Saturday we got going with Gloria to get to NYC to visit Alex during parents weekend. We are not big parents weekend type parents—as I do not play well in groups…and eating potato salad and small talk with people other than my child is not top of my list when it is wrapped into a five hour drive. So, our idea of parents weekend is that we grab our kid and go do something fun and a bit spoiling as we are parents, and that is what we can do. So, in the spirit of spoiling Alex, we got going around nine…to get Gloria to a friend of her’s house in the city to visit, allowing us to get to Hempstead in time to have dinner with Alex. We dropped Gloria off in NYC and then Rob decided we needed to eat something as it was late afternoon, and we hadnt eaten since Ithaca.
In the tricky way he has, he took me to Radegast Hall and Biergarten. Turns out, it was packed as it was one of the three full blast Octoberfests this amazing place was celebrating. Radegast Hall comprises of three different rooms: an open classic Biergarten with long shared tables and benches; a smaller, more cozy dark room, and an enormous bar—also dark that abbuts the Biergarten. This place was jamming, with oompa music and beer flowing. They had two grills going with an offering of all sorts of sausages (Venison and Kielbasa were what we picked) which came with a very delicious mild sauerkraut and the whole mess was plopped onto a bed of fries. There were people on top of people—some with funny beer drinking hats, a few in liederhosen and my favorite was the Williamsburg Hipster take on liederhosen—the same outfit made out of cutoffs and denim. Hilarious! Brilliant!
We had a nice schnellembus and then booked out of there to visit Mast Brothers chocolate (next door) and the Brooklyn Art Library (I have a sketchbook there). Mast Brothers is sublime—and warm and wafty. You are hit by the rich chocolate perfume as you enter the big retail and manufacturing floor—enveloped the scent and what it promises. Mast Brothers makes handmade chocolate bars (they make it in front of you), wrapped in beautiful papers and sealed with a tipped on label—very bookbindery—very eriudite but approachable. Mast Brothers had a strong use of small and wall blackboards in their display, teaching illustrations of what they do, and how they do it, nice tips on how to use the chocolate, and of course samples on big boards that they chopped up for us to try from nibs to a salted chocolate. They had wonderful big baking bars, to little packages 3 or 5 bars which made the per piece price quite concievable. Mast Brothers have a real grasp on their brand dna, and really stay true to it.
The same with Radegast….it is so good there that one might not believe that this place has not been here since german beer was created. The look is so old and ancient with lots of old seeming wall graphics, signage all int german (truly a fake job) and the way it is staffed and organized it is pure, beliveable theatre…not Disney entertainment, but the read deal. You are in Germany only it is right across the East River.
We looked at the stores nearby and I was stunned by the originality, fun, and sheer arty energy that was happening in this neighborhood. There was a great and smart childrens store that had three crazy cakes (one to the left) made out of recycled sweaters (a new upcycled product) along with a plethora of cute character illustrations, handmade kids stuf, fun fun fun. There were folks just selling antiques and curated “stuff”. There are mini factories/showrooms for furniture and housewares—all approachable, all handmade and all at a very nice level of craft and finish. Lets just say it, i fell in love with Williamsburg—and hope there will be many visits in the future.
After that little foray, we got into the car and zipped (via a new way that talkin’Tina (our name for the Garmin girl) took us that was pretty and not odd and scary that sometimes we go (with lots of winding through neighborhoods and by the Belmont Racetrack.
We found Alex just absolutely amazing and agreed to pick him up after the free Snoop Dog concert to bring him into the city for a day of as he put it “hanging out and drinking coffee with you guys”. So Rob and I went to the Hicksville LI Ikea to look at lighting fixures (a favorite), sofas and light bulbs (Rob’s passion). It was fun to find IKEA and get the lay of the land out there relative to Alex and his perceptions of where he is, and what is there…plus, we burned time in a very productive way. I think we are close to picking a door style for a new kitchen we will be putting into the Camp House. Simple but nice (wood doors too). Around 8:30 pm, we gathered Alex (after seeing his room, meeting friends and seeing him in his new environment), and drove back to the city to have a late dinner and sleep. Long and full day.
Sunday was the coffee and talking. We toured the food vendors by the Seaport with our favorite, Joe Mozze--offering up a range of cheese and deliciousness. There was a man shucking oysters and prepping raw sea urchins with a tub of shiny black eels at his feet ready to take home. Across the street was the amazing, New Amsterdam Market—a farmers market under the overpass—with such an amazing selection of food, bread, things to eat, handmade bicycles, teeshirts. High high quality. They have a series of events that I need to relate to my farmers and producers as the exposure is so enormous. The programming around having certain events or foodtypes featured is something we can take advantage of at our market—to supplement the movie nights and other things that we use to bolster the attendance/sales at the market.The New Amsterdam Market hasan inspired set up (simple white signs with black lettering) with a big chalkboard underneath for the vendors to do with what they will).We went over to the Meatpacking District to see what was on sale at the Vitra Design sale this year. Nothing that made us crazy with delight, but as it started to rain, we ran for cover in the Standard Hotel and had a snack at the Standard Plaza, the most casual of their eateries. It was so nice just being able to talk with Alex, to really check in on how his new life was going (beyond expectations from our viewpoint), how he is navigating being independent, his new friends, new observations and his new structured life. I am beyond delighted. We drove him back to Hempstead with lots of talk and laughing—and he noted that he was referring to his school as his home, and that maybe he has decided that he was going to stay for a while. Oh, I miss my boy…but in the same vein, I am so proud he is at it, working hard, settling in, making friends and building community. He is a treasure that I am so lucky to have in my heart.
Monday was my birthday! Rob gave me the best present! It was spending the day with me. We went to see a few findings shops I wanted to see for the gemeralds I have been making. I thought that coming to the source in NYC might rock compared to my shopping online and using those resources I have uncovered. How wrong was I? Good knowledge—but I can do it cheaper with more choices on line—without the hassle and attitude (which is fun, sometimes) that NYC layers on. But, I had to do this just to learn this. I was overwhelmed instead by the zillions of bead stores for little ladies to make little things. And of course, the blingy of the blingiest….from cellphone (amazing decoden stuff) and ipad cases to complete shops of wedding crowns and tiaras. Love that stuff, but just didnt have the patience to go deep yesterday. Instead we took in a perfect NY day in Bryant Park—watching people play ping pong and chess; adoring the reading room al fresco; amazed at the succoh that was set up to celebrate the harvest; and inspired by the classes that were taught at the library (the most sublime was a course in writing your college essay). All easy…all attainable..and all transferrable to our little Ulysses Philomathic. Hmmmm.
Rob and I toured this amazing Japanese store, Kinokuniya opposite Bryant Park—with books and gifts, Manga and Japanese office supplies…and then had lunch at the restaurant there….admiring the scene. Fun. We did some more shopping (getting him a really cute blazer) and saw the new Benneton Pop up shop in Soho. Drinks at Bread and dinner around the corner. It was such fun. I will be back in the saddle tomorrow a.m. but wanted to say hi before doing something neighborhoody here. We leave around 3. Maybe I can knock out a pair of fingerless gloves on the way home?