[Our silhouette on the wall of Olafur Eliasson's I only see things when they move. 2004. at MOMA]
Tim and I took a week’s vacation last week. After a frantic few weeks of trying to drum up a Big Plan (see earlier posts on Italy, South Africa, etc.), we decided instead to take a “staycation” (a dreadful but useful new entry in the popular lexicon) in New York to explore this wonderful city we call home. Over the past few years we’ve amassed a huge list of things we want to do in New York — restaurants, museums, stores, experiences saved for someday later. To plan our staycation, we pulled out the list and started working our way through it. We covered a lot of ground in a week, but still barely scratched the surface of all the things we want to do. Herein, a sampling of our adventures…
A languid, lazy day at home (what is a vacation if not an excuse to do nothing but read the paper and catch up on magazines over multiple iced coffees?) followed by dinner in the garden of Pure Food & Wine near Gramercy Park. Delicious, decadent, beautifully presented raw and vegan food and a relaxed, lovely crowd. We drank just enough organic vino to convince ourselves that the night was young and spent the rest of the night bar hopping with friends old and new in the East Village.
Sleeping in and in and in until….a lazy late afternoon brunch at Prune in the East Village (bloody mary a must) followed by a meander through Soho and a simple dinner of perfectly grilled salmon and tuna panzanella among the happy crowd at Bianca on Bleecker Street.
Another lazy morning (a big advantage of staycationing in your own apartment: no morning interruptions from housekeeping and you always know where you can get a good cup of coffee) gave way to a trip to Brooklyn to check out the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and its next door neighbor, the Brooklyn Museum of Art. One of my classes this past term met in the Brooklyn Museum. When the weather got a little warmer late in the term, I poked my head into the botanic garden after class and caught a glimpse of the stunning gardens and knew I had to bring Tim. We walked past the amazing lilac grove and the rose garden, through the Japanese gardens and settled on the grassy lawn next to the peonies. In the late afternoon we walked next door to the museum – I showed Tim some of the objects I worked with in my American furniture class and one of my favorite period rooms, the Moorish Smoking Room from John D. Rockefeller’s 1860s brownstone.After the museum we hopped on the subway to Brooklyn Heights for dinner at Noodle Pudding. Divine, as always. When we first moved to New York and lived just at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, we would walk to Noodle Pudding and bask in the glow of happy people eating some of the most perfect Italian food we’ve found yet in New York (that’s saying a lot, I know, and perhaps many are sure to disagree). After dinner we caught the last of the sun in a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.
A boat tour around Manhattan has long been on our list, but when it came to planning to fork over a small fortune for a guided cruise, we decided there was a better option: the Staten Island Ferry. Cost? Zero. We cruised over to the island with high hopes of a tasty lunch (our trusty Chowhound had provided some promising ideas) but found just about everything to be closed. So we cruised back and, by this time it was pretty late in the day, so naturally we wandered up toward Gramercy for some wine and small plates at Casa Mono. One dish in particular, lamb chops with peas and mint puree, tasted like a perfect spring day.
On Tuesday we went to MoMA for lunch and a look-see. For all my museum visiting around the city, I have spent shockingly little time in MoMA since it reopened a few years back (Joanna introduced me to the fun of a leisurely lunch there). Nothing like the promise of delicious treats to entice me: MoMA’s cafeteria elevates museum lunching to a new standard. Delicious, simple food served in a sleek setting. Not to mention a killer cookies and ice cream dessert. After lunch we wandered through the photography exhibit, including my favorite, a photo wall titled Unknown Photographers: Ninety-two photographs in which the photographer’s shadow appears. Genius! This is this the kind of thing I would collect.
For dinner we went downtown to Wallse, the West Village outpost of Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Austrian culinary empire. This is the same genius behind Cafe Sabarsky, the lovely dining room at the Neue Galerie uptown serving comfort food, amazing sweets and the most elegant coffees (on a silver tray with a small glass of water) in a beautiful room overlooking Central Park. Wallse was a lovely meal — fresh ingredients, perfectly attentive (but not overly so) service, and portions that were just-right.
Thursday-Saturday we were in Delaware which I will post tomorrow!