Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

making the city smaller: HONY

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

image courtesy of

with its fast-paced rhythm, it’s almost impossible to feel truly alone in the most populous city in the u.s. it took awhile, but i no longer have shame in eating lunch by myself, hopping from one subway car to another, or whipping out my map in the middle of soho. sure, the noise might keep you up all night or wake you at the break of dawn, but it also provides some solid entertainment when you feel “alone”.

my all-time favorite form of entertainment in new york comes from people watching, and sometimes making up stories about the interesting people i see here. it’s definitely a when-harry-met-sally way to pass time and makes you realize how “usual” it is to be unusual in nyc. i did this with one of my friends at lunch one day and she mentioned the facebook page called “humans of new york”. started in 2010 by brandon stanton, whose inspiration as a photographer led him to an incredible interest in the people who roam the streets of new york city. his story is an interesting one and worth reading; he essentially started from nothing and built his own career in a city that made his dreams attainable. humans of new york (hony) posts daily photos of bizarre or notable people (and sometimes animals) with either a description of the photo or a conversation stanton had with the person in the photo.

on my days filled with extensive people watching, i will sometimes find the people i saw photographed on hony’s website. my friend who lives here even mentioned that she has some friends who have been tagged in hony’s photos on facebook (his facebook page has almost 800,000 likes now). hony not only ties the loose ends of my made-up stories, but it also makes a city of over 8 million seem, well, smaller.

take a look and see if you recognize anyone. or if you ever miss the humans of new york, check out hony and do some new york people watching no matter where you are.


Jack’s Wife Freda, An Instant Classic

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

One of the things I love about walking to work is that I never know what I am going to discover. That’s just the nature of New York. The city changes so quickly, and a street you’ve walked down a thousand times can suddenly become an adventure when a new place opens up. And it happens all the time. Just today for instance, as I was trudging to the office in the unseasonable warmth of a fifty degree February, I saw a small awning over the door to a store front I hadn’t seen before. Looking up I saw a sign that read “Jack’s Wife Freda”.

“What the heck…” I thought, momentarily confused by the funny, hand-lettered name, (we live in a digital world of monosyllabic pronouns and slick logo design), and here was someone brazenly flouting convention.  I went in. There are certain places that just feel good, and the moment I walked into “Jack’s Wife Freda” I knew I was in one of those places–the room is small yet open and uncluttered, the lighting is bright but friendly, the wood tables and chairs comfortable and inviting and everything feels clean and new–which it is–having only opened two weeks ago. Turn’s out Jack and Freda are the owner’s grandparents–and the place is an homage to them and their simple, elegant lifestyle. I took a seat and perused the menu. This was going to be good. The Matzoh Ball Soup was calling to me, but when I came across the Prego Roll Sandwich–Portuguese skirt steak marinated with garlic butter and served with hand-cut fries I knew there was no chance I would go with anything else.

The menu has a middle eastern influence with kebabs, Greek salads, mint lemonade and vegetable curries making an appearance but these flavors are counter-balanced by American staples, like the burger and a riff on the tuna salad sandwich.

I am a fry guy, so I was eager and anxious to see what my “hand-cut” fries were all about. They did not disappoint. Firstly, they were piping hot–a must, secondly, they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and lastly, they weren’t too thin or too thick–about the width of my pinky finger.  Perfection.  When the waitress offered both mayonnaise and ketchup to garnish my fries I knew I was in capable hands. Turns out the owner–Dean–is an alumnus of the McNally empire and his attention to detail shows.

The sandwich was gorgeous–the skirt steak beautifully marinated and sliced with just enough garlic butter to make it decadent, and not so much to make it greasy. The meat was flecked with parsley that brightened it just enough and the whole thing was enshrined in a homemade Portugues roll from Parisi that was the ideal antidote to the mundane hamburger bun–in short it rocked. My partner had a grilled chicken sandwich lightly grilled with an aioli dressing and served with an arugula salad that I didn’t bother to try because I was too busy shoveling the last of the french fries into my face. I ordered a mint lemonade that would’ve been so easy to be sloppy about–”Freda” nails even these small touches–and that says everything about the place. I ordered the cheesecake and the chocolate cake for desert–both were excellent but the cheesecake was a standout, it tasted as if someone had magically buried a pumpkin pie inside a New York Cheesecake and then dusted the whole thing with cocoa–it was incredible and way too big for me to finish.

In the end this is the kind of place I will go back to again and again. the service was great, the food perfection and the ambiance is that perfect blend of casual New York, comfort and sophistication that feels effortless. “Jack’s Wife Freda” is the kind of restaurant that made me fall in love with New York. Thanks to Dean, I just fell in love again.

dining dutch

Monday, August 1st, 2011

image courtesy of The New York Times; NYTCREDIT: Evan Sung for The New York Times

early last fall, a friend won tickets to a taping of the martha stewart show and i was fortunate enough to tag along. martha looked great, the confetti system piñata she had on set became my new obsession, but it was guest chef andrew carmellini who really stole the show. and though i know enough to take martha’s word for it, i’ve had a hankering to try his cooking for myself ever since.

i had always heard great things about locanda verde‘s rustic italian cuisine but when the dutch opened recently i knew i had to, um, bite the bullet. returning to his american roots for his latest restaurant, carmellini culled inspiration from what “american” means right now, and singularly, what it means in new york city: a melting pot of culture & tradition, spices & innovation. table for two, please!

my guest and i arrived for what carmellini (and my grandmother) endearingly calls “supper”. i washed down the complimentary jalapeno cornbread with a bermuda yacht-club cocktail that hit just the right note, before digging in to some apps: crispy artichokes on a bed of roasted red peppers and onions, an eggplant dip with savory crackers. for the main event, i practically cleaned the bowl once filled with delicious black cod and smoked mushrooms in a yuzu-chili broth while my companion enjoyed his perfectly prepped sea scallops with sweet corn and chipotle (hold the bacon, he’s a veg). we had barely managed to save room for dessert but with that week’s heatwave, three scoops of sorbet – apricot, blueberry, and my favorite, coconut – were too perfect to pass up.

reservations strongly recommended.

~ jamie

sprinkles fall on nyc!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

image courtesy of

new yorkers get ready for the new best cupcake in town. the all too good (and too cute) beverly hills cupcake shop is opening a location in new york city today! sprinkles cupcakes use only the finest ingredients and are sure to please anyone as they offer gluten free and vegan options too! go to their website to check out all their mouthwatering flavors and see how you can have yours customized.

also be sure to read more about them at strollertraffic!


sprinkles cupcakes nyc
780 Lexington Avenue, between 60th and 61st Streets