Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Poké Restaurant in New York City

Standing on the corner of Third Avenue and 38th street -- a part of New York City I could call my virtual home -- I stared at a curb sign declaring “Sons of Thunder” with an arrow pointing east on 38th. It was barely 9 am and I hesitated following the arrow, wondering if this was some after hours club that forgot to take down their sign. (I hadn’t bothered to read the rest of the sign: poké.)

For those not in the know, poké is the ubiquitous Hawaiian thickly sliced, raw fish side dish that’s typically served atop rice with a soy-based or other sauces. It can be found anywhere and everywhere on the Hawaiian islands, from convenience stores to gas station markets.

That morning, I ended up circling the neighborhood, doing errands, and, intrigued by the curb sign, made my way back to 38th Street where I met John and his brother James, the delightful owners of Sons of Thunder, a name referring to a childhood nickname for the brothers.

James told me, “The idea for the restaurant was for it to be like a Hawaiian beach shack serving burgers, and chili dogs; poké would be a special." (The Hawaiian theme is a result of their grandparents emigrateing from South Korea to the U.S. via Honolulu; much later the family moved to San Diego.) But because of an unforeseen problem with the gas lines, Con Ed couldn’t turn on the gas for awhile. That meant no grilled chicken, burgers or fries. So it became poké all the way. “It was a blessing. If we had had the gas, we would never have explore it,” said James.

Yes, the menu is limited for now, but it’s a yummy one. (You can choose from among salmon, ahi tuna, steamed octopus or tofu.) My favorite dish is the salmon tostada made with chopped sashimi grade fish, baby greens, avocado and chili dust served on a warm corn tostada  that’s drizzled with baja salsa. Another dish -- it’s not on the menu -- is a bowl of brown rice and house-made beef chili paired with edamame, diced tomatoes, warm cheddar cheese sauce, onions and avocado slices. (If you're really hungry or if you stop by with a friend, order both.)

The brothers are very much attracted to a green ethic. Their ice cream is organic and locally sourced. The salmon is shipped in from the Faroe Islands -- yes, you heard right, all the way from the pristine Faroe Islands [you gotta love these guys] -- where the fish is farmed sustainably in its natural habitat using no chemicals. They have one white and one red wine on tap -- I prefer the bright, red berry notes of the red -- from the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Meat eaters clamor for the chili cheese dog -- you can ask for fresh jalapeno for an added kick; or the banh mi dog served with mayonnaise, cilantro and jalapeno.

I prefer eating in since light streams into this sparsely furnished, informal space, thanks to an immense skylight in the rear dining room.

If you’re in Midtown East -- or even if you’re not -- this is a restaurant worth checking out. Even without the grilled items, you’ll delight in the fresh food, the creative preparation and the hospitality of the staff.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Unique New York City Souvenir

How ordinary: a simple wooden cube.  At least that’s how it appears at first. But pull it apart into two pieces, lay these side by side and you’ll be facing the New York City skyline, complete with four of the city’s iconic buildings: Empire State, Chrysler, Flatiron and the newest, the Freedom Tower aka Tower One World Trade Center. And, when it’s back in its cube form, rotate it to view the two empty slots, representing the missing footprints of the Twin Towers.
Referred to as the New York Cube, this hand crafted work of art is the brainchild of Aid Rifatbegovic, an artist in Bosnia who’s noted for his sculpted wood objects. The cube is constructed of different types of recycled hardwoods and softwoods, such as oak, cherry, ash and various conifers. The woods vary from cube to cube; each piece is unique. And this medley of woods beautifully reflects the diversity of New York City. This New York City souvenir is so unique, even native New Yorkers -- like me -- find them appealing.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good Looking Winter Boots With Traction

So here I sit at my home in a New York City suburb where three feet of snow awaits just outside my door. Now three days post blizzard, the streets of the city are swirling in ice water, the bus stops are piled with five feet of snow, and the sidewalks are a slick, slippery mess. People slide and drop to the asphalt around me. But I jog -- yes, you heard correctly -- past ‘em. In fact, on the night of the blizzard when there was a travel ban, turning our frenetic traffic-laden avenues into desolate corridors, I chose to jog a couple of miles literally in the middle of Madison Avenue. Because how often can you do that and do it safely?

I managed to not only stay upright but move speedily down snowy, icy streets thanks to my new IceBug boots that have a special traction technology. (My boot model is the RYUMZ BUGrip.) The traction depends on BUGrip, a trademark name for the numerous (16 to be exact) carbide steel tip studs imbedded in the rubber outsole. The traction system is referred to as dynamic, meaning that it adapts to the surface and the amount of pressure your foot exerts on the ground. (Each stud is acting independently. How cool.)

The boot is so light and comfortable -- it’s lined with fleece -- that it doesn’t resemble any winter boot I’ve ever worn. It rolls well as you walk or job, making it easy for me to stay fit in the winter. And it looks good -- as good as you can look when trying to withstand brutal conditions. I’ve worn them with Merino wool sweater dresses to various networking events and no one had a clue my boots had steel cleats. (They look pretty ordinary.)

I’ve tested the boot on asphalt, ice and snow and found it provided a completely stable grip. But, of course, once I walk indoors across varied surfaces like tile or marble, I had to either walk very carefully or take the boots off. (This is completely expected with steel studs.)

My boot is said to insulate to -4F. But, during the morning of the blizzard when I waited in a snow bank for more than an hour, not only were my feet not toasty, they were quite cool. Nonetheless, standing immobile in a snow bank may be an extreme situation for the IceBug insulating system. Under other conditions, the boots kept my feet comfortable.

As far as waterproofness is concerned, the boot is supposed to be 100% waterproof and breathable. And, while my feet didn’t sweat when I’m wearing them even for 10+ hours a day, there were times -- as I crossed a river of ice water on Park Avenue -- when my socks got wet. (It’s hard to say if the water entered through the slip-on opening or through the fabric itself.)

Despite these caveats, the IceBug now rates as my favorite winter boot. And, if the weather continues to be inclement, I may be wearing them until spring.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Innovative Micro Travel Bag for Women + Men


Tired of toting around a heavy bag that gives you neck and back pain? 

A bag you have to rifle through to dig out just about anything?

A bag that sets you up as a target when you travel?

Or, are you someone who, instead, crams your vitals -- credit cards, money -- into a fat wallet or cell phone case that you have to dig out of your pocket (or bag) where more rifling ensues?

atta-Bag is for those women or men who travel the world or their neighborhood, going from home to work to night spot, who want to be hands free. It’s simple, stylish and low-profile.

This unique uni-sex bag can be worn seven different ways, including over the shoulder, slung low around the waist or looped through a belt. It's a far cry from the geeky fanny pack that can label you as a tourist.

My inspiration for designing this bag came a few years ago after being robbed of all my valuables from my tiny backpack. It was the middle of the day, in a capital city, in front of a popular museum. The perpetrators were very skillful, able to unzip and re-zip my backpack without me feeling a thing and, within 30 seconds, they walked (or ran) away with my passport, credit cards, cash, plane ticket and more.

atta-Bag sells for $65, and 10% of annual net profits will go toward supporting the efforts of She's The First, a non-profit that sponsors girls’ education in 11 low-income countries (including Nepal, Guatemala and Sierra Leone) with the goal of creating first-generation graduates and the next generation of global leaders. (After all, I’m a first-generation graduate of Barnard College, and a former educator.) I couldn't be happier to partner with this inspiring organization that has made it their mission to increase the number of female graduates around the world.

The first samples of atta-Bag have just arrived. For more information on how to buy this innovative travel bag, contact me here.
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