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Around the World in Five New York Boroughs

From a Brazilian samba club to an Indian spice shop, here’s how to eat, drink, shop and sweat your way around the world without ever leaving the Big Apple.

Every Wednesday, live music and smiling ex-pats turn Nublu nightclub into a joyous sweatbox of samba and forró, a dance that originated in northeastern Brazil. You won’t hear much English at this tiny, gritty and much-loved Alphabet City institution. But don’t fret the language barrier; your Brazilian dance moves will do the talking for you.

Caffé RomaPhoto courtesy of Caffé Roma 

What’s more important to Italians: keeping it all in the family or brewing a proper espresso? Patrons of Little Italy’s Caffé Roma don’t have to choose. Loyal to its familial lineage since 1891, this old-school Italian pastry shop makes some of the most authentic cannoli, tiramisu and yes, espresso, this side of the Atlantic. What’s that heavenly smell? Possibly a wedding cake cooling in the kitchen. Caffé Roma’s baked goods are an Italian New Yorker ritual.

When it comes to Russian baths or banya, Brooklyn’s Mermaid Spa is the real deal. (A banya, for the uninitiated, is a traditional Eastern European sauna where heated stones generate warmth and water tossed on the stones creates humidity.) Take a scorching sauna or steam bath followed by a bold leap into ice water or a frigid stroll through a freezer. Located near Coney Island, the spa also offers traditional Russian massage, which includes being beaten (gently) by a leafy bundle of twigs. Don’t leave without ordering the goulash (washed down with a glass of vodka) from the on-site restaurant. Na zdorovie!

If you could cram Montreal into a bagel with cream cheese, it would taste like the Mile End Delicatessen. Crowds flock to this Brooklyn restaurant for reinvented Jewish delicacies. Named after the Montreal neighbourhood, Mile End’s pièces de résistance include smoked meat and hand-rolled St-Viateur bagels. And the knishes, oy! Now if only New Yorkers could be as enthralled by the two-cheek kiss.

Sleep No MoreSleep No More (photo by Robin Roemer)

Great Britain
London theatre company Punchdrunk has captivated New York audiences with its “immersive” phenomenon Sleep No More, a wordless film-noir retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Staged in the McKittrick hotel, a custom-designed space in Chelsea, Sleep No More invites masked audiences to wander the 10,000-square-foot “theatre” as scenes from the legendary British playwright’s script unfold before their eyes.

Kalustyan’s Spices and SweetsPhoto courtesy of Jazz Guy NYC

Indian food is all about home cooking, so what better way to experience India in New York than to make it yourself? Stuff your carry-on with spices galore at Kalustyan’s Spices and Sweets. The specialty gourmet shop, hidden in Murray Hill, sells more than 4,000 varieties of quality international spices, herbs, coffees, teas, sweets and snacks, including more than 100 kinds of lentils and dals. They hail not only from India but also from such countries as Israel, China and Greece.



Getting There

Air Canada is the only carrier to operate from Canada to all three major New York City airports, offering the most non-stop service from Canada to the New York City area.

Comments… or add another

Kim O'Brien-Kendall

Tuesday, April 9th 2013 07:23
Wow, I want to visit New York after that insight to those very interesting things....when can we go and start the experience!!!

Jim @NeverStopTraveling

Friday, April 19th 2013 10:57
I just happened upon this article and as a former New Yorker it brought back many good memories. Thanks!
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