Saturday, March 29, 2008

New York notes

I'd been planning to write a much longer, more detailed account of the trip back to the city, but apparently I can only find so much space and time for writing these days. A few choice notes and comments will have to suffice.
  • The MoMA, post renovation. First, many thanks to Bonnie for arranging tickets for Banana and me. I don't think I've been back to the museum since I moved away, which means this was my first chance to see the rebuilt institution. The architectural work is remarkable, from opening up the galleries to creating some truly breathtaking public spaces in the common area. The place is still over-run by tourists and far too crowded, but that's a problem common to any of the major museums in the city. In any case, it is a pleasure to see the permanent exhibitions given more room to breathe, and the placement of Matisse's "Dance" is memorable. The special exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind seemed like it would be fascinating, but it wasn't as kid-friendly as I'd hoped and the crowds made it feel absurdly claustrophobic. It's a pity, though, because it looked truly cool. The other special exhibition—Color Chart—was a little more kid-friendly, however, and Banana and I sat for a while in front of the Rothkos, talking about the different colors he was using.
  • Street corner falafel. This was my first stop after we got off the train in midtown. Falafel. With everything. Bliss, pure and simple.

  • Brunch at The Farm on Adderley. When I lived in Brooklyn, Ditmas Park was still the boonies to all of us who were moving out to the boro. Or rather that's to say that it wasn't over-run by those of us who shop at organic markets and push our kids around in MacLarens—or newer, hipper strollers. Now, the neighborhoods have begun to shift and businesses catering to the Park Slope/Cobble Hill spillover have started to open, including restaurants like The Farm on Adderly. Just a couple of blocks from the Cortelyou Road train station, this place sources most of its ingredients locally, knows how to cater to families (the kids food comes first and quickly!), and serves very, very tasty fare to what seems to be a sizable foodie population. Their bloody mary was among the best I've ever had, and the poached egg with smoked trout and greens served on a potato latke was a near-perfect brunch item. Not that that quite takes the sting out of Banana's $8 hot dog—but, hey, it was organic...
  • Brooklyn dads. There's a uniform: sneakers (Converse or Vans, preferably), cool jeans or cords, layered t-shirts (either graphic, basic black, or ring-neck), v-neck or zip-collar sweater. It was one more small way I still feel more at home there than I do in Richmond.
  • Franny's redux. Saturday night, we gave Banana the choice of what she wanted for dinner. She said pizza, and Amy, Victoria, Banana, and I trotted over to Franny's to continue the locavore theme of the day. It was also the scene of one of our more remarkable meals on last year's visit. Ordinarily, I would break out and try new things, but I've dreamed of the clam pie I had last year. The crust is perfectly thin and crispy coming out of the brick oven. The pie itself has a few clams on it, some parsley, and some crushed chili. What makes it remarkable, however, is the preparation: they saute the clams in butter in white wine and brush the crust with the liquid from the saute before it goes in the oven. The result is one of the near-perfect dishes ever. The margherita with fresh buffalo mozzarella is damn good, too. So are the wood-roasted olives. And the wine... sigh...
  • The Prospect Park Zoo.In the years I lived on the other side of the park, I never ventured into the zoo. At that time, it was still trying to be a full-service zoo of some sort. After the WCS began to consolidate the zoos and aquarium, the mission became more focused on being a small, family-friendly place. They've achieved this, providing good proximity to the animals and a fun sea lion show. More importantly, they have a baby kangaroo, and it's pretty damn cute.