Third Rail Coffee: Stumptowns and George Howell To Stay, To Go

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After a late lunch and looking for some coffee to pick me up I walked by Third Rail Coffee on 10th Street in the East Village. When I saw that they carried Stumptowns I went right in for some… and then saw the George Howell which  I’ve never seen nor had before. Third Rail Coffee does the usual suspects and offers four (4) pour overs (Chemex) to choose from. I had the George Howell, Reka from Ethiopia described as tasting like Earl Grey, Honeydew, and Clementine. It was so good I drank it without my usual brown sugar and cream.

If you get hungry they have sandwiches and baked goods(muffins, donuts etc) to fill you up. Inside they have seating along the windows and walls as well as a small community table (6) to make some new friends. They have Beans, Press Pots, Cold Press Pots to go as well.

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Third Rail Coffee is located at 159 2nd Ave

Casey Baugh Oil Painting Demo @ Jerry’s International Palette Shop

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Jerry’s International Palette Shop recently opened up just south of Union Square in the East Village. They carry a vast array of Art supplies from all over the world to give you what you need to get your creative juices flowing. One of the things that they are doing that I think is brilliant from a marketing point of view and great as a Artist is having Demo’s of Artists work their magic live. I attended the Casey Baugh demo a few weeks back where he painted a portrait with a live model. I had never been to one before and was curios to see what I would get out of it…turned out quite a bit. I broke my notes into Materials, Process, and a Final Thought.

Materials

Casey’s color palette was comprised of the following oi paints (he uses multiple brands, I believe Charvin being one of them).

White
Kings blue
Indian yellow
Cad Yellow
Transparent Earth Orange
Cad Red
Alizarin Red
Raw umber
Burnt umber
Ivory Black
Cobalt  Blue
Dark Ultramarine Blue

For brushes he prefers them soft-haired and even uses some Make-up brushes. For mediums he uses triple refined turpentine (in a custom mix) since it dries fast. For his canvas he choose a a Raphael Double Primed Canvas mounted on wood(I just purchased a couple to try them out)

Process

Since he had a live and rather beautiful model for the demo he did take a good 15 minutes or so to cast the lighting just right…it was kinda like watching a photo-shoot.

Casey paints in a style known as Alla Prima (wet-on-wet) Which I found rather fascinating. I’m use to coating the canvas with a color, letting it dry. Sketching what I want to paint after laying out a measured grid…and then lay out an initial dark wash. After all that, I start the painting. Casey went right in laying the canvas with a black wash with some blue…and then started working on painting the face. Kinda blew me away.( Of note, my current Art Instructor B told me after I recounted this to her that’s how she paints. So since I will have on-hand guidance I will have to give it a whirl.) after toning the canvas with Ivory black with a little cobalt blue he starting laying out brush strokes to create texture

When asked how he starts he said that first you create Value – (depth ), then Color, and finally the Drawing (the actual subject of the painting). He stated that one needs to practice painting regularly to learn how to work out the problems. Essentially that is what painting is in a sense, constantly problem solving…how is light hitting the subject, how does this color against this one affect the other, etc…

For those of you who paint some helpful hints he shared included were….Keep one soft brush dry, handy for edge work. Push down on brushes that come to points so they splay out…thus getting blended strokes vs “noodle” lines. Take breaks, take breaks and take breaks. Step away from the painting…and do not look at it . Clear your head, then go back in. He doesn’t  have formulas for colors, goes in warm colors first…than adds in cool shadows the nose and the mouth, especially the mouth can be challenging  to paint. He saves the mouth for last…paints around it. The mouth is fluid like …always moving. .Also, the importance of your signature and getting it right …it should enhance not distract from the piece.

For light sources, it’s the edges of the light that you need to concentrate on. While painting look at the subject with your peripheral vision...otherwise we get tunnel vision and our mind insets the opposite color to grey things. Keep your eye in motion, compare vs isolate. You literally need to practice this. Go from tunnel vision to peripheral vision…back and forth.

Final Thought

One final point that Casey made I felt really hit home, and that  was “Painting is the universal language”. Just think about it, you can go to a museum in Barcelona, look at fresco’s on Temples in Vietnam, hit a gallery in Prague and you don’t need to speak the local language to get what the Artist is saying… Pretty amazing when you think about it. Our world is full of Towers of Babel…yet Art knocks down all walls. Just something to think about…

Toby’s Public House Pizza and Brews

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Looking for somewhere new to grab Brick oven Pizza? So was I recently when I came upon Toby’s Public House in Soho recently. Toby’s has a nice sized menu to choose from but it was their Lunch special on the chalk board outside that drew me in. For $15 you get a Caesar or House salad and a choice of three (3)Pizzas… Margarita, Soppressata or Fungi. I choose the House salad that came in a huge bowl comprised of fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, lots of Pecorino cheese in a Vinaigrette.

The Pizza’s are personal size that come in 6 slices. Though I usually go meat, especially when it’s spicy I went Fungi for a change of pace and was rewarded with some tasty earthy wood fired goodness .Of note I hit mine with some pepper flakes and theirs packed some punch. The balance of the large salad and the personal sized pizza I thought worked great showing today’s sensibilities and balance of food groups making Toby’s a definite spot for lunch as well as a cool spot to get a tasty brick oven pizza and craft beer or wine on tap in the evening.

Of note, the Waitress explained all the ingredients in detail to me, ie Fungi is Mushrooms, Soppressata is…etc which I found interesting since I grew up this stuff, they must get a lot of Tourists. Decor wise the place has thick high top and chair level wood tables, walls adorned with B&W photos and a  L shaped bar with over 20 craft brews on tap to choose from, a number of vino’s and some cool cocktails to keep you busy.

Toby’s is located at 86 Kenmare Street

 

Beer & Buns: Asia Sliders

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As I was heading home after a morning meeting I saw the Beer & Buns sign at the Court Hotel and walked over to check out the menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected menu of Asian inspired sliders ….which was interesting since I just caught up with a bud recently who likes Asian Fusion and Sliders. I came back later for lunch to do a little research. Upon entering I was expecting a pub like setting, yet found myself in a very cool looking large yet minimalist designed space with  plasma screens, a bar and even a backyard garden.

Beer & Buns menu has a fair amount to choose from including 10 different types of sliders (3 for $12, 5 for $17), Burgers, Salads, Sides and Appetizers. Since I was hungry and not sure how filling the sliders would be I ordered the Coconut Shrimp to start served with pineapple salsa. These were great, if you are nuts for coconut like I am you will enjoy these. Of note, the Salsa was actually a Pineapple flavored duck sauce…good but a little sweet. The Pulled Pork Quesadilla, Lobster Mac and Cheese and Tempura Veggies were tempting as well(of note the latter two were on the sides menu).

 

I decided to go seafood(they have beef, pork, chicken, and vegan options) and ordered the Bangkok Dangerous (Thai style Tom Yom Shrimp on brioche) ,Grouper on Fire -(fried fillet in a spicy chile sauce on an onion bun) and Phuket Fantasy( Crab Cake w/green curry on onion brioche) The Grouper was my favorite followed by the Crab Cake. The Shrimp was good, but it was eclipsed by the Coconut Shrimp appetizer. They have a nice selection of beers to choose from as well as Milk Shakes, soda and ice tea to quench your thirst. Another great addition to the neighborhood.

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Beer & Buns is located in the Court Hotel at 130 East 39th Street

Ethos Gallery 51: A Taste of the Greek Islands in Sutton Place

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I caught up with a couple of friends to check out slightly off the beaten path Ethos Gallery 51. It’s a beautiful space inside with a small curved bar and a beautiful clientele with curves to match. Seating is also available outside which is where my friends and I grabbed a table on a cool and breezy Summer evening. The menu here is fairly large and leans towards seafood. We started with Octapodi Sharas(Grilled Octopus with Onions, Capers, Fava Puree, Lemon and Herbs) and the Horiatiki(a classic Greek Salad{no lettuce} of cucumber, tomato, feta, olives, etc and Melitzana Feta(Eggplant stuffed with Feta, tomato sauce and herbs) All were great especially the Octapodi.

For our main courses we ordered a couple to share. My bud ordered the Greek Sausage which was very good though vastly different then what I expected.  believe this was tamed for American tastes since I was forewarned that it would be very gamy, yet I thought it was delicious loaded with mint. It Came with a side of Taramasalata and Baba Ganoush…both delish. We went back to the sea for our next main the Snapper. It  was fresh out of the ocean and simply prepared with lemon, oil and capers. We also enjoyed some sautéed spinach to keep it green and healthy on the side. We Drank vino and beers from from Greece with our meal as we shared stories from the past, present, life and the crazy state of the worlds current affairs. For desert a plate of Greek treats were served. Add Ethos Gallery 51 to your “Great Greek Spots” list.



Ethos Gallery 51 is located at 905 1st a Avenue

 

Eclair Bakery: Oh Mon Dieu! Delicieux French Pastries

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Decisions, decisions I came to Eclair Bakery for the eclairs highly recommend by a French friend of mine but figured I had to try a croissant  or pastry while I was here. Though a number of items caught my fancy since it was early and I needed breakfast I choose the ham and cheese croissant over the chocolate almond and the raspberry almond versions . It may well be the best I’ve ever had…and I’ve been to France a few times. It was incredibly buttery to the point that under Bloomberg he might have made it illegal…under Del Blasio… He’s probably order 3 more after the first and then hit the eclairs.

As for their namesake they have more flavors of Eclairs then I’ve ever seen…Chocolate, Pistachio, Passion Fruit, Praline….to name a few. I took home a pistachio and a coconut since they are two of my favorite flavors. Along with the large selection of recurring flavors  they have they do weekly specials  as well(see their website for current selections) at the time I was there they had Red Velvet and Cheesecake. For Carrot Cake lovers…their version is quite good and the macrons looked rather tasty as well. Of note, they have a very good cup of coffee to enjoy with your pastry(ies). Needless to say “Je reiendrai pour plus d‘…hopefully Google Translate got that right:)

Eclair Bakery is located at 305 East 53rd

Dacia Gallery presents Nikolina Kovalenko’s Masquerade

 

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I attended Nikolina Kovalenko’s Masquerade opening last week at Dacia Gallery and her works were both beautiful and thought provoking.  I met Nikolina at a gallery in the East Village for a photography show recently where she was the Sales Consultant. When I found that she was an Artist and a rather talented one I asked her to add me to her Gallery Opening invite list . Her new solo show Masquerade (July 18-August 30th) is a series of oil paintings primarily of portraits and figures based upon the “masks” that most people wear in life. The following are my favorite pieces from the show and my interpretations of them. Of note, while I couldn’t stay long and hear Nikolina speak I did get to hear her give a tour early on of her pieces so I may have been influenced and enlightened a bit by what she shared.

After the Interview -This one represents Girl Power, but instead of using comic book Pop Art archetypes Nikolina used girls smoking cigars and wearing fedoras like guys living it up. It’s based if I remember correctly by some people reactions to finding out that she travels solo sometimes and were surprised that as a women she would(which I find odd since I know a lot of women that do) engage in something they viewed as dangerous.

The Artist - It  didn’t hit me at first but this is a self portrait. She has done a number of other like works with people’s “professions” sprouting out of their heads.

Shopping for a Face – Simply shows how people are constantly looking to buy new clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, etc to change their look so people judge them by their looks versus their personality and intellect.

Red Mirror – I like this one aesthetically,  as for its meaning to me it’s women stealing looks from one another instead of just being themselves due to the onslaught of advertising created by  a certain few that determine what is beautiful and in style of the moment.

Rubik’s Cube – This one is conceptually my favorite,  a woman getting caught up trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube with major problems all around her. It shows how we fixate and get caught up on our own stupid problems that in most cases we could simply stop worrying about, put it down and deal with real people and issues.

Fishing for a Date – This one in a nutshell is a graphic representation of dating in NY and it really made me think especially of On-Line dating

What I found rather interesting is that with all the commentary in these pieces on how we judge others, how we want to be seen by others, etc these works come from an Artist that looks more like the beautiful models that pose for the ads and magazine shoots showing how we should ideally look and yet it is she who is actually wielding the brush telling the story that like the quote goes “beauty is only skin deep”. I look forward to seeing more of this up and coming Artists work.



Dacia Gallery is located at 53 Stanton Street (Open Wed -Sunday)

Best Coffee by Grand Central

Perk Kafe 2Beans

Up until very recently there were few good options to get a good cup of Joe, an Espresso or an Iced Coffee by Grand Central. Now all of a sudden it’s not where can I go for a decent cup it’s which one and why? Since I work frequently out of Coffee Bars most of these places have seating and WIFI and due to my sweet tooth most have very good baked treats. Here my top choices…

2Beans – As the name implies it’s not only about the coffee here (Lavazza), but about the cocoa bean as well. They have an amazing selection of chocolate from all over the world. They also have very good Gelato and pastries. The upstairs is a great spot to get away or have a meeting.

Aroma - They serve a piece of chocolate with their morning brew and have good sandwiches and pastries.

Cafe Grumpy – One of my new faves for their hot coffee, bags of beans to go, and their Iced Brew. Awesome Banana Bread with Cardamon and Black Pepper.

FIKA – Good coffee and very good pastries,especially the muffins. I like this location, but like the one on 41st west of Bryant Park even better.

Financier – Good solid cup of Coffee and Espresso, very good pastries especially like their large sized Pistachio Macrons and that you get a mini financier pastry with your coffee

Gregory’s – Really like the Pour-Overs here as well as the drip. Great Banana Bread, Muffins and Cookies.

Joe – Another great spot for bags of beans, coffee hot or cold and some tasty treats, especially the Ring Dings…

Le Colombe at Zuckers – Why all Bagel Joints don’t have great coffee like Le Colombe served here is beyond me. Great Bagels and spreads and some nice spins on classic treats like Red Velvet Twinkies

Perk Kafe serving Stumpton’s – While it’s a handful of blocks away from Grand Central, it’s close enough to make this list especially since they serve Stumpton’s which is one of my favorites. They also have awesome Chocolate Almond Croissants that they get from a spot in Soho and great Banana Bread

Best Sexy Shower Gels, Soaps and Scrubs

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You work out hard sweating it out in the gym, yoga studio, the road, pool etc, you watch what you eat to stay fit and expose yourself to the sun, wind, and rain when running, biking, skiing, swimming, surfing etc. You’re also at least semi-Green trying to do your part to make the planet a better place. So why would you then want to douse yourself with chemicals tested on and harming animals to clean your skin and hair? I sure don’t, so I use products that are at least primarily all natural with limited exceptions. The list below are my favorite spots to both buy gifts for the ladies in ones life and for the stuff that I use to groom this savage beast. Of note, most of these goods are premium priced,some more the others. However, I have noticed they are usually fairly concentrated, so you use less, making them a better bang for the proverbial buck then they seem.

Aesop – Ultra high end all natural stuff from Oz. I love Shampoo’s with mint and eucalyptus to wake you up in the morning and they have a number of them.

Bliss – The folks at Bliss Spa make some great soaps. The Big Blue Bar and the Mint one are my faves. They also have a great foot lotion.

Fresh – I primarily come here to buy soaps and hand and body lotions as gifts that are made from Brown Sugar, Sake, Roses etc…They also have some great Perfumes and Colognes…one I’ve found that works particularly well for me…

Kiehls – The Grapefruit body wash is great as is the oatmeal scrub bar. Their Clean Hold Gel is how I keep my hair looking styling without being “Something About Mary” stiff. Facial Fuel helps as well some mornings.

L’Occitaine
– Another spot I go to primarily for gifts especially their Lavender line for the ladies.

Lush – Their Ocean Salt is my go to favorite scrub…smells like a great cocktail. The Iced Blue, Dirty and Sea Vegetable(made with Seaweed and Sea Salt) are some of my favorite hard soaps.

Malin Goetz – I believe they have their own shop but I get their goods at high end Barber Shops with boutiques like Fellow Barber. Their Peppermint Shampoo and Scrubs are epic

Molten Brown – Great place for gifts of high end bath gels, hand lotions and the like. I often have a bottle of their Eucalyptus or Templetree on hand.

Rituals – Another spot that has some great Icy Cool products for the skin and scalp. Their bath foam gels are great as well and they have plenty of lines to choose from.

NYC’s Best Gelato and Ice Cream

ArteGelato Jeni's

Morgensterns

     We are currently experiencing an Ice Cream Renaissance like the world has never tasted before. Salted Caramel, Spicy Chocolate and Fresh Peppermint are becoming standard while flavors like Brown Butter Bacon, Chocolate Cherry Rocky Road , Licorice and Lavender are new taste sensations. Below are my current favorites and some of my favorite flavors. Of note, I’m a Chocolate vs a Vanilla guy, love Mint, I’m nuts…I mean love nut based flavors like Pistachio, Hazelnut etc and love finding new twists on the classics

Coolhaus - While known primarily for their Ice Cream sandwiches sold out if their trucks and carts which are epic(they offer about 5 differ types of cookie everyday…) I usually by their stuff by the Mason jar. Dirty Mint, Mint Julep and Brown Butter Bacon are some of my faves

Cones – Has been around for a while selling delicious Gelato, try their  Corn and the Dulce Con Leche

Grom – I’m partial to their Pistachio and Hazelnut

Hay Rosie – Limited batch production down out of Brooklyn. You can get 7oz mini-boxes at Cool Story in NYC. So far I’ve had the Bananas Ferrari (bananas, brown butter, brown sugar and malted milk crunchies) and the Chocolate Malt with honeyed peanut butter swirl. This a new major contender to watch…and eat…

Ill Laboratorio Gelato – while their basic flavors are great it’s their special flavors like Fig, Rosemary, Juniper Berry, Lavender Honey,  and Licorice that I usually go for. Usually in one if their tubs where you can get up to 4 or 5 different  flavors

Jacques Torres - They make some of my favorite chocolate, my fave hot chocolate, have amazing chocolate chunk cookies and a few years ago stated an ice cream line which is awesome. The Wicked Chocolate being my favorite. Their chocolate chunk ice cream cookies sandwiches are incredible.

Jeni’s Splendid – I’ve seen Jeni’s in pints and finally got around to trying some. Non standard flavors are they’re thing and even when basic they amp it up. I really enjoyed their Salted Caramel, they put so much cacao in the Dark Chocolate it’s almost fudge and Bombay Milk Chocolate has Coconut and Curry Powder in it! I liked it, your not going to want it every day …but if you like curry go get yourself some

L’ Arte del Gelato – Some of the best Gelato in the city, dense, creamy delish. Large assortment of flavors. I recently had the Spicy Chocolate(packed some heat) Cherry, and Banana and all were off the charts. The Chocolate with Orange is incredible as well.

Meat Ball Shop – Why am I listing a Meatball joint? Quite simply because while they have some of the best meatballs in the city or yo Momma’s kitchen( let the hate mail from my Italian friends begin:)  their ice cream sandwiches are as good. Chose from 5-6 cookies(you can choose a different top from the bottom!:) and the same amount of flavors Chocolate, Vanilla, Coffee, Mint and some specials. You can also make a Root Beer float…yum:)

Morgenstern’s Finest  – This place is so damn good it has me coming after mid-morning coffee and before lunch for a couple of scoops! The Chocolate Cherry Road is incredible, love their Caramel variations (ie Sesame)and they have some very tasty toppings that include Black Fudge…Hot fudge with licorice that is insane! Oh their Sorbets are pretty amazing too…especially Jungle Bird

Odd Fellows – Amazing ice cream in not your standard flavors like Miso Cherry, Caramel Chorizo, Buttermilk Bacon etc…

Shake Shack – Great burgers and Chicago Sports dogs, but don’t miss out on the Custard Concretes…flavors change regularly

Sundaes and Cones – My favorite Coconut Ice Cream in the city, love the Banana as well. Come here for the great Far East  flavors like Sesame and Wasabi.

Van Leeuwen - Another one of my faves. I usually go to their brick n mortar in the E Village, but they have 11 trucks out and about. I love their Mint and really wish they would add the Coconut Chocolate Chip as a standard instead of a special. Palm Sugar is another great one.

Remember, the secret to enjoying these tasty treats is to enjoy them in moderation and find a fun way to burn them off when you finish licking them up