What I saw (and ate) at the 2017 NYC marathon

 

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Almost halfway there . . . runners closing in on the 20K mark in Greenpoint

For three years now, I’ve compiled a spectator’s guide to the NYC marathon. Sometimes, I even take my own advice. Here’s a belated race report, of sorts, from someone who did not run – but nonetheless spent the entire day (from a little after 7 in the morning until nearly 7 at night) along, or in proximity to, the course.

Pre-race

I love marathon morning. I love it even more now that the first Sunday in November is also the first day of standard time, which lets me bounce out of bed, linger over my coffee while the sky lightens, and still head out at a ridiculously early hour. By 7 am, I had my running shoes on and was heading down to Fourth Avenue for my traditional run-the-course-backwards jog from Park Slope to Bay Ridge. Continue reading

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An eater’s guide to the NYC marathon course – 2017 edition

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It will also make you hungry.

Not running the marathon this year? Aren’t you the lucky one! While the runners are suffering (and oh, how they will be suffering – sure, they’ll be all smiles in Brooklyn, and some will be grinning and pumping their fists as they cross the finish in Central Park, but somewhere between, believe me, they will suffer), you can be eating. And exploring some great neighborhoods. And cheering, too, of course.

2017 is the third edition of this guide. You can find the 2015 and 2016 versions here and here. Rather than repeating myself, I’m letting these two posts stand on their own merits, with minor updates (closings, in particular, are noted). To get a full sense of your options, as well as general race viewing advice (and some great writing, of course), do check out these older posts.

So what’s new this year? Continue reading

I find my Cuban spot

My Cuban Spot

Louie Estrada’s Cuban spot is now mine, too

What does it take to rouse this blog from its slumbers? What it takes, evidently,  is a jolt of sugar and caffeine, followed by a sharp slash of yellow mustard. Sour orange juice, garlic, salt and pork help, too.

Which is to say . . . I had lunch at this counter in Gowanus, and just had to write about it. My initial plan was to include it in my annual NYC marathon course round-up (yes, installment #3 will be arriving soon), but (a) My Cuban Spot is closed on Sundays and (b) it really deserves its own post. (CORRECTION: the restaurant is now *open* on Sundays starting at noon. It’s closed Mondays.) Continue reading

Eating Nostrand Avenue: Taste the Tropics

imageSunny and 63 degrees in the second week of February! On the last such frighteningly unseasonable day, a few weeks ago, I arranged my tempo run (expect a Boston marathon training post soon) so that my cool down would end right around Nostrand and Avenue D. That’s where Taste the Tropics dominates its corner through sheer exuberance and force of personality. Continue reading

Eating Nostrand Avenue: Ital Fusion

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Food for the long haul

With each desperate dispatch from Aleppo; with each revelation about Russian interference in November’s election; with each ethical breach by the Grifter-in-Chief and his progeny; with each horrifying cabinet appointment – the temptation to curl up in a ball grows. Some days, it’s overwhelming.

What helps?

Activism, I would say. Coming together as a community. Supporting one another. Fighting back. (And, for Syria, checks to Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee and the UNRWA.)

I list those things first, because I honestly believe them to be the most important . . . but also, if I’m to be even more honest, because they sound like the sort of thing one should believe to be most important.

Here, at the risk of sounding trivial, are other things that help:

Running.

Looking at birds.

Eating soulful, home-style cooking.

Which brings us to Ital Fusion. Continue reading

Watching the NYC marathon in Brooklyn – 2016 edition

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“What’s good?” – this post tries to answer that

(NOTE: originally published in 2016, this guide has been reviewed and updated for 2017, with closings and changes in hours noted. Stay tuned for the all-new 2017 edition. 2017 IS NOW UP!)

Less than three weeks until race day on November 6!

If you’re running, this is high-anxiety time, when every training sin (workouts missed, long runs bailed on) comes back to haunt you; when thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong run through your mind in a continuous loop (you fall off a stool while reaching for a high shelf and twist your ankle, you miss a connecting flight and are stranded in Atlanta, you contract food poisoning the night before the race); when your interpersonal relationships are strained by this obsession of yours that no one who’s not running quite understands.

But if you’re spectating along the course, as I will be this year, this is a fun time. Instead of visualizing the long climb up the Queensboro Bridge, you can visualize brunch spots; instead of obsessing over those twinges in your left calf, you can obsess over finding the best tacos in Sunset Park; instead of planning your best race, you can plan your best race day.

Last year’s guide was pretty popular, and I’ve gone through and made some quick updates and corrections to keep it useful for 2016. But because it was so much fun to do the research, I’ve been back out there running the marathon’s route through Brooklyn (in nice, manageable segments). In the process, I’ve found a whole bunch of additional places worth checking out.

So, here it is – the all-new 2016 edition of one Brooklyn runner’s totally idiosyncratic guide to where to eat, and what to do, along the NYC marathon course.  Continue reading

Late summer birding update: bird and food pairings

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Pairs well with cafe bombon. (Photo credit: Gus Keri)

I’m all too aware that many of the folks who enjoy my posts on running or food (or both – there’s a substantial overlap between the two) are less than enamored with my birding updates. Try as I might to spread the love I feel for skulking sparrows and soaring seabirds, it’s proving to be a hard sell.

But, you know, I started this 200 Bird Challenge, and I’m going to finish it. With the better part of four months yet to go, and fall migration just beginning, you can count on more birding posts to come.

Sorry about that.

But birders, like runners, need to eat. And so I’m adopting a new approach in this update; if it’s popular, I may extend it to future updates as well. Besides tallying up birds and doing my best to describe them – their beauty, their peculiarities, the threats they face, why non-birders should care about them – I’ll try to couple each sighting with a food review from the same outing. Continue reading