Best Meals That I Ate In NYC This Time

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Best Meals That I Ate in NYC This Time

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J. R. R. Tolkien

Incredible food is one of the best parts about visiting NYC. It is funny being a tourist in a city that you grew up in which is now completely different. I feel it most with restaurants. I do not know where the best places to eat are and have to research. Here is what we did this time.

Flora Bar

Flora Bar is located in the former home of the Whitney Museum. It is now the Met Breuer and is the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s space dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The room is attractive with a modern, industrial feel. The floor to ceilings windows bring in lots of natural light and let you look out into the outdoor garden seating area. I thought that it was the best meal we had in NY. The food feels simple but it is inventive and complex. The shrimp cocktail is sweet and flavorful with homemade cocktail sauce. It is Sunday night and the waiter suggests the Sunday night roast chicken dinner which turns out to be the best roast chicken I have ever eaten. it is accompanied by potatoes au gratin, roasted squash, chicory salad and Parker House rolls.

Little Spain

Mercado Little Spain is the Spanish Food Mall created by Jose Andres and Ferran and Albert Adria at the new Chelsea Mall, Hudson Yards. Think Eataly but Spanish. We ate at the Spanish Diner where I had an egg dish direct from Bar Pinxto at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona. The BF had the perfect Barcelona sandwich of Iberian ham, olive oil and tomato on a flauta The market part has many crowded stalls, selling gazpacho, Iberian ham, octopus, churros dipped in chocolate, paella, patatas brava, bread, olive oil, and of course tapas.

Momofuku Saam Bar

For a few years, whenever someone went to NYC, the question was, did you eat at Momofuku Saam Bar? It was interesting food, a lot of pork belly and no reservations. This new version of the restaurant takes reservations (which didnt seem hard to get) and the food was inventive and delicious. We had pork buns, fried brussel sprouts and a whole roasted fish. It was an amazing meal and though there are now many Momofukus and imitations, it lived up to the hype.

Momofuku Nishi

Clearly we were on the David Chang NY tour. We had to cancel our reservations at Noodle Bar but we made it to Nishi. The restaurant is small but we had a great corner table and the service was friendly and efficient. The smoked tomato fusilli, roast chicken, beef carpaccio and bread were all delicious. The picky four year old ate as much as we did. It was the largest amount of food I had seen her eat all week.

Joe’s Pizza

New York had such a large Italian immigrant population that pizza places were everywhere. Everyone had their favorite but they were all good. High gluten flour and NY water are credited with giving the crust its unique taste. It is made with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese and traditionally cut into eight slices. The New York way to eat a slice of pizza is to pick it up and eat it flat to get the full flavor. You can fold it when it gets messy but a knife and fork will immediately peg you as an out of towner. We got Joe’s Pizza delivered to the hotel. Joe’s Pizza has been in the village since the seventies. There are other locations now but it is an independent business and Joe still personally supervises the Greenwich Village location. I immediately eat three pieces and another one later on for dessert. It is the taste of home.

Butter

Butter is owned by the sometimes thin and sometimes fat celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. She is one of those celebrity food judges who’s appearance changes drastically from season to season. The menu is seasonal as well. It’s a great space with intimate booths and high ceilings. Butter is in the theatre district so its a delicious option on a night that you have tickets for a show. It was an odd choice for someone like me who isn’t eating dairy at the moment but the BF loved it. They were totally willing to accommodate us with a perfectly cooked pan seared branzino on wilted spinach and side of grilled broccoli The Bf enjoyed the home made rolls with butter (Get it?)

Nomad Hotel

Chef Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park left to open the Nomad Hotel. We stayed there for a week and had the opportunity to taste many delicious meals. We were told to get the fried chicken, the roast chicken, the weekend brunch and the hot dog. We did (on different days) and it was all great. We ate and drank in the restaurant, the room, the bar and the library. We loved everything about the hotel including the food.

Fly safe,

JAZ

New Years Eve In NYC With A Four Year Old

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New Years Eve In New York With A Four Year Old

“Everyone should have kids. They are the greatest joy in the world. But they are also terrorists. You’ll realize this as soon as they are born and they start using sleep deprivation to break you.-” Ray Romano

 I have always hated New Year’s Eve. Even when I was really young, I hated the exhaustive energy and resources spent on Dec 31. The overwhelming social pressure to go out and have the best night of your life in a skin tight, can’t breathe dress and painful heels in the freezing cold  (yes even in LA) was never my thing. 

Children are the best excuse to stay home on Dec 31. Throughout their childhood, I used my children as human shields to avoid what I considered the worst, most overpriced night of the year to go out. Therefore I jumped at the chance to babysit for my god daughter in NYC on New Years Eve. 

We were staying at the fabulous Nomad Hotel. They had a library room for guests only which served drinks and food. There was a beautiful Christmas tree in the middle. We thought that would be perfect for dinner with a four year old.  It meant getting a bit more dressed up. The four year old  was not as intimidated as I was and said her sweats would be perfect. The hotel definitely felt festive with people decked out in a lot of glitter and glam. 

The evening started in our room with caviar and champagne and a giant lollipop from our recent trip to Dylan’s Candy Store.  Dinner with kids requires a different mindset. They get bored easily and ask a lot of questions. As a god mother and no longer a real parent I downloaded some new kid apps on my Ipad and let her wear sweatpants. Dinner was easy. We shared the famous Nomad fried chicken and had ham and cheese pretzel sandwiches.

We went back to the room and watched Andy and Anderson on CNN who clearly loved the fact that they were famous enough to host the celebration.They threw back way too many shots while we waited for our favorite part – the after show with drunk Don Lemon. He did not disappoint. We love to see this annual classic.

Every year, CNN force-feeds all of their normally serious, news-reporting anchors gallons of alcohol for their live New Year’s broadcast, and Don Lemon never disappoints. This year, we watched his drunken descent into insanity, which included him singing along with a live band and maybe getting a tattoo, and just getting absolutely, undeniably wasted.

 I got her into the bath and then began the long process of getting her out. She negotiates like a polished divorce lawyer. I eventually give in to some of the demands. Her tiny naked body streaks through the hotel room with glee. Wasn’t the bath supposed to calm her down?  

She has seriously good oral hygiene and brushing her teeth can take fifteen minutes.  A  rollaway bed was at the foot of our bed. I crawl into bed with her to tell her some stories. It is one AM. The four year is a child who has always had difficulty falling asleep. I assumed that everyone who has been a parent knows that quiet down time can lead to success.  I answer every random question she can think of to ask.

 The boyfriend climbs into bed with us and starts making us laugh and suddenly he jumps up and says “You know what I like to do before bedtime? I like to twist.” The four year old can not believe her luck. She jumps up and says “You know what I like to do, I like to jump on the bed.”They are twisting and jumping and I am in shock.  His child raising theory is that she will wear herself out and fall asleep. He says that is what happened to his kids. I still don’t know where in the Raising Children Manual it says that. 

Somehow i get her down and we are reading…and reading…and reading. I now hate the Berenstein Bears. It is 2:!5. She says, “I think I need to run around to get rid of some more energy.” I am not falling for that. The BF pops his head up and says ”Go to sleep, This is my mess. I will deal with it.”

He continues with the Berenstein Bears horrified by the meals they are preparing.- with a running commentary on the recipes. Then he changes tactics.

.”The Pilgrims came to America on a big boat. Many of them died on the way.”

 “Is this a bedtime story?”  I ask.

 “The Pilgrims came to America in search of a religious utopia.” 

“ What do the Pilgrim’s look like?,’ asks the four year old in a sleepy voice. 

Then there is silence. I’m afraid to move but I know that when she is out-she is out. I wait a few minutes. She is fast asleep in our bed with both arms around his neck. I laugh to myself about how naive people are before they have children. It is her first time sleeping out. We did it. Happy New Year.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Visiting My Friends At The Museum Of Modern Art, New York

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Visiting My Friends At the Museum Of Modern Art, New York

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”Pablo Picasso

I didn’t know until I was in Junior High School that everyone did not grow up looking at Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lillies. For whatever reason my family spent a lot of time at the Museum Of Modern Art. I don’t know if it was because we loved it or because my mother was legally blind and could see the bright splashes of color. It was our museum.

MOMA was a lot smaller and has been through several renovations but some of the paintings that I loved are still there. I never go to NY without a trip to MOMA to say hello to my paintings.

My first memory is of Henri Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy which was located at the beginning of the gallery. I was looking at a fantasy world more magical then anything I could have imagined.

Picasso’s Dancers, Three Musicians and Matisse’s Dance always put a smile on my face, even if I was not in a good mood.

Jackson Pollack and Yves Klein’s Blue made me question the sanity of the adults in charge of the museum when I was very young. “I could do that,” I would say and my mother would laugh.

 I would stand in front of Picasso’s Guernica and focus on a different part each time. It was from Guernica that I learned about war. The painting was returned to Spain in 1980 which was the year I left New York. I’ve stood in front of it at the Reina Sofia and was surprised at how much smaller it was now that I am an adult. As a kid, it felt like the largest, loudest painting, I had ever seen.

The new MOMA is much bigger and very beautiful. Walking through the building  is disorienting to me. and finding my friends is a lot harder.

  But, the white walls filled with art are as calming to me now as they were in my childhood.

 I look at the crowd of people and security guard in front of Starry Night and remember how many times  I stood in front of it alone. “This is a very  famous painting  and we are so lucky that we get to see it so often,” my mother would say.

I smile at the Picassos, Cezannes and Matisses.  I find familiar Mark Rothkos, Mondrians, and my favorite childhood sculpture Brancusi’s Fish.

We miss the Water Lillies. and go back-just because. 

It is still a wonderful modern art museum and I leave thinking how much the city had changed. I swear that Magritte’s Eye winked at me on the way out. 

Fly safe,

JAZ 

Things To Do With A Four Year Old At Christmas In NYC

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Things To Do With A Four Year Old At Christmas In NYC

“These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our livesJohnny Mathis, Sleigh Ride

I’m babysitting for my four year old god daughter in NYC for a week during Christmas. Her mom is performing in a Tap Nutcracker at the Joyce Theatre to the music arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn Dec 17-January 5. It looks great if you happen to be in New York.

She lives in Tel Aviv so she is a tourist as well. I grew up in New York so  I want to do the things I’ve done as a kid and taken my kids to do. There are so many new things as well. Here is my plan. 

See Frozen the Musical. Frozen is a phenomena. My favorite Frozen story is the one about Idina Menzel’s son (she is the voice of Elsa in the movie). He says, “My mom sings “Let It Go”. “So does mine,” his friend replies.  Elsa, the slightly flawed, princess is everyone’s favorite including my goddaughter who is into robots  and vintage Ninja  Turtles. 

 I loved  going to the Central Park Children’s Zoo. There weren’t a lot of places that were just for kids back then but this one was. It had a castle to climb and a blue whale to go inside.  The zoo was redone by the time I took my kids there and I’m sure it is even better now.

FAO Schwartz opened its doors in 1862. It was the oldest and largest toy store in NY specializing in unique well made toys.There was only the Fifth Avenue store. My mother called it Schwartz’s Toy Store and told us that it was like a museum. Everything was very expensive for us but we could go and play on the five floors of toys for hours. It has reopened in Rockefeller Plaza and though now owned by Toys R Us still hopefully has some innovative and iconic toys.  

As someone who is not so good in math (huge understatement), I am a little nervous about seeing the National Museum Of Mathematics. Will I be able to answer the questions of a four year  old? I look at the website.There are robots, square wheeled tricycles, motion detector activities, digital painting etc.  It looks really cool. 

 Going to see the Nutcracker Ballet is always a great way to kick off the holiday season. I know it is ambitious to take a four year old. You forget how long the Waltz of the Flowers can be. But I think she  is up to the challenge.

  I was visiting with my god daughter when she was a year and half. We were sitting outside looking at the lights around the pool in the desert in Eilat. “Mapita” she said . I assumed she was speaking Hebrew. She kept repeating it. We went back in the room and she put a piece of the now cold pizza in her mouth. More pizza are words I have heard often from her. I cant wait for her to taste NY Pizza. Im hoping someone still throws the pies up in the air. I will also introduce her to a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya and a pretzel from a street vendor. 

Childrens Museum Of The Arts has a drop in morning art class for three to five year olds. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is a 38,000 sq.ft facility full of fun and learning experiences. it will be perfect for cold weather.  Sugar Hill Children’s Museum Of Art And Storytelling focuses  on children three to eight with art and story telling workshops.We will do at least one of these.

When I was a kid in NY we went  ice skating every Saturday in the winter. It was either the rink in Prospect Park or Central Park. There is also Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park. Hopefully it will be like riding a bicycle and not super cold. 

The Big Apple Circus has been in New York for forty years. My kids have seen it on their many visits to New York to see their grandparents. The circus tent is set up at Lincoln Center. It’s good for the whole family and children of all ages.

The Sloomoo Institute is a pop up slime museum that with be in NYC for six months before moving on to another city. It is all things slime. That’s all I know and with a four year old- that’s all I need to know.

NYC during the holidays is filed with timeless traditions, festivities on every corner and lots of lights and memories. The magical feeling of the city reminds me to live in optimistic expectation. – especially if is snowing. 

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Ugly Americans

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Ugly Americans

“What’s the derogatory term for Americans in a foreign country? ….Americans” unknown 

As Americans traveling the world we do apologize often for our behavior. But we may have outdone ourselves with Trump. Trump represents the America that the world hates. He embodies the worst anti-American stereotypes: vulgar, violent, cash-obsessed, racist.

 I had heard about the  Ugly Americans abroad but this was my first experience with them. We were at a beautiful resort in the Pantanal in Brazil where meals were served at community tables. There they were- loud, arrogant, older Trump supporters and the BF took the bait.  Sometimes I think we’re all too much like this. We are rude to people we don’t know precisely because we don’t know them, and we think it doesn’t really matter.  We treat people with differing political views as evil rather than consider that they have had different experiences and ideas. 

My boyfriend apologized the next morning and they agreed to talk only about the jaguars that we were all hoping to see . There had  recently been a huge fire in the Pantanal  and it affected and killed many animals. The safaris were like treasure hunts and we had been lucky and had seen almost all the animals including jaguars, 

The next morning out on the jeep with them we saw nothing. The Ugly Americans complained loudly and compared the experience unfavorably to their many trips in Africa and boat trip to Port Jofre. A vacation always goes better if you don’t compare.They wallowed in a swamp of complaints.They measured their stay in the Pantanal with an American yardstick instead of immersing themselves in the culture they came to see.

Their anger escalated in the afternoon. Again, we saw very few animals and we pulled up to go canoeing on this beautiful lake in the Pantanal. They were furious. He yelled at the guide.  “I flew five thousand miles to go canoeing. I’m not going and I’m going to just sit here and complain.”

Righteous anger boiled up inside me. I felt compelled to tell him that his negative energy was impacting the group experience and this beautiful place. He replied in a loud angry voice that i should shut my mouth and go back to Brooklyn (where I grew up). His response was several notches more intense than necessary. “You are healthy and you are here,” I answered and walked away.

I got into the canoe and begged my boyfriend not to say anything. He. agreed but when we got back to shore, the man stood in his path. The next thing I knew was that they had their hands on each other about to fight. “I hate you Hollywood types. You think you are better than everyone,” he said.  It was right out of Trump’s playbook.

The wife would stand in front of the jeep so I couldn’t get on without asking her to move or go around to the other side.  If I tried to talk to my German friends sitting behind me, she would get involved and push me out of the conversation. No one liked them but everyone was trying to keep the peace and talk to them so that there would be no more incidents and we would see more animals. I haven’t seen bullies like this since  junior high school.

We bonded with the hardworking  staff and the other lovely guests from all over the world over our dislike of “the Ugly Americans.” i tried to avoid them as much as possible but staying in the same lodge it was difficult. They were still complaining in the doorway as we were leaving.

Just to be clear, every country has horrible people who are loud, rude, and arrogant, and these people are horrible when they travel and, presumably, horrible at home. It’s not limited to a single country.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

36 Hours In San Francisco, California With Jet Lag

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36 Hours In San Francisco, California With Jet Lag

“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”
 Oscar Wilde

People from LA (me included) love SF. Its ok to call it SF. But don’t call it San Fran or Frisco – they hate that. I love that their rich people are Techies not Hollywood types. They appear. less materialistic than we are. Techies walk around in hoodies, a t-shirt with the name of one of their first failed start ups, headphones and no eye contact. It reminds me of growing up in NY. I love how geographically tiny it is. It is only seven miles and i have walked from one end to the other in a day. I love how they think their food is better than ours and it is.

I have spent a lot of time in SF so when I had to the chance to spend 36 hours between planes, I avoided all the tourist spots like Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Union Square. There are so many neighborhoods with their own cultures, appearances and even weather systems. Bring a jacket it is not LA – even in summer.

I chose Japantown. Before World War II, San Francisco had one of the largest populations of Japanese outside of Japan. However, that all changed in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese by birth or descent, including Japanese Americans, out of the neighborhood and interned on the Pacific Coast outside of the city. After the war, many chose not to return, shrinking the neighborhood into the small size it currently is today.

9:00pm Check into Kabuki Hotel. I love anything Japanese and the Kabuki Hotel with its Japanese/ art inspired/ hipster vibe was right up my alley.

I have terrible reverse jet lag (flew in from Iceland) . My night alternated between boundless energy and crashing sleep. I knew the next day would be rough.

10:00am  I love the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I was there when it opened and was excited to see the new renovation.

There was an Andy Warhol Exhibit, interesting photography and a wonderful San Francisco Mural by JR. The people in the JR Mural move. Don’t miss it if you are there.

11:30am Walk through the city. My cousin Linda has lived in SF most of her life and is the best person to be with in the city. She knows everything.

12:00pm  We walk to Embarcadero and have lunch at Delancey Street restaurant. It is an inspiring bistro type restaurant, book store and event space. The room is welcoming and the food is delicious. The service is great and it supports a wonderful cause. Delancey Street is a rehab program and everyone who works their is well trained and rebuilding their life.

1:30pm More walking. We walk back to Mission Street.

2:00pm. I had never been to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The building design is clean and modern. They only had one exhibit at this time.

2:45pm  The United States’ second largest Martin Luther King Memorial, titled Revelation, was built in San Francisco in 1993. It sits behind a 50’ x 20’ foot wall of cascading water. Located in the Yerba Buena Gardens, the memorial is a lovely walkway constructed under a 120,000-gallon reflecting pool.

3:00pm  As I said my cousin knows everything. Samovar in Yerba Buena Gardens  is my new favorite tea place. There is a wonderful selection of teas from all over the world. Service is friendly and the food is unique and delicious.

4:30pm I started crashing and went back to hotel. There is traffic. Apparently Uber and Lyft are causing major congestion in the city.

530pm  I forced myself to stay up and get some  sushi at An Sushi.

It is located at the very nearby Peace Plaza Mall.

6:30pm. Shopping at Daiso. It’s like the 100 yen store in Japan but most things cost a dollar fifty.  Everything is so cute.

8:00pm Sleeeeeeeep.

10:00 am  Kabuki Hot Springs is quiet at ten AM on a weekday. They have a hot and cold pool, steam room and sauna. I opted for a shiatsu massage which definitely helped with the jet lag.

1230pm  The nearby Japanese Mall sells many  authentic and not so authentic Japanese things.

I ate some yakitori and matcha tea and went to the airport.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Things That I Have Learned About Him After Being In A Relationship For Two Years

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Things That I’ve learned About Him After Being In A Relationship For Two Years

“It reminds me of that old joke –  you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.”Woody Allen

He is great at birthdays, flowers and Christmas.

Never travel with him when he is writing. Even if he says “it won’t be like the last time.” It will. Travel anywhere with him when he is not writing. He is a great traveler. 

He has excellent musical taste.  If he says let’s go to this concert or hear this musician, I just say yes because I know that it is going to be good. 

Always tell him he looks terrific when he does. He likes that. However, when an outfit choice is questionable and you mention it – then you are shallow.  

He is a popcorn hoarder. I am a popcorn sharer. It is less caloric if you eat out of one box of popcorn. He does’not get that.  

He is very generous with wine. Sharing a glass of wine is totally fine. Sharing a second  and third glass is fine also.

He is not a casual chef. Each meal is a challenge and has to be the best thing he has ever cooked. Every dinner with guests is a chance to try some new difficult recipe he has never attempted,  It is always delicious but a bit stressful. 

My dog does not like him. He expects dogs to just like him. That is what dogs do. Not Banksy – he is jealous. It has been two years and Banksy still acts like when he gets back into bed he is attacking us and when he leaves the house  he is stealing something.

He gets bored driving down the same street. He prefers to drive the long route if that is  what his car navigation tells him to do.  If he asks how should I go, it is best if I don’t answer because he will only follow part of the directions.

He doesn’t like it when I tell him to turn left three times and he already knows that. He also doesn’t like it when I don’t say anything and he misses the turn.

If I mention that I like a song, he learns how to play it on the guitar for me. That is really sweet. He is like my high school boyfriend. 

 Relationships are not easy but we work at it.  I think it will  turn out that by taking a chance and moving in together  we will gain a lot more than we lose. Love wins.

Fly safe,

JAZ