Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Miss Menu Mentions

This whole blogging thing is still pretty new to me. Slowly but surely I'm learning the ropes, though. Aside from seeing my traffic grow and hearing positive feedback from my readers, the most exciting thing in the past 4 months has been seeing me/Miss Menu featured on other sites! Since these sites are kind enough to mention lil' old me, I wanted to share them with you too.

Cool in Your Code is an "innovative Emmy award winning “infotainment” show that breaks down what’s cool, new, undiscovered, and different throughout New York City’s 200+ zip codes. The show is currently airing 3 nights a week on NYC TV Channel 25." Each week, CiNYC's site features a different NY-centric blogger whose interview is posted on their "Around the Blog" section.

I was contacted by a CiNYC-er last month and was thrilled to share with her and the CiNYC audience my take on life in NYC. Here is the interview, which can also be seen at www.coolinyourcode.com/miss-menu:

As any New Yorker knows, you could live in NYC your whole life and be able to eat at a different restaurant every day. Miss Menu realized this exciting fact shortly after moving to the city. Coming from the South, she quickly embraced the diversity of food choices and ethnic varieties that can be found everywhere you turn. Her love of dining out became a joke among her friends, at the same time they turned to her for restaurant recommendations. On her blog, Miss Menu does not pull her punches when sharing her dining adventures. Whether she is dissing the straight out of the box rice pilaf at Ali Babi or raving about the multitude of vegetables on the pizza champion at Christina’s, there is no question where Miss Menu stands.

While Miss Menu continues to eat her way across town, we asked her what else she loves about life in the city...

What brought you to New York?
I grew up coming to New York every year with my family. The first time my parents let my brother and me go off on our own was when I fell in love with this city. We were in awe of seeing something exciting around every corner. That’s when I realized how there’s no where else in the US I’d rather live. After growing up in the South, I was definitely ready for a change of pace, and moving here after graduating from college was the perfect opportunity to take a stab at living in the Big Apple. Five years later, I couldn’t be happier.

What do you love about living in New York?
The main thing I love is the restaurants, obviously! You can find every type of food imaginable in every neighborhood. I walk down the street and get excited about spotting new restaurants I haven’t been to before and adding them to my rapidly-growing “to do” list. I also love that when I’m walking a few blocks, I can pass people from all walks of life. I love the view from my apartment window…Chrysler building to the left, and Queensboro Bridge/East River to my right. And finally, I love how at any time of day (or night), there is something going on and something to do. It’s true…this city never sleeps.

What do you think makes a New Yorker?
Someone who has thick skin and can elbow their way through crowded sidewalks. Someone with the knowledge of which way to walk when you come up the steps from the subway. Someone with the ability to quickly calculate how much to tip a cab driver. Someone who knows (not believes) that New York is the greatest city in the country, if not the world.

When you leave New York, what do you miss the most?
I miss the energy that this city has. It sometimes takes leaving New York to be reminded of how great that is. When I go home to visit my family in Atlanta, I realize how I have to take a deep breath and slow down a little. At first, it’s so relaxing. But after a while, I find myself getting a little bored and wanting to come back to NYC. And, I wouldn’t be Miss Menu if I didn’t mention how I miss the restaurant culture. Sure, other cities have some fantastic restaurants and local specialties. What makes this city so special is the ability to find fantastic ethnic restaurants within walking distance.

Do you know any tricks or insider info?
I’ve found that being even the tiniest bit friendly to service people can really pay off. I started saying “hi, how are you?” to the guy at the coffee cart outside my office. Now, as soon as he sees me walk up, he gets my order ready even if there are people ahead of me in line. I forgot my work pass one morning, and the security guard I had chatted with before let me through with no problem. I need something repaired in my apartment, and because I am friendly to the maintenance guy, he’s here in five minutes. A little geniality can go a long way!

Tell us about your blog… what is the premise, what are your main coverage areas, how did you get started?
On Miss Menu, I’m excited to share all of my NYC restaurant experiences…both the good and the not so good. Even though life in NYC can be a little uncertain at times, there is one thing I’m sure of…I will never get tired of dining out in this city. Some may say I dine out way too often, but I just think life is too short to be spent eating at home all the time when we live in one of the greatest culinary cities in the world!
This blog came to be after a few things happened: a friend kept joking that I am a walking Zagat guide; many others come to me for restaurant recommendations; and most recently, my boss nick-named me “Miss Menu” after suggesting a handful of restaurants that we could go to for an office lunch.
Follow my latest restaurant adventures, find ideas for your next meal, or even ask for suggestions. Bon Appetit!

Best corny tourist attraction that you secretly love?
Grand Central. Even though it’s a bit of a nightmare to walk through during rush hour, it really is a gorgeous building inside and out. It’s refreshing to see architecture other than modern skyscrapers. Seeing tourists taking photos of Grand Central makes me appreciate how cool it is to be able to walk through a major tourist destination on my walk to work every morning.

Best neighborhood bar?
Underground in Murray Hill. To me, it stands apart from the other bars in this neighborhood. It’s one of those bars that serves many purposes…after work bar, sports bar, lounge, outdoor bar. And, it’s hard to go wrong with their happy hour specials: $1 drafts and $3 mixed drinks.

Best late night joint?
The restaurant formerly known as Chickpea on 3rd Ave & St. Marks. It’s currently closed for remodeling and will be opened under another name, but they have some of the most authentic falafel in the city. It’s also open until 4am, which makes it a perfect fix for greasy, satisfying, late night food.

Last cultural thing that you did (movie, museum, theatre, etc…)?
I went to see the Jasper Johns’ Gray exhibit at The Met. The building itself is worth a visit. Add an incredible exhibit, and it becomes a “must see” cultural outing. It’s so impressive to see so many of his works all in one place, and to see the variety that he created using only shades of gray.

Best fancy schmancy restaurant?
Megu wins out here. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of restaurant I can dine at regularly, but I won a gift certificate to Megu at work and dined like a queen. The d├ęcor is top notch, and the food is even better. You know a place is fancy schmancy when they have a new Buddha ice sculpture brought in daily to serve as the focal point of the restaurant.

Best place to meet members of the opposite sex?
I don’t think there’s a specific spot, but I think in a city this complex, people in New York meet members of the opposite sex in a crazy variety of ways. I know people who have met on the train to Fire Island, at an apartment party, while watching a parade, and online. Some may make for better stories than others, but connecting with someone new in a city of 10 million is great no matter how it happens.

Best moviehouse?
Definitely the Sunshine Cinema on Houston. It’s a nice break from the cookie cutter mega-theaters that are found all over the city. While it lacks stadium seating, most of the theaters are pretty small and very comfortable.

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