WAITING OUT IRMA
We led a schizophrenic existence the past few days enjoying lovely sunny fall days in Manhattan while mentally anxious about Hurricane Irma’s path and the fate of our Florida home. We were some of the fortunate ones; by the time Irma reached us, she had lessened in intensity and the wind direction sent any potential storm surge away from our house. We did not suffer any damage, just a few downed trees and branches around our property, while many in our area are without power. While we waited, we walked, ate, went to museums, and spent time with our granddaughters.
EAST SIDE VIBE
The Upper East Side is a new neighborhood for us as we’ve always stayed in midtown or the West Village in the past. We love the West Village, its irregular streets, its funkiness, its cutting edge restaurants, and its overall small burg feeling. But, there is life for us in the UES too. The streets, while straight and grid-like, are bustling with people and places to shop, and a European aspect to some blocks. The dining is mostly more traditional, Old World German or French bistro-style, with in between a Chinese or Vietnamese eatery. Lots of bakeries too. Where Italian food seems to predominate in the Village, here it’s French. Although we did discover Nicola’s, a family-friendly popular restaurant serving delicious Italian food.
We are a short walking distance from Museum Mile on 5th Avenue and have visited two museums already. We had long ago been in the Met Breuer building when it was the home of the Whitney Museum, but not since then. Flora Bar, their coffee and pastry outpost, offers a wide selection of coffees and teas, but also a tasty slice of greens pie and an awesome sticky bun that has sugar on top, but is not too sweet. It’s a pleasant spot to while away the time.
We were less impressed with the one exhibit on display. A retrospective of furniture, ceramics, jewelry, and textiles by the designer Ettore Sottsass, it was challenging for those who had never heard of him. With label text written in high museumese, it was not nearly as accessible to a general audience as it could have been.
We bought a Met membership since that gives us entry to the big Met on 5th Avenue and The Cloisters as well as here; if, however, we had bought admission tickets for just this museum, we would have been disappointed that there wasn’t more to see.
My friend Patricia has been singing the praises of Neue Galerie for several years, both for their collection and for the luscious Viennese pastry at their Café Sabarsky. We went and were very impressed on both counts. Feeling relieved after Irma left us intact, we indulged in a celebratory lunch starting with champagne and ending with a shared slice of apple strudel. The Chief Penguin went the traditional route with bratwurst, German potatoes, and cole slaw while I had what might be called, the “ladies special.” It was a mound of delicate fresh crabmeat salad covered by a silky ripe half an avocado with a few micro greens and cherry tomatoes around it. Just perfect!
Concentrating on Austrian and German art from about 1880 to 1940, the museum’s permanent collection includes lots of Klimts and Schieles as well as works by other artists of the period. An especially beautiful work is Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer,” which Gallerie founder Ronald Lauder purchased in 2006. This study in gold was the subject of the excellent feature film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren.
We also appreciated seeing the first ever museum exhibit of works by Richard Gerstl, an Austrian painter known for his revealing portraits, both of himself and his musician friends. His early suicide, after an affair with Arnold Schonberg’s wife, resulted in his work being sent to a warehouse for many years.
Note: All other photos by JWFarrington.