Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blue Ribbon Opens at Columbus Circle

Zagat reports on the new Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill opening in Midtown:
Located inside 6 Columbus, Jason Pomeranc's new hotel across from the Time Warner Center, it will give area sushi fans a more affordable alternative to the $400 prix fixe at nearby Masa. Accessible via the hotel's lobby, it features a front bar that's already open for business, plus a den-like dining room that's all warm slatted wood. 6 Columbus Circle; 212-397-0404

Happy Halloween!

Brooklyn, NY
Originally uploaded by URBAN ENVY, NYC
I came across this very nice photo stream of Halloween-inspired Brooklyn brownstones. A real diamond in the rough amid the hundreds of drunk Halloween party pics on Flickr.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Recipe: Fiber One Muffins

Sorry these Monday recipe features haven't been very regular. On that note, here's a heart healthy recipe that won't pack on the pounds, courtesy of my friend Stephanie.

Fiber One Muffins

  • 1 cup Fiber One Bran Cereal (the strands not the flakes)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (option to substitute olive oil)
  • 2 containers (6 oz each) plain fat-free yogurt, such as FAGE
  • ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (or splenda)
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fruit, such as blueberries, apples, strawberries or banana
Optional ingredients: Cinnamon, raisins and/or protein powder, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F
2. Grease bottom of muffin cups or use paper baking cups.
3. Crush cereal
4. In mixing bowl, combine egg whites, oil, & yogurt. Stir in cereal and remaining ingreds.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned

Best of New York Dining from amNY

amNY offers its list of the top dining spots and bars in New York. I was pleased to see that Sushi of Gari was named "best sushi."

Venues are organized by the usuals, such as "best burger," "best sushi," "best ice cream," in addition to "best place to be seen," "kid friendly" and "best place to take out-of-towners." I haven't been to all of the places they included and probably would have made different picks.

Local Brooklyn spots were featured, including: Barcade as "best bar to play games," Freddy's Bar & Backroom in Prospect Heights as "best dive" and L&B Spumoni Gardens as "best pizza."

Follow-up Knitting Post: Brooklyn General Store

On Sunday, my friend took me to Brooklyn General Store on Union St in Carroll Gardens. They also have a wide selection of materials and instructional courses. Although what I learned at Knit New York was invaluable, it appears that you get more bang for your buck in Brooklyn.

I also found some lovely little decorative buttons - some in great animal shapes - to incorporate into my knitting products. They also feature a "pattern of the month" online to give customers new project ideas. Here is a link to their blog.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Knitting Rocks

Learning to knit has been a line item on my to-do list for many years. I still have knitting supplies and failed projects that I purchased in Boston when I lived there more than three years ago. I learned to knit from my grandma when I was very young, but the intricacies of casting on and off have left my memory banks and I would love to move beyond the basic stitch.

I finally decided it was time to learn how to knit properly so that I could actually finish a project and cross that item off my list. So yesterday I took a "Knitting 101" class at a fantastic place called Knit New York on 14th street right off Second Avenue.

The class is small (4 people, 2 teachers) so you get 1:1 instruction and the fee includes everything you need -- supplies and instruction -- to knit a hat. It's the kind of place you want to hang out at after work and on lazy rainy days (well at least I do!). Everyone was knowledgeable, friendly and nice -- all-in-all a great vibe.

They have an expresso bar and a nice selection of beverages and penny candy for sale, with several seating areas. The walls are lined with yarn in all colors and textures, while impressive finished projects sit folded on shelves and hanging on racks -- all very inspirational.

I would love a place like this in DUMBO (and I think it would do really well), but I found that there are some great places in Brooklyn that offer knitting supplies, some with classes. But I would highly recommend Knit New York as it's a casual environment so there's no pressure!

Here's a link to a Web site that offers a round-up of NYC Knitting shops and resources.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catch Some Burlesque in Brooklyn

This Saturday, October 27 head on down to The Hook (yes, in Red Hook) for a night of music, entertainment (Burlesque!), carnival booths and burgers. Called the The Death of Astroland, doors open at @ 8 p.m. and the venue is on 18 Commerce St., b/t Richards & Columbia St., Red Hook (718-797-3007).

Burlesque shows are great fun, although I don't care for the Blue Bunny (he was mean to my friend on her bachelorette). A cool chic I met who works at No Idea Bar is also with a burlesque team called Lady Rizo and the Assettes. Next week on Halloween, starting at 9 p.m. they will be performing at the Brooklyn Lyceum as part of the NIGHT OF THE CONEY ISLAND DEAD (I sense a theme?).

Please Don't Judge Me: I Watch Gossip Girl

Creating Gossip Girl was the least the CW could do after taking away my beloved Veronica Mars. Luckily, Kristen Bell has gone on to narrate Gossip Girl and take on the role of Elle, a new character on Heroes with an electric personality. Surprisingly the show's ratings have taken a dip when it just started to get good?!

Anyway, I had to share an excerpt from, which does a hilarious (and spot-on) write-up of Gossip Girl every Thursday offering points (+/-) based on the believability of each episode. Thought this portion was especially relevant regarding the ongoing discussion in the blogosphere about how Gossip Girls continues to use Brooklyn as its backdrop for what is supposed to be the lush, exclusive UES:
When Dan blows off Vanessa, she says he can make up for it by buying her "pierogies at Veselka." True, pierogies will right most wrongs, but they live in Williamsburg, so why deal with a weekend L when they can just go to Kasia's? Yet Vanessa somehow mysteriously manages to make it all the way into the East Village and then to Billyburg to get to Dan's house (which we all know is in Dumbo) before he gets home. Don't tell us bitch took a cab. She wears scarves in warm weather! She is not a girl who ponies up for the yellow chariot. Minus 2

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brooklyn Cupcakes

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that cupcakes have made a real come-back in the last few years thanks to bakeries like Magnolia, Crumbs and Buttercup. (Artie Lange from Howard Stern even has his own cupcake at Crumbs.) No longer are these trendy, bite-sized (sometimes 5-8 bites worth) of sugary deliciousness reserved for birthdays alone.

For work birthdays, we used to get to order from LES favorite Sugar Sweet Sunshine, but now we make them ourselves to show off the domestic goddess inside. But I really love the cake portion of the cupcakes from Magnolia as they are closer to a biscuit in consistency and texture, than a cake. But who wants to wait on that line unless you have someone from out of town coming to visit?

That's why a posting on a blog devoted to cupcakes caught my eye. It spotlights a Williamsburg bakery called Kumquat. The tiny cupcakes look delicious. From their Web site:
Keavy MacPherson has been making cupcakes from scratch, for her friends, for years. Word of mouth quickly spread about her delicious mini-cupcakes and catering orders started piling up. For the past few months she's been selling her delicious mini's underground to anyone who's heard about them, but now they're available to all.
Still I'd love cupcakes in DUMBO. I saw some good looking homemade ones at Forager's. The same blog mentioned above gives high marks to the cupcakes from Almondine. I also came across an old post in Gothamist about a cupcake bake-off last April at Brooklyn Kitchen. I will have to attend next year's event!

Anyone had cupcakes from Brooklyn that they love? Tell me!

If you are feeling adventurous, try to make the famous vanilla Magnolia cupcakes yourself, recipe courtesy of Food Network. Or, if you're not up to making cupcakes from scratch, my favorite "fake-out" is to buy a box strawberry cake mix and then frost with vanilla confetti icing.

* 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
* Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
* In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
* In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
* Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
* Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
* Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
* Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
* Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream:
The vanilla buttercream used at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 (9-inch) layer cake.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Meet the Ladies Behind DUMBO's Nylon Cooks

When I heard about Nylon Cooks a new venture started by local DUMBO chefs Lindsay Broder and Kristen Clay, I was definitely interested in learning more. I can certainly relate as someone who loves to cook but is short on time. The following Q&A offers insight into the thinking behind Nylon Cooks and why you should give it a try.

Q: Why did you decide to start Nylon Cooks?
A: We started Nylon Cooks because we wanted to improve the in-home dining experience for busy New York City dwellers. We give our customers an alternative to typical take-out by offering them pre-prepared meals with carefully selected ingredients.

Q: Is there anything behind the name of your company?
A: We get that question a lot! Kristen is from England and Lindsay is from New York. Ny=New York, Lon=London. Nylon Cooks reflects who we are and what we do!

Q: How does it work?
A: We offer a selective menu of pre-prepared entrees, side dishes and soups. We also offer a children’s menu of healthy alternatives to your kids’ favorite meals. We schedule deliveries twice a week. Meals arrive in oven-proof packaging with heating instructions. It’s as simple as turning on the oven, eating a delicious dinner and throwing away the container. No pots or pans required!

Q: Aside from the fact you live in DUMBO, why target DUMBO?
A: As we were planning Nylon Cooks we kept hearing from our neighbors that they struggle with putting dinner on the table each night. They don't have the time to cook a full meal and they find the options for take-out to be limiting. That's where we come in!

Q: What's your most popular dish?
A: Our signature Lasagna has been very popular, but we've been getting great feedback on all our dishes!

Q: Do you take special requests, for example if someone has food allergies?

A: Since we are a startup company and it's just the two of us we aren't able to accommodate such requests at this time.

Q: Do you see Nylon Cooks expanding to become a catering service one day?
A: We have aspirations to expand Nylon Cooks to other areas of the city and we hope that our customers will see the value in ordering Nylon Cooks in larger quantities for holiday dinners or for their dinner parties.

Q: Why should people choose Nylon Cooks over say the prepared food from Forager's, ready-to-cook meals from Fresh Direct or Busy Chefs in Brooklyn Heights?
A: Our food is not about reheating. They are not prepared meals. They are pre-prepared. We've done extensive testing on our recipes and figured out to what point each dish should be cooked in order to make sure that when it comes out of your oven that it tastes as if we've just prepared it for you in your own kitchen. And the best part is no pots or pans to clean up!

Q: How much does it cost?
A: Our entrees range from $12-$15 and our sides $6.50-$7.50. Our kids entrees are $7.50-$8.00. A pint of soup is $5.50 and a quart of soup is $10.00.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Triple Celebrity Sighting at Balthazar in SOHO

We were with my parents today having lunch at Balthazar today in SOHO and experienced a triple celebrity sighting. I never see celebrities so I was pretty excited.

Bill Gates and Bono were eating lunch together with another woman (likely Melinda, although I don't know the face). Recently Gates has been out talking about his latest effort: to end malaria. So it makes sense to see him talking to Bono, who is also known for lending his celebrity status for philanthropic efforts in Africa. Bill was very casual (disheveled hair, sweater), almost undetectable without Bono at his side.

Sitting next to me was Sara Moulton, editor of Gourmet Magazine and former host of Sara's Secrets on Food Network. She said she's left the Food Network and going to PBS. Her new show starts in the spring. She was eating lunch with her daughter.

I'm huge U2 fan and work in technology, so the Bono/Gates combo was very exciting, but I think meeting Sara was cooler. I love her show and am glad to hear the the opportunity to teach people new things about cooking -- which is the essence of her show -- is the most important thing to her. She was very down to earth.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brooklyn Fashion Week(end)

Brooklyn Fashion Weekend kicks off today in DUMBO.

Brooklyn Fashion Week{end} made its debut in May 2006. The event was created by the non-profit Brooklyn Style Foundation, which was founded as an incubator for emerging design.

This season's theme is CIRCUS COUTURE (um, what is that? I am kind of scared) and will feature the Spring 2008 Collections of 21 emerging designers hand-picked by The BK Style Foundation.

The event is free, but you still need a ticket for admission. Get one here. However the site notes that once the venue reaches capacity, people will be turned away and invited to come back the following day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What About the F? reports that the MTA plans to expand service on the L subway line, adding 23 new round-trip runs on weekdays and 30+ on weekends. The expanded services is expected to cost about $2.6 million a year.

Blue Ribbon General Store to Debut in Boerum Hill

From a press release today:

Blue Ribbon General Store, an urban general store for a well-lived life, today announced its opening in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood. Combining the charm of a country general store with the sophistication of a modern city lifestyle, the store features a unique assortment of home accessories and gift items for kids, pets and adults that represent the best of what life has to offer, all under one colorful and cozy roof.

365 State Street (corner of State and Bond)

Red Hook Bullies Attack at PS 27

The story about a first grader falling fate to two 14-year old Red Hook bullies at P.S. 27 has been circling the airwaves. We all know kids can be mean -- trust me, I know -- but who ties masking tape around a poor little boy like a mummy and then threatens to toss him down the stairs?

This news has ignited a debate about whether or not children in such different age groups should be allowed to go to school in the same facility. For Red Hook families, there doesn't appear to be much of a choice, but overall it's a bad idea in my opinion. The article notes that only six of the city's public schools run from kindergarten through 12th grades, not including charter schools.

I went to Montessori school, a method of teaching that allows mixed age groups and focuses on "adapting the child's learning environment to his developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills." However, this learning environment is usually limited to pre-school and elementary grade levels.

What do you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fireworks Last Night On Par with Macy's

Living in DUMBO, we are often lucky enough to see fireworks on any given night over the harbor. But last night's show was like Macy's 4th of July and I couldn't keep my eyes off the colored lights above downtown Manhattan.

According to McBrooklyn, the show was for the Deepavali Festival. More on the show from Brooklyn Heights Blog.

I took a short video of the fireworks, which I'll try to upload from home later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shopping Guide: New York

Home & Garden offers a local New York shopping guide that aims to highlight smaller, unique and boutique establishments. While chain stores offer decor on the cheap, some of these places look like amazing places to at least window shop for ideas and to score some great design elements that will make a statement. Also included are some good food finds.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Gossip Girl Filming Tonight in DUMBO

CW's Gossip Girl will be be filming down by Starbucks and West Elm on Front Street in DUMBO at about 8 pm tonight. As other bloggers have pointed out, Gossip Girl seems to do most of its filming in Brooklyn.

Other bloggers agree it's ironic the show is using Brooklyn as its backdrop to give viewers and eye into the elite lifestyle of the upper east side, whereas Brooklyn is portrayed as a lower class suburb on the show. For example, the blossoming freshman "Jenny" and her brother "Dan" (the blond, Serena's, love interest) are supposed to live in a poorer Brooklyn hood, but they live in a schnazzy loft that appears to be in DUMBO.

Apple Crisp

I know I should be thankful for the warm weather and extended summer into October, but I can't help but desire a chill in the air and a fall treat like Apple Crisp.

Blackberry and Apple Crisp with Nut Topping

* 3 red apples—peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
* 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (feel free to sub for blueberries or another berry)
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

* 1/3 cup rolled oats
* 1/3 cup whole almonds and pecans, coarsely chopped
* 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. In a bowl, toss the apples with the blackberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Scrape the filling into the baking dish.

2. In a bowl, toss the oats with the remaining » cup of flour and the nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub it in thoroughly. Sprinkle the topping over the filling and bake for 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top- ping is browned. Let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Definition: Red Eye

I have been recently blessed with several free Starbucks coffee cards. While in line, I have overheard many people ordering a drink called a red eye, which is not on the menu. Given that I understand the meaning of the term from airplane related adventures, I assumed this had to be a super strong espresso drink.

I came across several good definitions, one of which was hilarious and I had to share:

Red Eye (n.) -- Someone who can 'drink' (i.e., choke down) a Red Eye deserves your respect. This drink is basically a cup of coffee (already well caffeinated) with either one, two, or three espresso shots added for good measure. People that drink these are either clinically dead and need resurrection, or are writing a doctoral thesis or something equally mind-numbing. You may want to think twice before ordering this drink.

The drink has also been defined by Wikipedia. Apparently, the red eye is the equivalent of Dunkin Donuts' Turbo drink, if that is even still available.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

DUMBO Arts Festival 07

DUMBO Arts Festival 07
Originally uploaded by blackoutny
I missed this on Saturday, but found a great picture on Flickr. They are pulling a manhole cover with someone sitting on it. I'm sorry, I don't get it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Zakka Comes to DUMBO

During the Art Festival last Saturday, I discovered a very cool store in DUMBO called Zakka. It was open on Saturday (down on Water St) but the man working said that it wasn't set to open until later this month.

According to its Web site, ZAKKA is "a shop and artists' space, where you can find graphic art-related books, as well as other select items boasting unique design, including clothing, music and stationery." Zakka highlights some of the latest Japanese subcultures and art scenes through its acclaimed selection of unusual merchandise. There were loads of interesting books, unique t-shirts and collectible items like tin Darth Vader figures. I will definitely be back when it opens to take a closer look.

Bedstuy & Breakfast

Brooklyn entrepreneur-ess Diana Hussey (a.k.a. Miss Pets) recently opened the doors to her latest venture called Bedstuy & Breakfast. It turns out, B&Bs are very hard work even for celebrities with endless resources like Tori Spelling.

I haven't been down to check it out in person, but Diana and her brother are excellent pet sitters if you ever need someone. Located near Myrtle Avenue and Spencer Street, rooms are available for as short as three days, or up to three weeks.

The list of amenities includes: use of a full kitchen and large shared bathroom, air conditioning, washer/dryer, free WiFi, Wii & video games, ping pong, rooftop access and bicycles available to borrow.

Suites are cleverly named, for example the Sky Room:
Features a full-size bed in the sky, overlooking Bedford Avenue with a skyline stretching clear to downtown Brooklyn. A translucent wall permits all the light from outside in, but distorts shapes beyond recognition, protecting your privacy.

As it turns out,
there are actually quite a few B&Bs in Brooklyn, although I haven't stayed at any of them. Seems like a nice option and one that would allow people to discover other neighborhoods.