Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Day in New York, Zabars, Barney Greengrass and kitchens

After yesterday's snow storm, New York woke up snowbound. Morning tv shows were telling me that New York has broken snow records this winter, and yesterday there was 15 inches. Plans to go bookbuying in New Jersey were abandoned and I instead stepped out to spend a day checking things off the list. It turned out to be a really great day. The city looked magical, particularly because it wasn't actively snowing and there seemed to be a holiday atmosphere in the air. Negotiating the street crossings became the most difficult part of negotiating the snow. On roads where the snow ploughs had been, they created huge drifts of snow on the side of the road which over the day melted leaving often huge puddles right at the corner. Sometimes the surface of the puddles would be covered in a layer of floating grit which makes it looks like a solid surface- and you get the idea, you step on it and end up with water above your ankles!!!

Snow ploughs at the corner of 5th Avenue.

My first stop for the day was the Met. It backs on to Central Park and because it had been declared a snow day, there were groups of excited kids (& adults) carrying every variety of toboggan and snowboards.

I was very tempted to skip the museum and just go straight to the park, but I had a plan for the day. I was glad I did go in as they have an impressive American history display of house interiors and furnishings from the pilgrims through to the early 20th century. It is housed behind the facade of an early 19th century home which was transferred to the museum.

There was also an incredible collection of suits of armour

After a visit to the gift shop I finally got to Central Park (passing a great little cupcakes food truck on the way)

Just behind the Met is a hill which was crowded with kids tobogganing and building snowmen. 2 kids had set up a stand selling hot chocolate - very enteprising!

I think Central Park has been my favourite part of New York. It is such a wonderful public space in the middle of this huge busy city. Today it was much busier than on my previous visit, but even more magical with all the snow:

More tobogganers:

I walked across the park and headed to another New York institution: Barney Greengrass- the self-proclaimed Sturgeon King. One room was like a more disorganised and cluttered version of yesterday's Russ and Daughters: all sorts of smoked and pickled goods, a selection if baked goods and a few tables set up in the middle of the room. The room next door is a small dining room with a menu mostly of sandwiches and tasting plates of the delicacies on offer next door. I ordered a Lox and cream cheese in an 'everything' bagel (all the toppings- poppy seeds sesame seeds, salt and some dried onion)My waiter suggested having it with tomato and onion which was inspired, adding some crunch and sharpness to the creamy, smoky filling. Once again at $12.95 plus a tip it wasn't cheap, and I discovered I could have ordered it next door for much less. You live and learn!

My next stop had been recommended by Simon- A customer in Bonnie's shop on Sunday night & boy what a great tip. Zabar's is two stores in one; on the ground floor is yet another deli along the usual lines except 5 times as big as any I've been to so far. In addition to the usual deli goods they have a large section of coffees, several bakeries, a huge cheese section, a takeaway shop and much more. Upstairs is a kitchen supplies department. As with the downstairs sections, they have everything you can imagine, but on a large scale. Not just one set of kitchen scales, but a whole aisle end of about 25 different models; more than 10 models of icecream  makers, including three of  the handcranked salt models you would see in an episode of Little House on the Prairie!

There were fish poachers, Mauviel copper pans in every size; Le Creuset in all the colours including tems I didn't even know existed like a mussel pot. I had a ball at Zabar's, but came away only with a small quiche for tonight's dinner and a can of a soda Bonnie introduced me too in Katz's yeterday - it's called Cel-Ray and you've guessed it, it tastes llike celery. It is possibly the most revolting drink I've ever had, but my son Jonathan is amused by unusual flavoured drinks so I thought he would get a kick out of it. (Act surprised Jono!)

I had one more stop after Zabar's - to MOMA to check out their exhibition of their kitchen-related objects in the collection. It was a small but perfectly-formed (or  curated) exhibit. I was particularly interested in the working model of the Frankfurt Kitchen from the 1920s. I trudged back to the hotel from MOMA - quite a hike, through lots of crossings with impassable puddles, and got back with wet feet and a little of the charm of snow day having rubbed off. Tomorrow - who knows what I'll do!

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