Lens on May 2018

Hi friends! Here’s the first of hopefully many installments of my Monthly Lens series, where I provide a roundup of a few fun things I’ve been up to the past month.

In addition to the below, I was also in Seattle for a week, and I’ll write about that trip in a separate post!

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April showers bring May flowers… in Central Park

Restaurants

Part of the New York City life for me is definitely eating out and trying new cuisines. For me, eating at a restaurant, 99% of the time, is a way for me to socialize with a friend or family member when it’s too complicated to get to each other’s apartment. I usually bring my own food to work so most meals I eat out are on weekends or after work for dinner. I love the experience and love to eat!

This month, I saw some family and some friends, including one who was visiting from out of town before going abroad so we did a lot of restaurant-ing while she was in town. Seems the theme this month was: Mexican, Asian and cafes.

Dig Inn (Upper East Side, and there are multiple locations in the city) I did another attempt at 30 Days of No Added Sugar which ended early May (I bailed out around day 25), and Dig Inn was a restaurant savior! The staff there are always so helpful and able to answer my questions about how things are prepared.

Beyoglu (Upper East Side) – This Mediterranean place on the Upper East Side is a real gem. With lovely decorated tables on the first floor and sidewalk seats outside, in addition to a lovely upper level, this restaurant offers delicious food, especially their bread which is AMAZING.

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Art on the wall in the Handpulled Noodle

The Handpulled Noodle (West Harlem) – a cute joint with a few seats where you can choose some noodles. Not too many vegetarian friendly options, but I did gorge on some oily egg and chive dumplings.

The Chipped Cup (West Harlem) – one of my favorite local spots in Harlem. I used to live close by but rarely took advantage. They have an outdoor patio that is just adorable and they play fun music.

Taqueria San Pedro (West Harlem) – I totally was doing a West Harlem food crawl one weekend. This place was very good, I ordered what ended up being a MASSIVE burrito which I saved half for lunch the next day.

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Drinks at Spice

Spice (Upper West Side) – They claim to be the best Thai restaurant in NYC. I can’t say that definitively, but they are pretty good. I had a tasty happy hour cocktail and a huge plate of fried rice, which I did not save for the following day.

Pho Vietnam (Lower East Side) – While conveniently located near the B and D trains, this place was a bit underwhelming. The service was great, but I didn’t like what I ordered (shrimp spring roll) and wouldn’t go back to try something else.

Towne Crier Cafe (Beacon) – what was a promising Mother’s Day Brunch ended up being an hours long waiting game for our food. While the musicians performing live during the brunch were quite talented, the sound level was a bit too loud to hear the people at my table. I ordered an underwhelming huevos rancheros, but was so hungry by the time it arrived that I ate everything. I had been there before during an evening concert and had a much better experience then. I think they were a bit understaffed on this particular holiday.

Ella’s Bellas (Beacon) – this gluten-free bakery also offers some vegan treats, an assortment of coffees and loose leaf teas. I was happily surprised how delicious their baked goods were, especially the muffins! Even after my meal at Towne Crier I could easily eat any treat from this bakery.

Cultural Sites and Parks

Besides eating, I love to check out free/cheap cultural places in New York City, including its many parks. There are so many parks besides Central Park (while I do spend plenty of time there) so I’ll be giving a quick run-down of some other fun places.

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The Met Rooftop

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – my lovely mother purchased a Met Membership for me after reading my Holiday Gift Guide (thanks mom!) so my husband and I often pop by there to check out one gallery or to go up to the rooftop where there’s some great people watching. This has been and most likely will always be my favorite museum. There’s always something new to see, and though I’ve been there many times I haven’t seen it all.

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Sleepy bear at the Central Park Zoo

Central Park Zoo – I popped in here during a lunch break to get away from my desk and see some non-natives! This bear was taking a nap.

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Surprisingly… Central Park! This is part of a new natural area.

Central Park – this new natural area just north of the zoo made me feel for a minute that I was in some secluded field hours north of the city. I could hear the wind rustling through the tall grasses. The Central Park Conservancy also recently opened the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, which is on my to-do list.

Stuyvesant Square – two almost mirror image parks split in half by second avenue have plenty of benches to sit. According to the Parks’ website, the park was sold to the City of New York for $5 in 1836. A good deal if you ask me.

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Benches in Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square – not too far from Stuyvesant Square is Tompkins Square Park, which is much more lively with some playgrounds, passive recreation areas, and sports courts.

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Flowers at Abingdon Square Park

Abingdon Square – this little triangular park in Greenwich Village mostly consists of benches but also has a monument to those who served in World War I. There were also some beautiful flowers in the park when I visited.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park – this long park in the Lower East Side has plenty of different sports courts and also the M’Finda Kalunga Garden which according to its website has been around since 1982.

Books

A goal this year was to read more than last year’s 30 some-odd books. I’m at 23 as of today so I should be able to reach my goal. Last month I finished 4 books (plus a bonus)!

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Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue – this book I technically finished the last day in April, but I loved it SO much I wanted to review it here. It was one of the books considered for the One Book NY campaign, and I decided to read ALL five of them, because, why not. I just loved the characters, their struggles felt so real, and when it was over I wished there was a sequel! I laughed, cried, and struggled along with the characters. I felt like I was there in their living rooms watching the drama unfold.

Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan – continuing on my One Book NY streak, I read the winning book, Egan’s novel of a female diver in the Brooklyn Navy Yards during World War 2. While I enjoyed getting a glimpse of NYC’s past, I didn’t think the characters nor some of the relationships were especially believable, and the ending was a little underwhelming. I’ve heard her other books may be better so I might try another of hers in the future.

When I Was Puerto Rican, Esmerelda Santiago – I had read this book many years ago, but reading it again now, especially having been to Puerto Rico and also spending a lot of time in the Caribbean I definitely got more out of it. The author’s memoir of her rough upbringing was really heartbreaking, but her success at the end was inspiring. It is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in the immigrant experience in NYC, although the bulk of the book takes place in Puerto Rico.

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler – this book was chosen for one of my two book clubs. I really do my best to read all the books for both, as they get me out of my reading comfort zone. I do not often read crime novels so this was definitely a different kind of book. It was a quick read and kind of fun, and I read the book in this ’30s noir voice in my head.

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Cocktails Across America at Barnes & Noble

Cocktails Across America – this book was just released this week and is super fun. It’s a cocktail recipe book, told through the lens of vintage postcards, and also details the history of each cocktail. It’s really beautiful, and a bonus of some tear-out postcards in the back!

Thanks for reading about my month – stay tuned for the next installment!

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

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