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Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category

When this NYC trip happened a few months ago, I had just returned from Africa and one of my brothers got married 3 days later. This left me little time for blogging. So I shelved these pictures for a while and forgot about them until now. Here you go!

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DSC00657video art!

EDIT: I really feel I should add that the above video art featured a girl in an 80s prom dress getting pelted, usually in the face, with tomatoes. She broke her “Ta-da!” pose just long enough to wipe the pulp out of her eyes, the trooper.

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DSC00669What’s lacking in this post will be any details whatsoever on the galleries or artists. I have all of the press releases upstairs somewhere, but seriously this trip was like 3 months ago so they’re not particularly handy right now. These exhibitions are all over by now anyway. Next time I’ll be more on top of things.

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DSC00635Oh, just a random collage glued onto the wall of a building, picturing a T-Rex moments from devouring a little girl who happens to be dreaming of cats. Who even knows what’s under that black smudge.

DSC00624We also stopped by the Guggenheim for a Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit. No pictures allowed once you begin ascension up that big crazy spiral. Sorry.

DSC00619Perhaps the most fulfilling part of the day, we stopped by the famous Tom’s Restaurant, or better known as Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld. As a hardcore fan, it’s kind of been a dream of mine to get this picture taken. One more thing checked off that list. Now all I have to do is backpack across a few more continents and most of my life goals will be complete! The inside of this cafe was charming; Seinfeld paraphernalia everywhere. We spilt a vanilla pistachio milkshake, which was pretty freaking delicious, though I eat dairy very, very rarely so it kind of made me want to throw up everywhere. Oh and the cutest thing about this cafe, Scotty told me in the men’s bathroom someone had scrawled “NEWMAN” in tiny letters on the mirror. I’m not sure why but I love that.

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Well I had planned on posting a big thing on the PA Energy Fest last weekend, and the Celtic Classic Fest this weekend, unfortunately last weekend I was too busy working the Balasia stand to really see anything worthy of mention, and today it is raining, so that’s the end of that plan. I did take a 30 second break at the Energy Fest to take a few random pictures:

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DSC00767Doesn’t this look like a good time?! It was fun, the food was awesome (in our stand anyway, I didn’t try anyone else’s food) and the biodegradable utensils were made out of corn. Which I thought was pretty cool.

I spent yesterday in NYC, getting my art fix and much-needed Ethiopian food fix.

DSC00790James Cohan Gallery

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DSC00780Jaume Plensa’s “In the Midst of Dreams” at Galerie Lelong

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DSC00842Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

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grafthis isn’t art, it’s a cool iphone application that makes pictures look like polaroids. But I guess some would call this graffiti art. I’d call it an interesting backdrop.

ch-marketWe stopped in Chelsea Market on our way to dinner

fatwitchand I attempted to spoil my appetite with a caramel Fat Witch brownie. My appetite, however, refused to be spoiled (it was a really good brownie though)

meskAfter a loooong walk and one short cab ride, we finally made it to the restaurant.  Meskerem is located at 124 MacDougal St in Greenwich Village; it’s a cute little hole in the wall (or I guess in this case, ground) tucked down below eye-level. It seats maybe 30 people, and if you’re going as a party of two, be prepared to get intimately aquatinted with the people sitting next to you, as the tables literally sit mere inches from each other.

veg-comboWe both ordered the Vegetarian Combo.  The food was fantastic; I found the portions a bit small, but at the same time, our entrees came out to only about $14 each. The vegetables were cooked to a tender perfection (still with a bit of bite though), and the bean purees were spicy and comforting.  The yellow split peas remain my favorite dish, with the sauteed cabbage coming in at a close second. It all tasted very traditional, but I have yet to see a freaking mesob anywhere in any American Ethiopian restaurants. Anyway, Meskerem was a fantastic experience, delicious food, no wait at all, and cheap!

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Ok there is a reason my posting has been even more sporadic than usual: I’ve been in Africa for the past 2.5 weeks! My reason for going had nothing to do with food, but I figured while I was there I might as well document some of my fun African meals. We spent a week in Kenya first (the “we” being the Global Hope Network, the humanitarian group I volunteered with), and each night the wonderful local women would cook us dinner. It normally consisted of stewed goat, stewed carrots and potatoes, some kind of greens, sometimes a salad or bean dish, and this amaaazing flatbread called chapati, similar to naan, but in this case denser and chewier.

dinner in KenyaLocal, fresh bananas usually played a role in every one of my meals.  Now that I’m home again, eating bananas is such a let down as they aren’t half as flavorful as these wonderful African bananas were.

more dinner in Kenya
gambella-dinnerOur first night in the village of Gambella, the villagers made us dinner. Rice, potatoes and goat meat, eaten with our hands.

CarnivoreWe stopped at the famous restaurant Carnivore, an all-you-can-eat meat buffet in Nairobi. It was a fun experiment to see what I, a hungry vegetarian, would eat there. Luckily they had a whole separate vegetarian menu, as well as an extensive salad bar.

coconut veggiesI ordered coconut vegetables, but honestly the salad was better.  I loaded on every single one of the sauces and chutneys that were meant to be paired with the meat, which made for a crazy flavorful salad indeed.

Ethiopian foodFor our last night in Kenya, our local friends made us some traditional Ethiopian food, as Ethiopia was our next destination. Ethiopians pile stewed meat or veggies on top of a giant, sour crepe/pancake-like bread called injera, typically made from teff flour. They use their hands to tear off a piece of injera and scoop up the food (we did a lot of eating with our hands in Africa). It was so good – the sourness of the injera went great with the spiciness of the stew. I asked one of the women what spices they use, and she thought about it for a second then said “There’s too many to name!”

incense, popcorn and coffeeWe had dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant one night (as opposed to another night of nasty hotel food. bleh). Everything pictured above is traditional in Ethiopian cuisine: popcorn, coffee, and lots of incense burning. And that huge pan of bread off to the left was actually a birthday “cake” for our friend Dan.

injera, meat and cottage cheeseWe started with some flavored cottage cheeses, a big pile of meat, and some super spicy sauce with a random hard boiled egg in it.

aftermathA ton of meat ended up on our plate, which I picked around and around all night long. This meal was good, but it was just so meat-heavy that I felt like I barely ate anything by the end of the night!

Since I fell head over heels with Ethiopian food while in Africa, one of the first things I did when I got home was search yelp for best Ethiopian restaurant in NYC. I came across Zoma, located at 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd in Harlem.

Fillo PastryWe ordered the Fillo Pastry appetizer, filled with spicy lentils. The cold chutney off to the side was a minty/cilantroy onion chutney I think. This appetizer didn’t blow me away, next time I wouldn’t bother with it. The REAL star of the meal was the Vegetarian Combination:

Veggie ComboFinally, vegetarian Ethiopian food! No picking necessary! This dish was seriously amazing. I chose the Gomen (sauteed collard greens), Misir Wett (red split lentils cooked with berbere, garlic, ginger, black cumin, plus a ton of other spices), Atakilt Wett (carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions sautéed with garlic, ginger and tomatoes), and Shiro Wett (chickpeas, lentils and peas cooked with a “multitude of spices”). Everything was delicious, especially when I attempted to combine all four dishes into one bite. I had a chance to try the yellow split peas too, which were phenomenal. Next time I’d probably order those over the collard greens. My only qualm with the meal was the injera that was underneath our food tasted super old and stale. They gave us fresh injera on the side as well, but why bother putting practically inedible food on the plate to begin with?

yumWe also tried the honey wine – fruity and delicious! This meal was so freaking good. I’m craving it again right now. I guess I’ll be on a mission to find an Ethiopian spot a little closer though, as Harlem is a bit of a hike. I’ve been hearing about a restaurant in New Brunswick, but it looked really expensive. We’ll see, I might just need to make Harlem a regular stop off. For food this good, it would be worth the hassle.

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I’ve previously been to Candle Cafe‘s sister restaurant, Candle 79, and was impressed with their fancy food and delicate flavors. Not the most exciting food in the world, but it was very good. So I was really looking forward to Candle Cafe, as I’ve heard the food is better (and cheaper!) than Candle 79. Candle Cafe is located at 1307 3rd Avenue between 74th & 75th St. in Manhattan.

Crystal Roll
I ordered the Crystal Roll appetizer. Veggies, rice noodles, avocado, and barbeque grilled seitan wrapped up in yummy rice paper, served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. I know I’m a bit spring roll obsessed, and certainly am no stranger to peanut sauce, so it’s not like this dish ventured into any kind of foreign territory for me. But it was good. The peanut sauce was a tad watered down (see those bubbles up there in the picture, those don’t belong there), but still good.

Mezze Plate
The Mezze Plate was a bit more of a crowd pleaser (in our 2 person crowd). It consisted of hummus, tabouli, and lemon date chutney. The hummus was good, the tabouli was a nice filler (though a little bland), and the lemon date chutney was delicious. All three components smeared atop a piece of the fresh pita bread made for a very flavorful bite indeed! The pita was perfect; kind of dense and chewy which I love when it comes to flatbread.

Tuscan Lasagna
John ordered the Tuscan Lasagna, which he deemed excellent. Fresh and satisfying. Lasagna is not my cup of tea at all, so I can’t really add anything constructive.

Chili-Lime Tofu
Truthfully, I was not impressed with my entree. I ordered the Chili-Lime Grilled Tofu, which comes with quinoa pilaf, black bean sauce, half of a plain avocado, and mango salsa, all on a pile of steamed swiss chard. The only thing on the entire plate with any flavor was the mango salsa, of which, unfortunately, there was far too little. Overall the dish was just bland, which was surprising because the waitress described it as one of the more flavorful entrees on the menu.

I had high expectations for the Candle Cafe, and I have to say I left a bit unsatisfied. For the prices and the location (come on, UES) I was expecting a lot more. If I ever do go back, I’ll be sure to order something that has gotten rave reviews all over the internet, like the BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potato sandwich perhaps. I guess I’ll need to get over my opposition of ordering sandwiches at an expensive restaurant first.

Since ho-hum reviews tend to bum me out, I will sign off with some fun gallery pictures (this is what I do to work up an appetite):

Anton Kern Gallery

Gladstone Gallery

Casey Kaplan Gallery

The INFINITY Room!

Mike Weiss Gallery

Mike Weiss Gallery

More fun gallery pics here!  Ok that’s not true – they will be there eventually, but I haven’t gotten around to that blog just yet.  Because right now, I’m off to the Allentown Grower’s Market to support local farmers!

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I met up with my awesome friend Denise on Saturday for the beloved Gallery Walk throughout the West 20’s Streets in Manhattan’s art district, Chelsea. We spent all day looking at amazing art, and working up an appetite which we really needed for our reservation at Vatan. But more on that later.

Metro Pictures Gallery
This was part of David Malijkovic’s exhibition “Retired Compositions” in the Metro Pictures Gallery. The entire exhibit involved films, collages and sculptures relating to the history of modernistic projects in Croatia. It had a very Star Trek feel to it.
Susan Inglett Gallery
Eric Fertman’s exhibit at the Susan Inglett Gallery. Taken directly from the press release:

“Drawing upon the Russian Suprematists and Philip Guston, film noir and the Sunday comics, the work gallops through time on Olive Oyl’s oversized shoes. Seamlessly mixing high and low culture, the artist assigns equal value to Malevich as to Raymond Chandler. Working in wood and metal, Fertman inflects these inert materials with humor and humanity, charming both object and viewer in the process.”

Mike Weiss Gallery

Martin C. Herbst: part of the “Ariodante” exhibit in the Mike Weiss Gallery

the crazy toys
I don’t remember the name of this gallery or the artist… but it reminded me of a toy store on acid.

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the EYE!
the EYE!

Max Protetch Gallery
This bonze sculpture, Contemporary Terra Cotta Warriors, by Yue Minjun was featured in the lower level of the Max Protetch Gallery along with a ton of Chinese art and photography.

the mirror
Now since I do share this blog with three other people, I’m not going to overload it with pictures.  For more gallery pictures and a bit more detailed descriptions check out http://www.carolyndesign.net/blog.html

And now on to dinner! (and our only meal of the day by the way). We ate at Vatan, Gujarati vegetarian food, located on 3rd Ave between 28th & 29th. The deal here is, it’s a fixed-price menu AND all you can eat. They bring you about 50 tiny portions of different things, then anything you want more of, just say the word and it appears.
the Appetizers
Above is the appetizer course. For one person. The top right cauliflower concoction was amazing, and the only thing all night that I ordered seconds of. Don’t get me wrong, I probably would have ordered more of everything if I had room. But I literally left the restaurant in pain, I was so full. The mini somosas (top and center) were interesting, I think they used phyllo instead of a puff pastry, and it worked. They were perfect little crispy bites. But honestly, if anything is bite-sized, chances are I’ll like it. The top left was some sort of dal/potato ball, under that a yogurt dish, and the bottom right was cold lentil/raw onion ordeal. The center featured a fried hot pepper, a rice cake and 2 fried potato balls. The chutneys off to the left of the table need mentioning too, they were fantastic. Included was the standard cilantro, tamarind, and a sweet pickled something chutney.
the Main Event
Then the main course came. Here you see (clockwise from the bottom right) a smooth and creamy lentil soup, an incredibly fragrant (I’m guessing cardamom) rice pudding, chickpeas, cauliflower, spinach and corn, and a thick potato stew of sorts. Everything was amazing.  Even the puff bread and the papadams were stand-out good.  We were also served two kinds of rice and an insane yogurt stew.  The yogurt stew wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten, but the yellow lentil rice was outstanding.  We also received mango sorbet and a cardamom chai tea for dessert, but apparently I was too focused on eating to get a picture of that.  Dinner at Vatan is one of those dining experiences that I will be (and have been) thinking about for days.  If I didn’t have such a long list of “Restaurants to try in NYC” I’d be back at Vatan in a heartbeat.

-Carolyn

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tresleches

Josh and I head up to New York fairly often to get a food fix that just isn’t available in the LV, and consequentially, as it happens each time we visit the city, we each gained about 200 lbs. Above: the tres leches donut from the Doughnut Plant in the Lower East side.  A moist, cake-y concoction with a line of pudding-like cream running through the center.  These doughnuts are so good that we basically make a trip to the DP every single time we’re in the city.  I don’t even want to know how many calories I’ve consumed here.

dumplingman
We found the Dumpling Man by accident in the East Village, entered immediately and ordered the veggie and shrimp dumplings. All of the dumplings are hand-rolled in front of you, which makes for a very fresh tasting, delicious result.
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Now the dumplings themselves were great; the dipping sauce, however, was not.  It tasted extremely watered down, and did little to compliment the flavors of the dumplings.  Note to self: next time, sneak in own tamari.    

dimsum
The next day we ate brunch at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown – it was phenomenal. We probably got around 8 dishes total, and, split three ways, the bill came out to an insane $10 per person.  
peanutsesame
Out of the table-full of food that we ordered, the Peanut Sesame buns were my favorite (pictured left – the fried ball on the right is the Mashed Taro Treasure ball, which was also good but really heavy and rich.  I think I could only finish half of one).  The Peanut Sesame buns are puffy rice buns filled with what literally tastes like the inside of a recees peanut butter cup. I ate four of those, but no one else at the table liked them so please, try at your own risk.

The Veggie Dim Sum house was definitely the highlight of the weekend, and since we barely put a dent in their menu, I’m sure there will be tons of new and exciting dim sum dishes in our future!

-Carolyn

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