I heart NY (a lot)

Highlights only. And even that makes for a long entry!

The Met. Specifically, a special exhibit called Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. Magnificent! Room after room of paintings by Manet, Money, Dégas, and many others (including Berthe Morisot, who was both painter and artist's model). In each room behind glass cases were articles of clothing—the very dress that the model wore when the artist painted her, or a dress in a similar style, or accessories that were used. It was fascinating and very well curated.

Park Slope. I found out that most local fashion designers and the boutiques that sell their creations are in Brooklyn, so we went in search. Fifth Avenue was a goldmine. We stopped at Flirt, Eidolon, Bhoomki, and a few shops in between, on a cool and breezy but sunny day (not too many of those that weekend). I bought a flower-patterned dress at Flirt that said it was "1 of 6," hand-made locally. Sweetie bought a top and skirt at Eidolon and chatted with the woman who made them. Bhoomki was all about sustainable materials, exactly my thing.

Theatre. We didn't go to the big musicals. We saw The Assembled Parties, which was in previews. It was about two families, more or less Jewish, with the first act set at Christmas 1980 and the second at Christmas 2000. Judith Light played one of the mothers and was brilliant. The story was not especially strong but the characters and dialogue were excellent, and I'm very glad we saw it. We also saw My Name Is Asher Lev, based on the novel of the same name, about a Hassidic boy who has a gift for art in a culture where such pursuits are frowned upon. The young actor who played Asher pushed his own emotions over the top, leaving us little room to feel ourselves, but the two supporting actors, who played multiple roles (parents, Rebbe, art teacher, and more), were very strong. Again, we were very happy to have seen it despite its flaws.

Church. Believe it or not! Sweetie kept saying that she wanted to hear some gospel music, and the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, just a few blocks from where we were staying, had been recommended to us. So that Sunday, Palm Sunday as it happened, we went to a service. The church is a big, beautiful stone structure with stained glass windows—something I didn't think I would see on a Baptist church. I also did not expect to find a big pipe organ. Otherwise, however, the church was designed as I would have expected—a slight rake (like a theatre), a sanctuary but no altar, a place for the choir in front. This place was all about welcoming, right from the start, even though I'm sure they knew these two white women were just tourists (we weren't the only tourists). Not everyone was dressed up, but I would say that most were—suits and dresses and pretty hats. The service started on the pipe organ with a rather solemn hymn, but then the choir director moved to a piano and a drum set was added. That's when we got into the music we had hoped to hear, complete with hand clapping. The pastor's welcome was so warm and full of joy. And of course in a church like this, there is a lot of spontaneous participation by the congregation. If I wanted a church, this one would certainly be inviting.

Anjelika Film Center. Going to New York to watch movies? Sure, when you can see films that you might not otherwise see, and especially when the weather outside kind of sucks. We saw Ginger & Rosa, a new film by Sally Potter, about two teenage girls who are best friends but in the midst of personal changes against the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A nuanced, layered film with a superb performance by then 14-year-old Elle Fanning that I would see again. Curiously, several of the previews we saw (we love previews) were of Canadian films! Gotta go to the US to see our own movies. There was the trailer for Midnight's Children, which did play here for a while (and we ought to have seen it). There was a trailer for Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, which I think has only been at festivals (but more on that in a minute). And among the movies already playing was a comedy from Quebec called Starbuck. I had seen it on a plane a few years ago, but I always wanted Sweetie to see it, so we went. It's about a feckless 40-something, played by the wonderful Patrick Huard, who years before had made a lot of donations to a sperm bank, which subsequently messed up and used his sperm to produce 533 children, 142 of whom filed a class action suit to find out who their biological father was. It's funny, sweet, and touching.

Balaboosta. We were in New York last summer in the midst of a heat wave. We were spending time with Sweetie's uncle and aunt, doing various things. We had been shopping in Nolita, and when we were exhausted the aunt and uncle wanted to try a new restaurant called Balaboosta, a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant on Mulberry Street. The food was fantastic! In many ways, it reminded us of Chef Chris's food at Green Goddess (now at Serendipity) in New Orleans. Inventive, playful, very flavourful dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. We were well taken care of by our server. After Ginger & Rosa, I had a notion to see if we could get in for dinner. The restaurant was busy, but we didn't have to wait long for a table. Some menu standards, many seasonal changes, and once again the food was superb, as was the service—by the same server we had last summer! She took great care of us. I'm sure that if we lived in Manhattan we would become regulars there. We want to go back for brunch!

Passover. The Monday evening seder was the main reason we had traveled to New York. The uncle and aunt had invited us last summer when we spent time with them, and we decided that we wanted to go. This was my first seder. We had a wonderful time! The aunt and uncle are two of my favourite people in the world, and we were joined by Sweetie's sister and her wife, the hosts' daughter (Sweetie's cousin), the aunt's sister, brother-in-law, and their daughter, and two couple who were family friends. The ritual was only semi-reverent but still covered the bases, and the dinner itself was wonderful: brisket, turkey, potato kugel, a zippy red cabbage dish, and a green vegetable medley. And then there was a multiple-course dessert, with apple cake, matzo brittle, macaroons, chocolate mousse. and more. Stuffed like the turkey breast!

Harlem. We stayed at the Sugar Hill Harlem Inn in Hamilton Heights. Sadly, a combination of nasty weather and commitments meant that we did not get to see much of Harlem. Nor did we have any soul food! We would definitely stay there again, and next time, we're going to take a walking tour and get our fill of good neighbourhood food.

One more film. We flew home on Air Canada via Montreal. The Air Canada planes used for long flights have screens in the backs of the seats, far better than those drop-down screens that are often too far away. And among the films available? Stories We Tell! It's a documentary that Sarah Polley made about her late mother in an attempt to learn both who she was and who her biological father was. All I can say is that you really ought to see it. Sarah Polley is amazing.

Returning from cold, wind, and rain to spring weather was pretty amazing too!

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