Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's up to me, Part D-I-NY:
New York

I'd been putting this post off because after Aaron and I got back from New York so many people were asking us about New York that I didn't want to recap New York any more, much less write about New York (though I’m happy our friends and family are interested in the things I'm/we're up to). But I was looking through some of our travel photos yesterday and thought it would be nice to write about it now. See if you can infer the relationship between Renée Fleming singing with muppets and (what will be) this series of New York posts.


One thing I did before we even boarded the plane, and which I plan to do for every major trip we take from now on, was look up and purchase tickets for local events or shows. While I’d never thought to do that before, I really can't emphasise enough how satisfying it was to step off the plane and arrive at our hotel knowing our trip already had some structure – that we had something to do. Yes, you might say, "What?! It's New York! There are a bajillion things to do!" And you would be right. But at the same time, for me, arriving in any new city at all tends to bring on a wide-eyed, lost and confused feeling just like I get at Home Depot when I stop in quickly to get something specific, and immediately forget what I wanted upon entering the building because there's just so much damn stuff in there (somewhat similar to the feeling I get at the grocery store, when I run in to get the 3 things I knew I needed when I was at home and can no longer remember once I'm standing at the door). We were due to arrive in New York for Thursday, April 2nd at 11am, so I booked tickets to the double-bill Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci at the Metropolitan Opera for 8pm later that day, and then the Broadway musical South Pacific for the following Tuesday before we were to return home (or so I thought) the next Thursday.

Above is an arrangement of manzanita branches in a “boxer planter” by Westplant Green Facility. I think it was part of a green design display in Toronto’s Pearson airport. I use a camera as a visual notebook, so it tends to get filled up with pictures of random things that appeal to me for some reason or another. I think at the time I took this picture, I'd been considering using manzanita branches for a wedding I was doing.

I’d laid out all the places we wanted to visit in Google Maps to see where the best area for a hotel would be, and decided on the Hotel Deauville off Lexington, in Murray Hill. (Check out the reviews on Trip Advisor here.) The rooms were tiny and sometimes I’d catch a funny smell coming from the bathroom, but it was cheap and otherwise clean and very close to everything we knew we wanted to see and do. If we ever went to New York again, I’d probably stay there.

I want to say we hit the town right after dropping off our luggage at the hotel, but I’d be lying. We’d taken the near red-eye, with a two-hour layover in Toronto, so our heads were on the pillows once our bags hit the floor. Waking up just in time for dinner, we wandered around Gramercy looking for sustenance and ABC Carpet & Home (a New York must if you work in interiors and design) – it was too late to peruse the aisles or whatever-the-hey they had there, but at least we’d know where it was and could come back again later.

These are some of the window displays in ABC Carpet & Home, including displays for their Gary Graham in-store boutique (click News & Events on his page to see more pictures and read an article on the boutique).

I loved the ball-and claw foot mannequin so much, I bought similar legs on eBay and am making a mannequin of my own, except with a taxidermy pike head (similar to this one) and an Elizabethan ruff.

We didn’t have much time to look around that day, but we ended up returning three or four times over our seven days in New York to fully explore the six-floor, two-building, Chintz-on-steroids home extravaganza that is ABC. (Susan, the GM for Edmonton’s Chintz & Co., told me Chintz was modeled on ABC before Aaron and I left to come to New York, and I could see the resemblance. It's interesting to me that even a store like Chintz & Co., with four locations across western Canada has a role model.) At first, we didn’t realise how big the store was because we couldn’t find any elevators or escalators, just a mezzanine and a basement level, but we figured it out on subsequent visits.

I took a couple photos of antique zinc-topped tables from France, thinking I might make one out of the nasty faux-granite spray-painted round table (it came with the house) in our kitchen. I’d been thinking about how to attach sheet metal to a tabletop and keep it looking tidy, but seeing these tables being sold in an expensive retail store with the zinc just nailed down has given me the impetus to throw caution to the wind. I’ll likely use galvanized steel instead of zinc. It’s more readily available here. (I wonder why zinc is used so much for tabletops and counters in France, anyway…)

There was a bakery, Le Pain Quotidien (translation: Daily Bread), next door to ABC so Aaron and I sat down to have dinner. I regret not taking more pictures of its interior because it was so simply, yet elegantly, decorated – raw wood floors, rough brick or plaster walls, simple steel pendant lights, and minimal decoration (i.e. art or sculpture) save for a grouping of rusty tractor seats. Most of the seating was communal, with everyone at long, unfinished wood, harvest-style tables. The bread itself was the feature, beautifully presented behind a long counter, in baskets and on wooden racks. Even the drink menu was held in place on the table in a slot cut into a dry hunk of bread! Very nicely done.

Aaron had a smoked chicken and mozzarella sandwish and mint lemonade, and I had a grilled chicken cobb salad and apple juice. I’d never had a cobb salad until this trip, but I think it’s my new favourite salad. (Click here for a recipe (or 8).)

Here is Aaron talking to Visa about the problems we continue to have with our credit cards while travelling.

Isn’t he handsome in his tweed jacket? He got it in an Irish clothing shoppe in Niagara-on-the-Lake when we went to Toronto to visit the lovelies Erin, Daniel and Emily.

Ahh. Pleasantly sated, we were now ready to tackle all that New York had to offer.

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