In Which Summer Continues to Elude

I keep hoping that somehow we will get a summer, and the weather has been teasing a bit with slivers of warmth and sunlight, but for the most part it’s been cold, drizzly, and really quite frustrating. But of course that didn’t stop the shenanigans—I had guests to entertain.

On Tuesday I left work and turned towards Midtown where I met Mom and Janis at The Playwright. Yes, we had ended up at one of the infinitely many Midtown Irish bars. I haven’t made a study of it, but I’d wager there are more Irish bars in Manhattan than in all of Ireland. It’s a veritable obsession here, but blessedly most at least seem to be run by actual Irish people who can pull a half decent pint. After eating our giant plates of pub food, Janis and Mom headed off to the theatre and I, lazy thing that I am, went home to lounge around in bed and read. If I’m perfectly honest, lying around reading in bed is definitely in my top ten favourite ways to spend an evening. I guess I’ll always be a librarian at heart.

The following day we met Chuck on the sunny steps of the Post Office next to Penn and set off for supper. We had intended to try a Peruvian place but it was terrifically busy and only had a pending food safety grade so we headed next door to a Thai place that has fed many a dancer without any evidence of illness. There was an awful lot of mango and avocado on that menu and somehow I didn’t end up with any of either. What can y’do? Once fed we headed off to dance where Janis and Mom learned a bit about west coast swing and hopefully had a nice time before they headed back home and I carried on dancing.

Come Thursday while my charges were out on a night tour, I took the opportunity to pass out at home and attempt to offset my current round of insomnia with an early night. The results were mixed.

Finally it was Friday and I wandered out of work and into Nolita in search of that ambrosial liquid: wine. It’s not often you see somewhere in New York with 4.9 stars on Google Maps, but Nolita Wine Merchants is one of those rare beasts that do. It was a simple store but the staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and amusingly excited about their picks. I left with a red from France near Switzerland, a white from the heel of Italy, and a rather large stupid grin on my face. I so enjoy sales people who are passionate about what they sell.

Shortly thereafter, my wine and I were running for the Path train with Chuck to visit friends in Jersey City for supper. They just moved into a terribly posh apartment and had invited us over to see it. To contextualize, we got lost in the lobby and were “helped” by the most hipster barista I have ever encountered. “Um, where do we find the lobby?” “mhm.” “Oh, so this is the lobby?” “mhm.”

We only wandered around for a few minutes before eventually finding the Information desk where we were at last given directions to where the coffeeshop/lounge space turned into an actual apartment building. When we finally outwitted the ever so high tech door (someone let us in as they were leaving), we found ourselves before one of those hideously clever elevator banks that ask you where you want to go, make a few optimization calculations, and then send you to a specific elevator that will take you most efficiently to your floor. There ain’t nothing like a buttonless elevator to unnerve a person. Bonus points, this one tells you what floor it will be stopping on by illuminating sections of an art piece on the wall which just happens to contain the numbers from 1 to how ever many floors there are.

But once you wrangle all the high tech, it’s pure minimalist luxury with a view of midtown, a pool, a roof deck, and all the accoutrements of the good life. For our part, we sat on the floor and ate a wonderful meal of salmon, zucchini, and potatoes paired with probably too much of those lovely Nolita wines. I hate to go on, but I really must tell you about the one. I had never previously had a Poulsard but the salesperson had been so terribly excited about it and it was on sale, so I went for it and I have no regrets whatsoever! It was a light red with bright berry flavours and an almost peppery body with hints of heaven only knows what. It was heaven in a glass and I might need more.

And there we sat in a wine haze, at the edge of a food coma, with the lights of Manhattan gleaming out the window beside us until nearly 2am when we headed back to the Path that carried us into the city to sleep.

The next morning we were up at 10 to meet mom in the local cafe where we slurped down our caffeine in matcha form before drifting down to Ceci-Cela for their inimitable pastries. We then picked up Janis and hopped on the train with ambitions of Prospect Park. Right about the time the train whipped through the Prospect Ave station without even a hint of deceleration, I began to sense that something was amiss. This is why, no matter what app you follow, come the weekend in New York, it’s The Weekender or sheer disaster on the trains.

When we finally made it to the park, we found it chockablock full of families, dogs, and sports. Mom and Janis took the grand self-guided tour de parque while Chuck and I contentedly passed out on the lawn. Contentedly that is, until we were nearly mown down by a swarming herd of small ones. They had been playing baseball, but then the game ended and the parents weren’t ready to reintroduce their children to the confines of their flat, so the dads got a game of football going and there ain’t nothing like a whole crew of excited 6 year olds playing football to create chaos.

Once Mom and Janis had finished with the park, we headed to my favourite bagel shop for lunch. I found the place on my first week in Brooklyn and by god is it ever good! The prices are right, the menu is extensive, and the bagels are hand-rolled perfection. If you’re ever in Windsor Terrace with an empty tummy, Terrace Bagels is the place to go. I had a breakfast bagel and left terrifically full and not a bit hungry.

From one park to another we then caught a train up to 57th where we made a quick stop at both the Carnegie Hall and the Plaza Hotel before finding our way into Central Park. It seems all the brides come out in June. Within five minutes of entering the park we had seen three different wedding parties and would continue to see more the duration of the day.

As we wandered Northwards we were amused by the rowboats—some of which were blowing through the water stern first with rowers who seemed none the wiser, relaxed by the Ramble, and delighted by a roller skating party that surpassed all expectations for roller skating in the park. The bulk of the people participating were 50+ and they were not just roller blading around, they were dancing! It was a total party scene and all these middle aged folks were out rocking out like I’m sure they did as teenagers and young adults. It was a beautiful thing to see and many of them were insanely skillful as they glided and bopped around on their ancient roller skates.

After more wandering and a wide range of happy dogs, I left Janis and Mom to attend a free concert while I headed home. Before I even got out of the park, however, I was distracted by open air argentine tango. The majority of the folks there fell on the average side of the dance world, but there were a few who were just divine, so I sat and I watched, and sometime later I eventually peeled my bottom off the bench and went home to put food in my face and sleep.

Sunday morning saw me up bright and early for breakfast with Mom. We were up so early that most of the brunch spots still hadn’t opened their doors, fortunately Russ & Daughters Cafe had. We cozied into the retro diner decorated space and settled into a feast of Jewish cuisine. Mom had an omelet with onions and lox which somehow tasted so much better than all those things normally do when combined. For my own part I ate latkes, fried egg, and lox. Between these eggy, salmony delights, we also munched on bagels, bialys, challah, and rye. And then in a mighty fit of whimsy we tried the drinks. Mom had an egg cream which is essentially milk mixed with seltzer and I had a cucumber soda. Both were unexpectedly delicious.

We spent the rest of the morning chatting at my place before wandering over to meet Janis and conduct a quick tour of the LES. We ate North Dumplings, visited the Pickle Guys and Kossar’s, Doughnut Plant and Economy Candy. Outside Economy Candy I actually saw the guide who’s route I’ve stolen with only the smallest variations, and I did feel a small bit sheepish, but he neither recognized me nor seemed to find me suspicious so I carried quietly on.

And then it was on to Russ and Daughters Appetizing Shop before Mom and Janis headed into Midtown to catch a show.

I caught up with them again a few hours later for a wander into Hell’s Kitchen in search of Peruvian. We ended up in the highly reviewed Pio Pio 8 which from an unassuming entryway opened into a giant basement with twig lined walls, brown paper clad tables, loud music, and an aura of trendiness nearly to thick to penetrate. Normally “trendy” tends to turn me off, but when you can get 1/4 of a rotisserie chicken and a giant plate of tostones for $10? Well count me in! And it was downright delicious with such a savoury crispy skin! From there we moseyed on down to Bryant Park where we stumbled on a MAC launch with flashing lights, salsa dancers, and glitter galore! And then it was time to get my guests off to the Rockefeller and I was off to the Heights.

Monday morning began with a longer than usual commute and ended with a looming migraine and a pile of pastrami. It was one of those days with high humidity and low cloud and by mid afternoon I was steeping in a mountain of nausea and neck tension that could only possibly mean migraine. I bailed out of my evening obligations and crashed into bed for an hour and a half long nap. Somewhere out the other side, I was functional but in no way ready for excitement so we set salsa aside, and headed to Katz for comfort food and deliciousness. There is just no pastrami like Katz pastrami! And then it was home to bed to sleep of the dregs of the migraine.

Today was mad busy followed by mad frustrating followed by mad excellent. I left work in a cloud of papers and ran to the optometrist to get my contacts checked only to find that my optometrist is no longer “in-network” so I can’t use my insurance to buy contacts from them. Charming, right? So then I spent an hour sorting out where on earth to buy my lenses. Fortunately, my evening quickly looked up as I met a dance friend for dinner at an oh so trendy little Mexican joint. We got in on account of a cancelation and filled up on tequila drinks blended with corn puree, fish tacos, spicy shrimps sandwiches, and succotash! And it’s the cutest little restaurant too with paper cuttings strung from the ceiling like Tibetan prayer flags and the most charming, attentive servers.

Come time to clear out for the next reservation, we wandered back to my friend’s flat for tea and gossip until after 11:00 which is why this is coming to you so very late. Please believe that the delay was necessary to my sanity and health?

Late but not forgotten,
The Salsa Girl

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