Archive | 10:12 pm

Eating for a Cause at Boqueria

24 Mar

This past Sunday was the eighth annual Time Out For Hunger event, where over 160 restaurants in New York City participated in giving 10% of their day’s proceeds to the Food Bank For NYC. Presented with Time Out New York, the Food Bank enlisted some of the best restaurants this city has to offer, from Lure Fishbar to the Russian Tea Room, all of the BLT spots and more. I had a hard time choosing, but wound up heading to Boqueria for an amazing brunch with my family. Since I could never snag a table on any prior attempts, just getting a seat was reason enough for celebration.

Boqueria, named after Barcelona’s world famous and spectacular market, claims it offers New Yorkers “the chance to dine as they would in Barcelona’s famed tapas bars without ever leaving town.” I’ve never been to Spain, but if it’s anything like Boqueria in the Flatiron district, sign me up. The vibe is relaxed and communal, with high tables and chairs allowing diners and staff to be at eye-level, which strangely feels like you’re just chit-chatting with a friend while also ordering food. Genius.

There were six of us, and even though the Brunch menu looked amazing, we opted to stick with the tapas y raciones menu so that we could taste (and eat) as much as possible. The first bite to arrive at the table were the bunuelos de bacalao, which are salt-cod fritters with citrus aioli; the fritters were crispy and delicious, and the sauce was put aside on the table for all future dipping. Next up were the dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeon (a type of cheese similar to blue cheese), wrapped in bacon. These were small enough to pop in your mouth and exploded with amazing flavor after crunching through the salty bacon: sweet, savory, it was all there. Other highlights from the meal included the sauteed wild mushrooms with manchego cheese (salteado de setas), chorizo frittatas, and the grilled baby squid (txipirones) with garlic and parsley crispy potatoes.

My favorite pick of the afternoon were the blistered shishito peppers with sea salt (pimientos de padron); blackened to perfection, these little Japanese peppers were unassuming, simple, and fresh. They are typically mild, but a few can sneak in (on our plate, 3) that are very spicy, so we took the liberty to play ‘fiery pepper roulette’ with the table; I lost twice, but really, I won! I left Boqueria pleasantly full and happy, knowing that the amazing meal we just had would be contributing to the programs at the Food Bank.

For every $1 donated to the Food Bank For New York City, 5 meals can be provided to New Yorkers in need. Last year, Time Out For Hunger raised close to 300,000 meals in one day. The final tally hasn’t been completed yet for 2011, but Boqueria alone raised about $1,900- that’s 9,500 meals!


For more information about Time Out for Hunger 2012, visit the Food Bank for NYC website.

Boqueria has two locations- 53 West 19th Street in the Flatiron District, and 171 Spring Street in Soho. To see their menu and contact information, visit their website at


Force of Human Nature: Spring Volunteer Activities Outdoors

24 Mar

This post was originally written for offManhattan, an eco travel site featuring destinations out of Manhattan that are accessible sans car.

Whether or not the weather agrees, Spring is officially here. It’s time to put those winter sweaters back into storage and dust off your flip flops. It’s also the perfect time to volunteer in New York City. As the seasons change, so do the opportunities available; there are gardens to be planted, parks to prepped for the onslaught of visitors, and other outdoor projects that are most enjoyable in the cool sunshine of Spring. Below are some ideas for outdoor volunteer projects and activities that you can sign up for right now:

Pick A Day, Any Day

Are you too busy for a big time commitment? Sign up for these one-day volunteer events:

  • ‘It’s My Park Day’ is an bi-annual event taking place this spring on May 21st, 2011. You don’t even have to register: just find a participating park and GO. Partnerships for Parks invites dedicated community groups to organize volunteer projects and free cultural events in their neighborhood parks, in the hopes that people will come out to help and learn more about year-round opportunities. There will be over 150 community organizations and parks participating throughout the 5 boroughs.
  • Hands On New York Day: Join New York Cares and 5,000 other volunteers on April 16th to make our city’s parks and gardens cleaner, greener, and ready for summer. You can join my team or start your own!
  • Million Trees Planting Event: The city’s Million Trees Initiative has an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. On April 30th, 2011 you can help them reach that goal by joining them in one of five parks in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and volunteer to help plant 20,000 trees in one day!

Runs Don’t Run Themselves

New York City plays host to a slew of fundraising 5K’s and walks, and all of them need volunteers to help ensure the day goes smoothly. You can help by handing out water along the route, checking in participants, cleaning up after the race, or even cheering! Here are some upcoming runs and contact info:

  • New York Road Runners: Find more races and opportunities here by signing up to volunteer at any NYRR race. All opportunities in 2011 will count as a volunteer credit toward the 9+1 Program for those who would like to receive a guaranteed entry to the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.

Going Green for the Season

There are many organizations that are dedicated to community gardening and environmental education all year long. Now that Spring has arrived, they’ll need help for the busy planting season. Check out these groups for on-going volunteer opportunities with varying commitment levels:
  • ioby (which stands for ‘in our backyards’) connects donors and volunteers to environmental projects in their neighborhoods to inspire new environmental knowledge and action in New York City. They have sponsored projects in need of volunteers to plant veggies, building gardens and educating the public; email for more info or visit the website.
  • TimeBanksNYC Green April is a month-long marathon of eco-friendly, green-inspired projects. Each Saturday in April, TBNYC will be in a different borough for an environmental community service event. To gain access to the Green April events, attend the volunteer kick-off event on March 30th at the Horticultural Society of NY; RSVP at
  • New York Cares is the all-encompassing, citywide mecca for volunteers. Just sign up online and attend a 45-minute orientation and you’ll be able to access their database of 1,000’s of projects that take place all over the city, from Pelham Bay Park to Gregory’s community garden in Brooklyn and almost everything in between. You can volunteer once, weekly, monthly; whatever you schedule, NY Cares has something for everyone.
  • Slow Food NYC is the New York City chapter of Slow Food, a non-profit, member-supported organization founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life. From time to time they need volunteers to staff events or to help with outreach programs. Contact them at to find out what’s available now; for one, they will be preparing their neighborhood farm in Brownsville on April 16th, 30th and June 4th for the upcoming summer program for 100 local kids.

For more environmentally-helpful volunteer projects, visit my spring greening tips from last year, “Volunteerism in Full Bloom.”