Saturday

EDIBLE GARDEN AT NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

It was nothing less than a beautiful day at Edible Garden, a summer long event at the New York Botanical Garden celebrating naturally grown food. Today is opening day and the garden looks amazing! Many people are wearing their garden hats and are ready for a day filled with tours, gardening advice, cooking demonstrations and sampling. The Conservatory courtyard housed a tasting all day with samplings of Spanish omelets made with Analon cookware, Quady Winery had wine slushies, Ciao Bella made mini brownie sundaes and the best Granola I've ever tasted was by Ambrosial.


THE CONSERVATORY AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

A trip through the Conservatory was next. This walk takes you through a climate controlled journey to see live rare plant life and tress. It's quite an impressive nature display. First, you walk through the Rain Forest where you see an array of different trees and plant specimens. You can feel the dampness in the air, almost like being in the Amazon, except a lot less dangerous. As you continue your adventure, you find yourself in the desert where, the temperature is perfectly dry and hot to sustain the various live cacti. Then, there is a vast garden displaying the different fruit, grains, nuts, rice and vegetable plants and trees which, for city folks like myself is a wonderful learning experience. Who knew what the quinoa plant looked like? I sure didn't. Here are some beautiful pineapples to wet your palate...looking very sweet!


AN AFTERNOON WITH CHEF DAN BARBER

Edible Garden will host many exhibits, culinary demonstrations and degustations this summer at the Botanical Garden. On this day Chef Dan Barber from the acclaimed restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns spoke about the great "farm-to-table" restaurant movement that is starting in America. Which is specifically what he does at his restaurants. Farm fresh seasonal ingredients that are served to patrons whom travel as far as the White House to eat and taste. Chef Barber wants to "create a good story with agriculture" and create a model for future chefs of the world. The Chef was witty with his explanations and talked about his experiments in the garden, many favorable and some disastrous. Overall trying tirelessly for his name to be synonymous with "this guy is a fricken genius" which got plenty of laughs from the audience. He explained, that "we are hard-wired to know where our food comes from" and the importance of being a "foodie" which he describes as an environmentalist and an activist. Chef Barber spoke very highly of the Hudson Valley, calling it "the best grassland in America." He said, "Grass is the best ingredient for good eating, for beef and the taste of meat" and that "all animals should be raised on grass." The chef seemed inspired by his work and was inspiring. A visit to Blue Hill at Stone Barns is definitely in my future. [stay tuned for that posting.]

MARTHA STEWART LOVES HER HERBS!
 
Martha Stewart was next to take the stage at the Conservatory Kitchen located under the tent on the lawn. She and her group of experts gave a wonderful talk about the wonderful world of herbs. Starting with the proper way to even say the word "H-E-R-B" which, Martha argues should be pronounced with a heavy "H" since, "you wouldn't call your husband ...erbert would you?"

Martha went on to describe the beautiful herbs represented at the Botanical Garden's herb garden which she and Andrew Beckman, Garden Editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine designed; and which, Martha takes great pride in perfecting, openly pointing out a bare section in the garden which she would like filled as soon as possible. Martha described the delicious varieties of herbs such as the Asian and Russian dill and, the different ways an herb garden could be beneficial. Even promoting the idea of an Apothecary garden for holistic medicinal purposes which she warned with caution. But not before long, it was time for the fun stuff. COCKTAILS!






Summer Herb Cocktails of course, made with herbs fresh from Martha's garden. Martha showcased her mixology expertise and made the delicious libations, the Martha-tini and the Purple-Basil Mojito whose recipe she borrowed from Dan Barber. Afterwards, Martha parted giving her guests a tasting of pâté on crostini and deviled eggs along with a gift bag with all the latest issues of her many magazines.


A TOUR OF THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

After a wonderful afternoon of demonstrations by top New York experts, a tour of the garden was next. The Botanical Garden has 250 acres of lush green grass, beautiful flowers and an overall magnificent landscape. My first stop was the Martha Stewart herb garden which truly is special. The amazing garden's many fragrant herbs left me feeling as if maybe it was time to ditch the city, move to the country and plant my own garden. Okay maybe not, but it still was very impressive. Afterwards, to get a better look at the Botanical Garden, I hopped on the free narrated tram tour which tours the garden with a hop-on hop-off service and takes you to various scenic spots such as the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.

Edible Garden 2010 events will be held at the New York Botanical Garden all summer long from June 19th to Octber17th 2010. Edible Evenings, A Celebration of Wine, Beer and Food will be held every Thursday evening. There are cooking demonstrations at the outdoor Conservatory Kitchen every Saturday. Chef Emeril Lagasse and Lidia Bastianich will participate on the last weekend of Edible Garden. Be sure to check the schedules to keep abreast of the multiple exhibits and all that is happening at Edible Garden.

Sunday

Best Brunch on the Upper West Side

What's better than brunch on a Sunday? Um, Nothing. Specially at Good Enough to Eat which is appropriately named and fitting since everything on the menu is tempting. The restaurant is very casual, resembling a country diner where you can enjoy a creative farmhouse breakfast at a leisure pace, with a bottomless cup of coffee and, every breakfast item imaginable represented on the menu and available all day long. Plates including the corned beef hash topped with two poached eggs and biscuits; as well as, the Lumber Jill which consists of two scrambled eggs, two chicken sausages and two strawberry pancakes with strawberry butter and maple syrup, mmm! There can be a long wait on weekends since this is somewhat of a destination brunch spot. But, it really is that good! Don't believe me? Well, then maybe you should've just asked the guy eating at the next table over, actor Anthony Michael Hall from none other than the movie The Breakfast Club.

Saturday

Shakespeare in the Park


The Public Theater of New York puts on two productions in Central Park every summer. One of which and most popular is Shakespeare in the Park. Tickets are free and are distributed via the line at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Another option and my method of choice is a daily log-in to the virtual line on the Public Theater web site which allows you to win 2 tickets for same day performances. This 2009 season is showing the Shakespearean play Twelfth Night staring Anne Hathaway, Raúl Esparza, Hamish Linklater, Audra McDonald and the rest of a great ensemble cast. Next, will be The Bacchae by Euripides. You are encouraged by the theater to bring snacks, wine, even an entire picnic basket that you can enjoy right from your theater seat. If you prefer instead, you can purchase gourmet yummies at the upscale concession stand Public Fare by Danny Meyer. You can get everything from Beaujolais wine and yellow fin tuna salad to whoopie pies, to name a few. Tonight, the weather was not cooperating, raining on and off but, the show must go on and started promptly at 8:00pm. The actors performed their best while getting rained on periodically and ended the play with a rain song while, the audience watched wearing ponchos. It's great fun to be surrounded by the beauty of Central Park while experiencing Shakespeare, regardless of the weather.

Shake Shack (Upper West Side)


The Shake Shack on the Upper West Side is truly a great addition to the area. Not only is this location perfectly located next to Central Park. But, lets face it, who doesn't like a double Shack burger, fries and a concrete. The frozen custard concrete special flavors change every day, but you can always get your own blend like I did. My concrete on this day was a vanilla custard with chocolate toffee chunks. I've got to go on Monday when the flavor of the day is coffee with doughnuts mixed-in (mmm donuts..Homer). The service is better than your average fast food chain. Items are made to order and taste fresh every time. That is why you are given a beeper after you order, which conveniently gives you time to find a table where to eat, which can be hard to come by. Shake Shack is a guilty pleasure which most people wont admit to having very often but, trust me.......THEY DO!

Friday

SAUSAGE PARTY!?!?

I must have been missing dear old Dad this Father's Day weekend because I found myself headed straight to try DBGB Kitchen & Bar. Daniel Boulud's new restaurant on Bowery Street. DBGB is the new trendy must-go-to spot specializing in Beer and Sausages. What's not to like, right Daddy? The space is marvelous! Large and spacious, decorated with a modern open kitchen flair, which makes you feel as if you're eating inside Boulud's very own glamorous kitchen at the chef's table. The bar area is just as big and accommodating, with bar seating and bistro tables that are perfect for the many non-reservation holders like myself. The menu reads like every other small plates restaurant now-a-days; salads, tete, oysters, elaborate small over priced burgers and mains. Except, there is also a sausage section which is the main draw of the restaurant, as well as the many beers that are available. The bar bites menu is more limited with many of the sausages served in a bun, adding a barsy fun element. My meal consisted of sharing the fried tripe, the DBGB beef hot dog with relish, the Tunisienne lamb sausage with harrisa, the Chipolata pork sausage with mustard and the Polonaise pork and veal kielbasa served sliced on apple and beet cabbage. The portions are small and the prices add up quickly, as for the sausages themselves well, lets just say my dad would have been pretty disappointed. They are good don't get me wrong but, when I think of sausages; I think of plump, spicy, meaty assortments of pork, lamb, chorizo, blood and chicken served piled high on a platter with an arrangement of different mustards, warm sauerkraut and caramelized apple cider onions, aside a long crusty baguette. And a cold German beer. Now that's a SAUSAGE PARTY!!! Happy Fathers Day Dad!

Monday

Action Against Hunger Charity Benefit

Action Against Hunger, an organization that saves the lives of malnourished children and families while providing food, safe water and sanitation had a charity benefit party to help raise funds. Restaurants Against Hunger hosted the event at Touch and donated auction items, such as dinner at popular restaurants, gift certificates, and cooking classes with famous chefs like Jacques Pépin whom was at the event and I had the pleasure of meeting. The benefit seemed to go well; there were many attendees, an open bar, Rosa Mexicano made their famous fresh guacamole, and two bands shared the stage breaking only for a short film about the charity and a petition asking Al Gore to help with the charities efforts to eradicate hunger. Here's a link to sign the petition. http://www.askalgore.org/index_en.php

Sunday

"NEW" Yankee Stadium!

The Subway Series, New York Yankees vs. New York Mets at the "NEW" Yankee Stadium is where I spent my Sunday afternoon. The weather could not have been better, even my still winter white arms got a tan, maybe a bit on my nose too but, my new Yankee baseball cap kept me safe. It was my first time at the new stadium and I'm impressed! The stadium is modern and spacious.

Food is everywhere. There's a Hard Rock Cafe, Johnny Rockets, Asian Noodle Bowl and Lobel's has a meat locker with a butcher putting on a show for carnivorous onlookers who can then purchase a fresh steak sandwich to satisfy their craving. Also, there's a Brother Jimmy's barbecue from where I ate fried pickles that went well with my Nathan's corn dog and beer. I love baseball !!!

It helped that I had such great seats, 6th row from the field compliments of my CC (co-conspirator) we'll call him Bubba, who got them from a client at work. The game was a sweep Yankees 15-0 but still great! Specially when Matsui hit the home run into my area and the guy sitting five seats over caught it! So exciting! Now, I can't wait to go to the new Citi Field. See you there. Go New York!

Saturday

guantanamera guajira guantanamera...

Besides being a very popular Cuban song, Guantanamera is also a popular Cuban restaurant on New York's 8th Avenue. It has everything you might want or need to have a great Cuban night out without having to travel to Miami or back in time to 1950's Havana. Typical Cuban drinks are offered such as, the Cuba Libre, Pitchers of Sangria and Mojitos. The live band plays with a heavy flute, the lechon (pork) is well marinated in mojo and served with moros rice, and boiled yuca, and to top it off, for dessert a tres leches cake and Cuban coffee, which is similar to an espresso but packs a bigger punch. Also, cigars are freshly rolled and given gratis to patrons. It's a loud, fun time and definitely worth a visit. Enjoy!

KATZ DELI

Katz Deli, what can I add about this New York institution that hasn't been said before? Except, that it truly is as good as everyone says, which explains why it's always crowded. The warm slightly fatty pastrami, the corned beef, the tongue and the chopped liver sandwiches are all favorites. Get'em however you want, with sauerkraut, onions, mayo, mustard, cheese... All good options and along side of some pickles and a cold Dr. Browns soda or a classic egg cream; you'll think you're in deli heaven. Everyone around me seemed to be getting the big fat steak fries and hot dogs too, but that's not what I was here for. I suggest going with a sandwich buddy so you can share and sample two different sandwiches. I ate half of a pastrami with mustard on rye bread and half of a chopped liver with onions on rye. Delicious! The staff is great too; very patient, helpful and relatively kind given they're dealing with so many tourists everyday. Except of course when the thin, strange, hungry looking young woman standing next to me asked the counter; "Do you have any veggie sandwiches?" She received a blank stare as an answer. Katz Deli born 1888 and will out live us all.

Wednesday

HOORAY FOR BOOBIES!

Surrounded by the lights, noise, traffic, tourists and mayhem that is Midtown's Theater District, living in this neighborhood does have its perks; like, all of the above! As well as keeping current on show openings and closings, seeing many actors casually shopping at the bodegas and obviously going to see a Broadway play on a whim. There are many ways of doing this without going broke. You can stand in line at the Times Square's Ticket discount, go to TheaterMania.com for discount codes or get to the theater two hours before the show and get on the lottery where, if you are one of the approximately thirty winners you may buy Orchestra Seats for $25.00. All of these are great options since a ticket runs approximately $120. I opted for a discount code which reduced the price by 50% for my wonderful orchestra seats. But, enough about paying-the-man. The Tony's Awards are Sunday and Broadway fever is in the air plus, I WANNA ROCK!!! I had a Rockin' good time at Broadway's Rock Of Ages, an 80's theme rock play with all the favorite hair band songs. It is high energy and very funny. The cast is great, the era costumes are a riot, and well, I've never been flicked off so many times before in my life! (by the way, back-at-ya). Overall, it's a great play which, wait for it....wait for it.... I PREDICT WILL WIN THIS YEARS TONY FOR BEST MUSICAL! phew..don't forget, you heard it here first. Oh, I almost forgot: Groupies take cocktail orders from your seats. I had my favorite 80's drink, a cranberry vodka sprite (okay, so I sometimes drank it, when my mom wasn't looking). So lets review, don't be an air head go see this show, don't have a cow buying the tickets and have a Head Bangers Ball !!!