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more about “Stuyvesant Town and Alphabet City“, posted with vodpod Click here to view on Flickr.com and see captions.

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Blerg, blogging is getting to be a bit of a chore! But when you consider that I recently finished a 48-page thesis and got accepted to be an assistant teaching English in France for next year, there are obviously things on my mind besides this blog. In fact, I’m worrying that I won’t finish all the neighborhoods before I graduate, because I’m moving back to California on May 15th. That leaves only five weekends for 17 neighborhoods. 😦 I think I may have to pick the ones I am most serious about investigating and leave the rest for another time. I considered bequeathing this project to friends who are staying in New York, but I know that it won’t be the same. Weighing the options, I think I will just leave this project open-ended for a while and hope that life leads me back to New York after my time in France so that I can finish it!

I went to Stuyvesant Town and Alphabet City on February 21st. I knew that Stuyvesant Town was not the most happening neighborhood in New York, and that’s the reason there aren’t many photos of Stuy Town in the photo set. (I actually took a lot more, but the pictures are mostly of buildings and trees, so I thought I would spare you and just keep those to enjoy for myself. :D) However, Stuy Town looks to be a great place to live, and I have heard from friends that it is really a wonderful experience. I did see some cute things, like kids playing on an astroturf field (a little sad haha) and a scarf warming up a chilly pole.

Scarf on a pole

What an adorable pole-warmer!

Business Casual Lady

I've seen this face before...!

So, although there wasn’t much to see, I was glad that I got out and saw a new neighborhood that I otherwise would never had bothered to explore. And, because Stuy Town was so small, I combined it with Alphabet City for the day’s adventure. One of the first amazing things I saw upon crossing the border from Stuy Town onto 14th St. was this window display.

It may look totally innocuous to you. But I know this lady’s face. The weird part is, I do not know this woman. I know her face and business-casual-dressed torso, because I once used that face and torso in a blog post (whose location I will not disclose) about my summer internship last year! She was on page 6 of my search for “business casual” but since those results change all the time, here is her individual result page. The name of the image on that site is “BCstylishwoman.jpg” hahahaha. If only this lady knew how much I feel that I know her.

Fearless 2: Sam

Click for source.

Anyway, Alphabet City is great. It is named so because it encompasses Avenues A, B, C and D (the D is for Dangerous!), which run north-south on most of the east side of lower Manhattan. I remember reading about Alphabet City in Francine Pascal’s Fearless book series in my youth. Oh, there are so many things I could say about those books. I think they were a fairly crucial part of my decision to come to NYU, which may not say anything good about that decision haha. The main character in Fearless is named Gaia, and she was born without the gene that makes people feel fear. Her father raised her to be a fighting machine, taking advantage of her natural fearlessness to make her the epitome of girl power. Gaia’s first love interest, Sam, goes to NYU, and I think I fell in love with him and with their relationship, too. When I first came to NYU, I realized that I lived in the dorm that Francine Pascal vaguely describes Sam to live in in the series. It made me giddy to walk down the same streets that Gaia ran down in pursuit of secret agenty evils in a New York City that, although purportedly belonging to the early 2000s, recalled the danger and crime of a very 1980s Manhattan. All of this is to say that, in Fearless, Alphabet City is the site of some very shady and scary dealings, and walking down the empty but safe streets there brought my mind back to the imaginative fervor I felt in losing myself in the books.

Today, Alphabet City is a very Puerto Rican-dominated neighborhood, and there is pride all over the place, which I love! You can look through the slideshow above to see some of the murals using the Puerto Rican flag. After I finished my wandering, I met up with a friend for Pommes Frites (Belgian fries with absolutely glorious sauces) and bubble tea in the East Village, one of my favorite neighborhoods. I actually inadvertently recreated the Pommes Frites experience at home tonight, by seasoning and baking some potato wedges and sampling them with a ginger-carrot dressing my roommate got with her afternoon sushi. Survey says: A++.

Pommes Frites

The blurriness obscures the real quality of these fries and sweet mango chutney sauce. Also, super cute: the cone of fries is sitting in a hole in the table made especially for cones of fries!

I will leave you now with my most interesting find, which actually kind of spills over into East Village territory: Obscura Antiques. This video mostly speaks for itself, but I had an interesting conversation with the store attendant, who said that none of the pieces in the store was most recent than I think 1870 or so (I hope I have that right). They had everything from Victorian shoes to old pharmaceuticals and period jackets. Enjoy, and see if you can hear the German music playing in the background. And don’t hate on my poor video editing skills.

Also, I would just like to say that the next blog I create will be using Blogger. WordPress is far too interested in making me pay for things like custom template support and detailed analytics tracking, among other things! Plus, I had to use my Google account to upload the video to YouTube anyway, so why not keep everything under the same roof? (Blogger is owned by Google.)

P.S. I planned to plug/discuss the cool walking tours offered over at SoundWalk.com (who, incidentally, is great at PR and Twitter outreach), but attention spans are only so long! Stay tuned for that next time!

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more about “Chinatown“, posted with vodpod

Excuse excuse excuse apology apology apology! Ok, you know what that was for. Now, on to Chinatown!

My friend C and I went to Chinatown on Valentine’s Day as a nice alternative to the typical lovey-dovey outing. It was the day of the Chinese/lunar new year, so this normally packed little neighborhood was even more crowded than usual. My friend said we absolutely had to go have dim sum, which I had never tried before. But the first place we tried even ran out of the numbers for take-a-number! That was unfortunate, but our tummies had a little wait in them, and we enjoyed some of the necessary must-sees…

Dragons

The parade dragons!

Confetti STOP

The confetti-strewn streets! Does this mean "STOP celebrating!"?

We meandered around streets I had never explored in Chinatown before, despite living very close to the neighborhood for two separate years. Bayard St., Pell St… they were all full of people! Finally we made it to Golden Unicorn Restaurant (here’s them on Yelp, too) and enjoyed some AMAZING food. Dim sum is apparently like Spanish tapas—many small appetizers that you eat and sample for a group experience. C said that you usually have dim sum around brunch time. My favorite little goody was the pork bun, which brought back memories of my childhood eating adventures in San Francisco Chinatown!

Pork buns

Aren't they adorable?? I could eat these for the rest of my life.

C said they weren’t up to par with her normal pork bun experiences, but I was still in pork bun heaven. These are my mom’s favorite, too! When she and my grandfather are here in May, I’ll have to drag them down to one of the Chinatown bakeries that sell quality pork buns for 80 cents.

Snack samples

Some fishy snack samples

There were a lot of food adventures on Chinatown day. We fleshed out our dim sum with selections of shumai dumplings (pork, shrimp and mushroom? C, correct me if I’m wrong on this) and some delicious buns with fruity jam inside (a mysterious, honeylike flavor that we both LOVED).

Later, we also stopped by an Asian snack foods store. This store used to be on a corner I passed regularly—I was so upset when it “closed,” thinking it was gone forever. But it turns out it had just moved to Mott & Pell Streets! We dared each other to try some of the dried fish snack samples, picking the weirdest ones for each other. They weren’t all that bad! Don’t think I’d buy a whole bag of them, though…

People were following the parade processions and popping poppers all over the place; kids were clutching little dragons and roaring from inside their own tiny dragon costumes. We decided to indulge our inner children too, and make a stop at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. What a great end to our day, even though the weather was chilly. They had quite a variety of flavors, but I chose a combo of almond (anyone who reads this should know that almond is my favorite flavor by now) and green tea. Perfect!

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory fare

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory fare - almond and green tea (underneath)

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More about “Lower East Side/Little Italy/NoLiTa“, posted with vodpod. View on Flickr for captions.

Oh I love this neighborhood. There is nowhere else I know that has as much to explore as the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Little Italy and NoLiTa are like sweet little cake toppers on this delicious smorgasbord of visual and cultural delight. I went to the Lower East Side for these pictures on February 7, and then I went back today for a spontaneous detour from groceries to Doughnut Plant (if you’re wondering, I got one tres leches in tribute to Spanish Harlem, and one crystallized ginger in tribute to their Chinese New Year special) and I discovered even more here that I didn’t capture weeks ago. Add to this the fact that any neighborhood has a completely different character when covered in mounds of snow, and it was like seeing the LES through new eyes.

On the eve of the Chinese New Year, some sights on my route to the Lower East Side.

Of course on my way to the LES proper, I took a detour down Grand St. to Quickly for my favorite snack, almond bubble tea and those little cream cakes shaped like whatever they’re shaped like (?). The LES is such a fantastical mishmash of cultures – I once toured an old tenement house there from the early days of Ellis Island immigration, and although history isn’t my favorite thing, it was really interesting to learn about poor immigrants’ lives.

Cogs and wheels in public art on the LES.

This neighborhood also has some great public art, notably in the Hispanic area. Avenue C was even given a second name, Loisaida Ave., for the Hispanic pronunciation of “Lower East Side.” I believe the display at left was at ABC No Rio, whose website says, “ABC No Rio is a collectively-run center for art and activism. We are known internationally as a venue for oppositional culture.”

Some other stuff I came across down there were the housing projects mentioned in a book called Small Victories, about a teacher in the slums of the LES in the 80s, which really impacted me; I recommend it to any aspiring teacher. I also came across the Clinton St. Baking Co. (they had a Pancake Month for February, with amazing dishes like the one my suitemate and I got: pancakes with fresh blackberries, pecan streusel and maple butter… HEAVEN), Les Enfants Terribles restaurant (a little pricey but had a great name – “The Terrible Children“), and this fascinating blue building (below).

Bernard Tschumi's blue tower

You can read about the blue tower here; it is an apartment complex (!) designed by Bernard Tschumi, and some of the pictures at that link show some amazing views from the inside looking out. Some people hate it, because it’s a symbol if the gentrification in the LES. But I am really over whining about gentrification, so I like it. Those windows look just as amazing from inside! I saw this work of art from several different vantage points and finally got this amazing shot from Rivington St. and Essex St., or so. I stood on a corner where the building behind me had a neon light saying, “NEVER SLEEP.” It was so New York.

One of the greatest things I happened upon the LES was Café Charbon, which I stumbled upon two years ago on a leisurely walk and adored. But I had never gone back. This is one place I vow to return to even after my appointed Lower East Side day, because it is so adorable and French. I mean, look at this window of (fake) cheese!

Café Charbon's tribute to French cheeses.

But I didn’t stop to eat at Café Charbon because I had already had both lunch and bubble tea/cream cakes, and my mind was set on the highly-anticipated end note of the trip: Rice to Riches. Rice pudding and snark bundled together like you and your favorite blanket on a cold day. I got the hazelnut (tasted a little like plain chocolate, but still good), with whipped cream, but the flavors and topping possibilities are endless (Cinnamon Sling? Fluent in French Toast? Good thing this place is 3 blocks away from my dorm…). I leave you with this delightful image from the inside of Rice to Riches. Now… did I miss anything? 😉

"Eat all you want... you're already fat."

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alexreverie
September 2017
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