Monday, May 23, 2016

The NYC Appetizer Crawl Continues - Monument Lane - West Village

Monument Lane 
103 Greenwich Ave

Happy Hour with Bar Menu
Weekdays 3pm - 7pm
Weekends 4pm - 7pm 

Pardon my shameless self-promotion but it's demonstrating how much I really like Monument Lane. In my latest novel, Dizzy: A Fictional Memoir . . .

. . . a very important scene in the book takes place in what is called, Farm To Table, which in reality is Monument Lane.

Monument Lane is a charming, rustically decorated restaurant, located in the west village. With an ever changing seasonal menu, they support regional farmers and growers while promoting sustainable culinary practices. It also has one of the most gorgeous bathrooms in New York City. An important barometer when judging restaurants, I think.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the West Village area was pastoral, with marshlands full of mussels and oysters and orchards of apple and cherry trees. Who knew? New Yorkers living in crowded "downtown" escaped the madness of city living by coming up to the "country" on a road called Monument Lane, which is now Greenwich Avenue. The restaurant has a beautiful and romantic dining room . . .

 and bar . . .

but my favorite place to sit is at the large communal table situated in the front corner window. But alas, it was taken. On a beautiful spring day like today, you'd think you were anywhere but in New York City. There are also several quaint tables outside that you can sit at.

Here was today's bar menu . . .

And you can't beat the prices - snacks $3 - $4, NY State wines $8 and Craft beers on tap $5. I ordered the Brussels Sprouts with Bartlett Pear and the Smoked Whitefish with Grilled Bread . . .

And a glass of their Cabernet Franc.

The lightly smoked whitefish was so fresh and luscious when topped on the grilled bread. The bread alone, was crazy delicious. I must get a flame grill for my NYC apartment. Or at the very least, a blow torch. Don't worry, I have a fire extinguisher. I just have to read the directions on how to use it.

And I love Brussels Sprouts and make them all the time but these were insanely addictive. Maybe roasted? Served with shavings of Parmesan and sweet Bartlett Pear and I think a hint of balsamic vinegar. These taste treats vanished within seconds. What a great and unexpected pairing of the vegetable and fruit. And the full-bodied Cabernet Franc was the perfect libation to enjoy with these appetizers.

Having arrived on the early side of Happy Hour, this quick glass of wine and yummy bar snacks hit the spot and held me over till dinner time. Can't wait to return...and I promise I'll have pics of the restrooms!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Merchant's House Museum - One Of A Kind! - NYC

Merchant's House Museum
29 East Fourth Street, New York,  NY

Walking East on Fourth Street in New York City is a tricky navigation. Every other lot there is either a building coming down or going up. And then there's road work. Car and truck congestion. Foot traffic. Everything is in a state of change and movement. Everything except for the Merchant's House. And thank goodness for that.

This amazing house is suspended in time. 1832 - 1865 to be exact. All the decor, furnishings and even clothing of the Tredwell family has survived and lives in this ancient beauty. It's a designated landmark on the federal, state, and city level.

Seabury Tredwell 1780-1865
Eliza Tredwell 1797-1882

Seabury Treadwell was a very wealthy merchant and he and his wife, Eliza, had 8 children. The youngest, Gertrude, lived in the house till her death in 1933.

Ground floor family room.

You have the opportunity to see how a wealthy family lived, day to day, in New York City as it was transforming from a mercantile seaport into a booming metropolis.

As decorating trends changed, instead of throwing out the beautiful divan, it was relegated to the family room, located in the front of the house, where the family often had their casual dinners.

Ground floor family room.
What you see are all the original furnishings, including the rug!

In the back of the ground floor was the kitchen, which first used the brick, beehive oven for all cooking and then in the 1850s a coal stove was installed.

In the corner of the kitchen was a bucket of coal, which the Irish servant girls had to lug all over the house. I picked it up and it had to have been 25 - 30 pounds.

Parlor hall, 1935.
"Up a steep and very narrow stairway" with buckets of coal and down with buckets of ash, that was hard work for the young women who received 3 to 4 dollars a month as pay.

Rain water was captured in cisterns and used for washing of dishes and laundry but drinking water, if you were rich like the Tredwells, was purchased and delivered to their house. Less wealthy people would have to go out into the street to the nearest public water pump.

Outside and beyond the kitchen was the garden. The outer ring of blue slate tiles are original but probably the center was grass and used for drying and bleaching linens in the sun. Behind the back wall were horse stables, which most likely created an unpleasant smell and to the right, a gigantic German ballroom was constructed, which played music day and night, to the Tredwell's dismay.

The first floor front room was the formal parlor. There's a rare rosewood square piano and a pair of matching gas chandeliers, one here in the front parlor and in the room behind it in the back parlor also used as a dining room.

Dinner time!

1850s gas chandelier.

Tredwell's study.
The front hallway on the second floor housed Tredwell's small study.

Next floor up was Eliza's bedroom in the back of the house. Currently there's an exhibition of women's undergarments that would have been worn during the day.

This bedroom is also where Eliza would birth her children, and take care of them when they were sick. And in the front of the house was Seabury's bedroom.

The next floor up were the children's bedrooms, which are closed now and used as offices. On the top floor were the servant's quarters, two to a room.

Servant's room.

And like in Downton Abby, the maids had servant call bells.

But what about the bathroom, you ask? Often family members did what we would call a sponge bath, very seldom sitting in a tub of water to bathe. They honestly thought that was bad for you. And as for the commode...a chair and a chamber pot!

But the Merchant's House is facing a real dilemma. Next door, a luxury hotel is due to go up and the house is fearful of any movement. Even shifting a 1/4 of an inch, which experts say is certain to happen, will cause irreparable damage to the original plaster walls and and cornices not to mention the overall structure of the very fragile building.

Standing proud and strong, all by herself, the Merchant's House Museum.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum plus more Appetizer Crawling

First destination is The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Located at 5th Avenue between 85th and 79th Streets it's a glorious but gigantic building. Like most museums of this size, it's best to pick an exhibit or a small section of the museum to explore, otherwise it's all too overwhelming.

I was here to visit the Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France exhibit.

Self-portrait of the artist.
Louise Elizabeth Vigée was a prominent French painter who arrived on the scene at the mere age of 19-years-old! She became the court painter preferred by Marie Antoinette.

It's amazing the amount of portraits she produced. And her ability to paint clothing and hair was exceptional. It's also said that she had the ability to recreate exact likeness of her subjects. This is one of my favorites of her paintings...a wealthy business man close to the King.

But with the rumblings of the French Revolution surfacing, fearing her close relationship with the Queen, Le Brun was smart and fled to Italy. There she was embraced wholeheartedly in Florence, Rome, and Venice. She then traveled to Vienna, Switzerland, and then to Russia where she continued to paint royalty. If you live in New York City or are going to be visiting, I highly recommend this exhibit - it will continue through May 15, 20016. Before heading off to an early dinner, I had to stroll through some of my favorite areas of the Met.

The Greek statues.
The American Wing. Look - Lampposts!!!
First stop on this continuation of the Dizzy Traveler Appetizer Crawl is Isabella's. Located at 77th Street and Columbus Avenue, this restaurant has been serving Upper West Sider's for decades.

Taking a seat at the bar, my appetizer crawling companion and I ordered the fried calamari and jalapenos served with a spicy red sauce and a creamy dill...

Fried calamari and jalapenos.
...and the charred artichoke heart salad with arugula and thinly shaved onions with a light vinaigrette.

Charred artichoke salad.
Both were delicious. I'm going to try to copycat the artichoke dish at home it was so yump-shish.

Walking back up town, we stopped in at Osteria Cotta located on Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets.

Not quite sure why I'm making this face.

I've been wanting to try this rustic Italian restaurant for months but it so popular, getting in was virtually impossible. But we dropped by on the early side and it was great. 5pm to 7pm is their happy hour and drinks are discounted as well as a list of their thin crust pizzas, which were only $7 each! One was definitely plenty for two.

We chose the prosciutto and BRUSSELS SPROUT pizza with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Yes, Brussels sprout = to live for! I'm going to try this one at home too. I inhaled it.

Buon Appetito!