@ShakeShack Chick’n Sandwich and Banana Caramel Shake

  
Last month Shake Shack added another winner to their menu, the Chick’n Shack.  A delicious plump fried chicken breast(cage-free) topped with pickles, shredded lettuce and herb buttermilk mayo. This is a very serious contender for best chicken sandwich in NYC. 

Though it’s a bit cold in NYC at under 30 degrees I can’t say a Milkshake was on the agenda as much as I love them here…but when I saw that Febuarys flavor of the month was Banana-Caramel I was all in. As good as it sounds, it tasted even better. I’ll be back for another…

Shake Shack locations

Nanoosh’s Organic Med Food @ 30 Rock

  Looking for somewhere new within RockCenter to keep out of the rain I came upon Nanoosh. I took a quick look at the menu’s Wraps, Salads, and plates centering on Hummus, Chicken, Quinoa, Greens and Beef and decided to give it a go. 

I had the Chicken Shawa (thigh) wrap with greens, onions and red pepper hummus. It was tasty as is, but I kept going back and forth between the Jalapeño Green sauce which here is mild and the Red which I believe is Harissa which packs some heat. 

I also had the Butternut Squash(the current seasonal soup) soup which was pretty good. Both Lentil and a Tomato soup are available year round. 

I have a new lunch spot and will need to check out their salads. Of note there is seating available 

   
 
Nanoosh is located at 30 Rockefeller Center 

Wonder 500: Japan’s Food and Craft Goods

  
 Are you fascinated by Japanese culture or simply want to learn more about Japan’s tasty treats and crafts? Check out products from throughout Japan at Wonder 500 going on at 4 West 43rd Street until February 9th 2016.

I tried a number of interesting and not quite your ordinary treats that included sweet and savory jelly balls called Yokan(they had 5 flavors I went Sake),Wasabi coated crystallized jelly candies, Mentaiko a Spicy cod roe crackers, Pie crust stix, (I tried the ginger in a shrimp tartar sauce dip),Wasabi and plum vinegar peanuts, Monaka which is like an ice cream cone wafer with a sweet roasted soy bean center and Black bean cooked soft candies. While they had Sake and Beers on display they were not available to sample so the ladies running the exhibition were kind enough to make me a Green tea to drink during the tasting.

In addition on display they had a number of goods that included a variety of Sake cups made out of lacquer, classic square wooden sake boxes, colored pencils, sketch pads, and more. Check out the pics below. Better yet check out Wonder 500 for yourself at 4 West 43rd Street. 

   
    
    
    
    
 

Tous Les Jours Korean Bakery and Cafe

  
While in K(orea)-Town if you’re craving coffee and a baked good sweet or savory look no further then Tous Les Jours a Bakery chain out of South Korea. The baked good here vary from your Chinese like Almond and Green Tea buns, Fruit Tarts and Layer cakes to some rather interesting and funky Hot Dog concoctions. To drink a variety of Coffee and Tea beverages. 

The interior like the selection here is pretty huge for a Bakery/Cafe with plenty of tables for seating(of note: it is all self service) and a huge screen playing K-Pop, K-Soaps, K-etc). The crowd is primarily cute Korean girls and some of their guy friends gathering for a treat. I felt like I walked thru a door and found myself in Seoul. Pricing is fairly gentle and though the goods here are a bit different they are tasty as well. 

   
    
   Tous Les Jours is located at 32 W32nd Street 

#EscapeEntertainment Can You Escape From…

  Are you any good at puzzles and brain teasers? Does getting locked in a room with your friends/loved ones faced with multiple mental challenges to solve while working together excite you or terrify you? 

If it excites you, keep reading. If it terrifies you, move on to the next blog:) 

The concept here is pretty simple, you and your group get locked in a room (i.e. Prohibition Bar, Jungle Lodge, Space Station) and have an hour to figure out the various brain straining clues to open up a multitude of locks to get yourselves out. Execution, turned out to be not so easy, though our group escaped:) We did it with time to spare…can you?!?

  

Escape Entertainment is located at 39 West 32nd Street on the 4th Floor

NY Times Travel Show Hot Spots 2016/ #Cuba 

  

What’s hot in the wide world of Travel for 2016? Cuba…hands down. Not only was there a number of charter companies offering services there, not only was there a separate seminar on it, but the where to go in 2016 featured it has well. Though how to get there and what to do…is where it got a little heated. However before I get to that and the seminars I attended, below are a sampling of the tables I hit…

South Africa – As soon as you walk in they had a huge booth…coinkydink I just booked a trip there…I think not.

Bahamas- I’ve been to Nassau…so it was discussing the outer islands that sparked my interest 

Georgia – Not Atlanta, the country a former part of the old Soviet Union. While I’ve never been, it has a special place in my heart. A girl from here used the “Deal-breaker” line breaking up with me. 

It’s Easy- My go to spot for getting my Passport updated and Visa’s. They have a new App for those who don’t live in a location where they have an office. Pretty cool.  

Morocco- On my list of places I need to go…plus they are supposed to have some pretty cool beaches and I want to “rock the Kasbah”:) 

Okinawa – I grew up reading about the brutal battles that took place here. Turns out, supposed to be s beauty fit place with great beaches and their own unique culture.  

Croatia – I’ve been to Dubrovnik but really want to see more. The Adriatic blew me away and I literally felt a bond to it. Could be due to my paternal Grandfather came from here. Also perpetually rocked a tan.   

Cuba – Turns out, you don’t necessarily have to choose a full on Group Guided trip from the Charter companies. You can just purchase flights etc…more on this…

As stated I attended two seminars which were both great(Of note, I can’t believe I have to write this…but turn your damn cell phones volume off when attending a seminar, conference, movie, concert, etc.!I lost count how many times people’s phones went off and how long the ringer went on for. Seriously, a little respect to the speakers and attendees)

Top New Destinations 2016 Notes 

Arthur Frommer and his daughter Pauline spoke on what they believe are the hot spots for 2016 and both were very entertaining public speakers. Hot top 2 for them…Columbia and Iceland. Been there, done that. I as well highly recommend both.

Pauline shared a great story on her Volunteer vacation with her family in Chenai, Southern India. 

Canada is a 2016 Hotspot! Why, the US dollar is crushing the Loonie 1 to $1.40+. Hotel room prices…just buy the hotel!:) of note 2017 is their 150th…free National Parks entrance. 

Japan Was very expensive, now 170 yen to the $ now makes it moderately priced and affordable. So need to go for so many reasons.

France -Terrorism has really hurt tourism. However with the dollar within 10% of the Euro it’s the time to go. Plus…millions of us still live and thrive in NY. The same will be for Paris. Plus 1 hour away by high speed train…Champagne. Grapes and the grapes of wrath from years of war with Germany. Learn yourself some history and toast to Peace.  

Russia – The ruble has fallen dramatically, so Moscow went from crazy expensive…to “Yo Ivan some more Caviar and Natalya keep the Vodka flowing:) However, the people are very pro-Putin and thus blame Americans for their current economic woes and let you know it. Smile why requesting some more Vodka. 

Egypt- Sadly a very unsafe destination right now…top contender for where not to go 2016.

Cuba- Arthur totally shot down the group trips as grossly overpriced and canned. My favorite moment of the day…especially since I agree with him. He did point out that there are not enough hotels so stay in so look into a Casa Particular via Airbnb. 

Next seminar was on 2016’s top hotspot…Cuba 

3 million visited last year in 2015, most were Canadians and Europeans. The American invasion has barely started… 

Hotly contested as to what you can do i.e. going with a group or going solo. This panel was all about the benefits of the Group tour. There is definitely a market the for Tourists. Travelers will likely side with Arthur. This panel believes Cuba will only get more expensive. While I’m sure some things will. I personally think booking a direct flight with accommodation will be less then what I feel are extravagant prices vs what you can do anywhere else in the Caribbean for. 

US Telecom providers Verizon and Sprint work in Cuba…expensive though.  

Mechanics of moving money is still very complex. Of note, not a good idea to write Cuba on a check, PayPal , etc it could get traced back and the US Gov will be less than ecstatic. 

Cuba reputation is that’s it’s very safe…though that is likely a positive side effect of a totalitarian Police State… 

Direct flights are expected this year. I’m keeping my eyes on this. I want to go before we turn it into a Mall on the beach. 

So where will your first trip be in 2016? For mine, stay tuned for upcoming pieces on…

  

Hillstone GastroPub on Park Ave South


After getting our geek-on watching the “Force” awaken a couple of buds and I headed out for a bite. One of them had been to Hillstone recently and thought it would be a good spot on a slow holiday season evening. We decided on eating at the bar and sitting on the comfy padded bar stools. I suggested a Hitachio White for one of my buds, I ordered a Chimay White, while our friend decided to stay classy with a glass of Pinot Noir.

While trying to decide on entrees we agreed on starting with some Sushi rolls and ordered up the Osaka style (Read: Layered) Spicy tuna roll and a Tuna and Yellowtail roll with ikuro(fish eggs) to share. Though non-traditional both were tasty and fresh.

For our mains to a man we all went beef since we already had some fish. I choose the Cheeseburger which turned out to be one of the better ones I’ve had recently, one of my buds got the Prime Rib Dip which he seemed rather pleased with and my other friend raved about the Thai Steak salad which was nice sized.

Hillstone is a fun spot to grab New American fusion food that encompasses everything from a great CheeseBurger to Sushi and seafood dishes with a full bar with a fairly large wine selection, craft brews on tap and in bottles and a nice cocktail menu with modern riffs on the classics.


  

Hillstone is located at 378 Park Avenue South

@HornblowerNY Cruises #OnaBoat NYC Winter 2016

 

Go for a cruise in NYC during the Winter?I figured sure why not…Travel Massive  usually throws fun events in cool spots and it would be a good way to kick off the new year.  So I headed over to Pier 40 located in the West Village(they also have boats that leave from Pier 15 by the Seaport) to board one of Hornblower’s ships for an aquatic adventure.

We went out on the Hybrid a big good looking highly maneuverable ship that took us out around New York for amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Freedom Tower and stunning up close views of Lady Liberty. My pictures quite simply do not do them justice since I only had a iPhone on me. I would highly recommend at least a point and shoot, if not a mirror-less or DLSR for the epic pics you can get.

The interior of the boat was nice and warm with plenty of couches to chill out on, a well stocked bar for beer, wine or cocktails, and a dance floor with DJ that the Travel Massive crowd hit hard after we passed the key sights. Though it was freezing the night I went I still went outside to take pics. Of note, the ship had staff stationed outside to ensure safety.

While a boat cruise in Winter in NYC may not come to mind for most, Hornblower’s cruises are a blast and far from your usual night out.
    


Hornblower Cruises is located at 353 West Street at Pier 40

#ZUMA The Raw and the Cooked Cuisine of Japan via London 


‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas and the city was stirring about…craving some Sushi decided to try Zuma out…First off, Zuma is a Stunningly beautiful restaurant with a staff and crowd to match. I would put it up there as one of NYC’s best looking.

Their Japanese fusion menu offers both the raw and the cooked and I sampled from both. My bud and I started at the bar where I ordered a Rubabu a spin on a Saketini with Vodka and Rubarb infused Sake with a splash of passion fruit and lemon juices. It was tart and tasty vs sweet, though petite in a coup glass. We ordered some Rock Shrimp Tempura with lime and chili mayo and an order of Edamame at the bar but decided to grab a seat at the communal table. Of note, they have a process in place to move your bar tab to your table.

While eating the lightly perfectly fried Rock Shrimp we chose from the Sushi menu the Spider Roll which adds chili and tobiko wasabi to the soft shell crab and the Spicy Yellowtail with wasabi mayo and Serrano pepper. From the cooked we went with the Baby Back Ribs and the Chicken Robata.

The Sushi rolls were delicious, the Robata good, but the glazed and topped with cashew and scallion baby backs were my favorite dish of the meal. Of note, this is the sister restaurant to the original in London…I mention this because the prices and portion reflect that city more than ours(read a bit pricy for the portions).

While service was very good, oddly enough the Edamame never made it to the table, though when I pointed it out was removed from the tab immediately. While you can very easily really run up a rather large tab here, you can just as easily keep it reasonable, sample a number of items from the menu and leave well sated if not full.


  

ZUMA is located at 261 Madison Avenue

By Robert James Menswear Williamsburg on Grand

 While exploring Grand Street I came upon By Robert James, the goods in the window looked cool so I popped in. Next thing I know I’m trying on a sweet navy with white polka dots button down and a T-shirt with a skull topped with a Mohawk made of bullets. 

The store is large, immaculate and well organized. The staff is friendly and accommodating hitting the perfect balance of being there when you need them to answer a question or get a size and leaving you to roam and look around. By Robert James carries a large variety of men’s goods that vary from high end cotton t-shirts with and without freaking cool prints to suits, back to jeans and button down shirts. Kinda store that is hard to walk out of without something. 

While I held strong and only went with one polka dot shirt, I broke and got 3 T’s. The goods are designed and made in NYC and NJ. Prices are premium but not crazy. You’ll pay us much for goods with a more well known label made overseas and not as well made for as much or more. 

   
   
By Robert James is located at 200 Grand Street Williamsburg