Monthly Archives: November 2013

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

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This is my last NYC piece.  Thank goodness you must be thinking.  😉  Enough with NYC.

But I saved the best for last.  Alix took me to Brooklyn on one of my last days in NYC.  I was so excited to see DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge, the Smorgasburg food market and Park Slope.

I can’t put my finger on it but I got a great vibe in Brooklyn.  The next time I go to NYC – I’m going to stay in Brooklyn and commute into the city.  I was lucky this time.   I was able to crash at Alix’s flat but next time I won’t have the luxury of free accommodation.  I need to do some research on Brooklyn bed and breakfasts in the future.  Does anyone have some good spots they’d recommend?

I already have plans to check out the new Rough Trade NYC shop, spend some more time learning about Brooklyn neighbourhoods and getting lost in a smaller space.

At one point Alix and I stood at DUMBO and looked over the river at the NYC skyline.  I said to Alix, ‘Gosh I wonder what it must have been like seeing that skyline the day of 9/11?’.  It was a very moving moment.

It was a great day just walking around, chatting, having drinks and taking in a lower key Brooklyn.  I especially loved travelling under water to get to Brooklyn from Manhattan.  Next time – I walk the Brooklyn Bridge!

Gosh I miss it.

Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Milk Bar – East Village, NYC

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So I’m a David Chang super fan after I watched Mind of A Chef Season 1 three times in 2 weeks.  Don’t ask. There is something about David Chang and his dalliances with Asian food with some punk rock bad ass tossed in.

After checking out the Joe Strummer mural I carried on and found Momofuku Noodle Bar quite easily on 171 1st Ave.  I was even able to grab a seat at the bar around 2 p.m..  There was no line – I just walked in and felt immediately giddy.  I loved the simplicity of the shop.  There was a huge long wooden sushi bar table in the front of the resto.  Strangers were sitting beside each other similar to that of a school cafeteria.  There was also a collection of seats for larger groups.  The music was hopping.  If you are playing The Clash while I eat, I will marry you.  Get ready Chang.  Kidding.  😉

Of course I ordered the Pork Bun (which came with hoisin, scallions and cucumber).  I have been dreaming of them ever since I saw Mind of A Chef.  You can only imagine how delicious it was.  I had been walking around in the cold and rain all morning.  This lil baby warmed me right up.  The steamed bun was decadent and yet so simple.  A perfect relationship for my palette and belly.  My mood lifted.  Can I also say that Chang’s staff is super dreamy?  Shoot.

After I ate my ‘snack’ at Momofuku Noodle Bar I ventured over to Momofuku Milk Bar to pick up some desserts from their lil shop at 251 e 13th st. to take home with me.

When I entered the shop I was greeted by a young guy by the name of Peter.  He was so lovely and gave me some great insight on the baked goods for sale that day.  Momofuku Milk Bar is known for their Crack Pie (yeah exactly) and Compost Cookie.  When I told him I was from Toronto, instead of making a Mayor Ford joke he recommended I pick up the Grasshopper Pie and Apple Blondie as they were a few of the pies not being shipped to the newly opened Toronto Momofuku Milk Bar location.

Yummy?  Yes.  The Grasshopper Pie slice (which was a seasonal pie and no longer being sold) had chocolate chips, marshmallows, cream cheese and lots of other gorgeousness.  The Apple Blondie Pie slice had white chocolate, apple, apple juice and ginger.

I loved the packaging too.  It was easy for me to take back home and also kept the slices fresh for when I was ready to indulge in them.

Thank you Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Milk Bar – you made my belly dreams come true.

The Joe Strummer Mural in the East Village (Niagara Bar)

I went on yet another hunt whilst in NYC to find the Joe Strummer mural in the East Village.  Momofuku and Momofuku Milk Bar were also in the neighbourhood so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone?

I knew that the original Joe Strummer mural on the exterior of Niagara Bar at Avenue A and 7th Street had been removed to facilitate structural repairs to the building. The piece was created by street artists Dr. REVOLT and Zephyr after Strummer’s death in 2002.

Thankfully the mural was recently redone in September 2013 by Dr. REVOLT.   Upon its unveiling The Clash guitarist Mick Jones and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch even showed up!

When I got off the subway, I didn’t realize it was going to be a bit of a walk.  But it was fine.  As usual I walk fast so I could see the mural coming up from afar.  Indeed there were punks loitering around at Tompkins Square as many of my tour books had mentioned.  It’s always surreal to see something you have only read about and seen online.  I paid my respects pretty much the same way I did at Adam Yauch’s Park.

Another nice moment to reflect upon for my memory bank.

Harlem, New York

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Although world famous, Harlem may be New York’s best kept secret with some of the city’s most interesting architecture, food, music and people. Harlem’s history is also one of the city’s most dramatic, having gone through many ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic changes over the past roughly 400 years, which have resulted in a diverse array of places of worship, theaters, homes and eating establishments.

I took a Free Tours by Foot two hour tour and discovered the streets where Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and other cutting edge Harlem Renaissance players put American music on the world map, where Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and where Fidel Castro slept after being kicked out of a midtown hotel for having chickens in his room.

I had a great time on the tour.  But be cautious with Free Tours by Foot.  If you choose to cancel a tour (which I did once due to illness) they bump you off the rest of the tours you may have booked with them on your trip.  I’ll be honest I found this very punitive even after I sent a text and email with an explanation.  Ah well.  Even though I wasn’t ‘technically’ on the Harlem tour, I tipped the Tour Guide Derrick well and thanked him for a passionate tour.  It was truly memorable.

banksy ny

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‘People ask why I want to have an exhibition in the streets, but have you been to an art gallery recently? They’re full.’  Banksy

This statement from Banksy particularly holds true when you are in a new city and travelling on a packed schedule.  You can (as I mentioned before) only see so much art when it just starts to go over your head.

I booked my trip for NYC in September and low and behold it was like the universe aligned in October.  I heard that Bansky had just started a month long residency in NYC where he would post daily pictures of his latest street art in various neighbourhoods around NYC.

Before I left for NYC, I wrote down all of the locations that held his art.  On one of my last days in NYC, I went on my hunt!

It was neat planning my route for the day and going into neighbourhoods that I didn’t expect to check out.  Bumping into locals as I flipped my map up and down on street corners and tried to make sense of where Banksy left his mark.  Showing up at a location looking in alleys, on street corners, asking random strangers ‘where could I find a stencil of a dog urinating?’ who must have thought I had some kind of mental health issue.  It was fun and as Banksy’s manifesto, he got me outside looking at gritty NYC streets and feeling the energy in its natural milieu.

Unfortunately a lot of pieces were taken down.  Typically just as I was about to give up – I did manage to find a few.  It was cool – when I did find the ‘This is my New York accent’ piece I bumped into a guy, a New Yorker who proceeded to tell me his Bansky’s art scavenger hunt story.

After he pointed me in the direction of a gallery that was housing Banksy and Mr. Brainwashed art that was selling for thousands of dollars.

That day was one of my most favourite moments in NYC.  I’ve kept it in my memory bank to remind myself of my adventurous spirit, street art that encouraged me to live a little and to really get stuck into NYC culture at a street level.

CityPASS New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Look, I did not like the MET but it was overwhelming.  Perhaps because I had already been to Staten Island earlier in the day and then the Brooklyn Museum.  Then I decided to grab the train Uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was open late and I thought perfect – I can use my time wisely and stroll around at a leisurely pace.

Even as I took my time – there is really only so much art you can see in one day whilst on holiday.  So again no disrespect to the MET.  Now I feel you can only really see one wing of the MET a day to truly appreciate the wealth of art in the space.  It is doable – but how much are you absorbing.  My mistake.  I should have carved out a map of ‘must see’s’ before I got there.  But how much planning is a girl to do?

I did enjoy Jasper Johns, Seurat, Monet, Degas and Hopper works.  It was a wonderful space to get lost in and see what new treasure I could fall into.

My favourites?  I really liked the William Kentridge exhibit called ‘The Refusal of Time’.   William Kentridge’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (2012) is a thirty-minute meditation on time and space, the complex legacies of colonialism and industry, and the artist’s own intellectual life.

At the center of the installation is a moving sculpture—the “breathing machine” or “elephant”—an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. Plans from the 1870s for copper pneumatic tubes under the streets of Paris that would pump regular bursts of air to calibrate the city’s clocks reminded Kentridge of a passage from Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times (1854). Dickens describes a factory machine moving “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”—a metaphor for the often convulsive developments in science and industry during the modern era and a reminder of the vain impulse to control time.

I also enjoyed Florine Stettheimer’s ‘The Cathedrals of Fifth Avenue’.  Stettheimer treats the spectacles of high society and consumerism with affectionate humor. A newly wedded couple emerges from a church, ready to begin a life of excess and acquisition. Floating above them are the names of New York’s most exclusive shops and food establishments; “Tiffany’s” is spelled out in jeweled letters, and “Altman’s” is shaped from fine home furnishings. At right, Stettheimer and her sisters exit a limousine near August Saint-Gaudens’s gilded Sherman Monument. In one of her poems, the artist extols such luxuries:

I like slippers gold

I like oysters cold

and my garden of mixed flowers

and the sky full of towers

and traffic in the streets

and Maillard’s sweets

and Bendel’s clothes

and Nat Lewis hose

and Tappé’s window arrays

and crystal fixtures

and my pictures

and Walt Disney cartoons

and colored balloons.

Would I go to the MET again?  Definitely.  But I probably wouldn’t do anything else that day.