Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York's Best Doughnuts

Foodies are raving that "the best doughnuts in New York" are made at a small store in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn. Today I checked the veracity of this boast. I fired up my S1000R and ventured into the beating heart of Brooklyn.

A store named Dough was opened in 2010 by chef Fany Gerson. Her doughnuts were an instant hit and people started coming from far and wide. In addition to the Bed Stuy location, she later opened a second store in the Flatiron section of Manhattan. Newspapers report that Dough has acquired cult-status and been lauded by several national food magazines.

The doughnuts are made in small batches throughout the day for maximum freshness. When I arrived mid-afternoon, several new trays of hot doughnuts were popping out of the oven.

The doughnuts are made with brioche-like dough and use high-quality ingredients like European butter and fresh nutmeg. Unlike many places that put fancy toppings on mediocre doughnuts, here the doughnuts themselves are exceptional. Superb taste with perfect consistency.

There are 14 inventive flavors. I tried Hibiscus, Blood Orange, Salted Chocolate Caramel and Cafe au Lait, all scrumptious.

If you're not adventurous enough to visit Brooklyn, you can get these doughnuts at a new cafe on Long Island (Sweet Agenda Cafe in Glen Cove) which is an exclusive distributor. Every morning the cafe-owner drives into Bed Stuy, picks up trays of doughnuts and brings them out to hungry hordes in suburbia. They go fast.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

If Art Icons Were Hipsters

graphic designer cleverly used icons from art history in modern settings; for example, imagining them as hipsters. The images are well-done and amusing. Do you like any?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Full-Blown Glamour

I mentioned earlier that, while shopping in Hudson, I bought a ballgown. It was only $18 -- a priceless ticket for one of my fondest dreams.

The gown, being fancy, deserves full-blown glamour treatment. So I added a sparkly fascinator, my highest heels, more jewelry than Zsa Zsa Gabor, and enough eye-makeup to rival Tammy Faye Bakker (Messner). Yes, I went over-the-top but when you have as much bottled-up desire as I do, sometimes the pressure-cooker blows. Boom!

Any thoughts?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Vintage Neckties

Up in Hudson, I bought four vintage neckties at a thrift-store named Five and Diamond Vintage. They're pretty and unusual. (I hate boring neckties.)

Do these appeal to you? Which is your favorite?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hudson, NY

There's a town in upstate New York I've been eager to visit. It's widely-touted as "the coolest small town in America." The New York Times did a big article on it last year, saying hip people from Brooklyn are fleeing there to escape urban hardship. I had to check the place out, so I went this weekend.

Hudson is three hours north of Long Island, near Albany. It's in bucolic country, above the suburban stretch of Westchester County. Despite its rural location, Hudson has an unmistakable vibe of city sophistication. Coffee-shops, restaurants and stores are owned by wealthy refugees from New York City and they offer tony taste.

You never really know a place until you visit it, however. Mixed with the positive is some negative.

Hudson crawls with wealthy people wearing tight jeans and faux-leather jackets. Walking down the street, you hear several foreign languages and notice more than a few well-dressed gay couples. Hudson is probably the only place in upstate New York where you're going to see plenty of Porsches parked on the street.

There are dozens of restaurants, nightclubs and bars. And literally hundreds of stores and boutiques. Antique shops are big and sell high-end stuff. Furniture from your parents' house goes for over a grand. Clothing that you think should cost under $100 is priced well over that. The cuisine is haute and you're in luck if you're hankering for endive salad with imported pear dressing.

Thus, you get the best and worst of city life. Nice stuff but high prices. I learned store-rents are steep and real estate is climbing. A local told me that 15-20 years ago, Hudson was bohemian but now it's more yuppie in nature.

This makes for an odd situation because this new wealth is overlaid on rural poverty. Outside town are run-down shacks and even in town there are empty old buildings -- although most of those are being restored. Ambitious newcomers are gentrifying a piece of upstate New York. I never thought I'd see that.

On the positive side, the town is vibrant. A mini-city with bustling business. Consumers able and willing to pay a lot are doing that; merchants happily take their money. Advice: when something advertises "bespoke furnishings," run. Just run. You won't be able to afford the wares and their price-tags will make you question your life-choices.

There are a few reasonably-priced stores. I bought several beautiful vintage neckties. Shopping, especially at thrift-stores, is my favorite travel activity and there are half a dozen thrift-stores here. While most charge over $100 for items (where's the thrift?), I found a "community thrift-store" which had a gorgeous long formal gown I snapped up for $18. You'll see it next week.

I found a vinyl record store, musical instrument shop, and two bookstores. There's culture in several art galleries and a few famous artists have bought space in town for studios.

I had a nice meal at the oldest restaurant in Hudson called The Red Dot. The food made me think of New York City.

My favorite location is Moto, a coffee shop filled with motorcycles and helmets. They sell cool t-shirts (got one) whose motto is "Ride Fast." The saleswoman was surprised to hear I actually ride a motorcycle; she said everyone just wants to bask in the glow of motorcycling's bad-boy image without really getting on two wheels.

Here are some pics...

Yes, that's a tree-branch sticking out of a store with their name atop it

Geoffrey has a healthy ego. Too healthy.

Are your tchotchkes "socially conscious"?

I'm happy to report my new Montblanc pen and leather folio are hard at work!

I'm not sure revolutionaries sell overpriced jewelry

Love the color and pattern of this old barn

Found some nice neckties here

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back To The Sixties

Thrifting is like gold-prospecting. You sift through racks of dross with the hope of discovering a fashion gold-nugget. Occasionally you do and that inspires us to return.

This week I found a beautiful item at Rosie's Vintage -- a matching dress and scarf from the Sixties. Authentic vintage clothing with its original price-tag still attached. The dress has never been worn. Even better, it's in my size which is rare for old pieces.

I love the Sixties and remember life then. This dress and scarf capture mid-Sixties style. Feminine with a hint of sartorial boldness that increased during the decade. I've never worn this particular style of dress nor this color, but life is an adventure so I'm diving in.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How To Stay Organized While Travelling

When I ride my motorcycle on long trips, I always carry a backpack filled with a notepad, pen, papers (e.g., hotel reservations) and maps. My papers tend to get all messed up in the bag because things get shaken on a vibrating motorcycle. I realized some organization would help so, with the recent purchase of a nice pen, I just made a big improvement in my travel-storage.

I bought a leather folio from Levenger, a company that makes beautiful stuff. The folio solves all my problems. It fits neatly inside my backpack, has a built-in notepad of high-quality paper and several pockets for papers and maps. Best of all, it has a pen-holder and zips closed. That protects my new pen and keeps me from losing it. If the pen was loose in my backpack, I'd be sure to misplace or drop it, but locked into its special holder inside a zippered folio, it'll never be loose and vulnerable.

This folio organizes my stuff and keeps it safe while jostling about. I had my name embossed on the leather folio so it looks nice too.

How do you carry your stuff when travelling?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck Blue Hour LeGrand Pen

I got it! And thank you -- your encouragement bolstered my confidence and let me pull the trigger.

Such a big expense caused me hesitation; I can hear my middle-class parents bellowing in my head with criticism. I overruled those voices with well-reasoned argument.

The pen is beautiful. In person, it refracts light making its metallic blue look magical. Plus it's as hefty as a lethal weapon.

I purchased the pen this morning during a visit to one of the few remaining pen-stores in America. Located in Lower Manhattan, the store has survived since 1946. Afterward, I walked to my favorite restaurant in the City (Russ & Daughters Cafe) for a celebratory lunch of caviar and herring.

Admiring the smart collection of liquor there, I spoke to the bartender and he talked me into trying something unexpected: Scotch whiskey from... Japan. Yes, Japan! Yamazaki Whisky (they spell it the way the Scots do) has won many awards. It's very good, smooth and fruity. The bartender liked me and gave me a full glass for free. When I returned home, I discovered a bottle costs $219. Nice guy!

Here are some pics...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mysterious Female Behavior

The lives of (most) men and women are very different. We're raised in different ways, we pay attention to different things, and we socialize differently. As a result, as female as I might feel inside me, I haven't had the same experiences most women have lived through. My upbringing and social encounters differ from yours.

Occasionally I come across female behavior that mystifies me. I scratch my head and can't grasp its genesis or purpose. One of those instances occurred today. Let me convey it to you and ask for explanation. My question is: Why do women do this?

When speaking to a man they don't know, women often make conspicuous mention of their boyfriend/husband -- even when there's no logical reason to refer to them. This is obviously a coded message ("I have a boyfriend/husband"), but I don't know why that message is sent. Are women pre-emptively warding off sexual or romantic gestures? Are they establishing themselves as "normal" or socially-conforming? Or are they simply declaring pride about their long-term romantic relationship?

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quality Goods

I learned a valuable lesson years ago to appreciate quality. Well-made products perform better, last longer and give you greater enjoyment. The problem, of course, is that most quality goods are expensive. However when you take these superior attributes into account -- especially their longer lives -- the initial outlay becomes more rational.

Naturally if you can't afford a hefty price-tag, the issue is moot. For most of my life, I've had to settle for second-tier goods. I used a Minolta camera instead of the Nikon I craved. I wore a Seiko watch instead of the Movado I wanted. Those compromises were unavoidable due to my limited middle-class income.

Now, though, I'm doing better financially due to decades of diligent effort. I can afford some luxuries. With that ability, I confront whether to splurge on items never before within my reach.

This preamble is leading up to a critical question -- whether to buy something I never considered before, a Montblanc pen.

Thirty years ago, at the beginning of my career, I made a wise choice to buy three quality pens. All made by Waterman, a decent manufacturer of writing instruments. I got two ballpoints for regular use and a fancy big rollerball exclusively for signing documents. They cost around $100-200 back then. I've enjoyed these pens daily for three decades. They were a smart choice.

I want to retire the rollerball and replace it with something new. As a change of pace. So I just visited the only pen store left on Long Island. Sadly there used to be many places to buy pens but the market has apparently evaporated. Fewer people want them. Pens are old-tech. The difficult search reminded me of my last attempt to buy a typewriter. Sales-people look confused when you ask for products like these. I am, perhaps, a dinosaur.

Anyway, back to the pen. I found a Montblanc rollerball in sparkling blue metal that looks heavenly. In person it is amazingly beautiful as it reflects light. The pen is heavy and sits comfortably in my hand. I positively love it. But...

I think you can guess what coming next... the price. The pen is awfully expensive. Much more than my Watermans. In fact, I've bought several used cars for less money. So can I justify this purchase? Should I buy it?

What do you think? If it matters what the specific price is, go here. Let me say that I can afford the pen -- although my middle-class background hollers that the purchase would be crazy. That instinct is fiercely at war with my conscious appreciation for quality. What should I do?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New York City

It is impossible to visit New York City and not see interesting people and things. They come at you all day long.

I had to ride my touring motorcycle into Manhattan today to get new tires and annual service. While there, I bounced around Midtown. I ate brunch at an outdoor cafe overlooking Central Park (the famous Sarabeths) where I spotted a middle-aged woman walk down fashionable 59th Street in seamed stockings. Seams! How cool.

I walked near the Central Park Zoo and saw the famed Waldorf Astoria which always impresses with its grandeur. The most amusing sight was a young female dog-walker barreling down 7th Avenue holding the leashes of ten pooches of every type. The dogs were jubilant in their canine pack.

Here are some pics from my day.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Groovy, Man!

The Sixties were an exciting time. There were protests against a hated President, an unpopular war in a faraway place and society was in turmoil. Old people complained they couldn't tell boys and girls apart. It was... um... a lot like now!

The best part of the Sixties was the fashion. Wild! Nothing was out-of-bounds. Women explored all kinds of looks, including do-it-yourself alterations like adding playful fringe to bell-bottomed pants. The world seemed limitless.

A fortunate find at a thrift-store last week (Rosie's Vintage) brings me back to that era. This dress is authentic vintage and its frayed-label dates it back to the Sixties. The style is unmistakably from that time.

To add to the throwback, I'm wearing white go-go boots and gold fishnet stockings. These boots are made for walking and that just what they'll do!

What do you think? Have you ever worn Sixties style?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Weekend

Did you have fun this weekend? What'd you do?

After a rainy Saturday in New York, Sunday was beautiful. Sunny and warm enough. I rode my fast motorcycle (2016 BMW S1000R) to Jones Beach where I walked a boardwalk, gazed at the Ocean and read The (failing) New York Times while drinking a big thermos of hot tea.

Being outdoors is so therapeutic for me. I welcome Spring with open arms.  You?