Signing Off For 2005!

I'm off to celebrate the New Year. Don't forget - we gain an extra SECOND this year! Wishing everyone a great one and I"ll see you in 2006!

City Magazine

Check out both the printed edition and website for City magazine. This hip magazine feature lots of cool stuff from restaurants to bars to shopping and gadgets (kind of like guest packets with less of a personal touch!). They also have travel guides for various cities on their website.


Perry St. - Worth The Reservation Hassle!

After reserving a MONTH in advance (yes, you have to call at 9am exactly one month before you want to go and you still can basically only get a 6pm or 10pm), last night I finally made it to Perry Street, the new Jean Georges in the Richard Meier towers on the West Side Highway. The space - small, cozy and minimal with off white banquettes, big overhanging lights and great low playing supper-club type music. All the employees were very friendly with no attitude and the service was exceptional. The food revolves around the flavor, not so much as the base ingredient (meat/fish/chicken). I started with the rice-crusted pan-seared tuna which came out looking like a peacan roll and had a crunch that couldn't be beat! For a main I had the cod which was prepared in a spicy aromatic broth with sweet potato puree. DELISH! I think it was truely the best piece of cod I've ever had! Mark had the pepper crab dumplings with snow peas to start (which he loved) and the butter poached lobster (they use the meat from a 1 1/2 pd lobster) on top of endive with slivers of apple on top with an endive & apple compote on the side (a slice of heaven). Other entrees included arctic char, rabbit, lamb, snapper, chicken and beef tenderloin. For drinks, we had the Jean Georges signature ginger margaritas (a carry-over from Spice Market) that were tasty as usual. Surpise treats included the complementary starter, a maple syrup and cerely root soup (sounds weird but was soothing and sweet) and desert, 2 types of homemade chocolates (tahini raspberry and ginger). Thank you Jean George! (Price range: $10-12 appetizers, $28 avg main course)

The AirClick

Looking for something to buy with the money you earned from all of those gift returns? How about the new AirClick. This device is a remote control for iPods, iPod minis and iTunes that works up to 60 ft away, transmits through walls and is compatible with both Mac and PC.


The Best Music of 2005

Since everyone else is doing a "best of" at this time of year, I figured I might as well do the same. Check my favorite songs of the year and maybe even make yourself a holiday mix!

The Top 3 (in no particular order since I can't decide)

“All These Things That I’ve Done” (runner up: “Mr. Brightside”) – The Killers

“Speed Of Sound” (runner up: “Fix You”) - Coldplay

“You’re Beautiful” (runner up: “Goodbye My Lover”) – James Blunt

The rest . . . .

4. “Tripping” (runner up: “Ghosts”) - Robbie Williams

5. “Dakota” (runner up: “Superman”) - Stereophonics

6. “Old Dirt Hill” (runner up: “Dreamgirl”) - Dave Matthews Band

7. “The One I Love” (runner up: “Hospital Food”) – David Gray

8. “Gold Digger” - Kanye West

9. “Hung Up” - Madonna

10. “Bad Day” - Daniel Powter

11. “One Way Tickets” (runner up: “Hazel Eyes”) - The Darkness

12. “We Belong Together” (runner up: “It’s Like That”)- Mariah Carey

13. “Feel Good Inc” - Gorillaz

14. “Streets Of Love” - The Rolling Stones

15. “All Because Of You” (runner up: “Sometimes You Can Make It On Your Own”) - U2


Holy Kidnapping ! ! !

The Nun Bun, a cinnamon roll bearing an uncanny likeness to the late Mother Teresa was stolen on Christmas day from the Nashville coffee shop it was discovered in. The bun was preserved in a glass case next to the register since it was discovered by a customer in 1996 and it's estimated value is $25. If you see this sweet roll, please contact police IMMEDIATELY so she doesn't spoil!


Cancelled Flights In Bad Weather

Happy Holidays! Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday travels and hopefully time off.

Today's travel tip is about cancelled flights. On my way back from Boston, my flight was cancelled due to bad weather (while en route to the airport). I still was able to get back to NY (albeit with lots of Amazing Race strategies). Here are a few tips to get you where you are going if caught in this situation:

1. Don't wait in the long lines at the check-in area. Utilize your mobile and call the carrier directly while at the airport.

2. Instead of booking "the next flight out", check and see if earlier flights are still delayed that you have enough time to get to (I was scheduled for a 4:40p but got on a 11:50am that was not scheduled to leave until 5:15p! Had I booked on the 6:40p, I wouldn't have departed until 9:30pm!)

3. Use the check in kiosks. If your reservation has been locked out and it won't process it (as mine was) and you need to then get the boarding pass in a hurry, use the curbside skycap service. Even if you don't have bags to check, they can still check you in and give you your boarding pass (for a small tip, of course). (In my case, the skycap was also locked out of my reservation, but he took me back inside to the counter and got me up to the front of the line).

4. As a last resort, book the later flight and try standing-by on anything else that still hasn't left yet.

Happy Travels!


Total Darkness

Today I want to recommend the new album from The Darkness "One Way Ticket To Hell . . . And Back". Some of you may remember their first album "Permission To Land" with hits like "Growing On Me", "Love Is Only A Feeling" and one of the greatest songs ever "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". If you haven't heard of them they are a glam rock band with lots of falsetto - think Queen meets Ziggy Stardust. The new album is even stronger than the first with stand-out songs like the first single "One Way Ticket", "Hazel Eyes" and "Girlfriend". Give Justin Hawkins and the boys a listen!



Friday my office had our department holiday lunch at Marcelleria in MePa. I would HIGHLY recommend this location for a large group (like 15-20 people) for lunch or dinner. Originally, we had booked the basement wine cellar which is a very private and atmospheric room with a large rectangular table in the middle. HOWEVER, when we got there we were told there was a miscommunication and that we were in the main dining room. Since we wanted privacy since the group gets a little loud with all the liquor and the yankee swap and we didn't want to disturb other patrons, the manager did her best to rectify the situation. She set us up in "the meat locker" which was an area in the back of the restaurant right next to the open kitchen. It still provided privacy and room to get out of your chair and walk around and mingle with the other guests. Service - EXCELLENT! The Aussie waitress made sure the wine was flowing and that everyone got what they ordered in a timely manner. For lunch - entrees averaged about $15-20. It's Italian food with all bases covered so there is really something for everyone. Clams casino ($9), Tuscan tomato & bread soup ($7) and iceberg wedges with gorganzola peppercorn dressing ($6) proved to be popular appetizer choices among the group. Main course favorites included the veal piccata with artichokes ($17), the pappardelle al cinghiale with wild boar sauce ($14) and freshwater trout with herbs & lemon($14).


R.I.P. Radar

I'm sad to say that Radar, one of the magazines I work on, folded this week. THANKFULLY - it's not the ONLY magazine I work on. I guess a bit of my cache is now gone - I won't be invited to all those hot parties with Paris Hilton anymore . . .


New Years Eve Plans

I’ve had a few requests for some New Years Eve suggestions. This is what I got:

Sandra Bernhard at Joe's Pub- 2 shows – 7:30pm ($85) & 10:30pm ($125)

The Black Crowes at MSG - good tickets still available – $45-$65

For a quiet neighborhood dinner – try Deborah in the West Village. Always delish with exceptional service – $65 3-course pre-fixe with champagne.

Just show up at Boca Chica (they don’t take reservations) in the East Village and order of the regular menu. Killer margaritas!

Marion's Continental is having a Spanish feast with flamenco dancers, musicians and a DJ. The 7pm seating is 6-courses for $75 and the 10pm seating is 10-courses for $150 (which includes a bottle of champagne).

For more upscale midtown try The Lever House (regular menu that night and a DJ), davidburke & donatella (7-course $150 pre-fix and a limo to smoke in outside!) or Beacon (regular menu) .

Hit a local irish bar like Dublin 6 for $5 pints and no cover!

For the big hotel or club parties check out The Marquee ($175-$300 package includes premium top-shelf open bar 9pm – 2am, hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast at midnight, party favors, live countdown of ball drop) , Movida, the new West Village club that looks like a luxury cruise ship ($100 package includes 4-hour premium open bar and champagne toast) , or the semi-formal new years party at Capitale ($150-$250 package includes premium top-shelf open bar 9pm-2am (9 Bars), gourmet buffet dinner, hors d'oeuvres, finger pastries & dessert, champagne toast at midnight, party favors, live broadcast of ball drop on projection screen)

Be completely decadent and book an overnight at the TriBeCa Grand. The package includes early noon check in, champagne toast on arrival, surprise gift, admission for 2 with reserved seating and party favors at the party at the Church lounge where a replicate of the ball will descend through the atrium, passed hors d’ouevres, gourmet buffet, open bar 9p-1a, international DJ’s, champagne toast at midnight, a compilation CD and 6pm late checkout

Of course you could always join the masses for the ball drop in Times Square, but I’m not recommending that one!

No Encore Please

After all the talk of karaoke yesterday I led the USN group out on a little carrolling trip last night. First stop - Encore. A nice space and very large, HOWEVER, it seems impossible to ever get to sing since it's too packed (although that could've been because OK! was having their holiday party there). We fled that space quickly and went around the corner to Muse which was good as usual (AND no karaoke Nazi's this time!). "All These Things I've Done" by the Killers is still the top karoake song!



Looking to continue that office holiday party into the wee hours and entice people to make more of a fool of themselves than they just did at the company party? How about a little karaoke? One of the best places to rent a private room by the hour (yes, the banquets are vinyl) for anywhere from 2 to about 15 people is Sing Sing in the East Village. Open until 4am during the week and 6am on weekends, Sing Sing offers 16 private rooms of varying sizes where you can wail away the hits. They also usually don't say anything if you bring in your own beers. I was always gone to the Avenue A location but am glad to see they've opened up a new one on St. Mark's between 2nd & 3rd. A little more towards midtown is Muse Karaoke. Muse is a bit nicer and less crowded than Sing Sing, but last time I was there the karoake Nazi's cursed me out for bringing my own beers and smoking in the room. Oops! Karaoke One 7 is also a good spot in the Flatiron that tends to get a fun sing-a-long going at the bar as well as having the private rooms. If you really have the urge to perform in public, try Winnie's, a dive bar in Chinatown or Planet Rose in the East Village. The next place I want to check out is the new rock-n-roll karoake bar Encore in the Flatiron District. Sing it loud, sing it proud!

My Current Top 10 Karaoke Song List
1. "All These Things That I've Done" - The Killers
2. "Somewhere Only We Know" - Keane
3. "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" - The Darkness
4. "Wonderwall" - Oasis
5. "Roses" - Outkast
6. "1979" - Smashing Pumpkins
7. "No More Drama" - Mary J.
8. "Dark Lady" - Cher
9. "Angels" - Robbie Williams
10. "Babylon" - David Gray


Virgin Goes Domestic In America

Virgin America, a new budget airline from Sir Richard Branson, will launch in 2006 and will service major U.S. cities with hubs in New York and San Francisco. The launch budget is $177 million, the largest start-up investment of any airline in U.S. history. Virgin America intends to operate between 17-33 new narrow-body Airbus A320's which offer "the latest in technology and inflight entertainment".

Livin' My Life Like It's Golden . . .

It's official - the 2006 film & tv award season is under way with the announcement of the Golden Globe nominees this morning. I'm happy to say that the awards will not be dominated this year by period pieces. I'm most excited to see Brokeback Mountain and TransAmerica. Also, I still need to see A History Of Violence and Walk The Line. A few unexpected nods went out to Matt Dillon for Crash and Shirley MacLaine for In Her Shoes. Interestingly, 2 of the upcoming holidays biggies - King Kong and Memoirs Of A Geisha didn't do well with nominations at all.

On the tv front, I'm happy to say that the show will not be dominated by the Tommy Schlamme clique of Hollywood. The sad news is that HBO's The Comeback starring Lisa Kudrow as Aunt Sassy, didn't receive any nominations and was even more tragically not renewed for a second season - let's here a big BOOOOOOOOOOO to HBO! The good news is that Showtime's Weeds was nominated for best tv series (musical or comedy). Now let's just hope that Mary Louis Parker beats out all of those Desperate Housewives for best actress! Tune in to NBC on Monday January 16th to find out!


Back To Reality

Just a quick review of the Jamaica trip. The Rockhouse MORE than met our expectations this year. I highly recommend a trip to this hotel - it truely is PARADISE. Definitely worth upgrading to a premium villa. The other good news is that they are in the process of expanding their spa. For some reason, we didn't love hanging out at Idle Awhile as much as last year for our beach. Still, it's fun if you want beach though. We also heard a rumour that Idle is opening another outpost up on the cliffs near the lighthouse so that will be definitely worth checking out on the next visit.

Our off-site dinners were at 3 Dives and Norma's. I wanted to check out 3 Dives because Rob & Amber went there during the Amazing Race and it's right down the road from Rockhouse. The food was nothing spectacular, although they do have one of the best jerk sauces I've tasted and the the 4 grilled lobster tails for $20 with all the sides is a true bargain. Norma's is one of the only "gourmet" choices in Negril (Norma Shirley is considered a celebrity chef in Jamaica). The restaurant is in a small gazebo right on the beach. The decor was a little too Jamaica country for me, but the penne pasta with jerk chicken in a jerk marinara sauce was one of the greatest things I've EVER tasted and will be trying to recreate at home. A couple other notable dishes were the lobster fusili at Rockhouse and the grilled snapper sandwich with jerk mayonaise that they cook up on the grill at the pool bar.

We had Famous Vincent take us from Rockhouse down to the beach in his glass bottom boat. It was a fun ride until I hit my head getting out of the boat. Thank god the injury turned out to be just a good scrape and bump - I wasn't too happy with the thought of having to visit the tin shack known as the Negril Medical Center.


Happy Birthday Lady Spence!

She spent the day lying in the sun, eating lobster and drinking Red Stripes.


Greetings from Jamaica, Mon!

The good news - it's not snowing here! ;)

Just wanted to give a quick update since I know you are all missing me :)

We made it here an hour early on Saturday and you know every second counts. We have had lots of jerk, lobster and Red Stripe. Massages to die for. Rockhouse is even better than we remember and we are staying in the BEST premium villa they have! Lots of late night parties on our cliff deck overlooking the water. :) It has been 87 and sunny everyday! Everyone needs to book a trip to this place - no problem, mon! Off to sunset coctails at villa #8.

TrickyRick and The Lady Spence


A Musical Interlude

Since I'm heading out to Jamaica tomorrow and most likely will not be blogging for almost a week, I wanted to recommend 2 sites for streaming radio to keep you company. Radiofeeds.co.uk lists a ton of stations from the U.K. & Ireland and can be played through either Windows Media Player or Real Player. The best 2 on the list to hit are Virgin Radio(British indie) and Capital FM (Britpop). Also, check out WXRV, a great adult alternative station from little ol' Haverhill, MA (just click on their main page where it says "Listen Live").


Lower 5th Restaurants

I had a request of where to take clients to lunch whose office is on 15th & 5th. Here are the quick-thought suggestions:

Mesa Grill - Bobby Flay's southwestern cuisine rocks! (although the client is probably sick of it since it's right downstairs)

Rosa Mexicano - new outpost of the uptown fav - this would be my first choice

Union Square Cafe - tried & true NY fav - a little too country decor for my taste but of course excellent food and service

Blue Water Grill - another Union Square favorite - heavy on the seafood.

Hip Guide

Check out the Hip Guide for listings of the hottest bars, restaurants, shopping etc. for Boston, Chicago, Vegas, L.A., Miami, New York, San Francisco, London andParis.