New York, New York!

I have a love/hate relationship with the city, I can’t deny. I love it because there’s so much to see and do and experience! It’s the epicenter of absolutely everything I’m into – writing, blogging, beauty, style, good food, fun…

I hate it because I don’t live there.

Don’t get me wrong, I just moved to the Chi and I’m happy to be here! But I’ll be damned – doesn’t it seem like EVERY hot event is in NYC? What’s with that?

Every time I visit New York, it’s hard for me to leave. I always leave with a feeling of loss, of imcompleteness, of wait – there’s SO much more I wanted to do here! But I reassure myself with the knowledge that I’ll be back. I just visited in March, and I’m already plotting my return. Did someone say Fashion Week? Hell yeah! Next time I visit NYC, I’ve got 5 places I need to spend more time at. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. The East Village. Every time I come visit, I stay with my homegirl Jenny in the West Village. And it’s super fun for sure… but I’m new to the East Village. And it just has a flavor to it that I LOVE. Mohawked punk rockers strolling alongside silver haired abuelitas dragging little suitcases on wheels, hair colors, piercings, and tattoos the likes of which you don’t see regularly anyplace else, and a plethora — PLETHORA of funky restaurants, boutiques, and bars to check out. I darted in and out of Max Brenner, Chocolate By the Bald Man for a fabulicious hot chocolate, and I NEED MORE. This place is a chocolaholic’s mecca, I swear! En route we whizzed through Village Kitchen — I could spend a grip in a store like this! Every kind of kitchen gadget you’ve imagined, and a score more you’ve never seen before. If you imagine yourself an at-home like I do, this could be your little corner of heaven. Another store I have-to-have-to-have-to visit next time I’m in NYC is a teeny jewelry shop that all but yanked me in as I strolled by. When I met the owner, I realized fate had stepped into my life yet again. The store’s called The Shape of Lies and the owner’s name is Peggy. Just like my mom!

The Shape of Lies specializes in historic reproduction jewelry, and some of their pieces are just stunners. I almost don’t want to blog about them too much because there’s a necklace there that is MINE, you read me? MINE! As soon as I can pony up the cash! Their jewelry isn’t cheap, but it certainly will get you noticed and remembered. I have made a promise to gift myself with a little something from The Shape of Lies. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop by and tell Peggy you read about her on Afrobella!

2. Brooklyn in general. Sugarcane restaurant in specific. I’ve been to NYC several times and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t explored or experienced Brooklyn yet. And I know there’s SO much going on there! If you’re of Caribbean descent and you live in NYC, odds are this is where you’re at. So even though my last trip took me in opposite directions, I had to make it out there for just a taste of home. Overwhelmingly, every Trini I asked said one thing — go straight to Sugarcane! And apparently I wasn’t the only one who got the message — when we arrived for our 7 p.m. reservation, this chic Caribbean restaurant was packed to the GILLS. Like call the fire department because this is a hazard packed. Meanwhile the restaurants across the street were so empty it was embarrassing. If you’re planning to head there, take my advice. Make a reservation ahead of time, corrall your party, and if you get there early don’t expect to be treated special. The response to my 15 minute-early arrival was horror. They were NOT ready. So come armed with patience and be prepared for a Trinidadian feast the likes of which you can hardly find off the island. Callaloo. Macaroni pie. Brown stewed chicken. A version of bake and shark that didn’t disappoint. Sugarcane, I’ll be back. And next time I’ll check out the rest of Brooklyn, too. Any specific recommendations, bellas and fellas?

3. Central Park. I’ve wanted to go ever since I saw Miss Ross turn it out in 1983. It was a defining moment in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time because I was four years old!

As luck would have it, Calvin, a good friend of mine who used to be a reporter at my old job, is now a Central Park ranger. Score! He drew us a map and my husband and I spent a beautiful afternoon wandering through the park. But this was in frigid March, so the flowers were barely just beginning to bloom. I bet the park is verdant and glorious now! I gotta get to NYC in the summer, so I can stroll through the park when it’s full of life.

4. The museums! NYC is a city filled with culture, and just about every time I’ve visited, I seek out anything but. The last time I came, my amiga Nichelle of 55 Secret Street took me to MOMA — the Museum of Modern Art. It was a whirlwind trip that left me hungry for so much more. MOMA’s so huge, so intricate, so chockablock with things to see, I owe myself a visit back to soak it all in. And besides MOMA, there’s the Met, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the American Museum of Natural History… so many more to explore. I’ll be back and someday my trip will be all about museum day.

5. The plus size fashion meccas. Last visit, I made a special visit to Monif C.’s boutique, and got to check out her lovely gowns in person. Regrettably I didn’t get to meet Monif, so I need to stop by when she’s in the house. I want the Marilyn convertible dress breakdown live and in person! If you’re a voluptuous chica like I am, there’s nowhere to get your shop on like NYC. No wonder it’s the home of Full Figured Fashion Week! Next time I’m in town I’m making a pilgrimage to Re/Dress NYC, which is possibly the only buy/sell/trade plus size clothing store in the land. I have only heard raves and I love the concept. Cute, chic, and for curvy chicks? Count me in!

Whew! As you can tell, my next trips to the Big Apple are more-or-less planned out. I can’t wait to get back already, and the next time I do, I’ll have another meet and greet with my bellas in the area. If you’re a NYC bella, talk to me! Have you been to the places I shouted out? Is there anywhere else I need to see? Let me know!

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Starchild says:
June 2, 2009, 7:09 pm
Bella, You're speakin' my language! I'm a California girl who loves, loves, LOVES NYC! I make a point to visit at least once a year. The East Village is my favorite place in Manhattan! I love that it's so alive, even at 4 in the morning...and, I can get a hot slice for cheap. Max Brenner's is heavenly. Chocolate drinks, chocolate eats. Who could ask for more? The MET is awesome! When you go to Brooklyn, don't forget Fort Green, Park Slope, and Williamsburg. They're all very diffent, and very cool. Also, the Brooklyn Botanic Museum between Prospect Park and Park Slope is beautiful, especially when everything is in bloom. Diana @ Central Park - when I was little, I thought she was the most glamorous woman on the planet. Fabulous in the rain and her Bob Mackie costumes. :-) TTFN, Starchild Afro*T*siac
Diana says:
June 2, 2009, 8:43 pm
Hey Ms. Bella, Being that I am from NY, you hit all the best parts. But I see you did not get a chance to go to Junior's Restaurant dwtn Brooklyn for the authentic NY Cheesecake. Maybe on your next visit. :)
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
June 3, 2009, 4:41 am
I second Junior's for cheesecake. Your post made me homesick!! I love, love, love NYC and always will.
TheStyleChild says:
June 3, 2009, 10:49 am
Good post, chica! And I need for you to know that clicking on that YouTube clip turned into a nearly three hour YouTube search & find mission of old school "Supremes" performances, last night... lol!
Caila K says:
June 3, 2009, 10:14 am
Been here 19 years and def still can't get enough! Next time you're in BK check out Habana Outpost(weekend hot spot-esp at night). In midtown-Bryant Park and too many restaurants and hot spots to name!! Harlem-MoBays.
Jenene says:
June 3, 2009, 11:21 am
There are too many cute restaurants in NYC to name! One of my faves on the Lower East Side is Nomad (French-African) where the food and the atmosphere is super sexy! In the winter it's all about low lights and candles and the summer sit in a cute little garden area. All the entrees are great, but ask for the cookie plate for dessert! Across the street from Nomad is SEA (Thai) where the food is cheap but will keep you coming back. Skip this location if ambience counts. Shoot over to Williamburgh BK for the larger location. It'll be insanely crowded on the wkends but that's how you know the restaurant is great. For brunch, my honey and I frequent Kush (more African food)in Ft. Greene BK. The service is not great, but the food speaks for itself. Love the seafood crepe. Sit on the patio if you can! My other brunch spot is Peaches in Bed-Stuy. Ask them for their homemade hot sauce! Now I'm a Queens girl so I have sneak a Queens shout out to Jackson Diner for the best Indian food I have ever tasted. It ain't fancy and is cash only, but the meals are consistently tasty. Go for the lunch buffet and spend the rest of the afternoon shopping Indian 22K gold jewelry and sari fabrics! Are you tired yet? If not, on your next trip to Central Park go to the Conservatory Garden at Fifth and 105th. It's one of the city's few designated Quiet Zones. Afterwards traipse up to the Harlem Meer. See you when you get here!
BeauteNoire says:
June 3, 2009, 11:44 am
Hey Bella! You just made me so homesick for NYC! Ever since I moved away last year, I'm so jealous whenever I see pics of the city or talk with my friends still living in NYC! Maybe we can meet up during Fashion Week and be mad at having to return to the Midwest together!
MoniMoni says:
June 3, 2009, 2:22 pm
Third for Junior's Cheesecake! Honey, I am a born and bred NY'er and although I feel like it's not the city I grew up in, I defend my hometown to the end! BTW, I was at that Diana Ross Concert (I think I was 14/15), both days since it rained so bad the first day. It was great moment! One of my favorite concert memories.
kf519 says:
June 3, 2009, 2:33 pm
NYC is a great place to visit (and live). But if it makes you feel any better I lived there for 2 years and did any and everything I could as far as events, etc. but now I still find myself saying "i didn't get a chance to do that!" lol
dancesistah says:
June 3, 2009, 2:39 pm
You have an Afrobella reader here who lives two blocks away from Shape of Lies! I actually did a little bit of pr for Peggy back in the late 90s. Next time you come, email me in advance and I'll tell you about even more little EV spots for shopping and dining (inexpesive, at that). Peggy at SOL does these bookmarks that I get for special people for special occasions like graduations and such.
Shuggie says:
June 3, 2009, 2:49 pm
I'm sorry I missed your last visit to NYC, but please let us know when you're planning a next Afrobella meet-up. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree on Junior's cheescake (I went there expecting it to be incredible and I was kinda disappointed)-I think cheesecake from Veniero's in Manhattan is much much better. The one benefit of going to Junior's in Brooklyn, though, is that it's walking distance to the original/1st Carol's Daughter store.
Alphanista says:
June 3, 2009, 4:06 pm
If you haven't yet check out the Art Gallery district in Chelsea, beautiful!
Tha Connoisseur says:
June 3, 2009, 9:16 pm
Guuuurl, since we are talking food - Juniors AND Cake Man Raven for that lovely piece of Red Velvet cake!! :D And my favorite restaurant here - Kittichai in Soho. Thai food at its best! Let's make a date shall we?? LOL
Jenene says:
June 4, 2009, 11:44 am
@Shuggie- I can totally feel you on Junior's. The cheesecake gives me a tummyache every time. And as for the regular food, sick for 2 days after. They cooked the broccoli in the salad! Who does that?
Shuggie says:
June 4, 2009, 5:05 pm
@Jenene LOL!!! I was going to leave it at my first comment, but since I'm commenting again, can I just say (looking at the Diana Ross clip) - I don't get the hype on Lady Gaga - seems like Diana was on that "no pants" trend 25 years ago! No offense to her, but Lady Gaga is not as original as people are making her out to be! Also, with all the hot popis out in the audience, why did Diana bring that guy up on stage? LOL!!!
Shuggie says:
June 4, 2009, 5:12 pm
I thought the song was called Muscles - I didn't see any worth singing about on that guy!!
Pat says:
June 5, 2009, 11:17 am
Bella, My hunger 2 move there has just been heightened by your entry.It just looks like the best city.
tena says:
June 9, 2009, 11:27 am
i'm a alabama gurl born and raised. I must say that I love NYC!!! i visited the city once and i didn't want to retrun home. Born country, but city chic all the way!!!
Yaya says:
June 10, 2009, 11:56 am
I def hear ya on that one. Although, I'm afraid to travel anywhere, because after growing up in NY nothing else hits the spot. When I dormed in Philly I was absolutely miserable.
Miss Journey says:
September 23, 2009, 2:53 pm
LOVE this post! NYC is definitely the place to be. I've been here my entire life and have still yet to touch the tip of the iceberg of what NY has to offer. You MUST go back to Max Brenner, preferably the one in Union Square. There's so much more than hot chocolate as I'm sure you got a chance to see. I recommend the tutti fruiti waffle meal....mmmmm. Also, when you do make your way to Brooklyn, ask around for Cake Man on Fulton Ave.: the BEST red velvet cake I've ever tasted. And in your next trip to NY, I hope you get a chance to make it to Queens, lots of Caribbean people out there too. lol.
Miss Journey says:
September 23, 2009, 2:54 pm
Oh and Negril Village (on 3rd Ave I believe) is a good stop too :-)
alice says:
October 28, 2010, 1:50 am
hey.... we visisting NYC ME AND MY beau can anyone hook us up we don know where to hang out this weekend we in central park!!! jus askin since u girls sound lie you knoe this place so well??? anyone??? Alice