New York State of Mind

I have always known that before I left this Earth I would have to visit New York City. Ever movie or picture I have seen of NYC screams “ENERGY!!!” I love places that are so noisy that you can get lost in your own little world when you are there. When my friend, Olivia, told me she was planning a trip to NYC, I knew this was my chance so I told her that we should go together and we did!

It was everything I hoped it to be. I met some wonderful people, (shoutouts to Brenda, Theresa, and Maguerite!!) all NYC natives who have the attitude of New Yorkers but are as sweet as can be. Marguerite and her husband Hector are from Puerto Rico and came to the NYC to create a better life for themselves and their two boys. They started a small carpet cleaning business in NYC, going door to door to clean apartments. After a few years, and because of their amazing work and word-of-mouth good reviews, they are NYC’s best carpet cleaning providers. The American Dream fulfilled, yes?

Those who know me know I love, love, love to eat. So, it isn’t a surprise I had to check out a few of the most popular NYC restaurants.

Italian in Acappella

If you want to dine at the same restaurant featured in the first episode of the HBO series "The Sopranos," then Acappella is the place for you. Northern Italian flavors and recipes from such regions as Tuscany, Rome, or Milan are favorites of locals and visitors alike. After ordering a bottle of wine from there extensive list, try the tuna caviar or polenta with Fontina cheese and mushrooms. For the next course, the lamb chop with tomatoes & mushrooms, fettuccine with artichokes in a white wine sauce, or the steamed sea bass with garlic are good choices. Anything you order here will be a delight. Don't be surprise if you recognize a couple of movie stars and famous people as this is a place they frequent often (I saw Robert DeNiro, how cool is THAT????)


Balthazar, S'il vous plait

Dining at Balthazar is like eating at a bistro in France. Visitors can stop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In addition, there is a bakery next door for those wanting a take-out order or delivery to your New York City hotel as well as cake and other dessert sweets. Make reservations to eat in and enjoy sour cream hazelnut waffles with fresh berries and a mimosa. For lunch, try the roasted lamb sandwich with grilled vegetables or the pumpkin ravioli with walnuts. After a Broadway show, stop in for dinner afterwards as Balthazar stays open very late.

Nashville: Finger Licking Good!

Lauren, here!

When I was in college, I spent a semester at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I met a woman, Amira, who became a friend for life. She was a Nashville native and she always told me that there was no way I could leave the city after my semester there was over without eating some Nashville BBQ. BBQ is big in Nashville.  A lot of these establishments offer the best in down home, country BBQ meats and sides, so if you ever decide to travel there, you won't have to go far to get a good meal. The friendliness and hospitality of these eateries, as well as the Nashville natives I met, gives me great memories of my time in Nashville and at Vanderbilt.

Jack's Bar-B-Que

Jack's is not only a restaurant, but a store as well. You can order smoked turkey, smoked sausage, BBQ pulled pork, or beef brisket by the sandwich or plate with sides like macaroni & cheese, cinnamon apples, potato salad, or corn slaw. But what everyone comes to Jack's for (as recommended by my girl, Amira) are the smoked St. Louis style ribs. Order them for your meal, and then get a slab to take back with you to your Nashville vacation home. Along with that, get a couple of bottles of the sauces and spices as well. For souvenirs, purchase Jack's t-shirts, travel mugs, baseball caps, and coffee mugs, which I did and send them back to my relatives in Sweden. The owner, Mr. J (as everyone calls him), got the restaurant from his father. The thing is that he was headed to CA for a job and wasn’t interested in running a rib joint. But he knew that he couldn’t just let the restaurant close, so he gave up his prestigious job in CA and stayed in Nashville to continue Jack’s Bar-B- Que.

Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q

I have never had cole slaw, or even heard of it, until I came to Nashville. Then when I did have it, I couldn’t stop eating it…lol. It became my “crack.” Every place in Nashville I ate at, I had to have cole slaw, and since that is another staple here, my fix was fed. One of my fav spots to eat cole slaw was at Jim ‘ Nick’s Bar-B-Q. Pair it up with some hot links, ribs, or hickory-smoked turkey, ham, beef brisket, or chicken, and I felt like I died and went to heaven. Jim and Nick are brothers and after spending time in NYC at jobs that drained them mentally and physically, they decided to go back home to Nashville and open Jim ‘ Nick Bar-B-Q.