Tag Archives: New York City

Vincent D’Onofrio is the Answer

Sometimes Vincent D’Onofrio is the answer.

Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dana Lyn
Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn

I find that my mood darkens with the shorter days and often by December I’m rather unpleasant to be around. I’ve learned ways to fight it, which are usually only semi-successful. This year I had not only the lack of light to contend with, but also new triggers brought about by events that happened this time last year and a workload that has been more stressful than usual.

Then last week I saw that Vincent D’Onofrio will be releasing a spoken word punk album in the spring. I fell down one of those internet rabbit holes and learned that he would be performing in NYC in a few days and that tickets were just $20. I’ve had a long-standing fascination with Vincent D’Onofrio. I’m pretty sure I watched every episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent when I was pregnant and, more recently, I was so disturbed after watching Chained that I couldn’t sleep. His monologues in The Pawn Shop Chronicles made the movie. He completely inhabits the characters he plays and exudes an intense undercurrent that is compelling to watch.

I mentioned the performance to my family who encouraged me to go. I hemmed and hawed because of the expense. I wondered about my sanity in wanting to go to NYC for a matter of hours to see Vincent D’Onofrio perform spoken-word punk. And then I remembered that my sanity was already questionable and said, fuck it, and ordered tickets and reserved two seats on Megabus.

View of the Susquehanna River from I-95, on the Megabus
View of the Susquehanna River from I-95, on the Megabus

So on Saturday morning WPT and I headed to White Marsh to catch the bus to NYC. We learned that if there is space you can switch buses for a nominal fee, so we boarded an earlier bus and were on our way north.

Peanut and Avocado sushi
Peanut and Avocado sushi

We were early and decided to walk from the bus stop (at 28th) up to Russian Samovar (52nd) where were we meeting a friend. Along the way we stopped at Sushi Osaka because they have one of my favorite rolls ever – avocado and peanut. This was wise, as the rest of the day would only offer vodka, olives, and fried potato products. I’ve written about the Russian Samovar previously and for many reasons it is my favorite bar. My friend arrived and we graduated from shots to carafes of horseradish vodka.

Russian Samovar
Russian Samovar

Somewhere around 6pm we stumbled into a cab. We assume this is where WPT lost his hat. I’ve learned that any trip to NYC takes a little something. At least this time it wasn’t a phone screen or wallet. We arrived at Joe’s Pub and found our seats. Yet more fried potato products were consumed.

Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dana Lyn
Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn

Sitting in the dimly lit theater I realized how light my mood was. A spontaneous trip to NYC with WPT, getting to see a good friend, and now listening Vincent D’Onofrio talk about his imaginary friend and describe a hamster’s world view was exactly what I needed to get past the hump of the darkest days of the year. It wasn’t the answer I expected to find.

Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dana Lyn
Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn
Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dana Lyn
Slim Bone Head Volt, feat. Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn

After the show was over we had a bit of time before we needed to head over to 34th and 11th to catch the bus back to Baltimore. Our first stop was the Little Lebowski Shop (I needed a new t-shirt; five isn’t enough apparently), then onto Generation Records. We boarded a little before 10:30pm and were soon fast asleep, lulled by the road noise and the fulfillment of a perfect, ridiculous quest.

The Little Lebowski Store, East Village
The Little Lebowski Store, East Village
Washington Square Park, East Village
Washington Square Park, East Village
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Russian Samovar

Russian Samovar
Russian Samovar

Each May, I pilgrimage to NYC for BEA (along with the rest of the book industry). Last year a friend introduced me to Russian Samovar. I made a newbie mistake that first year – I dove headfirst into the delicious savory vodkas (and on an empty stomach no less). Worst hangover of my life. And I had to work the next day.

Russian Samovar, savory vodka
Russian Samovar, savory vodka
Russian Samovar, vodka menu
Russian Samovar, vodka menu

This past BEA, my friend and I arrived at Russian Samovar about 7-8pm on a Friday night and stayed until after midnight. We left a party with free top-shelf drinks to pay for our own. The place is that good. The vodkas were just as delicious as I remembered, but the ambiance was even better. There was dramatic live music and by midnight there were also a few vodka-fueled personal micro-dramas and the music provided a perfect soundtrack to imagined conversations. Also, you haven’t really lived until you’ve heard Russian-accented Kenny Rogers.

Russian Samovar, live music
Russian Samovar, live music
Russian Samovar, live music
Russian Samovar, live music
Russian Samovar, live music
Russian Samovar, live music

I introduced WPT to the place when we traveled to NYC in August and despite it being a bit early in the evening, he suddenly understood what I had been raving about.

Russian Samovar, potatoes in all forms
Russian Samovar, I love potatoes in all forms

My recommendations: try the horseradish and garlic vodkas. When they start getting on top of you, order the dill french fries. Try a few more flavors – coriander, basil, and ginger are all good. Then repeat the fry trick. About 4-5 shots in, they transcend their mere potatohood and become something akin to perfection. When you’ve decided you’ve had just about enough, order the cherry vodka as a nightcap. Then stumble outside, stare up at the sky, and think for a moment just how fantastic NYC can be.

Russian Samovar
Russian Samovar
Russian Samovar, greatest bartender ever
Russian Samovar, greatest bartender ever (seriously)

There is something almost addictive about the horseradish and garlic flavors, so a week or so after we returned from NYC, WPT decided to try and infuse some at home. We don’t have any live music at home and we attempt to keep the personal micro-dramas to a minimum, but we have discovered the next best thing to Russian Samovar. We are experimenting with a few different vodkas, but Sloop Betty, featured in our last post, is by far the best. Recipes below…

Little Water (vodka)
Little Water (vodka)

INFUSED VODKAS (INSPIRED BY RUSSIAN SAMOVAR)

HORSERADISH VODKA
1 bottle (750 ml) Sloop Betty or other good-quality vodka
6 half-inch slices of horseradish root
1 clean quart-size Mason jar w/lid

Place horseradish root in Mason jar and fill with vodka (saving the original bottle). Tightly screw lid on jar and give vodka a few good shakes. Store in a cool, dry place for at least four days, thereafter testing vodka until desired level of flavor is reached (I prefer a minimum of one week). Can be shaken and smelled during the infusing process. Using funnel, strain vodka back into original bottle for ease of serving. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

GARLIC VODKA
1 bottle (750 ml) Sloop Betty or other good-quality vodka
1 medium-large bulb of garlic
1 clean quart-size Mason jar w/lid

Peel garlic and place individual cloves in Mason jar and fill with vodka (saving the original bottle). Tightly screw lid on jar and give vodka a few good shakes. Store in a cool, dry place for at least four days, thereafter testing vodka until desired level of flavor is reached (I prefer a minimum of one week). Can be shaken and smelled during the infusing process. Using funnel, strain vodka back into original bottle for ease of serving. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

Russian Samovar
Russian Samovar

Russian Samovar
256 W.52nd Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-757-0168
Website: http://www.russiansamovar.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Russian-Samovar/106942739345111?fref=ts

Carlton Arms Hotel

Carlton Arms Hotel, lobby
Carlton Arms Hotel, lobby

There is a wonderful, dare I say, magical hotel in NYC. It is an artist’s dream, a child’s fantasy, and a budget traveler’s deepest desire. I speak of the Carlton Arms Hotel.

Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9

The hotel is eccentric and has quite a history, but as a traveler I love that about it. Every room is painted (or sculpted) differently and nothing is plumb (it is a 100+ year-old building). Located at 25th and 3rd, there is a pedestrian area right outside the hotel with tables. It is within walking distance to a ton of stuff, including a fantastic all-veg Indian restaurant a few blocks away. There are also at least two hotel cats, which is always a plus in my book. Based on personal observation it seems to be popular with international travelers.

Carlton Arms Hotel
Carlton Arms Hotel

When I made the reservations, I didn’t specify which room I wanted (you can see them online), I just let them know we had two adults and a child and wanted a room with a private bath. For $150, we got just that AND we got the best room ever. As with all of their rooms, the art is amazing, but this room offers a scavenger hunt. It starts on the wall and leads you to the dresser drawer with another clue, a hidden drawers and notes, and eventually a hidden compartment in the floor with a box. Inside the box are notes and mementos from previous guests. As an adult I thought this was cool; for a child, the scavenger hunt made the Carlton Arms Hotel (and his first real trip to NYC) nothing short of magical.

Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Scavenger Hunt

 

Carlton Arms Hotel
160 East 25th Street, New York, N Y, 10010
Phone:  212-679-0680; 212-684-8337
Website: http://www.carltonarms.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carlton-Arms-Hotel/180074818707159
Email: artbreakhotel@aol.com

WPT, at Carlton Arms Hotel
WPT, at Carlton Arms Hotel
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9
Carlton Arms Hotel, The Heart Chamber, Room B9