Tag Archives: New York City

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…

… but it will be seen all over the streets of New York City!

I’ve been a passionate lover and documentarian of street art for many years now, who is frequently stopped dead in my tracks when a new poster, stencil, or sticker suddenly catches my eye. I love when I see a new work of art on a sidewalk, wall, or lamppost that makes me smile, think, or both. I adore street art for the color and creativity it adds to public space, and admire those ballsy artists who exercise their freedom of expression by utilizing the city streets as their canvas, turning our communities into museums for the masses, under the cover of darkness. Street art is thankfully accessible to everyone and a real reflection of what’s going on in our culture at its deepest roots. In its most elevated forms, street art beautifies and transforms otherwise bland, cookie-clutter urban landscapes with exciting splashes of color, capturing the attention of passersby with wit and whimsy, shock and style.

Over the past several months, I’ve observed a definite change in the tone and topic of  New York City street art, with an increasing slant towards bold, in-your-face, political backlash, and socially conscious commentary. The following slideshow highlights some of the best pieces I’ve stumbled across in my city sojourns lately:

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If you’re interested in seeing more, please visit my street art photography gallery here. I also particularly dig the work featured on Brooklyn Street Art and Street Art Utopia, which provide great eye candy right to your news feed via their Facebook pages.

Street art is an excellent gauge of our social temperature, so it’s not surprising that given recent current events, our city’s streets are mirroring the people’s increasing outrage towards the out of control culture of corporate greed, our plunging economy, the death of the American dream, our government’s dysfunctional paralysis, and its seeming unwillingness to do much of anything about all of the above.

Artists are often the first to speak out on such issues, and born of out of this widespread frustration, outspoken civic-minded street art has become more prevalent. As a sign of the times, this rise has beautifully intersected with the Occupy Wall Street movement, encouraging the other 99% of Americans to take to the streets and speak out about the variety of cultural injustices we’re facing, despite daily opposition from the NYPD and local government agencies.

At first, the mainstream media all but ignored what had been taking shape in Lower Manhattan. As it’s become clear that the protesters are gaining in numbers and clearly not going away, the right-wing media in particular has spun the story to portray an “unfocused hippie circus”, rather than a legitimate, empowered social movement. Nevertheless, the cause continues to gather momentum and support with each passing day. It will be fascinating to see how it evolves as the year draws to a close.

If you’re dissatisfied with the depth or lack of media coverage the movement has been garnering, and interested in learning more about the national Occupy America movement, I suggest tuning into a handful of less well known media outlets that seem to be reporting on the revolution with a more evolved, thoughtful perspective. They include: Occupy Wall Street (on FB); RT TV America; NPR; and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Nation recently published a great breakdown of FAQ regarding OWS, which also addressed Adbusters involvement in the cause. The Huffington Post has even added a very comprehensive page, dedicated solely to OWS on its website, with the byline “Some News Is So Big It Needs Its Own Page”.

In the meantime, give another listen to Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 protest song, which feels as timely as ever… though one might adapt it for modern times to say, “The Revolution will not be televised. It will not be tweeted, uploaded to You Tube, or become your friend on Facebook. The Revolution will not be digitized.”

Or will it?

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Where Madison Square Eats meets Eataly

At: 5th Avenue & 23rd Street, New York City

When: September 23 – October 21, 11am – 9pm

Madison Square Eats returns to Worth Square once again this fall, on the heels of a very successful summer 2011 trial run. Bringing together diverse tastes of some of the city’s best restaurants and bakeries, this gastronomic hub is a must visit for foodies and eaters alike, with plenty of outdoor seating nestled between Madison Square Park, the crossroads of bustling Broadway and 5th Avenue, at the foot of the famously picturesque Flatiron Building.

Participating eateries for fall include: Almond, Asiadog, Bar Suzette, The Cannibal, Fatty Snack, Graffiti/Mehtaphor, Hong Kong Street Cart, Hot Blondies Bakery, ilili, Junoon, Macaron Parlour, The Milk Truck, Momofuku Milk Bar, Nunu Chocolates, Perfect Picnic, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Roberta’s Pizza, Robicelli’s, Sigmund’s, Spices & Tease, Stuffed Artisan Cannolis, and Wafels & Dinges.

You can easily make an afternoon siesta of it, sampling the goodies of multiple vendors without feeling as though you’re going to burst at the seams, if you follow Eye For Style’s tried-and-true plan of attack: Begin with a couple of lunch courses at MSE2. Head directly across the street for a leisurely stroll around the park. Wonder why so many people are waiting in that long line at Shake Shack. Find a good bench to cop a squat, people watch and read the paper. Have a nice long conversation, with a stranger or your chosen companion. When you’re ready to move on, take a field trip over to Eataly! This barely year old, 50,000 sq. ft. space is part gourmet megamarket, part upscale restaurant food court/wine bar, part bookstore and specialty kitchenware emporium, part culinary school. It’s the well-conceived baby from a menage a trois of New York super-chefs, Mario Bataly, Joe and Lidia Bastianich. Their European partner, Oscar Farinetti, founded the original Eataly, located in Turin, Italy.

Hit the main floor, wandering around in awe and delight, to your hearts content. If the weather is lovely, head up to the Birreria and partake in a speciality craft beer, brewed right on Eataly’s very own rooftop, as you admire one spectacular view of Gramercy and Chelsea. Your thirst now sufficiently quenched, head back downstairs and fill your basket with all the delectibles you can’t bear to leave without – exotic fruits and veg from the produce market; tasty antipasto, charcuterie, crudo, and cheese from La Piazza for a light supper; and don’t forget a few goodies from Pasticceria for tomorrow’s breakfast! If you’re experiencing a bit of a food coma by now, pop by Caffé Lavazza or Vergnano, Eataly’s TWO espresso bars, to put a little pep in your step with a freshly ground cappuccino, before heading back outside to Worth Square for round #2 of MS Eats.

Now that your appetite for Italian cuisine has officially been whet, you’re gonna want to check out Eataly’s website for their extensive calendar of upcoming cooking classes with legendary NYC celebri-chefs. There’s so much going on at this food lover’s paradise, you can return again and again, without even beginning to stratch the surface of all the culinary offerings on hand.

Now that’s amore!

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The Poffertjes Man

I opted to stay in the city over the holiday weekend, so I decided it might be a good idea to venture down to the Hester Street Fair in search of yummy eats, minus the hoardes of visitors that the fair typically attracts during the other summer weekends. It was an excellent call, as I was actually able to walk through the relatively small slice of prime Lower East Side park space and leisurely chat with all the vendors, as I sampled their artisanal goodies.

My favorite find of the day was, hands down, The Poffertjes Man. I lingered for quite awhile as Brett, the Man, made one round after another of these delightful little bite-size Dutch pancakes right before my very eyes. His wife, a total sweetheart with the gift of gab, mans the table with a friendly, inviting air, answering questions and gently inspiring onlookers to give this fairly uncommon treat a try, though these babies really sell themselves. They are recent transplants to the city and their passion for sharing poffertjes, and participating in NYC street food culture in general, is instantly apparent once you start to chat.

On this particular Saturday, they were serving up plain poffertjes – with a heaping  dollup of real butter and powdered sugar – as well as “monkey style” – with sliced banana and a thick pour of Costa Rican chocolate on top. Hell yes.

I went for the plain version, so I could really get a good taste of the pancake on my first foray. I’ll definitely be back for more in the coming weeks, as they serve different variations every weekend, including strawberry or lingonberry, depending on what’s fresh and currently in season.

The Poffertjes Man

Hester Street Fair @ Essex St., between Grand & Canal

Lower East Side, NYC

Every Saturday 10 am – 6 pm 

Through October 2011

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HOWL! FESTIVAL 2011

June 3, 4 & 5

Tompkins Square Park

The East Village, NYC

FREE

Two Stages ~ Three Days

Poetry! Music! Dance! Art Around the Park!

Brought to you by HOWL! Arts and the East Village/Lower East Side community renowned for its sense of adventure, creative excellence, and cutting edge performance!

This will be a live action, participatory weekend-long event involving 140 artists of all ages. An 8-foot high, 900-foot long blank canvas encircling the exterior of Tompkins Square Park will transform into an explosion of color and creativity! There will also be music and dance performances, poetry readings, a kids’ arts carnival, and more!

For more than a century, the East Village has been home to poets, jazz musicians, Vaudeville and Yiddish theatre, artists represented by blue chip galleries and those painting in the subways, rock stars, and performance artists. Building on this tradition and inspired by long time East Village resident, Allen Ginsberg‘s epic poem, the HOWL! Festival was founded in 2003. The mission of HOWL! Festival is to honor, develop, create and produce. With an estimated 100,000 visitors last year, the many performances celebrate local cultural icons and lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.

Late poet–philosopher, Allen Ginsberg, was a lifelong spokesperson for peace, justice, and freedom of expression. HOWL! Arts Inc., the umbrella for all things HOWL!, exemplifies the uninhibited, spirited, iconoclastic, and irreverent embrace of Ginsberg’s artistic invention. HOWL! Arts claims this legacy – as home to “the best minds” of successive generations – to inspire and galvanize new artists and audiences.

HOWL! Arts aspires to give the public, both young and old, the tools to join in the creative process and to experience first hand the high value of a creative life, the heritage of social history and the quality of contemporary culture which are the signatures of this vital community. HOWL! Arts Project embraces the entire downtown community whose original perspectives have altered the landscape of fashion, art, music, theater, poetry and dance worldwide.

So, come participate and experience this colorful community for yourself, all weekend long! What do YOU want to say and create?

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Eat & Booze For a Good Cause

Times are tough, no question. The world is changing rapidly. Millions of people are in the midst of a daily struggle to survive. We are facing an overwhelming amount of devastating crises, both at home and abroad. We want to help, but don’t know where to start sometimes.

Food is one of the only common denominators in this world, across every culture, country, language, and religion, that truly brings people together. Breaking bread is a sacred experience. Sharing a meal creates lasting bonds. We demonstrate our love and respect through the food we serve to others. We can be of service to others by making wise choices about where and what we consume.

Luckily, there are an abundance of terrific opportunities to put your money where your mouth is this month. I’ve compiled a short list of the tastiest happenings, from coast to coast, so you can eat well for a good cause. If you know of other simpatico events, please feel free to comment with info and links, so we can all contribute to uplifting our global community.

 

Dine Out for Japan Relief: March 23 – 30, 2011

APA @NBC Universal is proud to partner with AZIX, Japanese American Association, New York State Restaurant Association, FEED and the restaurant industry for “Dine out for Japan Relief”.  For one week, participating restaurants will donate a portion of their profits to the Red Cross. A donation of 5%* from every breakfast, lunch and dinner meal will go toward disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami through the Pacific.

@ PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS:

ABC Kitchen • Aburiya Kinnosuke • Alice’s Tea Cups • Asia de Cuba • Bar Basque

Bar Italia • Bogota Bistro 
• Brasserie Ruhlmann • Captain Bill’s • Carte Blanche

Cha-An • China Grill • Choshi • Crabtree’s Kittle House 
• Curry-Ya • Decibel

Ed’s Chowder House • The Empire Hotel Rooftop • FoodParc • Hakata Tonton

Havana Central • Hasaki 
• Ippudo NY • Jack the Horse Tavern • Jojo • Ko Sushi

Le Colonial Restaurant • Madison • The Mark Restaurant 
• The Mercer Kitchen

North Square Restaurant Orsay • Otafuku PDT • Perry St • Plunge
• Rai Rai Ken

Robataya • Sakagura • SD26 • Shabu-tatsu • Shimizu • Sobaya • Soba Totto

Sugar Bun Bakery 
• Tanuki Tavern • Telepan • Totto Ramen • Yakitori Totto

For more details, please visit:
www.nysra.org/DineOutforJapan

 

Fry for Life: March 16, 2011 –

@ Terroir Tribeca, 24 Harrison St. (at Greenwich St.); 212-625-9463.

& Terroir East Village, 413 E. 12th St. (at First Ave.)

Both Terroir wine bars are raising money for Japan relief one $6 plate of ginger-garlic-soy fried chicken at a time. All proceeds from the chicken go toward Doctors Without Borders in Japan. The recipe for these super crisp and juicy boneless chicken thighs is the same one that Yoshi Nonaka, a line cook at Hearth, uses for staff meals.


NY Vintners: March 24 – 30, 2011

@ 21 Warren Street, New York; 212.812.3999

100% of sales proceeds on all sake wine bottles will be donated to Japanese Earthquake Relief. For store hours and more information: http://www.newyorkvintners.com/


Brewers for Brewers Benefit: March 28, 2011; 7 – 10 pm

Brooklyn Brewery, 79 N. 11th St., Brooklyn; 718-486-7422 or goodbeerseal.com

New York-area brewers Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn Brewery, Heartland and Empire Brewing Co., team up with The Meat Hook for food, suds and a silent auction to raise money to aid their Japanese counterparts, the Kiuchi Brewery (makers of Hitachino), and other earthquake-damaged sake and beer breweries

Click here to purchase tickets.

 

The Village Voice’s Choice Eats: March 29, 2011; 6:30 – 9:30 pm

@ 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue, 68 Lexington Ave @ 26th Street, NYC


 

The Village Voice proudly presents their fourth annual curated Choice Eats tasting event. Handpicked restaurants and food trucks from all five boroughs featured in The Village Voice reviews are represented, along with complimentary craft beer pairings, wine and liquor-laced cocktails. A portion of the Choice Eats ticket sales will be donated to this year’s charitable partner, Slow Food NYC, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to achieving a good, clean, and fair food system.

For the complete list of participating restaurants and to purchase tickets, click here.

 

Punch Party for Japan: Monday April 11, 2011; 7 pm -

@ Summit Bar, 133 Ave C, New York

Show your support for Japan and enjoy some top-shelf punches in the process at this benefit going down at East Village’s best cocktail haunt, Summit Bar. Spirit brands like Pernod Absinthe, Beefeater and Belvedere have teamed up with mixologist, Greg Seider, to create six concoctions featuring Japan-inspired ingredients. Your $20 ticket (pay at the door) goes straight to the Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund, and it scores you bottomless glasses of punch all evening. Whiskey lovers can also support the Yamazaki whiskey distillery by purchasing neat pours ($10) and whiskey cocktails ($12) while jamming to tunes from DJ Kimiko Masuda.

 

Taste of the Lower East Side – April 28, 2011;   7 – 10:30 pm

82 Mercer @ Spring Street, New York; 917.639.5850

This year’s 11th annual Taste of the Lower East Side will proudly feature the signature dishes from over 50 neighborhood restaurants and an all-night open bar of specialty cocktails. Benefiting the Grand Street Settlement, proceeds will be used to fund programs and services for Lower East Side community residents of all ages – from toddlers to teens, senior citizens and families.

This event was born in 2000 when a pioneering group of young professionals saw the neighborhood’s burgeoning restaurant scene as a terrific cultural resource and rallied the culinary community to help raise sorely needed funds to support the Grand Street Settlement’s various programs. The now yearly event has since enabled local restaurants, food lovers, and corporate sponsors alike to give back to the neighborhood and celebrate its diversity on an ongoing basis.  Despite the increasing business development and gentrification, the community continues to face serious social-economic issues and a great need for social services, so your support is greatly appreciated!

The event has grown in size every year since and is now thought of as a premier culinary event, drawing a crowd of 1000+ food lovers. This year’s event will feature music by Nick Pattakos, as well as a silent auction and raffle prizes – including a new iPad2, courtesy of Tekserve.

Participating restaurants include:

A Casa Fox – Alias – barrio chino – Beauty & Essex

Café Coradito – The Clerkenwell – Clinton St. Baking Co.

DBGB Kitchen & Bar – Double Crown – Edi & the Wolf

Falai Panetteria – The Fat Radish – Gemma

Hecho en Dumbo – Hotel on Rivington – ‘inoteca

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato – Kuma Inn – La Esquina

Little Giant – Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten – Macando

The Meatball Shop – Mercadito – Mercat – Mulberry Project

Northern Spy Food Co. – Olivia – Osteria Morini

Peels – Porchetta – Public – Pulino’s – Rayuela

Rice – Roni Sue’s Chocolates – Russ & Daughters – Salt Bar

San Marzano – Schiller’s Liquor Bar – The Stanton Social

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery – Think Coffee – Tre

Vandaag – Veselka – wd50 – Yerba Buena

With beverages by:

Anheuser-Busch – Barcardi Rum – Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

Bombay Sapphire – Grey Goose Vodka – Izze Sparkling Juice

For a complete list of participating restaurants and sponsors, please visit: www.grandstreet.org/taste

To purchase tickets, click here. This is a 21+ event.


Global Street Food – May 1, 2011; 11 am – 1 pm

@ The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica, CA

Join Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s Good Food, for an exploration of street food from around the globe. The OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano will join Evan and other special guests for a discussion on how street food can shape the culture of a city and influence what we eat.  Then, sample international street food flavors from some of L.A.’s best food trucks, including Mariscos JaliscoLet’s Be FrankIndia JonesPiaggio Gourmet on Wheels and the Nom Nom Truck alongside the warm Latin/African grooves of the Masanga Marimba Ensemble. Proceeds will benefit KCRW. With NPR and public radio funding under attack, they need your help more than ever!

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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Feast of Good at The Brooklyn Kitchen

When: March 14, 2011, 6:30 – 9:30 pm

Where: The Brooklyn Kitchen

Price: $75.00 USD

You are cordially invited to join Eye For Style for a spectacular evening at Brooklyn Kitchen. Good Commons is bringing their signature culinary experience to New York City for one night only, and you will have the unprecedented opportunity to indulge in creations from four chefs, who will each take the reigns for a delicious, seasonal dish, along with wine pairings from a seasoned sommelier. The open kitchen gives you an insider’s peek as the chefs prepare each course, and the communal table promises to provide a stellar setting for uncommonly good food, friendship, and community. Wondering what’s on the menu? It’s a surprise! Fear not though – the menu has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate a variety of palates and gluten-free guests.

Your host for the evening is GOOD COMMONS, a boutique retreat located in Plymouth, Vermont. Originally built in the 1840s, it first operated as a general store. Lovingly restored and fully renovated in 2007 by radiant owner/hostess, Tesha Buss, Good Commons has quickly become one of the premier travel destinations in the Northeast. They host a series of weekend getaways throughout the year that draw from the bounty of the region, ranging from culinary immersions, food & wine weekends, yoga retreats, health & wellness events and outdoor adventures.

THE BROOKLYN KITCHEN is the culinary brainchild of Taylor Erkkinen and Harry Rosenblum, who saw the need for kitchenware stores in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. What they’ve created is a neighborhood hotspot that includes an eclectic collection of kitchen supplies and local products. Within the store is the Meat Hook, an artisan butcher counter and charcuterie; as well as Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, two dedicated spaces for cooking workshops, classes and special culinary events.

Your Chefs for the evening include:

MATTHEW WEXLER is a partner in the Good Retreat Company as well as a private chef and food, travel & lifestyle writer. When not cooking at Good Commons, Matthew is a regular contributor to EDGE Media Network, offManhattan, and Endless Simmer. He is currently writing the Good Commons food memoir, Uncommonly Good: Stories of life, food and the Birth of Good Commons, as well as his own blog, http://www.roodeloo.com/.

BRENDAN MCDERMOTT is a New York City native who currently dwells in Brooklyn. An acclaimed chef and instructor, Brendan has honed his skills at some of NYC’s most notable restaurants, including Mesa Grill, Olives, and Patria. Trained at Peter Krump (now The Institute of Culinary Education), he shares his knowledge and passion for food throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. His knife skills class at Brooklyn Kitchen was named by New York Magazine as “Best Cooking Class” and he is also featured in the up-and-coming cooking show, Working Class Foodies.

APRIL STAMM is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. As a freelance food writer, April has written for a wide range of publications including Pastry Scoop, an online pastry magazine, and The Nibble, a gourmet product review and foodie information site. April has made numerous appearances as a guest chef at Good Commons and also teaches home cooking classes.

MARTIN HOWARD has had a lifelong passion for great food. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America where he studied all areas of cuisine, he went on to lead some of the top pastry kitchens in New York, including the legendary Rainbow Room atop 30 Rock. He has competed many times on the “Food Network Challenge”, winning top honors for his sweet creations. Martin’s first children’s story/cookbook “Tina Cocolina, Queen of the Cupcakes” was recently published by Random House.

Sommelier, KRISTEN SIEBECKER, has been a great fan of viticulture and vinification since her first illicit sip of Boone’s Farm wine beverage in her formative years. More recently, she completed the Advanced Certification program from the WSET with distinction, and is certified in Advanced Blind Tasting by the American Sommelier Association. You’ll find Kristen at the NYC East Side Best Cellars wine shop, advising customers and assisting in the store’s ‘Sommelier for an Evening’ program. Kristen’s current favorite varietal is Gruner Veltliner.

Have we whet your appetite? Seating is limited, so act fast! PURCHASE TICKETS here.

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Eye For Style Recommends: The Shiny Squirrel

Jessica Goldfond, the brains and beauty behind The Shiny Squirrel, has an incredible eye for style, to be sure. Single-handedly creating The Shiny Squirrel back in 2006, it began as (and remains) a popular fashion art blog. Within the last two years, she’s expanded into a new media and PR company based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with emerging artists and designers who primarily create one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces. The Shiny Squirrel is a clever mash-up of online marketplace, art gallery, and real world pop-up sales showcase, meets artists representation and brand consulting. Jessica’s on-going mission is to give the growing market of young creative talent a voice and multitude of forums to display and sell their work.

Lucky for all you buyers and fashionistas, she’s hosting yet another fabulous pop-up showroom and sample sale this week, from February 21 – 23, at the undeniably hip Ace Hotel New York. This event is guaranteed to be even bigger and crazier than the last, with 12 of the most cutting-edge designers from the jewelry, accessories, and clothing world participating. These select brands represent a mix of both local and national designers, coming from as far as California to showcase their line!

If you’re seeking some truly unique, affordable, new merchandise for your boutique, or that accessory that no one else will be wearing come spring, this is one destination shopping opportunity you should not miss!

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Introducing: Eye For Style Maps

After tons of research, and many foodie photo missions over the last 2 years, I am happy to present Eye For Style’s “Best of NYC” – my absolute favorite, highly recommended, culinary and cultural hotspots. Each awesome destination has been personally hand picked and mapped out, with original photography and reviews, by yours truly. Featuring topics such as NYC’s Best: coffee, pizza, brunch, burgers, cheap eats, vintage clothing, and more!

For the complete list of Eye For Style Maps, click here.

Disclaimer: I’m a die-hard Greenwich Villager and Loisiada, and make no bones about the fact that, in my opinion, The Village and Lower East Side are the best neighborhoods in New York City. My maps reflect this biased love – and I’m totally cool with it. These are my stomping grounds, my passion, my point of view.

That said, I love good food, wherever it may live, and I can occasionally be lured above 14th Street, or to the nether lands of the outer boroughs, for truly excellent eats. I would love to hear your comments and opinions about what YOU consider to be the “Best of NYC”. Please share your picks here and I’ll be sure to add them to my list. As much as I love giving suggestions, I love receiving suggestions even more, so dish the scoop. I’m all ears!

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, you’ve probably been racking your brain or scouring the web for that perfect romantic dinner spot, some better than average chocolates, and/or an intimate booth to grab a cocktail? If you’re still drawing a blank, make it easy on yourself and check out my maps of the Best Dinner Date Spots, Best Sweets and Chocolate, and Best Watering Holes for up-to-the minute tips on the ideal locale to wine, dine, and treat your sweetheart. Every one of these places are a guaranteed “no fail zone”. Pick any recommendation from the list with confidence, so you can simply focus on charming the pants off your date. You can thank me later…

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City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival

February 1 – 28, 2011

3 West 18th Street @ 5th Avenue, NYC

 

While the winter weather has been dreadful this year, there’s still a great reason to celebrate the cold. Hot chocolate! For the past 19 years, City Bakery has been hosting its Annual Hot Chocolate Festival for the entire month of February. Every day of the week, they jazz up their signature chocolate blend with a different featured flavor. Some are fruity, a la lemon, banana, or fig; some are spicy, with cinammon, ginger, or chili pepper; some are boozy, dosed by bourbon or beer. Some are a mystery, with playful names like “Love Potion”, “Ode to the Polar Bear”, and “Moulin Rouge”. My favorite of the bunch is “What Would Faulkner Drink?” – a special concoction of honey, lemon, and homemade moonshine – and a most heavily googled search term this month in NYC.

City Bakery’s hot chocolate is made from their very own, finely crafted recipe made entirely from melted chocolate bars. No cocoa powder here, folks. I visited on “Earl Grey Tea” Hot Chocolate Monday and made sure to add one of their highly touted handmade marshmallows. It was well worth the extra buck. The handmade marshmallow is so dense, it wasn’t about to melt into my drink. No biggie. I actually ended up grabbing a spoon, pouring the hot chocolate over the top of the marshmallow iceberg, letting it sink it, and then scooping it out in big bites. It was akin to eating a sweet cloud floating in chocolate soup, and certainly not a hot chocolate experience I’ve ever encountered before.

This luscious bowl was so very rich, I found it challenging to drink the whole cup, though I wasn’t going to let a drop go to waste. I didn’t even touch the baker’s muffin – a decadent cinnamon infused croissant meets bread pudding monster pastry with juicy currants – I bought to accompany my mug. My eyes were clearly bigger than my stomach and the combination was complete sugar overkill, but the muffin made for a fabulous breakfast the next day.

If you plan to frequent the fest more than once, I suggest getting a large cup with a marshmallow ($6) on your first visit, with a small cookie, if you can handle the diabetic coma that’s sure to ensue. On repeat visits, consider grabbing one of their “shots” ($3) to sample other flavors throughout the month. To check out the full festival calendar of flavors and plan your ideal visiting day, click here.

You can also buy their signature blend in a convenient take home carton ($6) to experiment with your own favorite flavor combinations. Carton upon carton are amply stacked Warhol-style throughout the bakery and in their Chocolate Room – a little phone booth sized den, with beautiful deep red embroidered walls, chock full of various locally made chocolates delights.

I love that City Bakery has devoted a whole month to celebrating the diversity of hot chocolate and theirs is certainly one of the finest concoctions I’ve sampled. That said, there are a few other hot chocolates in NYC that I would be remisce not to mention in a post devoted to the subject. Luckily, they’re all conveniently located within striking distance of each other, so therefore, may I suggest you gather a few friends together and go on a Self-Guided Hot Cocoa Crawl of SoHo!

Start your journey at Jacques Torres (350 Hudson @ King St), as it’s probably my favorite hot chocolate in the city. Torres seriously knows his chocolate. It’s not only mouth-watering, but the individual truffles are beautifully decorated with cool designs, and you can taste the love with which they’re prepared. Not at all surprising, considering he’s one of the kindest food purveyors around. I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at The NY Chocolate Show, and he greeted absolutely every visitor to his booth with a warm welcome and big smile. I adore his original hot chocolate, but I think the “wicked”, with cinnamon and chili peppers, is the bomb! It’s got a nice kick that’s perfectly balanced (unlike my experience at Max Brenner’s which I asked to exchange because it was utterly undrinkable). If you’re craving something a bit more unusual, go wicked.

Then head east on Houston to Aroma Espresso Bar (145 Greene Street @ Houston) which makes a wonderful “sunken treasure” style cocoa. They place pieces of luscious dark chocolate at the bottom of a mug and pour hot steaming milk over the top. You grab a spoon and mix the frothy milk and melty chocolate together as you sip. I give Aroma props for the  presentation, served in a clear glass mug so you can see the treasure at the bottom, as well as the flavor.

Next, head south to either Vosges (132 Spring St @ Wooster) or MarieBelleChocolates (484 Broome St @ Wooster). These are really high-end chocolatelier boutiques that elevate chocolate to an art form in an almost gallery-like setting. Vosges features an Aztec (chilis, vanilla bean, and cinnamon), Bianca (Australian lemon mrytle and lavender with white chocolate), and La Parisienne varieties. MarieBelle uses Colombian whole bean dark cacao, not cocoa powder, for their Aztec and Spicy Hot Chocolate (made with ancho and chipotle chili). They also have three milk chocolate varieties – original mocha, hazelnut, and white chocolate vanilla. All are decadently rich and uniquely aromatic due to the quality and freshness of the ingredients.

Jacques Torres, Vosges, and MarieBelle are also ideal places to pick up chocolates for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, or even better, any day of the year when you want to express your love. They treat their chocolates like tiny canvases, hand-painting uniquely colorful designs on each to distinguish the different flavors. You can customize your own sampler box at any of the 3 locations and devise a romantic tasting for two – in a dimly-lit lounge with cocktails, or at home in bed – that is sure to score you some major brownie points. Pun intended.

For the complete list of Best Sweets and Chocolate in New York City, go to Eye For Style maps.

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Filed under Events, Food, New York City, Photography

Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge

When: January 25, 2011 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Le Poisson Rouge
Address: 158 Bleecker Street, NYC, 10012
Price: $41.99 USD

Edible Manhattan’s Good Spirits!

At Good Spirits, Edible’s seasonal cocktail pairing event, we match mixology-minded chefs and food artisans with spectacular, storied spirits (plus some beer, wine, and coffee for good measure), asking them to strive for liquid symbiosis.

In our estimation, the resonance between tastes and tipple goes far beyond mutually beneficial flavors.

We believe getting to know craft spirits at your neighborhood speakeasy or dive bar is no less relevant than following your cauliflower back to the farm, or your bagels, lox and cream cheese back to the baker, fishmonger and dairy.

Enjoy dishes and cocktails from the following vendors:

Tuthilltown ~ Prairie Vodka ~ Macao Trading Co

Compass Box Scotch Whiskey ~  Comb Vodka and Gin

Northern Spy ~ Fette Sau ~ St. Germain

Warwick Distillery’s American Fruits ~ Palo Santo ~ McClure’s

Don Q Rum ~ Karma Tequila ~ Tumbador Chocolate

Fonda ~ Nonino ~ San Honesto

Huckleberry Bar ~ Death’s Door ~ Fee Brothers

Clean Plates ~ Wolffer Estate Vineyards

Dallis Coffee ~ SerendipiTea

Verterra ~ and more!

Eye For Style readers can purchase special discount tickets, while quantities last, here.

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Filed under Cocktails, Food, New York City