beautiful day

beautiful marqueeWhat could make a horribly rainy and miserable day seem beautiful?  Why a matinee performance of Beautiful The Carol King Musical, of course.

And that was exactly my experience on a recent Saturday where I hopped an early train to NYC only to arrive in the midst of a torrential downpour. So I hunkered down inside Penn Station (the most disgusting place on earth) and waited. When the rain subsided enough to make a run for it under an umbrella, I ventured uptown 11 soggy blocks, grabbed a quick bite of falafel and vegetarian split pea soup (at Maoz, my favorite little Times Square chain joint) before heading out in the rain again to the theater.

Packed full to the gills (Broadway theaters pack ’em in so tight you can practically see dollar signs written on every seat), I was wet, squished, cranky and starting to wonder why I had even made the trip. And then the music began . . .

A veritable walk down memory lane of musical hits from the 50’s and 60’s written by Carole King and her then husband, Gerry Goffen, punctuated by even more hits written by their Brill Building co-workers, Cynthia Weill and Barry Mann:

  • Some Kind of Wonderful
  • Take Good Care of My Baby
  • Will you Love Me Tomorrow
  • Up on the Roof
  • The Locomotion
  • One Fine Day
  • A Natural Woman
  • You’ve Got a Friend

  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
  • On Broadway
  • Who Put the Bomp
  • Walkin’ in the Rain
  • We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Hit after hit rang out, all building to a crescendo of selections from Carole’s first solo album, the triumphant Tapestry and a curtain call audience participation rendition of I Feel the Earth Move.

Two and a half hours of utter amazement at what this woman accomplished in her life starting at the age of 16, marvel at the modern day performances, a little movin’ and a groovin’ and the resulting sheer joy in my heart. it was simply Beautiful.

That is, until I ventured back out into the freezing cold rain once again . . .

doughnut plant

PB & JOK, I admit it. I ate a Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnut Plant doughnut the other day. I couldn’t resist. After a day of heavy walking and assault by food at every turn in NYC, without so much as considering eating something unhealthy, my early morning venture into Stumptown Coffee on day two was quite a different story.

There I was well before 8 AM, tired and hungry, feet still aching from the day before, staring into a case full of tasty sweets. As I don’t drink coffee and have been on a no sugar kick for 3+ weeks now, I don’t even know why I was in there. But I had rolled down the elevator from my room at the ACE hotel and well, what can I say . . .

Peanut Butter & Jelly Filled, Organic Orange Glazed or Fresh Strawberry Glazed to choose from. Know this, Doughnut Plant doughnuts are made with the finest ingredients — home made peanut butter, home made jelly, glazes from only fresh fruit and a 100 year old doughnut recipe. If you’re going to go for it, this is the way to go down. I promise you, put Doughnut Plant on your list of must eat foods in NYC.

Available at food outlets around the city and two proprietary locations:

220 W. 23rd Street and 379 Grand Street.

You’ll know them by the square shape and unusual flavors including:

  • Creme Brulee
  • Mexican Mole
  • Concord Grape
  • Tres Leches
  • Carrot Cake
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Cream Filled

a nyc tour for everyone

Tribute Center ImageI don’t care if you are a tourist, a local or what but you need to take this particular tour of the 9/11 Memorial and surrounds. It will be one of the most moving experiences of your life and I promise, you will want to go back and take it again with another guide to get their point of view. You see, each tour is lead by somebody who was there — a survivor, a local resident, a first responder, a recovery worker or civilian volunteer. There are over 200 tour leaders, each with a very personal story to share.

Tour ImageTruth be told, I took the tour several years ago before the official 9/11 Memorial was open, before the recent museum opened. (The time has come for me to return!) I’m sure today’s tour is very different in terms of what you see but very much the same in tone.

Our small group of 15 people at the time, walked around what was then a memorial under construction — through surrounding buildings, covered walkways, up and down escalators — taking in various vantage points and learning the significance of each before our guide, a Port Authority Security Officer, sat us down and relayed his personal story of that horrific day, all the while holding up a 22 inch wooden ruler to demonstrate the narrowness of the World Trade Center tower windows and the very deliberate and desperate act it would take for a person to turn sideways in order to fit through and jump to their death. Dazed and saddened, we ended our tour at the Eleven Tears Memorial, a beautifully designed fountain by artist Ken Smith, commemorating the 11 souls who worked for American Express and lost their lives on that day. If it is no longer part of the tour, I highly recommend heading over to the American Express Tower (Three World Financial Center) and seeing it for yourself — open daily  from 7AM – 9PM, FREE.

ELEVEN_TEARS_MEMORIAL_Tours are operated by the 9/11 Tribute Center in partnership with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. They run 1.25 hours between 11AM- 3PM and cost $10 for the tour alone. Meet at 120 Liberty Street 30 minutes before your scheduled start time. I highly recommend purchasing tickets online beforehand.

Images Courtesy: 9/11 Tribute Center, NY Arts

another a&p design

1_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x871Same client, different city. Award winning Arent & Pike design a pied-a-terre in New York’s Greenwich Village for their Sydney based clients.

2_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x496 4_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x871 5_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x871 6_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x871 9_NewYorkApartment_mini-660x483images courtesy Arent & Pyke

crafty little colicchio

Craft SconeYou might think that my favorite thing about chef Tom Colicchio’s New York restaurant, Craft, was the simple yet sophisticated a la carte menu; the eye rolling, moan inducing farm fresh food served family style; or even the beautiful leather wall, exposed light bulb fixtures and mile high flower arrangements to die for. But no, it was the fact that after they lovingly described the details of every item on the menu, served you the most amazing meal you’ve eaten in ages from the inventive cocktails, to an unexpected amuse-bouche, to the delicious mains and even better side dishes, all the way down to the tiny butter sandwich cookies to end the meal — when most restaurants are happy to just collect your money and send you on your way — at Craft they send you home with freshly baked chocolate chip scones for breakfast. Two meals for the price of — well maybe the price of two. It’s not inexpensive. But it’s worth every penny. And what a lovely touch.

But back to the food . . . Mains are sized for one. Starters, sides and desserts are sized for two and everything is served family style. I can honestly say I’ve never really seen a menu like that at Craft. Lists of simple things like shellfish, pasta, meats and veggies with little to no descriptions beg you to ask questions of your server. The list of sides — at least 20 different roasted, braised, sauteed or otherwise cooked seasonal vegetables, potatoes and grains — are so simple and so delicious sounding you want to order them all and nothing else. But then you would miss out on the braised and roasted fish and meats for mains or pastas and salads for starters.

Our table of 4 each tucked into our own main and shared two starters and 3 sides. All incredibly simple fare, perfectly prepared and lovingly presented that showcased the true beauty of the products. The only complaint was a bit of a long wait between courses that caused us all to dig in faster than i could shoot photos of the presentation. But I did manage a shot of the beet salad, ricotta ravioli starters and the plate I assembled of creamy polenta, braised short ribs, roasted cauliflower and hen of the woods mushrooms. Sublime!

Craft StartersIMG_3501I went home stuffed and happy. And I woke to that chocolate chip scone for breakfast that was lovely in its own right and confirmed just how special the Craft experience was.

new nyc favorite

Nomad1

I like being a tourist in New York. I get to pretend I live in this great metropolis by day and stay in great hotels by night. NYC hotel rooms may be small on average but they’re a lot nicer than I would be able to afford as an apartment if I lived there. My most recent trip to the city found me at the Nomad (1170 Broadway at 28th). And it has taken a spot at the top of my list of favorites.

Small and very European in both decor and customer base, the rooms are spectacular with wooden floors, old fashioned push button light switches, marble and penny tile bathrooms, duvet covered king size beds, antique inspired furnishings, framed letters, photos and french adverts as art.

Nomad 2A five night stay will get you a complementary bottle of wine with a personal greeting from the manager. And comparing notes with my equally enamored travel companions brought the realization that every room is unique. Mine had a deep dark brown hallway with beautifully detailed doors and an upholstered screen as a TV stand. Another had an inviting little office nook with a charming desk and velvet settee. And yet another had flowing white curtains as an entrance to the bedroom.

Nearby Eats:

The restaurant at the Nomad is quite the scene. As a guest you get preferential seating but I prefer to venture out. Just down the street at the Ace Hotel (another favorite that I refer to as an adult version of a mall with its hip shops, array of restaurants and coffee shops all encircling the free WiFi lobby) is my most favorite restaurant in the city — The Breslin. English pub fare by chef April Bloomfield in a comfortable atmosphere. Once upon a time you could cozy up to the bar for hours and eat & drink to your heart’s delight. Now finding a seat at that bar is a bit more difficult. But breakfast, lunch, dinner or pudding (that’s English for dessert) it’s worth the wait. Favorite dishes:  Caesar salad, flank steak & eggs, lamb burger & thrice cooked fries, baked 3 cheese sandwich with egg.

Practically in the Nomad is SweetGreen (1164 B’way) for locally sourced salads. This is a DC place that’s recently gone New York and I could eat there every day. In fact, I nearly do. Perfect if you just want to grab something healthy to eat in front of the TV in your room.

Numpang (1120 B’way) for Asian influenced sandwiches and salads made from quality ingredients is just down the street and another option for casual eat in or to go fare.

Indian food perhaps? Just a few avenues East is the fabulous Pippali (129 E. 27th). Indian classics superbly done in a neighborhood spot that is always buzzing.

I’ve grown to love this strange little part of town sandwiched between the flower district and a collection of seedy discount jewelry fitting stores. The Flat Iron district is just a few blocks away — home to Eataly. There is easy subway access right across the street from the hotel that will take you to the theater district, mid-town shopping, or further downtown and into Brooklyn. Restaurants and shops are moving in every day. Not your typical choice of where to be as a tourist, but I say give it a chance. You’ll love it.

pizza hot spot

pizza appPizza Hot Spot: Your Kitchen                                                                                                 How:  With the pizza making app from Pizza A Casa, NYC                                                   Type: Surprisingly Good

What’s hot:  With the right ingredients and the right technique you can make good pizza in your own home oven. Trust me, I’ve taken the class at Pizza A Casa in NYC, renowned for the best pizza instruction around. The class was full of tips and tricks and really good pizza right out of a home oven. And now you can get the same instruction right on your iPad for $9.99. Download the app, buy yourself a pizza stone and a pizza peel and in no time, you’ll be cranking out homemade pizzas that rival any restaurant — thin and crispy and truly delicious!

weekend agenda

girlwpearlOne room. One painting. Girl with a Pearl Earring is now on display as the sole inhabitant of the Oval Room at the Frick Collection in New York City. Your standard $18 admission price (I love that they aren’t charging extra) gives you access to this Golden Age masterpiece and 15 other seventeenth century Dutch paintings on loan from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague, and other works from the Frick permanent collection. A true bargain for a treat so grande.

Advance ticket purchase is recommended and timed tickets assures the gallery won’t be overly crowded. Now through January 19, 2014.

The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY

1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021

weekend agenda

9238429949_073b34af2f_z9097036052_1e138ce9e1_z9089135756_f82e20cfd7_zNew York City beckons and more James Turrell. Part of a tri-city installation sensation (see more on the Los Angeles exhibition here), the artist has transformed the already breathtaking Guggenheim Museum into something new to behold. Just one month left to experience Aten Reign, a meditative array of color and form you just have to see to believe.

images courtesy: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum