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Entries about nyc

Christmas Markets 2016

NYC & Berlin

Some of my earliest memories took place in New York City, especially at Christmas time. I was born and lived in the Bronx, and my father’s business was on 35th Street in mid-town Manhattan, the part of the city that I’ve known and loved all my life. It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered Soho, the Village, Central Park, Museum Mile, the High Line, and all of the other places I grew to love. For me, 30 West 35th Street was the center of New York. It was the perfect location nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, next to the back entrance of Orbach’s department store. Orbach’s is long gone, (it’s now a Banana Republic) along with B. Altman’s, Gimbels, and FAO Schwarz, the toy store with the foot piano featured in the movie BIG. 30West.jpg
Every year at Christmas my family would visit all the windows. Very few are left: Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and a couple of others remain and are worth seeing, especially now with all the available technology. Now, the windows are interactive and dazzling. Back then, we would visit the windows, shop, leave our packages at my father’s store and go to eat. Our favorite restaurant, also long gone, was Mamma Leone’s where we would eat until we could not eat anymore. And then we would have warm zeppole, dripping with powdered sugar. To this day, no one has ever made it better, in my opinion. ChryslerBldg.jpg
Just a few blocks away from 30 West 35th, I met Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions who still guard the greatest public library in the world. Near the library is Bryant Park, which was not someplace to go back then. It harbored homeless people and drugs and just wasn’t safe. Now, it’s a destination. Every year the park hosts one of the city’s holiday markets as well as an ice-skating rink and a tree. It’s become part of my new traditions, in addition to visiting the amazing Rockefeller Center tree.
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Last week, I went to Bryant Park to the Christmas market. Inspired by the European markets, the vendors there have a wide array of hand made and home made products and you never know what you're going to find. If you go, you are not only supporting small businesses and artisans, you can find unique products like the truffle honey I found.

A few days ago, one of the Christmas markets in Berlin was attacked and shoppers were killed. There was talk of closing all the German markets for the rest of the season. They decided to reopen and yesterday wary shoppers returned. As someone who lives close enough to NYC that I saw the cinders and ash from the Twin Towers when they fell, and as someone who was in Paris during both the Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan attacks, I’ve thought about fear and terror quite a bit. Fear is real. All over the world there have been irrational, horrific, sometimes random attacks in unexpected places like Nice, a beautiful beach town. Whether I go to New York, to Paris, or to a movie theater, I have decided that if I stop traveling, if I give in to fear, they—whoever they are—-have won. If markets close, if I cower in my home, if I choose fear, then I lose out on so much. And that is not acceptable.

Posted by teethetrav 08:17 Archived in USA Tagged paris berlin nyc macy's christmas_markets bryant_park charlie_hebdo orbach's fao_schwarz bataclan mamma_leone patience_fortitude b.altman's lord&taylor Comments (0)

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)

Cruising to Bermuda

Norwegian Breakaway

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I am no longer a virgin. I've taken my first cruise. And survived Hurricane Joaquin and the Bermuda triangle, although on Day 2 that was not something I was taking for granted. Days roll by on a ship, I discovered. Time is unimportant and news revolves solely around where you are eating your next meal. But I digress. Day 1 we boarded in New York City as Hurricane Joaquin was just in front of the east coast. It was heading directly for Bermuda and so were we. By afternoon, our sailing had been delayed until 2 a.m. of Day 2. Since I was fearful of seasickness and the ship was tightly anchored in port next the Intrepid, I felt solid and safe. Almost as if we were on land. That night we had dinner and saw Cirque de Soleil which was truly amazing. Then we went to bed for a few hours and set our clocks to see the ship leave NY harbor.
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The New York skyline is one of my favorite views anywhere and to see it lit at night from the water is one of the most amazing sights I think I'll ever see.
Watching the skyline disappear, the bridges twinkling like diamond necklaces, and seeing the Statue of Liberty is an experience I rank up there with my favorite travel moments. I've lived in or near New York all my life and my ancestors sailed into the same harbor. Leaving NYC by ship make me think about all they had gone through to get to the US.

Later that morning, we were rocking and rolling. The sea was rough and none of us were doing well. Most of the people on board were not doing well. My accoutrements (wrist bands, patch, ginger candies) were not helping. I resort to drugs and by evening, it was all good.

Posted by teethetrav 03:21 Archived in USA Tagged nyc intrepid statue_of_liberty cruising bermuda norwegian_breakaway Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 12: Love, Sephora, & Perfume in Paris

Finding perfume is a lot like falling in love. A scent strikes you and you just know it's one you can connect with and wear for a very long time. Buying a new perfume was on my "perhaps" Paris list. "Perhaps" because it is never a sure thing you will find the right one. Kind of like online dating. How many dates would you have to go to find someone you have chemistry and compatibility with? That's how I am with perfume. I find very few that I like; fewer that I love. And if I'm going to wear a scent, I need to love it.

I thought my search for perfume would bring me back to Sephora; the perfume and make-up mecca of Paris. In 1999 I entered Sephora for the first time. The flagship, original store was and is on the Champs-Elysees. I remember the experience as clearly as, well....any other significant first. The smell, the allure, the staff all dressed in black (what else?), and rows and rows of perfume, make-up, lotions and potions. I spent hours trying on perfumes, which you spray on tiny pieces of cardboard instead of your skin, so as to not confuse the scents. Finally, when the selection gets narrowed to a mere two, it's time for a spritz. One on each wrist. Then, you wait for the alchemy to take place. Perfumes smell differently on your body and change as they interact with your own chemistry. I love science. Especially when it's intertwined with magic.

A year or so after losing my virginity to Sephora in Paris, I discovered there was a New York City Sephora on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. That one too, was bliss. Sadly, it has since closed. But now Sephora is ubiquitous. It is even in Penny's department store. Really.

Anyway, I planned to reunite with the Champs Sephora at some point during this trip, specifically to see if I could find a new love. But love is funny. Sometimes it finds you when you least expect it. Yesterday while walking through St. Germaine, a petite table holding a single, elegant bottle suddenly called to me. Next to the bottle were those tiny pieces of cardboard. "Try me," the bottle whispered. Feeling a bit like Alice through the looking glass, I sprayed, smelled, and waited. Suddenly, a man appeared in the doorway. He spoke in French, a bit too quickly for me to catch what he said.

"Je parle Francaise, un peu," I said. He smiled. "Ah! In English, then. Give me your wrist." As he gently misted my wrist, I knew I was lost. The fragrance was intoxicating. It was all there. Light, charm, elegance, familiar yet at the same time new, a suggestion of gardenias on a summer night, slightly romantic with a hint of sexy. It was love. It was Only for Her by Hayari-Parfums.

"I'll take it," I said, without even asking the price.
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Posted by teethetrav 08:19 Archived in France Tagged paris france love nyc champs_élysées perfume rockefeller_center st._germaine hayari-parfums penny's Comments (0)

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