Long Time No Talk

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Since I started writing this blog, I’ve tried to post a new entry every week, usually on a Sunday afternoon. And for the most part, I’ve been successful. But, if you are a loyal reader, you’ll realize it’s been a while since we’ve talked. And I have a handful of excellent reasons why. I won’t bore you with the details, but in a sentence or two, I found out I have to move out of my apartment, I’ve reactivated my dormant search for gainful employment, and I am currently taking a week to do nothing more than sitting and swinging in the Bahamas. I’ve also decided, to pivot from blog to newsletter after a very informative lunch with my friend Cozy at Forty Carrots in the flagship Bloomingdale’s store on 59th street. Forty Carrots has been around forever and is a great spot to know about if you are hungry in midtown. The newsletter will be a quicker, easier read, and will show up in your inbox when I have something fun and interesting to share regarding things to do, people to see, places to eat and drink and anything else I think my emptynester friends might find worthy.

Here are some of the highlights of the past few weeks:

I thoroughly enjoyed Hilary and Clinton on Broadway. Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow make you feel like you are watching the real Clintons. Also, you don’t have to be a fan of Hilary to enjoy it – actually if you are a huge fan, you might not. I think it’s a limited run, so get tickets now.

I went to see the Basquiat exhibit at the Brandt Foundation with my friends Syd and Rob. The tickets are free and available on the website, but there is a waitlist. Just sign up for multiple dates, and you’re bound to get in.

My friend Kathy hosted my first EmptynestNYC event at her fabulous apartment in Chelsea. I got to share all my tips and hints with fifteen great women who are either emptynesters now or will be in the next year or so. It was such a fun night of community and sisterhood. I’ve added a link to my fun little postcard at the bottom of this blog with all sorts of great ideas for what’s coming in Spring/Summer 2019 in NYC. For more info on what’s going on around town, you might want to sign up for this amazing New York Times Summer in the City newsletter.

I took a very long walk around Central Park at the height of cherry blossom season with my friend Marybeth, and it was magical. My new apartment is only a few blocks from both Central Park and Riverside Park, and this is one of the things I am most looking forward to regarding my move uptown.

And last, but definitely not least, I have a new favorite spot for cocktailing. I’d read about Dead Rabbit many times. It’s a favorite watering hole of many FIDI peeps (Financial District). The problem is that it’s in the financial district, so sort of out of the way. But I had an appointment on Friday afternoon, and it was only a few minutes walk. It has everything a good bar should have – some sordid history, low ceilings, and a cozy feel, great cocktails, nice selection of bar food and a mix of age groups.

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Have fun. Be bold.

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What do long marriages, Ryan Seacrest and the best pizza in America have to do with one another?

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This past week the cover article in New York Magazine was about marriage, which got me thinking about the fact that one of my favorite couples (my brother and sister in law) will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this week. This picture above is of the four of us (in the distant past) on the beach in Rhode Island. The article has lots of nuggets of wisdom. I especially liked this quote, “Because there is nothing more divine than being able to say, out loud, “Today, I am really, truly at my worst,” knowing that it won’t make your spouse run for the hills. My husband has seen my worst before. We both know that our worst is likely to get worse from here. Somehow that feels like grace.”

The article is a complete invasion of privacy. I think you’ll like it.

Have you ever wanted to get tickets to see a live TV show in NYC like Late Night With Seth Meyers or Live With Kelly and Ryan or GMA Strahan & Sara? My friend Wendy clued me on how to get tickets, and it worked! I’m happy to share it with my readers. All you need to do is create a profile on this site (with as much info as possible – make sure to add your picture), find a day on the calendar (within the next 30 days) that isn’t sold out, and request tickets – for free! It worked for me the first time. My tickets said to arrive before 9:30 and we arrived 9 and were able to get seats on the main floor. I took my friend Lisa, and we had a fun morning.

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After the show, we were starving. We stopped into David Chang’s Bang Bar in the Time Warner building. Their Korean flatbread sandwiches are delicious and the perfect thing to eat outside while enjoying the beautiful weather.

At 53, I know the skills I have, the ones I want to have, and the ones I don’t and never will. This self-knowledge was never more evident than my attempt Wednesday night to “Escape the Room” at a birthday party for my dear friend Lisa M. It’s just amazing to me to watch how other people’s minds work.

My girlfriends are becoming Grandmas, and it is so fun to watch! I got to facetime with Libby and Little Joanie this week, and I turned in to complete mush. Babies will do that.IMG_6002

Saturday, mid-morning, a flock of Jardines converged at my youngest daughter Annie’s apartment in Philadelphia. We came by plane, train, and bus. Annie watched us as we approached, which I found very 2019.

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The highlight of the Philly 15 hour trip (besides seeing my kids, natch) was by far our experience at Pizzeria Beddia. I’ve been waiting for years to eat Joe Beddia’s pizza, ever since the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine naming it the BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA. It’s not that I’m a pizza fanatic. It’s that in the article, Joe mentions his “pizza epiphany” and he and I share that epiphany. It happened circa 2009 (for both of us, but not at the same time) when we first sat down at the ten-seat counter at Savoy – a tiny pizza place in Azabujuban in Tokyo, Japan. It was a game changer for him and me. So his place in Philly has always been on my TO DO list. But I hate to wait. I could never see myself waiting for hours outside for a pie, and at that time, that is what you needed to do to eat his food. AND THEN IT CLOSED. But thankfully it was because he was coming back bigger and better than ever. He opened his new, fabulous restaurant (with seats and a full bar) a few weeks ago. He takes reservations, they are fully booked for a few weeks, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins. The restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass, and we were very fortunate to get the table in front of Joe as he threw the dough!

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I asked our waitress to tell Joe that we were here because we love Savoy too. Ten minutes later he was hanging out at our table, and we were exchanging all our favorite Japanese spots in Tokyo and NYC. He was the sweetest, most humble guy ever. He told us about a new restaurant called Hiroki that was opening up on the same block, and after dinner, he walked us over there to show us.

And the pizza. OMG. Wait, back it up. You need to get all the little starters. The salads are phenomenal – the sausage, the gigantic white beans in lemon and olive oil. It was all amazing. And the pizzas… we ordered four – all different. Watch out for the angry pizza – it’s spicy but so good. We finished the meal with a few different soft serves. Thanks, Joe!

It was a pizza dream.

Have fun. Be bold.

What’s Your Favorite Restaurant?

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Last week, someone I just met asked me to name my favorite restaurant. They had heard that I dined out a lot and that I was slightly obsessed with food. It stopped me in my tracks. After an awkward pause, I had to confess that I didn’t have one. I started thinking about why I couldn’t come up with an answer to a seemingly straightforward question. And what I came up with is that I don’t have a favorite because I rarely return to the same place twice. That’s probably a combination of FOODFOMO and a never-ending amount of curiosity. But after Friday night’s reservation, my restaurant fickleness may be coming to an end.

Niche Niche is the newest initiative of the sprightly Ariel Arce. I’ve enjoyed many nights at her champagne bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor and have eaten in her basement izakaya,  Tokyo Record Bar a few times since it opened in July 2017. What I learned about Ariel is that the emphasis is always on the bubbles and fun and less on the food. But Niche Niche was billed as a dinner party. When I received an email inviting me to book before they opened up on RESY, I jumped at the chance. There were two nightly seatings at $40 per person with an additional wine pairing at $40 per person (you can’t do one without the other). Each night there is a “host,” a wine importer, that chooses the night’s wines. As Ariel welcomed us that night, she said: “Obviously none of you are New Yorkers because you’ve agreed to a dinner where you cannot make any choices about what you eat or drink.” Our host had a German catalog of wines, which probably drove the menu: Skate wing schnitzel with spaetzle and cabbage.

We had a reservation for the later seating at 8 pm. Tom and I were the oldest by decades. I’m pretty sure I saw a table of kids home for spring break. We are often on the older side due to the location (downtown) and the newness of the places we visit, but this was extreme. And when the dinner platter for two was placed on our table, I realized I was about to ruin a week of eating well and watching calories for fried fish with pasta. I was less than thrilled.

And then I read Frank Bruni’s article in the New York Times Sunday Review. And it all made sense. I’ve been eating out like a millennial or maybe even a GenZ’er. I need to let my 50-something flag fly. As Frank so wisely posits, “It’s not just sex and sleep that change as you age. It’s supper.” It’s not like I’m going to stop trying new places, but I’m going to slow down my RESY trigger finger and read a few more reviews before I book. And I’m going to allow myself to continue to return to the restaurants that have the potential to become my “favorite.” See my list below.

I’ve always wanted to speak French after studying in Paris in the summer of 1986. It’s taken this long to attempt that goal. I started a ten-week course on Tuesday at CouCou. It’s the cutest little school in a narrow three-floor building in Nolita. Learning a new language at 53 is not going to be easy. I even had homework – hopefully I don’t make a fool out of myself when I have to recite Chanson Automne in Tuesday’s class.

On Thursday night, I went with my son to see The Lehman Trilogy at the Park Avenue Armory. I didn’t let on that the play was over three hours long with two intermissions, but I was a little nervous he might leave before it ended. It was one of the most enjoyable and engaging theatrical experiences I’ve had in a long time. It’s a very limited run, but I encourage you to find tickets. It was that good. Hayden thought so too. We continued talking about it on Saturday at Yankee Stadium watching the Yankees lose to the worst team in baseball. But it was sunny and warm, so it wasn’t a complete disappointment.

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So the answer to what’s my favorite restaurant is never going to be just one. Here are a few that might make my list:

French: Le Coucou  Buvette

Italian: Carbone Lilia Via Carota

Pizza: Rubirosa Emily Roberta’s

Chinese: Wu’s Wonton King

Thai: Pinto Garden

Fast Casual: Mint Kitchen

Sushi Take Out: Ennju

Sushi: Sugarfish

Steak Frites: Raoul’s

Indian: Sahib

If you have a favorite, please let me know!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Bizcation Madness

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I first heard of the word Bizcation from my friend Doug who loves to mashup words to make new fun ones, like FRAPPS (free apps) and FREFILLS (free refills). It means, when your husband goes on a business trip, you go along for a vacation; hence the mashup. Tom had to be in London for a few nights, and so thanks to Norwegian Air and their very favorable ticket prices, I went along too.

Having friends in London is such a bonus because I hardly had to plan anything. I had a few thoughts floating in my head about how I wanted to spend the time, but really, I was in a fabulous city (at a very interesting time) hanging out with old friends, so what could be bad?

I purchased timed tickets to visit the newly opened Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey as my sister had recently visited and said it was great. I was a little early and so spent some time in the abbey’s gift shop. As church gift shops go, this one is excellent.

The galleries are high above the abbey and provide a lofty view from which to gaze down upon the church (I snuck a picture and got in trouble regardless).

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But it’s not just the view that is spectacular; it’s chock a block with ancient royal artifacts, and a few new ones as well – including William and Kate’s marriage license! On a side note, do you ever use the face smacking emoji when texting? My youngest daughter is quite fond of it, and seeing this in the abbey made me think of its origin.

 

 

I was meeting my friend Efrot for lunch, and when I arrived at the location, I was confused. I was jetlagged, and I’d taken a sleeping pill on the plane, but I was pretty sure she said we were going for Thai, and this pub was the farthest from Thai I could imagine. But Efrot is all about authentic so in I went. Once inside The Churchill Arms, it felt very pubby with lots of Churchill memorabilia scattered here and there. I sat at the bar and ordered a drink and asked if I was in the right place. The barkeep pointed to the back and said that’s where the Thai happened. Sure enough, when Efrot arrived we went to the back, and there were a host of Thai ladies cooking up delicious home cooked Thai food. I’d add it to your London itinerary.

p.s. Churchill’s grandparents used to frequent the pub, and it’s been around since 1750. In the spring I hear it’s covered in gorgeous flowers.

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I refuse to take buses in NYC because they never come and they are slower than a tourist on a crowded theater district street holding a map in one hand, and a camera in the other. But the buses are brilliant in London! It’s the cheapest, and most time efficient way to sightsee – jump on a double-decker, wrangle a front row seat and see the city. I spent Wednesday morning on Bus 11, which took me past Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament, straight into the city of London, passing St. Paul’s Cathedral. Another thing I loved about both the buses and the tube in London was that I could flash my contactless credit card (the one with the little waves on the back), when going through the wicket, and I never needed to purchase a ticket. So easy! After my bus ride, I returned to the neighborhood where I was staying, Sloane Square, and walked around the Saatchi Gallery for an hour. Saatchi is very contemporary and prides itself on showing artists that are unseen or those that are rarely exhibited in the UK.

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The Saatchi also has an excellent gift shop. I particularly liked the very British greeting card section.

 

 

I met my friend Nita for lunch at a London favorite, Colbert. No matter what time of day or night, Colbert is packed, so book ahead. Nita and I met while playing bridge in NYC at Honors Bridge Club, and it was a treat to see her in London. She splits her time between both cities. After lunch, I was reconnecting with Efrot at the Dior Exhibit at the V&A. The V&A is a snazzy way to say the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Dior exhibit was completely sold out, but Efort had a membership, and we were allowed to enter. What I found in London is that all the museums are free, but if you buy a membership you get access to the special exhibits. I think a city that opens it’s museums to the public for free is one that is fully vested in the importance of culture. The Dior show was exquisite. It’s incredible to think that Christian Dior was only at the helm of his fashion house for ten years, and yet created a lasting legacy. He’s known for his “new look” silhouette, which he said was inspired by an upside down flower. One of the rooms in the exhibit shows his dress patterns upside down.

 

 

I know it’s going to seem a bit excessive to mention yet another fabulous gift shop, but the V&A is by far the best museum shop ever. I went crazy buying costume jewelry for mere pounds. I bet no one will be able to tell!

Wednesday night I finally made it to the Chiltern Firehouse for dinner. It’s been on my list since it opened in 2013. It’s an André Balazs hotel and restaurant. André is all about the vibe, and he hits a home run with this very hip spot in Marylebone. From the moment you arrive, you know you are going to have a very cool night. And unlike some of his other locations (Sunset Beach in Shelter Island), the food is very, very good. My phone was charging and I didn’t get it back in time to take any fun dinner pictures, but I did manage a snap of my dessert. It looks like a hot mess, but it was insanely delicious rice pudding.

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Thursday was my last full day in the city, and I started with a walk through Carnaby Street. Carnaby “Street” is actually 14 pedestrianized streets, so it makes for the perfect shopping trip. The stores skew young, my daughters would have had a field day, but I managed to buy one unique piece that I’ll either wear out or never wear once. We’ll see. Thankfully the stores are fun and inexpensive.

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From there I met my friend Stephanie at Nopi Yotam Ottonlenghi’s vegetable-focused restaurant. I’m a big fan – I heard him speak at the 92nd Street Y and I own and use all of his cookbooks. Next time I return, I want to try his new place, Rovi.

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After lunch, we dashed down to the Tate Modern to meet other friends we knew from our Japan days and to see the Bonnard exhibit. We spent the entire time in the rooftop lounge talking and catching up; we never made it to the exhibit. The walk from the museum back to the Westminster station along the South Bank of the river was fantastic. It’s a thriving cultural scene, with so much to see and do – until next time!

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Dinner Thursday was at Berner’s Tavern in Fitzrovia. This was a suggestion from my young friend Hilary, and it didn’t disappoint. It could be the most beautiful dining room in London.

Friday came around so quickly – I wasn’t ready to leave! I had one last stop before the airport, and that was meeting my friend Syd who lives in New York but was on the tail end of her Euro vacation with her husband Rob. They were stopping off for 24 hours to visit her British cousins. I was so happy to join and meet everyone. The lunch spot she chose, Le Petite Maison was delicious and posh – the perfect combination. And then it was a mad dash to the airport on the Gatwick Express.

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Saturday morning, back in NYC we had timed tickets to climb the much talked about Vessel at Hudson Yards. It was a very windy day, and they cut off the climb at level three making the entire experience very anti-climb-atic! We went into the mall to get warm thinking we’d bop around Mercado, but it was closed. It doesn’t open until 5 pm. What???

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I have to agree with the recent New Yorker article. There is no reason to go to Hudson Yards. I felt like I was in a ritzy Dubai mall. Not NYC at all. I’ll reserve final judgment until the Shed opens. There still may be some hope yet.

Sunday was a gorgeous day in NYC, and before attending an aca-awesome event at Carnegie Hall, Tom and I walked around Central Park with our faces up to the sun. We even ate dirty water dogs – something we do on a very rare occasion. It felt so good to be outside with the rest of the urban dwellers who dwell in tiny spaces all winter long. On our walk home, we found a plane parked in the theater district (on it’s way to JFK to become a cocktail bar).

 

 

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

The Slog, The Catastrophe, Is Life

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I didn’t come up with the title to this blog; I borrowed it from the last line of the New York Time’s March 13th review of Catastrophe’s final season (binge it on Amazon now). It felt particularly poignant this week. Life is filled with many small catastrophes, and all we can do is to keep moving forward, hopefully taking lessons with us through the slog. The picture above was from the New York Time’s Talk I was lucky to attend Monday night. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’m sad that it ended. If you haven’t indulged, there are only 4 short seasons, and I highly, highly recommend them.

One of my new doctors is on Canal Street, which gave me an excellent reason to check out Canal Street Market. Among noisy street hawkers and NYC souvenirs, you’ll find this oasis of calm. Half the space is small vendors selling everything from sake to luxuries, and the other half is food – all with an Asian slant. I was so thrilled to find Joe’s Steam Rice Roll as it has been on my “to eat” list for a while. I ordered Joe’s signature with the works and drizzled hot sauce on top.

Wednesday I took a tour of the Richard Avedon Foundation, a place I could easily have walked by and never knew was there. But thanks to the Ex-Expat group in NYC I spent two hours learning more about the prolific photographer who shot everyone who was anyone, and lots of everyday people in between. When asked of the director of the foundation if Dick was nice, he answered, “Dick was engaged. I wouldn’t say he was nice.”


There are many reasons to visit Bushwick, Brooklyn; one is the the Bushwick Collective, and another is Roberta’s Pizza. The Bushwick Collective event is in June, but you need not wait to see incredible street art. The entire neighborhood is an outdoor art gallery and changes often. I went on a walking tour with Ronnit, who I thought was an excellent guide. Half of the tour was spent in small galleries with up and coming artists, and the other half was outside. I’d been to Bushwick on another tour and didn’t enjoy the guide as much as I enjoyed Ronnit. She gives you just the right amount of insight but leaves you to explore and inquire on your own. And with Roberta’s, unlike at night, you can walk right in and sit down for lunch.

Friday night Tom and I attended the first night of previews for Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell. I was so excited for this show and wanted it to be good, as I am a huge fan of both actors and thought the chemistry between them could be really intense. Driver has already been on Broadway, but this was Russell’s debut. Before giving my honest opinion (and what do I know anyway), I will remind you that it was the FIRST night of previews, and I’m sure some of the nerves and the kinks will get worked out before it opens officially on April 16th.

The show seems dated, and all the “chemistry” takes place off-stage, so it’s difficult to imagine them together. The play starts slow, and Driver doesn’t appear for quite some time, but when he does there is electricity. He is a man on fire, and you can’t wait to see what he will say or do next. For that reason alone, I say buy a ticket. And I have high hopes that Keri picks up her Broadway ball and starts running.

We sat a few rows behind Keri’s partner, Matthew Rhys, who was a doll. He spoke to everyone around him before the show, and at intermission, and posed for lots of fan photos. He looks a lot more relaxed than his days on The Americans.

 

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If you are interested, I wrote an article I posted on Linkedin about how I think the scales of college admissions can be un-tipped. Working in the field has given me a birds-eye view into its inherent inequities, and I have a few ideas about how to fix them.

Saturday was such a spring tease. I am more than ready for the real thing.

Have fun. Be bold.

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I’m Still Standing

When you wake up on Tuesday with a substantial hangover, you know it’s going to be a long week. But when friends from California arrive for spring break, you don’t stay home just because it’s a Monday. We started the night with cocktails at the George Washington bar at the Freehand Hotel where they were staying. They make a lovely French 75.

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A few drinks later, we dashed down to the village for a bottle of bubbles at Air’s Champagne Parlor before going downstairs for an 8:30 seating at Tokyo Record Bar. It’s always nice in a big city like NY, to feel welcomed and included and the folks at these two locales always make us feel that way. We are so excited to try their latest food and wine experience at the newly opened Niche Niche billed as a “dinner party with friends.” We have reservations on the 29th!

Wednesday night was the Bronx Letters Foundation annual chef tasting event. It was an incredible night. If you weren’t able to attend this year, please consider joining us next year! It was so great to be surrounded by so many friends!

Thursday morning was a little rough going, and it made it all the more challenging by a promise I made to my friend Hilary to go to the Peloton Studio to take my first ride. n.b. I don’t enjoy working out, and the last thing I thought I would ever do is try and attempt to work out while pedaling a bike. I was overjoyed when it was over, and I’ll admit I didn’t hate it. The workout was led by Ally Love who magically appeared in the Sunday New York Times yesterday. Now I know what she’s doing when she’s not sweating on a bike. I did enjoy the post-workout treat at Chanson. The thing about NYC is that there are so many fabulous places you can easily walk by them without knowing what’s inside. Such was the case with Chanson until I saw pictures of their magical Black Sesame Kouign Amann on Instagram. I wish I kept on walking; they are that good. Now I’ll have to avoid that part of 23rd street.

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The peloton workout was the beginning of our “day of wellness.” After showers, we had an incredible lunch at abcV which is as beautiful as it is delicious. From there we went to my favorite stretch’d and finished up with a face massage at facelove. A face massage is just what it sounds like and is all the best parts of a body massage without having to get undressed. Just don’t make plans afterward because your hair will look like you’ve been rolling around in bed all afternoon.

Friday night, Tom and I went to see Elton at Barclay’s. He sang for 2 1/2 hours and took me down the yellow brick road of my life. I first saw Elton as a 15-year-old at his free concert in Central Park. I was young, wild and free and I’ll never forget what it felt like to dance in Sheeps Meadow surrounded by my best friends and hundreds of thousands of others. The next time I saw Elton was in 1998 at MSG. Tom and I took Thomas (age 8) and Hayden (age 4). So to return as an emtpy nester was both beautiful and bittersweet.

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Elton in Central Park in 1980 in the now famous duck suit created by Bob Mackie.

We ate a quick pre-show dinner at the new Gupshup in Gramercy. Fans of high-end Indian and craft cocktails will enjoy this new addition to the neighborhood. The food was good, and so was my drink, but it’s expensive, and only a ten minute walk from Little India…

Tom and I went for a long walk Saturday up the Highline to see the progress at Hudson Yards. We have tickets to climb the Vessel on opening day (March 23rd). The tickets are free, and you can reserve them here. We were hungry and had no plans for brunch, so we took advantage of our way west location and stopped in at the Chelsea branch of Sullivan Street Bakery. This bakery, originally located in Soho, has been around for almost 20 years and there are several reasons why – including these insane Bomboloni (aka donuts).

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Saturday night I spent with two of my kids waiting at our apartment for my youngest Annie to land from spring break. We had plans to go for a late night early birthday dinner downstairs at Gramercy Tavern, but unfortunately, due to severe flight delays, she didn’t arrive until after they stopped serving at midnight. Our Saturday night dinner turned into Sunday brunch. Gramercy Tavern is a great place to celebrate anything. It just feels special when you walk in, and the service is very attentive. I loved the little coconut cake they brought for Annie’s birthday. It wasn’t something I pre-ordered, I just let them know we were celebrating when we arrived, and they asked for her name. Now that’s excellent service.

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I am looking forward to this coming Friday and our tickets to see Burn This. With Adam Driver and Russell in the lead roles, it is going to be a HOT ticket!

Have fun. Be bold.