Sep 24, 2013

A Chocolate Haven in Soho (New York)





When in Soho be certain to enter the doors of 350 Hudson Street. This is where you'll find the most irresistible chocolate desserts created by a genius pastry chef named Jacques Torres. French born Jacques Torres is known as "Mr Chocolate" and anyone who tries his chocolates dreams of eating them again and again.

The first Jacques Torres opened in Brooklyn's neighborhood known as Dumbo. This is where the chocolate factory is located and where spectators can watch delectable chocolate treats being made from the windows. The adorable shop is filled with chocolate treasures. There's a cafe with tables for those that want to indulge in tasty treats right there and then.

The Soho "Jacques Torres" is also very magical and is definitely worth visiting for an unforgettable chocolate experience. These are just some of the treats to be found; big daddy bars, champagne truffles, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, ice cream sandwiches and incredible hot chocolate.

"Wicked" hot chocolate is a combination of cocoa, all spice, cinnamon, and chili peppers. One sip of Jacques Torres "hot chocolate"and you'll be hooked for sure. Luckily the hot chocolate mix can be purchased in tins. 

The choice of chocolate fillings are a list of bliss; ganache infused flavors such as chai, espresso, mint, red wine, raspberry, key lime or orange. How about peanut butter filled milk chocolate or dark covered pistachio marzipan? What about chocolate covered almonds or marshmallows?  It all can be found at Jacques Torres.


                                       A Sampling of  Jacques Torres delicious chocolates!

Jacques Torres (Soho)
350 Hudson Street
New York, New York
(212) 414-2462

Adrianna's Orange Truffles:

21 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces orange liqueur

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan for about three minutes. Add the butter and chocolate and let the mixture melt and thicken. Remove from heat and cool the mixture for five minutes, then add the orange liqueur. Mix gently and place the mixture in the refrigerator for one hour until it completely cools.

Once the chocolate mixture (ganache) is cooled scoop it out with a metal spoon and shape it into small to medium sized balls depending on how small or large you want your truffles to be.

Roll the truffle balls in cocoa powder or finely chopped pistachio nuts and place them on a plate. 

Enjoy your truffles one at a time and if there's any leftovers keep them in the refrigerator.

JACQUES TORRES (WEBSITE)
Check out all the wonderful treats you can purchase on-line at "Jacques Torres."




Sep 18, 2013

Hanging out in Soho (Oh, So Cool)

New York City consists of five amazing boroughs; Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan. Every borough has unique things to offer but MANHATTAN is where a lot of the action takes place. With so many neighborhoods to explore even New Yorkers can't always catch up with the hot local spots. Manhattan's neighborhoods are so diverse and exciting that it's worth to hit every neighborhood in a New York minute or New York day.

As a concierge for a major hotel in Manhattan it was my job to know New York like the back of my hand. To this very day it's hard for me to pick my favorite Manhattan neighborhood because I'm partial to all of them. One neighborhood that's really cool to hang out in is Soho. Nestled between the West & East Village, Little Italy, and Nolita, SOHO has a multitude of trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. Once a haven for artists this expensive neighborhood with cobblestone streets is where you'll find art galleries, spacious lofts, and ultra cool hotels. 

So if you find yourself in SOHO put these places on your BUCKET LIST:
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Lombardi's Pizzeria, 32 Spring Street (just on the edge of Soho) 
America's first pizzeria which has been open since 1905 has amazing tasting pizza!

Dean & Deluca, 560 Broadway is a cafe & gourmet market where food rules. 

Aquagrill (Seafood), Balthazar (French), Blue Ribbon Sushi (Japanese), David Burke Kitchen (American), Il Corallo (Italian), Kittichai (Thai) are popular restaurants for dining. The top chefs of tomorrow are in training at L'Ecole, 462 Broadway (French Culinary Institute).

Lani Kai 525 Broome Street, Merc Bar 151 Mercer, and Pegu Club 77 West Houston are good spots for a drink.

Bloomingdale's Department Store, Adidas, Bebe, Guess, H & M, Kate Spade, Prada, and Ugg are just a few big name places to shop in Soho.

The Hat Shop (hats galore), Kiosk (for inexpensive items from around the world) and Yellow Rat Bastard (urban and vintage clothing) are independent shops that are a Soho standout.

Attractions in Soho to check out: City Winery, Curt Marcus Gallery, The Drawing Center, Jen Bekman Gallery, New York City Fire Musuem, The Swiss Institute, and Westwood Gallery.

For pampering and relaxation Bliss 568 Broadway and Soho Sanctuary 119 Mercer are highly respected spas.

Whether you come to Soho to drink, eat, shop, or people watch you'll find SOHO to be a cool neighborhood.

Soho Hotel's

Crosby Street Hotel, 79 Crosby Street
The James, 27 Grand Street
The Mercer, 147 Mercer Street                                        
Mondrian Soho, 30 West Broadway
60 Thompson, 60 Thompson Street
Soho Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway







Sep 13, 2013

Inside Schroon Lake (A Sweet Summer Place)








Adirondack chairs, beaches, boating, fresh air, hiking trails, pine trees, performing arts, serenity, solitude, relaxation...these are just a few of the things synonymous with Schroon Lake!



                  


Stepping into the town of Schroon Lake on a warm summer day is like stepping inside a Norman Rockwell painting. For some reason time stands still in this small town in upstate New York where the fragrant smell of Adirondack pine trees and the calming waters of the lake make everything feel so clean and pure.


The hilly terrain of Schroon Lake Town Beach is the perfect place to read a book or have a picnic. There's also a gazebo, and tennis courts. Lifeguards are on duty daily during the summer months and one couldn't ask for a more refreshing body of water to swim in. There are plenty of places to park near the town beach but if you're staying in or around Schroon Lake you'll soon find out that it's a pedestrian friendly town that's fun to walk around.


One of my favorite places to stock up on food is TOP'S supermarket (the former Grand Union). Pick up some ready made salads and tasty cheese from the deli, a box of crackers and a bottle of Adirondack sparkling water and find a picnic table at Schroon Lake Town Beach and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and mountains while eating. Afterwards treat yourself to an ice cream cone at Stewart's shop where ice cream rules; Adirondack Bear Paw, Amaretto Chocolate Almond, Blueberry Patch, Carmel Cone Crunch, Espresso Therapy, & Mousse Trail are just some of the flavors that will lure you in for a scoop or two of some of the best ice cream in all of New York State. 




Schroon Lake's Main Street (Highway 9) has on old fashioned feel to it and is perfect for dining and shopping. Established in 1881 The Town Store sells loads of unique items. They also rent canoes and kayaks. Schroon Lakes Antiques has great 20th century merchandise for sale. There's even a mini Christmas tree in the antique shop with interesting ornaments. (You can make your Christmas wish in front of the tree).


Locals can often be spotted at Flanagan's Pub & Grill where the beer and food rarely disappoint customers. Morningstar Cafe named after the 1950's movie Marjorie Morningstar which was filmed in Schroon Lake is super cozy. It's owned by a French lady who certainly knows how to please her patrons with yummy foods like homemade crepes and sandwiches. For barbecue food that tastes like it was made right in Tennessee Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse is the place to be. Everything from the pulled pork to the mac and cheese is awesome. They serve lots of side dishes and mouth-watering desserts. I'd eat at Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse every week if I lived in Schroon Lake. The owner is one of the nicest and best chefs in all of the Adirondacks and he went out of his way to make my friend and me feel welcome in his restaurant.


Next to the public library on Leland Street is the Schroon Lake Farmers Market where crafty folks and farmers sell their goods. The samples of food are mighty generous and I still can remember the sample of that blueberry crumble cake and homemade peanut butter and jam. 
Lots of cute and historic homes are nestled throughout Schroon Lake and those that summer here are truly blessed.

Schroon Lake's cultural scene is very stimulating. The Seagle Music Company has the oldest summer vocal training program in the United States. You can count on first rate musical theater and opera performances by young performing artists from around the country. Two other places for performing arts are the Boathouse Theatre and Strand Theatre.


Schroon Lake is a vacation destination so there's all kinds of places to stay; campgrounds, cabins, bed & breakfasts, motels and even a Christian conference center and hotel known as Word of Life. Owned by a Hungarian couple Kish Duna Motels & Cabins is where I stay when I'm in Schroon Lake. With a private beach and furnished cabins it's an affordable place to stay. They have nightly bonfires and it's fun to talk to the other guests and roast marshmallows and make S'Mores (chocolate, graham crackers, and melted marshmallows) mmmmmh, so good. The swimming at Kish Duna's private beach is out of this world. I feel like a mermaid swimming at dawn, midday, and in the dark.


Oh Norman Rockwell if you were still alive I know you'd paint a perfect picture of Schroon Lake. How sweet it is to know that there's still a place where things are done a lot simpler and where tranquility still exists.



Sep 9, 2013

New York State (The State of Plenty)

NEW YORK STATE is certainly the state of plenty. It contains 6 million acres of unspoiled wilderness, has one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, offers incredible hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, boasts hundreds of freshwater lakes for boating and swimming, and has plenty of seashore on Long Island. It's one of the few states in America that offers outstanding public transportation and pedestrian friendly cities and towns. 

New York State attracts people from all over the world that come to see the stunning Niagara Falls, tour the Catskill Mountain region, eat chicken wings in Buffalo, and marvel at the wonders of metropolis New York City. No matter what region of New York State you visit chances are you'll be smitten by this amazing state that has plenty to offer residents and tourists alike.

Having lived and worked in New York City and other parts of the state I consider myself a New Yorker. I cherish this state with all my heart. So join me as I share the secrets and wonders of NEW YORK STATE; the state of plenty. 




COMING UP: Shroon Lake; A town that feels like you've stepped inside a Norman Rockwell painting and New York City; Concierge Style!

                

Sep 5, 2013

Bergen to Oslo on a Budget

NORWAY is expensive no doubt about it that's why I worked a short term job there which fortunately provided me with free housing. I made some Norwegian friends while in Kristiansand and after finishing my three month commitment of work I was invited to camp in Bergen with my friends. They had a caravan so we spent three days in Bergen camping and enjoying the outdoors.

BERGEN is the land of fjords. A fjord is a long narrow deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs typically fomred by sumbergence of a glaciated valley. Fjords are stunning in appearance so have your camera or smart phone ready for taking pictures. BERGEN is an outdoor's paradise and although there are plenty of hotels and bed & breakfasts to choose from camping is the way to go when in Bergen. Two of my favorite campgrounds are Bergan Camping Park and Grimen Motell & Camping AS. You'll definately be in tune with nature when staying at one of these places.

The top attractions in Bergen are Floibanen, a fabulous journey to to top of Mount Floyen, Hardangerfjord, Bergen Fish Market, and Mount Ulriken.

NORWAY is known for trolls and they can be found all over the country as a statue. A troll is a fearsome member of a number of creatures from Norwegian mythology. Many fairytales and illustrations have made trolls known as frightening creatures.    


                                                            Norwegian Trolls


Oslo the capital of Norway is a cosmopolitan city. The Oslo Tourist Information Centre by City Hall is a useful place to start your visit in Oslo. It's open 365 days a year and has a friendly and experienced staff . The Oslo Pass gives you free entry to more than 30 attractions and museums, free walking tours, free public transportation travel, free entry to outdoor swimming pools and more. The Oslo Pass is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

My favorite budget accommodations are the Anker Hostel at Storgata 55, westside N-0182 Oslo, and Thon Hotel Munch at Munchsgate 5, 0130 Oslo. There's so much to see and do in Oslo that one week might not be enough. Below are some attractions not to miss:

OSLO ATTRACTIONS:

Skiing (in winter)
Outdoor swimming in a fjord, lake, or public swimming pool (in summer)
Akerhus Castle
Botanical Garden
Film Museum
Fram Museum; The Polar Ship Farm
Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology                    
Oslo Opera House
TusenFryd Amusement Park
Viking Ship Museum

Although an expensive country NORWAY is beautiful and an outdoors paradise. There are ways to enjoy this splendid Scandinavian country on a budget. So don't miss out on NORWAY.




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