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Tasty Bites in NYC

    I hope everyone had a great and blessed Christmas and holiday season!  We caught the Christmas fever in our house, literally.  Kristin and I have both been a little under the weather, but are happy to be back with more details on our trip to NYC!

    So…where should I begin talking about New York City?  Let’s start with something everyone likes to do…eat!  NYC has more varieties and variations of food than anywhere I have ever been.  It’s hard to know where to start because of the sheer volume of restaurants.  I can honestly say that we would have likely not found the number of awesome restaurants had it not been for modern forms of communication that utilize “word of mouth”.  My friend and fellow NYC traveler, Wesley, is a huge fan and user of new media.  He has been telling me for a few years now how useful new media can be in professional and social applications.  Well, if there were ever an example, navigating NYC is it.  Within minutes of asking friends on facebook, twitter, and simple texting we were swamped with suggestions of “must go” restaurants.  It made sifting through the sand and grit to find the gold pretty easy. 

Pop Burger was the first place that we tried in NYC.  We were out getting our bearings in the city and wanted a quick bite to eat. They offer tasty small burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and the usual gang that you would expect as sides at the first floor counter.  The lounge on the second floor offers the same as the first as well as some more options for dinner. The décor in the restaurant is a retro tribute to pop art.   On the first floor there is a simple eating area, but upstairs there is a lounge, pool table, and full bar.  It’s the best of both worlds, somewhere quick to eat or somewhere to chill out at night and grab a snack. 

    Our first night in the city we ended up at Pastis, a French Bistro in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, through a recommendation by a neighbor.  They offer some traditional French dishes along with a few twists on bistro fare.  It is a very open, tightly knit restaurant that gives a true sense of community.  You can make reservations, or take your chances on finding a seat at the community table.  We were lucky enough to be able to walk in and grab seats at the community table.   I would actually recommend this option because of the forced interaction with other people.  You may just end up next to someone that provides you entertainment with your meal.  The food was outstanding. 

    Admittedly, I watch a lot if Travel Channel TV…I love Man v. Food.  Watching Adam do some of the spicy food challenges has inspired me to attempt a few of them myself.   I was interested in checking out Brick Lane Curry House whenever the show visited it to do its Phaal Curry Challenge.  Phaal is a super hot curry that uses the ghost pepper, which is the hottest pepper on the planet.  If you finish the phaal you’ll get a free beer and your picture on the wall.  Not exactly like winning the Superbowl, but a small victory none the less. We hoofed it over there for an early lunch on day two.  I had never been to an Indian restaurant, so I didn’t know what to expect.  The staff was very friendly, and explained what everything was to us. I considered doing the challenge, even went as far as to try the sauce on its own (incendiary), but decided being on foot in NYC after braving that was not gonna be very well thought out.  Kristin spent the rest of lunch telling me I was scared, but I didn’t see her attempting it either.  All of the food was very flavorful and well prepared.  It is worth a go if you want to try something different and spicy. 



    That night after some suspect Chinatown shopping we decided to head into Little Italy and try Angelo’s.  To me this was exactly what I was expecting in a NYC Italian eatery.  The food was rich and flavorful.  The quarters were intimate and dimly lit.  The majority of the staff and patrons all seemed to have been cast by Francis Coppola himself.  It all just felt right…not to mention that they have, without a doubt, the best veal marsala that I have ever eaten. 


We took a subway ride down to the Lower East Side to try Katz’s Deli.  It is a Jewish kosher style delicatessen.  The restaurant has been around since 1888, and was the site of Meg Ryan’s climactic scene in “When Harry Met Sally”.  The restaurant has some of the best pastrami and corned beef that I have had.  The meat punches you square in the mouth with flavor!  House made pickles and fresh cut fries made it outstanding.


We tried out Sushi Samba for dinner on our third night in NYC.  It is a unique restaurant that offers a blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian food and music.  While the food was very good, the volume inside of the restaurant was deafening.  It seemed like the “seen and be seen” crowd was out in full force fronting for the world to see.  Finding humor in this sort of situation though, I enjoyed the dinner and the façade that the tables around us tried to project…good times.

    Throughout the trip there only remained one constant…Coffee.  I don’t want to speak for the entire group, but I know that I have a healthy addiction to caffeine.  I am not sure how many Starbucks there are in NYC, but we visited a good many.  Sometimes you need something to level you out, keep you going, or to get your fix.  Why not make it a legal addictive substance?  We take our coffee pretty seriously around here…

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I took a bite of The Big Apple, and it was surprisingly sweet…

    Everybody’s got their place…the place that you’ve always wanted to go, and the place that despite people’s praises you’ve never cared about seeing. I am from the south. I love the pace of life here, and the simple courtesies associated. I love the outdoors, and getting back to the simpler things. For me vacation means white sand, blue water, and a few cold beers. You can imagine my dismay when I first heard that were we spending our Christmas vacation in New York City. 

    Everybody has heard that “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”…blah, blah.  Maybe you can’t, but I can and did for many years.  My work has taken me around New York a few times, but I have never cared to go into the city.  Now I know where your mind is wandering, “this fella here is just some bumpkin, ain’t never seen nothin'”…Let me assure you, I have been around and have seen plenty.   Like I said, I enjoy keeping my life simple.  I have a beautiful wife, a lazy dog, and a little boat to sneak off on now and again.  Give me a pair of jeans and some broken in boat shoes and I will change my shirt based on the occasion.  You can have the hustle and bustle, bright lights, over population, and pop culture.  I am fully aware of the significance that New York City has in society and commerce. I get the jist of it, which had always seemed like enough for me.

    Having said all that, I was completely wrong about New York City in every sense.  Sure, all of the things that I mentioned that kept me away were there, but they just bring balance to a city that is rich with history and culture.  So…I have to join the masses and say that if you haven’t been to New York City, you should go.  Over the next few blog entries we’re going to hit the high points of the trip.  What we did, where we ate, things worth doing, and things to avoid.  So, hang tight…

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Football Season Ending or Just Heating Up?

    We’re on the road right now heading back from the Charlotte, NC where our NFL fav Carolina Panthers just put the whammy on Brett Favre and the Vikings.  All of the men in the family decided it was high time that we took in a game together, so away we went.  Travel in an out of Bank of America Stadium is relatively easy with plenty of available parking to be had.  After a short walk you are in the thick of a rockin’ tailgate party complete with punt, pass, and kick contest. Feel free to step right up and be embarrassed…

    Inside the stadium is very clean and easy to navigate.  Find your seat and let the energy of the crowd take over, it’s time for some Panthers football!  Every game, win or lose, is a blast, but let a big name team (coughVikingscough) roll into town and get dominated…that stadium crowd feeds the players with their energy!

Like what you hear?

    This kind of experience happens every week around the country.  Primetime running backs and franchise QB’s light up the scoreboards and the eyes of fans every game. You don’t need to be at the stadium to feel and see it, but it is a different experience.  One I would recommend you take in at least once… 

    The Shady Umbrella is always happy to help you find transportation and lodging near your favorite team,  We can even steer you in the right direction to find the perfect seats for your game.

So, Are you ready for some football?

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Nothing wrong with a different perspective now and again…

    In an effort to keep this blog from constantly being written from the eyes of my wife, and to add a different voice to our experiences, I have decided (and been told) to write an entry now and again.  Admittedly, I like to hear myself talk and you, being the captive audience that I imagine, are happy to lend an ear.  

    So…First things first, who am I?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  I am Jason, the fella lucky enough to be married to the founder of The Shady Umbrella, Kristin.  We’ve been married about five years.  I was born and raised in Charleston, SC and the surrounding areas.  I enjoy doing just about anything outdoors, listening to music, and seeing new places with close friends.  Kristin and I have been blessed with great families, a tight circle of friends, and a lazy bulldog.  I am a hard worker, but my that’s not what makes me tick. My professional life just gives me a means to do the things that I enjoy.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and consider steady employment a blessing.  I just don’t live to work, I work to live…

    I have officially been named a pro bono associate of The Shady Umbrella.  I managed to run head first into this title after I told my wife that she needed to keep posting fresh content and not let things become stale.  I don’t have any credentials relative to travel other than I like to go new places, but that’s OK. I am not the travel agent, just a different perspective that more often than not is different than my wife’s. 

     So, if you will indulge me, from time to time I am going to write an entry or two.  I hope you enjoy reading them.


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