Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quirky Village Shops

We'd picked up a leaflet on small Village shops, printed as a form of mutual support and a chance to showcase shops which didn't have much publicity. As it's our last day, we resolved to visit (or at least window-shop) in these "mom and pop" stores in the community we've grown to enjoy.

Despite being printed at the beginning of the year, quite a number of the stores featured had gone out of business in the intervening months, including three in a row on 8th Avenue. It's hard to gauge how retailers are faring - everyone is having a sale with "discounts" over 50%, but that could just be the way marketing works.

Fortunately the leaflet had a map and a guide criss-crossing Bleecker Street and some of the loveliest Greenwich Village streets - many settled in the early to mid-nineteenth century and nowadays the location of very desirable and upscale residences.

Lots of different stores - Christopher Street had some fetish shops, and around the corner a Sufi centre. Or vice-versa. 

The Slaughtered Lamb seemed to revel in violent imagery. We had a drink at The Village Tavern instead - a surprise redneck sports bar in the middle of Greenwich Village. 

We've become used to addresses that are "10 1/2" due to buildings being redeveloped as narrower, taller buildings - but this was a new address economy ... 

This was a recommended shoe store, so of course it had a naked mannequin in the window.

 There's lots of construction and renovation work going on, as the only way to get into the neighbourhood would appear to be renovating one of the remaining condemned buildings.

We stopped in at Three Lives & Co, a bookshop with a very good range of highbrow literature, classy non-fiction and local interest books about NYC and Greenwich Village in particular. I'd have liked to bring a boxload home, but I don't have the space in the luggage or on my "to read" shelf at home.

Grahame Fowler is a brit-centric mens' wear store creating designs well suited to English sailing. They have a range of shirts amusingly displayed on a old drycleaners' motorised rack, and you flick a switch to rotate the selection. There were lots of english brogues, and some wonderfully impractical white suede shoes. We bought a few shirts.

Li-lac Chocolates is New York's oldest chocolatier, established in 1923. There were some fun items, like a chocolate basketball and a gay marriage couple a metre tall. We bought some "marzipan acorns" being marzipan half-dipped in chocolate but the other patrons were mostly buying the chocolate pieces in white, milk or dark.

It's wicked to mock the afflicted, but this short person was wearing shorts down to his ankles and it was Just Wrong.

After those stores, and window-shopping at others, we broke for lunch at The Spotted Pig, a Michelin-rated gastropub.

They don't take reservations, but we were lucky and were shown straight to the table. Entirely for tasting purposes we sampled cocktails:

The Harlow (Aperol, St Germain, Dibon Cava, Lemon, Soda)

Garden Vesper (Greenhook Gin, Tito’s Vodka, Lillet Blanc, Rose Water, Cucumber)

At that time of the day they offered "brunch" - I had the Pork Rillette, like a terrine made of pork shoulder and Lynda had the special Pork Caruba, a toasted bun filled with spicy pork and chillies.

The meal was improved with a reasonable and creditable Californian Zinfandel (Foxglove, 2011, Paso Robles) and completed with a shared doughnut with pastry creme and blueberry jam. Extra points for good coffee - a macchiato with nice crema and not swamped with milk.

It seemed a good idea to walk the meal off and we soon built up speed and steady direction.

Garber Hardware on Greenwich Street was established in 1884 and is routinely voted and declared the best hardware store in NYC. Perhaps better for renovators than tourists, but yes it had all the gear and products one could ask. Lynda got some specialist butchers' block oil for my son the butcher.

The Meadow is a shop really really dedicated to salt and chocolate. You can buy Himalayan Salt blocks for cooking, and get your seasoning that way. Apart from that there was imported salt from all over the world, with every imaginable flavouring. I bought some truffle salt and some precious bespoke artisan organic handmade exclusive neverheardofit chocolate for gifts to me and others.

I was impressed by The End of History - a store devoted to glassware and ceramics. Very expensive - one little vase I quite liked was $2250 - but lots of beautiful pieces. They were arranged by colour, which is practical but also makes for a stunning display.

A second-hand store Adelaide was an interesting browse - mid-century and earlier design items including tableware, furniture, bolts of cloth and some mirrors.

We stopped at Debra Moorefield, a local designer shop. Lynda bought a LBD and some costume jewellery while I checked out Perry Street. The street is very attractive and a heritage site, but also features the "stoop" which was used as Carrie Bradshaw's front doorstop in Sex and the City.

While we were wandering to and fro, I took some shots of this part of Christopher Street - sex, drugs and rock'n'roll (if not precisely in that order).

Tonight is our last night, and we've been able to get into Mole restaurant for some inspirational Mexican cuisine. They don't take bookings, and it's Saturday night; but we were on a waitlist and got a table on our second attempt.

The restaurant is dark and cramped, and noisy as can be. Not a place for a Talk, and quite hard to order. The tables were so crammed together that we had to move the table to get in, and when our neighbours wanted to get out. 

I haven't had a gourmet experience with Mexican food, and this is no exception. Quite nice though - we started with a ginger Margarita and chef served up complimentary chips and dip. We both had the tacos with grilled skirt steak, which were tasty and the sides of beans and guacamole did the job. Too much food, butofcourse - emphasized even more when the dessert of Pastel Tres Leches (White cake soaked in a three milk mixture with chantilly cream and shaved chocolate) arrived like a brick. We had the Mexican coffee with Kahlua, but first removed 90% of the whipped cream for our hearts' sake. 

Back home for a quiet end to our holiday, with a lot of packing to do in the morning. 

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