Thursday, October 7, 2010

"I'm a Survivor!"

I believe in karma. If you do good, you will receive many blessings. If you suffer in some way, you will be rewarded. This week has been full of rewards for me. It's hard to believe that I have so much to share from one week alone, so many great things going on. I can't even share it all but I will try to, in several posts.

First of all I would like to say how rewarding it is when I get emails and comments from people who truly enjoy Mission: Food. I have recently gotten some emails from various food establishments and companies telling me how much they've enjoyed reading the blog, and how happy they are that I enjoyed my experiences with them (one of these was from a hugely important and successful restaurant group in NY). Honestly, nothing makes me happier than supporting the places I love, and I'm happy to do it! The fact that my blog is even a glimpse on the radar for some of these places is a huge success for me! I mean every word that I write :)  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Second of all, I am thrilled to announce that a piece I wrote was officially PUBLISHED on the Food Network's blog FN Dish! I briefly discussed a culinary mishap on the season premiere of The Next Iron Chef involving some pork and pineapple. Read my post here!  I hope this will be the first of many, and I've been invited to write more so we'll see what happens next!

Would you believe this news is only the tip of the iceberg? I've had such an eventful week and it's not even over yet!  I am saving some juicy stories for future posts, so you'll have to stay tuned.  For now I will share some of my amazing adventures today...

Gray's Papaya 
402 6th Ave
(between 8th St & 9th St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 260-3532

With three 24-hour locations on the West side of Manhattan, Gray's Papaya is a bit of a New York City institution.  While hot dogs are definitely popular NYC street food, there's something more featured at Gray's Papaya.  The papaya in the name refers to the fruit drinks that are also sold here.  With competitors Papaya King and Papaya Dog, clearly this hot dog-papaya trend is not uncommon.  I've never seen this combination outside of New York, but there's definitely a trend in the city.

Gray's Papaya has been featured quite a bit in pop culture, everywhere from Anthony Bourdain's visit on No Reservations, to films like Nick and Nora's Infinite PlaylistYou've Got Mail, and Fool's Rush In.  Most importantly (obviously), this exact location was featured in Sex and the City!  In the episode "Plus One is the Loneliest Number," after Carrie's book party, she stops by Gray's Papaya for a hot dog, which she receives for free in honor of her book release!  Yes, I am following in Carrie Bradshaw's footsteps (minus the Manolo Blahniks, I'm poor after all).

I didn't get the "recession special," which will get you two hot dogs and a drink for $4.95.  Next time I'm pretty sure I will go for it.  Today I simply got a hot dog ($1.50), all beef frankfurter, lightly topped with sauerkraut and cooked onions.  That's all.  And that's all it needed.  These toppings were more than sufficient for this dog.  Ketchup and mustard need not apply.  Honestly, it was a pretty awesome hot dog.  It had a bit of a snap to it from the casing, and I really enjoyed the texture.  Thank you Carrie, for making me such a wannabe and allowing me to discover Gray's Papaya.  I know where I'll be buying my New York dogs from now on.

Oh, but that wasn't the only fabulous and maybe even "fashionable" adventure I went on today.   In honor of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, fabulous fashion designer Betsey Johnson, a breast cancer survivor for 10 years now, hosted an event at her SoHo store.  I, of course, was in attendance.  Carrie would be too if she was real.  Betsey not only designed some unique items especially for the cause, but a portion of the proceeds are donated to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund.  All the more reason to go shopping, right?  The new line declares, "I'm a Survivor!"  I bought this skull cap, cute huh?

Photo courtesy 

Another special treat at the event included free samples of the special sundae that Serendipity 3, famous for their desserts (oh yeah and that movie named after them), designed in honor of the cancer survivor.  They call it "Betsey Johnson's Survivor Sundae," and it features pink grapefruit campari sorbetto, sour cherry coulis, an edible pink glitter butterfly, pink candy hearts and flowers.  It's available all month long, New Yorkers and New York visitors alike, at Serendipity 3 located at 225 E. 60th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Ave).  While the $15 price tag seems steep, I'm pretty sure it's average for the location, and I know the portion is sizable.  Also, they're only keeping $2 of the proceeds! The rest goes to charity, so stop on by and try it if you get a chance.  I enjoyed my sample, and thought it was light, refreshing, pink, and lovely.  Betsey likes it too!  In addition to the sample sundaes, they were also serving champagne, which I never turn down ;-)

Photo courtesy Facebook

Eventually, Betsey Johnson arrived, awash in pink.  She greeted her fans and supporters by taking photographs with them and eventually heading over to a large gold cube on which she would stand to address those in attendance.  On her way over, she spotted me, wearing my "Save the Tatas" shirt in honor of the event.  "I love your shirt," she exclaimed.  Yeah, little old me got a compliment from the one and only Betsey Johnson.  I told her later when I posed with her for a photograph that I had worn it especially for her.  You can tell by her smile in the photograph that she was touched.  In addition to discussing her history with breast cancer, Betsey introduced the doctor who had helped save her life.  She also introduced a young woman, who I had actually met earlier, who is one of his most recent patients.  She had her surgery two weeks earlier, and I was so inspired meeting her and witnessing her zest for life!  There is life after cancer!  We became very friendly, and she even took this picture of Betsey and me!

The evening ended with a short screening of a film called Ouch! that Geralyn Lucas, a friend of Betsey's and fellow breast cancer survivor, had made.  It was funny, witty, and honest, and depicted herself going through many classically painful situations that women put themselves through (bikini wax, tattoo, botox injections, etc) to prove that they are all much more painful than getting a mammogram.  A very important lesson indeed.  I enjoyed my evening at Betsey's, and loved supporting the cause.  I think all of us know women who have fought this horrible disease (and some of you probably are survivors yourself!), so it's important to do all we can to keep fighting.  Sometimes something as simple as shopping and sundaes can make all the difference :)

Betsey talking to the Serendipity 3 folks about her sundaes.

Introducing the doctor who helped save her life.


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