CITYSIGHTS NY BLOG
Most know New York City as a culinary paradise, featuring the most diverse array of flavors and dishes to be found in any one place. What you may not know is that African cuisine—from Morocco to South Africa—is among the delicious tastes served up by New York City restaurants. Here are some of the best places to find a taste of Africa in the heart of the Big Apple…
Le Souk (Moroccan cuisine)
510 LaGuardia Place (near Bleceker Street), Manhattan
Founded by two brothers from Egypt and well respected in the New York restaurant community, Le Souk offers a true taste of Morocco with favorites including Couscous, Tagines (a traditional stew od meat, poultry, or fish cooked with fruits and vegetables in an earthenware pot), and Merguez (spiced lamb sausage).
Queen of Sheba (Ethiopian cuisine)
650 10th Avenue (at 46th Street), Manhattan
Emphasizing the sense of community that is a principle feature of Ethiopian dining, Queen of Sheba offers a spectacular array of both mea-based and vegetarian dishes, including Wot (a traditional Ethiopian stew made with beef, poultry, lamb, or vegetables), served on a soft spongy bread (injera) and eaten with your hands. And remember to try the rum cake for dessert!
Buka (Nigerian cuisine)
946 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
Not all the fine dining is in Manhattan. Venture across the East Riverfor a taste of Nigeria at Buka, in Brooklyn’s rapidly growing arts and restaurant community. Buka features traditional dishes including goat pepper soup, ban cake, and red snapper with Eba (made from dried and grated cassava) and Egusi (a thickened soup made from a protein-rich variety of nut).
Farafina Café and Lounge (Ivory Coast cuisine)
1813 Amsterdam Avenue (at 150th Street), Manhattan
Take a ride to Harlem for some delicacies from the Ivory Coast! Favorites from Farafina’s African fusion menu include Chicken Kedjenou, Seafood Maffe or Fish Yassa served with couscous or rice. There’s also a lamb burger for the less adventurous. Farafina is also a music venue, so stick around and enjoy the sounds.
Tolani Eatery & Wine
410 Amsterdam Avenue (near 80th Street), Manhattan
Tolani boasts a broad array of dishes with an international flavor (from New Zealand to the Mediterranean), but with a distinctly South African twist. Favorites include Prawn Peri-Peri, Mealie Meal, and Seafood Potjiekos. And be sure to complement your meal with a taste of the grape from their expansive wine list.
As the old joke goes, a guy stops a stranger in the streets of Manhattan and asks, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and the stranger says, “Practice.” And indeed those who’ve graced the Hall’s stage since 1891 have numbered among the most elite orchestras, conductors, and performers in the world. Composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky himself featured as guest conductor at the Hall’s inaugural performance in May of 1891, and the list has gone on to include the finest classical, jazz, and rock performers—from legendary tenor Enrico Caruso and conductor Arturo Toscanini, to swing great Benny Goodman, and from Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to the Beatles.
The history of Carnegie Hall begins in the 1880s, when industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie financed the design and construction of what was then simply called the “Music Hall.” In 1890 construction began at the site, located at 7th Avenue and 57th Street in midtown Manhattan, and a year later the structure was complete. It remains one of the last New York City buildings to be constructed of masonry alone, entirely without the use of steel. The Carnegie family retained ownership of the Hall, until 1925, when it was sold to developer Robert Simon. Simon’s son, Robert Jr. inherited the property upon his father’s death and continued its management through the 1950s. The move of the New York Philharmonic to Lincoln Center nearly spelled doom for the Hall, which was actually slated for demolition. Fortunately a group of concerned artists led by violinist Isaac Stern, offered an alternative. They suggested that the city purchase the building from Simon, and that it be managed by a nonprofit corporation. The city agreed, and Carnegie Hall was spared the wrecking ball.
Carnegie Hall is actually three venues—the Main Hall (now the Isaac Stern Auditorium), Zankel Hall, and the Weill Recital Hall. Of the three, the Main Hall is the most majestic, featuring five levels and a daunting 137-stair climb to the first balcony. The auditorium seats over 2800 people and was, until 1962, the home of the New York Philharmonic (which relocated to Lincoln Center). Zankel Hall (originally the Recital Hall, and later the Carnegie Lyceum) seats 600 and between 1961 and 1997 served as a movie theater featuring art films. The fully renovated Zankel Hall opened in 2003. The smallest of the three venues is the Weill Recital Hall (originally the Chamber Music Hall) seats 268 for more intimate performances. The building has seen several structural renovations, the first in 1986 and the second in 1991, and the third in 2003. The second of these included creation of the Rose Room, the East Room, and the Club Room.
Today Carnegie Hall’s three venues continue to feature the top performers in all areas of the arts, from classical and rock music, to poetry performances and lectures. If you plan to visit Carnegie Hall, check their online calendar for upcoming events and be sure to book your tickets well in advance.
For more than 20 years, The Original LGBT Expo has provided a showcase for companies, organizations, services, and products recognizing the influence of the lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender community. With 25,000 fans in the “Big Apple” to not just attend, the Original LGBT Expo is the perfect platform for companies to promote their brands to this influential community.
Exhibitors will run the gamut from banking, real estate, legal, and investment firms, to travel, beauty, fashion, fitness, and the arts. In addition to the main exhibit floor, there’s be lots to keep you entertained—music, dance, comedy, celebrity Q&A, and even live game shows will fill the stage schedule! Plus, there’ll be a hoist of interactive seminars on topics ranging from finance and employment to dating and adoption.
The Ultimate Wedding and Honeymoon Giveaway ($30k value)
Enjoy your wedding ceremony in a custom-built venue on the show floor of The Original LGBT Expo 2015 in New York City! Then be whisked away to an all-expense-paid 4-night stay at the 5-star Los Alto de Eros Hotel and Spa in beautiful Costa Rica! Includes ceremony, wedding bands, limo service, cake, flowers, even a wedding photographer! Honeymoon package includes 4-night accommodations, transportation, complementary breakfast and lunch, laundry service, beverages, and more! Contest entry information can be found at email@example.com.
Exhibit by Artist Fang Ling Lee
Artist, painter, and sculptor Fang Ling Lee has built a career from appearances as a street artist at LGBT festivals such as San Francisco Pride and Chicago Pride. Her work has included exhibitions in galleries and museums as well as adult and comic expos, has recently grown in scope to include production design in film. Along with works inspired by the LGBT community, Fang will showcase “XOXO”—an erotic group exhibition with over 20 international artists, some of the proceeds going to a LGBT charity.
Passport Magazine Travel Show
Embark on a travel fantasy with Passport Magazine! A section of the exhibit floor will be devoted to vacation ideas, products, and services. Visit dozens of travel vendors and browse the many travel packages and exotic destinations offered. Whether you’re planning a weekend jaunt or the vacation of a lifetime, the Passport Magazine Travel Show will have something special for you!
If you go:
THE ORIGINAL LGBT EXPO
February 28–March 1, 2015
Jacob Javits Center
655 West 34th Street, Manhattan
Nothing says spring like the color and fragrance of flowers—and few blooms are more dazzling than orchids. Exotic, aromatic, and alive with unique colors and shapes, orchids are among the natural world’s most beautiful plant species.
Starting on February 28 and continuing through April 19, the New York Botanical Garden presents the Orchid Show. This year’s theme is “Chandeliers” and features a collection of aerial orchid displays unlike any you’ve seen. Aerial display unlike any other. Inside the controlled climate of the Haupt Conservatory, you’ll explore in an array of orchid designs that includes hanging baskets, living columns, and the centerpiece: an immense star-shaped chandelier that overflows with hundreds of plants! Dozens of designs seem to float through the tropical atmosphere of the Conservatory. This year’s expanded display fills the Rain Forest Galleries with flamboyant color and heady fragrance.
Orchids as a group embrace thousands of individual species, each ideally (and often elaborately) adapted both to flourish in its environment and to attract pollinating insects and birds. At the show, take a few moments to learn about the various species, their unique adaptations, and ways you can help to promote orchid conservation globally!
When you’ve finished touring the Conservatory, feel free to check out the many other events offered during the show’s run at the Garden—with dance performances, poetry readings, hands-on orchid care demonstrations, and shopping. Evening visitors will be treated to a special event— “Orchid Evenings.”
The Orchid Show is designed and curated by Francisca P. Coelho, President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions at the New York Botanical Garden. She and her team of dedicated managers and gardeners are responsible for the raising, care, installation and maintenance of the plant exhibits. Coelho herself is expert in the raising and care of tropical, sub-tropical, and desert plants.
If you go:
The New York Botanical Gardens
2900 Southern Boulevard, the Bronx
Tuesdays through Sundays, 10am–6pm
Admission: Adults $20, Seniors $18, Children (2 to 12 years) $8
Teaching kids to make smart food choices is an important goal for Kids Food Fest founder Cricket Azima. She knows that healthy eating habits start early in life, and that kids who learn to eat healthily now can learn to make smart dietary choices later—choices that can help them avoid obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Azima, who founded The Creative Kitchen, has championed the idea of teaching children to cook in a safe and educational way that emphasizes proper nutrition and healthy choices. By partnering with organizations like The James Beard Foundation she has found a fun, family-friendly, and delicious way to achieve her goals.
Kids Food Fest is a two-day, FREE event held in Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. It combines both educational and entertainment events to help kids (and their parents) make informed dietary choices, broaden food options, and prepare easy-to-make dishes that avoid the excess sugar, fat, and salt found in so many of today’s industrially produced junk foods. It’s an event sure to satisfy appetites of all ages!
Here are just a few of the events you’ll find…
• Free cooking demos. Gather at the main stage for free cooking demonstrations from leading chefs. Special guest chefs include Daniel Holzman, Joey Campanaro, Thiago Silva, Cricket Azima, Bill Telepan, Richie Brandenberg, Jehangir Mehta, Bill Yosses, and more!
• Hands-on Cooking Classes. Cooking healthy meals is easier than you might think. And with the help of seasoned chefs, it’s fun too. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to cook! While the Fest itself is free to the public, ticket purchase is required for the food classes. Proceeds go to help Alliance for a Healthier Generation in the fight against childhood obesity. Tickets for all classes will be available at the James Beard Foundation “Future Foodies” Pavilion.
• Free samples! Come and taste dozens of kid-friendly dishes you can learn to make yourself. Creative chefs share their recipes for delicious nutritious meals that don't require a lot of time or effort.
• The Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt. Who said learning to eat healthy can’t be fun. Join in the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt and learn the essentials of a healthy diet while hunting for items hidden around the park. There are even prizes for the best hunters!
If you go:
Kids Food Fest
February 28–March 1, 2015
10am – 4pm
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
40th to 42nd Streets, between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan
FREE GENERAL ADMISSION!
For the past 18 years, the New York International Children's Film Festival has showcased the world’s best films for young audiences. Featuring the most engaging and interesting films in the genre, the Festival celebrates the full range of children’s cinema—from obscure short films to Hollywood global releases, comedy to drama, and live action to animation. The Children’s Film Festival is the ideal family activity, offering you and your kids the chance to discover (or recapture) the magic of movies together.
Here are just a few highlights from this year’s Children’s Film Festival lineup.
When Marnie Was There
Directors Guild of America Theater
110 West 57th Street, Manhattan
Friday, February 27, 8:30pm
Based on a novel by Joan G. Robinson and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayash, this endearing film features stunningly beautiful animation and a delightfully told story of friendship, mystery, and discovery.
Heebie Jeebies: A Collection of Strange and Scary Shorts
323 Avenue of the Americas (at W. 4th), Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Saturday, February 28, 11:00am
Enjoy an international collection of short films that range from the odd to the scary. Appropriate for ages 10 and up. Titles include Faded Finery, Earthworm Heart, Golden Boy, and Lucy and the Limbs.
333 West 23rd Street (near 9th Ave), Manhattan
Saturday, February 28, 6:00pm
Enjoy the U.S. premiere of this live-action film from France and follow the story of 12-year-old Lou and her mother Emma in this quirky mom-and-daughter buddy film.
Shorts for Tots
323 Avenue of the Americas (at W. 4th), Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Sunday, March 1, 11:15am
Here’s something delightful for the little ones—a series of short films sure to delight the senses and bring a smile to every face! Ideal for kids ages 3 to 6.
Flicker Lounge: For Teens and Adults
333 West 23rd Street (near 9th Ave), Manhattan
Saturday, March 7, 7:00pm
You’ll find something for the older kids at Flicker Lounge—a series of young-adult films that includes Sensory Overload, The Kiosk, and We Can’t Live Without Cosmos.
Other films at the NYC Children’s Film Festival include The King and the Mockingbird, Shaun the Sheep, and many more! A complete list of films and venues, as well as ticket sales, can be found at gkids.com.
Discover an innovative way to experience dance and movement performance! Since 2014, the New York Live Arts Digital Dance Festival has challenged audiences to view and interpret live dance in a new way.
Presented by New York Live Arts in partnership with 2ndLine.tv, the Digital Dance Festival delivers a series of performances that will prompt audiences to redefine the way they look at movement and dance. In addition to its resident company—choreographed by Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane—the Festival has featured Steven Reker/People Get Ready, Donna Uchizono Company, and Jen Rosenblit. The 2015 line-up will include niv Acosta, Elena Demyanenko, and Dai Jian, in addition to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
New York Live Arts Digital Dance Festival 2015 Highlights
niv Acosta: “I shot denzel”
Acosta's i shot denzel a segment in a larger series of “denzel” performance pieces—each of which takes a look at black masculinity in the context of contemporary or "classical" movement.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company: A Quarreling Pair
A Quarreling Pair is an examination of the challenges when two people share a space and a life. The piece draws as its inspiration from its namesake play by Jane Bowles—an absurdist piece that uses puppets to explore the relationship between two middle-aged sisters who face the struggles of living together.
Elena Demyanenko and Dai Jian: Blue Room
Chinese artist Dai Jian and Russian-born Elena Demyanenko, both recent alumni of Trisha Brown Dance Company, have collaborated to create Blue Room—a movement performance that explores the multifaceted world of human relationships.
Performances can be viewed at 2ndline.tv from February 23–28, and tickets are available online on a “pay what you wish” basis, making the Digital Dance Festival a great way to see high art on a low budget. The New York Live Arts box office is located at 219 West 19th Street, Manhattan and is open Monday to Friday from 1pm to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
Presented annually by the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, the NYU Fusion Film Festival celebrates women in film, TV, and new media. Each year’s competition among young female filmmakers highlights the finest in the audio-visual arts. Each film in the Fusion Film Festival is directed or shot by a woman, and provides a chance for these emerging artists to show off their works ad build their careers. The Festival also reflects the changing character of the film industry—a field that was once exclusively the realm of male directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, and photo- and videographers.
The Fusion Film Festival’s 13 categories include “Docs-in-the-Works,” in which filmmakers share documentaries in progress and receive advice & critiques from leaders in the field. This unique approach allows young filmmakers to be mentored by established artists and to craft their work based on the tips and advice they receive. Along with the screenings, the Festival includes panel discussions, master classes, retrospectives, and student showcases.
The 2015 Fusion Film Festival is filled with excellent pieces of art, but here are a few highlights you won’t want to miss.
Showcase Tribute to Reed Morano, Fusion’s Woman of the Year
7pm – 10pm, Cantor Film Center
The Festival opens with a celebration of the work of Reed Miorano—including a video introduction created by Morano for the event, trailers from some of her films, and a screening of her latest work, Kill Your Darlings.
Docs-in-the-Works Pitch Competition
3pm – 6pm, Tisch School, Room 006
Meet the finalists in this year’s competition, view their documentary trailers, hear their pitches, and listen to feedback they get from noted film executives. The event is hosted by documentary filmmaker and NYU Professor Nilita Vachani.
When the Lights Go Out: Introducing Women in Horror
7pm – 8:30pm, Tisch School, Room 006
Join the conversation as the Festival celebrates women filmmakers in American horror cinema. Panelists include Mary Harron (American Psycho), Katie Carman-Lehach (Switch), and Jenn Wexler (Slumber Party). NYU professor and noted filmmaker Mary Lambert (Pet Cemetery) moderates the discussion.
Master Class with Woman of the Year Reed Morano, ASC
1:00pm – 2:15pm, Tisch School, Room 006
Meet cinematographer and director Reed Morano—the youngest person ever admitted to the American Society of Cinematographers! Morano will discuss her technique and screen clips from her work.
2:30pm – 3:30pm, Tisch School, Room 006
Meet some of the most successful women behind the camera in TV: Janet Tamaro (Rizzoli & Isles) and Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls and Bunheads)!
Student Competition Screenings & Award Ceremony
6:30pm – 10pm, Cantor Film Center
View screenings from this year’s finalists, showcasing the finest work from NYU’s graduate and undergraduate filmmakers—then attend the presentation of this year’s Woman of the Year Award!
During the two week-long Film Comment Selects festival, you can explore more than 20 rare and underrated films chosen by the Film Society of New York City! Each year the festival offers up an intriguing and often mind-blowing array of films that range from the exotic to the unclassifiable, from the rarely seen to the underrated. This year’s lineup is sure to impress, and kicks off with Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films—a dizzying tell-all that reveals the exploits of 1980s producers Menahem Golam and Yoram Globus. Three Golan & Globus films follow, including 10 to Midnight, The Last American Virgin, and Ninja III: The Dominion. The Festival also features six films by Danish director Nils Malmros, known for his intensely personal and often heart-wrenching autobiographical films. Other highlights include Belluscone: A Sicilian Story (Franco Maresco, Italy), Bypass (Duane Hopkins, UK), High Society (Julie Lopes Curval, France), and Tales (Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Iran).
Here are just a few highlights from the 2015 Film Comment Selects schedule:
Electric Boogaloo / Director: Mark Hartley (USA) / 2014
Back in the 1980s, producers Menahem Gollan and Yoram Globus earned themselves a unique (if less than lauded) place in cinema history. Their company Cannon Films shocked the Hollywood community with a series of
shoestring-budget schlock productions interspersed with a peppering of inadvertently tasteful films. Documentarian filmmaker Mark Hartley takes you back to that often-bizarre era with celebrity anecdotes and a selection of clips from the Cannon Films library of hits (and misses). From Death Wish 4 (with Charles Bronson as man of middle-class vengeance Paul Kersey) to Barfly (with Mickey Rourke as alcoholic poet Charles Bukowski), the Cannon film catalog stretches from the lurid to the artful, and director Hartley makes sure you don’t miss a bit of the wild ride.
Belluscone: A Sicilian Story / Director: Franco Maresco (Italy) / 2014
Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is one of those larger-than-life figures whose story encompasses wealth, power, and lurid excess the likes of which one usually must rely upon fiction to deliver. The extremes of Berlusconi’s tabloid-splashed life and career present more than enough material for gonzo satirist Franco Maresco to explore. Focusing on the former Prime Minister’s Mafia connections, Maresco takes a sort of “Man Bites Dog” view as a well-known film critic investigates an “abandoned” film project, which turns out to be the very film that’s on screen, with filmmaker Maresco speaking of it in the third person. The subsequent “mockumentary” is a wild ride, blending actual film footage with that created by Maresco.
Fires on the Plain / Director: Shinya Tsukamoto / 2014
This disturbing reimagining of the Ichikawa’s antiwar classic is practically a one-person show, with Shinya Tsukamoto as producer, writer, director, photographer, art director, and editor. Tsukamoto also plays the film’s protagonist, a private who wanders the battlefield, is separated from his unit, and becomes immersed in war’s obscene brutality through a series of grim adventures. The film is an unflinching examination of war and a work of art in the highest traditions of cinema.
Film Comments Selects
February 20 – March 5, 2015
Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center
144 W. 65th Street, Manhattan
Twice a year, New York City celebrates Restaurant Week, an exciting way to discover the greatest taste sensations the city has to offer, without breaking your budget! During NYC Restaurant Week, over 300 of the city’s best restaurants offer dining deals that are simply too delicious to pass up. With lunch specials at just $25 per person and dinners for only $38, even the most cost-conscious diners can experience enticing dishes prepared by New York City’s top chefs. From cheap eats to fine dining, you’re sure to find something to delight your palate during NYC Restaurant Week!
Lasting from February 16 to March 6, NYC Restaurant Week is actually a 19-day feast that spans a range of cuisine types—including Italian, Greek, Asian, Mexican, and more!
Here are just a few of the restaurants you’ll want to visit during NYC Restaurant Week:
All’onda (Italian-Japanese fusion)
22 East 13th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Treat your palate to a taste of the unexpected with a unique fusion of the finest Italian cuisine, subtly influenced by Japanese flavorings. All’onda is the brainchild of restaurateur Chris Cannon and Chef Chris Jaeckle, with menu highlights including seafood, sweetbreads, and an array of pastas including bucatini and lumache.
Kellari Taverna (Greek)
19 West 44th Street, Midtown Manhattan
For fine Greek dining on a budget, be sire to stop at Kellari Taverna. The special Restaurant Week menu features seared scallops with pomegranate risotto and Greek classics like dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach, leek, and feta pies), and calamari (fried squid with chard and black-eyed peas). Try the tuna, Lavraki (Mediterranean bass), or Boston cod for your main course, and finish off with some baklava!
El Vez (Mexican)
If you’re looking for Mexican food with a little something extra, check out El Vez. Highlights include mescal-cured salmon, snapper aguachile, crab tostadas, tortilla soup, zucchini blossom and corn quesadillas, chicken mole, and oxtail or crab enchiladas. And if you just want a steak, they have that too!
88 10th Avenue, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
Iron Chef Morimoto shows off his skills, from slow-cooked king salmon and roasted Maine lobster, to a range of steak dishes, to the finest sushi and sashimi! Morimoto excels in both flavor and presentation—and both the lunch and dinner menus feature Restaurant Week specials!
A complete list of participating restaurants can be found at OpenTable.
Remember to book your reservations in advance, as NYC Restaurant Week is a well-publicized and popular event. Dress codes vary, and while most are casual, some are not, so inquire with individual restaurants when booking your reservation.