The Viva Belize Collection is a group of eco-friendly, luxury hotels located deep in the rainforest of Belize and on the shores of Hopkins, Belize, a quaint unspoiled town filled with colorful architecture, lively eateries and bars, some with music and weekly concerts.
Our first stop was at the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, set on hundreds of acres of lush greenery, overlooking the river, with onsite wildlife, a place to really escape and getaway from it all. There are no TV’s in the rooms, wifi is available in the lobby and restaurant only. There is a total of 31 rooms and suites, designed with sustainable materials, organic design and are chic and comfortable.
The large heated pool is surrounded by lush foliage, with food and beverage service available. The main restaurant serves local fare with farm to table ingredients, sourced from the onsite garden. The cozy bar serves up beer, wine, and cocktails while guests enjoy the nature around them.
As the official base camp for National Geographic Expeditions in Belize, the concierge desk arranges adventures for guests ranging from ziplining, wildlife tours, cave exploring, and bird watching.
Located about 90 minutes from Belize International Airport, the lodge can arrange transportation to and from the resort.
After a few very peaceful and tranquil days it was time to hit the beach. We highly recommend combining 2 resorts to experience the beautiful nature and the beauty of the beaches that Belize has to offer.
Almond Beach Resort at Jaguar Reef is an intimate 12 room beachfront resort set on a 5 mile white sand beach. Located within a trio of hotels all part of the Viva Belize collection, Jaguar Reef and the Colonial are right next door. A heated infinity pool and hot tub is just steps away, as is an onsite spa, restaurant and bar.
A short walk on the beach there is a pier with a bar, room for relaxation and sunbathing, a rope swing and a platform for diving into the clear waters.
The Barrier Reef just off Belize’s coast is legendary for amazing snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. The resort arranges a wide choice of snorkeling adventures ranging from a half day snorkeling excursion to diving at the world famous Blue Hole. A professional captain supplies all the equipment, provides expert safety and area knowledge to maximize the customer experience. On our adventure we saw schools of colorful fish, sting rays and nurse sharks!
Us Weekly’s Most Stylish New Yorkers Event to Honor Fashion’s Fiercest During New York Fashion Week #NYFW
Fashion Week in NYC is a whirlwind of shows, parties, dinner and late night affairs. Attended by fashionistas, celebrities, influencers, models and the media.
Us Weekly held its annual Most Stylish Event for New York Fashion Week at NYC’s brand new Cathedrale at The Moxy East Village. The 15th annual Red Carpet event is a NYFW staple welcoming some of the most fashionable and famous New Yorkers.
This year’s event celebrated 15 icons in the world of Fashion. The list includes Chris Benz, DJ Pamela Tick, Micaela Erlanger, Nam Vo, Violett Beane, Jennifer Fisher, Cara Santana, Cipriana Quann, Sara Haines, La La Anthony, Army Brook Sharp, Lil’ Kim, Deborah Roberts, and Ice-Tea and Coco.
The guests at the soiree enjoyed delicacies created by the Cathedrale kitchen with specialty cocktails and interactive activations by sponsors Biore, Smirnoff and Chapstick.
Celebrities spotted on the red carpet included 13 reasons why actress Amy Hargreaves, Marc John Jeffries of Power, Michelle Collins, Rachel Lindsey of the Bachelorette, Model Ralph Souffrant, Laura Pieri, Eva Gutowski, Designer Jennifer Fisher, Stylist Micaela Erlanger, RHONJ Melissa & Joe Gorda, Margaret Josephs, Jackie Goldschneider, Danielle Staub & Haley Hasselhoff, Antoine Bethea of The New York Giants, Greg Bello, Amy Herman of Million Dollar Listing, Luann De Lesseps, Designer Ramy Brook Sharp, Model Yasmine Petty, Actress Genevieve Angelson, RHOD Cary Deuber, Kary Brittingham, D’Andra Simmons & Cameron Wescott, Mariah Lynn of Love & Hip Hop New York, Actor Andy Carl with wife Orfeh Carl, Nick Young and more…………..
Photos below by Greg Pace:
Amylos Taverna is not your typical greek restaurant in a neighborhood known for greek eateries. The creative menu aims to elevate the dining experience and the decor is more Flatiron or Chelsea than Astoria, not that there is anything wrong with Astoria. The fresh fish display is artfully done and the bar is modern and chic. The service was very friendly and attentive. We loved the watermelon salad, which is perfect for summer. The whole fish, deboned, and the King Prawns were as fresh as can be. The typical greek spreads and the greek salad were delicious. The specialty cocktails were light and flavorful as were the desserts.
Located at 33-19 Broadway Astoria, NY amylos.com (718) 215-0228
Senso Unico in Sunnyside Queens is a quick 15 minute ride from midtown Manhattan. Chef Vincenzo and wife Laura opened this charming Italian trattoria about a year and a half ago. The neighborhood is growing quickly and the foodie scene is making a mark in the area. We loved the flatbread menu, the rib-eye carpaccio, the cuoppo, and the traditional calamaratta al frutti di mare.
Located 43-04 47th avenue Sunnyside, Queens 11104 (347) 662-6101 sensounicorestaurant.com
Roasted Masala is less than a year old and is already gaining steam for offering high end Indian Cuisine on the Upper West Side. Offering sit down service as well as takeout, the prices are affordable and the portions are large and can be shared. The location is perfect for Columbia University students, staff, and visiting family. Our favorites were the lasooni gobi (crispy cauliflower), the butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and the saffron shrimp. The staff was extremely attentive and accommodating.
Located at 914 Columbus ave. between 104th and 105th street. New York, NY (917) 388-3586
Citrico Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights offers truly authentic Mexican fare from the Central and Southern States of Mexico, not the typical Northern Tex-Mex New Yorkers are used to. Yes, even grasshoppers, appear on the menu! The dishes are infused with citrus, as the name suggests. The citrus and passionfruit margaritas are delicious. The ceviche with added citrus is very different and tasty as is the guacamole topped with fresh pomegranate. The “Elote” Mexican corn is served fresh with cotija cheese, chipotle mayo and chili powder. The Pollo en Mole must be tried, served in their homemade sauce with rice & beans.
Located at 681 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11238 (347) 955-4519 citricobrooklyn.com
Ayada Thai- Chelsea Market is the newest outpost of the Elmhurst, Queens based restaurant opened over 11 years ago. The new location is inside the very robust and popular Chelsea Market in the meatpacking district. The menu ranges from chive dumplings, noodles of every kind, spicy tom yum soup to fried Whole Red Snapper. The fried chicken wings in a sweet chili sauce were fantastic.
Located at 75 Ninth Avenue, Inside Chelsea Market New York, NY ayadathai.com
Coarse NYC is a very different and interesting dining experience. Chef Vincent Chirico does all the thinking for the guests with a spontaneous 7 course menu, paired with wines chosen by him and his staff for $99. Heavily seafood based but can be adjusted for dietary restrictions or preferences. We really enjoyed the hamachi and avocado, the seared sea scallops and the burrata ravioli.
Located at 306 west 13th street New York, NY (646) 896-1404
On the Adriatic Sea lies the town Mola di Bari. Located in the region of Apulia or Puglia known for hundreds of miles of coastline, vineyards, olive trees, agriculture, white washed buildings and the famous aquaviva onion.
The Teatro Pubblico Pugliese consortium, made up of local authorities, politicians, and tourism experts from the Puglia region focuses on promoting Puglia’s cultural, historic, and culinary offerings.
Officials from Croatia, which lies opposite Bari on the Adriatic are also involved in promoting the region through meetings, workshops, and in our case interviews with both local and international journalists.
The climate in Puglia creates optimal conditions for farming, agriculture, and wine making. Fresh seafood, particularly octopus are ubiquitous to the region and are served raw.
The term “Il Crudo Barese” was coined in the region and is very different from what the westerner thinks Crudo means. A tradition that dates back many centuries, fresh catches are served, raw moments after being pulled from the sea.
On our journey we were joined by Ornella Fado, an Italian/American hostess, creator and producer of Brindiamo, a show on Amazon Prime that showcases Italian Cuisine and Culture both in New York and abroad.
Chef Pasquale Martinelli, born in Mola Di Bari, has been cooking traditional Puglian cuisine since 1990, after graduating from the IPSAR Institute. A firm believer in using only the best ingredients from the region and implementing them to create authentic dishes, along with the art of hospitality.
His future project is the launch of Alloro Private Culinary Concierge, A private chef and hospitality company based in New York. His mission is to craft menus for guests following the Mediterranean diet, using ingredients imported fresh from Puglia and cooking them on premises, private homes and yachts.
Chef Martinelli is working on setting up a gala dinner for 100 guests on a yacht cruising around Manhattan serving a 5 course menu highlighting artisan small production cheeses, semola, wines, Extra Virgin Olive Oil directly from Puglia.
The Puglia region offers visitors a vast choice of adventures.
We visited the “Grotte di Castellana”, one of the most important attractions in Puglia. Located at the entrance of the Itria Valley, neighboring villages Alberobello and Polignano a Mare, these natural caves began forming 90 million years ago and to date have welcomed over 15 million guests. The tours through the caves offer splendid views through this natural wonder and can be short or long depending on the visitors preference.
The village of Alberobello, high in the hills in Puglia is a UNESCO world heritage site. Known for it’s “trulli”, whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs. The best way to experience the town is with a walking tour. A guide explains the history of the area, the significance of the architecture, and brings you inside these homes and introduces you to local artisans.
Polignano a Mare is our favorite area of Puglia. Limestone Cliffs lead to crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, where beach life is sizzling. Cafes and bars line the town and folks sunbathe on the rocks or on the beach below. We are coming back!
Hamptons Roundup 7/20/19 Hamptons Happening @WaxmanCancer and South Fork Natural History Museum 30th Anniversary Gala @SOFO
Last weekend a couple of our favorite events of the summer happened in the Hamptons. The 15th Annual” Hamptons Happening” honored luminaries in cuisine and raised over $440,000 to benefit The Samuel Waxman Cancer Foundation.
This year’s theme was “Tour de Cuisine”, guests enjoyed tastings from over 25 food, wine, and spirit purveyors representing some of the favorite culinary destinations around the world. There were delicacies from Columbia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.
The band, titled Pat Farrell and The Cold Spring Harbor Band did a Billy Joel Tribute Show that rocked and had guests dancing in the big tent.
The South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) 30th Anniversary Gala Celebrated the Wonder of The Wild, Marking 30 Years of Nature, Education & Exploration Empowering Families to become responsible Stewards of our Planet.
The evening began with a VIP cocktail party on the lawn featuring acclaimed chefs from The Bell & Anchor, Bostwicks Clambakes & Catering, Calissa Hamptons, Canal Cafe, Centro, East Hampton Grill, Grace & Grit, Montauk Shellfish Company, Page at 63 Main, Saaz Restaurant and the Southampton Social Club.
A buffet dinner catered by Elegant Affairs followed under the tent with an honoree presentation and a live auction featuring once in a lifetime trips to Belize and Madagascar, private dinners donated by Elegant Affairs, a yacht outing provided by Charles Charters and a stay at Villa Bella Vita in Turks & Caicos, and a shark tagging expedition in Nantucket with the at-sea lab MV OCEARCH.
Rolls Royce offered test drives to all the guests of their newest and most luxurious vehicles.
The King and Prince Resort is a true gem of a vacation getaway. Located on St. Simon’s Island, a charming southern barrier island off the coast of Georgia, known for it’s beaches, rich history and numerous PGA golf courses.
A member of The Historic Hotels of America, the hotel has a storied past with many prominent guests who have called the resort home while on St. Simon’s Island. The resort has been thoughtfully updated with modern amenities while retaining it’s authentic southern charm with mediterranean architecture and southern decor throughout.
The accommodations range from resort view rooms to luxury villas suitable for large families and the most discerning travelers. The resort is also pet friendly with rooms specially allocated for our fur babies.
Amenities include multiple outdoor pools, 2 tennis courts, massage therapy, outdoor yoga and of course golf. The hotel’s restaurant ECHO offers oceanfront dining and cocktails and is the only official oceanfront dining venue on the island.
The fare at ECHO is American with a focus on seafood and the use of local ingredients. We enjoyed several meals at ECHO with breakfast being a favorite of ours. Lots of options from traditional to healthy with yummy smoothies to start off the day on the right foot.
At some point guests have to leave the resort to explore the island. Below is a list of our recommendations for where to eat, what to see and where to explore. This is only a small portion of what St. Simon’s has to offer and we look forward to returning to explore more!
- Lighthouse Trolley Tours run by Cap Fendig, a seventh generation resident of the island and a true expert on all things St. Simons. They offer trolley tours of the island, ghost tours, dolphin cruises and can be booked for private charters and special occasions.
- St. Simon’s Lighthouse Museum is a must visit to learn about the history of the lighthouse and it’s importance to St. Simon’s, then climb the stairs for amazing views of the ocean and surrounding islands.
- Gnat’s Landing offers American fare and drinks in a casual setting and is kid friendly. Try the Gnat’s famous slaw bowls! Come football season Gnat’s is the place to be.
- Georgia Sea Grill offers the freshest seafood on the island in an elegant and sophisticated setting. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a special occasion.
- Southern Soul BBQ is the most famous BBQ restaurant on the island having won several awards for its delicious slow- cooked meats and true southern style.
When we used to think about Pittsburgh, PA we would imagine a city that was a center for heavy industry, steel mills, but those days are long gone. These days the city is clean, green, focused on sustainability, filled with warm people, a vibrant food scene, artist community and of- course lots of professional sports teams.
Recently voted America’s “Most Livable City, Pittsburgh has many affordable housing options, premium healthcare facilities and top notch universities including Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh. As a matter of fact, the city is so tech savvy, second only to Silicone Valley, that is has been dubbed Silicone Valley of the East. On occasion, one can witness a self driving car whiz by, being tested as commissioned by Uber and Lyft, etc.
Health and Wellness is at the forefront of life in Pittsburgh. Planned green spaces designed for outdoor recreation and exercise are everywhere. Food choices are many and it seems that vegetarian and vegan restaurants are popping up in many of the 90 neighborhoods.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a 15 acre mecca of gardens, seasonal flower shows and exhibits. The focus and research is on sustainability and the effects of plant life on our environment. Exotic plants abound including orchids and bonsai trees. Summer camps and year round learning possibilities available for children.
The Fairmont Pittsburgh opened in 2010 and has led the way to offer luxurious and certified “Green” accommodations for business and leisure travelers. Located in the heart of downtown, the “LEED” certified gold level property serves delicious American fare at FL.2, cocktails & jazz at Andy’s wine bar, a spa and health club, plus lots of meeting space and weddings. The gorgeous grand ballroom can hold a wedding of up to 450 guests and the hotel staff can help orchestrate the perfect wedding of any size.
Where to EAT in Pittsburgh:
The Vandal, a trendy locally owned restaurant in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Locally sourced, farm to table seasonal cuisine and is BYOB.
Gluten Free Goat, A neighborhood cafe in Garfield. Gluten Free fare, fresh bread, pastries, breakfast & lunch options plus new dinner menu.
Legume Bistro, Located in the Oakland neighborhood. Ingredient focused restaurant with the freshest seafood and meats sourced locally from Western, PA.
The Porch, Located on the University of Pittsburgh campus, lively atmosphere, seasonal menu, casual cafeteria style eatery.
Apteka, Contemporary restaurant known for its vegan Eastern European Fare. Favorite dishes include vegan pierogis and potato pancakes!
FL.2, On the second floor of the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Modern American cuisine with a huge breakfast menu. Elegant space, carefully created dishes using the finest ingredients.
Primanti Bros, Iconic Pittsburgh Sandwich shop, huge portions. A must try for any visitor to Pittsburgh.
Things To Do in Pittsburgh:
Ride The Duquesne Incline From Mount Washington ride the century old cable car opened in 1877. Visit the museum, check out the gift shop and the views are amazing.
Visit The Love Pittsburgh Shop : Located on Mount Washington the store showcases local makers, artists, and craftsmen. Walk out with unique one of kind gifts. Owned and run by women entrepreneurs.
Peace, Love and Zen Spa: Visit this popular spa in the East Liberty neighborhood offering a variety of services. Our favorite was the ultra relaxing and healing Himalayan Salt Cave.
Walk The Burgh Tours: Walk through Pittsburgh with knowledgable, friendly and experienced tour guides. See the sights and learn the history.
Other sites to visit: Market Square, Point State Park, The Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory Museum, National Aviary, Heinz History Center
The Mia Wagner salon is located on an exclusive block at 15 west 55th street occupying the second floor of the Domenico Vacca retail store and club. Husband and Wife team Gary and Kelly Wagner, who hail from careers at Frederic Fekkai, are known for their expertise in color, balayage, and styling.
Colorist Joseph Velez did a single process on me as well as lighter hilites and balayage to freshen my look and get my hair ready for summer. He followed up with a deep conditioning treatment and a terrific blowout.
The salon is full service with hair, facial, waxing, and nail services as well as a traditional barber shop located on the other side of the salon.
Mia Wagner Salon 15 west 55th street New York, NY 10019 (212) 651-0312
The Taste of The Upper West Side is a 2 night affair starting with “Summer In The City” on Friday night. Several restaurants made their Taste of UWS debut with tastings from Fish on The Fly, Friedman’s Restaurant, Melba’s Restaurant, Big Gay Ice Cream, Miznon, Mokum, Mojo Desserts, Solomon & Kuff and Tacombi Upper West Side. Event favorites such as 5 Napkin Burger, Shake Shack, Bodrum, Gabriela’s Restaurant & Kitchen, Playa Betty’s, Olma Restaurant & Bar, Sarabeth’s and much more offered their popular dishes and guests were treated to signature cocktails, beers, wines, and desserts.
The main event is Saturday Night’s “Best of The West”. The event began with an hour long VIP hour for guests to sample the elevated cuisine in a quieter more exclusive environment. Some of the restaurants present were Elea, Tavern on The Green, Lincoln Center Kitchen, RedFarm, Calle Ocho, The Mermaid Inn, Shake Shack, Boulevard Seafood Company, Burke & Wills, Carmine’s, Magnolia Bakery, Orwashers Bakery, and Insomnia Cookies. There was a dedicated mixology section sponsored by Park West Village Apartments, where one of a kind craft cocktails were created by 67 Orange Street, Da Capo, Manhattan Cricket Club, Maison Pickle, Nobody Told Me Cocktail Club, Tiki Chick, and Tito’s Vodka.
Project Orange Music provided the musical entertainment and had guests dancing to their tunes, much needed to burn off all that yummy
Shun Lee West is the sister restaurant to the original and very popular Shun Lee Palace on the upper east side. Across the street from Lincoln Center the pre-theatre crowd can get their food and drink on with authentic chinese cuisine in an elegant setting.
We dined on some classic favorites and specialties including their famous general Tso’s chicken, Crispy Whole Sea Bass, Grand Marnier Prawns, Fried Rice and Bok Choy. We paired our meal with a classic Mai- Tai, made with premium rums.
Shun Lee West is very family friendly and a go to for a special dining experience on the upper west side. The eatery is pricey but the portions are large and can be shared.
Shun Lee West 43 west 65th street New York, NY 10023 (212) 595-8895
Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Waters Edge Villas Gros Islet, St. Lucia #BayGardensBeachResort @baygardensbeachresort
Located on Réduit Beach, an expansive white sand beach that is adjacent to Splash Island Water Park, which is complimentary for hotel guests, Bay Gardens Beach Resort is a kid friendly resort that caters to families with spacious guest rooms, a lagoon shaped pool and a kids club. The resort is close to Rodney Bay, which offers a multitude of dining and entertainment options.
The guest rooms and suites are spacious with modern French caribbean decor, resort, pool or ocean views and offer free wifi, mini fridges and tv’s with dvd players.
The resort offers an all-inclusive package for those who want to be cash and hassle free or a European plan for those who want to explore the area and experience the local dining scene. The Hi-Tide Restaurant and Seagrapes Beach Bar offer local and regional delicacies as well as cocktails, a wine list and local beers.
Daily activities include non-motorized water sports, access to the waterpark, motorized waterspouts for a fee and the La Mer spa which offers massages, facials, and much much more.
For the ultimate luxury experience on Rodney Bay Marina, the newest addition to the Bay Garden’s Resort’s portfolio are the Waters Edge Villas these 2 ultra chic four thousand square foot villas feature 4 bedrooms each, living rooms on each floor, private pools overlooking rodney bay marina, Alexa Villa concierge service, exchange privileges between all four Bay Gardens properties, complimentary water park access, unlimited non-motorized water sports, shuttle service, and free wifi.
The villas can be booked for private events and weddings for a truly special experience in beautiful St. Lucia.
Getting to St. Lucia has never been easier with daily service from JFK to Hewanorra International Airport, about an hour and 20 minute drive to the resort. JetBlue has been a long time favorite ours for travel everywhere, especially in the Caribbean because of their convenient schedules, free entertainment, snacks, and wifi when in the coverage area.
Sushi Sushi is located in the heart of the village near Washington Square Park and NYU. A casual eatery with a focus on delivering the freshest seafood, hand selecting premium cuts of Salmon, Tuna, Yellowtail, Eel, Unagi, Striped Bass and much more.
The menu focuses heavily on its sushi roll choices. There are the traditional salmon avocados and spicy tuna rolls, but the signature rolls is what it is all about.
A couple of our favorites and highly recommended are the aptly named Sushi Sushi Roll, spicy crab, avocado topped with salmon, fluke/striped bass, with mango miso sauce and The Spicy Delight Roll, spicy tuna, avocado topped with spicy salmon and tobiko, served with spicy sushi sushi sauce
Dessert sushi is normally not a thing but Sushi Sushi has created some of the most unique and delicious sushi desserts possible. The PB& J roll, peanut butter and jelly on white bread, crust cut off rolled up into a roll. The Banana Nutella with strawberries is also a must try.
Sushi Sushi: 126 Macdougal Street New York, NY 10012 (212) 477-4000
Elysian Fields Cafe is perfectly situated in the heart of Columbia University at 1207 Amsterdam Avenue, between 119th and 120th street. The decor is reminiscent of a comfy country home that will certainly be a warm welcome for students, university staff, visiting parents and locals alike.
Owned by Georgia Dumas and Stavros Aktipis, who have a rich history of owning and running restaurants both in Greece and in the try-state area, they are bringing high quality fresh greek cuisine to the upper west side.
The menu focuses strongly on mezedes, sharing plates. This is a perfect way try several options both hot and cold with your dining partners.
We went for the traditional Tzatziki with pita, followed by the classic greek salad, large portion and can easily be shared with a few. The Salmon Tartare was very fresh and the grilled gulf shrimp “Garides Psites” were buttery and perfect.
For the main course we chose the Faroe Island Salmon served with lemon potatoes, my favorite greek side dish. My dining partner chose the chicken souvlaki platter served with veggies, pita bread and tzatziki.
We paired our meal with greek beers and wines, large choice of alcoholic beverages available as well as a lovely tea selection.
Elysian Fields Cafe 1207 Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY
Tuscany Steakhouse: Midtown’s Newest Steakhouse delivers Prime Aged Steaks & Italian Cuisine @TuscanySteakhouse #TuscanySteakhouse
Opened just over a year ago, Tuscany Steakhouse, formerly known as Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse, has redecorated and rebranded itself. Arched brick walls, elegant tables and a cozy bar provide a premium dining experience.
The seafood possibilities are endless at Tuscany with the freshest seafood served. We opted for the lobster cocktail, jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab meat cocktail and baked clams oreganata.
Steaks at Tuscany are aged in-house to deliver maximum flavor. We chose to try the Sirloin and the Rib-eye, both simply seasoned and perfectly prepared. A favorite amongst diners is the Porterhouse, which is prepared for 2 people. There are also quite a few Italian specialties including chicken and veal parmesan. The lamb chops, as witnessed by our dining neighbors were a good portion size and juicy. We chose the creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach as our side dishes.
Another guest favorite and ours is the linguine seafood. Filled with shrimp, lobster, clams and calamari served on a bed of linguini in a spicy marinara sauce.
Dessert was a light creamy tiramisu with homemade whip cream and a very indulgent hot fudge sundae. The meal was paired with a lovely and varied wine menu and friendly warm service.
Tuscany Steakhouse 117 west 58th street New York, NY (212) 757-8630 tuscanysteakhouse.com
Russian Samovar: Authentic Russian Cuisine in the heart of The Theatre District #RussianSamovar @RussianSamovar
For over 30 years Russian Samovar has been a celebrity hangout for drinks, authentic russian food, and music in the theatre district. Founded in 1986 by Roman Kaplan and later joined by ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and nobel award winning poet Joseph Brodsky.
The decor has remained the same as when it was Jilly’s Canteen, owned by a pal of Frank Sinatra Jilly Rizzo. The red banquettes remain as well as the bar and Baryshnikov’s own baby grand piano which is used daily by performers and guests.
The cuisine is authentic Russian with lots of caviar options. We started with the fish platter served with blini or potatoes, followed by Siberian Pelmeni (Dumplings) served with sour cream on the side.
For the main course I chose the favorite dish of the house, Chicken Kiev. The chicken was tender and buttery served with creamy mashed potatoes. My guest chose the most classic dish of all Beef Stroganoff, lean tenderloin, sautéed mushrooms in a mushroom cream sauce, served with egg noodles.
One of my favorite Russian desserts, me being of Russian decent is the Napolean. A light and flaky pastry cake with bavarian vanilla cream filling. We recommend this dessert to top of the meal!
There is a wide selection of specialty cocktails, lots of them are vodka based, as expected as well as a large selection of infused vodkas to sample.
Every monday evening there is a live show, performances vary, ours was in Russian so check ahead of time to choose a performance you prefer. There is a three course pre-fix menu ($45), tax and tip not included as well as an a la carte menu.
Little Italy used to be one of our favorite parts of NYC to find classic Italian food ranging from casual to fancy. These days Chinatown has slowly taken over the neighborhood with only a sliver of eateries left. Thankfully, Forlini’s on Baxter street remains as a holdout with old school decor, vibe, and authenticity. Run by the Forlini family for over 75 years Forlini’s got a jolt in popularity thanks to a NY times article and a pre-met Gala soiree attended by A-list guests with fashionistas, models and influencer types.
These days the crowd is a mixed one with loyal customers who have been coming since the beginning, with their kids and grand kids in tow. During the day the proximity to the courthouse brings in judges, lawyers and other legal types. A demand for private parties means a young trendy crowd looking forward to seeing and documenting a piece of old New York that is fleeting.
The food is fresh and largely homemade. The pastas are made in-house as is the ricotta cheescake. We had the Forlini’s salad, which is large enough for a few people followed by a pasta combo of Gnocchi al Pesto and Panserolli Piacentina. The main course was the Stuffed Filet of Sole filled with shrimp and crab. The dessert was a creamy homemade ricotta cheesecake.
Forlini’s 93 Baxter Street New York, NY 10013 (212) 349-6779 forlinisnyc.com
Beverly Hills based celebrity hairstylist and colorist Linet K. is best known for her highly customized hair color and balayage along with cuts, extensions and styling skills. A few weeks ago she came to New York for a few days so I jumped at the opportunity to visit Linet and try her skills for myself. She updated my winter hair with lighter tones and added some natural sun kissed highlights and balayage to get my hair spring ready. Now if only the weather would cooperate!
Linet has become a favorite amongst the country’s top modeling agencies, television and film celebrities. She is versatile, talented, and also very sweet! From the very first visit clients feel comfortable and at home and know that their hair is in good hands. Her work takes her from Beverly Hills to New York, Miami, and San Francisco.
To follow Linet and see her upcoming schedule and projects visit hairbylinet.com and follow her on instagram @balayagebylinet
Restaurants in NYC come and go, especially in the last few years on the Upper East Side. TBar Steak & Lounge has been around for over a decade and on a frigid monday night in January the crowd was there, a well dressed refined crowd dining on a well curated menu composed of fresh seafood and meat dishes.
The grill menu features a prime age bone in Rib Eye, an Aged Strip Steak and the 40oz Black Angus Porterhouse for 2. The Rib Eye was cooked a perfect medium rare and we paired it with buttery mashed potatoes. The chilean sea bass was light and flaky and is a good choose when looking for a lighter option.
For lunch or a lighter meal the salads are portioned generously and can be topped off with chicken, shrimp or salmon.
Dessert is very special at Tbar. Served in glass bowls they can be shared with up to four people. The strawberry sundae was our favorite, shortcake, meringue, brandy and cream . It is not too heavy and rich yet is satisfies your sweet tooth.
TBar Steak & Lounge 1278 3rd Avenue New York, NY 10021 (212) 772-0404 tbarnyc.com
Moon Palace Jamaica is a luxury all-inclusive family resort located 90 minutes away from Montego Bay airport. With nonstop and direct flights from many US cities the easy to get to vacation destination makes a visit of any length possible.
Located on a white sandy beach, in the heart of Ocho Rios, the property has over 700 rooms ranging from deluxe resort view rooms to oceanfront palatial Presidential Suites with private pools.
There are 4 pools on the property with covered loungers and cabana beds. One of the pools has a waterslide, basketball nets and is deemed the activities and kids pool. The other pools are quieter with friendly bar service all day long. Our server remembered our favorite cocktails from day 1!
Kayaks, hobie cats, and water bikes are included for fun daytime activities and with a $1500 resort credit per 7 night stay guests can enjoy a sunset cruise, snorkeling excursion, swimming with the dolphins, a spa service, a romantic dinner on the beach, or an excursion to neighboring Dunn’s River Falls.
The dining is varied with so many options available. Momo serves up fresh sushi and traditional hibachi with entertainment during dinner. La Gondola serves contemporary Italian cuisine in a romantic setting. Pier 8 is an oceanfront restaurant serving fresh seafood daily with catch of the day specials. Buccaneers Reef is a casual buffet restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with themed evenings. Our favorite spot for lunch daily was the Jerk Chicken bar. Located poolside and open daily from 1230 to 430, the menu was simple, fresh jerk chicken smothered in a spicy jerk sauce served with corn on the cob. We literally ate there 5 out of the 6 days we were there, highly recommended! There is also The Boulangerie, that is open 24/7 near the lobby serving sandwiches, desserts, coffees and more and of course room service.
There is nightly entertainment and we were lucky enough to see the Island famous Silverbirds Steel Orchestra, who have been performing at the finest resorts all over Jamaica for years. An hour of energy filled dancing and drum playing to the hottest tunes out now.
No vacation is complete without a visit to the spa, at least in our opinion. The AWE Spa is Jamaica’s largest spa with 23 treatment rooms. The service begins with a water journey that includes hydrotherapy pools, a cold plunge pool, a warm pool with jet massage and a steam room and sauna. Guests are advised to arrive an hour before their scheduled spa treatment to enjoy this complimentary, with a spa service, experience. There are many massage, facials, and body treatments available. We chose a deep tissue massage, as stressed out New Yorkers, this was much needed before our return to the concrete jungle. Our technician had super strong hands and was very experienced. Spa day was very much enjoyed.
To book your stay visit Moon Palace Jamaica or call 1-800- 987- 0984
Getting to Jamaica has never been easier with our favorite airline. JetBlue has several nonstop flights from the New York area with convenient connections from cities nationwide. Complimentary snacks & beverages including Dunkin Donuts coffee plus complimentary entertainment at every seat with free movies, shows, music and live TV when in coverage zones. WIFI is always free on Jetblue.
Zavo, A Chic Mediterranean Restaurant On The Upper East Side is more than just dinner! #ZavoNYC @ZavoNYC
There are a million eateries in NYC so when looking for a memorable evening or special occasion we look for something that stands out. Zavo on the upper east side does just that. Offering fine Mediterranean fare and cocktails with warm friendly service, Saturday night showtime with a pre-fixe dinner menu is what makes Zavo a must visit.
The rotating show schedule includes Venetian Mystery Night and 1000 Nights, however the newest show premiering January 17th, is titled “Middle East meets Venice”, a mixture of both shows. Buy tickets here: Showtime 1/17. The evening includes a three course meal see ( menu ) and the show, beverages, tips, and tax not included. The menu includes classic favorites prepared with attention and detail including Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Tuna Tartare, Crispy Calamari, Black Sea Bass Fillet, Filet Mignon and to top off the meal Creme Brûlée and Apple Pistachio.
The ambience is upscale with well dressed patrons looking to have a good time and celebrate. Zavo is perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, or a just fun night with friends. Come checkout out this new show experience on January 17th.
Zavo is located at 1011 third ave between 60th and 61st street. New York, NY (212) 753-5500 www.zavonyc.com