Thursday, August 30, 2018

Another New Park for New York City

Domino Park is one of the triad of new New York City parks that opened this summer along the East River. What makes it different from the other two I recently wrote about is that it has a very industrial feel. No surprise, considering it references the 19th century Domino Sugar Factory -- once the largest in the world -- whose edifice stands across the street from the park’s expanse in this Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood. Salvaged sugar syrup collection tanks that stand almost 40-feet tall, crane tracks (as well as gantries now painted a signature turquoise) and almost two dozen steel columns are all part of the park’s design, as is plenty of elements designs for relaxation or physical activity, including a beach volleyball court, waterfront-facing wooden lounge chairs, a playground that also plays homage to the sugar factory (complete with silos). It’s easy to spend the whole day here, sunning, jogging along the esplanade, picnicking or lunching at the Danny Meyer taco kiosk. (The kids will enjoy the nearby water feature.)

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Art and Other Treasures in Hudson, New York

All it took was a two-hour Amtrak trip from Manhattan to Hudson, New York for me to be
enwrapped in a creative, bucolic environment. Disembarking from the circa 19th
century train depot, I started my adventure by wandering along Warren Street,
Hudson’s main drag that gently slopes uphill from the riverfront.  The buildings
lining this main street as as
well as the cross and parallel streets date back centuries and encompass an
array of architectural
styles, including Italianate, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival.

I chose to spend three days midweek in this Hudson Valley town where I knew the
vibe would be chill as opposed to weekends in the summer when droves of
Manhattanites and other tourists flood the streets. The downside is that many galleries
and some restaurants are either closed or, as far as the eateries, open only for dinner.
And few restaurants open early for breakfast.

Contemporary art peppers numerous outdoor spaces and I scoped out many of
these as I explored the town’s many nooks and crannies. Despite the fact that
the shops exude a Brooklyn hip vibe, Hudson also harkens to another long-ago era,
and melds the unexpected: a Vietnamese food truck easily blends in with an artisanal cheese shop.

These are my recommendations:

Where to Stay: The Hudson Milliner Guesthouse and Inn.  Set smack in
the middle of happening Warren Street, this charming inn could easily be
overlooked because, from the outside, it looks quite ordinary, a narrow
edifice with no sign. Each of the four rooms is named for a style of hat:
Cloche, Fedora, Bowler, and Top Hat. I stayed in The Cloche that, like the
other rooms, retains many of the features of this renovated former 19th
century hat  shop: Ornately carved vintage wooden bed, original window
glass, elaborate ceiling molding, fireplace with gilded mirror on the mantel,
claw foot bathtub. The creative and helpful owners -- Charlotte is a painter
and Shannon, a photographer -- deck out the public and private spaces
with their unique works.

Where to start the day: Tin Can Juicery, which opens early, at 7AM
and has a perfectly shaded patio to relax. I ordered a custom juice that
blended orange with pineapple, pear and lemon juice.
Where to have breakfast: Le Perche
This is the place to enjoy an utterly quiet breakfast in a lush backyard
garden. Among the many delights are delicious baked goods. The
breakfast egg sandwich is made with homemade brioche plus Gruyere
and avocado.
Where to have lunch: Talbott and; Arding
The prices are high but so is the quality at this shop where you order
sandwiches and salads and then, on a sunny day, take them outside to
one of several sidewalk-side tables. Farm-fresh peaches and sugar plums,
and heirloom tomatoes, as well as a salad of corn with arugula, and
thin slices of squash and hot peppers are some of my favorites.
Where to have coffee or a glass of wine: Or Gallery and Tavern
This is a comfortable, informal, funky cafe, bar, gallery set in a converted
garage that became my favorite place for coffee or a glass of wine.
(Or is the Icelandic word for arrow or scar, and apparently the owners --
one is a photographer and the other makes leather goods -- have a love
affair with Iceland. Their creations hang on the walls.) The large patio
out front, with simple wooden plank tables and benches, some with
cushions, and umbrellas makes for an informal hang
out to while away the afternoon or evening. (Tibet prayer flags are
strung all about.) Inside where Japanese-style paper lanterns hang
from the ceiling, light pours in through the wide-open garage doors
and windows.
Where to have dinner: Lil Deb's Oasis
Colorful, low-key and playful, this Mexican eatery is decorated with pastel
colors, and tall votive candles. Like so many things in Hudson, here
you’ll find some unexpected menu items. For example, I chose the salad
of the day, which consisted of heirloom tomatoes, radishes, and a peanut
sauce melded with a salsa and topped with sesame seeds -- it’s  spicy
and bold with flavor -- and side of plantains with a scrumptious cilantro
sauce. For a light dessert, I selected the coconut snow, which is made
with grated frozen coconut milk topped with pistachios and a little black salt.
Where to have dinner: Swoon Kitchenbar
If it’s Tuesday, then Swoon is the place to be for dinner to enjoy Taco
Tuesday. I sat at the bar under an elaborate tin ceiling with molding
where the contemporary art on the walls caught my eyes as did the
huge windows looking out to the street. I mingled with several locals,
finding out that we all came for the tacos, which change
weekly. This night it was chicken, served with rice in a tiny cast iron skillet.
And, luckily I saved room for dessert: Genoise, a sponge cake with a
lemon posset, lemon crumble, and a scoop of a roasted blueberry sorbet
along with fresh blueberries.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

New Waterfront Parks Along the East River

There's always something to be discovered in New York City, something that doesn't make it on the must do lists of most tourists. My recent discoveries are two new sections of already existing green spaces along the East River. A sunny day is perfect for boarding the NYC Ferry at East 34th Street and hopping off first at Hunter's Point South. The next extension that wanders along a peninsula provides scenic views of Manhattan's skyline, while also offering plenty of opportunities to walk or jog in solitude -- if you visit on a weekday early morning -- along paths that wander beside thickets of native plantings and some curious art installations.

When you're done soaking up the placid vibe, hop back on the ferry and disembark at DUMBO -- an acronym that means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass -- where you'll find the newly opened Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Adirondack chairs are just one of several different seating options -- even stone seats designed by Gunter Beltzig -- for those who prefer to relax. Otherwise, wander through a labyrinth where a parabolic reflector stands as well as other interactive curiosities, and explore the many repurposed historical features, such as bollards where ship ropes were once tied, and railroad ties. Or stroll to the one-acre sprawl of sunny lawn that's perfect for sunbathing.

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