Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Year's at the Paramount Hotel New York City

Here's a clip from inside of the club where we spent our New Year's Eve (2007):

A simple yet savvy starter

If you're having a cozy dinner party, this is a wonderful little appetizer you can serve by itself, or with a green salad.

Get the biggest shrimp you can find, and make sure it's cleaned beforehand. In a hot skillet, warm some olive oil. Once hot, lower hear, and add a little chili powder (to taste), salt and pepper, and two teaspoons of lemon juice, and mix well. Now all you have to do is add the shrimp, one at a time. Leave on each side for about 4 minutes till it turns a lovely pink. Repeat for each shrimp individually, and replenish the mixture if needed.

Voila! To serve it attractively, you might want to try individual sushi plates, like the one in the picture. Since this cooked in the shell, guests might find it helpful to have both a fork and perhaps a steak knife to eat it. I have also served it with a dollop of coriander chutney, which might be easier to find in an ethnic/South Asian grocery or a World Market. You should also be able to find a recipe online. Otherwise just use your imagination.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

America's oldest Pizzeria

If you are in New York City, do not miss the opportunity of tasting some of the tastiest pizza ever made. Head straight for the intersection of Spring and Mott in Little Italy, to savor the deliciousness at Lombardi's. They have a huge sign outside declaring themselves as 'America's Oldest Pizzeria', but you won't care about the authenticity of that declaration after you've tasted their pizzas.

The picture was taken on the 31st of December 2007, and just look at the line! Although the wait was long (50 minutes!), it was well worth it. Lombardi's has tons of atmosphere and it was good to see the locals clamoring for a place in line with bright-eyed tourists, such as ourselves. Nestled amongst gritty tenements , this is a part town which is refreshingly New York compared to the touristy madness of Midtown, so if you've never been down here, make the trip.

Coming back to Lombardi's, we were ushered down to the basement dining room which was a quirky little room, walls adorned with old black and white family photos, classic film posters, or celebrity fans of the establishment. Two of the four walls carry wines to satisfy all tastes. Shirley Bassey and Frank Sinatra blared alternately from the speakers around, their loud booming voices barely audible underneath the crowd who were enjoying themselves tremendously.

Between the two of us, we managed to wolf down a 18" large pepperoni pizza in 25 minutes. Brooklyn Ale added to the wonderful experience. The exquisitely sweet and tangy mozzarella and tomato sauce was like nothing else I'd tasted before. I could never go back to Domino's ever again.

Lombardi's is at 32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012.

Monday, January 7, 2008

How to make it to your Time Square Party!!

You've got the tickets. Whew! Now you hear the ticket clerk say to get there really early, and maybe, just maybe you'll make it. Funny they didn't have that disclaimer on their website when they were selling the tickets! "It's all up to New York's finest - if they want to be a******s, they might not let you in" came back the cheery reply from the clerk.

Things are, I'm glad to say, not that dreary. If you follow a few simple rules. Like many others, we were understandably anxious about whether we could actually get in to our pre-booked party in Times Square, given the entire area starts shutting down from around 4 pm in preparation of one of the world's greatest New Year's Eve parties.

Leaving early is always a good thing. Let's say your party starts around 9 pm. Follow the simple rules to make sure you make it:

  • Listen to the local NYC news on the morning of the 31st, or search online for all information on local transit closures and times. This will form the basis of your journey plan.
  • Leave as early as you can - around 7 if you're staying in Midtown, earlier the further away you are.
  • Don't forget to take your tickets and any associated receipts, and keep them handy! This is what you'll need to show to the police.
  • Get as close to your venue as possible, and then locate the police, and ask them (very nicely) about how to get to your venue. Show them your tickets.
  • If you're lucky, you'll be personally escorted as close to your venue as possible. If he or she's a grouch, excuse yourself politely and locate another officer. Especially one who looks like they're having a good time!
  • Even if you get to your party well ahead of time, line up. If you're with a group of friends, take turns to keep your places in the line, as it might be pretty cold at the time. Speaking of which, wrap up as warmly as you can!
Honestly, this simple approach works. Don't leave for your party at the last minute, because the more people descend upon Times Square, the harder it will be for the police to give you their attention, and they might just ignore your request! You don't want that to happen now, right?

We left early enough and were extremely lucky to have several police escorts walk us to our venue. We were really overcome with their friendliness, and could not believe it when they actually walked us right in front of the ball drop. There were hardly any people congregating there at the time, and we saw the TV and live band crews setting up frantically. The crystal ball was there right at the top of those billboards, glowing brightly. It was surreal.

Though this advice may be a little late, I hope it will come in handy for all those planning to visit the Big Apple next year. I spent quite some time online looking for similar information last week, but was disappointed. And so I hope this helps someone.....