After deciding on the spur-of-the-moment to spend our free weekend in NYC, my husband and I left early last Friday morning, unfortunately driving 6+1/2 hours instead of the expected 4+1/2 hours to get there. Apparently everyone else had the same great idea and had jumped in their cars to drive north, too. Nonetheless, we arrived just in time on Friday afternoon to meet Boruch, who wisely bicycled to meet us at his home in Brooklyn. Boruch "sells things for people." The thing that had caught my eye was a delicately scrolled crystal chandelier that had hung for some time in an old Brooklyn apartment. How long? Boruch and the woman who was selling the chandelier were guessing that it could be 100 years old, but it is electrified, so I doubt it. Still, it will add a lovely glow to my studio once I clean it up and reassemble the parts, and I'll enjoy telling you the whole story when you visit.
From Brooklyn, we drove into Manhattan for dinner. After checking into our hotel on W 39th Street (we agreed it wasn't worth driving home that evening, so we pulled over behind a street barricade on W 37th and used our iPhones to find an affordable room in a nearby hotel -- amazingly easy), we walked to Montenapo, the new Italian restaurant behind the New York Times Building, for an elegant dinner. The spacious dining room was sparsely populated, perhaps still too early for the after-theatre crowd, and we had several waiters at our elbows. Outside the windowed wall next to our table was an atrium garden with beautiful slender birch trees lit up for the night. My very leisurely dinner began with cappesante, jumbo scallops with fresh black truffles.
Then we spent the rest of the evening walking some 30 blocks around Times Square, checking out all the sidewalk caricature sketch artists selling their quick images for $5 each, the live music and live comedy shows, and wondering why one long section of Broadway had been sealed off to traffic so people could sit out in lawn chairs (they all matched, so they must be city property?) on this pleasant night. Of course, I also checked out the store windows, like anthropologie. Their junk-to-art approach to display always intrigues me. In this series of windows below, the backgrounds are made of rough cardboard pieces painted in fallen-leaf colors and stacked in a falling cascade. Occasionally, some unpainted cardboard is stacked to mimic a birch tree trunk. Ingenious. A few letters also peeked through the paint, like the "E" (3rd photo - maybe the initial of the crafter of this display?) and "She" (4th photo - enlarge photos to see).
In the summer, in place of the famous skating rink, Rockefeller Center sports an outdoor Rink Bar in the well next to the Prometheus fountain. Did you know that until it was resurfaced and permanently closed to traffic, Rockefeller Plaza was closed to traffic for just one day a year, allowing Rockefeller Center to continue claiming it as private property? Or that the promenade between the skating rink and 30 Rock was initially supposed to go straight through to 53rd Street, to the doorway of MoMA, co-founded by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller? It was blocked by the owners of the "21" Club, on 52nd St, who refused to budge.
Saturday morning we made a reservation for brunch at Balthazar's, a Keith McNally French brasserie in Soho. It's an extremely popular place. Even our taxi driver, when we gave him the address we wanted (without mentioning Balthazar's), replied, "Oh, so you're going for brunch." And he seemed to know the way by heart, zipping us there so quickly that we were 10 minutes early for our table.
With dark wood paneling, amber-colored ceiling tiles, racks of bread loaves and a large wine collection on display, the atmosphere is very French. And, as you can see, very crowded. We were fortunate to have a table at the leather banquette along the mirror wall and near the large front window. Instead of an entree, I ordered two appetizers, the warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart, plus the Balthazar salad with haricots verts and asparagus. Both were delicious.
You may think this next photo is peculiar, since it doesn't feature the well-presented food we ordered. But their place setting will remind me to use at home my "new" old red-striped linen torchons recently brought back from Auty. Having faced this question often in Paris, I was prepared when the waiter asked, "Do you want still or sparkling?" I opted for still, which came in the plain bottle you see. My husband said he wanted just regular water, please. :)
It was another beautiful day, so we walked some more around Soho, while I catered to my obsession with photographing interesting doorways and window casements. Nearby, the Chanel store displays in classic black and white were worthy of another close-up.
Later, during my much anticipated first visit to Tinsel Trading to see their remarkable collection of vintage and reproduction trims, my camera card was finally filled. I managed only a few photos of the wonderful bolts and spools on wall shelves and display cases. Guess I'll just have to go back again.
Can you believe the length of this post? I think I'll wait to share the Tinsel goodies I brought home. But here's one last photo. This is the "before" view of the chandelier, still in its makeshift carrying box, with many of the crystals loose on the bottom. Lots of work to do on this diamond in the rough.
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