One Degree from Kevin Bacon at the Vulture Festival 2017



We share New York City with a lot of celebrities, which means on any given day you might run into Jonathan Groff on his way to Hamilton (which I did!). Or you might find yourself waiting​ in line behind Famke Janssen for your takeout (which I also did!). And you might spy Michael K Williams in your subway car (yup, totally happened). I even walked by George Lucas on his way to Starbucks. (No judgment, George.)



One Degree from Kevin Bacon Vulture Festival 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of Vulture Festival
One Degree from Kevin Bacon Vulture Festival 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of Vulture Festival

It might be a little silly, but I read a long time ago that John Lennon loved how New Yorkers were always so relaxed around him. He captured that sentiment in the lyrics of his song, New York City:

Well nobody came to bug us,
hustle us or shove us
so we decided to make it
our home

So I always try to give the celebrities their privacy. I usually make crazy eyes at Justin to alert him (just so he can vouch for me when I tell the story), then furiously text all my friends. But bottling up my inner groupie is an effort. So once a year, I get pretty excited about letting my freak fangirl fly at the Vulture Festival.

We attended the Vulture Festival last year too, so you can read a little more about what it’s all about here. This year we had a couple of events lined up, the first of which was an interview with Kevin Bacon.  



One Degree from Kevin Bacon Vulture Festival 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Kevin Bacon and New York City

Kevin Bacon’s career has spanned many years and covers the stage, the small screen and the big screen. Everyone has a favorite Kevin Bacon movie, and because his range is so wide, it’s rarely the same one. He’s a die-hard New Yorker, and I’m not saying that because he’s lived here since the age of 17. When asked about his favorite restaurants, he refused to divulge them because then they would get crowded.  Classic New Yorker move.



One Degree from Kevin Bacon Vulture Festival 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

One Degree from Kevin Bacon Vulture Festival 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Kevin Bacon and Fame

The interview was refreshingly conversational, and Kevin Bacon was surprisingly real. He talked honestly about fame: “There are two types of actors: the ones who want to be famous, and liars.” He confessed that when he achieved fame, he struggled with the fact that it wasn’t for what he wanted to be famous for. There was an anecdote about how he felt starring in Tremors (a favorite of Justin’s, it just so happens) wasn’t something he fully appreciated at the time. But he has since changed his opinion, so much so that he’s currently developing a television series based upon it. He’s funny too: he joked about not having enough coke to pick girls up at Studio 54, and nepotism on this latest project (it was directed by his wife, starred him and his daughter and was scored by his son).

Vulture Festival calls itself a “pop culture extravaganza”, which might come off as a little bombastic. But these kind of up close and personal experiences are pretty hard to beat, and the talent keeps getting better each year (Neil Patrick Harris! Sarah Jessica Parker!). All event attendees also had access to their lounge, which featured amazing eats, live music and DJs throughout both days.

If you’re a fan of pop culture, there’s really no event like it. Stay tuned for Part Two of our experience there later this week. And Los Angeles take note: Vulture Festival is coming to you this November for the first time!

– L.

An Explosion of Color: Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden



If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you know that everything there is magnified and exaggerated by a factor of 1000, and it’s easy find yourself with whiplash from taking it all in.  I have somewhat mixed feelings on the “More Is More” mantra, but one thing I remember being notably impressed with was the stunning ceiling of glass flowers in the Bellagio. I didn’t know it then, but that was my first experience with Dale Chihuly’s masterful craft.

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Chihuly’s ceiling at the Bellagio, courtesy of Chihuly.com

If you happened to read our post on Chuck Close, you might notice some parallels here.  We’re​ drawn to artists who aren’t just pioneers in their field, but who have also overcome diversity on their way there. Chihuly’s path wasn’t a straight one.  He suffered the loss of a sibling and a parent early in life.  And after he had cultivated a successful career in the art of glass sculpture, tragic accidents left him with one blind eye and a dislocated shoulder.  As a result of the latter injury, Chihuly was unable to hold a glass blowing pipe. But he refused to stop creating, and assembled a team of glassblowers from around the world to execute his vision.  Now he likens himself to the conductor of a symphony.



ICYMI – Shots from our Instagram Story on the day of our outing.  There was also a duck video.  Find us on Instagram so you don’t miss any more duck videos: @madhattersnyc

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Blue Polyvitro Crystals outside the Metz Library (AKA the rock candy display)
Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Sapphire Star
Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Red Reeds on Logs at the Reflecting Pool
Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Float Boat and Koda Studies #1 and #2 at the Native Plant Garden

Like most artists, Chihuly is constantly extracting beauty from everything around him.  The idea for one of his installations, Float Boat came to him on a trip to Finland when he was standing on a bridge over a river.  He decided to throw glass spheres into the water to see which ones would shatter. When the pieces were retrieved and placed into skiffs, he was struck by the contrast of the contemporary glass forms against old wooden boats.

Memories of his mother’s garden have also been a great source of inspiration.  It seems only fitting that his kaleidoscopic creations have found homes in many botanical gardens over his career.  The current exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden isn’t his first, but is in fact a triumphant return after 11 years.



Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Sol del Citrón

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
White Tower with Fiori



Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Glasshouse Fiori
Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower

In an interview, Chihuly once stated that his motto is, “If big is good, bigger is better. If one is terrific, twelve is even better.”  Like I said in the beginning, I’m not entirely sure that’s true.  But if there were one artist who might convince me, it would be Chihuly.

The Chihuly exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden will run through October 29, so that it can be viewed as the seasons change here in New York City.  Additional Chihuly programs will also run throughout the course of the event.  Information can be found on the NYBG website here.  

Tip:  If you take the train from Grand Central it’s a short 20-25 minute ride. It drops you right in front of the Mosholu Gate entrance to the NYBG. On the weekends take advantage of the City Ticket, which offers a reduced rate. 

Location:
2900 Southern Blvd

Hours:
Tues -Sun: 10 a.m.–6 p.m
See website for exceptions



Pair it with:

A meal at Zucker’s

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chihuly New York Botanical Garden - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Taking the train from Grand Central is usually our preferred way to get to the New York Botanical Garden.  While there are a number of options to meet any commuter’s needs in the terminal itself, another fantastic option lurks just around the corner.  A skip, hop and a jump away you’ll find the Midtown branch of Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish.

Zucker’s serves traditional New York style bagels — hand-rolled and kettle-boiled just as they are meant to be — with that crisp exterior and hefty, satisfying interior chew.  Try any number of their bagel sandwiches, like the classic Zucker’s Traditional with Nova Scotia salmon, cream cheese, beefsteak tomatoes, red onion and capers.

Zucker’s also partners with many local vendors, from their produce to their pickles to their snacks and coffee.  That means coffee lovers can get a La Colombe Draft Latte on tap here, and dessert lovers can top it all off with a Fat Witch brownie.  (We are both.)

Location:
370 Lexington Ave

Hours:
Mon – Fri: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 6:30 am – 6:00 pm

– L.

Photo Essay: Unlocking Canal Street’s Secrets via Jane’s Walk



There’s really no end of things to explore in New York City, but insiders know it takes some digging to uncover what’s hidden beneath the city’s surface.  Citywide events like Open House New York and Jane’s Walk make urban exploration attainable to the masses.  They feed our never ending curiosity by giving us access to sites and experts that would normally be out of reach.

Jane’s Walk is named for Jane Jacobs: journalist, author, activist and all-around local legend.  She fought tirelessly to protect the authenticity of New York City neighborhoods.  Jane was a pioneer in promoting diversity and supporting local economies.  Tides Canada initiated Jane’s Walk to promote her ideas.  The Municipal Art Society of New York organizes the event locally in New York City, and has done an amazing job shepherding its growth.  One weekend a year, they offer a number of free walking tours led by local citizens.



Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
A view of the new Jenga Tower against a Beaux Arts building and 33 Thomas St (rumored to be an NSA spy hub)
Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The entrance to the trendy Haus nightclub
Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Canal Street Station Post Office Art Deco building built in 1937

On the most recent Jane’s Walks event, we joined licensed New York City tour guide Robert Brenner on a tour of Canal Street.  Most people associate Canal Street with Chinatown, but locals know it’s a major thoroughfare that cuts through Lower Manhattan.  Robert kicked off the tour with a cold open about the street’s sordid past, then led us on a walking tour of some of the city’s most amazing landmarks.



Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
A bright fire escape located next to the old Pearl Paint building
Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Cortlandt Alley, one of the city’s famous backdrops often used in music videos and photo shoots
Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Exotic fruit stalls in Chinatown – don’t sample the wares unless they are offered to you or you might get charged!

Robert’s tour included picturesque (read: Instagram-friendly) corners, as well as juxtapositions of the old and the new.  The variety of architectural styles we came across in this short walk would thrill any urban architecture fan.  As with all good tours, he included personal anecdotes and associations to long-forgotten landmarks.  Robert also helped all of us cement our insider status by showing us a secret passageway in Chinatown.  (We’ll be sure to show that one off the next time we have friends or family visiting.)  He gives you homework too: he pointed out several places to explore later.



Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Captivating street art along the route

Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The abandoned old Loew’s Theatre, whose terracotta facade is designated as a New York City Landmark

True lovers of New York City aren’t afraid of its grittier side.  There are so many stories lurking in its cracks and crevices, and walking tours of the city are a great way to discover them.  The Municipal Art Society of New York offers tours throughout the year hosted by historians, professors, and other qualified guides.  Whether you’re a visitor looking for an in-depth tour, or a local looking to learn more about your neighborhood, their website is a great place to start.  And Robert Brenner, our guide for this walk, hosts multiple tours, including one on Gritty Old Times Square.  You can learn more about him and seek out his services here.

What secrets will you uncover?



Pair it with:

A meal at Aux Epices

Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Uncovering Canal Street Secrets Jane's Walk - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

When you move to New York City, you dream of having a neighborhood joint like Aux Epices.  It’s a tiny space that’s easy to miss, but still manages to channel a ton of charm.  They don’t advertise, it’s strictly word-of-mouth.  Owner-operators Mei and Marc are the Malaysian and French couple behind the eatery, and the marriage of their cultures is reflected in their food.  Located on Baxter Street right off Canal Street, where Chinatown and Little Italy meet, Aux Epices offers the kind of fusion fare that perfectly highlights the melting pot that thrives in New York City.

Location:
121 Baxter St

Hours:
Daily: 11am – 10pm

– L.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Storytellers: An Introduction to New York City Bloggers



There is a Confucius quote that says:

 “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”  

Shortly after we started blogging we realized what we didn’t know could fill an ocean.  It’s been a journey, one we explored more thoroughly in our year-end review after our first full year of blogging.  But we’ve received a lot of help and inspiration along the way, and no small part of that has come from other New York City bloggers that we’ve been fortunate to become acquainted with.  

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
This is what we were going for…
NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Nailed it, amirite? 🙂  From L-R: Lynn and Justin (that’s us!), Jess of Used York City, Becca of Tea with B, Mary Lane of New York Cliche, Mary of Mary in Manhattan, Trudy of Rendezvous in New York

We recently had the opportunity to finally put faces to blog names, and get to know some of our peers.  We were happy to discover that they are as effervescent in person as their blogs are, and we thought we’d introduce them to our readers the best way we know how: by comparing them to food.



New York Cliche = Mozzarella Pizza from Joe’s Pizza

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mary Lane is the blogger behind New York Cliche.  She takes all the typical trappings of life in the big city and puts her fun spin on it.  Like Joe’s Pizza, it’s a cliche, yes, but it’s also classic.  It’s a seasoned favorite that stands the test of time.

Mary in Manhattan = French Fries from Pommes Frites

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mary is the blogger behind Mary in Manhattan, and she’s every budget-conscious New Yorker’s BFF.  Like Pommes Frites, she proves that enjoying life in the city doesn’t require a platinum card, just a ton of creativity.  Stay in your comfort zone and dip your fries in Barbecue sauce.  Or explore the exotic and dip your fries in Pomegrenate Teriyaki Mayo.



Used York City = Chicken Matzo Ball Soup from Mile End Deli

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Jess is the mastermind behind Used York City, a site that features the work of several New York City writers as well as her own.  Like the Chicken Matzo Ball Soup at Mile End Deli, Used York City is practical without being mundane. It’s a familiar resource you’ll turn to on a regular basis.

Rendezvous en New York = Ice Cream from Ample Hills Creamery

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Trudy is the blogger behind Rendezvous en New York.  Like Ample Hills, Trudy is a mix master, covering a variety of topics on her blog.  Ample Hills throws together marshmallow and rice krispies, or Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms.  Trudy throws out posts on food, art and local sights.  It’s an eclectic amalgamation of the things she loves. 



Tea with B = Specialty Croissants from Union Fare

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Becca is the blogger behind Tea with B, which is a blog with a slightly misleading name.  Although Becca does indeed cover tea, her blog also includes beauty, food and a host of lifestyle topics.  Like Union Fare’s specialty croissants, which include flavors like Fruity Pebbles, Matcha and Birthday Cake, Becca offers multiple on-trend flavors to suit any palate.  

And although she couldn’t make brunch, we wanted to also mention Julianne of It’s Five Here.  Hers is a fun blog that covers the bar scene in New York City as well as travels around the world.

If you’re like us, you’ve consumed, and will continue to consume these blogs (and their food equivalents!), on a regular basis.  If you’re a New York City blogger interested in attending the next meet-up, please reach out to us:
Email: letschat@madhattersnyc.com
Or on social media: FB, G+, Instagram, Twitter (yes, we just started on Twitter, come and say hi!)

Enjoy!

– L. & J.

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Screening at the Tribeca Film Festival



Have you ever been in the situation where you’re walking down the aisle of a grocery store, a certain song plays over the speaker and you find yourself overcome with emotion?  Maybe it triggered the memory of your first boyfriend, or it reminded you of a particular place, or the lyrics were particularly relevant to a recent event.  If you’ve ever stifled sobs in the dairy aisle while deciding between skim and 1%, you’re not alone.

There’s a well-studied link between music and memory, but for many of us that extends to books, television shows and movies as well.  They can evoke powerful emotions. I can distinctly remember how I felt when I finished Wuthering Heights, when Mr. Big’s real name pops up on Carrie’s phone, and definitely when I watched Reservoir Dogs.



Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Fans wait patiently outside the venue in hopes of a celebrity encounter
Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Michael Madsen on the red carpet

As a self-professed movie lover, the Tribeca Film Festival is something I look forward to every year.  It’s always exciting to see the festival picks, but it’s also a fun time in New York City.  The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in an effort to revitalize the flailing New York City economy after 9/11.  Backed by the star power of names like Robert de Niro and Martin Scorsese, the inaugural festival launched in 2002 and has continued to grow exponentially each year.  Now it’s a time of celebrity sightings and fan geekdom throughout the city.

There are hundreds of screenings that take place during the Tribeca Film Festival, from shorts to documentaries to features.  There are also an impressive number of talks and special events.  Cinephiles are like kids in a candy store.  (Or Homer in a pie store.  You get the gist.)

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

This year’s festival featured a special screening of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs on 35mm print in honor of its 25th anniversary.  Reservoir Dogs is a movie that was well ahead of its time at its Sundance Film Festival debut in 1992, and still holds up today.  The banter is still engaging.  The plot is still relevant.  And yes, the acting and directing are still fantastic.



Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Not a bad place to watch a movie, right?

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

(Yes, I totally geeked out in my Reservoir Dogs finest.)

The screening was followed by a talk with Quentin Tarantino himself (Mr. Brown), Harvey Keitel (Mr. White), Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), Tim Roth (Mr. Orange) and Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde).  It was great to hear tidbits about how Harvey Keitel had to pay for Quentin Tarantino to fly to New York City so that local actors could audition (which led to the discovery of Steve Buscemi).  And it was fascinating to learn that Michael Madsen was incredibly nervous about the now-iconic dance scene, so much so that it was never rehearsed — then amazingly, shot in one take.  

It’s a fan experience we were fortunate to have access to, thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival.  Movie buffs, be sure to sign up for advance notice so you can pre-game ahead of the next festival.  If you haven’t yet watched Reservoir Dogs, I suggest you remedy that right away.  If you have, tell me your favorite line.  Here’s mine:

“Yeah, but Mr. Brown, that’s a little too close to Mr. Shit.”




Pair it with:

Something from Mister Dips

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Reservoir Dogs 25th Anniversary Tribeca Film Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mister Dips is nowhere near Tribeca, the Beacon Theatre or any other Tribeca Film Festival location.  But we’re also talking about Reservoir Dogs, and in my version, Mr. White, Mr. Brown, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde and Mr. Blue all go to Mister Dips.  (Poetic license, it’s a thing.)  

Mister Dips is located in an Airstream trailer at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn.  It offers a small-but-tight menu of burgers, soft-serve and floats and serves up a fantastic view on the side.  Andrew Carmellini is behind the venture, so I wasn’t surprised that the burger was good.  Or that the waffle fries were fantastic.  What DID surprise me, though, was that the Green Label burger is probably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.  And after we downed all that? We still found room for a Jacker-Crax cone. Heck, I’d let you cut my ear off for one of those.

Location:
Vale Park at the William Vale Hotel

Hours:
Daily: 12-9pm

– L.

Deja Vu All Over Again: Groundhog Day The Musical on Broadway



Imagine that you’ve had a record-breaking, Seinfeld-esque “Serenity Now!”-level, unbelievably AWFUL day. Some of it is the result of one calamitous decision after another, while the rest is just the universe playing tricks on you. You descended into the subway instead of walking. You spoke up when you should have been silent. Someone hit you with their bag. Twice. You didn’t make reservations. You wore the wrong shoes for this much walking. WHAT is that smell, and dear Lord in heaven, where is it coming from? Oh, and it’s raining. Really, really hard. Of course you forgot your umbrella. Nothing–and I mean nothing–has gone your way. Then add to that the fact that this happens while you’re in New York City, an unforgiving megalopolis with a bloodhound’s nose for the scent of weakness.

Now, take a beat. Breathe. Imagine that you could get a do-over.  A chance to start the whole god-awful thing over again but with the benefit of the memories of that horrible day intact. What would you do?



Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Harold Ramis’ and Danny Rubin’s 1993 cult classic, Groundhog Day, which stars the inimitable Bill Murray, answers that question along with a few others. It’s a film that still resonates with us all these years later. What makes it unique is that it’s a cerebral, philosophical film charading as a simple comedy. The premise of the film cleverly articulates, through the follies of its protagonist, Phil Connors, the existential theme that actions without consequences are meaningless.  Or that immortality, even when attained, is not a virtue but a curse.

This past weekend, we attended the musical based on this beloved film, which recently opened on Broadway. If you’ve watched the movie, you might have reservations. How does one live up to the genius of the original? You wouldn’t be alone in that pool of doubt. The musical adaptation was rumored to have been in the works for almost ten years. But it wasn’t until Tim Minchin, the man behind Matilda The Musical, was handed the baton that the musical came into being.



Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of the Groundhog Day Musical website
Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Image courtesy of the Groundhog Day Musical website

We’re happy to report you can cast those concerns aside. Groundhog Day The Musical does a tremendous job translating the myriad charms of the film from the screen to the stage. Solid acting, imaginative set design, and ambitious sequences, while more or less faithfully adhering to the original story line, made for a truly memorable and enjoyable performance. If you liked the movie, it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy the musical. And if you’ve never seen the movie, the musical is definitely a worthwhile introduction. You’ll be quoting the lines in no time. (There are so many good ones.)

Purchase your tickets at their website here.

Location:
245 W 52nd St



Pair it with:

Brunch at Maialino

Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Deja Vu Groundhog Day Musical Broadway - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

While repeating the same day for an eternity would eventually grow tiresome, let’s all acknowledge how freakin’ awesome it would be when you realize that 1) you could eat whatever you want without getting fat, and 2) you would never have to pay that Visa bill. And there’s no better place to celebrate that epiphany, than at Maialino.

Maialino’s brunch is legend, and appropriately so. We’d like to tell you that our blogger selves ordered the pancakes because we wanted to specifically tie in the reference to flapjacks from Groundhog Day. But the truth is that we just really wanted some delicious pancakes. The ricotta pancakes here are some of the best in New York City. You won’t get a stack, just two oversized, fluffy, luxuriant, perfect pancakes. A choice of toppings will accompany them, so you can choose to swipe on some marmalade, or drench them in syrup. There’s no way to mess this up. So maybe if you’re having an amazingly awful day, this is one thing you could get 100% right.

Location:
2 Lexington Ave

Hours:
Monday 7:30–10am, 12–2pm, 5:30–10pm
Tuesday 7:30–10am, 12–2pm, 5:30–10pm
Wednesday 7:30–10am, 12–2pm, 5:30–10pm
Thursday 7:30–10am, 12–2pm, 5:30–10:30pm
Friday 7:30–10am, 12–2pm, 5:30–10:30pm
Saturday 10AM–2:30pm, 5:30–10:30pm
Sunday 10AM–2:30pm, 5:30–10pm

– L. & J.

A Marriage of Tradition and Modernity: Yoshitomo Nara’s Thinker at Pace Gallery



We’re big fans of the Ramones, so we excitedly trekked out to the Queens Museum last year for the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit.  (That post can be found here.)  As expected, we found a bounty of fantastic memorabilia on display.  But the exhibit also included amazing art from the likes of Sergio Aragones and Shepard Fairey.  In fact, this little gem graced the entrance:

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The piece was commissioned specifically for the exhibit and featured a familiar character from Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s work.  Ramona is named in homage to the band, which the artist is an unabashed fan of.  We became familiar with some of Yoshitomo Nara’s work on a visit to MOCA in Los Angeles many years ago, but only came to learn of this link at the exhibit.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised: the Ramones enjoyed wide success in Japan.  

Yoshitomo Nara is considered part of the Japanese Neo-Pop movement, which combines elements of Japanese culture with the Western influence that flooded the country as it rapidly modernized.  His contemporary, Takashi Murakami (who we’re also fans of) coined the term “Superflat” to describe the aesthetic.  Superflat referred not only to the traditional flatness of Japanese drawing, but to the merger of art and commerce into a single layer.  



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara has been open about his childhood and being a latchkey kid, and how he was often left to his own devices.  His pieces appear confined in that space and time, a reflection of what a young Japanese boy obsessed with manga and punk music might produce.  His young female subjects accessorize with knives and guitars instead of lace and glitter.



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

His latest exhibit is now on display at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.  Thinker takes his work in a slightly different direction.  The childlike figures are still present, but they also take the form of “forest spirits”.  The forest spirits add an otherworldly component to the exhibit.  There is also a collection of jars, which again combines​ the more traditional art of ceramics with his contemporary images and sayings.  Perhaps this how Yoshitomo Nara approaches spirituality as he matures.

Thinker is on display through April 29.

Location:
510 West 25th St

Hours:
Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm



Pair it with:

A meal at Harold’s Meat + Three

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chef Harold Moore wanted to offer a staple of Southern cuisine: the “Meat and Three”.  Perhaps the name gives it away, but in these restaurants diners select one meat and three sides.  But Chef Harold grew up in Northern New Jersey and has worked for both Daniel and Jean-Georges.  So what do you get when you marry a traditional staple with elite culinary training?  You get Harold’s Meat and Three, located in the spiffy Arlo Hudson Square Hotel.  

The restaurant achieves its intended juxtaposition.  The space itself is not similar to any New York City eatery.  First of all, it’s really, really big.  There’s lots of elbow room, which means you won’t “accidentally overhear” conversations.  And you won’t find the Hanger Steak and Eggs on any menu in the south.  The entrees are well executed, but the sides can be tricky.  We loved the Coleslaw and Cucumber Salad, but the Grits and the Crushed Cauliflower were excessively buttery.

Location:
2 Renwick St

Hours:
Sun-Thu 7 am – 11 pm
Fri-Sat 7 am – 11:30 pm

– L.

Pizza Moses Leads Us To The Promised Land: A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour



When A Slice of Brooklyn invited us to check out their Pizza Tour, we thought two things: 1) How have we not done this yet? and 2) Do we have to take the L train?

It turns out we didn’t. *Insert enormous sigh of relief here* The group participants conveniently convened at Union Square, where we were picked up by a giant temperature-controlled bus.  Our tour guide, the man who would serve as our Pizza Moses, was “Marc with a C”.  Marc’s a born-and-bred Brooklynite, which means he was there long before it became trendy.  He doesn’t sport a man bun or have ironic facial hair.  And he isn’t wearing pink pants rolled up to show his petite ankles. His tats, an infinity symbol tattooed on his wrist and a small skull on his forearm, are the regalia of locals.  He’s legit.



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
We’re not in Manhattan anymore, Toto
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the creative street art in DUMBO

The Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour lasts 4.5 hours, and we were a little antsy.  Locals walk, hop on a train, walk some more.  But with this tour we’re supposed to just… sit?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, you’re sitting, but no, that’s not all you’re doing.  On our journey Marc kept us entertained, finding just the right balance of Brooklyn fun facts, history and movie clips to throw at us.  We took the scenic route, going through Brooklyn neighborhoods and stalking million-dollar homes.  Are you a movie buff?  So is Marc.  He’ll show you the spot where Gene Hackman gets shot at in French Connection, and the movie will be playing on the screens while he does it.  

And let’s not forget the most important part of the tour: the pizza.  

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The line in front of Grimaldi’s, which you get to jump as part of the tour
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Pizza-eatin’ grin



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
You won’t find a line of tourists at L&B Spumoni Gardens
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Add some parmesan cheese for the full effect
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
And save room for the spumoni!

There’s a scene in Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw famously says, “Men, I may not know, but SHOES, shoes, I know.”  Well, we can say the same about pizza.  We may not know much about anything else, but PIZZA, pizza we know.  A Slice of Brooklyn ingeniously doesn’t try to cover too much.  We made two stops on the tour to get a taste of two distinct, but equally important, types of New York City pizza.

We skipped the line at Grimaldi’s, which made us feel like Pizza Kardashian.  If that person existed, she might be the only Kardashian we’d be interested in.  (Nah, probably not.)  At L&B Spumoni Gardens, we sat at the longest family-style table and indulged in their specialty dessert.



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

For the newbies who were ready to pass out from the pizza and spumoni (not us of course, we’re pros), we headed to Coney Island for a quick tour.  The combination of the sharp breeze on the boardwalk, as well as the crazy sights and sounds, perked everyone up.

A Slice of Brooklyn is rated as one of the top tours in New York City on Trip Advisor with over 1000 Excellent ratings.  The bus tour can offer a welcome break from the manic pace of New York City sightseeing.  So for any out-of-towner looking to see what Brooklyn is all about while sampling some amazing pizza, this is a fantastic option.  But locals shouldn’t turn their noses up at it either.  We learned so many new things on this tour and we met fantastic people visiting from the UK and Canada.  And no waiting for the L train, guys. Come on.

Tip:  Grab a seat at the front of the bus and you might catch some of the banter between Marc and the driver, Edwin.  He’s the “straight man” in the double act, but he still has some pretty good zingers.  

You can find out more about the Pizza Tour at A Slice of Brooklyn’s website here.

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Always remember: Friends don’t let friends eat bad pizza

Thank you to A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours for partnering on this post.

If you’d like another point of view on this fun experience, check out our buddy Mary Lane’s post on her blog, New York Cliche. Or just check out her blog for fun New York City adventures!

– L. & J.

 

It’s a Small World After All: A Visit to Gulliver’s Gate



I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures we’ve posted, but I’m kind of… petite. Height-challenged. Runty. Low-profile. Diminutive.  Short, okay, I’m short.

Other shorties know the troubles I’ve seen.  Trying to discreetly jump to reach something on the top shelf in the grocery store, then finally having to ask for help.  Searching for “cute shoes that provide height yet remain comfortable”. (An urban myth, by the way). Having almost every piece of clothing altered. And standing-room concerts? Forget about it.

Studies tell us that taller people are more successful, more attractive, more happy.  Shorter people are supposed to be less accident-prone (yay?), but thanks to depth perception issues, I don’t benefit from that advantage either.  Pretty bleak, I know.  But changing your point of view can be simple: enter Gulliver’s Gate.



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Brookfield Place’s atrium, including its giant palms
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Miniature buildings call for miniature street art
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Do you see the Hamilton billboard? Yup, still sold out.



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
A staff member tinkering with the models
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The least crowded Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade you’ll ever attend

Located in the heart of Times Square, Gulliver’s Gate is a miniature model fan’s dream come true. And for a petite girl like me, it’s a fresh change in perspective.  Sprawled before me in a 50,000 sq ft space, there are miniature versions of my favorite New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Chrysler Building.  Some newer additions to the skyline are also included, like the stunning Via 57 West building.  And miniature Times Square comes replete with its own Hamilton billboard (which we FINALLY got to see last month, you can find that post here).

For travel buffs, Gulliver’s Gate is a fun trip around the world — you’ll find recognizable structures from France, India, Russia, and more.  The project is the result of a collaboration between model-makers around the world, which leaves local touches throughout.  It’s also a little bit of a treasure map: you’ll have to look closely to uncover secrets.  Interactive features are built into the models for children (or curious adults that have trouble keeping their hands off things).  With a touch of a button, you can attend a Queen concert, or see the Loch Ness monster (and accompanying miniature paparazzi trying to photograph it), or send Santa off in his sleigh.  

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Are there miniature copies of Hillary’s emails here?
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Most of the figures in Mecca are in white, which is what men wear when completing the pilgrimage
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Grand Palace of Bangkok



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, which is illuminated with a blue light at night just as pictured
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
I maybe look kind of tall here, right?

But it’s not just models loaded with playful features, there’s tech too.  If you want to truly immerse yourself in this fantastical universe, you could get 3D-scanned in a giant orb and have miniature versions of yourself placed anywhere in the Gulliver’s Gate world.  Want to get to the top of the Aztec ruins without killing your thighs?  This is how.

Gulliver’s Gate is currently open for previews at a reduced admission rate through May 8.  There are a few incomplete displays but there is still much to see, and if you choose to return after the official launch your admission will be discounted.  This might be a great play if you have friends and family visiting later in the year and you know you’ll be back.  The miniature universe also plans to evolve, so there will continue to be new things to discover.  Visit the Gulliver’s Gate website for additional information and to purchase tickets.

Location:
216 W 44th Street

Hours:
Daily 9 am – 10 pm



Pair it with:

Brunch at Gotan

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We’ve griped about food choices in Midtown many times before.  We regularly cry about chain restaurants and bitch about overpriced food.  So when we find a gem like Gotan, it’s truly something to celebrate.  

Gotan is located in Midtown proper, so we’re not even sending you on a little trek.  It’s a surprisingly large space, with bar seats up front and tables in the back.  The coffee is good (they serve Counter Culture, one of my favorites), and so is the food.  And guess what?  The weekend brunch here is a steal.  You heard me, a bargain brunch in Midtown.

If you order off the brunch menu, you’ll receive orange juice, coffee and an entree for under $14.  Or order off the a la carte menu, which is still reasonably priced.  The avocado toast and the breakfast plate hit the spot.

Location:
20 W 46th Street

Hours:
Mon – Thu 7 am – 5 pm
Fri 7 am – 4 pm
Sat 9 am – 3 pm

– L.

Finger Lickin’ Good: Los Pollos Hermanos Arrives in New York City


“Hey, I’m a civilian. I’m not your lawyer anymore. I’m nobody’s lawyer. The fun’s over. From here on out, I’m Mr. Low Profile, just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers. If I’m lucky, a month from now – best case scenario – I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”

– Saul Goodman, “Granite State”, Breaking Bad

These simple lines, delivered with gusto by actor Bob Odenkirk in the second to last episode of Breaking Bad’s final season, were an oblique, furtive promise. Though it was technically an end, it was also a beginning.  That promise was fulfilled in season one of the spinoff series, Better Call Saul. The flash-forward opening sequence — ironically shot flashback-style in black and white — was set in a Cinnabon at a nondescript mall (presumably in Omaha). And so began the long, winding journey from erstwhile small-time attorney, Jimmy McGill, to the morally dubious Saul Goodman.

To say I’m a fan of Better Call Saul is an understatement. In fact, I would argue it holds its own pitted against its predecessor. In my humble opinion, it’s only eclipsed by The Wire for one of the greatest series of all time. Over its past two seasons, I’ve spent nearly every Tuesday morning around the figurative water cooler discussing the most recent episode and theorizing future plot twists with my coworkers. So when I heard that a pop-up of Los Pollos Hermanos was coming to New York City, I pretty much had an apoplectic fit.



Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Asian Heisenberg and Jesse?




Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog



Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

There are fourteen Los Pollos Hermanos branches, the most prominent being the one personally managed by owner/proprietor Gus Fring in Albuquerque. However, the chain appears to have experienced a recent growth spurt. A temporary location initially popped up in Austin during SXSW.  Another one followed in LA, and this weekend a new Los Pollos Hermanos magically appeared in an IKON parking lot in the Financial District.  They pared down the menu for the soft opening: we were only able to get our hands on the new curly fries. But they are guaranteed by Fring, or it’s on the house.

The mark of true success, though, is when a fast food chain goes global. Los Pollos Hermanos is heading to Australia next, so get ready Sydneysiders!

Season 3 of Better Call Saul begins tonight, April 10 on AMC.



Pair it with:

Something sweet from the Great Northern Food Hall

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

“Well, hello there
My it’s been a long, long time
How am I doin’?
Oh, I guess that I’m doin’ fine
It’s been so long now but it seems now
That it was only yesterday
Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away”

– Willie Nelson

Season two of Better Call Saul opens to Billy Walker singing Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away, and once more, with a flash-forward — toeing the line with that same black and white — to our anti-hero, Saul, languishing as a manager at the Cinnabon in Omaha. But I probably didn’t notice much of what happened, because at the beginning of that sequence, there’s a shot of a tray of slowly spinning, freshly glazed cinnamon rolls or as I like to call them: bread kryptonite.

My family has a history with cinnamon rolls. On my father’s way-too-German side, there is a secret recipe that was passed down. And they all take it very, very seriously. The few times during my childhood that they endeavored to make them, it was a big event. It was a long, arduous process, and you needed a mixture of superhuman strength and a science degree to pull it off. I always found it a bit hyperbolic, but I will unequivocally admit to the truth of the finished product: they were damn fine cinnamon rolls.

So, when considering a food pairing for this post, I immediately migrated to where I go when I have a hankering for cinnamon rolls. No, it’s not Cinnabon. I need a crispier edge, a respectable, bready chew, and a solid — less sweet, more savory — cinnamon presence. I also tend to eschew frosting. For me, simple and unadorned is the only way to go. Which is why I gravitate towards Meyers Bageri, an artisanal bakery at Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal. Their Kanelsnurre — the Nordic iteration of a Cinnamon Roll — strikes that perfect balance. 

Location:
Grand Central Terminal

– J.