New York Articles

I Only Have Three Days to Tell You About The Good Witch

04.4.18

Joanna Prisco is The Good Witch. She’s also Kai’s wife, but mostly she’s Duke’s mom. And she’s a very good sport.

She ate glittery rainbow bagels with me and my family because that was the thing that the kids needed to do, and she brought Duke so that we could all ooh and ahh over him. We haven’t stopped ooh-ing or ahh-ing. Duke is why Instagram must always exist.

But more timely, Joanna’s next baby (of sorts) will be The Good Witch.

Joanna was fired from her job after attending the Women’s March and refusing to remove photos of it from her personal social media accounts. There are different routes one can take in a situation like this and Joanna found the silver lining. She’s taken a deep breath, developed some new recipes, and launching a business that supports other women.

This is how we get to The Good Witch. 

From Joanna:

The shop will be a modern coffee bar, owned, operated by and dedicated to empowering women. Located in the Lower Hudson Valley (specifically, Westchester’s river towns), the cafe counter will serve ethically sourced, Brooklyn-roasted Parlor Coffee beans as well as a menu of housemade savories and sweets, such as spicy breakfast sandwiches, Vietnamese pandan waffles, summer rolls, fudgy bundts and miniature mochi cakes. Meanwhile, our pantry section will feature a larder of prepackaged goods created by female food artisans, such as Hot Bread Kitchen and The Jam Stand, cookbooks by local women authors (think Dinner: A Love Story) and female-driven food mags like Cherry Bombe and Gather Journal. And we plan to implement a calendar of dedicated specials with proceeds going directly toward nonprofits that benefit women, such as I Am That Girl, She Should Run, Girls Not Brides, among others.

 

In this way, we aim to create an environment that is accommodating to mothers who need a respite in between appointments (stroller accessible, loads of high chairs, charming changing stations) as well as fosters a deeper sense of sisterhood via book readings, food science workshops, panel discussions and community outreach.

I have only endorsed Kickstarters from people I know. And even then only when there has been a compelling story and a need. I’m basically using this one to pre-purchase some food and coffee in the Hudson Valley.

Also there’s a Wall of Femme. Irresistible!

Communities need shops like The Good Witch. And humankind needs to know that sometimes you’ll be fired for doing the right thing. Humankind also needs to know that sometimes being fired is the greatest thing. It allows you to stop, breathe, and pave a new road.

 

My Family is Weirder Than Your Family

09.7.14

My Mom and Doc are in New York City for her BFFs from Kindergarten’s 50th anniversary surprise party. This means that Mom and her BFF have been friends for approximately 900 years, give or take a few.

In any event, My Mom’s been texting and emailing pictures of her trip as she goes.

First they had a snafu with the packing.

wire hair terrier suitcase

Then they arrived in the city, fortunately without the dog in the suitcase. I received an email with the subject line “NY after dark” and this photo was the only content.

new york city garbage

My aunt was copied too and she replied with her view at twilight, which is actually quite lovely.

maine at twilight

My cousin hijacked it all demanding that we all fight cancer.

fight cancer

And then we all chatted about how buying pepper spray is way more effective than a breast self exam.

Mom is super excited that Russ and Daughters is expanding

Russ and Daughters

But really? Ugh, pickled herring and smoked trout have got to be root causes of the diaspora. That place is 90% disgusting with a little lox thrown in to placate people like me.

So basically they’re just like every other retired Jewish couple from LA. One of which loves to visit New York for no good reason and the other to revisit her childhood which seldom went past 18th street. Right up until this point we’re a family like yours. We visit old friends, notice trash, dote on our animals, laugh at pinkwashing and eat food that isn’t very good but brings back memories.

Then I get this picture. There’s no explanation. There’s nothing about Doc losing his mind. There’s no mention of a half a century working in hospitals. There’s no attempt at logic. There is just my Step Father getting acupuncture from a blindfolded man on the street.

And there I am left wondering. Did they trick me into thinking they are normal? Could this be normal? There’s a storefront so they can’t be the only patients, can they?

 

Thanksgiving in New York City (with a teen and a tween)

12.4.13

I have included a list of links at the end of the post.

Traveling with a 15 year old girl and a 12 year old boy and two (very young) parents requires flexibility and the knowledge that not everyone will have their needs met at the same moment in time. Every day every member of the family will have their wants and needs met for a large portion of the day, but unlike solo or couples travel there will undoubtedly be compromise involved.

Our first compromise was the hotel. Mr. G likes full service hotels. He likes a lobby lounge and a spa (even if it’s never used), a workout room and a restaurant. I have the same wish list when we visit resort locations but in New York City I just want a decent sized room, an immaculate bathroom and a small bill upon checkout. I don’t want to spend time in the room and I don’t want to pay a premium for a room that I have no interest in lounging in. I picked the perfect hotel for me, The Affinia 50 (50th between 3rd & Lex). Mr. G thought it was “a bit dumpy” but I would have to disagree with him. The kids had a great room with plenty of space to run around and a view of 3rd Avenue (hey, it’s a view of something) and we had enough space to move around and a view of a brick wall (bonus: you can walk around naked with the shades up).

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy the Affinia 50 so much is that ten years ago when we were there in a four day blackout the staff and management helped us carry the children up and down 22 flights of stairs. Twenty two flights of stairs. In the dark. In 100+ degrees.

best luggage tag

So yeah, brand loyalty and all of that.

We spent about $3,500 on the two rooms, much like at the Viceroy. Unlike the Viceroy the rooms were immaculate, the staff was friendly and Rome (the doorman) would greet us with, “Welcome home Family.” and the biggest smile you ever saw every time we walked in the door. If Rome ever decides to work at another hotel you should probably think about staying there too. He’s that lovely.

I love that there’s no minibar and I can put my milk & fruit in the small refrigerator without having to ask permission. I don’t mind that there’s no lobby bar & the business center on the 2nd floor offers free coffee and wifi, that’s enough for me. I travel with my own wifi anyhow.

Our first night there we ate at Gyu Kaku (50th and 3rd). It was raining and they’re a chain and we’d come in rather late. It’s not really great but not terrible either. It’s also moderately priced.

The first morning was cold and rainy. I walked to Ess a Bagel (3rd between 50th & 51st) and we all indulged. At this point in my life I find carb eating women to be quite rebellious. I don’t know many rebellious women. New York bagels are big and doughy and they put half a stick of cream cheese on them. They’re equal parts delicious and disgusting and I suspect that if I lived in New York City I’d never eat another bagel but I’m a tourist so I eat my bagel and gain my first pound.

We stopped by Bloomingdales because Jane didn’t pack a coat. I will not tell you how angry I was. I’m trying to not cuss here.

No one else eats their bagels and we end up having lunch at Jackson Hole (64th between 2nd and 3rd). This is a childhood favorite of Mr. G’s and we struggle to eat not a burger knowing that we’re going to have steak later that evening. Note: the only thing worth eating at Jackson Hole is the burger.

Then we shopped. Jane and I shopped like we were headed for the chair. It was like a slingshot sent us to Madison Avenue and we found ourselves at Chanel, Prada, Hermes (where are we at on the H belt? Tacky or fabulous?), Gucci (hadn’t been to Gucci since the 80’s… surprised that it’s reasonably priced), Pucci and then I succumbed to Jane’s demands to do a Gossip Girl tour of the city. This included visiting the steps of the Met but NOT actually going in. Apparently they eat lunch there. No art for us, Gossip Girls do not “do” museums.

We headed back to the stores and Jane went into Alice & Olivia. It’s a fabulous boutique for her and most of her dresses seem to come from there. I went next door to Helmut Lang and and then came to see what Jane might have found. She was trying on dresses and came close to finding one that she loved but it just didn’t lay flat in the back. That’s when the sales lady turned her attention toward me and asked if we had “classic leather pants” and tried to tell me that leather leggings were classic. Although she had at least 19 years of wisdom gathered up I explained to her that $800 leather leggings are not classic and that mothers and daughters who shop at the same boutique never end up looking good. She argued with me and told me that they have grandmothers who buy outfits at Alice & Olivia. You can’t save the world, we left empty handed. Poor Jane still doesn’t own a pair of “classic leather jeggings”.

We bought macaroons at Ladurée (Madison between 70th & 71st) and enjoyed the experience and the packaging nearly as much as the flavors. Do not miss vanilla or salted caramel. Jane had first experienced Ladurée in London this spring and hasn’t stopped talking about it since. It’s worth a visit as the macaroons are both delicately sweet and decadently flavorful.

Jane and I walked and nibbled and stopped for coffee and found ourselves back at the hotel in time to get ready for dinner at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse. By “getting ready” I meant it was time to loosen our belts. Peter Luger is another of Mr. G’s favorites and the Brooklyn location holds many fond childhood memories for him and now for our kids too. We can’t visit New York without dinner at Lugers. It would be incomplete. We ordered steak for four, tomatoes & onions, potatoes and spinach and we felt like a family. It was one of those dinners where you look around the table and swim in gratitude that your children love each other and that they’re kinder, better and smarter than you and your spouse. It was good. Steak in butter has that effect on me I suppose.

We left Brooklyn fat and happy. This is a good time to mention that Uber is just as fantastic in New York as it is in LA. Possibly even better. We took town cars everywhere, sometimes they were SUVs, they were all clean, they were all safe, they were all not-taxis and didn’t cost much more than a taxi. I was happy. If you want to try Uber here’s a coupon to save you $10.

Thursday was Thanksgiving so the city was pretty quiet. We wandered over to Bowlmor in Chelsea because their website fairly screamed that Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers is open. It wasn’t open. We then headed to Times Square because Alexander wanted to bowl and on our way to Lucky Strike we wandered into another Bowlmor and the three of them played three games (nine total) for $130. We can just file that under “things that aren’t worth the money”. It’s my mistake for not asking about prices but none were posted and it hadn’t dawned on me that bowling would ever cost quite that much. Lesson learned.

bowlmor open thanksgiving

After the Bowlmor shakedown we wandered through Times Square and popped into Bobby Van’s for a very late lunch. Jane had a pan seared scallop salad that’s one of the best I’ve ever had. I never order scallops (or rack of lamb) in restaurants because my own are better than most and they aren’t really that difficult to prepare but I’m willing to concede that Bobby Van’s scallops are better than mine.

I made Jane go into St. Patrick’s Cathedral because churches can be so beautiful. It’s under construction and the presence of money boxes everywhere just made me think of all the money the LA Archdiocese took from the community and all the children they abused. When Jane started lighting candles at every altar I wanted to tell her to stop, that it was disrespectful but then I realized that some part of me wanted to disrespect this institution for the damage they’ve done and the damage they continue to do.

We kicked around a little more and rested up because it was Thanksgiving. There was more eating to do.

I’m pretty sure you won’t be shocked to hear that I gained a little weight on this trip.

We had Thanksgiving Dinner in Central Park. If you ever find yourself in New York City looking for a restaurant to enjoy Thanksgiving I’d recommend the Loeb Boathouse. It was reasonably priced and since Alexander and I are the only two who enjoy a typical Thanksgiving dinner it was important to find a menu that would offer Jane & Mr. G a protein besides turkey. Mr. G had prime rib and Jane went off the kids’ menu and had some pasta, which was not at all child sized and was absolutely delicious. The dinner was beautiful without being stuffy and elegant without being fussy. The service was spectacular and the view was unbeatable. The cheesecake and pumpkin pie were good but skip the chocolate cake.

We spent the day Friday visiting with family and I thought I had reservations for Serendipity 3. Unfortunately it was for the DC location and apparently it’s a mistake made so often that they honor the reservations. The waiting area was pretty full and Jane needed to use the restroom so while she went to the back of the store I checked in with the hostess and then out of nowhere this guy appeared.

There were about a dozen people waiting for tables and out of the blue he started yelling at the top of his lungs, “I need to clear this place out. I can’t work like this. I need everyone waiting to go outside. The wait time is two to two and a half hours. If you don’t get out of here I’m going to shut everything down.” It was 35 degrees outside and almost everyone went outside. I didn’t. I was talking to the girls at the hostess desk. I asked them if he was always like that and they were apologetic and said he yells a lot. They said they could seat me quickly and tried to make things right.

My daughter came out to look for us and saw an empty front of the store and when I told her we couldn’t eat there because the manager was a crazy man who was kicking people out she was somewhere between pissed and sad. Yep. I know the feeling. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to shake the feeling and strongly suspect that Serendipity is a place I’ll never return to.

It’s a good thing Dylan’s Candy Bar is at the corner. They’re actually nice to you.

We had dinner in Times Square at Ruby Foos. Great service, terrible food.

Then we saw Matilda. It was a wonderful performance and the kids were flawless but Mr. G and I were both uncomfortable having a cast of children working to entertain us at 11 o’clock on a Friday night. We’re both oddly sensitive to kids working. If you’re like us you won’t fully enjoy the show but make no mistake it’s quite enjoyable.

Saturday was spent running through Central Park after lunch downtown at Katz’s Deli. Like so many days lately there was a milestone. Alexander was running and jumping and calling for his sister to join him like she does every time and she toddled along next to me unable or unwilling to run and jump and play in her new wedge heels. Some milestones hurt.

Uber: only a sucker would grab a taxi at JFK or LAX. Just use uber and enjoy yourself

Affinia 50: The hotel I really enjoy and Mr. G tolerates

Gyu-Kaku: eh, it’ll get ‘er done

Ess-A-Bagel: OMG they ship!

Jackson Hole: our favorite location is on 64th but Mr. G assures me they’re all good.

The Met: some people actually see the collections. You should be one of them.

Alice & Olivia: here are the classic leather pants. Perfect for your 15 year old daughter or a 43 year old driving carpool…

Ladurée: with a nod to their French roots the website is difficult, fortunately the stores are lovely.

Peter Luger: FYI it’s cash only and it’s worth every penny

Bobby Vans: We went to Times Square and they also have a store in the AA terminal at Kennedy that’s pretty okay for airport food.

St. Patricks Cathedral:  beautiful gothic architecture, historically important building

Serendipity: fuck that, not linking there.

Dylan’s Candy Bar: the uptown alternative to Economy Candy (which we also visited for my obscure licorice needs and love of wasabi flavored nuts)

Matilda: You’ll probably love it. Mr. G and I have issues. We know it.

 

 

 

I Took my Fake Gay Mexican Son Tampon Shopping in NYC

04.5.12

It’s one o’clock in the morning and I’m standing in Duane Reade scanning the shelves for the right tampons while my Fake Gay Mexican Son says, “Um… don’t you use something else.”

“It sort of surprised me this time.” I muttered. “Actually it’s surprised me every month for almost 30 years. And why am I talking to you about this?”

Mercifully my Fake Gay Mexican Son has about a dozen sisters and a mother he’s very close to so the conversation wasn’t as awkward as it should have been.

We’d just finished an amazing late snack of empanadas in Hells Kitchen with Mary. A well manicured Persian hipster ran his hand along my ass quite accidentally and apologized by opening his heavily lined eyes cartoonishly, flipping his hand to the side and saying, “It’s okay I’m GAY.”

I muttered something about everyone being gay… for a year at least in college everyone is. Subtext: leave my ass alone, you’re young and pretty but I’m old and jaded and not in the mood for this shit. Go to your room.

Our empanadas were amazing but it was strange to be in New York with my LA gym buddy eating El Salvadoran food that should have been better in Los Angeles where we have actual El Salvadorans living… I guess New York has a few too. The ones who want things like winter and rain. Maybe Los Angeles just has the smart El Salvadorans.

Before the empanadas we’d attended Oprah’s LifeClass with Tony Robbins and before that we’d had drinks and appetizers at Oceanic. My Fake Gay Mexican Son swooned over Mandy and I think he’s decided to be the next single girl/guy… we will never know because he’s busy writing papers about me and Kim Kardashian and passing them off to unsuspecting Ivy League Professors as cultural anthropology.

The child is about to get a PhD in pop culture and now I have to worry about my tampons showing up in a dissertation.

Oprah Wants My Life and I Do Too

04.4.12

Last week I met Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She was everything I expected and my expectations were high.

While in St. Louis six of us were allowed to interview Oprah except we didn’t have cameras or even paper and pen. The team from OWN ran video and I’m hopeful that it will air as part of their behind the scenes features online.

Everyone introduced themselves to Ms. Winfrey and it became abundantly clear why she owned the airwaves for the more than two decades. When Oprah sets her sights on you she pulls the most relevant details out of you as if there’s a string attached and one tug from her unleashes everything. She is a remarkable woman embarking on a remarkable journey.

When Ms. Winfrey made her way to me I told her I was a blogger. I’m thinking that I was the only one in the group who didn’t have a related career. She said to me, “So you just sit around and write all day?”

“No I can’t just sit around and write all day. I have to actually do something so I have something to write about. I never miss picking my kids up from school and I never miss tennis.” I explained.

Oprah’s head whipped around in search of Sherri Salata and she said, “Sherry do you hear this? She never misses a tennis lesson. I think we’re doing something wrong here.” And then she turned to look at me and said, “You don’t need LifeClass you’re living the dream.”

And I knew she was right, because I am living the dream. The adjusted dream. The dream where we live modestly and my husband loves me and I love him just a little bit more than that and the kids love us but we secretly know that we love them more than they could ever love us because that’s the secret all parents share.

That dream.

I had a question for her and she gave me an answer I think I’ll remember for for as long as I blog. I asked Oprah how she dealt with negative feedback. I started to explain that bloggers get a lot of grief in comments and on places like twitter and her answer stunned me.

Oprah Winfrey went to on talk in detail about a woman who was mean to hear on twitter. She mentioned her name, twice. She went on to talk a little bit about the solution and quoted her friend Maya Angelou:

No one can hold a candle to the light that God shines upon you.

I think I got that quote right. It was really quite beautiful when Oprah told it to me and what struck me was that with all of her success and millions of people saying, “Oprah you changed my life, you made me better, you made my life happier.” Ms. Winfrey would still remember the name of one detractor on twitter and this made me love her a little.

It reminded me how vulnerable we can all be. It reminded me as a parent that although I may congratulate Jane on her accomplishments the things that she may remember are the failures and the criticisms. When I talk to Alexander after baseball games I need to be more aware of the good plays because it’s clear that he remembers and replays the bad ones, he doesn’t need any help with that.

I spent the day Tuesday in New York City. I did the chazzerai tour of the Lower East Side picking up wasabi peanuts from Economy Candy, tees from Katz’ Deli (and a sandwich for myself), and bagels from Kossar’s. I stopped into Ross and Daughters but I couldn’t bring myself to schlep a smoked trout on the plane. In hindsight I could have, the flight was all Chasidim and I could smell deli food everywhere.

I went uptown and found a pair of shoes at Bergdorf’s and then headed across Fifth Avenue to grab Jane a little charm from Tiffany and Co. As I walked toward the third floor elevator a familiar voice said, “Jessica!” and we left Tiffany to have a snack and talk about our kids. It was my friend Jon who used to live in LA but now lives in one of the Carolinas (North I think?).

It’s totally normal to run into your friends 3,000 miles from home. Right?

I’m still digesting the messages of Oprah’s LifeClass. At the very moment it seemed totally irrelevant to my own life something would resonate deeply. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

Northern Italian Food in the Southern Tip of Manhattan

04.29.11

Mr G and I had a fabulous day in Manhattan. We started our morning with a much needed trip to Bloomingdales (shut up I have my own definitions of need). We found him a beautiful pair of shoes, that I worry may end up never being worn again, but they delight me in that they are neither black nor brown and they are not loafers. We also replaced the Hugo Boss slim fit shirt that the dry cleaner lost. It’s an impossible shirt to find, and it’s the loveliest crisp white shirt to wear with jeans.

From Bloomies we went to meet friends for lunch, and from lunch we went to the Highline. Two worldly friends who told me that the Highline Park is one of the most beautiful places they’ve been. Mr G and I made our way downtown and climbed the stairs to an immature garden on an abandoned railway platform. We entered the Highline near 20th Street, which is clearly the newest part of the project, as we walked downtown the plants and trees grew lusher and more mature. It appears that the project began at the southernmost point and procceded north. The progression is spectacular and I love that the the tiniest saplings are at one end while only slightly larger ones are a few blocks away. New sections appear to be opening sometime soon.

The Highline is simply awe inspiring in that it offers spectacular city and river views, it’s the poster child for urban reuse, and the sounds. Do not miss the sounds. There are bells in the 14th street passage that will make you believe in the goodness of man. Stephen Vitiello traveled all over the city and recorded the sounds of bells ringing. Bells from the Stock Exchange, bells from bicycles, bells from Buddhist temples, and on the top of every hour there are 59 bells ringing together. You can sit in front of a list of the bells, and every minute another bell rings, it’s another tone, and another part of the city. The sound resonates and just as it disappears another bell chimes. The sounds are so crisp, so pure, and so fleeting that I could easily have sat for an hour.

After the Highline Mr G had some work to do so we separated and he headed back to midtown. I tromped around the meat packing district and then decided to listen to some friends and check out Century 21. I went down into the subway and didn’t exactly pay attention to where I was headed, when I came back above ground I was stunned to be standing at the World Trade Center.

I’ve been to New York a dozen times since the towers were bombed, but I’ve never made the pilgrimage to the WTC. It never pulled at me or my husband, and we didn’t feel like bringing our children there. I stood on Broadway slack jawed while staring at an enormous hole in the ground. There are mural sized advertisements everywhere showing a generic woman enjoying the view of a planned memorial. This was my first glance and as much as I’ve missed seeing the towers guiding me into the city, and as much as I thought I was prepared, I was utterly stunned by the size of the destruction.

I hated Century 21 because it made me go to the World Trade Center, and I hate that sort of shopping, but I managed to find a few things anyhow.

I went back to the hotel, dropped off my haul and freshened up. We had drinks with friends and then headed to the southernmost part of the city for the best meal I’ve had in many years.

If you are thinking of opening a restaurant go to Scalini Fedeli and watch them. Making a reservation was a pleasant event. I do not know of any other restaurant where the simple act of calling for a reservation is a warm and welcoming experience. The service is impeccable and the food was magnificent.

If you’ve ever tried making focaccia you know that there’s  magic in the onions. It’s easy to char the onions and difficult, but just as devastating, to undercook them. The olive oil and salt can make or break the bread. The focaccia at Scalini Fedeli was perfection and a sign of things to come.

Before appetizers we all had a single mushroom and black truffle ravioli in a light cream sauce. It was both hearty and light. Next was seared foie gras and roasted apples over braised spinach and toasted hazelnuts drizzled with port wine if I could eat this every day for the rest of my life I think I would. The main course was a light fish plate, that had crabmeat which was cooked to perfection. I seldom order crab or lobster outside of New England because it’s so often overcooked, but this was beyond amazing.

Dessert was a napoleon for me, and a souffle for him. I love that you don’t have to preorder a souffle here. Before dessert arrived we were each presented a small taste of sorbet, pineapple for me and cheesecake for him.

Again, I must reiterate, the service was best I’ve seen in at least a dozen years with every plate prepared to perfection, and just the right amount of attention from every member of the wait staff.

Sidenote: Mr G didn’t like it. Too snooty. Oy.

 

The Frick, 24th Letter, and Bergdorfs

04.28.11

Today was luxury day. I slept late, until almost 10am, and slowly showered and got dressed. Since most of my mornings are about efficiency and a race to see how quickly I can blow my hair out, brighten my undereyes and brush on mascara having a morning without a time limit is a real treat.

I left the hotel and headed downtown to lunch with Emily. Naturally I walked up to 5th Avenue and got sidetracked with a visit to Saks. I entered on 51st street and left on 5th Avenue where I proceeded to walk uptown. After a few blocks I realized that I was headed the wrong way, so I turned around to go downtown. I needed to be on the Westside and walked two more blocks to the Eastside. After twirling myself around a few more times I decided to flag a cab and got yelled at by the taxi driver who said that I made him pull over in the bus zone and he was going to get a ticket. I’m a Mom and that doesn’t quite work with me. I gave him a little talk about free will and the fact that he decided to pull over where it was illegal. We agreed to disagree, and I gave him a 25% tip when he got me safely to lunch with Emily.

Lunch was grand. The food was good (after a false start with an undercooked meatball) and the company was amazing. Girlfriends are key and spending an hour with a smart lady who is chasing her dreams is a treat that I hope everyone can have.

When we finished our meal Emily and I headed outside and it was pouring. I was pleased with myself for having packed both an umbrella and a nylon shoulder bag. Sadly when I stepped outside I had absolutely no idea how to open said umbrella. I need to never leave Los Angeles.

Next I went to pop in on a friend at her office. I thought I was stopping by for a hug, and then ended up in a conference room with the President talking about international clubs, watches, shoes and luxury travel. Watch for the 24th Letter. I can’t really give y’all much more than that but if you have impeccable taste and think smart is sexy you’ll want to watch this one.

My next stop was the Frick. The Frick is a fabulous art collection. They don’t call themselves a museum and I’m not certain why. The collection is housed in a beautiful mansion on 70th and Central Park. When you walk in they have signs explaining that they allow you very close to the artwork and for that reason there are no children under 10 allowed and all umbrellas must be checked in. I was starting to miss my kids so I was happy to not be surrounded by someone else’s children.

I paid my $18 and started a slow tour of the Frick. I found myself as interested in the architecture of the building as I was with the history of the paintings done by Renoir’s students. I spun myself around the room comparing the brushstrokes of the master and his students. I marveled at Frick’s purchases and how they showed no affinity to subjects, but rather a broad based love of the arts.

Renoir’s self portrait is the most majestic work of art I’ve ever laid eyes on.  It made me want to sit and stare at him, it made me want to study his other works and it curiously involved me in his student’s work all at once. I wondered about his bankruptcy and questioned if he had finished other paintings or was just out of time.

After a few hours I was ready to head back to the hotel so I wandered through a familiar part of Madison Avenue, then Central Park and finally onto Fifth Avenue. Bergdorf’s was calling my name and I ducked in to pick up an eye brightener. I’m not certain that I made a good purchase as their beauty floor is in the basement. Tomorrow’s application in natural light will be the true test. I also picked up a Rebecca Taylor sweater than I neither need nor love. The geniuses at Rebecca Taylor have lovingly vanity sized their tops so that women like me who are a little zaftig on top can still buy a size small. It might not sound like a good reason to buy a sweater, but when you’re not a petite woman it is. Trust me.

I tried to find a pair of shoes but I sort of struck out. I don’t think I was much in the mood. I’m totally over Tory Burch and having T’s all over my feet, I don’t like Manolo’s they just don’t fit my feet well, Jimmy Choo is so pointy in the toe that they feel angry to me, like they’re mean to be weapons and I can’t possibly buy myself a third pair of Louboutin D’orsay’s. I’ve convinced myself that they’re a beautiful classic, but I’ve got them, and I don’t need (or want) more.

I headed back to the hotel stopping only to pick up some dark chocolate butter concoction, dropped my haul off and headed down to the National for a glass of Rioja and a plate of meats including duck confit, chopped liver, pancetta and salami. It was divine and I’d recommend it wholeheartedly but I’d ask them to skip the decorative salt, it’s just too much. I sat and read an exquisitely painful book while I nibbled on rich tastes and washed it down with a smooth red that hadn’t a hint of tannin.

I headed up to the room to do a little work, which turned into a little nap while Mr G did a little work instead.

We headed out for dinner at Chin Chin on 49th between 2nd and 3rd which should not be confused with the Chin Chin of Los Angeles. This Chin Chin is a hearty New York Chinese food with doughy dumplings and divinely spicy eggplant. There’s a charge if you want brown rice, and they seem to just know that you’re an Angelino if you’re ordering this way.

Dinner was fabulous (as usual) and the owner’s daughter is currently studying at UCLA, which made me miss my favorite ethnic restaurant in LA, Anajak Thai, where the owner’s daughter is currently enrolled at NYU.

I love family owned restaurants because in addition to sharing delicious food with me, kind owners will also share the milestones of their lives and I’ll get to feel like I’m celebrating everyone’s joys.

Mr G and I walked around the city picking up some fresh fruit for the morning, and ice cream for the evening. We talked about the draft and looked forward to getting back to the room so that we could watch young men’s lives change.

It’s all left me grinning.

 

A Little Alone Time

04.27.11

Yesterday was a travel day and today was an adult day. I’m in New York City and my children are not. I got up early, had breakfast with a dear girlfriend and then took a stroll near the East River with Mr G. From there Mr G and I parted ways and I met another friend for lunch.

I meandered from midtown to downtown and treated myself to three hours of shopping where I ultimately bought nothing, because being anonymous in New York City in the springtime fed the parts of me that would otherwise require a silk blouse.

I’m relaxing a little now, and then I’ll be at Melanie’s book party before heading to Brooklyn for steak at Peter Luger’s.

There have been pangs of missing my children, and then there were pangs of missing my 20’s, but mostly I’m refreshed. If I don’t come home the 800 pound woman it will be a miracle. My idea of visiting New York is a march from one restaurant to another.

 

Things You Should Not Do In New York City

01.4.11

Eat at the Olive Garden or Sbarro. Hell, you shouldn’t be at either of those places in any city.

Travel with me. I brought the blizzard of 2010, the Blizzard of 1996, and the blackout in 2003. If I am traveling to New York City, you should head to Hawaii. Really

Sit in the balcony at the Majestic Theatre, it’s too hot up there.

Hurry. You’ll miss everything good.

Host a tweet up, have a third glass of wine, and commit to a 13.1 mile run with Kai.

Shit.

Our Family Vacation to New York City

01.4.11

We just came back from a week in New York City. We had a fabulous time, and I wanted to share some hotel, dining, shopping and activity tips with you.

First and foremost, you are going to New York City, do not eat at, or stay in any chains. You can take a Marriot Vacation in any strip mall in America. Embrace the city, and stay in a boutique hotel, and eat like a local.

The Hotel

We stayed at the Roger Smith. This is my second visit, and I’ve been delighted both times. The rates are reasonable, and they’re on twitter at @rshotel. They have good rates posted online, but I found that if you call and say that you’d like the twitter discount, another 10% will fall off your bill.

My family needs space, and the Roger Smith was good for this. We like to have a one bedroom suite, and we like the living room to be over sized. Our room was large enough that when a queen sofa bed was pulled out, and a twin rollaway bed was present, there was still room to walk around, sit in one of the four club chairs, or at the tiny dining room table. There is also a kitchenette. Essentially a closet with a refrigerator, sink and microwave (sorry New York, I like my kitchens bigger), this is as much as you’ll get out of any hotel in the city, and it’s all you need. When we showed up a blizzard was on it’s way, so I grabbed a few bags of milk, juice, fruit, and cereal. With a week of eating in restaurants there were plenty of leftovers to fill the mini fridge.

Oh also, free wifi and free movie rentals. One of the reasons I returned to the Roger Smith is that you don’t feel taken advantage of once you’re there. The price is the price is the price is the price. This is good, and I wish it was the norm.

Lily’s is the hotel restaurant. They make a spectacular breakfast, and the bar snacks are good too, but beware that they close at 10. Sharp. If you want late night snacks you’ll be on your own, it’s a good thing we had the mini fridge.

The Food (in order of consumption)

If you’re staying at the Roger Smith the first thing you’ll want to do is head to the Morton Williams Supermarket down on 2nd Avenue, between 48th and 49th streets. You can get your organic milk, organic produce, cheese, crackers, yogurt, whatever you need to stock the mini fridge is there waiting for you. I was there every two days to replenish, I have a son that eats his weight in fruit and veggies every day.

Lily’s: The breakfasts are quite good and reasonably priced. I loved that they served perfectly poached eggs. The bar food is good too, the cheese plate is generous and attractive. 501 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017-2008 (212) 838-0844

Ess-a Bagel: These are bagels as bagels were meant to be. No more hockey pucks from the freezer section. Something special is in the New York water, because the line is long, and the spreads are fattening, but I dutifully waited in line each morning for bagels. If you ask for a bagel with butter or with cream cheese you have to specify that you’d like it toasted, otherwise they just slice the fucker in half and give it to you. Not good. Also, if you want bagels by the dozen you can skip the lines and head to the back of the store. You don’t want bagels by the dozen, because you don’t have a toaster. Plus, you don’t want day old bagels. Wait in the line, trust me. 831 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022, Phone: 212-980-1010

PJ Clark’s: If you wonder where Don Draper took his three martini lunches, I’m thinking PJ Clark’s is the place. We had an okay lunch here, the food is very hearty, very oily (I sent my salad back as it was swimming in oil), but the ambiance is really what you’re looking for. Wood paneled walls and a homey bar draw you in on a cold day. The kids had burgers, they were good, but we’re spoiled with the Laurel Tavern (best burgers in Los Angeles), so pleasing us it a tough job. After sending my salad back, I got a cup of clam chowder, it was pretty good. 915 3rd Ave, New York, NY, 10022

Chin Chin: This is an upscale Chinese restaurant with impeccible service. I didn’t love the dumplings (very doughy), but my husband did. The Szechuan Chicken was the best I’ve ever had in my life, the ginger lobster was light and flavorful all at once. Do yourself a favor and have dinner there. The portions are huge. Two appetizers, and two main dishes fed four of us, plus we had left overs. It is not related to Chin Chin in Los Angeles, not even close.216 East 49th Street, New York, NY 10017, (212) 888-4555

Pasta Lover’s Cafe: I don’t even know how we got here, but it was good. Alexander and I were in the mood for mussels in white wine sauce, and they didn’t have it on the menu, but they made it for us anyhow. The clams casino were small but, according to Mr. G, delicious.142 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020, (212) 819-1155

Katz’ Delicatessen: I love the pastrami sandwiches. I’ve coming to Katz’ since I was in diapers. I was shocked to find out that some people don’t love it. There’s a wait, and a hustle to get to the counter, but don’t worry, because what appears to be chaos is actually quite organized. We played a little game called Spot the Goyim. When you go to Katz’ and see someone sipping Pepsi and eating french fries, congratulations you’ve found a goy.205 E Houston St, New York, 10002, (212) 254-2246

Peter Luger Steak House: If you plan your entire trip around a visit to Peter Luger’s you won’t be disappointed. It’s the best steak I’ve ever had in my entire life, bar none. It’s a cash only place, and it fills up a month to six weeks in advance. We ended up with a reservation for a 2.45 “lunch” on a Wednesday afternoon and the place was packed. We ordered steak for three (the kids eat more than I do these days and there were four of us), as well as a side of tomatoes, and of hash browns.  As I recall the tab was about $250, and I swear to all that is holy, I’d give up every lunch out to be able to afford Peter Luger’s more often. Do Not Miss This. 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 387-7400

Wild Ginger: This is a local New York chain. I had the Thai Coconut Curry with tofu. It was good, but I was a little disappointed that the tofu was fried, and nothing is “spicy”. Jane had the grilled Sesame Salmon, it was delicious. 48 Great Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021-3305, (516) 487-8288

The Cafe At the Bergdorf’s Men’s Store: On the top floor of the Bergdorf’s Men’s store there’s a cafe. Lunch is standard fare, but done very nicely. The hamburgers are juicy, the chicken salad has just the right amount of curry, and the corn chowder is a sweet pick me up on a cold day. What’s most extraordinary is the view. Watching the chic shoppers is certainly fun, but the cafe looks out onto the Plaza Hotel right across the street and an iconic entrance to Central Park. I cannot recommend this enough for lunch. Oh, skip the hot cocoa for the kids, it’s powdered and served lumpy. It wasn’t a particularly expensive lunch. Yay! 754 5th Avenue, New York (212) 753-7300

Glass House Tavern: This the the perfect pre-theater dinner. The food is light and fresh. The cavatelli pasta was divine, as were the  Mussels. The wait staff was friendly and attentive, and one of the first questions they asked was, “Are you seeing a show tonight? At what time?” They’re clearly in the business of fresh and fast food. Pricey, but absolutely worth every penny. 252 West 47th Street, New York, NY 10036, (212) 730-4800