Friday, July 31, 2009

Catch-All Fridays: Catching Up on Bar Reviews

(Interior shot of Galway Hooker)

Last we left off in my bar reviews from ABC Club NYC was at Fiddlesticks many months ago. I thought I would provide a run down of G, H, I, J & K for you all! We've been to some fun places and had some great nights!

Galway Hooker (on E. 36th Street between 5th and Madison) was a good time. I have to say that we received the best reception and service as a group from Galway Hooker. They gave us great drink specials. We had a semi-private area on the 2nd floor with awesome comfy little booths. The downside is that this place is a popular hang out so it definitely good really crowded!

(Interior shot of the bar area at Half Pint)

Half Pint was definitely a smaller crowd. We had originally wanted to go to Havana on the Upper West Side but they had like 3 parties booked that night. Unfortunately they didn't get back to me in a timely manner and so we had to scramble to let everyone know about the change of location! Half Pint (at 76 West 3rd Street) is one of my sisters favorite bars. It's a small Irish pubby type place. Even though we had a smaller crowd we had a good time at Half Pint (perhaps too good a time...!)

(Interior shot of the private room at Inc. Lounge)

Inc. Lounge was the largest turn out we've had for ABC Club NYC. We had about 50 people so it was great that we had this awesome private room at the back of the club. Inc. Lounge (at 224 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue on the 2nd Floor of the Time Hotel) was so much fun. The private room had a pool table and Wii (so people were bowling, playing tennis, baseball, golf, etc). The staff was very friendly and the food from Serafina's downstairs was delicous. All in all this was definitely one of my favorite ABC Club events!
(Semi-private area at Jadis Wine Bar)

That was until we hit up Jadis Wine Bar just two weeks later! This is hands down my favorite bar that we've found for ABC Club. Jadis (located at 42 Rivington Street in the LES) is a wine bar (although they do have beer). We had the back area reserved which was filled with plush leather couches surrounding a large coffee table. The decor was awesome and the food & wine were delish! They have scallops wrapped in bacon on their menu...I mean are you kidding wedding appetizer ever! I've never seen them on a menu before. I also had a pear and goat cheese salad that was so good. This is a bar I definitely want to go back to again and again and again.

(Exterior Shot of Kings Head Tavern)

For K Bar we ventured to Union Square (222 East 14th Street) for the very fun Kings Head Tavern. They reserved the whole back area for us and a beruit table (what could be better than that!) They also had a jukebox so of course I put in 5 bucks and Shion, Emily & I got to pick out a ton of good music to play. Kings Head Tavern gave us great drinks specials (basically extending their happy hour). So it was an affordable and fun night.

Where will L Bar take us...I know...but I'm not'll just have to wait and see!

Post in Comments:
Have you been to any of the above mentioned bars? If so, what's your favorite one?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Entertainment Thursday: Maria Full of Grace

Maria Full of Grace

Maria Full of Grace has been on my netflix queue for sometime. Recently it was playing on the IFC channel and I dvr'd it. The other day I was looking for a relatively short movie to watch and seeing as it was only 1 hour and 45 minutes I decided to dive in.

I don't remember how this got on my netflix queue, whether it was recommended by netflix, or by a friend, but I do love foreign films so I was kind of excited. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.

The premise of Maria Full of Grace is a 16 year old girl from a small town in Columbia is pregnant and becomes a drug mule in order to make some much needed money for her family.

The movie was incredibly disturbing. I do not know how true to life the story is but if that's really what these women have to go through as drug mules it's just awful. I understand that they are desparate to make money but to take such a risk... While disturbing it was also bizarrely fascinating to watch. The movie was very well done; it didn't drag out, it was efficient with it's time in telling a compelling story, the acting was good, and the story itself was powerful.

Overall, I am glad I finally saw this movie and would definitely recommend it as long as you don't mind a heavy topic!

4 stars

Post in Comments:

Have you seen Maria Full of Grace? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Foodie Wednesday: The Turkish Kitchen

Not long after I moved to NYC my aunt and uncle were in town and big group (about 10 or so) of us were planning on going out to dinner. Now, the McDonagh's (that is my maiden name) are notoriously picky eaters. So when my cousin Terence, on the pickier side of eaters, recommended the Turkish Kitchen for a McDonagh outing I was pretty surprised, shocked and concerned. I'd never eaten Turkish Food, was I going to like it, etc, etc. Terence assured me that if he could find something to eat there, I could too, which is true. So I went in with a semi-open mind.

Since that dinner I have been back to the Turkish Kitchen at least 3-4 times! It is a great restaurant, delicious food, and great for group dinners! Although the bill can definitely add up if you're drinking bottles of wine and ordering a lot of appetizers for the table.

Our table always always gets this lamb appetizer. It's ground lamb on almost a pita. It's delish but of course it's not on their online menu (I hope they still have it!) After going numerous times and ordering all different kinds of meat, I have come to the conclusion that their best dishes are their chicken dishes!!! Specifically the Chargrilled cubes of chicken breast and fresh mushrooms on a skewer served with rice. Instead of rice though I asked them to substitute in their pan fried potatoes (so good, although probably not good for you!)

This is definitely a restaurant that I would go back to and I would recommend it to anyone in NYC!

Turkish Kitchen
386 Third Avenue
(between 27th and 28th Street on the west side of the street)

Post in Comments:
Have you ever eaten at the Turkish Kitchen? What's your favorite dish?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Travels: NYC High Line Walkway

The High Line was a train track that was lifted 30 feet above ground. It ran along the West Side. No trains have run on the track since 1980. This non-profit group called Friends of the High Line, formed in 1999 when this historic landmark was threatened by demolition. They are working with the City of New York to turn this elevated landmark into a NYC Public Park.
Jon and I had heard a lot of buzz about the High Line. (See my friend Shion's review. Our computer is broken currently so I can't load up my pictures from Sunday. Shion's review has great pictures! ) Right now the section from Gansevoort to 20th Street is open to the public. They are currently working on the next section which I believe will run from 20th Street to 30th Street. We were looking for something to do on Sunday morning after church that wouldn't take the whole day, but that would allow us to spend some time outdoors. Exploring the new High Line was a natural fit.
We entered at the 20th Street entrance and climbed the stairs to the high line walkway. The great thing is that they do have an elevator so people with strollers or who are in a wheelchair can also get up to the walkway to explore. We walked the path all the way down to Gansvoort and back to 16th Street (which only took us about 15-20 minutes). We enjoyed the views of the water, the Statue of Liberty and just NYC in general. I loved how they incorporated the old tracks into the design. I think the plantings mixed in with the train tracks looks so cool.

The whole walkway follows a very sleek, clean and simple design. It has very smooth lines and I thought that they took the space and made it a very nice, modern, community, public park! They also have plenty of options of seating for people to take advantage of. Getting their early on a Saturday or Sunday and grabbing one of the wooden lounge chairs to read for a bit I think would be a great way to start a weekend day. Hopefully we'll make it back soon to do just that!

Afterwards we wandered through Chelsea Market, which I had never visited before. I plan to go back and have breakfast there with Jon one weekend and perhaps take the Chelsea Market Tour (which we discovered existed when we were there) and I'll do a full and proper blog post on it!
Post in Comments:

Have you visited the High Line yet? Do you feel it is a good addition of Park Space in NYC?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Bookworms: Voyager

Voyager, Diana Gabaldon
1059 pages, @1994

I recently noticed on Goodreads, one of my favorite websites (thanks Joe for introducing me to it!) that I had rated 299 books. Now I know for a fact that I've read more than 299 books, but since 2007 when I joined Goodreads I have rated (some that I had previously read and every book I've read since) 299 books. In realizing that whatever I read next would be my 300th book rated on Goodreads I decided it had to be good and fun (oh and because I try to read a couple of Amy's book recommendations each book journal period I was looking for a book she had read and recommended as well!)

I've recently reviewed the first two books in Gabaldon's famous series: Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. Voyager is the 3rd book in this series of 8 books. I do not normally read books in a series so fast, because I like the series to linger and to always have something to look forward to, but since Amy had loaned me the book, and I figured I could return it to her in September when she came to visit, I decided to give the 3rd book a go!

Ahhh....Jamie Frasier and Claire Randall Fraser! In this installment, Claire Randall is in Scotland in 1978 and is searching for Jamie Fraser among the history books to see if the father of her daughter (Brianna) survived the Battle of Culloden. As she gets closer to discovering the outcome of the Battle of Culloden, she begins the big decision of will she return to Scotland circa 1700's and return to Jamie or will she stay in the present with their daughter Brianna. Well, there wouldn't be 8 books in the series if she decided to stay in the present day:) So back to the 1700's she goes and after 4 months of being reunited many adventures ensue: Jamie's smuggling operations are thwarted and he (per usual) is a hunted man, his nephew is kidnapped by pirates, there is a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies, a witch, a serial killer, a hurricane, and all the while Jamie & Claire are discovering the secrets of their twenty years apart.

Now as I've said before this is a romance novel before anything else (historical fiction, mystery, etc), but as far as romance novels go it has it all. I will also add that this installment was not nearly as smutty as say the 1st installment of the series! All in all the 1059 pages flew by - Gabaldon has really succeeded in creating characters you want to root for in Jamie & Claire. I thoroughly look forward to seeing where their adventures take them next but I think I'm going to take a break from the series as their adventures were seeming slightly riduculous for me by the end of the book.

All in all if you are into the Romance Genre this is definitely a series that you should pick up and the 3rd book was very good.

4 stars

Post in Comments:

Do you read romance novels? If so, who's your favorite author?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entertainment Thursday: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I've been waiting for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to come out since I left the theater almost two years ago exactly at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was pretty bummed when it was delayed from November to July.

Tonight I went with two of my girlfriends and my sister-in-law to see HP6. I have to say that my expectations going into the movie were pretty low based on some reviews I read beforehand.

In HP6, Harry is still trying to defeat Voldermort. Although there isn't exactly a face to face throwdown as there has been in many of the other movies. The dark magic is trying to overpower the light magic (good vs. evil; love vs. hate).

As the kids return to Hogwarts, security has been heavily increased. Draco Malfoy has a secret mission, that could endanger people's lives. Severus Snape has made an unbreakable vow. Dumbledore is taking secret trips off the school premises. And left and right teenagers are falling in love!

This movie was visually very appealing. The director really continued to bring the Hogwarts we know and love to life. As always it was good to see the cast of characters again. The movie started off right where HP5 had left off (I'm glad I re-watched it on Monday for a refresher!) The movie moved slower than the other ones in my opinion, there just wasn't as much action. I can't remember if that's really how it felt when I was reading the book as well, or not. I did enjoy all of the "relationship awkwardness" that they students are going through. They are 15/16 after all. It definitely added a lot to the movie in the way of comic relief (in my opinion).

Standout performances: Shion & I both felt that Rupert Grint (Ron) was awesome! He was so funny! Luna Lovegood - gosh, I love her. She's just so refreshingly different from everyone else, and Evanna Lynch plays her perfectly. Professor Slughorn - ah, who doesn't love Jim Broadbent. Every since he was Bridget Jone's dad, I've had a soft spot for him:) And while he didn't have a big part - how creepy was Fenrir Greyback - he scared the crap out of me. I'm not looking forward to his larger role in HP7! eek!

While I can't say this is going to go down as one of my favorite Harry Potter movies ever, I thought that the director did a good job of setting up the 7th movie (Parts 1 & 2). I am slightly concerned about HP7 Part 1 because while I loved the 7th book I do remember the first half seeming really long and slow and I'm wondering where they are going to make the break and how they are going to keep it moving at a good pace to lead up to Part 2.

I think this is a movie that any Harry Potter fan would appreciate! I'm glad I saw it and now I think I'm going to have to go and re-read the 7th book:)

Post in Comments:

What's been your favorite HP movie so far? Mine's a toss up between Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Foodie Wednesday: Frittata with Potato and Prosciutto

(The Potatoes, Onions & Garlic there anything that smells better than onion and garlic?)

(The egg, whipping cream, basil & prosciutto mixed together)

(Everything cooking together in the pan)

(The Finished Product!)

(Side View of my Piece)

So for my latest Giada creation I chose the Frittata with Potato and Prosciutto. After I made Giada's other frittata I spoke to my mom and she told me this one is even better. She was SO right! This fritata had a whole lot more flavor, not that the other one wasn't good, because it was, but this one was AMAZING! And amazingly easy to make:) The leftovers re-heat well too!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I didn't peel my potato).
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil

In a 9/12-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium flame. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the potato, garlic, salt and pepper, and saute over medium-low heat unil the potato is tender and golden, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and basil to blend. Stir the egg mixture into the potato mixture in the skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the egg mixture is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under teh broiler and broil until the top is set and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from the skillet and slide it onto a plate. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve.

Post in Comments:
What are you favorite frittata ingredients?

Tuesday Travels: 2009 Vacation Plan Unveiled!

(View of Munich, Germany)

Jon and I were going back and forth on what to do this year for vacation. If you talked to me before mid-June I had probably told you we were going to go to Burlington, Vermont for 4-5 days. However, in mid-June I brought of the topic of vacation again and we just decided you know, let's take a big trip, why not, what's stopping us?

So Wednesday, August 19th we leave for 10 days in Germany & Austria. We will be spending our first two days once we arrive in Munich, Germany. I was in Munich in December of 1999 on my crazy 8 country in 4 week trek during my junior year abroad. Erin, Sarah and I spent 2 days there and had SO MUCH FUN! I can't wait to go back especially during the summer so I can experience Munich in the nice weather (although the Christmas Market in the Marienplatz is the best I've ever seen!)

While in Munich we will of course enjoy the important museums, cathedrals, palaces, plazas, etc. We'll also be taking a 1/2 day trip 20 minutes outside of Munich to Dachau. And of course we will thoroughly enjoy the beer gardens!
(View of Salzburg, Austria)

On Saturday we will take the 90 minute train ride to Salzburg, Austria. I've been to Vienna (during that same crazy 8 countries in 4 weeks trip in December of 1999 - we actually spent Christmas in Vienna) but I've never been to Salzburg. Everyone that I've mentioned this trip to that has been to Salzburg says it is amazing. I can't wait to see for myself.

While in Salzburg we will enjoy the Sound of Music Tour, the famous Salzburg Music Festival, Mozart's birthplace (and cathedrals, palaces, etc). During our 4 days in Salzburg we will be taking two day trips.

(A View of Lake Konigsee)

The boat ride on Lake Konigsee is a very highly rated tourist attraction in this region. It's a 1 hour and 15 minute train ride from Salzburg and you can get off at two different spots to hike for awhile before being picked up by the next boat that comes by. We're hoping to do this in the morning and then spend the rest of the day in Berchtesgaden (home of Hitler's Eagle's Nest - which oddly enough is now a restaurant). This day is probably our most aggressive travel day!

(Views of the St. Gilgen Lake)

The other day trip that we will be taking is to St. Gilgen. A spot I read about on This is in the lake region of Austria just 30 minutes outside of Salzburg. We're going to hike from St. Gilgen half way around the lake to the town of St. Wolfgang, have lunch and take the boat back across the lake. We're really trying to incorporate a lot of outdoor activity on this trip something we've never done on an international vacation before.

(View of Neuschwanstein Castle)

Then we will be spending 3 days in the town of Fussen, Germany at the end of the romantic road (or I guess beginnging depending on where you start from!) This region is known for it's quaint medieval towns and great outdoor activities (hiking, biking, boating, etc). It's also famous for Mad King Ludwig's castles (specifically Neuschwanstein Castle pictured above.) Here we will visit the castles, hike hopefully a part of every day, perhaps bike or kayak if we can find a good place for rentals).

Then it's back to Munich for our last day of the trip! So that's the tentative plan as of right now. I'm busy working on the full fledged itinerary so that I can create my packing list and make sure there is nothing we need that we do not already have prior to this trip. We leave 4 weeks from tomorrow. It's pretty unlike Jon and I to so spontaneously decide to take a big trip at the last minute (I know I know this is not really that spontaneous, but planning a big trip like this and buying plane tickets just two months before we leave is spontaneous for us!)

We're both really looking forward to the trip and while I may not have access to blog every day between August 19th and August 30th I will certainly put a trip recap up when I return with lots of pictures!

Post in Comments:

What are your vacation plans this summer?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Bookworms: A Count in the House

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
618 pages, c. 1844

Back in 2002 I saw the movie version of this book and Love, Love, Loved it! A couple of years later on an HC Ladies trip my friend Kirsten said she had just read the book and loved it. Not to mention it came highly recommended by my husband Jon. I finally decided it was time for me to open The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Count of Monte Cristo is the story of Edmond Dantes, a sailor who lives in Marsielle, France. He is in love with Mercedes and plans to marry her. His father whom he loves dearly is old and fragile. Upon arriving home from his most recent excusrion, he is determined to marry Mercedes. However, in his absence another has vied for her attentions. The night before their betrothal, Edmond Dantes is arrested for treasonous activities against the crown, and for being a Bonapartist. He is sentenced to Chateau D'If.

His time spent in the Chateau D'If is filled with thoughts of revenge on those who betrayed him. Once he escapes from the Chateau D'If that is all that consumes his mind. He slowly lays his traps to ruin the lives of those who betrayed him.

For a book that was written in the mid 1800's this read really easily. I was captivated by his character description & portrayals. The book is slow and steady but then as it all comes together really takes off. I've heard that the unabridged version is amazing and I'm slightly sad that I chose to read an abridged version. I can always re-visit the unabridged version at a later date.

If you like classic literature, and tales of deceit, love, betrayal and friendship you'll certainly enjoy The Count of Monte Cristo. And when you're done reading the book, check out the movie, it does not disappoint!

Post in Comments:
Have you read The Count of Monte Cristo? Did you enjoy it?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Entertainment Thursday: West Side Story

For my 30th birthday Jon got us tickets to see West Side Story. I had been saying for years "When are they going to bring West Side Story back to Broadway??" Low and behold the year of my 30th birthday was the answer.

I was so excited to go! I love the story, the music, everything about West Side Story. We had dinner beforehand and then walked over to the Theater which is at Broadway and 47th Street.

Our seats were in the last row of the orchestra. The last three rows of the orchestra were a raised section though so we had a clear view of the stage.

The play did not disappoint! The music and the dancing (espcially the dancing) was amazing! The choreography, especially during the fight scenes, was awesome. My favorite song, "America" sung by Anita and friends was easily the best song of the night. It had power, dancing, color, humor, it was spot on. And Karen Olivo, who played Anita stole the show I thought with her spunky character. She was amazing.

Maria, played by Josefina Scaglione, was also very good. Her soprano voice (she was trained as an opera singer) was beautiful. She nailed every song!

I did have two complaints though about the show. First, I though Tony, played by Matt Cavenaugh, was weak. He had a great singing voice and when he and Maria were singing their duets I loved him. However, when he spoke his voice was so "over-acted" that it really took away from his character. He just sounded ridiculous.

Second, the play was partly in Spanish. I didn't mind that so much because I was able to understand most of it, but I thought that was an interesting decision by the director, given that the average American probably does not have a solid grip on the Spanish language. The other weird part about it was that in my opinion, you either needed to commit to all The Sharks (girls & guys) speaking Spanish every time they spoke or they shouldn't speak in Spanish at all. Instead, it was very sporadic. Sometimes the characters would speak in Spanish, sometimes they wouldn't. Sometimes every other sentence was in Spanish. There were two whole songs in Spanish - "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That". It was a bummer not to be able to hear and enjoy the version that we know and love. In addition, Anita & Maria sing "A Boy Like That" in Spanish and as they finish they lead into another song "I Have a Love" that they proceeded to sing in English. The inconsistency just bothered me.

Overall, though I LOVED IT! I had so much fun watching the story unfold and I just enjoyed hearing all of the songs sung live right in front of my eyes. I would definitely recommend it to people, as long as, part of the play being in Spanish doesn't bother you. If you know the story, you'll get the gist of what's going on...

Post In Comments:

Have you seen West Side Story yet on Broadway? If so, what was your favorite song?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Foodie Wednesday: Musroom Risotto with Peas

(The Risotto in the pan cooking!)

Even though I may not have had a Foodie Wednesday post in awhile (last week due to internet technical difficulties at my house and prior to that just being busy with work) does not mean that I have not been cooking up a storm!

In my quest to cook all of the recipes in Giada DeLaurentis' "Everday Italian" cookbook I present to you Mushroom Risotto with Peas.


8 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2-ounce dried procini mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup grated parmesean
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional


Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the broth warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms and garlic. Using slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan.

Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stire in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by the cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth.

Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

(The finished product!)

I will say that this did take a long time to cook - I was stirring for what seemed like forever - but it was well worth it. I was nervous having never previously made a risotto and it doesn't start to really look like risotto till towards the end, so I was unimpressed with my big brown glob of mush in the pan while I was cooking!

However, the final product was outrageously delicious!!! Jon and I could not stop saying how good it was. It made about 6 servings and had 4 as leftovers. It was a fight as to who got them! I will definitely make this recipe again and I look forward to trying additional risotto recipes. Now that I've done it once it doesn't seem so scary anymore.

As a side note, when purchasing the 1/2 ounce of Porcini mushrooms you really only need 1 maybe 2 mushrooms. They are $49.99 a pound (at Whole Foods) so be careful how many you throw into the bag!!!

Post in Comments:

Have you ever made a risotto?

What are your favorite risotto flavors?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Travels: NYC Museum Rankings

Well, we've finally done it. We visited every museum that was on our list to visit in NYC. That does not mean that we've visited every museum in NYC just the ones that we felt interested us or were just too famous to miss. I've reviewed many of them (although not all) but thought it would be interesting to compile a ranking of the 12 museums we visited. I've solicited Jon for his input as well.

Jon's NYC Museum Rankings

1 - The Frick
2 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
3 - Ellis Island
4 - Museum of Natural History
5 - The New York Historical Society
6 - The Whitney
7 - The Tenement Museum
8 - The Museum of Modern Art
9 - The Folk Art Museum
10 - The Guggenheim
11 - The Skyscraper Museum
12 - The Museum of the City of New York

Beth's NYC Museum Rankings

1 - The Frick
2 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
3 - Ellis Island
4 - The Tenement Museum
5 - The Whitney
6 - Museum of Natural History
7 - The Museum of Modern Art
8 - The New York Historical Society
9 - The Folk Art Museum
10 - The Museum of the City of New York
11 - The Guggenheim
12 - The Skyscraper Museum

The only museum on the list that I feel I wouldn't recommend to someone is The Skyscraper Museum. It just wasn't impressive at all and although only $5 to get, you'd do better going across the street and having a glass of wine while looking at the Statue of Liberty from Wagner Park!

All the others I think are definitely worth the visit and would be a good use of 2 hours on a rainy or winter or cold day. I find it interesting that our Top 3 were spot on...but then we have differing opinions.

Now we are concentrating on re-visiting some of the big ones (The MET, Museum of Natural History, MOMA, etc). I'll review them as we go.

Post in Comments:

How would you rank the museum in NYC that you've visited?

What is your favorite NYC Museum?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Bookworms: Netherland

Netherland, Joseph O'Neill

Netherland was our July book group book picked by Jen. She said she chose this book because it was recommended and given to her by one of her clients. She said another reason she picked this book was because when she was reading the reviews about half said they loved the book and about half said they didn't love the book and she thought that would provide for good discussion. And a good discussion, we did have!

Netherland is primarily the story of Hans Van Der Broeck. He is originally from Holland, but moved to London for a job in his 20's and ended up marrying a Brit named Rachel. In 1997 or 1999 they decide to move to NYC just for the experience. After 9/11 Rachel becomes fearful, distant and unemotional and eventually says she's leaving, she's going back to London and she doesn't want Hans to go with her and their son.

Hans is left in NYC, living in the iconic Chelsea Hotel with other"misfits", and looking for a place to fit in. He rediscovers his love of cricket and through cricket he meets Chuck. Chuck is a dreamer, always only looking at the big picture, always living "larger than life". Hans and Chuck strike up a bizarre friendship during the rest of his stay in NYC.

This book is a story about a man, a marriage and a friend all tied into one. It deals with the immigrant experience in New York City, love, friendship, sports, family and loyalty.

So where do I stand on the book - I'm kind of teetering on the fence. My biggest problem with the book was that I didn't feel O'Neill painted any of the characters as sympathetic so really I just didn't care what happened to them, which doesn't keep you reaching for a book day after day. And Hans, oh Hans, he was so blah, he had no fight in him, no passion, no anything he was just a lump on a log used as a vehicle to tell the story. It was a shame because he was the narrator and you wanted to root for him but at the same time you just didn't really care!

One of the things I did really like about it was that New York City itself (in all of it's glory and weirdness) was a central character in the book. We all agreed that since we live in NYC that made us like the book a little more, because we could relate to some of the things that were said, or we new some of the places or people mentioned in the book. We were curious during our discussion as to what a non-New Yorker's opinion of this book would be.

All in all it was OK, but as we've discovered in book group, sometimes it's the books that are just OK that provide the best fodder for discussion. In the case of the Netherland that proved true.

As an aside, many have compared Netherland to the greatness that is The Great Gatsby. To this I strongly disagree! I mean his prose is just not as beautiful and his characters are not crafted as well. Fitzgerald has a gift (IMHO) for creating characters that you love so dearly you almost wish you have their life. Then he shows the reader that in all their glamour, they're real people, with real faults, but you love them so much that you still root for them in the end. O'Neill did not in my opinion achieve this.

However, as one of my fellow book group members pointed out, maybe when Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, his contemporaries didn't feel that way about his writing. Perhaps in 50 years if I was to revisit this book I too might feel different.

Post In Comments:

What books have provided your book group with the best disccusion??

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday Travels: The New York Historical Society

I have openly admitted numerous times on this blog that Jon & I are historical junkies. We have thoroughly been enjoying learning more about the history of the city that we live in and decided to cap that off with a visit to the New York Historical Society. This was our last museum on our museum list for NYC. Now we get to go back and visit some of our favorites.

The New York Historical Society is located on Central Park West at 77th Street. We weren't quite sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised. We started on the top floor at The Henry Luce III Center for The Study of American Culture. Almost the entire floor is dedicated to artifacts from New York's history. They house the largest collection of Tiffany lamps for example. You'll see busts, sculptures, toys, a real horse drawn carriage and furniture among many other things. We spent a good part of our visit wandering this floor and pointing out things from NYC's past.

There were some paintings on the 3rd Floor, but most are on the 2nd Floor. One whole side was portraits of children and adults alike, some who were even family members, all real New Yorkers. The other part of the floor was dedicated to paintings that were Hudson River School landscapes. They were large and beautiful almost entirely landscapes without people in them.

The first floor we first took in the visiting exhibition of "Landmarks of New York". This is a collection of over 80 photographs of New York's more important landmarks. They are separated out by the year in which they were built, so as you walk through the room you essentially watch New York evolve. It was hands down our favorite exhibit.

The second visiting exhibition we saw was Harlem: Photographs of Camilo Jose Vergara 1970-2009. This was a collection of photographs that would show one storefront in Harlem from the 70's, then that storefront again in the 90's and then again in present day. Not just storefronts but schools, apartment buildings, streets, etc. There were also just great photographs of Harlem in general in this exhibit. I'd have to say the coolest thing about this exhibit though was seeing the changes of time right in front of your eyes when you see how something was at one time and then you see it again in the present. Those of us that haven't lived here our entire lives don't have those images in our heads. I found it very intersting.

The last visiting exhibit that we visited which was on the second floor was Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words. This was a very small exhibit that had writing samples and letters directly from Abraham Lincoln. It was basically set up as a U shape and took you through highlights of his career. It was small but incredibly powerful (especially to one so interested in the President's). I mean to see an actual letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote, his handwriting and all...pretty cool.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The New York Historical Society. It was the perfect size, we were able to meander our way through in 2 hours or so. I can't say that it's a museum that would have me coming back again and again, unless they had a great visiting exhibit I wanted to see, but I was certainly glad that we took the time out of our day to have the experience. New York is full of history and it's always interesting to learn more about the place where we live!

Post in Comments:

Have you ever been to the New York Historical Society?

What is your favorite time in NYC history?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Bookworms: Blog Reading

Well, it's Monday and you are expecting me to blog about a book that I recently read, and while I have recently read a book, I'm not ready to blog about it! That is because it is our most recent book group book and we do not meet until this Wednesday, July 8th and I want to wait to see what our discussion adds to my experience of the books.

So with no book to discuss I thought I would talk about another "reading related" topics. Reading is more than reading books and one thing that a lot of people are reading now are blogs!!! So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite blogs with the hopes that you might share with me your favorite blogs.

Our Grand Tour of Europe - I found this blog when I was working in a dead-end job with literally nothing to do day in and day out (don't worry I've since left said job). I love to travel and I somehow stumbled upon this website It is a great resource of travel related information - where to stay, where to eat, what tours to take, where to hike, what cities to visit, etc. They have a community forum where you can search for related information or post your own question and they have numerous members who are bloggers.

The "Our Grand Tour of Europe" Blog is the blog of a woman Kathy Woods. Her, her husband and their daughter took off for 14 months in Europe. They would spend a week in each location and then they spent 6 months of the time in Provence so that their daughter could go to school. I loved reading this blog, and still go back sometimes to re-read parts of it, because who wouldn't want to pack up their life and head out on a European Adventure such as this. The blog is chock-full of usefull information on numerous European regions! If you love to travel, or wish you traveled more than you do, this is a blog you would certainly enjoy. They took this trip 5 years ago and have since turned their passion for travel into a job -

Mile Markers - I feel like I may have already blogged about this, but I love this blog! Kristin Armstrong (ex-wife of Lance Armstrong) blogs weekly about running related & family related themes. As much as I am a runner and can appreciate the running anecdotes she uses, I read this more for her writing style. I love the way she writes and find that her blog entries always center me and put things in perspective a little bit. It's nice to get those weekly reminders of what's really important in life! Sometimes in the fast paced NYC it's easy to get caught up in the little things and forget the big picture.

My Malleable Reality - This blog is written by my friend Shion (who has been mentioned many times on this blog). She writes about a variety of topics, fun things she's done in NYC, movie reviews, recipes, product reviews, or just her thought of the day. I always love reading friend's blogs because it gives you a new perspective on their thoughts (and really she has the best recipes!!! She's a great cook!)

Rockin' to the Gentle Beat - This blog is also written by a friend of mine, Ashley. I knew Ashley when I lived up in Boston, we were in Book Group together. Ashley also writes about a variety of topics: entertainment reviews (movies, tv shows & music reviews primarily), her many travels, her upcoming move, and much much more! I love Ashley's entertainment reviews and reading her blog is a fun way to still feel connected to someone that you no longer live near.

KERF - I found this blog through another blog and totally love it. It's a food blog primarily but the way Kath writes you end up feeling like you know her as well. I am always looking for new recipes and while I'm not quite as adventurous as Kath I do like reading her blog! It has tons of tips on how to eat healthy & make time for exercise. I recently tried her Kale Chips recipe, which I will blog about soon!

Post in Comments:

What is your favorite(s) blog that you read?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Entertainment Thursdays: Les Miserable

Les Miserable is my favorite musical of all time. I know it's not the most uplifting show, but god, is it amazing! I have seen it now seven times: 2x in NYC, 2x in London, 1x in Boston, 1x in Wichita, Kansas and 1x in Lancaster, PA.

My mom had asked me to do a little research before our trip to Lancaster and come up with a couple of things I wanted to do. Because my buddy Okie Amy, works in a Regional Theater, it has made me more aware of Regional Theaters in general. So when I saw there was a theater in Lancaster I decided to check and see what was playing. Imagine my delight when I clicked on the link and it said Les Miserable would be playing while we would be in Lancaster.

I immediately sent an email to my mom, who promptly called me, and then called and got us tickets!!! (Thanks Mom!) I could tell that she wasn't nearly as excited as I was.

After dinner at Checker's we drove down towards the Fulton Theater and parked in a lot across the street. We got there about 45 minutes before the show started to pick up our will call tickets and enjoyed some wine & snacks while we waited (this experience reminded me how expensive it is to live in NYC!)

The show was great! While probably not the best performance I've ever seen it certainly didn't disappoint. The man who played Jean Valjean was great, he voice was amazing, and he nailed my song ("Bring Him Home"). My one complaint was that he just didn't look old enough to be a believable Jean Valjean...but I got over that. The woman who played Cosette was also remarkable. Since I've seen the show so many times now it's interesting to me that each time I see it a different character stands out. The guy who played Enjolras was outstanding, he really stole the show from the Marius character in my opinion. I found myself saying, "I don't remember this part being so prominent in the past." And the best part is that the guy who played Enjolras is touring with "The Little House on the Prarie" tour that is coming to the Paper Mill Playhouse in the Fall! I might have to go see it...

The other thing I've noticed after seeing this show so many times is that when I was younger I used to think that the 1st Act of the play was the better part of the show and that the 2nd Act wasn't that great. The older I get and the more I go to see it I realize that the 2nd Act is really the krutch of the play. It's interesting how your perspective can change the more you see a show. I mentioned this to my mom and she agreed that she always had thought that the 1st Act was better but that after seeing the show in Lancaster, she realized the 2nd Act was better.

I think my mom was pleseantly surprised by the show. She stayed awake for the whole thing, which is a fete at an evening show! Overall we both enjoyed our night out at the theater in Lancaster. Where, oh where, will I see Les Miserable next?

Post in Comment:

What is your favorite Act in Les Miserable?

What is your favorite song in Les Miserable?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Foodie Wednesday: Lacaster Eats

When my mom and I arrived in Lancaster on Friday it was lunch time and we were starved. We checked into our hotel (the Marriott Courtyard) and asked the woman at the front desk for a lunch recommendation. She recommended Isaac's Restaurant & Deli, she said it was a chain that was only in that region of Pennsylvania.

There happened to be one right around the corner where we were staying so we headed over there. Isaac's is a typical low-cost restaurant, the decor is a little cheesy, but the food is delish! We got our menu's (which were extensive) and immediately decided on Pretzel Bread Sandwiches. We couldn't decide what we wanted so we decided to get two sandwiches and go splitsies. I ordered the Salty Eagle (grilled ham, swiss cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce) and my mom ordered the Rose of Sharon (sliced portabella mushroom, fresh tomatoes, onion, spinach with melted provlone cheese). Both sandwiches were delicious but we both agreed that the Rose of Sharon was the better sandwich. What made this sandwiches extra special was the pretzel bread - it looks like a roll, but tastses like a soft pretzel - it was so good that we ended up purchasing pretzel bread to bring home with us!

Isaac's was so enjoyable that we returned on Saturday for lunch and visited the Staussburg location. I once again ordered a Pretzel Bread Sandwich, the Whooping Crane (sliced turkey, onions, fresh spinach, and swiss cheese, grilled). I think the Whooping Crane was my favorite of the three different pretzel bread sandwiches that we tried.

If I was back in the area I would definitely return to Isaac's! 4 stars

Friday night we headed to Gibraltar's restaurant for dinner. Gibraltar's is on the outskirts of downtown Lancaster and actually is practically on the campus of Franklin & Marshall. The restaurant was very fancy, a little fancier than we had anticipated. The restaurant was big and open and our waitress was very knowledgeable!

I ordered a ceasar salad to start and followed it up with the Salmon dish. The ceasar salad was delicious with homemade sourdough croutons but the Salmon was just OK. It was a little dry and it was a huge piece of salmon probably 3 times the actual portion size that you should eat. I ate about a third of it and was full!

Overall, my mom and I agreed that while this restaurant was very nice, the food didn't line up with the expecations. The restaurant was very expensive and fancy and we expected better food then was delivered. Not that our meal was bad perse, it was just OK.

If we were back in Lancaster, I can't say I would return to this restaurant. 2 1/2 stars

On Saturday we headed into Downtown Lancaster for the evening. We began the night at Checkers Bistro, also recommended by our hotel. Checkers doesn't seem like much from the outside, and our experience didn't start out great, as the hostess was incredibly rude, but we got over it.

Our waiter was extremely friendly and knowledgeable! I started with the half portion of the ceasar salad and then ordered the scallop dish for dinner. The ceasar salad probably wasn't as good as at Gibraltar but it was still a good salad. The scallops however were to die for - they were so good!!! We were both pleasantly surprised because the entrees at this restaurant were half the price of the entrees at Gibraltar's.

We both agreed that Checker's Bistro was a great restaurant. Very affordable, the food was delicious, and the atmostpher inside was very nice. The restaurant is bigger than you would think when you first walk in.

If I was ever back in Lancaster, I would definitely return to Checker's for a meal (and I'd probably get those scallops again!) 4 stars

Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market

On Saturday we went to the Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market on Old Philadelphia Pike. My mom had originally wanted to go on Sunday to bring home some fresh produce but we both realized it would probably be closed on Sunday. She wanted to visit it regardless so we headed over for a visit.

This farmer's market reminded me a lot of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, just much smaller (probably only 1/6 of the size). There were places were you could eat a meal, and places where you could by produce, jams, meats, desserts, etc. I was on a quest to find a delicious whoopie pie (and I succeeded!) My mom decided to make a couple of purchases at one of the jam sections. She bought a pear butter for herself, a sweet potato butter for her mom, and then a selection of james for each kid (I helped pick them out!) They had these mini sample jams that you could load into a little box, 6 per box. The varities were: Apple Cinnamon, Apple Raspberry, Pineapple, Peach, Pepper Jam, Blackberry, Blueberry, Grape, Strawberry, Red Raspberry and Four Berry. I'm excited to try out my sample jam pack!

All in all it was a pretty cool little farmer's market. I think we both wished we had gotten there earlier in the day when they were really stocked up, but at least we got to have the experience.

Post in Comments:

If you have ever eaten in Lancaster, what is your favorite restaurant?