Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Breakfast at the ocean this morning.  We picked up bagels from our favorite shop and ate them in the cold, looking out over the waves. 

Back home in the yard under the great white pine, the crocuses are opening:

I find myself humming "Here Comes the Sun" at odd moments while I work on projects for clients today.  Spring must be here at last.

Tonight I'll be making spicy fried tofu, along with this delicious sriracha fried rice and some steamed greens with sesame oil and garlic.  

For dessert, I'm making homemade raspberry "ice cream."  In a blender, I pureed about 6 ounces frozen raspberries, 1 can coconut milk, and a couple tablespoons or so of raw honey.  The pink loveliness that resulted was divine. I poured it through a strainer to remove the seeds, then I popped it into the freezer.  So far, it seems to be freezing beautifully.  Tomorrow I'll let you know how it was!

I hope you are having a beautiful week, my friends!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Would-Be Archeologist in New York

Times Square

For me, travel is an archeological dig.  On the surface of a place there are the things we expect to find: the statues, fountains, buildings, and parks we see on every tourist website and in every travel guide.  Those things are fine, but they usually have very little to do with the everyday life of a place, and they tend to leave me wanting to run to the nearest hole-in-the-wall diner for a slice of something real.  So, I see an "attraction" like the current-day Times Square as the top layer in my dig.  Everything is obvious, commercialized, boring.  Once I emerge from the subway at 42nd Street, I can't wait to walk a few blocks over to get to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market.  There, the real fun of the dig begins.  I get to meet locals, haggle for bargains, and discover unexpected treasures. 

Hell's Kitchen Flea Market
A box of chandelier crystals at the flea
Treasures at the flea

I love getting a little lost in Greenwich Village, finding beautiful, one-of-a-kind shops I've never heard of, and eating cannoli at a local neighborhood bakery.

Incredible offerings at Pasticceria Rocco in the West Village
Venus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I also love wandering for hours at the Met or the Public Library, finding exhibitions by chance (like the Mary Cassatt prints at the library right now).

In the Reading Room at the NY Public Library

The beauty of traveling in a place like New York is that one's "digging" involves looking up as much as it does looking down--up at the cornices and pilasters and water towers and skyscrapers.  I especially like to stop, turn, and look back at where I've just walked, so I can see it from another direction.  I find some of my favorite discoveries this way.

And last but not least, seeing a city from above is always a good way to get a sense of its scope and scale.  I highly recommend taking the Roosevelt Island Tram (next to the Queensboro Bridge).  Mr. Magpie and I took it at sunset, and the views of Manhattan as we headed over the East River were spectacular.  It only takes a few minutes to get to Roosevelt Island, and then you can go exploring there or hop back on the tram and head back to 59th Street.  

View from the Roosevelt Island Tram at Sunset

Here are few links to some of the highlights from this last trip to New York, in no particular order.  I can't wait to go digging there again soon.

  • Kalustyan's ~ A fabulous spice and specialty foods market in Murray Hill.  
  • Pasticceria Rocco ~ Traditional Italian bakery on Bleecker Street in the Village
  • Cafe China ~ Unique and beautiful Chinese food in a 1930's Shanghai atmosphere on 37th St.
  • Alloro ~ Experimental Italian food--I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but the food is wonderful and fun--on the Upper East Side.
  • Chelsea Market ~ For a quick and delicious lunch for after you've been walking the High Line, stop by Chelsea Market in the old Nabisco Building.  Yes, it's for tourists, but it's lovely, and the food selection is great. 
  • Hell's Kitchen Flea Market ~ It wouldn't be a vacation for the Magpies without a trip to the flea.
  • The Frick ~ An awe-inspiring collection.
  • The Morgan Library ~ I can't believe I'd never been here before.  Book, library, and manuscript lovers must go here.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art ~ Always, of course.
  • The Mary Cassatt prints at the NY Public Library ~ they'll be up until June 23, 2013.
  • Washington Square Park ~ Yes, I love Central Park, but there's something magical about Washington Square.  It's a great place to have a picnic lunch, people-watch, listen to the various street performers, and get a strong sense of the neighborhood.  
Next trip: We'll be heading to the Neue Galerie and Cafe Sabarsky as well as the Noguchi Museum!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Muted New York

The Chrysler Building
Mr. Magpie and I spent last week in New York City, and I decided to take a break from the internet as much as possible while we were gone, which meant much more time for walking, thinking, taking pictures, and, of course, eating delicious food.  

We stayed at the apartment of wonderful friends on the Upper East Side.  I much prefer this to staying in a hotel, as it provides a home base from which to explore.  On this trip it helped me get to know Manhattan much better than ever before. I also spent a full day with my cousin, his wife, and their son, who live in Brooklyn, and they introduced me to fabulous restaurants and sights I never would have found on my own.  

Most importantly, Mr. M. and I both got to know the NYC subway system quite well, so I now feel at ease finding my way around, which makes for much more exciting adventures!  While he is holed away in the library doing research, I get to go exploring places I have always wanted to visit.  I'll have some very colorful photos to show you of sights off the beaten tourist track, but for today, I thought I'd share a few of the more muted shots from the trip.  It was quite stormy, cold, and dark for most of the week, and these photos reflect that, especially the ones taken from the Staten Island Ferry.  I know most of us imagine seeing the Statue of Liberty in a clear blue day, but there is something quite beautiful about seeing her in the middle of a very messy snow/sleet/rain storm.  Mr. M. had family who came to the United States by way of Ellis Island, so I think it was especially moving for him.

One of the famous lions at the NY Public Library
In the lobby of the NY Public Library

Looking up in Bryant Park

Strolling Bleecker Street in a storm

We chose our next house on this street in Greenwich Village  ;)

Staten Island Ferry Terminal in sleet and snow

On the ferry

Looking over at the Statue of Liberty