Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pastrami on Rye at General Muir

When it comes to deli, it's hard to beat General Muir.  House-made bagels with lox, nova, cream cheese.  A classic rueben.  Kugel.  It's all there.  Andrea and I were lucky enough to get a booth, where we were served by Gabrielle.  Gabrielle's got some personality my friends, and she's not shy about recommending.  I arrived pretty sure I was going to get the rueben, signature sandwich of delis around the world.  But Gabrielle steered me toward their pastrami on rye, and all the difference it made.  Served with a delectable spread of chicken liver, doused in sauce, and piled high on their subtle rye, it was perfect.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hunger Games Catching Fire

The second in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire takes us back to Panem, as the struggle for power heightens.  Media manipulation.  Power plays.  And, of course, kill or be killed.  It's intense!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theatre

Bah! Hum Bug!  Or, maybe not.  Celebrate the Holiday Season with Scrooge and the gang at the Alliance Theatre on Saturday, now in its 23rd smash year.  From Nov 29 through Dec 29 this year.  Two shows at 6p and 8p most nights.  Nights vary.  Plus matinees on the weekends.  Tickets range from $17.50 to $50. Or, you can get the Bantam and Biddy Dinner and Show package for $55.  Fried chicken and Scrooge!  What could be better?

Find out more:

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The Alliance Theatre is in the same building as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, adjacent to the High Museum in Midtown Atlanta.

There is metered street parking around the building.  The meters do take visa and mastercard.

Address: 1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA, 30309
Phone: 404.733.4650
Latitude: 33.789458
Longitude: -84.384710

Whiskey Gentry at Variety Playhouse

An old Here's What You Do favorite, the Gentry hit Atlanta again on Dec 7 at Variety Playhouse.  8pm.  If you've been anywhere except under a rock in Atlanta over the last few years, you'll know that the Gentry's punk bluegrass sound is where it's at.  Anchored by husband and wife team, Jason Morrow and Lauren Staley Morrow, the band is rounded out by a rambunctious team of bluegrass talent.  Lauren's angelic voice will hypnotize you, so be ready.

Jam Session at Twains with Joe Gransden

Led by Joe Gransden, Atlanta's big band leader, Twain's weekly jazz jam session is consistently voted the best in Atlanta.  Go find out why at Twains in Decatur.  No cover.  If you're feeling bold, you can join in.  All are welcome.  Starts at 9 on Tuesdays.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pizze Margherita at Cucina Asellina

It's one of the keystone dishes.  If a pizza place can do a good Margherita, then they probably knock everything out of the park too.  The Asellina Margherita passes the test. Hot.  Thin.  Heirloom cherry tomatoes.   Fresh Buffala mozzarella.   And just enough sauce to balance it all.  Give it a try with a glass of chianti.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Veal Meatballs at Cucina Asellina

What a delight of a Midtown lunch. Soaring windows light up the space's polished and mirrored interior. The spinach fettucine with veal meatballs is a triumph. Enjoy a glass (or two) of prosecco. The cannoli is a perfect dessert. Great service + great atmosphere + great food = we'll be going back.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

White Truffles at The NoMad

A beaux-arts staple of the NYC dinner scene, the restaurant at the NoMad luxury hotel is stunning and comfortable. The food is not overly complicated but is simple and elegant. It is one of the most comfortable fine dining venues in the city. We recommend the radish appetizer with the pumpkin-seared scallops. If you are feeling indulgent, try the "Ridiculous Portion" of white truffles. Magnifique!

Notes: The wine list is approachable, and you won't have any trouble finding a lovely complement to your meal.
Address: 1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
Phone: 347-472-5660
Latitude: 40.745034
Longitude: -73.988671

Eggs on Cocotte at Balthazar

A New York icon, Balthazar never disappoints. For an incredible breakfast, try the eggs in cocotte with "soldiers." Splurge on a bowl of hot chocolate. Book your reservations online. For large parties, a prix fixe menu is available. And be sure not to forget some goodies from the bakery. The scallops are outstanding. And we also recommend the insanely mouth-watering petits fours or an irresistible Northern Spy Apple Pie.

Hotel Delmano

Sultry. Swanky. Gorgeous and delicious. Cozy rooms. Monthy jazz. Raw bar. Excellent charcuterie. And the wine and cocktails keep flowing. We can't get enough. If you're adventurous and have a partner in crime (or two) along, splurge on the Grand Hotel Platter: 18 oysters, 6 clams, 6 shrimp, 8 crab legs, caviar with crème fraiche. The William Tell is the mildest of the dizzying cocktails, but if you are really bold, go with the Truth or Consequences or Letters from Mexico.

The Bowery Ballroom

Music lovers: this is THE venue for an evening in the city. The Bowery is renowned for bringing in excellent national and indie artists alike. The two-level space welcomes you with a bar and lounge downstairs. Ticket prices range from about $15 to $100 for bigger the names. Enjoy!

Sweet Red Pepper Slice at Grimaldi's Pizzeria

Want a quintessential NYC lunch? Try Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, nestled in the streets adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge. The food is delicious, the juke box is nostalgic, and the setting is perfect. Don't miss it, even if you are only in town a day or two. We recommend the Italian sausage and oven-roasted sweet red pepper toppings, with a cold cranberry, and the "Chocolate & Vanilla Ice Cream with Almonds and Cherry in a Dark Chocolate Shell" for a smashing dessert.

Film Forum

Love movies? Love a little something unique and out of the ordinary?  From their website: "We present two distinct, complementary film programs – NYC theatrical premieres of American independents and foreign art films, programmed by Cooper and Mike Maggiore; and, since 1987, repertory selections including foreign and American classics, genre works, festivals and directors’ retrospectives, programmed by Bruce Goldstein. Our third screen is dedicated to extended runs of popular selections from both programs, as well as new films for longer engagements." Spend a few afternoons here. You won't regret it.

Lady Liberty

Now that the Statue of Liberty is open to the public again, don't miss the opportunity to visit. We recommend the 9:30 a.m. ferry to Liberty Island. There are so many things to do in NYC that open after lunch; make sure you get this covered in the morning. Even if you've been before, it's worth another trek. Make sure you are there up to an hour and half early to board in peak months, April to September. Ferries depart from Battery Park in Manhattan.

Address: Battery Park, New York, NY 10005
Latitude: 40.703410
Longitude: -74.017424


Free and open to the public Tuesday - Saturday, the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon. Collections include accessories, costume, textile, and photography with interesting rotating exhibitions. Book early for special events and lectures. They are almost always sold out, and for good reason.

The High Line

The High Line has a lot to offer. We recommend a leisurely afternoon taking in the art installations by Carol Bove, Spencer Finch, and other various artists. With a little under a mile and a half of strolling through the elevated public park, you will appreciate NYC from a new vantage point. Look for live performances as well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Red Quinoa Salad at Hudson Clearwater

We adore restaurants with a secret entrance. And wow for 447 Hudson in the West Village. We recommend the Lila-Jane for your official lunch cocktail, followed by the red quinoa salad, which includes black kale, swiss chard, a poached egg, almonds, confit pear, and manchego (!). Enjoy a glass of prosecco while you are at it. Finish with a sandwich of organic, lemon-grilled free-range chicken or a bowl of the glorious roasted tomato bisque.

Pork Belly at Dieci

Italian and Japanese - two of our favorite culinary choices. In this tiny discreet East Village restaurant, Dieci serves up some unique and inspiring creations. Pork belly, mushroom risotto, foie gras to die for, and the heavenly Earl Grey crème brulée. Without a reservation, there is no chance for a seat. It's delicious and pricey, but you can bring your own wine. Cheers!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Come to MOMA

Gallery after gallery of creative presentations of some of the most important art and social commentary to grace American soil. With wide-ranging exhibits on architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, film, multimedia, and even performance art, an afternoon here will provide plenty a food for thought.

The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art never gets old. Despite its traditional museum fair, it possesses some truly unique pieces from antiquity, the European masters, American and modern art, and from other cultures throughout the world. There is also a large collection of musical instruments, costumes, accessories, decorative arts, and antique weapons. There are even entire rooms from periods throughout history incorporated into the museum.

Surprise Yourself at Eleven Madison Park

Selected as a leading fine dining restaurant on 2013 restaurant pick list, we were expecting an other-worldly experience. And Eleven Madison Park hit and surpassed the mark. There is a three-course tasting menu for $225 per person, though they will tailor their menu for dietary restrictions. Save up and go for it. While the official description of the food focuses on native sourcing, there is definitely an element of molecular gastronomy that is not be underestimated.

Greek Omelet at the Astro

We landed here after seeing rave reviews for the Astro. It did not disappoint. The greek omelet with feta and tomato is a great start to your morning. Or maybe you prefer and order of stuffed French toast. Pair it with an order of fresh fruit and stiff coffee, and you are on way.

Tea Sandwich Trio Platter at Bosie

We love it. We can't get enough of the French Onion Gratinée or the fabulous tea sandwiches. Sample as many as you can. The price is right. Go for at least one three-flavor platter. Oh - and maybe you'll need to leave room for quiche and the pastries. We recommend the rose and raspberry Ispahan Macaron. And the éclairs are addiction-worthy. Look for seasonal specials.

Eggplant Lasagna at Armani Ristorante

Consistently rated one of the best Central Park area restaurants, the Armani Ristorante is worth an evening. Or two. We recommend the eggplant lasagna, the scallops with truffles, or the sea bass. Divine.

Veggie Couscous at Le Pain Quotidien

Halfway between the Empire State Building and Central park likes a delicious little restaurant, le Pain Quotidien. We recommend the Organic M’Hamsa Whole Wheat Couscous for a deliciously filling lunch with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and artichoke. Follow with a cherry scone. Mmmm.

Best Bagel and Coffee

A mere 10 minute walk from the Empire State Building is a delightful stop for breakfast, the Best Bagel and Coffee. We concur. It really is the best bagel and coffee. We love anything with cream cheese. A whole wheat with veggie cream cheese? Or maybe even a breakfast sandwich with spicy cream cheese? Maybe lox with your cream cheese? It's all good.

The Empire State Building

Master of all that we survey? Not quite. But, it seems like the Empire State Building is still a must-see every time we are in New York. The Observation Deck offers an optimal platform from which to carefully inspect the city. $27 Adults; $21 Kids.  Come early to beat the sometimes long lines. In any case, look out for the lights at night. There are colorful displays on special occasions.

Central Park

It just never gets old. Anytime of year, Central Park offers a lovely view on why New York is the place to be. Nearly 900 acres of land is nested among the vertical urban landscape. There are performances and festivals throughout the year. For a leisurely day, visit Belvedere Castle, have a picnic by the lake, reservoir, or meer, take a stroll through the zoo, hire a carriage ride, give the carousel a whirl. For the sports enthusiast, there is everything from boating to rock climbing. Central Park is perhaps the most budget-friendly way to spend time soaking up New York City.

The National Cryptologic Museum

What could possibly be cooler than a visit to a cryptology museum? We have no idea. This fabulous museum is the NSA's public face. It's a 25-minute drive from Baltimore,or alternatively, a 25-minute drive from Annapolis, but worth it. Check the hourse before you go. They are subject to change. Opening in 1993, the National Cryptologic Museum is the only public intelligence museum according to their website. We really dig the research resources there like the Special Research Histories and the monographs you can check out from their library. David Kahn, a cryptology historian, also donated valuable resources he had collected over the course of his career, including texts dating as far back as the 1500's. For a primer, read The Code Book by Simon Singh. Good stuff.

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

Love lighthouses? We really do. Annapolis's Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark. Only ten lighthouses in the country have earned this designation. It is an active lighthouse that has recently undergone a major renovation and preservation effort. Tours depart from the Annapolis Maritime Museum via boat. It's a 30-minute ride out, a guided tour, and return trip. At the time of this writing, the tour departures are at 9:00am and 11:30am on Saturdays, June-September.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chimichanga while Braving the Bull

El Toro Bravo has delicious food, but their specialty is their margaritas. From there website: "...20 different flavors of margaritas made from about 70 varieties of tequila." We recommend coming in for happy hour, 3-6pm. Dinner officially starts at 2:30pm. Have a margarita and a chimichanga and another margarita. And if you can, throw in a sopapilla for dessert. You will be in great shape for an evening stroll down by the water a few blocks away.

Filet Mignon Oscar at O'Brien's Oyster Bar & Steakhouse

While we know you may have visited Annapolis in order to sample the seafood, O'Brien's is a great place for a good old-fashioned steak. The Filet Mignon Oscar is an excellent example of the seafood-steak combination. From their website: "Tenderloin medallions served with lump crab meat, mashed potatoes, asparagus and finished with a Béarnaise sauce." The folks there couldn't be nicer if they tried. And don't miss out on the desserts. The strawberry zabglione is worth a taste. If you can catch a brunch there, try out the Crab Benedict. There are also some lively evening activities, including trivia and poker nights and live music. Enjoy the specialty drinks, the raw bar, and the welcoming atmosphere.

Rockfish at Reynold's Tavern

Reynolds Tavern is a casual but refined dining experience. In the heart of Annapolis, it is the oldest tavern in the city. From their website, "Reynolds Tavern serves a full lunch menu, English Afternoon Tea and Dinner.  In Spring, Summer and early Fall we offer casual alfresco dining in our courtyard."  The menu is divine. Our dinner favorites include the scallop and risotto appetizer and grilled rockfish entrée, but everything from the cajun shrimp with andouille sausage to the shepherd's pie is delicious. Open for dinner Wednesday - Sunday nights.

Rolled Stuffed Veal at Maria's on the Water

Annapolis has several lovely waterfront hangouts, and Maria's is not to be missed. The restaurant is spacious complete with a terrace, and a lovely indoor wrap-around balcony from the upstairs level. The menu ranges from gourmet pizzas to meatball subs, traditional crab dip to gourmet Sicilian rolled veal stuffed with things like cheese and prosciutto. For lunch, we recommend sharing the home baked lasagna. Pair it with the delicious grilled vegetable side. From the website: "Fresh Grilled Vegetables with Foccacia - broccoli, zucchini, squash, & eggplant lightly dipped in olive oil & fresh garlic then grilled to perfection." Be sure to drop in later with friends or strangers for cocktails at happy hour. You won't be disappointed.

Creamy Crab Soup at Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs

If you are in Annapolis, you really need to treat yourself to some of the seafood delicacies. Buddy's a great menu, and if you have trouble deciding, you can go for seafood buffet! The views are great over the water and service is fantastic.

The crab soup is thick and DELICIOUS! It makes for a great lunch!


What a beautiful campus! And the visitor's center is worth a stop. From the official museum website, "Located in Preble Hall on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Museum offers two floors of exhibits about the history of seapower, the development of the U.S. Navy, and the role of the U.S. Naval Academy in producing officers capable of leading America's sailors and marines. Our displays combine historical artifacts with video and audio technology to bring to life the stories of the men and women who have served their country at sea. Whether you are a casual visitor, a student of naval history, or a member of the Brigade of Midshipmen, the Museum stands ready to make your visit a memorable one." Check them out here:

New England Scallops at McGarvey's Oyster Bar & Salloon

There is a time and place for cocktails and finery and a time and place for a pub. A pub on the nestled among the cobblestone paths by the Annapolis harbor is just plain fun. Some nights, there is a young and energetic crowd in the evenings, but the daytime can often offer a quiet haven to enjoy a beer, some great seafood, and people-watching by the water. We recommend the fresh broiled New England scallops for dinner. Grab a table near the front windows and enjoy. 

Egg Platter at Chick and Ruth's Delly

Chick and Ruth’s Delly, an Annapolis legend. Chick and Ruth’s is a busy diner with locals and tourists alike. From the very broad all-day menu, we recommend the crab omelet for breakfast. You can actually check into a room at the ScotLaur Inn in the diner. The inn is atop the diner and convenient to everything. The landmark event is the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in the diner. The strong patriotic presence and the memorabilia all over the walls leave a lasting impression.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sailing Away in Annapolis

The sunset cruise on the Woodwind Schooner is a must-do in Annapolis. Great staff. Lovely music. And toasting at sunset on the water was terribly romantic. Make sure you look at their calendar online, though. The nightly cruises are frequent, but the live music seemed to happen every week or so. You can reserve your spot online as well. If we hadn't booked ahead of time and taken our confirmation number to the dock with us, there would not have been availability.

Quiche and Coffee at the Hard Bean

In the heart of downtown Annapolis, the Hard Bean Coffee and Booksellers is cozy and charming. Free and fast wi-fi, a small but eclectic selection of used books, new books, and featured books by local authors. Coffees. Quiches. Sweets. On the harbor. Just wonderful. Wonderful staff. It's a great place to settle in and work remotely while visiting the city. Also budget-friendly.