NYU Alumni 
Magazine Spring 2011

the insider

Best of New York

NYU faculty, staff, and alumni Offer up their Favorites

by Renée Alfuso / CAS ’06

Brace yourself for heart-pounding thrills in Brooklyn, then wind down with some meditative yoga

Summer Fling

There are plenty of ways to cool off at Coney Island (frozen drinks, a dip in the ocean), but nothing lets beachgoers feel the wind in their hair like the new Luna Park. The seaside amusement park debuted last year—attracting over 400,000 visitors who took more than 1.7 million rides—and reopened in April with even more daring roller coasters in the appropriately named Scream Zone. NYU Alumni Magazine sent courageous office intern Sahaiya Abudu (TSOA ’11) to test the wild rides, and threw in some cotton candy to sweeten the deal. “I expected it would just be like a small, local carnival with shaky rides,” she says, “but it wasn’t. They were stable, so I didn’t feel like I was going to fall off.” Of the 23 attractions, her top pick was the Tickler, a spinning coaster with curves and drops that had Abudu so tickled she took a second turn. She also recommends the towering Brooklyn Flyer, which swings riders across the sky at 100 feet and offers breathtaking views over the water. But true thrill seekers, Abudu says, should try the one-of-a-kind Air Race—in which mock propeller planes barrel along at extreme speeds, swinging out sideways and upside down. Luna also offers attractions for kids across its relatively small six acres, which Abudu says makes it more accommodating. “When you go to Six Flags or Disneyland, it’s a huge all-day thing,” she explains. “But this you could easily tackle in a couple of hours.” Just be sure to hold off on lunch at Nathan’s Famous until after the rides.

1000 Surf Avenue (at West 10th Street) in Brooklyn, 718-373-5862

Meals on the Move

These days, the ubiquitous hot dog and pretzel street carts have serious gourmet competition—food trucks outfitted with mobile kitchens now roam the city with surprisingly upscale menus. Take, for example, Dessert Truck, started by a former pastry chef at Le Cirque, and its vanilla crème brûlée or chocolate bread pudding with bacon custard sauce. There’s also the Mediterranean-inspired Bistro Truck, run by a Morocco native who doles out grass-fed beef burgers and roasted lamb over couscous. Instead of angling for reservations, hungry patrons simply track a truck’s location online. “It brings variety to areas that aren’t inundated with restaurants, like Washington Square Park,” says chef Jeramie Garlick, who oversees all of NYU’s dining halls. Before joining the university in 2007, Garlick studied at a prestigious culinary school in France, worked as a personal cook for former President Ronald Reagan, and earned the title of Certified Master Chef, which he shares with only 65 others in the world. The well-traveled Brit says that for “a true European treat,” his hands-down favorite food truck is Wafels & Dinges, run by Thomas DeGeest, who defeated celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a waffle challenge on Food Network’s Throwdown! DeGeest’s creations come in two varieties—the dense and chewy Liège or the light and crispy Brussels—and are topped with a variety of dinges (Flemish for toppings). But the key ingredient is Belgian-imported pearl sugar, which bursts and caramelizes in the iron. For lunch, try a savory BBQ pulled-pork waffle, or for dessert there’s a waffle-and-ice-cream sandwich. “It’s exactly as I remember tasting it in Belgium,” Garlick says. “I was very impressed because it’s made to a specific European recipe.”

To find the Wafels & Dinges truck,
call the hotline at 866-429-7329
or check twitter.com/waffletruck

Strike a Pose

This city never slows down, but everyone needs a break from the frenzied pace. For a healthy way to refresh the mind and body, many enlightened New Yorkers turn to yoga. “It’s a great antidote to stress,” says Lauren Ginsberg (SSSW ’96), a counselor at NYU’s Student Health Center and a certified yoga instructor. “We have so many distractions and are so externally focused, but it helps us practice being present in the moment.” Still, choosing a studio to suit one’s personal needs can be overwhelming, so Ginsberg suggests the New York Yoga PassBook, which offers more than 425 free class visits through the American Health and Fitness Alliance. One of the many studios included is YogaWorks—a national chain that offers perks such as saunas and tea stations. Those looking for a more traditional studio can try the ashram and teaching center Integral Yoga Institute, which has been a West Village staple of spirituality since 1970. But Ginsberg’s favorite remains OM yoga Center, where she trained as an instructor. OM was named the best yoga for beginners by New York magazine and voted one of the top 25 studios in the world by Travel & Leisure. Budding yogis can stock up on clothing and equipment in the OM boutique, and ease in with workshops such as “brand-new beginners.” Specialized classes include “yoga express” for those on the go and weekly sessions for female cancer survivors. (There’s also a discount on classes for NYU students and faculty.) Still, Ginsberg says that the best way to select a studio is to go on instinct rather than recommendation: “Take some time to shop around and find a place that’s going to be a right fit. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, go to a few and see what resonates for you.”

826 Broadway (at 12th Street), 212-254-9642;

Editors’ Pick: Flea Spree

While doing research—and a bit of shopping—at the sprawling outdoor market just across the East River, this reporter stumbled upon a vintage ship in a bottle, a prize in the Brooklyn Flea’s weekly “finders/keepers” scavenger hunt. The contest is one of many little touches that elevate “the Flea,” as it’s affectionately known, from typical market to weekend destination. Co-founded in 2008 by lifelong New Yorker Jonathan Butler (STERN ’98), the Flea has already become an attraction for locals despite its young age, averaging more than 10,000 visitors each weekend. Butler was a fan of the Chelsea markets before they were replaced by condos and thought it a “no-brainer” that Brooklyn should have one of its own. “I’m a bit of a cheapskate to start with, but I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the serendipity in that you never know what you’re going to find,” he explains. With around 150 vendors that change weekly, there are plenty of treasures to be discovered—from moss terrariums to antique furniture, vintage clothing to apartment-size beer-brewing kits. But one of the biggest draws—because this is Brooklyn, after all—is the food: artisanal pickles, Asian hot dogs, homemade sodas and popsicles, Salvadoran pupusas, and brick-oven pizza all tempt shoppers away from the wares. The most popular vendor is the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which draws lines that sometimes require a two-hour wait for its live crustaceans and lobster rolls fresh from Maine. The Flea moves indoors for winter, but this spring, shoppers can again enjoy the fresh air on Saturdays in Fort Greene and along the Williamsburg waterfront on Sundays. The market has created such a sense of community that the Municipal Art Society and the Citizens Union have bestowed awards for its use of public space. Says Butler: “It’s kind of evolved to serve as a modern-day town square.”

176 Lafayette Avenue near Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene (Saturdays) and East River btw. North Sixth and Seventh streets in Williamsburg (Sundays);

photos from top: courtesy central amusement international; courtesy wafels & dinges; courtesy om yoga center; © john chance cotti