Such fun recalling our week in this most vibrant city. New York City Highlights, Part 2 begins with the Natural History Museum and ends with my newest favorite herbal blend, za’atar. Even though our grandson doesn’t feature in this part of the list, he was often with us peacefully sleeping in his stroller. There’s something about movement that comforts babies and encourages them to sleep.
Perhaps these New York City Highlights will inspire you to travel to New York, or even to look at your city/town with new eyes. Leave a comment below about your own favorite New York City highlights or even your favorite ingredients.
N . . . Natural History Museum
Considered one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world. The American Museum of Natural History enthralled us with its 94-foot model of a female blue whale. The planetarium show had moving seats and Whoopi Goldberg as the narrator. The hall of gems and minerals allowed us to touch a huge meteorite and large amethyst crystals. And the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians highlighted a most refined native culture. We could easily have spent many days at this museum.
P . . . Parks of New York City
We came pleasantly and unexpectedly upon small neighborhood “pocket parks” and the long, narrow Hudson Riverside Park on the Upper West Side. We deliberately walked the trails of the most grand and beautiful Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan. What lush gems of green grass and towering trees and ponds and birds in the middle of one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
Q . . . Questions Answered
Everywhere we went we met pleasant, helpful, easy-to-talk-with New Yorkers. I was especially touched by
- the gracious woman who had volunteered for 16 years at the Frick Collection information desk
- the smiling cashier with golden corn rows at Sahadi’s
- the men guarding the film crew at Grand Army Plaza (where they were filming The Angriest Man in Brooklyn starring Robin Williams)
True, a couple of times we were given the wrong directions, yet there was always someone else to point us in the right direction
R . . . Roerich Museum
Each time I’ve been to New York I’ve hoped to visit the Roerich Museum in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I’ve admired the work of this 19th Century Russian painter Nicholas Roerich for many, many years. During this visit I finally walked through the museum’s tall wooden doors to view these richly colored works of sacred art. Each of these paintings is truly worth much more than a thousand words.
S . . . Sahadi Fine Foods
S is definitely for Sahadi Fine Foods on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Such a selection of everything Middle Eastern and even a bit beyond. With much restraint, I only bought the few items pictured here: deep red sumac, za’atar (see “Z”) and tart and tangy Pomegranate Molasses made by boiling down the juice of a tart variety of pomegranate to form a thick, dark red essence of pomegranate. It’s so delicious, I want to just eat it with a spoon.
T . . . Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn
Truly the loveliest Trader Joe’s I’ve ever been to. They’ve remodeled an old bank building. This Brooklyn store has lots of space to spare, natural light, high ceilings and all kinds of glorious molding and architectural details. Plus, something I’ve never seen at a Trader Joe’s—30 checkout stations! We bought food to enjoy on a park bench by the East River. Plus I purchased a few other favorite items worthy of carrying home in my suitcase.
U . . . Union Square Greenmarket Farmers’ Market
Such a thrill for me to walk through this thriving and energetic world-famous farmers’ market. The market was beautiful and overflowing with artisan products and end-of-summer and early fall produce. The Union Square market began over 35 years ago with just a few farmers. It now can have 140 vendors from bakers to fisherman to cheesemakers to regional farmers. What a blessing that New York City now has fifty-four greenmarkets throughout its five boroughs. We visited three of them
V . . . Venere—Black Aromatic Rice Another find from Eataly (see “E” in New York City Highlights, Part 1). Black rice has become one of my favorite grains both for its wonderful firm and chewy texture and its nutritional benefits. Venere rice has slightly more protein and essential amino acids than other varieties of rice. Plus Venere rice has a large quantity of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin that gives Venere rice its rich black color.
Grown in Italy’s Po plain in Piedmont only since 1997, this relatively new rice, cross-bred by a Chinese researcher in Italy, gets its name from Venus, the Goddess of Love.
W . . . Williams-Sonoma
Living in Montana, I look forward to each of William-Sonoma’s beautifully designed and informative glossy catalogs. The catalogs feature gorgeous and incredibly fine quality cookware, cutlery, plates and platters and foodstuffs. So to actually enter their absolutely gorgeous, well-lit store in Columbus Circle was a special treat. Mmm, the aroma that greeted us as we entered. Smelling the garlic and onions studded with rosemary and thyme and watching them turn round in a small rotisserie by the front door, visually and sensuously increased the experience more than any catalog ever could.
X . . . Xploration
There are so many opportunities for exploring the sights, sounds and foods of New York City by foot. A great variety of shops and restaurants, parks, gardens and architecture line each street. Plus so much activity as so many others are also out walking. Fabulous people and fashion watching; and, if you listen, you can hear so many accents and languages and soft words and loud demands.
Just look at the detail on this oak leaf I found while walking a trail in Central Park—a world of its own just like New York City.
Y . . . Yuzu (YOO-zoo)
Fusha restaurant (“F” in New York City Highlights, Part 1) served their salad tossed in a Yuzu Dressing. Tangerine-sized yuzu are a sour Japanese citrus fruit whose flavor combines that of grapefruit and lime or mandarin orange. East Asian cuisines prize yuzu both for its juice and aromatic rind. I hope someday to duplicate Fusha’s tart and savory salad dressing—I’ll let you know when I do.
Z . . . Za’atar (zahtar)
I’ve heard it said that Za’atar (aka Zaatar or Zatar) is to Lebanon what peanut butter is to America. As this herbal blend is found in every Lebanese kitchen as well as in kitchens throughout the Middle East where it is baked on bread, sprinkled on cheese, mixed into a paste with olive oil and used as a dip. I’ve only recently begun using za’atar myself and enjoy the depth of flavor it adds to salads, for example, when included in the dressing. I looked forward to my trip to Sahadi’s (see “S” above) to buy both lemony sumac and za’atar. Za’atar includes sumac along with toasted sesame seeds, oregano, thyme and salt. When you can’t get to Sahadi’s, try this easy recipe for mixing your own.