I’m pretty much always seeking style. And by the first of December every year, I am also desperately seeking snow. Having grown up in the Midwest, it just never feels like the holiday season unless there’s snow – powdery, crunchy, stick to your eyelashes snow. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the snow, so I hinted to my husband that what I wanted more than anything for Christmas was to see snow. Luckily, he wanted the same thing, so we headed to New York City for a few days of fun, snow, and of course, style.
We arrived in New York City on Christmas Eve, just in time for our reservations at the Cafe Carlyle to see Steve Tyrell sing. It hadn’t snowed in New York City yet this season, but we heard that flurries were possible that evening. So we walked the 20 odd blocks in the cold with the hope that it would start to snow. When we were about six blocks away, the flurries began. I was giddy with delight.
Cafe Carlyle is in the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s old New York, with a 1930’s supper club vibe, and I try to make it there every time I visit.
On another trip, we were fortunate enough to see Eartha Kitt perform. That woman had some legs and some chops! Even at 80 years old, her legs could put most 30 year old’s to shame. Eartha’s voice was a sexy growl that filled up a song, and gave every woman who’s ever heard her sing the confidence that she could seduce a man with one sultry look and a maybe a little leg. In 1952, a writer for the New York Times wrote, “Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary, but she can make a song burst into flame.” She died a year after I saw her perform at the Carlyle. RIP Eartha. You made me sexier with every word you sang. May she inspire us all to sing and dance until the only one left to partner with is death itself.
On this visit, I did more than my fair share of star gazing. There are some rules though if you want to be mistaken for someone who lives in New York City and not look like a tourist. For starters, you don’t stare or gawk at celebrities. Stars who live in the city expect that they will be “invisible” to others so they can carry on with their celebrity habits without notice or judgment.
Second, you don’t approach a celebrity. You act as though they’re any other stranger you pass on the street or sit next to in a restaurant. And if you’ve sat at a table in a New York City restaurant eight inches away from another couple while you’re trying to celebrate your anniversary, you know what I’m talking about. Those magical, invisible walls you put up between you and the other table shield you from eye contact or listening to the tiff the other couple might be having.
And third, you never, ever ask to take a picture with a celebrity. Gasp! Nothing screams out, “I’m a tourist!” like asking to pose with your arm around someone you only feel like you know because you see them more than once a week on TV.
So there I was at the Carlyle sitting within five inches of the percussionist’s backside, and I realize that I have to go to the bathroom. Great timing. My small bladder always knows the least appropriate time to ring the service bell. I squeeze out, trying not to put my behind (or my front) in anyone’s face. On my way to the bathroom I saw – you aren’t going to believe this – the one and only Kate Spade, who by the looks of her party hat, was celebrating her birthday.
To me, Kate Spade is fabulous. She’s smart, she’s fashionable, she built a business from nothing, sold it for everything, and is Midwestern. I wanted to walk up to her and say, “Happy Birthday! Do you want to be best friends?” But, I remember the three rules, and instead I say – nothing. I smile at her casually and walk past her calmly. Only once I was alone in the bathroom stall, did do a little jig like a school girl who got asked to her first dance. In case your wondering, I can tell you that she looked exactly how Kate Spade should look – refined, ladylike, playful. She was perfect. Funny enough, it seems that my bladder knew exactly when we needed to go to the bathroom.
I got back to my seat just in time for Steve Tyrell to start singing. Steve Tyrell is an outstanding performer and has mastered the art of the old New York style of entertaining. A small venue, talented musicians, big band voice, charming personality, and great storytelling all added up to a magical experience.
Before I knew it, I had imbibed in my fair share of Champagne and red wine, and Steve had sung his last note. Before he left the stage though, he gave a shout out to his “good friend” Katie Couric, who was sitting on the other side of the room. My heart leapt a bit at the thought of Katie Couric sitting in the same room. I tried to restrain myself. As my head spun around, moving from side to side, trying to make her out in the dimly lit room, the three rules flashed ever so briefly on the front lobe of my brain. No gawking. No approaching. No photographs.
Maybe it was the alcohol, but the three rules went right out the window. Before I knew it, the lights were up, Steve Tyrell was standing by Katie’s table, and I was saying, “Hi, Katie!” She was everything I’d hoped she’d be – personable, sweet, and delightful. She was even prettier in person than she appears on TV. She smiled and conversed with me long enough to pose for a photo and make me look like, (gasp!) a tourist. Thanks Katie, a photo op with you was worth it.
On Christmas Day, the sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for a brisk walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. A friend of mine who lives in the city insisted that we visit an artsy little neighborhood on the Brooklyn side of the bridge called DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). His promise of some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline were all true.
Another amazing thing about DUMBO is the glass enclosed carousel that sits on the river. The artist, Jane Walentas, bought this vintage carousel and restored it bit by bit over the last 30 years. It is truly a work of art.
We ate Christmas dinner at Le Bernardin, which is well-known for it’s amazing, over the top service and the purse chairs. Yes, you read that right. Each table has a small chair that sits low to the ground where you set your purse. Le Bernardin is Zagat’s top pick for 2012. It has also received the Michelin Guide’s coveted three stars as well as the New York Times’ highest rating of four stars.
But none of that holds a candle to the chef sommelier, Aldo Sohm, who oversees a wine collection consisting of 15,000 bottles made up of 900 wine selections from 12 countries with vintages that date back to 1875. Sohm, who has what seems like an endless list of accolades and awards, is often seen on the Today Show and quoted in magazines such as Town & Country. In 2008, he was named Best Sommelier in the World after a two day competition in Rome. He’s a wine genius, extremely gracious, and unbelievably humble. He was even kind enough to pose with me for a photo.
The 26th was my birthday, and we spent it running around the city like kids. (In the snow, I might add!) We took a carriage ride through Central Park. Touristy, but I loved it. We lunched at Balthazar and hotel bar hopped to keep warm and toast my birthday. But in the midst of all the Karousing, we ducked into the Time Warner Center to escape the wind, and I happened upon my new favorite store – C. Wonder. Oh, it’s good. And I mean really good.
It’s bright. It’s colorful. It’s fresh. It’s vibrant. It’s quite simply, Wonder-full! Clothes, accessories, jewelry, and home goods all perfectly placed in a delightfully inspiring space. I hadn’t had that much fun shopping in a long time. And to top it all off, the regular prices were reasonable, but the sale prices were unbelievable! I walked out with a bag full of clothes for $125. What’s better than a Wonder-full purchase? A Wonder-full purchase for a bargain!
My birthday dinner was at Buddakan. When I learned that the dress code is “downtown chic, fun, hip,” I knew I had to celebrate at Buddakan. It was dark and sexy with a side of Buddha all served up to some funky, zen vibes. The food was equally as hip and interesting as the atmosphere. And for all you SATC fans, it’s also where Carrie and Big had their rehearsal dinner in the first movie.
Before I knew it, the clock struck twelve, and I was back in my hotel room ready for bed with thoughts of snow, carousels, and buddhas dancing in my head. New York is a magical place. Where else can you show up, ask for something like snow and get it? Where else can you run into your idol on the way to the bathroom? Where else can you show up for dinner and have the world’s best sommelier smile for your camera? Where else can you duck in from the cold and discover something new that fills you with joy? I may not live in New York City, but I’m certainly not a tourist. I’m just like everyone else there. I’m a seeker of the magic and wonder that makes New York feel just like…
Your Fun, Sexy, Spiritual Reading Assignments:
- Earth Kitt’s obituary.
- What makes Kate Spade, Kate Spade?
- Jane’s Carousel rocks. Find out more.
- Why is Le Bernardin so highly rated?
- How Aldo Sohm became the World’s Best Sommelier.
- What’s so Wonder-full about C.Wonder?
- Would you like Buddakan?