Don’t throw out that old food-keep it and it just might become an heirloom. Jennifer Weiss takes a look at various foods of varying ages, some edible, some not. While my accompanying video looks at at classic NY institution that uses a very old yogurt culture.
Yonah Schimmel has much more to offer than yogurt. Their speciality is the knish-a huge potato pastry incapsulated in an incredibly thin crust. My favorite is the jalapino and cheese combination-Ellen, the manager, works had to constantly innovate while maintaing the bakery’s 104 year old traditions.
Pizza is synonymous with the City-and why not? After all, what most of the world considers pizza was practically invented here (sorry, Italy). Nothing is more authentic than a slice from that most iconic of NYC pizzerias, Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village. I have to say, however, it’s my second favorite pizza place in NYC. Check out the video.
There are many things to do and see in NYC but the one thing that tops almost every visitors list is to see a Broadway show. New York’s collection of theaters around Times Square, known officially as The Theater District, is the largest of it’s kind in the world. That’s official, by the way.
A typical agenda for a night of theater might go something like this:
5:00 pm-In anticipation of getting lost on the subway, you leave your hotel. Because of the fear of not making it to the theater on time for curtain, you will probably decide on trying to eat somewhere in the Theater District because it’s close to your theater.
6:30pm- You arrived at the Theater District much sooner than you expected because of NYC’s fantastic subway system, but you have been looking around Times Square for a place to eat for the last hour and fifteen minutes. Now, frustrated by all your dining options from Olive Garden to Applebee’s, you feel the pressure of the 8:00pm curtain time closing in on you. And, there seem to be a million other theatre-goer’s feeling the same thing.
7:10pm- In a desperate attempt to eat so your stomach won’t make growling noises in the middle of one of Alan Cumming’s monologs, you decide to eat at one of the ubiquitous Times Square restaurants with the run of the mill pre-theater Prix Fixe menus.
7:50pm- With only ten minutes to spare you sit down in your Broadway theater seat, still sweating from your jog to the theater, catch your breath, and stifle a small burp from your pasta and sauce.
Theater District restaurants know this about tourists and they depend on it. They prey on the visitor’s unfamiliarity with New York dinning to cash in and serve overpriced, mediocre food.
It does not have to be this way.
There are many dining options available to the theater enthusiast if they look just outside the Times Square boarders. One of the best is the Westway Diner, located on 9th ave between 42nd and 43rd.
The Westway Diner has been around since 1988, and is a favorite spot for both aspiring actors and locals, so it has to be good and cheap. After all, a local won’t be a regular if the food is bad.
Huge, clean, and open 24 hours, its charms are not immediately apparent unless you spend some time and eavesdrop on the regulars’ conversations. Who knows? You might just overhear an actor who will be Broadway’s next sensation.
Dutch Schultz was known as the “Beer Baron of the Bronx” during the Prohibition years in the U.S. During that time, he ordered this underground bootlegging operation to be dug on a farm near Pine Plains, NY.
That was 80 years ago, but the ruins of the subterranean bunker remain are soon to be a Prohibition museum and the new home of Dutch’s Spirits, an original NY Distillery. I had the opportunity to get an inside tour of the facility before restoration had begun.
Plans for the museum are being lead by co-founder and president of Dutch’s Spirit, Ariel Schlein. After they procured the farm where the site is located, they contacted the New York Archaeological Society because they new they had something special. The Society agreed and began an archaeological survey that lasted eight months. When it was over, they it was entered into the record as a “Clandestine Bootleg Distillery” and said “The uniqueness of the site should provide added incentive for others in the field to recognize and investigate other possible bootleg-era sites in the Lower Hudson Valley.” Good luck! Most of the distilleries were destroyed by the IRS as they raided them. This one still exists only because it was built underground and would have cost more that it was worth to destroy it at the time of the raid.
Dutch’s Spirit is currently producing a somewhat smoother version of the sugar wash moonshine that was once produced here. I had the opportunity to taste some when I met Ethan Kelley, who runs the distillery with Ariel and a third partner, Alex Adams. They also produce a splendid peach brandy and a line of boutique bitters as well. The three gentelmen believe in source everything they can locally. This is not just lip service to a buzz phrase. At full operation, all the grains that will go into the manufacture of their growing line of products will be grown by them on the surrounding farm. That is about as local and self-sustaining as you can get.
My personal favorite part of the tour that Ariel too me on was a chance to explore the network of escape tunnels that leads from the main rooms to the fields surrounding the bunker. So, of course, I donned a GoPro and hard hat to take a look. WATCH THE VIDEO
New York has admitted that other cities might have the right idea. This came with the start of the Citibike program, a shared bike systems that allows members to pick up a bike at any one of hundreds of locations throughout the city and return the bike when they are finished. I’ve seen similar programs used successfully in several cities that I have visited all over the world including Paris, London, Zurich, Munich and Dublin. Most of these programs only require a credit or debt card and no type of membership. You just put your card in at one kioske and at a kioske at the point of pick up, and when you return the bike to the same or different kiosks, your time is recorded and you are charged accordingly.
This is not the case in NY. Citibikes require a membership at $95 per year, which give you unlimited 45-min rides, then a charge based on time of use. There are a couple of special rates for 24hr rental and 7-day rental, but the average price comes up to about $9.00 per hour.
Does this mean the end of bike rental companies like the ones in Central Park? I don’t think so. These companies start at about $15 per hour. If you do the math, you would have to ride about 6.33hrs, in 45-min increments, to make the membership pay for itself. If you’re a visitor, do you really think you’re going to spend a day on a Citibike? And if you live here, you can buy a bike for the cost of the membership fee plus a little more.
Is it worth it? Well, maybe, if you are cycling enthusiast and you just happen to be without your bike. But then again, I’m not sure a real cycling enthusiast would enjoy riding these bikes. They are not exactly the kind of bikes I see “enthusiasts” weaving in and out of traffic on, so these bikes might be a little too clunky for a true cyclist.
There are people who like the idea of using a bike to commute to work, but don’t have the space to store a bike.
For me, someone who usually prefers moving through the city on two feet rather than two wheels, I will probably pass. I’m not sure it’s worth the membership fee for the occasional cruse.
On any given day, rain or shine, cold or summer’s heat, she can be found selling spicy, crescent-moon shaped packages of goodness. If ever find yourself hungry on the corner of 5th Ave and 13th in Park Slope, she is the person you want to know. Grab a chicken or beef or, what the heck, one of each and enjoy!