New York City Restaurant Week extended ... Guest blog from Sedona, Arizona
Good news for foodies. Or anyone who simply likes to eat and save a couple of those puny American dollars. NYC & Company, New York City's marketing, tourism and partnership organization, yesterday announced that NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2011 will be extended from July 25 to September 5 and with 200 participating restaurants. The extension will take place Monday through Friday; Saturdays are excluded and Sundays are optional.
New York is far more affordable than some Canadians think. Any big city has a wealth of options, and the secret often is simply to wander about and get away from the usual tourist spots such as Times Square or Tribeca. I found a great little place for Thai food lunches a couple years ago right near the Pod Hotel on 51st St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave., and I generally find that anywhere over in those more residential areas - including the Upper West Side - have better deals as they're geared to locals and not for tourists.
There also are some pretty good deals in lower Manhattan, especially on the weekend when the big financial people are playing tennis and sipping martinis in the Hamptons.
LINDA BARNARD IN SEDONA
Over to Star Entertainment reporter/editor Linda Barnard, who's sweating up a storm but having fun down in Sedona, Arizona.
Sedona doesn't creep up on you. You're diving along the highway and wham! - the red rocks start to appear. Massive, otherworldly, they look like gigantic sculpture. No wonder locals have given them nicknames (pet rocks, perhaps?) based on what they look like: coffee pot, Snoopy, shipwreck. We spent the first half-day here exploring the small town, which is quaint in spots - I loved the movie museum with photos of all the films shot here in the 1930s-1970s.
But it's also very touristy - lots of t-shirt shops and gee gaws and plenty of business related to the spiritual nature of the place. There is geographical proof that vortexes occur here, the swirling "energy" coming from electro-magnetic fields deep in the earth. Science fact, but it's also been embraced by the new agers with a vengeance. More on our personal vortexation later.
We're staying at the Hotel Amara, a boutique place off the main street with the most comfy bed I have ever slept in. Maybe it's on a vortex.
Dinner was at an unremarkable Tex-Mex roadhouse joint recommended by the bellman at the hotel. But we were tired enough that it did the trick. Yes, it's hot here - and a dry heat, which makes no bloody difference. The temps are around 37C but it's cooler at night and a damn sight cooler than Toronto. Up early thanks to the time difference, we hiked for a couple of hours at Cathedral Rock. We drank gallons of water. Even at 9 a.m., the sun was very strong. I bathed in 60 SPF before we set out. A second hike around the back of the rock and down to a river wasn't as inspiring as the massive red rock face, but still lovely. Then we headed over to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a simple and stunning work of architecture done in the 1950s which seems to grow from the rock. I took a lot of photos. My mate commented we now have a great number of pictures of rocks.
Back in town, it was National Day of the Cowboy and Sedona was full of spurs that jingle jangle jingle. And purple sage. Which fits since Zane Grey used to live here. The barbecue competition was a great opportunity to taste good pig, but it was the brisket that won the day for us. Tender, with a great smoke ring and full of flavour. Yummy. At 6 p.m. we headed out on a jeep tour which took us along the Schnebly Trail (named for the town's founder - daddy of Sedona). The bumpy and dusty trail was originally the wagon route from Sedona to Flagstaff and I can't imagine a more uncomfortable trip. Even with modern suspension, we left a couple of kidneys at the roadside. Our guide was knowledgeable and fun and made lots of stops of photos. We went with Arizona Jeep Safari Tours and I'd recommend it - $55 each for 2 hours was a very good deal. We made it to the top of the canyon at the Mogollon Rim - up about 2,000 feet - just in time for sunset.