2013 New York City Letter 7

……the end is nigh, but we still have another 10 days

Tuesday, 5 November 2013 4:43 pm

There’s a sort of unmentioned panic starting to setting in around us, will we get to do it all?, see everything? Will New York fall apart without us? If we can’t do it all, what should we drop? Are we betraying out readers by not doing it all?

This is also turning into a saga, I’ve been trying to finish it for the past couple of days, so you might need to open a bottle of red or three.

Anyway, Betrayal, the Pinter version with Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz was good, it’s split the reviewers, The New York Times had little good to say about it, The Washington Post loved it, Time out New York was luke warm, but as it’s totally booked out for the entire run, it probably does not matter one bit. Our friends Roger & Dorothy saw it early in it’s run and where ambivalent about it, the audience at Wednesday’s matinée loved it, it was a very female audience of a certain age and I think the thought of seeing the latest James Bond on stage being butch, stirred up those ageing hormones….. The two elderly gentlemen from Clare enjoyed it, thankfully slightly removed form the masses on their little box on the side. Having never seen any of the actors in anything helped, we are so not Bond boys! We even learnt that the husband and wife on stage were in fact hubby and wife in real life (lucky her!). The play runs backwards in time, but several scenes are ahead of the scene you have just seen, so you can’t afford to nod off!

We trundled off from the Theatre, had a short (very short) siesta, and then headed of on hoof to Eatily for drinks with an old (in time, not age) teaching friend of the lads. Jeanette was probably in her first or second year out of teachers college when he took over the Art department at Balaclava high, and I had not seen her since, so I was a tad worried about how we would recognise her and her husband who I had never met, and knowing that the travelling companion was at best vague, it could be an interesting evening. No need to worry, she recognised us (‘you have not changed at all’, if only!) and Simon her husband arrived a little later, obviously the lads BBC voice had made a lasting impression on Simon. It was at once a great evening, none of that ‘remember when’ conversation, right into world politics, music, theatre and the divine New York. Simon’s with the United Nations, seriously up there with the UN legally. We had Italian Red and platters of Antipasto standing a marble topped wrought iron tables at this superb store. It the food store of choice, several acres of orgasm on a stick. Apart from the best in Italian foods, they have many bars and eating areas. We did a bit of ‘food’ retail after the kids left. We did not need dinner after the antipasto, so we retreated to the flat for a good book, and latter I threw together to salad to go with the wine we had opened.

Thursday was Halloween, and thanks to Gwennie’s emails, I’m starting to get it. I now understand the history of it all, I just need to get my head around why it’s so bloody big in the USA. The city is awash with pumpkins, cobwebs and gauls and skeletons. We started the day with lunch, for better or worse we are ‘doing’ lunch a bit in the next few weeks. We are doing pensioners lunches, the ‘prix-fixe’ (fixed price if your French is as rusty as mine) menus at some really great places, so provided you can restrain your self with the wine list you eat well and relatively inexpensively, sadly restraint is not a word that the two of us fully understand. Well the choice for this day was Adlea on west 17th Street, the name is a Portuguese word for village, so the food is Portuguese with a twist. Fresh, clean and modern, like the décor.  The chef owner George Mendes, is first generation Portuguese, and cooks from an open kitchen where 6 or 7 diners can sit on the diving bench and watch all the action. The food! Me, a soup of poached wild mussels, fennel, chorizo with a coconut curry foam, then a seared Skate wing in brown butter with pickled carrot and turnip cubes, Brussels sprouts petals and tiny cubes of country ham and to end, a luscious chocolate mousse a top a sliver of orange pound cake, a banana brûlée and a frozen Greek yogurt sorbet with Nutella sprinkles, it was all perfect! Him across the table stated with a very good pork and duck terrine, with Muscat wine gelee (there’s an accent missing but I can’t get it to appear) with great bread, then a chook breast (free ranged and I think lightly brined) with apple parsnip purees (heavenly, he let me taste it) and beans and because he loves pudding he did the cinnamon rice pudding with fresh raspberries, pistachio nuts, and a coconut/raspberry sorbet, somewhere a bit of chocolate appeared too. He said it was perfect too. Freddie, our newest best waiter, served glasses of Cava, Mont Marcal Brut Rosado reserva, yes it was pink. And then he did a Mencos Joven Tempranillo Rioja form Spain and I was French with Philippe Joven apud sariacum Sancerre, Sav Blanc but nothing like a New Zealand ones, only two glasses of wine each, restraint at last! We then went shopping, no restraint at all, boy oh boy, no restraint! Four pairs of pants, six shirts and yet another jacket for him……… oh and four pairs of very colourful sox. The point of discussion is now. Do we buy one or two new cases? It’s all very interesting as several friends said just pack a clean pair of knickers and take an empty case. I duly passed on this wise advice to the travelling companion, and was met with very string like lips (there’s a lot of lip in his family) and statements about we already have too many clothes and we do not need more….. All very funny now as it’s he who’s leading the charge of the Light Brigade in the shopping department!

A short rest, a change of clothes (so many to choose from these days), a few drinks and we joined what is reportedly 2,000,000 other New Yorkers (yes we are now New Yorkers), lining the streets of ‘the village’ on 6th avenue to see the parade of 50,000 people plus bands and various floats in the 40th annual Halloween Parade. It was loud, fun, gaulish, colourful and very busy and took well over 2 and half to three hours to pass anyone point. It literally finishes just around the corner from our pied da terre. Himself bonded closely with a very petit 80 year old woman from Trinidad, his latest newest best friend. We stuck it out until 11pm (it started at 7pm), and then walked home, the long way. We crossed 6th avenue instead of staying on our side, so we had to walk down about seven streets before we could cross it again and then walk back about the same number of streets. It was even more interesting on the walk back as most of the 50,000 ‘parader’s’ where drifting of everywhere, we saw some interesting sights. On the final leg we were overtaken by a nice young man in a green apron and boots and a G string, very cheeky! He was one of the more conservatively dressed. Well we have done Halloween. We slept late and I did not walk the next morning.

We returned to The Met (museum) for our second visit on Friday. They have a wonderful temporary exhibit called ‘The Interwoven Globe’ sort of an historical story of the start of the international ‘rag’ trade. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and of course the Poms all got into the rag trade as they liked nice frocks, pretty fabrics and wall hangings. Mind you, the bigger; better, frocks all went to the church, the virginal priests just loved looking smart in church. We spent about two- three hours taking it all in then raced off to the modern section to check out a few works that we could not see on the earlier visit as they were ‘re-hanging’. I wanted to see the Jackson Pollock’s (the Mets are smaller and less colourful that our one in Oz, but they have more). A bite to eat (antipasto by weight?, novel idea), then a quick tour of the Rodin bronzes and marbles, a race around the ‘grand hall’ then a bus down 5th Avenue. The evening was back to Eatily for one of the guest chef dinners, they do cooking schools, but none of them excited us, so this the next best thing. Food by Cruz Goler (sorry, but at first I thought it was the name of a cocktail, not a person) from Lupa Osteria Romana, so it’s Italian. Cruz is from Bristol RI (latter I discovered that’s Bristol, Rhode Island rather than the motherland, and he trained at CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, not the other one) All this before a drink, I was having problems with a Brit, trained the major intelligence agency cooking Italian. Two tables of twelve so we have 10 new friends, (thankful we were on the ‘it’ table, the others were so dull as and barely drank). My new best mate Mary liked a drink so she and I bonded well. Food: Roasted Squash with Stracciatella cheese and toasted Hazelnuts, stunning. Next Orecchiette with sausage and baby lentils (a bland description of the dish of the night) Sausages AND pasta on the same plate, he was in heaven, all that was missing for him was a bit of mash.  Heirloom pork loin with charred scallions and roasted pears and the finale was olive oil cake with citrus salad and Amaro syrup (and thankfully for him, CREAM). Wines: Velenosi, Passerina Brut NV (Marche), then Bastinich, Vespa Bianco 2010, (Friuli Venezia Giulia), then Casale del Giglio Mater Matuta Rosso IGT 2008 (Lazio) and for pudding Falesco Passiro Bianco Passito IGT 2005 (Lazio) then Mary and I returned to the red and we had also asked for seconds of the bianco. The ‘other’ table barely drank, that’s how dull they were! After all that we did some shopping (FOOD ONLY!) at the store and floated home and had a medicinal single malt, as you do! We slept very well.

I awoke and did my standard ‘Virgo’ morning walk. I know its my excessive, compulsive, anal retentive self, but I’m ‘griding’ the city and I was shocked to realise I had not done the immediate ‘south’ grind so off I went, 19th street to 10th street, between 7th & 8th Avenues and then the Highline (you’ll be so glad when I get over the Highline) and finally home with the breakfast provisions and to the gentle snores of my travelling companion. He got breakfast in bed, again. We then went all Jewish and uptown to the Jewish museum, it think its the ‘official’ one as there seems to be a few Jewish museums in New York. Chagall was on show and I was surprised when I checked to see the museum open on a Saturday, but they get around that little ‘no work’ bit by having free entry, but the gift shop was closed, I guess giving away the stock free of charge was going too far. Chagall is amazing and the exhibit was his work before, during and after the Second World War and is very emotional (but then again he’s an artist and we know what they are like). Everyone likes a bargain, so the place was packed; luckily we were early because as we left the queue was huge. We then walked to central park and wait for it, I crossed the finish line for the New York Marathon, just how good am I? ….and there is photographic proof!! Sadly I was 24 hours early, but it deserved a celebration so we lunched late at our causal lunch place of choice, yet another le pain quotidian, their newest branch in central park, its fresh, light and cheapish! We have more squirrel photos to show you all. Latter, we ‘hit’ Harlem with a new mate, Kristie, she’s a lass from Oz, who writes for many travel papers and magazines including the Sydney Morning Herald, Philip from Sydney sorted the introductions, and being Philip sorted the destinations! Dinner at Corner Social, great casual food, great company, great wine (a local Riesling from upstate New York), lots of chat and we then walked bit of Harlem and ended up at the new hot spot Red Roster for more wine (we bonded Philip, as if you did not know we would). I got hauled up by a chap who thought I was doing a line on his girl friend, so how butch am I? I thought of so many great lines I could have said to him, but left it alone.

After all that, we took of early to church on Sunday. Brooklyn Tabernacle was the destination (another of Philip’s recommendations) but we arrived just in time for the 9am service, and sadly did not get a seat by the doors so we could escape early, we ended up on the other side of the ‘hall’ so we gave up and stayed the full 2 1/2 hours. The reason you go is to hear the amazing choir sing for the first hour, everything from rock to ballads accompany by lots of hand raising and waving and clapping. It was good and I copped well despite my somewhat ambivalent feeling on all organised religions. I had spent an hour and half viewing all the displays on the history of Judaism at the Jewish museum the day before, so by service end I was fairly sated in religion for the next ten years.. Our plan had been to revisit the cloisters, but it was cold. Sunny, clear, breezy and cold! So we picked up Bagels (another first and another tick on the list) for lunch and then took off to the Morgan Library for the rest of the afternoon. It should read’ libraries’ there is a couple. Bankers, bless them, fingers in the till I’m sure, but at least they have good taste and leave it all to the state when they pop off. Pierpont J Morgan inherited a bank, and like everyone else around that time, had interests in railroads and also sorts of corporations. Latter in life he got serious about books and manuscripts (and art, statures ceramics, anything pretty) and when it all got too big built a stunning library in his back yard to house some of the stuff. Its very Italian Renaissance meets New York and you would need to own a bank to pay for it. His son JP Morgan jr built another more restrained library next door to house the every growing collection after his fathers death. The family eventually handed over their house and more recently Italian architect extraordinaire, Renzo Piano did a number and tied them all together with a lot of glass and steel, it wonderful! After all that religion and cultural stuff we had a night ‘in’ and dined on a salad, a bottle of red and a few good books.

If I type really fast, I might even get this finished and dispatched before I fall asleep! To day I succumbed!  A week ago I saw a three quarter length coat that I don’t need, but to cut a long story very short it’s hanging in the wardrobe. Well it’s cold and sunny and everyone has a coat in New York. After that we were off to lunch but had about an hour and half spare to fill in so decided to do the stage door tour of the Radio City Music Hall. I’d had a reminder email for Jan about the things we had not done, most thankfully we had done since the last up-date but I have to admit this tour had dropped of my radar. It’s part of the Rockefeller centre and like everything there is bigger and better than anything else. 1920’s Art Deco glamour, seating for over 5000, it has one of biggest stages in the world with lifts and revolves and even the ‘rest’ rooms are OTT, they have sitting rooms attached so for once the dunnies can be called restrooms. It also has the biggest Wurlitzer theatre organ with not one, but two consoles.  One of its biggest claims to fame is its ‘Rockettes’, dancing girls with long legs that just know how to do a synchronized high kick like no one else. The annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular opens on Friday and runs for two months, with up to four shows a day, try doing that sum and work out how many people go! Our wonderful guide Cassie, handed us a pair of tickets to the final dress rehearsal on Thursday evening, I think we were the only people doing the tour who would still be here then, so we have front row seats on the first balcony for nothing.

So two happy chappies then went to lunch. Todays pensioner special was ‘Aureole’, Charlie Palmer’s flagship restaurant on 42nd street/Bryant Park in the Bank of America Building (he has about a dozen restaurants spread across the country). Like Adlea it has one Michelin star if you’re into all that. We dined in the dining room rather than the bar, because it sounded quieter and wait for it, its designed to give a golden glow, and we need all the glow we can gather. We both had Duck Confit & Foie Gras Terrine with a little salad of citrus, frisee & purslane with a glass of Kabinett Joh Jos Prum Riesling 2011 and then the lad had Walleye Pike , with Black Trumpet mushroom, cashew & Porter puree and a Jasmine Broth with a glass of Eberle grenache mourvedre syrah from Paso Robles in California, whilst I had Smoked Beef Brisket on a bed of Rye Spatzle and savoy cabbage with mustard jus and I also when Californian with Rozak Ranch Pinot Noir A Block from the Santa Rita Hills and then desserts were Sticky Date Pudding with Chocolate mousse  and slated caramel for the boy and a strip of Tahitian Pana Cotta topped with an almond Tuile and white fig (and berry sorbet) very good coffee, no desert wine, so restraints working! And just incase you think we are breaking the bank, the three courses cost $43 dollars each and if we had dined in the bar we would have saved 5 bucks each. The serves are not large which suits us just fine. The food was perfect in every way we’re getting into the daily lunch club routine.

Now it’s tomorrow here because I can’t type as fast as my brain wants me too, so tonight’s concert with the Cleveland Orchestra and chorus at the Lincoln centre will need to wait, and yes I know the Melbourne cups been run, but can anyone tell me if Gai wore a nice hat?

Till next time,

Him & Me xo

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