Lunch with Rod

Eataly has never disappointed. And just as well. Doing lunch with Rod Quinn in NYC for the second time in a decade, I only wanted success. And interesting, delicious, fun, and with just the right amount of buzz. No pressure! The Flatiron was an excellent starting point. From there we could do Eisenberg’s, Chanson, City Bakery, Eataly rooftop, Edition Hotel, Maison Kaiser, Beecher’s, Dough, LA Burdick or even Shake Shack in Madison Park. We could have burgers, pastrami on rye, pretzel croissants, homemade pasta, oven baked pizza or something really flash. Like wild Alaskan salmon with lemon scented Spring vegetables… You can only have lunch once. Eataly it was!

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Zen, art and fashion

Dressing for the MET Gala may not have been quite the challenge I would have thought – if I had even been invited in the first place. I could have wrapped myself in red fabric, tripped the line between good and bad taste, worn a Leunig headpiece, or with flounce upon flounce of florals, blurred the lines between form and fabric forever. Such was the licence of the theme, set by the current exhibition at the MET honoring Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo. Rei is recognized as ‘one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years, by inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity’. These creations are not clothes one would wear – in fact Rei said even making this comment shows one has missed the point completely. But if there was anything to be learned by her inspiration, or the draw of fashion, it was the age of the young students at the exhibition yesterday. While the Met continues to be the center of controversy, with financial woes, changing ‘suggested’ to compulsory admittance fees ( for foreign visitors anyway ) and a gaggle of Gala fashionistas exposed with illicit selfies and smokes in the bathroom on party night, this grand old Gotham institution may survive yet. For fashion, or art, or design, to bring a group of young teenage boys to a museum with their sketch books and enthusiasm, there is the greatest chance that we haven’t seen the last of the red carpet and all that it rolls out for…

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A fresh sea breeze has blown in from the north coast of NSW and found a welcome home in the West Village. While good coffee is no longer the illusive pleasure it was in New York, Merriweather adds a little sunshine just by association with that white beach and blue water. Peter the proprietor was unfazed when I said his mum had sent me, but six years working as a lawyer in NYC adds a little cool – and would make the best barrister become a barista. A very successful one at that. The place is busy, there were no pastries left when we swung by, avocado toast was pumping, and the coffee was a real heart starter. While Peter says the cafe is not necessarily promoted as ‘Australian’, that fabulous flat white meant he didn’t have to…

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A Tipple at Tipsy

Adults only are welcome at the newest ice-cream parlor in NYC. When Tipsy opened it’s doors for the first time last weekend, it was reminiscent of the historic five clock reopening of the local pub. Only this place serves a tipple and a treat at the same time. On Sunday the line stretched down the block, with enthusiasts of all ages anticipating a shot of bourbon with their maple bacon, some sangria with strawberry sorbet or a martini on the creamy side. Security carded the crowd as much for the fun as the five percent flavored cocktails as for anyone wanting to eat to forget. According to a happy punter it would take a lot of ice-cream to put her over the limit. But I was on my bike, and who would order a virgin vanilla from the first barlour in the city…

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Talking Turkey

Donald Trump will be in NYC today for the first time since he became president. So will Malcolm Turnbull. A possible exchange is scheduled on the Intrepid. The city is packed with protestors and police, with traffic snarls and a turkey.  Flying between median strips on Park Avenue, the latter has yet to be apprehended.

At this rate you wonder who’s going to turn up next…

May the 4th be with you!

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Institutional Memory

Every day is Earth Day at Materials for the Arts. This unique re-gifting megastore came into being a few decades ago when the Children’s Zoo needed a new fridge. Funding was in short supply, so an enterprising young woman put out a call over the radio and was subsequently swamped with offers. Ah, the power of the radio! Today, Materials for the Arts has a loading dock the size of Macys, unwanted materials of all shapes and sizes are brought in by the truckload, and schools, theatre groups and artists shop the shelves without a penny changing hands. This is the ultimate treasure hunt – you don’t know what you might find, nor what artistry the unexpected may inspire.

The MET recently presented a historic challenge to the artists in residence at the MFTA with the gift of their entire slide library. Five thousand years of art history and decades of evolution of the museum on Fifth Avenue, these transparencies were more than a record, they were art. At least that is what they have become. The resulting exhibition at the Long Island City hub is a dramatic interpretation of the past forming the present, of curators guiding our perspective, and the reassurance that stories can be told richly, regardless of the medium. Nothing is ever lost, and the MFTA means we can find some fun and inspiration along the way…

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Pastries and pieds

Just when it seemed that bakery experiences could not get any better, NYC has surprised the eager palate with even more gloriously excessive treats. Chanson is a true ovenly experience. Baking trays line the ceilings though a passageway of temptations leading to the real working kitchen at the back. Apparently this was the plan of the owner, a protege of Gordon Ramsey, who may have escaped Hell’s Kitchen, but nevertheless found the allure of the baking environment too good to leave. He may have something there. The crowds have come for the everything croissant, a take on the bagel of the same name, but in this case filled with cream cheese and jalapeño and baked so perfectly that the creaminess inside does not compromise the crispiness of the outside. I might have been tempted, had not the piece de resistance of pastries appeared in the form of kouign amann. Think croissant dough, add more butter and swirl into a muffin tray with fillings of hazelnut cream, black sesame or rhubarb and thyme. Outrageously delicious.

With summer just around the corner my quest for the best may need a healthy diversion.  As I discovered on the subway to Long Island City this week, other pursuits have possibilities, like outrageous footwear and unexpected conversations with people who like to wear them. This may be a good time to swop choux for shoes. But let’s follow our feet and see what we find…

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A Parade of colour

Spring had competition for spectacle this week in NYC when the Sikh parade launched the season of weekend cultural marches in midtown. With independence from India on the cards for 2020, the community was out in solidarity. What colour! And what better stage to blossom than NYC…

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Heaven had a geographical location this week. As fast as green leaves were unfurling from wintery starkness and lilacs proffered a perfume worth waiting for, blossoms tumbled over each other, as pink and then white and then pink again created a spectacle of beauty in Central Park. Like watching floral fireworks, people oohed and aahed and then paused, wanting to somehow make it last. The show will dazzle for the coming days – at the Conservatory Gardens in particular, so check your wings and enjoy the moment…

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Hallett Nature Sanctuary

Eighty odd New York years is a long time. In 1934 a small section of Central Park near 59th street became a dedicated bird sanctuary and was closed off to the public. What must have a been a boon to birds also gave license to weeds, and as storms – including Sandy – pulled down trees and added to the great tangle of the 4 acre wilderness, the Park eventually had to intervene. Groups of students pitched in to build paths, craftspeople moulded benches out of the fallen trees, while leaving some as records of natural history. The rest of the city carried on regardless. So now there is a wilderness bubble in the Park where 20 people can visit at a time and breathe the fresh contrast between city and nature. Relatives of the Murray Cod can compete in size with their southern cousins. And the birds… the birds? I think they have been there all the time, tangle or tame. Yesterday I saw not one but three red cardinals looking perfectly at home…

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