Saturday, June 23, 2012

Midsummer in Manhattan

The garden at Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan is one of New York's secrets. Located at 190th Street (take the A train and then the elevator), it once had sixty gardeners during it's heyday in the 1930's. Now there are four. 

It was established with Rockefeller money - or so I was told by a hunky gardener who I knew when I lived in Inwood years ago - and restored as a heather garden in the 1980's after many years of dereliction. It's a wonderful place to stroll. While there, you feel removed from the hustle and bustle of the City. Looking across the river, you see the Palisades

I took these photos (yes...with my iPhone) after returning from a party at a friend's apartment a few blocks away. We passed the Cloisters on our way to the subway. If you haven't visited this jewel of a museum, you are missing something! It wasn't open when we walked by, so, unfortunately, I did not take any photos.

Beautiful hydrangea at the southern end of the Park. 

After traveling downtown, I snapped the hydrangea at a house a few doors down from my building. 

Arriving at my door, the roses we planted a few years ago were in full bloom. Midsummer in Manhattan. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Umbrian Delicacies

This post might be considered an appetizer of sorts, consisting of shots I took of various meals while in Umbria last summer: I am looking forward to returning to Italy the last week of July with the Umbrian Serenades. The photo above is of antipasti which was delectable.  


Strangozzi, the traditional pasta of Spoleto, Italy. The sauce was peppery and spicy. My dinner companion started with the plate of braised radicchio. 

A plate of savory grilled meats. I could smell the fire being started and the meat being cooked- all on a cool summer evening with friends around the table. 

Truffles with arugula and a glass of Sagrantino

More lasagna! This time after a concert in Montefalco, Italy. 

A lovely pasta that melted in the mouth.

A lemony drink that a friend ordered for breakfast. I believe it was a digestive, and a festive one at that! 

More Strangozzi! The texture and taste of this pasta must be experienced firsthand to be appreciated. It's not heavy at all. This meal was made by Umbrian Serenades participants in a lively and fun cooking class. We made the dessert too, which was a light and custardy chocolate cake. Indescribably delicious. 

A dinner of grilled vegetables, bruschetta and white wine: memorable and one of the highlights. 

An unforgettable dessert of peaches marinated in Cointreau, savored while lunching with three wonderful friends at Il Panchiolle in Spoleto. Heaven in a martini glass. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Teatro Caio Melliso

I'll be returning to Spoleto, Italy, this summer, singing with the Umbrian Serenades, an amazing cultural/choral program.  I can't wait!  Here are some photos of a wonderful theatre in town, the Teatro Caio Melliso, which was built in the 17th century. You enter the doors above off the piazza and see the ceiling in the photo below. 

A short passage leads you into a beautifully painted room, which serves as an anteroom to the theatre itself. The theatre seats around 300 people. 

A touch of modernity on the steps leading into the theatre itself.

The photos don't quite reveal that the drapery is - in fact - painted- a nice touch! The stage itself is raked, which can be quite challenging work on. However, this does allow everyone in the house to see the performers. 

The first time I was in this theatre was in 1985 for a recital. I snuck into the uppermost balcony which was closed for renovations to hear a recital by a colleague who sang in Puccini's Fanciulla del West with the Spoleto Festival. It was glorious- the recital that is. The opera? It was a complete hoot, with direction by Bruce Beresford, and was mounted at the Teatro Nuovo, the big theatre in town. Caio Melliso, however, is a jewel.

The Umbrian Serenades awaits! Come join us!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tiffany on West 67th Street

Walk down West 67th Street in Manhattan on a fair summer evening and you will come upon a Tiffany lamp. It is, arguable, one of my favorite things in New York. Sometimes I walk down the street just to see its green turtlebacks glistening in the darkness. I must apologize, of course, since the photo above was taken with my iPhone. It doesn't quite capture the lamp's jewel-like beauty. 

A conversation with the doorman a few years ago revealed that the lamp was nearly stolen, the would-be thief managing to pry one of the supports loose before being caught in the act. The doorway is now well-guarded. On the same street? The Leopard at des Artistes. It's at the end of the block and replaces the legendary Cafe des Artistes. Tiffany's lamp will light the way if you walk from Broadway to Central Park West. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tea with the Queen

I'm one of those ancients that still has the New York Times delivered to my door, and was delighted to see a picture of the Queen of the British Isles on the front page yesterday. There she was, barging down the Thames. So, what to do? Have a spot of tea in the afternoon. 

The tea towel which commemorates the Queen's Jubilee is from Ben Penreath LTD. You can find it here. Mine is one of two and is rumpled and ready. It hangs from an old brass towel rod that I attached to the cabinet. 

The cabinet itself is Aesthetic Period and holds an assortment of odds and ends: a painted Victorian tea cup and saucer sits next to a c. 1910 Limoges sugar bowl and creamer which, alas, no longer has its tea pot. It shattered in an unfortunate accident about a year ago. A great pot, staying warm for an unbelievable amount of time: I miss it still. Its surviving lid caps the creamer. 

The squiggly English sugar bowl on the left was picked up at the Toronto Flea Market. It screams 1960's. Yes, that's a Byzantine icon hiding at the back. I like its orangish red set against the black cabinet. 

The gold 1920's number above was acquired that the Lambertville Flea Market (aka the Golden Nugget), while the 1930's orange lusterware pot and creamer was found in a thrift shop here in New York. It was made in Berlin. The salt shaker is 19th century. The tea canister on the right was a gift, and contains a flowery tea which is not quite my thing. I go for straight up black teas like Assam and Darjeeling. 

A Limoges tea pot with its matching cup somewhat hidden by an older Limoges cup and several tea caddies. The one on the left is Victorian.

The scratched up Chinoiserie tea tray is from the Antique Garage here in Manhattan, as is the Sheffield Chinoiserie tea pot on the left that is missing it's ebony handle and was picked up for ten bucks. I'll have it restored eventually. The Egyptian Revival tea pot on the right is less used than the white Limoges pot that serves coffee at holiday dinners. As you can see: it's all a big jumble. The thing - of course - is to use everything, which I do. That's the point, right?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

red men

They were in the same room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when I encountered them last Monday, their redness gleaming against the dark walls. I don't know why I love red so much, but I do: so much so that I tried to paint my bedroom with the color with disastrous results. Part cave, part nightmare, I knew once the primer was up (also red) that it was doomed. But you know how it is: you have to go over the cliff to know where the cliff is. I still love red, however, and fantasize about an all red library with old master paintings in burnished gold frames and lots of candle light.