Visiting The Coffee Break Company

Last week, I got the chance to visit Throggs Neck’s newest addition – The Coffee Break Company.

Located in the spot where Brew Coffee House once was, The Coffee Break Company is a joint endeavor by owners Bruce “Blue” Rivera and Brian Martinez who have given the space a total revamp. My favorite feature was the clock walls – a collection of vintage and modern clocks that line the wall during your very own “coffee break.” Another unique feature are the custom tables in the center of the coffeeshop that are made out of doors filled in with coffee beans. Another feature I thought was pretty cool was the jars of coffee beans on the wall behind the counter, which featured the top ten coffee distributors around the world.

Serving up La Colombe coffee, lattes, and tea the coffeeshop also makes all of its desserts in house. I got to try a pumpkin pie bite and a coconut cupcake. Both were so delicious. First of all, I’ve never had a pumpkin pie bite before, but I could definitely eat a 100 of them in one sitting; it’s a perfect fall snack. Second, as a person who doesn’t even really like coconut, that cupcake was fantastic. The icing was light, the cake itself was light as well, so you really got to taste the flavors instead of just straight sugar.

Though still in its soft opening stage, The Coffee Break has a number of events in the pipeline. This Friday, Oct 19, they’ll be hosting a paint and sip event. On Halloween, kids will be invited to help the coffeeshop “dress up” as a barn and around Christmas, there are plans for a cookie decorating event.

While the grand opening isn’t until November, you can keep up with the latest by following them on Instagram or Facebook.

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Pizza, Pizza

When it comes to pizza, I guess you’d say I’m a bit of a purist. I rarely ever get any toppings and if I do, it’s mushrooms. (Obv. seasonings are a must. Pass the garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes.)  How exciting. But, on a recent trip to Kingsbridge Social Club, I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone. Okay, I’m lying, it was not challenging at all. There were honestly so many delicious options that it was hard to pick just one.

My friend and I opted to sit outside in their patio area. It’s only a few tables, but a cute space nonetheless. She ordered the brussel sprouts as an appetizer and they were fantastic. I’m not particularly drawn to brussel sprouts when I see them on a menu, but I’m really glad she ordered them because they delicious. They were slightly charred, which gave them a slight crunch. Do yourself a favor and try them.

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Now, to the pizza. I ordered The Wrecking Ball , which is topped with mozzarella, onions, garlic, and basil and served atop a large, tomato sauce can for an added touch. The crust had that excellent charred taste from the wood fire oven and all of the ingredients tasted so fresh. The crust was thin with the perfect balance between being appropriately crispy, but still soft enough that you can eat the crust and not worry about chipping a tooth.

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Paired with a chilled glass of wine, it was the perfect way to spend one of the last days of summer.

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From the Bronx to Boston on Catch a Ride

Is there anything worse than coming from a lovely, relaxing trip and then getting off the bus in Port Authority and having to schlep all the way back up to the Bronx? Or finagling your way back up from 11th Ave? Finally, there’s an easier way.

A new bus company, Catch a Ride, is here to save the day. With a stop conveniently just outside of Pelham Bay Park, (on the same side as the buses to the beach) it’s never been easier to, well, catch a ride. The service runs from Brooklyn to the Bronx straight to Boston. Seriously, from here in Bedford Park it took me like 25 minutes to get to the stop on the BX12 (that’s including the walk to Fordham.) Plus, the bus has outlets so you can charge your devices while you search for things to add to your itinerary.

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With college starting up (has it started already? It’s been so long. *dramatically places hand on forehead*) it’s the perfect solution for Bronxites that need to get back and forth between here and Boston. Or, simply to go on a quick, weekend trip, which is what Nicole from Bronx Mama and I chose to do.

Neither of us had ever been to Boston, so it was cool for us to embark on this adventure together. We stayed at the Aloft Seaport District hotel, which served as our chic headquarters for the weekend.

The Aloft has a really great view of the city and is a quick Uber ride from the city’s main sights. The staff was really friendly and gave us some great recommendations. They also hosted paint and sip nights, which I’ve never seen at a hotel (in addition to live music events too) so while we didn’t get to try it since we were only in Boston for a short amount of time, it’s definitely something I’d try on a longer stay.

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Just across the street is this really dope public space, the Lawn on D. Featuring glow in the dark swings, lawn games, a bar, and stage for live music, it’s like a giant playground. On Saturday, they even had a movie night.

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On our first night, we checked out the Skywalk Observatory where we got a birds’ eye view of the city. I honestly had no idea Boston had such great architecture. Pro tip: Make sure you look up when sunset is before you visit so you can watch the sun set over the city, it’s gorgeous.

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We also stopped by the Barking Crab for some drinks. Its a popular place, so it gets a little chaotic, but it was nice to have a refreshing drink by the water.

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Saturday, we went on the Boston Harbor Cruises. Fun fact: I am terrified of whales. I’m happy to report that while we did see whales, they were at a reasonable distance and did not eat me. The guide was informative and I actually learned some new things. Did you know that whales breathe through their blowholes? It’s basically their nose.

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We then walked around Little Italy, where we happened upon the Feast of St. Anthony. It was like we stepped into a time machine with all of the winding streets and some old-time storefronts.

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Sunday, after we checked out of the Aloft (which was a breeze, we just dropped off our keys and were on our way!)  we went to the SoWa Open Market for some breakfast and “window” shopping. It was so nice to check out the wares of local farmers, artists, and chefs. I even brought back some muhamara from Samira’s Homemade, which I’d never had before, but now want to put on everything.

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It was easy to get to the Catch a Ride bus stop and then we were off to Bronx. I can’t stress enough how wonderful it was to not have to take the train another hour uptown after my trip. Be sure to check them out the next time (or first time like us!) you want to go to Boston.  And if you need a comfy, modern home base, be sure to check out the Aloft Seaport District.

 

 

We received some accommodations to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are our own.

 

3 Places to Buy Groceries Online Instead of Fresh Direct

Yesterday was the ribbon-cutting for the new Fresh Direct facility down in Port Morris despite protests from community members regarding environmental and health in an area already plagued by high asthma rates. Never mind the fact that Fresh Direct only delivered to Riverdale prior to this deal, despite having to drive through out borough to deliver to Westchester from their location in Queens. South Bronx Unite, who has been fighting against this since Day 1, has all of the details of why the opening of this facility is bad for the borough. Welcome2theBronx also wrote up an excellent article about the opening yesterday.

But Lisa, isn’t the Bronx a food desert? What about #Not62? Don’t we deserve access to fresh groceries?

100% We absolutely do. But we can’t allow businesses and the politicians who support them to ignore the legitimate concerns of the community by using outdated environmental reports and disregarding the health risks that will be exacerbated by the additional traffic.

But Lisa, I hate grocery shopping. I just want to order online and have it be done with. 

Word. Me too. Have you lugged a grandma cart and reusable bag filled to the brim with groceries a half hour on the bus because the supermarkets closest to you are absolute garbage? (Here’s looking at you, Met) I have and it’s awful, so allow me to show you some other places you can order from.

  1. Peapod

Run by Stop & Shop, you have access to their Nature’s Promise brand which offers an array of organic goods. True story: once, I was throwing a party at my place and didn’t have time to go shopping beforehand (because of my poor time management skills) and I just plugged everything in online and schedule my delivery for that morning at 7 am and my grocery shopping was done and I wasn’t even out of my pajamas yet.

2.  Shoprite 

 

A new Shoprite opened up recently in Bruckner Plaza. Bronx Mama did a write up on it and it looks absolutely amazing. (Adulthood is being excited about how cool a supermarket is, right?)  If like me, it’s too far to get to in person, you’re in luck. You can order from them online. Shoprite stays having sales, so you’re bound to save some coins while you’re at it.

3. Jet

The best mango I ever had was sent to me by Jet. It was amazing. I still think about it to this day. The cool thing about Jet is that they deliver your groceries in these insulated cooler type things so your groceries are just as cold as if you had gotten them yourself (unless you’re taking that half hour bus ride). I’ll be honest that I don’t like being stuck with the insulating material, so it’s the least environmentally friendly of these options (but you know, probably still better than diesel trucks driving through your neighborhood). You can also buy an abundance of other things like clothing and household items from them.

Honorable mentions: 

For groceries that aren’t produce.

Boxed – like Costco or BJ’s except without the membership fees.

Thrive Market – Like WholeFoods except with a membership fee.

It’s worth noting that it’s farmers’ market season, so stop by one and support some local farmers. Or you can check out a CSA, which I am a member of and the quality is unparalleled.

Also worth noting is that this is not a sponsored post. I just want us to make informed decisions that are in our best interest. We should be holding our elected officials accountable when they rally for these companies, while choosing to ignore or disregard serious issues raised by our communities.

 

A Day at the Opera

Until Saturday, I’d never been to an opera. It was something I always thought I should do eventually, but made no real effort to go. So when I learned that the Metropolitan Opera Summer Series was happening in Williambridge Oval Park as part of SummerStage, I knew I had to check it out. Plus, it was the first time that they’ve ever performed in this park, which is pretty cool.

We’ve all seen some kind of opera on tv at some point in our lives (I am specifically thinking of this episode of Hey Arnold) but let me tell you that seeing it in person is something totally different.

Performing a variety of songs from Verdi, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner (among others!)  Gabriella Reyes de Ramirez (soprano), Gerard Schneider (tenor), and Adrian Timpau (baritone)  did such an amazing job conveying the passion and conviction of each song that it didn’t matter that I didn’t actually understand what they were saying. It’s really moving and captivating, not to mention that their vocal abilities are insane.

While this was their only show in the Bronx, they have two more shows coming up in Jackie Robinson Park in Manhattan and Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. I highly recommend checking it out if you can.

 

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The Spotlight: Melissa C. Potter

So excited to bring back The Spotlight and share this interview with Bronxite Melissa C. Potter, a social justice activist and the Head of Social Impact and Communications leading strategy and campaign management for Odyssey Impact/Transform Films. Keep reading for more!

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Which Bronx neighborhood are you from?

I call Riverdale my adopted home as I resided there for 12 years following my graduation from Northeastern University in Boston. I love the community feel of Riverdale as all that I needed was in walking distance but there were also wonderful opportunities to fellowship with neighbors at La Caja Crossfit, Tin Marin, or in Starbucks.

Where do you currently reside?

I’ve recently moved to the High Bridge section of The Bronx. I am getting to know my neighborhood but appreciate the close proximity to Manhattan for work, and restaurants such as Giovanni’s, Feeding Tree, and Crown Diner.

What are your favorite places in the Bronx?

I am a member of the Bronx Botanical Gardens and make it a point to visit during the annual Orchid and Train Shows. I also really love an evening walk at Van Cortlandt Park. A fun and surprising fact is that you can actually fish in the park. It provides an oasis just blocks away from bustling Broadway. I recommend that anyone visiting The Bronx stops by City Island for an amazing meal at Sammy’s! I am a huge fan of the fried seafood platter and totally indulge in the complimentary bread, cheese and pickled vegetable tray.

How did you get started in social justice advocacy?

I first began my career in the music industry working with some of today’s biggest hip hop artists. I realized that many of these acts felt passionately about issues of social justice and the communities in which they were born and raised. Often, it is difficult to know where to best channel your efforts as it relates to championing causes that are near and dear to the heart. This became my mission, to expose talent to opportunities to give back and to elevate causes that related to our communities such as criminal justice, racial justice and voting rights.

Why do you think film is such a powerful tool in promoting change and creating awareness?

At Odyssey Impact we use film to build a more just and compassionate society and make faith relevant by bringing it into the conversation on social issues. We take the emotions that our films generate and channel them into secular and faith collaborations that inspire changemakers to action – locally and nationally. We give a voice to individuals that often go unheard. We utilize storytelling to spark social change around complex issues. Our audiences gain awareness, have a change of attitude and are driven to action based on their viewing experience – thus going beyond the simple act of being entertained.

Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in making changes in their communities?

Start small but think big. Work with Odyssey Impact to host a screening, partner with us to educate and take action by finding us on on Twitter @OdysseyImpactNY or by visiting our website.
Look within your day-to-day activities and find small spaces where you may make a difference. It could be utilizing your social media channels to fundraise or raise awareness around an issue, working with a group of friends to clean up a local park or becoming aware of your local lawmakers and starting a petition to take to their office about an issue that you hold dear.
Any upcoming projects you’re working on that we should look out for? 

We are excited for our upcoming impact campaign for an extraordinary film, “The Rape of Recy Taylor”.  Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, was gang raped by six young white men in 1944 Alabama. Common in Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice. You can check your local listings to catch The Rape of Recy Taylor airing on July 2nd on Starz.

Birthday Dinner at La Masa

After the crazy year I’ve had, when my birthday rolled around two weeks ago, I wanted everything to be really chill. What better way to celebrate than a laid back dinner at La Masa in Morris Park?

While I had gotten a taste of their food about a year ago at an event at Bronx Coworking Space, I had yet to actually visit in person.

With cute, modern decor with pops of red throughout the restaurant, La Masa has a vibrant and relaxed atmosphere, which is perfect for catching up with friends and family.

Our server was really friendly and provided us with some really great recommendations for drinks and entrees. [I ordered the sangria which was really refreshing and strong!]

First of all, everything on their menu sounds amazing, it was really hard to decide. Their empanada selection is crazy, with over 15 to choose from, they have savory and sweet selections as well as vegan and gluten free options. I tried the bacon mac and cheese, beef , and cilantro lime chicken. All of them were good, but the ground beef was my favorite. Can’t go wrong with a classic. I did get to try some of the Husband’s apple pie empanada and it was also really good. (I feel like there’s an innuendo lurking somewhere there. Oh well.)

For my main course, I got the mahi mahi a la parilla because I can’t think of another place in the Bronx that serves mahi mahi! (If you do, please let me know in the comments!) Both my sister and Husband ordered the bandeja paisa, which is this behemoth of a meal including steak, chicharron, chorizo, maduros, rice, beans, an arepa, salad, and a fried egg. So I picked off of my sister’s plate when I was finished with my own.

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It was a great way to wrap up my birthday and I can’t wait to return and try more empanadas.