Monday, November 1, 2010

Got a sweet tooth? Go to either Little Italy or any part of the Village and you would be more than satisfied. For me, dessert is the total experience - the taste, the sweet aroma, the ambience of the bakery, accompanying beverages or add-ons, the lighting and temperature of the room, and the conversations.

Recently I went to la Lanterna Caffe in the West Village with a great selection of pastries and an even greater backyard garden. The garden was decorated with blue umbrella-like shades, and lights inside the shades illuminated the entire garden blue after it got dark....the desserts were savory, but not heavy. The entire experience imitates the elegance of European cafes....with the efficiency of American servers!

One of my favorite dessert bakeries is Ferrara in Little Italy. To consume the hazelnut chocolate pouch is a religious experience....contrary to the serene atmosphere of the abovementioned West Village cafe, it is boisterous, fast-paced, packed with tourists and locals alike, and a vastly entertaining place for people watching.

What I do not care for, is any concern for cholesterol level or portion size. I say let's savor the moment and think about cholesterol tomorrow!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Subway station art

I take the A train next to the American Museum of Natural History almost everyday. The the train station is covered with replicas of dinosour fossils, images of animals, etc. My favorite is the hyena. I used to confuse it with the Tasmanian's Devil, but more recently realized it's a hyena.

Yesterday while waiting for the train a Japanese little boy and his father came into the platform. The boy was probably 2 or 3, and neither of them spoke any English. The boy came in, saw the tile bug on the wall, and immediately jumped to crush it while exclaiming, "Whack!!!" excitedly. I had no idea what his father might have said but I was laughing hysterically. He thought it was real, BIG bug and tried to kill it!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

While waiting for the cross town bus at the corner of Central Park West and 79th street, my attention was captivated by a cluster of red across the street. It was a wedding party, with bridemaids in long red dresses...and the bride and groom mingling along.

It's not unusual to see bridal parties in summer. In fact you can expect brides just about everyday in the Central Park or Bryant Park, taking pictures with their grooms and photographers during the day. The Bethesda Fountain and the Boat House are especially popular, as is the Bow Bridge. I once "accidentally" crashed a wedding in the Conservatory Garden. The entire party, the guests, and the string quartet assembled in front of us, and it was a beautiful Japanese wedding with some of the guests elegantly attired in silk kimonos.

In the case of the wedding party at the Central Park West, the entire group went into the subway station! Everyone at the bus stop watched with the mouth open. Even the bride entered the subway with her bridal dress. That's a sight you don't see everyday.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Are you adventureous? If you live in New York City, I hope your answer is a resounding "yes!". Manhattan is an entertaining crisscross of neighborhoods; within 15 minutes of subway ride you can find almost any culture, language, religious practice, culinary specialty, or any exotic and specific combintion humanly possible for your exploration.

I go to Chinatown often for food, people watching and a little adventure. Something unexpected always seems to pop up from nowhere and surprise me. Most New Yorkers know Chinatown is where they can find inexpensive seafood, but what I saw a couple of weekends ago impressed even a regular like myself. In a massive grocery store off the beaten track, in addition to the regular selection of seafood, were enormous sea clams and conchs the size of small cats. Against the wall were menacing-looking sea bass swimming to and fro - I'd definitely advise against eye contact!

The most unexpected were the mussels. Tied up as small bundles, I initially thought they were frozen somehow....until one employee poured cold water on them. All of a sudden these protrusions - pseudo feet - at each end moved like crazy as if they were trying to run back into the sea! It was then I realized they were still alive.

I sincerely hope they have no feelings....


Sunday, August 22, 2010

I can't imagine life in Manhattan without the Central Park. There is something about nature - however articifially created - that uplifts human spirits. A walk in the wooded paths after work restores all the calmness and equilibrium within myself. To hear the leaves ruffle and birds chirping around me, to smell the freshly cut lawn, to watch the squirrels hiding their little treasures, and to watch the dogs roll on grass is priceless.

In summer I run around the Jackie O. Reservoir. The Park is so busy in summer that one can safely run in the circular path until at least 8:30 or 9 pm. When it's stifling hot and humid, the reservoir path is especially rewarding to run with the cooling breezes coming towards runners. It is also incredibly romantic around sunset, with the Manhattan skyscrapers against the golden rays reflected on the water. Runners also get to interact with the "wild life" - I once saw an entire family of recoons clustered on the branches just above the path. If you decided to run at night, be sure to look for the family of ducks who retire into the reservoir bank!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Manhattan is the showcase of some of the most adorable, well-groomed, well-loved, happy animals. While doing my errands in Upper East Side, I had the good fortune of meeting Butter. Seeing Butter as an young adult, I can easily imagine he must have looked like a chunk of butter as a puppy - hence the name.

Also in Upper East Side is what I call the Proud Guardian of Pet Toys. Expressive and interactive, this cat naps all day amidst pet toys and supplies, usally by the window when the winter sun is the most sleep-inducing and comfortable. The same proud feline patrols the shop at night, staring at the streets and perspective introders menacingly and suspiciously.... it doesn't know it yet, but it is destined to be a web sensation!

Monday, July 5, 2010

if you haven't been to the American Musseum of Natural History, it is an excellent idea to visit in the midst of the scorching heat. There is something about the scientific display and its rational, calm, analytical content that makes the museum seem an oasis. At the same time, the constant commotion of curious, excited children, their eager but happy parents, and waves of tourists from all around the world keep us connected with the human element. It's the kind of place you visit alone but will never be lonely.

I myself interacted, shared, laughed, and discussed with many perfect strangers over some of the most detailed, intimate subjects over the course of my visit today. Some of us were particularly impressed with the spider silk, a magnificent gold silk textile produced from undyed silk from the Golden Orb Spider. These creatures pose unique challenges as a source of silk not only from their unique geography but also their lifestyle...these spiders are cannibalistic in nature, so extra precautions were taken to secure the silk.

Here's a bit information on the spider silk on display:

One other object that held manys' attention was the Star of India. Not everyone knows the Star of India is here in the American Museum of Natural History; it was as stunningly beautiful as luminous. Who does not like star sapphires?