National Geographic: The Best Holiday Treats in NYC

Holiday cranberry doughnut from Doughnut PlantI had such a wonderful day writing/researching this piece for my Urban Insider blog on National Geographic - The Best Holiday Treats in NYC - with stops at Jacques Torres, Sarabeth's, Doughnut Plant and Mile End Deli. I loved getting to know chefs and restaurant owners and why they love being in New York and creating food for New Yorkers. 

As many of you are, my heart is broken for those who lost their children and family members in Newtown. I think Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo, one of my all-time favorite reads, gave a short yet poignant tribute here in A Moment of Silence.

Friday Links to Love, With New York City Food Gifts!


Photo: From when I made chocolate treats with Jacques Torres!

I recently gave my aunt a thank-you-for-letting-us-crash-at-your-house bag full of NYC foodie gifts, things that are from New York or the Hamptons.  I added a Dean & Deluca mug and NYC postcards.  I really want her to come visit and am hoping they entice her to come sooner rather than later! 

For future gifts, I made a list of NYC items that are easy to ship or pack for out-of-town relatives and friends:

  • Tate's Bake Shop cookies from Southampton, NY: Addicting! And if you find yourself in the Hamptons, you can visit the bake shop that started it all. They have nice holiday cookie packs too.
  • Jars of Hamptons Honey: Delicious honey for your tea from Southampton, NY
  • Fat Witch Bakery Brownie Mix: At Chelsea Market and on some grocery store shelves
  • Sarabeth's Jams: One of the city's great brunch spots
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate: I had a wonderful time making chocolate with Jacques Torres himself a couple of months ago. The DUMBO outpost is great. 
  • Jars of Rao's pasta sauce: The vodka sauce is the best jarred sauce you'll ever taste. So if you can't get into Rao's (someday I will), you can buy the sauce. 

So it will come as no surprise that one of the links I loved this week was a slideshow from SeriousEats with gifts for NYC food lovers! Their list had more perishable items (cheese, bialys, pastrami) on it but it's a nice round-up.  SeriousEats slideshow

More fun links: 

  • From The Huffington Post comes a cool video of Washington, D.C. at night (time-lapsed shots)
  • This week, NASA announced the discovery of the first EARTH-LIKE PLANET outside of our solar system and that all the components are right for life: "Such planets have the right distance from their star to support water, plus a suitable temperature and atmosphere to support life." Too bad it would take us 600 years to get there IF we could travel at the speed of light.
  • A great piece from The Atlantic on how growing food organically, without cancer-causing chemicals, can actually double or triple crop yields and feed more people in a better way: Organic Can Feed the World
  • This hotel freak loved drooling over Conde Nast Traveler's picks for Most Gorgeous Hotel Bathrooms (I love the Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in New York)

Behind-the-Scenes with NYC Chocolate Icon Jacques Torres

Stopping at Jacques Torres if you come to NYC is a travel must.  I wanted to share this piece I wrote for SeeJaneFly about a wonderful behind-the-scenes look I got with Jacques Torres last week, famous in NYC for his chocolate stores. 

"Before I was a New Yorker, I came to visit the city for a cold February week. I wandered over the Brooklyn Bridge and the snowflakes started to fall. I made it over the bridge, shared a pizza with family at Grimaldi's and ducked into the Jacques Torres chocolate store on Water Street. As the snowflakes swirled harder outside, I sipped Jacque's famous Wicked Hot Chocolate that has a dash of chili peppers for spice. It was pure New York chocolate magic. I have loved Jacques Torres chocolate ever since and was so excited when I was invited to a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making his creations and what he'll offer for the holidays. The man himself would be there.

Jacques landed in the U.S. from his beloved France in 1988 to work for Ritz Carlton. He quickly moved on to Le Cirque, that fabulously famous Manhattan restaurant that serves delectable dishes to an A-list crowd. He opened his DUMBO store in 2000 (before DUMBO was uber cool, I have to add), a lifelong dream that grew to incorporate 4 more stores in New York City and one at Harrah's in Atlantic City.

I stepped into Jacques Torres' Hudson store, which is a ten-minute walk from my apartment, but I had never really explored. It's expansive and a perfect place to meet a friend for hot chocolate, with lots of tables. Everyone can see the chocolate being made behind the glass walls of the store but we were ushered behind the walls."

Read more on SeeJaneFly

Jacques Torres Chocolates

My good friend Shannon recently stopped in New York on her way back home to Dubai and we walked for miles, ate great food, and caught up!  One of our stops was Jacques Torres Chocolates on Water Street in Brooklyn, the original location of the famous shop.  On my very first visit to Jacques Torres, I sat with a cup of their hot chocolate and watched a blizzard rage outside.  With Shannon, winter was rearing the last of its ugly cold and we were able to warm up.  It's one of those classic Brooklyn spots, and I love that it's surrounded by crumbling warehouses, cobblestone streets, and shops of DUMBO (meaning Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).