New York Stories: My Favorite Autumn Inspiration Walk

Every year, I haul out my old, ripped-in-half, marked-up map of New York and follow a pretty little path of inspiration that starts in midtown Manhattan, where I always seem to stay, and takes me past bakeries and pumpkins, libraries and parks, and shop windows filled with tinsel.

First stop: The New York Public Library, to say hello to the lions. (If you’ve never been in, go inside, and read poems in the Rose Reading Room.)

You could, if you wanted, have a Magnolia Bakery cupcake for breakfast along the way. I might have done that once. Or twice.

Then duck into MJ Trim, the ribbon/button/nailhead/rhinestone extravaganza.

Around the corner, my beloved Tinsel Trading Co., home of Wendy Addison glittered glories and vintage ribbons galore. This is my favorite store in New York, bar none.

(And don’t forget to peek into the window of the flower shop next door: pumpkins!)

From there, walk a straight shot down Fifth Avenue to Eataly! (which requires an explanation point, and well-rehearsed elbows, and a big appetite, and patience to endure). But Mario Batali’s food emporium is an incredible experience. This was Cindy’s favorite thing we did in New York. Share a sandwich from the panini bar, if you’re hungry, but save room for lunch a few blocks away. Also: Gelato. You must.

Even the tonic water at Eataly is pretty and posh.

Say hello to the Flatiron Building (and admire the rotating art exhibit in the front window).

Continue down Broadway to Fish’s Eddy, my second favorite store in New York. They sell sassy dishes and Alice in Wonderland glassware and vintage glove molds — think little pieces of heaven. My box should arrive any day. They ship. (This, you will find, is important.)

ABC Carpet and Home is across the street. SEVEN floors. You could spend seven hours. I love to window shop on the first floor. Don’t forget to look up and admire the dizzying chandeliers.

Continue down Broadway to Union Square, where on most days, there will be a Farmer’s Market and pumpkins galore. If you go in the fall, make sure to buy tastes of freshly pressed apple cider, and concord grapes — which taste like no other grapes on earth.

Laugh at the signs.

Wish to be at home in New York, so you could make dinner from the farmers market bounty.

Hungry? (Try to be.) I love to share gnocchi and a salad with a girlfriend for lunch at the Union Square Cafe — which is The Barefoot Contessa’s favorite restaurant in New York. Have dessert and think of all the walking you”ve done today. (Also nearby: City Bakery, for a pretzel croissant to save for later.)

Bookworms: walk two more blocks down Broadway to The Strand. Climb up on a ladder and think about all the ideas and gorgeous sentences on each shelf. Buy a book about New York — E.B. White, perhaps.

From here, you can continue to Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park, and SOHO — like Marni and I did last year, or walk back to the Union Square Subway Station and ride the train to the Brooklyn Bridge, like Cindy and I did this year.

To me, walking that bridge feels like strolling down the infinite center of a perspective drawing.

New York does that to a girl.

By |2011-10-28T16:14:38-07:00October 28th, 2011|Travel|4 Comments

Squash and the City

It is almost time for my annual New York pilgrimage, which is half about the city, and half about finding Fall.

October in New York means pumpkins in the windows, and on tables, and in tarts and cupcakes and art exhibits, and I walk around the city with an orange-colored smile.

Last year, I took more pictures of pumpkins than I did people. Scenes from my wanderings withMarni, Michael and Shanna:

Killer carvings at  The Rose Bar, Gramercy Park Hotel:

Pumpkins in windows all over Midtown Manhattan:

In pies (and cute cookies) at Once Upon a Tart, SoHo:

In doughnuts at Doughnut Plant (the best you will ever have, EVER, in your whole life):

Bread, at Payard:

On the Fith Avenue lawn in front of the fountain at The Plaza:

Pumpkin-colored leaves outside the cutest Biergarten in Brooklyn:

And pumpkin-colored sweaters with a heavenly forecast in the window at J. Crew:

A pumpkin-hued art installation in the lobby of the New York Times (where I went completely as a tourist — hey, I said it was a pilgrimage, right?):

All these little screens held sentences from that day’s paper. It was crazy cool:

Pumpkins and chocolate cacao beans at Mast Brothers, Brooklyn, where Marni was so happy:

Pumpkin centerpieces at a cafe on the Upper West Side:

And flanking a gorgeous stoop:

Pumpkin colors on postcards at D’Espresso, which looks like a sideways library inside:

D’Espresso was another Marni find — isn’t she cute? (Also: good coffee.)

Pumpkins lining the hallways at Chelsea Market:

And a customized pumpkin at the Ace Hotel:

Me, punch-drunk on sqaush and the city.

By |2011-10-18T16:38:02-07:00October 18th, 2011|Style|0 Comments

Autumn in New York Dining Guide

My favorite thing to eat in New York City might just be warm roasted chestnuts, straight from a cart on the corner. They remind me of my Grandpa, Christmas morning and Bing Crosby on the stereo.

Also: pizza. Pizza in bed at 3 a.m, 4 a.m, 5 a.m. Pizza tastes really good before breakfast.

The other places I went and loved:

My favorite: Cafe Lalo on the West Side. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks met here in You’ve Got Mail, and it is indeed as dear as it seemed on the screen — and delicious, organic, and wonderful in every way. We met friends for Sunday brunch and watched a newly engaged couple smile at each other in a corner. At one point, the boy reached out and ran his finger along the bridge of his fiancee’s nose.

The dessert case was naughty.

Xie Xie, a new, modern Asian sandwich shop in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s bright and fun and fast and they sell those tiny pink cans of Sofia Coppola champagne to sip with the best sandwiches you will ever taste.  (You can also walk to the theater after.)

The chef Angelo Sosa is A) good-looking and B) talented, trained by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alain Ducasse. Xie Xie is pronounced Shay  Shay. My friend Cindy is still talking about the pork bun I brought her.

For dessert, I walked over to the Little Pie Company and bought a tiny sour cream apple walnut pie. It was my birthday and I did not share. It is the best pie I’ve ever had. There were even pumpkins in the window and a grumpy customer who lectured the waitress. I loved it. Am highly considering ordering one for Thanksgiving from Dean & Deluca.

Promise me you will not miss the 7th floor of Bergdorf Goodman, home to a chocolate shop, a Christmas shop, wedding dresses, a room filled entirely with vintage silver, a John Derian alcove, the most incredible candle department EVER and the BG Restaurant, designed by Top Design goddess Kelly Wearstler.

It looks like this:

And they serve things like this: Lobster Mac and Cheese.

If you leave New York without sinking your fork into this baby, then I’m sorry. Very sorry, indeed. And have dessert. OK? Just do. They’ll bring you mini macarons either way.

We also went to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, in the Meatpacking District. The coconut-chicken soup is one of the best things I’ve eaten. Ever. Spice Market is Vietnamese/Asian — very sceney and cool. Make a reservation.

Prettiest room in town: Buddakan, also known as the restaurant where Carrie and Big had their rehearsal dinner in Sex and the City.

I had roasted carrots and roasted quail at Craft, Tom Colicchio’s adored spot near Gramercy Park. Colicchio, of Top Chef fame, roasts everything and I left wondering why I shouldn’t just do the same. There were also huge, five-foot bouquets of nothing but fall leaves.

When you leave, the hostess hands you a pumpkin spice muffin to eat in the morning. For breakfast.

Magnolia Bakery — of course of course. The vanilla cake with chocolate frosting was my favorite, and note to yourselves: there are three locations now, one near Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue — tourism central.


Also try: Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate, Dylan’s Candy Bar for varied naughtiness, Dean & Deluca in SoHo for a quick lunch while shopping, Sullivan Street Bakery for Jim Lahey’s potato pizza, pizza at Co., Balthazar in SoHo (warning, the hostesses can be LAME), and of course, tea at The Plaza.

By |2009-10-29T03:27:14-07:00October 29th, 2009|Travel|1 Comment


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