Sunday, May 22, 2011

There's a Forest in Times Square

A few weeks ago, I was doing my usual I’m-a-New-Yorker-don’t-get-in-my-way charge through Times Square when I noticed a fairly uncommon occurrence in the middle of what most people call the Concrete Jungle.  Smack dab on top of what is usually a line of theatre-going tourists was . . . for lack of a better word, a forest.  Seriously, it was totally random and weird and out-of-place and kind of interesting.  My first instinct was to stay the course, chalk it up so some over-budget episode of Law and Order that happened to be shooting that day, and be early for work.  On second thought, though, I DO write a blog about trying new things in the city, so what kind of adventurous blogger would I be if I passed up the opportunity to check it out?  So . . . I took a Claritin and a detour.

Turns out, Aveeno (you know, like, the soap?) was the creator of this lush display of greenery, not some TV show.  Interesting.  I went to the nearest counter and asked an amiable fresh-faced young woman how I might best take advantage of Mother Nature’s big apple festivities and she directed me to the entrance to “the garden”.  I walked to the north side of the square, through an archway, and lo and behold, I was in a magical little forest.  After my first three steps, I could no longer see any of the man-made regalia that surrounded me.  I was in a forest full of trees and flowers and butterflies.  It was oh so Amy Adams in “Enchanted”.  (If only I could magically have her career).  The path in front of me snaked from side to side and featured all types of flora and fauna abbreviated with little identifying signs.  I stopped in front of a row of (what the little sign told me were) purple hellebores.  Beautiful.  And adorable.  And SO not Times Square.

I meandered from sign to sign, flower clump to flower clump, and, I must say, thoroughly enjoyed my romp.  Because of the wind-y trail, the length of the path through the trees was much longer than I had expected, and I emerged five minutes later slightly happier and slightly more relaxed.  It wasn't a full day in the countryside, but it was a much-needed taste of peace and quiet.  To sweeten my experience, a nice lady at the exit handed me a bag with Aveeno samples and coupons.  Win/win.  Will I buy Aveeno stuff because they (obviously) spend loads of dough to put a forest in Times Square?  Probably not.  Did my open-mindedness, marginal sense of adventure, and subsequent (albeit abbreviated) walk through trees and flowers make me a happier person for a little while?  Yep.  Good job, me.  Thanks, blog.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Bourgeois Pig

If you know me at all, you know that I rarely venture south of 14th street . . . for many reasons.  First, the streets down there do not intersect at right angles and I am often very easily lost (particularly when I come to the intersection of 4th Street and 7th Street).  Second, the crowd down there smells of patchouli, more-than-dabbles in body art, and generally makes me feel like the geeky, unhip-sweater-set-wearing-approaching-middle-age American that I am.  And third, well . . . the long and the short of it is that it is a RARE day that I venture down to the bowels of NYU on a whim.  Yesterday, though, I did.  And I was pleasantly surprised by the adorable little discovery that I made in doing so.

Here's the skinny: my buddy Summer and I decided to go on a little impromptu outing to celebrate my newly acquired theatre job (see facebook after Monday).  I happily agreed to meet her in the "Union Square Area" and hopped out of a cab at 17th and Broadway seconds before I got her text that she had found a place called "The Bourgeois Pig" at . . . 111 East 7th St.   'Well', I thought, 'The place has an interesting name and I haven't blogged in a while, so why not walk the ten blocks to 7th and check it out'.  Here's the problem with that plan: it wasn't ten blocks.  It was ten blocks and 4 Avenues.  Did I mention that I also don't do Avenues that are followed by a letter?  Nevertheless, I managed to hobble over to the joint and was (thankfully) pleasantly rewarded for my ambulatory efforts.  The light stucco facade was different than any other exterior on the block and wrought iron lampposts and an iron-looking door gave the building an air of provincial France.  And somehow, the air around the building was quieter than the other sections of the block.  Which, in that neighborhood, is a really good thing.  Summer and I snapped a few pics and headed in.

It was even better inside.  The interior was laden with red velvet, dark wood, and antique tchotchkes that were actually more conversation pieces than eyesore.  A stunning blown glass chandelier hung over our heads and a collection of people that were veritably bourgeois themselves chatted and sipped wine around us.  And speaking of wine, the list of cocktails was staggering.  I had no idea where to start.  For a bar that makes cocktails with just wine and beer, they had a collection rivaling Wildhorn's collection of Broadway flops (sorry, I had to).  I had a concoction called the E.V. Swill that had muddled lime and mint, Lustau Pedro Ximinez sherry and was topped with champagne.  Yum-a-licious.  Summer had a Bergamot Toddy (Earl grey infused Lillet, lemon, honey, and pineapple).  We were off to a good start.  I took a moment to read the rest of the cocktail menu and decided this place would warrant another visit as I wanted to try more than I should in one sitting.

Bad news: The Bourgeois Pig sucks for vegan folks like Summer.  Good news: If you're amongst the Me-types that thrive on cured meat, cheese, and any incarnation of pork, you're in for a party.  I wanted a gnosh, so I ordered an assortment of bruschetta (cheddar and roasted apple, artichokes and prosciutto, and ricotta and eggplant caviar) and (the only not-so-great part about our visit) more prosciutto.  Everything but the prosciutto was fab, but the cured meat was slimy, overly fatty, and flavorless.  By then, though, I didn't care . . . because I was sipping on a Providence Punch (elderflower, blood peach puree, lemon juice, orange bitters, and pol roger champage).  Summer had . . . a toasted baguette.  But she didn't seem to mind either because she was slowly sipping a champagne concoction that rivaled my own Punch.  We chatted for hours in the warm, friendly, slightly-upscale-yet-laid-back atmosphere and generally had a fabulous time all around.

As the evening came upon us and the effects of our imbibement began to take hold, we sleepily headed out and grabbed cabs headed toward our beds.  I glanced out the cab window as we drove away and decided, despite my aversion toward avenues with letters, streets that shouldn't intersect, and patchouli,  to head back to "the pig" some time in the near future.  I figure some experiences are worth a little trek into unknown territory.  And who knows?  Maybe they'll open one in midtown someday.