Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Great Funk

Talk to just about anyone in New York at this time of year, and they'll tell you that they're sick of everything.  Three months of cold and snow will get a person down.  In fact, this is probably about the only time of year when 9 out of 10 New Yorkers will tell you that they would happily move to L.A.

I am not immune to the great funk, I admit.  As much as I rhapsodize about the seasons, the end of winter is not my favorite time of year.  I drag myself around, living my life, going through the motions, but by the end of the day I have very little interest in much of anything but the TV and the couch.  And when Paul is out of town, as he is now, that tendency is only amplified.

Sadly, this means that food becomes a bit of an afterthought.  For all of the talk one hears of wonderful winter braises, I have no interest in initiating such an undertaking these days.  But at the same time, takeout somehow only makes things more pathetic, so some sort of a compromise is called for, and that compromise is miso soup.

It requires so little effort I'm not even sure it could be called cooking, but I enjoy it immensely just the same.  Just boil a couple of cups of water, add a tablespoon or two of miso paste (the amount varies wildly depending on the miso you use, taste as you go), perhaps some soy sauce if, like me, you ended up with some organic miso that has almost no salt (rookie mistake, obviously) and you have your base.  Throw in whatever you've got in your refrigerator next.  Chicken, tofu, mushrooms, I absolutely must have some sort of leafy green...and then, most importantly, the noodles.  I find it critical to have those crinkly, guilty pleasure ramen type noodles, but this is a highly personal decision, so I leave it to your own good judgment to choose your carb.

And then, after no more than five minutes of effort, I once again sink into the couch, in front of the TV, with a steaming bowl of goodness, contently waiting out the cold.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


After weeks of spending most of my energy working and trying to avoid the cold, yesterday, which I spent out and about since the weather had relented a bit, felt like a reawakening.

After my customary poached egg and toast with a steaming mug of PG Tips in the morning and a lazy perusal of the newspapers, I was off to try a new exercise studio on the upper east side.  Now over the years I've given just about every yuppie workout regime in the city at least a cursory try (save for spinning, it scares me just a tad) so I can say with some level of authority that The Refine Method, aka my new find, is one of the best, if not the best, exercise options in New York for the spandex-clad, body conscious set.

After an hour class, I was completely worked out...strength, cardio, the perfect level of sweat and fatigue.  And I love love love the teacher/owner.  Hilarious, quick and absolutely no bs, exactly my kind of girl.  She's so great I don't even hate her for her incredible New York City Ballet body.

And upon reading her blog I am even more obsessed with her.  She has done her research, let me tell you!  Read about how crunches screw up your back, how the idea that stretching after working out makes your muscles long and lean is ridiculous (obviously, now that I think about it) and how "dancer" workouts will never get you to Natalie Portman in the Black Swan.  And somehow I even love that the studio is on an out of the way street in the basement of a church.  Basic, no frills, exactly how exercise should be.  And happily, the no frills aspect is reflected in the pricing.  Also as it should be (but rarely is).

After class, on a wave of endorphins, I floated over to Via Quadrono on 74th and Madison for a quick cappucino.   I have to admit, as much as I used to adore this place, I had abandoned it of late.  The wait for the tables became too long, the prices too high, and the other coffee options in this city have become so great, but I was in the good mood and figured I'd give it a shot.  Happily, there was a space at the oh-so-Italian bar to stand and drink, so that is what I did.

I may have had a cookie or two as well...

...which I nibbled on as I admired the gorgeous sugar dispensers that surrounded me.  How many coffee shops do you run across that have just barely tarnished silver vessels for crystals both raw and refined?  Even Stumptown, my current favorite, doesn't go that far.

After my midday snack I was off to the Met, inspired by my mother to see the new Cezanne exhibit.  It was in fact wonderful, although a bit more brief than I had imagined it would be.  I guess there aren't nearly as many "card players" paintings as I thought.  But no matter.  As I always do when visiting the museum, I headed upstairs to check out the photography and impressionist galleries.  And it was there that I came across the most fabulous exhibit...Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand.  STUN-NING.  Stunning.  The photos of the New York of old were my favorites.  Some haunting,

some with that angularity and color contrast that so perfectly conveys "metropolis".

Exactly the style that I was trying to emulate as an undergraduate photo student when shooting in west Philadelphia, and only partially succeeded in.

After the photos I felt that my museum experience could only go downhill, so I decided to head back out to Fifth Avenue, stopping only for a moment to admire the always-wonderful flower arrangements in the front lobby (cherry blossoms that day).

My stomach was gnawing at me a bit, and so I headed over to the nearest food truck that didn't have the word "Sabrett" on it.

Now normally I wouldn't touch a pretzel truck in New York with a ten foot pole.  All of them insist on those horrible giant heavy pretzels with too much salt that I swear must be stored in warehouses with rats running through them just before the vendors reheat them for our eating pleasure.  But this one looked different.

Jalapeno pretzels, garlic and thyme, feta and olives...could it be?  Is New York finally catching up to the gourmet food truck trend that so many others adopted years ago?  It seems that the community near the Met steps is.  My feta pretzel was warm, tender, tasty and just the right size.

The perfect ending to a revelatory day.
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