Monthly Archives: March 2012

NYC: The City of Culinary Delights (?)


When my sister used to plan her visits to me in NYC, we spent hours discussing where we would eat. An early love was the French Culinary Institute; later came Buddakan. We went vegan at Candle 79. We gave careful thoughts to desserts, and sometimes decided it would be best to have dessert-only meals.

So it was only natural that when Nancy Botwin decided to bring her 4 kids to the Big Apple, we didn’t worry about what to see or how to get there so much as WHAT TO EAT. In the land of small spaces and advance resos, we were concerned about eating options for the 10 of us. The ten noisy of us. Seven of whom are pre-Bar Mitzvah age. All of whom have a sprinkling of ADHD. What kind of restaurant would be appropriate . . . ?

About 4 weeks before our planned excursion, I solicited recommendations and made a few calls:

Carmine’s, with giant servings of pasta and plenty of loud to go around? No manga.

Mars 2112, featuring Martian food and a spaceship ride? No longer in this world.

Serendipity 3, home of the infamous frozen hot chocolates? Try your luck elsewhere.

Landmarc? Where Marc Murphy has moved his haute cuisine and 300-bottle wine list into the  last available restaurant space in the $1.7 billion Time Warner Center? Where one can dine on Foie Gras Terrine and Calves’ Liver while sipping Cristal and chatting about the Fall 2012 Miu Miu Collection? So kid friendly!

“It is!” insisted a friend, “They serve $6 Captain Crunch and PB&Js! Dessert is cotton candy!”

Sounded perfect. I booked it.

You might say we ought to have thought about more than food. Like — the date we were going in. March 17 is not so quiet in NYC. After all, on March 17, everyone is Irish. Which is everyone’s excuse for being drunk.

When we arrived in Penn Station, this is what we saw:

Even the protestors at Zuccotti Park were Irish (double score! Not only was it St. Paddy’s Day, it was also the 6-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement):

The drunks were real characters. So were these guys:

MoFo meet ElMo

And these:

Minnie vs. Minnie

But let’s face it–the Ferris Wheel at Toysrus, talented street performers, drunken St. Paddy partyers, protestors in the act of being arrested . . . our kids primarily had one thing to say: “I’m huuuungry.” This was occasionally interspersed with “I’m tiiiiiired.”

Well, Mother of Exiles, did you ask us to give you our tired, our poor brats, our huddled hungry masses yearning to be fed?

Maybe the kids aren’t so different from us. They, too, think NYC is the land of culinary delights. In fact, they ate so well all day, I had no choice but to cancel our Landmarc reso.

So, if you are heading to Manhattan with a bunch of bambinos, I’m the gal to call if you need a rec. I know all the best places to take kids . . .


Who knew the Canadian hockey player turned coffee genius was Irish?


Everyone's happy with a happy meal


Local cuisine! (there are maps of NYC on the walls . . . )


Vanilla Bean Frappucino Sugar Attack


Mr. Softee on the subway

Pi Day


Pi Day –3.14, or March 14–is a big deal where we live. If you stroll around town, you might find yourself bumping into Albert Einstein or walking in on a Mathlete contest.

For this exciting day, LL decided to join the Pi recitation competition. For a week and a half, he went through sheet after sheet, each printed with 6 digits, as he painstakingly memorized the first 180 digits of Pi (or 179, according to the judges, who only count the decimals). Cool J sat in the background while LL studied, calling out random numbers or yelling “Ticka ticka!” When I told him to be quiet, he sighed his 4 year old sigh and said, “But reciting Pi is SO uncool.”

The Studying Begins

A little further along . . .

LL plugged away at his numbers. He also spent some time praying that his archnemesis, Sonofworldfamousmathematician, wouldn’t show up. Sonofworldfamousmathematician had won the contest both years of its existence. Last year, at 9 years old, he recited 315 digits. Sometimes I fed LL Wikipedia-gleaned facts about Sonofworldfamousmathematician. For example, at 10, he is not only an uncle, but a 3-times-over great-uncle because his dad is not only busy developing new theories! Sonofworldfamousmathematician became as real and unreal as Superman.

And then the day arrived. The judges were introduced. One of the judges is a professional competitor; he can recite 15,314 digits. The kids were to recite in no particular order. The contest was for kids ages 7-13, so the range was quite large. One very cute little 3 year old got up on stage and said, “3.141 . . . ” (LL in my ear, “That’s it?? That’s all he can do . . .?”). LL, at 6, is also below the minimum age. Still, he was very hopeful that he might win the prize: a whopping $314.15(9)! We were less hopeful, but proud. We tried to change the conversation when we heard him promising Cool J various coveted Legos with his prize (this part, of course, was *cool*).

When LL got on stage, it was right after a 13 year old girl who is, according to our google search, a perfect Type A. Last year for her bat miztvah project, she raised money by running a half marathon. I’m still years away from getting that far in my running.

Type A began to recite. And recite. At one point, she faltered and asked if they judges could repeat back her last 10 digits string. They demurred. The room was tense as she thought and fidgeted and thought and then continued — and ultimately recited one thousand seven hundred and five digits!!!

LL recited after Type A. Although he stumbled on digit 24, we all know that he can do 180 (179)! And it's awesome that he was willing to try! Mama scheps much nachas.

So, LL didn’t win. But, being 6, he was just as disappointed that he didn’t get a glimpse of Sonofworldfamousmathematician as not winning $314.15 (I secretly wondered if the boy wonder had fled around the time Type A was getting to her 1000th digit).

And that was that. The victory was not to belong to my child this year. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a great experience (this is the same boy about whom I would get notes home last year from his teacher reading “Good news! Your son said something in class today!”).  Anyway, the day is not just about money and pi digits. It’s a fun day for geeks of all kinds. Maybe I’ll do one of the contests next year. I was thinking maybe I’d write a Piku (3/1/4) or better yet, the pie eating contest might be right up my alley.

According to my sister, Nancy Botwin, after whom Cool J apparently takes, Pi Day is so uncool. For the non-geeks who make up the rest of the world, she tells me, March 14 has nothing to do with pi–or pie. It is a holiday of a very different sort. I *blush* to repeat such a thing, but let me tell you that when she told me her version, I realized why it might just draw a larger crowd . . .

So, whether you’re a meat-loving freak or a math-loving geek, Happy 3.14!

Happy Purim


The old joke is that all Jewish holidays bear the same motif:

They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.

But the food never seems to accurately reflect the true goriness of our past. Not the latkes, not the matzah, not the apples and honey! And so–

In honor of all those who had to beat the 3-cornered hat right off of Haman’s head, here’s some





Haman, we got ya good. Yum yum yum!


Poor Princess, and her apprentice, Cool J, aka Poor Pincher