New York City

Summer Spots In NYC

I’ve had the pleasure of training up to New York City quite regularly over the last few months, and thought for those of you planning a trip to the city soon, I’d share some of my finds!


Where to stay? These are two recents that I really enjoyed.

Hudson New York: From the Morgan’s Hotel Group, this hotel is billed as “Cheap Chic. Urban adventure, daredevil design, and true affordability meet in Hudson, the ultimate lifestyle hotel for the 21st century.” The rooms here are small, think well appointed ship cabins, and there are many a ton of them. Great location off Columbus Circle, near Subway stop and Central Park. Love the Tequila Park out back..the hotel’s patio serving up Mexican food and beverage. And the Sky Terrace with great lounging spots and views for cocktails at night. I got a great deal through Tablet.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Manhattan: This brand new hotel is half a block from Penn Station so super central. It’s only 2 months old! Very nicely appointed, 244 rooms and suites. Very affordable including breakfast and wifi AND an awesome surprise…rooftop deck with great sunset and city views. Booked great deal through

Things to Do

My top 4 for the summer months…

The High Line: This is an oasis in the city…a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Open from 7:00am to 11:00pm daily. Check out the website for details, maps (and how to get onto The High Line) and list of events.

Bryant Park: I love this park all year round but in the summer there is even more to do. Le Carrousel for kids. Movies in the park. Many restaurant choices, like the laid back Southwest Porch loacted near the Fountain Terrace. Chill in Adirondack chairs with a drink and watch all the goings ons.

New York Public Library‘s The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter: The Library is a place to check out any time, but especially now to see this free exhibition that examines why children’s books are important. Through a dynamic array of objects and activities, the exhibition celebrates the extraordinary richness, artistry, and diversity of children’s literature across cultures and time. Sit in the classic Good Night Moon scene, see the REAL Winnie-the-Pooh and many other surprises.

Make Meaning: Where else can you go for a few hours of hands-on creativity with friends or the kids…make glass, candles, soaps, all under one roof…fun for adults and kids. Two locations in Manhattan, Upper East & Upper West. Upper West even serves wine!


I haven’t done much lately but this is one of my new spots…

Cadalie Boutique: My favorite spa, Caudalie from France, has opened two boutique stores in NYC (building on their fabulous spa at The Plaza). Vinotherapist Val is awesome…he’ll show you around the Barrel Bar (yes, their products are rooted in grapes and vines from their vineyards) and introduce you to some great products. The Bleeker Street location is in the West Village, a great neighborhood is great for shopping and dining.

Bars & Restaurants

So many choices…where does one begin? Here are a few I’ve enjoyed and will be going back to.

Lattanzi Ristorante: Just discovered this restaurant last week and YUM! Looking for a classy Italian in the Theater District? Lattanzi is your spot!

Vive la crêpe: A little piece of Paris in NYC! With several locations across the city, you must pop into this little Parisian influenced café for delicious sweet or savory crêpes and coffee.

Chobani SoHo: Like the yogurt? Check out their super cool spot in SoHo to get your own special combo made specifically for you and served in a lovely glass bowl!

A.O.C.: More France in NYC. In the West Village (just across from the Caudalie Boutique mentioned above), sits this casual French bistro with a lovely outdoor dining space in the back.

The Champagne Bar: And when in NYC, one must have bubbles. The Champagne Bar at The Plaza may be pricey, but you feel like a million bucks while enjoying your glass!

Cheers to summer in NYC!

Manhattan’s Urban Winery

Finally made it to City Winery in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood on Sunday after reading about them for several years! What a cool spot…part winery (they make wine on-site), part restaurant/wine bar, part concert venue.

We stopped into The Barrel Room, a tasting room and 30-seat restaurant, within this huge facility for some wine and apps. They feature eleven wines on tap (very cool!) made right in the facility pumped up from the cellar downstairs. No bottles, no labels, no added sulfites! Rather than bottling all of their wines, winemaker French David Lecomte, puts the finished wines into stainless steel kegs. After every pour, their tap system preserves the wine with a thin layer of argon gas, keeping every pour fresh with not waste. We also had some great bites to go with the wine. Our two favorites wines after tasting most of them…

Sohovignon Blanc 2010

  • Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc organically grown from Windrem Vineyard, Lake County, CA
  • Aroma: Bright, melon
  • Taste: Lively, bright, notes of pineapple, kiwi and melon
  • My thoughts: Love the name, a nod to SoHo 🙂 Stainless steel aging gave it a great crispness and enhanced the fruit notes. Also bought a bottle to bring home.

Petit Syrah 2010

  • Grape Variety: 100% Petit Syrah from Vino con Brio, Lido, CA
  • Aroma: Raspberries, vanilla
  • Taste: Dark fruit of black raspberries and plums rounded with sweet vanilla oak notes
  • My thoughts: Nice round dark fruit wine with several layers and hints of vanilla

The even cooler thing about City Winery is YOU can make your very own wine here! Through their “Barrel Ownership” program, members pick their grapes, participate in the crush, pick their barrels for aging (French or American oak), work with City Winery’s winemaking team through its development, pull samples for tasting as it matures (from six to twenty-four months), blend if necessary, then chose bottle style, closure and design their label. Grape selection includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Roussane, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot from some of the finest vineyards in the U.S. (California, Oregon and New York), Chile and Argentina. Membership starts at Barrel Share (36 bottles for $1,800) and goes up to Corporate Barrel Owner (252 bottles for $12,000).

City Winery also is a concert venue (where you can also have dinner), has private event space, offers wine tasting classes and now offers tours of the facility.

Check it out next time you’re in SoHo. Cheers to wine in the city!

EATinerari in Italy

Found this really cool thing when we were at Eataly on our trip to New York City last week (the Italian marketplace, cafe, restaurants, bar founded in Turin with locations in Italy and Japan)… an EATinerari.

Right before you exit The Market check-out area onto 23rd Street, there’s a rather non-descript display of these boxes. Took a quick picture, as I didn’t have time to look further, so I could check it out when I got home.

Turns out this cute little box is “1 box = 1 trip = 1 free gift”…a one day prepaid itinerary with the aim of discovering where EATALY products come from. Cool!

There are 5 Bella Italia EATinterari‘s in the box to chose from…

  1. A Day Around Lunga: Tour the vineyards of Barolo
  2. Emilia Excellence: Understand how artisanal prosciutto and parmigiano are made
  3. Excellence Beers and Noble Wines: From a modern microbrewery to an old cellar
  4. Oliver ROI: See how the best olive oil is made
  5. The Tradition of the Tuscany Countryside: Wine tasting in Chianti

Eataly works with Liberi Tutti, a network of travel agencies based in Turin (home of the original Eataly), for details and booking. There are more EATinerari’s available on the Italian site (note I was having trouble calling up any of the details on the site and many things are in Italian).

Great for yourself for your next trip to Italy or a gift for a friend going. Salute!

I ♥ NY! Spa Relaxation

My Valentine’s gift this year… a visit to Caudalie Vinothérapieâ„¢ Spa, the New York City outpost of my dream spa and wine destination, Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux, France. You can find this paradise on the fourth floor of The Plaza Hotel combining blissful spa treatments AND a luxurious wine lounge. Opened in 2008, this is a must visit for any spa and wine lover as Caudalie combines the best of what it makes from the grape… wine and its skin healing products.

Your greeted at the spa by the wonderful scents of Caudalie’s signature products and surrounded throughout by materials of a French Château like warm woods, stone, vines, fabulous grape photography. The spa offers a full range of treatments including many of their signatures. I enjoyed the Wine Maker’s Massage with Doug. It “recreates the timeless ritualistic steps of the wine-making process: Bare-hand massage techniques alternate with a rolling massage using a wine maker’s stick over the body, and gentle finger-tip pressure applications along the body’s vital energy paths. This massage, like fine wine, offers balance and brilliance.” 50 heavenly minutes!

Doug then escorted me to the lovely “French Paradox” Wine Lounge featuring the only Spa Sommelier in the world! Clifford Rames, the Caudalie Sommelier, is the best! (As is all of the staff!) He’s very approachable and will tell you all about the wines he pours. Relax for as long as you want (we were there for several hours) in the burgundy Bordeaux leather chairs and sofas surrounded by bottles of wine and French music playing in the background. Poured during our afternoon, Cliff served us glasses of Smith Haut Lafitte‘s Les Hauts De Smith White (95% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris) and Red (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 105% Cabernet Franc), part of Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux. Both wines are delicious!

It was the perfect Valentine’s afternoon!

For more details on Caudalie, the original Vinothérapie Spa and Château Smith Haut Lafitte Winery, check out posts on our Bordeaux visit.

I ♥ NY! Fabulous Eats

With over 18,ooo restaurants to chose from in New York City, you certainly won’t go hungry! But which ones to chose…the hot new trendy spots or the tried and true classics. Here’s how we ate around the city on our trip last weekend.


* Little Italy: What’s a trip to NYC without a stop in Little Italy for dinner and dessert, especially if you love Italian! Walk Mulberry Street for tons of options. Our former favorite, Cafe Sorrento, closed so we went next door to the brother’s restaurant, Cafe Napoli (191 Hester Street). Love the ambiance and dined on yummy fried zucchini, arugula salad, rigatoni with arugula and parmigiano, penne with broccoli rabe and sausage. Paired with the house red Montepulciano and finished with espresso and a lemoncello. Divine! For dessert, none other than America’s First Espresso Bar since 1892 Ferrara Bakery & Cafe (195 Grand Street), for the BEST cannoli!

* Mamma Mexico: For Mexican and fun you have to visit this spot on the Upper West Side. We went for Valentine’s dinner so it was crazy! Table side guacamole, yummy chips, juicy margaritas, Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, and enchiladas followed by flan. YUM! The best is when its someone’s birthday…they come around literally pouring shots of tequila into everyone’s mouth. And the mariachi band is always roaming from table to table! 🙂

* Pastis: This French Bistro in the Meatpacking District is a hot spot! We went for late lunch on Saturday and it was hopping the whole time. Croque-Monsieur and frites were AMAZING as was the Sauvignon Blanc. Owned / founded by SoHo’s Balthazar guy.

* Burger & Barrel: This SoHo Winepub was on my list to try and so glad we went! The brown mahogany wood and leather study chair atmosphere invites you in for a seat. The nice big bar area is lined with wine bottles speaking to their great wine list, heavy on France and California, and wines on tap. Our fabulous waitress Kira had us tasting from the barrels (they’re on tap downstairs just like the beers)…Donkey & Goat 2009 Syrah from California was great (smells like bbq and tastes like fire-roasted strawberries), Red Hook 2008 Chardonnay from Long Island (nice with banana, vanilla and citrus notes), Donkey & Goat 2009 Vermentino from California (slight notes of green apple and pear but a little high in alcohol). Kira also gave us a taste of the Penner-Ash Pinot Noir that was fantastic (camp fire smell and taste of smokey caramelized creme brulee)! The food was delicious too…Sloppy Josh, Veggie Burger (double secret chick pea recipe was perfect!) and corn pudding.

* Eataly: Last but not least, my new favorite Italian spot outside of Italy. This place has it all…marketplace, cafe, restaurants, bar, housewares! Their motto hanging above the entry way…”Life is too short not to eat well.” I wrote a post in October about it and envisioned it to be much bigger… but even on just one floor at 25,000 square feet it does not disappoint. Enter on Fifth Avenue into the Lavazza Coffee Bar or on 23rd Street through the colorful produce section. We went Saturday night for dinner…first stop, put your name in for one of the many Eateries…Manzo (meat, and they take reservations), Il Pesce (fish), La Pizza & Pasta, Le Verdure (vegetables)… then stop into La Piazza, the standing table enoteca, for a wine while you browse the store (or you can enjoy their meat, fish & cheese menu). We had incredible food at La Pizza and Pasta… the special Italian flag pizza and Spaghetti al Pomodoro. We stopped back by for an espresso and to explore the marketplace late one morning (see all the pictures in the gallery). We picked up a great book on Italian wines, a few boxes of unique pasta shapes and a gorgeous stovetop espresso maker. Don’t miss the Wine Shop, separate entrance on 23rd Street, where we found our favorite Italian wine Fonterutoli and Montenegro liquer.

We also hit … South Houston, comfort food in SoHo for dinner which was fun and quite yummy; Katz’s Deli, the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” deli from When Harry Met Sally on the Lower East side; and bagels (Absolute on the Upper West).

Now I’m starving and thirsty so must run. 🙂 Cheers!