Tag Archives: Lower East Side

My Hurricane Sandy Diaries: Part 2

THE AFTERMATH CONTINUES

Thursday November 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday November 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

**

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

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

The People Who Were Killed By Hurricane Sandy by Whitney Hess

Superstorm Sandy’s Impact on The East Coast

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My Hurricane Sandy Diaries: Part 1

FRANKENSTORM

Monday, October 29, 2012:

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

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

irene vs. sandy

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012:

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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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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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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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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Eye For Style Recommends: GRUB STREET

For one day only, Hester Street Fair will literally transform into “Grub Street, USA” with picket fences, eating parks galore, and over 40 exclusive food vendors selected personally by Grub Street and New York Magazine.

Curated by the folks at Grub Street, the editorial staff has invited their favorite food purveyors and restaurants to participate in their first ever ALL FOOD, all day event. From the best restaurants, to trucks and carts, to neighborhood joints from all across the 5 boroughs, this mouth-watering event will give you a taste of the finest morsels New York has to offer. All in one place!

Plus, to add even a little more spice to the mix, Santos Party House will whip this smorgasbord into even more than your average eating fest, providing the necessary ingredients to dance off some of those extra calories you’ll be packing on. Shake liberally so as to avoid impending food coma!

Just make sure to leave room for dessert, kids. This is surely destined to be the most exciting food festival on the Lower East Side this fall – or I promise to eat my words as well. Gulp.

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To view more of my food photography, please visit my website: eyeforstyle.net.

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Best Pizza & Ice Cream Dates in Greenwich Village

 


Pizza and ice cream is a perfect way to kick off a summer date night, especially in Greenwich Village where exceptional options abound on practically every corner. Luckily, I’ve taken the guess work out of it for you by crafting some terrific pairings. You may wish for a bit more of a walk in between courses, or slightly “healthier” options, so feel free to mix it up and create a combination of destinations that best suit your date’s taste. Be sure to print this list and the complete Eye For Style map before you head out so as to have all your options easily at hand. Trust me, she’ll admire your take-charge thoughtfulness, guys. Once you’re both stuffed to the gills, take a stroll mano a mano appreciating the uber-romantic vibe that is The Village, before you grab some libations at one of the many cool watering holes in the area. If you follow this plan (adding your own brand of charm and some witty reparte, of course), you should score that lengthy kiss on the stoop come evening’s end. And who knows what may follow. You can thank me later…

EAST VILLAGE DATES:

South Brooklyn Pizza & NYC Icy 122 1st Ave ; 100 Ave A  171 Ave A (as of 6/2011)

SBP is the newbie in the ‘hood, having just opened 3 months ago, but it’s already garnered a well-deserved reputation. They only do one kind of pizza – margherita – which is frankly phenomenal. They occassionally have their “square” pizza with which they’ll experiment with a variety of ingredients, like mushroom or sausage, at their whim. I’d eat your first slice plain, so you can really taste the flavors of the basil, mozzarella, and tomato. The EVOO is so delicious you can actually taste the kalamata olive from whence it came. This is not a pizza where you want to sop up the oil with a napkin. Instead, have fun sexily licking it off your fingers (hey, it makes for some good foreplay). On your second slice, try the toppings they have mixed up fresh on the counter – a sick roasted garlic spread or marinated green peppers – for a completely different flavored slice. You might want to save the kissing for later, but it’s well worth it. Slices are $4 each, whole pies will run you $28.

NYC Icy is a relative newbie in the ‘hood, having just opened up their pop-up stand on Ave A @ E 7th a month ago (though they used to have a permanent location on Ave B). It’s a very no frills establishment, just a couple of big freezers and a cash register. Check the sandwich board for the day’s special samplings, a rotating array of over 200 flavors, most of which are more creamy than icy, with some dairy-free options as well. My favorites are Mexican hot cocoa (with a swift chili pepper kick), earl grey (with a hint of cream and lemon), and the ultimate: mango with fresh basil (which also pairs extremely well with spicy Thai food).

Artichoke Pizza & Sundaes and Cones – 328 E 14th St ; 95 E 10th St

Artichoke only fires up 4 types of pizza – classic margherita, artichoke (with a cheesy, creamy sauce), crab, and Sicilian – and they’re all freaking delicious. Don’t let the long line keep you away – spend the time getting to know each other better! Grab your  $4 slice, cop a squat on a nearby stoop and enjoy the bustling scene on 14th Street, as seating at this joint is highly coveted and minimal at best.  Better yet, call ahead and order a whole pie, then head southeast to nearby Tompkins Square Park for a pizza alfresco picnic in the very secluded section of the park bordering 10th Street where there’s tons of tables and virtually never any people. Take a stroll east and do some window shopping along 9th or 10th Street, two of the loveliest blocks in the EV, until you across 3rd Avenue and arrive at:

Sundaes & Cones has some of the most interesting, Asian-centric ice cream flavors around – wasabi, red bean, taro, green tea – to name a few. I personally adore the sesame and lychee in a big ol’ waffle cone. They have other traditionally American flavors as well, but why not try something new? Show off your adventurous, open-minded side. Chicks dig that.

Motorino & Momofuku Milk Bar – 349 E 12th St ; 207 2nd Ave

Motorino specializes in neopolitana style pizza – with a thin, but not too thin crust that bubbles around the outskirts. The ingredients are super fresh and flavorful, and the price is fairly reasonable at $18 a pie (no slices here). I could easily eat a whole one myself if I’m really hungry and wish they were a bit larger, but it’s no big deal. Gotta save room for ice cream! I’ve especially enjoyed the soppressata piccante, as well as the sweet sausage and cremini with kalamata olive, but I think the real draw here is the brussel sprout and pancetta pie.

I must confess that I’ve not actually had the soft serve with various whacky toppings to choose at Momofuku Milk Bar because every time I’ve gone, the line is so damn long that I’m just not in the mood and have opted to head elsewhere. The place has a long line and great reputation for a reason though, so if you’ve got some company to kill the time, I’d stick it out. If you don’t have the patience, Veniero’s Pasticceria is right around the corner, as is most of the selections on this list. Someday, Momofuku, someday!

Luzzo’s & Alphabet Scoop – 211 2nd Ave ; 543 E 11th St

This place is small and can sometimes be crowded, but it’s one of the best authentic neopolitian pizzas in Manhattan. It’s also one of the only places that still uses a coal-fired oven and you can taste the difference. The crust is thin and slightly charred, a bit soft, but not overly chewy. The pies are big, but once you get started, you don’t want to stop (which is hopefully the direction your date will be taking later in the evening.) Luzzo’s is by no means cheap, clocking in at around $23 – 28 a pie, but the basil and mozzarella are fresh and delicious to be sure, making it very worthy of experiencing.

Alphabet Scoop is actually a non-profit organization that “changes lives one scoop at a time”. They employ neighborhood kids in an effort to teach responsibility and keep them out of trouble on the streets, connecting the local youth with personal adult mentors off-site. This artisanal ice cream is homemade right on the premises with fresh ingredients. Portions are large and prices are fair. Your date will most definitely appreciate your thoughtful, civic-minded generosity, scoring you some brownie points. Remember, supporting important causes is hot!

Two Boots & Lula’s Sweet Apothecary – 42 Ave A ; 516 E 6th St

I love the classic Italian meets Louisana bayou flavor combinations that Two Boots employs here. I also love the clever way they name their pizzas after indie movie characters and trailblazing music icons. Cleopatra Jones (sweet sausage with tri-color peppers) and The Newman (of Seinfeld fame aka sopressata and sausage on a white pie) are my go-to favorites at this joint. When I’m feeling particularly spicy though, The Bird (as in local EV resident and saxophonist, Charlie Parker) – a white pie topped with spicy buffalo wings, bleu cheese, and jalapeno – is in a league of its own and hits the spot. So wrong, it’s right. This pizza will definitely generate a little heat and then you might just want to rent a movie, instead of go out on the town. Which is convenient because, in addition to the pizzeria, the location on Avenue A is also a super cheap video store with tons of great noir, classics, and cult flicks. Cuddle up and enjoy the film, but before you go home, head to:

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary – vegan ice cream never tasted so good! I dare to you try their dairy/gluten-free fare and tell me that it’s not equally as delicious as its sugar-filled counterparts. Lula’s flavors are truly unique and rotate daily. The staff is super friendly and they happily offer copious samples, which can be a double-edged sword because it tends to make the indecisive line move a bit slow. (It’s not a relationship, it’s ice cream, people. Make a commitment and move on). Lula’s has soft serve too, with a “twist” if you like the two flavors swirled, cake batter being a favorite. They make a killer banana split with an assortment of natural toppings to choose from as well. The ambience of the place is a throw back to the days of real ol’ fashioned ice cream parlors and can be quite a romantic scene if you nab stools in the bay window.

Want an even healthier option? Try opting for a smoothie at Liquiteria (@ 170 2nd Ave) or Juicy Lucy’s (@ 85 Ave A). These juice bars are equally as delicious as any other sweet treat you’ll find in the area. So, if you’re looking for something cold, utterly fresh and supremely yummy in the tummy, don’t hesitate to give these places a try. You won’t be disappointed. A wide variety of healthy and exotic flavors abound here!

Once you’ve worked your way through the EV, you and your sweetie will surely want to try these WEST VILLAGE DATES:

Numero 28 Carmine & Cones Ice Cream Artisans

Bleecker Street Pizza & L’Arte Del Gelato

John’s Pizzeria & Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven

Famous Joe’s & Grom

Two Boots To Go West & People’s Pops

Lombardi’s & Ciao Bella

With healthier option: Gusto Organics

Or go to Eye For Style maps for the complete list of Greenwich Village pizza & ice cream dates!

And how about a “make your own pizza” date? Pizza a Casa now has workshops & classes at their LES location. Now that’s amore!

*****

Update as of 7/30/11:

There are 5 new cool treats vendors in the East Village that are definitely worth sampling this summer:

People’s Pops Pop Up – 118 E 7th St; serving: popsicles & shave ice, through October 15

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – 48 1/2 E 7th St

Goat Town – 511 E 5th St

Timi’s Gelateria Classica – 37 St. Mark’s Place; mobile cart @ 145 Ave A

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop – opening any day now, on E 7th St @ Ave A

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