Monday, July 29, 2013

A Guest Post for NYC Food Truck Association

Read my second guest blog post for the New York City Food Truck Association here!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday - When I Fell in Love with NYC

When I was home this weekend, I went through some of the relics in my childhood bedroom and found quite a few gems - horrible photographic evidence of my awkward teenage years, notes from old classmates, and some journals that I had completely forgotten about. I settled down under my covers with my ceiling fan on blast and took a trip down memory lane.

One of my favorite journal entries I uncovered was from March 14th, 2000 - what may have been my second trip EVER to NYC, with the Ocean City High School choir. It looked like this (written out below):

"The Big Apple" - I love New York! I want to live there when I'm older. Today was a lot of fun. First we went to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. It is so awesome! All these famous people made out of wax but they look so real! I got my picture with the Beatles, Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg, GW Bush, and so many more. It was really cool! Then my group went into this theater thing and Eryck & I went to get pretzels, but when we returned, they wouldn't let us in. Eryck went to find them but I stayed with this other group and saw the movie which turned out to be an IMAX. It was so cool! But then I had to eat lunch with seniors and we ate at Liddys. I think that's the name! I had 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream for $5.60 (ouch!) Then we went to the play. Kiss Me Kate. It was good. I thought it wasn't gonna be but it was really funny. That was my first Broadway play. Then we went home and I still had homework to do...UGH! So I'm tired! I love New York! <3 erin

There is so much that amuses me here.
  • I was so amazed by the wax museum and nowadays although I call myself "a tourist in my own zip code", I don't think I'd be caught dead (or in wax) in one of those.
  • I think the place I called "Liddys" has to be "Lindy's" since it is near the Theatre District.
  • I had ice cream for lunch. This doesn't surprise me one bit. I love that I thought a $5.60 price point was worth writing about. It appears that Lindy's charges $6.99 for ice cream these days - ouch!
  • I don't understand the whole pretzel story.
But - most importantly - the line "I want to live there when I'm older..." - I had no idea that I wanted this so early in life. I thought this idea originally popped into my head freshman year of college when all my friends were from North Jersey, Long Island, or Westchester and we all just assumed we'd live and work in the city together when we graduated.

Considering how much I've changed (as anyone does) since I was a sophomore at OCHS, I was surprised that 15-year-old Erin wanted what adult Erin wanted. Although that Erin was also obsessed with Justin Timberlake, making her own websites, chronicling her life, and figuring out how to follow her dreams. Maybe I haven't changed as much as I think. But can we all agree I'm a *little* less awkward?



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Florence - It's All About the Climb

*Editor's note: I'd like to thank my sister, Katie, for being my personal photographer throughout our family's trip to Italy, for suggesting the title of this post to me, and for singing Miley Cyrus to me more than I'd like her to.*

Although I have a slight fear of heights sometimes (like on top of an elephant or while jumping from a boat - what is wrong with me?!), I always look out for a high point in a new city to experience it from above - to identify what I've already been to and where I still need to go, to compare it to the map I've been studying, to have my breath taken away by the views (and in some cases, by the climb up to the views).

I've of course ridden up the elevator to the observation decks at the Empire State Building but that required very little on my part. In terms of adventures that actually took effort, I've climbed up numerous towers in castles in Ireland, climbed 259 steps of St. Paul's Cathedral dome in London, and trekked up 366 steps of the bell tower in Bruges. If you're planning on seeing Florence from above, you have a couple options right in the middle of the city.

Florence's skyline is defined by Brunelleschi's famous Duomo of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. My dad has read and reread a book about this dome and therefore our trip to Florence was widely defined by the Duomo as well. He would express while choosing walking paths, "But if we go this way, we will miss the Duomo!" even though we'd already seen it twice that day. At first glance on our first day, the Duomo, the church, and the bell tower appeared fake to me, as if we were in Epcot and these buildings were all just huge flat facades, I felt like they didn't fit in right there. Maybe this thought came to me because I had been smacked hard in the head with construction materials when entering the train station in Rome earlier that morning, but that's a story for another time.

My dad, sister, and I had of course planned to climb to the top of the dome - to see the city from above and to fuel my dad's obsession. My mom decided she would sit out of this adventure. But the first day in Florence, the line for the dome was winding and we realized we could wait in a much shorter line to climb Giotto's Bell Tower and could come back another time for the dome. The dome opens at 8:30 each day so we went back on our last (foggy) morning and only had a few people in front of us.

After climbing the Bell Tower

After climbing the Duomo - and what I look like at 8:50 in the AM after a workout (sorry)
But which one should you climb if you don't have the time or energy to do both? Here are a few details to help you in the event you have to choose.

Difficulty: The Bell Tower has fewer steps (414) than the Duomo (463), but overall it is the harder climb, or at least the harder descent. The Bell Tower has more levels at which you can stop and rest, but in certain spots, the path is way more winding than the Duomo. The Duomo also has only a few stretches where people are going up and down on the same staircase. The Bell Tower is two-way the entire trek up and it can be a little more claustrophobic when your body is as flat against the wall as possible and you are sucking in your gut to the best of your ability and trying to avoid being smacked in the face by people's backpacks at the same time.

An ominous stairway in the Duomo

View: As mentioned, the defining aspect of Florence's landscape is the Duomo, so from the Bell Tower, you get an extraordinary and postcard-perfect view of Florence proper. But the Bell Tower, as seen from the Duomo is nothing to sneeze at either. The Bell Tower has a cage on top so the Duomo is the less obstructed view and may be a better backdrop for scenic photos. On the other hand, at the Bell Tower, you may feel safer in a more enclosed area, knowing that you aren't going to fall.

Quintessential Florence view from the Bell Tower

Il Duomo deck from the Bell Tower

A foggy view from il Duomo

The Bell Tower via the Duomo
Extras: When climbing the Duomo, you are on top of the church Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and can get out of the stone staircases for a little bit to walk around the top of the dome while inside. Painted inside the dome is a stunning Last Judgment fresco. To see the painting from the floor of the church a few days prior and then to see it from right up against it was quite interesting. The paintings as viewed from the dome are so large and in some cases, a little stretched out, but from below, they look as they should. It really makes you wonder how the artists planned it and how many times a day they had to travel up and down to make sure they were doing something that looked good from the floor.


It's up to you to decide. Whatever you choose, remember Miley's wise words..."Ain't about how fast (you) get there. Ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's all about the climb." And hold on to the walls as you make that climb.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Get More NYC | Ryan Adams' "New York, New York"

New York has been getting a lot of heat lately and therefore, has also been getting a lot of hate, which is conveniently and obviously just the letters of heat, rearranged.

All last week, I stopped wearing any makeup to work because it was melting off my face, I actually spent my days drinking water to avoid dehydration (I hate drinking water, I know it's bizarre), and I purposely stayed out late at bars to avoid the "heat sandwich" (Kat's term) that is my 5th floor apartment. I rolled my eyes a lot with the rest of the city - especially while on the subway - but a few lines from the below Ryan Adams' song, "New York, New York" kept getting stuck in my head and reminded me that I only hate it here a few weeks a year.

"Hell, I still love you, New York." You may be god-awful in the summer sometimes, but I promise, "I'll always love you though, New York."

{YouTube link}


Monday, July 15, 2013

Florence - Seeing Michelangelo's David

The best thing I saw while I was in Florence last week was hands down, or rather one hand down and one hand with a sling thrown up over the left shoulder, the sculpture of David by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo took this hunk of marble when other artists had rejected it. I'm sure people have made this comparison before, but it is similar to how the subject of his sculpture was the only one in the bible story to step up and say he could help defeat Goliath. Michelangelo was 26 when he started the piece. Way to make me feel like a failure at 28, Mikey.

{image via}

David is housed in the Accademia Gallery in a dome with a skylight to fully accentuate the masterpiece. You can tell the true art fans from the normal folk while watching crowds of people turn the corner. You have those who look up and smile, knowing that they are seeing the best piece of artwork they've probably ever seen. But you also have those who stop in their tracks, whose jaws drop, whose eyes may even tear up a little when they first set their eyes upon the sculpture.

Guess which one I was.

Despite what's inside, the Accademia is not terribly crowded. David is completely approachable in between tour groups. You can get up close enough to see his weathered (or in my words, "sunburned") shoulders from when he used to be outside in Piazza della Signoria. You can see the damage done to his left foot from when he was attacked by a crazy person with a hammer in 1991. But most importantly, you can see the incredible work, heart, and soul that Michelangelo breathed into him - the veins, the muscles, the strands of hair, the gaze in his eyes, and of course, his tight buns.


Monday, July 1, 2013

"Keep Calm and Cronut on"

If you live in the NYC area and don't know about Cronuts already, you've clearly been living under a sad unsweetened rock. The Cronut (TM!) is a doughnut with the flaky layers of a croissant. It was "invented" at Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street. The media is all over it and it's even being featured on shows like TMZ (I *swear* I've only watched three episodes ever).

{image via Dominique Ansel}

These puppies sell out every weekend within an hour and people start lining up at 6 am. Now, I've mentioned before that I don't really typically mind waiting in line for something good, but getting up early to do so? No freaking way. I figure the only time I will ever get a Cronut is if I stay up all night until the bars close, head to a diner, try my best to stay awake in line, and then sleep the rest of the day away in a glorious sugared haze. And to be honest, based on how late a few of us were on Saturday, it would have been a good time to try it out. But we couldn't visit Dominique Ansel twice in one day.

Earlier on Saturday, Kater and I wandered out of Washington Square Park looking for food and looking to get away from the HomeStuck webcomic meetup that was invading our lawn area. We walked for a little and got into a conversation about Cronuts. We realized we were right nearby the bakery and decided that we should go check it out. Even though we were several hours late for cronuts, we figured everything else at the bakery would be delicious as well.

Caitlin had told me that Dominique's almond croissant would change my life, but they were also out of those at that point of day. They did have regular croissants, chocolate croissants, and something else that intrigued me more - a DKA, Dominique's Kouign Amann - described on the website as "tender, flaky, croissant-like dough with a carmelized crunchy crust." This was a premium, at $5.75 but of course I went for it and also ordered a chai macaron.

We enjoyed our purchases in the adorable garden area in the back of the bakery. The DKA was magnificent. And dare I say, life-changing. I could imagine a Cronut being of similar taste, since it was still flaky, but not in a croissant shape, and with a carmelized coating. It wasn't fried of course, and had no icing, but I think it will make a good replacement until I am rich enough to hire someone to wait in line for Cronuts for me everyday.


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