We get it, and we have the perfect present: a membership to the James Beard Foundation or better yet, dinner at the James Beard House.
Someone in your life is a restaurant snob. If you live in New York, then probably half of the people in your life, if not more, are amateur foodies borderline restaurant obnoxious. Maybe they visit Napa, France and Tuscany every year ISO of the most brag-worthy vinos, or maybe they brag Anthony Bourdain style about their culinary adventures in Malaysia. He’s the ICI student looking to fluff their resume. She’s a flat out Upper East Side just food snob. Oh, we aren’t judging. We get it; and we have the perfect present:
A membership to the James Beard Foundation. Tell me you haven’t been living under a rock for the past seven years it took you to become a New Yorker? The James Beard Foundation is only the most celebrate culinary foundation, preserving and nurturing America’s food and wine celebration, since like ever. Duh. Anyway, you don’t have to know what it is; they will know. And LOVE you for it.
There are several different levels of membership each offering insider information into the food world, sneak peak into culinary events and access to renown chefs and winemakers. For a bit more dunkets, you can give your “Wine and Food Enthusiast” an upgraded membership. (Options in detail on their membership site.) There are also special memberships for students and coroporations as well as NYC residents, so be sure your membership purchase is rightly tailored to your favorite foodie.
And if they haven’t visited The James Beard House for dinner, taking them for a night on the town might be even better. It is an experience with a variety of rotating chefs, seasonal specials and creative menus that change every meal. I cannot remember the meal I ate because it is literally ten courses, but somewhere around here I have the souvenir menu they let you print out for wine induced memory reduction. See also: food coma. For reservations, call 212.627.2308. But take a gander at the website first because I’m sure the person working on the other end of the line is sick and tired of answering six trillion questions.
Dog friendly ways to travel in and out of New York city this summer.
You can’t leave Rover behind! I face this battle every weekend when I wheel and deal ways to get my pooch to the Hamptons without smuggling her in my suitcase. For the record, you can take your pooch on the Jitney as long as he/she is crated. If the crate will not fit under your seat, then you must put the dog-in-crate on the seat beside you…and buy an additional ticket for that seat. Do you see the dog-owner dilemma?
Now if you have a small dog who can be toted in a carrier, you are fine. I actually could do it because Mia is only about 30 lbs, but she is a bitch – no pun intended. What if your Rover is a lab, or worse yet, a mastiff. Then how do you get Rover to the Hamptons? Truth be told, you need a car. You need a friend’s car or a pet-friendly driver to tote you to the Jers, Hamptons or Fire Island ferry if you plan to give your pup some beach time. (Metro North allows dogs up to 65lbs for no additional fee as long as they do no disturb other passengers.) I’ve given up my seat in friends cars and taken the train so my puppy can go, but if you aren’t as generous and don’t want to leave the pooch, it’s going to cost you – either morally or financially.
Someone suggested asking my doctor for medical approval. There are many disorders, besides blindness, that require a “service” dog, such as seizure disorders and various forms of anxiety. I’m too chicken to ask my doctor but certain there are plenty Gotham MDs with shaky moral compasses.
Lucky for us, New York is the land of alternatives with services to fit your every need. For dog owners, there is Pet Taxi. Pet Taxi is serious about getting your pooch to the Hamptons or Fire Island. In fact, they have their own webpage for doing so called Hampton Petney (get it, like Hampton Jitney? so clever!). You an your pooch can travel to the Hamptons or Fire Island together! Genius!
Of course the most economical way is to leave pup at home with your neighbor, brother or friend. But then what fun would that be? For information on nationwide dog-friendly beaches, hotels and transportation issues, visit www.dogfriendly.com. Do not forget that dogs might also need some prior vaccination before traveling, be sure to keep a bottle of cough medicine handy. You can find it at kennel cough treatment website.
Listen up all you slackers out there! Sunday is Mother’s Day. That’s right, this Sunday; and it’s way too late to score a reso at Balthazaar…or even at Jane for that matter. Kiss brunch at the Four Seasons or Union Square Cafe bu-bye, for those are taken by Gotham’s Type-A planners. If you plan to eat during the day on Sunday and aren’t skilled enough to cook, you’ll have to take a more colorful, soulful approach. These suggestions may require a trip out of your hood, but don’t cringe grasshopper, you’ll score an A for creativity, effort and research. You can thank me later.
For soul food, you gotta take your mama or wifey to Harlem. Duh. She may use three days worth of weight watcher’s points, but she’ll be so full of southern lovin’, she won’t even care. I have two very comparable recommendations both of which cook traditional, southern soul food and are located in Harlem. Amy Ruth’s, on West 116th Street is delicious. Named after the former owner, Carl Redding’s grandmother, Alabama native Amy Ruth Moore Bass, Amy Ruth’s cooks up some seriously scrumptious family recipes. From chicken and waffles, called the Rev. Al Sharpton, to the smothered pork chops, Amy Ruth’s will have your arteries working overtime and your heart singing Alleluia. The cornbread could use another stick of butter…not! and the Virginia glazed ham sweetly melts in your mouth.
Redding sold Amy Ruth’s to Morning Star Restaurant Group investor, Lawrence Jordan several years back, and although the food remains unchanged, Amy Ruth’s filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Bottom line, if you aim to feed mama Alabama dishes that may be headed for heaven, patron Amy Ruth’s.
And then there’s Sylvia’s. Sylvia’s food is very similar to Amy Ruth’s, but Sylvia’s southern soul hails from South Carolina. Their fare provides a few additional options like a fish of the day and the must-order fried catfish. My dad makes the world’s best fried catfish, so I’m not going to even pretend Sylvia’s compares, but if there were a close second, she’d take the cake…er, um, fish. The lively atmosphere and unlimited cornbread are a major plus. The 80’s decor and celebrity pictures are a little bit of minus, although some claim it adds to the charm.
Either pick is better than taking your mom to wait at Freeman’s or Clinton Street Baking Co. amongst heaps of hungover hipsters. I mean, it’s Mother’s Day. Feed her soul!
Amy Ruth’s 113 West 116th between Lenox Ave. 7 Adam C. Powell Blvd. Open Sundays 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Phone: 212-280-8779
Sylvia’s Restaurant 328 Lenox between 126th and 127th Streets. Open Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Phone: 212-996-2669
On a sunny Friday afternoon, I met the vibrant Vogue City staff for a rooftop lunch at Midtown’s year old modern-nod-to-Mexico hotspot, Pampano. We were greeted by friendly staff who led us upstairs to a coveted corner table on the sought-after roof deck. Our lovely waitress, Claudia, brought classic margaritas and slightly sweet mojitos to toast our witty coverage of ubiquitous sample sales, awe-inspiring apparel and Gotham’s glamish going ons. At first glance, our hesitations geared us towards individual ordering, but group reviews yield multiple opinions, which apparently decrease tester bias (um, I majored in psychology people) while increasing the opportunity to shamelessly overeat.
We began with the yummy guacamole for the table then moved onto the ceviche sampler – halibut, tuna, shrimp and mahi. While we gravitated towards individual favorites, they were all delicious if slightly difficult to eat. If they can’t make the soupy sauce slightly thicker, then these apps could benefit from multiple spoons. The snapper quesadilla was all around deliciousness, and the shrimp empanadas with manchengo cheese savory, but the lobster tacos, which are hailed as ever-popular, were disappointing. They could be tasty in another, less expensive and less hyped establishment, but at Pampano they are lost in the suit-clad crowd. The shrimp quesadilla was a crowpleaser at our table, and I had the Huachinango (red snapper).
No matter how stuffed you are, eat Pampano’s chocolate flan. Claudia brought it out to celebrate our apparel loving contributor’s 27th year, and it was so good we ordered a second. The caramelized bananas were also delicious although had a rough time competing with aforementioned flan. This is not diet food, but we’re over skinny jeans until fall anyway.
So, if you are craving a midday margarita, and who doesn’t in this economy, recruit coworkers, friends, your coffee guy and bank teller for a roof top lunch at Pampano. And try, try ,try and share, share, share. Because, like our mantra here at TVC, sharing is caring chicas.
Pampano New York 209 East 49th Street between 2nd and 3rd 212-751-4545
Sunday 5pm – 9:30pm
Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 10:00pm
Thursday – Saturday 5pm – 10:30pm
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 2:30pm
Monday – Friday 11:00am – 3:00pm
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