Casa Mono…again and again…

2011/08/20 § 4 Comments

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



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


I keep coming back to you, Casa Mono.



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!


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…



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!


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


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…


MoMa: A Day with Twombly, Breuer, Warhol

2011/07/04 § 2 Comments

I LOVE museums.  

Except I usually have to be nudged, pushed and dragged to go to one.  

I have an ingrained resistance to museums.  I don’t like being cooped inside buildings for hours.  I do that for work.  But not for leisure.  Although, I don’t seem to have this problem when shopping.  And I always think museums are boring.  But they’re not!  I have (as an adult) never been bored inside one.  So I really don’t know why I think that. It must be the school trips we had when we were young.  Having to troop in line and forced to listen to a docent point out things I didn’t appreciate or understand and not being able to leave probably caused this.

Just recently, dear friends from Brussels were in town and we spent an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art.  And had lots of fun.  I always have fun when I go to MoMa, actually.  We wandered through floors and halls of classic modern works and temporary exhibits, some of which were quite graphic, sometimes violent or sexual, and all thought-provoking.

I was fascinated by these newspaper front pages that had sections blocked in black and white and were suddenly transformed from newsprint to contemporary art.  Surely, I could have done these myself!  If I only thought of it, of course.

I could stay for hours in this room with walls covered in many different kinds of digital fonts.

Then we come to the Furniture room.

I now appreciate modern furniture.  Even plywood ones, which many years ago I couldn’t abide.

There is nothing I  like more than interior and furniture designs.  I grew up in a very modern ’50s glass house, which I didn’t like too much (and so even when I was very young, I was redesigning the house to my liking, in my mind).  I always thought it was cold and too open and our furniture were edgy and hard.  I think, as a child, I really wanted to live in a tiny rose-covered cottage with comfy tables and cushioned chairs.  What I liked best about our house was the big front area, which was a concrete lawn with a terraced garden.  But it would have been so much better had it been a grassy lawn instead.

I came to appreciate our house and the objects within, unfortunately, when it become derelict.  As I grew older, read and traveled more, I realized how very “modern” our house and furniture were and so many of our stuff are being copied or sought after and fetching absurd prices in the market.  Yet, we left them out in the sun and rain to crack, peel and turn ugly.

As I became interested in modern furniture, I travelled to Germany for a conference.  I didn’t know that included in the conference was a day tour of Weimar.  Imagine my delight when I saw the Bauhaus Museum.  While everyone was admiring the statue of Goethe and Schiller, I went inside the tiny museum and saw many original works from icons in the modern design field, in the birthplace of their movement.

From these inspirations, my ideal house has become more and more minimalist in structure.  A white box with white concrete floors.  There are certainly some modern furniture I long to have but I’m not a purist and  have always had eclectic taste.  For all that I want an uncluttered house, I also want romance so will most likely have a salon with an eight-feet tall baroque chandelier hanging from a twenty-foot high ceiling, filled with nothing but an antique chinese cabinet , a vintage french burlap covered sofa, an Yves Klein Table Rose, a pair of molded plywood Eames lounge chair or a pair of le Corbusier sling chairs or a pair of Breuer’s Wassily chairs ( I can never decide which pair I want more), one wall of books and art, lit by tens of candles at night and perfumed with vases of garden flowers.

Now back to reality and into the museum.  Jackson Pollock.  One: Number 31

I wish I was exposed to more and different kinds of art when I was younger instead of the mannered, realistic art that we were brought up to appreciate.  Maybe I would have realized that I could throw, splash and drip paint onto a canvass and find beauty and enlightenment there somehow.  I look at Pollock’s work and think – wow, I could have done that when I was 5.  But to innovate and work with new techniques at an older age obviously requires more talent and artistry than I could ever hope to have.

These large-sized photos by Boris Mikhailov set against the industrial city of Kharkov explores the circumstances of people left homeless by the collapse of the Soviet Union.  They document the “oppression, devastating poverty, and everyday reality of a disenfranchised community living on the margins of Russia’s new economic regime.”  Very moving.

The famous “Girl with Ball” by Roy Lichtenstein

And I really, really want this.  Not any of the Campbell Soup Cans.  Or the Marilyn Monroes.  Or his self-portraits.  I want this.  Rorschach.  Warhol.  What does it say of my state of mind?

And what does everyone think of this huge piece of concrete meat hanging from a hook?

A woman walking between Eva Hesse‘s Repetition Nineteen III, a collection of “anthropomorphic” empty containers and Lynda Benglis’ Modern Art Number 1 which I tell you is a pair of one bronze and one aluminum (shown on foreground) cast of a big turd.  It would be amusing to have one in the garden and have guests sit on the literal “slab of sh*t” while eating or drinking….

And here is a Cy Twombly sculpture, Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python), which attracted me because of the use of palm-leafed fans that we frequently use in the Philippines.

Amongst artists of the same genre, I love Twombly the most.  While I find many of Pollock’s work too heavy and dreary, Twombly’s paintings are visually light and refreshing, despite some explosive themes.  Through all the scribbles and splashes and drips, there is beautiful, luminous pale or arresting colors.  And stories.  And humongous flowers.

I also like many of Willem de Kooning‘s work such as Untitled XIXA Tree in Naples and Pirate.

So much art to see, so little time…


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