Thursday, April 9, 2009

Japantown

Sunday was the most beautiful day in recent memory (since those glorious days of October, oh so long ago) and I couldn't help but take the Sunday papers up to Central Park for some outside time and to enjoy the nascent buds on the flowering trees.  I apparently was not the only one with this idea.

Half the city was up in the park, making for a very jovial atmosphere.

But at a certain point I had to admit that it really wasn't as warm as I wanted it to be, and that my time outside reading in the sun had actually left me exceedingly cold.  So I opted for a stroll around the Upper East Side, which, despite my populist tendencies, I absolutely adore (west of Lexington, at least).

Everything is just so beautiful, so perfect, so luxe, so well kept, that it makes me feel as if all is well in the world.  Ironic I suppose, since I imagine there are quite a few banker/hedge funders behind those limestone facades these days who would disagree.  But then I suppose that is the beauty of being on the outside looking in...I can live in blissful ignorance without knowing any of the ugly back stories.

And thus I can enjoy, unencumbered, the fabulous collection of cut flowers at Dean & Deluca (the Madison Ave location does a better job of creating the illusion of perfection than the Soho location I think):

And look how stunning the multi-colored roses just outside the store are!

It only seemed right to finish off my afternoon with another place that makes everything look perfect--my favorite Japanese grocery store, Katagiri & Co.

This tiny store on 59th Street carries what seems like every Japanese item there is.  Of course, I have never been to Japan, nor do I know too much about the cuisine, so I'm sure that I am the wrong person to ask when it comes to understanding how extensive the inventory really is.  All I can tell you is that to me it all feels very exotic.

The miso section alone is rather impressive:

I counted twelve different types of miso.  And also spied some fertilized chicken eggs.  At $8 per dozen I took a pass, but I must say they've been on my mind all week, so I may have to splurge the next time that I'm there.  Does anyone have any experience with them?  Are they delicious, or is there no difference?

The noodle and tofu section is equally well stocked:

Sadly no handmade noodles or anything, but there are plenty of packaged fresh noodle options and clearly loads of different types of tofu.

But the piece de resistance?  The fish, oh the fish!

Sadly, they are imprisoned in styrofoam and plastic packaging, but the pieces are stunningly beautiful nonetheless.  A bit like a box of jewels I think.  I picked up a lovely piece of salmon (only $2.50!  I will admit it was rather small, but it certainly sufficed for my dinner), sauteed it in my grandmother's cast iron skillet and draped it over my soba noodle soup.  Lovely, and I felt oh so virtuous.

I came home with quite the bag of loot:

And everything was perfect.  

6 comments:

Terry B said...

What a wonderfully diverse day, Laura, all in one neighborhood. Sometimes I'm amused at how New Yorkers seem to think that various neighborhoods in Manhattan are so far away. But I realize it's because each neighborhood has such an amazing variety of stuff that one rarely has to leave the neighborhood to find something. The wonders of critical mass.

Laura [What I Like] said...

It's true...people do have a distinct feeling of travel when we leave our little areas. I also think the uptown/downtown divide has as much to do with culture as it does with travel time.

Ann said...

I love Japanese food. A day in the park could be such a relaxing thing to do isn't it? And flowers...ahh...nothing like flowers to make me feel good and happy...pretty much like a chocolate.

Jackie @PhamFatale.com said...

I love Japanese food. Thanks for sharing and educating us about this cuisine.

Mary-Laure said...

Reading the paper in the Park... That's one of the things I miss about NY.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Well I think I may have been reaching a bit on the reading outside thing...it was a little too windy and a little too cold for it to be as wonderful as I was hoping it would be!

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