New recipes

Korean Food Fair Comes to New York’s Times Square

Korean Food Fair Comes to New York’s Times Square

The two-day event will showcase Korean food and culture with free tastings and performances

The first annual Korean Food Fair will take place in New York Oct.19-20.

The first annual Korean Food Fair will be held in New York’s Time Square Oct.19-20, showcasing Korean signature dishes with tastings from major Korean food companies. The free-of-charge food fair is organized directly by the Korean government's Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, and will be focused on the growing popularity of Korean food within the U.S. Bulgogi, bibimbap, and kimchi, are just a few of the many Korean dishes that have been well received by diners across America, and the new food fair aims to further expand the interest in and knowledge of Korean food and culture.

The Korean Food Fair USA 2013 will kick off in Times Square on Oct. 19, boasting over 28 food vendors and multiple performances. Korean ingredients such as ginseng tea, kimchi, soju, aloe vera, roasted & seasoned seaweed, honey jujube, rice wine, and rice cakes, will be given out for sampling. Several Korean cultural performances will also take place, including the New York Korean Traditional Marching Band, a jazz performance by Yanghyung Soul Factory, and a K-Pop cover dance performance by the award-winning I Love Dance.

Prior to the main food fair, an invite-only event will be hosted on Friday 18 by Kim Jae Soo, President and CEO of Korean Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation. The event will include a Korean luncheon, followed by a panel discussion with Korean chef Shin Kim and Phillip Lee of the popular New York-based food truck, Kimchi Taco Truck. The two chefs will discuss Korean foods and their rise in popularity.

The Korean Food Fair is open to public and free of charge.


Cheesecake Factory Comes To New York, We Get An Early Taste of Greatness

Once in awhile, I’ll come across someone who has never been to The Cheesecake Factory. My jaw drops slowly, unhinging the same way it does when a plate of their famous Buffalo Blasts™ hit the table. The Cheesecake Factory is one of the most upscale mall chain restaurants America has to offer. But explaining the Factory can be complicated. For instance, in the hundred or so times I’ve been, I’ve maybe ordered cheesecake once. No, instead I longed to take this person by the hand a la Jack in Rose’s “Everyone’s alive!” Titanic flashback, push past the chain’s gigantic front doors, and lead them into their amber-lit world of elaborate sconces, spiral-bound menus boasting over 250 items, gravy boats of balsamic vinaigrettes, and of course, "Renee's Special."

Allow me to show you around the Factory

The Cheesecake Factory is, in short, my food heaven. Which created a bit of a problem for those of us living in New York City, where nary a Factory can be found. I never really got this, since it seems like a Cheesecake would be an absolute madhouse in the city. It would be the Hamilton of restaurants! People camped out on 42nd street, waiting 4 or 5 hours for a table, using their remaining strength to hold onto that little beeper the hostess gives you which can sometimes induce fatal heart attacks once they go off. I wonder maybe they thought demand in the city would be too great, too many people, riots in the streets when the only things left to order are off the SkinnyLicious® insert. (Truly, the understudy of any Cheesecake Factory meal.)

But good news, mole people: A Cheesecake Factory is finally joining the big leagues, opening up its first New York City location in the Elmhurst area of Queens today. OK, it’s not Times Square, but it’s only a 30 minute subway ride away. And last week, I was #blessed enough to be invited to a very special preview dinner at this new location, a sort of pretend service night where the wait staff and chefs would grow comfortable with the high intensity workload. Think Hell’s Kitchen , but without Gordon Ramsay shoving his thick English fingers into every single dish before tossing it. Joining me was Bon Appétit's senior web editor Alex Beggs, who has only ever been to the Factory one other time.

And so our Girthright to the C&C Cheesecake Factory (genius nickname, feel free to use it) began. We met outside the pristine doors, in front of which stood a woman holding an important-looking clipboard. The restaurant was not officially open, and only people who won a lottery to come to this special preview meal were being allowed in. “I’m sorry,” she would say to the dozens of hungry people who demanded entry, “we’re not open yet!” as dads holding Foot Locker bags angrily shook the door handles. So when we were actually allowed past her, and those magical doors opened for us side-by-side, I finally understood what my mother felt like when she got into Studio 54. This was power.

Inside, another hostess explained the process for tonight’s preview dinner. She was all business.

Each person would get completely different menus, from which we could pick one appetizer, one entree, and a dessert (CHEESECAKE) to share. This way, the chefs in the kitchen could practice cooking a little bit of everything. A tall gentleman with a thick mustache next to us demanded to know if there would be Miso Salmon on his menu.

“Sir, it’s random, we just don’t know.”

“But I came here for the Miso Salmon.”

Now I’ve been a patron of The Factory for years, having visited at least 20 locations. My mom, who worked next door to one at our local Miami mall, basically ate dinner there with my Dad every night for 10 years straight. (Yes, they’re still living.) And when I’d visit them? “It doesn’t pay to cook!” she’d say, as we pushed past throngs of tourists and planted ourselves at one of the Factory’s first come first serve high top bar tables, an insider’s secret. ALWAYS beeline for the high tops.

But tonight we’d play it classy, as the friendly maitre’d sat us at a dimly lit booth and handed us our random menus. I got the “chicken” menu while Alex got the “chicken and STEAK” menu. Clearly someone was their favorite. (Not me.)

Cheesecake’s menu is a Yellowpages of Food, page after laminated page of really any dish you could possibly want. There should really be an app where you just shake your phone and your phone picks what it is you wanna eat. (COPYRIGHT, someone make this, call it Magic Ate Ball, you’re welcome.) These limited menus were somehow even more overwhelming.

Did I want Chicken Piccata? Marsala? Chicken Bellagio? What’s Chicken Bellagio?? Chicken with a butter fountain set to the sounds of Andrea Bocelli? Because clearly I want that.

One thing was for sure: We wanted martinis. We also began with two appetizers: Sweet corn tamale cakes and crispy crab wontons. As we waited for our opening course, I soaked up the surroundings. It’s hard to describe Cheesecake’s decor. It certainly didn’t look like a factory, but more like the interior of a rich gay Egyptian guy’s house, which is to say, I love it.

I mean please, look at this sconce!! #elegance

Our lovely server for the evening, Pedro, brought over our gigantic martinis along with the signature bread offering of “brown” or “beige.” I usually prefer “brown” because I’ve convinced myself it is somehow healthier as they’ve topped it off with a smattering of Quaker Oats, even though judging by the way the bread tastes (glazed donut) I might be mistaken. I told myself to only have a bite and save room for my main course. Here I am excitedly posing for a bread selfie before devouring them both, Coneheads-style.

And here is my dirty martini, which came along with blue-cheese stuffed olives because apparently I exude the kind of energy that screams “Please put handfuls of cheese in my vodka!”

Appetizer time! Two gigantic platters, enough to feed a mom’s only Super Bowl party, hit our table. Three sweet corn tamales sat inside a husk gondola, swimming down a tangy salsa creek as each lil corn cake grazed kernels under a thick sour cream and avocado sky.

The Crispy Crab Wontons brought me back to my poor college days but in the best way possible. They were light, flaky, crabby, and if I hadn’t been in mixed company, I would have eaten the entire plate myself. Thank God for societal pressure! I left a single one for the chef.

Picking a main course was extremely tough, but I ended up going off the grid with one of the night’s specials: Salmon Piccata with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli. Alex, shocking the world, chose a Turf & Turf platter of Steak Diane and Chicken Madeira, one of the chain’s signature dishes. And look at how exciting! They separated each meat with a little mashed potato wall. How de rigueur !

So I’m going to keep things very real in this write-up, because I never want Cheesecake’s standards to falter: My salmon wasn’t great. I feel a little bad saying this as the wait staff and management could not have been kinder or more attentive, but y’all know when salmon’s dry, it’s DRY. And given that the evening was all about learning from mistakes, I figure they should know now before Miso Salmon Guy storms out in a dry-fished rage.

Other than that one issue, the lemon butter sauce was divine, and the broc and mashies were reliably tasty. Alex’s chicken and steak were cooked perfectly, and I know because I long-forked it across the table and tried both.

It was around this time that my body started Kool-Aid Man-ing out of my “skinny” turtleneck, forcing me to leave about half my meal uneaten. Seeing our bodies slumped over in our booths, Pedro kindly offered to wrap our leftovers up to go and then, milliseconds later, brought over the dessert menu. I couldn’t eat another bite, but this was the Cheesecake FACTORY. You are in its home and you will eat it.

We picked two slices off the double-sided menu: Lemon Raspberry and something called the Oreo® Dream Extreme, aka a cream-filled Inception.

Want to see the face of a girl pretending to be full but whose forehead vein is a dead giveaway that she bout to eat some cake? Here you go:

The Lemon Raspberry was pretty good even though it looked like something out of Dexter’s workspace. But the Oreo Dream Extreme was legit… 2… die… 4. Here’s a pic of the last thing I remember from the evening:

The meal was over. We were done. I took my leftovers and beelined to the nearest Sephora, where I contoured my face in the hopes that my neighbors wouldn’t know I just consumed the same amount of calories as Michael Phelps on the day he won 17 golds.

And then I got on the subway and went home. Because I was living the dream. Of taking a train to The Cheesecake Factory in the big city. I gave my leftovers to a person who needed a good meal and headed home to plot my next step: Getting engaged and eventually married at a Cheesecake Factory. Because this is New York, and a girl can Oreo dream.


Kellogg's Opens Cereal Cafe in New York's Times Square

Kellogg's opens its first-ever restaurant, a cereal café, in New York City's Times Square on July 4. The menu features playful recipes developed by Momofuku Milk Bar chef Christina Tosi, and build-your-own-bowl options. Video: Carly Marsh/The Wall Street Journal, Photo: Whitney Tressel for The Wall Street Journal

Iran says inspectors may no longer get nuclear sites images

Iran’s parliament speaker said Sunday that international inspectors may no longer access surveillance images of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, escalating tensions amid diplomatic efforts in Vienna to save Tehran's atomic accord with world powers. The comments by Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, aired by state TV, further underscored the narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran.

Ted Cruz reacts to 'Kremlin Cruz' nickname given to him by MSNBC anchor Brian Williams after the Texas senator shared Russian army propaganda

Brian Williams named the GOP senator "Kremlin Cruz" after noting that he hated being called "Cancun Cruz" when he fled Texas during a storm.

AdPlace A Bag On Your Car Mirror When Traveling

Brilliant Car Cleaning Hacks Local Dealers Wish You Didn’t Know

Ousted GOP Chairwoman Liz Cheney calls Marjorie Taylor Greene's statement comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust ɾvil lunacy'

In an interview on Thursday, Greene also called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "mentally ill' for enforcing a mask mandate.

'She had to hold her little boy as he died': 6-year-old's family, California police seeking shooter in road rage death

The boy, identified by family as Aiden Leos, was in the backseat of his mother's car when another driver shot and killed him, authorities said.

Despite criticism, Marjorie Taylor Greene says she still stands behind her Holocaust statement

"No one should be treated like a second-class citizen for saying 'I don't need to wear a mask,' . so I stand by all of my statements," Greene said.

AdHow to fall in love with a new language?

We Tested This App To See If You Could Learn A Language In 7 Days.

Biles makes history in return to competition at US Classic

Time on her hands and a world-class gym at her disposal after the 2020 Olympics were postponed, Simone Biles started experimenting almost as a way to stave off the monotony of training. Pretty soon a vault that she occasionally tinkered with for fun — the Yurchenko double pike — started to look like a vault she could pull off in competition. Hands seemingly magnetized to her hamstrings as she soared off the vaulting table, Biles drilled the Yurchenko double pike during her victory at the US Classic on Saturday night.

Simone Biles nailed a vault so dangerous that no woman had ever tried it in competition before her

Simone Biles became the first woman to attempt - or complete - a Yurchenko double pike during competition at the US Classic Saturday night.

Israel's Gaza challenge: stopping metal tubes turning into rockets

The Israel-Hamas conflict that ended with a ceasefire on Friday showed the Palestinian group's ability to build an arsenal of home-made rockets largely with civilian materials and Iranian expertise, analysts and officials said, a feat it can likely replicate. The low cost of such arms and the need to rebuild Gaza leaves Israel and the international community with a quandary of how to meet Gazans' basic needs yet keep ordinary items such as pipes, sugar and concrete from being put to military uses. Current and former officials see no easy answers, saying it is all but impossible to seal off even a relatively small area such as Gaza and to prevent goods for reconstruction from being turned into locally-made rockets.

The poor, the rich: In a sick India, all are on their own

For the family of the retired diplomat, the terror struck as they tried desperately to get him past the entrance doors of a private hospital. For the New Delhi family, it came when they had to create a hospital room in their ground-floor apartment. For the son of an illiterate woman who raised her three children by scavenging human hair, it came as his mother waited days for an ICU bed, insisting she’d be fine.

More than 20 runners killed as sudden ɽisastrous weather' hits cross-country mountain race in China

Twenty-one people were killed after hail, freezing rain and high winds hit runners taking part in a 100km (62-mile) cross-country mountain race in China. The extreme weather struck a high-altitude section of the race held in the scenic Yellow River Stone Forest near Baiyin city in northwestern Gansu province on Saturday afternoon. Among the dead were elite Chinese long-distance runners, local media reported. Official news agency Xinhua confirmed the death toll had risen to 21, according to the local rescue command headquarters. State broadcaster CCTV also reported the final missing competitor had been found dead. Baiyin city mayor Zhang Xuchen said that at around noon on Saturday a section of the rugged ultramarathon course - between kilometres 20 and 31 - was "suddenly affected by disastrous weather". "In a short period of time, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area, and there were strong winds. The temperature sharply dropped," Mr Zhang said. Shortly after receiving messages seeking help from some participants, marathon organisers dispatched a rescue team that managed to save 18 of the 172 participants. At around 2pm, weather conditions worsened and the race was immediately called off as local authorities sent more rescuers to help, Mr Zhang said. The victims included top domestic marathon runners Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun, according to a friend of Huang's and Wei Pulong, Liang's coach. Liang had won multiple Chinese ultramarathons in recent years. Huang, who was deaf-mute, won the men's hearing-impaired marathon at the 2019 National Paralympic Games held in Tianjin. Marathon organisers confirmed his death to a friend. "As the event's organiser, we feel a deep sense of guilt and self-blame, express our deep mourning for the victims and deep condolences to their families and the injured runners," Mr Zhang said, as he and other local officials bowed. The race, backed by the Baiyin city government and the Chinese Athletic Association, has been held for four successive years.

CNN ends contract with Rick Santorum after dismissive comments about Native Americans

Santorum caused anger after dismissing the role of Native Americans in history, saying that there was "nothing" in America before colonizers arrived.

Former Trump advisor Michael Flynn says coronavirus a conspiracy to distract from election

Former three star General is a vocal supporter of QAnon conspiracy theories


The Epicurious Blog

Elizabeth Andoh is a Japanese food expert who has written several cookbooks and was Gourmet magazine&aposs Japan correspondent for many years. Her latest stunningly beautiful cookbook is Kansha, Celebrating Japan&aposs Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions. While she was in Napa last month I got a chance to chat with her about Kansha and Japanese cuisine in general.

What is Kansha?

Kansha is not a culinary term, it means appreciation, in the culinary sphere it applies to nature and to acknowledging clever people who take nature and make good food, not wasting anything. Kansha is not necessarily vegetarian. But it&aposs a good time for vegan and vegetarian people to have a wider horizon and cook Japanese food. The recipes are all about abundance, not about what you can&apost do.

Japanese cuisine reflects both tradition and innovation. How do they play out in the book?

I was looking for recipes that were practical and I decided some would have deep history and some I just created myself.

For example when I eat mackerel or saba sushi I am reminded of eggplant. It looks a little bit like eggplant, and the mouth feel is like eggplant so I created a recipe for eggplant sushi.

I even got ideas for some innovative and fun recipes from supermarket promotions. But then there are tofu recipes that go all the way back to a classic 18th century cookbook. I knew I&aposd include 2-3 recipes from that collection and they are almost unchanged.

Americans know some Japanese pantry ingredients like soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, shiitake mushroom. What others would you suggest they learn about or add?

Kombu, kombu, kombu! Kombu is sea kelp. It&aposs the essence of umami (also known as the 5th taste). Especially in the vegan kitchen you need to incorporate umami using kombu. Hidaka and ma-kombo are the two varieties of kombu I use. Some have more natural occurring glutamates (which is the scientific definition of umami). You soak it for a water extraction, just setting it out on a counter. That becomes a basic cooking liquid or stock.

The other ingredient would be se seasoned soy concentrate. You combine soy, sugar and sake. It takes 20 minutes to make and will keep for 6-8 weeks. Once you&aposve made that, you can use it to enhance many things--to make soup, sauces, on tofu.

Which is the one recipe you most want people to try?

My recipe testers were very fond of the vegetarian version of chawan mushi, a kind of steamed custard. You must use the richest best quality soy milk you can find and you add nigari as the coagulant. You make it in custard cups and cook it in the microwave.


O.C. Puts Its Spin on the Ball Drop

Weird objects plummet from the sky on New Year’s Eve.

In Tempe, Ariz., a 200-pound tortilla chip plops into a 15-foot jar of salsa at midnight, putting a Southwestern spin on New York City’s famous ball drop in Times Square.

Dillsburg, Pa., rings in the new year with a giant falling pickle. Raleigh, N.C., lowers a 1,250-pound acorn. And other cities usher in Jan. 1 with plunging possums, bologna, stuffed goats, lollipops and illuminated walleye pikes.

Now Orange County is jumping on the bandwagon.

As part of a New Year’s Eve concert at the Orange County Fairgrounds, a 250-pound electrified orange will descend from a fireworks-spewing tower at the stroke of midnight.

Organizers had envisioned stranger scenarios.

In one, a stuntman dressed as an orange would have dived into a tank of water, said event planner Dennis Condon. Another pitch called for a jumbo orange to be escorted onstage by a line of chorus girls.

“We let our imaginations run rampant,” said Condon, whose credits include “Laser Disco Mania,” a 1970s production featuring fire-spitting robots at the Orange County Fair. “We even thought about dumping a ton of real oranges onto the audience. Believe it or not, we weren’t high when we brainstormed all this.”

Ultimately, Condon’s team decided to follow in the footsteps of Miami and Orlando, Fla., which pioneered the use of oversized oranges for New Year’s Eve extravaganzas.

The next problem was figuring out how to build the thing. Proposals for a $40,000 fiberglass orange and a $70,000 Las Vegas-style neon sign were rejected as too expensive. Another losing bid came from an Oregon company that created a huge geodesic peach for Atlanta’s New Year’s Eve bash.

The winning design was a $20,000 ribbed aluminum sphere studded with strobes and orange lights. Construction of the 6-foot citrus began three weeks ago at a secret location in the San Fernando Valley, Condon said. The contraption was given a trial run Thursday evening.

On Saturday, after concert performances by Joan Jett, Sugar Ray, the Psychedelic Furs, English Beat, Berlin and other artists, the high-tech robo-orange will slide down an 80-foot tower.

“We also considered lowering it with a crane or flying it overhead with a helicopter,” Condon said.

The sinking orb will be accompanied by about 10 minutes of fireworks, lasers and videos. Confetti and beach balls will shower an expected crowd of 10,000 to 20,000 revelers, who are paying $65 each to dine and dance at the “Orange Drop” festival. The fireworks and giant orange should also be visible from surrounding neighborhoods, according to an event spokeswoman.

Despite its movie-industry pedigree, Southern California has never established a trademark New Year’s Eve ritual. The biggest fiasco was Los Angeles’ multimillion-dollar Y2K extravaganza on Dec. 31, 1999. Hyped by city officials as proof that L.A. would be the entertainment nucleus of the world during the new millennium, the bash was supposed to attract hundreds of thousands of people.

Instead, attendance at the rain-splattered outdoor celebrations was so sparse that then-Mayor Richard Riordan dubbed his fellow citizens “a bunch of sissies.”

Subsequent efforts have been smaller in scale. Raves held at the Coliseum and Sports Arena drew 40,000 people in 2000. And a Hollywood Boulevard bash billed as the West Coast equivalent of the one at Times Square, complete with confetti-firing cannons, pulled in 15,000.

The link between falling objects and time began in 1829, when the British Royal Navy built a seaside “time ball” that dropped at noon so ships could synchronize their clocks. The idea spread around the globe.

In 1907, New York’s Times Square adapted the concept for its New Year’s Eve celebration. Copycats and parodies followed.

Washington once dropped a giant “Love” stamp from a postal building. Brasstown, N.C., achieved notoriety for its annual possum plunge, in which a live possum inside a plexiglass cage is lowered from a gas station roof to a crowd of onlookers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with: “Possum: the other other white meat.”

The biggest concentration of offbeat time balls seems to be in Pennsylvania, judging from news accounts.

In addition to Dillsburg’s 8-foot papier-mache pickle, Wilkes-Barre drops a giant diamond, Harrisburg lowers a lighted strawberry, Hummelstown releases a 9-foot wooden lollipop, Mechanicsburg drops a 10-foot wrench, Falmouth lets down a stuffed goat and Lancaster lowers a jumbo rose.

Some time balls are edible. The 120-pound bologna in Lebanon, Pa., is reportedly donated to a local rescue mission after its nosedive.

And Tempe’s gonzo tortilla chip is cooked for two hours in a custom-built deep fryer filled with 600 gallons of soybean oil.

As for Orange County’s leviathan fruit, Condon advises against taking a bite.

A 250-pound electrified orange will drop from a tower as part of a New Year’s Eve celebration at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

* The ball drop will be accompanied by lasers, fireworks, a video and rock music.

* Up to 20,000 revelers are expected to pay $65 each to attend the festival.

* The aluminum ball is about 6 feet tall and weighs 250 pounds.

* The ball, which contains more than 400 lights and strobes, is suspended from an 80-foot tower above the back of the Main Stage.


Sushi Seki Times Square Brings Fine Japanese Food to New York's Theater District

Sushi and cooked dishes are served at three distinct rooms at Sushi Seki Times Square.

Whatever you think of the overwhelming dazzle of today’s Times Square and the Great White Way, the restaurants in the area have never been better, especially when it comes to Asian food. In sheer numbers it would be hard to pass by more than half a dozen storefronts on any street extending east and west from Times Square and not find a sushi bar, Chinese restaurant, Thai, Korean or Indian eatery, at various price levels, usually with pre-theater menus.

Sushi Seki Times Square—named for Chef Seki Shi—is the flagship of a group of three, with branches on the East Side and Chelsea, and it distinguishes itself by having a sushi bar and lounge up front, an omakase sushi room upstairs where Chef Seki works, and the six-seat Kappo Room to the rear, featuring both à la carte and a special fixed price menu at a remarkably fair $75, as well as a sommelier of sake and wine.

Chef Seki learned his craft and developed his knowledge of seafood at Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market, moving to New York in 1991 to work at a series of Japanese restaurants that included Sushi of Gari, then opening the first Sushi Seki on First Avenue uptown. In 2014 the Chelsea branch debuted, and two years ago Times Square opened.

Yasuyuki Suzuki serves as both general manager and sake sommelier, having completed the Brewing Society of Japan's Sake Tasting Meister Program to certify as an Advance Sake Professional. So the array of sakes is superb, and “Yasu” happily provides information about all of them to match with your meal. What Yasu does not provide, service and beverage director Rick Zouad does with wines, and I trusted his judgment with pairings.

A small Bar Seki for sushi is set just inside Sushi Seki's entrance.

At the entrance “mini-omakase bar” sushi counter (above), Chef Qing Yang (who is actually Chinese) shows a deft hand at seeming to do very little with very delectable results to top quality seafood. The fat strips in the toro are evident, the red snapper glistens and the rice is impeccably formed and seasoned—no need for soy sauce and wasabi dipping.

My problem with sushi is I can’t get enough of it—which is why inferior sushi bars push “all you can eat” menus. And after such delicacies as Yang’s toro taku (bluefin toro be with pickled daikon tartare hamachi of yellowtail with a sliver of jalapeño, garlic puree and ponzu New Zealand King salmon with onion sauce and tomato sauté tai shio of red snapper with lemon juice and Okinawa sea salt and “Tofu Tofu” of lean akami bluefin tuna Akami on pan-seared tofu topped with tofu Sauce, I was both blissful and ravenous for more.

But we were on our way to the Kappo Room (below)—kappo means to cook, and refers to a dining spot somewhere between the traditional kaiseki cuisine and the casual izakaya style cuisine. There we sat at another counter for six people in front of an open kitchen—not a particularly attractive or well-lighted one—to feast further on an array of modern Japanese seasonal cuisine, beginning with a fried Pacific oyster with tomato tartare, and slowly poached, velvety tender Hokkaido octopus with simmered daikon and pan-fried gyoza of pork and cabbage, accompanied by a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Soliste “Lune et Soleil.”

Downstairs at Sushi Seki Times Square cooked Japanese food is served at an open kitchen.

Next was crisp tempura dish of anago (sea eel), kuruma ebi (black tiger shrimp), wakasagi (lake smelt) and assorted vegetables, with a Domaine Ferret “Le Clos” 2013.

Lustrous yuzu and miso-infused cod had its characteristic richness, which paired well with a Guy Breton Morgon Régnié 2015, then came a soothing hot pot of duck and tofu in sweet dashi broth with which a Choryo “Tarusake” Junmai Yamahai sake from Nara went beautifully.

All of this food lay lightly on the stomach, so we were happy to try several desserts that were way out of the ordinary for a Japanese restaurant:

Creamy yuzu panna cotta a honeyed crème brûlée and mochi ice cream of matcha, salted caramel, Mandarin orange cream and double chocolate. All were part of the $75 menu, though all items are also available à la carte.

I’m sure I’d be just as happy upstairs eating nothing but classic sushi made by Chef Seki, but I’d be missing so much more from the downstairs menus. What a happy dilemma to have!

John Mariani is an author and journalist of 40 years standing, and an author of 15 books. He has been called by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the most influential food-wine

John Mariani is an author and journalist of 40 years standing, and an author of 15 books. He has been called by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the most influential food-wine critic in the popular press” and is a three-time nominee for the James Beard Journalism Award. For 35 years he was Esquire Magazine’s food & travel correspondent and wine columnist for Bloomberg News for ten. His Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink was hailed as the "American Larousse Gastronomique” His next book, "America Eats Out" won the International Association of Cooking Professionals Award for Best Food Reference Book. His "How Italian Food Conquered the World" won the Gourmand World Cookbooks Award for the USA 2011, and the Italian Cuisine Worldwide Award 2012. He co-authored "Menu Design in America: 1850-1985" and wrote the food sections for the Encyclopedia of New York City. In 1994 the City of New Orleans conferred on him the title of Honorary Citizen and in 2003 he was given the Philadelphia Toque Award “for exceptional achievements in culinary writing and accomplishments.”


Is the Michelin Guide corrupted?

A few years ago, I was sharing a dinner table with foreign restaurateurs and Korean chaebol executives. One of the executives bragged that he had inside information that the Michelin Guide was coming to Seoul. The French and Italian restaurateurs were baffled. They said that even though the Seoul culinary scene was evolving rapidly, Seoul restaurants had a long way to go in service and consistency. The chaebol executive smiled like he was giving us a secret. “Oh, we are going to find a way to bring it here.”

Now it is here. There has been a lot of praise for it, but the praise sounds more like press releases than real journalism. Does the Michelin Red Guide make Seoul a serious culinary destination?

Older government officials and businessmen have been eager to bring Michelin to Seoul. Some of them didn’t even understand what the Michelin Guide was. Much of this effort was spearheaded by members of what in Korea are known as the “386 Generation.”

This is a generation that has watched Korea grow to the powerful wealthy nation it is. They are extremely obsessed with status, especially international status. This generation exhibits a naive nouveau riche outlook. They care more about image than reality.

They want to create this illusion of international prestige. They waste money posting full-page ads in The New York Times and putting giant billboards in New York’s Times Square to promote Korean food, even though they have no effect. This generation has a strange desire to impress western elites. This explains why they have made so much effort to bring Michelin to Seoul.

The confidence of the chaebol executive I had dinner with, along with news I’ve heard about secret meetings in Singapore, have tainted Michelin’s purity in its intentions to come to Seoul. In the past, overzealous government officials and businessmen have made unethical deals to bring international sporting events and other faux status symbols to Korea. Should we assume they haven’t done the same with Michelin?

Many of us in the Seoul foodie community gave Michelin the benefit of the doubt. We hoped that Michelin had not been influenced or guided by these overeager Korean elites. When the Bib Gourmand and the star ratings came out, it confirmed to many that Michelin had been corrupted.

The Bib Gourmand, a list of notable restaurants for travelers, looked similar to the same lists put together by government tourism organizations. Most of them were restaurants that old people liked. Some of them are still great, but others are just famous for being famous.

It was also odd that almost half the list consisted of mandu and kalguksu restaurants. For food lovers, it’s baby food. It’s what Koreans serve to foreigners who think they can’t handle spicy Korean dishes. The Bib Gourmand list looked like something a government official would come up with based on old stereotypes of foreigners.

The great controversy that got the food community angry, seriously angry, was which restaurants received stars. Many of the restaurants that received one star are considered excellent places that deserve at least two.

When they saw which restaurants received the rare three stars, they called bullshit. Something was afoul. A Michelin three-star restaurant is not only a good restaurant. It’s a restaurant you would travel across the country–across the world–to dine at. It serves food that is so unique and at the top of the game that you can’t find anything like that anywhere else. It creates a perfect dining experience. The two Seoul restaurants that received three stars hardly qualified for such an honor.

Some friends of mine recently ate at both of the three-star restaurants, and they strongly felt that they didn’t compare to other three-star restaurants around the world. I myself have dined at an earlier incarnation of one of the Seoul three-star restaurants. The food was highly disappointing. It was expensive and came on expensive plates. Yet the flavors were the same as you’d find anywhere else. The service was condescending and made the diners in my party feel unwelcome. It was nowhere near the quality I’ve had at a three-star restaurant in New York.

This has brought about accusations of foul play. Michelin is under no obligation to award three stars to any restaurant in any city. Some cities have no three-star restaurants. Yet Seoul somehow got two three-star restaurants.

One is owned by a restaurateur who is heavily involved with Korean food promotion programs and believes that just putting an expensive price tag on above average food and soju magically gives it value. Another of his restaurants also mysteriously received one star. The chef at the three-star restaurant was quoted in the press that Korean food needs to be more “approachable” to foreigners, which again, is condescending.

Inside sources have told me that the Michelin inspectors were given a list of restaurant suggestions ahead of time. Some of the restaurants likely were given advance notice that an inspector was arriving, which is highly unethical. I myself was a top judge for the Miele Guide, and I saw firsthand how unscientific and flawed these guides can be.

Let’s look at this truthfully. Does Seoul need a Michelin Red Guide? Is this to help travelers? Or is it another status symbol for 386 elites?

The largest complaint about the Michelin Guide around the world these days is that it’s diluted its brand. Before the internet and before more competition in dining guides, Michelin was well revered. Yet Michelin is a business, and a business needs to expand. By publishing the Seoul guide they are guaranteeing themselves easy income from status-obsessed consumers in Korea. It also helps that the Korean government is giving it at least four hundred million won in free advertising through a “secret agreement.”

Michelin is quickly become a relic of the past. With each issue, it is proving itself more irrelevant. Restaurants in America and Europe are even rejecting their stars. It’s nice that it’s come to Seoul, but don’t take it too seriously. The uncomfortable truth is that having three-star restaurants in Seoul doesn’t help Seoul’s reputation. It hurts the Michelin Guide’s reputation.

The only people who really care about having the Michelin Guide in Seoul are those who are obsessed with Seoul’s international status. They are obsessed with impressing western elites. They aren’t confident that Seoul can stand on its own as a restaurant capital.

Seoul is a unique, proud restaurant city. It doesn’t need Michelin to prove that.

UPDATE: I’ve been hearing back from world travelers who are well experienced in dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. They went to GAON because it was a three-star Michelin restaurant. They said GAON was a great disappointment. This is going to hurt both Michelin’s and Seoul’s dining reputation.


Kisses, cheers, fireworks welcome 2020 in Times Square

FILE – This Dec. 6, 2019 file photo shows the South Korean pop group BTS performing during the 2019 KIIS-FM Jingle Ball concert in Inglewood, Calif. The group will perform for a throng of revelers in the heart of Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City’s Times Square.

In one of the globe’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole. Throngs of people cheered and sang along to the X Ambassadors’ soul-stirring rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” just before midnight.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The frenzied moment of celebration came after many hours of waiting for much of the crowd.

Eric and Aileen Sanchez-Himes brought their son and nephew from Framingham, Massachuetts, to experience what they consider a “bucket list item.” Eric packed granola bars and water in his coat in case they got hungry. They arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“I grew up in New York, in Brooklyn and the Bronx and I’ve never done this and this was the first time for us and what better year than 2020 to do this,” Aileen said.

Mathieu Plesotsky, 25, visiting from Hesse, Germany, said he wanted to be a part of the spectacle after watching it for years on TV. He arrived in Times Square at 1 p.m. with his girlfriend and bopped along to the performers while waiting for the ball to drop.

“We’ve just stayed, stand, tried not to pee, danced to the Village People,” he said.

Ever since the NYPD tightened security and began cracking down on public drinking years ago, Times Square on New Year’s Eve has been an endurance contest as much as a raucous celebration.

Many people arrive before noon to get a spot close to the action. Alcohol is banned. Spectators enter through a security screening gauntlet to enter pens they cannot leave, including to use the bathroom, if they hope to return.

The weather can be brutal.

When revelers rang in 2018, it was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius). For the dawn of 2019, rain poured throughout the evening, leaving puddles on the performance stages.

The weather seemed perfect Tuesday, until it wasn’t. Rain, which wasn’t in the forecast, briefly drenched the crowd just before 8:30 p.m.

Still, the celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

“It was a dream, I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I’m here, and I’m thankful for that,” said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Amanda Camacho, 25, from Heredia, Costa Rica, said she and her mother spent their evening in the security pens “talking to people and meeting people and sharing,” Camacho said.

“We met people from Korea, we met people from Guatemala that were actually here just for New Year’s Eve, so it has been pretty cool,” she said.

While giddiness was expected to prevail at the televised event, some important global issues will be driven home, as well.

The Associated Press presented a news reel highlighting the most memorable events of 2019.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, were to help press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to 2020, followed by 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti.

Thousands of police officers were on hand for the festivities, plus more than 1,000 security cameras, helicopters and drones equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and super-zoom lenses.

Christina Genovese and Jessica Vanich, friends from Buffalo, New York, said the security line was about 30 minutes long when they arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s not as cold as Buffalo so we’re OK,” Genovese said.

Aubrey Fannin, who traveled from Kirkland, Washington, with her friend Kennedy Bryne, is optimistic for 2020.

“This is our year,” Fannin said moments after the clock struck midnight. “This is the world’s year. Let’s do it.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Hello, 2019: Revelry, reflection mark transition to new year

Filipinos cheer during a New Year countdown at the Eastwood Shopping Mall late Monday, Dec. 31, 2018 in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Filipinos welcome the New Year with the loudest noise possible including setting off powerful firecrackers in one of Asia's most violent celebrations. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

A worshipper prays as she takes her turn lying in a coffin at the Takien temple in suburban Bangkok, Thailand Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Worshippers believe that the coffin ceremony – symbolizing death and rebirth – helps them rid themselves of bad luck and are born again for a fresh start in the new year. (AP Photo/Sakchai lalit)

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. (Brendan Esposito/AAP via AP)

A woman prays in front of a wall of lanterns to celebrate the New Year at the Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Spectators watch as fireworks explode in front of Malaysia's landmark building, the Petronas Twin Towers, during the New Year's celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.(AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

Performers take selfies at the end of a countdown to the new year event in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

An NYPD officer uses a metal detector wand to search Times Square revelers entering Times Square to celebrate New Year's Eve on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Pope Francis kisses a statue of Baby Jesus as he celebrates a new year's eve vespers Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Fireworks explode over the London Eye during the New Year's eve celebrations after midnight in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A group of yellow vest protesters holds a board reading People requires justice, and spectators arrive to attend the New Year's Day celebrations on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Paris is preparing to hold its annual New Year's Eve celebrations on the Champs-Elysees under heavy security as some yellow vest protesters are planning to march on the famed avenue. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Fireworks light the sky above the Quadriga at the Brandenburg Gate shortly after midnight in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Hundred thousands of people celebrated New Year's Eve welcoming the new year 2019 in Germany's capital. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Revelers wait for midnight during the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square, as seen from above from the Marriott Marquis hotel, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Revelers wait for midnight during the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square, as seen from above from the Marriott Marquis hotel, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Fireworks explode over the London Eye during the New Year's eve celebrations after midnight in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Fireworks, concerts, spiritual services and political addresses abounded to mark the transition to 2019 as revelers around the globe bid farewell Monday to a year filled with challenges to many of the world’s most basic institutions, including political, trade and religious ones.

A look at how people around the world are ushering in 2019:

LONDON

Britons ushered in the new year with the familiar chimes of Big Ben, even though the world famous clock has been disconnected for more than a year because of a conservation project.

Parliament announced last week that the clock’s massive bell would sound to mark the new year with the help of a specially built electric mechanism to power the hammer, which weighs about 440 pounds (200 kilograms). The clock mechanism, which has kept time since 1859, has been dismantled as part of the renovation work.

WATCH: The U.K. rings in 2019 with fireworks over The London Eye and Elizabeth Tower #HappyNewYear2019 pic.twitter.com/DcIH7ixa3i

&mdash TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 1, 2019

New Year’s Eve without Big Ben would be positively un-British. The comforting chimes are used by TV and radio stations throughout Britain to herald the moment of transition from the old to the new year.

The focal point of London’s usually rowdy celebrations was fireworks display on the Victoria Embankment at the side of the River Thames. Police warned people without a ticket for the sold-out event to make other celebration plans.

PARIS

Parisians and tourists gathered on the Champs-Elysees to celebrate New Year’s Eve under heavy security.

Anti-government protesters from the yellow vest movement have issued calls on social media for “festive” demonstrations on the famous avenue.

Paris police set up a security perimeter in the area, with bag searches, a ban on alcohol and traffic restrictions. The Interior Ministry said Sunday that the heavy security measures are needed because of a “high terrorist threat” and concerns about “non-declared protests.”

President Emmanuel Macron gave his traditional New Year address to briefly lay out his priorities for 2019, as some protesters angry over high taxes and his pro-business policies plan to continue their demonstrations in coming weeks.

Ahead of midnight, a light show illustrating the theme of brotherhood took place on the Arc de Triomphe monument at the top of the Champs-Elysees.

BERLIN

Tens of thousands of people celebrated the start of 2019 at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.

The annual New Year’s celebrations took place amid tight security, with about 1,300 officers deployed throughout the heart of the German capital and revelers banned from taking fireworks, bottles or large bags into the fenced-off party zone.

By midnight, Berlin police reported fewer incidents than in previous years.

VATICAN CITY

Pope Francis has rounded out the most problematic year of his papacy by presiding over a vespers service and praying before the Vatican’s giant sand sculpture Nativity scene.

During his homily Monday, Francis lamented how many people spent 2018 living on the edge of dignity, homeless or forced into modern forms of slavery. Francis noted that Rome alone counts some 10,000 homeless and said: “During the winter their situation is particularly hard.”

Accompanied by his chief alms-giver, Francis then walked out into St. Peter’s Square, where he greeted pilgrims and prayed before the Nativity scene, carved out of 720 tons of packed sand.

On Tuesday, Francis will celebrate Mass to mark the start of a new year and officially leave behind 2018, which saw a new eruption of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Fireworks crackled at Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.

The fireworks replaced last year’s somewhat anticlimactic LED lightshow that ran down the facade of the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) tower.

Cafes and restaurants with a view of the Burj Khalifa charge a premium for their locale on New Year’s Eve. Casual sandwich chain Pret a Manger, for example, charged $817 for a table of four. That price gets you hot and cold drinks and some canapes. For burgers near the action, fast food chain Five Guys charged $408 per person for unlimited burgers, hotdogs, fries, milkshakes and soda.

Elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates, the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah attempted to set a new Guinness World Record with the longest straight-line display of fireworks reaching 7.35 miles (11.83 kilometers).

THAILAND

While many celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks, hundreds of Thais traveled to Takien Temple in a suburb of Bangkok to lie inside coffins for traditional funeral rituals.

Participants believe the ceremony — symbolizing death and rebirth — helps rid them of bad luck and allows them to be born again for a fresh start in the new year.

They held flowers and incense in their hands as monks covered them with pink sheets and chanted prayers for the dead.

“It wasn’t scary or anything. It is our belief that it will help us get rid of bad luck and bring good fortune to our life,” said Busaba Yookong, who came to the temple with her family.

PHILIPPINES

Dozens of people have been injured ahead of New Year’s Eve, when many across the Philippines set off powerful firecrackers in one of Asia’s most violent celebrations despite a government scare campaign and threats of arrests.

The Department of Health said it has recorded more than 50 firecracker injuries in the past 10 days. That is expected to increase as Filipinos usher in 2019.

Officials have urged centralized fireworks displays to discourage wild and sometimes fatal merrymaking.

The notorious tradition, worsened by celebratory gunfire, stems from a Chinese-influenced belief that noise drives away evil and misfortune.

Earlier Monday, suspected Muslim militants remotely detonated a bomb near the entrance of a mall in Cotabato as people did last-minute shopping ahead of celebrations. Officials said at least two people were killed and nearly 30 wounded.

CHINA

New Year’s Eve isn’t celebrated widely in mainland China, where the lunar New Year in February is a more important holiday. But countdown events were held in major cities, and some of the faithful headed to Buddhist temples for bell-ringing and prayers.

Beijing held a gala with VIP guests at the main site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The event looked ahead to the 2022 Winter Games, which also will be held in the Chinese capital.

Outdoor revelers in Beijing had to brave temperatures well below freezing.

Additional police were deployed in parts of Shanghai, where a New Year’s Eve stampede in 2014 killed 36 people.

In Hong Kong, festive lights on skyscrapers provided the backdrop for a fireworks, music and light show over Victoria Harbor on a chilly evening.

KIRIBATI

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati was the first in the world to welcome the new year, greeting 2019 with muted celebrations after spending 2018 on the front line of the battle against climate change.

Kiribati is made up of low-lying atolls along the equator which intersect three time zones, the first of which sees the new year 14 hours before midnight in London.

Much of the nation’s land mass, occupied by 110,000 people, is endangered by rising seas that have inundated coastal villages. The rising oceans have turned fresh water sources brackish, imperiling communities and raising doubts the nation will exist at the next New Year.

Former President Anote Tong said the only future for Kiribati may be mass migration.

The new year was welcomed in the capital, Tarawa, with church services and mostly quiet private celebrations.

AUCKLAND

Auckland, New Zealand welcomed 2019 with fireworks over the Auckland Sky Tower and a first-time ever light show on Auckland Harbour bridge. Auckland is the first major city to welcome the new year.

AUSTRALIA

An estimated million people crowded Sydney Harbor as Australia’s largest city rang in the new year with a spectacular, soul-tinged fireworks celebration.

One of the most complex displays in Australia’s history included gold, purple and silver fireworks pulsating to the tune of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” made famous by Aretha Franklin, who died in August. The show used 8.5 tons of fireworks and featured more than 100,000 pyrotechnic effects.

Earlier, a thunderstorm drenched tens of thousands of people as they gathered for the traditional display, creating a show of its own with dozens of lightning strikes.

In Melbourne, 14 tons of fireworks deployed on the ground and on roofs of 22 buildings produced special effects including flying dragons. In Brisbane, people watched as fireworks exploded from five barges moored on the Brisbane River.

SOUTH KOREA

After an eventful year that saw three inter-Korean summits and the easing of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, South Koreans entered 2019 with hopes that the hard-won detente will expand into a stable peace.

Thousands of South Koreans filled the streets of the capital, Seoul, for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall. Dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included famous surgeon Lee Guk-jong, who successfully operated on a North Korean soldier who escaped to South Korea in 2017 in a hail of bullets fired by his comrades.

A “peace bell” was tolled at Imjingak, a pavilion near the border with North Korea.

NEW YORK

Snoop Dogg, Sting and Christina Aguilera will welcome 2019 in a packed Times Square along with revelers from around the world who come to see the traditional crystal ball drop.

A drenching rain hasn’t stopped crowds from packing the area ahead of the made-for-TV extravaganza.

The celebration will take place under tight security, with partygoers checked for weapons and then herded into pens, ringed by metal barricades, where they wait for the stroke of midnight.

But the weather forced police to scrap plans to fly a drone to help keep watch over the crowd.

Partygoers were paying up to $10 for plastic ponchos trying to stay dry. Umbrellas are banned for security reasons.

LAS VEGAS

No place does flashy like Las Vegas. It will ring in 2019 with fireworks shot from casino-resorts and superstar performances from Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani and others.

Celebratory midnight toasts will be anchored by an 8-minute firework show on the Las Vegas Strip. The pyrotechnics will be choreographed to a soundtrack that includes Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady,” Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” and Dion’s version of “I Drove All Night”.

Live performances will be held on outdoor stages, and big-name performers will carry on the celebrations inside casino venues.

New Year’s Eve is worth more than $400 million to Vegas.

Security is a high priority for police on the Las Vegas Strip, where a gunman in 2017 opened fire on a country music festival, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds of others.

Police, including rooftop snipers and plainclothes and uniformed officers, will be out in full force along with federal agents. Authorities are also restricting revelers from bringing backpacks, ice chests, strollers and glass items to the street celebrations.


SUBSCRIBE NOW Daily News

NEW YORK (AP) — Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City’s Times Square.

In one of the globe’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole. Throngs of people cheered and sang along to the X Ambassadors’ soul-stirring rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” just before midnight.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The frenzied moment of celebration came after many hours of waiting for much of the crowd.

Eric and Aileen Sanchez-Himes brought their son and nephew from Framingham, Massachuetts, to experience what they consider a “bucket list item.” Eric packed granola bars and water in his coat in case they got hungry. They arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“I grew up in New York, in Brooklyn and the Bronx and I’ve never done this and this was the first time for us and what better year than 2020 to do this,” Aileen said.

Mathieu Plesotsky, 25, visiting from Hesse, Germany, said he wanted to be a part of the spectacle after watching it for years on TV. He arrived in Times Square at 1 p.m. with his girlfriend and bopped along to the performers while waiting for the ball to drop.

“We’ve just stayed, stand, tried not to pee, danced to the Village People,” he said.

Ever since the NYPD tightened security and began cracking down on public drinking years ago, Times Square on New Year’s Eve has been an endurance contest as much as a raucous celebration.

Many people arrive before noon to get a spot close to the action. Alcohol is banned. Spectators enter through a security screening gauntlet to enter pens they cannot leave, including to use the bathroom, if they hope to return.

The weather can be brutal.

When revelers rang in 2018, it was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius). For the dawn of 2019, rain poured throughout the evening, leaving puddles on the performance stages.

The weather seemed perfect Tuesday, until it wasn’t. Rain, which wasn’t in the forecast, briefly drenched the crowd just before 8:30 p.m.

Still, the celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

“It was a dream, I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I’m here, and I’m thankful for that,” said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Amanda Camacho, 25, from Heredia, Costa Rica, said she and her mother spent their evening in the security pens “talking to people and meeting people and sharing,” Camacho said.

“We met people from Korea, we met people from Guatemala that were actually here just for New Year’s Eve, so it has been pretty cool,” she said.

While giddiness was expected to prevail at the televised event, some important global issues will be driven home, as well.

The Associated Press presented a news reel highlighting the most memorable events of 2019.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, were to help press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to 2020, followed by 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti.

Thousands of police officers were on hand for the festivities, plus more than 1,000 security cameras, helicopters and drones equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and super-zoom lenses.

Christina Genovese and Jessica Vanich, friends from Buffalo, New York, said the security line was about 30 minutes long when they arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s not as cold as Buffalo so we’re OK,” Genovese said.

Aubrey Fannin, who traveled from Kirkland, Washington, with her friend Kennedy Bryne, is optimistic for 2020.

“This is our year,” Fannin said moments after the clock struck midnight. “This is the world’s year. Let’s do it.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Watch the video: Η Ελλάδα στην Ταξιδιωτική Έκθεση των New York Times (January 2022).