Today we head to New York (the great experiment continues). Seedlings on pause, Sahadi’s awaits. My what a world this is, this morning it was all fresh daffodils and birdsong, tomorrow we’ll wake up with the mists swirling over the river and the Manhattan Bridge lifting up her skirts to keep them dry. Or, depending on how the city summer’s swinging, these swirling misty platforms may have already burnt off by 8am. You never know until you’re in the thick of it. But this, I love. From Meags:
Manhattan Dawn (1945)
There is a smoke of memory
That curls about these chimneys
And then uncurls; that lifts,
Diaphanous, from sleep
To lead us down some alleyway
Still vaguely riverward;
And so at length disperses
Into the wisps and tatters
That garland fire escapes.
—And we have found ourselves again
Watching, beside a misty platform,
The first trucks idling to unload
(New England’s frost still
Unstippling down their sides).
To catch blue truant eyes upon us
Through steam that rose up suddenly from a grate . . .
And the grin slid off across the storefronts.
Dawn always seemed to overtake us, though,
Down Hudson somewhere, or Horatio.
—And we have seen it bend
The long stripes of the awnings down
Toward gutters where discarded flowers
Lay washing in the night’s small rain—
Hints, glimmerings of a world
And office towers
Coast among lost stars.
This weekend we hosted what we are certain is the first Passover Seder Dinner in our dear old house’s 100 year tenure. Sweetheart rode the rails south from New York, where his family loaded him with extra haggadahs (the text of passover, published by Maxwell House), a matzo cover, and this seder plate. For those of you who might not know (as I did not until arriving at Sweetheart’s Aunt Sheila’s Upper East Side aerie for the first time a few years ago with a bottle of the nicest kosher wine I could find), the Seder dinner is the retelling of the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, the bondage, the plagues, the passover, the parting of the seas, the wheels of fire. Anyone wanting to learn more could do copious research OR just watch “The 10 Commandments” with Charlton Heston. As Sweetheart says, it’s a great story, one worth telling and re-telling around a table of loved ones, to discuss and to share together and lift glasses and drink wine and remember. This year we had we had 15 people around our long table, with a few extensions, a pink depression Marie Antoinette glass by the woodstove for Elijah, friends from all over, traveling Jews en route to LA and Jerusalem, both, we had a babe in arms, and someone younger than Sweetheart to look for the afikomen (though she still hasn’t found it in the freezer where I hid it) and have the capacity to inquire, and our dear friend the carpenter whose Jewish mother re-married a strict catholic when he was very young so had always wished for the traditions, this was his first seder too. We dipped and read and discoursed and Sweetheart led it like a true patriarch. And the food. Oh my, the food. I made matzo balls, Sweetheart made brisket, and, as it must be said, the wonderful Miss Ravenel made Gefilte Fish, from scratch. What the what? I hardly took any pictures because it was one of those big lovely dinners that travels of its own accord and doesn’t slow down just to be chronicled, but here’s a good one. With love, next year in Jerusalem, this year at Fennario.
Everyone knows about New York’s neighborhoods. You emerge out of the train in Sunset Park or SoHo or Chinatown or the Upper West Side or the very edge of the East Village and somehow even the air feels different. It’s something that is uniquely New York, a distinct feeling, palpable, from the architecture to the contents of the bodegas… But, there’s a funny thing about New York, which is that within the oft-discussed boundaries of each neighborhood, every single solitary New Yorker has built their own world. A constellation of grocers, wine stores, dive bars, pizza places, cheap chinese joints, laundromats, and coffee spots that is ever-shifting and truly personal, a perfect alchemy of your cross streets and your heartstrings. You are fiercely loyal to your go-to spots… until they’re a block or two out of the way. We moved a mere eight blocks from our old spot, hop-skipping due east, across TWO actual, proven neighborhood boundaries, right into Bedford-Stuyvesant. Eight blocks is not a lot, but with that slight geographical maneuver came a great shift. A brave new world. Just eight blocks up Fulton street is the difference between Provisions’ grass fed beef from local New York farms and a man loading a freshly skinned halal goat from the back of a truck into a shopping cart (I would like to eat both of those, please). I spent a few days just walking around, eating tiny warm pastries from the bakery up the block, falling in love with the strange pizza-making Frenchmen listening to Nina Simone AND the soccer on the tube both at top decibels, triangulating trains, testing the air, exploring… I’ve had a few excellent adventures already, and can’t wait to share them with you. Soon.
Brooklyn map from Ork– we’ve had this hanging in our kitchen for years now, and I actually use it almost daily as a reference map.
Oh Adventure! Last weekend we got a wild hair, piled into Francine (Miss Jocie’s mobile… all good cars have names), and made our adventurers way to Storm King Art Center. Five women strong, scarves, leathers, the flush of possibility, (and we picked up Mike, king of beers and collars, on the side of the road), a wrecking crew to make our way. Just an hour north of the city, Storm King is an outdoor sculpture park situated on 500 acres of impeccably swooping jealous-Olmstead wild-meets-barely-tamed earth, dotted with monolithic sculptures. In a word, it is awesome. This time it also happened to be peak leaf season, PEEPINGPEAKING, and everything was suffused with the kind of beauty that you can’t stop talking about, the sheer hush and truth of where you are, who you’re with, how the air feels, how the golden-hour light looks, and the how-if-everything-hadn’t-happened-just-so we wouldn’t be here, but it DID so REVEL IN IT makes you utterly, totally full-hearted and giddy. Storm King is open through November, so get thee there, this weekend, do it. And after you do, order six pulled pork sandwiches and a parcel of tallboys, to go, from Barnstormer’s BBQ. At least that’s what we did. Here, some of the beauty:
After glimpsing them in New York harbor during fleet week, and seeing them streaming sails across the mouth of the Chesapeake, Daddy and I cruised down to Harborfest to see the stunning tall ships in all their furled glory. I told you I love ships. Gilded figureheads in the golden hour, fireworks amidst the riggings at sundown, all the ships in the harbor sounding their horns at once, a rude and glorious symphony—as from Whitman:
Chant on, sail on, bear o’er the boundless blue from me to every sea,
This song for mariners and all their ships.
ps. and a very happy birthday to Sweetheart… I can’t wait to share the celebration!
Nothing could make me thirstier than seeing this legitimate last-of-the-old-guard seltzer delivery man parked on our block. Now, after Sandro ruined Sweetheart’s relationship with the legendary Walter Beckerman in the great Brooklyn unreturned bottle dispute of 2006, our hand has been forced and we’ve gone the way of the soda stream. But, in the same way my heart sings when I get my knives sharpened by the knife grinder, there is somewhat of a New York romance with the seltzer man. May he live long and forever deliver bubbles to the outer boroughs.
This weekend we have dear friends visiting from down south, a pair of bon vivant and raconteur travelers who’ve found themselves in the flats of Iowa, the mountains of Virginia, and the deep pines of Athens, Georgia- all for the pursuit of knowledge. Though they live among the rolling country hills right now, the countdown is on for the end of their bucolic tenure and their subsequent carbetbag transatlantic move to London. There couldn’t be a better time to show them our New York. She’s tricking herself out in flowers and opening her arms as she always does for spring wanderers. And, in making plans for their arrival, I’m reminded that the best way to fall back in love with your own city is to show off her best sides to someone you love.
On the docket: Sichuan in Bay Ridge, a visit to MoMa, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a brown bag picnic at the carousel, dinner at Roman’s, The first session of the Brooklyn Flea back outdoors, the opening of the Dekalb Market, Passover Seder with Sweetheart’s family, lunch at Spumoni Gardens, a trip to Coney Island to ride the soon-to-be-closed-Sweetheart’s-childhood-favorite Eldorado AutoSkooter Bumper Cars, A trek either to Arthur Avenue or to Staten Island for Italian delights, and Michael Daves at Rockwood.
Chag sameach, thank you New York, and may everyone have a marvelous weekend.
Gorgeous top image: Ernst Haas, Central Park, Spring, 1970
from the awesome ICP photography blog.