Big Apple Life

/Big Apple Life

A collection of posts on Life in the Big Apple along with interviews with foodie friends

Miznon, Chelsea, NYC

Miznon — also in Tel Aviv, Vienna and Paris — specializes in putting things into a big fat thick amazing pita bread.  When they recently opened inside Chelsea Market, I was invited with many other writers to sample their goodies. While sipping on an Arak Mojito ($11), I sampled a variety of their filled pitas. Arak, BTW, is a distilled spirit with an anise flavor, somewhat similar to absinthe. Back to the main happenings: my two favorites in pita included a blend of wild mushrooms ($11) with scallions and a soupçon of sour cream and, of course, the large deep-fried falafel ($11). Also good are the tender grass-fed minute steak [...]

By | April 20th, 2018|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

The Greek, Tribeca, NYC

Recently attended a dinner at The Greek in Tribeca, featuring the wines from Naoussa from the northwest region of Macedonia, Greece. I was introduced to the Xinomavro (tzsee-NOH-mah-vro) varietal, a red wine with great aging potential as it's high in both acid and tannins. Since it's a food friendly-wine (I enjoyed this red wine much better with food!), we sampled the Xinomavro from many vineyards and some cooperatives along with various offerings from The Greek. Those included: Naoussa Kokkinos Winery Mavro Elinos Winery Damascenos Co-op Vaeni Naoussa Argatia Winery Naoussa Reserve Tsantali Winery Grande Reserve Co-op Vaeni Grande Reserve Boutari Winery Naoussa 2000 Co-op Vaeni Food-wise, I'd recommend the tyrokafteri [...]

By | April 15th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Cookshop, Chelsea, NYC + Yayoi Kusama

Silly New Yorkers. We stood in line out in the cold to see the immersive “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” free exhibit in Chelsea as it was closing in two days.  It was worth the wait. Afterward, we headed nearby to Cookshop for a quick bite. We each ordered a bowl of soup — white bean, fennel and escarole — to help warm our innards.  Hearty and good, albeit a bit salty. The moist and tender Albacore tuna came atop broccoli, citrus pieces and a mellow castelvetrano olive relish ($25). We were disappointed in the lack of flavor of the herbed goat cheese served with roasted pears, parsnips and pistachio toast [...]

By | February 21st, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Cafe Frida, Upper West Side, NYC

With both my NYC book groups having discussed Elizabeth Strout's novels (Anything is Possible, My Name is Lucy Barton, Burgess Brothers and Olive Kitteridge that won her the Pulitzer Prize), some of us decided to hear her interviewed at the New York Historical Society. What a waste of time and money. Elizabeth Strout can certainly write, but is a horrid interviewee, giving one-word unrevealing responses. The only good part was her reading excerpts from her books.   A large group of us went out to grab a bite afterward to Cafe Frida about a block away. We sat upstairs unable to hear without shouting. Service was painfully slow. The starter guacamole ($14 [...]

By | February 10th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Boulud Sud, Lincoln Square, NYC + The Post

After seeing Steven Spielberg’s exhilarating drama “The Post,” starring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham the Washington Post's publisher and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee The Post’s editor in a story about their decision to publish portions of the Pentagon Papers, we looked for a place to get a bite. We walked in and out of restaurants along Broadway and even made a few calls hoping to get in someplace as we hadn't made a res. Since 45 minutes was the least wait, we kept looking. We walked around the corner to 64th, noticed a table in the bar area at Boulud Sud and jumped at it. Wanting only a light bite after the [...]

By | February 5th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

LOX at Café Bergson, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Battery Park

A friend had purchased admissions to the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Battery Park (36 Battery Pl,) and invited me to join. When we arrived, we learned that our IDNY got us each a year's membership, free admission and a discount at the store and restaurant. The museum is located on Battery Place by the water. The museum "features more than 800 artifacts and 2,000 photographs that illustrate Jewish history and highlight personal experience of global significance." We spent a couple hours but hadn't gotten through the three floors, as there's so much to see. Hunger stuck. We heading to the second-floor restaurant LOX, with wonderful iconic views of both [...]

By | January 27th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Morning Star Restaurant, Upper West Side, NYC

We had tickets to see Juilliard students perform the "New Dances: Edition 2017" at the Peter Jay Sharp theater and needed to find a place for a quick bite as the performance began at 7:30 pm. That job is usually delegated to me. In addition to proximity, I had to be price conscious. I made a reservation at Morning Star Restaurant in Lincoln Square, a diner-like restaurant that answered both concerns even better than I had anticipated. This restaurant offers simple fare. My expectations weren't very high, leaving the bar low. One friend ordered the ziti with eggplant ($17) that came with a fresh garden salad. Two others ordered the [...]

By | January 25th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

How to Get Discount Theatre Tickets

Before I became a full-time New Yorker, I would purchase theatre tickets ahead paying full price or come into the city and roll the dice, hoping I could get what I wanted from the TKTS discount ticket booth. Most out-of-towners are also aware of that Times Square booth that sells same-day matinee and evening tickets. TKTS also has outposts at Lincoln Center, at South Street Seaport and in Downtown Brooklyn that sell same-day evening and next-day matinee ones. You can select your seats when you buy them. When I moved to Gotham, I learned of many other ways to get show tickets — both on and off Broadway — without paying full [...]

By | January 23rd, 2018|Big Apple Life, Other happenings, Theatre|0 Comments

Oaxaca Taqueria, Upper West Side, NYC

We needed a place on the Upper West Side near the Hayden Planetarium, as we were off to a 40th anniversary celebration of the Voyager I and II spacecrafts. The event also celebrated a a new musical piece by Gerald Cohen for clarinet and string quartet based on selections from the Golden Record, a phonograph record included on each Voyager launched in 1977.  We listened to that as we observed the "flight" of the night sky.  Back to the food. I was with a friend who always recommends good cheap eats, who suggested meeting at Oaxaca Taqueria a small eatery on Amsterdam not far from the American Museum of Natural History. [...]

By | January 15th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Pershing Square, Midtown, NYC

Pershing Square is quite noticeable across the street from Grand Central Station (GCS) under the overpass. I never ate there until recently when I met a friend for breakfast, first at the classic meeting place — the clock in GCS — then heading there to this bustling American-style cafe. Love the warm atmosphere and friendly service. I had their farm fresh eggs my way (poached) with extra-crispy bacon, home fries and rye toast ($16); my friend had the fluffy buttermilk pancakes served with maple syrup (the real stuff, Grade A), with fresh berries on the side ($17). Both were worth returning for -- at an ideal location for meeting someone near [...]

By | January 9th, 2018|Rambling|0 Comments

NoHo Star, NoHo, NYC

It's too late now to try the decades-old neighborhood NoHo Star as it shuttered its doors on New Year's Eve. I made a point of stopping by as I hadn't tried their purportedly best Caesar salad in the city. One afternoon, I lunched with a couple friends. Our salads arrived with the raw (pasteurized) egg in the middle of torn romaine.The waiter showed it, then tossed it. Really good Caesar although my table-mates wanted less dressing and more grated cheese and anchovies. We also shared a burger and fries. The salad was better. If you missed, you'll just have to look at Instagram photos and dream. NoHo Star 330 Lafayette Street New [...]

By | January 7th, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle & Dumpling, Chinatown, NYC

I often do Manhattan on the cheap. This time I combined a morning at the free Louis Vuitton exhibition downtown with an under $20 meal uptown a tad in Chinatown. If you're heading to the Louis Vuitton (86 Trinity Place), be sure to make a reservation. I suggest doing it without the guided tour. We found the docents in each room quite informative, much better than the tour guide. Go soon, as it closed January 7. We walked uptown from the exhibition to the new location of Lam Zhou on Bowery. This one with 40 seats is much larger than the original one but the same inexpensive good food. Although chopsticks made [...]

By | December 27th, 2017|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Ivan Ramen, Lower East Side, NYC + (The Band’s Visit)

I headed downtown to a press event at Ivan Ramen after seeing The Band's Visit on Broadway — the musical about the Egyptian Police Band mistakenly ending up in a remote Israeli village with no bus until morning and no hotel nearby. In this based on a true story, the musicians are taken in by the locals. (Click here for review on Theater Pizzazz.) The event at Ivan Ramen was to celebrate the November Anime NYC’s Ramen Summit, a dedicated celebration of Japanese animation and culture. Ivan Orkin, a Long Island Jewish guy who's the man behind Ivan Ramen, sat with us and shared his story of living in Japan and opening [...]

By | December 17th, 2017|Rambling, Theatre|0 Comments

Bluebell Cafe, Gramercy, NYC + The Box

We went for a bite to eat at the Bluebell Cafe after seeing The Box Show — one woman (Dominique Salerno) hilariously performing over 25 characters from inside a small  3' x 3'x 2' box — at the People's Improv Theatre on 24th Street. We found Bluebell Cafe, a warm friendly restaurant that's so accommodating. We were four and each wanted to share, as women often do. They were so eager to please, giving each of us a half an order of their creamy cauliflower soup  ($10 a bowl) from the special of the day. If offered,  I'd recommend that! For entrees, we tried the salmon ($23), cooked medium-rare as requested, with [...]

By | December 13th, 2017|Rambling, Theatre|0 Comments

Feinstein’s/54 Below, Midtown, NYC + Ben Vereen

My friend invited me to join her at Feinstein's/54 Below nightclub for opening night of the Ben Vereen show Thanksgiving weekend. Ben is the Tony and Drama Desk Award winner for his performance in Bob Fosse’s Pippin. Some of this other credits include Wicked, I’m Not Rappaport, Chicago, Hair, Fosse and Jesus Christ Superstar. The New York Times wrote that “Mr. Vereen is a song and dance man who never lets up.” Ben Vereen, now 71, was exactly as the Times described. Quite the showman. (Click here for a complete review on Theater Pizzazz.) 54 Below is also a supper club, offering dinner and drinks. I tried my waiter's suggestion of their fettuccine Bolognese, made [...]

By | November 28th, 2017|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Novita, Flatiron, NYC

A man on a train recommended Novita. We started talking on the Amagansett platform and continued until we arrived at Jamaica Station. When we talked food, he recommended his favorite Italian restaurant in my hood that I had somehow missed. I had to try it. It's a dimly lit, white-tablecloth restaurant with a professional (from what I observed) male waitstaff, sporting the white apron and a smile. We started by splitting what the menu called salmon salad. This dish included chunks of grilled salmon tossed with fingerling potatoes, olives and haricot vert ($14); it's almost a meal in itself. Knowing we were sharing, our waiter had offered to have the [...]

By | November 13th, 2017|Rambling|0 Comments

33 Greenwich, West Village, NYC + FIT Museum

After moving to the big apple, I created a Google map with restaurants that I want to try so that when someone says, "Where shall we eat?" I look at the map and locate a place somewhat nearby where we are going. In this walking city, that restaurant could be a mile or so away! That's how we ended up at 33 Greenwich restaurant after seeing the Force of Nature, the current exhibit at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Seventh Avenue at 27 Street. The exhibit examines how the beauty of the natural world has inspired fashion designers for centuries. This one runs through November 18; [...]

By | November 1st, 2017|Big Apple Life, Rambling|1 Comment

Introducing Sandi Durell’s Theater Pizzazz

About two years ago when my theatre buddy Tom met Sandi Durell at a holiday party, he decided to introduce us as he had a feeling we'd become friends. He was right. Sandi Durell is Publisher/Editor of the fabulous TheaterPizzazz.com — an entertainment website covering theater and cabaret, with a staff of over 15 contributing writers.  Her site offers interviews, openings and reviews of both on and off broadway shows and music.  Sandi's been writing, reviewing, producing, with a voice in theater, cabaret and entertainment for over 25+ years. We decided to sort of cross-pollinate — me sharing her contributors' theatre reviews here on Bite of the Best, she sharing my [...]

By | October 31st, 2017|Big Apple Life, Theatre|0 Comments

Factory Tamal, Lower East Side, NYC

One friend and I always find a new cheap eats to use as our destination. We then meet and walk there... how we ended up at the Factory Tamal on Ludlow Street. It's a tiny restaurant and I use that word loosely. It's gigantic compared to their former storefront around the corner. The person taking our orders had a smile from ear to ear. Factory Tamal certainly has something to smile about as they were recently and so very interestingly described by Lagaya Mishan in the Times. With one tamale breaking the bank at $2.50 (up a bit from the $2 price in the story), we ordered one of each of the [...]

By | October 28th, 2017|Rambling|Comments Off on Factory Tamal, Lower East Side, NYC

NYC’s 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmands

This week announced the 2018 Bib Gourmands, a collection of venues where patrons can enjoy two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. Any restaurant that receives a Bib is ineligible for a star. The over 120 restaurants who have earned this recognition across the city's neighborhoods are listed below. A Bib Gourmand designation, reserved for a select number of restaurants rated by Michelin’s team of anonymous food inspectors, denotes establishments where diners can enjoy a great meal for a good value. In New York, these restaurants are as diverse as the neighborhoods in which they are found. Here are the New York City 2018 [...]

By | October 25th, 2017|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments