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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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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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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Events | Dessert Goals 2016: The Sweetest Festival in NYC

Here’s a recap of all the sugary excitement that went down at New York City’s first ever dessert festival.
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New York City officially had its first all-dessert festival last week. Dessert Goals 2016 was the first of its kind and a huge success. The event was organized by two friends who were perplexed as to why no dessert fest existed: Miraya Berk, the founder of Pop Productions (a boutique events studio), and Liang Shi, creative director and experience designer of  clients such as Forbes to Conde Nast.

The event was a sugar-fiends’ dream. With pop music throwbacks in the background, the festival allowed each excited attendee to have a designated hour and a half to try all the dessert they pleased. Each vendor churned out picture perfect creations for people to taste — and to photograph, of course — and each vendor was more than happy to talk about their creative process, how their dessert came to be, and what inspired them.
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Aside from filling up on sugar, those that bought tickets to specific workshops were able to learn from the best experts in the dessert and social space. Dessert photo styling, tips on taking unbelievable food pictures and how to make a living off your blog or Instagram were just several of the workshops offered.

One thing that’s known about myself across the board, is that I love dessert. The words, “dessert first” have never rang truer with any other individual. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that Dessert Goals was one of the best days of my life as a New Yorker (I’m from San Francisco). Described as, “a day of celebration, indulgence, discovery and deliciousness,” this dessert fest now marks another honor: the day Chelsea Davis ate her weight in sugar. #sorrynotsorry.
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As you enter Dessert Goals, you walk through The Hall of Affirmations, which includes signs such as, “Treat yo self” and “Life’s too short. Eat dessert first.” If you had any hesitation on whether or not you should eat as much dessert as possible, you didn’t after taking ten steps into the venue!

The event space was decked out to make it the sweetest experience possible. Inflatable larger-than-life doughnuts were floating around, old fashioned jars filled with classic candies adorned one wall, Instagram-worthy backgrounds were everywhere, and there was an excited buzz throughout the entire space. But maybe that was because everyone was also sugar-high?
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In addition to 21 of the most innovative dessert vendors in New York, Dessert Goal also had a variety of really thoughtful additions to the event. Outstanding extras included: free candy at the candy shop; free French press coffee and lessons courtesy of Bodum and Intelligentsia; and — for all the bloggers, influencers, photographers and fellow dessert enthusiasts — an Instagram garden, which is exactly what it sounds like. This dessert oasis is specifically designed for snapping pics of your vibrant, over-the-top sweet treats, complete with various backdrops and prop-desserts whose purpose is to be photographed.

Those needing a palette cleanse could head to the roof top for a sugar break at the salt bar (indulging is all about balance) and an adorably hip vintage ice cream lounge presented by The Dobbins St. Vintage Co-Op. Skyline views, fresh air, giant ice cream-shaped pillows, and baby pineapple plants were just a few things that made the roof top extra special.

The carefully curated mix of vendors offered a huge range of dessert styles. From the epic 1950’s-style Hong Kong egg waffles from Wowfulls, stuffed with ice cream and topped with goodies like mochi, strawberries and pocki; and Mini Melanie’s opulent gemstone dessert truffles and decadent mini cakes; to Taiyaki’s fish shaped waffle cones stuffed with red bean and topped with matcha soft serve ice cream; and the always-classic, Cookie DO cookie dough mixed with whatever sweet extras your heart desires, there was something for every taste preference.
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Heard of artisanal twinkies? Neither had we until we tried Jae NYC Eats’ Twinkie-inspired “Cakies” in flavors like halo-halo — Pandan, Jackfruit and Ube. This was a thrilling discovery! There was #BAONANAS’ banana pudding, which gave Magnolia’s Bakery a run for its money with its leche-flan inspired base with flavors that include lychee-rose with strawberry.

Bittles’ breakfast cake bites were another unique dessert that festival-goers enjoyed. These cake bites are infused with your favorite breakfast cereals and treats — like poptarts.
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Perfect coffee pairing bites included the one and only, Doughnut Plant, which offered a variety of Fall inspired flavors such as candy corn, filled with corn pudding and good ol’ pumpkin spice. Also fabulous, were Joey Bats’ flakey, creamy, and rich Portuguese egg tarts.
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For ice cream aficionados, Noona’s Ice Cream was scooping Korean-inspired flavors like salted peanut butter + banana caramel, toasted rice, matcha + dark chocolate and whiskey + bacon.  In addition, Mochidoki was serving chewy, mochi-wrapped balls of ice cream in inventive flavors like mango Thai basil, black sesame and pumpkin cheesecake.

This year’s Dessert Goals sold out in a hurry. If you couldn’t snag a ticket this time around, at least now you know it’s totally worth it!

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

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NYC Spotlight | The One and Only Museum of Ice Cream at The Whitney

ice creamHonestly I’m surprised no one in New York City — home of all the absurd fashion trends, too-cool-for-school crowds, and every hyper-Instagramable culinary marvel around— thought of a Museum of Ice Cream sooner. I was ecstatic about my invite to check out the museum for myself, considering every single one of the 30,000 tickets sold out in five days.

The Museum of Ice Cream, a month long pop-up in The Whitney in Meatpacking District, is every sugar fiend’s dream. It’s no surprise that the exhibit dedicated to the wonderful world of everyone’s favorite summertime dessert is as visually appetizing as it is actually a delicious experience.
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If you’re planning on visiting, make sure you’re ready for the camera because aside from being one of the coolest (pun intended) experiences you’ll have this summer, it’s also obviously a treasure trove of Instagramable moments.

Among the VIP elite who got the inside scoop on the museum — we’re talking hipster bloggers (who I guess are famous? Not sure…), each with their own paparazzi crew snapping “candid” pics left and right… while they streamed their experiences on Facebook and Snapchat (of course) — was me! Here’s what beautifully imaginative sweet treats you can expect!

Within the first few steps into the museum, you’re welcomed with a bowl of creamy, indulgent ice cream, with flavors exclusively curated for the museum.ice cream 12Further into the world’s cutest museum, you’re presented with oddly shaped, homemade, edible balloons made of a sticky sugary mix… that are filled with helium! Obviously I had to try one. I sounded like a sugar-stuffed, delirious chipmunk.IMG_1095
Each exhibit is interactive, essentially immersing you in ice cream heaven. And it being a museum, the pastel colored walls are covered in the delightful history of ice cream. Who knew George Washington was so obsessed that he spent over $200 in one summer (the equivalent of $5000 today) on ice cream?

You can also take part in helping to create the “The World’s Largest Ice Cream Sundae” by slam dunkin’ a scoop of never-melting “ice cream” in to a big gold bowl. One of these fine scoops is mine.
ice cream 11There’s a Willy Wonka-esk Chocolate Chamber room that literally smells like pure chocolate, complete with a chocolate fountain, a big “chocolate” bean bag chair for lounging, psychedelic chocolate swirl projections, all while you listen to the Willy Wonka theme song playing in the background.ice cream 7There’s this cool waffle cone light installation.ice cream 5And of course, there’s the main event, the one and only life-sized pool filled with 11,000 lbs of rainbow sprinkles. It’s beautiful. That said they get e v e r y w h e r e. Seriously. Between the toes, in the undies, in your bra… The pool’s sprinkles, however, aren’t edible. But they do make for the ultimate photoshoot. It’s a thing of pure magic. The fact that the wall is lined with jars of Dylan’s candy just makes it that much sweeter.

ice cream 8There are walls of bright ice cream-themed art work, the kind of stuff I would totally decorate my room with. ice cream 9This room also gives you your “Willy Wonka” moment of woah. Pop a miracle berry candy (which temporarily allows you to taste sour things as sweet) and enjoy a pink ice cream cone topped with juicy lemon slices, that now taste like sweet lemonade.ice cream 6Finally, you arrive at the Tinder-sponsored room where you can yet again have a little photoshoot with the ice cream sandwich swing, the sprinkles “selfie wall,” and an ice cream scoop seesaw.ice cream 4Now who’s going to create a bacon museum? Anyone?

 

NYC Spotlight | Sugartooth Tours

IMG_0345If you’re anything like most New Yorkers, getting around in the summer on hot, sticky subways is not ideal. Why not explore on foot? Discover the best cupcake and ice cream spots in the city with Sugartooth Tours, which is now (through the end of summer), offering two sugar-fueled walking tours of the city’s trendiest areas to explore.

There are new places popping up constantly all over New York City, so whether you’re a native or just here on vacation, try out all the latest sweet treats that you’ve seen blowing up your Instagram feed! With the options of either the Downtown Village to Village Cupcake Crawl and the Ice Cream Summer Sundays Frozen Treats Tour, you’re guaranteed to end the day full and satisfied with your day of dessert adventures.

This year’s Downtown Village Cupcake Crawl ventures through the East Village and West Village while eating cupcakes and even creating your own along the way. If you’re more of an ice cream person, the Ice Cream Summer Sundays tour features stops in Union Square, Little Italy, and Soho.

Since it’s the middle of summer, I opted for the ice cream tour — easy decision. After meeting up at Union Square with our lovely (and extremely knowledgable) tour guide, our group head to our first stop: Chloe’s Fruit.

This was perhaps the healthiest of everything I devoured that day. These fruit pops come in a variety of flavors that included the usual suspects (raspberry, mango, banana…). Using only “fruit, water, and a touch of organic cane sugar,” these pops were refreshing and light. I chose the strawberry pop, dipped in dark chocolate, and rolled in coconut flakes.

From there we hit up Sundaes and Cones which has a crazy variety of custardy, thick flavors that range from the unusual — think wasabi, corn, and lavender — to the classics like pistachio and cookie dough. My favorites happen to be the more unusual flavors: taro, black sesame, and avocado.

Next we had a nice sit-down ice cream sandwich break at Davey’s. I had two glorious, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with speculoos chocolate chip ice cream sandwiched in between them, rolled in pretty sprinkles. The cookie was buttery, soft, and chewy on the outsides. Many split their desserts. I was not one of those people.

We then headed to the adorable Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co. for some scoops of innovative flavors. I chose the creamy, rich buttermilk honey blueberry. Buttery, fruity, and sweet — I loved it. Next time I’m definitely getting their famed, OddPockets, “a warmed-up version of an ice cream sandwich using brioche bread that’s stuffed with ice cream and toppings then heated on a panini press.” Holy moly.

As we made our way to Little Italy, we stopped at Rice to Riches. Yes, I know it’s not ice cream — but with flavors like hazelnut chocolate bear, key lime love letters, and play it again butter pecan, how can you really object? Sure, it’s not very visually appealing, but beauty is only skin deep! Plus, they have signs like “no skinny bitches” and “eat two rice puddings and a sensible dinner.” Everyone wins.

And our last stop was the little authentic Italian sweet shop just outside Little Italy, M’O IL Gelato. Despite being filled to the brim with ice cream (physically),  you can bet I finished my entire helping of creamy, refreshing coconut gelato.

The Downtown Village to Village Cupcake Crawl runs Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. starting June 11th, while the Ice Cream Summer Sundays Frozen Treats Tours runs Sundays at 1 p.m. now through August 28. For more info, click here.

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Events | Thrillist’s Best Day of Your Life 2016

IMG_9553On the longest day of the year, June 18th, Thrillist threw its Best Day of Your Life event in none other than Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Not just a bar crawl or food crawl, but rather an everything crawl, we had only 4 hours to hit up 12 locations and devour a ridiculous amount of food & cocktails. No time was to be wasted, unless we were taking our time to get a little wasted (just kidding!). In other words, our mission was to do it all. Obviously.

Stop 1: Rough Trade — a huge independent music store based in England. Of course, the Williamsburg location is the only one in the U.S., and is home to thousands of vinyl records and CDs, plus listening stations. Here we checked in, took a bunch of pictures, and got our passes!
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Stop 2: The Burger Guru — a meat patty heaven. What we ate: short rib sliders and black-and-white milkshakes. I could have easily had three of each.

Stop 3: Shelter — a pizza & empanada restaurant/ Americana-filled lodge, with an emphasis on Argentina/Italian food. What we ate: Empanadas and Josh Cellars wine pairings.

Stop 4: The Gibson Brooklyn — a chill whiskey and craft beer bar featuring over 100 types of whiskey. What we ate: whole roasted pig BBQ and bourbon sweet teas. Yes, they roasted an entire pig before our eyes! We enjoyed the tender BBQ al fresco on their adorable garden backyard.
IMG_9570Stop 5: Rosarito Fish Shack — a Latin influenced seafood and tequila spot with live mariachis and open-air windows. What we ate: white fish ceviche and signature Rosarito margaritas.

Stop 6: Kent Ale House — a craft beer, sports bar-ish place that offered a stage to anyone wanting to live our their rock star dreams. Sadly, I didn’t perform. What we ate: truffle bacon popcorn and Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Stop 7: Heatonist — a trendy hot sauce shop with over 150 rare and unique hot sauces. Drink: custom Bloody Marys!

Stop 8: Falcon Laundry Bar & Restaurant — an indoor/ outdoor restaurant in a former steel fabrication mill featuring gold fish racing! What we ate: beef-and-tomato-jam sandwiches and jalapeño-spiked tequila cocktails.

Stop 9: Crif Dogs — a small, but crackin’, retro hot dog shop! What we ate: signature Crif Dog and tater tots.

Stop 10: The Meatball Shop — a meatball paradise offering hella types of meatballs & sauces. What we ate: meatballs (duh) and red sauce, served over polenta.

Stop 11: Schmackary’s — one of the best cookie places in the world. What: the ultimate custom cookie station. Basically my dream come true. My creation? A funfetti cookie coated with a thick layer of vanilla and marshmallow frosting, doused in sprinkles, and topped with fruity pebbles (for texture of course.).

Stop 12: Output — a super hipster Brooklyn club with a gorgeous rooftop decorated with lights and leafy vines, crowed with cooling looking people. What we ate: fresh sliced fruit and refreshing Sanpellegrino cocktails. This was a fantastic spot overlooking Manhattan to end the crazy day.

IMG_9604Other awesome things that happened included getting matching (fake) tattoos with Nick, having hot, fresh pizza literally bike-driven to my hands, massages, watching a random pro-skateboarder do his thing on an indoor half-pipe, and being serenaded by mariachis. Oh, there was also a terrifying clown roaming around. I could have gone without that one.

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Andrew Zimmern’s ‘VIP Navigator’s Table’ Experience at the Renaissance Midtown Hotel’s Debut Party

In celebration of the debut of Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel, the brand threw a grand unveiling party that offered guests unconventional, immersive, and interactive experiences showcasing “the world’s first digitally enhanced and ‘living’ hotel.”

Each performance and experience featured were curated by a celebrity guest “Navigator.” It’s not surprising at all that the experience I was most excited about was the “VIP Navigator’s Table,” a rare opportunity to enjoy unusual bites curated by the James Beard Award Winning TV personality and culinary expert, Andrew Zimmern, known for shows that include Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Bizarre Foods America.

The bizarre bites included spicy sesame peanut noodles served in mini take out containers; Hotel Saigon grilled beef rolls; tuna ceviche with Brazilian tuna salad with fresh hearts of palm served in mini wooden spoons; fried shrimp and corn fritters with remoulade; sea urchin crostini with torched lardo; and griddled Pimento cheese sandwich bites served with small cups of roasted tomato soup. Everything was complex and delicious in flavor, especially the Saigon grilled beef rolls which were delicately rolled up in grape leaves.

The cocktails for the night were equally fabulous and unique. The cherry blossom negroni was a strong concoction of gin, cacao nibs, fortify, chocolate, and vermouth. My favorite drink of the night was the Stories of the Sea which was a fruity mix of rum, orgeat, curaco, lime, bitters, and tropical salt air ― yes, I did write tropical salt air. This “air” was an innovative bubble-bath like froth which had a salty-sweet and subtle fruity taste to it.

Also at the celebration were live performances at Rock & Reilly’s NYC by The Knocks and Wyclef Jean, along with sets from DJs Harley Viera-Newton, Alexandra Richards, Franco V, and Elle Dee who each kept the beats coming all night.

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31st Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals on Wheels

9 2016 - Konrad
{Konrad Brattke Photography}

For the 31st Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals on Wheels, Rockefeller Center was transformed into one huge, charitable fiesta, beautifully crafted by renowned architect and Citymeals Board Member David Rockwell. Over 50 of the world’s greatest chefs gathered and participated in !Que Rico¡ Celebrating Latino Cuisine and Culture: 31st Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals on Wheels. World renowned chefs who donated their time and efforts included Daniel Boulud, Marc Forgione, and Alfred Portale.

IMG_8810These culinary legends honored the flavors of Latino cooking as they created fabulous dishes at tasting stations throughout the plaza. Each booth was designed and styled to reflect the colorful, rich, and storied history of the Latin community. Along with the spicy, festive, and outstandingly complex variety of food offered, there were also plenty of innovative cocktails, as well as live music from Latin Grammy nominees and dancing.

This event drew over 1,000 individuals, and whether business leaders, gourmet enthusiasts, restaurateurs, chefs, or simply lovers of excellent food, it’s safe to say that everyone had a truly special time. This year, the event raised over $900,000, at least $70,000 more than last year. Most importantly, 100 percent of all proceeds from ticket sales will be used for the preparation and delivery of meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers.

Standout dishes included Masaharu Morimoto’s house roast Peking duck tacos; Alfred Portale’s Argentinian red prawn ceviche with papaya salad; Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s sautéed Maine lobster with corn and romesco sauce; Wolfgang Puck’s “inspired” whole roasted duck, and Andrew Fowles sorrel glazed spare ribs. For dessert, there was Richard Capizzi’s hojiblanca olive oil cake with with lucuma sorbet, ridiculously good choco-tacos filled with banana ice cream dipped in chocolate, Markus Glocker’s coconut flan with crispy coconut and sea salt, and Torres’ unique cherimoya and lucuma ice cream topped with Pisco. Let’s be honest though ― everything was incredible.

Even the crickets I ate were surprisingly fantastic! Crunchy, well seasoned, and definitely something I won’t shy away from again. That said, visually they’re intimidatingly gross.

It was a night of culinary magic. Meeting some of the most talented chefs in the world, like legends Chef Wolfgang Puck and (Iron) Chef Masaharu Morimoto, was pretty surreal!  Can’t wait for next year!

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The 9th Annual (Savor) An American Craft Beer & Food Experience Recap

IMG_0190Over 4,000 beer-lovers attended the ninth annual (Savor) An American Craft Beer & Food Experience in Washington D.C. With 76 unique, emerging, and passionate breweries offering their expertise of craft beer and, of course, their brews, this two-day festival is unlike any other.

An American craft-brewer is defined by the Brewers Association as, “small, independent and traditional.” Small: annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less; independent: less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft-brewer; and traditional: a brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

Savor offers a national platform for these regional, lesser known breweries to expand past their usual breadth of influence. Out of the craft breweries pouring, 70 percent were not at the event last year and half had never participated in this event before. Each brewery had a booth in which they showcased two of their beers, along with paired with hors d’oeuvres for unlimited sampling.

Delicious bites included whipped bone marrow with shallot and sherry marmalade paired with imperial IPA; roast asparagus and leek tart paired with saison; lamb tartare with cocoa nibs paired with imperial stout; shrimp and grits paired with pale ale; and banana pudding paired with farmhouse ale. These are just several of the beer and food combos offered throughout the night. Also present was a grand charcuterie station and an artisan cheese buffet to enjoy.
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During each night of the event, separate, intimate salons took place where attendees could interact, listen, and learn from the beer specialists themselves regarding various subjects. Hour-long salons offered featured topics such as fruit beers vs. fruit-flavored beers and indigenous American beers ― past and present.

Not surprisingly, the salon I chose to attend was beer as dessert, which had each participant taste “four unique beers that may remind you more of a dessert than a beer.” It was presented by Atwater Brewery’s Mark Reith, Big Storm Brewing Company’s Dan Sartin, and Insight Brewing Company’s Ilan Klages-Mundt

One of my favorite beers of the night was Insight Brewing Company’s sweet, fruity Blackberry Saison. Co-founder Ilan Klages-Mundt was awesome enough to answer some questions.

What gives you inspiration when embarking on a new flavor? Is there a favorite/ worst part of this process?
Ilan Klages-Mundt: The idea of making a new beer is entirely a creative one. Sometimes an idea can come from trying a new food. Sometimes you seek out local ingredients at a farmers market. Sometimes you’re walking by a juniper bush and the smell inspires a totally new beer idea. Once the idea is in mind for a beer, the science comes in to play, and recipe formulation begins. The longer you’ve brewed, the fewer test batches you need to do in order to make the best beer, but sometimes the test batching can get tiresome, as the process doesn’t always work as fast as the creative.

What makes a beer an “outstanding beer” in your opinion?
This might be an exceptionally basic answer, but I think it all comes down to flavor. If the beer tastes great, then it’s a great beer. Plain and simple. Not everyone will like the same beers, and that’s OK, but if you do like a beer, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Blackberry Saison {Insight Brewing}

For beer beginners, what’s your advice on finding the types you like?
If you have a local brewery (which these days, you probably do), go for a visit and tell them what you are looking for. There’s a good chance that they make a beer that will be something that you will really enjoy, but there’s also a good chance they’ll challenge your taste buds and show you something you may have never known existed!

Another great way is to go to a good local beer shop and ask the sales person there to give you a few beer ideas that they would suggest for a beginner. Beer shops can have a huge selection of beers, so I’m going to guarantee that they will be able to find something for everyone.

Lastly, just as every year in the past, the Brewers Association has collaborated with both “small and independent farms, ranches and fish mongers to incorporate local and seasonal ingredients in as many menu items as possible.”

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