The 12 Things You Must Do In NYC On 12/12/12

Whether you think today is magically auspicious or a reminder that the clock’s quickly-a-tickin’ to Dec. 21st doomsday, the greatest takeaway is this: we must seize the day. So get out there and make today your best. Make it amazing. It just might be your last…

1. Breakfast at Clinton St. Baking Company: since it’s a weekday, the line is shorter than ever, bringing you that much closer to ordering their signature blueberry pancakes and sugar-cured bacon, and being lifted to the celestial heaven that is fluffy pancakes.

2. Put on a sweater and puffy jacket, rent a bike from the Waterfront Bike Shop, and ride across the Brooklyn Bridge and into DUMBO’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is no better view of this sparkling gem of a city than on that 129-year-old bridge and from that grassy park.

3. Sweeten the day with the city’s best cupcakes at Sweet Revenge. Today’s specialty offering is the eggnog cupcake with spiced cream cheese frosting, though the major must-get is their signature namesake treat: the Sweet Revenge with peanut butter cake, ganache center, and peanut butter fudge frosting.

4. Drink the day away at Chelsea Brewing Company and frolic drunkenly along the Hudson River. End your tipsy journey with mouthfuls of the giant peanut butter and blackberry jam doughnut and carrot cake doughnut at Chelsea’s Doughnut Plant.

5. Visit West Garden Spa for an “afternoon delight” if ya know what I mean, guys.

6. Rent that helicopter and soar across NYC like a bird. A 15-minute ride above the Statue of Liberty is just $169, which is what you’d pay anyway for dinner-and-drinks-for-two at West Village haven of deliciousness: Perilla.

7. Go ice skating in the heart of Central Park at Wollman Skating Rink, and wrap your hands around a steaming, frothy cup of hot chocolate from nearby  Jacques Torres at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

8. Have a tea party with all of your best friends at English cottage-inspired Tea & Sympathy, and go nuts over their scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam, kettles of vanilla mint tea, welsh rarebit, and chicken pot pie.

9. Watch the city melt into dark at sunset from the Top of the Rock observation deck.

10. When 5pm hits, head straight to cocktail favorite Mother’s Ruin for their spicy Brazilian coconut cocktail and devour their bready, cheesy, greasy, beautiful grilled cheese.

11. Finally talk to that adorable person you always see on the subway. Flirt, ask them out, make a move.

12. Because no one wants to go back to their apartment (and roommate), end the night in luxury at the Bowery Hotel

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Meatopia 2011: Being Bad Felt So Good

As I mentioned last week, the Meatopia 2011 festival took over Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, bringing together nearly 50 chefs from across the country to grill up some of the most amazing cuts of meat a carnivore could dream of. I put on my journalist bib and showed up at Pier 5 just as the crowds started to gather. Within an hour, I had all but eaten my body weight in beef, pork, duck, and a few meats I didn’t even take the time to identify. The whole experience was amazing, and made all the better by the fact that it felt more than a little bit wrong.

What’s so wrong about a meat-fest? There’s the health angle, of course. The experts will tell you that you’ll live longer if you skip the meat and snack on leaves and twigs and such. There’s the eco angle, which loves to point out just how awful cow burps are for the atmosphere and industrial feed lots are for the environment. And there’s the animal rights angle, which isn’t too keen on the wholesale slaughter of our four-legged friends.

All valid points. And yet once I arrived with Eric, my Nebraska-raised, meat-loving brother-in-law, we put all of that out of our minds and went crack-house crazy on the roasting flesh. It was sublime. In a strange way, it felt like we’d wandered into some kind of open-air drug market, with sweet-swelling smoke wafting around us, music and loud voices, interesting characters from all over, and a general air of wanton overindulgence. Scenes like this are usually illegal.

Now, I didn’t attend Meatopia last year, but I’ve heard that it wasn’t such a huge success, with long lines, food shortages, and overcrowding on the ferries (it was held on Governor’s Island). We encountered no such problems at Meatopia 2011, where there was meat aplenty, rivers of Amstel Light and Fiji Water (two of the event’s sponsors, along with Whole Foods), and a series of events – such as a butcher contest – that gave us a reason to stop stuffing our faces for a moment to learn something about the meat industry.

But most notably, there was a whole steer being roasted right before our eyes, head and all (see above). A team from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors of North Bergen, New Jersey began the long, fascinating process more than 12 hours before the event, so the nearly 1,000-pound beast would be juicy and delicious by the time we arrived. One of the chefs told me they had to use a forklift to move the steer carcass from the roaster to the open-air barbecue, where it was clearly the star of the show. I’d never seen anything like it, and while it’s a bit jarring to see your lunch staring back at you, it’s kind of important to face the reality of meat eating. Also, it was delicious.

And the reality isn’t all that bad. Meatopia touted the fact that it uses only cruelty-free meats, which means the animals have some room to prance around and be happy before they’re led to the abattoir. Better than nothing, I guess. But I can’t say I was troubled by ethical issues while there. We just went from meat station to meat station, scarfing down various cuts and talking to the chefs and farmers, dropping in to the VIP tent at regular intervals for more Amstel Light before doing it all again. If an afternoon of barbecue and beer is wrong, I don’t want to be right.