08/24/15 10:55am
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Eat like you’re on vacation, even if you’re not. Photo: Elaheh Nozari

The dog days of August are a great time to eat out in New York City. For one, you can partially justify the expense because you won’t be running your air conditioner at home, or heating up your own kitchen. Most produce is at a seasonal peak right now, and it’s also much easier to snag a seat at one of the city’s most coveted tables, with what seems like half the population on vacation. With so many new casual seafood restaurants to choose from, you can also make up for the fact that you aren’t at some seaside locale by dining as though you were, which is how I found myself surrounded by diners wearing lobster bibs and drinking rosé on tap in Greenpoint last Friday night.

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. opened almost exactly a year ago on Nassau Avenue (we checked it out and liked it, vowing to return once they got their sea legs) promising to fill a void in the Brooklyn food scene: a high quality fish shop. Its mission fits in with the location; aside from being one of the foremost places in New York to get pierogi, Greenpoint has a rich maritime history in its East River shipyards. Co-owners Vinny Milburn (a fifth-generation fishmonger) and Adam Geringer-Dunn saw a need for sustainably-sourced seafood in North Brooklyn, so I stopped by to see how things were going, and to satiate my seasonal craving for a lobster roll. (more…)

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08/10/15 1:50pm
It's all about texture with shaved snow.

It’s all about texture with shaved snow.

It all started with Instagram. My sister, who lives in South Korea, posted a photo of patbingsu, a Korean dessert that takes shaved ice and tops it with fruit, fruit syrup, sweet red beans, condensed milk and other ingredients that may sound like they don’t belong together. The key is really fluffy ice that holds the syrup, and the contrast of different textures mixed in with the sweet, chilly base.

In my search for patbingsu in New York, which you can find at Tous les Jours and other Korean sweets cafés around the city, I went down a rabbithole of Asian shaved ices and ended up obsessed with Taiwanese-style shaved snow. This summer snack is having a moment right now, perhaps because it’s the perfect marriage of creamy, fluffy, crunchy and chewy. (more…)

08/06/15 11:23am
Yes, Coney Island is worth a visit. Photo: © 2015 Regina Mogilevskaya

Yes, Coney Island is worth a visit. Photo: © 2015 Regina Mogilevskaya

Whether you’re headed to a barbecue, a(nother) wedding, to the beach or out of town, you’re going need something to talk about this weekend, even if you feel like a brain dead summer zombie. Here are 10 stories we’ve been buzzing about, with a few suggestions for summer fun thrown into the mix. Put your sense of humor hat on and enjoy.

1. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Rockaways are a cool, beachy enclave you wouldn’t expect in New York City. But Coney Island is easier to get to, and it’s a weird New York original that reminds you that’s there plenty of originality left in this place, even amidst the bespoke cotton candy and kale popsicles.

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Floatation–just another city survival tactic. Photo: Tom Mylan

2. We floated in a sensory deprivation chamber in Carroll Gardens for an hour and boy was it trippy. And also relaxing.

3. Jon Stewart signs off the Daily Show for good this evening. This highlight reel from The New York Times will make you even more nostalgic about the end of an era. Slate has its own roundup. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Stephen Colbert about Stewart’s legacy (Stewart is not speaking to the media until after the last show). Bill O’Reilly added his two cents. And someone even interviewed his college soccer coach because…well, it’s an angle anyway. Goodnight, sweet prince. We’ll miss you so. (more…)

08/03/15 10:07am
A takeout smorgasboard from Taqueria Milear: Sopes, fresh chips, chorizo torta, taco with homemade torillas, watermelon juice, and guacamole.

We sampled a takeout smorgasbord from Taqueria Milear: Sopes, fresh chips, chorizo torta, taco with homemade toritillas, fresh watermelon juice, and guacamole. Photo: Brendan Spiegel

Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights seems poised to become Brooklyn’s next gentrification hotspot, with hip new places like Two Saints and Colina Cuervo recently opening alongside the many longstanding Caribbean eateries lining this busy boulevard. Nothing against those newcomers, but with so many super-trendy spots already crowding Crown Heights, it would also be nice to see more new restaurants that are decidedly affordable, totally non-pretentious, and definitely delicious.

Enter Taqueria Milear, which opened on Nostrand this spring. This narrow, family-owned spot is pint-sized (there’s just a small counter and 12 seats), but it stands out for serving authentic Mexican cuisine that’s a step above most neighborhood taquerias, without being a step up in price. Delectable homemade tortillas–warm, thick slabs of cornmeal that will bear the weight of any saucy taco–are one of the main reasons Taqueria Milear is worth traveling for. Even super-sloppy tacos, like picadillo, beef stew with carrots, onions and peas, won’t make these bad boys fall apart. There are also more familiar taco options like chorizo and al pastor (spicy marinated pork with pineapple), and all are topped with onions, cilantro and cactus. An important note: For some reason, they don’t automatically serve everything with their homemade tortillas, but reserve them for those in the know. You have to request the homemade ones, and they’re a well-worth-it 50 cents extra. (more…)

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07/28/15 11:28am
The Cherry and Balsamic Shrub at James in Prospect Heights can be served with or without alcohol. Photo: James

The Cherry and Balsamic Shrub at James in Prospect Heights can be prepared with or without alcohol. Photo: James

A few years ago a friend and I were at a fancy bar where they encouraged you to give the bartender a vague description of what you wanted to drink, and presto-magic!–she would create a brand new cocktail on the spot. “I want something icy, fruity and fantastic,” said my date, and some minutes later he was sipping a drink that combined fresh blackberries, gin and a blackberry shrub over pebble ice. It was indeed icy, fruity and fantastic. Ever since I’ve ordered any drink on a cocktail menu listing a shrub as an ingredient.

Shrubs combine vinegar, fruit and sugar, as well as herbs, spices, vegetables and other enhancements to make a sweet-tart syrup. Combined with soda water or mixed into a cocktail they’re a refreshing punch of flavor that makes the most of seasonal produce. Don’t let the vinegar deter you, or the hisptery mixologist vibes for that matter, shrubs are easy to make and delicious to drink. (more…)

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07/23/15 10:34am

Ah, summer in Brooklyn. A marvelous unfolding of rooftop drinking, movies under the stars, music in the parks, and out-of-town guests–like your parents.

Alarmingly, many parents still harbor the belief that a visit to New York City means a crowded, over-long day at the Met followed by mediocre Midtown dining and an astronomically expensive Broadway show. Need help figuring out how best to show off your borough to the folks who helped you get here? We’ve got you covered. Here are more than 50 ways to show them Brooklyn—your Brooklyn—plus a little smidge of Queens.

A group on the Brooklyn Classic tour with Get Up and Ride. Photo: Get Up and Ride

A group on the Brooklyn Classic tour with Get Up and Ride. Photo: Get Up and Ride

For Your Folks Who Are Still in Great Shape 

1. Bike the waterfront—or anywhere else. Get Up and Ride offers group tours on comfortable bikes (which they also rent), or can organize a private tour. Citibikes are also a fantastic option, with 24-hour passes costing only $9.95.

2. Shoot some arrows at Gotham Archery. Intro classes are $30, and are offered most days except for Mondays & Tuesdays.

3. Knock down some pins at one of Bk’s many bowling alleys, from the scruffy Gutter to the swanky Brooklyn Bowl to the old-school Melody Lanes.

4. See some art while smashing some balls at PIPS Table Tennis and Art Space.

5. Learn what to do with biscuits and tangs at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, with courts rented for $40/hr.

6. Climb the walls at Brooklyn Boulders—no experience or reservations necessary.

7. Get your surf on at the Rockaway Beach Surf School, with lessons every day of the week.

10. For a serious taste of today’s Brooklyn befitting the most adventurous parents, take a circus class—intro classes are offered at the Muse, Brooklyn Air Space, and LAVA Brooklyn. (more…)

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07/21/15 10:28am
Anyone's Guest, one of a few houseboats available for an overnight stay in the Rockaways. Photo: Nicole Davis

Anyone’s Guest, one of a few houseboats available for an overnight stay in the Rockaways. Photo: Nicole Davis

Last Thursday afternoon, when I would have normally been at home, collecting my kids from camp, I stood with a girlfriend on a dock in Far Rockaway where we would be spending the night on a houseboat. As the owner relayed the rules of the marina, her eight-year-old boy manhandled a dead horseshoe crab beside us, which she gently reminded him to put down before we walked toward our floating accommodations. “That wasn’t in the Airbnb description,” she joked.

Day trips to the Rockaways, home to some of New York City’s most accessible beaches, have become a rite of summer, especially now that a significant stretch of its boardwalk has been restored and the food stalls at Jacob Riis Park have begun hawking tuna tartare and handmade ice cream. But considering how long it can take to stand in line for a snack beneath the hot sun on the boardwalk, or wait for a drink (or the bathroom) at Rockaway Surf Club during the weekend, the idea of turning a day trip into an overnight visit–especially during a less crowded weeknight–seemed more my speed.

Taking the ferry, which only runs on weekends, was unfortunately out of the question, perhaps the main downside of a weekday visit. But being able to take the A train to the Rockaways is really one of the rare virtues of the MTA. On any other subway ride, being stuck between two manspreaders would just be another annoyance to endure. But on a trip to Far Rockaway, your discomfort is rewarded once you reach Broad Channel, and can see the sun glinting off the water, and flashes of white egrets resting on the tiny islands of Jamaica Bay–all in sight of the NYC skyline. (more…)

07/14/15 9:00am
Yes, it's a watermelon keg kit. Photo: Uncommon Goods

Yes, it’s a watermelon keg kit. Photo: Uncommon Goods

After the Fourth of July, you may have had your fill of grillin’ and chillin’. But there are still months of summer weather left to hang outside. In order to make your al fresco dining experiences easier and more fun, we’ve rounded up some items that will let you make the most of the season, with no grunt work. Get ready to chillax. (more…)

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07/09/15 9:00am

Summer is usually more about beach trips and ball games than say, Abstract Expressionism. But considering museums in New York are all air-conditioned, perhaps you should rethink your escape plan from the muggy, garbage-scented New York City streets with these cool-as-a-cucumber cultural excursions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). Untitled (Crown), 1982. Acrylic, ink, and paper collage on paper, 20 x 29 in. (50.8 x 73.66 cm). Private collection, courtesy of Lio Malca. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Mark-Woods.com

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). Untitled (Crown), 1982. Acrylic, ink, and paper collage on paper, 20 x 29 in. (50.8 x 73.66 cm). Private collection, courtesy of Lio Malca. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Mark-Woods.com

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum If 160 pages of doodles and musings is too deep down the Basquiat rabbit hole for you, there are several other excellent collections at The Brooklyn Museum right now including Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence, a collection of portraits documenting the lives of gay and transgender women in South Africa. The Basquiat exhibit showcases previously unseen notebooks filled with sketches, poetry and random personal observations by the late Brooklyn-based artist, and the books are accompanied by several large-scale works. For the train ride there, we recommend listening to the This American Life segment about the insane collection of ephemera that the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is has been in the process of cataloging.  Through Aug. 23

(more…)

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07/07/15 8:33am
Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate on the North Fork. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate on the North Fork. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Fourth of July weekend has come and gone and now we’re in the sticky thick of summer. There are so many outdoor concerts and movies to go see, beach books to read, excursions to take and treats to enjoy. Here’s all the summer we can fit in one post.

It’s not too late to plan a trip out of town, whether you want to get away for a day trip, a weekend or even longer. You absolutely do not need a car to explore the North Fork by bike, and you can even rent your two-wheeler there. Or, make like Baby in Dirty Dancing and take a Catskills trip (yes, the article was written with fall in mind, but it’s just as lovely in the summer, with the added benefit of tubing on the Esopus River). For day trips, head to Storm King for art and green grass, or Long Beach for an easy beach experience. You could also take a voyage inside your own mind. We’ll be hanging out in Bay Ridge all day on July 18, for The Total Bay Ridge Immersion, which is a great excuse to explore the neighborhood. Send postcards from wherever you end up with this sweet app that takes the photos and addresses you already have access to on your phone, and turns them into instant correspondence, no stamps required. (more…)