Oscar Nods

Here is a partial list (just the main categories - not that I don't like to give props to the best boys and best key grips) of the Oscar nominations announced this AM. Get out there and start seeing those movies people! The show airs at 8pm on Sunday, March 6th on ABC

“Brokeback Mountain”
“Good Night, and Good Luck”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”
Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”
Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”
David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Judi Dench, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”
Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”
Keira Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”
Charlize Theron, “North Country”
Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line”

Supporting actor
George Clooney, “Syriana”
Matt Dillon, “Crash”
Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”
William Hurt, “A History of Violence”

Supporting actress
Amy Adams, “Junebug”
Catherine Keener, “Capote”
Frances McDormand, “North Country”
Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”
Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain”

Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”
Bennett Miller, “Capote”
Paul Haggis, “Crash”
George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck”
Steven Spielberg, “Munich”


Oscar Nominations

Tomorrow morning, 8:30am!

Tax Free Week

Don't forget that tax-free week runs now through February 5th. There will be no sales tax in NYC on clothing and shoes costing less than $110. Get out there and get yourself some new duds!

Sing Sing!

Saturday I led the pack over to the new branch of Sing Sing on St. Marks Pl. (between 2nd & 3rd) to celebrate the Chinese New Year in a proper fashion. I called from a few blocks away and they were nice enough to hold a room for us for 10 minutes until we were able to get there since they only had 1 left. It was a mere $8/hr per person which is totally reasonable. Since it is new, the rooms are obviously MUCH nicer than the original. The only downside is that there is a bar when you first walk in that was actually PACKED with what seemed to be a lot of students. Once inside the room though, all was fine and the cocktail room service kept flowing. I don't think you can bring in your own beer (you can at the original) and you definitely can't smoke in the rooms. All in all a very good experience though. Keep this one in mind for your next karaoke outing!


Happy Chinese New Year!

The year of the dog starts on Sunday. Here are some ideas to celebrate!

New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony - 12pm, Sunday Jan 29; Mott at Bayard

Drinks at: Double Happiness (party Sat night)

Karaoke at: Winnie's or Sing Sing

Dim Sum at: Joe's Shanghai

Dinner at: 66, Xing or Shun Lee

Or, better yet . . .

Just get take-out from Suzie's!


Abaya Is The New Burka

One More For Mexico

For some reason, I'm obviously feeling Mexico this week. So let's head a little further down the coast from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum. Check out the new little design hotel Mezzanine . There are only 4 suites in this beach-front hotel (rates are about $200/night). Each one features queen size platform beds, a wooden spiral staircase leading to a loft area with futon couch, bathrooms with italian design fixures and overhead rain showers. There is a private sundeck and plunge pool for guests. The on-site restaurant features classic beach cuisine combined with the fresh, zingy flavors of Thailand. There is also a lounge that features performance artists and guest DJ's from London & Ibiza. It's about 1 1/2 hrs and a $115 cab ride to visit the ruins of Tulum from Cancun.



Hooray! Chef Morimoto, the Japanese chef made famous from the Food Network show "The Iron Chef" is finally opening his NYC restaurant next week (he already has one in Philly) . Surprise, surprise - it's located in the theme park we know as MePa. Call now to get a reservation before it's impossible to get one! 212.989.8883

Mexican Riviera

About a 45 minute drive from Cancun is Playa Del Carmen - the center of the Mexican Riviera. Located right on the Carribean, the area did not take too much of a beating from Wilma and is totally up and running. There are 2 hotels there that I have been wanting to check out there.

The first is Hotel Deseo. Hoteliers Carlos Couturier and Moises Micha, Mexico's answer to Ian Schrager, created this 15-room design hotel on Avenida Quinta, Playa's main drag. Rooms are standard issue minimal with white flowing curtains and stark bathroom fixtures. A wire clothesline strung along one bare white wall is hung with unexpected amenities: sun hat, boxer shorts, beach bag, flip-flops, bananas, and the room-service menu. Balcony rooms have a hammock overlooking the Quinta. Non-stop house music is piped throughout the hotel, including in the rooms (which can be turned off if you aren't a fan). The big draw here is the outdoor "lounge" - by day a multi-decked pool area with mattresses and chaise lounges and by night a purple lit party space complete with a D.J. and lots of fashionistas.

Next stop, Deseo's newer sister Hotel Basico. This 15-room hideaway one block from the beach takes on an industrial-chic look, rather than the streamlined minimal look of Deseo. Each of the rooms has female names, floor-to-ceiling windows, white concrete walls, flat-screen televisions, free wireless internet throughout the property and pillow-top king-size beds. As with Deseo, the action centers around the pool area - which in this case is a rooftop deck with 2 "pools" (10-ft diameter oil drums) with Carribean views, four-poster vinyl beach beds, hammocks, deck chairs, and of course a bar with nightly parties.

The only drawback to both of these hotels is that they are not located right on the beach, however both provide guess passes to Mamita's - a tony beach club nearby. Both hotels can arrange for airport transfers for about $55. Room rates for both run $148-$218.


Guest Blogging

If anyone has any favorite hotels, restaurants, bar or other cool place/thing that they want to share on guestpackets, please let me know. I'd love to have guest bloggers send me short write ups to post on here.

My first one comes from Ms. Tracy. It's her review of some info that I previously posted on the site. Her posting is more of a testimonial than an adviser, but since I haven't posted any praises yet, then why not ! ? ! ? ! Let's get it started!


Hi everyone. I've asked Rich to allow me to guest-write a testimonial. First off, I must tell you, I LOVE THIS BLOG. And I have a good reason to (other than how much I love Richard)...

On an extremely busy day a couple of weeks ago, while doing my daily "let-me-check-the-blog-to-see-what's-up-today" routine, I found an entry about a wine-searching site. In late 2004 I tasted one of the best bottles I had ever had. It was so lovely that I decided to buy one as a gift for my true wine-connoisseur friend on a trip to Denmark last year. So imagine my surprise when I realized upon my return from Scandinavia that I couldn't find any more bottles in the city. For an entire year I went from store to store (including the winemaker's website!!!!) trying to find it to no avail. And then I came across the site that Richard shared with us winesearcher.com. It helped me find the last 11 bottles left in NYC!!!! Needless to say, I now have 6 bottles and my Danish friend has 5. We're ecstatic. Richie, please join me for a tasting anytime you like! Love and many thanks! Tracy

Mexican Boutique Hotels

I'm dreaming of warmth today. Knowing that my friend Kimmi K. is leaving for P.V. soon certainly doesn't help! Looking for a small hotel in Mexico? Check out mexicanboutiquehotels.com. Their hotels run the range from moderately priced to expensive and compile most of what is good from that country into one site by area. They also provide other helpful information about traveling to Mexico.


Todd Is A La-Z-Boy

One more for furniture. Go visit the recently opened
Todd Oldham by La-Z-Boy store - also in Soho just a block further south on Wooster. VERY funky fun stuff - maybe too much so for a small apartment (but that's your call!) - from the former fashion designer (now just "designer extrodinaire"). The store is small but carries all the pieces from the website with lots of fabric options. Very helpful staff as well.

Furniture Shopping

I've been searching for new furniture for the past few months. You would think in Manhattan it would be easy - but really it has been anything but! I found a great store in Soho I want to share with those of you who don't already know it - Room & Board (105 Wooster St). This is indeed a small chain (with outposts in cities like Chicago and San Francisco) with a great website as well. The SoHo store is 4 floors and they have an extensive catalog (request one online). Service at the store is EXCELLENT - all the employees are very friendly and knowledgeable. Prices are fairly reasonable as well. Definitely worth a visit - check it out!


Pure Living

I just heard about this therapy called Migun. It's basically a combination of accupuncture and chiropratics. It's a massage without stripping or being oiled up and touched. You lay on an automated table and jade massage heads work the vital pressure points and radiate a healing heat in the form of infrared rays. Check out the spa Pure Living: Migun in Soho. They offer a 1-hr session for $28! No appointment necessary - just walk in. They also offer yoga in combination. Definitely looks intesting. Let me know if you try it!


Great Escapes

I recently came across the website i-escape.com that bills itself as "the insider's guide to the world's best hideaways". There is definitely some cool stuff on this site including destination guides and hotel bookings. This is actually where I discovered intobarcelona.com. I love the hotel reviews here because they always have a list of "highs" and "lows" about the hotel. My favorite section of the site is the "Dream" section - a place to check out "this month's most inspiring places". You can sign up for a great newsletter of hidden gems as well.


A Hot Ticket

Grab your tickets now to see Ms. Julia Roberts make her Broadway debut in the highly anticipated Three Days of Rain. In case the story even MATTERS, it centers around three characters - Nan (Julia Roberts), her brother Walker (played by Paul Rudd) and their friend Pip (played by Bradley Cooper), who all meet in New York to divide the legacy of their late fathers who were partners in a renowned architecture firm. In an effort to bring some peace to their own lives, the three search for clues that might explain what had gone on between their fathers, and the women in their lives, decades before. Previews begin March 28th with an April 19th opening and a limited run through June 18th. Tix are $101.25-$61.25 and are available online or by phone through Telecharge. Currently, the tickets are still on pre-sale and can only be purchased using an American Express card. The general on-sale date is January 29th.


IFC Is The New Waverly

If you haven't already tried tried the new IFC Film Center (formerly the famous Waverly Theater) in the heart of the Village on 6th Ave. @ W. 3rd, now is the time to do so! Currently showing is TransAmerica, the film that won Felicity Huffman the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama last night. A perfect movie for your first visit, this movie is fantastic and I'm totally routing for Felicity for the Oscar - she is AMAZING in it! The IFC has 3 state-of-the-art theaters (a 220-seater on the ground floor and 2 smaller ones upstairs) . Unlike the DREADFUL Angelika theater - there is no disturbance from the subway underground due to soundproofing panels. Seating is partially stadium and the seats are VERY comfortable and cushy with arm separaters that lift up to make a cozy love seat. Stop by the restaurant next door for for happy hour priced drinks and 15% off the bill with your movie stub! The bonus feature - the theater shows no commercials before the movie!


Golden Globes

Don't forget to tune in Monday night on NBC at 8pm for the Golden Globes. Download your ballot and place your bets people! Not that anyone cares, but here are my predictions for the winners of the top categories (not necessarily my choices!):

Best Picture - Drama

Best Picture - Musical or Comedy

Best Television Series - Drama

Best Television Series - Comedy

This last category is definitely fixed - Desperate is OVER - the real winner should be:


Eat Out, Eat Healthy

I'd had a request for restaurants in NY that served healthy lighter options to all of the heavy comfort foods served at this time of the year (plus upscale enough to take clients to). Here are a few suggestions:

Perry Street (176 Perry St. @ West End) is my first suggestion (yes, I'm still a bit blown over by it). All of the ingredients were very fresh (really, the best piece of cod I've had), and very light sauces, but still with a wintery feel. The reservation policy is the only drawback.

fresh. (105 Reade btw Church & W. Broadway) Seafood is always healthy (if not fried or slathered); Zagat describes this as "exquisite yet no pretense seafood that tastes like you just caught it".

Pure Food & Wine (54 Irving Pl btw 17th & 18th) Check out Pure if you want to jump on board the raw foods craze! Great garden area for warm weather.

Blue Hill (75 Washington Pl. between 6th & MacDougal) A "modern townhouse setting" in the Village where the Zagat says the chef "follows the food from the farm to the plate" with "simple but sublime preparations".


A Pair Of Scissors

Good news Scissor Sisters fans! The band has announced that the follow-up to their debut album will be released sometime in the late Spring, with a tour expected to follow in the summer months. Expect a lot of surprises like collaborations from the likes of Elton John and a 25-member choir " composed soley of unemployed Brooklyn hairdressers". For those of you unfamiliar with this band from Brooklyn, check out their self-titled break-out album featuring the hits "Take Your Mama Out", "Laura" and "Filthy Gorgeous" and their DVD "We Are Scissor Sisters . . . And So Are You" which contains live performances and a documentary. Part disco, part 80's and part glam-rock, Bono and Duran Duran are huge fans of the band - and you should be too!


More Barca

If the IntoBarcelona apartments are not for you, then try the hotel Casa Camper (yes, it is owned by the Camper shoe company). This new chic cozy hotel located in the El Ravel district has 25 rooms (both standards and suites). The standards (affectionately called the 1 + 1’s) are actually 2 rooms located across the hall from each other. The first room is the standard bedroom/bathroom combination and features a king-size bed (a rare find in Europe) and a flat-screen tv. Across the hall in the second room is your own private lounge featuring a hammock, sofa, table & chairs and another flat-screen tv. The suites are more like a regular hotel suite with the bedroom & lounge integrated into the same space and containing the same amenities as the 1 + 1’s with the addition of a small balcony. Free wi-fi is accessible in all rooms. Sadly, the hotel doesn’t offer room service, however they do have a “tentempie” (read: funky canteen room) that is open 24-hours and offers FREE hot & cold snacks such as omelets, pastries, sandwiches, chips, fruit, soft drinks and water. Posted rack rates for the off-season (which are all months except May, June, September & October) are 200 euros for a standard and 220 euros for a suite, double occupancy (single occupancy for both is a bit cheaper). Oh, one more thing - the hotel does not allow smoking anywhere on it’s premises. Note to self: good for the new me, bad for some of my travel companions.


Into Barcelona

While recently researching accomodations in Barcelona, I came across the website intobarcelona.com. This site offers accomodations in the form of designer apartments in the hip El Born district at pretty reasonable rates. I inquired about penthouse with 2 bedrooms/2 baths/2 living rooms separated by a full kitchen (oh, and best of all 4 balconies!) for only 235 euros/night! They also have loft studios, one bedrooms etc that run around 150 euros/night. The coolest part of this company is that they also put together interesting "tours" for you which include cooking, art, wine, shopping, etc. (you don't have to do one to stay there though). The one that sounds great to me is the tapas tour where a chef picks you up at your flat and takes you to La Boqueria, a food market with over 330 stalls, and helps you shop for spanish ingredients. They they take you back to the flat and teach you how to make authentic Catalonian tapas. Then you eat all the food you make and drink all the wine they helped you pick out! If you can live without daily maid service and room service and like to try alternative accomodations, this company is definitely a find.


Hotel Diva

I had a request for a hotel in San Francisco. I would recommend Hotel Diva near Union Square. It's very centrally located and the stylish rooms run about $150/night. I stayed there a few years ago and really liked it.


Find Wine

Trying to track down a favorite bottle of wine? Use wine-searcher.com. Search results include the wine merchants near your location, the estimated number of bottles they have in stock and the prices. They also recommend wines and you can view the top searches to see what other connoiseurs are looking for. Cheers!


Boston Eats

I got a request to supplement the Boston section with some restaurants. So much has changed since I've really hung out there that I'll have to do a bit of research for the new hotspots, but here are some tried and true favorites that are still hanging around . . .

First off - I just discovered Boston now has it's own menupages.com! Very handy!

Asian: Jae's Cafe & Grill - Jae's is my fav. They have Korean, Thai, Chinese and sushi. I still prefer the original location in a South End brownstone on Columbus, but there is another location in the Back Bay at Boylston & Exeter.

Eclectic/Scene: Sonsie - International cuisine for a hip crowd on upper Newbury. The last time I went by there Drew Barrymore was eating there.

Mexican: Border Cafe - this one is across the river in Cambridge on Church St. in Harvard Square. Always packed, great food, CHEAP prices! Sadly, no reservations, but go pick up a beeper and browse the stores around the square.

Pizza/Pasta: Figs - Celebrity chef Todd English's (of Olives fame) more casual bistro on Charles St. in Beacon Hill.

Seafood: Most "outta-townas" go to the Boston-originated chain Legal Sea Foods (locations in Copley & Prudential). Recently, I've wanted to try Jasper White's Summer Shack (near the old Lowe's Cheri Theater opposite the Sheraton on Dalton St.).

French Bistro: Hamersley's Bistro - Cozy upscale South End bistro run by favorite Boston chef Gordon Hamersley.

Brewery/Bar Food: Boston Beer Works - located just outside of Kenmore near Fenway Park - serving thirsty Sox fans since 1992.


Happy 2006 !

Hope everyone is having a great new year! A few music notes to get the year started . . .

Keane announced they will release their follow-up album to "Hopes & Fears" this spring. Looking forward to seeing them live since "Somewhere Only We Know" is one of my fav songs and always high on the karaoke list!

Speaking of karaoke, Oxygen on Demand (chanel 1017 on Time Warner Cable) now offers karaoke! The song list isn't huge, but they do have standards like "Flashdance", "Footloose" and "Sexual Healing". Now I just have to figure out how to hook a microphone up to the tv. My neighbors are gonna love me . . .

First show of 2006 not to be missed - Saint Etienne at Irving Plaza on Feb 13th!

And finally, Ms. Sandra Bernhard has released her first new studio album in 10 years entitled "Gems Of Mystery". It's only available on her website for now. Also available is a new live cd.