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
Photo credit: 123RF.com
Iced coffee has turned into hot coffee. Jackets are back. And I’ve officially stopped wearing peep toe heels to work. These are all signs that fall is in full swing here in New York. It’s an amazing time to be in the city. And even though yes, New York is a city, and one with a lot of concrete at that—it in no way means there aren’t plenty of places to enjoy all the great stuff that nature has to offer this time of year. You want to leaf peep, for example? Go to Central Park….or Prospect Park. Or take a fall foliage cruise on the Hudson. The possibilities are endless. Or maybe leaf peeping isn’t your thing—you’d rather go fall wine tasting. No problem. Take the Ikea ferry to Red Hook Winery, which offers tastings every day from 11 am-5 pm.
And then there’s pumpkin picking, the classic fall activity. Full disclosure—a year ago I probably would have directed you to Whole Foods, because that’s sadly where I bought my own pumpkin. This year though, I went for the full fall experience at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, and I can tell you, I will never recommend grocery shopping for pumpkins again. First of all, the variety is amazing. Not only are there tons of vendors from which to choose—but so many different pumpkins at your disposal as well. I’m talking, pumpkins I never even knew existed. Is Cheese Pumpkin a thing? Because they’ve got it. And p.s., any pumpkin with “cheese” in the name is A-Okay with me.
Another great thing about buying pumpkins at the market is the other fall treats available to sample. You can get all kind of apples fresh from the upstate orchards; drink some cider while you wander; you can even do a little fall wine tasting and kill two birds with one stone, in the event that you don’t have time to go all the way to Red Hook Winery.
Finally, it just feels so much more like fall to go pumpkin “picking” at the market. And that really is the point, isn’t it?
Of course, for those of you looking to go picking at an actual pumpkin patch, there are plenty of those around the city as well. Here are three to consider, all accessible entirely by public transportation (not even a cab ride required!):
Queens County Farm Museum
Don’t be confused by the name. While it is an actual historic property (dating back to the 1600’s) that New Yorkers can visit year-round, October is Pumpkin Month, which means that visitors can also wander around the farm in search of the perfect pumpkin. Even more than that, they have a maze—an Amazing Maize Maze, actually, according to the name—which makes it a great place to take kids. Both the pumpkin patch and the maze are open weekends from October 1 to October 30. If you’re not renting a car, Queens County Farm Museum is accessible by both subway/bus and the Long Island Railroad.
If the Staten Island Ferry is your favorite mode of public transportation, then Decker Farm is the place for you. While not quite as old as Queens County Farm, the property does date back to the early 1800’s, and is part of the broader Historic Richmond Town. It is also just as kid-friendly. In addition to pumpkin picking, there are farmhouse tours, hayrides, arts and crafts, and….surprise!, a maze. Note that for this one you need to book tickets for a particular day, but you can do so through their website. To get there, you’ll take a combination of the ferry and the S74 bus. It’s about a 90-minute trip from Manhattan.
Luna Park Pumpkin Patch
Yes, that’s right, you can even pick pumpkins in Coney Island! How’s that for variety? The Luna Park Pumpkin Patch is open from September 24th to October 30th as part of a larger Harvest Festival they hold every year. This one is probably the most geared toward kids, with balloon animals, face painting, and spooky karaoke. So if you’re going on a pumpkin patch date or other adult-themed excursion, you’ll probably be better off at one of the above. Without a car? Take the Q/F subway to West 8th Street Station, the D/F/N/Q to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station, the B36 to Surf Avenue and West 8th Street, or the B68 to Neptune Avenue and West 8th Street.
Okay, now that you know where to get a pumpkin but for a fun thing to do in the fall? I do this almost every year, and it never disappoints—meaning, it’s fun for all ages, totally kid-friendly, and really easy to pull together. All you have to do is pick a location and a time, tell everyone to bring a fall-themed dish or drink (bonus points for pumpkin-based grub), and ask a few people to bring carving supplies (tools, newspapers, wipes, and plastic bags).
Pumpkins, of course, are BYO.
Contributed by Reagan Daly
For the last four years, Tribeca has been my home—or maybe half my home, since I am right on the border of the Financial District. And it really feels like home to me, more so than any other place I’ve ever lived so I’m delighted to take you on a walking tour of my favorite spots and under-the-radar gems.
Photo credit: Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel
Take the 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge or the 2/3 to Park Place. Once you get above ground, head toward the Brooklyn Bridge for one of the best walks the city has to offer. Since I promised under-the-radar gems, I should acknowledge that this is obviously not one of them—but it is one of my favorite things to do in the neighborhood, and probably the one that makes me feel the luckiest to live where I do. Make sure you stop to take pictures of both the Lower and Upper Manhattan skylines when you get closer to the Brooklyn side—they are quite stunning.
On any other day I’d tell you to follow the bridge all the way into Brooklyn and get yourself a slice of pizza. But since my job today is to take you on a neighborhood walk I’m going to tell you instead to turn around when you get to the other side and come back into Manhattan. Once you’re on concrete again, head to Pisillo on Nassau and Ann Street to pick up what I assure you will be one of the best sandwiches you will ever have. Pisillo is an authentic Italian panini shop—meaning, they don’t use a press, just fresh bread and ingredients—and all of the ingredients and condiments are imported from Italy. The sandwich menu is ginormous—over 30 different varieties—and there is something for everyone. I myself am partial to the Firenze, made with roasted chicken breast, provolone, roasted peppers, and arugula–but really, you can’t go wrong with any of the options.
Make sure you get your sandwich to go, because now you’re going to head to Rockefeller Park for a picnic lunch. Rockefeller Park is one of my favorite places in the neighborhood. I can’t tell you how many nice days I’ve spent there laying in the sun, with a good book and some podcasts, totally oblivious to the craziness of the city. With that said, it’s also probably the only place in the city where you can view the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower, AND the Statue of Liberty all at once. For some reason this makes me very happy, and I think it will do the same for you.
On a warm weekend day the park is filled with a mix of families, couples, and groups of friends having parties or picnics, laying out, playing sports, or doing something else that is equally fun. I leave it to you to decide your activity—my only advice would be to stay for a while after you eat and do something. To get there, walk up Broadway from the sandwich shop and turn west onto Warren Street—if you keep on walking you’ll run right into it after about 10 to 15 minutes.
After you’ve had a chance to relax and re-energize, you’ll want to celebrate with a nice cocktail. And Weather Up is the perfect place for that. Located on Duane Street between West Broadway and Hudson, it’s an easy walk from the park—no more than five minutes if you head back down Warren. Even if it were further away though, I’d still suggest it—the cocktails are not only delicious, but beautifully crafted.
Now, for your next neighborhood stop I’m going to go a little off script and suggest something you’ll have to plan ahead of time.
By now your stomach is probably growling, so let’s end the day at The Greek on 458 Greenwich Street for a Michelin-recommended meal. As you can deduce from the name, it’s a Greek restaurant, and a lovely one at that. Situated on a cobblestone street a little off the beaten path, it’s quieter and more serene than most other neighborhood restaurants. In fact, you might not even know you were in New York City if you were taken there in a blindfold and earplugs. It’s also just…well, charmingly authentic, down to the Greek wine-only wine list. I’d suggest trying to snag a table out front if it’s warm—and ordering a bunch of small plates to share. It’s the best way to appreciate all the great dishes the restaurant has to offer.
Contributed by Reagan Daly
Should you ever have the opportunity to attend a Coffee Festival – anytime, anywhere – jump! Forget about the consistently endless arguments as to the benefits – or not – of caffeine. There is no rationale to coffee – it’s as basic as washing your face and brushing your teeth. The bright scent of brewing/perking coffee starts our day. The question – “Coffee?” Followed by “how do you take it?” creates a warmth, a comfort zone – and our individual preferences DEFINE us. Ever notice how an intimacy is immediately established once you recall someone’s coffee choices? Such a telltale sign of friendship is this important information – an entrance into our lives, a signal of a caring person now in your orbit. Sounds like a Hallmark card – when you care enough to remember how they take their coffee.
Now regarding that “cuppa Joe.” We have reached a new level of global sophistication with coffee. Not so long ago, coffee was an American phenomenon, we practically invented the “coffee break.” Today it’s more like “tasso Giovanni” – so embraced by the world. And a delicious coffee festival, such as The New York Coffee Festival which I just experienced this past weekend at the landmark 69th Regiment’s Lexington Avenue Armory, will solidify the importance of coffee as daily ritual. Or am I preaching to the converted? I grew up hearing “did you have your coffee yet?” You too?
Now that coffee has been globally situated, “barista” is a growing vocation, a welcome addition in our vernacular, and coffees such as espresso, macchiato, lattes and cappuccino have joined our daily coffee choices. So naturally, with such an expanding industry, everyone is now looking for the next “big thing” in the coffee universe. And that is why a coffee festival is not only fun but essential! Nothing worse then walking into Starbucks and being even MORE intimidated by their selections!
An inordinate variety of products augment the coffee market. Be it an organic chai addition to enhance the flavor of coffee, or stand on its own (‘Prana Chai’ and ‘Dona Chai’ from Brooklyn were especially noteworthy); a new type of milk blend (‘Know Brainer’ which actually burns fat – LOVE IT or ‘Milkadamia’ – a flavorful macadamia based nut creamer from Australia); another method of brewing (‘illy’ and ‘De’Longhi’- always perfecting their brewers); an innovative “to go” cup (‘the lttl tumbler’ – splash proof aluminum!) or a non –alcoholic additive (I sampled ‘183’ – a syrup using the purest water from the Swiss Alps) – it was all available at the festival for sampling and/or purchase.
As far as new roasts, I was totally captivated by a delightful bean from Rwanda – ‘Coffee of Grace’ – a lovely, fresh roast. I couldn’t help but admire their worthy aim to employ only women of Rwanda with rewarding, self-esteem enhancing jobs. For more information, you can reach them at 877-211-4406.
And so “The NYC Coffee Festival” covered all things new and exciting in our expanding caffeine universe….I mean, Wow! It featured an ‘Espresso Martini Bar’ – so original – as well as ‘Live Lattes’ – my personal favorite “cuppa” – really enjoyed all the new spins to my mid-day latte break. Now a lightbulb went off with the obvious, a true no brainer – “TeaCoffee.” Why didn’t I think of this? Like why not? From “Nagi” a Kyoto, Japan based company, it’s organic and unique in flavor. So symbolic as now East meets West, and our coffee/tea universe is complete!
“The New York Coffee Festival” was exactly that- a celebration and champion of an ever growing commodity. There was even a display of oil paintings and the subject matter – you guessed it! – were portraits of coffee drinkers. For the true devotee, there is an essential publication –The New York Coffee Guide – which was available at the festival. So thorough, surely this is the definitive guide to all NYC coffee venues – in EVERY borough. An invaluable resource for the NYC coffee drinker.
The New York Coffee Festival is a tailor made event for the city that never sleeps! Try and catch it the next time around, an informing as well as entertaining event. This was their 2nd NYC Festival, I sure hope it becomes an annual tradition!
And do share below…how do you take YOUR coffee?
By: Joanne Theodorou
Photos By: Lassara Photography
How many of you knew that September 29th was National Coffee Day in the United States? Considering so many of us practically pump the stuff through our veins on the regular, we thought it only appropriate to have a coffee themed week here, so let’s look at 6 unique coffee experiences you can find in the Big Apple.
Photo credit: Andre Kruger
1. The Butcher’s Daughter: This is a popular place in New York for many a’ thing not just coffee and they have two locations: the West Village and Nolita. I see them posting on Instagram all the time. The ambiance is oh so chic and cool too with lots of plants and a good vibe.
Photo credit: LizaHerlands_ (on Instagram)
2. Cosmic Coffee for their gelatinous coffee. I found these guys at a food fair in Long Island City, and when they asked if I wanted to see “the next big thing in coffee” of course I was like “yes, please!” So they pour in the coffee, and on top the cream, do a little mix, and the coffee turns solid…kinda like coffee jello! I don’t think it will ever replace the original liquid brew we all know and love so much, but it sure does make for a fun Instagram moment, and is pretty tasty!
3. Go to Kahve and order the Turkish coffee: married to a Bosnian, we drink this stuff daily. But if you’re not used to the whole traditional setup of the tiny cups and the strong, strong brew, definitely treat yourself to an afternoon cup out! It’s the kind of experience you savor, not chug, so bring a friend and stay awhile!
4. Take a Coffee Tour of New York: If you love coffee, why not take a tour of New York that centers on coffee? The tour is around two hours, and all coffee and food is included, as you have tastings on the go. They meet up at Winston Churchill Square, Downing Street in New York and end at Happy Bones on 394 Broome Street. You will get barista demos on how to make the PERFECT cup, learn fun bits of history and trivia about coffee in NYC. More details here.
Photo credit: Coffee Tours of New York
5. New York Coffee Festival: Now in its second year, the festival features live experiences from over 85 coffee, food and equipment suppliers. Visitors enjoy endless free coffee tastings, interactive workshops, demonstrations from world-class baristas, delicious street food, intoxicating coffee cocktails, live music, art and more. Based on the highly successful programs in London and Amsterdam, this caffeinated event is an unmissable show for all serious coffee lovers and key industry stakeholders. While the 2016 festival has already happened, make sure to sign up on their site for updates on when next year’s festival will be taking place. Check out details here.
Would love to know, what’s your go-to coffee shop–near or far? Share below!
While we have a few tried and trues up our sleeves, we like to venture out and try new places in New York as locals — both classic NYC restaurants that have been around forever for good reason, as well as trendy new spots that feature the season’s hip new food craze.
A few weeks ago, we were strolling along the beautiful tree lined blocks of the Upper West Side when the lunchtime stomach growls started. The sun was shining and it seemed like the kind of day you try something new, so we decided on Michelin-recommended TESSA, and quickly discovered a new spot that will be moved from our list of “to try” to “tried and true.” We loved it so much that I wanted to share all the goodness with you!
A modern Mediterranean eatery, TESSA has a rustic and urban industrial vibe that is typically seen more in downtown dining (seriously, so cool! It’s like the Restoration Hardware of restaurants. Even if you’re not hungry for a full meal, it’s the perfect spot to sit at the bar for a craft cocktail, little nibbles, and all the good vibes.) As much as I appreciate a beautiful aesthetic, the real shining jewel here is the food (as it should be.) The menu is full of options that are easily shared between everyone at the table, letting you sample an array of dishes.
From the basket of pastries (be still my beating heart!) to the appetizer mezze trio of house dips to the bruised kale caesar salad with the perfect amount of lemon zest to the avocado toast with a twist to the housemade gelato, it was really impossible to choose a favorite course, they all had such interesting and robust flavors. I sure do know if I were taste testing for the Michelin guide, TESSA would go from “recommended” to “starred”.
Bravo to the chefs, cooks, and staff of the restaurant—we are already planning our return!
349 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY
TESSA is located on Amsterdam Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets.
It’s great when you discover a delightful restaurant near a museum, because what makes for a better NYC outing than dinner and a museum? MOMA has long been my favorite museum, and I recently dined at a delicious spot directly across from its 53rd Street entrance: Foco do Chão. Foco has been a staple in the Brazilian Steakhouse scene for a while, famous for its churrascaria experience, which offers a never-ending parade of fire-roasted, high-quality meats presented table side. But as a vegetarian, what really excited me was their new outdoor dining experience, dubbed The Patio at Bar Fogo, and menu, which is both affordably priced for Midtown and loaded with delicious selections, friendly for a variety of dietary restrictions. Don’t worry carnivores, there’s plenty of meat on the outdoor menu to quell your cravings, too!
The Patio is perfect for al fresco dining while watching pedestrians stroll by to and from their offices, tourists go in and out of the museum, and local neighborhood folks walking their pint sized pooches. Unlike so many other outdoor dining spaces in Manhattan, this one doesn’t feel cramped–the tables are large and have comfortable chairs, and are spaced far enough away from each other that you aren’t privy to the group next to you’s conversation. Win! They also have large umbrellas, perfect for keeping out the summer rays.
A few of the food options you’ll enjoy are: the Linguiça Sandwich ($12.50) with blistered Brazilian sausage, onions and mozzarella and the Churrasco Plate ($16-$20) with the choice of Filet Mignon, Ribeye, Lamb Chops or Brazilian Spice-Rubbed Chicken. If you’re just in the mood for a substantial snack, stop by for Happy Hour (Monday – Friday; 4:30 – 6:30 pm), with options such as Picanha Sirloin Sliders ($10) on signature gluten-free pão de queijo rolls and Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers ($15) with a chimichurri sauce. My favorite dish from the Patio? Hands down the crispy parmesan polenta fries. I ate two plate full before being like, “Ok Jess, too much of a good thing…”
Next time you’re at MOMA, instead of fighting the crowds to eat in the museum’s restaurant, hop right across the street to enjoy a delicious meal at The Patio at Bar Fogo. And, don’t forget to order one of their delicious drool-inducing caipirinhas.
Fogo de Chão |
40 West 53rd Street
New York, NY
Going on a cruise is a fantastic way to see the world; though you’re traveling, you’re staying in the lap of luxury on board some of the most amazingly kitted-out moving hotels. If you want to get the most you possibly can out of your vacation time in the US, a cruise is the way to go – but what are the best cruises around America?
Cruises around Central America are some of the most interesting for those who want to get a taste of different cultures and great sense of history. Cruising at this part of the globe means you can take onshore excursions around lush rainforests, as well as visit pristine beaches, sample delicious food, and delight in the offerings of each of these diverse and beautiful countries:
The barrier reef in Belize is second only to Australia’s, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
See Mayan ruins with your own eyes.
La Tigra National park is a feast for the eyes as well as a great place for outdoor activities.
Visit some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America.
- Costa Rica
Get a chance to see endangered wild sea turtles and visit the volcanic hot springs.
See the Panama Canal and the bridge that connects the Americas.
The Caribbean is so rich with diversity in all its thousands of islands. From the biggest Caribbean islands like Jamaica and Cuba, to the smallest, like Monserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis, you’ll see a huge diversity of landscape, language, history and culture.
Of course, you can’t see each of the thousands of islands in one trip; find the nations that really interest you and pick your cruise. Most cruises run either Western or Eastern Caribbean routes. In the West, you’ll often find cruises running from Florida to Haiti, Jamaica, and even Mexico. Over on the East side, you’ll get to visit the smaller islands of St. Maarten, The Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas. An Eastern Caribbean cruise is great for first timers as you get to see so much.
If these tantalizing details weren’t enough to awaken a new-found wanderlust in you, then check out the destinations in more detail to really get you hungry for new experiences.
We’d love to know…have you ever taken a cruise? Where to, and what was your experience like.
Here are some fun products that tout all natural when it comes to skincare and beauty.
Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap
Instead of body washes and cleansers and shampoo, use Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Magic Soap is all the right stuff you want to put on your skin (they have an unscented version that’s safe enough to use for a newborn, too!), and this little bar of soap can be used for your body, face, and as a shampoo. There’s scents ranging from peppermint to almond to lavender, but the rose remains my favorite. You can also get it in a gel form if you’re sharing a bathroom with multiple people and bar soap freaks you out.
Instead of toners, use Witch Hazel. If you’ve used any of the fancy face products on the market (think Dr. Perricone’s Super Detox Elixir, Murad Clarifying Toner, Olek Henriksen Grease Relief Face Tonic), you’ll see that the main ingredient in them is, indeed, Witch Hazel. Save your money on those brand names and head to your local pharmacy to pick up a bottle of the real stuff for a few bucks. This stuff is great for toning, and also helps with puffy eyes, large pores, and redness.
African Shea Butter
Instead of body and face lotion and conditioner, use African Shea Butter. I discovered pure, raw, unrefined African Shea Butter when I was pregnant and trying to avoid stretch marks. I’d lather this stuff on my belly every night before sleep, and voila! It worked like a gem! It got me thinking…if this miracle spread works so well on maintaining the elasticity of a stomach that’s been stretched to the size of a basketball and back, it would probably be pretty good for the rest of my skin too, right? I’ve been religiously using this as my body and face lotion (bonus: it also acts as a sunscreen), and while it initially goes on a bit thick, I’ve found it to be super moisturizing for dry skin and it actually maintains that hydration throughout the entire day, unlike many lotions that seem to lose their punch a few hours after application.
Instead of face oils, use Argan Oil. This was a tip I picked up in the book French Women Don’t Get Facelifts (such a fun read if you’re into natural beauty remedies, btw!) I’ve been manically trying to keep better care of my skin and in my quest for the magic elixir, I’ve spent a lot of money on brands that promise big and deliver meh. (Meaning no noticeable difference from the cheap drug store brands.) However, putting a dab of Argan Oil on my face before bedtime has been that magic cure I’ve been searching for. My skin feels quenched without feeling like an oil spill happened, and I love the glow it gives.
Instead of Crest White Strips, use Coconut Oil. Coconut Oil can be used for basically everything under the sun (and we use it that way in our house–pretty sure we’re single handedly keeping the coconut industry in business;-), but one of my favorite things to do with it is oil pulling. If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s basically putting a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth, and gargling it for as long as you can stand before spitting it out into the trash. The recommended amount of time is 30 minutes, but I’ve never lasted that long. I usually do this while doing another chore (making breakfast, cleaning, putting laundry away), and I swear, even after a few minutes, you have that squeaky clean feeling of visiting the dentist. It’s literally pulling toxins and bacteria from your mouth, and in turn acts as a natural whitener and brightener for your teeth.
Share your thoughts in the comments below!