Escape to New York

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Room service breakfast, The Mark Hotel, NYC.

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Oh, OKAAY, here’s the entire picture…

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So, I sneaked away for a quick trip to NY this week.

Didn’t even bring a camera, just my iPhone and walking shoes.

It was, after all, Serious Sale Season.

I kept my packing to bare minimum carry-on by fed-exing my coats and boots to the hotel beforehand. So much easier then schlepping heavy bags and worrying about them getting lost or stolen, which has happened to us on more than one occasion. I brought a pre-printed return slip for homeward shipping. Done & done.

We took in a play the first night, which I didn’t entirely love so I’m not going to mention the name. I think people in the theatre work way too hard to have amateur critics critique them, don’t you?

IMG_2694We had a couple of splendid dining experiences, including one night at “Eleven Madison Park”, mentioned in a previous post and listed in my slow-to-update “Travel” tab

IMG_2687Palate cleansers of heavily marinated diced apples, Apple Jack bourbon, and some molecular  hijinks being prepared in the kitchen at “Eleven Madison Park”

IMG_2666and then there was the wild mushroom and poached egg pizza at “ABC Kitchen

This was my second visit to this really fun & buzzy Jeans George affiliated restaurant and I would highly recommend it.

1f3e2004604411e2913d22000a9e2892_7I also enjoyed cocktails one night with Habitually Chic“‘s Heather Clawson at “Bar Pleiades” in the Surrey Hotel. The rich, delicious concoction sporting a dense head of foamy condensed coconut milk above was called a”Thai-somethingorother”. The perfect libation to evoke the warmth of the tropics on a frigid NY night. We were sitting beside Goop Senior, Blythe Danner, who looked quite fabulous, although I’m sure Gwyneth will be letting herself go all to hell any day now. I can just feel it.

890A5219If you haven’t already checked out Heather’s new book “Creativity at Work” you really should. A thoughtful compilation of creative souls in their work environments, with beautiful photos and very down-to-earth introductions by Heather, as well as inspiring interviews with each subject. A perfect gift or addition to your own library; here my copy (bought the day before Hurricane Sandy hit on my last trip to NY) sits on the living room table this Christmas.

ea28de90618d11e2a2e222000a9e48a3_7As always, walking and window gazing through the streets of Manhattan never disappoints.

I scoped these massive antique crystal urns lit from within on Madison Ave. I’d love to know their origin. Even better, I’d love to see them used now in an entirely modern space. Martyn Bullard would probably know just how to do them justice.

IMG_2633I dreamt and drooled through the recently opened  Christian Liaigre flagship store on the upper east side.

Just give me one of everything, thank you.

IMG_2679and snapped this cute window at Jo Malone, really as a reference for a friend who is opening a tea salon in India! Swoon.

IMG_2646With my good friend Patty, whose hand I’m employing here for scale, I found a wine glass in Bergdorf Goodman that had my name written all over it. (back off Andrew!)

We had lunch in Bergdorf’s Kelly Wearstler designed restaurant which is usually delicious and ripe for people watching.

Somehow I always end up standing in front of the lady’s room mirror, ever so slightly lifting the sides of my face up.

IMG_2705I stayed at The Mark Hotel where, as long time readers are aware, my love of black & white stripes has been applied with reckless abandon.

The best part of The Mark experience? The Jeans Georges restaurant room service!

Rushing into the lobby one day, I humiliatingly tossed a warm hello to a lady I was so sure I knew (who then asked my name and we both drew a blank :() only to realise 1/2 way up the elevator she was a NYC realtor from a reality show my husband watches. Upon returning from dinner the same night,  Sonja fill-in-the-name, from “Housewives of NY” was standing at the entrance and let’s just say Sonja had been enjoying more than a few cocktails. Ouch. But then I guess you don’t end up on reality TV by being a wallflower.

faf06bac60e911e28ce622000a9f13a7_7The Mark hotel (photos from my Instagram)

64c9aed65f5e11e28e3c22000a1f9d44_7So, a little food & drink, a spot of shopping & people watching, a drop of culture and the company of loved ones- a perfect week in NY.

and least we forget (azziff) ‘Downton Abbey’ tomorrow!

890A5785My butler’s bells are vibrating in anticipation

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Wishing a Splendid Whheeekend to All!

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Fall Shui

Slim Paley Fall Mood BoardA post or two back I mentioned I would be returning to the subject of  autumn leaves (don’t worry if you don’t remember, we work as a team here :))

The turning of the leaves, those rusty khakis & golds, spicy pumpkin & fiery blood-red hues are one of the few things I miss about living in colder climes. Here in Santa Barbara we have just a couple of varieties of vines and trees that put on any sort of spectacle-both of which I have planted in my garden. Meanwhile…2 days away from December, I’m still waiting…

Fortunately, we were in Chicago for a week earlier this month and thanks to the  “Chef Who Knows No Bounds” Grant Achatz, we experienced a turning of leaves so inventive even Mother Nature would raise her lichened brow.

Our first stop was a highly anticipated return to “next” to celebrate my husband’s birthday. If you aren’t already familiar with next (opened in 2011), with its fabulous concept of changing “themes” every few months, you simply must put it on your list of things to experience in Chicago. The current theme is “Autumn in Kyoto” with the tradition of “Kaiseki” as its guiding inspiration.

“Autumn in Kyoto: the moon viewing, the changing hue of the maple leaves, the last crickets of summer, wind blowing through the river grass…”

I won’t spoil it by revealing the menu, which is truly half the fun-and yes, this restaurant is about having FUN in and with every sense,  but I’ll share two hastily taken, slightly fuzzy pics (was getting a touch of stink-eye from the Hubs & Older Son)

Next restaurant, ChicagoA glimpse into the level of creativity involved in this dining adventure; Live crickets (for song, not consumption) in a vintage cage perched on leaves in the centre of our table.

The collecting of crickets during the transition of Summer to Autumn is a centuries old Japanese tradition.

Apparently the male crickets do most of the “singing”

Are we surprised??

Next restaurant, Chicago. Slim PaleyA delicate and exquisitely presented dessert called “First Snowfall”

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Previous themes at “next” ;

We also heartily imbibed at Chef Achatz’s ultra cool bar “The Aviary” one night and spent our last evening in Chicago dining at his original restaurant, the amazing “Alinea”.

Yes, it’s true

We are complete Achatz-olytes. If Chef Achatz tells us he’s building a space ship that’s going to a better place, we’re on board. We probably get to eat the ship upon arrival.

Next, Chicago, Slim PaleyWoodcock, lingonberry, shallot, oak leaves at Alinea.

The leaves are set alight as they’re brought to the table so the room is infused with the visceral scent of a campfire.

“Alinea”, currently one of the Top Ten restaurants in the world and “The Aviary” are much too special to squeeze in here, so I’ll save them for another post.

a Fall Table

Earlier in the season, Grant Achatz and Chef Daniel Humm of “Eleven Madison Park” in NY, partook in some unprecedented culinary hijinks by trading restaurants for one week. How cool is that?! Reservations for “Alinea at Eleven Madison Park”  and vice versa, were made via the internet just as they are normally for NEXT and Alinea.

As you’d imagine, a furious Foodie throw-down commenced with tables totally booked in minutes. Luckily our Older Son, whose hummingbird-fast digits have been flitting across a keyboard since he was 4,  managed to secure The Dinner Date of a Lifetime for he and his girlfriend the first night. (That’s my boy :) ) Their iphone photo shows “a bed of leaves on the table which you brushed off onto the ground after a few courses” so by the end of the night the floor of the restaurant was covered in leaves.

I actually covered the entire entry hall and dining room floor of our home with leaves for a Halloween party when the boys were  young and what a gorgeous mess it was! (until the light of day…ouch)

Speaking of gorgeous messes, get a load of this tree and how the leaves have turned such a divine rusty red.

Now guess who the tree belongs to.

Oprah.

She lives here in my town.

Er, I mean I live in her town.

Well, let’s just say we’re neighbours.

Now,

this is MY tree.

It’s the exact same type of tree. On the same side of the street.  

What’s up with that??!

 Do you think Oprah’s tree knows it’s Oprah’s tree and is just being an overachiever? Are Oprah’s people hand-tinting her leaves in the night?

Or is my tree perhaps a female and therefore not a “singer”?

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For information on dining at “Alinea” or “NEXT” visit their Facebook or Twitter pages or click here

And to read my post about our first visit to “NEXT” please click : next:PARIS- 1906

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First image a vignette from my Inspiration board.

Header photo of Kendra Spears via Vogue