5/1/15

Take a Peek: Tour Historic Tudor City Homes Tomorrow

There's a TON going on this weekend, but if none of the other many events I've posted about this week have caught your eye, maybe this will.

Tudor City Greens Spring Home Tour Invite

Join Tudor City Greens for their 2nd Annual Home Tour tomorrow 5/2 from 11am-3pm. You will get a rare glimpse into a variety of private homes in the small historic enclave of Tudor City. Included are a studio turned glamorous by Nate Berkus and featured on "Oprah" to a penthouse triplex with wood-burning fireplace and gargoyle-graced, 300 square-foot terrace.


Tudor City is an historic neighborhood located between 41st and 43rd Streets east of Second Avenue. Built in the 1920s, the “city within a city” as developer Fred F. French called it is unlike any other.

Tickets are $45 for one, $75 for two, with 100% of the proceeds going to the care and beautification of the North and South Parks. Tickets can be purchased online through 1pm today or tomorrow from 11 am – 2:30 pm at South Park (E 41st and Tudor City Place).

4/30/15

Get Your Tickets for Thrillist's Taco Knockout this Saturday--Unlimited Tacos, Cervezas and Churros!

Still looking for ways to fill your Cinco de Mayo weekend? I know a place where you can stuff your face with tacos, cocktails and cervezas in addition to help select the next belt-winning taco chef.

Thrillist Taco Knockout Logo

Thrillist is hosting their annual Taco Knockout this Saturday May 2 from 2-5 pm at Tequila Park Taqueria at the Hudson Hotel (356 W 58th Street @ Columbus). There are 2 ticket options: general ($65) which comes with unlimited tacos, cervezas, and churros as well as 1 custom cocktail and especial ($80) which adds on early entry (1pm) as well as one additional custom cocktail. Pretty much no matter how you shake it, it's an amazing deal.

Last year's event looked like a fine fiesta--and featured taco flavors like sriracha lamb and duck chorizo--so I can't wait to see what they cook up this year. I'll be there with my taco hat on so come say hi if you decide to spend your afternoon feasting al fresco with Thrillist!

4/29/15

Celebrate the New Whitney Museum With a Block Party

Looking for something to do this weekend? The Whitney Museum of American Art is finally opening at its new location in the Meatpacking District (99 Gansevoort Street) and they want you to come check them out!



The Whitney will offer free admission from 10:30 am to 10 pm on Saturday, May 2 and host a block party on Gansevoort Street sponsored by Macy's. You can check out the inaugural exhibition America Is Hard to See as well as enjoy hands-on activities and participatory events. Throughout the day, booths designed by a diverse group of contemporary artists and community organizations will offer activities for a range of audiences, including karaoke, map making, and performance workshops. Large-scale acts on the main stage will include all-ages performances, including puppetry, dance, music, and poetry.

No tickets are required for the Block Party. Free admission tickets to the Museum for May 2 may now be reserved online and reservations are recommended.

4/28/15

Get Your Daily Dose of Clever News With theSkimm


We've all got our morning routines, but I have a suggestion of something to add to yours. theSkimm is a free daily email service that covers all the need-to-know news issues you need to start your day off right. Best of all they do it with a dash of wit and a sprinkle of cleverness.

theSkimm logo

Case in point, a quote of the day from last week:

theSkimm quote of the day

I can't even tell you how many times tidbits I've gleaned from theSkimm in the morning have come in handy during conversations throughout my day. Plus they make super informative, but easy-to-read guides to everything from elections to the Citizen's United decision to the Iran nuclear issue.

To subscribe, click here and get ready to know everything*. (*No promises, but you'll definitely know more!).




4/27/15

Earn Money From Unloved Clothes in Your Closet (And Here's $10 to Shop!)

If you are anything like me, you fill your closets to the max (it is NYC after all and every inch of real estate counts!). However, if you're also like me, you've obsessively read about Japanese organization guru Marie Kondo's method of organization. While her book is still on my NYPL waiting list, I've taken a few of her own-only-things-that-bring-you-joy approaches to heart and done a considerable amount of domestic purging lately.

But I didn't want to simply throw away perfectly good items of clothing (that may or may not still have the tags on)...I wanted to make some money! There was always eBay, but I don't have the patience for that. Then I heard about thredUP.

thredup logo

thredUP brands itself as a "recommerce" company. How it works is you create an account on their site, order a bag free of cost and it will show up in your mailbox in a matter of days. You then stuff it full of worn, but like new items (bonus if they still have the tags on and were never worn) from dresses to shoes and handbags to accessories. At this time they only accept women's, junior's and children's clothing, sorry gents! Here are their rules and here is a video that explains more:


You can then drop your bag (pre-labeled for FedEx shipping) at any FedEx location. thredUP will contact you and let you know which items they are going to resell and how much money you will get back from them. I earned $125 for one bag! For a small fee, thredUP will even send you back the items they don't sell; otherwise, they will give the clothes away for you.

I opted to receive my money via PayPal (and paid a nominal fee for it), or you can choose to spend your money in thredUP's marketplace--chock full of amazing finds that other people like you have sent in. I have also done this and managed to score a brand new Coach leather purse for under $70.

Want to check it out? Create an account through my link and get $10 free to spend in the thredUP marketplace. I'll get $10 too, but once you place your first order and/or submit your first bag, you will want to tell all your friends about this site.

4/24/15

SPONSORED POST: FREE Cone Day at Carvel on 4/30

Raise your hand if you ever had a Carvel Ice Cream birthday cake growing up! All those who just raised their hands are going to be excited about the news in this post...

Nutella ice cream in a waffle cone at Carvel

Carvel wants to start your Spring off right with FREE CONE DAY nationwide on Thursday April 30! Pop into any store near you for a free soft serve Jr. cup or cone.

Also, they are celebrating the grand opening of their new Financial District store at 9 Broadway by kicking of 8 days of delicious deals STARTING TOMORROW! Mark your calendars peeps:

  • Saturday, April 25: Buy one shake, get one for 80 cents
  • Sunday, April 26: Buy one sheet cake, get an OREO® Lil’ Rounders® 6-Pack for 80 cents
  • Monday, April 27: Buy one sprinkle cup multi-pack, get one half off
  • Tuesday, April 28: Buy one small cup/cone, get a kid’s cup or cone free
  • Wednesday, April 29:  Buy one classic soft ice cream sundae get one free
  • Thursday, April 30: Free Jr. Cup or Cone (soft serve only)
  • Friday, May 1: Buy one Sundae Dasher™,  get one half off
  • Saturday, May 2: Grand Opening, Free Jr. Cup or Cone (soft serve only) and buy one Flying Saucer® multi-pack, get one half off

The Carvel storefront at 9 Broadway
The storefront at 9 Broadway

Last weekend after the MS Walk, my boyfriend and I headed downtown to check out the new location for ourselves. It is decorated in the style of the new Carvel shoppe design, which the brand unveiled last year to commemorate its 80th anniversary. Updates include new dipping cabinets and a topping bar, digital menu boards, and an inviting atmosphere with wood-finished floors, vibrant colors and new brand imagery, including a revamped logo.

Carvel shoppe interior at 9 Broadway

Topping bar at Carvel Ice Cream 9 Broadway

I wanted to try the new Nutella soft serve, but unfortunately the machine was taking a vacation day. So instead the friendly cashier recommended the Nutella hard ice cream, and since I was going for it, I opted for the waffle cone. Oh yeah. My boyfriend ordered the Oreo Sundae. We walked a lot that day...

Me with my giant Nutella ice cream waffle cone at Carvel
Me with my giant Nutella ice cream waffle cone

Oreo Sundae at Carvel
Oreo Sundae

The best part of the new shoppe is it's location right off of Bowling Green--a perfect place to enjoy your tasty (and FREE) treats.

Nutella cone in Bowling Green
Nutella cone in Bowling Green

The store is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, please call (212) 785-5688, visit www.carvel.com, follow them on Twitter @CarvelIceCream, or like Carvel on Facebook.

Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Carvel and our ice cream treats were comp'd but all opinions are my own.

4/23/15

Free Memberships at 33 NYC Cultural Institutions with IDNYC

Joining museums in NYC can run you hundred of dollars. Heck, just paying admission to a few can cost you half a paycheck. So what if I told you that there's a way to not only get free admission but a full-fledged free membership to 33 cultural institutions throughout the 5 boroughs as well as receive discounts for Mets and Yankees tickets and even grocery stores?



IDNYC is a new program sponsored by the city of New York to provide a new form of identification for all New York City residents. Using it will give you access to city services, allow you to enter public buildings, and enable you to open a checking account. You can also link it to your Brooklyn, New York, or Queens library account--the first time one card has ever been recognized by all 3 systems.

As an incentive for people to sign up, you will be able to apply for free memberships at museums, zoos, botanic gardens, and concert halls throughout the city. All you do is present your card at the box office of your desired institution by 12/31/15, and you receive a gratis one-year membership. Examples of membership options include, but are not limited to:
  • Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo: Free general admission for one adult to the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo with discounts at select gift shops and restaurants. Invitations to Members' Evenings and free e-newsletters.
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Unlimited free admission for 1 and 2 single-time-use guest passes. Admission for member plus 1 guest to all members-only summer events and 10% discount at Garden Shop and Cafe. Library borrowing privileges.
  • Carnegie Hall: "Friends Membership" includes 4 complimentary rehearsal passes; early access to the best seats available; half-price ticket offers on select Carnegie Hall presentations; and invitations to cocktail parties, discussions, & member-appreciation events.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: Free admission for 1 to the Main Building and The Cloisters museum and gardens; members-only emails with advance notice of exhibitions, programs, events, classes, and festivals; special offers on select ticketed programs; discount on Audio Guide rentals in nine languages; and complimentary guided tours of the collection in 10 languages.
  • MoMA PS1: Unlimited free admission; exhibition opening invitations; special offers for select ticketed events; conversations with MoMA PS1 curators and artists; private receptions at MoMA PS1; and a 10% discount at the M. Wells Dinette and the ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 Book Store.

IDNYC card

As you can imagine, demand for IDNYC is pretty high. I signed up for an appointment in January, and had to wait until April to snag an appointment. My shiny new ID came in the mail just this week.

To get your IDNYC, check here that you possess the right qualifying documents, and schedule an appointment at one of the several appointment centers throughout the 5 boroughs. You might have to wait a while, but that's ok--you will be able to claim your free memberships through the end of the year and they will begin the day you claim them. Then you go in and go through a short and sweet interview (just like at the DMV), they take your picture (but oddly you can't smile with teeth), and you should receive your new ID within 2-3 weeks.

The IDNYC website has a thorough list of helpful FAQs that I'd highly recommend you check out if you have any specific questions. So what do you think, will you apply?

4/22/15

There Ain't No Party Like a Valrhona Party

When you come home from a party to a text from your friend that says "I have chocolate all over my hand!!!", you know it was a successful night.

Valrhona logo

Monday night (when all amazing parties happen don't you know?), said friend and I ventured out to DUMBO for the grand opening celebration of L'Ecole Valrhona--the renowned chocolate company's first Brooklyn and US outpost for pastry and chocolate chefs alike to network and learn new techniques. Alongside their professional pastry classes and think tank, this location will also offer consumer-facing workshops where amateur gourmets can master their favorite pastries in half-day, hands-on workshops comprised of no more than 12 students.

Valrhona party in Brooklyn

When we arrived at the 26 Bridge Street event space, we were welcomed with Champagne and a buffet of...yes...chocolate. 

chocolate and candy buffet

There were bon bons and caramels and fudge and truffles and ginger praline marshmallows and hazelnut eggs, and I thought, well screw dinner!


But we didn't have to forgo a savory dinner you see because there were all sorts of delicious non dessert stuffs passed around on never-ending trays by super friendly waiters. Given the fact that I only have 2 hands and the food came in waves as big and fast as those at Pipeline in Hawaii, my photos of these wonderful morsels are limited, but included: marinara chicken sliders, BBQ chicken cubes with coleslaw, citrus hamachi crudo (our fave!), seared steak on a potato with truffle, tuna tartare, beet and goat cheese tartlettes, and short rib lettuce cups.

marinara chicken slidersBBQ chicken cubes


As we were intermittently snarfing dinner and dessert (more to come on that), the founding pastry chefs of L'Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn--Sarah Kosikowski and Derek Poirier--took the stage to say their thank yous among many other legendary pastry chefs.

Valrhona chefs at party


We then made the rounds and saw some "live art"... 

Valrhona party live art

Valrhona party live art

and took an obligatory photo in the Sharingbox photobooth...

sharingbox photo booth from Valrhona party

But then the rest of the dessert came out. There was an American side with things like key lime pie, brownies, and cupcakes and a French pastry side offering desserts with much fancier and unpronounceable (by me) names. See below for gluttonous photos:

French pastry chocolate mint

French pastry floating island

French pastry

caramel brownies at Valrhona party

American pastry


Chocolate French pastry

American pastry

Key lime pie at Valrhona party

chocolate cupcakes at Valrhona party

dulcey choux at Valrhona party

chocolate tart at Valrhona party

Just when we thought the night was winding down (and you thought this post was over, didn't you?), we turned to hear the beat of several very loud drums coming from outside. Soon the whole party was dancing to the rhythm of a 6-person reggae band, complete with several drums, a tambourine-like instrument, and a saxophone. They even started a conga line, and of course we joined in. Because why wouldn't you join a conga line on a Monday night?

reggae band at Valrhona party

reggae band at Valrhona party

As we left, we were handed L'Ecole Valrhona branded gift bags with all sorts of goodies inside: a cast iron pan, a chocolate cookbook, and of course, an assortment of chocolate bon bons.

Gift bag from Valrhona party

chocolate bon bons from Valrhona party

So circling back, I too had chocolate on my hand when I got home (...and my forearm and my phone). Considering I also popped a few pre-wrapped caramels into my purse on the way home, I'm likely to be finding remnants of this night and party throughout my life in the coming weeks. Would I trade it for a thing? Nope.

Check out L'Ecole Valrhona here and get your chocolate conga line on!

4/21/15

This is Where to Eat Your Tacos on Cinco de Mayo

If tacos were a food group, I would have no trouble fulfilling that dietary requirement. I love the versatility of those flour or corn tortilla vessels of yumminess--carne asada with tomatillo salsa, mole chicken with toasted sesame seeds, even fried cactus with crumbled queso fresco and I'm game! 

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant

I was recently invited for dinner at Cafe El Presidente, the year-old outpost of the Tacombi chain's well-known Mexican-inspired creations located in the Flatiron district. Walking in, you almost think you've entered a marketplace instead of a sit-down restaurant, with a juice bar on your right, hanging fluorescent lighting above, and black and white checkered tiles below. But then you realize that this is just a rarity in New York: a restaurant with space enough letting you walk around without needing to bump into anyone else. I couldn't help but wonder what used to be in this space as we settled in and I watched the chefs at work in the large open kitchen near our table.

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant dining room

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant kitchen

First things first, drinks. I decided on a margarita with salt (no frills necessary if it's good; $12) and my boyfriend ordered the Oaxacan Old Fashioned (pronounced Wa-HA-Kan for those of you too shy to order it correctly; $14) with mezcal instead of whisky. Both were solid libations, but I'd love to go back and try the Pina Colada ($13) because nothing screams vacation (even if it's just for a few hours) like a pina colada.

Oaxacan Old Fashioned and Margarita
Oaxacan Old Fashioned and Margarita

The menu came, and we were surprised by its understatement. We almost thought that we had to mark off what we wanted with a pencil and just hand it in, as you would to a street cart vendor or something. But alas, it's all part of the ambiance.

Cafe El Presidente menu

We also took the time to admire the impressive selection of hot sauces available on every table. I'm a bit of a whimp when it comes to spice, so I was not about to even touch the "Oro Negro" (literally: black gold) bottle of habanero concentrate and grapeseed oil, although I did admire the numerous warning signs. The other sauces--morita, cascabel, jalapeno, and habanero--were more recognizable and I made a pact with myself to try at least one over the course of the meal.

Cafe El Presidente hot sauces
Hot sauces

To start, we tried the Esquites ($3.95), which was grilled corn with contija cheese and chipotle mayo, and I would HIGHLY recommend it. Served in a cute paper cup, appropriately feeding on the street food theme, it was so good that I could have gobbled up 2. We also had the Ceviche Guerrero ($14.95) served over guacamole. I could taste the freshness of the fish, and the lime juice truly brought out the sweetness as well. Again, I could have made a meal out of just this dish.

Esquites
Esquites

Ceviche Guerrero
Ceviche Guerrero

For our main course, we split the Gringa Madison quesadilla ($7.95) and 6 tacos: al pastor ($2.49), Baja crispy fish ($4.95), Puerco Toluca ($3.49), Nopal de Matehuala ($3.49), Sonoran shrimp ($4.49), and the seared fish de Ixtapaleno ($4.49). Holy my goodness and ay caramba. Note to self: never go here alone.

The quesadilla was served open faced with all sorts of goodies including heritage pork and Chihuahua cheese. It had more of that chipotle mayo which really tied everything together. As for the tacos, my favorite was definitely the Baja crispy fish because it had the perfect ratio of crisp to succulent. I also really loved the Puerco Toluca (chorizo) with the Cascabel hot sauce--see, I tried it! Also, if you've never sampled cactus (nopal), do yourself a favor and try this one. It was paired with swiss chard so I considered it my "vegetable" for the meal.

Gringa Madison Quesadilla
Gringa Madison Quesadilla
nopal, Puerco Toluca, seared fish, Sonoran shrimp tacos
From top left: nopal, Puerco Toluca, seared fish, Sonoran shrimp tacos
Al Pastor and Baja crispy fish tacos
Al Pastor and Baja crispy fish tacos
No meal is ever complete without dessert and at Cafe El Presidente, this means Tres Leches Cake. Literally meaning "three milks," tres leches is your typical sponge cake that sits in a mixture of whole, sweetened condensed, and evaporated milk for a little while to get all moist and creamy. This version is layered with jam and topped with coconut--yum!

Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Taking a look at Cafe El Presidente's brunch menu, it's clear to see why this place is fabulous. Huevos rancheros, empanadas and breakfast tacos? Sign me up! 

For Cinco de Mayo, they are throwing a special France vs Mexico party (with costumes encouraged!). Email info@tacombi.com for reservations.

Cafe El Presidente Cinco de Mayo celebration

So, will I be back? Most definitely. These are some of the most legit tacos I've had in a long time, and that's coming from a California girl. It also helps that the tortillas are made fresh in the kitchen every day in their on-site tortilleria and that all ingredients are sourced sustainably. Come with a date or celebrate with a group, but either way, you're sure to have a delicious fiesta in your mouth.

Disclosure: Our meal was comp'd, but all opinions are my own.

Cafe El Presidente on Urbanspoon