Amazing Race 9

Get that DVR programmed people, as tonight marks the return of The Amazing Race! Thankfully, Series 9 returns to the original award-winning format, forgoing the whinging families!

Guilty As Charged! (Or Why Not Just Let Him Go Free AGAIN!)

I mean really people! How is this mess stumbling around free all the time? Here's the latest:

Pete Doherty, the Babyshambles singer and ex-Mr. Moss, was held in Birmingham on Monday night on suspicion of stealing a car and possession of class A drugs. Doherty was released on police bail pending further enquiries and is due in court next week (March 8) to review the 12-month community order he recieved after pleading guilty to a series of drugs offences earlier in the year.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Sandy's Back!

I'm happy to announce that Sandra Berhard is opening her new one-woman show Everything Bad And Beautiful at the Daryl Roth Theater in Union Square (thank god it's off-broadway this time - the last major show she did really didn't translate well with a full-on Broadway setting). The show is an extravaganza of Sandra’s brand of wild comedy, reckless rock ‘n’ roll and her trademark social commentary. Sandra recently presented the show in Los Angeles and received critical and audience acclaim. The Los Angeles Times raved “Bernhard offers an electrifying fusion of lethal satire and sizzling rock ‘n’ roll. The celebrity jabs, epigrams and pregnant pauses, have new mature poise that doubles their impact. Her singing voice has become a powerful instrument. The band is smashing. So is the imitable artist who fronts them, in her richest turn yet!” Previews being March 29th with an opening April 5th and runs through June 25th. Ticket prices run $35-$70.


FP Expands!

I was at my local (FP) on Saturday and I was happy to hear that Jason is finally opening another space - this one even further downtown in the financial district. The sequel, known as Trinity Place, is set to open at the end of March (they're shooting for Paddy's Day, although they are still in the middle of construction and think they may need a little "luck o' the Irish" to make that happen). It will be located a block south of Century 21 in of a former bank vault. The initial menu posted on their website looks delish. The chef (who is also a partner) Donal Crosbie has worked under Wolfgang Puck, David Bouley and most recently was executive chef at Morrell Wine Bar. Their wine buyer, Mark Devine was formally wine adviser to The Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. Mr. Devine is compiling an eclectic collection of American and New World wines, including small, boutique wineries, to compliment chef Crosbie's menu which will feature a combination of European and American cuisines. From what I can guess Sandy will be taking her act downtown as well to get the bar up and running (a major loss for the regulars at the original). I'll post more updates as they come.


Celebrate Fat Tuesday At Home!

Give cajun cooking a try at home with a little help from my near-namesake Zatarain's. Pick up a box of jambalaya or gumbo mix, add chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp and you're good to go!

Fat Tuesday In Chicago

To celebrate Fat Tuesday in Chicago, hit one of the locations of my fav Heaven On Seven.

Fat Tuesday in NYC

A few suggestions for some down-home N’Awlins cookin’ to celebrate Mardi Gras & Fat Tuesday (the day of gluttony before the start of Lent on the following day, Ash Wednesday):

Acme Bar & Grill - 9 Great Jones (bet Broadway & Lafayette)

Great Jones Cafe - 54 Great Jones St. (bet. Broadway & Lafayette)

The Cajun - 129 8th Ave. (@ 16th St.)

Sazerac House - 533 Hudson St. (@ Charles St.)

The Delta Grill - 700 9th Ave. (@ 48th St.)

Mara's Homemade - 342 E. 6th St.(bet. 1st & 2nd Aves.)

The French Quarter - 102 E. 25th St. (bet. Lex & Park)

Jacques-Imo's Cafe - 366 Columbus Ave. (@ 77th St.)


Hide Awhile Villas

Idle Awhile, the hotel that we usually hang at on the beach in Negril, has opened up a sister property on the cliffs just up the road from Rockhouse called Hide Awhile Villas. I don't have a lot of info on the property. From their website I have learned there are 3 villas (that look great from the pictures), each with two full bathrooms, one king-sized bed, one full-sized bed, two verandahs, a private outdoor shower, a kitchen and a washer and dryer. There is a "tanning deck" sitting on the cliff with access to the water. Not sure what the food situation is there, although I did hear on our last trip from one of the Idle regulars that the Ital chef that used to cook down at the beach location is now cooking up there. I haven't read any reviews yet, but will update this if I do. This place definitely looks like an alternative to considered if Rockhouse is fully booked (it seems to be getting harder and harder to get in there). You can always just sleep at Hide Awhile and hang at the pool /eat at Rockhouse since it's so close by. Rates are $330 until March 31, $228 from April 1 - December 14th.

The New American Idol

I want to state for the record that my early prediction for this year's American Idol is Chris Daughtry (his version of "Wanted Dead or Alive" last night rocked!). I think Paris Bennett will definitely give him a run for his money since their styles are so different. I also totally love Kellie Pickler, but sadly I don't think she's QUITE good enough to beat out those 2. Tune in tonight to see if they all make it through to the final 12!


Footballer's Wive$

This past weekend I watched Series 2 of Footballer's Wive$ (even though I had never seen Series 1). I'd like to urge everyone to check out this scandalous British drama. It's total hotness! The Desperate Housewives have NOTHING on this crew! Full of secrets and lies - this is a show where "everone plays dirty"! Series 1 & 2 are available on DVD and portions of Series 2 are available on BBC America On Demand. Series 3 just began airing this past Sunday on BBC America (new episodes air Sundays @ 10pm). I guess I may FINALLY have to end the boycott of BBC America that I've been on for the past 3 years since they stopped airing EastEnders (I don't think I can hold out for Footballer's 3 to come out on DVD). Actually, though, I'm not a Nielsen family so TECHNICALLY BBCA doesn't know that I'm NOT watching (if you are a Nielsen family, PLEASE don't watch their cheap-ass network!). So I guess I'll secretly have to watch ONLY Footballer's and continue to badmouth the network until they bring back EastEnders!


Ryan Humphrey @ DCKT

Check out the Ryan Humphrey show at DCKT Contemporary. The paintings are a series of practice targets of varying sizes that have been riddled with bullet holes.

Rosa Mexicano Union Square

Saturday I tried the new branch of Rosa Mexicano in Union Square. While sitting in the David Rockwell designed space, I couldn't help but feel like I was in Vega$. The space is large and very appealing to the eye, however it takes on that air of a theme park. And with that theme park comes a HUGE plus - there is a great deal of space between tables - something you RARELY see in NY!

As for the food, I now remember why I haven't been back since I tried the UWS branch 5 years ago (and not just because it's located on the UWS). Don't get me wrong - it isn't bad - it's just WAY overdone. Why does every dish need so many ingredients? Why does everything spicy have to have something sweet in the sauce?

I had the Pescado al Guajillo (pan-seared Chilean sea bass with a jalapeño potato cake, swiss chard and guajillo chile-pineapple-passion fruit sauce). The sea bass was a nice piece of fish - but who could taste it with that much going on in the sauce. The potato cake reminded me more of scalloped potatoes than a cake, with only a bit of a zing. The Lady Spence had the Tacos de Carne Asada
(grilled marinated skirt steak with Chihuahua cheese, charro beans, roasted corn esquites and salsa chile de arbol). Again, just too much. She didn't hate it, but didn't love it either.

The two best bets that make it worth the trip are the guacamole prepared tableside (go with the spicy - we went with the medium and thought it definitely could've been kicked up a bit more) and the pommegranite margaritas (served frozen only). I would recommend to visit here on a weeknight and to sit at the bar and have drinks and get the guac, however then it won't be made fresh tableside. So I guess just grab a table and try to combine your visit here into a rep lunch.


Shopping Chaos

It's time again for the bi-annual Barney's warehouse sale. It started yesterday and runs through Monday March 1st. The sale features 50-75% off regular prices on designer clothing, suits, shoes & accessories for men, women, baby and home. 255 West 17th Street (between 7th & 8th).

Almost Like New

Is your iPod all scratched up? If so, try Ice Crème, an acrylic cover-up polish. At this point, it's only available in white, so mini & black owners, you're out of luck! $20.95 from RadTech.


Dooblin Sleeps

I got a request for a hotel in Dublin. I've got 2.

First up is The Clarence, which is owned by U2. Centrally located in Temple Bar right on the Liffey, The Clarence was one of the first establishments to bring hipness to the neighborhood. No two rooms in this hotel are alike. Each is decorated in one of the hotel's five signature colours (crimson, royal blue, amethyst, gold and chocolate) and contains Shaker-style furniture, specially crafted beds with Egyptian linens and spacious white tiled bathrooms with pedestal sinks and oak cabinets. The Octagon Bar off the lobby is still one of the hippest (and priciest) pubs in Temple Bar (important note: the Irish are not very good with mixing specialty drinks, ESPECIALLY margaritas, so don't waste your money on them here!) The restaurant, The Tea Room, is great for an occasion and features upscale Irish food with a continental twist based around all fresh ingredients. After dinner, check out the basement club called The Kitchen where the likes of U2 pals like Kylie have been known to shake it into the wee hours. Renovated in 1995, this used to be an affordable design hotel to stay in prior to the introduction of the Euro. Now, a basic room will set you back a steep 325 euros (but check the website for specials - the rate drops quite a bit in Winter especially).

Next up is The Morrison, located across the Liffey on the north side, a bit further west of the Clarence. Also a design hotel, The Morrison's interior is a mix of high ceilings with pale white walls, original art, stone floors and beautiful grey hand crafted Irish carpets. The beds are plush and the room service is delish! Rooms at the Morrison tend to run about 100 euro less than the Clarence and also post great deals on their websites. They also keep their bar open after hours for guest only which is a plus since the pubs close so early.

At the end of the day, after having stayed at both, I think I'd go with the Morrison. Less touristy and without the U2 glitz, the service at the Morrison is impecable. While staying there, my friend Suz lost her debit card and the staff couldn't have been more accomodating to help us out. It's simply more bang for a weak buck.


St. Etienne @ Irving

A quick review of the Saint Etienne show. The show was PHENOMENAL and as usual didn't disappoint. Sarah looked and sounded amazing. The new material was great - especially "Stars Above Us" and "Oh My". Sadly, the crowd jeered a bit when they played their latest single "Side Streets" (it's a great song but slow and I think it was a bit misplaced near the end of the show when things had already kicked up). The high points, were of course, the classics - my favorites of the night being "Who Do You Think You Are" and "Like A Motorway". They also had a fab backup singer who looked just like Little Mo from Eastenders. Check out their new CD Tales From Turnpike House - it's a concept album that highlights a day from morning until night in a housing project!

Women & Their Toys

I had a bit of a strange request recently . . . what is a good sex shop in NY that is not too sleazy that a woman can comfortable go to. Answer: Toys In Babeland. There are 2 locations - 43 Mercer & 94 Rivington (also locations in Seattle & L.A.). The owners opened the first Babeland store in Seattle in 1993 in response to the lack of women-friendly sex shops. The store offers top quality products, a pleasant place to shop, and most of all information and encouragement to women who wanted to explore their sexuality. They even offer classes! If you still can't get up the courage to go visit, then just order online! The website offers lots of great tips as well! Oh, men are welcome too!


LONDON FARE SALE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alert people! My favorite Airfarewatchdog found a fare of $408 r/t to London through Travelocity on Virgin for ANY DAY between now and December! TAX INCLUDED! It's been up for about a day so a lot of June/July are booked but have a look - you will NEVER get a summer fare to London for this price! Here's how to book it:

1. Go to Travelocity
2. Type in JFK or EWR to LON
3. Click on "flexible dates"
4. Pick the months you want to go.
5. Select the Virgin fare of $196 (that's before the tax) and you are good to go!


Menu Pages Expands

Menupages has expanded it's service to include free menu listings for Boston, Chicago and San Franciso with L.A. and D.C. on the way. If you have already chosen NY as your base city, you can click on "Change City" at the top right of the screen to view the others.

New EV Birthday Venue

A new bar is quiety opening this weekend - the Blue Owl (196 2nd Ave, at 12th, Basement level, no sign, 212.505.BLUE); Rumor has it they have a 20-person private room hidden behind a two-way mirror. When you book it, you get a password (texted to your phone just before your reservation), two hours of all-you-can-drink, a dedicated waitress, and your own bathroom. No word yet on the price for all of this luxury. If anyone tries it, please send me your review!


For those of you that follow British music, check out NME.com (if you haven't already). This site is the online version of the British tabloid music newspaper of the same name (which stands for New Music Express - in case you were interested). This site is a great source for all the latests info on all of your favorite British indie & Brit pop bands (it's also where I just got the info for the previous Madonna post - so for that info, I think they deserve to be added to the sidebar links!)

Madonna Set For Summer Tour

Yes, that's right folks, yesterday Madonna confirmed on the Ellen Degeneres Show that she will indeed be touring this summer to support her lastest CD "Confessions On A Dancefloor"! No details yet, but I'll definitely keep you posted!



If you want to read my blog (or anything online for that matter) in jive, go to http://www.gizoogle.com/ and plug in "not without my guest packet" into the search box. My nizzy is Tricky Rizzay!

Design Hotels

I just made a booking online for Hotel Basico in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and as it turns out, the reservation system they use is linked to one of my favorite sites that I haven't mentioned here yet, designhotels.com. The credo behind this website is: truly stylish hotels are more than just an address for designer furniture and sleek lobbies. The emphasis of this site is on individuality and how a concept is brought to life through a mix of local influences, forward-thinking design, architecture, cutting-edge technology and personalized service. Blah, blah, blah . . . I know, how Wallpaper* is that! Currently, they have 136 member hotels located in 41 countries.

Their descriptions are what really draws me in. Basico is described as a hotel "themed around basic concepts with a strong local identity" that "challenges preconceived notions of what a design hotel should be, evoking images of an essential Mexico, glamorous, style-savvy and evidently young". Love it! I'm adding this one to the sidebar links. Have a look around and book a room at one of their special member hotels!


Grab Some Sun In Miami

Airfarewatchdog alterted me this morning that American Airlines is offering $67 roundtrip fares (about $93 with the taxes) from NYC to Miami. You have to travel Mon-Thurs now through May. Get in there - this won't last long!

The Grammy's

Don't forget the Grammy Awards are on tonight @ 8pm on CBS. The most-hyped performances of the night include the opening number with Madonna with video band the Gorillaz, U2 with Mary J., Ms. Mariah, Jamie Foxx w/Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay.
(Madge stranded on arrival at LAX - no Guy in site - are they splitting? Nah!)


Air Fare Searches

I've been turning to flight search engines lately that search multiple properties at once. 2 of the best I've found are kayak.com and mobissimo.com. Bookmark these sites (and I'll post a link to them on this site in the left column). Before booking any flights it is always a smart idea to double-check prices there to make sure you haven't missed anything. I've noticed that typically the airlines offer the best prices on their own sites, however via these sites I've been seeing some interesting stuff turn up on Cheaptickets, Travelocity, etc.

Also, a reminder. I still highly recommend signing up for the airfarewatchdog newsletter. They find some great fares that are quick sales, mistake fares, etc. that only last minutes. Last week I got the email that there were flights to Paris for $300 (including tax) from NY. I went on and saw the flights available and 10 minutes later they were gone. You gotta act fast people!


Get Some Direction

Check out hopstop.com. It's a new site that provides door-to-door subway and bus directions and maps for New York City. You can also search for places to eat, drink, sleep in the city guides section. Register your cell phone and use texting to get directions when you are away from your computer. Besides NY, there are Beta versions available for Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC. (This tidbit come courtesy of Trace - thanks for the tip!)


Superbowl Sunday

Sunday is the big game and a good excuse to party (like we need one!). If you want to go out to watch the game but are looking for an alternative to the drunken butt-heads irish/sports bar experience, try the pool bar at Andre Balaz's Hotel QT. $15 will get you a bottomless cup of beer (a full bar is also available) and the game projected on the wall. Chips and corndogs will be served, but if you are still hungry you can order in your own take-out! Just don't steal any of those kegs that will be floating in the pool.

Dog Sees God

The other night I went with Suz to see the off-broadway play Dog Sees God. The premise of this parody is to show what would happen if Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts characters grew up. The show stars Eddie Kaye Thomas (you know him as the guy who slept with Stifler's mom in the American Pie movies) as CB (that's Charlie Brown) and Eliza Dushku (Bring It On) as Van's Sister (that's Lucy). The rest of cast is made up of up-and-coming young actors, each of which certainly held their own with their performances of this odd bunch of characters. There is definitely a lot of humor in learning how each character has transformed over the 10 years into their high school personas (I don't want to give any of this away here in case anyone is going - let's just say all of the teen stereotypes are represented).

This is a black comedy (sometimes maybe even a little too dark). At times I felt like I was watching a high school production and at other times experimental theater. Then there were times that it was light and I found myself really enjoying it. After 2 days, I am still not quite sure what to think of it - maybe it was just trying to be too many things at once. I think the script could've been a bit tighter (there were scenes that went on a bit too long and sidetracked) and I'm still not quite sure if there was one big message I was supposed to take away from it. Even though it was a bit heavy handed and preachy at times, in the end the Peanuts-related one-liners did bring a smile to my face.

Would I recommend it? . . . well that depends. I went for $4 (thank you Suz and your theater club) and it was TOTALLY worth that (although most live theater is). Friday nights they do a show at 10pm for $25 - that could be fun. Also, if you go to the box office and show them a picture of a dog (it doesn't have to be your own) you can get 2-for-1 tickets (except for for the Fri. night show) - that might be ok too. But the $65 full-price admission fee is definitely over the top unless you are a huge fan of one of the stars or of Peanuts in general.

Fashion Week NYC

Today marks the start of fashion week. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Kate Moss (with or without her AMAZING accessories)!


The Magic Numbers

Don't forget to grab the free download single on iTunes this week! It's called "Love Me Like You" and is by a great new British indie band called The Magic Numbers. They are nominated for a Brit award this year for British Breakthrough Act. Check 'em out!

Blunt Returns

For those of you who missed him the first time around, James Blunt returns to NY (this time to Webster Hall) on March 14th & 15th. Even though the venue sucks, check him out there if you can! Tickets are available on Ticketweb. If it's sold out (I'm not even sure that they've gone on sale yet), then keep checking back there as they tend to always add more closer to the date.


The Ice Hotel - Quebec

I know we all want some warmth right now, but since it is going to be in the 50's in NYC again tomorrow, I figured I could post this (plus, it's seasonal). How about a quick jaunt to Quebec for a visit to the Ice Hotel?

Here's the deal: The Ice Hotel’s four foot thick walls act as an excellent insulator and helps maintain a constant temperature, acting similarly to a “Thermos”. The temperatures inside the Ice Hotel remain between 28° to 23°F (which is usually warmer than the outside). Open from early January to the beginning of April, the Ice Hotel covers an area of 30,000 ft2 and is composed of 400 tons of ice and 12,000 tons of snow. The hotel recommends dressing in 3 layers and a pre-departure info guide is available. All furniture is made of ice (including the bed, although it does have a solid wood box that separates it from the snow floor). Completing the bed is a foam mattress covered by a fleece sheet and either wool blankets or deer pelts. Extra warm sleeping bags are also delivered to your room at night. Heated bathrooms/showers are located in a nearby facility. Go for drinks at the Absolut ice-bar or the N'Ice dance club and then hit the outdoor heated hot tubs and saunas. Other outdoor activities include snowmobile rides, dogsled rides and ice fishing. Oh, they also have an Ice Chapel where you can get married!

And let's not forget the U.S. $ is so much stronger in Canada than in Sweden (home of the original ice hotel). Room rates run about $300/night.