Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why Winter Needs to End, Pt. 3

Please pay no attention to the fact that all three of these reasons have been about drinking...but the third thing I'm looking forward to once winter ends are Biergartens!

One of my favorite things to do with a big group of friends is hang out all day and/or night at a biergarten, or as you Americans say, a beer garden.  Beer gardens are ridiculously fun and super casual.  They all have outdoor seating, long picnic tables, tons of beer on tap, and soft pretzels.  The environment is fun, laid-back, and really loud.  My friends and I always bring cards (preferably of the Disney Princess variety, obviously) and electronic Catchphrase.

On Fridays, we wear stripes

Standard Biergarten (Meatpacking District) is a new beer garden under the Highline park.  It is owned by the Standard Hotel and has an interesting payment system.  Instead of paying at the bar, you buy tickets at a ticket booth and everything there is $8, whether it's beer, wine, sausages, or whatever.  They also have a photobooth and that automatically boosts up my opinion of any place.

Loreley is on the Lower East Side on Rivington between Bowery and Chrystie.  This place has German beers on the menu you've probably never heard of but the waitresses will let you know what tastes just like Bud Light so you will be all set.  The cheese platters, pretzels, and bratwurst here are all awesome.

My favorite beer garden is actually outside of New York City (gasp!) but I have to talk about it anyway because it is that good.  It is Zeppelin Hall Biergarten in Jersey City and it is easily accessed via the PATH system.  I know all New Yorkers think that NJ is really far away, but I promise, it's just across the river and Zeppelin Hall is a great way to discover the great land of Jersey.  This biergarten has seating for eight-hundred people so make sure to bring all your friends.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Winter Needs to End, Pt. 2

I can't even remember the last time I wore something aside from my (awesome) Hunter snowboots outside.  Oh, wait, I do remember, it was the day after Christmas, when I bought them in the middle of the first snowstorm.  Can it please stop snowing?!  Can tomorrow's snow forecast please turn into lemondrops and gumdrops instead?  This is getting ridiculous.  I am getting upset and I need to talk about something happy immediately.  Oh, I know...

It's time.  To talk.  About my love for Shake Shack.  Luckily, this burger place has more than one location, including one in Times Square (44th and 8th) and one on the Upper West Side (77th & Columbus), so I can technically get it when the craving arises (which it does quite often).  BUT the second part of why winter needs to end is because there is *nothing* like hanging out in Madison Square Park (23rd & Madison) at the original location of Shake Shack, which is just a little hut/burger stand in the middle of the park with a line no shorter than an hour on a sunny day.  But what did I tell you about lines to food places?  It is SOOOOOOO worth the wait.  Anyone who says otherwise about Shake Shack is just not my friend.

This burger is my friend.

I love Shake Shack so much that all I wanted for my birthday last year (aside from a three-night long celebration) was a day off from work to go shopping and get burgers, beers, cheese fries, and ice cream with Nicole.  We waited in line for a good two hours that day and got to see an Arbor Day celebration going on in the park with Carmen Electra as master of ceremonies.  For some reason, her agent thought this was a good idea for her, although the gig included shaving men's chests for charity.  Shake Shack was also where Nicole and I went for our celebratory dinner when we signed our lease for our apartment.

"Concrete Jungle" - vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas, peanut butter
Shake Shack was actually the first restaurant in New York City that I took my parents and sister to when they came to visit and the first restaurant my cousins Christie and Emily and I went to on Christie's first NYC visit although we were shivering while eating our ice cream as it was not really nice enough yet. 

Flowers next to the waiting line this spring
I also made sure to take one of my besties from home, Aubrey, on one of the first infamous weekends she visited (PS - Aubs, time for you to visit again!!).  On that particular occasion, the line was about three hours long, so we chose to go to the convenient "B" line where you are allowed to order beers, concretes (above pic - "dense frozen custard with mix-ins"), and custard.  Nicole, Rachel, and David (are you still reading this?!) also joined us that day along with another friend from home and his buddies.  We played drinking games (with Disney Princess playing cards that were well worth the extra 50 cents at Duane Reade) in the park for a very long time and it turned out to be one of my favorite Saturdays last year.

Hello Kitty bandaids were also in attendance

Shake Shack has monthly custard specials, a different one for each day of the week.  For example, on Wednesdays in January, it is Carrot Cake.  My favorite flavors have been Fluffernutter, Red Velvet Cake, and, hold on to your hats for this one, Pancakes and Bacon.  It was incredible as you can see from the picture.

Tips on how to get the best Shake Shack experience:
  • Go before the lunch rush or before the dinner rush or late night!  11, 3:30, and 9 are good times.
  • Check the website because there is a "Shack Cam" where you can see how long the line is.
  • If there is a long line, have someone stand in it, then have someone go to the "B" line and grab beers, sodas, and/or Arnold Palmers for the wait.
  • Always ask to sample the custard-of-the-day when you order, even if you don't plan on getting any.
  • Grab a table ASAP and hold on to your chairs.
  • Bring a deck of cards and get two beers at a time (the limit per transaction).
There is nothing to hate about this place.  Except for the line, if you don't know what you are getting at the end.  If you know, you are totally okay with waiting.  Trust me.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Winter Needs to End, Pt. 1

Okay, so I gave winter a chance.  I even walked outside and took pictures the first time it snowed and I thought it was beautiful.  But winter has taken way too much advantage of me lately.  It has snowed every week.  This is not acceptable and I need March to get here ASAP.

One of the best things about nice weather:  drinking on and around boats.  Sabrina, Nicole, and I were pretty good this spring and summer about enjoying Thursday night happy hour almost every week at either the Frying Pan or Boat Basin.

Frying Pan

Frying Pan is on Pier 66 on 26th Street and 12th Avenue and is made up of a few different old boats that you can walk in between.  It's super fun but when it's nice you have to get there early to get a table.  And make sure you grab a lot of extra chairs for people planning to show up later, they are a hot commodity.  The burgers and fries there are good, they have buckets of Corona, and it's a great place to watch the sun setting over Jersey.  It is also fun to guess people's ages as they walk by and it is a great conversation starter when you accidentally yell 32 at a 27 year-old and they realize what you were saying.

Boat Basin is on 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam.  They let me order a $3.50 turkey sandwich from the Children's Menu, they have seemingly unlimited popcorn and/or chips, and have frozen margarita pitchers.  Win, win, win.

Another great place to drink on boats is on an actual Booze Cruise.  This would not be a weekly event like a Thursday night happy hour, but rather for a special occasion, like when four of your good friends have a birthday around the same time.  We went on one last September and it was still one of my most favorite nights in NYC.  Open bar, dance floor, and great photo ops with awesome friends.

Drinking with Lady Liberty
Talking with other boats in the river
One of the birthday boys
Yay College Buds
Baby, you're a firework

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the Daily

This blog is slowly making me reveal my 26 Things to Do Before I Turn 26 "bucket list."  I am now just over halfway through the list but already 3/4ths way through the year.  I will need to go into extreme goal-accomplishing very soon.  Any help would be much appreciated.

One item on my 25 list was to be in a live studio audience.  This was transferred to my 26 list and I completed it on Tuesday thanks to my cousin Mike.  Mike and his friends got tickets to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and one of his friends could not make it that day due to the impending snowstorm.  I of course jumped on this opportunity right away. 

Since Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's studios are in my neighborhood, I've attempted to get tickets to see them many times.  Every time I've clicked on the "tickets" tabs on their websites, I have been informed of the following:

Unfortunately, there are no tickets available to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at this time. Check back soon to secure your tickets or sign-up below to receive e-mails letting you know when new dates open up. 

Then I have signed up so that they let me know when new dates open up, and each time they have emailed me, I have clicked on the link immediately to get the same "Unfortunately..." message.

So when Mike told me that he did get tickets that way, I just assumed that my computer just didn't like those websites or that I was doing something wrong, but I actually just clicked on the Colbert Report ticket site and, for the first time I've seen, there is ONE ticket available for tomorrow's show.  So apparently, this does work, but you just have to do it at the right times. 

Mike and I met at the studio around 3:20 and got our tickets and waited outside for Chris and Kara to get their tickets.  We were told to come back around 4:45 to start lining up, but people starting lining up around 4:20 so we did as well.  We ended up waiting in line until around 5:45 and then were put through security and sent into the studio.

The nice thing about the show is that no matter what tickets you end up having in your hand, you have an equal shot of getting a good seat at the studio because the people who work there just point to you and tell you where to go.  So even though we were in back of the line and my ticket was "208", we ended up in the front row and had plenty of legroom. 

A comedian came out to rouse up the crowd and let us know that we were the only laugh track and that we had to be really loud, which obviously was not a problem for our group.  Then Jon Stewart came out to answer a few questions from the crowd.  We were informed not to ask anything that sounds creepy, so we didn't ask him about how Mike's dad student-taught in his class at Lawrence High School for five weeks. 

The show then started and it was really cool to see how the cameras moved around and how the correspondents were only about four feet away from Jon even though pretending to be at the Verizon conference where they revealed the iPhone news.  After the iPhone bit, another correspondent came out to discuss the changing of the language of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  Our guest that night was Colin Firth who was promoting his film "The King's Speech."  Overall, I thought it was a good episode and I was really pumped to have crossed this task off my list.

To see the episode I went to and to listen for my cheers and laughter, click here.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Best Idea I've Had Since '10

I am brilliant. 

On Saturday night (okay, Sunday morning) I had the greatest hot dog I've ever had.  Some friends and I were downtown after going out and went to a diner.  We decided not to pay $12 for soup so we got up without ordering and walked out, in search of a pizza place.  Instead, I remembered that we were right near Crif Dogs, which my coworkers have been telling me to try for about a year now.  So with my disclaimer of "If you don't like it I'm sorry, it was just suggested to me," we waltzed on over to St. Mark's Place between 1st Ave and Avenue A.

I asked the girl working there what her favorite one was and she directed me to "the chihuahua" - a hot dog wrapped in bacon with avocado and sour cream.  I ordered this and, of course, a side of cheese fries.  The boys both got chili dogs and chili cheese fries.  My Blackberry photo does not do this meal justice.

Since eating this amazing concoction I have basically done nothing but talk about it and I've been craving it badly ever since.  So today, I decided I was going to make "the chihuahua" for dinner.  I bought hot dog rolls, hot dogs, bacon, guacamole, and sour cream.  I boiled the hot dogs, microwaved the bacon, wrapped the bacon around the hot dogs, seared them a little bit, spread the guac and the sour cream on the bun, and placed the bacon-wrapped hot dog in between. 

Don't judge a book by its cover...

It was awesome.  Definitely messier than at Crif Dogs - I'm not sure how they wrap the bacon so well around the hot dog, but it was also healthier since I used turkey hot dogs/bacon and fat-free sour cream.  Since I was talking with a coworker about this, I'm bringing in the ingredients so we can have them for lunch tomorrow.  I'm going to just put the bacon on top instead of trying to wrap it in an attempt to make it less messy.

Bonus Tip - Inside of Crif Dogs, there is a "hidden" door into a bar called PDT (Please Don't Tell) - no worries, everyone else has already told.  You have to enter a "phone booth" where the bouncer on the other side decides if you get in or not.  Maybe I'll try it out next time since we were way too involved with our hot dogs to think of anything that could possibly be better.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yo' MoMA is so Fat...

Yesterday, Emily and I decided to be really ambitious and go to the Museum of Modern Art with our NYE hangovers.  While discussing the exciting events of the previous night, we wandered around looking at art for a few hours which made me feel like I was ringing in the new year the right way instead of in my snuggie on my couch groaning about my headache.

The first thing we saw when we walked in, and my favorite piece of the day, was a performance exhibit called "Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla."  Sitting on the side of a really large area was a piano with a hole cut in the middle and a person inside the hole playing the keys from the opposite way.  So this, in itself, was really intriguing and then we read that since the hole was cut in the piano, it really altered the way the piano sounded as it "renders two octaves of keys inoperative."  Then, the real kicker was when the performer started to walk forward, while playing, into the crowds of people surrounding the piano.  It was pretty funny to see the panic as everyone quickly rushed backwards into each other to get out the way.  Check this guy out:

From there we went to see the Abstract Expressionist exhibit "Rock Paper Scissors" which I was hoping was artwork of rocks, paper, and scissors in different mediums but the title of the exhibit actually referred to the mediums used - wood, stone, etching, lithography, etc.

All the way up on the sixth floor is an exhibit of Andy Warhol's "Motion Pictures."  There were a dozen films playing on the walls of the gallery of people who were filmed for hours at a time, some just starring into the camera, one woman was brushing her teeth, and one woman was fixing her hair and makeup.

The MOMA is the home to a bunch of my favorite paintings, including tons of Jackson Pollacks, Van Gogh's "Starry Night", and Picasso's "Three Musicians" which I actually modernized for a Spanish project in high school by doing an oil painting of The Beatles in the style of Picasso.  Guess which one is mine:

Other cool exhibits we ran into were "Pictures by Woman: A History of Modern Photography", "Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen", "New Photography 2010: Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Alex Prager, Amanda Ross-Ho".  And don't worry, I jumped in front of a painting for you.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!!

Happy New Year!  Here are some views of Times Square around noon yesterday.  Yes, I was crazy / curious enough to check it out, thinking it might not be so bad 12 hours in advance of the holiday.  No worries, I didn't start any fights with the millions of slow-moving, annoying, loud tourists.

Favors for people who don't mind looking ridiculous

Stages set up for the TV broadcast

Hope these people enjoy standing there for the next 12 hours

Where the ball drops from - I was told it was up there already...
I don't see it!!  Anyone??

The real treat of the day was randomly coming across THE NAKED COWBOY!  Oh yes, this man who walks around Times Square in his undies with a guitar probably makes about $500,000 a year for celebrity appearances, endorsements, and for marrying couples as "The Reverend Naked Cowboy."

He will not be making an appearance at *my* wedding.

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