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Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

Vulcan II Aroma Diffuser

The Vulcan II Aroma Diffuser is an aromatherapy diffuser that is also a safe sleep aid. Producing an advanced ultrasonic vaporizing diffusion technology along with harmonic sounds. This architecturally beautiful machine  gently releases a soothing fragrant mist to scent your surroundings and helps you fall alseep quickly. This Scentilizer comes with a built-in speaker and plays a stream of pre-programmed music or you can connect it to a personal music player and indulge in your favorite tunes before bed. With the  infrared remote control, you can easily turn the product on or off, adjust the atomization, set a usage time or even control the music and the rotating mood lights to best suits your environment.

Since trying out this machine, my apartment smells delicious and my stress levels have decreased. This is a must have for New Yorkers who are prone to high stress levels. Though pricey at $270.00, it is so worth the money for what it does for your peace of mind. For a less technological model you will pay about $85.00 on up, but this machine is the one I recommend. I can’t even imagine living without it now.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Food and Drink

Blu On The Hudson The Destination For a Perfect Dinning Experience

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I first wrote about Blu On The Hudson 8 months ago. This perfect mini vacation, is one stop on the 158 bus or a ferry ride away. Located on the Hudson River, at 1200 Harbor Boulevard, in Weehawken, you will find breath taking views, a calming atmosphere and food that rivals  the best 4 – 5 star restaurants in Manhattan.This is the spot where Arron Burr shot Hamilton.

Blu on the Hudson is spacious with over 30,000 square foot, so far, but they are creating a space that I was lucky enough to see. This glass enclosed and outdoor upstairs will rival every wedding, event space within a 2 hour drive.  I am letting you know, now is the time to book your event before it is booked out.

Blu Hospitality Group, truly wants to impress you and goes out of their way to do so. You are greated by a specious luxurious space and a large fireplace.

Beautiful walls, several dining room with views, alcoves for a intimate dinning moments and bar that you will want everyone to know your name, awaits. High ceilings and modern decor makes everyone who enters forget their stress and just relax. You can feel your body ease.

From moment one, you are made to feel like Blu’s welcomed and invited guests.

Sarah

My server Sarah was a prime example of this.

Starting off the experience, my guest, writer and friend Craig and I decided to indulge with cocktails. I had the Oil On The Skin ($16) made with Aperol, Strawberry, Grapefruit and Prosecco. This was refreshing and the perfect summer drink. Craig, who was excited by the amount of Tuffle inspired food and drink choices ordered the Blu Seasonal Black Truffle Bloody Mary ($18) and was thrilled. Spicy, with garnishes that made this drink an appetizer in itself had sure this brunch was already a hit.

When looking at the menu I knew we had to try the Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes ($21). Topped with a Blueberry Compote and served with organic Maple Syrup, these surpassed my expectations. The ricotta had a lemon zest, the pancakes fluffy with crispy edges. I was already imitating Sally in the film “When Harry Met Sally” after my first bite. I will definitely be coming back, for this alone.

Already on a bacon kick thanks to David Burke, I also wanted to try the Thick Cut Wagyu “Bacon” ($26), that is slow cooked in a soy caramel glaze. This is only served at dinner, but luckily I got to try this. With a savory salty crunch, this was the perfect compliment to the pancakes. Sweet, then savory, crunchy, then tender, what Blu offers the dinning experience is a sensual layered, all senses dive, into carnal pleasures.

I now needed the perfect Iced Coffee and again the simplest of needs had a taste sensation.

For entree’s more truffles for Craig with the Truffled Mushroom Omelette ($22) filled with White Cheddar, egg whites and one yolk served with a side salad. Craig was in heaven with his light as a feather, but flavorful dish.

 

Craig also ordered the Parmesan Truffle Fries ($12), and I am so glad he did. These were bite fulls of erotic delights.Loving artichokes, I ordered Eggs on Artichoke ($24), which consisted of poached eggs, pecorino, roasted tomatoes in a light béarnaise sauce. The piece de resistance of this dish, were the lightly fried artichokes that added texture, then melted into your mouth with a pop of flavor. Even the roasted tomatoes added an arousing impact to the tongue. When food is done well, sex definitely comes second.
The fabulous warm and inviting manager Andrew, wanted us to try his favorite dish, the Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Shrimp Cobb Salad ($29). Topped with Deviled Eggs, Bacon, Tomatoes, Corn and Avocado, this was served over Market Greens and a feast to behold. The crabmeat was tender and the shrimp succulent, but the surprise here was the corn, which added so much to the dish. This is great luncheon entree when you want to indulge and also stay healthy.

Now I was so full, I was not going to do desserts, but feast or famine and feast it was. The adorable Sarah made sure we were given these beautiful dishes to indulge.

First up the Tiramisu ($14), which is one of the best I have ever had. Extra creamy and not overly sweet. An added layer of thin chocolate added to the decadence. This dessert also puts on a show.

The most luxurious, extravagant haven of food for the senses has to be the Chocolate S’Mores ($14). Served with a gluten free graham cracker crust, Chocolate Mouse and Marshmallow. Tiny chunks of sea salt make this decadent and sweet, with pops of indulgence.

A coffee ($6) ended our foray of culinary ecstasy. To quote myself from my last experience at Blu “Food and sex have always gone hand in hand and eating at Blu On The Hudson, will make all your senses take flight. This restaurant potions of food, drinks and presentation justify and make the whole experience worth the trip and the cost.”

To Executive Chef Juan Carols Ortega, you make my body sing with your creations. This is definitely one of my favorite places to eat. Blu is exquisite perfection.

You can follow Blu on The Hudson at @bluonthehudson.

 

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Food and Drink

Splendid Cocktails on St. Patrick’s Day with Bushmills Irish Whiskey

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St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. The day is full of joy, but you don’t have to wait until March 17 to get lucky.  You will love these amazing cocktails to toast on the day of green and glory from Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

The Original variation is quite fascinating. It is bold with a peppery undertone, yet smooth in construction like velvet. It perfectly combines their pure single malt whiskey and a lighter grain whiskey. It warms your heart to sip, so makes for a perfect holiday mix. Try the love at home this St. Patrick’s Day.

The Gold Rush

Ingredients

1.5 parts Bushmills Original

1 part fresh lemon juice

1 part honey syrup

4 sprigs fresh mint

Lemon wheel

Method – Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain over fresh ice

 

The  Irish Coffee

Ingredients:

50ml Bushmills Black Bush

1 tsp demerara sugar

150ml black coffee

Lightly whipped fresh cream

Coffee beans to garnish

Method – Add all of the ingredients to an Irish coffee glass and stir, leaving space at the top for the fresh cream. Slowly pour the cream on top and garnish with coffee beans. Pour the cream over the spoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Events

Eli Marcus Brings His Networking Event to Fushimi Times Square

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Eli Marcus, Chief Marketing Officer of NYC’s largest circulation Visitor Magazine, City Guide, has done it again. On February 28th he organized a wonderful networking event for those in the hospitality and theater communities. And true to form he did so in a beautiful new restaurant on West 43rd Street off 8th Avenue – in the heart of Times Square. Fushimi Times Square is the latest outlet for the Japanese group who has had success in Staten Island, Bay Ridge and Williamsburg. Their restaurant at 311 West 43rd Street is a welcome entry to the area and now that the scaffolding is gone from that block it is a pleasant walk to the welcoming door of this beautiful space.

Fushimi Beautiful decorations

The decor has a beautiful sculpture of a fish hanging from the ceiling which depicts the delicious selections of sushi and sashimi prepared by the talented chefs.

The talented chefs are in view as they create these delicacies.

Guests at the evenings event were served appetizers of amazing tuna tartare and a variety of warm dishes of dumplings, and eggrolls – pork, shrimp and vegetarian.

Tuna tartare is a burst of flavor

Dumplings and Eggrolls were served

Barry Huang, manager of Fushimi Times Square is a silhouette in the long entry way to this beautifully designed restaurant.

Eli and Ramon

Eli invited some interesting people to the event. Publicist to megastars, Ramon Hervey II, has an interesting podcast  and is the author of The Fame Game.

Eli and Hugh Hysell

Hugh Hysell is a major force in the New York social circles and it was great to see him at the event.

Errol, Quinn and Eli

Errol Rappaport, promoter, and singer, actress, Quinn Lemley, who just returned from London where she performed her one woman show about Rita Hayworth joined Eli at the event.

Rocksax gave out merch to lucky winners

Rocksax, purveyor of officially licensed music merchandise was in attendance and gave out some of their product to some lucky attendees.

The beautiful bar

In addition to the wonderful food, Fushimi’s beautiful bar is a welcome spot to relax.

The crowd

As usual the attendees had an excellent time meeting, chatting and enjoying the food

Barry and Eli

Eli looks on as the Fushimi manager, Barry Huang thanks the guests for coming

Barry and the DJ

Barry and the DJ kept the food, drinks and music going through the event

I look forward to returning to Fushimi at 311 West 43rd Street for a full dinner of their excellent visionary Japanese-fusion dishes.

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Food and Drink

How to Spot High-Quality Mushrooms: Your Ultimate Guide

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How to Spot High-Quality Mushrooms: Your Ultimate Guide

When it comes to the culinary world, mushrooms hold a unique place. They’re not just another ingredient but a delicacy that can elevate dishes with their distinct flavors and textures. However, not all mushrooms are created equal. Recognizing high-quality mushrooms can significantly impact your cooking and dining experience. Here’s your ultimate guide to identifying the crème de la crème of fungi, ensuring every bite is a journey to gastronomic bliss.

Appearance: The First Impression

The initial tell-tale sign of a high-quality mushroom, including Magic Mushroom Gummies, is its appearance. Look for mushrooms and mushroom products with a fresh, vibrant look. They should possess a smooth, unblemished surface. Any signs of bruising or discoloration often indicate mishandling or age. The color should be consistent with the variety of the mushroom; for example, a Shiitake should have a rich, brown hue, while a Portobello should boast a deep, dark brown complexion. Similarly, Magic Mushroom Gummies should have a uniform color that reflects their natural ingredients, without any irregular spots or fading, ensuring their quality and potency.

Firmness: The Touch Test

After visual inspection, gently squeeze the mushroom. It should feel firm to the touch, not slimy or mushy. A high-quality mushroom will have a certain resilience, bouncing back after you apply slight pressure. This firmness is a good indicator of freshness and proper storage. Mushrooms that feel too soft or start to disintegrate under gentle pressure are past their prime.

Aroma: The Scent of Freshness

A fresh, high-quality mushroom will have a mild, earthy smell. This aroma should be pleasant and subtle, not overpowering or unpleasant. Any hint of sourness or an ammonia-like smell is a red flag, signaling that the mushroom is beginning to spoil. Trust your nose; it can be one of your greatest allies in determining the quality of mushrooms.

Dryness: The Moisture Balance

While mushrooms naturally contain moisture, they should not appear wet or slimy. Excessive moisture can indicate improper storage, leading to faster degradation of the mushroom. On the flip side, you want mushrooms that are dry enough, as this can mean they’re old and have lost their natural juiciness. The goal is to find mushrooms that strike the perfect balance, looking plump and hydrated without any wetness on the surface.

Stem and Cap: The Integrity Check

High-quality mushrooms should have caps and stems that are intact. The cap should be securely attached to the stem, indicating that the mushroom was harvested correctly and handled carefully. Any signs of separation between the cap and stem could suggest aging or rough handling. Additionally, the gills (located under the cap) should be intact and not overly exposed, which is another sign of freshness.

Size and Shape: The Uniformity Aspect

While mushrooms naturally vary in size and shape, a batch of high-quality mushrooms should have some uniformity. This doesn’t mean they need to be identical; rather, their size and shape should be appropriate for their variety. This uniformity is often a sign of careful selection and handling, ensuring that each mushroom meets a certain quality standard.

Storage: The Environment Factor

Lastly, where and how the mushrooms are stored can give clues about their quality. High-quality mushrooms are typically stored in a cool, dry place. If you’re purchasing mushrooms, look for those stored in a refrigerated section or displayed in a cool area, away from direct sunlight. This ensures they remain fresh for longer.

Wrapping Up

Identifying high-quality mushrooms is an art that combines visual inspection, tactile examination, and a bit of olfactory investigation. By looking for these essential signs—appearance, firmness, aroma, dryness, stem and cap integrity, size and shape, and storage conditions—you’ll be well-equipped to select the finest for your culinary adventures. Remember, the quality of the ingredients can transform a good dish into an extraordinary one. So, the next time you find yourself in the produce aisle or at a local farmers’ market, use these tips to pick the best mushrooms out there and elevate your cooking to the next level.

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Events

Adrienne Warren To Perform At DIFFA’s 40th Anniversary Gala

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DIFFA is excited to announce its highly anticipated 40th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in NYC. It will feature a star-studded lineup of entertainment including Tony Award-winner Adrienne Warren (Tina –The Tina Turner Musical), vocalist and trumpeter Brian Newman and celebrity DJ Michaelangelo L’Acqua. The Gala will commemorate a remarkable legacy—forty years of impactful DIFFA initiatives — and raise critical funds to further support vital causes. Tickets and more details are available here.

The announcement comes on the heels of an incredibly successful Après Ski event held earlier this month, which raised over $100,000 for DIFFA grantees. Established in 1984 in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, DIFFA has since expanded its mission to encompass broader community challenges such as homelessness and mental wellness.

“What started as a group of designers and manufacturer’s gathering in an NYC basement to raise money to help support their ailing friends and co-workers’ doctor’s visits and living expenses, has grown into a catalyst for change. Since our founding, we’ve granted more than $55 million to organizations which provide direct care to those most in need of assistance,” remarks Dawn Roberson, Executive Director of DIFFA.

“DIFFA has been a cause very close to my heart for more than 30 years. I’ve seen first-hand how the organization has galvanized the design community to rally our talents, resources, and creativity in the face of some of the most intractable social and healthcare challenges of our era. I’m so proud to celebrate 40 years of giving back and am excited about DIFFA’s next chapter,” said David Rockwell, who currently serves as Chair Emeritus of DIFFA.

“Serving as a rallying point for the design community, the Gala event will allow us to continue DIFFA’s legacy of giving. An opportunity for brands and individuals to demonstrate their solidarity, it will also pay tribute to those pioneering individuals who were champions of the cause and instrumental in making a DIFFA-rence—from the 1980s when AIDS was a mysterious illness with little hope for a cure, to DIFFA’s work today in line with its expanded mission,” adds current Board Chair Thomas Polucci.

The gala will feature an award ceremony and special video segment highlighting an honoree from each decade of DIFFA’s history. Fern Mallis and Steven Cole of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) are among those offering video tributes to former DIFFA chairs Cindy Allen, David Rockwell, and George Slowik, and former executive director David Sheppard. The event will also recognize the incredible work of DIFFA’s grantees, including organizations such as Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Housing Works, God’s Love We Deliver, Bailey House, SAGE, Health, Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. These grantees provide direct care through several different initiatives—from funding pantry bag meals to supporting outreach programs for underserved and disenfranchised LGBTQ homeless and street-involved youth.

Thoughtfully designed installations by students at FIT, SVA, Pratt, and NYSID will provide an inspiring backdrop to the evening’s festivities. Each imaginative vignette will illustrate a different decade in DIFFA’s rich history. Guests will be treated to performances by Tony-award-winning actress Adrienne Warren, who recently played Tina Turner in TINA – The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway, as well as the dynamic sounds of DJ Michaelangelo L’Acqua.

DIFFA is deeply grateful to Benjamin Moore, presenting sponsor of the 40th Anniversary Gala, as well as gold sponsors Empire Office with Steelcase, EvensonBest, HOK, MillerKnoll, Rockwell Group, and Shaw Contract.

The DIFFA gala is just one in several 40th anniversary fundraising events. Lip Sync for Life—a drag event originally founded by DIFFA Chicago—is scheduled for the last week of June in conjunction with PRIDE festivities.

For more information on DIFFA and the full list of grantees, visit diffa.org.

DIFFA: grants funds to organizations providing treatment, assistance, and access to healthcare for a diverse group of people affected by HIV/AIDS, food & housing insecurities, and mental health issues. For four decades, DIFFA has created legendary programs and events that highlight a cause that has impacted the industry. As times change and we face a new set of challenges, DIFFA answers the community’s needs by expanding our mission to include funding for those with food and housing insecurities and to support mental wellbeing.

Harnessing the design industry’s resources and creativity to respond to critical health issues and build a healthier, robust, and inclusive community. Making a DIFFA-rence!

DIFFA is one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the United States. Mobilizing the immense resources and creativity of the design community, DIFFA has granted more than $55 million to hundreds of HIV/AIDS organizations nationwide. Including Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Housing Works, God’s Love We Deliver, Bailey House, SAGE, Health, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, among many others. www.diffa.org.

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