Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lowcountry South Carolina

Observations walked the beach of Hunting Island where years of erosion have pushed the shoreline inland, destroying trees and taking beachfront homes with the high tide. Despite the destruction, the beach is hauntingly beautiful, with trees along the shoreline that look like museum-quality sculptures.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harlem Nights: Welcome to the 5 & Diamond

Observations is reporting from Harlem USA at the 5 & Diamond Restaurant, located at 2072 8th Avenue (or Frederick Douglass Blvd.) and 112th Street. Just two blocks from the B and C Train 110th Street station, open the glass doors to dimmed yet warm lighting and a lively bar scene where you're lucky to get a seat. Believe me, it's worth standing. The fully stocked bar offers a specialty menu of 5 drinks called Signature Liquid Creations and snacks, including a full platter of cured ham, thinnly sliced to delight the tongue, with a complimentary dish of olives.

Small plate appetizers ranged from salads to butternut squash risotto and everybody's favorite comfort food, Mac & Cheese with Gruyere and fontina cheese. I tried the Tomato Salad with arugula, basil oil and balsamic granita.

The main courses are your usual meat, seafood, and pasta dishes, but the flavors coming from the kitchen are unique. My dinner companion had the Housemade Pappardelle with lamb ragout, slow roasted tomatoes and fontina cheese. I had the Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with apple wood smoked bacon, sweet corn, wild mushrooms and black mission figs and matched it with a 2008 Mosel St, Riesling.

Only two desserts are available: a chocolate lava cake or New York cheesecake. The 5 & Diamond does not have a Web site, but reservations can be made through Open Table or by calling the restaurant at (646) 684-4662.

After dinner, we trekked up to 120th Street to close out the night and people watch at Chocolat with--what else--a chocolate martini. Chocolat, located on the NW corner of 8th and 120th Street, is a beautiful open space with a neon blue bar that snakes almost the whole length of the restaurant. A separate room is available for private parties.

London Calling

Observations is looking toward London, UK. The amazing debut CD of my super-talented friend, Fred White, under the production name of balam is on sale at An eclectic blend of music genres, every tune is unique and evokes its own mood that will delight the ears and the mind. Funk, jazz, lounge and electronica are all part of the CD that will have you daydreaming, toe-tapping, and head-bopping. My favorite tracks are "Twisted Aberrations," an electonica masterpiece of synchopated rhythms and bass, "Hobble," a hauntingly beautiful track that opens with a blend of melancholic chords from the piano and bass that evolves into a smooth groove, and "4 Floors Up," a toe-tapping, head-bopping tune with great energy that I would describe as cool groove. A great stocking stuffer for the music lover in your family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fulton Street Mall--Gentrification or Progress?

For those of you who have had to suffer through the confusing bus detours to get to downtown Brooklyn, fret no more. Most buses are back on the strip of Fulton Street that cuts through the mall, and just in time for holiday shopping.

At the end of the strip, you will see signs of gentrification or progress, depending on your point of view, when Danny Meyer's Shake Shack takes over Tony's Famous Pizzeria's spot on Fulton and Adams Streets. Tony's, which has been at that corner for over 20 years will move to Bond Street and Fulton.

The facelift is all part of Fulton Mall's push for new business. Some of the names set to join Shake Shack are H&M, Sephora, Filene's Basement and Aeropostale.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Graceland in New York?

Observations from the Hill is back after a 2-year hiatus.

After having my morning coffee at Starbucks in the Union Square area and getting hit on by a guy who claimed to be Pink's choreographer (Fosse?), I made my way to a midtown eatery I'll call "Graceland" to have lunch with Elvis (that's his real name); the bartendar, and L.D.

Grilled shrimp Caesar salad, prosciutto deviled eggs and goat cheese polenta, with glasses upon glasses of Prosecco, followed with a "nightcap" of Amaretto on the rocks.