01 March 2008

you gotta' have feith

tracy feith ... simple enough, right? just venture down towards paul frank on mulberry street, and stop short, just south of spring street. there, facing the park, is this relatively innocuous space - a psychedelic surfboard perched precariously in the window, all a-swirl with fuchsia and lime green.

that tracy. how DOES she do it?

oops. she's actually a he (sneaky devil, that boy!). and australian at that - very cheeky indeed. this is not your father's bondi beach. and this part of town, known for it's down-under flair (eight mile creek, ruby's) is a nice setting for this fab little shop, with even more fab little dresses for you, or the darling in your life.

flirty numbers are gingerly delivered to you by asian muses or brazilian, long-legged dames with enough panache to knock your socks off. runway models flutter in to pick up a sexy smock that they will inevitably wear with tight leggings to run errands, or just a pair of silver high heels for that party on perry street. husbands lounge nearby on the divan, staring out the broad floor to ceiling windows, past the park to pinkberry beyond.

the patterns, the workmanship, the design - all just right and oh-so-hip in the most non-self-conscious and conspicuous way. unique enough to make one feel great, these duds make a statement. a free-spirited version of another aussie great, richard tyler, both the shop and the clothes of tracy feith are sure to please, mate. not to mention, a gentle nudge from sarah jessica parker!

tracy feith
209 mulberry street 10012
212 334 3097

18 February 2008

turn a page ...

oh, the breakfasts at nolita's café gitane are all well documented, but there is a flip side to the sunday morning routine. like ying and yang, hot cocoa and whipped creme, fred astaire and ginger rogers, the east side and the west side - lies the post petit-dejeuner chillax at mcnally robinson bookstore on prince street.

what a lovely little spot! and indy bookseller - great - still thrives, but not in a tatty, been-on-the-block-for-a-hundred-years sort of way ... no, this place is a relative newcomer. we fondly recall the days when it had an outpost of teany (moby's café on rivington as the original) ... alas, café is still there, moby is not. but the real draw is the content - great books all neatly stacked, 'zines too - a great place to browse, and to treat yourself to a weekly selection of literature. fabulous design, travel, and cookbooks (the new bubby's pie edition) too - or just reading the onion atlas (heavenly wicked!).

the staff is steady - no huge turnover here - so when you return from your vacation abroad they ask you if the wallpaper guide they recommended was accurate, and if it came in handy. the lighting is great, as is the cutout towards the front of the store which lets the lower level breathe. the kids enjoy it too, flipping through their latest teen books, or sardonic issues lambasting the current administration in comic form.

this bookstore is an offspring of the canadian original, so it scores extra points in our family (we're all canucks by birth or naturalization, so it's just a 'cool' slice of home in the big city) ...

they wrap too!

mcnally robinson
52 prince street 10012
212 274 1160

08 February 2008

au courant

bienvenue a new york!

today, the cnn-like station france 24 is running a story, continuously, on new york. my interest is piqued, is yours? according to this venerable news source, midtown manhattan vendors have begun accepting a new hard currency - euros! soon they'll be bringing us levi's and chewing gum!

oh, remember the days (sickening) of freedom fries? of the vilification of the french? of dominique de villepin's smeared reputation at the repudiation of colin powell's (faux) assertions of weapons of mass destruction?

looks like they were right after all. and now that our dollar has plummeted against most major currencies, we're on the short end of the stick. with the euro now riding where the pound sterling used to hang out, it's good business to make it easy on the only people who can still afford to shop here - the europeans!

don't get me wrong - love 'em! but i'm having a serious pang of jealously as i seem the cavalierly picking up all our goods at such paltry sums. so lucky ... they get to live in paris, AND enjoy all that new york has to offer (lots!).

seems like just yesterday (2000) that we were jetting off to france for fanciful and cheap weekends ... when it cost 85 cents to buy a single euro, not $1.50-ish like it is now. oh, the pain! oh, the horror! now those de la chance continentals swoop in for le weekend and shop 'til they drop ...

mes amis, enjoy our fair city - please leave something on the shelves for us!

06 February 2008

so corny

have you ever tasted sweet grilled corn with lime, chili, and queso fresco before?

oh, it's divine, and nowhere more sinful than at café habana, at the corner of prince and elizabeth streets. a little dive, with long lines of hipsters, this cheap eatery is a staple of the nolita scene (pre-gentrification). the corn - excellent, fresh, and a meal in and of itself. i'm pleased to say that we've turned many a friend onto this joint, all of whom have thanked us profusely!

you will definitely be able to stomach the food (and mojitos) ... the wait is another story. but this place is simple and easy (and cramped) ... it's worth it!

café habana
17 prince street
212 625 2002

04 February 2008

feeling bookish

what a delight, to return to the much heralded morgan library. i have not had the opportunity to revisit the renzo-piano revived structure, which is both intimate and grand at the same time. and, more critically, i have been fantasizing about having lunch at the morgan dining room, which is a jewel of a space beckoning museum-goers with it's appropriate scale, lovely menu, and welcoming lighting.

so this past friday, i am treated to a rare day of no conflicts - kids in a good place, i zip into the city with my partner in crime. the wet nature of the day calls for an indoor one-hit wonder, and as we are just a few steps away from this venerable institution, we swing by, relieving ourselves of the outside world and our now dampened coats.

what a treat. the space, which joins three distinct morgan buildings, is not so much a building as it is a wrapper - it pulls together these structures, and creates a plaza which is airy, volumetric, and just right. filled with light, which filters in from many directions, it does not have the feeling of a 'mall' - rather, it is thoughtfully crafted, with views through and out to the bustle of madison avenue, or serenely to a bamboo laced garden.

the study, a cubic space masculine and commanding in nature, is imposing and grand. it's historic character is well preserved, and despite it's age it seems mysteriously modern. the librarian's office, likewise crisp and clean - bold too in it's inherent simplicity. and the archival library, which rises up with two hugging mezzanines and internal (inaccessible) staircases, is pure poetry - particularly for anyone in love with books (or filing, for that matter).

the residual gallery spaces and theater offer themselves up for less particular events - they have the ability to transform and adapt - on this particular day, drawings from the uffizi gallery in firenze are fittingly on fine view.

all this, capped off with an absolutely stellar lunch at the cozy dining room - which incidentally fills up quickly on days like these, with well-heeled patrons looking for a delicious mushroom tarte, glass of wine, and lavender creme brulée. excellent and informative service, complimentary frappé tastings, a spectacular variety of breads - all most welcome on a wet friday afternoon.

16 November 2007

crosby, still

today i had the pleasure of wandering around a tiny (and almost invisible) corner of manhattan.

although the moma design store, the apartment, and the more recent additions of sur la table and bloomingdale's imparted a certain caché to crosby street, this is still uncharted territory for many. a narrow thoroughfare sandwiched between broadway and lafayette, it has, in a certain way, the sense of being a 'back side' of two major north-south streets.

i love that name - crosby. the street looks like a crosby. i had an appointment on said street and showed up a bit early. although i know that entire area, somehow this one square block had eluded me (to be frank, i had walked it just three weeks early and was talking so much that i didn't pay it any attention!).

but today, i looked. crosby and howard streets intersect and are at the vortex of a compellingly strange mix - chinatown, soho, nolita all seem to start or end here. it's quiet, and it's hip - vespa soho ... lefroy brooks (our friend jeff would LOVE the oh-so-chromey airplane faucets - recalling a kindler, gentler era of air travel). there's la pizza shop - great hipster footwear - and laicale salon (tokyo, milan). around the corner lies the sweetest art supply shop. there is lucky bakery across from a shop that makes custom-made boots. a holiday inn of all things. carlos aparicio - very smart - as is bddw, a gorgeous and exotic millworking and furniture purveyor.

so nice to know that muji is just around the corner - pearl paint too, and le pain!

how delightful to explore this very compact 'space' on a clear and sunny autumn day, with my mustache, my cahier, my woolen trench coat with the big collar. i felt like kojak for some odd reason ...

hope you can make it down, baby!


14 November 2007

does it really matter?

this summer, jane and i had the pleasure of hanging out one lazy sunday afternoon with gelsomina and anthony. we whiled the afternoon away, sipping champagne and eating cheese, then enjoyed a stroll (and some ice cream) in their corner of brooklyn ... delightful!

i was ranting - what a shock - about how smith street is too faux-french-ified for me (every second restaurant is a pastis wannabe, and let's face it, who wants to be like pastis to begin with - except for the fries!). i also lamented the absolute overabundance of pillow stores - what is that, you may ask? well, let me tell you - no, shout it from the rooftops - enough with the large, square, bloated pillows! raw silk! velvet! embroidered! leather! stoppppp! every store on smith street carries an extensive and ridiculously priced range of pillows - what is everyone DOING with all of these pillows??? who's BUYING all of these pillows??? uggghhh.

at any rate, just as my tirade was picking up steam, we happened upon a small design shop called matter. hmmmm. no pillows in the vitrine. where could they be hiding them? we hesitated. maybe they have a pillow annex. should we dare go in?

we crossed the threshold into another world. matter. design. poetry in lighting, ceramics, creativity. some of these pieces you've surely seen in other places which are not as humble, or comforting, as matter. a delight! "where do you keep your large, square velvet pillows", i ask. "excuse me?", says the clerk in a bewildered tone. "well, we ARE still in brooklyn, aren't we? where ARE your pillows???", i insist. "well, we don't really carry pillows", she resists.


pillow free.

finally, i can focus on some interesting and thoughtful objects. "did you know that we have another location, in nolita?", she mentions casually. have a reached nirvana? "really? we're down there every sunday morning for breakfast", i reply, burnishing my brass buttons and smoking my pipe (not really). "well, do drop in some time", she smiled.

we did! we did! and we loved it! a totally quaint and pleasant shop calls out from the depths of broome street. the lovely zero table. the bowl made of fused toy soldiers. super fixtures. yeah!

so, the next time you need to lay your head down, forget smith street and do something that really matters...