A New York Thanksgiving….
November 30, 2010

Doughboy, doughboy, doughboy, doughboy.....

I must first apologize for no blogs last week…it’s just that my kitchen was gutted on Wednesday…what a word, gutted…but it perfectly captures the scene. I was attempting to get things at home ready for the carnage, though as it turns out, I didn’t do such a good job…and trying to go to New York for Thanksgiving and working. Just…too much. You know?

Spidey from my vantage point...

My son and lovely Jennifer declared this Thanksgiving a travel free(for them) holiday, but any and all were welcome to come to NYC to celebrate. So via Megabus, we made the trek and created our own little Miracle on 34th Street, starting with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade….something my husband has ALWAYS wanted to see in person.

Argh, hurry...there goes Kermit!

Two of us(my daughter had a sleep-in) got a cab to deposit us on the East side of Central Park and then followed the crowd to the west side…where the parade was just kicking off by the time we arrived. Wait, Kermit…don’t go! But the balloons just came and came and came….and we didn’t have a problem finding a good place along the route….not where the bands performed but we got to see the cantankerous but talented  Kanye West and the much maligned Jessica Simpson on their respective floats as they rolled by. Great fun…

Cheese and chive biscuits anyone?

And of course we had some fabulous food….New York is chock-a-block( is that you spell that?)with wonderful little eateries and bakeries and cheese shops. And we stayed in a VRBO apartment-click here in Grammercy, about 15 minute walk from the west village. It was small for 3 people(which we knew) but just fine as we didn’t spend tons of time there…comfy mattress, tiny well equipped kitchenette(though we always had breakfast at the Moonstruck diner down the block). The apartment was clean, and adequate for us(and $200 a night).  Funny story…the first night we were there(exhausted)…the windows of this first floor apartment(with bars so no worries) were open because the heat was POURING in and you couldn’t stop it. Three guys decide to stop right outside our window about 3:30 am and argue in Spanish for about 20 minutes…and then they light up a couple of joints. So we can’t sleep, and the smoke is floating in and no one wants to say anything because hey, we don’t know these guys aren’t packing heat, but we do know they’re high. Just before we think about calling the cops, they leave. Best Thanksgiving Ever!! More of my special kitchen hell tomorrow. Did I mention we are covered in dust?

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Samurai Umbrella…
March 16, 2010

See? Doesn't it look sharp?(not literally...)

OK, let me say this…I am not really good with umbrellas..I tend to lose them, leave them, forget them…no longer be their owner after a short while. But here’s one even I might not lose, because it’s strapped to my back like a….well, like a samurai sword! My first thought when I saw this was to order one for my son who live in NYC…(if you’re interested, here’s a link). One less thing to carry in his hand, when one has a Jack’s coffee in it and the other your man bag…I mean messenger bag.  But then, just as I was considering pulling out the credit card, a brief startling scene flashed through my mind.

Just reach back, and whip it out....

Picture this….my son leaves his apartment on day that threatens rain…he has strapped on his samurai umbrella and is trudging through the streets of the west village, past Marc Jacobs, past Cynthia Rowley, a quick stop into Jack’s Coffee for a latte to go…..and off he heads for the Washington Square/West 4th subway station….noticing people are looking at his umbrella, admiring glances…aren’t they? Probably wondering where he acquired it(from his Mother who has the best taste, that’s where). And down the stairs he trots, hoping to catch the train just as it comes in..he’s running late. Suddenly the sound of heavy footsteps running behind him….the next thing he knows he is face down on some very dirty cement, voices shouting, all he can see is feet running, a child is crying. The person on top of him yells, “I got him! I got him!”  It is some time before the nice policeman lets him up to explain that the weapon on his back… is… just… an… umbrella. Hmmmm. On second thought….

Now would this actually happen? In a pre-9/11 world, probably not. But today..in New York City? I’m not gonna chance it. I still like the  Samurai umbrella, the way it looks and its convenience, (and you may too so here’s a link to buy it)….but I can hear the disdainful words I’ve heard more than a few times from my son when I do something well intended, yes,  but the results are less than stellar…”Good one, Mom“.

For now I’m sticking with the umbrella that I have loved and managed to keep for some time now(after my son left it at my house)….it’s a Callaway Umbrella, and the beauteous thing about this collapsible, is that it is not just automatic open…almost all of them do that..but when you get in your car and the rain is pouring, you don’t have to reach out and pull the umbrella closed, thereby drenching yourself anyway….this one collapses with another touch of the button. Love it….and no one could mistake it for a weapon.

A Little Shameless Name Dropping….
March 19, 2009

I received this comment on my blog about my NYC trip from someone who called themselves Donna’s daughter….oh wait…it was my daughter. She wrote, “Mom, you forgot to say how we saw BEYONCE!!!! she was shooting some sort of video, and she looked so beautiful!!!”

    

Look right at the edge of the truck hood...thats Beyonce!

Look right at the edge of the truck hood...that's Beyonce!

 

And it’s true….And it’s true…..this picture was taken by the lovely Jennifer….and on her Blackberry, which could zoom in and you could actually see Beyonce, who was obviously working that Sunday. We were walking back from lunch in Tribeca…and my daughter noticed some activity(i.e. photographers) down a side street and people watching…something going on. We wandered down, and saw just beyond the fire truck…a group of about 30 young handsome guys dressed in dark suits and ties. But wait…right in the center in a tight gold lame’ gown…is that??… yes it is!….No one could be more gorgeous….it is Beyonce. They must have been filming for a music video or commercial…very brief scene in which they all raised their arms at the same time and punched the air a couple of times…then Miss “Single Ladies” was covered with a white robe and gently led away.  

Short ribs and deviled eggs at The Spotted Pig!

Short ribs and deviled eggs at The Spotted Pig!

But that’s not the end of celebrity connections…oh no, gentle readers. We had lunch one day at a restaurant called The Spotted Pig….it is a half block from our apartment…famous as one of Bill Clinton’s favs. And where did Rihanna go to meet Beyonce and Jay-Z for a bite to eat on her first public occasion after the domestic violence troubles? That’s right…The Spotted Pig. I hope they tried the deviled eggs…$3 for an order(2 halves)…delicious golden morsels with lots of dijon and drizzled in olive oil. I’m sure she could use some comfort food….can’t we all?

And my son took us to dinner…took us… as in, he chose the restaurant and paid for it…I am still amazed by this (I know, get over it)…at  The Market Table in the west village.

I may actually read this book by Miranda July....

I may actually read this book by Miranda July....

It’s a lovely, intimate place oozing with charm…a huge bouquet of yellow forsythia branches on the bar…and where they bring you the check in a paperback book…ours was No One Belongs Here More Than You. Charming…and a nice thought, especially after I read the next day that The Market Basket is one of Gwyneth’s new favorites in NYC…Gwyneth as in Paltrow…as in Apple’s Mom. Alright…enough name dropping for one day. Keep in mind we didn’t SEE any of these people…except Beyonce…it’s more like 6 degrees of NYC, you know? Oh, and seriously, click on the link to “No one belongs here more than you” above…it is fascinating, and makes me want to read the book!!!

Back from New York….it’s quiet there…
September 17, 2008

All packed for New York...what did I forget?

All packed for New York...what did I forget?

Spent a long weekend in New York…sounds decadent but it was a definite budget trip. Here’s how I roll…when my son is who lives in the West Village is out of town, and he was, we go to NY and stay in his apartment. Free lodging…kind of….we are expected to leave gifts in return. And for the first time ever, I took Megabus! Their buses leave hourly for NY from the White Marsh Park and Ride…and if you book relatively far ahead(a few weeks) you can get away with maybe, a 20 buck round trip. Not too bad. Here’s what I learned about Megabus, for those of you who may consider a trip.

Waiting on line for Megabus..bring something to read.

Waiting on line for Megabus..bring something to read.

#1.

Get there early. If you have a 9:30 am bus arrive by 9. Why? Because something I didn’t know is that there may not always be room for you and it’s first come first served. I truly assumed when you booked, you had a seat. Not so, at least not on this bus….some folks booked on the 8:25 (and the bus was a half hour late), didn’t get on until the 9:25 came in. That was a little unsettling.

#2.They do have wifi, but there’s no plug-in. So you better have a good battery for your computer.

#3. They do have bathrooms, but it’s like a port-o-potty…just blue stuff in the bottom…no flush. That wasn’t too bad, but there’s also no sink to wash your hands, though they did have a limited supply of antiseptic wipes. Oh, and I had to ask the driver for toilet paper before we left as there was none. He did have a supply.

#4.Other than that, the ride was fine…we made good time…in NY by noonish. Dropped us off at Penn Station on 8th Avenue, and that was that. And compared to the stress of driving and the expense of Amtrak, it’s a hassle free bargain.

No, I didn’t see shows or sightsee or shop…just hung out in the village. Walked around, found a few really good and pretty inexpensive restaurants….you know, kind of like I live there. Only I don’t. Recommendations for eats?  

Gottino in West Village

Gottino in West Village

Gottino…new wine bar on Greenwich Ave….very chic, small plates, great cheese, glasses of wine-good! Perilla  on Jones Street for brunch…again minimalist, good food(fabulous grilled-or as they called it “griddled” cheese). And it’s Perilla soundingthe l’s ….it’s actually an herb…which I have never heard of!  And my favorite find, on Charles Ave just off Greenwich Ave…El Charro Espanol..small, intimate Spanish place with wonderful Sangria and Paella…and I’m pretty tough to please when it comes to that famous saffron, rice and seafood dish. Oh, and the place is a bargain. Jack’s Coffee in the morning…very earthy but oh so fashionable and javalicious.  On the weekdays, you might see a movie star there, but they disappear on the weekends. Lots of beautiful skinny girls in summer dresses and fall boots…that was all the rage this weekend. But man, those boots looked hot, and I mean sweaty hot, when the temps got close to 90!

But it was also a quiet sober weekend in the Big Apple…that’s where the economic debacle is hitting the hardest, at least for the moment. Lots of people worried about their jobs, their firms, how the whole mess may impact them. Of course, many people are feeling that same uncertainty right now. It’s not a good feeling. Not at all.

Cupcakes anyone??
December 31, 2006


OK, after dinner in the West VIllage, join the crowd at Magnolia Cupcakes on Bleecker St. and 11th….you will almost always find a line, and it’s the only place I know that limits the amount of cupcakes you can buy. 12 to a customer please. But I only need a couple….delicious buttercream frosting mounded high…They also have Banana pudding, coconut cake, and other goodies but their cupcakes are the claim to fame. Take a few out, and don’t feel bad standing outside eating them on the street licking your fingers. Everybody else is doing the same thing.
But you should know, the same quality cupcake can be had here in Baltimore, on Fort Ave in Locust Point…The Baltimore Cupcake Company is in a cute pink building with black and white awnings…they make so many different flavors of real buttercream frosted cupcakes….and actually I rate them better than Magnolia Bakery. Seriously.
And if you have a birthday party or other special occasion, they will make for you a cupcake tree….with full size or mini cupcakes….You’d have to see one to appreciate how cute they are.

Cafe Cluny…great village dinner!
December 31, 2006


Greenwich Village I find an easier to handle part of New York…smaller, buildings not so tall, little streets. If you venture there….don’t miss Cafe Cluny…a cute little bistro at 12th St. and West 4th St. that feels like a neighborhood hangout. I had read something about it…so I booked a table for dinner…and you really should call for reservations, though many Village restaurants don’t take them.
This village brasserie is just….lovely really. All cream colors, pretty flowers at the bar…the wait staff knows their stuff and their food, and they’re friendly. This goes a long way with me. But the food is good too!
Had the beet salad with aged goat cheese….fabulous, especially if you like beets…for me it’s more like love. And for Pete’s sake, if you’ve never tried anything but a pickled beet, give roasted beets a chance. They bear no resemblance.
Like any self respecting bistro, they have steak-frite though the potatoes aren’t fries, and they are good. But the dish to order is the beef short ribs with foie gras…luscious reduction sauce, and the foie gras with it is just so decadent and rich…almost over the top, but not quite. I wish I had some right now!
The wine list is pretty much French, and you’ll be happy too know you can get a nice glass of wine for 8 bucks, maybe 9. Not bad for New York.