A Day in the Life

20140602-225555-82555632.jpg

1. The sunflower booth at the Saturday Morning Market always has a line wrapped around the block. // 2. Homemade salted caramel brownie cookie sandwiches; the cousin to my famous red velvet cookies. // 3. Root beer floats under twinkling lights at Urban Brew & BBQ. // 4. Colorful cocktails overlooking Beach Drive at The Canopy. // 5. Checking out Scarlet Johansson’s newest indie flick “Under the Skin” at the enchanting Tampa Theater. // 6. Ridiculously delicious Nutella banana waffles at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe. // 7. Lady Gaga in Ft. Lauderdale kicking off the first night of her artRave world tour! // 8. Quiet afternoon underneath the wall of lamps at Mandarin Hide. // 9. French macarons and blood orange mimosas for brunch at Birch + Vine.

Advertisements

City of Blinding Lights {Part 1}

As most of you know, I will be relocating back to Florida at the end of the month. It’s something I’ve had on my mind for a while now and it just feels like the right move for me. I will certainly miss New York City but I thought it would be a great time to document some of my favorite things about the Big Apple. Since food is obviously the greatest thing about the city, I thought I would start off by discussing my favorite restaurants and bars.

Five Favorite NYC Restaurants

1. Empanada Mama – This is by far my favorite place in the city. Empanada Mama is the definition of “hole-in-the-wall.” It only seats about 30 people but it is definitely worth the wait. They serve over 50 different kinds of empanadas. I recommend the Hawaiian (pineapple, ham, and mozzarella cheese) and the Americano (hot dog and cheddar cheese). We can’t forget about the green salsa they serve with them. I wish they would send me a lifetime supply of it, I could eat it on everything.

2. Peanut Butter & Co. – This little Greenwich Village place is a great lunch spot. Everything on the menu contains some sort of peanut butter. From the classic PB&J to my favorite, The Elvis, which is peanut butter, banana, honey, and bacon on grilled toast. To complete the experience, you must order a cold glass of milk to go with your sandwich.

3. Shake Shack – If you’ve been to NYC and haven’t been to Shack Shack, you’re missing out. These are easily the best burgers in all of Manhattan. Although there are several locations in the city, I recommend the one in Madison Square Park. You can enjoy your burger, crinkly cut fries, and peanut butter shake (the best) underneath towering trees and twinkling lights. Plus, you never have to fight for a table here.

4. The Meatball Shop – This Lower East Side hotspot definitely serves the greatest meatballs I’ve ever had (besides my mom’s, sorry). I’m a huge fan of the Smash- a sandwich where you select the type of meatball and sauce. The best part is the buttery garlic bread it’s served on. The classic tomato sauce on the beef meatballs is my top pick.

5. Dinosaur BBQ – Although I’ve only been here once (but have a second reservation for this coming Friday), it still makes my top 5 list. This phenomenal barbeque place is located up in Harlem right on the Hudson River. The night I went for dinner, we waited at least an hour and a half for a table but it was totally worth it. Everything from the ribs to the Syracuse style salt potatoes to the mini iceberg wedge salad served with their homemade dressing is delicious. Only word of advice, make a reservation a few weeks before you plan on going so you don’t have to wait!

Five Favorite NYC Bars

1. Bourbon Street – Is anyone really surprised that this is number one? Ever since my first month living here, this has been my go to spot on the Upper West Side. It reminds me of a typical college bar back in Orlando. Decent music, good mix of people, and $1 beers almost every night of the week. Plus, it’s only a short subway ride from my apartment. You can’t ever go wrong with Bourbon Street.

2. Brother Jimmy’s – There are several locations but the best is also on the Upper West Side right across from Bourbon Street. Thursdays are the best time to stop by and enjoy the happy hour specials. Their specialty drink is called Swamp Water and is served in a fishbowl complete with a plastic alligator. I love the Southern feel of this place and their barbeque isn’t too bad either. They even have specials for Southern residents on Wednesday nights. It’s like it was meant to be.

3. Blockheads/Mother Burger – The frozen drinks are the reason these spots made the list. They have $4 margaritas and frozen pink lemonades every night of the week. The mediocre Mexican food at Blockheads is nothing to write home about and the food at Mother Burger is decent, but I really love the specialty drinks. Plus, this location has a giant outdoor space which is perfect on a warm, summer day.

4. Pier i Cafe – This place is only a 10 minute walk from my apartment but I just recently discovered it. It’s hidden below W 70th Street right on the water. It’s located on a pier (hence the name) and is the perfect place to watch the sunset with a big group of friends. I felt as if I was back in Florida minus the palm trees and white sand.

5. Le Bain at The Standard Hotel – I’ve been to several rooftop bars but they are usually full of trendy people and overpriced drinks. Although Le Bain is quite pricey and has a tough door, it is worth the trip to the Meatpacking District. The main floor of the bar is closed in and consists of about two overhead lights (you can’t even see your feet) and a small pool overlooking the lights of the city. They even offer a bikini vending machine in case you forgot your suit. The top floor mimics a backyard with astro turf, upscale patio furniture, and white leather couches. The cucumber lemon coolers are totally worth the $14 price tag.

{Honorable Mention} Angels & Kings – This East Village bar was my absolute favorite spot in the city until it got shut down about 3 months ago. Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy owned this bar as well as the ones in LA, Chicago, and Barcelona. A&K had a lounge-type feel, full of red velvet couches and black furniture. This was the rockstar hangout so it was clear why I was a frequent visitor here. RIP.

Spring Fever

As a girl from the south, we don’t believe that true BBQ can be found outside of our region. After dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem last week, I have to disagree with that statement. This is one of the most famous spots for ribs and fixins’ in the tri-state area. Ribs, cornbread, salted potatoes…and completely worth the hour and a half wait! Before dinner, Courtney and I explored Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a neat part of the city- full of vintage shops, flea markets, and eclectic little stores. The Belgian waffle truck also happened to be in the area that day.

I’ve been a huge Gossip Girl fan since the show premiered in 2007. This show is one of the reasons I truly fell in love with the city. My apartment is only two blocks from the Empire Hotel where the character Chuck Bass lives on the show. They film at the hotel quite often but you never know when the actors are actually going to be on set. This week I was out in the area and decided to stop by the hotel to see if they were filming. With my luck, Leighton Meester (Blair Waldorf) and Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass) were heading to set right when I walked by. Leighton was in a hurry but Ed stopped to take a picture with me. Too bad he didn’t invite me to the Empire for drinks in his penthouse!

Since spring decided to arrive early this year, the flowers have been blooming like crazy! One day everything was dead and the next there were tiny blooms on every branch. Since we don’t have cherry blossoms in the city, I ventured to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with Isobel to see their collection of cherry blossoms and exotic plants. Everything was in full bloom and so picturesque. The quaint gardens and Japanese inspired decor made you feel like you took a step out of the city and into the zen gardens of Asia.

We finished off the afternoon with lunch in Little Italy and a stop at Ferrara’s for chocolate covered cannolis. To complete my celebrity-filled week, I ran into Cynthia Nixon (Miranda) from Sex & the City on the street corner!