I love exploring New York with friends, but every few weeks, I take a solo trip. Without anyone to talk to, the city becomes my focus for the day. Museums are one of my favorite solo stops, and on Saturday, I went to the Guggenheim to see two new exhibitions. The first was Gutai: Splendid Playground, a retrospective of the avant-guarde Gutai art collective in Japan. The rotunda was spanned by giant polyethylene tubes filled with colored water, with each tube climbing higher than the next until they reached the skylight at the center of the ceiling. The rest of the works had a similar playful feel; some were interactive and others were created during artist performances when they would paint with their feet or use small motorized cars to draw chaotic, Pollack-like sketches. Television screens showed recordings of the process by many of the works. The second exhibition was Zarina: Paper Like Skin, a retrospective of the artist’s minimalist prints and other works, including intricate woven paper strips and a huge piece of paper covered in gold leaf. It was the first exhibition I’ve been to where I thought, “I want to hang all of this in my house.” You can see a few examples here.
After the museum, I went to Cha-An Teahouse on the Lower East Side. If you’ve never treated yourself to a full afternoon tea, or just lingered over a meal in a peaceful restaurant on a Saturday afternoon, I highly recommend it. Their afternoon tea set started with two warm rolls made with dough that reminded me of a soft pretzel. One was filled with smoked salmon, cilantro, and mustard, and the other had a sweet strawberry butter spread.
Once I finished the rolls, the sweets arrived. This was the moment I wished for a companion because there was no way I could finish five desserts between sips of my lemon verbena tea. There were two chocolate scones, a chocolate and walnut brownie, a muffin with apple puree and pecans (?), and a banana and/or earl gray sponge cake.
When I go back, I think I’ll skip the full tea set and just get tea and Cha-An’s fabled black sesame creme brulee. I completely missed it on the menu, but post-tea internet research suggests it’s amazing.
After a meditative Saturday, I woke up on Sunday with plans to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Things got a little crazy. Continue Reading →