Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City + Los Angeles dining scenes through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!



Search this site
My delicious calendar
Contributions & affiliations

Tabelog Reviewer TheLunchBelle




Need more streamlined advice?  Shoot me an email with your specific requests:  Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.

Entries in Seasonal guides & trends (15)


This self-professed travel snob went glamping...and LOVED it!

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." J. Muir


If there's one thing that my friends know about me, besides the obvious (like how much I love to eat/drink, tell jokes, travel and write), it's the fact that I would rather lick a dirty toilet seat than go camping.  Hell, I can barely bring myself to use a unisex bathroom at a bar!     

About a year ago, I received some intel on Ithaca by Firelight Camps, a "glamp" site located in upstate New York.  Not having a clue what "glamping" was or how it differed from, gasp, traditional "camping," I couldn't get on their website quickly enough.  Here's what I learned:

"For those not familiar, Glamping is a term derived from the two words 'glamorous camping.'  Glamping is also referred to as 'glam camping,' 'lux camping,' 'luxury camping' and many other similar phrases.  Regardless of the specific terminology, the idea is the same; glamping brings the world of luxury into nature in the most seamless way possible.  Glamping has origins in Africa and Thailand, but is relatively new to the U.S. and Europe.  Most people want the feeling of falling asleep under the stars and being in nature without having to sleep on rocks to do it.  Glamping allows for just that.  It lets guests to be one with nature, while still enjoying the luxury of a bed and pre-pitched tent."

The more I read about Ithaca by Firelight Camps and its owners, Emma and Bobby, the further I was intrigued.  Having fallen in love in undergrad, the young couple studied abroad together and learned more about the their respective trades: Business for him and hospitality for her.  During his time in the Peace Corps, Bobby taught micro enterprise and entrepreneurship courses to high school students and women in Nicaragua while Emma honed in on her love for cooking, rock climbing, and eco-friendly tourism.  The two brought their passions together and started their first hotel and café, La Buena Onda, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  There, they partnered with local coffee cooperatives, a chocolate factory, artisan groups, and outdoor adventure guides to bring eco-tourism activities to their guests.  While they thoroughly enjoyed their time in Latin America, the couple returned to the states with the intention of creating a new hotel that would have an impact closer to home.  After receiving his MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell, Bobby continued to travel overseas to learn more about the eco-tourism industry.  Meanwhile, Emma worked with ConTENTment Camping at the Bonaroo Music Festival (to launch a village of glamping tents for the festival goers) and started a food blog.  She even became a top finalist on the "Food Network Star!"  It was also at this time when the business plan for Firelight Camps was created...

"We thought the Finger Lakes would be the perfect place to launch Firelight Camps," said Emma.  In 2014, Wine Enthusiast voted New York State "Wine Region of the Year," with the Finger Lakes being a major contributor. "Our community is so supportive of young entrepreneurs, and there was a wealth of knowledge and resources here to help us build the camp. The Finger Lakes is one of the oldest and most vibrant food and farming regions in the country, and is quickly becoming known as an agritourism destination.  It's also home to an astonishing number of waterfalls and lakes, which is a huge attraction for outdoor lovers."


In the beginning of this past summer, I booked a single night's stay at Firelight Camps for the second week of October.  I would be in Manhattan the weekend prior for one of my dearest friend's weddings, so it only made sense to make my way upstate thereafter for some R&R.

On Tuesday morning, October 6th, I flew to Syracuse from NYC.  Upon arrival, I rented a car and made the 45-minute drive to Ithaca.  The scenery along the way was absolutely breathtaking; aside from the region's inherent natural beauty, the potpourri of fall colors - in the form of leaves and produce - was everything that I could have hoped for and more.

Dedrick's Farm Market - Dryden, NYThe grounds of La TourelleWhen GPS announced that I had "arrived" at my destination (Firelight Camps), I was both perplexed and a bit relieved to pull up to a full-service hotel/spa and restaurant.  Where the heck was I?  As I made my way further down the drive, I saw a sign for the Camp and continued just beyond the hotel and restaurant, down a little hill, and on to a grassy clearing with a central "tent."

Welcome!I pulled my rental car off to the side of the gravel road and made my way in to the "lobby tent," where I received a warm greeting from the staff and a quick orientation, if you will.  

...I was particularly thrilled to learn that "Happy hour is from 5-6PM when we spark the evening campire and bar remains open until 11PM."  Woohoo! 

Upon making my way over to my tent, I noticed the al-fresco communal hangout area just off the lobby, complete with a fire pit, an assortment of seating options, and liberally strung twinkle-lights.  

Fun to be had by the campfire!The staff told me that I could park my car outside of my tent to unload my suitcases, but that I would then have to parking just up the short hill near the facilities.  Yep, that's right, folks, I said "facilities."  Would they be unisex?  Clean?  Small?  Would there be hot enough waterWould there be hot water at all?  I didn't bring my own towels; would I have to dry myself off with the shirt on my back?  Would there be previous bather's hair and other remnants left behind?  Oh, dear god!!!!!!!!  

Path leading up to my tentMy tent!Beyond the bed, there was a desk and a trunk filled with extra blankets/plus more storage space.My makeshift closet

My amazing back patio overlooking the Buttermilk TrailThis is hard to beat!!After getting settled and unpacking my essentials, I made sure to familiarize myself with the battery-powered lanterns-cum-phone chargers that were located in my tent.  Try walking to the facilities in the pitch dark (There's no electricity in the sleeping tents.) without one of those suckers

From there, I decided to go check out the facilities before stopping over at the lobby for happy hour.  And, I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised by how clean and ample the restrooms and showers were, in addition to being fully-stocked with shampoo/conditioner/soap!

Shower/restroom complexTowels - of multiple sizes - are provided!!Communal sinks5PM couldn't come quickly enough!  I made my way back to the lobby tent for happy hour and enjoyed wines from the local Finger Lakes region, "hard" apple cider (it just so happened to be Cider Week while I was there), and good company.  Amongst a handful of couples (including one with their adorable dogs in tow), there was a fun group of older women on a pseudo college reunion trip. 

Delicious local "hard cider"As the sun slowly set over the glampground, so did the temperatures.  While I was still in the lobby, I made sure to secure a propane heater for my tent to keep me warm overnight, as it was forecasted to dip in to the 40s!

Just after happy hour and a quick shower, I walked over to John Thomas Steakhouse (the restaurant located further up the property) where I enjoyed a fantastic lobster dinner.

Dinner at John Thomas SteakhouseForgoing dessert at the restaurant, I made my way back to camp in anticipation of enjoying a glass of red/nightcap and attempting to roast s'mores by the fire...

Firelight's own homemade s'mores kit!

With a full and happy belly - plus a solid buzz - I made my way back to my tent and prepared for bed: I turned on the propane tank, put on my socks, and crawled under the warm blanket.  Aside from the heater's buzz, the only thing I could hear beyond the mesh of my tent's windows were the leaves lightly dancing and the crickets chirping.  A few hours later, I awoke to the tranquil sound of a rain shower that aided me in to falling in the deepest, most comfortable sleep that I've experienced in...forever.  Wow.   

The following morning, I allowed myself to sleep in before packing up and heading to the continental breakfast in the lobby tent - something I haven't done in quite some time.  Ultimately, however, I was jonezing for a cup of coffee and some sustenance.

Coffee/tea stationAn assortment of local apple ciders Locally sourced bakery items, plus Emma's handmade granolaAlthough I would have loved to stay for another night (or two!), it was time for me to hit the road and explore the region and Ithaca proper, in addition to checking out Cornell's campus. 

With the 2015 glamping season closing at the end of October, I look forward to returning in the summer of 2016 so that I can enjoy more time in the area, plus the bounty of local recreational options (wineries, lakes, hiking trails)!  Plus, I'd love to bring some of my girlfriends; as snobby as some of them are, I am proof-positive that glamping is the prissy girl's - or guy's - answer to conquering the outdoors/nature.  In fact, I loved it.  Alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll of it!  Go ahead and quote me on that...I urge you!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 


(NYC) From where to sip cider to the best bars to catch the football game: Fall for Fall with Foursquare's "Ultimate NY Fall Guide"

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to NYC (ahem, tomorrow!), I couldn't wait a second longer to post this outstanding NY-centric Fall guide!  It's got everything, from the top orchards for apple picking to the city's best bars to watch the football game! 

Per the list, below, I've highlighted some of my favorite tidbits...but please find the full lineup *here.*  Enjoy!

Photo found on: offmetro.com.

Where to Watch FOOTBALL

There are 248 Sports Bars in NYC:

  • 54: # of flat screens at The Grayson, the East Village’s new football-watching spot
  • 23: # of stops on the 1 train from Times Square to Bronx Alehouse, the no. 1  sports bar in NYC overall (on 238th Street, in the Bronx)


The Resurgence of CIDER

When American settlers came to the New World, they found barley hard to grow, so they turned to apples for cider. By the 18th century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year. A lot of the apple trees planted by “Johnny Appleseed” didn’t survive prohibition however, and Americans later started planting and eating apples as snacks.  Hard cider didn’t regain popularity, until... NOW!

Union Square Greenmarket

“Sweet cider still out-sells hard cider but hard cider is on the rise.” -Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook, NY

    6 vendors sell sweet cider
  • 2 vendors sell hard cider

Wassail: NYC's 1st cider bar (12 ciders on tap, 100+ by the bottle)

*Wassail (def): The traditional practice, dating back to Medieval England, of singing to the trees to foster a bountiful harvest.



Forget Sleepy Hollow! These are three spooky spots right in NYC:



*As picked by the Foursquare community:



Best apple picking locations by state:

*Did you know that New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country, next to Washington State?  Peak season for picking: September 1 - October 25



BEGINNER Peebles Island State Park, Waterford, NY

    Perimeter Trail, 1.8 miles
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Do the hiking trail around  the island. The walk along the water is beautiful.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: The Snowman, Troy


    Blue Trail, approx. 2 miles, Inwood, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Witness the changing colors of the leaves while trailing through the last remaining, naturally occurring, native hardwood forest on the Manhattan Island.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Indian Road Café, Inwood

ADVANCED Bear Mountain State Park

    Appalachian Trail, 6 miles, Bear Mountain, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Beautiful when the leaves change color during the fall. Great Oktoberfest event but don't go during the last two weeks. Mad packed.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Woodbury Commons, Central Valley

OVERNIGHT Mohonk Preserve

  • High Peters Kill Hike, 7.5 miles, New Paltz, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “The most beautiful, if not most intense, hiking in Ulster County.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Mohonk Mountain House New Paltz



Sakuro Martini

‘Nduja Pizza

Pesto Meatball Sandwich

Orange Wine

Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

  • Fuku, East Village

Jams Chicken

  • Jams, Midtown East

Wasabi Guacamole and Japanese Pancakes



B & H Dairy, East Village (Now reopened)

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Vegetarian matzo-ball soup

Black Seed Bagels, NoLita

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Bagel sandwich with tobiko spread

Russ & Daughters Cafe, Lower East Side

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Super Heebster: bagel toast, whitefish & baked salmon salad, wasabi-infused fish roe, horseradish dill cream cheese

Sadelle’s, SoHo

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Everything 2.0 bagel with Nova lox

*An outpost of H&H Midtown Bagels is scheduled to open on the UWS this winter



“Comfort Food” is a trending taste in the Fall.  And, speaking of this season...

  • In the Fall, people search more for pumpkins than they search for ice cream in summer - but beer beats both tastes all year long!  Here are some of our favorite haunts:



  • Corn vs Corn Dogs vs Sweet Corn
    • Of the three tastes, corn is the most popular with a rise from mid-September to early November; corn dogs spike in late October; sweet corn is small and steady.
  • Funnel Cake vs Caramel Apples
    • Funnel cake fervor starts to rise in early July and peters off; caramel apples take off in Fall.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup vs Fried Chicken
    • Chicken noodle soup may be food for the soul—and especially desirable in Fall—but of all soul food, fried chicken is by far the most popular year-round.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle



November means...

Giving back  Whether you donate a winter coat - canned goods - or your time, try to remember those who are less fortunate this season.  Namely, the folks who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Overwhelmed or don't know where to begin?  Here's a good place to start

Falling back  Watching the sun go down at 4pm is kind of depressing - but I can't complain about the 6am sunrise.  Maybe this time change will be the kick-start I need to resume my early morning workouts...

Rock the Vote  If you're a US citizen who's 18 years and older, get out there and vote today!  Can you believe that, at this time tomorrow, we'll know who the next President of the United States is?

Red wine-weather  I hate white wine.  It's sour and pungent and stings my throat on the way down.  Plus, many of the people I know who drink it drive me NUTS.  That's why my wine of choice is a full-bodied cabernet.  And there's not a better month to kick off being a "red wine whore" than November.

Ice skating  This is one of my favorite leisure sports to enjoy during the colder months.  And, finally, the rinks are open!

Starbucks' red holiday cups  I don't know, there's just something about this particular cup series that make me happy.

The perfect excuse to make roasted root vegetables...or Brussels sprouts  Actually, it's the perfect excuse to make *anything* roasted, for that matter. 

Here's a super easy recipe that'll serve 2-3:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Method:  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Toss all ingredients together, and season liberally with salt & pepper.  Disperse sprouts evenly on to cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

The return of 'pop-up' holiday markets  From November 16th through December 24th, enjoy the holiday markets at Union Square, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, etc.! 

Asia  I followed him to Hong Kong, and now I'm going to visit him in Singapore.  My cousin, Eric, landed a great gig, so my sister and I are headed that way in about a week and a half.  Then, the three of us will journey to Thailand, before my sister and I finish our trip in Hong Kong.  I'm really looking forward to getting away for an extended amount of time...and eating my weight in dumplings!

Thanksgiving  While I won't be state side for my favorite holiday this year, I will make sure to give thanks for everything and everyone in my life.  And I hope that you will do the same!


What else is going on/kicking off this month? 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Embracing the fall: A Valentino "puffer" jacket + an apple festival

As we welcomed October this past Monday, I think it finally sunk in that I can no longer wear open-toed sandals - sleeveless dresses - or my beloved white jeans.  Sigh.  Summer *really* is over.  And, while I worship so many things about the warmer months in New York, to be 100% honest, this past summer royally sucked.  So, I've decided to completely embrace the fall... 

What comes to mind when you hear the word "fall?"  For me, it's:  Apples, cute boots, primary-colored leaves in the canopy of trees, 60-something degree days, and closet switch-outs.  In fact, fall in New York is one of my most favorite times of the year, second only to the spring.

Here are some items/day trips/exhibits that I'm currently "falling" for:

RED Valentino Bow-Neck Quilted Jacket  Source: saks dot comStuart Weitzman:  Spats Suede Button Knee Boot  Source: neiman marcus dot comPrada Nylon Dog Carrier  Source: neiman marcus dot comI'm *dying* to have a girl's weekend at the Bedford Post Inn, where we could take complimentary yoga classes (for hotel guests) - embrace the bounty of colorful trees - make a day trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns - and just relax!  Source: bedford post inn dot comSpend a Saturday at a fabulous orchard picking apples - and pumpkins ~  Source: time out ny dot comCheck out the Andy Warhol exhibit at The Met  Source: met museum dot org...

While most of the above are all luxury "dream" items/weekends, I've decided to take a more realistic approach:  In order to get this season properly kicked off (after all, it is the first weekend in October), some girlfriends and I are headed to Brooklyn this Sunday for an apple festival called Gala Gala Hey!

Sounds fun, no?  Actually, it's just what the doctor ordered.  I cannot think of a better way to end what has been a very emotionally draining, dramatic week.  On Thursday morning at around 8am, a beautiful young woman fell to her death from the 40th-story roofdeck of my apartment building.  My heart breaks for her family and friends, as I cannot possibly imagine the horrendous grief and heartbreak they must be going through.  Coming home (to my apartment building) from work yesterday was pretty solemn and eerie - I just wish that there was something I could do to help, if "help" is even the right word...

Wishing you all a beautiful and healthy fall weekend!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Fashion emergency: What is all the rage with...

..."smoking slippers?"  Personally, I prefer to smoke in my flip-flops.  I'm kiddingSort of...

OK, granted, the minimal heel and crushed velvet exterior does look super comfortable - but, really?  They're just so...Hugh Hefner.  No?  I mean, what the hell do you wear these things with and, for the love of god, who was the fashion-house asshole that deemed them 'cool?'  I seriously want to know.

Ladies/gents:  What are your thoughts on fall's hottest - or, shall I say, "hautest" - shoe?  To slipper or not to slipper, that *is* the question.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


A pre-Bastille Day cruise with Chef Marc Murphy

My mom always encourages me to "be a tourist in your own city."  And she's right.  To this day, I'm shamed to admit that I've never been to the following major NYC attractions:  Top of the Rock, Museum of Natural History, MoMa.  And those are just a handful.  Oh, did I mention that I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate museums? 

So, you can imagine how excited I was to learn about something a little more my style, if you will:  Every Tuesday evening, Benchmarc Events (owned by celeb chef, Marc Murphy) hosts a "Summer Cruise Series," featuring different themes (see postcard, below).  For $60, guests enjoy 2-hour's worth of unlimited assorted cocktails/wine/beer, Chef Marc Murphy's delicious food, and priceless views of NY Harbor.  Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that sounds like the ideal way to "be a tourist in my own city."   So much so, in fact, that two friends and I grabbed tickets for this past Tuesday's Bastille Day-themed cruise!

"Oh, that has to be it," I said, pointing to the line of beautiful people at the NY Waterway Pier (Battery Park City location).  And, sure enough, as we neared, a friendly Benchmarc employee approached and checked us in for the cruise.

While boarding the bi-level, open-air ferry, Nicole, Em, and I were offered ice cold Brooklyn Summer Ale.

How cute - and fitting - is her beret for Bastille Day?At 8:15pm on the dot, we set sail!  Cocktails began being poured atop the ferry's upper deck.     

I opted for the specialty cocktail, the Bastille Blanc:  Lillet, Limoncello, Soda, and Orange. 

We socialized and imbibed as the sun slowly set over Manhattan...

Me and my two Emily'sAnd passed by some breathtaking sites and urban-scapes...

Beautiful lower ManhattanJust after sunset, we headed to the lower deck and filled our plates with an abundance of delicious, French-inspired bites.

Merguez (lamb) sausageBoudin blanc and chicken sausage skewers, baguetteCold vichyssoise soup shots (potatoes, leeks, onion, cream, chicken broth)Croque monsieur!French cheese boardCrudite and fresh breadSweet & savory crepes!For dessert:  Hand-made pistachio macarons with salted caramel, strawberry macarons with dark chocolate (apologize for not having a photo - it was too dark to get a decent shot).    

And the piece de resistance?  Breathtaking (literally), magical views of lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty under the dark night's sky...

Freedom Tower is the building w/ blue lights!God bless America!Me with Chef Marc!

I had such an incredibly fun and delicious evening "being a tourist in my own city," that I've decided to return for July 31st's "Sparkling Wine and Swine" cruise.  As my birthday celebration!  Seriously, is there a better way to ring in (gasp) 32?  I don't think so... 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle