Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Colors of Christmas

Ahhh, the colors of Christmas. Right now the Empire State building is red and green to celebrate the holiday season. Just this weekend I captured the colors of Christmas at one of my favorite places to stop into.

I know they put these up every year, but the hanging decorations at the Time Warner Center are wonderful. Especially since you get a great view of Columbus Circle in the background. This is my attempt to capture the ornaments as they change color...

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Day of Winter!

With any luck, the snow will still be on the ground in Connecticut on Friday. A White Christmas is always nice (and it's one of my favorite holiday movies, and it's a great show to see on Broadway).

This is a snapshot of the snow from outside our apartment entrance. The picture was snapped on Sunday, but today is officially the first day of winter so I thought today was an appropriate day to break out the snow shot.

A look down the street on our way to get coffee:

And from the warm toasty apartment looking out (a better vantage point):

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Continuing on the theme of holiday shots in New York City...

We ventured out in the snow today to our favorite little coffee place, Joe the Art of Coffee. Any excuse to use the North Face snow boots and snow pants, of course. On the way to pilates class after coffee, I snapped this shot of the Empire Dinner on 10th Ave & 21st Street. I love the retro facade and the holiday wreaths. Very holiday.

After long time ownership under it's current (now previous), the establishment is under new ownership. The group behind The Coffee Shop in Union Square will reopen with a new menu sometime in 2010.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tis the Season!

I've been quite bad about posting these past few weeks, and there are so many wonderful holiday things to capture and post. Alas, I'm a little under the weather, so we are going to ease back in with an easy one.

This is from the Chelsea Market. I loved the overwhelming number of lights they used to decorate the arch. The market is such a little hidden gem of tasty places to eat (check out Freeman's - we've been twice now) and food stores for tasty treats and staples for your Italian kitchen. We enjoy Chelsea Wine Vau

I've discovered the all Christmas Music All the Time station in NJ, so I'm certainly in the spirit!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

The holidays are officially here. The pop up Christmas tree selling spots are the surest sign that that Christmas time is upon us. I noticed the beginnings of one such set up on 9th Ave last Wednesday, and they've sprouted up all over since then.

Last night we were out in Tribeca, walking around the neighborhood to waste a little bit of time before meeting friends for a play. I had to insist we walk through the display so I could get a good smell of the trees. As you can see, it was pretty busy at 9:30 pm.

The trees had been cut in North Carolina less than 24 hours before (thus the great fresh smell) and were Douglas Firs. There were a few that must have been about 14 feet. That certainly won't fit in our apartment, but we were assured that they were popular in the Tribeca loft area.

The holiday spirit is not dampened by small New York apartments. This is one of my favorite times of the year. Buildings and streets are decorated with lights, stores have fun skating is open in Central Park, Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center (there are alot of places to ice skate in Manhattan). And it's ok to consume lots of hot beverages like hot chocolate to keep warm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Time!

It was just the 2 of us for Thanksgiving this year, as I have to head into work tomorrow and it was a long commute and lots of traffic to head to CT to be with the family. So to share our day, I snapped a few shots (to make mom proud!).

We targeted a 6 pm dinner time, and made it pretty close. After a leisurely afternoon and a little walk down to the wine store we headed back home via the High Line. Actually, on our way we saw the beginnings of the Christmas tree season. It's funny, but there was this old truck with a cab on it that sold trees in front of the Theological Seminary on 9th Ave. It smelled soooo good walking through there on the way to the gym (the pine smell reminded me of Christmas every evening). Apparently, they brought their trees in from Alaska. Well, the block became luxury condominiums, but the van is back this year! Just up the street.

Anyhow, I digress. Dinner was a yummy success. We had a free range chicken (that's what they were selling at Trader Joe's, and Food Inc. definitely had an impact on our choice. That and the fact the oven is small.), along with stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Doesn't the chicken look good?? It is cooking in my 15 inch brownie pan, but that seemed to work just fine.

There was only a slight problem. I had to remove all but one rack to fit the chicken in the oven, so when it came time to add the sweet potatoes, they were just slightly tipped in the oven (luckily, no butter dripped to the bottom). And the extra stuffing just had to go in later.

And the sweet potatoes (thank you, Amy, for the recipe!). This will give you a sense of the oven and what I was dealing with. Those stacked pans are the ones I typically store in the oven. And look at that homemade gravy! No lumps!

Look at this masterful carving!

And now full.

We were actually so full, we had to save dessert until tomorrow. Must have been a success! I'm off to work tomorrow, so will miss (happily) that made rush to the stores at 5 am. Not that I've ever been out there at that hour anyway. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Happy Early Turkey Day!

Just getting Thanksgiving started a little early. Since we are in the city for this holiday, and have read about it a few times, we took a trip to the UWS to see the inflation of the Macy's Day Parade balloons. Us and about a million other people.

So, we saw the start of the balloon area from across the street, where we caught a glimpse of Sponge Bob Squarepants resting on the ground:

And then we heard from the policeman/tour guide that the line to wander through is about 2 hours. From the looks of it, it was also about 20 people deep. So, after taking in the holiday scene we headed south for some matzo ball soup. Perfect for drizzly night!

Tomorrow is the first big attempt at Thanksgiving dinner in our little kitchen...more to come on that!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cookies and Hot Chocolate (round 2)

We've been on a bit of a search to try hot chocolate around the city. I like mine sweet and milky, and on the hot side. I'll admit to enjoying a cup of sugar free Swiss Miss at the office, so am not that particular. But there is something about a chilly day and a warm chocolate drink.

I will have to report on our first official hot chocolate of the season another time (after I try and find the name of the cafe!). So this is our second official taste testing in 2009.

It was a Sunday in November and were craving a sweet treat post lunch in the West Village. And so rounded the block to head towards Milk & Cookies (Commerce Street). The goal was to procure a cookie, but we ended up with 2 free mini cups of hot chocolate because our little barista/cookie man had some left over from the previous customer.

I have to admit that I was a fan of this one. A bit on the sweeter side, good taste of chocolate, and very satisfying.

The little store smells like fresh baked cookies and the desserts themselves are great. As we were enjoying our little table, we saw a tour guide lead her group inside to smell the shop and then bring out a plate of cookies for everyone to try. Apparently, we aren't the only ones that think it's worth stopping at.

Good to the last bite!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Tarts: Just Delightful

Three Tarts is the little shop you want to own. Located on 9th Ave at 20th street, the store is a mix of gift items ("for home and baby" as they say on their website) and baked goods. The shop came together after 3 culinary school classmates, the "Three Tarts" as a classmate called them, reunited after stints at Spice Market, Payard and Cafe Boulud. I love stories like this.

I have to admit that I haven't bought a gift here, but love to peruse. Notecards, gifts for the house, baby onsie "bouquets" just draws you in for a peek! And you can't ignore the chalkboard with the special treats available.

And then there are the baked goods. I had to snap a picture of the display. They have a full range of little cookies, chocolates, mini desserts, ice cream sandwiches in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. I stopped in on my way home and bought a homemade graham cracker. I didn't know anyone but Keebler made them! It was the perfect little treat and gave me the energy I needed for the 10 blocks home.

They've recently expanded the sitting area, so I will probably be back soon to warm up on a cold day. I'm now on a mission to sample hot chocolate around the city now that there is a nip in the air.

Many of their products are sold on their website, so take a look for yourself if you can't make it to Three Tarts:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Running and Running and Running...for 26.2 Miles

I missed the Halloween party with the girls down in DC this weekend, which was sad. But we had to make a new addition to the family because I need to remedy my commuting situation. The little Elantra hatchback should be on the road shortly!

Since I was here this weekend, I did make it out Sunday afternoon to see the NYC Marathon and to support my friend, Joe. Honestly, running a marathon is not something I feel the need to do. Triathlons and half marathons work quite well for me. But I'm a huge supporter of other people's training and races.

I was the designated mile 22-er, and was supposed to be at 120th street, 1/3rd of the way towards 5th Avenue to await Joe. According to some book, this is where people hit the wall, right before a slight incline up 5th Ave towards Central Park. I was fresh and ready to run, so didn't think the incline was really much at all. I suppose that after 22 miles, it's tough. And I found Joe (he wore a red shirt, the crowd was light at this spot and I had a good view of the runners rounding the corner).

I thought this was a great picture capturing the scene and the fall colors from my vantage point:

Seeing everyone running is truly inspiring. 42,000 people run this race, and this year was the 40th Anniversary. I so appreciate people cheering me on during the triathlon that I like to give people shout outs and yell encouraging words. Some people are clever and put their name on their shirt. I'll admit that it makes it easy for me to cheer them on! I love it when they look over and smile after hearing their name, with a little more pep in their step.

This shot is right before the runners turn into the park at 92nd street, where quite a crowd forms to cheer. And this is where I had to drop off since "running friends" can't go into the park.

Can't wait to cheer people on next year!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

These are pumpkins from the Union Square Greenmarket, love the fall colors!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Carlton Arms Hotel & Artmess

I am always up for seeing something new, something I may not have seen before. So was more than ready to go along last weekend for an art exhibit at the Carlton Arms Hotel. Art on a Friday night? Sounds great! I like to introduce culture into my life, especially when our friend, Amy, invites us (She is Ms. Brooklyn art scene and works at Sotheby's).

After a varied past, it became a respectable hotel in the 1950s, but not for long (according to the website). After a period of Single-Room-Occupancy, it became a home for hippies, transvestites and hookers.

A new owner took over in the 1980s, and the rooms were scrubbed, cleaned and rented out to travelers and transients looking for something not so hip, but at a good rate. It started with a mural on one wall, and then one by one artists were invited to paint rooms.

Today, all 54 rooms and 4 hallways are fully painted with colorful scenes. This event celebrated the opening of 3 more rooms (the event was entitled Artbreak Hotel Unconscious Artmess and is held about twice a year). There was actual artwork being created and live music.

Here is a picture of NYC on a wall:

A new room opening last Friday night. Yes, that is a little sink in the corner:

And a look down the staircase. Yes, everything is painted!

It was a very artsy crowd, if I can describe it that way. A mix of a art opening and real life living. It was definitely interesting to see, and the owner was very cool and clearly loved what he was able to do. I will admit that when I first walked around, I thought I was in someone's house and wasn't quite sure what was going on. There was shampoo out for the shared bathroom and someone going into their room that I was standing in front of.

Just a little bit of exploring new places in New York....we mixed this event up with a little CPK that night. Yes, crazy, but it is the one place you can go and there isn't a line on a Friday. It was really a little bit of a treat to walk right in and be seated.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Million Dollar Cookies

A few weeks ago, my friend Emmie was here for the NY Food and Wine festival. She was so sweet to bring a gift with her! Granted, I'm not sure my couch for the evening warranted a gift.

I have to admit, I love seeing these and think they are perfect for gifting. So cute, perfect for the home, and extra perfect for a baker.

The jar didn't last long, as last Saturday seemed like a perfect baking day. Rainy and cool outside. How can you say no to cookies on a day like this? You would think this is virtually fool proof but realized after combining the butter and the egg to cream, that I was supposed to cream the butter then add the egg. I thought it would good enough and would still work, despite being a little runny.

And they did. Slightly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Someone already sampled!

And then ready to eat:

I have not mastered the art of food pictures. Either there is too much flash or not enough (like here), so thoughts are appreciated!

Just a short post after a busy week. I'm still settling in at my new job and trying to manage the commuting logistics (or at least stay sane during Lincoln Tunnel traffic). I see some baking in my future, but not sure what yet. M's mom sent us her pumpkin chocolate chip loaf, so that is a perfect weekend treat. I was able to get the recipe, but haven't made it yet myself. Somehow I don't think it's going to be the same.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cranberry Time (or Wonderberry Time)

Wow, it's been a week and I haven't posted! I have to apologize, it was my first full week back at work in many months, so there was a bit of transition to having my days filled!

I've been saving this post since we visited Rockefeller Center about 2 weeks ago actually. I went up to Midtown with M. because he had a lunch meeting. It was cancelled at the last minute, so we ate lunch at Pret A Manger in the concourse by the ice skating rink. They were actually working on it that day, so it should be opening soon!

While we were enjoying the nice day and not working, we wandered through the Plaza at 30 Rock and it was cranberry display day. In addition to lots of Ocean Spray free samples, there were actually mini cranberry bogs built.

I tend towards being cynical at times so figured that the people wading in the "bogs" were Ocean Spray marketing folks. I was pleasantly surprised that these were real life cranberry growers! The woman we talked to (below) is actually from New Jersey and a family run farm. If you didn't know, Ocean Spray, is actually a cooperative of growers. Who knew?

I thought Massachusetts was the biggest producer of cranberries, in part because I toured the Ocean Spray factory there as a little girl. Wisconsin takes home the prize, with New Jersey not far behind.

The cranberries actually grow on shrub like vines close to the ground. Then the fields are flooded and a harvester machine comes through to loosen the berries. White cranberry juice comes from white berries that just haven't turned red yet.

All in all, a fascinating little discovery that day. As for eating them, I enjoy dried cranberries in my oatmeal and "chunky" cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. But alas, my sister is a die-hard cranberries-from-a can-with-the-ring kind of girl, so that's what we have at my house.

Any good cranberry recipes out there?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NY Food & Wine Festival

What a lucky girl am I? My great friend, Emmie, was in town on Friday for a work-related trip to the NY Food & Wine Festival. As a dedicated friend, I accompanied her to the grand tasting on Friday. With notebook in one hand and my glass in another, we entered Pier 54 on the west side for a few hours of tasting and learning, and tasting and tasting...

Here was one I liked. Or did I just like taking pictures of the bottles? I can't remember:

And another:

I discovered a new Australian "verde" wine that reminded me of fresh green apples, so maybe we'll be seeing more of that out there.

Emmie was a great teacher, explaining more about how the distribution levels, the variance by state, and then just some helpful wine info along the way. NYC is still a mom & pop wine store state, so it was interesting to hear the different perspectives on the recent law to open up sales to the Targets and Costcos of the world (it didn't pass).

This is a really bad picture of Fabio and Jeff, both from Top Chef NY. Really looking forward to pregnant Padma on the next season.

The event actually goes on all weekend, but I never bought formal tickets to any other events. On Saturday, it was a sunny but windy day and we went back down to the Meatpacking to enjoy espresso at the illy coffee display in the heart of all the food activity. It is actually a shipping container that opens up to form seating areas, and an area for free hot drinks. And there is always a lot to look at down here. From the warmth of my own apartment, I caught up on Eater blog, which reported out interviews with chefs who stopped by the Standard Hotel lobby.

Big changes ahead, so hoping that I can continue to post a few days a week. Yes, after quite a few months, I'll be heading back to the work world. Have a few more posts from my out-and-about activities last week, so look for those soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hudson River on the High Line

This is my last post in this week's focus on the High Line. Thank you for joining me! Today I'm off to a wine event during New York's Food & Wine Festival with my very good friend Emmie, otherwise known as the Aspiring Southern Housewife.

So here we go with one last little piece of the park that I enjoy.

This is the Hudson River.

And so is this:

Under Chelsea Market Passage on the High Line, you can view "The River That Flows Both Ways". It is an installation of 700 panes of colored glass designed by Spencer Finch. This is his first major public exhibit in New York City.

How does this relate to the Hudson River?

On June 12, 2008, Finch photographed the Hudson River’s surface once every minute for 11 hours on a tugboat. The Creative Time website describes it best, so will borrow from their site:

The color of each pane of glass was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically.Time is translated into a grid, reading from left to right and top to bottom, capturing the varied reflective and translucent conditions of the water’s surface. The work, like the river, is experienced differently depending on the light levels and atmospheric conditions of the site.

He tries to capture the color of water.

Finch lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and has a degree from RISD. He works on both installations and paper, and according to the High Line site, he works with difficult subjects and tries to explore the nature of color, light, and memory. He "works to operate in the gap between the objectivity of scientific data and the subjective nature of perception".

I think the exhibit is especially interesting when you know the story and then see the reality.

The Standard Hotel on the High Line

You can't possibly discuss the High Line without touching on the Standard Hotel, an Andre Balazs creation. But first I have to recount my initial encounter with the structure. Back in the day when I lived in Connecticut and we'd drive into the city on the weekends, we would park in the meatpacking (easy parking). I would watch as this giant concrete thing came up out of the ground. Was it a new bridge to NJ? It was just so odd looking. Well, now I know it was the elevator bank.

The hotel rises to great heights over the High Line, and you walk right underneath.

At first it was only open for a select crowd, those in the know. Which means I probably could not have gotten a room. What is most interesting is that the rooms have floor to ceiling windows and it is not uncommon at all for some exhibitionism. It goes on all day and night, from what I've read (have not seen).

The hotel sports an upper level bar, nicknamed the Boom Boom room, with a 20 person hot tub. This is a little creepy to me. But the views from the 18th floor are probably amazing. A room for private events (the High Line Room) just opened with views level with the High Line, and this may be more my style.

Street level, you can enjoy The Standard Grill, or an outdoor beer garden next door. The Grill has gotten pretty good reviews, although it's pretty hard to get a table. If you do snag one, you are likely to see a celeb or two.

We've walked through here on a Thursday night and the hotel entrance area was hopping. Just like a scene from SATC when the girls are out in the meatpacking on a busy night. It's quite easy to take a look inside or enjoy the modern furniture for some rest. It's all a really bright yellow, as is the actual entrance.

For Fashion Week, they knitted stockings for the posts out front.

If you are ready to book your room, or just want to read more the Standard Hotel site:

For the "Exhibitionist Enthusiasm" check out the NY Post piece via NY Mag.


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