Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ralph Lauren and More

One of my brother's classic looks is straight out of a Ralph Lauren window. Impeccable, to say the least. Casual British royalty meets classic American aristocrat. Of course, he looked the part, as it should be, walking Madison Avenue. Me, I wore all the black I could conjure up in an outfit. lol. (Looking like I belonged more on 5th than Madison.) I can't, and never could, pull off any fashion styles. Well, perhaps the Laura Ashley dresses in the early 80s; but that was long ago. So be it. I've accepted it and have moved on . . . to black.

Therefore, of course, one of our stops was the Ralph Lauren store(s) (if you can even call them stores). We first went into the smaller Polo sportswear store where we browsed through the sale items (still very steep) and the winter resort wear one would wear, say, in Aspen. Of course, I took lots of pictures of the windows with the wintry outdoors motif. They were very lovely. When we exited and Jim pointed to the mother of all stores across the street, I couldn't believe it. Wow. Now, this is what I'm twalkin' bout.

The Ralph Lauren Mansion, as it is titled, is an 1890s mansion on Madison Avenue that was abandoned way back when. I have never been able to understand how any home, none-the less a mansion on Madison, can "fall into disrepair. " Which is exactly what happened to this gorgeous property until Ralph purchased it in the early 1980s and fixed it up. And fix it up he did. Oy. You must click on the link above and read about it and see the slide show of the inside. The staircase alone made my heart pitter patter.

Of course, the windows outside were beautiful also. The opulence and grandeur of the old-world architecture and details of the entire mansion were breathtaking. Even if all of Lauren's items were removed, the interior could stand on its own. Although, I have to admit, I do love his English-style home decor style. I loved this little nook up on the home furnishings' floor. I felt like sitting down and taking a cup of tea. This little spot was part of the St. Germain Collection (click to view gorgeous videos). All the interior shots in the various videos and stills were taken at the Mansion. And so, you see my excitement in the beauty and magic of it all. Sigh. I purchased a book entitled A Room of Her Own, which I cannot wait to delve into. It had me written all over it and called to me until I finally picked it up and carried it throughout the mansion in my arms while the brother shopped for fabric to cover an old chair he has.

After leaving The Mansion (grin), we headed back down Madison where we spied the Juicy Couture store. My niece Madeleine would think she had died and gone to Juicy heaven if she had been there.

We passed the beautiful Villard Houses (right), now part of the The New York Palace Hotel, previously The Helmsley Palace Hotel made famous by the notoriously nasty Leona Helmsley in the 80s.

It was then a beeline to the Paul Stuart store, another one of my brother's favorite haunts and fashion preference. We spent all kinds of time roaming the floors and he picked up a few items. (Val, I think this tin foil gown could be in order for your next ball. Get out the Reynold's Wrap!)

Strolling down Madison, I spied a shop that I had written down on my little note pad as a possible place to stop. It was a chocolatier named MarieBelle's. A sign on the door said "Best Hot Chocolate in NYC!" It had turned chilly and so we stopped in for a cup. Oooooooof! OMG. It was soooo rich, I kept adding water to it and it never did get drinkable for me. We also ordered the crepes with caramelized bananas and cinnamon. I could barely taste it from the chocolate! But I could tell it was delectable, just the same. I say, skip the hot chocolate and go straight for a piece of chocolate or crepe. I don't think I will ever think of hot chocolate the same. Jim and I had quite a chuckle over it. The chocolates from MarieBelle's are little pieces of art. We both bought a box for friends and we were back on our merry little way. Would we ever eat again? Of course we would. Although, we really didn't need to. Ooooooof.

We finally made it back to the hotel, put our feet up for about an hour and then, yes, headed out again for dinner. We went to the concierge desk and asked for suggestions--within walking distance. She suggested JoJo's, back again to the Upper East Side, a mere 10-12 block walk--but not 20-odd block walk to Ralph Lauren's Upper East Side (not to mention back), thank goodness. I don't think I could have made that schlep again! It was all worth it. We got a table upstairs, which I hear are the best in the place. We had an end table which was right near the front windows. Fab. We received our menus. The brother was like, "OMG." Wha? "This is one of Jean Georges (Vongerichten) restaurant!" He had mentioned the chef's name over and over since he had arrived. Myself, I've never heard of the man, sorry Jean. I'm not quite the gourmand my brother, not by a long shot. Again, it was a magical moment. As if the NYC gods had lined up for us once more to make this trip a most memorable one.

And then, it began. Allow me to set the scene. You can see by the photo (not mine) on the right how intimate the seating is here. And it just so happened that as we sat, the couple asses next to us were being served their dinners. The woman be-otch began her rant. "The food came out way too fast. This is totally unacceptable. I cannot believe how fast the dinner came out. I CAN NOT BELIEVE . . . " Jim and I tried to contain ourselves and continue our conversation but this woman would not end. She went on, no lie, for over ten minutes! The waiters tried as best they could to satisfy her, even taking the food back to the kitchen and bringing it back later--at a more suitable time for her, I suppose. OMG. I have never witnessed such a temper tantrum by an adult in all my days. She was even "herrrrumph"ing and flailing her arms. Poor soul. Must have a horrible life. What gives any person the right to try and embarrass another--this time being the waiters--in order to draw attention to themselves? And over a meal? Puuuuleeeeze. Again, I felt really sorry for them. After they finally left, Jim and I had a good laugh over the entire episode. I'm sure they're ears were ringing. We all should have stood up and applauded their exit. (Shame on me.) No, shame on them. Really now. Tsk tsk. Anyway, we enjoyed our dinner in spite of them.

Our dinner consisted of:
Appetizers (in which we shared):

Fois Gras: Green peppercorn terrine, haricot vert and lemon zest salad
Warm Asparagus: mescaline salad, mushrooms and avocado

Dinner (in which we shared again):
Jim-- Skate with winter vegetables and smoked bacon vinaigrette
Me-- Roasted chicken with ginger, green olives and coriander and chick pea fries

Dessert (we shared):
Warm apple crumble, cardamom ice cream and green apple sorbet
My hat's off to the chef. Now I know Jean Georges! The flavors in each dish were both intense and subtle making each bite an adventure. It was the most delicious fois gras in my life, the chicken had a slight crunch to the skin even though it had a wonderful sauce on it and was as tender as could be. I enjoyed the green apple sorbet (still od'd off the chocolate, I'm afraid) while the brother enjoyed the rest of the dessert. I asked him to make green apple sorbet for next year's Thanksgiving instead of his usual cranberry. Yum.

We enjoyed out stroll back to the hotel, stopping by Bloomies' windows to take a peek without the crowds, ogled over the Ferrari's and Maseriti's in the showroom on Park Avenue and even spotted one of Jim's favorite shoe stores, Belgian Shoes.

Yes, we went back the next morning to both stores. He bought me a pair of shoes, I bought him a new Ferrari. (hehe, I wish I could.)

We ended our trip with lunch at the hotel's restaurant. Beautiful white amaryllis adorned the tables. We found out that next year, the St. Regis will be opening a new restaurant "Adour" with renowned Chef Alain Ducasse. Again, Jim knew the name, I didn't. Which only means, we will have to come back again next year, no?

I jumped in a taxi (now adorned with flowers) to Newark, he strolled back to Bergdorf's. All the way, I reminisced on our wonderful two days in NYC. It was one of the most memorable trips I have ever had. I'm glad though it was only two days. Another day would have killed me (and my aching feet). grin.

I miss ya brutha. Hope you had a wonderful birthday.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful tour! Wow, that dinner must have been gorgeous!



Artsy said...

wow...I love that red Ferrari..did you get one? Your meals sound wonderful. I love exotic sounding food. I'm making a trip to my favorite place to visit (pre-Christmas) in a few days..I'll share pics.

Linda said...

I adore Ralph Lauren. I always wanted to be able to afford his clothing but only had a pair of jeans by him once. I wanted to look like Murphy Brown, that old show on TV, but never really achieved it. It takes money, I guess.



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