Thursday, August 25, 2011


With our budget set for the gift fair there ended up way too many marks on our "like this" list to make it into our final stack of purchase orders so we've decided to show some things we loved but couldn't buy this trip
Fiona McIntosh had some of the most beautiful scarves and ties we've seen. Created in her studios, Tessuti Printed Textiles, in Edinburgh, Scotland these accessories were beautifully crafted and exquisitely designed. Made from either felted wool, cashmere or lambswool and silk, if we would ever move into selling clothing these pieces would be at the top of our list.
I loved this flatware from Canvas. The modern lines and thin profile would make eating an elegant, drawn-out affair. Made from stainless and ebony they felt light as a feather. Simplicity in design is one of the hardest things to accomplish successfully. Here the crutch of embellishment has been stripped away leaving only the basics of proportion, choice of shape, and use of materials to carry this flatware pattern to a perfect four star rating.
Vanguard was a vendor we purchased from for our former country store, Mercantile, back in Andes, New York. Their look is a blend of rustic and industrial with a patina of elegance. If we could only have squeezed another thousand dollars out of our budget we would have written an order here as well.
We loved these wire and tin buckets.
This side table evoked both the sea and a Gothic Cathedral all cloaked in one piece of furniture.
Limed oak was a theme at Worlds Away and this finish was done to perfection. The Wersler dresser with its Greek key motif almost seemed blue the way it reflected light. It was like a piece of driftwood setting on a sandy beach.
Their round side table in the same finish was a perfect blend of finish, material and proportion. Their website doesn't do these pieces justice but in person they transported us to St. Barts and the sound of waves lapping at the shore.
The photographer, Adrienne Page of Velvet Raptor, has created a collection of photo albums wrapped in the softest of velvets. Each shade of velvet she has chosen feels as if it was stripped from the fabric walls of a Victorian Mansion where ladies napped on chaises dressed in high collars straight out of a John Singer Sargent painting. Expect to see these photo albums on our shelves in the not too distant future with a little bag of ivory photo corners dangling from a silk ribbon tied around their spins.
Maybe it was because we hadn't explored the show in a few years, or maybe it was a new aesthetic brought out by a new group of vendors but our jaded attitudes didn't follow us this time around the fair. We enjoyed every minute of our three day, eight hours a day marathon...well maybe not every minute. Now we can't wait for our orders to start rolling in.

Well I'm clearly not as smart as I'd like to think I am. My beautiful cloth globe I haggled for at the flea market garage in New York unexpectedly showed up at the "Go Home" booth at the New York Gift Fair. I had concocted this story in my mind of some highly creative backwoods artist tearing up old seed sacks and sewing them onto a discarded canvas beanbag, her fingers covered in calluses from pushing an industrial needle through layers of thick fabric. So much for my fantasy, this mass produced bean bag ended up making a mockery of my over-rated imagination. When I saw the globe at the flea market I lusted for it and couldn't believe someone else hadn't scooped up that one-of-a-kind world in their hands. I instantly handed over my cash, wrapped my treasure in a black garbage bag and traipsed over to Home Depot where I shelled out more money for a cardboard box so my globe could accompany me as luggage on my plane ride back to Madison. I coveted that globe. When I returned and uncrated my treasure at the store I debated putting a price on it. I wasn't sure I wanted it to sell. I felt a globe like this one wasn't likely to show up ever again. I, obviously, couldn't have been more wrong. We'll now be carrying the world in our store, available for a modest fee with the disclaimer "no little ladies in Appalachia lost any sleep or feeling in their fingers making this faux folk art gem". It's still a beautiful piece

Most of us these days are watching our pocketbooks and this is most important when shopping for our homes. No matter if you are looking for a pillow, a lamp or a bureau for the front hall, look at every possible option. Shop, shop, shop...eyes only. Those days of impulse buying are behind us. We can no longer just pick up an item and say "Oh, I love this, it'll work somewhere." Every dollar counts and every object or item of furniture must have a raison d'etre. If you see something you simply can't live without, ask the shopkeeper to hold it for you. They'll usually hold if for a day or two. You'll be surprised how the need and desire for a beautiful purchase can wane after a day or so of seeing other pretty little things.
However, if you come into Pleasant Living to shop, forget what I just said


Checker Cab, New York, 1982
Helen Levitt, Photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery

Thursday, August 18, 2011



When we had our store, Mercantile, in Andes, New York we’d trek over to the piers and the Javits, lace up our running shoes, shove a bottle of spring water in our leather backpacks and start our mad dash through the aisles of fart cushions and coconut scented edible underwear. I hate the smell of coconut.
It wasn’t that money was no object but our time was more valuable then. We got to the point where we knew what we were looking for and where to find it in the miles of aisles known as the New York International Gift Fair. It wasn’t so much that we were irresponsible buyers; it was just easier to know what to buy with the clear concept of a country look with an emphasis on recycled vintage. The vendors with merchandise that fit into our store weren’t in abundance and they were relatively easy to see even at our whirling speed.
Those salad days of buying anything that struck our eye are gone and so is the youthful gait we were once capable of mastering as we bullet raced the show. This year we thought we could do the purchasing in two half days and have some time left to enjoy the city. Within the first morning it was clear our assessment of time was way out of whack. The gift fair now opens in segments. On Saturday the first part of the fair opened on Piers 94 and 92 and then in the lower level of the Javits. This part of the show would stay open until the following Wednesday afternoon.  The rest of the Javits opened on Sunday staying open until Thursday afternoon. I’m not sure of the significance of the staggered opening but if you’re there at the beginning and want to try to do the whole thing in a day you’re automatically screwed. We started our tour around ten on Saturday morning hitting Pier 94 first. This pier that houses the At Home segment always holds our biggest expectations and it didn’t disappoint. We had pre-registered  which made getting into the pier a breeze, no line to stand in, no forms to fill out, only a friendly attendant with a scanner zapping our barcodes and handing us our printed badges and lanyards.
Our first eye-catcher - Pillows. We found pillows, one of the things that topped our list. We found them in the first aisle we walked down. Tournaline Home is a relative start up with some of the most beautiful pillows we have seen. Sticking to our guns of cautious purchasing we stepped back from writing an order right off the bat. Instead we took cards and exchanged information but we were pretty sure we had found our source for well-priced feather-filled natural linen pillows. True to our instincts we did go back and place an order two day later.
Our next find was Soup. Here was a vendor you knew was destined to immediate success. The designers had worked on their craft at West Elm and now branched out on their own. They were so new they only had samples at the show and would place their orders with their manufacturers after the close of the show based on the amount of interest shown at the fair. Soup designs rugs, drapery, bedding sets and the most fantastic poof you could ever want. We caught them at the very beginning of the show, well before their heads would swell well beyond human proportions. Soup is one of those companies you’re going to want to keep an eye on. We held back on placing our order right there and then but there was no question we’d come back. When we did come back to place our order we had to stand in line behind the media people from O at Home, House Beautiful and HGTV as well as buyers from most of the biggies including ABC Carpet.
There was a TV commercial that came out around the time e-commerce started into its own. In the commercial there were a group of expectant 20-somethings gathered around a monitor. With a sigh one of them reaches forward and hits the launch button. Immediately they see 30 hits, then 3,000. Smiles across the board. Then you see 30,000 hits and then 300,000 as you watch the smiles turn to panic. I hope this isn’t the case with Soup. We’re counting on a December delivery and I can’t wait to put my feet up on that oh so cushy poof.
From Pier 94 we walked under the covered awning to Pier 92, the home of New York’s Newest. Last year our friends from Old Village Hall had taken a booth in this section. When I spoke to Scott he wasn’t very happy with their response. I didn’t believe him. I thought it would be filled with great inventive, new to the scene and never seen before products. Scott was right. What we found was not new, nor inventive and mostly “seen that done that” stuff you don’t really want to see again. I understood Scott’s frustration. Their product would have been lost amongst all the dime store trinkets and hardware store gadgets you couldn’t pay me to take a second look at or write out an order for. But, hidden on a side aisle was a small vendor selling bio-ethanol fueled ventless fireplaces. For those of you unaware of who we are; I’m from the north and Rick is from the south. We’re now living in the north where it gets cold. Rick starts to shiver sometime around late-August and doesn’t really stop until mid-July. Now that we have this new studio and retail store it’s going to require a fireplace or he won’t be coming in until the corn is knee high. I’m seeing one of these units from AnywhereFireplace in our near future because I can already hear his teeth start to chatter. We will be making these available to customers as well. 10% off if you can produce goosebumps in either May or August without the aid of air-conditioning or an ice cube.
On Saturday we managed to close down the piers. We weren’t sure we could do another marathon day on Sunday but the forecast was for torrential rain and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. What better way to spend a day in the rain in a walking city than to do our walking in the ten miles of aisles stretching through the Javits Center. The only drawback being the Javits leaks like a sieve. You needed an umbrella inside almost as badly as you needed one outside. 
Our task here was to find gifts that would bridge our customer’s economic demographics. What we discovered were beautiful throws made from alpaca and woven paper. We purchased elegant candlesticks of polished nickel and marble, crystal perfume bottles and sterling serving pieces. We went into the show with a mission: to bring back responsible but elegant urban products that could grace any home.
Come the holiday season we should be well stocked with all your gift giving needs. We hope you all will stop in and warm your hands on our ventless fire come the fall and winter months.
By that time we should also have our supply of Bellocq’s hand-crafted teas in their yellow travel tins available for sale. A little bit of Kings Road London on hand for those icy winter days. In the meantime we’re here doing our design work and soaking our aching feet. 

What I tell every client at the start of a project, whether it’s one room or a full house, is before the first purchase whether it’s a pillow or a sofa, paint colors or floor covering, you’ve got to have a plan. If you start on a trip without a map you’re bound to get lost. Every design map should include furniture layouts to scale, color stories using fabric swatches and paint chips and concepts imagery culled from magazines or the net. One of the things that drives me crazy about many TV d-I-y shows is making their audience think they can just start knocking down walls with a sledge hammer without a roadmap or plan. That kind of designing usually ends in a dead-end called Money Pit Boulevard.


Nightview New York, 1932

By Berenice Abbott
Represented by Andrew Ward, Los Angeles

Thursday, August 11, 2011



It's seems most design blogs eventually start a "Before and After" segment within their postings. There are even blogs and facebook sites dedicated solely to "Before and Afters". Someone reclaims an old bucket and turns it into a funky dining room chandelier or repaints an old dresser in shades of Barbie pink and vanilla white for Suzy's tenth birthday bedroom surprise. Well, here goes our entry into the reclaimed, redone and painful rebirthing genre.
There are all sorts of organizations out there willing and hungry to protect the unprotected. Animals and plant life of all shapes and species have a group of guardian angels to look after their welfare. There's the Wildlife Fund, the ASPCA, PETA, the Society of Kind Understanding and Not Killing Skunks (S.K.U.N.K.). It seems every form of animal life, every endangered species, every tree, flower, and rock has a group of people out there willing to raise funds to make sure they're protected. Who hasn't melted at the sight of those sad puppy eyes on the matted mutt peering out from behind a wire cage on an animal rescue commercial? For just five dollars a month you can make sure that little mongrel will be well fed and taken care of well into its dotage. Every cause seems to have its group of advocates. I'm not cold hearted enough not to have fallen for one of these causes. The cause that has pulled at my heartstrings is a little less well-known and has yet to have an official organization attached to its efforts. It's a cause I've been involved in most of my life, ever since I was a young boy. I rescue abandoned furniture. I can't walk away from a curbside find or a trash yard chair left waiting to be reduced to kindling. Like those sad puppy eyes a rickety table left out in the rain makes my heart melt. I can develop an emotional attachment to an inanimate object. It becomes an anthropomorphic process where I see the pain of a gouge on a Queen Anne leg, or the rust on an enamel top table. Their wounds make them all the more endearing and desirable. It's like rooting for the underdog. I was never attracted to complete perfection, if such a thing even existed. My empathy always ran to the reject, the neglected, the imperfect second a manufacturer wouldn't put out on the sale floor but would sell at a discounted price in the back, in the rough room.
At one point the shelves of our daughter's bedroom were lined with one-eyed Eeyores, hand-sewn sock monkeys with dirty feet, and rows of Teddy Bears with ripped arms bandaged with gauze tourniquets. At one point there was entire collection of stuffed animals all lined up missing their plastic noses our dog, Buddy, had chewed off. Their scars of exposed stuffing made them all the more adorable.
This was the lead-in to  how my most recent "Before and After" occurred. It was two days before junk and I had taken a short cut on my way to the Hyvee, our local mid-scale supermarket. You can cut across on Jana Lane and shave about ninety seconds off the trip, but that day my shortcut added time rather than reduced it. That's because I had to circle back around the block three times to look at this vintage cushionless sofa sitting out curbside next to some recycling trashcans. It was love at first, second and third sight. The back, the curved sides, the fringed bottom all tugged at my minds imagination. I reeled at the possibilities. I saw it transformed with vintage linen, contrasting piping and a pleated box skirt brushing the floor and hiding its dainty legs. I tried to tell myself to snap out of it and leave the couch where it was. It wouldn't fit in the trunk of our tiny compact car anyway. I finally pulled myself away from the curb but as I drove on to Hyvee the image of that sofa wouldn't evaporate from my mind. It lingered in my memory seducing me. Later that evening I made Rick and Emmy take a ride by the curb to see if the sofa was still there and to see if they saw what I saw in that sofa. My heart skipped a beat when we turned the corner and I couldn't see the sofa. Then my endorphins took a huge leap when I saw that pea green brocade peak from behind a parked a car that had been obscuring its view. Rick was a little skeptical. Emmy was only embarrassed I might stop and actually try to "steal" someone's junk. I had to leave it on the curb one more time but it's pathetic state refused to leave my imagination. It waltzed through my dreams that entire night.
When I woke up the next morning Charlie Shortino, our NBC weatherman, was hard at work warning of afternoon thunderstorms between segments on ridiculous Wisconsin politics and how to make the perfect pancake. It was the fear of pelting rain and bolts of lightening that tied knots in my stomach. I panicked about that poor sofa soaked and shivering, a prime target for one of those bolts of lightening. All morning I fought the urge to go and cover the sofa with a plastic tarp until providence set in. My sister, Bonnie, had the day off. The day before she asked me to come over to pull up some rhubarb and cut down some lilacs. My sister, Bonnie, had a truck. I sped over to her house and pestered her about the sofa until she insisted, I mean INSISTED, we stop picking rhubarb and go get the sofa. I felt guilty about making her go down Jana Lane as my get-away driver as we, hopefully, kidnapped the pea green sofa. When we got there the sofa was still sitting there waiting to be rescued as the  storm clods were beginning to form. The weather clock was ticking. We parked the truck. Bonnie got at one end of the sofa and I got at the other. Then on the count of three we tried to lift the sofa onto the back of the truck. The sofa proved to be a true vintage piece, solid wood, metal springs and horsehair stuffing. That sofa weighed a ton. But now I was not about to be deterred. We tugged and inched and pleaded and sweated that sofa into the truck bed and on to the top of the cab. We tied it into place with some hemp rope and drove it over to my mom's. That beautiful piece of furniture made it into my mom's garage minutes before that first raindrop splattered against the truck's windshield. Next stop would be the upholsterer's.

After a trip to New York for enough fabric to reupholster a sofa (it seems Madison only buys bolts in ten yard increments - not enough to cover a sofa) we were ready to move the completed sofa into the store, transformation complete. Like a pig's ear turned into silk purse, the cushionless curbside couch was now an elegant sofa bathed in Hollywood glamour.


Satiric Dancer, 1926
By Andre Kertesz
Represented by Gitterman Gallery, NYC

Thursday, August 4, 2011


This is the last installment of my four part series on New York in July (even though we've now entered August and even though we'll be back in New York in less than a week). The four parts of the series are in no particular order and may also break the mold of holding off until the next nearest Thursday to post. Part four is a grab bag of breathtaking pieces, amazing theater, personal desires and one "only in New York" experience. Here goes:

One of the things I left out in my flea market tour was Doug Meyer and his industrial metal work. In the middle of Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, a little more than half way down on the right-hand side Doug has his pieces randomly scattered across an area half covered by a canvas canopy the other half laid out open to the elements. Like a kid drawn to a gleaming playground slide in the middle of a summer's day I lit up with excitement and desire, my eyes reduced to slits from the sun bouncing of their surfaces. As quickly as I reached for one of his consoles my mother's booming voice screamed out, "Don't touch that damn thing you'll burn your weewee off!" You could have fried an egg on the polished surfaces of his sun exposed desks and storage pieces. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but sometimes it's best to hold off touching beauty and let it exist solely as a visual reward.
That aside, there's a kitsch factor in Doug's work that really delights. I never got to meet Doug, maybe just as well as I conjure up the mad inventor pushing a line of grocery carts through the parking lot at Target his eyes popping behind a pair of thick black rimmed glasses his unkempt hair frizzed in a million directions his prized carts marching two-by-two in front of him on their way to their transformation into chic industrial loveseats. I can't think of a better image to portray such a wonderful combination of nerdiness and romanticism at the same time. You can see Doug's work online at

My first night back in New York, itching to get out and suck in the city. For me New York is a walking city. There are too many nooks and crannies missed by a tour guides bus ride through Manhattan, but there's one ride I might think twice about. The heat was still beating off the pavement as I rose through the subway exit at Grand Central. It was just after the sky had lost its final shade of blue. The lights of the city were now the footlights illuminating the stage of 42nd Street transforming everyone walking the street into actors in an unscripted play. We were all unwitting stars creating our own stage directions as we adlibbed our lines and hit our undirected marks. Cue the audience. I had to squint from the glare of the lights in order to make out the audience riding by in a bus. I had to look twice as "The Ride" crept by. "The Ride" is the newest addition to the city's theatrical heritage.
It's right out of Our Town with a narrator sitting off center-stage explaining the action to the audience while the actors continue their roles unaware of his presence. "The Ride's" brick and mortar theater is a bus with one side and the top cut away and covered in glass behind which sits an audience in theater style seating facing out watching the play which is New York City slowly move by. A tour guide perched on a stool narrates their ride spot-lit in a corner of the bus so as to not obstruct their view.
The production on board is far from random. The itinerary is planned out complete with comedy and information from the guides who are all professional actors and to surprise and entertain the riders, along the way are planted street performers singing, dancing and engaging with passers-by who are frequently unexpectedly thrown in front of the klieg lights and coaxed into impromptu performances of their own. The ride is approximately 75 minutes long, costs $65 a seat (there are 48 seats available) and culminates with an international karaoke rendition of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York usually so hilariously amusing that the people on the street stop in their tracks offering a round of applause and cheers of "Encore, Encore!"  Go to for more information.

Original may not be the most descriptive word for Doyle Meuser at 19 Christopher Street, but this store eviscerated my heart right straight through my ribcage and plunked it on their counter as collateral for just one of their suits. Once inside their tiny store you're taken from that West Village threshold and delivered to a space so British your tongue automatically dances with a royal accent. To loosen that tongue the gent behind the desk brings out his bottle of Balvenie single-malt whiskey. The purpose of the swirling cubes in your crystal glass is to not only loosen the British part of your tongue but to strip your wallet as well. Custom suits begin at $3,250. I covet and I don't care.

The process of fitting and building a suit to your exact body shape. The taking of extensive measurements and assessment of a client's posture over a six to ten week period involving three to five fittings and vast quantities of whiskey to attain the perfect nip and tuck of a Doyle  Mueser garment.

Every time I'm in New York I manage a visit to the New York Design Center, 200 Lex to those who know the correct pronunciation of Houston St. (it's house-ton), and that Avenue of the Americas and Sixth Avenue are the same thing. It's a round of going to the showrooms to see what's new and culminating in a good fifteen minutes of design gossip with an old friend, Steven Rappos, showroom manager for Ted Boerner. We were in the middle of catching up with the design community in Madison when Dale floated in impeccably dressed in a tight waisted white and black dress. Her blond hair worn on the long side, nails painted with a clear shiny coat, and black pumps giving a little tipsiness to her walk. It wasn't the perfect pitch of her voice, or proper out-stretch of her delicate hand, it was the shape of age on her face that told the story of person transitioning from one gender to the other leaving her a little bit in between. Clutched in her other hand was her photography portfolio with superbly designed cards and a very expensive looking brochure. Her introduction was brief and her purpose confidently announced. Looking for representation is a difficult task for almost any of us. Putting yourself and your work out there for acceptance or rejection is heart pounding. You had to immediately admire her courage, not only in putting her work out there but knowing that she might face another type of rejection each time she went into a showroom unannounced. Steven and I looked at her work and she left as confident as she had arrived giving us both a card and leaving Steven with one of her beautiful brochures.
After I got home I had to goggle her and her website: Her biography was even more moving than our initial meeting.


Erotic Floral, 2009
By Dale M Reid
Represented by DeLong Gallery, Toronto

Monday, August 1, 2011


I've reached the third part of my four part series on New York in July (even though we've now entered August). . The four parts of the series are in no particular order and may also break the mold of holding off until the next nearest Thursday to post. I'm getting hungry just thinking about this one. I'm no food critic but here's my appraisal of the new food directions in New York City.


Before our trip to New York I had no idea how far ahead of the curve we were at Joy and Steve's wedding. Their donut cake was not only tasty but so au currant. New York's hottest new thing - the doughnut. Not just any doughnut but the gourmet donut, a delicate blend of non-traditional, exotic, and sexy confectionary delights that tickle the roof of your mouth and play culinary games with your mind.
Both of my donut finds were lucky coincidences linked to my flea market scavenger hunting. Just off the F train at 23d Street and on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel is Donut Plant. Opened in February by Mark Isreal, the 23rd Street shop is an expansion of his smaller East Village store. Mark sits on the fence between yeast based and cake based donuts in an effort to not disappoint either type customer. I'm definitely a yeast man. I like the Krispy Kreme, melt-in-your-mouth variety and Mr. Isreal pulls enough of these out of his fry vats to satisfy my cravings. He differentiates his squishy sweets from the now long gone from New York and oh so ordinary Krispy Kremes of yore by using local and organic ingredients without the help of eggs. I don't know if this is supposed to make them healthier but I'm keeping to that premise and no one is going to tell me otherwise. With flavors like Lavender, Crème Brulee and Matcha Green Tea available in both the traditional round and somewhat easier to maneuver square shape these donuts are a must.
Traveling from the Clinton flea on Saturday to the Williamsburg on Sunday the Bedford Bakery, Dough, makes going to the flea a success even if your only purchase is a donut. Clocking in at between $2 and $3 a pop these yeast based (they had me right there) circles of gastronomic genius are worth much more, but please don't tell them that. Dough has made it very clear that the path of culinary success is fried, round and made from yeast. I love em. From their blood orange to their café au lait, from their chocolate with cacao nibs to their Hibiscus, every single inspiration is tastier than the next and I think I tried to taste them all.
These yeast darlings don't have to be served hot like their Krispy Kreme stepsisters to make them irresistible. No. They're perfect anytime of the day you show up to purchase one. Other than their flea market booths you can find them at 305 Franklin Avenue in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. Cupcakes beware, you're old hat now. The donut wars are on and I'm willing to put another notch in my belt to accommodate those doughy irresistible circles and squares

Danny Meyer knows food and fast food is not a genre of food he's about to ignore. His Shake Shacks seem to be multiplying faster than the rabbits in farmer McGregor's garden. I can't even find a current list of all the locations but I know the original and I know it well.
Over the years it's become a tourist destination or at least that's my answer to the continued long lines of multi-nationals waiting for the hamburger juice to start running down their chins or the condensation from their super thick shake to run in tiny rivulets over every knuckle. Nestled under a canopy of trees in Madison Square Park (renovated with the generosity of Mr. Meyer), the outdoor restaurant combines the traditional comfort food of America with the pea gravel and café tables of a Parisian park. At night the sky twinkles with the exact amount of amber glowing bulbs necessary to create perfection.
When we lived on 29th Street the park was only a couple of blocks away, near enough to take Emmy and Buddy, our dog. for little playtime followed by burgers and shakes for us, and a Poochini for Buddy. That European inclusion of humans and animals for an evening of dining out is a rare American experience, except at Danny's. There are probably a half dozen Shack alternatives available in NYC now but none have the ambiance of the original.
I'd assume the lines at the cloned versions are shorter but I'm still willing to take my vibrating announcer, find a comfortable table under the lights, and sit with my crossword puzzle waiting for that tingling in my pocket telling me my bit of heaven is ready to be picked up.

Who would have thought the Toy Building would end up housing a place as unchildlike and sophisticated as Eataly. Then maybe this place has turned many of us into bambinos, kids at a candy store where all of the candy comes from Italy. The Market at Eataly is amazing just by its design. It's discontiguous arrangement of grocery stations sandwiched between eateries and tiny shops makes it unique and inspirational. It's laid out like a tiny Italian village where butchers, local produce vendors, vintners, and cheese shops hold court between cappuccino cafes and seafood restaurants.
The idea for Eataly was the heart's desire of Oscar Farinetti, a self-made electronics entrepreneur, who opened his first Eataly in Turin, Italy in 2007 after having sold off his electronics business. For Eataly New York he has partnered with Mario Batali and the mother and son team of Lidia and Joe Bastianich, all three superstars in the culinary world. The final partner, Slow Food, was founded in Turin by Carlo Petrini as a non-profit organization dedicated to counteract the fast food and even faster life style surge prevalent around the world.
At Eataly you can chose from a vegetable butcher who will wash and trim your vegetables for free, to a class where both the food and language are Italian, to trying to decide between over 100 varieties of olive oil from all over Italy to a veal chop smoked in hay by Chef Michael Toscano at Manzo or a dish of pistachio gelato from Bronte, Sicily from Gelateria. Eataly will be celebrating its first Birthday this month with special parties from August 26th through the 31st. I have a feeling this is a Birthday party you don't want to miss.

"No Skinny Bitches" is the vinyl sign adhered to the front door of Rice to Riches on Spring Street in Nolita. This high-tech version of a baby-boomer's soda fountain serves up a multitude of rice pudding flavors in an environment of bright plastic forms, plasma screen menus and posted platitudes that aren't necessarily directed to an under 16 clientele.
Every aspect of this fast food guilty pleasure has been designed to perfection, from the signage to the takeaway containers and spoons, to the rice pudding itself. Flavors offered are as delicious as they sound: cinnamon sling, old-fashioned romance, and sex drugs and rocky road.
I'm a traditionalist; chocolate chip flirt is my favorite. There is also a selection of toppings you can add to your pudding so skinny bitches beware. If you're going to count calories Rice to Riches isn't for you.


New York City, 1962
by Bruce Davidson
Magnum Photos