Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Top 10 Central Park Photos

That through all the overpopulation and difficult decisions New York has faced, that the existence of Central Park never comes into question really says something about the city’s love for our largest nature-like space. And it’s certainly photogenic! Thank you for helping us celebrate it with your photos this month. Scroll down to view the finalists, and then cast your vote for the winner! The poll will close on August 20th.

#1 by Bosse Almgren

#1 by Bosse Almgren

#2 by Carol Garner

#2 by Carol Garner

#3 by Francesco Tamberi

#3 by Francesco Tamberi

#4 by Francesco Tamberi

#4 by Francesco Tamberi

#5 by Gabriela Ciarallo

#5 by Gabriela Ciarallo

#6 by Ilse Neugebauer

#6 by Ilse Neugebauer

#7 by Lesley Rae

#7 by Lesley Rae

#8 by Linda Brown

#8 by Linda Brown

#9 by Linda Brown

#9 by Linda Brown

#10 by Michael Grulois

#10 by Michael Grulois

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Filed under Monthly Photography Contest

Christmas! ….in August

by Louise, Director of Operations

We may be braving some warm, muggy conditions here in New York this week, so it’s always nice to have a reminder that CHRISTMAS IS COMING! Yesterday, a few of us from the New York Guest office  headed up to the Beacon theater for a little preview of what’s to come from MSG/Radio City this holiday season.

christmaspreview1 Our hostess started out by introducing the quintessential Rockettes, who came out and performed a number from the Christmas Spectacular. I’ve never been so close to the Rockettes before, and I have to stay, the way they keep those smiles on their faces while executing insanely complicated dance moves is pretty mind-blowing. After their number, one of the producers and our hostess came out to discuss the Christmas Spectacular, and hinted at a pretty cool sounding new number this year featuring three-dimensional snowflakes that were described as being “about four feet wide.” I’m not sure of the details there…but I know that sounds like something I, for one, want to see in person!

christmaspreview2The next part of the event was by far my favorite. Our hostess brought out wunderkind musical composers Pasek & Paul, who co-wrote the music for last year’s holiday season sensation, A Christmas Story The Musical (click here to read our review from last year). A Christmas Story earned three Tony nominations and is scheduled to return for this holiday season at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Seeing Pasek & Paul is always a treat, and their enthusiasm is as infectious as the tunes from the musical version of this beloved holiday film. They treated us to a chorus from one of the songs from the musical, introduced us to two of the dogs who wreak havoc on the Parker family, and finally brought out Dan Lauria (of Wonder Years fame, who will be reprising his role of Jean Shepherd this year) and new Ralphie Johnny Rabe, to sing Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. The energy of everyone who took part in this segment was so joyful. I missed this show last year, but surely will make it this time around!

The event closed out with a preview of a brand new Rockettes show that is coming to Radio City in spring of 2014, called New York: Heart & Lights. From what we saw (and we were lucky enough to be among the first people to see anything from this show!) It will be a true celebration of everything New York City, with eight huge production numbers from the Rockettes and a story about discovering NYC. You surely want a chance to be among the first to see what will most likely become another iconic annual offering from Radio City – so mark your calendars for April 2014 and book your trips early!

Speaking of booking trips – are you thinking of coming to NYC this Christmas? Then you should read Louise’s Top Three Tips for a Spendthrift’s Christmas in New York:

1)      Travel after December 17th and before December 28th

You’ll avoid the high rates for “shopper’s weekends” in early December, and get out before the New Year’s Eve rate jumps. And you’ll see the most magical of the magic times.

2)      See a morning or late night performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The most expensive times to see RCCS are the traditional “theater times” – matinee performances at 1 or 2 or evening performances at 7 or 8. There are, however, usually performances at 9, 10 or 11 AM, and performances at 9:30 or 10 PM. These are your best bet for good seats at low prices – and what better way to start or cap off your Christmassy day?

christmaspreview33)      Do the Double Decker Bus

Don’t let the potentially cold weather dissuade you – double decker buses are still an awesome way to get around the city. The Gray Line buses are covered and heated in the cold, and the 48 hour package gets you access to basically the entire city, plus the evening tour of the best Christmas lights in Manhattan!

Using these tips you can book a two night stay in Manhattan with double decker bus tour access and Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets for under $400 per person including taxes & fees – and that’s what you would spend per night on just a hotel room in early December!

Ready to book your Christmas in New York getaway? E-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com and I’ll be happy to help!

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Filed under Broadway News, New York Sightseeing, New York Travel Deal, NYC Icons

Soul Doctor: Journey of a Rockstar Rabbi

by Tara, New York Guest Concierge

souldoctorI recently went to go see the new Broadway musical Soul Doctor which tells the story of Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach. I did not know much about him before the show other than he had been considered controversial by some and had performed with several musicians throughout the 1960’s. From the opening of the show, one would feel as if they were stepping into a 1960’s rock musical, reminiscent to Godspell, Hair, or even Jesus Christ superstar, but after the opening number, it begins with a more serious tone in the 1940’s and Schlomo’s childhood during World War II. One of the more traumatic though poignant parts of the show is when a man sings to young Schlomo about letting music into his heart and sharing it with the world and is then shot by an SS officer for singing.

souldoctor3

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Perhaps the best scene of the show comes when Schlomo first meets Nina Simone, who does a soulful rendition of “I Put a Spell on You”. They talk about their lives and their differences but also their similarities; the persecution of Nina and her family in the south shares a commonality with the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust when they reveal that each of them had seen their family houses of worship burn down.  From this friendship we see the emergence of Schlomo and his rekindled desire to let the music into his heart and share it with the world.

souldoctor4

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

The story then moves along, shifting from Schlomo’s life as a rabbi and as a musician and the conflicts that this causes, as he tries to encourage modern day teenagers into following his old and traditional religion. The relationship with his father and his lifetime teacher become threatened as he tried to find where he belongs. He argues with his father that although his father wants him to become another Moses, he just wants to be Schlomo. In order to fulfill his dream, Shlomo travels to San Francisco to open the House of Love and Prayer, his own temple, to try to bring disenchanted youth back to Judaism. The subsequent scenes contain some of the most joyous, festive, catch music that Shlomo created during his career.

A family loss causes the rabbi to return home and face his family, and upon returning to the center finds that it had become overrun by drugs (thanks to a cameo by Dr. Timothy Leary). In response, Shlomo rounds up the group for an inspirational trip to try to bring them back to religion and righteousness. The show finally comes full circle with a call from Schlomo’s old friend Nina Simone, who invites him to sing with her in Vienna, the place he had grown up and was sent away from during the Holocaust.

souldoctor2

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

This show is performed in one of the smaller Broadway theatres, and the performers do a wonderful job of keeping the audience included in their festivities. Despite some serious topics there are some jokes and laughs throughout the show with great quips and a little Jewish humor. I’d recommend the show to those that were fans of Schlomo Carlebach, interested in religion, or even fans of inspirational music. 

For more information and tickets e-mail us at info@newyorkguest.com!

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Cronut Crazy

by Tara, New York Guest Concierge

After reading so much about the delicious dessert that had taken the city by storm since May, I decided to use one of my days off to finally get my hands on one of the sweet must haves of the summer. Being no stranger to waiting in line for hours on end (from free concerts to standing room tickets to meeting celebrities at conventions) I figured it was worth a go, especially for something so delicious!

cronut1My journey to the Dominique Ansel Bakery began at 5am. Multiple sites recommend getting there before 6:45 to make sure you get one before they sell out. On average they make around 250 a day and only 2 cronuts are allowed person. I arrived at 6:30 and could see the line as I exited the Spring Street stop which already reached around the corner from the bakery. I counted myself 89th in line. There were many different types of people on the line; guys in business suits, families, interns, tourists, even two young girls playing card games on a blanket. By the time my coworker arrived ten minutes later 20 people had already lined up behind me. I would have liked her to join me, but an argument I witnessed minutes before between a man who had come to meet his friend in line and a man that had lined up behind them showed me that this kind of thing is frowned upon, so she had to go to the back of the line.

cronut6Over the next hour and a half several people would walk past and ask what the line was for (each one gave a confused or incredulous face when they were told we were waiting for the cronut), one even walked by and referred to us as “Cronies”, which I’m guessing is the name of the cronut fans. Several people (including myself) got out of the line just to take pictures of how long the line was.  Finally 8 o’ clock came and the line began to move along, the workers came out from time to time to move us to free the sidewalk and to answer any questions. They had also come out with a plate of treats, but I’m lead to think that they were only for the front of the line as I didn’t get one. I found out that the bakery had made 325 cronuts to sell for the day, but also 200 for their preorders (which you don’t have to wait in line for if you are lucky enough to get through to call in Monday mornings) and also 600 for a segment they were doing for the Jimmy Fallon show. They only let in around 15-20 people at a time, so even though they opened at 8, I did not get in until 9am.

When you finally reach the doors, which at cronut5this point felt like the golden gates, Mr. Ansel himself is there to hold open the door for you. The shop really is on the small side like most bakeries (even Cake Boss’ Carlo’s Bakery is on the small side!) so to have a limit of 15-20 people makes the atmosphere much less hectic than the outside line. The workers at the bakery could not have been nicer and treat you as if you are visiting on a nice relaxing day (as if there was not a huge line of over 100 people outside). They also had some classic rock piping through to create a very nice vibe. We were ushered to the back of the bakery where there is a window so you can see the chefs baking and preparing. I watched as they used pastry bags to inject cream and the blackberry goodness inside. They are then brought to the front where the icing and small sprinkle of lime was added.

cronut2My time at the register finally arrived and in addition to the cronuts I had also ordered the frozen smore which I had also read about online. The frozen smore is a giant marshmallow that holds a center of vanilla ice cream and chocolate. The marshmallow is placed on a hibiscus stick and then burned to order with a torch. (To answer your question, YES! It is as delicious as it sounds. )

cronut3Sadly, by the time my coworker reached the bakery she had run out of time and had to leave for work, so she only had time to purchase a coffee and a DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann). I decided to do the right thing and give her one of my two cronuts to which she traded her DKA. When she left I went into their back garden; they actually have two, one air conditioned, and one outside. I wanted to save my cronut for home so I enjoyed the frozen smore and the DKA. They were both delicious and surprisingly available without having to wait on the long line (which is only for the cronuts). The smore was a lovely gooey, cold, and sweet bite all rolled into one and the DKA reminded me of the flavor of the old pretzel butter cookies with the sugar “salt” that would come in the blue tin (which were always my favorite) but of course it was so much more fresh and delicious. As I told a friend, you could taste the butter, sugar, and love. There were a few birds in the garden as well; I shared a bit with one and felt for a few minutes as if I were back in Paris. I was amazed that despite this bakery’s newfound popularity they are still able to keep this relaxed atmosphere. As I left with my golden box The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun was playing and Dominique Ansel held open the door for me and thanked me for coming; which could not have been a more perfect ending.

cronut4After all that the big question- How was the Cronut? Was it worth waiting for? Is it really like taking a bite out of Heaven? A resounding yes! Though it may seem silly, it felt good to finally hold the thing that I had wanted and waited for so long. The cronut as a whole was fresh and delicious and the little bit of lime added just the right amount of tart to the blackberry. I’m excited to try the August flavor… coconut!

Tips and tricks:

  • Do your research, check out yelp reviews and also the Dominque Ansel Website http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/ It’s also good to know what you want to get before you get inside so that the lines move along and the people in line behind you are less likely to be feisty. (I HIGHLY recommend the Frozen Smore and the DKA)
  • Get there early! Especially if you plan to go on a weekend. Plan for 6-6:30am, some even get there for 5am.
  • Be sure to bring a book or something that can keep you entertained for 2 or more hoursGet there as a group; you cannot meet up with friends already in line and friends cannot meet up with you; from what I have witnessed this is strictly enforced by other people on the line.
  • Visit the garden in the back; after waiting for hours to get inside you may as well, it’s like a little Paris café within SoHo.
  • If you’d like a Cronut without waiting in line, they do take 2 week advance preorders on Monday mornings at 11am. It is very difficult and only the lucky get through. Or there is always Craigslist or some that offer a Cronut delivery service, but those often charge around $50-100 per order and also might not be that reliable. Though it is far more rewarding to just take one morning and wait in the line.

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Filed under New York Restaurants, NYC News and Information