Getaways | The Bizarre and Beautiful, Mendocino County

Located 163 miles north of San Francisco is Mendocino County, a picturesque rarity that showcases some of the most stunning natural landscapes that California has to offer. For an unforgettable road trip, grab your best friends (one of which should be a great driver given that a lot of the drive is on windy terrain,) and head up the Mendocino coastline, which in and of itself is beautiful. Think: cliffs, crashing waves, and adjacent green wilderness for hours.

Sure California has plenty of pretty oceanside getaways, but none compare to the quirky, thoroughly charming town of Mendocino. For one, it’s a part of the Emerald Triangle — the largest cannabis-producing region in the country. Not your thing? Totally fine. It’s also home to 90 miles of Pacific coastline, 24 state and national parklands, historic villages and outdoor adventure sites, and countless redwood trees making it ideal for nature lovers. Not to mention Mendocino is filled with strange oddities that need to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated.

While exploring Mendocino, book your stay at the phenomenal Inn at Newport Ranch which is set on 2,000 acre coastal cattle ranch. It boasts epic ocean views, redwood forests, and over 20 miles of private trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding or whatever your heart desires. Not to mention you’ll find the most chill cows and calves roaming the grounds at any given time. Looking for something a bit more out-of-the-ordinary? Check in to The Andiron. Built in 1959, this eccentric property is spread out over five acres of woods. Each of the 12 cabins are completely refurbished and redesigned, featuring a strange theme that sets it apart from the other. Funky, retro, and unlike any other lodging in the area, you’ll spot antique items, décor, and salvaged furniture throughout The Andiron.

Be sure to make stops at:

For a complete rundown of Mendocino’s most distinctive places to visit, check out my Thrillist article.

Point Arena Lighthouse
IMG_7359fullsizeoutput_51a9The World’s Largest Redwood Tree Service Station
fullsizeoutput_51a3IMG_7057Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree

The Solar Living InstituteIMG_6968IMG_6965IMG_6958fullsizeoutput_51a1IMG_6991IMG_6985IMG_6939IMG_7006The Bluebird CafeIMG_7012

IMG_7014The Inn at Newport Ranchfullsizeoutput_51a4IMG_7244fullsizeoutput_51a7IMG_7266IMG_7274IMG_7252fullsizeoutput_51a5IMG_7286IMG_7226IMG_7168IMG_7205IMG_7144IMG_7137fullsizeoutput_66f8fullsizeoutput_66f7B. Bryan PreserveIMG_7364IMG_7387

The AndironIMG_7484IMG_7489IMG_7473Cowlick’s Ice Cream

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Urbanspace’s Broadway Bites is B A C K

I love having options — who doesn’t amirite? If you live in NYC, chances are you’ve seen Urbanspace’s phenomenal pop-up markets stacked with the best food vendors around. Up and coming. Innovative. Established. Cult-like following. Instagram-worthy. All things delicious live at these markets. Officially open June 1 through July 14 is Broadway Bites at Greeley Square on Broadway, between 32nd and 33rd Street. I had the chance to attend a VIP tasting this week, which basically means I got to stuff my face as much as I could within a few hours. And believe me, I didn’t hold back. Here’s a sneak peak at what you have to look forward to.

Broadway Bites is open daily Monday – Sunday 11am – 9pm. Full list of vendors on website.

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Renegade Lemonade
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Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
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Doughnut Project
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Mi Burger
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Domo Taco
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Squish Marshmallow
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BAO by KAYA
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Ice & Vice
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Squish Marshmallow
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Mochidoki

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Travel | Seaside Tranquility at Palos Verdes’ Stunning Terannea Resort

IMG_4033Pharrell was spotted at this resort the night before I checked in. So. With that in mind, looking to experience the California Coast like never before? Then check out Terranea Resort, located atop Los Angeles’ Palos Verdes Peninsula. This picturesque luxury hotel has left 75 of 102 acres of its private peninsula undeveloped, enabling guests to fully take in the pristine, natural landscape.IMG_4219IMG_3993TR1IMG_3983TRThe resort strives to protect and highlight the environment on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, with its panoramic coastal views; hiking and bird-watching footpaths along the scenic Discovery Trail; educational tours to highlight the property’s ecology and rare flora and fauna; frequent whale, sea lion and dolphin sightings; and temperate weather all year.

Little known fact: even if you’re not a guest at the hotel, you can spend the day at Terranea’s Cove Beach (and pretend like you are!). Aside from the obvious draws — the rocky shoreline, views of the grassy cliffs in the distance, and miles of hiking trails to explore — a major highlight of this beach is the large sea cave that is accessible during low tide. IMG_4229IMG_4339IMG_4226IMG_4894Visitors can enlist the help of the adventure concierge, who specializes in excursions that include horseback rides, paddle boarding, ocean kayaking alongside otters, tide-pool explorations and even falconry (encounters with falcons, Harris hawks and Eurasian eagle owls). I opted for an exhilarating kayak ride which gave me an up close and personal experience with the sea life living within the tall kelp beds on the coastal waters. IMG_4869IMG_4069IMG_4064Another unique aspect of Terranea is its outstanding culinary program which strives to showcase the property’s natural surroundings, as well as the agricultural treasures that grow on its grounds. Lemon trees, honey-filled beehives, seasonal produce such as bell peppers and tomatoes, herbs, and avocado trees are grown on its continually expanding organic farmland at the nearby Catalina View Gardens. Not to mention, the resort also boasts an innovative sea salt conservatory allowing them to harvest their own sea salt straight from the source: the Pacific Ocean.

The Mediterranean-inspired resort is an ideal retreat from the stresses of life. Decorated with elements such as giant clay pots filled with succulents and cacti; wicker lounge furniture with sky blue accents; and lush gardens, mosaics and palm trees, the Terranea maintains a peaceful ambience. Despite the Mediterranean touches, the resort stays true to its California roots, offering guests a relaxed atmosphere to match the tranquil seascape views. You won’t feel out of place in flip-flops or beachy resort wear.

Terranea features 582 guest rooms and suites, including spacious casitas and villas, and the Bungalows, a collection of accommodations that offer spa and wellness-focused amenities. Each guest room has a private balcony, most of which overlook the ocean. The rooms also come with four-fixture stone baths, flat-screen TVs and plush beds with rich linens.

Original article was featured in Travel Weekly and can be read here.

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Travel | Punta Cana’s All-Inclusive Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort Complex

img_6073All-inclusive experiences are by definition luxuriously over-the-top. That said, my time at Punta Cana’s Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort exceeded those high expectations, and here’s why.

Situated on what is known as the “Coconut Coast,” the award-winning resort complex is comprised of two adjacent resorts: Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe and the adults-only Barceló Bávaro Beach. While the sheer size of this property is enough to surprise even the most experienced traveler, what is most impressive is the number of attractions, shops, pools, and restaurants that are found on site. Evoking a sense of child-like excitement, the complex is a cross between Disneyworld and a tropical paradise.img_5966img_5969img_6006Located right on the Punta Cana coast, 80 percent of the 1,991 rooms face the ocean, and the property’s beach is rated as one of the top ten beaches world-wide. After being welcomed to the resort with glasses of Champagne, I was escorted to my own suite which offered bottles of complementary rum, fruits, and of course, more bubbly. While the spacious room features modern design and plenty of natural light, the highlight is the patio which overlooks the pool complex, countless palm trees, and the ocean. However, this patio is extra special, as it includes a private hot tub.

Only after a tour of the entire property are guests able to grasp the grand size of this complex. For those in the mood for fun in the sun (minus the sand), guests have the option of four different swimming pools. Each is equipped for ultimate relaxation thanks to a plethora of hammocks, waterfalls, built-in pool seats, and more. Kids can enjoy the Barcy Water Park, complete with water slides, castles, and waterfalls, while the whole family can join in on the adventure at the recently completed Pirate-themed water park.

If you’re feeling lucky, head over to the 24-hour casino, which has everything from slot machines to poker and blackjack. Adjacent to the casino is the nightclub where you can dance the night away, and don’t forget the bowling alley and entire shopping center at your disposal. Take in a show in Barcelò Palace’s Vegas-inspired theater which can accommodate up to 1,400 guests with two levels of seating. Nightly shows are performed with dancers and live music. Itching to get active? There are endless ways to break a sweat on the resort. Pick anything from working out in the fitness center and golfing on the premier 18-hole golf course on property, or get competitive with a game of soccer or tennis. And when you’re ready to unwind, head over to their therapeutic spa.img_6022When the sun is out, there is no easier way to soak it in than by walking over to the beach. Aside from the clear warm waters of the Caribbean, which are kept calm by surrounding coral reefs, guests have complimentary use of kayaks, windsurf boards, sailing boats, paddle boards and catamarans.img_6092

img_6201Going on a resort-organized excursion is highly recommended. Riding through the stunning landscapes of Punta Cana on an ATV is exhilarating, and it’s an excellent way to check out the countryside on the way to the picturesque Macao Beach. Make sure to stop at Rancho Macao where you can learn about hand-rolled cigars, coffee, and cacao production, and have a taste. Toast to the beauty of the Caribbean with some pineapple wine after cooling off in an underground cave filled with five meters of crystal clear water and a waterfall.

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Last but not least, Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort has 14 specialty restaurants, including à la carte options such as México Lindo (Mexican,) Kyoto (Japanese,) and La Dolce Vita (Italian). In addition, there is a 24-hour sports bar with countless televisions and luxurious seating. There are also 16 various bars scattered throughout the property to ensure you’re never without a piña colada or other refreshing beverage of your choice.

Before you book a trip, keep in mind that the resort can be a bit noisy at times, given the large amount of vacationers and young children on the property. Though the scenery surrounding the area is stunning, the enormous capacity of the resort may cause some trouble when searching for a secluded, peaceful spot to truly unwind. All in all, if you’re looking for a tropical getaway with enough activities, shops, and restaurant options to keep even the most demanding traveler busy, this is your place.

Since Barceló Hotel Group’s recent restructuring, three new distinctive brands have been introduced to its already impressive collection: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & ResortsOccidental Hotels & Resorts; and Allegro Hotels. Barcelo Hotel Groups now is involved in more than 109 properties and 33,000 rooms in 20 countries.

Check out LuxeGetaways for the complete article.

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The Everyday-Is-Your-Bday Cake

img_7640Over-the-top, colorful, filled with surprises, super sweet, multi-layered, and perhaps too much for some… this cake is basically me in dessert form. The Everyday-Is-Your-Bday is the ultimate cake. Why not treat yourself like the queen you are, birthday or not?

Live everyday like it’s your bday!

With the help of Fillables Bakeware, you can pack lots of variety into any baked treat. Thanks to its innovative two piece design, you can fill the inside of each individual cup with surprises like candy, pudding, brownie, chocolate chips… almost anything!

I decided to go with the classic funfetti and strawberry cake layers surrounded by a nice coating of vanilla (outside) and strawberry (inside) frosting, topped with sprinkles, covered in coconut, filled with Meyer lemon bar and another layer of coconut flakes, and finally garnished with a lemon twist. Think: strawberry lemonade + coconut confetti.

All you need is three mixes: one box funfetti, one box strawberry, and one box Meyer lemon bars. Follow the directions on the back of the boxes, but disregard the crust portion of the lemon bar instructions. Get baking! Once the cakes are done, let the them cool. Proceed to scoop some of the baked lemon filling into each pocket for a zesty surprise that will break up some of the more intensely sweet flavors. Put the non filled layer on top of the other. Then go crazy with frosting and decorating!
img_7653img_7651img_7650img_7652img_7639img_7656img_7655img_7642Photos by founder of Makeplease, the talented Haley Davis — check her out!

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The Ultimate Guide to New Year’s Eve 2017 Parties in NYC

IMG_7572.jpgNew York City never sleeps, and definitely not on New Year’s Eve!

New York City is known for throwing over-the-top celebrations on New Year’s Eve, so don’t miss out on all the excitement! Grab your crew and welcome 2017 with a night you won’t soon forget (hopefully!). Here’s everything you need to know about parties, dining and drinking on New Year’s Eve in New York City.

Troy Liquor Bar
675 Hudson Street, New York City
Ring in the New Year in style at Troy Liquor Bar, a high-energy lounge and an ideal venue to party without the bougieness of a lot of nightlife spots. Troy has top-notch cocktails as well as billiards, arcade games, and a photo booth to capture your memories. This event features a two hour premium open bar and a Champagne toast at midnight. With DJs, dancing, VIP tables and caves, a New Year’s Eve countdown and more, this is the spot to be.

Click here for more information.

Hammerstein Ballroom
311 West 34th Street, New York City
Ten fully stocked bars. Over thirty bartenders. Multiple DJs. Head over to The Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom to celebrate the New Year with a five hour premium open bar and a night of dancing to the most poppin’ music spun by NYC’s top DJs. Countdown to midnight as you watch the ball drop live from projection screens and cheers at midnight with bottles of Champagne.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Hammerstein

Apotheke
9 Doyers Street New York City
Apotheke is hosting a black and white masquerade ball, inspired by Truman Capote’s notorious masquerade ball that he threw in the Plaza Hotel (which incidentally just celebrated its 50th anniversary). Get festive in black and white attire and bring an animal mask — it’s going to be a crazy night. Ticket includes open bar all night, Champagne toast, live music from our house band Broadway Brassy and the Brass Knuckles, burlesque and a DJ.

Click here for more information.

The Roof
120 W 57th St. New York City
Guests of The Roof will get spectacular views of the fireworks over Central Park this New Year’s Eve. DJ Tim Martell will be spinning throughout the night. Look forward to dancing, bites and a Champagne toast at midnight.

Click here for more information.

CATCH NY
21 9th Ave. New York City
Dine like a star at CATCH NY by reserving a table as part of an early seating or a late seating this New Year’s Eve. With an a la carte menu and a few tasty specials (think: five pound Maine lobster with Champagne brown butter), guests can watch the ball drop while eating in style! Who knows — you may even be dining next Mariah Carey or Kate Hudson — just a couple celebs who’ve been spotted there.

Click here for more information.

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in NYC
Photo Courtesy of Catch NYC

Marea
240 Central Park South New York City
Go all out with an elegant seven-course grand tasting menu. Get the night started with a live band and hors d’oeuvres on the dance floor before and after dinner.

Click here for more information.

VANDAL
199 Bowery New York City
After 10 p.m. enjoy a family style dinner including items from the regular VANDAL dinner menu along with New Year’s Eve specials. Guests will also enjoy party favors, a live DJ and a champagne toast at midnight. Or step in to the trendy lounge where the party starts at 9 p.m. and includes passed hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.

Click here for more information.

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in NYC
Photo Courtesy of Vandal

Blue Fin & Dos Caminos
1567 Broadway (at 47th Street), New York City
Blue Fin and Dos Caminos Times Square restaurants are hosting a multi-floor New Year’s Eve party inside the W Times Square Hotel just steps away from the world-famous Ball Drop countdown. The event will feature open bar, passed canapés and custom food stations including a Carving station, Guacamole station, Mexican Candy station and more by Executive Chefs Sam Hazen, Juan Carlos Ortega, Boo Lim, Reed Osterhold and Ivy Stark.

Click here for more information.

The Bowery Hotel
335 Bowery New York City
Head over to the Bowery Hotel for a premium open bar, live performances, a DJ, a Champagne lounge, whiskey bar, and an outdoor terrace cigar lounge. Into the night, enjoy special after midnight snacks “NYC” style (think: pizza and pretzels) and infused premium chocolate treats.

Click here for more information.

Ascent Lounge
10 Columbus Circle, 4th Floor, New York City
The super glamorous Ascent Lounge will host a Va Va Voom New Year’s Eve Celebration overlooking Central Park from the fourth floor of New York’s Time Warner Center. Featuring entertainment from Lady Alcehmy, Christina Everett and DJ Tom Macari, the evening also includes a live a projection of the Times Square Ball Drop and a Champagne toast at midnight.

Click here for more information.

Photo Courtesy of Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Ascent Lounge

Haven Rooftop
132 West 47th Street New York City
This party is near all the excitement of Times Square without being a part of the stress. Just steps away from the ball drop, guests can see the confetti canons go off at midnight, but unlike standing in Times Square, Haven offers two bars and delicious food! Opt for a table with bottle service for the night and get your drink on at the four-hour top shelf open bar and munch on passed hors d’oeuvres.

For a classy, sit-down dinner to celebrate 2017, Tender Steak & Sushi will be serving a prix-fixe dinner with two seatings for the night. The menu includes an amuse bouche, three courses, and one glass of champagne. Dinner guests are invited to join the celebrations on the rooftop, as well!

Click here for more information.

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in NYC
Photo Courtesy of Haven Rooftop

The Cannibal
113 East 29th Street New York City
Kick it old school this New Year’s Eve with the first ever The Cannibal Award Tour at The Cannibal Beer & Butcher and Liquor House. A tribute to 80’s and 90’s old school hip hop music, this event will include bites from chef Francis Derby’s menu, a whiskey bone luge and an open bar or draft beer, draft cocktails, wine and a Champagne toast. Tour around Beer & Butcher and Liquor House to explore six separate food stations.

Click here for more information.

Mastros Steakhouse
1285 Avenue of the Americas New York City
Mastro’s is a lively, high-end steakhouse and seafood restaurant in midtown. So, if you’re looking to go all out this New Year’s Eve, reserve a seat at this fine dining establishment, eat like royalty, and cheers to 2017 with a Champagne toast at midnight.

Click here for more information.

Supercinema: The King’s Winter Masquerade at The McKittrick Hotel
The McKittrick Hotel, 530 W. 27th Street, New York City
Supercinema: The King’s Winter Masquerade at The McKittrick Hotel — home of the immersive theater spectacle Sleep No More — is a bohemian-inspired soirée complete with live pop-up theatrical performances, scenic installations and open bar all night long. Each Supercinema party requires guests arrive in costumes inspired by iconic films — all gold, black, white, or red for The King’s Winter Masquerade. A decadent dinner option is available at the venue’s restaurant The Heath, with items like foie gras torchon, Maine lobster and NY strip steak, plus free flowing libations and entertainment from the Paisley Players and special guests. Revelers can also attend a Sleep No More performance as part of the night.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of The McKittrtick Hotel

Beauty & Essex
146 Essex St. New York City
Head over to Beauty & Essex after 10 p.m. for a prix fixe dinner featuring a family styled dinner with a Champagne toast at midnight. Guests will also leave with VIP party favors to start your 2017 off on the right foot.

Beauty & Essex is also offering a Rat Pack-themed ball that will take place in our Grand Dining Room that will include passed canapés, a five hour open bar and a Champagne toast at Midnight.

Click here for more information.

Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette Street New York City
Get your tickets to Osteria Morini’s roaring 20s themed NYE event featuring a worldwide-inspired cocktail list. Get your Gatsby on with live music by Andrew’s Wild Tiger, an acoustic prohibition era jazz and blues trio drinks and dancing.

Click here for more information.

Squares
360 Park Ave S. New York City
Head to the recently opened hotspot, Squares for an open bar, music from DJ George Garcia and a live performance from Zak Downtown. Party in a stylish, sleek setting while you ring in the new year like a celeb.

Click here for more information.

Photo Courtesy of Squares

White Street: Winter Vibes 2017
221 West Broadway New York City
This New Year’s Eve, we invite you to the glamorous White Street in the heart of Tribeca. Soaring ceilings are adorned with crystal chandeliers which are sure to reflect off clinking champagne glasses and smiles the night of New Year’s Eve. Enjoy cocktails during the five+ hour premium open bar, classic hors d’oeuvres offerings, VIP table service available for small & large groups, Champagne toast at midnight, state of the art sound & light system and more.

Click here for more information.

Fogo de Chão
40 W 53rd St. New York City
Before you go dancing, treat yourself to a fabulous Brazilian steakhouse experience at Fogo de Chão. This all-you-can-eat feast of 16 fire-roasted meats and full Market Table is a perfect way to start the night. In addition, new holiday menu includes include: seasonal beef roast, sweet potato casserole, and roasted butternut squash and pear and endive salads.

Click here for more information.

The Jane Ballroom
113 Jane Street New York City
Head over to the West Village favorite, The Jane Ballroom to celebrate the New Year. Highlights of this trendy event include a four hour open bar, midnight balloon drop, music by world-renowned DJs and New Year’s Eve Party Favors. VIP and table packages available as well.

Click here for more information.

We the People Presents: New Year’s Eve 2017 Party at The Time New York
224 West 49th Street, New York City
Celebrate the New Year’s Eve inside The Time New York Hotel in Times Square. LeGrande boasts an exquisite multi-room collection of chic décor, illuminating a range of sleek, ultra-modern, and glamorous interiors. The best of the New York’s DJ scene will be spinning today’s hottest tunes into the wee hours as you ring in 2017 in style.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of The Time New York

Little Frog NYC
322 East 86th Street, New York City
Take in a New Year’s Eve Special pre-fix menu at Little Frog NYC, with or without wine pairings. Bubbly champagne midnight toast, fabulous food and good company. What else do you need to ring in 2017?

We all know a good amount of us will be hung over New Year’s Day. So if you didn’t do dinner the night before, head over to Little Frog NYC the day after all the celebrations. This French bistro is offering a New Year’s Day Brunch special item, the Little Frog Hangover Platter with rosti egg benedict, boudin sausage, grilled steak, breakfast sausage, Vermont bacon, truffle egg en cocotte, jalapeño grilled cheese sandwich, and side of papas bravas.

Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy of Paul Wagouicz

Rainbow Room’s New Year’s Eve Black Tie Event
30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th Floor New York City
Guests are invited to enjoy a premium open bar, passed canapés and magnificent views in The Gallery to start the night off right. This upscale event includes: cocktail hour with premium open bar, elegant four-course tasting menu, premium live entertainment and dancing, and of course a Champagne toast at midnight.

Click here for more information.

Bar Sixtyfive at Rainbow Room
30 Rockefeller Plaza, 65th Floor New York City
Get festive with a Champagne and caviar bar, complimentary passed canapés, live DJ performance and dancing, and a Champagne toast at midnight.

Click here for more information.

Best New Year’s Eve Parties in NYC
Copyright 2016 © Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room. All Rights Reserved.

Mitchells Fish Market
541 River Rd, Edgewater, New Jersey
Although not located in the heart of NYC, Mitchell’s Fish Market in Edgewater has the best view of Manhattan. From the George Washington Bridge all the way to the Freedom Tower, you won’t want to miss on this view, not to mention the freshest selections of seafood around.

Click here for more information.

Refinery Rooftop
63 W 38th Street New York City
This New Year’s Eve enjoy insane rooftop views at Refinery Rooftop. Highlights of this New Year’s event include a premium open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and a midnight champagne toast.

Click here for more information.

The Roxy Hotel
2nd Avenue of the Americas New York City
Get into character at the Roxy Hotel’s The Surrealist Art Ball (Inspired by Rothchild’s 1972 Surrealist Ball) featuring live performances by the legendary Buster Poindexter, premium open bar and food service from 9:00pm – 11:00pm. Themed attire is a must.

Click here for more information.

Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel
145 East 50th Street New York City
Enjoy this luxe midtown hotspot this New Year’s Eve. This penthouse level lounge sits 30 stories high atop the Kimberly Hotel setting the mood for a great night. This event includes four hour premium open bar, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, assorted passed desserts and cocktails, DJ Greg Hansen spinning, and a celebratory Champagne toast at midnight

Click here for more information.

For more of my articles on the City That Never Sleeps, visit GRID-NY.

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Dessert Alert | Spot Dessert Bar

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WHERE
13 St Marks Place (basement level)
New York, NY 10003

WHAT
Spot Dessert Bar is the perfect place to enjoy many desserts at once (as it should be). Known for its innovative and decadent creations, Spot features seasonally inspired dessert tapas. The end result of infusing your favorite Asian flavors with the commonly seen desserts like tiramisu or cheesecake? Miniature sweet works of art. Sadly, I haven’t had the chance to taste each one, but I did experience the signature Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake. This warm, dark chocolate lava cake is filled with a indulgent green tea ganache that oozes out of the rich cake with your first scoop in. The cake is dusted with green tea powder and served with a side of green tea ice cream and a thin butter cookie.spot2

GO or NO?
Definitely go. Bring two or three friends so you can have an excuse to order multiple things to “share”. The atmosphere is friendly, clean and cozy so you can chill with your friends leisurely as you try out all the fun, unique combinations of dessert tapas offered.

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Dessert Alert | Michel et Augustin Two Kooky Cookies

melty-middle-praline-toasted-almond-iiAs most of my friends and readers know, I consider myself a dessert connoisseur. With that said I’m almost shocked I hadn’t tasted Michel et Augustin Two Kooky Cookies before just recently. Chances are you’ve seen these goodies around New York — they can be found at Whole Foods, Starbucks and Union Market to name just a few locations. For those of you that don’t know, Michel et Augustin is a French cookie company that entered the United States after over a decade of successfully satisfying the sweet tooth of people around the world.
melty-middle-praline-toasted-almondRecently GRiD-NY had the opportunity to speak with Michel et Augustin’s Communications Director in the U.S., Lily Dionne-Jermanovich on the future of Michel et Augustin in the states. Their mission is to “spread the French pastry know-how across the universe,” told Dionne-Jermanovich. “We want to be the first company to be made up of 100 percent pastry-certified kooky cookies (our staff) and we launched our first class on Nov. 21.” Two lucky New Yorkers were offered spots in this exclusive 27-week pastry class to prepare for the official French pastry exam in June 2017.
banner-bakingTo clarify, when they say pastry certified, they mean actually getting the certificate from France, known as CAP, or professional aptitude diploma. This requires a 78-hour curriculum, lots of practice and an exam administered by the French state. Serious business.

Chocolate lovers will adore the Super Cookies with melty middle which comes in two decadent flavors: dark chocolate, caramel and pecans and milk chocolate and hazelnuts. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, warm them up and devour with a glass of milk or some ice cream. Personally, I love grabbing the to-go packs of the buttery cookie squares whenever I spot them at the store. My favorites include the milk chocolate, caramel with a pinch of sea salt — I can never get enough of the sweet n’ salty combination — and the lemon meringue which reminds me of lemon squares that I loved as a kid.
super-cookie-sky-linemelty-middle-1If you have yet to taste these fabulously authentic French baked treats, Michel et Augustin hosts an Open House at the “banana farm” in Brooklyn every 1st Thursday of the month. Think: cookies on cookies on cookies! As always, the event is free and not only do you get to taste the cookies, but you can also preview upcoming recipes, listen to music and mingle with likeminded cookie lovers. The Banana Farm New York is located on 98 4th street in Brooklyn and the event goes from 6:53 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. I’ll be there this Thursday (Dec. 1) so definitely holler if you’ll be checking it out too!

For the complete interview between GRiD-NY and Michel et Augustin’s Communications Director in the U.S., Lily Dionne-Jermanovich, click here.

This is a sponsored post by GRiD-NY; this in no way influenced the opinions stated. For more of my articles on the City That Never Sleeps, visit GRiD-NY.

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NYC Spotlight | Cosme

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Flatiron District’s Cosme serves outstanding contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine time and time again.

Chef Enrique Olvera brings together the beloved, traditional elements of Mexican food with innovative flavor and ingredient combinations at New York City’s Cosme restaurant. Setting this super trendy, upscale Flatiron spot a part from the countless other exclusive, majorly-hyped restaurants is the creativity of the menu offerings. In addition, its lively bar is top notch and is stocked with around 30 mezcals and 20 tequila, making for a great variety of fantastic cocktails. With warm lighting, copper tones and wooden tables and shelves lining the walls filled with bottles of wine and mezcal, books and chic kitchen ware, the atmosphere is modern, yet comfortable and cozy. Another nice touch are the vibrant, leafy green plants throughout the restaurant.  img_8034cosme3cosme6Start with a tuna tostada which comes with capers, avocado and a slight yuzu citrus on a crispy signature tortilla. Another solid seafood dish is the octopus-scallop cocktail which is served over a black aguachile with charred avocado and slivers of cucumber. The tender lobster with shiso, ginger mojo and brown butter is a unique play on the lobster and butter combo. The freshness of the ginger and shiso flavors keep this dish from feeling too heavy. Any fan of soft shell crab should go for the crunchy soft shell crab that features a well-spiced yellow mole, green papaya salad and lemon verbena.cosmecosme1On to the meat dishes! If there’s one thing you absolutely need to get it’s the duck carnitas which comes sizzling in a iron cast skillet with onions, radishes and cilantro. The duck is ridiculously flavorful. Rich, the right amount of fatty (as duck should be) and indulgent, the carnitas falls apart and is literal roasted perfection. Wrap it up in a purple corn tortilla. Boom. There you have the best soft taco ever. The short rib with scallions, cipollini and avocado is a close second must-order. Likewise extremely tender, this hunk of meat has enormous flavor and practically melts in your mouth.
cosme4cosme2You can’t leave Cosme before wrapping up your dinner with the instagram-famous and drool-inducing husk meringue with corn mousse. Cracked open and filled with a creamy, luscious corn mousse, this dessert is the ultimate balance of sweet and savory. It has a slight salty component to it which pairs excellently with the sweet crunchiness of the meringue and the decadent mousse.

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Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival 2016

img_5535This Fall, Epcot threw its 21st annual International Food & Wine Festival. From Sept. 14-Nov. 14, over 30 food booths were stationed around Epcot’s World Showcase featuring the cuisines of various countries. Each destination area is impressively designed to reflect an experience in that country. From Africa and Morocco to Japan and Brazil, this is the ultimate event for adventurous eaters. Guests have the chance to fill out their free “passport” with stickers as they visit each booth, though it’s unlikely one person could eat their way around the world in one day. I definitely recommend getting the rides out of the way before you start feasting. Nausea is no joke. Soarin’, Mission: Space and Spaceship Earth were the three highlights of the ride experiences. Don’t miss out on them.

Here are a bunch of pictures from my first Epcot Food & Wine Festival experience.  I can’t wait for next year!
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Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread
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Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas
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Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato

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Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel & Rosa Regale Sweet Red Sparkling Wine
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Pineapple Dole Whip Soft-Serve Ice Cream with Bacardi Coconut Rum

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