Monday, December 28, 2015

Rodin Gardens

The Musée Rodin reopened this year with over 7 acres of gardens and sculptures. You can easily spend a day here wandering around contemplating the meaning of life :)
The temporary exhibit usually has a very short line, but the permanent exhibit line stretched down to the edge of the sculpture garden. Entry fees range from about 3-11 Euros ($4-13 USD), with the first Sunday of every month free, but be prepared for lines on sunny days. These days there are security checks for all museums, so leave your backpacks at home.
There are sculptures along the side of the garden which are protected from the elements due to their fragile nature.
The sturdier sculptures are scattered throughout the garden.

This gives you an idea of the scale of the garden area; this view is looking back at the building with the permanent exhibitions,
and this is one of the pathways from the permanent exhibition to the rotunda,
with a pond surrounded by sculptures.
One of the nice things about having sculptures outdoors is that you can literally touch them.

The Eiffel Tower is hidden by the fog, just behind the "Thinking Man", as obscure as his thoughts... 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Smokey The Beast aka BBQ in Paris

As much as I love France, there are some things from the US that just do not exist here. My friends. Trader Joe's. The weather in Los Angeles. Great restaurants open ALL afternoon. Free checking. Customer service which allows instant refunds and / or exchanges. In exchange for all those things, I have heavenly bakeries, healthcare and medicine that is almost free, low cost efficient public transportation, and a spirit of community which treats everyone, including restaurant servers, with respect and gives them a living wage. No place is perfect, but that doesn't mean that I don't still try to find all that I want no matter where I am in the world. 

Finding good BBQ in Paris is one of my quests. I had a truly good spicy pork rib at Frog Revolution, a pub with 24 beers on tap, but it is more a place to go drink with food than the other way around. The Beast, on the other hand, is a place to eat with great drinks, including craft beers and very rare bourbons. Prices range from 9-24 Euros ($11-27 US) for the meats, 4-5 Euros ($5-6 US) for the sides, and a lunch menu of 15 Euros ($17) for a meat, side and drink, it's a good deal for the best BBQ I've had in Paris. The first time I went, I had the pork ribs with a side of greens, and a beer. the pork ribs were tender in the center, but dry on the end, needing the delicious tomato based BBQ sauce to moisten the meat.

The beef brisket was excellent, with a wonderful peppercorn crust, nice smoke, and juicy meat, good enough to eat without any sauce at all.
The smoker is from Texas and they had to remove the doors to get it inside the place.
The greens weren't bad, with plenty of pork goodness, but they needed salt and heat to make them better, unfortunately Parisian taste is not known for having any tolerance for spice, so sneak in some hot sauce if you want to perk up this side, or take it home and doctor it up.
The pickles and pickled onions were excellent, with a crisp texture and vinegary bite.
The baked beans were the best side I tasted, with a smokey tomato base, just slightly sweet.
The decor reminds you that the owner spent some time in Texas, but fortunately there were no chainsaws in sight :)

Friday, December 18, 2015

World Trade Center Memorial

Transformations are inevitable as cities and people adapt to change, some are wonderfully revitalizing like the new shops and restaurants in the Meatpacking district, others are simply more commercial like the chain stores and tourist traps in Times Square. The changes in Battery Park are less noticeable at first glance, with modern high rises and busy thoroughfares bustling with energy as they always have in lower Manhattan.
One World Trade Center is a reminder of transformations that have occurred here on many levels, not all of them physical. Quality of life depends on how you react to challenges and changes. New York City channeled its grief by building the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, a beacon of life standing high above the skyline.
 My last night in New York started with a glass of champagne for $16 at nearby North End Grill.
 I wasn't going to eat the fabulous looking bread,
 but when they offered me a plate of a delicate salmon rillette, I had to spread it on something:)
 Crisp radishes with coarse salt and an anchovy sauce also arrived before my order
of grilled sardines for $16, so fresh and artfully done that I wished I had more room to try another dish.
 Walking over to the Memorial after dinner, the sound of water and the wide open space
 were soothing to the senses, easing the transition from past to present.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chelsea with Romeo

I rented a place with AirBnB in Chelsea for part of my stay and my wonderful hosts, Kenny and Romeo, made my trip even more fun. The apartment is on the upper floor of this building in the gallery district, with views of the Hudson, and near many bus and subway lines, so getting around town is a breeze. If you prefer to get to your destination directly, the concierge will hail you a cab.
 The lobby is sleek and modern,
 with a waterfall in front of the elevators,
 and even the elevators are designed beautifully.
 A 24 hour gym is in the building and there are sitting areas by an outdoor atrium.
My rental was in the middle of the living area, but my host had his own room, so it was like being in a studio apartment.

 The toilet is HEATED and has a built in bidet:)
 This view of the sun setting over the Hudson is from my bed!

The rental is walking distance (or two stops by bus) from Chelsea Market, so for a quick bite, I went to Mokbar, behind the spice merchant. I was too early for Happy Hour when they have small plates and discounted drinks, but I was so happy to have a place open all afternoon, unlike in Paris when everything closes between lunch and dinner.
I chose the bulgogi rice bowl for $13, which was loaded with grilled crisp beef and vegetables, but I added garlic spinach $2 anyway. It was a big hearty serving and the kimchee was a perfect spicy acidic counterpoint to the rich beef.
I'd never had Tiger beer ($7) from Singapore and was so intrigued by the name I ordered it, and now I think I may actually like a beer enough to order it again! The Gold Medal awarded beer is smooth and rich, a perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of beef. The total with tax and tip was about $28, but as I learned in NYC, everything is a bit pricey compared to LA or even Paris. If you're looking for  a bite of something less expensive, my friend from LA suggests the taco stand directly opposite Mokbar which sells $4 tacos that are as close to West Coast tacos as you'll find in NYC.
One of the main reasons I rented a place in Chelsea was because a good friend lives in the neighborhood, so the advantage of being a few blocks away from her place meant we could walk to meet each other at a place like Tia Pol. What better way to start off a reunion than with a glass of Cava? This brut was delicious, so we had two :)
She recommended the crispy artichoke and asparagus salad for $13 to start, and it was much tastier than it looks; the crisp artichoke added a nice earthy texture to the tender romaine and white asparagus, and the lemon vinaigrette perfectly dressed the salad. One person could easily make a meal of this if they weren't very hungry.
Since I love anchovies, I got two of the olive, pepper, and anchovy skewers for $2 each, and they were so good, I forgot to take a photo before eating one:)
 The lamb skewers with Moorish spices at $7 for two were perfect little bites of flavorful meat.
The crispy marinated fish with lemon for $12 was a bigger plate and we were very happy splitting the plate that would've been too much with all the other plates we had ordered.
 She wanted the patatas bravas for $8 with a spicy aioli, and I took a bite just for research:)
 The classic flan for $6 was a smooth sweet way to end the night.
 As night fell on the city, it was time for me to go to bed,
where Romeo was waiting for me :)