Thursday, December 19, 2013

Culture with a Capital C

     One of the benefits of living in the New York area is being able to board a train and go into the city for an invigorating dose of culture. B and I did up culture big yesterday ...

     We ate an early dinner at a vegan restaurant called Candle 79. I am not a vegan, or even a vegetarian (although I rarely eat red meat, preferring chicken, fish and pasta). But we found this place on the Internet; it was convenient to where we were going; and it sounded pretty good.

     B and I had to go early, and while waiting at the door for the place to open we met a couple from Schenectady, NY, down for the day for a doctor's appointment, a meal at their favorite restaurant, and then a stop over at Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree, before taking the late train back up to Albany.

     B and I ate upstairs. We started by sharing a Tri-Color Beet Salad that was very tasty. The woman we'd met outside on the sidewalk recommended the Seitan Piccata, and so that's what I ordered. I liked the piccata part; didn't go for the seitan quite so much.

     B ordered Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake. She thought it was pretty good. She gave me a bite, and all I tasted was the curry. I don't mind curry; but as a spice I find it's a bit overwhelming. Anyway, the restaurant fulfilled my requirement for what makes a good New York eatery -- the kind of restaurant you don't find anywhere around home.

     The guy we'd met outside claimed he'd lost 40 pounds since turning vegan last August. I cannot vouch for that, but I have no reason to doubt him either. This restaurant made the best out of a vegan menu. And if I ate vegan, I'd probably drop a few pounds as well.

     Before we went to dinner we'd gone to an exhibition at the Frick Museum on 70th St. and Fifth Ave. The draw? An exhibition of Dutch masters on loan from the Mauritshuis Museum in Amsterdam, featuring several paintings by Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer and Frans Hals. The star of the show was the "Girl with a Pearl Earring," Vermeer's luminous painting of the mysterious Dutch girl who inspired the popular Tracy Chevalier novel, a book that was later made into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson.

     While at the Frick, we learned a little bit about the founding of The Netherlands, after 80 years of war between the Protestants and the Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries; we watched a short film covering the life and times of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919); and we also perused the permanent collection which includes plenty of paintings by other masters, as well as a collection of clocks and watches and ornamental sculptures, and a smattering of works by the Impressionists.

     If you're ever in New York, I would heartily recommend a visit to the Frick. It was well worth the trip, even for someone like me, who can only claim to be a tepid museum fan.

     After dinner we walked up to 84th St. and Park Ave., where we entered the halls of our true destination: the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, where B had purchased preferred seating for a Christmas concert called "A Child Is Born."

     The 20-some-strong orchestra featured an organ, a harp, and a first-violinist who's a true star. When they got together with the church choir and the children's choir and launched into Handel's Messiah, you knew that Christmas had arrived.

     Like I said, Culture with a capital C. And so ... peace on Earth, good will to men, and happy holidays to all!


#1Nana said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. I would love to visit New York City during the holidays, even though I'm a little afraid of the crowds. You are lucky to live so close.

Stephen Hayes said...

The Frick is my favorite New York museum. It's just the right size, small and intimate as museums go and every painting is a masterpiece. But you were fortunate; I had to travel all the way to The Hague to see Vermeer's Lady with the Pearl Earring, often called The Mona Lisa of the North. Take care.

Kirk said...

Frick, one of my favorites.

Vegab - no way

Juhli said...

That sounds like a wonderful combination of activities! We saw that exhibit when it was in Atlanta and found it very interesting.

DJan said...

I was enchanted with that painting and read the book but didn't see the movie. It sounds like it was a wonderful time. I myself love curry, the hotter the better. But I know what you mean about it being a bit overwhelming. :-)

Anonymous said...

My sister owns a vegan restaurant in Honolulu. David and I have dined there 4 times already, and she always brings vegan fare to my parties. I lived in NYC for 5-1/2 years back in the early 1970s and know what you mean by Culture.

Olga said...

That all sounds like cultured fun. It ha been ages and ages since I have had a trip to NYC.

Anonymous said...

My Mom was Dutch, (My Grandparents from the Netherlands), so I love all things Dutch. I visited the museum you name a couple of trips. Chevalier thanks Simon Schama for her historical background info. If you want to know more about the history of the Netherlands, read his 'Embarrassment of Riches' … long and wonderful. Also, 'Tulip,' by Anna Pavord. Dianne

Sydney said...

I would be jealous, but then I just got an email yesterday from our NYC home-exchangers and we're all set for our month there this summer.

Doesn't even matter what's at the Frick, isn't that just a beautiful place to see any art? Seems especially well suited for Vermeer though.

And you were right in "our" neighborhood! When we are on our home-exchange, we walk by that church every day on our way to our morning walk around the Jackie Onassis reservoir in Central Park. I'll bet it's not hot and humid right now though! I wonder if I could survive a month there this time of year? said...

Sounds beautiful! I found you on an article via yahoo about retirement.
Merry Christmas! laura