Monday, May 31, 2010


Twice a year an amazing natural phenomenom occurs in New York - the sun sets in perfect alignment with the grid of streets in the City.

It just so happens that we will be treated to this awesome sight tonight at 8.17pm EDT.

For instructions on where to best view it and more details on Manhattanhenge, click here.

Photo by Steve Kelley, New York Times

Sunday, May 30, 2010


You know that it is officially the start of Summer in New York when you wake up to find a street fair is casually occupying part of Broadway ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Restaurant, Inc.?

I have just read a very interesting article on about New Yorkers average monthly spend on eating out, based on the neighbourhood they live in.

Topping the list at a whopping $2,350 (not far off my monthly rent!) is Chelsea, with my own zipcode coming in not too far behind at a choke inducing $1,895. Step outside of Manhattan however and the spend goes down quite dramatically to $710 in Park Slope and $233 in Astoria to pick just a couple.

While this is clearly a reflection on the differing affluence levels (and restaurant pricing) across each of the boroughs, I also believe it is a unique Manhattan trait for other reasons.

Apartments in Manhattan are small and cooking in some of the kitchens I have seen here would be the equivalent of performing a circus contortionist act. A friend of mine saw the most unbelievably small kitchen once when apartment hunting - so tiny in fact, that the shower cubicle was literally next to the fridge. No joke.

Grocery shopping can be a hit and miss experience. Delis and small supermarkets, while convenient as most of them are open 24 hours a day, usually only carry a small and sometimes quite odd selection of food products while larger places such as Trader Joe's and Wholefoods are expensive. I have often walked out with enough ingredients to cook just one meal that costed me nearly as much as if I had eaten out at my local restaurant.

And lastly restaurants are just amazing here. There are so many of them, spanning all the types of cuisines one would desire and all price ranges. I've had the tastiest eggs & bagels at Barney Greengrass for $10 and the most exquisite and elaborate food at Per Se for $250 per person. Overall the food and service in New York restaurants is overwhelmingly high compared to many other cities.

I must admit that I very much embraced New Yorkers' restaurant habit as soon as I arrived here and I eat out at least 4 times a week. And while I am not storing Manolos in my oven quite yet, my empty fridge always gives my visiting European friends a bit of a chuckle when they come and see me ...

* Screenshot taken on

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm sure a lot of you know about Bloglovin' already but if you don't, check it out. It's a great way to keep up with all the latest posts from your favourite bloggers, all in one place.

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My original boss in NYC and now good friend ML, a Mexican native, is the person who first introduced me to Boqueria. She had invited me to a lecture at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea and we decided to grab a bite to eat afterwards to catch up. ML remembered having amazing tapas in a nearby restaurant but didn't remember the name so we went in search of it and with the help of Google finally arrived at Boqueria, on 19th between 5th and 6th, which turned out to be a very narrow but long space, completely packed with diners and particularly loud.

I instantly loved the decor with its characteristic New York exposed bricks and high tables and chairs but most importantly I fell in love with all the tasty morsels of food we shared, particularly the Pane con Tomate with Proscuitto, which I am actually obsessed with. I have subsequently taken many friends there and distinctively remember one evening in particular with my friend IB (who had never been there before) when we ordered said Pane con Tomate four times in a row as she loved it as much as I do!

Having said all that, the noise levels in the restaurant were such that I never completely enjoyed the experience. I was therefore very intrigued when Chef Seamus Mullen expanded his empire and opened a second Boqueria, this time in Spring Street, Soho.

While retaining the same feel and atmosphere as the original restaurant, this one is more spacious and therefore a little quieter. With the food as delicious as ever, my prayers were answered and the Soho branch is now my venue of choice.

Aside from the Pane, my favourite tapas include Pintxos Morunos (lamb marinated in lemon and cumin and served with salsa verde), Txipirones (baby squid a la plancha with arugula), Cojonudo (quail eggs and chorizo on toast) as well as the Churros to dip in a delicious chocolate sauce. I also love the excellent brunch menu, which includes the most delicate yet satisfying soft scrambled eggs with juicy shrimps and Guindilla peppers on a brioche bun... to be consumed with a lot of sparkling Rose wine of course :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Borough Market

For my final day in London, last Saturday, I wanted to go back to a favourite haunt - Borough Market - and could think of a no better companion and guide than Pete, the lovely friend and fellow foodie who first introduced me to it years ago.

Together we spent a few hours slowly meandering through the market and grazing on delicious morsels of food as we walked past the multitude of stalls.

While I don't really spend much time trawling farmers markets in New York (considering how rarely I cook here), I have a particular affection for Borough.

Even though I couldn't buy anything (due to the strict US customs rules), I still reveled in the atmosphere and found myself imagining which occasions other people there were shopping for - A large family gathering around a roast organic chicken? A romantic steak and wild mushroom dinner for two? Or a decadent and solitary cheese fest?

Over the years, Borough Market has become a rather posh affair and while I think it has lost nothing of its charm, it has gained many, many more visitors and making your way through the small lanes can be quite challenging.

I love the fact that it is located in the arches of the old railway viaduct at London Bridge and despite the gentrification, it still retains a slightly gritty, old London feel to it. A little bit like stepping back into the London of "Oliver" ...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back in Blighty

I have spent the last couple of weeks in London as my US work visa was up for renewal (2 more years in NYC!).

The last time I was in here was over a year and a half ago and I have been delighted/amused/occasionally annoyed to realise that in all that time I was away, I had forgotten :

How intelligent, interesting and caustically funny British television is. Without a doubt the best programming in the World.

How yummy Pret A Manger sandwiches and salads are.

That whilst it doesn't rain nearly as much as one would think, the skies do bear a shade of grey most of the time unfortunately.

How much I miss English pubs (dark and cosy, complete with exposed bricks, low ceilings and ideally an open fire place) and even more when they serve a proper Sunday Roast (lightly pink and thinly sliced beef, perfectly roasted potatoes, string beans, a voluminous Yorkshire pudding and rich gravy).

How the other half lives until one of my friends let me stay in her $1.8M apartment set in a quiet Chelsea mews for a week, minutes from ultra-chic Kings Road. Living the life of a posh girl about town was really, really hard but someone had to do it!

What normal/human sized packets of crisps and chocolate bars looked like.

How eye-wateringly expensive public transport is, with a return zone 1 ticket on the Tube costing almost $8. And to add insult to injury, the noticeably increased presence of taxis on the streets is only explained by the fact that they are now prohibitively pricey!

That I am apparently old enough now to genuinely enjoy listening to Radio 4 every morning ...

I've had a really wonderful time rediscovering London, going back to old haunts and finding new ones, but most of all catching up with a ton of friends. One thing is for sure ... I won't leave it as long to come back again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

8th Street Winecellar

I love nothing more than being taken to a place I have never been to before and knowing almost instantly that it will become a regular haunt, somewhere I will come back to over and over again and in turn introduce other friends to it, confident that they will fall in love with it too.

T, a Spanish friend of mine who recently moved to New York, did just that a few weeks ago when she took me to 8th Street Winecellar, on the corner of Macdougal, in a patch of the West Village I was until then less familiar with.

The block is very picturesque albeit a little unusual with its high concentration of wholesale shoe shops and what looked distinctively like a clothes shop for transvestites ... 8th Street Winecellar itself is a small and intimate space located below street level so it can easily be missed. Their wine list is beautifully curated and T and I shared a lovely Russian River Californian Zinfandel, along with very generous platters of cheeses and cold meats.

Highly recommended.

Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev @ NY Mag