Monday, August 22, 2016

Film Fest Finale: Set Phasers to Fun

Curious about our film selection process for the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America? We'll explain the significance of tonight's pick, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Read up and join us this evening for the main attraction!

While Film Fest tends to draw a crowd regardless of what we feature, occasionally we observe chatter on social media questioning our taste in films:


Aside from our 'classics' rule, that all films shown must be 30 years or older (our first film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, turned 30 this year) there are a variety of considerations that go into choosing what will make it to our big screen.

In the case of tonight's film, we wanted to honor the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. The massive film and television franchise made its start in 1966 with a weekly series on NBC and its fan base has only continued to grow since then. Celebrations are taking place all over the city and we wanted to get in on the action.

This year, the Star Trek Convention returns to New York City, decades after New York played host to the first ever convention in 1972. Starting next week, September 2-4, the Javits Center will be hosting Star Trek: Mission New York with cast photo-ops, original set pieces and props, and all sorts of exclusive trek merchandise. With this much Trek in the city, can you blame us for getting in the spirit?

The Intrepid Museum is hosting a dedicated exhibit: The Starfleet Academy Experience to honor the anniversary, and is featuring special Star Trek–themed programs and tours.

When it comes to why we chose this particular Star Trek film, the answer is simple:



“Khan” is considered by many to be the best movie of the cult sci-fi series. While non-Trekkies might not understand at first, for the initiated, Khan is a legendary film. Many will delight in seeing the Starship Enterprise manned by the old guard with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and George Takei, with Ricardo Montalban playing the villainous Khan.

To celebrate the film as well as our last screening of the 2016 Film Fest season, guests can expect a few surprises on site. Stop by the Bank of America tent to have your photo taken as captain of the Enterprise, and grab some free popcorn and water while you're at it.

If you're looking for another fun pre-show photo-op, the canopy at our neighbor, 7 Bryant Park, bears a striking resemblance to the Starship Enterprise

Prepare to settle in for an interstellar adventure.

Hopefully you can see that we have a ton of great reasons for ending our film fest season with this iconic film. And with beautiful weather this evening, get ready to "set your phasers to fun!"

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America
Mondays, June 20 - August 22
Lawn opens at 5pm
#bpfilmfest

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Patience and Fortitude: A Lion’s Share of Meditative Moments In Bryant Park

This post comes from Qalvy Grainzvolt of the Shinnyo Center for Meditation and Well-Being, our partner for Wednesday morning Walking Meditation.  

“Enlightenment is the result of the constant effort to keep going.”
- Shinjo Ito

Since last summer, I have had the privilege of leading the free walking meditations at Bryant Park. For 28 Wednesdays over the last year-and-a-half and counting, I began looking more deeply into the history of Bryant Park. It is natural to want to know more about the space where I have spent a fair deal of time in teaching.
Through my research, I learned that Bryant Park has gone through many transformations over the years, and that the New York Public Library adjacent to it maintains vast archives 17 feet below ground – possibly located right beneath the ground upon which the walking meditators trod every Wednesday morning! The more I researched the origins of Bryant Park, the more my curiosity expanded into the surrounding venues, too, such as the library and its stunning architecture.

Patience the Lion sits in front of the NYPL, well, patiently. 

Several hours of reading got me wondering what besides nature makes pristine Bryant Park and its architecture ideal for meditation. The two lions (known as the “Library Lions”) gazing over Fifth Avenue have something to say about meditation, I realized.  In the 1930s, Fiorello LaGuardia, the Mayor of New York City, named the two marble lions Patience and Fortitude. Mayor LaGuardia felt that patience and fortitude were the qualities that New Yorkers would need to embody in order to weather the storm of the economic depression of those times. 
These majestic lions do not roar, but one might say that they “speak” to those of us who admire the statues. As I walk past Patience and Fortitude, I am reminded that these qualities are essential for a blossoming meditative practice. Because with patience and fortitude, we have the ability to fill our day with mindful moments. It is the accumulation of these moments that leads to greater awareness, calm and focus.
So, in seeing Patience (seated on the south side) and Fortitude (guarding the north end), the Library Lions become vivid reminders that bringing a mindset of patience and fortitude to any meditative endeavor is a sure-fire way to nourish it.  

Class participants take deep breaths before starting the walking meditation practice.
It is also a reminder that daily life and all its sights and sounds hold opportunities for us to realize something deeper that can help nourish our mental, physical and emotional well-being – anywhere and at any time. 
While we may feel refreshed by the beautiful, calm surroundings of nature, such as in Bryant Park, we should also have a lion’s courage to be open and deeply aware of situations in our daily life. We can be find inspiration in everyday, seemingly routine experiences – even those along the city’s busiest walkways and crossroads.  And those experiences can reveal awakening and wisdom in the most unexpected ways, whether they are marble lions or something less striking.
Walking Meditation
with the Shinnyo Center for Meditation and Well-Being
April 27 - September 28
Wednesdays, 8:30am - 9am
Upper Terrace Gravel, across from the Bryant Park Cafe

Friday, August 12, 2016

Food Trucks on Fifth Review: Empanada Sonata

Starved for some new lunch options in Midtown? We have just the thing for you: Food Trucks on Fifth. Continuing through September 2, Food Trucks on Fifth brings the city’s best trucks to the Fifth Avenue Terrace outside the NYPL on a rotating schedule each week. We’ve got something for everyone, from cheesesteaks to empanadas to vegan donuts. Stay tuned for more reviews coming up on the Blog.

On Thursdays, the park will be filled with the percussive sounds of teeth crunching through crispy dough: Empanada Sonata takes residence on the Fifth Avenue Terrace as part of the Food Trucks on Fifth program. Serving up a lengthy selection of savory empanadas, the truck always has at least a few sweet empanadas on the menu as well.

Two customers ponder the endless pairings of empanadas and sauces.
Each week, Chef Marlyse McAdam experiments with a new special. This particular day, this was Thai Coconut Chicken (with her suggestion of a spicy chili dipping sauce on the side). It was delicious, like taking an authentic Thai curry and wrapping it in crispy fried dough. Paired with her suggested sauce, the sweetness of the coconut milk and the tang of the chili sauce came together to make a fantastic dish.

This Thai Coconut Curry empanada got a fantastic view of Broadway in Bryant Park.
Next, was a classic: a beef empanada. Not only was this thing packed full of ground beef, it had olives, onions, and everything else you'd expect. The dough was fried perfectly, not too thin and not too thick.

This Classic Beef empanada is bursting at the seams.
Stay tuned to the Blog for more reviews of Food Trucks on Fifth.

11am – 3pm daily
Fifth Avenue Terrace, south side
Mondays: Phil's Steaks
Tuesdays: Snowday
Wednesdays: Sweet Chili
Thursdays: Empanada Sonata
Fridays: Cinnamon Snail (8am - 3pm)
Fridays: Snowy's NYC (4pm - 8pm)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Best Seat in the House: Film Fest Vantage Points

Seating at the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America is paramount to the #bpfilmfest experience as a whole. There are pros and cons to every spot. We weigh in on the virtues of various viewing positions. Join us this evening for our screening of High Plains Drifter (1973.)

It's a buyer's market for seating at the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. Every location has some great perks tied in with its respective association to other park amenities and locales. We've gathered what we think are some of the best spots to find yourself in while enjoying a night at the film fest.

Front of the Lawn - Hear us out, because this might sound like an unpopular opinion, but we're talking about the very front of the lawn. For many attendees, #bpfilmfest is a social experience, an excuse to get together with a group of friends and enjoy a night outdoors and experience one of those "Only in New York" rituals. The key here is proximity. By locating yourself towards the front, you're guaranteeing yourself proximity to one of the best parts of film fest: the food. Inherently though, guests oriented towards the front also have proximity to the speakers. If you're a vocal movie-goer (we know you exist) the sound is plentiful and allows you to have light but respectful conversation and commentary without fear of disrupting the viewing experience of your neighbors.

Whether it's the bistro chairs on the gravel or blankets at the very edge, our front seats aren't pariahs like standard movie theaters.


Side Gravel Chairs - The chairs on the gravel adjacent to the lawn are the box seats of film fest. Not only do you get the ultimate comfort of an actual seat, but you can pair these with our bistro-tables for an upgraded picnic experience. We've seen guests bring table clothes and whole bone china tea sets to adorn their stations. If you're tall like this blog writer, you can escape the shame of blocking someone else's view with a seat abutting the lawn balustrades. There's also the advantage of multilateral escape movement either back towards the bathroom and front to the food. Pro-tip: bring a seat cushion or fashion one out of blankets, so our bistro chairs are still comfortable when the final credits roll.

Room to stretch your legs, easy access out, the sides have a lot to offer.

Back of the Lawn - While some of our most popular movie nights see the lawn entirely covered in a sea of blankets, oftentimes, the rear of the lawn is far less dense than other parts. This however doesn't mean it's any less attractive; in fact, some of our lawn rushers prefer to swoop in from behind to stake out this uncharted territory. The back is where the real party is at! It's best for accommodating larger groups looking to sprawl out with many blankets and those who want to lay out with someone special. For those who have early evening obligations and can't make it when the lawn opens to stake out a spot, guests can still find a coveted lawn spot towards the back up until sunset when the show starts. You've also got the wonderful smell from the Lord & Taylor Rose Garden wafting in as well as proximity to our award winning bathrooms.

You can see the distribution of blankets during our July 4th showing of Top Gun.

Middle Center - Our list wouldn't be complete without the most obvious choice of all. The coveted Middle Center spots are the first choice for lawn rushers for good reason: they're the center of the universe. If you manage to stake out one of these spots, you can expect the most ergonomic neck-angle for viewing as well as the camaraderie that abounds in events of this size. If it's one of these spots you covet, be prepared for the long haul. Right when the lawn opens at 5pm, lawn rushers jolt to claim these prime seats and must wait hours until sunset to see a return on their investment. The most crafty among them plan their nights around this and bring picnics, snacks, and games to kill the time. You have to do this once to get the full #bpfilmfest experience.

Be prepared to wait if you want one of these spots.

And while we can't attest to the practicality of this one, we've heard reports of some movie-goers hunkering down with a spot on the rooftop garden of the Bryant Park Grill. A veritable panopticon, in theory, the roof guarantees a vantage not only of the screen, but people watching of the crowd itself, all while relaxing in the serene garden setting with table service. If you try this let us know and be sure to tip your server well!

Regardless of where you sit, there's always a good time to be had at Film Fest. On-screen captioning and our robust speaker system ensure optimal enjoyment all around. See you there!


HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America
Mondays, June 20 - August 22
Lawn opens at 5pm
#bpfilmfest

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Food Trucks on Fifth Review: Sweet Chili

Starved for some new lunch options in Midtown? We have just the thing for you: Food Trucks on Fifth. Continuing through September 2, Food Trucks on Fifth brings the city’s best trucks to the Fifth Avenue Terrace outside the NYPL on a rotating schedule each week. We’ve got something for everyone, from cheesesteaks to empanadas to vegan donuts. Stay tuned for more reviews coming up on the Blog.

Sweet Chili, a “thaietnamese” truck, is owned and run by Top Chef Season 4 finalist Lisa Fernandes. Every dish on the menu tells a story – for instance, the miso glaze used on her tofu is the sauce that won her a challenge in Top Chef. 

A smiling chili pepper looks on as Chef Lisa takes orders.

The menu is customizable, allowing you to choose your protein and then a side salad to finish off the platter.

We tried out the Heavenly Beef with Bean Sprout Salad as well as the Honey Chili Pork with Green Mango Salad, both served over a heaping serving of rice. We could pick our favorite of the two because both were delicious – the perfect amount of spice, and a great deal for only $10 per platter. Chef Lisa uses a traditional Thai technique to cook beef, and it tasted better than any run-of-the-mill Thai beef you might find elsewhere. The bean sprouts added a refreshing crunch to the beef's heat. Meanwhile, the perfectly charred pork was a yin-yang of crispy and unctuous, and the papaya salad once again supplied a refreshing crunch.

Honey Chili Pork with Mango Salad
Heavenly Beef with Been Sprout Salad























We couldn't decide which meal we liked better, so you'll have to try both and decide for yourself!

Stay tuned to the Blog for more reviews of Food Trucks on Fifth.

11am – 3pm daily
Fifth Avenue Terrace, south side

Mondays: Phil's Steaks
Tuesdays: Snowday
Wednesdays: Sweet Chili
Thursdays: Empanada Sonata
Fridays: Cinnamon Snail (8am - 3pm)
Fridays: Snowy's NYC (4pm - 8pm)


Monday, August 1, 2016

Instagram Roundup at the Silver Screen

Here's what people are 'gramming at the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America; join us this evening for our screening of Harvey (1950).

New York summer evenings are the perfect time to perfect your photography skills. At the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, you have all the time and subject matter you could want, as you wait for dusk, and the screening to start. We scanned Instagram for some of our favorite 'grams taken at the Film Festival. Use hashtag #bpfilmfest and maybe we'll feature your photo! 

From @eukarolyi

Magical night in #newyork ❤️🗽#lovethiscity #summertime #bryantpark#bpfilmfest #nyc


From @chad_c:


From @mjshortcake

Picnic and a movie!#bpfilmfest #nyc #wine #friends #cheese#traderjoes #pringles


From @jennylsaldana:
#ltsummerflicks#mondaymoviemadnesswithpbandj@patbrownshow #bpfilmfest #summer#summertime #summernights#unveranoennuevayork
HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America
Mondays, June 20 - August 22
Lawn opens at 5pm
#bpfilmfest

Friday, July 29, 2016

Food Trucks on Fifth Review: Snowday

Starved for some new lunch options in Midtown? We have just the thing for you: Food Trucks on Fifth. Continuing through September 2, Food Trucks on Fifth brings the city’s best trucks to the Fifth Avenue Terrace outside the NYPL on a rotating schedule each week. We’ve got something for everyone, from cheesesteaks to empanadas to vegan donuts. Stay tuned for more reviews coming up on the blog.
Tuesdays will be your new favorite day of the week. On Tuesdays, Snowday Food Truck, winner of the 2015 Vendy Cup and 2014 Vendy Rookie of the Year, joins us on Fifth Avenue. The truck is run by Drive Change, a non-profit that trains and employs formerly incarcerated youth. Besides being a “vehicle for social justice” and offering youth hands-on experience and leadership training, the truck serves up delicious and sustainable “farm-to-truck food.”
Snowday draws a curious crowd.
First, we tried out the Maple Grilled Cheese, served on sourdough with cheddar. We elected to add on the peach relish at the suggestion of the staff. The sandwich was delicious, perfectly crispy on the outside with warm melted cheese inside. The peach and maple combine to make the sandwich sweet, but not overly so. And, at only $7, this sandwich was about as cost-effective as you can get in Midtown.
Perfectly ripe peaches took this sammy to a whole other level.

Next, we ordered the Chicharron Pollo. Served on a bed of greens and a side of lemony sauce, the chicken comes in wing and breast form. This dish really packed a punch for only $8.

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. What more could you ask for in a chicken leg?

Mondays: Phil's Steaks
Tuesdays: Snowday
Wednesdays: Sweet Chili
Thursdays: Empanada Sonata
Fridays: Cinnamon Snail

11am – 3pm daily*
Fifth Avenue Terrace, south side
*Fridays, 8am – 3pm