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.

IMG_3522

IMG_3527

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

 

Advertisements

Hip Hop Legends & Street Artists Come Together for Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo

This weekend kicks off Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo -” A Celebration of the WILDLIFE that is Bronx Culture and History” featuring a full line up of Music, Art, Dance, Food, and MORE.” 

Read below for more info:

The Bronx Zoo is celebrating wildlife and the diverse culture of the Boogiedown Borough like never before at a series of springtime events fittingly titled “Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo.”

For more than 120 years, the Bronx has been the birthplace of culture that has changed history and created movements. From humble beginnings, the Bronx is the home of global legends and leaders that have had a profound influence on the world through hip hop, breakdancing, doo wop, street art, salsa, AND wildlife conservation. The Bronx has it all!

 Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo presents a variety of many cultural contributions that have resonated from the Bronx. Starting on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, and continuing weekends from May 5 through June 3, artists and performers from a diverse representation of Bronx cultures will be on-site to celebrate the Bronx Zoo, Bronx culture, and wildlife.

Many iconic forms of music have originated in the Bronx. Working with Bronx-based organization Windows of Hip Hop, the zoo will host musical performances by hip-hop pioneers, world-class DJs, and teach guests how to “scratch,” create an 8-meter rhyme, and more.

Special appearances by Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio ‘Furious Five’ and The Sugarhill Gang will be the backbone of the of the musical line-up. Hip hop legendGrandmaster Caz will be on site at “Caz’s Corner” each weekend teaching everyone how to create rhymes and emcee like only he can.

The street corners of Arthur Avenue in the 50s, helped solidify doo wop’s place in New York City.  Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo will take a step back in time to feature performances from artists that will keep everyone dancing. Guests can also enjoy some of the cuisine from the real Little Italy. (June 2-3.)

Music and dance performances derived Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Afro-Caribbean rhythm and dance that emerged and thrived in the Bronx will take center stage on themed weekends that will include music, dance, and traditional cuisine samplings. (May 26-28.)

Not only is the Bronx Zoo home to historic sculptures and architecture like Rainey Gate, Rockefeller Fountain, and the landmarked beaux art buildings on Astor Court, but Boogie Down events will feature Bronx artists creating new masterpieces live for the crowd.

Graffiti started as a scourge that transformed into a modern art form that can be seen and appreciated in murals around the Bronx, New York City, and around the world. Renowned street artists will create wildlife works on the zoo’s historic Astor Court.

Even the Bronx Zoo’s resident wildlife will get into the spirit of the Boogiedown as they contribute their own artwork to the festivities to create original paintings like no other.

Painting is a form of enrichment that some of the animals at the zoo engage in, and provides a great opportunity for them to interact with their keepers. These animal paintings will be the basis for some of the artwork finished by famous street artists like Crash, Tats Cru, Andre Trenier, and others.  The finished paintings will be one-of-a-kind works.

Participating performers:

  • Grandmaster Melle Mel, Scorpio ‘Furious 5’
  • The Sugarhill Gang
  • Grandmaster Caz
  • Rokafella (breakdancer)
  • BombaYo (Bomba music)
  • Rock Steady (doo-wop music)
  • Luis Damon salsa band
  • Mighty Bengal Step Team (student step team from the Bronx’s PS 55)
  • Dynamic Rockers Crew
  • Hip Hop Dance Conservatory

 

Street Artists:

  • Tats Cru (Bio, Nicer, BG 183)
  • Crash (John Matos)
  • Andre Trenier
  • Giz
  • Menace 2
  • Resa Piece
  • Shiro
  • Ian Sullivan
  • Matt Buck
  • Son of a Finch
  • Kay Love
  • Lovie Pignata

 

        DJs:

  • DJ Sammy
  • DJ Jazzy Jay
  • DJ C Styles
  • DJ Lady Love
  • DJ Jazzy Joyce

Take a look at a sample of the cool art project that combined art created by actual otter at the zoo that artist BG183 transformed:

I can’t wait for you to hear Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz perform “Animals and MCs” , it’s legit. (New summer anthem?)

 

Grandmaster Caz
Melle Mel

Curtis Fisher
Melvin Glover

For tickets and a full schedule of performances, activities and themed weekends, visit www.BronxZoo.com/boogie-down.

Last, but not least, a huge shout out to Windows of Hip Hop for their work on this project.

It’s going to be amazing, get your tickets now.

 

The Prague Socialite: A Weekend in Bratislava

One of the best things about Prague is its central location, making it super easy to travel to other countries. In the time it would take us in the Bronx to take a bus to D.C., you could be in an entirely different country. It’s really cool. 🙂

It hasn’t been the easiest month for me, that’s a post for another day, but I felt the need to get away, so I booked a trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Because I know I was asleep in history class, I’ll give you a very brief history lesson here. The Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be one country (Czechoslovakia, which you are definitely not to call either of these countries, it’s considered a major faux pas) until they decided to separate in 1993. It’s apparently the only former socialist state to separate without violence, according to Wikipedia anyway.

Anyway, Bratislava is only about a 4 hour bus ride from Prague, so I booked some tickets and a cheap hostel and packed my book bag with a change of clothes. As much as I like to think that I’m spontaneous and go with the flow, I’m starting to just accept the fact that I like to plan things out a research information so I know what to expect. But, with all the stress I was dealing with, I literally only planned the hostel I was staying at and a brunch spot. It was actually really refreshing to just wander the city and say “Oh, that’s a cute street, I’m gonna walk over here.”

Where I Stayed:

Because I planned the trip so last minute and just needed a place to sleep for one night, a hostel was my best bet. In the States, I think hostels get such a bad rap (probably because of that movie I never saw), but I’ve been in some really great ones all over the world and they’re especially great when you’re on a budget. I stayed at Patio Hostel because of its affordability and proximity to the city center. I stayed in a mixed 6-person dorm, which consisted of bunk beds and drawer-style lockers. I always bring my own combination lock when staying at a hostel. It was okay. Literally a place to lay my head at night.The woman working at the front desk gave me some suggestions of where to go and where to eat and gave me a coupon I could use for 10% off a nearby restaurant.   They did provide a free welcome drink, which I definitely appreciated.

[I use HostelWorld to search and book hostels. I’ve used it for about five years or so and I have no complaints.]

What I Ate:

Since I still had about an hour to check in, I took my 10% off coupon and headed to Slovak Pub.  To be honest, I wasn’t super excited to check this place out because Czech food has a reputation for being very heavy – lots of meat, potatoes, and bread. So I  figured Slovak food would be similar. Thankfully, I was wrong, I got a cheesy garlic soup in a bread bowl, which would have been enough, but I was starving so I also ordered a dish with chicken and potatoes. I even got two glasses of wine for 1 Euro each. I was stuffed afterward.

Another really cool place I went to, and the only place I actually looked up beforehand was a cute, trendy restaurant called Urban House I went to on Sunday for brunch. The decor was really warm and inviting and the food was delicious. I ordered a slice of avocado toast and some eggs benedict with smoked salmon.

IMG_1797IMG_1795

What I Did:

Like I said, I pretty much just showed up. So on Saturday, armed with a map from the hostel, I looked at some things that sounded interesting. I walked to the presidential palace, Bratislava Castle and gardens, the city walls, and Old Town. Sunday, it was raining so I headed to the Natural History Museum, the Nedbalka Gallery (which resembles the Guggenheim in Manhattan!) and explored the Europe Galleria mall.

IMG_1806IMG_1798IMG_1803

 

As it turns out, my visit coincided with Bila Noc, an art festival that uses lights in all kinds of different ways, so I bought a ticket, and wandered around Old Town following the crowd. My favorite exhibit was a series of lights shone through e metal square with a variety of slats so a new design shone through with the changing of the lights in time with music.

IMG_1780IMG_1779IMG_1743IMG_1710

Overall, it was a really great weekend trip and definitely worth a visit. I never would have though I’d find myself in Bratislava but I’m so glad I did.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bronx Bloggers Dinner at Travesias

Hello! I have barely been in my kitchen all week, I’ve been spoiling myself by going out almost every night for dinner, I blame Travesias for setting the bar so high that my own cooking is unacceptable.

Monday, the Latin fusion restaurant hosted the Bronx Bloggers for dinner. I think I’m salivating just remembering it. The owner, Brian, was extremely friendly, accommodating, and helpful when explaining all of the delicious fare.

We started off with seemingly endless pitchers of “La Secreta” sangria, which is a top secret recipe, which probably makes it even more delicious.

Next, we noshed on coconut shrimp with pina colada sauce, crab rangoon, rice balls, and my favorite the to’chimi sliders-a twist on your average sliders by substituting buns for tostones.

If that wasn’t enough, (those were just the appetizers!) we had a medley of rice with pork and a fried egg for our entree.

I don’t know how we were able to do it, but finally came the desert, which, of course, we devoured. We received some warm bread pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and to our surprise, a Bronx Bloggers themed banana and nutella topped cheesecake.

Seriously, don’t wait to make your journey to Travesias.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dinner at Taqueria Tlaxcalli

20120106-235933.jpg

This beautiful sight is the braised pork burrito from Taqueria Tlaxcalli. Located at 2103 Starling Ave. (just a couple storefronts down from the well-known Bangladeshi spot Neerob.) This past week, the New York Times wrote a profile on TT. Granted, it’s a fine article and because I love this place so much I know they deserve the press. But I’m conflicted because since beginning my love affair with this place a year ago, it’s been one of my favorite hidden gems in the borough. Now, the Times wants to come in and tell the world! I actually had to wait on line to be seated tonight! *GASP*

Honestly, though, this place is awesome and if you haven’t been there yet, you’re missing out.