Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food Networking


Coming to New York for me is all about inspiration. Last night, as Cindy and I were summarizing our day she said, "I am starting to see what you must struggle with at the shop". I had mentioned how difficult it is to see all the splendor of NY; ideas, style, design, product- and then to come home and have to do a watered down version of it because I am in the Midwest and most of my customers can't afford it, maybe don't get it, not all want it... and so it goes. Then, as a creator of retail, I become unhappy because financially I cannot always do what I want visually- and that is how I live and thrive- visually. I can appreciate a good book like the next guy, but I never read as it cannot hold my attention. I love sitting on the beach and taking in the view- but only for a few hours then I get bored. (Now sitting on the beach with a stack of interior magazines, that's living!)

My cafe au lait and chocolate croissant at La Bergamote.

I realized at (almost) every meal or restaurant we have gone to I wanted to shoot a picture of my plate of food. Then I thought why apologize, this is design to me. Especially this place: La Bergamote at 9th Ave and 20th. I am staying in a friends apartment in Chelsea while he is floating around the Hamptons with his Belgium boyfriend. He casually mentioned before he left, "There is a great little French bakery right around the corner'. Cindy and I decided to mosey over and check it out as my beloved Starbucks was further down the street. Oh my- this place also erased everything. Starbucks look out. I am afraid I have found my NY replacement and a comparison is not even possible. This place has it goin' on.

Oh the wonders of lots of pastry in one place...

Pretty great huh?

I decided yesterday was the day to spend away from the gift show and head on downtown. First stop: Pearl River. What a joint! Most of you have probably wandered into your local Chinatown area (if you have one) and seen fun bowls and lanterns and karate shoes. Imagine that blown up into a clean, giant department store. That is Pearl River.

I finally found some wonderful white gauze curtains for my new home decor and these fabrics by the yard, great for upholstery.
In Soho we went to this funky hip-hop place called Yellow Rat Bastard and I was taken by their use of a marquee to decorate the interior. This is really bringing the outdoors in!

I had a moment at the Double RL store.

We then stumbled upon Eleven on Prince Street, a small funky antique store. I loved the industrial light hung inside this cabinet and stuffed tissue decorating the back of the shelf.

This gym basket was hanging over the counter at Eleven- notice the giant spools hiding the cord.

We went back to market today and Buddakan tonight. Central Park boathouse for lunch tomorrow, then home.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greetings from New York

A blurry shot I got from the back seat of my cab.

I flew out of KC Tuesday and headed for a much needed trip to NYC. The New York Gift Show begins tomorrow and I arrived early to meet up with old friends before I got to work. It has been two years since I was here and I immediately knew this cannot be the case ever again. Once a year is a must because, well- it is New York.

The new credit card/GPS system in the back of most cabs,

The first change I noticed since my last trip is that the cabs have gone digital! Swipe your card, punch a screen and you're off. My second observation- everyone's hand seem to be growing out of their ears! Cell phones rule, texting keeps our heads down and iPods keep us from hearing anything we don't want to. Technology is among us and it cannot be ignored. As I write this I am resting in Rhinebeck, NY visiting my best schoolgirl friend of 40 years, Billie. Her new luxe modern glass home is on 25 acres buried in a grove of trees with views of the Catskills among Hudson Valley. It is breathtaking.

Billie's new home on 25 acres in Rhinebeck, NY

It is quite the vista yet her two teenage sons have not come up for air since I have been here. They mumbled a hello to me and have remained glued to computer screens buried in their rooms for 48 hours now. So is the new age.

Funky graffiti in the Village

Now I am one to talk as an eight hour stretch on my computer is nothing. It happens every day for me, but I am in New York so visual research is a must. Eye candy is everywhere and I am doing my best to get it all in. Before I headed to Rhineback, my first stop off the plane in Manahattan was lunch at Balthazar.

My lunch at Balthazar and a new Blanche Belgium wheat beer I loved.

I love their sister restaurant Pastis and wrote about it heavily on this blog two years ago. But sometimes I am embarrassed I love it so much as others may not, so I thought I would broaden my horizons. Now that I have, why mess with a good thing?

Balthazar had the antique touches I love, the food was good but the funky, informal, European vibe was just not there. I'll be back to Pastis Monday when my niece arrives here for her first look at NYC ever! I will run her ragged showing her the city as well as last minute shopping at the gift show. Out of Balthazar I walk around the village for a little inspiration and came upon the sweetest little baby store, Sense of Wonder.

This store used a lot of natural elements around their store fixtures. Nice touch.

Then a stop at Sabon, a wonderful soap store with all product made in Israel.

Later I meet up with my friend Chuck who hands me the keys to his fab pad in Chelsea where Cindy and I will be staying. Tonight he was determined to take me to the newest, hippest, 'Deb has to see this place' called Freeman's. It's a good thing he is my guide as I would have never found it.

The entire space was filled with mismatched industrial lighting fixtures which somehow worked perfectly together.

I loved the pile of books in the corner for no apparent reason.

Buried around the bend and down the alley in Nolita (North of Little Italy), I enter an urban man clothing store with an antique barbershop in the backroom and a restaurant around the corner. Someone hand me the smelling salts as I was dying when I saw this dusty, funky, antique undecorated venue. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed for a kitchen remodel but will reopen Friday night and I will be there with bells on.

Notice the live fish swimming in the old battery glass.

As I pressed my face against the crusty painted doors and wavy glass of the restaurant, I see a refuge of old taxidermy, mismatched shelving units over the bar, plants scattered on strange sconces on the wall..... be still my heart. This may change everything. I will report back (with pictures) later.

Each menu had a handmade leather frame the daily selection was slipped into. Brilliant!

Since Freeman's was closed Chuck and I wander over to Peasant for dinner. A restaurant that was on my list to visit since learning about it on the Food Network. It was everything the name promised; simple, rustic decor with outstanding food. The main floor was booked so we go to the suggested wine cellar.
My oval basil pizza.

Dark, fabulous rough hewn beams, distressed wood tables, plates of olives and carafes of wine. Clean and primitive and leaving me speechless. After dinner I had to walk around upstairs and cruise the brick enclosed kitchen, surrounded by loaves of warm bread, hanging salami and bowls of citrus. The thin, cracker like pizza was amazing along with the lamb dinner and ricotta cheesecake for dessert.

The rustic ovens ar Peasant.

I spent that night in the city and arrived in Rhinebeck the next day to see my old friend. Today we cruised the shopping in town and in Red Hook, NY. Hammertown Barn is always on the list as it has the vast assortment of products like we do at Curious Sofa. I had not been to this location and it was brimming with home decor. I discovered some new lines I will check out at market which is why I do my pre-shopping at wonderful boutiques like this. It helps me find lines I may have missed at the Javits.

Hammertown Barn in Rhinebck, NY.

I also discovered the store Paper Trail with an amazing collection of papers, ribbons, stationery and such. The paper dresses in the window are what drew me in.

Tissue dresses,

Red Hook is home to a store that wowed me years ago, East Market Street Antiques. Then it was stark and minimal, almost gallery like with amazing folk-art objects. Today it was closed but I managed to grab a few images for you as it is now filled to the brim.

We walked down the street to Basic French. A simple, little French product store with some fun things I had read about in Country Living.

On our way back to Rhinebeck Billie tours the campus of Bard College and I had to shoot the new Performing Arts building by famed architect Frank Gehry.

Later that night I had an incredible meal at a wonderful place in Poughkeepsie called the Artist's Palate. The chef/owners were friends of Billie and her husband John and during our conversation we learn she is auditioning for a show on the Food Network.

Today is my last day here and we are off again to shop the town of Hudson, NY with great antiques and food. What more could I ask for? A train back to Manhattan tonight and the Gift Show tomorrow. Stay tuned.