eat. shop. love. nyc.

Bikini season is upon us
May 24, 2010, 10:46 am
Filed under: Do | Tags: , , , ,

As such, I’ve been contemplating ways to shed the cream and butter winter weight and trim up a bit. Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner and then it’s rooftop barbecues and tanning in the park and the pools (yes, the POOLS in NYC!) are opening soon. Apparently, Groupon thought lots of people might be in the mood to get their beach bods ready. I received an e-mail today inviting me to buy a one-month gym membership to Crunch for $39. $39! A Crunch membership usually costs over $100 a month, so this is a great deal. Of course, it’s limit one per person, new members only, and they will probably harass you to join at full price after your one-month trial. The upside is that you pay no membership fee, it’s cheap, and it’s a one-month commitment so if you lose your drive to work out after a month, you’re not locked into a recurring monthly fee.

I’ll be splitting my time between the Lafayette and Union Square gyms, but there are seven Manhattan and two Brooklyn locations participating.

Deal ends at midnight tonight. Buy here.

Full disclosure: if you make a Groupon purchase through the links above and you haven’t before, I get a $10 Groupon credit. However, I am not posting so I can accumulate Groupon credits; I really think this Crunch deal is a good value and it is perfectly timed.


Bake cupcakes like a rock star at Butter Lane
April 8, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: Cook, Do, Eat | Tags: , , , ,

This, friends, is the vanilla French buttercream icing from Butter Lane, aka the best cupcake icing in the world (although I’m also a huge fan of the “Moose” at Sugar Sweet Sunshine – maybe they’re actually tied for best cupcake icing in the world).

Apparently, Butter Lane gives cupcake baking and decorating classes on Monday evenings in their cute little East 7th St. shop from 8-10 pm. They provide all the ingredients and equipment, you just bring your pretty little self. I would love to be able to recreate this oozy, sugary goodness at home. How great a date would this be?! $50 per person, unless you organize a big group of your own, in which case you should call ahead about the price. This would be so much fun on a bachelorette weekend! I wonder if they do any boozy cupcakes…

Classes are available on the following dates, current as of this week:

  • Monday, April 5 (8-10pm) *Sold Out*
  • Monday, April 19 (8-10pm) -Just Added-
  • Monday, May 3 (8-10pm) *Sold Out*
  • Monday, May 17 (8-10pm) -Just Added-
  • Monday, June 7 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, July 5 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, August 2 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, September 6 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, October 4 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, November 1 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, December 6 (8-10pm)

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to sign up for open spots the classes listed above or e-mail to inquire about group rates and special dates.

Happy cupcaking!

My favorite Los Angeles things

With the advent of good weather, I’ve been thinking about Los Angeles a lot lately. I especially miss the Mexican food there, and the fact that people don’t look at you like you’re from another planet if you wear PJs to brunch.

Every so often, friends will go to visit LA and they ask me what they should do an where they should eat. Here are my favorites: (I hope that they have held up with time!)

The Getty Center

Places to go an things to do:
#1. The Getty Center. Art (notably, Van Gogh’s Irises) and a sweeping view of Los Angeles, a breathtaking garden where you are allowed to picnic, $6 to park the car, otherwise free. One of my absolute favorite places to spend an afternoon on a clear day. Now there is also a Getty Malibu.
#2. Hiking in Runyon Canyon if you’re into celebrity sightings and sweaty, scantily clad Hollywood types working out.
#3. Snag cheap tickets ($6-$10 for a seat in the back!) to catch a show/concert in the open air ampitheatre Hollywood Bowl. I highly recommend the Sound of Music singalong! (Also saw Buddy Guy, Etta James, John Mayer, Oasis, etc.) Bring your own wine and food and make it a picnic.
#4. Visit the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
#5. Experience the meat market and sh*t show that is Q’s / Cabo Cantina (Brentwood).
#6. Pack a picnic and head over to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (sounds morbid, but it’s really not) to watch a Cinespia movie screening against the wall of a mausoleum. Starts May 2010 and runs through the summer. You can pay your respects to Marilyn Monroe.
#7. Santa Monica pier in the evening. Ferris wheel and cotton candy. Seriously, what girl doesn’t like that?
#8. Go shopping on Melrose (if you want to buy things you can afford) or on Rodeo Drive (if you would rather gaze lustfully at things you can’t afford).
#9. Get all shishi and go out at night to the SkyBar at the Mondrian (West Hollywood), the poolside bar at the Viceroy Hotel (Santa Monica), the rooftop bar at The Standard Hotel (downtown LA), celeb-filled Chateau Marmont (Hollywood – an Andre Balasz property, it’s hard to get in unless you are a guest!) or Bar Marmont (less exclusive than inside the Chateau), or Teddy’s at the Roosevelt (Hollywood).
#10. Check out the boardwalk at Venice Beach to see some real characters. Skateboarding dogs with green mohawks, rollerblading electric guitar guy, man in Speedo with balls, Muscle Beach, etc. To see surfers, you’ll have better luck in Malibu.

What to eat:
#1. Tacos Por Favor. Cheap, delicious, can’t find it anywhere but LA. I strongly suggest the hard taco with carne asada and any of the burritos, though I favor the shrimp burrito (chock full of avocado and rice and cheese). The pickled carrots, onions, and jalapenos are delicious, and the spicy red sauce has a hint of cinnamon.
#2. Bay Cities Deli. The most delicious Italian deli sandwich you will have in your life. There’s something about the bread that is TO DIE FOR. Be prepared to wait in line, or order ahead. The Godmother is highly recommended.
#3. Father’s Office, Santa Monica (not the LA location). The Office burger… I still dream about it from time to time… Perfect burger on crisp fluffy bun topped with blue cheese and arugula. Don’t miss the sweet potato fries and the garlic aioli dipping sauce. No ketchup here. But trust me, it’s better that way. Also a huge selection of microbrews – Chimay on draught.
#4. In-N-Out burger – I’d get a double-double protein style with fries well done animal style and a neopolitan milkshake. Before you go, read up on the secret menu so you know how to order like an INO pro.
#5. El Taurino, downtown LA. Their carne asada burrito with special hot sauce and horchata always makes me happy.
#6. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Duh! Be like Snoop Dogg and eat there.

Chabrier’s L’Etoile at the NYC Opera

Madcap kings! Mistaken identities! Fortune tellers! And it’s in French!

Thanks to the generosity of the good folks at the NYC Opera running the Opera for All program, I scored $25 orchestra seats (normally priced at $75 to $145) to see Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Etoile tonight at the Lincoln Center. It’s a NYMag critic’s pick, and it sounds like it’s going to be a rollicking good time (or as rollicking as possible for opera).

Photo credit: Sara Krulwich for The New York Times

I’m so excited!

To score your own $25 orchestra seat tickets to upcoming shows of Madama Butterfly or Partenope, visit the Opera for All website and enter promo code OFA1 or call 212.721.6500. Tickets for same-week performances go on sale at 10 am. $6.50 service and handling charge per ticket if you purchase by phone or online. Performances for this season run through April 18th before going on hiatus until the 2010-2011 season begins, so get on it.

Play Scrabble online
March 7, 2010, 10:41 am
Filed under: Do, Think | Tags: ,

A professed logophile, I am partial to online games like Text Twist, crosswords, and of course, Scrabble. Luckily for me, with the advent of gadgets and widgets on iGoogle and Facebook and the like, I can play Scrabble whenever I want, even if no one I know wants to play with me in person. I can play online with people I know, as well as with fellow Scrabble lovers I don’t know.

If you have iGoogle, add the Scrabble widget by clicking here.
To add Scrabble to your Facebook, add the app here.
If you have an iPhone, you can download the app for $4.99.

How To Make It In America Foursquare badges
February 21, 2010, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Do, Eat, Go, Shop, Watch | Tags: , , ,

This Sunday at 10 pm, you can watch episode two of the new HBO series How To Make It In America. The first episode reminded me of a toned-down Entourage, which is not that surprising considering Mark Walhberg is an exec producer. They’ve teamed up with the folks at Foursquare to create a Foursquare badge that you can unlock at the following NYC restaurants and retailers, which I guess may be set to appear in future episodes of the show or simply exude the attitude of the show’s characters. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations. List courtesy of

If you’ve found yourself here wondering what Japanese restaurant Rachel told Ben he needed to move on with his life at in Episode 2, my best guess is Shima Japanese Restaurant, a 2nd Ave mainstay. The only clue I have besides the vague description “that sake place on 2nd Ave” and my understanding of the HTMIIA as a downtown kind of crew are the interior shots of the restaurant, and while I haven’t been to Shima, it seems the most likely fit since none of the Japanese restos below are actually on 2nd Ave.

If you’re looking for the Mexican restaurant where Rachel had her birthday party, it was La Esquina in SoHo.

Restaurants Shopping
Diner A.P.C.
Momofuku Ssam Bar Apple Store
Momofuku Milk Bar Barney’s
Little Owl Beacon’s Closet
Spotted Pig Bird
Aldea Built By Wendy
Minetta Tavern Fred Flare
Public John Varvatos
Cosmo’s Diner Muji
Peasant Oak
La Esquina Odin
Blue Ribbon Opening Ceremony
Locanda Verde Prada
Roberta’s Scoop
Fette Sau Steven Alan
Balthazar Tokio 7
Freeman’s Restaurant Top Shop
Motorino Uniqlo
Al Di La
Frankie’s 457
Vinegar Hill House

Unlock BlackBook’s Nightlife Badge on Foursquare! BlackBookMag has also teamed up with the aspirationally driven folks at HBO’s How to Make It in America, and they are proud to offer you the chance to achieve a personal gold standard by unlocking the exclusive BlackBook Nightlife badge on Foursquare. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations (restaurants are the new nightlife, you know), and you’ll get the shiny new Foursquare badge pictured here. Frankly, eating or having a drink at the impressive list of venues is reward enough! But playas play on.

Eligible Check-ins:

Allen & Delancey Japonais
Apothéke Macao Trading Co.
Balthazar Matsuri
Boom Boom Room Morimoto
The Breslin Norwood
Butter Pegu Club
Coffee Shop Per Se
Craft Soho House
Daniel The Spotted Pig
Elmo Tenjune

Live rock and roll karaoke at Arlene’s Grocery
December 30, 2009, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Do, Drink, Listen, Love | Tags: , , , ,

Karaoke is in my blood. Maybe it’s the Korean in me. Maybe it’s because when my dad sings, the skies open up and sunlight floods out as angels bust out harps and trumpets and whatever other angelic instruments there are. Or maybe it’s just plain awesome, period.

I wandered over to Arlene’s Grocery (it is NOT a grocery, by the way) on Monday night for rock and roll karaoke at the request of a very good friend. It’s free, it’s in my neighborhood, and let’s be frank, I had nothing better to do on a Monday night. By the time I arrived around 11 or so, the basement was packed with people wiggling as best they could in the dark, dank, and shwetty space in front of the stage, where thankfully, there is a bar. ($6 will get you a Blue Moon.) There is a LIVE BAND backing you up when you sing, so you can pretend that you are really a rock star and maybe even stage dive after your song (though I suspect that is frowned upon, and you probably won’t be allowed back).

Some things I’ve learned about rock and roll karaoke:

  1. Get there early. The place is open until 3 or 4 am, but dibs on when you sing is first come first serve. You don’t want to end up singing to the four piss drunk people left at the bar at 3 am. Or maybe you do. I suppose that’s up to you.
  2. Have your song of choice ready. The set list is available here. They only allow each song to be performed once in an evening, so have your song all picked out (plus alternates in case it gets taken), and (1) get there early so you don’t end up scrambling at the last minute.
  3. Be prepared to bring it, or at least be aware that some of the other people who are going to sing will make you look bad. NYC is full of talented performers. There are a lot of them at Arlene’s, and some of the regulars will blow your mind. My personal favorite is the little man who sang Pretty Woman wearing a sombrero (which he threw off for dramatic effect) and a green shirt that read, “Single and ready to JINGLE.”
  4. It’s okay if you forget the words or when you’re supposed to start singing. There is a guy in the back who sings backup in case you get caught up in the moment and blank.
  5. If you are really good, everyone screams, “HOLY SHIT!” at the end of your song. You want that.

Arlene’s Grocery, Lower East Side, 95 Stanton Street, NYC. Map it! Live rock and roll karaoke every Monday night form 10 pm till the band gets sick of hearing you sing.