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Six Hundred Big Ones

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Fun


SHORT TERM
Book a sweet weekend in the Hudson Valley.
Ride Metro-North 50 minutes to Peekskill, then cab it to Monteverde at Oldstone Manor, a 29-acre estate with six new garden rooms and a restaurant overseen by Allen & Delancey’s Neil Ferguson. Spend an afternoon hiking or at the spa, then do the locavore thing (farmhouse cheeses, line-caught halibut) beneath the restaurant’s grapevine trellis. The one-night “Rejuvenate & Refresh” package is $1,200 for two (28 Bear Mountain Bridge Rd., Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.; 914-372-1212).

MEDIUM TERM
Try out the city’s newest driving range.
The sparkling new Randall’s Island Golf Center opens officially May 14. Blow most of your rebate on four $130-an-hour private lessons with head pro Tom Sutter (he’s Mayor Bloomberg’s personal instructor). Or spread the wealth and invite the whole office to hit balls ($12 a bucket, $2 a club) at the 78-stall, two-tier driving range. Spend any leftovers on Heinekens and Angus burgers afterward at the soon-to-open beer garden (1 Randall’s Island; 212-427-5689).

LONG TERM
Refresh your camping gear.
You’ve had that tent since college. Upgrade with an Escape 2 two-man tent; it’s a cinch to pitch ($149). Add two Boreal Switchback sleeping bags ($99 each) and two Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite pads ($35 each). For nights, the Apollo lantern has a dimmer switch ($50). For mornings, Jetboil’s Java cup includes a French press ($110) (Eastern Mountain Sports, 591 Broadway, nr. Houston St.; 212-966-8730).


Food


SHORT TERM
Treat your five closest friends to eels.
Piballes, exotic baby glass eels prized in the Basque country for their linguinelike texture and creamy taste, are in season only three weeks of the year. This week, they arrive at Le Bernardin, but they’re not on the menu—you have to ask for them. The eels are thrown live into a sauté pan with red-pepper oil, garlic, and lemon, and are garnished with Espelette peppers. Each order costs $100, so get six for the table (155 W. 51st St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-554-1515).

MEDIUM TERM
Become a wine person.
Buy a one-year membership to the wine auction house Acker, Merrall & Condit’s Platinum Wine Club. Once a month, a rare and unusual bottle will arrive along with a newsletter on the vintage as well as tasting notes, food pairings, and a recipe. Start this week and your first bottle will be a 2005 Testarossa Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay, with hints of passion fruit, pear, almond, and smoke. Pair it with roast duck breast, and toast Congress for its munificence (212-787-1700 or ackerstore.com).

LONG TERM
Become cheese people.
A Murray’s Cheese Shop fromager will come to your house and teach you and eleven friends what goes best with a tangy young goat cheese versus a stinky washed-rind versus a strong and salty blue. A 90-minute group lesson covers how to compose a cheese plate and how to talk the cheese talk—“This bloomy cheese smells like hay with a truffly flavor … ” Participants get to sample six different Murray’s selections ($600 for a group of twelve; 254 Bleecker St., nr. Cornelia St.; 212-243-3289, ext. 12).


Charity


SHORT TERM
Send a girl to summer camp by shopping.
Drop by the Sweet Things Bake Shop and La Tiendita booths, both run by the Lower Eastside Girls Club, at the Essex Street Market on Saturdays, and pick up Mexican fair-trade clay pots (from $25), a box of mini cupcakes ($10), handmade greeting cards (3 for $5), and a canvas bag to carry it all ($10). Your remaining bucks can go to fully funding a week of sleepaway camp for one girl. In about 75 percent of cases, it’s the girl’s first time away from New York (Essex Street Market, 120 Essex St., at Delancey St.; Girls Club, 212-982- 1633 or girlsclub.org).

MEDIUM TERM
Give someone a loaner.
Small-time loans to new immigrants (especially those with no credit history) can help them start a business or expand an existing enterprise. A new initiative by the micro-lender Accion New York rolls individual donations into loans for recent immigrants or minorities. Insignificant though it may seem, your $600 can help create and maintain two jobs for a small-business owner who needs a little extra money for payroll (212-387-0377 or accionnewyork.org/donate).

LONG TERM
Turn a tar beach green.
Do your part to lower city temperatures and improve air quality by donating to Sustainable South Bronx, an environmental group that runs a green-roof installation business. Ask that your contribution be earmarked for the organization’s SmartRoofs program, which has installed flowering sedum plants on a historic brownstone and native strawberries on a 1,500-square-foot industrial warehouse.

CONTRIBUTORS: Alec Appelbaum, Sarah Bernard, Elizabeth Brown, Joanna Goddard, Kaija Helmetag, Ben Mathis-Lilley


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