on Facebook

Thursday, September 27, 2012

(Sort of) Weekly NYC Blog Post 9.27.2012

With all the "specialty" blog posts recently it's been awhile since I've talked about food/drinks in NYC so here's your update.  I've been trying to delve into new areas of interest (cigar bars) and new neighborhoods (Little Italy).


Caracas Arepas
Okay I don't mean to sound like a jerk but I don't really get what all the hoopla is about this place.  It seemed crazy crowded when we got there at 7pm but we were seated almost immediately.

Photo Credit: Reina G from

I started with the Tostones Mochimeros which are fried green plantains topped with mojito mayo, a squeeze of lemon and white cheese.  I also added the table "sauce" for some added spice.  I felt like the plaintains were sort of crunchy like a cracker rather than a fried fruit and the toppings were kind of bland before I added the table sauce.  Good but not great.

Then I ordered the Los Muchachos arepa with grilled chorizo, spicy white cheese, jalapenos and sauted peppers.  Obviously it was meant to be hot but outside of the hotness there wasn't any other flavor.  I couldn't even tell what was in the dish without re-reading the menu.

Last up was the La de Pernil arepa with roasted pork shoulder, tomato slices and spicy mango sauce.  I thought this was much more balanced in terms of flavors but needed more than just meat and tomato to really round it out.  Oh and did I mention it took FOREVER to get our food?  I don't know.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  Not a bad meal but I don't need to go back.

I wandered into this bar to meet up with friends to watch the football game around 2pm on a Sunday.  There was a fair amount of people around and a huge projector screen set up but still plenty of room to sit which I liked.  They had a good menu of craft beers including Hitachino White which is a favorite however my friends said the mussels and fries was sub-par so hard to say whether you should eat here or not.  We only hung out there for awhile but I like the look of the place, the waitress was super sweet and attentive and the general atmosphere was friendly and unpretentious.  I would definitely go back.

  Photo Credit: Coopers Website

The Immigrant
So this place was a little stressful at first because it fits very few people and my friend that I was with felt that there were a lot of open spaces which didn't sync with the fact they told us we had to wait for a spot.  Finally after some terrible communication skills on the bartender's part we ended up at the front table by the window (the best seat in the house).  After that squabble ended we had a lovely time and the service was great.  We didn't eat here; we just shared a great bottle of white wine and chatted.  I would come back here maybe at a time/day when it's less likely to be crowded although you could probably find a slightly less pretentious, equally delightful, tucked-away bar elsewhere in the East Village.

Photo Credit: Immigrant Website
Northern Spy Food
So this restaurant is suuuper interesting.  The first time I went I walked in on a special dinner they were doing; the theme was "Tomato."  You are supposed to reserve a table for this (4 courses for $50 a person) but they had an extra spot so we decided to stay and try it out!  I'm sort of bummed because I'm positive I took pictures of each course but they seem to have disappeared from my phone.  I at least snagged the menu so you can see the types of dishes they offered.  All four courses were tasted fresh, unique and delicious.  I was extra impressed how they could create four dishes all incorporating tomatoes that could all taste so different!
  • Gazpacho with cucumber, red pepper and tomato sorbet
  • Fried green tomatoes with peekytoe crab, corn and purslane (they held the crab for me)
  • Heirloom tomato lasagna with fresh pasta, cottage cheese and spinach
  • Tomato linzer torte with raspberries and lemon balm ice cream
I have since been back to Northern Spy Food for brunch over the past weekend and had another great experience.  This time I will also add that the service and the playlist are both GREAT.

Photo Credit: Northern Spy Food Website

I ordered the lemonade seltzer drink which is one of the best drinks I've had EVER (non-alcoholic), the biscuits, the bacon, and the pickled eggs.  The biscuits were a little oily and strangely hot in some parts and cold in others but overall they were good especially with the delicious jam that goes with it.  The bacon was a little "floppy" for me but I still ate around the fatty parts.  Lastly the pickled eggs came and they were PINK!  So crazy looking and very strange tasting (still not sure if I liked it or not) but it was fun to try something that looked and tasted so ridiculous.  If you want a culinary adventure I would order them.  I will definitely be back to this restaurant.

I came to Royale on a Sunday for a birthday party.  The birthday girl had reserved a table on the back outdoor patio which had access to one large flat screen showing football.  I really like the laidback atmosphere of the place - we ended up taking up a lot of space to play Apples to Apples and other boardgames (it was a princess themed party).  I also ordered the chicken fingers which come with BBQ sauce and honey mustard.  They were strange looking (were the size of actual fingers instead of the large flat pieces you usually see) but very tasty.  The breading was very light and the chicken tasted fresh.  Their onion rings were also amazing as they were mostly onion rather than breading and HUGE.  Oh and the Royale Burger is also sloppy, juicy deliciousness.

On the flipside the bloody marys here are TERRIBLE.  I ordered one and could barely take more than a sip and then ordered a second one assuming it was a fluke.  That one was equally as bad.  I recommend going with Bud Light - it never fails me.  I would definitely come back to take advantage of the patio again (the waitress was really nice too) to watch football.

Photo Credit:

Three of Cups
I met up with one of my friends on a lovely NYC day where the raining was pouring in buckets onto the streets.  My friend had to wring her socks out on arrival...twice!  So we were definitely in the mood to cozy up in the bar and chow down on red wine and piping hot pizza.  We were not disappointed.  We split the Sopressata pizza with Italian dried sausage with mozzarella and asiago cheese, onion and cherry peppers.  It was slightly spicy, super cheesy and crispy!  SOO GOOD.  I will definitely be back here.

Photo Credit: Three of Cups Website

Yuca Bar
I feel like Yuca Bar is my new "Cafeteria," that place I should've gone to the moment I moved to the East Village yet had never managed to get to.  Well boy have I been there now and I ate my face off.  I don't know what it is about college football and Bud Lights but boy do they make me crave Mexican food.  The place also has a super fun, lively atmosphere without being too hectic.

Photo Credit: Yuca Bar Website

I started off with the taquitos de carne which was skirt steak in soft tortilla topped with pico de gallo and cilantro cream. BUENO.

Then I moved on to the "albondigas" also known as Spanish meat balls in chipotle-tomato sauce topped with melted cheese.  BUENO.

And I finished with the arepa con carne which was a corn cake topped with shredded beef fricassee and drizzled with sour cream. MUY BUENO.

I will definitely be back here over and over and over again.


Hudson Terrace
Last December we had our holiday at the Hudson Terrace bar which was nice (for a work event) but I had never been to the actual terrace.  I had the "pleasure" of checking it out last Friday and I think I lasted maybe two seconds.  You either need to be 18 years old in a super slutty dress or 40 years old and looking to mack on 18 year old hookers.  I sadly no longer fit that description and felt immediately overwhelmed by the youthful shrieking going on around me.  However I did manage to try out the grapefruit mixed drink which was delightful.  Feel free to try this place out if you fit in the over/under age range or go DRUNK.  I will probably pass on this place moving forward.  Good luck!


Okay I don't even know where to start with this one.  My friend suggested we go there because HE had a friend in town for her birthday and she loves musicals.  So somehow we end up going to Puglia for dinner because there is a man named Jorge who gets behind the keyboard and plays his own original song called, The Napkin Song.  When this plays you jump up on your chair and wave your napkin in the air.  It is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen - reminiscent of the shenanigans that occur at the dueling piano bar in historic San Diego.  We gorged on Italian food and wine with occasional interludes from Jorge.  It makes for an awesome birthday although the food isn't anything super special.  Also a great introduction to Little Italy.



After so often the managers from my work get together for a dinner and for this dinner the restaurant of choice was Tenpenny.  We had to order from a prix fixe menu which I was actually excited about because there was an appetizer, entree and dessert that sounded like they were right up my alley.  The first course was crispy artichokes with lemon aioli and hickory-smoked trout roe.  Deliciously crispy.

The next course was "fried chicken" with polenta, kalamata olives, spinach and tomato buerre blanc but the resulting presentation was REALLY weird.  The chicken was in chunks wrapped in fried dough that was fairly burnt.  The polenta came in squares with a weird jelly filling and the spinach was just lopped on the side by itself.  It was just not what I was expecting and not very good at that.  Pass on this course.

The final course was chocolate caramel mousse with espresso anglais and toasted hazelnuts which was creamy, chocolately heavenly.  The chocolate stick was an extra awesome touch.  Positive points on this one.

Overall the service was decent (it was a large group so I expected less personal attention) and the pretzel bread they serve is really yummy.  The one thing I highly recommend staying away from are the mixed drinks.  I ordered "The Ocelot" which is herradura blanco, jalapeno-lime cordial, aperol with a splash of soda.  It was TERRIBLE.  Like I almost spit it back up.  GROSS.  AVOID AVOID AVOID.  Worst drink I've ever had.  So overall gotta say that I don't need to come back although I do think there are good things on the menu so you should try it!

Photo Credit: Tenpenny Website


Bar and Books
This place makes me feel like I'm in an episode of Mad Men.  The entire place is made of what appears to be "rich mahogany" and red leather.  The smokey smell of cigars permeate the air mixing with the sweet aroma of port.  I could and have spent hours here and will go back again even after waking up smelling like an ashtray.  Get classy New York.  Hit up Bar and Books.  You will probably see me there...

Photo Credit: Bar and Books Website

My NYC Cultural Weekend

So it may not be from just the last week due to the plethora of Los Angeles and Croatia-based blogs these past few weeks but I'm finally back on track with new activities, restaurants and bars in NYC.

This particular blog outlines some of the top summer activities that I managed to squeeze in RIGHT before they ended for the summer.  However they come back every year so check out their websites next summer for more information on how you can participate!

PS1: Warm Up
First up is PS1 which is an extension of MoMA that occurs every summer.  Here is a quick excerpt from their website explaining the event:

"MoMA PS1 presents Warm Up 2012, beginning July 7 and taking place every Saturday this summer through September 8. Now celebrating its 15th year, the museum's highly anticipated outdoor series will continue its tradition of introducing audiences to the best in experimental live music, sound, performance, and DJs. The annual series is held in MoMA PS1's courtyard, which this year will feature a temporary urban landscape by HWKN called Wendy, the winning design of MoMA PS1's 13th annual Young Architects Program. M. Wells will be cooking in the courtyard all summer long."

In a nutshell, it's a huge outside dance party within the walls of the MoMA extension building which also features a bunch of art exhibits inside the building itself.  Additionally each year a new installation is erected outside built by the winner of the Young Architects Program initiative.  This year was a giant blue star while past years have featured everything from bounce balls to light displays. 


My favorite indoor exhibit was an installation series called "Just Knocked Out" by Lara Favaretto whose works echo the ways in which things decay over time only to be rebirthed as pieces of new exhibits.

Overall I really liked the art exhibits and the general concept however the music that day and the outdoor sculpture weren't all that interesting to me.  However, I definitely plan on coming back next year if only to see what new things they've created in my absence.

Every Saturday through November 18th, Smorgasburg pops up on the "shore" of the East River in Williamsburg to delight the taste buds of New York foodies (one of two locations) from 11am to 6pm, rain or shine.  We happened to pick a very "shine" day (aka hot as hell) so I think I mostly selected places selling interesting drinks that I could continue to gulp down while standing in the shade.

This method meant that I started my foodie journey at La Casa de Camba where I selected one of their four soda-based drinks, the Marcuya-Lemonade which from what I could tell was a mixture of lemonade, passion fruit and soda.  It was sadly gone far too quickly.  Also in a gametime decision I ordered salteñas because, well, everyone else was and I came down with a bad case of food envy.  The salteñas was okay...I felt like the dough around the meat was too thick and rubbery and the pocket was mostly filled with sauce instead of meat.  It tasted fine - maybe it just wasn't what I expected a Bolivian "empanada" to taste like.  However, I'm glad I was adventurous and tried it!  Chuck Norris on the other hand is a HUGE fan (see photo below).

Somewhat full, I then passed Brooklyn Piggies and had no choice but to try them (pigs in a blanket rank as one of my top favorite foods).  Each order is three "piggies" and you can choose from original, spicy, chicken and tofu.  I really wanted spicy but couldn't be bothered to wait 15 minutes for the new batch so I just went with original.  They were SO good.  The dough around the hotdog was light and crispy and they were piping hot.  I'm salivating a little just thinking about it. 

At this point all the dough and meat and sun had made me a little wobbly so it was time to retire to SmorgasBar where I tried the Brooklyn Soda Works’ grapefruit-jalapeno-honey soda with Kings County’s Moonshine mixed in.  Let me say that for approximately $11 it seems like a pricey drink until you realize it's about 2/3 whiskey.  Talk about 5:00 somewhere... it was about 2pm and I was definitely enjoying myself!


The Whitney
So embarrassingly of all the museums in New York I've only yet made it to the Met and now PS1 (if it can count as a museum).  So when I found out that Yayoi Kusama was going to be at the Whitney my roommate and I jumped at the chance to go and see her.  I had already seen her exhibit in Madrid last summer so I was eager to see how this new exhibit might be different.  Turns out it was MUCH bigger and featured a lot of her sketches, letters, and other "side" art outside of the popular stuff that she is most known for.  The other exhibits in the building were pretty lame but I highly recommend going to see hers!  Also her most famous installation "Fireflies on Water" is separate from the regular entry fee - you have to get there early the day of to grab one of the finite number they give out each day.  The cool thing I didn't realize is that each museum's "Fireflies on Water" is unique so this one is completely different then the version I saw in Madrid.  Had I known I would've gotten a ticket!

Beekman Beer Garden
So the last event of my weekend was probably the least "cultural" but one of my favorites and still involved music so I felt like it counted.  I went to a DJ event at the Beekman Beer Garden on the East River.  The beer garden is also a "beach club" in the sense that outside the DJ tent it was all sand and picnic tables.  I have NEVER heard of this place until this night and it is SO cool.  I plan on coming here a ton at least until winter sets in.  I wish I'd heard of it earlier in the summer so I could've taken advantage more!  Not sure what it's like when there isn't an event going on but the views of the river and the bridges are amazing at night.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Final Stop - Club Paradise in Novalja/Zcre Beach, Croatia

I hate to write part four because in finishing my story it's as if the adventure itself is finally finished.  At least writing it will memorialize it forever.  With that I give you the final chapter... Pag Island, Novalja, and Zrce Beach.

Thursday, August 16, 2012
Somewhat tired of Split, we checked out extra early so that we could see some of the sights on our drive from Split to Novalja on Pag Island.  We'd heard about some spectacular waterfalls, Krka Falls, that were conveniently on the way.  After a breakfast of famous chocolate gelato, we jumped in the car, and after some intense navigating, made it onto the A1 freeway.  Time for some REAL driving.  Music blasting, I can say I definitely enjoyed the higher speed limits and wide open pavement.

The best way to see Krka Falls is to drive to the town of Skradin where you can park your car for about 40 kuna and then take the free boat to the park entrance.  The town of Skradin is quaint and pretty adorable.


We had a car so we obviously drove there but you could just as easily book a tour from Split. You do need a couple of hours to really bother going through between driving there (about an hour), parking, taking the boat there, looking around/swimming, taking the boat back, etc.

The entry fee was about 85 kuna per person and the park was OVERRUN with people.  You had about two seconds to stand on the bridge and look at the waterfall before being pushed forward by the sheer crush of people trying to get their token tourist photo.  It would've been really enjoyable to sit in the water and swim but we'd brought our purses filled with money and passports so we weren't comfortable leaving them on the shore to take a dive.  Honestly there were so many people that it gave me anxiety and so we left.  Kind of a waste of money for a waterfall that is definitely beautiful but not THAT exciting.

The rest of the day was spent driving onto Pag Island (this island's got a bridge woohoo!) which took at three hours.  The drive there was absolutely breathtaking like the below picture of Pag Town.

After some more creative navigating we found the Big Yellow Hostel and managed to steal the last parking spot.  The hostel was run by a man with an unwashed ponytail and a lazy eye whose sense of humor was fairly strange.  The hostel itself was dirty, creaky and filled with an assortment of very strange hippy people that reminded me of some parallel, Mad Men episode.


Lil Sass was NOT having it and insisted that we wander through town to see if we could land an apartment rental in someone's house (don't worry this is super common in Croatia).  After about 30 minutes we finally found a home owned by an old woman and her husband.  For 900 kuna for three nights it was CHEAPER than the hostel and it was super clean with a really comfy bed, a private shower and a parking spot!  This discovery put both of us in a far better mood.  My recommendation for those traveling to Croatia, and especially Novalja, would be to still book a hostel, even if it isn't the nicest, as a back-up and then upon arrival try and find better accommodation.

For dinner we wandered the main street along the water until we came across a restaurant called Moby Dick which seemed pretty popular and had a great American playlist.  I ordered the green pasta with steamed salmon and shared a 70 kuna liter of wine with Lil Sass.  Talk about a good deal!!  The food was delicious even if our waiter was a little hair-brained and somewhat slow.

From dinner, we walked a block down to Cocomo, which is a sort of clubby bar scene with questionable drinks and more great music.  The back area becomes a sweaty dancefloor with very little ventilation so we stuck more towards the front which is open air and really nice.  After an hour or so we made friends with two Italians and two Africans (living in Italy) who were all traveling together.  They had a car and one of the guys didn't drink so we got a free ride to Zrce Beach.

Zrce Beach has been heralded as the "Ibiza" of eastern Europe with multiple open air clubs and famous DJs spinning there during July and August each summer.  We ended up at Papaya, one such club, dancing until 4 am at which point the guys kindly drove us home.  The scene is awesome although the music that particular night was a little too trance for me. 

Friday, August 17, 2012
Today began our trend of waking up and catching up on our emails while drinking espresso at Art Caffe in the main square.  They have free wifi if you order a drink.  The espresso was really tasty too!

We spent the rest of the morning wandering through town along the coast stopping at intervals at each of the little pebble beaches.  The water closer to town is a little murky and trashy but if you walk far enough along the coast towards deeper water that are some really nice secluded little areas among the rocks to stop and nap for awhile.


I had this insane craving for tuna fish so we stopped at one of the local markets where I bought tuna, crackers, mayo and some other random Croatian snacks.  Turns out the tuna had a bunch of season and vegetables in it (ick! I hate veggies) so I spent quite awhile trying to dissect the tuna away from the rest of the ingredients.  The end result wasn't super satisfying...

After spending a million hours sitting in the refreshing ocean water, we went back to the apartment to nap, shower and head out for dinner.  I have to admit that most of the places to eat looked pretty lame both in terms of menu options as well as atmosphere so we ended up doing the EXACT same thing we did last night - Moby Dick, Cocomo, and Papaya.  This time at Cocomo we made friends with three Spaniards from Barcelona - Albert, Jordi and Oriole - and Rok from Slovenia. 

Papaya this time was absolute epic!  Alesso from Swedish House Mafia spun all night long and we definitely came home at 7am with the sun.  It was well worth the 150 kuna entrance fee.  This time we took the bus both ways which was super easy and I think about 20 kuna per person.  I was particularly vocal about getting pizza so we bought some and sat eating it in front of our apartment until the boys were shooed away by the neighbors like stray dogs.  So entertaining.

Saturday, August 18, 2012
Today we decided to head the opposite direction down the coast after our traditional morning espresso run. This direction afforded little stone docks to lie on as opposed to the rocky coastline from yesterday.  The water also seemed clearer.  We lazied around all day and then went back to take another nap before dinner.

On our way to dinner we ended up randomly running into the Spaniards again and so we invited them to dinner at, you guessed it, MOBY DICK!  I'd also like to point out that we had the same ridiculous waiter all three nights so this time we felt we had to get a picture of him! 


However, I couldn't do the green salmon pasta for a third night so I ordered the kebab platter.  It was REALLY good.

Also as we sat down, I look straight in front of me only to see The Rok and his Slovenian friends sitting at the table across from us ("Marco Polo!").  Small. Town.  Jordi kept us giggling through the majority of dinner thanks to crude, ridiculous conversation topics.  In keeping with more tradition we ended up back at Cocomo to dance the night out, however I drew the line at going to Zrce for a third night because we needed to be up early the next day for the harrowing drive all the way back to Dubrovnik.

Sunday, August 19, 2012
We were up early to drive back to Dubrovnik which I was anticipating would take like 10 hours.  Turns out it was closer to seven which was really nice and gave us time to stop to take pictures of the incredible views along the road home.


We checked back into Fresh Sheets again and this time they tried to put us in the two person room within the hostel.  It didn't have AC, was really small, and had a tiny window (like an attic) which we kind of argued back about considering we were paying for the "same room" and/or an equivalent room.  They were very understanding and set it up so we could have a room in another apartment nearby.  I feel like in Croatia they just have tons of family and friends with rooms that can be rented out at a moment's notice.

We decided to return to Taj Mahal for our final dinner where we shared a table with two Canadians who had also just come from Yacht Week and had nothing but good things to say.

Once dinner was over we headed back to shower and pack and reflect on what I must say was one of the best vacations of my life.  I hope that some of the people I've met on this trip become lifelong friends and that Croatia is still just as amazing when I return in a year to try out Yacht Week for myself.  Until then...