Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great Find: La Maison Du Chocolat Opens On Wall Street

A while back, I had heard La Maison du Chocolat, my favorite Parisian chocolatier in NYC, was opening a shop at 63 Wall Street...i.e., in my neighborhood and in the building of my former residence no less, but it was only during my snowstorm jaunt on Friday that I discovered that the glorious event had already happened! A month ago, I was told. It's a nice sized store, smaller than the location on the Upper West Side, but comparable and perhaps slightly bigger than the Rock Center location. I noticed a small seating area in the back of the store for anyone who wants to mange in-store. In any case, I picked up my favorite Caramel macarons to celebrate...and they were as luscious as ever. I hope this store stays afloat during the economic downturn, as it's nice to have good chocolate in walking distance.

Happenings: First Big Snowstorm Of The Season

As a refugee from warmer climates, I have a love-hate relationship with snow. I'm still fascinated by the first snow of the season. I love the way the city looks blanketed in white, especially when I'm looking out from the warmth of my apartment. The city always feels quieter, calmer, slowed to a comfortable pace.

The part I hate is what comes afterward: the treacherous black ice left on the sidewalks and roads, the freezing temperatures, and the mess. Friday was pretty miserable -- snow, then freezing rain--the worst combination. And Saturday was so cold my toes felt like they were frostbitten after a short walk outside. Today was a little better, but I hear the wind chill's in the negatives tonight. I'm not going out to verify. But we survived. At least the roads are clear. And I've been through worse. I guess I'm closer to being a true New Yorker, now that I can say that.

Here are some pictures I took walking around the Financial District on Friday, after the storm.

The stock exchange:Stone Street:
Hanover Square:
Trinity Church:
Foot bridge at Rector St:

Christmas in NYC: Holiday Markets - Part 2



Last Saturday, I stopped into another holiday market, this time in the courtyard of St. Bart's at 50th and Park Ave. Bought some French cocoa dusted truffles that melt in your mouth and a photo for a friend homesick for NYC. This market's pretty small--just a couple short rows of vendors, but if you're in the area and you're looking for cheap jewelry or scarves, or chocolates or photos for that matter, it might be worth a stroll...

Things I Love About New York: Darn Cute Public Art

Last Saturday, I was running errands in midtown when I was stopped in my tracks by giant Sanrio characters (and Miffy, who apparently isn't a Sanrio character) in the form of bronze sculptures painted white by Tom Sachs.

The artist's site explains:
Working from the original toys, Sachs and his assistants construct enlarged versions using sheets of lightweight foamcore and glue guns, which are then cast in bronze, and ironically painted white to resemble the white foamcore surface. “Hello Kitty” and “Miffy” also function as outdoor fountains.
Here's My Melody...
Hello Kitty...
Hello Kitty again...
...and Miffy the Rabbit.
They really are a sight to behold. If you want to experience their grand innocence yourself, head to the Lever House plaza at 54th and Park.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happenings: Amanzi Tea Opens In Tribeca

I was on my way to Whole Foods today and noticed a new shop has opened in Tribeca at 166 Chambers near Greenwich St. Apparently, Amanzi Tea is part of a two-store chain (the other store is in South Carolina), and according to the employee who helped me, today was their NYC debut. They feature a full tea bar, where you can order tea lattes, bubble teas, tea cocktails, iced teas and baked goods.
You can also buy hundreds of loose-leaf teas in 1 oz bags ($3-5) and 4 oz canisters ($9-12). They have open canisters out so you can inspect the leaves and smell the teas. They sell tea pots, accessories too and gift sets too.

Bought some tea. Will let you know if it's any good.

Christmas In NYC: Buying Your Own Tree

Every year, City Guy and I enjoy buying a real life Christmas tree from our favorite tree vendor, which happens to be set up along the sidewalk outside a school yard in Tribeca, near the Chambers Street stop. They sell trees (and tree accessories and decorations in the tent) until Christmas Eve, at which time, they'll probably have sold out of their inventory (though if there are any trees leftover, they mulch them).

We usually pick up our tree over Thanksgiving weekend, but since I was sick, we did it this weekend. Turns out this past weekend is traditionally the busiest for Christmas tree vendors, according to the woman who worked there.

We looked at 5-foot Balsam firs and Frasiers from Canada and the South and settled on a very symmetrical, pretty little Balsam fir for $85 plus tax (the Frasiers supposedly smell stronger and don't drop as many needles, but they're $100 and up). They will deliver for $20, but at this size, you can just hail a cab and it will fit perfectly into the trunk (though we tipped the cabbie extra as he seemed peeved about the dropped needles in his trunk).

I've noticed trees outside of Whole Foods and Zeytuna this year, so you could also try your local supermarket. Though, these trees at Zeytuna are not the same fragrant Balsams or Frasiers. What kind of tree is this?

Christmas in NYC: Holiday Markets

On Friday, I stumbled upon my first Holiday market just outside the Bowling Green stop, in front of the US Customs House. A "mini" version of the markets you'll find at Bryant Park, Union Square or Columbus Circle, its highlights are an Italian sausage stand and Breezy Hill Orchard's apple cider and gingerbread stand, but as you know, I'm obsessed with food. Also lots of scarf and hat and jewelry vendors. So yummy - perfectly chewy, just the way I like it. They have gingerbread women too.

On Saturday, after our trip to the Museum of Arts and Design and before lunch at Nougatine, we strolled through the Columbus Circle market. This is a much larger market and is open everyday through Christmas Eve. Stopped at Breezy Hill Orchard's booth...again...but this time the gingerbread was harder than the day before. I prefer it chewy. Oh well. This woman sold German delicacies, hot apple cider and Gluhwein...oh and a German Advent Calendar. This market's got your requisite scarf and hat vendors (though I passed on a purchase, as the quality of the product seemed more suited for tourists who need to keep warm for a week than a native who needs cold protection for a whole season). Also craft vendors, like Vernakular, who sold journals with great NYC-centric photo covers (at $25 a bit pricey) You can buy jewelry, candles, toys, baby clothes, pocket hand warmers, games, and other knicknacks.

Even if you don't buy anything, just walking through the market and seeing the people and sights is a good time.

Things I Love About New York: The Holiday Season

After nearly two weeks of being sick with a cold, I'm 99% well (still blowing my nose, however). and finally able to enjoy the Holidays in NYC to the hilt. After five years of living in the City, I'm still in love with the way the city transforms itself between Turkey Day and New Year's Day. This year, I'm feeling particularly infused with the holiday spirit and hope to share it with you.

So here is my list of things that make up the quintessential NYC Christmas. Click on the headers for related blog posts:
  • Tree Lightings--Yes, I had to watch them on TV this year, but even after they're lit, they're worth visiting and gawking at like a five-year old. Rock Center, Wall Street, Bryant Park...
  • Buying Your Own Tree -- non-New Yorkers often ask me how we New Yorkers get our trees. There aren't Christmas tree lots here, not the way you get in CA, but there are Christmas tree sidewalk vendors. No joke. Photos and details of our tree shopping trip here.
  • Holiday Markets -- They're cropping up everywhere. NYMag has a great compilation of markets around town. I've already stopped into both the Bowling Green market and Columbus Circle market for my Gingerbread people fix (from Breezy Hill Orchards)
  • Ice Skating -- Rock Center and Wollman & Lasker Rinks in Central Park are old standbys; Bryant Park's The Pond is free, but the skates aren't very comfortable (for my flat feet, at least); I have yet to check out the new rinks at South Street Seaport and the Natural History Museum. Once I do, I'll report back.
  • Department Store Windows & Displays -- my favorite by far is Saks' Snowflake spectacular - words cannot describe, so here's a video but Bergdorf's, Barney's, Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Lord & Taylor all put on great displays.
  • Tickets to a Holiday Show -- In the past, I have really enjoyed the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and recommend you go at least once. This year, I'm in the mood for the Nutcracker Ballet. They're also doing Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" at the Marquis Theater.
  • Shopping!!!! - last but not least, what's Christmas in NYC without the amazing end-of-year sales. This year especially. I always start out shopping for others and end up buying stuff for myself. Do you?
Ho ho ho!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas In NYC: Stalking the Tree Lightings

Watched both the Bryant Park and Rock Center holiday tree lightings on TV, which was good enough for me, at least this year. I'll have to go one year when I'm feeling strong enough to stand out in the 40-degree cold for 3-4 hours, which is what I'm sure you have to do to get a spot in the crowd with a sight line. Bryant Park does it right - they lit their tree first and then cued up the entertainment. I just felt sorry for the folks at Rock Center - not only did they probably get there a couple hours early to find a good spot, they had to wait 2 more hours for Harry Connick, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers to entertain before the tree got lit. Since I'm not a 14-yo girl, that would have tried my patience.

There's another tree lighting happening today, however, in front of the Stock Exchange on Wall Street. Since it's just up the street from me, and it's not as "big" an event as the others, maybe I'll muster up the strength...here's the info:
The New York Stock Exchange will hold its 85th annual Christmas tree lighting on Broad Street between Wall Street and Exchange Place. Activities will begin at approx 3:15 p.m. A tradition since 1923, the NYSE’s tree lighting is believed to be the city’s oldest. Lighting this year’s NYSE tree will be the "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin. Ms. Franklin will perform two songs from her newly released, first ever holiday album, “This Christmas Aretha”. Also performing at this year’s tree lighting is Victoria Cuomo, Brendan James, the Monsignor Donovan Choir, Push Play, Tiffany Giardina, Gavin DeGraw, and the stars of the Broadway musical White Christmas.
It's Aretha Franklin, for Christmas sake! Miley Cyrus, eat your heart out.

Happenings: Cupcake Party

In yet another example of why I am growing quite fond of NYC, today, the cupcake blog "Cupcake Takes the Cake" is celebrating their 4-year blogiversary with a cupcake blowout. Grub Street reports:
with free cupcakes from folks like Crumbs, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Little Cupcake Bake Shop, Kumquat Cupcakery, and Butter Lane: “Prizes include coupons for free mail order cupcakes, cupcake cookbooks (Baked, Baking With Agave Nectar, Confetti Cakes for Kids), cupcake-themed novels, 2009 cupcake calendar, a giant cupcake-shaped cookie jar, red velvet cupcake mix, a cupcake necklace, cupcake t-shirts, cupcake flowers from 1-800-Flowers, and more.” Yay!! cupcakescupcakescupcakes!!!!The fĂȘte will be at White Rabbit from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m.
Sounds like sweet baked loveliness to me. Would like to go, but not sure I'll feel up to it. I've still got the sniffles, but feeling much better than I did on Tuesday. Bad news is City Guy has come down with my cold too. :(

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happenings: Not For Tourists Holiday Party

Here's another thing I'd be doing if I weren't sick....

NFT, the ever popular "Not For Tourists" guide to NYC, is celebrating their 10th anniversary by giving away free copies of their 2009 guide and free booze tonight in the Lower East Side.
Go here, print out the invitation, show up at 6 pm at Fontana's Bar, 105 Eldridge St, and live it up. I'm a sucker for free stuff.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On My Mind: My Holiday Cold & Where I'd Be If I Weren't Sick

Day six of my cold, seven if you count Thanksgiving Eve, which is when the fire in my sore throat broke out. I was hopeful this time that I could nip it in the bud, though 90% of the time a sore throat means a full battalion of cold symptoms will be marching through like clockwork. Gargled with warm water and salt and napped all Thanksgiving Day but to no avail.

Some people never seem to get sick. Some people are highly functioning cold victims--you'd never know even they were sick, and after a few days, they're back on the Stairmaster.

Me? I catch a cold 3-4 times a year (the average for adults, I'm told), at least one of those during the Holidays. Each cold lasts at least 7-10 days and always starts with a sore throat so painful I can't do anything else but think about the pain. Then there's sinus congestion, phlegmy lungs, a wet productive cough that keeps City Guy up all night (poor thing), chafed red nose and cracked lips, the loss of hearing, taste and smell, the mental and physical fatigue, culminating in a few days of neon green or yellow..never mind. Recovery is always slow and imperceptible, but after the 7-10 days, I'm usually better.

So, at this rate, I should be up and about town by the weekend. But unfortunately, I'll have missed a few key NYC holiday events, which I had planned on attending to get me into the holiday spirit. Maybe you can go instead?

Holiday Happenings I would be enjoying this week if I weren't sick:
  • Kissing City Guy under the mistletoe in Madison Square Park at the "Unbreakable Kiss" installation sponsored by A Diamond is Forever. The kiss would be recorded by 60 cameras, creating a video image of the moment frozen in time. Proceeds go to charity (through Dec 4, from 2-8 pm)
  • Attend "Holiday in Bryant Park" tree lighting celebration tonight -- an ice rink, a gorgeous tree, entertainment and Holiday craft fair -- what's not to love? I guess I'll have to watch it on TV...
  • Brave the crowds and go to the Rockerfeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony tomorrow - I know it's crazy, but this tree is legendary--it was first put up during the Depression to give us all hope--apropos, don't ya think?--and I LOVE it (see my snapshot above). Just once, I'd like to see those holidays lights switched on with my own eyes...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Word On the Street: An Experiment in Neighborliness in Brooklyn

I came across this article on Brooklyn Cohousing on the NY Times site this morning. Brooklyn Cohousing is essentially a real estate development in Brooklyn designed for 40 or so households who aspire to "village" life and all its neighborly benefits within an apartment complex. Each family has their own private apartment, but they know all their neighbors, can cook and eat meals in a shared dining room, vote on decisions that affect the community, hold art classes and other communal activities and watch after each others children. It's not as strict as a commune and sounds like a nice attempt to establish a sense of connectedness in the city. Only time will tell if this works in practice--it's not set to open until Spring 2010--but I, for one, think it sounds practically utopian.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Perspective: Small Apartment Insecurity & Entertaining

This photo ("borrowed" from NYT.com) of NY Times food writer Mark Bittman in his home kitchen made my day. As one of countless Manhattanites who suffer from what I like to call "small apartment insecurity," I thought here's one of us! And he's not ashamed to show the world he's got a small one...kitchen, that is.

I particular loved the discussion that this photo generated on the NYT site. Some were surprised that such a venerable food expert would be cooking in such a small, low on frills kitchen, but other astute commenters reasoned that the people with lavish kitchens are the very ones who order in all the time.

City Guy and I hardly ever entertain in our 555 square feet (68 of that a nice-sized kitchen) studio apartment and we never have overnight guests. That's more space than a lot of people in NYC have (and we have lovely high ceilings!), and it's all we need for the two of us. When I moved in with City Guy a year and a half ago, I thought we'd end up killing each other living in a studio, but now I think when we get around to buying our 1 or 2 bedroom condo, I'm going to miss the intimacy of always being in the same room as my husband. It's also easy to keep neat and clean, and we like that manageability.

That said, when it comes to having people over, "When we move..." is my mantra. When we move, I'll have dinner parties. When we move, my mother-in-law can visit. When we move, my friends will drop in at all hours.

Maybe Manhattan's thriving food culture is fed by legions of people just like us, who'd rather meet up with friends at a restaurant than invite people over to their little apartments?

The NY Times also had another great article about how couples are choosing to raise their kids in smaller apartments, just so they can stay in Manhattan. I completely relate to this love of Manhattan. The lure of more square footage is strong, to be sure, but I can also see making do in Manhattan at least until our kids (just theoretical at this point) reach an age when they need their privacy. It's an interesting dilemma, one that my friends in California just can't relate to--i.e., we live in an apartment the size of most of their guest houses.

The truth is I love that in NYC people do with smaller and less. In the "green" revolution, the rest of the world should be taking a cue from us. We use less electricity, take up less space, have a smaller impact on the environment.

So why such shame? Because more square footage and designer furniture signals money and status? Because in the rest of the country, living in 555 square feet seems down right third-world. Sure, but shouldn't I trust my friends to like me for me, not the size of my apartment?

Which is why I took a big step on Monday. I invited Funny Dude (I've known for almost ten years now, he's been to our place before, and he lives in a small apartment himself --figured he'd be most forgiving) over and cooked dinner for him. I cook for City Guy almost every night, but somehow cooking for someone else really made me nervous. I planned the meal in advance, shopped for ingredients and stressed about the preparation. The food didn't turn out as tasty as I had hoped, and it was an hour late getting to the table, but it was nice to have someone over, and I hope he'll forgive me for being such a disastrous hostess. It was my first time. No shame in that, right?

The upshot is it felt good. It's a small step on my road to recovery, and I hope I'm brave enough to keep do it again.

P.S. If you are suffering from "small apartment insecurity," the entries in Apartment Therapy's annual Small Cool Apartment Contest will inspire you. All entries are under 850 square feet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On My Mind: The Winter Blues and Its Cures

What a difference 20 days makes. Last time I posted, I was on a high from Election Day. Since then, the following circumstances have killed my buzz:
  • Just when you thought it could sink no further, the market fell another 1000+ points. My stock portfolio has now lost half its value, which means a> I feel poor and b> I am poor. The upshot of this is I have less disposable income for spending on two of my favorite NYC past times and blog inspirations: eating out and shopping. All the retailers are slashing prices like crazy, but this Girl Next Door won't even walk into a store to avoid the temptation to spend.
  • The temperatures with wind chill have dropped into the single digits, effectively killing movie night or weekend exploration. A movie's got to be damn well-reviewed to get me out of the house on the weekend, and it's too damn cold to be walking around aimlessly. The upshot: I am now more house-bound than ever. I really hate cold wearther.
  • I, like so many others, am feeling down about my career. My industry is laying people off right and left, making less money than ever and generally gripped by fear. An already tough line of work may be getting even tougher.
  • The days have gotten too damn short. It's pitch black at 4:30 pm.
Anyhow, I'm back and climbing back from the post-election/onset of winter blues. Here's how:

The cure to feeling poor is appreciating what you have. I'm keeping a gratitude journal...and cooking delicious dinners at home more often. Last week, I cooked dinner every day of the week. I know, big whup. But I live in Manhattan, my friend, and I consider this a feat.

The cure to being housebound is...well...cleaning your house. Did that yesterday. Got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the tiles even. Felt good. Felt in control. Board games and card games are my next project to keep me and City Guy entertained. I could also just bundle up and leave the house...

The cure to career insecurity? Reading about people like cookbook authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who raised two boys while traveling the world and eating....oh and occasionally writing to support their lifestyle. Featured in last week's New Yorker (registration required). Alternately, I'm vowing to try harder, persevere, keep learning.

The cure to short days and the maddening lack of light? A light box. Recommended by my doctor, I recently bought the Apollo Go Lite P2. I love this little thing. It's about the size of a paper back book and brings sunshine into your life, even when it's dark, overcast and dreary outside. Seriously. I love this thing. 20 minutes a day at breakfast, and I'm good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happenings: Election Day in NYC!!

The day is finally here! How excited are we?! So excited that my polling place, which is located in the lobby of the High School for Leadership on Trinity Place, was chocked full of people, mostly well-heeled yuppies, typing on their blackberries, dressed in their designer suits...oh and Russell Simmons, the music mogul. Very intimidating crowd. At one point, City Guy turned to me and said, all the women here look like Feist. That was pretty funny. But seriously, an hour was enough time for me to start questioning whether I was cool enough to live in this election district.

Anyhow, this is how it worked in my polling station. You had to stand in line twice--once to sign the voter registration book, the second time to use one of three voting machines for election districts 7, 10 and 95. The guy who worked our machine was saying in all the years he's worked elections, he's never seen it as crowded as it was today.

To give you a sense of how extraordinary this was--when I voted in the primary, I had ZERO wait. Today, I waited about an hour and 15 minutes to cast my vote. Not as bad as other places around the country, but what a difference a few months makes.

After waiting in line for over an hour, I'm unhappy to report the ancient mechanical voting machine broke down just before I got to use it!!! It got stuck! There was only ONE machine for our district, and they tried to call this number posted on the side of the machine for "Voting Machine Problems" but no one seemed to be answering, and no one working at the polling place seemed to know how to fix the problem.

Everyone left in line, including me, had to use paper ballots--they look like SAT answer forms. A bunch of pissed off yuppies joked about kicking the machine to get it working again. I hope these paper ballots get counted. This ship seems to have some leaks, if you know what I mean.

This is New York City! Why is our State so poor! Why is it little podunk towns in middle America have electronic voting and dozens of voting booths...and "I voted" stickers...when my precinct, which serves lawyers and bankers who work on Wall Street have only three rusty machines with levers...and no stickers by the way.

I live in election district #7, but I can't for the life of me find a map of Manhattan Election districts on Google, so I don't know what that means really. Another example of how arcane this election process is. Here are some pictures:

View of the room:
Where are our line begins:
Our line as it snakes around to the registration table...
Our goal....the little old ladies at our registration table!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cool Spaces: The New Museum

Today, City Guy and I spent the afternoon at The New Museum. Neither of us had been to the museum, which opened its newly architected space on Bowery last year, and although our main reason for going was to check out the Elizabeth Peyton exhibit, we were pleasantly surprised by how pleasant the entire experience was. The New Museum might just be my new favorite NYC museum, and here are six reasons why:
  1. The architecture is beautiful, modern and comfortable. Every detail, from the green elevators to the wraparound glass balcony rooftop deck is clean, airy, light, simple and modern. I love the cafe where guests can sit on designer chairs and munch on tasty cupcakes or cookies or pizza. Great menu. And the museum shop, though small, has unexpected delights, like the official New Museum Senz umbrella.
  2. The top floor rooftop deck, which is only open on weekends, but can also be rented out for private events, is gorgeous. What amazing views of the LES, Soho, Chinatown.
  3. It's the perfect size. Big enough to satisfy your art craving; small enough to make you feel you've conquered the thing (which you never feel at the Met or MOMA). The Peyton exhibit is drawing good numbers of people, but the galleries don't feel overly crowded. Because there's no permanant exhibit, the museum can devote multiple floors to one artists' work. Today, both the Elizabeth Peyton and Mary Heilmann exhibits were presented on two floors. Also, because it's probably off the radar for the average tourist, the crowd is more of an art crowd, so you feel like you're in the presence of other people who are there to appreciate the art, not just check off another NYC landmark.
  4. The exhibits are focused and well-curated. Both the Peyton and Heilmann exhibits are beautiful, thoughtful mid-career retrospectives. I look forward to seeing more contemporary artists at the New Museum.
  5. There is an education center on the 5th floor, open to the public, stocked with art magazines and books. We spent the better part of an hour in there, just reading Art Forum.
  6. The museum is located at Bowery & Prince Streets, not uptown like the other art museums in Manhattan, and celebrates the artists and culture it grew out of there, on the Bowery. The museum celebrates and supports its neighborhood, and that more than anything makes it feel like the real deal.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happenings: Bon Appetit Supper Club & Cafe

Every year, the Bon Appetit Supper Club & Cafe "pops" into town for a week, featuring cafe items designed by celebrity chefs, cooking demos and tastings in a beautifully designed space. Think a fancier version of Europa Cafe or Pret-a-Manger. You choose from sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts by chefs like Tyler Florence, Cat Cora, Mario Batali, Ben Ford or Charlie Trotter. They do dinner too, apparently, but by invitation only.

Today, on the penultimate day of the supper club, Mr. Aussie and I went to lunch there. We got there early, around 11:30 to avoid the midtown lunch rush and didn't have to wait in line at all. I ordered Cat Cora's Thai Chicken Salad Spring Roll and Ben Ford's Clam Chowder with Leek Cream and Applewood Smoked Bacon and Claudia Fleming's Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookie.

The clam chowder was my favorite item - really flavorful and not thick and heavy, like other clam chowders. The spring roll was really disappointing. Where was the dipping sauce? Also, this spring roll was the size of a burrito. Not very Asian at all. The brownie cookie was good too--moist like there was cream cheese in there--but ultimately, I've had better food elsewhere.

What really made the trip uptown worthwhile were a> the free Bon Appetit tote bag, b> the free copy of the November issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, c> the sample Ghiradelli chocolate squares and finally d> the gorgeous space. When you first walk in, you order your food, cafeteria style and pay.

Then you walk into the dining room, where they do cooking demos while you eat. The only problem is you couldn't really see what the chefs were doing because they didn't have one of those reflective mirrors over the cooking station. The fairy forest decor was stunning, and I just loved the gas fireplaces and cozy lounge areas. Upstairs, there's a cookbook bar where you can browse cookbooks by the various featured chefs, a wine & cheese sample bar, Maybelline samples, Ghiradelli chocolate samples, and Gold Peak Tea samples (great tea, btw - a new line from Coca-Cola).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happenings: Japan C

This afternoon, Miss Fashion and I went to Felissimo Design House on 56th St & 5th Ave to check out the 11-week celebration of Japan product design, known as "Japan C." On Monday, the exhibit will begin its final week, but for 10 weeks, each week has had a theme--for instance, paper products, Japanese make-up, household products, or Japanese foods, which was the theme this past week. The nice thing about going today is that you can see products from the entire run of the showcase all at once. And next week, they're having an auction to sell the items being displayed.

Don't be fooled by the anemic displays on the first floor. There's a lot more to see on the four floors of the design house. Some of the stuff they're showing you could just as easily find at a Japanese grocery or department store--stationary, Hello Kitty figurines and bento boxes, for instance. But there were a few items that jumped out at me.The freeze-dried Koya tofu you see on this table caught Miss Fashion's eye. Just soak in water, and you have tofu!Okurin--officially marketed as "recyclable gift bags" - these bunny shaped canvas bags unzip at the mouth and hold things. I love that the Japanese so love to give gifts they've developed an eco-friendly way to do it.Cedar laptop case, anyone?Not like we haven't seen stuff like this before, but how cute are these persimmons, each with their own facial expression?

Nezca--Swarovski-studded rope essentially. Crafters, let your imaginations run wild.Random dogs in aloha shirts.At first glance, a platter of lovely cakes and parfaits...On closer examination, they're made of towels!
A "file cabinet" style recycling in-home recycling station. Perfect for cramped Manhattan kitchens!