"There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere . . . "
- Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Good Enough to Eat is another one of my favorite little brunch nooks in the city. You have to stand in line for a while, but the turnover is deceptively quick and the food and atmosphere validate the wait every time. If you can haul your butt out of bed and get there by 10:15am, you're practically guaranteed a seat when the doors open at 10:30am. But good luck with the hauling if you've been bar-hopping the night before.
I've always wanted to try dinner in the cozy, fenced restaurant, but, again, breakfast beckoned. I dug into a daily special of Turkey Chili with Grilled Biscuits and Strawberry Butter (good biscuits, too, and I know my biscuits), Ben had his usual dish of Peter Paul Pancakes, Ruthie tried a BLT Omelet and Bob decided to go for broke and blow the cholesterol bank with Bacon Waffles. You really can't go wrong, but I'd say their Turkey Sausage is the best in the city, if you like that sort of thing.
Overstuffed and pressed for time to get in as much excitement as possible before Ruthie and Bob had to zip to the airport, we cruised down the Upper West Side and over to Rockefeller Center, where we shot up to the Top of the Rock for foggy city views.
I've visited the Empire State Building with a revolving selection of visitors and I do think that the Rock is a better vantage point. It's nice for out-of-towners to see the Empire State Building on the horizon (of course, I see it every day out my office window, when the fog isn't too aggressive) and the three-tiered viewing area is far more spacious. The guards were downright fun and pointed out all kinds of neat things you'd never have noticed in the sprawl below.
Even better ~ we didn't have to wait in line a single minute.
The rain threatened while we paced the sky, but never fell (okay, it's falling now as I write this, while I'm all cozy indoors where it doesn't matter.)
Ben and I pointed out famous and personal landmarks, running from one side of the building to the other, looking into the clutter of steel to locate familiar spots.
The last time Ruthie and Bob visited New York was in the '80's, back when you had to swerve around herds of aggressive hookers and squint through a layer of graffiti to see the subway map. They seemed delighted with our clean and improved version of the city.
With just enough time left for a last cocktail, we relaxed at one of the better people-watching restaurants in the city, Maison. We again scored a prime table, just inside the glassed terrace, and toasted our adventures with farewell martinis.
Bye, Bob and Ruthie! We hope we showed you some fun times. Come back and visit us again soon!
The Tulip Cardigan by Lindsay Pekney, knit with Dream in Color yarns (colorways unknown but flavorful) screams SPRING with every bite. The flowers look pretty tasty too.
I had to have this little kit shipped in from somewhere in Canada, but, can I say, totally worth it. This sweater will warm Amanda's little one when she arrives (and with this crazy weather, she might really need it). I "gave" it to Amanda already, but had to un-give it long enough to fight with some dangling ends and other pesky details. Come on, like you haven't done that.
But it's totally ready now, I promise.
I think a lot of yarn would work well as a substitute for the Dream in Color. Just grab some wool and think in rainbows.
The pattern is pretty easy, if you can count to eight with one side of your brain, and to ten with the other. I, apparently, cannot, which is perhaps why I had to re-knit the moss stitch front facings four times to get them to look anything approaching normal and congruent. The first attempt puckered the left side at four inches and stretched the right side to eight. Don't even ask how I managed that.
Knitting the attached I-cord drags, but luckily babies aren't too big around, so it only drags for a little while. I recommend popping a cork before settling in for those finishing touches. It's only I-cord, after all. What could possibly go wrong? I mean, I only had to re-knit that part twice.
That bits that looks like colorwork? They are not. It's magic. And it's totally easy.
Can I hear a round of applause for my patient little model?
I know she loves me ~ otherwise she'd have gnawed off my ears while I slept last night.
There's was fun to be had with Ruthie and Bob in town. We crawled our way across Manhattan Friday night, beginning with happy hour cocktails at Zarella's, where the margaritas are much stronger than you think. This little cantina gets extra busy at normal happy hour times, so we slipped in closer to 3:30pm for seats at the bar. Try the Heradura margarita with the Chilaquiles. We discussed our recent vacations, then chatted up a peyote-loving patron who settled in with us to share our tortilla chips. Ben joined us late, but we saved a wee drink for him.
Later we found ourselves basking in late afternoon sunlight at Dos Caminos, tucked under a heat lamp on the outdoor patio tasting flights of tequila while munching some of the yummiest guacamole in the city. Their shrimp quesadillas will knock your sandals off.
For a change of pace, we wandered into the Piano Due Palio Bar and let the quirky old bartender have his way with us. While I sipped a delicious Cosmo, Ruthie enjoyed a Tequila Margarita, Ben tasted the red wine and Bob sampled white. The Raviolo D'Imola is unbeatable and pairs well with a starter of Spiedino Con Salmone.
Soon we needed more substantial fortification. Chanpen on restaurant row provided a Thai feast. Their spicy noodles are excellent paired with a Singha or two. I love a place with an appetizer sampler. Try everything.
Believe it or not, we still had energy left to stumble over to Don't Tell Mama's for Amsel Light, bourbon and a few hours of rowdy sing-alongs. The four of us discovered that our questionable musical tastes align perfectly with each other. Give us hours of Billy Joel, Elton John, Jimmy Buffet and some Beatles tunes and we'll sit there drinking all night.
On Saturday morning, we dragged our somewhat hungover selves on a trek up 5th Avenue to visit the Apple Store before circling back to meet Amy at Norma's for breakfast.
Not all the food photos turned out, but I can show you Ben's Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffle:
Amy's Artichoke Eggs Benedict with Porchini Truffle Sauce:
...and the uncontested favorite, Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster. My dish, of course.
The wait is too long, calories are everywhere, the food is too expensive and they give you far too much of it, but one taste and you'll realize the place is every bit worth it all. Norma's can't be beat. Splurge. Take yourself to brunch. Mind the coffee ~ it's on the gritty side. Which everyone except me seems to like.
We meandered the park, over the Great Lawn and past Cleopatra's Needle (the Roman crab-claw base is exceptionally weird). I've few photos to share because my camera batteries gave up on me after I took a picture of the pink trees.
Because the subways were totally fubar, we hopped a bus to Grand Central so Ruthie and Bob could oooh and ahhh at the ceilings, meander in the market, then visit Campbell Apartment. But the visiting Campbell Apartment part didn't work out so well because a private party took over the bar, so after we oooh'ed ourselves out in the Main Terminal, we visited Bookmark's at the Library Hotel instead and sipped fancy drinks on the rooftop patio. We ordered the Tequila Mockingbird, Gin and the Giant Peach, The Hemingway and a Strawberry Vanilla Cocktail (boring ~ why didn't my drink get a cheesy name?) We all agreed that Bob's Gin and the Giant Peach won the taste test.
We walked off the cocktails then took a rest before heading out to John's for the Best. Pizza. Ever. And a nice Chianti. At each stop on both nights, we always seemed to find ourselves seated at the best tables. I love a run of restaurant luck.
From there we embarked on an unsatisfying tour of Celtic music, from the Mean Fiddler to St. Andrews. Unfortunately, New York appears to have a dearth of Celtic bands (but at least they have plenty of beer). We bounced through at least half a dozen Pubs and heard some fine melancholy fiddling, but really didn't find what we were looking for. Anyone know where to catch a chorus of Seven Drunken Nights this side of Istanbul?
Does anyone know if Alan Rickman fancies a nice cassoulet?
During the first week of May, Minetta Tavern, once a speakeasy, later, a gathering place for artists, writers and musicians in the 50's and 60's, a Greenwich Village landmark since 1937 and the most common spot to trip over Alan Rickman whe is is state-side, will temporarily close for renovation, to be reincarnated several months later as French bistro.
It looks like we're trading our gnocci for moules frites at double the price.
The news was obscurely buried in the New York Times article on French cuisine in New York:
Mr. McNally, who dabbled with Italy at Morandi last year, will return to France this fall with a classic French bistro menu in Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village.
By October it will be turned into a French bistro, after a little cosmetic work on the 1937 interior and a kitchen overhaul.
But our waiter, the same waiter who has served us at every visit to Minetta over the years, the one who knows I'll request Chianti with the pasta special and shakes his head ruefully every time Ben orders Cabernet with Ravioli Minetta, he revealed the tragic details to us last night while we nibbled our calamari.
(The actual calamari photo turned out weird, so you get the Ravioli special instead.)
Our waiter's plans are to take a month or so of vacation; the new owners have promised the staff employment at one of their other restaurants while Minetta is closed, then they will presumably have the opportunity to return to work at the Tavern, in whatever form it may take.
Apparently a rent hike from around $9K a month to nearly $20K a month drove the owner to sell. This probably didn't help.
During the summer months, Ben and I would sometimes visit weekly. Our patronage fell to closer to once a month when temperatures crept lower. We've visited Minetta with family and friends and somewhere during those years evolved into "regulars."
We believe they will kept the murals, or at least some of them, but the photo history lining the wall, the pics of those who have visited over the years, they will surely go.
Also to go will be the best spicy marinara I've ever tasted, fruti de bosco so light it practically flies off of your plate, paper-thin chicken mesclun and, most importantly, gone will be a restaurant will cook to order just about any Italian dish you want.
Last night we took Ben's aunt and uncle, who are visiting from out of town, to Minetta, for what will probably be our last experience at the restaurant. We're so glad they could see and taste this special place before the changes come.
The dining room was packed and people huddled at the bar, waiting to be seated. We lingered over our pastas and were some of the last to leave, well after midnight.
Flex that clicker-finger ~ you've got to see this site. Get your knitting-selves over to the new on-line knitting magazine Popknits.
This site is a breath of fresh air newly launched by my Spider buddy Steph. Get over and set your bookmarks so you'll be ready for the first pattern releases this fall.
Here's some of what Steph has to say about Popknits' formation:
i've been looking longingly at the vintage vogue knitting magazines i've had lying around for years now. so many ideas have been swirling through my mind on how to update some of the styles i see in them that i just couldn't get them out. then with the popularity of nancy bush, elizabeth zimmerman, and the amazing thrift store finds (cool and fun pattern books and magazines) i've been seeing on other blogs, an idea started to brew. sarah pope pushed me in the right direction and i found focus.
Popknits is currently accepting design submissions for the premiere release, so grab your charts and sketches and get over there. I don't know if anything I design is at all vintage-y, but I love that stuff, so I'm sure going to give it a go!
No more turkey burgers before bed. Another night of dreams...
I knew the body lay inside the rock. My ice pick chiseled slowly toward it, and with each swing the tool felt heavier in my hands. My shoulders were tired. But this was my job ~ inching through the marbled granite to reach the body inside. I knew that if I chiseled incorrectly, if I hit that cold, dead body beneath me, blood would spill.
Our island was in the path of the storm. The ceiling beams crackled as though on fire, but I knew that was ice. I also knew that if the others discovered who I was, I would be torn apart ~ no silent interment in stone for me. The tearing-apart machine stood in the corner It hadn't been used in years, but I figured it still worked, if someone wiped off the patina of dust and grime. It was the size of a bulldozer.
Only a dozen other people remained in rickety warehouse. Although the fat man laughed a lot, I was terrified of him, for I knew he was the one who would eventually kill me. I hid whenever he approached, crouching down in my puddle of rock pellets, hunching over the trapped body. The fat man's feet made squishing noises when he moved, as though he was trudging though mud with each step. He had no eyes. I feared he might smell me.
I wasn't sure why Steve Martin stopped to talk to me, but he made me smile on days like this one, when I drew so close to uncovering the bodies with my little ice pick. Those were the most difficult times for me, and he knew I appreciated his visits. No one else ever stopped to chat, to interrupt the tedium. I like his white tuxedo.
A bell rang from the windswept garden and I turned and walked to the kitchen, leaving my pick with the body. We were opening the restaurant that evening. I knew that we were supposed to clear our operations with the mafia, but I really wasn't sure how to do that. I figured they would show up eventually for their cut. I had to make the meatballs, but I couldn't find my hat. I knew that without my hat, the meatballs wouldn't taste nearly as good.
The floor, tables and chairs were all made of splintery wood. Styrofoam peanuts had scattered everywhere and I rushed to get them collected before our guests arrived. They bounced around, floating in the sea breeze that wafted through the windows high overhead. Some landed in the meatball mix and I had to pick them out and scrape the raw meat from their puckered white surfaces.
I hoped none of the guests would die that night. It would mean more work with the chisel the next day to free them from the stone.
I should not be knitting this sock, never mind that it is the perfect incarnation of Spring and never mind that I hear its stockinette siren-song beckoning me to grasp those slender needles even at this very moment.
I should be paying attention to these far more important things:
Company (Ben's aunt and uncle ~ the really fun ones) arrives on Thursday. They are totally cool and easy-going, but I am not, which means I have to clean up all of my fiber corners (the yarn tends to migrate to the dark and dusty nooks, it seems), stash those piles of clean clothes out of sight, figure out how to hang the new shower curtain and basically morph into the clean and organized person I like people to think I am (but that I'm really not).
I have a Micro presentation on Thursday as well ~ one of those where I actually have to stand in front of the class with a PowerPoint presentation and a clicker, and jabber knowingly ~ about Carbon Trading. Which is fascinating. But I'm not sure where to start explaining. I have 2 minutes and it is 10% of my grade.
I should be knitting on a certain project that I can't show you. It's lying there on the sofa arm, staring at me. I am such a terrible person that I can sit here and knit this sock and not even feel guilty. Yet. This is embarrassing ~ I am even procrastinating my procrastination project.
I know, try to contain your excitement (especially you hairy-leg fetish people out there). In a rapid bout of continued procrastination, I completed a pair of socks for Ben, all plain and boring, just like he likes them.
The yarn is Tofutsi in a black and white wrap. I can't say I was terribly impressed with the stuff. First it took me a while to get over the gross-out factor of knitting with crab shells. I kept imagining something smelled off. And my fingers never did take to the feel of the yarn. I hope washing does something for it. Then, of course, I had to deal with the world's most boring non-color choice.
The non-pattern consisted of a figure-8 cast-on, knit the foot, short row heel, knit for a while then do some twisted ribbing until you think statistics might be preferable.