Category: Brooklyn

How to Make the Most of Your Trip to New York City

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By , July 30, 2015 9:32 am

As the largest city in America, and one of the biggest in the world, planning a trip to New York City can definitely be overwhelming. There’s so much to see and do here across five boroughs and a tangled web of subway lines and traffic congestion, which is a challenge if you only have a few days to spend here.

To help you narrow down your options and get the most out of your trip to the Big Apple, here are some of our favorite New York experiences to get a taste of what city is all about. Although you may have some preconceived notions about tour groups, there are lots of quirky and fun tours offered around the city that are anything but lame.

Rock and Punk Tour NYC

New York City’s East Village has been defined by the rock, punk, and glam scene, and you can learn all about its fascinating history on a Rock and Punk Tour NYC. This is a wonderful experience for music lovers who enjoy the stories and music of groups like Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, and The Velvet Underground. Expect to spend about two hours on this tour, which starts on East 9th Street and operates all throughout the year.

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Photo credit: Todd Shaffer via Flickr

SoHo/Little Italy/Chinatown Food Tour

New York City is one of the finest places for foodies, and our SoHo/Little Italy/Chinatown Food Tour is great because you get to experience five different food places in three popular NYC neighborhoods! You’ll get to try everything from gourmet pizza to delicious cookies, Italian salami, cannoli, and dumplings. This tour runs between January and October and lasts about 2 hours.

Harlem Soul Food and Jazz Evening Tour

Another recommended tour for foodies is the Harlem Soul Food and Jazz Evening Tour, which stops by jazz clubs, bars, churches, and restaurants that form the Harlem soul scene. This is a perfect place to try local ribs, collard greens, fried fish, and black eyed peas. This is a five-hour tour that operates year around in the evenings.

Small-Group Walking Tour of New York City Architecture

But of course, New York is world-famous for its stunning architecture, and one of the best ways to learn about those towering skyscrapers is by taking a Small-Group Walking Tour of New York City Architecture. You’ll walk along 42nd street with your expert guide during this three-hour tour and gain a new appreciation for what the city is made of.

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New York Art Gallery Tour

New York is also known around the world for its amazing art galleries and art collections, but can be difficult to choose which ones to check out. Our New York Art Gallery Tour is centered on Chelsea, where hundreds of galleries are located and operate both afternoon and evening. Rafael Risemberg, who has a Ph.D. in arts education will be your guide and cover many different forms of art created locally, nationally, and internationally.

Central Park Movie Tour

No trip to New York City is complete without spending some time in Central Park. This iconic park has been the setting for many books, movies, and television shows, and our Central Park Movie Tour focuses on many of your favorite flicks. This tour lasts about two hours and allows you to relive and recreate your favorite scenes from old and new movies, such as Serendipity, Vanilla Sky, and When Harry Met Sally.

Living Green and Eating Well with NestMeg

By , July 6, 2012 9:24 am
For anyone heading out to NYC, a definite stop needs to be made in Brooklyn. With all the amazing food, booze, and activities in the closest borough to amazing Manhattan, its almost like visiting an entirely different city.  Funsherpa catches up with food blogger, future carpenter and aspiring cookbook author Meghan Prichard to discover her delightful recipes and amazing tips for living well in NYC.
Can you talk about some strategies to live green on a small budget? What are your best money saving tips?

I think the most important aspect of living green on a small budget is prioritizing. For example, my preference is definitely to buy organic and/or local produce, but that’s definitely not feasible for everything from a cost perspective! I refer to this list when buying produce — these items should always be organic. Fortunately, a lot of local produce (but not necessarily organic) is just as cheap or cheaper than produce from the grocery store. It’s also really important to me that I support local farmers, so I build relationships with them, and they in turn try to provide people with the best prices. I do a lot of price comparison and always break down the price per ounce/gram of staple goods to find the cheapest product. (Unless I’m buying flour, because I am hopelessly devoted to King Arthur.) Speaking of which, I’m all about buying those dry goods in bulk. The problem, of course, is finding storage space in my not-so-large apartment. Bodegas are also a great source of products for good prices. My roommate and I were pretty sunburnt a few weeks back and we scored two huge aloe leaves at a bodega for a fraction of the price of aloe gel. (And it’s completely pure! Love that.)

New York is a dynamic and amazing city. What neighborhoods do you love – what makes them special?

As a Williamsburg resident, I’m pretty partial to my neighborhood, and to Brooklyn as a whole. My neighborhood is always getting knocked as a hipster enclave, but where I live is absolutely brimming with cultural diversity (in addition to a thriving arts scene). In one direction, I can walk over to a homemade pasta store. In the other, I can eat at an authentic Mexican taqueria. Not to mention that I recently found the best Chinese takeout I have ever consumed. There’s also the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg on the weekends. Honestly, I never went into Manhattan my first few weekends living here. I was too infatuated with Brooklyn. In Manhattan, I really like exploring Chelsea and West Village because they feel less oppressive than the rest of the city. There are many small shops and restaurants that beckon every time I walk by. But, really, it’s not fair to pick favorite neighborhoods yet. I still feel like I just arrived here! All of NYC is a dream for someone who craves culture as much as I do.

Ah, NYC can be a foodies paradise. Which restaurants are tops for you and what are your favorite foodie destinations in the city?

Like I mentioned above, Smorgasburg is a great place to go on the weekend. It’s solely a food market, and the vendors are all clearly passionate about what they create; you can taste it. Another delicious market is Chelsea Market. There are so many bakeries in there that I’ve really only scratched the surface. As for restaurants, my absolute favorites are all in Brooklyn. Rye makes a meatloaf sandwich that actually made a meatloaf convert of me; Traif just porkifies everything; Roberta’s does pizza that feels classy, but still not fussy. It’s kind of an art form. My favorite Manhattan restaurant is probably Cafe Habana because their grilled corn (plus Cuban sandwiches) cause me to salivate every time I think of them. Seriously, I’m drooling all over my keyboard right now. However, my all-time favorite food item in this city are pork buns from Mei Li Wah. I try to go there with $3 or less in cash so I’ll only buy two pork buns instead of the two dozen that I really want.

Your blog has some awesome recipes. Can you tell us a bit more about your favorite recipes and why you love them?

Well thank you! My favorite recipes tend to be the more simple ones, with a few exceptions for hearty winter meals, like this divine chili and cornbread combo. I’m very proud of my ABC Sandwich because that combination of flavors is very nearly impossible to beat. I’m also really proud of my buttermilk-related recipes, with fried chicken and chicken pot pie with biscuits at the top of the heap, so to speak. I think chocolate pudding is one of the most fun and simple chocolate desserts one can make, and it’s SO much better than the boxed variety. Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. This recipe is my favorite. Also, roasting a chicken means leftovers with which to make chicken noodle soup!

Having lived in a ton of cities? Which ones do you recommend to newbie travelers? What was your best travel experience?

I’ve loved every place I’ve lived, so I would recommend all of them! DC is great for all of the free museums and the fascinating history of the American government; London, of course, is also brimming in history and appeals to anyone even remotely interested in royalty; Munich is my absolute favorite city for all of its charm. Munich residents refer to it as “a large village,” and the city certainly feels that way. The heart of the city is quite small, but it has an amazing market and biergarten in the very center. I often spent all day there just eating and people watching. Plus, it’s really safe! Definitely good for a newbie travel. All of my travel experiences have been valuable in their own ways, even the ones where I had brushes with danger, but my favorite has to be the road/train trip I took around France, touring beautiful old churches and eating at some of the most famous restaurants in the world. It was an incredible adventure

What’s in your bucket list? Which ones have you completed?
This question makes me realize how I really lack any kind of bucket list. Like most people, I want to travel as often as possible, but I tend to pick locations based on whether I know people there. Being connected to the local culture is an amazing advantage! I would also love to learn carpentry and reupholstery, so that in the event that I ever have an apartment larger than a walk-in closet, I can create my own furniture. I suppose the only real bucket-list-worth item I can note is that I want to write a book. Maybe a memoir, maybe a cookbook, maybe both. I’m glad you’ve inspired me to get out there and make a better list!

Blondie and Brownie on Exposing New York’s Food Scene

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By , March 18, 2012 9:29 am

Blondie and Brownie on a Mission to Educate

With Restaurant Week currently in full swing, Funsherpa is now gathering intel on the vibrant New York food scene. We start our series, by chatting with New York’s quintessential food bloggers, Blondie and Brownie, whose online posts reveal their adventures in the New York food scene. In this feature, we discover their favorite eats, chefs, and neighborhoods!

F: What inspired you to start a food blog? And how’d you gals come up with the name?
B&B: We worked together and bonded over food. We decided to start the blog because everyone would ask us where and what to eat so we decided to put it up on the Internet. Blondie & Brownie has a few meanings for us, but the main one is a simple play on our hair.

F: What neighborhoods do you guys live in?
B&B: We both live in Brooklyn, Blondie in Greenpoint and Brownie in the greater Park Slope area. Blondie’s favorite places are Paulie Gee’s Pizza, Papacitos, Peter Pan Bakery, and in Williamsburg, Egg. Brownie loves Terrace Bagel, Song, Almondine, Grab Specialty Foods, and Cafe Grumpy.

F: If you were to choose a neighborhood in NY to live based solely on food alone, where would it be?
Blondie: Probably the East Village, there’s some really great food at decent prices and a nice variety of restaurants.
Brownie: Ditto. I lived in the Eat(s) Village in college and it was awesome to have access to such a great variety of food and because of the big NYU student population there are a lot of budget friendly options. In the close to 7 years since I left the village, the terrific dining options have only increased.

F: What’s your typical day like?
B&B: We live pretty normal lives, both of us have day jobs in Midtown. Our lunches are usually used doing recon for Midtown Lunch. When an evening doesn’t involve an event, it’s going out to dinner or doing the mundane tasks of life. Brownie recently had a baby, so her life’s pretty full with being a mom. But we both almost always end up online at some point, to put up a post, download pictures, or answer emails.

F: What are the highlights of the food you had growing up?
Blondie: My mom actually worked and went to school while I was growing up, so she wasn’t in the kitchen a whole lot, but when she would bake, it was always a treat. As any good mom does, she would always let me help out and lick the spatula and spoons afterward. It was usually traditional American-pies, cakes, cookies, but every now and then she’d make a traditional Czech dessert and those were always amazing.

Brownie: My great grandparents were Italian immigrants who settled in New Haven, CT. I grew up eating a lot of Southern Italian food and New Haven pizza (Sally’s or Modern, please!). I make a mean red sauce and clams oreganata. The other side of my family has been in New England for close to four hundred years, and I’m a New Englander through and through. I have much love for lobster, clam chowder, boiled dinner, baked bean suppers and hasty pudding.

F: What’s is your favorite restaurant in the city?
Blondie: Blondie’s favorite restaurant is probably now Shopsin’s. Everything I have there is great, I don’t mind any of their orneriness, and one of the few places I think about on a frequent basis.

Brownie: Ditto, again. I swear, we’re not the same person.

F: What’s your favorite summer al fresco restaurant in the city?
Blondie: Blondie’s favorite is Back Forty. I absolutely love their back porch, it has good lightening, good food, and you can forget you’re in the middle of NYC.

Brownie: Brownie’s favorite is the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. There’s nothing like pulling up a table in the park on a warm summer afternoon or evening and tucking into a burger or custard from the Shake Shack.

F: Who is your favorite NYC celebrity chef?
Blondie: My favorite ‘celebrity’ chef is Danny Meyer. From the restaurants he oversees to how he treats his employees, he seems like a pretty great guy. And of course, he created Shake Shack. I’m torn on the up and coming chefs because there are so many, but if I had to choose it’s be Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. She’s willing to take chances and do something different.

Brownie: I’ll reveal my sweet tooth by saying Jacques Torres. As someone who loves to bake and appreciates the pastry arts, Mr. Torres is a legend. He’s also really nice and charming and unlike a lot of other “celebrity” chefs, I’ve actually seen him in his stores. Last summer we spied him up on a ladder stringing lights and setting up his ice cream cart in his Tribeca shop. Corwin Kave of Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue is a really talented up and coming chef. I’d never pass up a meal if he is cooking.

F: It’s that time for NYC summer restaurant week again. what are your quintessential restaurant suggestions for lunch, and for dinner? Any suggestions/tips for restaurant week?
Blondie & Brownie: The best lunch I’ve had so far was at Convivio. I’m still hoping to get back there one day for a proper meal. The dinner at 10 Downing was pretty nice too. My main tip is to look at the menu if it’s been posted, treat the meal as more of a sample of a restaurant, and if your server isn’t treating you well because you’ve picked the RW menu, never patronize that place again.

Del Posto for lunch was a fantastic experience. I didn’t for one minute feel that they were treating us as lesser customers because we were there for the RW menu rather than a more expensive lunch. They brought us little cocktail samples to try at the beginning of our meal and sent us home with chocolates. One restaurant week suggestion that I always make is to check out the menu and what’s being offered, some of the restaurants offer similar pre-fixe lunch deals on a regular basis that you can try anytime, so try to choose a place where you’re really getting a special twice a year kind of offer. Delmonico’s Steak House is a quintessential and historic New York restaurant–it was one of the first restaurants in the nation and they have a terrific menu for lunch and dinner.

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