Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Link Fest! Also, NYC is Great.

The whole reason why I found myself in New York was to get my Visa taken care of with the embassy.  It couldn't have been done from France, so a trip back was in order.  Things being what they are, I faced a few delays and ended up being there for a bit longer than planned- a little over two week. 

Oh!  And we were right across the street from Central Park, and even though it was a frozen bitter place to be, I would grab my camera and bundle up and trudge along in my hiking boots.  A couple days later, the snow was gone.  It never sticks around for long here.

But, being New York, its filled with surprises, like crazy tourist who propose in the snow on a wee hill in on an afternoon so cold, I thought the red would never leave my cheeks.  

And ladies wearing hijabs sledding down a wee hill, having a blast.

Oh, you smug bastard, letting your skis take up closet space for these few days you could use them.

One of the first things I did when I got to New York and got wind of the upcoming polar vortex, I went out and bought the most amazing winter jacket I could find.  I had a craving for a Speiwak jacket, a classic still-made in NYC line of outerwear.  I became obsessed with finding a more feminine version that their adopted-by-hiphop puffy coats, and I did indeed find.  It's a long, hooded wool coat with toggles and it was so warm.  As long as I had some wool tights or wool pants on, and a scarf around my face, I was comfortable enough to spend a couple hours outside at a time.  Which was good because I had a lot to do.

Aside from the social aspect of my trip, I had a lot of paperwork and lawyers who needed a friendly visit, some shopping and repair work, some preparatory moving to a new country work,  and the whole issue of all our stuff in storage.  Rather haphazardly, we decided to move everything into a storage pod to save money while we were in the area.  Because there was no climate control on the pod, we had to empty out our rather stunning stash of wine and beer- we had four or five large crates that we pulled out from storage- and we became quite popular as we dolled this out on anyone who would drink it or take it.  I wept a bit inside when some of this went away, but it's better than coming back to ruined, exploded bottles that have leaked all over my clothes and furniture.  It's best we do away with these now, and sleep it off tomorrow.

Some lovely discoveries and visits to old haunts....

Century 21 is still the best place to shop for cheap in NYC.  There is good reason why it is always mobbed with Euro types, because even imported goods from the EU are somehow cheaper there when they are last seasons'.  You are going to have to go diving for your size, but with patience and luck, you can really make out like a bandit.  Some finds:  A Frye handbag for a hair over $100 that I had mulled over at the Frye store in Soho while it was over $400, my favorite French perfume for 70% cheaper than Sephora, the biggest durable suitcase we could find to assist with the upcoming move, designer blue jeans that fit like gloves for $35 a pop, and, my favorite, cashmere tights and Smartwool Socks that were heavily discounted.   I'm not a shopper by any means, but not being able to afford much in Paris (except for during Soldes!) meant we were getting kind of threadbare and had ignored some needs longer than we perhaps should have....especially after Bryan had taken a dive into a pool in Costa Rica which disintegrated his boxer shorts so that a few tatters remained attached to the waistband and that was about it.  

I pretty much lived on Ramen and Udon while I was there.  When it is cold out, it's the only thing I want and I don't seem to get tired of variations of it.  Ippudo being, by far, the best.  Momofuko still has the pretty amazing soups and they are still rocking the best pork belly buns on the planet, but Ippudo soups are life-changing in their complexity and delicacy.  Menchenko Tei is still my go-to for every day, and they have totally respectable soups.

I will still get a little tearful in the spring as the time where I crave Ramen for every meal is over.

Oh, and then there were burgers.  Royale on Ave C used to be my neighborhood fave.  It still makes a totally respectable bar burger.  It's not the best burger, but it's a perfect burger, and they do really great onion rings as well.  On the fancy end of the spectrum, I had lunch with a friend at Delmonicos downtown and went for the burger and was not disappointed.  Plus, Delmonicos radiates this old-school New York charm that I find irresistible, with really professional waiters who are almost psychic to your needs.

There was a great exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum of the works of Jean Paul Gaultier.  Check it out if you can- it was an extensive collection and full of amazing costumes and couture of all mediums, with creepy projected faces on some of the mannequins.  

I don't smoke, but I loved this very French cigarette thigh-holster, with a dress cut for access.

It made me a tad homesick for Paris, if only because you can't find Camembert in the states and the Brie taste like crap.  Also, there was a Magritte exhibit at the MOMA that was pretty amazing and surreal.

While I didn't get to my old standby in Brooklyn, Tanoreen, I did make some new discoveries across the river.  Pizza at Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint that will make you cry, The General Green had good comfort food classics with a modern twist that was just fantastic to have a bottle of wine with friends mid-blizzard there.  A great cozy time was had, especially since not too many other people braved the weather that nice and we had the place to ourselves.  

I am not a brunch person at all, thinking it's overpriced and over-hyped, but I must admit, Sidecar in Brooklyn did it up right.  I generally prefer to do dim sum instead, but I didn't make it out to my fave, East Harbor Seafood Palace in Sunset Park this trip.  It's...transcendent.  I also visited an old haunt, Schezuan Gourmet, which brings the heat like no other.

I wanted to check out more theaters and shows while I was there, but ended up squeezing in only one- an interesting bit off Broadway dinner theater called Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.  It's based on War and Peace.  Go see it, it was fab!

I had several dreamy walks in Central Park.  It's the only thing that prevented me from needing a seatbelt extender on my next flight, I swear.

Oh, look, y'all are getting a Laduree!  Let the macaroon wars begin!  I did grab a baguette at the much-hyped  Eric Kaysier and was disappointed, but it was rather late in the day to be buying bread, so don't take my word for it.

I also got a chance to check out the dining scene in Hell's Kitchen.  I generally consider it too close to Times Square to harbor anything but celebrity-owned temples to mediocrity and Thai places with overly loud house music, but I found a friendly place to have cheese and wine, and another fine establishment that delivered emapanadas and arepas 24-7.  We also got pizza one night that had Gorgonzola, figs and honey on it that was pretty damn good.  I need to find out where we got that, as I ate it cold for breakfast the next morning after having dreams about it all night.

I had a Whole Foods right across the street, which was useful for all the wine and cheese parties that were going on.  Alas, it was a sobering reminder of why I moved away, as the customers there are rude and self-important like no others and would just as soon want to see you under the wheels of their shopping cart than alive and blocking their precious way.  Venturing in there was stressful, and I found myself unwilling to pay $7 for a wee bottle of artisinal tonic water when the 2 for $1 stuff at bodega down the street made gin just as tasty.

The Wayland became my new favorite cocktail bar.  I missed cocktails so, the ones in France were always watery and too sweet and I couldn't be bothered with them, and it didn't hurt Wayland had a delta blues duo wailing away the night I was there.

Some other finds:  I picked up some luggage organization pouches at Flight 001.  They have some quality products for travelers.  I also brought my old suitcase to get repaired at Lexington Luggage, and they were a class act and did a great job of saving something I would have otherwise thrown out.  

Other than that- I found a place that had bialys, which are still my preferred breakfast carb, and something no one outside of NYC knows about.  My dentist Dr. Urtula is still the best dentist in the world, and it's not just because there is a Doughnut Plant around the corner from his posh little practice.  I also spent too much time in Chelsea Market, where there is now a Num Pang, and then I spent too much time checking out rugs at the Moroccan importer there as well.

I spotted this large canvas by Alex Katz in the IBM lobby on the east side.  He's one of my favorites; he was born in Brooklyn but summered in Maine, and all his beach scenes are very quirky and comforting.

All of the above, and then some, was done in partnership with some rather fantastic people.    

Yeah, I miss New York.  It's quite indulgent.  Still, I'm done with it.  

On to the next adventure.  

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