Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

I had the opportunity to spend some time in NYC with my hubby. Alone. Sans kids. So in no particular order, and certainly without any pretension, here are a few gems we ran into, worth checking out.

Grand Central Terminal

Thousands of people pass by and through the train terminal everyday without knowing or appreciating it’s history, architecture and small secrets that hide in different nooks and crannies of this magnificent complex. The terminal, at it’s location, was officially opened on February 1913, thus celebrating 100 years this year.

Grand Central Terminal- the big hall

Up until the end of 2012, free tours were offered in Grand Central, but beginning in 2013, you could either take a guided tour offered by MAS (The Municipal Art Society of New York), or get an Audio tour, or a smartphone app. I strongly suggest the MAS tours, even if it’s not free anymore. You connect with other people, and you get to ask the tour guide questions. It’s worth it.

Grand Central Terminal

Not only will one find great food, market, and grandeur sights of the architecture and fun facts about it’s history, but will also celebrate Grand Central’s Centennial with lots of events throughout the year.

Shoe Shiners in Grand Central Terminal

While in the neighborhood, if you want to sip good coffee and enjoy a cozy, shabby chic atmosphere, allow yourself to enjoy in Piccolo Cafe on 238 Madison Ave, a short walk from Grand Central.

Piccolo Cafe on Madison Ave.

The Museum at Eldridge Street

Thanks to my friend Laurel, who told me about this place. Smack in the middle of Chinatown, rises a beautiful architectural façade, magnificent and proud, of a synagogue from 1887.  Yet the outside is just a hint to the gorgeous interiors, depicting beautiful stained glass windows, brass fixtures, and intricate carved wood, among other things.


Eldridge Street Synagogue was New York’s first congregation built by Eastern European Jews. It now serves both as a museum, with tours offered every hour, and a synagogue.

Eldridge Synagogue stained Glass

If you arrived here, you must have made your way through Chinatown. No need to describe Chinatown, right? Just remember to walk around and open your eyes in the less crowded streets of Chinatown. It’s always interesting.

shoe repairer, Chinatown

The Tenement Museum

Staying in the area of the Lower East Side, I would recommend the Tenement Museum, that follows the history and lives of immigrants who came to America, beginning in the 19th century, and who worked their way to immerse and become Americans. The museum has a visitor center and an interesting shop, yet the guided tours in the restored apartments of past residents as well as tours of the neighborhood are most impressive.

After all that walking, a nice lunch would be in Cocoron Soba, for a tasty Japanese Soba dish. 61 Delancey St (between Allen St & Eldridge St).

The High Line

On the western side of Manhattan, high above, lies a unique park. Built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan, a fun walk is guaranteed: green public space, little corners, cool views, and public arts at display. The High Line runs between Gansevoort Street and West 34th Street, mostly between 10th and 11th Ave.

colorful corner seen from the high line

you can hop on, and get off, at several location along the park, back to street level.

High Line

If you’re hungry, you can climb down on 23rd or 20th street, and head 1 block to Le Grainne Cafe on 183 9 Ave. and 21st street. We had a very good brunch, and felt a bit french with the crêpes and Salade Nicoise. Yumm yumm

Food adventure – in Queens

Again, what would I do without good friends? This time, my friend Naomi, a foodie, knowledgeable, and a fun person, took us under her wings, and revealed the delicious corners of Queens. Well, it may not be in Manhattan, but one train ride (the 7 line) will take you all the way to the very last stop- Main Street, Flushing, and that’s where we started. Flushing, around the train station, is also known as the Queens’ Chinatown. This one is a little different- culinary diversity from other places in Asia, not just Chinese. Spotted, were Malaysian, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and of course- Chinese. You’ll find stretched noodles made from scratch, lots of dim-sum joints, neat bakeries,  and different street food-carts, each looks and smells more appetizing than the other. It’s a real treat to just wonder around, especially with friends, and take bites from many different vendors.

Noodle Stretcher, Flushing Queens

click on the photo, for a short clip

By the time we left Flushing, with bellies full of dumplings, pastries, soup, little chunks of lamb on skewers, and even a black sesame panna cotta (Iris Tea & Bakery), all from different places around Main Street, we didn’t think we had any more space for further tastings. Yet, we were already here, so we hopped back on the 7 Line, and back to the street in Jackson Heights. We found ourselves in the middle of Mexico and Central America, with restaurants serving Colombian,  Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Cuban, Argentinian, and of course- Mexican cuisine. Also, lots of shops and ethnic grocery stores. We just had to taste the Alfajores at Buenos Aires Bakery .

Alfajores, Jackson Heights

As one goes further towards 74th Street, the scenery changes into Pakistani, Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan eateries, food carts, and grocery stores. We ended our day on the R train, back to Manhattan, with a momo dumpling in our mouths. Irresistible. Delicious.

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And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high..”  by DuBose Heyward.

So I gathered bits and pieces from here and there that I felt I needed to tell the world.

  • Starting with food. Here’s a real quick and tasty recipe of Pattypan summer squashes. I just got them at our local farmers market. They’re not only cute and add color to your dinner table, but also, ahammm, healthy (here). Most of all- they’re yummy !

Pattypan squashes fresh from the market

All there’s to do: Cut them into halves wide-wise. Also cut a thin flat slice at each end, so the half squashes could rest steadily in the baking dish (wide side facing up). Turn oven to 400 F or 200 C. Drizzle olive oil, bit of salt, crushed or chopped garlic and coarsely chopped rosemary on the yellow shining faces of the squashes.

pattypans go into the oven

That’s all folks. Cover with aluminum foil, put in oven for 30 minutes. Take off foil and let them pattypans get some oven tan till they’re golden(ish). Out of the oven and into your plate they go. With some nice green salad on the side. Ahh ha. Oh yeah- don’t over roast them, they don’t like to dry out.

  • more food: Yesterday, on our way to one of the last shows of HAIR in Broadway, a small window on 9th Ave. caught our eyes.  A pile of some fine-looking Bourekas just called us in. The owner, Gazala Halabi, was placing paper-thin rounds of dough on the taboon, which will later become Druze pitas.
tasty druz bourekas

Gazala makes pitas on the taboon

We had wonderful bourekas: one filled with sun dry tomatoes and goat cheese, and the other was with spinach and feta cheese. The kids had a Druze pita wrap (“laffa”) with salad and falafel. The plate was wiped clean off the lamb kabab that was there merely 20 minutes before.

We’ll be there again.  Gazala’s Place


Druze cuisine @ Gazala Place

  • Staying in the city: restaurants will now need to display the cleanliness rating of their facility according to new letter-grading rules. Now, when deciding upon your next dinner in the City, look on the restaurant’s window. Does it have an “A”, “B” or “C”? Under the new plan, a restaurant receiving an A grade will post it at the end of the inspection. If the grade is lower than an A, the restaurant will not have to post a grade until it has a chance to improve its sanitary conditions. The Health Department will return within a month to conduct a second inspection. The ultimate goal is to improve sanitary conditions and reduce the risk of food-borne illness.
  • Going west: San Francisco is requiring stores to post cellphone radiation levels.  Those rates are the levels at which radio frequencies penetrate body tissue. whether or not there is a connection between cellphones (and their radiation) to cancer, it sure brings the question to the table again, to deserve a serious awareness.

Any thoughts to share?

Fun and healthy summer to us all   🙂

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You may recall an earlier post, where I wrote with astonishment about Agata Olek’s art. Well, she did it again. She does not stop. This time we visited the open studios @ the AAI– down at the Lower East Side.

It started off at the corridor, where my kids discovered 2 crocheted figures, standing and offering toasted cheese sandwiches.

crocheted people serving stringed toast

with the artist, Agata Olek

The cheese seemed to be part of the display, being melted into a long, continued piece of (cheese)yarn. Thus, my very own little guy became part of the display by accepting (more like grabbing) that toasted sandwich, curiously gazing at the crocheted people, and munching, only to find out the sandwich is connected by (cheese)yarn to the very next sandwich, and so on. After three (!) such sandwiches, I stepped in to stop it. The reports from the battle field state that the sandwiches were yummy! Also, a passerby dog was caught eating the string (cheese).

dog enjoying the crochet display

We later stepped into Olek’s studio to find more crocheted gems.

shorthand crochet

crocheted balloons !

crocheted slide

Our magical journey continued with a musical setting, crocheted of course.

crocheted drummer

Our final surprise came as we left the building. The kids just loved the bicycle. You guessed it. It was crocheted.

crocheted bicycle

For a balanced justice, I must also bring your attention to some other talented artists that I especially liked:

Elaine Carl at her studio

Linda Byrne's recycled plastics

Tutte, oil on linen, from the Self Deceit series by Jennifer Mazza

Check out Linda Griggs interesting use of Walnut Ink she produces herself:

paintings with walnut ink- Linda Griggs

Finally, a little word about the Lower East Side. Walking the streets at that part of town is fun, lots of little stores, cafes and even galleries. A very nice place to have either lunch or dinner, with the kids, was the Noodle Bar at Stanton & Orchard. Decent sized dishes at a decent price. Kids and noodles- you can’t go wrong.

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