Summer Vacation

Tomorrow night I'm finally off on my long awaited trip to London. I am staying at a great hotel and have a lot planned including a couple of west end shows and some serious dinner reservations, so I should have a lot of great reviews and recommendations when I return. I most likely will not blog again until I return to the real world next Tuesday, so I want to wish all of my loyal readers a Happy Labor Day and an action-packed end to the summer!


Last night I went to an office send-off party at Aquavit. If you haven't been there, both the food and decor are Scandanvian by design. I started off with a lemonciello coctail sent over to our group by chef Marcus Samuelsson. DELISH, and such a nice touch for the end of summer! If you aren't familiar with the drink aquavit, it's a distilled spirit infused with various combinations of herbs, spices and fruits. This restaurant offers about 20 different housemade versions (you can have flights of 3 for $17), many of which are used in their specialty coctails. The hors d'oeuvres were equally as impressive as the aquavit - the most notable being a small swedish meatball sitting upon a small layer of mashed potato with a few lingonberries on the side and topped off with a cucumber slice, served on a silver spoon! OUTSTANDING! The decor of the main dining room was a bit too wooden and cold for me, however I really enjoyed the bar area which has a long bar at one end and a small lounge area with Egg chairs and Swan sofas. Aquavit's dinner menu is a 3-course $80 prix-fixe. I'd maybe recommend skipping that, cosying up to the bar, trying MANY of the aquavits and ordering some nibbles from the lounge menu.


Kiki & Herb - Alive & Well

Went to see the new Kiki & Herb broadway show "Alive On Broadway" on Saturday night. For those of you that have seen the dynamic duo before, Kiki & Herb are a drag act who portray old washed-up drunken lounge singers. They play musical numbers (both random covers and their own material) while weaving in stories of their past (and having lots of coctails). I'm happy to report that about 2/3 of the material was new (but of course they still serve up their usual schtick about how they met, Kiki's daughter Miss D. and the poor little cow in the manger). Gracing a broadway stage of course means upgrading the sets/costumes. I LOVED Kiki's first swinging seventies outfit which was followed up in the second act by a little black party dress. The main part of the set was a "giving tree" that looked like a tree trunk which had lots of drink holders carved into it and various seats on which Kiki could perch while pouring her heart out. Overall, I really liked the show (as did the audience) and did not feel that it was a sell-out by any means. My only complaint was the editing. At times, portions of the show went on for WAY too long (it had a running time of almost 2 1/2 hrs). In Act I, the two were in top form and had the audience howling. Act 2 got dark very quickly and the darkness dragged on for too long which made it difficult for them to real the audience back in for the more campy uplifting finale and encore. The main highlights for me (read: spoiler) included covers of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and the Scissor Sisters' "Take Your Mama". Unless you've never seem them, the show doesn't quite warrant the steep $90 ticket price. There doesn't seem to be any discounts out there for this show either, but it may be worth trying to get them through TKTS for 1/2 price on the day of the show you want to go to (although the night I went it was near to sold-out). The run only has a week and a half left so you gotta act fast if you want to catch them.



If you find yourself in the East Village craving the munchies and don't want to deal with lines or counter help, check out Bamn! on St. Mark's between 2nd & 3rd. Opening Tuesday, Bamn will be full of futuristic metal vending machines containing items like fried chicken, pizza dumplings and mac 'n cheese pockets with pricetags between $1.50-$2.50 per item (obviously you're going to want to buy more than one!). Real live chefs are on hand to restock the machines (which take $1 coins or quarters - available from the on-site change machine) and to serve up belgian fries (the only food that by-passes the metal).

The Killers

Tix go on sale today at noon for The Killers at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on October 24th & 25th through Ticketmaster. The guys will be on tour supporting their new CD Same's Town which releases on October 3rd. If you haven't heard their new single Smile Like You Mean It, check it out - it ROCKS!

Keane Rescheduled

The new Keane show will be on Wednesday, September 27th. Same venue. Original tickets will be honored, or they can be refunded at point of purchase. If you didn't get tickets the first time around, now's your chance to stalk Ticketmaster to grab some of the returns!


Postponed Only!

CNN.COM reports that Keane is only POSTPONING the U.S. tour, not cancelling. New dates announced in the next few days. Hooray! (provided they don't conflict with my VERY busy schedule!).

Membership Changes Everything

American Express is launching a special celebration in NY for it's cardmembers. The promotion will offer free, special access to some of the best music, sports, theater, film and dining that New York has to offer. The activities begin on August 29 with a free private concert with Kanye West at the Nokia Theatre. Over the course of five weeks, AmEx will be giving away the following:

1,000 tickets for the 2006 U.S. Open
6,000 tickets for 16 hit Broadway shows
50,000 tickets for any film at select movie theaters
1,400 free meals at some of New York’s hottest restaurants

All you have to do is be a cardmember (or employee) and log onto the Membership Changes Everything website and register for each of the promotions. You can sign up for emails to remind you to register for each of the giveaways. Good luck!

The Evil Of Drink & Drugs

I'm very sad to report that Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of Keane, has entered rehab for alcohol & drug abuse and that the upcoming U.S. tour has been cancelled. Maybe he can share a room with Pete Doherty . . .


The Dunaway

Friday I had lunch at The Dunaway in Portsmouth, N.H. . This was not a random choice; I went because owner/chef Mary Dumont was recently chosen as one of the "Best New Chefs" by Food & Wine. If you find yourself in the Seacoast area, I would highly recommend a visit. The restaurant is housed inside of a historic farmhouse in Strawbery Banke . The cuisine draws heavily from fresh, local seafood and produce (including rare herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in Mary's garden behind the restaurant). Since it was lunch, we kept it simple, splitting 2 dishes. The lobster roll, served on a square brioche roll slice diagonally down the middle, had a nice sweet rich taste. The croque madam was full of melted gruyere. Don't even get me started about how good the most important part of any lunch, the homemade lightly seasoned french fries, were! Seeing as this was a celebration of both food AND wine, I ordered a glass of red. The waitress (who was SUPERB by the way) recommended a full-bodied Sorella. I'll admit it was DELICIOUS, I just wish I had known it was going to be $16/glass. Who knew they could charge that in little ole' Portsmouth! Lesson learned: ALWAYS ask to see the wine list no matter WHERE you are eating!


Barney's Warehouse Sale

It's that time again people! No explanation necessary (I'm sure). Here's the 411: 255 W. 17th St (between 7th & 8th); weekdays 10am-9pm, weekends 10am-7pm; now through September 4th.

Table Bookings

I just discovered this online restaurant reservation service for the U.K., Dublin, Paris and Barcelona and Rome called Top Table. It's simliar to Open Table here in the U.S. The best part about this service though is that if you book through them, they offer specials (mostly just for London at this point) at many of the restaurants (like 25% off the a la carte menu, etc.). With the $ being the crap that it is against the GBP, these savings can be significant!


Chelsea Handler

On Friday night I was happy to discover that the new season of The Chelsea Handler Show was starting up again on E!. For those of you who don't know Chelsea she is hilarious - always very un-p.c. and always very WRONG! The format is sort of like the Da Ali G. Show only way more funny. She basically always puts herself into situations and acts completely clueless to how someone should behave. The show repeats almost nightly (this is E! people!) around 10p-12a and new episodes air on Fridays at 10:30pm. Check her out!

No Carry-on Bags Allowed

As many of you already know, as of last week's foiled transatlantic terror threat carry-on bags are no longer allowed on flights originating in the U.K. bound for the U.S. At this point, all you are allowed to bring on board is your passport, wallet, keys and any prescription meds you may need during the flight. To carry it they want you to put it in a clear plastic bag. Eewwww! How un-jet-setter! In planning my upcoming trip to London, I found a great little clear carrier at Flight 001 to solve this problem and to avoid the crinkling of plastic. Check out the PACKAGING on this document carrier.

The red wallet inside is NOT what you are looking at here (it's hard to get this from the picture). What you want is the package the wallet comes it. It's a clear (the red inside is actually the document case you are SUPPOSED to be buying), thick plastic with a zip lock top and just the right size to fit all of the items listed above. It's also has that necessary touch of design with the document label neatly placed in the top corner. PLUS you can use it as a pointer! Typically this item goes for $15. But right now Flight 001 is having a sale on selected colors (red, lime green, kelly green and light blue) for $5.99. It doesn't matter which color you choose since you are buying this for the PACKAGING, not the actual microfiber case housed with (although that item can be used as well in your checked luggage). If you are a frequent traveler to London, nab yourself one of these smart document cases before the sale ends!


Back To Black Mambo

So the leader of the band Angel & the Mambokats, Angel Ferriera (who, by the way, was also a dancer for Madge on her Who's That Girl tour), read my previous posting about looking for the song "Black Mambo" and sent me the link to his site. You can listen to some of his other songs on his myspace page page. Check them out!


A Little Justin

Justin Timberlake brings his "Sexy Back" club tour to Roseland on Thursday August 31st. Tix on sale this Friday through Ticketmaster. Tix are $52 + all those outrageous fees.


Little Boxes On A Hillside . . .

Get your DVR's ready people, next Monday the 14th Weeds returns to Showtime! If you haven't seen season 1, grab it on dvd and catch up!

The Annual Trip To Queens

Saturday I did my annual trek to Queens. The day began with a ride on the Water Taxi, where $10 cruises you around the tip of Mahattan from the Christopher St. Pier to the Water Taxi Beach in Hunter's Point L.IC. They add a few new features this year: a tour guide pointing out the sites and providing some history, as well as a ride out to Lady Liberty (the boat doesn't dock there, it's more of an up-close glance from the water). The whole thing takes about 1:2o and is SO worth it. I think this would be a great thing to take out of town guest on (for a bit more $ you can buy a "hop-on, hop-off pass" so you can get off the boat and his areas like Battery Park and South St. Seaport. One thing to keep in mind - by Coast Guard regulations they can only have a limited number of people (30, I think) on the roof deck at any given time, so when we boarded, we actually had to wait a bit to get upstairs. So if you're taking friends you may want to board at the first stop, Pier 84 @ W. 44th St.

Once we arrived at our destination, the Water Taxi beach, we grabbed a spot in the sand and ordered up some german beers and frozen strawberry daiquiris and cheeseburgers fresh off the grill. Ok, so the beach is totally ghetto, but totally fun. Sadly, they no longer had the $2 PBR's that they offered last year. A draft beer was $5, frozen drinks $7. There is shade under tents, lots of picnic tables and a DJ (who was spinning some great old classics). Supposedly the party there on Fri/Sat nights really gets going - and now the water taxi runs until midnight to get you back and forth.

The next and final stop on the journey was to PS1 for the Warm Up party. If you aren't familiar with PS1, it's a contemporary art museum owned by MOMA in an old school building. Every Saturday afternoon/evening in the summer they have a party in their courtyard complete with DJ's and lots of beer. This year I enjoyed it much more than last because the art installation in the courtyard was much more user-friendly. There were 2 good sized wading pools (when I say wading, i mean just up to your ankles) and a fair amount of shade.

I actually went in to the museum this time and saw some great pieces (I think my favorite was John Lurie: Works on Paper) . As usual DEC was an AMAZING tour guide!. Lots of beer and a good time was had by all.



While researching a trip to Italy, I discovered an Italian version of a Jetblue called Eurofly. Euro flies direct from JFK to Bologna (a good alternative for getting to Florence since there are no direct flights from NY), Rome, Naples & Palermo. I don't know anyone (yet) who has flown Eurofly, but I'll post a review as soon as I do. Eurofly doesn't show up on the larger flight search engines like Orbitz and Expedia so you have to book through their site directly.


A Very Happy Hour (or 3)

I tried a new place (well, new for me - I haven't stepped foot in the place in 8 years when it was something altogether different) for happy hour last night - Absolutely 4th. This place is definitely worth a visit for their drink specials and to sample the complimentary basket of homemade potato chips they set you up with. Everyone in my group had the 2-for-1 frozen lime margaritas that quickly took the edge off of this summer heatwave - perfectly blended, strong and with a subdued lime flavor. Other specials included 2-for-1 drinks from the martini list, $4 Yuenglings and $7 wines. Happy hour ends at 9pm, but then other drink specials begin, like $4 pints of Sam and their "twisted teas", for the start of the "celebrity karaoke party" at 10pm (not sure how the karaoke is there, but I'm definitely going back to check it out - yes, they say Alanis Morrisette really sang karaoke there!). Off the food menu we sampled the "lounge medley mixer" which contained a bit of most of the items on the menu - some were great, others just passible. I'd say skip the mixer and head straight to the breaded mac'n'cheese bites - those ROCKED!