Buddhist Treasures in New York

The Fall season brings the best cultural events of the year and two exhibitions about Buddhism are a must. The Japan Society shows The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Caligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin until January 9th. And The Rubin Museum of Art shows the Alice S. Kandell Tibetan Shrine and Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism through 2012.

Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) is widely acknowledged as the leading Zen master of the last five centuries and this is the first exhibition in the West devoted to him. According to the curators Audrey Yoshiko Seo and Professor Stephen Addiss, Hakuin was also the most significant Zen artist of his time. “He not only expressed the mind and heart of Zen for monks and lay followers – it was he who first asked "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" – but also reached out to the entire population with his painting and calligraphy. You will be able to see 78 of his scrolls gathered from collections in the United States and Japan.

The Rubin Museum of Art
Folding Iconostasis with Jesus and the Twelve Apostles; Russian; ca. 1780; Tempera on wood; 15 x 60 x 1 1/12 in.; Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA

The Alice S. Kandell Tibetan Shrine Room has been tucked away in a New York City apartment for decades until last year when it debut at the Sackler in Washington, DC, to rave reviews. The Shrine Room will found a home at the Rubin Museum of Art as part of the Gateway to Himalayan Art exhibition. More than 150 sacred objects are packed into the room and allow the visitor a rare glimpse of how these works would be found in a private Tibetan shrine.

The Rubin Museum of Art examines intriguing correspondences and differences between Eastern Orthodox icons and Tibetan Buddhist thangkas (paintings on cloth) in Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism. The exhibition establishes parallels between the Western and Eastern sacred traditions in function, subject matter, composition, and storytelling strategies, pairing some 63 icons from The Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, Massachusetts, and private collections, with 26 from the Rubin Museum of Art and other collections.

The Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues). Tuesday through Friday 11am to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

The Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues). Monday 11am to 5pm; Tuesday closed; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Thursday 11 am to 5pm; Friday 11am to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday 11am to 6 pm. The museum is closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day.

Haunted Hunts for Halloween

Camila Viegas-Lee

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by Camila Viegas-Lee

If you are looking for something beyond trick or treating, something that both you and your kid can enjoy this Halloween, check out the Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts. The group organizes guided tours with funky narratives all over the city – from Central Park to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Grand Central Station, the Museum of Natural History, you name it. An extra benefit is that you won’t have to deal with your kid in a sugar high.

Armed with a flashlight, you’ll visit ghost-plagued buildings and secret cemeteries while learning the stories of the restless souls you might disturb. According the website, The Ghosts of Greenwich Village, for instance includes the spirits of Mark Twain, Aaron Burr, Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Irving, Thomas Paine, artist John LaFarge, The Shadow, Clement Clarke Moore, Mayor Jimmy Walker, Lee Chumley, Patrolman Schwartz, a few skeletons and various other apparitions, sudden chills, rustlings and knockings.

There is a version of this hunt for adults only and another for families. They were all recommended by Time Out New York, the New York Times, The Daily News and NY1 and require advance purchase. Tickets cost between US$ 24.50 and US$ 18 depending on the program.

Flickr/Tomas Fano

If you want to try another theme, and enjoyed Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum, try the Fright at the Museum Family Scavenger Hunt. It features exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History that inspired scenes in the hit movie.

Kids and adults work together to take on Dexter’s capuchin monkey cousin, a not-so-woolly mammoth with tooth trouble, personal items that belonged to Teddy Roosevelt, a dance that Sacagawea would have done, a scary Easter Island statue, an attack by a monster whale, a slice of a giant tree, humongous warring mooses, Aztec and Incan warriors, dangerous dinosaurs and more. Tickets cost US$ 31.50 for adults and US$ 27.50 for children and teenagers ages 7 to 17.

Happy Halloween!

TOP FIVE: best things to do on Columbus Day Weekend in New York City

By Camila Viegas-Lee

I love holidays in the city. The stressed-out New Yorkers tend to travel upstate and the streets become calmer and joyful. Even the cab drivers seem to be in a better mood and drive slower. The fall brings a romantic, invigorating chill in the air. Here are my five recommendations for a playful, off the beaten track holiday in the city:

Park Avenue Armory Carnival

The Park Avenue Armory hosts a fantastic carnival anchored by an impressive 50-foot ferris wheel. Go for rides, performances in a specially-designed theater, magicians from the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (no typo—that’s how the Germans spell it), stilt-walkers, jugglers and contortionists, traditional carnival concessions and a lesson in the "circus arts" (feel like twisting yourself into a pretzel?). Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave. Through Monday Oct. 11, from 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM. General Admission is $5 for adults (14 and up) and free for kids. Rides and games are $1.25 per ticket (each ride or game requires 3-5 tickets). $20 unlimited ride wristband also available.


This is one of my favorite activities in the city—you get to walk through buildings and structures all over New York City that are normally closed or hidden to the public. Many of these are real hidden treasures. This is the largest architecture and design event in the US and it includes talks, tours, performances and workshops - all free of charge! Check their website for a full listing of places, but here is just a tantalizing sample:

Central Park's Arsenal, the Federal Hall National Memorial, the Residences at 36 Gramercy Park East (the apartment building with the knights in shining armor stationed in front), the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, Marble Cemetery, the 69th Regiment Armory, the Salmagundi Club, Frederick P. Rose Hall, the Center for Architecture, the Islamic Cultural Center, and the American Irish Historical Society. Some workshops and tours require advance registration, so do check the official website for details.

Randall's Island Golf & Sports Center Fall Festival

The Fall Festival, held only one weekend every year, is worth a day trip to Randall's Island. If you think you’re too grown up for a pumpkin patch, pony rides, hay rides, haunted mini golf, batting cages, gags, a pumpkin and craft station, carnival games, Halloween puppet shows, at least you can eat from carnival food concessions selling popcorn, pretzels, cookies, cupcakes, caramel apples, jelly apples, a variety of old fashioned pies, apple cider, hot chocolate, pizza, chicken fingers, hamburgers, and hot dogs… I have a thing for carnival as you can tell. Randall's Island Golf Center. Take a shuttle bus ($11 round trip) departing from various stops along 3rd Avenue or take the M35 bus from 125th St. & Lexington Ave. Through Sunday, October 10, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. $9 per person.

Boo at the Zoo

The Bronx Zoo organizes "spooktacular" activities inspired by Halloween every weekend until the end of the month. There are hay mazes, hayrides, pumpkin carving demonstrations, puppet shows, animal-themed magic shows and live music. Don’t miss the six tiger mountain cubs that were just born – three from Malayan tiger family and three from the Siberian tiger branch. Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd. The best ride from Manhattan is via the BxM11 express bus, which makes stops along Madison Avenue between 26th and 99th Streets. Through Sunday, October 10, from 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM.

New York Comic Con

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NYC Wine & Food Festival October 7th-10th

To get into the fall mood, what better program then to eat and drink super well from the best New York has to offer? Spend the long weekend enjoying several events showcasing culinary celebs cooking for YOU.

You can still get tickets for the following highlight moments during Columbus Day weekend: closely watch Masaharu Morimoto doing his sushi magic at Whole Foods Culinary Demonstration, learn with Blue Hill’s Dan Barber how to bring the principles of good farming to the your table, or if you are eager to become a better wine connoisseur, join the masters at the first ever Sommelier Showdown. Still hungry for even more culinary star power? For only $30 I suggest watching Frank Bruni interview three of the city’s most celebrated 3- and 4-star chefs Daniel Boulud (Daniel, DB), Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Jean Georges, Perry St., Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market, Mark and more) and Michael White (Convivo, Alto, Marea) on getting to the top and staying there.

And much more: there are 200 chefs and 100 wineries participating of this indulgence fest.

For tickets and info go here

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TOP FIVE: Bars for the UN General Assembly

Lexbar: dark and intimate

By Camila Viegas-Lee

The 65th United Nations General Assembly opens this Thursday, September 23rd. It is a pretty exciting week for everyone who cares about the millennium development goals and what not. But if you couldn’t care less, avoid the stretch between Midtown East and Murray Hill. There will be security checks, barricades and protests everyday of the week… and the traffic will be impossible.

For those who are visiting and want a little taste of the brouhaha or those who love the irresistible hustle and bustle of the international delegations, here are the five best places to hang out, have a drink and try to figure out what language the exotic cutie next to you is speaking:

Asia de Cuba at the Morgans Hotel
– the theatrical Philippe Starck-designed space includes a 15-foot tall holographic photo lightbox featuring a running waterfall. Go directly upstairs and order the famous Asia de Cuba mojito ($14). 237 Madison Ave. (between 37th and 38th Streets)

Rare View at the Shelburne Hotel – don’t miss the blood orange cosmopolitan ($12) in this cozy imbibery. Too bad the rooftop is closed already but it reopens in April. There’s plenty of space and plenty of clever cocktails. 303 Lexington Avenue (with 37th Street)

Lexbar at the St. Giles Court Hotel – reopening tonight, this is the famous WetBar refurshed with crescent-shaped banquettes, leather chairs, and fatty couches. Don’t miss the Guava Sin made with tequila, triple sec, and guava purée ($15). So dark that you can drop 10 years of your age when introducing yourself to the exotic cutie mentioned above. 130 E 39th Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)

Sakagura – basement space hidden under a business lobby that will make you feel in a small Japanese village. Try the tasting set of sakes and get a lesson on supai and amae before talking about Japan’s new prime minister. He is a hot new celebrity at the Assembly. 211 E 43rd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)

Don’t miss Thursday: BrazilFoundation’s Annual Gala After Party at the Boom Boom Room!

Amazingly, tickets are still available for this happening event. Imagine Brazilian specialty caipirinhas by Leblon, music by The Misshapes, and a hip crowd at the hottest club in town, the Boom Boom Room at the Top of the Standard. On top of that, rest assured that every penny you pay on your tax deductable ticket will go towards social projects in Brazil. And that’s a fact. I’ve been a volunteer with this wonderful institution, and pretty involved in the preparations of this year’s 8th benefit dinner which will be held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (sorry, that one is sold out). But who knows, maybe Gisele might decide to join the Après-Met fete as well.

Hurry and secure your spot at the top of the world to make a difference in your planet.


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Harvest in the Square: Enjoy a gourmet feast under a tent in Union Square

Looking for a different restaurant experience? How about a choice of sixty dishes in one night? Join the “Harvest in the Square” event. For the past 15 years, and a larger tent each year, this gourmet fall opener is a real treat. Sixty chefs of the Union Square neighborhood will be cooking up their signatures dishes for the community, and you are invited to join the banquette.

Among the restaurants that will be represented: Aleo, Blue Water Grill, Rosa Mexicano, SushiSamba Park, Union Square Cafe, ABC Kitchen, Aldea, Bocca, Hill Country Chicken, Kellari Parae and The House.

General Admission tickets for 7:30 PM are $125. VIP tickets are $400 and include early admission, mingling with special guests, hors d'oeuvres and champagne toast. Proceeds benefit the Union Square Partnership's ongoing beautification and maintenance of Union Square Park. For tickets, visit harvestinthesquare.org.

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Photo Exhibition: Brasilia at 1500 Gallery in Chelsea

Brasilia is an architects playground. You don’t see much people around town, but everywhere you look, imposing modernistic buildings expand along the horizon. Renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lucio Costa envisioned the capital of Brazil in the 1950’s. This year, Brasilia celebrates half a century of existence and tonight, in Manhattan, Brazilian photographers unveil their reading of one of this completely designed political town.


Spetember 15th from 6-8PM

1500 Gallery is located at 511 West 25th St. #607

The group exhibit curated by Murillo Meirelles at 1500 Gallery is on view until November 27th.

1500 Gallery

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Your CHANCE to be the first in the know

Chance - a fresh and chic new clothing line was born this month. And you can be the first one to know about it, and shop it!
The striped tee’s – which are the brand’s icon – will soon conquer the fashionistas looking for simple, great design that encompasses a modern easy panache, with a timeless elegance. That’s actually Julia Leach's own personal style. This six foot beauty worked for over a decade at Kate Spade and left her job as Creative Director to start her own graceful line that will take the world by storm.
The debut season with its classic nautical vibe on easy cuts and clean lines makes Chance your perfect summer companion. See for yourself.

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Mostly Mozart at the Lincoln Center

The classical summer series “Mostly Mozart” orchestrated yearly by the Lincoln Center and conducted by a variety of world masters and virtuosic soloists is happening at full swing. The summertime festival offers the most delightful pieces by Mozart and his contemporaries such as Beethoven, Bach, Chopin and Schumann.

For full calendar and tickets at 30% off go here.

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The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English – take a break from the boiling heat

Below the massive legendary The Plaza Hotel on the corner of 5th and 59th, lies a cool secret. Literally: if you want to escape the scorching summer heat, take the escalator down to the hotel’s concourse level. You will not only be greeted by a powerful burst of air conditioning, but also discover a pleasant surprise, a glamorized basement if you ever saw one. Inaugurated a couple of months ago, the Food Court at the Plaza by Todd English is nothing but a respite from the bustle and hustle upstairs. Imagine a gourmet shop, a pizzeria, a friendly sushi bar, a snack deli, and more, all in a glorified food court. The chef has created a cozy atmosphere and a very inviting break to retreat from the outdoor world and focus on eating well, anything you desire.

Also in the Grand Concourse level (the official name of The Plaza's basement floor), beside this impressive 5,400 square feet emporium of delicacies, you'll find clothing boutiques, make up counters, a spa and jewelry retailers in case you are still craving for another type of satisfaction after a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner. Let’s face it, it's much more agreeable to shop with a full belly and whilst your brain is not melting from the burning august sun.

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TOP FIVE: Spanish restaurants in New York City

Viva Espana!!! ¡¡¡por fin Campeones!!!

Eat like the 2010 world cup champions. Below are our favorite Spanish restaurants in Manhattan. Enjoy deliciosos tapas and… at least for a while: a very upbeat and cheerful staff!!

Tia Pol

This little gem tucked in the bustling Chelsea neighborhood has the best patatas bravas in town. Authentic and tiny, once you get a little table (as confortable as the bar really), you will be delighted by the small plate delicatessen brought to you. Surprising taste bursts such as the combo of chorizo and bittersweet chocolate and the croqueta del dia, always a delightful surprise.


Focusing more on the Basque palate, the two locations are both casual, lively and tasty. Among the highlights are the croquetas cremosas (crunchy on the outside and perfectly creamy on the inside), pimientos de padron and paella de mariscos. Don’t forget the churros for dessert!

Casa Mono and Bar Jamon

This charming little bistro/bar and adjacent restaurant serves dishes from all corners of Spain. Mario Batalli is the entrepreneur behind this successful Catalan specialty purveyor. Try the dishes a la plancha (grilled) at the bar, or (try) to get a little table and experience nutty tastes such as the steak with romesco sauce.


On trendy bond Street, this established 2 year-old Catalonian offers the best wines from Spain and a terrific cocina, filled with cold cuts from their open ham and cheese station and other mall plates such as the tortilla español. Try the rose cava in the glass decanter looking bottle called "porro" - which you poor straight to your mouth and pass around the table. Refreshing ice breaker!

N 33 Crosby

This cave-like and intimate classic Spanish has been around forever and never disappoints. Very narrow restaurant along the bar, flamenco on Wednesdays and always a lively crowd in the heart of SoHo.

N 33 Crosby Bar & Tapas. (212) 219-8856

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Tried and Tested: ABC KITCHEN

I had already pointed you towards the all-organic new restaurant co-owned by super chef Jean Georges Vongerichten at ABC Carpet & Home. I had lunch there a couple of weeks ago and again yesterday and can attest to its promise: the leaves are as fresh as can be, the menu original and full of seasonal veggies presented in an original way, like the sugar snap pea salad, where the snap peas are thinly shaved. The pretzel dusted calamari, with a spicy marinara and basil aioli sauces was divine, and the akaushi cheeseburger (a type of kobe beef from Texas, according to our waitress) was just so much more intense with its herbed mayo and pickled jalapeno sauce.

I tried two whole wheat pizzas, and they were superb, considering how hard it is to have a thin and crispy crust using healthy whole wheat flour. Next time I would ask if the farm the egg they throw on the mushroom pizza can stay a little bit longer in the oven; it was raw. The decor feels like a cozy barn house filled with ABC’s rococo chandeliers; wood objects adorn every corner, black and white nature photographs nag on the white washed brick walls and antique hand painted porcelain embellish the tables.

And in those crazy summer heat days, it’s a great place to be and wander around the store’s original knick knacks. For modern design, head downstairs to the new Conran Shop and take advantage of the sale going on right now!!

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Karl Lagerfeld shoots new Chanel campaign in New York

By Alexandra Forbes, special contributor

Yes, the Kaiser is in town.... that's him, at the top of the crane! He's shooting Chanel's fall/winter collection, and the ads will appear in fashion mags at the end of this summer....

More info and a bigger version of the photo, here.

This weekend: polo and champagne and the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governor’s Island

Here’s a chance to extend your hardly worn pick-nick blanket on the grass along with the jetsetters of the world. This Sunday, June 27th, the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic takes place on Governor’s Island and guarantees a star-studded event.

Besides ogling the fashionable crowd (Madonna was there last year), and glancing at some exorbitant hats, feel free to admire Prince Harry and polo superstar Nacho Figueras in their jodhpurs as they gallop about on their ponies. This is Prince Harry’s second official visit at this hotly anticipated match, which benefits Sentebale, Harry’s charity supporting orphans and at-rist children in Lesotho. Have a glass of bubbly and join the beau monde by cheering, stomping and pivoting at New York’s opening season polo match.

More information: go here.

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Private sales this week: Brunello Cucinelli, Vince, Me & Ro

Sometimes we get lucky and are invited to friends & family sales by our favorite brands and get a head start before the deal-hungry masses arrive the following day. As an insider reader, consider yourself lucky, in the sense that three of my preferred designers have invited me (and you as an extension) to their very exclusive preview sale.


Beat the rush: starting tomorrow, Wednesday, you have five days to rummage through the best cut and softest cotton apparel around at 40% off!

Wednesday, June 23rd through Sunday, June 27th (opens to the public on the 28th)

Me & Ro

From New York to St Tropez, the creations of one of the most talented jewelers embellish men and women with their beautiful pieces. Sometimes Asia inspired, sometimes hippie chic, there’s a little (or big) something for everyone. And at half price or even 70% off retail price, how can you resist not purchasing 18K gold these days?

Friends/Family Preview:

Wednesday, June 23rd 10am-noon

Open to Public:
Wednesday, June 23rd noon-7pm 
Thursday, June 24th 10am-7pm

13 Crosby, 2nd floor 
(between Howard and Grand)

Brunello Cucinelli:

Starting today, all men’s spring and summer collections are 40% off. Find the finest cashmere sweater and the best cut summer jacket for a steal.

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Boom Boom Room Rooftop - Above The Standard

Experience (as close to it as it gets) the enchantment of the suspended gardens of times past… Starting at the end of this week (post-soft opening) you’ll be able to revel in the magic of a grassy patch high up on the 19th floor of The Standard Hotel overlooking the Hudson. The characters you’ll meet are as interesting as in a fairy tale and the surroundings are from another era (not Babylon’s, more like fifty decades ago…) The retro look of the pink and round waterbeds and yellow and white plastic chairs over the synthetic turf is a trip by itself. The bright neon-orange color of the Aperol Spritz in your champagne glass is just a mirage.

Opens June 15th for private events


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TOP FIVE: restaurants on the Upper West Side - Taberna's opening

Taberna opened a week ago on the Upper West Side

The newest noteworthy restaurant opened last week: Taberna on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st. Tucked in a block known for traditional dark and grease-smelling bars, that’s a great upgrade. Especially when the Spanish fare is prepared by Jennifer Cole, who was the guest chef at Tia Pol at her return from heading cocinas in Spain for over a decade. Our insider informant tell us that the service is still chaotic and hot tapas will not be served until next week… e

429 amsterdam avenue. between 80th and 81st. 917.388.3500.

Other favorites by notoriously selective upper west-“insiders”:

Gennaro – “best homey italian that i know of in the city. We once saw demi moore in there with ashton but it's mostly a hideaway for locals. Very mellow and unglamorous yet warm and superb food.” Be prepared to pay in cash.

665 Amsterdam Ave. near 92nd St. 212-665-5348

Kefi – This Greek restaurant is well-known even for Manhatanites all over town who go there to get their souvlaki and ouzo fix. Prices are reasonable and tastes truly Mediterranean fresh.

505 Columbus Ave. 212-873-0200

Nice Matin – is a favortite destination for brunch on the weekends. Have a taste of the French Riviera when you order the scrambled eggs with spicy merguez sausage at this airy corner bistro.

201 West 79th Street. 212-873-6423

Community Food and Juice – “amazing breakfast (and even dinner) here. Best blueberry pancakes I have ever had. All fresh and organic food, kind of precious that way, always packed.”

2893 Broadway. 212-665-2800

Pulino’s superlative service

Restaurant ueber-impresario Keith McNally is known for the meticulous attention he likes to pay to his patrons. All of his restaurants are always overflowing with workers, and sometimes that’s even reason for sneer remarks from certain critics. The fact never bothered me of course, and now I can attest, I totally appreciate and endorse it!

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A room tour at The Bowery Hotel, our favorite

If you are either planning a NYC visit or just looking for a perfect staycation, The Bowery Hotel is the place to check-in.

My favorite in all requisites: décor, service, food, and everything that makes you feel like you are “home” away from it is right there. And the weather is perfect to cruise around the village on one of the hotel-guest bikes or just have a drink on their outdoor lounge. The only thing missing would be a pool. 

But well, you can’t have it all. Well, actually you can, if you stay a the Soho House in the Meat Packing District… there’s always something for every taste in this city. It never gets old. For your viewing, here is a short video of a typical room at the Bowery Hotel. They are all different, but always inviting and cozy.

The Bowery Hotel, 355 Bowery St., corner of East 3rd St., 
tel. (212) 505-9100

Click here to see all our hotel videos.