Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

A Sea of Orange

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

Gates by the Water

Gates by the Water

This past month Central Park was transformed into a massive expression of art. Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude unveiled their latest project “The Gates”, 23 miles of billowy orange fabric hung from sixteen foot high vinyl frames. These gates are everywhere; placed every few feet on the winding footpaths of the park. The orange fabric blows briskly in the wind, making the exhibit come alive.

Gates from Above

Gates from Above

This art exhibit has certainly been controversial. It is sheer magnificence to some, while others feel it is offensive and a deterrent to the natural beauty of the park. I personally think that this burst of orange is fun. It adds life to the park during the bleakest month of the winter season.

One thing everyone will agree on, is that “The Gates” has been a mega-event. It has been the most talked about art happening that I can remember. So, while Christo and Jeanne-Claude certainly view Central Park differently than Monet would have; you have to tip your hat to these artists for making a statement, and making everyone take notice.

The Oyster Bar

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Last week I was in Grand Central in New York City around lunchtime and thought I would revisit The Oyster Bar. This restaurant first opened in 1913, and is a New York institution. I had this hankering for fried oysters, and I thought this would be a sure bet. I had not been to The Oyster Bar for over 20 years, but I thought if any place should excel at oysters, this must be it. Walking into this restaurant you can’t help but be in awe of the famed vaulted tile ceiling designed by Raphael Guastavino. The décor of the restaurant is “no frills” . The seating area to the left of the doorway has red checkered tablecloths. To the right is a simple linoleum countertop similar to a luncheonette. I thought it was a retro look, and it gave me the impression that the restaurant’s primary concern was not ambiance, but was about serving the best fresh seafood.

After a bit of a wait I received the menu, and as anticipated, it offered a wide selection of oysters and other seafood. I ordered the fried oysters that I had been craving. I also asked for a glass of Gruner Veltliner. The waitress asked “which wine?” Then she asked “what number is it?” My enthusiasm now plummeted very rapidly, as expectation was being overshadowed by reality.

The bottom line is that the oysters were barely better than the frozen ones you can buy at a supermarket, and the service was poor at best. What a shame!

Worth Seeking Out…

Monday, August 16th, 2004
  • Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, N.Y. is having their annual tomato tasting on August 28th at 9am. It is a smorgasbord of heirlooms, with over 35 varieties available.
  • The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park of NYC is a retro food stand run by famed restaurateur Danny Meyer. They’ve stepped back into the ’50s by serving hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and shakes. The burgers are delicious, flavorful and juicy. The fries are also very good. The Chicago hotdog is unique; it is topped with among other things cucumber, pickle, and peppers…more toppings than I care for. But this is a fun way to enjoy lunch in the park.
  • Apples are just coming into season. It is a fun outing to go to an apple orchard and pick your own, but if that is inconvenient then a farmers markets will be your best choice.
  • Vento Trattoria recently opened in the hot meatpacking district, and it is a more casual spin-off of the 3-star Osteria Fiamma. It is a huge restaurant with over 150 seats outside alone. It’s quite a scene. The good news is that the food is quite good, especially the pizza and pastas. It is located at 675 Hudson St, NYC (212)699-2400

Arthur Avenue – Italian Food Mecca in the Bronx

Friday, June 25th, 2004

If you are not able to get to Italy this summer, then take a trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It is a tiny Italian neighborhood that has changed very little over the years, and that is what is so great. Pasta is made fresh all day long. Every third store sells sausage and Parmigiano Reggiano. A fishmonger shucks clams on the sidewalk. And the espresso shop reminds you of Italy, not of Starbucks. Arthur Avenue has maintained its authenticity, with many fabulous stores. It is alive, and worth visiting just to see how the neighborhood has maintained its culture. But it is also a mecca for fresh, high quality Italian food, with the added bonus of being very reasonably priced.

Biancardi's

Biancardi's

Although there are many excellent stores in this six block enclave, there are a few that I always visit. For meats, Biancardi’s is outstanding. There must be 10 butchers working here, they offer everything from lamb chops to guincale (meat from the cheek of a pig). The quality is great, and the prices are a steal compared with Manhattan. Calabria Pork store is another butcher, and sausage is one of its specialties. Just look up at the hundreds of dried salumi hanging from the ceiling and your mouth will begin to water. For pasta, Borgatti’s Ravioli and Noodle shop can’t be beat. They make fresh pasta all day long right before your eyes, and their cavatelli is my favorite. Down the block is Teitel Bros, a deli with cans of tomatoes and olive oil stacked to the ceiling. Although they have all the typical sliced meats and cheeses, it is the place to stock up on canned goods.
Olive Oil & Tomatoes

Olive Oil & Tomatoes

Gallon size cans of olive oil, tins of salt packed anchovies, Italian tuna, and big cans of tomatoes…the prices can’t be beat. Mike’s deli in the main market area is the place for mortadella, prosciutto, and provolone, and they make killer sandwiches for lunch. If you want a more substantial lunch, try Roberto’s for a huge dish of fresh pasta. Madonia Bakery is a must for those with a craving for Italian cookies, or some biscotti. And since you will start eating the cookies before you get home, why not have an espresso to wash them down.

Worth seeking out…

Monday, April 19th, 2004
  • There are many hot sauces on the market, but my favorite is Frontera Chipotle hot sauce. It has the same heat as Tabasco, but the smoky sweetness gives it a depth of flavor. Available at grocery stores or www.fronterakitchens.com.
  • Sauce Aioli by Delouis fils is a garlic mayonnaise that is a great dipping sauce. It’s a great alternative to a cocktail sauce or tarter sauce. It works well with shrimp, scallops or mussels. Available at gourmet markets.
  • Maile Dijon Mustard continues to be my favorite mustard. It’s a sharp acidic blend that Maile has been making since 1747. Although they now make many flavored mustards, the traditional Dijon is my favorite. Widely available at grocery or specialty stores.
  • Casa Mano is a Spanish Tapas restaurant recently opened by Mario Batali. It’s a tiny place with only 13 small tables, and an additional 13 stools at the bar. The food is fun, well prepared, and boldly seasoned, typical of a Batali restaurant. A few favorites were pumpkin & goat cheese croquetas, brussels sprouts a la plancha, ramps with romesco, scallops with cava & chorizo, and wild boar with escalivada. For those bored with the routine, try the cock’s combs, sweetbreads or the tripe. An extensive Spanish wine list is available. It’s located at 52 Irving Place, NYC.