Cuban Love in East Harlem

One thing New Yorkers never run out of is ethnicities to choose from for dinner. From Eritrean Injera to Nepalese Chutney, Brazilian Chorizo, and even Canadian Poutine, you can have a taste of any part of the world. El Barrio, known to most as Spanish Harlem, boasts a treasure trove of hidden culinary gems. If you are in the mood for some Cuban charm, Amor Cubano, on 111th and 3rd Avenue, offers “el mejor Brunch de Spanish Harlem”, the best brunch of El Barrio. Now I didn’t go for Brunch, but what they failed to boast was the group of live latin-jazz performers playing airs reminiscent of Guaracha and the Buena Vista Social Club. Here is a small taste… Disfruta!





The Never Ending Gift

Oven-baked, filled with raisins, glazed orange peels,pockets of lemon cream, soft and delicious, and at times, NUTTY! ‘Tis the season for Panettone as soon as Thanksgiving leftovers leave the fridge.

Bring your aunt Wilma a holiday gift that will sit under the Christmas tree until the garbage man hauls it away. It is a sad reality: a gift widely given, but one that is not always received so eagerly. Just the other day I watched a Panettone sit at a holiday party in all of its dry-fruited glory. While smiles were exchanged and empty social gestures of thanks were made for this wonderful contribution, pieces of the cake were slowly torn off. Meanwhile, you mumble under your breath that you’d just rather have the cannolis.

Its not quite fruit cake, even though technically, it is- but it’s much more than just a dessert. Gifts and greetings are almost as abundant as the number of Panettone boxes that you can find in store-front after store-front in New York City. Pastel pink, yellow, blue, even brown, there are many different varieties of this dessert.
The city is filled with wonderful baked goods, and the Panettone is one that is very hit or miss despite their ubiquity. But the fact is that people buy them because it looks like a gift ready to be given. Every year, thousands of these red ribboned boxes fly off the shelf because you know anyone will be happy to receive a colorful and sweet gift – even if it means having dry candied orange peels in one’s coffee.

The popular dessert originally from Milan, Italy is enjoyed worldwide and can be found almost everywhere here in New York. See the map below for places Ive been to and recommend for good Panettone. The price for one cake ranges between $2.99 and upwards of $20. But from authentic pastry shops in the Bronx to midtown stores like Jack’s 99c Store in Manhattan, you can be sure to find a version of this traditional holiday dessert.


View Panettone in NYC in a larger map

High School Seniors and the Costs of College Prep

At this time of year, families start to get nervous about their high school senior’s college application status. Many choose to improve their chances at being admitted by applying Early Decision, but another reason is to avoid having to pay so many other fees and costs that come with applying to more than 7 or 8 schools. Along with the financial costs that come with applying to college, there is high pressure to fulfill expectations- the family’s, and the applicant’s.

The Late-Night Marathon Runners

Every year, rain or shine, and sometimes in freezing November weather, the ING New York City Marathon attracts people from around the world to run through the five boroughs of. Every year, day or night, the locals come out in support of the runners, even for those who finish late, sometimes late into the night, and stand on sidewalks littered with paper Gatorade cups and squashed Gu packs. Every year, runners are cheered on even well after 8 hours of an arduous physical journey, determined to reach the finish line.

The sound of shoes with 24 more miles on them-


A little bit left to go for the Achilles Team-


“Welcome to Central Park”-


Almost going the wrong way-

Jobs, the Economy and YOU

In a recent survey on how people have been affected by the economy’s recent decline and dismal job prospects, some suspicions were confirmed, and some surprising answers were given by those surveyed.

Out of 27 people who answered the survey, 19 were between te ages of 16 and 25, and 8 were aged 26 to 35. Of these, only 1 person was out of school and looking for a job, and only 1 other was out of school and not looking for a job.

Of the 27 people, 63% claim to have been previously unemployed, and 70% know someone who is or who has been unemployed. Two rather significant numbers for 2011.

One basic and telling question yielded a rather overwhelming response:

Next up, one thing is certain- the majority of people are concerned that they won’t be able to find a job:

Something rather shocking was answered in the following graph:

The above graph might lead one to wonder: If people don’t have jobs, and especially if they must support themselves. what else are they doing?

This was partly addressed in one of the survey takers’ comments: “Under the current job market crisis, I’d rather get a “low-level” job than get into a school as an alternative.”

The graph below demonstrates an overwhelming desire to find a job, either to replace a current job or find a new one altogether.

To look at the previous graph a bit more closely, it should be noted that out of the 27 people who answered this question, 4 hold part time jobs and 6 hold full time jobs. This totals to 10 of 27- over a third of survey takers who will look for a job despite being currently employed to a certain degree.

In addition to answering the required multiple choice questions, some chose to provide comments on topics that weren’t addressed by the questions. Here are some of the insightful and candid thoughts that were submitted:

“I think that job prospects will definitely get better, as the future is always bound to get better. I’m just not certain they’ll get better fast enough for me!”

“My biggest fear is not that I won’t find a job, as was my concern after getting my undergraduate degree, but that I won’t get the kind of job I hoped a graduate degree would help me find. My last job did not offer very good health insurance, I worked way too many hours with a very small newspaper staff and I wasn’t able to cover a lot of complicated in-depth stories. If I don’t find a job that paid more and gave better vacation time, I will be pretty disappointed. However, if it were a very satisfying job at a well respected newspaper or magazine I might not mind those drawbacks.”

“The state of the economy, and my sector–journalism–in particular, makes me more likely to focus on the more profitable specializations, like business and economics.”

“I think being in school is almost as stressful as being unemployed. It feels safer because you don’t have to deal with being rejected or ignored by employers but you still feel uneasy because you don’t actually know if the money you invest in your education will actually help you find work you couldn’t have found beforehand.”

Finally, a question which served as a reminder of the times we live in: “Will robots take my job?”



NB: Graphs courtesy of Google Forms


Retailers Target Bargain Shopping During Economic Pressures

…And yet and the free market reigns king

Almost two weeks ago, Target teamed up with Italian luxury designer Missoni for a launch of high quality, high fashion, and highly coveted items at low prices the retail giant is best known for.

It happened to be the best idea since H&M paired up with brands like Sonia Rykiel and Madonna, but resulted in one of the most notorious business fails this year when Target ran out of items all too soon due to the sheer volume of unexpected demand. See below for Target’s statement immediately following the chaos:

But then, the individual consumer decided to outsmart the two retail tycoons, and circumvent the rules of regulated prices thanks to sites like e-Bay, Craigslist, and others. Here’s an example of a Missoni Bike being solde by Target for $399, which is going for, believe it, a whopping $1,380:

This bike isn’t the only example of sold out items consumers have decided to monopolize and put to good use after buying them. An Oklahoma woman decided to sell these boots and use the money she hopes to collect towards her youngest daughter’s college fund.

It isn’t an abnormal reaction to wonder what a college fund and rain boots could possibly have to do with each other, but the sum of $31,000 might help dispel any further questions.

This raises the question of how much security retailers like Target and Missoni actually have, and the same goes for any other company that aims to sell products and keep their base of avid consumers from losing interest. Does the public gain control of products once you, the retailer, stop providing the supply? Or do the scarce amounts simply up the value and give the brand a boost? In this case, it could be argued that Target lost control over its merchandise because it didn’t provide enough of it, leaving consumers to fight amongst themselves for access to the coveted pieces.

The outcry in response to the massive logistical fail was of similar epic proportions. Of the thousands of tweets and other ways that people bemoaned Target’s shortcoming, AndyWangNY’s picture and commentary seemed to reflect a general consensus.


Maybe more retailers should consider producing only limited amounts of their products and testing the effects on their business and reputation…