Music: Featured Spotify Playlist, “Funkysexydownnow.” By @andreakcastillo

Funkysexydownnow

Hello friends!

Yes, it has been a minute and a half since I have updated the blog. In my pursuit for racking dough and musical playlist perfection, I have not updated in a few weeks. Now that I am back, I have a little treat for you. I am delving more deeply into playlist making as for me, it is one of life’s great joys after eating a delicious meal, and jumping into the sea on a scorching day.

I originally created the Funkysexydownnow. playlist a few months back, inspired by the heavy Disco and Funk stylings of LA-based Gavin Turek’s track, “The Distance.” It was literally a one-song “playlist” for weeks. After playing on repeat, I figured out where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to include. My whole vibe is sexy music, so I knew that had to be there. Funk pushes me forward, so I had to include that. Cooler autumn weather translates to downtempo beats (for me), and I wanted all of the tracks to sound fresh and current.

After  many weeks of adding, deleting, and rearranging tracks, I present to you, Funkysexydownnow. Eighteen sexy, funky tunes that you will have in constant rotation all season.

Press play above to wind it down with a funky groove! Be sure to follow as I more than likely will add a few more tracks to extend the chill vibes.

 

*Photo & Graphic by Andrea K. Castillo

Get DATASS To Class! #SweatSessions in the Meatpacking District all Summer ’17!

The Sweat Sessions at 14th Street Park

Summer is quickly approaching, and for most of us, there is still some work we still  want to do with our bodies. Whether it be to drop a few pounds  to fit in that curve-hugging dress for your best friend’s wedding, tightening up your gluten so you look slamming in that teeny bikini, or just getting active to feel better about ourselves, working out gets us there in many ways. For those who live in NYC, we are a little spoiled when it comes to free activities, and the summertime is FULL of free fitness sessions for all.

Back for another go is the Sweat Sessions. Presented by the Meatpacking Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Wellth Collective, the Sweat Sessions holds three 45 minute varied style fitness classes every Tuesday at 6, 7, and 8 PM through August 29th. Classes include yoga, pilates, HIIT, dance-inspired, and bootcamp style workouts from some of the most popular trainers and studios in the city.

Here is a peek of upcoming classes:

5/30

6PM : Uplift Studios

7PM : The Class by Taryn Toomey led by Courtney Deri

8PM : Body by Emily with Emily Samuel of DogPound

Joined by special host @emilia_bechrakis

 

6/6

6PM : Body Space Fitness

7PM : Nike Master Trainer – Benjamin Monk

8PM : ModelFit

 

6/13

6PM : NY Pilates

7PM : Dancebody

8PM : Body Space Fitness

Classes are absolutely FREE, but fill up quick, so be sure to register for sessions ASAP here. Mats will be provided on a first come, first serve basis, and athletic apparel must be worn. See you in class!

 

HUDSON RIVER PARK’S 14TH ST PARK

MEATPACKING

10TH AVE BETWEEN

14TH & 15TH

Event: Camel Assembly x Overthrow Present #GrabMyGloves, Bringing Awareness To Domestic and Sexual Abuse, Sun. 11/20/16

For a little over a year now, I have been a part of a wonderful women’s collective called Camel Assembly. Spearheaded by my good friend and fellow Sistergoddess, Yelda Ali, we gather for monthly assemblies to exchange ideas, team build, and collaborate for the greater good. This Sunday, November 20th, we are holding a very special assembly paired with an incredibly important social campaign for our fellow women; raising awareness for domestic and sexual abuse.

The #GrabMyGloves campaign is the vision of Sistergoddess Heather Ovieda, whose aim was to use assembly as a means to raise social awareness for a cause too many women unfortunately succumb to at some point in their lives. The women-only event will be held at Overthrow Boxing Club, where attendees/spectators will be able to view select Camels sparring for charity in the ring. Following this will be a panel discussion featuring three of Overthrow’s female trainers Alicia Napoleon, Melissa St. Vil, and Ronica Jeffrey, where they will tell their stories and personal experiences with domestic and/or sexual abuse. I am humbled to be interviewing the fighters and moderating the discussion. It will definitely be a powerful moment where our voices will be heard!

Tickets for the event are $30 a seat, with proceeds going to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. The main event will be at Overthrow Boxing from 3-5pm. The “afterparty” will be at Gelso & Grand from 5-8pm. Tickets are still available for purchase now. Grab yours here. If you are unable to attend, or are a man (sorry guys!), you can still donate whatever you can to help support the cause. Hoping to see you on Sunday!
Sunday, November 20, 2016 | 3 – 5 PM
9 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012

Yes, You Can Have A Plant-Based Meal With Flava at Urban Vegan Kitchen

Urban Vegan Kitchen as seen from Carmine Street

When it comes to food, I am always up for an adventure. When it comes to dining out, I prefer a sexier environment that is chill with unique design elements. When these two things are combined, I am a happy camper, and this is the case with Urban Vegan Kitchen. I attended the grand opening event in late October directly after a hot yoga class, ready to eat, drink, and learn more about the new culinary outpost. As I have many friends and family members that are vegetarian (some vegan), I am always in search of restaurants that have plant-based meals that I can equally enjoy.

The brainchild of co-founders Pamela Elizabeth, of Blossom Du Jour fame, and David Tianga, Urban Vegan Kitchen serves up vegan soul food in the former space of Blossom on Carmine. Once crossing the threshold inside, I was immersed into a super cozy space of white-painted exposed brick walls, standard table & cocktail table seating, lounge chairs, with framed photographs and posters hung on every wall. The lights were dim, evoking a sexy, but not too sexy nighttime vibe, with sounds spanning A Tribe Called Quest to salsa hits played by the DJ of the evening.

Menus & cocktail table seating

The dining area was separated from the kitchen with a glass block wall (seen above), offering a distorted, light-filled peek into where the magic happens. Passed hors d’oeuvres were served throughout the evening, my favorites being the Fried Okra served with ranch dressing, and the Chickpea Hush Puppies served with a house-made remoulade. I saw folks with drinks and realized there was another level below. I arrived quite early, but once I found friends and was able to put down my gym bag, I headed downstairs for a cocktail.

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Fan Of Chef Masaharu Morimoto? Enter To Win A Signed Copy of His New Book, “Mastering The Art Of Japanese Home Cooking!”

Here at A Life In The Day of Andrea we are super passionate about food and entrepreneurs. It is incredibly exciting when both worlds combine in the form of talks and other live events. IVY, a membership-based social community with a purpose of lifelong learning aimed to ignite young minds, hosts a myriad of events, spanning business networking, talks, and wellness. For their next salon discussion in NYC, they are hosting an evening with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of the globally famed Morimoto restaurant portfolio.

In his salon event, Chef Morimoto will discuss his newly released book, Mastering The Art of Japanese Home Cooking in a Q&A style, his road from chef to world-renowned restauranteur, and conduct a book signing for attendees to wrap up the event.

Are you a fan of Chef Morimoto, Japanese cuisine, entrepreneurs, or do you just love books? Want a chance to win a signed copy of his new book? Hit us up on social media and tell us why you should win, and be creative! Let us know about new skills you want to learn in the kitchen, food history, anything that stands out. Be sure to include the following in your tweets/Instagram posts/Facebook posts:

  • Your testimonial as why you should win a signed copy of Chef Morimoto’s new book. Extra points for photos!
  • Social handles: @alifeinthedayof | @IVYConnect | @chef_morimoto
  • Hashtag: #IVYConnect or #TheSocialUniversity

If you reside in NYC or the surrounding area and want to attend the salon event, check out the IVY website to become a member. Good luck to you!

Need Some Jerk In Your Life? Miss Lily’s SoHo’s Got You Covered Monday Nights

Jerk vibezzzzzzz

Summer in New York City is in full effect, and all of my favorite things are on the radar; free concerts, chilling in the park, dance parties, and of course, a plethora of barbecue options. As a purveyor of everything NYC and Caribbean, summer in the city for me is filled with reggae music, corn, and jerk chicken.

Our friends at super-popular Jamaican restaurant Miss Lily’s (in SoHo) feel my sentiments, and are offering a unique special all summer. Every Monday night in the summer, the restaurant is offering all-you-can-eat jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk corn, and watermelon salad for the awesome price of $25 plus tax & gratuity! This is a great deal as main courses go for about the same price. Peep the info below.

Want to get your jerk on? Make sure to head over to Miss Lily’s on a Monday evening to get your fix for #misslilysjerkfest.

Miss Lily’s SoHo

132 West Houston Street (at Sullivan Street)

New York, NY 10012

 

*Photos courtesy of Miss Lily’s

Event: The Other Festival, NYC’s 1st All Female Festival, Sat. June 11th at Spring Studios

Here at A Life In The Day of Andrea, we know that the WOMAN is the source of our humanity, and without her, we are nothing. Over the years I have featured the stories of various female entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers in my #WOMANday column who I felt deserved shine for the waves they are making in their respective fields. I genuinely receive most inspiration and support from women, and I always seek to be in spaces with likeminded women to exchange ideas and words of wisdom. Imagine an entire festival featuring badass women?

With the launch of The Other Festival in New York City, we get just that; the city’s first all female festival for makers and creators. Created by Dee Poku, founder of the influential women’s leadership program WIE Network, the fest features panels, workshops, live music performances, and a curated marketplace on Saturday, June 11th at Spring Studios.

Check out the incredible line-up below, featuring talks from Naomi Campbell and Rosario Dawson, and music from Yuna, Vashtie, and many more!

The day begins with talks at 11:30 AM, transitioning into live music at 5:00 PM that lasts into the night. Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $50 for a student pass, $75 for a music pass, $125 for GA, upwards of $1,000 for the super VIP experience. You may purchase here.

The Other Festival

Sat. June 11, 2016

Spring Studios

6 Saint Johns Lane,

New York, NY 10013

Take A Bite: Brunchin’ On A Weekday at Dominique Bistro in NYC’s West Village

Street view of Dominique Bistro

As a purveyor of all things cool and delicious in NYC, I always enjoy the opportunity to discover hidden gems in one of the greatest cities in the world. A favorite neighborhood of mine to peruse is the West Village as a majority of the pre-war constructed buildings are still intact, hosting unique retail offerings in fashion boutiques, casual-faire restaurants, and cocktail bars. Newly opened in the neighborhood is Dominique Bistro, a Parisian-style French bistro located at the historic intersection of Christopher & Gay Streets.

Interior. Photo courtesy of Dominique Bistro

I was invited by the restaurant’s public relations team to partake in a meal, and write about my experience. As a Francophile and frequenter of French bistros, I quickly agreed to the task at hand. I visited the restaurant on a sunny afternoon for brunch. Although at an iconic intersection, Dominique Bistro feels off-the-beaten path as the block was super calm, and quiet. Upon entering the facade, I was greeted by a lovely ambience which included a full wooden dining area, bar with a vast selection of wine and spirits, eye-catching artwork, and a record player playing downtempo musical selections.

Latte with half & half to start

I introduced myself to one of the servers, and was seated within minutes at a table near the windows on the left. She gave me a menu and insisted I begin with a beverage, so of course, I ordered my favorite caffeinated beverage, a latté with half & half. It was served in such a beautiful mug (above) complete with fern latté art.

I took a look around the space to get a feel of the vibe. There was an equal amount of solo diners and couples. As the dining area was pretty quiet, it is definitely good for someone who wants to work on their computer for a bit as they do have wifi. I would not recommend it for groups as it is a smaller venue.

Croque Madame served with French Onion Soup

Now, it was time to order my meal. The pressure was on, as there were so many great plates to choose from, but I finally decided on the Croque Madame from their “French Market” menu. The croque consisted of prosciutto cotto, gruyere cheese, and a sunny side egg served atop a crispy bread from Amy’s Bread. I had a side of French Onion soup to pair and add yet another cheesy element to my meal, because I absolutely love cheese.

I really enjoyed the textures and flavors of the croque, but I must say, it was not the easiest to eat. I used my steak knife to cut it into smaller pieces, which proved a bit difficult as the bread was hard to cut through. I took spoons of soup in between bites and burnt my mouth because I did not judge the cool-down effectively. I can say I was a bit embarrassed as I was sitting by myself, making a slight mess of crumbs, and burning my tongue, simultaneously. Nevertheless, the flavors were solid.

Chocolate Soufflé

Seeing my visible stress, the server asked if I would be interested in dessert, and of course I responded favorably. I am a firm believer that dessert or sweets can really turn your day around. As a huge chocolate lover, I HAD to order the Chocolate Soufflé. It came out super fresh from the kitchen in a ramekin, with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream atop a small bed of walnuts.

X-rated chocolate vibes

How could I resist this? I put my spoon in to release heat and not repeat my prior mouth burn situation, and the visual was food porn at its best, seen above. To say the chocolate and vanilla ice cream pairing was delectable may actually be an understatement. The varying temperatures paired with the crunchiness of the walnuts made it the perfectly balanced dessert.

When in the West Village, be sure to have a meal, snack, or drink at Dominique Bistro. Its inviting atmosphere and delicious Parisian menu are a treat!

 

Dominique Bistro

14 Christopher street
West Village, NYC 10014

(646) 756-4145

 

All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal at Dominique Bistro.

#COZYGirls Shoot with jeffstashbox

Stunt

It has been a bit of time since I have updated the magical world of Andrea, and rightfully so. Things have been a bit hectic (in a good way) so now that I am back, let me reemerge from the shadows with some hot shit. In the past few months I truly have been building up my freelance game in writing, editing, event & video production, and creative endeavors as a whole.

I have been, and am currently being approached by my fellow creatives to be interviewed and or photographed for their individual projects, which I love because it is all about COMMUNITY! With that being said, I wanted to share some super dope images from my latest shoot with jeffstashbox.

Posted up, on the move

Jeff has an amazing photo series called #COZYGirls, which celebrates women of color dressed in their favorite cozy/athleisure looks. I have been following the series for some time now, and I enjoy the fact that he is highlighting girls like us, in a society where women of color are often sexualized for our bodies, scantily clad and painted to be overly dramatic. I jumped at the opportunity to shoot with him, and the proof is the pudding. He provided a Staple Pigeon sweatshirt for me to wear, which was totally on-brand as the colors perfectly represent my fuchsia/white/black branding.

Getting more comfortable

Shot in the East Village outside of Good Records NYC, it was almost serendipitous that it came out this way. I am a huge audiophile, love shades of pink, and it was quite the coincidence that the location was on East 5th Street, the same street I live on in Brooklyn.

Sitting on the stoop

Shooting with Jeff was super organic because I did not really have to pose, but just be myself. I admit I am a bit of a dork when it comes to photoshoots, and my face shows it sometimes. I didn’t think too hard, and just went with the flow.

My mid SB Dunks

To achieve maximum coziness, I brought out my Nike Sportswear joggers that I purchased in Toronto after my Nike Women’s 15K race, my near vintage (2007) SB Dunks, and my black jacquard jacket from Stylemint.

Rapper Pose

For Brooklyn, I ended with a rapper pose/jail shot for authenticity purposes. I had an awesome time, and I hope you enjoy the photos! Many thanks to Jeff for considering me, and dealing with my fake diva demands when I got cold. 😀

 

*Photography by jeffstashbox

Walks Of New York Delights Foodies With The Official Mario Batali™ Greenwich Village Food Tour

Are you a lover of Italian food? Do you love to explore local gems? Do you live in, or will be visiting New York City soon? If you have answered yes to all of  the previous questions, I have got a treat for you. Walks of New York, the walking tour company that helps New Yorkers and tourists alike discover the varied history and culture of the city, has recently launched the Official Mario Batali™ Greenwich Village Food Tour.

I was invited to take the tour myself from the company, and of course, jumped at the opportunity. I have long been a fan of Batali’s work and authentic approach to food, so I was excited to take the tour to discover more about his food and the home to his restaurants, the Greenwich Village.

Washington Square Park arch

The meeting point for my morning tour was right under the arch of Washington Square Park. It was there on that sun-filled morning that I met Simona, my incredible guide for the tour. Originally from Rome and living in New York City for a few years now, Simona was very well-versed in all Italian cuisine from a historical context right up to the present.

I got some insight on the neighborhood of Greenwich Village, and its history as a stomping ground for Italian immigrants. We took a bit of a walk through time, and I am here to share all of my stops with you.

Special menu for Walks of New York

Our first stop on the tour was Batali’s famed pizzeria, Otto. Nestled on the unassuming 8th Street right off of Fifth Ave, the restaurant opened a little earlier especially for us. Upon arrival, we took a seat by a bright window, and had a little tasting of some of the menu offerings.

A glimpse of the offerings

I nibbled on various cheeses, a fresh arugula and cherry tomato salad, sliced salami, perfectly cooked lentils, stewed apricots with chili flakes, and a bruschetta unlike any other. It was really amazing to get schooled on cheese by Simona, and why different varieties get their specific taste. Along with the nibbles  and brick-oven pizzas, Otto has an extensive wine list and education program.

Florence Prime Meat Market from curbside

Our next stop on the walking tour was Florence Prime Meat Market. The old-school butcher shop has been providing the best cuts of meat to the community since 1936. Once inside it feels like you are transported to yesteryear through black and white photos, and some original signage.

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#MANday Interview: M. Tony Peralta Has A Fresh Take On Latina Icons With “Rolos & Icons”


M. Tony Peralta and his work, “Dora Con Rolos”

*Originally published on Slant News

It’s an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon for October and I am making my way to Manhattan’s Lower East Side to chat with artist M. Tony Peralta. His newest exhibition, Rolos & Icons had opened the night prior to a packed house of family, friends, and supporters. This was the first time he had ever held an opening downtown, and the incredible turnout was a feat in itself.

I had been following the works of the Dominican-American artist by way of Washington Heights for a few years now as we have many mutual friends who’ve invited me to his events in the past. I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of his Latin roots, hip-hop and pop culture elements that were consistent through his works.

I sat down with Tony to talk to him further about his career thus far, Rolos & Icons, and the inspirations behind his work.

I have been following your career for a number of years and I have noticed that there has been a strong female presence throughout. Why is it important for you to showcase women of color in your artwork?

The first exhibit I did, Complejo, had to do with identity issues. Mainly being Black and Latino, and the identity issues we have growing up and the effects of it. I started to think about some of the things that women go through as well; the whole good hair/bad hair thing, which I went through myself, as a man. I had curly hair and would shave it off. For women, it’s a little more extreme because they have to go to the hair salon, and get their hair straightened, and relaxers, etc. I grew up with a single mom and an older sister, and a younger sister, and our bathroom was filled with their products.

Growing up with a single mom that was a very strong figure, along with my sisters and brother, I had a good balance. My mom was very influential. I don’t think it’s something that I do consciously. I grew up with low self-esteem, so I touched upon things that affected me [with the Complejo exhibit] but then I started to think about how it affects women as well because they deal with it more, whether it be a hair [texture] thing or skin lightening, if it’s body issues. There was a piece in the exhibit of a woman in hair rollers, and that woman almost became a Latin Mona Lisa. She had a certain gaze that people thought was beautiful, and I feel that it influenced other artists to start creating works with women in hair rollers as well.


A glimpse into “Rolos Con Icons”

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Love Your Local: New York, The Laughing Cow Cheese Gives Us The Goods To Host The Best Dinner Party

Atmosphere at Houston Hall

When it comes to cooking and hosting guests in our homes, there are so many factors to take in. The perfect recipe, the right ingredients, musical selections, decor, crowd, and presentation. What would a dinner party be without a proper presentation on beautiful plates and table linens of our favorite course, the hors d’oeuvres and snacks? The folks at The Laughing Cow have the mission to #ReinventSnacking, and have held a number of Love Your Local events in various markets pairing bloggers with food & entertaining experts to teach us the goods.

I attended the New York City edition of Love Your Local at Houston Hall in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

Guests learning stop motion video with Visual Country

Upon entering the massive beer hall, the space was divided into various sections. Beer and a signature cocktail were available at the bar all evening, self-serve small bites were along the opposite wall, the back section had a set-up to learn stop motion video, a communal table near the center had bites, flatware & linens for food styling, and the front section featured a Southern-flavored snack workshop from Chef Sarah Simmons of Birds & Bubbles.

Showing us the ropes

My first stop was the food styling section. Aside from making, searching for, and eating all the food, I love to set up proper photos of meals to snap away and post on Instagram, my blog, or portfolio. I found a spot on the communal table for the session taught by food stylist and photographer Kristen Hess of TheArtfulGourmet.

The area was complete with a wide selection of beautiful plates, boards, linens and cutlery to pair with various Laughing Cow cheeses, charcuterie, fruits, and other small bites to create the perfect spread.

In the zone

I am competitive by nature and have a great eye, so once we we given the foundations from Kristen, it was my mission to create one of the best spreads at the table. In the area of decorating, I love neutrals with a good color pop, so I found a white polka dot hand towel, which I folded on an angle to be the foundation.

Prepping the shot

I used two small plates, one white to display the various cheeses and crostini with micro greens, and one in a tan/white motif in which I featured salami, figs drizzled with honey, and a sprig of micro greens for color and added texture. I originally wanted to include my cocktail in the shot, but it looked a bit cheesy (no pun intended).

The money shot

Once I fully committed to my ingredients and tools, I properly set up my shot, and snapped the beauty you see above. I felt REALLY COOL that the event’s photographer captured various shots of my spread.

Once the session was over, I head over to Chef Sarah Simmons workshop on Southern-inspired snacks.

Chef Sarah Simmons of Birds & Bubbles

A Carolina native, Chef Sarah Simmons is a culinary force; the CEO of CITY GRIT Hospitality Group and Executive Chef & owner of Birds & Bubbles in the Lower East Side which serves elevated Southern cuisine. In her workshop we learned how to create hors d’oeuvres with a Southern flair.

A feast!

We all sat at a communal table with ingredients fit for a king, spanning sliced meats, fruit, fluffy biscuits, crackers, and cheeses. She demonstrated a unique treat which included a slice of ham topped with a smear of Laughing Cow’s asiago cheese, wrapped over melon. Paired with a biscuit, this combo was a winner amongst guests, that I can’t wait to try at home.

We received hefty gift bags which included a full variety of Laughing Cow cheese, jam, water crackers, a New York State-shaped slate board and spreading knife to start the party. A great time indeed.

 

*Photos courtesy of the Laughing Cow

 

Take A Bite & Sip: Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Sq. Offers Food & Drinks With A View

View of Up On 20. Photo: Real Hospitality Group

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re in the middle of Herald Square in Manhattan on a late weekday afternoon. You may be in the area for work, or visiting for a few days. You are in desperate need of food and drink that doesn’t completely break the bank, and isn’t an Applebee’s either. You are coaxed with huge signs from chain restaurants in the area, but how about if you wanted to be slightly off the main street, and able to catch spectacular views while you are it? Let me introduce you to Up On 20.

Located on the roof deck of the Hyatt Herald Square, Up On 20 is the hotel’s rooftop lounge. I visited on a grey Thursday to check out the location’s food and drink offerings, along with its views. As the weather wasn’t the best, the space was not packed, which made me feel better about having a meal solo. I was greeted by a lovely waiter/bartender and told him I was there for a review. He wasted no time to get me seated and really give me the lowdown on the space.

View from my seat of the Empire State Building. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

The hotel itself opened back in the fall of 2014 and Up On 20 is newly opened for the summer season. I found a cocktail table near the perimeter of the space, to better gaze at the city’s architecture below me, including the Empire State Building.

I snapped a few touristy photos of my surroundings, then got to the menu. The waiter gave me a few suggestions which I trusted as he seemed to be quite the foodie himself. I started with a rum cocktail called “The Old Virgin” which had a base of dark rum and prosecco, with lime and simple syrup. The drink definitely had a kick, but if made with a tad less lime, the finish would have been a little smoother.

All the food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

My food platter consisted of white fish sliders with avocado, NYC-style fresh pretzels with fresh sesame mustard, meatballs with hoisin sauce, and shrimp ceviche paired with kettle chips. I would call the cuisine style “New American Fusion” as it melded flavors from both the Americas and Asia alike. So what did I think of the food? Let’s go one by one.

  • White fish sliders with avocado on whole grain bun: fresh flavors and overall great ingredients for a slider. As the fish is quite plain, a smokey or spicy element would have made this top notch.
  • Pretzels with fresh sesame mustard: pretzel consistency and mustard was very good. A bit too much salt on the pretzel.
  • Meatballs with hoisin sauce: great meatball consistency with sauce pairing. No complaints, but had to bring the rest home because of the portion size.
  • Shrimp ceviche with kettle chips: REALLY liked the shrimp ceviche as it had pineapple in it and reminded me of the ceviche back in Belize. The kettle chips were good, but went soggy quickly as I visited on a rather humid day. A good alternative would be fresh tortilla or plantain chips.

Drea vs. Food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

I had a lovely experience at Up On 20, and would definitely want to go back on a sunny day. The open atmosphere makes it great for everything from after-work drinks, birthday parties, business meetings, and a casual date. Prices are mid-range, with cocktails in the mid to upper teens, and food made to share. If you are in Herald Square anytime soon, definitely check it out. Address below.

 

Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Square

30-32 W 31st St

New York, NY 10001

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal and drinks at Up On 20.

Take A Bite: Chutney Kitchen, For Fast, Healthy Indian Food on The Cheap In The Heart Of The Theatre District

INTERIOR VIEW OF CHUTNEY KITCHEN

In life, the food that I love most is that which we consider “comfort food”. The meals that are usually filled with carbs, and cheese, and oil; those are the things that make me feel happy inside. But what if your favorite comfort food was also healthy? That would be an added plus, right? That is such the case when it comes to Chutney Kitchen.

Located in the heart of New York City’s Theatre District on 8th Avenue, Chutney Kitchen is the brainchild of chef & owner Silu Sao. Having worked in finance on Wall Street for many years, Sao who is of Indian descent, came to a crossroads in her life where she wanted to truly follow her passion. Egged on by her daughter, Sao followed her passion for cooking and decided that she wanted to open a restaurant that offered Indian food in the manner in which she grew up on; packed with flavor with minimal oil, unlike some of the faster Indian food we have become used to in the States.

CHEF & OWNER SILU SAO- courtesy of Chutney Kitchen

With her business partner Pankaj Amin, they founded Chutney Kitchen in 2012 and developed a fresh flavorful menu, that would get the approval of their own families. Their first location opened in February 2015 on 8th Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets, and I had the opportunity recently to visit and try out a few things from their menu.

CHICKEN TIKKA RICE BOWL W/ CILANTRO SAUCE

Upon my arrival, I quickly met with Sao who was just so gracious and incredibly passionate about her business. She gave me a rundown on the space and menu offerings, and offered a few things for me to try. The menu has options for everyone, offering “build your own” bowl options, as well as full plates for those that can be overwhelmed by customizing their own plates.

I tried out the rice bowl (which you can see in the photo above) and topped with chicken tikka, tomato salad, and cilantro sauce. The flavors were bold without being overpowering, and the amount of food was generous. I felt light after eating it as it wasn’t weighed down with tons of oil; they cook their food in light olive oil. The food stations are set up similar to a salad bar where you can pick your protein, toppings, and sauces, which I enjoy because customization is my thing. They also offer a wide range of in-house beverages, including the Hibiscus tea (seen in the photo above), Honey Green Tea, Ginger Lemonade, and more!

FULL MENU

Above you can view the full menu, which offers tons of meal options, all under $10! During the week, there are lunch specials for $11 that include a meal, drink, and chips. Healthy food with flavor for a great price? Yes, you can have it all. When you are in the area, be sure to visit Chutney Kitchen. You will NOT be disappointed.

CHUTNEY KITCHEN

856 8th Ave

New York, NY 10019

212-247-6200

*Photos Courtesy of Chutney Kitchen + Andrea K. Castillo

Live In NYC & Want To Get Fit On The Cheap? Check Out Reebok Fit Hub!

A VIEW INSIDE OF THE REEBOK FIT HUB AT UNION SQUARE

Let’s talk about fitness, k? As I’ve been on my new fitness path, training for a race in June, and just in the mindset to generally get into excellent shape, I am always looking for new fitness experience. As I am on a tight budget, I specifically look for low-cost or complimentary classes throughout Brooklyn & Manhattan specifically to mix of my routine.

In my quest, I search Google about once a week for “free fitness classes in NYC”, and I came across the Reebok Fit Hub. Reebok as a brand has different “Fit Hubs” throughout the country, three of which are in Manhattan (Union Square, Fifth Avenue, and Upper East Side, respectively). The Fit Hubs host series of classes from master trainers/Reebok ambassadors in various disciplines including dance fitness, yoga, and strength-training.

So far I have attended one of their dance fitness classes at their Union Square Fit Hub with a few girlfriends, and had a great time! All classes are for all-levels and offer shopping discounts of 15% items in-store, as well as light refreshments.

Now you ask, “How do I sign up for that thang Dre?”, and I would respond, Follow this link to their Eventbrite page to register for upcoming classes.” Cool? Let’s get active!

 

*Photo courtesy of Reebok Fit Hub