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
Anyone else struggling with this weather just a teensy tiny bit? Winter in NYC just seems to drag post holidays, and I can personally attest to needing a bit of a pep talk in order to leave the apartment, cause that cold that seeps into your bones is just no fun.
When I heard about Haru’s new staycation in a glass cocktails, my interest was piqued. I gave myself a bit of cheerleading “come on Jess, just a few more layers, 19 degrees is really not all that awful, think of the Canadians! they do this every day!”, bundled up, and headed to their Times Square location to test them out.
Cue the sunshine!
Haru’s limited-time cocktails, channeling warm weather and beaches all around, surely do a wonderful job of warming you up from the inside out.
The Cucumber Gimlet is Haru’s twist on the traditional cocktail, and really speaks to New Year’s purity and lightness with a combination of muddled fresh cucumber, lime and cilantro shaken with homemade simple syrup and the 34-times-distilled Purity vodka.
I’m a gal who enjoys her drinks on the sweeter side, so the Passion Fruit & Lychee Saketini, made with Don Q Pasión rum with nigori sake, lychee purée, homemade simple syrup and pineapple juice, was pure summer in a glass.
Both cocktails are perfectly paired with Haru’s seasonal menu offerings including Chicken Dumplings, Crispy Halibut with Fresh Winter Mix and the Black Forest Roll. The Chicken Dumplings appetizer are pan-fried and accompanied by Haru’s signature dumpling sauce. The Crispy Halibut with Fresh Winter Mix is a Japanese take on fish and chips—minus the chips for a more New Year’s resolution-friendly entrée. Instead, you’ll find a winter salad of snow peas, carrots and jicama lightly tossed with lemon dressing. On the sushi side, the elegant Black Forest Roll includes smoked salmon, black tobiko (caviar), cucumber, freshwater eel and torched cream cheese.
All seasonal items are available through the month of March, which is pretty perfect considering it isn’t until April in these parts that we can finally think of shedding our down and wool coats for trenches. Until then, you’ll find me at Haru’s bar, saketini in hand.
p.s. for those of you not in the NYC area, (or you New Yorkers who can’t seem to pep yourself up to leave the house, no judgement!), we were able to score Haru’s top secret recipe for the saketini I love so much! Bottoms up, my friends!
Passion Fruit & Lychee Saketini
1.5 oz. Don Q Pasión Rum
.5 ea. Nigori Sake
1 oz. Lychee Puree
½ oz. Simple syrup
½ oz. Pineapple Juice
*Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
*Add ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds.
*Strain into a chilled martini glass.
*Garnish with Lychee fruit.
I was checking out post holiday sales on flannel at Ralph Lauren Polo this week when I stumbled upon the most unexpected little coffee shop tucked away on their second floor, Ralph’s Coffee. Cute, right?!
Coffee shops (other than Starbucks and super duper expensive hotel cafes) are hard to come by in the central midtown area, so this was a real treat to find. I grabbed an oatmeal raisin cookie ($3) and a cup of joe ($3), and secured a spot by the window, watching snow flurries and 5th avenue hustle and bustle. Besides being spacious, Ralph’s also offers free wi-fi and plenty of plugs to charge up your devices.
The inspiration for the cafe, from the inventor of preppy himself, goes as such: “The smell of freshly brewed coffee evokes so many memories for me, mostly of times spent with friends and family, the people I love. I wanted to develop these coffee blends in that spirit and create a place where people could come together and take a break from their busy days.” Touche, Mr. Lauren.
Besides, I think we can all agree that coffee trumps flannel any day…at least for the wallet;-)
Have you found any foodie gems in your neighborhood lately? Share below!
My very first visit to NYC was at Christmastime when I was in high school when my mother brought me and my siblings into the city to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. For a dancer/theater lover like myself, it was truly the most magical experience, and it was then and there that I decided that someday, I too, was going to be a New Yorker.
Fast forward many, many years later to my grad school graduation and it ended up being held at Radio City! I practically skipped across the stage, making sure to pause right in the middle to blow mom a kiss (she was somewhere in that huge audience of 6,000 seats!) This classic venue holds quite a bit of sentiment to me.
So, when I heard about the Radio City Stage Door Tour, I was stoked. The tours leave every half hour, so we jumped on an afternoon tour (that coincided with the Christmas Spectacular, so extra festive excitement!) The tour lasts an hour, and takes you into the private Rockefeller viewing suite, through the back corridors of the theater, past the Rockettes’ warm-up and audition rooms, and it includes a meet and greet with a Rockette!
Of course all along the way we were fed tidbits of info about the history of Radio City (opened on December 27, 1932!), the Rockettes (in peak season they perform 6 shows a day…the girls are split into morning and afternoon shows to take some of the pressure off!) and the theater’s memorable moments (Bette Midler shattered a record at Radio City in 1993 by selling out 30 shows!)
Whether you’re a theater lover, have littles that love dance, or just want a fun and festive and WARM tour of a piece of NYC history, this tour is definitely one to keep in mind! Reservations aren’t needed, but you can score a bit of a discount for booking tickets online.
I give my regards to Broadway, (and Off-Broadway), as much as humanly possible. I see a lot of shows, so narrowing them down for a seasonal roundup is no easy feat, as you can probably imagine. But, despite all the really great theater that’s out there right now, here are five really great shows that struck our hearts a little bit deeper, made us laugh a little bit harder, and had us talking a little bit longer than most. They’re all pretty different, but we’re certain there’s one here that will speak to you.
The Lion King
OK, this show has been on Broadway for the longest. But I must shamefully confess, until this fall, I had never seen it. I guess I was just thinking, “hmm, ginormous animal heads on actors strutting around on stilts? there’s just no way that can ever be on par with beauty and the beast or aladdin.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. I seriously had chills during the opening scene as the animals came down the aisles, and those chills didn’t subside until long, long after I left the theater that evening.
You’ll love this if: Obviously, if you loved the original Disney movie, you’ll have a great time singing along (in your head, of course) to every single number. A totally appropriate show for kids, and honestly, I just can’t think of any adult who wouldn’t absolutely love this. Let’s just call it a MUST see for all ages.
Summary: Giraffes strut, birds swoop, gazelles leap – the entire Serengeti comes to life. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly rises from the stage. This is THE LION KING. A spectacular visual feast, this adaptation of Disney’s much-loved film transports you to a dazzling world that explodes with glorious colors, stunning effects and enchanting music. At its heart is the powerful and moving story of Simba, and his epic journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.
I usually err on the side of musicals over plays when picking my Broadway shows. And yet. Disgraced completely blew me out of the water, and I can honestly say it was the most moving play I’ve ever had the experience to see. It deals with a lot of tough topics…religion, race, affairs, nature versus nurture and how it shapes us from an early age…perhaps instilling ideas that can never quite be shaken.
While I personally disagreed with the way they presented the Islam religion, I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a deep show that provokes hours (yes, HOURS) of discussion afterwards. Whether you leave the theater feeling wowed or infuriated, the point is you WILL feel, and you will feel strongly. Isn’t that what Broadway is all about?
You’ll love this if: You’re open to a show discussing deep topics that are usually discouraged at the dinner table (politics and religion). It’s not a feel good show, in fact, the ending is pretty depressing. But it will leave you anything but speechless and provides tons of fodder for conversation post-show.
Summary: DISGRACED is the story of a successful Muslim-American attorney who has renounced his religion and secured a coveted piece of the American Dream. Living high above Manhattan’s Upper East Side, he and his artist wife host an intimate dinner party that is about to explode. Witty banter turns to vicious debate, and with each cocktail comes a startling new confession, painting an unforgettable portrait of our perception of race and religion.
You’ll recall from Joanne’s full length review that we’re enormous fans of this Broadway delight.
You’ll love this if: You are a romantic at heart, and can appreciate a show with no sets, no elaborate costume changes, no blocking, no stage directions…but a really beautiful story unfolding of the lives of the two thespians. Expect your heart to be flooded with emotions, the warm and fuzzy kind.
Summary: LOVE LETTERS is a disarmingly funny and unforgettably emotional portrait about the powerful connection of love. Two friends, rebellious Melissa Gardner and straight-arrow Andrew Makepeace Ladd III have exchanged notes, cards and letters with each other for over 50 years. From second grade, through summer vacations, to college, and well into adulthood, they have spent a lifetime discussing their hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, and victories and defeats. But long after the letters are done, the real question remains: Have they made the right choices or is the love of their life only a letter away?
Sex Tips From A Gay Man To Straight Women
You’ll blush, you’ll laugh, you’ll have the most titillating 80 minutes of theater, quite possibly ever.
You’ll love this if: You like to laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. This is a show to go to with a group of friends, bachelorette party, or even your significant other (mine loved it!) Have a few cocktails beforehand, and be prepared for a truly fun and entertaining night at the theater.
Summary: In this hilarious new romantic comedy based on the best-selling book of the same title, audiences are welcomed into a fun-filled world of insider advice that could only be culled from that most insightful of individuals: the gay man. The play is set at a local university auditorium where the English department holds its monthly meet the authors event.
Robyn is the shy and studious moderator of the event and this month’s featured author is Dan Anderson of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. With the help of a hunky staged assistant named Stefan, Dan aims to turn this meet the authors event upside down with a highly theatrical, audience interactive sex tip seminar.
Will Stefan’s muscles be used for more than moving more than heavy scenery? Will the power of Dan’s tips prove too titillating for even Robyn to resist? As with everything at this event…that is for Dan to know, and you to find out!
As Joanne says, “This is my 3rd visit to a revival of “Cabaret” and I can assure you that like good wine, it improves with age. This is a vintage year.” Check out our full review here.
You’ll love this if: You’re looking for a tried and true classic. It’s an intimate theater which will have you up close and personal to the cast…the singing, dancing, and story line will have you high-kicking long after you leave the theater.
Summary: Right this way, your table’s waiting at Cabaret, John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s Tony-winning musical about following your heart while the world loses its way.
Wine tasting notes have always made me kind of giggle. I mean, it’s all fun and games talking about notes of honeysuckle, fresh pear and citrus. But then it so often veers into the implausible with something along the lines of “reminiscent of fresh cactus” (as if you’ve ever stuffed a cactus in your mouth and then likened it to something grape derived).
And then there’s the just bizarre, where I tend to draw the line. When it comes to the complexities of the wine’s aroma and citing “freshly mown grass,” not to mention “hints of gunflint” and “pencil shavings” (I kid you not folks these have actually shown up on real wine descriptions) I give up on the little pamphlet guiding me to the perfect wine. After all, this is supposed to be in theory an enjoyable beverage I might pair with food, not the items you might find in shop class.
Likewise, wine shops can be overwhelming. My thoughts generally run the gamut of “Do I really want to fork over $45 for a bottle of Chianti the salesclerk is practically salivating over?” And then, “Have I even had Chianti? How do I pronounce Chianti? Better let her say it first… Now what’s she saying about tannins? What the heck are tannins anyway? I really wish I could just crack open the bottle try before I buy.”
Luckily in New York City opportunities exist to do just that. I had the good fortune to recently practice my best tilt, swirl, sniff, sip, and spit. Just kidding, I didn’t spit. That would be unladylike, and well, wasteful.
The second annual NYC Autumn Wine Festival, which took place in the beautiful and stately downtown Broad Street Ballroom, seriously had everything one could want to facilitate some serious vino higher learning.
There were 34 different tables set up with venders featuring wines from all over the world. There was live music. There were sophisticated snacks, — most notably lots of cheese, because no combination has been so perfect since peanut butter met jelly. The wines did mostly come with descriptive prose, yes, but there were often helpful hints about which foods would go best with which wines. There was even a coffee table, just in case you started feeling drowsy after so many samples.
Perhaps the best part of the experience was being able to approach someone highly knowledgeable with a few vague comments about my preferences, such as liking semi-dry, fruity reds, and being introduced to say, the stunners at table sweet 16, Domenico Valentino.
This table featured all Italian reds with great depth and flavor ranging from sweet and light to spicy and robust. The representative even shared a little history, noting that one wine was produced by a passionate, one-man operation, while another made in the “heel country” in Italy, referring to the boot-shaped geographic region.
Another table housed a selection of ice wines, which I always equated to just mean sweet or dessert wines, but they are indeed made from frozen grapes. Picked after late harvest, the grapes are left on the vine until the frost comes, then hand-picked and pressed while frozen. It takes about 2,000 grapes to make a single bottle!
Even sparkling ciders made an appearance, with Standard Cider Company’s “True Believer” tasting exactly like taking a bite of a crisp, juicy (alcoholic) apple. Brilliant.
Written by Sarah Henry
Fort Collins is the mecca of everything outdoorsy. Dressing up means hiking boots, jeans, a beanie, and a flannel…tucked in. Dogs can go everywhere people can go. In thinking of three words that describe Fort Collins, it can be best summed up as flannel, beards, beer.
Hiking boots is a must have item in Fort Collins and one place not to miss while wearing them is Rocky Mountain National Park.
What is Fort Collin’s philosophy?
Everyday is full of sunshine, so we take advantage of that and play as much as we work. People spend time outdoors, always. Pack your dog, tent, kids, and a 6 pack of craft beer and hike and camp in the mountains outside of the city.
A great thing to do here is packing a picnic and hiking to Horsetooth. Or a night at the drive in movie theater. City Park remains a great place for people watching and for shopping, where else but REI given the nature of the place.
Alley Cat Coffee House is open 24/7 and when you visit, order their Red Eye Cat…chai tea with espresso in it that tastes like a gingerbread cookie.
The Mayor Bar in town has over 100 beers on tap and the best pretzel you’ll ever eat and for something a little more upscale, try The Social where people dress up in 1920’s garb. A delicious dirty gin martini to boot. Oh, and a lavender sour. Bliss.
Contributed by Kristen, an anthropology graduate student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
And now, for something completely different. I am speechless. Or should I say BLANK? BLANK! The Musical is one blankety blank blank ________ experience!
For me, this improvisational trip was an exciting, ridiculously interesting evening of entertainment … bold, brave, and brassy. But what a misnomer is this title, as there is so much going on within this show at New World Stages…. never, ever would “blank” apply. Rather this unique production is chock full of frenzied fun. Such cutting edge entertainment – perfect for a cold winter’s night. You can continuously revisit and never have a repeat show.
A singular host-emcee-referee, played by the affable, agreeable T. J. Mannix, a musical trio represented by drums/woodwinds/piano, and six of the hardest working cast members off-Broadway perform on an empty stage flanked by video screens. This intermission-less show is totally improvised on the spot, as determined by the present audience. This imaginative group of players is literally running on empty when the show opens.
Now I would love to share the plot with you however…
There is no script. Neither is there a book, nor music, lyrics and yes, you guessed it, no title. I am telling you the truth ….this talented ensemble flies without a net and by the seat of their pants. (There’s a reason the cast wears solely black and blue, no coincidence there). Now this clever cast does not make it all up as they go along – rather, the audience becomes the author, lyricist, composer, even the choreographer. It’s kinda/sorta like an electronic, elongated game of “Mad Libs” adapted for the digital age and accompanied by some rocking music.
This is most likely the only time in a theater that you don’t have to shut up your smart ass phone. You can participate by loading the app “blanktheapp.com” or join the BLANK! THE MUSICAL Wi-Fi network and vote alongside the rest of the audience members for the plot, song, and story suggestions presented by audience members. All ideas are encouraged and welcomed by our host, T.J. These are then voted on and the results appear on the large video screens. You know technology – sometimes things go awry. But this is such an interactive show, the audience is so much a part of it all, that the instant easy rapport between cast and audience is only a shout away for all to be set right back on track, nothing stops this show.
And so at my particular performance – and I emphasize that each and every night is unique and different - I assisted in the creation of a TITLE - “Kidnapped on Uber” featuring the clever seasonal SONG - “I Hope It’s Not a Turkey” which I think (?) was written in a vegetarian KEY - E flat minor, perhaps? The BOOK was “Brooklyn, Seriously?” which lends itself to the perfect battle of the boroughs. Amazingly, it all falls in place and Brooklyn is the new Manhattan becomes the theme of the evening. A new musical is up and running in a NY minute!
As you can well imagine, it’s really a hoot participating in the development of a moment to moment musical, which is normally a five year process from conception to stage, as noted by our happy host. But there is absolutely nothing normal about “BLANK! The Musical.” Nor is there anything next to normal remotely present when this frenzied, imaginative, witty cast gets down to it. On a personal note, I knowingly recall some raucous (albeit raunchy) performances at the post midnight shows at the uptown legendary “Catch a Rising Star” and the old West Side “Improv” club , not to mention the early SNL telecasts. This cast is up there with the best of these pioneers… AND they can sing and dance as well!
As further testament to the talent on BLANK’s stage – namely Katie Dufresne, Nicole C. Hastings, Tessa Hersh, Andrew Knox, Matthew Van Colton and Douglas Widick – they never – unlike many others working in improv – ever took the easy out and went blue. The night I was there they presented themselves with class, cheer and good taste. This alone will bring me back for another show.
BLANK! The Musical is running until December 14th at New World States on West 50th Street. A hip vibe surrounds this venue - Avenue Q, the Bubble Show, Illuminate – all play there. There’s a positive buzz the moment you enter and descend to the stages below. Take a moment to explore this unusual performance space.
Happy Thanksgiving week everyone, take advantage of this four day weekend and catch this show.
Contributed by Joanne Theodorou
After-work cocktails are kinda a thing in New York City. While my drink of choice is usually a cracking cold glass of white (or champers if I’m feeling really fancy), I’ll occasionally splurge on a $14 cocktail…and savor every last sip. But, like many New Yorkers, I’ve often wondered what makes these cocktails so special…how hard could it be to add a splash of vodka into a glass of cranberry juice?
When I’m ordering a fancy bevvy, how do I know the bartender is giving me $14 worth of spirit? Perhaps most importantly, why are there never cocktails made with Dr. Pepper?
So to get some answers to my questions, I headed to Hardings for their monthly Bartending Class with Mixologist Derrick Turner.
Ok, onto the class. Derrick taught us 3 different drinks, all featuring St. George Spirits (themes change monthly though, often according to seasonal variety.) My favorite was the “Simply Wicked”. I included the recipe below for your drinking pleasure;-)
How do you know your bartender isn’t skimping on the booze? An 8 second pour, my friends (8 seconds = 2 ounces of liquor). Any less, just give him/her the stink eye and they should know exactly what you’re referring to. (Thanks, Derrick!)
Oh, and I have a totally new appreciation for paying top dollar for the fancier drinks…seriously, not easy work! By the end of class I had splashed liquid all over my work station (and myself!), and while my drinks certainly tasted delicious, they were no where as pretty as Derrick’s…in fact, they were pretty sloppy. Bartending fail, Jess! And the fact that bartenders have to memorize all these crazy concoctions, while making them, AND carrying on a conversation about your day?! Major, major props, mixologists!
1/4 oz. St. George absinthe
1/2 oz. agave syrup
Pinch of watercress
1.5 oz. gin
Garnish with watercress and give it a proper mixing in a chilled glass with ice, and then strain into your glass. as Derrick said, “you’ll be drinking pure happiness.”