The Local Tourist: NOHO

With the season calm and the streets free of too many visitors, it's about that time for a new 'Local Tourist' post. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend the night out in Noho, first catching a show at The Public Theatre and then dining out at trend-lover's hot spot, ACME. Check out the review below!

The Public Theatre "Here Lies Love"

Did you know that David Byrne from Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim collaborated on an album-turned-play about former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos? Yeah, me neither. While I can't claim to be a complete die-hard fan, I must say that I have never heard a Talking Heads song I didn't like. They're one of those bands that come on and I think to myself: why don't I listen to this more regularly? Needless to say, I was excited to see the show. The verdict? Catchy, edgy and undeniably unique.

The first 10 minutes or so admittedly feel a bit contrived, but perhaps that's more of an issue of suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience member than a responsibility of the cast. Once you emotionally delve into the immersive nature of the production, it is a consuming experience in the best way possible. We were gifted with seats overlooking the show below which, to me, was the way to go. I've done General Admission immersive theatre before at Fuerza Bruta and - again, for me, it detracts from the experience because you can't fully allow yourself to enjoy the show when you're constantly being prodded around and told where to stand (Plus, Fuerza Bruta makes your neck hurt). Unless we're talking Sleep No More where the audience has legitimate free reign of the place, I'm just not a personal fan of on-the-floor immersion.

In sum, Here Lies Love is an emotional performance that takes the audience on an informative and intentional escapade of rock-worthy song and dance. 

ACME

Located a convenient two blocks away, ACME is a trendy foodie's paradise. The atmosphere has a chic warmth to it and the service was welcoming. The crispy salmon skin and the foie gras small plates do a terrific job delivering savory flavor, as does the richly satisfying mushroom risotto. Whether ACME shines brighter on its plates or in its glasses is a tough call, though. Their carefully crafted cocktails feel just as much like a work of art as the food does. From the Bourbon Smash to my Salted-caramel Bourbon Hot Chocolate, every sip and bite felt like a true treat. 

While Here Lies Love is no longer running (at least, for the time being) you can always check out The Public Theater's schedule for the latest shows. And in case you're interested, it looks like ACME's already got their Valentine's Day menu up ;).

Source: http://nycprowler.com/prowler/wp-content/u...

5 Tips for Small Kitchen Cooking

As any New Yorker knows, a large and well-equipped kitchen is hard to come by, especially when you’re 20-something and half-broke. Not to worry, though, with a little bit of planning and a healthy dose of resourcefulness, you can happily cook and clean in (almost) any space. I've learned this since moving into my micro-studio this past year and wanted to share a few of my favorite tips and tricks!

MY MICRO KITCHEN!

MY MICRO KITCHEN!

1. Choose Your Kitchen Tools Wisely

Basically, bring the crockpot, but nix the juicer. Where space is limited, prioritization is key. When I first moved into the city, I brought my massive Breville Juicer with me, hence this 3-day juice cleanse I embarked on. I only ever used it that one time, though. Why? Because you can buy a fresh-pressed juice in NYC on every other block for around five bucks. So, after year 1, I took that baby home to Mom & Dad because it simply wasn’t worth all the space it took up. The crockpot, on the other hand, is the perfect NYC cooking machine. It contains 3 pieces which makes for easy cooking and quick clean-up. If you’re pressed for space, just compare. Like, do you really need that ice-cream maker or would that shelf space perhaps better serve a toaster oven?

Anddd just a few of the many, fancy appliances I do NOT have.

Anddd just a few of the many, fancy appliances I do NOT have.

2. Always Make Semi-homemade Dishes

This is actually a great tip for anyone, small kitchen or not. When you cook semi-homemade, there’s simply less prep to worry about and it usually ends up being easier on your budget, too. For instance, I love sautéing a hefty portion of Trader Joe’s fresh pre-cut/washed kale and sliced mushrooms in a pan with some fresh garlic and oil and then adding a bag of TJ’s frozen mushroom risotto on top of it all. If I’m extra hungry, I’ll get a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken as well (nomz). This all takes maybe 15 minutes to prep, cook and plate and it tastes incredibly delicious and refreshing because of the fresh vegetables. Best of all, at the end of the meal, I only have one pan, a stirrer, and a cutting board to clean up. Why break out 5 different measuring cups and a fire up a slew of burners when you can do it all quicker and cheaper?

       3. Add Counter Space Creatively

I was floored when I walked into my current studio for the first time. The kitchen was comprised of a sink and cabinetry, a real refrigerator with a microwave on top, a (working) oven and a gas-burning stove! Who knew a micro studio could fit so much!? It may sound ridiculous, but studio kitchens in NYC often lack at least one of the aforementioned appliances. Needless to say, I was as happy as could be. After I moved in and the enamor wore off, though, I realized that, DUH, I didn’t have a single bit of counter space. Since I spend too much time watching HGTV, I knew I could manage an affordable solution, no illegal renovations necessary. As with most obstacles in life, a little creativity goes a long way! See below's before & after:

4. Invest in Rubber Gloves & Paper Products

If you live in Manhattan in a walk-up, there’s a strong chance you don’t have a dishwasher. Newsflash: this is O.K. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook, it just means you should act like an adult and clean up after yourself.  I know, I know; it’s a novel idea. But rubber gloves will help! Wearing rubber gloves while cleaning dishes means you don’t have to touch any mushy food in the sink (that always grosses me out) and your hands won’t smell like said sink afterward. Most importantly, you can clean your dishes properly since you can wash with scalding hot water without burning yourself. Of course, having paper plates & cups on hand is also helpful for those times when you’re in a rush, having a snack or just trying to veg out and avoid any cleaning whatsoever. 

I think they call this "Kitchen chic."

I think they call this "Kitchen chic."

5. Grocery Shop Frequently

There are a few reasons I suggest this. First, if you have roommates, you don’t want to be hogging the fridge and freezer with all your bulk items. That’s just rude. Even if you live alone, though, it’s still probably best to shop once a week. Assuming you have a healthy diet (or at least want to have one), you will be buying lots of fresh fruit and veggies and you don’t want them hanging around too long and going bad. Even bread and sandwich meats don’t have a very long shelf life. And, who hasn’t “forgotten” about that half-eaten pad thai in the back of the fridge before since it was hidden from sight? Too much uneaten food equates to wasted money and a stinky fridge. And when you live in a small space, a stinky fridge can mean a stinky apartment. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Hope this helps! Have more ideas to add? Comment below!

The Local Tourist: Central Park

All too often I hear people say that they "could never live in New York because there are no trees" and this sentiment just kills me. True, New York is a metropolis and not a rural paradise of rolling hills. So, not every neighborhood has a park and tree-lined streets. However, living on the Upper West Side, I honestly enjoy more greenery and have more interaction with the outdoors here than I ever have elsewhere. 

How could that be, you ask? A large part of that answer is, of course, Central Park.

In the mornings, I walk alongside the park to work. On weekends, I have jogged through its trails, ambled around its lakes, picnicked near the baseball fields, watched concerts at Summer Stage and attended Global Citizens Festival on the Great Lawn. So, when people talk about Central Park, particularly regarding its massive size, I've always felt fairly in-the-know about it. 

That is, until recently. 

The Tourist: Central Park

I usually stroll in from the west side of the park, but recently approached via the very common 6th Ave./Central Park South entrance.  While the terrain was somewhat unfamiliar to me, I figured I’d get my bearings soon enough. After all, the lower part of the park is certainly more occupied and mapped out. However, after a few hundred yards, I began to pass unseen statutes, curious buildings and small ponds. I saw volleyball courts and gigantic boulders seemingly spring out of nowhere and even spotted an elevated carousel-like house built for chess playing. I became smitten with each and every new trail, view and landmark in my path, and it was then that I realized how little I had actually seen of the park the past few years. It truly is huge.

So huge, in fact, that for time-conscious visitors, I would definitely recommend having a plan or destination as opposed to just walking around it aimlessly, since that could easily take up your entire day.

Most notable picks for:

Family-friendly activities: The Central Park Zoo

A  Romantic Date: Kayak, A Guided Walking Tour

Friends: Summer Stage, The Met (Upper East), American Museum of Natural History (Upper West)

The Local: Loeb Boathouse

First off, let’s get something straight: the Loeb Boathouse is no grand secret. It is, however, an absolute gem that remains in certain ways undiscovered. True to my spoiled nature of good luck, I had the opportunity to have dinner there just last week and I would recommend it to anyone. The boathouse simply has that “thing” that people talk about when they speak of the magic that is Manhattan. Set off significantly from the streets but with the backdrop of the city over the water and trees, the atmosphere is both calming and splendid. At one table, a group of women celebrated another’s birthday – standard. At the bar, a local read a book while sipping her drink. Bartenders and managers softly flitted to and fro, greeting her only in the way a regular can be greeted, with a relaxed rhythm and commentary on recent conversations. The lofted ceilings and white pillars overlook a peaceful pond, lined with wooden boats and an authentically Venetian gondolier. Oh, and the food, drinks and service are, without hesitation, superb.

The boathouse, all things considered, is special. It is certainly crafted to attract tourists, but it has a natural way of fitting in comfortably well with the locals, too.  It feels like the subtle-yet-magnificent place one goes to hit pause on life – just for a moment – and to soak in all that is wonderful in the world. 

The Weekend Getaway: Asbury Park, NJ

So. I’m obsessed with the actual “Jersey Shore” and I have a past of being very outspoken about it. Personally, I find this to be completely normal. Not only is Jersey a lovely, dynamic place, but it’s also where I’m from. And, aren’t most people proud of where they’re from?

I grew up at Takanassee Beach Club in Elberon and, while Tak has since closed (#RIP), I still return each summer to spend weekends in Deal and Asbury Park with my family and friends. To me, the Jersey Shore has always just been home – a string of happy, little beaches filled with the brightest, childhood memories possible and interspersed with some of the best Italian food in the world. As I got older though, I quickly realized that – shocker, you guys – not everyone loves New Jersey! In fact, some people really hate us.

I couldn’t comprehend this at first. In college and abroad I would always be asked the staple getting-to-know-you question from various guys, “where are you from?” When responding with anything along the lines of “New Jersey” or “the Jersey Shore,” though, I received everything from laughter to hatred to the haughtiest of apologies for having come from such obvious trash.

Smooth, bros.

It seemed so utterly stupid to judge an entire state and its people off of one stereotype that, mind you, comes from people that are not even from New Jersey! More bothersome, though, was that I couldn’t fathom how someone could deem it appropriate and acceptable to bash someone’s answer to the question “Where are you from?” I mean, isn’t exercising verbal restraint regarding judging another’s home or cultural background LITERALLY RULE NUMBER ONE in having any semblance of manners?

But, alas, I digress. This post isn't for the haters, but for the lovers - and to them, I say welcome! Welcome to the Jersey Shore…the greatest country in the world. 

Where To Stay 

The Berkeley Carteret if you're looking for modern luxury. The Berkeley is a 100 year-old hotel of Victorian style and grandeur that sits atop the famed Asbury Boardwalk. It is so large and sprawling that it can comfortably host large wedding parties without interferring in your small, romantic retreat.

Tides Hotel if you're gay. And fun. Tides is plenty of both, not to mention utterly charming.

The Empress Hotel also if you're gay. However, not a requirement. The Empress has been around fo'eva, having sunk in and rose up with the tides of Asbury's economy over the years. A resort that once hosted the likes of Liza Minelli and Judy Garland and graced the cover of Springsteen's records, The Empress is as iconic and special to the town as Jersey's unspoken mascot, tillie. 

Where to Eat

Toast - for dressing up and going to a delicious brunch with friends 

Porta - for not dressing up and going to brunch for $10 bottomless mimosas. Also, for phenomenal brick oven pizza. Also, for roofies maybe. More on this later.

Frank’s Restaurant – for the most authentic porkroll egg and cheese you’ll ever have. Cash-only and I would recommend take-out.

Goldie’s – for vegan selections or something simply more on the healthy side, accompanied by gorgeous décor in the heart of the arts district.

The Sunset Landing – for feeling as if you're in Grandma's Hawaiian kitchen. A (very) small mom n’ pop place with an open kitchen and surfboards hanging from the ceiling, The Sunset Landing resides on the Asbury Park lake where you can feed the ducks while sipping carrot ginger juice.

Langosta Lounge – for seafood/sushi accompanied by live music and boardwalk seating

Cubacan -  for date night with contemporary cuban with latin fare on the hottest spot on the boardwalk. 

Where to Go Out

Watermark - for the first drink of the trip at least. This cocktail lounge is set in the heart of the boardwalk across from the aforementioned, famed Empress and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The unique cocktails are deliciously crafted by attentive staff in a relaxed, open setting with crisp white lounges and modern couches that you don't have to pay $1000 to sit on. Imagine that!

Beach Bar - for the rum buckets! A great spot to get tuned up with a big group of friends, slightly more north along the boardwalk. While there is some roof coverage, it is pretty much entirely outdoors. Anchor's Bend is right around the corner and generally has live music for a quick visit or change of scene.

Porta - for the experience. Porta is an old-warehouse-turned-gorgeous-three-space-bar with outdoor seating, high-lofted ceilings and a boom-boom-room like no other. It's drawn quite a lot of attention and criticism regarding its rowdiness which makes it, unfortunately, an attraction for fist-pumping visitors. Clearly, though, visitors aren't the only ones patronizing the bar regularly; it's a locals hang as well. Just watch your drink, as the place is rumored to be a roofies hub, and we all know there's nothing like a good 'ol roofie to spoil your day.

Johnny Mac's - for the free pizza ALL day EVERY day. Also for the "Irish Village" decor and late-nighting since it tends to stay open until 2-2:30 whereas most local bars close around 1:30 instead.


Free Yoga in Manhattan: Two Women's Tale

The thought of doing yoga in Bryant Park is a lot like the thought of going on vacation in Newark: a little confusing.

However, when I pulled a muscle on the same day my friend Steph asked me to take Bryant Park’s free yoga class with her, I figured it was a sign. After all, in the same way that a vacation is still a vacation – even if it is in Newark – yoga is still good for pulled muscles, right? 

Whatever, you know what I’m trying to say. I decided to give it a shot. Plus, did I mention it was FREE?

And in case you need some reminding, "free" usually doesn't come as a price tag descriptor in New York. With $35 spin classes and gym membership initiation fees that can top $500, working out can equate to a second rent if you're not careful. This is why I was glad to discover that the good-hearted Yogis of the world are still trying to spread their health practices to everyone, even if that means doling out sessions for free sometimes. So, before we get started on the recap of my own free yoga experience, here are a few helpful links:

If you're group-exercise averted like me, it's nice to know you don't have to commit to a series of pre-paid classes just to get your yoga fix every now and again.

So, that all being said, Thursday evening came and off to Bryant Park we went.  Strolling in a mere 10 minutes before “class” was to start, we were happily surprised to find about 40-50 perfectly placed yoga mats still available for the taking. After all, we had planned on using Steph’s paint-laden towels as our ghetto yoga mat replacements, so this was a significant upgrade.

Our next surprise came in the form of a series of cirque du soleil–esq performances put on by the Yoga Works team, otherwise known as super-in-shape-motherf*ckers-with-mindblowing-bodies. I guess it was supposed to be an inspiring way to start the class - and it was – but it also kind of felt like having your Spanish teacher look directly at you on the first day of class and ramble on in complete foreign-language mode.

Like, lo siento, prof. No hablo espanol, yet.

Anyway, after the slightly intimidating observational yoga session was over, class got going. I had been wondering how we were all going to follow along, but it proved to be a very coordinated experience. On the loud speaker, in the middle of Manhattan, an incredibly soothing voice began coaching us through each move.

Having taken yoga a handful of times previously, we didn’t have much trouble hanging in there, physically. I guess Yoga Works figures if they're leading a free class for 500+ strangers, they may as well stick to the basics (P.S. thanks for that). What we did have trouble with, though, was paying attention.

Allow me to remind you that neither Steph nor I are exactly Yogis (duh). On a good day, I have the attention span of a gnat and the energy of small chihuahua. So, between immature fits of laughter and listening to the guy next to us continuously gossip, I was having a little trouble getting into my om-zone. Then, like a namaste booby trap, Steph spotted a chick two rows ahead of us who had an AVOCADO tattooed on the inside of her arm. An AVOCADO, YOU GUYS.  Naturally, we then played an unspoken game of spot-the-avocado-tat-and-snicker for about 5 minutes or so. 

Moral Of The Story: partaking in outdoor yoga really slates the odds against you in terms of the whole attention span struggle.

Other Moral Of The Story: amidst all the joking and various distractions in the form of cell phones, avocados and  hula-hoopers on the lawn behind us (mental note: join this group next time), it’s really a good time overall. About 40 minutes into the session and sixty-seven hundred downward dogs later, my muscles were loosening a bit and I even stopped hearing the rumblings of Midtown.

Furthermore, we had originally been set on leaving at the 45-minute mark, because #letsbereal, 60 minutes is just a lot for anything. However, upon us making it to 6:45, we suddenly didn’t feel such an immediate urge to leave. Instead, we took the liberty to “freestyle” a bit, if you will, stretching more to our liking and hanging out in corpse pose for a  bit.

Feeling stretched and at ease, we picked up our belongings and then did what any relaxed New Yorker might do: went for a post workout beer!

* Free Yoga Picks were selected from Lisa's site over at Cheap in the City