Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Saturday, 27 November 2010

{NYC day II}

Day II in NYC, Nov 13, aka my birthday! I woke up, put on the starbucks coffee in the room, the phone rang--it was my sis in Toronto calling to wish me happy birthday & the day started off great! I had some presents and cards to open from my family and the phone rang another two times--I got to talk to my sister & niece in Ecuador and my parents on their boat on Vancouver Island (I missed a call from my sis in Mexico while we were travelling on the tube later that day). Ju & I quickly planned the day ahead--shopping, shopping...& more shopping (oh & plenty of eating in between).
Saturday morning in Brooklyn means the Brooklyn Flea! My idea of Heaven...great funky old things to peruse. The sun was shining, the temperature was spring-like (we had to take off our coats), making it ideal weather to play looky-loos.

The Brooklyn Flea is a delight for the eyes...tons of wonderfully old things. Like a lot of things in NYC it isn't particularly cheap. Yes, you can find some one-of-a-kind things & it isn't expensive, but since antiques are in abundance around where I currently live in upstate New York, and they are super cheap, I didn't actually buy anything...but it was super fun to look around... & my sister had a great time buying Christmas presents etc... Here are some pictures to provide you with a tantalising taste of all the fun stuff to peruse. (all photos of the Brooklyn Flee taken by moi)
{spotting deals through the chain link fence}

{funky old cameras--just love old cameras}

{some very cool old clothes--I found an absolutely fabulous dress I really really wanted to buy}

{the backdrop is a very cool old neo-classical building}

{as you can tell from this blog, I absolutely adore old typewriters....& I was in Heaven here. Sold by brady-kowalski}

{cool old bags & shoes to be bought}

{love these teacups & trunks}

{I'd like to start a collection of old bottles in different colours of glass, inspired by an apothecary}

The quirkiest & 'bring-me-back-to-my-childhood' stall was Dan's Parent's House. Full to the brim of cool old toys, and eager children hoping that mummy will by them the latest oldest gadget!
Ju had a fun time scouting out stocking stuffers for her kids, and I enjoyed listening to Dan equally enthusiastic with his younger customers as with the older ones...Reliving his youth (or did he ever leave it?) through the collectibles displayed on his tables, regaling passersby & customers alike with stories of the various objects he's selling with as much enthusiasm and excitement as a child on Christmas morning discovering new gifts under the tree, and loving to recount the story of the stall itself, “About 2 years ago, my wife and I bought the house that I grew up in. The house came with 30 years worth of stuff. After getting little help with cleaning things out and a need for studio space, the idea to start dAN's Parents House was born. We are selling 30 years worth of a collecting family's treasures.” oh & yet, there is so much more. He also has a keen interest in collecting keys. For a great blog on funky old keys see Baker Hill Homes.
{Pregnant Julia in front of the great toys at Dan's Parent's House}
CLASSIC SPECS had a great stall, with tons of funky glasses that you can order online for ridiculously cheap prices (like $80 including prescription lenses!) and super friendly customer service policies--like free shipping for returns if you decide that you don't like the glasses.

{Julia took this picture of me trying some funky pairs on}
After the Flea we were starving and I had really wanted to have a glass of wine & some oysters on my birthday at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. It had been recommended to me by my friend, Lissy and reaffirmed by my friend Tom...so off we went to Grand Central Station.

{Julie & me in front of the Oyster sign}
Well, the Oyster Bar is quite an experience...underground, and with a variety of different areas to dine. There is a very funky bar which looks like it is right out of the 60s, there are sit-down dining areas, lower bar-like areas, and even more bar areas...You kind of feel like you're going back in time...and you're completely underground.
{underground Oyster Bar}

{daily menu--note the date!}

{a variety of oysters, many from the area I grew up on the West Coast of Canada}

{Julia sitting at the funky bar}

{I ordered oysters from around NY state}

{me, my glass of wine, & my oysters-yum!}
Grand Central is beautiful in itself, just for a stroll through:

There was more shopping to be had, so we walked down Park Avenue & headed to ABC Carpet. Ju & I could've spent days in there...floor after floor of fantastic stuff for the home...and such a great place to wander for inspiration, ideas, etc.. etc..
They've got a cool bar (which we didn't stop at since we had just had wine & oysters) full of chandeliers:
{Julia stocking up on some great goodies}

{fantastic displays}

{more chandeliers in the store for sale}

{another restaurant inside--attached to the lovely chandelier-lit  bar (through the art deco doors)}

I found the store way over-priced but full of great ideas...You can see some more pics of our visit to ABC on Julia's blog (interior designer extraordinaire), Baker Hill Homes.
We wanted to make one more shopping stop before we had to leave the Big Apple. We ventured down towards the World Trade Centre Site, and entered into Century21 a big department store that has deals on designer labels. I got some lovely leather boots for half the price they should've cost...
By this time it was dark & the city that never sleeps was all lit up:

We ventured back to the hotel...put our feet up for a bit, & got ready for a dinner out in Dumbo. Dumbo is an area near the Brooklyn bridge, with funky brick buildings. We had dinner at Water Street...a low-key restaurant and lounge, and we chatted our hearts out, knowing it was our last night together.
That pretty much finishes it for our time in NYC together, since both of us left earliesh the next morning. Stay tuned though, since I still have some cool signage photos from around NYC.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

{NYC day I}

On our first day in NYC together, we woke up to a fine sunny day following one of the best sleeps on plush, super silky, super soft (yet still firm enough) beds. We had stayed up past 1 chatting & catching up as sisters do & since Julie was on a different time zone we started the morning off a little bit later than normal.
First things first, I had to get my shoes repaired. My beautiful powder blue shoes that look like something out of the 1940s, purchased in Leeds with my dear friend Sylvie, had lost their heel & I had not found a place to repair them. So we ventured to a nearby cobbler, and we were lucky to find a bagel stand nearby, that had some of the biggest, and most delicious bagels ever.
It was warm enough to eat outside, & whilst we bit into the bagels, we bit into plans for the day.
{Julia planning out the day's adventures}
We headed back to Soho to peruse the many shops we were unable to get into the night previously.
The area around Prince & Spring Streets is great--plenty of beautiful buildings housing beautiful shops, beautiful people, restaurants & cafes.

{beautiful facades on Brook Street}
 In Soho, we ventured into the delectable Dean & Deluca...It brought back memories of watching Felicity, since Keri Russel worked here in the show ...but it also reminded me of Meinhardt's, a store in South Granville in Vancouver, that I worked at during undergrad to pay tuition & bills. It's one of those stores that's highly over-priced but somehow you get suckered into paying 3 times the price for something just because the environment is so lovely & everything looks delicious.
{me, outside Dean & Deluca}

{yummy meats, yummy cheese, & love the animal head on the wall!}
We stopped for lunch at a great little pub, Brinkley's pub & kitchen--not a pub in the loud, football-tv-blaring, american sense--but a pub that brought back memories of London. A funky place where you can settle down for a yummy bite to eat, with nice ambiance, cool, chill & friendly staff, and have yourself a yummy beer.

{Brinkley's has a great selection of beers--I had a yummy apricot beer}
 They've also got a pretty funky decor--our table looked like something picked up at the Brooklyn Flea (more on that later), and there were funky mismatched chairs to boot. 

{my sister Julia--check out the cool framed images of dogs on the wall behind & the funky mis-matched furniture}
 I also love their logo:
{that's one dapper bear}
{sister #1}

{sister #5}
Details: Brinkley's Pub & Kitchen
406 Broome Street
New York NY 10003
We shopped around a bit more...and stumbled upon one of the eeriest yet most fantastic art displays at ISE Cultural Foundation. We were struck with Julie Ann Mann's window display, part of the show 'ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION: An Exploration into the Contemporary Art Genre of the Neo-Grotesque' curated by Samantha Levin and Danielle Ezzo. Having recently taught my undergrads on the macabre in Medieval culture, this darling little dollhouse that causes horror when one realises the little 'inhabitants' are bird skeletons, spoke to medieval preoccupations with death--sometimes fantastical, sometimes laughable, sometimes horrible.

{skeleton birdie taking a bath}

{skeleton birdie at home rocking in grandeur}
 We were invited to the opening, which would've been cool, but the day was getting on & the guy who was inviting was getting on my nerves with his constant repetition of "it's really amazing that a girl could do this. can you believe that a female artist did this?" I rebuffed him & we headed back home on the tube to get ready for the night. (check out my sister's excellent photos (& her blog on NYC) here)
We decided to do dinner in the Greenwich Village area. First stop was The Waverly Inn on 16 Bank Street. Surprise, surprise, we showed up with no reservations and couldn't get a seat. But I was happy to have had entered into this quaint little restaurant, (also something right out of London or anywhere in the UK really) and the temps were so warm, people were eating outside. You can read a review from ny mag of this fantastic little gem here.
{diners eating outside in the rather 'spring'-like autumn air at the Waverly Inn}
So we stumbled upon Corsino Cantina a great Italian restaurant. The wait was going to be longish so we sat at the bar whilst waiting for our table. We munched on some great crostini & sipped lovely vino...We found it hard to select one out of the great selection of crostini, but in the end we both chose brussell sprout & a lovely Italian cheese (I can't quite remember if it was a pecorino, an asiago, or a parmeggiano) but delicious nonetheless.
{me, at the bar, enjoying some vino}

{fresh meat is cut right at the bar, which reminded me of salt in Gastown, Vancouver}
Our table was called & we moved into the second course with eagerness--yummy pasta! We headed back home to our hotel and rested our weary heads & weary feet, chatting, once again past midnight and anticipating another day in NYC.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

{NYC introductions}

{a room with a view: the view from our hotel room at the Sheraton}
  Three fabulous nights, two fantastic days, & two (out of five) super close sisters in NYC--there's a lot of stories to tell, sights to see, shops to shop, neighbourhoods to explore, food to eat, drinks to sip, outfits to wear, and even more feasts for the eyes. Too many, in fact, to recount in one blog entry. So the next few blogs will be dedicated to the three evenings & two days that I spent last weekend, with my sister Julia in the city that never sleeps.
I arrived in NYC a week ago today, in the afternoon. I headed straight to our hotel where I was to meet my sister, after her day of exploring design showrooms. She got a little late--a crazy man on her subway made her miss her stop and since she was on an express train it took her some time to get back to the hotel. But these experiences are what make New York, New York. So there I was waiting in the hotel lobby checking email and in true Clark fashion, shrieks & shrills, hugs & tears announced the reunion of two very close sisters. Julia is in her second trimester & is looking fabulous. I was so excited to see her pregnant--I missed out on her pregnancy with her last child, Paulina, since I was living in London at the time.
So back to NYC.
We went back to the hotel room to prepare for a night out & to plan the next few days together.
That first night was probably the best--don't get me wrong--the others were fantastic too, but I think we were so excited to be together again & in NYC that we enjoyed it to the fullest.
We travelled into Soho to look for a place to eat. There are tons of great little places around Prince & Spring Street and we thoroughly enjoyed strolling past restaurants packed with beautiful people, & perusing mouth-watering menus. We had been recommended a number of places, including the funky-diner-like Café Habana.

{Café Habana}

Habana was absolutely packed though, so we opted for a new restaurant on the block, Oficina.

This panamerican bistro only opened up a few weeks ago (Oct 13) but it is already a hotspot. Oficina is run by two Italians, Paolo Votano and Francesco Sforza (funnily enough, the latter shares the same name as a famous Renaissance Duke of Milan who I studied & discussed in my PhD). The menu has a variety of latin american delights mostly tapa style (ranging from Mexican to Brazilian), which were pretty tasty, but the ambiance and decor are what's worth coming for. The space was apparently decorated with finds from the Brimfield Antique Show, & the result is both delicate and rough, all at once. In a word, it's pretty funky and my idea of a great eclectic mix.

{funky chairs line the bar. Photo from grubstreet}
{the bar at night: notice the cool use of trouble lights above the tables on the right}
Also pretty cool was the fact that they gave us the bill in a cigar box:

 It doesn't look like their websites up & running yet, but here are the details from their card:
Oficina Latina NYC
24 Prince Street,
p: 646.381.2555

We weren't ready to go home yet...we walked the streets, window-shopped...

{my gorgeous sister in front of a fashionable display at Prada}
  We came across the facade of a restaurant that looked so old-worldly that we just had to go in and have a drink.
{photo by H. J. Steed}
The main dining room has warn walls with old photos attached to peeling paint, but with the elegance of white table cloths, making you feel like you're in a little restaurant in Italy somewhere:

{photos from nymag}

But it was late, and the restaurant part was closed...but the maître d' lead us through curtains and into a completely different section of the restaurant, where there was a bar & some tables. Ju & I sat at the bar; I ordered a Venetian Spritz and the bartender made her a non-alcoholic concoction. We sat there, sipping our drinks, catching up on life and enjoying the chatter of the bar tender who had an extremely high opinion of himself. He took his work seriously, and I was happy he did, since my spritz brought me back to Venice--it was an accurate rendition of the famous Venetian drink. Men kept coming to the bar ordering a variety of different concoctions in Italian, 'un Caffè corretto' etc...and I felt like I was back in Italy.
The bar area, apparently, is a fairly new addition (by a few months), and was a bit more swanky than the rustic dining room, but still a great place to chill out & have a drink. The menu has a black & white sepia photo of an old Italian family from another era--apparently the owner is the baby boy the mother is carrying in the photograph.
Ballato's Restaurant
55 East Houston Street
New York, NY
p: 212.274.8881
We headed home after that & rested our weary heads for what lay ahead--a fantastic day exploring NYC. But that'll have to wait until the next blog...stay tuned!