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NYC Waterfalls

June 26th, 2008 No comments

NYC Waterfalls
4 Locations (Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Piers 4 and 5, Pier 35, Governors Island)
www.nycwaterfalls.org
www.brooklynbridgepark.org

DESTINATION
So the word’s out about this newest art attraction in the city, which they are calling the “NYC Waterfalls”. Just when you thought there was no more excitement to be had in the city, here comes something to entice people’s moods again! These waterfalls could be seen along the harbor (great view of it from the Manhattan side (don’t have any opinions yet through, from the Brooklyn side). Better cease this opportunity before it goes away in mid-October!

ATMOSPHERE
Straight through this “secret garden” (as my colleague calls it – and how rightfully named!) this was truly, one of the perfect spots to view 3 waterfalls at once! – Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Piers and Governors Island. This location definitely transports you away from the true hustle and bustle of the city life and gives you that momentary escape from reality through the tranquil and serene mood that surrounds you while you are there. So, “Where is this is?” you ask. Well…, I won’t spill the “secret garden” location just quite yet (if I did, that would defeat the whole purpose of its name!). Though OK…, I’ll see if I’m in a giving mood later…
So, although today was a very cloudy and windy day, it did give you a different view of how the waterfalls blend in with nature (i.e. how the wind plays with the falls by brushing against it). Though yes, I must (and will) step out during a sunny day and take some newer snapshots and post up for a comparison. (…and I’ll leave the night shots when Frank is there).

ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
Well, there’s no “true” entertainment and activities here, since this is considered more of a sightseeing event than anything else. However, because of the location of where this was being viewed, as a special reward, you get to enjoy the beauty of the garden area too!
Actually, to be honest, when I first stepped foot in, it swept me back to when Frank and I were in Tokyo for our vacation. When we were in Roppongi area, there was a spot outside one of the buildings (near the Mori Tower and TV Ashaii HQ) where it was like a walk-through garden path. It was more beautiful than this one, but wow, it was just a nice feeling to recall. —Sorry, got a bit side-tracked. Continuing on…—
There are a few benches hidden through the mini side paths where you can sit and soak in some peace from the somewhat uptight feel surrounding the financial district area (especially with recent news these days where many of the major investment banks are reporting tremendous loss of all profits due to various write-downs; like Merill for its exposure to bonds issuers, Morgan with its loans/mortgaged-back debts, and so forth). Not an easy time for this cyclical industry…

THE VERDICT
If you are in the downtown area, visiting the Seaport, the famous Wall Street Bull or Battery Park, this is something a little extra to make your visit to the city a bit more special and memorable. Although not a fascinating draw during the day (maybe better at night?), it will make you go “wow” / “cool”, just to see different side to the harbor that was never there before. Hey, it’s free, you have a camera, so why not!

TIDBIT
Alright, so you read up to here. I did give a few hints above, did you catch them? Well, you already know we were viewing from the Manhattan side and down in the financial district (okay, so maybe not the best hints ever, but at least you have an idea of where you need to be). So, okay, in-between the Standard & Poor’s building and HIP building along Water St (I’d say about 2 blocks away from the Ferry), there is an up-escalator that would, seemingly, lead you to the building entrances above. However, it is not! After all my years having been working downtown, I was amazed at what I was seeing! An actual mini garden built on a balcony-like area! With it being perched above ground and the view of the Brooklyn it provides, I’d say it’s one of the perfect (and “secret” spots) to view the 3 of 4 waterfalls! “So, there you have it.” “Now, go and find it!”

6th Annual Snapple Big Apple Barbeque Block Party

June 7th, 2008 No comments

Big Apple Barbeque Block Party
Madison Square Park, NYC
www.bigapplebbq.org

DESTINATION
The 6th Annual Snapple Big Apple Barbeque Block Party is finally underway! Taking over Madison Square Park for the entire weekend, this would be considered a “not miss” event, especially if you want to savor some of the best works from 14 of the Top Pitmasters from around the country. Think of it this way, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a plane ticket out to Texas just to have a taste of the best brisket in town! Just $8.00 will do ya for one plate filled with yummy goodness from Texas’ Salt Lick BBQ stand. For the meat eaters in many of us and more so, the BBQ fanatics within most all of us, this “should” only be the place to be at this weekend (although, sorry, can’t help you there if this is the weekend you are to walk down the aisle or take that darn GMAT exam! Well, actually, all hope is not lost, the event starts from 12pm – 6pm, so there is still a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel!…)
Entrance to Madison Square Park

ATMOSPHERE
Yea, so out of all the 2 days we had, we picked the Saturday to go there, which turned out to be one of the hottest days, ~97F degrees (though really, Sunday wasn’t any better either). Just the previous day (Friday), it was an enjoyable mid 70s. Now, like I was saying to others, if we had temps like Friday on the BBQ days, then it would have made the outdoors more bearable. Though, all-in-all, being this is another one of our “firsts”, this was just exciting overall. Just to be there and to experience life in NYC!


We arrived there at about 12:45pm and it was just amazing to see how many people were already there! Extreme LOOONG lines at the BBQ stands already and all the picnic bench tables lining the sidewalk along the few blocks of Madison Ave were all taken by everyone. I think we needed to arrive at like 11am instead (even though the event starts at 12pm)! Well anyhoo, we were greeted with guys handing out stick fans to all the BBQ-goers (boy, did those come in real handy in this weather!) By the looks of things below, you can see it’s going to be a tough (but good) few hours here.
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Above Pic: Now do u get the jist of the environment?

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Above Pic: Yes, this is an ACTUAL line for one of the BBQ stands.. One of the many familiar looking lines found throughout…

THE EATS
So, like I had mentioned above, there were a total of 14 Pitmasters participating in this event. During our 3 hour stay, we only hit 2 of them:
1) The Salt Lick BBQ (Texas) – This is the first pitstop we hit, primarily because Frank’s friend, Howie, was already on line. I don’t know how long we waited, almost 1 hour? But anyway, finally got our food which was Beef Brisket, 1/2 Sausage and Coleslaw. BBQ from Texas, what can beat that? Well, what I can tell you, I loved the bun they used, nice and soft. They should all be that good. Coleslaw was what it was, coleslaw. Ain’t nothing spectacular with that. As with the brisket itself, pretty good. I guess it didn’t blow me away or anything. I just ate it and that was it.
The Salt Lick BBQ for Brisket, Sausage, & Beans


Brisket & Sausage

2) 17th Street Bar & Grill (Illinois) – Our second and last pitstop (could not bear it anymore out in the blazin’ hot sun). Here, they offered Baby Back Ribs and Beans. Let me tell u, the beans were “OUTSTANDING!”. The best beans Frank and I both agreed we ever had! It was nice and sweet and just plain, “really good!” I am not a big baked beans eater but this, this was something! I wouldn’t mind grabbing myself another plate if I had to! I guess this is TRULY, how baked beans should be made and taste like! I’ve been misled all this time! Well, even though beans are not meant to be the big stars, still, they are quintessential to the whole experience! They are the sides which helps prop up the star of the show! The baby back ribs were pretty “fall-off-the-bone” soft and tasty. Though, have to be honest, we weren’t served with all meaty ribs. There were a few ribs which we got nothing out of, but the other ribs were quite meaty, saucy and hearty, making up for the bony ones we got.
Mike Mills' 17th Street Bar & Grill

Pour Pour Pour!!!

Saved by the free sample of Snapple drinks. They were all pretty good!

IMG 1262


Beans were so goooooooood!!!


In my opinion, I think I enjoyed the 17th Street Bar & Grill the best. The baked beans did it for me and their truly, succulent ribs. Salt Lick was good, but to me, wasn’t all that special/different. Although we only tried 2 Pitmasters, “17th Street, you won my vote!”


ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
Since we were primarily there for the BBQ, we didn’t really get involved with the other ‘happenings’ around there. They had a stage set-up with bands playing throughout the event and the inner park were serving alcohol (for which u needed to stay in the vicinity and were permitted to go outside the perimeter with alcohol. Also, bunch of stalls around with free stuff (i.e. free Coke Zero, energy drink, hot sauce). Enough to see and do I guess.

Can't take alcohol outside of park


THE VERDICT
To go again, yea, why not, just something to do and to add more Pitmasters samplings to our list (probably, we can only do 2 pitmaster per year as we can only do that many before start to feel stuffed.


TIDBIT
Apparently, we did not learn from my previous post on Japan Day.
1) You gotta get sunblock! Otherwise, you will turn into blackened ribs yourself!
2) Also, get there as early as you to avoid the impact of the lines.
3) Bring lots of wetnaps! This will come in handy when u wipe down your hands of the juicy food
4) Bring an umbrella. If you know the weather forecast calls for high humidity and high temps, you will be the smart one with the umbrella, no ugly fashion statement about that now!

Categories: Events Tags: ,

2nd Annual Japan Day @ Central Park

June 1st, 2008 No comments

Central Park
Main Entrance: 99th St & 5th Ave
Japan Day Website

DESTINATION
The 2nd Annual Japan Day @ Central Park was held today. Our first time attending! What lured us was the mention of free food (hey, who can pass that up!) Other entertainments included: Cosplay (which perked our interests ever since our Tokyo trip the previous year) and a Samurai Sword performance. Activities such as origami, calligraphy and even kiddie events should also boost everyone’s excitement of this one day event!

IMG 1091

ATMOSPHERE
The weather was beautiful, perfect for this event (as the previous day we were entertained with thunderous rain!) “Was the park wet and nasty”, you ask? Actually, no, not really. They did a good job covering the main stage area with rubber mats which actually were perforated (with holes). Let me tell you, good thing and bad thing about that one:
GOOD THING: You’re NOT stepping on soggy grounds.
BAD THING: To a typical passer-by, unaware of the pool of water lying underneath and anticipating for your next step forward, you walk your carefree way until – <SPLAT>! – The muddy water comes spewing out through the mat holes and you’re like, “What Da?” To some, they could care less, but to OTHERS (especially those out there wearing open-toed footwear) you get a nice little foot shower! Hey, I should know, I got it good…TWICE!…, while wearing white jeans! (nah, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be, but it was squooshy!)
IMG 1026


Anyway, how about the crowd?! Well, close to noon, there were probably a good couple hundred people found all around the park (fyi: the event started at 10am, with a running marathon held earlier at 8am). Most of the mob were found waiting on one of the five queues offering a free “Taste of Japan” (more on that in the next section). After 3pm, it was a pretty strong turnout, with even longer lines for the free grub, a couple of dozen people found walking around as Cosplay (i.e. a few Pikachu, Naruto, some Maid outfits and others -which I am ashamed to say I do not know what character they are as I am not as young as I used to be-). Overall, not a bad place to spend a Sunday.

P1190351

THE EATS
When we finally arrived to the front entrance, a slew of boxes grabbed our attention. As we got closer, we saw hoards of people grabbing drinks here and there and out in the distant background, you can here a female’s voice announce, “<blah blah blah> Free!” Well, with that “magical” word, we found ourselves immediately on line too! Turns out they were giving away
free cans of Ito En tea drinks (promoted by health expert, Dr. Andrew Weil – his face on the can – with the message to have everyone drink more tea!). These drinks were somewhat of a blessing in that it kept us from dehydrating under the blistering hot sun. However, if u are not a tea drinker, this could turn out to be a punishment for you.

So anyway, 4 flavored-teas were offered:
1) Jasmine White – good/normal. Drinks like the jasmine tea you order when u go for dim sum or chinese, only a cold version.
2) White Green – okay/light in taste. To me, tastes a weee bit watery.
3) Darjeeling – somewhat strong tasting. Not to pleasing for our palettes
4) Gyokuro – another flavor that did not treat us kindly. Sorry to say, but this is one which we could not get the strength to down the entire can.

IMG 1013


As far as food stall goes, this is what was offered (listed in the order of what we conquered):

  1. Mabodon – it’s basically the chinese version of the Ma Po Tofu on rice (spicy tofu with minced pork on rice).
    IMG 1067
  2. Gyudon over Rice – essentially it’s beef on rice. This was okay, beef was very chewy with lots of fat and cartilage attached. Couldn’t really it eat, tossed out the beef, but ate the rice with the sauce. Yum.
    IMG 1077
  3. Curry - from Go Go Curry restaurant. They gave a TON of rice (in our little small styrofoam bowl). It was loaded with tiny shredded beef curry on top. This last dish did it for us. “Stuffed!”
    Go Go Curry
  4. Gyoza Dumpling – did not try but from the looks of others, seemed rather tasty.
  5. Udon Noodle – did not try this either, but heard one young female teenager comment that it wasn’t very good. Though.., this was actually the longest line out of all the food that was served. Then again.., the line may have been the longest since it was near the tent that gave out free tea cans, so it would have been a naturally progression to get on this line. Well, will leave this to someone else to analyze…

ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
We were actually disappointed by the Cosplay act (per the program, it was listed as “How to Cosplay”). It was simply a speaker describing Cosplay with a slideshow scrolling across the big screen. “Auh Shucks!” We were really hoping to see people in actual costumes too! Well, guess settling for those kids walking around the park in Pikachu, Bleach and Naruto outfits will just have to do.
Hello Kitty & Sandra Endo
Cosplay Pikachu
IMG 1079

The most interesting entertainment/activity they had was a tent of a robotic female humanoid. Quite life-like and they gave the audience the opportunity to interact with her by asking her questions, which she appropriately gave good responses too. Hmm, the futuristic world of the Jetsons doesn’t seem too far-fetched anymore..
Actroid: Real Humanoid Robot

THE VERDICT
Great free food and drinks (though, by day’s end, our arms were toasted by the sorchering sun).


TIDBIT
Make sure to bring and apply sunblock next year!

Categories: Events Tags: ,