Sunday, April 28, 2013

Portrait: My Papa (Part 2)


Photographed on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at Delta Chelsea Toronto.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Photo Essay: Bushwick (and a Wee Bit of Williamsburg)

 
Taking full advantage of the glorious sunshine and an invitation from a new friend, I ventured out of the crowded confines of midtown Manhattan to the industrial and artistic expanse that is Bushwick in Northern Brooklyn.  I didn't really know what to expect as I emerged from the L stop at Morgan and Bogart Streets, but I certainly didn't think I would see that much vibrant graffiti in those orderly grid streets, with stimulating art galleries in converted warehouses, organic food stores galore, a relaxed pedestrian vibe, street booksellers at every corner, excellent pizza joints, and even a man out walking his pet mountain cat.

Here are some of my photographs from that afternoon....some are two images stitched into one.  Such is the visual eclectic nature of this neighbourhood that these morphings look, for the most part, seamless, fitting and best of all, possible.











 


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Bite-Size Review: Porsena



It was an unenviable task a few evenings ago for friends Bee and Khai to select a restaurant in all of New York city for us to dine for the first time since we last got together four years ago.  These kinds of decisions rank way up there in complexity and stress levels as pushing a nuclear warhead button, buying your first home, and debating to wear Louboutin versus Blahnik.

Khai perusing the menu

Fortunately, they picked Porsena, an unassuming trattoria tucked away in the East Village.  Cozy and comfortable - there are only two rooms and a bar - Porsena is billed as a "pasta restaurant" but their appetizers are as much of a highlight as their carb cousins listed below on the menu.  My particular fondness is for calamari, and Porsena's version (the spice is a definite plus) is among the best I've ever had.

Here are the highlights of our excellent dinner:
My favourite dish of the evening: spicy seared calamari with lemon, olive oil and bread crumbs
Green beans fennel with celery, toasted almonds and pickled red onions
Pasta al Pomodoro - an elegantly simple dish of spaghetti, tomato sauce, basil and parmagiano
Spaghetti con Vongole - manilla clams, garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper
Panna cotta with pistachio and dark chocolate

Porsena - 21 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003, United States.  Telephone +1 212-228-4923
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Photo Essay: 48 Hours in Chicago


Upward view of the former IBM Tower (home of The Langham, Chicago) and the Trump International Hotel and Tower (partially in clouds.) Not a black & white photo; just an overcast sky and non-coloured buildings
Looking down from Trump International Hotel towards the Chicago River and Lake Michigan in the horizon.
Where Don Draper might have lived in Chicago in the sixties: The Marina Towers with their exposed parking garages
Overlooking the beautiful Wrigley Building (with the clock tower) and the Chicago Tribune building (to its left.)
Lunch at Sixteen at Trump International Hotel and Tower
Early cocktails at The Tortoise Club on North State Street
My glass of Prosecco
Quinoa and beet salad at Tortoise Club
At the entrance to the Tortoise Club
Palomar Hotel had these animal printed robes in my room, so I brokebacked them. Seemed like the right thing to do.
View from room 1111 at Palomar Hotel. Neat to see the Mies Van Der Rohe building to the right (where The Langham, Chicago will open this summer.)
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night: Views From A Taxi


Chicago lived up to its blustery nickname last night after an epic journey which started yesterday from Toronto in the late morning and included, amongst other assorted events, a flight delay, a route diversion, lightning strikes on the aircraft, obstinate customs officials, being stranded at Fort Wayne, Indiana "international" airport, understaffed airline counters, a confused rabbi in a wheelchair, raging storms and hurricanes in the Midwest, mass flight cancellations, missed conference calls, and finally an angel in the form of Barry - staunch Pittsburgh Steelers fan since 1972, new grandfather, and driver of the taxi that got me (and team mate Louise) to the Windy City through lashing rains and sometimes near-zero visibility in under four hours.

Definitely one for the memoirs.....or at the very least, this blog.
Driving down North State Street, with the landmark Chicago Theater on the right.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Old School Recyclables

It's four in the morning - thank you, ye Gods of Jet Lag - and I'm searching for something in my Toronto hotel room that will elevate my laptop and reduce the pending neck spasms brought on by the much-lowered trajectory of my gaze, when I opened the bedside drawer and saw these.

I thought at first they were a couple of over-sized King Jameses but it turned out to be way better than that.  Not only were there the White Pages but also its fraternal twin - the Yellows as well.  Can't even think of the last time I saw one of these in my travels, let alone a double-barrelled set.  Then again, I'm not in the habit of opening drawers in hotel rooms.....long story, another time.

I'm using the White as I'm typing this...thicker by a smidgen than the Yellow, it's the perfect height and width for my wrists plus laptop viewing, and the tissue-thin recycled paper texture provides a welcome bonus of cushion-y suspension to every click of the keyboard.  Doomsday preppers and neo-Luddites already know this, but it's comforting to know that there's still some useful purpose to these old dogs.... maybe not in the way for which they were intended, but hey, beggars prone to carpal tunnel syndrome can't be choosy, amiright?
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Of Goddesses, Rum Bars, Artesian Wells and Designer Afternoon Teas


It's been literally a heady 50 hours that I've just spent in London - with another 6 hours to go before jetting off to Toronto on the next pit stop of my first round-the-world business trip - and I've already met my colleagues, toured four hotels in the comp set, walked around Mayfair in the sunshine, sat at lunch near Terry Rogan and David Frost, watched in despair as a pimple signed a lease on my chin, overcame mini-bouts of jet-lagginess through plenty of sheer will (and iced Coke,) volleyed back replies to the endless stream of semi-frantic email messages from head office, succumbed to a massage at the spa, sampled black pudding for the very first time - am not going to repeat that culinary experience for awhile - ordered a designer afternoon tea set (at the birthplace of afternoon tea - the Palm Court - no less) and knocked back enough glasses of orange juice to stave off any potential viral bug that might threaten to derail me for the next 18 days on the road.

The Theo Fennell designer afternoon tea - and scones! - at the venerable Palm Court at The Langham, London
So it was in that frame of mind when I met last evening Stephanie Theobald, published author, freelance writer, and former senior editor at British Harper's Bazaar at The Artesian Bar at The Langham, London. Introduced by my favourite Frenchie parent - the delectable Anton Kilayko - Stephanie and I met, along with her former Harper's colleague and the hotel's PR director and managing director, for drinks at the site of a 360-foot artesian well with its extensive collection of rum and well-deserved reputation for inventive cocktails.  In just under an hour and after glasses of French champagne, Italian beer and Asian-inspired tea cocktails, my colleagues politely begged off, and I was left with my two new media pals, discussing loudly eight different topics seemingly all at once in a manic stream-of-consciousness patter that could only be made possible by chatty mates, a ferociously buzzy atmosphere, and after a couple round of drinks.
The David Collins-designed Artesian Bar, with its eclectic Chinoisserie decor, impressive display of rum, and the clever Artesian well-inspired champagne flutes.
It was around that time when all of us were lamenting about our inability to decide and make choices on certain aspects of our lives when Stephanie whipped out her Goddesses tarot cards and proceeded to give us - in my case, the first - reading.
What I'd selected from The Goddess Oracle cards
Being a newbie to this world of the occult, I was all set to listen and observe.  But even I was not fully prepared for my own reading (which commenced after I'd dutifully shuffled the deck of cards and turned over the one on the top.)  I picked Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads which, I have to say, was pretty apt, and not to mention, a tad disconcerting, considering I'd only minutes prior elucidated out loud about being at the cusp of a life-changing intersection and needing the courage to take a leap of faith.  Having this card stare back at me, especially with the accompanying explanatory text using some of the same words I'd just mentioned, was, I have to admit, a bit jarring, even in my slightly inebriated state.  And to be perfectly frank, goddesses' wisdom aside, there have been other signs pointing me in this direction recently, so maybe it is soon time to heed all the internal and external spiritual and prosaic advice and guidance, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and make the proverbial jump.

Watch this space.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Bite-Size Review: Privé Café at Keppel Island

Avid readers of this blog (yes, I'm referring to all three of you) will know that I have a special place in my heart for cafés that offer a top-notch breakfast menu. And the only thing I love more than a top-notch breakfast menu is one that has a chef who knows how to make my eggs the way I like them - fried, over hard.  And even better than getting my eggs done just right is a café that serves breakfast 
all
day
long

Hello, 
.
Last weekend in Singapore, good friends Eddie and Adeline introduced me to this sunny café tucked away on Keppel Island with full views of the small-ish marina that's chock-full of not-so-smallish yachts.  The indoor section of this cheery outlet filled up fast - I honestly don't know how anyone could sit outside in the relentless heat and oppressive humidity anyway - with young couples and lots of ladies who brunch.  Like its surroundings, the café features a very likeable and upbeat menu. 

Here are some of our highly recommended breakfast highlights:
A ragout of black beans (which has been liberally doused with squid ink) and sunny side up eggs served with spicy jalapenos and crispy baby calamari
 Privé's Ultimate Brekkie: Two fried eggs (my favourite,) pork sausage, maple-roasted bacon, roasted Roma tomato, sauteed button mushrooms, crispy hashbrown and wholemeal toast

Eggs Royale: Traditional English muffins decadently topped with smoked Norwegian salmon, golden poached eggs and creamy Hollandaise sauce.

Bananalicious French Toast: Fried homemade brioche topped with sticky caramelized mushy bananas, roasted walnuts and a playful dusting of icing sugar.

Fluffy espresso pancake stack topped with honeycomb, dark bitter chocolate bits, and drizzled with chocolate sauce


Privé Café at Keppel Island - 2 Keppel Bay Vista, Singapore 093382
Telephone - +65 6681 6401

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