Coffee in NYC

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Bard.

But first, some backstory. It started as one of those quintessential city moments– I was on the subway headed downtown on a Saturday afternoon to run a couple of errands when I noticed a young woman reading a book whose cover caught my eye. Picnic in Provence, it read, adorned with the familiar bright watercolor illustrations, and so excited I was, that I immediately diverted my afternoon plans to include a direct stop at Strand so that I could pick up a copy asap.

My love of Elizabeth’s writing and their particular resonance date back to the first few days after my college graduation just before I was set to go on a three week trip to Europe. My sister gave me Lunch in Paris as a graduation gift and had scrawled, “create some amazing memories…bon appetit!” on the inside cover. I carried the book with me throughout the entire trip, feeling the full weight of the proverbial phrase, “the world is your oyster.” I relished every moment, imagining the myriad paths my life could take as I simultaneously read about Elizabeth’s experience as a young woman in Paris.

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As a graduate student living in London, Elizabeth, a lifelong New Yorker, met her future husband during a chance encounter that would lead her to build a life in Paris filled with all of the trials of culture shock, new challenges, as well as fantastic food, rich cultural experiences, and new beginnings. Her story is so approachable, so human, and so warm that you feel as though you are speaking to a friend, but also touches on those broad, nagging questions that many of us ask ourselves on occasion. “Can I really make this leap? What happens if I don’t? Am I ready to imagine my future differently?” Reading her words while lying in the Montmartre apartment where I was staying, or while sitting in front of the Villa Borghese in Rome, my heart felt full and I was often moved to joyful tears with the hope and promise that all of the uncertainty ahead would work itself out and that my life, too, could be extraordinary and shaped by the very uncertainty I feared. Little did I know, that less than a year later, I would make a sudden move to New York, with no apartment, no job, in the middle of a blizzard. I endured and developed my own love story with a city and its food, its culture, its largess and quiet familiarity. I thank Elizabeth a bit for this too.

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Apart from being a love story and a coming-of-age tale, Lunch in Paris details how Elizabeth discovered Paris through food, the epicenter of French culture. Filled with glorious recipes like braised beef with red wine, garlic, and thyme and chocolate cream with creme Anglaise, I was giddy to see what gems the next book would behold. Having spent years in Paris and expecting their first child, Picnic In Provence is the story of Elizabeth and her husband falling in love, this time with a tiny hamlet in Provence. They impulsively bought a house, made a move, had a child, and serendipitously opened up an ice cream shop. I am clearly oversimplifying here, so please read the book to enjoy all of the beautiful nuance that Mrs. Bard brings to her second story of discovery, motherhood, and of course, food that feeds the soul. This time, recipes like lavender honey and thyme ice cream and truffle toasts with salted butter were enough to make me want to sprint across to Provence and take up permanent residence.

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Reading this book five years later at a different stage in my life reminded again of how important it is to take those leaps of faith, allow your life to divert in order to chart a more fulfilling path, and not to be afraid of doing the unexpected thing. I have spent almost five years in this city and have allowed myself to be a little hemmed in by my expectations of what this stage of my life should be, what my career should look like, so on and so forth. So like a breath of fresh lavender-scented air, this book gave me renewed energy to start writing again, start questioning and get cooking.

Back to the meeting, which took place just after I randomly saw on Facebook that she would be giving a reading and a book signing at the James Beard Foundation, mere blocks from my office. Meeting someone with whom you already feel intimately acquainted yet have never seen before can be somewhat disconcerting. Of course, in my mind, I’m thinking up my speech, which always starts with “we’re like the same person!” Not creepy at all… I had so many questions for her such as “What is the hardest part about writing a book? Is it the decision to just do it? What was the biggest challenge of starting your own business? How did you learn to make ice cream? How do you manage a business from far away? Do you ever envision returning to the United States to live? Is it difficult to be away from your family?” So many questions and yet after listening to her speak about the book, so calmly, so elegantly with just as much warmth with perhaps a little less sass, I found that all I could muster was a nervous sputter about how much I loved the first book, my experience in Europe, and how excited I was to chance upon the second. We had a nice little exchange, but of course, there was a line and I couldn’t really say what I wanted to say which was, “thank you, thank you for sharing and for allowing me to feel a connection that makes me feel there are others out there, like me, with the same passions, the same feelings, and a similar way of looking at the world.”

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All in all, I walked out of the quaint West Village townhouse that afternoon, into the sunlight, feeling renewed. It was just a lunch-break detour during my arduous workday, but for me, it was the unexpected twist that took me somewhere different, even if only a different room on a different street with a familiar voice. It was one of those moments that feels rife with possibility and that (with an extra bite of a fluffy madeleine) was enough.

Summer Vibes

IMG_1365 After a grueling winter, it felt like summer was reluctant to appear. A couple weeks of chilly rain, interrupted by a couple of random 90 degree-plus days was hardly what I had been waiting for for six months. Finally, as if sensing a holiday weekend approaching, the skies opened up and bestowed a soft warm glow upon Manhattan joined by a cool breeze to whisk away all of those delightful city smells and leave only a rustling of trees in its wake. That laid-back summer feeling I had been so desperately longing for is here at last. I’ve been allowing myself to drift in and out of daydreams of my childhood summers, that beautifully undisturbed time in my memory when everything was at it should be. Languorous days spend at the pool topped by Papa John’s pizza and a steamy afternoon thunderstorm provided a perfect excuse for a movie night with friends and a bottomless bucket of chilled watermelon to drip down my chin. Sun-induced naps in the hammock with a book splayed across my freckled chest, it all just felt so easy, like life would always be like this. IMG_6733 While summers in the city are definitely different than the Floridian summers of my childhood, they are no less special. The crisp, lush smell of trees in Central Park, evenings spent on rooftops with friends, and just the sheer anticipation of the mere hope of summer makes this season feel like an annual months-long festival where everyone is invited. And of course, one of the best things about New York in summer is the chance to get away. Day trips to the Hudson, afternoons at the Rockaways, weekends in the Hamptons; most people love New York City summer because it means they won’t be in New York. IMG_7062 Though I generally prefer weekends spent in the city, ambling through West Village and generally exploring, weekend, Rob and I decided to hop out of town just for an afternoon to New Canaan, Connecticut. Funny how our idea of a getaway is a no-frills suburb where most people who live there commute into Manhattan. But the uber-preppy interior design shops, Colonial-style homes, and a gelato shop to satisfy my sweet tooth was just what I wanted on a sunny day. Four hours in, though, and we were happy to be heading home. I’m finding that maintaining a balance of getting out and seeing new things really does make coming home that much sweeter. IMG_7205 Yesterday, though, I couldn’t have been happier to enjoy an overcast, cool day listening to classical music, reading books and baking my favorite strawberry tart for the day’s 4th of July festivities. A recipe found on one of my favorite cooking sites, it’s super easy and makes a lovely presentation for a neighborhood barbecue. DSC_0037 Hope everyone made some wonderful summer memories this 4th of July! DSC_0039

Hello Again!

Sometimes the only way to discover where you are is to leave….

It’s been a few years, two apartments, countless decisions and too many experiences to recount here, but I finally feel like like this is a good place to say hello again, a place where I can offer something, even if only a bemused thought. A full-time job and a full-time life in New York can easily make you feel as though you’re still not doing enough, not contributing enough, not creating enough. I so easily immersed myself in this world just long enough to feel as though I had little left in my day that could be just mine and so there it went, the need to record, to share, to throw something out into the void and hope that it sticks somewhere.

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This glorious, towering, schizophrenic, indulgent, and often challenging place grates on my nerves and also makes me smile to myself during the most inconsequential moments that are rendered so beautiful because ultimately, they could only happen here. It took five days in my home state of Florida to recognize how much I love this city and it’s sense of purpose, it’s ability to continue to reveal itself to you, no matter how long you’re here. I was so ready to leave and take a break from the frenetic tension for a few days, to get out and escape, to be in a place of open spaces and languid nothingness. Always wondering where else I could live, where else I could be happy, I was suddenly surprised to wake up to the yawning sun’s glow reaching through my curtains this morning and feel content to be back, excited that this is my home. As soon as I let this gratitude take root, the day took on a new turn, curiosity where there was irritation, ease where there was exhausted effort, and just like that, I’m in love again.

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The walk past coffee shops on sleepy mornings, late evening museum visits, chance encounters with friends in the middle of the week, picnics in Central Park, and indiscernible languages in passing– there are so many things that fill me with pride and the thrill of all that has yet to be explored. One day I may leave New York, but for the moment this is my home, the place I chose to create a life and I hope to continue to see the beauty in the minutiae that often escapes us during routine. And as long as I notice and delight in this uniqueness, I’ll try my best to share a small piece of it with you here and there so that you may see the beauty in your day, the special little moments that make up a life. Let’s see how it goes…

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…And Everything in Between

Sandy through us all for a loop this week (nothing creepier than a New York that does sleep…in total darkness), but as we all get back to the frivolities of daily life and the modern wonder of electricity, I’m glad to be able to focus on something less troubling and more cheerful. Halloween is over and my mind is officially free to drift to thoughts of the holidays and colder days ahead.

Wish lists, gift wrap, holiday movies, sweaters, and peppermint chocolate are all in the mix and I can’t wait! And if there’s one store that I can’t wait to browse and window shop, it’s ABC Home. For anyone visiting New York with a love of design and in search of a unique gift, this store has it all. ABC Home offers a retail experience that is so quintessentially New York, so exclusive to this city and so refreshing in a world homogenized by globalism.

Jewelry, in-store designer clothing boutiques, stationery, tablewares, vases, lighting, upholstery, candles, it’s like this store was made for me! Even after walking into the store a million times, I only noticed how saturated the ceiling is with lighting fixtures a couple weeks ago once I started taking pictures. I never bothered to look up before because there’s already so much to look at on every other plane! Dense with goodness, ABC Home is the type of store where you know you’ll walk out with something entirely individual, exotic, and likely, handcrafted.

There’s an air of wonderland about the place as everything glimmers, glass sparkles and becomes pearlescent, delicate boxes reveal aromatic secrets, and everything hides, waiting to be discovered. This feeling only becomes amplified during Christmas time when fantasy completely takes over and glitter coats everything your eyes fall upon. Magical.

And all this only describes the first floor of this mega-boutique, since I have yet to thoroughly explore anything beyond that. In due time, I’m sure. The next time I attempt it, I’ll be sure to take a pit-stop at ABC Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants, if not my number 1. The only reason I haven’t posted about it yet is because the mood is too intimate and candlelit and the food too succulent and savory to spoil with photographs. For a special occasion, there’s no place better.

Visual inspiration, shopping thrills, and a culinary epiphany: I can think of few ways to better spend a November afternoon;)

The Big Apple


Remember last week when I said I needed an escape? Well, I managed to sneak out of the city just long enough to clear my head and remember there’s a world outside Manhattan. After months without leaving the island, apple-picking during the peak of fall seemed just the thing to do.

The first time I ever picked anything straight from the source was in Germany, where I picked strawberries from a friend’s nearby berry patch. I felt such a childlike sense of accomplishment at being able to do something as simple and natural as picking something from the earth and eating it an hour later. This visit to the farm felt just as illuminating, with thoughts like ‘wow, apples really do grow on trees” popping up in my mind as we strolled down the aisles of lush trees. I think it’s wonderful for local farmers to open up their businesses and allow the public to see firsthand how important the connection is between what we eat and where it comes from. Not only is it eye-opening, but so much fun!

More delightful than the simple joy of apple-picking, was the overwhelming beauty of the scenery, the real reason we were there. The drive to Pennings Farm was breathtaking, with painterly hues sweeping past as we drove and wide vistas overtaking us around corners. Wide open spaces that others take for granted thrilled us with their endlessness and the mundane quiet soothed the chaotic grating to which we’ve grown accustomed. I hadn’t really even noticed that the leaves had turned yet since we don’t have as many around. What a lovely reminder it was to see fall in full regalia.

Now, back to the apples. As we were getting ready to leave Sunday morning, I kept enticing Rob with all of the delicious apple treats that we would find at the farm. In jest, I said, “we’re gonna eat apple cider donuts, apple crumble, apple crisp, apple pie, apple butter, apple bread….” I tried to come up with as many apple treats I could think of, sounding like Bubba from Forrest Gump (if you don’t get the reference, stop reading right now, and go watch that movie!).

Well, once we got to the farm and breezed through the adjacent farmer’s market and brewery, inhaling the intoxicating scent of cinnamon and hot cider,  it was clear that there are a thousand different and enticing ways you can eat an apple. I’m only disappointed that I could only stomach ONE cider apple donut and a hard cider! I had lofty goals, though I did make it home with a jar of apple butter made on the farm and a quart of hard pumpkin cider. The perfect pre-Halloween brew. Trick or treat:)