Category Archives: NYC for the Locals

The Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon

Loyal readers know that this morning, when I awoke to a major snowstorm, my first thought was “Book of Mormon tickets!”

The Book of Mormon has been selling out months in advance since before it opened, but a major snow storm? That means cancellations and empty seats and maybe, just maybe, a shot at a ticket in my lifetime.

So Mr TBTAM, who teaches at a private school and had a snow day, headed on over to the box office this afternoon to see if he could score us two seats.

And as it turns out, there were cancellations. At $170 and $250 a seat. But you don’t know my husband. Full price for a theater ticket? What, are you nuts?…

But wait!  There were SRO tickets for $25 apiece!  (Who knew?…)  But you don’t know me. Stand for a whole play? What, are you nuts?…

That left the daily lottery. Which was what we were banking on.

I mean it was a literal blizzard out there. How many people stand outside the box office in the snow two hours before showtime hoping to get their name pulled out of a hat for a couple of lousy $32 single seats?

About 350 people, if you really want to know.


And that’s about 50 more than the average on a Thursday night. Guess I’m not the only one who woke up today with a bright idea.

The good news was that because of the storm, there were a few more seats than usual available for the lottery. Thirty seats in total, to be exact.

But the best news?


I mean, what are the odds?…

So at 5:30 I ran out of the office, then home to feed and walk the dog, then over to take the R train to 49th and 7th, arriving to meet Mr TBTAM at the theater with 30 minutes to spare. That meant time for a bathroom stop before the play, while the ladies’ rooms was empty. (I mean, what are the odds of that?…)

And as for the Book of Mormon musical itself, all I can say is SEE IT. It is absolutely brilliant.

There are moments when I pinch myself, wondering if I really am living the New York City dream.

But tonight? I know I am.

Sunday in the Tropics (and Roast Cauliflower Soup)

BBG2Leave it to my friend Paula to get me out of my hunker on a cold January morning, as only she can do, with an email entitled “This Sunday in the Tropics”, in which she proposed a walk at the New York Botanical Garden. “The weather is supposed to be clear and warm (25 degrees!). This the cheapest trip to the tropics ever! Can you feel the winter funk lifting?”

Well, Paula, lift it did. On snow covered trails,


that took us along the flowing Bronx River



through the Ornamental Conifer Grove


past a stand of redwoods


flowering crabapples,


and budding pussy willows carrying the promise of spring. 

Pussy WIllow

The bright snow provided a sharp contrast to the winter foliage



and while the ornamental gardens and conservatory beckoned


by 1 pm the sun had retreated,


as did I, home to a warm bowl of roast cauliflower soup.

Cauliflower soup


This recipe, enlightened from one on Epicurious, is a great way to use leftover roast cauliflower. You can adjust the amount of chicken broth to the amount of cauliflower you have left.  This recipe serves four. 

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth (plus a little water if the soups seems too thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Small bay leaf (or 1/2 large)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Croutons or sheep’s milk yogurt to garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut cauliflower into 1-inch flowerets (about 5 cups). In a large baking pan toss cauliflower, garlic, and shallots with oil to coat and roast in middle of oven about 30 minutes, or until golden.

In a soup pot, simmer broth, water, roasted cauliflower mixture, and herbs 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is very tender. Remove the bay leaf. Puree in the pan using an immersion blender. Serve with croutons or a dollop of sheep’s milk yogurt.

Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea Market

WIlliamsburg Flea Market 1

When warm weather comes, the Brooklyn Flea moves outdoors. Saturdays, its in Fort Greene. And on Sundays, it’s the waterfront in Williamsburg.

For a pretty perfect Sunday at the Williamsburg Flea, arrive early to beat the crowds – the market opens at 10 am – and head straight to Milk Truck Grilled Cheese,

Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

where you will order an All Day Breakfast Sandwich without the grilled onions (OMG….)

Breakfast Sandwich Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

and while it’s grilling, grab a cup of iced coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company.  Gape at the Manhattan views while you eat your breakfast, and begin to understand the allure of living in this trendy section of Brooklyn.

Water from Williamsburg FleaBut enough gaping, there are treasures to seek.

Metal chairs Williamsburg Flea Market

WIlliamsburg Flea 3

WIlliamsburg Flea letters

WIlliamsburg Flea 4

Lucky for you, your friend Amy is with you – she has the artist’s eye for flea marketing. After you passed through the best stall there  – Dan’s Parent’s House (how much do you love that name?) – without finding a thing, she zeroes in the very coolest things there. Like these colored metal coils (she’ll use the big red ones for Sabbath candle holders, and make a necklace out of the rest)-

Williamsburg Flea 2

and these red saws (She found the two best and will hang them on her wall in some cool arrangement)

Red Saw

But don’t be jealous, because you found this – a real working NYC parking meter!  Timed baking will never be the same in your kitchen…

NYC Parking Meter 2

Spend another couple of hours wandering, trying on clothes, wishing you needed a new dining room table because that one with the metal pipe fitted legs would be so perfect in your apartment, and in Amy’s case, regretting that you didn’t grab that red typewriter when you first saw it because now that nice young man is carrying it away (and at a great price too…)

Consol yourselves by leaving the now crowded market to head up the street to Artists and Fleas,

Artist & Fleas

a place where the uber-hip artists have taken what the rest of us miss and turn it into treasures. Like these game board journals at Another Work in Progress-

Game board vintage journals

and this gorgeous dress that had me wishing I were 18 again.

Dress artists and Fleas

When I say uber-hip I mean it. This place even has a DJ spinning vinyl jazz and samba –

DJ Artists and Fleas

Too cool even for me.

Which means it’s time for lunch –  in our case a delicious lobster roll at nearby Rosarito Fish Shack.

Lobster roll

 Of course, you could have headed back to the Flea Market to one of the many restaurant booths there, but a comfy seat and a cold drink under a spinning ceiling fan seems more in order on a warm afternoon before heading back home to Manhattan.

All in all, a pretty darned near perfect day.

I say darned-near because of the one thing we did not do, but which you must do when you go to the Williamsbug Flea, and that is to take the ferry there.


The Brooklyn Flea Market on Sundays is in Williamsburg. (And now in Philly!!!)  On Saturday’s, it’s in Fort Greene. In the winter, it’s indoors at the Williamsburg Savings Bank.

Central Park Conservancy Garden


Most tourists don’t make it above 72nd St, and so they never see one of Central Park’s most special spots – The Conservancy Garden.

Central Park Conservancy Garden 2

My favorite times to visit the garden are right about now, when the trees and tulips are in bloom and in early summer when the wisteria blossom.

Central Park Conservancy 4

But anytime is the right time to enjoy this oasis of quiet beauty and sweet dignity in the city.  (Also a  bathroom with no lines…)

Central Park Conservancy Garden 3

It’s even more special if you visit the garden with two very dear friends, as a little detour on your bike ride around the Central Park Loop.


Add in a pre-ride coffee with the girls at the Columbus Circle park kiosk and a  stop to watch the guys play ball at the Heckscher Fields in the south park,

Ballgame central park

then convince MR TBTAM (who skipped the ball game that day so he could run errands – what was he thinking?…) to bike over and join you all for a post-game/post-ride lunch at the Ballfields Cafe, and I would say that you have had one very perfect Sunday outing.

I Recall Central Park Snowfall…

Central Park snow 2

Central Park Snow 1

Central park snow3

Central Park snow 6

snow lady centralpark2

In the snow’s caress

Central Park Show Valentines

light’s floresce

Central Park Snow on trees

sleds’ express

Central Park Sledding

I confess

Central Park Bench in Snow

you slaughtered me at chess.

Chess & Checkers House Central Park
Chess & Checkers House Central Park

I’ll get you next time.

Brooklyn Winter Flea

Brooklyn Flea

Until now, flea marketing in NYC for me always meant the Chelsea now Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, and occasionally, the Greenflea on the Upper West or our own local Flea at PS183.

Brooklyn Winter Flea 2

But this is the new New York, whose heart for many now lies across the Brooklyn Bridge in the borough where second-hand is the ultimate statement of individuality. And it is here that this next generation of New Yorkers has brought the flea market to a whole new level of curated cool.

Brooklyn Flea 10

The Brooklyn Flea is is not necessarily the place to go for discovery, to sift for hours among the junk to find the treasure.

antique postcards Brooklyn WInter Flea

That picking has already been done for you by these mostly young and hipster vendors, who seem to be letting us in on the secret, albeit for a price a bit higher than you  may have expected.

Brooklyn Flea 14

But hey, reality check, they need to make a living and this is, after all, New York.

Brooklyn flea 3

Brooklyn Flea 12

Brooklyn Fela 13

Medical paraphernalia is in evidence throughout, perhaps reflecting the modern fascination with health,

Brooklyn Flea 9

old medical text

and included this skull, which my friend and neurologist Allen informed me is rare because it has all the bones of the inner ear,

brookln flea 4

and this gorgeous print from an old medical text that I just had to buy.

breasts medical textbook

Amidst the antiques, of course, are the crafts – handmade soaps,

brooklyn flea 8

recycled vinyl

brooklyn flea 6

hand-printed fabrics, wood crafts and handmade jewelry.

But for me, flea markets are where I go to discover the past, and the Brooklyn Flea allows me do so through the lens of a whole new generation of curators. I’ll definitely be going back.

Brooklyn Flea 11

In winter months, The Brooklyn Flea is located in in the massively beautiful old Williamsburg Savings Bank, but becomes much larger when it moves outdoors in April to locations in both Fort Greene and Williamsburg. The Flea also hosts the Smorgasburg Food Markets and pop up markets throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Back in the High Life Again

Okay, I’m over myself. Enough wallowing and worrying. It’s time to revel again in the joys of daily life in this marvelous city I call home.

Like having an hour and a half to kill with Mr TBTAM after dropping my daughter off at Pier 40 to see “Confidence Man“, a play stage-managed by her fave Middle School Social Studies teacher. Not enough time for a movie, so what were we to do? Go see the sunset from the High Line, thats what!

What’s the High Line, you ask?

Only the hippest and most wonderful new park in New York City, built along the old abandoned elevated freight rail line that runs near the Hudson River from the meatpacking district all the way up to 34th st and 11th Avenue. The High Line is testimony to what concerned citizens can accomplish when they come together with a purpose – in this case, to save the rail line from destruction by resurrecting it as an urban oasis.

The High Line’s design was inspired by the natural landscape that evolved over the years on the abandoned rail bed, and the design works. The place feels less a park and more like found nature in the middle of an urban cityscape.

Sunset is when the High Line is at it’s best. The setting sun and city lights add a magical glow, and the crowds have thinned enough that you can get a prime Hudson viewing spot on one of the broad lounges that line the lower half of the park.

But don’t just sit – stroll the entire park from bottom to top, going through and under buildings, past galleries, apartment buildings and warehouses. My fave part was walking the narrow Chelsea Grasslands, which brought back memories of summer days spent on the freight train tracks as a kid.

Don’t worry – the High Line is safe after sunset. A Parks Ranger told me there have been no incidents other than the occasional drunk. We saw lots of young professionals and couples, a few small parties, and even ran into my buddy Kathleen and her family in from Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Renegade Cabaret – one woman’s response to the instant audience created when the High Line opened within view of her fire escape – was quiet the night we visited.

The High Line isn’t finished yet – Phase Two will open in 2010 and will extend to 30th street, while the fate of the railyards section to 34th street is still unclear.
But don’t wait till the High Line is finished – go visit it now.
History of the High Line – Narrated by Ethan Hawke
High Line Design Video – Cool!
Friends of the High Line – Your donation helps maintain the gardens on the High Line
The NY Times has a wonderful collection of High Line articles and images

Go See the Brooklyn Cyclones and Fall in Love with New York

Just when you think you couldn’t love New York City any more than you already do, you go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game on Coney Island. And fall in love all over again.

How could you not?

You’re watching great baseball sitting next to the Coney Island Boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. That’s right – you can see the ocean from your seat in the stands. And because the stadium seats only about 7500 fans, every seat feels like it’s right on the field.

There are couples on dates and families with kids and buddies drinking beers, and in the ladies’ room line an old lady with teased yellow hair who is sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a Cyclones T shirt tells you the score.

You get to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the top of your lungs and are transported back to your childhood.

While standing in line for a Nathan’s foot long, you strike up a conversation with a big guy from Africa who’s at his first Cyclones game, and when you say it’s your first game too, the two of you look at one another and just smile.

There’s so much going on – not a second is wasted between plays. Every minute of down time on the field is a chance to shoot more t-shirts out to the crowd, to sing more songs, to watch the cheerleaders dance, to have the kids come down to the field for a pitching contest. This is baseball with A.D.D., and it’s fun!

And then there’s that great triple in the bottom of the ninth that won it for the home team.

Not to mention the Ocean sunset.

And the post game fireworks.

And the walk along the beach and the boardwalk on the way back to the subway.

And the Wonder Wheel.

The most fun I’ve ever had at a ball game.

This is another post in a special TBTAM series “Shh! Don’t Tell the Tourists!”

Shakespeare on the Run

So last week, I’m riding the loop in Central Park with Mr TBTAM, and a woman dressed in period costume crosses our path. I follow her and find a production of King Lear taking place under a nearby tree!

Its the New York Classical Theater doing their annual free Shakespeare production in the park. The show is an interactive experience, as the audience follows the actors as they move about the park from scene to scene. (Don’t worry – they never go very far afield..).

I wish we had had time to stay, but we were in a hurry that day. Good thing we can still catch Lear in Battery Park between now and July 7. Look for us there…

This is part 2 of a special TBTAM post series (Shhh! Don’t tell the tourists!)

New York for the Locals – Movie Night in Bryant Park

Summer Monday nights in New York City are best spent having a picnic in Bryant Park while watching the movies.

Especially if you have teenage daughters and they have friends.

And especially if they all come over to your apartment after school and make chocolate chip cookies, and your husband is finished school for the year so he is home to make great baguette sandwiches and the pouring rain stops and the sun comes out just as you leave the office at 6:30 pm having seen 24 patients and still every chart is closed and every phone call returned and you stroll in the door, change into warm clothes because who would have thought it could be so cold in June, grab blankets, umbrellas (just in case) and bags of food and head to the F train, emerging a few minutes later at Bryant Park where even though the lawn is closed because it is still wet you find great seats and even tables not far from the screen and even though it spritzes a bit just before show time, the sky clears again and they are showing the Sting, it doesn’t get any better than this does it and hey, we’re drinking Newman’s Own Lemonade it must be a sign and my God they are both so handsome which one would you choose if you had the choice, I’d choose Robert, not me, it’d be Paul every time, remember that time we saw him on the street, what a loss he is gone, but what a wonderful movie this is and what delicious sandwiches and cookies these are and can we do this again next week, they are showing Breaking Away?

Mozarella and Tomato Sandwiches (Makes 8 sandwiches)

2 long sourdough baguettes ( We get ours from Gourmet Garage)
16 oz fresh mozarella, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Cut the baguettes lengthwise. Drizzle olive oil on both halves. Lay the mozarella and tomato slices along two of the halves. Top with basil leaves, salt and pepper. Top with the other two halves. Cut each baguette sandwich crosswise into 4 individual sandwiches. Wrap tight for travel.

Serve with fresh olives, leftover pesto pasta and chocolate chip cookies.


This is the first post in a special TBTAM Post series. (Shhh! Don’t tell the tourists…)

The Prospect Park Bike Loop – Bet You Can’t Do Just One…

My newest fave place to bike ride is Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Prospect Park is to Central Park as Brooklyn is to Manhattan. (Well, was – before some parts of Brooklyn got almost too hip for themselves.) Same great Olmstead bones, just as beautiful but a little less polished and manicured, even a bit tousled in places, filled with real folks doing real things, all of it less like a movie set and more like real life.

The Park is flanked by Grand Army Plaza and Park Slope in the north, the Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Museum of Art to the east, and the south? well, between 3 and 8pm on Sundays, that’s the best part of all, as musicians gather in Drummers Grove to strike the beat of a Caribbean/African drum to drive you on your way as you bike the 3.35 mile loop just one more time…

As far as a work out, the Prospect Park Loop is a good one. Heading South from Grand Army Plaza (that’s counter clockwise on the loop) are some lovely downhills on the Western slope mixed with a few straight stretches and strategically placed water fountains.

The south loop is flat and skirts the lake and then heads north again at Drummers Grove. (Careful – there’s a short stretch at the bottom where cars are still allowed on weekends.) Then the road heads on a wonderful uphill – Wait- Did I just say wonderful uphill? – I did, and it is! A moderately long, nicely curving hill with a low mid section for relief before heading up the bit steeper upper section that plateaus out just as you are starting to think that your legs might be hurting but is never too steep to stop the conversation. Ending with a rolling north section that energizes you for just one more loop around….

Go ahead – Try it. You’ll want to do at least two, and maybe even three loops as we did – it’s that much fun. Maybe combine it with a trip to the Brooklyn Museum or Botanical Gardens, or with lunch in Park Slope, or if it’s Saturday, a visit to the Farmer’s Market at Grand Army Plaza. Better yet, if it’s Sunday, grab an early dinner from the Caribbean food carts at Drummer’s Grove and enjoy the music before heading home.

I can’t think of a better way to end a weekend.


Suggested Links

Biking South on the NYC Westside Greenway

Mr TBTAM and I left the girls home studying this past Sunday afternoon and rode our biking season swan song south along the West Side Greenway. A perfect day for a perfect ride along the Hudson to Battery Park and back.

While the ride north on the Greenway is an idyllic park ride, the route south along the Hudson is a fascinating ride along a busy and increasingly beautiful waterfront, encompassing urban gardens, cruise ship and Ferry docks, tourist attractions, museums and skyline views that will satisfy visitors and natives alike.

Here is a list of the sites we passed along our route – The Intrepid, The Circle Line Boat tour, the cruise ship docks, the Heliport, Frank Gehry’s Office Building, Chelsea Pier, Battery Park City, the World Trade Center Site, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island boat rides and The American Indian Museum.

If sports are what you love, you can rent a kayak, take a sailing lesson, practice your skateboard moves, hit a bucket of balls, bike, walk or bowl. The only thing missing from the Greenway as far as I am concerned are great waterfront restaurants.

Much of the Greenway has separate biking and walking paths. This makes for easy riding, although the walking paths tend to go closer to the water and through some lovely gardens along the way. You’ll need to watch out for cars crossing the path near the docks and along Chelsea Pier, but on a weekend this is not a big problem.

My favorite part of the ride is Battery Park City. I remember when this gorgeous garden-living spot was a big old empty landfill, the site of the No Nukes Rally I attended in 1979.

Now it’s filled with beautiful apartment buildings and parks and is a neighborhood that has come back even stronger since it was almost devastated in 9/11.

If you’re visiting NYC and want to ride the Greenway, I’d recommend renting a bike at Pier 84 at 44th Street on the West Side and heading either north or south from there. Bike and Roll has rental locations at several spots along the NYC Greenway, and runs both guided and self-guided bike tours of NYC. You can also rent bikes at one of over a dozen other spots in the city and head into the Greenway anywhere along the route.

Happy Biking!
NYC Biking Links

NYC West Side Greenway Bike Path

Here’s a great way to spend a beautiful September afternoon in NYC.

Get on your bike and head to the West Side. Head down to the Hudson River at around 68th street (the ramp down is just in front of Trump’s big apartment houses along the West side). When you get down to the river, head north.

Think about stopping for a free kayak ride

But the road and Mr TBTAM (Hmmm…he reminds me of someone…) beckon. So off you go.

As you head north, you’ll pass the 79th street Boat Basin (where Tom Hanks had his boat docked in “You’ve Got Mail”).

Remind yourself to come back for burgers and beer at the Boat Basin Cafe before it closes for the season.

Don’t stop to join all the folks hanging out on the grass, though that seems like a great plan for another day.

Around 86th street the path takes a little detour up into Riverside Park, giving you a chance to stop for a minute or two to admire the 91st Street Garden (site of the final scene from You’ve Got Mail…)

At 91st St, take the path back down to the river. Here, the crowds have thinned and you can do some more serious biking.

At St Clair St, near the Fairway Market, you must leave the path for a few blocks.

This gives you a chance to ride under the West Side Highway

and, if you are hungry, you can stop for Barbecue at Dinosaur Barbecue (nice review here).

But there’s no time to stop. Follow the signs back to the River Path – you’re heading for the George Washington Bridge!

Enjoy the culture shift north of 125th street. Boom boxes are playing salsa music, fishing poles and Spanish food carts line the riverside,

and there is some very serious volleyball going one.

Not far past the volleyball courts, the path along the river narrows abruptly. A sign will tell you that this is the path for walkers.

So you’ll head to the right and take the bike path (over on the far right in the photo).

This will take you through the woods and along the railroad bed.

You will emerge to gorgeous views!

Now it’s just a short ride to the George Washington Bridge.

If you have the energy, stop for a quick game of tennis at the free courts in the shadow of the Bridge. (Directions to the courts are here)

More likely, though, you’ll want to ride up and see the Little Red Lighthouse.

Now it’s time to take a break. Relax along the river, sit on the rocks, enjoy the boats and barges as they sail on the river. (We saw one barge loaded with antique railroad cars.) Marvel at the fact that you are in New York City on a beautiful day in September, feeling the breeze off the river.

When you’re rested, head on back. Don’t worry – other than the foray up to Riverside Park, the path has been completely flat, and you feel great.

And the ride back will be just as spectacular!