About Jessica Tiare Bowen

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

New York City Food Specialties Everyone Must Try!

June 16, 2016 by  


New York City has an incredible food culture, with cuisines from all over the world. There are some dishes, though, that undeniably represent the city. Whether they originate from Eastern Europe or East Asia, NYC has put its own spin on many dishes. If you’re a native New Yorker or just a fan of the city, recreating some of New York’s signature meals at home is a must. Many of them are easy to reproduce yourself, and you could put your own spin on them if you’re feeling creative. Check out these dishes you have to try making, and try out some of the suggested recipes too.

New York Cheesecake

Desserts have their place on New York’s menu too, and cheesecake is at the top. A New York-style cheesecake is baked, and it’s ingredients are simple. It contains cream cheese, cream, eggs, and sugar. The crust is usually made from graham crackers or something similar. The simple recipe is perfect if you want to make a quick dessert, and it will last several days in the fridge. In fact, a lot of people think it’s better after it’s rested for a day. So it’s ideal to prepare in advance for a dinner party, potluck, or picnic.


You can find hundreds of recipes for New York cheesecake, all with slight variations. The primary ingredients stay the same. But you might want to experiment with the base or add a sour cream topping. The recipe on Epicurious uses a sponge cake crust. Others use graham crackers or wafer cookies. If you find recipes from the UK, they often use digestive biscuits (cookies), which you can find in many international aisles or stores. It’s a simple dessert, but you can put your own spin on it by experimenting. Give the base a chocolate twist or put something extra in your sour cream topping.

Hot Dogs

You can find hot dogs all over the US, but there’s something special about getting one in NYC. You have so many options to choose from, from sitting down for a meal in a diner to getting a fresh dog from a food cart. Many of the hot dogs you find in New York are all beef or natural casing. You can also get skinless ones, or kosher hot dogs. And if you’re in Manhattan, you can find a bagel dog – a hot dog wrapped in bagel-style bread. Hot dogs are usually enjoyed with sauerkraut and mustard. You can also have sweet onions and tomato sauce.

If you want to try making some NYC-style hot dogs at home, you can find several excellent recipes online. You can reproduce a street cart dog with the Bobby Flay recipe on Food Network. It only takes 35 minutes to put together a delicious hot dog with sauerkraut, mustard and onion sauce. If Martha Stewart is your go-to gal for all things food, she has a New York City hot dog recipe too. Her simple recipe uses hot sauce in the onions to give them some spice. The trick to making incredible hot dogs is to buy quality sausages. Focus on creating delicious relishes and condiments. Unless you’re able to make your hot dogs from scratch, it’s important to buy the best you can find.

Pastrami on Rye

Some of New York City’s best dishes are also the simplest. A pastrami on rye sandwich isn’t very complicated, but it’s a must try if you ever visit the city. For best results, it should definitely be eaten hot. You could buy both the rye bread and the pastrami, but you can also try making both. It’s a lot more time consuming, but it could also produce incredible results. There’s not much to putting a together a pastrami sandwich, so why not give yourself a challenge? However, you might be short on time or not confident in your skills. Checking out your nearest deli is perhaps a better idea.

It’s pretty easy to find a pastrami on rye recipe online. You’ll find lots of variations, with cheese, pickles, mustard, and lots of other options. If you’re a pastrami fan, you can also find hundreds of other recipes for pastrami sandwiches. If you want to go the extra mile and make your own pastrami and rye bread, just roll your sleeves up and dive in. You won’t learn to do it if you don’t have a try. Making pastrami might sound like a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to put in the effort. Try the recipe from Food52, which makes the process sound easy. Rye bread is actually one of the easiest breads to make, so don’t worry if you’ve never even baked before.


There is some debate about the origin of the Reuben sandwich. Some say it was invented in Omaha, Nebraska by Reuben Kulakofsky. One theory is that it originates in New York City, at Reuben’s Delicatessen. It may have been created in about 1914. Whatever the truth is, it’s still a dish you can’t miss out on if you love New York cuisine. If sandwiches are your thing, you have to try one and have a go at making one yourself. It traditionally has corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. It’s all served on rye bread. There are other variations you might like to try too.

Making a Reuben is pretty easy, and you only need a few ingredients. Spread dressing on the bread and add corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut. Then you only need to grill the whole thing. There are many variations of the great Reuben that you could try making too. You can find an unusual Reuben recipe on the Hampton Creek Foods YouTube Channel. Their recipe with video instructions uses beets instead of pastrami. It’s an interesting alternative for a meat-free version of the sandwich. If you’re looking for a healthy option, perhaps that one might be for you.

New York Pizza

You can’t visit New York City without trying the pizza, or live there without learning how to make it. New York pizza has to have a thin crust, which many people prefer to other styles. You can buy prepared pizza dough and dough mixes, but you should make it from scratch for the best results. It hardly takes any time at all to make a pizza base, although getting it thin enough can be tricky. You can roll it out with a rolling pin, but the traditional thing to do is to learn how to stretch it. That will help you to get it thinner so it will be crispy when it’s baked.


For an amazing New York pizza, start off with a great base. You can find a recipe and tips for success on Feeling Foodish. When you’ve got a perfectly thin crust in the works, you need some toppings. Start simple with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Perhaps add some basil or another seasoning too. There aren’t any particular toppings you have to stick to for a traditional NY pizza. So choose whatever you like best. But if you want to focus on the main ingredients, stick to just the tomato and cheese.


Bagels are one of New York City’s quintessential baked goods. They were originally brought to the city by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. You will find them everywhere in hundreds of different variations. They can be savory or sweet, and you can put just about anything you want in them. Classic fillings like salmon and cream cheese or pastrami are always popular. Bagel dough is boiled after proving. Usually, there is something like lye or baking powder in the water. This process gives them their characteristically chewy crust. The process to make them might seem complicated, but they aren’t that difficult to make at home.


If you want to try making bagels, it’s best to start with something relatively plain. Don’t try and attempt an enriched dough or do anything fancy for your first time. If you’ve never made them before, you can find several easy bagel recipes online. Try making a few batches to perfect them before you try anything harder. It’s easy to add some toppings to make them more interesting, such as sesame or poppy seeds. Once your first bagels come out of the oven, even if they’re a little wonky, you can create a delicious sandwich.

You can find hundreds of possibilities for what to put on your bagel. Start with traditional fillings, like salmon, cream cheese, pastrami, gherkins, and cheese. You can have your bagel with a sweet filling too, especially if you bake them with blueberries or cinnamon. You can find ideas from all over the world, such as salted beef, gherkins and English mustard, which is how they do it in London. Or try a breakfast bagel filled with a fried egg and salad.

If you love all the food New York as to offer, don’t leave it up to the professionals to make it. It’s so easy to try some of the recipes at home.

We’d love to know…do you have any favorite iconic NYC dishes you make at home?  Share below!

By: Sacha Woolley

New York’s Upper West Side Food Festival

June 15, 2016 by  


I find people generally fall into one of two camps when it comes to food festivals: you either love em’ or you hate em’.  And generally speaking, festivals in the city can be overcrowded, feel like a battle for tiny samples of food, and (since most take place during the summer months), really HOT.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food festival I attended this month, New Taste of the Upper West Side, was the exception to all the above.  While the line to get in was long (wrapping around the block!), it moved seriously fast, and we were inside in less than 10 minutes.  (Kudos, staff!)  The food tastings from 42 UWS restaurants were generous (after making the tent round we were seriously full–some tables, such as Shake Shack, even gave full sized burgers!)  And best of all, the festival was located inside a tent, so attendees were saved from the June heat.  Gold stars all around, New Taste of the UWS!

My favorite part of the festival was discovering new restaurants to dine at after the festivities were over.  Based on the tastings, here’s the 5 UWS restaurants I can’t wait to try:

  • Momofuku Milk Bar (because those birthday cake truffles BLEW ME AWAY)
  • Papparedella (a fluffy little pasta stuffed with cheese and pear, drizzled with black truffle and parmigiano makes for a delightful summer pasta)
  • Ellla Kitchen and Bar (veggie empanadas stuffed with spinach and corn and lots of manchego cheese, drizzled with a chipotle aioli is RIGHT up my alley)
  • Communal Oven & Earth (my hubby raved about the mini lamb sliders all night long)
  • Birdbath Bakery (a pretty dessert wins lots of points in my book, and the adorable blueberry-lemon tart with edible flowers was an Instagram waiting to happen)

Would love to know…are you a food festival fan?  Any favorite restaurants on the Upper West Side we should add to the list?  Let’s talk below!

5 Fun Things to Explore in Manhattan This Summer


A few fun things for your summer New York list, from food and culture to fabrics and walks in the park.

Mood Fabrics

Recently, I had an itch to get creative one weekend, so naturally popped into Mood Fabrics in the New York City’s Garment District .  It’s definitely an experience to peruse through the jersey knits and buttons and feathers and other embellishments…a mecca for crafters, if you will!


Oficina Latina

Next up is Oficina Latina in SoHo (with a 2 for 1 happy hour!) where author, Christine Reilly, joined us for our very own Q+A!  Such a pleasure to get the point of view of the person behind the words.  The book is a beautifully written tale about a family living in NYC, and covers themes ranging from strong family bonds, to mental illness, to the tough topic of what happens to a family if one of the children gets a life-threatening disease.  It’s deep, but lyrical and filled with a lot of Heart.


Walks in Central Park

Summer seemed to sneak up on us early this month, and I’ve been enjoying every single second of it with daily walks in Central Park.  There’s always something fun to see if you keep your eyes peeled, and the other day I came across this pretty painting of a bridge, but no artist in sight!


UWS For Vegetarian Tasting

Another idea is to dovetail on the UWS who has the most amazing vegetarian tasting menu on Monday evenings.  If you’re not a vegetarian but your partner (or friend) is, have no fear!  They also offer a “Vegetable Focused” menu, which lets you get your greens, with some meat, too.  What I really love about this place is that every month the tasting menu changes, so you essentially get a completely different experience the next time you dine there.  I have a feeling this is going to be one of my regular spots!


The Bosnian Film Festival 

Ahhh, yes, the oh so fun Bosnian Film Festival happened this month!  I’ve been working behind the scenes with them for a few months now, and was so proud of the way everything got pulled together!  There were a ton of great films this year, but one I particularly enjoyed was a film called Tigers–it was directed by a Bosnian (Danis Tanovic), and was based on a true story about what happens in 3rd world countries when formula is pushed on new moms (instead of nursing), and the water supply they mix the formula with is filthy, which obviously tears apart the tiny newborns’ systems…causing sickness and death.  Heartbreaking and powerful…a reminder of what positive change art forms can have when they address serious social issues.


Salinas in Chelsea

If you’re a Spanish wine and tapas fan, check out Salinas in Chelsea.  We went for dinner and I have been thinking about the Mozarabe drenched in honey-olive oil butter (pictured below) ever since.





Meet the Pink Himalayan Salt Room at Breathe


Like many people suffering from seasonal allergies, I have a love/hate relationship with spring.  Shedding that winter coat FINALLY?  Yay! Long walks in Central Park while being rained on by cherry blossoms?  Double yay!  Maxing out my Amazon Prime account with orders of Aloe coated Kleenex, bottles of Visine, and Claritin to keep sane?  A big fat NAY.

Especially since having little Augusten, I try to use medicines as only a last resort, and first look for more natural ways to solve the problem.  Allergies, meet Himalayan Salt Room.

If you’ve never heard of Himalayan Salt Rooms before (i.e. halotherapy), here’s the skinny:

The process dates way back to the 11th or 12th centuries, when people would visit Eastern Europe’s natural salt caves to heal their ailments. In the 1840s, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski, a Polish doctor who was treating miners, started to study salt’s medicinal properties. He had noticed that while coal miners were plagued with all kinds of respiratory problems, salt miners were emerging with pristine lungs and no health complaints. He published a book on his findings and a few years later, one of his pupils founded the first salt clinic near Kraków, Poland.

Since we’re lucky enough to live in the city that has basically everything (yes, even salt rooms), you only need to head to Midtown in order to reap the benefits of the therapy.  The Himalayan Salt Room at Breathe is a treatment that involves inhaling salt particles, while doing what all New Yorkers need more of: sitting back, unplugging, and relaxing.

Wearing your street clothes, you enter a room covered in grains of pink salt, and can either lay back in a lounge chair or lay directly on the salt using a yoga blanket (the latter is my preferred method).  The walls are made of salt blocks, the lamps are made of salt crystals, and everything is coated in a fine, salty dust (including your clothes after your session in the room—don’t wear black).  After your session (about 30 minutes), you emerge, walk out, and breathe easy.  Ok, well easier at least.  In order to see long term benefits, it’s suggested making the therapies a part of your lifestyle by going 3 to 4 times per week.  (Hey–it’s a heck of a lot more relaxing than the gym!;-)

Even if you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, you’d benefit from salt therapy if:

  • you suffer from asthma
  • you suffer from chronic bronchitis or sinusitis
  • you suffer from joint pain/arthritis
  • you need a boost to your immune system
  • you want to boost your endurance
  • you’re craving a glow to your complexion
  • you’re fatigued or having trouble sleeping
  • you just need an excuse to turn off your phone and have some #treatyoself time

Pretty good laundry list, right?  I’m pleased to say that, even after one session, I emerged from the chamber feeling less congested, more alert, and had a few GREAT nights of sleep.  I can’t wait to get back to try one of the salty yoga classes.  Here’s to spring in the city, allergies and all!

Would love to know…do you have any natural therapies you swear by?  Let’s chat in the comments below!

New York City’s Tagines for Hookah & Belly Dancing


How do you feel about kitschy restaurants?  You know, like the Christmas ornament overload at Rolf’s or the hot pepper twinkle light craziness at Panna II?  Yes, it’s completely over the top bordering on ridiculous, but I’m on the team that it’s completely fun, too.

It’s no surprise I was a huge fan of Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant skirting the neighborhoods of Times Square/The Garment District–two places locals usually try to avoid like the plague.  But there really are some gems in the area–don’t let the tourists have all the fun. What I liked best about Tagine was that it felt like so much more than a typical dinner–it was an experience.  If I tuned out the drunk Irish men at the bar (just examples of tourists having all that fun!), it was like being transported to Morocco for the night.  Twenty blocks away from my apartment but a world away.

The service was so on point (my water glass never got less than half full), the food was delicious (get a tagine, obviously, as well as the Casablanca cous cous for your main, olive tapenade with their oven roasted bread to start, and baklava for dessert), the atmosphere was lively–thanks to the classic Moroccan music, comfy pillows you sit on, belly dancers, and post-dinner hookah and mint tea.  Obviously, don’t go here expecting an intimate dining experience, but if you’re up for a bit of fun and something to break up your eating out routine, I’d say make yourself a reservation!



221 West 38th Street

New York, NY  10018



The Catskills, a Great Weekend Getaway from NYC


Is there anything cuter than baby alpacas?  I feel like they’re one of those breeds that make you burst into the widest grin–so soft, so gentle, so ridiculously cute.

The hubby and I decided to take our little man upstate to visit an alpaca farm, and ended up making a fun weekend of it!  Granted, he fell asleep right as the tour was beginning, so he didn’t get to delight in baby farm animals–but the grownups certainly enjoyed it. Such a fun and easy weekend away, I wanted to share the details in case any of you are looking for some getaway inspiration!  Happy travels!

A Weekend In The Catskills

Where To Stay: The North Branch Inn

Seriously guys, this is the cutest little spot.  The motto of the inn (which you may remember us adopting!) is “The Good Ole Days Are Now.”  It’s a quaint inn with a vintage/industrial vibe, no TV’s in the rooms (loved this), an old fashioned bowling alley guests are encouraged to use, and the coziest little fireplace lounge area.  We were smitten.  Oh!  And they have a farm-to-table restaurant in the inn, with a menu that changes weekly, sourcing food from all local spots, and a bar with all American liquors.  It’s delicious.  And the breakfast is included in the hotel package.  Try the apple cider donut, probably the best I’ve ever had.

Where To Eat: The Arnold House

About a 15 minute drive from the North Branch Inn, this is another cool Catskills property with fantastic food and a super groovy vibe.

What To Do: Visit The Buck Brook Alpaca Farm

A tour is free, and actually super fun and informative.  Plus, you get to pet the babies.  And the mamas.  And the dads.  Too much cuteness for one day.

A Few Other Things to do in the Area

  • Visit the many thrift/vintage shops/farmer’s markets (the innkeeper, Tess, will be more than happy to point you in the right direction!)
  • Have a country spa day at The Arnold House spa.
  • Grab a drink and listen to live music in the evenings.
  • Pack a picnic and go on a hike (so many trails!)
  • Go on a brewery tour–there’s 4 within a short drive of the inn!
  • Soak in some culture at the Bethel Woods Center.  While we were there an exhibition on Woodstock was taking place.
  • Horseback ride through one of the many scenic trails in the area.

As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a weekend.  But I have an inkling you’ll be just as content lounging by the fireplace with a book and an apple cider donut (or three).

10 Hot Spots For Cafe in the Big Apple


What’s the best way to refuel in New York City? A delicious cup of Joe, of course! While you can certainly find a Starbucks on most every corner, these are the adorable mom-and-pop shops we visit on the regular.  Not only can you grab a delicious coffee at each of them, but they also have seating provided for you to grab a book (or a date!) and stay awhile.

  • Bibble & Sip (note: get the lavender latte.)
  • Ralph’s Coffee Shop (note: this is located on the 2nd floor of the (you guessed it) Ralph Lauren store on 5th Avenue.  it has plenty of seating, plugs for charging your devices, and is a great spot to refuel after an afternoon of Midtown shopping.)
  • Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (note: grab your coffee and a used book off the shelves, and head upstairs for an afternoon wind down at one of the cute little tables.  if you are digging the book, go ahead and purchase it, as all proceeds from the shop go to help local New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.)
  • Culture Espresso (note: the chandelier and wallpaper give it a charming vibe in a neighborhood otherwise mostly known for chains. it may be seasonal, but if they have it, order the maple latte.)
  • Kaffe 1668 (note: they brew each cup individually, making it truly a coffee art to behold.  thus a regular cup of coffee here is really, really good.)
  • Cafe Lalo (note: this is a spot to get a fancy coffee along with a fancy dessert, a true #treatyoself day. Would also make an excellent date spot.  and in case you hadn’t heard, this is also where the cafe scene from “You Got Mail” was filmed.)
  • Box Kite NYC (note: for true coffee connoisseurs, get the coffee flight.  it’s one of those bucket list musts!  and p.s. they have an AMAZING tasting menu available too–such a special night out!)
  • Ground Central (note: a cute little book nook is in the back of this industrial-vibe spot in Midtown East, bring your laptop and stay awhile.)
  • Kahve (note: for something a bit different, order the Turkish coffee.)
  • Fika (note: minimalist Swedish coffeeshop, anyone?  their little chocolate truffle candies are such a treat.)

I’ll be sure to update this list as I continue to explore more cute coffee shops in NYC (there are so many!)

And do tell…anywhere not on here that I should run out and try immediately?  Where is your favorite place for a local cup of joe?  Share below! 

9th Annual Choice Eats: Sample 65 NYC Restaurants Under One Roof

April 25, 2016 by  


We are completely finished with the 1st quarter of 2016 and unlike me, it seems like everyone around me is sticking to their 2016 diet (kudos to you all).  It’s super important to reward yourself for your hard work. Yes, that’s right. I am here to talk about the very important part of your diet: Cheat Day!

In March, Gabby and I attended the 9th annual Choice Eats event at the Metropolitan Pavilion, my fourth year of attending. The main distraction from the food was all the alcohol!  With that being said, there was an unlimited amount of good beer. Not to mention all the 13 craft brewers that were present. I’m more of a wine drinker myself but Gabby suggested I give Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer a try and it was a total win. I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first time drinking a full glass of Stella; I was also very happy to take home my exclusive Stella Artois chalice.

With 65 restaurants present, it seems physically impossible to get around to each restaurant’s presentation table or to save enough room in your belly to enjoy all the food that was available to you. Choice Eats is most definitely a foodie’s dream come true. You get the best of both worlds: to relive some of your favorite dishes and to experience some new dishes all in the same place. Not to mention all the culture exposure all at once, too! What better way to be introduced to a new culture than through it’s food? My sweet tooth was on a break during the lent season but Gabby was my taste tester for all pastries (no worries, you can trust her instincts). Gabby and I were able to make it around to enough tables for plenty of Cheat Day options (before all the food started running out). Here’s a few of our faves:

Belle Reve’s fish tacos were one of a kind! We waited around for a second batch after our first taste.

Sweet Generation Bakery was one of the few tables whose food didn’t run out; how long do you think it took for them to prepare these amazing treats?


No. 7 Veggie offered their popular double layered broccoli taco that left me wanting more.


Cabalito Pupuseria offered chicken, chorizo and vegan pupusas.


Egg is an upscale all-day breakfast spot that offered us their homemade chicken sausage made from scratch.


Black Ant offered the BEST taco of the night. Everyone knows that the trick to good mussels is a good sauce and this taco was a score of deliciousness.

Food and drinks were the main attraction at Choice Eats but I have to say that the photo booths stole the night! We had too much fun at the Jarritos red carpet photo booth and we ended the night with silly photos at the Village Voice Choice Eats Photobooth sponsored by Herradura. It’s always awesome to take home some memories from a great event.

This was Gabby’s first Choice Eats event and she ended her night with a satisfied palate and a full belly. We are both super excited for Brunch Eats coming up on May 11th and will be taking full advantage of Cheat Day and visiting some new places thanks to Choice Eats. Let’s see if I can get back into the dieting scene for the rest of 2016 (or not). After all, life is only as good as you eat.

By: Denise Pina

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