Day Trip to Crown Heights! Check Out Brooklyn Winter Flea and Berg’n Beer Hall

Just because grim winter has now officially settled in for the duration–see you in May, pleasantness!–doesn't mean you can't still spend a nice afternoon browsing through an astonishing array of vintage goods, local crafts, unique jewelry, and then grabbing a Ramen Burger (for example), and maybe a scoop of Blue Marble Salty Caramel ice cream. Oh, and would you like a few interesting beers with that? Yes please. All of this can be yours, every Saturday and Sunday from now through March, at the Brooklyn Flea's sprawling all-indoor Winter Flea, now located in Crown Heights, conveniently in the same building as the Berg'n Beer Hall. Go this coming weekend while the annual Holiday Market is in full effect, and you could probably get all of your gift shopping done in one, warm, wonderful place. 

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The Best Ice Skating in NYC: Six Favorite Rinks

Its a packed rink for ice skating at the Winter Village at Bryant Park in NYC 

Ice skating in New York City is one of those classic, must-experience winter and holiday traditions. People travel far and wide to experience it, but as residents we have the pleasure of enjoying it all winter long and with the luxury of many, many places to go ice skating in NYC. Oh, the choices! If you're not sure where to go ice skating, here's a list of our favorite (free, cheap, and, of course, the best) ice skating rinks in NYC!

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Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection now at the Met

Picasso's Guitar part of the Lauder collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In April of 2013, the Metropolitan Museum of Art giddily announced one of the most extraordinary museum gifts in the history of museum gift-giving. Leonard A. Lauder, of Estee Lauder fame and fortune, was handing over (or offering for purchase) his entire collection of Cubist masterworks to the Met, more than a billion dollars worth of paintings and drawings by the genre's giants, including 33 works by Pablo Picasso, 17 by Georges Braque, and 15 each by Juan Gris and Fernand Legers. Just extraordinary. And unlike many great acts of philanthropy, Lauder's gift to the museum came with no strings attached. Curate and display at will! And so, just about a year and a half later, we have this remarkable exhibition, Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection.  .  

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Gordon and Grimaud at The Park Avenue Armory

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The historic Park Avenue Armory has hosted plenty of amazing installations and performances these past few years in the massive Wade Thompson Drill Hall, from Ann Hamilton's swingsTom Sach's Mars landing, and Paul McCarthy's raunchy Snow White, to concerts by the likes of the xx and Massive Attack, Robert Wilson's staging of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic and a thrilling five-play run by the Royal Shakespeare Company. But now, starting this week and continuing only through January 4, we have what may be the most technically ambitious and quietly spectacular installation/concert series to date, the lovely "tears become… streams become…" a collaboration between Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and renowned pianist Hélène Grimaud. 

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Seven Wonderful Winter Day Trips From NYC

best-nyc-day-trips-winter-windham-tubingThere's always plenty of new and interesting things to do here in New York City all year long–yes, even during those darkest, coldest, grimmest days of late January–even if that just means slurping ramen at that hot new place you haven't tried yet in Long Island City (not a typo); catching up on your Oscar nominees by sneaking into a second (and a third?) movie at, for example, the AMC 25 in Times Square; or getting yourself lost deep inside the permanent collection at the Met. That said, it's also nice to get away from the slush lakes every once in a while and see what the rest of the world looks like, if even just for one a day. Here then, are seven wintertime day-trip adventures that seem worth rousing yourself from whatever stage of hibernation you find yourself in during the coming onslaught of dreary weather. 

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Petee’s Pies, an instant contender for NYC ‘s Best Pie, is now open on Delancey!

Mouth-watering Cherry Pie from Petee's Pies in NYC

You can call it whatever you want: Christmas Season… Hanukkah Season… Holiday Season… but more and more I've come to think of this Thanksgiving-to-New-Years stretch as PIE Season. I mean, I eat slices of pie all year round–as a pastry medium, only cookies can compete, except that you can't really go savory with those–but during this month it seems perfectly acceptable to buy a whole pie and keep it around for a few days, just because it's festive and fun. You know: in case "guests" drop by…?  Which leads me to the brand new Petee's Pies, opened last week on Delancey right near Allen Street, and serving an incredible array of what just might the best pie in town. Right up there with what has been my personal favorite for years, Four and Twenty Blackbirds. I've already eaten three kinds of Petee's Pies, all of which were heavenly, and I'm going back for more as soon as possible.

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Picasso and Murakami: Two Huge, Luxurious Holiday Gifts from Gagosian

gagosian-chelsea-picasso-camera-bathtub

Larry Gagosian, he of the worldwide contemporary-art empire, always seems to get even more extra-lavish in his massive Chelsea galleries right around the holidays, and this year is no exception: there's Pablo Picasso on 21st Street, Takashi Murakami on 24th, and both are truly museum-quality exhibitions, the sort of show that in other (lesser) places would be the lead cultural story of season. I like to pretend that they're Gagosian's holiday gifts to this great city, but of course it's really more about tapping into the hordes of mega-rich tourists hitting town for our most festive season. Either way, though, I always take advantage of the man's "generosity", in awe of all the time, energy (and money) that goes into these huge crowd-pleasers. If you're planning a gallery-hopping afternoon before or during the holiday break, make sure you stop in and check these out. 

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The Best NYC Restaurants for Holiday Dining 2014

The Breslin decked out for Holiday Joy!

There are likely to be a dozen or more nights in the coming weeks–say, now through New Years–where you'll be surrounded by friends and/or family for a delicious, expansive meal. And if you're hosting said meal(s)… well, you know how exhausting (but fun! but exhausting) that can be. Which is why I like to take at least one of the big get-together nights off (for me, that's Christmas Eve or Christmas night) and let someone else do the cooking, and the cleaning, and go out to eat at a favorite restaurant. We usually go to a familiar spot–it's not the sort of meal, with its special menus and such, that's well suited to checking out somewhere new–but in case you want to be a little more adventurous, here are a suggested few of the many restaurants that are doing something festive for the holidays. 

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The Farmhouse Fresh Philosophy at Tribeca’s Telepan Local

An interior of the homey, farmhouse feel at Telepan Local in Tribeca

After spending a dozen years in some the city's best kitchens–Gotham Bar and Grill, Le Bernardin, JUDson Grill–in 2005 Chef Bill Telepan opened his namesake restaurant on the Upper West Side. Emphasizing local ingredients, prepared with a light touch, Telepan received a few solid early reviews (including two stars in the Times), and locals crowd the decidedly un-showy room nightly, but it never really became a destination restaurant for downtown food-lovers. Welcome, then, Telepan Local, the chef's new rustic-chic spot serving "casual, tapas-style American fare" that just opened in Tribeca.

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NYC’s 6 Best Holiday Markets

 

An aerial view of the Union Square Holiday Market

There are obviously hundreds of great places in this amazing city where you can find exactly the right gift(s) for your friends and loved ones this holiday season, from boutiques to big boxes, chain stores to pop-ups. Another increasingly ubiquitous option, and one especially well-suited for the procrastinators among us: the so-called Holiday Markets, which ten years ago numbered one or two in all of NYC, but can now be found, in various guises, suddenly appearing in neighborhoods all over town. And although all have different vendors (for the most part), the mix of hand-crafted items, vintage finds, and themed gift "shops"–also: plenty of food–remain pretty consistent no matter where you wind up. Most important, all really come in handy when you need some inspiration. Here's a look at six that stand out.

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