Brunch at Castle Hotel & Spa, Upstate NY

It was my husband’s birthday on Monday. We had planned a trip to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend, but due to Hurricane Irma, we thought we’d better cancel it. So we had to change our plans for the weekend and think about how to do something special on Saturday and Sunday – since Monday is a complicated day to celebratet, right? On Saturday, we watched a Broadway play and on Sunday we went to see a place that was already on my list, the Castle Hotel & Spa, which is in Tarrytown, upstate New York.

Only thirty minutes north of Manhattan, Castle Hotel & Spa sits majestically atop one of the highest points in Westchester County overlooking the Hudson River amid sprawling acres of manicured gardens and grounds. With over 100 years of history, begins shortly before the turn of the 20th century, when General Howard Carroll, a well-respected newspaperman, playwright and businessman, purchased the land as a home for his growing family. The Castle was built in two stages between 1897 and 1910, in a style reminiscent of Norman fortification in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The finished castle boasted 45 rooms. General and Mrs. Carroll were notable social figures in Westchester County and New York City society. Following General Carroll’s death in 1916, his widow and children, Caramai, Arthur and Lauren, occupied the Castle until 1940, when it was rented for a brief period to a local school.  In 1941, Emerson and Ruth Axe bought the Castle and 64 acres of land for $45,000, and turned it into the headquarters of H.W. Axe & Company, an investment counseling firm. In 1981, the town of Tarrytown designated The Castle a historic landmark, protecting the outside structure from any alterations in the future. Between 1994 and 1996 the Castle was transformed into a luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant and meeting and event facilities. In early 2013, a new renovation included the introduction of the luxurious THANN Sanctuary Spa, known throughout Asia as an oasis of peace and tranquility.

By now, you should be imagining that the price for staying and spa services is not what we might call affordable. Maybe someday we can check out, but now we were more than happy with an experience at Eqqus restaurant, which is inside the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch. We researched about it before and found that brunch has a fixed price menu. We liked the idea and we booked a table. Although  OpenTable showed that there were no more tables available, we called the restaurant and were able to reserve a spot.

The restaurant atmosphere and decor is beautiful and, in the place where we were, there was a wonderful view of the garden – where a wedding was happening. Brunch costs $42 (plus fees and tips) and includes a first course, main course, and dessert, plus a glass of Mimosa or Sparkling wine. To start, Thiago chose the Chicken Liver Mousse – served with toast. I chose the Sweet Corn Risotto, in a great size if we considered it was like an appetizer. For main course, we decided to choose a sweet option and another savory one, to share. We ordered a burger, with egg and fries and the pancakes with blueberry. Guys, seriously, I died for those pancakes. I’m water mouthing thinking about it! Our desserts were the Crème Brulee Espresso and the Opera Cake. All delicious, we could not stand to eat anymore!

Eqqus also has a fixed price menu option for dinner and for lunch, and also la carte. You can check all the menus here. To make a reservation, click here.

After lunch, we walked around to explore the castle surroundings and take some photos. It’s all so beautiful and peaceful. I wonder how magical the landscape must be in the fall season! Remember that there are special packages that include spa + brunch services. You can check everything on the website.

How to get there? By Metro-North trains. Trains depart from Grand Central and also from 125th St, Harlem. You can buy your ticket on the machines and you choose Round trip, destination Tarrytown. Prices may vary depends peak and off peak. In our case, it was a Sunday and we spent $20 per person, round trip. Check the screens with information about the train to know the track of your train. Keep your ticket. We departed from Harlem at 10:54 and we arrived 11:250pm. Fast! The path goes by the edge of Hudson River – and the view is amazing. Once you arrive in Tarrytown, there are several taxis already waiting in the area. From the train station to the Castle is about 5 minutes and the ride costs from $ 8 to $ 10. Download MetroNorth apps:  Train Time and eTix.

If you are planning to visit the Castle, consider to spend a day in Tarrytown and check out Kykuit – The Rockefeller Estate in upstate NY. Check out my post about it.

The old lady, the barefoot man, the French couple: my neighbors in New York City

Last week I wrote a post about anonymity in New York, the other side of this story of no one knowing you here. How we lose our references, how we are no longer who we were. Interestingly enough, in the same week, a curious fact happened – and this fact made me think about my neighbors and what I know about them.

You see, I live in an old New York building, known as a prewar, that is, a building that was built between 1900 and 1939. We don’t have an elevator, but we have plenty of space. We don’t have a big company running the building anymore like we did before – and, incredible as it may seem, we have more attention here than there. I never forget the day on delivered boxes from more than 10 apartments disappeared in our previous building and the administration did what? Nothing. They demonstrated neither sympathy nor concern. “If you have ordered something, it is your responsibility.” In New York, people don’t care.

And we also have fewer neighbors. If in the old building, a construction from the 80’s, there were about 60 apartments, in the current, there are only 11. Three on the ground floor and two on each next floor, until the sixth. Yes, there is no elevator, and yes, there are people living on the sixth floor. New Yorkers are used to stairs. I don’t think I would get used to it, since I was already losing my breath – and the excitement with whatever was the offer – when visiting apartments on higher floors. Returning to the neighbors, I had no contact with almost anyone in the previous building. It took almost two years to get to know the face of the young man who lived in the apartment next to ours. I remember we always heard him arriving at night, and the doors were so close that I was always scared, thinking someone was trying to get into our house. There was also a very nice lady who lived downstairs. The first time I met her at the elevator, she was super sweet and nice and asked me which apartment I lived in. Then, I was surprised when she, a few minutes later, went upstairs, knocked on my door and said, “Come and have some coffee anytime.” I thanked her, met her a few more times and never visit her to have that coffee. Also, we had a super scandalous neighbor upstairs. Shoot the first underwear who has never dealt with a neighbor like this … lol!

Now, going back to my current building … it took me about three months to meet some neighbor. It happened in the most unusual situation possible. I had gone to the gym and left my cell phone at home. When I arrived, disheveled and sweaty, I tried to open the door of my apartment and who said that it opened? “What am I going to do now?” There was no way I could call my husband or a locksmith. I knocked the door at the apartment below mine. The neighbor, a very friendly American woman, with a very nice baby and a dog that was bigger than me, opened the door. The idea was to try to climb the fire escape since it was summer and my bedroom window was open. Trying in vain: the ladder was too high. While she tried to help me with what to do, she kept talking. She told me that her husband had gone out to get the car after he had had a mini panic attack when he thought their car had been stolen. He had only confused the street where the car was parked. Men … As for my apartment, well, I had to go to the third floor, knock on the door of another neighbor and go down the fire escape. It was an adventure. The ladder is steep and tight. And I did not even have my cell phone to save that moment! I must point out, of course, the readiness with which the old lady from 3B answered my request. Think about it: a girl in gym clothes, whom you have never seen in your life, shows up at your door at 11 AM wanting to come into your house and jump out the window. I could not help but notice how dark was the apartment, which had black curtains closed on a beautiful sunny day.

It turned out that the couple with the baby moved a few weeks later. They were replaced by a French couple – a fact I discovered on a Saturday afternoon, by chance, when the guy was cleaning the backyard  (their apartment on the ground floor has a private backyard) while listening to something that might have been a French radio … Of course, they may be Canadians, too. We have heard the accent and concluded that they are foreigners, like us. Oh, and their baby is born; we heard her crying at night sometimes and today we hear her cute laughs. On some summer Sundays, they promoted lunches in the backyard that seemed to be a delight. They received several friends and made us a little nervous to keep the door of the building open for their visitors. The lack of collective sense, at this time, is quite irritating. You know, as a Brazilian, we are suspicious, we are used to live with a locked door and we already imagined that anyone who is passing by could take the opportunity to get into the building and steal something.

Our building still has a few characters. There is the man with gray hair that smokes and every day comes downstairs to quench his addiction – after all, smoking is not allowed inside the building. He is the barefoot man, as he leaves his apartment, goes down the stairs and stands on the outside steps of the building, barefoot. Barefoot. Such a sight makes me shiver, for I can imagine how much dust and hair stick to the soles of his feet – not to mention the contact with the feces from pigeons, which leave their marks in various corners – including on the steps where he stands, swallowing his cigarette, while reading the newspaper. I have no idea if he is married, if he has children or if he lives alone. But he always greets with a good morning or a hello. In our building, there is also the funky girl who lives in one of the studios on the ground floor. She has a very cute puppy – a fact that intrigues me, after all, we were not allowed to have a pet – listen to Hare Krishna music and light incense. I saw her a few times when she’s taking her pet outside. I was already forgetting the handsome. I met him the other day when I was leaving early for the gym and he was certainly going to work. Dressed in a suit, all cute, with a delicious perfume that I could smell, he opened the door for me and wished “good morning” with good humor. I remember thinking about how the guy should be happy – after all, it’s not so common to find New Yorkers in such a good mood on a Tuesday morning. There is also the neighbor from the other studio, which watches TV with loud volume. The front window of his studio is facing the street and below is the place where are located the four containers for the tenants put the garbage. It may not seem like it, but eleven apartments produce a lot of waste. So much waste that everyone used to pile up a lot of garbage there – rising to the window of the poor neighbor who, disgusted, left a note in his window. The message was simple: do not pile up your trash, I live here. Fair. Since then, no one else has did that.

And there is also the old lady, from the title of the post. The one I left last. The one who opened the door for me to exit her window and enter my apartment that was not opening at all. As soon as we moved in, she ended up meeting us at the entrance to the building. Very kind, she took my hand, welcomed me and said that she loved to live here. This I remembered well afterwards, of course. I remember that I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard her say it and concluded: we chose our new home well. After all, if an old person was happy living there, it meant she had peace and quiet, which I also want it in a home. Four months later, this same lady was the protagonist of an episode that I will never forget. It was a summer night, my mother and my sister were here visiting us. My mother was washing the dishes – look at the irony, it took me several months to use my dishwasher – my husband was taking care of the pizza leftovers that we had ordered for dinner and my sister and I were checking the pictures we took that day. It was late, around 11 pm. Suddenly, my sister nudges me and points to the door. That lady had come into my house. We didn’t use to lock the door until the time before bed. Very frightened – and without remembering who she was exactly – I asked what was happening. She replied that she heard voices. “Um, we’re talking too loud,” I thought, and, in fact, we were laughing and talking, and I answered quickly – and bothered with such boldness, “Well, you could have knocked on the door, hum?” I was frightened, after all, a strange person had entered my apartment. I felt fear, I confess, but she was helpless. She asked where the other people were. My husband offered her some pizza. We followed a sequence of quick dialogues – while my mother, who doesn’t speak English, looked at everything smiling, not understanding anything. We decided to ask the lady where she lived. She didn’t know. She didn’t remember. She suddenly realized that she had got lost on her mind. It was when I remembered that she was the lady from 3B. My husband followed her to her apartment, where her sister was waiting for her, very uncomfortable and impatient – and without seeming to be worried that the lady was going through pajamas by herself at that time of the night. We concluded that the old lady had a problem. Alzheimer’s, maybe. We felt bad. We were pitiful and in the end we were relieved that our door was unlocked and she had entered our house. Who knows where she might have gone and what could have happened to her …

One year later, around the same time, Thiago and I were watching another episode of Narcos. Suddenly, someone knocks on our door. I got scared. It was too late, we did not know anyone in the building who had the intimacy to knock on our door at that time. The knocks continue. I was afraid. I say to Thiago: don’t open, look who it is. Yes, it was the lady, again. I also looked through the peephole and saw her in her pajamas when I heard someone calling her from above: “You live in 3B.” Confused, she didn’t even know if, to get to 3B, she should go down or up. The voice guides her and says she has to go upstairs. And there she was. Maybe she tried to come into our apartment again, but our door was now locked.

I started to think about how many things happened in the last year: how many discoveries, how many changes, how many people came into my life, how many came out, how many hassles I had, how many joys, how many plans, how many defeats, how many achievements. And I felt grateful for each of those things …

No, this is not my house, but could it be … how many lives, how many stories, how many joys and how many sorrows hide behind those doors?

Beauty: Mature skin cosmetics to buy in New York

You know beauty is one of the strong subjects here on the blog – and one of my passions, which led me to even create aNew York beauty app – click here to know more. I’ve done lots of posts and videos with tips from stores and products here in the city – you can explore the content on the “beauty” menu. And one of the requests I receive most is product tips for those who have mature skin. This request is interesting because, in reality, the products that I suggest here, be it makeup, skin or hair, are indicated for all. My mother, for example, uses everything I bring her – and I use the same ones. She loves! So, to help my readers with mature skin who want to buy skincare products here in New York, I asked my mom to list the products she liked best! She is 55 years old and I think a lot of my love of cosmetics is due to her! I grew up seeing her applying creams, she was always taking care of herself! I hope you enjoy the tips. All the products she quotes were chosen by me. Some were bought and others I got from PR – she ends up helping me test everything!

Taking care of the skin is for the woman who loves herself. We are born and we die. In this interval, we live. And living implies taking care, after all, of our face, our identity. Although there is a certain aesthetic dictatorship today, I think that regardless of age or naturalness, taking care of yourself is good. Our face specifically shows who we are. I know many women who ask for cosmetics suggestions, they buy them and they forget them in the drawer, waiting for the action of the cream by symbiosis … Anyway … I remember what my mother said, from when I became a teenager: “Take care of your skin, because after the damage is done, there is nothing to do it”. Wise words. I also remember someone, already advanced in age, saying that taking care of your skin can happen in many ways, from an expensive cream to a white rose tea applied with cotton. So, with this love that I have of taking care of my skin, then I share my experiences.

Revitalift Triple Power Deep-Acting Moisturizer, L’oréal – I like moisturizer because it has a silky texture. Also, I think this is due to the ingredients because it leaves skin super hydrated and with a radiant appearance. I noticed that the lines are less evident, which is very good, right? For my skin, there were no problems with pimples. Highly recommend. It’s what I’m currently using. And I never forget: always after cleaning. Sometimes I use a tonic before, which enhances the luminosity.

Laura’s note: the formula has Hyaluronic Acid, a powerful ingredient to moisturize the skin, and also Pro-Xylane, is an ingredient originally developed by Lancome in 2006. Although Hyaluronic Acid is not present in a large amount in the formula, Pro-Xylane is and this molecule is able to perform better and penetrate the skin more easily. As a result, it gives more elasticity, fill and tonus.

Price: $25, on average. Where to buy it? Drugstores, Target, Walmart and Harmon.  Click here to buy on Amazon.

Radiant Youth Firming Crème, Volante Skincare – AMAZING! I started to use it when the summer season was ending. It performed miracles with the appearance of my face. No matter if you use sunscreen, the sun always damages the skin. Maybe that’s why the result was so clear: the appearance of lines and wrinkles got better, I noticed my skin was firmer and, better, radiant! I didn’t have any pimples at all.

Laura’s note: this formula is designed to nourish the skin while providing gentle exfoliation to reveal a retexturized complexion that is always glowing and radiant. A potent cocktail of antioxidants shields the skin from free-radical damage, preventing future signs of aging. 

Price: $85.Where to buy it? Volanté website  and Cedra Pharmacy. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Egg White Pore Mask, Skinfood –  when Laura brought some Korean products, I thought, uh, “I don’t think this is good” … but I was being prejudiced because this mask is a dream. Do you know when your skin is tired, especially when the week is ending? Well, nothing better than it: you can apply on your face and forget it. Or rather, you leave it for about twenty minutes, is the time that I leave it. It has a not so smooth texture. I like to apply on my face a little wet, just a little. Then I wash, I apply a toner and a moisturizer. The result is very good: skin refreshed!

Laura’s note: let’s make it clear that she liked this product so much that she got mine! Since then, she probably has used three masks! This is also one of my favorite masks and is one of Skinfood’s best-selling products. If you have oily skin, it is excellent!

Price: $10, on average. Where to buy it? Besfren Beauty – 315 5th Ave.  Click here to buy on Amazon

Eye Contour Crème, 19 Orbe: when I use a cream for the first time I can tell if it makes a difference or not. This is what happened to this eye cream: soooo good! I noticed luminosity, firmness, and smoothness in the wrinkles. I like to apply at night and make movements from top to bottom.

Laura’s note: the formula has dark circle detox peptide complex,  active molecule lift (under eye bags), amino acid complex, oil soluble vitamin C, mugwort and algae extract and barrier protection moisture complex. I know it is pricey, but you can ask for a sample at Space NK to try it.

Price: $180. Where to buy it? Space NK (a lot of locations, check out on my app NYC Beauty).  Click here to buy on Amazon.

Revitan Enhancer, Dr. G – this treatment line is very good. The results are encouraging. The fluid in the ampoules smoothes expression lines fantastically. To try it, apply a drop on the back of the hand. The result is worthy of before and after. Use at night, after cleaning. You may notice greater firmness and vigor in the skin if you apply on your neck. But to prove it, take the test I suggested. Your skin will thank you!

Laura’s note: this collection features two sets. The first one has cream, toner, and emulsion.  The second one has 4 bottles of ampoule within a week for the optimal result as a 4 weeks program.  Highly Concentrated EGF Complex with dual functional care for more clear and elastic skin. Dr G is a Korean brand created by a famous doctor. 

Price: Revital Enhancer Cream Set $115 – Revital Enhancer Ample $189. Where to buy it? Club Clio (a lot of locations, check out on my app NYC Beauty).

Charcoal Flower Mask, Soo Ae – this whole line of masks is really amazing. Do you know that day when you decide to love your skin? Then, after bathing and cleansing, apply the mask and relax. Think you’re in a spa! Laura gave me lots of these masks and I gifted some friends with them. The results were highly commented. Too bad we don’t have it here in Brazil. I always use it at night, and after 15 minutes I take the mask off and massage. I leave it on the face until the next day, because the skin absorbs it totally.

Laura’s note: these are the famous Sheet Masks, I’ve talked about them several times, in several videos! Although my mother has written about this one, in particular, every Korean store has a wide range of Sheet Masks. Worth buying several, since the price is great!

Price: $5 on average. You can find sheet masks for less! Check out on my app NYC Beauty.

Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum, Lancôme – This product is very good. When I apply it, I realize how my skin needs it. Looks like it’s thirsty! Absorption is immediate. It improves the texture of the skin and defines the contour. I always use morning and evening. The results are good.

Laura’s note: this Lancôme serum is pricey. Again, I suggest asking for a sample on Sephora to try it. Another amazing tip: L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Serum Intense Daily Treatment is a good dupe for Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate. They share the same benefits and side effects. Lancome serum contains a form of vitamin C.  If you use the L’oréal one, follow it up with an antioxidant-rich moisturizer that can counteract the drying effects of alcohol and help fight premature aging.

Price: $105. Where to buy it? Sephora.

Water Vital Sleeping Mask, Dr. G – this was another product that Laura brought me and I loved it. It is like a cream, but it has a mask function and I apply it as the last step of the night care routine. It is remarkable the difference he makes in the skin, the face wakes up revitalized! The formula is super light and not sticky.

Laura’s note: I think it is great for those who are lazy to follow a routine, because you just apply it and sleep. It has a cream formula and the benefits of a mask! You should use the product 2 to 3 times a week.

Price: U$36. Where to buy it? Club Clio (a lot of locations, check out on my app NYC Beauty).

Soft Milk Whipping Cream, Mizon – this cream works! Normally, when we apply a cream on our faces, we realize the result, but we do not stand in front of the mirror for 24 hours to see how the skin behaves. I started to use it and I gave it to my mother, since she had finished the one she had it. Well, she’s 87 years old and her skin looks wonderful! All about compliments: from her to the cream and from her daughters and sons about her skin: “How beautiful you are!” “What did you have on your face?” That is, Laura, maybe a gift for the next, visit? Radiant skin and smoothing wrinkles. Do you want more?

Laura’s note: I bought this one in a Peach & Lily sample sale

Price: $15 eBay

Premium Gold Snail Cream, Goodal – another very good cream. The texture is somewhat strange, it’s a gel, after all, but if we look at the source, it’s explained, right? I noticed, after the first application, the improvement in texture and elasticity. Good for fighting sagging and smoothing lines and wrinkles.

Laura’s note: snail extract is an ingredient used by a lot of Korean brands, because of the anti-aging properties. 

Price: $52. Where to buy it? Club Clio (a lot of locations, check out on my app NYC Beauty).  Click here to buy on Amazon.

Did you like my Mom’s tips? Do not forget to download my app NYC Beauty and also follow our profile on Instagram @nycbeautyapp – with daily product tips.

Quick and cheap bites in New York City – Soho/Greenwich Village – part 2

Today’s post was written by my husband, Thiago. He worked for a while in Soho and having lunch there every day, he discovered a lot of nice and cheap places. This is the second post about it – and you can check out the first one here. IMPORTANT: the average price per person at these places is $10.

1. Parisi Bakery – With over 100 years of history, owned and operated by the Parisi family, the Parisi Bakery is an Italian bakery that has the best (and perhaps the biggest) “sandwiches” in town. They also provide bread for a wide variety of restaurants in New York City daily. If this is your first time at Parisi, my recommendation here is the famous “The Dennis” sandwich. If the attendant asks what type of bread you want, request for the “Parisi Bread”. The Dennis is a super sandwich with chicken cutlets, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto and a special pesto sauce. In addition to “The Dennis”, two other exceptional choices are “Egg and Potato on a Hero” and the “Salami, Muenster, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Mayo, Mustard, on potato bread.” Frank Sinatra used to buy bread at Parisi on Mott Street and the most interesting thing is that after his move to California, he still kept ordering Parisi bread from New York to California every week. Important notes: Cash only; lines during lunch hours are almost guaranteed and the wait time is between 10 to 20 minutes.

Address: 198 Mott Street (between Spring and Kenmare Street)

2. Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli – As the name itself puts it, Saigon is a deli specializing in Banh mi, typical Vietnamese sandwich, made with chicken or pork and filled with vegetables and green leaves (usually cilantro) on a baguette bread. Introduced by the French, who at the beginning of the 20th century took baguette bread to Vietnam, Banh mi initially had only bread, butter, and ham or pâté – a typical Parisian sandwich. But over time, during the period of French Indochina’s colonization, some native ingredients from the region such as cucumbers, carrots, and daikon began to be added to the recipe until the wonder we have today. My recommendation is the Bánh mì # 1 House Special with pork. The number # 3, “Grilled Minced Pork with Sweet Glaze”, # 4 “Meatball of Pork & Water Chestnut”, and # 8 “Curry Chicken” are also delicious choices! All Saigon Vietnamese sandwiches contain cilantro, sliced cucumber, pickled daikon & carrot plus the option of additional jalapeño (but I only recommend adding if you like spicy food). Important note: Cash only.

Address: 369 Broome Street (between Mott and Elizabeth Street)

3. Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar – The greatest differential of Taïm compared to other falafel places in New York is that here you choose the falafel flavor that you want. The choices are 1. Green (the traditional, with cilantro, parsley, and mint), 2. Harissa (with Tunisian seasoning) and 3. Olive (with Kalamata olives). Since I am a great falafel lover, my choice here could not be different. Depending on how hungry I’m, I stay among Falafel Sandwich (with pita bread), Falafel Salad or Falafel Platter. If you picked for the sandwich, you have to choose, besides falafel flavor, also the type of pita bread (whole wheat or white) and the toppings (you can ask to have all of them, just say “with everything”). Among the options are amba (sauce made from mango purée and fenugreek grains), s’rug (green sauce with cilantro, garlic, and peppers), pickles and peppers. If you picked the falafel platter, the sides are fixed: hummus, Israeli salad, cabbage salad, and tahini. The Sabich Sandwich, even without falafel in the composition, is a perfect combination of eggplant, boiled egg, hummus, parsley, tahini and Israeli salad. The Sabich is also one of my recommendations. For dessert, you have to try the most traditional dessert of Turkey, the Baklava, a sweet pastry stuffed with pistachio and walnuts. Ah, and if you’re like me, you also have to get one of their smoothies. My favorite is the “Date + Lime + Banana + Soy”.

Address: 45 Spring Street (between Mulberry and Mott Street).

4. Tuck Shop – Tuck Shop is a small chain restaurant specializing in Australian savory pies and rolls with two locations in Manhattan. The variety of pies is incredible, with choices like ground beef, lamb, bbq pork, chicken, mac-n-cheese, and vegetables. The pies are homemade – hand make and bake using natural ingredients. My favorite combo at Tuck Shop is the “Guinness Steak and Mushroom Pie” ($6) with a side of Kale Salad ($6). I still remember the very first time I ate their Kale Salad, it completely changed my perception, I never thought a salad could be so tasty. This combo is more enough for me for lunch. Their 1st street address is small, but there are a few tables to eat there. I’m completely in love with the mixture of pie crust and meat – I love the famous Brazilian “empadão” – so it’s not hard to understand why I like the Australian pies and strongly recommend Tuck Shop. On Fridays and Saturdays, the place is open until 5 AM. I recommend the Australian pies for any time of day, be at lunch or dinner, or even for a quick bite in the afternoon.

Address: 68 E 1st Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue)

5. Bite – With one of the city’s most eclectic menus, Bite is one of the few establishments I know that manages to mix cuisines such as Mediterranean, Thai and Israeli in such a creative way. The bread and cheeses used there are all from local producers. Soups are prepared from scratch every day. The highlight, in my opinion, is the Mediterranean sandwiches and paninis, served on a delicious ciabatta bread. If you like tuna and spicy food as I do, the Mediterranean Tuna Panini with additional Swiss cheese is my absolute recommendation. Bite has 3 locations in Manhattan, but an important note about the Lafayette one is that there is no place or tables to sit and eat there, just the option to grab to go.

Address: 335 Lafayette Street (between Bleecker and Houston Street)

Did you like these tips?

 

Cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen

I’ve always loved cooking, I do not know if I mentioned it here on the blog. I love researching and testing new recipes and I love having my friends for a special dinner. Cooking is like a therapy! My friends know me so well on this subject that on my last birthday, in July, I was surprised by them with a special gift: a cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen! It took me a while to attend the class, but I was there a few weeks ago and my experience was pretty cool and I thought it deserved to be shared here on the blog. In fact, my friends know me so well that when they gave me the gift they said: you can write on the blog later! And, of course, they’re expecting an invitation to dinner too, which I well know. You guys, right? Hehehe.

The Brooklyn Kitchen started out in 2006 as a kitchen store that sometimes had classes. Taylor Erkkinen and Harry Rosenblum, interested and creative home cooks, recognized an opportunity to create a community space in their Williamsburg neighborhood. In 2009, following the insane success of the Pig Butchering classes, they founded the Meat Hook with partners, and moved to the 100 Frost Street location. In July 2017, we open the Industry City cooking studio, a small satellite location that is designed to operate on a Continuous Kitchen model. The Continuous Kitchen philosophy stands in opposition to meal-based and project-based cooking, and instead promotes the practice of cooking a little bit at a time, all the time.

The Brooklyn Kitchen believes that cooking shouldn’t be hard, or laborious, or an Instagram-perfect luxury. Real people should eat home-cooked food every day. Food should be something that we enjoy every day, an opportunity to nourish your body, mind and soul with care and reasonable effort. Cooking isn’t about competition or showing off.  Besides the fact that we are always running in this city – and our apartments have small kitchens – the school believes that there’s time and room for cooking. They have designed a curriculum to inform cooking for home cooks who want to cook better, and have it incorporate into their lives without taking over.

The catalog has more than 30 different classes – individual classes, ranging from techniques to recipes – pasta, soups, sauces, tacos, Japanese street food, vegan food … I chose the homemade pizza class! I love pizza, I’ve made lots of pizza at home – but always buying the dough. That’s not funny, right people? My class was in the Industry City location (it’s an amazing Brooklyn complex, I’ll post about it soon). Our class had 8 students and we learned everything about Neapolitan pizza: from how to make the dough and all the techniques involved until tips on how to choose the toppings. Obviously, we had the hard work of trying everything after … hahaha. The school even offered two beers per person for dinner. I brought home fresh dough for baking later and also received the recipe by email the other day. The lesson was very enjoyable and fun: our teacher was very dear and excited and followed closely everything we were doing.

Highly recommend! I’m crazy to do pasta class! I think it’s a great opportunity for people who live here and want to do something different – and, increase their culinary skills. I also think it’s cool for those who are traveling and have more time in the city – after all, it’s a great opportunity to practice your English! It is worth remembering that The Brooklyn Kitchen classes are all individual. Each class lasts about two hours and costs $95 each. You can click here to check all the classes. To know about class availability, click on “view details” or check the calendar here.

Locations: 100 Frost St / 220 36th St #2-A.

Experiences will make you happier – amazing things to do in New York without spending too much!

 This article was written in collaboration with the Flights.com campaign – Unboxing the next travel experience

Among the thousands of self-esteem and motivation quotes that we see on our social media every day, there is one well-known: collect moments, not things. As cliché as this may seem, it is so true! Science has even proven that this is more than a beautiful quote to be used on that Instagram caption. Investing your money in experiences increases the chances of leading a happier life, according to several surveys conducted over the past few years. One of these surveys, led by Thomas Gilovich, from Cornell University, United States, revealed that when we buy something, we are happy because we have achieved something we wanted, but only for a particular time. This is because it is one more thing that we adapt to our habits. Soon, we will forget about it.

A lot of people take some time to figure this out. In fact, none of these thousands of things that we think we need will be so important in the future. Just stop and think a little about the best memories of your life so far – they probably involve people, moments and experiences, right? Experiences enrich our souls and our hearts. They make us reflect, grow, mature. I still remember my move to the United States. I always wanted to live abroad, and it all happened very fast. When I knew that we would move here, I was euphoric. After the joy of the first moment, I freaked out. I had an apartment with furniture I loved, clothes I wanted to bring with me, dozens of shoes, books, cosmetics. In a few weeks, all right, I realized how stupid I was to worry about those things. I was moving to New York! The experiences matter. And I learned so much during this wonderful journey … I have changed so much – for the better, I believe – and deconstructed so much in me! That’s what I’ll always remember if I ever leave New York: the places I’ve known, the things I’ve learned, the flavors I’ve tasted.

That’s why I loved it when Flights.com invited me to write about its latest campaign. The main theme is that buying the latest and greatest things (whatever that may be) won’t make you happier, but experiences and travel will!  This has a lot to do with the way I travel today, because although yes, I like clothes and cosmetics, what my husband and I love most in New York is the possibility to know many different places and also to have contact with various countries through fantastic restaurants. No wonder when we go to another city, our travel itinerary is focused on this: fabulous restaurants and places. To celebrate this campaign, I’ve listed below 10 incredible experiences in New York that do not cost much (and, sure, cost less than the price of that new smartphone!).

1. Trapeze class – it doesn’t matter if you will repeat the experience or not. The class that I took at Trapeze School here in New York was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. Impossible to describe the feeling of freedom and satisfaction of being able to repeat the moviments. Besides that, from April to November, the school has a location at Pier 40. It’s amazing to fly with the One World Trade Center and Hudson River views. Check out my post about it.

2. Cooking class – one of the things I love most is cooking. I love researching and testing new recipes, and I like to prepare special dinners for my husband and my friends. Food connects people. It’s such a special moment! The Brooklyn Kitchen offers more than 30 individual classes. How about learning how to make pizza or pasta here in New York? Check it out.

3. Lavender Farm in Long Island – Lavender by the Bayit’s a lavender farm located in Long Island, specifically in East Marion in NY State. It is New York’s premier lavender farm and one of the largest in the USA.  A family run farm, it has been growing the highest quality lavender on Long Island for over 15 years. The farm has planted twenty varieties of lavender across seventeen acres of farmland, yielding over 50,000 plants for cultivation. One of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been. Check out my post about the farm. 

4. Kayaking – besides the fact that this activity is fantastic, it is free! Yes, free kayaking in New York, without spend a penny. Hudson River and East River have unique spaces for this practice during the summer. And this is another  activity to add on your to do list during the warmer months. The experience is excellent! It is a delight kayaking and still have as a bonus the beautiful view of Manhattan. I felt amazed to be there contemplating all that beauty, enjoying a cool breeze and further reinforced my idea that this city is fantastic. Check out my post about it.

5. Having a drink on a rooftop – one of the best things to do here in New York is visiting the rooftops. Located on the terraces of the city’s buildings – mostly hotels – they are bars that have a privileged view to the city. There are countless rooftops in the city, and the best thing is that there is always have a new space opening. My favorite here so far is WestLight rooftop which is at The William Vale, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The views are breathtaking. Think about this: views, sunset, and drinks. You don’t need more Check out my post about it. 

6. Pasta tasting – Lupa restaurant, owned by chef Mario Batali, who is also behind Eataly, offers a Pasta Tasting Menu, with five kinds of pasta. All the pasta are homemade. The experience is delicious! Check out my post about it.

7. Picnic at Central Park – Few simple things in life are as great as sitting in a park to relax, read a book, and eat delicious foods. And I always recommend this kind of thing to anyone visiting the city during the warm weather period. Besides yummy, it’s a very local thing. You will see how delightful it is. Check out my post about it.

8. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge –  Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges around the world – and the first built to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn, almost two kilometers long. It was inaugurated in 1883 – 13 years after the start of its construction. Today, on average, 120,000 vehicles cross Brooklyn Bridge every day, and 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists. Crossing this bridge is mandatory for those coming to New York for the first time – and worth repeating if you have other opportunities. Check out my post about it.

9. Cherry blossom season  – Spring in New York is magical. Between the end of April and the beginning of May, we have the cherry blossom season, and you will see flowers in the city. And one of the most beautiful places to see this magic of nature is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. During the blooming season, the area of the Cherry Blossom is the most crowded. I could spend a day there,  just taking pictures of the flowers. They are so many trees and they are so beautiful. Almost too good to be true – but it is! Check out more information.

10. Brunch at Rainbow Room – Rainbow Room was opened in 1934 and it is located on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Plaza – the same building where is Top of the Rock Observatory. It is certainly not a place that you can visit several times, due to its price. But it’s nice to note that this is not merely a restaurant, but an experience! The decor, the food, the service, the music, the views: all these things make the Rainbow Room an unforgettable place for a brunch/lunch in New York. Learn more details here.

Do you like this post and the New York experiences ideas? Don’t forget to visit Flights.com to book your flight and having amazing experiences!