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01/25/18 - New York City - 4

Probably two thousand years ago, my grandparents moved their family from the crowded, noisy Lower East Side up to a steam heated apartment in the South Bronx. The South Bronx went through some hard times, but it has been recovering. Realtors call it SoBro, but it is not the new SoHo. The Lower East Side too went through some hard times, but it has been reviving nicely as a new trendy neighborhood.

Some stalwarts, like Katz's and Russ and Daughters are still there, along with some clothing shops from back in the day when everyone worked in a sweatshop or sold clothing from a small shop or pushcart. Amazingly, Katz's seems unchanged from the 1960s, and back then one was sure that those salamis were getting sent through a time warp to our boys at Anzio or on Corregidor. The sandwiches are as good as ever. Go for the pastrami. It's a work of art.

Katz's unreconstructed

A touch of the old neighborhood

The streets were once lined with clothing like this

One of those big city conveniences one doesn't realize one needs until 2AM one morning

Pop up stores are an industry in the area

Keywords: new york city

01/24/18 - New York City - 3

Another one of our favorite walks in New York City is the Brooklyn Bridge. Usually we turn around before we actually set foot in Brooklyn, but this time we went on and explored Dumbo, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The Manhattan Bridge is the next bridge over from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Dumbo used to be a ratty industrial area, not far from the old Brooklyn Navy Yard. Now the waterfront has been redeveloped a bit. There's a park, new housing and lots of new businesses have taken over from the old factories and warehouses. There are still a few cobblestone paved streets, some with the old train tracks from the area's industrial days.

Heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge

A fashion shoot - we think - on the bridge

More fashion - It's an industry in this town.

The view back to Manhattan

Dumbo streets are paved with cobblestones.

A glimpse of the Manhattan Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge from the street

Another view of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan from the park

Dynamic city - power switching station with construction across the river

Two bridges

An amateur photo shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge

Keywords: new york city

01/23/18 - New York City - 2

After the High Line, we continued our walk south along the Hudson River. This was once a working waterfront with the river blocked off by piers and warehouses and the sky blocked off by the elevated highway above. Now it's a park running along the river, and one of our favorite places in the city.

The view south to the new World Trade Center

The Holland Tunnel ventilation system and some of New Jersey

Urban gardens

You can almost forget you are in the city,

at least for a few seconds at a time.

Another skating rink

The Palm Court, a great resting spot along the way

Keywords: new york city

01/22/18 - New York City - 1

We just returned from a trip to New York City to spend time with friends and family and to just wander around and enjoy a serious dose of urban life. We did the usual tourist things, wandering the streets and visiting museums. There was construction all over the place with scaffolds, cranes and construction workers. Despite all this and less visible economic forces, we were pleased to see that the urban fabric still holds.

One of the nice things about wandering the city is that it is full of surprises. Our very first evening, as it turned out, was the last evening for the Christmas tree at Bryant Park. This was once a rather disreputable park behind the main public library branch, but is now adopted seasonally. In the winter, that means an ice skating rink. It was a cold night, as you can see from the icicles on the fountain. The next night was warmer, and the Christmas tree was gone.

We took a walk along the High Line, an unusual park that was once an elevated railroad right of way. It is landscaped with grasses, but the real attraction is the unusual view it offers of the city. Well above the ground floor, one can look down at store fronts and city streets and into people's back alleys. There are glimpses of the skyline and of the Hudson River which it parallels.

The winter skating rink at Bryant Park

Michaelangelo's Brutus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The High Line, an urban fantasia

Some snow among the ornamental grasses

Neither heaven nor earth, it's the High Line

A view into the urban fabric

An elevated park

Another city street view

Part of the vanishing industrial landscape

The new city being built

Across the Hudson

Keywords: new york city

01/05/10 - The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building was the last of the great skyscrapers of the Roaring 20s, even though it wasn't finished until 1931. As the tallest building in New York City and having opened at the start of Great Depression, it was often known as the Empty State Building. Now, it is still a building of note, though it has long been in need of a new look.

Recently, Kaleberg Construction was offered the opportunity to rebuild this landmark using more modern materials and advanced construction techniques. In fact, we were presented with a solution to the ailing building's troubles in a simple kit form. Here follow the adventures and triumphs of Kaleberg Construction from unboxing to installation, and marvel in the rebirth of a classic, just in time for our great recession.

If you aren't sure of what a prolegomenon is, see a recent posting on the classic form.

The Erector Set Empire State Building as installed on site

The classic unboxing shot - the prolegomenon.

Top down construction technology is surprisingly effective.

Work in progress

Ready for installation

Keywords: new york city, christmas, art, kale

Some of their rye bread

04/25/09 - Bell Street Bakery

Bell Street Bakery opened a while back in Sequim. We haven't made a visit yet, but we did get to try a couple of their loaves, and we've heard a bit from our friends. Their whole wheat sandwich bread was excellent, with a great grainy texture and a lot of whole wheat flavor. We made some simple sardine sandwiches, and the the bread was a perfect match. Their rye bread was also good, but being familiar with New York City style deli rye, we found it a bit sweet and lacking the sour tang of a real deli rye.

Our friends, based in Sequim, report that their root vegetable bread is great, and it uses root vegetables from Nash Huber's farm. We have to get out there and see what else is available, but so far, things look promising. The whole area is undergoing a bakery renaissance. Ever since Bonny's closed we've had to bring in fresh bread from elsewhere, but now Bell Street Bakery is open, Good To Go in Port Angeles has gotten the go ahead to fire up their oven, and there may be one or two other bakeries opening in Sequim in the near future. We live in exciting times.

Keywords: good to go, nash huber, new york city, port angeles, food

11/07/05 - Eggs, Poultry and the Plague

We were out at one of the local farms the other day to buy some eggs, and since this was a chicken farm, we also learned something about about the H5N1 virus. It was odd to consider something as mundane as buying eggs put as at the public health frontier right. It was almost something out of The Microbe Hunters. We've been buying chickens and eggs, actually first eggs, then chickens, from this farm for years, and all the while we've been taking certain things for granted. It turns out that chicken farmers are first responders, and our local chicken farmer was concerned enough to contact the State of Washington to ask them what they are doing about the risk of an epidemic and, more importantly, what he should be doing.

Washington State does have a program to test for H5N1 in eggs and poultry, so now he is awaiting instructions for sending in egg samples as part of a program to catch any H5N1 invasion early. Unlike many government programs these days, this one has money for testing, and there are plans for controlling the virus if and when it appears. Being a first responder, he asked what to do if one of his chickens dies of a respiratory ailment, and was told that they would want some samples from the dear departed. Apparently, it isn't always obvious when a chicken has a cold, or the flu. They don't sneeze the way people or dogs do. It takes a bit of watching, we were told, to realize that chickens with head colds keep their heads pitched back, most likely because this makes it easier for them to breathe.

Most of the chickens we see are in the pot, but it is nice to know that people in the State of Washington are keeping there eyes open and watching for any signs of H5N1. The first signs of West Nile virus in New York City a few years back were dead birds discovered at the Bronx Zoo. We civilians can afford to ignore a few dead birds, but with the H5N1 virus out there, it's nice to know that someone is watching out for us.


Keywords: birds, food, farms, new york city, washington state

09/20/05 - Extreme New York

New York City may be a summer festival, but we Kalebergs tend to melt in the sun. The summer is not our season, but thanks to our high tech Cool Vests, and despite the collapse of the St. Regis Hotel, we managed a great trip and found a great new restaurant, Esca, walked everywhere, and enjoyed two great museum exhibits. We also tried some barhi dates (see below). To find out more, read The Kaleberg Report.

Keywords: new york city, special report, restaurants, kale

Fresh Dates

09/17/05 - Fresh Bahri Dates

We happened to be in New York City when the fresh Barhi dates arrived. They had them on the stalk at the counter at Kalustyan's, so we had to try some. The fresh dates (on the left) are sweet with a strong tart note, and even a bit of astringency, but if you let them sit for a week or so, they ripen (on the right) and are amazingly sweet and tender. Most dates sold in this country are dried out versions of the ones on the right, so this was a real treat.
Ripe Dates

Keywords: food, new york city

Lake Crescent Lodge

09/14/05 - Lake Crescent Lodge and Sabai Thai

Well, it's about time. We're back from New York City, so it's time to post a couple of reviews from August. Go figure. We finally checked out Lake Crescent Lodge, and we were impressed.

We also checked out Sabai Thai. We had tasted some of Victor's cooking before, at a friend's house, but his restaurant is really impressive. Who ever thought of Thai cooking with great Northwestern ingredients? It really works.
Sabai Thai

Keywords: restaurants, lake crescent, new york city

Eleanor's Building

06/03/05 - Eleanor's Building Researched

Last month we noted a sign that appeared on a building at 31 West 56th Street in New York. It read, "Eleanor's Building - She Who Must Be Obeyed." Well, a fair bit has been revealed since our idle discovery. We were not the only ones who had our curiosity piqued. So, who is Eleanor? We have a theory. See if it makes sense.

Keywords: eleanor's building, new york city

Ashes and Snow

05/06/05 - Ashes and Snow

We saw a great exhibit, Ashes and Snow, last month in New York. It brought back great memories of the 1960s, but not for the obvious reasons. It also brought back memories of old New York, when on the waterfront had a whole different meaning.

Keywords: art, new york city

05/04/05 - Eleanor's Building

We've finally been going over our notes from our New York City trip and figuring out what is worth posting. Things are slow here in Port Angeles, or rather we've been so focused on various boring projects that we have fallen behind. So, here is something from nearly a month ago;
She by H. Rider Haggard
We were walking down 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues when we noticed an unusual sign on one of the buildings:

    Eleanor's Building - She who must be obeyed

We have no idea of who Eleanor is, though we assume that building was indeed hers. As for "she who must be obeyed", we have to thank H. Rider Haggard who wrote the book She which is surprisingly not a gay camp classic. After all, the story involves a closeted male couple, one member of whom is tempted by a family inheritance which takes him to a mysterious lost land in Africa. Here, he and his male partner are tempted by, of all things, women. Ayesha, the queen of this society is seeking immortality, which requires the presence of a male partner, suggesting that this is a metaphor for the familiar immortality obtained by having children. If you've read Victorian fiction in which the heroine must fight for her virtue, you will find this all familiar, save for Haggard's sex reversal. In the end, virtue triumphs.

We don't think that any of the characters in She was named Eleanor, and we are probably reading a bit much into a mere sign.

Keywords: eleanor's building, new york city, port angeles, victoria, kale

04/16/05 - Lacinato Kale Obsession

Our report on our April journey to New York City is still  in the works.  Luckily, our web site ran on without us, and elicited some comment during our absence. We are not the only kale lovers on the internet. There is at least one serious lacinato kale fan out at a Somewhat Raucus Kitchen in Iowa!

While we may seem a bit kale obsessed here, in fact we have only commented seriously on kale a couple of times:
We have yet to find a really serious kale site, so perhaps we shall have to create one.

Keywords: food, new york city, port angeles, farmers' market, oysters, kale

Green Almonds

04/13/05 - Green Almonds

We were at Kalustyan's on our most recent trip to New York City and couldn't help noticing that the green almonds are in. One reads about green almonds in Mid-Eastern cookbooks, so we bought a bunch and cracked a few open. They have a milder, greener flavor almost like a melon, rather than a nut. We've heard that they can be used in cooking, so we'll see if our supply holds out long enough for us to find a recipe.

Keywords: shopping, food, new york city, recipe

04/11/05 - The Blood Center

Whenever we head down West 66th Street in Manhattan we cannot but help notice the line of trucks from the New York Blood Center with their 800 933 BLOOD phone numbers painted on the side. Imagine, take out is not just for those living in Manhattan, it's available for the undead as well. Elsewhere, vampires have to haunt the streets at night, killing and maiming unwilling blood donors and worrying about run ins with vampire slayers and other undesirables. In New York City, a vampire doesn't even have to leave the apartment. Just dial a few digits, and a tasty meal is on its way.

Now, we are sure that the New York Blood Center is really about providing vital blood and blood products for the living, and you might consider dialing the number above and making a donation, but in New York City, where take out food is one of the glories of civilization, one cannot help but imagine.

Keywords: new york city, humor, food

Tendy's Garden

04/11/05 - Tendy's Garden

We've only been home a few hours and haven't even written up our New York City notes, and we're eating Chinese take out food. We finally tried Tendy's Garden, and we liked it. Our favorites: General Tso's chicken and the crispy duck.

Keywords: restaurants, port angeles, food, new york city

01/25/05 - Winter Blossoms

Here are two winter blossoms.

The flowers on the right are hellebores. They usually bloom in January, so they make a pleasant surprise, especially when the ground is covered with snow. They don't just bloom in the Northwest, a few years ago we noticed them blooming in Madison Square Park in New York City.

One of the foremost hellebore nurseries is located on the Olympic Peninsula. Heronswood Nursery is not far from the car ferry in Kingston, and they have a wonderful winter garden full of hellebores and other winter blooming plants.
Hellebore Flowers In A Bowl
Rosemary Flowers

The flowers on the left, enlarged a bit in this photograph, are rosemary. That's right, the familiar herb. Rosemary is a tough plant with its resinous leaves, and it blooms in the winter, even when there is snow on the ground.

Unfortunately, rosemary doesn't make a great floral display. It tends to lose its leaves, though you can save them and use them in cooking. The biggest downside is that it smells like good cooking, so it tends to encourage any craving for pasta with red sauce.

Keywords: flowers, winter, new york city

11/05/04 - New York City Update

We have just returned from a visit to New York City, and we must admit that things are bustling there. The tourist trade seems to have recovered. Thanks to the weak dollar Europeans seem to be shopping again. We did some shopping ourselves. We loaded up on chili and curry powders at Aphrodisia in the Village, we bought some books at the Lenox Hill Bookstore, we found a new annular hat at Boyd's, and we got our building supplies at Home Front, a 7/24 hardware store and lumber yard not far from the Empire State Building.

First, we'll talk about the bookstore. There used to be a really nice little bookstore on Madison Avenue. Not the one owned by the IBM heiress by the Whitney, but the other one. It always had an interesting collection of literature and art books. Even when we didn't buy anything, the place always got us thinking. When it closed, we stuck with the Borders on 57th and the Barnes and Noble on Union Square.

Madison Avenue has been changing. It has always been upmarket, but it is going international. This means it is getting more and more mall like over the years as upmarket global vendors leave Fifth Avenue and move north and east. So, we've been spending more and more time over on Lexington Avenue, and the Lenox Hill Bookstore is our latest find. It's a homey little place crammed full of books, including a lot of good reading. They tend to stock fewer authors, but more titles from those that they do. The art book collection was full of interesting stuff, not just coffee table gifts. This is a sign that they know their customers. We bought a few things for the flight home and some Christmas presents.

As for HomeFront, the hardware store and lumber yard, we stayed for part of a trip at a relative's apartment, and there were a few deferred maintenance items, as they say in commercial aviation. We needed to buy a light switch, a door knob and mechanism, tapes, glues, a screwdriver and some other goodies. We have heard that there is a new Home Depot on 14th Street, but our favorite hardware store is on 29th Street off Third Avenue. They are open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, and they stock a broad supply of electrical, mechanical and plumbing items. They also sell glass, lumber, steel plates, cleaning supplies and the like. It's a big place for Manhattan, with three floors and a basement, and the staff knows its stuff.

We had a less satisfactory experience at Magnolia Bakery. They still have the buzz, and the lines run around the corner, but the quality of the cakes has been slipping over the past year or two. Has this trend reversed? We couldn't find out. We ordered German chocolate cake, but our box contained spice cake. We wound up doing a forced march to Buttercup Bake Shop where the German chocolate cake is still excellent.

Since we are on the subject of cakes and confections, we should note that La Maison du Chocolat is in excellent form, and that our current favorite hot chocolate is Caracas.

We visited a number of our favorite restaurants including some old favorites like the Union Square Cafe, the Pearl Oyster Bar, Wallse and the Tabla Bread Bar. All were at the top of their form. The knockerle dessert at Wallse has really grown, and there is a rumor that the chef at Tabla may be producing a cookbook some time in late 2005. We can hardly wait.

On a side note, we often go over upcoming Claypool comics while having dinner with one of our Claypool friends. Comic book original artwork is oversized, so it is hard to be discreet.  One of the folks working at the Tabla Bread Bar noticed that one of us was in the business and dropped by to say hello. It turns out he was Daniel Miller whose Creased original graphic novel is soon coming out from Image comics. We haven't a clue about the book, but it shows that the comic book business isn't quite dead yet.

We liked Savoy so much on our last trip to New York that we went back twice on this trip. The big hit was the roasted cauliflower with hen of the woods mushrooms seasoned with a bit of five spice powder. We also loved the fava bean fritters. That, and everything else.

October, as it turned out, was New York State Wine Month, so we had a number of good glasses of New York State wine at our first meal. New York State wines are quite good, and a lot of them haven't bought in to the Robert Parker fruit bomb 20% alcohol thing, so you can still drink them with a meal. At our second meal, all the New York State wines were gone, even though it was still New York State Wine Month. The reason: lack of demand, and a variety of issues revolving around restaurant stocking mechanisms.

We tried two new restaurants. Spice Market, Jean Georges Vongerichten's new place in the trendy meat packing district, and Tia Pol, a little tapas bar in trendy Chelsea. Spice Market was a bust with bad service and mediocre Thai food. We were distinctly unimpressed. Tia Pol, in contrast, with its imaginative little Spanish dishes and well chosen wine list, excelled. It might be a hole in the wall, but the food was excellent, and they had a great neighborhood attitude.

The Lower East Side has been getting trendy, like so many other New York City neighborhoods, so we decided to check it out. We remember Katz's "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army" promotion from the 1960s, but there have been a lot of changes since then. Katz's is still there, and you can now send a salami to Iraq. Walking around, we could not help but notice that the entire neighborhood, once the epitome of an overcrowded slum, has been moving upmarket.

This is happening one store front at a time.

In some neighborhoods gentrification comes in like a juggernaut. Entire blocks are rebuilt, store fronts are remodeled, traffic is rerouted, and if you didn't have a GPS you'd swear that you were somewhere else. On the Lower East Side the overall fabric seems intact, but here and there you will notice a boarded up store front or an empty shop with a building permit posted. That ratty looking place across the street is now selling designer clothing, and the designer is working at the shop. The menus in the window now feature foie gras.

It seems that the Lower East Side was always about retail, despite the "I can get it for you wholesale" bravado. It was a neighborhood of small shop keepers and pushcarts. We didn't see any pushcarts, but the small shop keepers were there in force. Still, we couldn't help thinking about a 1939 article in Fortune magazine about the New York City pushcarts. Apparently shop keepers used to fight to get the pushcarts on THEIR side of the street since they encouraged foot traffic and often meant 50% more business. Now, we gather, that shop keepers want the pushcarts elsewhere.

We'll keep checking out the Lower East Side and see what develops.

Towards the end of our trip, we checked out the new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The subway station and new escalators are great, but inside, it's a mall. That's right, it's just a big shopping mall. There was really not much reason to look around, since we knew what we would find, so we left. We really have nothing against malls, except that they lack serendipity. Maybe we should be thinking of it as the Suburban Embassy to New York City.

So, that was our trip to New York. We'd like to thank San Juan Airlines for making this all much more convenient with their $49 (each way) air taxi from Port Angeles to Boeing Field. At $98 a pop for the two of us it was only a little bit more expensive than the cab from Newark.

Keywords: food, restaurants, shopping, new york city, art, christmas, port angeles, wine

09/06/04 - Seattle Notes

We were in Seattle yesterday, but we weren't going to the Huskies game or Bumbershoot. We sort of avoid stuff like that. Instead, we checked out Uwajimaya on 6th and Weller. This is the anchor store for the International District and includes a good Pacific Rim (and Pacific Middle, since it includes Hawaiian food) food court, a great fish store, a book store and it even has apartments upstairs. We were checking out stuff for our upcoming luau, so we bought some fresh gold label nori for the ahi tuna sushi, poked at the taro leaves wrapped in bundles and waved a few bunches of ti leaves about.

The real find though was in the pig department. If you were ever a Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Whatever fan, you may remember that the good guys often needed a reliable supply of blood to feed to friendly or captive vampires. Whenever we pass the blood distribution center on 68th and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, we always think of this problem of feeding vampires. Only in New York City would they have a vampire friendly blood bank that delivers. How convenient can it get? If that new prima donna or best selling author has unusual culinary needs, all you have to do is call for take out. (Do they stuff menus under your door?)

Since Buffy and Angel were set in California, they couldn't just pick up the phone and order blood. They tended to use pig blood. This just gets us to the problem of getting pig blood, and that gets us to Uwajimaya where they sell it frozen. More importantly, they sell pig skin and sweet little pig's feet. It is surprisingly hard to buy pig skin. Even if you have your own pig slaughtered, the skin and feet are usually wholesaled or trashed since they requires a lot of processing to make them kitchen friendly.

So, if you do want to make a proper cassoulet, you can get pig skin and pig's feet at Savenors in Boston, Faicco's in New York City or at Uwajimaya in Seattle. A French housewife would be right at home.

We also made our pilgrimage to The Spanish Table at the bottom of Pike's Market and bought some really good paella rice. Did you know that paella rice is drier that Arborio rice used in risotto? We didn't, but now we do. In a sort of conservation of pig's blood rule, The Spanish Table was out of morcilla, black pig's blood sausage.

Then we tried out Tom Douglas's new restaurant, Lola. Lola has great Greek food, with kebabs and spreads, lamb and octopus, and all through it a bit of Tom Douglas's trademark Northwestern style. Why not salmon kebabs? Why not a real lamb burger with pickled green peppers? Go for the roasted potatoes alone.

Keywords: seattle, food, restaurants, fish, luau, new york city, salmon

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