Wednesday, November 20, 2013

local's look at new york city | amanda sims

We are so excited about this Local's Look. What better city to have an insider's guide than New York? And, we can't think of a more perfect local than Amanda Sims to show us around.  Amanda is one of those unique individuals who lives life to the fullest. Her contagious personality, love for life, and curated taste make for an amazing guide to The City.

You know we love dreamers who follow their dreams and that's exactly how Amanda ended up in New York. A few years ago, we got to spend a weekend with Amanda just before she moved to NYC for a job with Martha Stewart Living {You Martha Stewart Weddings fans may  recognize Amanda from this Fall's issue.} She was excited and aprehensive, but the move ended up being a great fit and Amanda is still loving life in New York. So, enjoy Amanda's guide to NYC and if you're thinking about doing something you've always wanted to do, let Amanda's story inspire you... go for it.  

Mr. & Mrs. H: To start, what do you love about New York?
Amanda Simms: I love it all—the sheer scope, the history, the diversity, and the buzz you get from simply being here. In New York, I could never be wont for a new block to explore, person to meet, or delicious nosh to taste; just when you think you’ve found your favorite anything, you quickly top it with a new must. To live here, you have to be comfortable with [tiny apartments and] change, as people and businesses come and go rapidly, but it’s invigorating to be a part—however small—of a place so very much alive. Waking up in New York City feels like the start of an adventure, every time.  

{Buttermilk Channel // image via}
MMH: Food+Beverage favorites... (If it's a toss up between two or three, feel free to list them all. The more the merrier.)

Favorite _______?

AS: Cafe Orlin—Mind boggling platters of hummer, labneh, and cloudlike scrambled eggs; Cafe Gitane—Euro meets New York in the best way, with lemony avocado toast and frothy americanos; Buttermilk Channel (Brooklyn)—hype and all, it’s everything New Yorkers love about brunch… worth an early trip on the F train to Carroll Gardens.

If you live and work in New York, lunch falls through the cracks. During the work week, I usually make my lunch (or grab something quick), and on weekends, it’s brunch or bust. Some winners that do stand out from the exceptions: Lincoln Station (Brooklyn)—if you’re anywhere near the Brooklyn museum or Botanic Gardens for sandwiches and prepared salads; Mile End Deli—Jewish Deli sandwiches of the 21st Century; Eisenburg’sSandwich Shop—Pastrami, the real stuff.

{Mile End Deli // image via}

It is truly tough to choose a favorite in this category; do we not live for dinner in New York? From fancy favorites to the everyday pit stops, some faves: Il Buco Alimentari—fresh Italian in a setting that transports; Tartine—BYOB in an everyday but elevated setting, on a corner in New York’s quaintest ‘hood; Pisticci—neighborhood Italian in Harlem; Diner (Brooklyn)—looks like Brooklyn, tastes like Manhattan; Pies n Thighs (Brooklyn)—fried chicken and pies (honey and hot sauce on the table, automatically).

 Coffee shop
Everyman EspressoVan Leuwwen (a few locations and a mobile truck setup)

 Health/Wellness (can be a restaurant/juice bar/etc.)
For fancy juices, Liquiteria (and they deliver if you’re in real need of some recuperation) or Juice Press. For food, Angelica Kitchen has sumptuous asian-inspired vegetarian food that would fool any carnivore.

{Four and Twenty Blackbirds // image via}
I’m not a huge sweets person, but if I’m going to go there, I go big. Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Brooklyn)—pies, savory and sweet alike; Billy’s—for the lethal chocolate wafer and whipped cream icebox cake.

 Sweet spot (ice cream, cupcakes, dessert spot, etc)
Sundaes and Cones—for the real stuff, Van Leuwen—for the artisan stuff, The Peninsula—(lest I leave Midtown entirely out of this review) for creme brulee, because I take splurging seriously.

 Neighborhood spot
Russ and Daughters—Lower East Side institution for lox or whitefish salad (and caviar, if you’re into that); Henry Public (Brooklyn)—feels very old world New York, go for the turkey leg sandwich and a watercress salad; Caracas—for cheap, delicious arepas and a michelada.

 Dive (food truck, spot that tourists wouldn't find) 
Calexico—California mexican and a sizeable menu for a truck; Jimmy’s Number 43—50+ German beers on tap and a gourmet menu in the basement of an East Village Dive bar; Souvlaki GR—either the LES outpost or their truck, for the best Greek “street meat.” 

{Amanda loving life in The City}

MMH: Favorite shops (choose between 1 - 3 shops if you have a lot of favorites)? What are their goods?

AS: Paper Source—for cards, fun papers to wrap with or hang on the wall, and gifts; Pork Pie Hatters—the best hat shop in the world, Still House—well designed everything, from jewelry to plateware to gifts, in a succulent-laden East Village shoplette; MUJI—well designed (a theme emerges) and ingenious everything, from a Japanese producer; Brook Farm General Store (Brooklyn)—for accessorizing the brownstone dream.

MMH: Your favorite area in New York and why?

AS: I live in the East Village and have become quite attached to it for the great mix of heritage, small businesses, and tree-lined streets with a little more edge than the ones in the West Village. But for wandering, nothing beats a stroll down Mott or Elizabeth from Bleeker all the way through SoHo. In Brooklyn, Red Hook for an escape, Clinton Hill for a taste of brownstone euphoria, and Dumbo for the waterfront. Also, the Manhattan Bridge for its wide biking lanes and spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge (and everything).

MMH: Your "must see or do" while in NYC…

AS: If it’s warm, rent bikes for a ride, either up the Hudson River Park, around the point of Manhattan under all the bridges heading up the East side, or across any bridge to Brooklyn, where you can take the ferry back to the city (CitiBike or rentals at many bike shops). For parks, The High Line in Chelsea or Central Park because it’s really that phenomenal. Some sort of artspace, whether you pay what you wish to walk the Met or gallery hop in Chelsea). A play, off-Broadway or on it--some of the best play in small theaters downtown, though no one ever turned down an invite to the Lion King, or to the ballet at Lincoln Center.

MMH: Are there any cool markets (farmers markets, flea markets, etc) that you'd recommend?

AS: So many. Chelsea Market for a Harry Potter feel and the most well-curated shopping experience in Manhattan, Brooklyn Flea for intoxicatingly lovely [and indubitably overpriced] furniture, wearings, and noshes; Garage Flea in Flatiron for real junk sifting (there are treasures to be found), Union Square Greenmarket for the veggie selection of your dreams. 

MMH: What's your favorite greenspace in your city (park, outdoor area, etc.)?

AS: Brooklyn Bridge Park—for the best views of Manhattan (and a carousel!), The Cloisters—this Washington Heights branch of the Met has gorgeous maintained grounds, views of the Hudson, and pretty neat monastery-turned-museum, to boot, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens—for an education.

MMH: Your perfect Saturday in NYC looks like...

AS: Some loose parameters right now require getting outside and active, eating something delicious, and going somewhere new. On a warm day, I’d wake up with the sun and walk to the greenmarket for some breakfast tomatoes or bfast frittata fillings, stopping for coffee at Everyman on the way. I would definitely fit in a bike ride, maybe over a bridge and to Brooklyn (see that theme here?), resting upon return to the city in a patch of waterfront grass with a good book. If it’s fridgid, as it unfortunately gets, I’d hit a cozy eatery every few hours for coffee, reading, wine, shopping, noshing, and bourbon, in that order.

MMH: Is there a touristy spot that's actually worth the visit while in NYC?

AS: Absolutely. I’d cross Times Square off your list (it looks just like the pictures but smells a lot worse) for a trip to the World Trade Center Memorial (pretty much essential if you live in America) a stroll on the Highline, through Central Park, to any event at Carnegie Hall, or shopping in Soho.

MMH: Is there anything/anywhere that you'd tell a friend not to miss while visiting NYC?

AS: Brooklyn. Just do it.

MMH: If someone is in NYC for a while and wants an escape, do you have cool day trip from NYC that you'd recommend (a nearby city or town that's easy to get to and provides a good day escape)?

AS: Rockefeller State Park Preserve is about an hour north of the city and has great hiking/walking/country wandering. Nearby, the Stone Barns Center offers all kinds of edible delights and an exceptional eatery, Blue Hill at Stone Barns. If you’re a beach bum, take the LIRR to any public waterfront on Long Island. And to escape hibernation during the cold months, an Amtrak ticket will carry you a few hours north to Hudson, NY, the so-called "Brooklyn of the North." A small town with an urban mentality, Hudson is full of city-expats (plus weekenders and commuters) selling artisan cortados and antiques galore out of renovated storefronts along the mile-long main drag. Ogling at the architecture is worth a trip in itself.

MMH: Amanda, thanks so much for giving us the down low on New York. We can't wait to visit soon and try your recommendations. New York is a happier place with you there! Thanks for being you.

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