Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Side of Town That Could

Most New Yorkers think Houston Street ends at 6th Ave. Hey, I lived on Houston St. at one point and never ventured past 6th Ave. Now, I have a reason to make the trek into unknown territory and the reason is-you guessed it-alcohol. (Life Motto: Will travel for booze). And Houston Hall is said reason.

A recently opened beer hall between the West Village and South Village (apparently what that part of town calls itself), the decision to travel the distance was made by my group of friends to walk off that morning's brunch bellies. Walking up to the establishment, I was immediately captivated by the exterior of vintage awnings and shutters against a brick wall leading to the arched entranceway. I felt like I had stumbled upon a hidden German village. Once inside, I felt giddy. The hall was spacious with high ceilings, thick wooden rafters, long communal tables and a laid back vibe (think Brooklyn mixed with preppy). It was a packed house, and it was only 4pm in the afternoon. I was in love. I had found the winter fill for my summer beer garden void.

To top all that (besides the air raid sign in the women's restroom-see above),the beer was cheap. Beers range in size from small (starting at $5) to medium (around $8 & pictured above) to $17 for the giant jugs (a la Hofbrauhaus in Germany). There are 10 draft beers on tap all especially brewed for HH in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. To soak up all the brews you will consume, food is also offered. I didn't sample any this visit but not to fret-this only gives me an excuse to go back. Albert Einstein once said, "I love to travel, but hate to arrive." I'll agree with Albert on the first statement, but when it comes to this discovery, I have to politely disagree on the second.

The Details:
Houston Hall
222 West Houston St. (between 6th Ave. & Varick St.) 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Talk of the Town

I finally made itmade it as in paying a visit to one of the hippest, most talked about restaurants in this town. Opening this summer, Rosemary's Enoteca & Trattoria has been packed to the brim since it opened its doors months ago (a no reservation policy helps ensure that), and I had been dying to go.

This place certainly has the ambiance thing done right. It's spacious, luminous (floor to ceiling windows for day time and strung lights for night time) and covered in shrubbery. The green life is a nice tie in for the rooftop garden housed above the restaurant that supplies the vegetables for the various dishes on the menu.

The before and after was the main topic of our conversation. Our before consisted of three verdure and two focacce breads. The amazing trio we tried were the beets/hazelnut dish, the zucchini crudo (my favorite) and the radish/thyme dish. And since our idea of Italian dinner always consists of a "bread basket," we ordered the caprese foccacia and the foccacia di recco filled with stracchino cheese. The latter was like an Italian ooey gooey grilled cheese and some of the best bread I've tried. Last but not least, we ordered the homemade mozzarella because no good Italian feast can go without some mozz thrown into it.

Then came the middle portion of our meal and just like the middle child in a large family it was not our favorite. We all went the pasta route but were not blown away like we had been with our appetizers. The spaghetti al pomodoro, as classic as it sounds, was the best entree I tried as it transported me right back to Italy (makes sense considering all their pastas are homemade). My friends said the orecchiette pasta dish with homemade sausage was another must order. Going in for the kill, we decided to order dessert and went with the chocolate hazelnut semi freddo and olive oil cake. Both desserts were exactly what we wanted to end the night with and the perfect thing to keep the conservation about Rosemary's going.

Places of Interest:
Rosemary's Enoteca & Trattoria
18 Greenwich Avenue (at the corner of 10th St.) 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

My Saturday was shaping up to be a busy albeit an interesting one. It all started with an event at Dylan's Candy Bar sponsored by the Syfy Channel. To celebrate the season three premiere of their beauty competition show Face Off, the channel threw an afternoon ice cream social at my favorite candy parlor. Since I wasn't familiar with the show (not sure how since I love a good competition on the small screen), the promise of free ice cream lured me in.

What kept me at the event was the chance to get all glammed up. Syfy had partnered with the makeup brand Make Up For Ever to offer mini makeovers: face painting for the kiddies and make up sessions for the grown ups. Since I love the opportunity to have my make up done professionally for any reason, I eagerly signed up. To kill time, my friend Lauren and I perched ourselves at the bar to order a sweet treat for the 21 and older set. With a menu full of drinks like the Patron Puppy, Sour Patch Margarita and Pop Rock Explosion, I opted for a Garden Party Mojito with mint leaves and Lemonheads.

After we finished our candy cocktails, it was my turn to get my makeup done. Each guest could choose from an eye shadow design, a cat eye look and a va-va-voom red lip look. Since I love color, I chose the first and went with a color I normally don't do—poison ivy green. My make up artist Alice, who also happens to be a freelancer, event producer and YouTube sensation (Channel MissAliceAn), gave me a green ombre look with three shades from her Make up For Ever palette. With my eyes done to the nine's and my sweet tooth satisfied, I was ready to make the remainder of the day just as interesting.

Places of Interest:
Dylan's Candy Bar, 1011 Third Ave, 646-735-0078

Face Off Premieres Tuesday, August 21st at 9/8c

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pretend Art Connoisseur

Every so often, I like to pretend I know something about art/the art world and make my way over to the far reaches of Manhattan known as Chelsea. I make a list of exhibits and galleries I want to visit but always end up wandering into whatever gallery looks cool from the street (yes, I judge these books by their cover). On one of my excursions, I stumbled upon the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, a venue I knew for its Fashion Week Parties yet housed a completely different theme this time. 

The exhibit I walked into appeared weird peculiar at first until I learned its meaning. It was a traveling exhibit called SURFACE TENSION that brought together designers, artists, scientists and engineers to explore the future of water. Intrigued to further explore the room as I consider myself to be one of those eco-friendly types, I was fascinated by what I saw. Immediately, I was drawn to a waterfall of words created by artist Julius Popp. The installation titled BIT.FALL was a sprinkler releasing drops of water to form words that were being streamed from current news on the internet. I could've stared at the waterfall for hours curious to see what word would come up next or down in this case.

Nicholas Kirkwood
Alexander Wang
Back on track I visited a gallery housing a series of fashion photographs originally commissioned for the December 2011 issue of Vogue. Artist Rachel Perry Welty created self-portraits using patterns designed by clothing labels Prada, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, Nicholas Kirkwood and Givenchy. Each "self" portrait featured the artist covered from head to toe in the print with her face concealed from view. In this fashion face off (no pun intended), my favs were the Prada photo and the Givenchy photo.


Further down the road, I discovered the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery and what I can only describe as artistic play dough plates. In actuality these "play dough plates" were clay plates made by artist Polly Apfelbaum. I really gravitated towards each and every plate for their distinctive color and print crazy natures and because I am easily amused by colorful, shiny objects.
Lizzie was one of those girls that would use absolutely any excuse to stop paddling.

Once again owning an exotic pet was proving to be nothing but trouble.
It was so like Patty right idea, wrong execution.
It didn't matter how much overtime was needed. The pancake producers were determined to catch up with their brunch orders before brunch.
422 days without an accident at the chocolate quarry
My favorite exhibit happened to be my last and involved food (go figure). The exhibit "Edible Worlds" by artist Christopher Boffoli took two of my favorite thingsfood and witty writing and combined them with miniature stick figures immersed in various food dishes. Each image was accompanied by a clever explanation which I shamefully giggled at each time I read one. Naturally this exhibit made me hungry at the end and had me dreaming of my own chocolate quarry. Leaving with the satisfaction that I had filled my culture quota for the day, it was now time to fill my food quotaand I don't have to pretend to know anything about that.

Places of Interest:
540 W. 21st. St., 212-937-6580
Exhibit ended August 11th

535 W. 22nd St., 630-230-9610
Exhibit ended July 6th

525 W. 22nd St., 212-445-0051 
Exhibit ended July 7th
Recommend Markus Linnenbrink-there were songs before there was radio
starting September 6th

530 W. 25th St., 212-255-2718
Exhibit runs through August 24th

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

DIY Bartender

I've always been a fan of the Do-It-Yourself concept. The part I'm not so fond of is the actual 'doing.' Send me a DIY project, and I'll make grand plans to complete it but never actually do (cue the lazy comments). That's why when I discovered The Vinatta Project had self serving wine vending machines, I knew I had finally found the DIY I might actually complete.

But once again my plans were foiledand not by lack of ambition. The Vinatta Project's crown jewel is their enomatic (fancy word for vending) machines. When you get thirsty and the bar gets busy, you take a preloaded card, swipe, choose from the vast wine selection and wha-lavino in hand. Unfortunately, the vending machines were out of commission during my visit. Luckily for this DIY challenged gal, The Vinatta Project also offers a DIY custom cocktail program from the same guys who run The Mulberry Project. Step 1: Pick a liquor. Step 2: pick a few mix-ins such as mango and lychee. Step 3: Sip, enjoy and repeat.

So far the score was a wash (broken vending machines -1, custom cocktail creations +1) until the food came out. The corn bread alone was reason enough to ditch those summer no carb diets. The brussel spouts and corn on the cob were roasted to perfection while the bacon cheddar burger juicy. The last pep in their food step was the chocolate cake with Cheyenne chili powder which made for a surprising but tasty combination. Inventive drink contraptions, creative cocktails and good food all in a sexy ambiance—well let's just say if all DIY projects resulted in this I'd start doing them more.

Places of Interest:
Vinatta Project, 69 Gansevoort St., 646-398-9125