Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Greenlight Bookstore

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  I could spend hours getting lost in a bookstore and it sometimes makes me sad to think that we are moving to a place where you can only download book onto your kindle or ipad.  For me, there is nothing that will replace the way a book feels.  So it always gives me great joy to find a little bookstore, independently owned, like the one I found on my way to the theater the other night, Greenlight Bookstore.  I was on my way to see Geoffrey Rush in "Diary of a Madman" (which I will tell you about tomorrow), and I walked passed and knew that I had to go inside.

After getting home I went to their website and found that it also has a great story.   The two women who started it, Rebecca and Jessica,  had spent a combined 26 years in bookstores and publishing and both knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives working with books.  In 2007 Jessica entered the Brooklyn Business Library's Power Up! business plan competition, and in January 2008 her bookstore business plan was awarded the grand prize of $15,000.  At the same time the Fort Greene Association was trying to build up business in the area and commissioned a survey in which they discovered that a bookstore was one of the things that residents were lacking but really wanted.  They read Jessica's business plan and contacted her to see if she would be interested in putting her bookstore in Fort Greene.  She and Rebecca decided that it would be a perfect place for a bookstore.  They got an overwhelming response from the community and together with individuals, community groups and local business loans they were able to open this fantastic bookstore.  

Greenlight Bookstore has a table dedicated entirely to Brooklyn writers, which was really cool.  The layout in the store is beautiful.  It has a cozy, warm feeling to it and the staff is friendly and very helpful.  It reminds me of being in a small town bookstore, but in Brooklyn.  They also offer story time for kids and reading groups.  I love being able to support the small bookstore and this one is really great.  Warning:  You might just spend hours here, so make sure to leave yourself some time.

Greenlight Bookstore is open daily from 10am - 10pm
686 Fulton Street (at South Portland)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Top of the Rock

I was bartending over the weekend and there were some people in from out of town sitting at my bar.  The woman asked, "If there was one thing you would tell us not to miss while we were here, what would it be?"  I thought about that for a bit.  There are so many great restaurants and museums and theater, but I think the one place I would take someone to if they had never been here before would be Top of the Rock at night.

I went there for the first time a couple of years ago when a friend was in from Italy.  I had always wanted to go, but I guess because I live here it was one of those things I had never gotten around to doing.

One of things that struck me is how beautiful the skyline of New York is.  I have traveled to many places in the last year or so and still I think New York has one of the most striking skylines.  I live here but I don’t get to look at it from somewhere that has a spectacular view of it everyday.  It really almost takes your breath away.  I think the reason that I love Top of the Rock at night as opposed to during the day, is because you get to see it in all it's glory with everything all lit up.  I stood there and thought, I live in one of the most incredible cities of the world.  Every song you could every think of about New York runs through your mind and you feel like every image that you might have had about New York is staring you right in the face.  It is all there at eye level and my response after having lived here for over 15 years was WOW!  So my thought in today’s blog for all you out of towners or even for you folks who live here go to the Top of the Rock.  See the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and Broadway from above.  It will amaze you everytime.

Leave a comment and tell us your "don't miss this while in NYC" thing to do.  

Open Daily from 8am to Midnight - last elevator up at 11pm
Tickets are $22 (discounts available for children, students and seniors)
Entrance is on 50th between 5th and 6th

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Luke's Lobster

I am from Boston (you might know this already if you have been reading my blog for a while).  I am really picky about my lobster.  For the most part, I will only eat it when I am in Massachusetts or in Maine because once you have tasted how sweet and delicious it is coming out of the extremely cold Northeast Atlantic Ocean, you will almost always be disappointed in everything else.  However now there is Luke's Lobster and I daresay I may just be eating a lot of lobster rolls in Manhattan this summer.

Luke Holden, founder of Luke's Lobster, grew up in a small town on the coast of Maine.  He grew up lobstering and open his own lobster company while still in high school.  Pretty impressive!  He then moved to New York to work in finance.  He found himself very unimpressed with the "lobster rolls" he was seeing here in Manhattan.  They were slathered in mayo, filled with celery and incredibly over-priced.  New Englanders do know lobster!  So he called his dad (who owns a seafood processing company in Maine) and together they contacted the lobster men in Maine that they have had longstanding relationships with and now they us the lobster right off the boat from Maine.  It doesn't get much better than that.

I'll admitt, I walked into Luke's with an air of skepicism.  I wasn't ready to buy into the hype and I thought, these people think it's good because they haven't ever had the good stuff.  I walked out feeling as though I just discovered buried treasure.
Lobster Roll minus my first bite - I was so excited I forgot to take the picture first!

The lobster is sweet, fresh and delicious.  There is a dab of mayo and some lemon butter with some secret spices.  This is all served atop a warm buttered bun.  I felt like I had left manhattan and was back in New England.  The inside is so cute.  It looks like a little beach shack on the inside with all the unpretentiousness you find on Cape Cod.

Whether you think you've had good lobster or you know you have, I feel certain that you will love Luke's Lobster.  It is mouthwater good.  And for $15 you will get a huge amount of lobster that you will be hardpressed to find almost anywhere.  I think I am going to have to go back for some New England Clam chowder.  I feel certain it is a test my spoon will stand up to.

Upper West Side:  426 Amsterdam Ave. Between 80th and 81st - 212-877-8800
East Village:  93 E. 7th - 212-387-8487
Upper East Side:  242 E. 81st - 212-249-4241

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I just went to Taberna for the first time.  I have been meaning to go forever.  It is a block from my house and why I have put off going I'm not sure.  The food was fantastic, the atmosphere cozy and inviting and the drinks sublime.  Taberna is all Spanish and mostly tapas (which is traditional in Spain) though there are a few entrees.  The chef, Jennifer Cole, spent a dozen years cooking in Spain and has brought her experience to this fantastic upper west side spot.

The first thing we ordered was a glass of wine and the Rose Cava Sangria.  My friend ordered the Rose Cava Sangria and I wished I had ordered it!  It was the most fantastic sangria I have ever had.  It was a mixture of Rose Cava (obviously) triple sec, brandy and fresh fruit.  Wow!  It was delicious.  It is going to be my new favorite spot this summer.  They have happy hour pitchers of sangria for $13 and seating outside.  Give me one reason not to be a regular there this summer.

For food we started with the croquettes served with hummus for dipping that were great.  I had the seared Angus Steak and the garlic shrimp that were amazing.

Next we had the Baked Goat Cheese with rosemary and honey.  I couldn't help myself.  I ate every last bite.  We ended the evening with the Mackerel with tomato.

It was almost a cerviche; really delicious.   One of my favorite things about eating in Spain was the size of the dish.  Everything is small plates, they bring them out one at a time (like they do at Taberna) and you don't over eat but instead get to taste a lot of different things.  This is the experience you will get at Taberna.  Small and cozy but a real gem.

429 Amsterdam between 80th and 81st

Monday, March 7, 2011

Restaurant Week Boston

If you find yourself in Boston over the next two weeks, restaurant week is a must.  It is a fantastic way to get to experience all the great restaurants in Boston for a fraction of the price.

Restaurant week in Boston runs for the next two weeks:  March 6-11 and March 13 - 18th, weekends are excluded.  Boston's Restaurant Week is a little different than the New York one.  Their lunch menu has two options:  you can either do 2 courses for $15.11 or do 3 courses for $20.11.  Dinner is a 3 course meal for $33.11.  It is a fantastic deal and some of my favorite Boston spots are participating.  Included in that list are B and G Oysters, Marco and Gaslight.  Gaslight is not doing lunch, but with their 3 course meal for $33.11 you get one complimentary glass of wine.  There is a white and red to choose from.  That is a fantastic deal!  It is also a chance to get out there and experience some high-end restaurants without the high-end price.  Go out there and get some restaurant week specials.  It will help cure the winter blues and once it's done, spring will be just around the corner.

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Tapas! More Wine! Vela Tapas in Brooklyn.

Vela Tapas... yes you CAN get tapas in Brooklyn!

Located in Bay Ridge, it's a bit out of the way (unless you are coming from a long day of shopping at Century 21!) But it's very cozy, (in the exposed brick and flickering candles way), and if you are in the neighborhood,  a great spot for a bite and some wine.

The food is good, and they have the tapas standards, like this marinated octopus, charred tomatoes, chick peas that was quite tasty.

They also have some great weeknight wine and sangria specials: we were there on a Thursday and it was half off all bottles of wine!  Apparently they have a great brunch as well, $20 pre-fixe with unlimited beverages (so you can drink your mimosas and bellinis, I'll drink my bloody marys!) Located at 8305 3rd Ave @ 83rd St, 718-680-0800. They are closed on Mondays.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Another great travel app for your iPhone... Flight Tracker!!!

A companion app to FlightBoard, which I reviewed here, Flight Tracker is another useful app available for the iPad or iPhone. I actually have known about it for a while (happen to be partial to a publication who named it one of the top iPhone apps of 2009), but they keep making it better!

It has really lovely, zoomable maps that even work offline, which is great if, oh I don't know... you are on an airplane or something.

You can get real-time flight itinerary updates, and basically everything you need to stay on top of your trip!