Monday, January 18, 2010

New York City - Day 6 - a GTG, Pierpont Morgan Museum and Moroccan food.

Sunday, the 6th

We are having a "GTG" brunch with a small group of New Yorkers who belong to a Yahoo group I interact with called "The Travelzine." We call our self's "ziners." It is a great group of international members who post questions and answers about our travels. If a person is going somewhere and needs info for hotels, B&B's, restaurants, trains, or what to see; the others post responses with answers. I have cut and pasted many of these responses to documents I have created for future reference.

Only two of the four other folks showed up. But they were interesting. Both had traveled all over the globe and we felt a bit out of their league. I usually don't blow my own horn, so didn't didn't rattle on about all my travels for my jobs domestically and internationally. For me it was just interesting to hear their stories.

We gathered at Sarabeth's at 75 9th Avenue at 15th street not far from our hotel. It was very cold and windy from the direction we walked and that made it most unpleasant to put it mildly for Susan. [Torture would be more appropriate] Even for that short distance of eight short New York “street” blocks of a bit less than a half a mile, it would have been much wiser to have taken a cab. The restaurant is in the old Nabisco bakery converted to a long block walk past gourmet food emporiums, many bakeries and kitchen equipment establishments. The place was packed by the time we left around 1:15pm. Susan had outstanding French toast covered in raisins and banana slices. I had a omelet of ham, cheese and scallions with a croissant and their home made raspberry preserves. They also made me a very tasty coffee mocha. One of the two women we met was photographer Jack Reznicki’s wife, Reggie. (Studio is at 31 W 27th, #10B, bet Broadway and 6th Avenue, 212-925-0771.) She was very nice, as was the other woman, Sheryl. Both lived in Manhattan.

Afterward we visited the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum. They had an exhibit dedicated to William Blake's watercolors, prints, and illuminated books of poetry revealing his genius that was incredible. Also an exhibit of Puccini letters and his original hand written musical scores to his operas. Then there was the gem of the Jane Austen collection of letters, A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy that reveal her characteristically sharp observations and irrepressible wit. Oh what a great gift shop! Lots of Barbar the elephant and a great selection of other books to purchase.

Ambitiously creative, Blake (1757–1827) was a poet, painter, and printmaker had an abiding interest in theology and philosophy, which, during the age of revolution, inspired thoroughly original and personal investigations into the state of man and his soul. I know him as an engraver, but this exhibition reminded me he was later recognized for innovations in other media.

The show includes more than 100 works and among the many highlights are two major series of watercolors, twenty-one watercolors for Blake's seminal illustrations for the Book of Job—considered one of his greatest works from about 1805–10 and twelve drawings illustrating John Milton's poems L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, executed about 1816–20.

In addition to the superlative watercolor series—twenty-one illustrations to the Book of Job and twelve designs illustrating Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso—other important drawings are on display, included Fire (ca. 1805), which addressed the subject of war.

Also featured was a magnificent larges print, touched with watercolor by the artist, depicts Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims.

Among Blake's crowning achievements as a visual artist and poet are his illuminated books, such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (ca. 1794) displaying his exceptional technical skills, reflect medieval manuscript illumination and the interrelationship between word and image. Also on view was the only dated copy of Blake's dramatic The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sunday was a family activities day featuring Victorian London. Charles Dickens and his famous characters were wandering around the new lobby atrium reaching up four stories. They including a woman playing a guitar of sorts and a fantastic woman in very tall stilts all dressed in white. I got quite a few shots of both.

We listened to actress Marianna Loosemore as she read a charming short tale—written by a 12 year old Jane—about a young woman named Cassandra who sets off on an adventure through London, falling in love with a fancy hat and eating too much ice cream along the way! Each “chapter” was only a page or even less. It was in the main library room - books to the ceiling!

Celebrating Puccini featured forty items related to Puccini's career, including rarely seen original manuscripts and sketches for Madama Butterfly and La Bohème as well as first-edition librettos, personal letters, a period poster and playbills, souvenir postcards, and rare material linked to Puccini's relationship with Enrico Caruso and Arturo Toscanini.

Adolf Hohenstein's vivid poster for the original production of La Bohème and a playbill for the world premiere of Turandot are on view.

They have a tea room there, but we decided to spend all our time exploring the building and the well curated exhibits.

Susan really enjoyed this exhibit. We spent quite a bit of time at the library.
After the Pierpont we had a fabulous experience and meal at Barbe's French Moroccan at 21 E 36th St. just E of Madison named after the famous Paris neighborhood at the foot of the Sacre-Coeur, also known as the 'little piece of North Africa'.

Everything was tasty, the environment great and the service attentive and personable. Susan had something named a Virgin Barbe that consisted of lemon, lime, mint and ices. It was extraordinary refreshing. I had Moroccan tea.

For appetizers we had some of the most tasty onion soup ever and cab cakes a la moroccaine featuring special spices. Susan had Tagine de Poulet (chicken) with preserved lemon and green olives and I had Tagine de D' Agneau: lamb with sesame seeds and prunes along with a side of couscous. Both were delivered to the table in a conical clay cover that it had been baked in. For desert we shared a delicious out of this world Pastilla au Lait maded with large layers of filo dough with a creme sauce that included Moroccan spices in between and some strawberry slices on the top.

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