Category: nyc

Governors Island

Thursday 06.28.12

When I was young (3-6 yrs. old) and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, there was an abandoned house next door to ours. Actually, I think it was a garage with an apartment upstairs. But because I was little, it seemed huge. And scary. In part because Mrs. O’Brien, an ogre of a woman who lived in the main house, was meaner than mean. I believe she once hit my father with a rolled up newspaper, or an umbrella, because she was angry about our barking dog. She may have had a point. Anyway, my parents, heeding the laws and perhaps some hidden dangers, forbid us to go inside. But try squelching the curiosity of two small children eager to defy the rules. When we did finally sneak our way in, we found boxes and letters and lots of broken glass (the danger part!) scattered among three-legged chairs and the mustiest air imaginable. Sorry, I digress. I just found a few photos from a little jaunt my husband and I made over to Governors Island a year or so ago. The city decided to open up some of the buildings — the fancy officers houses and the red brick dormitories — to the public. It was truly amazing. Peeling paint, everything fallen into decrepitude, and many many closed doors. It brought back that crazy childhood impulse to trespass in a big way. The photographs don’t even begin to do it justice. So, this summer, if you have a chance, hop on one of the ferries, take the seven minute ride, and go! Read about the history of the island here.

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Wednesday 05.02.12

The good folks over at Flavorwire put up a post today about Fulton Ryder’s tumblr collection of unusual and intriguing photographs consisting mostly of book covers, with additional images of cultural ephemera. This Robert Frank volume, whose genesis was an ad campaign in 1959 for the New York Times, brought back memories of art school photography class. Back then, The Americans, Frank’s most famous body of work, made a big impression on me. For more on Robert Frank, go here to his Artsy page.

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What’s In The Package?

Thursday 03.15.12

I’ve posted about this pasta before, but as part of a larger entry in which I highlighted simple clear packaging. And, even then, I only had the spaghetti and the vermicelli. I’ve been looking for this pasta for awhile. It is rustic and toothsome with a nutty taste. It’s now one of my favorites. It also happens to be Swiss, which came as a big surprise to me. (Although it shouldn’t be, given the great packaging.) I was about to place an order online, until yesterday, when I came upon Formaggio Cheese, a small shop in the Essex Street Market, that regularly keeps this pasta in store. Now, if you live in NY, love food, enjoy cooking and haven’t yet been to the Essex Street Market, I might suggest that you make a little foray as soon as you get a chance. The market itself is, I believe, the longest continuous running retail public food market in NYC, and one of only four remaining public markets in the 5 boroughs. There was a time when many thought the market had reached its end, but in the past few years it has found a renewed vitality (for various reasons, both good and bad) that seems neither forced or temporary. Do yourself a favor and visit Saxelby Cheese while you’re there!

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Brooklyn Biscuits

Tuesday 03.06.12

Last week, on a dismal rainy evening, I trekked out to Coney Island Avenue to meet some old friends of mine for an evening of food from the Caucasus. We are an intrepid little band of eaters, and our cravings often take us outside the familiar bounds of Manhattan and Brooklyn. I arrived early, and a good 10 or 12 blocks from the restaurant, so took my time in getting there. As I was walking towards my destination, I passed by a large Russian supermarket and jumped at the chance to get out of the rain. Plus, give me a supermarket or a hardware store and I am at my happiest. I ended up walking back and forth through the entire store. Everything was printed in Cyrillic. No one spoke English. The odd shaped biscuits caught my attention (and were far easier to transport than the 50 types of feta, countless canned goods or the giant cow heart from the meat display). So familiar and yet totally strange. From the shape of the Russian writing baked into the diamond-shaped cookies to the green string holding together a necklace of vanilla scented, donut-like sweets. Always amazed at how the most mundane item can be such a clear reflection of another place.

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Thursday 01.26.12

Around the same time that the various Chinese bus companies in lower Manhattan started serving interstate travelers, my husband and I started noticing these overstuffed, disc-shaped, sesame seed-crusted buns popping up at many of the food stands underneath the Manhattan bridge. I heard that the best ones were available in the basement of the Triple 8 Mall under the bridge, and that I should refer to them as Bing – which I believe is short for Shaobing. I ventured underground and bought a couple of them from a woman who was duly baffled by my presence. I was instantly hooked. They were tasty and satisfying and fit our limited budget. There were several varieties of Bing, but the trouble was, there was no menu and I couldn’t figure out what filling was inside any given pastry. Because of our mutual language barrier, the owner wasn’t able to shine any light on the puzzle. I knew there was a code to be revealed in the placement of the black sesame seeds, but I was firmly at a loss to break it. At around the same time, I heard that there was a place out in Queens that specialized in these little treats, both savory and sweet. I hopped on the subway, made my way to a shop called Unique Pastry and bought one of each kind. I subsequently made this crib sheet so that I could quickly and easily decipher the contents of whatever Bing I happened to find. Shortly thereafter, this piece appeared in the NY Times.

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Happy New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Tuesday 01.24.12

This is the year of the dragon, which, if you didn’t know, is really quite auspicious. I was born in the year of the dragon, so feel particularly special right now. My husband and I lived in Chinatown for quite a long stretch, and saw many a celebration pass beneath our windows. But none quite so spectacular as that for the dragon. To learn more.

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My Favorite Cabbages.

Thursday 01.19.12

Never say never, but it’s highly unlikely that you will ever see me sporting a purple and green sweater. But when it comes to plants, my tastes take a decidedly different turn. If you spend time in Dumbo, you probably walk by these ornamental cabbages/kale on a semi-regular basis. They are on Front Street in wooden planters outside of a bar and restaurant called Superfine. I always forget that they are there, and always always stop and look at them when I pass. I figured yesterday’s blackout warranted some extra color today. By the way, did you know these are edible?

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