Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lifestyle Dynamic Journey - Hell's Kitchen

     Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton (and formerly as Midtown West) is a neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It is traditionally considered to be bordered by 34th Street to the south, 59th Street to the north, Eighth Avenue to the east, and the Hudson River to the west. The area provides transport, medical, and warehouse infrastructure support to Midtown's business district.
     Once a bastion of poor and working class Irish Americans, Hell's Kitchen's location in Midtown has changed its personality since the 1970s. Since the early 1990s, the area has been gentrifying, and rents have risen rapidly. Located close to both Broadway theatres and the Actors Studio training school, Hell's Kitchen has long been a home to learning and practicing actors.

There are plenty of places to eat in Hell's Kitchen.  As the population changes and grows, more and more food establishments pop up.  I had the pleasure of dining at Medi Wine Bar on 9th Ave and 54th street.  It serves a Mediterranean inspired cuisine with a experimentation with new ingredients almost on a daily basis.  The ambience is elegant and welcoming.  Dimly lit with a single candle on the table.  The waitstaff is very attentive and knowledgeable about the menu.  Food was served in decent time without causing a wait for anything.  I tried to order a little bit of everything from the menu so I can experience the full side of the choices from Medi Wine Bar.  

I started with 1/2 dz blue point oysters.  Three (3) of the six (6) were very small.  So consistency in product wasn't there.  However, we are talking about oysters, which is pretty much hit or miss anyway.   It came with lemon wedges, tabasco sauce, and what looked like a custom cocktail sauce which was sweet when added with some lemon squeezes.  

Next, I went with Sautéed Chicken liver bruschetta.  A single piece with large bread that should really have been a little thinner as it was difficult to eat. The chicken liver isn't gamy, but the goat cheese slightly overpowers the bite.  It is tasty with a good balance of caramelized onions, cheese, and chicken liver that made the single piece worth having.  

Finally, I ended the meal with Hanger steak with arugula and shaved parmesan. Not the best piece of meat for the price, but this place knows what rare steak means! Nice red color on every slice.  Many pieces of meat and an overly large amount of arugula and large pieces of parmesan cheese shavings. No other sauce or seasoning was needed.  Ultimately the meal was worth it. 

So after a meal like that, you would definitely need a place to work it off.  Hell's Kitchen has a few places for you to get your sweat on.  A popular spot is Mark Fisher Fitness.  When you first look at MFF, either on the website or in person, it looks more like a circus than a fitness center.  Crazy costumes and interesting behavior, but don't let that fool you.  Mark Fisher Fitness is one of the most knowledgeable fitness centers in NY with excellent programming and coaches.  It's just a bonus that they like to have a lot of fun.  

Hell's Kitchen is also home to many bars, lounges, and night spots.  So if you're looking for a place to go after your meal, you are sure to find something within walking distance to wherever you are.  One favorite place is Bar Nine.  Bar Nine is not only a bar, with typical bar grub and drinks, it is also a piano bar.  Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening, you get to see two dueling pianos playing hit songs from the last few decades.  Space is limited for the show so its best to reserve a table for groups of two or more.  If you walk in as a single, there is plenty of room at the bar if you get there early enough.  Otherwise you can stay in the back where the couches are, but you can't see the show from there.  The night can end around 11:30pm or continue until well after midnight.  It all depends on who is playing and how the crowd is enjoying themselves.  Prices are normal for a NYC bar so don't really expect to have discounted drinks or food.  If you decide to reserve a table, there is a two item minimum for each person.  Drinks or food.  Water doesn't count.  It's a great time with great NY people (no matter where you're from).  

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lifestyle Dynamic Journey - Healthy Lifestyle

When you make the conscious decision to lead to fit and healthy lifestyle, the work is going to be hard and time consuming.  It will be difficult, but it will pay off.  Leading a healthy lifestyle isn't a destination.  There really isn't an end result.  It is a constant journey to remain healthy, even when you are tested the most.  

Focus, Confidence, and Determination! 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lifestyle Dynamic Journey - Franklin Square, NY

Small towns can offer a lot.  Like hidden gems where you least expect them.  Sometimes they are just small towns with nothing to offer.  Franklin Square, NY isn't one of the latter.  I don't say this because I live here, I say it because it is a melting pot of culture and heritage.  So many mixed families have come to call this town their home.  A definite change from the decades ago I once knew.  The more this town changes, the more I like it.  When you bring in new families with new cultures, you bring in new businesses that offer things not seen before.  To some that can be threatening, but to the open minded (or those of mixed decent) it is welcoming and exciting actually.  

What is now Franklin Square was near the center of the Hempstead Plains, and used as grazing land, and later farmland, by the first white settlers. The southern portion included oak and dogwood forests.
In late 1643, Robert Fordham and John Carman made a treaty with members of the Massapequak, Mericoke, Matinecock and Rockaway tribes to buy roughly 100 square miles upon which they intended to start a new settlement. They purchased this tract, including much of what are now the towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead. The source of the name "Franklin Square" is unclear. It has been speculated that the name honors Benjamin Franklin, but he had no historical connection to the area. It has been suggested that it was named for some now-forgotten local settler or notable.
In 1790, George Washington passed through the town while touring Long Island. He wrote in his diary that the area was "entirely treeless except for a few scraggly fruit trees." Walt Whitman spent three months in the spring of 1840 as the schoolmaster of the Trimming Square school district, in the area where Franklin Square, Garden City South and West Hempstead intersect.
In 1852, one Louis Schroerer built a hotel near a tollgate (by what is now Arden Boulevard) of the Hempstead-Jamaica Turnpike (toll road). The hotel attracted an increasing number of visitors and immigrants (the latter often German) from New York City to the formerly rural hamlet. Population grew steadily until the sudden intensified surge of suburbanization into post-World War II Long Island reached the village. By 1952, the farms were all gone, replaced by newly built houses full of emigrants from nearby New York City.  Franklin Square is part of the Town of Hempstead. (Thanks Wiki)
One way to observe the culture in a single town other than the people, is the food.  Franklin Square is no different.  What was mostly folks of Italian and German decent, has been replaced by people of all places.  This town is home to some of the most diverse food spots within its tiny acreage.  You want Italian or pizza? Go to Little Enrico's, A small family owned pizza shop that isn't satisfied with the basic slices or typical Italian fare.  Try some eggplant parmigiana pizza slices.  Or how about grilled chicken caesar salad pizza? Penne al la Vodka slice of pizza? Of course the traditional slices are available, but there is always something new to try at Little Enrico's.  

If pizza or Italian food isn't your fancy, how about Thai? Frankly Thai is an authentic Thai restaurant located on the busy thoroughfare throughout the town - Hempstead Turnpike.  Frankly Thai offers true to form Thai food at a reasonable price.  The Chef is Thai! That is awesome.  It isn't a large, fancy place.  A community type feel with attentive servers and a glass front so everyone passing by can watch you eat.  Oh and it's BYOB.  

How about Mexican food? Who doesn't love a good taco right? Well I know a few people who don't, but nobody is perfect.  Only a few blocks away from Frankly Thai lies Guacamole Mexican Grill.  An authentic Mexican run establishment serving simple yet delicious food from south of the border.  You have steak or chicken tacos, burritos (large burritos btw) bowls of either steak or chicken with rice, pico de gallo, sour cream etc etc etc.  Don't forget the quesadillas and chicken fingers for the kids.  

Lastly, if all else fails - Go American, bar style food.  I mean it is always a good fall back to have burgers, sandwiches, wings and beer.  Brews Brothers Grille is that place for you.  It isn't your franchise sports bar, its owned and operated by a bunch of guys who call themselves brothers.  Actually I think they are actually brothers.  At least some of them.  There are like 5 or so owners I think.  Anyway, with a great selection of beer on tap and a full bar, you will not be thirsty waiting for your food to arrive.  Like I said, burgers, wings, sandwiches and more await you at the local Brews Brothers Grille.  

So whatever your mouth waters for, or wherever you wish to visit, Franklin Square has the culinary transportation to bring you there.  After eating at any of these places, make sure to catch a movie at the Bow Tie Cinemas (update: Cinema is now closed as of 2021) located on Hempstead Turnpike (next to Synergy Fitness Center).  

From there, you have many options to get on out.  Centrally located to the Cross Island Parkway, Belt Parkway, Northern and Southern State Parkways for your continuation on your journey through life. Hope to see you soon passing through this little town I call home.  

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lifestyle Dynamic Journey - The Smith NoMad

     You can see the name "The Smith" in many parts of NYC.  A group of restaurants of the same name are spread out through Manhattan.  Whether you are in the East Village, Midtown, Upper West Side, or NoMad area, there is a spot for you to dine in.
     I recently was able to get a table at the NoMad location on 27th & Broadway.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name NoMad - it means North of Madison Square Park.  Now I went in on a Friday evening at 7pm without a reservation.  I figured it would be a long shot getting a table and perhaps just take a seat at the bar.  Unfortunately for me, there was zero room at the bar, in fact, I couldn't even see the bar from the front due to the sea of patrons dining and enjoying a few drinks.  It is a good idea to make reservations for a table as the bar and the high tops (tables higher than regular tables with barstool style seats) are a first come first serve basis and only seat about three (3) people comfortably.  I was told that it would be a 45 minute to 1 hour wait for a table (actually that was told to everyone) so I waited.  It was too cold to go find somewhere else to be honest.  To my surprise, after only 25 minutes, I was seated.  Excellent start already.

    The menu has a bit of everything.  Steak, fish, chicken, pasta, raw bar, salads etc.  There is an extensive drink list.  Whether you are interested in wines, beers, spirits or cocktails the bar at The Smith can accommodate.  Service is fast and attentive.  My waiter had a great personality and made the experience even that much better.

     I ordered a simple burger.  Actually it was the Burger Royale.  A double beef patty, local American cheese, apple smoked bacon, house pickles, shredded romaine, red onion, 50/50 sauce, sesame bun, and fries. Lots of fries.   It looked unassuming as it was coming over, and from an aerial view I was disappointed,  until I took it in on a profile view.  The burger only looked small because of the mountain of fries that accompanied it.  The burger was cooked well, and the flavor was well thought through.  You would think that with all those ingredients on top of a burger, it would be a mash up of conflicting palette pleasing pieces, but on the contrary, it was delicious.  It was easier to eat than anticipated, once the initial fear of unlocking your jaw to ingest the meal wore off.  Did I mention the amount of fries that you get? It had moments of sweetness and a good crunch from the lettuce, pickles, and bacon.  Is it worth the $17 price tag for a burger? I would say yes.  Its a double patty with, incase you weren't paying attention, a lot of fries! 

    Like most restaurants in Manhattan, the tables are close together...real close.  I was able to see another patron's salad.  Well, they ordered a salad.  The Maine Lobster Salad.  It actually looked like there was more pieces of lobster than actual lettuce or anything.  It had avocado, burst tomatoes,
french beans, brioche croutons, and a buttermilk vinaigrette.  All I saw was lobster pieces.  Big lobster pieces.  Apparently, she enjoyed it because it was gone, completely gone.  

     This was the second of the restaurant locations I had eaten at.  Both were a great experience and great food. Typical Manhattan food prices, but well worth it.  Sometimes you have to wait even when you have a reservation, but my experience at The Smith has been nothing but quick seated, servers with personality and food not lacking of flavor and excitement.  I look forward to exploring the other locations.  I am headed to Washington D.C. in a few weeks, so perhaps i'll check out their newest location in our nation's capital.  Looking forward to it.

Life is meant to be lived so make sure you do just that! Travel, Eat, Lift & just LIVE! A membership is not required to live your life...so go and live it.

For more assistance with choosing foods or creating recipes and plans go here

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Old fashioned manual labor could be the key to tackling obesity!

    Before office jobs or tech jobs were the majority, most people held manual work or "blue collar" type jobs. Farming and construction used to be on top of the workforce list.  Families ran businesses together.  Getting up at 4am to milk cows, plow fields or build homes was an everyday occurrence not a once in a while, go in early to get out early thing.  You started early and you ended late.  That was it.  What about the health of these types of people? Grant it the life expectancy was a bit shorter, but most folks just did what they had to do to provide for their families.  There wasn't sick days or vacation days.  They lifted, pushed and pulled all day, everyday.  Their bodies were muscular and their hearts were strong. They didn't get sick, they couldn't afford to.  The only thing that stopped them was their diets. Smoking was acceptable and butter was in everything.  Cholesterol was high, but thats a different story.  The physical nature of the work completed kept them strong and healthy. 

What if we could mimic that type of work, but in our workouts?  Traditional machines wouldn't be necessary.  All you would need is heavy things.  Your body will change.  This is the ultimate resistance training.  The long periods of "work" give it a cardiovascular benefit. 

Getting back to basics to tackle future health problems.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Lifestyle Dynamic Journey - NYC Greenwich Village

      New York City is truly a magnificent city.  There is so much to see and do, so many places to eat, or even places to just sit and people watch (not creepy at all).  Trying to avoid the Starbucks ridden street corners is more difficult than you think and seeking out original spots in the city is easier than you think.

      I had the pleasure of finding an original spot in the heart of Greenwich Village on Macdougal Street.  Saigon Shack.  Authentic Vietnamese food at a fantastic price.

      One of the staples of Vietnamese food is Pho - a rice noodle soup with thinly sliced beef or chicken and herbs.  It is a very light soup, but filling at the same time.  The Pho at Saigon Shack was nothing short of fantastic.  The traditional Pho was perfect! So much flavor, large pieces of beef, herbs, onions, noodles were easy to eat and the broth is superb - not boiling hot!

     If soup isn't your thing, then go with the Banh Mi.  A beautiful sandwich with mayo, cucumber, cilantro, carrots & daikon, Vietnamese ham, house bacon & pate. It is sweet, crunchy, and with perfectly blended flavors.  It has excellent taste and texture.  It really is a complete sandwich.  

     Once you're done filling up on the great food, you can take a walk through Washington Square Park only a few blocks away.  Whether you fancy a game of chess, watching some artists performing, listening to music or just sitting and watching all the people, the park is a great place to do it.  

     If going for a walk isn't enough for your fitness level then you can check out any of the health clubs and gyms in the area.  New York Sports Club, Blink Fitness, and Planet Fitness are the bigger names in the area with memberships ranging from $10/month to $85/month.  Amenities vary at each location, but remember that you get what you pay for.  

  Now if you are just visiting or don't need to go to the gym, then having something to do for the evening is a great plan.  There are plenty of bars in the area, but they can get busy and noisy.  If you are looking for something a little different, check out the Comedy Cellar.  A small, intimate venue that holds some of the greatest comedians to ever grace the stage.  I personally was able to see the late, great Robin Williams perform before his HBO special some years ago.  
     If that is going to be all for your evening,  I would recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the Olive Tree Cafe because it is right above the Comedy Cellar.  The food is Mediterranean in influence with authentic flavors and textures.    

     NYC is a large place and there are always new things to see and do.  By the time you have read this I am sure a few new restaurants have popped up or a new gym is toting their new revolutionary workout.  Life is meant to be lived so make sure you do just that! Travel, Eat, Lift & just LIVE! A membership is not required to live your life...so go and live it.  

For more assistance with choosing foods or creating recipes and plans go here