until my second year here.
It is now my favourite American holiday and is for me a celebration of love for my adopted family: the dear friends I have made along the way here without whom I wouldn't have enjoyed, and wouldn't continue to enjoy, my time in New York.
This year's Thanksgiving weekend was probably the best one for me so far. On TG day itself (Thursday), I joined LJ to go and share a lavish breakfast at BG and LE's place in Battery Park. After hours of fun with them and plenty of Mimosas, it is a small miracle that I made it to my friend's KM by 4pm for a full traditional TG dinner cooked by her lovely parents, along with our friend CS. I somehow managed to have two servings of the delicious turkey, along with all the sides (green bean casserole, stuffing, mash potatoes amongst others) ... and dessert!
Although I was clearly busy and doing double duty on Thanksgiving day, I really wanted to throw my own dinner party as well and invited a bunch of friends to mine on Saturday, thinking (quite rightly) that at least we'd all have Friday to rest and fast.
Eight of my close friends could make it and thankfully they all volunteered to bring a dish which left me in charge of just cooking a couple of roast chickens and providing the venue in the form of my apartment - a lot less stressful than cooking an entire feast for 9 by myself! My guests included all my friends from TG breakfast and dinner of course, as well as a few more friends who were otherwise engaged with out-of-town family gatherings on the day itself.
Hosting house parties in New York apartments is something of a logistical nightmare due to size constraints (especially with such tiny kitchens) and something most people (including me) normally shy away from. But I am fortunate to have a good sized apartment and while we were definitely cozy, it was still comfortable. Somehow all of our disparate dishes made a beautiful meal together. We drank more wine than could possibly be imagined. And we danced and laughed late into the night.
If Thanksgiving is about being thankful, then I feel that I have my fair share to be thankful for with my friends alone ...
Monday, November 29, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
My lovely friend FM moved there from New York about 6 months ago (I have document her endlessly fun goodbye parties before) and although I had promised to visit her, last weekend was the only conceivable time I could do it and also happened to be the one when our mutual and much, much beloved friends LJ and NS were visiting her, promising it to be a very merry time indeed.
But back to the fun Florida part. I didn't expect Treasure Island to be quite so beautiful but rows upon rows of pastel colored houses and the clear blue sea and powder white sand reminded me very much of being in the Keys. TI is primarily a retirement community but it somehow added to its charm. It's very laid back and the night scene, if you are a young and single, is non-existent. Which is probably why I liked it so much.
FM's gorgeous house was the perfect base for us, minutes away from beach, coffee (I learned to love 7/11's) and the infamous Captain Kosmako's restaurant/club. We ventured there on Saturday night and it was actually like stepping back into the 70s, from the decor, to the ambiance, the food and the clientele. But we loved everything about it - especially the fact that we were the youngest patrons by about 30 years! We danced the night away with these amazing, full of life, retirees. My family gatherings in France always include many generations and so I know how to dance (but probably quite atrociously) to most things. A skill that came in rather handy that night as LJ and I twirled around the dance floor and salsa danced without a care in the world.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tonight was one of those nights when after a long and stressful week at work, I was meant to meet up with a couple of girlfriends for drinks and nibbles Uptown and suggested we go to High Life, a comfy and well tried/tested place for us. But KM wanted to try something new and a quick search on nymag.com prompted us to give Cava, a wine bar on 80th & Amsterdam, a try. When we got there we found out it was closed for a private party but another drinking establishment caught our eyes pretty much immediately with the words "wine restaurant" prominently displayed on the awning. You can't really go wrong with these two words combined together.
So that's how we ended up stumbling completely by chance upon Tolani - the aforementioned wine restaurant - which only opened barely a month ago. And boy were we not disappointed. Beautiful setting in a very New York wine bar kind of way - cozy and warm with exposed brick walls and rustic wood details, candle lights dancing throughout the dining room, cool music but not too loud, plush and comfy leather seats at the bar and an enticing and eclectic menu with a paired down but carefully edited wine list. It was love at first sight (or sip I guess) and we knew straight away that we would be back, over and over again. We shared a bread basket, cold meats and cheeses and I also had a great zucchini and white anchovies salad - but next time, when I am hungrier, I will give the amazing sounding peri peri grilled shrimps on a bed of saffron rice a try, which is pretty much all my favourite things ever, combined into one dish.
The service was discreet but attentive and friendly and the South African manager giving us an extra glass of wine (we were on our 3rd bottle by then so I guess he knew we were going to be good customers!) and a complimentary "out of this world, better than sex" bread and butter pudding type dessert sealed the deal.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I didn't know exactly what to expect but it was a much posher affair that I had envisioned. A very modern space, with glossy white surfaces and strategically placed mirrors throughout was created while respecting the building's architectural integrity. There is certainly no mistaking that you are in fact in a church.
The maze of tiny shops sell an eclectic mix of gourmet food items (including delicious ice creams and a small but perfectly formed selection of cheeses), high end gadgets, arts and crafts, and upscale furniture amongst many other treasures.
A few restaurants will soon open as well, including a cozy wine bar on the top floor affording a great view of the shopping arcade below and the much anticipated Manhattan outpost of Grimaldi's, the famous Brooklyn pizza joint.
I know where I will be doing my Christmas shopping from this year!