It’s My Party And I’ll Paint If I Want To: A Street Art Mural Party in New York City



Summer in New York City is more of a feeling than a season. Even though temperatures fluctuate wildly, everyone wants to be outside. That makes it a great time for one of our favorite activities: hunting down street art. We’ve decided to do a small series of posts on it here on the blog, which we kicked off last week with our post on the Bushwick Collective.

What’s unique about the Bushwick Collective is that there’s an active curator who obtains the necessary permits and blessings. But elsewhere, most street artists still operate under the cloak of darkness. Illegal pieces are tucked into corners and slapped onto doors. And just as quickly, they can get painted over or removed.



Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

In Alphabet City, we recently attended a mural party organized by Robert Galinsky. As an active member of the neighborhood, Robert observed that bare walls invited less desirable tagging. So even though the activity isn’t officially sanctioned, he’s taken it upon himself to curate the walls of the city-owned building he manages. On this particular occasion, he invited three artists to contribute: Funqest, SacSix and XORS. He doesn’t offer them compensation, just a space to display their craft.



Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A post shared by FUNQEST (@funqest) on

Funqest is an artist of Japanese heritage with a distinct, dynamic style. His recent murals are largely abstract faces built with colorful blocks and dark borders. But a quick visit to his website shows a large breadth of work beginning in 2013. Funqest dons a Japanese Gigaku mask to hide his identity. He works in tandem with a partner, who helps him execute his vision.

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A post shared by @sacsix on

SacSix has long been a fan of street art, but only became an active participant less than two years ago. But even within that short period he managed to capture a coveted commission for the 2016 MTV Music Awards. His wheatpaste pieces feature icons of pop culture…. and Mr. Poop. Mr. Poop is a pigeon with a recurring guest star role in many of his pieces. The “Be Great” wall is SacSix’s largest outdoor work to date, and it features notable women of color.



Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

A post shared by Renee Snelson (@reneexors) on

Renee Snelson, who works under the name XORS, creates hyper-exaggerated images of shoes. But the shoes aren’t just there to promote a Carrie Bradshaw-level obsession (she’s also a talented shoe designer). The images of stilettos and high-heeled boots also speak to the darker side of fashion and the struggles women have with self-image.

Robert hand-selected the artists to blanket the block with vibrant hues, just in time for the summer. But if you happen to walk by, you may notice the new art has gone up around a couple of older pieces. One is a tribute to musician Gil Scott-Heron which locals are particularly fond of. The other, a simple wall by artist Chico that reads “Peace L.E.S”, was painted a week after 9/11. The old and the new capture the spirit of the neighborhood perfectly.

Location:
E 12th St and Ave C



Pair it with:

A meal at Superiority Burger

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street Art Mural Party New York City- Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Most people find the term veggie burger to be an oxymoron, but I’ll confess that I’m a fan. It’s a great avenue for creativity, and I’ve come across some very interesting varieties in my foodscapades. But if Justin doesn’t need to follow up a veggie burger with a “real burger”, then I know we’ve stumbled upon something good.

When Brooks Headley left Del Posto to open Superiority Burger, it caused quite a stir. He started with a pop-up, then opened his East Village joint. Lines snaked down the block, no matter the weather. Waits have eased up a little, but the vegetarian fare is still really good. Justin particularly enjoys their version of a Sloppy Joe, and the burnt broccoli side is a favorite. Give it a shot, we have a feeling you won’t miss the meat.

Location:
430 E 9th St

Hours:
Wed-Mon: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Closed Tuesday

– L.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Storytellers: An Introduction to New York City Bloggers



There is a Confucius quote that says:

 “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.”  

Shortly after we started blogging we realized what we didn’t know could fill an ocean.  It’s been a journey, one we explored more thoroughly in our year-end review after our first full year of blogging.  But we’ve received a lot of help and inspiration along the way, and no small part of that has come from other New York City bloggers that we’ve been fortunate to become acquainted with.  

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
This is what we were going for…
NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Nailed it, amirite? 🙂  From L-R: Lynn and Justin (that’s us!), Jess of Used York City, Becca of Tea with B, Mary Lane of New York Cliche, Mary of Mary in Manhattan, Trudy of Rendezvous in New York

We recently had the opportunity to finally put faces to blog names, and get to know some of our peers.  We were happy to discover that they are as effervescent in person as their blogs are, and we thought we’d introduce them to our readers the best way we know how: by comparing them to food.



New York Cliche = Mozzarella Pizza from Joe’s Pizza

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mary Lane is the blogger behind New York Cliche.  She takes all the typical trappings of life in the big city and puts her fun spin on it.  Like Joe’s Pizza, it’s a cliche, yes, but it’s also classic.  It’s a seasoned favorite that stands the test of time.

Mary in Manhattan = French Fries from Pommes Frites

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mary is the blogger behind Mary in Manhattan, and she’s every budget-conscious New Yorker’s BFF.  Like Pommes Frites, she proves that enjoying life in the city doesn’t require a platinum card, just a ton of creativity.  Stay in your comfort zone and dip your fries in Barbecue sauce.  Or explore the exotic and dip your fries in Pomegrenate Teriyaki Mayo.



Used York City = Chicken Matzo Ball Soup from Mile End Deli

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Jess is the mastermind behind Used York City, a site that features the work of several New York City writers as well as her own.  Like the Chicken Matzo Ball Soup at Mile End Deli, Used York City is practical without being mundane. It’s a familiar resource you’ll turn to on a regular basis.

Rendezvous en New York = Ice Cream from Ample Hills Creamery

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Trudy is the blogger behind Rendezvous en New York.  Like Ample Hills, Trudy is a mix master, covering a variety of topics on her blog.  Ample Hills throws together marshmallow and rice krispies, or Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms.  Trudy throws out posts on food, art and local sights.  It’s an eclectic amalgamation of the things she loves. 



Tea with B = Specialty Croissants from Union Fare

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

NYC Bloggers Introduction - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Becca is the blogger behind Tea with B, which is a blog with a slightly misleading name.  Although Becca does indeed cover tea, her blog also includes beauty, food and a host of lifestyle topics.  Like Union Fare’s specialty croissants, which include flavors like Fruity Pebbles, Matcha and Birthday Cake, Becca offers multiple on-trend flavors to suit any palate.  

And although she couldn’t make brunch, we wanted to also mention Julianne of It’s Five Here.  Hers is a fun blog that covers the bar scene in New York City as well as travels around the world.

If you’re like us, you’ve consumed, and will continue to consume these blogs (and their food equivalents!), on a regular basis.  If you’re a New York City blogger interested in attending the next meet-up, please reach out to us:
Email: letschat@madhattersnyc.com
Or on social media: FB, G+, Instagram, Twitter (yes, we just started on Twitter, come and say hi!)

Enjoy!

– L. & J.

Breaking Bread NYC: Raising a Fork and Awareness



“May we borrow a cup of sugar?”  I know, it’s a tad idyllic. And it’s certainly an anachronism in today’s introverted, disconnected world. But once upon a time, perhaps more recently than you can imagine, this concept was commonplace. You might recall recently hearing about Chris Salvatore and Norma Cook, a 31-year old actor and his 89-year old neighbor who were in the news when they became unlikely roommates (RIP, Norma). But there was a time when this wouldn’t have made headlines. We regularly reached out to those in our communities, shared provisions, broke bread together, attended to the elderly, and shouldered the burden of raising children. We knew our long-standing neighbors, welcomed newcomers and even stayed in touch with those who moved away.

I was pondering this recently, somewhat abstractly, while watching a movie on Netflix. It’s called Today’s Special, and I happened upon it during one of those all-too-frequent occurrences when I simply couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy. And I’ll admit, I juuuust about scrolled past it.

Today’s Special didn’t win any major awards. There were no flashy actors (though there were some incredible veteran players in the ensemble cast). It’s a simple, somewhat cliché story. But it embodies some beautiful ideals. It’s a New York story. It’s an immigrant story. It’s a story about cuisine, family, identity and love. And it’s a story that resonates with me, particularly in light of recent events.



Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog



Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

On a recent weekend Lynn and I ventured out into the city, which turned out to be a risky proposition given the weather. It was bitterly cold, the wind was pushing us forward, backward and sideways and a hazardous mixture of rain and sleet steadily pelted us with minuscule shards of what felt like wet glass. We found no respite in the subterranean tunnels of the subway system, either. Trains were slow or nonexistent. Runoff gushed or dripped from every crack and crevice. Impatient, ill-tempered commuters milled about anxiously until they finally gave up, cursing as they wandered off. But we were on a mission of sorts, so we battled through it.

Our plans involved a map we had purchased, as the weekend approached, from Breaking Bread NYC.  Breaking Bread NYC is a charitable project with the stated aim of “bringing people together with shared food experiences through food tours, campaigns, and events”. The map set us back only $10 and doubled as a donation to local hunger relief initiatives. The focus of the map was on local businesses serving cuisine from countries listed on the recent travel ban. For Lynn and I, eating as a way of protest seemed like a natural fit.



Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Breaking Bread NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The map offered nine locations in Manhattan. Happily, we found a few that we had not yet had the opportunity to sample. So we decided to hit up Ravagh and Moustache, respectively. At Ravagh, a casual Persian eatery, I went with a hearty bowl of Ash Reshteh, a traditional lentil and noodle soup, perfect for such a cold day, while Lynn lapped up the subtle smokiness of Mirza Ghassemi (a spiced, grilled aubergine spread) with warm, fresh pita bread. From there, we moved on to Moustache, where we ordered the Green Pitza with leeks, scallions, herbs and fresh mozzarella. The pitza crust was crispy and delicious and the sweetness of the leeks and mild saltiness and creaminess of the cheese was the perfect marriage.

If you make a similar donation through Breaking Bread NYC, you will continue to receive maps every Saturday “until they run out of recommendations”, so you’ll have the opportunity to discover new eateries and offer your continued support. If you prefer a more in-depth food and cultural experience, Breaking Bread NYC is also offering a variety of guided meals and food tours. Visit their Facebook page to purchase your food map and to check out all available events.

– J.

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride



There are many things I love about New York City, but there’s a special place in my heart for how the city celebrates the holidays.  It’s a special time of year when everyone’s a little less brusque, a little less hurried.  Tourists are in awe of their surroundings, but for a brief moment in time, the locals are too.  And all we need to shield us from the bitter cold as we take in oversized trees, holiday markets and dressed-up store windows are hot cups of cider in mittened hands.

There are certain seasonal snapshots that feel timeless.  Christmas trees for sale on the sidewalk with string lights hanging overhead.  Salvation Army volunteers dancing and singing at the entrance to the department store.  We get nostalgic around the holidays because it marks the passage of time ever so clearly, year after year.  Memories are made, traditions are born.  All of it feels sacred.




Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The New York Transit Museum houses a wealth of history within its walls, but around the holidays it gifts the city with a special trip down memory lane.  For several Sundays in November and December, the MTA and the New York Transit Museum dusts off its vintage fleet and takes it out for a spin.  Beginning on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and continuing for three additional Sundays through December 18, the Shoppers Special ran on the 6th Avenue line between the 2nd Avenue and Queens Plaza stations.

The Shoppers Special is an eight-car train that was in service from the 1930s to the 1970s.  Its basic, dark green riveted design is characteristic of Depression-era austerity, as is its sturdiness and durability.  The cars feature rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop-sash windows.  Shoppers Special riders were also treated to its original advertisements, which included a variety of “Helpful Hints”.  (I didn’t spy one on manspreading, though, so that must be a modern plague.)

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

But New York City is not one to pass up an opportunity, so fans of retro clothing, dance and music came out to play.  Dressed in the finest vintage garb, men and women gathered on the platform at the 2nd Avenue subway station and a swing dance party ensued.  As the Shoppers Special pulled up, it was easy to feel like you were on the set of a period film. 

The vintage cars are on display year-round at the New York Transit Museum, though the full experience is pretty hard to beat.  I don’t know about you, but I’m already wondering where to get my vintage outfit for next year’s party.  If you have a line in on where to go, please let me know!



Pair it with:

Dinner at Nix

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

After you’ve made your round-trip journey on the Shoppers Special, pay a visit to the newly minted Michelin-starred Nix.  While the Nostalgia Train Ride took you back into the past, Nix gives you a glimpse into the future.  

Nix is a meat-free restaurant that, in line with where food trends are headed, challenges the idea of what vegan and vegetarian fare can be.  The menu consists of a variety of small plates (though those labeled as “bolder” are closer to the size of a single entree), so bring friends and sample as much as you can.  The egg salad with habanero cream and potato crispies is a fun take on deviled eggs, while the shaved brussels sprouts with delicata squash and almonds is light and refreshing.  The cauliflower tempura with steamed buns and house pickles lets you forget that meat is absent.  Cast aside the stereotype of the tempeh burger and its dreadlocked, patchouli-smelling server. A kinder, more sustainable future is looking pretty sexy.

Location:
72 University Pl

Hours:
Monday through Thursday: 5.30 to 11pm
Friday/Saturday: 5 to 11pm
Sunday: 5 to 10.30pm

– L.

 

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade



When people find out how long Justin and I have been married, many of them inevitably ask if we have kids.  We do not.  I don’t bemoan that circumstance except for once a year: at Halloween.  Because of this.  I mean, come on.

#GOALS, right?  I would love to dress Chloe up as sushi, but she would have none of it.

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

So the next best thing would be to attend the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.  And we do.  Every year.

There’s so much effort and ingenuity that goes into the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, which has continued to grow exponentially every year.  There are always au courant costumes: while there were several pizza rats last year, this year there were several Donald Trumps and Kenneth Bones, as well as a Basket of Adorables (vs. Deplorables).  There are many fan-based costumes: Game of Thrones has had a strong showing in the last few years, Stranger Things was a predictable newcomer, Harry Potter was still present, and I was happy to discover a Neverending Story one this year.  And there are incredible props, including a USPS truck (a play on the dog-mailman relationship), a Good Humor ice cream push cart and a candy shop.

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC

Dog owners are a friendly and supportive community, but competitors also have an incentive to put their best paw, um, foot forward.  There are thousands of prizes offered, from Broadway tickets to gift cards.  But the event also helps fund the park and promote pet rescue and adoption.

Aside from the sheer amount of creativity, the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade is the definition of a feel-good event.  Visitors are squealing, participants are posing for pictures, and all the dogs are getting tons of love… and treats.  It’s a great way to disappear into the now.  

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC
Snoopy, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty and Linus
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC
The Hamilton Crew
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC
Neverending Story!
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC
Yes, that’s a man dressed like a dog interviewing a dog dressed as a puffer fish
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade - Mad Hatters NYC
Proof that 90s flannel is back

I couldn’t possibly capture all the wonderful and imaginative costumes here, so if you’d like to continue to ogle all the dressed-up dogs from the day, head over to Gothamist or spend two hours watching NPR’s live feed.

Location:
Tompkins Square Park

Pair it with:

A sandwich from Harry & Ida’s

Harry & Ida's - Mad Hatters NYC

Harry & Ida's - Mad Hatters NYC

Siblings Julie and Will Horowitz pleased their Hester Street Fair fans when they finally opened Harry and Ida’s Meat and Supply Company in 2015.  It’s set up like a general store that can only be described as Deadwood-meets-Brooklyn.  They sell a hodgepodge of curated items like pigs ears and wild mushrooms from local producers, but they also have a small menu of hot and cold sandwiches served from the counter.  The Pop’s Pastrami Sandwich is its signature item, named for their great grandfather, and it’s universally loved.  The meat is smoked on-site then hand-cut and served on a hero roll from Pain D’Avignon. The tender, perfectly marbled meat comes with pickled cucumbers and fronds of fresh dill.  There’s a small selection of additional sandwiches, some of which are available as gluten-free salads, but you can’t go wrong with the pastrami.

Location:
189 Ave A

Hours:
Mon-Sat 11am – 10pm
Sun 11am – 9pm

– L.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit



The boots, sweaters and coats of winter have long since gone to storage. The loafers, khakis, and jackets of spring have surreptitiously migrated to the bottom of the chest of drawers. And now, mercifully, the time for sundresses, chino shorts and flip flops — the compulsory uniform of summer — has finally arrived and New York City, in its typically brash, exploitative, never-halfway approach to everything, doesn’t just passively accept this change, it embraces it with something nearing pathology. 

In a city with weather as temperamental as New York, that first sustained period of warm, sunny weather, such as was experienced on Memorial Day weekend, elicits a dramatic reaction from its denizens, particularly so when they have had to wait until the tail end of spring to enjoy it.



Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Elated sun worshipers take to the streets in roving, sweaty hordes; cafes and rooftop bars — the packed, impenetrable fortresses that they inevitably become — offer admission only begrudgingly; and seemingly endless queues stream from ice cream parlors, nearly around the block. But there’s also a feeling of community that comes with this fervor, and nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in the city’s wealth of public parks, where pristine lawns magically transform into movie theaters and stages, while water features convert into makeshift public pools.



Washington Square Park, with its nearly 10 acres in Greenwich Village, epitomizes this spirit, offering visitors an expansive lawn, an enormous central fountain, numerous statues and monuments, and a breathtaking arch — modeled after the Arc de Triomphe — at its northern gateway.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

Our recent visit was inspired by our love of art.  The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is a biannual affair held in the spring (Memorial Day) and fall (Labor Day). It was founded in 1931 by famed American artist, Jackson Pollock, when he found himself in the unenviable position of being so broke that he was unable to pay the rent at his Greenwich Village studio. His solution: set some paintings up on the sidewalk outside the park and offer them for sale. Eventually, friends and other artists followed suit, and the rest is history.

So check out the white tents along University Place and see if you can find a piece of original art for that spot above the dresser.  Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the next Pollock or de Kooning.  The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit continues on June 4th and 5th then returns on Labor Day weekend.

Location:
University Place and E 13th St

Hours:
Noon – 6pm



Pair it with:

A meal at Umami Burger

Umami Burger NYC

Umami Burger NYC

Derived from the Japanese concept of a “fifth taste” in addition to the established tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter, Umami is defined as “a category of taste in food, corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate”. So what does that mean? And why on earth would Adam Fleischman, the founder of this establishment, incorporate a principle known until recently only to food scientists outside of Japan, into his ever expanding burger enterprise? In answer to the first question, I have no idea what it means. And to answer the second question, quite simply because the result is delicious. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a balanced, simultaneous pronunciation of all possible tastes, combined with a wide variety of textures, makes for something indulgent and memorable.  Or maybe it does.

Location:
432 Sixth Avenue

Hours:
Sun – Thurs 11:30am – 11pm
Fri – Sat 11:30am – 12am

– J.

Isaac Oliver at Joe’s Pub



Storytelling, at its apex, is an art. It requires the philosophical contemplations, critical observations and the communicative dexterity of a writer, coupled with the intuition and instincts of a performer. It has existed from mankind’s earliest days, long before the first written word, as the primary narrative mode to disseminate ideas: communicating historical accounts, outlining philosophical theories, expressing ethical concerns, and challenging cultural norms.

Though much of my exposure to the social significance of storytelling originated with an elective class on folklore I explored at university, it wasn’t until my first trip abroad, to the United Kingdom, that I began to truly appreciate it as art. From cabbie to bartender, a newly minted acquaintances on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow or on a bus in Dublin, the wit and mirth of the oral tradition were on full display in all its grandeur.

Isaac Oliver Joe's Pub NYC

Isaac Oliver Joe's Pub NYC

In similar fashion, Isaac Oliver, the award-winning writer, performer and playwright, enlightened and entertained us one late Saturday evening at Joe’s Pub, a cozy dinner theater on Lafayette Street in the East Village. He was promoting his new novel, Intimacy Idiot, ostensibly a collection of personal essays detailing his experiences while searching for love and intimacy in New York City. He performed excerpts from his novel on stage, either alone or with actor Daniel Loeser, masterfully captivating his audience–an incredible feat considering attention spans endure for less than the amount of time it takes for a traffic light to turn–with tales so magnificently absurd they could only be true.

I’ve read reviews citing comparisons between Isaac Oliver and many renowned writers and performers. Only the comparison to a nascent David Sedaris rings true. In fact, if pressed for a concrete opinion on the matter, I would liken Oliver to the wit and showmanship of Sedaris and the candor and immediacy of William Burroughs (particularly with how he addresses sex and sexuality–indeed, he pulls no punches on that account). Opinions may vary, but there’s no doubt about his talent.

Isaac Oliver returns to Joe’s Pub in April and June.  You can find additional information and buy tickets here.

Location:
425 Lafayette St

Pair it with:

Dinner and dessert at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery

Lafayette Grand Cafe Bakery NYC

Lafayette Grand Cafe Bakery NYC

Lafayette Grand Cafe Bakery NYC

Lafayette Grand Cafe Bakery NYC

Famed chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini’s bistro in NoHo offers excellent, regional French cuisine as well as an in-house bakery helmed by rising star Pâtissière, Jen Yee. From hors d’oeuvres to mains, the meal exceeded expectations (particularly the mind-blowingly delicious wood-grilled local trout with autumn vegetable salad and saffron), but as we’ve come to expect (see our previous post), Jen Yee stole the show yet again with her incredible iteration of a classic: the cheesecake.

Location:
380 Lafayette Street

Hours:
Dinner
Monday-Saturday 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sundays 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm

– J.

Not a Photo at The Hole

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This proverb is often used when discussing art (let’s admit it, usually when we see something we don’t enjoy).  Art appreciation truly is a subjective, personal experience.  We’ve definitely seen our fair share of pieces that have induced that squinty-eyed, cocked-head pose, with a virtual question mark poised neatly above our heads.  While we may not all agree on what constitutes art, whether it’s good or bad, or where it’s headed, we can (hopefully) agree that there’s an abundance of it and we’re better off for it.  We’ve featured street art as well as the more conventional kind found in museums here on the blog, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also talk about another way to access great art in the city: private galleries.

Although there have always been arguments about culture being only for the elite or art being corrupted by the super-rich, we (who are neither elite nor rich, much less super-rich!) have found no such barrier to entry, and we regularly enjoy visiting the multitude of galleries here in the city that have allowed us to get up close and personal with some stunning pieces of artwork.  For free.  There are bigger players like the Gagosian Gallery who have featured such heavy-hitters as Takashi Murakami and Roy Lichtenstein, but we submit that smaller galleries should not be overlooked. Gems can often be uncovered in these more experimental spaces.  Such was our experience recently when we visited the Not a Photo exhibition at The Hole.

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The Hole describes itself as a “contemporary art gallery in New York City representing emerging artists” where “filling a hole in the downtown community” is their goal.  Not a Photo, which opened on November 29, 2015 and runs through January 17, 2016, features works by artists who use photography as a means to an end: the end being a much more complex, dynamic composition than a photograph.  The pieces selected for the exhibition manipulate photos in different ways: Adam Parker Smith gives you a woman on canvas with long blond human hair blowing in a breeze (produced by an electric fan next to the canvas) which adds texture and dimensionality to an otherwise basic portrait.  Ryder Ripps exhibits a painting where he digitally manipulates a selfie from an Instagram account of a self-help fitness model and renders it in paint. Susy Oliveira contributes a photographic sculpture of a bouquet.  The exhibition is simple, yet provocative.  Catch it while you can.

More detailed descriptions of all the artists and their pieces can be found on the gallery’s website here.  

Location:
312 Bowery (between E Houston and Bleecker Sts)

Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Pair it with:

Brunch at Estela

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The artists at Not a Photo render basic photographs to the point where they are unrecognizable, and the chef at Estela does the same to well-known dishes.  Estela was a critical darling when it opened in 2013, then went on to achieve more notoriety when President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dined there in 2014.  In Pete Wells’ New York Times reviewhe said “The cooking is almost familiar, but not quite, and it’s the little differences that get under your skin.”  And he’s absolutely right.  While burrata has been on the menu of every trendy restaurant, the one offered here feels unique: it’s served on bread in a green liquid that we licked clean off the plate.  (We actually cried out when the waiter tried to clear it before we had drained it completely.)  A delicious green liquid sounds like an oxymoron to us too.  And if it’s on the menu, order the French Toast.  There are different iterations but ours happened to be the one pictured above.  There’s a caramelized top much like the kind you find on creme brulee, and it sits in a vanilla bean custard that is to-die-for.  It’s unlike any French Toast we’ve ever had.  It’s, I don’t know, Not French Toast.

Location:
47 East Houston Street (between Mulberry and Mott Sts.)

Hours:
Sunday to Thursday
5:30pm-Midnight
(Kitchen closes at 11pm)
Friday and Saturday
5:30pm-1am
(Kitchen closes at 11:30pm)
Saturday and Sunday Brunch
11:30am-3pm

– L.

The Patricia Field Boutique

The term “Fashion Icon” can conjure up so many varied images, and nowhere is that more true than in New York City. New Yorkers have long had the privilege of having an array of unique style idols to look up to, and Patricia Field is an undisputed member of that class. Best known for dressing Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, she taught legions of style mavens to mix the high with the low, the hard with the soft, the masculine with the feminine. And it’s that keen eye and sense of whimsy that you can find on full tilt in the unique store that bears her name.

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It has relocated several times, but the current (and final) iteration of her boutique is located on the Bowery, which was also home to CBGB before it closed in 2006, another pioneer that contributed to the East Village’s distinct identity.  The space feels part art gallery, part costume shop, with the cool factor turned up on high.  It’s the kind of place where anything goes, and although I’ll admit my aesthetic is slightly more restrained nowadays, I can’t help but think the 15-year-old me would have KILLED for the bejeweled Barbie doll head necklace I saw there.

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It’s been announced the store will take its bow in early 2016, so make haste to this paragon of counterculture and take some bonafide Patricia Field memorabilia home with you.  Whether you want your own Carrie nameplate necklace straight from the source, or a purse shaped like a cartoon bomb with a Chanel-esque chain strap, there is surely something you can pick up to add extra oomph to your ensemble.  Sprinkle some of that Patricia Field magic on the next time you’re throwing an outfit together and you’ll find yourself pushing those personal style boundaries and taking yourself less seriously.  You know, dressing like a New Yorker.

Location:
306 Bowery (Between E Houston & Bleecker St)

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday 11:00 am-8:00 pm
Friday & Saturday 11:00 am-9:00 pm

Pair it with:

Brunch at Lafayette

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If visiting the Patricia Field Boutique makes you long for those Sex And The City days, take a 5-minute walk to Andrew Carmellini’s  Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery.  Gather your girlfriends and get dressed in your Sunday best, then wax nostalgic while you chow down on divine egg white frittatas and Nicoise salads, just like the girls would.  Or, pull a Miranda and head over to the bakery counter, pick out some eclairs and macarons, then head home and binge-watch Sex And The City on HBO Now.

Location:
380 Lafayette Street (at the corner of Great Jones Street)

Hours:
Weekend Brunch
Saturday & Sunday
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
For weekday or dinner hours, visit their website here.

– L.