bridge
73. Eating @ Smorgasburg and strolling the Williamsburg waterfront
74. The view from the Q train across the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn
75. Exploring the best of Brooklyn
76. Weekend craft fairs
77. Local artists & artisans
78. New Yorkers hailing from all 5 Boroughs
79. Spring flowers
80. Fall foliage
81. Apple cider and hot chocolate on chilly days
82. Cool weather fashion: jacket, scarf, hat, and boots
83. Watching the snow fall outside my window
84. Walking through the streets holding my boyfriend’s hand
85. Catching myself in the midst of my own Carrie Bradshaw moment
86. The men I love(/d)
87. My gay boyfriends
88. The guy who sings “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” to all the ladies
89. Cute sassy dogs and the people who walk them
90. The Halloween Dog Parade
91. The Easter Bonnet Parade
92. Gazing at the Empire State Building from my bed
93. Being inspired by smart, stylish New York women
94. The Occupy Movement
95. Life-changing conversations with stranger angels
96. Feeling like I belong here
97. Living away from home
98. This chapter of my life
99. Having a love affair with NY
100. Being a New Yorker
101. All the things I never did and all the places I never visited

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101 Things I Won’t Miss About NYC

i-love-NY-banksy

1. Fearless rats the size of cats
2. Flying cockroaches
3. Screaming people
4. Dog shit sidewalks
5. Piss puddles
6. Taxi driver funk
7. Piles of hot smelly garbage
8. The mélange of disgusting street smells
9. Deafening sirens
10. Absurdly high rent for teeny tiny apartments
11. How expensive everything is
12. Wall Street arrogance
13. Entitled NYU students
14. Watching NYU execute their 2030 plan to dominate + destroy the Village
15. Being threatened by my nosy landlady
16. The bitchy people I’ve sublet apartments from
17. Not having hot water or heat for days
18. Climbing 5 flights of stairs to my apartment every day
19. Bad water pressure
20. Living with other people’s ugly furniture
21. The smells in the hallway
22. My neighbors slamming their doors
23. My various jobs
24. Always swimming upstream
25. Hustling 24/7
26. Fearing for my safety
27. Lack of personal space
28. The overwhelming desire to flee the city and knowing I can’t
29. “Bag lady syndrome” (i.e. carrying 20 lbs. of crap around with you all day)
30. Dragging my laundry 4 blocks to the closest dirty Laundromat
31. 5+ months of freezing cold winter
32. Dripping with sweat on humid summer days
33. Blizzards and hurricanes
34. An over abundance of beards
35. The urban lumberjack look
36. The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
37. St. Patrick’s Day drunk-a-palooza
38. The non-stop party
39. Angry drunk fucks
40. Dumb drunk chicks who can’t walk in their high heels
41. Dumb drunk identical jocks who roam in packs
42. People passed out on the street with their pants down
43. A culture that revolves around alcohol
44. Puke puddles
45. The unmistakable stench of death
46. Crusty punks and their poor dogs
47. Walking up the subway stairs behind guys with saggy ass jeans
48. Tourists who block the sidewalk
49. Feeling lonely in a crowd of people
50. Subway train claustrophobia
51. The looks on people’s faces commuting to/from work
52. Being forced to listen to people’s boring cell phone conversations
53. People who do extremely inappropriate things on the subway
54. Being stuck inside subway train
55. Gropers
56. Wanting to pass out in the subway station due to heat/smell on a hot day
57. Waiting for buses that never come on schedule
58. Rude bus drivers who refuse to let you on after they’ve closed the door
59. Not having money left on my Metrocard when I go to get on the bus
60. The MTA
61. The NYPD
62. Mayor Bloomberg
63. ConEd
64. Time Warner Cable
65. The opening of yet another Subway, 7-11, and Duane Reade
66. The slow gentrification and de-personalization of neighborhoods
67. Ben Shaoul’s destruction of the Village/Lower Manhattan
68. Realizing another beloved place has gone out of business
69. The desperation in the air
70. Seeing other people cry in public
71. No longer giving a shit if people see me cry in public
72. The woman who screams “JOEY!” at the top of her lungs
73. That horrible dog who barks like he’s being strangled
74. Being asked for money every five feet
75. Flippant beggar signs
76. Rampant racism
77. An abundance of inconsiderate assholes
78. Being chased down the street by crazy freaks
79. The risk of being robbed for my iPhone again
80. Daily stories about people dying from being hit by the train
81. Daily stories about people being murdered where I just was
82. Unfathomable fatigue
83. Workaholic men with too many options
84. Annoying “salon deal” salespeople who insinuate your hair looks awful
85. People who insist on talking to you when you’re wearing earbuds
86. Crowds that make you want to kill someone (or yourself)
87. Slow walkers
88. Clueless tourists with their maps and big cameras
89. People who can’t seem walk and talk at the same time
90. People who take pictures of squirrels in the park
91. Fighting the hoards while shopping at Trader Joe’s on 14th St
92. The black soot on my feet after wearing sandals all day
93. Bed bug phobia
94. Random blood stains
95. The queasy feeling I get around Ground Zero of the WTC
96. The fishy smell of Chinatown
97. Waiting an hour and half for a table
98. Spending $80 for dinner and leaving hungry
99. Snooty wait staff at overpriced restaurants
100. The state of most public restrooms
101. That nagging feeling I don’t belong here

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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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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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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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Eye For Style’s Escape to Brooklyn

As soon as it appeared in my inbox, I knew this adventure would be right up my alley. The folks at Urban Oyster Tours had kindly invited me for lunch and a 3-hour tour of Brooklyn, to explore where its culinary and agricultural worlds collide. Frankly, they had me at hello with talk of ‘experiencing the entire farm-to-table journey of my food’ and seduced with promises of taking me straight to the heart of Brooklyn’s most unique food destinations, to sample and speak with the creative entrepreneurs behind them. Twist my arm? Not likely.

To my surprise, not only was the tour destined to be chock full of local artisanal eats, but we had multiple guides for the day – Bob Lewis (local historian, founder of NYC Greenmarkets, and Special Assistant at NY State Agriculture & Markets), David Naczycz and Cindy VandenBosch (founders of Urban Oyster), and Caylin Sanders (founder of local travel web portal, EscapeMaker.com). Each were a veritable wealth of information about Brooklyn’s myriad riches – its food and architecture; neighborhoods, people, and cultural traditions; agriculture and urban planning initiatives – past and present.

We met up at Skylight One Hanson, one jaw-dropping landmark of art deco magnificence, perhaps better known as the former Williamsburg Savings Bank, and current winter home of the Brooklyn Flea, which now serves as a prime events location for hire year round. As we jitneyed to our first destination via “The Good Bus”, we got the scoop on what Urban Oyster is all about:

“The name comes from the legend that New York Harbor once contained half the world’s oysters. Over time though, most of the beds died off due to pollution and over-consumption”, David explained. “Like oysters, the neighborhoods of New York are treasured resources that require nurturing in order to survive and flourish. We seek to reveal the hidden pearls of this great city – the neighborhoods, people, and businesses that are uniquely New York. We aim to connect people to these special places through their stories and history, in an effort to support and value local production, consumption, cultural diversity, historic preservation, and sustainability for the benefit of generations to come.”

Given my unbridled obsession with NYC local food & drink culture, coupled with my family’s business of historic preservation, such excursions are tailor-made for culinary architecture geeks like me. I ventured repeatedly to Smorgasburg and New Amsterdam Market last summer, both weekend outdoor markets where you can snap up local artisanal goods, fresh produce & ingredients, and literally sample everything under the sun, as you chat directly with the people who make the things you’re eating, in picturesque locales along either side of the East River.

And Urban Oyster Tours are another opportunity to do the exact same thing. They take you straight to the cooks’ kitchen and give you a comprehensive history lesson ‘mise en place’. They offer a variety of expertly crafted outings – “Eat Like a Local” through Boerum Hill; “Mom & Pop Shops” in Cobble Hill; “Food Carts” of Lower Manhattan; “Immigrant Foodways” in Williamsburg; and their most popular “Brewed in Brooklyn” and “Craft Beer Crawl” which combine a lesson in local beer making techniques with the best part – tasting! Sip your IPA, on the site it was made, while you chat up the brewer? That’s refreshingly rare.

You can get on board with regularly scheduled tours or arrange a private tour of your own. Either or, it’s an entertaining way to show your out-of-town guests how the natives do it, and for locals, it’s a delicious opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and learn more about the vast expanse of your own backyard. It’s so easy to become a creature of habit in your own city and re-visit the same old haunts time after time, but these tours can provide a fresh perspective to the same old stomping grounds, pointing out places you might otherwise miss.

If you’ve lived in the NYC during the last 5 years and have even a mild interest in food culture, chances are you’ve participated in the endless debate as to which borough is the true epicenter of culinary arts – Manhattan or Brooklyn? Manhattan certainly makes a compelling case for itself, as farm-to-table restaurants from celebrity chefs like Dan Barber, Dan Kluger, David Bouley, and Mike Price steadily increase in popularity and rooftop farm initiatives gain steam. Brooklyn is a venerable mecca for foodies in its own right though, and many would simply argue it’s the borough that represents the best of NYC food culture, period.

It’s certainly where the small batch, artisanal, locally made, grown, and sourced movement has sunk its deepest roots at present. While Manhattan is the birthplace of Occupy Wall Street, Brooklyn is at the epicenter of another social revolution – locavorism – and is pro-actively re-positioning itself as THE food and agro-tourism destination you must visit. Great strides are being made in just about every neighborhood enclave to return to their roots of food cultivation and production. There’s been a virtual explosion of urban gardening and community revitalization projects, such as The Brooklyn Grange, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, and Added Value, all of whom are committed to getting people re-invested in their communities and the joys of volunteerism. We’re witnessing a revival of the love affair between foodies and farmers, and the people who make speciality foods are being recognized for their important contributions to the social fabric of the city’s culture again. We’re finding ways to revamp cultural traditions of the past, with a fresh twist that suits our modern lifestyles.

The first stop on our BK Foodways tour was Moore Street Market, one of the few remaining public markets designed during the LaGuardia era as a sanitary alternative to the pushcart vending culture prevalent during the early turn of the century. Our guides provided us with a comprehensive history of the market, complete with historic photographs and fascinating anecdotes, painting a picture of then and now, as well as briefing us on the upcoming urban planning improvements, including a landscaped outdoor public plaza on Humboldt Street, scheduled for completion in Summer 2013. We walked around the market’s interior, meeting several of the long time vendors who treated us to homemade horchata, corn pupusas, and a special tea remedy, made from ingredients native to her family’s homeland in Pueblo, Mexico.

Then, it was off to Roberta’s Pizza for lunch. Housed in an unassuming cinder block structure, with zero curb appeal in an industrial section of East Williamburg, we entered to discover an enormous wood-burning oven as the centerpiece of their open kitchen, which we later learned literally took the slow boat from Italy to Brooklyn. The place is super rustic, with long picnic tables and benches; a small wood bar with a bevy of local beers and a clever cocktail menu scrawled on the chalkboard overhead; and an enclosed outdoor patio heated by a wood-burning furnace, that stares directly into the Heritage Radio Network station which broadcasts 24/7. The crowd is very, well, Brooklyn – local locals, each with their own signature mustache or coiffed beard, complimenting their casual vintage wear and quirky-rimmed glasses. I watched the process as they hand fired our pizzas to bubbly perfection, then topped with veg grown in their roof top garden (or at the nearby BK Grange) and meats sourced at the local butcher shop. We sat down to the communal table, first devouring the fresh margherita, then several more mouthwatering kale and homemade Berkshire sausage pies. A heaven you’d never know existed…

Then, we traveled to over to Brooklyn Winery, a beautiful space in the heart of Williamsburg, utilizing re-purposed wood, recycled furniture, found objects and memorabilia to create one warm, inviting place to imbibe away the hours and socialize with other connoisseurs. We were privileged to receive a glimpse behind the scenes, touring the space where they age their varietals in barrels stacked ceiling high. Their one-and-only winemaker, Conor McCormack, happened to be on site bottling and corking a few cases of a new Cab Sav, so we got to watch and then taste it, as we chatted with him in the intimate event space upstairs. The duo owners, Brian Leventhal and John Stires, who left unfulfilling, but lucrative positions in finance to follow their passion for wine and create a space that they themselves would want to hang out in with their friends, also mingled with us. We asked all kinds of questions, and they answered every single one, from where they got the furniture, to the grapes; how they design their labels and acquired such a desirable location; to the types of events they have on offer and their vision for the future. Ridiculously centrally located near Bedford Avenue on N 8th Street, with a spectacularly unique wine menu and lots of comfortably designed nooks to chill in, this is the place you want to spend a mellow Friday night, come for a workshop or a tasting, or host an intimate shindig of your own.

Finally, it was over to Brooklyn Farmacy in Carroll Gardens, a lovingly restored, 1920’s era soda fountain. Brought back to life by brother and sister team, Peter Freeman and Gia Giasullo, for a Discovery Channel reality TV renovation series, it’s a quintessential old gem that makes you think you’ve stepped back in time. Children came in with their parents to have a scoop of ice cream at the counter after school, grandparents read books to grandkids off the shelves of their library, and a group played board games on the big table in the back room. We were treated to traditional chocolate and vanilla egg creams, as the owners shared priceless stories about the history of the space, the condition they found it in, and how they went to great lengths to make it their own while attempting to remain true to the neighborhood. This joint manages to strike the perfect balance between family-friendly cute and edgy Brooklyn “Jerk”. You can buy more than 2 dozen locally made products from different BK artisans, proudly displayed in the Farmacy’s original wooden built ins. Lucky for you out-of-towners, these delicacies can be purchased online at With Love, From Brooklyn and NY Mouth.

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As the tour came to a close, I had a very heartwarming feeling that history has not been lost, but in fact, there are many people committed to preserving the stories and places that make these diverse neighborhoods truly one-of-a-kind. The culinary traditions of the past are alive and well for the current generations to appreciate, if you put yourself in capable hands and know where to look. As the afternoon sun began to dip behind the trees, I sat outside on the Farmacy’s bench chatting with a few old men from the ‘hood about how life used to be and how things haved changed. I commiserated, with an understanding nod and an appreciation for their perspective, but also with joy in my heart that pearls like these still exist for me and hopefully, my children to experience. It may not be like it used to, but perhaps there’s still hope, that eventually we can make city living even better for the future.

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Want to learn more about Urban Oyster Tours straight from the founders?
Sample goodies from these very same artisans yourself?
Get ideas for local culinary tours and travel destinations?

Head to: Escapemaker.com’s Local Food & Travel Expo
Saturday, April 14 from 12 – 5 pm
@ Skylight One Hanson

And be sure to check out all these places and more on my “Best of Culinary Brooklyn” Eye For Style map!

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Introducing: Eye For Style Services

Welcome to Eye For Style Services, a personal concierge service for all your dining, entertainment, shopping, and travel needs! I love turning other savvy souls onto my favorite things, creating memorable moments, 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…

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!

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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Eye For Style’s Favorites of 2011

Alas, it’s the end of another year, and the perfect time to look back and reflect on the people, places, and things that most captured our fancy.

I’m so honored that Photoshelter named me one of their staff’s favorite photographers for 2011 and plan to include me in their line-up of featured photographers for January 2012. In keeping with that same spirit, I thought I’d compile a list of some of my 2011 favorites to share with you. While a few of these events have come and gone, a majority of these recommendations are still going strong, and can be enjoyed well into 2012. Lucky you, it’s shaping up to be an awesome new year already!

Favorite musical find: The Hot Sardines, Yuna, Jaymay

Favorite go-to album: Adele 21; Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

Favorite concerts: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Escape to NY; Ray La Montagne at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park

Favorite movie: The Artist; Bill Cunningham New York

Favorite gallery show: Aaron Johnson @ Stux; Stephanie Gutheil @ Mike Weiss

Favorite museum exhibit: Alexander McQueen at The Met; Maurizio Cattelan at The Guggenheim

Favorite architectural event: Open House NY; GVSHP Spring House Tour; MAS NYC Programs

Favorite art festival: Festival of New Ideas; Bring to Light; HOWL Festival; Figment on Governor’s Island

Favorite food festival: Smorgasburg; Union Square GreenmarketMadison Square Eats

Favorite food event: Edible Manhattan’s Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge

Favorite food truck: Sweetery NYC; Korilla BBQ; Wafels & Dinges

Favorite brunch: Northern Spy Food Co., WestvilleTartine; Back Forty

Favorite dinners: David Burke KitchenGoat TownTakahachi; Cask

Favorite coffee: La Colombe; Blue BottleHampton Chutney‘s cardamom coffee

Favorite bakery: Jane’s Sweet BunsZucker Bakers; Veniero’s Pasticceria; Ceci-Cela Patisserie

Favorite cupcake: Chickalicious; Butter Lane

Favorite mid-afternoon snack: Dumpling Man; People’s Pops; Pomme Frites

Favorite cheap eat: South Brooklyn Pizza; Tacombi; AsiaDog

Favorite sandwich: Num Pang; Barnyard; Mamoun’s

Favorite burger: Whitman’s; Royale; Korzo Haus

Favorite ice cream: Big Gay Ice Cream; Cool Haus

Favorite cocktail spot: Masak; The Beagle; Summit Bar

Favorite wine bar: Terroir; Grape & Grain; The Immigrant; Aria

Favorite cheese shop: Saxelby Cheesemongers @ Essex Market; Bedford Cheese Shop

Favorite gift boutique: Still House; Exit 9; Alphabets; Mxyplyzyk Inc.

Favorite accessories boutique: Barbara Feinman Millinery; Shape of Lies

Favorite clothing boutique: pinkyotto; Cloak & Dagger; Honey in the Rough; Pas de Deux

Favorite home decor: Jonathan AdlerKabinet & Kammer; Lancelotti Housewares; White Trash

Favorite kitchenware depot: Broadway PanhandlerThe Meat Hook

Favorite bookstore: St. Mark’s Bookshop; Three Lives & Co.; Strand; LES Tenement Museum

Favorite stroll: Section 2 of The Highline; East River esplanades; The Ramble

Favorite yoga studio: Integral Yoga Institute; Laughing Lotus Center

Favorite day spa: Russian Turkish BathsMama Spa

Favorite new tech gadget: Roku 2; iPad 2

Favorite thing about NYC: EVERYTHING!

For more information about my very favorite places throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, be sure to check out my handy-dandy Eye For Style maps.

Need a recommendation for that perfect gift or restaurant for that special occasion? Check out my Eye For Style Services page.

In the meantime, wishing you a Happy 2012 full of urban adventures, art explorations, good eats, shopping scores, ample playtime, and so much more!

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Best of Local Holiday Shopping in NYC & Brooklyn

More than ever, I think it’s really important to support local artists, craftsman, and designers during the holiday season. Visiting independent holiday markets and pop-up shops is not only fun, it’s a sure fire way to find gifts that are are completely unique, and so much more personally tailored to your loved one’s tastes and interests. No big box retailer in the mall, selling mass-produced crap from China, can compete with that!

Some of the very best local holiday markets are happening this weekend, so I’ve compiled a handy-dandy list of my favorite events to make your shopping a little less stressful, and a little more festive. Fingers crossed, you’ll get all those purchases out of the way in one fell swoop, so you can move on to the most enjoyable activities – cooking and spending time with the people you adore!

 

The Brooklyn Flea

Skylight One Hanson @ Ashland Pl., Ft. Greene

12/16, 2 – 9; 12/17 + 18, 10 – 5; 12/21 + 22, 2 – 9

If you can’t tick everything off your list at this one location, you’re officially a glutton for Christmas shopping punishment. If you like feeding all your birds with one seed, and getting the madness over with in one easy rip, head to The Flea immediately. This event is really the best of both worlds, merging the food purveyors from Saturday’s Smorgasburg, with the clothing, craft, and vintage treasure vendors of Sunday’s BK Flea. Thankfully, they are all co-mingling under one spectacular roof for the winter, at the architectural gem that is Skylight One Hanson, formerly the Williamsburg Savings Bank. It’s worth a visit just to see the gorgeous landmark’s interior, but with 100+ vendors lining the former teller windows on the ground floor, secret rooms on the upstairs mezzanine, and the original bank vault on the lower level brimming with an impressive food court and seating area, this is as good as local holiday shopping experiences are likely to get.

Best plan of attack? Start your shopping day here with a little coffee, breakfast noshing, and browsing. Do a full lap around to check out all that’s on offer, before heading back to your favorite vendors for those all too perfect gifts for you-know-exactly-who. Once you’ve had your fill, make your way over for the evening festivities at:

 

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar

149 Kent Ave, between N 5th & N 6th, Williamsburg

12/15 – 12/17, 5 pm – 1 am

This triple threat, grub-shop-party event pops up in a huge warehouse space this weekend only. The 3-day event, designed specially by JDS Architects, is guaranteed to be one happening spot, bursting at the seams with shopping, food, music, film, and art installations. Many of the food vendors are familiar faces from Smorgasburg, but seeing as Brooklyn has no shortage of culinary talent, dozens of other esteemed BK food scene luminaries will also be on hand to sweeten the pot, along side several local wineries and breweries. 60+ artist merchants will be peddling their crafty wares, as a handful of musical acts take to the stage, including DJ James Murphy (DFA/LCD Soundsystem) and The Hold Steady. Admission to TBNB is free, food is modestly priced, while tickets for the live performances can be purchased separately for $10 – $22. For a complete line-up of participating talent, and to purchase tickets, visit: http://bkbazaar.com

 

While you’re shop-crawling around Williamsburg, drop by Artists & Fleas Designer and Vintage Market (70 N 7th Street, every Sat & Sun, 10 am – 7 pm) to visit some of my very favorite artist merchants in the NYC area, housed all in one convenient indoor location, year-round since 2003. Affordable and cool gifts abound here: jewelry galore, chunky knit accessories, funky vintage & modern threads, one-of-a-kind handmade journals, decorative art, and much more.

If making the trip out to Brooklyn just isn’t your thing, you’re in luck because they’re bringing 30+ of their most stylish vendors to the heart of Manhattan for:

The Artists & Fleas Holiday Pop-Up Shop @ Chelsea Market

10th Avenue @ 15th Street

12/15 – 12/31, 10:30 am – 7:30 pm

Located in a never before seen, 4000 sq. ft. industrial space in Chelsea Market, this pop-up is a perfect destination for all your holiday shopping needs. You’ll undoubtedly find a cornucopia of handmade goodies by A&F’s cream of the crop. The full-time tenants of Chelsea Market, formerly the Nabisco Biscuit Co. Headquarters, have tons on offer as well – Morroccan home decor, kitchenware, gourmet food products, books, and more. Take a load off and stop for: a coffee at Ninth Street Espresso; a creamy cold treat from Arte Del Gelato or Ronnybrook Farms; a wicked hot chocolate a la Jacques Torres; baked goods from Amy’s Bread or Eleni’s. Choose from: Thai or Italian; California cuisine or NY farm-to-table; sushi from the seafood market or charcuterie from Dickson’s Farmstand; or a soup/salad combo from Hale & Hearty. The options are endless. The building is conveniently nestled directly beneath The High Line, along the picturesque Hudson River waterfront, and at the crossroads of the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and West Village shopping districts, making it a must stroll destination area.

So, after you’ve enjoyed the Artists & Fleas pop-up, had a bite in Chelsea Market, taken a jaunt along The High Line and through the fashionable MPD, make your way east a few blocks to round out your shopping adventures with a visit to:

 

The Union Square Holiday Market

14th Street between Broadway and University Place

11/24 – 12/24; M-F: 11-8; Sat: 10-9; Sun: 10-6

This has been my go-to holiday shopping destination for the last several years running, despite the fact that it can be a claustrophobic zoo, packed with wide-eyed tourists all day long. Nevertheless, I do enjoy meandering through the maze of red & white, candy cane striped tents, browsing and sampling, and intermittenly stopping for a hot chocolate or apple cider to warm up. I confess that this year, the market feels as if it’s lost a bit of its magic. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been to it several times before, and there aren’t as many new vendors participating. Cool pop-ups have been increasingly the rage throughout 2011, so organizers really have to up-the-ante to keep things interesting, especially for resident shoppers. A lot of this year’s fine artists in particular look rather identical to each other, though I do dig the NYC cityscape themed art that seems to adorn every canvas, leather clutch, tote bag, t-shirt, greeting card, or surface that one can manage to print a digital image on.

I do have a few absolute favorite vendors that I consider to be real stand outs, who lure me back again and again to buy items that have become a part of my personal holiday traditions.

My favorite gift vendors are: COPA Soaps’ intoxicating essential oil infused, heaven-scented bars of skin softening, shea-buttery magic that smell good enough to eat; Nirvanna Designs’ warm and stylish line of crochet/knit hats, gloves, and outerwear, made with high quality wools and lined with super soft fleece; DeLong Ceramics’ decorative tiles and hanging ornaments featuring the iconic landmarks of NYC/BK; Edie Art’s whimsical, colorful paintings depicting the magic of child’s play against the backdrop of NY cityscapes; Shaya’s stunning line of simple, geometric, handmade jewelry that artfully mixes elements of sterling silver, gold, and copper.

My favorite food vendors are: Brooklyn Salsa Co.’s line-up of palate-pleasing, kick ass salsas, consciously prepared utilizing a rather unique combination of sophisicated flavor profiles, with local sustainable ingredients, each cleverly named to represent 1 of the 5 boroughs; Spices and Tease’s beautiful rainbow of exotic, ethnic spices and nose tantalizing herb/flower/tea blends; No Chewing Allowed’s exquisite, melt on your tongue, premium French truffles and steamy hot chocolate.

If you’re still craving more shopping after all that, I should probably take your credit card away from you (or ask you to be my sugar daddy). That said, should you be interested in visiting other local holiday markets, in more neighborhoods throughout the city, I suggest you check out Destination Guides’ equally comprehensive list.

May you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and have a blast doing so. Wishing you and yours a most happy holiday season and a grand New Year of the Dragon 2012!

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