how to celebrate national rum punch day

September 18th, 2014

This week in  NYC we really started to feel the chill creep up.  Instead of rushing for cashmere throw blankets and Farmer’s Market hot apple cider, we’re burying our heads in the proverbial sand and grasping one last inch of summer.  How?  By throwing a Rum Punch Party! We highly recommend you do the same to celebrate National Rum Punch Day on Saturday, September 20.  Here’s how:

Step 1: Mix up one or all of our preferred rum libations (recipes below)

Step 2: Tune into some Reggae and steel drum beats (may we suggest the Jolly Boys?)

Step 3: Fill your home with sand and palm trees and transform your bathtub into a swimming pool (optional)

Traditional Rum Punch at Sugar Beach in St. Lucia

3 oz fresh pineapple juice
3 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz g St. Lucia Distillers Crystal White Rum
1 oz St. Lucia Distillers Bounty Rum
1 oz grenadine syrup for color

Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into an ice filled glass. Sprinkle the top with fresh nutmeg and dress with fresh pineapple.

Planteur at Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France in Saint Barth

  • 2 oz white and dark rum
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • .5 oz pineapple juice
  • .5 oz guava juice

Shake over ice and add fresh lime juice and cinnamon.

Blackwell Rum Cooler at Island Outpost’s GoldenEye in Jamaica

  • 2 oz Blackwell Rum
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 orange
  • Brown sugar to taste
  • 1 can of ginger ale
  • 6 to 10 ice cubes

Mix Blackwell Rum with muddled lime and orange, brown sugar and crushed ice, top with ginger ale and garnish with orange slices.

 

global coffee culture

July 10th, 2014

The New York Times recently reported that the place to find great coffee in NYC is everywhere. Cult roasters and specialty ateliers are king.  Starbucks is out.  Dunkin’ Donuts who? Sipping Muganjo at Kaffe1668 and browsing cafe-slash-design shop Budin has put us in a coffee state of mind.  Let’s take a closer look at coffee culture across the continents. How do you take your coffee? Elephant dung or two shots of rum?

 

CALIFORNIA
Dotting the vineyards of Napa Valley are specialty coffee shops serving brews with coffee ice cubes. The sun shouldn’t water down your morning routine.

GERMANY
Nothing says “guten Morgen” like two shots of rum, a cube of sugar, and whipped cream. Oh, and coffee, of course. You will typically find Pharisӓer coffee in Northern Germany. In the shopping-savvy Cologne or the posh-centric Düsseldorf, seek out the locals-only spots.

 

THAILAND
Brought to you by the elephant you rode in on, Black Ivory Coffee is made from native Arabica coffee beans that have been consumed by the local elephants, digested, dried, and then brewed in a special 19th century Austrian-style siphon.

 

ITALY
Affogato (literally meaning “drowned”) is a “hot-meets-cold” specialty, adding the richness of vanilla gelato to Italian espresso.  Enjoy a cup on your break from winding around the Venitian canals or navigating the Roman ruins.

 

JAPAN
The Tokyo bustle leaves no time for waiting in coffeeshop lines. While on the go, pick up a Boss coffee from local vending machines. Depending on the season, this delicious canned coffee can warm you in the winter, or cool down your summer.

AUSTRALIA
Made from caffeine-free wattleseeds, the Wattlecino is popular for its chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut profile. Enjoy buzz-free relaxation at the Sydney harbor, beverage in hand.

 

MOROCCO
While shopping the Souks of Marrakech, stop for a café des épices. Stall owners brew their choice of spices into coffees laced with everything from ginger, black pepper, sesame, cardamom, and more.

 

2013 trend alert: dual purpose products from espa and guinot

September 4th, 2012

For 2013 beauty trends, all signs point to dual-purpose products.  Dual-purpose products are cost efficient space savers.   These dual purpose products from ESPA and Guinot will help make room for the boyfriend’s shaving kit or add more room on the makeup table for your ever-growing eye shadow obsession.

ESPA’s Refining Skin Polish:  Quick fix for cracked lips and dry cuticles

Price: $50

Skin & Lip Exfoliator

This gentle, naturally brightening skin exfoliator is a miracle worker. Spherical Diatomaceous Earth exfoliates to clear pores, lift impurities, balance uneven skin tone, and stimulate cell renewal, while nourishing Rose Damascena and Shea Butter soften to refine, smooth, and revitalize. Want to know a secret? Use it on cracked, dry lips before puckering up for instant kissable lips.

Hangnail Hero

Those same ingredients that work so well to leave the face soft, smooth, and revitalized will do the same for dry fingers. Slather some of this polishing cream on cuticles for a quick fix to hangnails. Nails will look beautiful – with or without polish!

ESPA’s Body Silk Spray:  Radiant body and glossy nails

Price: $49

Multi-tasking Body Oil

This lightweight, moisturizing dry body oil spray will nourish and soften skin, enhance a glowing tan, and give a radiant finish. Nourishing Inca Inchi Oil gives skin a light moisture boost, refining Rosehip leaves it beautifully soft, while antioxidant-rich Pomegranate and Chia protect from environmental aggressors and pollution.

One-Minute Manicure

In need of an emergency mani? ESPA Body Silk Spray to the rescue! This nourishing oil will give nails the same radiant finish that it gives skin. Spray a little on the nails, buff, and voila – nails will shine as if they’re polished!

Guinot Longue Vie Soleil:  Prolongs a tan and rescues a burn

Price: $75

Tan-Saver

Summer’s almost over and soon that tan will be long gone. Prolong the sun-kissed radiance for a few extra weeks with the help of this after-sun face cream. Its 56 active ingredients will regenerate the skin and protect the youthful appearance of the face while making a suntan last as long as possible.

Burn-Soother

Forget the sunscreen over Labor Day weekend as a final attempt for a summer tan, and now you’re looking more like a lobster than a swimsuit model? Slather on some of this comforting cream as a face mask and watch that red turn to brown.

ESPA’s Purifying Tea Tree Gel:  Blast blemishes and relieve bug bites

Price: $37

Blemish Banisher

This targeted Tea Tree gel gently and effectively purifies, clarifies, and calms skin, banishing those pesky blemishes. Antibacterial Tea Tree oil and antiseptic Thyme extract help clear skin, while hydrating Evening Primrose extract calms inflammation and redness.

Bug Bite, Sunburn, and Ingrown Hair Vanquisher

Rich in natural antibacterials and antiseptics, this gently effective gel can also be used on insect bites, sunburns, ingrown hairs, and other minor skin irritations that plague us on a daily basis. Suitable for all skin types, this purifying gel will leave soft, clear, healthy-looking skin.

Guinot Mousse de Cotton:  Gently cleanse and closely shave

Price: $39

Shower Mousse

This soap-free, luxurious shower mousse gently cleanses all skin types, leaving an amazing sensation of softness and well-being that pampers throughout the day. Sacred Lotus milk, rich in polyphenols and anti-inflammatory properties, protects blood capillaries and soothes sensitive and delicate skin, while Lamesoft gently cleanses, softens, and protects the skin.

Silky Smooth Shaving Cream

Ideal for all skin types, this creamy foam makes the perfect shaving cream. Cotton oil reinforces the hydrolipidic film while regenerating and nourishing the epidermis, leaving legs supremely soft and silky smooth – no razor burn here!

ESPA products are available for purchase at us.espaonline.com.

Guinot products are carried in over 1,000 spas and salons within the US.  To locate a spa, visit www.GuinotUSA.com.

 

ampr seeks talented operations and engagement coordinator

August 27th, 2012

Alice Marshall Public Relations, a highly regarded luxury lifestyle public relations firm in NYC, is seeking an Operations and Engagement Coordinator. Position requires a dependable, organized, creative thinker with a genuine spirit.  We are a warm, team-oriented agency with a can-do attitude.  We have fun and feel proud of our achievements. We’re looking for like-minded candidates who are dedicated, accountable, and see things through to completion.

Responsibilities:

  • Assistant to owner of the company
  • Organizing and coordinating office operations
  • Play an active role in recruiting
  • Manage Internship Program
  • Manage IT vendors
  • Responsible for executing Alice Marshall social media strategy
  • Organize office celebrations and events
  • Help create and maintain office templates and systems
  • Scheduling

Qualifications:

  • BA in Management, Liberal Arts or related subject
  • Excellent written and verbal skills
  • Thoroughly organized
  • Flawless attention to detail
  • Able to prioritize and multitask
  • Adept at social media
  • Basic understanding of office IT systems

Please email resume and writing samples to:  prresponse10011@yahoo.com.

Salary commensurate with experience.  Health benefits. 401 K.

ringing in julia’s 100th with a berry tart from oléron

August 23rd, 2012

At AMPR, we’re lucky to work a stone’s throw away from the Union Square Greenmarket. With August’s cornucopia of locally grown produce, it’s hard to shake that “so-many-recipes-so-little-time” feeling while meandering through the various stalls. But fruit-wise, delicate berries from the Hudson Valley – in our opinion – always steal the show.

Fruit tarts are a common sight in France, a country that’s home to a number of exciting properties represented by AMPR. Last week would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday, and we’re celebrating her legacy of French cooking with a classic tart native to windswept Oléron, a scenic island off France’s Atlantic coast. The recipe is featured in Ruth Reichl’s book Tender at the Bone (a joy to read, by the way!) preceded by a few descriptive lines that had us chomping at the bit to get our hands in the flour:

Danielle took her finger out of her mouth and took a bite. I watched her. She took another. And another. I took a bite myself.

It was magnificent. The fruit was intoxicatingly fragrant and each berry released its juice only in the mouth, where it met the sweet, crumbly crust. “Why is this so much better than other tarts?” I asked.

Madame Deveau looked at me with something like interest. “The American wakes up,” she commented. “It is that the products here are so good,” she said. “Good butter from fat cows and wild berries grown in the island air.”

While we can’t comment on how the Big Apple’s Greenmarket compares to the fat cows and island berries of Oléron, we can happily confirm that this tart is a welcome taste of summer – anywhere , anytime.  Now, be inspired!

Oléron Raspberry Tart

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Pastry:

1½ c. sifted flour

¼ c. sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch squares

2 tbs. heavy cream

1 egg yolk

Filling:

¾ c. blanched almonds, toasted

¾ c. sugar

3 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 c. raspberries

2 tbs. currant jam and/or powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Place sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter squares to the flour mixture and blend using a pastry blender or forks until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Add cream to the egg yolk and pour into flour mixture. Mix lightly with a fork until the pastry holds together in a small ball. If it’s not moist enough, add a tablespoon or so of water.

Sprinkle some flour across a counter and push the dough with the heel of your palm until it has been worked through. Do not over-mix. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dough and allow to warm on the countertop for ten minutes. On a floured surface, flatten the ball and roll it into an eleven-inch circle. Fit gently into an eight- or nine-inch tart pan with a fluted edge and removable bottom. Press into pan gently, being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim off the edges and freeze for ten minutes to firm.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and filler and bake for five minutes more or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool while making the filling.

Blend the almonds and three tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor until it is a fine powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter with the remaining sugar, and then add the yolks. Fold in the almond-sugar mixture and vanilla to combine.

Spread the almond mixture into the pre-baked crust and top with two cups of the fresh berries. Sprinkle the tart with two tablespoons of sugar and bake for 40 minutes or until just set. Cool at least two hours.

Just before serving, cover the tart with the remaining two cups of raspberries. Garnish with powdered sugar or brush the top with a simple glaze made from two tablespoons currant jam heated with one tablespoon of water. Bon appétit!

Photo was taken by Ben from the AMPR team.

win a trip to thailand and become anantara’s 2012 roving elephant reporter!

June 11th, 2012

Ready to become a star? After the success of last year’s contest, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is once again looking for an enthusiastic elephant lover and budding TV star between the ages of seven and fifteen to become this year’s Roving Elephant Reporter for the 11th Annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Hua Hin, Thailand.

As the Roving Elephant Reporter, the winner will become a star of the elephant polo circuit, delivering a television report with VIP access to all areas of the four-day event, including exclusive interviews with participating players, elephant experts, and celebrities.

The winner, along with an accompanying adult, will enjoy an all-expense paid seven-night stay at Anantara Riverside Resort & Spa in Bangkok and Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa in Thailand, including return air fares. The reporter will get to explore the Royal seaside town of Hua Hin with a series of signature excursions, including an elephant trek through a local vineyard, a specially devised kids Thai cooking class, an art class on the polo pitch, and more.

“Being the winner of last year’s Roving Elephant Reporter was the most amazing experiences in my life,” said the 2011 winner, 14-year-old, Ann Skelly from Ireland. “From helping with actual vet checks, interviewing the elephant experts and the players including the New Zealand All Blacks and German royalty, to seeing the elephants up close was truly an awe-inspiring experience and I wish all the entrants to this year’s competition the best of luck.”

To enter the elephantastic competition, the media-star-in-the-making must submit a one- to two-minute video on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas Facebook page. Alternatively, one can mail a CD of the video to:

I Want To Be An Elephant Reporter
Anantara Hotels
17th Floor Berli Jucker House
99 Soi Rubia
Sukhumvit Soi 42
Bangkok 10110
THAILAND

 

park it in tokyo this summer

May 29th, 2012

With the launch of American Airlines groundbreaking new route between JFK and Tokyo’s Haneda International airport, located much closer to the city center than the traditionally used Narita Airport and with much faster immigration, everyone is talking Tokyo these days. Now that the “Vertical City” is faster than ever to get to, head there to experience some of its popular summer festivities. Here’s the latest scoop of summer city happenings from Park Hyatt Tokyo:

Mark calendars for June 27, 2012, when Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine will host a special Brewmaster’s Dinner as part of the brand’s global series of seasonally and locally inspired culinary events. The event, held in collaboration with Kanagawa’s Sankt Gallen Brewery (renowned for its locally-produced craft ales) will offer a tasting menu of six-courses, each complemented by vintage labels, as well as a chocolate stout and a surprise ale from the brewery’s cellar.

Summer is the season of fireworks – especially in Japan. Almost every night, communities around the country stage lively firework displays to illuminate the night sky. The biggest and most popular of these is the Sumida River Fireworks Festival on July 28. During the festival, twenty thousand sets of fireworks will light up the Tokyo summer sky and the event also includes a competition for the best fireworks.

The Tokyo Sky Tree just opened as the world’s second-tallest structure. Standing at 2,080 feet, it takes about 50 seconds for the high-speed elevator to zip visitors up to the lower observation deck at 1,148 feet, and another 30 seconds to reach the higher deck at 1,475 feet. Don’t miss the vertigo-inducing glass floor!

On the last Saturday and Sunday in August, around 1.2 million spectators flock to city’s shotengai (shopping promenades) for the 53rd Annual Koenji Awaodori Festival. Over 12,000 participants from 188 groups of choreographed dancers and musicians will parade through the city streets in traditional obon dance costumes, accompanied by traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen lute, taiko drums, shinobue flute, and the kane bell.

Celebrate the end of summer by attending the September 2012 Grand Sumo Tournament. From September 9 – 23, wrestlers young and old from across Japan will come to Tokyo to partake in the event. Hakkeyoi!

 

stay skinny and check into chocolate

April 16th, 2012

Image courtesy of WakeUpWorld.com

Everyone seems to be talking about the new “Chocolate Diet”, including The New York Times. With a new study showing that people who eat chocolate frequently have lower body mass indexes than those who it less often, we’re all about indulging our sweet tooth – in moderation of course. Here are some of our favorite places to satisfy a chocolate craving and stay healthy.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The sweetest way to satisfy a sweet tooth? A trip to the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail, of course! The Inn on the Alameda even offers a special “Check Into Chocolate” package. Designed to let you sample the unique hand-crafted delicacies created by the talented chocolatiers of the City Different, this tasty package won’t break the bank or your waistline. With rates starting at $340, this package includes:

  • Two (2) nights in a traditional Queen or King Room or a Deluxe King accommodation
  • Daily continental breakfast
  • Daily afternoon wine hour
  • Four (4) $10 gift certificates, one each to sample some of the individual creations found on the Chocolate Trail at Todos Santos, Kakawa Chocolate House, The Chocolatesmith, and C.G. Higgins
  • Four (4) melt-in-your mouth bolitos, the signature chocolates from Señor Murphy, Santa Fe’s first local chocolatier, upon arrival
  • One (1) $30 gift certificate to dine at the Chocolate Maven, purveyor of some of the tasty treats found in the Inn’s Breakfast of Enchantment, serving high tea Monday through Saturday from 3-5pm

London

Since November, London’s famed boutique hotel, The Halkin, offers Couture Chocolate Afternoon Tea. The concept was created by William Curley, four-time winner of ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier,’ for The Halkin as part of the hotel’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The exclusive new menu gives traditional afternoon tea an unexpected twist and is to be found in the hotel’s newly-transformed lobby bar, the Assouline Culture Lounge, showcasing coffee table books from the renowned book publisher, Assouline. In addition to the English teatime classic of freshly-made scones with clotted cream and jams and a selection of sandwiches, guests can choose from William Curley’s à la carte selection, that includes a Chocolate Financier with Passion Fruit Curd and a Sea Salt Caramel and Raspberry Tart. Priced from £37.50 per person, the tea is available daily between 3 and 6pm.

Bangkok

Located on the ground floor of the newly opened Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, Numero Uno is a chocolate lover’s paradise. The boutique features over 100 types of chocolate, mouthwatering cakes, and delectable pastries made from raw ingredients imported from Europe. Visitors can also enjoy rich coffees and a selection of indulgent hot chocolates. Deli-style sandwiches along with Asian and Western cuisine make Numero Uno a perfect place to stop for an afternoon snack or a late-night treat.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Chef Fred Bisaillon, the Executive Chef at the White Elephant’s Brant Point Grill, has created a delicious and satisfying dessert. Using a decadent combination of rich dark chocolate and sweet fruit, the restaurant’s Cranberry, Pecan, and Orange Chocolate Clusters are easy to make and the perfect solution for a sweet tooth.

Recipe:

  • 1 lb dark chocolate
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Zest of 2 oranges

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl using 25-50% power, stirring every 25 seconds until melted but not burned. Remove from microwave and stir in cranberries and nuts, then orange zest. Using two spoons, drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking dish one at a time. Allow to rest in refrigerator until solid, about 15 minutes. Pull out pan and release clusters from it with thin knife or spatula.

On the Seven Seas

At least once on every sailing, Crystal Cruises hosts a special Chocolate Tea Time held in the charming sunlit Palm Court on both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Guests can enjoy delicious savories and sweets accompanied with Might Leaf teas, the world’s finest whole tea leaf served in special silk pouches. Some of the chocolate temptations offered include Ganache cake, rings, and tartelettes; chocolate crème brûlée; chocolate éclairs; chocolate fudge cake; chocolate whiskey tart; chocolate pyramids and chocolate roulade. Yummm!

 

ampr fyi: we put the soul in costa del sol

May 24th, 2011

Spontaneous travels are my favorite, so when I had the last minute opportunity to jet off to Morocco and the southern coast of Spain for a week of relaxing with friends I couldn’t resist. (Isn’t that what tax refunds are for anyways?)

Four flights and 24 hours of traveling, I arrived in Malaga, Spain, with the adrenaline and excitement of the trip erasing any jet lag. The next six days were filled with sunning on the golden beaches in Costa del Sol, swimming in the (freezing) Mediterranean, sipping Sangria and San Miguel on cobblestone streets, and touring the most charming historic towns… all while picking up a few Spanish phrases along the way, à la “Soy de la Gran Manzana” (I’m from the Big Apple!)

After a whirlwind, amazing trip, below are some highlights and recommendations for travelers venturing to the Andalusia region of Spain.

Ronda, Spain

The hidden town is worth the 45 minute, incredibly winding and slightly nauseating drive up the mountainous terrain. We immediately headed to the outdoor café, Buenos Aires, (don’t be confused by the name) and indulged in ice cold gelato, energizing cappuccinos, and the most delicious churros, served with a side of melted chocolate for dipping.  (Five girls have quite possibly never been so excited.)  After frolicking around in the ‘Corrida Goyseca’, the oldest bullring in Spain, we took in the most breathtaking views of El Tajo Canyon (a memory that I hope created a wrinkle in my brain).

Insider’s Tip: There are many clearly marked paths that take you eye level with Puente Romano, the famous bridge that spans the canyon in Ronda. Venture down the one less traveled (identified by the the broken gate… don’t worry, it’s safe!) at sunset with a bottle of wine for the most private, jaw -dropping view of the historic landmark. 

Tangier, Morocco

If you can handle the one-hour ferry through the choppy Mediterranean, then be sure to make a detour to Tangier. We booked with Siad Tours – which I couldn’t recommend more highly for those traveling to the northern tip of Africa. During our private excursion we rode camels along the beach, rocked the Kasbah and shopped at local spice markets. An incredibly eye opening experience when walking through parts of town where running water and electricity are considered a luxury.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t spend the 200 euros on the Moroccan mirrors you’ll find in all the shops. Instead, buy authentic painted tiles in the market and create your own piece of artwork at a sliver of the cost.

Granada, Spain

The area is well-known for The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace that look out onto the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains. The fine details and architecture of the palace are remarkable, especially as the property dates back to the 11th century. The grounds are complete with endless flourishing gardens filled with sprinkling fountains, blooming roses, perfectly shaped shrubbery, and secret passageways. Be sure to buy your tickets at least a week in advance because they often sell out.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re feet aren’t blistery tired after touring The Alhambra (ours were, but we endured the pain!), hop on the local bus (only 1.30 euros) and head into town. While walking around, you’ll pass calligraphers who set up shop on the street and will elegantly scrawl your name in Arabic for one euro.

As told by Lauren Wintemberg

ampr fyi: where to eat in nyc

February 25th, 2011

I love trying new foods, cooking them up myself, trolling specialty food shops for new ingredients, and trying out as many restaurants as I can. As the go-to for restaurant recommendations for the office, my friends, and my family, I’ve amassed a guarded list of my favorite places to go in the city. Although my cooking and eating pursuits aren’t terribly private (you can see almost everything I cook, eat, and drink on my blog, Sybil’s Spoon, or my twitter feed, @sybilbunn ) I take pride in my little collection. Only because I love our AMPR blog readers, I’ve been convinced to share my secrets. Happy restaurant hopping!

Sybil in Ios

Best BYOBs

La Sirène – I’m hesitant to give out the name of favorite restaurant – this is the most romantic, delicious, hole-in-the-wall. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere in SoHo and serves up the best mussels I’ve ever tasted (the moules vignerones). Everything I’ve tried on the menu, I’ve loved, and each entrée is served with a side of roasted and pureed vegetables. Be sure to save room for dessert – the profiteroles are heavenly.

Taureau – This narrow fondue restaurant in the East Village is by the same chef who started La Sirène. The prix fixe gives you lots of food – both cheese and meat fondue with a little green salad, followed by yummy chocolate fondue for dessert.

Kuma Inn – This “Asian Tapas” place fills up super quickly, so be sure to reserve well ahead of time. There’s a small corkage fee per bottle, but it’s a great place to go with friends for a night out. Be sure to order the Chinese sausage and the wasabi shumai. And afterward, head next door to Los Feliz.

Morakote Siam – This is pretty bare bones, but great for a casual dinner. It’s right by my apartment, so I’ll often grab a bottle of wine and go with a friend. Our bill is rarely over $20 total. Be sure to try the Thai Chili Beef and the veggie spring rolls.

 

Most Romantic

La Ramblas – Sentiment may be why I think this place is romantic (I went on my first date with my boyfriend here) but the dim lighting and emphasis on sharing back up my opinion. The small, high tables get filled with various tapas plates like grilled octopus or truffled mushroom salad with avocados. And the sangria is sweet, delicious, and disappears quickly.

The Place – I stumbled across The Place during a snowstorm and went in for a drink. The bar was dimly lit with candles and it was extremely cozy. I went back for dinner and it was equally romantic, even in warmer weather – although I think it shines most in winter.

Recette – This restaurant is super hot right now, so be sure to make a reservation and don’t expect to be seated right away (comfortable shoes may be in order). After a rough start waiting to be seated, it turned out to be wonderful. We sat at a little table next to the big, tiled windows looking out onto West 12th street. The food was incredible, and I recommend the carpaccio wrapped buratta with tomato jelly – creamy, savory, and tart.

Lupa – Mario Batali doesn’t ever seem to put a foot wrong, and he certainly hasn’t this time either with this, his less-expensive version of Babbo. I actually find the food here better than Babbo, and the atmosphere certainly wins out. Ask to be seated in the back room in the corner booth. It’s much more cozy and romantic sitting next to your date in a corner booth than sitting across from one another. Order the buccatini all’amatriciana.

 

Best Indian

Ghandi Café – This narrow, little Indian place is right around the corner from my apartment. They serve up the tastiest curries and hands down the best naan I’ve ever eaten. For two people, I suggest ordering the dinner for one and an additional curry. (The dinner for one comes with this amazing crispy vegetable fritter, naan, papadam, and a curry – along with three chutneys.) That way you get to taste a few things, and there’s usually enough left over for lunch. My favorite curry so far is the dansahk, slightly spicy with spinach and lentils.

 

Best Chinese

Grand Sichuan Eastern – There are several outposts of this chain, but the one on 55th and 2nd is the best. Along with the American-style Chinese food staples, they have a Sichuan menu with spicy, fresh options. If you live nearby, order delivery because the place isn’t terribly charming. If not, stop by if you’re in the neighborhood. The Spicy Chicken with Chinese Broccoli is delicious, and if you like heat, also try the Spicy Wontons in Red Oil.

 

Best Sushi

Tomoe – This unassuming little sushi place looks pretty run-of-the-mill, but the line outside the door proves it isn’t. The décor doesn’t wow, but the sushi does. It’s incredibly fresh and noticeably better than other sushi. I don’t know how they do it, but the fish is just better. Go for rolls instead of à la carte or you’ll be in for a hefty bill.

 

Best Pizza

John’s – This place is conveniently located about 30 seconds from my apartment, but even if it’s a hike, it’s worth a trip. They don’t serve slices, only whole pizza’s, but it’s not hard to gobble one down even with just two people. It’s New York pizza at its best. The secret to avoiding the long lines is calling ahead for pick up, as long as you have a place to eat it!

Moustache – John’s has the best NY pizza, but Moustache has the best Turkish pizza. This cute little place has brass tables and a casual vibe, and along with the usual suspects (hummus, babaganoush, etc), they have Turkish pitzas with thin crusts and lots of flavor.

 

Best Bar Food

Blind Tiger – This craft beer bar has a surprisingly good menu. It’s a fun and unexpected place to grab lunch on the weekend. Along with your Allagash White or Rogue Brutal Bitter, nosh on amazingly flavorful and juicy bahn mi minis, chili, or savory BLTs.

Rye House – The bar snacks here have a southern bent with things like fried pickles (frickles!) and boiled peanuts. A great place to grab drinks with a boy, especially one who enjoys bourbon.

 

Best Mexican

La Palapa West – The salsa they give you to start is so good you can eat it with a spoon – and embarrassingly enough, I’ve been known to scoop a few bites before the chips arrive. The tacos are great too, especially the chipotle chicken.

 

Best Trucks

Bistro Truck – Just down the street from AMPR, I love running here for a quick lunch like salad niçoise loaded with potatoes, tuna, tomatoes, and other goodies or chicken cigars - crispy, tasty, and cheap. Also, the Portobello burger is tangy and delicious with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and balsamic.

 

Seafood

Fish – If you like oysters, this is the place to go. For $8 you get 6 Blue Point oysters (or clams) and your choice of house red or white wine or PBR on tap. If you sit at the bar, you can also snack on the big marble bowls of peanuts.

Milos – This can be a little pricey, but the fish is amazing and fresh and it’s just like a restaurant in Greece – you get to choose your own fish. I definitely recommend getting a whole fish because it’s fun to pick it out, and they’re flakey and served simply with lemon and olive oil. Really authentic and light.

 

Best Cupcakes

Sweet Revenge – You may know this place from its appearance on Chase commercials. It’s a great place for an afternoon snack or after dinner dessert. The cupcakes come in several varieties with two daily specials. Plus, they do wine and beer pairings, so you may be recommended a sparkling framboise to drink with your red velvet cupcake. If you like salty and sweet, try the fleur de sel cupcake – it’s amazing.

Baked by Melissa – These tiny little cupcakes are perfect for a snack with fun flavors like oreo and cookie dough and they won’t leave you feeling guilty. I can’t claim credit for discovering this – thank you Sarah Winters for getting these for the office!

 

Best Pork Buns

Fatty Crab – While the pork buns at Momofuku are savory and delicious, Fatty Crab’s win in my book. With the same basic set up – a fluffy, sweet steamed bun, a fatty, caramelized slice of pork belly, Hoisin sauce – Fatty Crab goes the extra mile with its spicy cilantro salad to stuff into the bun and its bulls eye of Sriracha in the bowl of Hoisin dipping sauce. Be careful – once you stop eating you really start to feel the burn. The slices of hardboiled egg on the plate help a little.

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