Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Meet the Siblings

We all know that meeting his or her parents can be nerve-racking, especially around the holidays. But, if her sis is her BFF or his bro is his role model, meeting the siblings of the one you’re dating has some seriously high stakes. And if your sister is like mine, she is one tough, judgmental, protective, sassy (but pretty) cookie.

It’s going to make a world of difference for your relationship and every occasion - from holidays to vacations - will be so much better if you’re buds. So make an effort at a good first impression by genuinely trying to get to know them. Win over your lover’s sibling with these tips (and your natural charm, of course).
(Summer photos with my sister Sami)
Do your research. This seems obvious, but make sure you ask your significant other details about their siblings before you arrive at their door. Are they still in school? What are their interests? Is there something that they absolutely love or absolutely hate? Starting a conversation will be easier when you’re first introduced, such as “Sarah has told me all about your fear of deli meats. How did that even start?” or “It was great to hear you got offered a scholarship for NYU. Congrats!” It’s important to show you remembered and care about something your other half has said about them.

Ask (a lot) of questions. No matter who you’re meeting, remember that people love to talk about themselves. So get their siblings chatting away! This not only makes them happy and comfortable, but it takes some of the attention away from you, so you can spend less time having to divulge your family issues or lack of a good new job.

“Monkey See, Monkey Do.” Notice how the siblings relate to each other: Do they tease? Are they affectionate? Try to imitate this behavior, without stepping over any boundaries or inside jokes from 1995.

Give them their space to be siblings. There’s nothing like the bond between brothers and sisters. Respect their relationship. Let them do their thing, while you hang on the sidelines for a bit.

Don’t try too hard. If you behave like you need to win their approval it might get awkward. Talk to them like you’d talk to a new friend or coworker. Be friendly.

Don’t be clingy. Try to find time to chat with the sibling without your significant other holding your hand (or even in the same room). Make it known that you’re interested in actually making a connection and starting a relationship of sorts with them. This also shows that you're independent and don’t need to rely on their sibling to get through your everyday life.

Take the PDA’s down a few notches. While you do want to show the siblings (and the whole family) how much you care about and love him/her, any behavior that borders on too sexual will be creepy. A handhold is sweet, a touch of the lower back is intimate, a quick kiss is romantic, but anything more is a no-no in front of the sibs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Manhattan’s 6 Best Bars For Foodies


These days, most New Yorkers are self-proclaimed “foodies.” From bloggers to anyone with an Instagram account - Manhattan is filled with people who live to eat. When you’re in the mood for a cocktail, but want more than a bowl of bar nuts to satisfy your foodie cravings, visit a bar fit for the ultimate foodie. 

Check out CBS New York for my article on Manhattan's 6 Best Bars for Foodies. xo

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Date Night Deal at Cucina di Pesce



There's something special about New York City Italian restaurants that make every hopeless romantic swoon. Maybe it's the sexy European ambiance, sensual food or frankly, just good red wine. 

Cucina di Pesce, an East Village Italian restaurant loved by locals, might spark a bit of passion as one of the best date spots downtown. With a deliciously affordable menu, friendly waitstaff and cozy atmosphere, you may just fall deeper in love with your date by the end of the meal.

Cucina di Pesce is now declaring every Thursday "Date Night"! Make a reservation asap to enjoy any two appetizers, any two entrees, any dessert and a bottle of house wine for only $60, plus tax and tip. This is a steal for a date night out in Manhattan! 

From homemade pastas, like their creamy Seafood Lasagna (shrimp, scallops and crab meat in marinara) to the Whole Fish of the Day, like their should-be-famous Branzino, the menu at Cucina di Pesce offers fresh Italian classics and modern twists on favorites. Whether it's a first date or he's the one, plan your summer romance at Cucina di Pesce on a Thursday night.

Cucina di Pesce. 87 E. 4th St.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The 5 Best Bars Near Central Park


(credit: Boat Basin)

Summer brings picnics, games of Frisbee and romantic midnight strolls to Central Park. Instead of sneaking booze into your cooler to sip on your lazy Sunday blanket, take your crew over to one of the best bars near the famous outdoor attraction.

This downtown girl-about-town may not venture above 14th Street often, but when I find myself in or near Central Park, these are the best bars to relax with wine or sip serious cocktails uptown. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

The 5 Best Coffee Shops In The East Village


Coffee shops wake you up on your commute to the office, cure your weekend hangover and serve as an office for freelancers in the neighborhood. The East Village is filled with 20-somethings, writers and nightlife junkies looking to get their caffeine fix. 

For high quality coffee, free Wi-Fi and delicious snacks visit the 5 East Village coffee shops featured on my first article for CBS New York! xo

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fairway Market Brings Casual Dining to the UWS


When a downtown girl-about-town finds herself far, far above 14th street, Whole Foods is the familiar and most likely place to shop for fresh produce, organic specialties and to grab a quick bite. But, with my first introduction to Fairway Market and the Fairway Market Café on the Upper West Side, I quickly learned that Whole Foods isn’t the only reliable grocery shop and foodie heaven in town.

Earlier this week I was invited to an exclusive blogger dinner at the Fairway Market Cafe and Steakhouse dubbed “Dining with the Masters,” featuring Cheesemonger Steven Jenkins and Sommelier Joshua Wesson pairing cheese and wine alongside a decadent three-course dinner.

Chef Mitchel London, Mayor Ed Koch’s official chef at Gracie Mansion for 7 years, helms the kitchen of the café space, bringing his unique culinary style to a classic menu. Open 7 days a week, the café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and they even offer $1 off beer and glasses of wine from 3-6pm for happy hour.

Tucked away a flight above the market, the café is a bit noisy, so this isn’t the spot to have an intimate date night. But, this is the perfect space to enjoy dinner before or after shopping downstairs or for a quick breakfast before heading into the office.
(Lollipop Lamb Chops with Eggplant Gratin)
The wine and cheese pairing was interesting – who know there were so many types of goat cheese? But the true star of the event was the food that Chef Mitchel London served alongside each pairing. The Lollipop Lamb Chops were tender, accompanied by Eggplant Gratin, with a cheesy melt, making this eggplant far from a healthy vegetable side. 
(Peach Apricot Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream)
For dessert, we indulged in a flaky, buttery tart, filled with sweet fruit and topped with ice cream. Such a great ending to the meal!

If you find yourself venturing away from Central Park, in need of picnic supplies or a casual spot to dine with a guarantee of more than casual food, stop into the Fairway Market Café! 

Fairway Market. 2127 Broadway (at 74th St).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Join Bright Lights, My City on Instagram!


(View from the Seaport)

This spring I finally jumped on the iPhone bandwagon! Yes, it felt very Carrie Bradshaw to be a city girl who is clueless regarding cell phones and the newest (or at least coolest) technology.
(Boozy People's Pops at a roof top event)
Now, you can see my adventures on your iPhone or Android as sarahmshaker!
(Pulled Pork from Mohegan Sun BBQ Fest)
(View from my East Village roof top)
Follow along as I snap shots of tasting menus, city skylines and girl-about-town city fun! xo
(Sunset on the Hudson River)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Donatella Brings More Than Pizza to Chelsea


The New York City pizza scene is pretty serious. Everyone claims they know who makes the best of the best and it’s rare to find two New Yorkers with find the same new trendy shop their favorite. The beautiful Dontatella Arpaia may seem a little intimidating as a judge on The Food Network, but she uses her business sense and talents in the kitchen with chef Jarett Appell to make pizzas delicious enough to be on a top list for thin crust pies in NYC at her Chelsea restaurant, Donatella.

Last week I had the pleasure of dining at Donatella, along with the lovely Donatella Arpaia and fellow food bloggers. Chef Jarett Appell expertly prepared each dish, spoke about his inspirations for new menu items and even shared his secrets to why their pizza is so darn good. 
We enjoyed a taste of their summer menu plus a few menu standards, such as the famous Tomato Braised Veal Meatballs. We spent the afternoon sampling and sharing our meal with the world – tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking and now blogging, of course.
When dining at Donatella, start with some of their light seafood fare, such as Yellowfin Tuna Tartare (with mascarpone and crispy shallots) and Rock Shrimp Crudo (with spicy pickled pepper, panzanella, citrus and basil). These dishes are perfect to get your palate ready for heavier dishes of carb-happy pasta and pizza.

For a pasta course, the Capellini (with fresh tomato sauce, chili, toasted garlic and breadcrumbs) has a spicy kick. The Housemade Pappardelle (with marinated pork shoulder and pecorino) is a savory plate not to be missed for meat lovers.
When judging the true talent of a pizza chef, what better way than to try the standard? The Margherita Pizza (San Marzano Tomato, buffalo mozzarella, pecorino and basil) may be a basic staple, but there is nothing boring about the flavors here! 
For those who love a bit of sweet with their savory, the Montesanto Pizza (roasted apricots, gorgonzola dolce, arugula and vincotto) fits the bill with moist apricots that aren't overly sweet, against pungent cheese.
The standout specialty boasted creme fraiche, jersey corn, spring onions and prosciutto cotto. Corn on a pizza, you ask? Yes, please! Order this special a.s.a.p. before it’s off the menu.
Ice cream sandwich via NY Daily News (I ate mine too quickly for a photo)
Pastry chef Andrea Jarosh presented us with a range of desserts fit for even the sweetest sweet tooth. Her version of an ice cream sandwich - a rainbow cookie with a cake-like consistency held together by homemade vanilla gelato - stole the show. It may just be the best ice cream cookie NYC has seen this year!

While Donatella offers more than pizza, they are setting a standard for gourmet pies with creative twists. Visit Donatella for a leisurely lunch or date night soon to enjoy their outstanding Italian menu along with a casual, yet trendy ambiance.

Donatella. 184 8th Ave.
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