Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Secret Garden

We walked the entire Central Park yesterday! We started off at the Conservatory Garden in East Harlem and walked to the bottom of the park- that's about 50+ blocks. (We have the blisters on our feet to prove it and we looked like a pitiful sight of fools limping around our apartment last night). It was a beautiful day, the kind of day that can only happen in New York City. This is the beautiful wrought-iron Vanderbilt Gate to the Garden at 105th Street in Spanish Harlem.

The Conservatory Garden has been described as the hidden wonder and secluded oasis of Central Park. The Garden is actually three separate gardens representing different landscape styles - Italian, French and English. This Italian-style center part of the garden is the most elegant looking area of the Garden and is appropriately the site of many weddings; in fact, we saw a bride and groom exit as we entered.

We were standing at this fountain waiting for the wind to spray us with water and provide some comfort from the heat. We were also chasing rainbows with a kid.

There's a wrought-iron wisteria pergola atop these tiered hedges.

On the walkway under the pergola are medallions inscribed with names of the original thirteen states. This is New York.

This is our special fountain located in the north classic French-style garden.

The English style South Garden. This area felt like a mini maze.

The charming children's classic Secret Garden characters of the Burnett Fountain. Everything about this area felt like a fairytale garden.

We loved the dedications on the benches, especially this one.

Sure the garden is tranquil but there is no way in hell we would have been able to nap like him there with the heat. He must have had a rough night.

We were originally going to catch the subway back down but then we started walking down Museum Mile, passing several museums we've been to and a few we'd still like to go to.

You forget how much you've been walking when there's an endless amount of things to divert your attention from your blistered feet.

And music's literally everywhere.

It seemed like half the city was at Central park yesterday. Everywhere we turned, if there was a grassy spot, there were New Yorkers on their blankets lying around sunning and sweating.

And boats!

Well, mini boats that you can rent and operate with a remote control.

I wish I was a kid growing up in this city.

Our favorite boat.


Summer Stage.

And we couldn't believe this was the same spot where we had the time of our lives ice skating. This time it served as the amusement ride area for the little ones.

For the millionth time, we love Central Park!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Billy's Antiques & Props

Billy's Antiques & Props at 76 East Houston Street sells a strange mix of furniture, old subway signs, paintings and a ton of Horror flick type props. It's eclectic, eccentric, fun, expensive, bizarre and is where the germs meet gentrification. Billy's is one the few last standing "Bowery" institutions. Read more about Billy's Antiques & Props.

We bet you this Bowery Micheal Jackson sign is gone.

We loved this painting of Jack.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stairway to Heaven

Beautiful churches in New York City.

Churches provide peace and hope. It also provides design inspiration for your future home, like this door . . .

And this door handle . . .

And the first home we own is definitely going to have red doors.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Best Performer. Ever. No Questions.

Michael Jackson died today at the young age of 50. We're watching news footage of his fans gathered now at the Apollo Theater here in New York - celebrating his music and legacy. It's a strange feeling when the death of someone you don't know but has been in your life affects you. Who didn't try (and fail miserably) to moonwalk? Who didn't want the red jacket? Just last weekend, we saw the red jacket at a used clothing store in the East Village and if it wasn't so expensive we would have bought it. Who else but Michael Jackson could make high water pants and a sparkly socks and gloves look cool? Who didn't watch MTV eight hours a day when Michael Jackson's videos were on high rotation? Human Nature and PYT are our morning subway commute songs. And this is our Off the Wall Cassette Tape in our apartment.

He was born to perform. His live performances were unmatched. His moves were just downright crazy. His moves were natural. He moved with ease. He was like water. You can't teach his moves at a dance school. He just had "it." I had the fortune of seeing him perform in concert twice. He was, is, and always will be the best performer. I remember watching him perform in complete awe and amazement. From the moment he hit the stage until he left, you almost forgot you were breathing because he held your attention 100%. I don't know any other musician that could do what he did on stage. The second time I went to see him in concert, I nearly got crushed and trampled on because of the fans that were just so emotional about him. That's the kind of affect he's had on people. Just look at the millions of imitators. There will never be another performer like him in our time.

As some of you may know, our budget date nights at home (which were some of our favorite nights) before we moved to New York City were nights on our couch with cold beer watching old school Michael Jackson videos on You Tube. The videos we used to watch over and over again on MTV Rock With You, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough,Beat It, Thriller are still our favorite videos now. They'll never get outdated.

He has left us with an enormous and incredible amount of music that brings us joy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The King is in the House

This mirror is so wrong on so many levels yet we're somehow drawn to it. We're more curious about who had this in their apartment. We're completely content with the other man with the guitar in our home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Secret Burger Joint

I was first told about the Burger Joint in the Le Parker Meridien hotel (119 W 56th Street near Sixth Ave) about four years ago by a friend of a friend who told me I'd find New York's best burger here. The best burger in a fancy hotel? Really? I was skeptical; but it incited my curiosity. I thought it was such a lofty statement before I moved here and it seemed even more lofty after living here.

Part of Burger Joint's appeal is its reputation as the burger place no one knows about. The Burger Joint is mysteriously hidden away behind maroon floor-to-ceiling curtains in the marble lobby of the Le Parker Meridien hotel.

You see the velvety curtains. It feels like there's something x-rated going on behind them.

This is how you'll find Burger Joint - with this neon sign.

You can probably also find it by the long line of people, because although it's still referred to as the secret burger joint, many people you talk to has heard about it and it's certainly received a ton of press coverage as the "best kept burger secret in New York." With that kind of press, it's almost impossible to be a secret ever again. Also, many people that know about it don't want you to know about it. When we went on a weekend at 3:30 PM, there was a line but it was tolerable and moved along pretty quickly. We were much more amazed that we got to sit and eat.

Another part of Burger Joint's appeal is the contradiction of its location (and let's be frank, very good marketing). The contradiction is that once you enter the small room behind the mysterious curtains, the place looks like a dive. There's a few wooden tables and benches, a simple grill behind a small counter where you order and return to once your name is called, writings and film posters on the walls, a small t.v., and no waiters or bussers. It's as basic as it gets. It's nothing like the upper scale hotel it's in. It's so oddly placed in this hotel - if you know anything about it - it's the hotel you can get a luxurious chocolate themed brunch, where you can supposedly get a $1,000 omelet, where the celebrity guests of Regis and Kelly stay. So, it's a bit strange and it most certainly adds to the Burger Joint's quirkiness and unique appeal. This explains the mix of its customers - casually dressed folks like us on the quest for a hidden burger gem and the Polo dressed guests of the hotel tired of room service.

Their menu is very simple: Hamburger, cheeseburger, grilled cheese sandwich, fries, brownie, pitcher of beer or Sam on tap, lemonade and milkshakes. How can you not love a menu like this (except the Sam on tap)? The menu is written on a ripped up cardboard box on the wall and it tells you how to order: 1 - hamburger or cheeseburger?, 2 - how do you want it cooked?, 3 - what do you want on it - lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo or the works? It tells you to be ready or else you will have to go back to the end of the line. Cash only.

Sorry we only have these crappy photos of this burger. We were so hungry when we got our food and it smelled so good, we took some shoddy photos with our iPhone and dived in. (Plus, the area we were seated in was not the best spot for taking photos). You'll just have to use your imagination and trust us. The cheese burger ($7.50) was terrific! We like our burger simple and this was simple fast food burger done just right. The right thickness of meat (not McDonald's skimpy but not too pub thick), with meat juice oozing out. Medium rare is the way to go for us and they cooked it perfectly to our taste. The fries ($3.50) were nice and hot with the perfect crunch. And the milkshake ($5.00)! Whoa whoa whoa, the milkshake!

The food here was so good, we almost wanted to tell you that it was bad. Don't tell anyone about this place, it's a secret.