On the very first page, Manhattan makes an appearance as Nora recalls the crowded Village bar where she met her husband, Charlie, twenty-five years before. From then on, New York City is a powerful presence on nearly every page. Nora had one ambition after college, and that was to live in New York. Her husband, Charlie, however, was more of a country mouse, providing there was a golf course. So Nora was living her dream in a Queen Anne style townhouse on the upper east side on one of the very few dead end streets in New York. A little bit of research led me to an article in Curbed New York called “20 of NYC’s Shortest Streets, Mapped,” where I found #16, Henderson Place between east 86th and 87th. “Henderson Place is a charming cul-de-sac that many New Yorkers have probably never heard of.” Only it wasn’t the actual dream she’d had in college, when spending a weekend at her friend’s parents 5th Ave. apartment. “… and she recalled how, entering Missy’s parents’ duplex from an elevator that opened directly into it, she had seen the living room with its pale yellow sofas and apple-green drapes, Central Park a decorative accent through the enormous windows, and thought, This is what it is like to live in New York.” I, too, have a fantasy of having a penthouse in New York, and I, too, will never realize it. But, I did have the same experience as Nora, years ago, in New York with friends, when my husband and I were included in a dinner invitation to their cousin’s penthouse on 5th Ave. The elevator opened right into their foyer, with the living room and grand view of Central Park behind. We were treated to delicious Chinese take-out and bottles of Veuve Clicquot. He was such a gracious and interesting host! The restaurant was called Our Place China Chalet on E. 79th St. We liked the food so much, we kept going there on subsequent NY trips. Jim remembers having Szechuan eggplant for the first time at the penthouse. He loved it, researched a recipe, and it’s now a staple in our house in the summer when the Japanese eggplant are harvested from the garden.
THE BEAUTY: New York, of course. You either love it or hate it. What is there to love? The energy, the movement, the pace, the bustle – all of that hits you in the face the moment you step out into the street. Learning to walk the sidewalks and not look like a tourist takes some observation and concentration, but when mastered, you feel like you belong. I love the corner bodegas where flowers are sold all year, and we always buy a bunch for the room. The ubiquitous Duane Reade, where in the one on 8th Ave. we saw the unofficial mayor of New York, Fran Lebowitz, on the arm of a very handsome, very tall young man. And of course, the obvious reason to love New York is Broadway! There is no other theater (well, London’s west end is pretty good) but Broadway. And that leads me to the image above, taken on our return walk to the hotel after seeing Side Show at the St. James Theater on New Year’s day a couple of years ago. Aaah, Central Park at night.
At a work luncheon where unknown to Nora, her career path was about to change, Cobb salad was served. “When did Cobb salad become the official lunch food of New York City women?” When, indeed?
For the dressing:
2 T water (optional depending on the desired
degree of oiliness of the dressing)
2 T red wine vinegar
⅛ tsp sugar
½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
⅛ tsp dry English mustard
1 small finely minced garlic clove
2 T extra virgin olive oil
¼ C plus 2 T canola oil
Blend all ingredients together except oils. Add olive and salad oils. Mix well. Blend well again before mixing with salad.
For the salad:
2 C iceberg lettuce
½ bunch watercress (reserve half for garnish)
¾ C chicory
1 C Romaine
2 medium peeled tomatoes
4 strips crisp bacon
2 C rotisserie chicken
2 hard boiled eggs
½ C Roquefort cheese
2 T chopped chives
Cut the greens in bite-size pieces and arrange on 2 plates, reserve half the watercress. Cut tomatoes, bacon, chicken, eggs and avocado in small pieces and arrange, along with the crumbled Roquefort in strips on the greens. Sprinkle with chives and garnish with some watercress. Dress and serve.