Monthly Archives: June 2009

Dumpling Man!

Dumpling-Man-logo-for-web_0

When a restaurant only serves one thing, they better do that one thing well. Such is the case for Dumpling Man in the East Village. As I headed up St. Mark’s Place, concluding my tour, I was hit with hunger and suddenly drawn to a small Asian eatery simply named, “Dumpling Man.” Although my education of dumplings comes only from Dragon Gate and the occasional order from Grace’s Café, I am still a lover. Dumpling Man seemed to be the necessary place for developing my dumpling palate.

35.x600.Firstwords.dumpling-manI entered and with a bewildered look spread across my faces, I murmured, “I’ve never been here before.” In a heavy Asian accent, the guy behind the counter casually responded, “Then I would try the mixed. The perfect amount for one person.” It turns out, the mixed order gives you two, a steamed dumpling and a pan-seared dumpling, of each kind of filling, for a total of 8 dumplings. If I was to truly explore the dumpling, I needed to try them all, so I ordered the mixed and a Coke. The total came to just about 10 dollars, and was about to be the best 10 dollars I have ever spent for food.

There was not a lot of seating inside, but I managed to sit down at the window from where you could watch two old woman make and cook the dumplings behind the glass. Although it has never stopped me from ordering them, the concept of what is actually in my dumplings has often puzzled me. For a lot of people, being unable to identify the mystery meat inside a Chinese dumpling is what holds them back from enjoying them. At Dumpling Man, you actually can watch them being made, and filled, and cooked.

20071107164419As I pondered this novel idea, my order was called and I received just a small try with different colored dumplings inside. I began to feast. Much to my delight, although not unexpected, they were delicious. They were so ridiculously good that I wanted to get more, but by the time I was done, I was perfectly full because the portion was “perfect for one person.” I recommend everyone go there, in fact we should all go together some night, much like when we all randomly went to Pomme Frites, which only serves French fries, but they are damn good, just like Dumpling Man. Dumpling Man is located at 100 St. Mark’s Place.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.dumplingman.com/index.html

Also check out this ridiculous video of Al Roker eating at Dumpling Man for his show Roker on the Road. What a character…

http://www.dumplingman.com/video/video_2sm.mov

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McNally Johnson Bookstore, A Place of Refuge (or not!)

In the borough of Nolita where money and appearance reign supreme, I was happy to find refuge in a quaint little book store called McNAlly Jackson (or at least what I thought was refuge). At first glance the store seems like any other books store, but this one is special. Like everything else in Nolita, it’s for the young, hip professional type. The titles of the books as trendy and eye catching as the clothing the Nolitans wear, especially the books in the front of the store. The titles of the books include Ugly Man Stories by Dennis Cooper, God Says No by James Hannaham, and Pride Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen. The titles kind of made me say, “What? Really? Whoa.” but they catch your eye and make you want to stop and read them. I bought two books from the store and I’m not even that big of a reader! Or a spender!
Like everything in Nolita, the books were not cheap, but the presentation was so enticing I could not help myself. The books with the craziest titles were in the front. The books with the more tame titles were in the back, but even those were the classics. Those in the back that I had never heard of had cool descriptions printed out and posted by the books so that people might be tempted to by those. To be consistent with Nolita’s hip and trendy scene, The McNally Jackson bookstore capitalized on the Starbucks idea and put a coffee shop right in the bookstore.
As much as I was aware of the store’s capitalistic schemes I could not leave the store. Perhaps it was because I was reading a book and could not put it down. However, that explanation doesn’t make perfect sense because the chairs were not by any means comfortable. They had no backs to them. Perhaps business decision was made to discourage customers from reading an entire book in the store. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the bookstore was the only place in Nolita where I could stay and not worry about how I was dressed. The store had customers but they were in out. They came in with what they wanted in mind, bought it and left. I was the only one to stick around for a long time. Plus there were no mirrors or highly reflective windows in the shop so I didn’t have to look at the way I was dressed. Plus they actually had items in the store which I could afford.

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The Apple Store

The Apple Store (the flagship location, located on 5th and 59th) is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if you ever need any tech help, Apple’s friendly staff is there to help. This incredible underground techie oasis is fairly new to the New York retail scene, as it opened in May 2006. Along with selling Mac products, the store hosts workshops and one on one tech lessons and help sessions. This new New York landmark is incredibly unique, both in its aesthetic nature and its vibe. The only part of the store that is above ground is the large glass cube entrance, that is the only building that occupies that city block. People wait in line outside the store for product unveilings, and to sit on the plaza and look out at Central Park, The Plaza Hotel, and the Grand Army Plaza. Before the iPhone was released, hundreds of New Yorkers camped out on the Apple plaza awaiting the store’s opening for over twenty four hours! Apple is located in front of FAO Schwartz, so family shopping is made easy and fun for children. Upon walking into the glass cube, you descend into the huge basement store either via a cylindrical elevator or helical staircase. First time visitors will surely be in awe at the sheer size of the space and the crowds, all buzzing excitedly over the latest Apple product. The Apple store is a place that brings New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds together to enjoy the wonders of technology. The Apple assistants are always excited to show visitors around and help them explore the new merchandise. Check out the AppleTV, and get all of your music, movies, and favorite TV shows onto your TV right from your iTunes. A visit to the Apple Store is always one to look forward to, and guaranteed to be a lot of fun!

Lines at 5th ave Apple Store

Lines at 5th ave Apple Store

Inside, downstairs

Inside, downstairs

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A Slice of Life: Manhattan Then and Now at the NYC Museum.

by ED FIGUEROA

A slice of life--then and now.

Behold: a $24 makeover.

In Mannahatta/Manhattan: A Natural History of New York City, the Isle of Manhattan finds reimagining as a pristine slice of forestland in the Upper New York Harbor. An exhibit produced in collaboration by The Museum of the City of New York and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mannahatta commemorates the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s landing on the southern tip of the island now known as Manhattan.

Through a multimedia approach bringing together dioramas, interactive maps, and historical documents, Mannahatta documents the impact of human settlement on an island which was once home to a host of species—from mountain lions and beavers to the now-extinct passenger pigeon. The above image pretty attractively summarizes the thrust of this work; whether teeming with lush forests and wildlife or trembling under the towering spires and wild life of a decidedly Homo sapiens bent, Manhattan has always been a site of density.

For me, a particularly interesting piece on display was a blueprint of Viele’s Sanitary and Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York, an 1865 attempt at reconstructing a view of the island’s natural features. Comparing the varied land levels and winding waterways of this map with the sort of stoic, predictable street grid of the (also displayed) Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 raises all sorts of intriguing questions. Where did all of those animals go? What might Manhattan look like if its streets had been planned differently (or not at all)? How many leisurely strolls have you taken in the middle of the Hudson River?

Viewed together with other exhibits in the museum (especially one on Manhattan’s rich maritime history and the later conversion of now-unused piers into greenspace), Mannahatta provides a fascinating (if Manhattan-centric) glance at the tension between nature, commerce, and technology in a city where the only constant is change. Highly recommended.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue. Take the 6 train to 103rd Street.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art – KC Steedle

My walking tour of the upper reaches of Fifth and Madison opened my eyes to a different section of New York City that I had never experienced.  Visiting the city throughout my childhood had primarily consisted of one night trips that usually included seeing a broadway show, but not venturing too far from Times Square and the theater district.  This walking tour allowed me to see the trees of Central Park for the first time, as well as witness some historical architecture in this high-end residential area.  As someone visiting this area, however, I would recommend stopping by the stunning Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Situated on the eastern edge of central park along Fifth Avenue at the end of E 82nd Street, the Met is the southernmost museum along a section of the Avenue referred to as “Museum Mile.”  When I visited the site on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the steps leading up to the museum were packed with visitors most likely enjoying the beautiful weather or taking a hot dog break before entering the museum.  With the multiple street vendors surrounding the steps, the outside of the museum still maintains a park-like feel that could be very attractive to tourists who strive to escape from the city environment prevalent throughout the rest of Manhattan.  

In addition to its permanent collection consisting of more than two million works of art, the Met presently has special exhibitions that range from the “Arts of the Ming Dynasty: China’s Age of Brilliance,” an exhibit that explores the diversity of art forms in China between 1368-1644, to “The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion,” an exhibit that could appeal to a younger, college-age crowd as it compares the evolution of beauty and how it relates to high fashion.  Not a typical museum visitor, I still recommend considering all the exhibitions that the Met has to offer.  Whether your interests in visual art include photography, sculpture or merely pen on parchment, the Metropolitan Museum of Art houses such a broad range of art forms that are sure to satisfy anyone who visits this extravagant art gallery.

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The Rebirth of an Aging Institution – By Beth Feldman

After I received the location of my walking tour I asked around among my friends and family familiar with New York City to see what they knew about the Lincoln Square neighborhood. The most common response I got was, “What is it?” Little did they know that the neighborhood contains a Mecca of the performing arts that most people in the nation have at least seen or heard of if not visited. Lincoln Center is the world’s largest campus of the arts. Its sixteen acres houses twelve famed organizations of the arts including the New York City Ballet, New York City Opera, and Julliard. Many residents and tourists alike flock to Lincoln Center to see performances of Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, or the recent revival of South Pacific in one of the many performance spaces the campus provides. But despite its reputation and prestige, Lincoln Center is not exempt from the passage of time. Although the three main buildings on the square stand tall with natural regality, they are subjects of a 1950’s view of grandeur relating to the arts that can alienate those of lesser age and culture status than the normal patrons of classical performances today.

A new renovated building on the campus has revitalized and introduced a new type of venue for the performing arts at Lincoln Center. The new Alice Tully Hall reopened in February of this year after undergoing a large renovation. The building is only the first complete portion of a 1.2 billion dollar plan to reinvent Lincoln Center for the 21st century and to attract new patrons. As the first modern component of the campus, Alice Tully Hall is revolutionary. Rather than large fortified structures facing the public, the hall is fitted with six-storey glass panels, allowing the outside passers-by to view the inside of the building. The front creates an open environment for the public where the concept of “high” art and culture disappears among the mixture of people in the café foyer. The building is for the community and youth of both the student population of the area, and the public as well as the patrons. The windows not only invite the public into the theater, but also allow them to see the practice rooms of Julliard students in the upper three stories of the building. Through such architectural choices art becomes an open and collaborative experience between the community or audience and the performer.  The theater itself was built to encourage such a close relationship where barriers are left behind and state-of the-art technology that surrounds the participants in a collective glowing light.

If the aim of the building was to invite a new demographic into Lincoln Center, it has done just that.  Even before reaching the center of the campus I was drawn to the area outside of Alice Tully Hall as a youthful tourist where there were people clustered around the outside coffee bar and lounge area. The outside was fitted with an interesting triangular seating area facing away from Broadway traffic where anyone could sit in the sun and enjoy the nice day. Alice Tully Hall is a space of light and example of resilience in a tough time for all cultural institutions. It is an incredibly unique performance space to hear music as a novice or experienced listener, as well as a visually interesting area to visit.

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Suburbia Comes to Manhattan by Chris Ross

Tucked away between 23rd Street and 18th Street is the neighborhood of Gramercy and its center piece, Gramercy Park. The private park is one of only two remaining in New York City. The area could be very much likened to Brooklyn where the traffic is far less noisy than Manhattan and more families with small children can be seen moving along at a much slower pace than the rest of Manhattan. It is the closest thing to suburban living in Manhattan.

Gramercy Park will not necessarily awe people with any distinguishing characteristics. Though, it is the oasis of Manhattan, a place to see the abnormal, by Manhattan standards, not the rest of the country. The quiet suburban atmosphere makes the neighborhood seem out of place in the urban Manhattan jungle. The park is nothing extraordinary, aside from the statue of the famous 19th century Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth which is displayed prominently in the middle of the park. Booth, the older brother of President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, was once a resident of the area.

Gramercy Park is very small and mainly serves the purpose for residents to catch up on their reading or to just get fresh air. It has rules that forbid recreational activity such as Frisbee, soccer, etc. One resident compared the park to an Oceanside-view hotel room; it is only to be visually enjoyed. Since it is a private park the only way gain entrance into it as a visitor or tourist is by staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Most people will have to settle for being on the outside looking in the park. Although, the park is open to carolers on Christmas Eve.

If you do happen to make your way to the park be sure to stop by Pete’s Tavern, a great moderately priced restaurant on 18th Street. The restaurant specializes in traditional Italian dishes that are sure to please any and everyone who drops in.

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