Paris Unplanned

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I’m laughing as I type in the title to this post because anyone who knows me knows I would never go to Paris without planning. However, I kept the scheduled activities to a minimum. Tom and I had an entire week to ourselves in Paris, and I wanted it to be as spontaneous as possible. We’d been to Paris before, both on our own, and together, which meant this time around our trip would be less about checking things off and more about going with the flow.

What was great about the trip was sleeping late, without worrying about where we had to be, as any plans I’d made always started with a lunch reservation. Some of the gastronomic highlights included the crepe complete at Breizh Cafe, the onion soup at Le Philosophes the pistachio and chocolate escargot at Du Pain et des Idees  the steak frite at Le Severo the beef bourguignon at Le 6 Paul Bert the absolute beauty of Le Grand Coeur, the carrot veloute at The Clown Bar (the pigeon pictured below, not so much), the poached egg with shaved truffles at Bistrot Belhara and the warm fuzzy feeling we had at Gaspard de la Nuit.

Of course, besides eating, shopping and drinking champagne (there was a lot of the latter), we filled our days with long walks to nowhere, which ended up including Montmartre, Luxembourg Garden, St. Germain des Pres, La Tour Eiffel, The Louis Vuitton Foundation, The Musee Rodin, Saint Chapelle, Le Marais (many times), Canal St. Martin, the Musee D’Orsay, and Conciergerie. We even had drinks at Hotel Costes with our friend Saniya, who was in town for work. I love being an ex-expat, as I find my chances of finding friends wherever I go increases ten-fold.

*One of our best nights ended with the late show of Le Crazy Horse. I loved it, but not as much as Tom. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.

About shopping, it felt like the entire city of Paris was on sale. Every store window had a “Soldes” display. If you want to come to Paris to shop, come in January/February. In addition to returning to Tom’s favorite spot to buy his funky shirts, he’s become “famous” for at Coton Doux I discovered City Pharma (aka the French Fountain of Youth). I think I am the last person on earth to learn of its treasures as it was by FAR the most crowded of any establishment Tom and I entered all week! I left with a bag full of goodies.

I truly enjoyed our unintentional week away, but…if I had to do it all again, with a little more organization (sorry, I just can’t help myself), I would create lists by arrondissement of places of interest, so that when we went to the far reaches of Paris for dinner or lunch (which we often did), I would have an idea of what I could see or do while there. In my experience, many of the new hot places to eat are not necessarily located in the most central of locations.

One of the things I like most about traveling is the research I do leading up to a trip. Of course, I ask friends who’ve been many times which is a great resource, but I also love me some boots on the ground. For that, I go to my favorite bloggers. For Paris, I’ll always ask my friend Dina for food advice. This time around, she recommended Le 6 Paul Bert and also was a big help in making a few hard to get reservations. You can follow her at www.worldfooddina.com She’s a fellow Tokyo expat, who lived in Paris before moving to New York a few years ago. She also has excellent tips for eating in NYC and Tokyo. I also love Lindsey Tramuta who blogs at www.lostincheeseland.com and is the author of the new book The New Paris a fantastic source for all things Paris. And lastly, I love reading Sara Leiberman’s newsletter Overthinking It.

Here are some snaps of our winter week in Paris. I’m sure people questioned our decision to go in winter, but Paris is beautiful any time of year, and there is nowhere more romantic to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Merci beaucoup to D’anna for making the week possible.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

Paris Prep

I’d hoped to be writing this week’s blog entry from Paris, where Tom and I planned to spend Valentine’s week, but Air France had other plans. Our flight was canceled last night with no warning, most likely due to the record-breaking snow that has blanketed the city of light, but hopefully, we’ll get out this evening. As Audrey Hepburn said in Sabrina, ‘Paris is always a good idea.’ I’m looking forward to iconic Paris selfies with snow!

This week was not the normal fun-filled, activity-laden emptynest week as I was in full “find a job” mode. What I’ve found is that looking for a full-time job is a full-time job. But  I’m making progress, which is a good feeling. That doesn’t mean I was inside the entire week either.

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On Monday, I had a surprise visit during the day from #2 son who, with excellent foresight, took the Monday off following the Superbowl. We went for a spontaneous lunch at Studio, the new all-day dining space in the Freehand Hotel on Lexington and 23rd. I would say that the ambiance is better than the food, (see above), but hopefully, they’ll get the “newby” kinks out and improve. An incredible rooftop bar will open in the summer.

I had a delicious Mexican lunch with a friend at La Contenta Oeste in the West Village. What I loved about the menu, was that all the standard Mexican favorites are there, but also, you’ll find great salads and fish made with Mexican ingredients but skew healthy and fresh.

To prepare for all the walking I will be doing in Paris; I went for my favorite Medical Pedicure. I always go to the 30 Park Avenue location, which is inside a podiatrist’s office. Medical pedicures are very different than the pedicures you get at your local nail salon. I highly recommend them, and the price isn’t much more than you’d pay in a salon.

And speaking of looking for a full-time job, I found a great new (at least to me) clothing store that comes from Sweden. It’s called Cos. They have three locations in NYC (5th Ave, Soho, and in the Oculus) and I feel they have a modern take on work clothes. I could see myself wearing their clothes to my new office (wherever and whenever that may be). And the price point is affordable.

Time to stuff too many clothes into 2 checked bags. Next week’s blog will be from Paris!

Au revoir NYC!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Points of View

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I have no business hanging out in FiDi. I have no job that takes me there, nor any other reason to take the 6 train to Fulton Street, and yet I find myself returning time and again. It could be the unparalleled view from The Bar Room at Temple Court, or the rosé gummie bears and other assorted alcohol-infused candies they sell at Sugarfina in the Oculus,  or the “feels like Paris” vibe of Augustine it’s an area I suggest adding to any NYC itinerary.

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At the beginning of the week, the weather allowed for a quick walk with a friend on the bridal path in Central Park. We didn’t have much time, so we entered the park at 85th and 5th and walked up to 96th. You get a “big bang for the buck” on the quick trip as the view is breathtaking and you can stop in for a brekkie board and a flat white at Blue Stone Lane on East 90th Street inside the Church of the Heavenly Rest.

I met up with a friend from out of town at Danji for lunch. Danji is one of my “go to” spots for a pre-theater dinner in Midtown, and now they are open for lunch. I can’t say enough about the bibimbap set. It was delicious and economical too. Make a reservation as it was packed!IMG_7829

This week I got a request for a hotel recommendation in the city that wasn’t too expensive for parents and teens to stay together while looking at colleges. I suggested the new Freehand Hotel, but I would also recommend reading this article for more suggestions throughout the city.  Have you heard about the new Recharge app? You can book luxury hotels by the minute. In a recent article about the app, the writer suggested using the app for nursing mothers and people on business trips between meetings. Strangely enough, it didn’t mention the most obvious of uses. It seems these days, there’s an app for everything.

I spent most of the weekend at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (SCBWI) at the Grand Hyatt so there was no time for brunch. Instead, I’ll mention my yummy lunch at UrbanSpace. I often find myself dining and dashing at many of their delicious vendors while in Midtown. On Saturday I ate at Mr. Bing; a new addition to the UrbanSpace food market. I chose the Peking Duck Beijing pancake medium spicy. I relished every bite and could have shared it with a friend, the portion was so large. IMG_7837

Saturday night I had a reservation at Tokyo Record Bar. You might have already heard about this place as it’s super-buzzy right now. It’s on MacDougal in the West Village in the basement of a brownstone building (their upstairs neighbor is the bubbly Air’s Champagne Parlor a current favorite of mine.) You need to get a reservation at Tokyo Record Bar, stat. They only have two seatings a night, 6:30 and 10:30 and they offer a tasting menu for $50/pp. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that after dessert, they bring out a large cheese pizza for gluten fans and french fries for the gluten-free. Go. IMG_7853

Tom and I ended the week at a high-calorie, super fun Superbowl party back in Rye. No matter how many adventures #emptynestnyc is having living in the city, it’s always important to remember where you came from and the people who are important in your life.

Have fun. Be bold.

Hello Monday!

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Friday afternoon, Tom texted and asked, “What are we up to this weekend?” My response: “What are we NOT up to is the question.” I do try to pack as much as possible into non-football watching weekends. After work on Friday, we had a quiet dinner in front of a wood burning fireplace in Tribeca at a place I’ve mentioned in the blog before, Tiny’s. Romantic it was, but the food was just meh, and I don’t love eating ok meals in a city where you don’t have to do that. We finished off the night watching Get Out. I’ve wanted to see this movie for a while, but I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to scary movies. I got over my fear and was absolutely riveted. I totally get why Daniel Kaluuya was nominated for an Academy Award.

Saturday started early at Soho House for brunch with friends. We aren’t members, but it was lovely to be invited. They have a gorgeous spread in a beautiful room – I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity to go. It was a warmish day in NYC, so we decided to walk the Highline up to Jacob Javits on 34th. The Highline is beautiful no matter what time of year, and they always have new art installations. Walking north from 14th is like fast-forwarding through time. You start in the Meatpacking District where landmark buildings have been faithfully restored, and then you smack right into the dystopian future of Hudson Yards.

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Our destination was the New York Times Travel Show at Jacob Javits. I’m travel obsessed and always in search of the next best thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it at the travel show, but I did find these guys from the DR.

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We did a quick walk through the convention and decided it was time to leave, and eat again. The sun was out, and I immediately thought picnic. Back down in our Gramercy neighborhood, I grabbed a sandwich “to go” at Daily Provisions The line was obscene. I try only to go there mid-week when the lines are manageable, but their sandwiches are so good, and I was craving the Milanese. If you go and plan on bringing your sandwich to a picnic (Union Square Park is two blocks away), I would suggest you ask them to cut your sandwich and make sure to bring extra napkins. They are delicious but messy.

I was very excited about our Saturday night plans. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to go to the Metrograph for some time, but couldn’t find a movie I felt both Tom and I would enjoy. The Metrograph is a very unique place to see old films. You feel like you’ve entered a theater you might find back in the ’20’s in New York City. You can eat dinner before or after a show, upstairs in The Commissary and then have a coffee in the lobby lounge before you go inside. And the candy selections are unparalleled!

The movie I chose was called Savage Grace. I’d never heard of the movie, but it starred Juliane Moore and a very young Eddy Redmayne, so that was good enough for me. After a very nice meal, we arrived to find a full house as it was the 10th anniversary of the film, and the director, producers, and cinematographer were all in attendance for a post film Q&A. I had no idea that was a part of the $15 ticket, so it was an extra special treat. I probably should have read the movie synopsis beforehand, but let’s just say it DEFINITELY wasn’t a boring film. And finding out afterward that it was a true story sort of blew our minds. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. I’m thinking of buying the book for a deeper dive.

Sunday was a rainy day, and we could have easily stayed in PJ’s and watched more movies, but I had promised a friend who just opened a new restaurant on the Lower East Side that we would come for brunch and try his food. It’s called Brigitte, and it is a sweet little French restaurant on the fringes of the LES. It’s French, but not fussy and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. We enjoyed our meal and will return and try dinner next time. No matter how many times I go to the Lower East Side, I can never figure out where I am. Navigation is not a skill I have, yet you’d think after going many times, I’d figure it out. Nope, it kicks my butt every time. For example, the restaurant was literally around the corner from both my son’s apartment and the Metrograph from the night before, and I had no idea until after I arrived. C’est la vie. I look forward to spending more time in that part of the city as it’s a treasure trove of discoveries. I see many spring weekends in my future getting happily lost.

One last note, a highlight of my week was a literal fireside chat with a friend in the lobby bar of The Marlton Hotel. Several hours passed, as did glasses of wine and a large plate of very good french fries, before I realized it was time to go home and make dinner. It’s a fabulous place to spend an afternoon with a friend, or with their free wireless access.

Enjoy your week! Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

 

Can you take criticism from a millennial?

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This is a piece from the David Hockney exhibit at the Met, which I have to admit I enjoyed more than the Michelangelo. Hockney is my official new favorite living artist. It’s a “to do list” must.

A few blog entries ago, I mentioned that this emptynester was about to embark on a search for a full-time job and that there may be some funny tales to tell along the way. With the amazing help of Anne Finnegan of Prep Your Path  who was able to take bits and pieces of my life for the past thirty years and tell a story, I was able to set forth on the path to employment. I was sort of hoping there would be a few anecdotes, otherwise, it would mean that all I did was send my resume out into the ether without ever hearing back. Well, this week I got a match on a job I applied for on Angel List a site for start-ups looking to fill positions. I decided to go the start-up route because if I’m going to go back to work, I want to be surrounded by young people where we can have FUN. I haven’t been on a job interview since 1988 when a movie cost $3.50, Prozac was first introduced and Wrigley Field finally got lights. I may have been a bit rusty. But, after 45 minutes of questions, none of which I didn’t have an answer for (Tom says talking is one of my strong points), the interview ended with the question, Can you take criticism from a millennial? My answer? With four millennial children, it happens on a regular basis. No problem.

The rest of the week I focused on non-work related activities which not surprisingly included eating with friends and this week I was lucky to see many old Tokyo friends who happened to be in New York. There was a delicious lunch at Loring Place Dan Kluger’s newish spot (former chef at ABC Kitchen). It was my second time eating his food, and I enjoyed it just as much. Another fabulous lunch was at Atla which is gourmet Mexican. The dining room is very modern filled with light in a great spot in Noho for people watching. The only issue I had was that I made a reservation for 12:30 and breakfast ran until 1 when lunch began. If I wanted to order from the lunch menu, I had to wait until 1. So if you book for lunch make sure it’s from 1 pm. It really was delicious!

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On Tuesday night Tom and I had tickets to a cabaret night at Feinstein’s 54 Below to see one of our son’s elementary school friend’s show. Jen Damiano is a Tony-nominated Broadway actress who has had a prolific career, and she’s only 26! It was fun to hear her tell her life story through song. It’s just amazing to see kids we knew when they were young out there in the world following their dreams. I highly recommend the venue as well. Intimate, but not too small right in the heart of the theater district.

Have you used the Arro app? It makes paying for NYC taxis as easy as uber. Download the app and enter your information. Then, next time you are in a cab, look on the screen that plays the annoying clips, and you’ll find the “pay and pair” number and enter it into your app, and it will automatically charge your app. You can also use it to hire taxis without surge pricing, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

A new must-visit restaurant opened in my neighborhood called Atoboy . Don’t get it confused with the very hot cocktail bar on the lower east side with the same name. This is the restaurant in Nomad. It’s Korean, but not BBQ. When you walk inside it feels a bit dystopian, but that just lets the food tell the story. And it’s a very delicious story. The menu consists of three sections of six small plates. You choose any three for $42. We were a party of four and so we ordered four different plates from each section and shared. EVERYTHING was awesome. It’s hard to get a reservation so book now for next month.

A new hotel has opened in my neighborhood that allows for multiple guests for a reasonable rate. It also has a great communal space and a very interesting restaurant. This summer my niece is getting married in Brooklyn, and I’ll recommend the hotel for out of town guests. Check out this bunk room in The Freehand Hotel. Super cool and convenient!

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The Michelangelo exhibit at the MET has been on my to-do list since it opened, and Tom and I finally made it there this week. The exhibit was so crowded it was sort of hard to enjoy, however, it’s hard not to stare in awe. One of the first pieces you encounter is a small sculpture of an archer that he carved from a single block of marble…when he was a teenager! I don’t know about your kids when they were teens, but I’d say he was quite the overachiever. And the exhibit also has its own Sistine Chapel. Tom and I both have visited in Rome, but not together. I was lucky enough to see it with my kids. Tom was with Joey Petrosinelli back in 1988. So here we are together, faking it until we hopefully see it one day together.

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We were starving after seeing so many priceless works of art, so we stopped for lunch and a glass of champagne at the Petrie Court Cafe which overlooks Central Park. The food is ok, but the view is fabulous and walking on cement can be tough on the lower back. After lunch, we walked through the park entering at 79th with a brief stop at the Belvedere Castle and before long we popped out on Central Park West. I look forward to spring when that walk will be in full bloom.

We had dinner with friends in from Westchester at Shuka a new Mediterranean restaurant on the border of Soho and the West Village on MacDougal.  Schwarma and kebabs, tagine and vegetable hummus. Spicy tequila drinks. Great vibe, reasonable. Fun.

And the weekend ended in Bushwick at one of my favorite places for Brunch with a group, Win Son a delicious spot for Taiwanese food. Reserve one of the round tables in the window with the lazy susan. Order one of everything.

That’s all for today. I’ve been inside my apartment writing and editing, and the sun is almost about to set. I have to get outside before it does!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Seeing NYC Through A Different Lens

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This week was action-packed, and curiosity filled. Thankfully, the weather cooperated, and by Friday it was downright balmy! On Monday, I locked myself in the Rose Main Reading Room at the NY Public Library to edit my middle-grade novel for the 78th time. I’ll be attending the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference the first weekend in February, and my goal is to submit my manuscript The Curse of the Baseball Oni to agents attending the event. There is no better place to sit your butt in a seat and write.

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Tuesday, I spent a busy day with a long-lost friend in lower Manhattan. We started early with a visit to the mock-up of The TWA Hotel in the Freedom Tower. You can contact them via email to request a free tour. It’s a wonderful way to get inside the Freedom Tower (the views from the Sky Lobby are insane – the pic at the top of the blog is from the Sky Lobby), and the TWA exhibit is fun.

 

It was a day of non-stop catch up which included what Ginny’s been up to over the last few years. After a very intensive training program, Ginny is now a docent at the MET leading tours for public school students. She also gives tours of Grand Central and the surrounding neighborhoods for the Municipal Arts Society. I would hire Ginny in a hot second to take out of town guests for an inside personal tour of NYC. She can lead tours in any of the following areas: Grand Central & Environs, Herald Square to Empire State, Chelsea and The Highline, Chelsea Galleries, Lower East Side Galleries (plus history), Upper East Side Galleries, and the Flatiron/Ladies Mile. She can be reached at ginnypoleman@me.com and followed on Instagram at @art_encounters.

After a delicious spontaneous lunch at Gotan in Tribeca, we arrived for our 4 pm guided tour of the artist Donald Judd’s private living and workspace. The The Judd Foundation is located on Spring Street in Soho and is a great way to get a birds-eye view into the life of an artist who lived and worked in Soho for twenty-five years.

On Wednesday night, Tom and I had tickets to see Magic After Hours with Noah Levine. It’s not like I’m a huge magic enthusiast, but this show checked a lot of boxes. It was to be held at Tannen’s the oldest magic store in NYC (I love historical NYC), there would be around 10 audience members (I hate crowds), Veuve Cliquot would be served (doesn’t need an explanation), and the show would last about an hour (perfect amount of time on a weeknight). I absolutely loved it, and Noah Levine is adorable.

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Before the show, we enjoyed a delicious bowl of ramen at a new Herald Square area ramen shop. If you spend time in this midtown area, you’ll know there is a shortage of good places to eat. Next time you attend a sporting event or concert in the Garden, I highly recommend a stop at Tonchin. Just make sure you leave some wiggle room for the line. We waited about 30 minutes.

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Thursday included a visit to an “old faithful” with new eyes. Together with a few friends, I booked a spot on the Yum Yum Met Tour through In Food We Trust. Our tour guide Angelis was a treasure! He took us on a whirlwind tour through many different areas of the MET spanning thousands of years showing us how food impacts art. I highly recommend this tour for anyone; from the savviest of art fans to the least initiated – there is something for everyone. I’m still thinking about many things I learned that day, specifically the concept of tables for ladies which is beautifully rendered in Edward Hopper’s painting with the same name. This is a picture of our fabulous tour guide Angelis with your group:

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We worked up quite the appetite and were happy we booked ahead at Flora Bar located in the MET Breuer, only a few minutes walk from the MET (it’s the old Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue). It’s the perfect place to cap off a morning spent looking at priceless works of art.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and there is a whole world out there to explore! Thanks for reading.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

 

2017 Debris

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This was a tough week to be a NYC resident. With temps in the single digits and the windchill off the charts, it made getting out a drag. Layering up to walk to the subway and then spending the next three stops pulling everything off wasn’t fun. Not to mention EVERYONE on the train has the sniffles. Do you think people would take it personally if I brought a big box of Kleenex and started handing them out? I’m considering it. The cold weather coupled with the frozen remnants of the recent holiday season littered on the streets made for a melancholy week. It might also have something to do with everyone going back to college. I like an empty nest that has a few feathers in it. One of my birds returns today. Ok, enough about that, on to the FUN.

Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing Once On This Island . A good friend of mine from Tokyo who now lives in Australia is one of the producers, and they were able to arrange for house tickets. The show is at The Circle in the Square Theater, which is one of the best theaters to see a performance. You feel like you are a part of the production and it’s especially true with this show. When you arrive, the stage is literally alive, with actors, a rooster, a goat and a flowing river. The actors interact with the crowd before the show starts and it really “sets the stage” for a wonderful evening. The 90 minute, no intermission show flies by. The music and dancing are hypnotic and it feels like a Caribbean version of the Lion King. I had a fun celebrity spotting in the lobby: Mary Louise Parker who looked fabulous by the way. Before the show, we went to one of my favorite pre-theater restaurants, Pure Thai Cookhouse It’s incredibly good, incredibly cheap and perfect for a quick dinner. No reservations and there is usually a line, but fortunately, you can pop next door at the corner Mexican restaurant for a drink while you wait.

I love discovering “new” places in my neighborhood that of course have been there long before I arrived. The other day, while sitting in the window at my favorite hole in wall/totally authentic Japanese lunch spot Ennju I looked up to find a small restaurant called Laut, a Cambodian, Singaporean, Thai restaurant. I’m not usually a fan of blended cuisines, but after googling it, I found it’s a Michelin starred restaurant with a very friendly price point. Tom and I took our girls Saturday night and it was not only delicious, but it also had a great vibe and fun drinks. We’ll go back for sure.

Today, the weather forecast is for temps above freezing and some snow. I’m planning to walk downtown to the The Marlton Hotel to join a friend to sit in front of the fire to “work” and catch up. Thankfully, NYC is full of warm and cozy spots to get out of the cold.

Until next week!

Have fun. Be Bold.