Thursday, September 27, 2012

Advice from the Experts: Eating Good in the 'Hood

Arionna (bottom left) managing to make this shaky pyramid look glamorous. How does she do it?
How does one find the words to introduce their very first friend in New York City? There's just so much to say. I met Arionna Shannon-DiPietro (yeah, that's a mouthful!), on the first day at my brand new job in the city. I was enamored by her sense of composure and confidence. She clearly knew what she was doing, maybe more so than our actual boss. She was raised in New York, and she had that NY attitude about her. Maybe 'street smart' would be the appropriate phrase here?

We still laugh about the fact that when we first met, we were polar opposites - very unlikely friends. I'm a chronic apologizer. Someone bumps into me, I apologize. I have no idea why I do this, I just do. But when Ari finds herself in a similar situation, she shoots the offender a look and if they're lucky, she holds her tongue. Our friendship works because when she offends, it feels very natural for me to apologize on her behalf. But on a serious note, she's taught me to stand up for myself, to be vocal about how I feel and to be a firecracker if I have to be - all good things when you live in the heart of New York City and deal with millions of people every single day.

Ari and I in Costa Rica 2010. She came so far to see me!
But beyond the social realm, Ari has taught me a lot about good food. Her family is originally from Sicily. Her grandmother 'Nonna' (who made everything by hand) taught her how to cook, but her skills in the kitchen just come naturally. Ari has the uncanny ability to stop by the farmer's market, pick up a few things on a whim and create a dish that will blow your mind. It's pretty hard to pass up a dinner invitation to her apartment.

I asked Ari to write for you tomorrow because she has a lot to say about food - more specifically, where it comes from. She's a big believer in eating local and supporting sustainable practices. She even has her own blog called Harlem Food Local about cooking and eating in uptown Manhattan. Tomorrow, she's going to give you the inside scoop on a very special place in New York... one of my most favorite places actually!

If you don't live in New York, this still applies to you! Instead of going to the Statue of Liberty or standing in line at the Empire State Building next time you visit, I highly suggest taking a detour and checking out the spot that Ari will reveal tomorrow!

You won't want to miss it!

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