Brooklyn Brewery

As a fan of craft beer, I’m always looking for new local breweries. Before we moved to NYC, I had heard of Brooklyn Brewery and tried their beers when I was in town. But actually being able to go to the source and sample all of that goodness has become a staple for my out-of-town visitors.

The brewery is nestled in a Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn that you can access from the L train after a short walk. It’s in an old warehouse where they have a large tasting room and small store. You can take a tour of the brewery, although Mark and I found it rather disappointing. You can buy one token for $5, or you can spend $20 for five tokens to get your samples. On average the beers are one token with special brews costing two.

My absolute favorite beer is the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace which is an IPA style beer. It’s made with Japanese hops, sorachi, and has a very unique, almost floral and citrus finish. The lager and brown ale are very popular and available at most bars, so I recommend people trying seasonals and specialty brews.

They don’t serve food here, but there is a food truck outside almost all the time. You can also order food to be delivered! Such a fun place to hang with friends and especially to bring out-of-towners who are appreciative of microbrews!


Central Park Walking Tour

I have been on almost every single Free Tours by Foot walking tour in NYC now, some more than once! I have been to Central Park many, many times, but had never been on the tour….and I loved it!

The tour starts off at 59th St and 5th Ave by the lovely Plaza Hotel and ends at 72nd St and Central Park West – or Strawberry Fields by where John Lennon was assassinated.

The tour covers the small man made lakes, the Central Park Zoo, the Mall and Literary Walk, amphitheater and other scenic areas of the park. We were given the gamut of history…over 150 years worth! It’s a spectacular place and I absolutely love it. I encourage everyone who comes to NYC to visit the park, and if you can carve a couple of hours out of your trip – the tour too.

Hurricane Sandy and NYC

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, Mark and I were in New Orleans, which was ironic. We ended up being evacuated for two weeks with no electricity, hot water or sanitation.

We watched the news along with the rest of the world, horrified by what we saw. Our neighborhood in the Financial District was devastated, along with the rest of the coastline of New York and New Jersey.

It’s going to take a long time to get the coastlines back where they were before the storm, but New York City is resilient, and it will come back.

Some photos of the damage in our neighborhood are included in this post.

Janet Kurnatowski Gallery

It would most likely be a rare occurrence that someone visiting NYC would go to the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery – unless they were coming specifically for an art show. However, we attended a gallery opening the other night and it was such a neat little spot I had to share.

We were invited to a gallery opening for Craig Olson and his show “18 Melodies for the Barbarian Flute.” The gallery itself is on a quiet street in Brooklyn, not far from the G train station, on Nelson street. Cozy and modern, the garden level of the building houses this gallery, which is small but accommodating.

Lighting is of the utmost importance in any art show, and the lighting was perfect here. Each piece seemed to bask in its own spotlight and captured all of us. Without question this is due to the talent of Craig, who is immensely creative, but having the perfect setting for such a momentous evening is imperative.

Should you ever come to the city and want to take a hike to Green Point, Brooklyn, check out Janet Kurnatowski Gallery.

New Amsterdam Market

New Amsterdam Market

Just about every city has a Farmer’s Market (or several), so one wouldn’t think there was anything all that special about the New Amsterdam Market in Lower Manhattan. However, this has been one of my favorite weekend activities since we discovered it when we moved here this past Spring.

Located under FDR Drive at South Street Seaport, the New Amsterdam Market has an incredible view of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Rain or shine, from 11am to 4pm every Sunday, the New Amsterdam Market is open for business. With a Zagat rating of 28 out of 30, the culinary diversity of the market is sure to please just about every palate. Vendors come from all over New York State, from Manhattan to the Seneca Valley, to hock their specialties. The vendors differ from week to week – sometimes food trucks may be featured for adventurous foodies; other times farmers with delicious, fresh, organic produce. So far my favorite vendors are the ones with fresh goat cheese, specialty jellies and the fresh butter that is 100% cream. Delish!

Every Sunday is amazing and completely worth the trip down to South Street Seaport. After you’re done browsing and sampling the goodies at the New Amsterdam Market, walk across the street to the Fulton Street Market.

The Fulton Street Market is a row of not only food vendors, but artists too. Find a special momento to take home to remind you of your memorable trip to NYC or pick up some fresh, homemade mozzarella or burrata from Bambino’s Fresh Pasta Co.

Most vendors are cash only, so come prepared! Enjoy!

Brooklyn Heights Walking Tour

While my dad was visiting recently, I was unable to get time off from work to spend the whole week with him . So I asked him if he was up for a walking tour each day he was here and he said, “Sure!” I told him by the time he left he would know more about the city than my husband and I combined – I was right!

Fortunately, I was able to go on a Saturday walking tour with him, in which we explored Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn has about as much history as Manhattan – Brooklyn comes from the Dutch word Breukelen – and is more populous than Manhattan, with 2.5 million people.

The tour took us from the days of the Dutch settlers and farmlands, to Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. We walked from Borough Hall, (which was the city hall building originally) through neighborhoods that are quintessential Brooklyn, and ended at the Brooklyn Bridge.

The tour explained the gradual transformation from farmland, to the home of many of the rich and powerful during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The borough saw a period of decay and has more recently entered a period of gentrification, making the area very desirable to families and people who have a lot of money to spend. Walking along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade it’s easy to see why; you have the best view of the Manhattan skyline that money can buy.

There are now streets full of restaurants, bars, boutiques and coffee shops. It definitely has a neighborhood feel that is very New York, but also feels like you are away from the madness of the city.

Another great tour by Free Tours by Foot. I highly recommend to anyone who has an interest of learning about another borough while in NYC.

Greenwich Village Comedy Club

In San Diego I never latched on to the Groupon deals that have been so prevalent over the past few years. I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. However, since moving to NYC, I have found Groupon to be a great way to explore the city and try new restaurants, for a fraction of the cost.

Recently my husband and I have been on this comedy kick, so when Groupon offered a deal to Greenwich Village Comedy Club ($20 for two tix, two drinks, and two tix to a future show), I jumped on it. The venue is right on McDougal street, home to inexpensive and delicious food finds like Artichoke Pizza and Mamoun’s (which I wrote about here), and also very close to NYU. There are a lot of college kids that go to bars and restaurants in this area, so it has a fun vibe. I counted 3 comedy clubs on the street, but there may have been more.

The club reminded me a little bit of Eastville Comedy Club, (which I wrote about here) with its lackluster interior and exterior, and that made me a little nervous. But the quality of the comedy surpassed that of Eastville and still came under Gotham Comedy Club (which I wrote about here), which in all honesty, is really hard to beat.

The drinks that you are required to buy, two per person, weren’t that spendy and the staff members were pretty nice and accommodating. Various comedians, I believe six in all, had quality stand-up routines, although there was a couple that had to work a bit harder for the laughs.

All-in-all, in judging the club based on value, this was excellent. I don’t know how quick I would jump on regular ticket prices, but it seems to me that they offer discounted tickets often.

Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour

One of the characteristics of a memorable walking tour is a knowledgeable and personable tour guide. We got both in our Lincoln Assassination walking tour from Free Tours by Foot. From the very beginning it was clear our guide was an historian and story-teller…maybe even an actor. The tour was more of a story than a history lesson – a sad, intriguing murder story.

The tone was set from the very beginning of the nighttime tour with thunder, lightning and rain threatening us the entire two hours. We began at the White House, retracing President Lincoln’s final moments, then moved on to the home where William H. Seward (Lincoln’s Secretary of State) lived and was bludgeoned, and finally on a walk that stretched to Ford’s Theater, where President Lincoln met his fate at the hands of John Wilkes Booth.

We learned about the “Lincoln Curse” which haunted those associated with the assassination for years after the murder. Our guide gave us a glimpse into the past as he took us past the hotel where John Wilkes Booth stayed in the days and weeks before he changed American history forever.

From beginning to end it was a captivating story, told by an expert storyteller, and one of the better walking tours I have been on. I highly recommend it!

National Mall Walking Tour

Free Tours by Foot (FTbF) not only has amazing free walking tours in NYC, but also in Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and Washington D.C. During our recent Labor Day weekend trip to the Capital, we went on a couple of walking tours and weren’t disappointed.

Washington D.C. is a fabulous tourist city – the Smithsonian museums, along with many others, are free to the public. Not only are the museums free, but so are the monuments. This walking tour covered the National Mall, which is a stretch from the Capital building, down to the Lincoln Memorial at the foot of the Potomac River.

This tour focused on the stretch between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, and like most of these walking tours, was two hours in length. It was enough time to learn about and explore the Washington Monument, World War II Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Memorial. There is a bevy of history and information associated with each of these, but rather than bog you down with boring facts, the tour guides give you the important facts and anecdotes about each site, things that are easy to remember and digest. This is one of the many reasons I’m such a big fan of FTbF.

Anyway, we were able to capture some great photos and memories as we retraced the steps of many politicians, policymakers, historians and difference makers. What a thrill to be able to stand on the same spot at the Lincoln Memorial where MLK Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, looking out over the reflective pool and on to the Washington Monument.

After the tour, we followed it up with a self-guided tour of the MLK Jr. Memorial and a walk to the White House.

What we got: a free and excellent tour, with a very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide.

What we paid for it: a generous tip.

What more could a tourist ask for?

Eastville Comedy Club

Not all comedy is created equal. Even if a known comedienne is headlining. This is what we learned when we recently saw a show at Eastville Comedy Club.

After our outing to Gotham Comedy Club was so successful, we wanted to see what NYC had to offer in the way of comedy that’s a little more cost effective. Goldstar, which offers discounted tickets for myriad activities, had FREE tickets posted for a couple clubs, one of which was Eastville. Free is a relative term, unfortunately. Even though the tickets themselves were complimentary, we had to pay a service charge to Goldstar ($12) and the club had a two drink minimum. Our night of free comedy racked up a $50 bill.

But I digress. The club’s located in the East Village, which has quickly become one of our favorite neighborhoods in the City. There is a ton to do there in the way of restaurants, bars, speakeasies, shows and people watching. The establishment is small, cramped and hasn’t seen an upgrade since Johnny Carson was on The Tonight Show. I’m ok with that actually, as long as the comedy is decent.

The draw to Eastville was the big name of the evening, Janeane Garofalo. Her comedy is always borderline social/political commentary, a la Bill Maher or George Carlin (but I’m not saying she’s as funny or sharp as them!) which is what we like from time to time. The comedian preceding her wasn’t funny at all and the saddest person up there was the host. He was so unfunny it was painful to watch. Garofalo was just ok, with an interesting perspective, but her commentary was a little stale. The actual headliner (I don’t remember his name) was of average funniness. He was what I would expect from an opening act at Gotham, but he wasn’t there either.

Moral of the story, just because it’s FREE doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything. And just because it says “Comedy Club” doesn’t mean it’s funny.