Quoth the editors of The Daily Meal: "To help you tackle your epic Christmas list this year, we sought the help of some of the top editors and planners in the entertaining world who know a thing or two about choosing the best gifts." Hey, that's me! Yes, this happened way back in 2013, but I'm just circling back to it now. I was approached to give my best gift suggestion for seven different types of recipients: the host, the beer/wine drinker, the coffee/tea drinker, the cook, the baker, the wannabe food critic, and the traveler. Luckily, none of my picks are too tied to the holiday season—feel free to use them for birthdays, hostess gifts, and gifts you just give to yourself.
Pictured: Fred & Friends Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters, available at Amazon.com.
The Whitney Museum of American Art may be leaving the Upper East Side for new downtown digs, but that doesn't mean that you have to follow. Before or after you're done browsing the museum’s Biennial exhibition—held for the last time at its current uptown location—visit these neighborhood spots for shopping, food, live music and, of course, more art.
...SEE MORE ART
The Leo Castelli Gallery
If you didn't get your fill at the Whitney, head over to this gallery, which was founded in the '50s by an art dealer who was one of the first to catch on to the likes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. The gallery still exhibits art titans of that era, and it's currently hosting an exhibition of works by Robert Morris, including two of his iconic felt sculptures.
18 E 77th St (212) 249-4470; castelligallery.com.
You can find a little of everything at Fivestory: some women's fashion, some men's fashion, and some housewares—all of it from high-end, hard-to-find lines—displayed in an UES brownstone that's made to look like a scaled-down luxury department store. If you see something you like (and can afford), better snap it up, as the store prides itself on carrying items that, if not one-of-a-kind, are stocked in very limited quantities.
18 E 69th St (212) 288-1338; fivestoryny.com.
The word "hospoda" means "pub" in Czech—and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about this restaurant. The cuisine here is "beer-inspired"—think beef tartare served on a pretzel bun, or crescent duck with red cabbage, potato, and quince—and the menu offers beer-pairing suggestions for each dish from a list of more than a dozen different brews. If your thirst for suds still isn't quenched, order the draft tasting. It comes with mugs of Pilsner Urquell served four ways, from "neat," which has no head, to "sweet," which is all foam.
321 East 73rd St (212) 861-1038; hospodanyc.com.
...GO FOR A COCKTAIL
You can't get a table at Café Boulud without a reservation, but you can visit Daniel Boulud's swanky bar next door for a drink or two. The mixologist here offers a far-ranging menu of cocktails, from the seasonally inspired Shiver Me Timbers (JM Gold Rhum, Ramazzotti, pine liqueur, tiki bitters, maple syrup candied walnut, and foraged pine) to the timeless Scofflaw (Cocchi Americano, rye, lemon, grenadine, as found in The Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930). Just make sure you hit the ATM before you go, as cocktails here cost between $16 and $22.
20 E 76th St (212) 772-2600; barpleiades.com.
...LISTEN TO MUSIC
Reserve a table at The Carlyle hotel's Café Carlyle for a supper-club experience, where you can knock back a martini, eat dinner, and be treated to a cabaret performance. (Fellas, jackets are recommended.) Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band have a standing engagement here on Monday nights, and Shirley Jones, John Pizzarelli, and Alexa Ray Joel all have upcoming gigs that fill out the rest of the week. If you want to skip the "supper" part and concentrate on the drinks and music, there's The Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar, named after the famed Madeline creator, which also hosts live music.35 E 76th St (212) 744-1600; rosewoodhotels.com.
...TAKE A STROLL
For walking, biking, people watching, or any of New York City's other free pleasures, the Whitney is just a quick stroll away from Central Park. Enter at 60th St to see the newly installed cloud sculptures by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, then head north to see sculptures dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen and Alice in Wonderland and take a lap around the picturesque Conservatory Water pond.
60th St and Fifth Ave (212) 310-6600; centralparknyc.org.
The first family has made repeated trips to Martha's Vineyard throughout Barack Obama's presidency. When on the island, they used to stay at the 28-acre Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, until the property was sold to architect Norman Foster in 2011. Last summer, they downgraded to a smaller house—but with a pool and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
What a perfect day to post this...
Tackle the snow with an inner tube, cross-country skis or an ice ax (yes, really) on these intrepid outdoor adventures this winter
2½ hours by car or bus
This downhill sport has all the screaming momentum you crave sans the need for skill or coordination: Just settle in and let gravity do the work. Hunter Mountain recently gave its tubing park a major makeover—it now boasts 24 shoots, each 1,000 feet long, and a new carpet lift to take you back to the top when you’re ready for another go. 7740 Main St, Hunter, NY (800-486-8376, huntermtn.com). Two-hour session $20.
Where to stay: For a dose of kitsch, try Kate’s Lazy Meadow (5191 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY; 845-688-7200, lazymeadow.com; from $175/night)—founded by B-52’s singer Kate Pierson—whose suites are done up in “atomic” midcentury style.
Sochi Trivia: Olympic Fun Facts That'll Make You Sound Really Smart
From the craziest stops on the torch relay to the future of Sochi's newest venues, here's your guide from Marisa LaScala to this year's Olympic trivia.
A number of countries are headed to the Winter Olympics for the very first time. East Timor, Paraguay, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe are among the debuting nations—and their athletes bring some of the most incredible stories of the Games with them.
Take, for instance, Paraguay's Julia Marino, who will be competing in the new slopestyle skiing event. How did she come to represent a country that's more likely to see its residents on jet skis than downhill skis? She was adopted by Americans when she was six months old and raised in ski-savvy Massachusetts—but chose to compete for her birth nation.
Then there's Tonga's Bruno Banani. If you'd checked in with him before 2008, you'd have found him playing rugby under the name of Fuahea Semi. In the ensuing years, he headed off to Germany, changed his name to that of a famous brand of German undergarments, learned how to luge, and will be carrying the flag for Tonga for the first time.
Even if you spend every last dime traveling to the New York area for the Super Bowl, you can still enjoy a multitude of activities in the city free-of-charge.Laugh at Your Future Favorite Comedians
On the surface, it seems like The Spectacular Now is no different from your average teen movie. It starts off at an Atlanta, Georgia high school sometime during senior year. The all-around popular guy, Sutter (Miles Teller), meets the pretty-but-unnoticed shy girl, Aimee (Shailene Woodley). They strike up an unlikely friendship, then an even-more-unlikely romance, and then have to figure out what to do about the world after high school.
This is my first assignment from mental_floss, based on an idea I pitched.
Tino on My So-Called Life
What they're saying: "We have to go! With Sharon, to the hospital. I'll get Tino to drive us, he loves hospitals."
The lowdown: It's possible My So-Called Life heartthrob Jordan Catalano never got anywhere with his band, the Frozen Embryos, because Tino, its front man, wasn't very present. Then again, maybe he didn't have to be: possibly the most-referenced unseen character on this list, Tino is mentioned in a majority of the series' episodes, by almost every major teenage character. He can get a fake ID. He can get into an exclusive club, loft, or empty, for-sale house. He is, like, Mr. Halloween. When he quits the band, Jordan laments that "There's gonna be, like, this big empty hole where Tino used to be," but, for the audience, that's all he ever was.
Image credit: ThinkStock