Aquavit, Herring, Bouillabaisse and Stone Fruits

2011/09/24 § 5 Comments

Dear Friends – I know it’s been a while.

And I’ve missed you all.  

But I’ve been unspeakably busy (in a really good way) and owe you many, many posts.  I still have leftover summer stories though fall has crept in slowly.

A friend posted a photo of an aquavit bottle which reminded me of one of my last summer dining adventure here in New York.  I had several errands in midtown east and was quite starved when I found myself in front of Aquavit.  And since I haven’t been there in years, I decided to pop in for lunch.

You will love the restaurant if you are into mid-century everything.  Look at the beautiful Arne Jacobsen Swan sofa set here.

And the Swan and Egg chairs.  And barstools.

Under the long, undulating, wood ceiling.

Even the plates, charger and cutlery are mid-century.

Here is what I had for lunch –

Assorted bread

with butter sitting on volcanic stone…

Matjes Herring

with pickled beets, red onion, egg, sour cream 

Scandinavian Bouillabaisse

with cod, mussels, root vegetables, parsley aioli 

(which I truly adored!)

Macerated Stone Fruits

vanilla panna cotta, long pepper ice cream, chocolate muesli

And although I did not have aquavit this time…I love looking at their display of housemade ones with the most delightful flavors –  anise, carraway and fennel, cucumber, horseradish, lemon and juniper, mango, lime and chili pepper, grapefruit, fig and cardammon, linie, and more.

Mmmmm….a great excuse to go back.  When the fall nights get chilly.

Though my days are absolutely rosy.

Hope yours are too!

xxx

Casa Mono…again and again…

2011/08/20 § 4 Comments

I think that I shall never tire of this Catalunyan Boqueria – inspired restaurant…

xxx

Shrimp

with Guindillas Vascas

Whole Sepia ala Plancha

with Salsa Verde

Ensalada Mono

with Manchego

Crispy Belly

with Sweet Corn and Blueberries

Crema Catalana

con Bunuelos

Cafe Cortado

Somehow….

I keep coming back to you, Casa Mono.

xxx

Madison Square Park and its Skyline

2011/08/10 § 2 Comments

When I think of Madison Square Park, I think Shake Shack (and its super long lines).  And nothing more.

I never tarried long enough to see just what a beautiful park it is and what a wonderful area it is in.

(Until this summer)

The park itself is tiny but restful and has interesting spaces…

A small circular reflecting pool with chairs and tables around it…somewhat reminding me of the big one at the Jardin de Tuilleries.  An enclosed playground for kids with water-spewing spirals.    Many benches under tall, leafy trees lining circular paths.  A small, black, tiered fountain…

A white sandy area used by yoga devotees every afternoon.

An oval lawn with rotating artwork such as Jaume Plensa’s Echo – a 44′ tall sculpture depicting a young girl’s face in a state of silence and reverie.

Conveying so much tranquility and peace amidst the din and swell of summer crowds…

And while standing in the middle of the Park, one sees the architectural wonders around it which makes this small area in the middle of the city my new favorite summer hangout.

The New York Life building with it’s pyramidal, golden crown.

The Flatiron building.

TheMetropolitan Life building with its 700-foot four faced marble clock.

The Empire State building.

And we haven’t even talked about the many wonderful coffee, beer and fine dining places surrounding the park which has taken much of my time and contributed to my penury.

Next post, I promise.

xxx

Cafe Sabarsky

2011/08/02 § 4 Comments

My other favorite cafe in New York City.

Viennese.  Old world and elegant.

Cozy booths by the large windows.  Dappled sunlight streaming in.  White marble-topped tables and black bentwood chairs.  White-apronned waiters in black ties.  Buffet table laden with cakes and pastries.  Lacy paper doilies.  Fireplace.  Grand crystal chandelier.

Klimt Tortehazelnut cake layered with bittersweet chocolate

Oh beautiful Vienna, you are on my mind.

xxx

Chelsea Market

2011/07/25 § 4 Comments

Walking is my favorite activity in New York.  

But not in the midst of a heatwave like we have now.  Where I melt in a puddle of sweat before I even reach the end of the block.

This is when I, who don’t like malls, actually long for one.  To find shops and eateries under one air-conditioned roof is a godsend on days like these.  So thank heavens for Chelsea Market (which isn’t really a mall but will do for my purposes).  It used to be the old Nabisco factory and this now enclosed urban retail arcade has retained many wonderful architectural features such as…

…exposed old bricks and pipes, vintage clocks, lamps and ceiling fans, corrugated iron sheets…

…water wells and the like – that I absolutely adore!

The market is a long, winding alley of shops selling local and organic produce, fresh seafood, gourmet items, baskets, plants and flowers.  Plus tiny outposts of some of the city’s best deli, brunch and sandwich places….

My good friend and I feasted on lobsters, oysters, salmon sandwiches, lemonades, eldelflower bubblies

…and gelato – before braving the searing heat outside.

So glad New York has Chelsea Market!

xxx

NYC Summer: Little Italy Street Fair

2011/07/22 § 2 Comments

Many, many weeks ago (when it wasn’t this ridiculously hot yet), we chanced upon a lovely street fair in Little Italy.

But it just had to be when we were whiling time waiting for the restaurant we reserved in (that we’ve been dying to go to) to start seating.  We dared not try any of the delectable street food at the risk of ruining our four (make that six) course dinner.

So J played shoot-the-hoop instead.  And we came sooooo close to winning a giant stuffed wolf!  Then we tried our hand at dice.  With no better luck.  But in consolation, we were given a Winnie-the-Pooh toy.  Yay!

We drooled over fruits and mallows dipped in chocolate and sprinkles…

Grilled Chicken!  Shishkabob!  Stuffed Artichokes!

All sorts of fried pastries…

Corn on a cob.

We prayed to Saint Anthony

And passed by many more stalls of clothes, trinkets, toys, ices, chinese reflexology, etc., etc.

Wish we had more time to dally.  Wish we could have tried even one.

Wish we’ll chance upon another…

xxx

Millesime

2011/07/19 § 4 Comments

A dear, dear friend was in town.   So a long, lingering lunch was in order.  We met at Millesime.

And were seated at this alcove balcony table overlooking the elegant lobby.

Many stories were told over wonderful dishes.

Gazpacho Soup

 Salmon Tartare 

Aquavit, Fennel, Sweet Mustard 

 Chicken Paillard 

Figs, Arugula & Feta Cheese 

 Linguine Piperade 

Rock Shrimp & Basil 

 Strawberry Soup 

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream & Balsamic 

Chocolate Almond Tart 

Raspberry Ice Cream, Almond Brittle 

We even had a great view of a fashion photoshoot from our balcony seats…

Hope you had a great time in NYC, Mr. B!

xxx

My Furry Friends

2011/07/17 § 17 Comments

Meet my lovable furry friends who came to visit and who I’m visiting this summer.  They’ve been the perfect houseguest and companion.

Here is James Arthur D (aka Artie).

Artie’s so great to walk around the streets with, keeping in step with me and stopping at intersections.  He’s so well-behaved and doesn’t fuss even when he has to wait outside restaurants while we’re brunching.  Neither does he complain in the company of hysterical people watching a mad game of futbol…

He’s the cutest little dog!

And this is ImmanueI Kant (aka Manny) who is also Artie’s friend

He’s got to be the sweetest cat around.  See how he sleeps with me…with his arms extended over my arm, as in a hug.

Or with his paw and head draped over an arm…

He sits patiently while I’m in front of the computer for hours…and when he can’t take it anymore, actually stands and reaches over the chair and taps my back.  And when he thinks it’s bedtime, he starts jumping up and down the bed to tell me it’s time for me to sleep as well.

He loooooves to sleep…

And even reads the blog with me…

He doesn’t content himself with nestling in the crook of my arms…

One morning, I woke up with this furry ball snoozing on top of my chest (fat belly, four legs, and all), his head on my shoulders.  Snoring….

Don’t I have the most adorable friends??!!

xxx

NYC Summer: Highline Park

2011/07/16 § 2 Comments

I’ve been wanting to go to the Highline Park for sooo long.

I plan to go every time I have friends from out of town.  And Lord knows, we try.  But somehow, we just never manage to get there.  We invariably give up around the 8th avenue mark.  All sorts of excuses crop up, from physical fatigue to heat and hunger.  And my friend/s just have to sit in a cafe, pronto.  They refuse to take another step.  And so –  10th avenue seemed like another continent altogether.  Especially with visiting friends who just don’t want to walk  (you know who you are :D).

Summer passed. Then Fall. Winter. Spring. And it’s another Summer.  I finally got to go.  Last week.

And I loved it!

Love how this abandoned elevated railtrack was redesigned as an aerial greenway and park, resulting in a renaissance of the stagnant and unremarkable neighborhood alongside it.

I love the prairie plants, the woodland trees, the smell of  grass and leaves, the different sections, the wooden planks, the flat wading pool, the benches extending from deck planks, the Standard Hotel straddling it, a unique view of the city – from the river to the streets, to building tops, to apartment balconies.

I love how modern and organic it seems yet thoroughly retaining it’s industrial past.

It reminds me of the Lurie Garden in Chicago, at the Millenium Park, which is one of my favorite parks in the world.  That small enclosure of wilderness and aromatics.  Looking out onto the most beautiful architecture past the hedges.  Highland Park is more long and narrow.  More spread out.  But as beautiful.

The linear walk looks out to the shops and cafes of the Meatpacking District

And the super cute, bashful, giant fiberglass mouse (Companion, Passing Through) covering his eyes with his hands by artist, KAWS, outside the Standard Hotel…

Here is the flowing stream of water that children (and adults) love to frolic in…

The outdoor cafe with a view of the river…

The wooden bleacher section overlooking street traffic…

The many, varied buildings on view…

The grassy picnic and sunbathing area…

…surrounded by wonderful new glass and old brick buildings…

Just an absolutely beautiful place in the city to spend the day in…

Highline Park – you are my new favorite place…:D

xxx

MoMa: A Day with Albers, Kahlo, Picasso

2011/07/12 § 8 Comments

More beautiful works at the Museum of Modern Art

Picasso.  Those cubist women scared me when I was young. I thought they were ugly and distorted.  It took a long time for me to see the light.  That bright, southern light infusing most of Picasso’s painting.  And to appreciate the angles.  After which, all art seem drab, dull and mannered beside.

Matisse.  It is easy to like Matisse paintings.  There is nothing so jarring in them nor conceptually difficult.  The blocks of colors are quite lovely, in fact.  The pinks and the greens in the painting below contrast so wonderfully with the black.  And the second is just so evocative of Paris.  Those railings…

Monet.  Another one of those artists whose fame I didn’t understand until I saw his works in real life.    None of those blurry paintings I saw in books called out to me.  Then I went to  Giverny.  It was the height of summer.  The garden was in bloom.  Lush and ripe.  I still didn’t see how the paintings depicted the perfect clarity of those waterlilies and the pont japonais in view.  I had to see more.  I spent an afternoon at Musee Marmottan.  Staring.  From a distance.  And then I started seeing undulating waves.  Sunlight streaming through haystack needles.  Black singular strokes turning into men with hats and women with umbrellas.  Briskly walking.  I couldn’t get over the movement in the paintings.  And I started to covet.  I finally understood why people paid hundred millions for these…

Josef Albers.  I first saw these series of squares in an interior design magazine.  The featured home owner collected them.  And I couldn’t figure out why.  What was so great about squares superimposed upon another?  But they become more intriguing and interesting as I saw more of them and each painting’s different color combinations.  Some squares seem to advance in space or recede.  Some colors and some frames seem to float.  Albers was supposed to have worked on the exact mathematical dimension of each square to achieve the optical effects.  I’ve loved them since and never tire of looking at them.

Frida Kahlo.  One of the many self-portraits of this beautiful, talented and storied artist.

More art – sculptures by Alberto Giacometti…

Figurengruppe by German artist Katharina Fritsche at the sculpture garden…

Finally, drinks at The Modern to cap the wonderful day with visiting friends…

xxx

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