New year, new camera. I’m starting this year with quiet resolutions and quiet hope. My heart is also full of the fact that I’m to be made an auntie in just a matter of days – and, well, fresh starts don’t come much better than that, do they?
Leaving politics at the door for the next ten minutes: I’d been to New York three times before we went again at the end of last month. We’re talking aged 10, 12 and 21 – so let’s just say: it had been a while. Despite my three-timer status, I’m still a novice and I still get caught out by $22 G&Ts and tasteless breakfast grits. That said, my city-break skills have improved with age, so I like to think I really got some things nailed, this time. Things like:
The beer. Hands down, it’s got to be Brooklyn’s Tørst – largely thanks to its drinking vessels, but also thanks to its delightfully Danish-inspired interiors, an extensive and varied beer list, knowledgeable staff and tasty bar snacks (plus a seasonal tasting menu offered out the back to those in the know – but you don’t need to splash out in there to make the most of the rest). Meanwhile, over on the edge of Manhattan’s East Village, nip into McSorleys Old Ale House for a taste of the real thing.
Pizza to die for. You know what they say: if it’s good enough for Beckham and Beyoncé, it’s good enough for me. With that in mind, get yourself to Lucali on Henry Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, don’t be late, and order everything (I mean it). Without doubt: my favourite pizza experience ever – and I’ve been to Naples. We also happened to be staying around the corner from Roberta’s which doesn’t rival Lucali but beats anything I’ve been lucky enough to find in London.
The steak. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be steak in NYC if you didn’t a) eat it in Manhattan and b) have to dive into your savings to pay for it. Tick and tick at Keens. Perfect service & perfect food served to our white-linen clad table in the cosy booth we didn’t even have to ask for. For the win. My only regret is that were off to a gig so I couldn’t take my leftovers (there were many) with me.
Falafel. Sorry, we’re still on food. But if you’re crazy for a bit of the chickpea good-stuff (who isn’t?), head to Taïm and watch the Nolita (or West Village – there’s one there too) world go by. We found it to be the perfect lunch-time pit-stop – for those times when you’re ravenous from all that shopping, dinner’s still hours away and you’re after excellent, tasty value for money.
The bridges. Okay, okay. So Brooklyn Bridge just has to be done. I’ve trod its boards four times now and it’s true – it’s iconic and makes you feel like you’ve really arrived. However, can I just bang on about the Williamsburg Bridge for a moment? It may be long, but it’s also gun grey and bubblegum pink and all kinds of brilliant industrial mastery. Aka: love at first sight.
A view. Controversial though it may be, Top of The Rock still wins for me. It’s a great view of Central Park from the Empire State, granted. One World Observatory would’ve been a better view on a better day (hello, haze) but overall feels like one big up-sell. It’s Top of The Rock, I’m afraid. There’s something about that fresh air, all the way up there, and those uninterrupted views that the glass surround allows. Meanwhile, for a Brooklyn → Manhattan view, while you’re actually sipping a Brooklyn View (Greenhook gin, Velvet Falernum, grapefruit, bubbles), I know just the place…
The Wythe Hotel. Unfortunately a bit out-of-my-league when it comes to being an actual hotel – but that doesn’t stop me soaking up the frankly breathtaking view from the Ides Bar (as mentioned above), dropping in for brunch at the Reynard, and picking up a (very sturdy, can I just say) tote bag from the shop in the lobby. I can at least pretend.
The shopping. Far too many to mention, so I’ll make it quick. The totally delightful, wanted-everything In God We Trust in Brooklyn. Shout out to the super-helpful staff in the Williamsburg branch. And in Manhattan: The Frankie Shop – which apparently has a Parisian pop-up sister. Far closer to home and the perfect excuse for nipping to Paris ASAP. À bientôt!
Soon I will tell you all about New York. It’ll be a tale of Bushwick mornings (below), tote bags (several), love-at-first-sight (Williamsburg Bridge) and pizza to rival Naples’ own (no, seriously). For now, though, read this sublimity – Donald Hall, The New Yorker – and weep.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Four months, I see. Things have happened in that time – as things are wont to do – but, of course, it needed a quick phone-scroll to tell me what those things were. Turns out they’re both the usuals (birthdays and weddings and Glastonbury and Edinburgh) – and, as good fortune would have it, the unusuals (Lyon via Paris and Radiohead and Slovenia and I’m going to be auntie – auntie logsy! World’s-most-excited-auntie badge in the post!). And, so as to keep on that latter theme of the extraordinary, it’s to New York we go in two weeks, to call a warehouse in Brooklyn home for a few days. Oh – and I almost forgot – it’s September 2016, which means the 30ths are good to go. Oh, we do have some fun.
As soon as I read about Padella (here), it shot straight to the top of my list. And so, after work on Tuesday, we wandered over there and joined the queue. Cut to me, on a loop: Let’s get the burrata with Puglian olive oil and the borlotti bean bruschetta and some bread and share! Then I’m having the pappardelle with 8-hour beef shin ragu! Did you know it’s their signature dish! Then I’m going to have the chocolate tart! You should have the almond one! Do you want wine? I’m having wine! Etc. and so on, until we were finally seated at a table downstairs (which means my one and only photograph is sadly lacking in marble).
The food and drinks menus are small but perfectly crafted. A handful each of antipasti and hand-rolled pasta dishes, plus a couple of desserts. Trustily-chosen wines, beers, a few cocktails – and if you want a coffee? That’ll be an espresso or macchiato or nothing. Our dishes were all delicious. The pappardelle was the type of tasty you never want to end, but actually, we concluded, not a huge leap away from the kind of thing I make at home if I have 4 hours to spare on a Sunday. The taglierini with ‘nduja, mascarpone and parsley , however, was like nothing either of us had ever tasted. Hot, fresh, zingy, incredible. Next time, I plan to skip dessert and order an extra pasta dish – they’re cheap and modestly sized and just because.
My favourite bit of all? That the menu beseeches: please tell us if you don’t want parmesan.
Copying that Ten Things thing I see on so many blogs these days. I’m always sharing stuff like this online – so, after all, why not collate it? Tangents mean some of the ten have ended up combined, but you’ll get the point. Rather than saying I’m going to do this weekly, I’m saying I’ll do it again when I’ve got my next ten [good] things.
If branding is inspired by the Mexico ’68 Olympics font, what’s not to love?
These mountain-scapes by Conrad Jon Godly. Chunky paint is my favourite kind of paint. And, while we’re at it, The Jealous Curator blog itself. As soon as I stumbled across it I thought: Damn, I wish I’d thought of doing a damn-I-wish-I-wrote-that kind of blog.
I have at least three things in common with Skye, author of From My Dining Table: fondness for prose, reverence for Italian cooking and, peculiarly, being a Latin scholar. Thanks to the Polpo cookbook I got for Christmas, I’ve already spent much of this year determinedly turning my hand to panino (pictured below), polpette and cichette, so From My Dining Table only compounds my longing [to at least pretend] to be Venetian. Also, the discovery that writer’s block inspired the creation of this blog has in turn jolted me into considering how I might better channel my creative output. Maybe I’ll get round to doing something about that (sometime soon).
Lily remembering her friend Peaches in this piece is too sad for words – except she somehow finds them. She still she visits me in my dreams. Often as bossy and rude as in life, but always hypnotic. Her visits are fleeting, but she always remembers to kiss me on the lips. And I stand feeling so tender with love, wondering if I should tell her that she’s dead. Always deciding not to, in my dreams, as it’s no good for us both to have a broken heart.
Like Desert Island Discs – but for books. If my Amazon wishlist was a shelf, it would be buckling.
If I’m to be found at Glastonbury, it’ll often be up at Avalon. This year’s line-up was announced earlier this week, so I know for sure I’ll be dancing to Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra. This Is The Kit are on the bill too, which is imbued with a kind of sadness for me. The last time I saw them was days after the Paris attacks, and knowing that I’ll feel less – terrified – this time around is imbued with a different kind of difficulty.
Finally, since I’ve listened to little else in the last couple of weeks, I give you this.
The Cathedral bell, tolled, could never tell;
nor the Liver Birds, mute in their stone spell;
nor the Mersey, though seagulls wailed, cursed, overhead,
in no language for the slandered dead…
not the raw, red throat of the Kop, keening,
or the cops’ words, censored of meaning;
not the clock, slow handclapping the coroner’s deadline,
or the memo to Thatcher, or the tabloid headline…
but fathers told of their daughters; the names of sons
on the lips of their mothers like prayers; lost ones
honoured for bitter years by orphan, cousin, wife –
not a matter of football, but of life.
Over this great city, light after long dark;
Truth, the sweet silver song of the lark.
Liverpool – Carol Ann Duffy
If there was a list of people who’ve cried at the Saatchi Gallery’s Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism, I’d be on it. The reason it moved me to tears is because, I think, it’s literally impossible to tell the story of The Rolling Stones without a massive injection of poignancy. The exhibition ends by bundling you into a dark room for a 3D airing of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, taken from the Stones’ 2013 Hyde Park gig. For me, the euphoria of this footage can’t help but go hand-in-hand with a sad, sad sense of time passed and passing.
My favourite part of the exhibition (pictured below) was the quaint revelation that Ronnie Wood artistically records rehearsal song-lists – so we can remember what we’ve played – and in what key! Chronological histories of the band’s tours and albums were displayed in impressive digital loops; homage was paid to the reverent Billy Preston and the many, many other collaborators to have worked with the band; there were guitars, costumes, photographs, never-before-seen footage, intricate tales of stage/logo design, album artwork and documentary-making, plus a replica recording studio and even the chance to mix your own Stones tracks. There was no ‘stone’ left unturned, if you will. We visited on the exhibition’s second day, so it has to be said there were some teething (read: crowd control) problems, but I can only assume these will have been smoothed out.
If you love the Stones, there’s only one thing for it: you’ve gotta go. Just make sure you set aside a couple of hours and, if you’re anything like me, take a tissue.
We stayed at the Town Hall Hotel last week – partly for a birthday and partly just because. It’s an original Edwardian town hall turned hotel in Bethnal Green, so it was, of course, non-stop swooning. Ours was the Feature Suite, which turned out to be code for a very fancy bedroom door and oodles of character within. I even went for an uncharacteristic dip in the hotel pool. Our stay also meant a drink at the Peg & Patriot and dinner in The Corner Room, where my food was off-the-scale tasty – though I must admit the absence of side options left me hankering for a potato in any of its guises. Sadly we gave the incredible-looking Typing Room a miss – because they only offer a tasting menu [and have you met me and risk]. We also went for a couple in the very nearby Mother Kelly’s Tap Room [before dinner] [and after dinner]. I loved it all. Bethnal Green, you don’t half scrub up well.