Monday, October 7, 2013

Properly ushering autumn in

While some people may welcome Autumn with pagan rituals around a bonfire, I chose to wave my favorite season in with a leaf crunching walk and an afternoon's immersion into rich, opulent, amber-colored art. I convinced a friend she had to join me so we met at the northwest corner of Central Park for an autumnal afternoon. We started by tromping through the North Woods, making a few loops around dirt paths, scrambling up mini rock faces, and traipsing across bridges over wee waterfalls. There were loads of tiger-eye colored foliage on the ground which made for a pleasant crackly soundtrack as we walked, even though the temperature was more Indian Summer than October Fall.

By the time we emerged on the east side of the park at The Metropolitan Museum of Art we were a little out of breath and ready for the coolness of the museum's galleries. Every time I go I forget that there's absolutely no point checking out the exhibitions online beforehand, because no matter where you plan to go, you'll never get there. You just have to wander.

Which is how we came across a gorgeously recreated Venetian bedroom and loads of Egyptian gold. Refilling our tanks with seasonally-appropriate colored works of art? Check.
Then we made our way up to the museum's rooftop for the view and a chat in the sunshine, where another friend met us. People always rave about the Met's rooftop, but I found it to be just okay. Maybe because it became really hot up there and there was very little shade, and maybe because the current exhibition was a little underwhelming to me. The view, though, made up for it.
Around 5PM I went to meet R, who had just finished working, and we headed home together for a bit on foot before hopping on a bus. At that point I checked Moves, a new app on my phone that tracks your movement (walking, cycling, running or transport) with a really simple infographic and map. I had walked 10,971 steps, covering 5.9 miles in about three hours. No wonder my feet were hurting—and why as soon as I walked in the door I took a cool shower and poured myself a tumbler of my favorite gin with a splash of sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon. Excellent end to the day.
Sunday morning broke bright and gray and misty. Perfect strolling weather, made even more perfect because R finally had a weekend day off. We decided to go for a coffee walk through Tribeca to try a new'ish cafè—FIKA Tribeca Chocolate Factory. "Fika" means coffee break in Swedish and those Scandinavians are serious about their coffee and the sanctity of the twice-daily fika.

FIKA began in NYC with one post in Midtown and now there are five in the city, plus their products are sold at Whole Foods. Speaking of products, the Tribeca FIKA is one part cafè, one part a Willy Wonka-like chocolate factory that shares a glass wall with the dining side and a window onto the sidewalk so you get a nice view of chocolatey goodness being crafted.

It's also got that swanky, industrial vibe going on, with lots of light since they have a prime corner spot. But, all my happy feelings about the place and space evaporated when our bill came to $22 for two cappuccinos, a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) for R and 4 teensy chocolate truffles for me.

To be fair though, it was all delicious.
I had a hankering for some more creamy, cappuccino goodness, but didn't feel like another at FIKA, so we took a walk deeper into Tribeca to Laughing Man Coffee & Tea—a teensy to-go spot with a cozy vibe, a nice manifesto at the door, and handsome pictures of Hugh Jackman on a coffee plantation tucked onto the retail shelves. He started the place—which now has three locations downtown—so it's fitting. While I did like the clean white, unbranded to-go cup, my coffee wasn't as good as at FIKA (not quite creamy and rich enough). But, it was still nice to tote along and sip while we walked home.
We had an hour at home to relax before one of R's friends picked us up and took us to the Polish section of Greenpoint in Brooklyn to join him and his daughter at Amber Steakhouse. Amber is R's man-date restaurant of choice. He and his friends meet there often for carnivorous, wine-fueled and vodka-finished extravaganzas before going for espresso and a rum baba at Fortunato Brothers—it's their little tradition, so it's quite the thing that I finally got to inhabit their manly space.

Amber had some more of that opulent (though muted), dark-wood, Eastern European autumnal tones going on, perfectly fitting into the weekend's theme. We shared a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, and I tucked into a steak tartare to start and then a bone-in rib eye with a side of broccoli and mixed mushrooms. It was so intense and delicious and I had to take a walk around the block afterwards while the men ordered another bottle of wine.
Of course I still had room for an affogato at Fortunato's with scoops of bacio and nocciola gelato.

Seems like a fitting end to the weekend, no? I thought so, too, until we were coming over the Williamsburg bridge and the sky exploded into color. The annual Diwali festival at the South Street Seaport was just wrapping up with a firework show and we literally had a front-row seat to a 20-minute spectacle. I've never seen fireworks that colorful, intense, and filled with purply-gold, peacock-feathery wonder (better even than any July 4th display I can remember!) Hand it to the vibrant-hue obsessed Indians to have the most fantastic fireworks. And to see it all against the backdrop of the East River bridges and the antique ships docked in the port? Incredible.
{ via, but lightly edited by me }
Welcome back, Fall. I've missed you.


  1. Of course, I have to comment on my love for your little toast to our favorite season right here in this space.

    1. Aww, yay! I had a feeling you'd approve of this one ;). Thanks for the note, dearie!


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