Tag Archives: vacation

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsIf you follow me on Instagram, you know what today is (mostly because I won’t shut up about it!). I’m headed to Maine, y’all! We are packed into a station wagon and headed north with big plans to do as little as possible.

After living in NYC for almost twelve years, I love getting out of town, but I know plenty of you can’t wait to visit this incredible city. Today, I’ve made a list of my favorite places in NYC (mostly Manhattan and Brooklyn), just in case you ever wanted to know what I love about this place and what we’d do if you came to visit me.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

Museums & Popular Attractions

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsCooper Hewitt (Upper East Side)
Inside a beautiful old mansion on Fifth Avenue is this incredible museum dedicated to innovative design & sustainability. Nearly everything there is interactive in some way, and all of it can be “bookmarked” for further investigation by renting a special electronic pen at the front desk. I’d try to explain it, but I’m not that smart.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Upper East Side)
A NYC classic! Go for the permanent collection, or to see Camp before it closes. I’ve also been to the Met Breuer, which is located in the Whitney’s old space. Definitely worth a look.

The Frick Collection (Upper East Side)
Go for the art, go for the stunning mansion it’s housed in.

American Museum of Natural History (Upper West Side)
Another must-see! My beloved Hall of Gems & Minerals is closed, but there are dinosaur bones, a whale, a planetarium, and plenty more things to see.

The Brooklyn Museum (Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
This one is definitely worth the trip across the bridge! This is a beautiful building in a stunning Brooklyn setting, and has recently hosted exhibitions on David Bowie, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kehinde Wiley.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

One World Observatory (Financial District)
I don’t usually recommend paying a bunch of money to take an elevator, but the 360 view and the knowledge of the staff are well worth the cost of admission.

Beaches & Waterside Communities

A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsRed Hook Waterfront (Brooklyn)
Red Hook is probably my favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn. This waterside community has cute shops, excellent restaurants (looking at you, Hometown Barbecue), and an incredible waterfront park. It also happens to be home to the best grocery store in Brooklyn, if not all of NYC. This neighborhood is not convenient to the subway; it’s accessible only by bus, car or ferry (or your own two feet), but it’s worth the minimal effort. I took my parents down there for a lobster roll and an ice cream cone a few weeks ago (more on those below), and I think they’d agree that it’s worth the trip.

Coney Island (Brooklyn)
This neighborhood is home to the famous Luna Park theme park, beach and boardwalk. My favorite thing to do down there is to catch a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

The Rockaways (Queens)
I’ll admit that I’m not much of a city beach person, but I finally made it out to The Rockaways earlier this summer to see what all the hype is about. I ate an arepa, walked the boardwalk, and got my toes in the surf—no complaints. I highly recommend taking public transit (subway or ferry) to get out there. Don’t drive—parking is a nightmare.

Restaurants

Sole Di Capri (TriBeCa)
This small Italian restaurant is one of my favorites in all of NYC. They have a regular menu, but their specials are plentiful and change constantly. I’ve never has anything that was less than spectacular. My only real recommendation is to get whatever salad has the house-made mozzarella on it. So, so good.

Hot Kitchen (East Village)
My friend, David, introduced me to this Sichuan restaurant and it’s seriously fantastic. Get the cumin lamb!A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsKatz’s Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters (both East Village)
These institutions don’t need my endorsement, but I’m just here to confirm that getting a Katz’s 1/2 pastrami sandwich + matzo ball soup and following it up with a Russ & Daughters raspberry hamantaschen is always a good idea.

Momosan (Midtown)
This is Masaharu Morimoto’s ramen bar. I went with my best friend, Emily, a few weeks ago and we both loved it! Get the tsukemen and the Peking duck tacos.

The Plaza Food Hall (Central Park South)
This is a high-end food court located immediately below the Plaza Hotel. There are many options and all of them are fantastic. Plus, you get to say fancy things like “I’m going to lunch at the Plaza.”

Capizzi (Theatre District/Times Square)
This pizzeria is located just below Times Square near Port Authority. If I am going to the theatre with company, this is almost always my pick. The pizza is good, as is the service, and I’ve never had a problem getting a table.

5 Napkin Burger (Restaurant Row/Times Square + 2 more)
Another theatre district favorite! This is a great place to get a burger, fries, a sundae, or all three (!) before or after a show. Their onion rings are truly something to behold.

Bar Tabac (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn)
French food in an adorable setting in a neighborhood that I lived in for seven years. Their lone drawback is that they only take cash and AmEx.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Red Hook Lobster Pound (Red Hook, Brooklyn)
After you go check out the waterfront, stop for a lobster roll and a Maine Root root beer. The crispy brussels sprouts are great too.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Ample Hills Creamery (Multiple Locations)
A super cute & creative local ice cream chain.

Broadway ShowsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsI’ve gone to a lot of Broadway shows this year and it has been a ball! You don’t need me to tell you to see Hamilton (but like, it lives up to the hype) or The Book of Mormon (also great—saw it twice), and you certainly didn’t ask for my theatre recs, but this is my blog and you’re getting them anyway.

Shows I *love* that are currently running: Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Waitress, Dear Evan Hansen, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Shows I like that are currently running: Come From Away, Beetlejuice, Beautiful, The Lion King.

Shows on my list to see soon: Hadestown, Oklahoma!, The Prom (closes August 11th), Moulin Rouge.

How I get Reasonable Tickets
TodayTix is my go-to for tickets. They have Broadway, Off-Broadway, and specialty shows (looking at you, Golden Girls Live!) all at reasonable prices. Highly recommend!

For the really pricey shows (Hamilton, Hadestown, To Kill a Mockingbird) I like to use GameTime, which is an active marketplace. Prices drop as showtimes get nearer—still regretting not taking a pair of $61 front mezzanine tickets to Hadestown the week after the Tonys. Don’t be like me!

If you’re still at a loss, some shows have standing room tickets ($25-$40) available at the box office. Be prepared to stand for 2-3 hours.

Baseball
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsI love baseball and try to make at least one game a year (ideally when the Texas Rangers play the New York Yankees). I use GameTime to get crazy reasonable seats—seriously love that app.

Favorite Stores

These are the places where I spend my money.

Specialty FoodA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
Zabar’s (Upper West Side)
A NYC institution! Go for the coffee and the babka, or grab a few things at the deli counter and go picnic in nearby Riverside Park.

Sahadi’s (Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn)
This Brooklyn favorite is where I buy all my coffee beans, dried fruit, and cheese. Everything is shockingly reasonable, the staff is sweet, and they make the best hummus, period. I also used to work as a cashier here, and can say that the Sahadi family treats all their employees with the utmost respect. Love that.

Vintage & AntiquesA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsA New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsPippin Vintage (Chelsea)
My favorite store in NYC. Great vintage and antique clothes, furniture, and jewelry (fine and costume), all at reasonable prices. I’ve never brought anyone there who didn’t totally fall in love with it. If nothing else, go to see the store itself, which is a small house set back from the street. It’s only accessible through a hall of antique mirrors!

Yesterday’s News (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)
The best vintage and antiques in Brooklyn. I bought my dresser here, as well as countless unique gifts for all my favorite people.

Used Bookstores

Alabaster Bookshop (Union Square)
A hidden gem around the corner from the famous Strand Bookstore.

Mercer Street Books & Records (NoHo)
A great bookstore around the corner from the Angelika. It makes for a wonderful start or end to a movie date.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books (Greenwich Village)
A left-wing community bookstore with grouchy staff that I love.

Random Free (& Cheap) Things

NYC is full of free things to do. Here is a list of ideas, just off the top of my head:
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo to the Brooklyn Flea. It costs nothing to browse.

Picnic in any park.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsWalk the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and/or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Explore Green-Wood Cemetery. Seriously.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGet some soft-serve from a Mister Softee truck.

The Union Square Greenmarket is a great place to spend some time (even if you don’t end up buying anything).A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo to the Balloon Saloon.

Tour Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsGo take pictures at the Oculus.

Check out the reading room at the central branch of the New York Public Library.

Go take a look at Grand Central Station.
A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsWalk into open churches.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsTake advantage of summer street fairs.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of SortsAs you can see, there is literally no excuse to be bored here. That’s why I have to go to Maine.A New Yorker’s NYC Favorites: A Travel Guide of Sorts

Guac O’Clock & Other Meals on Swan’s Island, Maine

I’ll be real with you—I’ve been doing island things instead of baking.Like wading into the fuh-reezing Atlantic Ocean with three of the most fabulous women I know.And picking blackberries with my sister.But, I mean, we still have to eat. We might as well do it in style.Meals here on Swan’s Island are meticulously planned. Four years in though, we sort of know what we’re doing.

We have a meeting before we leave NYC. There’s an organized menu. There’s an itemized grocery list. There’s one harried/hilarious trip through the Hannaford in Ellsworth, Maine. And then there’s cooking every last meal, snack, and dessert we eat on this beautiful island.If it sounds like work to vacation here, that’s because it is. Fortunately for me, it’s the sort of work I love most. I mean, what’s to complain about when there’s daily Salsa O’Clock?And don’t forget Guac O’Clock. It’s very important when you are on vacation.It’s impossible to be grouchy in the morning when VJ makes you gluten-free vegan waffles……and blueberry muffins. The bacon was my contribution.There were Migas, too……and the Blueberry Baked Oatmeal I told you about on Wednesday.And cantaloupe. (Can you tell I am in love with the white prep table?)Lunches have been less curated, but this chickpea-centric spin on my favorite Jacques Pepin soup recipe really hit the spot on Sunday afternoon.And don’t forget extra-toasty grilled cheeses.Dinner is an event though. We’ve had a Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions, and some extra caramelly maple-roasted carrots.There was vegan cornbread, too. (My recipe, but with non-dairy milk + vinegar, vegan butter, aquafaba for egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup more cornmeal.)And Eliot made my crowd-favorite Everyday Cassoulet and some garlicky kale.Last night was taco night. Hooray for using up leftovers!Dessert has been plentiful. I mean, I’m here.I made a batch of Toasted Oat Graham Crackers,so naturally, there were s’mores.There have also been also S’moreos.And just straight-up toasted marshmallows.Also, lots and lots and lots of coffee. Arnab finally learned how to use the French press we bought him for Christmas. #adultingSo, as you can see, we have not starved. We have some produce to finish and a few things we’ll divvy up on our way back to New York, but we have, by and large, used everything we brought.I’m planning to do some last day of vacation baking today (all those blackberries!), but I may also just sit on a rock and watercolor.The day is young.

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry PieI hope you have a place like Swans Island.

Blackberry PieI don’t necessarily mean an island off the coast of Maine with one store and a population of 300 (but I highly recommend it). I mean a place that you find endlessly enchanting. For my parents, it’s Santa Fe. For my older sister, it’s Isla Mujeres, Mexico. For me, it’s this little island four miles out to sea. I just can’t get enough.

Blackberry PieThe appeal of this place isn’t the broad spectrum of activities–in fact, it’s the opposite that keeps me counting the days between trips. Whereas in New York I am constantly bombarded with people and noise and tasks that must be dealt with right-this-second, on Swans Island, a car passes the house once every ten minutes, the only consistent sound is that of a bell on a lobster boat floating a mile away, and there is literally nothing I have to do. As Swans Island has limited phone and internet access too, this is a place where it really is possible to get away from it all.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieFaced with a lack of activities, each of my friends and I have found ways to pass the time. Almost all of the things we do together (hiking, beaching, cooking, etc.) take place in the afternoons, so we each have to find a way to while away the mornings. Adam has been tearing through a book, VJ has put together 2.5 puzzles, and I have been wandering the sides of the road with a saucepan in hand, foraging for berries.

Blackberry PieThe last time I was here, I found mostly blueberries and raspberries–Blue-Razz Pie was the result. This time, the vast majority of the berries have been blackberries, so Blackberry Pie it is.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieThis pie, y’all. It’s made with my Whole Wheat Pie Dough and a super simple blackberry filling. Just fold some sugar, cinnamon, lime, and cornstarch into a few cups of fresh blackberries and it’s good to go. Now you can concentrate on the top crust.

Blackberry PieWhile you may top your pie however you like, may I suggest a lattice? They’re very easy and I love all the pockets of blackberry filling that peek through. Start by laying a few strips of dough parallel across the top of the filling. I cut my strips in different widths because I think it’s cute.

Blackberry PiePeel back a couple of the strips of dough and lay one perpendicularly across the filling. Then place all the strips back in their original positions.

Blackberry PiePull up the strips you didn’t move the first time and lay another strip across. Keep doing this until you don’t have any room left.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieCrimp the crust, brush it with egg wash, and give it a good sprinkle of sugar.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Bake until beautiful and serve a la mode.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Share with friends and definitely go back for seconds. It’s vacation, after all.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

1 recipe Whole Wheat Pie Dough or other good crust
4 cups fresh blackberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
sugar, for sprinkling

On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter and fit it in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, and lime. Fold with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Transfer filling to prepared crust, discarding any excess liquid. Refrigerate.

On a floured surface, roll out the other disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. If you’d like a lattice crust, slice the rolled dough into strips (see photos above for instructions). If you want a full top crust, lay the rolled-out dough on top of the filling and cut a few vents. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire exposed crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, tenting with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Blackberry Pie