A little slice of Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is the “it” event of the Film Festival season. It started in Utah in August of 1979 with Robert Redford as chairman. Sundance has grown rapidly over the years to become a launch pad for emerging actors and directors. At this year’s festival, there were almost 12,000 film submissions. However, only about 179 films were selected to premier at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. One would think these chosen films are the cream of the crop however they are not the traditional box office blockbusters. The films that premier at the festival are independent, unique and don’t cost a ton of money. These films are a cinematic art form, at its best, exploring many different aspects of life. They touch upon topics that are either too intimate or forbidden to discuss on a casual level. Needless to say, it’s basically a hit or miss. Having been to Sundance the past several years, I’ve seen some amazing films and some real dull ones (at least in my opinion). So if you have the desire to see fantastic independent films before they are shown to the general public, read on…

The School of Visual Arts, NYC offers a course called Film Maker’s Dialogue. Each semester on a Tuesday night, Ralph Appelbaum, the Procter, screens award winning films from festivals around the world at the SVA theater located on 23rd Street. Ralph has been doing this for over 32 years and is an expert on choosing the films. Not only do you see amazing films before they are released to the general public but there is usually a discussion at the end with either the actors, director and or producers. A little slice of Sundance right here in NYC.

20140203-183844.jpg

Standard

A taste of Vienna

Out of the many museums and galleries that NYC has to offer, there is one which stands out as the premier exhibit of early twentieth-century Austrian and German art and design. The Neue Galerie located on 1048 5th Avenue directly across from Central Park. A combination of turn of the century German and Viennese modernism showcased in a beautiful townhouse on 86th street. In addition to the gallery spaces, the museum also houses two Viennese cafés. Café Sabarsky and Café Fledermaus are both operated by restaurateur Kurt Gutenbrunner. Spend an afternoon exploring Austrian and German art then relax in one the cafés bringing together one of the social rituals and elegance of Viennese culture

image

image

Standard

NYC Theater’s Talk-Back Series & Speakeasy

Image

I’ve seen the films Knocked up, I Love You Man, My Idiot Brother… and am crazy about the ever charming Paul Rudd.  So a chance to see him act live on Broadway was fantastic.

Recently, I bought two tickets to the limited performance of the play “Grace” at the Court Theater in NYC.  But wait, not only was Paul in the play, but also the delightful Ed Asner.  Who? you ask.  Yes, the 80 something year old actor, (Think:  The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant) is still alive and kicking and gave a brief yet amazing performance.

I leave the kiddies with a sitter and take the midtown-direct train to Penn Station, NYC.  No need to take a cab, either take the subway or  a cycle-jitney to Delfresco’s (49th&6th).  With it’s great happy hour vibe and delicious apps, the place really makes one forget about the hectic day.   After  pre-theater cocktails and apps,  I head over to see the play and realize it happens to be a “Talk-Back Series” day, which means the cast stays after for a Q&A.  Lucky me!  Note to self:  Many theaters offer “Talk-Back” days to help promote their productions.

After the Q&A, walk towards the restaurant Joe Allen’s (46th between 8th & 9th Ave).  But wait, don’t go into Joe Allen’s, instead, look left and walk up the stairs into the Brownstone next door.  This is Joe’s unadvertised restaurant/bar (known to regulars as Bar Centrale, 324 W46th) named after a bar in the small village of San Caciano de Bagni in Tuscany, Italy where Joe owns a vacation home.  Bar Centrale is a Speakeasy like refuge for Broadway actors and theater lovers for late night libations.   As you walk into this oasis, the one and only Mary H., the manager for the last 15 years, greets you immediately.  The place is the size of a small living room with a fully stocked bar.  Bar Centrale offers an amazing menu including the best guacamole in town.  On any given night, after the shows are over, you could be having drinks with theater actors, directors and playwrights.    An intimate way to end an evening in a small tucked away Speakeasy.

Standard

How to spend your entire day at a “Bar”

imageApparently, the word “bar” has become the “it” word to attach to almost anything that is being marketed to the contemporary consumer.  For instance, in a day’s outing you can go to a Coffee Bar for your favorite cup of Joe, exercise at a local ballet bar studio, get a healthy green juice at a Juice Bar which I’m sure has a salad bar and before going out for the evening, schedule a blow-out at one of the many Dry Bars. Finally,  at the end of your day, grab a glass of wine at a your favorite Wine Bar. Cheers!!

Standard

College road trip

College towns are a peek into the youth of America as well as a center of culture, fun sports and great intellect.
The four years of High School go very fast and during this time we see enormous physical, mental and emotional growth in our children.  As our children mature, they start to focus on whether or not they want to go onto college and if they do, most importantly, where?!?. For the student, the college search process can be daunting if not approached in a realistic and positive manner.  The same holds true from the parent’s perspective in order to make the process, a painless right of passage.  There are so many colleges to visit and choose from so why not take advantage and consider it an adventure to explore the city or town of its location.  Not only do you get out of dodge, but it’s an excuse to do “due-diligence” on the college. Let’s admit it, if your child decides to spend the next four years there,  how enjoyable can the college city or town experience be for the parents?
Recently, I had the privilege to visit my oldest son at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.  It was the end of September and the foliage, although not at its peak, was starting to burst through the mountains of Vermont.  We checked into the Swifthouse, a lovely country inn.  The rooms were comfortable and beautifully decorated in 1800s charm.  Dinner was at the Storm Cafe, a quaint restaurant located on the banks of Otter Creek, with exceptional cuisine.  After dinner, we had after-dinner drinks at Two Brothers, an Irish bar/restaurant serving pub fare with a large selection draught beers.  The music playing was a combination of classic and alternative rock and the ceiling was plastered with dollar bills each signed by a bar patron.  The crowd was a nice mix of students and visitors which made for a lively atmosphere.  It was a pleasure to sit back and enjoy the vibe.The next day, we had many options such as the art exhibits, classical music concerts, lectures on current issues and the many sports events scheduled for the day.  Since our son is on the football team, we chose to watch the  Middlebury College vs. Colby College football game. After socializing at the well organized tailgate, we strolled into Alumni Stadium. The seating was located only on one side of the stadium which allowed for the magnificent Green Mountains of Vermont to showcase their beauty.  I thought the foliage was changing colors as we watched the four quarters of the game. The beauty of the scenic mountain background was indescribable. After Middlebury defeated Colby, we went down to the field to congratulate the boys and take pictures against the breathtaking backdrop.  The fun continued as the football players joined the team tailgate and shared their stories about the game.
After dropping off the much needed, requested items to our freshman, we had a quick bite at Sabai Sabai Thai Cusine, the only Thai place in town.  Sitting by the front window , we saw a good sampling of the coeds at the school.  Girls in cute dresses and boots, boys in either under armor, button downs or flannel shirts.  All the hotels were completely booked and we had no hotel reservations for the night.  So we headed north to Burlington, Vermont, the home of The University of Vermont.  A wonderful, clean cut town that boasts one of the best ski teams in the country.  UVM, Burlington is situated on the banks of Lake Champlain with New York’s Adirondack mountains in the background. It is the most picturesque school setting I have yet to see.  We spent the night imbibing at the local restaurants and bars on or near Church Street.  The next morning, after a fun-filled evening in Burlington, with freshly-brewed Speeder & Earl’s coffee in hand, we began the five hour drive home.  Having come up the night before, we didn’t notice the hour long ride was mostly along Lake Champlain. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to have the picturesque lake and mountains keep us company as we drove south through Vermont!

Lake Champlain & Adirondaks

Lake Champlain & Adirondaks

IMG_8979
Standard

Boutiques, Culture & Fresh Cusine

Bar at Market Table

Bar at Market Table

Do you ever look in your closet with frustration that you have nothing to wear?? Your jeans don’t look as fresh and edgy as they once did and forget about all the tops that scream “so last year!”. Suddenly, you have an urge to go shopping. Your immediate thought, the wonderful boutiques of Soho. With so many hip and eclectic shops to choose from, you are in your glory. Joe’s Jeans (77 Mercer St. between Spring & Broome) is a beautiful boutique with an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable staff. The store sells premium jeans plus other chic separates. Upon entering the boutique, your gaze goes up to the very large sculpture that hangs in the front window. The artwork changes periodically and it’s always interesting to see whatever the theme. After a little Soho shopping you can grab a bite and a drink at the Dutch (131 Sullivan St). A classic American restaurant/bar with large windows and an open air feel in the bar area. Afterwards, walk over to the Angelika Theater (18 West Houston St.) , housed in a beautiful turn of the century building, and catch one of the many award-winning indie films or documentaries that are playing. For instance, such as the documentary, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel; an intimate portrait of the 20th century fashion icon, who changed the face of fashion and the publishing industry forever. Films playing at the Angelika are rarely shown in conventional theaters so you can always find something unique and interesting. For dinner, take a stroll to Market Table (Carmine & Bedford Street). This fabulous dinner spot with it’s high tin ceiling and enormous windows, boasts American fare with a focus on fresh, local seasonal produce. A lovely ending to a day of shopping and culture, with outstanding, farm to table American cuisine.

Standard

NYC hair & lunch in Italy

Eataly

Eataly

It’s that time of month again…no, not that time. Time to color and/or cut your hair. Let’s admit it, it’s the best accessory you have. If your hair doesn’t look good forget about the rest of you. Good looking hair goes a long way in the scheme of things. It could turn a tired, over-worked face into Cinderella.

So needless to say, I’m on my way to aka Cedric Salon on 10 West 37th street. This salon is not your average NYC hair salon, it’s an oasis from the fast, hectic pace of midtown. Cedric books no more than a few clients at a time. A beautiful chandelier anchors the salon and with it’s contemporary furnishings, the ambiance is serene. No loud music, no screaming employees, even the blow dryers don’t make too much noise. They cater to my every whim and I look and feel like a million bucks when I walk out the door!

It’s a gorgeous autumn day and I decide to walk down fifth avenue towards downtown. I have a couple of hours to kill because I missed my art class since my appointment ran over. I could see the unique shape of the Flatiron Building, on 23rd & 5th, and it reminds me of a wonderful spot…Eataly (also on 23rd & 5th). Eataly is the masterpiece of chef and restauranteur Mario Batalia (a fellow Rutgers grad!). Eataly is like having the markets, restaurants the wine and the gelato of Italy all housed under one enormous indoor building on 23rd Street. I walk around and marvel at everything I see. I feel as though I have been transported to Italy. Pasta, cheese, wine everywhere. Oh and the pesce (seafood), it’s as if you are on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. I find an open seat at one of the many counter bars. One of life’s most underrated rituals is dining alone. No one to ask me questions or make requests. It’s just me, my thoughts and my iPad having lunch….with gorgeous hair!

Standard