Paula Hayes’ Gorgeous Gazing Globes Brighten Madison Square Park

Paula Hayes Gazing Globes at Madison Square Park

I realize it's only been a few weeks since I was last excited about something going on in Madison Square Park–Snow Monsters! Hot Chocolate Cereal Milk!–but since this beautiful city of ours just keeps on giving, there's once again something new to add to your list of fun things to check out in the area. Starting in mid February and running through April 19 (when it will–maybe?–be WARM again!!), the West Gravel plaza at the park's southern end is home to 18 magical gazing globes, filled with all sorts of mysterious, "ancient" relics, courtesy of artist and landscape designer Paula Hayes. AND you can still get amazing sweet treats at the Momofuku Milk cabin! 

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Finger Lickin’ Delicious Pies-n-Thighs Arrives In Lower East Side

Chicken Box from Pies-n-Thighs

It wasn't that long ago, actually–call it the late aughts–when any nightlife to be found around the Allen-Canal-Division Street triangle was mostly about rats running willy-nilly between garbage piles. And that Ling Kee Beef Jerky place, too. That was sometimes open late (and, by the way, is really good, if you like chewing on various meat squares).  Today, though, it's like a mini restaurant row around here, beautiful-hipster edition. There's the shambling, stoner-ish Forgetmenot, with solid nachos, pasta, and grilled salad. There's Dimes, which serves excellent California skinny-people food (pick hits: the Buratta, the Harissa Salmon, the Nicoise). There's the smoking-hot–spicy-wise and two-hour-table-waits-wise–Mission Chinese. And now, joining in on the scene is the spanking new outpost of Williamsburg's much-loved fried chicken joint, Pies-n-Thighs. 

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NYC Beer week? Pffffttt… More Like NYC Beer MONTH!

Spring Beer Fest 2014-7402

The official-sounding NYC Beer Week may be just about over–see below for Closing Beer & Brass Brunch details–but remember: you live in New York City! EVERY week can be beer week! And while there is plenty of room for debate about which of the hundreds of beer-centric bars around town are the best (it's good to have a couple of local neighborhood favorites, as well as any number of destination spots up your sleeve), it's also good to know that there are lots of special occasion, beer-themed events going on all the time around town. So by all means drink your fill at Torst in Greenpoint, and The Jeffrey on the Upper East Side, and Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village, and Beer Culture in Hell's Kitchen, and on and on and on. But maybe mix it up a bit too, and check out some of these beery specials going down in March

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Winter Fun at MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 Winter Fun

One of my favorite afternoon art adventures is to head over to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, because it's easy to get to, because the building itself is cool, because it's never too crowded (except during the summer dance party Warm Up!, but that's appropriate), because the M. Wells "cafeteria" is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and, of course, because the art is usually, at a minimum, unlike anything else you see in our other museums. MoMA PS1 is not an overwhelming space, either, so you can easily get through the entire place in a couple of hours. Anyway, I went to PS1 over the weekend, and, as always, had a great time checking out all of the new-to-me exhibitions (that's another thing I like about it; there's no real permanent collection on display, so the entire space is refreshed a few times a year).  

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Danny Bowein’s Mission Chinese Makes Stellar Comeback

Mission Chinese Food NYC's thrice cooked bacon

There have been many, many chefs over the years who, after achieving success and acclaim in other cities, and other countries, have brought their skills to NYC… and then left shortly thereafter, after either a fizzle or a full-on crash and burn, depending upon budget and expectations. Not so the excellent Danny Bowein, whose Mission Chinese Food was wowing San Franciscans for a couple of years before he set up shop on Orchard Street in 2012, and had an immediate hit on his hands, with hours-long waits and stellar reviews all around. Unfortunately, and unwittingly, the building Bowein had chosen for his NYC flagship was a bit of disaster, DOH-wise, and he shuttered the space for good about a year later. So even though I've enjoyed a number of terrific meals at Bowein's spin-off, the great Mexican joint Mission Cantina, like everyone else I've also been eagerly awaiting the re-opening of Chinese. Which has now finally happened and in time for the Chinese New Year. And it is wonderful.

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The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Has Finally Reopened, And It Is Fantastic!

The renovated Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC

For more than six years the Cooper Hewitt, the venerable design museum housed in Andrew Carnegie's almost absurdly magnificent mansion on Fifth Avenue, has been in the throes of on exhaustive, $91 million redesign, renovation, reinvigoration. No part of the old building and its lovely grounds has gone untouched–in fact, the museum's been physically closed since 2011, staging sporadic exhibitions on Governors Island and the United Nations in the interim–so when the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (note new name, too) reopened its stately wooden doors again earlier this month, it was actually a pretty big deal. And I must say, based on a long afternoon spent roaming the newly reconfigured rooms and playing with most of the many interactive touch-screen features, the entire project is a huge success.  

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Beat The Cold With These Two Hot New Ramen Joints In NYC

best-ramen-nyc-ramen-lab-shoyu

Yes, absolutely, I eat ramen all year round, during the high heat of summer, during those cool evenings of our often-too-brief "in-between" seasons", and, of course, right about now as we tromp through the slushes and bitings winds of winter. But if you're more of a seasonal ramen eater sort, the time to get out there is now because 1) it's ridiculously cold, and 2) two more excellent new noodle bars–joining Mu Ramen in Long Island City, which opened right at the end 2014–have entered the increasingly, wonderfully crowded ramen scene here in NYC. I went to both Ramen Lab in Nolita, and Jin Ramen on the Upper West Side (located about 40 blocks south of their original, and still going strong, Harlem spot) recently. Here's the report…

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Happy Chinese New Year! Here’s 6 Family-Friendly Ways To Celebrate In NYC

Six Ways To Celebrate The Chinese New Lunar New Year in NYC.

The Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations always seem to hit at just the right time, when winter's at its most tedious (just kidding, still six weeks to go, it'll get worse!), and everyone's looking for a reason to bust out of the house, head over to Chinatown, and make some noise. But while the big parade will be the highlight for me of the Year of the Sheep (or Goat, or even Ram, depending on who's talking) celebrations, there are always other Lunar New Year activities and festivities going on as well. Plus, of course, the day/week offers a handy excuse to eat a whole bunch of really good Chinese food! As if you needed an excuse. Anyway, here's a quick look at some of next week's Year of the Sheep events…  

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Delaware and Hudson, Williamsburg’s Not-Quite-Hidden Gem Of A Restaurant

Delaware and Hudson Restaurant in Williamsburg

If you're looking to eat a whole lot of lovingly-prepared food in a comfortable setting that, while suitably lively and festive, lacks the shouty air of forced fun too often found in some of the city's hotter spots, Chef Patti Jackson's lovely little Delaware and Hudson is exactly where you should head this winter. Not that this casual Williamsburg restaurant is any sort of big secret, not after earning a Michelin star this fall, and months of glowing reviews from critics and bloggers alike, capped last week by Pete Wells including it on his annual Top 10 Best New Restaurants list for the New York Times. But still, given Jackson's refusal to get too flashy–there are no must-Instragam moments in your meal here, though there are plenty that will linger quietly and happily in your memory–as well as the physical constraints that come with an intimate, bar-less room, Delaware and Hudson seems safe from being overrun by scenesters putting another notch in their bib before heading on to whatever's next.        

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Sweet, Warm Treats and Snow Monsters Invade The Flatiron

Fun In The Flatiron: Peter Regli's Snow Monsters

The Madison Square Park / Flatiron Plaza area is bustling year-round these days, with both tourists and locals alike (not too mention the working stiffs from the surrounding offices) packing such hot spots as Eataly, the still-newish Lego store, and whatever food pop-up or art installation is going on. Of course, it's a bit more pleasant to lounge around in the park when it's not quite so February out–plus the original Shake Shack is still closed for its massive overhaul, with a mid-summer reopening target–but still, apparently there's no slowing down the new treats and entertainments of this place. Witness: Madison Square Park's brand-new Momofuku Milk Bar "Cabin"; and the extremely photo-op-able pack of Snow Monsters.     

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