About Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.
Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.
She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
Latest Posts by Jessica Tiare Bowen
re’s something so nice about wandering back out into the city after a dinner at home and stopping by a bakery for a sweet treat, no? This summer I’ve found myself wandering quite often to the gorgeous, brownstone-lined UWS neighborhood, and stopping at one of these five spots for a little something, something.
1. For Cookies: Levain Bakery
Dense, moist, gooey…yep, pretty much describes the four cookie flavors on tap at Levain Bakery. An UWS institution, this small bakery (easy to miss if you’re not looking!), makes in-house legendary cookies in the flavors of: chocolate chip walnut (my fave), oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chocolate chip, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. One will set you back $4, but there’s enough ingredients packed into that thing that it’s totally worth it, promise.
2. For Crepes: Crepes & Delicies
I stumbled into this place after yoga one night, and have been returning ever since. There’s not too much that can top my dessert choice over a solidly made Nutella Crepe, and at $7.50 a pop, these guys do them right. If you’re into the whole wheat crepe, they’ll make that for you, too. The savory options are also delicious, I love the goat cheese, honey, and spinach.
3. For Rice Krispies Treats: Treat House
This place will transport you back to your childhood in seconds. Remember afternoons melting down marshmallows and stirring in your favorite cereal? Yep, this place is all that, with some grownup twists. With flavors like Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate Pretzel, and Birthday Cake (my fave), there’s really something for everyone. Bonus: all treats are certified Kosher (meaning no yucky meat products in those marshmallows!), and are also dairy-free and gluten-free…almost making up for the fact that one bitesized treat will set you back $2.25.
4. For Cream Puffs: Beard Papa’s
“World’s Best Cream Puff”, anyone? That’s the motto this place boasts, and I have to say, they’re pretty spot on! These little guys are light, fluffy, and filled with creamy sweetness that will make you want to waddle back up to the counter to order just one more. I love the original ($2), but there’s plenty of other flavors to try, such as the chocolate covered Eclair Puff.
5. For The Sweetest Parisian Cafe Vibe: Cafe Lalo
I’ve never had anything on Cafe Lalo’s menu I didn’t love, so I’d say it’s pretty hard to go wrong here (cheesecakes, tarts, mousse, you name it!) You’ll probably recognize this twinkle light-strewn cafe as the backdrop in scenes of the movie You Got Mail. While it’s small and there may be a bit of a wait, it’s seriously such a cute and delicious way to wrap up a summer night.
Where’s your favorite place to grab a sweet treat? Share below!
Every Friday afternoon, I walk by the MOMA to see a huge line snaking around the building of what appears to be (mostly European) tourists waiting to get in for Free Friday afternoons. This got me thinking…when I was in Paris earlier this summer, the museum wasn’t dominated just by Americans…in fact, it seemed that a good portion of the patrons were French.
1. Instead of making the rounds, focus on one piece of art that really inspires you.
In the NY Times article “The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum”, it states: “When you go to the library,” said James O. Pawelski, the director of education for the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “you don’t walk along the shelves looking at the spines of the books and on your way out tweet to your friends, ‘I read 100 books today!’”. Indeed, instead of perusing art in quantity, focus on really taking in one piece that speaks to you…taking the time to really look at it, study it, learn the history of it, and become somewhat of an expert on that particular piece.
2. Curate your museum experience to your interests.
If you are really into a particular subject, say fashion or music or dogs, why not focus your visit on JUST those pieces of art that align? Museums are filled with passionate educators and volunteers at the Help Desks who would be more than happy to point you in the right direction of pieces that correspond with your passion, and you can spend your precious time in front of those works of art rather than being overwhelmed with an entire museum.
3. Take a FREE tour.
Yes, yes, I know I’m always encouraging you guys to jump on a tour. But really…so much fascinating information, guys! The beautiful thing about most NYC museums is they offer tours to fit your personal style…from free docent led tours focusing on a specific theme or exhibit, to audio/cell phone/iPod tours that let you navigate areas of interests solo, there’s plenty of options for every kind of personality.
4. Treat your visit as a “Mall Walk”.
I know some artsy folks are totally shaking their heads at me on this one, but hear me out! Walking is one form of exercise I get in every single day…and sometimes NYC weather conditions just aren’t agreeable to a long walk in Central Park (rain, sleet, and extreme heat, I’m talking to you!) Since we don’t have the super-size malls that exist in a lot of suburbs, why not take advantage of the large museums for a power stroll? You can check ahead of time here to see which museums are free on which days, put on your comfy walking shoes, grab your headphones, and get a nice walk in while still taking in a bit of culture. Win/win, NYC!
5. Stalk a particular artist’s work, both in and out of the museum.
The great thing about visiting museums in this day in age is you can really educate yourself about the artist of interest ahead of time. If Andy Warhol is fascinating to you, why not watch one of the many movies/documentaries available about his life on Netflix, check out biographies for free via the public library, do some pre-visit Google searching on him during your lunch break…you get the idea. Then, by the time you head to see his pieces on display at the museum, you’ll already feel a deeper, more personal connection with the man behind the art…(and can also sound like quite the expert with whoever you may be touring the museum with!)
Would love to know…what are tips/tricks you use when visiting museums? Share below!
Photo credit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/arts/design/15museum.html?_r=0
Sometimes solo explorations around New York City are the best, right? They allow you to be as poky (or speedy!) as you please, and to really focus 100% on the adventure at hand. Last week I took myself on a little museum + lunch date in Midtown.
The Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland exhibit is currently live in the Morgan Library & Museum, and kid-lit fan as I am, I couldn’t wait to see it. It was fun learning the history of the story…in 1862, author Lewis Carroll was on a Thames River boating trip one delightful English afternoon with the young Liddell sisters–Lorina, Alice, and Edith–when the girls asked for a story. Creative Carroll happily obliged, making up a tale that sent his heroine “straight down a rabbit hole, to begin with, without the least idea what was to happen afterwards”, and thus the story of Wonderland was born! That evening young Alice asked for a written copy of the story, and a few years later, the original manuscript was finished. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a wild success, and from that day on, has never been out of print. The exhibit is up through October 11th, so if you’re a fan, do be sure to stop by!
^^One of the last 25 remaining copies of the original edition.^^
Fun, right?! And of course, I couldn’t leave the Morgan without popping into Mr. Morgan’s exquisite study and library. It’s truly a treat, and I’d recommend a visit to every New Yorker and tourist alike!
After my visit to Wonderland, I stopped in to a nearby cafe for lunch. Keko Cafe is small and adorable with a Parisian vibe circa 1930 (oh, the music!), and serves up every kind of crepe you could possibly imagine, along with on-point tea and coffee drinks. My appetite was a bit ferocious, so I went with the lentil soup and mozzarella and tomato pesto sammie combo, finishing off with a chocolate chip cookie.
They also have an afternoon tea special where you can get tea, tea sandwiches, and a scone with all the fixings for $14. I’ll totally be back (with company) for that one!
Have you been on any solo adventures lately? Share below!
There’s no better time to break out of your normal routine than during summer in NYC. The city seems to empty out on the weekends (thank you, Hamptons!), and having your own mini-adventure can be just as therapeutic as an actual vacation…plus, no packing!
We’ve perused through our archives to bring you 10 things you should, without a doubt, try before fall sets in. Happy adventuring, NYC!
1. Treat yourself to a $25 massage.
2. Head to Queens to take a guided tour of Louis Armstrong’s house.
3. Get lost in nature in the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden, free Wednesdays and from 9-10am Saturdays.
4. Drink the best frozen margaritas in the city overlooking the Hudson, with your pooch!
5. Grab your sweet tooth and go on a cupcake crawl!
6. Pick a neighborhood you’re unfamiliar with and go on an iPod walking tour.
7. Spend the day sunning at one of the many NYC pools (several of them free!)
8. Join a free outdoor yoga class.
9. Cool down at one of these 5 amazing ice cream parlors.
10. Head to a NY beach, many of them there is no car required!
What’s on your adventure list? Share below!
Ask any New Yorker that has dined at the Midtown New York Yankee Steak House and they’ll tell you this: NYY Steak is to steak what the Yankees are to baseball–the cream of the crop, top notch, very best. Period. In fact, give one of their 21-day USDA Prime steaks to a Mets fan, and I bet you they’ll even agree!
Located on 51st Street between 5th and 6th, NYY Steak is in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, right across from Rockefeller Center. Its central location makes it the perfect spot to grab a midweek steak, just because it’s a Tuesday, or gather your favorite foodie friends for a special celebration. The restaurant itself is huge, a rarity in Manhattan, so unlike so many other steakhouses, you don’t feel like you’re dining with the couple next to you, privy to every piece of their conversation. Always a plus in my book. Plus, Yankee fans will have the best time touring the restaurant, from seeing Babe Ruth’s actual contract to their custom made signature wall including 86 autographs of legendary Yankee team members.
We started our meal with their legendary Greek salad, which I have to say is one of the best Greek salads I’ve ever had (yes, Greece included! And double yes, this is huge coming from a vegetarian that eats A LOT of salads!) My husband gobbled up every last morsel of the tuna tartare, singing its praises along the way, until alas the main event came to the table.
THE STEAK. And not only an ordinary steak, but just look at what they carved into the bone! I was completely smitten! While I was busy Instagramming, the hubs was busy getting his eat on…until these very words came out of his mouth: “This steak? Yeah, I could turn into a Yankees fan for this steak.” (Coming from a Queens boy who loves his Mets something fierce!) See folks? I told you.
But we’re not quite done yet. The finale was a classic New York style cheesecake, topped with sour cherry compote, coffee syrup, and baked in a graham cracker crust. And the Brownie Sundae…vanilla ice cream, fudge brownies, Cracker Jack, pretzels, chocolate sauce, melt-in-your-mouth-goodness…total home run, NYY Steak!
Let’s face it — summers beckon to be spent near the water, but that doesn’t always mean schlepping out East on the Jitney for the weekend. On a recent weekend, we joined the New York Health and Racquet Club’s brunch cruise on their 75 foot yacht.
We boarded near East 23rd Street, and cruised down the East River, around the southern tip of Manhattan, up to Tribeca on the Hudson River, and back again. As you can see, absolutely gorgeous views of all the important NYC landmarks…bridges, The Empire State Building, even a closeup of Lady Liberty!
The brunch menu included light fare such as fruit, yogurt, and granola…venturing up to quiches, wraps, and bagels and lox. A cash bar and music was available on the upper deck, and down below you could sit and enjoy the views in peace and quiet, with the occasional sea spray jumping on board to cool you off. Such an iconic NYC summer afternoon!
Yacht tours run from early May through early October.
What’s your favorite way to spend time near the water during the summer? Share below!
*If you’re not a member or guest of a member of the NYHRC, the price is $60.
Let’s review a number of great events and festivities this summer in the Big Apple. First, the Lincoln Center Festival is such a summertime treat. We caught The National Ballet of China’s Penoy Pavillion, one of the most famous love stories from Chinese literature (think China’s version of Romeo and Juliet.)
Two: My doula recommended the book Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to a Fabulous and Abundant Pregnancy, which I gobbled up in two days, flat. Best pregnancy book I’ve read yet, written by NYC maternity lifestyle maven, Latham Thomas. If you’re an expectant mom with a zeal for veggies and yoga, totally grab a copy.
Three: Recently began taking saltwater aerobic classes at the New York Health and Racquet Club, and it’s decidedly my new favorite workout!
Four: Every Wednesday, I look forward to author Gretchen Rubin and sister Elizabeth Craft’s new episode of their spirited podcastHappier, a quickie 20 minute pick-me-up discussing practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits.
Five: Have you guys heard of the boutique Meg? I visited their East Village location recently and was instantly in love with their dresses (some of which work for maternity wear without looking frumpy, thank God!) Everything in the shop is locally made, with the motto: A meg-tastic piece should make you feel fashionable, elegant and chic but also feel like you are wearing PJ’s. Effortless fashion is always the goal!!
Six: This simple French Yogurt Cake is as delicious as it is easy to make, and has been on rotation in our home for tea time, dessert, and even brunch!
Seven: I’m rereading The Great Gatsby for bookclub this month, and love it even more now than I did back in high school. I mean…these quotes. “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”
Eight: Love cream puffs? I stumbled upon a Japanese bakery on the Upper West Side, Beard Papa’s, dedicated to them, and they’re delicious.
Nine: Pulsd NYC is my current go-to app/site for finding quirky (and heavily discounted) experiences in the city and surrounding areas. If you’re on the hunt for summer adventures, totally check them out!
Photo credit: BroadwayWorld.com.
It took me all of 2 seconds looking at the menu to decide I wanted cheese pierogies and cherry and cheese blintzes (cheese and potatoes? da, pozhaluysta!) Now, I don’t have much experience to compare this to, as Ukraine cuisine is not something I regularly dabble in. But–it was delicious, quick, well priced, and both plates were licked clean. I’d totally recommend checking them out for a little tastebud vacation to Eastern Europe…the best borscht and kasha varnishkes in NYC await!
Note, they also host weekly dance lessons in the restaurant’s backroom–how’s that for a fun night out?!
Are you a fan of Ukrainian food? Share your go-to dish/restaurant below!