@VodkaNPicklesFestival at Grand Prospect Hall March 18th 2018

Looking for a fun event in March on a Sunday now that Football is over, the Winter Olympics will be by then, you’re Ski share is ending and Summer is still months away? Are you or your family from Russia or one of it’s former republics and craving some Eastern European culture…or do you simply like drinking Vodka?

Vodka and Pickles will be located at Grand Prospect Hall on Sunday, March 18th . The festival will feature an open Vodka bar of crafted cocktails (or simply drink it straight up or on ice:), unlimited pickled dishes, and live entertainment. Two sessions will run throughout the day 12 PM and 3PM.

Grand Prospect Hall is a National Historic Landmark that is a truly beautiful and unique space with brass and marble statues, original stained glass windows and wall murals. Fingers crossed for good weather to enjoy the outside deck as well.

Live Entertainment for the event will include electronic rock band Prosspekt, the Gypsy Trio and virtuoso accordionist of Gogol Bordello, Pasha Newmer. A DJ will play in between live acts to round out the day.

Best part, not only do you get to have fun, but while doing it you get to help a great cause. By attending the Vodka and Pickle Festival, you are supporting the Palm of Hope charity (www.PalmofHope.org) that works with families with ill children in Eastern European countries.

For more detailed information and tickets go to their website www.VodkanPicklesFestival.com

A limited number of tickets are now available on Brown Paper Tickets (https://bpt.me/3174190) or by phone at 800-838-3006.


Nishida Sho-ten Black Kakuni Ramen

Being early February in NYC, we are still hip deep in “soup” weather. If you work or live (or simply love and will travel for Ramen) by Sutton Place and the UN then Nishida Sho-ten has what you need and crave.

They offer six Ramens to choose from that vary from a vegan option to Spicy Tan-Tan. I enjoyed their Black Kakuni Ramen that comes with their thin house-made noodles, thick square cut pork (first time I’ve seen this),bok choy and egg.

There are a number of appi’s to choose from, I ordered up a Spicy Cod Roe Riceball…which has some heat from hot chili oil. For those who like Sake they offer a nice and fairly large selection.

The space is small which is fairly typical of many Ramen joints in Tokyo. There is an L shaped sit down bar and a handful of tables for 2-4. If you love Ramen I highly recommend you add this to your list.

Nishida Sho-ten is located at 302 East 49th Street

Carre’ D’Artists featuring Cecile Desserle

Looking for some new Art to spruce up your place, moving into a new place or need a special gift for someone?

Carre’ D’Artists offers Artwork priced by size and many are available in the 5X5 to 10X10 (inches) range priced from a bit over a $100 to close to $600 (not including frames, though they have highly affordable ones that they can put your new artwork in right then and there.

Of note, these are all originals, they represent a fair amount of Artists (primarily French) who work in multiple mediums and styles from Portraiture to Landscapes to Pop Art and Multi-Media. Take a look at the photos in this piece to get a feel for what is available.

For those looking for larger pieces they go up to 48X48 and top out at just under $6,000. Just keep in mind these pieces are very large and you may be acquiring the work of an Artist who if they get “discovered” their works will only be affordable by the rarified few.

I purchased a piece by Cecile Desserle primary for inspiration for my own artist endeavors. I was amazed at how much emotion she captured in the gaze of the eyes. I will be keeping my eyes on her future works and those of other Artists here for my collection.

Carre’ D’Artists is located at 42 Prince Street and at 241 Bleecker im New York City.

Gaia’s Tegamini and Home Cooked Italian Lunch

Looking for a great little spot for home cooked style Italian food? A bud recently turned me onto to Gaia Italian Cafe and not only is the food delicious, they offer one of the best priced lunch deals in NYC. Gaia’s rather large menu offers Salads, Antipasti, Panini, Pasta’s and Tegamini (named after a type of sauce pan the dishes are served in).

I had the Polpette and Potatoes Tegamini a hearty dish of meatballs and potatoes in one of the better tomato sauces I’ve had. My friend devoured one of their daily pasta specials Spaghetti (on Fridays it’s a few Seafood options) with crab, bacon and veggies in a spicy tomato sauce.

Gaia offers a full selection of illy Coffee beverages for before, during or after your meal. Breakfast is served daily and they also do a reservation only dinner twice a week. Definitely add this to your Cheap Yet Tasty Eats, Best Lunch Deals, and Best Old School Red Sauce Joints lists.

GaiaItalian Cafe is located at 251 East Houston downstairs

@CafeBelleNYC Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake

Though Cafe Belle looks like its been around forever, its actually less than a year old. Their Italian pastries are delicious and some of my new faves. If you love Rainbow Cookies not only do they have them, they even do them as a cake! Like Biscotti…ever have a Pistachio version?


Thus far, that’s all I’ve enjoyed, but they were so good I’ll not only be back for more of them but to work my way around many of the treats in the cases below.


They do have a few or so tables to enjoy a variety of coffee beverages with your pastry if you’re hungry or simply can’t wait till you get home. These delicious treats make a great gift for family, friends and lovers.

Cafe Belle is located at 280 Mulberry Street

#Wokuni of Japan Lands in Murray Hill

Do you love Sushi, Sake, Kaarage and have been looking for a good looking restaurant in Murray Hill to take a client, date or some friends? Wokuni (a premium chain from Japan that recently landed their first US location) is the Itzakaya you are looking for.

I ordered up a Red Potato based Shochu and an order of the Kaarage (fried chicken pieces) to share to start. If you’ve never had fried chicken Japanese style I highly recommend it, not so much that it’s so different as much as just how perfectly they fry it.

For my entree I choose the Chef’s Choice 7 pieces and a Roll made up of five varieties of fish, Iruko, Sea Urchin (which of note was the best I’ve had since my trip to Tokyo) and a Spicy Salmon roll. All were first rate and the rice was of the sort you rarely find outside of Japan.

My friend ordered a few rolls which were of superior quality as well. Just note, Wokuni is a Japanese restaurant from Japan. Thus, as across the Pacific they do not do crazy roll combos. They do a Tuna, Yellowtail, Salmon and a few others a few different ways. Its all about the quality of the fish here vs fusion gone crazy.

When you first walk in and are greeted by you host you will see just to the right is a table of fresh fish on ice (and I believe available to purchase) which is a adjacent to the very long bar. The interior is a good looking space modern space with plenty of seating. Service is prompt, professional and friendly.

Wokuni is a great addition to the neighborhood for those who live nearby and great spot for lunch, dinner or drinks for those who work or are traveling by Grand Central.

Wokuni is located at 327 Lexington Avenue

OKA: A Japanese Itzakaya In Kips Bay

Who would have expected to find an Itzakaya in Kips Bay. Yet it has one now, plus it’s around the corner from the Kips Bay theaters making it a great spot to get a drink and or a bite before or after a flick.

Oka has a fairly large selection of Sake, plenty of Shochu to choose from, some interesting cocktails and beer and wine. I had the Satsuma Kurodashi Genshu a nice smooth Red Potato based Sochi and chatted with the bartender on cocktails and bitters.

Oka offers a menu of Hot and Cold Japanese American fusion Tapas. Plenty sounded interesting, but I only drank on this occasion so I’ll update this piece once I try some dishes here. Oka is a great addition to the neighborhood which needs more cool spots like this.

Oka is located at 439 3rd Avenue

Yaso Tangbao Shanghainese Street Food : Soft Opening

It was freezing,I was starving and craving something new, tasty, possibly spicy and different. As I was walking it hit me that a new Dumpling spot was opening up just east of Grand Central.

I took a quick look at the menu outside and popped in. I saw a number of things that looked good, but was wondering if Yaso Tangbao was a standalone shop or part of some chain. As it turns out it’s the third location for a new mini-empire of Shanghainese style Street Food.

Yaso Tangbao’s menu is made up primarily of Dumplings, Rice dishes, Noodle soups, Greens and some sides. I ordered the Spicy Pork Soup Dumplings and the Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs. The Dumplings were tasty and did have some heat to them. I also really enjoyed the Ribs, meaty little chopped up bites of BBQ worthy porky goodness.

This location is primarily for take out though there is a fair amount of space and tables upstairs. I will be definitely adding this to my Craving Dumplings, Ribs, and Take Out Tasty lists.

Yaso Tangboa is located at 220 East 42nd Street

Pisillo’s Italian Super Heroes

Do you love Italian heroes, is your appetite the stuff of legend, can your metabolism convert ginormous subs into pure muscle and energy? If you answered yes to at least two or even one of the questions above than you need to hit Pisillo on Nassau street off the Fulton Street subway stop.

These Italian super Heroes are huge and delicious. Pisillo offers 30+ panini to choose from. They are made with meats and cheeses all imported from Italy. Seriously their Ariccia made up of Porchetta, provolone, artichokes, arugula topped with truffle oil was one of the best heroes I’ve ever had.

Of note, these bad boys are massive…big enough to share. Though primarily Italian salumi with cheese they do have a number of vegetarian options. This is a must add to your best Sandwich and Take-Out lunch lists(though like me you may have to save the other half for dinner:)

Pisillo Italian Panini is located at 97 Nassau Street

@BurgerAndLobster -Nuevo Surf n Turf

The name pretty much says it all, a twist on the classic Surf n Turf substituting steak for its ground version in a 6 oz burger form. If you only want a burger, a Lobster Roll or a lobster(from as small as a pound to 3+ and over)you are good to go. However, of note, with the exception of fries and some deserts that’s the menu.

I and a number from my group started with the Lobster Bisque which is pretty good and does have pieces of fresh lobster in it. We also had some of their tasty Lobster Bites.

For the main course I and some of my friends decided to go big into “Beast” mode with a cheeseburger topped with Lobster and truffle mayo. Yum. It comes with fried and a salad. This is a fun spot for a group and Lobster lovers.

Burger & Lobster is located at these various locations