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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Things I Learned About New York City

As my first summer back home in NYC comes to a close, I would like to share some of the things I have learned about cooking, eating, surviving city life, and public transportation:
  1. Never leave the apartment without CCGK. Which stands for Cash, Metro Card (which I still refer to as my bus pass), Four Pairs of Glasses (long story), and the Keys to a variety of apartments I have access to. I also carry a bottle of water, umbrella, cotton bandana, bandaids, phone and charger (I seem to only get one hour per charge) and lipstick (I'm trying to be fancy).
  2. The official MTA app is the bomb, and works in all stations and on the train so I always know where I am. Between that, and the Google lady in my phone who tells me when to turn and creates my travel routes, I am now invincible.
  3. The East Village is still the best place to eat cheap and get great food. Thai, Japanese, Korean, weird steamed buns with hipster filling, bubble tea, dingy bars, Pommes Frites with a choice of 30 sauces, and Ukrainian volume eating, East Village has it all!
  4. Brooklyn is the coolest borough ever. Not just WillyB, which is now like a caricature of its own self-centered, hipster self. I have now discovered and fallen in love with Prospect park, Park Slope and even Bushwick. Prospect Park is the park of the people and is enjoyed by all the kids in the play fountains, the folks strolling, riders on horseback, runners, bikers, wedding guests, and squirrels. The free and diverse Celebrate Brooklyn Festival (which just ended) was amazing and I went to most of the concerts. I saw Ornette Coleman, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Nickel Creek, to name a few.
  5. In terms of coins, New Yorkers have no idea what to do with them. Everyone I know has overflowing full jars of coinage (are all my friends hoarders?), taking up valuable floor space. I think I could start a business lugging the full dusty jars down to a bank and exchanging it for real money.
  6. Shopping locally has never died in the city, but now it’s even better. Every neighborhood has a small farmer’s market and they are not expensive. The other day I bought beautiful beets, radishes, and sunflowers from a delightful farm stand set up in front of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. There is a small urban farm in Brooklyn run by teenagers and they were at the stand proudly selling their harvest.
  7. Though I occasionally envision myself in fab high heel shoes and a huge designer handbag frolicking in a Sex in the City remake set in the meatpacking district, in reality, there is no reason to ever wear anything other then Nikes and carry a backpack.
  8. I am all about “free” and this summer I have discovered some great new spots. Best new place to wander is without a doubt is the High Line. Fills my need for two of my favorite things: 1) fantastic gardens full of flowers, grasses, shade trees, and even a water feature to cool your toes, and 2) people watching. The other day I watched a photo shoot with what I can only describe as a hooker taking head shots (pun intended).
  9. Cooking at sea level is a joy. All recipes work, cakes rise properly, cookies are not flat, rice and beans cook with ease, and when you go to a restaurant your food comes out and stays hot (which is how I burnt my mouth twice).
  10. Ice coffee is a NYC thing. Occasionally I even indulge. The secret to good ice coffee is don’t add hot coffee to ice, start with cold coffee. I know that seems obvious, but when I tried to get ice coffee in the Southwest it was always week and tepid. Here’s an old Martha Stewart tip: save your extra coffee or make an extra pot and then make ice cubes out of it so no dilution occurs. You are drinking it for a reason!
And finally, even though NYC is a tough place to live, there is no other place like it. The people are fascinating, the bagels are amazing, there really is nothing you can’t get or go to here, I make new discoveries ever day, and I could not have moved here without the help of my friends.

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