Brooklyn

Manhattan Special / Espresso Soda Float

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A few weeks ago while on my way home from Manhattan, I texted Jim and asked him if he wanted me to pick him up anything before I came home.

His response: "Swing by Anthony and Son's and get me a Manhattan Special".

I had no clue what the hell is a Manhattan Special was.  I thought it was a sandwich.

Ends up being it's this really amazing espresso soda carried at the Italian grocers in our neighborhood.  It's actually made and bottled in a small factory in our very neighborhood, only a few short blocks away from our apartment.

Jim explained this all to me and I stopped quick to pick some up for him.  Then I proceeded to drink half the bottle when I got home, it was so tasty!  It also was so caffeinated, it's made with real espresso after all.

"Oh my god, you know what this needs?!" my caffeinated self told him while buzzing around the apartment, finishing off the bottle.  "It totally needs ice cream!  This would make the best float ever!"

So the next time I picked up some Manhattan Special I also picked up a tub of my favorite vegan vanilla ice cream and made myself a float.  Easiest recipe ever.

First, buy yo'self some Manhattan Special.

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Then in a large glass, scoop two to three scoops of your favorite vanilla or chocolate ice cream.  Vegan or non-vegan ice creams all work here folks.  Then top off with the Manhattan Special.

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Just like a traditional float, you'll have to add the soda little by little to avoid it from spilling over.

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Once the glass if full and the ice cream has floated to the top, insert your straw, grab a spoon and enjoy!

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Have you ever had a Manhattan Special?

How to Impress Your Vegan Valentine

How to Impress Your Vegan Valentine Valentine's Day is right around the corner. This year don't wait until the last minute to plan something special for your vegan sweetie. If you want to impress your vegan valentine, here's some of my top picks on vegan friendly romantic date and gift ideas in the New York City area.

Date Ideas

Pure Food and Wine

Pure Food and Wine Say you don't like raw food? Pure Food & Wine will impress die-hard carnivores as well as vegans like me who usually like their food cooked. With their stellar cuisine, extensive wine list and candle-lit ambiance, it's the perfect location to bring your valentine for a romantic dinner out.

Candle 79

Candle 79Photo: Mimi Giboin A vegan fine dining establishment in the Upper East Side, Candle 79's creative dishes and numerous wine choices make this spot a must visit for a date night, valentine's day or any day.

Blossom

Blossom NYC

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC, you can't go wrong with Blossom. With four locations ranging from the West Village all the way up to the Upper East Side, not only is the food to die for, the ambiance is quiet and candle lit. The Chelsea location is in the most romantic turn-of the century building, and if you reserve your table in advance you may have a chance to get one of their private, blocked off tables for two in their window. I can't think of a more romantic way to spend the evening than watching over the wintry NYC street scene while enjoying a romantic meal with your valentine.

Gift and Treat Ideas

Sweet & Sara Sweet & Sara

Marshmallows are not very vegan friendly, which makes me sad. Luckily Sweet & Sara, based in Long Island City, figured out how to veganize them and they make a variety of marshmallow based treats, from s'mores to rice crispy treats! You can find them in various stores throughout the city, or can order them direct from their website.

Dunwell Donuts

Dunwell Donuts

Dunwell Donuts has some of the best donuts in the city, nevermind vegan donuts. With fancy pants flavors like Chai Tea and Creme Brule, these sweet treats will bring a smile to your valentine's face, especially if you get him or her a dozen.

Babycakes

Babycakes Bakery Photo by Rachel Heller

Does your vegan valentine have any food allergies? If so, thanks to Babycakes that's no excuse why they shouldn't be allowed to have a sweet valentine's day treat! Babycakes Bakery on the Lower East Side offers gluten, dairy, egg and refined sugar-free cupcakes, cookies, donuts and even a Valentine's Day Candy Gram. Oh, and their icing is to die for!

Vaute Couture Apparel and Accessories

Vaute Couture

Thinking of getting your vegan valentine some jewelry? Vaute Couture in Williamsburg offers necklaces, sunglasses, and tees fit for the animal activist in your life. This V Necklace is currently at the top of my valentine's day wish list. Whatever you decide to do for your vegan valentine this year, don't forget... kisses are free! Free Kisses Pit Bull On another note, congratulations to Terry for winning the Anjolee Gemstone Pendant Giveaway!

Martin Scorsese is a Fran Lebowitz Fan and So am I

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On January 19th, Jim and I headed over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for one of the most unique experiences I've participated in as of recent.  We were there to see Martin Scorsese interview Fran Lebowitz.
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Unless you're living under a rock, I think most people around the world nowadays knows who Marty Scorsese is.  Believe it or not, Marty wasn't the draw at this event, it was Fran.  If you've never heard of Fran Lebowitz and you are from New York, you are in for a treat.  I'll leave summing up who she is to this on-point description from Wikipedia.
"Frances Ann "Fran" Lebowitz is an American author and public speaker. Lebowitz is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life as filtered through her New York City sensibilities."
She's mostly known for her public speaking skills, and she is absolutely hilarious.  If you are from New York City and want a good chuckle, try searching YouTube for any of her talks regarding NYU or Michael Bloomburg.  She's so on point you'll be falling out of your chair crying. P1050816.jpg P1050817.jpg There was no better person to interview her for the event than Scorsese, considering the two of them have been friends for so long they can't even remember how they met.  In response to the question of how they met during the Q&A, the both of them, stumped, assumed they must have met at a party a long time ago. Scorsese has also featured Fran in his films, including the HBO Documentary about her called Public Speaking, and most recently the Wolf of Wall Street where she played the judge.  Funny enough, she also had a recurring role on Law & Order as Judge Janice Goldberg, though she doesn't describe herself as an actor. Just listening to her discuss her experience on filming Wolf of Wall Street was one of my favorite parts of the evening.  For example, she described her first encounter with Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene they were shooting, and thought he was overrated because he kept missing his lines (per her cue card) and they kept having to re-shoot.  Ends up being his lines were noted as being an overdubbed narrative, so she was missing her lines and that's why they had to keep re-shooting.  I'm not doing the story any justice, the way she told it was just too funny. The discussion didn't just include the movie, but subjects as varied from e-cigarettes to New York City's new mayor, Bill De Blasio.  I haven't laughed this hard in a long time! In Conversation with Fran Lebovitz.jpg Even though I was pretty exhausted due to catching a flight home earlier that day from a work trip, I'm really glad Jim and I made the time to attend.  I'm going to try to make it a point to attend more events like this in the upcoming year.  It sure beats watching TV! Oh, and I have to mention the Peter Jay Sharp building where this event was held had one of the most beautiful theaters I had seen in quite some time.  I mean, look at the detail on the ceiling!  Gorgeous.

A Day at Brooklyn Brewery

  Brooklyn Brewery-15.jpg Earlier this fall when Rebecca was in town to visit, her sister came to Brooklyn all the way from Boston to spend the day with us in Williamsburg.  We spent part of the morning shopping, but by the afternoon we were ready to grab a few drinks and catch up. Everyone wanted to grab a beer, and even though it's in my neighborhood I had never been to Brooklyn Brewery, so we decided to head there.  It ended up being a really fun afternoon.  You not only get to sample all their beers, but they also run tours every hour so you can see how the beers are made. Brooklyn Brewery-1.jpg Brooklyn Brewery-11.jpg Brooklyn Brewery-12.jpg Brooklyn Brewery-10.jpg After our tour, we were ready to drink!  While Brooklyn Brewery is vegan friendly, if you go there know not all their beers are vegan.  According to their website:
All of our beers are vegan friendly, with just a few exceptions: Brooklyn Local 2, Brooklyn BAMboozle, our past Brewmaster’s Reserve beers Buzz Bomb and The Concoction, Highline Elevated Wheat, and AMA Bionda, all of which contain honey. Our cask beers are filtered with the vegan-friendly Biofine Clear.
It still leaves plenty of beers to choose from! Brooklyn Brewery-3.jpgBrooklyn Brewery-6.jpg All in all it was totally worth me cheating and having gluten.  The beers were delicious, and totally worth the stop.  Also, though I didn't see any while I was there I hear they are dog friendly.

What to Wear to a Brooklyn Wedding

Sharon and Erik's Wedding WHAT I'M WEARING // DRESS Vintage 80's, thrifted (similar here) // JACKET Gracia, via Lit Boutique in Boston (similar here) // SHOES Olsen Haus (old) // CLUTCH Target // EARRINGS Jewelmint

It's been forever since I've done an outfit post for you guys, so here you go!

This past weekend Jim and I attended our friends Sharon & Erik's wedding.  It was held here in Williamsburg at the swank King & Grove Hotel.  This was a really interesting wedding to dress for, because per the invite it said "Wear What You'd Like" and we knew it was going to be a mix of hipsters, fashion industry peeps (the Groom owns a successful street wear label) and other pretty casual folks.

Jim and I took an edgier approach.  Jim got my vote for best dressed dude, pairing a really awesome graphic tee with his old wedding tux and cool sneakers.

I scored this awesome vintage 80's denim bodycon dress while thrifting the weekend before and the second I saw it knew it was perfect to wear to this wedding.  My faux leather Gracia jacket Jim got me as a gift on our recent visit to Boston is almost too perfect with it, considering the banding on the jacket complimented the banding of the dress.

I knew I was going to be dancing the night away, and my Olsen Haus cage heels are some of the most comfortable heels I own, and they worked perfect!  Added the edge I was looking for with this outfit, while allowing me to dance and run around Williamsburg for hours after the wedding.

Sharon and Erik's Wedding Sharon and Erik's Wedding

Sharon and Erik's Wedding

This wedding was so much fun, and it was all captured best in the reception's photo booth!  Me, the bride Sharon and our friend Glenna (who you may remember from my Wanderlust trip) are in the first two strips.  I love the middle one where we're imitating yoga poses, very appropriate considering our recent adventure.  The last one features me, Jim, Glenna and her husband Tony livin' it up!

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What did you wear to the last wedding you attended?

Chicago Meets Brooklyn

The weekend before last not only was it absolutely gorgeous outside, but my college BFF Bex came to visit us in Brooklyn all the way from Chicago! Last year I made the trip out to see her, and this year, both her as well as her sister came out to the better borough to see what it's all about. With the exception of a day trip into Manhattan to see the Met, we spent the entire time in my neighborhood in Williamsburg.  There's so much to do!  One thing I learned is I seriously need to get out more. Here's some of my favorite snaps from Bex's visit.

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Us on the roof at the Met.

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Bex giving NYC style bagels a giant thumbs up!

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Exploring the Met.

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Bex being silly (per usual).

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Grabbing sushi and cocktails at Bozu.

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Just part of my haul while thrifting.

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I've lived in Williamsburg for over 8 years and had never, ever been to Brooklyn Brewery.  No better time than now!  I made an exception for gluten obviously.

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Learning about beerz.

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Farewell brunch including vegan "Eggs" Benedict at Champs.

How to Style Curly Hair

Since my big chop back in 2009, I've loved wearing my hair curly. I get a lot of questions from readers on what products I use and how I style them, so here's a quick tutorial post I've done in conjunction with my stylist, Casey, at Adelaide Salon in Brooklyn on how to style your curls. This process works no matter the length of your hair, the key is being sure to have a good haircut. If you haven't done so already, find a stylist who specializes in curly hair. Curls benefit from being cut while dry, and there's a specific method to "carving" the curls together so the corkscrews interlock. A specialist will know how to do this for you and give you amazing, low-maintenance curls. It all starts with washing your hair.  I use DevaCurl No-Poo, which doesn't suds up and keeps my curls moisturized.  I also only wash my hair max twice a week.  On other days I only condition.  So start off by washing your hair with your favorite vegan, non-sudsing shampoo and rinse it out. How to Style Curly Hair 3 Now comes the styling.  I usually do this while still in the shower, but for demonstration purposes Casey shows you how to do it here.  Using your fingers,  rake your conditioner (I use DevaCurl One Conditioner) through your curls while sopping wet, making sure the curls are defined and "clump" together.  As you can see in these photos, Casey grabs my hair in small sections working the conditioner through it roots to end until she's covered all my hair.  You don't want to comb your hair, finger raking works just fine and makes for nice, fat curls. This is also the time you'll want to part your hair if you wear your hair parted.  In this demo, Casey gave me a side part. How to Style Curly Hair 4 How to Style Curly Hair 5 Next, change your water pressure to low, and rinse the conditioner out.  The low water pressure is imperative, otherwise you'll separate the curls you've just spent so much time forming.  When this is complete, turn the water off and flip your hair over. How to Style Curly Hair 6 Now it's time to apply your curl defining product.  Again, this is done while still in the shower while your hair is sopping wet.  During the summer, I like to use DevaCurl AnGEL, being it's a strong hold gel that prevents my curls from frizzing in the humidity.  I'll often switch to something lighter in the winter when it's not as humid out. How to Style Curly Hair 7 Squirt some product in your hands, rub them together, and then gently scrunch your curls from tips to roots.  It's important to keep your touch gentle, other wise you run the risk of frizzing or separating your curls. How to Style Curly Hair 8 Now it's time to towel dry.  Take either paper towels, an old tee-shirt or a specialty microfiber towel and gently scrunch the curls again from tips to roots.  You still have to keep it gentle. The reason you don't want to use a regular towel to dry your curls is because the texture will disrupt the curl pattern and make your curls frizz.  The key here is not disturbing the curls. How to Style Curly Hair 10 I usually while doing this process at home plop my curls in a microfiber towel while I put on my makeup.  That helps me get some extra moisture out before drying it and cuts down my drying time substantially.  It's not 100% necessary though. You can learn to plop (or plunk) here.  It doesn't work for everyone, it really depends on how your curls are.  Mine luckily are pretty loose and plunking works really well for me. How to Style Curly Hair 12 One your hair is towel dried, flip your hair over. How to Style Curly Hair 13 This step is optional but makes a big difference.  Now using small banana clips, clip your hair at your roots to create some lift.  Curly hair is often so heavy while wet it just dries flat to your head.  By clipping the roots up, when it dries it creates some extra volume. How to Style Curly Hair 17

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Depending on your hair style, now would be the time to blow out your bangs if you have any.  Even though I had grown out my bangs, we decided to blow the front of my hair out during this haircut for a more polished look.  After the front was blown out, Casey put it in a pin-curl while still warm so it would dry with a loose wave. Now that it's summer and it's hot as hades outside, I've been skipping this step and wearing it all curly. How to Style Curly Hair 15 Now it's time to dry your hair.  You have a few options.  First would be a bonnet dryer, like shown at the salon here below.  Nice part about the bonnet dryer is you set it and sit back, relax and read a magazine or something until your hair is fully dry. How to Style Curly Hair 18 How to Style Curly Hair 20

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I wish I had room for a bonnet dryer in my apartment, but I don't.  So I usually use a blow dryer with a diffuser.  This will be essential if you have really long hair, because a bonnet dryer only really gets the top of your head down to your chin dry.  A dryer and diffuser gets the rest.  The diffuser allows you to dry at a higher heat without blowing your hair all around and disturbing the curls. Your third option is good ol' air drying.  Most days, especially during the summer I'll just hit my roots for a few minutes with the dryer to get the lift from the pinning, and then remove them and let it dry the rest of the way naturally.  It's healthier for your hair.  The only downfall for me with this method is my hair takes forever to dry.  Even while in this short bob it still takes over three hours to fully air dry. With a blow dryer and diffuser I can usually do the job in 15 minutes.  This is a huge improvement from my long locks, which took close to 40 to get blown dry and 5-6 hours to air dry.

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Once your hair is about 90% dry, it's time to take your clips out.  Let it air dry the rest of the way, and then flip your head over and "scrunch the crunch" out.  When you flip your head back over, you have beautiful, frizz free bouncy curls. How to Style Curly Hair 21

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How to Style Curly Hair 23 Using this method and drying my hair all the way dry, I'm usually out of the shower, dressed, made up and ready to go in about 45 minutes. I hope this tutorial helps out anyone who was wondering how I style my hair.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know! PHOTOGRAPHY  BY // Joel Stigliano

My Weekend According to Instagram

This past weekend Jim and I enjoyed an extended one, getting to show my college bestie Gina and her boyfriend Mark around town. We covered a lot of ground in three days, and I'm still getting through the few hundred photos I took over the course of the weekend.  Next time I need to learn to stick to one camera and not three! Here's some of my favorites I managed to snap on my iPhone and post to Instagram as we were out in about. Untitled We enjoyed coffee from Caffe Capri EVERY morning.  They seriously have the BEST coffee in Brooklyn // Stopped for brunch at Champs Diner Untitled We did some serious art gawking, especially at MOMA // Spotted this book at Poseman's Books in the Chelsea Market and am convinced I need a vegan version of this Mondrian inspired cake for my upcoming birthday this July Untitled Enjoyed beyond fantastic weather this entire weekend, especially during our visit to the High Line, where I spotted this fantastic mural // There were some new installations along the park that weren't there during my last visit.  This one in particular was stunning, the mirrored glass made the side of the building blend into the sky Are you on Instagram?  Hit me up!  My Instagram handle is @BrooklynBliss.

Three Day Weekend

20130502-200643.jpg After the insane work week I've had, I'm super stoked to have a three day weekend effective immediately. One of my best friends from college is passing through NYC with her boyfriend, so Jim and I get to play host and show them around our amazing city. So far we're keeping our plans pretty casual, but know for sure we'll being doing a museum hop and shopping. Based on the forecast, we should have perfect weather. Have a great weekend!

Gwynnett Street

Gwynnett Street Last Thursday evening, Jim and I participated in Dine Out Williamsburg for Sandy Relief. Gwynnett Street was a participating restaurant, and we've been dying to try it out for a while. What better way to try out a fancy new bistro than a night when 20% of their gross profits are going to provide relief to Sandy victims? Gwynnett Street This meal totally impressed me.  Gwynnett Street is very vegan friendly.  So much so, they always have a vegan appetizer, entrée and dessert on their menu at any given time. Jim started out with their Whiskey Bread, which wasn't vegan but vegetarian.  It came with cultured butter and looked delicious.  I wish it was vegan, it looked so yummy it was torture looking at it. Gwynnett Street For my appetizer I had the winter squash with bell pepper, szechuan pepper and peppercress.  Holy moly this was delicious.  Textures were great.  The squash had a nice bite to it, the herbs were flash fried, and it also had what I believe were pepitas throughout it which gave it additional crunch against the soft vermicelli noodles.  The sauce was delicately sweet and had a hint of citrus.  It was also probably one of the most gorgeously plated vegan dishes I think I've ever had. Gwynnett Street For my entrée, I finally got to try their tofu.  This restaurant like Roberta's was awarded a two star review by the New York Times, and the reviewer raved about their house made tofu. This night it was prepared crusted in pistachio with avocado, celery and celtuce.  The texture was more reminiscent of a pate to me, and it had a great pistachio crust.  Very light and tasty, perfectly paired with the raw avocado, celery and celtuce (which I think is a combination between celery and lettuce?). Gwynnett Street What absolutely made my night is when the waitress told me the chef was going to come up with a specialty vegan dessert for me.  She later came back out with what I believe was a sorbet with poached pears, fall spices (lots of cinnamon), a nut cream sauce, and fresh berries.  This was as delicious and seasonal as it sounds.  Isn't the plating beautiful? Gwynnett Street I was extremely pleased with my meal at Gwynett Street and will for sure be back.  It's now one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. Have you tried the vegan options at Gwynett Street?  What did you think?
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