Why, hello. I've been in New York, hence the silence of late. But I wanted to get a post up before the beginning of the Christmas season (yikes).
Above is a view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and this is the park in Dumbo (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).
Manhattan was work, Brooklyn Heights was play. Stately brownstones, cobblestone streets named Willow, Poplar, Pineapple and Orange, and a quiet that couldn't be found anywhere else on or off the island. Getting lost in Dumbo at night, and the river's edge is calm and the skyscraper's windows far enough away and glittering with promise to believe New York might offer some kind of magic, but Brooklyn will deliver down-to-earth goodness.
And the number of quality restaurants and bars on Court St, Atlantic Ave, Montague St, and Smith St do. By far, my favourites: the River Deli, on Joralemon St – small, intimate, and dishing up unpretentious Italian with a Sardinian edge, and Brucie on Court St.
Catching up with old friends, the greatest discovery was Sunday brunch, a New York institution served straight up in Brooklyn. A dear friend of mine lives in Court St, and took me to two brunch venues that nailed it, and us. She got sozzled on bellinis, and I discovered the Bloody Mary. The New York state of mind: work like hell all week, and then rise to the midday Sunday surprise of vodka and eggs. The places she took me were light filled, laid back, and packed: Colonie on Atlantic Ave, and Buttermilk Channel. Colonie's featherweight leek and gruyere scramble is the closest rival I've tasted to Bill Granger's legendary scrambled eggs. Buttermilk Channel does a killer Eggs Benedict, and buttermilk pancakes made from a batter that pillows up and sops up the maple syrup. Yes, we had not one, but two breakfasts, over a course of three hours, sitting next to a woman dressed as a tree spirit (she was on her way to trick or treat for Halloween).
Williamsburg, allegedly hipster central, was also on the agenda. A visit to Bedford Ave, via the G line, and at midday it seemed less hipster, more community vibe, with its small pubs, organic grocers, secondhand furniture places, and delis. Apparently it comes alive at night, but I'll have to leave that for someone hipper to verify.
If you're a into jewellery don't miss out on Catbird, and Norbu.
Back in Manhattan, and an in no way exhaustive list of other cool things that one might do while in town: go see War Horse at the Lincoln Center, eat at Gramercy Tavern on E 20th St, or Annisa on Barrow St. Visit the International Center of Photography. And make sure you see Sleep No More in Chelsea. An immersive theatre experience channeling Macbeth into trippy, sexy physical theatre, it was how I imagine stumbling through the Looking Glass might feel, only finding a 1930s jazz club and the Last Supper on the other side... and a dance party rather than a tea party.
And then there's the High Line. An elevated railway for the transport of goods in the early 20th century, the High Line has been transformed into a park snaking through Chelsea and down to Gansevoort St.