In the last few years New York City has gone through a food truck craze. Each year a new batch of food trucks enter the City with a hopeful twinkle in their truck-eye.
Last week the Village Voice hosted their First Annual Choice Streets even featuring 20 popular food trucks. Our own Cara, Rachel, and Paola walked over to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, which is just a 10-minute walk away, to check out this fun event. It was very similar to their Annual Choice Eats event that we covered in March (http://www.nycstooptalk.com/?p=613) except this time with food trucks instead of local favorite restaurants.
The girls loved Waffles and Dinges, Phil’s Steaks, and Mexico Blvd, but if you spot any of the trucks below in the City while you’re visiting New York, make sure to grab a bite of the hottest phenomenon right now!
Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Well, Mr. Franklin could not have been more right one Tuesday afternoon when we heard Beer Authority had finally opened right around the corner from us on 40th Street and 8th Avenue, after we eagerly awaited the news for months. The massive pub offers 58 beers on tap, about 100 bottled brands, boasts flat-screen TV’s for sports fans or a view of the New York Times building, whichever you prefer, and is soon to open their third floor outdoor area to the public, just in time for summer. If you’re a lover of beer make sure to pay a visit; they’re just a few stores down from Distrikt!
This Shepherd’s Pie has real lamb in it! Holy baaaah!
The place is so spankin’ new, you can still smell the varnish on these chairs.
Williamsburg is one of the most popular Brooklyn neighborhoods today. It is so popular that rents have skyrocketed (you can easily find apartments that are more expensive than some in Manhattan) and taking advantage of the fabulous view of Manhattan just across the skinny East River, condominiums have been built non-stop in the last few years. Still, Williamsburg maintains its quaint charm. Due to its convenient location (one subway stop from Manhattan) and space, artists began moving into the area in the 1970′s and continued to do so decade after decade. The neighborhood is filled with art, music, bars, restaurants, anything for the creative souls. Here are some photos from one afternoon spent in sunny Williamsburg.
Once you step foot into this seemingly quaint bakery…
…it’s Desert Island (though their signage bears no evidence of its name), the most colorful book store with an extensive collection of rare and unique comic books for both adults and kids. I found my favorite from my childhood, Tomi Ungerer’s The Three Robbers and Moomin.
We walk over right next door to my favorite deli in the whole city, Hana Food. They have THE BEST veggie and vegan sandwiches (with very fun names like “Dirty Feet,” “The Illegal,” Teddy Bear,” “Butter Face,” etc. You get it).
We came across some gentlemen from Sky High Murals finishing up a mural off a poster of an upcoming TV show. How do they do that!? Very impressive.
We ventured into Causey Gallery, a free art gallery.
But as soon as you step foot outside back onto the streets of Williamsburg, you find yourself surrounded by street art.
This was my favorite!
A few blocks away we saw Brooklyn Bowl. This venue, which is a massive, renovated iron foundry, is a 16-lane bowling alley, concert venue, a Blue Ribbon Brassarie restaurant, and a cocktail lounge all in one.
As the above sign suggests, right next door is the famous Brooklyn Brewery, which offers free tours.
Across from the Brooklyn Brewery is Beacon’s Closet, my favorite thrift store in the entire city. An absolute must for thrift shopping lovers!
Just to let those of you know who are interested, no one would look back twice if you dressed like this here in New York. Not kidding.
We spent an hour or two at Artists & Fleas, a weekly artist, designer, and vintage market open on Saturdays and Sundays. We got to chat with local artists and buy some handmade jewelry. This is a great place to support and meet local artists.
After a long day of walking around and feeling lathargic, I was craving coffee to continue my Williamsburg journey! First we stopped by at cafe, Bakeri. With an on-site bakery (hence “Bakeri”), they offer fresh good every morning and fantastic coffee drinks.
Then we walked over to an old favorite of mine, Urban Rustic Grocery & Cafe. Their motto of delivering locally, reliably, and ethnically sourced food translates to their homey, communal atmostphere as well.
And here’s the Manhattan skyline from the Williamsburg waterfront. Bye bye Williamsburg, see you again soon!
SCOPE is one of today’s leading art shows held annually in New York, Miami, and Switzerland. This year we checked out the 11th Annual SCOPE New York at the massive 30,000 square foot pavilion on the Upper West Side on 57th Street and 12th Avenue. The show featured over 50 galleries from around the globe, showcasing both established and emerging artists in the contemporary art field.
An art show in a massive tent or warehouse is always exhilirating for me. The show was especially vitalized by the breath of fresh air provided by the lesser commercial works, though it is admittingly difficult to turn your head away from the fun works of pop surrealism by Ron English (of whom I am definitely a fan) and Roy Lichtenstein-inspired artists. Video installations were prominent. Some memorable artists and groups included Jessica Lichtenstein, Artists Wanted, artist and Interfaith Minister Rev. Lainie Love Dalby’s TheDiamond Den and more.
Though this particular Art Show won’t return to New York until next year, I highly recommend the following shows and galleries (besides the obvious MoMA and Guggenheim) for those interested in contemporary art:
MoMA P.S.1 - P.S.1 is MoMA’s uber-contemporary little sibling and one of the oldest non-profit arts organizations. It is my favorite museum in all of New York City. From Midtown Manhattan it’s a quick 10-minute subway ride to Long Island City, Queens’ young neighborhood. As a former public school, you walk through classrooms donning large windows, hard wood floors, and other remnants of youthful school years. except every space is full of provocative contemporary art. In the coming summer months they host a weekly music and entertainment series in their massive courtyard. Directions and other information to MoMA P.S.1: http://momaps1.org/visit/
New Museum- This is another one of my favorites. Their last major exhibition, Carsten Höller, Experience, brought out everyone’s inner child with its playful theme of colorful circus fantasy. I ecstatically slid down a three-story high slide cutting through the museum floors and rode a gigantic, mirror-covered carousel, while others experienced an anti-gravitational ‘psycho’ tank and walked around with goggles that lend you an upside-down vision of the world. Their current exhibition, which is their triennial, The Ungovernables, brings together many new U.S. artists with visitors. http://newmuseum.org/
Brooklyn Museum – Their current Keith Haring exhibit (until July 8, 2012) is a must see for any pop art aficionados, and if you prefer, the museum offers a free walking tour of the exhibition every Thursday night. The massive 560,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building is a pretty sight just from the outside, but once you step in you’ll be greeted by an impressive collection of contemporary art. Just 20-30 minutes away from Midtown Manhattan on the subway, the museum is located by other attractions such as Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/
On March 13th, New York City’s leading free weekly paper, Village Voice, hosted their 5th Annual Choice Eats. The massive event featured over 50 restaurants from all over the City representing a wide variety of cuisines chosen by the paper’s food critic, Robert Sietsma, and his columns. It was well worth the 45-minute wait in line, which went around the block! Here are some photos we managed to snap while juggling dumplings, hot dogs covered in mac and cheese, and beer samples (it was hard!).
Photographed by Cara
There was a Lady Gaga “impersonator” (who knows anymore) walking around.
Seeds of Peace is a non-profit organization with which we love working. They are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of young leaders from around the globe, namely the Middle East, South Asia, Cyprus, Balkans, and the United States, to develop relationships and understanding in a time of conflict. Seeds of Peace annually hosts Peace Market, a fantastic fundraising event for the organization. The event held on March 1st was amazing again this year, and here are some photos we’d like to share.
When it comes to out of Manhattan borough excursions, there’s none more celebrated and rewarding than a visit to Brooklyn’s Dumbo via the historic Brooklyn Bridge. Just a hop on the A, C, or F train to the first stop in Brooklyn puts you out in Dumbo (which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). With cobble stone streets and breathtaking views, Dumbo classifies as a must see for locals and tourists alike.
The area is located just underneath and between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge and has become a mecca for art galleries as well as culinary gems like the River Cafe (located on a floating barge below the Brooklyn Bridge and offering panoramic city skyline dining), the famous Grimaldi’s Pizza (recently expanding to this new building and still sporting equally long lines. Worth the wait? You tell us!) and don’t forget about dessert at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Follow up your feasting witha stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park. During winter months it can be a lovely place for quiet walks and photo ops, but come summertime this park is hopping with live music on the barge, movie screenings against the Manhattan skyline backdrop, and a soon-to-launch outdoor swimming pool on Pier 2 (with man-made beach and food vendors to follow).
Once you are ready to head back to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan life, your journey has just begun. Find the staircase on Dumbo’s Washington Street that leads up to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway to access a pedestrian crossing all the way over the East River and into the City Hall area of Manhattan.
We hope you enjoy just another one of the countless, wonderful neighborhood splendors that Brooklyn has to offer…and be sure to bring a camera!
Spending a night out in New York City doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune (unless you can afford it… then go for it). I, Anna, along with two other Distrikt girls, Kayte and Rachel, on a budget of $200 for all, decided to see if we can have an entertaining night out in the East Village neighborhood in downtown Manhattan. Conclusion: ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE!
6:00PM: We arrive at Northern Spy Food Co., a two-year-old New American cuisine eatery on Avenue A and 12th Street. They focus on locally grown products and recycled items for their decor and furnishings, and have gained a strong fan base. Though I’ve lived a few blocks away since its opening, I have never had the chance to try this popular spot.
The decor reminded me of an old elementary school with a heavy touch of Americana.
6:15PM: We started off with cocktails. Due to the happy hour, our drinks came $2 off each. The Spy Cup, Alfonso, and East River Defense (below) were all unique and fantastic. Check our their cocktail menu to see their fun ingredients: http://www.northernspyfoodco.com/menus/cocktails/
6:25PM: There were so many delectable items on the menu, so we decided to share a bunch. The flat breads came with caramelized red onion, and the kale salad, which our lovely server recommended, was extremely tasty. Didn’t know kale could taste so good! And, the crispy potato gnocchi was deeeee-vine!!
7:00PM: We were so busy indulging in these yummy plates, that we looked up and didn’t even notice the place was packed at this point. Very busy on a Monday night! That’s a good sign. It also occurred to me that this candle-lit venue is very romantic, in a casual manner. This might be the perfect place to bring your loved one while you’re in New York City without spending a lot.
Look at how romantic!
Kayte and Rachel were having a lot of fun too (those cocktails were GREAT).
7:20PM: We knew we had to run out soon to go see a show (more about that below), but our lovely server recommended a few more things we couldn’t resist! We ordered the cod fish special, which was just the right amount of salty for me, and the duck fat fries, which is deep-fried in, well, you guessed it, duck fat.
As you can see here, we decided to return all of the food to the kitchen. All of it.
Even the bathroom seemed to be constructed from reclaimed and restored wood. It was definitely one of the more adorable restrooms I’ve seen! Rachel managed to include herself in the photo; why didn’t I think of that!? Upon returning to our booth, we noticed the back of our seats were filled with pinecones. Very cute, detailed touches all around.
So here was our dinner:
2x Spy Cup – $9 each (-$2 each for happy hour): $14
1x Alfonso – $7 (-$2 for happy hour): $5
1x East River Defense – $9 (-$2 for happy hour): $7
1x Glass of red wine: $9
1x Flat Bread: $2
1x Crispy Potato Gnocchi: $14
1x Cod Fish Special: $20
1x Duck Fat Fries: $6
Total: $77 (before tax + tip)
7:55PM: We power-walked to Performance Space 122, a non-profit arts center on 9th Street and 1st Avenue. This is one of my most favorite theaters in the City; once an abandoned public school, the space has been completed renovated and revitalized, now rebirthed into and established over the last two decades as a leading arts organization. Here we went to see Silence! The Musical: an Unofficial Parody of Silence of the Lambs. As a theather buff I had been eyeing this Off-Broadway hit show for a while, so was ecstatic to finally attend. A poster outside the theater has a great New York Times critic quote… There are multiple murals outside the theater as well that depict the musical.
7:58PM: We walk up to the third floor, where a humble bar (which is to say, a quaint plastic table with sodas and beers) and a merchindise table are manned by very friendly staff. As you can see, the interior still boasts and maintains the former public school ambiance.
…9:40PM: Silence! The Musical was a hilarious adaptation. It also helped that I watched the film (for the first time) the previous night, so the scenes and lines were fresh in my memory. Some scenes in the musical were almost verbatim with a comedic twist. Hannibal Lecter is played by David Garrison, best known as Steve in “Married With Children.” Jenn Harris’ Clarice Starling is an excellent homage to Jodie Foster and her thick West Virginian accent. Rumor has it when they first shot that scene in the film, Anthony Hopkins improvised the part where he mocks Jodie’s accent to extract a genuine reaction from her. Fun fact!
It’s a GREAT website for discount theater tickets. Unless it is a sold out show (i.e. Wicked, Lion King, Jersey Boys, etc.) they generally have great deals on this website. We purchased these Silence! tickets at just $39 each through Broadway Box. You simply purchase on the site, and print out the tickets here at the hotel. If you are getting tickets to a Broadway show, which most of them are about a 5-10 minute walk away from the hotel, you can avoid the online “service fee” by directly presenting the discount page at the Box Office.
3x Silence! The Musical tickets: $39
3x $5 online service fee: $15
In conclusion, $77 at dinner + $132 for the show = $209 for the three of us!
(OKAY, this excludes tip. Don’t forget to tip your server, which is “mandatory” here in the U.S. You generally want to tip 20% of the total bill.)
The cost was worth every penny for the fantastic evening I shared with my friends. Can’t wait to go out on a budget again!
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
Published Date: February 2010
We didn’t pick up The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum to learn about New York City history but by its end we were surprised how much we learned about the city we love. Handbook is a fast-paced, well-written accounting of the birth of forensic medicine – pioneered and perfected in New York City.
To tell the story Ms. Blum centered on a tumultuous and infamous time in America and New York, the Jazz Age, in which the advent, passing and repeal of Prohibition caused the well-publicized surge in organized crime but also the lesser of murder by poison.
Indeed, the banning of spirits led desperate consumers to accept anything in its place, leading to a new kind of poison administered from criminals and shockingly, the government itself. Though that is just one kind of death by poisoning that Ms. Blum details, all are fascinating accounts of both the way they were administered and the tools the fledgling medical examiners created to detect them.
The reader is transformed to a time of political corruption and greed where the unsung heroes are Dr. Charles Norris, Manhattan’s first trained chief medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, its first toxicologist. These men sacrificed their own fortunes and careers and changed the autopsies are done. Simply learning about the various ways New Yorkers did each other in wove a tapestry of the time, and the extremely humble but necessary beginnings for what we now know as crime scene investigation.
Entertaining, educational, shocking and at times spooky, Handbook is a great read for nonfiction and real or imagined crime junkies everywhere…an added bonus is the historical glimpse of a crime- and scandal-soaked Gotham.