The Panorama and (Another) NYC Love Letter

Unknown-2 11.45.24 AM.jpeg

I have always taken advantage of New York City. I’m a licensed NYC tour guide. I walk the bridges every chance I get, most often the Brooklyn Bridge but if it’s too crazy, the Manhattan Bridge. I walk from the Upper West Side through Central Park to SoHo and back home to Brooklyn Heights. I explore the neighborhoods, try new restaurants, go back to old favorites. I go to the opera and to Broadway shows. I grocery shop at only-in-NYC places like Sahadi’s, Kalustyan’s, Eli’s Manhattan, Raffetto’s for fresh pasta, Di Palo for mozzarella, Zabar’s, and Citarella - and in Brooklyn, Union Market, Fish Tales, Staubitz Market, Perelandra, and Fairway. Plus Whole Foods Gowanus, of course.

I have always felt the more I do here, the more there is to do. It doesn’t get old or stale. I constantly add new things to my “list.”

But one thing that has been on my list for 10 years has been the famous Panorama at the Queens Museum. And we finally went there this weekend. Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the scale model of NYC’s five boroughs (where 1 inch=100 feet), is just so cool. You can really grasp how huge and small it is at the same time.

Unknown-1.jpeg

What hit me the most was all the memories that swept over me looking at the city - from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge, from Lincoln Center and the Museum of Natural History to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington Square Park. I tried to find the street I first lived on (binoculars would have been useful), Thompson Street. I looked for the street I currently live on. I looked at JFK and LaGuardia and wondered how many times I have flown in and out of the city. I looked at the whole chaotic, beautiful city and my heart almost burst.

Then we walked through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, by Meadow Lake (a lake literally surrounded by highways), and over to Forest Hills, a neighborhood I love in Queens. We didn’t have time to stop into Natural Market on Austin Street, pick up dumplings at Bangkok Cuisine, or wander through the gorgeous Tudor homes in Forest Hills Gardens. We had to get back to the baby. But I’m happy to have checked another thing off my never-ending NYC list.

The Unisphere, built for the 1964 World’s Fair.

The Unisphere, built for the 1964 World’s Fair.

The Best Thing I Did Before I Had My Baby

food.JPG

By far the best thing I did was prepare and freeze a ton of dinners. This is not new advice. But I took it with gusto and I am pretty proud - eight weeks after Sophie’s birth, we have one more frozen bag left.

Not only did this food sustain us when I couldn’t even remember how to use a can opener, it helped me prepare for her arrival. It helped to (finally) slow down, and savor that last bit of time “alone.” It allowed me to listen to podcasts like The Daily and Taste.

I made: chicken soup with orzo, butternut squash soup with apples, pasta e fagioli soup, pulled BBQ chicken, slow-cooker brisket, and turkey chili. The only thing I wouldn’t make again is the brisket, but it was still good. I was going to make three more recipes, but our darling Sophie arrived one month early. Side note: I liked the Dinner: A Love Story blog before I had a baby, and now I have developed a deep obsession with it. I want to hug Jenny’s first cookbook and read it every night. So many of her words speak to how I feel as a new mother, and how I want my family to be.

This would make the best gift for any new mom - make and freeze something delicious, write the date in Sharpie, and bring it straight to her freezer.

While we’re on the subject of food, Sophie has enjoyed quite a few restaurant meals already. I took her to Ristorante Morini for a ladies’ lunch before we went to The Met; we took her to brunch at Loring Place (new favorite NYC spot) and for a festive outing at West Village favorite Rosemary’s; she’s been to Heights Cafe and Gallito’s Kitchen in our neighborhood. NYC, in general, is a great place to have a newborn. I’m able to get out and about without feeling stuck in our apartment. If only I didn’t have to lug that stroller up and down so many stairs.

Part of me wants to show her the world; part of me wants to never leave the bubble of our cozy little apartment. I will always treasure this time.

Ordinary, Extraordinary New York City

Our apartment is slowly starting to fill with more STUFF than ever. Two cribs (regular and travel), a co-sleeper, a stroller that I wish I could just push around without a baby because I love it so much, clothes, baby books, accessories…and there is still so much more to come. But I’m also more allergic to stuff than ever, especially given that we live in a lovely but small Brooklyn apartment. (I still order way too many shoes.) It somehow still doesn’t even seem real that we’re having a baby. I feel her kick all the time, and hear her heartbeat, and we have one final scan next week, but…still doesn’t feel real. I am told this is normal.

I feel like I need to take advantage of every New York City moment before she gets here (and then I get to show her around!). We had this sort of ordinary weekend in NYC, a moment of calm before the chaos of the wedding next week and the baby. But, like most days in NYC, they still somehow feel really special.

I started out the weekend wedding dress shopping on the Upper East Side, and walking all the way down to the East Village to meet Alex. Because I will not be my skinniest ever on my wedding day, we went to Danny Meyer’s fast-casual pizza place, Martina, and then went to ChikaLicious Dessert Bar a couple blocks away. I have literally wanted to come here for ten years and it’s so worth it. The owner, Chika, is a former Wall Street banker, and she works with such grace and precision on these insanely delicious but light and airy desserts. There’s champagne with raspberry ice cubes, wine, coffee, and a general jazzy, fresh vibe. It’s been open since 2003, and now they have outposts all over Asia. But it still feels so perfectly New York. And get the “cheese cake” - it’s always on the menu, and it’s the perfect creamy, sweet, and tart balance.

IMG_8900.JPG

On Sunday, we met friends on the Upper West Side for a very early breakfast (their tradition that we crash every few months, at Cafe 82 on Broadway), and walked down to Meatpacking to check out the massive new Restoration Hardware complex in the old Pastis space. (I miss Pastis, the French fries, and the French-y vibe.) It’s impressive, with a ladies-who-lunch-feeling fifth-floor restaurant, a little coffee shop on the third floor, and huge pieces of furniture, all in shades of “fog” or “sand.” This isn’t where you come for bursts of color.

On the way down, we walked the entire High Line, from 34th and 12th Ave. Trudging through the rain, it was like watching an entire city transform, as Hudson Yards becomes built up with gleaming apartment buildings and offices above the train tracks, and installations like “The Vessel” come to life. Of course, there will also be a massive shopping complex, including NYC’s first Neiman Marcus. Where so much of New York feels crumbling and in need of repair, this part feels alive and new. And soon we were in Chelsea and Meatpacking, familiar old neighborhoods.

I hope for a few more weekends like this before baby girl arrives. (We can’t wait.)







A Magical East River Ferry

The Brooklyn waterfront looks worlds apart from when I first saw it many years ago.

The expansion of the East River Ferry this year is changing the area even more. We hopped on a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved it, quickly adding to the "must take all visitors" list. It's breathtaking and beats any Circle Line tour - and it's only a few bucks.

The River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hop on at the DUMBO stop (after getting an almond croissant at Almondine, pizza at Juliana's, or fancy brunch at The River Cafe) and take it to 34th Street. You'll see a rapidly changing Brooklyn and Queens landscape. It's also quite fast, unlike the turtle-ing city tour boats.

Here's the East River ferry schedule and a great article from the New York Times on how the ferry is changing the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. 

Long Island City, Queens.

Long Island City, Queens.

Once we got off at 34th Street, we wandered our way up to Central Park, which made for a pretty great cross-borough walking in NYC kind of day. Anyone else obsessed with their step count on the iPhone? I live for the 20,000+ steps kind of days. 

The 34th Street stop.

The 34th Street stop.

Central Park.

Central Park.

The first days of (city) summer

New York City in the summer can be challenging. The subways become sweltering saunas, the streets waft up a trashy stench. I got heat stroke a couple of weeks ago for the first time after hanging out in a Brooklyn beer garden for a few hours (I had one beer, more than my usual of zero, and tons of water). 

But I've been on some great NYC summer dates this year. The air has been breezy at night. I've spent time with people I love, really good friends. I saw a movie with my friend Dayna and then we decided to hit up Red Farm on the Upper West Side and walk the Brooklyn Bridge home. I walked up to William Greenberg on Madison for the best black and white cookies ever (it's something you have to eat in your life), then renewed my lapsed Met membership. I had dinner with my siblings at Beyoglu on the Upper East Side, with great outdoor seating, falafel, and hummus.  I went to a baby shower at Akwaaba B&B in historic Bed-Stuy and was blown away at how gorgeous the neighborhood was, an area I had never explored. 

Summer in the city will never be my favorite season (now, the Hudson Valley, Hamptons, Newport - that's a different story) - the buzzing air conditioner that makes my throat dry, the need to shower three times a day...

But somehow life feels all fleeting and short lately. And I love this city.