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Archive for the ‘Only in New York’ Category

Dining out is always delightful and last Friday it was also DELICIOUS!  What a fantastic evening we had. To begin with we were the guests of our friends, Sandy and Rosemarie.  They have been regular customers at O YA in Boston, a restaurant that has garnered high praise for its excellence and accolades for the chef, Tim Cushman, who won the James Beard Best Chef in the Northeast award in 2012.  Frank Bruni  named O YA the #1 new restaurant in the United States in 2008 and that was just the beginning.  I could go on and on with a very long list of prestigious honors, but trust me it is long.  However, I want to mention that O YA in Boston earned the Top Food rating of 29 in Zagat Boston in 2011/2012 and Boston Magazine designated O YA as the #1 restaurant in Boston.

Nancy and Tim Cushman

                                            Nancy and Tim Cushman

Friday was one of the three nights of the soft opening and sneak peek of O YA New York.  We were treated like royalty (it helps to be the guests of VIP customers).  The tastings just kept coming and coming along with a bottomless glass of the finest Sake I’ve ever had!  Nancy Cushman, wife of Tim and co-owner of the restaurant personally served us the exquisite Nanbu Bijin “Shinpaku” Saké, Junmai Daiginjo, a dry and not so sweet Japanese delight.  I took this very accurate  description of this Sake from Southern Beauty, the Nanbu Bijin Sake Brewery: ” Made from 100% Yamadanishiki sake rice from Hyogo prefecture. Yamadanishiki is a very popular sake rice used in the production of especially aromatic Daiginjo sakes. This sake has beautiful aromas of fresh peach or strawberry with very mild rice aromas like soft marshmallows. Most of Yamadanishiki Daiginjo sake is pricey, but Nanbu Bijin Shinpaku is very reasonable. You can enjoy as an aperitif or also with main courses.”

Shinparka

                                                                Shinparka

One delicious delicacy after another was brought to the table, each one artfully presented as only the Japanese can do, and this team of sushi chefs does it exquisitely.  At one point I walked over to the Sushi Bar to observe the magic – I was referring to their expertise.

As in most cases, a picture is worth a thousand words…. I tried valiantly to scribble down the erudite description of each dish brought to us, as our extremely efficient and knowledgeable server described each menu item.  It proved more difficult than I thought;  It was noisy in the restaurant and the ever-flowing sake may have impaired my hearing just a bit.

Fried Kumamoto Oyster, Yuzu Kosho Aioli, Squid Ink Foam

                                  Fried Kumamoto Oyster, Yuzu Kosho Aioli, Squid Ink Foam

Warm Eel, Thai Basil, Kabayaki, Fresh Kyoto Sansho

                                Warm Eel, Thai Basil, Kabayaki, Fresh Kyoto Sansho

Kumamoto Oyster

                         Kumamoto Oyster Watermelon Pearls, Cucumber Mignonette

Kobe Beef

                                                              Japanese Weygu Beef

Avocado Tartare

                                                                  Avocado Tartare

Sea Trout Sushi

                                                                    Sea Trout Sushi

Raw Vegan Daikon Radish Dumplings

                                                 Raw Vegan Daikon Radish Dumplings

Fatty Tuna Sushi

                                                                      Fatty Tuna Sushi

Mosaic Edible Art Dessert

                                                       Edible Art Dessert

The crowning finish to our meal was a mosaic dessert which I believe to be a lemon-aloe granita with julienne dragon fruit, kiwi slice and small bits of Hakuto jelly (maybe!). It was true culinary art!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Sandy and Rosemarie for this wonderful dining experience!  We are so sorry we had to dash off to catch a train. Truly felt awful leaving you at the curb 😦

Sandy Levine

                                                     Sandy Levine

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I’m sorry I missed Manhattanhenge this year because I was out-of-town.  However, my loss is no reason for all of you not to hear about and see exactly what Manhattanhenge is.

The following article is credited to Neil deGrasse Tyson and was featured on the American Museum of Natural History’s website;

Sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. Copyright © 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan.
Copyright © 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.

For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.

For these two days, as the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon. My personal preference for photographs. But the day after also offers Manhattanhenge moments, but at sunset, you instead will find the entire ball of the Sun on the horizon.

Unnoticed by many, the sunset point actually creeps day to day along the horizon: northward until the first day of summer, then returning southward until the first day of winter. In spite of what pop-culture tells you, the Sun rises due east and sets due west only twice per year. On the equinoxes: the first day of spring and of autumn. Every other day, the Sun rises and sets elsewhere on the horizon. Had Manhattan’s grid been perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south line, then the days of Manhattanhenge would coincide with the equinoxes. But Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar.

Note that any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose. Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.

True, some municipalities have streets named for the Sun, like Sunrise Highway on Long Island and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. But these roads are not perfectly straight. And the few times a year when the Sun aligns with one of their stretches of road, all you get is stalled traffic solar glare temporarily blinds drivers.

So Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.

Note that several years ago, an article in the New York Times identified this annual event as the Manhattan Solstice. But of course, the word solstice translates from the Latin solstitium, meaning stopped sun, in reference to the winter and summer solstices where the Sun’s daily arc across the sky reaches its extreme southerly and northerly limits. Manhattanhenge comes about because the Sun’s arc has not yet reached these limits, and is on route to them, as we catch a brief glimpse of the setting Sun along the canyons of our narrow streets.

While we are on the subject, when viewed from all latitudes north of the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude), the Sun always rises at an angle up and to the right, and sets and an angle down and to the right. That’s how you can spot a faked sunrise in a movie: it moves up and to the left. Filmmakers are not typically awake in the morning hours to film an actual sunrise, so they film a sunset instead, and then time-reverse it, thinking nobody will notice.

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Of late, I’ve been blue or maybe gray is a better color description;  Not because I went to see Fifty Shades of Gray, but rather because there are so many things going on in my life.  Work has been troublesome and the immediate future in that arena doesn’t look very promising.  I seem to be in a time and place where if it can go wrong, it does AND it always costs $$$.

Then there’s the fact that it’s February and it’s been so cold here for so long that I can’t imagine we are actually going to have Spring next month.  The gray days of January and February are bad enough but when you live in The City, it can be downright depressing.  Imagine walking to walk when the wind is blowing and the temperature is in single digits.  Then imagine how it is to walk on sidewalks slick with frozen slush or cross streets where each corner is either a black pool or frozen lumps worn slippery by the hundreds of people walking on them.  OK, OK, enough already right?  NO! When the sun comes out and it does, the slick stuff melts and is black slush, something you would never ever walk in and the edges of the sidewalks are lined with piles of snow in Fifty Shades of Gray and Black and are embedded with trash.  This is NOT a criticism of the Sanitation Workers, because for 3 weeks alternate side parking rules have been suspended which means the streets have not been cleaned!

So now that I’ve painted the ugliest picture of NYC and haven’t begun to complain about the forced hot air heat that every apartment has, I will.   I hate the dry hot air which makes my hair fly around with electricity and my face crack, not to mention getting a bloody nose as all my nasal passages dry out.  Yuk that’s awful!! SORRY!

BUT THEN, there’s this…We left the apartment about 5:00 this evening and took the bus up to Fifth Avenue and walked over the Metropolitan Museum.  This IS a world treasure, there’s no doubt about it.  I take it way too much for granted and don’t visit the museum often enough.  We had in mind a few exhibits we wanted to see but of course walking through the museum on your way to one hall or another you are surrounded by art, sculpture, etchings, and artifacts from around the world!  Literally if you have never been to the MET, then you really can’t imagine  how big it is, how chock full of treasures it is and how accessible it is!  We marveled at Byzantine carvings, admired paintings by Jackson Pollack, Seurat, Pissaro, Van Gogh and more AND we hadn’t even gotten to the exhibits. 

We saw drawings and sketches by Paul Cezanne and the complete set of his portraits of Madame Cezanne.  Hortense Fiquet, (Madame Cezanne) was Cezanne’s favorite model, who he eventually married to legitimize his bastard son.  She posed for 29 portraits, never moving an inch and not talking since Paul Cezanne preferred his models to be silent.  This is the first time that the set of paintings known as Madame Cezanne in a Red Chair have ever been exhibited all together and in fact, they have never been together since they left Cezanne’s studio.  Then we were off to see the Caravaggio’s or at least that’s what we thought.  The exhibit was not exactly paintings done by him, it was more about the origin and evolution of musical instruments popular in the time of Caravaggio. However, we did get to view priceless Tintoretto’s and other Italian Renaissance painters.  The paintings were very religious and very beautiful.

We saved the best for last and headed to the American Wing where the fabulous mural, America Today painted by Thomas Hart Benton was displayed.  It’s a breath-taking,  wall-to-wall panorama of life in America in the 1920’s. The palette is rich in primary colors as befitting the strength of the muscled boxers, workers and the whole work itself.  Below is just one of the ten panels that make up this epic work.

AMERICA TODAY

AMERICA TODAY

But before we went into the room that housed these magnificent panels, we spent considerable time viewing his preliminary sketches, his models which were drawings and even small paintings of future sections of the mural-to-be.  There were practice sketches of hands in different poses, of complicated parts of machinery cobbled together and of many characters who would appear in the mural.  This is where I saw beautiful, sexy women just oozing femininity and each with the sparkle of life in the 20’s in their eyes.  They reminded me of my friend, the gorgeous Grace Gotham.  She exudes sensuality when she performs and was surely born in this era before her more recent incarnation.  Her burlesque performances are stellar with her as the shining star;  lithe, graceful and luscious, Grace could have been one of Benton’s models!  But don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself at http://www.gracegotham.com.   Meet Grace!

Grace Gotham

Grace Gotham

 

 

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SUNSHINE STATE

SUNSHINE STATE

I’m off to Florida today to spend a few days visiting my daughter and my three gorgeous grandchildren.  Yes I can say gorgeous because first of all they are and secondly, Grandmas can get away with that stuff.

Well timing couldn’t be better because the last couple of days in New York it’s been hard to live the pedestrian life.  Of course we have lots of public transportation but…realities of getting around these past few days has been more like this….

1.  Snow melted to slush and then froze on the sidewalks making the walk to work treacherous.

2. Standing in the biting wind while waiting for the cross town bus is not exhilarating!

3. Unless you want hat hair, you have to use an umbrella when it’s snowing.

4. Bundled up in layers to keep warm and wearing fleece-lined boots,  you arrive at your office and it’s over-heated.  Actually went barefoot for half a day there!

5.  The steam heat from my dishwasher froze and formed a film of ice on the inside of my kitchen window.

AND

6.  I would almost rather be chilly in my apartment than have to endure the DRY HOT AIR heat blowing in the room. 

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For years I’ve been telling my son, who is an actor and lives in Los Angeles to come EAST!  I truly believe he would have more opportunities right here in Manhattan.  Theater roles abound and as we all know most of the truly GREAT actors come back to Broadway periodically to hone their skills.  When you act in a play, you must embody the role and stay in character for hours at a time!  When you act in a movie, you do scenes totally unrelated to the sequence of events and you are afforded the opportunity to do it over and over again until you get it right.

Now that I’ve put my unbiased opinion out there, I thought I’d back it up (sort of) with some 2014 New York City celebrity real estate facts.  The following information was gleaned from an article in Curbed:

Below are a few of the celebrities involved in real estate transaction in 2014.  I’ve listed just 12 but there are more; Perhaps tomorrow…

Manhattanites

Manhattanites

1. ROBERT DE NIRO – $125,000/MONTH Robert De Niro may be short, but he plays big when it comes to real estate. In September the actor rented the most expensive apartment (steel magnate Leroy Schecter’s 35th-floor combo) in the city’s most expensive building, 15 Central Park West. Part of the combo was formerly rented by disgraced baseball star Alexander Rodriguez. De Niro’s rent? Oh, $125,000/month.

2. TOM BRADY/GISELE BUNDCHEN – $40,000/MONTH Obscenely gorgeous couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen want to rent out their New York City pied-a-terre. Of course, the full-floor three-bedroom is located on the 47th floor of a previously scandal-plagued skyscraper on Madison Square Park, cost $14 million when they bought it, and can be leased for $40,000 per month (plus an extra $2,500 for furniture picked out by a star quarterback and a supermodel).

3. JANET JACKSON – $35,000/MONTH Janet Jackson’s ornate three-bedroom, 3.5 bathroom spread on the 34th floor of Columbus Circle’s Trump International tower came up for lease in early February, asking $35,000/month. It rented three days later.

4. KIRSTEN DUNST – $12,500/MONTH The star of Spider-Man put her lovely, fully furnished two-bedroom penthouse on the Tribeca/Hudson Square border on the rental market in September, asking $12,500/month. Yeah, someone snatched that up.

5. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN – $10,500/MONTH The West Village two-bedroom apartment formerly occupied by the late great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically died at home earlier this year in a drug-related incident, entered the rental market in March asking $10,500/month. It leased one day later.

6. LAUREN BACALL – $26M Beautiful starlet Lauren Bacall passed away this year at the age of 89, and subsequently, her nine-room, Central Park-facing apartment at the Dakota entered the real estate market for the first time in decades. Bacall bought it back in 1961 for a couple of tens of thousands of dollars (reports vary from between $28,000 and $48,000), and it’s now asking $26,000,000.

7. SPIKE LEE – $24.5M This year, anti-gentrification pundit Spike Lee officially put his incredibly historic Upper East Side townhouse on the market. He bought the 8,292-square-foot home from Jasper Johns (yes, that one) in 1998 for $16.6 million. In January, he wanted $32 million. In April, the price came down to $28.5M, and we got another look inside via different photos. In June, the ask dropped even further, to $24.5M. Maybe history and celebrity don’t help when the house is this pricey?

8. JENNIFER LOPEZ – $20.2M Though the deed doesn’t have the name to prove it, but an LLC intead, the buyer of The Whitman’s absolutely bonkers penthouse facing Madison Square Park (personal putting green included) is reportedly Jenny From The Block herself. At The Whitman, which only has four apartments but a lot of star power, Lopez would live above Chelsea Clinton and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. The price? $20,161,350.

9. TAYLOR SWIFT – $20M And the biggest sale of the year goes to the queen of the pop music scene, Ms. Taylor Swift. She dropped $20 million on Lord of the Ring’s director Peter Jackson’s 8,300-square-foot Tribeca penthouse, which came with 6,000 square feet of outdoor space. The heavily beamed space aside, it apparently “sounds like it was decorated like a serial killer.” For one thing, she has personalized candles that say “Taybeca” inside of Tribeca. Tay-Tay, welcome to New York.

10. SARAH JESSICA PARKER/MATTHEW BRODERICK – $20M Celebrity real estate power couple Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick cut the asking price of their Greenwich Village townhouse… all the way down to $19.95 million. The 25-foot-wide, seven-fireplace home, which the couple renovated but apparently never lived in, was asking as much as $25 million at one point, but it’s now veering dangerously close to the $19 million they paid in 2011.

11. DEEPAK CHOPRA – $14.5M Joining Leonardo DiCaprio at the health-obsessed Delos building in the Village is holistic health and New Age guru Deepak Chopra, who spent $14.5 million for a 3,663-square-foot 3BR/2.5BA home.

12. BRUCE WILLIS – $13M Back at the Upper West Side celebrity magnet, the El Dorado, action star Bruce Willis put his three-bedroom on the market for $13 million—and found a buyer in less than a week. Willis and his model wife bought the place less than two years ago for $8.695M from U2 bassist Adam Clayton, but they’ve apparently given it a renovation since then. More photos? Over here.

New Yorkers are notoriously blasé about celebrity sightings and even more disinterested in where they live.  Additionally most real estate brokerage firms agree not to disclose where their celebrity clients purchased or rented; That’s why this information primarily deals with the properties sold and rented.

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Every year I make some time to stroll along Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue and gaze (read gawk) and admire the beautiful holiday window displays in The City’s famous department stores.  This is a real annual Christmas tradition in the Big Apple.  Velvet ropes guide the long lines past the amazing, creative dioramas and mechanical scenes.  The competition for the BEST display windows is always intense, but during Christmas time, it’s fierce.  The themes are varied;  Some stores like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor  often gear their windows to appeal to children.  Bloomingdales and Saks seem to blend child-like appeal with current events and yet add enough sophistication to charm adults.  When you get to Bergdorf Goodman’s, be prepared to be dazzled!  The tall windows of Bergdorf’s are usually spectacular, over the top and definitely designed for their clientele.  That goes for Tiffany’s also – this year their windows are literally dazzling – think diamonds!

While many of my readers live in the Tri-State area and many make the seasonal trek to the big City to shop, look at The Tree and ice skaters in Rockefeller Center and take in the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, and check out the windows, many of you cannot.   So if you can’t come to the Windows, the windows will come to you.   Check out this short video featuring just a few of the  splendorific holiday displays.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/21/new-york-city-holiday-windows/19356105/

Saks Fifth Avenue is bringing fairy tale princesses to life with the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair

Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair

Lord & Taylor is featuring  an enchanted mansion replete with fairies and butterflies.

Enchanted Christmas

Enchanted Christmas

Bloomingdales  wasn’t in that video, so here’s a peek at their artful design. If you log onto their mobile site, using your smartphone you can play interactive games with the window display and win prizes!

Bloomingdales - You Can Play Too!

Bloomingdales – You Can Play Too!

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Well, did you?  I’ll bet you did IF you weren’t the one making Thanksgiving dinner.  And if you have kids…parking everyone in front of the TV for a couple of hours, gives you the time you need to prep and set the table and catch a few floats.   I’ve watched the Macy’s parade for decades; (oooh that makes me old), as a kid, as a young adult, as a parent with my kids and I took each of them to the Parade at some point when they were growing up.  Born in New York City in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is not just a New York tradition, it is watched by millions all over the country.  It even plays an important role in one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies, It’s A Wonderful Life.

Curbed NY ran a feature about the years of Macy’s parades and I would like to share some of the photos with you.  All of the photos in this blog post were taken from Curbed NY.

Macy's Christmas Parade

Macy’s Christmas Parade

1924: Macy’s Christmas Parade

Bye Bye Dachshund

Bye Bye Dachshund

1929: A dachshund balloon was released after the parade

Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor

1934: Balloon in the likeness of Eddie Cantor

BALL_05

Mickey Mouse

1934: Mickey Mouse is the first balloon created with Walt Disney

Santa

Santa

1940: Santa rounds the corner

The Macy's E;f

The Macy’s Elf

1947: The Macy’s Elf

Harold the Firman

Harold the Fireman

1948: Harold the Fireman

Bull winkle

Bullwinkle

1961: Bullwinkle makes an appearance and is captured in color.

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman!

1966: Old World Superman

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann

1984: Raggedy Ann

Hello Spidey

Hello Spidey

1991: Spiderman makes his first apperance

Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog

2002: Kermit is greener than ever!

 

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