Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Taking a Little Stroll Through the Park

One of the hardest things about living in a city is the abundance of concrete and lack of greenery. Therefore, it's no surprise that parks are a pretty big deal to many city dwellers. Spending a day at the park requires a little more effort and planning than simply lounging in a backyard, but the payoff can be oh so refreshing.

I recently spent some time in two of Manhattan's most recognized and renowned parks: Central Park and Riverside Park. Each has its own unique personality.

Central Park is bustling with people year round, rain or shine: runners and bikers; city dwellers and tourists; pedicabs and horse-drawn carriages. It's a beautiful place that's centrally located in the middle of the island, and many consider it the city's backyard.

Central Park

Riverside Park spans the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is off the beaten path for tourists and New Yorkers alike. The majority of the park is calm and quiet, perfect for a run or stroll. It's one of my favorite places in the city.

Riverside Park

Location of the final scene in "You've Got Mail"
As I pointed out in a previous post, the city is really making an effort to convert small spaces into green spaces. But sometimes, all you need is stroll through the park to escape the city.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The City Dweller Does Broadway

It finally happened! The City Dweller finally made it to a Broadway show!

One of my old pals, C, from Coburn invited me to Rain--A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway. She received the tickets for free from her boss (and my former boss) and the seats were phenomenal--third row center!

Where to begin? Well, the music of course! To put it simply, they rocked the house. The music was excellent, lively and authentic. The selection of songs was quite good, and although they didn't perform my favorite, "Here Comes the Sun", I enjoyed every minute of it. They even got the crowd involved, encouraging the audience to clap and dance, and everyone seemed to get into it (except the guy in a suit and tie in front of us).

The theater itself was on the smaller side and had an intimate feel. Two huge screens were mounted on each side of the stage, and I found myself glancing up at them frequently, because the resemblance to the Beatles was uncanny, due to the old-school TV quality, camera angles and use of lighting.

A common 'complaint' is that the show really doesn't tell much of a story--it's really focused on the music, and the costumes do most of the storytelling. I personally didn't mind it, though.

C snuck a couple pics of me and the theater before the usher busted us.

Click here to check out the teaser.

Tip: Rain may be one of the few shows that is just.as.good. if your seats are in the back. In fact, it may enhance the "Beatles experience". While they look very similar to the real deal close up, they look practically identical from a distance. Tickets start at $52 (not bad for Broadway!).

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Weekend Getaway in Montauk

At the very very very last moment last weekend, we decided to venture out to Montauk with our friends B, M and their little guy, J. B&M have a car in the city (lucky!) and volunteered to drive (lucky for us!), so we hit the road bright and early on Saturday morning. Luke and I aren't used to weekend wake-up calls at 7AM, but we dragged ourselves out of bed in the name of beaches and seafood (and less traffic).

We made our way to Montauk, a beachtown on the very tip of Long Island, just past the Hamptons. M had negotiated a very reasonable rate at the Driftwood and we were all ready for a little R&R.

The drive was beautiful, and thankfully, we didn't run into any traffic. We drove around South Hampton, admired the incredible real estate, and debated pooling our funds for this beauty.

And by admired, I mean gaped. It was kinda like this as we drove by:

Then, we arrived at the first beach of the day. It wasn't your typical warm and sunny summer day, but that didn't stop us from strolling through the sand.

After pit stop #1, we continued along the highway until we reached The Lobster Roll Restaurant a.k.a. Lunch in Amagansett.

Luke enjoyed the infamous lobster roll.

I dined on Grandma's Old Fashioned Grilled Crabcake sandwich. Not surprisingly, both were incredible and fresh.

After our delicious lunch, we rolled back into the car and continued along until we reached our little beach resort, right on the ocean. The view from our balcony was a perfect combination of ocean...

..and dunes

After a quick stroll on the beach, it was time for little guy J's nap, so B and M gave us their car keys, as they hunkered down for a midday slumber. Luke and I made our way to the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

The ocean was absolutely beautiful, and we climbed along a rocky pathway that brought us to the very tip of the island.

We hung around for a while, before making our way back to the resort. It appeared that the others were still fast asleep, so we headed over to the basketball court and proceeded to play a friendly game of Horse. My basketball skills were a little rusty, but I held my own. Soon, B, M and J joined us, and the guys enjoyed some time on the tennis courts.

Later, we ventured back to the Lighthouse so that everyone could enjoy it. It was equally beautiful the second time around!

Next, we headed into town to enjoy some local music on the square, scope out the kitschy gift shops and relax a little before dinner. Eventually, we made our way to Gosman's Dock, on the north side of the island. The restaurant was located in an adorable little area with beautiful gift shops. We walked around a little, and it was incredibly quiet, since the official "summer" season had yet to begin.

After our brief stroll, we arrived at Gosman's and were seated in a corner table surrounded by windows, providing us with a beautiful view of the water as the sun set.

The atmosphere was perfect, and at long last, it was time to eat. The food did not disappoint! We started with a dozen oysters and stuffed mushroom caps (heaven). I enjoyed shrimp scampi (giant, butterflied shrimp) with asparagus and rice pilaf.

Luke opted for the steamed lobster.

...and wore a bib to complete the experience.

It was a fantastic meal, and I left Gosman's feeling happy as a clam.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early and cruised over to another beautiful beach town, Sag Harbor. We gorged ourselves on an amazing breakfast at Estia's Little Kitchen. It looks like a small roadside shack, but inside, the place is bustling!

Everything on the menu looked delicious, but I finally decided on the Cajun omelette (andouille, tomato, onion and pepper) and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Luke went for Happy Herald's breakfast burrito. Believe me when I say, I would have happily tried everything on the menu.

We pulled out of Estia's roadside parking lot, and we were on the road again. Before heading back to the city, we decided to make a pit stop at the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead, NY.

(image courtesy of TangerOutlet.com)
Let's just say, I've never seen anything like it. Nearly every store you can think of and seriously decent prices. Luke scored a Tumi duffel, and we got some new summer threads at J.Crew. Success!

All in all, it was quite a weekend. Beautiful beaches, delicious food and good company. Could you ask for anything more?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rule of Thumb: Try Dim Sum!

Back in February, I got a groupon for Red Egg, a restaurant in Chinatown that has delicious dim sum. Many restaurants in Chinatown serve dim sum, which a small chinese dish served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Generally, dim sum is served on a cart, and you choose your food when the server stops by. At Red Egg, you order several small dishes on a tiny piece of paper (think: sushi... or mini golf), and they bring the food out to you as soon as it's ready. It feels like an assembly line of food!

Of course, I let it go and didn't use the groupon until the last moment, right before it expired. On Wednesday night, we ventured down to Chinatown and enjoyed a dim sum feast! (Apologies on the photos; the lighting in the restaurant was rather dim [pun intended], and I didn't want to use the flash.)

vegetable spring rolls

pan-fried vegetable dumplings

roast pork buns

steamed pork dumplings

Red Egg's puff

shredded chicken with chinese green chow mein
For more pics, check out my pal's food blog! I went to Red Egg for the first time with her back in 2009.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meeting Jenny Han

On Thursday, I had the distinct privilege of meeting one of my favorite authors, Jenny Han! She was signing books at Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side, and I couldn't wait to meet her. She is such an inspiration for me as I continue to develop my own manuscript.

Last year, just after I left Simon & Schuster, her novel, The Summer I Turned Pretty, was published. It's the first book in a three-part series about a teenaged girl named Belly who spends every summer at a beach house with her mom, Laurel; her brother, Steven; her mom's best friend, Susannah; and Susannah's sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. But during one particular summer, everything starts to change at the summer house in Cousins, especially with Conrad and Jeremiah.

I read the second book, It's Not Summer Without You, in two days. I took it to the gym with me and lost track of time on the elliptical (never thought that was possible!). Could not put it down.

Just a few weeks ago, the third book, We'll Always Have Summer, was released. I started it on Thursday and just finished it this morning. (There's no question I would have finished it earlier if I hadn't been out of town this weekend. I can't read in cars.)

The series is absolutely wonderful and features complex characters, believable dialogue, amazing plot development, and twists that are realistic and filled with emotion.

The books would be great year-round, but with summer just around the corner, it's the perfect time to pick them up!