Thursday, July 7, 2011

New York City: Out and About with My Girls

My girls live in New York and we love stalking the elusive bargain, meal or objet. I am convinced that if I lived here, I would be thin like everybody else. When I raise my hand to hail a cab, the girls berate me: "Mom!! it's only 20 blocks!" Needless to say, I have blisters. I've managed to clock months here, thanks to the kindness of family and friends, so I want to include a round-up of some of our favorite haunts.

One of our favorite outings was to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and hit the DUMBO flea market. Brooklyn Flea, now has multiple locations, based on season and is no longer under the bridge. We have scored many a hot item there, not to mention some highly collectible art pieces, for a song. The Sloan Kettering Thrift Shop, on the Upper East Side, is a consistent source for prints and excellent quality vintage couture clothing and accessories. I have added several Kipp's views to my collection, nicely framed for under $300.00 each. 

Johannes Kip (1653 - 1722) Dutch draughtsman, engraver, and print dealer who was active in England.
Leonard Knyff (1650 - 1721) Dutch draughtsman and painter, who collaborated with Johannes Kip to produce views of country houses and gardens for the publications, Britannia Illustrata, 1708. 

I love these prints and buy them colored. To authenticate them, take them off the wall and tilt them in the light. If the paper has visible tiny ridges, that is the old paper and not a reproduction. What makes them interesting, is the accuracy and scale of the spectacular English Seats, in their milieu.  These "Bird's Eye" views were done 80 years before the invention of Hot Air balloons, which makes them all the more ingenious. Some are poorly colored, avoid them. The Arthritis Foundation Thrift shop is two doors down. It is not as reliable, but worth a twirl. Walk down to Housing Works on 77th just East of 3rd Avenue. We have purchased stunning furniture there.  It is counterintuitive to think there is serious bargain shopping in NYC. The volume is so high, if you pay attention, and regularly shop the fleas and thrift stores, you can build a fabulous collection--ask Eddie Ross.  Moving along, the flower shops of New York are spectacular. The flower district and the florists, while expensive, are inspirational. There are several favorites in the East 50's.

ZeZe Flowers rules, as the #1 florist in New York. The space, flowers, exotic plants and accessories are an uber stylish mix of old and new. My father would say: "Train your eye, dear." I certainly do. 

Don't go to buy, unless you have an unlimited budget. Go for inspiration, but definitely eat at Ze Cafe around the corner, on East 52nd. The food is sublime, the intimate carriage house space lovely, and we were charmed by the still demure, Gloria Vanderbilt, lunching in a straw hat, elegant white sheath, with bright red sandals to match her signature red lips. Anderson Cooper inherited her inscrutable eyes. 

Manhattan’s century-old flower district occupies little more than a block of West 28th Street, between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue, and is shrinking like a puddle in the sun. Delightfully lush, it is a verdant riot of color and fragrance. Go early, or pay retail and bring your business card. 

Threading throughout the city, numerous parks punctuate the architecture. Madison Square Park is a current favorite, due to the astonishing Jaume Plensa sculpture. Seriously, babies in strollers look up, wave their arms, wiggle and coo at the astonishing Echo . It is Located between Fifth and Madison Avenues, at 23rd and 26th street, in the Flat Iron district.  

Echo is a heart stopper, and a crowd experience, as people helplessly gravitate in her direction. Monumental at 40' high, the sculpture fools your eye. While she looks like a flat, photographic image--she is not. Beautiful Echo is so grand, she invites conversation among strangers, while she dwells within herself.  This is the most gorgeous sculpture I've ever seen and is right outside Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world. This fantastic gourmet emporium is the collaboration and dream of visionary foodies:  Oscar Farinetti, Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, and her son Joe.  Oh dear God!! If you don't go, don't tell me. 

Formerly the old Toy building, 50,000 square feet of repurposed space devoted to food, conquers any craving you could conjure. They will even wash and chop your vegetables for you. If you've seen most New York kitchens, it makes perfect sense.  To feed our souls, we hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If I lived in New York I would go every week and be a brilliant (and thin) connoisseur. There is no such thing as having "done" the Met. There are always more, new ways of seeing art. On the way over, I can never resist a stop at Bardith. 

When the girls finally pull this Taurus out of the china shop, we agree to visit the historic rooms--again. The lines for Alexander McQueen were prohibitive. If you want to go, go early, or join the Met to skip the line.

My third daughter is a francophile, so we wandered through the elegant Wrightsman rooms. We were transported to one of the rare, great eras when the confluence of money, style and craftsmanship flowed seamlessly through the enfilade of daily ritual. The cavernous public spaces in New York provide first class people watching and the ultimate theatre, as far as I'm concerned. 

Caspar David Friedrich (German 1774-1840)

Take a spin through the romantic Rooms with a View exhibit. Then, if the weekend looms, and you need to get out of town, our favorite day trip, is a visit to the antique stalls in Stamford. We took the express train out of Grand Central, and walked up to Hiden galleries. 

There is plenty of good mid-century loot for those longing for their inner "Mad-Man" swanky modern schemes.

This is a great spot to knock out furnishings for a new country or beach house--negotiate!

Eclectic urbanistas can quickly layer a room, evoking generations of diverse phases. Hamptons House and Gardens has a great collection of vintage Jansen. For dinner, grab a cab to Greenwich and watch the Real Housewives of Fairfield County take drinks on the water at the charming Hotel L'Escale. After bargain hunting, its fun to view your bizarro opposite. 

Hotel L'Escale

My new favorite restaurant this last visit is: 
This eye rolling, swoon worthy meal is so good, you don't mind making a scene. Order different dishes and share. The heirloom tomato salad will bring tears to your eyes. All the pastas dissolve in light puffs, with tasty sauces that will levitate you out of your seat. The skirt steak is the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. The four of us split one order. The restaurant is small and loud. If you are deaf, eat and talk later. Plan your flight around this reservation. Dinner for four is under $300.00, if you go easy on the wine. 

We had a delicious lunch at Morandi, but the most exciting thing was the company. We joined John Berendt and Sean Strub. John signed a copy of his new children's book, which my neighbor loves. 

For those of you with little friends or children, I whole heartedly recommend this sweet journey of baby Blue Jays growing up in NYC. You can buy it here


  1. I'm going to the Toy Building today...cannot wait to see this spot. Looks like you had a great sorry we could not hook up. Next time! Doing the hotel in upstate. Speak

  2. Liz! Oh Oh Oh It's like you literally read my mind! I am going to visit my daughter living in NY for a summer internship and was lazily wondering how I would come up with good spots to visit! I will carefully record all this information and plan to visit each and every mention.
    AND I have been patiently waiting your next post since your last was my first and one of my all-time favorites! You are such a wonderful writer and one that I will look forward to following closely so as not to miss a single word.
    Thank you for this awesome post. I will bring my tennis shoes... I promise you that I too will be begging for cabs and my daughter will not hear of it!

  3. Fabulous post except that I'm furious with you for not calling me - you were in Stamford?! That's 10 minutes from me - naughty you!!

  4. This all looks so wonderful...I want to go! Thanks for sharing all of these fun spots.

  5. Loved this post! Here I live about an hour away and have yet to do some of the great things you have done! What a fun filled weekend. I think I take advantage of the fact that its not too far away and as a result do not do all the things that there are to do...pllus too busy right now. But you certainly gave me a great list of things to consider for the future!

  6. Liz, very exciting tour of NYC; you are the best guide, I hope to go one of these days again soon and will certainly hit all of these spots!

    Art by Karena

  7. Liz~ your tour really takes me back; I found so many nice pieces at that same thrift store, including my set of French copper pots. Your post makes me want to visit, now!

  8. I lived in Manhattan right out of college--I love this place. Your photos and guided tour were superb. Mary

  9. I have bookmarked this post in my nyc folder and will surely be visiting many of your recommendations when I go next month! Top o list is Hotel L'Escale! Thanks for the fantastic tour!

  10. headed that way in September...thanks for the new destinations...k

  11. Liz,
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with us! So much to see and it appears you saw a lot of it!
    Have a great weekend.

  12. Oh goody! More Strubs! Going to buy that book right now!

    I totally agree about ZeZe's. "Graduate school for the eye!" and the cafe is wonderful!!!

  13. I am so happy to have found your blog today. Having lived in and near NYC for years, I have to say there are are a few things mentioned here that I have yet to discover. My daughter and I just returned from NY and must say I am not sorry we missed the heat they are experiencing this week.

  14. Oh how marvelous! THANK YOU FOR VISITING ME TODAY! You believe in fairies too? I see that through your eyes, you can SEE the magic, even in the midst of the CITY! The magic we make is everywhere we go....thank you for the invitation here to your blog! Anita

  15. great post..feel like i have been to NYC...i wish

    i LOVE the baby blue jay book....i have a 5 year old neice so i will check this out....

    happy to have you visit farmhouse kitchen
    and it's always a pleasure for me to visit with you, my friend


  16. What a wonderful detour through NYC I just took!! Thank you!

  17. Hi Liz{ I cannot believe you were in Stamford and did not call me!!! Do please return to spend the day...would love for my sons to meet your daughters !!!! I buy so much for my clients at the Stamford's dealers, i always find a piece or 2...would actually like to open a warehouse/shop there, the area is changing so fast. Will be coming your way very soon and call you first. Am also booking high Point for fall.
    Hope to see you soon, Francine

  18. I could spend hours in places like these! I am so happy to be back in a big city to find my own fun discoveries:)

  19. Hey, I love some of your products they really are amazing.

  20. Hey, we make dovecotes at, and we just love your blog. and they look amazing the ones in the pictures above.


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