Restaurants »Sarge’s

548 3rd Ave

Sarge’s is a quintessential NY deli that’s been slinging huge sandwiches and egg creams since 1964. It’s famous: the kind of place tourists read about in guide books, regulars frequent religiously, and has head shots of famous visitors plastering the walls – but it’s not necessarily a spot all locals have been.

We got our opportunity when a quick doctor appointment left us at lunch time in Midtown with a sitter already watching Van. I jumped at the idea since I have been Reuben crazy lately – mostly because it’s one of the only sandwiches I  can have while pregnant due to its steaming hot meat.

Here the Reuben is gigantic, it makes your eyes bulge in shock when the plate is presented in front of you. The ingredients are top quality and they give a side of dressing so you can add to your taste. My only qualm is that, truth be told, I think a Reuben benefits from a bit more balance of ingredients – namely less meat – but the jaw busting sandwich is what they do and it’s fun to be part of the tradition. The wash it all down, the egg cream is great.

If you fear it will be teaming with tourists, you are correct – and boy, can they be rude. The guy next to us told the life long waitress, before she even had a chance to say hello “Listen can we make this enjoyable for my friend and I? Can we at least try that honey, thanks. And if I want coffee I will ask for it after my meal” in a lazy Southern draw and a Wilson’s leather jacket. At the other table Jersey kids discussed disappointment that you “still had to pay some money” for counterfeit purses in Chinatown. On the plus side, it makes you proud to be a New Yorker.

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Posted on April 2, 2012

Spend a Couple Hours »Weegee: Murder Is My Business

at The ICP Museum, 1133 Ave of the Americas

I’ve been looking forward to the ICP Weegee show Murder is My Business for months and it didn’t disappoint.

The larger than life tabloid photographer, never squeamish, brought the bloody and violent truth of NYC crime to the front page with shots of recently killed gangsters (and innocents), taken sometimes before the police even arrived (his nickname came from the Ouija board because people joked he used it’s powers to know about crimes.)

His images, though gruesome, are rarely without a sense of humor though. He not only took photos of the gorey, but often captured he way New Yorkers accepted the violence around them, often convening around crime scenes with smiles on their faces.

His Coney Island images, reversely, always have an element of creepiness among the smiles and summer fun.

ICP has added a couple neat components to the show including a replica of his room and an interactive station that shows Weegee’s images next to the current locations in NYC. It’s hard to imagine people being shot in broad daylight on the steps of the chic stores in Soho and Little Italy.

Fans will be thrilled, but the salacious material should gather new fans too. Don’t forget the gift shop – I always like to get a little something from the best shows I see and they have mugs, totes, pins, and posters.

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Posted on February 12, 2012

Restaurants »Obika Mozzarella Bar

590 Madison Ave

An entire restaurant devoted to fresh mozzarella cheese?

Yes thank you!

Obika is an Italian transplant rather strangely located in the lobby of the midtown IBM building.

Sandwiches are available to go but we relaxed a bit and ate from their sit down menu.

It took all of three seconds to decide on my order: anchovies, sun dried tomatoes and burata mozzarella though Mike’s meaty salad and Shaun’s smoked mozzarella with pesto and tomatoes were equally good (especially that smoked mozzarella).

A great, unique and comparatively affordable lunch spot in an otherwise kind of tough neighborhood for food.

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Posted on January 9, 2012

Spend a Couple Hours »Wang Qingsong: When Worlds Collide

at The ICP, 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street

The main floor of the ICP is devoted to the historically important uncovering of thought to have been lost Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim photographs of the Spanish Civil War, but at the risk of sounding uncultured, it wasn’t totally my thing. I found the downstairs exhibits much more interesting starting with the staged giant photographs by China’s Wang Qingsong.

While on a simply visual level they are impressive for the amount of effort to elaborately stage the scenes they remind me a little of the glossy hyper real work of someone like David LaChapelle (who, for the record I can’t call my self a fan of). Thematically, though these imposing images are far more complex and interesting. The modern story of China is infinitely intriguing and Qingsong’s interpretation of recent history – particularly it’s new role in and fascination with consumerism – is thought provoking and revealed things I didn;t know before.

Around the corner is a much smaller exhibit of Baptism photographs and postcards. There’s something haunting and almost eerie about a baptism (just ask the people that made the intro to True Blood). Strolling past the images, I was drawn into the ritual, the costume, and the often blurred faces that looked like ghosts. The tone takes a dramatic shift, however when you read the ignorant and often downright racist messages on the back of some of the postcards. Baptisms were seen as very exotic by visitors and though probably never witnessed by most, postcards depicting the act were sent back home for relatives and loved ones to marvel at the strangeness of it all.

Next door are the photographs of Alonzo Jordan. If the baptism images show the divide between cultures, his show the similarities between black and white communities. Smiling gorgeous young African American men and women celebrate birthdays, weddings, home coming dances and football victories even as the realities of racism simmered in the back ground. In 1998, the town of Jasper, which these photographs capture years before, was home to one of the worst racial motivated murders in US history when James Byrd, Jr was dragged to his death. That one can clearly see in these photographs that the black people of the community were truly equal in their hopes and dreams makes the sting of reality that much more painful and hard to understand.

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Posted on March 16, 2011

Restaurants »Bonchon Chicken

325 5th Ave and Various Locations

Korean fried chicken has been on my to eat list for ages and I finally managed to meet up with a friend for lunch at the newly opened Bonchon on 5th ave st only just days ago. While this particular location still seemed to be working out some kinks (three irate to-go men where fuming for over 30 minutes before their orders arrived) we fared better seated in the unfashionable black leather booths. The timelessness of the ambiance –  in a karaoke joint kind of way – was further enhanced by a large screen that played videos from the past few decades from solo Nick Lashay to Lady Gaga to Sarah McLaughlan. All of this matters not to the food though, and who goes out for fried chicken to be surrounded in sophisticated elegance anyway?

The chicken is great – must be that “secret taste” they brag about on their site. We split a medium (plenty for two people with normal appetites, small for those that want to pig out) platter, white meat, half and half soy garlic and sweet spicy glaze. The difference to KFC or similar is significant. This is crispy, almost light (at least by fried food standards), with non of that face shining greasiness. This is because they remove the fatty skin before frying.

The glazes, which I worried would be sticky and overwhelming are sparingly applied and quite good – not gooey or too saccharine. I preferred what we believe was the garlic glaze and the kimchee coleslaw makes for a nice side – and that’s coming from someone who does not count herself a fan of the  cold (usually bland) picnic staple.

I plan to try and compare with Kyochon, the space agey place up the street which I’ve been told does Korean fried chicken in a totally different way. While I may be very late to this culinary trend, I am happily won over by it.

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Posted on August 22, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

333 East 47th Street

Some art shows that I have been excited about (talking to you Younger Than I’ll Be at BAM) are disappointing in their scope, offering little more than the images released online, the incredible, awe inspiring, amazingly inspiring and exquisitely beautiful Utagawa Kuniyoshi exhibit: Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters at the Japan Society is the exact opposite. Room after room offered more stunning work in this comprehensive exploration of the artist career is almost overwhelming – but in a most excellent way. My dad exclaimed it to be the best art show he’s ever been to, and if these close up images strike your fancy at all (and they are really only poor quality photos from my camera off the exhibit book) you need to see this in person. I walked away so completely inspired and can guarantee you will too.

The museum itself is also worth noting as a pretty neat spot that also features Japanese language classes, sake tastings, and other events including film screenings. Some limited reproduction prints as well as a beautiful book are available for sale on this particular exhibition.

Click here for the rest of Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

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Posted on May 9, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Tim Burton Exhibit

tim burton moma
at the MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street

In what must be the museum’s most talked about exhibit of 2009, the life’s work of the darkly comic and inventive Tim Burton is on vibrant and thrilling display now through April 26th. The scope of the work, from his teenage short stories about evil doctors to his latest sketches for the yet to be released Alice in Wonderland, is impressive and truly inspiring.

The exhibit opens with a kooky black and white walkway playing some of his Stain Boy cartoons, which makes you feel like you’ve walked onto one of his sets (you’ll also feel a strong urge to re-watch Beetlejuice). Next comes the circusy black-light room with a moving carousel Burton made especially for the exhibit – all of the sculptures, including this one are fantastic (I especially love the crazed Campbell soup kids singed by fire) and be sure to look up as some are hung quite high. Many of the sculptures were created by Rick Heinrichs and Neal Scanlan Studios.

Just as cool as the huge 3-dimensional works are the simple and whimsical sketches. Among my favorite are The Teenager, Little Dead Riding Hood, and the monster drawings.  It’s also very awesome to see some of the iconic costumes and props from his films, including the Ed Wood’s angora sweater, Cat Woman’s get up, the Edward Scissorhands costume, and a crazy-in-person textured headless horseman cape.

As a fan of Burton for years, I was particularly tickled, but even coworkers who were not familiar with his work became enamored of his amazing imagination.

Click here for the rest of Tim Burton Exhibit

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Posted on December 26, 2009

Restaurants »Aquavit

It's been years since we have indulged at the amazing Aquavit restaurant. Since then, it's changed locations and gone is the Rockefeller indoor waterfall. It was not missed in the face of their 48 dollar epic buffet brunch.

As you go through the offerings, one plate at a time, you'll start (if you follow the suggested order explained in the menu) with eight different kinds of herring. The pickled and the garlic were my favorite. Next comes my favorite section: both hot smoked and cured salmons with sauces. Move on to cold cuts including a supreme salami and cheeses including a sharp swiss. Next are the hot entrees and no matter how full you are, the meatballs and lingonberries are no to be missed. But you won't be done until several of the bite sized and larger desserts are consumed.

It's decadent and indulgent. We had to rest between platings and left stuffed with the cuisine of Sweden to the brim. A crisp beer or a danish mary (made with dill infused auavit) accompany the breakfast.

The atmosphere is sophisticated but more laid back than I expected which was nice. You'll be sharing space with tourists with more adventurous palettes and old moneyed people who embark on this pricey brunch regularly. For us it's a once a year extravagance that I hope to turn into a yearly tradition.

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Posted on August 3, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Richard Avedon at ICP

richard avedon at icpThe Richard Avedon show at ICP will inspire you to add some glamor into your life with the parade of enviable cinched waists, hats by Paulette and Lilly Dache, arm candy like Gardner McKay and Mike Nichols, and of course gowns, suits, and coats by decades of the worlds best designers like Dior, Gres, Fath, Balmain, Patou, Carnegie, Cardin, and Galliano.

The photos of familiar names like Audrey Hepburn, Suzy Parker – who poses on one of my favorite photos with Chanel, and Lauren Hutton – also in a favorite shot, smoking a joint on the beaches of the Bahamas – sit next to a long list of new names, at least to me that I have had tons of fun researching since: China Machado (our first non-Caucasian covergirl), Sunny Harnett (a statuesque blond that managed to look high class 1980s in 1954), Henrietta Tiarks (one of “the best known debutantes of the 50s”), and Emilien Bouglione (the beginning of a long line of circus performers).

Also on view are neat wire miniatures in costumes photographed by David Seidner, it was in this corner that we saw gray haired grand dame (who we all fell in love with in Unzipped) Polly Mellen, who disappeared as quickly and surely as she came.

A gorgeous, huge book accompanies the show and includes more photos but has a hefty price tag ($85). Sarafina and I settled instead for the $2 winking eye of Jean Shrimpton button.

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Posted on June 1, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »FAO Schwartz

muppet wall at fao schwartzI have not walked the bright and cheery halls of FAO Schwartz in years, probably since I was a kid, but it still holds magic for me as an adult. There are actors a plenty speaking from the diaphragm to entice you inside, men and women in costume that bring to mind images of Santaland Diaries, especially when they crack and you see a little bit of madness in their eyes. Right inside there are huge Lego creations of your favorite fictional heroes, toy helicopters floating overhead, and perched above are giant stuffed animal dragons and unicorns (now on sale, mom!).

Retro is the word throughout the store, not only with an adorable version of Mikey Mouse that looks like a modern interpretation of?the old black and white cartoons but with a history of candies display that is just a mouth full of cavities waiting to happen. Plus, it is Barbie's birthday! And in honor of her, special edition Barbies throughout the ages are being sold (I kind of want the 1962 bubble hair one AND the Barbie and the Rockers one).

You can also find Josephine Baker Barbie, Alvin Ailey Barbie, Speed Racer Barbie, and even a pair of Juicy Couture Barbies. Most exciting, though, particularly for the tons of little girls we saw celebrating a pink birthday party, is a computer station that lets you customize your own doll, then buy it. A runway of Barbies of your creation strut down an electronic runway to boot.

That kind of customization is also a very exciting part of the store – and the most fun example is the Muppet making station, where you can create your own little friend. I am seeing a very awesome birthday present for a few people I know in the future?br/>
See some of my photos here.

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Posted on June 1, 2009