Nice Fish at St. Ann’s Warehouse

I really enjoy theater. Always have. I was captivated the moment I first attended a stage performance. It must have been A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Our Town or The Crucible, though, for the life of me, I can’t recall which.

During my time at university, my exposure to the myriad facets of theater were broadened appreciably. I spent countless hours reading, analyzing and writing about plays, and throughout, my enthusiasm for the medium never waned. I took in the occasional blockbuster and maintained a healthy acquaintance with the standards, but it was the small, experimental productions that captured my fascination most.

Nice Fish St Ann's Warehouse

Nice Fish St Ann's Warehouse

Such was the case with American Repertory Theater’s Nice Fish, a deceptively small but genuinely experimental play from the creative minds of American Poet, Louis Jenkins, and revered Shakespearean Actor, Mark Rylance.

I say “small” because the production, in essence, is just that–two leads and a few bit players. And I say “deceptively” because the elaborate quality of the set design, as well as the excellent performances, belie the conceit that avant-garde theater is somehow amateurish.

Nice Fish St Ann's Warehouse

Ostensibly, the play is about two men ice fishing on the last day of the season, musing about life while waiting for something to strike their lines. It is set during the winter on a Northern Minnesota lake, and, giving the impression of an angle, the stage, adorned in jarringly-brilliant white, successfully achieves the illusion of a glacial sheet of ice, sloping toward the audience. The use of miniatures and puppets upstage provide a perspective of both depth and distance.

Jim Lichtscheidl’s measured, folksy turn as Erik is the perfect complement to Mark Rylance’s rowdy, exuberant Ron. The play is comprised of a series of vignettes reflecting observations and contemplations on life and are separated by blackouts in-between. Lines are delivered in soliloquy, which suits material derived from the prose poetry of Jenkins and the Shakespearean chops of Rylance. Some are more successful than others, but overall, the surreal, stream of consciousness feel to the performance is rewarding and enjoyable.

Nice Fish’s run has been extended through March 27.  You can get additional information at the St. Ann’s Warehouse website.

Location:
45 Water Street



Pair it with:

A cookie from Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres NYC

Jacques Torres NYC

Sometimes, you need a cookie. Nothing else will do. And if you are looking for (arguably) the best chocolate chip cookie on the planet bar none (I know, a bold statement if there ever was one), look no further than Jacques Torres. What makes his cookie revelatory is not just the incredible amount of dark and milk chocolate chunks he folds into them or the savory-sweet balance he creates with coarse sea salt, it’s that the dough has superior flavor and always has the perfect texture of creamy center and crispy edges. He achieves this by using a special blend of bread and pastry flours. It’s a must-have!  Visit what was the chocolatier’s first location for the perfect pre- or post-show treat.

Location:
66 Water Street

Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 9am – 8pm
Sunday: 10am – 6pm

– J.

Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery

Have you had that experience where you were positive that you hated something, then you tried it again years later and discovered it was absolutely, mindbogglingly delicious?  That’s my story with hot chocolate.

Most of my life I struggled to find a relationship between chocolate (which I worship) and the watery, sickly-sweet, pale liquid that shared its name.  Then we made a trip to France (part of our first trip together as a couple, coincidentally), and on a chilly evening when I desperately craved a warm drink, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed — it was as if someone had taken a rich, chocolate bar and melted it into a cup. I’m not sure I drank anything else the rest of the trip! And mind you, we weren’t at the Ritz Carlton. I ordered hot chocolate at small cafes and restaurants all over Paris and the South of France, and they were all similarly rich and delicious.

Unfortunately, the American palate has no room for such extravagances. Milk and Hershey’s syrup make up most hot chocolate offerings here, so I returned to a hot-chocolate-free existence. Until I discovered City Bakery.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

City Bakery was one of the lucky establishments to make an appearance in Sex and the City: it was featured in the episode where Carrie and Samantha run into the “Face Girl”, the girl who confessed she had dated Aidan after Carrie did, then made a face. (Does anyone else miss that show as much as I do??) Carrie proclaims City Bakery has the best brownie in the city, which was akin to giving it three Michelin stars and a 30-point Zagat rating all at once. It was enough to start a stampede.  When I finally made my way out there the brownie didn’t win me over, but the hot chocolate did. Reminiscent of the thick cups I fell in love with in France, the hot chocolate at City Bakery is rich, strong and very, very chocolaty.  I guess I should have known once I spied the Chocolate Room that I had found my people.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

Every February City Bakery runs a Hot Chocolate Festival, where each day of the month offers a specialty version of their hot chocolate. It’s celebrated with quite a lot of fanfare — on my recent visit the flavor du jour was Sunken Treasure, so the employees donned pirate hats while pennant banners bearing a skull and crossbones hung overhead.  I asked about the Sunken Treasure flavor, and was advised that a dark chocolate truffle and caramel coins were mixed into the already decadent hot chocolate. You could then opt to have a homemade marshmallow plopped into it (I passed, I wanted to show some modicum of restraint).  If death by chocolate were an option, this would be how you’d do it.  Get there before it ends, you have an extra day this leap year to enjoy it!

Location:
3 W 18th St

Hours:
Monday – Friday 7:30am – 7pm
Saturday 8am – 7pm
Sunday 9am – 6pm



Pair it with:

Lunch at Melt Shop

Melt Shop NYC

If you’re one of those rare creatures like myself who believes there’s a separate stomach for dessert, then why not go for broke? Before you indulge in liquid heaven, load up on a carbo-licious grilled cheese sandwich and some tater tots at Melt Shop.  The grilled cheese at Melt Shop has been labeled one of the best in the city, and they proudly stand by their freshly baked bread and artisanal ingredients.  It’ll be a comfort food extravaganza of epic proportions.

Location:
55 W 26th St

Hours:
Mon-Sun 11am to 9pm

– L.

Zoolander 2, Kiehl’s and the DZCFPWDAG



Living in New York City is not without its challenges: sky-high rents, overcrowding and a consistently manic pace. But those who suffer it do so for the trade-offs: great art, great food and great entertainment. Besides its 8 million residents, visitors also pass through here in droves, making it a great market for… just about anything. Enter Zoolander 2 and Kiehl’s cross-promotional stunt: The Derek Zoolander Center for People Who Don’t Age Good (or DZCFPWDAG to those in the know).

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

The center was open for youthification for five days, coinciding with the Zoolander 2 New York City premiere and New York Fashion Week. We couldn’t possibly expect to parade around the city in our unyouthified state, especially not with all the celebrities, models and street-style stars in our midst, so we headed over stat.

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

We first stepped on the Aging Scale which advised us that we, unfortunately, aged not so good.

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

So they immediately sent us for decontamination.

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

And then had us “breathe in youth and breathe out age”. I didn’t feel the age leaving my body, but in my defense, my nostrils stopped working when I was five.

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

We were counseled on the appropriate pants-to-nipple ratio (a public service announcement to address the ongoing crisis, of course — we must all do our part), then we were ushered into a meditation area. Once we completed all the steps in the youthification process, we were asked to document the proof of our youth. While we were offered the Derek Zoolander Lookbook of Really Really Ridiculously Good-Looking Looks as inspiration, we were warned not to attempt any of the cutting-edge poses lest we hurt ourselves. It was a state-of-the-art, innovative multi-faceted process that zapped our oldness away.  Folks, do not try this at home.

Zoolander Kiehls NYC



Paired it with:

Dinner at by CHLOE.

By Chloe NYC

By Chloe NYC

When fashionistas descend on the city, the average dress size drops precipitously and most of us are left with a sense of guilt and shame over the chocolate croissant we devoured that morning.  This, then, is the moment to visit by CHLOE, a trendy vegan joint in SoHo. The Chloe referenced in the name is none other than Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan herself, and the first one to win a televised cooking competition (Cupcake Wars). Everything here is made from scratch, and many will confess that the burgers, creative salads and interesting desserts appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.  So if you’d like to graze with the gazelles during Fashion Week, make your way over here. Or just come when they’ve all left and order two of everything. It’ll still be healthier than ordering a McDonald’s Kale Salad.

Location:
185 Bleecker Street

Hours:
Sunday 10AM to 10PM
Monday – Tuesday 11AM to 10PM
Wednesay – Friday 11AM to 11PM
Saturday 10AM to 11PM

– L.

Heart of Hearts in Times Square

When I was young, my father would take us to these book warehouse sales, where mostly outdated and oddball titles were peddled on the cheap. On one of those trips, I stumbled upon a book about the zodiac which introduced me to the world of astrology. The notion that the supermarket clerk and I could share similar traits based on our birthdates captured my juvenile attention, and when I reached the section with compatibility charts, I quickly looked up the only couple whose birthdays I knew: my parents. Appalled by my findings, I rushed over to my mother and exclaimed “You shouldn’t have married Dad! You’re not compatible!” My mother calmly replied, “If you’re not compatible with someone it doesn’t mean you can’t marry him, it just means the two of you might have to work harder.”

Heart of Hearts Time Square NYC

I might have put this theory to the test when I suggested we check out an art installation in Times Square, because 1) it’s 10 degrees out with a wind chill that makes it feel like minus 3 degrees and 2) it’s in Times Square.  And work hard he did, as Justin reluctantly accompanied me to “Heart of Hearts”, this year’s winner of the Times Square Alliance’s annual Valentine’s Day design contest. What appears to be a simple ring of 10-foot tall mirrored hearts manages to simultaneously capture the reflection of its highly kinetic surroundings on the exterior, while creating the illusion of privacy in its interior. On the Times Square Arts page it states, “Within the ring, diamond-shaped spaces inside each heart will create six “kissing booths” where couples will find their activities mirrored, allowing both privacy and publicity in the Heart of Hearts.”  It was a selfie magnet, and even the locals rushing through couldn’t resist pulling out their phones for a quick snap.

If you’ve avoided Times Square like most New Yorkers do, this art installation might be a fun reason to revisit it. While the crowds can be maddening, The Crossroads of the World can still thrill. And if the weather happens to be slightly kinder when you make it out, maybe you’ll get lucky (or unlucky) and catch a glimpse of the Naked Cowboy and your Times Square experience will be complete. Heart of Hearts is on display through March 6th.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Location:
Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets



Pair it with:

Lunch at Num Pang

Num Pang NYC

Num Pang NYC

Num Pang NYC

Times Square is, unfortunately, home to several national restaurant chains hoping to draw in tourists. But you don’t have to succumb to the Olive Garden breadsticks! Head over to 48th Street, where you’ll find Num Pang, a brightly-colored street-art decorated shop serving Cambodian-style sandwiches with interesting options like Peppercorn Catfish and Roasted Cauliflower on its menu. The sandwiches are highly acclaimed, and similar to their Vietnamese banh mi counterparts, include cucumber, pickled carrots and cilantro which they pair with their signature chili mayo.  Their menu now also includes rice bowls and salads, so it’s the perfect lunch solution.

Location:
148 W 48th Street

Hours:
Mon – Fri  11am – 9pm
Sat & Sun 11am – 6pm

– L.

Koneko Cat Cafe

It’s a sobering moment when, as an adult, you realize the magnitude of the sacrifice your parents made for you.  I used to think my father was unreasonably strict and purposefully withholding, but I realize now that he was, quite simply, a practical man trying to do what was best for his family.  He made us take piano lessons to teach us discipline.  He banned desserts in the house to help us maintain healthy diets.  And he prohibited pets because he knew the responsibilities of caring for them would eventually fall on my poor mother, who already had three children to chase after.  But my love for animals was inexplicably strong, so I would find different ways to scratch that itch.  I would fish my dad’s goldfish out of his pond and pet them, as if they were slimy, squirmy miniature dogs.  I would linger any time we found ourselves in the vicinity of a pet store.  And I would drop by my neighbor’s house four doors down, ring the doorbell, and ask if I could borrow a cat.  She would smile, grab one of her adorable little fur babies, and let me sit in her driveway with it.  I would spend hours playing with the loaned animal until it was time to hand it back and go home. So you see, I’m the OG cat café customer.

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Cat cafés are establishments where people pay to interact with cats housed on the premises.  They were widely popularized in Japan in the late 2000s and finally made their way to New York City in 2014.  They provide relief to the cat lovers who are bound by the challenges most city dwellers face – cramped quarters, roommates with allergies, pet restrictions on a lease.  But besides providing some much-needed cat time to humans (studies have shown numerous health benefits), cat cafés also provide a service by acting as a liaison between cat rescue organizations and future cat owners.  Matches can be made on the large floor pillows scattered around the cattery, as the felines and their visitors get to know each other and form bonds that could blossom into lifelong partnerships.

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

At Koneko Cat Café, you reserve hour-long blocks of time to the cattery through their website.  The café offers food and drink options with a Japanese flair, and you check in at the counter before you head to the cattery located towards the back.  You enter through a glass door, where one of the staff members briefly goes over the rules and hands you a pair of slippers to slip in to after you remove your shoes.  The cattery spans two levels, with the cats able to move freely between them.  Koneko Cat Café usually has approximately fifteen cats on the premises, but that number can vary depending on how many successful adoptions occur in a given week.  It’s a great way to inject some furry love into your day, as long as you keep your expectations in check.  While there was some of this…

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

…there was mainly a lot of this.  (Cats sleep 12-16 hours per day.)

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Much like a married man who heads to a bar and realizes the girls he meets just make him miss his wife, we returned home after our dalliances with Elijah, Frida, Jethro and the other cats and promptly curled up in bed with Chloe.  She’s not perfect, but she’s ours.   

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

Location:
26 Clinton Street

Hours:
Café
Monday, Wednesday through Sunday 8am – 10pm
Cattery
Monday, Wednesday through Sunday 11am – 9pm
Kids Day Wednesday 11am – 8pm
(The Cattery is closed daily 3-4pm for catnaps)
Café and Cattery closed Tuesdays



Pair it with:

A meal at Ivan Ramen

Ivan Ramen NYC

Ivan Ramen NYC

Ivan Ramen NYC

Located directly across the street from Koneko Cat Café is one of our favorite ramen joints, Ivan Ramen.  Ivan Orkin, the man behind it, hails from Long Island City but interestingly started his ramen career in Tokyo then brought it to New York after he’d made a success of it there.  You can read about his fascinating beginnings in the Lucky Peach, David Chang’s food publication.  Extend that warm-and-fuzzy feeling from the experience at the cat café by slurping your way through one of the hot ramen bowls here.  These moments remind you why winter isn’t so bad after all.

Location:
25 Clinton Street

Hours:
Monday-Wednesday :
Lunch 12-3:30pm
Dinner 5:30-11pm
Thursday-Friday:
Lunch 12-3:30pm
Dinner 5:30-midnight
Saturday:
Brunch 12-4pm
Dinner: 5:30-Midnight
Sunday:
Brunch 12-4pm
Dinner 5:30-11pm

– L.

Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History

Like the children who came before and after me, I, too, went through a dinosaur phase — an obsession with toys, comic books, movies, novels and archaeological journals related to the clade of vertebrates Sir Richard Owen established as “Dinosauria” in 1842. Theirs was an entire alien world that could coexist simultaneously in the past and the present, the imagination and reality. And what better place to be immersed in the irrefutable, fossilized evidence of the Mesozoic Era than the cathedral of “Dinosauria” devotion, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

Though this was far from our first rodeo, and there are countless other spectacular examples in their world-famous fossil halls, Lynn and I specifically ventured to AMNH, perched on the threshold of magnificent Central Park West, for the must-see exhibition of a cast of a Titanosaur skeletal fossil. Titanosaurs were sauropod dinosaurs, a group which included some of the largest and heaviest creatures to walk the earth, in the forest of today’s Patagonia, during the Late Cretaceous Period. At a length of 122 feet and just under 19 feet tall, its grandeur did not disappoint. From head to tail, the replica spans the entirety of Wallach Orientation Center, nearly scraping the ceiling, and a portion of its neck and head spill out into the adjoining elevator banks. Mouths agape, we could only imagine what it would look like in the flesh—all 70 speculated tons of it. Even our attempts at capturing it for the purposes of this post (using Panorama and Photosphere, mind you) proved rather ineffectual. Yes, it’s that big! For additional information, visit their website here.

Location:
Central Park West and 79th St

Hours:
Open daily from 10 am–5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day



Pair it with:

Brunch at Caffé Storico

Caffe Storico NYC

Caffe Storico NYC

Caffe Storico NYC

Strangely, casts of the skeletal fossil remains of dinosaurs, just like emaciated models attending a casting call or an open audition for an ad campaign, have the effect of making me ravenously hungry. But the question is where do you go near Central Park West? Well, Stephen Starr (the Restaurateur of Upland fame) has you covered. Just pop on over to…uh, wait…The New York Historical Society Museum and Library across the street? Yep, that’s right. Inside of the museum, you will find Caffé Storico, a quaint Italian restaurant serving antipasti, pastas, panini and hearty entrees. Lynn settled on a Polenta and Eggs with a mushroom ragù and I went with a Spinach and Ricotta Strozzapreti with dill butter and sesame. Both were excellent, but as usual, I tasted Lynn’s and regretted my choice. Luckily, polenta is filling, so I shamelessly finished hers off.

Location:
170 Central Park West

Hours:
Brunch
Saturday and Sunday: 11am–4pm
Lunch
Tuesday–Friday: 11am–3:30pm
Late Afternoon Menu
Tuesday–Friday: 3:30pm–5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 4pm–5:30pm
Dinner
Tuesday–Friday: 5pm–10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 5:30pm–10pm
Closed Monday

– J.

Celluloid Heroes: Cinema Paradiso

Even New Yorkers with the most rugged, indomitable constitutions know when to shrug their shoulders and concede. Whether it’s a blizzard or a weekend where the MTA decides to re-route all the subway lines you actually use, there are just times when you need to say, “New York, right now, I’m just not that into you.”  For those evenings, weekends, weeks or months that you’d just rather spend holed up at home (we won’t judge), we’d like to introduce what we hope will be an ongoing segment called “Celluloid Heroes”, where we’ll pick a movie — preferably an old favorite — and pair it with something fun you can make at home.

To kick off the series, we decided on Giuseppe Tornatore’s cherished and award-winning 1988 masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso.  

Celluloid Heroes Cinema Paradiso

The official synopsis found on the Miramax website is as follows:

Cinema Paradiso is the beautiful, enchanting story of a young boy’s lifelong love affair with the movies. Set in an Italian village, Salvatore finds himself enchanted by the flickering images at the Cinema Paradiso, yearning for the secret of the cinema’s magic. When the projectionist, Alfredo, agrees to reveal the mysteries of moviemaking, a deep friendship is born. The day comes for Salvatore to leave the village and pursue his dream of making movies of his own. Thirty years later he receives a message that beckons him back home to a secret and beautiful discovery that awaits him.

Celluloid Heroes Cinema Paradiso

We thought we’d share our thoughts and memories surrounding this movie:

L.:  Truth?  When we rewatched Cinema Paradiso while Snowstorm Jonas kept us imprisoned in our tiny little apartment, my eyes welled up as soon as the music kicked in — all of two minutes into the movie!  It’s like a Pavlovian response.  The score is hauntingly beautiful, and it always brings me back to the first time I watched the movie.  

J.: Indeed, Cinema Paradiso evokes a nearly automatic response, the emotional equivalent of the reaction triggered when a doctor taps the sweet spot just below the kneecap, though I generally don’t tear up until the montage near the film’s end.

L.: And what an ending!  *sigh*  During that scene, as well as the farewell scene at the train station, I go from sniffling to full-blown ugly cry.

J.: Having worked at a 1920’s, single-screen theater, Drexel Grandview (now simply Grandview) Theater, in Grandview Heights, Ohio during my final years of college, Cinema Paradiso holds a special place in my heart. The scenes in the projection booth remind me of the many late nights I spent watching whatever film it was we were showing at the time from that cramped, dark vantage. Unfortunately, I don’t recall having a stool.

L.: Although Cinema Paradiso holds an obvious appeal to cinephiles, I think the featured theater in that tiny Sicilian town merely serves as a backdrop to explore a host of complex relationships between its patrons.  Love and loss are central themes as we watch memories and personal connections develop over many years.  The movies are a shared escape, which can be particularly powerful during times of strife.

J.: With every viewing of this film, I find something new to contemplate. On this particular occasion, my thoughts came to rest on the notion of memory. The mind is a fragile vessel. Our recollections change. Sometimes we misremember. Other times we intentionally redact or revise. Occasionally we forget. The people we come in contact with—the fraternities and sororities of shared experience—are the only ones who keep us honest. They validate and legitimize our memories. And as we lose those connections through the passage of time, as our protagonist learns, we become ever more isolated. Those memories, those truths, become real only in our own minds. Perhaps the lesson is to cherish those connections as much or more than we cherish our memories.

So reader, tell us: have you seen the movie?  What was your favorite scene?  Comment below or email us at letschat@madhattersnyc.com – we’d love to hear from you.

Pair it with:

A bowl of spicy noodle soup

Celluloid Heroes Cinema Paradiso

We always have good instant noodles on hand, as any self-respecting Asian household should.  Make it spicy, so you can claim your tears and runny nose are from the noodle soup.

Celluloid Heroes Cinema Paradiso

– L. & J.

Pictures:
www.notrecinema.com
www.justgoodvibe.com
memegenerator.net

 

 

 

Building Tour at New York Public Library



“Please, no…Wait! Wait! Wait!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, slapping the side of the bus with enough force that the bones in my hand would gradually stiffen and the skin of my palm would radiate a dull, throbbing ember of pain late into the evening. In New York City (or anywhere else, for that matter), bus drivers don’t have a reputation for being especially empathetic creatures. Maybe it’s the nature of the job: long hours, miserable passengers, impossible traffic and a lot of repetition. But the driver of this particular bus—the final one to depart from the gate at ten o’clock—must have won twenty bucks on a scratch-off or had the weekend off, because instead of tightening his sphincter and stomping on the accelerator, he applied pressure to the brakes. And so began the silver lining at the end of a brutal week of work that would extend from the long commute home and through the weekend to come.

If you abruptly shook me awake at eight o’clock the following morning and asked me where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do with my day (WARNING: I wouldn’t recommend doing so without espresso at the ready), I’m absolutely positive that the very last thing that would spring from my lips would be, “Let’s take a building tour!” But then again, I had never visited The Steven A. Schwarzman Building, the flagship of New York Public Library’s four magnificent research centers and eighty-eight neighborhood branches residing in the boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

New York Public Library Tour

Designed and constructed by the relatively unknown firm of Carrère & Hastings and considered the preeminent example of Beaux-Arts architecture, it is the largest marble structure ever attempted in the United States. With its iconic stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, on sentry at the entrance, Corinthian columns flanking the ornate bronze doors adorning the main entrance, innumerable ceiling murals, massive chandeliers, plaster rosettes and wood paneling throughout, it is truly a  breathtaking space.




New York Public Library Tour

New York Public Library Tour

And yet, inundated by all this architectural splendor, I found my mind wandering off the beaten path, into the brush and brambles, revisiting memories long forgotten. My mother is a devout woman. On the weekends (Saturdays or Sundays—sometimes both), she could be found at church, but during the week, she visited her other sanctum: the closest branch of the public library, wherever it was we were living at the time. The former was to nourish the soul, the latter the mind. I was raised to believe that whatever kind of truth one was looking for could be found within the hallowed walls of these two community institutions.

New York Public Library Tour

New York Public Library Tour

For a ephemeral moment, standing near reception in Astor Hall at the end of the tour, it occurred to me that, just as I was a lapsed Catholic, I had become, unintentionally, a lapsed library patron as well. And in a brief flight of fancy, I imagined my mother descending the floating stairway in a winter trench coat, purse hanging from her forearm, hands gloved, head wrapped in a cashmere scarf. She disappeared behind the stone pillar. Following close behind was a pale, ginger-haired boy, carrying an untenable mountain of books—books she would devour in an inexplicably short amount of time and discard, randomly, throughout the house until they were gathered up to return a week later. He, too, disappeared behind the stone pillar, neither to reappear.

Location:
5th Ave at 42nd St

Hours:
Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat 10AM – 6PM
Tue, Wed 10AM – 8PM
Sunday 1PM – 5PM
Closed legal holidays

Free one-hour tours of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.  For additional details, visit their website.



Pair it with:

The Little Beet at The Pennsy

Pennsy NYC

Pennsy NYC

Pennsy NYC

Located in the abject culinary desert just outside Penn Station at 2 Penn Plaza, The Pennsy is the newest of the now ubiquitous gourmet food halls. A product of the marriage of 4 chefs, a butcher and a caterer, The Pennsy, at 8,000 square feet, features offerings from (author/chef/restaurateur) Mario Batali with (caterer) Mary Giuliani, (Michelin Star recipient/Next Iron Chef winner) Marc Forgoine, (butcher) Pat LaFrieda, (chef/restaurateur) Adam Sobel and (author/chef) Franklin Becker. But it was for Mr. Becker, a Type 2 Diabetic, and his gluten-free, healthy cooking at The Little Beet that brought us to this food destination. With an assortment of bowls, rolls and beet boxes to choose from, we settled on a Cabbage with Soba Noodles box and The Garden bowl. Both were tasty, but it is The Garden bowl that will bring us back again and again.

Location:
2 Pennsylvania Plaza

Hours:
Mon – Sat 11AM – 11PM
Sunday Wed 11AM – 8PM
Closed legal holidays

– J.

 

 

Fairy Tale Fashion at the Museum at FIT

Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s.  So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities.  I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.”  Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets.  A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”  

Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame.  I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional.  But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas.  I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from.  I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time.  I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine.  Fashion was aspirational:  it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.  

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The Museum at FIT’s latest exhibition, Fairy Tale Fashion, plays with a similar theme.  It captures how fantasy has always been a key component of fashion and how imagination consistently propels design.  From the Alexander McQueen gown with embellishments evocative of Rapunzel’s cascading hair, to Noritaka Tatehana’s glass slipper, the phenomenal pieces showcased here prove that the fables we read as children didn’t just leave us with morals and life lessons, but also vivid images that would inspire us and reappear in our closets for years to come.  The display reminds us that the right gown can elicit a Cinderella-esque transformation (isn’t this where our obsession with the makeover started?), the same way the right LBD can invoke both a hint of menace and a sense of strength (power dressing in its basest form).  The individual pieces in the exhibition are special, and the way in which they intertwine fantasy and reality is nothing short of magical.

Oh, and did I mention?  Admission to the Museum at FIT is always free.

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Location:
227 W 27th St

Hours:
Tues – Fri Noon – 8PM
Saturday 10AM – 5PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays

Pair it with:

Tapas at El Quinto Pino

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After you return from your trip to that land far, far away, take a stroll over to Chelsea, pop in to El Quinto Pino and allow yourself to be transported once again, but this time to Spain.  This quaint restaurant offers you the option of a casual bar experience on one side, or a more classic dining room experience in the other.  Spanish tile adorns the wall in the bar area and an amazing wall tapestry takes center stage in the dining room.  In combination, these design elements produce an exotic yet relaxed ambiance.  The coziness encourages you to linger as you make your way through their tapas menu.  The husband-and-wife team behind the establishment also owns Txikito and La Vara, and they are mainstays in the Spanish cuisine scene in New York City.  There is a permanent menu — the Uni Panini is a signature dish — but also a smaller rotating menu that highlights items from specific regions in Spain.  Bon appetit and bon voyage! 

Location:
401 W 24th St

Hours:
Monday 5PM–12AM
Tuesday 12PM–12AM
Wednesday 12PM–12AM
Thursday 12PM–12AM
Friday 12PM–1AM
Saturday 11:30AM–1AM
Sunday 11:30AM–11PM

– L.

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King at Cherry Lane Theatre

Standing in the small bend on Commerce Street in the West Village, waiting for the doors of the Cherry Lane Theatre to open, I take a quick glance around and note that Hasan Minhaj’s demographic is mostly what you’d expect: young and ethnic (myself included – well, definitely ethnic, young, not so much) .  And unsurprisingly, he starts out his performance acknowledging the “brown people” in the audience.  I cringe a little, fearing we’re in for a stale series of immigrant jokes that panders to a growing minority.  Thankfully, it pulls out of that treacherous territory quickly.  

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Hasan Minhaj is probably most familiar as a correspondent on The Daily Show.  But his background is varied, and it includes experience as a storyteller on The Moth (which we’ve featured on the blog here).  Hasan’s time with The Moth serves him well in this endeavor, as his one-man show, Homecoming King, falls into a comfortable nook where storytelling and stand-up comedy overlap.  He comes across like that really funny friend who’s telling you a good story over dinner.  The tales are deeply personal, a trademark of the millennials who have consistently shared, posted, blogged and tweeted throughout their lives.  While some jokes land better than others, it’s clear where Hasan succeeds is in getting his audience to invest in him and his journey, as they collectively sigh, cry out and laugh at his shenanigans.  He exposes himself as a mean older sibling, as a coward, as a vindictive ex, and we can all relate.  He touches on hypocrisy and bigotry, but the themes that are core to his story—seeking acceptance from our parents, having our hearts broken by a first love, chasing impossible dreams—are universal.  By the end of the show, when he proudly recalls being mentored by an idol and landing the gig at The Daily Show, the audience is fully rooting for him and sharing in his success, and that is no small feat.

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Homecoming King is on an extended run at the Cherry Lane Theatre through January 30, 2016.  The theatre, which is situated on a charming street in the West Village (okay, I agree, they’re all charming and we hate everyone who gets to live there), is the longest continuously running Off-Broadway theatre and their mission is to “cultivate an urban artist colony, honor our groundbreaking history, and engage audiences in creating theater that illuminates contemporary issues, and at its best, transforms the spirit.”  The intimate setting enhances the experience, and it is a good match indeed.

For more information on the show and to buy tickets, visit their website here.

Tip: General Rush $20 tickets are  available at the Cherry Lane box office from 2 hours before showtime. Limit 2 per patron, subject to availability.

Location:
38 Commerce Street

Pair it with:

Dessert at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

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There is no shortage of quaint, picture-perfect restaurants to dine at in the West Village.  So pick one, then head to Dominique Ansel Kitchen for something sweet before the show.  Dominique Ansel, who created and patented the famous cronut, opened this outlet as a “hybrid bakery”, where pastries are prepared so that they can be enjoyed in the timeliest way possible. For the Chocolate Mousse, that means it is made-to-order, created once requested.  And for the Honeycrisp Apple Blossom Tart, that means it has been allowed to sit for the right amount of time prior to consumption.  There is bleacher seating inside, which gives you a great view of the expansive, open kitchen as you make your way through that life-altering tea-ramisu (tiramisu made with black tea instead of coffee?  What??).  So build in some time and leave some room in your belly for the creative, delightful desserts offered here.  You won’t regret it.

Location:
137 Seventh Avenue South (between Charles and W 10th Sts.)

Hours:
Mon – Sun : 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

– L.