Big Apple Blonde

Living the (Swedish) life in New York City
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Rocky Mountain Recap

June 10th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

OK, so I’ve been slacking a bit on the blog.  My summer has been much more work than it should be thus far, but I’m managing a few trips in there.  San Diego, Miami and even a trip back to Stockholm are all on the agenda. But first, a look back at my Denver trip…

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month already since my husband and I had that weekend wedding in Denver, Colorado.  Most people forgo urban adventures for the mountains, but they’re missing out .  Colorado consistently ranks as the top healthiest state, the top state for singles, the happiest state etc etc. And it has to do with a lot more than skiing.

Hubby and I had lived there for a couple of years so we took a familiar route. Friday morning we drove down to the Colorado Springs area and walked in the Garden of Gods. It’s just about an hour and a half from Denver and it’s a beautiful ride, with mountains on one side and prairies on the other. The Garden of Gods is a great showcase of Colorado’s natural wonders. Bright red rocks against a crisp blue sky . Roaming deer. Riders on Mustangs (the mammal variety) and hikers walking the many trails. In the distance, Colorado’s highest mountain, Pike’s Peak, aka “America’s Mountain”.It’s one of those places where you can snap a million pictures but they never quite capture the beauty before your eyes.

On the way back to Denver, we stopped off at the outlets in Castle Rock. By no means the size of, say, Woodbury Commons in New York, but Castle Rock does have better deals. Hubby walked away with a suit for the wedding, 6 new shirts and 4 ties for under $300.

That night we had dinner plans at the Chart House. Set in the foothills, overlooking buffalo grazing grounds,, the Chart House is one of Colorado’s best spots for steak and fish (despite being an inland state, Coloradoans serve up some great seafood). It also has a most amazing chocolate lava cake that you order at the beginning of the meal, so that it can slowly prep and simmer while you eat your main course.

Saturday it was time for the wedding, but we did manage a brunch at Elway’s in Cherry Creek first. Cherry Creek is the Upper East Side of Denver. People leave their Porches with the valet, run in for brunch and drop into swanky stores like Louis Vuitton on the way out. It’s moms in James jeans and Tod’s and dads in Hugo Boss. Patrons come after a run at the country club golf course next door. It’s fancy but not too pricey and food is divine. Think lobster club sandwiches, filet mignon gyros and French toast with the purest of maple syrup.

The wedding took place downtown and the reception was at Denver’s historic Brown Palace. The hotel is most well known for it’s afternoon tea service, where you witness mothers and daughters dressed in their Sunday Best, sometimes in gloves and hats, sipping on Earl Grey and eating scones. The Ship Tavern serves as a decent after work drink spot, if you’re looking for something traditional (mahogany bar, red/white checkered table cloths, surly old waiters). The reception itself was in one of their many conference spaces – not much to speak of aesthetically, but weddings are all about the people anyway, and we certainly had a blast.

Sunday, our last day back, was filled with more delicious food. After a lazy wake-up, we drove to Red Rocks , an ampitheater carved out of the mountain. At night, this is home to some of the best concerts in the US, but during the day it serves as training camp for college students, amateurs and world athletes alike (the high altitude makes Colorado ideal for training). We mostly watched – we were nursing hangovers after all. Then we headed to the nearby town, a picturesque place filled with bed and breakfasts and tourist shops. We go, however, for the Blue Cow café with it’s amazing breakfast menu.

The Blue Cow is small and homey, with a great terrace for warmer days. It’s a family business and service can be slow, but always friendly. They manage to pull out some of the freshest fruit and vegetables and whip together some really innovative pancakes or eggs. Served with saucer like coffee cups, it’s ideal for a Sunday brunch.

Later in the day, we mused back to Cherry Creek for happy hour at Kona Grill. Kona is a Denver hot spot, where local  celebrities, athletes, rockers and business types all converge for under $5 margaritas and fish tacos, or burgers, or sushi. Kona has a kindda quirky but delicious tasting menu. The terrace, with it’s fire pit as the central point, serves as a great people watching spot. You might have to wait for a table but it’s worth it.

We finished off our trip with a quick jaunt to Coors Field, home to the Rockies baseball team. In Denver, you can get tickets in the bleechers for about $5, and get a magnificent view of the field and the mountains. Coors Field is one of those cheery places where  the crowd  claps and drinks beer and doesn’t take the game too seriously. Plus we always seem to find the section that wins pizza or free drinks or, as in this case, free lottery tickets. It was a nice hour of sunbathing and chit chatting (we ran into friends a couple of rows in front of us) before the journey back the the airport and back to NYC.

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A midtown gem

May 22nd, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Tom Sachs' Hello Kitty @ Lever House

I’ve been a bad blogger. Between work, travel (a trip to Denver I’ll share more on soon!), and more work, I’ve been off the blogoshere for too long. And my brain is somewhat spent.

I did, however, want to share a small tip for the peeps that work and play in midtown NYC. I was at a conference at LIM College the other day. Heard of it? Neither had I, but apparently it’s coming to rival FIT and Parson’s for a spot in fashion academia’s limelight. Anyway, it happens to be located just around the corner of the Lever House. The 1950s structure is a New York architectural gem and it becomes extra special during the warmer months when you can take your lunch to the courtyard. Filled with frolicking white collar types on break from their cubicles, it’s a refreshing spot to people watch. You’ve got a clear view of Park Ave.

Right now it’s made a little more fun thanks to a giant Hello Kitty statue overlooking the courtyard. Kitsch art meets corporate world. Only in New York.

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Cinco de Mayo, oh boy

May 7th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Photo courtesy Brandi666/flickr.com

Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo, and like most misguided Americans, I took to the nearest Mexican watering hole to to celebrate. What were we celebrating? Not entirely sure. Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican version of 4th of July. That would be Mexico’s independence day, which happens in September. It’s not even a national holiday in Mexico, I don’t think. It is indeed a celebration in the town of Puebla, Mexico, where in the 19th century the Mexican army beat the French in the aptly named “Battle of Puebla”.

How it came to be an American event, I have no clue. It probably has something to do with a penchant for tequila and tacos (ironically that is also more tex mex than authentic Mexican, much like the holiday :) )

Anyway, despite an insanely crowded downtown Dos Caminos, my friends and I had a great time on one of the first truly summery days of the year. We drank, we talked, we laughed, and probably danced at some point… Some prickly pear margaritas and a terrible McDonald’s meal later (I forgot to eat, didn’t even get Dos Caminos yummy guacamole!), I had my first real hangover of the year also. Viva Mexico!

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A New Crop of Designers, Unleashed from Parsons

April 27th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Last night, the graduating class from Parsons The New School for Design showcased their work to a glitzy audience filled with fashionable spirits like Jason Wu, Vera Wang, and Patricia Field. BUT, before the glamorous were brought in for the party, friends and family were invited to a daytime showing of the Fashion Benefit at the Chelsea Piers. Minus the red carpet, this was a much more low-key affair. What we were all there for, the thesis projects of Parsons fashion design graduates, were allowed to shine in the absence of paparazzi. (Seriously, google the event and you’ll see pages of pics of the people who attended, but where’s the runway??) As an alumna of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons rival, it ached me a little to be there. But the fashion was superb. There were Lady Gaga worthy sheer pants that draped across sky-high heels. Yarn was twisted and molded into everything from cocoon vests to mini-mini skirts a la Rihanna. There was a skirt in something like horse’s mane. But also, some highly wearable, exquisite daywear that included dresses with contrast panels and zippers, brocade pants, and tailored coats. I didn’t get much in the way of pictures, but you can view the show online at http://www.newschool.edu/parsonsbenefit/

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More Film in the City!

April 19th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

If you’re wondering why I never followed up on the GenArt Film Festival, I never made it. Tickets sold out way before I made my way to checkout. Another festival I’m sorry to say I will probably miss, is the Tribeca Film Festival that kicks off tomorrow in NYC. Known for an exciting indie offering and compelling documentaries, TFF is worth it just for the possible star sightings and eclectic NY clientele. If you have the time, hurry and pick up whatever is left of the tickets, $16 a piece, at www.tribecafilmfestival.com.

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Two Fashionable Affairs

April 15th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Only in New York can an unknown from Sweden find herself at a dinner table with editors from two of the most read women’s magazines in the world, an iconic designer, a legendary museum curator and a handful of other influentials in the world of fashion and design. That’s exactly where I was last night, enjoying some wine and salmon while discussing the inevitable evolution from print to digital, going green in design, and the kama sutra… I can’t say more but it was a fabulous evening.

Only in New York, another fabulous fashion event starts today. The Zac Posen for Target pop-up shop. One week before the national launch date, Target is setting up temporary shop on 8th avenue at 34th street. The event will last 24 hours, starting 11pm tonight. And if it’s anything like previous Target pop-ups, you’re best to get there early.

Zac Posen for Target (Photo by College Fashion Net)

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GenArt Film Festival

April 6th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

The GenArt Film Festival embarks on it’s 15th annual run of 7 days of movies and parties this Wednesday. Most tickets are sold out so hurry and get yours: http://genart.org/filmfestival/newyork/2010! I’m planning to be there Friday for Elektra Luxx and will give you the post-skinny…

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A perfect Saturday. With pillows.

April 6th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Int'l Pillow Fight Day NYC 2010

I survived International Pillow Fight Day 2010 with only a couple of bruises. The day started with a two hour train ride to the city. Which, on Easter weekend is the same as joining the circus for a couple of hours… The only way to survive was to bring a flask. Which left my hubby and I good and saucy for our city adventure. We arrived in Manhattan two hours ahead of the fight, so we walked over to Irving Place, a quiet enclave just off of Union Square, and found a delicious sushi place to pass the time. Around 2.30PM we joined the park dwellers and basked in the sun for a bit waiting for the festivities to kick off. A few park peeps were carrying pillows or suspiciously big bags and the police were out in full force setting up fences on the south side of the park. But otherwise all seemed quiet. Like a peaceful Saturday in the park. That was about to change. Come 2.45PM the fenced off part of the park had corralled hundreds of people, all carrying pillows or stuffed bunnies and eagerly counting down to kick-off. Some shouted out threats, like “I’ve filled [my pillow] with baby powder!” We gingerly joined the crowd but stayed close to the fence so my camera would remain safe. 3PM sharp mayhem ensured. Pillows were swinging, feathers were flying, people were running for the fences to escape. We snapped pictures, laughed, and tried to shield ourselves from the pillows. Who knew they could be such powerful weapons? By 3.15PM fun turned into frenzy as the crowd seemed to swell and numerous pillow players tried to escape. They pushed towards the fences and soon we found ourselves in peril of getting crushed against the fence. We jumped to the other side, took one last look at the pillow people still standing and took off. It was insane, it was hilarious. It was totally worth the bruises.

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Who doesn’t want to smash strangers with a fluffy pillow?

March 31st, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

"Kuddkriget", Pillow Fight Day Gothenburg 2008 (Courtesy of Johan Larsson/flickr.com)

This weekend I am partaking in the most unusual, outlandish and, I suspect, childishly fun events I’ve been to in a while…International Pillow Fight Day. From what I gather, strangers and friends meet in a public space, bring some pillows, and, as the clock strikes x, start swinging. What’s the point? Who knows. Some good ole fashioned fun I suppose.

New Yorkers can meet us in Union Square at 3PM on Saturday. Swedes can head to Jarntorget in Gothenburg (check for a possible fight at Sergelstorg in Stockholm too, it’s been there in the past). The rest of you, visit the site for times and locations: www.pillowfightday.com

I’ll report back after the pillow fight!

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Nothing palm trees and a dash of rum can’t solve…

March 26th, 2010 by Big Apple Blonde

Havana Central Times Square NYC (Photo courtesy makehr/flickr.com)

Last week an old friend came in for a whirlwind wedding weekend of another old friend. Before bridal duties she had time for one dinner her first night in. She came straight from the airport, luggage in tow.

To accommodate a mix of friends, old and new, all working at different ends of Manhattan, we picked Havana Central in Times Square. Not the most trendy or New York sophisticate-cool place, but it was convenient and we knew the menu could accommodate a variety of tastes.

Havana Central is a Cuban-inspired chain with smaller locations by Union Square and uptown across from Columbia University. People go for the $5 mojitos at happy hour (yummy!), hefty mix of quirky comfort foods like empanadas and Cuban sandwiches, (mmmm…) and a delicious dessert menu. People do not come for the service.

Four out of eight in our party arrived promptly at 6, only to be told we’d have to dig up 2 more people within 15 minutes or we’d lose our table. After some “persuading” from my friend, they agreed to give us a smaller table. We sat down, ordered drinks, and unilaterally decided we’d rather try a mix appetizers and small plates than individual entrees.

Or not. Management insisted that dinner parties eat entrees. Even if ordering two appetizers per person was more money than ordering an entrée (duh!).

Oh well. Eventually they agreed to let some of us do appetizers if some of us ordered entrees, and I ended up with a delicious grilled salmon in mango salsa. And lots of yummy mojitos.

All in all the night turned out great. Eventually the staff lightened up and by the time the rest of our party showed, they even let us switch to a bigger table.

Moral of the story: if you book dinner at a Times Square location, expect some headaches but Havana Central is fun nonetheless.

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