Monday, October 25, 2010

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The Hudson River from the High Line in Chelsea on Saturday afternoon (click on images to enlarge

On Saturday my good friend from high school, Suzy Ferenczy MacEnroe, came to NYC for a visit. Suzy and I grew up together upstate, in New Hartford, New York. Our families share a history, and we recently got in touch again. She always had an infectious laugh and a good way with a story, and she still does. Suzy now lives in Beacon, New York, with her family, and she took the train in on Saturday to the Big Apple.

Suzy is unfamiliar with New York so I wanted to give her my take on the city, show her my corner of the world, so we went out to a few spots in my Chelsea neighborhood. First we headed over West 15th Street to the Chelsea Market. You know I'm a big fan of the Chelsea Market.

It was the first time that I noticed those oxidized metal strips across the front of the building. I think the developers of the Chelsea Market did a great job melding new modern elements with the industrial character of this building.

First stop in the Market, Anthropologie. I always like to see what they are up to at Anthropologie. This shelf unit was filled with colorful objects.

I love this tall rolling industrial cart. It looks like carts I recently saw at the Brooklyn Flea.

This big wooden painted table had a metal top, and a huge industrial floor lamp stood over it.

The table was labeled:

This low rolling cart was covered with paint, as if it had come out of an artist's studio. I saw similar carts at the Brooklyn Flea.

These pieces at Anthropologie costs like $4,000 each. Bart Boehlert Beautiful Things tip: go over the Brooklyn Flea and find similar items for about $150.

We went out the back door of the Chelsea Market and climbed the stairs to the High Line, the fairly new elevated park designed on formerly deserted train tracks. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. The Hudson River shimmered close by under thin iridescent clouds. Heaven.

We walked to the end of the High Line at 20th Street. Through the locked chain gate fence we could see the next extension which will be stretching north but is not open yet. Though it is on an elevated track in busy Manhattan, it somehow looked to me like a charming path through an English village.

Then we headed back down to the southern end of the High Line which ends in the Meatpacking District. TD and I were up on the High Line about a year ago, and the neat thing about it is that the plants and trees are getting bigger and filling in. Every year it gets better and better.

It's almost like you're in the woods. The landscape designers did a great job.

An Asian tourist asked me to take a picture of he and his wife, but his camera battery was dead. Then he took a picture of Suzy and I.

We met up with TD and proceeded to the Irish pub, The Brass Monkey, for a refreshment before we walked home and had dinner. Here are TD and Suzy talking at the bar.

It was fun to visit with Suzy and catch up and reminisce about old times. High school was such a long time ago. To be honest, I didn't actually have the greatest time in high school, but like the current campaign says:
"It Gets Better."
It really does.
And it was great to see a dear old friend.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eataly by Mario Batali and Friends

The wine store at Eataly.
TD and moseyed up to 23rd Street recently to check out Eataly, the new 50,000 square foot food emporium dedicated to the culinary delights of Italy. Chef Mario Batali and his longtime partner Joe Bastianich and Joe's mother restaurateur and cookbook writer Lidia Matticchio Bastianich teamed up with Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti to open the sprawling complex at the end of August in the Toy Building on West 23rd Street close to Fifth Avenue.
It was a lot of fun and quite a scene but, don't go when we went, late on a Saturday afternoon, because it was really mobbed. There was a lot to look at for sure but the crowds of people made it hard to navigate. Try to go an an off hour because many delights await – including a bakery, a fresh pasta counter, a selection of local produce, a gelateria, an espresso bar, and a book department.

This area provided a place to stand around tables where people were eating cheese and prosciutto.

The wine bar offered wine by the glass. It was funny to see people grocery shopping carrying a big glass of red wine.

A beautiful fresh fish counter.

Rows and rows of olive oil.

A wonderful butcher and friendly too. No one wants to get roughed up by the butcher. We bought a pound of skirt steak which was really delicious at home sauteed in a pan.

There are lots of places to sit and eat including a pizza and pasta restaurant, a vegetable bar, and a seafood restaurant.

The famous Lidia was there signing cookbooks

near rows of chic bottled beer. At some point a 300-seat beer garden will be opening on the roof featuring a microbrewery and guest Italian brewers making regionally and seasonally-specific beers. I know. Heaven.

We escaped the mobs and found some respite in the neighboring Eataly wine store.

A friendly clerk there told us that founder Oscar Farinetti has several Eatalys in Italy and Japan, and that this was his first in the United States. It looks like he and his partners have a winner. The wines were from the north of Italy, Piedmonte, which is where TD's grandmother was from. We chose a bottle of Barbera D'Alba which went very well indeed with our skirt steak. Perfetto.

October 19 update: Today The New York Times covers Eataly, read it here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Visit with Carolyne Roehm

BB and Carolyne Roehm (click on photos to enlarge)
Dear reader, your loyal correspondent recently had the wonderful pleasure of visiting with the designer and author Carolyne Roehm at home in her beautiful New York apartment. The occasion was the imminent publication in November of her new book, A Passion for Interiors (Clarkson Potter).

We leaned against plump gold silk-covered pillows for a cozy video interview which you will find at the end of this post. She talked about her love of novels like Gone with the Wind, Pride & Prejudice and Rebecca which feature strong heroines, and Carolyne Roehm herself presents a fascinating story. As an only child of educator parents in Kirkville, Missouri, she moved to New York to be a fashion designer and became an assistant for Oscar de la Renta. In 1985 she married Henry Kravis, cofounder of the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and at the same time launched her eponymous fashion designer company, thus arriving at the grand pinnacle of the New York social and fashion worlds. In the early nineties after the marriage ended and her fashion house closed, she applied her exquisite taste, great intelligence, deep knowledge, and passion for flowers, entertaining, art and decorating to write books and lecture as a lifestyle expert.

This new book, her tenth, A Passion for Interiors, examines her love of classical architecture and decorating. "I am soothed and uplifted by the harmonious relationships between columns, capitals, entablatures and pediments, by the wisdom of classical order, the sublime perfection of proportion and scale," she writes. To illustrate her point, the tome presents her New York City apartment, her home in Sharon, Connecticut, and a house she designed in Aspen for her beau Simon Pinniger. This sumptuous book, which is richly photographed and elegantly designed, is an inspiring look at how one gifted designer has applied the classical style with flair in the modern age.

We met in Carolyne Roehm's living room in New York City, which features a double-height ceiling, eighteenth and nineteenth century art and furniture, and walls upholstered with chocolate brown velveteen.

(images from A Passion for Interiors)
Here is an artist's rendering of the room:

Her bedroom in New York also has upholstered walls, this time in a woven cotton of green and taupe flowers. She had her bed hand-upholstered in the same romantic fabric.

Carolyne Roehm's country home, called Weatherstone, is in the extremely picturesque town of Sharon, Connecticut.

In 1999, the house suffered a terrible fire and Roehm lost beloved art, furniture and antiques. The resourceful heroine found opportunity in the tragedy to build what she loves – a double-height living room. In the country, the palette is lighter: blue and green in a shell of white.

In the Aspen home she designed for her beau Simon Pinniger, I am recognizing Carolyne Roehm signatures: a double-height living room, bold color with white trim, and tantalizing textiles.

Carolyne was a warm and charming hostess, and we sat down to talk. "The things that bring life into a room – music, candles, flowers, dogs – that's what makes a room memorable," she said to me. And she told me what opera she listened to sixty times during one difficult three month period. I was lucky to arrange a visit as she was soon off with Simon for a month-long trip to Turkey and Egypt. Enjoy this visit with Carolyne Roehm:
Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fine and Dandy Formal Fridays

My friends over at Fine and Dandy have been busy selling their swell accessories to dapper guys. Now they have something new up their French-cuffed sleeves: the world has gone too casual in their opinion and so they are instigating anti-casual Fridays and encouraging friends and fans to dress up on that day. They asked me for a photo and I was happy to oblige as I am all for making the world more fine and dandy.
You can see yours truly on their blog here.
Incidently, I happened that day to be interviewing Carolyne Roehm, the designer, author and stylemaker, in her sumptuous New York City apartment about her new book coming out in November, A Passion for Interiors. It was an amazing inspiration to visit Carolyne Roehm at home. We did a video interview together which will be coming up soon here on the blog!