Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nature In The City: Begonia Still Lives!

Just a quick note to say that one month after taking her home, Begonia is still alive and flowering. If you knew how many plants I've killed in the past, you'd be hooting too. I'm like a new mother, sticking my fingers in her soil every few days to ensure she's getting enough water, but not too much, moving her from one side of the windowsill to the other, so she can bask in the summer rays. I worry about her leaning tendencies, but she's still flowering, and she's my very own bit of green in this concrete jungle, and that makes me happy.

On My Mind: Volunteer Opportunities

I've been itching to feel useful and connected to the city, so I've been thinking about volunteering. Literacy for kids and adults, meal preparation and delivery, job force training--these are all areas I have both skill and interest in. So we'll see. I'll let you know what I decide.

I volunteered a lot more when I was younger. In high school, we were required to log 100 volunteer hours to graduate--I did my hours as a volunteer in a newborn nursery in an army hospital, where fathers were often overseas when their babies were born. In college, I organized our dorm's homeless shelter program and served leftover dining hall food to some surprisingly picky eaters. When I was in LA, after 9-11, I volunteered for the Red Cross Disaster Services and Amnesty International because I was in mourning over how disconnected Americans, myself included, were from the rest of the world.

I did notice these meetings were mostly attended by people who were old and/or marginalized--by the latter, I mean unemployed or stay-at-home types or opinionated do-gooders. I used to look around and wonder where are the smart, young, energetic people were. These organizations really needed their brains. They were making a living, I guess.

One of the reasons I don't like living in NY is that I feel I'm more self-centered here, and I think my lack of volunteer efforts is one symptom of that. More than any other place I've lived in, there's a pressure in this city to make it, and that means focusing on me, me, me and....oh yeah, me.

So, I'm going to make a pledge: by week's end, I'm going to contact a couple organizations I've been checking out online. I don't know why typing that freaks me out--"Oh no! A regular time commitment to someone other than you and City Guy! But there's your work, and your social life, and your hobbies, and television!!!" That's my ego talking. Can someone shut her up?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stuff I've Learned: Friends Move Away

I have a friend--let's call her Poetess. Poetess and I met during grad school and instantly connected over our love of tea, food, common alma mater and left-brained husbands. Over the years, she's been the kind of friend I can meet for lunch and spend an entire afternoon with, laughing and commiserating over something or another.

This week, she's moving out of the City. Like so many other friends I've met since moving here, she is leaving (her husband got a job in another city), and God knows when I'll see her again. Hopefully soon, but it's hard. I have friends I love in LA who I haven't seen in almost five years.

Maybe it's just my circle of friends, but sooner or later, the question of leaving always comes up , and, in many cases, the answer is "It's time." She's at least the fourth close girlfriend of mine to leave the city in the last few years, and every time, there's a space left in my life that is never quite filled again. And I wonder, is there something about NYC that makes a person feel there will always be an end? Do most of us come knowing it will be home just for a little while, not forever?

In a city where it's so hard to break through people's defenses and find a true friend (especially when you're out of school), each person lost is not easily replaced. Could this be why, I, too, think I'll eventually leave? And if so, can I ever convince myself this City is home?

Today, we had shared our last pots of tea, and said our final goodbye on a corner in Astor Place. "I'll be back," she said. To visit, she meant. And I promised her I'd try to visit too.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stuff I've Learned: Sneakers Are a No-No

On Saturday, I went to Woodbury Commons Outlets with Miss Fashion, a friend who I would call a fashionista, except that suggest she's a snob about fashion and really, she's very nice. Not Devil Wears Prada at all...except for the wearing Prada part. In fact, she wore the above pictured 4-inch Prada heels all day on Saturday - and we were shopping from 9 am to 7 or 8 pm or so. I, myself, never leave the house in flats or running shoes, unless I'm doing actual running, but I figured, outlet stores, lots of walking, sensible shoes needed. So I wore these cute new ballet flats I have, but still by end of day, I had a bloody heal and my metatarsals felt like they were going to snap off. Suffice it to say, around 3 pm or so, I wished I had thwarted fashion and just worn sneakers. I envy Miss Fashion. As I limped back to the car with my loot on my flat feet, she was still strutting those Prada heels.

Which brings me to my point: it's hard work keeping up in NYC, much harder than in LA. Here, if you want to be a stylish Manhattan girl (I can't speak for the other boroughs), you've got to keep up! From what I've noticed, this means, well...

a> Not wearing athletic shoes of any kind when walking the city. Doing so runs the risk of being mistaken for a tourist. Being a Manhattan girl means suffering...that's what those bunion surgery ads on the subway are for.
b> Keeping up with the seasons, that is. Even if you only buy a few key pieces a season, you must be informed...and ideally, you're informed a year ahead, from having stalked the designer collections hot off the Fashion Week runways on
c> Middlebrow, alas, doesn't cut it. I'm not saying there's not a lot of girls walking around in BR, FCUK, and H&M, but let's face it, if you only shop at those stores, you're wardrobe is going to be a bit cookie-cutter. Don't tell me you've never seen some girl wearing the same BR dress as you! There's this immense pressure to step it up, to integrate a few "real" designer pieces into your wardrobe...that means dropping $300-1000 on a shift dress this later, you can throw your H&M scarf around it and have people marvel at your resourcefulness. Don't believe me, check out the Sartorialist or Altamira.
d> Same goes for bags and accessories. You think they can't tell you're carrying a Canal Street LV knock-off, but they can. Other brands with no cache: Coach, Dooney & Burke, Kenneth Cole, anything you get at JC Penney's...
e> Even if you think the trend is ugly, seeing all the pretty girls wearing it warps your brain into thinking you want it too...e.g., Ugg boots, ponchos, flip flops, sack dresses in past seasons, and this season, floor-length floral muu-muu-style dresses

Yes, dear hearts, it's enough to break the bank and break your heart to think of even keeping up. This is why I'm beginning to think if you're not filthy rich, preternaturally spiritual or just blissfully ignorant, you're always going to be a bit dissatisfied living in the city...No matter how fabulous your wardrobe is, there's always next season, waiting to kick your ass. Enjoy the summer!

Things I Love About New York: Perfect Summer Weather

Blue skies, a gentle breeze and temperatures in the 70's. This is perfect. Freeze frame! Oh darn, I'm not God. I don't control the weather. I was at Walgreens in Union Square yesterday, and they had a whole aisle devoted to fans...not people who like Walgreens--I mean fans, like the kind you position at the end of your bed at night to circulate the stiflingly hot summer air in your sixth floor railroad apartment in the Village...or so I'm told. I can't imagine living in the city during the summer without air conditioning. My condolences if you don't have it. It's one thing that does make life in the city more comfortable.

Cool Spaces: The Ziegfeld Theater

Went to the historic Ziegfeld on 54th and 6th Ave. for the first time on Friday night to join the adventure-seeking hordes for the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull first Friday premiere (technically, the movie opened the night before). That's one grand space. Old school single screen Broadway theater with multiple tiers of seating and red velvet walls. Supposedly seats over a thousand. All that's missing is the tuxedo-clad organ player. I don't know if the Indy film was really as good as it seemed, or if being in a fancy-pants theater helped, but by end credits, the audience was clapping with glee. Reminds you that people once took their movie watching seriously.

NYC Life Made Easier: Automated Postal Center

When I was a kid, I had an odd fascination with the post office. That distinctive smell of postage stamps and envelopes that hits you when you walk through the door was reassuring somehow. Everything felt very organized in post office world. Good things would be coming in the mail...if you waited long enough. Of course, I was at an age when mail addressed to me consisted mostly of birthday cards, letters from pen pals and long-awaited cereal box rebate toys.

I still have a fondness for post offices, but in NY, they always seem to have lines. And my nearest full-service post office is at least 10 blocks away, north of Ground Zero, and like I said before, New Yorkers prize efficiency. In LA, at least I could drive to the post office with my big packages.

Some time last year, we were walking in the neighborhood and noticed this empty little street-level store with these machines against the wall. Turns out, it's a post office...without postal workers. They're called automated post centers (APC). At first, I wasn't sure I could trust these machines. Was someone coming out regularly to calibrate these scales? Could I get my mail insured here? Or send my stuff priority? Turns out I can do almost everything I can do in a post office at this quiet little automated postal center. And usually, when I go, there's not a single other person there. Is nice. I like.

Anyone else have one of these in their neighborhood? I'm not talking about the APC's that are in the full-service post offices, off to the side, for those sick of waiting in line. I mean, these empty storefront ones. I did have a crisis of conscience at one point - how many postal workers would lose their jobs if these machines took over the world? Then I figured, the postal clerks don't seem very happy anyway, and this way, they can work behind the scenes, sorting and delivering the mail without interacting with the public. Should be a win-win situation, right? Still, the APC doesn't smell like the real thing...and I will miss browsing the pretty collectible stamps. They don't have those either at the APC.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happenings: New York Photo Festival

I can't believe it's taken me this long to explore DUMBO. I always swore that I wouldn't become the kind of person who never left Manhattan, but today I realized I was this person. If not, I would have known how cool DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, its neighbor, are--way before now. Even in shitty rainy weather (yes, the rain and cold returned), I could see that.

Had a pain au chocolat at Almondine. OMG. So flaky, light, chocolatey. Passed this hot little boutique called Zoe. I didn't get to go in b/c I was running late, but their cute bags were calling my name. I'll be back. Then walked the NY Photo Festival for four hours--mind you, my quads were like stones from my run yesterday.

The upshot is I really enjoyed myself and am glad I forced myself to go. Saw some amazing photos and rekindled my romance with photography. Discovered some photographers I just didn't want to forget, including:
Yes, I've been a prisoner of Manhattan, and this has got to end. Boy, did I walk a lot in my 3-inch heels, though. Maybe it was just where I was, but I had to walk 18 minutes from my subway stop this morning. If I'm going to spend more time in other boroughs I'm going to have to buy some more practical shoes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm alive!

The weather gods must have heard my cries b/c the weather for this morning's race was so beautiful it made me feel all warm and tingly inside. 50 degrees, sunny with a light breeze blowing - perfect running weather. And yes, my friends, the fact that I am here to write this post is proof that I finished the Healthy Kidney 10K this morning, my first race since Dec 2005, and I lived to tell the tale. I'm not going to embarrass myself by telling you my time. Let's just say of the 6273 people racing today, I was cruising in the back of the pack.

But I had a very zen moment as hundreds of runners whizzed past me--sometimes being in the back of the pack has its advantages. You can breathe easy--at least figuratively. People aren't elbowing you for room. There's no shame in huffing and puffing up hills or even walking when your legs give out. It's very forgiving there in the back of the pack. Contrary to my greatest fear, I was not the last place finisher, and I enjoyed myself. Just another reminder that when you take the ego out of living in NYC, it's really not that bad.

Today was also my initiation into color-coded bibs. Starting in April, the NY Road Runners are using a corraling system that requires you to line up at the start line based on your pace. "NYRR-member entrants with an NYRR race history will be assigned based on that history at the time that they registered for the race." This means, there's no way you can fudge your pace b/c they know your last best time. Your race bib is actually the scary fast runners are blue or red and then it's yellow, green, orange, light blue, pink (c'est moi!), purple, gray, and brown, in that order, from fastest to slowest--for a sum total of ten colors.

I think the pink is a very pretty myself, but I was remarking to City Guy (who wore yellow) that this color coded bib thing was soooo New York. I mean, now, everyone can tell how fast or slow you are by the color on your chest, so knowing how competitive New Yorkers, people are going to be raring to earn those "fast" color bibs as some kind of badge of honor. I know I intend to--as much as I really do like pink. The truth is, with today's dismal performance, I may be donning purple or even gray my next time out, but with hard work, I know light blue or even orange are well within my grasp! Bruhhaaaaaa! Happy running!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bitching About The Weather

Just for a moment, can I say I'm sick of this weather? Yeah, I know Michael Bloomberg's outdoor plants need watering, but it's May 16th, and I'm still wearing my winter clothes because it's 50-degrees out and raining without end. With wind chill, it's in the 40's. Can you believe this? All I want to do is take a nap!

Doesn't it feel like the sun's been out only a few days this spring? When, oh, when will the sunshine return? Where or where could it be? Probably in California. Oh no you didn't! Yes I did!

Maybe the gloom and doom will lift tomorrow. The forecast is for 70-degrees and sun. I'm supposed to run a 10K at 9 am. I do hope the weather is good, so I don't catch my death of cold. I haven't been training consistently, so the race is going to be painful enough without being rained on. Plus, these New York Road Runners are hard core - they just zip right past you up those Central Park Hills. I used to think a 10 minute-mile pace was pretty decent. In LA, it's all good. They pat you on the back for trying. Here, a 10-minute mile means more than half the runners in the race are faster than you. To really be respectable, for a woman, you have to run an 8-9 minute mile.

This will be the first race I've run since 2005. I was pretty serious about my running back them. Took a running class with the Road Runners and was faster than I'd ever been. Now, I'm a slow poke again, and I could quite possibly be finishing last tomorrow. See those guys in the picture? They'll have finished the race, eaten their bananas and bagels...maybe a second helping..., changed out of their running shorts and gotten on their subways home before I cross the finish line.We'll see. I keep thinking, "A for effort! A for effort!"

Either way, I'll be motivated to train better. I signed up for a few races this summer, as part of my training for the NYC Marathon. Yes, that's right. After two years of postponing my guaranteed entry, I'm going to try and run it this year. City Guy's running it too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This NY Moment: Motorcycles Shut Down West Side Highway

On Saturday, hundreds of motorcycles rode through Manhattan, shutting down the Westside Highway for at least 30 minutes. It was a sight to behold. Every type of motorcycle you could imagine--small ones, big ones, Harleys, Hondas--and the men and women who rode them, each with their own style, from skull masks to German helmets. I don't know where they came from or where they were headed, but seeing such a large number of people united in a single passion was pretty cool.

Cool Spaces: The Battery Park Bench

City Guy and I went walking in the neighborhood this weekend and found ourselves at one of our favorites spots. It's a bench--a very modern, well-design bench--that is set right outside the Battery City authority office and the river esplanade in Battery Park City. We love reclining on this thing and staring up at the sky and the tree that shades it, especially on a beautiful spring day. It really is one of the most relaxing, romantic little spots we know of. It's like having an outdoor bed. Anyone know how it got there? Or who designed it?

Great Find:Financier Patisserie

People always complain that the Financial District isn't homey, and well, it may not be as homey as some other parts of NYC. But if you're looking for a place to have coffee with a friend or are craving some french pastries, Financier Patisserie on Stone Street is a great spot for a number of reasons.

1> It's on Stone Street, a historic cobblestone street that still smacks of the days when George Washington was hanging out in the 'hood.
2> I love french macarons. They are one of my favorite things in life. Good ones, that is. Not those dry little round imposters some cafes pass off as the real thing. And Financier's got decent ones. Moist, good flavors. It's no Laduree or Pierre Herme, but when one can't get to Paris, one makes do. They've also got palmiers, madeleines, and an amazing looking apple galette.
3> They serve Illy coffee, which I have it on good authority is quality coffee, notches above Starbucks. In the morning, your coffee order comes with a yummy little financier.
4> Gelato!
5> It's not Starbucks!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stuff I've Learned: How to Pass for a Native New Yorker

Came across a couple of articles on the Interwebs today that I thought you'd find either apt, incensing or hysterical. They happen to be at BTW, I never read the NY Post, even when they pass them out in the mornings for free. Is reading the Post one of those things only natives do? But I digress.

How to Pass for a Native New Yorker is a profile of the Magic Garden, a party you can't get into unless you can prove--by answering a battery of tricky questions--that you were raised in NYC. The woman who organizes the event is quoted as saying,"New Yorkers have this reputation of being cold and pushy. But it's really only the people who move here from somewhere else who act that way." Nice theory...might be true. Come to think of it, I don't know a lot of born and bred New Yorkers.

The article goes on to say, "Schneider, ...started the Magic Garden in 2001 to build connections among locals in a city overflowing with transplants from across the country." Is that a little xenophobia I smell? Still, the idea of a reconnecting with old classmates and kids from the neighborhood is nice. You know what they say about wanting to be a part of a club that doesn't want you as a member. Now, I'm intrigued. Could we transplants start our own exclusive party? You get in not by proving you went to my high school, but by proving you're lost, lonely and bewildered--together, we could figure out why we're all so "cold and pushy."

If you're trying to pass for a native New Yorker, you could follow these words of advice. I'm no judge of what's native, but these tips seem pretty accurate. Though they do give the impression that our city's full of impatient assholes, don't they?

What do you think makes a person "native"? The way you dress? How fast you talk? Your level of snarkiness? How unphased you are by puppies, babies and Hallmark ads? How you don't think twice about walking ten blocks in heels? Your strong calves and ugly feet? I'll think on this if you do.

P.S. OMG. Our work is done. Check it out. Time Out NY's take on this is brilliant.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On My Mind: Do You Know Your Neighbors?

Maybe it's because I live in a rental, or because I live in a high rise building where you don't get to bump into your neighbors in the stairwell on a regular basis, or because this is NYC and people come and go, but the fact is I don't know any of my neighbors. I'm a friendly person. I don't have trouble talking to most people. In fact, when I first moved here from LA, I realized some New Yorkers would get suspicious when you smiled and said hello for no reason. Either that, or they took your friendliness as an invitation to stalk you.

I've lived in three different buildings in the city since moving here, and in not one of them did I know the names of the people who lived on either side or across the hall from me. The other day, I'd just come home and put the key in the lock when I noticed the door to the next-door apartment open up, and I swear, someone stuck their head out and seeing me, popped right back in like a mole in a hole. That's my quiet neighbor. I imagine he's the one who's listening in when City Guy and I have our little spats.

I don't fault him or her. I've had a similar skittishness about seeing my neighbors. It would have been okay had we introduced ourselves when we first moved in, but now, I know too much about them. The walls are thin here. To the east is the quiet, skittish neighbor who snores so loudly I have to wear earplugs to sleep. To the west is the loud couple who fights when they come home drunk at 3 pm. I feel like I know them--the guy's got a southern accent and is always yelling from across the apartment for his girlfriend- "Honey!!"--just once, couldn't he just get up and go to her? He's so g-d loud! If it's not yelling at his gf, he's shaking the walls yelling f-bombs at the TV or screaming into the phone at god knows who. You can understand why I don't go over and introduce myself.

I fantasize that when we move to a condo, we'll meet everyone on our floor, and our future kids will have play dates with kids down the hall and when I'm bored, I can just trot down the hall and call on Lucy or Ethel. Wouldn't that make this city feel more like home? Then again, does living in NYC mean the freedom of anonymity? Is neighborliness just a fantasy? Anyone experience this problem? Anyone have advice on how to solve it?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

On My Mind: What Makes a Home?

In light of the stated mission of this blog, I was wondering. Is there a checklist of things that make a city feel like home? I thought about other cities I've called home and what made them so and came up with this little list. What do you think?
  • Knowing where to find what you need--whatever it is--a good massage, a great formal gown, low-priced cheeses, vintage records, party favors... [great finds]
  • An intimate knowledge of your neighborhood and a working knowledge of other parts of the city [street-by-street, cool spaces]
  • Knowing how to get around most efficiently. In LA, this meant knowing what freeways got you from point A to B most quickly; in NYC, it's knowing what subway lines get you from point A to B most quickly, with the fewest transfers, or avoiding crowds. [stuff i've learned]
  • Food--a handful of places where the staff recognize you when you show up; a few gems no one knows about but you (or so it seems) [great finds]
  • Friendly faces, friends and a sense of community...b/c if no one in the entire city cares if you live or die, you're no better off than the woman who dies and gets eaten by her cats [people]
  • A house or apartment you like living in. Can you really feel at home in a city if you're living in digs you can't stand? If you dread going home, the city can't feel like home. [cool spaces]
  • Having coping strategies--how to minimize your exposure to bad weather, how to avoid crowds, how to avoid traffic, when to show up to X theater to get good seats for movie opening this weekend, when and where to buy tix for Y festival before all seats are sold out. [stuff i've learned]
  • An appreciation of the quirky, unique facets of the city's culture [have you noticed...?, only in new york, gotta love it]
I figure now that I have a list, I can systematically work towards making this city feel like home. You'll notice I'm using subheaders to introduce some of my posts. I'll use them so you know when I'm covering these various "home requirements"--like Street-by-Street (a detailed walking exploration of neighborhoods), Great Find, People, Cool Spaces (architecture, real estate, urban landscape), Nature in the City, Happenings...I fully expect my definition of "home" will evolve with time, experience and your input, but I'm excited to see where this little experiment takes us. Until next time...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happenings: Tribeca Film Festival - Part 2

I watched my second film at the Tribeca Film Festival today--"Sita Sings the Blues." A gorgeous, smart, layered, romantic, tragic, funny modern animated version of the Indian legend of Rama and Sita and their complicated romance (at least from Sita's POV).

The filmmaker, Nina Paley, is one of those humble artistic geniuses that you love and envy all at once. She's a one woman production team, and it took her 5 years to do this film with multiple animation styles from comic strip to Mughal art to cut out animation to shadow puppetry. When Sita "sings" the blues, we are actually hearing little-known blues singer Annette Henshaw's 1920's recordings. The music is just lovely and I wish I could buy the soundtrack. Hell, I wish I could buy the entire movie.

It was a Friday matinée and much more crowded than yesterday when the theater was half filled with elderly couples, elderly mothers with their film geek sons, and loners with their backpacks. Today's film was shown in a much larger theater and filled almost seat for seat with a great cross-section of people (Indians were well-represented, of course) at 3 pm.

Nina Paley and her cast and crew graciously answered questions afterwards. "The Internet's been good to me," she said at one point. Paley helped fund the project from anonymous donations from people who read her blog.The film does not yet have distribution, and apparently people always ask Nina if she plans to show the movie in India, but it's a tricky thing b/c Hindu's might be offended by the portrayal of the god Rama.

Happenings: Tribeca Film Festival - Part 1

I'm a day late with this post, but my love and enthusiasm for Eduoardo Coutinho's "Playing (Jogo de Cena)" is unabated. I know it's a cliche, but the film did make me both laugh and cry, and I think that's a difficult thing for a film to do. More importantly, the film is so deeply human, and you walk away feeling more connected the beauty of the prosaic, especially in your own life.

You sit there and listen to a series of real women tell Coutinho their stories of love, losing children, unwanted pregnancies, bad marriages, complicated relationships with their children, the pursuit of their dreams, and you are reminded of what amazing stories every human being has. But then, the director challenges you even more by editing in footage of actresses "mimicking"(though that word suggests parody, and these actresses actually stay brutally faithful to the real woman she's playing) the same words the real women used in a kind of "staging" of the real woman's interview, and because sometimes Coutinho has the actress telling the story first, and then the real woman, and sometimes vice versa, it's a strange effect - very often it's sometimes impossible to tell who's the real woman and who's the actress.

What's the point, you ask? For me, I think it was a reminder of how real life can have the magic of fiction and how fiction can carry the weight of reality, a thread of humanity--either way, we're moved. I'm grateful for the Tribeca Film Festival for bringing films like this into my life.

One other thing: before the screening, I loved watching the clever, beautiful, striking animations done by the School of Visual Arts students (see photo).

Great Find: Ibiza Kids

A friend of mine had a baby last month, and I've been putting off buying a baby gift b/c I didn't want to do the easy and generic thing and just go to Baby Gap or Babies R Us. I've always known there are a number of these beautiful little baby gift boutiques around NYC, but never really took note. Yesterday, I found Ibiza Kids on 4th Ave, betweeen 10th and 11th st.

You could easily pass this place by, as it's on a less trafficked part of the Astor Place area, but it's a great source for lovely, unique baby clothes, shoes, toys. They sell fairy wings for girls and the most stylish little shoes and of course, sassy little onesies, like the one I purchased. Isn't this a riot? It's very 2008, don't you think? When my friend's son gets older, if they keep this onesie around, it can be something they can laugh about.

Great Find: East Village Cheese

Yesterday, while killing time before the screening of "Playing" at the Tribeca Film Festival, I wandered into East Village Cheese on 3rd Ave, just south of 10th for the first time. I found to my delight a small, unpretentious store (they advertise their specials on butcher paper stuck to the storefront window, as seen here) stocked full of inexpensive, high quality cheeses, first and foremost, but also olives, baguettes, imported cookies, drinks, crackers. Just to give you an idea of how good their prices are, a pound of brie cost me $1.50, whereas it's $3.50 at Zeytuna, and $4.00 for a pound of mozerella (vs. $9+ at Whole Foods). I guess I've found a new favorite gourmet food store.