The Metropolitan Opera 2019 Summer Recital Series Returns to the Bronx June 15

The Metropolitan Opera, in association with the City Parks Foundation, presents their Summer Recital Series in 2019, bringing six free performances to all five boroughs in June . Now in its 11th year, the Summer Recital Series gives New Yorkers in all 5 boroughs a chance to experience the beauty of opera in a peaceful outdoor setting all for free.

This Saturday, June 15 at 4 pm,  the series returns to the Bronx with a performance in Williamsbridge Oval Park. Metropolitan Opera stars Leah HawkinMario Bahg, Joseph Lim and pianist Dimitri Dover will perform an early evening of arias and duets from some of opera’s most beloved works. For more info, click here.

 

I attended last year and it was an amazing performance!  Definitely make sure you stop by if you can!

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Travel Tuesday: Sydney

On my quest to visit all* of the continents by 30, I finally finally made it to Oceania this February. This post will be dedicated to my trip to Australia, I’ll save New Zealand for next time.

Where We Stayed

One of the few times my Bank of America travel card has come in handy (I can do another post on travel credit cards if you guys are interested. I’m still new to racking up points.) was in finding a place to stay for this trip. We finally settled on Manor Boutique Hotel because we got a pretty decent deal on it. The pictures of the property were gorgeous (click on that link. It really looks like that on the outside!) and even though some of the reviews talked about it being a little outdated, we figured it was fine.

It was an…interesting experience. So, the room was not bad. However, the internet was in and out. When you travel, you really do rely on the internet a lot to look up…pretty much everything. Then, our tv remote stopped working.  We brought it to the front desk and the woman there gave me another. That one also didn’t work. I brought it back to her and she said she’s be back with another one and..just never came back? We got another one the next day. I know these are first world problems, but at the same time, when you’re told to expect these amenities, you expect them to work. They had a very basic continental breakfast. There wasn’t much change from day to day.

I don’t think I’d stay here again, but it wasn’t the absolute worst.

What We Did

It rained every.single.day. that we were in Sydney until our very last day. Apparently, this is very rare. I came prepared to live on the beach and yet…I was prepared to see some kangaroos and YET. We got really lost and missed our entire tour. I was devastated.

  1. Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art,

We made an obligatory trip to the Sydney Opera House and went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (which was free!). My favorite exhibit was a screening of a powerful documentary about protests against racism and police brutality in Townsville.  It was striking to see parallels between what black folks have been fighting against here and what has happened literally across the world. Afterward, we explored The Rocks and had a quick lunch.

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2. Blue Mountains

Because we missed the Blue Mountain tour on the first day, we decided to take a chance with the hop on, hop off  bus tour. This involved hopping on a commuter rail train (akin to our Metro North or LIRR) for about two hours and then getting the bus. It was decently’ priced and we actually had a nice time, hiking through the trails and getting to see the Three Sisters through the fog.

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3. My absolute favorite thing we did on our very last day. It was also the only day without rain. Blak Markets is an indigenous arts marketplace on Bare Island. All around Sydney there are land acknowledgements to recognize the indigenous people of the area, but the entire week we were wondering “okay, so where are they?” In short, similar to here in the U.S., Aboriginal people have been pushed out of many areas and it’s a constant fight to correct the wrongs have been done. We were so glad to be able to speak to Aboriginal artists and support their work. I bought all of my souvenirs from here.

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Where We Ate

As I mentioned, our hotel continental breakfast left a lot to be desired, so we ventured out to brunch at The Silly Tart Kitchen. We order the Lot, which was so good. They get lots of their ingredients from their garden and you can absolutely tell because everything is so fresh.

You can’t go to Australia and not have a pie.  We went to Bourke Street United. We opted for beef and a chicken, sweet potato one. They were delicious! And way bigger than we expected.

 

Overall, I had really high expectations for Sydney and was a little disappointed by some of our setbacks and the torrential downpours. I’d love to return to Australia some day and get to other parts of the country.

(*I’m not doing Antarctica. I’ve thought about it a lot and….it’s just not gonna happen.)

Taste of the Bronx to Launch New Subscription Box

Taste of the Bronx, a monthly pop-up market featuring local Bronx vendors, is set to launch a brand new quarterly subscription box featuring products from locally sourced Bronx-focuses products. All products have to meet strict requirements to earn the Taste of the Bronx seal of quality. The Spring box features merchandise from Sustainable Snacks, From the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden, Cards by De, and more!

A partnership between Sustainable Snacks and From the Bronx,  Taste of the Bronx ‘s markets highlight local businesses and give them an opportunity to sell the wares and connect with others in the community.  I love that the market and new subscription box are focused on uplifting and spotlighting Bronx entrepreneurs.

Taste of The Bronx gathers Bronx entrepreneurs in a celebration of everything that makes our borough unique. Our subscription box and monthly markets are a true Bronx experience. The Bronx has so much to offer that there will always be something new to see!” says Anthony Ramirez II, Taste of The Bronx partner.

To find out how you can be featured in the Taste of the Bronx subscription box or to sign up, click here. PLUS! you can visit the market and get a taste for yourself (pun obviously intended) at the market at Bronx Cookspace (50 E. 168th St, Bronx, NY, 10452) tomorrow, April 14 1-6pm.

 

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.