Weekend Update

Zabar's Gourmet Food Emporium

It’s fall in New York, I’m telling you. The temperatures may not be appreciably cooler than they were pre-Labor Day, but autumn has landed in the Big Apple in a big way. At precisely 9:00 AM on Tuesday, September 2nd, an invisible switch was flipped back to “on,” putting the sleepy summer to bed and powering the city to life again. The line outside the West Village’s Magnolia Bakery is once again winding up 11th Street, clothing boutiques are thronged with Manhattanites jonesing to wear uber cool winter clothes and boots even though it’s still in the 80’s, and the vibe on the streets is once more high on flow, low on ebb.

Earlier in the week, I checked out The Brandy Library with fellow author–and intrepid social ethnographer–Liz Maverick and our friend, Bonni. If I had to settle on one word to sum up the Brandy Library it would be “civilized.” Unlike so many Manhattan watering holes, here you can claim a seat at the back lit bar or one of the banquette style tables, order your aperitif, and savor it for hours. Located in the heart of Tribeca, The Brandy Library boasts an impressive array of not only brandies but classic cocktails, cognacs and single-malt scotches. If you’re bored, you can even quiz the bartender, Jason, on the origins of your libation. If he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll look it up–really, he will.

Last night I attended a shared Virgo birthday party at Slate Plus, a sleek after hours club in Manhattan’s West Village. The music was a mix of 80’s, 90’s and contemporary Top 40, rap and hip hop; the ambiance spartanly elegant; and the clientele…styling.

I rounded out the weekend with a maiden shopping expedition to Zabar’s in search of some gourmet grub. The iconoclastic Manhattan food emporium has occupied its Upper West Side location at Broadway & 80th for seventy years–and counting. I went at peak on a Sunday because a) I was in the hood having lunch with a friend and b) after seven months in the city, I was getting tired of moving the Zabar’s gift certificate, a housewarming gift from friends Mike and Lisa, every time I dusted my dresser.

Going to Zabar’s for the first time on a Sunday constitutes a maverick move, somewhere between boldness and stupidity. To say it was a little bit crowded would be like saying super model Heidi Klume is a little bit pretty. The narrow aisles were stuffed to the point of thrumming. More than once I found myself manuevering around shoppers who’d suddenly slammed on the brakes mid-step to sample the free noshes. I couldn’t blame them.

Trekking $100 bucks worth of perishables back downtown wasn’t exactly a cheesecake and marble rye walk, but strappy soul that I am, I managed. My usually empty singleton refrigerator is now stocked with gourmet meals-to-go: Black Angus flank steak, poached salmon in dill, baked macaroni and cheese, and spinach souffle. For a person used to scrounging for scraps come week’s end, one who’s been known to make a meal of a jar of olives or a microwaveable bag of Orville’s best–hey, it’s all about the pairings–all this bounty is well…a little overwhelming.

But I’ll deal.

Coming attractions…

September 5th was the kick-off to Fashion Week AKA Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, a semi-annual event held in New York City with events staged in Bryant Park and other areas throughout the city. The collections being shown are the Spring 2009 lines, of course. In the rag biz, fall is, strictly speaking, a done deal, then again they don’t call it “fashion forward” for nothing. 😉 I’ll be calling in my reports from the catwalk…right after I finish this piece of Zabar’s cheesecake.