Island Food

It's not pretty but it tastes so good.

Laminate floors: 0, Catee and Dave: 1

Dave and I spent Sunday afternoon removing all of the baseboards and the laminate flooring on the first two floors of the house.  Saydie supervised.   There was so much dust that it was impossible to get the photos to come out any clearer. When were done we sat and soaked in our empty house / construction site - it was the first time that we actually felt like it was ours.  I want to remember what it looked like today, and the feeling of having no idea what it will look like in the future. 


Paula and Emily

Paula and Emily dropped by New York for a 36 hour mini vacation this weekend.  It was so great to see them. We squeezed in a brunch at the Spotted Pig this morning before they hit the road home.


What lies beneath

Yesterday we visited the house for the first time since closing. Our goal was to figure out how our ceilings, floors, stairs, and walls were made.  We did so by making huge holes everywhere.  We learned that our stairs were literally being held together by the carpet that was stapled to them (our first stair broke in half when we took off the carpet), that under the laminate floors are 4 inch wide pine planks, and that the joists holding up the parlor and third floors just might be strong enough to do so without any of the structural walls that we currently have. 

Real NYC Experiences Part 3 (the sights)

So there are a number of great sights you should try to check out while you are in NYC.
NYC is a walking city and the best sights require a bit of hoofing it... so, my first recommendation is for people who don't want to/can't do a lot of walking.

Bus and Boat Tours
City Sights offers a number of different tours and their tours are all hop on hop off, so you can take your time.
Gray Line also offers a variety of bus and walking tours.
Circle Line - Take in the views of NYC from the water.
Classic Harbor Line offers a variety of boat tours, including a statue tour, bridge tour and an architecture tour that is done in collaboration with the American Institute of Architecture.
For those of you who want to do it yourself, here are our recommendations:
High Line

The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  Not only is the park beautiful, but the High Line takes you through some of the city's most interesting neighborhoods (Chelsea and the Meat Packing District).
Here is a walking tour from the northern portion of the High Line that takes you south through the Chelsea and the Meat Packing District where you can do some shopping or grab a beer at the Standard Hotel's Beer Garden.  It will then take you through the historic West Village, where you can eat a cubano at the Spotted Pig, grab a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery, some cheese at Murray's or some pizza at either John's of Bleeker or Arturo's.  Finally the tour will drop you off in the heart of Soho where there is plenty of shopping to be done.
View High Line/West Village/Soho Walking Tour in a larger map

The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge.
There are a number of great ways to see the Brooklyn Bridge - you can walk the bridge either starting at on the Manhattan side (the 4/5/6 City Hall Station is at the foot of the bridge) or the Brooklyn side, or you can just take in the views from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Brooklyn Bridge Park/Tobacco Warehouse

Here is a suggested walking tour for those who want to take in the view from the Brooklyn side.

A national tribute of remembrance and honor to the men, women and children killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.  The memorial is free, but you do have to reserve a visitors pass in advance of your visit.  You can reserve a free pass here.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.
There are tours that take you to Liberty Island and from there you can climb within the statue and take in beautiful views of the NYC skyline.

A cheaper way to do the tour is to take the Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island and back.  The trip is free and takes you right by Liberty Island.
Ellis Island
From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island (Including Dave's paternal grandparents), a small island in New York Harbor. Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Through the years, this gateway to the new world was enlarged from its original 3.3 acres to 27.5 acres mostly by landfill obtained from ship ballast and possibly excess earth from the construction of the New York City subway system.
David's paternal grandparents came through Ellis Island after the end of WWII and their names are two of the 700,000 names engraved on the Wall of Honor, memorializing the families who came to America through Ellis Island. 

Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 meters), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft (443.2 m) high.
Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building was again the tallest building in New York (although it was no longer the tallest in the world). The Empire State Building was once again demoted to second tallest building in New York on April 30, 2012, when the new One World Trade Center reached a greater height. The Empire State Building is currently the third tallest completed skyscraper in the United States (after the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 15th tallest in the world. It is also the fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas.
You can buy tickets to go to the top of the Empire State Building here which will give you spectacular views of NYC.
Another way to get a beautiful view of the Empire State Building is to go grab a drink at 230 Fifth Ave - a beautiful roof top bar.  The drinks are not cheap, but they are cheaper than a ticket to the top of the Empire State Building, the views are comparable, their drinks are stronger and they have robes if it is chilly on the roof.  We highly recommend it.

NYC Parks
There are a number of great parks in NYC.  Two of Catee and Dave's favorites and probably the two of the more popular parks in NYC are Central Park and Prospect Park.  Both are great for jogs, biking, strolling and wandering.

As we are sure you are all aware there is tons of great shopping to be done in NYC, from high end chain stores to small boutiques.  There is of course the shops in Soho, but we wanted to highlight a few more local options.

The Flea features hundreds of top vendors of antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food.
Founded in April 2008, Brooklyn Flea has grown into one of New York City's top attractions, operating flea markets every weekend of the year that feature hundreds of top vendors of antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food. The New York Times called the Flea "One of the great urban experiences in New York"; Travel + Leisure, Country Living, Budget Travel, and Fodor's have ranked the Flea one of the best markets or antiques shows in the U.S. and the world; and Time Out NY named the Flea one of New York's Essential Pick-Up Spots.
On March 1st, 2012, Artists & Fleas returned to Chelsea Market in Manhattan for a Spring season residence through the end of May.
Artists & Fleas at Chelsea Market is a curated marketplace of designers, artists and vintage dealers. Part designer showcase, part maker’s market, this pop-up hosts over 30 independent creators and sellers of jewelry, art, design, home accessories, vintage clothing, and all things indie, funky, Brooklyn and bespoke from both Artists & Fleas’ 9 years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the larger creative community. In addition, the market will play host to an eclectic mix of weekly programming led by independent designers and artists open to the public.

Open 7 days a week from 10:30AM-7PM (open until 8PM Thursday-Saturday) and located at 88 Tenth Avenue (Tenth Avenue & 15th Street).

Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world.
MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States. An exhibition space rather than a collecting institution, MoMA PS1 devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world.
The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.
As the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents the full range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists.
An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums.
Museum of the Moving Image advances the public understanding and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. It does so by collecting, preserving, and providing access to moving-image related artifacts, screening significant films and other moving-image works, presenting exhibitions of artifacts, artworks, and interactive experiences, and offering educational and interpretive programs to students, teachers, and the general public.
Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a leading destination for new art and new ideas. It is Manhattan's only dedicated contemporary art museum and is respected internationally for the adventurousness and global scope of its curatorial program.
Dinosaurs, butterflys, and "Highway of An Empire: The Great Inca Road" – An exhibition of more than 50 striking photographs featuring the 25,000 miles of roads and trails that the Incas built six centuries ago in South America.
Probably Dave's favorite museum - They have a cool exhibit, "The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011" that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, the foundational document that established Manhattan’s famous street grid. Featuring an original hand-drawn map of New York's planned streets and avenues prepared by the Commission in 1811, as well as other rare historic maps, photographs and prints of the evolution of the city's streets, and original manuscripts and publications that document the city’s physical growth, the exhibition examines the grid’s initial design, implementation, and evolution.
Okay, well it may not be cool for everyone, but Dave thinks that's pretty cool.
The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side, America's iconic immigrant neighborhood; forges emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present; and enhances appreciation for the profound role immigration has played and continues to play in shaping America's evolving national identity.
Go see NYC's old subways and buses


Welfare Pudding

With American Thanksgiving coming up - I thought I'd share the desert recipe and pictures from Canadian Thanksgiving this past October.  Below are the pictures of Andrée and Jen's beautifully decorated house in Verdun. 

Pudding Chômeur (translates literally to unemployed person's pudding) is a Québecois dessert, believed to have been first made during the depression.  It's normally cooked in a square baking dish. This creamed and buttered up version is baked in 5 oz ramekins. The recipe is from Au Pied de Cochon restaurant in Montreal, and is delicious.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup whipping cream (35%)
pinch of salt
vanilla ice cream to serve 


1. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars, and blend until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until completely incorporated. Add flour and baking powder, and stir until dough is well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. In a saucepan, bring syrup and cream to a boil, stirring often. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, remove from heat, add salt and let cool until tepid, then refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 450F. Place 6 oven safe, 5 oz. ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet and spoon a couple tablespoons of maple mixture into the bottom of each. Divide dough evenly among ramekins by loosely packed tablespoons. Slowly pour remaining maple mixture over dough (it will sink into the holes), then bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool several minutes, then serve with ice cream.

It's on

We closed on the house yesterday!! It was far to crazy a day to take picture, but it's finally ours!  Let the fun begin...


Real NYC Experiences part 2 (Pizza)

This is the 2nd post in a series of three - offering a list of things to do and places to see while in New York.

After subways, pizza is arguably the item second most associated with NYC... well, at least in some (hungry, foodie) NYer's minds.

Ask a NYer what their favorite pizza is and you will get an impassioned and often long response with lots of qualifiers and maybe even some instructions on how to properly eat pizza.  I thought I would include some of my favorites and a map for those of you who want to do a little gastronomic exploration.

View Best NYC Pizza in a larger map

1. Di FaraMidwood, Brooklyn
Dom DeMarco

In my opinion Dom DeMarco of Di Fara Pizza makes the best pizza in the city.  Di Fara is a little bit of a trek and is in the middle of Midwood, Brooklyn (which some would say is the middle of no where), but foodies trek to this pizza mecca and wait in line often up to an hour for Dom's delicious pizza.  The pizza crust is crispy, ingredients are fresh and is always finished off with some olive oil, basil and fresh grated parmesan.
The wait for a full pie can often take an hour, as Dom makes every pie that comes out of the oven here - and has been doing it for over 45 years, but its worth it.  If you can't wait for a full pie, you can grab a slice, which is just as good... but will probably make you want to get a full pie.

2. Lucali'sCarroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Located in Carroll Gardens, two blocks from our home, Lucali's makes a similar style to Di Fara's pizza - thin crispy crust with fresh ingredients and toppings - and nearly as good.  This pizzeria, run by Mark Iacono, is a sit down BYOB that doesn't take reservations - get there close to opening time if you don't want to wait an hour to sit.  Once you get in you are in for a treat.
Lucali's is a small warm cozy pizzeria that makes you feel at home, with friendly waitresses with thick Brooklyn accents - which makes this trendy pizzeria (that Jay-Z and Beyonce frequent) seem more authentic.

If you question the authenticity of this joint, maybe this profile of Mark Iacono will convince you.

3. John's of BleeckerWest Village, Manhattan
John's of Bleecker
Founded in 1929 by John Sasso, John's of Bleecker Street is my favorite spot in Manhattan.  Often crowded with a line around the block, the wait is worth it.  Being on Bleecker in the West Village, this pizza joint is a great spot for people watching while you are waiting and there are plenty of places to grab a drink afterwards.

4. Arturo's PizzeriaWest Village, Manhattan
Arturo's has the best quality pizza to time waiting ratio.  In a no frills restaurant that looks like it hasn't changed in over 40 years - check out the bathroom that still has a bath tub in there - Arturo's has wonderful coal oven cooked pizza and I've never had to wait longer than 30 minutes for a table - I probably just jinxed myself.
Have a peroni and listen to some live jazz while you wait and then get a pie and an fresh arugula salad with shaved parmesan - and maybe a few more peronis.

5. Zero Otto NoveArthur Avenue, Bronx
Arthur Ave is the Bronx's Little Italy - Robert Deniro's A Bronx Tale took place here. 
Arthur Avenue is a great place to have some of the best Italian food in the world and Zero Otto Nove is widely considered the best pizzeria on Arthur Ave.

6. Grimaldi'sDUMBO, Brooklyn
Many consider Grimaldi's the best pizza in NYC.  Well situated under the Brooklyn Bridge, this pizzeria has become a tourist favorite with tour buses lining up outside.
Unfortunately, for many locals Yoga Berra's famous quote rings too true - "Nobody goes there anymore.  Its too crowded."

If you want to grab a pie from this famous pizzeria, here is a secret tip, you can call (718-858-4300) and order a pie to go and then take it over to the park across the street and eat some of the best pizza in the city while taking in the wonderful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower Manhattan skyline while tourists look at you and your pizza longingly.

7. Denino's Pizza TavernStaten Island
Staten Island has a number of good pizzeria's - they don't call it Staten Italy for nothing.  Denino's is a stand out and although its dough is a little thicker and softer  than the others on this list, its fantastic and worth the trip to New York City's southern most borough.

8. Patsy's Pizzeria, East Harlem, Manhattan
This place is an East Harlem institution - originally opened in 1933 - surviving and thriving as the neighborhood has shifted from Italian to Puerto Rican.
Patsy's now has a number of locations, most of which are probably more conveniently located, but I suggest you head up to the original restaurant on First Avenue and 117th.  As Sinatra says on their website, "You should have pizza at Patsy's on 117th Street.  The greatest in the world.  There ain't nothing like that.  I don't care where the hell you go.  All over Italy you don't get anything like that."

9. L&B Spumoni GardensGravesend, Brooklyn
Located in Gravesend Brooklyn, this pizzeria is over 70 years old and is famous for its Sicilian pie, Italian Ices and Spumoni.  There is also a nice area to eat outside.
L&B Square

10. Lombardi's PizzaLittle Italy, Manhattan
Lombardi's claims to be America's first pizzeria - although I think some in New Haven woudl disagree.  Not only is this arguably the birth place of the modern day pizza, they make a hell of a pie.


Driftwood Hooks by Kiel Mead

Driftwood Hooks by Kiel Mead from AREAWARE on Vimeo.

Yesterday I had a conversation with Lesley - our architect and one of my closest friends - about keeping our renovation green.  We were discussing hardwood floors, which, if reclaimed can run upwards of $12 / square foot.  As much as we want to be green, and as beautiful as reclaimed wood floors are, we just can't afford that.

Instead of being depressed about what we can't do, our goal is to do what we can to be as green as possible, and to be conscious of the impact that the decisions that we make have on the environment.  To that end, these driftwood hooks made from reclaimed wood in New York state are officially our first purchase - they were a bit on the pricier end, but within our means and well worth it to support a local, green company. Here's what they look like up close (with an iphone camera).


Paintings by Kirra Jamison

Barber shops and beauty salons

One of my favorite things about Port au Prince is the handmade signs all over the city - especially barber shops and beauty salons! Here are just a few from this trip.  


Oh man - I wish I had this whole picture!