Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Philanthropic Friday

 

The Maya Macey Foundation www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

I am very lucky because I have friends who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Knowing ordinary people who do extraordinary things makes it an absolute pleasure to spread the news of their endeavors (particularly when they do not know that you are doing it in a blog post).

I have a very special friend named Shari who together with her husband, David created an amazing organization that touches the lives of young people in honor and memory of their daughter, Maya.

I would like to introduce you to The Maya Macey Foundation, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides educational scholarships to deserving young students who have overcome adversity in their personal lives and need assistance pursuing their dreams in spite of the obstacles they have faced.

If you feel like being inspired (you KNOW that you do), please go to the website and click on “Scholarship Program” under which you will find “Success Stories” that you can read to learn about the tenacity and strength of the past scholarship recipients (over 50 thus far to students in South Florida).  www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

It is a beautiful thing to know that there is a living legacy to Maya devoted to helping young people further their education through financial contributions and mentoring.  You can help this family run organization year round and if you are in South Florida in the spring, consider attending the Annual Maya Macey Foundation Barbecue Fundraiser, which is awesome!

I invite you to peruse the website and get to know this organization that was built on love.   This is the BEST kind of information to dish, isn’t it?

 

 

Food Face Fun Friday!

What are you looking at Bloody Mary (Tyler Moore)??? (Minneapolis, MN)

Bloody Mary Tyler Moore (Minneapolis)

I get a kick out of finding faces and shapes in food.  Pareidolia, perhaps? Whatever it is, I dig it!

I was looking at my Photo Stream and discovered that I have snapped some pretty good shots of “food faces” so decided to combine sharing the pics with my love of alliteration today to make “Food Face Fun Friday”!

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend, Candi Dish readers!

Melba toast tired smiley! (New York, NY)

Melba toast tired smiley! (Manhattan)

 

“Olive” Your Eyes Greek Salad! (Athenian Gardens, St. Petersburg FL)

“Olive” Your Eyes Greek Salad! (St. Pete, FL)

Emotionless Cheese Toast! (New York, NY)

Emotionless Cheese Toast! (Manhattan)

Turn Back Tuesday 10 December 2013

Peppermint Park was on the Upper East Side. The tile threshold remains.

Peppermint Park was on the Upper East Side. The tile threshold remains.

I wax nostalgic…OFTEN.  It is a pastime of mine. I do try not to “miss” things that aren’t around anymore.  My 1982 VW Rabbit convertible, my Disney Read-Along vinyl records and picture books (Black Beauty was THE best), sunbathing…with oil, Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, curling iron (for my bangs), Rick Springfield posters, Fashion Plates.

But I do miss certain places in Manhattan that I LOVED in the 1990s: Cosmetics Plus, The Tunnel, Nobody Beats the Wiz, Elaine’s, Polly Esther’s, Peppermint Park, Marion’s, A to Z Cosmetics, Limelight, Columbus Bakery and Life Nightclub to name a few.

Marion’s Contiental on the Bowery was retro and cool.

Marion’s Continental on the Bowery. Retro & cool.

Okay, we now have Bed, Bath and Beyond, Best Buy and Tasti-D, all of which I have nothing against BUT I would be psyched to have a cocktail at Marion’s,  an ice cream sundae from Peppermint Park and a groove at Polly Esther’s…just one more time!

 

70s & 80s music in a cheese-tastic venue! Polly Esther’s on West 4th.

70s & 80s music in a cheese-tastic venue! Polly Esther’s on West 4th.

 

 

New Orleans – Part Deux “212 in 504″

“Old Spanish Stables” on Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter

“Old Spanish Stables” on Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter

Have you heard about the “never lefts”?  The people who visit New Orleans for a festival, convention or a weekend getaway and fall under her spell and stay.  Well, I have never lived in The Big Easy, but I am a spiritual “never left” and fall more in love each visit.

New Orleans is a “big city” that maintains a small town pace, which is fantastic for visitors because it means that you will not be rushed as you saunter and observe.

I have always said that New Orleans is the least American city in America in the most wonderful way because of its robust cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. To discover the magic of NOLA, one should always be looking up, down and from across the street.  There are hidden gems everywhere and you will notice something new even if you have passed the same block multiple times.

Surrounded by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, the Crescent City has about 70 neighborhoods. If you are a visitor with a limited amount of time, I highly suggest getting a map of the French Quarter and begin there with a walking tour (professionally guided or self-guided) to get to know the rich history, landmarks and architecture of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. The open container law allows you to imbibe as you sightsee (by foot, of course).

The “Go NOLA” free app caters to visitors and provides free celebrity-guided walking tours.  If you Tweet, then it is worth following NOLA handles on Twitter for news/updates while you are there: Visit New Orleans @VisitNewOrleans and New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau @NewOrleans.

I always stay at a hotel in the Vieux Carré and spend most of my time there because to me, the French Quarter is a little slice of heaven where you can do just about anything you want.

Creole Townhouse in the French Quarter

Creole Townhouse in the French Quarter

The Candi Dish Vieux Carré Favorites

Casual breakfast:  Vacherie on the corner of Toulouse and Dauphine (in the St. Marie Hotel).  Weather permitting; try to dine in the courtyard. The fried green tomato breakfast is excellent.

Casual Lunch:  Café Maspero on Decatur & Toulouse.  The rarity of finding a vegetarian muffaletta on the menu attracted me but this joint has something for everyone, is well-priced and good.

Casual Dinner:  The Gumbo Shop on St. Peter between Chartres and Royal captures creole cuisine very well. Jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbos galore, strong drinks and the staff is a trip!

Upscale Dinner:  Galatoire’s is a MUST.  On Bourbon & Iberville, it is a New Orleans institution, delicious and fun. The service is terrific but if you can get Peter (“Boston Strong”) as your server, then you are golden!

The Candi Dish favorite restaurant is GALATOIRE’S

The Candi Dish favorite restaurant is GALATOIRE’S

Musts for Cocktails + Ambiance:  * Revolving bar/Merry-Go-Round at the Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone, which is an official literary landmark (Hemingway, Faulkner, Williams, Capote), on Royal * Pat O’Brien’s is famous for a reason.  Originally a speakeasy, Pat O’Brien turned a small bar into a huge business. In the 1940s when all liquor except for rum was hard to come by, an experimental concoction called The Hurricane (served in a glass the shape of a hurricane lamp) was born! With its celebrated and fabulous courtyard, dueling pianos and fun specialty cocktails, it is easy to spend hours at Pat O’Brien’s * The Old Absinthe House on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville is over 200 years old, haunted and THE place to try an absinthe (Herbsaint) cocktail.

Fantastic fire pit in Pat O’Brien’s courtyard

Fantastic fire pit in Pat O’Brien’s courtyard

Dessert/Snack:  Café du Monde (open 24 hours a day) in the French Market for beignets and café au lait.  IT IS A MUST.

Pralines and candy:  Southern Candymakers (various locations).  Known for praline, try the salted caramel tortue.

Upscale Jazz:  Hearing (and seeing) Jeremy Davenport at the Davenport Lounge at the Ritz (Canal at Dauphine) on Thursday – Saturday evenings is bliss.  Mr. Davenport is as smooth and charming as his voice and trumpeting.

Bar-Hopping: Bourbon Street, of course.  It is gritty and fun! I love it. I love that I can dance to a cover band at The Famous Door and if I do not like the next song, can skip over to The Beach or Funky 544  (with the same drink in hand).  Bourbon Street is like your very own entertainment menu and you are a human remote control.  Enjoy it – there is nothing like it.

Other Highlights in the Quarter:  * After roaming the French Market, take a snack and drink towards Governor Nichols Street Wharf and have a seat overlooking the Mississippi River (you can hop on the Riverfront streetcar here as well) * Visit St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest practicing Roman Catholic Church in the US (built in 1727 and rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in the 1850s). At night, go to St. Anthony Garden in the rear of the Cathedral to see the awe-inspiring shadow of a statue of Jesus projected by floodlights (between St. Ann and St. Peter on Royal) * Café Amelie, while established in 2005 has a 150-year old historic courtyard and carriage house.  I did not eat there but enjoyed a drink by the fountain while I mingled with locals and visitors. * For souvenirs and kitsch, I prefer shopping in the French Market & Decatur Street to Bourbon Street.  Antiques are everywhere, particularly on Royal Street.  Peruse the street art around the perimeter of Jackson Square.  * I like to walk “up”, “down” “towards the river” and “towards the lake” with a drink in hand checking out the shops, street tiles, architecture, people, and hand-painted soft clay molded tiles stating the name of the street when New Orleans was the Capital of the Spanish Province of Luisiana between 1762-1803.

Spanish tile of Calle del Hospital on what is now Governor Nicholls in the Quarter

Spanish tile of Calle del Hospital on what is now Governor Nicholls in the Quarter

Brief Candi Dish Tips on the Garden District

The second neighborhood to explore is the residential Garden District, which is overflowing with Southern charm.  Viewing the beautiful Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian style homes, gardens and LaFayette Cemetery No. 1 are musts.  Again, consider a guided walking tour to have a New Orleans expert show you the details that you would most likely miss on your own.

Dining in the Garden District:  Commander’s Palace on Washington is a Brennan classic.  Between the bright turquoise and white Victorian exterior, glass-encased Live Oak tree trunk in the middle of the floor, 25-cent martinis at lunchtime and its award-winning cuisine – you cannot go wrong!

Magazine Street is a delightful commercial area filled with places to eat, drink and shop. To explore the boutiques, antique malls and allure of Magazine, I suggest starting around 8th Street and working your way toward Felicity.  Right before you reach Felicity, cut across to St. Charles to catch the streetcar or walk back to the Quarter.  At Lee’s Circle, veer right and enjoy the architecture on Camp.

“Before I Die ____” Chalkboard in a parking lot off of Camp

“Before I Die ____” Chalkboard in a parking lot off of Camp

Jazz & A Streetcar Named Desire

For casual jazz in the evening, venture to Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood:  The Spotted Cat, dba, Snug Harbor…just follow your ears.

Traveling on the St. Charles Streetcar (which connects uptown and downtown) is a great way to view part of the Warehouse District, Garden District, Audubon Park and the beautiful homes along St. Charles.  A popular route is to catch the Streetcar at the intersection of Canal Street & St Charles in the Quarter and hop off at Washington Avenue towards Prytania Street and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  The streetcar fare is $1.25 or you can purchase the aptly named “Jazzy Pass” for unlimited use of streetcars and buses. In addition to the St. Charles Line there are 3 others: Canal Street, Riverfront and Loyola lines.

Every street has a story, every courtyard, every balcony, every building and of course, every person has a story.  Soak it up, enjoy every minute and geaux to New Orleans soon! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Frozen beverage & the mighty Mississippi River

Frozen beverage & the mighty Mississippi River

 

Please note that I was not compensated for this post.  My hope is to simply spread The Crescent City amour!

Wine Wednesday in Tampa Bay!

Gattinara at SideBern's

Gattinara at SideBern’s

I enjoy checking out the “local” wine scene in cities that I visit and being a St. Petersburg, FL native, I am delighted that I have two hometown “wine stories” to dish about.

SideBern’s on West Morrison in Tampa (which is technically not my hometown but it is close geographically) has an exceptional wine list.  I am a huge Bern’s Steak House fan but could not get a last minute reservation so decided to try its sister restaurant which serves Modern American Cuisine. The two restaurants are completely different so there is no need to compare them but I am very glad that I dined at SideBern’s.  We took the Italian wine route and ordered a Gattinara (Travaglini 2006) that was tremendous and was quite a good deal for a Nebbiolo.  I had it decanted and it went wonderfully well with everyone’s various dishes at the table:  steak, cheese plate, vegetables, gnudi.  The only “bummer” was that SideBern’s had run out of my beloved Piedmontese white truffles before we got there (shucks on the truffle timing)!

Wine lovers should visit this restaurant. www.sideberns.com/

I know that I am over a decade behind everyone else who has hopped on the Rollin’ Oats bandwagon but better late than never.  What a gem! I have only visited the St. Pete location (28th Street & MLK Drive) but am guessing that the Tampa location is just as great.  I was thrilled to be in a healthful market that also has an excellent range of domestic and international wines.  The wine staff is knowledgeable and approachable so I suggest engaging someone to assist you with exploring the variety of grapes. The fact that I could find a well-priced Rhone Valley blend, an Irish cheddar, organic cashews AND my favorite Polish beer (Żywiec) in less than 2 minutes was a major bonus!  The Żywiec perfectly complemented the yummy veggie chili nachos that I had for lunch at the market’s “Oats Café”.

I am looking forward to enjoying the new Rollin’ Oats rooftop space and expansion in 2014!  Rooftop in St. Pete = awesome!      www.rollinoats.com

 

Please note that I was not compensated by SideBern’s or Rollin’ Oats for this post.  My hope is to simply spread the delicious love!

It is very Easy to enjoy The Big Easy

I fell in love with New Orleans during my first visit in 1984 for the World’s Fair. My next visit, which was 5 years later, showed me that New Orleans does not need to be hosting a special event to be buzzing with amazing energy…the city IS special.

As I write this post from the French Quarter, I had to pare down the content since there is so much to DISH!  Let’s start with my first day which was chock-full of “only in New Orleans” experiences.

The day kicked off with a delicious veggie Mufaletta and an Abita Amber at Café Maspero on Decatur followed by a salted caramel tortue from Southern Candymakers.  A post-lunch walk led me to the Warehouse District, which is an area I do not know well and tends to not be frequented by visitors.  When you are in NOLA, there are two poignant and important things to view at the entrance plaza of Mississippi River Heritage Park on Convention Center Boulevard: a sculpture made from Hurricane Katrina debris entitled “Scrap House” by Sally Heller and a touching memorial plaque. I was very moved.

"Scrap House" by Sally Heller

“Scrap House” by Sally Heller

 

Honoring.

Honoring.

My next destination was Louis Armstrong Park via the French Quarter, which was temporarily put on hold after I stumbled upon a fantastic find for wine lovers: W.I.N.O (Wine Institute of New Orleans) on Tchoupitoulas Street.  It is a tasting bar/shop/wine school that has a hi-tech self-service wine machine that allows you to choose what wines and how much of each you wish to taste. Very cool! Jackpot!

Back on track, I meandered through the streets of the Vieux Carré (keeping in mind that it was Halloween, so the people-watching was prime)!!

Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square/New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park is made up of 31 acres bound by St. Philip Street, Rampart Street, Basin Street, St. Peter Street, and N. Villere Street in the Tremé. My timing was terrific as I was able to catch the last day of the Jazz in the Park Fall 2013 Season, which is a festival of food, drink and craft vendors but the main attraction for me was the JAZZ!  I had never seen the Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins live before and was blown away (brass pun intended)! The scene was colorful, lively and the sounds were delicious.  Being enveloped by the music, being with the people of New Orleans and being in a park that symbolizes survival in a multitude of ways, I was once again very moved and so very happy to be there. http://www.pufap.org

Jazz in Louis Armstrong Park

Jazz in Louis Armstrong Park

IMG_2916

I will summarize the rest of the evening in one sentence:  the French Quarter on Halloween is tremendous!

So, that was Day 1 in NOLA!  Stay tuned for more dishing….

Celebrating Downtown Manhattan’s Recovery

Facing South at Pier 11 on the

It is an odd feeling sitting in a spot that was completely submerged with river and rain water exactly a year ago. I do not spend a lot of time near the Seaport or in the Financial District but decided to acknowledge (and contribute to the economy of) one of the areas that is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.

The diversity of the island of Manhattan never ceases to amaze me. As I sit on a wooden stool at Pier 11 literally a few feet above the east river (next to a seagull who is giving me the side-eye), I watch the Seastreak Ferry (one of its journeys is between Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard) docking, vehicles racing on the FDR above and behind me, the nearby heliport is humming with landing and disembarking helicopters and the autumn sun is reflecting off of the wake caused by the NY Waterway vessel.

My heart is full of empathy for those affected by any type of tragedy. I do not compare one person’s loss to that of another; one hurricane to another; one flood to another or one fire to another as each deserves its own attention, its own mourning period, its own community coming together to care for its neighbors, its own opportunity to receive anonymous assistance from strangers and of course, its own recovery. I do, however, relish in the strength people possess to overcome. This is what I celebrate, with the utmost respect, today.

There are many people and businesses in need after a disaster strikes but if you would like a suggestion on how to easily stimulate the post-Sandy economy in Manhattan, visit the South Street Seaport area. As I write this, I am enjoying a Barbera d’Asti at the very friendly Bin No. 220 which just reopened a year after the storm. I took a photo of the water mark on an interior column (approx. 9 feet above sea level). www.binno220.com www.southstreetseaport.com

Sandy's Mark at Bin No 220

Visiting Greenwich Village as if it was the first time

Keith Haring Mural at James J Walker Park

Keith Haring Mural at James J Walker Park

The Candi Dish is a huge fan of taking tours to get to know cities.  Manhattan included, even for residents. The City’s 380+ year history provides for much to see, do and learn so naturally there are many tour opportunities that cater to both visitors and locals.  I made a clever last minute decision to join a “Free Tours by Foot” Greenwich Village walking tour led by Renée on a chilly and sunny autumn day last week and it was fantastic.  Learning new things about the place that I call home felt great.  I detail my two favorite parts of the tour here.

I joined the group at stop #2 (because I was running a bit late) in front of The Northern Dispensary, a now defunct medical facility that was built in 1827 and is located at an interesting intersection in which one side of the building faces two streets: Grove and Christopher while the other two sides face Waverly. I have passed that building tons of times but never knew its interesting story (please look it up for more info).

Northern Dispensary - Empty but Full of History

Northern Dispensary – Empty but Full of History

I previously posted about how one should look out and up when walking around the City so please allow me to contradict myself because examining the pavement beneath your feet can be very rewarding. One such example is the small triangular mosaic imbedded on the southwest corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue South in front of Village Cigars that reads “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.”  In a nutshell, David Hess once owned a five-story building at this location and it was seized by the City since it obstructed construction plans to widen 7th Avenue South. In 1914, Mr. Hess fought the city but lost and was left with only a 500-square inch piece of land, which he was expected to donate to the City to become part of the thoroughfare “for public purposes”. Mr. Hess refused and to symbolize his defiance, implanted the mosaic to remind people of his plight. In 1938, Mr. Hess sold the triangle to Village Cigars and the shop has left the mosaic message, a west village treasure, untouched. Again, I have walked by Village Cigars (a NY institution in its own right) countless times and never noticed this priceless piece of NY history.

David Hess' Tiny Plot of Private Property

David Hess’ Tiny Plot of Private Property

Being escorted around Greenwich Village by someone who knows much more than I was a joy.  I observed architecture (smallest house in Manhattan), special spots (the alleged origin of the term “86 that guy”) and street art (Keith Haring, anyone?) for the first time. An experience like this for a local is remarkable.  If you have 2.5 hours to spend exploring, consider a Free Tours by Foot, you will be glad that you did. http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

Please note that I was not compensated by Free Tours by Foot for this post.  My hope is to simply spread the word about a great tour company. 

Fall into Autumn in New York

Leaf at my Feet

It is invigorating when the crisp autumn air fills the open spaces of Manhattan. I have been pointedly observing the extra spring in people’s steps as we welcome the fall weather.

In each season there are important places to visit in NY so that your senses may experience the changes. Strolling along The High Line when the weather is brisk is one such joy.

For those who do not know about The High Line, it is an elevated pubic park built on an historic freight rail line that runs 1.45 miles on the West Side of the City (parallel to the Hudson River) between Gansevoort Street and West 34th Street.

The rail line was used to transport goods between factories, warehouses and Penn Station between 1934 and 1980 at which point it lay dormant for 25 years (except for the grass, trees and plants that grew on the tracks) and was saved from demolition in 1999 by two dedicated neighbors who partnered with the City to preserve the area. Reconstruction began in 2006 to create a sustainable public green space and it opened to all in 2009. The High Line, which is owned by the City of New York, offers its visitors terrific views, history, plant life, a resting spot (particularly if you nab a chaise lounge) and local NYC food vendors. For complete information on its history, tours and maps, check out the official website: www.thehighline.org

Plants and Rail Tracks

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