Friday, January 14, 2011

to the five boroughs

I stole the title of this post from a Beastie Boys song. It is also the title of a radio show we tuned in to on our drive across New Jersey into NYC. The deejay played a song by The Drums, one of my favorite new bands, a New York band by way of Florida, that I first heard on BBC Radio 6, and which only one of my New York friends (hi, Pete!) had heard of. Funny, that!

Enough about music (though everything is about music with me lately)! We were in New York for just a few days--a long weekend, really--to celebrate the 40th birthday of my friend Rob a.k.a. Robert a.k.a. (mostly to me and a couple others) Scooter. Rob and I have known each other for 20 years, and were roomates for several years when I lived in New York, and I love him most dearly.

Andy in the snow, in Queens.

I didn't take a ton of photos. I spent most of my time catching up with friends I miss terribly.

Andy and I headed into the city our first day and spent it walking in the snow. I love the hats on the walls at the 23rd Street subway stop. This one is supposed to be Henry James' hat.

We strolled past Gramercy Park, one of New York City's two privately-owned parks. You need to have a key to enter. I took this photo of Greg Wyatt's Fantasy Fountain sculpture from between the iron bars of the fence surrounding the park.

After walking many blocks in the snow, we happily reached our destination, Vandaag restaurant. It had been on my list of must-visit places since I'd read about their genever cocktails in my favorite booze blog (really, the only one I read), Off the Presses. The food is a mix of Dutch and Scandinavian treats. It and the cocktails were divine, and warmed us up nicely! Andy and I also fell in love with the bar stools here (you can see them in the photos in the Off the Presses post) and want to find some for the house.

I had to take a photo of this painted wall which had all my obsessions on it: frites, beer steins, cocktails (that might actually be a wine goblet), Scotland (and that a Belgian lion, but whatever, please just humor me).

You know how sometimes after you eat you feel even colder? I think there is a scientific reason for it: all that blood rushing to your belly, which is working to process your meal, making your extremeties colder. Or something. Well, that's how we felt after leaving Vandaag. The snow had mainly stopped, but it was still quite cold. So we ended up--to my shame--in McSorley's. I say "to my shame" because during my years in New York it always seemed like a place where frat boys and tourists went to drink too much and throw up--though, admittedly, I'd never been inside. Well, my first visit there was actually just fine. A little smelly, but filled with neat old stuff--a coal stove, ancient beer coolers, sawdust all over the floor, a funny bar menu ("Cheese Plates: Cheddar American"), and lo and behold, a pennant from my alma mater. A good place to warm up on a cold afternoon.

The next part of our visit entailed a trip to Brooklyn to visit Rob's beautiful new place and spend time in his neighborhood, and which also included a fun trip to the Brooklyn Flea Market.

And the best moment of the weekend? The birthday boy's celebration at Brooklyn's Clover Club. Potato chips fried in duck fat, catching up with the funniest, most delightful people I know, too many cocktails, and closing the joint down--all in the worthy service of celebrating the birthday of my dear friend. Love you, Scooter!



  1. What a great time it looks like you had! Not a hard thing to accomplish in NYC. What part of Queens were you in? I was born and raised in Astoria, all my family and friends are there and I miss them(and the city) constantly.

  2. ah I'm so jealous! So glad you had a great time :)

  3. Polly, I was in Astoria! I lived there for about 5 years. I love it and miss it so much! A few of my friends still live there (I left in 1998), though many have moved elsewhere--upstate, Brooklyn, Manhattan. I adored living in Astoria. I do wish I could get back more frequently for visits. I didn't even get to eat any Greek food this time!

  4. Ha! You left the same year I left. It has changed so much, since I left there has been a huge migration of people from Manhattan into Astoria which seems to have spawned a surge of cafes and real estate development. There is even a vintage clothing store(Loveday 31) in my neighborhood which I find totally surreal.

  5. Polly, that is wild! It *has* changed so much. I've been to Loveday 31--crazy to think there's a vintage shop in Astoria! I couldn't believe it when I heard that people from the city were lining up outside the (old) beer garden to get in.

  6. I love that Beastie Boys song, and perfect title too. Btw, your coat is adorable on you, Karen!
    I also remember being in that very same subway with all of the hats, if I find that picture, I'll have to share. Looks like you had such a great time, its so important to stay in touch with great friends!

  7. MMmm - I see that I need to make a visit to NYC next for cocktails! Sounds like a really great weekend.


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