Friday, October 16, 2009
A New York minute #1
It's 4.45pm and we're back in our hotel to catch our breath before dinner. M's having a bath and I'm reading Sarah Napthali's exquisite book Buddhism For Mothers Of Young Children - Becoming A Mindful Parent.
We've just come back from 5th Avenue, where M bought some shirts from Brooks Brothers. Before that, we were on Bleeker Street having lunch with a friend from university who usually teaches at Harvard but is doing a year's research at NYU so is now living in the West Village. And before that, we were walking The High Line from Chelsea to the Meat Packing District - a 1.45-mile section of elevated freight railroad which has been redesigned and planted as a green and verdant parkway (photos above).
We've also seen some very good art shows today - Jeff Wall's pseudo-documentary photographs (photo above) at the Marian Goodman Gallery (staged images of a couple eating fries out of a paper bag, people lining up at pawn shop booths, a man siphoning fuel from a car, a man throwing knives at a garage wall, and more); Daido Moriyama-trained Keizo Kitajima's portraits of people on New York streets or in dive bars off the US Army base in Okinawa and of Tokyo drag queens, to name but a few, at the Amador Gallery; and Edward Burtysky's monumental photos of oil tankers, oil refineries, oil fields and other stark landscapes such as quarries and even an LA freeway interchange (photo below).
We'd arrived in NYC on Wednesday night. After we'd checked into the Hotel On Rivington, we headed to the excellent Schiller's Liquor Bar for steak and fries and beer. This is my fourth trip to New York, M's seventh and our third trip here together as a couple. Each time together, we have stayed at the Hotel On Rivington. It goes without saying that we love this city and if we ever had the choice to live and work outside of London, then it would be here in NYC. And we particularly love staying on the Lower East Side - this part of town has the same buzz and energy as London's Shoreditch or Hoxton, with a little bit of Brixton thrown in.
Yesterday, we walked through SoHo, shopping for clothes at Vince (where I bought some amazing quality knitwear as it had turned cold and rainy in NYC and I had arrived unprepared!), Thom Browne, and Odin which sells clothes from US designers (M bought a very cool, grey woolen Woolrich jacket designed by Daiki Suzuki - again, he was as unprepared as I was for the sudden downturn in the weather). We also stocked up on books and magazines at McNally Jackson on Mott Street, where purchases included two children's picture books based in NYC for Little Planet: Good Night New York City by Adam Gamble and Joe Veno, and Subway (right) by Anastasia Suen and Karen Katz - two very colourful and sweet books that I can't wait to read to my daughter when we get back home next week.
Food is a very important part of our trip. Before we arrived here, we'd pored over magazines such as Time Out New York, New Yorker and New York as well as guidebooks and the internet. We stopped off for very good coffee and raspberry thumbprint cookies at Ground Support on West Broadway, chilling out and people watching from a repurposed cedar wood bench and table. The cafe reminded me of my favourite London cafe Fernandez & Wells.
We knew we wanted to eat at Keste Pizzeria on Bleeker Street. We met up with one of my childhood friends for dinner there and we were blown away. This truly is terrific pizza and I want to eat there now for every meal! My friend was born and brought up in London but now works as a business development manager in NYC. He lives in Manhattan and loves it. It was good seeing him after so long. Earlier on in the day, we'd lunched at La Esquina Taqueria and Cafe in Nolita where we ate delicious Mexican food - sopa de tortilla (soup of shredded chicken, tomato, onion, ancho chile, cotija cheese and lime), huevos rancheros (a little too much sauce on this dish), and carne enchilada (soft corn tortillas with char-grilled adobo rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro, salsa verde and lime).
After lunch we took a tour of two restored homes of two Eastern European Jewish families who lived in a tenement building at 97 Orchard Street at the turn of the 20th century. The tour was operated by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and was incredibly detailed for just one hour. I highly recommend it.
And what did Little Planet do yesterday at home in London? Her two Grans are looking after her. They give us regular updates via texts, emails and calls. My baby is doing absolutely fine. Yesterday she was visited by a little 8 month old friend who lay on the floor while Little Planet stroked her hair, brought her endless toys and cooed "Baby, baby, baby!" Obviously my little baby is no longer a baby herself at 16 months but a little girl :-)
Of course I miss her terribly. M and I talk about her constantly as we stroll New York's streets. But this trip is so good for our marital soul. Each year, I think, we will go abroad just the two of us and let Little Planet enjoy quality time with her Grandmothers.