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

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

Apple, Soho, Nespresso

2011/07/01 § 9 Comments

My computer crashed.  Which gave me an excuse to go to Soho to have it fixed. (Not that I ever needed an excuse to go)

There’s always something interesting to see in Soho.

Vintage clothes sold in street corners…

…the Apple store with its fantastic staircase and skylight (and the dizzying array of gadgets I long to have) 

…subway map embedded on the street…

…a door to what I can only presume is Mad Max’s residence…or that opens up to the Thunderdome.

I never get tired of the buildings there and just watching people walk by.  I could easily come up with a fashion photographer’s portfolio standing in one corner for five minutes.  There are so many interesting outfits.

The stress of having my computer crash on me also gave me an excuse to sit and recuperate inside the beautiful Nespresso boutique bar.   And order my other most favorite cake, Louvre.  Paired with a ristretto latte.

There is a silver lining to everything, n’est-ce pas?

xxx

Charlottes, eclaires, tartes, sorbets, crumbles and everything Raspberry

2011/06/28 § 10 Comments

I dropped by the Farmer’s Market last weekend and saw tables crammed with raspberries.

Raspberries are my favorite dessert berries.

They are especially refreshing in the summertime.  Raspberry-rhubarb crumble showing up on the menu signals the season.

This raspberry infatuation started in France.

There, I gazed and marvelled everyday at the beautiful tiny cakes displayed on patisserie windows.  I could never choose what’s the prettiest or what to try first.  But I especially adored the ones with raspberries sitting daintily on top.  Finally, I went in and picked a charlotte aux framboises.  And never looked back.  I couldn’t get enough of the light, creamy, refreshing cake.   Since then, without fail, I would drop by the village patisserie to get one.  I would rush home so I could start eating.  But I end up nibbling on my jewel of a cake while walking through the park, more often than not.  

It became my end-of-the-day-walking-home treat.

In Paris, our usual after-dinner “sweets” at home was a bowl of simple fromage blanc with confiture de framboise.

Here in New York, I add a dollop of raspberry jam to greek yogurt, which works just as well.

I get more of my raspberry fix  from Financier with their tarte chocolat – framboise

and their fabulous chocolate raspberry eclairs…

…which Serious Eats described as choux pastry “split open and lined with custard, dotted with fresh raspberries and finished with a whirl of thick whipped, lightly sweetened cream. Finally, a scatter of toasty slivered almonds. Meant to be eaten in hand—but it can get awfully messy, so proceed with caution. The rewards are delicious.”  

They are very much, indeed.

For a summer cooler, nothing beats Berthillon’s framboise sorbet.  So tart and intense.  Pure raspberry essence in ice and cone.

But that shall have to wait til my next trip to Paris.

In the meantime, here in my beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood, I settle for the Berry Crumble ice cream (paired with Salted Caramel ice cream and pretzels) from General Greene that’s a perfect pick-me-up on sweltering days.

I love raspberries!

xxx

Summer…and Roses…are here

2011/06/05 § 4 Comments

It’s in one of those weekend walkabouts that I noticed a shaded restaurant tucked within a courtyard and a walled garden right beside.  With a riot of red roses craning for attention.  Down the street…the most beautiful yellow roses spilling out of iron fences.  Eight feet tall trees adorned with delicate white roses.  Tiny pink ones climbing a townhouse window.  Fiery orange ones crowning terracota urns.

Everyday since, I see more roses gorgeously outdoing each other in beauty, in scent, in color…

Summer…after a long wait…you are finally here

And what a way to announce yourself…

xxx

My Perfect Rainy Day {In Brooklyn}

2011/05/26 § 9 Comments

My neighborhood is especially pretty in the rain.  I love walking under the canopy of its tree-lined streets and walking past water-drenched stoops and planters.

Then have  breakfast in a cute and cozy, garden-level French bistro and fortify myself with pan-seared tuna burger, salad greens and strong black coffee while reading magazines.

Then its off to a stroll around the neighborhood, enjoying one street in particular, filled with bygone mansions and stand-alone houses (sooo un-New York), most of which have been turned into school buildings.

Then I drop by the park, to walk up and down its undulating paths, sit amidst the greenery, walk in puddles, watch people dip their boots in puddles, listen to kids laughing and dogs barking while at play….and thank the Lord for all this beauty.

After leisurely kissing both wind and rain, I seek shelter in another favorite dining place to lounge in its comfy, colored cushions and savor sweet, salty, succulent oysters…while watching droplets fall from grey skies…

Then it’s time to head home to the comforts of my bed and finish reading the rest of my books…

Don’t you agree that this is just a perfect rainy day?

xxx

My Perfect Rainy Day {In Manhattan}

2011/05/23 § 6 Comments

It started with a bowl of wonton noodle soup, bahn mi and vietnamese rice pancake shared with a lovely friend for lunch (and a shakerful of Rye Manhattan)…

…as we chatted and swapped stories (and evesdropped on the Governor seated beside us) while taking in THIS view…

Then a  trek across Central Park in the mud and rain…

(which was fairly deserted and sparkling and decidedly gorgeous)

Back to the madding crowd  on the other side …to oggle at the luxurious shops along Madison Avenue

(when I win the lotto, I will buy everything displayed on one shop window)

Then a visit to fave La Maison du Chocolat…

…for a slice of Pistachesabayon with carribean dark chocolate, pistachio, cocoa dacquoise, almond and hazelnut feuillitine – avec Cafe Creme.  Sometimes, I love it when simple things are turned into ceremonies.  Cake and coffee or tea served in fine china and silverware.  Rough sugar cubes and mini chocolate balls in separate tiny plates.  A complimentary ganache.  To accompany the coffee.  Served by soft-spoken old gentlemen or ladies in impeccable suits and uniforms.  Who, delightfully, speak to me in French.  It’s so old world…and somehow so civilized… 

After a lovely time at la maison, it was time to admire real maisons – beautiful townhouses dotting the Upper East Side…

And then it’s back home.   And what do I find waiting for me?

A package!  I wonder who it’s from and what’s inside…[I LOVE gifts and surprises! ]

Tan-tada-dan!  BOOKS!  The Game of Thrones books…from J!!!  {Thank you!!!} Yippeee!  Yay!!

And how much better can a rainy day get?!

With four books to keep me occupied and to make staying in bed even better than it already is…

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