In all the years that I have lived in NYC, I have never walked into the Cartier store on 52nd and 5th Avenue.
In all the years that I have lived in NYC, I have never walked into the Cartier store on 52nd and 5th Avenue.
I just became a member of Goldstar. It costs nothing. Their website covers a variety of cities from NYC to San Francisco. What they cover is events. They aggregate and link to a variety of events that are happening nightly in your city. What is cool is you can be spontaneous or sometimes you can plan in advance. They basically bring the consumer discounted tickets of events that have not sold out. There is no charge to you and the cost of the tickets are pretty low. Now is the right time for a site like this.
Events are from wine tastings to concerts to theater to comedy to dance. So instead of deciding if you should see a movie that evening, you could to go Goldstar and end up seeing a live performance for a really reduced price.
A wonderful service. Passing on deals to consumers looking for them. Very smart.
We were invited to attend a Gala Evening with Kristin Chenoweth to raise money for NY City Center. Their annual fund raiser. NY City Center is located on West 55th Street and in general puts on really interesting plays including the Encore productions which brings old plays back to life that the actors perform while reading their lines from a book. Really fun and clever.
The evening was long but interesting. The first thing of order is honoring someone which is a standard fund raising thing. I always push against this but people believe that if you honor someone, people will come to see them honored and give in their behalf. I think I might have witnessed that last night. There were serious heavy hitters in the audience.
City Center annually acknowledges someone with the Fiorello H. LaGuardia award for distinguished service to NY City Center and the city of New York. Last night the award was presented to Dolores and Clifton Wharton. Two incredibly interesting people who have made uncountable contributions in their lifetime. It seems like they made an impact in anything that has crossed their path. Dolores happened to start off her education at the Little Red School House where our kids go to school. It was obvious from the speeches and such that it made a huge impact on her life although she only went there for seven years (there wasn't a high school then). I found out today that she has given generously to the school and adores the place. My guess is after reading about both her and her husband, that is part and parcel of who they are.
The Chairman announced that they had raised 1 million dollars that evening. The woman next to us sort of gasped and said "wow". Fred whispered in my ear, "take a look around the room, I just saw 20 people who could write them a check for a million bucks without batting an eye, she shouldn't be so surprised". I found it amusing.
Then we were dazzled by Kristin Chenoweth for about an hour and a half. She was quite good. I am not a fan of most of the music she sang but she was engaging, funny and put on quite a show. She knew how to work an audience. But most important, you could tell how much it meant to her to be on the stage at an institution that has supported her career from the start.
After the event ended, we were shuttled over to the Plaza for dinner. We walked. The room was really old New York and magnificent. Also, believe it or not, the food was pretty good. Not your run of the mill rubber chicken dinner. Thank god.
All and all, a fun evening and an interesting glimpse into a world that Fred and I rarely find ourselves in, believe it or not. Once a year is fun.
I met my friend at the MOMA on Monday for one exhibit and lunch. It was perfect. We walked on to the second floor and saw the Compass in Hand Exhibit, Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation of Contemporary Art Drawings.
We happened to just wander in. (Just a note that it took me forever on the MOMA website to figure out this is what I saw - the worst website ). The exhibit is excellent. Really well curated. Interesting pieces. A variety of modern artists work that don't necessarily draw but for the few times they did, the Foundation collected them. I particularly loved some of the pieces made out of magazines into pictures. I took a few pictures of a couple of my favorite pieces. There is one of each of the Smiths album covers ( love the Smiths )with a one color drawing on top. The other comes from a 9 piece set of architectural furniture drawings with funny sayings underneath. An exhibit worth going to see. Memorable.
We went for an early lunch at the Cafe. The only museum I have ever been in with such good food and an interesting mix. We split four things. One was better than the next. Roasted beets with a dollop of goat cheese, spinach custard with caramelized onions on the bottom with greens and sliced sunchokes on the top, capresi salad with oozing mozzarella and a thinly sliced calamari salad with a spicy red sauce and capers served cold. You really can't beat it. A mixture of delicious antipasto type dishes. Love that.
Nice kick off to the week.
I have been in a bit of technology hell and back logged on email. I am beginning to see the bottom of my desk and my tech problems should be resolved tomorrow when I go to my appointment at the genius bar, genius name.
Fred got me the Macbook Air for Mothers day. I was in definite need. My laptop now makes a noise that sounds like a grinding engine that is in desperate need of a lube job. Not pretty. Also, my needs are pretty minimal on a computer and the thought of traveling with something that light is pretty exciting. The download was not working so off to the genius bar tomorrow to let the geniuses fix it.
The kids got me an array of treats from Foodzie. I am truly impressed with the amount of interesting artisinal products on the market. The food industry has changed so dramatically over the past 20 years, it is really amazing. There are endless possible opportunities in the industry, by city, in places that are making interesting food that is seasonal and local. The Greenmarkets are growing. The flood of websites crop up daily. Interesting space that has really filled a void for the countless amount of foodies that have sprouted up all over the place. I would be one of them.
Here are the goodies I got. Two items from Laura's Little Sweets. One is a organic oreo sandwich. Sort of looks like a moonpie. Dark chocolate cake for the outside sandwich which is rich but not too rich and is like a really perfect Devil's food cake. Inside is a soft vanilla frosting that is not too buttery and almost has the consistency of a whipped cream. Excellent. The other item from Laura's Little Sweets is the peanut butter cup. What is nice about them is that they look, feel and taste completely homemade. The only thing is that they are so incredibly rich that one bite and you are done. You don't have to be done but you should be.
Next was Brazilian Honey Cakes from Kika's Treats covered in dark chocolate. I really liked the consistency and flavor of the dark chocolate with the soft cake inside. But Lene, who works for us and is Brazilian, says they don't compare to the ones in Brazil. She would know. Brazilians are sweet freaks.
Not sweet was the jar of crushed heirloom tomatoes from Happy Girl Kitchen. Haven't opened that yet but plan to sometime soon. She makes everything from canned tomatoes to jams to pickles. A little competition on a few items with Ricks Picks but you can buy Ricks on Foodzie too.
Next item, bacon box. Yes, chocolate covered bacon. This also came with dark chocolate caramels with a little sea salt on top. I do like bacon but this particular treat was didn't sit well with me. We all gave it a thumbs down but my brother and his girls loved it (Valentines Day gift) so there you go. The caramels were quite tasty and the salt kicks in last which is nice.
The last on the list is the 479 Popcorn sampler. I love popcorn. There are variety of flavors. Sea salt, caramel, sugar cinnamon and paprika. So far, I have dug into the caramel which is my fave and it is really good. Light and crispy.
They went a little overboard. As much as I like the food, I am not sure how much I like it around. Hopefully by the weekend, the kids friends will have raided each item and we can move into the next round.
How should I begin to describe a serious culinary feast? One that will go down in the books. It should probably start with the owners who work the room, that have created something so unique that the place is probably always humming. They are adorable to boot. Or should I begin with the vibe. A long wooden bar, many wooden square tables and chairs, frenetic, kitchen in front and if you need to, you can go into the bathroom and watch the kitchen cooking live on video. But, at the end of the day, it is all about the food or all of these things wouldn’t make a difference.
The restaurant is called Au Pied de Cochon. There wasn’t a person who gave me advice on Montreal that didn’t put this restaurant as the first on the list.
We ordered way too much food but that is okay, it gave us an opportunity to try many different things. We began with drinks. Who knew that in Montreal that a vodka on the rocks comes is a single or a double. Good to know. After cocktails, we moved into red wine.
Our first round of food was four different appetizers…just to kick it off. Thinly sliced pieces of apple, endive, crumbled blue cheese mixed with a spicy vinaigrette. Quite heavy for a salad but I am not sure anything is light here. We also had the special of the day. Thinly sliced raw scallops served with lime juice and topped with red caviar. Large pieces of asparagus, roasted with 2 deep fried pulled pork squares set inside the asparagus. I couldn’t help myself and ordered the pickled tongue out of sheer curiosity. I grew up with tongue and always loved it so why not. It was pickled but the way it cut and tasted it seemed that they had also braised it in the vinegars for several hours. It was served with long thin crispy pieces of French bread and a large dollop of spicy mustard. Everything was out of this world.
The restaurant definitely paced us which I liked. We waited a while for our next round. This particular round was probably the highlight although the main courses were pretty amazing too. This course was all about foie gras. Ploghue a Champlain. Pan fried foie gras with thinly sliced potatoes topped with a sauce that was like a maple syrup. Sweet and caramelized. It was almost like eating dessert. We just kept staring at each other and with each bite saying omigod, omigod. The other foie gras, which was spectacular too was not as stupendous as the first. Pan fried foie gras with a deep rich balsamic vinegar that had been boiled down and over the top and thinly sliced crispy pieces of French bread. I am still dreaming about both dishes.
Next out, was the main courses. Our friends had duck for 2. Picture above. A split duck with juicy glistening skin and meat that pulled off the bone along a side of polenta topped with foie gras, roasted garlic cloves and some broccoli rabe. Not only gorgeous but scrumptious. Fred had the duck in the can, literally. They sear the foie gras, and then put the rest of the ingredients in the can and seal it. They do that on the premises and it stays for about 2 days. It is boiled before being served and they open it with a can opened at your table and put it on your plate. It comes out perfect. Clever idea and smart branding. Besides being genius, it is sublime. Here are the ingredients: ½ magret, 100G de foie gras, 180 ml d’embeurree de choic, ½ tet d’ail roti and 2 branches de thym. Basically duck, sauce, garlic, foie gras and thyme. I went with the Happy Pork Chop which was so tasty and topped with chopped mushrooms and onions that it didn’t even taste like a pork chop.
We were so full that we bagged dessert. The creme brulees coming out of the kitchen were as large as my head. Yet, after we were done and paid up, the owner brought us all over some after dinner drinks. Not sure what my friend ordered for me but the guys had Grappa. Nothing like ending on a serious note.
My souvenir besides a memorable experience is the label from the can which I plan on getting framed.
I might consider going up to Montreal just for a night at Au Pier de Cochon. Fantastique!
Every city we go to I like to find the open markets. First thing this morning we headed off to Jean-Talon Market where you can buy anything from fresh fruit, sausages, coffee, flowers, olives, cheeses, etc. Stalls and stores. A foodies mecca.
We sauntered in and found ourselves in front of Boucherie du Marche which is known for their sausages. The line inside was 15 deep and there were 2 of them. Outside, one of the owners were giving out tastes. Deer/Pork sausage. 3 different types. One was more incredible than the next. Large pieces, full of flavor with lots of character. Might have to figure out a way to ship it straight to our backyard barbecue.
We kept moving through the market. A variety of places that had pickled the seasonal food such as fiddle-heads. A spot with dried cranberries dried with different flavors from maple to apple. Cheese stores galore. Lots of Moroccan foods too. We bought a sweet from a Moroccan shop that looked interesting. Sort of looked like a snaked pretzel that was covered with sesame seeds and honey. Delicious.
Afterward, we jumped into a cab and headed over to L'Express. A bistro. The food was fantastic. We sat at the bar because we had not make reservations and that was fine with us. I had an octopus lentil salad that was out of this world. A round mixture of lentils with thin slices of octopus surrounding the lentils and then piled up on top. Beautiful. See the picture on the left. We also tried the fiddle-heads (seasonal) that were sauteed in a brown butter sauce with mushrooms. Sort of tastes like green beans. Crostinis with chicken liver pate (chopped liver basically) and ratatouille on the others. Each incredibly flavorful. Fred had a croque-monsieur which was better than any I had ever had in Paris. Our friend had the beef stuffed ravioli with mushrooms and sauce. Someone else had an omelet which can come with cheese or none but I loved that the waitress asked if she wanted the omelet soft, medium or hard. I like mine soft and I hate it when eggs are hard. Very French. All of this with a bottle of Sancerre and you can't go wrong for lunch. I really liked the large jar of cornichons that every patron gets at their table too. A real culinary treat. Simple and delicious.
We walked a few shops over to Suite 88 Chocolatier. My friend told me it was the Prada of Chocolate. Everyone had a coffee and then we split a biscotti fondue. Thick luxurious chocolate. I also got a bunch of goodies to take home.
We then began to walk and walk. Made our way around the Mile End area of Montreal. It is quite large but there is everything from bagel shops to clothing shops to furniture shops. After exhausting all options, we took a cab over near McGill University to check out a shop, Mona Moore, which has exquisite shoes. We also went up stairs to Les Createurs to see the clothes. After all, what is a vacation without at least a few stores a day. Just looked, no purchases.
Nap time was coming and we made our way back to the hotel to gear up for the next event.
Almost at the very end of Rue St Paul you will find Chez L'Epicier. A little bit out of the crowds that saunter up and down St Paul in the evening.
Housed in a small building with big glass windows. Not only is L'Epicier a restaurant, it is also a market place where they sell olive oils, vinegars, salts and some prepared foods. The restaurant has 2 rooms. One room with a nice sized bar and a few tables and then the main room, where we ate. There is a very mellow vibe. Blue painted walls with chalkboards to highlight some specials of the day.
The food is definitely inventive but also a tad on the heavy side. I opted for a green salad to start. My friend had the white asparagus soup drizzled with truffle oil and a whipped mushroom cream on the side. Fred and our other friend went with the salmon. Smoked salmon with lobster oil and thinly sliced fennel waffles on the side. Interesting.
Dinner was quite a large plate and after some wine, I had no problem consuming the whole thing. 2 long pieces of pork belly caramelized on top surrounding a cauliflower mousse. The pork was delicious. Tasty and well cooked. The cauliflower mousse was sort of bland. Next to this were 2 scallops each pan fried over a mixture of greens and a vinaigrette. On the side of the dish was a swatch of curry mixture. All very good and the whole thing worked. Everyone had different meals and each were a mixture of different flavors and textures. When the meal comes they describe everything on your plate for you.
We split a chocolate bar with shaved jellied beets on top which was a strange combo but the chocolate was intense and good.
After dinner, we strolled down Rue St. Paul to go back to the hotel for an after dinner drink. Nice restaurant, good food but as always, them most important rule, is good company.
We reconnected with old friends a few months ago, not that we were disconnected but we live in different cities. They live in Toronto and have raised their family there. If we all had raised our kids in one city, we probably would have spent serious time together but unfortunately we didn't. After spending time over a friends party weekend, we decided to go away for a weekend together. Montreal was the spot.
Fred and I arrived around noon. They are coming in a bit later. Nothing like getting out of town for a little R & R without kids and the dog. I am not sure either of us have wound down yet but we are working towards it. After all, as I sit here blogging, Fred is taking a nap.
We dropped off our luggage at the St. Paul Hotel and walked up the street to have lunch at Holder. I walked in the door and turned to Fred and said, "it smells like Paris". A long bar, wooden tables and chairs. Very Parisian and packed. 2 seats at the bar were calling out our name.
I had a delicious nicoise salad. A small chunk of grill tuna served over frisee, capers, chopped eggs, quartered tomatoes with a tarragon based vinaigrette. Fred went for the mussels and fries. A huge pot of mussels cooked in white wine and the fries were seriously crispy just like I like them. Oh, were they Fred's fries?
Afterward, we took a walk down the waterfront. Big oil tanker, lots of bicyclists, and old style architecture. A cross between Boston and Barcelona. Strange combo perhaps but that is what came to mind. We then walked over to the market that houses local jewelers. Not my thing. A tad like a Faneiul Hall or South Street Seaport. We continued our walk through the open square with no cars and cafes. Made the loop back to the Hotel on Rue St. Paul which is filled with art galleries and restaurants.
Tomorrow, we plan on spending the day at the Jean-Talon market in the Italian area and the Mile-End area. Dinner tonight at L'Epicier.
Obama seems to be attempting to truly change the Government from top to bottom. Not an easy task. Change is making sure that big business is no longer running the country. Going after the tax shelters over seas is a good way to start. When will the Obama administration do something about the high and mighty NRA?
Yesterday, a young college student, with the rest of her life ahead of her, was shot and killed at a book store outside of the Wesleyan campus. The perp is still at large. It appears, at least from what I am reading, that he knew her.
Here is a scenario that I don't understand. Maybe it wasn't what happened but... A guy or girl decides that he/she is so angry at another person for whatever it may be. They broke up, money was stolen, who knows. He/She walks into a store, buys a gun and then retaliates for whatever took place by killing the other person. This person, who acted in anger, has now killed a person, destroyed a family and in turn destroyed their life because they are going to jail for life. Perhaps this would have been resolved over time thru a better way if guns were not so readily available.
When are we going to stop making guns so readily available for violence?
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Rachel Kushner: The Flamethrowers: A Novel
A beautiful intelligently written book that threads together NYC and Rome in the 1970's. The prose is just amazing. There is an underlying theme about lies and trust. The main character, Reno, whose eyes the book is written through is like a sponge taking in a world and essentially educating herself. I admit I did not love the ending and the book bounces around a bit although an interesting look at a time that bounced around too so the story defines those times.
Peggy Riley: Amity & Sorrow: A Novel
A mother drives for days with her daughters and ends up in a random Oklahoma town after crashing the car. They come from a polygamous community where there were 50 wives. The mother had grown up knowing life outside that community. Over time, after leaving, she almost becomes deprogrammed. The realization of what she did to her daughters who no nothing outside the world they came from including how to read. Then there is the family that brought them in. It is a fascinating story. Well written. Worthy read.
Charles Graeber: The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
An amazing true story of a male nurse who was arrested in 2002. I actually remember the story as I followed it in the papers. This nurse was a serial killer who had probably murdered over 400 patients that were under his care. A seriously well researched book. Great read.
Meg Wolitzer: The Interestings: A Novel
Wolitzer writes about a group of camp friends who all come from different walks of life (some on scholarship) as their friendships continue through their mid-50s. At the beginning the story seems trite but as you continue to read there is a lot of be said. The story is sticking with me. She makes the case that everything that happens to you from your childhood makes an impact on who you become or don't become. Worthy read.
Elizabeth Strout: The Burgess Boys: A Novel
Strouts last book won a Pulitzer. She focuses on family issues. I enjoyed this book much more than Olive Ketteredge which I found utterly depressing. This book follows two brothers and a sister who live in the shadow of their fathers accidental death. Like most siblings, all have turned out very different yet they are connected. I did not love any of the characters, like her last book, yet as The Burgess Boys moves forward and memories are revealed, it is an interesting perspective on human character.
Tamara Shopsin: Mumbai New York Scranton: A Memoir
Great book. A witty spare inventive personal diary of Tamara journey from Indian to New York to Scranton. Really really enjoyed the book.
Michael Lavigne: The Wanting: A Novel
An incredible book that tells the human side of the many layered issues in the Middle East. From immigrating to Israel from Moscow, to being a victim of a suicide bomber yet surviving, to being pulled into an Israeli radical group. Each character is connected. Very layered well written book. Powerful
Alessandro Piol: Tech and the City: The Making of New York's Startup Community
A history of the Internet that I lived through. Great job of recording what happened.
Amity Gaige: Schroder: A Novel
Not sure how much I loved this book. A father loses his child in divorce and decides to kidnap his own daughter. He is not a stable person but he obviously loves his daughter. His own childhood has made him a disconnected human being. An interesting journey but not sure I'd recommend.