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BLT Market by Andrea Strong
September 30, 2007, 7:49.00 pm ET

Much is made these days of local cuisine. Every chef worth his or her weight in heirloom green beans has a Greenmarket-driven menu, or sources produce within the locavore’s 100-mile radius.  But while I am so proud of all that these locavore chefs do, I must admit that not one of them is doing what Chef Laurent Tourondel is doing at BLT Market. At Market, the latest in his line of urban chic emporium eateries, Laurent is shopping as local as you can get.  more

                                                                             Photo: Cititour

Caminito by Brian Scott Lipton
September 30, 2007, 7:45.07 pm ET

At its heart, Caminito is the perfect neighborhood restaurant, offering satisfying, simple food at everyday-gentle prices. The only drawback is the neighborhood itself, an almost barren stretch of Park Avenue in East Harlem that hardly lends itself to fine dining.  more

                                                                          Photo: Cititour

Amaran by Pamela Grossman
September 30, 2007, 7:43.10 pm ET

I heard recently about a trip that friends of friends of mine are taking: driving across the continent of Africa. No tourist bus, no paid guide; just some people with varied language and cultural skills, some extensive advance planning, some supplies and gear, and a car. Wow. The ambitious journey reinvigorated my own travel bug--and made me eager to hear stories from this particular pan-African adventure. In the meantime, a shop featuring wares from afar caught my eye.  more

                                                 Photo: Amaran

Cafe Tapeo by Thomas Rafael
September 30, 2007, 7:41.23 pm ET

It's not often that you find yourself at brand new restaurant feeling very much at home. But that is the feeling you get at Cafe Tapeo, a new tapas restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Maybe it's the cafe style seating outside or the restaurant itself with its exposed brick and hardwood floors and candlelit tables. It's just very inviting, and a welcome edition to a part of town where new restaurants seem to be popping up every day.  more

                                                                            Photo: Cititour

KahriAnne Kerr Show by Pamela Grossman
September 23, 2007, 5:15.09 pm ET

Just as I love one-of-a-kind shops and handmade items--in other words, things you won't find just anywhere--I'm always interested in talented but not-yet-famous designers. Their work isn't--yet--on the racks at Bloomies, but when you see it, you know you've got something special.  more

                                                                 Photos: KahriAnne Kerr

Toloache by Brian Scott Lipton
September 23, 2007, 5:13.06 pm ET

Take heed: Do not, under any circumstances, visit Toloache if you’re in an indecisive mood. For his first stint as restaurant owner, chef Julian Medina – who most recently delighted foodies at Zocalo – has reconfigured the theater district eatery Federicos as a temple to the breadth of haute Mexican cuisine. Medina’s talent is such that you’ll likely be happy with whatever you order, but the choosing is difficult to say the least.  more

                                                                         Photo: Cititour

The Creperie by Thomas Rafael
September 23, 2007, 5:10.03 pm ET

I can never seem to walk by this little hole-in-the-wall shop without buying one of their crepes. Maybe it's the aroma wafting from the front door or the site of a freshly made crepe cooking on the griddle with the steam rising from it.  more

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Ripley's Believe It or Not!
September 23, 2007, 5:07.17 pm ET

Ripley's new "Odditorium" offers a collection of 500 unusual artifacts from Robert Ripley's travels. The collection includes 24 shrunken heads, a 3,197 lb. meteorite, and part of the Berlin Wall.  more

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Flower Power Taxis Hit The Road!
September 18, 2007, 5:40.09 pm ET

It's flower power!  Thousands of city taxis are decked out in pschedelic flowers. The project, called "Garden in Transit" is the brainchild of brothers, Ed and Bernie Massey, who are the founders of Portraits of Hope.  All of the decals on the cabs were hand-painted by children, some with disabilities, to help children with disabilities and other serious illnesses.  You can sponsor a taxi for $500.


Hot Wheels
September 17, 2007, 7:24.50 pm ET

Bike Night in Times Square where they were giving away a rare Indian motorcyle in front of the Hard Rock Cafe.

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Suba by Andrea Strong
September 16, 2007, 6:55.02 pm ET

The meal was off to a great start. We had a plate of embutidos—pan con tomat (pressed and grilled bread rubbed with tomato and garlic, glistening with olive oil and sea salt) tagged up with three rosy piles of cured Spanish pork products: Serrano ham, salschichon, and chorizo.  more

Photo: Cititour

Apt. 141 by Pamela Grossman
September 16, 2007, 6:50.35 pm ET

On a warm and humid afternoon (as I said in my last column, summer is *not* over!), my energy was revved by the sight of an outdoor rack with cheerful dresses and blouses swaying in the slight breeze. I'd found , a cute and cozy shop that's home of creations from the design label 3Free.  more

                Photo: Cititour

Trois Pommes Patisserie by Thomas Rafael
September 16, 2007, 6:48.41 pm ET

Brooklyn has a new sweet spot! Emily Isaac's  will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. The flourless chocolate cake is quite decadent (imagine sinking your teeth into a flourless brownie), while a rasberry/peach tart was both lively and refreshing without being sweet at all.  more

                                                      Photo: Cititour

Faicco's by Thomas Rafael
September 16, 2007, 6:45.45 pm ET

Faicco's is one of my favorite spots for Italian specialties. Whether it's freshly made pork sausage (hot, sweet or dried) or homemade rice balls and potato croquettes, you'll be impressed with the quality of the product served.  more

                             Photo: Cititour

LUDfest 2007
September 9, 2007, 4:56.09 pm ET


The bands.. the scene... we thought we were back in the Summer of Love.  Could this be Haight-Ashbury II?

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Fashion Week 2007
September 9, 2007, 4:03.41 pm ET

The scene outside the tents...

                                                   Photos: Cititour


Stela Maris by Brian Scott Lipton
September 9, 2007, 3:03.25 pm ET

There’s a new restaurant row in town, and it’s far from the hustle-bustle of West 46th Street. In fact, even native New Yorkers may be hard pressed to identify Front Street without a map. Well, it’s a narrow block at the northern end of the South Street Seaport, and once housed the Fulton Fish Market. In the wake of that landmark’s departure, the street has been lovingly restored, which is why a variety of upscale shops and eateries have moved in.  more

                                                                             Photo: Cititour

Rayuela by Andrea Strong
September 9, 2007, 2:56.31 pm ET

The first thing you’ll notice about Rayuela is its look. From the outside—an iron, glass, and brick façade—the word “Rayuela” is written in a sexy swooping silver light script. Step inside, and you’ll find a festive space pulsing with life (read: hipsters leaning into lounge tables, and South American hotties crowding the bar). more

                                                                             Photo: Rayuela

Sangria 46 by Thomas Rafael
September 9, 2007, 2:54.19 pm ET

Sangria 46 is a nice little spot on Restaurant Row where you enjoy up to five different sangrias. We tried three; a cool, citrusy variety called "Limonada", a sweet and refreshing mango version, and a more traditional red wine sangria.  more

                                                      Photo: Cititour

Georgia's Eastside BBQ by Sam Sayegh
September 9, 2007, 2:50.15 pm ET

Georgia's Eastside BBQ is a funky spot on the Lower East Site for some finger-lickin' cue. It's walls are lined with little pigs and a rifle, while wooden buckets serve as catch basins for napkins soaked with barbecue sauce. You'll need 'em.  more

                                                     Photo: Cititour

Remembering Pavarotti
September 6, 2007, 6:35.20 pm ET

Luciano Pavarotti, the world famous tenor who brought opera to the masses, has died in Italy from pacreatic cancer.  He was 71.

The Metropolitan Opera issued this statement:

  News of the death of Luciano Pavarotti was met with profound sadness today by the management, staff, and artistic company of the Metropolitan Opera, where the great Italian tenor sang 378 performances, more than anywhere else in the world. Pavarotti made his Metropolitan Opera debut on November 23, 1968 as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, and sang his farewell performance on March 13, 2004 as Mario Cavaradossi in the same composer’s Tosca.

  Music Director James Levine, who collaborated with Mr. Pavarotti in 139 performances at the Met beginning in 1973, said, “Few singers in the history of the Metropolitan Opera have had the popularity with the general public and the enormous impact that Luciano Pavarotti had during his 36-year career with the company. Luciano’s voice was so extraordinarily beautiful and his delivery so natural and direct that his singing spoke right to the hearts of listeners whether they knew anything about opera or not. I will never forget the sheer magic of that voice, but I will also remember the warm, generous, and exuberant spirit of the man. He is, rightfully, a legend already – an artist whose recordings will be a reference for singers and opera lovers for a long time to come.”

   “In the larger than life world of grand opera, Luciano Pavarotti was its greatest symbol, captivating millions with his performances from the Met and elsewhere,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager. “Pavarotti’s golden voice shall resonate within the Met for as long as it stands.”

The Met is honoring Pavarotti with a special exhibition at Founders Hall on September 24th.  An 8-opera tribute will also run on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 85, at 9pm each night.

Analysis: Death Row?
September 4, 2007, 7:32.13 pm ET

I happened to be traveling up 74th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I would often travel to admire some old Victorian homes. One was for sale and I was checking up to see if it was sold.  I knew it would be someone's dream house one day, or at least that's what I thought. 

As I got close, something wasn't quite right.  A dead birch tree stood outside one of the majestic homes, while the earth had been unsettled in front of another.  And then came the signs on all three: "Poison: Keep Out".  At first I thought it was maybe a rat infestation or radon gas, but all of the adjacent homes seemed just fine. 

After I bit of digging and questioning some neighbors, it seems the "poison" in this case is a developer who plans to level the homes to make room for co-ops.  It's a shame when perfectly beautiful homes that depict the origins of a neighborhood, in this case Bay Ridge, can be discarded in such a horrible fashion.  In Ditmas Park they're treasured.  In this neck of the woods I guess it's greed that dictates.  Where is the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission when you need them?  To write the chairman, click here  or call (212) 669-7817. 

Update: It appears the neighbors we spoke with may have jumped the gun, at least according to this post on Curbed which picked up the story:

Three Historic Bay Ridge Homes Bought by Condo Developer
Preservationists Fear ‘Fedders Houses,’ Developer Claims Plans for Restoration

By Odelia Bitton
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BAY RIDGE — Rat poison signs on three, century-old, Victorian style homes in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn have recently been turning heads. When neighbors on 74th Street at Third and Fourth avenues noticed the signs and missing window curtains, they suspected there had been a change of hands.

Indeed, records show that the Basile Builders Group — who have completed four condominium complexes in Brooklyn, including two in Bay Ridge — recently bought the three contiguous properties at 318, 326 and 334 74th St.

But the condo builders, whose office is on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, said they have a different plan this time around. “We’re restoring the Victorian homes,” said Rocco Basile. “They’re really in bad shape now.”

We'll have to wait and see!

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Zoe Townhouse by Andrea Strong
September 2, 2007, 6:07.40 pm ET

Zoë Townhouse is the new incarnation of the (sadly) short-lived Jovia, Stephen and Thalia Loffredo’s upscale and elegant Italian restaurant that opened in that space in 2006. When their concept fell flat, they had to retool and reconsider their options. They hired a new chef for Jovia at first, which didn’t really do it, and so they regrouped again. What they decided was to return to what they know best: the Zoë formula (read: contemporary American food, a stylish, comfortable setting, an all-American wine list.) It had worked for 15 years downtown, why not uptown? Why not, indeed.  more

                                                                             Photo: Cititour

Bar Stuzzichini by Brian Scott Lipton
September 2, 2007, 6:05.26 pm ET

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. There are downsides to visiting Bar Stuzzichini, the attractive new Flatiron eatery that is quickly drawing crowds. The noise level is high; waits between courses can seem interminable; and if you’re not careful, your modest-looking bill can climb dramatically, especially if you order alcohol. Oh, and if you’re celebrating your best friend’s birthday, you might want to bring your own candle!  more

                                                                               Photo: Cititour
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