I'm the Expert: The Daily Meal Gift Guide

The Daily Meal Gift Guide

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 hostthe beer/wine drinker, the coffee/tea drinkerthe cook, the bakerthe 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 Daily Traveler: Botanical Garden Holiday Displays

From synchronized light displays to intricate botanical sculptures, these gardens are decked for the holidays

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN
Garden Lights
November 16 to January 4
The Atlanta Botanical Garden brings in 1.5 million energy-efficient LEDs to create its illuminated holiday display. Many of the lights are used to transform the Garden's most famous landmarks into holiday-appropriate characters; Earth Goddess, a giant topiary sculpture in the shape of a woman, is given strands of wintry blue hair, turning her into Ice Goddess, and a pair of 15-foot-tall snakes are don red and white stripes to make them the Candy Cane Cobras. Powering the 52 miles of light strings is Georgia Power, which uses green energy produced from renewable resources like solar power and biomass.

Photograph by Chris Kozarich

Time Out New York: Summer Scenes

For the "Get Outdoors in New York City" issue of Time Out New York, I checked out the scene at the McCarren Park Pool. Click on the images below the splash, and you'll also see the quotes I got from people visiting the pool.

McCarren Park Pool

The last time lines snaked from the imposing brick entryway down Lorimer Street, Sonic Youth was set to perform at the last of JellyNYC’s Pool Parties. After the facility’s $50 million renovation, the queues have returned, formed by families eager to try the new 1,500-person-capacity swimming hole. But even with more than a thousand swimmers, everyone has enough room.

Kids have their run of the deck at the top of the massive 37,571-square-foot U-shaped pool, splashing their way through spray fountains and shallow paddling areas. Make for the other side, where the families thin out and the water, accentuated by the painted bottom, looks Mediterranean blue. Patrons are more relaxed here, either cooling off with a dip, sunbathing, swimming in the designated lap lanes or playing volleyball in a sand court off to the side.

Be warned: Rules are strictly enforced, especially after the local press reported fights, arrests and theft (just try a backflip into the water now). You must leave everything except your towel, water bottle, sunblock, bound reading material, and flip-flops or sandals (no sneakers)—yes, even your cell phone—in a locker, for which you must provide your own lock. For more regulations, visit nyc.gov/parks.

Lorimer St between Bayard St and Driggs Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Daily 11am–3pm, 4–7pm; free. Through Monday, September 3, 2012.

 

Click through to see the article and quotes at Time Out New York.

 

Photograph: Marielle Solan

Time Out New York: Apartments Issue

New York Apartments 2012: East Village

Time Out New York does a great feature package on apartment hunting every year, and this time around I got to profile three East Village hunter/renters. (Each profile also has a slideshow of the apartment.)

2 Cooper, luxury 2BR apartment, East Village

Mid-Range 3BR apartment, East Village

Bargain 2BR apartment, East Village

I also got to hear (and retell) this crazy story about a major setback that occurred during one apartment search:

THE SEARCH: After looking on sites like Naked Apartments (nakedapartments.com), StreetEasy (streeteasy.com) and Craigslist (craigslist.org)—the latter of which can be “very misleading,” notes Hull—the three roommates found an apartment and signed the papers. “On our move-in day, [the broker] called and told us there was one guy still in the apartment,” says Van Brunt. “John and Tony went to talk to him. He opened the door with the chain on and said, ‘This is my apartment, and that’s why I’m in here and you’re out there.’ We were basically homeless for two weeks. We found another apartment managed by the same company on 9300 Realty [9300realty.com]. It was a nicer place, with a balcony, a dishwasher and washer-dryer, [in] a better location. We said, ‘Give us that apartment at the agreed-upon rent, even though it should be a little more, and prorate us [this month], and we’ll be fine.’ ”

 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

May Issue: Grand Central Feature Package

 

The Commuter's Guide to Grand Central Terminal
Where to eat, shop, marvel, have a cocktail, play a round of tennis, and shoot a film—all while rushing to make the 6:12.


Grand Central Terminal may be in New York City, but it really is our domain. City residents never pay much mind to the beautiful Beaux-Arts building unless they have to take a trip to the northern suburbs. We Westchester commuters scuff our shoes daily on the terminal’s Tennessee marble floors.

Still, we don’t always take the time to appreciate the smart design, the impressive engineering, the meticulous planning that goes into keeping the transportation hub humming. Often, because we’re running for a train. But, before we pop our earbuds in and sit on a comfy Metro-North seat, we should take a moment to soak it all in. After all, it’s one of the greatest buildings in New York—at least according to New York magazine, which gathered a panel of experts in early 2011 to name the best New York City buildings of all time. “Grand Central creates a new type,” Barry Bergdoll, chief curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, told the magazine. “It’s really an indoor urban room that’s absolutely stunning.”

If that wasn’t enough, within its walls there are retail stores brimming with worthy last-minute gifts, gourmet goodies at every turn, a cocktail lounge that looks like it was transported from the piazzas of Florence, and even a tennis court. Here, we present our commuter’s guide to getting the most out of Grand Central. At the very least, it’ll give you another reason to feel superior to those Long Islanders, who have to come into the City via the hellish subterranean maze that is the current Penn Station.


To read the rest of the article, either click through or download the PDF above.

The Daily Traveler: Hangover Cures

 

Recover on New Year's Day Like the Cast of The Hangover Part II

The Bangkok Cure: Kill That Hangover with Vitamins—and Another Drink
Alex Holzer, mixologist at The Dome at Lebua in Bangkok, Thailand, has a cocktail with a special connection to hangovers, because it was “specially created for the cast and crew of The Hangover Part II,” he says. In addition to some hair of the dog, Holzer loads his cocktail up with healthful ingredients: “Honey is a source of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and protein. The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. Rosemary contains antioxidants and is an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Its connection with memory has been noted for a long time. Green apples contain sodium, and we add Vitamin C by making juice out of it to maintain the green clear color.”

  • 1 oz Chivas 12-year-old blended scotch whiskey
  • 1 oz Zen green tea liquor
  • .3 oz Martini Rosso
  • .5 oz green apple juice
  • .3 oz Angostura Bitter
  • .3 oz honey/rosemary infusion (house-made)
  • garnish with a rosemary sprig

Click through to read hangover cures from London, Sydney, Moscow, and Milan on The Condé Nast Traveler website.

The Daily Traveler: Starbucks Bathroom Policy Change Could Leave Travelers with a Problem

Starbucks Bathroom Policy Change Could Leave Travelers with a Problem

You're out discovering a new city, and, after a long day of sightseeing, shopping, and seeking out the best street-food vendors, it's finally time for a bathroom break. What used to be your go-to for a dependable public restroom—the closest Starbucks—may not be available to you anymore.
The New York Post reports that, though not an official policy, branches of the chain has been "steadily closing some of its restrooms," at least in New York City, because its own employees are forced to wait in line behind customers.
So, what's a weary (and full-bladdered) traveler to do? Where will you turn for your next pit stop? Leave us your best public-restroom-finding strategies in the comments.

The Daily Traveler: IKEA Designs a Community in London

We Hope London's Ikea Suburb Serves Swedish Meatballs

Ikea devotees, start packing your cheap-but-attractive furniture. LandProp—part of the Inter Ikea Group, which owns the Swedish furniture chain—is converting 26 acres and 2 million square feet of space into a mixed-use community south of London's Olympic park in Stratford. In other words: an Ikea village of sorts. In addition to offices and more than a thousand new homes, LandProp is outfitting the development, called Strand East, with a Graysons restaurant, a 350-room hotel, and Dane's Yard, a waterfront public square marked by an illuminated 130-foot-tall sculpture. The eco-friendly community will have car-free zones (families can stow their minivans underground), water taxis in the surrounding canals, and landscaped bridges and walkways. The big question: How many pieces will be leftover when they’re done assembling the ’burb?

Image Credit: LandProp