Friday, 19 February 2010

The Plaza, books, museums, and food - oh my!

Wednesday began with Q meeting me at the hotel, and from there we window shopped down 5th Avenue stopping into Yves St. Laurent to have a close up look at a stunning electric purple sheath and shoes – just yummy. Q who is now adding seamstress to her roster of skills (already a chef of family and friends renown) was examining the seams…. There was a stunning python trench but we agreed that neither of us would be able to wear it (she used to have snakes as pets (I know!) and pythons are endangered, as well they skin them while still alive), but it was an eye-catcher.

We were looking for a place for brunch as we had walked right past the breakfast hour and ba da bing – there’s the Plaza Hotel sitting in her sartorial elegance – always a good choice. We had a lovely time in the downstairs hotel restaurant with wonderful views of both the inside of the hotel and the outside passersby – brilliant people watching. The food was of course wonderful and the service – well it’s the Plaza isn’t it?

Afterwards we walked off our indulgence (they had melt in your mouth breads and pastry) by making our way on foot up to 87th Street and the Met. The adorable husband was off to a matinee of Noel Coward's Present Laughter starring Victor Garber, which he said later he quite enjoyed.

Two exhibits in particular I wanted to see were the Chinese Carved Lacquer and the Jain Manuscript Paintings. Both were as expected – breathtaking. As usual we made our way through the Egyptian exhibits (the spot Q normally gets stuck) where we explored the Temple of Dendur showing off some 1800’s graffiti as well as the impressive Temple gates, and an intricately carved sarcophagus.

Also a good day for the soon-to-be sixty year old’s ego. As we were making our way from the Egyptian exhibit on the first floor to the Chinese Lacquer exhibit on the third floor, Q pulled me closer to say, “The young, rather good looking museum attendant back there came over to me when your back was turned looking at the Temple and ask, ‘Is that your mother?’ You know at first when he pointed you out I thought he was going to ask me to tell you something like to lean back from the sarcophagus, but it was much more like he was checking to see so that if you weren’t my mother it would be alright to hit on you. Since people never assume you are my mother I think he was hoping you were an older friend, or aunt – apparently that would have given him a clear field but the fact you are my mother meant you are married or it would have been bad manners.

Then as we were leaving the coat check after having a bit of French with the lovely Haitian chap handing us our hats she said, “I’m beginning to feel ugly.”

“What? Why do you say that?”

“The guy back there? What he said to you was, ‘You must tell your mother that she is magnificent’, you know c'est magnifique!! '. So you can tell J that you got hit on twice at the museum!”

I think I stood a little straighter on the way out she said smiling smugly. And later Q took great delight in telling the adorable husband the story in detail, along with according to her “all the other times I’ve felt like saying, ‘So what am I chopped liver?” She’s very kind to her old mum, and quite beautiful in her own right.

Oh a non sequitur but I don’t want to forget to tell you, and I’m going to try to remember to take my camera out there before we leave… The Anglican (which explains why it was some difficult for me to determine the denomination) church of St. Bart’s at 325 Park Avenue has a sign out front that states: “Have something different for lunch? Eucharist at …” and it list the hours! We did a double take the first time to be sure it was saying what we thought it was saying and it does! I went to their website to get the link for you and clicked on their mission statement which I really liked:

“Located at 325 Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Street in the heart of Manhattan, St. Bartholomew’s Church is a faithful community of Christians... who WELCOME ALL to this sacred oasis whose urban outreach is buzzing with life 24/7. 

A Manhattan crossroads and one of New York’s treasured landmarks, we passionately serve our city and the larger world, opening our portals unconditionally to all. Become part of who we are, through our daily cultural community offerings, beautiful music and powerful inspirational worship services.
Every day of the year we worship God, serving not only our own membership of nearly 4,000 but also thousands others—Christians, fellow believers of other faiths, and many who are seeking God, truth or a spiritual center for themselves.
We think of our sacred space as a gift—something bequeathed to us by our forbears but a gift we know we are called to share with others. Our members and visitors come from the whole New York metropolitan area, from other parts of the country and as tourists and pilgrims from around the world. We practice what St. Benedict taught his monks and their households: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ” (Rule of Benedict 53:1).

We met Q “below 14th Street” at 116 Avenue C to have dinner at the Serbian Kafana restaurant she had recommended to us for dinner. "The adorable husband is a meat eater right? He's going to like this place I think."

I knew it was authentic when I walked through the door framing these two burly types all bundled up sitting at the bar facing each other in lively conversation – I was transported back to Serbia ten years ago to a eerily similar scene. It was confirmed when we walked in and it was the chaps at the bar who said, “Oh yeah just sit anywhere you like.” The waitress reappeared a few minutes later having been out on an errand. It is a family run restaurant, small and cozy – very clean. Our service was warm and friendly right down to giving Q the recipe for the sausage. We were the only native English speakers in the room, also a good sign.

We had Ćevapčići with chopped onion, beef burgers, sausages, pork chops, and grilled meat, which are on the menu of every restaurant in Serbia, from Vojvodina to the south. And the supreme pleasure in grill definitely is mixed meat - mixture of several grilled meat specialties, which are best when absolutely fresh and hot from the grill as these most certainly were.

The real Serbian dish, which cannot be found on any menu in the world, is kajmak. Kajmak is what you take off the milk to make it low fat, and is considered the best part of the milk. Yes, it is full of milk fat, but it's delicious. This is one of the oldest specialties from this region.
Smoked meat, hot pogača (homemade bread), and kajmak.
Sarma, "pasulj"(beans made the Serbian way), were almost creamy, and served with more of the heavily spiced and delicious sausage. I am not a big meat eater and I think I just may have had my quota for this year.

Real homemade Serbian cherry pie, very good after a big meal, was enjoyed by Q and the adorable husband. I was stuffed but did have a bite and it’s delicious. If you survive all this, at the end of each meal you definitely must drink good Turkish, actually Serbian coffee, since the Turks prepare coffee differently.

At eight o’clock we were seated in the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre for the Premier production of ‘A Behanding In Spokane’. You know how frightening Christopher Walken is on film, he is scarier on stage. He doesn’t even have to speak. The first three or four minutes he just sat there – and it was spooky.

The playwright, Martin McDonagh, has a penchant for black comedy and that promise was fulfilled in this play. The adorable husband is a fan of his work and attends his plays whenever possible; but this was my first introduction to Mr. McDonagh.

Carmichael (Christopher Walken) has been searching for his missing left hand for almost half a century. Mix in two bickering lovebirds (Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan) (granddauger of Elia Kazan) with a hand to sell, and a hotel clerk (Sam Rockwell) who is loopy as a fruitcake, throw in some gunfire, a large case full of dismembered hands, and a racist mother (Mrs. Carmichael) chasing a balloon up a tree and you’re set. Get the picture? You’re right; you had to be there.

It was so funny. It was so funny. Really, it was so funny. From “You can’t have black hillbillies” to “You looked through them all (porn magazines)? Congratulations Ma now you’re a lesbian”. But you had to be there.

All of the actors delivered excellent performances. The play is 90 minutes without a break and you never once get antsy in your seat because your attention is riveted on the stage lest you miss one great line.

On Thursday the papers are running articles concerning the delayed (bowed to political pressure from the Chinese) meeting between President Obama and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. (about time said the prickly Buddhist) but I’m not happy with the “low key” approach President Obama decided to take. Makes the U.S. look weak bending to the Chinese if you ask me, but we all know what my bias is and I’m sure it affects my world view.

We left the (continuing great service) Waldorf around 0930hrs Thursday to pick up Q and had a car take us to the Cloisters. Q was able to show off her Old French by reading the tapestries to us (some of them have captions!) and recounting some of the history of the period. The adorable husband is taken with the tapestries which he wanted me to see since I do needlework and I enjoyed them, but for me the fascination lay in the building itself. The stones are steeped in history and I can almost hear the whispers of past ladies sitting at their embroidery in one of the courtyards discussing their children,politics, and marriage; and lords pacing the halls or in front of the fireplace planning the next year's crops or the defense of their lands and bitching about taxes, their children, worrying about disease... much the same as us but without computers and flush toilets eh? I was surprised and pleased to see the number of mothers with children there. I'm very big on children in museums; how else will they grow to be adults in museums?

Q left last night on the train back to Philadelphia after we stuffed her full of wine and good Italian food at the great little restaurant we discovered. I miss having her about every day, but you know what that's like. They grow up and have their own lives, as it should be. She remains as much a delight to me as an adult as she was when a toddler.

Today is our last day. No plays today. After some morning - yoga - the adorable husband has plans to take me downtown to the Strand with the understanding that I can’t take all the books home and we will most likely be shipping them due to the pricey increase on airline transporting of luggage. Q had planned to go shopping on Tuesday afternoon after her meeting at NYU – some new boots, some dress material she had her eye on, perhaps some new trousers. When we met her for dinner she was lugging a large bag full of books from The Strand. “Oh yeah she’s your daughter all right,” said the adorable husband. Apparently The Strand boasts 18 miles! of books she said rubbing her hands together in anticipation and delight.

Then we shall likely stroll down to Washington Square and have a look see around that area. I’ll let you know eh?

Back to Houston tomorrow and I have (bleck) doctor appointments both Monday and Tuesday - just check-up stuff but I do so hate going to the doctor. I've agreed (because he still thinks he can 'fix' them) to see one more neurologist for the adorable husband - this one thinks I may be having some sort of seizure activity associated with the migraine so he's doing a sleep deprived EEG. Doesn't that sound fun? Ug. It's difficult to complain too much when it's because someone loves you and I know that it is so much more difficult to watch someone you love in pain that it is to be the one having the pain so I will do it.

It’s been a grand week and I expect today to be filled with delight as well. I’ll give you a recap on Sunday then shall I?


*The voting closes day after tomorrow, so if you have time please click the widget to the right that will take you to the page to vote for my blog. I would so like to make a good showing. Thank you, and thank you to those of you who already voted.


Gary said...

Your blog was fun to read especially in view of the fact that the highlight of MY week was a chili dog and fried okra at a mom and pop in Whatcheer, Iowa (do you remember where you were when I ate my very first fried okra?) That said, you should give yourself a break (2200 words in your last post) and simply enjoy the city. However...if you've just gotta write 'cause that's who you are (with me it's painting and running), then thanks for sharing. It WAS fun to read.

Mama Zen said...

The play sounds fantastic!

Ellee Seymour said...

What a wonderful time you have had with your daughter. I won't have these experiences with my two sons. I have to be good friends with their girlfriends.

jmb said...

What a great week you have enjoyed. One needs a cultural and gastronomical experience like that one on a regular basis. How about a week in London, a week in Paris, a week in New York, a week in Sydney (yes it is just as vibrant as the rest) every year?

lady macleod said...

There are times when a chili dog and some fried okra can BE the highlights eh? Yes I remember.

No, for me writing the blog and sharing the experiences of the trip are a record of the trip for me. I like hearing the responses I get as well. Next trip coming up - two weeks in Canada, so that will be some fun times to be shared I think. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, and thank you for coming by.

Mama Zen
Indeed it was! Thank you for coming by.

That's the ticket, make friends with the girlfriends - that's how I obtained my first son - my daughter married him! It works out very well. And my recent marriage has brought me another son and daughter. You never know what's around the corner eh?
Thank you for coming by.

jmb aka JMB
It has been a great week. I'm right on board with your week-per-country tour. Sign me up! I did a week in Paris in October, a week in NYC in February, so I'm due in Sydney!
Thank you for coming by.

MomOf4 said...

I love love love New York City. I went last summer with my mother and my sister for my mom's birthday! Fun post!