Monthly Archives: April 2012

Window Watching: NYC Spring Trends

Sometimes I feel like I live in a mall…not that I’m complaining (though I did prefer it when there were more boutiques and less large chain stores around NYC).  One benefit to living in such an environment is that I’m constantly window-shopping and trend spotting.  Here are the most popular styles now:

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  • Espadrilles – the timeless summer shoe is back, year after year.
  • Bright colors, particularly neons – extremely popular, but I wouldn’t invest heavily unless you desire to look like a highlighter.
  • Coral dresses – this orange/red color is being shown for all dresses, from gowns to shifts.  I bought a coral day dress last year at Anne Taylor Loft and I find it funny that they are selling a dress of the same color and fabric this season, but in a slightly different cut.  It’s either still really popular or they bought too much fabric.
  • Navy and white-stripped dresses, shirts, etc. – not flattering on most, but very classic and very French!
  • Lace dresses – long and elegant or short and cute!

*This post may be followed up with a street style post at some point in the future.

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A Bohemian drink in a not so Bohemian setting: the NoMad Hotel

Last week I visited the NoMad Hotel, which has received a lot of great press since opening several weeks ago.  First, I must say that I can’t stand the name, which is a portmanteau of North of Madison Square Park.  Perhaps it’s because this area existed almost my entire life without such a name that I find it forced and pretentious.  I wonder if people thought the same thing about TriBeCa years ago?

The NoMad Restaurant

Despite my dislike of the name, the NoMad Hotel is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.  Midtown between 23rd and 32nd street is a wholesale jewelry district that was desolate at night until the opening of the Ace Hotel in ’09.  The NoMad Hotel is owned by the same developers as the Ace, but it’s more upscale and less hipster.

The Jacques Garcia designed décor is “Parisian-inspired” and while I don’t find it to be reminiscent of Paris, it is quite luxurious.  The hotel actually reminds me of old New York, since it’s in a turn of the century building and Madison Square Park was home to NY’s best hotels during the Gilded Age.  Unfortunately my photos of NoMad’s interiors are so poor they are almost embarrassing because it was dark and I only had my iphone.  Also, as I was attempting to photograph the lobby, the concierge motioned to me from across the room to stop.  I don’t understand why.  There were no celebrities in the room (the lobby was empty minus a seated couple who were not in my shot) and it’s not like I’m planning on copying the furnishings.  I was trying to give them free press!

The NoMad Restaurant and Bar in the background

The bar and library rooms are at the back of the restaurant, which have all received rave reviews.  The restaurant looks nice, but the fact they serve an $78. chicken entrée makes it a lot less interesting to me (in all fairness the chicken entrée is meant for two and stuffed with foie gras, but both of those factors only add to the lack of appeal).  Beyond the restaurant is a mahogany bar/lounge, which was too crowded and dark for me to attempt to photograph.  The next room is the library bar with table service drinks and snacks.  The lovely two-tiered room reminds me of Pierpont Morgan’s historic library at the close by Morgan Library & Museum.

The Library Bar

The cocktail menu is extensive with some classics and many more inventive drinks.  Alcohol-free “soft cocktails” start at $8. and the prices go up, but the cocktails average $15 (if you’re outside NYC this will probably seem high, but it’s actually a bargain compared to the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel).  I had only just started perusing the menu when I saw the “Bohemia” cocktail (Genever gin, Chambery blanc vermouth, aquavit, and maraschino liquor).  Despite having lukewarm feelings about the ingredients, I had to order it.  Well, it turns out maraschino liquor is nothing like the somewhat sickly sweet maraschino flavor of my beloved childhood Shirley Temples and I ended up not liking the cocktail.  I was going to drink it anyway and just call it a loss when the manager came around and asked my thoughts.  Upon hearing that the drink was not what I was expecting, he graciously offered to get me another one.  He returned with the Badminton Cup (red wine, moscatel sherry, maraschino, lemon, cucumber, mint), which was both pretty and delicious.  I was extremely impressed with the service!

Just one page of the very long bar menu

The Bohemia

The Badminton Cup

Between the Ace and the NoMad, I predict the Madison Square Park vicinity might not have had its heyday yet (and that the NoMad will be impossibly packed by summer!).

At the Library Bar...seated next to Martha Stewart cookbooks 🙂

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There’s more to Orlando than Mickeyland (Part II of II)

On our way to brunch in New Smyrna Beach we drove through Cassadaga, which is nicknamed the “Psychic Capitol of the World.”  Even though I am not a big believer in psychics, I was intrigued, so we stopped and I took some photos.  The town has lots of medium/psychic shops, a hotel, and a spiritualist camp.  The main street is even called “Spiritualist Street.”

Colorful psychic storefronts

Kind of curious about psychic therapy...

On Saint Patrick’s Day we ate at the Swamp, which is a fun alligator-themed restaurant.  There were lots of fake alligators at the entrance and they actually served gator meat.  The restaurant is known for fish, so I ordered catfish with vegetables and hushpuppies because I had never had them before.  My friends also ordered fried pickles to start because they wanted me to try a Southern specialty.

Fried pickles

Catfish, hush puppies, string beans and mushrooms

The back of the Swamp restaurant

On my last full day in Florida, we went out to brunch at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant in DeLeon Springs state park.  The restaurant features grills on every table where you can cook your own pancakes.  I’ve been to several Japanese restaurants where you cook your own food, but I had never seen this pancake style.  I LOVED it!  We ordered pancakes and some toppings for the table and were given two batters (one white, one multigrain).  I also ordered iced coffee and was brought an entire pitcher.  They are very big on drinks in Florida!  Haha.  After brunch we went on a hike in the state park, which was lovely.

Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant (as suggested by the name, the restaurant is in a former sugar mill)

Make your own pancakes!

DeLeon Springs State Park

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Happy Holidays and a “Progressive” Seder at Joe Doe

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

All of my favorite holiday things (chocolate bunnies, egg matzo, pretty flowers).

The largest Easter bunny ever at Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop in Chelsea Market

This evening I attended a “progressive” Seder at Joe Doe, which is the first time I have ever celebrated Passover at a restaurant.  For my non-Jewish readers, Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.  The first two nights of the eight-day holiday we observe by holding Seders, which are meals where we retell the story of the Exodus.

The first night of Passover I attended a Seder at my relative’s house.  For the second night my friend Bunny and I decided to go to a restaurant together.  I did some research and picked Joe Doe after reading this NYTimes article.  The ironic thing is that neither of us likes traditional Jewish food much, but it felt wrong to go out for sushi tonight.

The dinner was $65 per person, which is more than I usually spend on a meal, but it was a good price for four-courses in NYC and the atmosphere was great.  I had never been to Joe Doe before and found it very cute.  The bar was decorated with household Judaica to add a homey feel.  They played a lot of traditional Jewish music, a Debbie Friedman camp song, and a couple prayer songs (two versions of the “Four Questions”).  There were Maxwell House Haggadahs  (Seder books) available, but it was optional if you wanted to use them.

The food itself was good.  It would have been nice to see more vegetables, but it veered closer to traditional Jewish fare, though presented better than I’ve seen at any home Seders.  I have retyped the menu below and posted some photos of our fun meal.

Joe Doe ‘Progressive’ Passover 2012

$11 Elijah’s Punch…Chateau de Montifaud Cognac, Manichewitz, lemon, soaked cherries

First Course

Joe Doe Seder Sampler….maror, charoset, chicken liver, fried matzo

Second Course

Jewish Wedding Soup….chicken meatballs, matzo balls, pickled vegetables

Third Course

Slow Roasted Brisket….horseradish potatoes, parsley, upland cress

Fourth Course

Komish Cookie Sandwich….dark chocolate, cherry filling

Festive decorations

Bunny and the first course (Seder sampler)

Second course (Jewish Wedding Soup) - note I have never heard of Jewish wedding soup before...I think it is a spin on Italian Wedding Soup

Third course (brisket) - sliced thinner and with more visible fat than I'm used to, the presentation was also better than I'm used to.

Fourth course (dessert!) - I'm attributing my flush cheeks to heat from the kitchen and/or a single glass of Manischevitz AKA grape juice

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There’s more to Orlando than Mickeyland! (Part I of II)

I recently went to Orlando to visit family friends.  On my first day, my friend Renee and I went on a scenic boat tour around Winter Park, which is a former resort town fifteen minutes north of Orlando.   I had no idea that there were such beautiful lakes and canals in Florida!  I loved seeing the historic mansions around the lakes and  I would definitely recommend the boat tour.

Pre-Winter Park boat tour

After the boat ride, we went to the Mennello Museum of American Art, which is a small museum that features the work of folk artist Earl Cunningham.  I liked Cunningham’s brightly colored paintings, but the museum’s sculptures and grounds especially impressed me (the museum overlooks another lovely lake).

Cute sculpture on the grounds of the Mennello Museum of American Art

We also attended the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, which is a huge outdoor arts festival that takes place one weekend a year in downtown Winter Park.  It was a lot of fun walking around and visiting all of the booths (there were over 260 artists!).  My favorite booth featured the work of Michael Gard, whose hanging wire sculptures reminded me of people dancing in the sky.  We were planning on visiting the Morse Museum of Art, which has the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass in the world, but we were exhausted from the festival.

Michael Gard's dancing scupltures

I had many memorable meals in Florida.  My friends wanted to me to see a typical Central Floridian restaurant so they took me to the Southern chain restaurant, Sonny’s Bar-B-Q.  I ordered sweet tea and was brought the largest glass I have ever seen in my life!  The waitress came around with refills, but the first glass had more than enough sugar for the day.  They gave us to go cups to take home the excess sweet tea.  I have only been to one other BBQ restaurant in my life, but I thought the BBQ was good and I liked the variety of sauces (sizzlin’ sweet, smokin’, sweet, and mild).

The biggest glasses EVER

Pulled chicken, garlic bread and steamed broccoli (I swear this tasted better than it looks!)

Another day we had a lovely brunch at the Grille at Riverview, which is a restaurant in New Smyrna Beach that overlooks the water.  The views were stunning!  The food was also very good.  I ordered plaintain crusted crab cakes and found the portions to be very generous.  I also tried my first bloody mary.

Grille at Riverview

Plaintain crusted crab cakes

Please stay tuned for part 2!

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