Having hosted a very casual and laid-back Mother's Day brunch at the apartment on Saturday morning/afternoon, we wandered up our street to The Affordable Art Fair, just opposite the Empire State Building.
Now I don't know anything about art, and I don't even pretend to, but I found it really amusing that "affordable" really is a fluid concept in New York. The set up for the AAF was very similar to the art & design shows I'd seen at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago, so I was hoping to find some legitimately affordable pieces amongst the more expensive items. There were a couple of exhibitors with unframed prints on sale for about $100, but most of the pieces were easily hovering around the $400-$1,000 mark.
Despite my disillusionment at the cost of things, I really enjoyed the fact that artists and galleries had come from all over the US, Europe and even Australia to exhibit their work. The lady from the Brisbane gallery had some lovely Indigenous Australian art (mostly dot paintings) and the colours were particularly beautiful. Unfortunately the price was just a little - or maybe a lot - out of my reach. Next time, maybe.
After the AAF we crossed the street and went into The Morgan Library & Museum - well more accurately, we went into the Museum gift shop. Now I'm a sucker for libraries but an even bigger sucker for Museum gift shops, and this one is gorgeous. Their collection of reference books for sale is just lovely and I happily browsed for a while in there. I'd like to go back to the Museum and see its latest exhibition of private diaries - Jane Austen, Mark Twain and others are apparently in there. Mrs H said the Museum is architecturally gorgeous too, so I'd like to check it out. When we went there, the main Museum space was being set up for an event (a wedding, we presumed - given the sheer amount of flowers being arranged). What a lovely venue for it...
We were all starting to fade by this time so as we headed for home we called into The Nordic Center - again, to check out the gift shop. Meatball fans that we are, I know K and me will be back for brunch at the cafe - plus I think I will need to buy a jar of those lingonberries that I picked up and put back a couple of times.
Dinner on Saturday night was a cheap and cheerful affair at a BYO Asian restaurant up the street from our place. I think I was almost asleep on my feet at this point, and when we got home we stayed up long enough to greet Mr H and then we all just crashed.
Sunday morning was full of promise - bright sunshine, a hint of breeze - just gorgeous. We had decided to spend the whole day over in Brooklyn, browsing the antique shops and the flea markets.
We caught the subway and rocked down to Atlantic Avenue, home of some lovely antique shops. It was funny snaking through the piles of vintage chairs, tables, and assorted home decor items. Everywhere you looked in those antique stores, there was a dusty hidden gem. I had my eye on a lovely mahogany writing desk and matching chair but as with my experience on Saturday, these items were not as affordable as I had hoped.
It's amazing how quickly you can work up an appetite in those antique stores though! We had a quick bite to eat at a little Middle Eastern place called Bedouin Tent. We got lucky enough to find a table for 4 outside in the restaurant's little garden space and it was just beautiful out there. The food was really tasty too - delicious fresh salads, straight-from-the-oven pita breads and my leg of lamb sandwich with minty mayonnaise was just yummy. The peppermint tea and slice of baklava finished the meal beautifully.
But there was no rest for the wicked yesterday and we caught the subway to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in the hope of seeing the cherry blossoms. The festival was over of course, but the trees were still in bloom so we thought it would be a good spot to walk around and enjoy the sunshine. None of us had remembered that the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens charges a $10 admission fee and we really didn't feel much like paying that, particularly not when Prospect Park is pretty much right next door and is totally free. K was very helpful in reminding us that Prospect Park is the perfect dump site for bodies in "Law and Order" but we didn't see any corpses yesterday. Phew!
I loved walking around Prospect Park yesterday; not just for the weather, but families seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine and having picnics and playing frisbee and playing with their dogs - it was lots of fun. A perfect Mother's Day really. We wandered along the footpaths just soaking up the atmosphere at a very leisurely pace. A quick stop for a restorative icecream across from the Park, and we were back on the subway bound for the Williamsburg neighbourhood.
The view of Manhattan from Williamsburg (or Billyburg, as some people know it) is just beautiful. You really can't beat that panorama. On a much smaller scale, people had spread their picnic rugs out on the patches of grass and they were set up to enjoy the view. Right next door to their makeshift picnic ground is the newly-expanded outdoor Brooklyn Flea Market. Just as we arrived it was getting close to 5pm closing time and the vendors were starting to pack up. But we stil got the chance to see the sorts of wares on offer - furniture, old books, vintage clothes and handmade jewellery. Wandering up towards the Bedford Avenue pubs & bars, we called into the indoor Market, and browsed some more of the vintage clothes and handmade jewellery stalls.
By this time our feet were throbbing and we desperately needed a nice cold drink and an opportunity to sit still for a while. We walked over to Rye, a great little spot with a lovely wooden bar and old NY filament light bulbs and even an antique-looking cash register at the bar (which turned out to be purely ornamental, but still looks pretty cool). I had a couple of vodka, lime & sodas and they were very strong, but very refreshing. Just what I needed!
Just as my feet and calves had relaxed a bit, we were off again to walk to our restaurant for dinner. K had made reservations at Dressler, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. A Michelin-starred restaurant, Dressler is a really beautiful place. The service is excellent and we were well taken care of, as we sat at the bar and enjoyed some wine and oysters before dinner. Once we were seated, we shared a delicious octopus starter and then I had the pork belly for my main course. I could not fit dessert in, but we did share the rhubarb/meringue special and also the banana tarte tatin, both of which were sweet and delicious.
By the time we finished our meal, I think the pace of our day had finally caught up with all of us. As we piled into the taxi to head back to the apartment, sure we had sore feet, but we also had full stomachs and contented smiles. A really great day out.