A Travellerspoint blog

A New York City Day

From Harlem to the East Village

It’s funny, but I don't think about NYC as a place to blog about. To me, NYC doesn’t seem like travel since I was born in the Bronx and my father worked in Manhattan most of his life. Although we moved to New Jersey when I was young, we were never more than an hour away so going to NYC was something I took for granted. I never knew New York was, well, NEW YORK. I don’t know how old I was before it dawned on me how lucky I was to have grown up in and around one of the greatest cities in the world and that this was a place that people aspired to come and visit. Now, when I go to New York I make it a point to talk to tourists. I ask them how far they came to be here and where they are from. I want to know if it’s their first time and what they have seen. Last week I met a couple from Australia who were here for two weeks. We had a great chat about what they had seen so far, where they had eaten, where they were staying, and their impressions of New York.

I love New York. It makes me happy that I’ll never get to see everything there is to see or do no matter how many times I go. It fills me with joy that there is always another new restaurant to try, or a favorite one to go back to again and again. Ruby Foo’s on Broadway is one that I’ve been to and over and over. If you go, have a Ruby Foo, their signature drink. Bring a group. It’s a fun place to eat a million little things that you share with friends.
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Recently, I went to New York with my daughter to celebrate a significant birthday (hers, not mine). We went all out and ate at two of our bucket list restaurants and, the coup de grace, saw our favorite actor Liev Schrieber on Broadway in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. First, we went uptown to Harlem to eat at the amazing Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster. If you don’t know him, read his remarkable memoir Chef. It’s a great book and his is an inspiring, uplifting story that brought me to tears. Speaking of tears, the cornbread at Red Rooster is so delicious I nearly cried. I know. Cornbread. But it is indescribably good. Everything was. And we loved the whole atmosphere and decor. This is a cozy, feel-at-home, unpretentious place and I plan to go back. Hopefully soon.
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Next, we saw the show. It’s a limited run and the story is raunchy, sexy, funny, and quite sad. And words do not convey the steamy appeal of Liev Schreiber. Suffice it to say, when his shirt came off, there was an audible gasp throughout the audience. Whew.
We waited outside the stage door and he graciously took photos and signed autographs. What a sweet man. I can’t wait for the next season of Ray Donovan on Showtime!
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Finally, it was time to go down to the East Village to David Chang’s Momofuku for his famous noodles. They were everything! Porky goodness with an egg floating on top. But the sublime experience, for me, was the shitake mushrooms on buns.

All in all, it’s a hard call to say what was the yummiest thing all day. Gun to my head, Liev was definitely the winner.

Posted by teethetrav 13:11 Archived in USA Tagged nyc chef ruby_foo red_rooster david_chang momofuku liev_schrieber marcus_samuelsson ray_donovan Comments (2)

Gwyneth Paltrow, Emily, and Me

NYC Barnes & Noble

Gwyneth Paltrow, Emily, and Me

A trick I use when I create a fictional character is to visual who would portray them in the movie. It helps me to write when I can visualize the character; it gives them life, and they become incredibly real to me.

When I created the character of Emily Williams, the mother in my novel HARDSCRABBLE WAY, I visualized Gwyneth Paltrow. I could see Gwyneth as Emily running to classes in yoga pants as she played a privileged but unhappy wife. I even gave her a song to sing because I love that the multi-talented Gwyneth can sing. I imagined Gwyneth portraying Emily as she falls into the depression that strikes her after a tragic event causes the family to lose their money and forces Emily and her daughter to become homeless. I can see Gwyneth rising above the misfortunes to become a stronger, better woman and mother.

When I saw that Ms. Paltrow was going to be at the 5th Avenue Barnes & Noble signing her newest cookbook It’s All Easy, I decided to go, give her my book, and tell her how I created Emily for her to play in the movie. Pretty cheeky of me, right?

I waited on line in the rain April 12 until the store took pity on us brave souls and let us inside. Little did they know exactly how brave I was. It took every ounce of courage I had to pitch my book and gift it to Gwyneth. I was terrified. I think I was afraid security would kick me out for giving her my book and my press release. No such thing. Her people took my cell phone to snap photos of me with her as she signed my cookbook while I told her I wrote a character in my book for her to play in the movie. I told her I’d be honored if she would accept my book.

Not only is she stunning, she is gracious and lovely and I swear, she glows. She seemed genuinely excited as I spoke and she accepted my book. I am so glad the photos are here so I can see her reaction, because I was completely star-struck and not fully present in the moment. I’ve met and spoken with my share of celebrities. None of them caused me to go weak in the knees like she did.

So I pitched Gwyneth Paltrow my book and I’m happy to share these photos. It was an out-of-body experience.

HARDSCRABBLE WAY is available and Barnes & Noble online, and on Amazon as a paperback and an ebook.
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Posted by teethetrav 12:48 Archived in USA Tagged nyc amazon novel gwyneth_paltrow hardscrabble_way barnesandnoble tinajgordon.com Comments (1)

Pray for Paris

November 13, 2015

As by now everyone knows, Paris was assaulted last night by cowards who murdered and maimed innocent people. As an American who lives a train ride from NYC and watched that city change forever, I know there are no words to say today that will make sense or make anyone feel better. But Parisians are tough birds, like New Yorkers. They are out this morning doing their Saturday chores in my neighborhood, which is not a touristic part of the city. They are not hiding in their homes and cowering in fear. If they do, the terrorists win. The mood is somber, but determined.
Everywhere I've gone during the past month I've been here, people have spoken about their concerns over ISIS and world events. The conversations didn't prevent what happened, of course, but at least people here don't pretend everything around them is fine when it clearly is not.
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Posted by teethetrav 04:48 Archived in France Tagged paris terror Comments (1)

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Frank Gehry Architecture

I love Louis Vuitton. I love Frank Gehry architecture. Last year, when I read that the Louis Vuitton Foundation was opening an art museum on the outskirts of Paris and they had chosen Frank Gehry to design it, I was over the moon with excitement. The Foundation opened the museum in October 2014. The new building is adjacent to the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the western outskirts of Paris. It caused a bit of an uproar before it opened when the village didn't want the Foundation because there is only one narrow road leading to the building. The villagers didn't want their pristine Jardin disturbed. It worked out fine, although the village around the Foundation is lovely with much green parkland to enjoy and can understand their concerns. It's only about four miles from the center Paris, but it definitely feels like suburbia.

Frank Gehry is a genius. He designed the building to complement the Jardin. He used his usual glass and unusual surface materials. The materials change continually as they reflect the sun, the clouds, and the light. Honestly, I didn't care about the art inside, although there is much to see in the various galleries. The building changes as you walk around it. It is shaped like a sailboat, with translucent sails that seem to float through the air in the sky. The simple but elegant signage announcing the name Louis Vuitton, is perfect. The cascading fountain is tranquil and unique. I have longed to go to Bilbao to see Gehry's Guggenheim there. After seeing this stunning structure, now I know I must go see it. Soon.
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The Jardin d'Acclimation alongside the Foundation is a beautiful park and I'm sure it's even better in spring and summer. There is a fee for the Jardin, but there is a free public park across the street with paths for hiking and jogging. A short Metro ride from central Paris and you can spend a day enjoying the amazing architecture of one of the world's most creative architects, the art in the Louis Vuitton Foundation, and serenity of the surrounding parks. The village is worth seeing, as well and has beautiful apartments, some quiet cafes, and little else to spoil the tranquility.
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Posted by teethetrav 02:37 Archived in France Tagged bilbao louis_vuitton_foundation frank_gehry jardin_d'_acclimation Comments (0)

Armistice Day in Paris: A Day of Remembrance

For My Father

It's probably not impossible for me to have a bad day in Paris, but I can't think of one. I have had several top of the line, it-doesn't-get-better-than-this days. More than my share. Today was one and it was all rather unexpected.

I had plans to meet an American friend who lives in Paris for lunch. It was her turn to pick the place and we met at a tiny Japanese restaurant in St. Germaine. We had not realized that it would be so busy, possibly since it was Armistice Day and many people have the day off to celebrate. In the US we call this day Veterans Day and although some people have the day off, mostly we have sales.

Since the Japanese restaurant was full, we went to Le Petit Chatelet a few steps from the bookstore Shakespeare & Co. I mostly ignore the restaurants in this area because they veer toward touristic menus. Not this place. Au contraire. I had the best meal I've had since I got to Paris.
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This is a small place with a wood-burning fire that is used, not for the decor and the ambiance, but to cook on. Wow. We arrived as they were opening and it was empty. It quickly filled up with every seat taken. We both had three courses, which I never do. I had an artichoke mousse for an appetizer. It was served with bread that had been toasted over the fire. My friend had a seafood melange over zucchini with flavors I couldn't figure out, but they were incredible. Her main dish was fish with capers which was indescribably moist and delicious. My entree was a lamb kabob with an array of vegetable chunks which had been cooked over the open fire. The crust on the lamb was perfect, the seasoning amazing, and the vegetables were burnt on the edges from the flames. I ate every piece of everything and then had the nerve to order dessert because they had profiteroles. We split a dessert, thank goodness, because there were two giant confections that no one could finish. This was a perfect meal.
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To follow that, my friend told me there was an ecumenical service honoring Veterans about to start across the street at Notre Dame. It was sponsored by the Royal British Legion so it was all in English. Off we went.

My father was a World War II Marine and I have always respected Veterans and try to honor them. But never before have I been to anything that truly captured the spirit of remembering as this ceremony honoring the 97th Anniversary of the Armistice. A piper led the procession into the Cathedral, followed by flag bearers. There were several speakers and prayers, but one of the more powerful parts of the service were two young students who read poems each had written. One was called "Remember World War I" and the other was "Do Not Forget." As a former teacher, I was impressed by their words. I couldn't help wondering if Americans students could ever write so movingly about a war that happened so many years ago and not on our soil. Sadly, we don't do a great job teaching history in the US, in my opinion.
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The British Ambassador gave a reading and the Reverend Alyson Lamb presented an address about remembering the wars in order to deal with today's troubled and violent times. Red poppies were pinned to everyone's clothes and the program ended with everyone singing the British National Anthem. The US stole this and wrote new words. We call it "My Country "Tis of Thee."

For the first time in my life, I felt part of an event that truly honored Veterans. Especially those who have lost their lives fighting for their countries.

My father loved a good meal. He was, especially in his later years, proud of his Marine service.

Today I honored him. From a perfect meal to a perfect ceremony in the historic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Semper fi, Daddy. Thinking of you.

Posted by teethetrav 08:57 Archived in France Tagged notre_dame semper_fi royal_british_legion veterans_day armistice_day le_petit_chatelet Comments (0)

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