Photo by Jason Paul Smith
Wow. Boo! Wow. Chicagoans can really howl on Halloween! I’m sure experiencing it as a tourist helped, but last year’s Halsted Halloween Parade was a scary good time. In New York, I would never dream of standing in the cold October night of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade—the crowds, the noise, the fear that at any moment the festivities could spiral into catastrophe.
Halloween can often feel like amateur hour. It is the one night regular folk get to be actors, drag queens or whores—or all three! Hiding behind a costume frees people to express themselves beyond their regular comfort level. Add a few shots, puffs, snorts (or what have you) and your tale can end with soaring fireworks or an explosive burn. Lucky for Matt and me, visiting Chicago last Halloween proved to be a blast.
Our night started as voyeurs along the parade route. After the ample helping of Halloween fluff, we were ready for a little sustenance. One of the two tables actually eating at Firefly, we inhaled one of the best macaroni and cheeses I’ve ever had, as the rest of the packed restaurant enjoyed prancing around, drinking, chatting, and watching the parade from the windows. As we were not in costume, checking out the scantily clad Chippendale boys and sexy Dorothys (who I knew hadn’t eaten all week) while stuffing our faces with burgers and the aforementioned cheesy deliciousness, was especially satisfying.
With full bellies and happy hearts we joined our friend Kevin who, over the next three hours, took it upon himself to show us every bar in Boystown. A blur of alternating martinis, Redbulls, and occasional waters later, we settled into the spinning stupor of our comfy Best Western bed.
We had emerged from Halloween unscathed… yet inexplicably covered in glitter.
New Yorkers are constantly on the go. Why should our food be any different? Food trucks of all varieties continue to expand their customer base by parking their mobile restaurants on the different streets of New York City. From tacos to pizza to dumplings, if you can imagine it, there is probably a truck serving it down the block. But times are tough and IQ likes his sugar, so let’s sweeten our summer with some of the city’s most unique desserts on wheels.
Liege with Ice Cream
First stop, Belgium. Wafels & Dinges brings the Belgian Waffle to our Yankee curbs. Choose the light ‘n crispy Brussels Wafel, or the soft ‘n chewy Liege Wafel, and dress it up with your favorite Dinges (toppings). Go fruity (strawberries, bananas), sugary (dulce de leche, chocolate fudge, maple syrup) or creamy (butter, whipped cream, ice cream). Truck locations are posted on the site, on Twitter @waffletruck or by calling 866.429.7329.
Next, pull up to the bumper for the baby-sized deliciousness of New York’s first mobile, gourmet cupcake shop. When Lev Ekster graduated from law school last year, the job market was…well, pretty sour. But when life gives you lemons…you make a lemon meringue cupcake. Lev assembled a team of bakers, created recipes, and revved the engine of Cupcake Stop, a traveling store of fresh-baked, hand-made cupcakes. Follow the tweets to your sweet treat @cupcakestop.
Our final parker is the brainchild of a classically trained bassoonist with a little soft-serve and a lot of flair. The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was created by Douglas Quint, a graduate of The Manhattan School of Music and The Juiliard School (and presumably a homosexual). The menu combines traditional soft-serve ice cream with imaginative toppings and funky names. Cool your lips with a Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate with dulce de leche and sea salt) or be thankful for the Gobbler (vanilla ice cream with pumpkin butter, crushed graham crackers, whipped cream and craisins). Follow the truck’s location on its site or on Twitter @biggayicecream and top yourself off with some sweet rainbow sprinkles this summer.
(All pictures provided by the vendors)
Hey New Yorkers, are you hungry?
NYC Restaurant Week allows you to sample three-course, prix-fixe meals at some of the city’s most amazing restaurants for $24.07 at lunchtime and $35 at dinner. From now until September 6, pull up a chair at more than 275 New York City restaurants. Go classy (Le Cirque, Cipriani) or sassy (Nobu, Megu), but don’t forget to make a reservation, as the most popular places fill up fast. For a complete list of this summer’s restaurants, click here.
Drink like a bullfighter.
Sip like a flamenco dancer.
May 13-27, 2010 is Rioja Restaurant Week in New York and Chicago. Diners can enjoy a $25 lunch or $35 dinner with a glass of Rioja wine at some of these cities’ greatest restaurants.
The Rioja region of northern Spain spans over 14, 000 acres, roughly the size of Delaware. With vineyards dating back to Roman times, one of Spain’s primary exports is gaining popularity and praise in the States. Explore white or red options, a delicious meal, and sip, drink (or guzzle) a little taste of Spain.
(Photo of STEAK 954, courtesy of W Hotels)
Every Mary has her Rhoda. Every Marcia has her Jan. For many years, Fort Lauderdale played second fiddle to ever-popular Miami. But with the opening of the Ritz Carlton in August 2008 and the W Hotel in April 2009, Fort Lauderdale is shedding her braces and graduating from finishing school. No better place to experience the transformation than overlooking the beach at the W’s stylish, new restaurant, Steak 954.
Created by Stephen Starr (of New York’s Buddakan fame), Steak 954 infuses the classic steakhouse with a modern, South Florida flair. At dinner, steaks range from an 8 oz. Filet ($35) to a 36 oz. Australian Tajima Kobe Porterhouse ($245). Non-beef-lover options include Butter Poached Maine Lobster (MP), Miso-glazed Black Cod ($27) and Seared Duck Breast ($26). Weekend nights can be a bit of a scene, but the restaurant, with its sleek jellyfish aquarium and outdoor terrace, is successful at accommodating an eclectic mix of guests.
For a more relaxed experience, enjoy the ocean view while sipping a Bloody Mary ($12) during the weekend brunch. Traditional favorites like the Vanilla French Toast and Mushroom & White Cheddar Omelet share the menu with funky breakfast creations like the Short Rib Benedict and Cuban Egg Sandwich with pulled pork, and lunch-sized portions of the dinner entrees (most under $20). Whether you are in the mood for a little “br” or a little “unch” a side order of the Truffle French Fries are a necessary complement to your meal. I promise; you will thank me.
Steak 954 keeps with the slick, modern vibe of the W brand while incorporating the relaxed environment of a beachside café. Fort Lauderdale is slowly but surely cultivating its own kind of casual glam that works well for this friendly beach town. In the last few years, this wallflower has blossomed into a sophisticated, trendy new presence and is enjoying her time in the spotlight.