Jan
28

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UsedYorkCity Inspiration #18

unnamed^^The most delicious veggie platter at Prune in the East Village.^^

1. Are you a book junkie? This NYC blogger talks about borrowing eBooks from the library for free. (via Noted In NYC)

2. Love this mom’s response to the ex-NYC mom who stated, “raising kids in New York is a terrible, terrible idea.” (via Gothamist)

3. Stumped at what to grab at the wine store? This is probably the best description I’ve heard for aligning your preferred food tastes to bottles of vino. (via A Cup Of Joe)

4. 14 awkward weather situations New Yorkers will totally understand. Umm, understanding umbrella height differences? >>Right here.<< (via Big Appled)

5. A local’s guide to visiting NYC. (via Cultural Xplorer)

Share what’s been inspiring you this week below!

xo,

Jess

Jan
27

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Turn Off Your Netflix And Go On These 5 Fun Dates!

42-actually-great-new-york-date-ideas

Let’s talk about something totally applicable today (cause, Juno!): winter dates that get you out of the house but keep you out of the cold, too!  I totally get how it’s easy to be like, “date night?  orrrr we could just stay in with pizza and netflix!”  We’re guilty, too!  Especially during the winter, and especially during blizzards.

But!!!

Today we’re gonna talk about bringing date nights back with a bang!  The hubs and I have been doing some hardcore date night research for you guys, bringing the very best ones to the blog!  And don’t forget, date nights aren’t limited to your significant other…they can be just as fun with your roomie, mom, random girl from yoga class…you name it!  Here’s our very favorites that we tried this month:

1. Speakeasy Theater + Cocktails

“Trust me, I get funnier with every sip, ” speaks actor/playwright Anthony Caporale in his entertaining show, The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking.  And it’s so true!  (But this guy and his talented ensemble would be funny even sans cocktails, I promise!)  The Imbible is an off-Broadway show playing in an authentic NYC speakeasy, which talks about the history of alcohol while serving the audience said beverages. Performed by a group of 4 insanely talented a cappella singers, these guys sing and dance about the 10,000 year journey of alcohol and the creation of the modern day cocktail.  You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the Old Fashioned after the night is over.  We watched live demonstrations of brewing beer and distilling spirits, learned the difference between cocktails and mixed drinks, and got to interact in answering trivia questions!  All while sipping cocktails which are included in the price of your ticket!  These guys are so, so passionate, it’s refreshing to see theater performed with such zeal, and to be a member of their audience.

unnamed-12. Attend Your 5th Grade Class Reunion in an East Village Apartment

Interactive theater?  Yes please!  Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion is like Sleep No More, only funny!  And with witty dialogue!  Part play, part party, and all a boat load of date night fun!  A group of former 5th grade classmates, now all in their 30’s, get together for an evening of reminiscing, complete with lots of alcohol and a handful of drugs.  Turn the 90’s music on, and you have the recipe for the best night, ever!  As an audience member, you’re also guests at the party (truth be told, it was sometimes hard to tell who was acting and who was an audience member, it all seemed so natural!)  You wander the apartment (the address is given to you after your reservation is made), perusing the kitchen, office, and yes, bedroom, getting involved in whichever scenes you fancy.  Upon entering, you get a name tag, red meaning “don’t talk to me” and green meaning “yes, pull me into your lair of 5th grade drama!”  The hubs and I went with red name tags, but that certainly didn’t stop me from jumping into the Free Willy “Will You Be There” flash mob.  You know, cause that was my 5th grade jam, too.

Oh! Alcohol can be purchased for $5 throughout the evening via the honor system, and vegan chili is available for free.  Prepped by one of the actors himself;-)

unnamed3. Get Your Downward Dogs On

Couples that play together stay together, right?  While yoga may not be playing in the same context as, say, squash, it’s still a great date activity! The hubs and I have been going to Sonic Yoga, which offers free community yoga and meditation classes, and also has a special of 2 months of unlimited yoga for $99 going on.  Which is A LOT of dates, my friends.

shutterstock950203604. Nosh Till Your Heart’s Content At A Food Festival

When we do opt for the more traditional dinner dates, we’ve been making a point to try new restaurants rather than our old tried-and-true.  There’s no better way to discover restaurants packed with potential than visiting one of the city’s food festivals, and tasting samples from the chef’s menu yourself!  Pair with entertainment, craft beer, wine, and liquor and you’re shooing to have a delicious date!  We’re pretty pumped for 2015’s Choice Eats, happening March 13th!

unnamed-15. Love-Themed Improv

Ever dream of having your love life (or lack thereof!) turned into a hysterical skit?!  Yeah, me either, but you can laugh your heart out as some other helpless New Yorker is interviewed on stage about their’s…and then watch the “What I Did For Love” improv unfold!  The Upright Citizen’s Brigrade puts on a fine show, and you can’t beat the $10 price point.

2-ucb-what-i-did-for-love_650What fun date nights have you been on lately?  Share below!

Jan
26

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$20 And Under All-Inclusive Boozy Brunches In NYC

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts Wins 2013 World Snow Polo Championship In Aspen

You read the title right, folks.  It’s not an entree that costs $25, plus an additional $15 for unlimited drinks (which is what the trend seems to be at a lot of places around the city.)  Our first publication of this article has become quickly outdated…read: restaurants have jacked up their brunch prices!

So we did some digging and came up with an updated list of places in NYC that offer all-inclusive boozy brunches for $20 and under.  Keeping the weekends budget friendly, right?  Bottoms up, friends!

Bottomless-Bloody-Marys1. Epstein’s | Lower East Side

This cash only joint is currently offering one of the best budget friendly brunches in the city, with unlimited bloody Marys, mimosas or screwdrivers and your entree, all for $15.95.

2. L’asso | Nolita

This pizza joint offers a brunch entree and all-you-can-drink bloody Marys or Mimosas (1 hour limit) for just $20.

3. Three of Cups | East Village

An entree at this establishment comes with two drinks (most entrees go for $16.95), but $7 extra buys you unlimited bloody Marys and mimosas for two hours.

4. Harry’s Italian Pizza Bar | Financial District

Ok, we realize we’re stepping the bounds just a tiny bit by going over (sorry!), but we still think $20.95 is a pretty sweet deal.  It will get you your entree with unlimited bloody Marys and mimosas for 2 hours.

5. Calle Ocho | Upper West Side

Entrees start at $18, and come with an unlimited sangria bar which we think is just the bee’s knees!

6. Piper’s Kilt | Inwood

On Sundays from 12-3, your Irish brunch comes with bottomless domestic beer on tap, mimosas, and bloody Marys for $19.95.

What are your favorite spots for a cheap boozy brunch?  Share below!

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Jan
23

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So You Wanna Use Your City, NYC?

New York is a massive place, and even if we make a point to go to a different venue every day for the rest of our lives, it’s still doubtable that we’d hit them all.  Within the five boroughs millions of people swarm around, each having their own favorite haunts to visit and places to enjoy, sometimes falling victim to routine.  Even in a city like New York, being a creature of habit is something not easily broken, am I right?

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to the bar where everyone knows your name (because, cheers!), I urge you to get out and use your city, too!  Today we’re talking 5 unexpected places to shake up your going-out routine.

105_reynard-brooklyn-interior1. Reynard | Brooklyn

Wooden beamed and deliciously decorated in a manner more representative of the 1890’s rather than 2014, Reynard is an eatery that’s proving immensely popular with the newly bewhiskered natives of the restaurant’s hood. This isn’t just another factory renovation turned place to be seen, as Reynard produces a very high standard of food, which are modeled upon well known brasserie classics- that is at all times rich, moreish and strangely inexpensive compared to other haute offerings from the area.

2. Apollo Club | Harlem

The well known Apollo Club is one of Harlem’s gems, and with the theatre celebrating it’s 80th anniversary the club has forgone it’s usual fancies for a short while, deciding instead to invoke the nightclub hilarity and excess of the 1920’s! Hot-stepping dancers, a grand big band orchestra and Boardwalk Empire’s Margot B are all featured!

3. Resorts World Casino | Queens

Casino in NYC?!  Who knew!  With online gaming on the rise worldwide in terms of fans and acceptability, lovers of gaming, when not enjoying winning on a few easy money slots at Europalace Casino, are whetting their appetite for physical gaming and heading to Queens.  Slots, roulette, craps- this casino has it all!

4. Bar 54 | Midtown

Rooftop bars will never go out of style in the vertiginous land of Manhattan, and Bar 54 is the city’s newest sky-high lounge, offering visitors views out over the city from the top of Hyatt Times Square. The bar features outdoor fireplaces, huge glass walls and cocktails with a local flair produced by the inimitable Julie Reiner.

5. Gotham West Market | Hell’s Kitchen

Similar to the far more well known Chelsea Market, Gotham West Market at first sight doesn’t appear to be just any usual food market, mainly due to the fact that there are only ever eight vendors serving up their dishes! Past vendors have included those offering pig’s head Cuban sandwiches, tapas and savory rye noodles, though there’s easily enough available to keep you occupied for a fair few hours.

We’d love to know…how have you used your city this week?  Share below!

||Photo Credit: 1||

Jan
22

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UYC’s Book Club: Panic In A Suitcase

Perhaps the biggest plus of being in an actual book club versus reading a book solo is the advantage of hearing multiple viewpoints.  While this month’s read of Panic in a Suitcase was a bit sluggish to get through for me (ok, let’s just call a spade a spade: it was by far my least favorite read of our NYC book club, and the only thing that kept me picking it up day after day was knowing I was obliged to go to book club.  So, there’s that.), but, other ladies in the club really enjoyed it!  They found humor in the dialogue, even!  Thought it was an immigrant story of the modern ages that, in fact, needed to be told.  So I implore you: don’t judge the book by my humble opinion, pick it up for yourself and see if you’re on Team Love It or Team Hate It…there won’t be much in between, I promise you that;-)

unnamedHere’s a summary from Amazon:

A dazzling debut novel about a Russian immigrant family living in Brooklyn and their struggle to learn the new rules of the American Dream.

In this account of two decades in the life of an immigrant household, the fall of communism and the rise of globalization are artfully reflected in the experience of a single family. Ironies, subtle and glaring, are revealed: the Nasmertovs left Odessa for Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with a huge sense of finality, only to find that the divide between the old world and the new is not nearly as clear-cut as they thought. The dissolution of the Soviet Union makes returning just a matter of a plane ticket, and the Russian-owned shops in their adopted neighborhood stock even the most obscure comforts of home. Pursuing the American Dream once meant giving up everything, but does the dream still work if the past is always within reach?

If the Nasmertov parents can afford only to look forward, learning the rules of aspiration, the family’s youngest, Frida, can only look back.

In striking, arresting prose loaded with fresh and inventive turns of phrase, Yelena Akhtiorskaya has written the first great novel of Brighton Beach: a searing portrait of hope and ambition, and a profound exploration of the power and limits of language itself, its ability to make connections across cultures and generations.

Discussion time!

1. A big theme in the book was that of “bringing the past with you.”  When Pasha arrived in Brooklyn all he saw was a mini Odessa recreated on the shores of this new land, and this depressed him more than anything else.  Do you agree or disagree with Pasha’s viewpoint?

I feel like this is a bit of a delicate topic here in NYC, no?  I mean, on one hand, I’d say unless you were forced out of your country against your will to live abroad (different story, completely), then it was in fact your choice to come to NY to make a new life for yourself and your family.  There’s a quote by Beryl Markham that goes, “If you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved, and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can”.  While, yes, there is comfort in having familiar things around you as you had in your homeland (the same restaurants, the same food, speaking your native language), and these ethnic neighborhoods are what gives NYC its life pulse, I can also see Pasha’s point.  If you’re constantly yearning for the homeland, will you ever find true happiness in the present?  After all, nostalgia is nothing more than a mild case of depression, right?

2. The author chose not to use typical dialogue in her novel…no quotation marks to signify if the characters were speaking aloud or in their heads.  How was this experience for you, the reader?

Honestly, this was the last thing that bothered me about this book.  Her writing style was fine, but the fact that there was very little plot and her characters were exceptionally unlikable bothered me much more than her lack of quotation marks.  I got the feeling that she was directing this debut novel to be a big hit with the NY Times critics (obviously well done, bravo on that front!), but wasn’t thinking much about her average reader.

3. Why do you think the author chose to call the book Panic In A Suitcase?

This was one part of the novel I thought she got right.  The characters were so disorganized and scattered that every time they were coming or going, whether in Brooklyn or Odessa or upstate weekend getaways, there was such chaos and pointless talking from all parties involved…migraine inducing!  I would have gone running in the opposite direction as far as humanly possible.  Which does pose the interesting question…since this is rumored to be a bit of a fictional tale based on real life, is that exactly what author Yelena Akhtiorskaya did?  I sure hope so.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book below, and make sure to join us next month for our discussion on Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion, which we’ll hold on the blog on Thursday, February 12th. Between now and then feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #UYCBookclub!