Category: New York

Halloween, as we know it today, is an American tradition, but it actually originated in Ireland.

It was the celebration of, “Samhain”, the transition between summer and winter. The Celtic people felt that October 31st was a time to honor the dead and try to communicate with beloved ones that died.

During the period when the Catholic Church coerced the Celtics into Christianity, it combined it with “All Saints Day” (November 1st) but also heavily encouraged prayer and religious festivities the night before.

So October 31st previously known as “Samhain”, became “All Hallows Eve”. The church even supported “All Hallows Eve” by including it on all calendars, which increased the number of people celebrating it, and soon it became a holiday commonly referred to as Halloween.

Halloween came to America only in the 1800’s, when Ireland suffered many potato famines, and Irish Catholics came to the country. Their traditions changed to accommodate their new land, so the turnips that were used for lanterns became pumpkins and evolved as a “Jack-O-Lantern.”

Halloween became very popular during the 20’s, when American cities began sponsoring costume parties and parades. Finally in the 30’s Halloween became one distinct holiday.

It was first only an adult holiday, but after World War II ended, the population exploded with the “Baby-Boom”, and the holiday extended to children.

In the 90s, “Baby-Boom” children became parents and have truly embraced Halloween. This holiday became one of the most popular holidays in America.



Now that we know the origins of Halloween. Let’s talk about what it became today.

You will think Halloween became a children holiday, where they go from house to house, to “trick or treat” and collect candies.

In the States, adults get a kick out of it, as well. They love to get dressed and party. Besides few people who gets scary or funny costumes, most of the women get sexy ones.

So every Halloween, women fight to find the sexiest costume. The streets are full of slutty nurses, slutty police officers, slutty witch, and slutty pirates. Name the costume and they will make a sexy version.

I personally don’t like to dress up, so when I am in NY, my friends have to drag me to buy a costume. First I thought it was sweet that everybody wanted to get dressed up. Then I understood why it is such a big holiday. Halloween is simply a one night stand holiday without the remorse (as you are dressed up as someone else).

I have to admit the biggest pleasure is to sit at a coffee shop the following morning, and watch all the walk of shames. The sexy bumbling bee walking without one wing and broken antennas or the slutty baby who looks like crashed baby with her make up half gone…

So tell me who regrets most last night?
The kids who ate way too much candy and have stomach aches?
Or adults who drank too much with a massive hangover and basically don’t remember the end of their night?!?!

I am so luck to be in Europe where Halloween isn’t really celebrated, I spent my night on my couch watching TV ;)

What can I say about Beauty & Essex, besides Chris Santos found the best formula to attract people? He took the great Stanton Social concept and put it in a bigger and a better environment.

The formula is simple: great décor, great food and a great crowd.

This beautiful two level restaurant is hidden behind a fake pawn shop. When you enter, your right away gets excited about the atmosphere. Leather coaches with wooden tables, great bar, and a big chandelier that connects the two floors.

Add to the early 60s décor beautiful people, then you just do your best to get a table. Unfortunately, it is one of those restaurants where you have to fight or book way in advance to get a table… unless you agree to eat dinner at 5pm ;)

I went to Beauty & Essex, at their opening week-end (how can I miss that) with my best friend. We of course didn’t have a table so after few drinks at the bar, crashed a couple’s table.

The menu is the same idea than Stanton Social (Chris Santos other restaurant). You have small dishes, tapas style, from all around the world. We chose few dishes to share and taste: the kobe beef carpaccio, the tomato tartare, the lobster tacos, and heritage baby back ribs.

They were all good, not exceptional but very good. The service was also great.

The crowd was composed of a bit of everything. Couples, groups and of course the weekend “bridge and tunnel”. For the “starstruck”, this is a great place to see your favorite stars.

And if you are thirsty for a glass of bubbles; you can simply go to the ladies room, where they celebrate you leaving the place with a glass of bubbles.

To sum it up, Beauty & Essex is a place not to miss. I maybe prefer the food at Stanton Social, but the décor and the crowd makes you forget about it, and makes you an addict ;)

Since I arrived to NY, I have been quite lucky with the weather. Normally I am in search of great terraces in Geneva, who will think I will be doing the same in NY… especially when some terraces are not allowed to be open on specific dates.

Thanks God NY is full of Italian restaurants, and they don’t follow those official rules ;) So with this beautiful sunny day, Lady Fleur and I have decided to check Da Silvano.

This restaurant that opened 36 years ago, is serving Tuscan food and attracts not only the locals but lots of celebrities. The secret? Well to start with delicious food, great service and an amazing terrace.

We were lucky cause we found right away a nice breezy spot to sit. We decided to share an artichoke salad, then we both took pastas. I had the Penne Integrali al Pesto, which is whole wheat penne with basil pesto (trying to be healthy, lol). Lady Fleur took the Spaghettini Puttanesca, described on the menu as Spaghettini “whore style”, tomato, garlic, black olives, capers, anchovies.

They were both incredibly tasty and we finished with my favorite “Torta della Nonna”… miam.

The crowd was a mixture of the hip youth of Greenwich Village, some tourists, some “wannabes” and off course us, the hungry ones.

Let’s take a minute to describe the Greenwich crowd. The boys are young, with hats that look like condoms (but I guess it is stylish) and the girls are even younger, with very long legs and daisy dukes and ankle boots.

One thing is sure they are not eating pastas; or the water in the village has a special power to make them thin and tall… not very sure.

But one thing is sure, fashion or not, they should all wash their hair, and iron their clothes. I thought the grunge look was so last year, what happened? Did I miss the memo?

The service was great. Da Silvano himself came to check if we enjoyed our lunch. He fell in love with my bag hook, proposed me 100 usd for it. Then later when I tried to give him back his money, he wanted to purchase my necklace for 200 usd.

So maybe that is the secret of Da Silvano, you go there, you eat and you leave with money… especially when the hook and the necklace cost in total 55 usd, and almost left the restaurant with 300…

What can I say, besides, will go back and this time bring more accessories to be able to pay my rent;)

This year I have spent Easter in NY. Lack of my niece and nephew no egg fight, no egg hunt… but guess what? Easter brunch!!!!

To keep the good habits we decided to go to Westville, my favorite brunch spot in NY. This restaurant has two locations. I only go to the one in Chelsea. It is our spot with my boyzzzz. This time lady fleur joined us, as well.

As usual we shared the yummy dishes from the market. Grilled artichokes and fennels, brussel sprouts (don’t say “beurk”, I became addicted), and grilled zucchini with tomatoes and mozzarella.

Then I ordered my usual Sunday brunch fix: eggs benedicts with a side of crispy bacon. I am sure you all know this dish, but for the ones in the unknown of this dish, it is poached eggs on bread with hollandaise sauce on top. Everybody can do poached eggs; the secret is the hollandaise sauce. I think at this point I can write a “Zagat” of good and bad hollandaise sauce in NY. And the one at Westville is simply delicious.

No need to say it is very light… But believe me, it is worth every calorie of it.

The pictures will be added next week, as I forgot to take them, oops… I guess I was really hungry.

After our lunch, we hit the J&R Terrace (the amazing roof terrace of my boys) to play cards under the sun. Did u ever hear of this game called Americano? In Turkey everybody knows, for the rest of the world it is a kind of rummy, but to be able to open your hand each game has a different rule.

I think from far it is the most addictive card game… ask lady fleur who is infected and dreams about playing again.

We played for 4 straight hours, with some white wine and vodka, some food to nibble, and a helicopter in the sky. I guess it was there to film the NY Easter parade… or they were curious about our game, and stayed there to understand the game, lol.

Between you and me, they must have been confused, because of the weather changing we started at the terrace, continued inside to finish at the terrace…

Overall, best way to spend the Easter Sunday, no egg hunt, just tanning, playing cards and drinking with my peeps!!! And I am the Spring Bunny, so who needs the Easter Bunny anyway ;) ))))

Now that I talked about the health clubs in Geneva, let me write about NY health Clubs.

In the city you have three main clubs, “New York Health & Racket Club”, “Equinox” and “Crunch”.

When I used to live in the city, I had my gym in the building so had my trainer who would come to help me workout.
I visited once the NYHRC, and managed to subscribe without knowing… Imagine my shock when two years later I received a letter saying that they couldn’t get my monthly payment as my cc has expired. It seemed surreal, as I have never given them permission to use my credit card.
For my defense I had given a cc number (in case I wanted to enroll) that I was never using, and was directly paid in Switzerland.
Anyway, after several heated phone calls, and email where I proved them that I never accepted to apply to their gym, they reimbursed me… and banned me for life from their gym.

Now that I have a foot in the city, I wanted to go to Tracy Anderson studio in Tribecca. The ones who didn’t hear about her, she used to be Madonna’s personal trainer, and now is working with Gwyneth Paltrow and Shakira. Her new A list client is Jennifer Lopez.

Her method reminds me of Jane Fonda’s dance classes with other original workouts. I love her energy, but don’t think her DVD’s explain you well how to follow her…happy that no one saw me trying to do it.
Her studio is very tiny and packed and no AC, and the membership fee is higher than an apartment rent in the city. Seriously you have the option, either invest in real estate or in Tracy Anderson studio (and you can her class once a week if she is in town)
I decided to pass, because not worth it to spend that much for a gym that I will use only 6 months a year.

I opted for the next best thing, Equinox. They have great classes and locations all around the city. For someone like me who doesn’t have a fixed address yet, it is ideal. Wherever I live, I can find one nearby.

I tried few classes; very interesting after Geneva health clubs. So much variety, I did some yoga, where in a HOOOT room, you do things with your body that nobody shouldn’t do (and pay the consequences after).
I did some dance classes where I danced the Zumba, and I have been “Calvinised” (class designed by a dancer called Calvin, who kept using words that I didn’t understand and perform moves that I couldn’t do).
I spent the class feeling like a hippopotamus in a room full of glasses and laughing at myself. Move away black swan there is a pink hippo in town!!!
Thanks God I did the Hip Hop class, where I knew how to shake my booty and have the 50 Cent attitude.

The classes are clearly much better in the States, but there isn’t a big respect for the hygiene. These ladies will come with their street shoes in the classrooms, and won’t mind to bring the street dirt. I guess my Swiss side doesn’t honestly accept that…

Ohh and ladies, great venue to watch cute boys… I needed help to close my mouth when I saw all these men working out with bodies to die for… I know I know most of them are gay, so what???? I can still look and it for sure brings my cardio up a notch ;)

I asked for a snow storm and had a snow blizzard…. No snow can stop Nat, unfortunately, this time it froze the streets, stopped the cars and the train, and it was humanly impossible to walk. I tried to get a cab, and in less than 10 minutes, I became a snow woman…

So decided to stay in, and attack the streets the following day.

The initial plan was to do Madison Avenue and check out their sales…. With the snow and all, we decided to go to Saks Fifth and spend the day indoors.

When I left the apartment to try to get a cab; I felt the day after the end of the world… 10th avenue was under the snow, but empty.

Imagine, a burnt cab on the side of the road, one or two courageous car driving slowly, and besides me only few people on the streets. I thought I was in of the scenes of “I am Legend” and waited to hear “cut” from the director before I met Will Smith ;) Unfortunately, that was not my movie.

In the meantime, a car stopped and asked me if he can drop me somewhere, and seeing my hesitation told me: “don’t worry; I am not a mass murderer”. Well that’s reassuring isn’t it, cause they normally wear a label saying “be aware I will kill you soon”.

Finally, found a cab and picked up the ladies, and we went to Saks Fifth Avenue. Due to a lack of employees (everybody was blocked home) the store was closed until noon, so we did the next best thing… went to Rockefeller center across the street to have breakfast.

I sincerely never advise you to eat at “Rock Center Café”. We arrived at 11.03 am, and the girl at the entrance told us breakfast is over at 11am, we said so we will have lunch. Guess what, lunch starts at 11.30, and they cannot seat you because they are going to organize the restaurant. Oh did I tell you there were only two tables full at the restaurant?

I guess this is what happens when you put a girl with an inferior complex on a power trip at the entrance…. Anyway, I wished we could have read the signs that Gods send us, and not go back to have “lunch”. Bad food, bad service. The highlight of my experience: the busboy tried to explain me what a lemon is and how I should use it). Ohh and my lucky sister had a hair as an extra in her dish….

Thanks God Saks Fifth opened at noon, so we didn’t stay that long in one of the worst restaurants of NY….

Like most of the cities in the world, every store closes on December 25th in New York. The good news is, the sales start on the 26th. Some leading stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s have intensive sales for few days.

For me to go to Macy’s, I need to be forced at gunpoint. It is so big, and there are so many people, that I need an oxygen mask to survive on a regular day, so imagine during the sales….

Saks Fifth Avenue already had no merchandise left since the Thanksgiving sales, and I am not at Bloomingdale’s since the bedbugs decided to use it as their home…

So I started at Bergdorf Goodman shoe salon on the second floor… When you arrive at the floor, you have the feeling to be in a war zone, where women are fighting over shoes that varies between USD 600,- and USD 2’000,-

This is off course when there are no sales, go figure why these ladies shoe shop as if no tomorrow. We know that in Las Vegas, Casinos put a gaz in the aeration system to keep the players awake, so does BG found a gaz to make women want to shop????
I guess it will be another unresolved mystery, but I let you imagine the effects during the sales period!!!

Imagine a room full of women fighting to get a seat to try the shoes on, and the next room filled up with racks of Prada, Chanel, YSL, Louboutin, Manolo and Gucci (all my best friends) divided by sizes. In the middle of this madness, a young boy, collecting the unwanted shoes in a paper bag to put them in their shelf again… All this surrounded by some security guards (in case someone wants to run away with a shoe;) and sales who run like headless chickens to make their well deserved commission.

Thanks God, I have a masters degree in shoe shopping; cause I directly went to get what I wanted, found a sales associate, fought for a seat and adopted few pairs of shoes at 40% discount.

The next step was Barney’s where we first ate at Fred’s (will give you all the details on my next post), then off course went to see their shoe sales. I made a friend at shoe level, and his name is Dejan. Ladies, you have to ask him whenever you want to shop at Barneys. He is the shoe fairy… he will find you shoes and sizes that nobody can, and will always give you an honest opinion.

My shoe shopping day ended because of the snow storm, you know the blizzard that you heard in all the news… I guess it was a message from the Gods to make me realize they were not happy ;) )))

The Iconic Tree Event is the Kick-Off for the Holiday Season in New York. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit for the first time with live and taped performances. This event happens the week after Thanksgiving (November 30th this year), and it is watched by thousands of people on the sidewalks for the event, and broadcast live across the globe.

Everybody believes Xmas is magical in New York. How can we not think that? We keep watching these movies where everything is beautiful and perfectly snowed; where the villains become compassionate and generous, people fall in love, and problems get solved just because it is Xmas….

You hear Xmas carols and see Santa Claus at every corner of the city; and off course, there is always a “real” Santa” among them who helps the poor orphan girl or the misunderstood lovers to get together…

Ohh and let’s not forget the lovers ice skating in Central park or in front of The Rockefeller Center…

Let me tell you the reality…. First of all the decorations are not that spectacular.

The Rockefeller tree? Well it is a gigantic tree, but besides its Swarovski crystal star, it has nothing exceptional. I didn’t see one Santa, or heard one carol… the only thing I saw was tourists…

I love the city, don’t get me wrong but you don’t really feel the Holiday spirit. It is true that most of the New Yorkers who celebrate Xmas leave to join their family, so the city is left among tourists who fascinated by every light, take pictures of everything….

Result, lots of traffic and annoying people…

Most of the restaurants are closed on Xmas Eve, so if you didn’t plan to cook your only option is to order delivery… and as most of the restaurants are celebrating Xmas…. Only Asian food restaurants work.

The night of December 24th, all the Chinese restaurants have a record of deliveries… I guess they should thank Jesus ;)

So voila, if you want to enjoy New York don’t go during the Holidays…. Everything is overpriced and not worth it.

A friend told me that I only talked about restaurants and bars in NY; and that I should maybe talk about the shopping.
Well as you know I tried to make a shopping diet during my stay. The task was very hard; especially when you walk by the shoe section in Barney’s where I relapsed for a pair of Prada… I know I know, but I am not perfect…
And I resisted on Madison Avenue where all my favorite names ask me to enter and buy from them…
But let’s talk about shopping and some tips…

A little hint about Bloomingdale’s as well as for Macy’s: if you are not a US resident, you can simply go to the visitor’s center and get a 10% reduction card. This card is only valuable for the day and you cannot use it with big brands…
Another big hint is if you are like me “claustrophobic” so you cannot take the subway and only can circulate walking or with a cab… There is a cab shift at 3.30pm… so if you are in town, especially Soho, I advise you to jump on one free just before, otherwise you will try to find one for at least an hour… And the cabs that are off duty (when the whole light is on) would only take you if you are on their way…
And if you are in midtown and desperate; hit Park Avenue, to take a town car. They are a rip off and I highly advise you to bargain the price… and accept only if you decide that the last price they gave you is worth being home or at the hotel instead of running with your bags with your feet hurting (and believe me it will hurt with all the walking) for an empty cab fight…
Oh yeah some take the cross town bus and apparently it is good, but I don’t do that…
what you can also do is enter in the first restaurant and have an early happy hour, and start drinking until the cabs are back on the street…
believe me than you forget your hurting feet, sometimes you even forget whom you are….

Another useful tip is when you arrive to Saks Fifth Avenue. The ground floor is the cosmetic and fragrance… I call it the attack floor. What I advise you is to get ready before entering, because if you will be attacked by all the sales people to smell this fragrance or to try that make-up.
If you are weak, they will catch you and not let you go before you purchase few hundred dollars worth make-up… you know the make-up that they applied on you and you think that you are capable to replicate it at home.
It won’t happen… you will end up with makeup that you never use … The other option, and this is for only the trained shoppers, newbies please don’t try… is to ask them to put you make up for day or night depending what are your plans… than leave without buying with the pretext you are already late ;)
And my favorite part of Saks Fifth is the shoe salon, which is on 8th floor (I know they should have put it on 7th …). They have an express elevator that brings you to the shoe Heaven… The door opens and your are mesmerized by the view… shoes… and you see all these women asking for sizes, as if there is no tomorrow… And funnily no network on your cell phone… I seriously believe they do it in purpose, so you cannot call or get a call telling you: DON’T!!!!

You know it reminds me a scene of Taylor Hackford’s movie The Devil’s Advocate; you enter in the room, and the doors close behind you…. You have no choice but signing a pact with the devil… or in this case buy a pair of shoes!!!

Ahh New York and shopping, I can write a book about it… but enough for today. Just to say that I Had a good help for my shopping diet … New York had new kind of visitors… the bedbugs.
These tiny bloodsuckers attacked Nike Town, Abercrombie and even Bloomingdale’s, just to cite few store names that you would want to go and shop… some of the stores closed while they cleaned.
So beside the tourist who didn’t know about the incident, who would stand in the queue in front of Abercrombie to buy their infected clothes… sorry sorry “cleaned” clothes.
Between you and me, who would simply stand in front of Abercrombie?? Don’t people know that they can order online???? Why to suffer hours to enter this perfume infected night club, just to buy a t-shirt made in Indonesia…

Anyway, with or without the bedbugs I love New York… And I love their humor… I think from far my favorite quote of the month was in Times Square saying “In a city that never sleeps, bed bugs work all night”… LOL

As you know Eataly opened few months ago in NY. For the ones who don’t know, or who didn’t read my post on Eataly (shame on you), it is a mini Italy in Flatiron district. You can find all the fresh products, and you can sit in one of the numerous sections to eat those products.
Off course no need to say: you have to pay a lot of money to eat in Italy at Eataly. Someone has to pay back the investors…

The first time, I have tried the meat section, it was yummy. This time wanted to try the fish section. With my friend we decided to sit at the bar, and we ordered grilled fish and some side orders (as the fish comes alone).

She wanted some salad, but they didn’t have; you have to go to the vegetables section. I asked for coffee; but again, I had to go to the coffee section. So basically if you sit at Fish section, you only eat fish and some sides. So think carefully before making your choice…
Or do like my bar neighbors… have appetizers at fish section, than pay to go to pasta/pizza section for main course, and if you want desert, buy it at the bakery section and bring it to the coffee section for your espresso.
Seriously they have to tip the customers instead of the waiters; we do the entire job running from one section to the other one, and on top of it, we pay lots of money for this. Thanks god the food is good otherwise I don’t know why one would go…

Another tip, as we couldn’t make up our mind, we ordered the three side orders that they were offering (5$ each). You have a mini plate where you have few veggies and few potatoes hanging out. Next to me a lady ordered one side dish. Believe me her chard with “invisible” pancetta (cause although it was written on the menu, you couldn’t see them on the plate) was the triple quantity than mine.
And you know me; cannot wait for a good argument, called the waiter and told him “I hope you are not charging me 15$ for the same amount of veggies that you serve for 5$.” The poor boy panicked called me the responsible, who had to admit it was ridiculous and brought some extra chard and potatoes.
Told them this is not right, don’t take your customers for granted, you should be careful the next time. Off course they apologized and said I was right. But between you and me I am sure they will keep doing it.

So in sum, I love the quality of food in Eataly. But paying 100$ for 2 pieces of fish a little plate of side, and 2 glasses of wine is definitely a rip off. And let’s not forget this is the price without the tip…. you have to add a 15 to 20% on it.
Don’t get me wrong, I would understand if I was in a good restaurant were the service was great, but sitting at a bar paying that seems a little crazy.

Again I am totally in love for Eataly; but just to buy the expensive products, not to fight to get a table to eat and pay too much. At least I will cut the cooks salary (as I presume we are also paying that) and the waiters tip and just pay their rent…

Next time that I will see Mario Batali at Eataly with his orange hair and not less orange crocs, I would definitely tell him what I think about it ;)