Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunset over Lake Michigan

New York Adventures have moved northwest to Leland, Michigan for a week-- year #29!

Cold front and then sunset from night #1

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Red Arrows

The Red Arrows, Britain's air force display team, visited NYC for the first time tonight as part of its North American goodwill tour. After a display over Staten Island, the jets buzzed the Statue of Liberty. Spectacular! Definitely has me in the mood for the 4th of July!

Here's the view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Mermaid Parade picts

Not quite sure what this group was doing. The hoola hoopers came out first, then the people on the ground came out and started singing something. I'm guessing it was "Ring Around the Rosie" because I heard "Ashes, ashes, they all fall down" at the end. Silly, silly

A cool fish! I think someone could do this in the Leland parade with a white fish or sturgeon!

Looked like this group was doing a seance around the police car. There costumes were great; can't really see it here, but they are all holding brightly colored feather dusters.

I just liked the height of the person on stilts in comparison to the parachute jump in the background.

Nathan's Hot dogs with a ferris wheel in the background. Very Coney Island! Capt. Carnivore and I want to go back to ride the Cyclone, eat Totonno's pizza and get Capt. Carnivore a Nathan's hotdog:-)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mermaid Parade

I ventured out to Coney Island yesterday to observe (not participate in) the Mermaid Parade. As the parade's website explains,

"Founded in 1983... the Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island's forgotten Mardi Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954, and draws from a host of other sources resulting in a wonderful and wacky event that is unique to Coney Island."

My personal observation is that the event was super crowded but definitely worth the trip. Quite eye opening, the costumes were wonderful and there were lots of boobs (both the body part and the type of person). It reminded me a bit of a warm Mummers Parade.

100% body paint...Oh My!

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Spectators dressed up too

A giant mermaid...with a very nice dad:-)

Jellyfish...definitely the most artistic costumes I saw while I was there

no comment required

Mummer's string band?? Sure looked like it!

Flamboyant Chiquita Banana People

There were even some protesters...this group opposed development in Coney Island

More pictures tomorrow...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Palm reading

I was at a party tonight with Pimms, tea sandwiches and a palm reader. All of it was great, but the palm reader was the most interesting.

Apparently I have a good life line and a long marriage line. The marriage line means I will get married and it will last. My palm also says I am an old soul, communicative, energetic, decisive and creative (notice that my palm doesn't say I transition well!) I will also have "a couple" kids. After spouting off all these things about me, the reader asked me what I did. When I told her she said she wasn't surprised and that I should stick with it.

I was feeling pretty good about the state of things when I finished my reading but someone else told me that she was also told she was an old soul with a good life line. Bummer! But then the lady immediately behind me was told that she was going to die without having a husband so I was once again felt that maybe good things are ahead for this old soul:-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Food Film Festival

Tonight, under the Brooklyn Bridge, in a parking lot between Grimaldis and Toro sat 50 or so people. Some were foodies, some loved independent film and others just loved pizza. Regardless of the exact reason, they were all there to watch 3 short films that are being screened as part of the 2nd Annual NYC Food Film Festival.

You knew it was a high profile Brooklyn event when Mayor Marty showed up. What a politician and what a great Brooklyn accent! In one 2 minute speech, he managed to welcome the film festival, plug the upcoming Rachel Ray burger competition in DUMBO and throw in an IKEA mention (which opens tomorrow in Red Hook.)

The first film, Pure and Simple, showed pizza making on the Lower East Side at Una Pizza Napoletana. The second film was still a work in progress but showed the pizza making perfection at Totonnos, Grimaldis and Di Fara. This was my favorite film of the night because it featured Dom, my pizza crush, wearing his beanie:-) The third film, In Pignata: Calabrian Fireside Cooking, followed a old woman in Italy as she cooked beans over a wood fire, foraged for greens and hand rolled pasta.

The added bonus of the night was that Grimaldis sent out pizza for the entire audience. It was a good Grimaldis night (and it's possible that I also threw a Fascati slice into the mix this evening:-))

For those with a spot in their heart (or stomach) for Germany, check out the Currywurst film that was screened last night!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Conservatory Garden

Here are some shots of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park at 5th Ave at 105th Street. Quite lovely!!

This garden is supposed to be Italian style. The south garden is English and the north garden is French.

macro lens works

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tazza in the North Heights

Yes, it's true, Tazza is opening a cafe/coffee house in the North Heights. For anyone who loves the vibe of Tazza but doesn't like the walk to the South Height, this will be fantastic.

I just poked my head into the store and talked with one of the workers. First of all, it looks great and the coffee machines are already installed. Of equal importance, the guy told me that it will be open in a couple of weeks. Tazza paninis (my fav is brie and apricot) by the 4th of July...WAHOO!

Brooklyn Heights Blog is also talking about this new development!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray

As I mentioned last week, I unexpectedly tried Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray (celery flavored soda) in a mixed drink and was pleasantly surprised. I finally found cans of it over the weekend (at Fairway) and am still surprised at how much I like it, even straight out of the can.

It smells distinctly like celery. At first taste, it is sweet and fizzy, though not as fizzy as Vernors. It then becomes a bit spicy and warm tasting before finishing with another celery flavor, though your pallet feels remarkable cleansed.

Indeed a cleansed pallet seems to be the reason it was created in the first place. It was first produced in 1869 and is thought to be the perfect accompaniment to pastrami or corned beef sandwiches found at many Jewish delis in New York.

In a fun Michigan twist, I've found references to where you can get the "pop" in the Detroit area-- mainly at the Jewish delis in West Bloomfield. There is also a reference to it tasting like flat Vernors. I would say that while it might be closer in flavor to Vernors than any other pop I've tried but it is quite different.

I bet it would be good with Granny's watermelon ice cubes.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Matt and I had a nice little evening planned for ourselves last week-- a slice at Artichoke, a new pizza joint and watching Manhattanhenge, the yearly phenomenon where the sun sets in alignment with the street grid of the city. Clouds made the sunset a bust but the pizza was great. Matt wrote a review!

Matt: "Staten Island?" This is the response any New Yorker who does not live on said island exclaims whenever anyone mentions the name. Frank and Sal Garcia however, have brought a 'slice' of Staten Island to the East Village that is making people take a second look at a borough most notable for (the now closed) Fresh Kills landfill. (I suggest they name their signature pie, with artichokes and spinach, the 'landfill' pie.)

Round and Sicilian are your other two choices at this tiny storefront that has virtually no area to eat. It is so small that a line forms out the door after the fifth person waiting. Fortunately, one can get slices for $2.50. And this was one hearty and fantastic slice! Artichoke has been the biggest opening and recieved the most press of any new pizza place I can remember. There has even talk of 'Is this Manhattan's answer to Difara?'.

We arrived around 630pm to find a line of about 10-12 people. The annoying 16 year old girl on her cell phone almost stole the entire slice pie that had just came out of the oven, and we were eyeing it up and down. Luckily, she opted for something else. We got two slices off the freshly made pie, two Boylan's orange sodas and headed for Stuyvesant Park just over on 2nd ave. Ive never been to the park, which is split in two by 2nd ave at 15th street, but it had tons of seating and was rather empty. The picture above was taken here.

[Erin says: had that girl taken that pie it would have been ON! Slice pies are made for slices, not for buying the whole thing at the per slice price!]

[Erin also says: I loved the park! Much less crowded and more picturesque than Union Square.]

First off, this is a big slice. As I picked it up I immediately liked the crust. It was thin, but not too thin, crispy and solid, enough to be held with one hand without folding. You can tell they use San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, and I am more of a sauce person than a cheese person so this was a great slice! The flavors came together in harmony, not too much cheese, not too much sauce, just enough basil, and it had a nice presentation, as you can see.

[Erin says: the basil really adds to the pizza. Di Fara is still better, but Matt is right, this is one rockin' slice!]

Artichoke has replaced Joe's as my top New York slice. For those readers not from New York, many of the top places do not offer slices, while others are known as slice places, such as Joe's or Bravo. So I am happy that such quality is offered in slice form. At this price, for this quality, this is probably the best slice value in the city. A shorter line would be nice, but if I lived nearby I could see myself stopping for a slice on a pretty regular basis.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

certainly a New York Adventure

The plan was to enjoy a guided tour of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. I was hoping for a nice walk and a little history lesson. What I got seemed to be more out of Candid Camera.

As we stood near the Manhattan Bridge, our guide told us that he didn't know much about the history of the HSBC bank behind him.

Okay, I thought, he doesn't know much about the building because his expertise is the bridge.

Or NOT! He was able to tell us that the architects of the New York Public Library also designed the bridge's stone arch and that the arch was inspired by an arch in Paris. But he mistook the sea shell carvings for "a bounty of fruits and vegetables" and a buffalo head for a "rat head." Who has ever heard of someone carving a rat head into public art?

Okay, I thought, the walk across the Manhattan Bridge will be interesting, I've never done that before. Unfortunately, The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 was filming on the southern walkway so we had to share the narrow northern walkway with CRAZY bikers who thought the area was theirs.

The one interesting thing the guide was able to point out was that there are still some construction reminants of Robert Moses' plan to create a Lower Manhattan Expressway (LoMex) over the bridge and connecting to the Holland Tunnel.

We stopped midway across to hear the stories of a guy who has (illegally) climbed both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge. That was cool, but the pile of poop (not from a dog) made things quite stinky!

I realized that I was not the only one questioning the tour when I noticed that the journalist who was reporting on the walk ducked out when we got to the High Street Station in Brooklyn Heights. Smart woman!

I was so close to home! Dare I do the same thing? When the guide wasn't able to tell us much about Cadman Plaza other than who it was named for (a radio preacher), I realized my time on the tour was coming to an end. The icing on the cake was when the guide and another guy could talk most intelligently about an old light post near the WWII memorial in the middle of Cadman Plaza.

Peace Out! I didn't make it across the Brooklyn Bridge with the group.

So I've got some cool pictures, can now say I've walked across the Manhattan Bridge and I have a funny story. A good day in New York:-)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cheese Spaetzle rules!

One of the things I often Google is “cheese spaetzle in New York City.” For the longest time, the attempt was futile (like Googling “German falafel”). But a few months back, Café Katja, an Austrian restaurant on the Lower East Side, started popping up. Captain Carnivore and I finally made it there last night and I was not disappointed. In fact, it makes it onto my top 5 list of NYC restaurants!

We were warmly greeted by the owner and offered two seats at the bar while we waited for a table. The atmosphere is cozy (25 seats), and a mix of modern (clean lines) and kitsch (decorated with lace curtains and pinecones.)

As we waited, Captain Carivore ordered a Goesser on tap, while I tried a “Lower East Side Cider”—fresh pressed cider, vodka and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray. It was a strange combination but it totally worked!

[As an aside, I would NEVER have ordered a drink with celery flavored soda had I realized what is was. Who on earth drinks celery-flavored soda? New Yorkers apparently. When I find a whole can of it, I’ll be sure to blog about it:-)]

Pretzels-- warm, soft, light, and perfectly salted came next. Best of all, they came with what I thought was a dollop of paprika and onion quark. I’ve since read that the “quark” was Liptauer- a seasoned cheese spread. It was divine!

Cheese spaetzle isn’t on the menu last night but the staff was quite happy to make it for me. Captain Carnivore was excited for a Brat, saurkraut and pickled veggies. Simply put, everything was wonderful. The spaetzle noodles appeared to be homemade and there was a perfect balance of cheese onions and noodles.

The entertainment of the evening was watching the 2 guys next to us try to outdo one another by trying to drink 2 liters of bier out of a Hofbrauhaus boot-shaped glass. We sat next to them for almost an hour and neither had made a dent.

Interestingly, there is a review of Café Katja in next week’s New Yorker.

The Schlecker family cheese spaetzle recipe remains the gold standard, but the Café Katja recipe comes in a respectable second. Guten Appetite!

Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard Street