Friday, July 10, 2009

Brklyn to Manhattan

This week we took a trip to NY- a trip to our past and the city's present. In the 1980s, both I and my mate lived in NYC- I on the very upper West Side (the last stop on the A train), he in Brooklyn. Since he initiated the trip, we got to travel through his memories. I have heard about his time in Brooklyn on Hicks Street. The report is usually mixed. He hated his job in some unremembered corporate financial institution. He fell into this field by default or by habit or by peer influence. Whatever the motivation, while he chafed at his work, he remembers Brooklyn fondly. (I particularly recall snippets about his French roommate who described American coffee, circa 1986-7, as "A big cup of shit.") Life is like that sometimes with the even hardest stretches tempered by small sweetnesses.

He lived in this very lovely building in Brooklyn Heights. Wow! What a beautiful area. I hadn't been to Brooklyn Heights before. In fact, when I lived across the river and on the other side of the island in the 1980s, I never ventured over to Brooklyn once. My story of 1980s NY is similar to and different from my mate's. I'll leave it for another time.

Let me give a little texture to our trip. The day was simply perfect. The weather this summer is really astounding-- low humidity, intemittent rains to keep my garden fresh, sparkly blue skies, low 80s. Needless to say, Brooklyn Heights felt and looked as good as I think it ever could--bustling, sun-dappled, urbane and aristocratic- just dreamy.

After snapping a few shots of my mate's brklyn abode, I realized I needed to eat. I generally don't "lunch". Lunch is a bore to me. I don't long to go out to lunch and I am pretty lacksidasical about at home afternoon preparations. I expected we would grab a sandwich or something while walking around, but we decided to sit down at a Thai restaurant, Latern, around the corner from the Hicks apartment.
A truly acceptable, satisfying Thai lunch, we had. I think the spontaneity, the weather, and the nostalgia pulsing through our veins made the standard Thai lunch noodles and stir fry all the more delicious.

That's the thing about food right? It is so much more than sustenance. Often the mind and heart of the eater color the reception of the ingredients and preparation and flavor. Certainly the case here--everything tasted right, as we watched the daily goings on at the intersection of Montague and Hicks. After the kind of lunch that you see in the movies, we started the trek to the Brooklyn bridge. My mate intended us to walk the bridge to Manhattan (as he often did from home to work back in the day) and then play our next move by ear.
First we checked out the views of the city from the Brooklyn promenade--and then the bridge.
Boy o'golly alot of other folks decided to take this walk. Bikes, people, it was crowded and hot, for an obvious reason: the views.

Oh yea, the bridge itself ain't nothing to sneeze at. It's big and impressive.

After this hot walk we rambled into the subway to get over to the west side. Sure we could have walked. In my younger days I might have insisted to do so, but heck I wanted a cool drink and a Central Park greenspace and fast. We ended up taking a train to one of my undergrad. alma maters, Hunter College,then moved ever west towards the park. On the way we asked a doorman where the closest coffee shop might be. Espresso, on the corner of Madison and 64th, he claimed. After looking around this address several times we finally found it, and walked in to find, hmmm, how to describe it?? Super chic,mod, rich and hushed with a hostesses at the door. She informed us that there was a 15 minute wait for a table, we split. I mean really, this is just coffee we're talking about right? We found a little bakery coffee shop down the block and hoofed it over to the park. I forgot to take a picture of the cute peach berry tart, cookie and coffees we imbibed, but here are the remains.

For a weekday late-afternoon-evening, the park was suprisingly alive with kids, families, couples making out intensely, sports, games, musicians, strange hippy-violin chanters, everything. We walked by a spot where gentlemen played various yard games.

And then collapsed in Sheep Meadow.

It was a day weighted by memory and rich with the present.


Zoe said...

Gee whiz. Beautifully written Maria. I feel like a was there. And I love that last line and picture. What a great day.

Maria said...

I agree with Zoe. You like thinking and writing about food. I like sentences. To me, there's something delicious about a well written sentence. Well written meaning right for the context. Like a perfect shot of food, it can take your breath (sp?) away.
When did you learn to write like this?

I'd like to hear more about the sceptical part of your foodie life.

I'd like to know if you have any thoughts about one of my favorite breakfast dishes, the lumberjack special. It come with pancakes, eggs, meat. It's perfect after an early morning of lumberjacking.

Maria said...

Dear Readers,
Disclaimer: The comment that starts "I agree with Zoe" is not written by me but by my much mentioned mate. This was his first time reading my blog in many months. You can see he had much to say.