Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite places and things to do in New York City, which I'm longing to do this instant.
- Central Park. Massive and green and smack in the center of NYC! Talk about dramatic contrast and a much needed green oasis. Home to The Metropolitan Museum on Art and the Guggenheim, Central Park also hosts music concerts and theatre productions, my favorites being the Summer Stage concert series and the annual Shakespeare in the Park Festival.
- MUD Coffee. More specifically, the chai latte at MUD Coffee. I loved my nights out at MUD Coffee in the East Village, chatting away with my girlfriends in the back garden. MUD Coffee has seen me and my friends through a lot. So many future plans were laid out, so many stories and laughter, so many tears and broken hearts and through it all, the chai lattes never let me down. And with a couple of MUD trucks cruising the street of NYC, I never had to go without my daily caffeine fix!
- Buttercup Bakeshop, Sugar Sweet Sunshine and Billy's Bakery. I love baked sweets and it became my mission in NYC to discover the best bakeries around. My favorites were Buttercup Bakeshop for banana pudding (which inspired me to create a delicious version that my friends can't get enough of), Sugar Sweet Sunshine for moist red velvet cupcakes and Billy's Bakery for rich banana cream pie.
- Alice's Tea Cup. Where does a proper lady go for afternoon tea? Why, Alice's Tea Cup of course! With a menu overflowing with tea from all over the world from the simple to the exotic, delicious sandwiches and salads, tasty scones complete with whipped butter and raspberry cream and several locations throughout the island, a proper lady won't have to go far at all! The whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme adds to the charm as well.
- Monday nights at Banjo Jim's. Every Monday night I'm blown away by the live performance of the Cangelosi Cards inside the small, cramped space of Banjo Jim's. The Cangelosi Cards' swing jazz throws you back into the Prohibition Era and you'll be tapping your foot along with the rhythm in no time. It's a night of incredible music that you have to see and hear in order to believe.
- Annual Halloween Parade. Halloween is my favorite time of the year. I love the costumes and the dressing up. Being in NYC during Halloween is a reflection of the City's creativity, vibrance and capacity for fun. Taking part in the wild Halloween Parade itself is an unforgettable experience and I've even made special arrangements to fly back to NYC from international locations just to make it to the Parade!
- Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Nothing completes a visit to NYC's sprawling Chinatown like a trip to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Freshly made on the premises and with flavors such as green tea, litchi, almond cookie (my personal favorite), pumpkin, egg custard and sesame seed, along with the standards of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, there's a scoop waiting for all ice cream lovers.
- Ippudo. In Japan, slurping is a sign that you have enjoyed your meal. With the famed Akamaru Modern ramen bowl (among the other noodle dishes) at Ippudo, you'll be slurping in no time! The broth is rich, flavorful and a delight for your taste buds. Be ready to wait, Ippudo doesn't take reservations and there's always a long line of eager diners waiting to get their ramen fix.
- Jalopy. I may have to credit my new found love for bluegrass and old time jazz to this cute live music venue in Red Hook. Jalopy has a fun and eclectic schedule of performers on most nights, many of which never seem to disappoint. A trek to get to, but worth it every time!
- Sunday brunch at Calle Ocho. With Cuban-inspired decor and lively Spanish music, Sunday brunch at Calle Ocho is a slow, leisurely time to enjoy with friends. The brunch menu is reasonably priced, especially considering the all-you-can-drink array of sangria that's included with each meal. Leave your afternoon free because you'll have a hard time pulling yourself away from the appetizing bread basket and endless glasses of sangria. Reservations are highly advised. Once you've had your fill, head to Central Park for the perfect way to end your lazy Sunday. If you can still stand up, that is!
© Connie Hum 2010